Willard Carroll "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is an American actor, comedian, producer, rapper, and songwriter. He has enjoyed success in television, film, and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him "the most powerful actor in Hollywood". Smith has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards.
In the late 1980s, Smith achieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show ran for six seasons (1990-96) on NBC and has been syndicated consistently on various networks since then. After the series ended, Smith moved from television to film, and ultimately starred in numerous blockbuster films. He is the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office, eleven consecutive films gross over $150 million internationally, and eight consecutive films in which he starred open at the number one spot in the domestic box office tally.
Smith is ranked as the most bankable star worldwide by Forbes. As of 2014, 17 of the 21 films in which he has had leading roles have accumulated worldwide gross earnings of over $100 million each, five taking in over $500 million each in global box office receipts. As of 2014, his films have grossed $6.6 billion at the global box office. He has received Best Actor Oscar nominations for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness.
Smith was born in West Philadelphia, the son of Caroline (Bright), a Philadelphia school board administrator, and Willard Carroll Smith, Sr., a refrigeration engineer. He grew up in West Philadelphia's Wynnefield neighborhood, and was raised Baptist. He has three siblings, sister Pamela, who is four years older, and twins Harry and Ellen, who are three years younger. Smith attended Our Lady of Lourdes, a private Catholic elementary school in Philadelphia. His parents separated when he was 13, but did not actually divorce until around 2000.
Smith attended Overbrook High School. Though widely reported, it is untrue that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); he never applied to college because he "wanted to rap." Smith says he was admitted to a "pre-engineering [summer] program" at MIT for high school students, but he did not attend. According to Smith, "My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college."
Smith started as the MC of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, with his childhood friend Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes as producer, as well as Ready Rock C (Clarence Holmes) as the human beat box. The trio was known for performing humorous, radio-friendly songs, most notably "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Summertime". They gained critical acclaim and won the first Grammy awarded in the Rap category (1988).
Smith spent money freely around 1988 and 1989 and underpaid his income taxes. The Internal Revenue Service eventually assessed a $2.8 million tax debt against Smith, took many of his possessions, and garnished his income. Smith was nearly bankrupt in 1990, when the NBC television network signed him to a contract and built a sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, around him.
The show was successful and began his acting career. Smith set for himself the goal of becoming "the biggest movie star in the world", studying box office successes' common characteristics.
Smith's first major roles were in the drama Six Degrees of Separation (1993) and the action film Bad Boys (1995) in which he starred opposite Martin Lawrence.
In 1996, Smith starred as part of an ensemble cast in Roland Emmerich's Independence Day. The film was a massive blockbuster, becoming the second highest grossing film in history at the time and establishing Smith as a prime box office draw. He later struck gold again in the summer of 1997 alongside Tommy Lee Jones in the summer hit Men in Black playing Agent J. In 1998, Smith starred with Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State.
He turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix in favor of Wild Wild West (1999). Despite the disappointment of Wild Wild West, Smith has said that he harbors no regrets about his decision, asserting that Keanu Reeves's performance as Neo was superior to what Smith himself would have achieved, although in interviews subsequent to the release of Wild Wild West he stated that he "made a mistake on Wild Wild West. That could have been better."
In 2005, Smith was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for attending three premieres in a 24-hour time span.
He has planned to star in a feature film remake of the television series It Takes a Thief.
On December 10, 2007, Smith was honored at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Smith left an imprint of his hands and feet outside the world-renowned theater in front of many fans. Later that month, Smith starred in the film I Am Legend, released December 14, 2007. Despite marginally positive reviews, its opening was the largest ever for a film released in the United States during December. Smith himself has said that he considers the film to be "aggressively unique". A reviewer said that the film's commercial success "cemented [Smith's] standing as the number one box office draw in Hollywood." On December 1, 2008, TV Guide reported that Smith was selected as one of America's top ten most fascinating people of 2008 for a Barbara Walters ABC special that aired on December 4, 2008.
In 2008 Smith was reported to be developing a film entitled The Last Pharaoh, in which he would be starring as Taharqa. It was in 2008 that Smith starred in the superhero movie Hancock.
Men in Black III opened on May 25, 2012 with Smith again reprising his role as Agent J. This was his first major starring role in four years.
On August 19, 2011, it was announced that Smith had returned to the studio with producer La Mar Edwards to work on his fifth studio album. Edwards has worked with artists such as T.I., Chris Brown, and Game. Smith's most recent studio album, Lost and Found, was released in 2005.
Smith and his son Jaden played father and son in two productions: the 2006 biographical drama The Pursuit of Happyness, and the science fiction film After Earth, which was released on May 31, 2013.
Smith starred opposite Margot Robbie in the romance drama Focus. He played Nicky Spurgeon, a veteran con artist who takes a young, attractive woman under his wing. Focus was released on February 27, 2015. Smith was set to star in the Sci-Fic thriller Brilliance, an adaptation of Marcus Sakey's novel of the same name scripted by Jurassic Park writer David Koepp. But he left the project.
Smith played Dr. Bennet Omalu of the Brain Injury Research Institute in the sports-drama Concussion, who became the first person to discover chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a football player's brain. CTE is a degenerative disease caused by severe trauma to the head that can be discovered only after death. Smith's involvement is mostly due to his last-minute exit from the Sci-Fi thriller-drama Brilliance. Concussion was directed by Peter Landesman and-bead filmed in Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It received $14.4 million in film tax credits from Pennsylvania. Principal photography started on October 27, 2014. Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw played his wife. Omalu served as a consultant.
As of November 2015, Smith is set to star in the independent drama Collateral Beauty, which will be directed by David Frankel. Smith will play a New York advertising executive who succumbs to an deep depression after a personal tragedy.
Nobel Peace Prize Concert December 11, 2009, in Oslo, Norway: Smith with wife Jada and children Jaden and Willow Smith married Sheree Zampino in 1992. They had one son, Trey Smith, born on November 11, 1992, and divorced in 1995. Trey appeared in his father's music video for the 1998 single "Just the Two of Us". He also acted in two episodes of the sitcom All of Us, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and on the David Blaine: Real or Magic TV special.
Smith married actress Jada Koren Pinkett in 1997. Together they have two children: Jaden Christopher Syre Smith (born 1998), his co-star in The Pursuit of Happyness and After Earth, and Willow Camille Reign Smith (born 2000), who appeared as his daughter in I Am Legend. Smith and his brother Harry own Treyball Development Inc., a Beverly Hills-based company named after Trey. Smith and his family reside in Los Angeles, California.
Smith was consistently listed in Fortune Magazine's "Richest 40" list of the forty wealthiest Americans under the age of 40.
Messing was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the daughter of Jewish American parents, Sandra (née Simons), who has worked as a professional singer, banker, travel and real estate agent, and Brian Messing, a sales executive for a jewelry manufacturer. When Messing was three, she moved with her parents and her older brother, Brett, to East Greenwich, a small town outside Providence, Rhode Island.
During her high school years, she acted (and sang) in a number of high school productions, including the starring role in the musical "Annie" and "Fiddler On the Roof." Messing took lessons in dance, singing, and acting. In 1986, she was Rhode Island's Junior Miss and competed in Mobile, Alabama in the America's Junior Miss scholarship program. While her parents encouraged her dream of becoming an actress, they also urged her to complete a liberal arts education before deciding on acting as a career. Following their advice, she attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
In 1990, after graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis with a bachelor's degree in theater arts, Messing gained admission to the elite Graduate Acting Program (which accepts only about 15 new students annually) at New York University, where she earned a master's degree in fine arts after three years.
In 1998, Messing played a lead role as the bio-anthropologist Sloan Parker on ABC's dramatic science fiction television series Prey. During this time her agent approached her with the pilot script for the television show Will & Grace. Messing was inclined to take some time off, but the script intrigued her, and she auditioned for the role of Grace Adler, beating out Nicollette Sheridan, who later guest-starred on the show as a romantic rival of Grace's. Will & Grace became a ratings success, and Messing gained renown.
In 2002, she was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People Magazine. TV Guide picked her as its "Best Dressed Woman" in 2003. Messing met her husband, Daniel Zelman (an actor and screenwriter), on their first day as graduate students at NYU. The two were married on September 3, 2000, and live in New York City. On April 7, 2004, Messing gave birth to their son, Roman Walker Zelman.
Vincent Phillip D'Onofrio was born on June 30, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York, to Phyllis, a restaurant manager and server, and Gene D'Onofrio, a theater production assistant and interior designer. He is of Italian descent and has two older sisters. He studied at the Actors Studio and the American Stanislavski Theatre. Vincent D'Onofrio is known as an "actor's actor". The wide variety of roles he has played and the quality of his work have earned him a reputation as a versatile talent.
His first paid role was in Off-Broadway's "This Property Is Condemned". He continued appearing in plays and worked as a bouncer, a bodyguard and a delivery man. In 1984, he made his Broadway debut in "Open Admissions", followed by work in numerous other stage plays. In 2012, D'Onofrio returned to teach at the Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute. As a film actor, D'Onofrio's career break came when he played a mentally unbalanced recruit in Full Metal Jacket, directed by the renowned Stanley Kubrick. For this role D'Onofrio gained nearly 70 pounds. He had a major role in Dying Young, and appeared prominently in the box-office smash Men in Black as the bad guy (Edgar "The Bug").
Other films of note in which he has appeared are Mystic Pizza, JFK, The Player, Ed Wood, The Cell, The Break-Up and Jurassic World. In 1996, D'Onofrio garnered critical acclaim along with co-star Renée Zellweger for The Whole Wide World, which he helped produce. He also made a guest appearance in The Subway, where he played an accident victim who could not be rescued and was destined to die. For this performance he won an Emmy nomination. In 2000, he both produced and starred in Steal This Movie, a biopic of radical leader Abbie Hoffman.
In 2001, D'Onofrio took the role which has likely given him his greatest public recognition: Det. Robert Goren, the lead character in the TV series Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Goren is based on Sherlock Holmes but, instead of relying upon physical evidence like Holmes, D'Onofrio's character focuses on psychology to identify the perpetrators, whom he often draws into confessing or yielding condemning evidence. He played the part for 10 years.
In his career D'Onofrio's various film characters have included a priest, a bisexual former porn star, a hijacker, a serial killer, Orson Welles, a space alien, a 1960s radical leader, a pulp fiction writer, an ingenious police investigator and Stuart Smalley's dope-head brother. His on-screen love interests have included Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Renée Zellweger, Marisa Tomei, Tracey Ullman, Rebecca De Mornay and Lili Taylor. One of his latest roles is in Marvel's Daredevil as Daredevil's nemesis, Wilson Fisk. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.
Lady Gaga, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, is an American songwriter, singer, actress, philanthropist, dancer and fashion designer.
Gaga was born on March 28, 1986 in Manhattan, New York City, to Cynthia Louise (Bissett) and Joseph Anthony Germanotta, Jr., an internet entrepreneur. Her father is of Italian descent, and her mother is of half Italian and half French-Canadian, English, German, and Scottish ancestry. Gaga was able to sing and play the piano from a young age. She attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart from age 11 where was bullied for her appearance (she was small and plumper than other girls with large front teeth) and eccentric habits.
By the age of 14, Gaga was performing at open mike nights in clubs and bars. By age 17, she had gained early admission to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. In addition to sharpening her songwriting skills, she composed essays and analytical papers on art, religion, social issues and politics. At the age of 19 Gaga withdrew from her studies and moved out of her parents' home in order to pursue a musical career. During this time she started a band which began to gain local attention.
After a brief partnership with talent scout Rob Fusari, which resulted in the creation of her stage name, Gaga was signed to Def Jam Records in 2006; however she was dropped from the label after just three months. Devastated, Gaga returned home, and became increasingly experimental: fascinating herself with emerging neo-burlesque shows, go-go dancing at bars dressed in little more than a bikini in addition to experimenting with drugs.
Gaga met performance artist Lady Starlight during this time; after a performance at Lollapalooza Festival in 2007 Gaga was signed by Vince Herbert to Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records. Having served as an apprentice songwriter under an internship at Famous Music Publishing, which was later acquired by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Gaga subsequently struck a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV. As a result, she was hired to write songs for Britney Spears and labelmates New Kids on the Block, Fergie, and the Pussycat Dolls. At Interscope, singer-songwriter Akon recognized her vocal abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio; Akon then convinced Interscope-Geffen-A&M Chairman and CEO Jimmy Iovine to form a joint deal by having her also sign with his own label Kon Live, making her his "franchise player."
In 2008 Gaga released her first album 'The Fame' to lukewarm radio play; Gaga toured around Europe and in gay clubs in the US to promote the album - however it was not until her first hit 'Just Dance' came to mainstream attention in 2009 that Gaga exploded onto the music scene.
Since then Gaga has gained numerous awards and nominations for a string of hits; her first album spawned several more smash hits ('Paparazzi' 'LoveGame' and 'Poker Face'); while touring the album Gaga wrote 'The Fame Monster', an EP examining the darker side to her new-found fame. The Fame Monster was released in 2009 and won multiple awards, spawning her most iconic single 'Bad Romance' as well as 'Telephone' and 'Alejandro'. During this time Gaga came under increased public and critical scrutiny for her eccentric and often bizarre style choices. Gaga embarked on her second tour, The Monster Ball; upon finishing in May 2011, the critically acclaimed and commercially accomplished tour ran for over one and a half years and grossed $227.4 million, making it one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time and the highest-grossing for a debut headlining artist. Concerts performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City were filmed for an HBO television special. The special accrued one of its five Emmy Award nominations and has since been released on DVD and Blu-ray.
In 2011 Gaga released her second full-length album 'Born this Way'; the album was received vastly more critically than her previous two for touching on themes of politics, sexuality, and religion. Despite this, the album's songs were praised critically, and Born This Way sold 1.108 million copies in its first week in the US, debuting atop the Billboard 200, and topping the charts in more than 20 other countries. In addition to exceeding 8 million copies in worldwide sales, Born This Way received 3 Grammy Award nominations, including her third consecutive for Album of the Year. In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth on Billboard's list of top moneymakers of 2011, grossing $25,353,039 dollars, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour.
At the end of April 2012, Gaga's Born This Way kicked off in Korea - the tour would last 2 years and take the singer to every continent of the globe. However in February 2012 the tour was abruptly cancelled; Gaga had a labral tear in her right hip which she had been nursing secretly for several weeks in the hopes that she would be able to continue the tour. After a performance in Toronto left her unable to walk and in considerable pain, she was taken to hospital for surgery and the tour was cancelled. Through to Jan. 17, the tour had grossed $168.2 million and moved 1.6 million tickets to 85 shows, according to Billboard Boxscore, with the Asian, European, and South American legs already completed in 2012. The North American leg, which was to wrap the tour and was almost completely sold out, would have likely put the tour at more than $200 million gross, easily in the top 20 tours of all time and probably in the top 15, according to Billboard. As it stands, Gaga finished sixth among all touring artists in 2012, with a gross of $125 million and attendance of more than 1.1 million, according to Boxscore.
Gaga wrote her third album, ARTPOP, released in 2013. Gaga made her acting debut in Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills, the sequel to his 2010 film Machete, and also appeared in Rodriguez's sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born in the small New England town of Kent, Connecticut, where he lived with his mother, Ann Perry (Sager), an admissions office worker, his father, Ronald Milton MacFarlane, a prep school teacher, and his sister Rachael MacFarlane, now a voice actress and singer. He is of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry, and descends from Mayflower passengers.
Seth attended and studied animation at the Rhode Island School of Design and, after he graduated, he was hired by Hanna-Barbera Productions (Now called Cartoon Network Studios) working as an animator and writer on the TV series Johnny Bravo and Cow and Chicken. He also worked for Walt Disney Animation as a writer on the TV series Jungle Cubs. He created The Life of Larry which was originally supposed to be used as an in-between on MADtv. Unfortunately the deal fell through but, a few months later, executives at FOX called him into their offices and gave him $50,000 to create a pilot for what would eventually become Family Guy.
Since Family Guy's debut, MacFarlane has since then went on to create two other television shows-American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. MacFarlane began to establish himself as an actor, voice actor, animator, writer, producer, director, comedian, and singer through out his career. MacFarlane has also written, directed and starred in Ted and its sequel Ted 2, and A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Melanie Griffith was born on August 9, 1957, in New York City, New York, to model and actress Tippi Hedren, and advertising executive and former actor Peter Griffith. Her mother, from Minnesota, is of Swedish, German, and Norwegian ancestry, and her father, from Maryland, was of English, as well as Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, descent.
