Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York, to Patricia Adelaide "Addie" (Bianchi), an English teacher, and Gary A. Tomei, a lawyer. Marisa has a brother, actor Adam Tomei. Her parents are both of Italian descent, with roots in Tuscany, Sicily, Campania, and Calabria. As a child, Marisa's mother frequently corrected her speech so as to eliminate her heavy Brooklyn accent. As a teen, Marisa attended Edward R. Murrow High School and graduated in the class of 1982. She was one year into her college education at Boston University when she dropped out for a co-starring role on the CBS daytime drama, As the World Turns. Her role on that show paved the way for her entrance into film: in 1984, she made her film debut with a bit part in The Flamingo Kid. Three years later, Marisa became known for her role as "Maggie Lawton", Lisa Bonet's college roommate, on the sitcom A Different World. Her real breakthrough came in 1992, when she co-starred as Joe Pesci's hilariously foul-mouthed, scene-stealing girlfriend in My Cousin Vinny, a performance that won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Later that year, she turned up briefly as a snippy "Mabel Normand" in director Richard Attenborough's biopic, Chaplin, and was soon given her first starring role in Untamed Heart. A subsequent starring role -- and attempted makeover into Audrey Hepburn -- in the romantic comedy, Only You, with Robert Downey Jr. proved only moderately successful. Marisa's other 1994 role as Michael Keaton's hugely pregnant wife in The Paper was well-received, although the film as a whole was not. Fortunately for Tomei, she was able to rebound the following year with a solid performance as a troubled single mother in Nick Cassavetes Unhook the Stars, which earned her a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Also in 1996, she made a famous guest appearance on the popular sitcom, Seinfeld, as herself. She turned in a similarly strong work in Welcome to Sarajevo and, in 1998, did some of her best work in years as a sexually liberated, unhinged woman in Slums of Beverly Hills. Marisa co-starred with Mel Gibson in the hugely successful romantic comedy, What Women Want, and, during the 2002 movie award season, she proved her first Oscar win was no fluke when she was nominated a second time for the critically-acclaimed dark drama, In the Bedroom.
Fresh off her second Oscar nomination, Marisa began acting in more mainstream films, but only a couple of them stuck out. She appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy, Someone Like You..., with Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman, and Greg Kinnear, then in The Guru and the animated feature, The Wild Thornberrys Movie. She returned to prominence in the hit comedy, Anger Management, with Adam Sandler, alongside Jack Nicholson and performed "The Vagina Monologues" onstage in 2004. That same year, she appeared opposite Jude Law in a remake of Alfie. Also in 2004, she also made a guest appearance on the animated TV phenomenon, The Simpsons, as "Sara Sloane", a movie star who falls in love with "Ned Flanders". In 2006, she went on to do 4 episodes for Rescue Me. She played "Angie", the ex-wife of "Tommy Calvin" (Denis Leary)'s brother, "Johnny" (Dean Winters). The following year, she starred as a sexy bar owner in the comedy, Wild Hogs, alongside John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy. The film was a huge box-office hit, and later that year, at age 42, Marisa took on a provocative role in legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet's melodramatic picture, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Usually modest, Marisa did several nude scenes with her costars, Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman, including a racy sex scene with Hoffman. After working on War, Inc. with John Cusack, Marisa then took on another provocative role as an aging stripper in the highly-acclaimed film, The Wrestler, opposite Mickey Rourke. Her great performance earned her many awards from numerous film societies for Best Supporting Actress, a third Academy Award nomination, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Many critics heralded this performance as a standout in her career.
A comedian. Improvisation, Sketch and Stand-up comedy are his forte.
Todd Joseph Miller was born in Denver, Colorado, to Leslie, a clinical psychologist, and Kent Miller, an attorney. He went to East High School, and college in Washington, D.C. There, he performed with the group receSs for 4 years, being the only person in his class out of 100 to audition and be accepted into the group. He remained the sole member of receSs until his junior year, when he was joined by Michael "Tuck The Ruckus" Tokaruk, an acclaimed comedian and equestrian, who taught T.J. how to ride a horse, a pastime he calls "droll." He met his future wife, Kate Gorney, when they performed in "A Chorus Line" in university production of the musical. She played The Ballerina (being an accomplished ballerina herself) and he played Richie, the African American character. He credits the casting to East High School, which was a primarily black and Latino high school, and also that no black people auditioned for the part.
During his Time in the nation's capital, he studied classical acting at B.A.D.A in Oxford, England and circus arts at Frichess Theatre Urbain. He was outstanding in the field of Stilt Walking, but was never able to execute any trick, at all, on Trapeze. He is an accomplished Clown and Juggler, having mastered 5 ball juggling, over fifty 3-ball tricks, clubs, torches, knives, and his specialty (which garnered him a Magician Membership to The Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA) Cigar Boxes.
After graduating with honors (a bachelor's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Persuasion Theory and Social Influence) he moved to Chicago where he began performing with independent improvisation teams such as the group Chuckle Sandwich, the i.o. house team Bullet Lounge, The sketch group Heavy Weight (with Mark Raterman, Nick Vatterott & Brady Novak). He toured with Second City for almost 2 years (though he was never a company member of the MainStage), and during that time he missed over 15 flights to various cities the company toured to. During his time in Chicago, he performed Standup every night for almost 4 years, never taking a night off even on Holidays. He became a regular at Chicago's famed alternative room The Lincoln Lodge, and only performed at Chicago's Zanies Comedy Club 3 times in 4 years, apparently because they had an aversion to his absurdist style.
Miller's first appearance on television was on The Standard Deviants, a PBS show aimed at providing educational DVDs and programming for schools. He played a knight and a dinosaur detective.
Proficient in every medium of comedy (he considers even 'acting' simply another medium of comedy) he is also a Voice Over Artist, having worked for Old Style, Mucinex, Cars.com among other brands as well as in feature films & animated television shows.
In 2011 he produced a 42 track E.P. entitled "The Extended Play E.P." with Comedy Central Records, a Folk/Pop/Hip Hop concept album, which he describes as satirical; aimed at celebrities that cross over into other mediums they have no business being in simply because of their brand name (he also considers himself "a proponent of the semicolon, "it is underused and feared for no particular reason"). He then remixed this album with Illegal Art, a legitimate music label, enlisting the roster of artists on the label (including the godfather of sampling, "Steinski") the same year. According to him, this was to prove that the album, when given to actual musicians, became superior to the original, in addition to satirizing artists that remix one song and sell it to listeners multiple times.
He considers his greatest performance to be his portrayal of Ranger Jones, in Yogi Bear 3D, which filmed in New Zealand and wrapped shortly before his seizure that led to the discovery of an AVM (which he alleges confirmed rather than initiated his Absurdist Philosophy). He has stated multiple times that it was the pinnacle of his artistic career, and that "it's in some ways comforting to have reached the pinnacle of his career so early on" and that is has been all downhill since that point.
Aside from being a major proponent of Denver, his hometown, he has done extensive charity work and continues to visit East High School, where he did his first stand-up performance in drama class. He credits his teacher, Melody Duggan, for much of his success and thanked her specifically in his speech when he won a Critic's Choice Award for best supporting actor in a comedy series (For HBO's Silicon Valley).
He frequently cites his compulsive and almost pathologically driven work ethic as an altruistic effort to distract people from the tragedy that permeates everyday life, and believed that comedy would be more of a contribution than psychology, since instead of affecting only at most a few hundred people dramatically, he can affect millions of people in small increments.
He has publicly stated he believes "Comedians are the new philosophers" and that academic philosophers are no longer relevant. However, he is a student of philosophy and subscribes to the ethical philosophy of John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism), which states that one should make the most amount happiness for the most amount of people, which he cites as one of the reasons he made the his decision to be a comedian. His stand-up (as of 2015) is aimed at "discussing Time and the release of the death anxiety." By the age of 33 he had read all of Nietzsche's works, and considers himself an Absurdist with philosophical roots in Nihilism.
He resides in Los Angeles, where he struggles to make meaning in an uncertain world.
Keira Christina Knightley was born in the South West Greater London suburb of Richmond on March 26th 1985. She is the daughter of actor Will Knightley and actress turned playwright Sharman Macdonald. An older brother, Caleb Knightley, was born in 1979. Her father is English, while her Scottish-born mother is of Scottish and Welsh origin. Brought up immersed in the acting profession from both sides - writing and performing - it is little wonder that the young Keira asked for her own agent at the age of three. She was granted one at the age of six and performed in her first TV role as "Little Girl" in Royal Celebration, aged seven.
It was discovered at an early age that Keira had severe difficulties in reading and writing. She was not officially dyslexic as she never sat the formal tests required of the British Dyslexia Association. Instead, she worked incredibly hard, encouraged by her family, until the problem had been overcome by her early teens. Her first multi-scene performance came in A Village Affair, an adaptation of the lesbian love story by Joanna Trollope. This was followed by small parts in the British crime series The Bill, an exiled German princess in The Treasure Seekers and a much more substantial role as the young "Judith Dunbar" in Giles Foster's adaptation of Rosamunde Pilcher's novel Coming Home, alongside Peter O'Toole, Penelope Keith and Joanna Lumley. The first time Keira's name was mentioned around the world was when it was revealed (in a plot twist kept secret by director George Lucas) that she played Natalie Portman's decoy "Padme" to Portman's "Amidala" in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. It was several years before agreement was reached over which scenes featured Keira as the queen and which featured Natalie!
Keira had no formal training as an actress and did it out of pure enjoyment. She went to an ordinary council-run school in nearby Teddington and had no idea what she wanted to do when she left. By now, she was beginning to receive far more substantial roles and was starting to turn work down as one project and her schoolwork was enough to contend with. She reappeared on British television in 1999 as "Rose Fleming" in Alan Bleasdale's faithful reworking of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, and travelled to Romania to film her first title role in Walt Disney's Princess of Thieves in which she played Robin Hood's daughter, Gwyn. Keira's first serious boyfriend was her Princess of Thieves co-star Del Synnott, and they later co-starred in Peter Hewitt's 'work of fart' Thunderpants. Nick Hamm's dark thriller The Hole kept her busy during 2000, and featured her first nude scene (15 at the time, the film was not released until she was 16 years old). In the summer of 2001, while Keira studied and sat her final school exams (she received six A's), she filmed a movie about an Asian girl's (Parminder Nagra) love for football and the prejudices she has to overcome regarding both her culture and her religion). Bend It Like Beckham was a smash hit in football-mad Britain but it had to wait until another of Keira's films propelled it to the top end of the US box office. Bend It Like Beckham cost just £3.5m to make, and nearly £1m of that came from the British Lottery. It took £11m in the UK and has since gone on to score more than US$76m worldwide.
Meanwhile, Keira had started A-levels at Esher College, studying Classics, English Literature and Political History, but continued to take acting roles which she thought would widen her experience as an actress. The story of a drug-addicted waitress and her friendship with the young son of a drug-addict, Pure, occupied Keira from January to March 2002. Also at this time, Keira's first attempt at Shakespeare was filmed. She played "Helena" in a modern interpretation of a scene from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" entitled The Seasons Alter. This was commissioned by the environmental organisation "Futerra", of which Keira's mother is patron. Keira received no fee for this performance or for another short film, New Year's Eve, by award-winning director Col Spector. But it was a chance encounter with producer Andy Harries at the London premiere of Bridget Jones's Diary which forced Keira to leave her studies and pursue acting full-time. The meeting lead to an audition for the role of "Larisa Feodorovna Guishar" - the classic heroine of Boris Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago, played famously in the David Lean movie by Julie Christie. This was to be a big-budget TV movie with a screenplay written by Andrew Davies. Keira won the part and the mini-series was filmed throughout the Spring of 2002 in Slovakia, co-starring Sam Neill and Hans Matheson as "Yuri Zhivago". Keira rounded off 2002 with a few scenes in the first movie to be directed by Blackadder and Vicar of Dibley writer Richard Curtis. Called Love Actually, Keira played "Juliet", a newlywed whose husband's Best Man is secretly besotted with her. A movie filmed after Love Actually but released before it was to make the world sit up and take notice of this beautiful fresh-faced young actress with a cute British accent. It was a movie which Keira very nearly missed out on, altogether. Auditions were held in London for a new blockbuster movie called Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, but heavy traffic in the city forced Keira to be tagged on to the end of the day's auditions list. It helped - she got the part. Filming took place in Los Angeles and the Caribbean from October 2002 to March 2003 and was released to massive box office success and almost universal acclaim in the July of that year.
Meanwhile, a small British film called Bend It Like Beckham had sneaked onto a North American release slate and was hardly setting the box office alight. But Keira's dominance in "Pirates" had set tongues wagging and questions being asked about the actress playing "Elizabeth Swann". Almost too late, "Bend It"'s distributors realised one of its two stars was the same girl whose name was on everyone's lips due to "Pirates", and took the unusual step of re-releasing "Bend It" to 1,000 screens across the US, catapulting it from no. 26 back up to no. 12. "Pirates", meanwhile, was fighting off all contenders at the top spot, and stayed in the Top 3 for an incredible 21 weeks. It was perhaps no surprise, then, that Keira was on producer Jerry Bruckheimer's wanted list for the part of "Guinevere" in a planned accurate telling of the legend of "King Arthur". Filming took place in Ireland and Wales from June to November 2003. In July, Keira had become the celebrity face of British jeweller and luxury goods retailer, Asprey. At a photoshoot for the company on Long Island New York in August, Keira met and fell in love with Northern Irish model Jamie Dornan. King Arthur was released in July 2004 to lukewarm reviews. It seems audiences wanted the legend after all, and not necessarily the truth. Keira became the breakout star and 'one to watch in 2004' throughout the world's media at the end of 2003.
Keira's 2004 started off in Scotland and Canada filming John Maybury's time-travelling thriller The Jacket with Oscar-winner Adrien Brody. A planned movie of Deborah Moggach's novel, "Tulip Fever", about forbidden love in 17th Century Amsterdam, was cancelled in February after the British government suddenly closed tax loopholes which allowed filmmakers to claw back a large proportion of their expenditure. Due to star Keira and Jude Law in the main roles, the film remains mothballed. Instead, Keira spent her time wisely, visiting Ethiopia on behalf of the "Comic Relief" charity, and spending summer at various grandiose locations around the UK filming what promises to be a faithful adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride & Prejudice, alongside Matthew Macfadyen as "Mr. Darcy", and with Donald Sutherland and Judi Dench in supporting roles. In October 2004, Keira received her first major accolade, the Hollywood Film Award for Best Breakthrough Actor - Female, and readers of Empire Magazine voted her the Sexiet Movie Star Ever. The remainder of 2004 saw Keira once again trying a completely new genre, this time the part-fact, part-fiction life story of model turned bounty hunter Domino (2005). 2005 started with the premiere of The Jacket (2005) at the Sundance Film Festival, with the US premiere in LA on February 28th. Much of the year was then spent in the Caribbean filming both sequels to Pirates Of The Caribbean. Keira's first major presenting role came in a late-night bed-in comedy clip show for Comic Relief with presenter Johnny Vaughan. In late July, promotions started for the September release of Pride & Prejudice (2005), with British fans annoyed to learn that the US version would end with a post-marriage kiss, but the European version would not. Nevertheless, when the movie opened in September on both sides of the Atlantic, Keira received her greatest praise thus far in her career, amid much talk of awards. It spent three weeks at No. 1 in the UK box office.
Domino (2005) opened well in October, overshadowed by the death of Domino Harvey earlier in the year. Keira received Variety's Personality Of The Year Award in November, topped the following month by her first Golden Globe nomination, for Pride & Prejudice (2005). KeiraWeb.com exclusively announced that Keira would play Helene Joncour in an adaptation of Alessandro Baricco's novella Silk (2007). Pride & Prejudice (2005) garnered six BAFTA nominations at the start of 2006, but not Best Actress for Keira, a fact which paled soon after by the announcement she had received her first Academy Award nomination, the third youngest Best Actress Oscar hopeful. A controversial nude Vanity Fair cover of Keira and Scarlett Johansson kept the press busy up till the Oscars, with Reese Witherspoon taking home the gold man in the Best Actress category, although Keira's Vera Wang dress got more media attention. Keira spent early summer in Europe filming Silk (2007) opposite Michael Pitt, and the rest of the summer in the UK filming Atonement (2007), in which she plays Cecilia Tallis, and promoting the new Pirates movie (her Ellen Degeneres interview became one of the year's Top 10 'viral downloads'). Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) broke many box office records when it opens worldwide in July, becoming the third biggest movie ever by early September. Keira sued British newspaper The Daily Mail in early 2007 after her image in a bikini accompanied an article about a woman who blamed slim celebrities for the death of her daughter from anorexia. The case was settled and Keira matched the settlement damages and donated the total amount to an eating disorder charity. Keira filmed a movie about the life of Dylan Thomas, The Edge Of Love (2008) with a screenplay written by her mother Sharman Macdonald. Her co-star Lindsay Lohan pulled out just a week before filming began, and was replaced by Sienna Miller.
What was announced to be Keira's final Pirates movie in the franchise, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (2007), opened strongly in June, rising to all-time fifth biggest movie by July. Atonement (2007) opened the Venice Film Festival in August, and opened worldwide in September, again to superb reviews for Keira. Meanwhile, Silk (2007) opened in September on very few screens and disappeared without a trace. Keira spent the rest of the year filming The Duchess (2008), the life story of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, based on Amanda Foreman's award-winning biography of the distant relation of Princess Diana. The year saw more accolades and poll-topping for Keira than ever before, including Women's Beauty Icon 2007 and gracing the covers of all the top-selling magazines. She won Best Actress for Atonement (2007) at the Variety Club Of Great Britain Showbiz Awards, and ended the year with her second Golden Globe nomination. Christmas Day saw - or rather heard - Keira on British TV screens in a new Robbie The Reindeer animated adventure, with DVD proceeds going to Comic Relief. At the start of 2008, Keira received her first BAFTA nomination - Best Actress for Atonement, and the movie wins Best Film: Drama at the Golden Globes. Seven Academy Award nominations for Atonement soon follow. Keira wins Best Actress for her role as Cecilia Tallis at the Empire Film Awards. In May, Keira's first Shakespearean role is announced, when she is confirmed to play Cordelia in a big-screen version of King Lear, alongside Naomi Watts and Gwyneth Paltrow, with Sir Anthony Hopkins as the titular monarch. After two years of rumours, it is confirmed that Keira is on the shortlist to play Eliza Doolittle in a new adaptation of My Fair Lady. The Edge Of Love opens the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 18th, and opens on limited release in the UK and US. A huge round of promotions for The Duchess occurs throughout the summer, with cast and crew trying to play down the marketers' decision to draw parallels between the duchess and Princess Diana. Keira attends the UK and US premieres and Toronto Film Festival within the first week of September. The Duchess opens strongly on both sides of the Atlantic. Two more movies were confirmed for Keira during September - a tale of adultery called Last Night, and a biopic of author F Scott Fitzgerald entitled The Beautiful and the Damned.
Keira spent October on the streets of New York City filming Last Night alongside Sam Worthington and Guillaume Canet. Keira helped to promote the sixtieth anniversary of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights, by contributing to a series of short films produced to mark the occasion. In January 2009 it was announced Keira had signed to play a reclusive actress in an adaptation of Ken Bruen's novel London Boulevard, co-starring Colin Farrell. Keira continues her close ties with the Comic Relief charity by helping to launch their British icons T-shirts campaign. In the same week King Lear was revealed to have been shelved, it was announced that Keira would instead star alongside her Pride & Prejudice co-star Carey Mulligan in an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Never Let Me Go. A new short film emerges in March, recorded in the January of 2008 in which Keira plays a Fairy! The Continuing and Lamentable Saga of the Suicide Brothers was written by Keira's boyfriend Rupert Friend and actor Tom Mison. It went to be shown at the London Film Festival in October and won Best Comedy Short at the New Hampshire Film Festival. Keira continued to put her celebrity to good use in 2009 with a TV commercial for WomensAid highlighting domestic abuse against women. Unfortunately, UK censors refused to allow its broadcast and it can only be viewed on YouTube. May and June asw Keira filming Never Let Me Go and London Boulevard back-to-back. In October, a new direction for Keira's career emerged, when it was announced she would appear on the London stage in her West End debut role as Jennifer, in a reworking of Moliere's The Misanthrope, starring Damian Lewis and Tara Fitzgerald. More than $2m of ticket sales followed in the first four days, before even rehearsals had begun! The play ran from December to March at London's Comedy Theatre.
Often mistaken for an American because of his skill at imitating accents, actor Tim Roth was born Simon Timothy Roth on May 14, 1961 in Lambeth, London, England. His mother, Ann, was a teacher and landscape painter. His father, Ernie, was a journalist who had changed the family name from "Smith" to "Roth"; Ernie was in Brooklyn, New York, to an immigrant family of Irish ancestry.
Tim grew up in Dulwich, a middle-class area in the south of London. He demonstrated his talent for picking up accents at an early age when he attended school in Brixton, where he faced persecution from classmates for his comfortable background and quickly perfected a cockney accent to blend in. He attended Camberwell Art College and studied sculpture before he dropped out and pursued acting.
The blonde actor's first big break was the British TV movie Made in Britain. Roth made a huge splash in that film as a young skinhead named Trevor. He next worked with director Mike Leigh on Meantime, which he has counted among his favorite projects. He debuted on the big screen when he filled in for Joe Strummer in the Stephen Frears neo-noir The Hit. Roth gained more attention for his turn as Vincent Van Gogh in Vincent & Theo and his work opposite Gary Oldman in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.
