Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson was born in Paris, France, to English parents, Jacqueline Luesby and Chris Watson, both lawyers. She moved to Oxfordshire when she was five, where she attended the Dragon School. From the age of six, Emma knew that she wanted to be an actress and, for a number of years, she trained at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts, a part-time theatre school where she studied singing, dancing and acting. By the age of ten, she had performed and taken the lead in various Stagecoach productions and school plays.
In 1999, casting began for Harry Potter and the Sorcerers (2001), the film adaptation of British author J.K. Rowling's bestselling novel. Casting agents found Emma through her Oxford theatre teacher. After eight consistent auditions, producer David Heyman told Emma and fellow applicants, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, that they had been cast for the roles of the three leads, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. The release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) was Emma's cinematic screen debut. The film broke records for opening-day sales and opening-weekend takings and was the highest-grossing film of 2001. Critics praised the film and the performances of the three leading young actors. The highly distributed British newspaper, 'The Daily Telegraph', called her performance "admirable". Later, Emma was nominated for five awards for her performance in the film, winning the Young Artist Award for Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film.
After the release of the first film of the highly successful franchise, Emma became one of the most well-known actresses in the world. She continued to play the role of Hermione Granger for nearly ten years, in all of the following Harry Potter films: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011). Emma acquired two Critics' Choice Award nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for her work in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. The completion of the seventh and eight movies saw Emma receive nominations in 2011 for a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award, and for Best Actress at the Jameson Empire Awards. The Harry Potter franchise won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema in February 2011.
2011 saw Emma in Simon Curtis's My Week With Marilyn (2011), alongside a stellar cast of Oscar nominees including Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, in addition to Eddie Redmayne, Dame Judi Dench, Dougray Scott, Zoe Wanamaker, Toby Jones and Dominic Cooper. Chronicling a week in Marilyn Monroe's life, the film featured Emma in the supporting role of Lucy, a costume assistant to Colin Clark (Redmayne). The film was released by The Weinstein Company and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical. In 2012 Emma was seen in Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his coming-of-age novel The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012), starring opposite Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller. This independent drama centered around Charlie (Lerman), an introverted freshman who is taken under the wings of two seniors (Watson and Miller) who welcome him to the real world. The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and received rave reviews. The film won the People's Choice Award for Favourite Dramatic Movie and Emma also picked up the People's Choice Award for Favourite Dramatic Movie Actress. Emma was awarded a second time for this role with the Best Supporting Actress Award at the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards where the film also won the Best Ensemble Performance Award.
In summer 2013, Emma starred in Sofia Coppola's American satirical black comedy crime film, The Bling Ring (2013). The film took inspiration from real events and followed a group of teenagers who, obsessed with fashion and fame, burgled the homes of celebrities in Los Angeles. The film opened the Un Certain Regard section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Emma also appeared in a cameo role as herself in Seth Rogen's apocalypse comedy This Is The End (2013). The film tells the story about what happens to some of Hollywood's best loved celebrities when the apocalypse strikes during a party at James Franco's house.
Emma was most recently seen in Darren Aronofsky's Noah (2014) opposite Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman and Anthony Hopkins. The film told the epic, biblical tale of Noah and the ark. Emma plays the role of Ila, a young woman who develops a close relationship with Noah's son, Shem (Booth). Noah has made an outstanding $300m since its release in March. Emma has completed filming her next project, Regression, written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar. Emma will star in the thriller opposite Oscar nominated Ethan Hawke. Set in Minnesota 1990, Regression tells the story of Detective Bruce Kenner (Hawke) who investigates the case of young Angela, played by Emma, who accuses her father of sexual abuse. The film is expected to be released in 2015. Emma will next play Kelsea Glynn in the film adaptation of The Queen Of The Tearling, Erika Johansen's page-turner of a novel about a young woman raised by foster parents in a cottage hidden away in a remote forest. On her 19th birthday, Kelsea is removed from her home to take her rightful place as sovereign of a fictional post-Utopian country that hides dark secrets and is menaced by a neighboring monarch. The screenplay for The Queen Of The Tearling has been written by Mark L. Smith. David Heyman will be producing the film and Emma will also serve as an executive producer. David and Emma worked together on all the Harry Potter films. The producer snapped up the rights to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series very early, before publication; and he and Warner Bros have done the same thing with the Tearling trilogy. Filming is due to commence next year.
In 2012, Emma was honored with the Calvin Klein Emerging Star Award at the ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards. In 2013, Emma was awarded the Trailblazer Award at the MTV Movie Awards in April and was honored with the GQ Woman of the Year Award at the GQ Awards in September. Further to her acting career, Emma is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Emma graduated from Brown University in May 2014.
American actor Mark Wahlberg is one of a handful of respected entertainers who successfully made the transition from teen pop idol to respected actor. A Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for The Departed who went on to receive positive critical reviews for his performance in The Fighter, Wahlberg also is a solid comedy actor, proven by his starring role in Ted.
Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg was born June 5, 1971 in a poor working class district, Dorchester, of Boston, Massachusetts. He is the son of Alma Elaine (Donnelly), a nurse's aide and clerk, and Donald Edward Wahlberg, a delivery driver. Wahlberg is the youngest of nine children. He is of Irish, Swedish (from his paternal grandfather), and more distant French-Canadian and English, descent. The large Wahlberg brood didn't have a lot growing up, especially after his parents divorced when he was eleven. The kids crammed into a three bedroom apartment, none of them having very much privacy. Mark's mother has said that after the divorce, she became very self-absorbed with her own problems. She has blamed herself for her son's subsequent problems and delinquency. Wahlberg dropped out of high school at age 14 (but later got his GED) to pursue a life of petty crime and drugs. He'd spend his days scamming and stealing, working on the odd drug deal before treating himself to the substances himself.
The young man also had a violent streak - one which was often aimed at minorities. At age sixteen, he was convicted of assault against two Vietnamese men after he had tried to rob them. As a result of his assault conviction, he was sentenced to serve 50 days in prison at Deer Island penitentiary. Whilst there, he began working out to pass time and, when he emerged at the end of his sentence, he had gone from being a scrawny young kid to a buff young man. Wahlberg also credits the jail time as being his motivation to improve his lifestyle and leave the crime behind him.
Around this time, his older brother Donnie Wahlberg had become an overnight teen idol as a member of the 1980s boy band New Kids on the Block. A precursor to the boy-band craze, the group was dominating the charts and were on top of their game. Mark himself had been an original member of the band but had backed out early on - uncomfortable with the squeaky clean image of the group. Donnie used his connections in the music business to help his little brother secure a recording contract, and soon the world was introduced to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, with Wahlberg as a bad-boy rapper who danced in his boxers. Despite a lack of singing ability, promoters took to his dance moves and a physique they knew teenage girls would love.
Donnie scripted some easy songs for Mark, who collected a troupe of dancers and a DJ to become his "Funky Bunch" and "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch" was born. His debut album, "Music for the People", was a smash hit, which was propelled along by the rapper's willingness to disrobe down to boxer-briefs on stage, not to mention several catchy tunes. Teenage girls thrilled to the rapping "bad boy". Record producer David Geffen saw in Wahlberg a cash-cow of marketing ability. After speaking to designer Calvin Klein, Marky Mark was set up as the designer's chief underwear model.
His scantily clad figure soon adorned billboards across the nation. Ironically, while the New Kids on the Block's fame was dwindling as audiences tired of their syrupy lyrics, "Marky Mark's" bad boy image was becoming even more of a commodity. He was constantly in the headlines (often of the tabloids) after multiple scandals. In 1992, he released a book dedicated to his penis. Wahlberg was constantly getting into rumored fights, most memorably with Madonna and her entourage at a Los Angeles party. While things were always intense, they were relatively harmless and made for enjoyable reading for the public. However, when the story of his arrest for assault (and the allegations of racism) broke in the press, things took on a decidedly darker note. People were not amused. Soon after, while on a British talk show along with rapper Shabba Ranks, he got into even more trouble. After Ranks made the statement that gays should be crucified, Wahlberg was accused of condoning the comments by his silence. Marky Mark was suddenly surrounded by charges of brutality, homophobia and racial hatred. His second album, "You Gotta Believe", had not been faring well and, after the charges surfaced, it plummeted from the charts.
Adding to the hoopla, Wahlberg was brought to court for allegedly assaulting a security guard. He was ordered to make amends by appearing in a series of anti-bias advertisements. Humbled and humiliated by his fall from grace in the music world, Wahlberg decided to pursue another angle, acting. He dropped the "Marky Mark" moniker and became known simply as Mark Wahlberg. His first big screen role came in Penny Marshall's Renaissance Man. Despite the name change, many people snickered at the idea of the has-been rapper thinking he could make it as an actor. From the get-go, he was proving them wrong. In Renaissance Man, he gave an utterly charming performance as a simple but sincere army recruit. What naysayers remained found it increasingly difficult to write Mark Wahlberg off as he delivered one fine performance after another. He blew them away in the controversial The Basketball Diaries and chilled them in Fear as every father's worst nightmare.
The major turning point in Wahlberg's career came with the role of troubled porn star Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights. Since then, Wahlberg has chosen roles that demonstrate a wide range of dramatic ability, starring in critically acclaimed dramas such as Three Kings and The Perfect Storm, popcorn flicks like Planet of the Apes and Contraband, and even indies such as I Heart Huckabees.
Wahlberg and his wife Rhea Durham have four children.
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman attended Los Angeles City College before serving several years in the US Air Force as a mechanic between 1955 and 1959. His first dramatic arts exposure was on the stage including appearing in an all-African American production of the exuberant musical Hello, Dolly!.
Throughout the 1970s, he continued his work on stage, winning Drama Desk and Clarence Derwent Awards and receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance in The Mighty Gents in 1978. In 1980, he won two Obie Awards, for his portrayal of Shakespearean anti-hero Coriolanus at the New York Shakespeare Festival and for his work in Mother Courage and Her Children. Freeman won another Obie in 1984 for his performance as The Messenger in the acclaimed Brooklyn Academy of Music production of Lee Breuer's The Gospel at Colonus and, in 1985, won the Drama-Logue Award for the same role. In 1987, Freeman created the role of Hoke Coleburn in Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Driving Miss Daisy, which brought him his fourth Obie Award. In 1990, Freeman starred as Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival's The Taming of the Shrew, opposite Tracey Ullman. Returning to the Broadway stage in 2008, Freeman starred with Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in Clifford Odets' drama The Country Girl, directed by Mike Nichols.
Freeman first appeared on TV screens as several characters including "Easy Reader", "Mel Mounds" and "Count Dracula" on the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) show The Electric Company. He then moved into feature film with another children's adventure, Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow!. Next, there was a small role in the thriller Blade; then he played Casca in Julius Caesar and the title role in Coriolanus. Regular work was coming in for the talented Freeman and he appeared in the prison dramas Attica and Brubaker, Eyewitness, and portrayed the final 24 hours of slain Malcolm X in Death of a Prophet. For most of the 1980s, Freeman continued to contribute decent enough performances in films that fluctuated in their quality. However, he really stood out, scoring an Oscar nomination as a merciless hoodlum in Street Smart and, then, he dazzled audiences and pulled a second Oscar nomination in the film version of Driving Miss Daisy opposite Jessica Tandy. The same year, Freeman teamed up with youthful Matthew Broderick and fiery Denzel Washington in the epic Civil War drama Glory about freed slaves being recruited to form the first all-African American fighting brigade.
His star continued to rise, and the 1990s kicked off strongly with roles in The Bonfire of the Vanities, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and The Power of One. Freeman's next role was as gunman Ned Logan, wooed out of retirement by friend William Munny to avenge several prostitutes in the wild west town of Big Whiskey in Clint Eastwood's de-mythologized western Unforgiven. The film was a sh and scored an acting Oscar for Gene Hackman, a directing Oscar for Eastwood, and the Oscar for best picture. In 1993, Freeman made his directorial debut on Bopha! and soon after formed his production company, Revelations Entertainment.
More strong scripts came in, and Freeman was back behind bars depicting a knowledgeable inmate (and obtaining his third Oscar nomination), befriending falsely accused banker Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. He was then back out hunting a religious serial killer in Se7en, starred alongside Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction, and was pursuing another serial murderer in Kiss the Girls.
Further praise followed for his role in the slave tale of Amistad, he was a worried US President facing Armageddon from above in Deep Impact, appeared in Neil LaBute's black comedy Nurse Betty, and reprised his role as Alex Cross in Along Came a Spider. Now highly popular, he was much in demand with cinema audiences, and he co-starred in the terrorist drama The Sum of All Fears, was a military officer in the Stephen King-inspired Dreamcatcher, gave divine guidance as God to Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty, and played a minor role in the comedy The Big Bounce.
2005 was a huge year for Freeman. First, he he teamed up with good friend Clint Eastwood to appear in the drama, Million Dollar Baby. Freeman's on-screen performance is simply world-class as ex-prize fighter Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris, who works in a run-down boxing gym alongside grizzled trainer Frankie Dunn, as the two work together to hone the skills of never-say-die female boxer Hilary Swank. Freeman received his fourth Oscar nomination and, finally, impressed the Academy's judges enough to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. He also narrated Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds and appeared in Batman Begins as Lucius Fox, a valuable ally of Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman for director Christopher Nolan. Freeman would reprise his role in the two sequels of the record-breaking, genre-redefining trilogy.
Roles in tentpoles and indies followed; highlights include his role as a crime boss in Lucky Number Slevin, a second go-round as God in Evan Almighty with Steve Carell taking over for Jim Carrey, and a supporting role in Ben Affleck's directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. He co-starred with Jack Nicholson in the breakout hit The Bucket List in 2007, and followed that up with another box-office success, Wanted, then segued into the second Batman film, The Dark Knight.
In 2009, he reunited with Eastwood to star in the director's true-life drama Invictus, on which Freeman also served as an executive producer. For his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the film, Freeman garnered Oscar, Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award nominations, and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor.
Recently, Freeman appeared in RED, a surprise box-office hit; he narrated the Conan the Barbarian remake, starred in Rob Reiner's The Magic of Belle Isle; and capped the Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. Freeman has several films upcoming, including the thriller Now You See Me, under the direction of Louis Leterrier, and the science fiction actioner Oblivion, in which he stars with Tom Cruise.
Rose McGowan is an American actress and director, known for her contribution to independent film. Since the age of nineteen, she has appeared in acclaimed films by Gregg Araki, Wes Craven, Brian De Palma, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. In 2014, her directorial debut Dawn was nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Rose Arianna McGowan was born on September 5, 1973 in Florence, Tuscany, Italy, to American parents Terri and Daniel Patrick McGowan. She is the second eldest of six siblings, and has Irish, French, and English ancestry. As a young child, she was raised within the Italian chapter of the Children of God. During the early 1980s, her family severed ties with the community and migrated to Eugene, Oregon, USA. Following the divorce of her parents, Rose relocated to Gig Harbor, Washington, to live with her grandmother. At age 14, McGowan was accused of drug use by a family friend and committed to rehabilitation. She has consistently maintained the decision was unjustified. Upon release, she spent a year without a home and was emancipated from her parents by the age of 15. McGowan's career as an actor began with The Doom Generation. Originally intended for Jordan Ladd, the character of Amy Blue was, coincidentally, awarded to McGowan by an associate of director Gregg Araki. For her performance, she was nominated at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards for Best Debut Performance. Subsequently cast in Wes Craven's Scream, she experienced further success when the project defied expectations to become one of the highest grossing films of the year. The innovative career of McGowan was overshadowed throughout much of the 1990s by her high-profile relationship with musician Brian Warner (aka Marilyn Manson). Strong performances in Going All the Way, Lewis & Clark & George, Southie and Jawbreaker were largely unseen by the general public. When the relationship ended between Rose and Manson in 2001, she remarked: "There is great love, but our lifestyle difference is, unfortunately, even greater". Rose continued to work solidly, appearing in a string of soft-sounding studio and independent films. Performances from this period included: a political activist in Showtime's The Killing Yard, a grifter in Strange Hearts and a factory worker in "Stealing Bess" (aka Vacuums). She was re-introduced to the mainstream as Paige Matthews in Aaron Spelling's Charmed, a popular television series for which she devoted five consecutive years. When "Charmed" finished its run in 2006, McGowan emerged in top form. Critics praised her efforts in Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. In several interviews, McGowan has expressed a general apathy and disdain for Hollywood. Despite this, her work ethic remains strong. Following her recent marriage to LA-based artist Davey Detail, the actress has resolved to purse further projects as a director.
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949, a decision for which he was severely criticized when his star began to dim in the 1960s and he was excoriated for squandering his talents. No actor ever exerted such a profound influence on succeeding generations of actors as did Brando. More than 50 years after he first scorched the screen as Stanley Kowalski in the movie version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and a quarter-century after his last great performance as Col. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, all American actors are still being measured by the yardstick that was Brando. It was if the shadow of John Barrymore, the great American actor closest to Brando in terms of talent and stardom, dominated the acting field up until the 1970s. He did not, nor did any other actor so dominate the public's consciousness of what WAS an actor before or since Brando's 1951 on-screen portrayal of Stanley made him a cultural icon. Brando eclipsed the reputation of other great actors circa 1950, such as Paul Muni and Fredric March. Only the luster of Spencer Tracy's reputation hasn't dimmed when seen in the starlight thrown off by Brando. However, neither Tracy nor Olivier created an entire school of acting just by the force of his personality. Brando did.
Marlon Brando, Jr. was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a calcium carbonate salesman, and his artistically inclined wife, the former Dorothy Julia Pennebaker. "Bud" Brando was one of three children. His ancestry included English, Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, and Scottish; his surname originated with a distant German immigrant ancestor named "Brandau". His oldest sister Jocelyn Brando was also an actress, taking after their mother, who engaged in amateur theatricals and mentored a then-unknown Henry Fonda, another Nebraska native, in her role as director of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Frannie, Brando's other sibling, was a visual artist. Both Brando sisters contrived to leave the Midwest for New York City, Jocelyn to study acting and Frannie to study art. Marlon managed to escape the vocational doldrums forecast for him by his cold, distant father and his disapproving schoolteachers by striking out for The Big Apple in 1943, following Jocelyn into the acting profession. Acting was the only thing he was good at, for which he received praise, so he was determined to make it his career - a high-school dropout, he had nothing else to fall back on, having been rejected by the military due to a knee injury he incurred playing football at Shattuck Military Academy, Brando Sr.'s alma mater. The school booted Marlon out as incorrigible before graduation.
Acting was a skill he honed as a child, the lonely son of alcoholic parents. With his father away on the road, and his mother frequently intoxicated to the point of stupefaction, the young Bud would play-act for her to draw her out of her stupor and to attract her attention and love. His mother was exceedingly neglectful, but he loved her, particularly for instilling in him a love of nature, a feeling which informed his character Paul in Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris") when he is recalling his childhood for his young lover Jeanne. "I don't have many good memories," Paul confesses, and neither did Brando of his childhood. Sometimes he had to go down to the town jail to pick up his mother after she had spent the night in the drunk tank and bring her home, events that traumatized the young boy but may have been the grain that irritated the oyster of his talent, producing the pearls of his performances. Anthony Quinn, his Oscar-winning co-star in Viva Zapata! told Brando's first wife Anna Kashfi, "I admire Marlon's talent, but I don't envy the pain that created it."
Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Konstantin Stanislavski, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theater would mark a watershed in American acting and culture.
Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in "I Remember Mama," a great success. As a young Broadway actor, Brando was invited by talent scouts from several different studios to screen-test for them, but he turned them down because he would not let himself be bound by the then-standard seven-year contract. Brando would make his film debut quite some time later in Fred Zinnemann's The Men for producer Stanley Kramer. Playing a paraplegic soldier, Brando brought new levels of realism to the screen, expanding on the verisimilitude brought to movies by Group Theatre alumni John Garfield, the predecessor closest to him in the raw power he projected on-screen. Ironically, it was Garfield whom producer Irene Mayer Selznick had chosen to play the lead in a new Tennessee Williams play she was about to produce, but negotiations broke down when Garfield demanded an ownership stake in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Burt Lancaster was next approached, but couldn't get out of a prior film commitment. Then director Elia Kazan suggested Brando, whom he had directed to great effect in Maxwell Anderson's play "Truckline Café," in which Brando co-starred with Karl Malden, who was to remain a close friend for the next 60 years.
During the production of "Truckline Café", Kazan had found that Brando's presence was so magnetic, he had to re-block the play to keep Marlon near other major characters' stage business, as the audience could not take its eyes off of him. For the scene where Brando's character re-enters the stage after killing his wife, Kazan placed him upstage-center, partially obscured by scenery, but where the audience could still see him as Karl Malden and others played out their scene within the café set. When he eventually entered the scene, crying, the effect was electric. A young Pauline Kael, arriving late to the play, had to avert her eyes when Brando made this entrance as she believed the young actor on stage was having a real-life conniption. She did not look back until her escort commented that the young man was a great actor.
The problem with casting Brando as Stanley was that he was much younger than the character as written by Williams. However, after a meeting between Brando and Williams, the playwright eagerly agreed that Brando would make an ideal Stanley. Williams believed that by casting a younger actor, the Neanderthalish Kowalski would evolve from being a vicious older man to someone whose unintentional cruelty can be attributed to his youthful ignorance. Brando ultimately was dissatisfied with his performance, though, saying he never was able to bring out the humor of the character, which was ironic as his characterization often drew laughs from the audience at the expense of Jessica Tandy's Blanche Dubois. During the out-of-town tryouts, Kazan realized that Brando's magnetism was attracting attention and audience sympathy away from Blanche to Stanley, which was not what the playwright intended. The audience's sympathy should be solely with Blanche, but many spectators were identifying with Stanley. Kazan queried Williams on the matter, broaching the idea of a slight rewrite to tip the scales back to more of a balance between Stanley and Blanche, but Williams demurred, smitten as he was by Brando, just like the preview audiences.
For his part, Brando believed that the audience sided with his Stanley because Jessica Tandy was too shrill. He thought Vivien Leigh, who played the part in the movie, was ideal, as she was not only a great beauty but she WAS Blanche Dubois, troubled as she was in her real life by mental illness and nymphomania. Brando's appearance as Stanley on stage and on screen revolutionized American acting by introducing "The Method" into American consciousness and culture. Method acting, rooted in Adler's study at the Moscow Art Theatre of Stanislavsky's theories that she subsequently introduced to the Group Theatre, was a more naturalistic style of performing, as it engendered a close identification of the actor with the character's emotions. Adler took first place among Brando's acting teachers, and socially she helped turn him from an unsophisticated Midwestern farm boy into a knowledgeable and cosmopolitan artist who one day would socialize with presidents.
Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Brando denounced Strasberg in his autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me" (1994), saying that he was a talentless exploiter who claimed he had been Brando's mentor. The Actors Studio had been founded by Strasberg along with Kazan and Stella Adler's husband, Harold Clurman, all Group Theatre alumni, all political progressives deeply committed to the didactic function of the stage. Brando credits his knowledge of the craft to Adler and Kazan, while Kazan in his autobiography "A Life" claimed that Brando's genius thrived due to the thorough training Adler had given him. Adler's method emphasized that authenticity in acting is achieved by drawing on inner reality to expose deep emotional experience
Interestingly, Elia Kazan believed that Brando had ruined two generations of actors, his contemporaries and those who came after him, all wanting to emulate the great Brando by employing The Method. Kazan felt that Brando was never a Method actor, that he had been highly trained by Adler and did not rely on gut instincts for his performances, as was commonly believed. Many a young actor, mistaken about the true roots of Brando's genius, thought that all it took was to find a character's motivation, empathize with the character through sense and memory association, and regurgitate it all on stage to become the character. That's not how the superbly trained Brando did it; he could, for example, play accents, whereas your average American Method actor could not. There was a method to Brando's art, Kazan felt, but it was not The Method.
After A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he received the first of his eight Academy Award nominations, Brando appeared in a string of Academy Award-nominated performances - in Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar and the summit of his early career, Kazan's On the Waterfront. For his "Waterfront" portrayal of meat-headed longshoreman Terry Malloy, the washed-up pug who "coulda been a contender," Brando won his first Oscar. Along with his iconic performance as the rebel-without-a-cause Johnny in The Wild One ("What are you rebelling against?" Johnny is asked. "What have ya got?" is his reply), the first wave of his career was, according to Jon Voight, unprecedented in its audacious presentation of such a wide range of great acting. Director John Huston said his performance of Marc Antony was like seeing the door of a furnace opened in a dark room, and co-star John Gielgud, the premier Shakespearean actor of the 20th century, invited Brando to join his repertory company.
It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionized American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean - who modeled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando - the young Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. After Brando, every up-and-coming star with true acting talent and a brooding, alienated quality would be hailed as the "New Brando," such as Warren Beatty in Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. "We are all Brando's children," Jack Nicholson pointed out in 1972. "He gave us our freedom." He was truly "The Godfather" of American acting - and he was just 30 years old. Though he had a couple of failures, like Désirée and The Teahouse of the August Moon, he was clearly miscast in them and hadn't sought out the parts so largely escaped blame.
In the second period of his career, 1955-62, Brando managed to uniquely establish himself as a great actor who also was a Top 10 movie star, although that star began to dim after the box-office high point of his early career, Sayonara (for which he received his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination). Brando tried his hand at directing a film, the well-reviewed One-Eyed Jacks that he made for his own production company, Pennebaker Productions (after his mother's maiden name). Stanley Kubrick had been hired to direct the film, but after months of script rewrites in which Brando participated, Kubrick and Brando had a falling out and Kubrick was sacked. According to his widow Christiane Kubrick, Stanley believed that Brando had wanted to direct the film himself all along.
Tales proliferated about the profligacy of Brando the director, burning up a million and a half feet of expensive VistaVision film at 50 cents a foot, fully ten times the normal amount of raw stock expended during production of an equivalent motion picture. Brando took so long editing the film that he was never able to present the studio with a cut. Paramount took it away from him and tacked on a re-shot ending that Brando was dissatisfied with, as it made the Oedipal figure of Dad Longworth into a villain. In any normal film Dad would have been the heavy, but Brando believed that no one was innately evil, that it was a matter of an individual responding to, and being molded by, one's environment. It was not a black-and-white world, Brando felt, but a gray world in which once-decent people could do horrible things. This attitude explains his sympathetic portrayal of Nazi officer Christian Diestl in the film he made before shooting One-Eyed Jacks, Edward Dmytryk's filming of Irwin Shaw's novel The Young Lions. Shaw denounced Brando's performance, but audiences obviously disagreed, as the film was a major hit. It would be the last hit movie Brando would have for more than a decade.
One-Eyed Jacks generated respectable numbers at the box office, but the production costs were exorbitant - a then-staggering $6 million - which made it run a deficit. A film essentially is "made" in the editing room, and Brando found cutting to be a terribly boring process, which was why the studio eventually took the film away from him. Despite his proved talent in handling actors and a large production, Brando never again directed another film, though he would claim that all actors essentially direct themselves during the shooting of a picture.
Between the production and release of One-Eyed Jacks, Brando appeared in Sidney Lumet's film version of Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending", The Fugitive Kind which teamed him with fellow Oscar winners Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. Following in Elizabeth Taylor's trailblazing footsteps, Brando became the second performer to receive a $1-million salary for a motion picture, so high were the expectations for this re-teaming of Kowalski and his creator (in 1961 critic Hollis Alpert had published a book "Brando and the Shadow of Stanley Kowalski). Critics and audiences waiting for another incendiary display from Brando in a Williams work were disappointed when the renamed The Fugitive Kind finally released. Though Tennessee was hot, with movie versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer burning up the box office and receiving kudos from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The Fugitive Kind was a failure. This was followed by the so-so box-office reception of One-Eyed Jacks in 1961 and then by a failure of a more monumental kind: Mutiny on the Bounty, a remake of the famed 1935 film.
Brando signed on to Mutiny on the Bounty after turning down the lead in the David Lean classic Lawrence of Arabia because he didn't want to spend a year in the desert riding around on a camel. He received another $1-million salary, plus $200,000 in overages as the shoot went overtime and over budget. During principal photography, highly respected director Carol Reed (an eventual Academy Award winner) was fired, and his replacement, two-time Oscar winner Lewis Milestone, was shunted aside by Brando as Marlon basically took over the direction of the film himself. The long shoot became so notorious that President John F. Kennedy asked director Billy Wilder at a cocktail party not "when" but "if" the "Bounty" shoot would ever be over. The MGM remake of one of its classic Golden Age films garnered a Best Picture Oscar nomination and was one of the top grossing films of 1962, yet failed to go into the black due to its Brobdingnagian budget estimated at $20 million, which is equivalent to $120 million when adjusted for inflation.