Her parents' marriage ended in 1961 and Tippi came to Los Angeles to get a new start. Tippi caught the eye of the great director Alfred Hitchcock, who gave her starring roles in The Birds and Marnie. Tippi married her then-agent, Noel Marshall, in 1964 (they divorced in 1982), and Melanie grew up with three stepbrothers. Meanwhile, her father married Nanita Greene Samuels, with whom he had two more children: Tracy Griffith and Clay A. Griffith.
Melanie also grew up with tigers and lions, as Tippi and Noel were raising them for the movie Roar, in which the family later starred. Her career began as a model at just nine months old and she later appeared as an extra in Smith! and The Harrad Experiment, where she fell in love with her mother's co-star, Don Johnson. She was only fourteen years old, while he was a twice-divorced 22-year-old. Tippi took a very liberal approach and allowed Melanie to move in with Don at a tender age. Even though Melanie didn't like modeling, she continued to do so to pay the bills. One day, she went to meet with director Arthur Penn for what she thought was a modeling assignment. It was actually an audition for his film Night Moves, and Penn gave her the role of a runaway nymphet, which got her noticed in Hollywood. She didn't really want to be an actress, but Johnson encouraged her to do it. She agreed but was terrified of performing in front of the camera. Penn took a paternal interest in her, and she felt confident and gave a riveting performance, doing racy nude scenes. She was immediately typecast in more nymphet roles, with her beautiful nude body a permanent fixture in films like Smile and Joyride. She also married Johnson, but it ended shortly afterwards, possibly because her early movie success outshone his.
Unfortunately, as her career progressed, she became increasingly dependent on drugs and alcohol, a fact well known to studio executives, who stopped considering her for film roles. She started doing television work, and met her second husband, Steven Bauer, on the set of the TV movie She's in the Army Now. He helped her to overcome her addictions and got her to take acting classes with Stella Adler in New York. The classes paid off, and she returned to acting in feature films, when director Brian De Palma cast her as a porno actress in his murder mystery Body Double and her sexy, funny performance won her rave reviews and the Best Supporting Actress Award by the National Society of Film Critics. Jonathan Demme was so impressed with her performance that he gave her the title role in Something Wild without even auditioning her. The film became a cult favorite, with Melanie again getting critical plaudits and a Golden Globe nomination.
The birth of her first child, Alexander, in 1985, didn't help to save her struggling marriage, and she and Bauer separated shortly thereafter. Soon after, Melanie's career skyrocketed when Mike Nichols cast her in Working Girl, a box-office hit for which she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress and won the Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Comedy. However, her ongoing substance abuse problems almost destroyed her career yet again, and Nichols pushed her into a rehabilitation clinic. En route to the clinic she called ex-husband Johnson for support, and they reconciled after her release from the clinic. She got pregnant and they remarried in 1989, and soon thereafter their daughter Dakota Johnson was born.
A sober Melanie concentrated on her film career, but her competition was stiff since younger actresses like Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, and Demi Moore became major stars during the two years that Melanie was absent from the screen since "Working Girl." Worse, Melanie made some bad choices, such as The Bonfire of the Vanities. Even though she gave heartfelt performances in all her films, she was often miscast, with her breathy little-girl voice not helping matters in her starring roles as a spy in Shining Through and as a homicide detective going undercover in the Hassidic Jewish community in New York City in A Stranger Among Us. Melanie had other high-profile flops with Born Yesterday and Milk Money. It seemed like she was on the verge of a comeback when she received glowing reviews for her supporting role as a desperate housewife in Nobody's Fool, reuniting her with Bruce Willis, her co-star in "Bonfire", and Paul Newman, her co-star from The Drowning Pool. She returned to television and received a Golden Globe nomination for the mini-series Buffalo Girls. Her personal life was making headlines again, though, as she left Johnson because of his own substance-abuse problems, reconciled with him briefly when he became sober, only to leave him again, this time for Antonio Banderas, her married co-star from Two Much. Both she and Banderas created a scandal in 1995 with their torrid romance, and the tabloids followed their every move, including her divorce from Johnson and his divorce from wife Ana Leza. Melanie became pregnant with her third child, and she and Banderas married in 1996. Their daughter Stella Banderas was born, and the notorious couple were forgiven by the public and the media.
Melanie again tried to resurrect her career by signing onto the television series Me & George, but it never even aired. She turned to independent films and earned strong reviews for her role as a heroin user on the run in the crime drama Another Day in Paradise. She also acted in Woody Allen's Celebrity, and portrayed actress Marion Davies in the made-for-cable TV movie RKO 281, a part that garnered her both Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. Melanie also starred in Crazy in Alabama, which marked the directorial debut of her husband and produced by the couple's production company, Greenmoon Productions. Unfortunately, the film was yet another major flop for Melanie. As a result, film offers dried up. Melanie became dependent to pain killers, and returned to rehab in 2000. She wrote about her struggle and recovery in her journal on her official website.
In 2003, Melanie turned to the Broadway stage, and packed houses with her turn as the murderess "Roxie Hart" in the musical "Chicago," for which she received a rave review from the New York Times theater critic. It renewed her confidence, as she had never sang, danced or been on the Broadway stage before. In 2005 she surprised viewers by playing a sexy mom to two grown women in the TV series Twins, which was canceled after one season. Her career took another blow when her next attempt at a TV series, Viva Laughlin, was canceled after just two episodes. Melanie would not act again for the remainder of the decade, because, by self-admission, she couldn't obtain any worthwhile roles. In 2009, Melanie was back in rehab yet again for continued substance-abuse problems, and emerged after a three-month stay. Professionally, she was faced with more disappointment in 2012 when This American Housewife, a Lifetime series that Banderas produced for her to star in, never aired. She went back to the stage in 2012 and played mother to Scott Caan in a play that he wrote titled "No Way Around but Through." She impressed Caan enough to recommend her to the producers of his television show Hawaii Five-0. In 2014, she played a recurring role as his mother on the show.
Also in 2014, Melanie filed for divorce from Banderas citing "irreconcilable differences" after nearly twenty years together. She never publicly discussed her reasons for the divorce, and she didn't promote her feature film Automata, the final time that she acted with Banderas. It took a year for the divorce to be finalized, during which time, she and Banderas made one important appearance together at their daughter Stella's high school graduation. She also made another public appearance with another ex-husband, Don Johnson, on Saturday Night Live to promote their daughter Dakota, who was the host for that week. Dakota was promoting her star-making turn in Fifty Shades of Grey, thus carrying on the family tradition of being a film actress. Melanie maintains close ties with her three children and her mother Tippi Hedren. She is involved in various charities, including raising funds for Tippi's Shambala preserve, a refuge for wild animals. Melanie also runs a non-profit organization for benefiting burned children. She continues to seek out acting roles.
Rene Russo was born in Burbank, California, to Shirley (Balocca), a barmaid and factory laborer, and Nino Russo. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Her father, a sculptor and mechanic, left the family when Rene was just two, and thus her mother raised Rene and her sister, Toni, as a single mom. Her father was of Italian descent, and her mother was of Italian and German-English-Irish ancestry.
In junior high school, Rene was plagued with scoliosis and had to wear a full-torso brace. She was already a tall girl, which earned her the nickname "Jolly Green Giant" from her classmates. She entered Burroughs High School, along with classmate Ron Howard, and even though her brace had been removed, she was still somewhat of a loner. Unable to deal with academics and the school social scene, Rene dropped out of school in the tenth grade. Since money was tight, she began to take a variety of part-time jobs over the next 18 months, many for the free benefits. She sold refreshments at a movie theater, where she could see free movies; worked as a restaurant hostess, where her meals were free; and worked as a store cashier at Disneyland, where she had free admission. She often had two jobs at one time. Her last job, which was solely for the paycheck, was a full-time job at an eyeglass factory, inspecting contact lenses.
In 1972, the 17-year-old was attending a Rolling Stones concert when she was approached by John Crosby, a scout and manager from International Creative Management. He told her she should be a model and had test photos made of her. Within a few months, Rene signed a contract with Ford Modeling Agency and within a year had become a successful print and photographers model. Soon her modeling breakthrough came when she graced the cover of Vogue. By 1975, she had appeared on numerous magazine covers, was one of the most successful models in America, and was also starting to be seen in several TV commercials through the 1980s. She would define what a top fashion model was for years to come.
By her 30th birthday, demand for her began to dwindle, as it did for most models at that age. She did a few more commercials and then turned her back on modeling and show business for a while. Financially secure for the next several years, she began an intense period of literature and Christian theology. She also began to study theater and acting, and began appearing in theater roles at small regional theaters in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California.
Her television series debut came in 1987 with a supporting part on the short-lived TV series Sable. In 1989 she made her motion picture debut with the part of the lead characters girlfriend in the film Major League. Her subsequent roles were that of girlfriends and supportive wives in a few films, until her breakthrough as an Internal Affairs detective in Lethal Weapon 3. Rene Russo has been praised for her ability to hold her own against her major male co-stars, which have included Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner and Pierce Brosnan. Two of her performances within the last few years have gotten her recognition as both a major dramatic actress and a talented character actress. One was as the mother of a kidnapped son in Ransom. The other was as the cartoon femme fatale foreign spy in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Although the latter received mixed reviews among moviegoers and critics, Russo was praised for her performance of a role originally slated for Meryl Streep in 1992. Rene Russo has been married to screenwriter Dan Gilroy since 1992, and they have one daughter, named Rose. They reside in Brentwood, California.
John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry.
Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert. Until the ranch failed, Marion and his younger brother Robert E. Morrison swam in an irrigation ditch and rode a horse to school. When the ranch failed, the family moved to Glendale, California, where Marion delivered medicines for his father, sold newspapers and had an Airedale dog named "Duke" (the source of his own nickname). He did well at school both academically and in football. When he narrowly failed admission to Annapolis he went to USC on a football scholarship 1925-7. Tom Mix got him a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets. On the set he became close friends with director John Ford for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, some billed as John Wayne. His first featured film was Men Without Women. After more than 70 low-budget westerns and adventures, mostly routine, Wayne's career was stuck in a rut until Ford cast him in Stagecoach, the movie that made him a star. He appeared in nearly 250 movies, many of epic proportions. From 1942-43 he was in a radio series, "The Three Sheets to the Wind", and in 1944 he helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a Conservative political organization, later becoming its President. His conservative political stance was also reflected in The Alamo, which he produced, directed and starred in. His patriotic stand was enshrined in The Green Berets which he co-directed and starred in. Over the years Wayne was beset with health problems. In September 1964 he had a cancerous left lung removed; in March 1978 there was heart valve replacement surgery; and in January 1979 his stomach was removed. He received the Best Actor nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima and finally got the Oscar for his role as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. A Congressional Gold Medal was struck in his honor in 1979. He is perhaps best remembered for his parts in Ford's cavalry trilogy - Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande.
Miranda Richardson was born in Southport, Lancashire, England on March 3, 1958, to Marian Georgina (Townsend) and William Alan Richardson, a marketing executive. She has one sister, eight years her senior. Her parents and sister are not involved in the performing arts. At an early age she performed in school plays, having shown a talent and desire to "turn herself into" other people. She has referred to it as "an emotional fusion; you think yourself into them". This mimicry could be of school friends or film stars. She left school (Southport High School for Girls) at the age of 17, and originally intended becoming a vet. She also considered studying English literature in college, but decided to concentrate on drama and enrolled at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (as did many well-known British actors). After three years she graduated and moved into repertory theatre. She became affiliated with the Library Theatre in Manchester in 1979, where she became an assistant stage manager. She obtained her Equity card, and after several regional productions, first appeared on the London stage (Moving at Queens Theatre) in 1981. British television roles soon followed, and then film. Since then, Miranda has moved into the international arena, and has made films in America, France and Spain. Television work (on both sides of the Atlantic) continues, as does some stage work. Her roles are diverse, but powerful and engaging. She has been quoted as stating "what I basically like is doing things I haven't done before" and this continually comes through in the variety of roles she has played in her career. She is also selective in the roles she takes, being uninterested in performing in the standard Hollywood fare, and preferring more offbeat roles. She was approached to play the Glenn Close role in Fatal Attraction, but found it "regressive in its attitudes". Her attitude is summed up by a quote from an interview that appeared in the New York Times (Dec 27 1992): "I would rather do many small roles on TV, stage or film than one blockbuster that made me rich but had no acting. And if that's the choice I have to make, I think I've already made it". According to "1994 Current Biography Yearbook", she resides in South London with her two Siamese cats, Otis and Waldo. She has now moved to West London. Her hobbies include drawing, walking, gardening, fashion, falconry, and music. She, by her own admission, is a loner and lives rather modestly. An actor who studied with Ms Richardson at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre in the late 1970s described her as "a strong minded, specially gifted, rather pretty young woman who enjoys wearing jewelry. She wore toe rings, which in the late 1970s and especially in England, were a rarity and considered rather racy." He also remarked on her drive, even then, to be an actress of the highest caliber.
This beefy, genial-looking character actor was born Jon Kevin Fishburn in Los Angeles. Performing as a child from age 10, Tighe initially attended Pasadena City College. He later obtained a Master's Degree in Theater, then taught drama at USC. Living Bohemian-style out of a suitcase after he decided to pursue acting professionally, he was in the United Kingdom trying to obtain work at various prestigious theater companies when producer Jack Webb acquired his services for the Emergency! medical series alongside Robert Fuller, Julie London, Bobby Troup and Randolph Mantooth.
Tighe gained TV stardom as paramedic Roy DeSoto and the series lasted six years. Along with that came a spin-off animated series and some follow-up TV-movies. He returned to acting study in order to refresh his skills during the slow "post-Emergency" period and managed to work with such inspiring notables as Stella Adler. His perseverance paid off with a steady stream of gray-haired character roles starting in the 80s -- predominantly in rugged fare. Although he made his Broadway debut with "Open Admissions" in 1984, the show folded after only a couple of weeks. On film, however, Kevin did quite well by appearing in such high-profile movies as Matewan, where he first played a "bad guy," Eight Men Out, Road House, Another 48 Hrs., City of Hope, Newsies, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Jade and Mumford.
On TV he has had a number of prime support rules over the years playing everything from Thomas Jefferson and William Randolph Hearst to the Kansas patriarch who was senselessly slaughtered along with his family by the "In Cold Blood" killers. Known for his serious-minded roles, Kevin has tackled a number of generals, attorneys, governors, doctors, coaches, even psychics during his long career. He won the Canadian "Genie" Award for his supporting role in A Man in Uniform. His only child, Jennifer Tighe, is also an actress.
The child of professional dancers, Kim Darby began her career studying dance with her father, as well as Nico Charisse. At fourteen, she was granted special admission to Tony Barr's acting workshop at Desilu Studios on the Paramount Pictures lot. He wrote later that it was her remarkable openness, honesty, emotional readiness and focus that convinced him to bring her into his adult class. These traits have become the signature of her work in a career that has now spanned a period of more than forty years.
As a teenager, she earned her first acting roles in episodes of television shows, including Mr. Novak, Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour, Star Trek and The Fugitive. Her reputation continued to grow with more work in film and television.
She was twenty-one when producer Hal B. Wallis saw her in an episode of Run for Your Life and decided to offer her the coveted role of "Mattie Ross", opposite John Wayne's "Rooster Cogburn", in True Grit. The classic western earned Wayne his only Oscar and made Kim Darby a film star.
Ms. Darby went on to star in a variety of productions, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for her work in Generation, and an Emmy Nomination for her role in Rich Man, Poor Man. Her feature films include The Strawberry Statement, The Grissom Gang, Better Off Dead... and Mockingbird Don't Sing; television movies include The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb.
Still acting, since 1990, she has also been teaching her craft and is asked to give seminars at universities and film schools throughout the country. Her own training and lifelong experience over the last four decades has provided her with a rich perspective as well as a diverse collection of skills which she enjoys sharing with enthusiastic students.
