Happy Birthday William Powell

Today is the 122nd birthday of William Powell.

Annex - Powell, William (After the Thin Man)_01

NAME: William Powell
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: July 29, 1892
DEATH DATE: March 05, 1984
EDUCATION: American Academy of Dramatic Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Palms Springs, California
Full Name: William Horatio Powell

Best Known For:  William Powell was a baritone-voiced actor remembered for playing Nick Charles in The Thin Man films.

By 1936, William Powell was among the top 10 male box office attractions, and four of the five films in which he appeared that year received Oscar nominations, with Powell himself earning a nomination as best actor for his deft performance in the title role of My Man Godfrey. He is best remembered, however, as Nick Charles in The Thin Man series of films.

Happy Birthday Barbara Stanwyck

This week marks the 107th birthday of Barbara Stanwyck.

NAME: Barbara Stanwyck
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Television Actress, Dancer, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: July 16, 1907
DEATH DATE: January 20, 1990
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California
ORIGINALLY: Ruby Stevens

BEST KNOWN FOR: Barbara Stanwyck was an American actress who had a 60-year career in film and TV. Usually playing strong-willed women, Stanwyck defined the femme fatale.

Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress. She was a film and television star, known during her 60-year career as a consummate and versatile professional with a strong screen presence, and a favorite of directors including Cecil B. DeMille, Fritz Lang and Frank Capra. After a short but notable career as a stage actress in the late 1920s, she made 85 films in 38 years in Hollywood, before turning to television.

Stanwyck was nominated for the Academy Award four times, and won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. She was the recipient of honorary lifetime awards from the Motion Picture Academy, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Golden Globes, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Screen Actors Guild, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is ranked as the eleventh greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.

Happy Birthday Fred Gwynne

Today is the 88th birthday of Fred Gwynne.

NAME: Fred Gwynne
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: July 10, 1926
DEATH DATE: July 2, 1993
EDUCATION: Harvard University, New York Phoenix School of Design
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Taneytown, Maryland

BEST KNOWN FOR: Fred Gwynne was an actor known for his roles as Herman Munster on the sitcom The Munsters and as the crusty judge in the film My Cousin Vinny.

Actor. Born Frederick Hubbard Gwynne on July 10, 1926 in New York City, is perhaps best known for his roles in the 1960s sitcoms Car 54, Where Are You? and The Munsters. His father was a successful stockbroker and his mother was a former cartoonist. In 1932, the happy household changed dramatically when Fred’s father died from complications after routine surgery. After high school, the young Gwynne, who stood at a lumbering, rail-thin six-foot, five-inches, enlisted in the Navy and served on a sub chaser during World War II.

Upon his discharge from the Navy, Gwynne attended the New York Phoenix School of Design, then entered Harvard University on the G.I. Bill. There he became president of The Harvard Lampoon, and drew cartoons for the popular periodical, a talent acquired from his mother. However, after performing several of The Hasty Pudding Club‘s farcical productions, the young man with the powerful baritone voice realized his future was upon the stage. Eager to learn his craft, the Harvard graduate joined the Brattle Theater Repertory Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he played a variety of characters in numerous plays.

In 1951, Fred married Jean “Foxie” Reynard, whom he had met through friends. After a successful run as “Bottom” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the young thespian and his new companion headed to New York to pursue bigger and brighter possibilities. Although most casting directors thought he was too tall and unattractive to be a leading man, he landed a supporting role in Mrs. McThing on Broadway, starring Helen Hayes. Gwynne simultaneously worked as a copywriter at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising agency to make ends meet between assignments. For the next five years he juggled his day job with numerous stage and television roles, appearing in such prestigious productions as Studio One, Kraft Theater, and The Phil Silvers Show.

In 1954, the 28-year-old made his film debut with a bit part in On The Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando. Gwynne’s career took another surprising turn when he landed his first major Broadway role in the musical, Irma La Duce. It was during the run of the show that TV producer Nat Hiken hired Gwynne to co-star as Francis Maldoon in the NBC television series, Car 54, Where Are You?. The show was a success, though only ran from 1961-1963.

The Gwynne family now included two children: a daughter named Gaynor and a son Kieron, who was mentally handicapped and required constant care. However Fred’s schedule was demanding and he spent little time at home. He was also writing and illustrating children’s stories and in 1958, Best in Show, the first in a line of successful books, was published.

In 1963, tragedy struck when his youngest son, Dylan, drowned in the family pool, leaving Fred brokenhearted and depressed. While he was still trying to cope with the emotional devastation of his son’s death, NBC canceled Car 54.

