Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal was born in Los Angeles, to producer/screenwriter Naomi Foner (née Achs) and director Stephen Gyllenhaal. He is the brother of actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, who played his sister in Donnie Darko. His godmother is actress Jamie Lee Curtis. His mother is from a Jewish family and his father's ancestry includes Swedish, of the noble Swedish Gyllenhaal family, English, Swiss-German, and German. Gyllenhaal made his movie debut, at the age of 11, in the film City Slickers, playing Billy Crystal's son. He made impact in various films in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in films such as October Sky and as the title role in the cult phenomenon psychological thriller, Donnie Darko, for which he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor. He followed this with roles encompassing many different genres, including the comedy film, Walt Disney romantic comedy, Bubble Boy; opposite Jennifer Aniston in another Sundance favorite, The Good Girl, and in the science fiction blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow, which also starred Dennis Quaid. Making his theater debut, Gyllenhaal appeared on the London stage with a starring role in Kenneth Lonergan's revival of "This Is Our Youth". The play was widely-received and played for eight weeks in London's West End. Gyllenhaal followed his successful theater en devour with a role in Jarhead, playing an aggressive and masculine but equally vulnerable and sensitive Marine during the Gulf War. However, it was his follow-up performance that won critical acclaim in the controversial Brokeback Mountain, in which he co-starred with Australian actor Heath Ledger, as sheep herders who fall in love in the 1960s and depicts their relationship over the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. Gyllenhaal received both an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Since then, he has acted in a wide range of movies, ranging from the critically-acclaimed thriller, Zodiac, the action adventure film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, sporting a bulked-up physique, and the box office hit, Love & Other Drugs, in which he teamed up with Anne Hathaway, once again.
Gyllenhaal is the godfather of Matilda Ledger (aka Matilda Rose Ledger), daughter of the late actor Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams. Gyllenhaal's most significant personal relationships have been with actresses Kirsten Dunst and Reese Witherspoon. He is friends with Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine, having known him since kindergarten. He is a good friend of his sister's husband and Jarhead co-star, actor Peter Sarsgaard.
Jake has two dogs: a German Shepherd named "Atticus" and a Puggle named "Boo Radley" after the characters of his favorite book, "To Kill A Mockingbird".
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.
Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family. His parents, Rose (Gerardi) and Salvatore Pacino. divorced when he was young. His mother moved them into his grandparents' house. Pacino found himself often repeating the plots and voices of characters he had seen in the movies, one of his favorite activities. Bored and unmotivated in school, the young Al Pacino found a haven in school plays, and his interest soon blossomed into a full-time career. Starting on the stage, he went through a lengthy period of depression and poverty, sometimes having to borrow bus fare to make it to auditions. He made it into the prestigious Actors Studio in 1966, studying under legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, creator of the Method Approach that would become the trademark of many '70s-era actors. After appearing in a string of plays in supporting roles, he finally hit it big with "The Indian Wants the Bronx", winning an Obie award for the 1966-67 season. That was followed by a Tony Award for "Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie?". His first feature films made little departure from the gritty realistic stage performances that earned him respect: he played a junkie in The Panic in Needle Park after his film debut in Me, Natalie. What came next would change his life forever. The role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather was one of the most sought-after of the time: Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Ryan O'Neal, Robert De Niro and a host of others either wanted it or were mentioned for it, but director Francis Ford Coppola had his heart set on the unknown Italian Pacino for the role, although pretty much everyone else--from the studio to the producers to some of the cast members--didn't want him. Though Coppola won out through slick persuasion, Pacino was in constant fear of being fired during the hellish shoot. Much to his (and Coppola's) relief, the film was a monster hit that did wonders for everyone's career, including Pacino's, and earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Instead of taking on easier projects for the big money he could now command, however, Pacino threw his support behind what he considered tough but important films, such as the true-life crime drama Serpico and the tragic real-life bank robbery film Dog Day Afternoon. He opened eyes around the film world for his brave choice of roles, and he was nominated three consecutive years for the "Best Actor" Academy Award. He faltered slightly with Bobby Deerfield, but regained his stride with ...And Justice for All., for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. This would, unfortunately, signal the beginning of a decline in his career, which produced such critical and commercial flops as Cruising and Author! Author!. He took on another vicious gangster role and cemented his legendary status in the ultra-violent cult hit Scarface, but a monumental mistake was about to follow. Revolution endured an endless and seemingly cursed shoot in which equipment was destroyed, weather was terrible, and Pacino became terribly ill with pneumonia. Constant changes in the script also further derailed a project that seemed doomed from the start anyway. The Revolutionary War film is considered one of the worst films ever, not to mention one of the worst of his career, resulted in his first truly awful reviews and kept him off the screen for the next four years. Returning to the stage, Pacino has done much to give back and contribute to the theatre, which he considers his first love. He directed a film, The Local Stigmatic, but it remains unreleased. He lifted his self-imposed exile with the striking Sea of Love as a hard-drinking cop. It marked the second phase of Pacino's career, being the first to feature his now famous dark, owl eyes and hoarse, gravelly voice. Returning to the Corleones, he made The Godfather: Part III and earned raves for his first comedic role in the colorful Dick Tracy. This earned him another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and two years later he was nominated for Glengarry Glen Ross. He went into romantic mode for Frankie and Johnny. In 1992 he finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his amazing performance in Scent of a Woman. A mixture of technical perfection (he plays a blind man) and charisma, the role was tailor-made for him, and remains a classic. The next few years would see Pacino becoming more comfortable with acting and movies as a business, turning out great roles in great films with more frequency and less of the demanding personal involvement of his wilder days. Carlito's Way proved another gangster classic, as did the epic crime drama Heat directed by Michael Mann and co-starring Robert De Niro, although they only had a few scenes together. He returned to the director's chair for the highly acclaimed and quirky Shakespeare adaptation Looking for Richard. City Hall, Donnie Brasco and Devil's Advocate all came out in this period. Reteaming with Mann and then Oliver Stone, he gave two commanding performances in The Insider and Any Given Sunday.
In the 2000s, Pacino starred in a number of theatrical blockbusters, including _Ocean's Thirteen (2007)_, but his choice in television roles (the vicious Roy Cohn in HBO's miniseries Angels in America and his sensitive portrayal of Jack Kevorkian, in the television movie You Don't Know Jack) are reminiscent of the bolder choices of his early career. Each television project garnered him an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.
In his personal life, Pacino is one of Hollywood's most enduring and notorious bachelors, having never been married. He has a daughter, Julie Marie, with acting teacher Jan Tarrant, and a new set of twins with longtime girlfriend Beverly D'Angelo. His romantic history includes a long-time romance with "Godfather" co-star Diane Keaton. With his intense and gritty performances, Pacino was an original in the acting profession. His Method approach would become the process of many actors throughout time, and his unbeatable number of classic roles has already made him a legend among film buffs and all aspiring actors and directors. His commitment to acting as a profession and his constant screen dominance has established him as one of the movies' true legends.
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949, a decision for which he was severely criticized when his star began to dim in the 1960s and he was excoriated for squandering his talents. No actor ever exerted such a profound influence on succeeding generations of actors as did Brando. More than 50 years after he first scorched the screen as Stanley Kowalski in the movie version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and a quarter-century after his last great performance as Col. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, all American actors are still being measured by the yardstick that was Brando. It was if the shadow of John Barrymore, the great American actor closest to Brando in terms of talent and stardom, dominated the acting field up until the 1970s. He did not, nor did any other actor so dominate the public's consciousness of what WAS an actor before or since Brando's 1951 on-screen portrayal of Stanley made him a cultural icon. Brando eclipsed the reputation of other great actors circa 1950, such as Paul Muni and Fredric March. Only the luster of Spencer Tracy's reputation hasn't dimmed when seen in the starlight thrown off by Brando. However, neither Tracy nor Olivier created an entire school of acting just by the force of his personality. Brando did.
Marlon Brando, Jr. was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a calcium carbonate salesman, and his artistically inclined wife, the former Dorothy Julia Pennebaker. "Bud" Brando was one of three children. His ancestry included English, and smaller amounts of Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, and Scottish; his surname originated with a distant German immigrant ancestor named "Brandau". His oldest sister Jocelyn Brando was also an actress, taking after their mother, who engaged in amateur theatricals and mentored a then-unknown Henry Fonda, another Nebraska native, in her role as director of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Frannie, Brando's other sibling, was a visual artist. Both Brando sisters contrived to leave the Midwest for New York City, Jocelyn to study acting and Frannie to study art. Marlon managed to escape the vocational doldrums forecast for him by his cold, distant father and his disapproving schoolteachers by striking out for The Big Apple in 1943, following Jocelyn into the acting profession. Acting was the only thing he was good at, for which he received praise, so he was determined to make it his career - a high-school dropout, he had nothing else to fall back on, having been rejected by the military due to a knee injury he incurred playing football at Shattuck Military Academy, Brando Sr.'s alma mater. The school booted Marlon out as incorrigible before graduation.
Acting was a skill he honed as a child, the lonely son of alcoholic parents. With his father away on the road, and his mother frequently intoxicated to the point of stupefaction, the young Bud would play-act for her to draw her out of her stupor and to attract her attention and love. His mother was exceedingly neglectful, but he loved her, particularly for instilling in him a love of nature, a feeling which informed his character Paul in Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris") when he is recalling his childhood for his young lover Jeanne. "I don't have many good memories," Paul confesses, and neither did Brando of his childhood. Sometimes he had to go down to the town jail to pick up his mother after she had spent the night in the drunk tank and bring her home, events that traumatized the young boy but may have been the grain that irritated the oyster of his talent, producing the pearls of his performances. Anthony Quinn, his Oscar-winning co-star in Viva Zapata! told Brando's first wife Anna Kashfi, "I admire Marlon's talent, but I don't envy the pain that created it."
Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Konstantin Stanislavski, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theater would mark a watershed in American acting and culture.
Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in "I Remember Mama," a great success. As a young Broadway actor, Brando was invited by talent scouts from several different studios to screen-test for them, but he turned them down because he would not let himself be bound by the then-standard seven-year contract. Brando would make his film debut quite some time later in Fred Zinnemann's The Men for producer Stanley Kramer. Playing a paraplegic soldier, Brando brought new levels of realism to the screen, expanding on the verisimilitude brought to movies by Group Theatre alumni John Garfield, the predecessor closest to him in the raw power he projected on-screen. Ironically, it was Garfield whom producer Irene Mayer Selznick had chosen to play the lead in a new Tennessee Williams play she was about to produce, but negotiations broke down when Garfield demanded an ownership stake in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Burt Lancaster was next approached, but couldn't get out of a prior film commitment. Then director Elia Kazan suggested Brando, whom he had directed to great effect in Maxwell Anderson's play "Truckline Café," in which Brando co-starred with Karl Malden, who was to remain a close friend for the next 60 years.
During the production of "Truckline Café", Kazan had found that Brando's presence was so magnetic, he had to re-block the play to keep Marlon near other major characters' stage business, as the audience could not take its eyes off of him. For the scene where Brando's character re-enters the stage after killing his wife, Kazan placed him upstage-center, partially obscured by scenery, but where the audience could still see him as Karl Malden and others played out their scene within the café set. When he eventually entered the scene, crying, the effect was electric. A young Pauline Kael, arriving late to the play, had to avert her eyes when Brando made this entrance as she believed the young actor on stage was having a real-life conniption. She did not look back until her escort commented that the young man was a great actor.
The problem with casting Brando as Stanley was that he was much younger than the character as written by Williams. However, after a meeting between Brando and Williams, the playwright eagerly agreed that Brando would make an ideal Stanley. Williams believed that by casting a younger actor, the Neanderthalish Kowalski would evolve from being a vicious older man to someone whose unintentional cruelty can be attributed to his youthful ignorance. Brando ultimately was dissatisfied with his performance, though, saying he never was able to bring out the humor of the character, which was ironic as his characterization often drew laughs from the audience at the expense of Jessica Tandy's Blanche Dubois. During the out-of-town tryouts, Kazan realized that Brando's magnetism was attracting attention and audience sympathy away from Blanche to Stanley, which was not what the playwright intended. The audience's sympathy should be solely with Blanche, but many spectators were identifying with Stanley. Kazan queried Williams on the matter, broaching the idea of a slight rewrite to tip the scales back to more of a balance between Stanley and Blanche, but Williams demurred, smitten as he was by Brando, just like the preview audiences.
For his part, Brando believed that the audience sided with his Stanley because Jessica Tandy was too shrill. He thought Vivien Leigh, who played the part in the movie, was ideal, as she was not only a great beauty but she WAS Blanche Dubois, troubled as she was in her real life by mental illness and nymphomania. Brando's appearance as Stanley on stage and on screen revolutionized American acting by introducing "The Method" into American consciousness and culture. Method acting, rooted in Adler's study at the Moscow Art Theatre of Stanislavsky's theories that she subsequently introduced to the Group Theatre, was a more naturalistic style of performing, as it engendered a close identification of the actor with the character's emotions. Adler took first place among Brando's acting teachers, and socially she helped turn him from an unsophisticated Midwestern farm boy into a knowledgeable and cosmopolitan artist who one day would socialize with presidents.
Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Brando denounced Strasberg in his autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me" (1994), saying that he was a talentless exploiter who claimed he had been Brando's mentor. The Actors Studio had been founded by Strasberg along with Kazan and Stella Adler's husband, Harold Clurman, all Group Theatre alumni, all political progressives deeply committed to the didactic function of the stage. Brando credits his knowledge of the craft to Adler and Kazan, while Kazan in his autobiography "A Life" claimed that Brando's genius thrived due to the thorough training Adler had given him. Adler's method emphasized that authenticity in acting is achieved by drawing on inner reality to expose deep emotional experience
Interestingly, Elia Kazan believed that Brando had ruined two generations of actors, his contemporaries and those who came after him, all wanting to emulate the great Brando by employing The Method. Kazan felt that Brando was never a Method actor, that he had been highly trained by Adler and did not rely on gut instincts for his performances, as was commonly believed. Many a young actor, mistaken about the true roots of Brando's genius, thought that all it took was to find a character's motivation, empathize with the character through sense and memory association, and regurgitate it all on stage to become the character. That's not how the superbly trained Brando did it; he could, for example, play accents, whereas your average American Method actor could not. There was a method to Brando's art, Kazan felt, but it was not The Method.
After A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he received the first of his eight Academy Award nominations, Brando appeared in a string of Academy Award-nominated performances - in Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar and the summit of his early career, Kazan's On the Waterfront. For his "Waterfront" portrayal of meat-headed longshoreman Terry Malloy, the washed-up pug who "coulda been a contender," Brando won his first Oscar. Along with his iconic performance as the rebel-without-a-cause Johnny in The Wild One ("What are you rebelling against?" Johnny is asked. "What have ya got?" is his reply), the first wave of his career was, according to Jon Voight, unprecedented in its audacious presentation of such a wide range of great acting. Director John Huston said his performance of Marc Antony was like seeing the door of a furnace opened in a dark room, and co-star John Gielgud, the premier Shakespearean actor of the 20th century, invited Brando to join his repertory company.
It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionized American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean - who modeled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando - the young Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. After Brando, every up-and-coming star with true acting talent and a brooding, alienated quality would be hailed as the "New Brando," such as Warren Beatty in Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. "We are all Brando's children," Jack Nicholson pointed out in 1972. "He gave us our freedom." He was truly "The Godfather" of American acting - and he was just 30 years old.
In the second period of his career, 1955-62, Brando managed to uniquely establish himself as a great actor who also was a Top 10 movie star, although that star began to dim after the box-office high point of his early career, Sayonara (for which he received his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination). Brando tried his hand at directing a film, the well-reviewed One-Eyed Jacks that he made for his own production company, Pennebaker Productions (after his mother's maiden name). Stanley Kubrick had been hired to direct the film, but after months of script rewrites in which Brando participated, Kubrick and Brando had a falling out and Kubrick was sacked. According to his widow Christiane Kubrick, Stanley believed that Brando had wanted to direct the film himself all along.
Tales proliferated about the profligacy of Brando the director, burning up a million and a half feet of expensive VistaVision film at 50 cents a foot, fully ten times the normal amount of raw stock expended during production of an equivalent motion picture. Brando took so long editing the film that he was never able to present the studio with a cut. Paramount took it away from him and tacked on a re-shot ending that Brando was dissatisfied with, as it made the Oedipal figure of Dad Longworth into a villain. In any normal film Dad would have been the heavy, but Brando believed that no one was innately evil, that it was a matter of an individual responding to, and being molded by, one's environment. It was not a black-and-white world, Brando felt, but a gray world in which once-decent people could do horrible things. This attitude explains his sympathetic portrayal of Nazi officer Christian Diestl in the film he made before shooting One-Eyed Jacks, Edward Dmytryk's filming of Irwin Shaw's novel The Young Lions. Shaw denounced Brando's performance, but audiences obviously disagreed, as the film was a major hit. It would be the last hit movie Brando would have for more than a decade.
One-Eyed Jacks generated respectable numbers at the box office, but the production costs were exorbitant - a then-staggering $6 million - which made it run a deficit. A film essentially is "made" in the editing room, and Brando found cutting to be a terribly boring process, which was why the studio eventually took the film away from him. Despite his proved talent in handling actors and a large production, Brando never again directed another film, though he would claim that all actors essentially direct themselves during the shooting of a picture.
Between the production and release of One-Eyed Jacks, Brando appeared in Sidney Lumet's film version of Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending", The Fugitive Kind which teamed him with fellow Oscar winners Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. Following in Elizabeth Taylor's trailblazing footsteps, Brando became the second performer to receive a $1-million salary for a motion picture, so high were the expectations for this re-teaming of Kowalski and his creator (in 1961 critic Hollis Alpert had published a book "Brando and the Shadow of Stanley Kowalski). Critics and audiences waiting for another incendiary display from Brando in a Williams work were disappointed when the renamed The Fugitive Kind finally released. Though Tennessee was hot, with movie versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer burning up the box office and receiving kudos from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The Fugitive Kind was a failure. This was followed by the so-so box-office reception of One-Eyed Jacks in 1961 and then by a failure of a more monumental kind: Mutiny on the Bounty, a remake of the famed 1935 film.
