Happy Birthday Tony Randall

Today is the 95th 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.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

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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Happy Birthday Zeppo Marx

Today is the 114th birthday of Zeppo Marx.  He was the youngest, most handsome, and most mechanically inclined Marx Brother.  Pay attention to him in the first five movies next time you watch them (you do watch them, don’t you?) and appreciate his quite-often under-appreciated talent. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Zeppo Marx
OCCUPATION: Actor, Comedian, Engineer, Inventor
BIRTH DATE: February 25, 1901
DEATH DATE: November 30, 1979
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Rancho Mirage, California
FULL NAME: Herbert Manfred Marx
NICKNAME: Herbie
AKA: Zeppo Marx
NICKNAME: Zep
AKA: Herbert Marx

BEST KNOWN FOR: The youngest of the Marx Brothers, Zeppo Marx was the handsomest sibling, but often under-appreciated as the straight man and young romantic lead. He left the famous comedic team to become a millionaire inventor.

The youngest of the Marx Brothers, Zeppo Marx was born Herbert Manfred Marx on February 25, 1901, in New York City. Like his brothers, he was a first-generation American, born to Sam “Frenchie” and Minnie (Schoenberg) Marx, of French and German Jewish extraction, who both came from Europe but met in New York. The first of their six sons, Manfred, died in infancy; Zeppo’s middle name honored him.

The origin of his nickname varies depending on the source: Both Groucho and Zeppo’s second ex-wife said it was derived from the zeppelins of the time. One story is simply that their father called him “Zep” when he came home one day, and the moniker stuck. Another is that the name was adapted from Mr. Zippo, a trained chimpanzee, according to brother Harpo’s autobiography. According to the book, Herbie’s athletic prowess and acrobatics echoed the chimp’s act, but his objection morphed the nickname into Zeppo.

Minnie Marx, a former dance teacher, was a fervent stage mother, getting the boys on the vaudeville circuit to make money. She added Herbie, who had a tendency toward pugilism, to the brother act in an effort to keep him from fighting. The Marx patriarch “was a very bad tailor,” according to Zeppo, “but he found some people who were so stupid that they would buy his clothes, and so he’d make a few dollars that way for food.”

Being the youngest, and by all account the most handsome, Zeppo was always cast in the role of straight man and romantic lead. He was reportedly frustrated that he couldn’t be funny, even though comedy rarely works without a good foil. The brothers apparently agreed that he was the funniest, but Groucho has been noted for both saying that the team was funnier without him, and that he felt threatened by Zeppo when he understudied him in the play Animal Crackers. Groucho was unable to perform in the production because he was having surgery to remove his appendix at the time, and some said that Zeppo was better than Groucho.

Though Zeppo only had a few moments to shine, including the dictation-taking scene in Animal Crackers, he left the brother act after just five films, which also included Duck Soup and Monkey Business, to join Gummo, the other non-performing Marx brother, in running a talent agency.

Zeppo’s other talents included an extraordinary grasp of mechanics and engineering, and he has been credited with keeping the family car running when they were touring in the early days. He also held various jobs, including as a commercial fisherman and citrus farmer. Zeppo founded Marman Products in 1941, which made clamping devices that were used in WWII to secure the atomic bombs transported on the Enola Gay. He also held three patents, two of which pertained to his invention of a watch that monitored the pulse of heart patients. It was this business that helped make Zeppo a multimillionaire.

Zeppo married twice, first to Marion Benda, with whom he had two adopted sons, Timothy and Thomas. Five years after their divorce in 1954, Zeppo marred Barbara Blakeley, whose son Bobby took his surname, though he was never officially adopted. Barbara married Frank Sinatra after the couple divorced in 1973.

The last of the Marx Brothers to pass away, Zeppo Marx died of lung cancer on November 30, 1979, in Rancho Mirage, California. His ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Critics still argue about whether Zeppo Marx was instinctively funny.

