Happy Birthday Frank Sinatra

Today is the 99th birthday of Frank Sinatra.  For some reason, I have always been fond of his version of “Stormy Weather” above all others.  It is from the decade he was with Columbia Records in 40’s and early 50’s and just so perfect.  The world is a better place because Frank was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Frank Sinatra
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Singer
BIRTH DATE: December 12, 1915
DEATH DATE: May 14, 1998
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hoboken, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
NICKNAME: The Voice, The Sultan of Swoon, Ol’ Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, forging a career as an award-winning singer and film actor.

Francis Albert “Frank” Sinatra was born December 12, 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey. The only child of Sicilian immigrants, a teenaged Sinatra decided to become a singer after watching Bing Crosby perform. He dropped out of high school, where he was a member of the glee club, and began to sing at local nightclubs. Radio exposure brought him to the attention of bandleader Harry James, with whom Sinatra made his first recordings, including “All or Nothing at All.” In 1940, Tommy Dorsey invited Sinatra to join his band. After two years of chart-topping success with Dorsey, Sinatra decided to strike out on his own.

Between 1943 and 1946, Sinatra’s solo career blossomed as the singer charted 17 different Top 10 singles. The mobs of bobby-soxer fans Sinatra attracted with his dreamy baritone earned him such nicknames as “The Voice” and “The Sultan of Swoon.” “It was the war years, and there was a great loneliness,” recalled Sinatra, who was unfit for military service due to a punctured eardrum. “I was the boy in every corner drugstore who’d gone off, drafted to the war. That was all.”

Sinatra made his movie acting debut in 1943, in Higher and Higher. In 1945, he won a special Academy Award for The House I Live In, a 10-minute short made to promote racial and religious tolerance on the home front. Sinatra’s popularity began to slide in the postwar years, however, leading to a loss of his recording and film contracts in the early 1950s. In 1953, he made a triumphant comeback, winning an Oscar for his portrayal of the Italian-American soldier Maggio in From Here to Eternity. Although this was his first non-singing role, Sinatra quickly found a vocal outlet when he received a new recording contract with Capitol Records in the same year. In his music, the Sinatra of the 1950s brought a more mature sound with jazzier inflections in his voice.

Having regained stardom, Sinatra enjoyed continued success in both film and music for years to come. He received critical acclaim for his performance in the original film of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and an Academy Award nomination for his work in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). Meanwhile, he continued to chart Top 10 singles. When his record sales began to dip by the end of the 1950s, Sinatra left Capitol to establish his own record label, Reprise. In association with Warner Bros., which later bought Reprise, Sinatra also set up his own independent film production company, Artanis.

By the mid-1960s, Sinatra was back on top again. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and headlined the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival with Count Basie’s Orchestra. This period also marked his Las Vegas debut, where he continued on for years as a main attraction at Caesars Palace. As a founding member of the “Rat Pack,” alongside Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, Sinatra came to epitomize the hard-drinking, womanizing, gambling swinger—an image constantly reinforced by the popular press and Sinatra’s own albums. With his modern edge and timeless class, not to mention hits like 1968’s iconic “My Way,” even the radical youth had to pay Sinatra his due. As Jim Morrison of the Doors once said, “No one can touch him.”

After a brief retirement in the early 1970s, Sinatra returned to the music scene with the album “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back” (1973) and also became more politically active. Having first visited the White House in 1944 while campaigning for Franklin D. Roosevelt in his bid for a fourth term in office, Sinatra worked eagerly for John F. Kennedy’s election in 1960 and later supervised JFK’s inaugural gala in Washington. The relationship between the two soured, however, after the president canceled a weekend visit to Sinatra’s house due to the singer’s connections to Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana. By the 1970s, Sinatra had abandoned his long-held Democratic loyalties and embraced the Republican Party, supporting first Richard Nixon and later his close friend Ronald Reagan, who presented Sinatra with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1985.

