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 Ira Gershwin

ira gershwin

NAME: Ira Gershwin
OCCUPATION: Songwriter
BIRTH DATE: December 6, 1896
DEATH DATE: August 17, 1983
EDUCATION: City College of New York
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Lyricist Ira Gershwin wrote for popular musicals like Porgy and Bess in the 1920s and ’30s. He was in the first writing team to win a Pulitzer for songwriting.

Lyricist Ira Gershwin was born as Israel Gershowitz in New York, New York, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, on December 6, 1896. The oldest of four children born to Russian Jewis immigrants Rosa Bruskin and Morris Gershovitz, the future lyricist was always a bookish child. Unlike his brother George, whose interests were primarily musical, young Ira’s ran more along literary lines. The family moved frequently throughout Gershwin’s childhood due to his father’s ever-changing job status. In 1914, the word-loving Gershwin enrolled as an English major at City College of New York, but dropped out after only two years.

Gershwin spent the next several years taking after his father, moving from job to job. He worked at various times as a steam room attendant, a photographer’s assistant and a business manager for a carnival. Occasionally, Gershwin would write theater reviews, but otherwise he did not show much promise as a writer. Meanwhile, his brother George was making a name for himself in the music business, composing and arranging, as well as making a brief foray into vaudeville.

At his brother’s prompting, Gershwin took a shot writing lyrics for one of his songs. Their first collaboration came in 1918 with “The Real American Folk Song,” which appeared in Ladies First. Ira Gershwin once said, “I always felt that if George hadn’t been my brother and pushed me, I’d have been contented to be a bookkeeper.” He continued writing lyrics, but often under the pen name Arthur Francis, a playful combination of the names of his younger brother and sister.

Still using his pen name, Ira wrote his first published song, “You May Throw All the Rice You Desire but Please Friends, Throw No Shoes.” He followed up in 1921 with his first stage success, providing lyrics for the show Two Little Girls in Blue. The critically acclaimed show was produced by Abraham Erlanger and co-composed by Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin.

In 1922, the Gershwin brothers came together again creatively to write the first major hit of their career, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise. In 1924, they followed up with the hit show Lady, Be Good! The next decade of collaboration would cement the brothers firmly in American musical history; combining their talents, they wrote for Broadway musicals, operettas and even vaudeville. In the 1920s, their big hits included Tip Toes (1925), Oh, Kay (1926) and Funny Face (1927).

On September 14, 1926, Ira Gershwin married Leonore Strunsky. Around the same time, the Gershwin brothers decided to combine their personal lives as well as their professional careers, moving both families into one five-story house in Manhattan. During this time, the house served as a creative nerve center for the brothers; artists, musicians and friends could be seen coming and going at all hours of the day and night.

Soon, however, the frantic pace became too much and Ira Gershwin retreated to spend some time on a farm north of the city. His brother would join him in the spring and summer to work and collaborate. It was there that the two wrote and re-wrote Funny Face and Smarty.

Biographers and music historians note that the brothers’ huge popularity was due, in part, to their innovative new style and combinations. Ira Gershwin in particular was adept at implementing new lyrical styles, playing with timing and unusual word combinations. Charles Schwartz once said that the brothers had “the uncanny knack for coming up with the fresh and the novel ballads appropriate for their time and genre with wonderfully creative lyrics, songs of chivalric love and gallantry.”

In 1928, the Gershwins and their wives went on a trip to Europe that included stops in Vienna, London and Paris. Their journey across the Atlantic ended up becoming the inspiration for the iconic orchestral, “An American in Paris.” Four years later, Ira Gershwin shared the honor of a Pulitzer Prize with writers George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind for the score of the musical comedy, “Of Thee I Sing.” The award gave the men the distinction of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for songwriting.

The Gershwin brothers’ biggest triumph came in 1935 with their famous “folk opera,” Porgy and Bess. The characters in the musical are almost exclusively African-Americans hailing from Charleston, South Carolina. The Gershwins insisted on hiring only black singers to play the parts, a progressive move at a time when blackface entertainment was still common. Musically, the composition was the brothers’ most ambitious and successful, and it remains a popular production even today.

After Porgy and Bess, Ira Gershwin began working almost exclusively on motion pictures, spending much of his time in Hollywood. For his work on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (1937), “Long Ago and Far Away” (1944) and “The Man That Got Away” (1954), the lyricist was nominated for three Academy Awards.

