Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892). Raised as a strict Catholic and attending Saint Ignatius College, a school run by Jesuits, Hitch had very much of a regular upbringing. His first job outside of the family business was in 1915 as an estimator for the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company. His interest in movies began at around this time, frequently visiting the cinema and reading US trade journals.
It was around 1920 when Hitchcock joined the film industry. He started off drawing the sets (he was a very skilled artist). It was there that he met Alma Reville, though they never really spoke to each other. It was only after the director for Always Tell Your Wife fell ill and Hitchcock was named director to complete the film that he and Reville began to collaborate. Hitchcock had his first real crack at directing a film, start to finish, in 1923 when he was hired to direct the film Number 13, though the production wasn't completed due to the studio's closure (he later remade it as a sound film). Hitchcock didn't give up then. He directed The Pleasure Garden, a British/German production, which was very popular. Hitchcock made his first trademark film in 1927, The Lodger . In the same year, on the 2nd of December, Hitchcock married Alma Reville. They had one child, _Patricia Hitchcock_ who was born on July 7th, 1928. His success followed when he made a number of films in Britain such as The Lady Vanishes and Jamaica Inn, some of which also gained him fame in the USA.
In 1940, the Hitchcock family moved to Hollywood, where the producer _David O. Selznick_had hired him to direct an adaptation of 'Daphne du Maurier''s Rebecca. After Saboteur, as his fame as a director grew, film companies began to refer to his films as 'Alfred Hitchcock's', for example Alfred Hitcock's Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot, Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy.
Hitchcock was a master of pure cinema who almost never failed to reconcile aesthetics with the demands of the box-office.
During the making of Frenzy, Hitchcock's wife Alma suffered a paralyzing stroke which made her unable to walk very well. On March 7, 1979, Hitchcock was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award, where he said: "I beg permission to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation, and encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter Pat, and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen and their names are Alma Reville." By this time, he was ill with angina and his kidneys had already started to fail. He had started to write a screenplay with _Ernest Lehman_ called The Short Night but he fired Lehman and hired young writer David Freeman to rewrite the script. Due to Hitchcock's failing health the film was never made, but Freeman published the script after Hitchcock's death. In late 1979, Hitchcock was knighted, making him Sir Alfred Hitchcock. On the 29th April 1980, 9:17AM, he died peacefully in his sleep due to renal failure. His funeral was held in the Church of Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. Father Thomas Sullivan led the service with over 600 people attended the service, among them were Mel Brooks (director of High Anxiety, a comedy tribute to Hitchcock and his films), Louis Jourdan, Karl Malden, Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh and François Truffaut.
Born in Boise City, Oklahoma, Vera Miles attended school in Pratt, Kansas and Wichita, Kansas. The patrician beauty of Miss Miles won her the title of "Miss Kansas" in 1948, leading soon to small roles in Hollywood films and television series. Fame came to the forthright, spirited Miles when she attracted the attention of two master directors, Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford. Ford cast her in the classic western The Searchers and Hitchcock, who put her under personal contract and hailed her as his "new Grace Kelly", paired her with the great Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man. Hitchcock cast Miles in the potentially star-making role of Judy Barton in Vertigo, but Miles withdrew from the film when she became pregnant. Hitchcock gave Miles a supporting role in another masterpiece Psycho, as did Ford when he cast her opposite John Wayne and James Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, She also starred in such films as Beau James opposite Bob Hope, The FBI Story opposite Stewart, Back Street opposite Susan Hayward and John Gavin and Sergeant Ryker opposite Lee Marvin, as well as showing her consistently remarkable and versatile talent on dozens of popular television movies and series including The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Fugitive, My Three Sons, Bonanza, "Columbo" and Murder, She Wrote. In 1983, she reprised her role as "Lila Crane" in the film sequel Psycho II, starring Anthony Perkins. Although, too often, the stunningly beautiful Miles' gifts were underutilized, before her retirement in 1995, hers was a most intriguing and enduring Hollywood career.
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to wealthy parents. She was the daughter of Margaret Katherine (Majer), a phys ed instructor, and John Brendan Kelly, Sr., a three-time Olympic Gold winner for rowing. Her uncle was playwright George Kelly. She was of half Irish and half German descent. Her girlhood was uneventful for the most part, but one of the things she desired was to become an actress which she had decided on at an early age. After her high school graduation in 1947, Grace struck out on her own, heading to New York's bright lights to try her luck there. Grace worked as a model and made her debut on Broadway in 1949. She also made a brief foray into the infant medium of television.
Not content with the work in New York, Grace moved to Southern California for the more prestigious part of acting -- motion pictures. In 1951, she appeared in her first film entitled Fourteen Hours when she was 22. It was a small part, but a start nonetheless. The following year, she landed the role of Amy Kane in High Noon, a western starring Gary Cooper and Lloyd Bridges which turned out to be very popular. In 1953, Grace appeared in only one film, but it was another popular one. The film was Mogambo where Grace played Linda Nordley. The film was a jungle drama in which fellow cast members, Clark Gable and Ava Gardner turned in masterful performances. It was also one of the best films ever released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Although she got noticed with High Noon, her work with director Alfred Hitchcock, which began with Dial M for Murder made her a star. Her standout performance in Rear Window brought her to prominence. As Lisa Fremont, she was cast opposite James Stewart, who played a photographer who witnesses a murder in an apartment across the courtyard while convalescing in a wheelchair. Grace stayed busy in 1954 appearing in five films. Grace would forever be immortalized by winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Georgie Elgin opposite Bing Crosby in The Country Girl. In 1955, Grace once again teamed with Hitchcock in To Catch a Thief co-starring Cary Grant. In 1956, she played Tracy Lord in the musical comedy High Society which also starred Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The whimsical tale ended with her re-marrying her former husband, played by Crosby. The film was well received and also turned out to be her final acting performance.
In the summer of 1954, Kelly and Cary Grant were on the French Riviera, working on To Catch a Thief. It was probably the scene after Grace speeds along the Moyen Corniche to quickly get to the "picnic grounds", and away from a tailing police car, that she had time to look at the Mediterranean and the countryside along the coast. "Whose gardens are those?" she asked screenwriter John Michael Hayes. "Prince Grimaldi's". She would not meet the prince until the following year. In New York in March 1955, she received a call from Rupert Allan, Look Magazine's west coast editor, who had become a friend since writing three cover stories on her. The French government wanted her to attend the Cannes Film Festival that May. She had some good reasons to go. One: The Country Girl would be shown at the festival. Two: she had really loved working on the Riviera the summer before. She met Prince Rainier of Monaco during the Cannes festival. He needed a wife, because with no heir to the throne, Monaco would again be part of France, after his death, all its citizens would have to pay French taxes. And Kelly thought it was time for her to select a husband, one who would finally meet with her parents' approval.
Her biographers show that the life of a princess was not exactly living happily ever after. Old friends from Philadelphia as well as people she had known in Hollywood reported how glad she was to talk about her life in America and to be speaking English. And then on a cliff road she had known so well since her first visit to the Riviera, there was the fatal crash. The spot is often said to be the same spot where the picnic scene from To Catch a Thief was filmed in 1954. However, Kelly's own son, Prince Albert of Monaco, has categorically denied this on Larry King Live and elsewhere; according to him, the accident did not even happen on the same road, let alone at the same spot.
For the rest of her life, she was to remain in the news with her marriage and her three children. On September 14, 1982, Grace was killed in an automobile accident in her adoptive home country, Monaco, at age 52.
Natasha Henstridge was born on August 15, 1974 in Springdale, Newfoundland, Canada. Known for movies like Species and The Whole Nine Yards, she started her career as a model in Paris, France at the tender age of 15. After leaving home to begin her modeling career in the highly-competitive Paris fashion world, she landed her first cover of French Cosmopolitan and graced the covers of many international fashion magazines, appearing in commercials for Oil of Olay, Lady Stetson and Old Spice. Seeking a greater challenge, Natasha pursued her love of acting and, at only 19, landed the starring role of the science-fiction thriller Species, opposite Sir Ben Kingsley and Forest Whitaker. The film became a worldwide hit critically and commercially and Natasha received praise for her performance as the genetically-modified Sil, including an MTV Award. Not since the Hitchcock era had someone redefined the "femme fatale" for a new generation. This began a recognized film career that has spanned over 35 movies to date.
From conquering comedy with Bruce Willis in The Whole Nine Yards to taking the action-heroine lead in John Carpenter's science-fiction thriller Ghosts of Mars, Natasha has proved herself to be a versatile and fearless actress. She won the Best Actress Gemini Award (Canada's equivalent of an Emmy Award) for her hard-hitting portrayal of a policeman's wife in the miniseries Would Be Kings and starred with Geena Davis in the Golden Globe-winning series Commander in Chief. Her television credits include leading roles in hit series and She Spies and Eli Stone, and voicing Miss Ellen on South Park. Recently, she returned to movies, starring with Paul Sorvino and Joe Mantegna in the forthcoming period drama The Bronx Bull, playing the wife of legendary boxer Jake LaMotta. Natasha is the youngest actress to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Temecula Film Festival, and recently was honored with the Queen Elizabeth II Award from her homeland of Canada.
Natasha is married to actor and platinum-selling recording artist Darius Campbell and they live in Los Angeles, California with her two children Tristan, 14, and Asher, 11. They enjoy skiing and traveling the world, and are involved in humanitarian efforts including St Jude Children's Research Hospital, World Vision and Fresh2o water charity. Natasha also divides her time between the two coasts, as she continues to be in demand as a model, while pursuing a blossoming career as an actress.
Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant", Grant is said to have replied, "So would I."
Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years in Bristol would have been an ordinary lower-middle-class childhood, except for one extraordinary event. At age nine, he came home from school one day and was told his mother had gone off to a seaside resort. The real truth, however, was that she had been placed in a mental institution, where she would remain for years, and he was never told about it (he wouldn't see his mother again until he was in his late 20s). He left school at fourteen, lying about his age and forging his father's signature on a letter to join Bob Pender's troupe of knockabout comedians. He learned pantomime as well as acrobatics as he toured with the Pender troupe in the English provinces, picked up a Cockney accent in the music halls in London, and then in July 1920, was one of the eight Pender boys selected to go to the US. Their show on Broadway, "Good Times," ran for 456 performances, giving Grant time to acclimatize. He would stay in America. Mae West wanted Grant for She Done Him Wrong because she saw his combination of virility, sexuality and the aura and bearing of a gentleman. Grant was young enough to begin the new career of fatherhood when he stopped making movies at age 62. One biographer said Grant was alienated by the new realism in the film industry. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he had invented a man-of-the-world persona and a style--"high comedy with polished words." In To Catch a Thief, he and Grace Kelly were allowed to improvise some of the dialogue. They knew what the director, Alfred Hitchcock, wanted to do with a scene, they rehearsed it, put in some clever double entendres that got past the censors, and then the scene was filmed. His biggest box-office success was another Hitchcock 1950s film, North by Northwest made with Eva Marie Saint since Kelly was by that time Princess of Monaco.
Born in Bristol, England, Veronica is the older sister of the popular child actress Angela Cartwright. In her early career, Veronica was cast in a number of popular movies such as The Children's Hour, Spencer's Mountain and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. As such, she was cast as "Jemima Boone" in the popular television series Daniel Boone, which ran from 1964 to 66. Her career after "Daniel Boone" may have been influenced by Hitchcock, since she appeared in both the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the horror classic Alien. On television, she appeared twice as Lumpy's younger sister, "Violet Rutherford" and once as "Peggy MacIntosh" on Leave It to Beaver and had a small role in the television movie Still the Beaver.
Cartwright also appeared in Robert Kennedy and His Times, Tanner '88 and had a recurring role on L.A. Law. Her big screen features included The Right Stuff, Flight of the Navigator and The Witches of Eastwick. Veronica worked on the stage in "Electra", "Talley's Folly", "Homesteaders", "Butterflies are Free" and "The Triplet Connection". Alternating between television and big screen movies in the 90s, Cartwright has appeared in such films as Hitler's Daughter and Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh.
Tippi Hedren was born Nathalie Kay Hedren in New Ulm, Minnesota, to Dorothea Henrietta (Eckhardt) and Bernard Carl Hedren, who ran a general store. Her father was of Swedish descent and her mother was of German and Norwegian ancestry. Tippi was working as a New York fashion model when she married her first husband, Peter Griffith, in 1952. They had a daughter, Melanie Griffith, on August 9, 1957. After the marriage ended in 1961, Tippi moved to California and was discovered by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. He put her under personal contract and cast her in The Birds. Her performance in the film earned her a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. Her second film was Hitchcock's Marnie, where she played a challenging and difficult role of a frigid, habitual thief opposite Sean Connery. The professional relationship with Hitchcock ended with mutual bitterness and disappointment towards the end of shooting, and that year she married her then-agent, Noel Marshall. Tippi and her husband Marshall collected big cats and other wildlife for the film Roar, which they starred in and produced. The film took 11 years and $17 million to make, but it only made $2 million worldwide. Nevertheless, the film was a turning point in her life; she became actively involved in animal rights, as well as a wide variety of humanitarian and environmental causes. Her marriage to Marshall ended in 1982, and in 1985 she married her third husband, businessman Luis Barrenechea. They divorced in 1995. Tippi has devoted much time and effort to charitable causes: she is a volunteer International Relief Coordinator for "Food for the Hungry". She has traveled worldwide to set up relief programs following earthquakes, hurricanes, famine and war, and has received numerous awards for her efforts, including the "Humanitarian Award" presented to her by the Baha'i Faith. As for animal causes, she is founder and President of "The Roar Foundation". Onscreen, she continues to work frequently in films, theater and TV. She appeared in I Woke Up Early the Day I Died, finally bringing to the big screen the last screenplay written by the late Edward D. Wood Jr. in 1974 (and featuring Wood regulars Maila Nurmi and Conrad Brooks, just about the only surviving members of Wood's stock company). She also enjoyed playing comedic roles, such as an abortion rights activist in Alexander Payne's satire Citizen Ruth and slapping Jude Law in I Heart Huckabees. Tippi's contributions to world cinema have been honored with Life Achievement awards in France at The Beauvais Film Festival Cinemalia 1994; in Spain, by The Fundacion Municipal De Cine in 1995; and at the Riverside International Film Festival in 2007. In 1999, Tippi was honored as "Woman of Vision" by Women in Film and Video in Washington, D.C., and received the Presidential Medal for her work in film from Hofstra University.
A beloved, twinkly blue-eyed doyenne of stage and screen, actress Jessica Tandy's career spanned nearly six and a half decades. In that course of time, she enjoyed an amazing film renaissance at age 80, something unheard of in a town that worships youth and nubile beauty. She was born Jessie Alice Tandy in London in 1909, the daughter of Jessie Helen (Horspool), the head of a school for mentally handicapped children, and Harry Tandy, a traveling salesman. Her parents enrolled her as a teenager at the Ben Greet Academy of Acting where she showed immediate promise. She was 16 when she made her professional bow as Sara Manderson in the play "The Manderson Girls", and was subsequently invited to join the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Within a couple of years, Jessica was making a number of other debuts as well. Her first West End play was in "The Rumour" at the Court Theatre in 1929; her Gotham bow was in "The Matriarch" at the Longacre Theatre in 1930; and her initial film role was as a maid in The Indiscretions of Eve.
Jessica married British actor Jack Hawkins in 1932 after the couple had met performing in the play "Autumn Crocus" the year before. They had one daughter, Susan, before parting ways after eight years of marriage. An unconventional beauty with slightly stern-eyed and sharp, hawkish features, she was passed over for leading lady roles in films, thereby focusing strongly on a transatlantic stage career throughout the 1930s and 1940s. She grew in stature while enacting a succession of Shakespeare's premiere ladies (Titania, Viola, Ophelia, Cordelia). At the same time, she enjoyed personal successes elsewhere in such plays as "French Without Tears", "Honour Thy Father", "Jupiter Laughs", "Anne of England" and "Portrait of a Madonna". And then she gave life to Blanche DuBois.
When Tennessee Williams' masterpiece "A Streetcar Named Desire" opened on Broadway on December 3, 1947, Jessica's name became forever associated with this entrancing Southern belle character. One of the most complex, beautifully drawn, and still sought-after femme parts of all time, she went on to win the coveted Tony award. Aside from introducing Marlon Brando to the general viewing public, "Streetcar" shot Jessica's marquee value up a thousandfold. But not in films.
While her esteemed co-stars Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden were given the luxury of recreating their roles in Elia Kazan's stark, black-and-white cinematic adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, Jessica was devastatingly bypassed. Vivien Leigh, who played the role on stage in London and had already immortalized another coy, manipulative Southern belle on celluloid (Scarlett O'Hara), was a far more marketable film celebrity at the time and was signed on to play the delusional Blanche. To be fair, Leigh was nothing less than astounding in the role and went on to deservedly win the Academy Award (along with Malden and Hunter). Jessica would exact her revenge on Hollywood in later years.
In 1942, she entered into a second marriage with actor/producer/director Hume Cronyn, a 52-year union that produced two children, Christopher and Tandy, the latter an actor in her own right. The couple not only enjoyed great solo success, they relished performing in each other's company. A few of their resounding theatre triumphs included the "The Fourposter" (1951), "Triple Play" (1959), "Big Fish, Little Fish (1962), "Hamlet" (he played Polonius; she played Gertrude) (1963), "The Three Sisters (1963) and "A Delicate Balance." They supported together in films too, their first being The Seventh Cross. In the film The Green Years, Jessica, who was two years older than Cronyn, actually played his daughter! Throughout the 1950s, they built up a sturdy reputation as "America's First Couple of the Theatre."
In 1963, Jessica made an isolated film appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's classic The Birds. Low on the pecking order at the time (pun intended), Hitchcock gave Jessica a noticeable secondary role and Jessica made the most of her brittle scenes as the high-strung, overbearing mother of Rod Taylor who witnesses horror along the California coast. It was not until the 1980s that Jessica (and Hume, to a lesser degree) experienced a mammoth comeback in Hollywood.
Alongside Hume she delighted movie audiences in such enjoyable fare as Honky Tonk Freeway, The World According to Garp, Cocoon and *batteries not included. In 1989, however, octogenarian Jessica was handed the senior citizen role of a lifetime as the prickly Southern Jewish widow who gradually forms a trusting bond with her black chauffeur in the genteel drama Driving Miss Daisy. Jessica was presented with the Oscar, Golden Globe and British Film Awards, among others, for her exceptional work in the film that also won "Best Picture". Deemed Hollywood royalty now, she was handed the cream of the crop in elderly film parts and went on to win another Oscar nomination for Fried Green Tomatoes a couple of years later.
Jessica also enjoyed some of her biggest stage hits ("Streetcar" notwithstanding) during her twilight years, earning two more Tony Awards for her exceptional work in "The Gin Game" (1977) and "Foxfire" (1982). Both co-starred her husband Hume and both were beautifully transferred by the couple to television. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1990, Jessica bravely continued working with Emmy-winning distinction on television. She died of her illness on September 11, 1994. Her last two films, Nobody's Fool and Camilla, were released posthumously.
William Claude Rains, born in the Camberwell area of London, was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains. The younger Rains followed, making his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury." Growing up in the world of theater, he saw not only acting up close but the down-to-earth business end as well, progressing from a page boy to a stage manager during his well-rounded learning experience. Rains decided to come to America in 1913 and the New York theater, but with the outbreak of World War I the next year, he returned to serve with a Scottish regiment in Europe. He remained in England, honing his acting talents, bolstered with instruction patronized by the founder of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Herbert Beerbohm Tree. It was not long before his talent garnered him acknowledgment as one of the leading stage actors on the London scene. His one and only silent film venture was British with a small part for him, the forgettable -- Build Thy House.
In the meantime, Rains was in demand as acting teacher as well, and he taught at the Royal Academy. Young and eager Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud were perhaps his best known students. Rains did return to New York in 1927 to begin what would be nearly 20 Broadway roles. While working for the Theater Guild, he was offered a screen test with Universal Pictures in 1932. Rains had a unique and solid British voice-deep, slightly rasping -- but richly dynamic. And as a man of small stature, the combination was immediately intriguing. Universal was embarking on its new-found role as horror film factory, and they were looking for someone unique for their next outing, The Invisible Man. Rains was the very man. He took the role by the ears, churning up a rasping malice and volume in his voice to achieve a bone chilling persona of the disembodied mad doctor. He could also throw out a high-pitched maniac laugh that would make you leave the lights on before going to bed. True to Universal's formula mentality, it cast him in similar roles through 1934 with some respite in more diverse film roles -- and further relieved by Broadway roles (1933, 1934) for the remainder of his contract. By 1936, he was at Warner Bros. with its ambitious laundry list of literary epics in full swing. His acting was superb, and his eyes could say as much as his voice. And his mouth could take on both a forbidding scowl and the warmest of smiles in an instant. His malicious, gouty Don Luis in Anthony Adverse was inspired. After a shear lucky opportunity to dispatch his young wife's lover, Louis Hayward, in a duel, he triumphs over her in a scene with derisive, bulging eyes and that high pitched laugh -- with appropriate shadow and light backdrop -- that is unforgettable.
