Gidget and the Gories – Not So Secret Obsession

I remember seeing reruns of this episode of Gidget as a kid and it being one of my favorites.  I loved Goth Gidget when she announced “We’ve gone spooky!” more than I loved the surfing/dancing Gidget (and I loved that Gidget a lot).  It just seemed so out of the blue, so different, and totally fun.  It also turns out that this episode was first aired on my birthday, not my birth year, that would not happen for another four, but on the day I would be born.  In a side note, I do believe this is the first .gif I have ever posted on Waldina.

gories

The Gories was a high school garage band from the television sitcom Gidget.

Gidget goes goth! No, seriously! In the “Gidget’s Career” episode (01/20/1966), Gidget (Sally Field) is trying to get her shy friend Larue (Lynette Winter) out in the world. Gidget forces her to take up an invite to join a little beach guitar jam with Paul (Jimmy Hawkins) and Doug (Murray McLeod) from her guitar class. Paul and Doug get the idea to form a band. They let Larue in, but get cute Gidget to front it, banging a tambourine. As the boys say, though: “Girls as cute as you don’t have to do anything.” The new nameless foursome play an uptempo folk number at the school’s Noon Dance the next day.

After getting asked to play another show, Gidget sees Rick Farmer (Sandy Kenyon) on TV announcing a band contest. She writes in about her band, getting them an on-air audition in 10 days. The band buckles down to brass tacks, changing their Up With People image. Gidget announces in whiteface, heavy mascara, and a black wig, “We’ve gone spooky!”  They change their sound too, bringing on a drummer, Ringo Feinberg (Dennis Joel) and rocking out. But Larue’s guitar playing isn’t up to snuff, so the boys want to dump her, and make Gidget the bearer of bad tidings.

Meanwhile, dad (Don Porter) visits Farmer and finds out that it was the band’s fresh-faced, no-gimmick appeal he liked, Farmer complains it’s all “moaners, wailers and funny jumpies” these days. Dad chortles they have “hoisted themselves by their own guitars,” when it’s finally time for their TV performance. But Farmer likes the new look even better! And they win the contest! But Gidge isn’t on the show or in the band! She demanded they take Larue back or she’d quit. So the guys replaced her (and Larue), and changed the name from Gidget and the Gories to just The Gories. And insert generic valuable lesson about friendship here!

Happy Birthday Jim Backus

Tomorrow is the 102nd birthday of Jim Backus, everyone’s favorite millionaire shipwreck survivor.  Was I the only one that had the take away thought from “Gilligan’s Island” that money can’t buy everything?  Here he was, stranded on an island with his wife (they apparently brought trunk-loads of cash, jewelry, and clothing for a short afternoon boat ride) and they could not buy their way out of their situation.  I guess I sort of liked that thought.  That, and as Mr. Magoo, it was nice to know that blind people could still drive cars.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

jim backus

NAME: Jim Backus
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Radio Personality, Writer
BIRTH DATE: February 25, 1913
DEATH DATE: July 03, 1989
EDUCATION: Kentucky Military Institute, American Academy of Dramatic Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cleveland, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
Full Name: James Gilmore Backus

Best Known For:  Jim Backus was a film and TV actor known for his roles in Rebel Without a Cause and Gilligan’s Island, as well as being the voice of Mr. Magoo.

Actor and author James Gilmore Backus was born on February 25, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio. For five decades, Jim Backus entertained audiences in a variety of media, starting out in radio and moving on to film and television. Two of his trademark roles were the wealthy and snooty Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island and Mr. Magoo, an optically challenged and bumbling cartoon character. The son of an engineer, he was more interested in golf and acting than in school. Backus worked for a stock theater company during his teens. In one of the company’s productions, he had a small role while future film star Clark Gable had the lead.