However, Gwynne was not out of work for long. In 1964, he was cast in the CBS television series, The Munsters. Portraying Herman Munster, the towering actor (who was required to wear five-inch platform boots) transformed the traditional Frankenstein monster into a lovable and hysterically funny character that was popular with both adults and children. Jack Gould of The New York Times wrote that “there is not the slightest question that Mr. Gwynne, superbly made up as Frankenstein, is the whole show.” However, by 1966, The Munsters was losing a ratings war with the popular series, Batman. Universal Pictures fought back with a feature-length color film, Munster, Go Home, which bombed at the box office. The series was then taken off the air, to little protest.

After the demise of The Munsters, Gwynne’s career came to a screeching halt. TV and movie producers were afraid to hire him, believing audiences would only see the fumbling Herman Munster, which left Gwynne frustrated and bitter. However, he continued to find success with children’s books, which now included such classics as God’s First World, A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, and A Little Pigeon Toad. He appeared in a string of failed television pilots and a few TV movies, including The Littlest Angel and Arsenic and Old Lace.

Gwynne returned to the stage and won critical acclaim as Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Ashley. Other successful stage roles included Claudis in Hamlet and the stage manager in Our Town. In 1976, he won an Obie Award for his performance in the off-Broadway play, Grand Magic.

Gwynne also made a comeback to the big screen with a small role in Bernardo Bertolucci’s haunting drama, Luna, starring Jill Clayburgh. He eventually began to make appearances in such A-list films as Ironweed with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, and The Cotton Club starring Richard Gere. In 1981, he returned to the role that he had fought so hard to leave behind–Herman Munster in the TV movie, Munster’s Revenge.

Gwynne continued to appear in supporting roles, the highlight being his turn as the comic foil for Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei in 1992’s My Cousin Vinny. After forty years of working non-stop, Gwynne decided to put his film career on the back burner. He and his wife, Deborah, purchased a farm in rural Maryland and the actor only accepted work as a voice-over artist in radio and television commercials.

Just one year into his tranquil, new life, Gwynne was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died on July 2, 1993, at the age of 66.

Happy Birthday Eva Marie Saint

Tomorrow is the 90th birthday of Eva Marie Saint.  If ever asked to pick my favorite “Hitchcock Blonde,” I would have a very hard time picking just one. Eva Marie Saint is one of them for sure, maybe the first. Her cool sexiness in North by Northwest is par none. My sister and I must have watched that film at least 25 times after school, it was the beginning of my obsession with Mid Century everything and that amazing Paramount VistaVision! You should also watch On The Waterfront to truly see her range, it is her first film and beyond legendary.

Born July 4, 1924  Newark, New Jersey, United States
Occupation: Actress

Eva Marie Saint (born July 4, 1924) is an American actress who has starred in films, on Broadway, and on television in a career spanning seven decades. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama film On the Waterfront (1954), and later starred in the thriller film North by Northwest (1959), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Saint received Golden Globe and BAFTA award nominations for the drama film A Hatful of Rain (1957) and won an Emmy Award for the television miniseries People Like Us (1990). Her film career also includes roles in Raintree County (1957), Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), and Superman Returns (2006).

Saint’s first feature-film role, at age 30, was in On the Waterfront (1954), directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando – a performance for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her role as Edie Doyle (whose brother’s death sets the film’s drama in motion), which she won over such leading contenders as Claire Trevor, Nina Foch, Katy Jurado, and Jan Sterling also earned her a British Academy of Film and Television Award nomination for “Most Promising Newcomer.” In his New York Times review, film critic Bosley Crowther wrote:

“In casting Eva Marie Saint – a newcomer to movies from TV and Broadway – Mr. Kazan has come up with a pretty and blond artisan who does not have to depend on these attributes. Her parochial school training is no bar to love with the proper stranger. Amid scenes of carnage, she gives tenderness and sensitivity to genuine romance.”

 

In a 2000 interview in Premiere magazine, Saint recalled making the hugely influential film:

“[Elia] Kazan put me in a room with Marlon Brando. He said ‘Brando is the boyfriend of your sister. You’re not used to being with a young man. Don’t let him in the door under any circumstances’. I don’t know what he told Marlon; you’ll have to ask him – good luck! [Brando] came in and started teasing me. He put me off-balance. And I remained off-balance for the whole shoot.”

The film was a major success and launched Saint’s movie career. She starred with Don Murray in the pioneering drug-addiction drama, A Hatful of Rain (1957), for which she received a nomination for the “Best Foreign Actress” award from the British Academy of Film and Television, and the lavish Civil War epic Raintree County (also 1957) with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.

