Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Charles Howard Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries throughout Bale's childhood, including England, Portugal, and the United States. Bale acknowledges the constant change was one of the influences on his career choice.
His first acting job was a cereal commercial in 1983; amazingly, the next year, he debuted on the West End stage in "The Nerd". A role in the 1986 NBC mini-series Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna caught Steven Spielberg's eye, leading to Bale's well-documented role in Empire of the Sun. For the range of emotions he displayed as the star of the war epic, he earned a special award by the National Board of Review for Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor.
Adjusting to fame and his difficulties with attention (he thought about quitting acting early on), Bale appeared in Kenneth Branagh's 1989 adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V and starred as Jim Hawkins in a TV movie version of Treasure Island. Bale worked consistently through the 1990s, acting and singing in Newsies, Swing Kids, Little Women, The Portrait of a Lady, The Secret Agent, Metroland, Velvet Goldmine, All the Little Animals, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Toward the end of the decade, with the rise of the Internet, Bale found himself coming one of the most popular online celebrities around, though he, with a couple notable exceptions, maintained a private, tabloid-free mystique.
Bale roared into the next decade with a lead role in American Psycho, director Mary Harron's adaptation of the controversial Bret Easton Ellis novel. In the film, Bale played a murderous Wall Street executive obsessed with his own physicality - a trait for which Bale would become a specialist. Subsequently, the 10th Anniversary issue for "Entertainment Weekly" crowned Bale one of the "Top 8 Most Powerful Cult Figures" of the past decade, citing his cult status on the Internet. EW also called Bale one of the "Most Creative People in Entertainment", and "Premiere" lauded him as one of the "Hottest Leading Men Under 30".
Bale was truly on the Hollywood radar at this time, and he turned in a range of performances in the remake Shaft, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the balmy Laurel Canyon, and Reign of Fire, a dragons-and-magic commercial misfire that has its share of defenders.
Two more cult films followed: Equilibrium and The Machinist, the latter of which gained attention mainly due to Bale's physical transformation - he dropped a reported 60+ pounds for the role of a lathe operator with a secret that causes him to suffer from insomnia for over a year.
Bale's abilities to transform his body and to disappear into a character influenced the decision to cast him in Batman Begins, the first chapter in Christopher Nolan's definitive trilogy that proved a dark-themed narrative could resonate with audiences worldwide. The film also resurrected a character that had been shelved by Warner Bros. after a series of demising returns, capped off by Batman and Robin's massive commercial and critical failure. A quiet, personal victory for Bale: he accepted the role after the passing of his father in late 2003, an event that caused him to question whether he would continue performing.
Bale segued into two indie features in the wake of Batman's phenomenal success: The New World and Harsh Times. He continued working with respected independent directors in 2006's Rescue Dawn, Werner Herzog's feature version of his earlier, Emmy-nominated documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Leading up to the second Batman film, Bale starred in The Prestige, the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, and a reunion with director Todd Haynes in the experimental Bob Dylan biography, I'm Not There..
Anticipation for The Dark Knight was spun into unexpected heights with the tragic passing of Heath Ledger, whose performance as The Joker became the highlight of the sequel. Bale's graceful statements to the press reminded us of the days of the refined Hollywood star as the second installment exceeded the box-office performance of its predecessor.
Bale's next role was the eyebrow-raising decision to take over the role of John Connor in the Schwarzenegger-less Terminator Salvation, followed by a turn as federal agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann's Public Enemies. Both films were hits but not the blockbusters they were expected to be.
For all his acclaim and box-office triumphs, Bale would earn his first Oscar in 2011 in the wake of The Fighter's critical and commercial success. Bale earned the Best Supporting Actor award for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund, brother to and trainer of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg. Bale again showed his ability to reshape his body with another gaunt, skeletal transformation.
Bale then turned to another auteur, Yimou Zhang, for the epic The Flowers of War, in which Bale portrayed a priest trapped in the midst of the Rape of Nanking. Bale earned headlines for his attempt to visit with Chinese civil-rights activist Chen Guangcheng, which was blocked by the Chinese government.
Most recently, Bale capped his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Dark Knight Rises; in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado tragedy, Bale made a quiet pilgrimage to the state to visit with survivors of the attack that left theatergoers dead and injured. He also starred in the thriller Out of the Furnace with Crazy Heart writer/director Scott Cooper, and the drama-comedy American Hustle, reuniting with David O. Russell.
In his personal life, he devotes time to charities including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Foundation. He lives with his wife, Sibi Blazic, and their daughter, Emmeline.
Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear story-telling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of film-making, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made.
At 7 years old, Nolan began making short movies with his father's Super-8 camera. While studying English Literature at University College London, he shot 16-millimetre films at U.C.L.'s film society, where he learned the guerrilla techniques he would later use to make his first feature, Following, on a budget of around $6,000. The noir thriller was recognized at a number of international film festivals prior to its theatrical release, and gained Nolan enough credibility that he was able to gather substantial financing for his next film.
Nolan's second film was Memento, which he directed from his own screenplay based on a short story by his brother Jonathan. Starring Guy Pearce, the film brought Nolan numerous honors, including Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay. Nolan went on to direct the critically acclaimed psychological thriller, Insomnia, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.
The turning point in Nolan's career occurred when he was awarded the chance to revive the Batman franchise in 2005. In Batman Begins, Nolan brought a level of gravitas back to the iconic hero, and his gritty, modern interpretation was greeted with praise from fans and critics alike. Before moving on to a Batman sequel, Nolan directed, cowrote and produced the mystery thriller The Prestige, starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as magicians whose obsessive rivalry leads to tragedy and murder.
In 2008, Nolan directed, cowrote, and produced The Dark Knight which went on to gross more than a billion dollars at the world-wide box office. Nolan was nominated for a Directors Guild of America (D.G.A.) Award, Writers Guild of America (W.G.A.) Award and Producers Guild of America (P.G.A.) Award, and the film also received eight Academy Award nominations.
In 2010, Nolan captivated audiences with sci-fi thriller Inception, which he directed and produced from his own original screenplay. The thought-provoking drama was a world-wide blockbuster, earning more than $800,000,000 dollars and becoming one of the most discussed and debated films of the year. Among its many honors, Inception received four Academy Awards and eight nominations, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Nolan was recognized by his peers with D.G.A. and P.G.A. Award nominations, as well as a W.G.A. Award win for his work on the film.
One of the best-reviewed and highest-grossing movies of 2012, The Dark Knight Rises concluded Nolan's Batman trilogy. Due to his success rebooting the Batman character, Warner Bros. enlisted Nolan to produce their revamped Superman movie Man of Steel, which opened in the Summer of 2013.
Nolan currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, producer Emma Thomas, and their children. Nolan and Thomas also have their own production company, Syncopy.
Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, USA, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are now divorced. Ben has a younger brother, actor Casey Affleck, who was born in 1975. He is mostly of English, Irish, German, and Scottish ancestry. His middle name, "Géza", is after a family friend.
Affleck wanted to be an actor ever since he could remember and his first acting experience was for a Burger King commercial, when he was on the PBS mini-series The Voyage of the Mimi. It was also at that age when Ben met his lifelong friend and fellow actor, Matt Damon. They played little league together and took drama classes together. Ben's teen years consisted of mainly TV movies and small television appearances including Hands of a Stranger and The Second Voyage of the Mimi. He made his big introduction into feature films in 1993 when he was cast in Dazed and Confused. After that, he did mostly independent films like Kevin Smith's Mallrats and Chasing Amy which were great for Ben's career, receiving renowned appreciation for his works at the Sundance film festival. But the success he was having in independent films didn't last much longer and things got a little shaky for Ben. He was living in an apartment with his brother Casey and friend Matt, getting tired of being turned down for the big roles in films and being given the forgettable supporting ones. Since Matt was having the same trouble, they decided to write their own script, where they could call all the shots. So, after finishing the script for Good Will Hunting, they gave it to their agent Patrick Whitesell, who showed it to a few Hollywood studios, finally being accepted by Castlerock. It was great news for the two but Castlerock wasn't willing to give Ben and Matt the control over the project they were hoping for. It was friend Kevin Smith who took it to the head of Miramax who bought the script giving Ben and Matt the control they wanted and, in December 5, 1997, Good Will Hunting was released, making the two unknown actors famous. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won two, including Best Original Screenplay for Ben and Matt. The film marked Ben's breakthrough role, in which he was given for the first time the chance to choose roles instead of having to go through grueling auditions constantly. He chose such roles in the blockbusters Armageddon, Shakespeare in Love and Pearl Harbor.
In the early years of the 2000s, Affleck also starred in the box office hits Changing Lanes, The Sum of All Fears, and Daredevil, as well as the disappointing comedies Gigli and Surviving Christmas. In the several years following, he played supporting roles, including in the films Smokin' Aces, He's Just Not That Into You, State of Play (2009)_, and Extract. He ventured into directing in 2007, with the thriller Gone Baby Gone, which starred his brother, Casey Affleck. Ben followed up by starring in, and helming, the hit thrillers The Town and Argo, the latter of which won an Academy Award for Best Picture (Affleck was also one of the film's producers).
Affleck married actress Jennifer Garner in 2005. The couple has three children.
Striking Irish actor Cillian Murphy was born in Douglas, the oldest child of Brendan Murphy, who works for the Irish Department of Education, and a mother who is a teacher of French. He has three younger siblings. Murphy was educated at Presentation Brothers College, Cork. He went on to study law at University College Cork, but dropped out after about a year. During this time Murphy also pursued an interest in music, playing guitar in various bands. Upon leaving University, Murphy joined the Corcadorca Theater Company in Cork, and played the lead role in "Disco Pigs", amongst other plays.
Various film roles followed, including a film adaptation of Disco Pigs. However, his big film break came when he was cast in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later..., which became a surprise international hit. This performance earned him nominations for Best Newcomer at the Empire Awards and Breakthrough Male Performance at the MTV Movie Awards.
Murphy went on to supporting roles in high-profile films such as Cold Mountain and Girl with a Pearl Earring, and then was cast in two villain roles: Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow, in Batman Begins and Jackson Rippner in Red Eye. Although slight in nature for a villain, Murphy's piercing blue eyes helped to create creepy performances and critics began to take notice. Manhola Dargis of the New York Times cited Murphy as a "picture-perfect villain", while David Denby of The New Yorker noted he was both "seductive" and "sinister".
Later that year, Murphy starred as Patrick "Kitten" Braden, an Irish transgender in search of her mother, in Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto, a film adaptation of the Pat McCabe novel. Although the film was not a box office success, Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and he won Best Actor for the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards.
The following year, Murphy starred in Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley. The film was the most successful independent Irish film and won the Palm D'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Murphy continued to take roles in a number of independent films, and also reprised his role as the Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. Nolan is known for working with actors in multiple films, and cast Murphy in Inception, as Robert Fischer, the young heir of the multi-billion dollar empire, who was the target of DiCaprio's dream team.
Murphy is married to Yvonne McGuinness, an artist. The couple has two sons, Malachy and Carrick.
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney, a former anchorman and game show host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney spent most of this youth in Ohio and Kentucky, and graduated from Augusta High School. He was very active in sports such as basketball and baseball, and tried out for the Cincinatti Reds, but was not offered a contract.
After his cousin, Miguel Ferrer, got him a small part in a feature film, Clooney began to pursue acting. His first major role was on the sitcom E/R as "Ace", an orderly. More roles soon followed, including "George Burnett", the handsome handyman on The Facts of Life; "Booker Brooks", a supervisor on Roseanne; and "Detective James Falconer" on Sisters. Clooney had his breakthrough when he was cast as "Dr. Doug Ross" on the award-winning drama series, ER, opposite Anthony Edwards, Noah Wyle, and Julianna Margulies.
While filming "ER", Clooney starred in a number of high profile film roles, such as Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn, and One Fine Day, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer. In 1997, Clooney took on the role of "Batman" in Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin. The film was a moderate success in the box office, but was slammed by critics, notably for the nipple-laden Bat suit. Clooney went on to star in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight, Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, and David O. Russell's Three Kings.
In 1999, Clooney left "ER" (though he would return for the season finale) and appeared in a number of films, including O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Perfect Storm, and Ocean's Eleven. Collaborating once again with Steven Soderbergh, "Ocean's Eleven" received critical acclaim, earned more than $450 million at the box office, and spawned two sequels: Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.
In 2002, Clooney made his directorial debut with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, an adaptation of TV producer Chuck Barris's autobiography. This was the first film under the banner of "Section Eight Productions", a production company he founded with Steven Soderbergh. The company also produced many acclaimed films, including Far from Heaven, Syriana, A Scanner Darkly, and Good Night, and Good Luck.. Clooney won his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in "Syriana", and was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for "Good Night, and Good Luck".
In 2006, "Section Eight" was shut down so that Soderbergh could concentrate on directing, and Clooney founded a new production company, "Smokehouse Productions", with his friend and long-time business partner, Grant Heslov.
Clooney went on to produce and star in Michael Clayton (which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor), directed and starred in Leatherheads, and took leading roles in Burn After Reading, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Jason Reitman's Up in the Air. Clooney received critical acclaim for his performance in "Up in the Air" and was nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globe and Academy Award. He didn't win that year, but took home both Best Actor awards (as well as countless nominations) for his role as a father who finds out his wife was unfaithful as she lay in a coma in Alexander Payne's The Descendants. Throughout his career, Clooney has been heralded for his political activism and humanitarian work. He has served as one of the "United Nations Messengers of Peace" since 2008, has been an advocate for the Darfur conflict, and organized the "Hope for Haiti" telethon, to raise money for the victims of the 2010 earthquake. In March of 2012, Clooney was arrested for civil disobedience while protesting at the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C.
Clooney was married to actress Talia Balsam, from 1989 until 1993. After their divorce, he swore he would never marry again. Michelle Pfeiffer and Nicole Kidman bet him $10,000 that he would have children by the age of 40, and sent him a check shortly after his birthday. Clooney returned the funds and bet double or nothing he wouldn't have children by the age of 50. Although he has remained a consummate bachelor, Clooney has had many highly publicized relationships, including with former WWE wrestler Stacy Keibler. In 2014, he married lawyer and activist Amal Alamuddin.