Russell Brand was born on June 4, 1975, in Grays, Essex, England, the son of Barbara Elizabeth (Nichols) and Ronald Henry Brand, a photographer. An only child, his parents divorced when he was only six months old, and he was subsequently raised by his mother. Enduring a difficult childhood that saw him living with relatives while his mother was treated for cancer and only sporadically visited by his father, Brand left home at age 16. Accepted by the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in 1991, he was expelled during his first year for bad behaviour and drug use; by his own admission, he used a variety of illegal drugs and became addicted to heroin. After being expelled from the Drama Centre London during his final term in 1995, he switched his focus primarily to comedy from acting.
Brand's first significant stand-up appearances came in 2000, the same year he also became a video journalist for MTV, a job which he was subsequently fired from. Continuing to work both in TV and stand-up, he debuted his one-man show Better Now, an account of his heroin addiction, at the Edinburgh Festival in 2004. Brand became a popular British television star by appearing on Big Brother and hosting his own talk show and numerous other series, and in 2008 shot to fame worldwide as the rocker Aldous Snow in the hit comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. After an appearance in the Adam Sandler comedy Bedtime Stories, he reprised the character of Aldous in the comedy Get Him to the Greek, opposite Jonah Hill.
Brand also starred in the remake Arthur, opposite Helen Mirren, with whom he also starred in The Tempest, and lent his voice to the Easter Bunny in Hop and to Dr. Nefario in the animated feature film Despicable Me. He is reprising the role in Despicable Me 2, and will also co-star in a drama written and directed by Diablo Cody, starring alongside Julianne Hough and Holly Hunter. He also played Lonny in the all-star cast of the big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages.
Brand's writing debut, My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up, became a huge success in the United Kingdom. Subsequently published in the U.S. in 2009, it stayed on the New York Times' bestseller list for five weeks in a row. The follow up, My Booky Wook 2: This Time it's Personal, was published in October, 2010. In 2010, Brand received the British Comedy Award for Outstanding Contribution to Comedy and was honored in 2011 with the ShoWest Award for Comedy Star of the Year.
Brand married the pop star Katy Perry in 2010 in a traditional Hindu ceremony in Rajasthan, India; after 14 months, Brand filed for a divorce, which was officially granted in 2012.
Actor, producer, writer, and director Til Schweiger is Germany's best-known actor and also the country's most successful director. With more than 51 Million admissions no other German filmmaker drew more people to cinemas. He runs his own production company Barefoot Films based in Berlin, Germany.
Til Schweiger (born December 19, 1963) was raised along with his two brothers in his hometown Giessen. In his early years, Schweiger began studying German and Medicine. He decided to drop out of university to pursue his career as an actor and went to drama school from 1986-1989. After graduation, he played at several theaters as a stage actor to gain more experience.
In 1991, Schweiger landed his first lead role in Manta, Manta following his big breakthrough role on Maybe... Maybe Not with the support of Germany's renowned film producer and mentor Bernd Eichinger. In 1996, Til Schweiger founded his first film production company Mr. Brown Entertainment together with business partner and film producer Tom Zickler. Schweiger debuted as producer with Knockin' on Heaven's Door winning several Festival Awards. The road movie remains a cult favorite with audiences worldwide. Within the same year, Schweiger was the first foreign actor to win the "Polish Oscar" at the International Warsaw Film festival for his performance in in Bandyta. He has since built up acting credits in dozens of German movies including Der Eisbär, where Schweiger made his debut as director.
Judas Kiss was Schweiger's first role in an international film. He then appeared in several internationally acclaimed movies including SLC Punk!, The Replacement Killers, Driven, Intimate Affairs, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, King Arthur, New Year's Eve, and many more.
To this day, Schweiger has delivered a series of German-language hits and won numerous Awards as actor/writer/director/producer: Barefoot grossed about $7,7 million with 1,5 million admissions, Rabbit Without Ears was up to 2014 Schweiger's most successful film and earned some $74 million locally, followed by the sequel Rabbit Without Ears 2. In 2011, Schweiger wrote, produced and directed Kokowääh, which grossed $43 million, starring alongside his youngest daughter Emma. A sequel hit theaters in 2013.
In December 2014, Til Schweiger released the family-friendly dramedy Head Full of Honey , which he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in. It is his most successful film to date breaking the 6, 3 million admissions barrier of his 2007 hit Rabbit Without Ears.
Schweiger, who started his career in German TV, plays the lead role on hit local crimes series Tatort(Hamburg) (Scene of the Crime). His debut generated the best ratings for the long-running procedural in 20 years.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the middle of three siblings, Johnny began performing from the age of 5 at a small performing arts school, making his debut as a Chanukah candle.
Pursuing the acting profession, he appeared with success in many TV and film projects, handling both drama and comedy with finesse.
Johnny was what used to be called a Renaissance Man. He was not only a superb actor, but excelled in the other arts as well. He was a prolific writer, poet and painter.
He also was a philanthropist, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to worthy causes, as well as being an active member of a number of charitable organizations.
He had seen too many of his friends succumb to the curse of drug abuse, and so he became an outspoken advocate against drugs, using his celebrity status to speak to large groups of educators and law enforcement officials about the dangers of street and psychiatric drug abuse.
He created friends everywhere he went. And he went everywhere. Europe, Asia, South America. He slept with natives in grass huts in Southeast Asia, and was the first white man allowed passage to a sacred lake in Laos.
Of his many talents, one that he treasured was the mentoring of other artists. Many successful performers, some of whom have reached the top of their profession have ascribed their success to Johnny.
His most recent work includes Sons of Anarchy (two seasons), Felon, The Runaways, 186 Dollars to Freedom and Lovely Molly.
In late October 2011 he suffered head injuries from a motorcycle accident. Immediately thereafter his thinking and behavior took a serious turn for the worse. He was arrested on January 3, 2012 for allegedly trespassing at a neighbor's home. He was beaten violently in the head approximately 17 times before the police arrived, causing further injuries. In jail, following additional head injuries he was diagnosed by the prison medics as suffering from internal bleeding in the brain. Despite the diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury and despite never testing positive for drugs that year he was treated for psychosis and chemical dependency. Two more arrests followed, including near drowning (another traumatic brain incident). Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury include impaired judgement, sensitivity to light, and sudden inexplicable violent behavior. Typical of the misperception on the part of law enforcement officials was the often-quoted remark by the probation official who expressed that Johnny suffered from mental health issues as well as chemical dependency. Prior to his injuries Johnny had never had a brush with the law. And the toxicology report following his death revealed absolutely no drugs whatsoever in his system.
In late May of 2012 the Santa Monica Superior Court allowed his admission to Ridgeview, a drug rehab center in Alta Dena, California. Though a drug rehab facility, the rest and quiet were a tonic for him, and he gradually, over the summer, regained himself. He wrote, in a journal entry, "Felt more whole today. . .more complete. Like parts of myself had been stolen in my sleep and scattered all over the world and they've begun to return. So I think better, my thoughts aren't being sent off on their own." He began planning for a return to acting, via the stage, and spoke of possibly bringing Shakespeare to inner city kids. In August he tragically accepted the DA's offer to serve "just a couple more days in jail," in exchange for his freedom. The "couple days" became nearly two months, during which he suffered additional abuse and a violent downturn in spirits and health. Finally released in late September, he died in sad and disturbing circumstances on September 26, 2012.
Wim Wenders is an Oscar-nominated German filmmaker who was born Ernst Wilhelm Wenders on August 14, 1945 in Düsseldorf, which then was located in the British Occupation Zone of what became the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany, known colloquially as West Germany until reunification). At university, Wenders originally studied to become a physician before switching to philosophy before terminating his studies in 1965. Moving to Paris, he intended to become a painter.
He fell in love with the cinema but failed to gain admission to the French national film school. He supported himself as an engraver while attending movie houses. Upon his return to West Germany in 1967, he was employed by United Artists at its Düsseldorf office before he was accepted by the University of Television and Film Munich school for its autumn 1967 semester, where he remained until 1970. While attending film school, he worked as a newspaper film critic. In addition to shorts, he made a feature film as part of his studies, Summer in the City.
Wenders gained recognition as part of the German New Wave of the 1970s. Other directors that were part of the New German Cinema were Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog. His second feature, a film made from Peter Handke's novel The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, brought him acclaim, as did Alice in the Cities and Kings of the Road. It was his 1977 feature The American Friend ("The American Friend"), starring Dennis Hopper as Patricia Highsmith's anti-hero Tom Ripley, that represented his international breakthrough. He was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival for "The American Friend", which was cited as Best Foreign Film by the National Board of Review in the United States.
Francis Ford Coppola, as producer, gave Wenders the chance to direct in America, but Hammett (1982) was a critical and commercial failure. However, his American-made Paris, Texas (1984) received critical hosannas, wining three awards at Cannes, including the Palme d'Or, and Wenders won a BAFTA for best director. "Paris, Texas" was a prelude to his greatest success, 1987's Wings of Desire ("Wings of Desire"), which he made back in Germany. The film brought him the best director award at Cannes and was a solid hit, even spawning an egregious Hollywood remake.
Wenders followed it up with a critical and commercial flop in 1991, Until the End of the World ("Until the End of the World"), though Faraway, So Close! won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes. Still, is reputation as a feature film director never quite recovered in the United States after the bomb that was "Until the End of the World." Since the mid-1990s, Wenders has distinguished himself as a non-fiction filmmaker, directing several highly acclaimed documentaries, most notably Buena Vista Social Club and Pina, both of which brought him Oscar nominations.
Grammy-winning band Maroon 5's frontman Adam Noah Levine was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He is the son of Patsy (Noah), an admissions counselor, and Fredric Levine, who founded the retail chain M. Fredric. Adam's father's family is Jewish, while Adam's mother is of half Jewish (her own father) and half German and Scottish (her own mother) ancestry. His uncle, Timothy Noah, is a journalist. Adam began playing music with his junior-high friends guitarist, rather than the keyboardist (for which he is known in the band Maroon 5) Jesse Carmichael and bassist Mickey Madden. Their first gig was at a school dance and Levine was terribly shy so he played with his back to the audience. Ryan Dusick joined the band as drummer and the alternative rock band Kara's Flowers were born (1994). They released an album called "The Fourth World" (1997). Then, he headed to New York City with Carmichael to study music at Five Towns College on Long Island. While they were there, he was surrounded by new music scenes and influences which give him whole new perspective on songwriting and singing. He dropped out of school after a semester and headed back to California with Carmichael to reunite with their pals and develop their band. He began writing a bunch of songs that were inspired by his recently failed relationship. After adding in new guitarist James Valentine (moving Carmichael over to keyboards) Maroon 5 was officially born. The band released their debut album "Songs About Jane", which included international hits "This Love", "Sunday Morning" and "She Will Be Loved" (2002).
CCH Pounder (the CCH standing for Carol Christine Hilaria, her birth name). As can be said of other similarly styled actresses such as Alfre Woodard and Cicely Tyson, most of Pounder's characters are enriched with these same positive attributes and it is a testament to this actress' abilities that she continues on such a high plane in a nearly three-decade career.
Born on Christmas Day 1952 in Guyana, she was raised on a sugar cane plantation. Her parents moved to the States while she was still a young girl, but she and her sister were sent to a convent boarding school in Britain where they were introduced to art and the classics. Following high school graduation, she arrived in New York and studied at Ithaca College, where her acting talents were discovered. Regional and classical repertory theater followed, earning roles in such productions as "The Mighty Gents" with Morgan Freeman at the New York Shakespeare Festival and "Open Admissions," her Broadway debut. Her preference for a warmer climate led to her move to Hollywood in the late 1970s.
After bit roles in All That Jazz and I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, she found cult status in the art-house film Bagdad Cafe ("Bagdad Café" in the US) as the offbeat owner of a roadside café, but Pounder's prominence came with television. Usually cast as a confident, strong-minded professional, she is known for her understated intensity and earned an Emmy nomination for her stint on the hospital drama ER. She has performed in a number of highly acclaimed topical dramas, including Go Tell It on the Mountain, Common Ground, Murder in Mississippi, Funny Valentines and Boycott, for which a number of kudos have come her way.
A master musician, a film producer and actor, best known as the lead guitarist and occasionally lead vocalist of The Beatles, George Harrison was born February 25, 1943, in Liverpool, Merseyside, England. He was also the youngest of four children, born to Harold Harrison and Louise Harrison.
Like his future band mates, Harrison was not born into wealth. Louise was largely a stay-at-home mom while her husband Harold drove a school bus for the Liverpool Institute, an acclaimed grammar school that George attended and where he first met a young classmate, Paul McCartney. By his own admission, Harrison was not much of a student and what little interest he did have for his studies washed away with his discovery of the electric guitar and American rock-'n'-roll.
There were a lot of harmonies in the Harrison household. He had a knack of sorts for it by age 12 or 13, while riding a bike around his neighborhood and hearing Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel", playing from a nearby house. By the age of 14 George--who was a fan of such legends as , Harrison, who grew up in the likes of listening to such rock legends Carl Perkins, Little Richard and Buddy Holly--had purchased his first guitar and taught himself a few chords.
McCartney', who had recently joined up with another Liverpool teenager, John Lennon, in a skiffle group known as The Quarrymen, invited Harrison to see the band perform. Harrison and Lennon had a few things in common, such as the fact that they both attended Dovedale Primary School but didn't know each other. Their paths finally crossed in early 1958. McCartney had been egging the 17-year-old Lennon to allow the 14-year-old Harrison to join the band, but Lennon was reluctant; as legend has it, after seeing McCartney and Lennon perform, George was granted an audition on the upper deck of a bus, where he wowed Lennon with his rendition of popular American rock riffs.
The 17-year-old Harrison's music career was in full swing by 1960. Lennon had renamed the band The Beatles and the young group began cutting its rock teeth in the small clubs and bars around Liverpool and Hamburg, Germany. Within two years, the group had a new drummer, Ringo Starr, and a manager, Brian Epstein, a young record store owner who eventually landed the group a record contract with EMI's Parlophone label.
Before the end of 1962, Harrison and The Beatles recorded a song, "Love Me Do", that landed in the UK Top 20 charts. Early that following year, another hit, "Please Please Me," was released, followed by an album by the same name. "Beatlemania" was in full swing across England, and by early 1964, with the release of their album in the US and an American tour, it had swept across the States as well.
Largely referred to as the "Quiet Beatle" Harrison took a back seat to McCartney, Lennon and, to a certain extent, Starr. Still, he could be quick-witted, even edgy. During the middle of one American tour, the group members were asked how they slept at night with long hair.
From the get-go, Lennon-McCartney were primary lead vocalists. While the two spent most of the time writing their own songs, Harrison had shown an early interest in creating his own work. In the summer of 1963 he spearheaded his first song, "Don't Bother Me," which made its way on to the group's second album. From there on out, Harrison's songs were a staple of all Beatle records. In fact, some of the group's more memorable songs--e.g., "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something," which was the only Beatle song ever recorded by Frank Sinatra--were penned by Harrison.
However, his influence on the group and pop music in general extended beyond just singles. In 1965, while on the set of The Beatles' second film, Help!, Harrison took an interest in some of the Eastern instruments and their musical arrangements that were being used in the film. He soon developed a deep interest in Indian music. He taught himself the sitar, introducing the instrument to many western ears on Lennon's song, "Norwegian Wood"" He soon cultivated a close relationship with renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar. Other groups, including The Rolling Stones, began incorporating the sitar into some of their work. It could be argued that Harrison's experimentation with different kinds of instrumentation helped pave the way for such ground-breaking Beatle albums as "Revolver" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
Harrison's interest in Indian music soon extended into a yearning to learn more about eastern spiritual practices. In 1968 he led The Beatles on a journey to northern India to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Having grown spiritually and musically since the group first started, Harrison, who wanted to include more of his material on Beatle records, was clearly uneasy with the McCartney-Lennon dominance of the group. During the "Let It Be" recording sessions in 1969, Harrison walked out, staying away for several weeks before he was coaxed to come back with the promise that the band would use more of his songs on its records.
However, tensions in the group were clearly high. Lennon and McCartney had ceased writing together years before, and they, too, were feeling the need to go in a different direction. In January of 1970 the group recorded Harrison's "I Me Mine." It was the last song the four would ever record together. Three months later, McCartney announced he was leaving the band and The Beatles were officially over.