Brando signed on to Mutiny on the Bounty after turning down the lead in the David Lean classic Lawrence of Arabia because he didn't want to spend a year in the desert riding around on a camel. He received another $1-million salary, plus $200,000 in overages as the shoot went overtime and over budget. During principal photography, highly respected director Carol Reed (an eventual Academy Award winner) was fired, and his replacement, two-time Oscar winner Lewis Milestone, was shunted aside by Brando as Marlon basically took over the direction of the film himself. The long shoot became so notorious that President John F. Kennedy asked director Billy Wilder at a cocktail party not "when" but "if" the "Bounty" shoot would ever be over. The MGM remake of one of its classic Golden Age films garnered a Best Picture Oscar nomination and was one of the top grossing films of 1962, yet failed to go into the black due to its Brobdingnagian budget estimated at $20 million, which is equivalent to $120 million when adjusted for inflation.
Brando and Taylor, whose Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century-Fox due to its huge cost overruns (its final budget was more than twice that of Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty), were pilloried by the show business press for being the epitome of the pampered, self-indulgent stars who were ruining the industry. Seeking scapegoats, the Hollywood press conveniently ignored the financial pressures on the studios. The studios had been hurt by television and by the antitrust-mandated divestiture of their movie theater chains, causing a large outflow of production to Italy and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s in order to lower costs. The studio bosses, seeking to replicate such blockbuster hits as the remakes of The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, were the real culprits behind the losses generated by large-budgeted films that found it impossible to recoup their costs despite long lines at the box office.
While Elizabeth Taylor, receiving the unwanted gift of reams of publicity from her adulterous romance with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, remained hot until the tanking of her own Tennessee Williams-renamed debacle Boom!, Brando from 1963 until the end of the decade appeared in one box-office failure after another as he worked out a contract he had signed with Universal Pictures. The industry had grown tired of Brando and his idiosyncrasies, though he continued to be offered prestige projects up through 1968.
Some of the films Brando made in the 1960s were noble failures, such as The Ugly American, The Chase and Reflections in a Golden Eye. For every "Reflections," though, there seemed to be two or three outright debacles, such as Bedtime Story, A Countess from Hong Kong and The Night of the Following Day. By the time Brando began making the anti-colonialist picture Burn! in Colombia with Gillo Pontecorvo in the director's chair, he was box-office poison, despite having worked in the previous five years with such top directors as Arthur Penn, John Huston and the legendary Charles Chaplin, and with such top-drawer co-stars as David Niven, Yul Brynner, Sophia Loren and Taylor.
The rap on Brando in the 1960s was that a great talent had ruined his potential to be America's answer to Laurence Olivier, as his friend William Redfield limned the dilemma in his book "Letters from an Actor" (1967), a memoir about Redfield's appearance in Burton's 1964 theatrical production of "Hamlet." By failing to go back on stage and recharge his artistic batteries, something British actors such as Burton were not afraid to do, Brando had stifled his great talent, by refusing to tackle the classical repertoire and contemporary drama. Actors and critics had yearned for an American response to the high-acting style of the Brits, and while Method actors such as Rod Steiger tried to create an American style, they were hampered in their quest, as their king was lost in a wasteland of Hollywood movies that were beneath his talent. Many of his early supporters now turned on him, claiming he was a crass sellout.
Despite evidence in such films as The Chase, The Appaloosa and Reflections in a Golden Eye that Brando was in fact doing some of the best acting of his life, critics, perhaps with an eye on the box office, slammed him for failing to live up to, and nurture, his great gift. Brando's political activism, starting in the early 1960s with his championing of Native Americans' rights, followed by his participation in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's March on Washington in 1963, and followed by his appearance at a Black Panther rally in 1968, did not win him many admirers in the establishment. In fact, there was a de facto embargo on Brando films in the recently segregated (officially, at least) southeastern US in the 1960s. Southern exhibitors simply would not book his films, and producers took notice. After 1968, Brando would not work for three years.
Pauline Kael wrote of Brando that he was Fortune's fool. She drew a parallel with the latter career of John Barrymore, a similarly gifted thespian with talents as prodigious, who seemingly threw them away. Brando, like the late-career Barrymore, had become a great ham, evidenced by his turn as the faux Indian guru in the egregious Candy, seemingly because the material was so beneath his talent. Most observers of Brando in the 1960s believed that he needed to be reunited with his old mentor Elia Kazan, a relationship that had soured due to Kazan's friendly testimony naming names before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. Perhaps Brando believed this, too, as he originally accepted an offer to appear as the star of Kazan's film adaptation of his own novel, The Arrangement. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Brando backed out of the film, telling Kazan that he could not appear in a Hollywood film after this tragedy. Also reportedly turning down a role opposite box-office king Paul Newman in a surefire script, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Brando decided to make Burn! with Pontecorvo. The film, a searing indictment of racism and colonialism, flopped at the box office but won the esteem of progressive critics and cultural arbiters such as Howard Zinn.
Kazan, after a life in film and the theater, said that, aside from Orson Welles, whose greatness lay in filmmaking, he only met one actor who was a genius: Brando. Richard Burton, an intellectual with a keen eye for observation if not for his own film projects, said that he found Brando to be very bright, unlike the public perception of him as a Terry Malloy-type character that he himself inadvertently promoted through his boorish behavior. Brando's problem, Burton felt, was that he was unique, and that he had gotten too much fame too soon at too early an age. Cut off from being nurtured by normal contact with society, fame had distorted Brando's personality and his ability to cope with the world, as he had not had time to grow up outside the limelight.
Truman Capote, who eviscerated Brando in print in the mid-'50s and had as much to do with the public perception of the dyslexic Brando as a dumbbell, always said that the best actors were ignorant, and that an intelligent person could not be a good actor. However, Brando was highly intelligent, and possessed of a rare genius in a then-deprecated art, acting. The problem that an intelligent performer has in movies is that it is the director, and not the actor, who has the power in his chosen field. Greatness in the other arts is defined by how much control the artist is able to exert over his chosen medium, but in movie acting, the medium is controlled by a person outside the individual artist. It is an axiom of the cinema that a performance, as is a film, is "created" in the cutting room, thus further removing the actor from control over his art. Brando had tried his hand at directing, in controlling the whole artistic enterprise, but he could not abide the cutting room, where a film and the film's performances are made. This lack of control over his art was the root of Brando's discontent with acting, with movies, and, eventually, with the whole wide world that invested so much cachet in movie actors, as long as "they" were at the top of the box-office charts. Hollywood was a matter of "they" and not the work, and Brando became disgusted.
Charlton Heston, who participated in Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington with Brando, believes that Marlon was the great actor of his generation. However, noting a story that Brando had once refused a role in the early 1960s with the excuse "How can I act when people are starving in India?", Heston believes that it was this attitude, the inability to separate one's idealism from one's work, that prevented Brando from reaching his potential. As Rod Steiger once said, Brando had it all, great stardom and a great talent. He could have taken his audience on a trip to the stars, but he simply would not. Steiger, one of Brando's children even though a contemporary, could not understand it. When James Mason' was asked in 1971 who was the best American actor, he had replied that since Brando had let his career go belly-up, it had to be George C. Scott, by default.
Paramount thought that only Laurence Olivier would suffice, but Lord Olivier was ill. The young director believed there was only one actor who could play godfather to the group of Young Turk actors he had assembled for his film, The Godfather of method acting himself - Marlon Brando. Francis Ford Coppola won the fight for Brando, Brando won - and refused - his second Oscar, and Paramount won a pot of gold by producing the then top-grossing film of all-time, The Godfather, a gangster movie most critics now judge one of the greatest American films of all time. Brando followed his iconic portrayal of Don Corleone with his Oscar-nominated turn in the high-grossing and highly scandalous Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris"), the first film dealing explicitly with sexuality in which an actor of Brando's stature had participated. He was now again a Top-Ten box office star and once again heralded as the greatest actor of his generation, an unprecedented comeback that put him on the cover of "Time" magazine and would make him the highest-paid actor in the history of motion pictures by the end of the decade. Little did the world know that Brando, who had struggled through many projects in good faith during the 1960s, delivering some of his best acting, only to be excoriated and ignored as the films did not do well at the box office, essentially was through with the movies.
After reaching the summit of his career, a rarefied atmosphere never reached before or since by any actor, Brando essentially walked away. He would give no more of himself after giving everything as he had done in "Last Tango in Paris," a performance that embarrassed him, according to his autobiography. Brando had come as close to any actor to being the "auteur," or author, of a film, as the English-language scenes of "Tango" were created by encouraging Brando to improvise. The improvisations were written down and turned into a shooting script, and the scripted improvisations were shot the next day. Pauline Kael, the Brando of movie critics in that she was the most influential arbiter of cinematic quality of her generation and spawned a whole legion of Kael wanna-bes, said Brando's performance in Last Tango in Paris had revolutionized the art of film. Brando, who had to act to gain his mother's attention; Brando, who believed acting at best was nothing special as everyone in the world engaged in it every day of their lives to get what they wanted from other people; Brando, who believed acting at its worst was a childish charade and that movie stardom was a whorish fraud, would have agreed with Sam Peckinpah's summation of Pauline Kael: "Pauline's a brilliant critic but sometimes she's just cracking walnuts with her ass." Probably in a simulacrum of those words, too.
After another three-year hiatus, Brando took on just one more major role for the next 20 years, as the bounty hunter after Jack Nicholson in Arthur Penn's The Missouri Breaks, a western that succeeded neither with the critics or at the box office. From then on, Brando concentrated on extracting the maximum amount of capital for the least amount of work from producers, as when he got the Salkind brothers to pony up a then-record $3.7 million against 10% of the gross for 13 days work on Superman. Factoring in inflation, the straight salary for "Superman" equals or exceeds the new record of $1 million a day Harrison Ford set with K-19: The Widowmaker. Before cashing his first paycheck for Superman, Brando had picked up $2 million for his extended cameo in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in a role, that of Col. Kurtz, that he authored on-camera through improvisation while Coppola shot take after take. It was Brando's last bravura performance, though he did receive an eighth and final Oscar nomination for A Dry White Season after coming out of a near-decade-long retirement. Contrary to those who claimed he now only was in it for the money, Brando donated his entire seven-figure salary to an anti-apartheid charity.
Brando had first attracted media attention at the age of 24, when "Life" magazine ran a photo of himself and his sister Jocelyn, who were both then appearing on Broadway. The curiosity continued, and snowballed. Playing the paraplegic soldier of The Men, Brando had gone to live at a Veterans Administration hospital with actual disabled veterans, and confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks. It was an acting method, research, that no one in Hollywood had ever heard of before, and that willingness to experience life.
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Ohio, Chris Columbus was first inspired to make movies after seeing "The Godfather" at age 15. After enrolling at NYU film school, he sold his first screenplay (never produced) while a sophomore there. After graduation Columbus tried to sell his fourth script, "Gremlins", with no success, until Steven Spielberg optioned it; Columbus moved to Los Angeles for a year during rewrites on the project in Spielberg's bungalow at Universal. After writing two more scripts for Spielberg, "The Goonies" and "Young Sherlock Holmes", Columbus' own directing career was launched a few years later with "Adventures in Babysitting". He is best known to audiences as the director of the runaway hit "Home Alone", written and produced by John Hughes its sequel "Home Alone 2", and most recently "Mrs. Doubtfire".
Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953. He began attending The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre In New York City on the G.I. Bill in 1955, studying under Sanford Meisner along with Dustin Hoffman, with whom Duvall shared an apartment. Both were close to another struggling young actor named Gene Hackman. Meisner cast Duvall in the play "The Midnight Caller" by Horton Foote, a link that would prove critical to his career, as it was Foote who recommended Duvall to play the mentally disabled "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird. This was his first "major" role since his 1956 motion picture debut as an MP was in Somebody Up There Likes Me, starring Paul Newman.
Duvall began making a name for himself as a stage actor in New York, winning an Obie Award in 1965 playing incest-minded longshoreman "Eddie Carbone" in the off-Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge", a production for which his old roommate Hoffman was assistant director. He found steady work in episodic TV and appeared as a modestly billed character actor in films, such as Arthur Penn's The Chase with Marlon Brando and in Robert Altman's Countdown and Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People, in both of which he co-starred with James Caan.
He was also memorable as the heavy who is shot by John Wayne at the climax of True Grit and was the first "Maj. Frank Burns", creating the character in Altman's Korean War comedy MASH. He also appeared as the eponymous lead in George Lucas' directorial debut, THX 1138. It was Francis Ford Coppola, casting The Godfather, who reunited Duvall with Brando and Caan and provided him with his career breakthrough as mob lawyer "Tom Hagen". He received the first of his six Academy Award nominations for the role.
Thereafter, Duvall had steady work in featured roles in such films as The Godfather: Part II, The Killer Elite, Network, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The Eagle Has Landed. Occasionally this actor's actor got the chance to assay a lead role, most notably in Tomorrow, in which he was brilliant as William Faulkner's inarticulate backwoods farmer. He was less impressive as the lead in Badge 373, in which he played a character based on real-life NYPD detective Eddie Egan, the same man his old friend Gene Hackman had won an Oscar for playing, in fictionalized form as "Popeye Doyle" in The French Connection.
It was his appearance as "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in another Coppola picture, Apocalypse Now, that solidified Duvall's reputation as a great actor. He got his second Academy Award nomination for the role, and was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most versatile actor in the world. Duvall created one of the most memorable characters ever assayed on film, and gave the world the memorable phrase, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!".
Subsequently, Duvall proved one of the few established character actors to move from supporting to leading roles, with his Oscar-nominated turns in The Great Santini and Tender Mercies, the latter of which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Now at the summit of his career, Duvall seemed to be afflicted with the fabled "Oscar curse" that had overwhelmed the careers of fellow Academy Award winners Luise Rainer, Rod Steiger and Cliff Robertson. He could not find work equal to his talents, either due to his post-Oscar salary demands or a lack of perception in the industry that he truly was leading man material. He did not appear in The Godfather: Part III, as the studio would not give in to his demands for a salary commensurate with that of Al Pacino, who was receiving $5 million to reprise Michael Corleone.
His greatest achievement in his immediate post-Oscar period was his triumphant characterization of grizzled Texas Ranger Gus McCrae in the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove, for which he received an Emmy nomination. He received a second Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in Stalin, and a third Emmy nomination playing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in The Man Who Captured Eichmann.
The shakeout of his career doldrums was that Duvall eventually settled back into his status as one of the premier character actors in the industry, rivaled only by his old friend Gene Hackman. Duvall, unlike Hackman, also has directed pictures, including the documentary We're Not the Jet Set, Angelo My Love and Assassination Tango. As a writer-director, Duvall gave himself one of his most memorable roles, that of the preacher on the run from the law in The Apostle, a brilliant performance for which he received his third Best Actor nomination and fifth Oscar nomination overall. The film brought Duvall back to the front ranks of great actors, and was followed by a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for A Civil Action.
Robert Duvall will long be remembered as one of the great naturalistic American screen actors in the mode of Spencer Tracy and his frequent co-star Marlon Brando. His performances as "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird, "Jackson Fentry" in Tomorrow, "Tom Hagen" in the first two "Godfather" movies, "Frank Hackett" in Network, "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in Apocalypse Now, "Bull Meechum" in The Great Santini, "Mac Sledge" in Tender Mercies, "Gus McCrae" in Lonesome Dove and "Sonny Dewey" in The Apostle rank as some of the finest acting ever put on film. It's a body of work that few actors can equal, let alone surpass.
Born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, the daughter of two college professors, Lauren grew up in the upstate New York town of Geneva. Her childhood was split between experiences that contrasted. She was privy to the shelter of growing up in a rural town and also exposed due to the erudite sophistication of her parents' academic careers. Lauren spent time traveling in Europe and lived for a year in London, where she studied languages and flute at the famed Sarah Siddons School. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in New York, Lauren credits her love of acting to her great-grandmother who bred a family tradition of "treading the boards" on the musical theatre stages of Liverpool and London. Lauren's breakthrough motion picture performance came in the New Line Cinema's box-office smash, Dumb & Dumber, with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Lauren captured the hearts of audiences, as "Mary Swanson", the woman who drove Jim Carrey to follow her across the country to pledge his love. Next, she received glowing reviews for her performance in the Edward Burns drama, No Looking Back, as a woman whose life in a small seaside community is turned upside down by the reappearance of her ex-boyfriend. Lauren's other film credits include Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday," with Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Fox, Sydney Pollack's "Sabrina," starring Harrison Ford, the action-drama "Turbulence," co-starring Ray Liotta, the Miramax ensemble "Beautiful Girls," a lead role in the Universal production of "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story," "A Smile Like Yours," "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane," the comedy "Down Periscope," starring Kelsey Grammer, "Entropy" and "The Last Producer," starring and directed by Burt Reynolds.In television, Lauren's credits are no less impressive. Lauren recently starred in 2 films for Hallmark. She also boasts three seasons as Director Jenny Shepard in CBS/Paramount Television's top-rated drama series NCIS. Lauren was seen in the TNT movie "King of Texas," an adaptation of Shakespeare's "King Lear," playing opposite Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden and renowned actor Patrick Stewart, and in the NBC miniseries "Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot," alongside Jill Hennessy and Leslie Stefanson. Additionally, Lauren starred as plastic surgeon Jeremy Hanlon on David E. Kelley's Emmy Award-nominated CBS drama, "Chicago Hope," marking her second project with Kelley, following their successful collaboration on the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning series, "Picket Fences." Lauren has worked on numerous Independent films. These feature films include the political thriller "Fatwa," in which she not only acted but also served as a producer, the Peter Schwaba penned and directed comedy "Godfather of Green Bay," "The Chumscrubber," an Arie Posen directed, independent film to be released by DreamWorks, "Pleasure Drivers," directed by acclaimed cinematographer Andrej Sekula and co-starring Angus McFadden, a Lifetime movie "Caught in the Act," which she also produced, and "Chasing 3000". Most recently, Lauren starred in "You're So Cupid" with Brian Krause and Jeremy Sumpter. Additional projects contributing to the broad and diverse body of motion picture work Lauren has compiled include the drama "Colored Eggs" with Faye Dunaway, the comedy "Raising Flagg" playing opposite Oscar winner Alan Arkin, the Darrell Roodt directed HBO thriller, "Pavement", co-starring Robert Patrick and Paramount Pictures', and "What Women Want" opposite Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. In addition, Lauren served a lead role in Disney's Oscar winning animated motion picture "Spirited Away" as the voice of Chihiro's Mother. Coming up she will play a lead in "Perfect Age of Rock and Roll," produced by Spike Lee. Lauren currently [march, 2014] makes her home in Toronto, Canada with her "three kings", sons Alexander, George, and Henry.