Born two months premature at four pounds, Kate Noelle Holmes made her first appearance on December 18, 1978, in Toledo, Ohio. She is the daughter of Kathleen Ann (Craft), a philanthropist, and Martin Joseph Holmes, Sr., a lawyer. Her parents have said that her strong-willed personality is probably from being born premature. Being the youngest in the Holmes clan, completing the family of three other sisters and one brother, Katie was always the baby. She is of German, Irish, and English ancestry. As a teenager, she began attending modeling school. When she was sixteen, her teacher invited her to go to a modeling competition with other girls from her class. She competed in the International Modeling and Talent Association by singing, dancing, and reciting a monologue from To Kill a Mockingbird. By the end of that time in New York, Katie won many awards. But she said she didn't want to model because it wasn't challenging enough. So when she was seventeen, Katie went to Los Angeles to audition for movies. Luckily, on her second audition, she was cast in the movie, The Ice Storm, directed by Ang Lee. Katie's character was Libbets Casey, a rich New Yorker, who is pursued by two of the main characters. It was a small part, but it marked the beginning of her professional acting career. After the excitement of her first movie, Katie began sending in audition tapes for pilot shows. During that time, she was also starring in her all-girls Catholic high school musical, Damn Yankees, as Lola. After Kevin Williamson received her audition tape for his new show, Dawson's Creek, the producers wanted her to come to Hollywood right away and read live for them. But because they wanted her to come on the opening night for Damn Yankees, Katie had to tell them she couldn't make it. Fortunately, the show's producers wanted her so much for that role, they rescheduled her callback and the result was she got the part as Joey Potter. During her first year with Dawson's Creek, Katie was able to do two movies, Disturbing Behavior and Go, and, for the former, she won Best Breakthrough Female Performance in the 1999 MTV Movie Awards. The following year, she starred next to Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys, playing Hannah Green, a published author and a boarder at her teacher's (Douglas) house, who has a crush on him, and tries to seduce him. Her first leading role came in 2002, with Abandon. She played a college student named Katie Burke, who is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her boyfriend who vanished two years prior. With Dawson's Creek coming to a close after six years in May of 2003, it was a bittersweet thing for all the cast. Accustomed to being in North Carolina filming ten months out of a year, the cast members now had the opportunity to make more movies. Katie demonstrated this in October, when she had two new movies, Pieces of April and The Singing Detective, coming out in that month alone. Pieces of April is a charming Thanksgiving movie about April (Holmes), the black sheep of her family, who wants to give her family the perfect dinner before her mother passes on. The Singing Detective is a dark musical where the main character (Robert Downey Jr.) is a writer in a hospital for skin conditions who writes a dark world of seduction and murder in his mind. Katie Holmes plays the kind Nurse Mills who tends to his every need. She also gets to lip sync and dance in this movie. In 2004, she starred in the romantic movie First Daughter, in which she played the President's (Michael Keaton) daughter, Samantha, who wants to go to college without any Secret Service tagging along. In 2005, Holmes co-starred in Batman Begins, where she played Rachel Dawes, a childhood sweetheart and love interest to Batman/Bruce Wayne.
Val Kilmer was born in Los Angeles, to Gladys (Ekstadt) and Eugene Kilmer, a real estate developer and aerospace equipment distributor. His mother, born in Indiana, was from a Swedish family, and his father was from Texas. Val studied at Hollywood's Professional's School and, in his teens, entered Juilliard's drama program. His professional acting career began on stage, and he still participates in theater; he played Hamlet at the 1988 Colorado Shakespeare Festival. His film debut was in the 1984 spoof Top Secret!, wherein he starred as blond rock idol Nick Rivers. He was in a number of films throughout the 1980s, including the 1986 smash Top Gun. Despite his obvious talent and range, it wasn't until his astonishingly believable performance as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors that the world sat up and took notice. Kilmer again put his good baritone to use in the movie, performing all of the concert pieces. Since then, he has played two more American legends, Elvis Presley in True Romance and Doc Holliday in Tombstone. In July 1994, it was announced that Kilmer would be taking over the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Michael Keaton.
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born in June 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman attended Los Angeles City College before serving several years in the US Air Force as a mechanic between 1955 and 1959. His first dramatic arts exposure was on the stage including appearing in an all-African American production of the exuberant musical Hello, Dolly!.
Throughout the 1970s, he continued his work on stage, winning Drama Desk and Clarence Derwent Awards and receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance in The Mighty Gents in 1978. In 1980, he won two Obie Awards, for his portrayal of Shakespearean anti-hero Coriolanus at the New York Shakespeare Festival and for his work in Mother Courage and Her Children. Freeman won another Obie in 1984 for his performance as The Messenger in the acclaimed Brooklyn Academy of Music production of Lee Breuer's The Gospel at Colonus and, in 1985, won the Drama-Logue Award for the same role. In 1987, Freeman created the role of Hoke Coleburn in Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Driving Miss Daisy, which brought him his fourth Obie Award. In 1990, Freeman starred as Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival's The Taming of the Shrew, opposite Tracey Ullman. Returning to the Broadway stage in 2008, Freeman starred with Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in Clifford Odets' drama The Country Girl, directed by Mike Nichols.
Freeman first appeared on TV screens as several characters including "Easy Reader", "Mel Mounds" and "Count Dracula" on the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) show The Electric Company. He then moved into feature film with another children's adventure, Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow!. Next, there was a small role in the thriller Blade; then he played Casca in Julius Caesar and the title role in Coriolanus. Regular work was coming in for the talented Freeman and he appeared in the prison dramas Attica and Brubaker, Eyewitness, and portrayed the final 24 hours of slain Malcolm X in Death of a Prophet. For most of the 1980s, Freeman continued to contribute decent enough performances in films that fluctuated in their quality. However, he really stood out, scoring an Oscar nomination as a merciless hoodlum in Street Smart and, then, he dazzled audiences and pulled a second Oscar nomination in the film version of Driving Miss Daisy opposite Jessica Tandy. The same year, Freeman teamed up with youthful Matthew Broderick and fiery Denzel Washington in the epic Civil War drama Glory about freed slaves being recruited to form the first all-African American fighting brigade.
His star continued to rise, and the 1990s kicked off strongly with roles in The Bonfire of the Vanities, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and The Power of One. Freeman's next role was as gunman Ned Logan, wooed out of retirement by friend William Munny to avenge several prostitutes in the wild west town of Big Whiskey in Clint Eastwood's de-mythologized western Unforgiven. The film was a sh and scored an acting Oscar for Gene Hackman, a directing Oscar for Eastwood, and the Oscar for best picture. In 1993, Freeman made his directorial debut on Bopha! and soon after formed his production company, Revelations Entertainment.
More strong scripts came in, and Freeman was back behind bars depicting a knowledgeable inmate (and obtaining his third Oscar nomination), befriending falsely accused banker Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. He was then back out hunting a religious serial killer in Se7en, starred alongside Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction, and was pursuing another serial murderer in Kiss the Girls.
Further praise followed for his role in the slave tale of Amistad, he was a worried US President facing Armageddon from above in Deep Impact, appeared in Neil LaBute's black comedy Nurse Betty, and reprised his role as Alex Cross in Along Came a Spider. Now highly popular, he was much in demand with cinema audiences, and he co-starred in the terrorist drama The Sum of All Fears, was a military officer in the Stephen King-inspired Dreamcatcher, gave divine guidance as God to Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty, and played a minor role in the comedy The Big Bounce.
2005 was a huge year for Freeman. First, he he teamed up with good friend Clint Eastwood to appear in the drama, Million Dollar Baby. Freeman's on-screen performance is simply world-class as ex-prize fighter Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris, who works in a run-down boxing gym alongside grizzled trainer Frankie Dunn, as the two work together to hone the skills of never-say-die female boxer Hilary Swank. Freeman received his fourth Oscar nomination and, finally, impressed the Academy's judges enough to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. He also narrated Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds and appeared in Batman Begins as Lucius Fox, a valuable ally of Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman for director Christopher Nolan. Freeman would reprise his role in the two sequels of the record-breaking, genre-redefining trilogy.
Roles in tentpoles and indies followed; highlights include his role as a crime boss in Lucky Number Slevin, a second go-round as God in Evan Almighty with Steve Carell taking over for Jim Carrey, and a supporting role in Ben Affleck's directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. He co-starred with Jack Nicholson in the breakout hit The Bucket List in 2007, and followed that up with another box-office success, Wanted, then segued into the second Batman film, The Dark Knight.
In 2009, he reunited with Eastwood to star in the director's true-life drama Invictus, on which Freeman also served as an executive producer. For his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the film, Freeman garnered Oscar, Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award nominations, and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor.
Recently, Freeman appeared in RED, a surprise box-office hit; he narrated the Conan the Barbarian remake, starred in Rob Reiner's The Magic of Belle Isle; and capped the Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. Freeman has several films upcoming, including the thriller Now You See Me, under the direction of Louis Leterrier, and the science fiction actioner Oblivion, in which he stars with Tom Cruise.
Alicia Silverstone was born on October 4, 1976 in San Francisco, California, the youngest of three children. She is the daughter of Didi (Radford), a former flight attendant, and Monty Silverstone, a real-estate investor. Her English-born father is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, while her Scottish-born mother converted to Judaism. Alicia's career began at the tender age of six, when her father took some photos of his young daughter, which eventually led to her getting several television commercials. After a guest spot on The Wonder Years as a literal "dream girl", she moved on to movies. She landed a role in The Crush, a sort of Fatal Attraction for teenagers in which she portrayed a disturbed young girl obsessed with an older man. The nasty little role did not impress the critical establishment but it wowed its target audience: teenagers. In fact, the role won her the 1994 MTV Movie Award for "Best Villain" and "Breakthrough Performance". It is interesting to note that during the filming of the movie, Alicia became an emancipated minor in order to get around child labor laws which would have interfered with her working hours. She was a dedicated actress from early on.
The film also caught the attention of Aerosmith, who hired her to appear in a string of their music videos. The first of them, "Cryin'", was voted the #1 video of all time on MTV. Silverstone was definitely a hit with the MTV crowd, but larger commercial success still eluded her. That all changed when she landed the role of Cher in Amy Heckerling's Clueless. Cher was the antithesis of Alicia's role in The Crush; this time around, she was a rich, naive yet endearing girl from Beverly Hills in search of love in the 1990s. The film was a huge box-office hit and wowed both audiences and critics alike and demonstrated Alicia's strength and bankability. She was hailed as the woman of the hour, and branded the spokeswoman for an emerging young generation. She signed a deal with Columbia TriStar worth $10 million and got the coveted role of Batgirl in the Batman franchise. Also, as part of the package, she got a three-year first-look deal for her own production company, First Kiss Productions. The first film released by First Kiss was Excess Baggage.
Ben McKenzie was born Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan in Austin, Texas on September 12, 1978, to Mary Frances (Victory), a poet, and Pieter Meade Schenkkan, an attorney. His uncle is playwright Robert Schenkkan. Ben is of Dutch Jewish (from his paternal grandfather), English, and Scottish descent. He attended Austin High School, and played wide receiver and defensive back for the school's football team. From 1997-2001, he attended the University of Virginia, where he majored in Foreign Affairs and Economics.
McKenzie got into acting during his first few years at the University of Virginia, where he appeared in "Measure for Measure" and "Zoo Story." After graduation he moved to New York and appeared off-Broadway in "Life is a Dream" at the SoHo Rep. Additionally, he performed in numerous productions at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, including "Street Scene" and "The Blue Bird." He relocated to Los Angeles in late 2001. His early TV appearances included roles on The District, JAG and Mad TV.
In 2003, FOX premiered the television series The O.C., about affluent teenagers with stormy personal lives who reside in scenic Orange County, California. The show became an overnight success and it put McKenzie on the map as Ryan Atwood.
While appearing in 'The O.C.', McKenzie made his feature film debut in 'Junebug' opposite Amy Adams. The film received high praise at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. He also appeared in a pivotal role in the 2007 film '88 Minutes', which starred Al Pacino. McKenzie's first starring role in a feature film was in the 2008 indie release 'Johnny Got His Gun.' The movie premiered at the Paramount Theater in Austin, TX, McKenzie's hometown, prior to playing art houses where it garnered excellent reviews for his solo performance.
April 9, 2009 NBC replaced the long-running series 'E.R.' after 15 years with a new cop drama, Southland, starring McKenzie as rookie police officer Ben Sherman.
McKenzie is playing Jim Gordon in the Batman-themed series Gotham, beginning in September 2014.
One of Hollywood's edgier, more intriguing characters running around and about for decades, Eric Anthony Roberts started life in Biloxi, Mississippi. He is the son of Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights. His siblings are actors Lisa Roberts Gillan and Julia Roberts, and he grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He began his acting career at age 5 in a local theater company called the "Actors and Writers Workshop", founded by his late father. After his schooling at Grady High, he studied drama at age 17 in London for two years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, then returned to the States and continued his studies at the American Academy in New York. He made his NY stage debut in "Rebel Women" in 1976 at age 20 and appeared in regional productions, once playing the newspaper boy in a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" starring Shirley Knight and Glenn Close.
After appearing in such daytime soaps as Another World and How to Survive a Marriage, his career began to shift fast forward when he copped a leading role in a major film. In King of the Gypsies, based on Peter Maas' best-seller about a fracturing dynasty of New York City gypsies, he made his debut alongside an intimidating roster of stars including Judd Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, Shelley Winters and Sterling Hayden. Young Eric held his own expertly (winning a Golden Globe nomination) while his burning intensity and brooding charm marked sure signs of star potential. After this, he won the lead opposite Milo O'Shea in the 1980 stage production of "Mass Appeal". He suffered serious injuries in a car accident during his nascent film career but lost no fans by the time he returned to co-star with Sissy Spacek as a small-town stranger in Raggedy Man. It was, however, his stark and frightening portrayal of two-bit hustler Paul Snider, the cast-off boyfriend who slays Playmate-turned-movie starlet Dorothy Stratten (played by Mariel Hemingway) in Star 80 that really put him on the movie map and earned him a second Golden Globe nomination. A wide range of fascinating, whacked-out roles were immediately offered to him on a silver plate. He played another dangerous streetwise hustler type in The Pope of Greenwich Village opposite fellow rebel Mickey Rourke; a cocky soda pop sales exec in the Australian comedy The Coca-Cola Kid; appeared with more charm and restraint opposite Rosanna Arquette in the offbeat romantic comedy Nobody's Fool and topped his prolific period off with an Academy Award nomination as a young prison escapee hiding out with Jon Voight aboard an out-of-control train in the ultra-violent, character-driven action adventure Runaway Train. Good things continued to happen when he was a replacement lead in the original run of "Burn This" and won a Theatre World Award for his 1988 Broadway debut.