Brando and Taylor, whose Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century-Fox due to its huge cost overruns (its final budget was more than twice that of Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty), were pilloried by the show business press for being the epitome of the pampered, self-indulgent stars who were ruining the industry. Seeking scapegoats, the Hollywood press conveniently ignored the financial pressures on the studios. The studios had been hurt by television and by the antitrust-mandated divestiture of their movie theater chains, causing a large outflow of production to Italy and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s in order to lower costs. The studio bosses, seeking to replicate such blockbuster hits as the remakes of The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, were the real culprits behind the losses generated by large-budgeted films that found it impossible to recoup their costs despite long lines at the box office.
While Elizabeth Taylor, receiving the unwanted gift of reams of publicity from her adulterous romance with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, remained hot until the tanking of her own Tennessee Williams-renamed debacle Boom!, Brando from 1963 until the end of the decade appeared in one box-office failure after another as he worked out a contract he had signed with Universal Pictures. The industry had grown tired of Brando and his idiosyncrasies, though he continued to be offered prestige projects up through 1968.
Some of the films Brando made in the 1960s were noble failures, such as The Ugly American, The Chase and Reflections in a Golden Eye. For every "Reflections," though, there seemed to be two or three outright debacles, such as Bedtime Story, Morituri, A Countess from Hong Kong, Candy, The Night of the Following Day. By the time Brando began making the anti-colonialist picture Burn! in Colombia with Gillo Pontecorvo in the director's chair, he was box-office poison, despite having worked in the previous five years with such top directors as Arthur Penn, John Huston and the legendary Charles Chaplin, and with such top-drawer co-stars as David Niven, Yul Brynner, Sophia Loren and Taylor.
The rap on Brando in the 1960s was that a great talent had ruined his potential to be America's answer to Laurence Olivier, as his friend William Redfield limned the dilemma in his book "Letters from an Actor" (1967), a memoir about Redfield's appearance in Burton's 1964 theatrical production of "Hamlet." By failing to go back on stage and recharge his artistic batteries, something British actors such as Burton were not afraid to do, Brando had stifled his great talent, by refusing to tackle the classical repertoire and contemporary drama. Actors and critics had yearned for an American response to the high-acting style of the Brits, and while Method actors such as Rod Steiger tried to create an American style, they were hampered in their quest, as their king was lost in a wasteland of Hollywood movies that were beneath his talent. Many of his early supporters now turned on him, claiming he was a crass sellout.
Despite evidence in such films as The Chase, The Appaloosa and Reflections in a Golden Eye that Brando was in fact doing some of the best acting of his life, critics, perhaps with an eye on the box office, slammed him for failing to live up to, and nurture, his great gift. Brando's political activism, starting in the early 1960s with his championing of Native Americans' rights, followed by his participation in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's March on Washington in 1963, and followed by his appearance at a Black Panther rally in 1968, did not win him many admirers in the establishment. In fact, there was a de facto embargo on Brando films in the recently segregated (officially, at least) southeastern US in the 1960s. Southern exhibitors simply would not book his films, and producers took notice. After 1968, Brando would not work for three years.
Pauline Kael wrote of Brando that he was Fortune's fool. She drew a parallel with the latter career of John Barrymore, a similarly gifted thespian with talents as prodigious, who seemingly threw them away. Brando, like the late-career Barrymore, had become a great ham, evidenced by his turn as the faux Indian guru in the egregious Candy, seemingly because the material was so beneath his talent. Most observers of Brando in the 1960s believed that he needed to be reunited with his old mentor Elia Kazan, a relationship that had soured due to Kazan's friendly testimony naming names before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. Perhaps Brando believed this, too, as he originally accepted an offer to appear as the star of Kazan's film adaptation of his own novel, The Arrangement. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Brando backed out of the film, telling Kazan that he could not appear in a Hollywood film after this tragedy. Also reportedly turning down a role opposite box-office king Paul Newman in a surefire script, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Brando decided to make Burn! with Pontecorvo. The film, a searing indictment of racism and colonialism, flopped at the box office but won the esteem of progressive critics and cultural arbiters such as Howard Zinn.
Kazan, after a life in film and the theater, said that, aside from Orson Welles, whose greatness lay in filmmaking, he only met one actor who was a genius: Brando. Richard Burton, an intellectual with a keen eye for observation if not for his own film projects, said that he found Brando to be very bright, unlike the public perception of him as a Terry Malloy-type character that he himself inadvertently promoted through his boorish behavior. Brando's problem, Burton felt, was that he was unique, and that he had gotten too much fame too soon at too early an age. Cut off from being nurtured by normal contact with society, fame had distorted Brando's personality and his ability to cope with the world, as he had not had time to grow up outside the limelight.
Truman Capote, who eviscerated Brando in print in the mid-'50s and had as much to do with the public perception of the dyslexic Brando as a dumbbell, always said that the best actors were ignorant, and that an intelligent person could not be a good actor. However, Brando was highly intelligent, and possessed of a rare genius in a then-deprecated art, acting. The problem that an intelligent performer has in movies is that it is the director, and not the actor, who has the power in his chosen field. Greatness in the other arts is defined by how much control the artist is able to exert over his chosen medium, but in movie acting, the medium is controlled by a person outside the individual artist. It is an axiom of the cinema that a performance, as is a film, is "created" in the cutting room, thus further removing the actor from control over his art. Brando had tried his hand at directing, in controlling the whole artistic enterprise, but he could not abide the cutting room, where a film and the film's performances are made. This lack of control over his art was the root of Brando's discontent with acting, with movies, and, eventually, with the whole wide world that invested so much cachet in movie actors, as long as "they" were at the top of the box-office charts. Hollywood was a matter of "they" and not the work, and Brando became disgusted.
Charlton Heston, who participated in Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington with Brando, believes that Marlon was the great actor of his generation. However, noting a story that Brando had once refused a role in the early 1960s with the excuse "How can I act when people are starving in India?", Heston believes that it was this attitude, the inability to separate one's idealism from one's work, that prevented Brando from reaching his potential. As Rod Steiger once said, Brando had it all, great stardom and a great talent. He could have taken his audience on a trip to the stars, but he simply would not. Steiger, one of Brando's children even though a contemporary, could not understand it. When James Mason' was asked in 1971 who was the best American actor, he had replied that since Brando had let his career go belly-up, it had to be George C. Scott, by default.
Paramount thought that only Laurence Olivier would suffice, but Lord Olivier was ill. The young director believed there was only one actor who could play godfather to the group of Young Turk actors he had assembled for his film, The Godfather of method acting himself - Marlon Brando. Francis Ford Coppola won the fight for Brando, Brando won - and refused - his second Oscar, and Paramount won a pot of gold by producing the then top-grossing film of all-time, The Godfather, a gangster movie most critics now judge one of the greatest American films of all time. Brando followed his iconic portrayal of Don Corleone with his Oscar-nominated turn in the high-grossing and highly scandalous Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris"), the first film dealing explicitly with sexuality in which an actor of Brando's stature had participated. He was now again a Top-Ten box office star and once again heralded as the greatest actor of his generation, an unprecedented comeback that put him on the cover of "Time" magazine and would make him the highest-paid actor in the history of motion pictures by the end of the decade. Little did the world know that Brando, who had struggled through many projects in good faith during the 1960s, delivering some of his best acting, only to be excoriated and ignored as the films did not do well at the box office, essentially was through with the movies.
After reaching the summit of his career, a rarefied atmosphere never reached before or since by any actor, Brando essentially walked away. He would give no more of himself after giving everything as he had done in "Last Tango in Paris," a performance that embarrassed him, according to his autobiography. Brando had come as close to any actor to being the "auteur," or author, of a film, as the English-language scenes of "Tango" were created by encouraging Brando to improvise. The improvisations were written down and turned into a shooting script, and the scripted improvisations were shot the next day. Pauline Kael, the Brando of movie critics in that she was the most influential arbiter of cinematic quality of her generation and spawned a whole legion of Kael wanna-bes, said Brando's performance in Last Tango in Paris had revolutionized the art of film. Brando, who had to act to gain his mother's attention; Brando, who believed acting at best was nothing special as everyone in the world engaged in it every day of their lives to get what they wanted from other people; Brando, who believed acting at its worst was a childish charade and that movie stardom was a whorish fraud, would have agreed with Sam Peckinpah's summation of Pauline Kael: "Pauline's a brilliant critic but sometimes she's just cracking walnuts with her ass." Probably in a simulacrum of those words, too.
After another three-year hiatus, Brando took on just one more major role for the next 20 years, as the bounty hunter after Jack Nicholson in Arthur Penn's The Missouri Breaks, a western that succeeded neither with the critics or at the box office. Following The Godfather and Tango, Brando's performance was disappointing for some reviewers, who accused him of giving an erratic and inconsistent performance. In 1977, Brando made a rare appearance on television in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations, portraying George Lincoln Rockwell; he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his performance. In 1978, he narrated the English version of Raoni, a French-Belgian documentary film directed by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux and Luiz Carlos Saldanha that focused on the life of Raoni Metuktire and issues surrounding the survival of the indigenous Indian tribes of north central Brazil.
Later in his career, Brando concentrated on extracting the maximum amount of capital for the least amount of work from producers, as when he got the Salkind brothers to pony up a then-record $3.7 million against 10% of the gross for 13 days work on Superman. Factoring in inflation, the straight salary for "Superman" equals or exceeds the new record of $1 million a day Harrison Ford set with K-19: The Widowmaker. He agreed to the role only on assurance that he would be paid a large sum for what amounted to a small part, that he would not have to read the script beforehand, and his lines would be displayed somewhere off-camera. Brando also filmed scenes for the movie's sequel, Superman II, but after producers refused to pay him the same percentage he received for the first movie, he denied them permission to use the footage.
Before cashing his first paycheck for Superman, Brando had picked up $2 million for his extended cameo in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in a role, that of Col. Kurtz, that he authored on-camera through improvisation while Coppola shot take after take. It was Brando's last bravura star performance. He co-starred with 'George C. Scott' and 'John Gielud' in _The Formula_, but the film was another critical and financial failure. Years later though, he did receive an eighth and final Oscar nomination for his supporting role in A Dry White Season after coming out of a near-decade-long retirement. Contrary to those who claimed he now only was in it for the money, Brando donated his entire seven-figure salary to an anti-apartheid charity. He then did an amusing performance in the comedy The Freshman, winning rave reviews. He portrayed Tomas de Torquemada in the historical drama 1492: Conquest of Paradise, but his performance was denounced and the film was a box office failure. He made another comeback in the Johnny Depp romantic drama Don Juan DeMarco, which co-starred Faye Dunaway as his wife.
Brando had first attracted media attention at the age of 24, when "Life" magazine ran a photo of himself and his sister Jocelyn, who were both then appearing on Broadway. The curiosity continued, and snowballed. Playing the paraplegic soldier of The Men, Brando had gone to live at a Veterans Administration hospital with actual disabled veterans, and confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks. It was an acting method, research, that no one in Hollywood had ever heard of before, and that willingness to experience life.
Mary Sean Young was born on November 20, 1959 in Louisville, Kentucky. She is the daughter of Lee Guthrie (née Mary Lee Kane), an Emmy-nominated producer, screenwriter, public relations executive, and journalist, and Donald Young, Jr., an Emmy award winning television news producer and journalist. She has Irish, English, and Swiss-German ancestry. She grew up with an older brother Donald Young III and a sister Cathleen Young in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Cleveland Heights High School, and then transferred to and graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy. A trained dancer, she studied at the School of American Ballet in New York City, and did some modeling. Sean Young began a promising film career by acting in a Merchant-Ivory film Jane Austen in Manhattan for Academy Award nominated director James Ivory, She followed that up in the comedy hit film Stripes for Academy Award nominated producer-director Ivan Reitman. Soon, important directors were casting her in their films, such as Garry Marshall in Young Doctors in Love, Academy Award nominee David Lynch in Dune, and Academy Award nominee Ridley Scott in Blade Runner in what is her most respected film. 1987 was a big year for her, since she appeared in two big movies. Academy Award winner Oliver Stone cast her in the hit film Wall Street but she clashed openly with him and with co-star Charlie Sheen and her role was drastically cut. However, her other hit film No Way Out, which involved a famous steamy scene in the backseat of a limousine with Kevin Costner, gave her star status. She was at the height of her fame, which led to her being cast as Vicky Vale in Batman. She had an accident while she was training for the film. As a result, she lost the role to Kim Basinger for what turned out to be the biggest hit of 1989. Young's loss didn't stop there. In 1988, she made a flop film with James Woods titled The Boost. Woods accused her of exotic harassment, including leaving a disfigured doll outside his home and leaving scary phone calls to his then-fiancée. Young denied an affair with him or of harassing him, since she was in a long relationship with actor/singer Robert Lujan, whom she had met on a TV mini-series in 1985. They settled out of court, but the bad publicity hurt her career very deeply while Woods remained unscathed. Hollywood producers now saw her as unstable and a loose cannon and stopped considering her for big movies. She was dropped from Dick Tracy in favor of Glenne Headly. The "Batman" franchise decided to make a sequel to the 1989 blockbuster with Batman Returns, but the producers wouldn't see Young for the role of Catwoman, She was outraged and went on national television, dressed up as Catwoman, and complained about how the producers should have had the courtesy to see her especially since she had been part of the original cast of the first Batman movie before her accident had her being replaced. This stunt, too, turned into a public relations mess, and the role of Catwoman went to Michelle Pfeiffer. Young put on a brave face and gamely moved on to do comedies Fatal Instinct for director Carl Reiner, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the latter's box office success made Jim Carrey a star, who immediately landed the role of the Riddler in the Batman sequel. The film also raised Courteney Cox's profile, since she soon landed the hit TV show "Friends" which made her a household name. Sean thought the film's success would benefit her as well, especially since Academy Award-nominated directors such as Gus Van Sant and Ismail Merchant cast her in their films. However, these films weren't hits, and Hollywood kept giving her lackluster roles in mediocre films. Heartbroken, she married Lujan and moved to Arizona, where she had two sons, but they divorced in 2002. She suffered other losses as well, bearing the painful deaths of her father (in 1995) and her mother (in 2012). There were some bizarre incidents along the way: her heckling a winner at the Director's Guild of America Award show in 2008, her arrest at the 2012 Academy Award after-party when she slapped a security guard. She went to rehab for her alcohol problem and also appeared on the reality show "Celebrity Rehab". Since then, she has mellowed, because she had reconciled with her ex-husband and her children are now grown. She branched out to do stage work, including the Los Angeles production of "Stardust" and the Northport production of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" for which she received a good review from the "New York Times." In her 50s, she is keeping busy, by acting in several projects and trying to start a directing career.
Hugh Grant, one of Britain's best known faces, has been equally entertaining on-screen as well as in real life, and has had enough sense of humor to survive a media frenzy. He is known for his roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral, with Andie MacDowell, Notting Hill, opposite Julia Roberts, and Music and Lyrics, opposite Drew Barrymore, among his other works.
He was born Hugh John Mungo Grant on September 9, 1960, in Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom. His mother, Fyvola Susan (MacLean), was a teacher. His father, James Murray Grant, was an artist and carpet salesman, and his grandfather was in the British Army during WWII. He is of mostly Scottish and English descent, with many recent ancestors who were prominent in the military. Young Grant was fond of literature and acting. He won a scholarship to Oxford, going up to New College in 1979. There he was involved in student drama, and considered a career as an art historian. After Oxford, he turned down a scholarship to do postgraduate studies in Art History at the Courtauld Institute in London, and focused on his acting career. In 1982, while still a student, Grant made his big screen debut in Privileged by director Michael Hoffman.
Grant's breakthrough came with the leading role as Charles in Four Weddings and a Funeral, opposite Andie MacDowell, a role which won him a Golden Globe Award, as well as a BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor. During the 1990s Grant established himself as a very original and resourceful actor. He played a string of characters projecting a positive mindset, showing how do you stay optimistic when you are actually worried about a cascade of troubles. Grant had his own experience as a survivor of an unfortunate episode in his private life, which he managed to overcome thanks to having a pretty damn good outlook on life.
His forte is playing characters projecting warmth and sincere happiness, with his hallmark stuttering, albeit some accused him of reprising the same character he has been playing for the past two decades. Grant's ability to show his character development within a limited screen time shines in Love Actually, with his witty portrayal of a Prime Minister whose personal insecurities become intertwined with his country's international affairs, a performance that earned him a nomination for European Audience Award. His screen presence and skillful understatement takes his characters beyond the written script, thanks to his mastery of timing and effortless style.
Outside of his acting profession, Grant has been a good athlete, he played cricket and football in his younger years. He enjoys playing golf, frequently taking part in Pro-Am tournaments. He has been an avid art lover since his younger years, and has been collecting fine art, a passion he inherited from his father.
One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals.
She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in Minnesota, the youngest daughter of vaudevillians Ethel Marion (Milne) and Francis Avent Gumm. She was of English, along with some Scottish and Irish, descent. Her mother, an ambitious woman gifted in playing various musical instruments, saw the potential in her daughter at the tender age of just 2 years old when Baby Frances repeatedly sang "Jingle Bells" until she was dragged from the stage kicking and screaming during one of their Christmas shows and immediately drafted her into a dance act, entitled "The Gumm Sisters", along with her older sisters Mary Jane Gumm and Virginia Gumm. However, knowing that her youngest daughter would eventually become the biggest star, Ethel soon took Frances out of the act and together they traveled across America where she would perform in nightclubs, cabarets, hotels and theaters solo.
Her family life was not a happy one, largely because of her mother's drive for her to succeed as a performer and also her father's closeted homosexuality. The Gumm family would regularly be forced to leave town owing to her father's illicit affairs with other men, and from time to time they would be reduced to living out of their automobile. However, in September 1935 the Gumms', in particular Ethel's, prayers were answered when Frances was signed by Louis B. Mayer, mogul of leading film studio MGM, after hearing her sing. It was then that her name was changed from Frances Gumm to Judy Garland, after a popular '30s song "Judy" and film critic Robert Garland.
Tragedy soon followed, however, in the form of her father's death of meningitis in November 1935. Having been given no assignments with the exception of singing on radio, Judy faced the threat of losing her job following the arrival of Deanna Durbin. Knowing that they couldn't keep both of the teenage singers, MGM devised a short entitled Every Sunday which would be the girls' screen test. However, despite being the outright winner and being kept on by MGM, Judy's career did not officially kick off until she sang one of her most famous songs, "You Made Me Love You", at Clark Gable's birthday party in February 1937, during which Louis B. Mayer finally paid attention to the talented songstress.
Prior to this her film debut in Pigskin Parade, in which she played a teenage hillbilly, had left her career hanging in the balance. However, following her rendition of "You Made Me Love You", MGM set to work preparing various musicals with which to keep Judy busy. All this had its toll on the young teenager, and she was given numerous pills by the studio doctors in order to combat her tiredness on set. Another problem was her weight fluctuation, but she was soon given amphetamines in order to give her the desired streamlined figure. This soon produced the downward spiral that resulted in her lifelong drug addiction.
In 1939, Judy shot immediately to stardom with The Wizard of Oz, in which she portrayed Dorothy, an orphaned girl living on a farm in the dry plains of Kansas who gets whisked off into the magical world of Oz on the other end of the rainbow. Her poignant performance and sweet delivery of her signature song, 'Over The Rainbow', earned Judy a special juvenile Oscar statuette on 29 February 1940 for Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor. Now growing up, Judy began to yearn for meatier adult roles instead of the virginal characters she had been playing since she was 14. She was now taking an interest in men, and after starring in her final juvenile performance in Ziegfeld Girl alongside glamorous beauties Lana Turner and Hedy Lamarr, Judy got engaged to bandleader David Rose in May 1941, just two months after his divorce from Martha Raye. Despite planning a big wedding, the couple eloped to Las Vegas and married during the early hours of the morning on 28 July 1941 with just her mother Ethel and her stepfather Will Gilmore present. However, their marriage went downhill as, after discovering that she was pregnant in November 1942, David and MGM persuaded her to abort the baby in order to keep her good-girl image up. She did so and, as a result, was haunted for the rest of her life by her 'inhumane actions'. The couple separated in January 1943.
By this time, Judy had starred in her first adult role as a vaudevillian during WWI in For Me and My Gal. Within weeks of separation, Judy was soon having an affair with actor Tyrone Power, who was married to French actress Annabella. Their affair ended in May 1943, which was when her affair with producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz kicked off. He introduced her to psychoanalysis and she soon began to make decisions about her career on her own instead of being influenced by her domineering mother and MGM. Their affair ended in November 1943, and soon afterward Judy reluctantly began filming Meet Me in St. Louis, which proved to be a big success. The director Vincente Minnelli highlighted Judy's beauty for the first time on screen, having made the period musical in color, her first color film since The Wizard of Oz. He showed off her large brandy-brown eyes and her full, thick lips and after filming ended in April 1944, a love affair resulted between director and actress and they were soon living together.
Vincente began to mold Judy and her career, making her more beautiful and more popular with audiences worldwide. He directed her in The Clock, and it was during the filming of this movie that the couple announced their engagement on set on 9 January 1945. Judy's divorce from David Rose had been finalized on 8 June 1944 after almost three years of marriage, and despite her brief fling with Orson Welles, who at the time was married to screen sex goddess Rita Hayworth, on 15 June 1945 Judy made Vincente her second husband, tying the knot with him that afternoon at her mother's home with her boss Louis B. Mayer giving her away and her best friend Betty Asher serving as bridesmaid. They spent three months on honeymoon in New York and afterwards Judy discovered that she was pregnant.
On 12 March 1946 in Los Angeles, California, Judy gave birth to their daughter, Liza Minnelli, via caesarean section. It was a joyous time for the couple, but Judy was out of commission for weeks due to the caesarean and her postnatal depression, so she spent much of her time recuperating in bed. She soon returned to work, but married life was never the same for Vincente and Judy after they filmed The Pirate together in 1947. Judy's mental health was fast deteriorating and she began hallucinating things and making false accusations toward people, especially her husband, making the filming a nightmare. She also began an affair with aspiring Russian actor Yul Brynner, but after the affair ended, Judy soon regained health and tried to salvage her failing marriage. She then teamed up with dancing legend Fred Astaire for the delightful musical Easter Parade, which resulted in a successful comeback despite having Vincente fired from directing the musical. Afterwards, Judy's health deteriorated and she began the first of several suicide attempts. In May 1949, she was checked into a rehabilitation center, which caused her much distress.
She soon regained strength and was visited frequently by her lover Frank Sinatra, but never saw much of Vincente or Liza. On returning, Judy made In the Good Old Summertime, which was also Liza's film debut, albeit via an uncredited cameo. She had already been suspended by MGM for her lack of cooperation on the set of The Barkleys of Broadway, which also resulted in her getting replaced by Ginger Rogers. After being replaced by Betty Hutton on Annie Get Your Gun, Judy was suspended yet again before making her final film for MGM, entitled Summer Stock. At 28, Judy received her third suspension and was fired by MGM, and her second marriage was soon dissolved.
Having taken up with Sidney Luft, Judy traveled to London to star at the legendary Palladium. She was an instant success and after her divorce to Vincente Minnelli was finalized on 29 March 1951 after almost six years of marriage, Judy traveled with Sid to New York to make an appearance on Broadway. With her newfound fame on stage, Judy was stopped in her tracks in February 1952 when she became pregnant by her new lover, Sid. At the age of 30, she made him her third husband on 8 June 1952; the wedding was held at a friend's ranch in Pasadena. Her relationship with her mother had long since been dissolved by this point, and after the birth of her second daughter, Lorna Luft, on 21 November 1952, she refused to allow her mother to see her granddaughter. Ethel then died in January 1953 of a heart attack, leaving Judy devastated and feeling guilty about not reconciling with her mother before her untimely demise.
After the funeral, Judy signed a film contract with Warner Bros. to star in the musical remake of A Star Is Born, which had starred Janet Gaynor, who had won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929. Filming soon began, resulting in an affair between Judy and her leading man, British star James Mason. She also picked up on her affair with Frank Sinatra, and after filming was complete Judy was yet again lauded as a great film star. She won a Golden Globe for her brilliant and truly outstanding performance as Esther Blodgett, nightclub singer turned movie star, but when it came to the Academy Awards, a distraught Judy lost out on the Best Actress Oscar to Grace Kelly for her portrayal of the wife of an alcoholic star in The Country Girl. Many still argue that Judy should have won the Oscar over Grace Kelly. Continuing her work on stage, Judy gave birth to her beloved son, Joey Luft, on 29 March 1955. She soon began to lose her millions of dollars as a result of her husband's strong gambling addiction, and with hundreds of debts to pay, Judy and Sid began a volatile, on-off relationship resulting in numerous divorce filings.
In 1961, at the age of 39, Judy returned to her ailing film career, this time to star in Judgment at Nuremberg, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but this time she lost out to Rita Moreno for her performance in West Side Story. Her battles with alcoholism and drugs led to Judy's making numerous headlines in newspapers, but she soldiered on, forming a close friendship with President John F. Kennedy. In 1963, Judy and Sid finally separated permanently, and on 19 May 1965 their divorce was finalized after almost 13 years of marriage. By this time, Judy, now 41, had made her final performance on film alongside Dirk Bogarde in I Could Go on Singing. She married her fourth husband, Mark Herron, on 14 November 1965 in Las Vegas, but they separated in April 1966 after five months of marriage owing to his homosexuality. It was also that year that she began an affair with young journalist Tom Green. She then settled down in London after their affair ended, and she began dating disk jockey Mickey Deans in December 1968. They became engaged once her divorce from Mark Herron was finalized on 9 January 1969 after three years of marriage. She married Mickey, her fifth and final husband, in a register office in Chelsea, London, on 15 March 1969.
She continued working on stage, appearing several times with her daughter Liza. It was during a concert in Chelsea, London, that Judy stumbled into her bathroom late one night and died of an overdose of barbiturates, the drug that had dominated her much of her life, on the 22nd of June 1969 at the age of 47. Her daughter Liza Minnelli paid for her funeral, and her former lover James Mason delivered her touching eulogy. She is still an icon to this day with her famous performances in The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, Easter Parade, and A Star Is Born.
Multi-talented Kathleen Doyle Bates was born on June 28, 1948, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls born to Bertye Kathleen (Talbot), a homemaker, and Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer. Her grandfather was author Finis L. Bates. Kathy has English, as well as Irish, Scottish, and German, ancestry, and one of her ancestors, an Irish emigrant to New Orleans, once served as President Andrew Jackson's doctor.
Kathy discovered acting appearing in high school plays and studied drama at Southern Methodist University, graduating in 1969. With her mind firmly set, she moved to New York City in 1970 and paid her dues by working everything from a cash register to taking lunch orders. Things started moving quickly up the ladder after giving a tour-de-force performance alongside Christopher Walken at Buffalo's Studio Arena Theatre in Lanford Wilson's world premiere of "Lemon Sky" in 1970, but she also had a foreshadowing of the heartbreak to come after the successful show relocated to New York's off-Broadway Playhouse Theatre without her and Walken wound up winning a Drama Desk award.
By the mid-to-late 1970s, Kathy was treading the boards frequently as a rising young actress of the New York and regional theater scene. She appeared in "Casserole" and "A Quality of Mercy" (both 1975) before earning exceptional reviews for her role of Joanne in "Vanities". She took her first Broadway curtain call in 1980's "Goodbye Fidel," which lasted only six performances. She then went directly into replacement mode when she joined the cast of the already-established and highly successful "Fifth of July" in 1981.
Kathy made a false start in films with Taking Off, in which she was billed as "Bobo Bates". She didn't film again until Straight Time, starring Dustin Hoffman, and that part was not substantial enough to cause a stir. Things turned hopeful, however, when Kathy and the rest of the female ensemble were given the chance to play their respective Broadway parts in the film version of Robert Altman's Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. It was a juicy role for Kathy and film audiences finally started noticing the now 34-year-old.
Still and all, it was the New York stage that continued to earn Kathy awards and acclaim. She was pure textbook to any actor studying how to disappear into a role. Her characters ranged from free and life-affirming to downright pitiable. Despite winning a Tony Award nomination and Outer Critic's Circle Award for her stark, touchingly sad portrait of a suicidal daughter in 1983's "'night, Mother" and the Obie and Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for her powerhouse job as a romantic misfit in "Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune," Kathy had no box-office pull and was hardly a strong consideration when the roles finally went to film.
