I realize there are a lot of old-timers on this list, and it's pretty eclectic, but I have interviewed and written in the fields of nostalgia, classic film, soap opera, and opera.
Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz, the eldest of three children of Helen (Klein) and Emanuel Schwartz, Jewish immigrants from Hungary. Curtis himself admits that while he had almost no formal education, he was a student of the "school of hard knocks" and learned from a young age that the only person who ever had his back was himself...
Rodney Stephen Steiger was born in Westhampton, New York, to Augusta Amelia (Driver) and Frederick Jacob Steiger, both vaudevillians. He was of German and Austrian ancestry. After his parents' divorce, Steiger was raised by his mother in Newark, New Jersey. He dropped out of Westside High school at age 16 and joined the Navy...
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Undoubtedly the woman who had come to epitomize what we recognize today as "celebrity", Zsa Zsa Gabor, is better known for her many marriages, personal appearances, her "dahlink" catchphrase, her actions, life gossip, and quotations on men, rather than her film career. Zsa Zsa Gabor was born Sári Gabor in Budapest...
Eighteen-year-old Joan Bennett had intended to avoid the Bennett tradition of acting but, divorced and with a child to support, had little choice; she accepted a role in her father's play "Jarnegan", then her first leading film role in Bulldog Drummond
. Her popularity growing, she made 14 films under a Fox contract...
Henry Franklin Winkler was born on October 30, 1945, in Manhattan, New York. His parents, Ilse Anna Maria (Hadra) and Harry Irving Winkler, were Jewish immigrants who avoided the German Holocaust, moving to the US in 1939. His father was the president of an international lumber company while his mother worked alongside his father...
Michael Keaton is an American actor. He is currently a visiting scholar at Carnegie Mellon University. Keaton first rose to fame for his comedic film roles in Night Shift (1982), Mr. Mom (1983), Johnny Dangerously (1984) and Beetlejuice (1988), and he earned further acclaim for his dramatic portrayal of Bruce Wayne / Batman in Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992)...
Born Helen Luella Koford on January 7, 1929, the Los Angeles, California, native worked as a model before she made her film debut at age 11 in 20th Century-Fox's Maryland
. Throughout the 1940s she worked under a variety of names (her own, Judy Ford and January Ford) before settling on Terry Moore in 1948...
Journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns
once dubbed Lina Basquette "The Screen Tragedy Girl." In retrospect, Lina's private life bore a similar description. While six of her eight marriages ended up "I Don'ts" (she was widowed twice), she would also have to contend with a flurry of legal confrontations, stormy affairs and suicide attempts...
Born in Portland, Maine to a musically-inclined family (her mother was once an opera singer) and on stage from the age of 5, singer/actress Linda Lavin graduated from The College of William and Mary with a theatre degree. She pounded the New York pavements in the early 1960s searching for work following some stock roles in New Jersey...
Tap dancing at the age of 16 months, pert and pretty Elinor Donahue has been entertaining audiences for six decades. Born Mary Eleanor Donahue in Tacoma, Washington in 1937, she appeared as a radio singer and vaudeville dancer while still a mere toddler, then was picked up by Universal Studios at the age of 5...
Hugh O'Brian had the term "beefcake" written about him during his nascent film years in the early 1950s, but he chose to avoid the obvious typecast as he set up his career. O'Brian was born Hugh Charles Krampe in Rochester, New York, to Ohio-born parents Edith Lillian (Marks) and Hugh John Krampe, a United States Marine Corps officer...
An only child, Robert Fuller was born as: Buddy Lee in Troy, New York, where his stepfather, Robert Simpson, Sr., was both a dance instructor and a Naval Academy officer, and Betty Simpson, was also a dance instructor. He and his family moved to Key West, Florida, where Lee had been raised. Between acting and dancing...
Ingo Rademacher was born in the small village of Iserlohn-Letmathe, West Germany. Ingo lived on the European continent until his parents moved to New South Wales, Australia, in 1981. His sister, Anne, and he helped his parents work a 400-acre cattle and Angora goat station there. "I played rugby and worked the ranch...