Diane Keaton was born Diane Hall in Los Angeles, California, to Dorothy Deanne (Keaton), an amateur photographer, and John Newton Ignatius "Jack" Hall, a civil engineer and real estate broker. Her ancestry includes Irish, English, German, and Scottish.
Keaton studied Drama at Santa Ana College before dropping out to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. After appearing in summer stock for several months, she got her first major stage role in the Broadway rock musical "Hair." As understudy to the lead, she gained attention by not removing any of her clothing. In 1970, Woody Allen cast her in his Broadway play "Play It Again, Sam," which had a successful run. It was during this time that she became involved with Allen and appeared in a number of his films. The first one was Play It Again, Sam, the screen adaptation of the stage play. That same year Francis Ford Coppola cast her as Kay in the Oscar-winning The Godfather, and she was on her way to stardom. She reprized that role in the film's first sequel, The Godfather: Part II. She then appeared with Allen again in Sleeper and Love and Death.
In 1977 she broke away from her comedy image to appear in the chilling Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which won her a Golden Globe nomination. It was the same year that she appeared in what many regard as her best performance, in the title role of Annie Hall, which Allen wrote specifically for her (her real last name is Hall, and her nickname is Annie), and what an impact she made. She won the Oscar and the British Award for Best Actress, and Allen won the Directors Award from the DGA. She started a fashion trend with her unisex clothes and was the poster girl for a lot of young males. Her mannerisms and awkward speech became almost a national craze. The question being asked, though, was, "Is she just a lightweight playing herself, or is there more depth to her personality?" For whatever reason, she appeared in but one film a year for the next two years and those films were by Allen. When they broke up she was next involved with Warren Beatty and appeared in his film Reds, as the bohemian female journalist Louise Bryant. For her performance she received nominations for the Academy Award and the Golden Globe. For the rest of the 1980s she appeared infrequently in films but won nominations in three of them. Attempting to break the typecasting she had fallen into, she took on the role of a confused, somewhat naive woman who becomes the tool of Middle Eastern terrorists in The Little Drummer Girl. To offset her lack of movie work, Diane began directing. She directed the documentary Heaven, as well as some music videos. For television she directed an episode of the popular, but strange, Twin Peaks.
In the 1990s she began to get more mature roles, though she reprized the role of Kay Corleone in the third "Godfather" epic, The Godfather: Part III. She appeared as the wife of Steve Martin in the hit Father of the Bride and again in Father of the Bride Part II. In 1993 she once again teamed with Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery, which was well received. In 1995 she received high marks for Unstrung Heroes, her first major feature as a director.
One of Hollywood's most private and guarded leading men, Andy Garcia has created a few iconic characters while at the same time staying true to his acting roots and personal projects.
Garcia was born on April 12, 1956, in Havana, Cuba, to Amelie Menéndez, a teacher of English, and René García Núñez, an attorney and avocado farmer. Garcia's family was relatively affluent. However, when he was two years old, Fidel Castro came to power, and the family fled to Miami Beach. Forced to work menial jobs for a while, the family started a fragrance company that was eventually worth more than a million dollars. He attended Natilus Junior High School and later at Miami Beach Senior High School. Andy was a popular student in school, a good basketball player and good-looking. He dreamed of playing professional baseball. In his senior year, though, he contracted mononucleosis and hepatitis, and unable to play sports, he turned his attention to acting.
He studied acting with Jay W. Jensen. Jensen was a South Florida legend, counting among his numerous students, Brett Ratner, Roy Firestone, Mickey Rourke, and Luther Campbell. Following his positive high school experiences in acting, he continued his drama studies at Florida International University.
Soon, he was headed out to Hollywood. His first break came as a gang member on the very first episode of the popular TV series Hill Street Blues. His role as a cocaine kingpin in 8 Million Ways to Die put him on the radar of Brian De Palma, who was casting for his gangster classic The Untouchables. At first, he envisioned Garcia as Al Capone's sadistic henchman Frank Nitti, but fearing typecasting as a gangster, Garcia campaigned for the role of "George Stone", the Italian cop who gets accepted into Eliot Ness' famous band of lawmen. Garcia's next notable role came in Black Rain by acclaimed director Ridley Scott, as the partner of police detective Michael Douglas. He then co-starred with Richard Gere in Internal Affairs, directed by Mike Figgis. In 1989, Francis Ford Coppola was casting for the highly anticipated third installment of his "Godfather" films. The Godfather: Part III included one of the most sought-after roles in decades, the hot-headed son of "Sonny Corleone" and mob protégé of "Michael Corloene", "Vincent Mancini". A plum role for any young rising star, the role was campaigned for by a host of actors. Val Kilmer, Alec Baldwin, Vincent Spano, Charlie Sheen, and even Robert De Niro (who wanted the role changed to accommodate his age) were all beaten out by the up-and-coming Garcia. His performance was Oscar-nominated as Best Supporting Actor, and secured him international stardom and a place in cinematic history. Now a leading man, he starred in such films as Jennifer 8 and Hero. He won raves for his role as the husband of Meg Ryan in When a Man Loves a Woman and gave another charismatic gangster turn in Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead. He then returned in Night Falls on Manhattan, directed by Sidney Lumet, as well as portraying legendary mobster Lucky Luciano in Hoodlum. In perhaps his most mainstream role, he portrayed a cop in the action film Desperate Measures. Garcia then starred in a few lower-profile projects that didn't do much for his career, but things turned around in 2001, with the first of many projects being his role as a cold casino owner in Ocean's Eleven, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Seeing his removal from Cuba as involuntary, Garcia is proud of his heritage which influences his life and work. One such case is his portrayal of renowned Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval in For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story. He is an extremely private man, and strong believer in old-fashioned chivalry. Married to his wife, Maria Victoria, since 1982, the couple has three daughters. One of the most talented leading men around, Garcia has had a unique career of staying true to his own ideals and thoughts on acting. While some would have used some of the momentum he has acquired at different points in his career to get rich off lightweight projects, Garcia has stayed true to stories and films that aspire to something more. But with a presence and style that never seem old, a respect from directors and film buffs, alike, Andy Garcia will be remembered for a long time in film history.
Shaquille O'Neal is regarded as one of the most dominant athletes and arguably the most gregarious personality in sports history. He wrote an autobiography (Shaq Talks Back), preserves an online presence for his fan base and produced a number of albums (Biological Didn't Bother, Shaq-Fu: Da Return, etc.), and starred in select movies (Steel, Kazaam, Blue Chips). He has played for 4 NBA teams: the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, the Phoenix Suns, and currently the Cleveland Cavaliers.
O'Neal graduated from Louisiana State University and is the only current NBA player with an MBA (Master of Business Administration). Shaq is also one of the few NBA players in history to reach the NBA Finals with three different teams. His charisma on and off the court helped create a worldwide reputation as "Godfather of the NBA."
As a result of his father's influence and military background, Shaq has made public service a priority in his life, ranging from donations to charities and organizations across the country to working as a reserve police officer in Los Angeles, Miami, and Phoenix. He intends to pursue a career in politics and/or sports ownership upon retiring from the NBA.
John Cazale was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to an Irish-American mother, Cecilia (Holland), and an Italian-American father, John Cazale. Cazale only made five feature films in his career, all which many fans and critics alike call classics. But before his film debut, the short The American Way, he won numerous Obie Awards for his stage performances in "The Indian Wants the Bronx" and "The Line".
Cazale scored the role of Fredo Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, after his long time friend, Al Pacino, invited him to audition. He reprised his role as the troubled Fredo in The Godfather: Part II, where his character endures one of the most infamous movie moments in the history of cinema.
Cazale's fourth feature film, Dog Day Afternoon, earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Sal, a bank robber. His long time friend and Godfather co-star, Al Pacino, played his partner, Sonny.
His final film, The Deer Hunter, was filmed whilst he was ill with cancer. He was in a relationship with his co-star, Meryl Streep, whilst filming The Deer Hunter, whom he met when they both appeared in the New York Public Theater's 1976 production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.
Controversy occurred during the filming. While the studio was unaware of his condition, the director, Michael Cimino, knew about it. As Cazale was evidently weak, he was forced to film his scenes first. When the studio discovered he was suffering from cancer, they wanted him removed from the film. His co-star and girlfriend, Meryl Streep, threatened to quit if he was fired. He died shortly after filming was completed.
Raised on Manhattan's Upper West Side (his father was a dentist with a thriving practice in Harlem), Evans began his show-business career as a teenage radio act or. After flopping in his first attempt at movie acting, he took a job promoting sales of ladies' slacks for Evan-Picone, the clothing company founded and run by his brother. Some years later, Norma Shearer spotted him hanging around the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel; she successfully touted him for the role of Irving Thalberg in Man of a Thousand Faces. In a New York nightclub, Evans also caught the eye of Darryl F. Zanuck, who cast him as a bullfighter in The Sun Also Rises. By the end of the fifties, Evans writes, "I was sure of one thing: I was a half-assed actor." He determined to recast himself as a producer. Before launching his first picture, though, he was hired by Charles Bluhdorn, head of the Gulf + Western conglomerate, as part of a shakeup of Paramount Pictures.
Within months Evans was head of production. In the late 1960s and early '70s, he became the quintessential "new Hollywood" executive, with: slickly packaged productions like Rosemary's Baby, Love Story and The Godfather revived Paramount. (The latter film and Chinatown are the artistic highlights of Evans' Paramount career, though the amount of credit he deserves for them has been debated for decades.) Eased out of Paramount, he saw The Cotton Club turn from a musical "Godfather" into a fiasco of front-page proportions. Evans righted his career with a new Paramount deal in the 1990s.
Native New Yorker and Italianate Bruno Kirby tended towards assertive, pushy, streetwise characters and was armed with a highly distinctive scratchy tenor voice that complemented his slim eyes and droopy puss and accentuated his deadpan comedic instincts on film and TV. The well-regarded character actor was born Bruno Giovanni Quidaciolu--his father is actor Bruce Kirby--on April 28, 1949, in New York City, and was raised in that city's Hells Kitchen section.
In the late 1960s he moved with his family to California. His career began to rev up in the early 1970s with a part in the TV pilot episode of M*A*S*H and roles in the films The Young Graduates, The Harrad Experiment, Cinderella Liberty and Superdad. Most notable of all, however, was his featured part as Young Clemenza alongside Robert De Niro's young Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Part II. Bruno also played Richard S. Castellano's son in the short-lived ethnic sitcom The Super. Coincidentally, Castellano played older Clemenza in the original The Godfather.
On stage in the 1980s and 1990s, Bruno appeared in "On the Money" (1983) and "Geniuses" (1985) and later replaced Kevin Spacey on Broadway in "Lost in Yonkers" in 1991. In 1997 he showcased off-Broadway, playing writer Alan Zweibel in "Bunny Bunny," Zweibel's tribute to comedienne Gilda Radner and their close 14-year friendship.
Bruno's close association with director Rob Reiner and actor Billy Crystal arguably led to the apex of his film career. In the early 1980s he chummed around with both Reiner and Crystal on a softball team, along with writer/actor/director Christopher Guest. Bruno wound up playing Crystal's best buddy in two of Crystal's biggest box-office hits -- When Harry Met Sally... and City Slickers. He also appeared in Reiner's cult hit This Is Spinal Tap. Other important film roles for him included his humorless lieutenant in Good Morning, Vietnam, the refined salesman named "Mouse" in Tin Men and Marlon Brando's nephew in The Freshman, that more or less amusingly parodied the "Godfather" association.
Bruno was equally effective in taut, heavier stories and supported such up-and-coming stars as Leonardo DiCaprio in the dark and downbeat The Basketball Diaries and Johnny Depp in the mob family-styled drama Donnie Brasco. On TV he was a regular on It's Garry Shandling's Show., played dogged prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in the miniseries Helter Skelter, which was a reenactment of the Charles Manson family horror, and appeared on the more popular shows of the day, such as Entourage. He was married for the first time to actress Lynn Sellers in 2004 at age 55. His brother John is a well-known acting coach. An occasional TV director to boot, Bruno was diagnosed with leukemia shortly before his death on August 14, 2006, after having completed his part in the film Played starring Gabriel Byrne.
As might be said for the late and great comedians Harvey Korman and Madeline Kahn, it seems that Mel Brooks was the only director on the planet who knew how to best utilize this funnyman's talents on film. Brooks once quipped that, whenever he hired Dom DeLuise for one of his films, he would instinctively add another two days to the schedule because of the constant laughter Dom provided on the set -- especially when the camera started rolling.
The lovable, butterball comedian was a mainstay on 1960s and '70s TV variety as a "second banana" or comedy relief player. While his harsher critics believed his schtick was better served in smaller doses, Dom nevertheless went on to find some range in a few moving, more restrained projects. Those few glimpses behind all the mirth and merriment revealed a dramatic actor waiting to be unleashed. As they say, behind every clown's smile, one can find a few tears.
He was born Dominick DeLuise on August 1, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, to parents John, a sanitation engineer, and Vicenza (DeStefano) DeLuise, both Italian immigrants. A natural class clown, it helped Dom fit in at school, and he started drawing belly laughs fairly young on stage. His very first school play had him portraying an inert copper penny! He later attended New York's High School of Performing Arts, but when it came to college, he decided to major in biology at Tufts University near Boston. He never got the idea of being a comedian out of his head, however, and the obsession eventually won out.
Dom's formative years as an actor were spent apprenticing at the Cleveland Playhouse in which he gamely played roles in everything from "Guys and Dolls" and "Stalag 17" to "The School for Scandal" and "Hamlet." He earned his first professional paycheck playing Bernie the dog in a production called "Bernie's Last Wish." Dom also got a taste of the camera in Cleveland appearing on the local TV kiddie's show "Tip Top Clubhouse."
Back in NYC, he took over the lead role of Tinker the toymaker in another children's local program, Tinker's Workshop, for one season in 1958. He also started making noise on the off-Broadway scene. Appearing in the plays "The Jackass" and "All in Love," he became part of the featured ensemble of the 1961 musical revue "An Evening with Harry Stoones," which included 19-year-old Barbra Streisand. More outlandish musical roles came his way in the early 1960s with "Little Mary Sunshine" (as Corporal Billy Jester) and "The Student Gypsy, or the Prince of Liederkrantz" (his Broadway debut as Muffin T. Raggamuffin). While appearing in the light-hearted summer stock spoof "Summer & Smirk" in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Dom met fellow performer Carol Arthur (née Carol Arata). They married on November 23, 1965. Their three sons, Peter DeLuise, Michael DeLuise and David DeLuise all got into the show business act. In 1971, Dom returned successfully to Broadway in a perfectly-suited Neil Simon vehicle, "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers."
Dom was first noticed on the smaller screen creating the sketch character of Dominick the Great, a magician who tries in vain to mask his ineptness with feigned dignity on Garry Moore's popular show. The rolypoly comedian truly thrived in this TV variety atmosphere and soon began popping up all over the place (The Hollywood Palace, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Jackie Gleason Show). Balding, blushing, dimpled and moon-faced (comparisons of a ripe tomato were not off the mark), he was readily equipped with a beaming, clench-toothed smile that became his trademark. At his best, looking embarrassed or agitated, the laughs usually came at his own expense whether playing a panic-stricken klutz or squirming Nervous Nelly type. Dom took the magician character to the ensemble comedy show The Entertainers, which also showcased Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart, and found more regular employment as a bumbling private eye in puppeteer Shari Lewis' daytime children's program and as a foil for Dean Martin on the entertainer's regular and summer replacement shows. Dom again repeated his Dominick the Great character on Martin's show and received great reception. He later found himself part of Martin's "in-crowd" of comedians on his "celebrity roasts."
Dom's obvious comic genius was more apparent and succeeded better in tandem with others than it did on its own. Hosting duties for his very first comedy/variety program The Dom DeLuise Show, which featured wife Carol as part of the regular roster, lasted only one summer. The sitcom Lotsa Luck, which showcased Dom as bachelor Stanley Belmont having to contend with a live-in mother (a harping Kathleen Freeman) and sister (an ungainly Beverly Sanders), was canceled after its first season. He gave it a rest for awhile before trying once again with the sketch-like sitcom The Dom DeLuise Show, but it, too, quickly faded. Another brief stint was as host of a revamped Candid Camera.
While Dom made an unlikely film debut as a high-strung flier in the gripping nuclear drama Fail Safe starring Henry Fonda, it was in zany, irreverent comedy that he found his true calling. Appearing in support of others such as Sid Caesar and Mary Tyler Moore, respectively, in the so-so comedies The Busy Body and What's So Bad About Feeling Good?, he proved a delight as an inept, dim-witted spy in the Doris Day caper The Glass Bottom Boat.