A risky, no-holds-barred actor, he was often guilty of overacting if given half the chance. His film career began to slide in the late 1980s, appearing in more quantity than quality pictures. A series of missteps led to unheralded appearances in such bombs as the karate-themed Best of the Best; the NY urban thriller The Ambulance; the action western Blood Red, which took three years to release and is the only film Eric and his sister Julia Roberts appeared in together; and Rude Awakening when he filled in as a burned-out hippie opposite a Chong-less Cheech Marin. More under appreciated "B" filming came with the 1990s (Freefall, Sensation, The Nature of the Beast, etc.), while also chewing the scenery with a number of mobster types in TV-movies, including one as "Al Capone". He soon began appearing as flashy secondary villains and creepies that showcased other stars instead, such as Final Analysis starring Richard Gere, Heaven's Prisoners top lining Alec Baldwin, and The Dark Knight, part of the "Batman" series with Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger.
Eric's undeniable, unconventional talent would occasionally mesh with the perfect role. At the Sundance Film Festival in 1996, he received critical applause for his starring role as a man dying of AIDS in the uplifting and emotional film It's My Party and earned more honors as a writer marked for murder in the mob-themed story La Cucaracha. He was also perfectly cast as one of the cold-blooded killers in the Emmy-nominated TV adaptation of Truman Capote's chiller In Cold Blood. Eric continued to appear sporadically on TV in such dramatic series as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, while sometimes showing a fun side as well in comedy (The King of Queens). His own series work included Less Than Perfect and, more recently, and in the cult program Heroes where promise for a longer participation ended with his character's death.
Recovered from a long-standing cocaine problem, Eric wed, for the first time, actress/writer Eliza Roberts (nee Garrett). They have appeared in such films as Killer Weekend and Final Approach. His daughter from a former relationship, Emma Roberts, is a newly popular and fast-rising "tween" actress from the series Unfabulous and has played youthful super-sleuth Nancy Drew on film. Eric's unpredictable, volatile nature which works so mesmerizing on screen has also led to troubling times off camera; his relationship with younger sis Julia Roberts has been seriously strained for quite some time.
Zachary Edward "Zack" Snyder (born March 1, 1966) is an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter, best known for action and science fiction films. Snyder made his feature film debut with the 2004 remake Dawn of the Dead and has gone on to be known for his comic book movies and superhero films, including 300 (2007), Watchmen (2009), Man of Steel (2013) and its upcoming sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Snyder is the co-founder of Cruel and Unusual Films, a production company he established in 2004, alongside his wife Deborah Snyder and producing partner Wesley Coller.
Sean Pertwee was born into a theatrical dynasty of actors. After training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Sean began his acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, most notably starring in Titus Andronicus directed by Deborah Warner.
After touring for 3 years Sean continued his classical training by playing Julius Caesar for the BBC and Macbeth for Michael Bogdanov's production for C4 films. Since then, he has become instantly recognisable for both his film and television work.
On Film Sean began on Jo Orton's biopic Prick up your Ears and went on to appear in Paul Anderson's Shopping, playing opposite Jude Law. Followed by performances in Event Horizon, Soldier, Doomsday, Love Honour and Obey, and the lead role in Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers. Other notable film credits include Deadly Voyage, Wild Bill, Blue Juice where Sean played opposite Catherine Zeta Jones and Ewan Mcgregor and 51st State with Samuel L Jackson and Robert Carlyle. Most recently Sean played opposite Steve Coogan in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa,
Sean's extensive TV work saw him recently play the iconic role of Lestrade, in the CBS show Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller. He has also starred in The Musketeers, Poirot, the award winning Luther, and had a recurring role in the hugely popular Cold Feet with James Nesbit. Sean's other TV credits include Skins, Body Guards, Jo with Jean Reno, Chancer, The Young Indiana Jones, Clarrisa with Sean Bean and Camelot with Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green.
Sean is set to appear as a lead role, Alfred Pennyworth the unflappable butler, in the new Warner Bros. series of Gotham, which follows the story behind Commissioner James Gordon's rise to prominence in Gotham City in the years before Batman's arrival. Sean is a popular voiceover artist and he can frequently be heard voicing documentaries, animated films, commercials, TV series and video games including Fable, Killzone and Assassins Creed .
As Danny Elfman was growing up in the Los Angeles area, he was largely unaware of his talent for composing. It wasn't until the early 1970s that Danny and his older brother Richard Elfman started a musical troupe while in Paris; the group "Mystic Knights of Oingo-Boingo" was created for Richard's directorial debut, Forbidden Zone (now considered a cult classic by Elfman fans). The group's name went through many incarnations over the years, beginning with "The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo" and eventually just Oingo Boingo. While continuing to compose eclectic, intelligent rock music for his L.A.-based band (some of which had been used in various film soundtracks, e.g. Weird Science), Danny formed a friendship with young director Tim Burton, who was then a fan of Oingo Boingo. Danny went on to score the soundtrack of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Danny's first orchestral film score. The Elfman-Burton partnership continued (most notably through the hugely-successful "Batman" flicks) and opened doors of opportunity for Danny, who has been referred to as "Hollywood's hottest film composer".
Bruce Lee remains the greatest icon of martial arts cinema and a key figure of modern popular media. Had it not been for Bruce Lee and his movies in the early 1970s, it's arguable whether or not the martial arts film genre would have ever penetrated and influenced mainstream North American and European cinema and audiences the way it has over the past four decades.
The influence of East Asian martial arts cinema can be seen today in so many other film genres including comedies, action, drama, science fiction, horror and animation.....and they all have their roots in the phenomenon that was Bruce Lee.
Lee was born "Lee Jun Fan" November twenty-seventh 1940 in San Francisco, the son of Lee Hoi Chuen, a singer with the Cantonese Opera. Approximately one year later the family returned to Kowloon in Hong Kong and at the age of five years, a young Bruce begins appearing in children's roles in minor films including The Birth of Mankind and Fu gui fu yun. At the age of 12 Bruce commenced attending La Salle College. Bruce was later beaten up by a street gang, which inspired him to take up martial arts training under the tutelage of "Sifu Yip Man" who schooled Bruce in wing chun kung fu for a period of approximately five years. This was the only formalized martial arts training ever undertaken by Lee. The talented & athletic Bruce also took up cha-cha dancing and at the age of 18 won a major dance championship in Hong Kong.
However his temper and quick fists got him in trouble with the Hong Kong police on numerous occasions. His parents suggested that he head off to the United States. Lee landed in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1959 and worked in a close relative's restaurant. He eventually made his way to Seattle, Washington where he enrolled at university to study philosophy and found the time to practice his beloved kung fu techniques. In 1963 Lee met Linda Emery (later his wife) and also opened his first kung fu school at 4750 University Way. During the early half of the 1960s Lee became associated with many key martial arts figures in the USA including kenpo karate expert Ed Parker and tae kwon do master Jhoon Rhee. He made guest appearances at notable martial arts events including the Long Beach Nationals. Through one of these tournaments Bruce met Hollywood hair-stylist Jay Sebring who introduced him to T.V. producer William Dozier. Based on the runaway success of "Batman" Dozier was keen to bring the cartoon character of "The Green Hornet" to T.V. and was on the lookout for an East Asian actor to play the Green Hornet's sidekick, "Kato". Around this time Bruce also opened a second kung fu school in Oakland, California and relocated to Oakland to be closer to Hollywood.
Bruce's screen test was successful, and "The Green Hornet" starring Van Williams aired in 1966 with mixed success. His fight scenes were sometimes obscured by unrevealing camera angles, but his dedication was such that he insisted his character behave like a perfect bodyguard, keeping his eyes on whoever might be a threat to his employer except when the script made this impossible. The show was surprisingly terminated after only one season (twenty-six episodes), but by this time Lee was receiving more fan mail than the show's nominal star. He then opened a third branch of his kung fu school in Los Angeles and began providing personalized martial arts training to celebrities including film stars Steve McQueen and James Coburn as well as screenwriter Stirling Silliphant. In addition he refined his prior knowledge of wing chun and incorporated aspects of other fighting styles such as traditional boxing and Okinawan karate. He also developed his own unique style "Jeet Kune Do" (Way of the Intercepting Fist). Another film opportunity then came his way as he landed the small role of a stand over man named "Winslow Wong" who intimidates private eye James Garner in Marlowe. Wong pays a visit to Garner and proceeds to demolish the investigator's office with his fists and feet, finishing off with a spectacular high kick that shatters the light fixture. With this further exposure of his talents, Bruce then scored several guest appearances as a martial arts instructor to blind private eye James Franciscus on the TV series Longstreet.
With his minor success in Hollywood and money in his pocket, Bruce returned for a visit to Hong Kong and was approached by film producer Raymond Chow who had recently started "Golden Harvest" productions. Chow was keen to utilize Lee's strong popularity amongst young Chinese fans, and offered him the lead role in _Tang sha da xiong (1971)_ (A.K.A. "The Big Boss"). The film was directed by Wei Lo, shot in Thailand on a very low budget and in terrible living conditions for cast and crew. However, when it opened in Hong Kong the film was an enormous hit. Chow knew he had struck box office gold with Lee and quickly assembled another script entitled The Chinese Connection (A.K.A. "The Chinese Connection", A.K.A. "Fist of Fury"). The second film (with a slightly bigger budget) was again directed by Wei Lo and was set in Shanghai in the year 1900, with Lee returning to his school to find that his beloved master has been poisoned by the local Japanese karate school. Once again he uncovers the evil-doers and sets about seeking revenge on those responsible for murdering his teacher. The film features several superb fight sequences and, at the film's conclusion, Lee refuses to surrender to the Japanese law and seemingly leaps to his death in a hail of police bullets.
Once more Hong Kong streets were jammed with thousands of fervent Chinese movie fans who could not get enough of the fearless Bruce Lee, and his second film went on to break the box office records set by the first! Lee then set up his own production company, Concord Productions, and set about guiding his film career personally by writing, directing and acting in his next film, _Meng long guojiang (1972)_ (A.K.A. "Way of the Dragon", A.K.A. "Return of The Dragon"). A bigger budget meant better locations and opponents, with the new film set in Rome, Italy and additionally starring hapkido expert Ing-Sik Whang, karate legend Robert Wall and seven-time U.S. karate champion Chuck Norris. Bruce plays a seemingly simple country boy sent to assist at a cousin's restaurant in Rome and finds his cousins are being bullied by local thugs for protection.
By now Lee's remarkable success in East Asia had come to the attention of Hollywood film executives and a script was hastily written pitching him as a secret agent penetrating an island fortress. Warner Bros. financed the film and also insisted on B-movie tough guy John Saxon starring alongside Lee to give the film wider appeal. The film culminates with another show-stopping fight sequence between Lee and the key villain, Han, in a maze of mirrors. Shooting was completed in and around Hong Kong in early 1973 and in the subsequent weeks Bruce was involved in completing over dubs and looping for the final cut. Various reports from friends and coworkers cite that he was not feeling well during this period and on July twentieth 1973 he lay down at the apartment of actress Betty Ting Pei after taking a head-ache tablet and was later unable to be revived. A doctor was called and Lee was taken to hospital by ambulance and pronounced dead that evening. The official finding was death due to a cerebral edema, caused by a reaction to the head-ache tablet.
Fans world-wide were shattered that their virile idol had passed at such a young age, and nearly thirty thousand fans filed past his coffin in Hong Kong. A second, much smaller ceremony was held in Seattle, Washington and Bruce was laid to rest at Lake View Cemetary in Seattle with pall bearers including Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Dan Inosanto. Enter the Dragon was later released in the mainland United States, and was a huge hit with audiences there, which then prompted National General films to actively distribute his three prior movies to U.S. theatres... each was a box office smash.
Fans throughout the world were still hungry for more Bruce Lee films and thus remaining footage (completed before his death) of Lee fighting several opponents including Dan Inosanto, Hugh O'Brian and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was crafted into another film titled The Game of Death. The film used a look-alike and shadowy camera work to be substituted for the real Lee in numerous scenes. The film is a poor addition to the line-up and is only saved by the final twenty minutes and the footage of the real Bruce Lee battling his way up the tower. Amazingly this same shoddy process was used to create Game of Death II (A.K.A. "Game of Death II"), with a look-alike and more stunt doubles interwoven with a few brief minutes of footage of the real Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee was not only an amazing athlete and martial artist but he possessed genuine superstar charisma and through a handful of films he left behind an indelible impression on the tapestry of modern cinema.
He breathed life into Batman. Adam West was born Billy (William) West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington, to parents Otto West Anderson and his wife Audrey. At age 10 Adam had a cache of comic books, and "Batman" made a big impression on him--the comic hero was part bat-man (a la Count Dracula) and part world's greatest detective (a la Charlie Chan and Sherlock Holmes). When his mom remarried to a Dr. Paul Flothow, she took Adam and his younger brother, John, to Seattle. At 14 Adam attended Lakeside School, then went to Whitman College, where he got a degree in literature and psychology. During his last year of college he also married 17-year-old Billie Lou Yeager.
Adam got a job as a DJ at a local radio station, then enrolled at Stanford for post-grad courses. Drafted into the army, he spent the next 2 years starting military TV stations, first at San Luis Obispo, CA, then at Fort Monmouth, NJ. Afterwards, Adam and his wife toured Europe, visiting Germany, Switzerland and Italy's Isle of Capri. When the money ran out, he joined a childhood and college buddy, Carl Hebenstreit, who was starring in the kiddie program "The Kini Popo Show" in Hawaii. Adam would eventually replace Carl but not the other star, Peaches the Chimp. In 1956 he got a divorce and married a beautiful girl, originally from Tahiti, named Ngatokoruaimatauaia Frisbie Dawson (he called her "Nga" for short). They had a daughter, Jonelle, in 1957 and a son, Hunter, in 1958. In 1959 Adam came to Hollywood. He adopted the stage name "Adam West", which fit his roles, as he was in some westerns.