He was kept very busy through the remainder of the 1930s with a mix of benign and devious historical, literary, and contemporary characters always adapting a different nuance -- from murmur to growl -- of that voice to become the person. He culminated the decade with his complex, ethics-tortured Senator "Joe" Paine in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. That year he became an American citizen. Into the 1940s, Rains had risen to perhaps unique stature: a supporting actor who had achieved A-list stardom -- almost in a category by himself. His some 40 films during that period ranged from subtle comedy to psychological drama with a bit of horror revisited; many would be golden era classics. He was the firm but thoroughly sympathetic Dr. Jaquith in Now, Voyager and the smoothly sardonic but engaging Capt. Louis Renault -- perhaps his best known role -- in Casablanca. He was the surreptitiously nervous and malignant Alexander Sebastian in Notorious and the egotistical and domineering conductor Alexander Hollenius in Deception. He was the disfigured Phantom of the Opera as well. He played opposite the challenging Bette Davis in three movies through the decade and came out her equal in acting virtuosity. He was nominated four times for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar -- but incredibly never won. With the 1950s the few movies left to an older Rains were countered by venturing into new acting territory -- television. His haunted, suicidal writer Paul DeLambre in the mountaineering adventure The White Tower, though a modest part, was perhaps the most vigorously memorable film role of his last years. He made a triumphant Broadway return in 1951's "Darkness at Noon."
Rains embraced the innovative TV playhouse circuit with nearly 20 roles. As a favored 'Alfred Hitchcock' alumnus, he starred in five Alfred Hitchcock Presents suspense dramas into the 1960s. And he did not shy away from episodic TV either with some memorable roles that still reflected the power of Claude Rains as consummate actor -- for many, first among peers with that hallowed title.
Tara Summers is a British actress best known for her role as Katie Lloyd on David E. Kelley's hugely successful series Boston Legal. She has done numerous arcs on other critically acclaimed shows such as Damages, Ringer, and Sons of Anarchy, in addition to being a series regular on Fox's Rake. Her past film and television credits include Hitchcock, Private Practice, Factory Girl, Alfie, Dirt and What a Girl Wants. She was most recently seen in a recurring role on the CBS drama Stalker and will next be seen guest starring on FX's You're The Worst. Summers wrote, produced and starred in a one-woman autobiographical show, Gypsy of Chelsea. She performed the play at the Royal Court Theatre (London) where she was a member of the young writers program, Studio 54 (NY) and the Hudson (Los Angeles). Summers recently performed at the Geffen Playhouse where she received rave reviews for her portrayal of Claire Sutton in Jonathan Lynn's acclaimed stage production, Yes, Prime Minister. An alumna of Brown University where she received a B.A. in History, Summers trained at the National Theatre Institute at the Eugene O'Neill in Connecticut and has an M.F.A. in Acting from L.A.M.D.A.
Friedkin's mother was an operating room nurse. His father was a merchant seaman, semi-pro softball player and ultimately sold clothes in a men's discount chain. Ultimately, his father never earned more than $50/week in his whole life and died indigent. Eventually young Will became infatuated with Orson Welles after seeing Citizen Kane. He went to work for WGN TV immediately after graduating from high school where he started making documentaries, one of which won the Golden Gate Award at the 1962 San Francisco film festival. In 1965, he moved to Hollywood and immediately started directing TV shows, including an episode of the The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; Hitchcock infamously chastised him for not wearing a tie.
Norman Lloyd was born Norman Perlmutter in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Sadie (Horowitz), a housewife and singer, and Max Perlmutter, a furniture store manager. His family was Jewish (from Hungary and Russia). He began his acting career in the theater, first "treading the boards" at Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory in New York. Aspiring to work as a classical repertory player, he gradually shed his Brooklyn accent and became a busy stage actor in the 1930s; he next joined the original company of the Orson Welles-John Houseman Mercury Theatre. Lloyd was brought to Hollywood to play a supporting part (albeit the title role) in Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur. Hitchcock, who later used the actor in Spellbound and other films, made him an associate producer and a director on TV's long-running Alfred Hitchcock Presents (then in its third year). In the course of his eight years on the series, Lloyd became a co-producer (with Joan Harrison) and then executive producer. He has since directed for other series (including the prestigious Omnibus) and for the stage, produced TV's Tales of the Unexpected and Journey to the Unknown, and played Dr. Auschlander in TV's acclaimed St. Elsewhere.
This gorgeous Teutonic temptress was one of Hollywood's most captivating imports of the 1960s. Blonde and beautiful, Berlin-born Elke Sommer, with her trademark pouty lips, high cheekbones and sky-high bouffant hairdos, proved irresistible to American audiences, whether adorned in lace or leather, or donning lingerie or lederhosen. She was born in Berlin-Spandau on November 5, 1940 with the unlikely name of Else Schletz-Ho to a Lutheran minister and his wife. The family was forced to evacuate to Erlangen, during World War II in 1942, a small university town in the southern region of Germany. It was here that her parents first introduced her to water colors and her lifelong passion for painting was ignited. Her father's death in 1955, when she was only 14, interrupted her education and she relocated to Great Britain, where she learned English and made ends meet as an au pair. She eventually attended college back in Germany and entertained plans to become a diplomatic translator but, instead, decided to try modeling.
After winning a beauty title ("Miss Viareggio Turistica") while on vacation in Italy, she caught the attention of renowned film actor/director Vittorio De Sica and began performing on screen. Her debut film was in the Italian feature, Men and Noblemen, which starred DeSica and was directed by Giorgio Bianchi. Following a few more Italian pictures, which included her first starring role in Love, the Italian Way, also directed by Bianchi, Elke began making a name for herself in German films, as well, and gradually upgraded her status to European sex symbol. A pin-up favorite, she appeared fetchingly in both dramas and comedies, with such continental features as Daniella by Night, Sweet Ecstasy and her first English-speaking picture, Why Bother to Knock, to her credit.
Hollywood naturally became intrigued and she moved there in the early 1960s to try and tap into the foreign-born market. Her sexy innocence made a vivid impression in the all-star, war-themed drama, The Victors, the Hitchcock-like thriller, The Prize, for which she won a "Best Newcomer" Golden Globe Award, and, especially, A Shot in the Dark, the classic bumbling comedy where she proved a shady and sexy foil to Peter Sellers' Inspector Clousseau. She grew in celebrity, which was certainly helped after showing off her physical assets, posing for spreads in Playboy Magazine. In the meantime, she was appearing opposite the hunkiest of Hollywood actors including Paul Newman, James Garner, Glenn Ford and Stephen Boyd.
Always a diverting attraction in spy intrigue or breezy comedy, she was too often misused and setbacks began to occur when the quality of her films began to deteriorate. The tacky Hollywood entry, The Oscar, the Bob Hope misfire, Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, the tired Dean Martin "Matt Helm" spy spoof, The Wrecking Crew, and her title role in the tasteless Cold War comedy, The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz, starring Hogan's Heroes alumnus, Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer and Leon Askin, proved her undoing.
The multilingual actress, whose career took her to scores of different countries over time and benefited from speaking seven languages fluently, resorted to a number of low-budget features in Europe, including two Italian horror movies directed by Mario Bava that have now gone on to become cult classics: Baron Blood and The Exorcist rip-off, Lisa and the Devil. The latter movie actually was a guilty pleasure. "Lisa" was re-released in 1975 as "The House of Exorcism" and added more footage of a demonic Elke, Linda Blair style, spewing frogs, insects, green pea soup and a slew of cuss words! In England, she good-naturedly appeared in the "comedy" films, Percy, and its equally cheeky sequel, It's Not the Size That Counts, which starred Hywel Bennett (later Leigh Lawson) as the first man to have a penis transplant(!). She also showed up in one of the later "Carry On" farces, entitled Carry on Behind.
Elke fared better on television, where she appeared in the television pilot, Probe, opposite Hugh O'Brian, as well as the well-made 1980s miniseries, Inside the Third Reich, Jenny's War, Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna and Peter the Great. A delightful personality on the talk show circuit, the lovely Elke also made appearances as a cabaret singer and, in time, put out several albums. She found a creative outlet on stage too with such vehicles as "Irma la Douce", "Born Yesterday", "Cactus Flower", "Woman of the Year" and "Same Time, Next Year".
The veteran actress has since focused more time on book writing and painting than she has on acting. Holding her first one-woman art show at the McKenzie Galleries in Beverly Hills in 1965, her artwork bears an exceptionally strong influence to Marc Chagall and she, at one point, hosted a mid-1980s PBS series ("Painting with Elke"), that centered on her artwork, which has now exhibited and sold for more than 40 years. Nevertheless, on occasion, she tackles an acting role, often in her native Germany. Divorced from writer and journalist Joe Hyams, whom she met when he interviewed her for a Hollywood article (he recently died in November 2008), she has been married since 1993 to hotelier Wolf Walther.
A classmate of director Sergio Leone with whom he would form one of the great director/composer partnerships (right up there with Eisenstein & Prokofiev, Hitchcock & Herrmann, Fellini & Rota), Ennio Morricone studied at Rome's Santa Cecilia Conservatory, where he specialized in trumpet. His first film scores were relatively undistinguished, but he was hired by Leone for A Fistful of Dollars on the strength of some of his song arrangements. His score for that film, with its sparse arrangements, unorthodox instrumentation (bells, electric guitars, harmonicas, the distinctive twang of the jew's harp) and memorable tunes, revolutionized the way music would be used in Westerns, and it is hard to think of a post-Morricone Western score that doesn't in some way reflect his influence. Although his name will always be synonymous with the spaghetti Western, Morricone has also contributed to a huge range of other film genres: comedies, dramas, thrillers, horror films, romances, art movies, exploitation movies - making him one of the film world's most versatile artists. He has written nearly 400 film scores, so a brief summary is impossible, but his most memorable work includes the Leone films, Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers , Roland Joffé's The Mission, Brian De Palma's The Untouchables and Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso, plus a rare example of sung opening credits for Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Hawks and the Sparrows.
Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, into a well-to-do Southern family. He was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Whitworth (Willson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster.
Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their aunt and uncle's home at Virginia Beach. And there and at an early age he discovered a passion for story-telling, reciting, and performing acts for his family. Cotten studied acting at the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, D.C. and worked as an advertising agent afterward. But by 1924 tried to enter acting in New York. His money opportunities were limited to shipping clerk, and after a year of attempting stage work, he left with friends, heading for Miami. There he found a variety of jobs: lifeguard, salesman, a stint as entrepreneur -- making and selling 'Tip Top Potato Salad' - but more significantly, drama critic for the Miami Herald. That evidently led to appearance in plays at the Miami Civic Theater. Through a connection at the Miami Herald he managed to land an assistant stage manager job in New York. In 1929 he was engaged for a season at the Copley Theatre in Boston, and there he was able to expand his acting experience, appearing in 30 plays in a wide variety of parts. By 1930 he made his Broadway debut. In 1931 Cotten married Lenore LaMont (usually known as Kipp), a pianist, divorced with a four-year-old daughter.
To augment his income as an actor in the mid-30s, Cotten took on radio shows in addition to his theatre work. At one audition he met an ambitious, budding actor/writer/director/producer with a mission to make his name-Orson Welles. Cotten was 10 years his senior, but the two found a kindred spirit in one another. For Cotten, Welles association would completely redirect his serious acting life. Their early co-acting attempts boded ill for employment in formal acting vehicles. At a rehearsal for CBS radio the two destroyed a scene taking place on a rubber tree plantation. One or the other was supposed to say the line: "Barrels and barrels of pith...." They could not overcome uncontrolled laughter at each attempt. The director berated them as acting like 'school-children' and 'unprofessional', and thereafter both were considered unreliable. Welles's ambition put that quickly behind them when he formed The Mercury Theatre Players. Coming on board were later Hollywood stalwarts: Everett Sloane, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, and Ray Collins. In 1937, Cotten starred in Welles's Mercury productions of "Julius Caesar" and "Shoemaker's Holiday". And he made his film debut in the Welles-directed short Too Much Johnson, a comedy based on William Gillette's 1890 play. The short was occasionally screened before or after Mercury productions, but never received an official release. Cotten returned to Broadway in 1939, starring as C.K. Dexter Haven in the original production of Philip Barry's "The Philadelphia Story". The uproar over Welles's "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast, was rewarded with an impressive contract from RKO Pictures. The two-picture deal promised full creative control for the young director, and Welles brought his Mercury players on-board in feature roles in what he chose to bring to the screen. But after a year, nothing had germinated until Welles met with writer Herman J. Mankiewicz, resulting in the Citizen Kane idea - early 1940. The story of a slightly veiled William Randolph Hearst with Welles as Kane and Cotten, in his Hollywood debut, as his college friend turned confidant and theater critic, Jed Leland, would become film history, but at the time it caused little more than a ripple. Hearst owned the majority of the country's press outlets and so forbade advertisements for the film. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards in 1942 but was largely ignored by the Academy, only winning for Best Screenplay for Welles and Mankiewicz.
The following year Cotten and Welles collaborated again in The Magnificent Ambersons, acclaimed but again ignored at Oscar time, and the next year's Nazi thriller Journey Into Fear. Cotten, along with some Welles ideas, wrote the screenplay. Welles with his notorious overrunning of budgeting was duly dropped by RKO thereafter. Later in 1943 Cotten's exposure and acquaintance with young producer David O. Selznick resulted in a movie contract and the launching of his mainstream and very successful movie career as a romantic leading man. Thereafter he appeared with some of the most leading of Hollywood leading ladies - a favorite being Jennifer Jones, Selznick's wife with the two of them being his most intimate friends. Cotten got the opportunity to play a good range of roles through the 1940s - the darkest being the blue beard-like killer in Alfred Hitchcock thriller Shadow of a Doubt with Teresa Wright. Perhaps the most fun was The Farmer's Daughter with a vivacious Loretta Young. Cotten starred with Jennifer Jones in four films: the wartime domestic drama Since You Went Away, the romantic drama Love Letters, the western Duel in the Sun, and later in the critically acclaimed Portrait of Jennie, from the haunting Robert Nathan book. Cotten is thoroughly convincing as a second-rate, unmotivated artist who finds inspiration from a chance acquaintance budding into love with an incarnation of a girl who died years before. Welles and Cotten did not work again until The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed. For Cotten, the role as the hapless boyhood friend and second-rate novel writer Holly Martins would be a defining moment in a part both comedic and bittersweet, its range making it one of his best performances. Unfortunately, he was again overlooked for an Oscar.
Cotten was kept in relative demand into his mature acting years. Into the 1950s, he reunited with "Shadow Of A Doubt" co star Thereas Wright, to do the memorable bank caper "The Steel Trap"(1952).He co stared with Jean Peters in "Blueprint For A Murder"(1953). For the most part, the movie roles were becoming more B than A. He had a brief role as a member of the Roman Senate, reuniting with lifelong friend Welles in his Othello. There were a few film-noir outings along with the usual fare of the older actor with fewer roles. However, he was much more successful in returning to theater roles in the new television playhouse format. He also did some episodic TV and some series ventures, as with On Trial, which was later called The Joseph Cotten Show. He had a memorable role in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents, "Breakdown", where he was a man in a lone and isolated car accident, trapped and unable to speak. He voices over and shows his great acting skill simply through facial expressions. His one last stint with Welles was uncredited and sort of Jed Leland-revisited as the hokey coroner early in Welles's over-the-top Touch of Evil. Of his association with Welles, Cotten said: "Exasperating, yes. Sometimes eruptive, unreasonable, ferocious, yes. Eloquent, penetrating, exciting, and always - never failingly even at the sacrifice of accuracy and at times his own vanity - witty. Never, never, never dull."
With the passing of his first wife in 1960 Cotten met and married British actress Patricia Medina. The 1960s found him equally busy in TV and film. He made the circuit of the most popular detective and cowboy series of the period. By 1964 he returned to film with the money making old-Hollywood-dame- horror-movie genre hit Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte with other vintage Hollywood legends Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, and Agnes Moorehead. His other films of that decade were of the quick entertainment variety along with some foreign productions, and TV movies. There were also more TV series and guests appearances, especially The Ed Sullivan Show, a popular stop during its long run. In the 1970s Cotten was still in demand-for even more of the curiosity-appeal of the populace for an older star. Along with the new assortment of TV series, he anchored himself at Universal with small parts in forgettable movies, the sluggish Universal epic dud Tora! Tora! Tora! for instance, and the steady diet of TV series being cranked out there. Though older actors have laughed in public about their descent into cheap horror movies, one can only wonder at the impetus to do them -- by such greats, as Claude Rains -- besides a can't-pass-up alluring salary.
Cotten did the campy The Abominable Dr. Phibes with Vincent Price and about that time two second rate Italian horror outings where he was Baron Blood and Baron Frankenstein. Then again there was better exposure in the Universal minor sci-fi classic Soylent Green. And in yet another Universal sequel, where the profit-logic was to gather a cast of veterans from the Hollywood spectrum in any situation spelling disaster and watch the ticket sales skyrocket, Cotten joined the all-star cast of Airport '77. He rounded out the decade with the ever faddish Fantasy Island and more Universal TV rounds. This contributor met and worked with Joseph Cotten during this latter evolution of one of Hollywood's greats. He wore his own double-breasted blue blazer and tan slacks in several roles - no need for wardrobe. His pride and joy was a blue 1939 Jaguar SS, something of a fixture on the Universal lot.
Cotten was not ready to turn his back on Hollywood until the beginning of the 1980s when he managed to appear in the epic flop Heaven's Gate. After a Love Boat episode (1981), Cotten joined his wife and his love of gardening and entertaining friends in retirement. He also had the time to write an engaging autobiography Vanity Will Get You Somewhere (1987). Cotten's somewhat matter-of-fact and seemingly gruff acting voice served him well. Certainly his command of varied roles deserved more than the snub of never being nominated for an Academy Award. He was not the only actor to suffer being underrated, but that is largely forgotten in those memorable roles that speak for him. And for what it is worth, the Europeans had the very good sense to award him the Venice Film Festival Award for Best Actor for Portrait of Jennie, one of his favorite roles.
Farley Earle Granger was born in 1925 in San Jose, California, to Eva (Hopkins) and Farley Earle Granger, who owned an automobile dealership. Right out of high school, he was brought to the attention of movie producer Samuel Goldwyn, who cast him in a small role in The North Star. He followed it up with a much bigger part in The Purple Heart and then joined the army. After his release he had to wait until Nicholas Ray cast him in the low-budget RKO classic They Live by Night with Cathy O'Donnell, and then he was recalled by Goldwyn, who signed him to a five-year contract. He then made Rope for Alfred Hitchcock and followed up for Goldwyn with Enchantment with David Niven, Evelyn Keyes and Teresa Wright. Other roles followed, including Roseanna McCoy with Joan Evans, Our Very Own with Ann Blyth and Side Street, again with Cathy O'Donnell. He returned to Hitchcock for the best role of his career, as the socialite tennis champ embroiled in a murder plot by psychotic Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train. He then appeared in O. Henry's Full House with Jeanne Crain, Hans Christian Andersen with Danny Kaye, The Story of Three Loves with Leslie Caron and Small Town Girl with Jane Powell. He went to Italy to make Senso for Luchino Visconti with Alida Valli, one of his best films. He did a Broadway play in 1955, "The Carefree Tree", and then returned to films in The Naked Street with Anthony Quinn and Anne Bancroft and The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing with Joan Collins and Ray Milland. Over the next ten years Granger worked extensively on television and the stage, mainly in stock, and returned to films in Rogue's Gallery with Dennis Morgan. He then returned to Italy, where he made a series of films, including The Challengers with 'Anne Baxter (I)', The Man Called Noon with Richard Crenna and Arnold with Stella Stevens. More recent films include The Prowler, Death Mask, The Imagemaker and The Next Big Thing. Since the 1950s he has continued to work frequently on American television and, in 1980, returned to Broadway and appeared in Ira Levin's successful play "Deathtrap". In 2007 he published his autobiography, "Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway" with Robert Calhoun. A longtime resident of New York, Granger has recently appeared in several documentaries discussing Hollywood and, often, specifically Alfred Hitchcock.