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Andy Warhol, Pop Artist, Dies

On this day in 1987, Andy Warhol died.  I normally only celebrate birthdays, but since I actually remember this day, I will include it.  I remember the mounds and mounds of things they found in his house.  It was kind of before hoarding really got highlighted, he was more of an extreme collector of vintage cookie jars, Russel Wright pottery, watches, Navajo blankets and rugs, early American furniture and over 75 pieces by Man Ray, Duchamp and Rauschenberg, you may as well throw in a Lichtenstein, a Jasper Johns, a Hockney, a Dali, a Haring and a Basquiat (or six).

His collecting lead me to purchase several vintage cookie jars and give them as gifts.  I still have one that is a hand-painted elf head.  The pointy ears are chipped and the when the artist painted it, they went pretty heavy on the eye liner.  Dogs are not particular fans of it.


warhol dies

ANDY WARHOL, POP ARTIST, DIES
By DOUGLAS C. McGILL
New York Times Published: February 23, 1987

Andy Warhol, a founder of Pop Art whose paintings and prints of Presidents, movie stars, soup cans and other icons of America made him one of the most famous artists in the world, died yesterday. He was believed to be 58 years old.

The artist died at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, where he underwent gall bladder surgery Saturday. His condition was stable after the operation, according to a hospital spokeswoman, Ricki Glantz, but he had a heart attack in his sleep around 5:30 A.M.

Though best known for his earliest works – including his silk-screen image of a Campbell’s soup can and a wood sculpture painted like a box of Brillo pads – Mr. Warhol’s career included successful forays into photography, movie making, writing and magazine publishing.

He founded Interview magazine in 1969, and in recent years both he and his work were increasingly in the public eye – on national magazine covers, in society columns and in television advertisements for computers, cars, cameras and liquors.

In all these endeavors, Mr. Warhol’s keenest talents were for attracting publicity, for uttering the unforgettable quote and for finding the single visual image that would most shock and endure. That his art could attract and maintain the public interest made him among the most influential and widely emulated artists of his time.

Although himself shy and quiet, Mr. Warhol attracted dozens of followers who were anything but quiet, and the combination of his genius and their energy produced dozens of notorious events throughout his career. In the mid-1960’s, he sometimes sent a Warhol look alike to speak for him at lecture engagements, and his Manhattan studio, ”the Factory,” was a legendary hangout for other artists and hangers-on.

In 1968, however, a would-be follower shot and critically wounded Mr. Warhol at the Factory. After more than a year of recuperation, Mr. Warhol returned to his career, which he increasingly devoted to documenting, with Polaroid pictures and large silk-screen prints, political and entertainment figures. He started his magazine, and soon became a fixture on the fashion and jet-set social scene.

In the 1980’s, after a relatively quiet period in his career, Mr. Warhol burst back onto the contemporary art scene as a mentor and friend to young artists, including Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat. With Mr. Basquiat, Mr. Warhol collaborated on a series of paintings in which he shunned mechanical reproduction techniques and painted individual canvases for the first time since the early 1960’s.

He never denied his obsession with art as a business and with getting publicity; instead, he proclaimed them as philosophical tenets.

”Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art,” he said on one occasion. On another, he said: ”Art? That’s a man’s name.” As widely known as his art and his own image were, however, Mr. Warhol himself was something of a cipher. He was uneasy while speaking about himself. ”The interviewer should just tell me the words he wants me to say and I’ll repeat them after him,” he once said. Date of Birth Uncertain

The earliest facts of his life remain unclear. He was born somewhere in Pennsylvania in either 1928, 1929 or 1930, according to three known versions of his life. (The most commonly accepted date is Aug. 6, 1928.) The son of immigrant parents from Czechoslovakia, his father a coal miner – the family’s name was Warhola -he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University), from which he graduated with a degree in pictorial design in 1949.