Wanting his son to focus on academics, Backus’s father sent him to the Kentucky Military Institute for a time where he met and befriended Victor Mature, another future professional actor. But Backus struggled his way through high school and was able to convince his father to let him skip a traditional college education. Instead he went to New York City to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Graduating in 1933, Backus spent two years working in a variety of stage productions and in summer stock before trying his hand at radio. Adept at molding his booming voice into different characters, he was a freelance performer and appeared on numerous radio programs, including soap operas and The Kate Smith Hour. Backus also made his Broadway debut around this time in Hitch Your Wagon, a comedy, in 1937. Later that year, he appeared in the drama Too Many Heroes.

In the 1940s, Backus scored his biggest radio success on The Alan Young Show. He created a stuffy, upper crust character named Hubert Updyke III, who was known for making such quips as “Careful, or I’ll have your mouth washed out with domestic champagne.” By the end of the decade, Backus was beginning his film career. One of his earliest roles was in the football drama Easy Living (1949) with Lucille Ball and old friend Victor Mature.

Also in 1949, Backus was selected to voice one of the characters for a cartoon entitled Ragtime Bear. Little did he know that the character, Quincy Magoo, a nearsighted fellow with a very selective take on reality, would become so hugely popular. Backus spent about three decades as Magoo in his various incarnations from cartoon shorts to television series to a full-length film.

On the small screen, Backus spent three years on the sitcom I Married Joan, which debuted in the fall of 1952. He played Judge Bradley Stevens, husband to Joan Stevens (Joan Davis). Each episode featured a case in front of Bradley, a domestic judge, and its parallels to his domestic life. After the series ended, Backus gave some of his best film performances. He earned praise for his work on the comedy Francis in the Navy (1955) and the teenage drama Rebel Without a Cause (1955) with James Dean. In Rebel Without a Cause, Backus played Dean’s father, a man befuddled by his son’s actions and oppressed by his domineering wife.

Based in part on his earlier character, Hubert Updyke III, Backus again inhabited the persona of a privileged, uptight rich man on Gilligan’s Island. Thurston Howell III was one of seven castaways marooned on an island together after a terrible storm sent their boat crashing onto its shores. In addition to his wife, Mrs. Howell, who his character always called “lovey,” there were the ship’s captain Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.) and his first mate Gilligan (Bob Denver), the professor (Russell Johnson), the movie star Ginger (Tina Louise) and a simple farm girl named Mary Ann (Mary Ann Summers). Created by Sherwood Schwartz, the broad comedy was dismissed by reviewers but adored by many viewers. “The critics assassinated it, but the kids flipped for it,” Backus later said, according to an article in The New York Times. “I’ve been watching the reruns, and confess I’m hooked on it myself.”

While the show was only on network television from 1964 to 1967, Gilligan’s Island has had a healthy life in syndication and can still be seen today. Backus voiced an animated version of Thurston Howell III for the Saturday morning cartoon series, The New Adventures of Gilligan in the mid-1970s. Reprising his famous role, he appeared for the 1978 television movie Rescue from Gilligan’s Island. That same year, Backus received a heartbreaking diagnosis. He was having some trouble with his legs and learned that he had Parkinson’s disease.

Despite this setback, Backus continued acting. He made his final film appearance in 1980’s There Goes the Bride with Tom Smothers and Phil Silvers. On the small screen, he appeared in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island (1981) and made guest appearances on such shows as Fantasy Island and The Love Boat.

In addition to acting, Backus had authored Rocks on the Roof (1958) on his own and several other works with his wife Henny. Married since 1943, the couple used their life experiences for such personal works as What Are You Doing After the Orgy (1962), which was about their marriage, and Backus Strikes Back (1984), which tackled his struggle with Parkinson’s.

In late June of 1988, Backus was admitted to St. John’s Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, California. He died of pneumonia on July 3, 1988. Over the course of his long career, Backus had appeared in roughly 80 films and 500 film and television episodes as Quincy Magoo. And each day, he wins new fans as they watch Gilligan’s Island in syndication.