After the breakup of The Beatles, Harrison pursued a solo career. He immediately assembled a studio band consisting of ex-Beatle Starr, guitar legend Eric Clapton, keyboardist Billy Preston and others to record all the songs that had never made it on to The Beatles catalog. The result was a three-disc album, "All Things Must Pass". While one of its signature songs, "My Sweet Lord," was later deemed too similar in style to The Chiffons' 1963 hit "He's So Fine," forcing the guitarist to cough up nearly $600,000, the album as a whole remains Harrison's most acclaimed record.
Not long after the album's release, Harrison combined his charitable work and his continued passion for the east when he put together a series of ground-breaking benefit concerts at New York City's Madison Square Garden to raise money for refugees in Bangladesh. Known as the "Concert for Bangladesh", the shows, which featured Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, and Ravi Shankar, would go on to raise some $15 million for UNICEF, produced a Grammy-winning album, a successful documentary film (The Concert for Bangladesh) and laid the groundwork for future benefit shows like "Live Aid" and "Farm Aid".
Not everything about post-Beatle life went smoothly for Harrison, though. In 1974, his marriage to Pattie Boyd, whom he'd married eight years before, ended when she left him for Eric Clapton. His studio work struggled, too, from 1973-77, starting with, "Living in the Material World", "Extra Texture," and "33 1/3," all of which failed to meet sales expectations.
Following the release of that last album, Harrison took a short break from music, winding down his own label, Dark Horse Records--which he had started in 1974, and which had released albums by a number of other bands--and started his own film production company, Handmade Films. The company produced the successful Monty Python film Life of Brian and would go on to make 26 other films before Harrison sold his interest in the company in 1994.
In 1979, he returned to the studio to release his self-titled album. It was followed two years later by, "Somewhere in England," which was still being worked on at the time of John Lennon's assassination in December of 1980. The record eventually included the Lennon tribute track, "All Those Years Ago," a song that reunited ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with ex-Wings members Denny Laine and Linda McCartney. While the song was a hit, the album, its predecessor and its successor, "Gone Troppo," weren't. For Harrison the lack of commercial appeal and the constant battles with music executives proved draining and prompted another studio hiatus.
A comeback of sorts came in November 1987, however, with the release of the album "Cloud Nine," produced by Jeff Lynne (of Electric Light Orchestra). The album turned out several top-charting hits, including "Got My Mind Set On You"-- remake of the 1962 song by Rudy Clark--and "When We Was Fab," a song that reflected on the life of Beatlemania, with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, who was dressed up as a walrus, but was a camera shy, in February 1988. Later that year Harrison formed The Traveling Wilburys. The group consisted of Harrison, Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, and spawned two successful albums. Buoyed by the group's commercial success, Harrison took to the road with his new bandmates in 1992, embarking on his first international tour in 18 years.
Not long afterwards he was reunited with McCartney and Starr for the creation of an exhaustive three-part release of a Beatles anthology--which featured alternative takes, rare tracks and a John Lennon demo called "Free as a Bird," that the three surviving Beatles completed in the studio. The song went on to become the group's 34th Top 10 single. After that, however, Harrison largely became a homebody, keeping himself busy with gardening and his cars at his expansive and restored home in Henley-on-Thames in south Oxfordshire, England.
Still, the ensuing years were not completely stress-free. In 1997, Harrison, a longtime smoker, was successfully treated for throat cancer. Eighteen months later, his life was again put on the line when a deranged 33-year-old Beatles fan somehow managed to circumvent Harrison's intricate security system and broke into his home, attacking the musician and his wife Olivia with a knife. Harrison was treated for a collapsed lung and minor stab wounds. Olivia suffered several cuts and bruises.
In May 2001, Harrison's cancer returned. There was lung surgery, but doctors soon discovered the cancer had spread to his brain. That autumn, he traveled to the US for treatment and was eventually hospitalized at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. He died November 29, 2001, at ex-bandmate McCartney's house in Los Angeles, at aged 58, with his wife and son at his side.
Just one year after his death, Harrison's final studio album, "Brainwashed," was released. It was produced by Lynne, Harrison's son Dhani Harrison and Harrison himself, and featured a collection of songs he'd been working at the time of his death. Dhani finished putting the album together and it was released in November of 2002.
Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden, to Anna Lovisa (Johansdotter), who worked at a jam factory, and Karl Alfred Gustafsson, a laborer. She was fourteen when her father died, which left the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store. The store used her as a model in its newspaper ads. She had no film aspirations until she appeared in short advertising film at that same department store while she was still a teenager. Erik A. Petschler, a comedy director, saw the film and gave her a small part in his Luffar-Petter. Encouraged by her own performance, she applied for and won a scholarship to a Swedish drama school. While there she appeared in at least one film, En lyckoriddare. Both were small parts, but it was a start. Finally famed Swedish director Mauritz Stiller pulled her from the drama school for the lead role in The Saga of Gösta Berling. At 18 Greta was on a roll.
Following The Joyless Street both Greta and Stiller were offered contracts with MGM, and her first film for the studio was the American-made Torrent, a silent film in which she didn't have to speak a word of English. After a few more films, including The Temptress, Love and A Woman of Affairs, Greta starred in Anna Christie (her first "talkie"), which not only gave her a powerful screen presence but also garnered her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress (she didn't win). Later that year she filmed Romance, which was somewhat of a letdown, but she bounced back in 1931, landing another lead role in Mata Hari, which turned out to be a major hit.
Greta continued to give intense performances in whatever was handed her. The next year she was cast in what turned out to be yet another hit, Grand Hotel. However, it was in MGM's Anna Karenina that she gave what some consider the performance of her life. She was absolutely breathtaking in the role as a woman torn between two lovers and her son. Shortly afterwards, she starred in the historical drama Queen Christina playing the title character to great acclaim. She earned an Oscar nomination for her role in the romantic drama Camille, again playing the title character. Her career suffered a setback the following year in Conquest, which was a box office disaster. She later made a comeback when she starred in Ninotchka, which showcased her comedic side. It wasn't until two years later she made what was to be her last film, Two-Faced Woman, another comedy. But the film drew controversy and was condemned by the Catholic Church and other groups and was a box office failure, which left Garbo shaken.
After World War II Greta, by her own admission, felt that the world had changed perhaps forever and she retired, never again to face the camera. She would work for the rest of her life to perpetuate the Garbo mystique. Her films, she felt, had their proper place in history and would gain in value. She abandoned Hollywood and moved to New York City. She would jet-set with some of the world's best-known personalities such as Aristotle Onassis and others. She spent time gardening and raising flowers and vegetables. In 1954 Greta was given a special Oscar for past unforgettable performances. She even penned her biography in 1990.
On April 15, 1990, Greta died of natural causes in New York and with her went the "Garbo Mystique". She was 84.
Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born into an unconventional a family at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents, James "Shamus" Sullivan and Edith "Biddy" Lanchester, were socialists - very active members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) in a rather broad sense and did not believe in the institution of marriage and being tied to any conventions of legality for that matter. Her mother had actually been committed to an asylum in 1895 by her father and older brothers because of her unmarried state with James. The incident received worldwide press as the "Lanchester Kidnapping Case."
Elsa had a great desire to become a classical dancer and to that end at age 10 her mother enrolled her at the famed Isadora Duncan's Bellevue School in Paris in 1912. But the uncertainties of WW1 brought her home after only two years. At age 12, she was sent to a co-educational boarding school in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, England, to teach dance classes in exchange for her education and board. In 1918, she was hired as a dance teacher at Margaret Morris's school on the Isle of Wight.
Next to dance, she loved the music halls of the period, so in 1920 she debuted in a music hall act as an Egyptian dancer. About the same time she founded the Children's Theater in Soho, London and taught there for several years. She made her stage debut in 1922 in the West End play Thirty Minutes in a Street. In 1924 she and her partner, Harold Scott, opened a London nightclub called the Cave of Harmony. They performed one-act plays by Pirandello and Chekhov and sang cabaret songs. She would later collect and record these and many others. The spot was frequented by literati like Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells and also James Whale, working in London theater and soon to be directing on Broadway and Hollywood's most famous horror films. Lanchester kept busy including, on her own admission, posing nude for artists. During a 1926 comic performance in the Midnight Follies at London's Metropole, a member of the British Royal family walked out as she sang, "Please Sell No More Drink to My Father". She closed her nightclub in 1928 as her film career began in earnest.
Perhaps not beautiful in the more conventional sense, Lanchester was certainly pretty as a young woman with a turned-up nose that gave her a pert, impish expression, all the more striking with her large, expressive dark eyes and full lips. She had a lithe figure that she carried with the assuredness of her dancing background. Her voice was bright and distinctive, and had a delightful rush and trill that had an almost Scottish burr quality. What clicked on stage would do the same in the movies.
Her first film appearance was actually in an amateur movie by friend and author Evelyn Waugh called The Scarlet Woman: An Ecclesiastical Melodrama. Her formal film debut was in the British movie One of the Best. She continued stage work and became associated in 1927 with a rather self-possessed but keenly dedicated actor, Charles Laughton. He appeared with her in three of four films Lanchester did in 1928. Three of these were written for her by H.G. Wells). They did a few plays as well and wed in 1929. According to Lancester, after two years, she discovered he was homosexual but they remained married until his death in 1962. Lanchester declared in a 1958 interview that she kept to a separate career path from her husband. They were never an on-screen team but appeared together on occasion -- moving through 1931 with several smart play-like films including Potiphar's Wife with Laurence Olivier. She had done the play Payment Deferred in London in 1930 and followed it to Broadway in 1931.
MGM offered her a contract in 1932. In 1933 Alexander Korda was casting his The Private Life of Henry VIII. and decided that Laughton was the perfect choice - and his wife would be just as perfect as one of Henry's six wives. Elsa's versatility pointed to a part with some comedic elements and fitting more into a caricature. She looked most like Hans Holbein's famous portrait of Anne of Cleves (Henry's fourth wife who was actually somewhat more homely than the painter depicted). In costume Lanchester was charming if not striking. Her interpretation of Anne was a perfect integration with herself, and her scene with Laughton informally playing cards on the marriage bed and deciding on annulment is a highpoint of the movie.
Of course, it would be hard to mention her film career of the 1930s without mentioning the one role that would forever dog her, Bride of Frankenstein. Having come to Hollywood with Laughton in 1932 (but not permanently until 1939), Lanchester did only a few films up to 1935 and was disappointed enough with Hollywood's reception to return to London for a respite. She was quickly called back by old friend from London, stage and film associate James Whale, now the noted director of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. He wanted her for two parts in Bride: author Mary Shelley and the bride. A central joke of the movie build-up was the tag lines: "WHO will be The Bride of Frankenstein? WHO will dare?"
Indeed, it was no honeymoon for her. For some ten days, Lanchester was wrapped in yards of bandage and covered in heavy makeup. The stand-on-end hairdo was accomplished by combing it over a wire mesh cage. Lanchester was in real agony with her eyes kept taped wide open for long takes - and it showed in her looks of horror. Her monster's screaming and hissing sounds (based on the sounds of Regents Park swans in London) were taped and then run backward to spook-up the effect. She was delightfully melodramatic and picturesque as Wollstonecraft, and her bride would become iconic. Many have considered Bride of Frankenstein the best of the golden age horror movies.
Lanchester stood out in her next movie with Laughton the next year, Korda's dark Rembrandt, but she only did a few more films for the remainder of the decade. Through the 1940s she was doubly busy - a couple of films per year while regenerating her beloved musical revue sketches. She performed for 10 years at the Turnabout Theater in Hollywood, using old London music hall/cabaret songs and others written for her. Later she would have to split her time further doing a similar act at a supper club called The Bar of Music. By the later 1940s she had become rather matronly, and the roles would settle appropriately. But she always lent her sparkle, as with her charming maid Matilda in The Bishop's Wife. She would be nominated for best supporting actress in Come to the Stable.
She entered the 1950s busy with road touring of her nightclub act with pianist J. Raymond Henderson (who went by "Ray" and who is sometimes confused with popular songwriter Ray Henderson). There was a series of tours to complement Laughton's famous reading tours, called Elsa Lanchester's Private Music Hall which ended in 1952; Elsa Lanchester--Herself which ended in 1961; and once more in 1964 at the Ivar Theater. She was equally busy with a stock of film roles and a large share of TV playhouse theater.
She had made ten movies with Laughton, the last of which, Witness for the Prosecution garnered her second supporting actress nomination. But her dizzy Aunt Queenie Holroyd of Bell Book and Candle is a fond remembrance of that time.
With the two decades from the 1960s to early 1980s, Lanchester was a fixture on episodic TV and an institution in Disney and G-rated fare -- perhaps a bit ironic for the unconventional Lanchester. She wrote two autobiographies: Charles Laughton and I (1938) and Elsa Lanchester: Herself (1983), both recalling nearly 100 roles before the camera.
Elsa Lanchester remained humorously reflective in regard to her film career: "...large parts in lousy pictures and small parts in big pictures." It was the mix of silly, bawdy, and outrageous in her revues that was her great joy: "I was content because I was fully aware that I did not like straight acting but preferred performing direct to an audience. You might call what I do vaudeville. Making a joke, especially impromptu, and getting a big laugh is just plain heaven."
Veronica Lake was born as Constance Frances Marie Ockleman on November 14, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the daughter of Constance Charlotta (Trimble) and Harry Eugene Ockelman, who worked for an oil company as a ship employee. Her father was of half German and half Irish descent, and her mother was of Irish ancestry. While still a child, Veronica's parents moved to Florida when she was not quite a year old. By the time she was five, the family had returned to Brooklyn. When Connie was only twelve, tragedy struck when her father died in an explosion on an oil ship. One year later her mother married Anthony Keane and Connie took his last name as her own. In 1934, when her stepfather was diagnosed with tuberculosis, the family moved to Saranac Lake, where Connie Keane enjoyed the outdoor life and flourished in the activities of boating on the lakes, skating, skiing, swimming, biking around Moody Pond and hiking up Mt Baker. The family made their home in 1935 at 1 Watson Place, (now 27 Seneca Street) then they moved to 1 Riverside Drive,(now Lake Kiwassa Road). Both Connie and Anthony benefited from the Adirondack experience and in 1936 the family left the Adirondacks and moved to Miami, FL., however, the memories of those carefree Saranac Lake days would always remain deeply rooted in her mind.
Two years later, Connie graduated from high school in Miami. Her natural beauty and charm and a definite talent for acting prompted her mother and step-father to move to Beverly Hills, California, where they enrolled her in the well known Bliss Hayden School of Acting in Hollywood. Connie had previously been diagnosed as a classic schizophrenic and her parents saw acting as a form of treatment for her condition. She showed remarkable abilities and did not have to wait long for a part to come her way.
Her first movie was as one of the many coeds in the RKO film, Sorority House in 1939. It was a minor part, to be sure, but it was a start. Veronica quickly followed up that project with two other films. All Women Have Secrets and Dancing Co-Ed, both in 1939, were again bit roles for the pretty young woman from the East Coast, but she did not complain. After all, other would-be starlets took a while before they ever received a bit part. Veronica continued her schooling, in 1940, while taking a bit roles in two more films, Young as You Feel and Forty Little Mothers. Prior to this time, she was still under her natural name of Constance Keane. Now, with a better role in 1941's I Wanted Wings, she was asked to change her name and Veronica Lake was born. Now, instead of playing coeds, she had a decent, speaking part. Veronica felt like an actress. The film was a success and the public loved this bright newcomer.