Frank Sinatra married his childhood sweetheart, Nancy Barbato, in 1939. They had three children together—Nancy (born in 1940), Frank Sinatra Jr. (born in 1944) and Tina (born in 1948)—before their marriage unraveled in the late 1940s.

In 1951, Sinatra married actress Ava Gardner; after they split, Sinatra remarried a third time, to Mia Farrow, in 1966. That union, too, ended in divorce (in 1968), and Sinatra married for a fourth and final time in 1976, to Barbara Blakely Marx, the widow of comedian Zeppo Marx. The two remained together until Sinatra’s death more than 20 years later.

In October 2013, Mia Farrow, made headlines after stating that Sinatra could be the father of her 25-year-old son, Ronan, in an interview with Vanity Fair. Ronan is Farrow’s only official biological child with Woody Allen. Also during the interview, she called Sinatra the love of her life, saying, “We never really split up.” In response to the buzz surrounding his mother’s comments, Ronan jokingly tweeted: “Listen, we’re all *possibly* Frank Sinatra’s son.”

In 1987, author Kitty Kelley published an unauthorized biography of Sinatra, accusing the singer of relying on mob ties to build his career. Such claims failed to diminish Sinatra’s widespread popularity. In 1993, at the age of 77, Sinatra gained legions of new, younger fans with the release of Frank Sinatra Duets, a collection of 13 Sinatra standards that he rerecorded alongside the likes of Barbra Streisand, Bono, Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin.

Sinatra performed in concert for the last time in 1995 at the Palm Desert Marriott Ballroom in California. On May 14, 1998, Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 82 years old and had, at last, faced his final curtain. With a show business career that spanned more than 50 years, Sinatra’s continued mass appeal can best be explained in the man’s own words: “When I sing, I believe. I’m honest.”

Happy Birthday Ellen Burnstyn

Today is the 82nd birthday of Ellen Burnstyn.

ellyn burnstyn

NAME:  Ellen Burstyn
OCCUPATION:  Actress
BIRTH DATE:  December 7, 1932
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Detroit, Michigan
ORIGINALLY:  Edna Rae Gillooly

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Ellen Burstyn played the mother in The Exorcist and earned an Oscar for her role in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

Actress. Born Edna Rae Gillooly, on December 7, 1932, in Detroit, Michigan. Burstyn left home at the age of 18 to work as a model. In the late 1950s, she landed her first regular acting gig, as a dancer on television’s The Jackie Gleason Show, billed as Erica Dean. She made her Broadway debut in 1957 in Fair Game, using the stage name Ellen McRae. She would keep that name for the next 10 years, while working steadily on television (the daytime drama The Doctors in 1964 and the western-themed series The Iron Horse from 1966-68) and in minor film roles (1964’s Goodbye, Charlie).

After changing her name yet again, this time to Ellen Burstyn, she landed what would become her breakthrough role, that of Lois Farrow in The Last Picture Show (1971), costarring Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd. Her performance earned Burstyn her first Academy Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actress. She earned a second Oscar nod this time for Best Actress, two years later, for her role as the middle-aged actress whose daughter (Linda Blair) is possessed by demonic forces in The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin.

In 1974, Burstyn produced and starred in Martin Scorsese’s emotional drama Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a single mother struggling to support herself and her young son. In addition to her triumphs on screen, Burstyn took home a Tony Award in 1975 for her performance opposite Charles Grodin in Same Time, Next Year. She later reprised her role in the 1978 film version, co-starring Alan Alda, and garnered another Oscar nomination in the lead actress category. Her fourth Best Actress nod came just two years later, for Resurrection (1980).

A respected member of both the film and theater community, Burstyn served as the first female president of the Actor’s Equity Association from 1982 to 1985. Also in 1982, she succeeded Lee Strasberg as the co-artistic director (with Al Pacino) of the Actors Studio. Burstyn would serve in the Actors Studio post for the next six years (Pacino stepped down in 1984). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, she also built up a considerable resume of acclaimed television features and series, beginning in 1981 with her Emmy-nominated performance in the fact-based miniseries The People vs. Jean Harris. In addition to such dramatic TV movies as Surviving (1985), Into Thin Air (1985), and the Emmy-nominated Pack of Lies (1987), Burstyn tried her hand at comedy with her own series, The Ellen Burstyn Show (1986-87).