In 1937, Ira Gershwin’s beloved brother and partner, George Gershwin, died of a brain tumor. Throughout their lives, Ira had functioned as his brother’s business manager and always looked after his finances. After George’s death, Ira devoted himself to organizing his brother’s legacy in the hopes of preserving it for future generations. His work paid off and the Library of Congress now has an extensive Gershwin Collection dedicated to that end.

1940, Ira Gershwin began writing and collaborating again with the likes of Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill and Harold Arlen. The famed lyricist said his goodbye to Broadway in 1946 with his last work for the stage, Park Avenue. He spent the rest of his life working on the family archive with historian Michael Feinstein.

Though he died on August 17, 1983 in Beverly Hills, California, symbols of his legacy and contribution continue to live on. In the Gershwin Room of the Library of Congress, curious visitors can see George’s piano and Ira’s typewriter on display. Despite his more bookish nature, the older brother and lyricist of the famed pair was just as invested in the joy of music, once saying, “Life is one long jubilee.”

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.

Happy Birthday Sally Field

Today is the 68th birthday of Sally Field.  The world is a better place because she is in it.

NAME: Sally Field
OCCUPATION: Actress
BIRTH DATE: November 6, 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pasadena, California
FULL NAME: Sally Margaret Field

BEST KNOWN FOR: Sally Field is an American actress best known TV and film roles such as Gidget, The Flying Nun, Smokey and the Bandit, Sybil and Places in the Heart.

Actress, director and writer Sally Margaret Field was born on November 6, 1946, in Pasadena, California. Sally Field, the youngest of two children born to actress Margaret Field, grew up in show business. After Sally’s parents divorced, her mother married actor and stuntman Jock Mahoney. Field’s stepfather was a strict disciplinarian who expected faithful obedience from Field, her older brother, and half-sister Princess. Mahoney also fought frequently with Sally’s mother, and the couple’s increasingly rocky relationship weighted heavily on the children. Sally found solace from her difficult home life by focusing on her extracurricular activities at school. “I’d landed in the drama department, and it just kind of saved me,” she later explained to Good Housekeeping magazine.

After finishing up at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California, Field attended an acting workshop at Columbia Studios, which helped launch her film and television career. She landed the leading role in the television series Gidget, which was based on the popular 1959 Sandra Dee film by the same name. Field was only 18 years old when the series debuted in the fall of 1965. Petite and perky, she played a teenager on a quest to find fun with her best friend Larue (played by Lynette Winter). The show was canceled after one season, but Field became popular with television audiences—so popular, in fact, that the network created another series for her. The Flying Nun starred Field as Sister Bertrille, a nun so light that she could take flight. Field didn’t want to take the part, but her stepfather insisted, telling her, “If you turn down this part, you may never work again.”

The Flying Nun premiered in September 1967, and soon became a huge hit. Viewers seemed to enjoy following the misadventures of quirky, aerodynamic Sister Bertrille. Behind the scenes, however, Field was miserable. She struggled with the feeling that she would never be considered a serious actress, and the show only magnified that fear. In 1968, she married her high school sweetheart, Steven Craig, and soon became pregnant. Her pregnancy was hidden on the series using creative shots and the folds of her billowy nun’s habit. Field wouldn’t have to hide for long, though; the show was canceled in 1970, after three seasons on the air.

After giving birth to a second child in 1972, Field returned to acting in 1973 with the short-lived sitcom The Girl with Something Extra. Field played a young newlywed with ESP on the show, which lasted only one season. Reconnecting to her craft, Field studied acting at the Actors Studio with famed teacher Lee Strasberg. Strasberg became a powerful mentor, encouraging Field to move away from her goody-two-shoes television image. This new part of her transformation also included divorcing her husband in 1975.

After several auditions, Field landed a role in 1976’s bodybuilding film Stay Hungry with Jeff Bridges and Arnold Schwarzenegger. She co-starred as a party girl, a far cry from the innocent characters she played on the small screen. That same year, Field entered a new phase of her career with the television movie Sybil. She showed great emotional range as a woman with multiple-personality disorder, winning her first Emmy Award for her work on the TV film. Returning to the big screen, Field appeared in 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, playing a runaway bride who catches a ride from a trucker (played by Bert Reynolds). Field and Reynolds became romantically involved on the set of film, and starred together in several light-hearted comedies, including 1978’s Hooper and 1980’s Smokey and the Bandit II.