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Happy Birthday Robert Wagner

Today is the 85th birthday of Robert Wagner.  I am a big fan of Hart to Hart and It Takes a Thief and not coincidentally, Robert Wagner’s swagger.  He turns in great performances, so much so I am sure that most people confuse him as being those characters.  The world is a better place because he is in it.


robert wagner3

NAME: Robert Wagner
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: February 10, 1930
PLACE OF BIRTH: Detroit, Michigan

BEST KNOWN FOR: Robert Wagner is an American film and television actor known for his popularity in numerous television series and most recently, in the Austin Powers films.

Robert John Wagner (born February 10, 1930) is an American actor of stage, screen, and television.
A veteran of many films in the 1950s and ’60s, Wagner gained prominence in three American television series that spanned three decades: It Takes a Thief (1968–70), Switch (1975–78), and Hart to Hart (1979–84). In movies, Wagner is known for his role as Number Two in the Austin Powers films (1997, 1999, 2002). He also had a recurring role as Teddy Leopold on the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Wagner’s autobiography, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, written with author Scott Eyman, was published on September 23, 2008.

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Happy Birthday James Michener

Every once in a while, I wonder if anyone is reading a Michener novel.  I mean, someone must, right?  His books are of such sweeping epic length, I worry that there is no one left with that sort of attention span.  They are important American literature for their impact on they reading habits of the every day citizen.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

james michener 1NAME: James Michener
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: c. February 03, 1907
DEATH DATE: October 16, 1997
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Austin, Texas

BEST KNOWN FOR: James Michener was an American novelist and story-story writer who penned Tales of the South Pacific, which one a Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

James Albert Michener (February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author of more than 40 titles, the majority of which were sweeping sagas, covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating historical facts into the stories. Michener was known for the meticulous research behind his work.

Michener’s major books include Tales of the South Pacific (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948), Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas, and Poland. His nonfiction works include the 1968 Iberia about his travels in Spain and Portugal, his 1992 memoir The World Is My Home, and Sports in America. Return to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener’s factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place.

Michener gave away a great deal of the money he earned. Over the years, Mari Yoriko Sabusawa Michener played a major role in directing donations by her husband, totaling more than $100 million. Among the beneficiaries were the University of Texas, the Iowa Writers Workshop and Swarthmore College (stated by a New York Times’ notice about her death).

In 1989, Michener donated the royalty earnings from the Canadian edition of his novel Journey, published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart, to create the Journey Prize, an annual Canadian literary prize worth $10,000 (Cdn) that is awarded for the year’s best short story published by an emerging Canadian writer.

Author of books:
Tales of the South Pacific (1947, novel)
The Fires of Spring (1949, memoir)
Hawaii (1959, novel)
The Source (1965, novel)
Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections (1968, travelogue)
The Drifters (1971, novel)
Centennial (1974, novel)
Chesapeake (1978, novel)
The Covenant (1980, novel)
Space (1982, novel)
Texas (1985, novel)
The World Is My Home (1992, memoir)
A Century of Sonnets (1997)

 

Happy Birthday Tallulah Bankhead

Today is the 113th birthday of Tallulah Bankhead.  She was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed broad who’s brilliance may very well have been in being Tallulah Bankhead.  She is what the world needed:  a smart, quick-witted shit-kicker that made us laugh uncomfortably at her brave observations and truths.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

 

NAME: Tallulah Brockman Bankhead
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1902
DEATH DATE: December 12, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hunstville, Alabama
PLACE OF DEATH: New York City, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Tullulah Bankhead was an American stage and film actress, popular from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Born to a prestigious family (her father became a prominent congressman), she made her Broadway debut in 1918 and achieved fame on the London stage in The Dancer (1923). Her vivid presence and throaty voice contributed to her singular performances in the hit plays The Little Foxes (1939), The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), and Private Lives (1946). She made films such as A Woman’s Law (1928) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) but remained primarily a stage performer. Her final stage appearance was in The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (1964).