Burstyn went on to play a number of small, if memorable, performances in a variety of more films, including How to Make an American Quilt (1995), starring Winona Ryder, and The Spitfire Grill (1996). In 1998, she was featured as part of the impressive ensemble cast of Playing By Heart, also featuring Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands, and Angelina Jolie. Burstyn plays a woman dealing with her grown son’s battle with AIDS in the film.

In 2000, Burstyn played to a decidedly younger audience with her costarring role opposite teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas in the little-seen Walking Across Egypt. She was also featured in a small role in the crime drama The Yards, starring Mark Wahlberg, James Caan, and Joaquin Phoenix. On the small screen, she was a regular on the new comedy series That’s Life, playing the busybody mother of a grown woman who decides to go back to college to get her degree. By far her crowning achievement of that year, however, was her harrowing portrayal of a woman addicted to diet pills in the edgy, disturbing drama Requiem for a Dream, directed by Darren Aronofsky. The performance earned Burstyn a sixth overall Academy Award nomination, her fifth for Best Actress.

Burstyn continued to juggle film and television projects. She had a recurring role on the cable hit Big Love and earned an Emmy Award in 2009 for her guest appearance on the crime drama Law & Order: SVU. On the big screen, Burstyn has enjoyed roles in such films as Main Street (2010) and Another Happy Day (2011).

In recent years, Burstyn has thrived on the small screen. She appeared in the 2012 television miniseries Political Animals with Sigourney Weaver and Carla Gugino. She won an Emmy Award for her work on the miniseries the following year. In 2014, Burstyn had a supporting role in the television movie Flowers in the Attic, based on the novel by V.C. Andrews. Her unsettling turn as a disturbed grandmother netted her an Emmy Award nomination. That same year, Burstyn had a recurring role on the sitcom Louie.

Burstyn has been married and divorced three times – to poet William C. Alexander (1950-55), director Paul Roberts (1957-59), and actor Neil Burstyn (1960-1971). She and Neil Burstyn adopted a son, Jefferson. Burstyn serves as the co-president of the Actors Studio alongside Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino. She is also the artistic director for the studio’s New York location.

AWARDS
Oscar for Best Actress 1975 for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Golden Globe 1979 for Same Time, Next Year
Tony 1975 for Same Time, Next Year
Actors’ Equity Association President (1982-85)
Jefferson Awards Board of Selectors
Obama for America
Abortion (Mar-1950)
Raped by husband Neil
Tonsillectomy
Irish Ancestry Maternal
Risk Factors: Vegetarian, Psilocybin, Marijuana, Yoga, Tuberculosis