He immediately set out for New York, where he changed his name to Warhol and began a career as an illustrator and a commerical artist, working for Tiffany’s, Bonwit Teller’s, Vogue, Glamour, The New York Times and other magazines and department stores.

By the late 1950’s, he was highly successful, having earned enough money to move to a town house in Midtown, and having received numerous professional prizes and awards. Despite his success, however, he increasingly considered trying his hand at making paintings, and in 1960 he did so with a series of pictures based on comic strips, including Superman and Dick Tracy, and on Coca-Cola bottles.

Success, however, was not immediate. Leo Castelli, the art dealer best known for discovering the artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, saw Mr. Warhol’s paintings but declined to show his work, since Roy Lichtenstein, who also painted pictures taken from comic strips, was already represented by the gallery. Ivan Karp, a talent scout for Castelli who discovered Mr. Warhol, tried to help him find a New York gallery that would show his work, with no success. The Birth of a Movement

In 1962, the dam broke, with Mr. Warhol’s first exhibition of the Campbell’s soup cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, and his show of other works at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. Other Pop artists, including Mr. Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselman also began to achieve prominence around the country at the time, and the movement was born.

Though some of Mr. Warhol’s first Pop Art paintings had drips on them – evidence that the painter’s hand had left its mark on the work – by 1963 Mr. Warhol had dispensed with the brush altogether. Instead, he turned to exclusively hard-edged images made in the medium of silk-screen print, which made a depersonalized image that became Mr. Warhol’s trademark.

”Painting a soup can is not in itself a radical act,” the critic Robert Hughes wrote in 1971. ”But what was radical in Warhol was that he adapted the means of production of soup cans to the way he produced paintings, turning them out en masse – consumer art mimicking the the process as well as the look of consumer culture.”

In 1964 Mr. Warhol was taken on by the Castelli Gallery, which remained his art dealer until his death. His experimentation with underground films began around that time – an interest that culminated in widespread notoriety if not overwhelming box office acclaim.

”Eat,” a 45-minute film, showed the artist Robert Indiana eating a mushroom. ”Haircut” showed a Warhol groupie having his hair cut over a span of 33 minutes, and another, ”Poor Little Rich Girl,” was filmed out of focus and showed Edie Sedgwick, a Warhol follower who became a celebrity on the New York social circuit, talking about herself.

In the 1970’s, recuperated from his near fatal gunshot wound, Mr. Warhol settled down to a sustained creative period in which his fame as a society figure leveled off, but his output, if anything, increased. Working most often in silk-screen prints, he made series of pictures of political and Hollywood celebrities, including Mao, Liza Minelli, Jimmy Carter and Russell Banks.

In 1975, he published ”The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again),” a collection of statements and epigrams that elucidated his contrary views on art.

In his glancing and elliptical style, Mr. Warhol wrote about subjects ranging from art to money and sex. ”Checks aren’t money,” he wrote in one section of the book. In another, he said: ”Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.”

In the 1980’s, Mr. Warhol became more active in commissioned art projects and a variety of other commercial activties. In 1983, he made a series of prints – based on animals of endangered species – that was first shown at the American Museum of Natural History. A Near Exception

Although some of his later art projects seemed to diverge from his calculating approach and to be motivated in part by social concern, Mr. Warhol generally avoided any such suggestion. He came closest to making an exception in 1985, when he exhibited a group of prints of clowns, robots, monkeys and other images he made for children at the Newport (R.I.) Art Museum in 1985.

”It’s just that the show’s for children,” he told a reporter at the time. ”I wanted it arranged for them. The Newport Museum agreed to hang all of my children’s pictures at levels where only kids could really see them.”

After the news of his death was publicized yesterday, artists, celebrities and politicians who knew Mr. Warhol spoke of his influence on culture, and on their lives.

”He had this wry, sardonic knack for dismissing history and putting his finger on public taste, which to me was evidence of living in the present,” said the sculptor George Segal. ”Every generation of artists has the huge problem of finding their own language and talking about their own experience. He was out front with several others of his generation in pinning down how it was to live in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.”