A disarming character lady quite capable of scene-stealing, Mildred Natwick was a well-rounded talent with distinctively dowdy features and idiosyncratic tendencies who, over a six-decade period, assembled together a number of unforgettable matrons on stage and (eventually) film and TV. Whimsical, feisty, loony, stern, impish, shrewish, quizzical, scheming -- she greatly enhanced both comedies and dramas and, thankfully, her off-centered greatness was captured perfectly on occasion by such film directors as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Neil Simon.
A short, plumpish, oval-eyed figure with a unique flowery, honey-glazed voice, Natwick was born on June 19, 1905 (some sources list 1908) to Joseph (a businessman) and and Mildred Marion Dawes Natwick. The Baltimore native graduated from both the Bryn Mawr School (in Baltimore) and also from Bennett College in Dutchess County, N.Y., where she majored in drama. Breaking into the professional field touring on stage, Miss Natwick joined the Vagabonds in the late 1920s, a non-professional group from Baltimore. She later became part of the renowned University Players at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, whose rising performers at the time included Henry Fonda, Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart.
Natwick made her Broadway bow in the 1932 melodrama "Carry Nation," directed by Blanche Yurka with Esther Dale in the title role. In the cast was Joshua Logan, whom she befriended and later corroborated with when he turned director. She then continued her momentum on 1930s Broadway with "Amourette" (1933), "Spring in Autumn" (1933), "The Wind and the Rain" (1934), "The Distaff Side" (1934) "End of Summer" (1936), "Love from a Stranger" (1936), "The Star-Wagon" (1937), "Missouri Legend" (1938), "Stars in Your Eyes" (1939) (directed by Logan), and "Christmas Eve" (1939).
Natwick did not come to films until middle age (35) with the John Ford classic The Long Voyage Home, in which she played a Cockney floozie. Despite her fine work in this minor part, she did not make another film until her landlady role five years later in The Enchanted Cottage supporting Dorothy McGuire and Robert Young. Not a great beauty by Hollywood standards, Natwick learned quickly in Hollywood that if she were to succeed, it would be as a character performer. Ford himself picked up on her versatility and used her repeatedly in several of his post-war classics -- 3 Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and The Quiet Man.
Never abandoning the theater for long, Natwick excelled as Miss Garnett in George Bernard Shaw's "Candida" and as the buoyant medium in Noël Coward's "Blithe Spirit". As for the big screen, she was sporadically seen in such films as Yolanda and the Thief, The Late George Apley, A Woman's Vengeance, The Kissing Bandit, Cheaper by the Dozen and Against All Flags. Making use of even the tiniest of roles, none of them did much to improve her stature in Hollywood. With her delicious turn, however, in Hitchcock's eccentric black comedy The Trouble with Harry, which starred Shirley MacLaine (in her film debut), John Forsythe, Kris Kringle's Edmund Gwenn, little Jerry Mathers (of "Leave It to Beaver"), and another famous Mildred, Mildred Dunnock, Natwick enjoyed one of her best roles ever on film. This was followed by her scheming and furtive sorceress in the Danny Kaye vehicle The Court Jester in which she, Kaye and Glynis Johns participate in the memorable tongue-twisting "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle..." comedy routine. This, in turn, led to a couple of more, albeit lesser, films, including Teenage Rebel and Tammy and the Bachelor.
Preferring the theatre to movies, MIldred received her first Tony nomination for her sharp, astute work in Jean Anouilh's "Waltz of the Toredors" in 1957 and recreated her character in a TV special. She seemed to move effortlessly from the classics ("Medea," "Coriolanus") to chic comedy ("Ladies in Retirement," "The Importance of Being Earnest"). Receiving great applause as the beleaguered, overly-winded mother in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" on Broadway in 1963, she transferred the role to film four years later. The cinematic Barefoot in the Park earned Mildred a well-deserved Oscar nomination for "best supporting actress". She switched things up again with Harold Pinter's theatrical "Landscape," and then again in 1971 when she made her debut in a singing role in the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical, "70, Girls, 70" (1971) in which she earned a second Tony nomination. Her last Broadway show came as a replacement in "Bedroom Farce" in 1979.
With only the slightest of gesture, look or tone of voice, Mildred's characters could speak volumes and she became an essential character player during the 1970s as an offbeat friend, relative or elderly on TV and film. She was awarded the Emmy for her playing of one of The Snoop Sisters_ alongside the equally delightful Helen Hayes in the short-lived TV series. Both played impish Jessica Fletcher-type mystery writers who solve real crimes on the sly. She also played Rock Hudson's quirky mother in McMillan & Wife and a notable dying grandmother in a guest appearance of the critically-lauded TV series drama Family. Her final film came with a small regal role as Madame de Rosemonde in Dangerous Liaisons with Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Never married, Mildred was called "Milly" by close friends and family and was the first cousin of Myron 'Grim' Natwick, the creator of Betty Boop for the Max Fleischer cartoon studio and prime animator for Disney's Snow White character. She died of cancer at age 89 in New York City.
Martin Henry Balsam was born on November 4, 1919 in the Bronx, New York City, to Lillian (Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, a manufacturer of women's sportswear. He was the first-born child. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, and his mother was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents. Martin caught the acting bug in high school where he participated in the drama club. After high school, he continued his interest in acting by attending Manhattan's progressive New School. When World War II broke out, Martin was called to service in his early twenties. After the war, he was lucky to secure a position as an usher at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. By 1947, he was honing his craft at the Actors Studio, run at that time by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg. His time at the Actors Studio in New York City allowed him training in the famous Stanislavsky method. Despite his excellent training, he had to prove himself, just like any up and coming young actor. He began on Broadway in the late 1940s. But, it was not until 1951 that he experienced real success. That play was Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo". After his Broadway success, he had a few minor television roles before his big break arrived when he joined the cast of On the Waterfront. In the 1950s, Martin had many television roles. He had recurring roles on some of the most popular television series of that time, including The United States Steel Hour, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Goodyear Playhouse and Studio One in Hollywood. In 1957, he was able to prove himself on the big-screen once again, with a prominent role in 12 Angry Men, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Henry Fonda. All of Martin's television work in the 1950s did not go to waste. While starring on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hitchcock was so impressed by his work, that he offered him a key supporting role of Detective Milton Arbogast in Psycho. His work with Hitchcock opened him up to a world of other acting opportunities. Many strong movie roles came his way in the 1960s, including parts in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Cape Fear and The Carpetbaggers. One of the proudest moments in his life was when he received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for A Thousand Clowns. It was soon after that he began accepting roles in European movies. He soon developed a love for Italy, and lived there most of his remaining years. He acted in over a dozen Italian movies and spent his later life traveling between Hollywood and Europe for his many roles. After a career that spanned more than fifty years, Martin Balsam died of natural causes in his beloved Italy at age 76. He passed away of a heart attack at a hotel in Rome called Residenza di Repetta. He was survived by his third wife Irene Miller and three children, Adam, Zoe and Talia.
William Wyler was an American filmmaker who, at the time of his death in 1981, was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema. The winner of three Best Director Academy Awards, second again only to Ford's four, Wyler's reputation has unfairly suffered as the lack of an obvious "signature" in his diverse body of work denies him the honorific "auteur" that has become a standard measure of greatness in the post-"Cahiers du Cinema" critical community. Estimable, but inferior, directors typically are praised more than is Wyler, due to an obviousness of style that makes it easy to encapsulate their work. However, no American director after D.W. Griffith and the early Cecil B. DeMille, not even the great Orson Welles, did as much to fully develop the basic canon of filmmaking technique than did Wyler -- once again, with the caveat of John Ford.
Wyler's directorial career spanned 45 years, from silent pictures to the cultural revolution of the 1970s. Nominated a record 12 times for an Academy Award as Best Director, he won three and in 1966, was honored with the Irving Thalberg Award, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' ultimate accolade for a producer. So high was his reputation in his lifetime that he was the fourth recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, after Ford, James Cagney and Welles. Along with Ford and Welles, Wyler ranks with the best and most influential American directors, including Griffith, DeMille, Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg.
Born Willi Wyler on July 1, 1902, in Mulhouse in the province of Alsace, then a possession of Germany, to a Swiss father and a German mother, Wyler used his family connections to establish himself in the film industry. Upon being offered a job by his mother's first cousin, Universal Studios head Carl Laemmle, Wyler emigrated to the US in 1920 at the age of 18. After starting in Universal's New York offices as an errand boy, he moved his way up through the organization, ending up in the California operation in 1922.
Wyler was given the opportunity to direct in July 1925, with the two-reel western The Crook Buster. It was on this film that he was first credited as William Wyler, though he never officially changed his name and would be known as "Willi" all his life. For almost five years he performed his apprenticeship in Universal's "B" unit, turning out a score of low-budget silent westerns. In 1929 he made his first "A" picture, Hell's Heroes, Universal's first all-sound movie shot outside a studio. The western, the first version of the "Three Godfathers" story, was a commercial and critical success.
The initial years of the Great Depression brought hard times for the film industry, and Universal went into receivership in 1932, partially due to financial troubles brought about by rampant nepotism and the runaway production costs rung up by producer Carl Laemmle Jr., the son of the boss. There were 70 Laemmle family members on the Universal payroll at one point, including Wyler. In 1935 "Uncle" Carl was forced to sell the studio he had created in 1912 with the 1912 merger of his Independent Motion Picture Co. with several other production companies. Wyler continued to direct for Universal up until the end of the family regime, helming Counsellor at Law, the film version of Elmer Rice's play featuring one of John Barrymore's more restrained performances, and The Good Fairy, a comedy adapted from a Ferenc Molnár play by Preston Sturges and starring Margaret Sullavan, who was Wyler's wife for a short time. Both films were produced by his cousin, "Junior" Laemmle. Emancipated from the Laemmle family, Wyler subsequently established himself as a major director in the mid-1930s, when he began directing films for independent producer Samuel Goldwyn. Willi would soon find his freedom fettered by the man with the fabled "Goldwyn touch," which entailed bullying his directors to recast, rewrite and recut their films, and sometimes replacing them during shooting.
The first of the Wyler-Goldwyn works was These Three, based on Lillian Hellman's lesbian-themed play "The Children's Hour" (the Sapphic theme was jettisoned in favor of a more conventional heterosexual triangle due to censorship concerns, but it resurfaced intact when Wyler remade the film a quarter-century later). His first unqualified success for Goldwyn was Dodsworth, an adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' portrait of a disintegrating American marriage, a marvelous film that still resonates with audiences in the 21st century. He received his first Best Director Oscar nomination for this picture. The film was nominated for Best Picture, the first of seven straight years in which a Wyler-directed movie would earn that accolade, culminating with Oscars for both Willi and Mrs. Miniver in 1942.
Wyler's potential greatness can be seen as early as "Hell's Heroes," an early talkie that is not constrained by the restrictions of the new technology. The climax of the picture, with Charles Bickford's dying badman walking into town, is a long tracking shot that focuses not on the actor himself but the detritus that he shucks off to lighten his load as he brings a baby back to a cradle of civilization. The scene is a harbinger of the free-flowing style that would become a hallmark of his work. However, it was with "Dodsworth" that Wyler began to establish his critical reputation. The film features long takes and a probing camera, a style that Wyler would make his own.
Now established as Goldwyn's director of choice, Wyler made several films for him, including Dead End and Wuthering Heights. Essentially an employee of the producer, Wyler clashed with Goldwyn over aesthetic choices and longed for his freedom. Goldwyn had demanded that the ghetto set of "Dead End" be spruced up and that "clean garbage" be used in the water tank representing the East River, over Wyler's objections. Goldwyn prevailed, as he did later with the ending of "Wuthering Heights." After Wyler had finished principal photography on the film, Goldwyn demanded a new ending featuring the ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy reunited and walking away towards what the audience would assume is heaven and an eternity of conjoined bliss. Wyler opposed the new ending and refused to shoot it. Goldwyn had his ending shot without Wyler and had it tacked onto the final cut. It was an artistic betrayal that rankled Willi.
Goldwyn loaned out Wyler to other studios, and he made Jezebel and The Letter for Warner Bros. Working with Bette Davis in the two masterpieces, as well as in Goldwyn's The Little Foxes, Wyler elicited three of the great diva's finest performances. In these films and his films of the mid-to-late 1930s, Wyler pioneered the use of deep-focus cinematography, most famously with lighting cameraman Gregg Toland. Toland shot seven of the eight films Wyler directed for Goldwyn: "These Three", Come and Get It, "Dead End," "Wuthering Heights" (for which Toland won his only Academy Award), The Westerner, "The Little Foxes" and The Best Years of Our Lives. Compositions in Wyler pictures frequently featured multiple horizontal planes with various characters arranged in diagonals at varying distances from the camera lens. Creating an illusion of depth, these deep-focus shots enhanced the naturalism of the picture while heightening the drama.
As the photography of Wyler's films was used to serve the story and create mood rather than call attention to itself, Toland was later mistakenly given credit for creating deep-focus cinematography along with another great director, Orson Welles, in Citizen Kane. In truth, Wyler's first use of deep-focus cinematography was in 1935, with "The Good Fairy," on which Norbert Brodine was the lighting cameraman. It was the first of his films featuring deep-focus shots and the diagonal compositions that became a Wyler leitmotif. The film also includes a receding mirror shot a half-decade before Toland and Welles created a similar one for "Citizen Kane."
Wyler won his first Oscar as Best Director with "Mrs. Miniver" for MGM, which also won the Oscar for Best Picture, the first of three Wyler films that would be so honored. Made as a propaganda piece for American audiences to prepare them for the sacrifices necessitated by World War II, the movie is set in wartime England and elucidates the hardships suffered by an ordinary, middle-class English family coping with the war. An enthusiastic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after seeing the film at a White House screening, said, "This has to be shown right away." The film also won Oscars for star Greer Garson and co-star Theresa Wright, for cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg and for Best Screenplay.
After "Miniver," Wyler went off to war as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps. One of his more memorable propaganda films of the period was a documentary about a B-17 bomber, The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, He also directed the Navy documentary The Fighting Lady, an examination of life aboard an American aircraft carrier. Though the later film won an Oscar as Best Documentary, "The Memphis Belle" is considered a classic of its form. The making of the documentary was even the subject of a 1990 feature film of the same name. "The Memphis Belle" focuses on the eponymous B-17 bomber and its 25th, and last, air raid flown from a base in England. The documentary features aerial battle footage that Wyler and his crew shot over the skies of Germany. One of his photographic crew, flying in another plane, was killed during the filming of the air battles. Wyler himself lost the hearing in one ear and became partially deaf in the other due to the noise and concussion of the flak bursting around his aircraft.
Wyler's first picture upon returning from World War II would prove to be the last movie he made for Goldwyn. A returning veteran like those portrayed in "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), this film won Wyler his second Oscar. The movie, which featured a moving performance by real-life veteran and double amputee Harold Russell, struck a universal chord with Americans and was a major box office hit. It was the second Wyler-directed picture to be named Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film also won Oscars for star Fredric March and co-star Russell (who was also given an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans"), film editor Daniel Mandell, composer Hugo Friedhofer and screenwriter Robert E. Sherwood, and was instrumental in garnering the Irving Thalberg Award for Samuel Goldwyn, who also took home the Best Picture Oscar that year as "Best Years" producer.
Though Wyler elicited some of the finest performances preserved on film, ironically he could not communicate what he wanted to an actor. A perfectionist, he became known as "40-Take Wyler", shooting a scene over and over again until the actors played it the way he wanted. With his use of long takes, actors were forced to act within each take as their performances would not be covered in the cutting room. His long takes and lack of cutting slowed down the pacing of his films, providing a greater feeling of continuity within each scene and intimately involving the audience in the development of the drama. The story in a Wyler film was allowed to unfold organically, with no tricky editing to cover up holes in the script or to compensate for an inadequate performance. Wyler typically rehearsed his actors for two weeks before the beginning of principal photography.
While more actors won Academy Awards in Wyler movies, 14 out of a total of 36 nominations (more than any other two directors combined), few actors worked more than once or twice with him. Bette Davis worked on three films with him and won Academy Award nominations for each performance and an Oscar for "Jezebel." On their last collaboration, "The Little Foxes" (1941), Davis walked off the production for two weeks after clashing with Wyler over how her character should be played.
He proved hard on other experienced actors, such as Laurence Olivier in "Wuthering Heights," who gave credit to Willi for turning him from a stage actor into a movie actor. "This isn't the Opera House in Manchester," Wyler told Olivier, his way of conveying that he should tone down his performance. A year earlier, Wyler had forced Henry Fonda through 40 takes on the set of "Jezebel," Wyler's only direction being "Again" after each repeated take. When Fonda demanded some input on what he was doing wrong, Wyler replied only: "It stinks. Do it again." According to Charlton Heston, Wyler approached him early in the shooting of Ben-Hur and told him that his performance was inadequate. When a dismayed Heston asked him what he should do, "Be better" is all that Wyler could supply. In his autobiography, Elia Kazan, a famed "actor's director", tells how he offered advice to an actor acquaintance of his who was making a Wyler picture as he knew that the great director was inarticulate about acting and would be unable to give advice.
Wyler believed that after many takes, actors got angry and began to shed their preconceived ideas about acting in general and the part in particular. Stripped of these notions, actors were able to play at a truer level. It is a process that Stanley Kubrick would subsequently use on his post-2001: A Space Odyssey films, though to different results, creating an otherworldly anti-realism rather than the more naturalistic truth of a Wyler movie performance. Wyler's method often meant that his films went over schedule and over budget, but he got results. The performances in Wyler films are part of this craftsman's consummate skill for injecting thoughtfulness into his movies while avoiding sentimentality and pandering to the audience. A Wyler film demands that his audience, like his actors, become intelligent collaborators of his.
William Wyler's reputation has suffered as he is not considered an "auteur," or "author" of his films. However, in his postwar career, he definitely was the auteur, or controlling consciousness, behind his films. Though he never took a screenwriting credit (other than for an early horse opera, Ridin' for Love), he selected his own stories and controlled the screenwriting, hiring his own writers in a development process that could take years.
Wyler films in his postwar period include The Heiress, a fine version of Henry James' novel "Washington Square," with an Oscar-winning performance by Olivia de Havilland; Detective Story, a police drama that takes place on a minimal, controlled set almost as restricted as that of Hitchcock's Rope; and Roman Holiday, which won Audrey Hepburn an Oscar in her first leading role. The other films of this period are Carrie, The Desperate Hours and Friendly Persuasion.
Wyler returned to the western genre one last time with The Big Country, a picture far removed in scope from his two-reeler origins, featuring Gregory Peck, Heston, and Wyler's old "Hell's Heroes" star Bickford. Burl Ives won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the patriarch of an outlaw clan in conflict with Bickford's family. Wyler was next enlisted by producer Sam Zimbalist to helm MGM's high-stakes "Ben-Hur" (1959), a remake of its 1925 classic. It was a high-budget ($15 million, approximately $90 million when factored for inflation), wide-screen (the aspect ratio of the film is 2.76 to 1 when properly shown in 70mm anamorphic prints, the highest ratio ever used for a film) epic that the studio had spent six years preparing. Principal photography required more than six months of shooting on location in Italy, with hundreds of crew members and thousands of extras. Wyler was the overlord of the largest crew and oversaw more extras than any other film had ever used. Despite its size, Wyler's "Ben-Hur," along with Kubrick's Spartacus, is arguably the most intelligent entry in the Biblical blockbuster genre. Grossing $74 million (approximately $600 million at today's ticket prices, ranking it #13 film in terms of all-time box office performance, when adjusted for inflation), the film was the fourth highest-grossing film of all-time when it was released, surpassed only by Gone with the Wind, DeMille's The Ten Commandments, and Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. "Ben-Hur" went on to win 11 Oscars out of 12 nominations, including a third Best Director Academy Award for Willi. The 11 Oscars set a record since tied by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
In the last decade of his career, he remade "These Three" as The Children's Hour, a franker version of Hellman's play than his 1936 version. The Collector was his last artistic triumph, and he had his last hit with Funny Girl, for which Barbra Streisand repeated Audrey Hepburn's success of 15 years earlier, wining an Oscar in her first lead role. Wyler's last film was The Liberation of L.B. Jones, an estimable failure that tackled the theme of racial prejudice, but which came out in the revolutionary time of Easy Rider and other such films, and held little promise for such traditional warhorses as Wyler.
Though he dreamed of making more pictures, Wyler's failing health kept him from taking on another film. Instead, he and his wife Margaret Tallichet, the mother of his five children, contented themselves with travel. William Wyler died on July 27, 1981, in Beverly Hills, California, one of the most accomplished and honored filmmakers in history.