After 7 years in Tinseltown, he achieved fame in 1966 in his signature role as Batman, in the wildly popular ABC-TV series Batman (though he has over 60 movie and over 80 TV guest appearance credits, "Batman" is what the fans remember him for). The series, which lasted three seasons, made him not just nationally but internationally famous. The movie version, Batman: The Movie, earned Adam the "Most Promising New Star" award in 1967. The downside was that the "Batman" fame was partly responsible for ruining his marriage, and he would be typecast and almost unemployable for a while after the series ended (he did nothing but personal appearances for 2 years).
In 1972 he met and then married Marcelle Tagand Lear, and picked up two stepchildren, Moya and Jill. In addition, they had two children of their own: Nina West in 1976 and Perrin in 1979. You can't keep a good actor down -- Adam's career took off again, and he has been in about 50 projects since then: movies, TV-movies and sometimes doing voices in TV series. Adam wrote his autobiography "Back to the Batcave" in 1994. One of his most prized possessions is a drawing of Batman by Bob Kane with the inscription "To my buddy, Adam, who breathed life into my pen and ink creation".
Actor Burt Ward had to endure one of the toughest setbacks ever to befall a TV star once his camp-styled antics as the "Boy Wonder" superhero ended on the one-time hit series Batman. Irreparably typecast, he was out of commission for much of his "post-Robin" career with the cult star eventually becoming a frequent participant at TV nostalgia conventions. He was born Bert John Gervis, Jr, the oldest of three children. His father, Bert Sr. was the owner of a traveling ice show called "Rhapsody On Ice." By age two, young Bert was billed as the youngest professional ice skater and his name was even featured in the book Strange As It Seems, a predecessor to the popular Guinness Book of Records. Eventually Bert's family migrated to Los Angeles where his father sold real estate. Bright and athletically inclined, Bert Jr. was active on the high school track and field, wrestling, and golf teams. He was also a chess champion at school and took up karate.
Following graduation in 1963, Bert met Bonney Lindsey, whose father was the well-known musical conductor Mort Lindsey. Through Mr. Lindsey's contacts, Bert and Bonney apprenticed at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where he worked behind the scenes building sets and assisting with props. It was enough to pique his interest and, after attending the University of California at Santa Barbara where he worked part time as a deejay at the local college station, he transferred to UCLA and became a motion picture and theater major, supplementing his income during that time in real estate.
After college, Bert ventured on with his work as a broker and actually made his first sale to producer Saul David who introduced the young hopeful to an agent. In 1965 ABC started its search for a "new face" to appear on an upcoming comic strip series. Bert lucked out and managed a screen test with Adam West for the role of Dick ("Robin") Grayson opposite West's caped crusader. Bert's compact build, slightly awkward sense of humor, and assured athletic skills (he was a brown belt in karate at the time) were instrumental in his winning the role. He adopted the last name of Ward for his moniker, which was his mother's last name, and changed the spelling of his first name to "Burt."
Without any professional acting experience at all, Burt was suddenly thrust into the limelight big time. Batman premiered in January of 1966 and caught on instantly. It became a ratings smash. The kitschy, tongue-in-cheek humor combined with the colorful sets, gimmicky props ("Batmobile") and heroes' catchy phrases (including Burt's "holy (whatever), Batman!") all added tremendously to the cartoon fun and triggered huge profits for ABC. Popular guest stars villains such as Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Vincent Price, Victor Buono and even Tallulah Bankhead joined in on the outrageousness. Faithful to Bob Kane's original comic strip, fans could not get enough of the Dynamic Duo or the show. Adam and Burt made frequent personal appearances and appeared everywhere in numerous magazine articles.
The sudden thrust of celebrity eventually took its toll on Burt's young marriage to Bonney and they divorced around the beginning of the show's second season. He then married lovely actress Kathy Kersh whom he met when she appeared as a guest on the show. This marriage too fell apart after only a couple of years. Kersh went on to marry actor Vince Edwards. An untried talent at the time he started the show, he made, as such, only $350 a week during the first season. He did not fare much better in the subsequent seasons ($450 for the second; $500 for the third). Moreover, by 1968 audiences lost interest and, after two-and-a-half years, his "fifteen minutes of fame" was over. Like a new dance craze, the novelty wore off and all the hoopla surrounding it disappeared. The show went into the ratings tank. Towards the end they tried adding a sexy Batgirl (lovely Yvonne Craig) to spice up the proceedings but it didn't help.
With the demise of the series, Burt had no prior acting credits and nothing sound to fall back on. Both he and Adam West, who once had a serious reputation as an actor, would pay dearly for the characters that turned them into overnight sensations. They did wind up providing the animated voices to their superheroes on Saturday morning cartoons. Burt put aside the acting business and used his smarts in other suitable ways. He used a bit of his savvy and organized fan clubs, seeing that all his fan mail was given responses. He also launched a fund-raising business to help schools and hospitals raise money. During the late 1980's, Burt created an early education program for children aged 3-8 that taught social values, good health and safety rules, and critical thinking skills. It was called the Early Bird Learning Program.
It was through this education program that Burt met fourth wife Tracy Posner. They married on July 15, 1990, and had daughter Melody Lane Ward the following year. He also has an older daughter, Lisa, from his first marriage. Together Burt and Tracy organized Great Dane Rescue which rescues and finds homes for this special breed. Unlike others who have suffered similar career fallouts, Burt has ventured on productively with his life. He also went on to make a game comeback of sorts in low-budget films in the late 80s with such dubious titles as Virgin High (with Tracy), Hot Under the Collar and Karate Raider leading the pack.
Along with his most impressive list of television/film credits, Bill is also a very talented well-known musician, songwriter, recording artist, as well as writer. He plays guitar, bass, keyboards, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, percussion and sings. He has released three solo CDs, 1997's "Dying To Be Heard", 1999's "In The Current" and the 2000 release of his third solo album, "Pandora's Box". All three released on Renaissance Records. In 1978, Bill and his partner, Robert Haimer, officially formed the infamous "quirky-rock duo" Barnes and Barnes. They are known worldwide, and have recorded 9 albums on Rhino and CBS Record labels. They also released a feature length home video titled "Zabagabee" featuring a Collaboration of Barnes and Barnes short films. Their infamous "Fish Heads" song placed #57 in Rolling Stones Top 100 Videos of All Time. In 2000, Ogio Records released the 24 song "Yeah: The Essential Barnes & Barnes" CD. Bill was nominated for an Emmy in 1991/1992 for his original song composition for Adventures in Wonderland for Disney which he wrote 105 songs for 100 episodes. He also scored three episodes of the award winning PBS series "The Universe and I" and contributed songs and themes to "Santa Barbara", "TV Guide Looks At", "Hard to Hold", "Plainclothes", "Archie", "Sunshine", "Bless The Beasts & Children", "The Simpsons", and many other film and television projects. Bill and Miguel Ferrer are currently in a rock and roll band called the Jenerators. Their first CD and cassette titled the "Jenerators" was released in 1994 on Asil Records. Their second CD produced by Frank Wolf titled "Hitting The Silk" was released in November of 1998 on Wildcat Records. They currently perform in the Los Angeles area when possible. If that is not enough, Bill has also worked on various children albums as well. "The Yogi Bear Environmental Album: This Land Is Our Land" a 1993 release on Rhino Records/Hanna Barbera, "The Dinosaur Album" also a 1993 release on Rhino Records, and his current album "Kiss My Boo Boo" which has been released on the Infinite Visions label.
In addition to his many other talents, Bill co-created the popular children television series, Space Cases with Peter David which he also co-wrote, produced, composed music for, and guest starred in as well. It was nominated for the 1996 Ace Award for "Outstanding Children's Series." The series has run globally in over sixty countries. Peter and Bill have written the screenplay to the feature film, "Overload" which Bill is also starring in. Bill has written as well as co-created many comic books, stories, and television series. He has written for Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics and Pocket Books. The stories he co-wrote include well-known titles as "Spider-Man", "The Hulk", and "Clive Barker's Hellraiser." He co-wrote a Star Trek trilogy "Return of the Worthy", and was a creative consultant and writer to the Lost In Space Innovation monthly comic. He also has written for DC comics, "Aquaman", "The Spectre" and "Star Trek". His current writing projects include the feature film, "Overload" and a fantasy novel co-written with Angela Cartwright, "Realms Of Majik: The Pocket in Reality". His short stories, "The Black '59" and "The Undeadliest Game" appeared in Pocket Books "Shock Rock" Volumes 1 and 2. Both have been printed globally in many languages. He has also written for animation, most recently an episode of the sci fi series, "Roswell Conspiracies". He has also written episodics for NBC's series, "Sunshine", USA network's "Swamp Thing", as well as scripting an unfilmed episode of "Babylon 5". He co-created and wrote the Marvel Comics series' "The Comet Man", "The Dreamwalker" graphic novel, and Dark Horse Comics' "Trypto, The Acid Dog" with Miguel Ferrer.
Included in his various multi-talent accomplishments, he is also a prolific voice over actor and can be heard narrating several of the prestigious "A&E: Biographies" as well as many other documentaries and specials. Some of his commercial work in that arena includes McDonalds, Mattel, Bud Ice, Amtrak, Blockbuster, Ford, KFC, Wal Mart, and Nickelodeon - just to name a few. He is presently doing all the television and radio spots for Farmers Insurance. His voice over work in animation includes "Ren and Stimpy", "Batman the Animated Series", "Animaniacs", "Little Wizard Adventures", and "Buzz Lightyear: Star Command".
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to jazz singer Mattie Della Shaw and lyricist/pianist John L. Nelson. His parents are both from African-American families from the U.S. south. Prince's parents separated during his youth, which lead him to move back and forth. Prince had a troubled relationship with his step-father which lead him to run away from home. Prince was adopted by a family called the Andersons. Prince soon after became friends with the Anderson's son, Andre Anderson (Cymone) together along with Charles Smith they joined a band called Grand Central. The band later renamed themselves Champagne and were a fairly successful live band, however soon diminished.
Prince at the age of eighteen started working on high-quality demo tracks with Chris Moon. With these demo tracks Prince eventually ended up signing a recording contract with Warner Brothers Records and was the youngest producer associated with the label. Prince made his debut on the record label with his 1978 album, For You. It wasn't a strong successful album, however it was fair for a beginning artist and ranked 163 on the U.S. Pop Charts. Prince's next releases would tend to do much better on the charts with his singles, "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and I Wanna Be Your Lover in 1979. This would start to introduce Prince as a person who presented sexually explicit material into the music industry. However Prince didn't begin to attract mainstream artists until he release his single, 1999. This single began to be noticed by M.T.V. viewers and this would make him a part of the main-stream music media. Prince released two more singles called Little Red Corvette and Delirious. The album featured Prince's new band, The Revolution. In 1984 Prince would release what would be seen as an admired and profound masterpiece the feature film/sound-track album, Purple Rain in 1984. Prince's father, John L. Nelson would contribute to this album, by cowriting the chord sequence for a couple of his songs. Prince continued to give cowriting credit to his father on several other albums, as his famous chord sequence would be used in several of Prince's singles and albums.
A lot of Prince's songs did not agree with listeners and one of his songs, Darling Nikki prompted a group of people to start a censorship organization called, Parents Music Resource Center (P.M.R.C.) as the track implemented grinding ludicrous acts such as masturbating, which stunned listeners. Prince however continued to release various other singles with the same platform his memorable releases being, Around The World In A Day, Parade, Love Sexy, and Batman.
Prince released a sequel to Purple Rain in 1990 called Graffiti Bridge, a soundtrack album accompanied this movie entitled, Graffiti Bridge. The film did terrible in box-office and was nominated for several Razzie awards. Many people saw the sound-track album, as the high point of the film.
In 1991, Prince assembled a new band called, The New Power Generation with this band he would release singles such as Diamond And Pearls, Cream, and Gett Off. Prince eventually changed his stage name from Prince to a symbol, which lead people to call him, "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince". Prince soon took back his old stage name.
Prince in the 90s continued to release singles such as Came, The Gold Experience, Chaos And Disorder, and Emancipation. With the rise of the new millennium Prince continued to release material such as a religious album called The Rainbow Children,One Nite Alone,The Chocolate Invasion,The Slaughter House, and did a collaboration with Stevie Wonder on Stevie's single called, What The Fuss in 2005. Prince will be known as an artist whom inspired millions through his music and set an inspirational platform in terms of music which artists still abide by, his tones can still be heard from songs by other artists because of the influence Prince had on them.
|Kevin Michael Richardson
Well-known, king-sized actor and voice artist Kevin Michael Richardson was born in Bronx, New York. He is, perhaps mostly recognizable for his deep voice, which he uses in many of his works.
Richardson is a classically trained actor. He first gained recognition as one of only eight U.S. high school students selected for the National Foundation for the Arts' "Arts '82" program, later he earned a scholarship to Syracuse University.
Kevin is well-known by various voice works, mostly villainous. He lent his voice to based-upon video game film Mortal Kombat (1995) as Goro, he was also in Matrix Revolutions (2003) as Deus Ex Machina, and made a brief appearance in Clerks II (2006)as police officer. To mention that he did a brief additional voices for mega hit Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).
He did voice in many animated films and TV series, such as "The Mask - The Animated Series" (1995), "The New Batman Adventures" (1997), "Pokemon" (1998), "Powerpuff Girls" (1998), "Voltron: The Third Dimension" (1998), "Family Guy", Lilo & Stitch (2002), as well as "Lilo & Stitch" TV series, "Codename Kids Next Door" (2002), Batman VS Dracula (2005)(V), where he voiced Joker, "Mummy The Animated Series" (2003), TMNT (2007)as General Aguila, "Transformers Animated" (2007) as Omega Supreme and Batman: Gotham Knight (2008), as Lucius Fox.
He also did voices in such video games as Halo 2 (Tartarus), Kingdom Hearts (Sebastian) and others. He lives in Los Angeles and he likes to work in Manhattan.
Tall, suave and sophisticated Cesar Romero actually had two claims to fame in Hollywood. To one generation, he was the distinguished Latin lover of numerous musicals and romantic comedies, and the rogue bandit The Cisco Kid in a string of low-budget westerns. However, to a younger generation weaned on television, Romero was better known as the white-faced, green-haired, cackling villain The Joker of the camp 1960s TV series Batman, and as a bumbling corporate villain in a spate of Walt Disney comedies, such as chasing a young Kurt Russell in the fun-packed The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. Fans and critics alike agreed that Romero was a major talent who proved himself an enduring and versatile star in an overwhelming variety of roles in a career as an actor, dancer and comedian that lasted nearly 60 years.