Director Alfred Hitchcock surprised many by choosing Saint over dozens of other candidates for the femme fatale role in what was to become a suspense classic North by Northwest (1959) with Cary Grant and James Mason. Written by Ernest Lehman, the film updated and expanded upon the director’s early “wrong man” spy adventures of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, including The 39 Steps, Young and Innocent, and Foreign Correspondent. North by Northwest became a box-office hit and an influence on spy films for decades. The film ranks number forty on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.

At the time of the film’s production, much publicity was gained by Hitchcock’s decision to cut Saint’s waist-length blonde hair for the first time in her career. Hitchcock explained at the time, “Short hair gives Eva a more exotic look, in keeping with her role of the glamorous woman of my story. I wanted her dressed like a kept woman – smart, simple, subtle and quiet. In other words, anything but the bangles and beads type.” The director also worked with Saint to make her voice lower and huskier and even personally chose costumes for her during a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.

The change in Saint’s screen persona, coupled with her adroit performance as a seductive woman of mystery who keeps Cary Grant (and the audience) off-balance, was widely heralded. In his New York Times review of August 7, 1959, critic Bosley Crowther wrote, “In casting Eva Marie Saint as [Cary Grant's] romantic vis-a-vis, Mr. Hitchcock has plumbed some talents not shown by the actress heretofore. Although she is seemingly a hard, designing type, she also emerges both the sweet heroine and a glamorous charmer.” In 2000, recalling her experience making the picture with Cary Grant and Hitchcock, Saint said, “[Grant] would say, ‘See, Eva Marie, you don’t have to cry in a movie to have a good time. Just kick up your heels and have fun.’ Hitchcock said, ‘I don’t want you to do a sink-to-sink movie again, ever. You’ve done these black-and-white movies like On the Waterfront. It’s drab in that tenement house. Women go to the movies, and they’ve just left the sink at home. They don’t want to see you at the sink.’ I said, ‘I can’t promise you that, Hitch, because I love those dramas.'”

She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for motion pictures at 6624 Hollywood Boulevard, and television at 6730 Hollywood Boulevard.

Happy Birthday Bob Hope

Tomorrow is the 111th birthday of Bob Hope. For a man that was lucky enough to live to be 100, he packed in 200 years of living.

NAME: Bob Hope
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: May 29, 1903
DEATH DATE: July 27, 2003
PLACE OF BIRTH: Eltham, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Toluca Lake, California
ORIGINALLY: Leslie Townes Hope

Best Known For:  Bob Hope was a entertainer and comic actor, known for his rapid-fire delivery of jokes and for his success in virtually all entertainment media.

Born in 1903, Bob Hope was a British-born American entertainer and comic actor known for his rapid-fire delivery of jokes and one-liners, as well as his success in virtually all entertainment media and his decades of overseas tours to entertain American troops. Hope received numerous awards and honors for his work as an entertainer and humanitarian. He died on July 27, 2003.

Born as Leslie Townes Hope in 1903, Bob Hope reigned as the king of American comedy for decades. He started out his life, however, across the Atlantic. Hope spent his first years of life in England, where his father worked as a stonemason. In 1907, Hope came to the United States and his family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. His large family, which included his six brothers, struggled financially in Hope’s younger years, so Hope worked a number of jobs, ranging from a soda jerk to a shoe salesman, as a young man to help ease his parents’ financial strain.

Hope’s mother, an aspiring singer at one time, shared her expertise with Bob. He also took dancing lessons and developed an act with his girlfriend, Mildred Rosequist ,as a teenager. The pair played local vaudeville theaters for a time. Bitten by the showbiz bug, Hope next partnered up with friend Lloyd Durbin for a two-man dance routine. After Durbin died on the road of food poisoning, Hope joined forces with George Byrne. Hope and Byrne landed some work with film star Fatty Arbuckle and made it to Broadway in Sidewalks of New York in 1927.

By the early 1930s, Hope had gone solo. He attracted widespread notice for his role in the Broadway musical Roberta, which showcased his quick wit and superb comic timing. Around this time, Hope met singer Dolores Reade. The pair married in 1934. He again showed off his comedic talents in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. Later that year, Hope landed a leading part in Red, Hot and Blue, with Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante.

In 1937, Hope landed his first radio contract. He got his own show the following year, which became a regular feature on Tuesday nights. Week after week, listeners tuned in to hear Hope’s snappy one-liners and wisecracks. He became one of radio’s most popular performers, and stayed on the air until the mid-1950s.

In the late 1930s, Hope made the jump to feature films. His first major role came in The Big Broadcast of 1938, in which he sang “Thanks for the Memory” with Shirley Ross. The song became his trademark tune. The following year, Hope starred in The Cat and the Canary, a hit comedic mystery. He played a sharp, smart-talking coward in this haunted house tale—a type of character he would play numerous times over his career.