TELEVISION
Big Love Nancy Davis Dutton (2007-11)
The Book of Daniel Dr. Beatrice Congreve (2006)
That’s Life Dolly DeLucca (2000-02)
The Ellen Burstyn Show Ellen Brewer (1986-87)
The Iron Horse Julie Parsons (1966-67)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Interstellar (26-Oct-2014)
The Calling (5-Aug-2014)
Draft Day (11-Apr-2014)
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (2-Nov-2011)
Another Happy Day (23-Jan-2011)
Main Street (21-Oct-2010)
The Mighty Macs (17-Oct-2009)
According to Greta (13-May-2009) · Katherine
PoliWood (1-May-2009) · Herself
The Velveteen Rabbit (27-Feb-2009) · Swan
W. (16-Oct-2008)
The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (12-Sep-2008) · Addie
Lovely, Still (5-Sep-2008) · Mary Malone
For One More Day (9-Dec-2007)
The Stone Angel (12-Sep-2007) · Hagar
The Fountain (4-Sep-2006) · Dr. Lillian Guzetti
The Wicker Man (31-Aug-2006)
Mrs. Harris (16-Sep-2005)
Our Fathers (11-May-2005)
The Five People You Meet in Heaven (5-Dec-2004)
Brush with Fate (2-Feb-2003)
A Decade Under the Influence (19-Jan-2003) · Herself
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (18-Jan-2003) · Herself
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (3-Jun-2002) · Vivi
Dodson’s Journey (10-Jan-2001)
Mermaid (21-May-2000)
Requiem for a Dream (14-May-2000) · Sara Goldfarb
The Yards (27-Apr-2000) · Val Handler
Walking Across Egypt (17-Dec-1999)
You Can Thank Me Later (23-May-1999)
Night Ride Home (7-Feb-1999)
Playing by Heart (30-Dec-1998)
The Patron Saint of Liars (5-Apr-1998)
Flash (21-Dec-1997)
Deceiver (31-Aug-1997) · Mook
A Deadly Vision (21-Apr-1997)
Timepiece (22-Dec-1996)
Our Son, the Matchmaker (8-May-1996)
The Spitfire Grill (24-Jan-1996) · Hannah Ferguson
How to Make an American Quilt (6-Oct-1995) · Hy
The Baby-Sitters Club (18-Aug-1995)
Roommates (3-Mar-1995)
Getting Gotti (10-May-1994)
When a Man Loves a Woman (29-Apr-1994) · Emily
The Color of Evening (1994)
The Cemetery Club (3-Feb-1993)
Grand Isle (9-Sep-1991)
Picture This: The Times of Peter Bogdanovich in Archer City, Texas (7-Sep-1991) · Herself
Dying Young (21-Jun-1991) · Mrs. O’Neil
When You Remember Me (7-Oct-1990)
Hanna’s War (11-Nov-1988)
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (Oct-1987) [VOICE]
Act of Vengeance (21-Apr-1986)
Into Thin Air (29-Oct-1985)
Twice in a Lifetime (9-Sep-1985)
Surviving (10-Feb-1985)
The Ambassador (23-May-1984)
Silence of the North (23-Oct-1981)
Resurrection (6-Sep-1980) · Edna
Same Time, Next Year (22-Nov-1978) · Doris
A Dream of Passion (Aug-1978)
Providence (25-Jan-1977)
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (9-Dec-1974) · Alice Hyatt
Harry and Tonto (12-Aug-1974) · Shirley
Thursday’s Game (14-Apr-1974)
The Exorcist (26-Dec-1973) · Chris MacNeil
The King of Marvin Gardens (12-Oct-1972) · Sally
The Last Picture Show (3-Oct-1971) · Lois Farrow
Alex in Wonderland (17-Dec-1970)
Pit Stop (14-May-1969)
Goodbye Charlie (18-Nov-1964)
For Those Who Think Young (Jun-1964) · Dr. Pauline Thayer

Happy Birthday Harpo Marx

Today is the 126th birthday of Harpo Marx.  We have all seen the brilliant mirror scene that he did with Lucile Ball when I Love Lucy went to Hollywood.  To think that it was almost 20 years after Animal Crackers and he was still at the top of his game.  The world is a better place because Harpo was in it and still feels the loss that Harpo has left.

NAME: Harpo Marx
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Comedian
BIRTH DATE: November 23, 1888
DEATH DATE: September 28, 1964
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
Originally: Adolph Arthur Marx

Best Known For:  Harpo Marx was a talented comedian and mime best known for his performances as part of the Marx Brothers comedy act.

Comedian and actor Marx Harpo was born Adolph Arthur Marx on November 23, 1888, in New York City. The second oldest of five boys born to Samuel “Frenchie” Marx and Minnie Schoenberg Marx, Harpo was the only Jewish boy in his public school class and, after being bullied one too many times, dropped out at age 8.

Harpo and his brothers, Leonard (Chico), Julius (Groucho), Milton (Gummo) and Herbert (Zeppo), performed countless odd jobs while growing up to help support the family. Minnie, however, was bound and determined for her boys to become stars of the stage. In 1910, the Marx Brothers singing troupe was formed, which was originally dubbed the Four Nightingales. Minnie even leased a harp for the occasion for her second eldest, and hence his stage name was born.