Mel Brooks first cast Dom as the miserly Father Fyodor in his film The Twelve Chairs, and found plenty of room for the comedian after that -- as campy director Buddy Bizarre in Blazing Saddles, the silly-ass director's assistant in Silent Movie, Emperor Nero in History of the World: Part I, the voice of the cheese-oozing Pizza the Hutt in the "Star Wars" parody Spaceballs, and as Sherwood Forest's very own puffy-cheeked Godfather, Don Giovanni, in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
A very close friend of action star Burt Reynolds, Dom romped through a number of Reynolds' freewheeling films as well, including Smokey and the Bandit II, The Cannonball Run and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. One of his finest scene-stealing film roles, in fact, was as Reynolds' schizo pal in The End. Dom went on to direct a number of stage productions for his close friend at the Burt Reynolds Theatre in Jupiter, Florida -- among them "Butterflies Are Free," "Same Time, Next Year" (starring Burt and Carol Burnett), "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (starring son Peter), and the musical "Jump" (featuring wife Carol). Still another comic buddy, Gene Wilder, handed Dom the roles of the indulgent opera star in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother and perturbed movie mogul Adolf Zitz in The World's Greatest Lover. Dom later joined Wilder once again, along with Wilder's wife Gilda Radner, in the unfunny comedy Haunted Honeymoon, a lame, creaky-house spoof that even Dom in full drag could not salvage.
Change-of-pace roles were few in the offering. One occurred for Dom as the compulsive-eating protagonist in Fatso. Directed by and co-starring Brooks' wife Anne Bancroft, Dom managed to draw both comedy and pathos. Obesity was also a chronic, real-life problem for the comedian and, at one point in 1999, it was reported that he had tipped the scales at 325 lbs. On a positive note, this passion for food actually fed into a more lucrative sideline -- as a respected chef and culinary author ("Eat This" and "Eat This Too") in which he appeared all over the tube cooking and demonstrating his favorite recipes. He also wrote children's books on the sly.
Dom tackled broad comedy films with great abandon -- a wallflower he was not -- but it was a hit-and-miss affair. Some of his biggest misses were the Mae West disaster Sextette, the Dudley Moore showcase Wholly Moses! (although Dom was arguably the best thing in it), Loose Cannons, in which he appeared as portly pornographer Harry "The Hippo" Gutterman, Driving Me Crazy, which filmed far away in Germany, and The Silence of the Hams [aka The Silence of the Hams], a parody on the horror genre in which he played Dr. Animal Cannibal Pizza.
Films could also be a family affair. True to life, Dom played a sympathetic kiddie show host in the moving TV-movie Happy. Also the executive producer, he was joined by wife Carol and all three sons in the cast. In addition, Dom offered a cameo in Between the Sheets, a film that was written by Peter, was directed, edited and executive-produced by Michael, and featured roles for the rest of the family.
Dom's voiceover skills did not go by untapped either, which included the animated feature films The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail and All Dogs Go to Heaven, plus all of their offshoots. The heavily-bearded DeLuise even displayed scene-stealing antics on the operatic scene, once playing the speaking part of Frosch the Jailer in the operetta "Die Fledermaus" at the Metropolitan Opera.
Suffering from various physical ailments in later years, some of which were exacerbated by his chronic obesity and diabetes, Dom's health declined, and he died in 2009 at age 75. His wife and three children survived him, as did three grandchildren.
Udo Kier was born October 14, 1944 in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. His entrance was just as dramatic as some of his roles. On the evening of his birth Udo's mother requested extra time with her new baby. The nurses had gathered all of the other babies and returned them to the nursery when the hospital was bombed. He and his mother were rescued from underneath the rubble. Udo didn't know much about his father. When Udo was 18 he moved to Britain in order to learn the English language. While there he took a few acting courses. He was eventually offered a role by director Michael Sarne as a gigolo in the film Road to Saint Tropez. While the role was small, it was the beginning of his career in films. His first "hit" film was Mark of the Devil (Mark of the Devil). The film was rated "V" for violence and ticket buyers were offered vomit bags before the film started. It was banned in 31 countries but spawned two sequels (both without Kier). The film is notorious for its exploitation of sex and violence (the uncut version was remastered and re-released on video in 1997).
Kier met director Paul Morrissey on an airplane trip. Morrissey offered him the lead role in the 3-D Flesh for Frankenstein. It was this film, along with its sister film Blood for Dracula, that made Udo a cult figure. Both Morrissey films are also known as Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Dracula; however, Andy Warhol was not involved in the production or creation of the films. Both were rated X when released. One of Kier's most vivid memories from "Flesh for Frankenstein" was the infamous "internal organ" scene. Real animal organs were used that were left unrefrigerated on the set for several hours. Udo had to pull the organs out of a prop dummy with his bare hands and hold them up to his face. He has said he will never forget that smell. When this film was finished the cast and crew began immediately filming "Blood for Dracula". Udo remembers both of these films fondly and regards "Dracula" over "Frankenstein" as his favorite of the two (in 1996 both films were released by Criterion on DVD totally uncut).
In the 1970s some of Kier's work included The Salzburg Connection, The Story of O (The Story of O), Spermula and Trauma (House on Straw Hill). Much of his work has been dubbed with someone else's voice. In Suspiria there were some technical difficulties with the sound while his scene was shot. In the 1980s some of his work included Lulu, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (The Blood of Dr Jekyll), The Island of the Bloody Plantation (Escape from Blood Plantation) and Seduction: The Cruel Woman (Seduction: The Cruel Woman). In the 1980s Kier did very little work outside of Europe. In the 1990s he had a lot more visibility in America and his breakthrough role was as Hans in My Own Private Idaho (the soundtrack includes the song that Udo performs in the film). Even Cowgirls Get the Blues reunited Kier with his friend Keanu Reeves yet again. Udo was cast as Pamela Anderson's sidekick in Barb Wire and played Ron Camp in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective opposite Jim Carrey. In the 1990s some of the films he was in included The Kingdom, For Love or Money, Breaking the Waves, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Blade and Armageddon.
Over his 30-year career Udo has worked with several brilliant directors: Paul Morrissey, Charles Matton, Dario Argento, Gus Van Sant and Walerian Borowczyk. he continues to work often with Lars von Trier and is the godfather of Van Trier's child as well as a good friend. Von Trier is currently working on a film entitled Dimension which is a project that spans 30 years. Every year the cast and crew (including Udo) meet to shoot footage. The film will show the actors age 30 years without make-up or special effects. Approximately seen years of footage has already been shot. The premiere will take place in 2024! Kier's acting career ranges from art house films (Europa) to gore fests (Blackest Heart (German Chainsaw Massacre)) to television commercials. He says he loves horror films and wants to do more of them. He enjoys playing villains, as he feels it is more interesting because evil has no limits. Currently Udo lives in California and spends much of his time working in Europe, where he receives larger roles and more recognition.
Jocelin Donahue is a native of Bristol, Connecticut. She is a graduate of New York University with a degree in Sociology. After a supporting role in The Burrowers, Donahue was cast as the lead in Ti West's critically acclaimed horror film The House of the Devil, winning Best Actress at the 2009 LA Screamfest. She went on to play leading roles in The Last Godfather by Korean filmmaker Shim Hyung-rae, and in the independent films Live at the Foxes Den and The Living. She appeared in The End of Love, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and worked with director Terrence Malick on Knight of Cups. She played a young version of Barbara Hershey's character in Insidious: Chapter 2, which was released in September 2013. As a commercial actress, she has appeared in numerous national campaigns, including ads for Levi's, Zune, Vitamin Water, Apple, and Subway. In campaigns for Ketel One and Old Navy, she worked with directors David O. Russell and Roman Coppola.
As a freshman, Chance played guard for Ithaca College in the Division III National Championship in Phenix City, Alabama. His maternal grandfather was screenwriter William Fay and, planning to follow his grandfather's lead, Chance transferred to New York University and earned a BA in English & Writing. But, after losing a bet and in spite of a profound fear of public speaking, he entered an acting class. He was so terrified that he gave his first monologue (Brick from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) to a brick wall. Though scolded by the teacher for his foolishness, he embraced this experience and the thrill of the process of acting. While pursuing his acting career, he also entered the amateur boxing circuit in NYC, winning the Superheavyweight division of the NYC Metros tournament. The following year, he entered the NYC Golden Gloves, winning his first fight by knockout, only to have to subsequently drop out of the competition for work on the film "The Devil's Own." A few years later, he also earned an MS from Columbia University. After toiling in the business for several more years, he was fortunate enough to earn the role of Lt. Col. Stephen "Godfather" Ferrando in HBO's Generation Kill. The experience would change his life forever, propelling his career, creating friendships with countless Marines, Marine supporters & fans, as well as with Col. Ferrando himself. On Memorial Day 2009, he was appointed Honorary Marine by the Marine Corps League (Cpl. Philip A. Reynolds Detachment - 203, Freehold, New Jersey) for his work in Generation Kill. Chance remains forever indebted to the Marines for this honor, and regards them as the backbone of this country. He continues his writing pursuits and has three scripts in development now.
Born in Chiswick, London just ten days after the German surrender in 1945, Townshend grows up in a typical middle-class home. His parents, Cliff and Betty Townshend, are both musicians, and as a child he accompanies them on dance band tours. Townshend starts playing guitar at 12. He goes to art school and, after several stints in local semi-professional bands, forms the rock group The Who in 1963 with singer Roger Daltrey, bass player John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. The Who start out as the ultimate, violent anti-establishment band; they soon gain notoriety for ear-splitting live performances, smashing their equipment on stage and wrecking hotel rooms, leaving havoc everywhere they go. As the group's mastermind and main songwriter, Townshend later establishes himself as an eminent musical auteur and the thinking man's rock guitarist after penning such now legendary concept albums as "Tommy", the abandoned "Lifehouse" and "Quadrophenia", which combine the energy of rock'n'roll with the orchestral and thematic ambitions of opera. After Keith Moon's accidental death in 1978 and a few unconvincing farewell tours with new drummer Kenney Jones, The Who break up. The 80's find Townshend struggling with his identity as an aging rock godfather, fighting drug problems and increasing hearing troubles. In 1989, he roars back with a 25th anniversary tour of The Who, later a Broadway revival of "Tommy" (an eventual Tony winner) and several other ambitious musical, theater and film projects. Widely known as the windmilling, leaping about guitarist for The Who, Townshend is also a premier songwriter, accurately self-reflective lyricist and inspired multi-media entrepreneur. Both "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" were made into energetic films. The Kids Are Alright, the band's biography movie, is interesting not only for The Who fans, but also from a filmmaker's point of view. Townsend's haunting songs have been used on the soundtrack of countless pictures. He stands out as one of rock music's most gifted and influential artists who has, despite being forever tied to the rebellious image of his youth, decided to somehow grow old with dignity.
Frederic Forrest, the Oscar-nominated character actor, was born two days before Christmas Day 1936 in Waxahachie, Texas, the same home town as director Robert Benton. Forrest had long wanted to be an actor, but he was so nervous that he ran out of auditions for school plays. Later, at Texas Christian University, he took a minor in theater arts while majoring in radio and television studies. His parents opposed his aspirations as a thespian as it was a precarious existence, but he moved on to New York and studied with renowned acting teacher Sanford Meisner. He eventually became an observer at the Actors Studio, where he was tutored by Lee Strasberg. During this time, he supported himself as a page at the NBC Studios in Rockefeller Plaza.
His theatrical debut was in the Off-Broadway production of "Viet-Rock", an anti-war play featuring music. He became part of avant-garde director Tom O'Horgan's stock company at La Mama, appearing in the infamous "Futz", among other productions. He made his uncredited debut in The Filthy Five, a low-budget movie directed by sexploitation auteur Andy Milligan, but he racked up his first credit in O'Horgan's very bizarre screen adaptation of Futz, a satire about a farmer who falls in love with a hog.
After starring in the off-Broadway play "Silhouettes", Forrest moved with the production to Los Angeles, intent on breaking into movies. While the production ran for three months and was visited by agents bird-dogging new talent, Forrest got no offers and had to support himself as a pizza-baker after the show closed. Eventually, he began auditing classes at Actors Studio West, and director Stuart Millar saw him in a student showcase production of Clifford Odets' "Watiting for Lefty" and cast him in When the Legends Die. He copped a 1973 Golden Globe nomination as "Most Promising Newcomer - Male" for the role, losing out to Edward Albert in Butterflies Are Free. For the first time in his film acting career, Frederic Forrest looked like he was poised for stardom.
His follow-up picture, the pitiful The Godfather rip-off The Don Is Dead, did nothing for his career, although a small part in "Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation would later pay dividends. Except for a small role in the disappointing The Missouri Breaks and his TV turn as Lee Harvey Oswald in CBS' Ruby and Oswald, Forrest had little to show in the first part of his career. Coppola was about to change that.
Playing "Chef Hicks" in Apocalypse Now garnered Forrest the best notices of his career, and he parlayed that into Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations as Best Supporting Actor for The Rose, his second hit that year. He was named Best Supporting Actor by the National Society of Film Critics for both films, and once again he seemed poised on the verge of stardom. Like the first time, stardom did not come.
His aspirations were to do quality work and play a romantic lead. "I would like to not have to fit into somebody else's story and have my scenes cut because I'm too strong", he told a journalist circa 1980. "And next time, I'd like to get the girl instead of the horse".
He did get the romantic lead he pined for, but it was a case of "Be careful what you wish for, as you might just get it". Coppola, so instrumental in propelling Forrest into the first rank of character actors, cast him as the romantic lead in One from the Heart, a picture that proved to be one of the great financial debacles of all time. It bankrupted Coppola's studio, American Zoetrope, and engendered a fierce backlash against the director and the film in Hollywood.
Forrest and co-star Teri Garr were both egregiously miscast in Coppola's re-imagining of the musical due to the simple fact that neither could sing or dance and had no place in any kind of musical, traditional or re-imagined. Coppola reportedly never came out of "Silverfish", the Winnebago-like trailer he had transformed into a control center from which he directed the film via television monitors, a first in the industry. For his masterpieces The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and Apocalypse Now, he had left the visuals in the very able hands of his cinematographers, Gordon Willis and Vittorio Storaro. Coppola was a first-rate screenwriter with a sure hand, eliciting performances from actors as notoriously difficult as Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, but by locking himself away from the set in a trailer to oversee the visual scope of his picture, there was little he seemingly could do to prevent the floundering of his two leads. More concerned with technology than his actors, he lost his touch. One from the Heart turned out to be a disaster and, except for one more lead in a Coppola-produced film, Wim Wenders' underwhelming Hammett, Forrest's career as a leading man was through.
In 1983, he played a supporting role in Valley Girl in an unmemorable performance, a role that could have been played by any actor, something one couldn't say about his "Chef" in Apocalypse Now. Chef had been as essential to the success of the film as had Martin Sheen's Willard and Brando's Col. Kurtz. Increasingly, Forrest began appearing on television and, by 1987, was in the cast of the series 21 Jump Street on the new Fox TV network, lasting only one season before being ignominiously replaced by Steven Williams. In addition to an appearance in the mini-series Lonesome Dove, Mr. Forrest's fine portrayal of "Lomax" in Die Kinder, showed the ability which has been too often unrealized.
Also known as Quincy Combs, he is the son of model and actress Kim Porter and Sean Combs. Quincy is a singer, model and actor. His biological father is 80's New Jack Swing singer Al B. Sure!. Quincy was born on June 4, 1991 in New York, he was named after his godfather music legend Quincy Jones. He grew up in Columbus Georgia and later moved to Los Angeles where he graduated from Calabasas High School.
Ivonne Coll is a TV, film and theater actress born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Her film debut as the "redheaded Yolanda" in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather II made her an international star and one of the first Puerto Rican actresses to cross over from the Latin world to Hollywood.
After representing Puerto Rico in the Miss Universe Pageant, the show provided the perfect opportunity to showcase her many talents which included singing, dancing and acting, with looks evocative of the legendary Rita Hayworth. She trained in drama directly with Lee Strassberg, comedy with Lucille Ball and music theater with David Craig. In 1972 she performed for the troops as part of the USO Tour making her the first Puertorican performer to sing for the troops stationed in Vietnam.
On Broadway, she has starred and performed alongside luminaries such as Katie Bates and Jane Alexander in Goodbye Fidel and played the role of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare's Macbeth. She also starred in the Tony nominated Chronicle of a Death Foretold to great reviews. In 2006 she was cast as the lead in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Tony Award winning La Jolla Playhouse, a vivid revival directed by Obie Award-winner Lisa Peterson. Her performance of Mother Courage won her a Best Actress Nomination by the San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle. Ivonne Coll received the ACE Award by the NY Hispanic Media for her performance in Orinoco with the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. She is also the recipient of the Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Performance by the San Diego Critics Circle and was nominated for the Jefferson Award as Best Supporting actress by the Actors Equity Association. She won the prestigious Agueybana de Oro in Puerto Rico for her performance in the highly rated soap Coralito.
Television credits include Nip Tuck, An American Family, Chicago Hope, NYPD Blue, The Practice, The Division, Saturday Night Live, Cold Case, Joan of Arcadia, LA LAW, Wings, The Bold & The Beautiful, Days of our Lives and the new ABC Family show Switched at Birth where she recurs in the role of Adriana. She has also joined the cast of the hit TV show Glee on Fox.
Her upcoming film Hemingway & Gelhorn starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owens will be released by HBO in 2012.
William Wyler was an American filmmaker who, at the time of his death in 1981, was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema. The winner of three Best Director Academy Awards, second again only to Ford's four, Wyler's reputation has unfairly suffered as the lack of an obvious "signature" in his diverse body of work denies him the honorific "auteur" that has become a standard measure of greatness in the post-"Cahiers du Cinema" critical community. Estimable, but inferior, directors typically are praised more than is Wyler, due to an obviousness of style that makes it easy to encapsulate their work. However, no American director after D.W. Griffith and the early Cecil B. DeMille, not even the great Orson Welles, did as much to fully develop the basic canon of filmmaking technique than did Wyler -- once again, with the caveat of John Ford.