In 1940, Hope made his first film with popular crooner Bing Crosby. The pair starred together as a pair of likeable con artists in The Road to Singapore with Dorothy Lamour playing their love interest. The duo proved to be box office gold. Hope and Crosby, who remained lifelong friends, made seven Road pictures together.

On his own and with Crosby, Hope starred in numerous hit comedies. He was one of the top film stars throughout the 1940s, with such hits as 1947’s western spoof The Paleface. Hope was often called upon to use his superior ad-lib skills as the host of Academy Awards. While he never won an Academy Award for his acting, Hope received several honors from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the years.

While his film career began to ebb in the 1950s, Hope enjoyed a new wave of success on the small screen. He starred in his first television special on NBC in 1950. His periodic specials became a long-standing feature on the network, managing to earn impressive ratings with each new show over a 40-year time span. Nominated several times over the years, Hope won an Emmy Award in 1966 for one of his Christmas specials.

During World War II, Hope began to regularly take time out of his film and television career to entertain American soldiers. He started out with a radio show he did at a California air base in 1941. Two years later, Hope traveled with USO performers to bring the laughs to military personnel overseas, including stops in Europe. He also went to the Pacific front the following year. In 1944, Hope wrote about his war experiences in I Never Left Home.

While he and his wife Dolores had four children of their own, they spent many of their Christmases with the troops. Vietnam was one of his most frequent holiday stops, visiting the country nine times during the Vietnam War. Hope took a break from his USO efforts until the early 1980s. He resumed his comedic mission with a trip to Lebanon in 1983. In the early 1990s, Hope went to Saudi Arabia to cheer on the soldiers who were engaged in the First Gulf War.

Hope traveled the world on behalf of the country’s servicemen and women, and received numerous accolades for his humanitarian efforts. His name was even placed on ships and planes. Perhaps the greatest honor, however, came in 1997: U.S. Congress passed a measure to make Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. military service for his goodwill work on behalf of American soldiers.

By the late 1990s, Hope had become one of the most honored performers in entertainment history. He received more than 50 honorary degrees in his lifetime, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center in 1985, a Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1995 and a British knighthood in 1998. The British-born Hope was especially surprised by the honorary knighthood, saying, “I’m speechless. Seventy years of ad-lib material and I’m speechless.”

Around this time, Hope donated his papers to the Library of Congress. He handed over his joke files, which he had kept in special file cabinets in a special room of his Lake Taluca, California home. These jokes—accumulating more than 85,000 pages of laughs—represented the work of Hope and the numerous writers that he kept on staff. At one point, Hope had 13 writers working for him.

In 2000, Hope attended the opening of the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In the following years, he became increasingly frail. Hope quietly celebrated his 100th birthday in May of 2003, at his Taluca Lake home. There, he died of pneumonia on July 27, 2003.

President George W. Bush hailed Hope as “a great citizen” who “served our nation when he went to battlefields to entertain thousands of troops from different generations.” Jay Leno also praised Hope’s remarkable gifts: “impeccable comic timing, an encyclopedic memory of jokes and an effortless ability with quips.”

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Happy Birthday Jimmy Stewart

Yesterday was the 106th birthday of Jimmy Stewart.  Chances are that one of your favorite classic movies also happens to be one of his.  Some of my favorites of his are:  After The Thin Man, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Philadelphia Story, Rear Window and  The Man Who Knew Too Much.  I could have gone on naming more, I could have just copied his IMDB listings and it would have been accurate.

NAME:  Jimmy Stewart
OCCUPATION:  Film Actor, Theater Actor
BIRTH DATE:  May 20, 1908
DEATH DATE:  July 2, 1997
EDUCATION:  Princeton University
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Indiana, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH:  Beverly Hills, California

Best Known For: Jimmy Stewart was a major motion-picture star known for his portrayals of diffident but morally resolute characters in films such as It’s a Wonderful Life.

One of film’s most beloved actors, Jimmy Stewart made more than 80 films in his lifetime. He was known for his everyman quality, which made him both appealing and accessible to audiences. Stewart grew up in the small town of Indiana, Pennsylvania, where his father operated a hardware store.

Stewart got his first taste of performing during his time as a young man. At Princeton University, he acted in shows as a member of the Triangle Club, which put on shows. Stewart earned a degree in architecture in 1932, but he never practiced the trade. Instead he joined the University Players in Falmouth, Massachusetts, the summer after he graduated. There Stewart met fellow actor Henry Fonda, who became a lifelong friend.

That same year, Stewart made his Broadway debut in Carrie Nation. The show didn’t fare well, but he soon found more stage roles. In 1935, Stewart landed a movie contract with MGM and headed out west.