He moved to Los Angeles in search of work and caught the eye of young director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino had envisioned Roth as a possible Mr. Blonde or Mr. Pink in his heist flick Reservoir Dogs, but Roth campaigned for the role of Mr. Orange instead, and ultimately won the part. It proved to be a huge breakthrough for Roth, as audiences found it difficult to forget his performance as a member of a group of jewelry store robbers who is slowly bleeding to death. Tarantino cast Roth again in the landmark film Pulp Fiction. Roth and actress Amanda Plummer played a pair of robbers who hold up a restaurant. 1995 saw the third of Roth's collaborations with Tarantino, a surprisingly slapstick performance in the anthology film Four Rooms. That same year Roth picked up an Academy Award nomination for his campy turn as a villain in the period piece Rob Roy.
Continuing to take on disparate roles, Roth did his own singing (with an American accent to boot) in the lightweight Woody Allen musical Everyone Says I Love You. He starred opposite Tupac Shakur in Shakur's last film, the twisted comedy Gridlock'd. The pair received positive critical notices for their comic chemistry. Standing in contrast to the criminals and baddies that crowd his CV, Roth's work as the innocent, seafaring pianist in the Giuseppe Tornatore film The Legend of 1900 became something of a fan favorite. Grittier fare followed when Roth made his directorial debut with The War Zone, a frank, critically acclaimed drama about a family torn apart by incest. He made his next high-profile appearance as an actor as General Thade, an evil simian in the Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes. Roth was, of course, all but unrecognizable in his primate make-up.
Roth has continued to enjoy a mix of art house and mainstream work, including everything from the lead role in Francis Ford Coppola's esoteric Youth Without Youth to becoming "The Abomination" in the special effects-heavy blockbuster The Incredible Hulk. Roth took his first major American television role when he signed on to the Fox-TV series Lie to Me
Brittany Murphy was born Brittany Anne Bertolotti on November 10, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia, to Sharon Kathleen Murphy and Angelo Joseph Bertolotti. Her father's ancestry is Italian, and her mother is of Irish and Slovak descent. Her father moved the family back to Edison, New Jersey as a native New Yorker and to be closer to other siblings from previous marriages. While dining out one night in the presence of Hollywood royalty, Brittany at the age of 5 approached an adjoining table when Academy Award nominee Burt Reynolds and George Segal were seated. Brittany introduced herself to the Hollywood legends and confidently told them that someday she too would be a star. She comes from a long line of international musicians and performers with three half-brothers and a sister. Angelo Bertolotti was torn from their tight-knit family as a made-man with the Italian Mafia. The Senior Bertolotti, who coined the nickname of "Britt" for his daughter, was also an entrepreneur and diplomat for organized crime families and one of the first to be subjected to a RICO prosecution. Brittany's interests and well-being were always her father's first goal and objective. To distance his talented daughter from his infamous past, Angelo allowed Sharon to use her maiden for Brittany's, so that her shining star would not be overshadowed by a father's past, with the couple divorcing thereafter. Brittany began receiving accolades and applause in regional theater at the early age of 9. At the age of 13, Brittany landed several national commercials. She appeared on television and caught the attention of a personal manager and an agent. Soon, Brittany's mother Sharon turned full-time to being a "Stage Mom" where Angelo provided financial support throughout and their relationship is memorialized with a long and close history in pictures. The hopeful daughter and mother moved to Burbank, CA, where Brittany landed her first television role on Blossom. Hearts and doors opened up for a starring role on Drexell's Class, a short lived TV series. Brittany's big screen movie debut started with Clueless, where she was co-starring with Alicia Silverstone. Britt soared, demonstrating her musical and artistic talents with dramatic and comedic roles landing a nomination for best leading female performance in the Young Artist Awards for her role in the television film David and Lisa. Brittany garnered tremendous attention for her role in Girl, Interrupted with Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie. Brittany's band, "Blessed Soul" was growing with her as lead singer and Britt lent her vocal talents to the TV hit, cartoon sensation, King of the Hill as the voice of Luanne. Brittany is alleged to have been a witness in the case of the former Department of Homeland Security employee Julia Davis. According to Davis, Brittany and her fiancée Simon Monjack were then targeted for retaliation that included land and aerial surveillance and a threatened prosecution. Monjack was arrested and detained by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Brittany and Simon confided in Alex Ben Block of the Hollywood Reporter, telling him in an interview that they were under surveillance by helicopters and their telephones have been wiretapped. This information was published by THR posthumously, in an article entitled "The Last Difficult Days of Brittany Murphy." On December 20, 2009, Brittany Murphy died an untimely death. The LAPD and Los Angeles County Coroner closed the case within one hour, attributing her death to pneumonia and anemia. Five months after Brittany's unexpected demise, her husband Simon Monjack was found dead in the house he shared with Brittany. The chief/spokesperson at the Los Angeles County Dept of Coroner, Craig Harvey, stated that Simon also died from the same exact causes as his wife, namely pneumonia and anemia. Neither Brittany, nor Simon, were given a thorough and complete forensic autopsy for poisons. Brittany's father, Angelo "AJ" Bertolotti, is pursuing the investigation of the true reasons behind Brittany's and Simon's sudden demise, as he believes that the two were murdered. Abnormally high levels of heavy metals and poisons were discovered in Brittany's hair, tested by two other independent forensic labs with famed Pathologist, attorney Cyril Wecht concluded from the appearances, Brittany could have been murdered and should be exhumed. Her father Angelo is preparing court actions to ensure Brittany obtains justice.
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949, a decision for which he was severely criticized when his star began to dim in the 1960s and he was excoriated for squandering his talents. No actor ever exerted such a profound influence on succeeding generations of actors as did Brando. More than 50 years after he first scorched the screen as Stanley Kowalski in the movie version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and a quarter-century after his last great performance as Col. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, all American actors are still being measured by the yardstick that was Brando. It was if the shadow of John Barrymore, the great American actor closest to Brando in terms of talent and stardom, dominated the acting field up until the 1970s. He did not, nor did any other actor so dominate the public's consciousness of what WAS an actor before or since Brando's 1951 on-screen portrayal of Stanley made him a cultural icon. Brando eclipsed the reputation of other great actors circa 1950, such as Paul Muni and Fredric March. Only the luster of Spencer Tracy's reputation hasn't dimmed when seen in the starlight thrown off by Brando. However, neither Tracy nor Olivier created an entire school of acting just by the force of his personality. Brando did.
Marlon Brando, Jr. was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a calcium carbonate salesman, and his artistically inclined wife, the former Dorothy Julia Pennebaker. "Bud" Brando was one of three children. His ancestry included English, Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, and Scottish; his surname originated with a distant German immigrant ancestor named "Brandau". His oldest sister Jocelyn Brando was also an actress, taking after their mother, who engaged in amateur theatricals and mentored a then-unknown Henry Fonda, another Nebraska native, in her role as director of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Frannie, Brando's other sibling, was a visual artist. Both Brando sisters contrived to leave the Midwest for New York City, Jocelyn to study acting and Frannie to study art. Marlon managed to escape the vocational doldrums forecast for him by his cold, distant father and his disapproving schoolteachers by striking out for The Big Apple in 1943, following Jocelyn into the acting profession. Acting was the only thing he was good at, for which he received praise, so he was determined to make it his career - a high-school dropout, he had nothing else to fall back on, having been rejected by the military due to a knee injury he incurred playing football at Shattuck Military Academy, Brando Sr.'s alma mater. The school booted Marlon out as incorrigible before graduation.
Acting was a skill he honed as a child, the lonely son of alcoholic parents. With his father away on the road, and his mother frequently intoxicated to the point of stupefaction, the young Bud would play-act for her to draw her out of her stupor and to attract her attention and love. His mother was exceedingly neglectful, but he loved her, particularly for instilling in him a love of nature, a feeling which informed his character Paul in Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris") when he is recalling his childhood for his young lover Jeanne. "I don't have many good memories," Paul confesses, and neither did Brando of his childhood. Sometimes he had to go down to the town jail to pick up his mother after she had spent the night in the drunk tank and bring her home, events that traumatized the young boy but may have been the grain that irritated the oyster of his talent, producing the pearls of his performances. Anthony Quinn, his Oscar-winning co-star in Viva Zapata! told Brando's first wife Anna Kashfi, "I admire Marlon's talent, but I don't envy the pain that created it."
Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Konstantin Stanislavski, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theater would mark a watershed in American acting and culture.
Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in "I Remember Mama," a great success. As a young Broadway actor, Brando was invited by talent scouts from several different studios to screen-test for them, but he turned them down because he would not let himself be bound by the then-standard seven-year contract. Brando would make his film debut quite some time later in Fred Zinnemann's The Men for producer Stanley Kramer. Playing a paraplegic soldier, Brando brought new levels of realism to the screen, expanding on the verisimilitude brought to movies by Group Theatre alumni John Garfield, the predecessor closest to him in the raw power he projected on-screen. Ironically, it was Garfield whom producer Irene Mayer Selznick had chosen to play the lead in a new Tennessee Williams play she was about to produce, but negotiations broke down when Garfield demanded an ownership stake in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Burt Lancaster was next approached, but couldn't get out of a prior film commitment. Then director Elia Kazan suggested Brando, whom he had directed to great effect in Maxwell Anderson's play "Truckline Café," in which Brando co-starred with Karl Malden, who was to remain a close friend for the next 60 years.
During the production of "Truckline Café", Kazan had found that Brando's presence was so magnetic, he had to re-block the play to keep Marlon near other major characters' stage business, as the audience could not take its eyes off of him. For the scene where Brando's character re-enters the stage after killing his wife, Kazan placed him upstage-center, partially obscured by scenery, but where the audience could still see him as Karl Malden and others played out their scene within the café set. When he eventually entered the scene, crying, the effect was electric. A young Pauline Kael, arriving late to the play, had to avert her eyes when Brando made this entrance as she believed the young actor on stage was having a real-life conniption. She did not look back until her escort commented that the young man was a great actor.
The problem with casting Brando as Stanley was that he was much younger than the character as written by Williams. However, after a meeting between Brando and Williams, the playwright eagerly agreed that Brando would make an ideal Stanley. Williams believed that by casting a younger actor, the Neanderthalish Kowalski would evolve from being a vicious older man to someone whose unintentional cruelty can be attributed to his youthful ignorance. Brando ultimately was dissatisfied with his performance, though, saying he never was able to bring out the humor of the character, which was ironic as his characterization often drew laughs from the audience at the expense of Jessica Tandy's Blanche Dubois. During the out-of-town tryouts, Kazan realized that Brando's magnetism was attracting attention and audience sympathy away from Blanche to Stanley, which was not what the playwright intended. The audience's sympathy should be solely with Blanche, but many spectators were identifying with Stanley. Kazan queried Williams on the matter, broaching the idea of a slight rewrite to tip the scales back to more of a balance between Stanley and Blanche, but Williams demurred, smitten as he was by Brando, just like the preview audiences.
For his part, Brando believed that the audience sided with his Stanley because Jessica Tandy was too shrill. He thought Vivien Leigh, who played the part in the movie, was ideal, as she was not only a great beauty but she WAS Blanche Dubois, troubled as she was in her real life by mental illness and nymphomania. Brando's appearance as Stanley on stage and on screen revolutionized American acting by introducing "The Method" into American consciousness and culture. Method acting, rooted in Adler's study at the Moscow Art Theatre of Stanislavsky's theories that she subsequently introduced to the Group Theatre, was a more naturalistic style of performing, as it engendered a close identification of the actor with the character's emotions. Adler took first place among Brando's acting teachers, and socially she helped turn him from an unsophisticated Midwestern farm boy into a knowledgeable and cosmopolitan artist who one day would socialize with presidents.
Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Brando denounced Strasberg in his autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me" (1994), saying that he was a talentless exploiter who claimed he had been Brando's mentor. The Actors Studio had been founded by Strasberg along with Kazan and Stella Adler's husband, Harold Clurman, all Group Theatre alumni, all political progressives deeply committed to the didactic function of the stage. Brando credits his knowledge of the craft to Adler and Kazan, while Kazan in his autobiography "A Life" claimed that Brando's genius thrived due to the thorough training Adler had given him. Adler's method emphasized that authenticity in acting is achieved by drawing on inner reality to expose deep emotional experience
Interestingly, Elia Kazan believed that Brando had ruined two generations of actors, his contemporaries and those who came after him, all wanting to emulate the great Brando by employing The Method. Kazan felt that Brando was never a Method actor, that he had been highly trained by Adler and did not rely on gut instincts for his performances, as was commonly believed. Many a young actor, mistaken about the true roots of Brando's genius, thought that all it took was to find a character's motivation, empathize with the character through sense and memory association, and regurgitate it all on stage to become the character. That's not how the superbly trained Brando did it; he could, for example, play accents, whereas your average American Method actor could not. There was a method to Brando's art, Kazan felt, but it was not The Method.
After A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he received the first of his eight Academy Award nominations, Brando appeared in a string of Academy Award-nominated performances - in Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar and the summit of his early career, Kazan's On the Waterfront. For his "Waterfront" portrayal of meat-headed longshoreman Terry Malloy, the washed-up pug who "coulda been a contender," Brando won his first Oscar. Along with his iconic performance as the rebel-without-a-cause Johnny in The Wild One ("What are you rebelling against?" Johnny is asked. "What have ya got?" is his reply), the first wave of his career was, according to Jon Voight, unprecedented in its audacious presentation of such a wide range of great acting. Director John Huston said his performance of Marc Antony was like seeing the door of a furnace opened in a dark room, and co-star John Gielgud, the premier Shakespearean actor of the 20th century, invited Brando to join his repertory company.
It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionized American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean - who modeled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando - the young Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. After Brando, every up-and-coming star with true acting talent and a brooding, alienated quality would be hailed as the "New Brando," such as Warren Beatty in Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. "We are all Brando's children," Jack Nicholson pointed out in 1972. "He gave us our freedom." He was truly "The Godfather" of American acting - and he was just 30 years old. Though he had a couple of failures, like Désirée and The Teahouse of the August Moon, he was clearly miscast in them and hadn't sought out the parts so largely escaped blame.
In the second period of his career, 1955-62, Brando managed to uniquely establish himself as a great actor who also was a Top 10 movie star, although that star began to dim after the box-office high point of his early career, Sayonara (for which he received his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination). Brando tried his hand at directing a film, the well-reviewed One-Eyed Jacks that he made for his own production company, Pennebaker Productions (after his mother's maiden name). Stanley Kubrick had been hired to direct the film, but after months of script rewrites in which Brando participated, Kubrick and Brando had a falling out and Kubrick was sacked. According to his widow Christiane Kubrick, Stanley believed that Brando had wanted to direct the film himself all along.
Tales proliferated about the profligacy of Brando the director, burning up a million and a half feet of expensive VistaVision film at 50 cents a foot, fully ten times the normal amount of raw stock expended during production of an equivalent motion picture. Brando took so long editing the film that he was never able to present the studio with a cut. Paramount took it away from him and tacked on a re-shot ending that Brando was dissatisfied with, as it made the Oedipal figure of Dad Longworth into a villain. In any normal film Dad would have been the heavy, but Brando believed that no one was innately evil, that it was a matter of an individual responding to, and being molded by, one's environment. It was not a black-and-white world, Brando felt, but a gray world in which once-decent people could do horrible things. This attitude explains his sympathetic portrayal of Nazi officer Christian Diestl in the film he made before shooting One-Eyed Jacks, Edward Dmytryk's filming of Irwin Shaw's novel The Young Lions. Shaw denounced Brando's performance, but audiences obviously disagreed, as the film was a major hit. It would be the last hit movie Brando would have for more than a decade.
One-Eyed Jacks generated respectable numbers at the box office, but the production costs were exorbitant - a then-staggering $6 million - which made it run a deficit. A film essentially is "made" in the editing room, and Brando found cutting to be a terribly boring process, which was why the studio eventually took the film away from him. Despite his proved talent in handling actors and a large production, Brando never again directed another film, though he would claim that all actors essentially direct themselves during the shooting of a picture.
Between the production and release of One-Eyed Jacks, Brando appeared in Sidney Lumet's film version of Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending", The Fugitive Kind which teamed him with fellow Oscar winners Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. Following in Elizabeth Taylor's trailblazing footsteps, Brando became the second performer to receive a $1-million salary for a motion picture, so high were the expectations for this re-teaming of Kowalski and his creator (in 1961 critic Hollis Alpert had published a book "Brando and the Shadow of Stanley Kowalski). Critics and audiences waiting for another incendiary display from Brando in a Williams work were disappointed when the renamed The Fugitive Kind finally released. Though Tennessee was hot, with movie versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer burning up the box office and receiving kudos from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The Fugitive Kind was a failure. This was followed by the so-so box-office reception of One-Eyed Jacks in 1961 and then by a failure of a more monumental kind: Mutiny on the Bounty, a remake of the famed 1935 film.
Brando signed on to Mutiny on the Bounty after turning down the lead in the David Lean classic Lawrence of Arabia because he didn't want to spend a year in the desert riding around on a camel. He received another $1-million salary, plus $200,000 in overages as the shoot went overtime and over budget. During principal photography, highly respected director Carol Reed (an eventual Academy Award winner) was fired, and his replacement, two-time Oscar winner Lewis Milestone, was shunted aside by Brando as Marlon basically took over the direction of the film himself. The long shoot became so notorious that President John F. Kennedy asked director Billy Wilder at a cocktail party not "when" but "if" the "Bounty" shoot would ever be over. The MGM remake of one of its classic Golden Age films garnered a Best Picture Oscar nomination and was one of the top grossing films of 1962, yet failed to go into the black due to its Brobdingnagian budget estimated at $20 million, which is equivalent to $120 million when adjusted for inflation.
Brando and Taylor, whose Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century-Fox due to its huge cost overruns (its final budget was more than twice that of Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty), were pilloried by the show business press for being the epitome of the pampered, self-indulgent stars who were ruining the industry. Seeking scapegoats, the Hollywood press conveniently ignored the financial pressures on the studios. The studios had been hurt by television and by the antitrust-mandated divestiture of their movie theater chains, causing a large outflow of production to Italy and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s in order to lower costs. The studio bosses, seeking to replicate such blockbuster hits as the remakes of The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, were the real culprits behind the losses generated by large-budgeted films that found it impossible to recoup their costs despite long lines at the box office.
While Elizabeth Taylor, receiving the unwanted gift of reams of publicity from her adulterous romance with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, remained hot until the tanking of her own Tennessee Williams-renamed debacle Boom!, Brando from 1963 until the end of the decade appeared in one box-office failure after another as he worked out a contract he had signed with Universal Pictures. The industry had grown tired of Brando and his idiosyncrasies, though he continued to be offered prestige projects up through 1968.
Some of the films Brando made in the 1960s were noble failures, such as The Ugly American, The Chase and Reflections in a Golden Eye. For every "Reflections," though, there seemed to be two or three outright debacles, such as Bedtime Story, Morituri, A Countess from Hong Kong, Candy, The Night of the Following Day. By the time Brando began making the anti-colonialist picture Burn! in Colombia with Gillo Pontecorvo in the director's chair, he was box-office poison, despite having worked in the previous five years with such top directors as Arthur Penn, John Huston and the legendary Charles Chaplin, and with such top-drawer co-stars as David Niven, Yul Brynner, Sophia Loren and Taylor.
The rap on Brando in the 1960s was that a great talent had ruined his potential to be America's answer to Laurence Olivier, as his friend William Redfield limned the dilemma in his book "Letters from an Actor" (1967), a memoir about Redfield's appearance in Burton's 1964 theatrical production of "Hamlet." By failing to go back on stage and recharge his artistic batteries, something British actors such as Burton were not afraid to do, Brando had stifled his great talent, by refusing to tackle the classical repertoire and contemporary drama. Actors and critics had yearned for an American response to the high-acting style of the Brits, and while Method actors such as Rod Steiger tried to create an American style, they were hampered in their quest, as their king was lost in a wasteland of Hollywood movies that were beneath his talent. Many of his early supporters now turned on him, claiming he was a crass sellout.
Despite evidence in such films as The Chase, The Appaloosa and Reflections in a Golden Eye that Brando was in fact doing some of the best acting of his life, critics, perhaps with an eye on the box office, slammed him for failing to live up to, and nurture, his great gift. Brando's political activism, starting in the early 1960s with his championing of Native Americans' rights, followed by his participation in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's March on Washington in 1963, and followed by his appearance at a Black Panther rally in 1968, did not win him many admirers in the establishment. In fact, there was a de facto embargo on Brando films in the recently segregated (officially, at least) southeastern US in the 1960s. Southern exhibitors simply would not book his films, and producers took notice. After 1968, Brando would not work for three years.
Pauline Kael wrote of Brando that he was Fortune's fool. She drew a parallel with the latter career of John Barrymore, a similarly gifted thespian with talents as prodigious, who seemingly threw them away. Brando, like the late-career Barrymore, had become a great ham, evidenced by his turn as the faux Indian guru in the egregious Candy, seemingly because the material was so beneath his talent. Most observers of Brando in the 1960s believed that he needed to be reunited with his old mentor Elia Kazan, a relationship that had soured due to Kazan's friendly testimony naming names before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. Perhaps Brando believed this, too, as he originally accepted an offer to appear as the star of Kazan's film adaptation of his own novel, The Arrangement. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Brando backed out of the film, telling Kazan that he could not appear in a Hollywood film after this tragedy. Also reportedly turning down a role opposite box-office king Paul Newman in a surefire script, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Brando decided to make Burn! with Pontecorvo. The film, a searing indictment of racism and colonialism, flopped at the box office but won the esteem of progressive critics and cultural arbiters such as Howard Zinn.