In 1912, the Marx Brothers’ singing act devolved to madcap comedy, and the new show became the hallmark of their fame. Because Harpo couldn’t compete with the comedic wits of his brothers, his lines were taken away from him. Though insulted at first, he soon became a gifted mime, particularly in his use of facial expressions and a honking horn. He never spoke professionally again.

The Marx Brothers comedy act was wildly successful, and they eventually made their way to Broadway and in films, including Animal Crackers, Horse Feathers and Room Service. Harpo also traveled the world entertaining troops during World War II and made numerous television appearances.

Harpo married actress Susan Fleming in 1936. The couple adopted four children to whom Harpo was a devoted and loving father. He published his autobiography, Harpo Speaks, in 1961 and died three years later following complications from open-heart surgery.

 

 

Happy Birthday Boris Karloff

Today is Boris Karloff‘s 127th birthday.  I first learned about him through a book I was reading as a kid called “The Three Investigators Mystery of Terror Castle.”  They are a series of books a lot like the Hardy Boys, but set in the Los Angeles area in the 1940’s.  The Terror Castle one is the first in the series and centers around the mysterious goings-on at the abandoned Hollywood mansion of a silent movie monster actor.  Shortly after reading that book, my mom must have shown me one of his movies and I connected them in my head.  The world is a better place because Boris was in it and still feels the loss that Boris has left.

 

NAME: Boris Karloff
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: November 23, 1887
DEATH DATE: February 02, 1969
EDUCATION: London University
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
PLACE OF DEATH: England
Originally: William Henry Pratt

Best Known For:  Boris Karloff was an English-born actor whose name became synonymous with horror movies.

Actor. Film star Boris Karloff, whose name became synonymous with the horror genre, was born William Henry Pratt in London, England, on November 23, 1887. He studied at London University, then went to Canada and the United States, aiming become a diplomat like his father, and became involved in acting.

Karloff spent 10 years in repertory companies, went to Hollywood, appearing in forty five silent films for Universal Studios, among them The Last of the Mohicans, Forbidden Cargo and an installment in the popular Tarzan series. When Bela Lugosi refused to take a role in which he would have his face hidden by makeup and have no lines, the role of The Monster in 1931’s Frankenstein went to Karloff. His tender, sympathetic performance received enormous critical praise and he became an overnight sensation.

“The monster was the best friend I ever had.” – Boris Karloff

Apart from a notable performance in a World War I story, The Lost Patrol (1934), his career was mostly spent in popular horror films. His performances frequently transcended the crudity of the genre, bringing, as in Frankenstein, a depth and pathos to the characterization.

He is also well known for providing the voice to the 1966 cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Karloff was known within the film industry for his great kindness and gentleness of manner; he was also central to the foundation of the Screen Actors Guild. After battling emphysema for a number of years, Boris Karloff died at his home in England on February 2, 1969.

Happy Birthday Rock Hudson

Today is the 98th birthday of the legendary screen heartthrob Rock Hudson.  I once read a recount of how he got his gravely voice.  He was told by movie executives to go up into the mountains and scream until he lost his voice, this damaged his vocal cords in a way that left him with the very low voice he had for his entire career.  I am not sure if it is true, but it is crazy to think that someone would tell a person to do that.  With his legendary good looks and impressive resume of film credits behind him, he publicly announced he had AIDS to the world and took it from being a fringe disease that no one personally knew who had it to being on the cover of People Magazine.  The bravery at the end of his life is an example of true strength of character.  He propelled the image of AIDS mainstream, we all now knew someone with it, it became immediately personal for all of us.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Rock Hudson
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: November 17, 1925
DEATH DATE: October 02, 1985
PLACE OF BIRTH: Winnetka, Illinois
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California
ORIGINALLY: Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.
AKA: Roy Harold Fitzgerald

BEST KNOWN FOR: Rock Hudson was a leading man of the Hollywood screen in the 1950s and 1960s. His death from AIDS in 1985 greatly increased awareness of the disease.