Ted King was raised in Maryland, California and New York. He attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University where he studied film direction. King co-founded the Portal Theatre Company in New York City and has been a strong presence in New York Theatre for several years. King worked as a film and video editor before landing his first leading acting role.
Tyrone Power Jr.
Great-great grandson of the original theatrical great 'Tyrone Power'. Grandson of the American matinee idol and silent film star known today as Tyrone Power Sr.
. Son of the famed leading man of sound pictures Tyrone Power
. Born two months after the death of his father to Deborah Minardos Power. Educated at Pomona College in California...
Coleen Gray was born in Staplehurst, Nebraska, in 1922. After graduating from high school she studied dramatics at Hamline University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She then decided to see America and traveled to California, stopping off at La Jolla where she worked as a waitress. After several weeks there...
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. She is the daughter of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, and William Perske, who was born in New Jersey, to Polish Jewish parents. Her family was middle-class, with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary...
One of four children born to American missionaries, Jayne Meadows (nee Cotter) and her family returned to America in the early 1930s wherein Jayne was forced to learn the English language, only then speaking Chinese and other foreign languages. She developed an early interest in acting and her quick...
Adrienne Jo Barbeau is an American actress and author best known for her roles on the TV series Maude
and in horror films, especially those directed by John Carpenter
, with whom she was once married. She was born on June 11, 1945 in Sacramento, California, the daughter of an executive for Mobil Oil...
This elegant singer/actress initially had designs on becoming an opera singer. Born in Montana on May 20, 1933, and christened Constance Mary Towers, she appeared on radio as a child singer. Her family moved to New York where she subsequently studied at the Julliard School of Music and the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts (AADA)...
Since David McCallum's father, David McCallum Sr.
, was first violinist for the London Philharmonic and his mother, Dorothy Dorman, was a cellist, it's not surprising that David was originally headed for a career in music, playing oboe. He studied briefly at the Royal Academy of Music. He left that, however...
Buddy Ebsen began his career as a dancer in the late 1920s in a Broadway chorus. He later formed a vaudeville act with his sister Vilma Ebsen
, which also appeared on Broadway. In 1935 he and his sister went to Hollywood, where they were signed for the first of MGM's Eleanor Powell
movies, Broadway Melody of 1936
Born in Santa Cruz, California, Beverly Garland studied dramatics under Anita Arliss, the sister of renowned stage and screen star George Arliss
. She acted in little theater in Glendale then in Phoenix after her family relocated to Arizona. Garland also worked in radio and appeared scantily clad in a few risqué shorts before making her feature film debut in a supporting part in D.O.A.
Tina Louise was born Tina Blacker in New York City, the daughter of Sylvia (Horn) and Joseph Blacker, who owned a candy store. Tina was still in her teens when she burst upon the national scene by starring on Broadway in the critically acclaimed box-office success "Li'l Abner", based on the famous comic strip character created by Al Capp
Peter Michael Falk was born on September 16, 1927, in New York City, New York. At the age of 3, his right eye was surgically removed due to cancer. He graduated from Ossining High School, where he was president of his class. His early career choices involved becoming a certified public accountant, and...
Monty Hall was born Maurice Halperin on August 25, 1921 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba in 1945. He's the father of Tony Award winner Joanna Gleason
, television writer/director Sharon Hall
, and Emmy Award winner television writer/director Richard Hall
Canadian-born Paul Anka first achieved success in the 1950s as a teenage singing star (and, for the times, an unusual one in that he wrote many of his own songs). Although he appeared in several films, and was quite believable as a nervous, hyper young soldier in The Longest Day
(for which he also composed the theme music)...
Robert Gerard Goulet was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, to a family of French-Canadian origin. He was the son of Jeanette (Gauthier) and Joseph Georges André Goulet. After hearing his son sing "Lead Kindly Light", in their church hall, his father told him, "I'm proud of you, son". A few weeks later...