Kazan, after a life in film and the theater, said that, aside from Orson Welles, whose greatness lay in filmmaking, he only met one actor who was a genius: Brando. Richard Burton, an intellectual with a keen eye for observation if not for his own film projects, said that he found Brando to be very bright, unlike the public perception of him as a Terry Malloy-type character that he himself inadvertently promoted through his boorish behavior. Brando's problem, Burton felt, was that he was unique, and that he had gotten too much fame too soon at too early an age. Cut off from being nurtured by normal contact with society, fame had distorted Brando's personality and his ability to cope with the world, as he had not had time to grow up outside the limelight.
Truman Capote, who eviscerated Brando in print in the mid-'50s and had as much to do with the public perception of the dyslexic Brando as a dumbbell, always said that the best actors were ignorant, and that an intelligent person could not be a good actor. However, Brando was highly intelligent, and possessed of a rare genius in a then-deprecated art, acting. The problem that an intelligent performer has in movies is that it is the director, and not the actor, who has the power in his chosen field. Greatness in the other arts is defined by how much control the artist is able to exert over his chosen medium, but in movie acting, the medium is controlled by a person outside the individual artist. It is an axiom of the cinema that a performance, as is a film, is "created" in the cutting room, thus further removing the actor from control over his art. Brando had tried his hand at directing, in controlling the whole artistic enterprise, but he could not abide the cutting room, where a film and the film's performances are made. This lack of control over his art was the root of Brando's discontent with acting, with movies, and, eventually, with the whole wide world that invested so much cachet in movie actors, as long as "they" were at the top of the box-office charts. Hollywood was a matter of "they" and not the work, and Brando became disgusted.
Charlton Heston, who participated in Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington with Brando, believes that Marlon was the great actor of his generation. However, noting a story that Brando had once refused a role in the early 1960s with the excuse "How can I act when people are starving in India?", Heston believes that it was this attitude, the inability to separate one's idealism from one's work, that prevented Brando from reaching his potential. As Rod Steiger once said, Brando had it all, great stardom and a great talent. He could have taken his audience on a trip to the stars, but he simply would not. Steiger, one of Brando's children even though a contemporary, could not understand it. When James Mason' was asked in 1971 who was the best American actor, he had replied that since Brando had let his career go belly-up, it had to be George C. Scott, by default.
Paramount thought that only Laurence Olivier would suffice, but Lord Olivier was ill. The young director believed there was only one actor who could play godfather to the group of Young Turk actors he had assembled for his film, The Godfather of method acting himself - Marlon Brando. Francis Ford Coppola won the fight for Brando, Brando won - and refused - his second Oscar, and Paramount won a pot of gold by producing the then top-grossing film of all-time, The Godfather, a gangster movie most critics now judge one of the greatest American films of all time. Brando followed his iconic portrayal of Don Corleone with his Oscar-nominated turn in the high-grossing and highly scandalous Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris"), the first film dealing explicitly with sexuality in which an actor of Brando's stature had participated. He was now again a Top-Ten box office star and once again heralded as the greatest actor of his generation, an unprecedented comeback that put him on the cover of "Time" magazine and would make him the highest-paid actor in the history of motion pictures by the end of the decade. Little did the world know that Brando, who had struggled through many projects in good faith during the 1960s, delivering some of his best acting, only to be excoriated and ignored as the films did not do well at the box office, essentially was through with the movies.
After reaching the summit of his career, a rarefied atmosphere never reached before or since by any actor, Brando essentially walked away. He would give no more of himself after giving everything as he had done in "Last Tango in Paris," a performance that embarrassed him, according to his autobiography. Brando had come as close to any actor to being the "auteur," or author, of a film, as the English-language scenes of "Tango" were created by encouraging Brando to improvise. The improvisations were written down and turned into a shooting script, and the scripted improvisations were shot the next day. Pauline Kael, the Brando of movie critics in that she was the most influential arbiter of cinematic quality of her generation and spawned a whole legion of Kael wanna-bes, said Brando's performance in Last Tango in Paris had revolutionized the art of film. Brando, who had to act to gain his mother's attention; Brando, who believed acting at best was nothing special as everyone in the world engaged in it every day of their lives to get what they wanted from other people; Brando, who believed acting at its worst was a childish charade and that movie stardom was a whorish fraud, would have agreed with Sam Peckinpah's summation of Pauline Kael: "Pauline's a brilliant critic but sometimes she's just cracking walnuts with her ass." Probably in a simulacrum of those words, too.
After another three-year hiatus, Brando took on just one more major role for the next 20 years, as the bounty hunter after Jack Nicholson in Arthur Penn's The Missouri Breaks, a western that succeeded neither with the critics or at the box office. Following The Godfather and Tango, Brando's performance was disappointing for some reviewers, who accused him of giving an erratic and inconsistent performance. In 1977, Brando made a rare appearance on television in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations, portraying George Lincoln Rockwell; he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his performance. In 1978, he narrated the English version of Raoni, a French-Belgian documentary film directed by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux and Luiz Carlos Saldanha that focused on the life of Raoni Metuktire and issues surrounding the survival of the indigenous Indian tribes of north central Brazil.
Later in his career, Brando concentrated on extracting the maximum amount of capital for the least amount of work from producers, as when he got the Salkind brothers to pony up a then-record $3.7 million against 10% of the gross for 13 days work on Superman. Factoring in inflation, the straight salary for "Superman" equals or exceeds the new record of $1 million a day Harrison Ford set with K-19: The Widowmaker. He agreed to the role only on assurance that he would be paid a large sum for what amounted to a small part, that he would not have to read the script beforehand, and his lines would be displayed somewhere off-camera. Brando also filmed scenes for the movie's sequel, Superman II, but after producers refused to pay him the same percentage he received for the first movie, he denied them permission to use the footage.
Before cashing his first paycheck for Superman, Brando had picked up $2 million for his extended cameo in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in a role, that of Col. Kurtz, that he authored on-camera through improvisation while Coppola shot take after take. It was Brando's last bravura star performance. He co-starred with 'George C. Scott' and 'John Gielud' in _The Formula_, but the film was another critical and financial failure. Years later though, he did receive an eighth and final Oscar nomination for his supporting role in A Dry White Season after coming out of a near-decade-long retirement. Contrary to those who claimed he now only was in it for the money, Brando donated his entire seven-figure salary to an anti-apartheid charity. He then did an amusing performance in the comedy The Freshman, winning rave reviews. He portrayed Tomas de Torquemada in the historical drama 1492: Conquest of Paradise, but his performance was denounced and the film was a box office failure. He made another comeback in the Johnny Depp romantic drama Don Juan DeMarco, which co-starred Faye Dunaway as his wife.
Brando had first attracted media attention at the age of 24, when "Life" magazine ran a photo of himself and his sister Jocelyn, who were both then appearing on Broadway. The curiosity continued, and snowballed. Playing the paraplegic soldier of The Men, Brando had gone to live at a Veterans Administration hospital with actual disabled veterans, and confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks. It was an acting method, research, that no one in Hollywood had ever heard of before, and that willingness to experience life.
Erika Jane Christensen was born in 1982 in Seattle, Washington, to Kathy (Hendricks), a construction manager, and Steven Christensen, a human resources executive and insurance worker. She was raised in the suburban outskirts of Los Angeles, California. At age 12, Erika knew that she was going to be an actress. Talented in acting, singing and dance, the young Christensen was determined, not just lucky; it wasn't long before she landed her first job: a commercial for national advertising giant, McDonalds. She followed up with a part in Michael Jackson's music video for "Childhood," then landed her big break: a lead role in Disney's Leave It to Beaver. Christensen was only 13 years old, but acclaimed by critics for her "chemistry" and "radiant self-assurance." Guest spots on television followed. Christensen popped up everywhere including prime time heavy hitters like Frasier, Nothing Sacred, The Practice, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Touched by an Angel. Erika received a nomination by the Hollywood Reporter for the 1998 Young Star Award (Best Performance By A Young Actress in a TV Drama Series) for her outstanding performance in Nothing Sacred. Erika also kept her big screen presence known, in 1999 she worked on a Disney made-for-tv movie called Can of Worms. And in 2000 Erika was able to show the world her acting chops when she took the gritty role of Caroline Wakefield, a teenage daughter of the White House Drug Czar who is herself a drug addict, in the award-winning Steven Soderbergh film, Traffic. Aside from the distinction of playing alongside Hollywood's elite, Erika earned critical acclaim for the realism of the role, and received multiple awards including Female Breakthrough Performance at the MTV Movie Awards, Female Standout Performance at the Young Hollywood Awards, and Outstanding Performance by a Cast Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Erika is of Norwegian (from her paternal grandmother), Danish, English, German, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish descent.
Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953. He began attending The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre In New York City on the G.I. Bill in 1955, studying under Sanford Meisner along with Dustin Hoffman, with whom Duvall shared an apartment. Both were close to another struggling young actor named Gene Hackman. Meisner cast Duvall in the play "The Midnight Caller" by Horton Foote, a link that would prove critical to his career, as it was Foote who recommended Duvall to play the mentally disabled "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird. This was his first "major" role since his 1956 motion picture debut as an MP was in Somebody Up There Likes Me, starring Paul Newman.
Duvall began making a name for himself as a stage actor in New York, winning an Obie Award in 1965 playing incest-minded longshoreman "Eddie Carbone" in the off-Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge", a production for which his old roommate Hoffman was assistant director. He found steady work in episodic TV and appeared as a modestly billed character actor in films, such as Arthur Penn's The Chase with Marlon Brando and in Robert Altman's Countdown and Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People, in both of which he co-starred with James Caan.
He was also memorable as the heavy who is shot by John Wayne at the climax of True Grit and was the first "Maj. Frank Burns", creating the character in Altman's Korean War comedy MASH. He also appeared as the eponymous lead in George Lucas' directorial debut, THX 1138. It was Francis Ford Coppola, casting The Godfather, who reunited Duvall with Brando and Caan and provided him with his career breakthrough as mob lawyer "Tom Hagen". He received the first of his six Academy Award nominations for the role.
Thereafter, Duvall had steady work in featured roles in such films as The Godfather: Part II, The Killer Elite, Network, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The Eagle Has Landed. Occasionally this actor's actor got the chance to assay a lead role, most notably in Tomorrow, in which he was brilliant as William Faulkner's inarticulate backwoods farmer. He was less impressive as the lead in Badge 373, in which he played a character based on real-life NYPD detective Eddie Egan, the same man his old friend Gene Hackman had won an Oscar for playing, in fictionalized form as "Popeye Doyle" in The French Connection.
It was his appearance as "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in another Coppola picture, Apocalypse Now, that solidified Duvall's reputation as a great actor. He got his second Academy Award nomination for the role, and was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most versatile actor in the world. Duvall created one of the most memorable characters ever assayed on film, and gave the world the memorable phrase, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!".
Subsequently, Duvall proved one of the few established character actors to move from supporting to leading roles, with his Oscar-nominated turns in The Great Santini and Tender Mercies, the latter of which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Now at the summit of his career, Duvall seemed to be afflicted with the fabled "Oscar curse" that had overwhelmed the careers of fellow Academy Award winners Luise Rainer, Rod Steiger and Cliff Robertson. He could not find work equal to his talents, either due to his post-Oscar salary demands or a lack of perception in the industry that he truly was leading man material. He did not appear in The Godfather: Part III, as the studio would not give in to his demands for a salary commensurate with that of Al Pacino, who was receiving $5 million to reprise Michael Corleone.
His greatest achievement in his immediate post-Oscar period was his triumphant characterization of grizzled Texas Ranger Gus McCrae in the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove, for which he received an Emmy nomination. He received a second Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in Stalin, and a third Emmy nomination playing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in The Man Who Captured Eichmann.
The shakeout of his career doldrums was that Duvall eventually settled back into his status as one of the premier character actors in the industry, rivaled only by his old friend Gene Hackman. Duvall, unlike Hackman, also has directed pictures, including the documentary We're Not the Jet Set, Angelo My Love and Assassination Tango. As a writer-director, Duvall gave himself one of his most memorable roles, that of the preacher on the run from the law in The Apostle, a brilliant performance for which he received his third Best Actor nomination and fifth Oscar nomination overall. The film brought Duvall back to the front ranks of great actors, and was followed by a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for A Civil Action.
Robert Duvall will long be remembered as one of the great naturalistic American screen actors in the mode of Spencer Tracy and his frequent co-star Marlon Brando. His performances as "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird, "Jackson Fentry" in Tomorrow, "Tom Hagen" in the first two "Godfather" movies, "Frank Hackett" in Network, "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in Apocalypse Now, "Bull Meechum" in The Great Santini, "Mac Sledge" in Tender Mercies, "Gus McCrae" in Lonesome Dove and "Sonny Dewey" in The Apostle rank as some of the finest acting ever put on film. It's a body of work that few actors can equal, let alone surpass.
Zach Galifianakis was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, to Mary Frances (Cashion), who owned a community arts center, and Harry Galifianakis, a heating oil vendor. His father is of Greek descent and his mother is of mostly English and Scottish ancestry. Zach moved to New York City after failing his last college class by one point. Zach got his start performing his brand of humor in the back of a hamburger joint in Times Square. He toured the country, performing in coffee shops and universities.
After more than a decade performing stand-up and making both television and film appearances, Zach broke through to wider recognition with his co-starring role as "Alan Garner", in the comedy mega-hit, The Hangover. Later that year, he played a large role in the CGI-heavy kids movie, G-Force, and then appeared in memorable supporting parts in the films, Up in the Air (as a laid-off employee), Youth in Revolt (as a loutish stepfather), and Dinner for Schmucks, as one of the title characters. More recently, he co-starred with Keir Gilchrist in the teen dramedy, It's Kind of a Funny Story, with Robert Downey Jr. in the road trip comedy, Due Date, and alongside Will Ferrell in the political spoof, The Campaign. He also voiced "Humpty Dumpty" in the animated film, Puss in Boots, and reprised his character in both The Hangover Part II and the upcoming, The Hangover Part III.
When not performing and acting, Zach spends time at his home in the mountains of his native North Carolina, where he hopes to open a writer's retreat on a completely self-sustained farm.
On the viewing horizon since the late 1980s, actress Maura Tierney has been a steady product of independent features, some hits and some misses, for close to a decade and a half. An odd and compelling beauty, she came from an upperscale Bostonian family and was raised in the Hyde Park district. Born February 3, 1965, the eldest child of three to a prosperous politician and city councilman father and real estate agent mother, Maura initially studied at New York University but left school prior to graduation when she hooked up with the Circle-in-the-Square theater school. Following some stage plays including "Baby with the Bathwater" and "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea," she moved to the West Coast in the late 1980s finding minor roles here and there in TV-movies and making the rounds on episodic shows such as Growing Pains, Family Ties and Law & Order. She met actor/husband Billy Morrissette after both were fired from the set of an eventually-scrapped Ralph Macchio series. After a few other failed pilots and a short-lived TV series, Maura made a minor film debut with The Linguini Incident and progressed to leading lady status in the B-movie spoof Dead Women in Lingerie, which didn't go over well. She finally hit paydirt on TV when she won a female co-lead as smart but insecure newswriter Lisa Miller on the comedy series NewsRadio. The show sailed along for a number of seasons due to the fine comedy instincts of Dave Foley, Andy Dick and the late Saturday Night Live player Phil Hartman. The show lost its oomph, however, as well as its audience after Hartman's tragic 1998 shotgun slaying, despite an assured replacement in fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Jon Lovitz. The show couldn't escape its bad aura, and it was gone the following year.
Maura's work on the TV sitcom thrust her into the film comedy limelight with prominent roles in such films as the Jim Carrey vehicle Liar Liar. She also showed up as sly, darker-edged femmes in the thriller Primal Fear, Primary Colors and Instinct. She received one of her best art-house roles as a heavy in her husband's feature Scotland, Pa.--he wrote and directed. It was back to steady TV work, however, into the millennium with the role of Abby, who was first a nurse and then a doctor, in the long-established and critically-acclaimed medical drama series ER, where she still resides on the staff. The L.A.-based actress and her husband enjoy traveling in their spare time.
Shelley Alexis Duvall was born in Houston, Texas, to Bobbie Ruth (Massengale) and Robert Richardson Duvall, a lawyer. During her childhood, Shelley's mother humorously gave Shelley the nickname "Manic Mouse", because she would often run around her house and tip over furniture. Shelley however was more than a mouse, but rather quite the little artist. Her favorite thing to do when she was very young was draw. She also has three brothers: Scott, Shane, and Stewart.
Shelley graduated from Waltrip High School in Texas and at first became a cosmetics salesperson. It was in 1970 when Shelley was discovered by talent scouts at a local party. Director Robert Altman wanted to cast Shelley in a film that he was making during the time. Shelley had experience in acting in high school plays at the time and took Altman's offer and she appeared in her first film Brewster McCloud. Altman was so fascinated by her performance that she appeared in his next films including: McCabe and Mrs. Miller in 1971, Thieves Like Us in 1974, and Nashville in 1975. Aside from these three successful films, Duvall's acting blossomed in her leading role as Mille Lammoroux in 3 Women in 1977. Duvall's acting was so superb that she won Best Actress at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. Shelley also starred as Bernice in Joan Micklin Silver's Bernice Bobs Her Hair in 1976, and had a cameo in Woody Allen's Annie Hall in 1977. In the same year, Shelley also hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live.
When the 1980s hit, Duvall's career was just beginning. She is famously known for playing the role of "Wendy Torrance" in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining with Jack Nicholson. During the making of this film, Kubrick and Duvall would often become very frustrated with each other. The most obvious example is when Kubrick shot the famous "baseball bat scene" with Duvall and Nicholson 127 times, which is the world record for most number of takes in any film set. Despite their differences, Duvall admitted that she learned more from Kubrick than any of her previous films and that she "wouldn't trade the experience for anything." Kubrick also knew that he pushed Shelley and treated her the way he did for a significant reason, as the role of "Wendy Torrance" was even said by Jack Nicholson, "the hardest role anyone has ever had to play."
In January of 1979, Robert Altman would offer Duvall yet another role in one of his films. Only the role was a certain role that Altman believed she was born to play. That certain role was "Olive Oyl" in the real life version of Popeye. Shelley was skeptical at first on accepting the role, due to bad memories as a child of negatively being called "Olive Oyl" in grade school. She fortunately decided to take the role and performed admirably. Shelley also sings several songs in this film. The most famous ones would be "He's Large" and "He Needs Me" which also appeared in the film Punch Drunk Love.
As the 1980s rolled on, Shelley's career never slowed down. She appeared as a supporting actress in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits in 1981; she played "Susan Frankenstein" in Tim Burton's Frankenweenie , and co-starred in the hit comedy film Roxanne in 1987 starring Steve Martin. From 1982 to 1986, Shelley continued her filming career but from a different aspect. Since Shelley was 17, she had a collection of a variety of illustrated classic fairy tale books. During the making of Popeye, she showed her collection to Robin Williams. One particular fairy tale she showed Robin was "The Frog Prince". Picturing Robin as the real life Frog Prince, Shelley created Platypus Productions, her own production company. Shelley went to Showtime with the idea for airing a television program that was based on fairy tales. She produced Fairy Tale Theater which Showtime aired that was a hit television series that was based on several classic fairy tales. Fairy Tale Theatre was on television from 1982-1987. Each episode was a one-hour series and there were a total of twenty six episodes, all hosted by Shelley Duvall. Shelley also starred in four out of the twenty six episodes. In 1985, Ms. Duvall created Tall Tales and Legends that was aired for three years until it ended in 1988. Similar to Fairy Tale Theatre, Tall Tales and Legends was also a one-hour series hosted, produced, and guest starred by Duvall. Although it only consisted of nine episodes, Shelley was nominated for an Emmy from the series. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Shelley discovered Think Entertainment; another production company which helped Shelley create more programs and movies that were made for television that aired on common cable channels. Shelley produced three more programs from these production companies that aired on Showtime: Nightmare Classics, Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Her Bedtime Stories program earned her a 2nd Emmy Nomination. Shelley sold Think Entertainment in 1993 and retired as a producer.
Shelley Duvall's later career found her a number of different roles. She appeared in the family comedy Home Fries in 1998 playing "Mrs. Jackson", Drew Barrymore's character's mother. Other comedic films Shelley appeared in were Suburban Commando in 1991, and Changing Habits in 1997. She also had cameos in several TV series' such as: Frasier, L.A. Law, The Ray Bradbury Theater, Wishbone, and several others. Shelley returned to the horror genre when she played "Martha Stewart" in The 4th Floor in 1999 and played the role of "Mrs. Stein" in Big Monster On Campus in 2000; which consisted of both the comedy and horror genre.
Since 2002, Shelley Duvall has not acted in any films, but lives a quiet and peaceful life in Blanco, Texas. She has lived in Blanco since 1994, after her home in Los Angeles got damaged by an earthquake. For the last couple years, there have been several rumors about Duvall being a "recluse" and not being in touch with reality. However, a recent interview in 2010 was conducted by MondoFilm VideoGuide that had heavy proof that Shelley is as normal and aware of reality as ever. She has also noted in this interview that she takes care of several animals at her home in Texas and writes a lot of poetry, and that returning to acting is always a possibility.
|Ana de la Reguera
Ana de la Reguera grew up in the tropical state of Veracruz, on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. She began her performance arts studies in the Cultural Institute of Veracruz, then left for Televisa's Center for Artistic Education (CEA) and TV Aztecas' artistic institute (CEFAC) in Mexico City, later taking study with Lisa Robertson and Aaron Spicer in Los Angeles and acting coach Juan 'Carlos Corzza in Spain. In theatre she participated in "El Cartero" ("Il Postino") for which she received two awards: one for "Best Actress" from the Association of Theatre Journalists in Mexico and the other for the year's "Most Promising Actress" from the Association of Theatre Critics and Journalists.