Wyler's directorial career spanned 45 years, from silent pictures to the cultural revolution of the 1970s. Nominated a record 12 times for an Academy Award as Best Director, he won three and in 1966, was honored with the Irving Thalberg Award, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' ultimate accolade for a producer. So high was his reputation in his lifetime that he was the fourth recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, after Ford, James Cagney and Welles. Along with Ford and Welles, Wyler ranks with the best and most influential American directors, including Griffith, DeMille, Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg.
Born Willi Wyler on July 1, 1902, in Mulhouse in the province of Alsace, then a possession of Germany, to a Swiss father and a German mother, Wyler used his family connections to establish himself in the film industry. Upon being offered a job by his mother's first cousin, Universal Studios head Carl Laemmle, Wyler emigrated to the US in 1920 at the age of 18. After starting in Universal's New York offices as an errand boy, he moved his way up through the organization, ending up in the California operation in 1922.
Wyler was given the opportunity to direct in July 1925, with the two-reel western The Crook Buster. It was on this film that he was first credited as William Wyler, though he never officially changed his name and would be known as "Willi" all his life. For almost five years he performed his apprenticeship in Universal's "B" unit, turning out a score of low-budget silent westerns. In 1929 he made his first "A" picture, Hell's Heroes, Universal's first all-sound movie shot outside a studio. The western, the first version of the "Three Godfathers" story, was a commercial and critical success.
The initial years of the Great Depression brought hard times for the film industry, and Universal went into receivership in 1932, partially due to financial troubles brought about by rampant nepotism and the runaway production costs rung up by producer Carl Laemmle Jr., the son of the boss. There were 70 Laemmle family members on the Universal payroll at one point, including Wyler. In 1935 "Uncle" Carl was forced to sell the studio he had created in 1912 with the 1912 merger of his Independent Motion Picture Co. with several other production companies. Wyler continued to direct for Universal up until the end of the family regime, helming Counsellor at Law, the film version of Elmer Rice's play featuring one of John Barrymore's more restrained performances, and The Good Fairy, a comedy adapted from a Ferenc Molnár play by Preston Sturges and starring Margaret Sullavan, who was Wyler's wife for a short time. Both films were produced by his cousin, "Junior" Laemmle. Emancipated from the Laemmle family, Wyler subsequently established himself as a major director in the mid-1930s, when he began directing films for independent producer Samuel Goldwyn. Willi would soon find his freedom fettered by the man with the fabled "Goldwyn touch," which entailed bullying his directors to recast, rewrite and recut their films, and sometimes replacing them during shooting.
The first of the Wyler-Goldwyn works was These Three, based on Lillian Hellman's lesbian-themed play "The Children's Hour" (the Sapphic theme was jettisoned in favor of a more conventional heterosexual triangle due to censorship concerns, but it resurfaced intact when Wyler remade the film a quarter-century later). His first unqualified success for Goldwyn was Dodsworth, an adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' portrait of a disintegrating American marriage, a marvelous film that still resonates with audiences in the 21st century. He received his first Best Director Oscar nomination for this picture. The film was nominated for Best Picture, the first of seven straight years in which a Wyler-directed movie would earn that accolade, culminating with Oscars for both Willi and Mrs. Miniver in 1942.
Wyler's potential greatness can be seen as early as "Hell's Heroes," an early talkie that is not constrained by the restrictions of the new technology. The climax of the picture, with Charles Bickford's dying badman walking into town, is a long tracking shot that focuses not on the actor himself but the detritus that he shucks off to lighten his load as he brings a baby back to a cradle of civilization. The scene is a harbinger of the free-flowing style that would become a hallmark of his work. However, it was with "Dodsworth" that Wyler began to establish his critical reputation. The film features long takes and a probing camera, a style that Wyler would make his own.
Now established as Goldwyn's director of choice, Wyler made several films for him, including Dead End and Wuthering Heights. Essentially an employee of the producer, Wyler clashed with Goldwyn over aesthetic choices and longed for his freedom. Goldwyn had demanded that the ghetto set of "Dead End" be spruced up and that "clean garbage" be used in the water tank representing the East River, over Wyler's objections. Goldwyn prevailed, as he did later with the ending of "Wuthering Heights." After Wyler had finished principal photography on the film, Goldwyn demanded a new ending featuring the ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy reunited and walking away towards what the audience would assume is heaven and an eternity of conjoined bliss. Wyler opposed the new ending and refused to shoot it. Goldwyn had his ending shot without Wyler and had it tacked onto the final cut. It was an artistic betrayal that rankled Willi.
Goldwyn loaned out Wyler to other studios, and he made Jezebel and The Letter for Warner Bros. Working with Bette Davis in the two masterpieces, as well as in Goldwyn's The Little Foxes, Wyler elicited three of the great diva's finest performances. In these films and his films of the mid-to-late 1930s, Wyler pioneered the use of deep-focus cinematography, most famously with lighting cameraman Gregg Toland. Toland shot seven of the eight films Wyler directed for Goldwyn: "These Three", Come and Get It, "Dead End," "Wuthering Heights" (for which Toland won his only Academy Award), The Westerner, "The Little Foxes" and The Best Years of Our Lives. Compositions in Wyler pictures frequently featured multiple horizontal planes with various characters arranged in diagonals at varying distances from the camera lens. Creating an illusion of depth, these deep-focus shots enhanced the naturalism of the picture while heightening the drama.
As the photography of Wyler's films was used to serve the story and create mood rather than call attention to itself, Toland was later mistakenly given credit for creating deep-focus cinematography along with another great director, Orson Welles, in Citizen Kane. In truth, Wyler's first use of deep-focus cinematography was in 1935, with "The Good Fairy," on which Norbert Brodine was the lighting cameraman. It was the first of his films featuring deep-focus shots and the diagonal compositions that became a Wyler leitmotif. The film also includes a receding mirror shot a half-decade before Toland and Welles created a similar one for "Citizen Kane."
Wyler won his first Oscar as Best Director with "Mrs. Miniver" for MGM, which also won the Oscar for Best Picture, the first of three Wyler films that would be so honored. Made as a propaganda piece for American audiences to prepare them for the sacrifices necessitated by World War II, the movie is set in wartime England and elucidates the hardships suffered by an ordinary, middle-class English family coping with the war. An enthusiastic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after seeing the film at a White House screening, said, "This has to be shown right away." The film also won Oscars for star Greer Garson and co-star Theresa Wright, for cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg and for Best Screenplay.
After "Miniver," Wyler went off to war as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps. One of his more memorable propaganda films of the period was a documentary about a B-17 bomber, The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, He also directed the Navy documentary The Fighting Lady, an examination of life aboard an American aircraft carrier. Though the later film won an Oscar as Best Documentary, "The Memphis Belle" is considered a classic of its form. The making of the documentary was even the subject of a 1990 feature film of the same name. "The Memphis Belle" focuses on the eponymous B-17 bomber and its 25th, and last, air raid flown from a base in England. The documentary features aerial battle footage that Wyler and his crew shot over the skies of Germany. One of his photographic crew, flying in another plane, was killed during the filming of the air battles. Wyler himself lost the hearing in one ear and became partially deaf in the other due to the noise and concussion of the flak bursting around his aircraft.
Wyler's first picture upon returning from World War II would prove to be the last movie he made for Goldwyn. A returning veteran like those portrayed in "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), this film won Wyler his second Oscar. The movie, which featured a moving performance by real-life veteran and double amputee Harold Russell, struck a universal chord with Americans and was a major box office hit. It was the second Wyler-directed picture to be named Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film also won Oscars for star Fredric March and co-star Russell (who was also given an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans"), film editor Daniel Mandell, composer Hugo Friedhofer and screenwriter Robert E. Sherwood, and was instrumental in garnering the Irving Thalberg Award for Samuel Goldwyn, who also took home the Best Picture Oscar that year as "Best Years" producer.
Though Wyler elicited some of the finest performances preserved on film, ironically he could not communicate what he wanted to an actor. A perfectionist, he became known as "40-Take Wyler", shooting a scene over and over again until the actors played it the way he wanted. With his use of long takes, actors were forced to act within each take as their performances would not be covered in the cutting room. His long takes and lack of cutting slowed down the pacing of his films, providing a greater feeling of continuity within each scene and intimately involving the audience in the development of the drama. The story in a Wyler film was allowed to unfold organically, with no tricky editing to cover up holes in the script or to compensate for an inadequate performance. Wyler typically rehearsed his actors for two weeks before the beginning of principal photography.
While more actors won Academy Awards in Wyler movies, 14 out of a total of 36 nominations (more than any other two directors combined), few actors worked more than once or twice with him. Bette Davis worked on three films with him and won Academy Award nominations for each performance and an Oscar for "Jezebel." On their last collaboration, "The Little Foxes" (1941), Davis walked off the production for two weeks after clashing with Wyler over how her character should be played.
He proved hard on other experienced actors, such as Laurence Olivier in "Wuthering Heights," who gave credit to Willi for turning him from a stage actor into a movie actor. "This isn't the Opera House in Manchester," Wyler told Olivier, his way of conveying that he should tone down his performance. A year earlier, Wyler had forced Henry Fonda through 40 takes on the set of "Jezebel," Wyler's only direction being "Again" after each repeated take. When Fonda demanded some input on what he was doing wrong, Wyler replied only: "It stinks. Do it again." According to Charlton Heston, Wyler approached him early in the shooting of Ben-Hur and told him that his performance was inadequate. When a dismayed Heston asked him what he should do, "Be better" is all that Wyler could supply. In his autobiography, Elia Kazan, a famed "actor's director", tells how he offered advice to an actor acquaintance of his who was making a Wyler picture as he knew that the great director was inarticulate about acting and would be unable to give advice.
Wyler believed that after many takes, actors got angry and began to shed their preconceived ideas about acting in general and the part in particular. Stripped of these notions, actors were able to play at a truer level. It is a process that Stanley Kubrick would subsequently use on his post-2001: A Space Odyssey films, though to different results, creating an otherworldly anti-realism rather than the more naturalistic truth of a Wyler movie performance. Wyler's method often meant that his films went over schedule and over budget, but he got results. The performances in Wyler films are part of this craftsman's consummate skill for injecting thoughtfulness into his movies while avoiding sentimentality and pandering to the audience. A Wyler film demands that his audience, like his actors, become intelligent collaborators of his.
William Wyler's reputation has suffered as he is not considered an "auteur," or "author" of his films. However, in his postwar career, he definitely was the auteur, or controlling consciousness, behind his films. Though he never took a screenwriting credit (other than for an early horse opera, Ridin' for Love), he selected his own stories and controlled the screenwriting, hiring his own writers in a development process that could take years.
Wyler films in his postwar period include The Heiress, a fine version of Henry James' novel "Washington Square," with an Oscar-winning performance by Olivia de Havilland; Detective Story, a police drama that takes place on a minimal, controlled set almost as restricted as that of Hitchcock's Rope; and Roman Holiday, which won Audrey Hepburn an Oscar in her first leading role. The other films of this period are Carrie, The Desperate Hours and Friendly Persuasion.
Wyler returned to the western genre one last time with The Big Country, a picture far removed in scope from his two-reeler origins, featuring Gregory Peck, Heston, and Wyler's old "Hell's Heroes" star Bickford. Burl Ives won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the patriarch of an outlaw clan in conflict with Bickford's family. Wyler was next enlisted by producer Sam Zimbalist to helm MGM's high-stakes "Ben-Hur" (1959), a remake of its 1925 classic. It was a high-budget ($15 million, approximately $90 million when factored for inflation), wide-screen (the aspect ratio of the film is 2.76 to 1 when properly shown in 70mm anamorphic prints, the highest ratio ever used for a film) epic that the studio had spent six years preparing. Principal photography required more than six months of shooting on location in Italy, with hundreds of crew members and thousands of extras. Wyler was the overlord of the largest crew and oversaw more extras than any other film had ever used. Despite its size, Wyler's "Ben-Hur," along with Kubrick's Spartacus, is arguably the most intelligent entry in the Biblical blockbuster genre. Grossing $74 million (approximately $600 million at today's ticket prices, ranking it #13 film in terms of all-time box office performance, when adjusted for inflation), the film was the fourth highest-grossing film of all-time when it was released, surpassed only by Gone with the Wind, DeMille's The Ten Commandments, and Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. "Ben-Hur" went on to win 11 Oscars out of 12 nominations, including a third Best Director Academy Award for Willi. The 11 Oscars set a record since tied by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
In the last decade of his career, he remade "These Three" as The Children's Hour, a franker version of Hellman's play than his 1936 version. The Collector was his last artistic triumph, and he had his last hit with Funny Girl, for which Barbra Streisand repeated Audrey Hepburn's success of 15 years earlier, wining an Oscar in her first lead role. Wyler's last film was The Liberation of L.B. Jones, an estimable failure that tackled the theme of racial prejudice, but which came out in the revolutionary time of Easy Rider and other such films, and held little promise for such traditional warhorses as Wyler.
Though he dreamed of making more pictures, Wyler's failing health kept him from taking on another film. Instead, he and his wife Margaret Tallichet, the mother of his five children, contented themselves with travel. William Wyler died on July 27, 1981, in Beverly Hills, California, one of the most accomplished and honored filmmakers in history.
A passionate visionary and trailblazer, Hollywood Icon, Robert Townsend transcends any medium he touches. Whether he's performing stand up, acting, writing, directing, producing, or running a television network, his magic and versatile talent is undeniable. A Hollywood-pioneer well ahead of his time, Townsend, a Chicago native is often referred to as one of the "Godfathers" of the Independent Film World." With over 30 years in the business, he has made an indelible mark in Hollywood with an extensive list of credits. Robert's genius first revealed itself in elementary school. As a kid Robert was always fascinated with television, watching and studying it tirelessly, he began to practice acting out scenes and impersonating famous characters. At his school during a reading of Shakespeare's Oedipus Rex he dazzled the class with his ability to transform effortlessly into character, as a result Robert's remarkable versatile talent as a young actor was born and caught the attention of Chicago's Experimental Bag Theatre. Robert made an unforgettable mark in his hometown of Chicago, where he went onto New York's renowned comedy club the Improvisation that initiated his career as a stand-up comedian. Then for Robert it was on to Hollywood, where he dabbled in a mixture of industries and found that with his versatile talent, he was able to adapt easily from being a comedian to a full-screen actor. Robert's first film appearance was in popular urban classic, "Cooley High". His break came while performing on various television comedy specials including "Rodney Dangerfield: It's Not Easy Bein' Me" and "Uptown Comedy Express." Although comedy had been his forte during the early part of his career, he knew he was destined to be on the big screen. He landed the role of a lifetime co-starring opposite Denzel Washington in "A Soldier's Story", and appeared with Diane Lane in "Streets of Fire" and Kevin Costner in "American Flyers".
Once in Hollywood, seeing the difficulty Black Actors had and the lack of good work available in the film industry, left a burning desire for Robert to step behind the camera. With his acting career in high gear, Robert's career took a turn for the best when Robert Townsend the "independent filmmaker" was born. He wanted to do something to fill this void and without formal film education or outside funding (he used his own credit cards to finance), Robert wrote, directed, produced and starred in his own first film. The result was the critically acclaimed "Hollywood Shuffle", a satire, depicting the trials and tribulations of Black Actors in Hollywood. The success of this film forced "Hollywood" to recognize and appreciate the visionary versatile talent of "Robert Townsend", Tinseltown's newest, talented actor and filmmaker.
Following the success of "Hollywood Shuffle," film projects continued to pour in. He was soon directing Eddie Murphy in "Eddie Murphy Raw." His next film endeavor was the inner-city fable: "The Meteor Man" that he also wrote, directed and starred in, was another huge success. The stellar cast included James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby, and Eddie Griffin. As a filmmaker, director and producer, his unbridled success continued.
The movie that landed Robert the credit of a lifetime was the popular tearjerker classic "The Five Heartbeats," a semi-autobiographical piece; reminiscent of the 60s R & B male groups and the ups and downs of the music industry. This classic continues to be a favorite amongst audiences and one of the most talked about films in the industry. In between features, Robert created and produced his ground breaking Cable Ace award-winning "Partners in Crime" variety specials for HBO and highly praised "Townsend Television" for FOX television. He also created and starred in the WB Network hit series "The Parenthood".
Townsend has made history by being nominated for over 30 NAACP Image Awards for film and television. At the 2001 NAACP Image Awards he directed three performers nominated in the best actor/actress category in three different films: Leon, for his role in NBC's "Little Richard"; Alfre Woodard in the Showtime Movie "Holiday Heart" (which also garnered her a Golden Globe nomination) and Natalie Cole for her gripping self-portrayal in "Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story" (for which she won the coveted Image Award for best actress). Townsend continued to helm films for the small screen: Carmen: A Hip Hopera for MTV Films, starring Beyonce Knowles (one of the highest rated shows for MTV) and Image Award winner, 10,000 Black Men Named George for Showtime, a highly acclaimed period piece about the Pullman porter strike, starring Andre Braugher, and Charles Dutton.
Robert has worked with some of the top talent in Hollywood including: Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Alfre Woodard, Lou Gossett, Jr., Keenan Ivory Wayans and Chris Tucker, just to name a few and is responsible for discovering many of Hollywood's A-List talent before they became household names. He is the mastermind behind many of Hollywood's favorite and best-remembered movies and hit series. Robert's body of work has been seen on MGM, Disney, Fox, NBC, HBO, WB and MTV.