Robert Donat's pleasant voice and somewhat neutral English accent were carefully honed as a boy because he had a stammer and took elocution lessons starting at age 11 to overcome the impediment. It was not too surprising that freedom from such a vocal embarrassment was encouragement to act. His other handicap, acute asthma, did not deter him. At the age of 16 he began performing Shakespeare and other classic roles in a number of repertory and touring companies throughout Britain. In 1924 he joined Sir Frank Benson's repertory company, and later he was with the Liverpool Repertory Theater.
His work was finally noticed by Alexander Korda, who gave him a three-year film contract. Three minor films were followed by his role as Katherine Howard's lover, Thomas Culpepper, in the hit The Private Life of Henry VIII.. Donat's style of acting, whether comic or dramatic, was usually reserved, with the subtleties of face and voice being his talents to complement the role. A top draw in Britain, he went to Hollywood for The Count of Monte Cristo, but he did not care for the Hollywood scene--the fishbowl lifestyle of the movie star. "Cristo" gave him the opportunity for Captain Blood, but he eventually declined. (With a nod to hindsight, it is hard to think of anyone but a fresh-faced Flynn doing the role.) Although he would have contracts with MGM, Warner Bros. and RKO through the remainder of the 1930s, he begged off many a film role or broke commitments, ostensibly because of health problems, though, along with being finicky about roles, he was also such a conscientious actor that lack of confidence sometimes stymied his forward progress.
Hollywood usually had to shoot in England if it wanted him badly enough. And that was not a problem after the box office reception given The 39 Steps, the big hit for Alfred Hitchcock. There was a hint of whimsy in Donat's face that worked especially well with the sophisticated comedic elements that crept into several of his dramatic roles. His portrayal of individualist Canadian Richard Hannay--which registered with North Americans both above and below the 49th parallel--in "Steps" was the first of such popular characters. Some of Hitch's famous on-the-set practical jokes ensued on the first day of shooting "Steps." The first scene was the escape on the moors from the master spy's henchmen by Donat and Madeleine Carroll handcuffed together. Donat and Carroll had not met before this, and Hitchcock handcuffed them together hours before filming so that they could get very well acquainted. He insisted he had misplaced the key when in fact he had slipped it to a studio security officer for safekeeping.
Hitchcock attempted to land Donat for three other roles, Sabotage and Secret Agent and Rebecca, but illness, commitments, and more illness, respectively, supposedly kept Donat from accepting each. Hollywood would be treated in kind, for Donat was more dedicated to stage work. Hollywood did get him for The Citadel, for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. He won the Oscar the next year for perhaps his best known role in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) (MGM's with Greer Garson). Since 1939 was one of the most competitive film years in Hollywood history, Donat's reward for his mild Mr. Chipping was something of a stunner. This was the year of Gone with the Wind, and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler seemed a shoo-in for best actor. But there is something of a myth that since both pictures were from MGM and "Wind" had so many nominations (including best actor, actress, and picture), MGM head and strongman Louis B. Mayer used his weight to spread the wealth toward "Chips".
Unlike other British actors who came to work in America during World War II, Donat stayed in Britain. He did mostly theater but also some British films--only four--with one for Korda and one for Carol Reed. Only six more films were allotted Donat after the war and into the 1950s, all but one British productions. He starred, directed and co-wrote The Cure for Love and starred in The Magic Box, a well-crafted and delightful (if a bit fictionalized) salute to the history of the British film industry. By 1955, all of Donat's acting efforts required a bottle of oxygen kept off stage and at the ready as his health continued to turn toward the worse. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, a Twentieth Century Fox production shot in the UK, was Donat's final film. His fragility was poignantly obvious on screen, and he died shortly after the film was finished. He received a posthumous Special Citation from the USA National Board of Review and was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe. It was a career for Robert Donat that should have gone on, yet it was filled with many notable screen memories just the same.
Royal Dano was undoubtedly one of the best, most quirky and striking character actors to ever grace the big and small screen alike in a lengthy and impressive career which spanned 42 years.
Royal Edward Dano was born on November 16, 1922 in New York City, to Mary Josephine (O'Connor) and Caleb Edward Dano, a newspaper printer. He was of mostly Irish descent (his mother was an immigrant). Royal ran away from home at age twelve and lived in such states as Texas, Florida and California. He struck a deal with his father to continue his education, but still be able to travel around the country. Dano eventually attended New York University. His performing career began as part of the 44th Special Service Provisional Company during World War II. Dano soon branched out to the New York stage and made his Broadway debut with a small role in the hit musical "Finian's Rainbow." He was nominated by the New York Critic's Circle as one of the Promising Actors of 1949. Tall and lean, with a gaunt face, dark hair, a rangy build, and a very distinctive deep croaky voice, Dano was usually cast in both movies and TV shows as gloomy and/or sinister characters. He appeared most often in westerns and worked several times with James Stewart and director Anthony Mann. He made his film debut in "Undercover Girl." Dano's more memorable roles include the Tattered Soldier in "The Red Badge of Courage," a sickly bookworm bad guy in "Johnny Guitar," Elijah in "Moby Dick," Peter in "King of Kings," a cattle rustler in "The Culpepper Cattle Company," a coroner in "Electra Glide in Blue," a profanity-spewing preacher in "Big Bad Mama," Ten Spot in "The Outlaw Josey Wales," a weary factory line worker in "Take This Job and Shove It," a lightening rod salesman in "Something Wicked This Way Comes," a minister in "The Right Stuff," a stuffy high school teacher in "Teachers," rascally zombified old-timer Gramps in "House II: The Second Story," a cantankerous farmer in "Killer Klowns from Outer Space," and, in his last part, a cemetery caretaker in George Romero's "The Dark Half." Among the numerous TV shows Dano did guest spots on are "Twin Peaks," "Amazing Stories," "CHiPs," "Quincy M.E.," "Fantasy Island," "Little House on the Prairie," "Kung Fu," "Ben Casey," "Planet of the Apes," "Cannon," "Playhouse 90," "Lost in Space," "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza," "Wagon Train," "The Virginian," "Hawaii Five-O," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Wanted; Dead or Alive," "Night Gallery," "Route 66," "The Rifleman," and "Rawhide." Moreover, Dano did the voice of the audioanimatronic Abraham Lincoln for Walt Disney's Hall of Presidents for both Disneyland and Disney World. Dano also portrayed Lincoln on the "Omnibus" television series. He's the father of actor Richard Dano. Royal Dano died at age 71 of a heart attack on May 15th, 1994.
What do the classic films Scarface, Twentieth Century, Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, Sergeant York, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Red River Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Rio Bravo have in common? Aside from their displays of great craftsmanship, the answer is director Howard Hawks, one of the most celebrated of American filmmakers, who ironically, was little celebrated by his peers in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during his career.
Although John Ford--his friend, contemporary and the director arguably closest to him in terms of his talent and output--told him that it was he, and not Ford, who should have won the 1941 Best Director Academy Award (for Sergeant York), the great Hawks never won an Oscar in competition and was nominated for Best Director only that one time, despite making some of the best films in the Hollywood canon. The Academy eventually made up for the oversight in 1974 by voting him an honorary Academy Award, in the midst of a two-decade-long critical revival that has gone on for yet another two decades. To many cineastes, Hawks is one of the faces of American film and would be carved on any film pantheon's Mt. Rushmore honoring America's greatest directors, beside his friend Ford and Orson Welles (the other great director who Ford beat out for the 1941 Oscar). It took the French "Cahiers du Cinema" critics to teach America to appreciate one of its own masters, and it was to the Academy's credit that it recognized the great Hawks in his lifetime.
Hawks' career spanned the freewheeling days of the original independents in the 1910s, through the studio system in Hollywood from the silent era through the talkies, lasting into the early 1970s with the death of the studios and the emergence of the director as auteur, the latter a phenomenon that Hawks himself directly influenced. He was the most versatile of American directors, and before his late career critical revival he earned himself a reputation as a first-rate craftsman and consummate Hollywood professional who just happened, in a medium that is an industrial process, to have made some great movies. Recognition as an influential artist would come later, but it would come to him before his death.
He was born Howard Winchester Hawks in Goshen, Indiana, on Decoration Day, May 30, 1896, the first child of Frank Winchester Hawks and his wife, the former Helen Howard. The day of his birth the local sheriff killed a brawler at the town saloon; the young Hawks was not born on the wild side of town, though, but with the proverbial silver spoon firmly clenched in his young mouth. His wealthy father was a member of Goshen's most prominent family, owners of the Goshen Milling Co. and many other businesses, and his maternal grandfather was one of Wisconsin's leading industrialists. His father's family had arrived in America in 1630, while his mother's father, C.W. Howard, who was born in Maine in 1845 to parents who emigrated to the U.S. from the Isle of Man, made his fortune in the paper industry with his Howard Paper Co.
Ironically, almost a half-year after Howard's birth, the first motion picture was shown in Goshen, just before Christmas on December 10, 1896. Billed as "the scientific wonder of the world," the movie played to a sold-out crowd at the Irwin Theater. However, it disappointed the audience, and attendance fell off at subsequent showings. The interest of the boy raised a Presbyterian would not be piqued again until his family moved to southern California.
Before that move came to pass, though, the Hawks family relocated from Goshen to Neenah, Wisconsin, when Howard's father was appointed secretary/treasurer of the Howard Paper Co. in 1898. Howard grew up a coddled and spoiled child in Goshen, but in Neenah he was treated like a young prince. His grandfather C.W. lavished his grandson with expensive toys. C.W. had been an indulgent father, encouraging the independence and adventurousness of his two daughters, Helen and Bernice, who were the first girls in Neenah to drive automobiles. Bernice even went for an airplane ride (the two sisters, Hawks' mother and aunt, likely were the first models for what became known as "the Hawksian women" when he became a director). Brother Kenneth Hawks was born in 1898, and was looked after by young Howard. However, Howard resented the birth of the family's next son, William B. Hawks, in 1902, and offered to sell him to a family friend for ten cents. A sister, Grace, followed William. Childbirth took a heavy toll on Howard's mother, and she never quite recovered after delivering her fifth child, Helen, in 1906. In order to aid her recovery, the family moved to the more salubrious climate of Pasadena, California, northeast of Los Angeles, for the winter of 1906-07. The family returned to Wisconsin for the summers, but by 1910 they permanently resettled in California, as grandfather C.W. himself took to wintering in Pasadena. He eventually sold his paper company and retired. He continued to indulge his grandson Howard, though, buying him whatever he fancied, including a race car when the lad was barely old enough to drive legally. C.W. also arranged for Howard to take flying lessons so he could qualify for a pilot's license, an example followed by Kenneth.
The young Howard Hawks grew accustomed to getting what he wanted and believed his grandfather when C.W. told him he was the best and that he could do anything. Howard also likely inherited C.W.'s propensity for telling whopping lies with a straight face, a trait that has bedeviled many film historians ever since. C.W. also was involved in amateur theatrics and Howard's mother Helen was interested in music, though no one in the Hawks-Howard family ever was involved in the arts until Howard went to work in the film industry.
Hawks was sent to Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, for his education, and upon graduation attended Cornell University, where he majored in mechanical engineering. In both his personal and professional lives Hawks was a risk-taker and enjoyed racing airplanes and automobiles, two sports that he first indulged in his teens with his grandfather's blessing.
The Los Angeles area quickly evolved into the center of the American film industry when studios began relocating their production facilities from the New York City area to southern California in the middle of the 1910s. During one summer vacation while Howard was matriculating at Cornell, a friend got him a job as a prop man at Famous Players-Lasky (later to become Paramount Pictures), and he quickly rose trough the ranks. Hawks recalled, "It all started with Douglas Fairbanks, who was off on location for some picture and phoned in to say they wanted a modern set. There was only one art director . . . and he was away on another location. I said, 'Well, I can build a modern set.' I'd had a few years of architectural training at school. So I did, and Fairbanks was pleased with it. We became friends, and that was really the start."
During other summer vacations from Cornell, Hawks continued to work in the movies. One story Hawks tells is that the director of a Mary Pickford film Hawks was working on, The Little Princess, became too inebriated to continue working, so Hawks volunteered to direct a few scenes himself. However, it's not known whether his offer was taken up, or whether this was just one more of his tall tales.
During World War I Hawks served as a lieutenant in the Signal Corps and later joined the Army Air Corps, serving in France. After the Armistice he indulged in his love of risk, working as an aviator and a professional racing car driver. Drawing on his engineering experience, Hawks designed racing cars, and one of his cars won the Indianapolis 500. These early war and work experiences proved invaluable to the future filmmaker.
He eventually decided on a career in Hollywood and was employed in a variety of production jobs, including assistant director, casting director, script supervisor, editor and producer. He and his brother Kenneth shot aerial footage for motion pictures, but Kenneth tragically was killed during a crash while filming. Howard was hired as a screenwriter by Paramount in 1922 and was tasked with writing 40 story lines for new films in 60 days. He bought the rights for works by such established authors as Joseph Conrad and worked, mostly uncredited, on the scripts for approximately 60 films. Hawks wanted to direct, but Paramount refused to indulge his ambition. A Fox executive did, however, and Hawks directed his first film, The Road to Glory in 1926, also doubling as the screenwriter.
Hawks made a name for himself by directing eight silent films in the 1920s, His facility for language helped him to thrive with the dawn of talking pictures, and he really established himself with his first talkie in 1930, the classic World War I aviation drama The Dawn Patrol. His arrival as a major director, however, was marked by 1932's controversial and highly popular gangster picture Scarface, a thinly disguised bio of Chicago gangster Al Capone, which was made for producer Howard Hughes. His first great movie, it catapulted him into the front rank of directors and remained Hawks' favorite film. Unnder the aegis of the eccentric multi-millionaire Hughes, it was the only movie he ever made in which he did not have to deal with studio meddling. It leavened its ultra-violence with comedy in a potent brew that has often been imitated by other directors.
Though always involved in the development of the scripts of his films, Hawks was lucky to have worked with some of the best writers in the business, including his friend and fellow aviator William Faulkner. Screenwriters he collaborated with on his films included Leigh Brackett, Ben Hecht, John Huston and Billy Wilder. Hawks often recycled story lines from previous films, such as when he jettisoned the shooting script on El Dorado during production and reworked the film-in-progress into a remake of Rio Bravo.
The success of his films was partly rooted in his using first-rate writers. Hawks viewed a good writer as a sort of insurance policy, saying, "I'm such a coward that unless I get a good writer, I don't want to make a picture." Though he won himself a reputation as one of Hollywood's supreme storytellers, he came to the conclusion that the story was not what made a good film. After making and then remaking the confusing The Big Sleep (1945 and 1946) from a Raymond Chandler detective novel, Hawks came to believe that a good film consisted of at least three good scenes and no bad ones--at least not a scene that could irritate and alienate the audience. He said, "As long as you make good scenes you have a good picture--it doesn't matter if it isn't much of a story."
It was Hawks' directorial skills, his ability to ensure that the audience was not aware of the twice-told nature of his films, through his engendering of a high-octane, heady energy that made his films move and made them classics at best and extremely enjoyable entertainments at their "worst." Hawks' genius as a director also manifested itself in his direction of his actors, his molding of their line-readings going a long way toward making his films outstanding. The dialog in his films often was delivered at a staccato pace, and characters' lines frequently overlapped, a Hawks trademark. The spontaneous feeling of his films and the naturalness of the interrelationships between characters were enhanced by his habit of encouraging his actors to improvise. Unlike Alfred Hitchcock, Hawks saw his lead actors as collaborators and encouraged them to be part of the creative process. He had an excellent eye for talent, and was responsible for giving the first major breaks to a roster of stars, including Paul Muni, Carole Lombard (his cousin), Lauren Bacall, Montgomery Clift and James Caan. It was Hawks, and not John Ford, who turned John Wayne into a superstar, with Red River (shot in 1946, but not released until 1948). He proceeded to give Wayne some of his best roles in the cavalry trilogy of Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande, in which Wayne played a broad range of diverse characters.
During the 1930s Hawks moved from hit to hit, becoming one of the most respected directors in the business. As his fame waxed, Hawks' image replaced the older, jodhpurs-and-megaphone image of the Hollywood director epitomized by Cecil B. DeMille. The new paradigm of the Hollywood director in the public eye was, like Hawks himself, tall and silver-haired, a Hemingwayesque man of action who was a thorough professional and did not fail his muse or falter in his mastery of the medium while on the job. The image of Hawks as the ultimate Hollywood professional persists to this day in Hollywood, and he continues to be a major influence on many of today's filmmakers. Among the directors influenced by Hawks are Robert Altman, who used Hawksian overlapping dialog and improvisation in MASH and other films. Peter Bogdanovich, who wrote a book about Hawks, essentially remade Bringing Up Baby as What's Up, Doc?. Brian De Palma remade "Scarface" (Scarface). Other directors directly indebted to Hawks are John Carpenter and Walter Hill.
Hawks was unique and uniquely modern in that, despite experiencing his career peak in an era dominated by studios and the producer system in which most directors were simply hired hands brought in to shoot a picture, he also served as a producer and developed the scripts for his films. He was determined to remain independent and refused to attach himself to a studio, or to a particular genre, for an extended period of time. His work ethic allowed him to fit in with the production paradigms of the studio system, and he eventually worked for all eight of the major studios. He proved himself to be, in effect, an independent filmmaker, and thus was a model for other director-writer-producers who would arise with the breakdown of the studio system in the 1950s and 1960s and the rise of the director as auteur in the early 1970s. Hawks did it first, though, in an environment that ruined or compromised many another filmmaker.
Hawks was not interested in creating a didactic cinema but simply wanted to tell, give the public, a good story in a well-crafted, entertaining picture. Like Ernest Hemingway, Hawks did have a philosophy of life, but the characters in his films were never intended to be role models. Hawks' protagonists are not necessarily moral people but tend to play fair, according to a personal or professional code. A Hawks film typically focuses on a tightly bound group of professionals, often isolated from society at large, who must work together as a team if they are to survive, let alone triumph. His movies emphasize such traits as loyalty and self-respect. Air Force, one of the finest propaganda films to emerge from World War II, is such a picture, in which a unit bonds aboard a B-17 bomber and the group is more than the sum of the individuals.
Aside from his interest in elucidating human relationships, Hawks' main theme is Hemingwayesque: the execution of one's job or duty to the best of one's ability in the face of overwhelming odds that would make an average person balk. The main characters in a Hawks film typically are people who take their jobs with the utmost seriousness, as their self-respect is rooted in their work. Though often outsiders or loners, Hawksian characters work within a system, albeit a relatively closed system, in which they can ultimately triumph by being loyal to their personal and professional codes. That thematic paradigm has been seen by some critics and cinema historians as being a metaphor for the film industry itself, and of Hawks' place within it.
In a sense, Hawks' oeuvre can be boiled down to two categories: the action-adventure films and the comedies. In his action-adventure movies, such as Only Angels Have Wings, the male protagonist, played by Cary Grant (a favorite actor of his who frequently starred in his films between 1947 and 1950), is both a hero and the top dog in his social group. In the comedies, such as Bringing Up Baby, the male protagonist (again played by Grant) is no hero but rather a victim of women and society. Women have only a tangential role in Hawks' action films, whereas they are the dominant figures in his comedies. In the action-adventure films society at large often is far away and the male professionals exist in an almost hermetically sealed world, whereas in the comedies are rooted in society and its mores. Men are constantly humiliated in the comedies, or are subject to role reversals (the man as the romantically hunted prey in "Baby," or the even more dramatic role reversal, including Cary Grant in drag, in I Was a Male War Bride). In the action-adventure films in which women are marginalized, they are forced to undergo elaborate courting rituals to attract their man, who they cannot get until they prove themselves as tough as men. There is an undercurrent of homo-eroticism to the Hawks action films, and Hawks himself termed his A Girl in Every Port "a love story between two men." This homo-erotic leitmotif is most prominent in The Big Sky.
By the time he made "Rio Bravo", over 30 years since he first directed a film, Hawks not only was consciously moving towards parody but was in the process of revising his "closed circle of professionals" credo toward the belief that, by the time of its loose remake, "El Dorado" in 1966, he was stressing the superiority of family loyalties to any professional ethic. In "Rio Bravo" the motley group inside the jailhouse eventually forms into a family in which the stoical code of conduct of previous Hawksian groups is replaced by something akin to a family bond. The new "family" celebrates its unity with the final shootout, which is a virtual fireworks display due to the use of dynamite to overcome the villains who threaten the family's survival. The affection of the group members for each other is best summed up in the scene where the great character actor Walter Brennan, playing Wayne's deputy Stumpy, facetiously tells Wayne that he'll have tears in his eyes until he gets back to the jailhouse. The ability to razz Wayne is indicative of the bond between the two men.