Paramount, the studio she was under contract with, then assigned her to two more films that year, Hold Back the Dawn and Sullivan's Travels. The latter received good reviews from the always tough film critics. As Ellen Graham, in This Gun for Hire the following year, Veronica now had top billing. She had paid her dues and was on a roll. The public was enamored with her. In 1943, Veronica starred in only one film. She portrayed Lieutenant Olivia D'Arcy in So Proudly We Hail! with Claudette Colbert. The film was a box-office smash. It seemed that any film Veronica starred in would be an unquestionable hit. However, her only outing for 1944, The Hour Before the Dawn would not be well-received by either the public or the critics. As Nazi sympathizer Dora Bruckmann, Veronica's role was dismal at best. Critics disliked her accent immensely because it wasn't true to life. Her acting itself suffered because of the accent. Mediocre films trailed her for all of 1945. It seemed that Veronica was dumped in just about any film to see if it could be salvaged. Hold That Blonde!, Out of This World, and Miss Susie Slagle's were just a waste of talent for the beautiful blonde. The latter film was a shade better than the previous two. In 1946, Veronica bounced back in The Blue Dahlia with Howard Da Silva. The film was a hit, but it was the last decent film for Veronica. Paramount continued to put her in pathetic movies. After 1948, Paramount discharged the once prized star and she was out on her own. In 1949, she starred in the Twentieth Century film Slattery's Hurricane. Unfortunately, another weak film. She was not on the big screen again until 1952 when she appeared in Stronghold. By Veronica's own admission, the film "was a dog." From 1952 to 1966, Veronica made television appearances and even tried her hand on the stage. Not a lot of success for her at all. By now alcohol was the order of the day. She was down on her luck and drank heavily. In 1962, Veronica was found living in an old hotel and working as a bartender. She finally returned to the big screen in 1966 in Footsteps in the Snow. Another drought ensued and she appeared on the silver screen for the last time in 1970's Flesh Feast - a very low budget film.
On July 7, 1973, Veronica died of hepatitis in Burlington, Vermont. The beautiful actress with the long blonde hair was dead at the age of 50.
Dan Levy began his television career as a co-host of MTV Canada's flagship show MTV Live and later co-wrote, co-hosted, and co-produced the critically acclaimed ratings hit The After Show and its various incarnations including The Hills: The After Show and The City: Live After Show. Levy also wrote, produced, and starred in his own Christmas Special for MTV, Daniel Levy's Holi-Do's & Don'ts for MTV and co-hosted the MTV Movie Awards Red Carpet, the X-Factor pre-show, and national coverage of the Vancouver Olympic Games for CTV. Levy's acting roles include the Canadian TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation and the thriller Off Line. He made his film debut opposite Tina Fey in Admission.
In 2013, Levy formed Not A Real Company Productions (with his father Eugene Levy and principals Andrew Barnsley and Fred Levy) to produce Schitt's Creek, a half-hour single cam comedy for CBC/ITV. Levy is the co-creator, co-executive producer, and writer of Schitt's Creek and stars alongside Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, and Chris Elliott.
Ashley Fink was born in Houston, Texas and began acting at a very early age. By the time she reached the age of 2, she was putting on full productions for her parents: she was no dummy, though - she charged them admission. As luck would have it, her family ended up moving to Los Angeles where Ashley began attending a performing arts high school. From there, she began performing in a string of national tours as leads in The Wizard of Oz (as the Lion) and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (as Lucy), to name just two. Hollywood soon found Ashley when she starred in the Tribeca Film Festival hit, Fat Girls. The film won many awards for her, and Ashley enjoyed a international film festival tour. Since that time, Ms. Fink has made multiple TV appearances on many shows such as "ER", "Hung", "Huge", and most notably as fan favorite Lauren Zizes on FOX's hit show "Glee." Some of her personal favorite film credits include the indie horror, cult hit, All About Evil, as well as the Glee LIVE 3D Concert film. Ashley is very proud to be a major player in both the 24 Hour Plays and 24 Hour Musicals, both of which benefit urban arts education. Ashley has also recently broken into filmmaking herself by producing and starring in two short films that enjoyed their world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and 2014 respectively. She resides in Los Angeles with her cat, Fred.
Felissa Rose Esposito grew up in New York always wanting to perform. At the age of 13, she landed the role of Angela in the cult film Sleepaway Camp. At the age of 17, she applied for early admission to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and was admitted that fall. Attending The Lee Strasberg institute, she began formal training as a serious actress.
Performing in plays around Manhattan put her hard work to the test. Felissa played Denise Savage in Savage in "Limbo," Karen in "Phone Sex," Renée in David Henry Hwang's "M.Butterfly," Willie in "This Property is Condemned," Desdemona in William Shakespeare's "Othello," and many more. Film work includes Woody Allen's Another Woman, Pain and Suffering, The Night We Never Met, and MTV's The Party Phone Series opposite Adam Sandler. She is currently working with NY Dinner Theater and plays Louise in Disorganized Crime as well as pursuing TV and film work.
Sayani Gupta, (pronounced as Shayoni) born and brought up in Kolkata, is a diverse individual who fine tuned skills in the segment of performing arts. Post her primary education and schooling, she moved cities for her college education to graduate from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi. Sayani is the daughter of Maitreyi & (late) Kamal Gupta. Her father was a gifted musician and played numerous instruments. He was with the All India Radio alongside being a singer, composer and lyricist. He was one of the pioneers in bringing FM Radio to India. Raised in a musically inclined family, Sayani trained in Bharatanatyam for 17 years from various Gurus including Thankamani Kutti in Kalamandalam. She was also a part of the theatre group Nandikar and regularly took part in theatre and further moved on to do multiple projects with renowned theatre veterans such as MK Raina in Delhi.
An ECA student in college, Sayani was part of the Dance, Drama, Debating and Music societies. She is trained in Modern Dance, Ballet, Kallaripayatu (Indian martial arts). Post her graduation, Sayani wanted to stay in Delhi and continue with theatre and dance however knowing survival was key, she shifted careers to take up a job with an infrastructure research firm called Indian Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd where she dabbled in Marketing and Sales, which was far removed from arts. With sheer ambition and intelligence to match, Sayani evolved within the firm with 6 promotions in the span of a year. Feeling overworked and finding no time to indulge in the real profession she had always dreamed of doing, which was theatre, she decided to chase her passion instead. Her growing interest in cinema inspired her to fill up the admission form for The Film and Television Institute of India, Pune where she completed 3 years and specialised in acting. This was life changing. Thereafter, she moved to Mumbai in September 2011
Sayani's last release was "Margarita with a straw", which has been globally acclaimed and creating huge buzz in numerous film festivals. Here she plays the lead opposite Kalki Koechlin, etching the character of a feisty young activist from New York who also happens to be blind. MWAS is directed by Shonali Bose and produced by Viacom 18.
Her latest release is FAN with YRF directed by Maneesh Sharma this month. She is currently shooting for JAGGA JASOOS with UTV directed by Anurag Basu and has just wrapped BAAR BAAR DEKHO directed by Nitya Mehra for Excel entertainment. The other two releases are PARCHED directed by Leena Yadav and Tathagat directed by Manav Kaul.
Sayani's debut film in 2012, was Second Marriage Dot Com where she played the female lead, received a lot of critical acclaim. The film was directed by Gaurav Punjwani. In 2013, she featured in the Bengali film Tasher Desh, which was directed by Q (of Gandu fame) and produced by Anurag Kashyap.
Recently, Sayani was seen in the plays like 'Trivial Disasters' & 'Noises Off' which were both directed by Atul Kumar. Trivial Disasters featured Bollywood names like Purab Kohli, Kalki Koechlin, Richa Chadda and Cyrus Sahukar and was showcased in various cities across India and Singapore. The other play she is part of is called Cock which was directed by Manish Gandhi and written by Mike Bartlett.
Sayani has done many short films like Call Waiting directed by Anubhuti Kashyap, Bubbles and Stars as part of the Shuruyat Ka Interval, a collection of 8 shorts produced by Humara Movies, Bunny directed by Vasan Bala as part of the launch of Terribly Tiny Talkies, Leeches directed by Payal Sethi and Just Friends directed by Arun Sukukar. Leeches just premiered at the Tempura film festival in France, Friss Hus Budapest, Hungary and playing at IFFLA this month.
Margarita with a straw has won several awards across the globe and has received unprecedented acclaim in the country and abroad. MWAS had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014. And her upcoming film Parched is also about to see it's world premiere at TIFF.
Sayani has a passion for Photography, Travel, Dance and Folk Music. She is trained in Bharatnatyam, Contemporary and Modern dance. Always a student of cinema, she finds deep interest in assisting and volunteers in various departments of film making from art direction, camera, costumes, casting etc.
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.
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
Dhaffer, sometimes billed as Dhafer, was born in Tunisia and, after leaving school, played professional football in the Tunisian league. However he decided that he wanted to take up acting and came to Britain, with, on his own admission, virtually no command of the English language, and learned his dramatic skills at the Birmingham School of Acting, from where he graduated in 2002. A year later he was in the television soap 'Dream Team' where, appropriately he was cast as the captain of a football side. Though he has all too often been cast as a Middle Eastern terrorist in his television roles, Dhaffer is an accomplished linguist and speaks Arabic, French and Spanish. In 2008 he appeared in a non-terrorist role in 'A Touch of Frost', but he still ended up being murdered.
Taylor Roberts is an American actress, poet, and founder of Porphyrogene Skincare.
A North Carolina girl at heart, Taylor was named for her Mother's side of the family. The Taylors were original settlers of Carolina and Virginia, and Taylor's grandfather was a cousin of the late actress, Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
Formerly an accomplished ballet dancer, Taylor Roberts came of age in the highly disciplined dance field, performing with such companies as the Royal Ballet of London and training at the prestigious Kirov Academy of Ballet.
On her first film audition in Manhattan Roberts booked the role of Louise in Mona Lisa Smile, directed by Mike Newell and starring Julia Roberts.
Soon after, Taylor was personally invited to participate in a series of staged readings organized by Al Pacino and Patrice Chéreau. Over the span of two years Taylor contributed her talents to Betsy and Napoleon, playing the title role of Betsy to Pacino's Napoleon. She considers these readings a highlight of her early career, working alongside Mr. Pacino, F. Murray Abraham, Scarlett Johansson, Carol Kane, Sam Rockwell, Eric Stoltz, and Bebe Neuwirth, and produced by Colleen Camp. Taylor so impressed Pacino that he personally invited her back for several readings over the years, even asking her to help him rehearse for the Merchant of Venice, reading Portia to his Shylock.
During the success of these readings the buzz started to grow. Soon after, Roberts tackled the challenging role of Emily, a mentally challenged savant, in Melissa Painter's, Admissions. In the film Taylor gracefully fashioned the character based on research and work with savants in and around Los Angeles. The film also starred Lauren Ambrose, Amy Madigan, Christopher Lloyd and John Savage.
More exposure came for Roberts as Camilla Barnes on Law & Order: Criminal Intent in the episode, Shrink-Wrapped. Proving her versatility she went against her young ingénue demeanor to play the surprise murderer alongside actors Vincent D'Onofrio, Margaret Colin, and Brent Spiner
Roberts attended the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts studying both ballet and receiving her degree in Theatre working under then Dean of Drama, Gerald Freedman. On stage she has tackled such roles as Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like It, Emily in Our Town, Nastya in Gorky's The Lower Depths, and Abigail Adams in 1776.
A hiatus from acting followed due to illness.
Eventually, Roberts returned to acting with television roles on Loiter Squad (2012), Killing Kennedy (2013), and an upcoming series for AMC Television (2014). She'll be collaborating with longtime friend and director Josh Boone (director)with a supporting role in his third feature film, Pretenders.
Alongside her acting career Taylor's fashion and commercial work has paired her with various designers and companies including ESPRIT, La Senza Swimwear, Swedish TV1, Verizon, Stylehouse, and more. She can be seen on the cover of the premiere issue of Relish Magazine and Orange County Bride Magazine.
In 2012 Taylor published her first book of poetry, Bombshell Bohemia. In 24 hours the book rose to Amazon's Top 100 list for Poetry Best-Sellers.
Born in the capital of Romania, Bucharest, Ingrid attended the prestigious German College "Goethe". There, besides the basic German language, she also studied English, French and Latin. During college she started acting, winning the first audition she went to, for an international commercial, with over 300 girls in the competition. Shortly after that, she got her first big part in one of Romania's first sitcoms, "Casatorie de proba" ("Probation Marriage")2004, playing the part of "Flori" a smart but funny teenager. Her first movie role, she plays alongside Ben Kingsley in "Bloodrayne" at only 16. After finishing college, she enrolled at the Hyperion Acting University where she got the highest score on her admission. During that she got to play the part of "Viviana" in the movie - "Tales From The Golden Age", directed by Cristian Mungiu, winner of the "Palme d'Or" at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. "Tales From The Golden Age" was nominated 6 times at the Cannes Film Festival. Finishing the University on the same high note, Ingrid continued the streak of good films, taking on the part of "Selena" in the movie "Periferic"(Outbound). Wanting to expand her horizon she took parts in big Hollywood movie productions, such as "The Dark Prince" where she plays "Minerva" alongside Jon Voight, and her last film directed by Terry Gilliam, "The Zero Theorem". Although very young she already got to act under the guidance of great film directors, and there's still more to come.
Pete Wentz, the bassist and primary lyricist for the Chicago-based band Fall Out Boy, was born Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III in Wilmette, Illinois. He is the son of Dale (Lewis), a high school admissions counselor, and Pete Wentz, an attorney. His grandfather, Arthur Winston Lewis, served as U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone. Pete's father is of German and English descent, while Pete's maternal grandparents were both from black Jamaican families. Pete grew up in the Chicago hardcore punk scene, and was in several bands before Fall Out Boy, including Firstborn, Arma Angelus, 7 Angels of the Apocalypse / Culture of Violence, Extinction, Forever Ended Today, and Yellow Road Priest. He grew up with band member Joseph Trohman. Fall Out Boy is the 4th band that Pete Wentz and Andrew Hurley have done together.
Wentz has written a book entitled The Boy With the Thorn In His Side, which is a story based on nightmares he had as a child. It is named after a song by The Smiths. He has another book titled "Rainy Day Kids," which was scheduled to be released February 14th, 2006, but has been postponed because he was unsatisfied with some of the material. In addition, Wentz is writing another book, alternating chapters with William Beckett of The Academy Is....
Wentz has a company called Clandestine Industries, which distributes books and, more notably, clothing, among other things. Additionally, he owns his own imprint of Fueled By Ramen, Decaydance Records, which has signed on several bands, including: Panic! At The Disco, October Fall, Gym Class Heroes and The Hush Soundand Lifetime . He also has a film production company called Bartskull Films, which has released the DVD "Release the Bats", a film about Peter, his friends both in and outside of Fall Out Boy, and many Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen bands.
Roy Dupuis was born on April 21, 1963, in New Liskeard, Ontario. He spent a significant portion of his childhood (from early infancy until he was eleven years old) in Amos, which is in a region of Québec called Abitibi. For the next three years, he lived in Kapuskasing, Ontario, where he learned to speak English. His father (now deceased) was a traveling salesman for Canada Packers, a meat company (now part of Maple Leaf Foods). His mother is a piano teacher. He has a younger brother and an older sister. When he was fourteen, after his parents divorced, his mother moved the family to Sainte-Rose, Laval, Québec (in the greater Montréal area), where he finished high school. After high school, he studied acting in Montréal, at the National Theatre School of Canada (L'École nationale de théâtre du Canada), graduating in 1986.
Acting was not Roy Dupuis' first career choice. He was studying physics in high school, but seeing Ariane Mnouchkine's film Molière interested him in acting. His entry into drama school was accidental. A friend had been invited to audition for admission to the National Theatre School of Canada, but her counterpart, who had also been invited to audition, changed his mind and backed out. She asked Roy Dupuis to take his place, and he agreed to help out and went along, posing as the original candidate. Although he himself was not really the one invited to audition, he impressed the school's director so much that she invited him to apply formally for admission to the school, and he was accepted. After his graduation in 1986, and a few years of successful experience acting in the theater, in 1988, he began to be offered substantial roles in films and TV.
The relative anonymity that he enjoyed during those early years ended when 80% of the population of Québec watched the enormously-popular classic period serial drama Les filles de Caleb (Emilie), turning him into a celebrity overnight and gaining him several awards for his performance as Emilie's husband, Ovila Pronovost. His next major role was as a journalist in the Canadian TV series Scoop, which ran for four seasons (1991 until 1995). In 1991 Dupuis also starred in his first major film role, as the gay hustler, Yves, in Jean Beaudin's internationally acclaimed Being at Home with Claude, which was Canada's official selection at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. Other leading roles in French followed, and increasingly English language roles too, including Becker in Screamers, his entry into mainstream US cinema.