De la Reguera's professional career began with her role in the telenovela Azul, followed by Pueblo chico, infierno grande--for which she received the Heraldo Award for "Best Breakout Female Actress"--and Desencuentro, which was her third telenovela under the direction of the internationally recognized Ernesto Alonso. _"Tentaciones" (1998)_ marked her beginning with powerhouse Argos Comunicación. She was immediately offered roles in _"Destino" (1998)_ and Todo por amor, for which she received "The Golden Palm Award." After that, it was non-stop work for de la Reguera. In 2002 she starred in Cara o Cruz, which was the first telenovela co-produced by Argos Comunicación and Telemundo, made exclusively for the Hispanic audience living in the US. The following year she played María in the telenovela Por tí for TV Azteca and the mini-series that followed up on Pedro el escamoso, Como Pedro por su casa, which was a co-production between Colombia's Caracol and Telemundo. Additionally, de la Reguera also had the lead role in the Peruvian soap opera Luciana y Nicolás.
De la Reguera's introduction into film began with Dust to Dust, which earned her two nominations: "El Heraldo de la Revelación Femenina" (Best New Actress) and "Eres Mejor Actriz" (Best Actress). Later she acted in A Beautiful Secret with Oscar nominee Katy Jurado. In 2003 Ana starred in the highly acclaimed comedy Ladies' Night, alongside Ana Claudia Talancón. The movie became the box-office success of the year and won her three major awards: "the Latin America MTV's Favorite Actress Award," the Mexican movie industry Award for Best Actress of the year, "CANACINE," and the "Diosa de Plata (Silver Godess) Award" for Best Supporting Actress (2003).
In 2005 she played the starring role in Gitanas, which aired on Telemundo in the US and now has been seen as far away as Ukraine, Spain and Argentina. In 2006 de la Reguera had the lead in the powerful Así del precipicio, which earned her her second "Diosa de Plata [Silver Goddess] Award" for best actress. In addition, she also starred in Paraiso Travel, playing the role of Milagros, singing and dancing for the first time in a movie. John Leguizamo and Colombian star Margarita Rosa de Francisco were also in the cast. The film was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and later released throughout the US and Latin America. That same year Ana received her big break into American cinema when she landed the role of Sister Encarnación in the comedy Nacho Libre. The film by Jared Hess--director of Napoleon Dynamite--and co-starring Jack Black gave her the opportunity to be seen around the world.
In 2008 she became the new face for Cover Girl worldwide, alongside celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Queen Latifah, Ellen DeGeneres and Rihanna. From there her career springboarded into many other impressive endorsements, including campaigns with Pantene, Special K and Flip, Macy's, Coca-Cola (Ciel), Pepsi (Be Light) and Caress, among many others. She began 2010 with a worldwide publicity campaign for Lipton Tea alongside actor Hugh Jackman. Most recently, she did an international campaign with Kahlúa benefiting her hometown of Veracruz, Mexico, left demolished after the resent destruction of Huricaine Karl.
In the action-thriller film Sultanes del Sur, filmed mainly in Argentina, she plays Monica Silvari, a mean and sophisticated bank robber alongside Spanish actors Jordi Mollà and Tony Dalton. In the spring of 2008 Ana began filming Capadocia, an HBO mega-production TV show about the chaotic and miserable life in a women's prison in Mexico. The show aired with record-breaking ratings in Mexico and Latin America, and was released in the US in the fall of 2008 for HBO OLE. Three of the most recognized directors in Latin America participated in this HBO original production: Epigmenio Ibarra, Jorge Aragón and Luis Peraza. The successful series got three International Emmy nominations for its first season, and this fall marked the opening of "Capadocia"'s second season.
In 2009 she shot _Di Di Hollywood (2009)_, from famed _Jamón, Jamón (2000)_ director Bigas Luna. That same year she went back to the Mexican theatre for six months where she played "Desdemona" in William Shakespeare "Othello". The play was hugely successful in Mexico's renowned Juan Ruiz de Alarcón theater, and she was named "Best Actress" by the Journalist Theatre Association at the annual Bravo Awards and by the ACTP. Later that year she filmed the extremely moving Mexican film Backyard, in which she played a cop in an outlaw border city controlled by drug traffickers and killers. Directed by Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro, nominated for an Oscar for "Best Foreign Film"), the picture was chosen to represent Mexico in the 2010 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category, and earned de la Reguera the "Best Actress Award" at the Imagen Awards and the CANACINE Awards, and won the "Silver Plaque" in the Chicago Film Festival.
The beginning of 2010 brought the opening of her Hollywood film Cop Out, co-starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan and directed by Kevin Smith. She played Gabriela, a strong-willed woman with very picante and colorful language, who gets rescued by Willis and Tracy--and gets them in trouble in the process. In that same year brought the release of her film Hidalgo - La historia jamás contada., about the controversial life of Mexico's independence hero, priest Miguel Hidalgo. She plays Hidalgo's second wife and shares credit with Demián Bichir (Weeds, Che: Part One).
In the US she also had a recurring role on the USA Network's series Royal Pains, and starred in the critically-acclaimed, Will Farrell-produced HBO comedy Eastbound & Down co-starring Danny McBride as down-and-out baseball player and love interest Kenny Powers. She also had a role in the Jon Favreau-directed Cowboys & Aliens starring Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Sam Rockwell, produced by Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The film crosses the classic Western with the alien-invasion movie in its story about a lone cowboy leading an uprising against murderous aliens from outer space.
As if her busy acting career isn't enough, de la Reguera is also heavily involved with charity work. Most recently she uploaded a video to YouTube in order to help raise awareness for Veracruz, her home state, affected by heavy rains and a devastating Hurricane Karl. In the video she speaks about a variety fo options for support and help that victims of the Hurrcane can utilize, and offers methods to make donations. The viral campaign went all over Twitter and other online sites, raising much needed money for the victims of the hurricane. She also founded the organization VeracruzANA AC, which is a philanthropic organization whose mission is to raise funds and build a tourist boulevard of Antigua--something that has been promised by political organizations for years. Antigua is one of the most important and historical communities in Veracruz, and also one of the areas the most damaged by the hurricane. This June marked the culmination of her hard work and the grando Opening ceremony for the touristic boulevard.
Chow Yun Fat is a charismatic, athletically built and energetic Asian-born film star who first came to the attention of western audiences via his roles in the high-octane/blazing guns action films of maverick HK director John Woo.
Chow was born in 1955 on the quiet island of Lamma, part of the then-British colony of Hong Kong, near its famous Victoria Harbour. His mother was a vegetable farmer and cleaning lady, and his father worked on a Shell Oil Company tanker. Chow's family moved to urban Hong Kong in 1965 and in early 1973, Chow attended a casting call for TVB, a division of Shaw Bros. productions. With his good looks and easy-going style, Chow was originally a heartthrob actor in non-demanding TV and film roles. However, his popularity increased with his appearance as white-suited gangster Hui Man-Keung in the highly popular drama TV series Shang Hai tan.
In 1985, Chow started receiving acclaim for his work and scored the Golden Horse (Best Actor) Award in Taiwan and another Best Actor Award from the Asian Pacific Film Festival for his performance in Dang doi lai ming. With these accolades, Chow came to the attention of Woo, who cast Chow in the fast-paced gangster film A Better Tomorrow (aka "A Better Tomorrow"). The rest, as they say, is history. The film was an enormous commercial success, and Chow's influence on young Asian males was not dissimilar to the adulation given to previous Asian film sensations such as Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. Nearly every young guy in Hong Kong ran out and bought himself a "Mark Coat," as they became known--a long, heavy woolen coat worn by Chow in the movie (although it is is actually very unsuited to Hong Kong's hot and humid climate).
Further hard-edged roles in more John Woo crime films escalated Chow's popularity even higher, and fans all over the world flocked to see A Better Tomorrow II (aka "A Better Tomorrow 2"), The Killer (aka "The Killer"), and Hard Boiled (aka "Hard Boiled"). With the phenomenal global interest in the HK action genre, Chow was enticed to the United States and appeared in The Replacement Killers with Mira Sorvino, The Corruptor with Mark Wahlberg, and, for a change of pace, in the often-filmed romantic tale of Anna and the King.
Chow then returned to the Asian cinema circuit and starred in the critically lauded kung fu epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (aka "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). His wide appeal can be seen in his "boy next door" type of personality and his ability to play such a broad spectrum of roles from a comedic buffoon to a lovestruck Romeo to a trigger-happy professional killer. A highly entertaining and gifted actor with dynamic on-screen presence, Chow continues to remain in strong demand in many film markets.
Bruce Dern was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Jean (MacLeish) and John Dern, an attorney and utility chief. His paternal grandfather, George Henry Dern, served as Governor of Utah (1925-1933) and then U.S. Secretary of War (1933-1936). His ancestry includes German, English, Scottish, and Dutch.
Bruce Dern had established himself as the movies' premier heavy, playing sociopaths, psychotics and just plain criminals by the time he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coming Home. Some perceptive critics had noted that Dern was a finer actor than his roles generally allowed one to believe, repelled as one was by the neurotic persona that Dern was able to project and that casting directors capitalized on.
Jack Nicholson, a close friend, claimed that Dern was the best of the new breed of actors who had been born just before World War II and were coming into their own in the 1970s. Unlike his screen image, Dern had come from a patrician background: his grandfather had been governor of Utah and a secretary of war under Franklin D. Roosevelt. When allowed to step out of his on-screen persona to assay the millionaire Tom Buchanan in the 1974 remake of The Great Gatsby, he acquitted himself quite well.
Some critics said that "Gatsby" would have been better if Dern rather than Robert Redford had played the title role. Others pointed to his fine work as Nicholson's brother in The King of Marvin Gardens to establish a case that he was an underappreciated and underutilized talent. By the time Dern appeared as the cuckolded Marine in "Coming Home," a consensus had emerged that Dern was a fine actor. He won an Oscar nod for the role, then fell victim to the infamous "Oscar curse" that has claimed other winners, most famously in the case of 1969 Best Supporting Actor winner Gig Young, Dern's co-star in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?.
Dern, like Young before him, was determined to break out of supporting roles. Like Young, who had been cast repeatedly as a light comedian in his career, Dern had also become typecast, but as a psycho, surpassing even Anthony Perkins in those types of roles. Dern was determined to break out of the ghetto he had found himself in before "Coming Home." He failed, and his career suffered.
Up through his Oscar nomination, Dern had starred in 26 films in 11 years since graduating to steady employment in A-pictures with Waterhole #3. After the 1979 Oscar nod, he would appear in only a dozen feature films in the next 11 years, not counting TV movies. None of them brought him stardom or much acclaim, and his attempt at becoming a lead man, Middle Age Crazy, flopped badly (he did received a nomination for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor at the 1981 Genie Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars, for his work in that picture). It was back to psychos, this time as a lead, in Tattoo. The movie proved to be another flop, and his reputation was further damaged when he bragged that he had actually performed on-screen sexual intercourse with co-star Maud Adams, a boast that Adams heatedly denied. Dern's star was seriously dimmed.
Although he landed a coveted role in the film adaptation of Jason Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play That Championship Season, the film was a disappointment with critics and at the box office. He turned in a fine performance three years later in the TV movie Toughlove, but overall, his career was floundering.
Another psycho role, that of Uncle Bud in After Dark, My Sweet, started buzz about another possible Best Supporting Oscar nod for him, but the film proved a box-office bust and the nomination never materialized. A predicted career renaissance for Dern faded, just as the careers of his ex-wife, Diane Ladd, and their daughter, Laura Dern, kicked into high gear.
Since the 1990 high point of the second wave of his career, Dern has stayed steadily employed, but has never again generated much critical acclaim, nor made any inroads towards reclaiming his crown as the cinema's premier sociopath. A fine actor, who will be remembered most vividly for such psycho/killer roles such as the rustler leader who gunned down John Wayne in The Cowboys, Dern's career serves as a cautionary tale for those actors who try to escape the ghetto of typecasting. While nothing restricts an actor's artistic development as much as typecasting, unless like a Duke Wayne they can turn that type into superstardom, trying to break out of the type can prove to be career suicide.
Edward Fitzgerald Burns was born January 29, 1968 in Woodside, Queens, New York. He is the second of three children of Molly (McKenna), who worked for the Federal Aviation Administration at Kennedy Airport, and Edward J. Burns, a police sergeant and active spokesperson for the New York Police Dept. He was raised Catholic, and is of Irish, and one eighth Swedish, descent. Edward, along with his older sister, Mary, and brother, Brian, were raised in Long Island. He attended Catholic Chaminade High School before transferring to a public high school. He went on to attend The State University of New York at Albany and Oneonta College in New York to major in English literature. During his junior year he transferred to Hunter College in Manhattan, studied filmmaking and began writing the first of many short films.
Upon graduating, and through his father's connections, he secured a job at Entertainment Tonight (1981) (TV) in 1993 working at as a "go-fer". There he was able to finance and begin working on The Brothers McMullen, a comedy focusing on the trials and tribulations facing three Irish-Catholic siblings. It was shot primarily in his parents' Long Island home with a cast of unknowns including Burns himself and his then-girlfriend Maxine Bahns. The feature was filmed over eight months' time with a reported budget of only $ 30,000. Rejected by a series of distributors, The Brothers McMullen bowed at Sundance, after Burns had given Robert Redford a copy of the film while working on ET. In 1995 his film won the festival's Grand Jury Prize, becoming one of the most successful independent efforts of the year. He then sold the film to 20th Century Fox's Searchlight Pictures.
For his follow-up Burn's wrote and directed She's the One, which retained much of McMullen's cast and crew, including girlfriend Maxine. He was also able to cast up-and-coming stars Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz in pivotal roles, with original music from rocker Petty, Tom. Filmed with a larger budget of almost $3 million, the romantic comedy successfully premiered during the summer of 1996 . Burns soon began work on his third feature, _No Looking Back_, a romantic drama set in a coastal town's working-class community. Burn's career seemed to be flourishing, but his personal relationship with Bahns, to whom he became engaged, ended after eight years. During filming of No Looking Back, there were reported romantic sightings with Burns and his co-star Lauren Holly. The relationship seemed to end when the film was released in 1998. That same year, Burns co-starred in the Steven Spielberg World War II epic Saving Private Ryan. After that pivotal role in one of the greatest films of all time, Burns continued a good year, and a new relationship with Heather Graham. In an interview with USA Weekly Magazine, Heather stated they met in a bar in LA, exchanged numbers and had numerous conversations. Burns then flew back to New York and she flew to east to see him a month later. Soon after Burns and Heather were seen at many premieres and events. It was also reported that couple was living together. But their relationship ended after two years. Although they were dating during the filming of his next project 15 Minutes starring along side Robert De Niro, Burns attended the premiere with none other than Christy Turlington. While his next few films did not make much of a dent in the box office including his film Sidewalks of New York, which co-starred Heather Graham. His relationship with Christy was getting hot and heavy. The couple got engaged in 2001. It was then reported their engagement was called off, but the couple reunited after a 7-month split. Burns and Christy finally married on June 7, 2003 and welcomed their first child Grace, later that year Grace, on October 25. Burns' most recent projects include writing and directing The Groomsmen and Purple Violets. He welcomed his second child, son Finn, (Feb/2006) with wife Christy.
Burns is committed to writing and directing his own films. He's not affected by his futile work and continues his own projects with poise. Tackling touchy relationship subjects and pioneering real-life matters. With his panoply of Woody Allen -like films, there is no doubt Edward Burns will continue to dazzle us with his undeniable talent while gaining the recognition he deserves as a great writer and director.
Donald Edmond Wahlberg, Jr. was born August 17, 1969, in Dorchester Massachusetts, into a family of Swedish (from his paternal grandfather), Irish, French-Canadian, and English descent. He is the eighth of nine children of Alma Elaine (Donnelly), a nurse's aide and clerk, and Donald Edward Wahlberg, a delivery driver. His parents eventually divorced and Donnie, finding himself already in trouble, discovered a positive outlet performing in school plays and became involved in varied aspects of theater -- acting, writing, and directing. At the age of 15, he became a member of the teen vocal group originally called "NYNUK." Donnie's younger brother, Mark Wahlberg, was originally one of the Boys but balked at the direction the group was taking and backed out.
Following a false start with their debut album "New Kids on the Block," the teens persevered with a sophomore record and proceeded to hit #1 with the single "Please Don't Go Girl" in 1988. They continued to bombard the market with one-after-another "Top Ten" hits including "The Right Stuff" and "I'll Be Loving You Forever." Leaving the young girls panting for more, they became one of the hottest young singing/line-dancing groups to hit the late 80s/early 90s. The Boys went on to sell over 70 million albums worldwide, and provoke the spawning of other five-member harmony groups such as Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. During its heyday, Donnie played up his resident "bad boy" persona by tallying up several run-ins with the law, including an alleged arson at a Kentucky hotel (charges were dropped). He also delved into "body art" with numerous tattoos and body piercings in an effort to buck their already-cloying image. Amid intergroup dissension and Milli Vanilli-like charges of not contributing all the vocals to their albums, the pop band finally disbanded in 1994 -- partly out of frustration but also having outgrown the group's juvenile moniker.
Unsure of his direction while attracting more trouble in the tabloids, Donnie, who helped write, arrange and produce brother Mark's Funky Bunch group's first two albums a few years earlier, switched gears. He rapped some and modeled some, then transformed himself into an actor, a route taken earlier by his talented bro. While Mark has turned out to become the bigger film star over the years, Donnie has stepped out of his shadows to receive raves and renewed respect for his own tense and compelling character work.
He first showed up in big screen action. Making his debut as a "tough guy" thug in the Mickey Rourke urban outing Bullet, filmed in 1994 but not released until two years later. Usually cast as an amoral heavy, Donnie moved up the quality ladder with director Ron Howard's thriller Ransom as part of a gang of kidnappers who nab Mel Gibson's son, to their eventual regret, of course. His next repellent took the form of a drug dealer in the goth indie horror Black Circle Boys, but the film came and went. After a couple of TV movies, he finally nabbed a starring role in the film Southie playing more or less himself as an Irish-American prodigal son who returns to the mean streets of his native Boston. The movie also featured another brother Robert Wahlberg who also was testing the acting waters.
Ironically, one of Donnie's most powerful roles during this period was also one of his briefest. Seen in the opening sequence, he is nearly unrecognizable (having dropped an alarming amount of weight) portraying a deranged former patient of psychiatrist Bruce Willis whose sudden explosion into unfathomable violence sets up the clever twists and turns that turned M. Night Shyamalan's classic psychological thriller The Sixth Sense into a critically-acclaimed box office hit. Donnie's opening bit was mouth dropping and jarring in its horror. He also proved he wasn't a flash in the pan by backing up this performance with a major role as a WWII paratrooper in the critically-hailed ten-part epic Band of Brothers, which won multiple Emmy awards (6).
This TV role directly led to his casting as a gritty L.A. detective in the NBC dramatic series Boomtown, an acclaimed series that didn't survive a second season. Since then Donnie has patented his unrefined intensity into a number of other films such as Triggermen and Saw II. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Kim Fey, and sons Xavier and Elijah. As a former teen heartthrob seemingly headed down a troubled and dangerous path after his initial success, he somehow managed to avoid the traditional pitfalls of drugs and self-destruction, and has since proven himself an actor with "the right stuff."
David Bowie is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of pop music. Born David Jones, he changed his name to Bowie in the 1960s, to avoid confusion with the then well-known Davy Jones (lead singer of The Monkees).
The 1960s were not a happy period for Bowie, who remained a struggling artist, awaiting his breakthrough. He dabbled in many different styles of music (without commercial success), and other art forms such as acting, mime, painting, and playwriting. He finally achieved his commercial breakthrough in 1969 with the song "Space Oddity," which was released at the time of the moon landing. Despite the fact that the literal meaning of the lyrics relates to an astronaut who is lost in space, this song was used by the BBC in their coverage of the moon landing, and this helped it become such a success. The album, which followed "Space Oddity," and the two, which followed (one of which included the song "The Man Who Sold The World," covered by Lulu and Nirvana) failed to produce another hit single, and Bowie's career appeared to be in decline. However, he made the first of many successful "comebacks" in 1972 with "Ziggy Stardust," a concept album about a space-age rock star. This album was followed by others in a similar vein, rock albums built around a central character and concerned with futuristic themes of Armageddon, gender dysfunction/confusion, as well as more contemporary themes such as the destructiveness of success and fame, and the dangers inherent in star worship. In the mid 1970s, Bowie was a heavy cocaine abuser and sometime heroin user.
In 1975, he changed tack. Musically, he released "Young Americans," a soul (or plastic soul as he later referred to it) album. This produced his first number one hit in the US, "Fame." He also appeared in his first major film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. With his different-colored eyes and skeletal frame, he certainly looked the part of an alien. The following year, he released "Station to Station," containing some of the material he had written for the soundtrack to this film (which was not used). As his drug problem heightened, his behavior became more erratic. Reports of his insanity started to appear, and he continued to waste away physically. He fled back to Europe, finally settling in Berlin, where he changed musical direction again and recorded three of the most influential albums of all time, an electronic trilogy with Brian Eno "Low, Heroes and Lodger." Towards the end of the 1970s, he finally kicked his drug habit, and recorded the album many of his fans consider his best, the Japanese-influenced "Scary Monsters." Around this time, he played the Elephant Man on Broadway, to considerable acclaim.