Leo Castelli, Mr. Warhol’s dealer of 23 years, said Mr. Warhol, more than practically any artist of the last two decades, seemed to have a continuing and strong influence on today’s emerging artists. ”Of all the painters of his generation he’s still the one most influential on the younger artists – a real guru,” Mr. Castelli said.

Martha Graham, the dancer and choreographer, recalled her first meeting with Warhol. ”When I first met Andy, he confided to me that he was born in Pittsburgh as I was, and that when he first saw me dance ‘Appalachian Spring’ it touched him deeply. He touched me deeply as well. He was a gifted, strange maverick who crossed my life with great generosity. His last act was the gift of three portraits [ of Miss Graham ] he donated to my company to help my company meet its financial needs.”

In his book, ”The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,” the artist wrote a short chapter entitled ”Death” that consisted almost entirely of these words: ”I’m so sorry to hear about it. I just thought that things were magic and that it would never happen.”

Dr. Elliot M. Gross, the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City, said an autopsy on Mr. Warhol would be conducted today. Dr. Gross explained that deaths occurring during surgery or shortly afterward are considered deaths of an ”unusual manner.”

”It was an unexplained death of a relatively young person in apparently good health,” he said.

Mr. Warhol is survived by two brothers, John Warhola and Paul Warhola, both of Pittsburgh.

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Happy Birthday Gloria Vanderbilt

Today is the 91st birthday of Gloria Vanderbilt.  Heiress, fashion designer, artist, jet setter, and Anderson Cooper’s mother.  Her life is huge, we can all take a couple notes from her.  The world is very lucky to still have her in it.

 

NAME: Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt-Cooper
OCCUPATION: Artist, Fashion Designer, Writer
BIRTH DATE: February 20, 1924
PLACE OF BIRTH: NY, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Known for her fashion design and tumultuous personal life, actress, writer and artist Gloria Vanderbilt became an iconic figure in American popular culture during the 20th century.

Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (born February 20, 1924) is an American artist, author, actress, heiress, and socialite most noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. She is a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family of New York and mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

At 17 years old, Vanderbilt went to Hollywood where she married agent Pasquale (“Pat”) DiCicco in 1941; they divorced in 1945.

Her second marriage, to conductor Leopold Stokowski in April 1945, produced two sons, Leopold Stanislaus “Stan” Stokowski, born August 22, 1950 and Christopher Stokowski, born January 31, 1952; they divorced in October 1955.

On August 28, 1956, she married director Sidney Lumet; they divorced in August 1963.
She married her fourth husband, author Wyatt Emory Cooper on December 24, 1963. They had two sons: Carter Vanderbilt Cooper (born January 27, 1965 – July 22, 1988) and CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper (born June 3, 1967). Wyatt Cooper died in 1978 during open heart surgery in New York City. Carter Cooper committed suicide at the age of 23 by jumping from the family’s 14th floor apartment as his mother tried in vain to stop him. Vanderbilt believed that it was caused by a psychotic episode induced by an allergy to the anti-asthma medical prescription drug Proventil.

She has three grandchildren by her eldest son, Stan: Aurora, born in March 1983 and Abra, born in February 1985, both to author Ivy Strick, and Myles, born in 1998 to artist Emily Goldstein.

Gloria is very close friends with comedienne Kathy Griffin, and while appearing as a guest on her son Anderson Cooper’s talk show, Anderson on September 19, 2011, referred to Kathy as her “fantasy daughter.” Kathy refers to Gloria as “Glo”, as did her third husband, Lumet.