Kathy Bates was forever losing out when her award-winning stage characters transferred to the screen. First Sissy Spacek took on her potent role as the suicidal Jessie Cates in 'night, Mother, then Michelle Pfeiffer seized the moment to play her dumpy lover character in Frankie and Johnny. It would take Oscar glory to finally rectify the injustice.
It was her fanatical turn as the drab, chunky, porcine-looking psychopath Annie Wilkes, who kidnaps her favorite author (James Caan) and subjects him to a series of horrific tortures, that finally turned the tide for her in Hollywood. With the 1990 shocker Misery, based on the popular Stephen King novel, Bates and Caan were pure box office magic. Moreover, Kathy captured the "Best Actress" Oscar and Golden Globe award, a first in that genre (horror) for that category. To add to her happiness she married Tony Campisi, also an actor, in 1991.
Quality film scripts now started coming her way and the 1990s proved to be a rich and rewarding time for her. First, she and another older "overnight" film star, fellow Oscar winner Jessica Tandy, starred together in the modern portion of the beautifully nuanced, flashback period piece Fried Green Tomatoes. She then outdid herself as the detached and depressed housekeeper accused of murdering her abusive husband (David Strathairn) in Dolores Claiborne. Surprisingly, she was left out of the Oscar race for these two excellent performances. Not so, however, for her flashy political advisor Libby Holden in the movie Primary Colors and her quirky, liberal mom in About Schmidt, receiving "Best Supporting Actress" nominations for both. She also turned in a somewhat brief but potent turn as Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.
Kathy has continued to work prolifically on TV as a multiple Emmy winner and nominee. She has also taken to directing a couple of TV-movies on the sly. She was nominated for a DGA award after helming an episode of "Six Feet Under," in which she also had a recurring role. While some of her more recent movie parts have been unworthy of her talents, she has more than made up for it on TV playing everything from cruel-minded caricatures (Little Orphan Annie's Miss Hannigan) to common, decent every day folk in mini-movies. More recently she has done some eye-catching, offbeat turns on regular series such as The Office, Harry's Law and especially American Horror Story for which she won an Emmy as Ethel Darling.
Divorced from her husband since 1997, Kathy has been the Executive Committee Chair of the Actors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.
Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most successful personalities in show business. She is the only person ever to receive all of the following: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, National Endowment for the Arts, and Peabody awards, as well as the American Film Institutes Lifetime Achievement honor and the Film Society of Lincoln Center Chaplin Award.
She was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1942 to Diana (née Ida Rosen), a singer turned school secretary, and Emanuel Streisand, a high school teacher. Her father was of Galician (Polish) Jewish descent and her mother was of Russian Jewish ancestry. As a child she attended the Beis Yakov Jewish School in Brooklyn. She was raised in a middle-class family and grew up dreaming of becoming an actress (or even an actress / conductor, as she happily described her teenage years at one of her concerts).
After a period as a nightclub singer and off-Broadway performer in New York City she began to attract interest and a fan base, thanks to her original and powerful vocal talent. She debuted on Broadway in the 1962 musical comedy "I Can Get It For You Wholesale" by Harold Rome, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a New York Drama Critics Poll award. The following year she reached great commercial success with her first Columbia Records solo releases, "The Barbra Streisand Album" (multiple Grammy winner, including "Best Album of the Year") and "The Second Barbra Streisand Album" (her first RIAA Gold Album); these albums, mostly devoted to composer Harold Arlen, brought her critical praise and, most of all, public acclaim all over the US. In 1964 she continued ha another smash Broadway hit when she portrayed legendary Broadway star Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl" by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill; the show's main song, "People". became her first hit and she appeared on the cover of "Time" magazine. After many TV appearances as guest on various music and variety shows (such as an episode of The Judy Garland Show, for which she was nominated for 1963 Emmy), she signed an exclusive contract with CBS for a series of annual TV specials : My Name Is Barbra (which won an Emmy) and Color Me Barbra her first work in color were extremely successful.
After a brief London stage period and the birth of her son Jason Gould (with then-husband Elliott Gould), in summer 1967 she gave a memorable free concert in New York City, "A Happening in Central Park", that was filmed and later broadcast (in an edited version) as a TV special; then she flew to Hollywood for her first movie, Funny Girl, a filming of her stage success. The picture, directed by William Wyler, opened in 1968 and became a hit in the US and abroad, making her an international "superstar' and multiple award winner, including an Oscar (her first) as Best Actress. After a series of screen musicals, such as _Gene Kelly (I)''s _Hello Dolly (1969)_ and Vincente Minnelli's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, she wanted to try comedies, resulting in such films as The Owl and the Pussycat and What's Up, Doc?. She turned to dramas and turned out Up the Sandbox and the classic The Way We Were, directed by Sydney Pollack and co-starring Robert Redford, in which she gave what many consider to be her finest performance. The song "The Way We Were" (written by Marvin Hamlisch and Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman) became one of her biggest hits and most memorable and famous songs.
She returned to TV for a new special conceived as a musical journey covering many world musical styles, Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments, then returned (for contractual reasons) to her Fanny Brice role in a sequel to her hit "Funny Girl film, Funny Lady, and the next year turned out one of her most personal film projects, A Star Is Born, one of the biggest hits of the year for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and her second Oscar, for the song "Evergreen". Always extremely busy on the discography side, averaging one album a year throughout the '70s and '80s, she had a string of successful singles and albums, such as "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (duet with 'Neil Diamond'), "Enough is Enough" (with Donna Summer), "The Main Event" (from her film The Main Event with her friend Ryan O'Neal) and the album "Guilty", written for her by The Bee Gees' Barry Gibb, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
She debuted as a director with the musical drama Yentl, in which she also portrayed a Jewish girl who is forced to pass herself off as a man to pursue her dreams. The movie received generally positive reviews and the beautiful score by Michel Legrand and lyricists Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman stands up as one of Streisand's finest musical works. The film received several Oscar nominations, winning in two categories, but she was not nominated as Best Director, which disappointed both her and her fans, many of whom consider this the Academy's biggest "snub".
In 1985 her album "The Broadway Album was an unexpected runaway success, winning a Grammy Award and helping to introduce a new generation to the world of American musical theater. In 1986 she performed in a memorable concert, after 20 years of stage silence, "One Voice" (1986). She returned to the screen in the Nuts, a drama directed by Martin Ritt, in the role of a prostitute accused of murder who fights to avoid being labeled "insane" at her trial. In she appeared in The Prince of Tides, which many consider to be the pinnacle of her screen career, playing a psychiatrist who tries to help a man (Nick Nolte) to find the pieces of his past life: the film received seven Oscar nominations (but again NOT for Best Directing), but she did receive a nomination from the DGA (Directors Guild of America) for Best Director. In 1994 she returned to the stage after 27 years for a series of sold-out concerts (for the televised version of one of these, she won another Emmy).
In the 1990s she broke several personal records: with two #1 albums ("Back to Broadway" in 1993 and "Higher Ground" in 1997) and became the only artist to achieve a #1 album on the Billboard charts in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s (she extended this record into the 21st century in 2009 with the jazz album "Love is the Answer"). In 1996 she starred in her third and last picture as director, The Mirror Has Two Faces, with Jeff Bridges and Lauren Bacall. The film had a "the girl got the guy" ending, and the same happened to her in real life--the next year she married well known TV actor James Brolin.
In 2000 she focused her career again on concerts ("Timeless") and in 2006-07 with a European tour. She made only two more films--a supporting role as a sex therapist mother in the Ben Stiller comedy Meet the Fockers and its sequel, Little Fockers, alongside Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro. She published a book, "Passion for Design", in 2010 and celebrated her friendship with the Bergmans with an entire album of their songs, "What Matters Most" (2011), that debuted in the top 10.
After a long break from filming, she returned in a starring role for the 2012 holiday season with The Guilt Trip, a mother/son picture co-starring Seth Rogen and directed by Anne Fletcher, and is working on putting together a film version of the well-known Jule Styne musical "Gypsy". In almost 50 years of career, Streisand has contributed to the show business industry in a personal and unique way, collecting a multi-generational fan base; she has a powerful and recognize vocal range, and a raucous and often self-deprecating sense of humor, which doesn't prevent her from showing the serious and dramatic sides of her personality. Her strong political belief in social justice infuses her professional career and personal life, and she makes no bones about what she believes; her willingness to put her money where her mouth is has resulted in some truly vicious attacks by many who hold opposite political views, but that hasn't stopped her from acting on her beliefs. She has been honored with the Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign, an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Brandeis University in 1995, an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2013 and the bestowing by the government of France the title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters. She supports many humanitarian causes through the Streisand Foundation and has been a dedicated environmentalist for many years; she endowed a chair in environmental studies in 1987 and donated her 24-acre estate to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. In addition, she was the lead founder for the Clinton Climate Change Initiative. This effort brought together a consortium of major cities around the world to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. She is a leading spokesperson and fund-raiser for social and political causes close to her heart and has often dedicated proceeds from her live concert performances to benefit programs she supports.
James Woods is a leanly built, strangely handsome actor-producer-director with intense eyes and a sometimes untrustworthy grin, who has been impressing audiences for over three decades with his compelling performances. James Howard Woods was born on April 18th, 1947 in Vernal, Utah, the son of Martha A. (Smith) and Gail Peyton Woods, a United States Army intelligence officer who died during Woods' childhood. James is of Irish, English, and German descent. He grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, with his mother and stepfather. He graduated from Pilgrim High School in 1965, near the top of his class. He earned a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; dropping out during his sophomore year in 1967, he then headed off to New York with his fraternity brother Martin Donovan to pursue aspirations to appear on the stage. After appearing in a handful of New York City theater productions, Woods scored his first film role in All the Way Home and followed that up with meager supporting roles in The Way We Were and The Choirboys.
However, it was Woods' cold-blooded performance as the cop killer in The Onion Field, based on a Joseph Wambaugh novel, that seized the attention of movie-goers to his on-screen power. Woods quickly followed up with another role in another Joseph Wambaugh film adaptation, The Black Marble, as a sleazy and unstable cable-T.V.-station owner in David Cronenberg's mind-bending and prophetic Videodrome, as gangster Max Bercovicz in Sergio Leones mammoth epic Once Upon a Time in America, and scored a best actor Academy Award nomination as abrasive journalist Richard Boyle in Oliver Stone's gritty and unsettling Salvador.
There seemed to be no stopping the rise of this star as he continued to amaze movie-goers with his remarkable versatility and his ability to create such intense, memorable characters. The decade of the 1990s started off strongly with high praise for his role as Roy Cohn in the television production of Citizen Cohn. Woods was equally impressive as sneaky hustler Lester Diamond who cons Sharon Stone in Casino, made a tremendous H.R. Haldeman in Nixon, portrayed serial killer Carl Panzram in Killer: A Journal of Murder, and then as accused civil rights assassin Byron De La Beckwith in Ghosts of Mississippi.
Not to be typecast solely as hostile hoodlums, Woods has further expanded his range to encompass providing voice-overs for animated productions including Hercules, Hooves of Fire, and Stuart Little 2. Woods also recently appeared in the critically praised The Virgin Suicides, in the coming-of-age movie Riding in Cars with Boys, as a corrupt medico in Any Given Sunday, and in the comedy-horror spoof Scary Movie 2. A remarkable performer with an incredibly diverse range of acting talent, Woods remains one of Hollywood's outstanding leading men.
Eldred Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mary (Ayres) and Gregory Pearl Peck, a chemist and druggist in San Diego. He had Irish (from his paternal grandmother), English, and some German, ancestry. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only child, he was sent to live with his grandmother. He never felt he had a stable childhood. His fondest memories are of his grandmother taking him to the movies every week and of his dog, which followed him everywhere. He studied pre-med at UC-Berkeley and, while there, got bitten by the acting bug and decided to change the focus of his studies. He enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and debuted on Broadway after graduation. His debut was in Emlyn Williams' play "The Morning Star" (1942). By 1943 he was in Hollywood, where he debuted in the RKO film Days of Glory.
Stardom came with his next film, The Keys of the Kingdom, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Peck's screen presence displayed the qualities for which he became well known. He was tall, rugged and heroic, with a basic decency that transcended his roles. He appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound as an amnesia victim accused of murder. In The Yearling, he was again nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe. He was especially effective in westerns and appeared in such varied fare as David O. Selznick's critically blasted Duel in the Sun, the somewhat better received Yellow Sky and the acclaimed The Gunfighter. He was nominated again for the Academy Award for his roles in Gentleman's Agreement, which dealt with anti-Semitism, and Twelve O'Clock High, a story of high-level stress in an Air Force bomber unit in World War II.
With a string of hits to his credit, Peck made the decision to only work in films that interested him. He continued to appear as the heroic, larger-than-life figures in such films as Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. and Moby Dick. He worked with Audrey Hepburn in her debut film, Roman Holiday. Peck finally won the Oscar, after four nominations, for his performance as lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. In the early 1960s he appeared in two darker films than he usually made, Cape Fear and Captain Newman, M.D., which dealt with the way people live. He also gave a powerful performance as Capt. Keith Mallory in The Guns of Navarone, one of the biggest box-office hits of that year.
In the early 1970s he produced two films, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine and The Dove, when his film career stalled. He made a comeback playing, somewhat woodenly, Robert Thorn in the horror film The Omen. After that, he returned to the bigger-than-life roles he was best known for, such as MacArthur and the monstrous Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele in the huge hit The Boys from Brazil. In the 1980s he moved into television with the mini-series The Blue and the Gray and The Scarlet and the Black. In 1991 he appeared in the remake of his 1962 film, playing a different part, in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. He was also cast as the progressive-thinking owner of a wire and cable business in Other People's Money.
In 1967 Peck received the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He was also been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. Always politically progressive, Peck was active in such causes as anti-war protests, workers' rights and civil rights. He died in June 2003, aged 87.
One of seven children, Frank Capra was born on May 18, 1897, in Bisacquino, Sicily. On May 10, 1903, his family left for America aboard the ship Germania, arriving in New York on May 23rd. "There's no ventilation, and it stinks like hell. They're all miserable. It's the most degrading place you could ever be," Capra said about his Atlantic passage. "Oh, it was awful, awful. It seems to always be storming, raining like hell and very windy, with these big long rolling Atlantic waves. Everybody was sick, vomiting. God, they were sick. And the poor kids were always crying."
The family boarded a train for the trip to California, where Frank's older brother Benjamin was living. On their journey, they subsisted on bread and bananas, as their lack of English made it impossible for them to ask for any other kind of foodstuffs. On June 3, the Capra family arrived at the Southern Pacific station in Los Angeles, at the time, a small city of approximately 102,000 people. The family stayed with Capra's older brother Benjamin, and on September 14, 1903, Frank began his schooling at the Castelar Elementary school.
In 1909, he entered Los Angeles' Manual Arts High School. Capra made money selling newspapers in downtown L.A. after school and on Saturdays, sometimes working with his brother Tony. When sales were slow, Tony punched Frank to attract attention, which would attract a crowd and make Frank's papers sell quicker. Frank later became part of a two-man music combo, playing at various places in the red light district of L.A., including brothels, getting paid a dollar per night, performing the popular songs. He also worked as a janitor at the high school in the early mornings. It was at high school that he became interested in the theater, typically doing back-stage work such as lighting.
Capra's family pressured him to drop out of school and go to work, but he refused, as he wanted to partake fully of the American Dream, and for that he needed an education. Capra later reminisced that his family "thought I was a bum. My mother would slap me around; she wanted me to quit school. My teachers would urge me to keep going....I was going to school because I had a fight on my hands that I wanted to win."
Capra graduated from high school on January 27, 1915, and in September of that year, he entered the Throop College of Technology (later the California Institute of Technology) to study chemical engineering. The school's annual tuition was $250, and Capra received occasional financial support from his family, who were resigned to the fact they had a scholar in their midst. Throop had a fine arts department, and Capra discovered poetry and the essays of Montaigne, which he fell in love with, while matriculating at the technical school. He then decided to write.
"It was a great discovery for me. I discovered language. I discovered poetry. I discovered poetry at Caltech, can you imagine that? That was a big turning point in my life. I didn't know anything could be so beautiful." Capra penned "The Butler's Failure," about an English butler provoked by poverty to murder his employer, then to suicide."
Capra was singled out for a cash award of $250 for having the highest grades in the school. Part of his prize was a six-week trip across the U.S. and Canada. When Capra's father, Turiddu, died in 1916, Capra started working at the campus laundry to make money.
After the U.S. Congress declared War on Germany on April 6, 1917, Capra enlisted in the Army, and while he was not a naturalized citizen yet, he was allowed to join the military as part of the Coastal Artillery. Capra became a supply officer for the student soldiers at Throop, who have been enrolled in a Reserve Officers Training Corps program. At his enlistment, Capra discovered he was not an American citizen; he became naturalized in 1920.
On September 15, 1918, Capra graduated from Throop with his bachelor's degree, and was inducted into the U.S. Army on October 18th and shipped out to the Presidio at San Francisco. An armistice ending the fighting of World War One would be declared in less than a month. While at the Presidio, Capra became ill with the Spanish influenza that claimed 20 million lives worldwide. He was discharged from the Army on December 13th and moved to his brother Ben's home in L.A. While recuperating, Capra answered a cattle call for extras for John Ford's film "The The Outcasts of Poker Flat (Capra, cast as a laborer in the Ford picture, introduced himself to the film's star, Harry Carey. Two decades later, Capra, designated the #1 director in Hollywood by "Time" magazine, would cast Carey and his movie actress wife Olive in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for which Carey won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination).
While living at his mother's house, Capra took on a wide variety of manual laboring jobs, including errand boy and ditch digger, even working as an orange tree pruner at 20 cents a day. He continued to be employed as an extra at movie studios and as a prop buyer at an independent studio at Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street, which later became the home of Columbia Pictures, where Capra would make his reputation as the most successful movie director of the 1930s. Most of his time was spent unemployed and idle, which gave credence to his family's earlier opposition to him seeking higher education. Capra wrote short stories but was unable to get them published. He eventually got work as a live-in tutor for the son of "Lucky" Baldwin, a rich gambler. (He later used the Baldwin estate as a location for Dirigible).
Smitten by the movie bug, in August of that year, Capra, former actor W. M. Plank, and financial backer Ida May Heitmann incorporated the Tri-State Motion Picture Co. in Nevada. Tri-State produced three short films in Nevada in 1920, Don't Change Your Husband, The Pulse of Life, and The Scar of Love (1920), all directed by Plank, and possibly based on story treatments written by Capra. The films were failures, and Capra returned to Los Angeles when Tri-State broke up. In March 1920, Capra was employed by CBC Film Sales Co., the corporate precursor of Columbia Films, where he also worked as an editor and director on a series called "Screen Snapshots." He quit CBC in August and moved to San Francisco, but the only jobs he could find were that of bookseller and door-to-door salesman. Once again seeming to fulfill his family's prophecy, he turned to gambling, and also learned to ride the rails with a hobo named Frank Dwyer. There was also a rumor that he became a traveling salesman specializing in worthless securities, according to a "Time" magazine story "Columbia's Gem" (August 8, 1938 issue, V.32, No. 6).
Still based in San Francisco in 1921, producer Walter Montague hired Capra for $75 per week to help direct the short movie The Ballad of Fisher's Boarding House, which was based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling. Montague, a former actor, had the dubious idea that foggy San Francisco was destined to become the capital of movies, and that he could make a fortune making movies based on poems. Capra helped Montague produced the one-reeler, which was budgeted at $1,700 and subsequently sold to the Pathe Exchange for $3,500. Capra quit Montague when he demanded that the next movie be based upon one of his own poems.
Unable to find another professional filmmaking job, Capra hired himself out as a maker of shorts for the public-at-large while working as an assistant at Walter Ball's film lab. Finally, in October 1921, the Paul Gerson Picture Corp. hired him to help make its two-reel comedies, around the time that he began dating the actress Helen Edith Howe, who would become his first wife. Capra continued to work for both Ball and Gerson, primarily as a cutter. On November 25, 1923, Capra married Helen Howell, and the couple soon moved to Hollywood.
Hal Roach hired Capra as a gag-writer for the "Our Gang" series in January, 1924. After writing the gags for five "Our Gang" comedies in seven weeks, he asked Roach to make him a director. When Roach refused (he somewhat rightly felt he had found the right man in director Bob McGowan), Capra quit. Roach's arch rival Mack Sennett subsequently hired him as a writer, one of a six-man team that wrote for silent movie comedian Harry Langdon, the last major star of the rapidly disintegrating Mack Sennett Studios, and reigning briefly as fourth major silent comedian after Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. Capra began working with the Harry Langdon production unit as a gag writer, first credited on the short Plain Clothes.
As Harry Langdon became more popular, his production unit at Sennett had moved from two- to three-reelers before Langdon, determined to follow the example of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, went into features. After making his first feature-length comedy, His First Flame for Sennett, Langdon signed a three-year contract with Sol Lesser's First National Pictures to annually produce two feature-length comedies at a fixed fee per film. For a multitude of reasons Mack Sennett was never able to retain top talent. On September 15, 1925, Harry Langdon left Sennett in an egotistical rage, taking many of his key production personnel with him. Sennett promoted Capra to director but fired him after three days in his new position. In addition to the Langdon comedies, Capra had also written material for other Sennett films, eventually working on twenty-five movies.
After being sacked by Sennett, Capra was hired as a gag-writer by Harry Langdon, working on Langdon's first First National feature-length film, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp. The movie was directed by Harry Edwards who had directed all of Harry Langdon's films at Sennett. His first comedy for First National, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp did well at the box office, but it had ran over budget, which came out of Langdon's end. Harry Edwards was sacked, and for his next picture, The Strong Man, Langdon promoted Capra to director, boosting his salary to $750 per week. The movie was a hit, but trouble was brewing among members of the Harry Langdon company. Langdon was increasingly believing his own press.
His marriage with Helen began to unravel when it is discovered that she had a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy that had to be terminated. In order to cope with the tragedy, Capra became a work-a-holic while Helen turned to drink. The deterioration of his marriage was mirrored by the disintegration of his professional relationship with Harry Langdonduring the making of the new feature, Long Pants.
The movie, which was released in March 1927, proved to be Capra's last with Harry Langdon, as the comedian soon sacked Capra after its release. Capra later explained the principle of Langdon comedies to James Agee, "It is the principal of the brick: If there was a rule for writing Langdon material, it was this: his only ally was God. Harry Langdon might be saved by a brick falling on a cop, but it was verboten that he in any way motivated the bricks fall."
During the production of Long Pants, Capra had a falling out with Langdon. Screenwriter Arthur Ripley's dark sensibility did not mesh well with that of the more optimistic Capra, and Harry Langdon usually sided with Ripley. The picture fell behind schedule and went over budget, and since Langdon was paid a fixed fee for each film, this represented a financial loss to his own Harry Langdon Corp. Stung by the financial set-back, and desiring to further emulate the great Chaplin, Harry Langdon made a fateful decision: He fired Capra and decided to direct himself. (Langdon's next three movies for First National were dismal failures, the two surviving films being very dark and grim black comedies, one of which, The Chaser, touched on the subject of suicide. It was the late years of the Jazz Age, a time of unprecedented prosperity and boundless bonhomie, and the critics, and more critically, the ticket-buying public, rejected Harry. In 1928, First National did not pick up his contract. The Harry Langdon Corp. soon went bankrupt, and his career as the "fourth major silent comedian" was through, just as sound was coming in.)
In April of 1927, Capra and his wife Helen split up, and Capra went off to New York to direct For the Love of Mike for First National, his first picture with Claudette Colbert. The director and his star did not get along, and the film went over budget. Subsequently, First National refused to pay Capra, and he had to hitchhike back to Hollywood. The film proved to be Capra's only genuine flop.
By September 1927, he was back working as a writer for Mack Sennett, but in October, he was hired as a director by Columbia Pictures President and Production Chief Harry Cohn for $1,000. The event was momentous for both of them, for at Columbia Capra would soon become the #1 director in Hollywood in the 1930s, and the success of Capra's films would propel the Poverty Row studio into the major leagues. But at first, Cohn was displeased with him. When viewing the first three days of rushes of his first Columbia film, That Certain Thing, Cohn wanted to fire him as everything on the first day had been shot in long shot, on the second day in medium shot, and on the third day in close-ups.
"I did it that way for time," Capra later recalled. "It was so easy to be better than the other directors, because they were all dopes. They would shoot a long shot, then they would have to change the setup to shoot a medium shot, then they would take their close-ups. Then they would come back and start over again. You lose time, you see, moving the cameras and the big goddamn lights. I said, 'I'll get all the long shots on that first set first, then all the medium shots, and then the close-ups.' I wouldn't shoot the whole scene each way unless it was necessary. If I knew that part of it was going to play in long shot, I wouldn't shoot that part in close-up. But the trick was not to move nine times, just to move three times. This saved a day, maybe two days."
Cohn decided to stick with Capra (he was ultimately delighted at the picture and gave Capra a $1,500 bonus and upped his per-picture salary), and in 1928, Cohn raised his salary again, now to to $3,000 per picture after he made several successful pictures, including Submarine. The Younger Generation, the first of a series of films with higher budgets to be directed by Capra, would prove to be his first sound film, when scenes were reshot for dialogue. In the summer of that year, he was introduced to a young widow, Lucille Warner Reyburn (who became Capra's second wife Lou Capra). He also met a transplanted stage actress, Barbara Stanwyck, who had been recruited for the talkie but had been in three successive unsuccessful films and wanted to return to the New York stage. Harry Cohn wanted Stanwyck to appear in Capra's planned film, Ladies of Leisure, but the interview with Capra did not go well, and Capra refused to use her.
Stanwyck went home crying after being dismissed by Capra, and her husband, a furious Frank Fay, called Capra up. In his defense, Capra said that Stanwyck didn't seem to want the part. According to Capra's 1961 autobiography, "The Name Above the Title," Fay said, "Frank, she's young, and shy, and she's been kicked around out here. Let me show you a test she made at Warner's." After viewing her Warners' test for The Noose, Capra became enthusiastic and urged Cohn to sign her. In January of 1930, Capra began shooting Ladies of Leisure with Stanwyck in the lead. The movies the two made together in the early '30s established them both on their separate journeys towards becoming movieland legends. Though Capra would admit to falling in love with his leading lady, it was Lucille Warner Reyburn who became the second Mrs. Capra.
"You're wondering why I was at that party. That's my racket. I'm a party girl. Do you know what that is?"
Stanwyck played a working-class "party girl" hired as a model by the painter Jerry, who hails from a wealthy family. Capra had written the first draft of the movie before screenwriter Jo Swerling took over. Swerling thought the treatment was dreadful. According to Capra, Swerling told Harry Cohn, when he initially had approached about adapting the play "Ladies of the Evening" into Capra's next proposed film, "I don't like Hollywood, I don't like you, and I certainly don't like this putrid piece of gorgonzola somebody gave me to read. It stunk when Belasco produced it as Ladies of Leisure, and it will stink as Ladies of Leisure, even if your little tin Jesus does direct it. The script is inane, vacuous, pompous, unreal, unbelievable - - and incredibly dull."
Capra, who favored extensive rehearsals before shooting a scene, developed his mature directorial style while collaborating with Stanwyck, a trained stage actress whose performance steadily deteriorated after rehearsals or retakes. Stanwyck's first take in a scene usually was her best. Capra started blocking out scenes in advance, and carefully preparing his other actors so that they could react to Stanwyck in the first shot, whose acting often was unpredictable, so they wouldn't foul up the continuity. In response to this semi-improvisatory style, Capra's crew had to boost its level of craftsmanship to beyond normal Hollywood standards, which were forged in more static and prosaic work conditions. Thus, the professionalism of Capra's crews became better than those of other directors. Capra's philosophy for his crew was, "You guys are working for the actors, they're not working for you."
After "Ladies of Leisure," Capra was assigned to direct Platinum Blonde starring Jean Harlow. The script had been the product of a series of writers, including Jo Swerling (who was given credit for adaptation), but was polished by Capra and Robert Riskin (who was given screen credit for the dialogue). Along with Jo Swerling, Riskin would rank as one of Capra's most important collaborators, ultimately having a hand in 13 movies. (Riskin wrote nine screenplays for Capra, and Capra based four other films on Riskin's work.)
Riskin created a hard-boiled newspaperman, Stew Smith for the film, a character his widow, the actress Fay Wray, said came closest to Riskin of any character he wrote. A comic character, the wise-cracking reporter who wants to lampoon high society but finds himself hostage to the pretensions of the rich he had previously mocked is the debut of the prototypical "Capra" hero. The dilemma faced by Stew, akin to the immigrant's desire to assimilate but being rejected by established society, was repeated in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and in Meet John Doe.