Cesar Romero was born of Cuban parents in New York City in February 1907. He attended Collegiate & Riverdale County Schools before working as a ballroom dancer. He first appeared on Broadway in the 1927 production of Lady Do, and then in the stage production of Strictly Dishonorable. His first film role was in The Shadow Laughs, after which he gave strong performances in The Devil Is a Woman and in the Shirley Temple favorite, Wee Willie Winkie.
Critics and fans generally agree that Romero's best performance was as the Spanish explorer Cortez in Captain from Castile. However, he also shone in the delightful Julia Misbehaves and several other breezy and light-hearted escapades. In 1953 he starred in the 39-part espionage TV serial Passport to Danger, which earned him a considerable income due to a canny profit-sharing arrangement. Although Romero became quite wealthy and had no need to work, he could not stay away from being in front of the cameras. He continued to appear in a broad variety of film roles, but surprised everyone in Hollywood by taking on the role of "The Joker" in the hugely successful TV series Batman. He refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role, and close observation shows how the white clown makeup went straight on over his much loved mustache! The appearances in Batman were actually only a small part of the enormous amount of work that Romero contributed to television. He guest-starred in dozens of shows, including Rawhide, 77 Sunset Strip, Zorro, Fantasy Island and Murder, She Wrote. However, it was The Joker for which his TV work was best remembered, and Romero often remarked that for many, many years after Batman ended, fans would stop him and ask him to chuckle and giggle away just like he did as The Joker. Romero always obliged, and both he and the fans just loved it!
With a new appeal to a younger fan base, Romero turned up in three highly popular Disney comedies: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him, Now You Don't and The Strongest Man in the World as corrupt but inept villain A.J. Arno. Throughout the remainder of the 1980s Romero remained busy, and even at 78 years of age the ladies still loved his charm, and he was cast as Jane Wyman's love interest in the top-rated prime-time soap opera Falcon Crest, playing Peter Stavros from 1985 to 1987.
Although Romero stopped acting in 1990, he remained busy, regularly hosting classic movie programs on cable television. A talented and much loved Hollywood icon, he passed away on New Year's Day 1994, at the age of 86.
Frank Miller was born in Olney, Maryland, to a nurse mother and a carpenter and electrician father, and was raised in Montpelier, Vermont. He is of Irish descent. Miller was a big comics writer/artist in the '70s and '80s. He wrote and penciled the Marvel series "Daredevil" for a long time. His friend, Klaus Janson, inked. He also wrote two spinoffs about the character "Electra" and did a miniseries about the "X-Men" character "Wolverine". His hit miniseries "Ronin" was published by DC in the mid-eighties. His greatest success came with DC's character "Batman". In 1980, he wrote the acclaimed "Batman" story "Wanted - Santa Claus - Dead or Alive!" for DC Comics. In 1986, his most notable comic-book work, the groundbreaking "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns", an alternate history story about Batman in a grim future, was published by DC. Miller wrote and penciled. In 1988, he wrote the acclaimed "Batman: Year One", about Batman's first year on the job, for DC. In 1996, he wrote "Spawn versus Batman", a one-shot issue published by DC and Image Comics. He wrote the major motion pictures RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3 and did the "Robocop" comic series for a little while.
Vincent Michael Martella was born in Rochester, New York, to Donna and Michael Martella, who owns a pizza chain. He was raised in Florida, and is of Italian descent.
Martella, responsible for breathing life into the animated character Phineas in the hit Disney Channel television show Phineas and Ferb, is no stranger to the entertainment industry. Jumpstarting his passion for performing and entertaining others through dance at age three, Vincent delivered his first live performance in The Nutcracker. Soon after, Martella was performing in school plays, appearing in local and National commercial spots, and training in acting, piano, and vocals. By age seven, Martella was already a big commodity in the Central Florida commercial market, working both print and national commercials.
During Martella's first trip to Los Angeles, he landed a guest spot on Fox's Cracking Up and Stacked, as well as a recurring role on Nickelodeon's Ned's Declassified, where he developed his own character for the role of "Scoop." The following summer, Vincent was cast in his first film role, acting opposite Rob Schneider in Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo. In 2005, Martella landed one of his most notable roles as "Greg Wuliger" in the People's Choice and Golden Globe nominated comedy sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris, based loosely on comedian Chris Rock's childhood. During his four-year time with the show, Martella also had a role in the hit Universal Pictures film, Role Models, opposite Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd. Despite being a lead on Everybody Hates Chris, Martella was able to land another huge opportunity, being cast as "Phineas" in the hit animated Disney series, Phineas and Ferb. During his seven years voicing the main character, Martella also lent his vocals to all related Phineas and Ferb projects, Final Fantasy XIII, Batman video games and appeared in the television shows, R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour and The Mentalist.
Martella can most recently be found in the recurring role of "Patrick" in AMC's critically acclaimed series, The Walking Dead. He also can be found in the films McFarland, opposite Kevin Costner and Maria Bello and Clinger, in post-production. With impressive roles and extremely popular credits on his resume, it is clear that Martella's past, present, and future in the entertainment business is bright. Martella splits his time between residing in both Los Angeles and Florida.
With over a dozen motion pictures and many TV shows under his belt, Andrew Bryniarski is well on his way to becoming a household name in the upcoming New Line movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, premiering October 17th, 2003. Playing the killer who would forever be known as 'Leatherface", Andrew stars in this chilling story about 5 young people fighting for their lives.
Born in Philadelphia, this 6' 5" handsome young man came to Hollywood for a summer vacation, screen tested for Joel Silver and was suddenly acting alongside Bruce Willis in "Hudson Hawk". It really did happen that way! On a short holiday to visit a friend, Andrew was spotted by a talent scout, who set up a meeting and before he knew it, Andrew was traveling around Europe filming his first movie, with the likes of Willis and the late James Coburn. Since then, Andrew has worked alongside Al Pacino, James Woods, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Cuba Gooding Jr. to mention just a few, as well as Hong Kong's best including Tsui Hark and Yuen Wo Ping. His film work includes "Pearl Harbor", Tim Burtons," Batman Returns", Oliver Stone's," Any Given Sunday", "Rollerball", "Scooby Doo", "Streetfighter", "The Program" and John Singleton's "Higher Learning".
He most recently appeared on TV in FX'S _ 44 Minutes: Shootout in North Hollywood (2003) (TV) _, which received enormous ratings and broke several records, and has guest starred in many TV shows. Andrew has been included by Entertainment Weekly Magazine in this year's "IT" list of the top 100 creative people in Hollywood. Involved in all outdoor activities from mountain climbing to horseback riding, Andrew lives the healthy lifestyle, working out at the gym and practicing yoga. Married to Gretchen, they live in their Los Angeles home with 2 cats, 3 Pomeranian's box turtles, a parrot and his recently rescued 5 giant African land tortoises.
A twin fisted existentialist, whose post-Nietzschian sensibilities reject the lantern of the cynic in a quest for a sun that leaves no shadow. He attended Dr Challoners Grammar School where he achieved 8 'o' levels, he then elected to work on demolition sites rather than continue his education to University level. He studied performing arts in his twenties then became a professional wrestler and then secured the role of John in Snatch. Other film and TV work followed including appearances in Eastenders,the Bill and Emmerdale as well as parts in major motion pictures such as Batman begins and Elizabeth the Golden age and when work was quiet he decided to become a professional cage fighter securing wins over LA street fighting legend Kimo Leopoldo and ex UFC heavyweight champion Dan Severn. His fight and acting career however began to clash and when he was offered a role in Steven Berkoff's On The Waterfront he had to regrettably decline due to fight commitments. Instead Berkoff attended Legeno's fight at Wembley arena where he defeated Herb Dean. When Dave was cast as Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter series he put his fight career on hold.
|Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
It's hardly surprising that the son of renowned Russian-born concert violinist Efrem Zimbalist Sr. (1889-1985) and Romanian-born opera singer Alma Gluck (1884-1938) would desire a performing career of some kind. Born in New York City on November 30, 1918, surrounded by people of wealth and privilege throughout his childhood, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. received a boarding school education. Acting in school plays, he later trained briefly at the Yale School of Drama but didn't apply himself enough and quit. As an NBC network radio page, he auditioned when he could and found minor TV and stock theatre parts while joining up with the Neighborhood Playhouse.
Following WWII war service with the Army infantry in which he was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded, a director and friend of the family, Garson Kanin, gave the aspiring actor his first professional role in his Broadway production of "The Rugged Path" (1945) which starred Spencer Tracy. With his dark, friendly, clean-scrubbed good looks and a deep, rich voice that could cut butter, Zimbalist found little trouble finding work. He continued with the American Repertory Theatre performing in such classics as "Henry VIII" and "Androcles and the Lion" while appearing opposite the legendary Eva Le Gallienne in "Hedda Gabler".
Zimbalist then tried his hand as a stage producer, successfully bringing opera to Broadway audiences for the first time with memorable presentations of "The Medium" and "The Telephone". As producer of Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Consul", he won the New York Drama Critic's Award and the Pulitzer Prize for best musical in 1950. An auspicious film debut opposite Edward G. Robinson in House of Strangers brought little career momentum due to the untimely death of his wife Emily (a onetime actress who appeared with him in "Hedda Gabler" and bore him two children, Nancy and Efrem III) to cancer in 1950. Making an abrupt decision to abandon acting, he served as assistant director/researcher at the Curtis School of Music for his father and buried himself with studies and music composition.
In 1954, Efrem returned to acting and copped a daytime television soap lead (Concerning Miss Marlowe). It was famed director Joshua Logan who proved instrumental in helping Zimbalist secure a Warner Bros. contract. Despite forthright second leads in decent films such as Band of Angels with Clark Gable and Yvonne De Carlo; Too Much, Too Soon starring Dorothy Malone and Errol Flynn; A Fever in the Blood opposite Angie Dickinson and (his best) Wait Until Dark with Audrey Hepburn, it was television that made the better use of his refined, unshowy acting style. His roles as smooth private investigator Stu Bailey on 77 Sunset Strip and dogged inspector Lewis Erskine on The F.B.I. would be his ultimate claims to fame.
A perfect gentleman on and off camera, Zimbalist's severest critics tend to deem his performances bland and undernourished. Managing to override such criticisms, he maintained a sturdy career for nearly six decades. In 1991, he made fun of his all-serious reputation and pulled off a Leslie Nielsen-like role in the comedy parody Hot Shots!. In addition to theater projects over the years, he has made fine use of his mellifluous baritone performing narrations and cartoon voiceovers, including that of Alfred the butler on a "Batman" animated series.
In 2003, he completed his memoirs, entitled "My Dinner of Herbs". The father of three, grandfather of four and great-grandfather of three, he settled in Santa Barbara and later in Solvang, California with longtime second wife Stephanie until her death in 2007 of cancer. Their daughter, also named Stephanie (Stephanie Zimbalist), is the well-known actress who appeared with Pierce Brosnan in the Remington Steele television series, in which Zimbalist had a recurring role. He and his daughter also appeared on stage together in his later years, their first being "The Night of the Iguana". His eldest daughter Nancy died in 2012.
Zimbalist died peacefully at his Solvang home of natural causes at the age of 95 on May 2, 2014.
Starred on Broadway as Velma Kelly in "Chicago", The Tony nominated "Damn Yankees", "The Crucible", performed as a soloist with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, "Pal Joey" (with Peter Gallagher and Patti Lupone.) Her voice can be heard in scores of animated television and films, most notably, "Finding Nemo", "Wonder Woman", Justice League", "Ben 10", "Phineas and Ferb", "Alpha And Omega",and the upcoming "Batman". She starred as Beth in NBC's "Newsradio" and "Three Sisters"( also for NBC). She has appeared in countless television and film roles most notably "The Ugly Truth", "Mousehunt", "Pushing Tin", "Breakfast Of Champions", "Godzilla", "I'll Do Anything", "Curb Your Enthusiasm", "The Middle", "Grey's Anatomy", "Dirt", "Caroline In The City", "Murphy Brown", "The Norm Show", "Grace Under Fire", "Home Improvement". Her solo album "East Of Midnight" was released in 2010.
Peter Ustinov was a two-time Academy Award-winning film actor, a director, writer, journalist and raconteur. He wrote and directed many acclaimed stage plays and led numerous international theatrical productions.
He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov on April 16, 1921, in Swiss Cottage, London, England, the son of Nadezhda Leontievna (Benois) and Iona von Ustinov. His father was of one quarter Polish Jewish, one half Russian, one eighth African Ethiopian, and one eighth German, descent, while his mother was of one half Russian, one quarter Italian, one eighth French, and one eighth German, ancestry. Ustinov had ancestral connections to Russian nobility, as well as to the Ethiopian Royal Family. His father, also known as "Klop", was a pilot in the German Air Force during World War I. In 1919, Peter's father joined his own mother and sister in St. Petersburg, Russia. There he met Peter's mother, artist Nadia Benois, who worked for the Imperial Mariinsky Ballet and Opera House in St. Petersburg. In 1920, in a modest and discrete ceremony at a Russian-German Church in St. Petersburg, Ustinov's father married Nadia. Later, when she was seven months pregnant with Peter, the couple emigrated from Russia, in 1921, in the aftermath of the Communist Revolution.
Young Peter was brought up in a multi-lingual family--he was fluent in Russian, French, Italian and German, and also was a native English speaker. He attended Westminster College in 1934-37, took the drama and acting class under Michel St. Denis at the London Theatre Studio, 1937-39, and made his stage debut in 1938 in a theatre in Surrey. In 1939 he made his London stage debut in a revue sketch, then had regular performances with Aylesbury Repertory Company. In 1940 he made his film debut in Hullo, Fame!.
From 1942-46 Ustinov served as a private soldier with the British Army's Royal Sussex Regiment. He was batman for David Niven and the two became lifelong friends. Ustinov spent most of his service working with the Army Cinema Unit, where he was involved in making recruitment films, wrote plays and appeared in three films as an actor. At that time he wrote and directed The Way Ahead (aka "The Immortal Battalion").
Ustinov had a stellar film career as actor, director and writer, appearing in more than 100 film and television productions. He was awarded two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor--one for his role in Spartacus and one for his role in Topkapi--and received two more Oscar nominations as an actor and writer. His career slowed down a bit in the 1970s, but he made a comeback as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile by director John Guillermin. In the 1980s Ustinov reprized the Poirot role in several subsequent television movies and theatrical films, such as Evil Under the Sun and Appointment with Death. Later he appeared as a sympathetic doctor in the disease thriller Lorenzo's Oil.