During the 1970s, she ventured into the fashion business, first with Glentex, licensing her name for a line of scarves. In 1976, Indian designer Mohan Murjani’s Murjani Corporation, proposed launching a line of designer jeans carrying Vanderbilt’s name embossed in script on the back pocket, as well as her swan logo. Her jeans were more tightly fitted than the other jeans of that time. The logo eventually appeared on dresses and perfumes as well. Along with her jeans, Vanderbilt also launched a line of blouses, sheets, shoes, leather goods, liqueurs, and accessories.

Vanderbilt is the author of four memoirs and three novels, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Elle.

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Happy Birthday Yoko Ono

Today is the 82nd birthday of Yoko Ono.  First, let’s think about how it is strange to attach an age to her, and now let’s talk about that is still creating art and music, like right now.  Her efforts to promote world peace and equality will be her legacy.  The world is very lucky that she is still in it.

NAME: Yoko Ono
OCCUPATION: Artist, Anti-War Activist
BIRTH DATE: February 18, 1933
EDUCATION: Sarah Lawrence College, The Peers School (The Gakushuin School)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Tokyo, Japan

BEST KNOWN FOR: Yoko Ono is a multimedia artist who became known worldwide in the 1960s when she married Beatles front man John Lennon.

Multimedia artist and performer Yoko Ono was born on February 18, 1933, in Tokyo, Japan, the eldest of three children born to Eisuke and Isoko, a wealthy aristocratic family. Her father, who worked for the Yokohama Specie Bank, was transferred to San Francisco, California, two weeks before she was born. The rest of the family soon followed. Her father was transferred back to Japan in 1937, and she susbequently enrolled at the elite Peers School (formerly known as the Gakushuin School) in Tokyo.

The family moved to New York in 1940, then back to Japan in 1941, when her father was transferred to Hanoi on the eve of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Ono remained in Tokyo through World War II, including the great firebombing of 1945. At the age of 18, Ono moved with her parents to Scarsdale, New York. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College, but left to elope with her first husband, Toshi Ichiyanagi.

Settling in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, Ono developed an interest in art and began writing poetry. Considered too radical by many, her work was not well-received, but she gained recognition after working with American jazz musician/film producer Anthony Cox, who later became her second husband. Cox financed and helped coordinate her “interactive conceptual events” in the early 1960s.

Ono’s work often demands the viewers’ participation and forces them to get involved. Her most famous piece was the “cut piece” staged in 1964, where the audience was invited to cut off pieces of her clothing until she was naked, an abstract commentary on discarding materialism.

Ono first met John Lennon of the English rock band the Beatles on November 9, 1966, when he visited a preview of her exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London, England. Lennon was taken with the positive, interactive nature of her work. He especially cited a ladder leading up to a black canvas with a spyglass on a chain, which revealed the word “yes” written on the ceiling. The two began an affair approximately 18 months later. Lennon divorced his first wife, Cynthia (with whom he had a son, Julian, born in 1963), and married Ono on March 20, 1969.

The couple collaborated on art, film and musical projects, and became famous for their series of “conceptual events” to promote world peace, including the “bed-in” held in an Amsterdam hotel room during their honeymoon in 1969.

Ono and Lennon became parents in 1975 with the arrival of their son, Sean. Lennon quit the music business to raise Sean. When he returned to the spotlight in 1980, Lennon was shot by a deranged fan, Mark David Chapman, only a few feet from Ono. Sean Lennon has grown up to a well-known musician in his own right.

Since Lennon’s death, Ono has continued her career, recording albums, performing concert tours and composing two off-Broadway musicals. She exhibited her art internationally, and the first U.S. retrospective of her work opened in New York City in 2002.

Ono has also continued to honor Lennon’s memory with a number of different projects. On October 9, 2002, she inaugurated the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace Prize to commemorate what would have been Lennon’s 62nd birthday. On Lennon’s birthday in 2007, she unveiled the Imagine Peace Tower on Videy, an island in Iceland. This outdoor artwork, created by Ono, represents her and Lennon’s commitment to world peace.