Capra, Stanwyck, Riskin and Jo Swerling all were together to create Capra's next picture, The Miracle Woman, a story about a shady evangelist. With John Meehan, Riskin wrote the play that the movie is based on, "Bless You, Sister," and there is a possibly apocryphal story that has Riskin at a story conference at which Capra relates the treatment for the proposed film. Capra, finished, asked Riskin for his input, and Riskin replied, "I wrote that play. My brother and I were stupid enough to produce it on Broadway. It cost us almost every cent we had. If you intend to make a picture of it, it only proves one thing: You're even more stupid than we were."
Jo Swerling adapted Riskin's play, which he and his brother Everett patterned after Sinclair Lewis' "Elmer Gantry." Like the Lewis novel, the play focuses on the relationship between a lady evangelist and a con man. The difference, though, is that the nature of the relationship is just implied in Riskin's play (and the Capra film). There is also the addition of the blind war-vet as the moral conscience of the story; he is the pivotal character, whereas in Lewis' tale, the con artist comes to have complete control over the evangelist after eventually seducing her. Like some other Capra films, The Miracle Woman is about the love between a romantic, idealizing man and a cynical, bitter woman. Riskin had based his character on lady evangelist Uldine Utley, while Stanwyck based her characterization on Aimee Semple McPherson.
Recognizing that he had something in his star director, Harry Cohn took full advantage of the lowly position his studio had in Hollywood. Both Warner Brothers and mighty MGM habitually lent Cohn their troublesome stars -- anyone rejecting scripts or demanding a pay raise was fodder for a loan out to Cohn's Poverty Row studio. Cohn himself was habitually loathe to sign long-term stars in the early 1930s (although he made rare exceptions to Peter Lorre and The Three Stooges) and was delighted to land the talents of any top flight star and invariably assigned them to Capra's pictures. Most began their tenure in purgatory with trepidation but left eagerly wanting to work with Capra again.
In 1932, Capra decided to make a motion picture that reflected the social conditions of the day. He and Riskin wrote the screenplay for American Madness, a melodrama that is an important precursor to later Capra films, not only with It's a Wonderful Life which shares the plot device of a bank run, but also in the depiction of the irrationality of a crowd mentality and the ability of the individual to make a difference. In the movie, an idealistic banker is excoriated by his conservative board of directors for making loans to small businesses on the basis of character rather than on sounder financial criteria. Since the Great Depression is on, and many people lack collateral, it would be impossible to productively lend money on any other criteria than character, the banker argues. When there is a run on the bank due to a scandal, it appears that the board of directors are rights the bank depositors make a run on the bank to take out their money before the bank fails. The fear of a bank failure ensures that the failure will become a reality as a crowd mentality takes over among the clientèle. The board of directors refuse to pledge their capital to stave off the collapse of the bank, but the banker makes a plea to the crowd, and just like George Bailey's depositors in It's a Wonderful Life, the bank is saved as the fears of the crowd are ameliorated and businessmen grateful to the banker pledge their capital to save the bank. The board of directors, impressed by the banker's character and his belief in the character of his individual clients (as opposed to the irrationality of the crowd), pledge their capital and the bank run is staved off and the bank is saved.
In his biography, "The Name Above the Picture," Capra wrote that before American Madness, he had only made "escapist" pictures with no basis in reality. He recounts how Poverty Row studios, lacking stars and production values, had to resort to "gimmick" movies to pull the crowds in, making films on au courant controversial subjects that were equivalent to "yellow journalism."
What was more important than the subject and its handling was the maturation of Capra's directorial style with the film. Capra had become convinced that the mass-experience of watching a motion picture with an audience had the psychological effect in individual audience members of slowing down the pace of a film. A film that during shooting and then when viewed on a movieola editing device and on a small screen in a screening room among a few professionals that had seemed normally paced became sluggish when projected on the big screen. While this could have been the result of the projection process blowing up the actors to such large proportions, Capra ultimately believed it was the effect of mass psychology affecting crowds since he also noticed this "slowing down" phenomenon at ball games and at political conventions. Since American Madness dealt with crowds, he feared that the effect would be magnified.
He decided to boost the pace of the film, during the shooting. He did away with characters' entrances and exits that were a common part of cinematic "grammar" in the early 1930s, a survival of the "photoplays" days. Instead, he "jumped" characters in and out of scenes, and jettisoned the dissolves that were also part of cinematic grammar that typically ended scenes and indicated changes in time or locale so as not to make cutting between scenes seem choppy to the audience. Dialogue was deliberately overlapped, a radical innovation in the early talkies, when actors were instructed to let the other actor finish his or her lines completely before taking up their cue and beginning their own lines, in order to facilitate the editing of the sound-track. What he felt was his greatest innovation was to boost the pacing of the acting in the film by a third by making a scene that would normally play in one minute take only 40 seconds.
When all these innovations were combined in his final cut, it made the movie seem normally paced on the big screen, though while shooting individual scenes, the pacing had seemed exaggerated. It also gave the film a sense of urgency that befitted the subject of a financial panic and a run on a bank. More importantly, it "kept audience attention riveted to the screen," as he said in his autobiography. Except for "mood pieces," Capra subsequently used these techniques in all his films, and he was amused by critics who commented on the "naturalness" of his direction.
Capra was close to completely establishing his themes and style. Justly accused of indulging in sentiment which some critics labeled "Capra-corn," Capra's next film, Lady for a Day was an adaptation of Damon Runyon's 1929 short story "Madame La Gimp" about a nearly destitute apple peddler whom the superstitious gambler Dave the Dude (portrayed by Warner Brothers star Warren William) sets up in high style so she and her daughter, who is visiting with her finance, will not be embarrassed. Dave the Dude believes his luck at gambling comes from his ritualistically buying an apple a day from Annie, who is distraught and considering suicide to avoid the shame of her daughter seeing her reduced to living on the street. The Dude and his criminal confederates put Annie up in a luxury apartment with a faux husband in order to establish Annie in the eyes of her daughter as a dignified and respectable woman, but in typical Runyon fashion, Annie becomes more than a fake as the masquerade continues.
Robert Riskin wrote the first four drafts of Lady for a Day, and of all the scripts he worked on for Capra, the film deviates less from the script than any other. After seeing the movie, Runyon sent a telegraph to Riskin praising him for his success at elaborating on the story and fleshing out the characters while maintain his basic story. Lady for a Day was the favorite Capra film of John Ford, the great filmmaker who once directed the unknown extra. The movie cost $300,000 and was the first of Capra's oeuvre to attract the attention of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, getting a Best Director nomination for Capra, plus nods for Riskin and Best Actress. The movie received Columbia's first Best Picture nomination, the studio never having attracted any attention from the Academy before Lady for a Day. (Capra's last film was the flop remake of Lady for a Day with Bette Davis and Glenn Ford, Pocketful of Miracles)
Capra reunited with Stanwyck and produced his first universally acknowledged classic, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, a film that now seems to belong more to the oeuvre of Josef von Sternberg than it does to Frank Capra. With "General Yen," Capra had consciously set out to make a movie that would win Academy Awards. Frustrated that the innovative, timely, and critically well-received American Madness had not received any recognition at the Oscars (particularly in the director's category in recognition of his innovations in pacing), he vented his displeasure to Columbia boss Cohn.
"Forget it," Cohn told Capra, as recounted in his autobiography. "You ain't got a Chinaman's chance. They only vote for that arty junk."
Capra set out to boost his chances by making an arty film featuring a "Chinaman" that confronted that major taboo of American cinema of the first half of the century, miscegenation.
In the movie, the American missionary Megan Davis is in China to marry another missionary. Abducted by the Chinese Warlord General Yen, she is torn away from the American compound that kept her isolated from the Chinese and finds herself in a strange, dangerous culture. The two fall in love despite their different races and life-views. The film ran up against the taboo against miscegenation embedded in the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association's Production Code, and while Megan merely kisses General Yen's hand in the picture, the fact that she was undeniably in love with a man from a different race attracted the vituperation of many bigots.
Having fallen for Megan, General Yen engenders her escape back to the Americans before willingly drinking a poisoned cup of tea, his involvement with her having cost him his army, his wealth, and now his desire to live. The Bitter Tea of General Yen marks the introduction of suicide as a Capra theme that will come back repeatedly, most especially in George Bailey's breakdown on the snowy bridge in It's a Wonderful Life.
Despair often shows itself in Capra films, and although in his post-"General Yen" work, the final reel wraps things up in a happy way, until that final reel, there is tragedy, cynicism, heartless exploitation, and other grim subject matter that Capra's audiences must have known were the truth of the world, but that were too grim to face when walking out of a movie theater. When pre-Code movies were rediscovered and showcased across the United States in the 1990s, they were often accompanied by thesis about how contemporary audiences "read" the films (and post-1934 more Puritanical works), as the movies were not so frank or racy as supposed. There was a great deal of signaling going on which the audience could read into, and the same must have been true for Capra's films, giving lie to the fact that he was a sentimentalist with a saccharine view of America. There are few films as bitter as those of Frank Capra before the final reel.
Despair was what befell Frank Capra, personally, on the night of March 16, 1934, which he attended as one of the Best Director nominees for Lady for a Day. Capra had caught Oscar fever, and in his own words, "In the interim between the nominations and the final voting...my mind was on those Oscars." When Oscar host Will Rogers opened the envelope for Best Director, he commented, "Well, well, well. What do you know. I've watched this young man for a long time. Saw him come up from the bottom, and I mean the bottom. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Come on up and get it, Frank!"
Capra got up to go get it, squeezing past tables and making his way to the open dance floor to accept his Oscar. "The spotlight searched around trying to find me. 'Over here!' I waved. Then it suddenly swept away from me -- and picked up a flustered man standing on the other side of the dance floor - Frank Lloyd!"
Frank Lloyd went up to the dais to accept HIS Oscar while a voice in back of Capra yelled, "Down in front!"
Capra's walk back to his table amidst shouts of "Sit down!" turned into the "Longest, saddest, most shattering walk in my life. I wished I could have crawled under the rug like a miserable worm. When I slumped in my chair I felt like one. All of my friends at the table were crying."
That night, after Lloyd's Cavalcade, beat Lady for a Day for Best Picture, Capra got drunk at his house and passed out. "Big 'stupido,'" Capra thought to himself, "running up to get an Oscar dying with excitement, only to crawl back dying with shame. Those crummy Academy voters; to hell with their lousy awards. If ever they did vote me one, I would never, never, NEVER show up to accept it."
Capra would win his first of three Best Director Oscars the next year, and would show up to accept it. More importantly, he would become the president of the Academy in 1935 and take it out of the labor relations field a time when labor strife and the formation of the talent guilds threatened to destroy it.
The International Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences had been the brainchild of Louis B. Mayer in 1927 (it dropped the "International" soon after its formation). In order to forestall unionization by the creative talent (directors, actors and screenwriters) who were not covered by the Basic Agreement signed in 1926, Mayer had the idea of forming a company union, which is how the Academy came into being. The nascent Screen Writers Union, which had been created in 1920 in Hollywood, had never succeeded in getting a contract from the studios. It went out of existence in 1927, when labor relations between writers and studios were handled by the Academy's writers' branch.
The Academy had brokered studio-mandated pay-cuts of 10% in 1927 and 1931, and massive layoffs in 1930 and 1931. With the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 4, 1933, Roosevelt took no time in attempting to tackle the Great Depression. The day after his inauguration, he declared a National Bank Holiday, which hurt the movie industry as it was heavily dependent on bank loans. Louis B. Mayer, as president of the Association of Motion Picture Producers, Inc. (the co-equal arm of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association charged with handling labor relations) huddled with a group from the Academy (the organization he created and had long been criticized for dominating, in both labor relations and during the awards season) and announced a 50% across-the-board pay cut. In response, stagehands called a strike for March 13th, which shut down every studio in Hollywood.
After another caucus between Mayer and the Academy committee, a proposal for a pay-cut on a sliding-scale up to 50% for everyone making over $50 a week; which would only last for eight weeks, was inaugurated. Screen writers resigned en masse from the Academy and joined a reformed Screen Writers Guild, but most employees had little choice and went along with it. All the studios but Warner Bros. and Sam Goldwyn honored the pledge to restore full salaries after the eight weeks, and Warners production chief Darryl F. Zanuck resigned in protest over his studio's failure to honor its pledge. A time of bad feelings persisted, and much anger was directed towards the Academy in its role as company union.
The Academy, trying to position itself as an independent arbiter, hired the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse for the first time to inspect the books of the studios. The audit revealed that all the studios were solvent, but Harry Warner refused to budge and Academy President 'Conrad Nagel' resigned, although some said he was forced out after a vote of no-confidence after arguing Warner's case. The Academy announced that the studio bosses would never again try to impose a horizontal salary cut, but the usefulness of the Academy as a company union was over.
Under Roosevelt's New Deal, the self-regulation imposed by the National Industrial Relations Act (signed into law on June 16th) to bring business sectors back to economic health was predicated upon cartelization, in which the industry itself wrote its own regulatory code. With Hollywood, it meant the re-imposition of paternalistic labor relations that the Academy had been created to wallpaper over. The last nail in the company union's coffin was when it became public knowledge that the Academy appointed a committee to investigate the continued feasibility of the industry practice of giving actors and writers long-term contracts. High salaries to directors, actors, and screen writers was compensation to the creative people for producers refusing to ceded control over creative decision-making. Long-term contracts were the only stability in the Hollywood economic set-up up creative people,. Up to 20%-25% of net earnings of the movie industry went to bonuses to studio owners, production chiefs, and senior executives at the end of each year, and this created a good deal of resentment that fueled the militancy of the SWG and led to the formation of the Screen Actors Guild in July 1933 when they, too, felt that the Academy had sold them out.
The industry code instituted a cap on the salaries of actors, directors, and writers, but not of movie executives; mandated the licensing of agents by producers; and created a reserve clause similar to baseball where studios had renewal options with talent with expired contracts, who could only move to a new studio if the studio they had last been signed to did not pick up their option.
The SWG sent a telegram to FDR in October 1933 denouncing this policy, arguing that the executives had taken millions of dollars of bonuses while running their companies into receivership and bankruptcy. The SWG denounced the continued membership of executives who had led their studios into financial failure remaining on the corporate boards and in the management of the reorganized companies, and furthermore protested their use of the NIRA to write their corrupt and failed business practices into law at the expense of the workers.
There was a mass resignation of actors from the Academy in October 1933, with the actors switching their allegiance to SAG. SAG joined with the SWG to publish "The Screen Guilds Magazine," a periodical whose editorial content attacked the Academy as a company union in the producers' pocket. SAG President Eddie Cantor, a friend of Roosevelt who had bee invited to spend the Thanksgiving Day holiday with the president, informed him of the guild's grievances over the NIRA code. Roosevelt struck down many of the movie industry code's anti-labor provisions by executive order.
The labor battles between the guilds and the studios would continue until the late 1930s, and by the time Frank Capra was elected president of the Academy in 1935, the post was an unenviable one. The Screen Directors Guild was formed at King Vidor's house on January 15, 1936, and one of its first acts was to send a letter to its members urging them to boycott the Academy Awards ceremony, which was three days away. None of the guilds had been recognized as bargaining agents by the studios, and it was argued to grace the Academy Awards would give the Academy, a company union, recognition. Academy membership had declined to 40 from a high of 600, and Capra believed that the guilds wanted to punish the studios financially by depriving them of the good publicity the Oscars generated.
But the studios couldn't care less. Seeing that the Academy was worthless to help them in its attempts to enforce wage cuts, it too abandoned the Academy, which it had financed. Capra and the Board members had to pay for the Oscar statuettes for the 1936 ceremony. In order to counter the boycott threat, Capra needed a good publicity gimmick himself, and the Academy came up with one, voting D.W. Griffith an honorary Oscar, the first bestowed since one had been given to Charles Chaplin at the first Academy Awards ceremony.
The Guilds believed the boycott had worked as only 20 SAG members and 13 SWG members had showed up at the Oscars, but Capra remembered the night as a victory as all the winners had shown up. However, 'Variety' wrote that "there was not the galaxy of stars and celebs in the director and writer groups which distinguished awards banquets in recent years." "Variety" reported that to boost attendance, tickets had been given to secretaries and the like. Bette Davis and Victor McLaglen had showed up to accept their Oscars, but McLaglen's director and screenwriter, John Ford and Dudley Nichols, both winners like McLaglen for The Informer, were not there, and Nichols became the first person to refuse an Academy Award when he sent back his statuette to the Academy with a note saying he would not turn his back on his fellow writers in the SWG. Capra sent it back to him. Ford, the treasurer of the SDG, had not showed up to accept his Oscar, he explained, because he wasn't a member of the Academy. When Capra staged a ceremony where Ford accepted his award, the SDG voted him out of office.
To save the Academy and the Oscars, Capra convinced the board to get it out of the labor relations field. He also democratized the nomination process to eliminate studio politics, opened the cinematography and interior decoration awards to films made outside the U.S., and created two new acting awards for supporting performances to win over SAG.
By the 1937 awards ceremony, SAG signaled its pleasure that the Academy had mostly stayed out of labor relations by announcing it had no objection to its members attending the awards ceremony. The ceremony was a success, despite the fact that the Academy had to charge admission due to its poor finances. Frank Capra had saved the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and he even won his second Oscar that night, for directing Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. At the end of the evening, Capra announced the creation of the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award to honor "the most consistent high level of production achievement by an individual producer." It was an award he himself was not destined to win.
By the 1938 awards, the Academy and all three guilds had buried the hatchet, and the guild presidents all attended the ceremony: SWG President Dudley Nichols, who finally had accepted his Oscar, SAG President Robert Montgomery, and SDG President King Vidor. Capra also had introduced the secret ballot, the results of which were unknown to everyone but the press, who were informed just before the dinner so they could make their deadlines. The first Irving Thalberg Award was given to long-time Academy supporter and anti-Guild stalwart Darryl F. Zanuck by Cecil B. DeMille, who in his preparatory remarks, declared that the Academy was "now free of all labor struggles."
But those struggles weren't over. In 1939, Capra had been voted president of the SDG and began negotiating with AMPP President 'Joseph Schenck', the head of 20th Century-Fox, for the industry to recognize the SDG as the sole collective bargaining agent for directors. When Schenck refused, Capra mobilized the directors and threatened a strike. He also threatened to resign from the Academy and mount a boycott of the awards ceremony, which was to be held a week later. Schenck gave in, and Capra won another victory when he was named Best Director for a third time at the Academy Awards, and his movie, You Can't Take It with You, was voted Best Picture of 1938.
The 1940 awards ceremony was the last that Capra presided over, and he directed a documentary about them, which was sold to Warner Bros' for $30,000, the monies going to the Academy. He was nominated himself for Best Director and Best Picture for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but lost to the Gone with the Wind juggernaut. Under Capra's guidance, the Academy had left the labor relations field behind in order to concentrated on the awards (publicity for the industry), research and education.
"I believe the guilds should more or less conduct the operations and functions of this institution," he said in his farewell speech. He would be nominated for Best Director and Best Picture once more with It's a Wonderful Life in 1947, but the Academy would never again honor him, not even with an honorary award after all his service. (Bob Hope, in contrast, received four honorary awards, including a lifetime membership in 1945, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award in 1960 from the Academy.) The SDG (subsequently renamed the Directors Guild of America after its 1960 with the Radio and Television Directors Guild and which Capra served as its first president from 1960-61), the union he had struggled with in the mid-1930s but which he had first served as president from 1939 to 1941 and won it recognition, voted him a lifetime membership in 1941 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1959.
Whenever Capra convinced studio boss Harry Cohn to let him make movies with more controversial or ambitious themes, the movies typically lost money after under-performing at the box office. The Bitter Tea of General Yen and Lost Horizon were both expensive, philosophically minded pictures that sought to reposition Capra and Columbia into the prestige end of the movie market. After the former's relative failure at the box office and with critics, Capra turned to making a screwball comedy, a genre he excelled at, with It Happened One Night. Bookended with You Can't Take It with You, these two huge hits won Columbia Best Picture Oscars and Capra Best Director Academy Awards. These films, along with Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It's a Wonderful Life are the heart of Capra's cinematic canon. They are all classics and products of superb craftsmanship, but they gave rise to the canard of "Capra-corn." One cannot consider Capra without taking into account The Bitter Tea of General Yen, American Madness, and Meet John Doe, all three dark films tackling major issues, Imperialism, the American plutocracy, and domestic fascism. Capra was no Pollyanna, and the man who was called a "dago" by Mack Sennett and who went on to become one of the most unique, highly honored and successful directors, whose depictions of America are considered Americana themselves, did not live his cinematic life looking through a rose-colored range-finder
In his autobiography "The Name Above the Title," Capra says that at the time of American Madness, critics began commenting on his "gee-whiz" style of filmmaking. The critics attacked "gee whiz" cultural artifacts as their fabricators "wander about wide-eyed and breathless, seeing everything as larger than life." Capra's response was "Gee whiz!"
Defining Hollywood as split between two camps, "Mr. Up-beat" and "Mr. Down-beat," Capra defended the up-beat gee whiz on the grounds that, "To some of us, all that meets the eye IS larger than life, including life itself. Who ca match the wonder of it?"
Among the artists of the "Gee-Whiz:" school were Ernest Hemingway, Homer, and Paul Gauguin, a novelist who lived a heroic life larger than life itself, a poet who limned the lives of gods and heroes, and a painter who created a mythic Tahiti, the Tahiti that he wanted to find. Capra pointed to Moses and the apostles as examples of men who were larger than life. Capra was proud to be "Mr. Up-beat" rather than belong to "the 'ashcan' school" whose "films depict life as an alley of cats clawing lids off garbage cans, and man as less noble than a hyena. The 'ash-canners,' in turn, call us Pollyannas, mawkish sentimentalists, and corny happy-enders."
What really moves Capra is that in America, there was room for both schools, that there was no government interference that kept him from making a film like American Madness. (While Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Joseph P. Kennedy had asked Harry Cohn to stop exporting Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to Europe as it portrayed American democracy so negatively.) About Mr. Up-beat and Mr-Downbeat and "Mr. In-between," Capra says, "We all respect and admire each other because the great majority freely express their own individual artistry unfettered by subsidies or strictures from government, pressure groups, or ideologists."
In the period 1934 to 1941, Capra the created the core of his canon with the classics It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Meet John Doe, wining three Best Director Oscars in the process. Some cine-historians call Capra the great American propagandist, he was so effective in creating an indelible impression of America in the 1930s. "Maybe there never was an America in the thirties," John Cassavetes was quoted as saying. "Maybe it was all Frank Capra."
After the United States went to war in December 1941, Frank Capra rejoined the Army and became an actual propagandist. His "Why We Fight" series of propaganda films were highly lauded for their remarkable craftsmanship and were the best of the U.S. propaganda output during the war. Capra's philosophy, which has been variously described as a kind of Christian socialism (his films frequently feature a male protagonist who can be seen a Christ figure in a story about redemption emphasizing New Testament values) that is best understood as an expression of humanism, made him an ideal propagandist. He loved his adopted country with the fervor of the immigrant who had realized the American dream. One of his propaganda films, The Negro Soldier, is a milestone in race relations.
Capra, a genius in the manipulation of the first form of "mass media," was opposed to "massism." The crowd in a Capra film is invariably wrong, and he comes down on the side of the individual, who can make a difference in a society of free individuals. In an interview, Capra said he was against "mass entertainment, mass production, mass education, mass everything. Especially mass man. I was fighting for, in a sense, the preservation of the liberty of the individual person against the mass."
Capra had left Columbia after "Mr. Smith" and formed his own production company. After the war, he founded Liberty Films with John Ford and made his last masterpiece, It's a Wonderful Life. Liberty folded prior to its release (another Liberty film, William Wyler's masterpiece, The Best Years of Our Lives was released through United Artists). Though Capra received his sixth Oscar nomination as best director, the movie flopped at the box office, which is hard to believe now that the film is considered must-see viewing each Christmas. Capra's period of greatness was over, and after making three under-whelming films from 1948 to '51 (including a remake of his earlier Broadway Bill), Capra didn't direct another picture for eight years, instead making a series of memorable semi-comic science documentaries for television that became required viewing for most 1960's school kids. His last two movies, A Hole in the Head and Pocketful of Miracles his remake of Lady for a Day did little to enhance his reputation.
But a great reputation it was, and is. Capra's films withstood the test of time and continue to be as beloved as when they were embraced by the movie-going "masses" in the 1930s. It was the craftsmanship: Capra was undeniably a master of his medium. The great English novelist Graham Greene, who supported himself as a film critic in the 1930s, loved Capra's films due to their sense of responsibility and of common life, and due to his connection with his audience. (Capra, according to the 1938 "Time" article, believed that what he liked would be liked by moviegoers). In his review of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Greene elucidated the central theme of Capra
Timothy Hutton was born in Malibu, California, to Maryline (Poole), a teacher, and actor Jim Hutton (Dana James Hutton). He set Hollywood ablaze when he burst onto the acting scene in the early 1980s. After only a small number of significant roles in TV movies, he bagged the part of Conrad in the Robert Redford-directed Ordinary People. His convincing - and touching - performance as the troubled and self-accusing teenager trying to deal with the death of his older brother, won him an Academy Award. He is, to date, the youngest actor to receive an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (1980).
With over 70 film, TV, and stage appearances (including an impressive 15 features films between 2006-08), Tim Hutton is (of 2008) headlining the hit TV series Leverage as insurance investigator Nate Ford. He also starred in the acclaimed Roman Polanski film The Ghost Writer.
Tim made his Broadway debut in 1989 in the A.R. Gurney play 'Love Letters'.
Aaron Sorkin grew up in Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City where he was very involved in his high school drama and theater club. After graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, Sorkin intended to pursue a career in acting. It took him only a short time to realize that his true love, and his true talent, lay in writing. His first play, "Removing All Doubt", was not an immediate success, but his second play, "Hidden in This Picture", debuted in 1988 at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater Bar. A longer version of "Hidden in This Picture", called "Making Movies", opened at the Promenade Theater in 1990. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Sorkin was about to break into the spotlight. In 1989, he received the prestigious Outer Critics Circle award as Outstanding American Playwright for the stage version of A Few Good Men, which was later nominated for a Golden Globe. The idea for the plot of "A Few Good Men" came from a conversation with his older sister, Deborah. Deborah was a Navy Judge Advocate General lawyer sent to Guantanamo Bay on a case involving Marines accused of killing a fellow Marine. Deborah told Aaron of the case and he spent the next year and a half writing a Broadway play, which later led to the movie. Sorkin has gone on to write for many movies and TV shows. Besides A Few Good Men, he has written The American President and Malice, as well as cooperating on Enemy of the State, The Rock and Excess Baggage. In addition, he was invited by Steven Spielberg to "polish" the script of Schindler's List. Sorkin's TV credits include the Golden Globe-nominated The West Wing and Sports Night.
Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High Anglican priest. His surname came from a great-great-grandfather who was of French Huguenot origin.
One of Olivier's earliest successes as a Shakespearean actor on the London stage came in 1935 when he played "Romeo" and "Mercutio" in alternate performances of "Romeo and Juliet" with John Gielgud. A young Englishwoman just beginning her career on the stage fell in love with Olivier's Romeo. In 1937, she was "Ophelia" to his "Hamlet" in a special performance at Kronberg Castle, Elsinore, Denmark. In 1940, she became his second wife after both returned from making films in America that were major box office hits of 1939. His film was Wuthering Heights, her film was Gone with the Wind. Vivien Leigh and Olivier were screen lovers in Fire Over England, 21 Days Together and That Hamilton Woman. There was almost a fourth film together in 1944 when Olivier and Leigh traveled to Scotland with Charles C. Bennett to research the real-life story of a Scottish girl accused of murdering her French lover. Bennett recalled that Olivier researched the story "with all the thoroughness of Sherlock Holmes" and "we unearthed evidence, never known or produced at the trial, that would most certainly have sent the young lady to the gallows". The film project was then abandoned. During their two-decade marriage, Olivier and Leigh appeared on the stage in England and America and made films whenever they really needed to make some money. In 1951, Olivier was working on a screen adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel "Sister Carrie" (Carrie) while Leigh was completing work on the film version of the Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire. She won her second Oscar for bringing "Blanche DuBois" to the screen. Carrie was a film that Olivier never talked about. George Hurstwood, a middle-aged married man from Chicago who tricked a young woman into leaving a younger man about to marry her, became a New York street person in the novel. Olivier played him as a somewhat nicer person who didn't fall quite as low. A PBS documentary on Olivier's career broadcast in 1987 covered his first sojourn in Hollywood in the early 1930s with his first wife, Jill Esmond, and noted that her star was higher than his at that time. On film, he was upstaged by his second wife, too, even though the list of films he made is four times as long as hers. More than half of his film credits come after The Entertainer, which started out as a play in London in 1957. When the play moved across the Atlantic to Broadway in 1958, the role of "Archie Rice"'s daughter was taken over by Joan Plowright, who was also in the film. They married soon after the release of The Entertainer.