For the next five years, from 1996 to 2000, he spent most of his time in Toronto, making the TV series Nikita (1997-2001), which was shown in more than 50 countries around the world. When the final season finished production at the end of 2000, Roy returned to Montréal, for a few months' rest, before starting work again on French-Canadian projects made closer to home. The TV mini-series Le dernier chapitre, about biker gang warfare, was filmed in French and English versions simultaneously. Then he teamed up again with "Chili's Blues" director Charles Binamé to star as in the romantic role of Alexis Labranche, the heroine's love interest, in a remake of another period Québec classic, Séraphin: un homme et son péché, which became the province's highest-grossing film.
In 2003, he participated in multiple projects, combining leading roles with occasional supporting roles. In Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions (The Barbarian Invasions), which has enjoyed even greater international success than Jesus of Montreal, Dupuis again played a minor part as a police drug-unit detective. Released in 2004 to 2005 were six more films in which he performed. His role as Alexandre in Mémoires affectives brought him his first major film-acting awards.
He recently reprised the part of French-Canadian hockey hero Maurice "Rocket" Richard (for the third time) in the film The Rocket: The Legend of Rocket Richard directed by Charles Binamé to large acclaim. He has also completed an independent film, That Beautiful Somewhere, which is based on the 1992 novel "Loon," by Bill Plumstead; screened in major film festivals beginning in August 2006, it was broadcast on Canadian pay television later in 2006 and opened in April 2006.
Beginning in June 2006, he began filming the film _Shake Hands with the Devil (2006)_ on location in Kigali, Rwanda, a film about the Rwandan Genocide, in which Dupuis portrays Roméo Dallaire, being based on Dallaire's autobiographical memoir, in close consultation with Dallaire. The main filming finished in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in August 2006. After being screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2007, and the Atlantic Film Festival on September 13, it opens on September 28, 2007.
In October 2006, in Québec, he began filming Emotional Arithmetic, starring alongside Gabriel Byrne, Christopher Plummer, Susan Sarandon, and Max von Sydow. The film is the closing feature for the Toronto International Film Festival on September 15, 2007.
Roy Dupuis lives in the countryside outside of Montréal. While, in the past, he enjoyed sky-diving and still enjoys golf, he has become more occupied with learning to sail and renovations on his home and sailboats.
For over a decade, until June 2006, he actively supported the Mira Foundation, which provides guide dogs for visually-impaired children and adults and service dogs for those with other disabilities. A few years ago, he co-founded the Rivers Foundation to protect the rivers of Canada from exploitation by hydro-electric developments, serves as its co-president, and concentrates considerable time on developing it when he is not working professionally.
A sunny singer, dancer and comic actress, Betty Garrett starred in several Hollywood musicals and stage roles. She was at the top of her game when the Communist scare in the 1950s brought her career to a screeching, ugly halt. She and her husband Larry Parks, an Oscar-nominated actor, were summoned by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and questioned about their involvement.
As the drama played out, a very pregnant Garrett was never called to testify, but her husband was. With his admission of Communist Party membership from 1941-1945 and refusal to name names, he made it to the Hollywood Blacklist. After the incident, Garrett and Parks worked up nightclub singing/comedy acts along with appearing in legit plays. Although Parks never quite shook off the blacklist incident, he did win a role in John Huston's film, Freud. Garrett went on to appear in roles in many television series.
Francine was born in the small mining town of Aurora, Minnesota to her parents, Frank and Sophie Yerich. When Francine was five, her family (including her younger sister, Deanne) moved to Cleveland, where she began to write short stories and take an interest in acting. At age nine, Francine made her theatrical debut in the Hodge Grammar School production of Cinderella, playing Griselda. Initially quite upset that she did not get the starring role, Francine ended up stealing the show with her performance as the evil stepsister. Right after the show, Francine ran into the audience and told her mother that she wanted to be an actress.
When Francine was twelve, the family moved back to Aurora, where she continued to perform in class plays, as well as writing, producing, directing and starring in a three-act play called Keen Teens or Campus Quarantine. Francine, displaying an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, charged five cents admission to the show, and the whole town turned out for the production.
While studying journalism and drama at Aurora High School, Francine worked as the feature editor of the school newspaper, Aurora Borealis, and she won all of the school's declamation contests with her dramatic readings. Additionally, she was the baton-twirling majorette for the school band, and active in the 4-H club, where she won several blue ribbons for cooking in both county and state fairs. This proved to be valuable experience for Francine later on, when she would not only host, but do all of the gourmet cooking for dinner parties for some of Hollywood's biggest names.
At age seventeen, Francine won the Miss Eveleth contest (Eveleth being a nearby town), and became a runner-up in the Miss Minnesota contest, which was hosted by former Miss America BeBe Shopp. For the talent portion of the Miss Minnesota pageant, Francine, who was not afraid to be less than glamorous during a performance, donned some old clothes, removed her makeup, grayed her hair, and performed a reading of a monologue called "The Day That Was That Day" by Amy Lowell, in which she played a dual role of two elderly Southern women. BeBe Shopp encouraged Francine in her theatrical ambitions, and predicted that she would end up in Hollywood very soon. At this point, however, Hollywood was still a dream for Francine, who wanted desperately to leave Minnesota and make her mark in show business.
Moving to Minneapolis, she got a job modeling sweaters for New York-based Jane Richards Sportswear and began traveling throughout the U.S., ending up in San Francisco. After leaving Jane Richards, Francine began a modeling course at the House of Charm agency, which started her off on a very successful modeling career for all of the major department stores, including Macy's. Her modeling work got the attention of the producers of the Miss San Francisco beauty pageant, which she subsequently entered and was voted runner-up, but ended up taking over the title after the winner became too ill to participate. Soon after, Francine got a job as a showgirl at Bimbo's, a well-known San Francisco nightclub, which was highly disapproved of by Francine's modeling agency, but it turned out to be the right choice for Francine when she met Bimbo's headliner, singer Mary Meade French, who brought Francine to Hollywood and, later, got her signed with her first agent.
Arriving in Los Angeles, Francine once again found herself working as a showgirl at Frank Sennes' Moulin Rouge, a popular nightclub on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, where she performed in three shows a night, seven nights a week for six months. Tired of sharing a stage with elephants, pigeons, and horses, she moved on to pursue her acting career and began study with famed actor/teacher Jeff Corey. While performing in Corey's class, Francine was spotted by a theatrical producer, who cast her in a play called Whisper In God's Ear at the Circle Theatre. During this time, the same producer gave Francine her very first movie role, starring in Secret File: Hollywood, a film about the day-to-day operations of a sleazy Hollywood tabloid. The movie premiered in Francine's hometown of Aurora, which gave her the biggest thrill of her life as the whole town, the press, her family, friends, and even the high school band turned out at the airport to greet her with banners proclaiming, "Welcome Home, Francine!"
Francine's first big break came when Jerry Lewis cast her in his film, It's Only Money, in which she played a tantalizing sexpot, a role which brought her a tremendous amount of publicity. This led to Lewis hiring her for five more of his films, including The Nutty Professor, The Patsy, The Disorderly Orderly, The Family Jewels, and Cracking Up, in which she played a fifteenth century marquise. Other notable film appearances include Bedtime Story (with Marlon Brando and David Niven), Tickle Me (with Elvis Presley), Cannon For Cordoba (with George Peppard), and science fiction cult films Curse of the Swamp Creature, Mutiny From Outer Space, and Space Probe Taurus. Francine's most popular film was the 1973 cult classic The Doll Squad, where she played Sabrina Kincaid, leader of an elite team of gorgeous female assassins who attempt to stop a diabolical madman from destroying the world with a deadly plague virus. Francine also delivered a stunning performance as Marilyn Monroe in an otherwise lackluster film, Marilyn: Alive and Behind Bars. (Film critic Tom Weaver has been quoted as saying that Francine's performances often rise above the low-budget films she's been cast in.) More recently, Francine played Nicolas Cage's mother-in-law in The Family Man.
Francine has also had tremendous success in television, with appearances on Route 66, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, My Favorite Martian, Burke's Law, Perry Mason, Batman, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Lost In Space, It Takes A Thief, Green Acres, The Wild Wild West, Ironside, I Dream Of Jeannie, Love American Style, Mannix, Bewitched, Adam-12, Mission: Impossible, Kojak, Columbo, Matlock, The King Of Queens, and Las Vegas, among many others. Francine's personal favorites among her TV roles include her portrayal of nineteenth century British actress Lily Langtry in the "Picture Of A Lady" episode of Death Valley Days, and her role as the princess opposite Shirley Temple (one of Francine's childhood idols) in NBC's presentation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid." One of Francine's other favorite roles was that of high-class prostitute and blackmailer Lorraine Temple on Days Of Our Lives.
While Francine was enjoying great success as a film and television actress, she was also making a name for herself as a fitness/nutrition expert and gourmet cook. She made many appearances on television demonstrating her culinary skills, and many of her recipes, as well as her exercise programs, were published in national health magazines. Francine also became known as one of Hollywood's leading hostesses, cooking for such celebrities as Clint Eastwood, Rex Harrison, Vincent Price, Regis Philbin, Jean Stapleton, Neil Sedaka, James Arness, Glenn Ford, and Peter Ustinov.
Francine continues to act in films and on television. Two recent TV appearances include Hot In Cleveland (as British matriarch Lady Natalie), and Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures (as Aunt Bitsy). She is also keeping quite busy working on her autobiography, something her fans are looking forward to with great interest. In 1996, she met director Vincent Sherman (Mr. Skeffington, Adventures Of Don Juan, The Young Philadelphians), and was his companion until his death in 2006. Francine has never married - she once said, "Like Cinderella, I always wanted to marry the handsome prince...but they don't make glass slippers in size ten!"
Albert Gordon MacRae was born on March 12, 1921, in East Orange, NJ. During his early years, he resided in Syracuse, NY, and, while in high school, spent much of his time singing and acting in the Drama Club. It was also during this time that he learned to play the piano, clarinet and the saxophone. At 19, he entered a singing contest and won a two-week engagement at The World's Fair in New York, performing with the Harry James and Les Brown bands. In 1940, while working in New York City as a page, he was "discovered" and hired to sing for the Horace Heidt Band. After a two-year stint, he joined the Army Air Corps and worked as a navigator for the next two years. He made his Broadway debut in a show called "Junior Miss", as a replacement in the role of "Tommy Arbuckle". Next, he appeared, again on Broadway, in Ray Bolger's 1946 revue, "Three To Make Ready". It was here that he was spotted by Capitol Records and signed to a long-term recording contract in 1947. He stayed with the label for more than 20 years. In October 1948, on ABC, he starred on the radio show "The Railroad Hour". The show moved to NBC in October 1949 and continued until June of 1954. It presented operettas and musical dramatizations, all starring Gordon and many different leading ladies. Also in 1948, he was signed to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers Pictures and, soon after, made his film debut in the non-musical, The Big Punch, opposite Lois Maxwell (well-known later as "Miss Moneypenny" in the James Bond films). What followed was a string of hit musicals, starting with Look for the Silver Lining, in which MacRae had a featured role opposite June Haver and Ray Bolger, and five fondly remembered films with Doris Day, beginning with Tea for Two. Perhaps his two best and well-known films were two of his last: Oklahoma! and Carousel, both written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and both opposite screen newcomer Shirley Jones. MacRae began to suffer, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, from bouts of heavy drinking and, by his own admission, developed into an alcoholic. He revealed that he had been "picked up for drunk driving" during the filming of "Carousel". He conquered the disease in the 1970s and went on to counsel other alcoholics. He continued recording and performing on dozens of television shows. He and his wife, Sheila MacRae, appeared together frequently and even released an album together. His daughters, Meredith MacRae and Heather MacRae, acted in films and on TV. On September 22, 1974, he appeared as a sheriff on an episode of McCloud, starring Dennis Weaver, entitled "The Barefoot Girls of Bleeker Street". His final film came in 1979, a fine dramatic role in The Pilot, which starred Cliff Robertson. He suffered a stroke in 1982. He continued on with the support of his second wife, Elizabeth, and his five children. This brilliant performer continued to tour, when his health would permit, allowing audiences to relive some of his biggest film hits. On January 24, 1986, Gordon MacRae died at the age of 64, at his home in Lincoln, NE, of pneumonia, the result of complications from cancer of the mouth and jaw.
Katherine Ramdeen (last name pronounced ram-dean) was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Always keen towards the creative arts, she was also extremely academic earning top grades. After high-school, she went on to study Psychology at the University of Alberta.
It wasn't until seeing "Frankenstein" at a small theatre in Edmonton, that she knew had to act. Katherine immediately consulted her professors for advice on how she should follow her dream, and was advised to attend a theatre school for training. Katherine figured she would apply to a single theatre school and if accepted, it was meant to be. Katherine soon gained admission to the prestigious Studio 58 Theatre Conservatory, located in Vancouver, British Columbia.
She went on to study in the rigorous theatre intensive program, earning the Beta Sigma Phi Scholarship for Excellence in her first year of study. In her second year of the three year program, her interest in film and television acting drove her to seek out representation and begin her film career.
Katherine continued her training at numerous acting studios and top coaches in Vancouver, where she resides today.
Her most recent performance involved working opposite Jessica Biel and Jodelle Ferland in the feature film, 'The Tall Man' directed by critically acclaimed French horror genius Pascal Laugier. The film slated for theatrical release in the USA and France in Fall 2012.
The Beatles were an English rock band that became arguably the most successful act of the 20th century. They contributed to music, film, literature, art, and fashion, made a continuous impact on popular culture and the lifestyle of several generations. Their songs and images carrying powerful ideas of love, peace, help, and imagination evoked creativity and liberation that outperformed the rusty Soviet propaganda and contributed to breaking walls in the minds of millions, thus making impact on human history.
In July of 1957, in Liverpool, 'Paul McCartney (I)' met John Lennon. Both were teenagers. Paul impressed John with his mastery of acoustic guitar, and was invited to join Lennon's group, The Quarrymen. George Harrison joined them in February of 1958. In 1959 they played regular gigs at a club called The Casbah. They were joined by vocalist Stuart Sutcliffe, and by drummer Peter Best, whose mother owned The Casbah club. Early incarnations of the band included The Quarrymen, Johnny & the Moon Dogs, and The Silver Beetles. John Lennon dreamed up the band's final name, The Beatles, a mix of beat with beetle. In 1960 The Beatles toured in Hamburg, Germany. There they were joined by Ringo Starr, who previously played with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. In Hamburg, The Beatles made their first studio work as a backing band for singer Tony Sheridan's recordings for the German Polydor label, however, in the credits the band's name was changed to The Beat Brothers. From February 1961 to August 1963, The Beatles played a regular gig at the Cavern. They were paid five pounds for their first show, rising to three hundred pounds per show in 1963. In two and a half years The Beatles gave 262 shows at the Cavern in Liverpool.
Brian Epstein was invited to be the manager of the Beatles in November 1961. His diplomatic way of dealing with the Beatles and with their previous manager resulted in a December 10, 1961, meeting, where it was decided that Epstein would manage the band. A 5-year management contract was signed by four members at then-drummer Pete Best's home on January 24, 1962. Epstein did not put his signature on it, giving the musicians the freedom of choice. At that time McCartney and Harrison were under 21, so the paper wasn't technically legal. None of them realized this and it did not matter to them. What mattered was their genuine trust in Epstein. He changed their early image for the good. Brian Epstein made them wear suits and ties, classic shoes, and newer haircuts. They were advised to update their manners on stage and quit eating and drinking in public. Brian Epstein worked hard on both the Beatles' image and public relations. He improved their image enough to make them accepted by the conservative media. Most if not all of their communication off-stage was managed by Brian Epstein.
On January 1, 1962, The Beatles came to London and recorded fifteen songs at the Decca Records. They were not hired, but the material helped them later. During the year 1962, they made several trips to London and auditioned for various labels. In May of 1962 Epstein canceled the group's contract with Tony Sheridan and the German label. Brian Epstein was persistent in trying to sign a record deal for the Beatles, even after being rejected by every major record label in UK, like Columbia, Philips, Oriole, Decca, and Pye. Epstein transferred a demo tape to disc with HMV technician Jim Foy, who liked their song and referred it to Parlophone's George Martin. On June 6, 1962, at the Abbey Road studios, they passed Martin's audition with the exception of Pete Best. George Martin liked them, but recommended the change of a drummer. Being asked by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison; Epstein fired Pete Best. After a mutual decision the band was completed with Ringo Starr, who duly became the fourth Beatle. In September of 1962 The Beatles recorded their first hit Love Me Do, which charted in UK, and reached the top of the US singles chart.