Karen Lynn Gorney
Karen Lynn Gorney is the romantic star of Saturday Night Fever
: the dance partner and fantasy girlfriend who said "no" to John Travolta
, and won his heart in this mega-hit film, released on DVD to raves. Miss Gorney is also the legendary "Tara Martin" (Tad's big sister, Erica's mortal enemy) on ABC's award-winning All My Children
The refined and debonair English actor Jeremy Brett will forever be best remembered for his long-running and critically acclaimed portrayal of Sherlock Holmes for Britain's Granada Television. From a privileged background, Brett was educated at England's most prestigious independent school, Eton College...
Mr. Geary has come a long way from Coalville, Utah, the small mountain community of 800 where he was born. Tony was a gifted student, attending the University of Utah as a Presidential Award Scholar in theater. Jack Albertson saw Tony perform there, a nd cast him in "The Subject Was Roses." The production...
Jackie began training for the classic ballet at age 5. She was accepted into the New Jersey Dance Company at age 15, and accepted a scholarship from New York University at age 15 to pursue a major in dance. The dark-haired beauty decided to try acting, and has become a staple of daytime drama (aka soap operas).
Matthew Nile Ashford was born on January 29, 1960, in the town of Davenport, Iowa. He is the third youngest [youngest boy] of eight kids. He has four brothers and 3 sisters, and in descending order their names are: Dave [6/4], Jeff [6/4], Phil [10/1], Teresa [4/16], Randy [8/9], Matt [1/29], Susie [3/13]...
As a kid in the 1930s growing up in a tough New York neighborhood, kinetic wiseguy Larry Storch took in the multi-ethnic flavor of his surroundings and started blurting out various accents as a juvenile to provoke laughs and earn attention. Little did he know that this early talent would take him on a six-decade journey as a prime actor and comedian...
Jack Warden was born John Warden Lebzelter, Jr. on September 18, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey, to Laura M. (Costello) and John Warden Lebzelter. His father was of German and Irish descent, and his mother was of Irish ancestry. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of seventeen, young Jack Lebzelter was expelled from Louisville's DuPont Manual High School for repeatedly fighting...
With effortless class and elegant charm, Gene Barry took 50s and 60s TV by storm after a rather lackluster start on the musical stage and in films. Born Eugene Klass in New York City on June 14, 1919, the son of Martin, an amateur violinist, and Eva Klass, an amateur singer, he showed a gift at an early age as a violin virtuoso during adolescence (obviously inherited from his father)...
Michael Badalucco, a Brooklyn native, got his start in the entertainment industry at a very young age, going to work with his father Giuseppe, a Sicilian born immigrant, who worked as a carpenter on movie sets. In 1963, during the filming of Fail Safe starring Henry Fonda, a photo of a young boy was needed...
Morgan Brittany, born in Los Angeles, CA, was like most little girls and wanted to be an actress. She began her acting career as a child under the name Suzanne Cupito. Her big break came in Gypsy
, where she co-starred with her favorite actress, Natalie Wood
. Morgan's career would continue to grow and would make a name for herself when she landed a role in TV's Dallas
Doris Roberts was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Ann (Meltzer) and Larry Green. She was raised in New York, and took her stepfather's surname. Roberts was a 20-year veteran of the Broadway stage before she began appearing steadily in character roles in film and on television during the 1970s. A versatile player with an inescapably "mom-like" presence...
Boyishly handsome Dwayne Hickman, the younger brother of Darryl Hickman
, followed in his sibling's tiny footsteps as a moppet film actor himself, appearing in such features as Captain Eddie
(with Darryl) and as "Nip Worden" in The Return of Rusty
and the rest of that dog adventure series. On a temporary sabbatical from acting...
The lovely, continuously upbeat and iconic All-American mom from the classic Happy Days
TV sitcom had fervent desires of becoming an actress while growing up in her obscure Minnesota town. Born Marian Ross (with an "a") in 1928, she grew up in her native state and, at one time, worked as a teenage au pair in order to earn money for drama lessons at the MacPhail Center in Minneapolis...
Farley Earle Granger was born in 1925 in San Jose, California, to Eva (Hopkins) and Farley Earle Granger, who owned an automobile dealership. Right out of high school, he was brought to the attention of movie producer Samuel Goldwyn
, who cast him in a small role in The North Star
. He followed it up with a much bigger part in The Purple Heart
and then joined the army...