In his early Hollywood days, Stewart shared an apartment with Henry Fonda. The tall, lanky actor worked a number of films before co-starring with Eleanor Powell in the 1936 popular musical comedy Born to Dance. The movie featured the Cole Porter hit “Easy to Love.” Another career breakthrough came with Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You (1938). This comedy won an Academy Award for Best Picture, and made Stewart a star.

Stewart also played the lead in Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). In this film, he portrayed a young, idealistic politician who takes on corruption. Stewart received his first Academy Award nomination for this film. The following year, he took home Oscar gold for The Philadelphia Story. Stewart co-starred with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, two other major movie stars, in the romantic comedy.

From 1941 to 1946, Stewart took a break from his acting career to serve in World War II. He joined the U.S. Air Force and rose up through the ranks to become a colonel by war’s end. In 1946, Stewart returned to the big screen with It’s a Wonderful Life directed by Frank Capra. This film tells the story about a man brought back from the verge of suicide by a guardian angel and visions of the world without him. It was a disappointment at the box office, but it became a holiday favorite over the years. Stewart reportedly considered it to be one of his favorite films.

Stewart soon starred in Harvey (1950), a humorous movie about a man with an imaginary rabbit for a friend. But he seemed to be less interested in doing this type of lighthearted film in his later career. Stewart sought out grittier fare after the war, appearing in Anthony Mann’s westerns Winchester ’73 (1950) and Broken Arrow (1950). He also became a favorite of director Alfred Hitchcock, who cast in several thrillers. They first worked together on Rope (1948). Vertigo (1958) is considered by many to be Hitchcock’s masterpiece and one of Stewart’s best performances. The following year, Stewart also won rave reviews for his work in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder.

In the 1970s, Stewart made two attempts at series television. He starred on The Jimmy Stewart Show, a sitcom, which ran from 1971 to 1972. The following year, he switched to drama with Hawkins. Stewart played a small-town lawyer on the show, which proved to be short-lived. Around this time, he also made a few film appearances. Stewart worked opposite John Wayne, Lauren Bacall and Ron Howard in the 1976 western The Shootist.

Stewart became the recipient of numerous tributes during the 1980s for his substantial career. In 1984, Steward picked up an honorary Academy Award “for his high ideals both on and off the screen.” By the 1990s, Stewart had largely stepped out of the public eye. He was deeply affected by the death of his wife Gloria in 1994. The couple had been married since 1949 and had twin daughters together. He also became a father to her two sons from a previous marriage. Jimmy and Gloria Stewart were one of Hollywood’s most enduring couples, and his apparent love and commitment to her added to his reputation as an upstanding and honorable person.

Poor health plagued Stewart in his final years. He died on July 2, 1997, in Beverly Hills, California. While he may be gone, his movies have lived on and inspired countless other performers. Stewart’s warmth, good humor and easy charm have left a lasting impression on American pop culture.

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Happy Birthday Tyrone Power

NAME: Tyrone Power
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor
BIRTH DATE: May 5, 1914
DEATH DATE: November 15, 1958
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cincinnati, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Madrid, Spain

Actor Tyrone Power was born on May 5, 1914, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Power was a descendant of a long line of theatrical actors: his great grandfather was a 19th century comedian; his father, Tyrone Power Sr., was a London stage actor; while his mother, Helen Emma Raeume (stage name Patia Power), often acted opposite her husband in Shakespearean productions.

Power spent his childhood frequently traveling from Hollywood to New York, due to his parents’ various film and stage engagements. Tyrone Power inherited their love of theatre and spent his early teens being coached by his mother.

During the early 1930s, Power toured with a Shakespeare repertory company and secured several minor film roles, making his debut in Tom Brown of Culver (1932). He gained a foothold in the theatre when he debuted in the 1935 Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet. He received positive reviews, and shortly after, 20th Century Fox signed him to a seven-year contract. Power’s first effort with the studio was in the costume drama Lloyd’s of London (1936). His performance exceeded all expectations, and that same year he was featured in Ladies in Love and Girls’ Dormitory.

Power maintained his popularity over the next few years with roles ranging in scope from a conniving playboy in Cafe Metropole (1937), to an indignant bandleader in Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938), to a notorious outlaw in Jesse James (1939). Power also received attention with commanding performances in The Mark of Zorro (1940) and The Black Swan (1942).

After an impressive start, Power’s career was put on hold when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he served from 1942-’46. Upon his discharge, he was welcomed back by Hollywood with a starring role in the film adaptation of the philosophical novel The Razor’s Edge (1946), followed by the highly original melodrama Nightmare Alley (1947), and the costume epic Prince of Foxes (1949).