It was a dramatic role that brought Field her first Academy Award. In 1979, she starred as a gutsy, determined mill worker who tries to unionize her workplace in Norma Rae. Field received raves for her performance and netted the Best Actress Oscar, beating out the likes of Jane Fonda, Marsha Mason, Jill Clayburgh, and Bette Midler. She continued to take on dramatic fare, starring opposite Paul Newman in 1981’s Absence of Malice. In the film, Field played a ruthless journalist.

Re-teaming with Jeff Bridges, Field starred in the 1982 romantic comedy Kiss Me Goodbye as a widow trying to rebuild her life. Her character is haunted by her late husband’s ghost (played by James Caan), who does not approve of her new love interest. For her work on the film, Field was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Field then starred the 1984 historical drama Places in the Heart, as a widow struggling to keep her family’s farm during the Great Depression. The film featured a strong supporting cast, including John Malkovich, Lindsay Crouse, Danny Glover and Ed Harris, and received strong reviews. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, the film won two—one for writing, and one for Field as Best Actress. Field was just as thrilled to be winning her second Academy Award as she was for her first, perhaps even more so. During her acceptance speech, she gushed, “You like me. You really like me.” This enthusiastic comment may have been the most memorable quote of the evening, and Field soon found herself the subject of numerous jokes and quips because of it.

Field’s career continued to thrive with leading roles in 1985’s Murphy’s Romance with James Garner and 1988’s Punchline. As part of an all-star cast, she appeared in the 1989 Southern drama Steel Magnolias, which included Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and a young starlet named Julia Roberts. Field later produced the 1991 drama Dying Young, which starred Roberts.

In the 1990s, Field took on more character and supporting roles. She played Robin Williams’ estranged wife in the family comedy Mrs. Doubtfire and Tom Hanks’ mother in the 1994 whimsical hit Forest Gump. She also produced and starred in the 1995 television miniseries A Woman of Independent Means, the story of one woman’s life journey during the early 20th century. Continuing to work behind the scenes, she directed and wrote the 1996 holiday television movie The Christmas Tree, which starred Julie Harris.

Field next directed the 2000 film Beautiful, which starred Minnie Driver as a ruthless beauty queen. Returning to series television, Field won accolades for her recurring role on the hit drama ER, playing the bipolar mother of one of the doctors. Field’s nuanced performance earned her another Emmy Award—this time for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2001.

In 2002, Field fulfilled a personal dream by starring on Broadway in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?. She then had a supporting role on the 2003 big-screen comedy Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon. Before long, Field was contemplating a return to series television. She found great success with the family drama Brothers & Sisters, playing the matriarch of the Walker family. The show resonated with Field’s own values, saying it “is all about a dysfunctional family whose members deeply love each other and are bonded together. My whole life is about family,” Field told the Saturday Evening Post. She won her third Emmy Award for her portrayal of Nora Walker in 2007.

After Brothers & Sisters went off the air in 2011, Field returned to the big screen. She had a supporting role in the summer blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) starring Andrew Garfield. In the film, Field played Peter Parker’s beloved Aunt May. That fall, Field tackled the role of one of American history’s least popular first ladies. She co-starred with Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, with Day-Lewis as the beloved president Abraham Lincoln and Field as his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Robert Todd Lincoln in the film.

Outside of her television work, Field has served on the board of the Sundance Institute. She has also worked with young actors during the institute’s summer programs. Diagnosed with osteoporosis, Field has become a spokesperson on the issue for a pharmaceutical company that markets Boniva, a medication to treat the disease.

Field is also devoted to her three adult children and her grandchildren. She has two sons, Peter and Eli, from her first marriage. Her youngest son, Samuel, is from her second marriage to producer Alan Greisman, which lasted from 1984 to 1993.

Blue Velvet – Required Viewing

blue-velvet

The Wiki:

Blue Velvet is a 1986 American mystery film written and directed by David Lynch. The movie exhibits elements of both film noir and surrealism. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern. The title is taken from The Clovers’ 1955 song of the same name. Although initially detested by some mainstream critics, the film is now widely acclaimed,[1][2] and earned Lynch his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director. As an example of a director casting against the norm, Blue Velvet is also noted for re-launching Hopper’s career and for providing Rossellini with a dramatic outlet beyond the work as a fashion model and a cosmetics spokeswoman for which she had until then been known.