The next few years saw something of a drop-off in his musical output as his acting career flourished, culminating in his acclaimed performance in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. In 1983, he recorded "Let's Dance," an album which proved an unexpected massive commercial success, and produced his second number 1 hit single in the US. The tour which followed, "Serious Moonlight," was his most successful ever. Faced with this success on a massive scale, Bowie apparently attempted to "repeat the formula" in the next two albums, with less success (and to critical scorn). Finally, in the late 1980s, he turned his back on commercial success and his solo career, forming the hard rock band, Tin Machine, who had a deliberate limited appeal. By now, his acting career was in decline. After the comparative failure of Labyrinth, the movie industry appears to have decided that Bowie was not a sufficient name to be a lead actor in a major movie, and since that date, most of his roles have been cameos or glorified cameos. He himself also seems to have lost interest in movie acting. Tin Machine toured extensively and released two albums, with little critical or commercial success.
In 1992, Bowie again changed direction and re-launched his solo career with "Black Tie White Noise," a "wedding" album inspired by his recent marriage to Iman. He released three albums to considerable critical acclaim and reasonable commercial success. In 1995, he renewed his working relationship with Brian Eno to record "Outside." After an initial hostile reaction from the critics, this album has now taken its place with his classic albums.
In 2003, Bowie released an album entitled 'Reality.' The Reality Tour began in November 2003 and, after great commercial success, was extended into July 2004. In June 2004, Bowie suffered a heart attack and the tour did not finish it's scheduled run.
After recovering, Bowie did not release any new music, but did a little acting. In 2006, he played Tesla in The Prestige and had a small cameo in the series Extras. In 2007, he did a cartoon voice in SpongeBob SquarePants playing Lord Royal Highness. He has not appeared in anything since 2008; however, after a ten year hiatus from recording, he released a new album called 'The Next Day.'
Bowie has influenced the course of popular music several times and influenced several generations of musicians. His promotional videos in the 1970s and 80s are regarded as ground-breaking, and as a live concert act, he is regarded as the most theatrical of them all.
A fascinating aura of mystery seemed to surround the characters portrayed by blue-eyed blonde actress Susan Oliver, whose trademark high cheekbones, rosebud lips and heart-shaped face kept audiences intrigued for nearly three decades. While her career didn't play out as well as it should have, she nevertheless left a fine legacy of work on stage, film and TV.
Born Charlotte Gercke on February 13, 1932 (some sources incorrectly list years as early as 1929 or late as 1937), in New York City, she was the daughter of well-to-do George Gercke, a political reporter and journalist for the New York World, and his astrology practitioner wife, Ruth Oliver (aka Ruth Hale Oliver), both of whom divorced while Susan was still quite young (age 3). As a privileged adolescent, she went to various public and boarding schools. As a teenager, she lived with her father and traveled with him overseas to Japan, where he maintained a news post. While there (1948-1949) she studied at the Tokyo International College and developed an interest in Japan's deep obsession with the American pop culture. Much later in her career (1977), in fact, Susan would write and direct Cowboysan, a short film which told of Japanese actors performing in an American western.
In the spring of 1949, Susan briefly rejoined her mother, who was now remarried, living in Los Angeles, and gaining a solid reputation as Hollywood's astrologer to the stars. By that fall, however, Susan was back East, studying drama at Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College (for four years). She then continued her training at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse, while finding stage work in both summer stock and regional theaters. Commercials and daytime/prime-time TV work started coming Susan's way and, by that time, she had already changed her stage moniker to the more flowing name of Susan Oliver.
The year 1957 began with a debut ingénue role as a Revolutionary War-era daughter in the Broadway comedy, "Small War on Murray Hill", which opened and closed at the Ethel Barrymore Theater after only nine days. A far more potent and substantial role fell her way in October of that same year, when she replaced British actress Mary Ure as "Allison Porter" in the superior "kitchen sink" drama, "Look Back in Anger". Susan continued to find extensive dramatic work in live East coast TV plays, with roles on The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, The United States Steel Hour, Studio 57 and Matinee Theatre. At this juncture, she decided to migrate back to Los Angeles for more on-camera opportunities and attained guest roles on such popular prime-time series as Wagon Train, Father Knows Best, The Millionaire and The Lineup.
Susan made her cinematic debut as the tough, ill-fated title role in Warner Bros.' low-budget melodrama, The Green-Eyed Blonde. The film was shot in black and white, so it didn't matter that Susan's eyes were blue. Topbilled, she played the rebellious delinquent leader at a girls' reformatory and lent class to the rather exploitative material, which was written by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. Two years later, Susan returned to the big screen as another tough cookie in the better-received biopic, The Gene Krupa Story, as a jazz singer who lures the renowned drummer (played by Sal Mineo) down the road to drugs and near ruin. A brief return to the Broadway stage, with the comedy "Patate" starring Tom Ewell and Lee Bowman, would last only four days but Susan earned great notices and won New York's Theatre World Award World for her "outstanding breakout performance".
On early 1960s TV, Susan continued to offer a number of striking and often showy, neurotic performances on episodes of Bonanza, Wanted: Dead or Alive, 77 Sunset Strip, Wagon Train, The Virginian, Adventures in Paradise, Route 66, Dr. Kildare and The Fugitive. Filmwise, she found a few lead and support roles in the Elizabeth Taylor-starred BUtterfield 8; as a psychiatric nurse in the all-star hospital melodrama, The Caretakers; in the tailored-for-the-teens romp, Looking for Love, as a pal to Connie Francis; and in the hilarious Jerry Lewis slapstick vehicle, The Disorderly Orderly, in which she added rather heavy drama as a depressed hospital patient. Her most challenging role, during this time, was as the ambitious wife of doomed country music legend Hank Williams (George Hamilton, in offbeat casting) in Your Cheatin' Heart.
Susan's name remained active particularly on TV, where she graced such programs as The Andy Griffith Show, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Burke's Law, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Gomer Pyle: USMC, My Three Sons, The Invaders and Mannix. Classic TV showcases includes the 1960 The Twilight Zone episode, People Are Alike All Over, in which she plays beautiful martian, "Teenya", who encounters astronaut Roddy McDowall, and the unsold 1964 Star Trek pilot, The Cage, as "Vina", the sole survivor of a crashed spaceship who charms "Commander Christopher Pike" (Jeffrey Hunter, the captain subsequently replaced by William Shatner's "Captain Kirk", when the show became a series). Footage from that pilot was later incorporated into the two-part episode, "The Menagerie". In 1966, Susan made bittersweet news, when her regular role as "Ann Howard" in the prime-time hit soaper, Peyton Place, was pushed off a cliff to her death. Written out after only five months of a year-long planned role, audiences (as well as Susan) were saddened by the loss of a character they had grown to care about. Susan, subsequently, starred in her own pilot for a new series, "Apartment in Rome", but it didn't sell.
Unfortunately, Susan's late 1960s work in a variety of film genres and opposite a number of formidable leading men were ultimately too few and did not help to advance her career. These included the LSD-induced drama, The Love-Ins, with Richard Todd and James MacArthur; the western, A Man Called Gannon, starring Anthony Franciosa; and the sci-fiers, Change of Mind with Raymond St. Jacques and The Monitors with Guy Stockwell. The 1970s, too, hardly fared better with standard roles in Ginger in the Morning (donning a black wig), the Spanish-made drama Nido de viudas, and Hardly Working, in which she reunited with Jerry Lewis in what was supposed to be his come-back attempt. That film was ultimately shelved, before earning scant release a couple of years later.
Susan appeared as a regular for one season (1975-76) on Days of Our Lives and received a "Supporting Actress" Emmy nomination for the made-for-TV movie, Amelia Earhart, playing aviatrix Neta "Snookie" Snook, friend and mentor to the title character, played by Emmy-nominated Susan Clark. The role of "Snook" was tailor-made for Susan, who, by this time, had merited attention as a licensed commercial pilot and skilled flying ace.
Susan's passion for flying had been compromised a decade earlier after a dramatic 1966 commercial plane scare. The near-death experience kept the actress on solid ground for well over a year, before she managed to overcome her paralyzing fear. In 1970, fully recovered, she co-piloted a single-engine Piper Comanche to victory in the Powder Puff Derby racing event, a victory that earned her the name, "Pilot of the Year". [Amelia Mary Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean]. In her attempt to fly to Moscow, however, the Soviet government denied her entrance to their air space and she was forced to end her journey in Denmark. Susan would later write about her flying exploits in her autobiography, "Odyssey: A Daring Transatlantic Journey" (1983).
Susan's last years were focused on the small screen, with roles in the TV-movies, Tomorrow's Child and International Airport, and standard guesting on The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote, Simon & Simon and Freddy's Nightmares. She also moved behind the camera a few times, directing episodes of M*A*S*H and Trapper John, M.D.. A long-time smoker, the never-married Susan was diagnosed with lung cancer and died at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California at age 58 -- an untimely end for such a beautiful lady and strong talent.
U.S.-born actor, director, writer, musician, and composer best known for his mockumentaries, poking fun at heavy metal music, small town theatre, dog shows, folk music and film-making itself, Christopher Haden-Guest was born February fifth, 1948, in New York City. His mother, Jean Pauline (Hindes), was a vice president of casting at CBS. His father, Peter Haden-Guest, was a UN diplomat who was a member of the British House of Lords, and was the fourth Baron of Saling in the County of Essex. Christopher's mother, who was American, was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Christopher's father, who was British, had English and Dutch-Jewish ancestry. Christopher's paternal great-grandfather, Colonel Albert Goldsmid, was a British officer.
He received his dramatic arts training at New York City's High School of Arts and Music and at Bard College, and Guest first appeared in minor film roles in a mixture of film genres including The Hot Rock, Death Wish, Lemmings, and The Long Riders. However, he was also dabbling in writing for several T.V. shows, and when filming Million Dollar Infield, Guest became acquainted with writer-director Rob Reiner and the two collaborated, along with Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, to pen the script and music for the sleeper hit This Is Spinal Tap.
The mockumentary also starred Guest as dizzy lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel, whose most famous line is surely, "These go to eleven," when referring to the volume settings on the band's rather unique Marshall amplifiers!
Guest then busied himself for several years in the 1980's as a regular performer on Saturday Night Live and, along with fellow Spinal Tap band members lead singer David St. Hubbins, aka Michael McKean; and bassist Derek Smalls, aka Harry Shearer, they regularly appeared as Spinal Tap. In 1992, they released Spinal Tap: Break Like the Wind - The Videos, plus A Spinal Tap Reunion: The 25th Anniversary London Sell-Out.
Guest had a minor acting role in the courtroom drama of A Few Good Men, before returning to poke fun at wannabe actors in the howlingly funny Waiting for Guffman with Guest taking center stage as high-strung choreographer Corky St. Clair. He made a return to heavy metal with Spinal Tap: The Final Tour and Catching Up with Marty DiBergi before turning his comedic pen to the world of championship dog shows for the sensational comedy Best in Show. The latest mockumentary from Guest and co-writer-actor Eugene Levy was again met with critical praise, and movie fans just loved it, too! In 2003, Guest and Eugene Levy took aim at the folk-music world, and successfully collaborated to write the comedy A Mighty Wind about the reunion of the Folksmen, a fictional 1960s folk music group.
Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz, the eldest of three children of Helen (Klein) and Emanuel Schwartz, Jewish immigrants from Hungary. Curtis himself admits that while he had almost no formal education, he was a student of the "school of hard knocks" and learned from a young age that the only person who ever had his back was himself, so he learned how to take care of both himself and younger brother, Julius. Curtis grew up in poverty, as his father, Emanuel, who worked as a tailor, had the sole responsibility of providing for his entire family on his meager income. This led to constant bickering between Curtis's parents over money, and Curtis began to go to movies as a way of briefly escaping the constant worries of poverty and other family problems. The financial strain of raising two children on a meager income became so tough that in 1935, Curtis's parents decided that their children would have a better life under the care of the state and briefly had Tony and his brother admitted to an orphanage. During this lonely time, the only companion Curtis had was his brother, Julius, and the two became inseparable as they struggled to get used to this new way of life. Weeks later, Curtis's parents came back to reclaim custody of Tony and his brother, but by then Curtis had learned one of life's toughest lessons: the only person you can count on is yourself.
In 1938, shortly before Tony had his Bar Mitzvah, tragedy struck when Tony lost the person most important to him, when his brother, Julius, was hit by a truck and killed. After that tragedy, Curtis's parents became convinced that a formal education was the best way Tony could avoid the same never-knowing-where-your-next-meal-is-coming-from life that they had known. However, Tony rejected this because he felt that learning about literary classics and algebra wasn't going to advance him in life as much as some real hands-on life experience would. He was to find that real-life experience a few years later, when he enlisted in the navy in 1942. Tony spent the next three years getting the life experience he desired by doing everything from working as a crewman on a submarine to honing his future craft as an actor by performing as a sailor in a stage play at the Navy Signalman School in Illinois.
In 1945, Curtis was honorably discharged from the navy, and when he realized that the GI Bill would allow him to go to acting school without paying for it, he now saw that his lifelong pipe dream of being an actor might actually be achievable. Curtis auditioned for the New York Dramatic Workshop, and after being accepted on the strength of his audition piece (A scene from "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" in pantomime), Curtis enrolled in early 1947. He then began to pay his dues by appearing in a slew of stage productions, including "Twelfth Night" and "Golden Boy". He then connected with a small theatrical agent named Joyce Selznick, who was the niece of film producer David O. Selznick. After seeing his potential, Selznick arranged an interview for Curtis to see David O. Selznick at Universal Studios, where Curtis was offered a seven-year contract. After changing his name to what he saw as an elegant, mysterious moniker--"Tony Curtis" (named after the novel Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen and a cousin of his named Janush Kertiz)--Curtis began making a name for himself by appearing in small, offbeat roles in small-budget productions. His first notable performance was a two-minute role in Criss Cross, with Burt Lancaster, in which he makes Lancaster jealous by dancing with Yvonne De Carlo. This offbeat role resulted in Curtis's being typecast as a heavy for the next few years, such as playing a gang member in City Across the River.
Curtis continued to build up a show reel by accepting any paying job, acting in a number of bit-part roles for the next few years. It wasn't until late 1949 that he finally got the chance to demonstrate his acting flair, when he was cast in an important role in an action western, Sierra. On the strength of his performance in that movie, Curtis was finally cast in a big-budget movie, Winchester '73. While he appears in that movie only very briefly, it was a chance for him to act alongside a Hollywood legend, James Stewart.
As his career developed, Curtis wanted to act in movies that had social relevance, ones that would challenge audiences, so he began to appear in such movies as Spartacus and The Defiant Ones. He was advised against appearing as the subordinate sidekick in Spartacus, playing second fiddle to the equally famous Kirk Douglas. However, Curtis saw no problem with this because the two had recently acted together in dual leading roles in The Vikings.
Kris Kristofferson was born in Brownsville, Texas, to Mary Ann (Ashbrook) and Lars Henry Kristofferson. His paternal grandparents were Swedish, and his father was a United States Air Force general who pushed his son to a military career. Kris was a Golden Gloves boxer and went to Pomona College in California. From there, he earned a Rhodes scholarship to study literature at Oxford University. He ultimately joined the United States Army and achieved the rank of captain. He became a helicopter pilot, which served him well later. In 1965, he resigned his commission to pursue songwriting. He had just been assigned to become a teacher at USMA West Point. He got a job sweeping floors in Nashville studios. There he met Johnny Cash, who initially took some of his songs but ignored them. He was also working as a commercial helicopter pilot at the time. He got Cash's attention when he landed his helicopter in Cash's yard and gave him some more tapes. Cash then recorded Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down", which was voted the 1970 Song of the Year by the Country Music Association. Kris was noted for his heavy boozing. He lost his helicopter pilot job when he passed out at the controls, and his drinking ruined his marriage to singer Rita Coolidge, when he was reaching a bottle and half of Jack Daniels daily. He gave up alcohol in 1976. His acting career nose-dived after making Heaven's Gate. In recent years, he has made a comeback with his musical and acting careers. He does say that he prefers his music, but says his children are his true legacy.
The lovable, impressionable and immeasurably talented Darlene Cates was born December 13, 1947 in Borger, Texas, to Dorothy Ann (née Pfrimmer) and Truman Madison Guthrie. She grew up in Dumas. Darlene's parents divorced when she was 12 years, which lead to overeating, which manifested itself into obesity. She underwent gastroplasty in 1981. She went from 410 lb to 310 lb but eventually gained the weight back and more with a total weight of 550 lb. While appearing on an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael entitled: "Too Heavy to Leave Their House", she was discovered by Author and screenwriter Peter Hedges. He proposed that she play the morbidly obese mother in the 1993 film What's Eating Gilbert Grape. She accepted. Since, Darlene has made appearances on episodes of Picket Fences, and Touched by an Angel, and played the supporting role of Athena the Fat Lady in the made-for-television film Wolf Girl.
Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Anna (Boselli), who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy, and Camillo Borgnino, who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy. As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, but took no real interest in acting. At age 18, after graduating from high school in New Haven, and undecided about his future career, he joined the United States Navy, where he stayed for ten years until leaving in 1945. After a few factory jobs, his mother suggested that his forceful personality could make him suitable for a career in acting, and Borgnine promptly enrolled at the Randall School of Drama in Hartford. After completing the course, he joined Robert Porterfield's famous Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, staying there for four years, undertaking odd jobs and playing every type of role imaginable. His big break came in 1949, when he made his acting debut on Broadway playing a male nurse in "Harvey".
In 1951, Borgnine moved to Los Angeles to pursue a movie career, and made his film debut as Bill Street in The Whistle at Eaton Falls. His career took off in 1953 when he was cast in the role of Sergeant "Fatso" Judson in From Here to Eternity. This memorable performance led to numerous supporting roles as "heavies" in a steady string of dramas and westerns. He played against type in 1955 by securing the lead role of Marty Piletti, a shy and sensitive butcher, in Marty. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, despite strong competition from Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, James Dean and James Cagney. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Borgnine performed memorably in such films as The Catered Affair, Ice Station Zebra and Emperor of the North. Between 1962 and 1966, he played Lt. Commander Quinton McHale in the popular television series McHale's Navy. In early 1984, he returned to television as Dominic Santini in the action series Airwolf co-starring Jan-Michael Vincent, and in 1995, he was cast in the comedy series The Single Guy as doorman Manny Cordoba. He also appeared in several made-for-TV movies.
Ernest Borgnine has often stated that acting is his greatest passion, and he is still working today. His amazing 61-year career (1951 - 2012 and continuing) includes appearances in well over 100 feature films and as a regular in three television series, as well as voiceovers in animated films such as All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, Small Soldiers, and a continued role in the series SpongeBob SquarePants. Between 1973 until his death, Ernest was married to Tova Traesnaes, who heads her own cosmetics company. They lived in Beverly Hills, California, where Ernest assisted his wife between film projects. When not acting, Ernest actively supported numerous charities and spoke tirelessly at benefits throughout the country. He has been awarded several honorary doctorates from colleges across the United States as well as numerous Lifetime Achievement Awards. In 1996, Ernest purchased a bus and traveled across the United States to see the country and meet his many fans. On December 17, 1999, he presented the University of North Alabama with a collection of scripts from his film and television career, due to his long friendship with North Alabama alumnus and actor George Lindsey (died May 6, 2012), who was an artist in residence at North Alabama.
Ernest Borgnine passed away aged 95 on July 8, 2012, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, of renal failure. He is survived by his wife Tova, their children and his younger sister Evelyn (1926-2013)
Oscar-winning character actor Martin Landau was born on June 20, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. At age 17, he was hired by the New York Daily News as a staff cartoonist and illustrator. In his five years on the paper, he served as the illustrator for Billy Rose's "Pitching Horseshoes" column. He also worked for cartoonist Gus Edson on "The Gumps" comic strip. Landau's major ambition was to act, and in 1951, he made his stage debut in "Detective Story" at the Peaks Island Playhouse in Peaks Island, Maine. He made his off-Broadway debut that year in "First Love".
Landau was one of 2000 applicants who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in 1955 - only he and Steve McQueen were accepted. Landau was a friend of James Dean and McQueen, in a conversation with Landau, mentioned that he knew Dean and had met Landau. When Landau asked where they had met, McQueen informed him he had seen Landau riding into the New York City garage where he worked as a mechanic on the back of Dean's motorcycle.
He acted during the mid-1950s in the television anthologies Playhouse 90, Studio One in Hollywood, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Kraft Theatre, Goodyear Playhouse and Omnibus. He began making a name for himself after replacing star Franchot Tone in the 1956 off-Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya", a famous production that helped put off-Broadway on the New York theatrical map.
In 1957, he made a well-received Broadway debut in the play "Middle of the Night". As part of the touring company with star Edward G. Robinson, he made it to the West Coast. He made his movie debut in Pork Chop Hill but scored on film as the heavy in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller North by Northwest, in which he was shot on top of Mount Rushmore while sadistically stepping on the fingers of Cary Grant, who was holding on for dear life to the cliff face. He also appeared in the blockbuster Cleopatra, the most expensive film ever made up to that time, which nearly scuttled 20th Century-Fox and engendered one of the great public scandals, the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton love affair that overshadowed the film itself. Despite the difficulties with the film, Landau's memorable portrayal in the key role of Rufio was highly favored by the audience and instantly catapulted his popularity.