The Wiki:

Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., later Roy Harold Fitzgerald (November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985), known professionally as Rock Hudson, was an American film and television actor, most recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in Magnificent Obsession (1954), Giant (1956) and several popular comedies with Doris Day. Later roles included the leads in Ice Station Zebra and the popular televison series McMillan & Wife along with a role in the hugely successful series Dynasty.

Hudson was voted “Star of the Year”, “Favorite Leading Man”, and similar titles by numerous movie magazines. The 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall actor was one of the most popular and well-known movie stars of the time. He completed nearly 70 motion pictures and starred in several television productions during a career that spanned over four decades.

Hudson died in 1985, being the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness.

Following his death, Elizabeth Taylor, his co-star in the film Giant, purchased a bronze plaque for Hudson on the West Hollywood Memorial Walk.

 

Why He’s a Style Icon

Millions of men would kill for the ability to make women swoon the way Roy Harold Scherer Jr. did on-screen. This actor had the kind of charisma that couldn’t be manufactured. When he changed his name to Rock Hudson, he broke box-office records with his films and TV appearances. But as a child, the actor was never cast for any of the productions that he auditioned for, and he had trouble memorizing his lines. Superstardom didn’t happen overnight. He sent his photos to tons of production companies until he began getting small roles, which led to larger ones. In 1956, he starred in Giant with fellow style icons James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. His performance got him an Academy Award nod for best actor.

Hudson epitomized classic American style making simple choices with embellished impressions. On-screen, he wooed woman with his manly good looks and suave style. He pre-dated the word “swag” but would have done it justice. The height of Hudson’s career spanned two decades, both of which were probably the most important to menswear. The ’50s and ’60s brought rebels and statement looks, but menswear still catered to the classics. Hudson was no different.

The best thing about Hudson was his effortless style. He used very little in order to create a look — his presence on- and off-screen was the wow factor. Menswear wasn’t complicated or overly thought out. This is what the ’50s and ’60s were about. Consumers and designers both believed in grooming, so clean looks were always in order. This actor knew how to take something as simple as a white linen shirt and pair it with light-blue slacks, an early version of what would probably be referred to as espadrilles, and a basic leather belt to create the perfect everyday outfit. If he looked like he didn’t try that hard, it’s probably because he didn’t.

Dress the Rock Hudson Way

Rock Hudson’s style wasn’t complicated. From his choices, it’s evident that the actor believed in keeping everything simple and to the point. His perspective was classic and minimalist. That didn’t necessarily mean all white and no patterns, but the actor let embellishments accent his look without overpowering his perspective. When shopping or browsing through your closet, look for basic pieces that can be dressed up and down — nothing too over-the-top. Ermenegildo Zegna’s cotton-stretch pants are great for a simplistic, chic look. These pants (available in white at Bergdorf Goodman) give you that extra room for breathing and the stretch element can conform to the body, making them slim or baggy depending on how they are worn. Grooming should be clean and trimmed. Hudson’s style was more dapper than rugged.

Happy Birthday Jean Seberg

I do love that a girl from Iowa can become so beloved by the French.  Her story reads like a Greek tragedy:  fame, three husbands, suicide at 40.  Breathless is available on NetFlix/Hulu, you should watch it.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.


Name:  Jean Dorothy Seberg
Born: November 13, 1938 Marshalltown, Iowa, U.S.
Died:  August 30, 1979 (aged 40) Paris, France

Jean Dorothy Seberg was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless (1960), the musical Paint Your Wagon (1969) and the disaster film Airport (1970).

One month before her 18th birthday, this blonde actress landed the title role in Otto Preminger‘s Saint Joan (1957) after a much-publicized contest involving some 18,000 hopefuls. The failure of that film and the only moderate success of her next, Bonjour tristesse (1958), combined to stall Seberg’s career, until her role in Jean-Luc Godard‘s landmark feature, Breathless (1960), brought her renewed international attention. Seberg gave a memorable performance as a schizophrenic in the title role of Robert Rossen‘s Lilith (1964), costarring Warren Beatty. Her two most famous films in America were back to back. The first was the western-musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). The second was Airport (1970), which became the trend setter for “disaster films” of the 1970s.