Alan Young was born in Northern England in 1919, but his Scots father moved the family to Edinburgh, Scotland, when Young was a toddler and then to Canada when Young was about 6 years old. As a boy, he suffered from severe asthma, which kept him bedridden for long periods of time but encouraged his love of radio...
Long a vital, respected lady of the classic and contemporary stage this grand lady did not become a household name and sought-after film actress until age 56 when she turned in a glorious, Oscar-winning perf as Cher
's sardonic mother in the romantic comedy Moonstruck
. Since then movie...
Armed with an acid dry wit and a full arsenal of sarcasm and sass, African-American character comedienne Marla Gibbs showed up on 70s TV with a bang in middle age (44). Landing the feisty maid role on the popular ground-breaking CBS comedy, The Jeffersons
, eventually led to her very own sitcom, 227
"Loverly" soprano Marni Nixon has ensured herself a proper place in film history although most moviegoers would not recognize her if they passed her on the street. But if you heard her, that might be a horse of a different color. Marni is one of those unsung heroes (or should I say "much sung" heroes) whose incredible talents were given short shrift at the time...
Jack Edward Larson was born in Los Angeles, California, to Anita (Calicoff) and George E. Larson. He was raised in Pasadena, and attended Pasadena Junior College (by coincidence, exactly like his Adventures of Superman
co-star George Reeves
). He was a contract player at Warner Bros. Typecast as Jimmy Olsen...
Roderick McDowall was born in London, the son of a Merchant Mariner father and a mother who had always wanted to be in movies. He was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family
, playing Peter Osborne, the younger brother of sisters played by Jessica Tandy
and Glynis Johns
Robert John Wagner, Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Thelma Hazel Alvera (Boe), a telephone operator, and Robert John Wagner, Sr., a traveling salesman. His paternal grandparents were German and his maternal grandparents were Norwegian. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was seven. Always wanting to be an actor...
Eddie Albert's television career is the earliest of any other performer. It began years before electronic television was introduced to the public. In June of 1936 Eddie appeared in RCA/NBC's first private live performance for their radio licensees in New York City. This was very early experimental all electronic television system...
As the short, hypertensive male counterpart of the stellar husband-and-wife comedy team "Stiller & Meara", Jerry Stiller and wife Anne Meara
were on top of the comedy game in the 1960s, a steady and hilarious presence on television variety, notably The Ed Sullivan Show
, on which they appeared 36 times...
Comedienne Anna Meara was born September 20, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York, to Mary (Dempsey) and Edward Joseph Meara, who were both of Irish descent. She and her husband, Jerry Stiller
were members of the improvisational company, the Compass Players, which later became SCTV
. They performed as a duo under the name "Stiller and Meara"...
The dark and smoldering American soprano Anna Moffo was born in Wayne Pennsylvania, on June 27, 1932, and, following graduation at Radnor High School, studied at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music and in Rome, Italy on a Fulbright scholarship at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia. At one time she was actually considering joining a nunnery but her love for music won out...
From the age of five, Linda Blair had to get used to the spotlight, first as a child model and then as an actress, when out of 600 applicants she was picked for the role of Regan, the possessed child, in The Exorcist
. Linda quickly rose to international fame, won the Golden Globe, and seemed to be set to take the Academy Award for that role...
Barbara Eden was born as Barbara Jean Morehead in Tucson, Arizona, went on and become one of America's most endearing and enduring actresses. A graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California. Eden would go on to study at San Francisco's City College as well as the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Elizabeth Holloway School of Theatre...
Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan, on January 22, 1932, to Charlotte Sadie (Alperin) and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. Her father was a Polish Jewish immigrant and her mother was of Russian Jewish descent. Her father moved the family to Los Angeles, California, when she was 6-years-old...
Quite distinctive with her dark hollow eyes, sharp ethnic looks and frizzy head of hair, veteran stage actress Kathleen Widdoes began her career enacting delicate but vibrant classical heroines. In later years, she gained significant visibility on TV, particularly as an emotive, but well-meaning and strong-minded presence on various daytime soapers...