The sprawl of Hawks' oeuvre over multiple genres, and their existence as high-energy examples of film as its purest, emphasizing action rather than reflection, led serious critics before the 1970s to discount Hawks as a director. They generally ignored the themes that run through his body of work, such the dynamics of the group, male friendship, professionalism, and women as a threat to the independence of men. Granted, the cinematic world limned by Hawks was limited when compared to that of John Ford, the poet of the American screen, which was richer and more complex. However, Hawks' straightforward style that emphasized human relationships undoubtedly yielded one of the greatest crops of outstanding motion pictures that can be attributed to one director. Hawks' movies not only span a wide variety of genres, but frequently rank with the best in those genres, whether the war film ("The Dawn Patrol"), gangster film ("Scarface"), the screwball comedy (His Girl Friday), the action-adventure movie ("Only Angels Have Wings"), the noir (The Big Sleep), the Western ("Red River") and "Rio Bravo"), the musical-comedy (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and the historical epic (Land of the Pharaohs). He even had a hand in creating one of the classic science-fiction films, The Thing from Another World, which was produced by Hawks but directed by Christian Nyby, who had edited multiple Hawks films and who, in his sole directorial effort, essentially created a Hawks film (though rumors have long circulated that Hawks actually directed the film rather than Nyby, that has been discounted by such cast members as Kenneth Tobey and James Arness, who have both stated unequivocally that it was Nyby alone who directed the picture).
Though Howard Hawks created some of the most memorable moments in the history of American film a half-century ago, serious critics generally eschewed his work, as they did not believe there was a controlling intelligence behind them. Seen as the consummate professional director in the industrial process that was the studio film, serious critics believed that the great moments of Hawks' films were simply accidents that accrued from working in Hollywood with other professionals. In his 1948 book "The Film Till Now," Richard Griffin summed this feeling up with "Hawks is a very good all rounder."
Serious critics at the time attributed the mantle of "artist" to a director only when they could discern artistic aspirations, a personal visual style, or serious thematic intent. Hawks seemed to them an unambitious director who, unlike D.W. Griffith or the early Cecil B. DeMille, had not made a major contribution to American film, and was not responsible for any major cinematic innovations. He lacked the personal touch of a Charles Chaplin, a Hitchcock or a Welles, did not have the painterly sensibility of a John Ford and had never matured into the master craftsman who tackled heavy themes like the failure of the American dream or racism, like George Stevens. Hawks was seen as a commercial Hollywood director who was good enough to turn out first-rate entertainments in a wide variety of genre films in a time in which genre films such as the melodrama, the war picture and the gangster picture were treated with a lack of respect.
One of the central ideas behind the modernist novel that dominated the first half of the 20th-century artistic consciousness (when the novel and the novelist were still considered the ultimate arbiters of culture in the Anglo-American world) was that the author should begin something new with each book, rather than repeating him-/herself as the 19th century novelists had done. This paradigm can be seen most spectacularly in the work of James Joyce. Of course, it is easy to see this thrust for "something new" in the works of D.W. Griffith and C.B. DeMille, the fathers of the narrative film, working as they were in a new medium. In the post-studio era, a Stanley Kubrick (through Barry Lyndon, at least) and Lars von Trier can be seen as embarking on revolutionary breaks with their past. Howard Hawks was not like this, and, in fact, the latter Hawks constantly recycled not just themes but plots (so that his last great film, "Rio Bravo", essentially was remade as "El Dorado (1966)" and Rio Lobo). He did not fit the "modernist" paradigm of an artist.
The critical perception of Hawks began to change when the auteur theory--the idea that one intelligence was responsible for the creation of superior films regardless of their designation as "commercial" or "art house"--began to influence American movie criticism. Commenting on Hawks' facility to make films in a wide variety of genres, critic Andrew Sarris, who introduced the auteur theory to American movie criticism, said of Hawks, "For a major director, there are no minor genres." A Hawks genre picture is rooted in the conventions and audience expectations typical of the Hollywood genre. The Hawks genre picture does not radically challenge, undermine or overthrow either the conventions of the genre or the audience expectations of the genre film, but expands it the genre by revivifying it with new energy. As Robert Altman said about his own McCabe & Mrs. Miller, he fully played on the conventions and audience expectations of the Western genre and, in fact, did nothing to challenge them as he was relying on the audience being lulled into a comfort zone by the genre. What Altman wanted to do was to indulge his own artistry by painting at and filling in the edges of his canvas. Thus, Altman needed the audience's complicity through the genre conventions to accomplish this.
As a genre director, Hawks used his audience's comfort with the genre to expound his philosophy on male bonding and male-female relationships. His movies have a great deal of energy, invested in them by the master craftsman, which made them into great popular entertainments. That Hawks was a commercial filmmaker who was also a first-rate craftsman was not the sum total of his achievement as a director, but was the means by which he communicated with his audience.
While many during his life-time would not have called Hawks an artist, Robin Wood compared Hawks to William Shakespeare and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, both of whom created popular entertainments that could also appeal to elites. According to Wood, "The originality of their works lay not in the evolution of a completely new language, but in the artist's use and development of an already existing one; hence, there was common ground from the outset between artist and audience, and 'entertainment' could happen spontaneously without the intervention of a lengthy period of assimilation."
The great French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who began his cinema career as a critic, wrote about Hawks, "The great filmmakers always tie themselves down by complying with the rules of the game . . . Take, for example, the films of Howard Hawks, and in particular 'Rio Bravo'. That is a work of extraordinary psychological insight and aesthetic perception, but Hawks has made his film so that the insight can pass unnoticed without disturbing the audience that has come to see a Western like all the others. Hawks is the greater because he has succeeded in fitting all that he holds most dear into a well-worn subject."
A decade before Godard's insight on Hawks, in the early 1950s, the French-language critics who wrote for the cinema journal "Cahiers du Cinema" (many of whom would go on to become directors themselves) elevated Howard Hawks into the pantheon of great directors (the appreciation of Hawks in France, according to Cinématheque Francaise founder Henri Langlois, began with the French release of "Only Angels Have Wings". The Swiss Éric Rohmer, who would one day become a great director himself, in a 1952 review of Hawks' "The Big Sky" declared, "If one does not love the films of Howard Hawks, one cannot love cinema". Rohmer was joined in his enthusiasm for Hawks by such fellow French cineastes as Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut and Jacques Rivette. The Cahiers critics claimed that a handful of commercial Hollywood directors like Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock had created films as artful and fulfilling as the masterpieces of the art cinema. André Bazin gave these critics the moniker "Hitchcocko-Hawksians".
Rivette wrote in his 1953 essay, "The Genius of Howard Hawks," that "each shot has a functional beauty, like a neck or an ankle. The smooth, orderly succession of shots has a rhythm like the pulsing of blood, and the whole film is like a beautiful body, kept alive by deep, resilient breathing." Hawks, however, considered himself an entertainer, not an "artist." His definition of a good director was simply "someone who doesn't annoy you." He was never considered an artist until the French New Wave critics crowned him one, as serious critics had ignored his oeuvre. He found the adulation amusing, and once told his admirers, "You guys know my films better than I do."
Commenting on this phenomenon, Sarris' wife Molly Haskell said, "Critics will spend hours with divining rods over the obviously hermetic mindscape of [Ingmar Bergman], [Michelangelo Antonioni], etc., giving them the benefit of every passing doubt. But they will scorn similar excursions into the genuinely cryptic, richer, and more organic terrain of home-grown talents."
Hawks' visual aesthetic eschews formalism, trick photography or narrative gimmicks. There are no flashbacks or ellipses in his films, and his pictures are usually framed as eye-level medium shots. The films themselves are precisely structured, so much so that Langlois compared Hawks to the great modernist architect Walter Gropius. Hawks strikes one as an Intuitive, unselfconscious filmmaker.
Hawks' definition of a good director was "someone who doesn't annoy you." When Hawks was awarded his lifetime achievement Academy Award, the citation referred to the director as "a giant of the American cinema whose pictures, taken as a whole, represent one of the most consistent, vivid, and varied bodies of work in world cinema." It is a fitting epitaph for one of the greatest directors in the history of American, and world cinema.
British actress Suzanna Hamilton's first major screen role was as Izz Huett in Roman Polanski's "Tess" (1979). She went on to feature in many more motion-pictures and television dramas including Michael Radford's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (1984) opposite John Hurt, and Sydney Pollack's "Out of Africa" (1985) with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. More recently she has featured in the BBC's long running TV series "Silent Witness" and UK independent feature film "My Feral Heart" (2016). As well as her work on screen, Suzanna continues to do theater and voice work.
Suzanna was discovered in the early 1970's by filmmaker Claude Whatham, at age 12, in a children's experimental theater in north London. She starred in her first feature, "Swallows and Amazons", based on the popular Arthur Ransome children's book, in 1974. Whatham also cast her as Princess Alexandra in the BBC miniseries, "Disraeli". Hamilton first received training in acting at the Anna Scher Theatre School and later, at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Suzanna's first major screen role was Izz Huett, the lovesick dairymaid, in Roman Polanski's 1979 film, "Tess", based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel, "Tess of the d'Urbervilles", which featured Nastassja Kinski in the title role.
Her next significant role was in Richard Loncraine's 1982 film, "Brimstone and Treacle", based on Dennis Potter's play of the same name. In this film, Suzanna starred as Patricia Bates, the traumatized, catatonic daughter of a devoutly religious, middle-aged Home Counties couple whose lives are changed by a demonic drifter and con man portrayed by Sting. She was also featured the following year, in the BBC television mystery, "A Pattern of Roses", with a young Helena Bonham Carter.
Suzanna's next major motion-picture appearance is also her most famous and, arguably, her finest. In "Nineteen Eighty-Four", she was perfectly cast as Julia in writer/director Michael Radford's film adaptation of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel. Her uncommonly bold, affecting performance, opposite John Hurt's Winston Smith, earned her some notoriety and a bit of a minor cult following over the years as the film's reputation has steadily grown.
1985 was a very busy year. She starred opposite Vanessa Redgrave in British playwright David Hare's film, "Wetherby". As Karen Creasy, Hamilton's character is the sullen former friend of a young man who committed suicide, and she represents the emotional void at the heart of contemporary British life with all its repressions, denials, and disaffection -- "a central disfiguring blankness" as one character calls it. Her next role was as the equestrienne, Felicity, in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-winning "Out of Africa", based on the memoirs of the famed Danish writer, Karen Blixen (aka "Isak Dinesen") opposite Meryl Streep.
Her subsequent screen roles were mostly in European films made in exotic locations, as well as numerous British television dramas. She played a saxophonist in an all-woman band touring colonial dives in southeast Asia in the 1987 German film, "Devil's Paradise", shot in Thailand and based on a Joseph Conrad story. In 1988, she starred in another low-budget German film, a short called "The Voice", opposite the British cult actor, Jon Finch (of Polanski's "Macbeth" and Hitchcock's "Frenzy" fame).
Hamilton also starred in the well-received 1986 television drama "Johnny Bull", with Peter MacNichol, Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst, and Kathy Bates. She next played the winsome Anglo-French spy, Matty Firman, in "Wish Me Luck", a British World War II miniseries, and starred in the miniseries based on Barbara Taylor Bradford's "Hold the Dream."
In the 1989 BBC miniseries "Never Come Back", she made a striking appearance as the inscrutable femme fatale, Anna Raven, a murky, noirish conspiracy thriller set on the eve of the London blitz. Suzanna also turned in an admirable performance in the excellent 1990 British television film, "Small Zones", as a strong-willed Russian poetess whose subversive writings have led to her indefinite imprisonment in a bleak Soviet holding cell. This was followed by a supporting role in a 1992 TV film of Barbara Cartland's Regency-period bodice-ripper, "Duel of Hearts".
1992's low-budget Gothic horror romance, "Tale of a Vampire", written and directed by Shimako Sato, a 27-year-old Japanese-British film student, features Suzanna in a dual appearance, as both Ann, a librarian mourning the death of her boyfriend, and as Virgina Clemm, the wife of Edgar Allan Poe and long-lost love of a lonely melancholic vampire played by Julian Sands.
Suzanna had a recurring role In the 1990s as Dr. Karen Goodliffe on the British TV hospital dramatic series, "Casualty". Her character had to be written out of the show after Hamilton became pregnant in early 1993. In 1997's "Island on Bird Street", a Danish period drama made in the Dogme 95-style, concerning an orphaned Jewish boy who dodges the Nazis in occupied Europe during World War II, Suzanna has a brief cameo as the mother of a girl whom the boy befriends.
Suzanna Hamilton is also an accomplished theater and radio actress. She made her first West End appearance in 1982, starring in Tom Stoppard's play, "The Real Thing". In 1993, she played the lead as a Welsh maid who gets in over her head in the Bush Theater production of Lucinda Coxon's "Waiting at the Water's Edge". She was cast as Creusa in a Gate Theater 2002 production of Euripides' "Ion", and in early 2005, Hamilton appeared as Dora, a tough, bereaved, guilt-ridden lesbian incarcerated in a 1920's asylum in the production of Charlotte Jones' chamber drama, "Airswimming", at the Salisbury Playhouse. She also lent her voice to a 1991 audio-book recording of Julian Barnes' novel about a love triangle called "Talking It Over".
|Roscoe Lee Browne
He was a master class in cerebral eloquence and audience command...and although his dominant playing card in the realm of acting was quite serious and stately, nobody cut a more delightfully dry edge in sitcoms than this gentleman, whose calm yet blistering put-downs often eluded his lesser victims.
Acting titan Roscoe Lee Browne was born to a Baptist minister and his wife on May 2, 1925, in Woodbury, New Jersey. He graduated from Lincoln University, an historically black university in Pennsylvania in 1946, and went on to earn his graduate degree at Middlebury College. He subsequently returned to Lincoln and taught French and comparative literature, seemingly destined to settle in completely until he heard a different calling.
Roscoe relished his first taste of adulation and admiration as a track star, competing internationally and winning the world championship in the 800-yard dash in 1951. He parlayed that attention into a job as a sales representative for a wine and liquor importer. In 1956, he abruptly decided to become an actor. And he did. With no training but a shrewd, innate sense of self, he boldly auditioned for, and won, the role of the Soothsayer in "Julius Caesar" the very next day at the newly-formed New York Shakespeare Festival. He never looked back and went on to perform with the company in productions of "The Taming of the Shrew", "Titus Andronicus", "Othello", "King Lear" (as the Fool), and "Troilus and Cressida".
Blessed with rich, mellifluous tones and an imposing, cultured air, Roscoe became a rare African-American fixture on the traditionally white classical stage. In 1961 he appeared notably with James Earl Jones in the original off-Broadway cast of Jean Genet's landmark play "The Blacks". Awards soon came his way -- the first in the form of an Obie only a few years later for his portrayal of a rebellious slave in "The Old Glory". Additionally, he received the Los Angeles Drama Critic's Circle Award for both "The Dream on Monkey Mountain" (1970) and "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" (1989). Roscoe found less successful ventures on 1960s Broadway, taking his first curtain call in "A Cool World" in 1960, which folded the next day. He graced a number of other short runs including "General Seegar" (1962), "Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright" (1962), "The Ballad of the Sade Cafe" (1964), "Danton's Death" (1965), and "A Hand Is on the Gate: An Evening of Negro Poetry and Folk Music" (1966), which he also wrote and directed. He did not return to Broadway until 1983 with the role of the singing Rev. J.D. Montgomery in Tommy Tune's smash musical "My One and Only" in which his number "Kicking the Clouds Away" proved to be one of many highlights. Roscoe returned only once more to Broadway, earning acclaim and a Tony nomination for his supporting performance in August Wilson's "Two Trains Running" (1992).
Although he made an isolated debut with The Connection, he wouldn't appear regularly in films until the end of the decade with prominent parts in the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton film, The Comedians, Jules Dassin's Uptight, Hitchcock's Topaz and, his most notable, The Liberation of L.B. Jones. Thereafter, he complimented a host of features, both comedic and dramatic, including Super Fly (and its sequel), Uptown Saturday Night, Logan's Run, Legal Eagles, The Mambo Kings and Dear God
Elsewhere, Roscoe's disdainful demeanor courted applause on all the top 70s sitcoms including "All in the Family", "Maude," "Sanford and Son", "Good Times" and "Barney Miller" (Emmy-nominated), and he played the splendidly sardonic role of Saunders, the Tate household butler, after replacing Robert Guillaume's popular "Benson" character on Soap. In 1986 he won an Emmy Award for his guest appearance on The Cosby Show. His trademark baritone lent authority and distinction to a number of documentaries, live-action fare, and animated films, as well as the spoken-word arena, with such symphony orchestras as the Boston Pops and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to his credit. A preeminent recitalist, he was known for committing hundreds of poems to memory. For many years he and actor Anthony Zerbe toured the U.S. with their presentation of "Behind the Broken Words", an evening of poetry and dramatic readings.
At the time of his death of cancer on April 11, 2007, the never-married octogenarian was still omnipresent, more heard than seen perhaps. Among his last works was his narrations of a Garfield film feature and the most recent movie spoof Epic Movie.
A filmmaker, playwright, poet, actor, singer/songwriter and yoga teacher, James Morrison was born in Utah and is a product of Alaska. He began his acting career as a clown and wire walker for the Carson and Barnes Wild Animal Circus and served his theatrical apprenticeship with the Alaska Repertory Theatre. Since then, he has appeared at some of America's foremost theatres including the McCarter Theatre, the La Jolla Playhouse, the Mark Taper Forum, the L.A. Stage Company and The Old Globe with such renowned directors as Emily Mann, Des McAnuff, Jack O'Brien, Charles Nelson Reilly, Jose Quintero and Harry Mastrogeorge, his acting teacher since 1982.
He is the recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Performance and three Drama-Logue Awards. In 1985 he appeared in the London premiere of Emily Mann's Still Life at the West End's Donmar Warehouse and the Riverside Studios after a stint in The Edinburgh Festival at the Traverse Theatre where the production received a Fringe First Award.
His radio credits include L.A.TheatreWorks productions of The Rainmaker with the cast of the Broadway revival, Ruby McCollum in which he stars as William Bradford Huie, Judgement at Nuremberg, the U.S. tour of In the Heat of the Night and Julius Caesar.
Morrison's short film, Parking, which he wrote and directed, was produced by his wife, Riad Galayini. Parking screened at twenty film festivals world wide including New York's New Directors/New Films presented by Lincoln Center at the Museum of Modern Art, Slamdance (audience choice award for best short), Austin's South By Southwest Festival, the Central Florida Film Festival (third place narrative film award), the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, the Montreal World Festival, The Festival of U.S. Shorts in Brisbane, Australia, Ireland's Cork International Film Festival, and the Northampton Film Festival where it received the Best Short of the Festival Award. Parking also ran on Sundance Channel for 18 months.
With Ms. Galayini, he co-wrote and co-produced her directorial debut, Nude Descending, which received The George Melies Award at the 1998 Taos Talking Picture Festival and has screened at the Nashville Independent Festival and Short Cuts in Paris. In 2000, Nude Descending was selected for special recognition by the Hitchcock International Director's Series presented by the American Cinematheque.
Their latest film, the documentary, Showing Up, is a feature length conversation about the actor's auditio.
Morrison's plays have been produced and/or developed at The Sundance Institute, The EnsembleStudio Theatre, The Playwrights' Center of Minneapolis, L.A. Theatre Works, The MET Theatre, Two Parts Theatre Company, The Classical Theatre Lab, City Theatre in Miami, The Road Theatre, The Mojo Ensemble, The Wooden O, The Philadelphia Fringe Festival and the Salt Lake Acting Company where he has directed several plays including those by Sam Shepard, John Robinson, Larry Shue and Beth Henley.
As a singer/songwriter his albums, Son to the Boy and I Broke Free are available on iTunes CD Baby, Amazon and all digital outlets.
James was a Lecture Fellow at Bournemouth University School of Media in England for four years and received his certification to teach Hatha Yoga from Yogiraj Ganga White and Tracey Rich at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara. He taught regular classes at the YogaWorks Center for Yoga in Los Angeles for almost 10 years and currently teaches at White Lotus Foundation and Yoga Soup in Santa Barbara.
James and Riad live North of Los Angeles with their son, Seamus, born in 1999.
Gladys Cooper was the daughter of journalist William Frederick Cooper and his wife Mabel Barnett. As a child she was very striking and was used as a photographic model beginning at six years old. She wanted to become an actress and started on that road in 1905 after being discovered by Seymour Hicks to tour with his company in "Bluebell in Fairyland". She came to the London stage in 1906 in "The Belle of Mayfair", and in 1907 took a departure from the legitimate stage to become a member of Frank Curzon's famous Gaiety Girls chorus entertainments at The Gaiety theater. Her more concerted stage work began in 1911 in a production of Oscar Wilde's comedy "The Importance of Being Ernest" which was followed quickly with other roles. From the craze for post cards with photos of actors - that ensued between about 1890 and 1914 - Cooper became a popular subject of maidenly beauty with scenes as Juliet and many others. During World War I her popularity grew into something of pin-up fad for the British military.