While busy as a performer and filmmaker, Robert always makes time to participate in humanitarian efforts and speak to various organizations. As a longtime speaker for the United Negro College Fund and the NAACP, his concern for inner city youth takes him through out the country to inspire young people to follow their dreams. In addition, Robert shares his business expertise with various Fortune 500 companies. Townsend is also a spokesman for the Milken Family Fund an organization created to recognize outstanding educators in the country, and stress to children the importance of education and respect for teachers. He has traveled with The Milken Family Fund to Chicago, Boston, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Los Angeles to recognize deserving teachers and inspire and motive students around the country.
Although, he has many accolades but none are more important than his family. His four children are the center of his heart. Following in his footsteps, his 3 daughters; Grace, Sierra and Skylar aka "The T Unit". They have received their first TV credit for the "B5 Christmas Special" aired on the BFC, a concept they came up with and pitched to their father. Despite his demanding schedule, Robert makes sure he spends quality time with his son, Max and his three daughters. Time with Robert Townsend the dad is no ordinary experience, his children are Blessed with a father that makes every experience they have unique, creative, fun and sometimes very unpredictable...but one thing they can count on for sure is.... plenty of good times and a lot of love. Always a pioneer Townsend took the helm as President and CEO of Production for The Black Family Channel (BFC) creating and spearheading production for BFC's top rated shows. Where he ran the cable network for four years before it was sold to the Gospel Music Channel in the Spring of 2007. During his reign, he created unprecedented original programming for the network. Showing his unstoppable genius, in his short time as a television executive Townsend reached several milestones; he created over 15 new shows for the network with limited financing; of which two shows were nominated for a prestigious NAIMC Vision Award (National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications), The Thou$and Dollar Bee and Lisa Knight and the Round Table), and he was voted one of the Most Influential Minorities in Cable by Cable World Magazine. This versatile talent is busy as ever, acting, directing and producing. Townsend has recently returned in front of the camera to star opposite Angela Bassett in the faith based film "Of Boys and Men". He has also just completed directing Golden Globe winner Ving Rhames in a biopic about the troubled boxing legend Sonny Liston entitled "Phantom Punch". Currently, Townsend is in the editing room putting the finishing touches on "Why We Laugh", a comedy documentary on the history of African America Comedians from slavery to present, with interviews including such legends as Bill Cosby, Dick Gregory, Chris Rock and the Wayans. Never one to waste time Townsend is also writing a feature film and developing a new television sketch series that he will star in for the TBS Network. As a Hollywood Icon and Humanitarian, Townsend's mission is to create quality programming for everyone to enjoy and to create a classic body of work that would be timeless.
Richard Conte was born Nicholas Richard Conte on March 24, 1910, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of an Italian-American barber. The young Conte held a variety of jobs before becoming a professional actor, including truck driver, Wall Street clerk and singing waiter at a Connecticut resort. The gig as a singing waiter led to theatrical work in New York, where in 1935, he was discovered by actors Elia Kazan and Julius "Julie" Garfinkle (later known as John Garfield) of New York City's Group Theatre.
Kazan helped Conte obtain a scholarship to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, where he excelled. Conte made his Broadway debut late in "Moon Over Mulberry Street" in 1939, and went on to be featured in other plays, including "Walk Into My Parlor." His stage work lead to a movie job, and he made his film debut in Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence, in which he was billed as "Nicholas Conte." His career started to thrive during the Second World War, when many Hollywood actors were away in the military.
Signing on as a contract player with 20th Century-Fox in 1942, Conte was promoted by the studio as, ironically, as "New John Garfield," the man who helped discover him. He made his debut at Fox, under the name "Richard Conte," in Guadalcanal Diary. During World War II Conte appeared mostly as soldiers in war pictures, though after the war he became a fixture in the studio's "film noir" crime melodramas. His best role at Fox was as the wrongly imprisoned man exonerated by James Stewart's reporter in Call Northside 777 and he also shined as a trucker in Thieves' Highway.
In the 1950s Conte essentially evolved into a B-movie actor, his best performances coming in The Blue Gardenia and Highway Dragnet. After being set free of his Fox contract in the early 1950s, his career lost momentum as the film noir cycle exhausted itself, although he turned in a first-rate performance as a vicious but philosophical gangster in Joseph H. Lewis film-noir classic The Big Combo.
Conte appeared often on television, including a co-starring gig on the syndicated series The Four Just Men, but by the 1960s his career was in turnaround. Frank Sinatra cast him in his two Tony Rome detective films, the eponymous Tony Rome and Lady in Cement, but Conte eventually relocated to Europe. He directed Operation Cross Eagles, a low-budget war picture shot in Yugoslavia in which he also starred in with a not-quite washed-up Rory Calhoun.
Conte's last hurrah in Hollywood role was as Don Corleone's rival, Don Barzini, in The Godfather, which many critics and filmmakers, including the late Stanley Kubrick, consider the greatest Hollywood film of all time. Ironically, Paramount - which produced "The Godfather" - had considered Conte for the title role before the casting list was whittled down to Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando, who won his second Best Actor Oscar in the title role. After "The Godfather," Conte - whose character was assassinated in that picture, so does not appear in the equally classic sequel - continued to appear in European films.
Frank Sivero (born January 6, 1952) is an American character actor, perhaps best known for playing the roles of Genco Abbandando in Mario Puzo's and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part II and Frankie Carbone (based on Angelo Sepe) in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.
Sivero was born Francesco LoGiudice in Siculiana, Sicily, Italy, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He can be seen as an extra in The Godfather as one of the witnesses to Sonny Corleone's brutal beating of his brother-in-law, Carlo. Director Martin Scorsese cast him as Frankie Carbone after seeing his performance in The Godfather: Part II. He also appeared in the "The Wedding Singer" with Adam Sandler.
Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard, the self-proclaimed "Architect of Rock 'n' Roll", traveled in his early days with the legendary vaudeville star Spencer "Snake" Anthony. One of Richard's early bands had the young, then unknown singer James Brown (the Godfather of Soul), a fourteen-year-old keyboardist named Billy Preston, and the famous and legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix. His first recording session took place at WGST in Atlanta, Georgia, USA; he was backed by a local band led by Billy Wright. This session produced a local hit called "Every Hour" which enjoyed heavy airplay on Atlanta's WERD radio station which was the first completely Black-owned radio station in the United States. Little Richard was backed up by his idol Billy Wright, once referred to him as the most fantastic entertainer he had ever seen. Indeed, it was Wright who used a brand of makeup called Pancake 31.
Little Richard admitted to copying Wright's penchant for heavy makeup and wild stage theatrics. With a public persona and personal life marked by sexual ambiguity, he would make his mark with later hits such as the suggestive "Tutti Frutti" and "Good Golly Miss Molly". Unbeknownst to many fans, Richard overcame a debilitating drug habit and eventually became an ordained minister. Beginning in the 1980s, he saw a resurgence in his popularity as he acquired small acting roles where he impressed fans, old and new, with his unique comedic timing. As versatile and ageless as ever, Little Richard continues to delight fans the world over with his extraordinary stage presence and flamboyant antics. Now inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the American Songwriters Hall of Fame, he remains one of the most popular entertainers in the world.
The name "Melville" is not immediately associated with film. It conjures up images of white whales and crackbrained captains, of naysaying notaries and soup-spilling sailors. It is the countersign to a realm of men and their deeds, both heroic and villainous. It is the American novel, with its Ishmaels and its Claggarts a challenge to the European canon. It is Herman Melville. And yet, for over three decades, it was also worn by one of the French cinema's brightest lights, Jean-Pierre Melville, whose art was as revolutionary as that of the eponymous author.
Jean-Pierre Grumbach was born on October 20, 1917, to a family of Alsatian Jews. In his youth he studied in Paris, where he was first exposed to great films, among them Robert J. Flaherty's and W.S. Van Dyke's silent documentary White Shadows in the South Seas. It left so deep a mark upon the pubescent Grumbach that he became a regular at the cinema, an obsession that would benefit him in adulthood. His own earliest efforts, 16mm home movies, were made with a camera given to him by his father in this period. In 1937, however, his career was forestalled when he began obligatory service in the French army. He was still in uniform when the Nazis invaded in 1940; under the nom de guerre of Melville, he aided the Resistance and was eventually forced to flee to England. There he joined the Free French forces and took part in the Allies' liberation of continental Europe. After the war, despite a desire to revert to Grumbach, he found that pseudonym had stuck.
Eager to earn his place in the movie industry, Melville applied to the French Technicians' Union but was denied membership. Undaunted by what he regarded as party politics, he set up his own production company in 1946 and started releasing films outside the system. The first, a low-budget short titled 24 heures de la vie d'un clown, was a success, inspired by his boyhood love for the circus. His feature-length debut, Le Silence de la Mer, was highly innovative. An intimate piece on the horrors of World War II, it starred unknown actors and was filmed by a skeleton crew. Its schedule was unusual: It was shot over 27 days in the course of a year. Its production was unusual: it incorporated "on-location" scenes--rarities in that era--done without vital permits. Its provenance was unusual: it was adapted from a book before the author's consent was obtained. Above all, its style was unusual. Its dark, claustrophobic sets and bottom-lit close-ups signaled a departure from the highly cultured cinema of René Clair, Marcel Pagnol, Abel Gance and Jacques Feyder. It was neither comedietta nor costume drama nor avant-garde "cinéma pur." Where its roots may have been in Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion, it was clearly something new.
Over the following 12 years Melville continued to create films that would influence the auteurs of La Nouvelle Vague (i.e., the French New Wave.) In 1950 he collaborated with Jean Cocteau on an unsatisfying version of Les Enfants Terribles, the tale of a strange, incestuous relationship between siblings. When You Read This Letter, with French and Italian backing, was his first commercial project. While it was unprofitable, the fee he received allowed him to establish a studio outside of Paris. His next work, Bob le Flambeur, featured Roger Duchesne, a popular leading man of the 1930s who had drifted into the underworld during the war. As such, he was a uniquely apt choice for the role of the fashionable, self-immolating Bob. His supporting cast included Daniel Cauchy as toadying sidekick Paolo and newcomer Isabelle Corey as the temptress Anne. Although the picture was not a hit, it was a favorite of the aficionados that frequented Henri Langlois' Cinémathèque Français. Among them were the young savants Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, the latter of whom used Guy Decomble of "Bob le flambeur" in his The 400 Blows that ushered in the "New Wave" era. They adored the hip, new rendering of a tired scenario, much of it shot in the streets with hidden cameras. They viewed it as fresh and daring, a "freeing up" through the rejection of high-minded literary adaptations and the embracing of pop culture. Simply put, Melville refused to play by the rules, and they followed suit.
In retrospect, "Bob le flambeur" seems straightforward: A reformed mobster turned high-stakes gambler comes out of retirement to pull one last job. Its genius lies in its simplicity. Melville admired American culture, as his alias indicated. He drove around Paris in an enormous Cadillac, sporting a Stetson hat and aviator sunglasses. He drank Coca-Cola and listened to American radio. The works of American directors John Ford and Howard Hawks were appealing to him, as they were ageless sagas of heroes and villains. Melville strove to build his own pantheon by blending the American ethos with his postwar sensibilities. As he perceived it, it was America that had valiantly rescued France from German occupation. Still, for a young man with Alsatian roots, the line separating good guys and bad guys had been breached, and one can see this disillusionment from Le Silence de la Mer onward. Thus, while he borrowed from the American noir's revolt against the dichotomous Hollywood creations of the 1930s, the artist was forging his own apocryphal brand of dark tragedy. In his paradigm, a criminal could be a kind of hero within his milieu, so long as he stuck by his word and his allegiances. It was his personal style and his adherence to the code of honor that defined a "good guy"; obversely, it was his faith in others that was his downfall. It is a universe without the possibility for salvation, in which love and friendship are brief interludes in the cat-and-mouse games that lead to certain destruction. In that sense, Bob is a crucial link between Julien Duvivier's Pépé le Moko and Godard's Breathless, in which Melville gave a brilliant cameo performance.
Jean-Pierre Melville is often regarded as the godfather of the Nouvelle Vague. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that had it not been for his aforementioned passion for American film, he might have shown us a very different "Bob le flambeur". Originally conceived as a hard-boiled gangster flick about the step-by-step plotting of a heist, Melville was forced to rethink its narrative after watching John Huston's remarkably similar The Asphalt Jungle. It was only then that he had the idea to turn Bob into the comedy of manners that so delighted the cinephiles of the day. For this and other debts of gratitude, his next picture, Two Men in Manhattan, was "a love letter to New York" and the America he revered. It was also his third straight box-office flop, however, and it caused Melville to break away from a New Wave movement that he felt catered to the cognoscenti. He later said, "If . . . I have consented to pass for their adopted father for a while, I do not wish it anymore, and I have put some distance in between us."
The first step in this split came with Léon Morin, Priest, a wartime piece about a priest's endeavors to bring redemption to the inhabitants of a small town. Produced by Carlo Ponti, it was a big-budget affair with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Emmanuelle Riva, both household names by then. On the strength of its favorable reception, Melville released four consecutive cops-and-robbers movies, the most notable of which were Le Doulos and Le Samouraï. Belmondo again headlined in "Le Doulous", not as a clergyman but as the fingerman Silien, whose loyalty to his old mob cronies entangles him in a web of intrigue and disaster. During the making of "Le Samouraï", a hauntingly minimalist film about a doomed assassin, Melville's studio burned to the ground and the project was completed in rented facilities. Regardless, it was a critical and commercial success. Presenting Alain Delon as ultra-cool assassin Jef Costello, it was considered one of the most meticulously-crafted pictures in the history of the cinema. Delon would later star in a second masterpiece, Le Cercle Rouge, featuring the ultimate onscreen jewel heist. His Charles Bronson-cum-Jack Lord sang-froid toughness served as a counterpoint in Melville's oeuvre to the lighter and less predictable Belmondo. Another memorable production was The Army of Shadows, an austere portrait of perfidy within the ranks of the French Resistance.
It is trite to say that a particular artist is "not for everyone." In Melville's case, this statement could not be more fitting. Despite a round belly and an unattractive face, he was a notorious womanizer, and his chauvinism is painfully obvious in his movies. They are cynical, male-driven works in which women are devoid of nobility, merely functioning as beautiful chess pieces. His men also lack spiritual depth, diligently playing out their roles toward the final showdown. A "profound moment" inevitably occurs before a mirror, a cliché for which many critics do not share the creator's enthusiasm. As a result of these peccadilloes, as well as its lack of back-stories and character motivations, Melville's later output has been accused of stiffness, with its wooden troupe of cops, crooks and general mauvais sujets. Further, well-structured plots notwithstanding, Melville films are methodically paced with tremendous attention paid to time and place. Hollywoodphiles often find them slow, with an overemphasis on tone and style.
Some have gone as far as to claim that the réalizateur's genius was outstripped by his importance to the development of the medium. They look to him as a sort of Moses figure, helping to guide the Nouvelle Vague to the promised land without partaking in its fruits. At his death by heart attack in 1973, the 55-year-old had directed just 14 projects, at least six of which are acknowledged classics. Aside from Godard and Truffaut, luminaries such as John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, Volker Schlöndorff, Johnnie To and Martin Scorsese have pointed to him as an key influence. If a man's legacy is best measured not only by its quality but by the respect of his colleagues, Jean-Pierre Melville's contribution to cinema surely ranks with the greatest.
Born in the Italian section of East Boston to a hardworking Italian family (his father was professional trombonist with the Les Brown Orchestra), Pilato admits that his flair for performing was discovered quite by accident, when he became an alter boy. Still, it wasn't until his college years that he took the big step towards honing his love for performance into a craft. Unfortunately, once he got there, he realized that his only points of reference for law were those found on television and film. He realized quickly that he didn't want to be a lawyer, so much as he wanted to PLAY a lawyer. Acting classes followed at Emerson College and Suffolk University, in Boston, and soon he was on stage with such notable troupes as Boston Repertory Theatre, Stage One Theatre Company and Reality Theatre. Though the progression seems almost natural, he still credits both religion and law as his main influences for taking the big leap of faith. Savagely bitten by the acting bug, the fledgling actor made his way to New York City, where he was an original member of the Working Theatre, studying with such luminaries as Joe Chalkin, Kristin Linklatter and Peter Kass. It was while in New York that he also began his collaboration with Jersey Growtowski's Polish Laboratory Theatre. In the late 70s, Pilato relocated to Pittsburgh, where he was a resident actor with the Pittsburgh Public Theatre and the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival. He also picked up a few gigs as an acting coach at local colleges. His career took an upswing when he became a member of the Pittsburgh Film Family and consequently met the Godfather of cult cinema, George A. Romero. As odd as it may seem for a theatrically trained actor to pair up with a filmmaker of Romero's stature, the match appeared to be a heavenly one. Pilato's first role, a small part in 'Dawn Of The Dead' (as a police officer), led to yet another small part in 'Knight Riders' (as a disgruntled fair worker), alongside Ed Harris, followed closely by his signature role as Captain Rhodes in 'Day Of The Dead.' In fact, it's his memorable death scene that really grabbed the attention of fans. Since that auspicious "debut," Pilato's resume has grown over the years to include roles in Ron Howard's 'Gung Ho,' Charlie Peter's 'Music From Another Room,' and Quentin Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction' (as Dean Martin), as well as such cult fare as Bob Kurtzman's 'The Demolitionist' and 'Wishmaster,' 'Alienators,' 'The Ghouls,' 'Last Seduction' and Zebediah de Soto's 'Wardog.' His voiceover work includes that of Metal Greymon in the children's animated series, 'Digimon.' It's also a little known fact that Pilato was in the original trailer for the low-budget version of Tarantino's 'From Dusk Til Dawn,' where he can be seen wearing the infamous black suit, white shirt, and black tie, which later became a Tarantino trademark in such films as 'Reservoir Dogs' and the afore-mentioned 'Pulp Fiction.' Even so, he's never forgotten the role that made him famous and can often be seen at conventions, signing autographs and talking to enthusiastic fans about his experiences on the film. Ask him what his favorite roles to date have been, however, and you may be surprised. Though Captain Rhodes will always be near and dear to his heart, he waxes nostalgic about his roles as a professional Christmas caroler at Gimbel's Department Store in Pittsburgh, where he founded the Dickens Carolers, and as a stand-in for Robert DeNiro in 'The Deer Hunter.'