In 1963, Landau played memorable roles on two episodes of the science-fiction anthology series The Outer Limits, "The Bellero Shield" and "The Man Who Was Never Born". He was Gene Roddenberry's first choice to play Mr. Spock on Star Trek, but the role went to Leonard Nimoy, who later replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible, the show that really made Landau famous. He originally was not meant to be a regular on the series, which co-starred his wife Barbara Bain, whom he had married in 1957. His character, Rollin Hand, was supposed to make occasional, though recurring appearances, on Mission: Impossible, but when the producers had problems with star Steven Hill, Landau was used to take up the slack. Landau's characterisation was so well-received and so popular with the audience that he was made a regular. Landau received Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for each of the three seasons he appeared. In 1968, he won the Golden Globe award as Best Male TV Star.
Eventually, he quit the series in 1969 after a salary dispute when the new star, Peter Graves, was given a contract that paid him more than Landau, whose own contract stated he would have parity with any other actor on the show who made more than he did. The producers refused to budge and he and Bain, who had become the first actress in the history of television to be awarded three consecutive Emmy Awards (1967-69) while on the show, left the series, ostensibly to pursue careers in the movies. The move actually held back their careers, and Mission: Impossible went on for another four years with other actors.
Landau appeared in support of Sidney Poitier in They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, the less successful sequel to the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night, but it did not generate more work of a similar caliber. He starred in the television movie Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol on CBS, playing a prisoner of war returning to the United States from Vietnam. The following year, he shot a pilot for NBC for a proposed show, "Savage". Though it was directed by emerging wunderkind Steven Spielberg, NBC did not pick up the show. Needing work, Landau and Bain moved to England to play the leading roles in the syndicated science-fiction series Space: 1999.
Landau's and Bain's careers stalled after Space: 1999 went out of production, and they were reduced to taking parts in the television movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island. It was the nadir of both their careers, and Bain's acting days, and their marriage, soon were over. Landau, one of the most talented character actors in Hollywood, and one not without recognition, had bottomed out career-wise. In 1983, he was stuck in low-budget sci-fi and horror movies like The Being, a role far beneath his talent.
His career renaissance got off to a slow start with a recurring role in the NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill, starring Dabney Coleman. On Broadway, he took over the title role in the revival of "Dracula" and went on the road with the national touring company. Finally, his career renaissance began to gather momentum when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in a critical supporting role in his Tucker: The Man and His Dream, for which Landau was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. He won his second Golden Globe for the role. The next year, he received his second consecutive Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his superb turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. He followed this up by playing famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in the TNT movie Max and Helen. However, the summit of his post-"Mission: Impossible" carer was about to be scaled. He portrayed Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's biopic Ed Wood and won glowing reviews. For his performance, he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Martin Landau, the superb character actor, finally had been recognized with his profession's ultimate award. His performance, which also won him his third Golden Globe, garnered numerous awards in addition to the Oscar and Golden Globe, including top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Landau continued to play a wide variety of roles in motion pictures and on television, turning in a superb performance in a supporting role in The Majestic. He received his fourth Emmy nomination in 2004 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Without a Trace.
Martin Landau was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.
Emma Fuhrmann is an up and coming young talent with a deep body of work seldom seen in someone of her age. At just 9 years old she worked opposite Morgan Freeman in the Rob Reiner directed feature, "The Magic of Belle Isle", playing a girl who just wanted to learn more about imagination and where it comes from. She went on to star in a Warner Brothers/Happy Madison feature film, "Blended", with Drew Barrymore & Adam Sadler playing the quirky, deeply emotional middle daughter, Espn.
Emma's first big break came when award winning director, David Nutter, hired her for the role of "Sissy Peele" in the pilot episode of NBC/Bruckheimer's "Chase." From there, she booked the film "Are We Listening?" in which she was nominated as best actress in a short by the Gideon Film Festival. Soon followed a heavy guest star role in an episode of NBC's "Prime Suspect" as Amanda Patterson, the only witness to her parent's murder. Emma then took that huge leap in her career, booking the lead role in Rob Reiner's film, "The Magic Of Belle Isle" starring alongside Morgan Freeman & Virginia Madsen. She then went on to play a lead role in the Warner Brothers/Happy Madison film "Blended" as Espn, the emotional middle child of Adam Sandler. The movie filmed for 7 weeks in South Africa and released in May of 2014. The indie film "Lost in the Sun" starring Josh Duhamel and Lynn Collins released in the fall of 2015. Emma continues to pursue other film and television projects under the skilled direction of her team at Paradigm and Untitled Entertainment.
Emma has made it her personal endeavor to encourage and support non-profit organizations tied to under-privileged youth, military families, and animals both domestic and international. She has partnered with Gentle Barn, The Humane Society of the United States, the Alzheimer's Association, Swim Today/USA Swimming, Brat Pack 11 and has been a part of several DoSomething.org campaigns.
Fred Gwynne was an enormously talented character actor most famous for starring in the television situation comedies Car 54, Where Are You? (as Officer Francis Muldoon) and The Munsters (as the Frankenstein clone Herman Munster). He was very tall and had a resonant, baritone voice that he put to good use in Broadway musicals.
Born Frederick Hubbard Gwynne in New York City on July 10, 1926, to a wealthy stockbroker father, he attended the exclusive prep school Groton, where he first appeared on stage in a student production of William Shakespeare's "Henry V". After serving in the United States Navy as a radioman during World War II, he went on to Harvard, where he majored in English and was on the staff of the "Harvard Lampoon". At Harvard, he studied drawing with artist R.S. Merryman and was active in dramatics. A member of the Hasty Pudding Club, he performed in the dining club's theatricals, appearing in the drag revues of 1949 and 1950. After graduating from Harvard with the class of 1951, Gwynne acted in Shakespeare with a Cambridge, Massachusetts repertory company before heading to New York City, where he supported himself as a musician and copywriter. His principal source of income for many years came from his work as a book illustrator and as a commercial artist. His first book, "The Best in Show", was published in 1958.
On February 20, 1952, he made his Broadway debut as the character "Stinker", in support of Helen Hayes, in the comic fantasy "Mrs. McThing". The play, written by "Harvey" author Mary Chase, had a cast featuring Ernest Borgnine, the future "Professor" Irwin Corey and Brandon De Wilde, the young son of the play's stage manager, Frederick DeWilde. The play ran for 320 performances and closed on January 10, 1953. He next appeared on Broadway in Burgess Meredith's staging of Nathaniel Benchley's comedy "The Frogs of Spring", which opened at the Broadhurst Theatre on October 21, 1953. The play flopped, closing on Halloween Day after but 15 performances. He did not appear on Broadway again for almost seven years.
Gwynne made his movie debut, unbilled, as one of Johnny Friendly's gang of thugs who menace Marlon Brando in Elia Kazan's classic On the Waterfront. From 1956 - 1963, he appeared on the television dramatic showcases Studio One in Hollywood, The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, Kraft Theatre, The DuPont Show of the Month, The DuPont Show of the Week and The United States Steel Hour. But it was in situation comedies that he made his name and his fame.
In 1955, he made a memorable guest appearance as Private Honigan on The Phil Silvers Show. He played a soldier with an enormous appetite that Phil Silvers' Sgt. Bilko entered into a pie-eating contest, only to discover he could only eat like a trencherman when he was depressed. The spot led to him coming back as a guest in more episodes. While appearing on Broadway as the pimp Polyte-Le-Mou in the Peter Brook-directed hit "Irma La Douce" (winner of the 1961 Tony Award for Best Musical), "Bilko" producer-writer Nat Hiken cast him in one of the lead roles in the situation comedy Car 54, Where Are You?. The series, in which he revealed his wonderful flair for comedy, had Gwynne appearing as New York City police officer Francis Muldoon, who served in a patrol car in the Bronx with the dimwitted Officer Gunther Toody, played by co-star Joe E. Ross ("Oooh! Oooh!"). Car 54, Where Are You? lasted only two seasons, but it was so fondly remembered by Baby Boomers, it inspired a feature film version in 1994. He also served as Lamb Chop's doctor on another Baby Boomer classic, The Shari Lewis Show.
Another one of his "Car 54, Where Are You?" co-stars, Al Lewis, not only became a lifelong friend, he appeared as Gwynne's father-in-law in his next situation comedy. Gwynne was cast as the Frankenstein's monster-like paterfamilias in The Munsters, which also lasted two seasons. In addition to wearing heavy boots with four-inch lifts on them, Gwynne had to wear 40 - 50 lbs of padding and makeup for the role and he reportedly lost ten pounds in one day of filming under the hot lights. He made guest appearances as Herman Munster, most notably on The Red Skelton Hour, appearing on April 27, 1965, along with Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, a pop band from The Beatles' native Liverpool. Gwynne appeared in character as Herman Munster in a "Freddie the Freeloader" comedy sketch.
When "The Munsters" was canceled after the 1965-1966 season, Gwynne returned to the theatre to escape television typecasting, although he did return for a featured appearance in the televised version of Arsenic and Old Lace, playing the psychotic Jonathan Brewster in an all-star cast, including with his "Mrs. McThing" co-star Helen Hayes, Lillian Gish, Bob Crane, Sue Lyon, Jack Gilford and David Wayne. He appeared twice on television in Mary Chase's "Harvey" (1950), the first time in 1958 on the "Dupont Show of the Month" version broadcast by CBS, in which he appeared in support of Art Carney as Elwood P. Dodd. Others in the cast included Elizabeth Montgomery, Jack Weston and Larry Blyden. He appeared as the cab driver in the 1972 version, Harvey, in which James Stewart reprised his role as Elwood P. Dodd, in which he was reunited with his Broadway co-star Helen Hayes.
In 1968, he made a television series pilot for Screen Gems, "Guess What I Did Today?", co-starring Bridget Hanley, who later played Candy Pruit on Here Come the Brides. The pilot, which was made for NBC, was not picked up by the network. Gwynne had trouble making producers forget his character Herman Munster and he started refusing to have anything to do with or even to speak of the show. One of the few visual productions to utilise his beautiful singing voice was The Littlest Angel, a musical produced as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.
His movie and television appearances were sporadic throughout the 1970s as he worked on- and off-Broadway. He had used his singing voice again to great effect in Meredith Wilson's musical "Here's Love", which opened at the Shubert Theatre on October 20, 1963 and played for 334 performances, closing on July 25, 1964. Exactly nine years from the "Here's Love" opening, he appeared at the Plymouth as "Abraham Lincoln" in the Broadway play "The Lincoln Mask", a flop that lasted but one week of eight performances.
His most distinguished performance on Broadway (and the favourite of all of his theatrical roles, was as Big Daddy in the 1974 Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". Though not as cutting as Burl Ives had been in the original production, his Big Daddy was lyrical and powerful, so much so that he overpowered Keir Dullea in the role of "Brick". However, Elizabeth Ashley won a Tony Award for playing Maggie the Cat in the production, which gave Tennessee Williams his first big success in a decade, albeit in a revival.
Gwynne also was memorable as the elderly Klansman in the first two parts of "The Texas Trilogy" in 1977 season. His last appearance on Broadway was in Anthony Shaffer's "Whodunnit", which opened at the Biltmore Theatre on December 30, 1983 and closed May 15, 1983 after 157 total performances. Before saying goodbye to the Broadway stage in a hit, he had appeared on the Great White Way in two flops in 1978: "Angel", the musical version of Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel" (which lasted but five performances) and the Australian professional football club drama "Players" (which lasted 23 performances). For the Joseph Papp Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, he had appeared in Off-Broadway in "More Than You Deserve" in the 1973-1974 season and, in "Grand Magic", during the 1978-1979 season, for which he won an Obie Award. On the radio, Gwynne appeared in 79 episodes of "The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre" between 1975 and 1982.
With time, his characterisation of Herman Munster began to fade and he began establishing himself as a film character actor of note in the 1980s with well-reviewed appearances in The Cotton Club, Ironweed, Disorganized Crime and Pet Sematary, in which his character, Jud Crandall, was based on author Stephen King, who himself is quite tall. Gwynne also made a memorable turn as the judge who battles with the eponymous My Cousin Vinny, his last film. Critic and cinema historian Mick LaSalle cited Gwynne's performance as Judge Chamberlain Haller in his August 2003 article "Role call of overlooked performances is long", writing: "Half of what made Joe Pesci funny in this comedy was the stream of reactions of Gwynne, as the Southern Judge, a Great Dane to Joe Pesci's yapping terrier."
Gwynne sang professionally, painted, sculpted, wrote & illustrated children's books, including: "The King Who Rained" (1970); "A Chocolate Moose for Dinner" (1976); "A Little Pigeon Toad" (1988) and "Pondlarker" (1990). He wrote 10 books in all and "The King Who Rained", "A Chocolate Moose for Dinner" and "A Little Pigeon Toad", which all were published by the prestigious house Simon & Schuster, are still in print. In the first part of his professional life, Gwynne lived a quiet life in suburban Bedford, New York and avoided the Hollywood and Broadway social scenes. He married his first wife Foxy in 1952. They had five children and divorced in 1980. He and his second wife Deb, whom he married in 1981, lived in a renovated farmhouse in rural Taneytown, Maryland. His neighbors described him as a good friend and neighbor who kept his personal and professional lives separate.
Fred Gwynne died on July 2, 1993, in Taneytown, Maryland, after a battle with cancer of the pancreas. He was just eight days shy of turning 67 years old. He is sorely missed by Baby Boomers who grew up delighted by his Officer Francis Muldoon and Herman Munster and were gratified by his late-career renaissance on film.
Bob Hoskins was born on October 26, 1942, in Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk, where his mother was living after being evacuated as a result of the heavy bombings. He is the son of Elsie Lillian (Hopkins), a nursery school teacher and cook, and Robert William Hoskins, Sr., who drove a lorry and worked as a bookkeeper. Growing up, Hoskins received only limited education and he left school at 15, but with a passion for language and literature instilled by his former English teacher. A regular theatre-goer, Hoskins dreamed of starring on stage, but before he could do so he had to work odd jobs for a long time to make ends meet. His acting career started out more by accident than by design, when he accompanied a friend to watch some auditions, only to be confused for one of the people auditioning, getting a script pushed into his hands with the message "You're next". He got the part and acquired an agent. After some stage success, he expanded to television with roles in television series such as Villains and Thick as Thieves. In the mid-'70s, he started his film career, standing out when he performed alongside Richard Dreyfuss in John Byrum's Inserts and in a smaller part in Richard Lester's Royal Flash.
Hoskins broke through in 1978 in Dennis Potter's mini TV series, Pennies from Heaven, playing "Arthur Parker", the doomed salesman. After this, a string of high-profile and successful films followed, starting with his true major movie debut in 1980's The Long Good Friday as the ultimately doomed "Harold Shand". This was followed by such works as The Cotton Club, Mona Lisa, which won him an Oscar nomination as well as a BAFTA award, Cannes Film Festival and Golden Globe), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Golden Globe nomination), Mermaids, Hook, Nixon, Felicia's Journey and Enemy at the Gates.
Hoskins always carefully balanced the riches of Hollywood with the labor of independent film, though leaned more towards the latter than the former. He worked at smaller projects such as Shane Meadows' debut Twenty Four Seven, in which he starred as "Allen Darcy". Besides this, he found time to direct, write and star in The Raggedy Rawney, as well as direct and star in Rainbow, and contributing to HBO's Tales from the Crypt and Tube Tales.
Suffering from Parkinson's disease in later years, Hoskins died of pneumonia at age 71 in a London hospital.
|Lee Van Cleef
One of the great movie villains, Clarence Leroy Van Cleef, Jr. was born in Somerville, New Jersey, to Marion Lavinia (Van Fleet) and Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef, Sr. His parents were both of Dutch ancestry. Van Cleef started out as an accountant. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard minesweepers and subchasers during World War II. After the war he worked as an office administrator, becoming involved in amateur theatrics in his spare time. An audition for a professional role led to a touring company job in "Mr. Roberts". His performance was seen by Stanley Kramer, who cast him as henchman Jack Colby in High Noon, a role that brought him great recognition despite the fact that he had no dialogue. For the next decade he played a string of memorably villainous characters, primarily in westerns but also in crime dramas such as The Big Combo. His hawk nose and steely, slit eyes seemed destined to keep him always in the realm of heavies, but in the mid-Sergio Leone cast him as the tough but decent Col. Mortimer opposite Clint Eastwood in For a Few Dollars More. A new career as a western hero (or at least anti-hero) opened up, and Van Cleef became an international star, though in films of decreasing quality. In the 1980s he moved easily into action and martial-arts movies, and starred in The Master, a TV series featuring almost non-stop martial arts action. He died of a heart attack in December 1989, and was buried at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills.
Antoine Fuqua (born January 19, 1966) is an American film director, known for his work in the film Training Day as well as The Replacement Killers, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter, Brooklyn's Finest, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer.
He has directed music videos for such artists as Arrested Development, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Pras Michel and Usher Raymond. He was nominated for MTV's Best Rap Video for Heavy D & the Boyz. He also won two Music Video Production Awards: The Young Generators Award, for his work on Coolio's rap video "Gansta Paradise" and the Sinclair Tenebaum Olesiuk and Emanual Award for the trailer to the hit feature film Dangerous Minds. Among his many commercial credits are Wings for Men, Big Star Jeans, Miller Genuine Draft, Reebok, Toyota, Armani and Stanley Tools.
Matthau was born Walter Matthow on October 1, 1920 in New York City, to a Lithuanian Jewish mother, Rose (Berolsky), who worked in a garment sweatshop, and a Russian Jewish father, Milton Matthow, a peddler and electrician from Kiev. Matthau grew up in poverty on the Lower East Side. He started out selling soft drinks and playing bit parts at a Yiddish theater troupe at age 11. He was paid 50 cents for each of his occasional on-stage appearances. His father left home when he was three years old. He lived with his older brother, Henry, and their mother, on the Lower East Side of New York. After graduating from Seward Park High School during the Depression, he took government jobs as a forest ranger in Montana, a gym instructor for the Works Progress Administration, and a boxing coach for policemen. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps as a radio cryptographer in a heavy bomber unit in Europe and returned home a sergeant with six battle stars.
In 1948, his first Broadway role was when he was hired as an understudy for the role of an 83 year old English bishop in 'Anne of the Thousand Days' starring Rex Harrison. His fame came with The Fortune Cookie and The Odd Couple. While making the former, he suffered a serious heart attack. This was due to heavy smoking and chronic gambling. Matthau immediately quit smoking and began a life-long regime of walking 2-5 miles per day.
Matthau's acting career continued to flourish for the next 30 years with him playing memorable lead and supporting characters in both dramatic and comic films, several of them alongside Jack Lemmon. Unbeknownst to his fans, Matthau continued to battle heart disease and was later diagnosed with two forms of cancer. In 1976, he had heart bypass surgery. In 1993, he was hospitalized for double pneumonia. In 1995, he had a benign colon tumor removed. In 1999, he was hospitalized again for pneumonia where he was diagnosed again with cancer. Walter Matthau died on July 1, 2000, at age 79.
Susan Ker Weld was born on August 27, 1943, in New York City. When her father, Lathrop Motley Weld, died three years later at the age of 49, the cute little girl, whose name by then had somehow been transmogrified into "Tuesday", took over the role of the family breadwinner, which included her mother Yosene Balfour Ker. She became a successful child model, posing for advertisements and mail-order catalogs. Her work and the burden of responsibility estranged her from her mother Yosene, her two elder siblings, and forced the preteen girl into adulthood. At nine years of age, she suffered a nervous breakdown; at ten, she started heavy drinking; one year later, she began having relationships with older men, all of which led to a suicide attempt at age twelve. In 1956 she debuted in the low-budget exploitation movie Rock Rock Rock! and decided to become an actress. After numerous TV appearances in New York she went to Hollywood in 1958 and was cast for Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, something of a breakthrough for her. Over the next few years Tuesday became Hollywood's queen of teen, playing mainly precocious sex kittens. Her wild private life added to the entertainment of her fans. Critics acknowledged her talent, directors approved of her professionalism, and in the late 1960s she even managed to grow out of her child/woman image and find more demanding roles - she had been "sweet little 16" for about 16 years. However, Tuesday Weld didn't achieve first-magnitude stardom. Maybe she was just unlucky with her selection of jobs (she turned down Lolita, Bonnie and Clyde, True Grit, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, among others); maybe her independence-loving mind made her instinctively shrink back from the restraints of super stardom. In any case, she kept on performing well in films that had either not much flair or not much success. From the mid-'70s on she focused more and more on made-for-TV movies, which was ironic in that the best (Once Upon a Time in America) and the most successful (Falling Down) films that came her way happened after her big-screen career had pretty much petered out.
Chuck Connors was born Kevin Joseph Connors in Brooklyn, New York, to Marcella (Londrigan) and Alban Francis "Allan" Connors. His parents were immigrants from the Dominion of Newfoundland (now part of Canada), and were of Irish descent. Chuck and his two-years-younger sister, Gloria, grew up in a working-class section of the west side of Brooklyn, where their father worked the local docks as a longshoreman.
Chuck's natural athletic prowess earned him a scholarship to Adelphi Academy, a private high school, and then to Seton Hall, a Catholic college in South Orange, New Jersey. Leaving Seton Hall after two years, on October 20, 1942, he joined the army, listing his occupation as a ski instructor. After enlistment in the infantry at Fort Knox, he later served mostly as a tank-warfare instructor at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and then finally at West Point. Following his discharge early in 1946, he resumed his athletic pursuits. He played center for the Boston Celtics in the 1946-47 season but left early for spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Baseball had always been his first love, and for the next several years he knocked about the minor leagues in such places as Rochester (NY), Norfolk (VA), Newark (NJ), Newport News (VA), Mobile (AL) and Montreal, Canada (while in Montreal he met Elizabeth Riddell, whom he married in October 1948. They had four sons during their 13-year marriage). He finally reached his goal, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in May 1949, but after just five weeks and one at-bat he returned to Montreal. After a brief stint with the Chicago Cubs in 1951, during which he hit two home runs, Chuck wound up with the Cubs' Triple-A farm team, the L.A. Angels, in 1952. A baseball fan who was also a casting director for MGM spotted Chuck and recommended him for a part in the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn comedy Pat and Mike. Originally cast to play a prizefighter, but that role went instead to Aldo Ray. Chuck was cast as a captain in the state police. He now abandoned his athletic hopes and devoted full time to his acting career, which often emphasized his muscular 6'6" physique.