Personal Quotes:

“Say anything about me, darling, as long as it isn’t boring.”

“It’s the good girls that keep diaries. Bad girls never have the time.”

Tallulah Bankhead died in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia, complicated by emphysema and malnutrition, at 7:45 A.M. on December 12, 1968, aged 66. She was buried in Saint Paul’s Churchyard, Chestertown, Maryland. Her last coherent words reportedly were “Codeine… bourbon.”

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Tallulah Bankhead has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.

Rock star Suzi Quatro portrayed Bankhead in a musical named Tallulah Who? in 1991. The musical was based on a book by Willie Rushton. Quatro co-wrote the music with Shirlie Roden. The show ran from 14 February to 9 March at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, UK and received favourable reviews.

Valerie Harper starred as Bankhead in Looped, which originated at The Pasadena Playhouse. It opened on Broadway on March 14, 2010 at the Lyceum Theatre, and closed on April 11, 2010.

Other actresses to portray Bankhead include Eugenia Rawls (in her one-woman stage show “Tallulah, A Memory”), Kathleen Turner (in Sandra Ryan Heyward’s one-woman touring show “Tallulah” in the late 1990s), Carrie Nye (on television in The Scarlett O’Hara War) and Helen Gallagher in an off-Broadway musical, Tallulah!

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Happy Birthday Paul Newman

Today is the 90th birthday of Paul Newman.  I think (at least hope) that we all have a similar desire for our life, a sort of State Park approach to humanity and the world:  to leave it better than we found it.  Paul Newman absolutely did.  The work he did on film has made the world a more beautiful place and the work his charities continue to do is a legacy that we will all benefit from for generations.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left it.

NAME: Paul Newman
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Race Car Driver, Entrepreneur
BIRTH DATE: January 26, 1925
DEATH DATE: September 26, 2008
EDUCATION: Kenyon College, Yale School of Drama
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cleveland, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Westport, Connecticut

BEST KNOWN FOR: Paul Newman came to be known as one of the finest actors of his time. He also started the Newman’s Own food company, which donates all profits to charity.

Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio. Newman grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his older brother Arthur and his parents, Arthur and Teresa. His father owned a sporting-goods store and his mother was a homemaker who loved the theatre. Newman got his first taste of acting while doing school plays, but it was not his first love at the time. In high school, he played football and hoped to be a professional athlete.

Graduating high school in 1943, Newman briefly attended college before enlisting in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. He wanted to be a pilot, but he was told that he could never fly a plane as he was colorblind. He ended up serving as a radio operator and spent part of World War II serving in the Pacific.

After leaving the military in 1946, Paul Newman attended Kenyon College in his home state of Ohio. He was on an athletic scholarship and played on the school’s football team. But after getting into some trouble, Newman changed course. “I got thrown in jail and kicked off the football team. Since I was determined not to study very much, I majored in theater the last two years,” he told Interview magazine in 1998.

After finishing college in 1949, Newman did summer stock theater in Wisconsin where he met his first wife, actress Jacqueline Witte. The couple soon married, and Newman continued to act until his father’s death in 1950. He and his wife moved to Ohio to run the family business for a time. Their first child, a son named Scott, was born there. After asking his brother to take over the business, Newman and his family relocated to Connecticut, where he studied at the Yale School of Drama.

Running out of money, Newman left Yale after a year and tried his luck in New York. He studied with Lee Strasberg at the famed Actor’s Studio alongside Marlon Brando, James Dean and Geraldine Page.

Newman made his Broadway debut in William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Picnic in 1953. During rehearsals he met actress Joanne Woodward, who was serving as an understudy for the production. While they were reportedly attracted to each other, the happily-married Newman did not pursue a romantic relationship with the young actress.

Around this time, Newman and his wife welcomed their second child together, a daughter named Susan. Picnic ran for 14 months, helping Newman support his growing family. He also found work on the then-emerging medium of television.