After the commercial and critical failure of Lynch’s Dune (1984), he made attempts at developing a more “personal story”, somewhat characteristic of the surreal style he displayed in his debut Eraserhead (1977). The screenplay of Blue Velvet had been passed around multiple times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with many major studios declining it because of its strong sexual and violent content.[3] The independent studio De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, owned at the time by Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis, agreed to finance and produce the film. Since its initial theatrical release, Blue Velvet has achieved cult status, significant academic attention and, alongside Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, is widely regarded as one of Lynch’s finest works. It is also seen by many critics as representing a modern-day version of film-noir, “neo-noir”, present in many thrillers from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. Blue Velvet was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time by Entertainment Weekly in 1999 and chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest mystery films ever made.

The film centers on eccentric college student Jeffrey Beaumont (MacLachlan), who, returning from visiting his ill father in the hospital, comes across a human ear in a field in his hometown of Lumberton. He proceeds to investigate the ear with help from a high school student, Sandy Williams (Dern), who provides him with information and leads from her father, a local police detective. Jeffrey’s investigation draws him deeper into his hometown’s seedy underworld, and sees him forming a sexual relationship with the alluring torch singer Dorothy Vallens (Rossellini), and uncovering the psychotic criminal Frank Booth (Hopper), who engages in drug abuse, kidnapping, and sexual violence.

Happy Birthday Carole Lombard

Today is the 108th birthday of Carole Lombard.  “My Man Godfrey” is on of my favorite movies and part of that reason is because of Carole Lombard. She is perfection. Her life story is one of those that even Hollywood couldn’t make up and have people believe it.

NAME: Carole Lombard
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: October 06, 1908
DEATH DATE: January 16, 1942
PLACE OF BIRTH: Fort Wayne, Indiana
PLACE OF DEATH: Las Vegas, Nevada
ORIGINALLY: Jane Alice Peters

BEST KNOWN FOR: Carole Lombard starred in comedic films during the 1930s. She married actor Clark Gable in 1939, but died in a tragic plane accident a few years later.

Carole Lombard (October 6, 1908 – January 16, 1942) was an American actress. She is particularly noted for her comedic roles in the screwball comedies of the 1930s. She is listed as one of the American Film Institute’s greatest stars of all time and was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s, earning around US $500,000 per year[citation needed] (more than five times the salary of the US President). Lombard’s career was cut short when she died at the age of 33 in a plane crash while returning from a World War II Bond tour.

Queen of the 1930s screwball comedies, she personified the anxiety of a nervous age. Graham Greene praised the “heartbreaking and nostalgic melodies” of her faster-than-thought delivery. “Platinum blonde, with a heart-shaped face, delicate, impish features and a figure made to be swathed in silver lamé, she wriggled expressively through such classics of hysteria as Twentieth Century and My Man Godfrey.”

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Lombard 23rd on its list of the 50 greatest American female screen legends. She received one Academy Award for Best Actress nomination, for My Man Godfrey. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6930 Hollywood Blvd.

Lombard’s Fort Wayne childhood home has been designated a historic landmark. The city named the nearby bridge over the St. Mary’s River the Carole Lombard Memorial Bridge.

Personal Quotes:

“I can’t imagine a duller fate than being the best dressed woman in reality. When I want to do something I don’t pause to contemplate whether I’m exquisitely gowned. I want to live, not pose!” – Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard’s Golden Rules:

1. Play Fair.

“You’ll find that men usually play fair,” Carole said. “It’s all very well to say that you want to back out of a bargain because you’ve changed your mind. That’s supposed to be a woman’s privilege. But men don’t play the game that way. A man who says he’ll do a thing and then reneges, is soon put where he belongs, out in the cold.

“If I say I’ll do something, I make it stick.”

2. Don’t Brag.

“Men can brag,” Carole points out, “but that’s where a woman can’t do what men do, and still be feminine. No man will endure listening to a girl boast about how smart she is.”

3. Obey the Boss.

“A career girl who competes with men has to learn that rule — or else. If she won’t accept discipline, or bow to the rules of the institution and take orders, she can’t succeed. I know that the picture director knows best. I remember when I was making ‘My Man Godfrey’ with William Powell. Gregory La Cava was directing. One day he was ill, but he insisted that work go on while he rested.

“‘You know what to do,’ he told us. ‘Just pretend I’m there and go ahead.’

“Well, it didn’t work. Bill and I were used to taking orders because it’s part of the discipline of the studio. It was a simple scene, we knew what to do, but the director wasn’t there and we felt lost. Somebody has to be the boss in every big enterprise, and if the boss is absent the business soon comes to a halt.”