During the 1950s, Power continued to take on roles in period pieces such as The Black Rose (1950) and King of the Khyber Rifles (1953). In addition to his trademark adventure films, he was also distinguished by the onscreen chemistry he shared with some of Hollywood’s leading actresses. Among the most notable were his pairings with Susan Hayward in the adventure feature Untamed (1955) and with Marlene Dietrich in Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution (1957).

Throughout his career, Power moved between screen and stage projects. In the years before his death, he had steady successes on Broadway in Mr. Roberts (1950), The Devil’s Disciple (1950), John Brown’s Body (1952), The Dark is Light Enough (1955) and Back to Methuselah (1958).

Although Power considered himself first and foremost a stage actor, his films are the medium that propelled him to stardom. Nevertheless, throughout his life the matinee idol fought for recognition as a serious dramatic actor.

On November 11, 1958, Power died of a heart attack in Madrid, Spain, while shooting the film Solomon and Sheba. He was 44 years old.

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Happy Birthday Bette Davis

Today is the 109th birthday of Bette Davis.  You have seen All About Eve, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, and maybe even Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and The Nanny.  But have you seen Madame Sin, Return From Witch Mountain or her episode of To Catch a Thief?  You must.

“But you ARE, Blanche. You ARE in that chair.”

NAME: Bette Davis
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: April 05, 1908
DEATH DATE: October 06, 1989
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lowell, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Bette Davis is one of Hollywood’s most famous leading ladies, whose raw, unbridled intensity kept her at the top of her profession for 50 years.

Ruth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989) was an American actress of film, television and theater. Noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, she was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional comedies, although her greatest successes were her roles in romantic dramas.

After appearing in Broadway plays, Davis moved to Hollywood in 1930, but her early films for Universal Studios were unsuccessful. She joined Warner Bros. in 1932 and established her career with several critically acclaimed performances. In 1937, she attempted to free herself from her contract and although she lost a well-publicized legal case, it marked the beginning of the most successful period of her career. Until the late 1940s, she was one of American cinema‘s most celebrated leading ladies, known for her forceful and intense style. Davis gained a reputation as a perfectionist who could be highly combative, and confrontations with studio executives, film directors and costars were often reported. Her forthright manner, clipped vocal style and ubiquitous cigarette contributed to a public persona which has often been imitated and satirized.

Davis was the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen, and was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, was the first person to accrue 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Her career went through several periods of eclipse, and she admitted that her success had often been at the expense of her personal relationships. Married four times, she was once widowed and thrice divorced, and raised her children as a single parent. Her final years were marred by a long period of ill health, but she continued acting until shortly before her death from breast cancer, with more than 100 films, television and theater roles to her credit. In 1999, Davis was placed second, after Katharine Hepburn, on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of all time.

In 1964, Jack Warner spoke of the “magic quality that transformed this sometimes bland and not beautiful little girl into a great artist”, and in a 1988 interview, Davis remarked that, unlike many of her contemporaries, she had forged a career without the benefit of beauty.[83] She admitted she was terrified during the making of her earliest films and that she became tough by necessity. “Until you’re known in my profession as a monster, you are not a star”, she said, “[but] I’ve never fought for anything in a treacherous way. I’ve never fought for anything but the good of the film.” During the making of All About Eve, (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz told her of the perception in Hollywood that she was difficult, and she explained that when the audience saw her on screen, they did not consider that her appearance was the result of numerous people working behind the scenes. If she was presented as “a horse’s ass … forty feet wide, and thirty feet high”, that is all the audience “would see or care about”.

While lauded for her achievements, Davis and her films were sometimes derided; Pauline Kael described Now, Voyager (1942) as a “shlock classic”, and by the mid-1940s her sometimes mannered and histrionic performances had become the subject of caricature. Edwin Schallert for the Los Angeles Times praised Davis’s performance in Mr. Skeffington (1944), while observing, “the mimics will have more fun than a box of monkeys imitating Miss Davis“, and Dorothy Manners at the Los Angeles Examiner said of her performance in the poorly received Beyond the Forest (1949), “no night club caricaturist has ever turned in such a cruel imitation of the Davis mannerisms as Bette turns on herself in this one”. Time magazine noted that Davis was compulsively watchable even while criticizing her acting technique, summarizing her performance in Dead Ringer (1964) with the observation, “her acting, as always, isn’t really acting: it’s shameless showing off. But just try to look away!”

She attracted a following in the gay subculture and was frequently imitated by female impersonators such as Tracey Lee and Charles Pierce.[89] Attempting to explain her popularity with gay audiences, the journalist Jim Emerson wrote, “Was she just a camp figurehead because her brittle, melodramatic style of acting hadn’t aged well? Or was it that she was ‘Larger Than Life,’ a tough broad who had survived? Probably some of both.”