During this time Seberg became involved in anti-war politics and was the target of an undercover campaign by the FBI to discredit her because of her association with several members of the Black Panther party. Bad press and several personal problems nearly ruined her career, and she only acted in foreign films from then on.  She was found dead of a barbiturate overdose in a Paris suburb on August 30, 1979. She was 40 years old.

Seberg was survived by both of her parents, two younger siblings, three ex-husbands, and a 16-year old son named Diego. In 1970 she gave birth to a daughter named Nina, who was the product of an extramarital affair she had with a college student named Carlos Navarra; Nina died two days after her birth as a result of Jean overdosing on sleeping pills during her pregnancy.

Happy Birthday Marie Dressler

This week is the 146th birthday of Marie Dressler, an amazing character actress.  She is one of those actors that play the mother or the wealthy aunt or the uptight grandmother that is really there to create conflict and contrast between the leading roles, but I end up watching her.  Later in her film career, they would give her these lines, little throw away quips that were so hilarious and I hope she really loved being able to sneak in zingers while the rest of the characters were too caught up in love and so forth to notice.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss since she has left.

NAME: Marie Dressler
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Comedian
BIRTHDATE: November 09, 1868
DEATH DATE: July 28, 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cobourg, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Barbara, California
Originally: Leila Marie Koerber

Best Known For:  Marie Dressler is best known for her acting in the theater and film, winning an Oscar.

Dressler had appeared in two shorts as herself, but her first role in a feature film came in 1914, at the age of 44.  After Mack Sennett became the owner of his namesake motion picture studio, he convinced Dressler to star in his 1914 silent film Tillie’s Punctured Romance. The film was to be the first full-length, six-reel motion picture comedy.  According to Sennett, a prospective budget of $200,000 meant that he needed “a star whose name and face meant something to every possible theatre-goer in the United States and the British Empire.”  The movie was based on Dressler’s hit Tillie’s Nightmare, a choice credited either to Dressler or to a Keystone studio employee.  Dressler herself claims to have cast Charles Chaplin in the movie as her leading man, and was “proud to have had a part in giving him his first big chance.”  Instead of his recently invented Tramp character, Chaplin played a villainous rogue. Silent film comedienne Mabel Normand also starred in the movie. Tillie’s Punctured Romance was a hit with audiences and Dressler appeared in two Tillie sequels and other comedies until 1918, when she returned to vaudeville.

In 1919, during the Actors’ Equity strike in New York City, the Chorus Equity Association was formed and voted Dressler its first president. Dressler was blacklisted by the theater production companies due to her strong stance. Dressler found it difficult to find work during the 1920s. She left New York for Hollywood in search of work in films.

In 1927, Frances Marion, an MGM screenwriter, came to Dressler’s rescue. Dressler had shown great kindness to Marion during the filming of Tillie Wakes Up in 1917, and in return, Marion used her influence with MGM’s production chief Irving Thalberg to return Dressler to the screen.  Her first MGM feature was The Callahans and the Murphys (1927), a rowdy silent comedy co-starring Dressler (as Ma Callahan) with another former Mack Sennett comedienne, Polly Moran, written by Marion.

The film was initially a success, but the portrayal of Irish characters caused a protest in the Irish World newspaper, protests by the American Irish Vigilance Committee, and pickets outside the film’s New York theatre. The film was first cut by MGM in an attempt to appease the Irish community, then eventually pulled from release after Cardinal Dougherty of the diocese of Philadelphia called MGM president Nicholas Schenck.  It was not shown again, and the negative and prints may have been destroyed. While the film brought her to Hollywood, it did not establish Dressler’s career. Her next appearance was a minor part in the First National film Breakfast at Sunrise. She appeared again with Moran in Bringing Up Father, another film written by Marion, and also appeared in an early color film, The Joy Girl. Dressler returned to MGM in 1928’s The Patsy in a winning portrayal, playing the fluttery mother to star Marion Davies and Jane Winton.