In 1954, Paul Newman made his film debut in The Silver Chalice for which he received terrible reviews. He had better success on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning The Desperate Hours (1955), in which he played an escaped convict who terrorizes a suburban family. During the run of the hit play, he and his wife added a third child — a daughter named Stephanie — to their family.

A winning turn on television helped pave the way for Newman’s return to Hollywood. Working with director Arthur Penn, he appeared in an episode of Philco Playhouse, “The Death of Billy the Kid,” written by Gore Vidal. Newman teamed up with Penn again for an episode of Playwrights ’56 for a story about a worn-down and battered boxer. Two projects became feature films: Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) and The Left-Handed Gun (1958).

In Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Newman again played a boxer. This time he took on the role of real-life prizefighter Rocky Graziano — and demonstrated his considered acting talents to movie-goers and critics alike. His reputation was further magnified with Penn’s The Left-Handed Gun, an adaptation of Gore Vidal’s earlier teleplay about Billy the Kid.

That same year, Paul Newman starred as Brick in the film version of Tennessee Williams‘ play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), opposite Elizabeth Taylor. He gave another strong performance as a hard-drinking former athlete and disinterested husband who struggles against different types of pressures exerted on him by his wife (Taylor) and his overpowering father (Burl Ives). Once dismissed as just another handsome face, Newman showed that he could handle the challenges of such a complex character. He was nominated for his first Academy Award for this role.

The Long Hot Summer (1958) marked the first big-screen pairing of Newman and Joanne Woodward. The two had already become a couple off-screen while he was still married to his first wife, and they wed in 1958 soon after his divorce was finalized. The next year, Newman returned to Broadway to star in the original production of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth. The production saw Newman acting opposite the great Geraldine Page, and was directed by Elia Kazan.

Newman continued to thrive professionally. He starred in Otto Preminger’s Exodus (1960) about the founding of the state of Israel. The following year, he took on one of his most famous roles. In The Hustler (1961), Newman played Fast Eddie, a slick, small-time pool shark who takes on the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). For his work on the film, Paul Newman received his second Academy Award nomination.

Taking on another remarkable part, Newman played the title character — an arrogant, unprincipled cowboy — in Hud (1963). The movie posters for the film described the character as “the man with the barbed wire soul,” and Newman earned critical acclaim and another Academy Award nomination for his work as yet another on-screen antihero.

In Cool Hand Luke (1967), Newman played a rebellious inmate at a southern prison. His convincing and charming portrayal led audiences to cheer on this convict in his battle against prison authorities. No matter how hard they leaned on Luke, he refused to bend to their will. This thoroughly enjoyable and realistic performance led to Paul Newman’s fourth Academy Award nomination.

The next year, Newman stepped behind the cameras to direct his wife in Rachel, Rachel (1968). Woodward starred as an older schoolteacher who dreams of love. A critical success, the film earned four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture.

A lesser-known film from this time helped trigger a new passion for the actor. While working on the car racing film, Winning (1969), Newman went to a professional driving program as part of his preparation for the role. He discovered that he loved racing and started to devote some of his time to the sport.

That same year, Newman starred alongside Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). He played Butch to Redford’s Sundance, and the pairing was a huge success with audiences, bringing in more than $46 million domestically. Recapturing their on-screen camaraderie, Newman and Redford played suave con men in The Sting (1973), another hit at the box office.

During the 1980s Newman continued to amass critical praise for his work. In Sydney Pollack’s Absence of Malice (1981), he played a man victimized by the media. The following year he starred as a down-and-out lawyer as The Verdict (1982). Both films earned Newman Academy Award nominations.

While he was widely considered one of the finest actors of his time, Paul Newman had never won an Academy Award. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to correct this error by giving Newman an honorary award for his contributions to film in 1985. With his trademark sense of humor, Newman said in his acceptance speech that “I am especially grateful that this did not come wrapped in a gift certificate to Forest Lawn [a famous cemetery].”