Her film choices were often unconventional; she sought roles as manipulators and killers in an era when actresses usually preferred to play sympathetic characters, and she excelled in them. She favored authenticity over glamour and was willing to change her own appearance if it suited the character. Claudette Colbert commented that Davis was the first actress to play roles older than herself, and therefore did not have to make the difficult transition to character parts as she aged.

As she entered old age, Davis was acknowledged for her achievements. John Springer, who had arranged her speaking tours of the early 1970s, wrote that despite the accomplishments of many of her contemporaries, Davis was “the star of the thirties and into the forties”, achieving notability for the variety of her characterizations and her ability to assert herself, even when her material was mediocre. Individual performances continued to receive praise; in 1987, Bill Collins analyzed The Letter (1940), and described her performance as “a brilliant, subtle achievement”, and wrote, “Bette Davis makes Leslie Crosbie one of the most extraordinary females in movies.” In a 2000 review for All About Eve, (1950) Roger Ebert noted, “Davis was a character, an icon with a grand style, so even her excesses are realistic.”[92] In 2006, Premiere magazine ranked her portrayal of Margo Channing in the film as fifth on their list of “100 Greatest Performances of All Time”, commenting, “There is something deliciously audacious about her gleeful willingness to play such unattractive emotions as jealousy, bitterness, and neediness.” While reviewing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) in 2008, Ebert asserted that “no one who has seen the film will ever forget her.”

A few months before her death in 1989, Davis was one of several actors featured on the cover of Life magazine. In a film retrospective that celebrated the films and stars of 1939, Life concluded that Davis was the most significant actress of her era, and highlighted Dark Victory (1939) as one of the most-important films of the year. Her death made front-page news throughout the world as the “close of yet another chapter of the Golden Age of Hollywood”. Angela Lansbury summed up the feeling of those of the Hollywood community who attended her memorial service, commenting after a sample from Davis’s films were screened, that they had witnessed “an extraordinary legacy of acting in the twentieth century by a real master of the craft”, that should provide “encouragement and illustration to future generations of aspiring actors”.

In 1977, Davis became the first woman to be honored with the AFI Life Achievement Award. In 1999, the American Film Institute published its list of the “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Stars“, which was the result of a film-industry poll to determine the “50 Greatest American Screen Legends” in order to raise public awareness and appreciation of classic film. Of the 25 actresses listed, Davis was ranked at number two, behind Katharine Hepburn.

The United States Postal Service honored Davis with a commemorative postage stamp in 2008, marking the 100th anniversary of her birth. The stamp features an image of her in the role of Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950). The First Day of Issue celebration took place September 18, 2008, at Boston University, which houses an extensive Bette Davis archive. Featured speakers included her son Michael Merrill and Lauren Bacall.

In 1997, the executors of her estate, Michael Merrill, her son, and Kathryn Sermak, her former assistant, established “The Bette Davis Foundation” which awards college scholarships to promising actors and actresses.

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Happy Birthday Dorothy Gish

Dorothy-Gish 1

NAME: Dorothy Gish
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: March 11, 1898
DEATH DATE: June 04, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH: Dayton, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Rapallo, Liguria, Italy
FULL NAME: Dorothy Elizabeth Gish

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dorothy Gish, younger sister of actress Lillian Gish, was a film actress in the first half of the 20th century.

Actress Dorothy Elizabeth Gish was born on March 11, 1898, in Dayton, Ohio. Though many saw her as the less-celebrated younger sister of the famous Lillian Gish, Dorothy was an adept comedian who went on to star in more than 100 short films and features.

Her father, James Leigh Gish, was a candy maker who eventually abandoned the family after his business failed. Her mother, Mary Robinson McConnell, took up acting to support the family, using the stage name Mae. Dorothy Gish and her older sister, Lillian, soon followed their mother onto the stage. Dorothy began performing at the age of 4, appearing as a boy in a production of East Lynne.

Mary, Dorothy and Lillian Gish spent years working on theatrical tours, sometimes together on the same show and other times working on different productions. When not with their mother, the Gish girls were looked after by theatrical friends and associates. During their off-season, Dorothy and her family would spend time in Massillon, Ohio, with her mother’s sister.

In addition to acting, Mary Gish rented out rooms in the family’s New York apartment—this is how Dorothy and her sister met future film star Mary Pickford, who was originally known as Gladys Smith. Years later, the Gish sisters approached Pickford after she began appearing in movies by D.W. Griffith. Pickford introduced them to Griffith, which soon led to their film debut. Dorothy was 14 years old when she and Lillian appeared in An Uneasy Enemy.