Happy Birthday Cesar Romero

Today is the 108th birthday of Cesar Romero.  There is a scene in “The Thin Man” where he (who’s character is Chris Jorgensen, I guess foreign is foreign) is sitting in a chair while people are inquiring why he doesn’t get a job, he stands up and storms away.  His much-0lder wife yells after him as one would a child throwing a temper tantrum.  That was his first movie and first scene.  I thought it was hilarious, possibly unintentionally so, but hilarious.  It took me quite a few years to merge in my head that that actor also was the actor that played The Joker on the 60’s Batman TV series and various other guest rolls on “The Love Boat” and so forth.  His career spanned more than 60 years, with continued relevance and popularity today.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

 

NAME: Cesar Romero
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Dancer
BIRTH DATE: February 15, 1907
DEATH DATE: January 01, 1994
EDUCATION: Collegiate School, Riverdale Country School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor and dancer Cesar Romero performed in movies from the ’30s through the ’60s. He became a pop culture icon in the 1966 Batman television series.

Actor, dancer. Born February 15, 1907, in New York City, to a prosperous Cuban family. Romero was raised by his parents, Cesar Julio Romero and Maria Mantilla, among Manhattan’s social elite. His maternal grandfather was the famed Cuban patriot Jose Marti (for whom Havana’s airport is named). Romero was first introduced to acting while attending Collegiate and Riverdale Country schools, where he starred in a stage production of The Merchant of Venice.

While still in his teens, Romero met fellow socialite Lisbeth Higgins, with whom he began a professional dance partnership. The couple performed in New York City’s nightclub and theatre circuit. Romero began his solo career as a dancer in a number of off-Broadway productions, before coming to Broadway as an actor. His early stage credits included Social Register, Stella Brady, and Dinner at Eight. Romero’s performance in the latter influenced MGM Studios to sign him to a short-term film contract.

Romero moved to Hollywood, where he made his film debut as a gigolo in the mystery The Thin Man (1934), starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. In the mid-30s (now under contract to Universal Studios), he appeared in a number of projects ranging from box office disasters like The Devil is a Woman (1935) to well-received comedies like Love Before Breakfast (1936).

In 1937, failed salary negotiations with Universal led Romero to sign with 20th Century Fox, where he would remain for the next 15 years. In the late 30s and early 40s, he was cast as the Cisco Kid in a handful of Westerns including, The Cisco Kid and the Lady (1939) and Viva Cisco Kid (1940).

With the onset of World War II, Romero temporarily shelved his film career in order to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1947, after three years of service, he returned to acting with supporting roles in the musical romance Carnival in Costa Rica followed by the 16th-century epic The Captain from Castile, with Tyrone Power.

Romero’s credits during the 1950s and early 1960s included secondary parts in more memorable films. In the Oscar-winning adventure Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Romero was cast in a minor role alongside a stellar ensemble that included Shirley MacLaine, Buster Keaton, Marlene Dietrich, and John Gielgud. In 1960, he won another supporting role in the Rat Pack caper Ocean’s Eleven, featuring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.

For the duration of his career, Romero’s most notable projects were his television appearances. He attained pop icon status with his portrayal of the maniacal Joker in the 1966 television series Batman. Starring Adam West in the title role, Batman became an overnight sensation, boasting an impressive cast that included Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Roddy McDowall, and Vincent Price.

During the 1970s, Romero played the recurring role of Freddie Prinze’s father on the NBC comedy series Chico and the Man. From 1985-88, his part as the patriarchal Peter Stavros on the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest introduced the seasoned Romero to a whole new generation of viewers.

With a body of work spanning more than seven decades and over a hundred film credits, Romero remained an active member in Hollywood’s social scene throughout his career. Although he never married, the self-described “Latin from Manhattan” was romantically linked to a number of women. On January 1, 1994, Romero died of a blood clot. He was 86 years old.

He believed that to live well you must dress well. And never in the same outfit. His closets held 30 tuxedos, 200 sports jackets, and 500 suits.