Paul Verhoeven graduated from the University of Leiden, with a degree in math and physics. He entered the Royal Netherlands Navy, where he began his film career by making documentaries for the Navy and later for TV. In 1969, he directed the popular Dutch TV series, Floris, about a medieval knight. This featured actor Rutger Hauer, who has appeared in many of Verhoeven's later films. Verhoeven's first feature, Diary of a Hooker (trans. "What do I See?"), was released in 1971. However, it was his second, Turkish Delight, with its combination of raw sexuality and a poignant story-line, that gained him great popularity in the Netherlands, especially with male audiences. When his films, especially Soldier of Orange and The 4th Man, received international recognition, Verhoeven moved to the US. His first US film was Flesh+Blood in 1985, but it was RoboCop and, especially, Total Recall that made him a big box office success. Sometimes accused of portraying excessive violence in his films, Verhoeven replies that he is only recording the violence of society. Verhoeven has co-scripted two of his films: Soldier of Orange and Flesh+Blood. He also directed an episode of the HBO The Hitchhiker TV series. Several of his films have been photographed by Jost Vacano, including the hit cult film, Starship Troopers, starring Casper Van Dien.
The youngest of three girls, Christina was born just outside Toronto. She carried a double major of theater and dance at the prestigious Arts York at Unionville High School. She went on to further her training at the Ryerson Theatre School of Toronto, among such alumni as Eric McCormack and David James Elliott. In addition to her film and television credits, Christina has appeared in numerous national theater productions, ranging from classical productions of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" to Jim Cartwright's raw and dirty "Road".
Christina completed the last of 13 episodes, as "astrobiologist Jen Crane", in the FTVS/ABC series, Defying Gravity, a one-hour drama about a team of astronauts on a six-year mission in outer space.
On completion of Defying Gravity, Christina guest-starred as "Zoey Kruger", a cop accused of killing her family on the 4th season of Showtime's Dexter. After "Dexter", she joined the cast of the hit series, 24, as "Secret Service agent Molly O'Connor", as well as dropping by The Mentalist and filming The Stepson, with Adam Beach.
In addition to starring in several pilots, including the "most-watched-never-aired" pilot on You Tube; Nikki and Nora, she co-created and developed an original script for Sony Television and Barry Sonnenfeld with her Nikki and Nora show runner Nancylee Myatt (South of Nowhere, 3Way) and co-star Liz Vassey (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation).
Richard Tyson was born in Mobile, Alabama but eventually pursued his love of acting and moved to Hollywood, California. Landing one of his first roles on the hit TV show, 'Moonlighting' (with Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd), Richard's career took off from there and hasn't shown any sign of slowing down since. Best known for his roles as Buddy Revell in 'Three O'Clock High', Cullen Crisp in 'Kindergarten Cop' (opposite Arnold Schwartzenegger) and Perry in 'Two Moon Junction', Richard has time and time again proven his versatility as an actor in not only the different characters he plays, but also in his ability to go from feature film star to television actor to theater performer (he regularly takes to the stage to perform Shakespeare).
Richard was the star of his own television series called Hardball which ran for a year in 1989. He has also appeared on various other TV shows throughout his career including his most recent appearance on CSI:New York.
With a long list of film credits including 'Black Hawk Down', 'There's Something About Mary', 'Kingpin', 'Genghis Khan' and many others, Richard has shared the screen with a wide array of actors including Charleton Heston, Orlando Bloom, Ben Stiller and John Travolta. In addition to his extensive film and television career, Richard holds a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from Cornell University and once taught acting there. Richard's most recent films include 'Naked Run', 'Richard III', 'Plane Dead', 'The Visitation' and the horror film, 'Big Bad Wolf' in which Richard plays a stepfather accused by his stepson of being a vicious werewolf. 'Big Bad Wolf' is set for release this year.
In the fall of 2006 Richard returned home to Alabama for the premiere of the film, 'When I Find The Ocean' - the first film he has been in to be shot in his home state - and soon after visited Russia where he accepted the Peacemaker Award. Richard is currently shooting the film 'Jake's Corner' and will be returning to Russia later this year to begin filming for another movie. He is also looking to direct and produce his own films and continues to seek interesting and challenging roles to play.
Ronald Reagan is, arguably, the most successful actor in history, having catapulted from a career as a Warner Bros. contract player and television star, into serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild, the governorship of California (1967-1975), and lastly, two terms as President of the United States (1981-1989).
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, to Nelle Clyde (Wilson) and John Edward "Jack" Reagan, who was a salesman and storyteller. His father was of Irish descent, and his mother was of half Scottish and half English ancestry.
A successful actor beginning in the 1930s, the young Reagan was a staunch admirer of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (even after he evolved into a Republican), and was a Democrat in the 1940s, a self-described 'hemophilliac' liberal. He was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1947 and served five years during the most tumultuous times to ever hit Hollywood. A committed anti-communist, Reagan not only fought more-militantly activist movie industry unions that he and others felt had been infiltrated by communists, but had to deal with the investigation into Hollywood's politics launched by the House Un-Amercan Activities Committee in 1947, an inquisition that lasted through the 1950s. The House Un-American Activities Committee investigations of Hollywood (which led to the jailing of the "Hollywood Ten" in the late '40s) sowed the seeds of the McCarthyism that racked Hollywood and America in the 1950s.
In 1950, U.S. Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas (D-CA), the wife of "Dutch" Reagan's friend Melvyn Douglas, ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate and was opposed by the Republican nominee, the Red-bating Congresman from Whittier, Richard Nixon. While Nixon did not go so far as to accuse Gahagan Douglas of being a communist herself, he did charge her with being soft on communism due to her opposition to the House Un-Amercan Activities Committee. Nixon tarred her as a "fellow traveler" of communists, a "pinko" who was "pink right down to her underwear." Gahagan Douglas was defeated by the man she was the first to call "Tricky Dicky" because of his unethical behavior and dirty campaign tactics. Reagan was on the Douglases' side during that campaign.
The Douglases, like Reagan and such other prominent actors as Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson, were liberal Democrats, supporters of the late Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, a legacy that increasingly was under attack by the right after World War II. They were NOT fellow-travelers; Melyvn Douglas had actually been an active anti-communist and was someone the communists despised. Melvyn Douglas, Robinson and Henry Fonda - a registered Republican! - wound up "gray-listed." (They weren't explicitly black-listed, they just weren't offered any work.) Reagan, who it was later revealed had been an F.B.I. informant while a union leader (turning in suspected communists), was never hurt that way, as he made S.A.G. an accomplice of the black-listing.
Reagan's career sagged after the late 1940s, and he started appearing in B-movies after he left Warners to go free-lance. However, he had a eminence grise par excellence in Lew Wasserman, his agent and the head of the Music Corp. of America. Wasserman, later called "The Pope of Hollywood," was the genius who figured out that an actor could make a killing via a tax windfall by turning himself into a corporation. The corporation, which would employ the actor, would own part of a motion picture the actor appeared in, and all monies would accrue to the corporation, which was taxed at a much lower rate than was personal income. Wasserman pioneered this tax avoidance scheme with his client James Stewart, beginning with the Anthony Mann western Winchester '73 (1950). It made Stewart enormously rich as he became a top box office draw in the 1950s after the success of "Winchester 73" and several more Mann-directed westerns, all of which he had an ownership stake in.
Ironically, Reagan became a poor-man's James Stewart in the early 1950s, appearing in westerns, but they were mostly B-pictures. He did not have the acting chops of the great Stewart, but he did have his agent. Wasserman at M.C.A. was one of the pioneers of television syndication, and this was to benefit Reagan enormously. M.C.A. was the only talent agency that was also allowed to be a producer through an exemption to union rules granted by S.A.G. when Reagan was the union president, and it used the exemption to acquire Universal International Pictures. Talent agents were not permitted to be producers as there was an inherent conflict of interest between the two professions, one of which was committed to acquiring talent at the lowest possible cost and the other whose focus was to get the best possible price for their client. When a talent agent was also a producer, like M.C.A. was, it had a habit of steering its clients to its own productions, where they were employed but at a lower price than their potential free market value. It was a system that made M.C.A. and Lew Wasserman, enormously wealthy.
The ownership of Universal and its entry into the production of television shows that were syndicated to network made M.C.A. the most successful organization in Hollywood of its time, a real cash cow as television overtook the movies as the #1 business of the entertainment industry. Wasserman repaid Ronald Reagan's largess by structuring a deal by which he hosted and owned part of General Electric Theater, a western omnibus showcase that ran from 1954 to 1961. It made Reagan very comfortable financially, though it did not make him rich. That came later.
In 1960, with the election of the Democratic President John F. Kennedy, the black and gray lists went into eclipse. J.F.K. appointed Helen Gahagan Douglas Treasurer of the United States. About this time, as the civil rights movement became stronger and found more support among Democrats and the Kennedy administration, Reagan - fresh from a second stint as S.A.G. president in 1959 - was in the process of undergoing a personal and political metamorphosis into a right-wing Republican, a process that culminated with his endorsing Barry Goldwater for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964. (He narrated a Goldwater campaign film played at the G.O.P. Convention in San Francisco.) Reagan's evolution into a right-wing Republican sundered his friendship with the Douglases. (After Reagan was elected President of the United States in 1980, Melvyn Douglas said of his former friend that Reagan turned to the right after he had begun to believe the pro-business speeches he delivered for General Electric when he was the host of the "G.E. Theater.")
In 1959, while Reagan was back as a second go-round as S.A.G. president, M.C.A.'s exemption from S.A.G. regulations that forbade a talent agency from being a producer was renewed. However, in 1962, the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy successfully forced M.C.A. - known as "The Octopus" in Hollywood for its monopolistic tendencies - to divest itself of its talent agency.
When Reagan was tipped by the California Republican Party to be its standard-bearer in the 1965 gubernatorial election against Democratic Governor Pat Brown, Lew Wasserman went back in action. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and though Wasserman was a liberal Democrat, having an old friend like Reagan who had shown his loyalty as S.A.G. president in the state house was good for business. Wasserman and his partner, M.C.A. Chairman Jules Styne (a Republican), helped ensure that Reagan would be financially secure for the rest of his life so that he could enter politics. (At the time, he was the host of "Death Valley Days" on TV.)
According to the Wall Street Journal, Universal sold Reagan a nice piece of land of many acres north of Santa Barbara that had been used for location shooting. The Reagans sold most of the ranch, then converted the rest of it, about 200 acres, into a magnificent estate overlooking the valley and the Pacific Ocean. The Rancho del Cielo became President Reagan's much needed counterpoint to the buzz of Washington, D.C. There, in a setting both rugged and serene, the Reagans could spend time alone or receive political leaders such as the Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, and others.
Reagan was known to the world for his one-liners, the most famous of them was addressed to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. "Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall" said Reagan standing in front of the Berlin Wall. That call made an impact on the course of human history.
Ronald Reagan played many roles in his life's seven acts: radio announcer, movie star, union boss, television actor-cum-host, governor, right-wing critic of big government and President of the United States.
Tall, slim and exceedingly good-looking American leading man Robert Culp, a former cartoonist in his teen years, appeared off-Broadway in the 1950s before settling into polished, clean-cut film leads and "other man" supports a decade later. Hitting the popular TV boards in the hip, racially ground-breaking espionage program I Spy, he made a slick (but never smarmy), sardonic name for himself during his over five-decade career with his sly humor, casual banter and tongue-and-cheek sexiness. Though he had the requisite looks and smooth, manly appeal (not to mention acting talent) for superstardom, a cool but cynical and somewhat detached persona may have prevented him from attaining it full-out.
He was born Robert Martin Culp on August 16, 1930, in Oakland California. The son of attorney Crozie Culp and his wife, Bethel Collins, who was employed at a Berkeley chemical company, he offset his only-child loneliness by playacting in local theater productions. Culp also showed a talent for art while young and earned money as a cartoonist for Bay Area magazines and newspapers in high school, but the fascination with becoming an actor proved much stronger. He attended Berkeley High School and graduated in 1947. The athletically-inclined Culp dominated at track and field events and, as a result, earned athletic scholarships to six different universities. He selected the relatively minor College of the Pacific in Stockton, California primarily because of its active theater department. Transferring to various other colleges of higher learning (including San Francisco State in 1949), he never earned a degree. After performing in some theatre in the San Francisco area, he moved to Seattle and then New York in 1951.
Studying under famed teacher Herbert Berghof and supporting himself during this time teaching speech and phonetics, Bob eventually found work on the theatre scene, making his 1953 Broadway debut (as Robert M. Culp) in "The Prescott Proposals" with Katharine Cornell. He eventually returned to Broadway with "Diary of a Scoundrel" starring Blanche Yurka and Roddy McDowall in 1956 and with a strong role in "A Clearing in the Woods" (alongside Kim Stanley) a year later. He earned an off-Broadway Obie Award for his very fine work in "He Who Gets Slapped" in 1956, and also appeared in the plays "Daily Life" and "Easter".
Gracing a few live-TV dramas during his New York days, he returned to his native California for his first major TV role. It was an auspicious one as post-Civil War Texas Ranger "Hoby Gilman" in the western series Trackdown. He earned widespread attention in the series that based many of its stories from actual Texas Ranger files, and the show itself received the official approval not only of the Rangers themselves but by the State of Texas. The series led to a CBS spin-off of its own: Wanted: Dead or Alive, which made a TV star out of Steve McQueen.
From there, Culp guested on a number of series dramas: Bonanza, The Rifleman, Rawhide, The Detectives, Ben Casey, The Outer Limits, Naked City and Combat!. He also starred in the two-part Disney family-styled program "Sammy the Way Out Seal" (1962), which was subsequently released as a feature in Europe. He and Patricia Barry played the hapless parents of precocious Bill Mumy and Michael McGreevey whose "adopted" pet animal unleashes major chaos in their suburban neighborhood.
During this time, Bob began to seek lead and supporting work in films. Despite his co-starring with Cliff Robertson, Rod Taylor and the very perky Jane Fonda (as her straight-laced boyfriend) in the sparkling Broadway-based sexcapade Sunday in New York; playing Robertson's naval mate in the popular John F. Kennedy biopic PT 109; recreating the legendary "Wild Bill" Hickok in the western tale The Raiders; and heading up the adventurous cast of the Ivan Tors' African yarn Rhino! (which included Harry Guardino and the very fetching British import Shirley Eaton), Culp wasn't able to make a serious dent in the medium.
TV remained his best arena and gave him more lucrative offers, professionally. It rewarded him quite richly in 1965 with the debonair series lead "Kelly Robinson", a jet-setting, pro-circuit tennis player who leads a double life as an international secret agent in I Spy. Running three seasons, Culp co-starred with fellow secret agent Bill Cosby, who, as "Alexander Scott", posed as Culp's tennis trainer. The role was tailor-made for the suave, Ivy-League-looking actor. He looked effortlessly cool posing in sunglasses amid the posh continental settings and remained handsomely unflinching in the face of danger. It was the first U.S. prime-time network drama to feature an African-American actor in a full-out starring role and the relationship between the two meshed perfectly and charismatically on screen. Both were nominated for acting Emmys in all three of its seasons, with Cosby coming out the victor each time. Filmed on location in such cities as Hong Kong, Acapulco and Tokyo, Culp also wrote and directed certain episodes of the show He also met his third wife, the gorgeous Eurasian actress France Nuyen, while on the set. They married in 1967 but divorced three years later. At this stage, the actor already had four children (by second wife, sometime actress Nancy Ashe).
Following the series' demise, Culp took on perhaps his most-famous and controversial film role as Natalie Wood's husband "Bob" in the titillating but ultimately teasing "flower power" era film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, with Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon as the other-half couple who examine the late 60s "free love" idea of wife-swapping. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards (two went to supporting actors Gould and Cannon). The movie did not reignite Culp's popularity on the large screen, but it did lead to his rather strange pairing with buxom Raquel Welch in the violent-edged western Hannie Caulder and a reunion with his I Spy pal Cosby in the far-more entertaining Hickey & Boggs, which reestablished their great tongue-in-cheek rapport as two weary-eyed private eyes. Culp also directed the film while his real-life wife, actress Sheila Sullivan, played his screen wife as well.
The late 1970s produced a flood of routine mini-movies and B-pictures, the latter including Inside Out, Sky Riders, Breaking Point, The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, Flood!, Goldengirl and Hot Rod. While he remained a sturdy and standard presence in such mini-movies as Houston, We've Got a Problem, Spectre and Calendar Girl Murders, his better TV-movie roles were in A Cold Night's Death, Outrage, A Cry for Help and as "Lyle Pettyjohn" in the acclaimed mini-series sequel Roots: The Next Generations.
Bob returned to series TV as stern "CIA Chief Bill Maxwell", whose job was to protect handsome Robert Redford lookalike William Katt, who starred as an ersatz The Greatest American Hero. The show lasted three seasons. Other series guest spots, both comedic and dramatic, included Hotel, Highway to Heaven, The Golden Girls and an episode of his old buddy's show The Cosby Show. He was also a guest murderer in three of the "Columbo" episodes. Although he was relegated to appearing in such film fodder as Turk 182!, Big Bad Mama II and Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog, the 1990s offered him one of his best film roles in years as the ill-fated President in the Denzel Washington/Julia Roberts political thriller The Pelican Brief. A year later, he again reteamed with Cosby in the TV-movie I Spy Returns.
Culp became very active in the 1960s Civil Rights movement and later became a prominent face in local civic causes, joining in a lawsuit to cease construction of an elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo and accusing officials there of mistreatment. In the long run, however, the construction was given the green light. Culp also married a fifth time to Candace Faulkner and, by her, had daughter Samantha Culp in 1982. Older sons Jason Culp (born 1961) and Joseph Culp (born 1963) became actors, while another son, Joshua Culp (born 1958), entered the visual effects field. Daughter Rachel, an outré clothing designer for rock stars, was born in 1964.
In later years, Culp could be seen occasionally as Ray Romano's father-in-law on the hugely popular Everybody Loves Raymond. His last film, the family drama The Assignment, was unreleased at the time of his death. On March 24, 2010, the 79-year-old Culp collapsed from an apparent heart attack while walking near the lower entrance to Runyon Canyon Park, a popular hiking area in the Hollywood Hills. Found by a hiker, Culp was transported to a nearby hospital where he died from the head injuries he sustained in the fall. Five grandchildren also survive.
Aleks Paunovic was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to a Croatian mother and Serbian father. The result of this remarkable blend of bloodlines is the 6'5" ruggedly handsome actor appearing on screens around the world at a rapidly escalating rate.
Acting came to Aleks while he was onstage in his hometown playing in a heavy metal band, his livelihood since he was 16. Remarkably the role offered was one completely against type as it was that of Roddy McDowall's butler in the 1994 TV movie 'Heads'. Now bitten with the acting bug, Aleks combined his athleticism from his lifetime of boxing - he claims that he started boxing in the womb as all of the men in his family are boxers - and turned it into a very busy career as a stunt actor.
In 2001 Aleks stopped in Vancouver on his way to Los Angeles with an impressive resume and ready to take on Hollywood when the most horrible event in America's recent history struck. 911 changed the way anyone could enter the states and so Aleks found himself a new home and career in busy Vancouver.
Since coming to Vancouver Aleks has built an amazing resume with over 100 credits, most of which are lead and recurring roles like the one that he has on this hugely anticipated 4th season of 'Continuum'.
Aleks credits three occurrences as the game-changers in his rocketing career: One was when the venerable acting coach Larry Moss called him out in front of 300 actors, telling him that he had massive talent and demanding to see his full range; another was when he respectfully declined an offer for a 4-episode-arc on a highly-rated TV series so that he could finish his run as 'Danny' in the play "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" in a shaky old theatre to sold-out crowds.
But the biggest catalyst in Aleks's career was when he fought three rounds of casting throughout all of Los Angeles and Vancouver to win the role of 'Tom', a developmentally disabled man accused of murder in 'Personal Effects' starring Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfieffer, and Kathy Bates. Aleks put on 65 pounds to perform the role, which was one of the most challenging and rewarding roles of his career so far.
When you meet Aleks, or you watch him perform these difficult roles, you just know that with all of that leading man charisma there's star power in this man, and that you will be seeing a lot more of Aleks Paunovic.
Rossif Sutherland is a Canadian actor, son of Donald Sutherland and Francine Racette, who got his acting debut in a short film he directed while studying at Princeton University after his lead actor was a no-show on the first day of shooting.. Encouraged by his father, Rossif studied with Harold Guskin in New York, coach to Kevin Kline, Glen Close and the late James Gandolfini. He got his professional debut in Richard Donner's Timeline as a young French archaeologist. His first lead role was in Clement Virgo's Poor Boy's Game, playing an amateur boxer recently released from jail on a journey to redemption. The film starred Danny Glover and traveled the world's festivals including Toronto and Berlin. He was then in Gary Yates' High Life, starring Timothy Olyphant, portraying a morphine addict Don Juan who gets his pills from seducing nurses and gets to play cowboy for a day when he teams up with three other addicts to rob a bank. He was nominated for a Genie for his performance in the film. Rossif bounces around from one TV show to the next. He did a season of ER, King, and most recently Reign in which he played Nostradamus. He was nominated for an Actra award for his performance in Flashpoint playing an escaped convict who suffers from a crippling speech impediment desperate for justice having been wrongfully accused . His ambition was never to be an actor, he grew up in Paris far from Hollywood (he is fluent in French as a result), and spent his time writing and singing. However challenging it was for him to start a career in the shadows of his very successful father and brother, his love of the work has driven him to commit whole heartedly to the privileged life of experiencing the life of others.
Paul Greengrass started his filmmaking career with a super 8 camera he found in his art room in secondary school. Those short movies were animation horror films he made using old dolls, artist dummies, and the general art room clutter.
After studying in Cambridge University he got into Granada Television School and spent the first ten years of his career roving global hot spots for the hard-hitting documentary series, World in Action. By this time he became very interested in the Northern Ireland conflict.
In 1989, he directed his first fiction movie, "Resurrected", that won an award in Berlin. He continued his career as a fiction filmmaker with a serial of TV movies dealing with social and political issues: Open Fire (a police scandal about a policeman accused of murder), The One that got away (about a military operation during the first Gulf War).
His documentary style became more dynamic and intense with each movie. In 2002, Bloody Sunday achieved international acclamation and won the first prize in the Berlin Festival. After that he has continued his career in the United States with "The Bourne Supremacy" starring Matt Damon.
Kourtney was born in Los Angeles, California as the eldest of four children of Kris Jenner (née Kristen Mary Houghton) and attorney Robert Kardashian, with siblings Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian, and Rob Kardashian. Her father was of Armenian descent and her mother is of mostly English ancestry. In 1991, when she was age 12, her parents divorced and she spent her time between their separate houses in Beverly Hills. Her mother married Caitlyn Jenner, 1976 Olympic Gold Metal Champion for the Decathlon and later had two children with him, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner. After the O.J. Simpson murder trial propelled Kourtney's father, Bob, into the spotlight (he was a member of the "Dream Team" of lawyers defending the accused murderer in what journalists hail the "Trial of the Century"), her mother decided it would be safer to move her family to Hidden Hills, California.
Kourtney attended Marymount High School in Los Angeles, an all-girls private Catholic high school. After graduation, she enrolled at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After two years, she transferred to the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. She graduated in May of 2002 with a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts with a minor in Spanish. After graduation, she and her mother opened up children's clothing boutiques in both the Los Angeles Area (818) and New York City, called "Smooch", which carries the brand "Crib Rock Couture". At the age of 26, she starred in a reality television show called Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive that earned money for charity.
Kourtney has a son and daughter with her partner Scott Disick, who she began a relationship with in 2007.
In 1986, while doing theatre in Dallas, Texas, Shockley was cast by Paul Verhoeven in the genre defining classic, Robocop. His next decision was simple. Sell everything and make the move. With a SAG card in his pocket, a few dollars in his wallet, and three boxes and a suitcase in his car, Shockley drove the long and winding road from Texas to California, arriving in Los Angeles the night before the Robocop premiere. The journey had begun.
Within a month, Shockley landed an agent and was soon cast in his first TV guest role on Houston Knights. His work burgeoned, amassing a career defined by an array of sui generis characters. With standout performances in Showgirls, Dream Lover and Madison, Shockley also won over audiences for six years as Hank Lawson, the antihero saloonkeeper in CBS' highly regarded drama, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, starring Jane Seymour. As evidence to his character's popularity, Shockley was given a development deal by CBS and starred in his own series, a Dr. Quinn spin-off series, California.
Having spent his youth writing poetry and lyrics, Shockley's appreciation for the written word evolved. After reading countless scripts as an actor, he began focusing on scriptwriting. His first feature script to get made was Welcome to Paradis (2007), co-written with Brent Huff, a family film about a 'left of center' female preacher with a struggling congregation, needing her help as much as she needed them, starring Crystal Bernard and Brian Dennehy.
He followed that effort with Cat City (2008), co-written with Brent Huff, a film noir thriller about the underbelly of greed, passion and revenge in a Palm Springs real estate investment scam gone terribly wrong, starring Rebecca Pidgeon and Julian Sands.
Momentum grew when Shockley met writer/director Dustin Rikert. To date, they have co-written and produced six films together, starting with The Gundown (2011), a western about one man's quest to exact revenge for the death of his family, starring Peter Coyote and Sheree J. Wilson.
The duo then wrote Dug Up (2015), a redneck-stoner-zombie-comedy about three small town dimwits on a mission to find hidden gold, but instead unleash the undead.
Shockley and Rikert then scripted Born Wild (2014), a story about a man from a broken family with a troubled past, and the path leading to reconciliation, starring Shockley, Barry Corbin and Tanya Clarke. Additional firepower was added when Kix Brooks was cast in his acting debut. Brooks had recently left the iconic country music duo, Brooks & Dunn, and the timing was perfect.
Shockley, Rikert and Brooks enjoyed working together, so they teamed up again on the Rikert-Shockley project, Ambush at Dark Canyon (2014), a western about a lawman falsely accused of murder and his journey to find the killer, starring Kix Brooks and Ernie Hudson.
Shockley, Rikert and Brooks then decided to create a film production company together, bringing Kix's son, Eric Brooks, into the company, and the four founded, Team Two Entertainment.
Shockley, Rikert and Eric Brooks then wrote A Country Christmas (2013), a family story about Santa Claus losing his magical powers, and how two little kids help save him before Christmas is abandoned altogether, starring Joey Lauren Adams, Abraham Benrubi and Kevin Pollack, with Kix Brooks serving as Executive Producer.
Shockley and Rikert were then hired to write Hot Bath 'an a Stiff Drink (2015) along with Matthew Gratzner, a western about identical twins separated at birth and their unlikely reunion 30-years later, starring Rex Linn, Ronnie Blevins and Grainger Hines.
In addition to writing and producing, Shockley will appear in two more upcoming films, Reaper (2014), a horror film about a man who survives a prison electric chair, escapes, and then organizes a massive killing spree, starring Danny Trejo, Vinnie Jones and Jake Busey, and Finding Harmony (2015), a tale about a famous country singer separated from his family and how tragedy brings them back together, starring Billy Zane and Allison Eastwood.
Born in Lawrence, Kansas, Shockley was raised in a gypsy lifestyle, moving twenty times in nearly as many years. Settling in Texas, he attended the University of Texas in Austin and graduated from Texas Tech University.
After moving to Los Angeles and landing a slew of episodic and movie-of-the-week roles, Shockley won a lead role in the feature film Howling: Rebirth (1989), then appeared in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990), starring Andrew Dice Clay, Street Asylum (1990), Switch (1991), starring Ellen Barkin, Girl in the Cadillac (1995), starring Erika Elaniak, and The Joyriders (1999), starring Martin Landau and Kris Kristofferson.
Other past films include Last Will (2011), starring Tatum O'Neal and James Brolin, Treasure Raiders (2007), filmed on location in Moscow, Russia, starring David Carradine and Sherilyn Fenn, Madison (2005), starring Jim Caviezel and Bruce Dern, and Suckers (2001), starring Lori Loughlin.