London became their new home since 1963. On February 11, 1963, The Beatles recorded the entire album 'Please, Please me' in one day, working non-stop during ten-hour studio session. In May and June, 1963, the band made a tour with Roy Orbison. In August of 1963, their single She Loves You became a super hit. Their October 1963 performance at the London Palladium made them famous in Great Britain and initiated the Beatlemania in the UK. The show at the London Palladium was broadcast live and seen by twelve million viewers. Then, in November 1962, The Beatles gave a charity concert at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London. There, performing for the rich and famous, John Lennon made his famous announcement: Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry.
In early performances the Beatles included popular songs from the 40s and 50s. They played rock-n-roll and R&B-based pop songs while they gradually worked on developing a style of their own. Their mixture of rock-n-roll, skiffle, blues, country, soul, and a simplified version of 1930s jazz resulted in several multi-genre and cross-style sounding songs. They admitted their interest in the music of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and other entertainers of the 40s, 50s and early 60s. Beatles' distinctive vocals were sometimes reminiscent of the Everly Brothers' tight harmonies. By 1965 their style absorbed ethnic music influences from India and other Oriental cultures, and later expanded into psychedelic experiments and classical-sounding compositions. Their creative search covered a range of styles from jazz and rock to a cosmopolitan cross-cultural and cross-genre compositions.
Initially the Beatles were a guitars and drums band. In the course of their career every member became a multi-instrumentalist. George Harrison played the lead guitar and also introduced such exotic instruments as ukulele, Indian sitars, flutes, tabla, darbouka, and tampur drums. John Lennon played a variety of guitars, keyboards, harmonicas and horns. Paul McCartney played bass guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, piano and keyboards, as well as over 40 other musical instruments. The Beatles were the first popular band that used a classical touch of strings and keyboard instruments; their producer George Martin scored Baroque orchestrations in several songs, such as Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, In My Life, and a full orchestra in Sgt. Pepper. John Lennon and Paul McCartney played piano in many of their songs. Their jamming on a piano together led to creation of their best-selling hit I Want to Hold Your Hand in 1963.
At first the Beatles were rejected by Dick Clark after testing a recording of their song on his show. Then Brian Epstein approached Ed Sullivan, who discussed them with Walter Cronkite after seeing them on his CBS Evening News in 1963. Brian Epstein also managed to get their music played by influential radio stations in Washington and New York. The US consumer reaction was peaking, a single 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' was released in December 1963 by the Capitol Records. Their sensational tour in the USA began with three TV shows at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, in February of 1964. After that The Beatles endured several years of extremely intensive recording, filming, and touring. They stopped public performances after 1966, but continued their recording contracts. By 1985 The Beatles had sold over one billion records. Music became their ticket to ride around the world. Beatlemania never really ended since its initiation. It still lives as a movable feast in many hearts and minds, as a sweet memory of youth, when all you need is love and a little help from a friend to be happy.
The Beatles' first two feature films, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help (1965), were made in collaboration with an American director, Richard Lester. Their humorous, ironic, and farcical film performances are reminiscent of the Marx Brothers' comedies. Later The Beatles moved into the area of psychedelic innovations with the animated film Yellow Submarine (1966). Their surrealistic TV movie The Magical Mystery Tour (1967) became the cause for the first major criticism of their work in the British press. Their film music was also released as studio albums. Original music by The Beatles as well as re-makes of their songs has been also used, often uncredited, in music scores of feature films and documentaries. Some of The Beatles concert and studio performances were filmed on several occasions and were later edited and released after the band's dissolution. In 1999 the remastered and remixed film The Beatles Yellow Submarine Adventure delighted a younger audience with incredible animation and songs.
All four members were charismatic and individually talented artists, they sparked each other from the beginning. Eventually they made a much better group effort under the thorough management by Brian Epstein. His coaching helped consolidate their talents and mutual stimulation into beautiful teamwork. Paul McCartney had the privilege of a better musical education, having studied classical piano and guitar in his childhood. He progressed as a lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a singer-songwriter. McCartney wrote more songs for the Beatles than other members of the band. His songs Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Blackbird, When I'm 64, Let It Be are among the Beatles' best hits. Yesterday is considered the most-covered song in history with over three thousand versions of it recorded by various artists. McCartney accepted the agreement that was offered by John Lennon in 1957, about the 50/50 authorship of every song written by either one of them. Most of The Beatles' songs are formally credited to both names, regardless of the fact that many of the songs were written individually.
On June 25, 1967, The Beatles made history becoming the first band globally transmitted on TV to an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The Beatles were a segment in the first-ever worldwide satellite hook-up and their new song "All You Need Is Love" was broadcast live during the show. Two months later The Beatles lost their creative manager Brian Epstein, whose talent for problem-solving was unmatched. "That was it, the beginning of the end", said Lennon. Evolution of each member's creativity and musicianship also led to individual career ambitions.
John Lennon was experimenting with psychedelic poetry and art. His creativity was very unique and innovative. Lennon wrote Come Together, Girl, Revolution, Strawberry Fields and many other Beatles' hits. An out-of-context reprinting of Lennon's remarks on the Beatlemania phenomenon caused problems in the media. His comparison of Beatles' popularity to that of Jesus Christ was used to attack them publicly, causing cancellations of their performances and even burning of their records. Lennon had to apologize several times in press and on TV, including at a Chicago press conference. In 1967 John Lennon met Japanese artist Yoko Ono, whom he later married. George Harrison was the lead guitar player and also took sitar lessons from Ravi Shankar. Harrison had his own inner light of creativity and spirituality, he wrote Something, Taxman, I me mine, and other hits. Ringo Starr sang 'Yellow Submarine' and a few other songs. He has made a film career and also toured with his All Stars Band and released several solo albums. His 1973 release "Ringo" was the last album to feature all four living Beatles, although not on the same song.
The Beatles created over 240 songs, they recorded many singles and albums, made films and TV shows. Thousands of memorable pictures popularized their image. In their evolution from beginners to the leaders of entertainment, they learned from many world cultures, absorbed from various styles, and created their own. Their cross-style compositions covered a range of influences from English folk ballads to Indian raga; absorbing from Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers, Little Richard, and others. The songwriting and performing talents of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, fused in the Beatles' music. Lennon and McCartney initiated changes in music publishing industry by breaking the Tin Pan Alley monopoly of songwriting. Their legacy became possible due to highly professional work by Brian Epstein and George Martin. In 1994 three surviving members reunited and produced Lennon's previously unknown song 'Free as a Bird'. It was preserved by Yoko Ono on a tape recording made by Lennon in 1977. The song was re-arranged and re-mixed with the voices of three surviving members. The Beatles Anthology TV documentary was watched by 420 million people in 1995.
The Beatles represent the collective consciousness of several generations. Millions of viewers and listeners across the universe became conditioned to the sounds and images of The Beatles. Their influence on the modern world never stopped. Numbers may only show the tip of the iceberg (record sales, shows admissions, top hits, etc.). As image-makers and role models they pushed boundaries in lifestyle and business, affecting customers behavior and consumption beyond the entertainment industry by turning all life into entertainment. A brilliant blend of music and lyrics in their songs made influence on many minds by carrying messages like: give peace a chance and people working it out. A message more powerful than political control, it broke through second and third world censorship and regulations and set many millions free.
Steve Jobs, being a big fan of Paul McCartney and The Beatles, referred to them on many occasions and also was interviewed on a showing of a Paul McCartney concert. When asked about his business model, Steve Jobs replied: My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.
The Beatles made impact on human history, because their influence has been liberating for generations of nowhere men living in misery beyond the Iron Curtain. Something in their songs and images appealed to everybody who wanted to become free as a bird. Their songs carrying powerful ideas of real love, peace, help, and imagination evoked creativity that outperformed the rusty Soviet propaganda and contributed to breaking chains and walls in the minds of millions. The Beatles expressed themselves in beautiful and liberating words of love, happiness, freedom, and revolution, and carried those messages to people across the universe. Their songs and images helped many freedom-loving people to come together for revolutions in Prague and Warsaw, Beijing and Bucharest, Berlin and Moscow. The Beatles has been an inspiration for those who take the long and winding road to freedom.
Even after The Beatles had gone, the individual members continued to spread their message; from the concert for Bangladesh by George Harrison and Ringo Starr in 1971, to 2003 "Back in USSR" concert by Paul McCartney on the Red Square in Moscow, and his 2004 show near the Tsar's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg where the Communist Revolution took place, just imagine.
In 2005 the Entertainment magazine poll named The Beatles the most iconic entertainers of the 20th Century. In July of 2006, the guitar on which Paul McCartney played his first chords and impressed John Lennon, was sold at an auction for over $600,000.
In July 2012, Paul McCartney rocked the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He delivered a live performance of The Beatles's timeless hit "Hey Jude" and engaged the crowd of people from all over the world to join his band in a sing along finale. The show was seen by a live audience of 80000 people at the Olympic Park Stadium in addition to an estimated TV audience of two billion people worldwide.
Nigel Lindsay was born on 17th January 1969 and entered into the world of acting comparatively late. For three years he was a financial analyst in the City in his native London but, on his own admission, hated it and applied almost simultaneously for the law and the stage. He had a place at bar school beginning on the same day as the start of his three year course at the Webber Douglas Academy - but the lure of the stage prevailed and he chose the academy,where he won the Amherst Webber Scholarship. His finals role was in 'Charley's Aunt' directed by Michael Fry,for whom he first worked professionally with the Lincolnshire touring company Great Eastern Stage playing an assassin in 'Shoot the Archduke'. Since then he has appeared on many stages,the Royal Court,the National,the Old Vic and on Broadway in Tom Stoppard's 'The Real Thing'. With a range extending from Pinter to musicals - most notably under layers of green make-up in the title role of 'Shrek - the Musical - he also took the Whatsonstage award as best supporting actor in 2011 for 'Broken Glass'. On television he has been nice,as Sally Phillips' kindly boyfriend in comedy 'Jam and Jerusalem', and nasty,as a sinister policeman investigating one of the 'Midsomer Murders' and on film as a fervent white Muslim in the black farce 'Four Lions'.
|Barbara Eve Harris
Barbara Eve Harris was born in Trinidad and Tobago of Jamaican parents, and moved to Canada at the age of 6 with her family. Raised and educated in Ottawa, the national capital, she graduated from the University of Ottawa with a B.A. (concentration in Theatre and Philosophy). The initial plan was for Law School, but despite offers of admission, including scholarships, she followed her heart to be a performer instead.
Though trained mainly as an actor, Barbara's professional career began with a dance role in New York City in "Follies de Paris", a Vegas style review. It was dancing that led to her film debut in "Night Magic", a fantasy musical shot in Montreal, Quebec. This first movie role also meant a return to acting, and led to a thriving film and television career of 25 years (to date).
A recipient of several regional Canadian awards for acting, and a Gemini nomination for Best Actress In A Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (as Wanda Gibbs in "Side Effects"), she chose to expand her horizons and relocated to Los Angeles in 1998.
Barbara's many starring roles span the range from tough U.S. Army Ranger Drill Instructor, Sgt. Rhodes ("Dead Men Can't Dance"), to grief stricken widow and mother, Janice Crosby, opposite Louis Gossett Jr. ("In His Father's Shoes"). The list of her credits now comprises 9 theatrical features; 20 television features; and over 100 episodic T.V. appearances including the role of FBI Agent Felicia Lang in the final 3 seasons of the hit series, "Prison Break."
One of Barbara's favorite perquisites of being an actor is the opportunity to travel. Aside from numerous locations within North America, she has enjoyed filming in the Philippines ("Dead Men Can't Dance"), New Zealand ("The Nightmare Man"), Hawaii ("E.R."), and Bogota, Colombia, ("Mental"). Her fantasy gig? A dance/action/drama shot on location throughout Europe.
Genial Manchester-born comic actor Sam Kelly had a considerable gift for timing and observation. His special forte was playing decrepit, rheumy characters of more advanced years than his own actual age. Among the many endearing impressions he made on the small screen, he is probably best remembered as the illiterate crook 'Bunny' Warren in Porridge and as the inept German officer Hans Geering in 'Allo 'Allo!, forever abbreviating the Nazi salute to a shout of "Tler!" (which to many ears sounded like 'klop' or 'club'). His other sitcom credits include Norman Elston in Now and Then, the servant Nathaniel Grunge in the Georgian period romp Haggard and the chauffeur Sam Jones in On the Up. Kelly's expressive features also splendidly suited a varied gallery of Dickensian characters: the timid Mr. Snagsby (Masterpiece Theatre: Bleak House; the undertaker Mr. Mould (Martin Chuzzlewit; the kindly manservant Giles (Oliver Twist; and the grocer Cudlipp (in John Sullivan's ITV adaptation Micawber).
By his own admission, Kelly might have been content running a village post office. He began his working life as a clerk in the Liverpool civil service before enrolling at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts at the age of twenty. He graduated in 1967 and then acted in regional repertory theatre for five years. In the course of his subsequent career, he made frequent appearances at London's West End, at the Old Vic and at the Royal Court in plays ranging from "The Odd Couple" and "HMS Pinafore" to "War and Peace". The stage was to remain his preferred medium, allowing him to occasionally branch out into serious roles (while regular television work necessarily paid the bills). His dramatic performance as a sorrowful bachelor facing retirement in "Grief" (2011) at the National Theatre was said to have been his best.
In 1977, Kelly co-founded the Croydon Warehouse Theatre, which operated until its closure due to financial and structural problems in 2012.
She was born in Iasi, Romania, in the South-East of Europe. She went to a local High School to prepare for a future kindergarten teacher career. She changed her mind (and her life!) one year before graduation and got transferred to a different high-school, to learn intensively for joining the University to study law. The Iasi University is known as very competitive; Monica took challenging tests and successfully enrolled in the Law College. Right before the admission exams she had to face her father's death, though.
She began studying law but she had to work her way out through college. She took part time jobs as a waitress or as a promoter for various companies. An offer came to pose for a lingerie catalogue and she accepted. This brought her a bit into the spotlight at a local level. During her first University year she represented her college at a beauty pageant, "Miss Transylvania" and she was offered a contract with the best model agency in Bucharest, "M.R.A". For a couple of years she could be seen in TV commercials, but she carried on with her student work.
On her 3rd year of College she was called for an audition at a new TV channel that was about to be launched, B1tv. She began her television career with a daily TV show called "La Strada", as a co-host. It was a show for teenagers and it brought her into the spotlight again, this time at a national level. Soon after that more and more requests came for her to do covers for magazines, interviews; she became increasingly successful. In a few months, she got her own daily half hour TV show.
In November 2002, she was designated the most beautiful Romanian celebrity by the "Beau Monde" magazine and in December she was chosen "The sexiest TV Star" by the most influential Romanian TV guide, "TV Mania". Her show went on, and so did the series of awards she got. In February 2003, the VIVA magazine designated her "The most Beautiful Romanian Woman" and in July the FHM magazine "crowned" her as "Sexiest Woman". In December, she was, once more, awarded by TV Mania as "The Sexiest TV Celebrity".
In the meantime, she hosted the "Extravaganza" show series. 2004 began with a new challenge: "Viata in Direct" (Life Live) show.
In February 2004, the "Viva" magazine designated her again as the "Sexiest celebrity" and in December 2004 she was, once more TV Mania's choice as "The Sexiest TV Star". In 2004, she went to Los Angeles to take acting classes and improve her TV host skills. Her career took a new turn: she started doing movies.
In 2004, she got a part in a teenager comedy," Buds for Life" and by year end she received a role in her first Romanian movie, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. The film has so far obtained more than 30 awards, including the "Un certain regard" award at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, Silver Hugo in Chicago and was nominated for The Best Foreign Film at the Independent Spirit Awards.
In 2005, she got small parts in Incubus as Karen, in "Second in Command" as Dr. Johnson and in "Living&Dying" as Det Lascar.
In November 2005, she got a recurring part in Lost, the no.1 TV show in the United States, as Gabriella Busoni, a wealthy Italian woman.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Glass worked in his father's radio store and discovered music listening to the offbeat Western classical records customers didn't seem to want. He studied the violin and flute, and obtained early admission to the University of Chicago. After graduating in mathematics and philosophy, he went to New York's Juilliard school, drove a cab, and studied composition with Darius Milhaud and others.