TELEVISION
Falcon Crest Peter Stavros (1985-88)
Alias Smith and Jones Armendariz (1971-72)
Julia Bunny (1970)
Batman The Joker (1966-68)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business (13-Apr-1995) · Himself
Lust in the Dust (1-Mar-1985)
The Strongest Man in the World (6-Feb-1975)
Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (23-Aug-1972)
The Proud and the Damned (1972)
Soul Soldier (16-Dec-1970)
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (31-Dec-1969)
Latitude Zero (26-Jul-1969)
Midas Run (7-May-1969)
Crooks & Coronets (2-Apr-1969)
Target: Harry (1969)
A Talent for Loving (1969) · Don Jose
Skidoo (2-Dec-1968)
Hot Millions (19-Sep-1968) · Customs Officer
Madigan’s Millions (30-May-1968) · Madigan
Batman (30-Jul-1966) · The Joker
Marriage on the Rocks (16-Sep-1965) · Miguel Santos
Sergeant Deadhead (18-Aug-1965)
Two on a Guillotine (23-Jan-1965) · John Duquesne
A House Is Not a Home (1-Sep-1964)
Donovan’s Reef (12-Jun-1963)
The Castilian (14-Apr-1963) · Jeronimo
If a Man Answers (10-Oct-1962)
Seven Women from Hell (Oct-1961)
Pepe (21-Dec-1960) · Himself
Ocean’s Eleven (10-Aug-1960) · Duke Santos
The Story of Mankind (8-Nov-1957) · Spanish Envoy
Around the World in Eighty Days (17-Oct-1956) · Henchman
The Leather Saint (6-Jun-1956)
The Racers (4-Feb-1955)
The Americano (19-Jan-1955)
Vera Cruz (25-Dec-1954)
Prisoners of the Casbah (3-Nov-1953)
The Shadow Man (Apr-1953)
Scotland Yard Inspector (13-Oct-1952)
The Jungle (1-Aug-1952)
FBI Girl (4-Nov-1951)
Lost Continent (17-Aug-1951) · Maj. Joe Nolan
Happy Go Lovely (25-Jul-1951) · John Frost
Love That Brute (26-May-1950)
The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (27-May-1949) · Blackie Jobero
That Lady in Ermine (24-Aug-1948) · Mario
Julia Misbehaves (8-Aug-1948) · Fred Ghenoccio
Deep Waters (22-Jul-1948)
Captain from Castile (25-Dec-1947) · Hernando Cortez
Carnival in Costa Rica (28-Mar-1947)
Wintertime (17-Sep-1943) · Brad Barton
Coney Island (16-Jun-1943) · Joe Rocco
Springtime in the Rockies (6-Nov-1942) · Victor Prince
Orchestra Wives (4-Sep-1942) · St. John Smith
Tales of Manhattan (5-Aug-1942)
A Gentleman at Heart (16-Jan-1942) · Tony Miller
Week-End in Havana (8-Oct-1941)
Dance Hall (18-Jul-1941)
The Great American Broadcast (9-May-1941)
Ride on Vaquero (18-Apr-1941)
Tall, Dark and Handsome (23-Jan-1941)
The Gay Caballero (4-Oct-1940) · The Cisco Kid
He Married His Wife (19-Jan-1940) · Freddie
The Cisco Kid and the Lady (24-Dec-1939)
Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (31-Aug-1939)
Frontier Marshal (28-Jul-1939)
Return of the Cisco Kid (28-Apr-1939)
The Little Princess (10-Mar-1939) · Ram Dass
Wife, Husband and Friend (25-Feb-1939) · Hugo
My Lucky Star (4-Dec-1938)
Always Goodbye (24-Jun-1938)
Happy Landing (23-Jan-1938)
Wee Willie Winkie (30-Jul-1937)
She’s Dangerous! (24-Jan-1937)
Public Enemy’s Wife (8-Jul-1936)
Love Before Breakfast (9-Mar-1936) · William Wadsworth
Rendezvous (23-Oct-1935) · Nieterstein
Metropolitan (17-Oct-1935)
Diamond Jim (2-Sep-1935)
Cardinal Richelieu (26-Mar-1935)
The Devil is a Woman (15-Mar-1935) · Antonio Galvan
The Good Fairy (31-Jan-1935) · Joe
Clive of India (7-Jan-1935)
British Agent (15-Sep-1934) · Del Val
The Thin Man (23-May-1934) · Chris