Joseph J. Spagnuolo was born on October 28, 1936 in Manhattan, New York City at his family's apartment on 2nd Avenue. Spinell was a tough guy on and off screen all his life. During his teen years, while still in high school, he acted in various plays on the New York stage, on and off Broadway, eventually earning a place in Joe Papp's Shakespeare Festival Theater. In 1960, he parlayed his stage work into a performing contract for MGM where it was suggested that he change his name to Joe Spinell to make his name easier to pronounce. For nine years, Spinell worked with the group, which was also known as the Theater of the Forgotten, which also put on plays in prisons for the inmates. His minimal salary for his stage work forced him to hold down other jobs to make ends meet. Those jobs included working as a taxi driver, a post office clerk, and a liquor store clerk during Christmas holidays.
In 1972, Spinell was first noticed when he appeared in his first movie role which was a small, uncredited speaking part in The Godfather (1972), the right film for a tough, mean-looking Italian with a New York City accent. After his success, he became a familiar character actor that appeared in violent urban movies where he was usually cast as vicious thugs or seedy gang leaders. In both Godfather movies he was the hit man Willy Cici. In Rocky (1976), the first of several films he made with Sylvester Stallone, he was the loan shark Gazzo who employs Rocky as a collector.
His best (or worst) or most disgusting role is probably the one where is his best remembered; in a rare starring role, his character of Frank Zito in Maniac (1980) is a serial killer that kills women and uses their scalps to dress up female mannequins he keeps in his apartment. After Maniac (1980), Spinell continued acting with big-name Hollywood and independent movie directors usually playing villainous thugs in small to medium roles.
During the last years of his life Spinell's choice of projects becomes increasingly suspect; for example imprisoned serial killer John Wayne Gacy wanted Spinell to play him in a movie. But with Maniac (1980) still on his mind, Spinell always wanted to do a sequel to the movie and with New York filmmaker Buddy Giovinazzo, they shot a 10-minute promo reel in 1986 titled Mr. Robbie, which was to be the sequel for Maniac (1980). After a few years of hard work and searching, Spinell found financing for the sequel. But just as pre-production was to begin, Joe Spinell suddenly passed away in his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, New York on January 13, 1989, at age 52 due to undetermined causes, still the subject of much speculation. Some say he died of a heart attack because of his failing health in recent months due to his heavy drinking, drug use, and the emotional turmoil resulting from his mother's death (who passed away in 1987.) Others say he died from an asthma attack, or that he bled to death from an accidental (or deliberate) cut since he was a hemophiliac.
Spinnel left behind an impressive body of film work that stands as a testament to his talent and unique screen presence as a character actor. He is survived by an ex-wife, a daughter, two brothers and a sister.
Chubby, antsy, and distinctive character actor Sydney Lassick was born on July 23, 1922 to Jewish Russian immigrant parents in Chicago, Illinois. Lassick first began acting in both films and TV shows in the late 50s. Portly and bespectacled, with a high-pitched voice and a nervous disposition, Sydney was usually cast as peevish neurotics, obsequious toadies, and fretful everyman types. Best known for his outstanding portrayal of the whiny and infantile manic depressive mental patient Charlie Cheswick in the acclaimed "One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Lassick's other most memorable roles include a fey Fairy Godfather in the lowbrow nudie cutie musical "Sinderella and the Golden Bra," mean sarcastic English teacher Mr. Fromm in "Carrie;" genuinely creepy as perverse and abusive innkeeper Ernest Keller in the potently unnerving slasher horror sleeper "The Unseen;" at his oily best as the slimy Charlie P. in the supremely twisted cult oddity "Sonny Boy," effeminate lackey Gopher in "Deep Cover," and jolly trailer park manager Woody Wilson in "Freeway." Among the TV series Sydney made guest appearances on are "Family," "Eight is Enough," "Baretta," "Hawaii Five-O," "Barney Miller," "Matt Houston," "Moonlighting," "Knots Landing," "Dream On," and "The X-Files." Lassick died at age 80 from complications from diabetes on April 12, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. He was survived by an older sister.
|Chris William Martin
Born in Burnaby, British Columbia, January 17 1975 to Chris William Martin and Victoria Kathleen Martin, Chris was raised first in East Vancouver (until he was 2) and then in a small town called Yarrow. He first became an actor after answering a cattle call for a new teen drama, _"Fifteen" (1991)_ which was to film in Vancouver. Chris, who had barely passed high school drama, walked off the street with 4000 other kids and was one of 15 to get the part. the serious ran for 3 years, during which it was picked up by Nickelodeon and subsequently filmed out of their studios in Florida. Chris portrayed Dylan, a brooding rebel for which he won a nomination for Best Actor at the Youth in Film Awards. He landed his next starring role as Jamie Novak in the series Madison, a half-hour drama about high school that was critically acclaimed and won Martin a Gemini nomination for Best Actor.
Martin made his feature film debut playing the title role in Carl Bessai's Johnny, a movie filmed in the Dogma 95 style, about squeegee kids who stage action on the streets and capture it on video. He won a Jury Citation for Outstanding Performance from the Toronto International Film Festival in 1999 for his work in the film. He also featured in Bessai's next film, _Lola (2000/I)_, which was screened in festivals around the world in 2001. Since then Chris has appeared in other independent films, including Carl Bessai's new film which is currently being filmed in British Columbia (December 2002). This season, Chris made his directorial debut on an episode of Tom Stone.
In his free time, Chris enjoys spending time with friends and family (he is he godfather of John Scarfe & Suki Kaiser's son), playing the guitar and hanging out with his chocolate Labrador, Merlin and his cat, The Dane. He's also drawn to extreme sports dabbling in surfing, motorcycle riding and sky diving. He currently calls Vancouver home.
Michele grew up in Colorado - and got up on every stage she could manage singing, acting, and unfortunately dancing from the time she could say: "jazz hands".
She earned degrees in Theater and Classical Vocal Music Performance, completed a prestigious theater internship with "Theatre de la Juene Lune", then moved to London to bartend. After slinging martinis at the Royal Albert Hall for a couple of years, she moved to Los Angeles to sling less pretentious martinis. She hooked up with a sketch comedy group called A.S.S. (Another Showcase Showdown) with which she created and performed dozens of original comedy characters, sketches, short films, and musical numbers for over 8 years all over LA and beyond - including the HBO Comedy Workspace and the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival.
A.S.S.'s founding members started a TV/film production company - Drama 3/4 - who were then hired by the VH1 Network to create, write, and produce VH1's first and only original scripted comedy television show: "I Hate My 30's" in which Michele starred as series regular Katie. She also showed up on other shows like "CSI:NY" and Disney's 'Kickin-It", on Lifetime Network movies like "Backyard Wedding", and in a lot more commercials than she cares to admit. She has also been on the silver screen with Harvey Keitel in "The Last Godfather", Loretta Divine in "Politics of Love", and Tom Sizemore in "The Columbian Connection". Currently, she's known to Sci Fi fans as the Starship Enterprises' first ship's counselor, Dr. Elise McKennah in "Star Trek Continues", as insane bounty hunter Red in the "Fallout: Nuka Break" series, and as Betty the Personality Core in the Portal-based series "Aperture R&D".
She also got to talking into microphones and found her voice showing up in movies like "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" and in animated series like Cartoon Network's "MAR" and Funimation's "Ouran High School Host Club", "Tsubasa Chronicle", "Claymore", and others. She also pretends she knows what the kids are talking about when they describe the action in video games she's done like "Final Fantasy XIII" and "Dynasty Warriors 7&8".
She lives in Los Angeles, and spends most of her time on set being told: "GREAT - now take it down a notch."
You may know Melissa Prophet as an actress in Goodfellas and Casino . Growing up in the music business Father, Singer Johnny Prophet. She was a natural. She launched her career working for three years on Kojak with actor Telly Savalas. The former Miss California , Miss Hollywood and runner up in Miss USA Miss World pageant worked as an actress until she decided the other side of the camera was her strongest suit. She joined Ashser/Krost Management in 1987 . As a film and television manager. Then joined Guber/Peters with Jeff Wald Entertainment . In 1990 Prophet formed Baumgarten/Prophet Entertainment with Craig Baumgarten. A Production and management company.
Throughout Prophet has represented very successfully many highly acclaimed actors. Academy Award winner Joe Pesci "Goodfellas" , Emmy award winner Kim Delaney "NYPD Blue". Frank Vincent Emmy award winner "Sopranos" Casino and Goodfellas . Linda Carter WonderWomen, Golden Globe winner" War And Rememberance" Barry Bostwick Spin City , Colleen Camp American Hustle, Peter Greene Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects, Peter Dobson" Marrying Man" ," Forest Gump", Marlo Thomas" Friends" Emmy Winner, Cynthia Geary "Northern Exposure" Emmy nominee, Brian Whimmer "China Beach", Erika Eleniak Baywatch ," Under Seige". To name a few.
Prophet Produced with Baumgarten many film and television movie projects. And was Associate Producer on Robert Evans and Francis Ford Copolla's Cotton Club.
Prophet " Melissa Prophet Management " continues to work with select clients in management and consulting for Legendary Paramount Studio Executive Robert Evans of Godfather , Chinatown , Kid Stays in the Picture.
Mario Puzo was born October 15, 1920, in "Hell's Kitchen" on Manhattan's (NY) West Side and, following military service in World War II, attended New York's New School for Social Research and Columbia University. His best-known novel, "The Godfather," was preceded by two critically acclaimed novels, "The Dark Arena" and "The Fortunate Pilgrim." In 1978, he published "Fools Die," followed by "The Sicilian" (1984) and "The Fourth K" (1991). Mario Puzo has also written several screenplays, including Earthquake, Superman, and all three "Godfather" movies, for which he received two Academy Awards. Mario's latest novel, 1996's "The Last Don," was made into a CBS television miniseries in May 1997, starring Danny Aiello, Kirstie Alley and Joe Mantegna. In 1997, Part II was aired. Also in 1997, Mario's "The Fortunate Pilgrim" was re-released by Random House. Mario passed away July 2, 1999, at his home in Bay Shore, Long Island. His last novel, "Omerta," will be published July, 2000. He is survived by his companion of 20 years, Carol Gino, and five children.
Yale-educated Dick Cavett established his reputation as the most erudite of American talk show hosts in the late 1960s and early '70s. Although there were many contenders who took on 'Johnny Carson (I)' qv, the undisputed heavyweight champion of late-night TV, Cavett generally was considered the most successful of the pretenders to Carson's throne. There were many challengers, and Carson vanquished them all, most notably Joey Bishop, Jerry Lewis and Merv Griffin (who moved his talk show to afternoons and syndication after it was canceled by CBS in 1972 after a three year run on the network).
Cavett's late-night talk show ran on ABC ran from 1968 to 1974, and then for an additional year on CBS. (He has since appeared on numerous other talk show gigs into the 21st Century.) Thought it ranked third in ratings behind Carson (perpetually #1 for all the years he headlined his own show) and Griffin in 1969-72, he was the most respected of the Carson-wannabes. Cavett was famous for attracting guests who normally did not appear on talk shows, such as Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier and the post-"Godfather" Marlon Brando, who used his time on the "Dick Cavett Show" to talk about Indians rights with Native American spokespeople Cavett allowed to share Brando's forum. The reticent Brando praised Cavett for being the best.
"The King of Late Night" and the highest-paid television personality of his time, Johnny Carson eventually crushed even Dick Cavett. Ironically, Cavett was born in Nebraska and was an aspiring amateur magician, as was fellow Cornhusker Carson, for whom Cavett worked on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as a writer after having broken in to the business in a similar capacity for Jack Paar, Carson's predecessor on "The Tonight Show."
He was born Richard Alva Cavett on November 19, 1936, in Gibbon, Nebraska, the son of two educators. After spending his childhood in Lincoln, Nebraska, he matriculated at Yale, where he first experienced the debilitating depression caused by bipolar disorder that would plague him though his adult life. He switched his major at Yale to drama and, upon graduating, made the rounds of casting agents, as did his first wife, the actress Carrie Nye whom he married in 1964 and remained married to for 42 years, until her death.
At 5'3" tall, Cavett was too short to be a success at anything but character parts, but even those were not forthcoming. In addition to his writing for Paar and Carson (and a high-priced staff writing gig on the notoriously unsuccessful The Jerry Lewis Show in 1963, after which he returned to Carson after Lewis bombed and was canceled), Cavett launched a career as a stand-up comic, possibly influenced by Woody Allen, whom he discovered for Paar (his title on Jack Paar's "Tonight Show" was ("talent coordinator").
An American treasure, Dick Cavett now writes regularly for "The New York Times." In November 2010, he had married for the second time, tying the knot with writer Martha Rogers in New Orleans.
Mikki grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her mother is German-American and her father was Spanish (American). Mikki grew up very close to her father and mother, whom she considers her best friends and the loves of her life. She played sports from the time she was five years old, beginning in an all-boys baseball team and an all-boys basketball team. She continued to excel in basketball, volleyball, fast-pitch softball, swimming and track and field, and was the only girl to ever make the 15-Team All Boys Babe Ruth Baseball League. She also excelled in academics, and was awarded several academic scholarships for her achievements.
Mikki spent several months in New York as one of Avon's five top Latina models. She then moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting and writing career. Some of her favorite artists include Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Richard Gere, Michael Caine, Denzel Washington, Ed Burns, Don Cheadle, Christopher Walken, Oprah Winfrey, Mía Maestro, Natalie Wood, Michelle Pfeiffer, Debra Messing, Edie Falco, Ashley Judd, Paul Rodriguez, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, John Candy and Dudley Moore. Some of her favorite movies include The Deer Hunter, Amores Perros, all three "Godfather" films, Love Jones, Scarface, Casino, Top Gun, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, Grease and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She loves fashion and music and is a sports fanatic. She enjoys working out and keeping in shape both physically and mentally. She spends a lot of her time writing, telling stories and making people laugh. She also loves to read. Some of her favorite books are "Conversations With God [I, II, III]", "The Power of Now", "7 Spiritual Laws of Success" and "Tuesdays With Maury."
Mikki is a very spiritual person and truly believes that when you take care of the mind, you take care of the body. And, most of the time, this can be done through laughter, a sense of humor! If you can make people laugh, you can change the world. If you can't, then at least make yourself laugh!
There are very few character actors from the 1930s, '40s or '50s who rose to the rank of stardom. Only a rare man or woman reached the level of renown and admiration, and had enough audience appeal, to be the first name in a cast's billing, a name that got marquee posting. Charles Coburn comes to mind, but there aren't many others. However, one who made it was Edmund Gwenn.
Gwenn was born Edmund Kellaway in Wandsworth, London, on September 26, 1877. He was the oldest boy in the family, which at that time meant he was the only one who really mattered. His father was a British civil servant, and he groomed Edmund to take a position of power in the Empire. However, early on, the boy had a mind of his own. For a while his inclination was to go to sea, but that ended when one of his forebear's in the Queen's Navy was court-martialed for exceeding his "wine bill." In addition to that, Edmund had poor eyesight and perhaps most importantly, he was his mother's darling, and she kept having visions of shipwrecks and desert island strandings. As for the civil service, to the boy it seemed like a "continent of unexplored boredom."
He attended St. Olaf's College and would attend King's College in London as well. Surprisingly, he excelled at rugby and amateur boxing. Meanwhile, he developed a strong inclination to the stage, partly because of his admiration for the great English actor, Henry Irving. A major roadblock to that ambition, however, was his father, who, at that time, was stationed in Ireland. When Edmund broke the news to his father that he had chosen acting as a career, there followed "a scene without parallel in Victorian melodrama." His father called the theatre "that sink of iniquity." He predicted that, if Edmund went into theatre, he would end up in the gutter, and then literally "showed him the door." Years later his father would admit he had been wrong, but that didn't help the young man during an all-night crossing from Dublin to England during which he had time to reflect. He was penniless. His experience consisted of a few performances in amateur productions, and he knew that if he failed, there was no going back home.
However, in 1895, at the age of eighteen, he made his first appearance on the English stage with a group of amateurs just turned professional, playing two roles, Dodo Twinkle and Damper, in "Rogue and Vagabond." For a long time afterward he refused to go on stage without a false beard or some other disguise, fearing someone would recognize him and tell his father (it's a bit ironic, by the way, that Edmund's younger brother Arthur would also become an actor using the name of 'Arthur Chesney'). During the next few years roles were hard to come by but, by 1899, he made his first appearance on the West End in London in "A Jealous Mistake." This was followed by ten years in the hinterlands acting with stock and touring companies, gradually working his way up from small parts to juicier roles. While with Edmund Tearle's Repertory Company, which toured the provinces, he played a different role each night. It was excellent training, in that he acted in everything from William Shakespeare to old melodrama.
About this time he married Minnie Terry, niece of the more famous actress Ellen Terry, a marriage that evidently was short-lived. Most sources list it as beginning and ending in 1901, perhaps only for a matter of days or even hours. From that point Gwenn would remain a bachelor for the rest of his life. He seems to have preferred not going into any details about the marriage and divorce, and Minnie Terry, who outlived Gwenn, apparently never mentioned what happened, at least not publicly. That same year, however, he went to Australia and acted there for three years, not returning to London until 1904. There he took a small part in "In the Hospital," which led to his receiving a postcard from George Bernard Shaw, offering him a leading role as Straker, the Cockney chauffeur, in "Man and Superman." Gwenn accepted (by this time he was Edmund Gwenn) and the play was a success. Shaw became a sort of professional godfather for him. He appeared in "John Bull's Island," "Major Barbara," "You Never Can Tell," "Captain Brassbound's Conversion" and "The Devil's Disciple," all by Shaw. He spent three years in Shaw's company, years which he called "the happiest I've ever had in the theatre."