Having first worked with Paul Verhoeven on Robocop (1987), Shockley was cast again by Verhoeven in the controversial film, Showgirls (1995), starring Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon. Shockley played rock star Andrew Carver, described by British Premiere magazine as 'a prince of darkness', and lauded by The New York Times as 'breathtakingly crude.
He also appeared in the Nicholas Kazan film, Dream Lover (1993), starring James Spader and Madchen Amick. Shockley's memorable performance was singled out by Janet Maslin of The New York Times as 'scene stealing'.
In television, Shockley starred opposite Whoopi Goldberg in the CBS sitcom, Bagdad Cafe, and then starred opposite Teri Garr in the critically acclaimed ABC series, Good & Evil.
Jackie Collins cast him back to back in two of her popular NBC mini-series, Lucky Chances with Nicolette Sheridan and Lady Boss with Kim Delaney. Shockley also starred with Janine Turner in the CBS film, Stolen Women, playing General George Custer. Charleston's The Post & Courier wrote, William Shockley threatens to steal this show with a convincing, condemning portrayal of that narcissistic scourge of the plains.'
In addition to producing films, Shockley and Team Two Entertainment have produced three music videos for Kix Brooks, New To This Town, Moonshine Road and Bring It On Home, and Randy Houser Like A Cowboy. Prior to this, Shockley produced music videos for Megan Mullins Long Past Gone, Ash Bowers Stuck and David St. Romaine That's Love.
Aside from acting, Shockley does extensive voice over work in television and radio advertising. He has been the voice on campaigns for Enterprise, Sony, Sprint, Bausch & Lomb, AT&T, Toyota, Siemens, Cisco Systems, Isuzu, Fruit of the Loom and XM Satellite Radio, to name a few.
In the world of on air radio, Shockley hosted 52 weeks of The Road, a syndicated country music program airing in 200 cities. The program featured live country music concert tracks mixed with interviews with the artists. The Road was nominated by Billboard Magazine as Best Syndicated Radio Program.
An endlessly imaginative and compelling actor, Tzi Ma has created a score of memorable film, television and stage characters. From his recent roles as Hinh, a deadly efficient assassin and nationalist spy masquerading as Michael Caine's ever-invaluable assistant in The Quiet American to his hilarious, lit-cigarette-swallowing take as The General in Joel Coen and Ethan Coen's The Ladykillers, Ma always delivers the unexpected.
So far, 2005 is offering Ma even more opportunities to brand his indelible stamp on widely diverse projects. This year will see him in a slate of shows, including a multi-episode cliffhanger for the critically acclaimed hit series 24; the inspirational Lions Gate family drama Akeelah and the Bee; Nick Cassavetes' Alpha Dog; the indie experimental film by new filmmaker Juwan Chung, Baby, in which Ma will also function as associate producer; an episode of JAG that aired in the spring, and the indie movie Red Doors, which premiered at the Fourth Annual Tribeca Film Festival and won for best narrative feature made in New York. Red Doors is the work of writer/director Georgia Lee, who served as director Martin Scorsese's apprentice on the set of Gangs of New York in Rome. She approached Ma to play the part of vulnerable, emotionally bankrupt father Ed Wong, who is desperately trying to mask his incessant suicidal compulsions from his three grown daughters. On the pulse-accelerating season closer for 24, Ma is the main protagonist, the relentless head of security for the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles. Shedding his diplomatic correctness to go eyeball to eyeball against Kiefer Sutherland's Agent Jack Bauer, Ma's character engages in a searing, deadly duel of wit, intimidation and lies. In Baby and Akeelah and the Bee, starring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, Ma again interprets fatherhood, first as an intensely competitive "sports dad" driving his small son to win at any cost, then as an alcoholic who sees his son embracing a similar path of failure and waste. It was a personal invitation from director Cassavetes that led to Ma's cameo in Alpha Dog, based on the headline-grabbing activities of Jesse James Hollywood, an alleged drug dealer accused of masterminding a kidnap-murder.
Tzi Ma was born in Hong Kong and raised in New York City. Surrounded by music, diverse cultures, and an eclectic lifestyle, he defied tradition to study classical theater and dance. Drive and versatility resulted in steady stage and film work and since that time he has appeared in such television series as The Practice, JAG, The Bernie Mac Show, Chicago Hope, Millennium, Jake 2.0, Martial Law, ER, Law & Order, Boomtown, as the star of the series Yellowthread Street, and in the popular recurring role of Det. Harold Ng on NYPD Blue. His numerous feature films include Rush Hour, Golden Gate, Dante's Peak, Rapid Fire, Chain Reaction, and the acclaimed indie feature Catfish in Black Bean Sauce.
On stage, he garnered critical and popular acclaim with his starring role of "Master Wang/Sammy Fong" in the revised version of "Flower Drum Song" by David Henry Hwang, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Ma also appeared in two plays written especially for him, "The Dance and The Railroad," by Tony award-winning playwright Hwang (M. Butterfly) and "In Perpetuity Throughout The Universe" by Eric Ellis Overmyer (executive producer of Law & Order).
Ma has received numerous awards and nominations for his work, including the Cine Golden Eagle Award for Best Actor in "The Dance and The Railroad"; an Ace Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in The Forgotten, a TV film directed by James Keach; a Dramalogue Best"Choreographer/Best Director Award for "The Dance and The Railroad"; and a Garland Award nomination for Best Actor, as well as a Los Angeles City Council Citation, for "Flower Drum Song." Ma maintains homes in New York and Los Angeles.
John Banner, who achieved television immortality for his portrayal of the Luftwaffe POW camp guard Sergeant Schultz in the TV series Hogan's Heroes. He was born on January 28, 1910 in Vienna. Vienna was the capital of what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The 28-year-old Banner, who was Jewish, was forced to abandon his homeland after the 1938 Anschluss (union) between Nazi Germany and Austria. This happened to occur while he was engaged in a tour of Switzerland with an acting company. Unable to return to Austria due to Hitler's anti-Semitic policies of persecution. He emigrated to the United States as a political refugee.
Soon after reaching the United States. Banner, who was completely ignorant of the English language, was hired to emcee a musical revue. He had to learn his lines phonetically. But the total immersion paid off in that he rapidly picked up English. His accent and "Nordic" look ironically meant that he was typecast in several films as Nazis during the 1940s. He survived the war playing the same villains who were murdering the members of his family, who had been left behind in Austria. All of whom, perished in concentration camps.
The Banner who had emigrated to the US weighed a trim 180 lbs.. He eventually added another 100 lbs. to become the roly-poly character actor, that America would come to know and love. The 280-lb. Banner became a character actor who appeared regularly in movies and on TV. He specialized in foreign-official types, such the Soviet Ambassador in the Fred MacMurray comedy Kisses for My President.
In 1965, Bing Crosby Productions cast Banner as Sgt. Schultz in the wartime sitcom Hogan's Heroes. Hogan's Heroes was a take-off on Billy Wilder's Stalag 17, but with more humor and less drama. The bumbling Dutch uncle that Sgt. Schultz portrayed was a continent apart from the wickedly evil Nazis he specialized in during the war. Spectacularly inept as a guard of Allied prisoners of war, Sgt. Schultz was prone to ignoring the irregularities that transpired in the fictive Stalag 13, bellowing "I know nothing! I see nothing! Nothing!!!"
John Banner enjoyed the role but demurred when accused of portraying a "cuddly" Nazi. He told TV Guide, "I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in every generation."
Banner, and Werner Klemperer, ["Colonel Klink"] (who like Banner was a Jewish refugee from Hitler both of whom played comical, bumbling Nazi's in "Hogan's Heroes"), co-starred with Bob Crane ["Colonel Hogan"] in The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz. A bizarre movie "comedy" about a defecting East German athlete. The picture bombed and the trio went back to turning out the highly popular series without losing too much pride or momentum.
After the cancellation of "Hogan's Heroes" in 1971, Banner was signed for another TV show set in the past. The Chicago Teddy Bears, which used the Prohibition era as its setting. Banner's Uncle Latzi was a close cousin of Schultz, but lightning did not strike twice and the series was canceled after 13 episodes.
John Banner died on his 63rd birthday, January 28, 1973, in his hometown of Vienna. He lives on as the inimitable Sgt. Schultz to the legions of "Hogan's Heroes" fans who now span the generations.
Stocky tough-guy character actor Richard Jaeckel remains one of Hollywood's most prolific supporting stars. Born in Long Island, New York, on October 10, 1926, Jaeckel's family moved to Los Angeles when he was still in his teens. After graduation from Hollywood High School, Jaeckel was discovered by a casting director while working as a mailboy for 20th Century-Fox. Although he had some reluctance to act, Jaeckel accepted a key part in the war epic Guadalcanal Diary and remained in films for over 50 years, graduating from playing baby-faced teenagers (like Dick Clark, Jaeckel never seemed to age) to gunfighters and hired killers with ease. From 1944-48 he served in the US Navy, and after his discharge he co-starred in Sands of Iwo Jima with John Wayne. Jaeckel's other notable roles in films include one of a trio of GIs accused of raping a German girl in Town Without Pity--a standout performance--and The Dirty Dozen as tough MP Sgt. Clyde Bowren, who goes along on the mission to keep an eye on the prisoners he's trained, a role he reprised in a made-for-TV sequel in 1985. Jaeckel also received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his funny but tragic performance in Sometimes a Great Notion. Although he appeared in over 70 films, he was very active in television series such as Frontier Circus, Banyon, Firehouse, Salvage 1, At Ease, Spenser: For Hire and Supercarrier. From 1991-94 he played Lt. Ben Edwards on the hit series Baywatch. He passed away after a three-year battle with melanoma cancer on June 14, 1997, at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. Jaeckel was 70 years old.
Milos Forman was born Jan Tomas Forman in Caslav, Czechoslovakia, to Anna (Svabova), who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. During World War II, his parents were taken away by the Nazis, after being accused of participating in the underground resistance. His father died in Buchenwald and his mother died in Auschwitz, and Milos became an orphan very early on. He studied screen-writing at the Prague Film Academy (F.A.M.U.). In his Czechoslovakian films, Black Peter, The Loves of a Blonde, and The Firemen's Ball, he created his own style of comedy. During the invasion of his country by the troops of the Warsaw pact in the summer of 1968 to stop the Prague spring, he left Europe for the United States. In spite of difficulties, he filmed Taking Off there and achieved his fame later with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest adapted from the novel of Ken Kesey, which won five Oscars including one for direction. Other important films of Milos Forman were the musical Hair and his biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Amadeus, which won eight Oscars.
Klaus Kinski was born Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski in Zoppot, Free City of Danzig (now Sopot, Poland), to Susanne (Lutze), a nurse, and Bruno Nakszynski, a pharmacist. He grew up in Berlin, was drafted into the German army in 1944 and captured by British forces in Holland. After the war he began acting on the stage, quickly gaining a reputation for his ferocious talent and equally ferocious temper. He started acting in films shortly afterwards, showing an utter disregard for the quality of the productions he appeared in and churning out so many that a complete filmography is almost impossible to assemble. However, he did turn out memorable work for director Werner Herzog, a similarly driven and obsessive character. Herzog and Kinski pushed each other to extremes over a 15-year working relationship, which finally ended after filming Cobra Verde, a production plagued by volcanic clashes between the star and director, involving--among other things--violent physical altercations and mutual death threats. Kinski subsequently directed and starred in the notorious Paganini, his only film as director and which was marked by (again) clashes between Kinski and his producers, who accused him of turning their movie into a pornographic film and sued him in court. His autobiography "All I Need is Love", one of the most vicious attacks on the film business ever written, was withdrawn for legal reasons and subsequently re-released as "Kinski Uncut" in the US & UK, "Ich brauche Liebe" in Germany, and in various other languages.
John Kavanagh is one of Ireland's underrated character actors. Little detail is given on him, yet he has appeared in many well-known films and television series alongside a variety of actors.
Kavanagh began his career with the Irish comedy, Paddy, where he played the small role of "Willie Egan". That same year, he played another small role in the World War II film, The McKenzie Break, which is about a P.O.W. camp, in Scotland, whose prisoners are preparing an escape.
The next twelve years brought Kavanagh no new films, though he continued to act on stage. Finally, he decided to return to screen acting with the theatrical film, The Ballroom of Romance, which put him in a romance with accomplished actress Brenda Fricker. The film was followed up with the small film, Attracta, and the made-for-television movie, The Country Girls, starring Sam Neill.
Kavanagh's next theatrical film was one of the most famous films of his career: the Irish film Cal, starring Helen Mirren and John Lynch. The film was about a young member of the IRA (Lynch) who is seeking to get out of the organization. He meets the widow of one of the IRA's victims (Mirren) and begin a love affair.
Moving on from this film, Kavanagh acted in a number of films and television series. He participated in the action film, The Joyriders, the crime drama, Bellman and True, the independent film, In the Border Country, and the thriller, The Fantasist, among others. Kavanagh's career picked up considerably in the mid-nineties. He acted alongside such classic actors as Mia Farrow and Jim Broadbent in the John Irvin film, Widows' Peak. Kavanagh then guest-starred in the Sharpe series (starring Sean Bean and Hugh Fraser), where he played the holy man "Father Michael Curtis". That same year, he acted in the most talked about epic of its time; Mel Gibson's Braveheart. Starring Gibson, Angus Macfadyen and Brendan Gleeson, Kavangh acted as one of the nobles who routinely changed sides from Scotland to England in the Scottish wars of independence. The film won Best Picture and Best Director, and was a smash hit. After this fantastic success, Kavanagh acted in Some Mother's Son, a prison film which was written by Jim Sheridan, and reunited with Brenda Fricker in Pete's Meteor. He continued to act in other films throughout the nineties and, as the new millennium dawned, Kavanagh continued on to new projects. After a number of smaller films, Kavanagh acted in another historical epic; the mighty Oliver Stone film, Alexander, starring Colin Farrell, Val Kilmer and Anthony Hopkins. Kavanagh played the role of "Parmenion", the old general who questions Alexander's actions. After a plot to kill the young leader is foiled, Parmenion is accused of being the mastermind behind it and is murdered. While the film was a triumph overseas, its domestic budget was a fraction of the budget, and received negative reviews for a number of different reasons. After this, Kavanagh acted in Brian De Palma's murder film, The Black Dahlia, which failed at the box office.
Kavanagh has rebounded with the successful television series, The Tudors. Starring fellow Alexander cast member Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the series plays out the story of England's turmoil in the time of Henry the Eighth and his life as he breaks from the Catholic Church.
Michael Cimino studied architecture and dramatic arts; later he filmed advertisements and documentaries and also wrote scripts until the actor, producer and director Clint Eastwood gave him the opportunity to direct the thriller Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. But his biggest success was The Deer Hunter which won the Oscar for best film. For another successful film, The Sicilian, he got into trouble with critics when they accused him of portraying as a hero the Italian criminal Salvatore Giuliano.
Born Spangler Arlington Brugh, Robert Taylor began displaying a diversity of talents in his youth on the plains of Nebraska. At Beatrice High School, he was a standout track athlete, but also showed a talent for using his voice, winning several oratory awards. He was a musician and played the cello in the school orchestra. After graduating he thought of music as a vocation and started studying music at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. In the early 1930s he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and study medicine. He enrolled at Pomona College but also joined the campus theater group and found himself in many lead roles because of his handsome features. He was inspired to go on to the Neely Dixon Dramatic School, but about a year after graduating from Pomona, he was spotted by an MGM talent scout and given a contract in 1934. That same year he appeared in his first movie, on loan-out to Fox for a Will Rogers entry, Handy Andy. He also did an MGM short, Buried Loot for its "Crime Does Not Pay" series, that provided good exposure. However, the next year he did even better by being cast as the lead -- again on loan out, this time to then-struggling Universal Pictures -- in Magnificent Obsession with Irene Dunne. The story of a happy-go-lucky party guy who inadvertently causes blindness to the young lady he wishes to impress and then becomes a doctor to cure her. The movie was a big hit, and Taylor had a taste of instant box-office stardom. Along with his good looks, Taylor already showed solid dramatic skill. However, critics viewed of him as a no-talent flash-in-the-pan getting by on his looks (a charge levied at his closest contemporary comparison, Tyrone Power over at Fox). He had to endure some brutal reviews through his first years in Hollywood, but they would soon fade away. In 1935 alone, he appeared in seven films, and by the end of the year, he was at the top of his form as a leading man and being offered substantial scripts. The next year he appeared with Greta Garbo in Camille, and for the remainder of the decade MGM's vehicles for him - not to mention a pantheon of top actresses - clicked with audiences. On a personal level, despite his impressive family background and education, Taylor would often strike those who met him as a mental lightweight -- intellectually-inclined actress Luise Rainer was shocked when she struck up a conversation with him at a studio function in 1937, when, after asking him what his goals were, he sincerely replied that his most important goal was to accumulate "a wardrobe of ten fine custom-tailored suits." That he usually comes across on screen as having a confident, commanding presence is more of a testimony to his acting talent than his actual personality. He held rigid right-wing political beliefs that he refused to question and when confronted with an opposing viewpoint, would simply reject it outright. He rarely, if ever, felt the need to be introspective. Taylor simply felt blessed to be working behind the walls of MGM. His affection for the studio would blind him to the fact that boss Louis B. Mayer masterfully manipulated him for nearly two decades, keeping Taylor's salary the lowest of any major Hollywood star. But this is also indicative of how much trust he placed at the hands of the studio's leaders. Indeed, Taylor remained the erstwhile MGM company man and would be rewarded by remaining employed there until the demise of the studio system in the late 1950s, outlasting its legend, Clark Gable. Though not quite considered treasures to be locked away in film vaults, Taylor's films during the first five years of his career gave him the opportunity to explore a wide spectrum of romantic characters, playing young officers or doctors more than once. Some noticeable examples of the variety of roles he took over a year's time were his chip-on-the-shoulder Lee Sheridan in A Yank at Oxford, ladies' man/boxer Tommy McCoy in The Crowd Roars and cynical southern gentleman Blake Cantrell in Stand Up and Fight. Taylor would truly become a first-rate actor in the following decade. By the 1940s, he was playing edgier and somewhat darker characters, such as the title roles in Billy the Kid and smooth criminal Johnny Eager. With the arrival of the war, Taylor was quick to make his contribution to the effort. As an actor, he made two memorable combat movies: Stand by for Action and the better known (and for the time, quite graphic) Bataan. From 1943 to 1946, he was in the US Naval Air Corps as a lieutenant, instructing would be pilots. He also found time to direct two flight instruction training films (1943) and other training films for the Navy. Rather didactic in his ultra-conservative political beliefs, he became involved in 1947 as a "friendly witness" for the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating "Communist subversion" in the film industry. Anyone who knew Taylor knew he was an arch conservative, but doubt if he could articulate why. He publicly stated that his accepting a role in Song of Russia was bad judgment (as, in reality, it was against his nature to balk at any film assignment while at MGM) and that he considered the film "pro-Communist." He also -- rather unwittingly -- fingered fellow actor Howard Da Silva as a disruptive force in the Screen Actors Guild. Although he didn't explicitly accuse Da Silva of being a Communist, his charges of "disruption" had the same effect, and the veteran actor found himself blacklisted by the studios for many years. After the war and through the remainder of the decade, Taylor was getting action roles to match his healthy box office draw, but there were fewer of them being offered. He was aging, and though he had one of his best known roles as the faith-challenged Gen. Marcus Vinicius in the monster hit Quo Vadis, he was now being seen more as a mature lead. MGM, now under the aegis of Dore Schary, made a decisive move to move a significant amount of production to England to cut costs and opted to film several big-budget costume epics there starring Taylor. With Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, he was back (as once before in 1949) with the dazzling young Elizabeth Taylor pining for him as the exotic young Jewish woman, Rebecca, effectively pulling off a role ideally suited for an actor a decade younger. With a great script and lots of action (forget about the mismatch of some matte backdrops!), the movie was a smash hit. He had a new look -- rakish goatee and longer hair -- that fit the youthful illusion. The movie did so well that MGM opted for a follow-up film based on the King Arthur legend, Knights of the Round Table. It was not quite as good, but Taylor had the same look -- and it worked. To his credit, Taylor continued to push for challenging roles in his dramatic output -- the old "pretty face" stigma still seemed to drive him. He played an intriguing and most unlikely character in Devil's Doorway -- an American Indian (dark-stained skin with blue eyes!) who won a Medal of Honor for heroism in the Civil War and came home to his considerable land holdings but still encounters the continued racial bigotry and envy of his white neighbors. It contained pushing-the-envelope dialog with many thought-provoking scenes dealing with the social plight of the Indian. Taylor did several noteworthy pictures after this film: the edgy Rogue Cop and was even more swashbuckling in one of the lesser known of Sir Walter Scott's romantic novels, Quentin Durward -- and again successful in a younger man role. Though his contract with MGM expired in 1958, he accepted a few more films into the 1960s. He put on some weight in his 50s and the effects of heavy chain smoking began to effect his looks, but Taylor successfully alternated between starring film roles and television, albeit at a somewhat reduced pace. He founded his own Robert Taylor Productions in 1958 and moved comfortably into TV work. From 1959 to 1962, he was the star of TV series The Detectives, and when Ronald Reagan bowed out of TV's popular western anthology Death Valley Days for a political career, Taylor took over as host and sometime actor (1966-1968) until his death from lung cancer at only age 57.
|Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Above all, Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a rebel whose life and art was marked by gross contradiction. Openly homosexual, he married twice; one of his wives acted in his films and the other served as his editor. Accused variously by detractors of being anticommunist, male chauvinist, antiSemitic and even antigay, he completed 44 projects between 1966 and 1982, the majority of which can be characterized as highly intelligent social melodramas. His prodigious output was matched by a wild, self-destructive libertinage that earned him a reputation as the enfant terrible of the New German Cinema (as well as its central figure.) Known for his trademark leather jacket and grungy appearance, Fassbinder cruised the bar scene by night, looking for sex and drugs, yet he maintained a flawless work ethic by day. Actors and actresses recount disturbing stories of his brutality toward them, yet his pictures demonstrate his deep sensitivity to social misfits and his hatred of institutionalized violence. Some find his cinema needlessly controversial and avant-garde; others accuse him of surrendering to the Hollywood ethos. It is best said that he drew forth strong emotional reactions from all he encountered, both in his personal and professional lives, and this provocative nature can be experienced posthumously through reviewing his artistic legacy.
Fassbinder was born into a bourgeois Bavarian family in 1946. His father was a doctor and his mother a translator. In order to have time for her work, his mother frequently sent him the movies, a practice that gave birth to his obsession with the medium. Later in life, he would claim that he saw a film nearly every day and sometimes as many as three or four. At the age of 15, Fassbinder defiantly declared his homosexuality, soon after which he left school and took a job. He studied theater in the mid-sixties at the Fridl-Leonhard Studio in Munich and joined the Action Theater (aka, Anti-Theater) in 1967. Unlike the other major auteurs of the New German Cinema (e.g., Schlöndorff, Herzog and Wenders) who started out making movies, Fassbinder acquired an extensive stage background that is evident throughout his work. Additionally, he learned how to handle all phases of production, from writing and acting to direction and theater management. This versatility later surfaced in his films where, in addition to some of the aforementioned responsibilities, Fassbinder served as composer, production designer, cinematographer, producer and editor. [So boundless was his energy, in fact, that he appeared in 30 projects of other directors.] In his theater years, he also developed a repertory company that included his mother, two of his wives and various male and female lovers. Coupled with his ability to serve in nearly any crew capacity, this gave him the ability to produce his films quickly and on extremely low budgets.
Success was not immediate for Fassbinder. His first feature length film, a gangster movie called Love Is Colder Than Death was greeted by catcalls at the Berlin Film Festival. His next piece, Katzelmacher, was a minor critical success, garnering five prizes after its debut at Mannheim. It featured Jorgos, an emigrant from Greece, who encounters violent xenophobic slackers in moving into an all-German neighborhood. This kind of social criticism, featuring alienated characters unable to escape the forces of oppression, is a constant throughout Fassbinder's diverse oeuvre. In subsequent years, he made such controversial films about human savagery such as Pioneers in Ingolstadt and Whity before scoring his first domestic commercial success with The Merchant of Four Seasons. This moving portrait of a street vendor crushed by the betrayal and his own futility is considered a masterpiece, as is his first international success Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fear Eats the Soul). With a wider audience for his efforts, however, some critics contend that Fassbinder began to sell out with big budget projects such as Despair, Lili Marleen and Lola. In retrospect, however, it seems that the added fame simply enabled Fassbinder to explore various kinds of filmmaking, including such "private" works as In a Year with 13 Moons and The Third Generation, two films about individual experience and feelings. His greatest success came with The Marriage of Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun), chronicling the rise and fall of a German woman in the wake of World War II. Other notable movies include The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Fox and His Friends, Satan's Brew and Querelle, all focused on gay and lesbian themes and frequently with a strongly pornographic edge.
His death is a perfect picture of the man and his legend. On the night of June 10, 1982, Fassbinder took an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills. When he was found, the unfinished script for a version of Rosa Luxemburg was lying next to him. So boundless was his drive and creativity that, throughout his downward spiral and even in the moment of his death, Fassbinder never ceased to be productive.
Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1892, but three years later his family was forced to flee the country because his father was accused by the Boers of being a British spy at a time when Dutch-British conflicts were leading to the Boer War. The Rathbones escaped to England, where Basil and his two younger siblings, Beatrice and John, were raised. Their mother, Anna Barbara (George), was a violinist, who was born in Grahamstown, South Africa, of British parents, and their father, Edgar Philip Rathbone, was a mining engineer born in Liverpool. From 1906 to 1910 Rathbone attended Repton School, where he was more interested in sports--especially fencing, at which he excelled--than studies, but where he also discovered his interest in the theater. After graduation he planned to pursue acting as a profession, but his father disapproved and suggested that his son try working in business for a year, hoping he would forget about acting. Rathbone accepted his father's suggestion and worked as a clerk for an insurance company--for exactly one year. Then he contacted his cousin Frank Benson, an actor managing a Shakespearean troupe in Stratford-on-Avon.
Rathbone was hired as an actor on the condition that he work his way through the ranks, which he did quite rapidly. Starting in bit parts in 1911, he was playing juvenile leads within two years. In 1915 his career was interrupted by the First World War. During his military service, as a second lieutenant in the Liverpool Scottish 2nd Battalion, he worked in intelligence and received the Military Cross for bravery. In 1919, released from military service, he returned to Stratford-on-Avon and continued with Shakespeare but after a year moved onto the London stage. The year after that he made his first appearance on Broadway and his film debut in the silent Innocent.
For the remainder of the decade Rathbone alternated between the London and New York stages and occasional appearances in films. In 1929 he co-wrote and starred as the title character in a short-running Broadway play called "Judas". Soon afterwards he abandoned his first love, the theater, for a film career. During the 1920s his roles had evolved from the romantic lead to the suave lady-killer to the sinister villain (usually wielding a sword), and Hollywood put him to good use during the 1930s in numerous costume romps, including Captain Blood, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Anna Karenina, The Last Days of Pompeii, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Tower of London, The Mark of Zorro and others. Rathbone earned two Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet and as King Louis XI in If I Were King.
However, it was in 1939 that Rathbone played his best-known and most popular character, Sherlock Holmes, with Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, first in The Hound of the Baskervilles and then in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which were followed by 12 more films and numerous radio broadcasts over the next seven years.
Feeling that his identification with the character was killing his film career, Rathbone went back to New York and the stage in 1946. The next year he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Dr. Sloper in the Broadway play "The Heiress," but afterwards found little rewarding stage work. Nevertheless, during the last two decades of his life, Rathbone was a very busy actor, appearing on numerous television shows, primarily drama, variety and game shows; in occasional films, such as Casanova's Big Night, The Court Jester, Tales of Terror and The Comedy of Terrors; and in his own one-man show, "An Evening with Basil Rathbone", with which he toured the U.S.
Sir Dirk Bogarde, distinguished film actor and writer, was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde on March 28, 1921, to Ulric van den Bogaerde, the art editor of "The Times" (London) newspaper, and actress Margaret Niven in the London suburb of Hampstead. He was one of three children, with sister Elizabeth and younger brother Gareth. His father was Flemish and his mother was of Scottish descent.
Ulric Bogaerde started the Times' arts department and served as its first art editor. Derek's mother, Margaret - the daughter of actor and painter Forrest Niven - appeared in the play "Bunty Pulls The Strings", but she quit the boards in accordance with her husband's wishes. The young Derek Bogaerde was raised at the family home in Sussex by his sister, Elizabeth, and his nanny, Lally.