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Happy Birthday Thelma Ritter

Today is the 113th birthday of Thelma Ritter.  She is one of the actors that will make me want to watch the movie if she is in it, no matter how small. She perfected the working class voice of reason character that kept all the other characters from getting too out of touch. And if they did, she had no problem telling them so. Watch her in “Rear Window” and “The Misfits” and you will want to add every movie she is in to your Netflix queue. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

 

Born February 14, 1902 Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died February 5, 1969 (aged 66) New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actress. She typically played working class characters and was noted for her distinctive voice, with a strong Brooklyn accent.

Ritter did stock theater and radio shows early in her career, without much impact. Ritter’s first movie role was in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She made a memorable impression in a brief uncredited part, as a frustrated mother unable to find the toy that Kris Kringle has promised to her son. Her second role, in writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s A Letter to Three Wives (1949), also left a mark, although Ritter was again uncredited.

Mankiewicz kept Ritter in mind, and cast her as “Birdie” in All About Eve (1950), which earned her an Oscar nomination. A second nomination followed for her work in Mitchell Leisen’s’ classic ensemble screwball comedy The Mating Season (1951) starring Gene Tierney and John Lund. Ritter enjoyed steady film work for the next dozen years. She also appeared in many of the episodic drama TV series of the 1950s, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, General Electric Theater, and The United States Steel Hour. Other film roles were as James Stewart’s nurse in Rear Window (1954) and as Doris Day‘s housekeeper in Pillow Talk (1959). Although best-known for comedy roles, she played the occasional dramatic role, most notably in Pickup on South Street (1953), Titanic (1953), and The Misfits (1961).

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
What’s So Bad About Feeling Good? (17-May-1968)
The Incident (5-Nov-1967)
Boeing Boeing (22-Dec-1965) · Bertha
Move Over, Darling (19-Dec-1963) · Grace Arden
A New Kind of Love (30-Oct-1963)
For Love or Money (7-Aug-1963)
How the West Was Won (1-Nov-1962) · Agatha Clegg
Birdman of Alcatraz (3-Jul-1962) · Elizabeth Stroud
The Second Time Around (22-Dec-1961) · Aggie
The Misfits (1-Feb-1961) · Isabelle Steers
Pillow Talk (6-Oct-1959) · Alma
A Hole in the Head (15-Jul-1959) · Sophie Manetta
The Proud and Profane (13-Jun-1956) · Kate Connors
Lucy Gallant (20-Oct-1955)
Daddy Long Legs (5-May-1955) · Alicia Pritchard
Rear Window (1-Aug-1954) · Stella
Pickup on South Street (17-Jun-1953) · Moe Williams
The Farmer Takes a Wife (12-Jun-1953) · Lucy Cashdollar
Titanic (16-Apr-1953) · Maude Young
With a Song in My Heart (4-Apr-1952) · Clancy
The Model and the Marriage Broker (Nov-1951)
As Young as You Feel (2-Aug-1951)
The Mating Season (12-Jan-1951) · Ellen McNulty
All About Eve (13-Oct-1950) · Birdie
I’ll Get By (2-Oct-1950) · Miss Murphy
Perfect Strangers (11-Mar-1950) · Lena Fassler
Father Was a Fullback (30-Sep-1949)
City Across the River (7-Apr-1949)

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