He returned to the character of Fast Eddie from The Hustler in 1986’s The Color of Money. This time around, his character was no longer the up-and-coming hustler, but a worn-out liquor salesman. He is drawn back in the world of pool by mentoring a young upstart (Tom Cruise). For his work on the film, Paul Newman finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Approaching his seventies, Newman continued to delight audiences with more character-driven roles. He played an aging, but crafty rascal who struggles with renewing a relationship with his estranged son in Nobody’s Fool (1994).

Newman played a crime boss in Road to Perdition (2002), which starred Tom Hanks as a hit man who must protect his son from Newman’s character. This role brought him another Academy Award nomination — this time for Best Supporting Actor.

In his later years, Paul Newman took fewer acting roles, but was still able to deliver impressive performances. He earned an Emmy Award for his nuanced depiction of a lay-about father in the television miniseries Empire Falls (2005), which was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Richard Russo novel. The miniseries also provided him the opportunity to work with his wife, Joanne Woodward.

Around this time, Paul Newman scored his first racing victory at a Connecticut track in 1972. He went on to win a national Sports Car Club of America title four years later. In 1977, Newman made the leap and became a professional racer. In 1995, Newman served as part of the winning team at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. With his victory, Newman became the oldest driver to win this 24-hour-long race.

Newman started his own food company in the early 1980s. He started out the business by making bottles of salad dressing to give out as gifts for Christmas one year with his friend, writer A. E. Hotchner. Newman then had an unusual idea as to what to do with the leftovers — he wanted to try selling the dressing to stores. The two went on to found Newman’s Own, whose profits and royalties are used for educational and charitable purposes. The company’s product line now extends from dressings to sauces to snacks to cookies. Since the inception of Newman’s Own, over $250 million has been donated to thousands of charities worldwide.

Newman’s other charitable foundations include the Scott Newman Center, which he founded in 1978, after his only son died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs. The group seeks to stop drug abuse through educational programs. He also established the Hole in the Wall Camps to give children with life-threatening illnesses a memorable, free holiday. In 1988, the first residential summer camp was opened in Ashford, Connecticut. There are now eight camps in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom and France. Some of the funds raised by Newman’s Own have gone to support the Hole in the Wall Camps.

Known for his love of race cars, Newman lent his distinctive voice to the 2006 animated film Cars, playing the part of Doc Hudson — a retired racecar. He also served as the narrator for the 2007 documentary The Price of Sugar, which explored the work of Father Christopher Hartley and his efforts to help the workers in the Dominican Republic’s sugar cane fields.

That same year, Newman announced that he was retiring from acting. “I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to,” he said during an appearance on Good Morning America. “You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

Newman, however, wasn’t going to leave the business entirely. He was planning on directing Of Mice and Men at the Westport Country Playhouse the following year. But he ended up withdrawing from the production because of health problems, and rumors began to circulate that the great actor was seriously ill. Statements from the actor and his representatives simply said he was “doing nicely” and, reflective of Newman’s sense of humor, being treated “for athlete’s foot and hair loss.”

A private man, Newman chose to keep the true nature of his illness to himself. He succumbed to cancer at his Westport, Connecticut home on September 26, 2008. This is where he and his wife had lived for numerous years to get away from the spotlight and where they chose to raise their three daughters, Nell, Melissa and Clea.

As the news of his death spread, praise and tributes began pouring in. “There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it,” friend Robert Redford said after learning about Newman’s death.

Paul Newman will be long remembered for his great films, his vibrant lifestyle and his extensive charitable works, and his relationship with Joanne Woodward will always be regarded as one of the most successful and enduring love stories in Hollywood history.

 

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Happy Birthday Barbara Stanwyck

Today is the 108th birthday of Barbara Stanwyck.  Born Ruby Stevens, reinvented herself into an internationally-known actress, and stayed in the public eye for 60 years.  Absolutely amazing.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

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.