Educated at the Allen Glen's School in Glasgow, he also attended London's University College School before majoring in commercial art at Chelsea Polytechnic, where his teachers included Henry Moore. Though his father wanted his eldest son to follow him into the "Times" as an art critic and had groomed him for that role, Derek dropped out of his commercial art course and became a drama student, though his acting talent at that time was unpromising. In the 1930s he went to work as a commercial artist and a scene designer.
He apprenticed as an actor with the Amersham Repertory Company, and made his acting debut in 1939 on a small London stage, the Q Theatre, in a role in which he delivered only one line. His debut in London's West End came a few months later in J.B. Priestley's play "Cornelius," in which he was billed as "Derek Bogaerde". He made his uncredited debut as an extra in the pre-war George Formby comedy Come on George!.
The September 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union triggered World War II, and in 1940 Bogarde joined the Queen's Royal Regiment as an officer. He served in the Air Photographic Intelligence Unit and eventually attained the rank of major. Nicknamed "Pippin" and "Pip" during the war, he was awarded seven medals in his five years of active duty. He wrote poems and painted during the war, and in 1943, a small magazine published one of his poems, "Steel Cathedrals," which subsequently was anthologized. His paintings of the war are part of the Imperial War Museum's collection.
Similar to his character, Captain Hargreaves, in King & Country, he was called upon to put a wounded soldier out of his misery, a tale recounted in one of his seven volumes of autobiography. While serving with the Air Photographic Intelligence Unit, he took part in the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which he said was akin to "looking into Dante's Inferno".
In one of his autobiographies, he wrote, "At 24, the age I was then, deep shock stays registered forever. An internal tattooing which is removable only by surgery, it cannot be conveniently sponged away by time."
After being demobilized, he returned to acting. His agent re-christened him "Dirk Bogarde," a name that he would make famous within a decade. In 1947 he appeared in "Power Without Glory" at the New Lindsay Theatre, a performance that was praised by Noël Coward, who urged him to continue his acting career. The Rank Organization had signed him to a contract after a talent scout saw him in the play, and he made his credited movie debut in Dancing with Crime with a one-line bit as a policeman.
His first lead in a movie came that year when Wessex Films, distributed by Rank, gave him a part in the proposed Stewart Granger film Sin of Esther Waters. When Granger dropped out, Bogarde took over the lead. Rank subsequently signed him to a long-term contract and he appeared in a variety of parts during the 14 years he was under contract to the studio.
For three years he toiled in Rank movies as an apprentice actor without making much of a ripple; then in 1950, he was given the role of young hood Tom Riley in the crime thriller The Blue Lamp (the title comes from the blue-colored light on police call-boxes in London), the most successful British film of 1950, which established Bogarde as an actor of note. Playing a cop killer, an unspeakable crime in the England of the time, it was the first of the intense neurotics and attractive villains that Bogarde would often play.
He continued to act on-stage, appearing in the West End in Jean Anouilh's "Point of Departure". While he was praised for his performance, stage acting made him nervous, and as he became more famous, he began to be mobbed by fans. The pressure of the public adulation proved overwhelming, particularly as he suffered from stage fright. He was accosted by crowds of fans at the stage door during the 1955 touring production of "Summertime," and his more enthusiastic admirers even shouted at him during the play. He was to appear in only one more play, the Oxford Playhouse production of "Jezebel," in 1958. He never again took to the boards, despite receiving attractive offers.
He first acted for American expatriate director Joseph Losey in The Sleeping Tiger. Losey, a Communist and self-described Stalinist at the time, had emigrated to England after being blacklisted in Hollywood after he refused to direct The Woman on Pier 13 at RKO Pictures, which was owned by right-wing multi-millionaire Howard Hughes at the time, and he was accused in testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee of being a Communist. The director, like Bogarde, would not find his stride until the early 1960s, and Losey and Bogarde would build their reputations together.
First, however, Losey had to overcome Bogarde's reluctance to star in a low-budget film (shot for $300,000) with a blacklisted American director. Losey, who had never heard of Bogarde until he was proposed for the film, met with him and asked Bogarde to view one of his pictures. After seeing the film, Bogarde was enthusiastic, and Losey talked him into taking the role, which he accepted at a reduced fee (Losey originally was not credited with directing the film due to his being blacklisted in the States). A decade later they would make more memorable films that would be watersheds in their careers.
It was not drama but comedy that made Dirk Bogarde a star. He achieved the first rank of English movie stardom playing Dr. Simon Sparrow in the comedy Doctor in the House. The film was a smash hit, becoming one of the most popular British films in history, with 17 million admissions in its first year of release. As Sparrow, Bogarde became a heartthrob and the most popular British movie star of the mid-50s. He reprised the character in Doctor at Sea, Doctor at Large.
The title of the latter film may have described his mood as a serious actor having to do another turn as Dr. Sparrow between his career-making performances in Losey's The Servant, with a script by Harold Pinter, and Losey's adaptation of the stage play King & Country, in which Bogarde memorably played the attorney for a young deserter (played by Tom Courtenay).
Bogarde, hailed as "the idol of the Odeons" in honor of his box-office clout, was offered the role of Jimmy Porter in _Look Back in Anger (1958/I)_ by producer Harry Saltzman and director Tony Richardson, based on the play that touched off the "Angry Young Man" and "Kitchen Sink School" of contemporary English drama in the 1950s. Though Bogarde wanted to take the part, Rank refused to let him make the film on the grounds that there was "altogether too much dialog." The part went to Richard Burton instead, who went over-the-top in portraying his very angry, not-so-young man.
After this disappointment, Bogarde went to Hollywood to play Franz Liszt in Song Without End and to appear in Nunnally Johnson's Spanish Civil War drama The Angel Wore Red with Ava Gardner. Both were big-budgeted films, but hampered by poor scripts, and after both films failed, Bogarde avoided Hollywood from then on.
He was reportedly quite smitten with his French "Song Without End" co-star Capucine, and wanted to marry her. Capucine, who suffered from bi-polar disorder, was bisexual with an admitted preference for women. The relationship did not lead to marriage, but did result in a long-term friendship. It apparently was his only serious relationship with a woman, though he had many women friends, including his I Could Go on Singing co-star Judy Garland.
In the early 1960s, with the expiration of his Rank contract, Bogarde made the decision to abandon his hugely successful career in commercial movies and concentrate on more complex, art house films (at the same time, Burt Lancaster made a similar decision, though Lancaster continued to alternate his artistic ventures with more crassly commercial endeavors). Bogarde appeared in Basil Dearden's seminal film Victim, the first British movie to sympathetically address the persecution of homosexuals. His career choice alienated many of his old fans, but he was no longer interested in being a commercial movie star; he, like Lancaster, was interested in developing as an actor and artist (however, that sense of finding himself as an actor did not extend to the stage. His reputation was such in 1963 that he was invited by National Theatre director Laurence Olivier to appear as Hamlet to open the newly built Chichester Festival Theatre. That production of the eponymous play also was intended to open the National Theatre's first season in London. Bogarde declined, and the honor went instead to Peter O'Toole, who floundered in the part.)
Jack Grimston, in Bogarde's "Sunday Times" obituary of May 9, 1999, entitled "Bogarde, a solitary star at the edge of the spotlight," said of the late actor that he "belonged to a group that was rare in the British cinema. He was a fine screen player who owed little to the stage. Dilys Powell, the Sunday Times film critic, wrote of him before her own death: 'Most of our gifted film players really belonged to the theater. Bogarde belonged to the screen.'" Bogarde had won the London Critics Circle's Dilys Powell award for outstanding contribution to cinema in 1992.
Appearing in "Victim" was a huge career gamble. In the film, Bogarde played a married barrister who is being blackmailed over his closeted homosexuality. Rather than let the blackmail continue, and allow the perpetrators to victimize other gay men, Bogarde's character effectively sacrifices himself, specifically his marriage and his career, by bravely confessing to be gay (homosexuality was an offence in the United Kingdom until 1967, and there reportedly had been a police crackdown against homosexuals after World War II which made gay men particularly vulnerable to blackmail).
The film was not released in mainstream theaters in the US, as the Production Code Administration (PCA) refused to classify the film and most theaters would not show films that did not carry the PCA seal of approval. "Victim" was the antithesis of the light comedy of Bogarde's "Doctor" movies, and many fans of his character Simon Sparrow were forever alienated by his portrayal of a homosexual. For himself, Bogarde was proud of the film and his participation in it, which many think stimulated public debate over homosexuality. The film undoubtedly raised the public consciousness over the egregious and unjust individual costs of anti-gay bigotry. The public attitude towards the "love that dared not speak its name" changed enough so that within six years, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act decriminalizing homosexual acts between adults passed Parliament. Bogarde reported that he received many letters praising him for playing the role. His courage in taking on such a role is even more significant in that he most likely was gay himself, and thus exposed himself to a backlash.
Bogarde always publicly denied he was a homosexual, though later in life he did confess that he and his manager, Anthony Forwood, had a long-term relationship. When Bogarde met him in 1939, Forwood was a theatrical manager, who eventually married and divorced Glynis Johns. Forwood became Bogarde's friend and subsequently his life partner, and the two moved to France together in 1968. They bought a 15th-century farmhouse near Grasse in Provence in the early 1970s, which they restored. Bogarde and Forwood lived in the house until 1983, when they returned to London so that Forwood could be treated for cancer, from which he eventually died in 1988. Bogarde nursed him in the last few months of his life. After Forwood died, Bogarde was left rudderless and he became more reclusive, eventually retiring from films after Daddy Nostalgia.
Mark Rowe and Jeremy Kay, in their obituary of Bogarde, "Two brilliant lives - on film and in print," published in "The Independent" on May, 9, 1999, wrote, "Although he documented with frankness his early sexual encounters with girls and later his adoring love for Kay Kendall and Judy Garland, he never wrote about his longest and closest relationship - with his friend and manager for more than 50 years, Tony Forwood. Sir Dirk said the clues to his private life were in his books. 'If you've got your wits about you, you will know who I am'." The British documentary _"Arena" [The Private Dirk Bogarde] (2001)_ made with the permission of his family, stressed the fact that he and Forwood were committed lifelong partners.
In the same issue, the National Film Theatre's David Thompson, in the article "The public understood he was essentially gay," wrote about Bogarde at his high-water mark in the 1950s, that "Audiences of that time loved him . . . Very few people picked up on the fact that there was a distinct gay undertone. It says something about British audiences of the time. He had the good fortune to break out of that prison, and it came through the film Victim, where he played a gay character, and through meeting with Joseph Losey, who directed him in The Servant. For the first time, Bogarde's ambivalence was exploited and used by film."
Bogarde's sexuality is not the issue; what was striking was that it was an act of personal courage for one of Britian's leading box-office attractions to appear in such a provocative and controversial film. Even in the 21st century, many mainstream actors are afraid to play a gay character lest they engender a public backlash against themselves, which is much less likely than it was more than 40 years ago when Bogarde made "Victim."
Apart from sociology, "Victim" marks the milestone in which critics and audiences could discern the metamorphosis of Bogarde into the mature actor who went on to become one of the cinema's finest performers. Most of Bogarde's best and most serious roles come after "Victim," the film in which he first stretched himself and broke out of the mold of "movie star." He received the first of his six nominations as Best Actor from the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) for the film.
Bogarde co-starred with John Mills in The Singer Not the Song, and with Alec Guinness in Damn the Defiant! (a.k.a. "Damn the Defiant!"). In 1963 he reunited with Losey to film the first of two Losey films with screenplays by Pinter. Bogarde's participation in the two Losey/Pinter collaborations, The Servant and Accident, in addition to 1964's "King & Country", solidified his reputation. Critics and savvy moviegoers appreciated the fact that Bogarde had developed into a first-rate actor. For his role as the eponymous servant, Bogarde won BAFTA's Best Actor Award. He had now "officially" arrived in the inner circle of the best British film actors.
These three films also elevated Losey into the ranks of major directors (Bogarde also starred in Losey's 1966 spy spoof Modesty Blaise, but that film did little to enhance either man's reputation. He turned down the opportunity to appear in Losey's The Assassination of Trotsky due to the poor quality of the script).
Philip French, in his obituary "Dark, exotic and yet essentially English", published in "The Observer" on May 9, 1999, said of Bogarde, "Losey discovered something more complex and sinister in his English persona and his performance as Barrett, the malevolent valet in 'The Servant,' scripted by Harold Pinter, is possibly the most subtle, revealing thing he ever did - by confronting his homosexuality in a non-gay context."
Losey told interviewer Michel Ciment that his work with Bogarde represented a turning point in the actor's career, when he developed into an actor of depth and power. He also frankly admitted to Ciment that without Bogarde, his career would have stagnated and never reached the heights of success and critical acclaim that it did in the 1960s.
Interestingly during the filming of "The Servant." Losey was hospitalized with pneumonia. He asked Bogarde to direct the film in order to keep shooting so that the producers would not cancel the film. A reluctant Bogarde complied with Losey's wishes and directed for ten days. He later said that he would never direct again.
Bogarde co-starred with up-and-coming actress Julie Christie in John Schlesinger's Darling, for which Christie won a Best Actress Oscar and was vaulted into 1960s cinema superstardom. During the filming of the movie, both Bogarde and Christie were waiting to hear whether they would be cast as Yuri Zhivago and his lover Lara in David Lean's upcoming blockbuster Doctor Zhivago. Christie got the call, Bogarde didn't, but he was well along in the process of establishing himself as one of the screen's best and most important actors. He won his second BAFTA Best Actor Award for his performance in "Darling."
Bogarde went on to major starring roles in such important pictures as The Fixer, for which 'Alan Bates (I)' won a Best Actor Academy Award nomination. While Bogarde never was nominated for an Oscar, he had the honor of starring in two films for Luchino Visconti, The Damned ("The Damned") and Death in Venice, based on Thomas Mann's novella "Death in Venice." Bogarde felt that his performance as Gustav von Aschenbach, the dying composer in love with a young boy and with the concept of beauty, in "Death in Venice" was the "the peak and end of my career . . . I can never hope to give a better performance in a better film."
Visconti told Bogarde that when the lights went up in a Los Angeles screening room after a showing of "Death in Venice" for American studio executives, no one said anything. The silence encouraged Visconti, who believed it meant that the executives were undergoing a catharsis after watching his masterpiece. However, he soon realized that, in Bogarde's own words, "Apparently they were stunned into horrified silence . . . A group of slumped nylon-suited men stared dully at the blank screen." One nervous executive, feeling something should be said, got up and asked, "Signore Visconti, who was responsible for the score of the film?"
"Gustav Mahler," Visconti replied.
"Just great!", said the nervous man. "I think we should sign him."
After "Venice", Bogarde made only seven films over the next two decades and was scathing about the quality of the scripts he was offered. To express himself artistically, he began to write. In his third volumes of autobiography, he wrote, "No longer do the great Jewish dynasties hold power: the people who were, when all is said and done, the Picture People. Now the cinema is controlled by vast firms like Xerox, Gulf & Western, and many others who deal in anything from sanitary-ware to property development. These huge conglomerates, faceless, soulless, are concerned only with making a profit; never a work of art . . . "
He rued the fact that "it is pointless to be 'superb' in a commercial failure; and most of the films which I had deliberately chosen to make in the last few years were, by and large, just that. Or so I am always informed by the businessmen. The critics may have liked them extravagantly, but the distributors shy away from what they term 'A Critic's Film', for it often means that the public will stay away. Which, in the mass, they do: and if you don't make money at the box-office you are not asked back to play again."
However, the courageous artist was not to be daunted: "But I'd had very good innings. Better than most. So what the hell?" His well-written works were enthusiastically received by critics and the book-buying public.
Bogarde appeared in another film that flirted with the theme of German fascism, Liliana Cavani's highly controversial The Night Porter ("The Night Porter"). He played an ex-SS officer who encounters a woman with whom he had been engaged in a sado-masochistic affair at a World War II Nazi extermination camp. Many critics found the film, which featured extensive nudity courtesy of Charlotte Rampling, crassly offensive, but no one faulted Bogarde's performance.
He played Lt. Gen. Frederick "Boy" Browning in the all-star blockbuster A Bridge Too Far. Although some of his fellow actors were World War II veterans, only Bogarde had been involved in the actual battle. His performance arguably is the best in the film. Appearing in Alain Resnais' art house hit Providence gave Bogarde the opportunity to co-star with John Gielgud. He also starred in German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder's adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Despair, with a script by Tom Stoppard. Though the film was not much of a critical success, Bogarde's acting as 1930s German businessman Hermann Hermann, a man who chooses to go mad when faced with the paradoxes of his life in his proto-fascist fatherland, was highly praised.
Bogarde enjoyed working with Fassbinder. He wrote that "Rainer's work was extraordinarily similar to that of Visconti's; despite their age difference, they both behaved, on set, in much the same manner. Both had an incredible knowledge of the camera: the first essential. Both knew how it could be made to function; they had the same feeling for movement on the screen, of the all-important (and often-neglected) 'pacing' of a film, from start to finish, of composition, of texture, and probably most of all they shared that strange ability to explore and probe into the very depths of the character which one had offered them."
After his experience with Fassbinder, he acted only four more times, twice in feature films and twice on television. Bogarde was nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Roald Dahl in The Patricia Neal Story. He got rave reviews playing Jane Birkin's father in Bertrand Tavernier's Daddy Nostalgia, his last film.
In 1984 Bogarde was asked to serve as president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, a huge honor for the actor, as he was the first Briton ever to serve in that capacity. Two years earlier he had been made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des lettres 1982. A decade later, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on February 13, 1992.
Bogarde won two Best Actor Awards out of six nominations from the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, for "The Servant" and "Darling" in 1964 and 1966, respectively. He was also nominated in 1962 for "Victim," in 1968 for "Accident" and Our Mother's House and in 1972 for "Morte a Venezia."
Bogarde suffered a stroke in 1996, and though it rendered him partially paralyzed, he was able to recover and live in his own flat in Chelsea. However, by May of 1998 he required around-the-clock nursing care, and he had his lawyers draw up a "living will," also known as a no-resuscitation order. Bogarde publicly came out in favor of voluntary euthanasia, becoming Vice President of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. He publicly addressed the subject of his own "living will," which ordered that no extraordinary measures be taken to keep him alive should he become terminally ill.
The living will proved unnecessary. Dirk Bogarde died of a heart attack on May 8, 1999, in his home in Chelsea, London, England. According to his nephew Brock Van den Bogaerde, the family planned to hold a private funeral but no memorial service in accordance with his uncle's wish "just to forget me." Bogarde wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in France, and accordingly, his remains were returned to Provence.
Margaret Hinxman, in her May 10, 1999, obituary in "The Guardian", said of him, "At his peak and with directors he trusted - Joseph Losey, Luchino Visconti and Alain Resnais - Dirk Bogarde . . . was probably the finest, most complete, actor on the screen."
Clive Fisher's obituary in "The Independent" on May 10, 1999, praised Bogarde as "a major figure because, wherever they were made, his finest films are all somehow about him. He was a great self-portraitist and the screen persona he fashioned, a stylization of his private being, not only dominated its surroundings but spoke subliminally and powerfully to British audiences about the tensions of the time, about connivances and cruel respectabilities of England in the Fifties and Sixties."
The secret of Dirk Bogarde's success as a great cinema actor was his intimate relationship with the camera. Bogarde believed that the key to acting on film was the eyes, specifically, the "look" of the actor. Like Alan Ladd, it didn't matter if an actor was good with line readings if they had mastery over the "look." For many critics and movie-goers at the end of the 20th century, Dirk Bogarde's face epitomized the "look" of Britain in the tumultuous decades after the Second World War.
David Tindle's portrait of Bogarde is part of the collection of London's National Portrait Gallery, London. In 1999, the portrait, on temporary loan, was displayed at 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister's official residence, with other modern works of art. Officially, Dirk Bogarde had become the look of Britain.
As the brash and bruising tough guy with wide, flaring nostrils, compact features and boorish, bullying personality, you could have placed bets that anyone who had the guts to go nose-to-nose against crew cut-wearing badger Frank Sutton had better be one tough order. Nope. Far from it. Sutton's most feared, ulcer-inducing on-camera nemesis would be none other than one of TV's gentlest souls ever--Mayberry's own lovable gas station attendant Gomer Pyle.
As the antagonistic, in-your-face Sgt. Vince Carter, whose outer bluster occasionally revealed a softer inner core, the 41-year-old Sutton finally found himself front and center co-starring in one of sitcomdom's most successful spin-offs--Gomer Pyle: USMC, the offspring of The Andy Griffith Show. Fans really took to Sutton's volatile character whose hilarious slow burn meshed perfectly with Jim Nabors' awkward guile. The gimmick of watching Carter's devious but ultimately failed plans to transfer Pyle out of his unit each week worked for five seasons. Off-stage Nabors and Sutton shared a mutual respect for each other. After the show's demise, in fact, Sutton went on to become a part of Jim's roster of regulars on The Jim Nabors Hour, a variety show that had a very short run.
Frank Spencer Sutton was born in Clarksville, Tennessee. Although some sources list the year of his birth as 1922, his grave marker indicates 1923. An only child, both his parents had jobs working for the local newspaper. When he was eight, the family moved to Nashville, his father dying some time later of an intestinal ailment. Belonging to the drama club and appearing in high school plays sparked his early interest in acting, and he majored in Dramatic Arts at Columbia University, graduating cum laude. Gaining experience on the local stages, he eventually found a job as a radio announcer. Following WWII military service, he returned to acting and in the 1950s segued into TV, appearing on a couple of the more popular children's adventure series -- Captain Video and His Video Rangers and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Based in New York, Sutton also found work on the soaps The Edge of Night and The Secret Storm.
Sutton's imposing mug and hothead countenance proved quite suitable for playing both good guys and bad guys and he became a steady, reliable fixture in rugged surroundings. With work on such series as "Gunsmoke", "Maverick", "The Fugitive", "Combat!", and "The Untouchables" he could be counted on to play everything from a crass, outspoken blue-collar buddy to a menacing henchman. Film appearances were sporadic, with only a few secondary roles offered. His best chances were in Four Boys and a Gun, Town Without Pity (a very good performance as one of a trio of American GIs accused of raping a young German girl) and The Satan Bug.
In the early 1970s, after the success of the "Gomer Pyle" series, Sutton was seen in TV guest spots while performing in small-scale stock plays all over the US. His stage work would include comedic roles in "The Odd Couple," "Anything Goes" and "No Hard Feelings." In fact, he died suddenly of a heart attack on June 28, 1974, while in rehearsals for a show at a Louisiana dinner theater. The 50-year-old actor was survived by his wife of 25 years, daytime soap writer Toby Igler, and children Joseph and Amanda. He was buried in his home town.
A former World Karate and Kickboxing Champion, Lexi Alexander found her calling to become a filmmaker while traveling around the world competing and teaching martial arts seminars. Born in Mannheim, Germany, Lexi dreamed of eventually moving to Hollywood and made it a point to attend every karate tournament that took place in the United States. Finally at age 19, after winning the Long Beach International Karate Championship, Lexi decided to stay in California, equipped with nothing more than two duffel bags and a pair of boxing gloves.
Pursuing her dream of becoming a filmmaker, Lexi enrolled in the renowned Joanne Baron Studio of Dramatic Arts and the Piero Dusa Acting Conservatory while simultaneously taking classes in directing, producing and writing at UCLA. To finance her education and living expenses, Lexi worked as a stunt woman specializing in martial arts, giving her the opportunity to learn about the filmmaking process from a practical side as well. Her short films, Pitcher Perfect, about the struggle of a teenage baseball prodigy, and Fool Proof, another teenage comedy, as well as several school projects, opened the door for many commercial assignments, most notably for extreme sports companies.
Lexi combined her extensive knowledge of boxing with her passion for filmmaking in her third short film, the 2003 Academy Award-nominated Johnny Flynton, the true story of a boxer who was accused of murdering his wife and convicted on circumstantial evidence, focusing on the moral ambiguities that surround all aspects of professional fighting. In the fall of 2003, Odd Lot Entertainment optioned Lexi's original screenplay, Greenstreet Hooligans, and by the spring of 2004 they were prepping the movie for production in London.
Alla Nazimova's friend,Natacha Rambova (nee Winifred Hudnut) became romantically involved with Rudy and they lived together in her bungalow, from 1921 (during the filming of Camille) until they eloped to Mexico 13 May, 1922 in the belief his divorce from Jean Acker was official. After their re-marriage two years later she left him because he signed a contract that barred her from being involved in his pictures and wasn't allowed on set. She went to Nice to live with her parents and never entered their new mansion, Falcon Lair. He began dating sexy 'Pola Negri' and was also linked to Vilma Banky. While touring to promote his last film, an editorial in the Chicago Tribune accused him of "effeminization of the American male". He defended his manhood by challenging the writer of the article to a boxing match (which never took place with the author but another writer for the paper did enter the ring on behalf of the author who would not be named and Rudy beat him). He died shortly afterward while in New York attending to the premiere of his last film. He collapsed on August 15, 1926 in his hotel and died after an operation, which led to an infection on August 23rd. 80,000 mourners caused a near riot at his New York funeral. Another funeral followed in California.
Jim Sheridan is a master story-teller, and an acclaimed film director of few films, but good films nevertheless.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1949, Sheridan moved to America in 1982, meeting a man who invited him to run the Irish Arts Center. He found a place to live in Hell's Kitchen, New York City, and was low on finances at first. He eventually made his first film, My Left Foot, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, about the Irish artist Christy Brown, who only had control of his left foot.
The film was a surprise success, with both Day-Lewis and co-star Brenda Fricker winning Oscars for their performances. Sheridan received two Oscar nominations for Best Director (he lost to Oliver Stone) and Best Screenplay. It was an amazing debut film, and at age 40, Sheridan was a late bloomer to the film industry. He followed "My Left Foot" with the film The Field. Starring Richard Harris a then-unknown Sean Bean and John Hurt, this film was based on a theatre play by John B. Keane. It earned Harris an Oscar nomination, but was otherwise short of "My Left Foot"'s success.
Sheridan bounced back three years later with the film In the Name of the Father, once again starring Daniel Day-Lewis. The film concerns four teenagers who are accused of an IRA bombing. Gerry (Day-Lewis) finds that his father (Pete Postlethwaite), aunt, and cousins are also accused as being accomplices. He and his father spend fifteen years in prison together until a lawyer (Emma Thompson) takes their case to court once again. The film was successful critically and commercially, gaining seven Oscar nominations (including three for Sheridan) but did not win anything.
Throughout the 90s, Sheridan did some on-the-side work as an actor and as a writer, and his writing credits include the prison film Some Mother's Son in which IRA prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest their treatment as criminals. Sheridan's next directorial film was the gritty film The Boxer, which was also the third collaboration between Sheridan and Daniel Day-Lewis. The film was about a former IRA associate released from prison after fourteen years. He attempts to put his life back together by starting a boxing club, as well as reconciling with his former love (played by Emily Watson). It was nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Actor (Day-Lewis) and Best Director (Sheridan).
Sheridan moved slowly between his films; his next film was very personal to his own experiences: the dramatic film In America, starring Paddy Considine, and Samantha Morton. The story is about an Irish family that immigrates illegally to the United States. The father is an actor, attempting to find success, so that he can look after his children. The film received many positive reviews, and earned Sheridan a final Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.
Sheridan's next film no doubt surprised many people: the rap film Get Rich or Die Tryin' starring famous (or infamous) rapper 50 Cent and Terence Howard. The film was about a drug dealer that pursues his rap dream. The film was hit with many criticisms, but some, like renowned critic Roger Ebert, saw that there was a lot of emotion in the film, as well as showing the consequences of the gangster life.
Sheridan also finished a film Brothers based on a Danish movie by Susanne Bier. The film stars well known and talented actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire, and tells the story of a man whose brother is missing in Afghanistan, leaving him to look after his brother's family. The film was released late 2009 and was a modest success. Tobey Maguire received a Golden Globe nomination, as did a song written for the movie by U2.
Sheridan is now busy filming Dream House set to be a thriller involving paranormal activities surrounding a family moving into a new home.
Carmen Argenziano was born on October 27, 1943 in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, as Carmen Antimo Argenziano. He is an actor known for his work on hundreds of films and TV series throughout his fifty year career. He was in The Accused, Stand And Deliver, The Godfather: Part II, Identity, and many more, including James Franco's production of Don Quixote, playing the title character. He played the memorable and well loved character Jacob Carter in the TV series Stargate SG1. He is a Lifetime Member of The Actors Studio.