Ustinov's effortless style and his expertise in dialectic and physical comedy made him a regular guest of talk shows and late night comedians. His witty and multi-dimensional humor was legendary, and he later published a collection of his jokes and quotations, summarizing his wide popularity as a raconteur. He was also an internationally acclaimed TV journalist. Ustinov covered over 100,000 miles and visited more than 30 Russian cities during the making of his well-received BBC television series Russia.
In his autobiographical books, such as "Dear Me" (1977) and "My Russia" (1996), Ustinov revealed a wealth of thoughtful and deep observations about how his life and career was formed by his rich multi-cultural and multi-ethnic background. He wrote and directed numerous stage plays, having success presenting his plays in several countries. His autobiographical play "Photo Finish" was staged in New York, London and St. Petersburg, Russia, where Ustinov directed the acclaimed production starring Elena Solovey and Petr Shelokhonov.
Outside of his acting and writing professions, Ustinov served as a Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and president of WFM, a global citizens movement. He was knighted Sir Peter Ustinov in 1990. From 1971 to his death in 2004, Ustinov lived in a château in the village of Bursins, Vaud, Switzerland, He died of heart failure on March 28, 2004, in a clinic in Genolier, Vaud, Switzerland. His funeral service was held at Geneva's historic cathedral of St. Pierre, and he was laid to rest in the village cemetery of Bursins, Switzerland. He was survived by three daughters, Tamara, Pavla, and Andrea, and son, Igor Ustinov.
"I am an international citizen conceived in Russia, born in England, working in Hollywood, living in Switzerland, and touring the World" said Peter Ustinov.
|James Arnold Taylor
James Arnold Taylor's versatile vocal range has given him success in every facet of the Voice-Over Industry. His voice is heard all of the world daily, and you would never know it's one person. His list of credits range from leading roles in major summer blockbuster films, starring roles in the hottest animation on television, a promo voice for Fox, Spike, G4, and national ad campaigns in commercials for TV and radio - from the voice of a Mini Wheat to the current voice of Fred Flintstone. You can literally play the "Six Degrees of..." game with James and be only one degree from just about every name in Hollywood today.
James' most notable credits are: Obi-Wan Kenobi: Star Wars The Clone Wars - Leonardo: TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - Johnny: Johnny Test - Green Arrow: Batman The Brave and the Bold - Harry Osborn: The Spectacular Spider-Man - Milo Thatch: Disney's Atlantis: Milo's Return - Wooldoor Sockbat and the Producer: Drawn Together - The Fallen: Transformers Revenge of the Fallen video game - Tidus: Final Fantasy X,X-2 and Dissidia video games - Ratchet: Ratchet & Clank video game series - Gabe Logan: Syphon Filter video game series - Ash: The Animatrix Detective Story
James also "Voice-Doubles" for many of today's biggest names including: Johnny Depp - Ewan McGregor - Shia LaBeouf - Christopher Walken - Michael J. Fox - David Spade - Daniel Radcliffe - Clive Owen - Nicolas Cage - Christian Bale - Steve Carell - Matthew McConaughey - Justin Timberlake - James McAvoy - Alec Baldwin - Billy Bob Thornton - Sean William Scott - Denis Leary - Robin Williams - Ron Howard
Having voices in some of the biggest franchises in movies, TV and video games he has had a successful career ultimately doing what he loves most... entertaining.
Ana is a big fan of comic books. She started reading them when she was just a little girl. When she was little she amongst her favorite comics were: ''The Phantom'', ''Batman'', ''Superman'', ''The Crow'', ''Prince Valiant'', and ''Sandman''.
Quit working on the series ''Chemistry'' right after the first season due to the excessive nudity that was required for her character.
Film and television actress Christine Adams was born in London, United Kingdom.
She starred on several British and American films and television series since early 2000s.
On television she is known for roles as Katherine Williams Osgood on British miniseries "NY-LON"(2004), Simone Hundin on the American comedy-drama series "Pushing Daisies" (2007-2009), as Lena Boudreaux short-lived ABC legal drama series "The Whole Truth" (2010) and as Lena Boudreaux in FOX's science fiction drama series "Terra Nova" (2011).
In 2012 she starred opposite Anthony LaPaglia on the ABC drama series "Americana". Adams appeared on several films, such as "Submerged" (2005), "Batman Begins" (2005),"Eye of the Dolphin" (2006), "Green Flash" (2008), "Beneath the Blue" (2010), "Tron: Legacy" (2010) and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2011). She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
Hailing from Texas and an athletic background, Travis Willingham graduated from Texas Christian University's theatre program in 2003. No stranger to the stage or screen, Travis was surprised to develop a new talent in voice-over. A fan of the industry for decades, his booming voice can be recognized in over 150 video game franchises and animation titles.
Beginning his career in Dallas, he worked on many popular anime titles developed for American markets. After moving to Los Angeles, he found himself working on such titles as Marvel's Super Hero Squad Show playing The Incredible Hulk and Human Torch. A self-acknowledged comic geek himself, Travis has continued to work with Marvel Animation by maintaining the role of Thor in Marvel's Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Other credits include Superman in Lego Batman The Movie: DC Super Heroes Unite, Phineas and Ferb, The Legend of Korra, Fish Hooks, Knuckles in Sonic The Hedgehog, and many more.
2013 also ushered in Travis as Disney's newest King, as he plays King Roland II in Disney Jr's new hit show, Sofia The First.
Coming from a proud family of gamers, his video game career is also growing. And with demand for motion capture in newer titles quickly on the rise, Travis is thankful for his sports and stunts background. After performing mocap for the multitude of Frost Giants in the theatrical release of Thor in 2011, his VO and mocap work in 2012 included blockbuster VG titles Halo 4, Skylanders Giants, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Resident Evil 6, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and Grand Theft Auto V.
2013-14 offers some exciting new titles for Travis as he appears in the PS4 launch title Knack, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and the February 2014 release of Infamous: Second Son as Reggie Rowe.
|Roger Craig Smith
Born in St. Joseph, Michigan and raised in Tustin, California, Smith always had an interest in the entertainment industry. After receiving a degree in screenwriting from Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Smith briefly pursued writing for the big screen as a career. Though he gained recognition as a finalist in the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition, Smith quickly found his niche in voice acting. Over the past few years Smith has done vocal work for nearly every major studio, including Disney, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros, Microsoft Game Studios, Nickelodeon, Ubisoft, Sony, E!, and TLC.
Disney's Planes, one of Smith's biggest feature film projects to date, was three years in the making. He is one of only two actors present at the first table read to retain his character through development and completion of the film. During the three years of recording sessions, Smith was expecting to be replaced by an on-camera celebrity for the final recording of the film. However, Disney recognized his enormous talent and kept him on board as "Ripslinger" for the final release of the film.
Smith supplies the voice of "Thomas" (as well as countless other characters) in Cartoon Network's Emmy Award-winning Regular Show, and he voices characters "Belson" and "Percy" in the Cartoon Network hit series Clarence. On Disney XD, Smith can be heard as iconic superhero "Captain America" for the blockbuster show Avengers Assemble.
On the video game front, his voice work includes credits such as "Sonic The Hedgehog" (also in Disney's feature film Wreck-It-Ralph and upcoming Cartoon Network series Sonic Boom!), "Batman" in Batman: Arkham Origins, "Ezio Auidtore da Firenze" in the Assassin's Creed games, and the Resident Evil series of games (as "Chris Redfield").
In addition to his film, TV animation and extensive gaming work, Smith also narrates a handful of hit television shows - including "Say Yes to the Dress" (TLC) and the DIY Network "Crashers" series of shows.
Smith resides in Chatsworth, California, where he enjoys mountain biking and playing video games. He is an active supporter of Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and Seacrest Studios/Seacrest Foundation, which entertains children in the hospital by having patients host & appear in their own radio and television programs aired throughout the hospital network.
Pat Hingle (real name: Martin Patterson Hingle) was born in Miami, Florida, the son of a building contractor. His parents divorced when Hingle was still in his infancy (he never knew his father) and his mother supported the family by teaching school in Denver. She then began to travel (with her son in tow) in search of more lucrative work; by age 13 Hingle had lived in a dozen cities. The future Tony Award nominee made his "acting debut" in the third grade, playing a carrot in a school play ("At that time it didn't seem like much of a way to make a living!", he recalled). Hingle attended high school in Texas and in 1941 entered the University of Texas, majoring in advertising. After serving in the Navy during WW II, he went back to the university and got involved with the drama department as a way to meet girls. With his wife Alyce (whom he first met at the university), Hingle moved to New York and began to get jobs on the stage and on TV. The apex of his stage career was "J.B." by poet Archibald Macleish, with Hingle in the title role as a 20th-century Job. It was during the run of "J.B." that Hingle took an accidental plunge down the elevator shaft of his New York apartment building, sustaining near-fatal injuries in the 54-foot fall. He was near death for two weeks (and lost the little finger of his left hand); his recovery took more than a year. In more recent years, Hingle has played Commissioner Gordon in the "Batman" movies.
Just prior to his death, he resided in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, with his wife, Julia.
Born in New York City and raised in Sunnyside, Queens and then Westchester County, Benh Zeitlin began his career as a film-maker at the tender age of 6 years when he and a friend made a Batman movie. He continued making films as a child before attending Wesleyan University, where he majored in film. After graduation, Benh spent a summer in Prague working with a prominent animation artist. Returning to the U.S., he worked in a private school in Manhattan helping elementary students create short films.
Having grown up in the South East of London, practicing his street-wise skills in boxing and football, Tamer showed his versatility from a very young age as an aspiring entrepreneur, turning his hand to sports clubs, restaurants and nightclubs. A chance encounter with his now Agent, lead Tamer to early television appearances, including; Eastenders, Casualty, The Bill and John Judge Deed.
Tamer has starred in modern British classics, Calcium Kid with Orlando Bloom, The Football Factory alongside fellow Brit Actor and friend Danny Dyer, Layer Cake with Daniel Craig and his eye-opening and laugh-out-loud lead as, want-to-do-good gangster, Charlie, in Nick Love's now cult movie, The Business. Hassan has skillfully moved in and out of a plethora of feature and ensemble roles, including Kick Ass with Nicholas Cage, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, 50 Cent's Dead Man Running, Clash of The Titans alongside Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson and 2011's The Double with Richard Gere.
Throughout 2012, Tamer has continued his relentless work-rate with several new humanitarian and film projects, both in Europe and across the pond. Most recently completing on Director Drew Hall's latest contribution to screen, Son's Of Liberty, due for release in early 2013.
A familiar face on both the big and small screen, comic character actor Stuart Pankin is a five-time nominated, CableAce Award winner for HBO's award-winning series "Not Necessarily The News."
He is well-known for providing the voice of Earl Sinclair, the blustery father, on the Emmy award-winning "Dinosaurs." (He sang on, and composed two songs for, the Disney album "Dinosaurs: The Big Songs", and performed Earl on the "Dinosaurs: Classic Tales" tape release.)
Best-known film (member: AMPAS) credits include "Honey We Shrunk Ourselves" (the first live action made-for-video feature), "The Hollywood Knights," "Mannequin on the Move," "The Dirt Bike Kid," "Second Sight," "Encounter in the Third Dimension" and "Misadventures in 3-D" (IMAX 3-D movies) as the live Professor, and voice of the adorable animated robot.
A series regular on nine prime time television productions and pilots (member: ATAS), he has guest starred on over 300 television shows. He has also provided many cartoon voices for the popular series "Animaniacs," "Batman," "Superman," "Aladdin," "Lilo and Stitch" and "Darkwing Duck."
On stage, Stuart has performed with the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music Repertory Company, the American Place Theatre, the Repertory Company of Lincoln Center, and the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, with "The Winter's Tale" "The Inspector General," "Bartholomew Fair" and "The Three Sisters" among his favorites. He created the roles of Reuben and Queen Victoria in the New York premiere of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." He starred in over thirty-five Off Broadway, summer, and regional theatre productions.
Stuart starred in, co-wrote and co-executive produced the Stuart Pankin Cinemax Comedy Experiment ("Hump!" the musical comedy version of "Richard III"), in which he played five roles, and sang his own original music. The Electronic Retail Association nominated him for Best Celebrity Presenter.
Malachi Throne, the character actor who became one of the more ubiquitous faces on television from the "Golden Age" of the 1950s through the 21st Century, was born in New York City on December 1, 1928, the son of Samuel and Rebecca Throne, who had immigrated to America from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He began performing at an early age.
During World War Two, the young Malachi quit school to work in theater, though he later returned and got his high school diploma. He then set out upon a life as a "wandering player", as he describes it, playing in summer and winter stock companies while matriculating at Brooklyn College and Long Island University. Though he loved acting, he believed he'd eventually wind up as an English teacher, which is why he doggedly kept at his studies between tours.
When he was 21 years old, the Korean Conflict broke out, and Throne wound up in the infantry attached to an armored unit. When he returned to the New York theatrical scene, he found out that the revolution Marlon Brando had started in 1947 playing Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire was now the status quo.
Possessed of a deep, classically trained voice, Throne was cast in the parts of characters much older than his actual age. His clear enunciation also made him a natural for live television, and he went to work on the now-defunct DuMont TV network. He continued his acting studies in New York, tutored by such luminaries as Uta Hagen and William Hickey.
In addition to TV, he continued to work on the the stage, appearing in the landmark Off-Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh", in support of Jason Robards. He also played in the famous Off-Broadway revivals of "The Threepenny Opera" and Clifford Odets' "Rocket To The Moon", as well as appeared on Broadway in such top shows as Jean Anouilh's "Becket" in support of Laurence Olivier.
In 1958-59, he found himself in California, playing a season at San Deigo's Old Globe Theater. After his stint with the Globe was over, he went north, to Hollywood, and established himself as a major character actor in guest spots on series television during the 1960s. He had memorable appearances as "Falseface" on the Batman TV series and the Arab-styled "Thief of Outer Space" on the Lost in Space TV series. He also provided the voice of "The Keeper" for "The Cage", the pilot episode of the Star Trek series. He turned down an offer to be a regular cast member on that show, rejecting the part of Dr. McCoy as he did not want to play third fiddle to William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Producer Gene Roddenberry, who had offered him the role of "Bones" McCoy, was not offended by Throne turning him down, and cast him as "Commodore José Mendez" in the two-part episode "The Menagerie", which included most of the original pilot, although by then The Keeper's voice had been re-dubbed by another actor, Meg Wyllie. He also later played "Senator Pardac" in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" two-part episode "Unification," appearing with Leonard Nimoy, whose Mr. Spock was the role he had coveted a generation before.