Hollywood was converting from silent films, but “talkies” presented no problems for Dressler, whose rumbling voice could handle both sympathetic scenes and snappy comebacks (she’s the wisecracking stage actress in Chasing Rainbows and the dubious matron in Rudy Vallee’s Vagabond Lover). Early in 1930, Dressler joined Edward Everett Horton’s theater troupe in L.A. to play a princess in Ferenc Molnár’s The Swan. But after one week, she quit the troupe. She proceeded to leave Horton flat, much to his indignation.

Frances Marion persuaded Thalberg to give Dressler the role of Marthy, the old harridan who welcomes Greta Garbo home after the search for her father, in the 1930 film Anna Christie. Garbo and the critics were impressed by Dressler’s acting ability, and so was MGM, which quickly signed her to a $500-per-week contract.

A robust, full-bodied woman of very plain features, Dressler went on to act in comic films which were very popular with the movie-going public and an equally lucrative investment for MGM. Although past sixty years of age, she quickly became Hollywood’s number one box-office attraction, and stayed on top until her death at age 65. In addition to her comedic genius and her natural elegance, Dressler demonstrated her considerable talents by taking on serious roles. For her starring portrayal in Min and Bill, with Wallace Beery, she won the 1930–31 Academy Award for Best Actress (the eligibility years were staggered at that time). Dressler was nominated again for Best Actress for her 1932 starring role in Emma. With that film, Dressler demonstrated her profound generosity to other performers. Dressler personally insisted that her studio bosses cast a friend of hers, a largely unknown young actor named Richard Cromwell, in the lead opposite her. This break helped launch his career.

Dressler followed these successes with more hits in 1933, including the comedy Dinner at Eight, in which she played an aging but vivacious former stage actress. Dressler had a memorable bit with Jean Harlow in the film:

Harlow: Do you know that the guy said that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?
Dressler: Oh my dear, that’s something you need never worry about.

Following the release of that film, Dressler appeared on the cover of Time magazine, in its August 7, 1933, issue. MGM held a huge birthday party for Dressler in 1933, broadcast live via radio. Her newly regenerated career came to an abrupt end when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1934. MGM head Louis B. Mayer learned of Dressler’s illness from her doctor and asked that she not be told. To keep her home, he ordered her not to travel on her vacation because he wanted to put her in a new film. Dressler was furious but complied.

Dressler appeared in more than forty films, and achieved her greatest successes in talking pictures made during the last years of her life. Always seeing herself as physically unattractive, she wrote an autobiography titled The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling.

On Saturday July 28, 1934, Dressler died of cancer at the age of 65 in Santa Barbara, California. After a private funeral held at The Wee Kirk o’ the Heather chapel, Dressler was interred in a crypt in the Great Mausoleum in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale in Glendale, California.

Dressler left an estate worth $310,000, the bulk left to her sister Bonita.  Dressler left her 1931 automobile and $35,000 in her will to her maid of twenty years, Mamie Cox, and $15,000 to Cox’s husband Jerry, who had served as Dressler’s butler for four years.  The two used the funds to open the Cocoanut Grove night club in Savannah, Georgia in 1936, named after the night club in Los Angeles.

Dressler’s birth home in Cobourg, Ontario is known as the “Marie Dressler House” and is open to the public. The home was converted to a restaurant in 1937 and operated as a restaurant until 1989, when it was damaged by fire. It was restored but did not open again as a restaurant. It was the office of the Cobourg Chamber of Commerce until its conversion to its current use as a museum about Dressler and as a visitor information office for Cobourg. Each year, the Marie Dressler Foundation Vintage Film Festival is held, with screenings in Cobourg and in Port Hope, Ontario.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Marie Dressler has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1731 Vine Street, added in 1960.

Canada Post, as part of its “Canada in Hollywood” series, issued a postage stamp on June 30, 2008 to honour Marie Dressler.