Film, television and theatre actress Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She had a troubled childhood, having become an orphan at the age of 4 after her mother was pushed off of a moving streetcar and killed. Her father failed to cope with the loss of his wife and abandoned his five children.The young Stanwyck—who was raised by her sister, a showgirl—was forced to grow up quickly. She was basically left to fend for herself. At the age of 9, Stanwyck took up smoking. She ended up quitting school five years later. By age 15, she made her way into the entertainment industry after becoming a chorus girl and later made her Broadway debut in 1926 as a cabaret dancer in The Noose. This was shortly after she changed her name to Barbara Stanwyck.
Stanwyck, along with Golden Age actresses like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, helped to redefine the typical role of women in film. Unlike the damsels in distress and happy housewives often shown in films during this era, Stanwyck a wide range of women, all having their own set of motives and ideals. Some examples of her landmark roles were in Ladies They Talk About (1932) and Annie Oakley (1935)—in which she played the titular role.In 1937, Stanwyck’s talent as an actress was recognized on a grander scale as she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Stella Dallas(1937). She would come to be nominated three more times for the films Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)—each time for best actress in a leading role—however, she never won the award. In addition to the recognition she received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Double Indemnity, she was lauded by critics for having what’s considered one of her greatest roles as seductress and murderer Phyllis Dietrichson in the popular noir film. She did, however, receive an honorary Oscar in 1982. In total she filmed more than 80 films.
As Stanwyck got older, she began making more appearances in television and fewer on film. In the 1952, she made her first television appearance onThe Jack Benny Program (1932-55). She followed with more steady work on TV in series such as Goodyear Theater (1957-60), Zane Grey Theater (1956-61) and The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1960-61), for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award. One of her most memorable roles on TV was in The Big Valley (1965-69), in which she played the lead role as Victoria Barkley.In the 1980s, Stanwyck made several memorable television appearances. She played Mary Carson in the 1983 hit miniseries The Thorn Birds with Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. For portrayal of Ward’s strong-willed grandmother, Stanwyck won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. She returned to prime time two years later with a role on Dynasty and then appeared on the popular drama’s spin-off The Colbys.Stanwyck was a reclusive person outside of acting, much different than the outgoing female characters that she so often played. After marrying comedian Fay, the couple adopted a son together, Dion Anthony Fay in 1932, before they got divorced in 1935 after it was reported that he had a drinking problem. She then married actor Robert Taylor in 1939, and the couple stayed together for a little more than a decade before they got divorced in 1951. She lived the rest of her life alone, preferring work as opposed to social interaction, during her later years.

One of her closest friends was her co-star from the series The Big Valley,Linda Evans. Evans said that after her mother passed, Stanwyck stepped in and took on that absent mother role in her life while they were filming. Stanwyck died a pioneering and often overlooked actress in Santa Monica, California, on January 20, 1990, from congestive heart failure. At her request, no funeral or memorial service was held.Stanwyck made the transition from Broadway to the silver screen in the late-1920s, trying her hand at acting in the film Broadway Nights (1927) as a dancer. The following year, she married comedian Frank Fay and in 1929 she took on a part in the film The Locked Door (1929) before she finished her stage run on Broadway and moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in film. Although Stanwyck’s career in film almost ended before it began with two unrecognized film roles under her belt, she managed to convince director Frank Capra to have a role in his film 1930 film Ladies of Leisure. The film garnered Stanwyck the attention that she desired.
Stanwyck’s role as a woman whose priorities revolved around money first and foremost was only the first in a string of performances that showed a progressive, stronger side of women. After her acting chops were put on display, she was signed to a contract with Columbia and appeared in the filmIllicit (1931). She soon followed with several popular films, including Ten Cents a Dance (1931), Night Nurse (1931) and Forbidden (1932), a film that took Stanwyck to Hollywood’s A-list.