4. Take Criticism.

“Men have learned to take criticism, that is, the successful men. The ones who flare up and go home mad are the kind who never get the last installment paid on the radio.

“Here again the movies have taught me. I have learned to take criticism and stand up to it like a man. Yet a woman will simply burn if you hint that the hat she’s got on doesn’t look quite perfect, or that she might, just might, have led from the queen, jack, ten instead of tossing in an eight spot.

“I went to a showing of the first rough cut of ‘Swing High, Swing Low,’ in a small college town.

“In the tragic scene, where I screwed up my face to cry (I can’t help it if I look that way when I cry), the audience laughed. When I really turned it on and emoted, they howled. It was heartbreaking. I felt like crawling under the seats and losing myself among the gum and other useless things.

“But I had to take it. If you’re playing according to masculine rules, which is required of any girl with a career, you’ve got to accept criticism and profit by it. Otherwise how could you become a singer, decorator, painter or private secretary? I learned something from that experience, too. I’m best if I top off tears with a laugh. A star who is too big for criticism sooner or later loses out. That goes for working women, too.”

5. Love is Private.

“When it comes to your personal life, such as love and romance, girls should take a tip from the men and keep their affairs to themselves. Any man worth his salt regards his private life as his own. To kiss a girl and run and tell would mark him as a cad. Why doesn’t that apply to girls also?”

6. Work — And Like It!

All women should have something worthwhile to do,” says Carole, “and cultivate efficiency at it, whether it’s housekeeping or raising chickens.

Working women are interesting women. And they’re easier to live with. Idle women who can think of nothing to do with their time are dangerous to themselves and to others. The only ‘catty’ women I’ve known were idlers, with nothing to do but gossip and make trouble.”

7. Pay Your Share.

“Nobody likes a man who is always fumbling when it’s time to pay the check,” Carole points out. “I think the woman who assumes that the man can afford to pay for everything is making a mistake. More and more the custom of the Dutch treat is coming in vogue, particularly among working men and women. You don’t have to surrender your femininity if you pay your share of the bills.”

8. The Cardinal Virtue

“–Is a sense of humor,” says Carole. “Do you laugh in the right places? Then, you’ll get along, in fair weather or foul. Humor is nothing less than a sense of the fitness of things. Something that’s out of proportion, like an inflated ego, should strike you funny, particularly if it’s your own inflated ego. Otherwise you are pathetic and quite hopeless.”

9. Be Consistent.

“By that,” remarks Carole, “I mean you should take a hint from the men. They are terribly consistent, as a rule. You can tell what they’ll do in any given circumstance.

“If a girl puts her best foot forward at the office, she shouldn’t change steps when she gets home. A career girl must be neatly turned out, even-tempered and willing to take orders at work, and there’s no reason why she must check these virtues with her hat and coat when she leaves her place of business.

“I manage to add enough inconsistency to my behavior at the studio so that I’m the same there as at home; inclined to blow off steam at odd moments or be very demure and sweet-tempered — just to keep ‘em guessing. In fact I’ve got myself guessing. I don’t quite know which way I am. That’s being consistently inconsistent, anyway.

“Men are about the same at home as they are at work. Don’t say it’s because they lack the imagination to be otherwise — just take the hint. Men are creatures of habit and comfort, and they are puzzled and disturbed by change. That’s why so many of them marry their stenographers; it’s in hope of finding the same efficiency at home as at the office. They are supreme optimists.

“If you go into the business world to meet male competition, then you’ve got to play the game more or less according to their rules.

“By doing that, I’ve found that any intelligent girl can get along very well. About the only important difference I’ve noticed is in the problem of travel; men can travel alone easier than women. However, old habits of transportation are changing and the comfort of women is more and more the concern of air, railroad and bus travel.”
10. Be Feminine.

“All of this,” Carole declares, “does not keep you from preserving your femininity. You can still be insane about a particular brand of perfume, and weep when you get a run in your favorite pair of stockings.

“You can still have fits when the store sends out the very shade of red drapes you did not order, and which swear horribly at the red in the davenport. But when you go down to complain, be a man about it.

“All of which sums up to this. Play fair and be reasonable. When a woman can do that, she’ll make some man the best manager he ever found, or wind up running a whole department store. And being a woman, thank heaven you still have that choice!”