Both Dorothy and Lillian Gish enjoyed huge success in film; Dorothy distinguished herself as a fine comedic performer while her sister usually tackled more dramatic roles. Dorothy became known as one of the busiest actresses of the silent-film era, making more than 60 movies during the first few years of her career. Sadly, many of her early works have been lost.

Dorothy Gish made several memorable films as a young woman, including 1918’s Hearts of the World with her sister; her comic turn as Little Disturber in this movie earned her great praise. More humorous roles soon followed, including in Battling Jane (1918) and The Hope Chest (1919). With her sister directing, Dorothy starred opposite James Rennie in the popular 1920 comedy Remodeling Her Husband. Later that year, she married Rennie.

The following year, Dorothy showed off her dramatic talents: She played a blind woman in Orphans of the Storm (1921), co-starring with her sister. Dorothy made her last film with Lillian, Romola, in 1924.

After the film industry converted to talking pictures, Gish transitioned back to the stage. By this time, she was an enormous star and her performances drew large, eager crowds. Notable stage performances include 1928’s Young Love, directed by George Cukor.

For much of the 1930s and ’40s, Gish focused primarily on stage work. She and her husband divorced in 1935.

Gish returned to film in 1944 with a supporting role in Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. Two years later, she appeared in Centennial Summer. But for Gish, the “talkies” held little appeal. She starred on Broadway as painter Mary Surratt in 1947’s The Story of Mary Surratt, and in 1950, she made her final Broadway appearance in The Man.

The following year, Gish returned to the screen in The Whistle at Eaton Falls, starring Lloyd Bridges. In an interview with The New York Times, she discussed how much filmmaking had changed since her heyday: “Films have become easier work since I was last here,” she said. “In the old days, an actress did her own makeup and hair, prepared her costumes, and sometimes worked 15 and 16 hours a day.” Gish worked with director Otto Preminger on her last film, The Cardinal (1963).

Dorothy Gish spent her final years at a clinic in Italy, according to a New York Times report. Her sister was with her when she died of bronchial pneumonia on June 4, 1968, in Rapallo, Liguria, Italy. Years later, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Film Theater and Gallery was established on the campus of Bowling Green State University, honoring the work of two of film’s great early stars.

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Happy Birthday Tony Randall

Today is the 94th birthday of Tony Randall.  Watching him act is like watching a scientist perform experiments: precise, exact, trained. Watching Tony Randall talk about acting is like sneaking into a Masters Class and learning something you had absolutely no idea even existed. Tony Randall was an actor’s actor, he loved them, he supported them, he was one of them.

NAME: Tony Randall
OCCUPATION: Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 26, 1920
DEATH DATE: May 17, 2004
EDUCATION: Northwestern University, Columbia University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Tulsa, Oklahoma
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
ORIGINALLY: Leonard Rosenberg

BEST KNOWN FOR: Tony Randall was an actor who became widely known through his character Felix Unger on TV’s The Odd Couple.

Actor. Born Leonard Rosenberg on February 26, 1920 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating from Northwestern University where he studied drama, Randall moved to New York City to attend Columbia University and train at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He was soon drafted into the Army to serve in the Signal Corps during World War II. When the war was over, Randall resumed his career as a radio actor, most notably in the role of Reggie on the adventure serial I Love a Mystery.

Randall made his name on Broadway in the 1950s, starring in the musical Oh, Captain and Inherit the Wind. He made his film debut in 1957 with Oh, Men, Oh Women, and followed with the comedy Pillow Talk in 1959 and Lover Come Back in 1961. Though he received his share of forgettable starring film roles, including Fluffy in 1964, he received critical acclaim for his work in the film The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.

Television audiences will likely best remember Randall for his role of buttoned-up Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, which ran from 1969-1974. In addition to appearing on numerous game and panel shows, Randall enjoyed an extensive television career that included Mr. Peepers (1952-1953) and (1969-1974), his own short-lived TV series called The Tony Randall Show (1976) and Love, Sidney (1981-1983).

Active in several liberal and humanitarian causes, Randall has often put his career on the line to let his opinions be known. He delivered an anti-Vietnam speech in the late 1960s and has been known to speak out against the dangers of cigarette smoking. During the summer of 1980, he served as the celebrity host of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra‘s concerts in Central Park, New York City. In 1991, Randall created the National Actors Theater, a New York-based repertory company devoted to American and British classics.

In 1995, after the death of his wife and companion Florence, Randall earned media attention when he married Heather Harlan, a woman 50 years his junior. The couple met while she was an intern at the National Actors Theatre. They have two children.

Randall died in May 2004 in New York. He was 84.

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