During the next several years he made 20 movies, culminating in a key role in William Wyler's 1958 western The Big Country. Also appearing in many television series, he finally hit the big time in 1958 with The Rifleman, which began its highly successful five-year run on ABC. Other television series followed, as did a number of movies which, though mostly minor, allowed Chuck to display his range as both a stalwart "good guy" and a menacing "heavy".
Chuck Connors died at age 71 of lung cancer and pneumonia on November 10, 1992 in Los Angeles, California. He is buried in San Fernando Mission Cemetery with his tombstone carrying a photo of Connors as Lucas McCain in "The Rifleman" as well as logos from the three professional sports teams he played for: the Dodgers, Cubs and Celtics.
Tall, bald and nearly always bearded, Sid Haig has provided hulking menace to many a low-budget exploitation film and high-priced action film.
Sid Haig was born Sidney Eddie Mosesian on July 14, 1939 in Fresno, California, a screaming ball of hair. His parents, Roxy (Mooradian) and Haig Mosesian, an electrician, were of Armenian descent. Sid's career was somewhat of an accident. He was growing so fast that he had absolutely no coordination. It was decided that he would take dancing lessons, and that's when it all began. At the age of seven, he was dancing for pay in a children's Christmas Show, then a revival of a vaudeville show... and on it went.
Sid also showed a musical inclination, particularly for the drums. So, when his parents got tired of him denting all the pots and pans in the house, they bought him a drum set. The music was in him and he took to it immediately, a born natural. First it was swing, then country, then jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll. Sid always found it easy to make money with his music, and did very well. One year out of high school and signing a recording contract is not too bad. Sid went on to record the single "Full House" with the T-Birds in 1958. However, back while he was in high school, Sid got bitten by the "acting bug". Alice Merrill was the head of the drama department at that time and gave him all the encouragement in the world to pursue an acting career. The clincher came in his senior year. The way that the senior play was cast was that she would double cast the show, then have one of her friends from Hollywood come up and pick the final cast.
You see, Merrill was quite famous as an actress on Broadway and kept up her contacts in the business. When the appointed day came, the "friend" that showed up was Dennis Morgan, a big musical comedy star from the 1940s. The rest is history -- he picked Sid for the role, then two weeks later came back to see the show and told Sid that he should continue his education down south and consider acting as a career path. Two years later, Sid enrolled in the world famous Pasadena Playhouse, the school that trained such actors as Robert Preston, Robert Young, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and so on. After two years of "actor's hell" (non-stop 7:00am to 11:00pm with homework thrown in just for the fun of it), it was time to move on to the big "H", Hollywood! Sid did so with longtime friend and roommate Stuart Margolin (Angel on The Rockford Files).
Sid's first acting job was in Jack Hill's student film at UCLA. It was called The Host, which was released in 2004 on DVD as a companion to Switchblade Sisters, another Hill film. That role launched a 40-year acting career during which Haig appeared in over 50 films and 350 television series. He has proven himself quite valuable to such filmmakers as producer Roger Corman. He also became a staple in the pictures of Jack Hill, appearing in Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told, Coffy, and Foxy Brown. Haig's other memorable credits include George Lucas' THX 1138, and the 1970 James Bond opus Diamonds Are Forever (he is one of the Slumber Brothers, and got to toss a topless Lana Wood from the window of a high-rise Vegas hotel).
Among his most significant television credits are appearances on such landmark programs as The A-Team, T.J. Hooker, The Dukes of Hazzard, Quincy M.E., Hart to Hart, Fantasy Island, Charlie's Angels, Police Woman, The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man, Mannix, Mission: Impossible, Gunsmoke, Get Smart, Here's Lucy, The Flying Nun, Daniel Boone, Star Trek, Batman and The Untouchables.
Sid has never been one to give-up on anything but after nearly 40 years of carrying a gun (except for the occasional Jack Hill or Roger Corman film), his dreams of being recognized as a more than competent actor were fading. Then in 1992, Sid, fed up with being typecast, retired from acting and quoted, "I'll never play another stupid heavy again, and I don't care if that means that I never work, ever." This just proves that if you take a stand people will listen, for in 1997 Quentin Tarantino wrote the part of the judge in Jackie Brown for Sid. Then things got better, much better. Not necessarily more work, just better work. During the mid and late 1990s, Sid ran a community theater company, as well as dabbled occasionally in theater in Los Angeles. Then in 2000, Sid came out of his self-imposed retirement at the request of Rob Zombie for a part in Zombie's debut film House of 1000 Corpses. He starred as the fun-loving, but murderous, Captain Spaulding. This role breathed new life into Sid's acting career and earned him an award for Best Supporting Actor in the 13th Annual Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, as well as an induction into the Horror Hall of Fame. Sid's character of Captain Spaulding has since become the icon for the new horror genre. Sid has recently enjoyed success as Captain Spaulding once again in Rob Zombie's follow-up to House of 1000 Corpses, entitled, The Devil's Rejects. For this film, Sid received the award for best Actor in the 15th Annual Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, as well as sharing the award for "Most Vile Villain" at the First Annual Spike TV Scream Awards with Leslie Easterbrook, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Bill Moseley as The Firefly Family.
As of this writing at the end of 2007, Sid has several projects in various stages of production, and continues to enjoy his renewed success as an actor.
Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City to Lamont Waltman Marvin, an advertising executive, and his wife Courtenay Washington Davidge, a fashion writer. The young Marvin was thrown out of dozens of schools for incorrigibility. His parents took him to Florida, where he attended St. Leo's Preparatory School near Dade City. Dismissed there as well, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the beginning of World War II. In the battle of Saipan in June 1944, he was wounded in the buttocks by Japanese fire which severed his sciatic nerve. He received a medical discharge and got menial work as a plumber's apprentice in Woodstock, NY. While repairing a toilet at the local community theater, he was asked to replace an ailing actor in a rehearsal. He was immediately stricken with a love for the theater and went to New York City, where he studied and played small roles in stock and Off-Broadway. He landed an extra role in Henry Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now, and found his role expanded when Hathaway took a liking to him. Returning to the stage, he made his Broadway debut in "Billy Budd", and after a succession of small TV roles, moved to Hollywood, where he began playing heavies and cops in roles of increasing size and frequency. Given a leading role in Eight Iron Men, he followed it with enormously memorable heavies in The Big Heat and The Wild One. Now established as a major screen villain, Marvin began shifting toward leading roles with a successful run as a police detective in the TV series M Squad. A surprise Oscar for his dual role as a drunken gunfighter and his evil, noseless brother in the western comedy Cat Ballou placed him in the upper tiers of Hollywood leading men, and he filled out his career with predominantly action-oriented films. A long-term romantic relationship with Michelle Triola led, after their breakup, to a highly publicized lawsuit in which Triola asked for a substantial portion of Marvin's assets. Her case failed in its main pursuit, but did establish a legal precedent for the rights of unmarried cohabitors, the so-called "palimony" law. Marvin continued making films of varying quality, always as a star, until his sudden death from a heart attack in 1987.
The legendary gangsta hip-hop emcee Ice-T was born Tracy Marrow on February 16, 1958, in Newark, New Jersey. He moved to Los Angeles, California, to live with his paternal aunt after the death of his father while he was in the sixth grade; his mother had died earlier when he was in the third grade. His aunt lived in the South Los Angeles district of Crenshaw, colloquially referred to as South Central. He became immersed in the street life of the inner-city and eventually became a member of the West Side Rollin 30s Original Harlem Crips.
In 1979, Marrow joined the Army after leaving Crenshaw High School, but his 4-year hitch was enough for him, as he was a leader, not a follower. "I didn't like total submission to a leader other than myself," he said. After ETSing from the Army in 1983, he returned to South Central with the intention of becoming a hip-hop musician. More than music, his life got caught up in street life as as a jewel thief and as a pimp. (His nomme de guerre, Ice T, is an homage to the fabled pimp and raconteur Iceberg Slim (Robert Beck). He committed himself totally to his music after a 1985 car crash.
As a musician, Ice-T played a major role in the creation of the gangsta incarnation of hip-hop music and was a colossus of the West Coast hip-hop scene, despite his East Coast, greater New York, origins. Though his music displays a political consciousness, like the indictments of racism that were a hallmark of seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy, it also is nihilistic as befits a chronicler of street life. His most infamous song, the heavy metal "Cop Killer," was one of the major battle in the cultural wars of the 1990s, in which cultural conservatives enlisted the Moses of the right wing, Charlton Heston, to get Ice-T dropped from his then-label, Sire/Warner Bros.
The charismatic Ice-T has also achieved success as an actor in movies and on TV. He plays Detective Odafin Tutuola on the TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which is ironic for someone famous for "Cop Killer" and his feud with the L.A.P.D. Ice-T currently resides in North Bergen, New Jersey, with his wife, Coco Austin.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jessica Pimentel is an American actress whose parents were immigrants from the Dominican Republic. She is a Latina of mixed heritage including Taino Native American. She is a graduate of the High School for the Performing Arts (a.k.a. "Fame") in New York City and the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts, also in New York City, where she holds a degree in Theater Arts where she was awarded the Cleavon Little scholarship and was a member of the professional acting company. She has traveled around the United States, Canada and Japan as both a classical violinist and Hardcore/ Heavy Metal musician and has played at various notable venues such as CBGB and Carnegie Hall. Jessica is also the lead vocalist and recording guitarist for the Brooklyn, NY based heavy metal band Alekhine's Gun and Bassist for NY heavy metal/ Hardcore band Desolate. She is a featured and endorsed artist for Spector basses, Halo guitars and Krank Amps. She is also a student of many styles of dance and martial arts. She is a lover of mathematics and science (cosmology, astronomy, physics and chemistry) and a student of theology and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, logic, debate and meditation in the Gelugpa Tradition of the Dalai Lama and was trained by the former abbot of Sera Mey Monastery, H.E. Sermey Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin.
Some of her theater credits include the American Stage production of the Pulitzer prize winning play 'Anna in the Tropics' and the Shakespeare Theater's production of a 'A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings' adapted by Nilo Cruz. She was also seen in the leading role of Mathilde in the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater's production of 'The Clean House' by Sarah Ruhl and the Seattle Repertory Theater's production of Eduardo Machado's 'The Cook' which dealt with the effects of the rise of communism in Cuba over a span of 40 years. In 2008 she played the role of Juliet in an abridged, contemporary version of 'Romeo and Juliet' in a Theatreworks USA production national tour and originated the role of Lupita in the off Broadway show sponsored by The Women's Project 'Aliens with Extraordinary Skills' by Romanian playwright Saviana Stanescu.
Best known in the United Kingdom and abroad as Agatha Christie's suave Belgian super-sleuth Hercule Poirot in scores of late 1980s and '90s mini-movies, London-born actor David Suchet's early interest in the theater led to his membership with the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain in the 1960s following graduation from high school. He then studied for three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and, after much work in repertory, became a company member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973. Balding and stocky-framed with cruel eyes, arched brows and a dark, sinister countenance, he reveled in Shakespearean villainy with expertly loathsome portrayals of Iago in "Othello", Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet" and Caliban in "The Tempest" to his credit and became one of the dominant players of the RSC by decade's end.
In the 1970s Suchet also began to come into his own on British television. In classical tradition, his first television movie was A Tale of Two Cities. He actually played his first detective in the Disney mystery-comedy Trenchcoat. His looks were perfect for playing ethnic heavies or dignitaries in 1980s films. He was a Middle Eastern terrorist in The Little Drummer Girl, a Russian operative in The Falcon and the Snowman, a French hunter in Harry and the Hendersons, a Polish bishop in To Kill a Priest and Napoleon himself in Sabotage!.
He also had some masterful television roles portraying a number of historical, biblical and entertainment figures, including Sigmund Freud in the mini-series Freud, news reporter William L. Shirer in the biopic Murrow, Aaron in Moses, and movie mogul Louis B. Mayer in RKO 281.
While the Poirot mysteries and other TV dramatic showcases still figure into much of his work today, Suchet also has given potent, award-winning performances on the non-Shakespearean stage, particularly his George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1996 and, from 1998 to 2001, composer Salieri in "Amadeus", which he took to Broadway and for which he received a Tony nomination. Short in stature (5' 7") but tall in talent and imposing in figure, Suchet continues to impress, more recently as Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII and vampire nemesis Van Helsing in Dracula. Long wed to former actress Sheila Ferris, the couple has a son and daughter. His older brother is BBC newscaster-turned-journalist John Suchet.
Edward Matthew Lauter II was born on October 30, 1938 in Long Beach, New York. In a film career that extended for over four decades, Lauter starred in a plethora of film and television productions since making his big screen debut in the western Dirty Little Billy. He portrayed an eclectic array of characters over the years, including (but not limited to), authority/military figures, edgy villains, and good-hearted heavies. Many will remember him for his appearance as the stern Captain Wilhelm Knauer in The Longest Yard (Lauter also made a cameo in the 2005 remake). Lauter also worked with Alfred Hitchcock, Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Jim Carrey and Liam Neeson. With a face that seemed to appear without warning everywhere, Lauter remained in demand for roles on both films and television. Ed Lauter died of mesothelioma in his home in Los Angeles, California on October 16, 2013, less than two weeks before his 75th birthday.
Aleks Paunovic was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to a Croatian mother and Serbian father. The result of this remarkable blend of bloodlines is the 6'5" ruggedly handsome actor appearing on screens around the world at a rapidly escalating rate.
Acting came to Aleks while he was onstage in his hometown playing in a heavy metal band, his livelihood since he was 16. Remarkably the role offered was one completely against type as it was that of Roddy McDowall's butler in the 1994 TV movie 'Heads'. Now bitten with the acting bug, Aleks combined his athleticism from his lifetime of boxing - he claims that he started boxing in the womb as all of the men in his family are boxers - and turned it into a very busy career as a stunt actor.
In 2001 Aleks stopped in Vancouver on his way to Los Angeles with an impressive resume and ready to take on Hollywood when the most horrible event in America's recent history struck. 911 changed the way anyone could enter the states and so Aleks found himself a new home and career in busy Vancouver.
Since coming to Vancouver Aleks has built an amazing resume with over 100 credits, most of which are lead and recurring roles like the one that he has on this hugely anticipated 4th season of 'Continuum'.
Aleks credits three occurrences as the game-changers in his rocketing career: One was when the venerable acting coach Larry Moss called him out in front of 300 actors, telling him that he had massive talent and demanding to see his full range; another was when he respectfully declined an offer for a 4-episode-arc on a highly-rated TV series so that he could finish his run as 'Danny' in the play "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" in a shaky old theatre to sold-out crowds.
But the biggest catalyst in Aleks's career was when he fought three rounds of casting throughout all of Los Angeles and Vancouver to win the role of 'Tom', a developmentally disabled man accused of murder in 'Personal Effects' starring Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfieffer, and Kathy Bates. Aleks put on 65 pounds to perform the role, which was one of the most challenging and rewarding roles of his career so far.
When you meet Aleks, or you watch him perform these difficult roles, you just know that with all of that leading man charisma there's star power in this man, and that you will be seeing a lot more of Aleks Paunovic.
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."
Gavin MacLeod was raised in Pleasantville, New York, the son of a gas station owner who was part Chippewa Indian (Ojibwa). He followed his 1952 graduation from Ithaca College with military service, then moved to New York City and worked for a while as an usher and elevator operator at Radio City Music Hall. A solid break on Broadway in "A Hatful of Rain" in 1956, led him to move to Los Angeles to attempt film and TV. For awhile he earned a minor reputation as a second-string heavy in crime stories.
His career more or less flowed and ebbed with these minor dramatic roles until 1972, when his typecast as a shady, dangerous character was shattered forever. As Murray Slaughter, the balding, beaming, gleamy-toothed newswriter on Mary Tyler Moore wisecracking, humble and un-hip to a fault, Gavin (and Murray) became friendly household names in the 70s. From then on, he could only be envisaged as a loveable schmuck and nice guy.
This image was later cast in stone with the enduring success of another TV series, The Love Boat, in his role as the ingratiating Captain Stubing. On the down side, "Love Boat" marred his chances to be considered for more challenging work, and his inability to cope with success led to alcoholism and divorce from second wife Patti. However, he later turned his life around, remarried his wife, and wrote a biography called "Back on Course." Today he appears occasionally on the summer stock/dinner theater stage and as a guest performer on TV.
On the stage and on the big screen, Delroy Lindo projects a powerful presence that is almost impossible to ignore. Alhough it was not his first film role, his portrayal of the bipolar numbers boss West Indian Archie in Spike Lee's Malcolm X is what first attracted attention to Lindo's considerable talents. Since then, his star has slowly been on the rise.
The son of Jamaican parents, Lindo was born and raised in Lewisham, England, United Kingdom, until his teens when he and his mother, a nurse, moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A little later, they moved to the United States, where Lindo would graduate from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. After graduation, Lindo landed his first film role, that of an Army sergeant in More American Graffiti. However, he did not appear in another film for ten years. In the meantime, Lindo worked on stage and, in 1982, debuted on Broadway in "Master Harold and the Boys" directed by the play's author, Athol Fugard. In 1988, Lindo earned a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Harald Loomis in Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
Though he was obviously a talented actor with a bright future, Lindo's career stalled. Wanting someone more aggressive and appreciative of his talents, Lindo changed agents (he'd had the same one through most of his early career). It was a smart move, but it was director Spike Lee who provided the boost Lindo's career needed. The director was impressed enough with Lindo to cast him as patriarch Woody Carmichael in Lee's semi-autobiographical comedy Crooklyn.
For Lindo, 1996 was a big year. He landed major supporting roles in six features, including a heavy in Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty, another villainous supporting role in Lee's Clockers, and still another bad guy in Feeling Minnesota. Lest one believe that Lindo is typecast into forever playing drug lords and gangsters, that year he also played baseball player Leroy "Satchel" Paige in the upbeat Soul of the Game (a.k.a. Baseball in Black and White), for which he won a NAACP Image Award nomination. Since then, the versatile Lindo has shown himself equally adept at playing characters on both sides of the law. In 1997, he played an angel opposite Holly Hunter in Danny Boyle's offbeat romantic fantasy A Life Less Ordinary and, in 2009, a vengeful cop in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Lindo graduated from San Francisco State University in 2004 with a degree in Cinema.
Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908. Her parents divorced in 1916 and her mother took the family on a trip out West. While there they decided to settle down in the Los Angeles area. After being spotted playing baseball in the street with the neighborhood boys by a film director, Carole was signed to a one-picture contract in 1921 when she was 12. The film in question was A Perfect Crime. Although she tried for other acting jobs, she would not be seen onscreen again for four years. She returned to a normal life, going to school and participating in athletics, excelling in track and field. By age 15 she had had enough of school, though, and quit. She joined a theater troupe and played in several stage shows, which were for the most part nothing to write home about. In 1925 she passed a screen test and was signed to a contract with Fox Films. Her first role as a Fox player was Hearts and Spurs, in which she had the lead. Right after that film she appeared in a western called Durand of the Bad Lands. She rounded out 1925 in the comedy Marriage in Transit (she also appeared in a number of two-reel shorts). In 1926 Carole was seriously injured in an automobile accident that resulted in the left side of her face being scarred. Once she had recovered, Fox canceled her contract. She did find work in a number of shorts during 1928 (13 of them, many for slapstick comedy director Mack Sennett), but did go back for a one-time shot with Fox called Me, Gangster. By now the film industry was moving from the silent era to "talkies". While some stars' careers ended because of heavy accents, poor diction or a voice unsuitable to sound, Carole's light, breezy, sexy voice enabled her to transition smoothly during this period. Her first sound film was High Voltage at Pathe (her new studio) in 1929. In 1931 she was teamed with William Powell in Man of the World. She and Powell hit it off and soon married, but the marriage didn't work out and they divorced in 1933. No Man of Her Own put Carole opposite Clark Gable for the first and only time (they married seven years later in 1939). By now she was with Paramount Pictures and was one of its top stars. However, it was Twentieth Century that showed her true comedic talents and proved to the world what a fine actress she really was. In 1936 Carole received her only Oscar nomination for Best Actress for My Man Godfrey. She was superb as ditzy heiress Irene Bullock. Unfortunately, the coveted award went to Luise Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld, which also won for Best Picture. Carole was now putting out about one film a year of her own choosing, because she wanted whatever role she picked to be a good one. She was adept at picking just the right part, which wasn't surprising as she was smart enough to see through the good-ol'-boy syndrome of the studio moguls. She commanded and received what was one of the top salaries in the business - at one time it was reported she was making $35,000 a week. She made but one film in 1941, Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Her last film was in 1942, when she played Maria Tura opposite Jack Benny in To Be or Not to Be. Tragically, she didn't live to see its release. The film was completed in 1941 just at the time the US entered World War II, and was subsequently held back for release until 1942. Meanwhile, Carole went home to Indiana for a war bond rally. On January 16, 1942, Carole, her mother, and 20 other people were flying back to California when the plane went down outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. All aboard perished. The highly acclaimed actress was dead at the age of 33 and few have been able to match her talents since.