Two-time Oscar-winner Melvyn Douglas was one of America's finest actors. In addition to his two Oscars, he also won a Tony Award and an Emmy. Douglas would enjoy cinema immortality if for no other reason than his being the man who made Greta Garbo laugh in Ernst Lubitsch's classic comedy Ninotchka, but he was much, much more.
He was born Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg on April 5, 1901, in Macon, Georgia. His father, Edouard Gregory Hesselberg, was a Latvian Jewish immigrant (from Riga). His mother, Lena Priscilla (Shackelford), from Clark Furnace, Tennessee, was from a family with deep roots in the United States, and the daughter of a Col. George Taliaferro Shackelford; she had English ancestry (including antecedents who were Mayflower passengers), and remote Italian roots (from the Taliaferro family). Melvyn's father was a concert pianist who supported his family by teaching music at university-based conservatories. Melvyn dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.
He made his Broadway debut in the drama "A Free Soul" at the Playhouse Theatre on January 12, 1928, playing the role of a raffish gangster (a part that would later make Clark Gable's career when the play was adapted to the screen). "A Free Soul" was a modest success, running for 100 performances. His next three plays were flops: "Back Here" and "Now-a-Days" each lasted one week, while "Recapture" lasted all of three before closing. He was much luckier with his next play, "Tonight or Never," which opened on November 18, 1930, at legendary producer David Belasco's theater. Not only did the play run for 232 performances, but Douglas met the woman who would be his wife of nearly 50 years: his co-star, Helen Gahagan. They were married in 1931.
The movies came a-calling in 1932 and Douglas had the unique pleasure of assaying completely different characters in widely divergent films. He first appeared opposite his future Ninotchka co-star Greta Garbo in the screen adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's As You Desire Me, proving himself a sophisticated leading man as, aside from his first-rate performance, he was able to shine in the light thrown off by Garbo, the cinema's greatest star. In typical Hollywood fashion, however, this terrific performance in a top-rank film from a major studio was balanced by his appearance in a low-budget horror film for the independent Mayfair studio, The Vampire Bat. However, the leading man won out, and that's how he first came to fame in the 1930s in such films as She Married Her Boss and Garbo's final film, Two-Faced Woman. Douglas had shown he could play both straight drama and light comedy.
Douglas was a great liberal and was a pillar of the anti-Nazi Popular Front in the Hollywood of the 1930s. A big supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he and his wife Helen were invited to spend a night at the White House in November 1939. Douglas' leftism would come back to haunt him after the death of FDR.
Well-connected with the Roosevelt White House, Douglas served as a director of the Arts Council in the Office of Civilian Defense before joining the Army during World War II. He was very active in politics and was one of the leading lights of the anti-Communist left in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Helen Gahagan Douglas, who also was politically active, was elected to Congress from the 14th District in Los Angeles in 1944, the first of three terms.
Returning to films after the war, Douglas' screen persona evolved and he took on more mature roles, in such films as The Sea of Grass (Elia Kazan's directorial debut) and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. His political past caught up with him, however, in the late 1940s, and he - along with fellow liberals Robinson and Henry Fonda (a registered Republican!) - were "gray-listed" (not explicitly blacklisted, they just weren't offered any work).
The late 1940s brought the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to Hollywood, a move that sowed the seeds of the McCarthy anti-red hysteria that would wrack Hollywood and sweep America in the 1950s. In 1950, Helen Gahagan Douglas ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate and was opposed by the Republican nominee, a small-time red-baiting candidate from Whittier named Richard Nixon. While Nixon did not go so far as to accuse her of actually being a Communist, he did charge her with being soft on Communism due to her opposition to HUAC and her stance insisting that the U.S. improve its relations with the USSR. Nixon tarred her as a fellow traveler of Communists, a pinko who was "pink right down to her underwear." Her opponent in the Democratic primary had given her the nickname "The Pink Lady", erroneously attributed to Nixon. But it was Helene Gahagan Douglas who gave Nixon his most famous nickname, "Tricky Dicky". While many historians have written that she was defeated by Nixon because of his unethical behavior and dirty campaign tactics, her pro-Soviet, anti-Cold War stance had alienated President Harry S. Truman, who had refused to campaign for her, and other Democratic Cold Warriors like Congressman John F. Kennedy, who hailed the election of fellow-Cold Warrior Nixon to the Senate.
The blacklist was implemented by Hollywood in 1947, after the HUAC grilling of the Hollywood help led to the "exposure" and subsequent persecution of the Hollywood 10. The post-World War II Red Scare targeted New Deal liberals as much as actual, genuine communists in a push to roll back liberalism, and Douglas was a marked man. After appearing in six films as a leading man and second lead in A-List pictures from 1947-49, Douglas made just two films in the decade of the 1950s - supporting roles at RKO in 1951 - until he reappeared a decade later in Peter Ustinov's Billy Budd in 1962. In the meantime, Douglas did play the eponymous private detective in the TV series Steve Randall in the 1952-53 season for the doomed DuMont network, which failed the next year, and, following the example of his old friend Reagan in his stint on General Electric Theater, appeared as the host of the western omnibus TV series Frontier Justice in 1958. Throughout the 1950s Douglas secured roles on such prestigious omnibus drama showcases as Playhouse 90 and even appeared on Reagan's General Electric Theater.
Then there was the theater. Douglas made many appearances on Broadway in the 1940s and 1950s, including in a notable 1959 flop, making his musical debut playing Captain Boyle in Marc Blitzstein's "Juno." The musical, based on Sean O'Casey's play "Juno and the Paycock", closed in less than three weeks. Douglas was much luckier in his next trip to the post: he won a Tony for his Broadway lead role in the 1960 play "The Best Man" by Gore Vidal.
In 1960, with the election of the Democratic President John F. Kennedy, the erstwhile Nixon supporter who had defeated Tricky Dicky for the Big Brass Ring of American electoral politics. About this time, as the civil rights movement became stronger and found more support among Democrats and the Kennedy administration, former liberal activist and two-term Screen Actors Guild president Reagan was in the process of completing his evolution into a right-wing Republican. Reagan and Douglas' friendship lapsed. After Reagan was elected President of the United States in 1980, Douglas said of his former friend that Reagan had begun to believe in the pro-business speeches he delivered for General Electric when he was the host of the General Electric Theater.
Douglas' own evolution into a premier character actor was completed by the early 1960s. His years of movie exile seemed to deepen him, making him richer, and he returned to the big screen a more authoritative actor. For his second role after coming off of the graylist, he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as Paul Newman's father in Hud. Other films in which he shined were Paddy Chayefsky's The Americanization of Emily, CBS Playhouse (a 1967 episode directed by George Schaefer called "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", for which he won a Best Actor Emmy) and The Candidate, in which he played Robert Redford's father. It was for his performance playing Gene Hackman's father that Douglas got his sole Best Actor Academy Award nod, in I Never Sang for My Father. He had a career renaissance in the late 1970s, appearing in The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Being There and Ghost Story. He won his second Oscar for "Being There."
Helen Gahagan Douglas died in 1980 and Melvyn followed her in 1981. He was 80 years old.
|Collin Wilcox Paxton
Actress Collin Wilcox extended her given name twice over the duration of her professional acting career -- billing herself as Collin Wilcox-Horne and Collin Wilcox Paxton, to be exact. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised in Highlands, North Carolina, and her interest in theater was sparked by her parents, Jack H. and Virginia Wilcox, who founded the Highlands Community Theatre (now known as the Highlands Playhouse) in 1939. She made her acting debut there as a young girl and appeared in various productions, including "Our Town". In later years, Collin would dutifully return from time to time and perform at her theater alma mater in appreciation.
She attended high school in Knoxville, Tennessee and became the resident ingénue at the regional Carousel Theatre. She majored in drama at the University of Tennessee and studied performing at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, Illinois, as well as improv at The Compass (a forerunner of the Second City troupe) where Paul Sills was the director. There, she worked alongside up-and-coming talents Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Barbara Harris, Severn Darden and Shelley Berman. She eventually migrated to New York in 1957 and earned membership with Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio, who saw great potential in her. She worked there for eight years.
Collins' Broadway debut came a year later with "The Day the Money Stopped", starring Richard Basehart and Mildred Natwick, which earned her the Clarence Derwent Award for "Best Supporting Actress". Slowly garnering notice for her growing quirks and interesting, edgy performances, Collin went on to work with the crème de la crème of Broadway eccentrics including Tallulah Bankhead in "Crazy October", Geraldine Page in "Strange Interlude" and Ruth Gordon in "La Bonne Soup". Neurotic Southern plays such as Tennessee Williams off-Broadway productions of "Camino Real" and "Suddenly, Last Summer" fit her like a glove. In Los Angeles, she appeared in "The Sea Gull" under the direction of John Houseman, "Period of Adjustment" with William Windom and "Getting Out" with Susan Clark. Williams, himself, chose Collin to repeat her leading role as "Isabel" in "Period of Adjustment", when the play went to London.
Collin's film debut came with her brilliant, award-worthy role as young "Mayella", whose Southern white trash teenager, under the duress of her racist father, falsely accuses black man Brock Peters of rape in To Kill a Mockingbird. Her cross-examination courtroom sequence with Peters' hired attorney, Gregory Peck, is unforgettable. No other film role would have the same impact as that once-in-a-lifetime part. Prior to this, "Mockingbird" director Robert Mulligan personally selected the classically-trained Collin as his TV "Frankie" in a strong presentation of The Member of the Wedding. It was her first television role. For such a strong start, her later film career would prove strangely erratic, with a number of offbeat roles in The Baby Maker, arguably her best post-Mockingbird part, opposite Barbara Hershey and Sam Groom, Catch-22, September 30, 1955, Jaws 2, Marie, The Journey of August King and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, among them.
While Collin graced a number of quality TV programs, such as the mini-movies The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Foxfire and Wildflower along with such established series as Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive and The Waltons, it was the live stage that kept her fiery passion for acting alive. In the late seventies, she returned to her hometown, met and married third husband Scott Paxton, and founded the multi-arts center, "The Highlands Studio for the Arts", in 1981. She served as its artistic director for nine years as well as its resident playwright and improv teacher. She and her husband (who has been president of the Board of Directors) formed a troupe called "The Instant Theatre Company" (ITC) which reaffirmed her family's name in the commitment to its town's local theater. The company lasted for close to a decade before resurrecting again in 2003 with Collin and Rex Reed performing in a presentation of "Love Letters".
Married three times, she has two children, Kimberley and William, from her former husband, British actor Geoffrey Horne, and one child, Michael, from the marriage to Scott Paxton. She died of brain cancer at her North Carolina home in Highlands on October 14, 2009. She was 74.
Lucio Fulci, born in Rome in 1927, remains as controversial in death as he was in life. A gifted craftsman with a sharp tongue and a wicked sense of dark humor, Fulci achieved some measure of notoriety for his gore epics of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but respect was long in coming.
Abandoning his early career as a med student, Fulci entered the film industry as a screenwriter and assistant director, working alongside such directors as Steno and Riccardo Freda. Granted his debut feature in 1959, with a seldom seen comedy called I ladri (The Thieves), Fulci quickly established himself as a prolific craftsman adept at musicals, comedies and westerns.
In 1968, Fulci made his first mystery thriller, One on Top of the Other, and its success was sufficient to garner the backing for his pet project The Conspiracy of Torture. Based on a true story, the film details the trial of a young woman accused of murdering her sexually abusive father amid fear and superstition in 16th Century Italy. A scathing commentary on church and state, the film was the first to give voice to its director's passionate hatred of the Catholic Church. Predictably, the film was misunderstood, and Fulci's career was thrown into jeopardy. Deciding it would be best to leave his political feelings on the back burner, Fulci pressed on with a series of slickly commercial ventures.
In 1971 and 1972, Fulci re-established himself in the thriller arena, directing two excellent giallos: the haunting A Lizard in a Woman's Skin and the disturbing Don't Torture a Duckling. The former, with its vivid hallucinations involving murderous hippies and vivisected canines, and the latter, with its psychotic religious zealots and brutal child killings, were -- to say the least -- controversial. In particular, Don't Torture a Duckling, despite a huge box-office success, painted too graphic a portrait of perverted Catholicism, and Fulci's career was derailed... some would say, permanently. Blacklisted (albeit briefly) and despised in his homeland, Fulci at least found work in television and with the adventure genre with two financially successful Jack London 'White Fang' adventure movies in 1973 and 1974 which were Zanna Bianca, and Il ritorno di Zanna Bianca. Also during the mid and late 1970s, Fulci also directed two 'Spaghetti Westerns'; Four of the Apocalypse and Silver Saddle, (Silver Saddle) and another 'giallo'; The Psychic, as well as a few sex-comedies which include the political spoof The Senator Likes Women (aka: The Eroticist), and the vampire spoof Il cav. Costante Nicosia demoniaco, ovvero: Dracula in Brianza (aka: Young Dracula), and the violent Mafia crime-drama Contraband.
In 1979, Fulci's film making career hit another high point with him breaking into the international market with Zombie, an in-name-only sequel to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, which had been released in Italy as 'Zombi'. With its flamboyant imagery, graphic gore and moody atmospherics, the film established Fulci as a gore director par excellence. It was a role he accepted, but with some reservations.
Over the next three years, Fulci plied his trade with finesse and flair, rivaling even the popularity of his "opponent" Dario Argento, with such sanguine classics as City of the Living Dead and The Beyond. Frequently derided as sheer sensationalism, these films, as well as the reviled The New York Ripper are actually intelligently crafted, with sound commentaries on everything from American life to religion. High on vivid imagery and pure cinematic style, Fulci's films from this period of the early 1980s represent some of his most popular work in America and abroad, even if they do pale in comparison to his 1972 masterpiece and personal favorite Don't Torture a Duckling (an impossible act to follow, as it happens).
In the mid-1980s, at the peak of his most prolific period, Fulci became beset with personal problems and worsening health. Much of his work from the mid-1980s onward is disappointing, to say the least, but flashes of his brilliance can be seen in works like Murder-Rock: Dancing Death and Il miele del diavolo. A Cat in the Brain, one of Fulci's last works, remains one of his most original. Though strapped by budgetary restraints and marred by mediocre photography, the film is wickedly subversive and comical. With Fulci playing the lead role (as more or less himself, no less -- a harried horror director who fears that his obsession with sex and violence is a sign of mental disease), Fulci also proves to be an endearing and competent actor (he also has cameos in many of his films, frequently as a detective or doctor figure).
By the 1990s, Fulci went on a hiatus with film making for further health and personal reasons as the Italian cinema market went into a further decline. While in pre-production for the Dario Argento-produced The Wax Mask, Lucio Fulci passed away at his home on March 13, 1996 at the age of 68. A serious diabetic most of his adult life, he inexplicably forgot to take his insulin before retiring to bed; some consider his death a suicide, others consider it an accident, but his many fans all consider it to be a tragedy. Whether one considers him to be a hack or a genius, there's no denying that he was unique.
Trained in music and dance, tiny-framed, pixie-like Judy Carne was born Joyce Botterill in Northampton, England in 1939, the daughter of a grocer. Trained in dance, she appeared in music revues as a teenager and changed her name at the advice of a dance teacher. Slowly building up a career on British TV, she arrived in America in 1962, the eve of the mid-60s "British invasion," and appeared to good advantage on the TV series Fair Exchange. Beginning unobtrusively in film, she developed enough as a light comedienne to score well on the smaller screen and won a regular role on the sitcom The Baileys of Balboa. Stardom came with her own romantic comedy series Love on a Rooftop opposite the late Pete Duel. The latter series, though short-lived, was quite popular and showcased Carne's appeal to maximum advantage. She found herself embraced by America as a cute, pert-nosed Cockney lass with a Peter Pan-like effervescence.
It was no surprise when a couple of years later she soared to "flower power" stardom on the hip and highly irreverent TV cult variety show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, where she introduced the phrase "Sock it to me!" to the American vernacular. As the plucky brunette, she always seemed to be on the receiving end of a slapstick prank, but the audiences loved her for it. The show also made instant household names out of fellow Laugh-In comrades Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley, Lily Tomlin, and, notably, Goldie Hawn, who managed to out-perk even Judy and grab the lion's share of attention. Judy proved herself a game sport for a while, but made the decision to leave the series after only two seasons-- tired of the grind, the typecast, and the disappointment of having her singing/dancing skills undermined.
In the long run it probably was a major career mistake. With the exception of her role as Polly (the Julie Andrews roles) in a Broadway revival of "The Boy Friend" that also featured Sandy Duncan, Judy's post "Laugh-In" professional life was unexceptional with a surprising quick descent. There were a couple of mini-movies, a failed TV idea for a sitcom called "Poor Judy", a failed Las Vegas music act, and the TV talk show circuit. Nothing panned out. Despite an innocent, bubbly, cheery exterior, her private life was anything but. Her 1963 marriage to rising star Burt Reynolds was over within a couple of years. The divorce was acrimonious, to say the least, with nasty, below-the-belt accusations being flung from both sides and feeding the tabloid sheets. A second marriage to TV producer Robert Bergman in 1970 lasted even less than that. More problematic, however, was Judy's escalating financial problems and a drug problem which started with marijuana and hallucinogens and developed into a full-fledged heroin addiction.
In the late 60s and 70s she tried to maintain somewhat with scattered appearances on the musical and comedy stage with roles in "Cabaret" (as Sally Bowles), "Absurd Person Singular," "There's a Girl in My Soup", "The Owl and the Pussycat" and "Blithe Spirit". Her career pretty much in shambles, she fell quickly into the lifestyle of a junkie and began living in squalor. For the next decade, she literally dropped out of sight. The only time she was heard from was when she was busted for a drug arrest or when she made unhappy headlines for a near-fatal 1978 car crash (her ex-husband Robert was driving) that left her with a broken neck.
Judy's tell-all 1985 autobiography "Laughing on the Outside, Crying on the Inside" was a harrowing and heart-wrenching read with explicit detailing of her descent into degradation. Despite the book, the adorable English girl who captured America's heart in the late 1960s failed to win back a now-disinterested audience. She remains a prime example of what the flip side of a glamorous Hollywood can turn out to be. Living in England, she has not been heard of much since the publishing of the book. She has allegedly been married twice more since then. She was also in attendance for the televised 25th anniversary of "Laugh-In" and a televised "Laugh-In" Christmas show both in 1993. She resides in her hometown of Northampton, England
Accomplished Film Director/Writer/Producer Mira Nair was born in India and educated at Delhi University and at Harvard. She began her film career as an actor and then turned to directing award-winning documentaries, including So Far From India and India Cabaret. Her debut feature film, Salaam Bombay! was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988; it won the Camera D'Or (for best first feature) and the Prix du Publique (for most popular entry) at the Cannes Film Festival and 25 other international awards. Her next film, Mississippi Masala, an interracial love story set in the American South and Uganda, starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, won three awards at the Venice Film Festival including Best Screenplay and The Audience Choice Award. Subsequent films include The Perez Family (with Marisa Tomei, Anjelica Huston, Alfred Molina and Chazz Palminteri), about an exiled Cuban family in Miami; and the sensuous Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, which she directed and co-wrote. Nair directed My Own Country based on Dr. Abraham Verghese's best-selling memoir about a young immigrant doctor dealing with the AIDS epidemic. Made in 1998, My Own Country starred Naveen Andrews, Glenne Headly, Marisa Tomei, Swoosie Kurtz, and Hal Holbrook, and was awarded the NAACP award for best fiction feature. Nair returned to the documentary form in August 1999 with The Laughing Club of India, which was awarded The Special Jury Prize in the Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels 2000. In the summer of 2000, Nair shot Monsoon Wedding in 30 days, a story of a Punjabi wedding starring Naseeruddin Shah and an ensemble of Indian actors. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival, Monsoon Wedding also won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and opened worldwide to tremendous critical and commercial acclaim. Nair's next feature was an HBO original film, Hysterical Blindness. Set in working class New Jersey in 1987, the film stars Uma Thurman, Juliette Lewis, Gena Rowlands. Thurman and Lewis play single women looking for love in all the wrong places, while Rowlands, who plays Thurman's mother, adds to her daughter's hysteria when she finds Mr. Right in Ben Gazarra. The film received great critical acclaim and the highest ratings for HBO, garnering an audience of 15 million, a Golden Globe for Uma Thurman, and 3 Emmy Awards. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Nair joined a group of 11 renowned filmmakers, each commissioned to direct a film that was 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame long. Nair's film is a retelling of real events in the life of the Hamdani family in Queens, whose eldest son was missing after September 11, and was then accused by the media of being a terrorist. 11.09.01 is the true story of a mother's search for her son who did not return home on that fateful day. In May 2003, Nair helmed the Focus Features production of the Thackeray classic, Vanity Fair, a provocative period tale set in post-colonial England, in which Reese Witherspoon plays the lead, Becky Sharp. The film is scheduled to release in Fall 2004. Nair's upcoming projects include Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul for HBO, and Hari Kunzru's The Impressionist, and there are also plans to take Monsoon Wedding to Broadway. Mirabai Films is establishing an annual filmmaker's laboratory, Maisha, which will be dedicated to the support of visionary screenwriters and directors in East Africa and India. The first lab, which is only for screenwriters, will be launched in August 2005 in Kampala, Uganda.
Originally a theater performer, Eric Bogosian has also made a contribution to film, applying his writing skills to several pictures, including his famous play, "Talk Radio", which was turned into a movie in 1988. Bogosian was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, to Edwina (Jamgochian), a hairdresser, and Henry Bogosian, an accountant. He is of Armenian descent. Bogosian graduated from Oberlin College. He moved to New York City after that, with the intent of working in the theater. He became known for his frequent character changes on stage, and used few props. His style was often a blend of dark comedy and social realism. Aside from acting, Bogosian also wrote theater scripts, including "subUrbia" (later made into a film) and "Talk Radio", which was nominated. His first on-screen appearance was in the documentary film, Born in Flames, which talked about class-ism and sexism, among other things. It was praised at the Berlin Film Festival. After this, Bogosian acted in several different shows and films. These included the horror flick, Special Effects, the well-known show, Miami Vice, and Arena Brains (which he also co-wrote). In 1988, his well-received play, "Talk Radio", was adapted into a film. Bogosian wrote the screenplay (with assistance from Oliver Stone) and starred as the main character. Barry Champlain is the outspoken host of a show that is given the chance to broadcast to millions of people. Champlain must endure death threats, outsiders of society, and the kind of people who tune in the most. With Oliver Stone directing, the supporting cast featured Alec Baldwin, and John C. McGinley (who had been involved in the theatrical version). Bogosian won a Silver Bear for his brilliant screenplay and acting for the film, but it was not a commercial hit. Bogosian continued on with his career, starring alongside former co-star, John C. McGinley in Suffering Bastards, a film about a man who recounts his life story to a girl he meets, and it is unclear whether he is lying or telling the truth. Bogosian followed this up with the hit TV show, Law & Order, where he took a supporting role for two episodes. Also noteworthy is the Stephen King-adapted film, Dolores Claiborne, which deals with a woman accused of murdering an elderly woman whom she worked for. That same year, Bogosian acted in the Steven Seagal-helmed action film Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. The film was a success, bringing in twice its budget, but received mixed reviews. But it hasn't been just acting for Bogosian. His screen-writing credits included Chasing the Dragon, "Arena Brains", Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and SubUrbia. The latter two were both based on plays he wrote for theater. After "SubUrbia", Bogosian laid off screen-writing in favour of acting. His credits up to the 2000's include the Oscar-nominated comedy, Deconstructing Harry (directed by Woody Allen), the mystery thriller, Gossip, and the romantic comedy, In the Weeds. Bogosian made a few more films before acting in one of his most respected film choices: the emotional drama, Ararat, by Atom Egoyan. The film, dealing with the Armenian genocide by the Turks, is a topic that Bogosian can relate to, and he acted alongside such legendary character actors as Christopher Plummer and Elias Koteas. After "Ararat", Bogosian acted in the comedic, Igby Goes Down, the crime thriller, Wonderland, starring Val Kilmer, and the less-than-expected action film, Blade: Trinity. Recently, Bogosian has turned to television, and has returned to a show he knows well. He plays the promoted "Captain Daniel Ross" in the mystery series, Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He is also set to co-star in the film, Cadillac Records, which deals with the blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Etta James and Howlin' Wolf. Whether it be theater, film, or television, Eric Bogosian has made his mark on them all.
Veteran performer John Randolph was a Tony Award-winning character actor whose union and social activism in the '40s and '50s caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era. The balding performer may not have been a household name, but he was a regular face in movies and TV for over four decades.
Randolph was born Emanuel Cohen in New York City, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Romania and Russia, Dorothy (Shorr), an insurance agent, and Louis Cohen, a hat manufacturer. When his father died and his mother remarried, his stepfather, Joseph Lippman, renamed him Mortimer. He began his dramatic training in the '30s, studying under Stella Adler and changing his name to the less ethnic moniker of "John Randolph". He served in the Army Air Force during WWII and married actress Sarah Cunningham in Chicago in 1945 while performing in Orson Welles's stage production of "Native Son". They had two children, Martha and Harrison. After the war, Randolph become one of the original members of the Actors Studio. After making his film debut with The Naked City, his passionate, outspoken leftist views and defense of other accused figures led to Randolph and his wife being blacklisted. In 1955, they were both called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and pleaded the Fifth Amendment. Although Randolph lost many jobs during this 15-year blacklist, he continued to find work onstage, mainly in New York. Finally, director John Frankenheimer broke the Hollywood blacklist after casting Randolph, along with fellow "marked" actors Will Geer and Jeff Corey, in Seconds, in which he played a disillusioned older man surgically made to look decades younger (now played by Rock Hudson). Randolph continued to flourish in films and TV following this breakthrough with important roles in Serpico, Frances, Prizzi's Honor and You've Got Mail, along with the TV movies The Missiles of October and "Lincoln" (1975) (mini). He also played the recurring role of Roseanne Barr's father on her popular sitcom. In 1987, he was the recipient of both Tony and Drama Desk awards for his close-to-home portrayal of a Communist, left-wing grandfather in Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound". Randolph continued his activism into the 1980s, heading the Council of American-Soviet Friendship, a cultural exchange organization. He died of natural causes at age 88.
When we think of the term "worse for wear", somehow provocative images of 39-26-37 Edwina Beth Williams (better known as Edy Williams) and her outrageous apparel at film festivals and award shows instantly stands out into one's mind. You have to admit this wild child, who has now moved into her 70s (born on July 9, 1941), can never be accused of being a shrinking violet and not giving her all to her chosen profession.
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, this courageous perennial starlet grew up in all sorts of ways in Southern California. She first began her career chasing after modeling work with local photographers while in her teens and has not lessened since. An undeniably fetching and voluptuous presence, she was the recipient of several California beauty titles which led to her eventual signing over at 20th Century-Fox in the early 1960s.
Known for her wildly untamed, chestnut-toned hairstyle, she gleaned her talents initially with taunting, decorative roles in such pictures as For Love or Money, Man's Favorite Sport?, A House Is Not a Home (in which she and fellow glamazon Raquel Welch played call girls), The Naked Kiss, the Elvis Presley musical Paradise, Hawaiian Style and Nevada Smith starring Steve McQueen. Television utilized her as sexy scenery or a vapid foil on such series as The Twilight Zone, The Beverly Hillbillies, Burke's Law and Batman.
In her more mainstream prime, Edy earned second femme lead status next to James Farentino, Julie Sommars and Brian Bedford in the teasing comedy The Pad and How to Use It and Walter Matthau and Anne Jackson in The Secret Life of an American Wife, but things changed big time once she associated with producer/director Russ Meyer, her mentor-turned-husband. She was displayed front-and-center as a predatory porn star in his campy softcore erotica Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and The Seven Minutes, but he finally failed to make her anything but a cult figure.
She and Meyer divorced in 1975, and since then, she has been more or less promoting herself. The notorious publicity hound who could make even Jayne Mansfield wince a little, Edy has made annual cheesecake appearances (not usually in a positive way) opting for jaw-dropping bordello chic formal wear to get the flashbulbs popping at entertainment events. Her scantily-clad gowns have earned her numerous worst dressed awards from here to Timbuktu. In later years, she has occasionally departed exploitation with obvious roles in such films as Chained Heat, Lady Lust, Hollywood Hot Tubs, Nudity Required, Bad Girls from Mars and Snatch Masters 6. You have to give her credit or praise, Edy Williams certainly succeeded her way.