At 23, he moved to Paris to study under the legendary Nadia Boulanger, who taught almost all of the major Western classical composers of the 20th century. While there, he discovered Indian classical music while transcribing the works of Ravi Shankar into Western musical notation for a French filmmaker. A creative turning point, Glass researched non-Western music in India and parts of Africa, and applied the techniques to his own composition.
Back in the United States, Glass spent the late 1960s and early 1970s driving a taxi cab in New York and creating a major collection of new music. In 1976, his landmark opera "Einstein on the Beach" was staged by Robert Wilson to a baffling variety of reviews. His compositions were so avant-garde that he had to form the Philip Glass Ensemble to give them a venue for performance. Although called a minimalist by the Western classical mainstream, he denies this categorization. His major works include opera, theater pieces, dance, and song.
His work in film, beginning with Koyaanisqatsi, gave filmmakers such as Godfrey Reggio and Errol Morris a new venue of expression through the documentary form. His many recordings have also widened his audience. He was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to compose "The Voyage" for the Columbus quinquacentennial in 1992. In 1996, he composed original music for the Atlanta Olympic Games, which, perhaps, made Glass almost mainstream. Glass remains one of the most important American composers. His music is distinctive, haunting, and evocative. Either performed by itself or in collaboration with other media, his compositions move the listener to unexplored places. More recently, a major reexamination of Glass's oeuvre has led him to be labeled the Last Romantic by the musical press.
Anna is most known for her recurring roles on True Blood, Stitchers, Silicon Valley and ABC's smash-hit Quantico. A graduate of the UCLA School of Drama, Anna first gained recognition on the big screen in King of California (Sundance Film Festival premiere) as the unyielding but vulnerable cop who faces off with - and is eventually seduced by - Michael Douglas. Then, in several more features, Anna plays an eclectic mix of roles alongside Bradley Cooper and Jim Carrey (Yes Man), Chris MacDonald (Reunion), JK Simmons and Alexis Bledel (Post Grad), Milo Ventimiglia (Order of Chaos), Robert Carlyle and Danny Masterson (California Solo, Sundance Premiere) and James Cromwell (Admissions).
In 2013, Anna starred in the acclaimed Off-Broadway play Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto at the Culture Project/Lynn Redgrave Theatre in NYC. Time Out NY called her performance "a wonder", the NY Times praised Khaja as a "gifted actress" and Backstage NY called the her performance "heart-stopping." For the Los Angeles production of Shaheed, Anna won the Ovation Award for Lead Actress in a Play; Shaheed was also nominated for Best Production of the Year. Other theatre credits include the US Premiere of David Hare's Stuff Happens (Ovation Nomination) at the Mark Taper Forum and the US Premiere of Judith Thompson's Palace of the End (Ovation Nomination/LA Weekly Award) at the NoHo Arts Center and many more productions regionally and on both coasts. Anna is a 5-time Ovation nominee.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, screenwriter 'Chris Rossi (II)' qv.
Cathy Tyson's father is a barrister from Trinidad and her mother is an English social worker. She dropped out of college at age 17 to pursue acting at Liverpool's Everyman's Theater. After a 1984 production of "The Blitz Show", she won admission to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her film debut was as an elegant prostitute in Mona Lisa.
|Julia E King
Julia is a young actress who splits her time between Florida and L.A. She began taking drama classes at a very young age to overcome extreme shyness and just loved it. Julia started on stage performing in local community theatre productions at the age of nine. She did her first student film at Ringling College when she was 11 and has pursued on-camera work since. In real life, Julia is an honor roll high school student. She is on student council and admissions team. On screen, she often portrays the goth/troubled teen! She enjoys the diversity of characters she has gotten to explore. In her free time, Julia pursues ballet - she dances at the School of Russian Ballet each night for several hours after school.
Veteran stage and TV actor David Ackroyd was born on May 30, 1940 in Orange, New Jersey, the son of Arthur, an insurance adjuster, and Charlotte (nee Henderson) Ackroyd. He studied at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania where he received his BA in 1962 as an ROTC student. Following his graduation he appeared in community theater productions while serving in Arizona with the military. He then focused on the arts as a career after enrolling at the Yale Drama School where he earned his Masters of Fine Arts in 1968.
David gathered early professional credits at the Yale Repertory Theatre (for three seasons) and Williamstown Theatre Festival (for six seasons). He also found challenging and varied stage work outside the U.S. in Taiwan, Russia, Poland, Germany, France, and the Czech Republic.
Dark-haired with a serious handsomeness to him, he was able to extend his all-stage career into film and TV in the early 1970s, beginning with daytime leading man outings in "The Secret Storm" and "Another World". He progressed to prime time work as Gary Ewing in Dallas until Ted Shackelford successfully took over the role when the character moved front and center with the spin-off drama Knots Landing. David's prime on-camera work occurred in the late 70s with a series of strong co-star roles in the mini-series The Dark Secret of Harvest Home with Bette Davis and The Word, as well as the TV-movies And I Alone Survived and Women in White. He then began to find supporting roles in such movies as The Mountain Men, The Sound of Murder, Wrestling with God, I Come in Peace and Prison Life; however, film stardom eluded him.
Prone to playing upscale types or white-collar professionals (senators, doctors, lawyers, etc.), he appeared as a guest star on such popular programs as "Hotel", "Dynasty", "Highway to Heaven", "Murder She Wrote" and "MacGyver". He also continued to prevail on the stage with potent performances in "Unlikely Heroes", his 1971 Broadway debut, "The Rivals", "Juno and the Paycock", "Hamlet" (as Rosencrantz), "Private Lives" "Children of a Lesser God" (replacing original star John Rubinstein), "A Soldier's Play", "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", "Six Characters in Search of an Author", and, more recently, off-Broadway in 2003 with "It Just Catches". A well-seasoned narrator in documentary stories for the History Channel, he has sometimes utilized his well-modulated vocals for such animated cartoons as "Johnny Quest" and "Captain Planet and the Planeteers". Most of his work of late comes in the form of voice work.
Long married to wife Ruth Liming, a college admissions officer, the couple has two daughters, Jessica and Abigail. Living in Montana where he is a professor of drama at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, David is also one of the founding members of the Alpine Theatre Project which produces plays for the Whitefish Theatre Company.
Tanisha Long is a West Philadelphia born and raised actor, writer and comedian. Tanisha is a cast member of MTV's Girl Code & Guy Code and has also appeared in Paul Weitz's feature film Admission opposite Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. When Tanisha is not regularly being featured on MTV she can be seen performing live on stages all over the US.
Looking back at his filmography, it isn't difficult to imagine Vladek Sheybal in a scene, lobbing Molotov cocktails at advancing German troops, against a backdrop of war-torn Warsaw. However, this part of his life played out for real. A member of the Polish underground, he was twice captured and interred in concentration camps. Both times he escaped. After the war, he was undecided about whether to become a doctor or an actor. His father, a painter and professor of Fine Arts, put pressure on him to become an architect. Acting won out, of course, and Vladek spent six months at the prestigious Stanislavsky School of Acting and a further four years to complete his training at the Drama Director's School. By the time he shared a dressing room with Roman Polanski on stage at the National Theatre in Warsaw, he had become one of Poland's leading actors. He was first acclaimed on screen in Andrzej Wajda's story of the Polish Resistance during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, Kanal. Ironically, by his own admission, Vladek had 'not a drop of Polish blood' in him, his ethnic background being a mixture of Armenian, Scottish and Austrian. He spoke fluent French, Italian and German before ever learning English.
Taking advantage of a scholarship to perfect his craft, Vladek went to England in the early 1960's and decided to stay. His limited command of English and a lack of connections forced him to take on a number of menial jobs. With his last ten pounds in his pocket, he went to Oxford to study English literature. As his English improved, he began to teach drama. Before long, his successful staging of a Russian play at the Oxford University Opera Club led to a job with the BBC as actor/director. Prompted by Sean Connery (whose then-girlfriend Diane Cilento Vladek had directed on stage), he reluctantly took the part of chess grandmaster and SPECTRE agent Kronsteen in From Russia with Love, emerging as one of the most memorable of the early James Bond villains.
With his cultured voice, sharp nose and piercing, hypnotic eyes, Vladek's became one of the most recognisable faces on screen in the 60's and 70's. For the most part, he was typecast in sardonic, sinister or eccentric roles, tailor-made as Central European or Soviet spies, in both episodic television (eg The Saint, Secret Agent) and motion pictures (eg S*P*Y*S). Perfecting his trademark screen personae was partly down to advice from actress Bette Davis, who, according to a 1992 interview in FAB magazine, instructed him to 'narrow his eyes, lower his voice to a whisper and make long pauses'. Affecting these mannerisms served him well, even when he was not playing the bad guy. On several occasions, he appeared in films by Ken Russell, notably as the decadent sculptor Loerke, in Women in Love, and as the Cecil B. DeMille caricature De Thrill, in The Boy Friend. He was also the arcane, enigmatic psychiatrist Dr. Doug Jackson, in Gerry Anderson's cult sci-fi series UFO (a part he secured after having previously played a similar character in the movie Journey to the Far Side of the Sun for the same production team). In 1977, he was presented by The Dracula Society with the Hamilton Deane Award for his performance as a creepy innkeeper in an episode of the short-lived anthology series Supernatural. The prize was presented to him by none other than Christopher Lee.
During the latter stages of his career, Vladek revisited the stage, appearing in fringe venues in London in the title role of "Mahler" (1973), as Shylock in "Variations on The Merchant of Venice" (1977) and as Friedrich Nietzsche in "The Eagle and the Serpent" (1988). He also taught acting classes at the London Academy of TV and made several forays into French cinema as middle-aged men obsessed with younger women. A consummate perfectionist at his craft and one of the great European character actors, Vladek died unexpectedly in October 1992 at his home in London, aged 69.
Cynthia Martin has been called the quintessential California girl and its suits her. She was born and raised in California, and has spent the majority of her life living in the coastal beach communities of Santa Cruz and Malibu, California. She was born in Los Angeles.
Cynthia's heritage is Eastern European. Her father was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and her mother was second generation Ukrainian. Cynthia's mother always stressed education, but it was clear at an early age that Cynthia was quite the performer. She regularly starred in school plays and community theatre while growing up, and could also be seen dancing in ballet and jazz recitals.
She is also quite the dichotomy. On the one hand, in additions to acting, Cynthia Martin has modeled for many magazines, including several swimsuit editions, and is ranked on several "most beautiful" women lists. Yet, this beauty is not just another pretty face and body. She received her doctorate of law degree from Pepperdine School of Law on an academic scholarship, and attended the Bush Gorbachev Summit in Moscow as an international law student. As a trial attorney, Cynthia is a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar, was sworn in by the full Bench, and is one of the few attorneys licensed to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She also holds a bachelor's degree in economics and an associate's degree in liberal arts.
While Cynthia was a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she began acting and modeling professionally. She appeared in local commercials, and magazine print ads. She also modeled bikinis for Ujena Magazine and Ocean Sports Magazine. During this time, she also studied acting at UC Santa Cruz and was involved in the university's modern dance department. Upon graduation, Cynthia moved to a small apartment in Hollywood, complete with a murphy bed, to take her career to the next level. She worked as a flight attendant and also a receptionist at a commercial production company to help make ends meet. Cynthia also danced in many music videos for MTV during this time.
It was also around this same time, on a whim, that Cynthia took the Law School Admissions Test, and scored in the top 3% nationwide. As a result, she was offered several scholarships from many prominent law schools. Cynthia accepted a scholarship from Cardoza School of law to study law at Moscow's Institute of Law and Economics in the former Soviet Union. It was while she was in Moscow that she attended the Bush/Gorbachev Summit. She was one of two students escorted by the school's director to meet privately with President Bush and his wife. Shortly after that, Cynthia accepted a scholarship to attend Pepperdine School of Law in Malibu. During this time, she also continued to act, and had a recurring role on Melrose Place.
After graduating from law school, and while working as a trial attorney, Cynthia was introduced to a group of actors who decided to form the production company, Renegade Film Artists. Each member of the company had something to bring to the table in addition to acting. One was a writer, another a director, another a cinematographer, etc. Cynthia was the company attorney. The company produced and acted in many short and feature films.
Cynthia then relocated back to Santa Cruz for personal reasons. While in Santa Cruz, she worked as a trial attorney. This led to a job offer as an on-air news reporter by KSBW-TV, the local NBC News affiliate. KSBW-TV had previously interviewed Cynthia in her capacity as a trial attorney regarding a high profile case she was handling involving a crooked lawyer and the many victims he had bilked out of millions of dollars. Not only did she take this man to trial and win millions for her client, but she did her own investigative work which she turned over to the District Attorney's office, resulting in stiff prison time for him.
Cynthia spent the next few years as an on-air reporter with the NBC affiliate. She interviewed Oliver North, Clint Eastwood, Jay Leno, Lt. Governor Garamendi and many other celebrities and politicians as an on-air reporter.
Cynthia then decided to return to southern California, to focus more on TV and film. But, instead of seeking a new agent upon her return, she formed the Artists Unlimited Agency. She is the company owner, in charge of talent development and negotiates contracts for the agency and the actors and models they represent. The company motto, as an homage to Charlie Chaplin's famous quote after creating United Artists is, "The inmates have taken over the asylum." Cynthia's business partner at the agency, as well as the company's associates and interns, are all working actors and models.
Cynthia Martin continues to act, model and produce films. She also contributes her services as legal or business affairs in many of the projects that she has acting roles in.
Goeske's parents nurtured his musical talent already in his childhood. During that time, he also discovered his passion for the stage. At the age of nine he was accepted into the children's choir of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. With them he was on stage performing as a soloist in "La Boheme" and "Pique Dame", among other performances. He appeared as a leading actor in the Uli Bree's musical "Teddy - A Musical Dream".
He had his first part in a theatrical film as 'Kreuzkamm Junior' in "The Flying Classroom" in 2003. Shortly afterwards he gave his singing voice to Mowgli in the German version of "Jungle Book 2". Aside from other dubbing assignments, Goeske could be seen in various TV shows. In 2004, production commenced on the complex shoot of Golden Globe winning director Joseph Vilsmaier's "Bergkristall", which successfully hit the theaters in the winter of 2004/2005. In that film, Goeske played the lead role of Konrad. For his achievement he received the Junior Media award 'White Elephant' at 2005's Filmfest Munich and a nomination for the International Undine Award (together, among others, with Alexandra Maria Lara, Tom Schilling, Mavie Hörbiger, Kostja Ullmann and Robert Stadlober).
In the summer of 2005, Goeske played the lead in the German-French theatrical feature "French for Beginners" (with co-stars like Christian Tramitz, among others), which was distributed in 2006 by Concorde Film in Germany, and, with more than 250,000 admissions, made it into the top 25 of that year's German-language productions. For this film, Goeske was again nominated for an International Undine Award in the fall of 2006.
In 2007, Goeske played 'Jim Hawkins' in the elaborate new TV version of the adventure classic "Treasure Island". At his side were, among others, notable performers like Tobias Moretti and Jürgen Vogel. Right after that he shot a re-make of the anti-war classic "The Bridge" with Franka Potente.
In the summer of 2008, Goeske was engaged as the protagonist of the film adaptation of "Summertime Blues"; the English young adult novel by Julian Clarke of the same name.
In the fall of 2008, Goeske earned his third nomination for the International Undine Award, this time for his performance in "Treasure Island".
In 2010, Goeske played alongside Liv Lisa Fries in the stirring youth drama "She deserved it" by author and director Thomas Stiller. For his depiction he was awarded the Wild and Young Awards as best actor in 2012.
In 2011 he took the leading part in "Lost Place", a 3-D mystery thriller directed by Thorsten Klein, which hit German theaters in autumn 2013 (NFP/Warner Bros.). Also in post-production is the film version of the novel "Besser als nix" (directed by Ute Wieland; written by Nina Pourlak), in which he also can be seen as the protagonist. The German theatrical release is planned for 2014.
Since 2011, Goeske has been a member of the German Film Academy.
Note: The actual spelling of the last name is 'Göske'. Since Goeske's participation in international productions was increasing, the agency decided in 2006 to change the official spelling to Goeske.