In 1968, two years after "Star Trek" debuted, Throne was cast as Robert Wagner's boss on the TV show It Takes a Thief while continuing to guest on other TV shows. Throne also remained committed to the stage, appearing as a resident actor with a variety of regional theaters, including the SanFrancisco Actors' Workshop, the Los Angeles Inner City Repertory Co., the MarkTaper Forum and the Louisville Free Theatre.
Malachi Throne lives in southern California, where he appears in local theater. When not acting, he writes historical novels. His two sons are also in show business: Zachary Throne is an actor/musician while Joshua Throne is a Producer/Unit Production Manager.
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.
Joey Ansah was born in 1982 in Hammersmith, London, England, 2nd in line to an older brother, Ryan, 3 years his senior. He is of mixed ethnicity, with his mother Nicola, originating from Plymouth, Devon, England and his father Kofi, originally from Ghana, west Africa. Joey grew up and spent the first 10 years of his life in Streatham, South London, attending private school first at Oakfield School and then at Dulwich College Prep. During these early years in London, his interest and enjoyment for acting and performance became evident, as he took part in all of the stage performances that were on offer. The almost obsessive interest in martial arts and action cinema began very young. As early as Joey can recount, he has memories of his father renting Action and martial arts films from the local video shop which he would avidly watch. Arnold, Stallone, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Van Damme became instinctive idols and sources of inspiration which remain to this day. Joey's family then emigrated to Accra, Ghana. This was initially a culture shock to say the least for a young Joey, who had up to this point spent most of his life in the almost exclusively white, upper-middle class environment of the English public-school system. In Accra, Joey attended Ghana's top International school for almost 5 years. During this period he was able to truly get in touch with African culture, and obtain a balanced understanding, love and pride for both halves of his heritage. Acting and stage performance continued here for a time as well. It was in Ghana that Joey's love for martial arts, dancing and stunts really took off. He joined the local Tae Kwon Do class which he trained at for 4 years. He became embroiled in the Hip Hop dance craze that was present at the school in Ghana. He also fell in love with motorbikes and began riding with friends - including the sons of an Australian former motocross champion.
A few months before his 15th birthday, Joey moved back to England (this time to Plymouth) with his mother and 1-year old sister, Tanoa. He attended Devonport High school for boys where he completed his secondary education. During this time Joey also began obsessively training for the rare Martial art of Ninjutsu with military personnel in Plymouth. After a brief stint high diving, Joey became very interested in acrobatics and tumbling, and began to develop this aspect of Ninjutsu to a very high level. After passing his A-levels, Joey moved to Oxford where he did a 3 year degree in Human biology at Oxford Brookes University. Whilst continuing to practice Ninjutsu and Acrobatics, he also took up the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira in which he has trained ever since. It was during these 3 years in Oxford that Joey began his professional work in show-business, getting work and experience wherever he could. In the first couple of years at University, Joey did his fair share of extras and walk-on parts and he saw this as a valuable opportunity to spend lots of time on varied film, TV and commercial sets, learning the film making process and more importantly watching and intently studying established actors at work. Rather than frowning upon doing extras work as many do, he viewed this as an invaluable learning period. Joey also worked as a model, both on the catwalk and in TV and print campaigns. His work in stunts also occurred at this time, working on Batman Begins as a stuntman, in addition to working as trainer and fight choreographer on the Sci-Fi series Starhyke (2006). He has used his Dance, martial arts and acrobatic abilities for various music videos and Live international shows.
Straight after graduating from University, Joey moved back to London and landed a major role in the award winning UK indie film, Lovestruck (2005). Following that he got an acting agent and his full time acting career began. Over the last 2 years he has been working consistently in a varied range of TV and film projects. With notable TV appearances as the terrorist Abbud in the hit TV show Spooks (2005) (aka MI5 in the USA), Roman emperor Geta in the prime time BBC docuseries Timewatch (2006). In 2006 Joey landed a major role in the upcoming, ground breaking UK action Feature 'Underground'.
His big Hollywood break came in the form of him being cast in the upcoming Bourne Ultimatum (2007) by award-winning director, Paul Greengrass, in which he plays 'Desh', a Blackbriar super assassin working for the CIA who goes up against Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) is released in the US and UK Aug 3rd.
Francine was born in the small mining town of Aurora, Minnesota to her parents, Frank and Sophie Yerich. When Francine was five, her family (including her younger sister, Deanne) moved to Cleveland, where she began to write short stories and take an interest in acting. At age nine, Francine made her theatrical debut in the Hodge Grammar School production of Cinderella, playing Griselda. Initially quite upset that she did not get the starring role, Francine ended up stealing the show with her performance as the evil stepsister. Right after the show, Francine ran into the audience and told her mother that she wanted to be an actress.
When Francine was twelve, the family moved back to Aurora, where she continued to perform in class plays, as well as writing, producing, directing and starring in a three-act play called Keen Teens or Campus Quarantine. Francine, displaying an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, charged five cents admission to the show, and the whole town turned out for the production.
While studying journalism and drama at Aurora High School, Francine worked as the feature editor of the school newspaper, Aurora Borealis, and she won all of the school's declamation contests with her dramatic readings. Additionally, she was the baton-twirling majorette for the school band, and active in the 4-H club, where she won several blue ribbons for cooking in both county and state fairs. This proved to be valuable experience for Francine later on, when she would not only host, but do all of the gourmet cooking for dinner parties for some of Hollywood's biggest names.
At age seventeen, Francine won the Miss Eveleth contest (Eveleth being a nearby town), and became a runner-up in the Miss Minnesota contest, which was hosted by former Miss America BeBe Shopp. For the talent portion of the Miss Minnesota pageant, Francine, who was not afraid to be less than glamorous during a performance, donned some old clothes, removed her makeup, grayed her hair, and performed a reading of a monologue called "The Day That Was That Day" by Amy Lowell, in which she played a dual role of two elderly Southern women. BeBe Shopp encouraged Francine in her theatrical ambitions, and predicted that she would end up in Hollywood very soon. At this point, however, Hollywood was still a dream for Francine, who wanted desperately to leave Minnesota and make her mark in show business.
Moving to Minneapolis, she got a job modeling sweaters for New York-based Jane Richards Sportswear and began traveling throughout the U.S., ending up in San Francisco. After leaving Jane Richards, Francine began a modeling course at the House of Charm agency, which started her off on a very successful modeling career for all of the major department stores, including Macy's. Her modeling work got the attention of the producers of the Miss San Francisco beauty pageant, which she subsequently entered and was voted runner-up, but ended up taking over the title after the winner became too ill to participate. Soon after, Francine got a job as a showgirl at Bimbo's, a well-known San Francisco nightclub, which was highly disapproved of by Francine's modeling agency, but it turned out to be the right choice for Francine when she met Bimbo's headliner, singer Mary Meade French, who brought Francine to Hollywood and, later, got her signed with her first agent.
Arriving in Los Angeles, Francine once again found herself working as a showgirl at Frank Sennes' Moulin Rouge, a popular nightclub on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, where she performed in three shows a night, seven nights a week for six months. Tired of sharing a stage with elephants, pigeons, and horses, she moved on to pursue her acting career and began study with famed actor/teacher Jeff Corey. While performing in Corey's class, Francine was spotted by a theatrical producer, who cast her in a play called Whisper In God's Ear at the Circle Theatre. During this time, the same producer gave Francine her very first movie role, starring in Secret File: Hollywood, a film about the day-to-day operations of a sleazy Hollywood tabloid. The movie premiered in Francine's hometown of Aurora, which gave her the biggest thrill of her life as the whole town, the press, her family, friends, and even the high school band turned out at the airport to greet her with banners proclaiming, "Welcome Home, Francine!"
Francine's first big break came when Jerry Lewis cast her in his film, It's Only Money, in which she played a tantalizing sexpot, a role which brought her a tremendous amount of publicity. This led to Lewis hiring her for five more of his films, including The Nutty Professor, The Patsy, The Disorderly Orderly, The Family Jewels, and Cracking Up, in which she played a fifteenth century marquise. Other notable film appearances include Bedtime Story (with Marlon Brando and David Niven), Tickle Me (with Elvis Presley), Cannon For Cordoba (with George Peppard), and science fiction cult films Curse of the Swamp Creature, Mutiny From Outer Space, and Space Probe Taurus. Francine's most popular film was the 1973 cult classic The Doll Squad, where she played Sabrina Kincaid, leader of an elite team of gorgeous female assassins who attempt to stop a diabolical madman from destroying the world with a deadly plague virus. Francine also delivered a stunning performance as Marilyn Monroe in an otherwise lackluster film, Marilyn: Alive and Behind Bars. (Film critic Tom Weaver has been quoted as saying that Francine's performances often rise above the low-budget films she's been cast in.) More recently, Francine played Nicolas Cage's mother-in-law in The Family Man.
Francine has also had tremendous success in television, with appearances on Route 66, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, My Favorite Martian, Burke's Law, Perry Mason, Batman, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Lost In Space, It Takes A Thief, Green Acres, The Wild Wild West, Ironside, I Dream Of Jeannie, Love American Style, Mannix, Bewitched, Adam-12, Mission: Impossible, Kojak, Columbo, Matlock, The King Of Queens, and Las Vegas, among many others. Francine's personal favorites among her TV roles include her portrayal of nineteenth century British actress Lily Langtry in the "Picture Of A Lady" episode of Death Valley Days, and her role as the princess opposite Shirley Temple (one of Francine's childhood idols) in NBC's presentation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid." One of Francine's other favorite roles was that of high-class prostitute and blackmailer Lorraine Temple on Days Of Our Lives.
While Francine was enjoying great success as a film and television actress, she was also making a name for herself as a fitness/nutrition expert and gourmet cook. She made many appearances on television demonstrating her culinary skills, and many of her recipes, as well as her exercise programs, were published in national health magazines. Francine also became known as one of Hollywood's leading hostesses, cooking for such celebrities as Clint Eastwood, Rex Harrison, Vincent Price, Regis Philbin, Jean Stapleton, Neil Sedaka, James Arness, Glenn Ford, and Peter Ustinov.
Francine continues to act in films and on television. Two recent TV appearances include Hot In Cleveland (as British matriarch Lady Natalie), and Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures (as Aunt Bitsy). She is also keeping quite busy working on her autobiography, something her fans are looking forward to with great interest. In 1996, she met director Vincent Sherman (Mr. Skeffington, Adventures Of Don Juan, The Young Philadelphians), and was his companion until his death in 2006. Francine has never married - she once said, "Like Cinderella, I always wanted to marry the handsome prince...but they don't make glass slippers in size ten!"
Born Ali Alherimi in Akron, Ohio, on December 20th, 1978, Alec Rayme was raised mostly in Florida. He was very athletic spending most of his younger days playing sports. After high school he went on to play college football at USM and then Pro Arena football in Florida. After a short lived football career he hit the road in search of something new. He got approached by an agent while working for his fathers store, with nothing to lose he gave it a shot. The first audition he was sent on he booked as Batman in the Batman Stunt Spectacular at Six Flags New Orleans. He had always been into anything that had to do with art, but this very much got his foot into the entertainment industry. From there he fell into stunts and would usually book stunt acting roles. After almost 10 years of stunts he decided that it was enough for him and started to focus mainly on acting. After booking a couple big roles he knew he had made the right decision. He now acts full time as well as owns a food truck called "The Holy Grill" He has never been married and has no children. He hopes to continue to act and also will be making his directing debut in 2014. Recent films "Left Behind" and "Lets Be Cops" both will be released in 2014.
Richard Epcar is an actor / voice actor-director who has voiced over 300 characters in Games, Animation and Anime. Best known as the voice of Batou in Ghost in the Shell, The Joker in several Batman games including Injustice: Gods Among Us and Ansem in Kingdom Hearts. Starting out in Robotech, you've heard him in Korra, Lupin, Monster, Transformers, Star Wars, Bleach, Gundam, Babylon 5 and Power Rangers to name a few. He's also in many other games including: Final Fantasy, Saints Row, Arkham Origins, Skyrim, MK vs. DC, Call of Duty, Star Wars, Transformers, X-Com, Command & Conquer, Mortal Kombat, Dead or Alive, Dead Space, Dead Space, World of War Craft, League of Legends, Splinter Cell, Guilty Gears, and Resident Evil. Richard has voice directed many games including: Arkham Origins, Dead Island, Blue Dragon, Star Ocean, Unreal Tournament, Jackass, Smackdown vs. Raw, and voice directed many shows including: GITS 2, The Reef, Robotech Shadow Chronicles, Lupin the Third, etc. On Camera Richard has appeared in many shows including: Warehouse 13, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Columbo, Diagnosis Murder, Matlock, Cheers, Days of our Lives, General Hospital and a lead role in the soon to be released Broken Spirits.
Arion John Atken was born in Bellevue, Washington on December 28th, 1999, and was raised in San Francisco, CA by his mother Maelani. Ari is still a freshman in high school at the San Francisco School of Arts, where his discipline is in Vocal/ Musical Theatre. Ari discovered his passion for acting after playing the lead role of L'il Abner in the Musical L'il Abner with a local Musical Troupe Company in San Francisco, where he had been a player since the age of 9 yrs. old. Danny Duncan, his musical director, encouraged Ari to pursue his passion in acting and singing. Ari eventually signed with two talent agencies, one in San Francisco and the other in Los Angeles, where he quickly landed roles in several movies, and commercials. Ari hopes to one day become the next Batman and first American Doctor Who.
|Roger C. Carmel
Roger C. Carmel, who was born September 27, 1932, was named after his grandfather, Roger Charles, who carved the horses for the carousel in New York's Central Park. He became an actor and won television immortality by appearing as Harry Mudd in two classic "Star Trek" episodes, "I, Mudd" and "Mudd's Women." Carmel was one of the few actors, other than the regulars, to appear in two episodes of "Star Trek" as the same character.