Richard Widmark established himself as an icon of American cinema with his debut in the 1947 film noir Kiss of Death in which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination as the killer "Tommy Udo". Kiss of Death and other noir thrillers established Widmark as part of a new generation of American movie actors who became stars in the post-World War II era. With fellow post-War stars Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum, Widmark brought a new kind of character to the screen in his character leads and supporting parts: a hardboiled type who does not actively court the sympathy of the audience. Widmark was not afraid to play deeply troubled, deeply conflicted, or just down right deeply corrupt characters.
After his debut, Widmark would work steadily until he retired at the age of 76 in 1990, primarily as a character lead. His stardom would peak around the time he played the U.S. prosecutor in Judgment at Nuremberg as the 1950s segued into the 1960s, but he would continue to act for another 30 years.
Richard Weedt Widmark was born in Sunrise Township, Minnesota, to Ethel Mae (Barr) and Carl Henry Widmark. His father was of Swedish descent and his mother of English and Scottish ancestry. He has said that he loved the movies from his boyhood, claiming "I've been a movie bug since I was 4. My grandmother used to take me". The teen-aged Widmark continued to go to the movies, and was thrilled by Dracula and Frankenstein. "I thought Boris Karloff was great", Widmark said. Although he loved the movies and excelled at public speaking while attending high school, Widmark attended Lake Forest College with the idea of becoming a lawyer. However, he won the lead role in a college production of, fittingly enough, the play "Consellor-at-Law", and the acting bug bit deep. After taking his bachelor of arts degree in 1936, he stayed on at Lake Forest as the Assistant Director of Speech and Drama. However, he soon quit the job and moved to New York to become an actor and, by 1938, he was appearing on radio in "Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories". He made his Broadway debut in 1943 in the play "Kiss and Tell", and continued to appear on stage in roles that were light years away from the tough cookies he would play in his early movies.
After World War II, he was signed by 20th Century Fox to a seven-year contract. After seeing his screen-test for the role of "Tommy Udo", 20th Century Fox boss Darryl F. Zanuck insisted that the slight, blonde Widmark - no one's idea of a heavy, particularly after his stage work - be cast as the psychopath in Kiss of Death, which had been prepared as a Victor Mature vehicle. Even though the role was small, Widmark stole the picture. 20th Century Fox's publicity department recommended that exhibitors market the film by concentrating on thumbing the tub for their new anti-hero. "Sell Richard Widmark" advised the studio's publicity manual that an alert 20th Century Fox sent to theater owners. The manual told local exhibitors to engage a job-printer to have "Wanted" posters featuring Widmark's face to be printed and pasted up. He won a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod for the part, which lead to an early bout with typecasting at the studio. Widmark played psychotics in The Street with No Name and Road House, and held his own against new Fox superstar Gregory Peck in the William A. Wellman's Western, Yellow Sky, playing the villain, of course. When he finally pressured the studio to let him play other parts, his appearance as a sailor in Down to the Sea in Ships made headlines: "Life" magazine's March 28, 1949 issue featured a three-page spread of the movie, headlined, "Widmark the Movie Villain Goes Straight". He was popular, having captured the public imagination, and before the decade was out, his hand and footprints were immortalized in concrete in the court outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The great director Elia Kazan cast Widmark in his thriller Panic in the Streets not as the heavy - that role went to Jack Palance - but as the physician who tracks down Palance, who has the plague, in tandem with detective Paul Douglas. Widmark was establishing himself as a real presence in the genre that later would be hailed as "film noir". Having proved he could handle other roles, Widmark didn't shy away from playing heavies in quality pictures. The soon-to-be-blacklisted director Jules Dassin cast him in one of his greatest roles, as the penny-ante hustler "Harry Fabian" in Night and the City. Set in London, Widmark's Fabian manages to survive in the jungle of the English demimonde, but is doomed. Widmark was masterful in conveying the desperation of the criminal seeking to control his own fate but who is damned, and this performance also became an icon of film noir. In that same year, he appeared in Oscar-winning writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's No Way Out as a bigot who instigates a race riot.
As the 1950s progressed, Widmark played in Westerns, military vehicles, and his old stand-by genre, the thriller. He appeared with Marilyn Monroe (this time cast as the psycho) in Don't Bother to Knock and made Pickup on South Street that same year for director Samuel Fuller. His seven-year contract at Fox was expiring, and Zanuck - who would not renew the deal - cast him in the Western Broken Lance in a decidedly supporting role, billed beneath not only Spencer Tracy but even Robert Wagner and Jean Peters. The film was well-respected, and it won an Oscar nomination for best screenplay for the front of Hollywood 10 blacklistee Albert Maltz. Widmark left Fox for the life of a freelance, forming his own company, "Heath Productions". He appeared in more Westerns, adventures and social dramas, and pushed himself as an actor by taking the thankless role of "The Dauphin" in Otto Preminger's adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, a notorious flop that didn't bring anyone any honors, neither Preminger, his leading lady Jean Seberg or Widmark. In 1960, he was appearing in another notorious production, John Wayne's ode to suicidal patriotism, The Alamo, with the personally liberal Widmark playing "Jim Bowie" in support of the very-conservative Wayne's "Davy Crockett". Along with character actor Chill Wills, Widmark arguably was the best thing in the movie.
In 1961, Widmark acquitted himself quite well as the prosecutor in producer-director Stanley Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg, appearing with the Oscar-nominated Spencer Tracy and the Oscar-winning Maximilian Schell, as well as with superstar Burt Lancaster and acting genius Montgomery Clift and the legendary 'Judy Garland' (the latter two winning Oscar nods for their small roles). Despite being showcased with all this thespian-firepower, Widmark's character proved to be the axis on which the drama turned. A little later, Widmark appeared in two Westerns directed by the great John Ford, with co-star James Stewart in Two Rode Together and as the top star in Ford's apologia for Indian genocide, Cheyenne Autumn. On Two Rode Together, Ford feuded with Jimmy Stewart over his hat. Stewart insisted on wearing the same hat he had for a decade of highly successful Westerns that had made him one of the top box office stars of the 1950s. Both he and Widmark were hard-of-hearing (as well as balding and in need of help from the makeup department's wig-makers), so Ford would sit himself far away from them while directing scenes and then give them directions in a barely audible voice. When neither one of the stars could hear their director, Ford theatrically announced to his crew, that after over 40 years in the business, he was reduced to directing two deaf toupees. It was testimony to the stature of both Stewart and Widmark as stars that this was as far as Ford's baiting went, as the great director could be extraordinarily cruel.
Widmark continued to co-star in A-pictures through the 1960s. He capped off the decade with one of his finest performances, as the amoral police detective in Don Siegel's gritty cop melodrama Madigan. Watching "Madigan", one can see Widmark's characters as a progression in the evolution of what would become the late 1960s nihilistic anti-hero, such as those embodied by Clint Eastwood in Siegel's later Dirty Harry. Im the 1970s, he continued to make his mark in movies and, beginning in 1971, in television. In movies, he appeared primarily in supporting roles, albeit in highly billed fashion, in such films as Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express, Robert Aldrich's Twilight's Last Gleaming, and Stanley Kramer's The Domino Principle. He even came back as a heavy, playing the villainous doctor in Coma.
In 1971, in search of better roles, he turned to television, starring as the President of the U.S. in the TV movies Vanished. His performance in the role brought Widmark an Emmy nomination. He resurrected the character of "Madigan" for NBC, in six 90-minute episodes that appeared as part of the rotation of "NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie" for the Fall 1972 season. Widmark was married for 55 years to playwright Jean Hazlewood, from 1942 until her death in 1997 (they had one child, Anne, who was born in 1945). He lived quietly and avoided the press, saying in 1971, "I think a performer should do his work and then shut up". "Los Angeles Times" critic Kevin Thomas thought that Widmark should have won an Oscar nomination for his turn in When the Legends Die, playing a former rodeo star tutoring 'Frederic Forrest'.
It is surprising to think that Kiss of Death represented his sole Oscar nomination, but with the rise of the respect for film noir around the time his career began tapering off in 70s, he began to be reevaluated as an actor. Unlike Bogart, who did not live to see his reputation flourish after his death, well before he retired, Widmark became a cult figure.
Necar began working in the theater at age 16 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and has since stayed close to the theater while splitting her time between film and television. In 2011, she played a lead role in the FilmMcQueen production of "Meth Head." She followed that with a role on the NBC series The Event as resident villainess Isabelle. The year also saw her making her Broadway debut in the Tony Award winning and Pulitzer Prize nominated play " The Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," opposite Robin Williams.
Prior to that Necar scored with fans as Dalia Hassan on the mega-hit Fox TV series, '24' for Season 8. Her star level turn in the series earned her a slew of admirers, and garnered her reviews that all agree: "Breakout star of the season," "Absolutely amazing," "Necar Zadegan makes the scene here, with her boiling hatred for Suberov contained, but visible," "special mention should go to the quality of acting overall, in particular Cherry Jones, Necar Zadegan and Mary Lynn Rajskub, who all produced some emotional and heavy scenes."
In the psychological thriller "Unthinkable," Necar stars alongside Samuel L Jackson and Michael Sheen, as Jehan Younger. She also recently wrapped the FilmMcQueen production, "Elena Undone" where she plays the title role of 'Elena Winters." Her television credits include "Harry's Law,""A Gifted Man","CSI: Miami," "The Shield," "Nip/Tuck," "The Unit," "NCIS," "How I Met Your Mother," "Lost" among others. Necar graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in English Literature.
Ms. Burke was born in Camden, London in 1964 at the Royal Free Hospital. Kathy's mother died when she was a baby and she was in foster homes for a short time until her father, who was a heavy drinker, could regain custody of Kathy and live with her two brothers. Kathy attended the Maria Fidelis Secondary School in Euston. She was encouraged to act at school and enrolled at the famous Anna Scher Theatre School in Islington. When Kathy was 17 years old, she was spotted by film director Mai Zetterling who was looking for young actresses to appear in the film Scrubbers. At 22, Kathy wrote her first play "Mr Thomas". She directed it at the "Old Red Lion" and Ray Winstone appeared in the title role. Kathy is keenly interested in art and books and she collects first editions. She now lives in Highbury, London near Arsenal football ground.
With over 30 films and 200 hours of television experience, versatility, discipline and a solid work ethic have been the underpinnings of Adrian's very successful 30-year acting career. Internationally recognized for his role as Duncan Macleod, in Highlander-The Series", Adrian has also produced and directed both film and television projects.
Born and raised in London, England, Adrian arrived in the United States in 1984, working as a choreographer and a model. After a year of taking acting classes with acting coaches, Ivana Chubbuck and Roy London, his first series role came on the ABC television show, The Colbys. This led to a role in the Broadway play, "Bouncers", in 1987, a guest role on the television show, Beauty and the Beast (1987) and his first film role in the film Last Rites (1988), with Tom Berenger.
After a starring role in Roger Corman's," Masque of the Red Death "(1989),he became a series regular in the second season of the television series "War of the Worlds"(1988), followed by four episode arc on the MGM, "Dark Shadows" series. Fast becoming known for his solid work ethic, CBS cast him as the lead in the television pilot, "The Owl" (1990). Although the series wasn't picked up, Adrian didn't stop working, guest starring on Angela Lansbury's "Murder She Wrote", and co starring opposite the up-and-coming Sandra Bullock in, "Love Potion Number 9". But it would be his next role that would bring him international recognition...that of "Duncan MacLeod" in the syndicated series, Highlander (1991-1997). During the 6 year run, Adrian directed four of the series' episodes, including the epic 100th episode, shot in Bordeaux France. Three of these episodes were voted in the top ten best of series for the 119 episode run.
Although he was in demand when the series ended in 1997, Paul wanted to go back to his acting roots. After studying with renowned acting coach Larry Moss, he worked on John Landis' romantic comedy, "Susan's Plan", the action thriller, "Dead Men Can't Dance", and helped found Actors in Process, a theater group, where actors could meet weekly to showcase current work and receive positive critique from their peers. After two years, a production of an original play, "Things Just Change", was showcased at the Odyssey theater in Los Angeles, with Paul in the lead role.
The success of the Highlander series however, was still current, leading Paul to be offered to star opposite Christopher Lambert in "Highlander : Endgame"(2000), to take over the franchise's lead position. Other films followed, including the now cult classic "The Breed" (2001), shot in Budapest, Hungary where Adrian met his future wife, Alexandra.
In 2001, Lionsgate signed Adrian to a 3 picture deal, as well as to star in and executive produce the Sci Fi action thriller, "Tracker" (created by Gil Grant) for Lionsgate Television. With the advent of so many new media outlets however, the syndicated series was not renewed for a second season. Adrian continued to work on films such as "Nemesis Game" (Lionsgate) and "Tides of War", along with the Spelling Television and Paramount Pictures' hit TV series, "Charmed". This was the first time in thirteen years that Adrian had actually filmed again on US soil.
In 2006 the Highlander Franchise was back again, this time filming in Lithuania, with Adrian starring in and Executive Producing, what would become his last sortie as Duncan Macleod, in "Highlander :The Source". After that came, "The Legend of Roanoke"(2007) and the Sci Fi Action Comedy "The Immortal Voyages of Captain Drake"(2009), a film in which Paul choreographed all the fight scenes.
Always looking for interesting roles, Adrian found himself in Hungary and Tunisia, filming the Seven Arts production, "Nine Miles Down"(2009), that he now considers one of his most emotionally challenging roles. Next, he was off to London, in an out of character role, as a Conservative member of Parliament in the thriller, "The Heavy "(2010), with Gary Stretch, Stephen Rea and Christopher Lee. Also in 2010, Adrian co-founded his first production company Filmblips Inc.
Since 2010, while working as an actor on several other films and TV movies, Adrian also wrote three screenplays, developed financial and artistic presentation packages for film and television, along with spearheading his charity, The Peace Fund, that he founded in 1997. Peace stands for Protect. Educate. Aid. Children. Everywhere. Over the past 17 years, Adrian has overseen the work of the fund in countries such as Romania, Bellarus, Niger, Hungary, Haiti, Cambodia, Thailand and the United States. In 2012, Adrian launched Peace Fund Radio that he co hosts with Ethan Dettanmaeir, with an estimated audience of between 1.8 and 2 million listeners a month. The innovative radio show, has been host to many celebrities with causes of their own and is the catalyst behind the Peace Fund's partnership and donation to bring computers into LAUSD schools. Through the radio shows influence the fund has also partnered with Kimberly Moore's," Adopt a Letter" program to fulfill children's wishes at Christmas, brought books for libraries and lights for homes in El Salvador, along with connecting like minded charities to fulfill their initiatives.
In 2015, Adrian helped launch his second production company, Radical Road, aimed at lower budget films, some of which Adrian is set to direct and act in. In 2016 Adrian has two movies, "The Secret of Emily Blair" and "Stormageddon", releasing and he is getting ready to direct his first feature, "Chemical Influence", a screenplay he wrote from an original script. Adrian also launched, "The Sword Experience" in 2016. Half day seminars of sword training, that include stage and real life combat and safety tips aimed at individuals, corporations, film, stage, re-enactment societies, martial artists and role playing groups.
He is still married to Alexandra and they have two children together, Angelisa and Royce.
Award-winning Greek-American actor Michael Constantine (born 22 May 1927) is best known for his portrayal of the Windex bottle-toting family patriarch "Gus Portokalos" in the sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Before his appearance in that movie and the subsequent TV series based on it, he was primarily known for his portrayal of principal "Seymour Kaufman" in the series Room 222, for which he won a 1970 Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor (in 1971, he also received a second Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination as Best Supporting Actor for the role).
Michael Constantine was born Constantine Joanides in Reading, Pennsylvania, to Greek parents, Andromache (Fotiadou) and Theoharis Ioannides, a steel worker. He made his Broadway debut as part of the ensemble of the hit play "Inherit the Wind", which made its bow at the National Theatre on April 21, 1955, and closed on June 22, 1957, after 806 performances. During the run of the play, Constantine managed to work his way up into the part of "Conklin". His next appearance on the Great White Way was in "Compulsion", a dramatization of the Leopold & Loeb trial, in which he played three parts: speakeasy owner "Al", defense attorney "Jonathan Wilk" and "Dr. Ball". The show had a modest run of 140 performances in the 1957-58 season at the Ambassador Theatre.
On October 19, 1959, Constantine was part of the opening-night cast of the hit play "The Miracle Worker", appearing in the role of "Anagnos". It ran for 719 performances at the Playhouse through July 1, 1961, but his next play, "The Egg", was a flop, lasting but one week (eight performances) at the Cort in January 1962. His last turn on Broadway was in Tony Richardson's staging of Bertolt Brecht's mediation on the rise of Adolf Hitler, "Arturo Ui" (a.k.a. "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui"). Constantine played the character "Dogsborough" in support of the great Broadway star Christopher Plummer's "Arturo Ui". It, too, was a one-week flop, lasting but eight performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in November 1963. Constantine's Broadway career was at an end.
He had made his motion picture debut in The Last Mile in support of Mickey Rooney, but had already begun appearing in the medium in which he made his reputation, television, the year before. He appeared in teleplays on the omnibus television anthologies Armstrong Circle Theatre and Play of the Week and made numerous guest appearances on TV series, where his ethnic look made him valuable as heavies on such programs as The Untouchables. In film, he appeared in such productions as Robert Rossen's classic The Hustler, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and the film version of Woody Allen's play, Don't Drink the Water, the latter two films revealing his flair for comedy.
Constantine was a regular on the series Hey, Landlord. His stint on Room 222 was followed by his star-turn in the short-lived series Sirota's Court, for which he received his second Golden Globe nomination, this time as Best Leading Actor in a Musical or Comedy TV Series, in 1976. After that, he remained steadily employed but his career remained rather quiet until cast he was cast in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Jackie Coogan was born into a family of vaudevillians where his father was a dancer and his mother had been a child star. On the stage by four, Jackie was touring at the age of five with his family in Los Angeles, California.
While performing on the stage, he was spotted by Charles Chaplin, who then and there planned a movie in which he and Jackie would star. To test Jackie, Chaplin first gave him a small part in A Day's Pleasure, which proved that he had a screen presence. The movie that Chaplin planned that day was The Kid, where the Tramp would raise Jackie and then lose him. The movie was very successful and Jackie would play a child in a number of movies and tour with his father on the stage.
By 1923, when he made Daddy, he was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He would leave First National for MGM where they put him into Long Live the King. By 1927, at the age of 13, Coogan had grown up on the screen and his career was starting to go through a downturn. His popular film career would end with the classic tales of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
In 1935, his father died and his mother married Arthur Bernstein, who was his business manager. When he wanted the money that he made as a child star in the 1920s, his mother and stepfather refused his request and Jackie filed suit for the approximately $4 million that he had made. Under California law at the time, he had no rights to the money he made as a child, and he was awarded only $126,000 in 1939. Because of the public uproar, the California Legislature passed the Child Actors Bill, also known as the Coogan Act, which would set up a trust fund for any child actor and protect his earnings.
In 1937, Jackie married Betty Grable and the marriage lasted for three years. During World War II, he would serve in the army and return to Hollywood after the war. Unable to restart his career, he worked in B-movies, mostly in bit parts and usually playing the heavy. It was in the 1950s that he started appearing on television and he acted in as many shows as he could. By the 1960s, he would be in two completely different television series, but both were comedies. The first one was McKeever & the Colonel, where he played Sgt. Barnes in a military school from 1962 to 1963. The second series was the classic The Addams Family, where he played Uncle Fester opposite Gomez and Morticia from 1964 to 1966. After that, he would continue making appearances on a number of television shows and a handful of movies. He died of a heart attack in 1984.
Joss Ackland, the distinguished English actor who has appeared in over 100 movies, scores of plays and a plethora of television programs in his six-decade career, was born Sidney Edmond Jocelyn Ackland on February 29, 1928, in North Kensington, London. After attending London's Central School of Speech and Drama, the 17-year-old Ackland made his professional stage debut in "The Hasty Heart" in 1945.
Although he first appeared on film in John Boulting's and Roy Boulting's Oscar-winning thriller Seven Days to Noon in an uncredited bit role, he made his credited debut in a supporting role in Vernon Sewell's Ghost Ship. He would not again grace the big screen until the end of the decade. Instead, Ackland spent the latter half of the 1940s and the first half of the 1950s honing his craft in regional theatrical companies.
In 1955 he left the English stage behind and moved to Africa to manage a tea plantation, an experience that likely informed his heralded performance 20 years later in White Mischief. In his two years in Africa he wrote plays and did service as a radio disc jockey. Upon his return to England in 1957, he joined the Old Vic company.
From 1962-64 he served as associate director of the Mermaid Theatre. Subsequently, his stage acting career primarily was in London's commercial West End theater, where he made a name for himself in musicals. He was distinguished as Captain Hook in the musical version of "Peter Pan" and as Juan Peron in "Evita". In the straight theater he was a memorable Falstaff in William Shakespeare's "Henry IV Parts 1 & 2" and as Captain Shotover in George Bernard Shaw's "Heartbreak House". In the 1960s Ackland began appearing more regularly in films, and his career as a movie character actor picked up rapidly in the 1970s and began to flourish in the 1980s. It has shown little sign of abating in the 21st century, even though he's well into his 70s.
In addition to his performance in "White Mischief", among his more notable turns as an actor before the camera came in the BBC-TV production of Shadowlands, in which he played 'C.S. Lewis', and in Lethal Weapon 2 as the South African heavy.
He is the father of seven children, whom he listed as his "hobby" in a 1981 interview. On December 31, 2000, Joss Ackland was named a Commander of the British Empire on the New Year's Honours List for his 50 years of service to the English stage, cinema and television.