In the meantime she sampled the early British silent film industry starting in 1913 with The Eleventh Commandment. She had roles in a few other movies in 1916 and 1917. But in the latter year she joined Frank Curzon to co-manage the Playhouse Theatre. This was a decidedly new direction for a woman of the period. She took sole control from 1927 until other stage commitments in 1933. She was also doing plays, some producing of her own, and a few more films in the early 1920s. It was actually about this time that she achieved major stage actress success. She appeared in W. Somerset Maugham's "Home and Beauty" in London in 1919 and triumphed in her 1922 appearance in Arthur Wing Pinero's "The Second Mrs. Tanqueray". It was ironic that writer Aldous Huxley criticized her performance in "Home and Beauty" as "too impassive, too statuesque, playing all the time as if she were Galatea, newly unpetrified and still unused to the ways of the living world." On the other hand, Maugham himself applauded her for "turning herself from an indifferent actress (at the start of her career) to an extremely competent one". She also debuted the role of Leslie Crosbie (the Bette Davis role in the 1940 film) in Maugham's "The Letter" in 1927.
In 1934 Cooper made her first sound picture in the UK and came to Broadway with "The Shining Hour" which she had been doing in London. She and it were a success, and she followed it with several plays through 1938, including "MacBeth". About this time Hollywood scouts caught wind of her, and she began her 30 odd years in American film. That first film was also Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood directorial effort, Rebecca (1940). Her's was a small and light role as Laurence Olivier's gregarious sister, but she stood out all the same. Two years later she bit into the much more substantial role as Bette Davis' domineering and repressive mother in the classic Now, Voyager for which she received a well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress - the first of three. Though aristocratic elderly ladies was a role she revisited in various guises, Cooper was very busy through 1940s Hollywood.
She returned to London stage work from 1947 and stayed for some early episodic British TV into 1950 before once again returning to the US, but was busy on both sides of the Atlantic until her passing. Through the 1950s and into the 1960s Cooper did a few films but was an especially familiar face on American TV in teleplays, a wide range of prime time episodic shows, and popular weird/sci-fi series: several Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits. When Enid Bagnold's "The Chalk Garden" opened in London in 1955, Cooper debuted as Mrs. St. Maugham and brought it to Broadway in October of that year where it ran through March of 1956. Her last major film was My Fair Lady as Henry Higgins' mother. The year before she had played the part on TV. In the film, the portrait prop of a fine lady over Higgins' fireplace is that of Cooper painted in 1922. She wrote an autobiography (1931) followed by two biographies (1953 and 1979). In 1967 she was honored as a Dame Commander of the Order of British Empire (DBE) for her great accomplishments in furthering acting.
One of Britain's most beloved eccentric comedians, the irrepressible, gap-toothed Terry-Thomas was born Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens in Lichfield Grove, Finchley. He was the son of Ellen Elizabeth (Hoar) and Ernest Frederick Stevens, a fairly well-to-do London businessman. He was afforded a private education at Ardingly College in Sussex, with the understanding that this was to lead him towards a prosperous future in the world of commerce. Ironically, deemed to have no acting talent and thus spurned by his school's dramatic society, young Thomas took to music and soon fronted his own jazz band, "The Rhythm Maniacs", in which he also played ukulele. His initial experience in the work force was, at best humdrum, at worst traumatic. He started as a transport clerk with the Union Cold Storage Company, went on selling meat at the Smithfield Markets and then peddled insurance policies for Norwich Union. By both choice and inclination, he didn't fit into any of these jobs, was often bullied and consequently adopted as his life-long mantra the motto "I Shall Not Be Cowed".
Trying everything to break out of what he perceived as lower middle class mediocrity, he first changed his accent from North London to the posh upper-crust tones of then-matinee idol Owen Nares. He turned to professional ballroom dancing, found work in films as an extra and performed comedy monologues, as well as impersonations in night clubs and cabaret. He also tried several variations for a stage name people would remember, including a reversed spelling of Tom Stevens: 'Mot Snevets'. Not surprisingly, this didn't catch on and so he eventually settled on 'Terry Thomas', later adding the hyphen, which he likened to the gap between his teeth. His theatrical debut did not eventuate until he was twenty-eight, performing at the Tivoli Theatre in Hull. The onset of World War II put his burgeoning career on hold. He enlisted in the Army Signals Corps and, somehow, rose to the rank of sergeant. Between 1940 and 1942, Terry participated in the ENSA program, staging his own shows "Cabaret Parade" and "Stars in Battledress". It was at this time, that he first adopted the affected mannerisms, which later became his stock-in-trade. He also demonstrated an amazing repertoire for imitating popular vocalists and for recreating all types of sound effects with his voice.
In July 1946, Terry joined the cast of the revue "Piccadilly Hayride" and suddenly became the comic discovery of the year, which ended with a Royal Variety Performance in front of King and Queen. His proper breakthrough, though, came via his radio show "To Town with Terry" (and its sequel), aired on the BBC Home Service from October 1948. This opened many doors, including Terry getting his own TV series, How Do You View?. He was invited to a cabaret gig at New York's Waldorf Astoria in 1951. Terry was featured on the inaugural cover of TV Mirror, even before the part of his career he is primarily remembered for had begun in earnest. After a brace of nondescript roles, he was finally cast as the effete, derisive Major Hitchcock in the first of several films produced by the Boulting brothers, Private's Progress. For several years after, Terry's popularity flourished with similar films taking a jaundiced view of British institutions. Following his overbearing Bertrand Welch in Lucky Jim, he starred as the titular Man in a Cocked Hat, a satire paralleling the Suez Affair, which turned out to be one of his best roles. Terry played an inept, blundering diplomat appointed as 'special ambassador' to sort out the political quagmire of an obscure former colony, overrun by foreign agents and on the verge of an uprising. For this assignment, his character has little more to draw upon, other than his knowledge of Debrett's Peerage and Sporting Life. This film, established the dandified "jolly good show"-type Terry-Thomas screen personae once and for all.
After Carleton-Browne, came I'm All Right Jack (in which he recreated his Major Hitchcock character as a representative of management vis-à-vis labour) and School for Scoundrels, in which he was perfectly cast a first-class bounder. Alternating dastardly, moustache-twirling comic villains (Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes) with sophisticated, rakish bon vivants and impeccably British chauffeurs (Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die or butlers (How to Murder Your Wife, popularised Terry on both sides of the Atlantic. Mostly, he came to epitomise the archetypal British 'silly ass' -- an instantly recognisable figure replete with RAF-style moustache, cheeky gap-toothed grin, mobile eyebrows, flashy waistcoats, button-hole carnation, suede shoes and enormous cigarette holders (including one studded with 42 diamonds!). Life imitated art, when it came to womanising, clothing and accessories. Terry, a founding member of the London Waistcoat Club, ended up owning more than 150 of these garments, in addition to 80 Savile Row bespoke suits.
In the late 1960's, Terry settled on the island of Ibiza with his twenty-six year old second wife. However, by 1984, his prior extravagant lifestyle and the exorbitant costs associated with the treatment of Parkinson's disease, with which he had been diagnosed in 1971, forced the couple to sell the villa and move back to a sparse flat in Britain. Almost destitute, his remaining days were made easier by his numerous friends in show business who managed to raise 51,000 pounds for him at a London benefit. Terry-Thomas died at a high care nursing home in Godalming, Surrey, in January 1990 at the age of 78.
Actor, Writer, and Violinist, Mary Scheer is a character actor who started at the Groundlings Theater where she performed for 5 years with Will Ferrell, Wendy MCclendon-Covey, Michael Hitchcock, Tim Bagley, Lisa Kudrow and many others. Many Guest Star roles, most recently Life in Pieces and 2 Broke Girls. Series regular, Mrs. Benson, on iCarly and one of the original cast members of MADtv. Hundreds of series regular voiceover jobs including Penguins of Madagascar, (Alice the Zookeeper) and Hey, Arnold! (Suzie Kokoshka) Family Guy and King of the Hill. Worked with Martin Short on 6 episodes of Prime Time Glick and was a writer and performer on The Martin Short Show. She is married and has 2 kids.
Barbara trained for the theatre at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre school then joined the Old Vic Company in London. After working in provincial repertory theatres she returned to the Bristol Old Vic to play Rosemary in 'The Severed Head' and transferred with the play to the west end. She returned again to Bristol to appear in 'Love's Labour's Lost' and 'Henry V' then toured Europe and Israel with them. She returned again to bristol for further productions then went on an American tour in 'Measure For Measure' and as Ophelia opposite her husband, Richard Pasco, in the title role of 'Hamlet' After her return to England she had a big success in the 1968 West End production of 'Mrs Mouse Are You Within'. since then she's made many appearances at the Old Vic, the National Theatre and the R.S.C. at the Aldwych. She made her television debut in 1965 in a episode of 'No Hiding Place' followed over the years with appearances in episodes of such as 'Callan', 'Special Branch', Inspector Morse','Ruth Rendell Mysterie' and 'Kavanagh Q.C.' along with mini series of 'The Brontes of Haworth', 'A Perfect Hero' and 'Wives and Daughters'. Her film debut was made in 1972 in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Frenzy' which was quickly followed by 'Henry VIII and His Six Wives, in which she played Catherine Parr, and 'Bequest to the Nation'. Since then to date (2013) she's only made 6 other films the best known being 'Billy Elliot' in which she only had a small part
Michael Hitchcock was born in Defiance, Ohio and later raised in Western Springs, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He attributes many of his offbeat characters on his midwestern upbringing. Hitchcock received his Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University's School of Speech and a Master of Fine Arts degree from U.C.L.A.'s film school. Hitchcock is an alumnus of the Los Angeles comedy and improvisational troupe "The Groundlings."
William Michael Hootkins was born on July 5, 1948, in Dallas, Texas. He moved to London, England in the early '70s and lived there up until 2002. Hootkins was an actor at Theatre Intime while attending Princeton University where he learned how to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese. He also trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and attended St. Marks, where he was in the same theater group as Tommy Lee Jones. The imposingly bulky and heavyset Hootkins first began acting in films and TV shows alike in the mid '70s. His more noteworthy parts include the first of the Rebel fighter pilots to get killed while attacking the Death Star in "Star Wars", scientist Topol's bumbling oaf assistant in "Flash Gordon", Major Eaton, sent by the US government in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", one of Rod Steiger's demented sons in "American Gothic", a corrupt police lieutenant in "Batman", a disgusting sleazy voyeur in "Hardware", a coarse South African police chief in "Dust Devil", the mysterious and duplicitous Mr. X in "Hear My Song", a haughty corporate executive in "Death Machine", Santa Claus in "Like Father, Like Santa", and an opera-singing vampire in "The Breed". Moreover, Hootkins had small parts in two "Pink Panther" pictures: he's a taxi driver in both "The Trail of the Pink Panther" and "Curse of the Pink Panther".
Among the TV shows he did guest spots on are "Yanks Go Home", "Agony", "Play for Today", "Tales of the Unexpected", "The Life and Times of David Lloyd George", "Brett Maverick", "Cagney and Lacey", "Taxi", "Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense", "Poirot", "Chancer", "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles", "The Tomorrow People", "The West Wing", and "Absolute Power". Hootkins received many accolades for his outstanding performance as Sir Alfred Hitchcock in Terry Johnson's hit play "Hitchcock Blonde". In addition to his substantial film and TV credits, Hootkins was also a popular and prolific voice artist who recorded dozens of plays for BBC Radio Drama; he supplied the voices for such iconic individuals as Orson Welles, J. Edgar Hoover, and Winston Churchill. William Hootkins died of pancreatic cancer on October 23, 2005.
Admirers have always had difficulty explaining Éric Rohmer's "Je ne sais quoi." Part of the challenge stems from the fact that, despite his place in French Nouvelle Vague (i.e., New Wave), his work is unlike that of his colleagues. While this may be due to the auteur's unwillingness to conform, some have argued convincingly that, in truth, he has remained more faithful to the original ideals of the movement than have his peers. Additionally, plot is not his foremost concern. It is the thoughts and emotions of his characters that are essential to Rohmer, and, just as one's own states of being are hard to define, so is the internal life of his art. Thus, rather than speaking of it in specific terms, fans often use such modifiers as "subtle," "witty," "delicious" and "enigmatic." In an interview with Dennis Hopper, Quentin Tarantino echoed what nearly every aficionado has uttered: "You have to see one of [his movies], and if you kind of like that one, then you should see his other ones, but you need to see one to see if you like it."
Detractors have no problem in expressing their displeasure. They use such phrases as "tedious like a classroom play," "arty and tiresome" and "donnishly talky." Gene Hackman, as jaded detective Harry Moseby in Night Moves, delivered a now famous line that sums up these feelings: "I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kind of like watching paint dry." Undeniably, his excruciatingly slow pace and apathetic, self-absorbed characters are hallmarks, and, at times, even his greatest supporters have made trenchant remarks in this regard. Said critic Pauline Kael, "Seriocomic triviality has become Rohmer's specialty. His sensibility would be easier to take if he'd stop directing to a metronome." In that his proponents will quote attacks on him, indeed Rohmer may be alone among directors. They revel in the fact that "nothing of consequence" happens in his pictures. They are mesmerized by the dense blocks of high-brow chatter. They delight in the predictability of his aesthetic. Above all, however, they are touched by the honesty of a man who, uncompromisingly, lays bear the human soul and "life as such."
Who is Eric Rohmer? Born Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer on December 1, 1920 in Nancy, a small city in Lorraine, he relocated to Paris and became a literature teacher and newspaper reporter. In 1946, under the pen name Gilbert Cordier, he published his only novel, "Elizabeth". Soon after, his interest began to shift toward criticism, and he began frequenting Cinémathèque Français (founded by archivist Henri Langlois) along with soon-to-be New Wavers Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol and François Truffaut. It was at this time that he adopted his pseudonym, an amalgam of the names of actor/director Erich von Stroheim and novelist Sax Rohmer (author of the Fu Manchu series.) His first film, Journal d'un scélérat, was shot the same year that he founded "Gazette du Cinema" along with Godard and Rivette. The next year, Rohmer joined seminal critic André Bazin at "Cahiers du Cinema", where he served as editor-in-chief from 1956 to 1963. As Cahiers was an influential publication, it not only gave him a platform from which to preach New Wave philosophy, but it enabled him to propose revisionist ideas on Hollywood. An example of the latter was "Hitchcock, The First Forty-Four Films", a book on which he collaborated with Chabrol that spoke of Alfred Hitchcock in highly favorable terms.
Rohmer's early forays into direction met with limited success. By 1958, he had completed five shorts, but his sole attempt at feature length, a version of La Comtesse de Ségur's "Les Petites filles modèles", was left unfinished. With Le signe du lion, he made his feature debut, although it was a decade before he achieved recognition. In the interim, he turned out eleven projects, including three of his "Six contes moraux" (i.e., moral tales), films devoted to examining the inner states of people in the throes of temptation. The Bakery Girl of Monceau and Suzanne's Career are unremarkable black-and-white pictures that best function as blueprints for his later output. They also mark the beginning of a business partnership with Barbet Schroeder, who starred in the former of the two. The Collector, his first major effort in color, has been mistaken for a Lolita movie; on a deeper plane, it questions the manner in which one collects or rejects experience. Rohmer's first "hit" was My Night at Maud's, which was nominated for two Oscars and won several international awards. It continues to be his best-known work. In it, on the eve of a proclaiming his love to Francoise, his future wife, the narrator spends a night with a pretty divorcée named Maud. Along with a friend, the two have a discussion on life, religion and Pascal's wager (i.e., the necessity of risking all on the only bet that can win.) Left alone with the sensual Maud, the narrator is forced to test his principles. The final parts in the series, Claire's Knee and Chloe in the Afternoon are mid-life crisis tales that cleverly reiterate the notion of self-restraint as the path to salvation.
"Comedies et Proverbs," Rohmer's second cycle, deals with deception. The Aviator's Wife is the story a naïve student who suspects his girlfriend of infidelity. In stalking her ex-lover and ultimately confronting her, we discover the levels on which he is deceiving himself. Another masterpiece is Pauline at the Beach, a seaside film about adolescents' coming-of-age and the childish antics of their adult chaperones. Of the remaining installments, Summer and Boyfriends and Girlfriends are the most appealing. The director's last series is known as "Contes des quatre saisons" (i.e., Tales of the Four Seasons), which too presents the dysfunctional relationships of eccentrics. In place of the social games of "Comedies et Proverbs", though, this cycle explores the lives of the emotionally isolated. A Tale of Springtime and A Tale of Winter are the more inventive pieces, the latter revisiting Ma Nuit chez Maud's "wager." Just as his oeuvre retraces itself thematically, Rohmer populates it with actors who appear and reappear in unusual ways. The final tale, Autumn Tale, brings together his favorite actresses, Marie Rivière and Béatrice Romand. Like "hiver," it hearkens back to a prior project, A Good Marriage, in examining Romand's quest to find a husband.
Since 1976, Rohmer has made various non-serial releases. Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle and Rendezvous in Paris, both composed of vignettes, are tongue-in-cheek morality plays that merit little attention. The lush costume drama The Marquise of O, in contrast, is an excellent study of the absurd formalities of 18th century aristocracy and was recognized with the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes. His other period pieces, regrettably, have not been as successful. Perceval, while original, is a failed experiment in stagy Arthurian storytelling, and the beautifully dull The Lady and the Duke is equally unsatisfying for most fans of his oeuvre. Nonetheless, the director has demonstrated incredible consistency, and that he was able to deliver a picture of this caliber so late in his career is astounding. The legacy that this man has bestowed upon us rivals that of any auteur, with arguably as many as ten tours de force over the last four decades. Why, then, is he the least honored among the ranks of the Nouvelle Vague and among all cinematic geniuses?
Stories of Rohmer's idiosyncrasies abound. An ardent environmentalist, he has never driven a car and refuses to ride in taxis. There is no telephone in his home. He delayed the production of Ma Nuit chez Maud for a year, insisting that certain scenes could only be shot on Christmas night. Once, he requested a musical score that could be played at levels inaudible to viewers. He refers to himself as "commercial," yet his movies turn slim profits playing the art house circuit. Normally, these are kinds of anecdotes that would endear a one with the cognoscenti. His most revealing quirk, however, is that he declines interviews and shuns the spotlight. Where Hitchcock, for instance, was always ready to talk shop, Rohmer has let his films speak for themselves. He is not worried about WHAT people think of them but THAT, indeed, they think.
It would be dangerous to supplant the aforementioned "je ne sais quoi" with words. Without demystifying Rohmer's cinema, still there are broad qualities to which one may point. First, it is marked by philosophical and artistic integrity. Long before Krzysztof Kieslowski, Rohmer came up with the concept of the film cycle, and this has permitted him to build on his own work in a unique manner. A devout Catholic, he is interested in the resisting of temptation, and what does not occur in his pieces is just as intriguing as what occurs. Apropos to the mention of his spirituality is his fascination with the interplay between destiny and free will. Some choice is always central to his stories. Yet, while his narrative is devoid of conventionally dramatic events, he shows a fondness for coincidence bordering on the supernatural. In order to maintain verisimilitude, then, he employs more "long shots" and a simpler, more natural editing process than his contemporaries. He makes infrequent use of music and foley, focusing instead on the sounds of voices. Of these voices, where his narrators are male (and it is ostensibly their subjective experience to which we are privy), his women are more intelligent and complex than his men. Finally, albeit deeply contemplative, Rohmer's work is rarely conclusive. Refreshingly un-Hollywood, rather than providing an escape from reality, it compels us to face the world in which we live.
Robert Emhardt looked and sounded as if he had intentionally been created by some perverse god to play villains. Though rotund, he had hooded, lizard like eyes and a drawling whine in his voice. The real Robert Emhardt, however, was a well-educated, cultured, generous man, not at all like the characters he often portrayed.
Robert Christian Emhardt was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His father was C.J. Emhardt, a lawyer, judge, and onetime mayor of the city. The younger Emhardt received his early training as an actor in the theater at Butler University. He then went to London, where he gained experience at The London Academy of Dramatic Art in 1937-38, and then played in repertoire with London's British Broadcasting Company. While in England he met the woman who would become his wife, the well-known English actress Silvia Sedeli. The couple would go on to have four children. Eventually he found himself understudying Sidney Greenstreet on an American tour. He stayed in the United States, debuting on Broadway in 1942 in "The Pirate." He was to go on to win the Critic's Circle Award as best supporting actor in "Life with Mother" (1948-49) and to appear in eleven other plays in New York until his last in 1959. He made his film debut in "The Iron Mistress" (1952), a fictionalized life of Jim Bowie starring Alan Ladd. Among his other memorable movies were "3:10 to Yuma" (1957), "Underworld, USA" (1961), and "The Stone Killer" with Charles Bronson (1973). His favorite, and probably his best, film role was as Shirley Knight's paunchy, gracious, but ultimately insane father in "The Group" (1966).