After appearing on stage, Carmel began working steadily on television in the early 1960s as a character actor, appearing on both dramas ("Route 66") and situation-comedies ("The Dick Van Dyke Show"). The highlight of Carmel's non "Star Trek" acting career came in 1967, when he was cast as Kay Ballard's husband in the TV situation comedy "The Mothers in Law" by Desi Arnaz, the Cuban-born actor and entertainment impresario's first production since I Love Lucy.
The network, NBC, was disappointed by the mediocre ratings of "The Mothers-in-Law" and almost canceled it. It picked the show up for a second season after rival network ABC expressed interest in the show, but the network informed Arnaz that they would not give any additional money for the show. Traditionally, salaries are increased when a TV show is picked up for a new season, and all the actors' contracts specifically called for raises in the event of renewal.
Show creator Arnaz, who was also producer, director, and writer, called together the cast and crew and told them that although the series had been renewed, there was no money for salary increases. According to Carmel's own recollection, Arnaz was already drawing down multiple salaries on the program, and would shortly cast himself as a supporting character in the series, thus drawing another salary, although Carmel didn't know that at the time. Arnaz elicited a promise from the creative people, the crew and the actors to forgo salary increases to keep the show on the air. All the actors had agreed but one: Roger Carmel. He told Arnaz he would quit unless he received a raise, as per his contract.
In a contemporaneous account of the incident, Carmel said, "Desi called me and put it on a personal basis. I didn't feel it should be done that way - it was very unfair of him. Then Desi and the Morris Agency threatened I would be replaced. Kaye Ballard and Eve Arden also called me and asked me to go along, but I wouldn't."
Arnaz's response to Carmel's ultimatum was dismissive. "Where else is he going to make two thousand dollars a week?" the producer asked rhetorically. If Arnaz's Desilu production company gave in to Carmel, it would be faced with giving all the cast members a raise, which was financially unviable with the money on offer from NBC. Arnaz was forced to terminate Carmel, who was replaced by fellow "Dick Van Dyke Show" alumnus Richard Deacon for the second season. The show had poor ratings and was canceled after its second season.
After being fired from "The Mothers-in-Law,", Carmel's acting career suffered. Other than his Harry Mudd appearances, Carmel's most memorable gig on TV was as Colonel Gumm on "Batman" in 1967. He made regular appearances on the syndicated quiz TV show "Stump The Stars" from 1968 to 1970. Carmel even reprised his most famous role, that of Harry Mudd, in an episode of the animated version of "Star Trek" (1973-75), an indicator of the direction of his future career. However, during the 1970s, he could not secure another regular role as an ongoing character on a TV series, though he continued to appear regularly on sitcoms, mostly in ethnic roles, including appearances on "All In The Family," "Chico and The Man," and "Three's Company." He also appeared in B-movie bombs, including the Jerry Lewis flop "Hardly Working" (1981).
At the dawn of the new decade of the 1980s, Carmel finally got another opportunity for the first time in a dozen years, when he was cast as a regular on the network program "Fitz and Bones." An hour-long drama starring the TV comedy-musical duo The Smothers Brothers as investigative reporters, the show was a ratings failure, lasting only one month. After this monumental flop ("Fitz and Bones" was the lowest-rated series for the entire 1981-82 season), character parts dried up and Carmel was reduced to doing voice-over work for children's cartoons, including "The Transformers."
Carmel's last triumph as an actor was in commercials. Carmel was a huge hit in advertising playing Senor Naugles, a faux-Mexican Colonel Sanders clone, for the West Coast region Mexican fast food chain Naugles. The commercials were a success and the chain began expanding rapidly. However, both the renewed success of Roger C. Carmel and the fresh success of the chain were, sadly, to prove short-lived.
According to acquaintances, Carmel was struck by chest pains on the night he died and called a cab to take him to the hospital. When the cab showed up at his Hollywood high-rise but Carmel did not come down to get it, the doorman sent the cab away, never inquiring why he failed to appear. Carmel was found dead on the floor of his apartment the next morning, November 11, 1986. While there were rumors that he committed suicide (he was rumored to be a recreational drug user), the official cause of death was listed as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle in which the organ becomes enlarged. The condition leads to congestive heart failure, which apparently is what struck down Carmel. He was only 54 years old.
Roger C. Carmel's body was interred in Glendale, New York.
After Carmel's death, Naugles failed to come up with another successful ad campaign, and eventually, its financial fortunes changed. It was eventually acquired by rival Del Taco.
Peters made his Hollywood debut in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments as the boy on the donkey crossing the Red Sea. He went on to be a hard-case kid who spent his formative years in and out of reform school. Peters entered the family business of hairdressing at age 14. Armed with an instinctive genius for self-promotion, he amassed a huge celebrity clientele at his trendy Jon Peters Salon on Rodeo Drive, raking in millions by merchandising the salon's ancillary cosmetic products. Privy to confidences that the rich and famous only reveal to their hairdressers, Peters became hip to the ways and means of Hollywood. In 1974, he fell in love with his client Barbra Streisand and proceeded to manage her early music and film career. He produced her 1976 remake of A Star Is Born which yielded over $100 million at the box office and four Oscar nominations including the Oscar-winning song, "Evergreen". Peters went on to produce a string of best-selling Streisand albums, "The Main Event", The Eyes of Laura Mars" and "Caddyshack". Peters blossomed into an A-list producer, a status he's maintained over 30 years.
In 1980, Peters teamed with former Casablanca Records and Filmworks exec Peter Guber; together with Neil Bogart, Peters and Guber formed the Polygram Productions, later renamed the Boardwalk Company. A series of mergers and sell-offs later, Guber-Peters was born in 1983. The team's willingness to take enormous chances with huge amounts of money transformed Guber and Peters into the wunderkind of Hollywood, especially after such critical and financial successes as Missing (1982), Flashdance (1983), The Color Purple (1985), Witches of Eastwick (1987), Gorillas in the Mist (1988), and Rain Man (1989). Guber-Peters acquired Chuck Barris Productions (The Gong Show, The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game), cementing their role in television as Guber-Peters-Barris. The partnership took its biggest risk and scored its biggest hit with Batman (1989) which won Peters and his partner a multimillion-dollar seven-year WB contract. Within months, they were wooed away by Sony Corporation, which offered Guber and Peters one billion dollars to assume chief executive posts.
Peters left to start Peters Entertainment which has produced such blockbusters as Batman Returns, Wild Wild West, Ali, and Superman Returns. Peters has received over 254 nominations, and won multiple Oscars, Golden Globes, and Grammys. The producer's combined grosses exceed $6 Billion worldwide and will continue to soar with two Superman sequels and a Star is Born remake in development. Peters is the proud father of five children: Christopher, Caleigh, Jordan, Skye, and Kendyl. Through the Peters Family Foundation he supports the Christopher Reeve Foundation, Life Rolls On, Homeboy Industries, My Friend's Place, Cambodian Children's Fund, Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation, Heartfelt Foundation, The Laurence School, the Sheriff's Youth Foundation, and countless other youth charities.
Talented British actor Alastair Duncan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK in 1958. He debuted in TV film The Hounds of the Baskervilles (1988), opposite Jeremy Brett playing Sherlock Holmes. He did some feature films and made a guest appearance in few TV series, until he made a small breakout in low-budget, overrated, but darkly atmospheric Split Second (1992), opposite such actors as Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Michael J. Pollard and such British talents as Pete Postlethwaite and Alun Armstrong. He continued with guest roles on TV series and he acted in other films as War Dogs (1994), Trick of the Eye (1994)(TV), Dazzle (1995) (TV) and Tower of Terror (1997) (TV), opposite Steve Guttenberg, Kirsten Dunst and Nia Peeples. From the start of 2000s, he began a voice over work on video games and some animated features. He did voices in such video games as Warlords Battlecry, Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy (as Reborn), The Hobbit, Killer7, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, X Men II Legend: Rise of Apocalypse, Tomb Raider: Legend, Lara Croft Tomb Rider: Anniversary (Qualopec). Pirates of Caribbean: At World's End, and Mass Effect. He guested some more on such TV series as "Charmed", "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy", "Mad Men", "Diagnosis Murder", "Angel" and others. Most notably, he took over the voice over of Alfred in newest animated series "The Batman"(2008), just like in TV cartoon Batman VS Dracula (2005), here Batman voiced by Rhino Romano and Dracula is voiced by Peter Stormare.
Duncan is married to actress Anna Gunn (Deadwood, Enemy of the State), and they have a daughter Emma.
Ideal for playing swarthy villains, James Griffith's tall, dark and gaunt features and shady countenance invaded hundreds of film and TV dramas (and a few comedies) throughout his career on-camera. Highlighted by his arched brows, hooded eyes and prominent proboscis, heavy character work would be his largest source of income for nearly four decades.
He was born James J. Griffith, of Welsh ancestry, on February 13, 1916, in Los Angeles. He and sister Dorothy were raised in the Santa Monica area. An early interest in music led to his learning to play several instruments, including the clarinet and saxophone. He got his first taste of entertaining audiences by performing in local bands while arranging music for them as well. An interest in acting came about participating in school plays and continued when he found parts to play in small theatre houses in such productions as "They Can't Get You Down" in 1939.
Unable to consistently pay the bills, however, Griffith found steadier work at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica. Enlisting in the Marine Corps. in 1941, he served his country until 1947. Eventually married with a newborn, a chance meeting with bandleader Spike Jones while working as a gas station attendant led to a six month traveling gig with Jones' City Slicker Band playing tenor saxophone.
Griffith finally broke into "B" films with a smarmy but showy role as an insurance agent in the murder drama Blonde Ice. He continued to sniff out work in both drama and occasional comedy usually as unsympathetic or shady characters, sometimes billed and sometimes not. Some of his bigger, noteworthy parts in the early years came with the pictures Alaska Patrol, Indian Territory and Double Deal. He also took on some famous and infamous figures of history as in Fighting Man of the Plains (as William Quantrill), Day of Triumph (as Judas Iscariot), Jesse James vs. the Daltons (as outlaw Bob Dalton), The Law vs. Billy the Kid (as Pat Garrett), and Masterson of Kansas as Doc Holliday. He provided the voice of Abraham Lincoln in the Rod Cameron western Stage to Tucson.
TV took much of the mustachioed actor's time from the 1950s on, notably in westerns such as "The Lone Ranger," "Annie Oakley," "Gunsmoke," "The Big Valley," "Bonanza," "Death Valley Days," "The Gene Autry Show," "Wagon Train," "Rawhide," "Maverick," "Little House on the Prairie," "B.J. and the Bear" and "Dallas." Elsewhere on the small screen he played cold-hearted villains twice on "Batman" in support of the nefarious Ma Parker and Catwoman. Not to be pegged in just oaters, he also appeared in less dusty TV fare such as "The Streets of San Francisco," "Fantasy Island" and Emergency!" Griffith made his final acting appearance on a 1984 "Trapper John" episode.
A gifted raconteur, his later years were spent writing theatre plays and movie scripts, and attending film festivals. Two of his earlier movie scripts that found releases were Lorna (in which he also appeared), Shalako and Catlow. Griffith died of cancer on September 17, 1993, at age 77.
|Harry Van Gorkum
London-born, classically-trained actor Harry Van Gorkum holds an impressive career in all aspects of acting, including stage theater, film and television. After attending Lancaster University, Harry went on to act in theater, participating in stage productions throughout England, with an appearance in the award-winning Being At Home With Claude.On moving to America, Harry began to add to his acting resume with guest appearances on various television series including Seinfeld, Friends, Just Shoot Me, CSI,Jag,and perhaps most notably in The Nanny as a recurring character who was Fran Drescher's love interest. On film, Harry has appeared in Batman & Robin (1997), Gone In Sixty Seconds (2000) with Nicolas Cage and Escape Under Pressure (2000) with Rob Lowe. He also appeared with seasoned action stars Steven Segal in The Foreigner (2003), with Bruce Willis in Tears of the Sun (2003) and Sylvester Stallone in Avenging Angelo (2002). Harry also brought his comic skills to the screen in the recent Pink Panther 2 (2009) and was recurring on the final season of 24 (2010), playing the British Foreign Minister Louis Dalton. He has can also be seen in the top ten grossing film of 2010 Karate Kid, and two Disney shows I'm in the Band (2011) and Wizards of Waverly Place (2011).
|Gary Anthony Sturgis
Gary Anthony Sturgis is a New Orleans born actor/writer/director best-known for his portrayal of the villain in two of Tyler Perry's biggest hit films, "Diary of A Mad Black Woman" (as Jamison Jackson) and "Daddy's Little Girls" (as Joseph Woods). He also co-starred opposite Terrence Howard in "Pride", as the charming yet sinister pimp/drug dealer Franklin Washington. Recently, he has stepped out the role of bad guy to co-star in the comedy "Chicago Pulaski Jones" with Kel Mitchell and Cedric the Entertainer.
Also a professional voice artist, Sturgis has voiced network promos for UPN, CBS, PBS and ABC, cartoons and video games (Static Shock, Batman, Scooby Doo and The Cyber Chase, Fairly Odd Parents, Spiderman) and is heard on countless commercials for radio and television. His raspy bass-baritone voice that the women find hard to resist has even been heard on national movie trailers and promotions for; "Bones", "Two Can Play That Game", "The Others", "The Brothers" and "The Wood" to name a select few. In addition, he is also the voice for the History Channel's "K-9 Cops". For another surprise, Gary also produces and writes rap music and has a successful recording under the moniker Illuminati called Fahrenheit, which is still available on iTunes.
As a writer/producer, Gary is producing some of his own feature-length screenplays (he has written more than ten), and has packaged his works into three and four picture deals and commenced to shopping them around town for financing and distribution. We have only scratched the surface of this multi-faceted creative soul.
Since Sturgis had been writing for years, the next natural progression was to direct. After directing "Lend A Hand", a 90-second short film for the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Gary realized that directing was yet another feather he could stick in his talented cap. He also exercises his writing chops daily as a regular staff writer on the number-one urban comedy in the history of cable television, "House of Payne" and the latest Tyler Perry series, "Meet The Browns", on which he also plays a recurring character.
Gary will be directing two of his own films, a comedy, "The Inheritance" and an action drama, "Le Bon Temps Rouler", in the near future as the first two films from his production company, GEMFilmworks. The multi-hyphenated talent is already respected as an actor and plans to make an even bigger mark in the entertainment business while he perpetually broadens his horizons.