Emhardt had a busy career. He also acted in 125 summer stock productions and 250 television shows such as "Have Gun, Will Travel," "The Untouchables," "Perry Mason," "Bonanza," and in six episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." He had a recurring role on the soap opera "Another World."
Emhardt was extremely active in St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Santa Monica and gave a great deal of support to The Boy Scouts of America. In his spare time (Emhardt had spare time?) he followed sports and enjoyed ballet.
Robert Emhardt died of heart failure on December 29, 1994 in Ojai, California.
John Williams was a tall, urbane Anglo-American actor best known for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder, a role he played on Broadway, in Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1954 film, and on television in 1958. Playing Hubbard on the Great White Way brought him the 1953 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play. "Dial M for Murder" was the 27th Broadway play he had appeared in since making his New York debut in "The Fake" in 1924, which he had originally appeared in back in his native England.
Williams was born on April 15, 1903 in Buckinghamshire and attended Lancing College. He first trod the boards as a teenager in a 1916 production of Peter Pan. He moved to America in the mid-1920s and was a busy and constantly employed stage actor for 30 years. After "Dial M for Murder" in the 1953-54 season, though, he appeared in only four more Broadway plays between 1955 and 1970 as he focused on movies and television.
In addition to "Dial M for Murder", he appeared in Hitchcock's The Paradine Case and in To Catch a Thief and in 10 episodes of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. For Billy Wilder, he appeared in Sabrina and Witness for the Prosecution. Beginning in the 1960s, most of his work was in television, including a nine-episode stint on Family Affair taking over Sebastian Cabot's duties as Brian Keith's butler when Cabot was waylaid by health problems.
He retired in the late '70s, his last acting gig being an appearance on Battlestar Galactica in 1979. He was known by many in the last phase of his career for his work on one of the first TV infomercials, when he served as the pitchman for a classical music record collection called "120 Music Masterpieces."
John Williams died on May 5, 1983 in La Jolla, California from an aneurysm. He was 80 years old.
John Barry Foster's acting career began and ended on the stage. At the age of 20, he won a scholarship to the Central School of Speech and Drama, where he befriended future playwright Harold Pinter. After two years training, Barry went on tour with Andrew McMaster and fellow actors Patrick Magee and Kenneth Haigh through the Republic of Ireland. Their repertoire included thirteen plays (mostly Shakespearean, but also including J.B. Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls'). Barry's first role was as Lorenzo in 'The Merchant of Venice'.
In 1955, he hit the lights of London with 'The Night of the Ball' at the New Theatre and six years later had his first starring role as Cornelius Christian in 'Fairy Tales of New York'. During the remainder of the decade, Barry played through an immensely varied array of characters, ranging from Adhemar in the French comedy 'Let's Get a Divorce' to King John and Macbeth at the Nottingham Playhouse. He appeared with Dame Wendy Hiller in 'Driving Miss Daisy' and with Lotte Lenya in 'Brecht on Brecht' at The Royal Court. His portfolio also included two Pinter plays, 'The Basement' and 'The Tea Party'. He also, in 1963, acted on Broadway, San Francisco and Los Angeles in a double bill, 'The Private Ear' and 'The Public Eye' by Peter Shaffer. Time Magazine (October 18,1963) described his performance as Cristoforou as "a remarkable and indefinable creation" and "the most antic and mythic embodiment of Life Force since Zorba the Greek danced off the pages of Nikos Kazantzakis novel".
While he had appeared in film roles since the mid-1950's, it was on the small screen where Barry Foster had his greatest success, namely as the trench-coated Dutch detective Van der Valk. Beginning with the catchy theme song 'Eye Level' (a British chart topper in 1973), this 1970's TV series filmed on location in Amsterdam, introduced a rather off-beat type of detective than hitherto seen: introspective, often rash and moody, at times anti-establishmentarian, yet with great compassion, wit and intelligence. Barry Foster himself remarked about the popular Van der Valk: "He is understanding and does not disapprove. That isn't his job, anyway. He's a lovely guy to play, a thoughtful, unorthodox cop with a touch of the private eye" (The Independent, 13/2/2002).
Other notable television roles followed. Among the best of them was as Kaiser Wilhelm in BBC's excellent miniseries Fall of Eagles. He was again perfectly cast as eccentric spook Saul Enderby, one of Smiley's People, played with typical aplomb and dry humour. In 1978, Barry lent his voice to an impersonation of the great detective Sherlock Holmes in a 13-part BBC radio series. In films, Barry will be best remembered as the serial killing grocer Bob Rusk in Hitchcock's thriller Frenzy. From the 1980's, Barry Foster concentrated once again on the theatre. In 1995, he toured 1995 Australia with Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls' (playing the part of Inspector Goole), directed by Stephen Daldry. In 2000, he starred as Prospero in 'The Tempest' and, just prior to his death, appeared with Nigel Havers and Roger Lloyd Pack in the play 'Art' at the London Whitehall theatre. Barry Foster was a wonderfully adaptable and likeable actor, who once explained his versatility thus: "I'm neither very tall nor very short. You can't look at my face and say 'he's the killer', or 'the guy next door' or 'the mad scientist'. All I've got is my curly hair - which everyone thinks is a wig anyway" (The Telegraph, 12/2/2002).
The original ash-blonde "iceberg maiden", Madeleine Carroll was a knowing beauty with a confident air, the epitome of poise and "breeding". Not only did she have looks and allure in abundance, but she had intellectual heft to go with them, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Birmingham University at the age of 20. The daughter of a French mother and an Irish father, she briefly held a position teaching French at a girls seminary near Brighton, but was by this time thoroughly determined to seek her career in the theatre--much to her dad's chagrin. Madeleine's chance arrived, after several failed auditions (and in between modeling hats), in the shape of a small part as a French maid in a 1927 West End production of "The Lash". Her film debut followed within a year and stardom was almost instantaneous. By the time she appeared in The W Plan, Madeleine had become Britain's top female screen star. That is not to say, however, that she was a gifted actress from the outset. In fact, she learned her trade on the job, finding help along the way from established thespians such as Seymour Hicks and Miles Mander. Most of her early films tended to focus on that exquisite face, and bringing out her regal, well-bred--if rather icy--personality. Her beautiful speaking voice enabled her to make the transition to sound pictures effortlessly.
Following a year-long absence from acting (and marriage to Capt. Philip Astley of the King's Guards) she returned to the screen, having been tempted with a lucrative contract by Gaumont-British. The resulting films, Sleeping Car and I Was a Spy, were both popular and critical successes and prompted renewed offers from Hollywood. However, on loan to Fox, the tedious melodrama The World Moves On did absolutely nothing for her career and she quickly returned to Britain--a fortuitous move, as it turned out. Alfred Hitchcock had been on the lookout for one of the unattainable, aloof blondes he was so partial to, whose smoldering sexuality lay hidden beneath a layer of ladylike demeanor (other Hitch favorites of that type included Grace Kelly and Kim Novak). Madeleine fitted the bill perfectly. The 39 Steps, based on a novel by John Buchan, made her an international star. The process was not entirely painless, however, as Hitchcock "introduced" Madeleine to co-star Robert Donat by handcuffing them together (accounts vary as to how long, exactly, but it was likely for several hours) for "added realism". In due course the enforced companionship got the stars nicely acquainted and helped make their humorous banter in the film all the more convincing.
Hitchcock liked Madeleine and attempted to repeat the success of "The 39 Steps" with Secret Agent, but with somewhat diminished results (primarily because Donat had to pull out of the project due to illness and Madeleine's chemistry with John Gielgud was not on the same level as it was with Donat). Nonetheless, her reputation was made. After Alexander Korda sold her contract, she ended up back in Hollywood with Paramount. Initially she was signed for one year (1935-36), but this was extended in 1938 with a stipulation that she make two pictures per year until the end of 1941. The studio publicity machine touted Madeleine as "the most beautiful woman in the world". This was commensurate with her being given A-grade material, beginning with The General Died at Dawn, opposite Gary Cooper. For once, Madeleine portrayed something other than a regal or "squeaky clean" character, and she did so with more warmth and élan than she had displayed in her previous films. She then showed a humorous side in Irving Berlin's On the Avenue; had Tyrone Power and George Sanders fight it out for her affections in Lloyd's of London (on loan to Fox); and turned up as a particularly decorative--though in regard to acting, underemployed--princess, in The Prisoner of Zenda. Thereafter she had hit the peak of her profession in terms of salary, reportedly making $250,000 in 1938 alone. For the remainder of her Hollywood tenure, Madeleine co-starred three times with Fred MacMurray (the most enjoyable encounter was Honeymoon in Bali), and opposite Bob Hope in one of his most fondly remembered comedies, My Favorite Blonde. Then it all started to come to an end.
Having lost her sister Guigette during a German air attack on London in October 1940, Madeleine devoted more and more of her time to the war effort, becoming entertainment director for the United Seamens Service and joining the Red Cross as a nurse under the name Madeleine Hamilton. She was unable to rekindle her popularity after the war, her last film of note being The Fan, a dramatization of Oscar Wilde's play. She made a solitary, albeit very successful, attempt at Broadway, with a starring role in the comedy "Goodbye, My Fancy" (1948), directed by and co-starring a young Sam Wanamaker. There were a few more TV and radio appearances but, for all intents and purposes, her career had run its course. Britain's most glamorous export to Hollywood became increasingly self-deprecating, rejecting further overtures from producers. Instead, she became more committed to charitable works on behalf of children, orphaned or injured as the result of the Second World War.
Madeleine spent the last 21 years of her life in retirement, first in Paris, then in the south of Spain. Two of her four ex-husbands included the actor Sterling Hayden and the French director/producer Henri Lavorel. Last of the quartet was Andrew Heiskell, publisher of 'Life' magazine. She died in Marbella in October 1987. In her private life, the trimmings of stardom seemed to have mattered little to Madeleine. As to her status as a sex symbol, she was once said to have quipped to a group of collegians who had voted her the girl they'd most like to be marooned with on a desert island, that she would not object, provided at least one of them was a good obstetrician!
The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane, the shrieking violins of Psycho, and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver was one of the most original and distinctive composers ever to work in film. He started early, winning a composition prize at the age of 13 and founding his own orchestra at the age of 20. After writing scores for Orson Welles's radio shows in the 1930s (including the notorious 1938 "The War of the Worlds" broadcast), he was the obvious choice to score Welles's film debut, Citizen Kane, and, subsequently, The Magnificent Ambersons, although he removed his name from the latter after additional music was added without his (or Welles's) consent when the film was mutilated by a panic-stricken studio. Herrmann was a prolific film composer, producing some of his most memorable work for Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he wrote nine scores. A notorious perfectionist and demanding (he once said that most directors didn't have a clue about music, and he blithely ignored their instructions--like Hitchcock's suggestion that Psycho have a jazz score and no music in the shower scene). He ended his partnership with Hitchcock after the latter rejected his score for Torn Curtain on studio advice. He was also an early experimenter in the sounds used in film scores, most famously The Day the Earth Stood Still, scored for two theremins, pianos, and a horn section; and was a consultant on the electronic sounds created by Oskar Sala on the mixtrautonium for The Birds. His last score was for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and died just hours after recording it. He also wrote an opera, "Wuthering Heights", and a cantata, "Moby Dick".
The daughter of a retired sea captain and his much-younger wife, actress Norma Varden was born and raised in turn-of-the-century London. A piano prodigy, she studied in Paris and appeared in concert in England during her teenage years. Acting, however, became her career of choice, studying at the Guildhall School of Music. She took her very first stage bow in a production of Peter Pan. In the adult role of Mrs. Darling, she was actually younger than the actors playing her children. In years to come, Norma would play a number of mature, lady-like roles that were much older than she was.
She performed Shakespeare in repertory and was at first cast in dramatic plays such as The Wandering Jew (1920-her West End debut) and Hamlet (1925) as the Player Queen. In various acting companies, she eventually found a flair for comedy and became the resident character comedienne for the famous Aldwych Theatre farce-ers from 1929 to 1933 à la Marx Bros. foil Margaret Dumont. Finding success there in the comedies A Night Like This and Turkey Time, she later recreated both roles on British film a couple of years later. She went on to prove herself a minor but avid scene-stealer in such movies as Evergreen, The Iron Duke, Stormy Weather and East Meets West, quickly finding an amusing niche as a haughty society maven. She played both benevolent and supercilious with equal ease -- her height (5'7-1/2"), elongated oval face, vacant manner, plummy voice and slightly drowsy eyes adding immensely to the look and amusement of her characters.
In the early 1940s, the veteran actress visited California, accompanied by her ailing, widowed mother, for a take on the warmer climate and decided to permanently settle. Again, she found herself in demand as a now silvery-haired duchess, queen or Lady something, albeit in less meaty, sometimes even unbilled parts. Although she could dress down when called upon as a bar maid, nurse and landlady, she usually was asked to provide the requisite atmosphere for glossy, opulent settings. Her more noticeable roles came as lecherous Robert Benchley's wealthy, put-upon wife in The Major and the Minor; the vile Lady Abbott in Forever Amber; the giddy socialite nearly strangled by Robert Walker in Hitchcock's classic Strangers on a Train; the impressively bejeweled wife of Charles Coburn who Marilyn Monroe fawns over in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; and the Von Trapp housekeeper Frau Schmidt in The Sound of Music.
Norma became a steadfast radio and TV comedy foil during the 40s, 50s and 60s, often at the mercy of a Lucille Ball or Jack Benny. Her longest radio part was as Basil Rathbone's housekeeper on his Sherlock Holmes radio series. On TV, she appeared in such shows as Mister Ed, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched and Batman She had recurring roles as Betty Hutton's aunt on The Betty Hutton Show and as Shirley Booth's neighbor on Hazel. Never married, Norma's mother passed away in 1969, and the actress retired shortly after. She died of heart failure in 1989, a day before her 91st birthday.
John Laurie was a Scotsman who would play many character roles in his long career - a lot of Scotsmen to be sure - but an enthusiastic and skilled actor in nearly 120 screen roles. He was the son of a mill worker, and studied for a career in architecture which he indeed began. But with World War I he left his position to join the British army. After the war he set his sights in a different direction, training to become an actor by attending the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. His first stage play was in 1921. He honed his skills thereafter (from 1922 to 1939) principally as a Shakespearian actor at the Old Vic in London or at Stratford-upon-Avon - and later the Open Air in Regent's Park. But by 1930 he was giving time to films as well. His first movie was the Sean O'Casey play The Shame of Mary Boyle, one of Alfred Hitchcock's early sound efforts. With his craggy profile and arcing bulbous nose, and rather stern visage (though it could as quickly break into a broad smile), he was right for many a memorable character. Hitchcock made sure of that first off by calling on him again to play the dour, suspicious, and miserly farmer, John Crofter, in The 39 Steps. Laurie became a good friend of another Shakespearean, Laurence Olivier, and the two, Olivier as a lead, were in Hungarian director/producer Paul Czinner's As You Like It. The year 1937 was a busy one, with six films, the most important giving him one of his few leading roles. This was director/screen writer Michael Powell's intriguing The Edge of the World, doubly important in that it was the film that sold Powell to producers like Alexander Korda. The film was shot on location on the remote Shetland isle of Foula, the furthest point of Britain. It dealt with the impact of the modern world on the lives of the inhabitants of an economically decaying island. Into 1938 and 1939 Laurie was involved in British experimental TV movies, that medium to be revisit later frequently. In 1939 he was taped by Alexander Korda for his classic film production of The Four Feathers in which Laurie, who could fit his Scots voice to any part, played the zealous Mahdi (the Khalifa). He is hardly to be recognized in character.
During the war Oliver was planning one of the important morale movies of World War II; his Henry V, and Laurie was asked to play a memorable Capt. Jamie. Olivier also called on him for his two other Shakespeare ventures: Hamlet and Richard III. As any good character actor, Laurie could play comedy as well and set a number of roles to that end into the 1940s. He and Roger Livesey were cast in Emeric Pressburger and Powell's first color film, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. And Laurie was a jubilant John Campbell in the Powell/Pressburger wonderful and thoughtful comedy of more insular Scots life, 'I Know Where I'm Going!' with a delightful young Wendy Hiller and worldly-wise Livesey.
Through the remainder of the decade and into the 1950s, Laurie's face showed up in a variety of films - with greater frequency as assorted Scotsmen-comedic an otherwise - and further down the credits list of supporting actors. He was familiar in the decade invasion to the UK of American co-productions, such as Disney's Treasure Island and Kidnapped. And he even trod the uncertain path of a few sci-fi films - that shall remain nameless here. But he was certainly always busy - when all told - the actor's foremost blessing. Television drama and series gave him better opportunities for a veteran actor, beginning with a Henry V where he played the comic role of Pistol. Along with some BBC TV theater (more Shakespeare and some American playhouse as well) and sporadic serials, he had a stint on the long-running BBC children's reading program "Jackanory". And he is probably best remembered as the dour James Frazer on the popular "Dad's Army" series (1968-1977). But one of his last and most touching performance was simply being his good-natured self - 80 years old but still a vibrant man with his Scots burr - when he accompanied Powell back to dramatically isolated Foula for the director's short documentary Return to the Edge of the World (included with the 2003 DVD release of the 1937 movie). There was a bit of staging by Powell. But Laurie's animated face was a picture of profound humanity, as - with a shade of theatrics when appropriate - he remembered the shoot and with sincere joy renewed acquaintances with the inhabitants, as if he himself had returned once more to his native heath. A bonnie old actor indeed!
Ian Hunter was born in the Kenilworth area of Cape Town, South Africa where he spent his childhood. In his teen years he and his parents returned to the family origins in England to live. Sometime between that arrival and the early years of World War I, Hunter began exploring acting. But in 1917 - and being only 17 - he joined the army to serve in France for the year of war still remaining. Within two years he did indeed make his stage-acting debut. Hunter would never forget that the stage was the thing when the lure of moving making called - he would always return through his career. With a jovial face perpetually on the verge of smiling and a friendly and mildly British accent, Hunter had good guy lead written all over him. He decided to sample the relatively young British silent film industry by taking a part in Not for Sale for British director W.P. Kellino who had started out writing and acting for the theater. Hunter then made his first trip to the U.S. - Broadway, not Hollywood - because Basil Dean, well known British actor, director, and producer, was producing Sheridan's "The School for Scandal" at the Knickerbocker Theater - unfortunately folding after one performance. It was a more concerted effort with film the next year back in Britain, again with Kellino. He then met up-and-coming mystery and suspense director Alfred Hitchcock in 1927. He did Hitch's The Ring - about the boxing game, not suspense - and stayed for the director's When Boys Leave Home. And with a few more films into the next year he was back with Hitchcock once more for Easy Virtue, the Noël Coward play. By late 1928 he returned to Broadway for only a months run in the original comedy "Olympia" but stayed on in America via his first connection with Hollywood. The film was Syncopation, his first sound film and that for RKO, that is, one of the early mono efforts, sound mix with the usual silent acting. As if restless to keep ever cycling back and forth across the Atlantic - fairly typical of Hunter's career - he returned to London for Dean's mono thriller Escape!. There was an interval of fifteen films in toto before Hunter returned to Hollywood and by then he was well established as a leading man. With The Girl from 10th Avenue with Bette Davis, Hunter made his connection with Warner Bros. But before settling in with them through much of the 1930s, he did three pictures in succession with another gifted and promising British director, Michael Powell. He then began the films he is most remembered from Hollywood's Golden Era. Although a small part, he is completely engaging and in command as the Duke in the Shakespearean extravaganza of Austrian theater master Max Reinhardt, A Midsummer Night's Dream for Warner's. It marked the start of a string of nearly thirty films for WB. Among the best remembered was his jovial King Richard in the rollicking The Adventures of Robin Hood. Hunter was playing the field as well - he was at Twentieth Century as everybody's favorite father-hero - including Shirley Temple - in the The Little Princess. And he was the unforgettable benign guardian angel-like Cambreau in Loew's Strange Cargo with Clark Gable. He was staying regularly busy in Hollywood until into 1942 when he returned to Britain to serve in the war effort. After the war Hunter stayed on in London, making films and doing stage work. He appeared once more on Broadway in 1948 and made Edward, My Son for George Cukor. Although there was some American playhouse theater in the mid-1950s, Hunter was bound to England, working once more for Powell in 1961 before retiring in the middle of that decade after nearly a hundred outings before the camera.
Adriana DeMeo was born in Brooklyn, New York by Italian immigrant parents. Her father, Luca, came over from a small country town in Italy in search of a better life with his parents and 7 of his brothers and sisters. Once Luca got started working a job mixing cement, he flew back to marry Adriana's mother, Antonietta. She was 17 years old. Adriana's first language was Italian until her mother started taking night classes to learn English after the family transferred to New Jersey. She and her family continually visit their close knit relatives in Italy to this day. Adriana grew up taking dance classes but when she entered Howell High School, a performing arts high school offering video, dance, and theatre, she bit the bullet and decided to audition for both dance and acting. She was accepted into both and was pushed by her mother and sister to take the dance program but her instinct told her to try out acting. During her time in this program, she played several leads including Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker as well as Puck in rock & roll version of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She was also 1 of 10 students in the state of NJ to be accepted into the acting intensive summer program called The Governor's School of The Arts. Adriana went on to study at Mason Gross School of the Arts @ Rutgers University with a demanding semester abroad at Shakespeare's Globe in London headed by Mark Rylance. Adriana booked her first role on Law & Order: Criminal Intent before she graduated college in 2003. Since then she has worked on various commercials, film, television, and theater including Terry Johnson's American premiere of "The Hitchcock Blonde", "Without A Trace", "30 Rock", 2015's Tribeca Film fest spotlight "The Wannabe" among others.
Nigel was, from the beginning, typecast as bumbling English aristocrats, military types or drawing room society snobs and, within the narrow parameters of his range, he was very, very good at playing these parts. Nigel Bruce was born in Mexico, where his father, Sir William W. Bruce, worked as an engineer. His family was part of English aristocracy, ever since Charles I. bestowed a baronetcy upon them in 1629 (William's older brother Michael held the hereditary title). Nigel was educated in England at Grange, Stevenage and Abingdon. His first job was at a stockbroker's firm. During World War I, he served in the British Army (like his future co-star, Basil Rathbone) where he received a serious leg wound and was for some time confined to a wheelchair.
Following his discharge, he turned to acting in 1919, but it wasn't until ten years later that he achieved a breakthrough in Noël Coward's 'This was a Man' on Broadway. Then followed the performance which was to set the standard for all his later work in Hollywood: the 1931 comedy "Springtime for Henry". On the strength of his performance as Johnny Jelliwell, Fox offered Nigel the opportunity to reprise his role in the 1934 movie. Soon after that, Nigel was cast to star as British detective Bertram Lynch in a minor thriller, Murder in Trinidad. The contemporary New York Times Review (May 16,1934) was skeptical about the film's merit, but found Nigel's performance 'compelling'. After that followed a gallery of endearingly stereotypical 'Britishers': Squire Trelawny in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island, the Prince of Wales in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Professor Holly in She and Sir Benjamin Warrenton in The Charge of the Light Brigade. All, without exception, were roles in which Nigel felt perfectly at home.
In 1939, he teamed up with Basil Rathbone for the first two Holmes/Watson movies, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, filmed at 20th Century Fox. Both films had an authentic period feel for Victorian England and the chemistry between the two stars was just right. Three years later, Rathbone was contractually obliged to make a further series of twelve Holmes pictures at Universal, again co-starring Nigel as Dr. Watson. Unfortunately, these films were incongruously set in the 1940's, often poorly written and irritatingly riddled with sermonizing wartime propaganda. Poor old Nigel had suddenly regressed from being 'my friend and colleague' to bumbling, feet shuffling comedy relief. In between filming the Sherlock Holmes series, Nigel portrayed his lovable self in two Hitchcock classics Rebecca (as Major Giles Lacy) and Suspicion (as 'Beaky').
A prominent member of the resident English colony in Hollywood, Nigel Bruce at one time captained the cricket club established by fellow actor and compatriot C. Aubrey Smith in 1932 (other members included P.G. Wodehouse, Boris Karloff, Ronald Colman and David Niven).
Tia Barr is a Classically trained Actress & TV Host, Graduate from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts~ Hollywood, CA. Tia Barr's diverse abilities have produced roles in everything from Son's Of Anarchy, Rich & Acquitted, Cold Dead Hand with Jim Carrey~ Daisy May, Annie Chapman in Alfred Hitchcock's murder mystery remake feature film The Lodger.
Shortly after Tia Barr was born on her grandmothers birthday March 20th in the famous surf town Santa Cruz, CA. her family relocated to Hawaii. At the age of 6 she started a professional modeling career appearing in Print Ad's, Live Runway Shows & Commercials. Everything in her life came to a halt when Tia along with her family were forced to escape from Hurricane Iniki, the most powerful hurricane in recorded history of Hawaii, leaving Tia's families house torn to pieces.
That didn't stop her from going after her dreams. Tia thrived on being in front of the camera & en-golfed a deep passion for the art. She started acting in theater & auditioning for television parts in Hawaii & California. As a teenager she worked as a Co-Host on the one-hour live TV show~Are We On Yet before graduating from Maui High School and then moved to LA at the age of 17 to train and perfect her craft by attending one of most prestigious acting college's, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood, CA. There she studied & learned from the top industry professionals, personal coaches & acting teachers. She continues to keep her "instrument" strong with vigorous workshops, training & a private acting coach.
Tia's athletic interests are just as diverse as the rest of her resume. She excels in numerous sports & skills like being a Licensed Motor-Cycle Driver, Licensed Cosmetologist, Does most of her own Stunts, Martial Arts, Boxing, Running, Mountain Biking, Precision Roller Skating, Surfing, & Weight Lifting. Tia's second biggest passion is traveling, she has traveled all around the world & is extremely well versed & knowledgeable about worldly events.
Tia Barr is currently living in Hollywood and is continuing to work hard to escalate her career to stardom an Actress & TV Host. She is very blessed to be working among other talented Actors, Writers, Directors, & Producers. Stay tuned for more of Tia Barr!
Mai Zetterling was born in Sweden in 1925, and lived briefly in Australia while still a child. She's known as a director and actor and trained on the Stockholm repertory stage, she began appearing in war-era films starting in her teens. Following her debut in Lasse Maja, she made quite an impact in the terminally dark Ingmar Bergman-written film Torment [known as Torment in the US and Frenzy in the UK], who went on to direct her in his Music in Darkness [Music in Darkness].
The international attention she received from her Bergman association led her to England where she debuted in the title role of Frieda, a war drama co-starring David Farrar, Glynis Johns and Flora Robson. Developing modest sex symbol success, she went on to co-star opposite a number of handsome leading men throughout the post-war years in primarily dramatic works, including Dennis Price in The Bad Lord Byron, Dirk Bogarde in Blackmailed, Herbert Lom in The Ringer, Richard Widmark in A Prize of Gold, Tyrone Power in Abandon Ship (which was a variation on Hitchcock's Lifeboat), John Gregson in Faces in the Dark, William Sylvester in The Devil Inside, and Stanley Baker in The Man Who Finally Died. Along the way she proved just as adaptable and sexy in smart comedy when she came between husband and wife Peter Sellers and Virginia Maskell in Only Two Can Play.
Mai abandoned acting in the mid-1960s and courted some controversy when she successfully began sitting in the director's chair. Divorced from Norwegian actor Tutte Lemkow in the early 1950s, she later wed writer David Hughes in 1958, who collaborated with her on a number of her directing ventures, which seemed ahead of their time. Obviously influenced by Bergman, the dark, sexy drama Loving Couples [Loving Couples] dealt with homosexual themes and featured nudity; Night Games [Night Games] revolved around sexual decadency and repression; and The Girls [The Girls], which had an all-star Swedish cast including Bibi Andersson and Harriet Andersson, expounded on women's liberation. She divorced her second husband in 1979. She had two children, Louis and Etienne, from her first marriage.
Toward the end of her life, Mai made a return to film acting and is best remembered at this late stage for her nurturing and resilient grandmother in the film The Witches wherein she is forced to tangle with a particularly virulent ringleader Anjelica Huston to save her grandson from her coven of hags. Mai died of cancer in 1994.
He was one of Hollywood's more interesting curiosities. Kent Smith, by most standards, had the makings of a topflight 40s and 50s film star -- handsome; virile; personable; highly dedicated; equipped with a rich stage background; no slouch in the talent department. For some reason all these fine qualities did not add up and stardom would remain elusive in a career that nevertheless covered almost five decades. Today, Smith's name and face has been almost completely forgotten. His solid body of work on stage, screen and TV certainly defies such treatment. Perhaps his looks weren't distinctive enough; perhaps he was overshadowed once too often by his more popular female screen stars; perhaps there was a certain lack of charisma or sex appeal for audiences to latch onto; perhaps a lack of ego or even an interest in being a "name" star. Whatever the reason, this purposeful lead and second lead's resumé deserves more than a passing glance.
Christened Frank Kent Smith, he was born in New York City on March 19, 1907, to a hotelier. An early experience in front of a crowd happened during childhood when he performed as an assistant to Blackstone the Magician. Kent graduated from boarding school (Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire) and attended Harvard University, finding theater work at various facilities during his time off. One such group, the University Players in West Falmouth, Massachusetts, produced such screen icons as James Stewart, Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan.
Kent made his theatrical debut in the short-lived play "Blind Window" at the Ford's Theatre in Baltimore in 1929 in a cast that also featured young hopeful Clark Gable. Taking his first Broadway curtain call in "Men Must Fight" in 1932, a steady flow of theater work came his way throughout the rest of the 30s in which he performed opposite some of the theater's finest grande dames -- Lillian Gish, Katharine Cornell, Jane Cowl, Blanche Yurka and Ethel Barrymore. He proved equally adept in both classic ("Caesar and Cleopatra," "Saint Joan," "A Doll's House") and contemporary settings ("Heat Lightning," "The Drums Begin").
Aside from an isolated appearance in The Garden Murder Case, Kent's film output didn't officially begin until 1942. RKO took an interest in the stage-trained actor and offered him a lead role in the low-budget horror classic Cat People as the husband of menacingly feline Simone Simon. He returned to his protagonist role in the lesser-received sequel The Curse of the Cat People. After a few more decent films, including Hitler's Children and This Land Is Mine, Kent joined the U.S. Army Air Force and appeared in several government training films during his service, which ended in 1944.
He came back to films without a hitch during the post-war years posting major credits in The Spiral Staircase, Magic Town , Nora Prentiss, My Foolish Heart and The Fountainhead, although he tended to pale next to his illustrious female stars -- Dorothy McGuire, Jane Wyman, Ann Sheridan, Susan Hayward and Patricia Neal. Normally a third wheel in romantic triangles or good friend/rival to the star, he never found the one big film role (or TV show) that could have put a marquee name to the face.
Kent fared better on stage and in the newer medium of TV in the 1950s. Among the highlights: he complimented Helen Hayes both in the video version of her stage triumph "Victoria Regina" and in her Broadway vehicle "The Wisteria Tree", which was based on Chekhov's "'The Cherry Orchard". He was also given praise for his strong stage performances in "The Wild Duck" and "The Autumn Garden", and appeared alongside Elaine Stritch in the national touring company of the musical "Call Me Madam". He was everywhere on TV, guesting on such popular shows as "Wagon Train", "Naked City", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "The Outer Limits" and "Peyton Place". In 1962, he replaced Melvyn Douglas in the national company of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man". Also in the cast was actress Edith Atwater. The couple married that same year. His first marriage to minor actress Betty Gillette ended earlier in divorce after 17 years and one daughter.
The remainder of Kent's career remained quite steady, if unremarkable, in both films and TV, lending able character support as assorted gray-haired authoritarians usually upstanding in reputation but certainly capable of shady dealings if called upon. The actor died at age 78 of heart disease in Woodland Hills, California, just outside of Los Angeles. His widow Edith died less than a year later of cancer.
Perhaps with such a common last name as "Smith", it was destined that he would spend a life time trying to stand out. Nevertheless, a career as rich and respectable as his was, and with a wide range of roles that included everything from battling evil cats to spouting Shakespeare at Stratford, true recognition and reconsideration is long overdue.
Peter Medak is an international Film Director. Born in Budapest, Hungary and fled to England at the age of 18 during the famous uprising against the communist regime. He immediately began his Film career with associated British Picture Corporation in Borehamwood. He studied and worked his way through by being an assistant editor, assistant cameraman and eventually a 3rd, 2nd and 1st assistant Director on some of the most remarkable British Films of the late 50's and early 6O's. He was fortunate enough to work with some of the most legendary British film Directors such as Sir Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Asquith, Fred Zimmerman and many others. He was signed in 1963 by Universal Studios in Hollywood where for the first six months he the chance to observe Alfred Hitchcock and many others. He started Directing television for the studio in Hollywood and in England. In 1967 He went under contract with Paramount Studios where he finally achieved his dream and directed his first feature film called:Negatives with Glenda Jackson in her first ever film. He then proceeded making two highly acclaimed black comedies:A day in the death of Joe Egg (starring Alan Bates and Janet Suzman) and The Ruling Class (Starring Peter O' Toole) for which he received An Academy Award Nomination. Since that time he has Directed a great number of Feature Films on both sides of The Atlantic starring Peter Sellers, Alan Bates, George C Scott, Richard Harris, Gary Oldman, Ted Danson and many more. In recent years he made The Krays which won him The Evening Standard Award for Best Director in England. Then he made: Let Him Have It, Romeo is Bleeding, The Men's Club etc etc. In addition, he has Directed a great number of Television plays, minis series, Films for Television, operas and stage productions over the past 50 years of his Directing career and continues today.
Handsome, rugged, and talented Italian-American actor Tony Musante was born on June 30, 1936 in Bridgeport, Connecticut to an accountant father and a school teacher mother. He attended both Northwestern University and Oberlin College. Tony worked as a school teacher prior to beginning his acting career in Off-Broadway theater in 1960. In 1962 Musante married his writer wife Jane Sparkes. He made his film debut in 1965 in "Once a Thief." Musante gave a chillingly believable and electrifying portrayal of nasty punk hoodlum Joe Ferrone in the harsh and hard-hitting "The Incident," a role which he had previously played in the hour long made-for-TV drama "Ride With Terror." Tony won a best actor award at the Mar del Plata Film Festival for his outstanding performance in "The Incident." Musante went on to act in a handful of features made in Italy; he was especially memorable as brash Mexican revolutionary Paco Roman in the superior spaghetti Western "The Mercenary" and as imperiled American writer Sam Dalmas in Dario Argento's masterful giallo murder mystery thriller "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage." In addition, Tony played more than his fair share of Mafiosa types: He was genuinely frightening as vicious hit man Paul Rickard in "The Last Run;" spot-on as smooth heel Eddie Hagan in Robert Aldrich's supremely gritty "The Grissom Gang;" excellent as Eric Roberts' mob-connected Uncle Pete in "The Pope of Greenwich Village;" and once again splendid as shrewd mob capo Nino Schibetta on the gritty cable TV prison drama "Oz." Musante had a starring role as real life chameleon-like New Jersey cop Dave Toma on the short-lived TV series "Toma." After Tony left the show due to creative differences with the producers, the program was changed to "Baretta" with Robert Blake in the lead. Among the TV shows Musante had guest spots on are "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "The Fugitive," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "The Rockford Files," "Medical Story" (Tony was nominated for an Emmy award for his performance in the episode "The Quality of Mercy"), "Police Story," "The Equalizer," "Night Heat," and "Nothing Sacred." Moreover, Tony had a recurring part on the popular daytime soap opera "As The World Turns." On stage Musante appeared in the Broadway productions of "P.S., Your Cat Is Dead!" (Tony was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his acting in this particular play), "A Memory of Two Mondays/27 Wagons Full of Cotton," and "The Lady from Dubuque." Musante died at age 77 on November 26, 2013 in New York City.
Saul Bass was born in New York City in 1920 and is a widely acclaimed graphic designer with a career spanning over 40 years. Among his most famous works are the title sequences for such classic films as The Man with the Golden Arm, North by Northwest, and Psycho. Bass used his innovative ideas and unique perspective of the world to influence his art, engaging his audiences and developing the graphic design industry in the process. Hitchcock's famous shower-murder scene in Psycho owes its success to the design work of Bass' storyboards. Bass' short documentary Why Man Creates was spotlighted on the premiere episode of 60 Minutes in 1968. He is also responsible for the logos of many prominent corporations like AT&T, United Airlines, and Dixie. Bass died in Los Angeles in 1996.
Jimmy Hawkins....Portrayed the son of some of Hollywood's most popular movie stars of the 40's (Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Greer Garson, Lana Turner & Jessica Tandy). Jimmy also has the distinction of playing Jimmy Stewart & Donna Reed's son, Tommy Bailey, in the Frank Capra film classic... "It's A Wonderful Life". In television, he starred as a Donald Ruggles in one of TV's first family sitcoms "The Charlie Ruggles Show" (abc'49-'52), Tagg Oakley on The Emmy nominated "Annie Oakley" series (cbs'53-'58), Jimmy was reunited with Donna Reed when he was signed to play Shelley Fabares' boyfriend, Scotty, for eight seasons on "The Donna Reed Show" (abc'58-'66)... four seasons on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, two years on Petticoat Junction, and "Ichabod and Me". He also appeared on "Leave It To Beaver", "Dennis The Menace", "Gidget", "My Three Sons", "Hitchcock Presents", "Red Skelton", "Lux Video Theatre" etc. He co-starred as Elvis Presley's sidekick in two MGM musicals, "Girl Happy" and "Spinout". He was invited by The USO & Department of Defense to entertain the troops in Viet Nam ('68) As a producer, Jimmy's credits include "Evel Knievel" (Major Motion Picture), " Don't Look Back"...The Satchel Paige Story (abc Theatre) which won him NAACP's Image Award... "Scouts Honor" (NBC MOW) starring Gary Coleman...which celebrated The 50th Anniversary of The Cub Scouts of America....Disney's "Love Leads The Way"(The Disney Channel)..."A Time For Miracles"...the Story of Mother Seton (abc Theatre). "Smart Cookies" based on his original story "Be Prepared" celebrated the 100th Anniversary of The Girl Scouts (The Hallmark Channel). He created the 3 hour NBC Emmy Award winning television special "The 50th Anniversary Motown Returns to the Apollo". Mr. Hawkins produced the PBS Television special all-star radio version celebrating It's A Wonderful Life's 50th Anniversary. Over the years he has helped raise millions of dollars for a variety of charities. He is the author of five popular It's A Wonderful Life books and sits on the Advisory Board of The Jimmy Stewart Museum and for 20 years served on the Board of Directors of the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts. Jimmy is celebrating over 50 years as a member of THE ACADEMY of MOTION PICTURE ARTS and SCIENCES.
Long-faced, emaciated-looking character actor with a thin mustache and an impeccable English accent, Anthony Dawson was typecast in a variety of villainous roles in the 1950s and 1960s.
He was born Anthony Douglas Gillon Dawson in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Ida Violet (Kittel) and Eric Francis Dawson. His father was Scottish and his mother was of German and English descent. Dawson made his greatest impact in the Alfred Hitchcock classic Dial M for Murder. He was excellent as Lesgate, seedy ex-Cambridge classmate of would-be wife murderer Wendice (Ray Milland). In the scene where Wendice blackmails him to commit the killing ("There were times I felt you belonged to me"), he is nervous and visibly torn between fear and avarice. Dawson gave similarly sinister performances in the thriller Midnight Lace, where he menaced hapless Doris Day, and the Terence Fisher-directed Hammer horror The Curse of the Werewolf as Count Siniestro. In another film by this director, the James Bond classic Dr. No, Dawson played the geologist Prof. R.J.Dent, a henchman of the title character who attempts to assassinate the hero, then finds out to his cost what Bond's "license to kill" really means.
Dawson was also the first screen incarnation of Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld (in From Russia with Love and Thunderball), though the viewer only sees his hands stroking a white cat and hears the voice of Austrian actor Eric Pohlmann. A highly capable, immediately recognizable actor, Dawson deserved better roles than came his way after the mid-1960s. He eventually ended up playing small parts in minor Italian films and European co-productions, but should not be confused with the Italian horror director Antonio Margheriti who sometimes used the pseudonym 'Anthomy M. Dawson'.
An interesting footnote to Dawson's career are his unpublished memoirs, "Rambling Recollections", in which he vividly recalls meeting Hitchcock after first arriving in Hollywood. This took place at a dinner party given by the director at Perino's Restaurant in Los Angeles. Also present were 'Dial M' co-stars Grace Kelly and English actor John Williams. Dawson later escorted Kelly to her residence at Chateau Marmont, an apartment bloc on Sunset Strip. Dawson then intimated that an affair took place, which, however lasted just until Ray Milland arrived on the scene.