From 1908 until 1915 he performed in new plays by noted playwrights of the time, including John Masefield's "The Campden Wonder," 'John Galsworthy''s "Justice" and "The Skin Game," J.M. Barrie's "What Every Woman Knows" and "The Twelve Pound Look," as well as Henrik Ibsen's "The Wild Duck" and Harley Granville-Barker's "The Voysey Inheritance". By this time World War I had started and Gwenn, despite his poor eyesight, was inducted into the British Army. Most of his time during "The Great War" was spent drawing supplies up to the front lines under fire. He was so successful at this task that, after a year as a private, he received a steady stream of promotions until eventually becoming a captain.
After the War he returned to the stage and, in 1921, made his first appearance in the US in "A Voice from the Minaret" and "Fedora." He would return to America in 1928 to replace his friend Dennis Eadie, who had died while in rehearsal for "The House of Arrows," but for most of this time, he was in England doing more stage roles and two dozen British films.
His first appearance on screen was in a British short, The Real Thing at Last in 1916, while he was still in the army. His next film roles were in Shaw's How He Lied to Her Husband and J.B. Priestley's The Good Companions. He was also in Unmarried in 1920 and a silent version of "The Skin Game" (The Skin Game) as Hornblower, a role he would reprise in 1931 for a talking version (The Skin Game) directed by Alfred Hitchcock. From then on Gwenn was to work steadily until the end of his life. He appeared in English stage plays and films, eventually doing more and more on Broadway and in Hollywood. For example, he played the amiable counterfeiter in "Laburnum Grove" in 1933 (later to become the film Laburnum Grove in which he would star) and then with the entire British company brought it to New York. He was also a huge success in "The Wookey" in 1942, playing a Cockney tugboat captain. That same year he appeared as Chebutykin in Anton Chekhov's "The Three Sisters", with Katharine Cornell, Ruth Gordon and Judith Anderson. In such illustrious company Gwenn was hailed by critics as "magnificent" and "superlatively good."
In 1935 RKO summoned him to Hollywood to portray Katharine Hepburn's father in Sylvia Scarlett. From then on he was much in demand, appearing in Anthony Adverse, All American Chump, Parnell, and A Yank at Oxford. In 1940 he was the delightful Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, then made a 180-degree turn by playing a folksy assassin in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent. The year 1941 brought Cheers for Miss Bishop, One Night in Lisbon, The Devil and Miss Jones and Scotland Yard. Then came Charley's Aunt in which he romanced Jack Benny, masquerading as a woman. Other important films included A Yank at Eton, The Meanest Man in the World, The Keys of the Kingdom and Between Two Worlds.
In 1945 he played villain Albert Richard Kingby in Dangerous Partners. There is a peculiar scene in this film, which makes one wonder what director Edward L. Cahn was thinking. James Craig and Signe Hasso, the hero and heroine, are being held by the villainous Gwenn in a room, when Gwenn comes in to interrogate them. In the midst of this, the 33-year-old, 6'2" Craig punches the 68-year-old, 5'5" Gwenn in the belly and then forces the doubled-over Gwenn to release them. Admittedly, Craig and Hasso must escape, and Gwenn's character is pretty evil, but knocking the wind out of the old man makes Craig seem like a bully and far less sympathetic.
After "Dangerous Partners" Gwenn was in Bewitched, She Went to the Races, Of Human Bondage, Undercurrent, Life with Father, Green Dolphin Street and Apartment for Peggy. In Thunder in the Valley he played one of his most unlikable characters, a father who beats his son, smashes his violin and shoots his dog.
Then in 1947, he struck it rich. Twentieth Century-Fox was planning Miracle on 34th Street. It had offered the role of Kris Kringle to Gwenn's cousin, the well-known character actor 'Cecil Kellaway', but he had turned it down with the observation that "Americans don't like whimsy." Fox then offered it to Gwenn, who pounced on it. His performance was to earn him an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor (at age 71) and, because it is rerun every Christmas season, he would become for many their all-time favorite screen Santa. Accepting the award, Gwenn said, "Now I know there is a Santa Claus." He beat out some stiff competition: Charles Bickford (The Farmer's Daughter), Thomas Gomez (Ride the Pink Horse), Robert Ryan (Crossfire) and Richard Widmark (Kiss of Death). As soon as he got the part, Gwenn went to work turning himself into Santa Claus. Though rotund, Gwenn didn't feel he was rotund enough to look like the jolly old elf most people expected after having read Clement Moore's "The Night before Christmas" in which Santa "had a broad face and a little round belly / That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly." He could of course wear padding, but he resisted that as too artificial. So he put on almost 30 pounds for the role, a fair amount for a man of his short stature, and added nearly five inches to his waistline. The problem was that after the film was finished, Gwenn found it hard to lose the extra weight. "I've been stocky all my adult life," he said, "but now I must accept the fact that I'm fat." As was his nature, he didn't get upset, and instead was able to laugh about it. Six years later, when playing an elderly professor in The Student Prince, he had a scene in which he entered the Prince's chamber, struggling with the buttons of a ceremonial uniform. The line he was given was, "I'm too old to wear a uniform," but Gwenn suggested a change which stayed in the finished film, "I'm too old and fat to wear a uniform."
Gwenn had lost his hair early on, and had no more concern about it than he did about his portliness. In a fair number of films, such as Pride and Prejudice, he appears bald, but he also played many roles with a toupee if he felt that worked better for the character. He would select a hairpiece that helped achieve the look he was after for the role. As regards the rest of his appearance, Gwenn is commonly listed as 5'6" tall, which may have been accurate when he was a younger man, but by the time he was a Hollywood regular he appears to be at least two inches shorter. Plagued by weak eyesight since his youth, Gwenn wore a pince-nez for a while, and then glasses, off-screen and sometimes on. Though he enjoyed fine clothes, he does not seem to have been in the least bit vain about any physical shortcomings he may have had. He looked a bit like a benign clergyman, perhaps of the Anglican faith, an image enhanced by his soft, almost soothing voice. He once said he was "always short and stocky, and not a particularly handsome thing. I could never play romantic leads." After "Miracle on 34th Street," however, Gwenn was a star and constantly in demand, especially when the role called for a kindly eccentric.
Gwenn remained a British subject all his life. When he first moved to Hollywood, he lived at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. His home in London had been reduced to rubble during the bombings by the Luftwaffe in World War II. Only the fireplace survived. What Gwenn regretted most was the loss of the memorabilia he had collected of the famous actor Henry Irving. Eventually Gwenn bought a house at 617 North Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills, which he was to share with his secretary and "confidential man," Ernest C. Bach, and later with former Olympic athlete Rodney Soher.
The year 1950 brought a pair of interesting films. In Louisa he and Charles Coburn were romantic rivals for the hand of Spring Byington. In one scene Gwenn socks Coburn in the jaw, though Coburn later bests him in arm wrestling. Gwenn wins Byington's hand in the end. He was also delightful in Mister 880 as a kindly counterfeiter. Gwenn received his second Oscar nomination for his performance, though this time he lost out to George Sanders in All About Eve He did, however, win the Golden Globe Award.
In 1952 he appeared in Sally and Saint Anne as Grandpa Patrick Ryan, affecting an Irish brogue for the role. He played football coach Pop Doyle, teamed up with a chimpanzee, in Bonzo Goes to College. "The Student Prince" followed in 1954, as did the science-fiction classic Them!. This film raises an interesting observation. The year before, Cecil Kellaway had appeared in another sci-fi classic, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Watch the two films together and you'll see that the two cousins are playing essentially the same role, that of an elderly scientist with a lovely daughter who is able to provide the hero, and the audience, with some scholarly background on the dangers they face. The two actors could easily have switched roles. "Them!" is noteworthy, too, in that it was a particularly physically painful part for Gwenn. By this time he was 77 and suffering from advanced arthritis. Several scenes in the movie were filmed in the desert, where the temperature often reached 110 degrees. The costumer had outfitted him in a wool suit for some of the early scenes. Joan Weldon, who played his daughter, has noted that Gwenn was in great discomfort and almost certainly could not have continued without the help of his valet, Ernest.
The next year Gwenn was in It's a Dog's Life and The Trouble with Harry. His film work has some interesting patterns. "Dog's Life" was at least the third time Gwenn made a film centered on a dog. He had already co-starred with Pal as Lassie in Lassie Come Homeand Challenge to Lassie. "Harry" was Gwenn's fourth picture directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the others being "The Skin Game," Strauss' Great Waltz and "Foreign Correspondent". Gwenn's last feature film was The Rocket from Calabuch, shot in Spain and released in 1958 when he was 81. As for TV, his most memorable role may have been as a snowman that comes to life in a Christmas night telecast on The Ford Television Theatre from a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Heart of Gold."
Gwenn's final days were spent at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, California. Having endured terrible arthritis for many years, he had suffered a stroke, and then contracted pneumonia from which he died at age 81 on September 6, 1959. His body was cremated, and his ashes are buried in a vault at The Chapel of the Pines in Los Angeles.
Gwenn had appointed Rodney Soher as the executor of his will, in which he had left Minnie Terry one-third of his estate, his sister Elsie Kellaway a third, and Ernest Bach a third, in addition to his clothes, shoes, linens, ties and luggage. However, for some reason, while he was spending his last days at the Motion Picture Home, Gwenn signed a codicil to his will, in which he said he had given Bach the lump sum of $5000, and that was all he was to receive. After Gwenn's death, Bach challenged the codicil, claiming that Gwenn was not of sound mind while in the Home and that some unnamed person--possibly referring to Soher--had unduly influenced Gwenn to change his will. The outcome is not known. There is a story that has been around for years that shortly before he died a visitor observed, "It must be hard [to die]", to which Gwenn replied, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." The story and the wording vary somewhat from teller to teller. Gwenn may indeed have said it, but he may have been repeating someone else. The quotation has also been ascribed to several earlier wits, including his mentor George Bernard Shaw and the famous actor Edmund Kean. Gwenn's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame can be found at 1751 Vine Street.
|Sidney J. Furie
Toronto-born Sidney J. Furie has enjoyed an incredibly distinguished career that has spanned more than five decades. Having dabbled in every genre, Furie has directed films starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Robert Redford, Diana Ross, Michael Caine, Peter O'Toole, Rodney Dangerfield, Barbara Hershey, Gene Hackman, Donald Sutherland, Laurence Olivier, and countless others.
He directed the first two feature-length fiction films ever made in English Canada, A Dangerous Age (1957) and A Cool Sound from Hell (1959), both independently financed, before emigrating to London in 1960. In 1961, he directed five feature films in a single year, before finally scoring his first box-office success with The Young Ones (1961), starring "British Elvis Presley" Cliff Richard. The critical and commercial success of Furie's 1963 British New Wave film The Leather Boys, a kitchen sink drama starring Rita Tushingham and Dudley Sutton, delivered him to the attention of high-powered producer Harry Saltzman, who hired him to direct the groundbreaking film The Ipcress File (1965), which won the BAFTA award for Best Picture. Michael Caine became an overnight star because of the film's success. The film also screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Furie then emigrated to Hollywood to direct Marlon Brando in The Appaloosa (1966) and Frank Sinatra in The Naked Runner (1967) for Universal and Warner Brothers respectively. Paramount Pictures, then under the aegis of the new Gulf+Western management regime, hired Furie in 1967. Furie would work as a Paramount filmmaker for the next eight years. Beginning in 1968, he directed five films for the studio. His box-office hit Lady Sings the Blues (1972) was nominated for five Academy Awards, and was Paramount's second biggest money-maker that year behind only The Godfather.
In 1981, he directed The Entity (1983), a cult classic that was named by Martin Scorsese as the fourth best horror film ever made, ranking ahead of both The Shining and Psycho. He was assigned to direct Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987, but was challenged by substantial last-minute budget cuts and a script he could not change (engineered personally by Christopher Reeve). Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, he returned to his native Canada to helm a series of films, often direct-to-video pictures, ranging from the war drama Going Back (2001) to the Canadian-British co-production Global Heresy (2002), a comedy starring Peter O'Toole and Joan Plowright. Other career highlights include The Boys in Company C (one of the first Vietnam War pictures about combat soldiers, later to provide the basis for Full Metal Jacket), the underrated action epic Hit! (1973), and the Iron Eagle series. He has also maintained dual citizenship between the U.S. and Canada. In 2010, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Director's Guild of Canada.
Donal Donnelly was an Anglo-Irish actor best known in the cinema for roles in The Knack... and How to Get It and The Godfather: Part III and on stage for his work in the plays of Brian Friel. He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, on July 6, 1931, but raised in Dublin, Ireland. In Dublin, he went to a Christian Brothers School where he acted in school plays with classmates Jack MacGowran and Milo O'Shea. Subsequently, he toured Ireland with Anew McMaster's repertory company.
On-stage, he established professional reputation in 1964 playing Gar Private in the Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come at Dublin's Gate Theatre. He was nominated for a Tony Award when the show transferred to Broadway in 1966, where it was a hit, racking up 326 performances. Two years later, he replaced Albert Finney in the 1968 Broadway production of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. From 1969 through 1995, he appeared in an additional nine Broadway productions, including Sleuth and The Elephant Man, and Friel's "The Mundy Scheme", Dancing at Lughnasa, and "Translations".
In 1965, he co-starred with Michael Crawford and Rita Tushingham in Richard Lester's movie adaption of Ann Jellicoe's hit play "The Knack". It was a hit. He played the scheming Archbishop Gilday out to fleece Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)in "The Godfather Part III" and gave a critically acclaimed performance in John Huston's adaption of James Joyce's short story The Dead. He also appeared on British television, most memorably in Z Cars and the 1970s situation-comedy Yes, Honestly.
Donal Donnelly died from cancer on January 4, 2010 in Chicago. He was 78 years old. He and his wife Patsy had two children.
|Ram Gopal Varma
Ram Gopal Varma was born in Hyderabad, the capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He initially was a video store owner before eventually becoming one of India's leading film directors. A film buff during his youth, Varma would watch both American and Indian cinema regularly. As a young man, he attended Siddhartha Engineering College in Vijayawada. Varma started his career in telugu cinema (the Hyderabad film industry), where he made a huge mark with his debut film Shiva, a violent and stylized actioner set in a college backdrop. At the age of 28, with little film training, Varma was able to convince Nagarjuna, a young Telugu star, to act in his debut picture. Nagarjuna was drawn by the narration of the script and intelligence displayed by the young Varma. Shiva was a landmark hit for the industry and was remade by Varma in the hindi language a year later.
His next was the exciting adventure film, Kshana Kshanam, starring Venkatesh and Sridevi. Varma followed this up with such films as - Raatri, a homage to 'The Exorcist' starring Revati and Om Puri (which Varma would remake over a decade later in Hindi as Bhoot) and Antham, a stylized crime drama, with Nagarjuna and Urmila Matondkar (which Varma would also rework later as Satya) - but was not able to attain the commercial success of his first feature. His next release Gaayam, with Jagapathi Babu and Urmila Matondkar, was a violent crime drama set in Hyderabad. The screenplay was co-written by tamil film director Mani Ratnam, and the script based on 'The Godfather'. It became a success for Varma. He then decided to start his own production banner, Varma Corporation Limited, and produced successful telugu films such as Money (remade later as Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega), Money Money (its sequel), Gulabi and Anaganaga Oka Roju.
His first huge success in hindi cinema (the Mumbai film industry) was the commercial blockbuster Rangeela, a stylish romantic drama with Aamir Khan and Urmila Matondkar. A.R. Rahman, a tamil music composer, was introduced to hindi audiences by Varma with this film and won the award for best film music.
Varma followed up with the ground breaking gangster saga Satya, a violent crime epic set in the Mumbai underworld. The film was gritty and realistic, reinventing the crime genre in Indian cinema. Varma had done extensive research for the film, and reworked certain elements of his earlier film Antham. Satya was widely considered Varma's first true masterwork. Made on a shoestring budget and with new faces, the film won awards for actor Manoj Bajpai and music composer Vishal Bharadwaj. Satya became a turning point in Varma's career, winning best picture of the year, and Varma would be forever associated with Mumbai noirs.
Varma then, with fellow director Shekhar Kapur, created a joint film production company in 1998 called India Talkies. The first venture of the production house was the ambitious terrorist drama 'Dil Se', with Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. The film was a box office dud, and India Talkies would be short lived. Varma would return to focusing on his own production house Varma Corp.
The hard hitting masterpiece 'Shool' followed shortly after, written and produced by Varma. The film depicted the life of an honest police officer in the violent and harsh rural setting of Bihar. The film was a commercial and critical success with both Manoj Bajpai and Sayaji Shinde winning awards for their performances. Varma lightened things up next with the romantic drama 'Mast'. The film was inspired by Varma's own college days, and featured Aftab Shivdasani in an award-winning turn as a film crazy college student.
Varma decided afterwards to only direct films in the Mumbai film industry. He believed there was more talent in Mumbai than in southern film cities like Chennai and Hyderabad. Varma had always admired directors such as Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihlani, and Gulzar. He considers Kalyug, Ardh Satya, and Mere Apne among his favorite Indian films of all time. At a time when popular Indian Cinema featured either over the top action films or glamorous love stories, Varma's films were more rooted and realistic. Varma is known to frequently cut out song and dance sequences in his films, which are usually commonplace in Bollywood. His films almost always deal with the contemporary and urban, usually set in the city of Mumbai. He often uses Indian stage actors in his films rather than established bollywood stars. Mainly known for creating the 'Mumbai noir', Varma brought psychological depth and cinematic virtuosity to genre films.
More recently, Varma returned with the organized crime masterpiece 'Company'. The film was again set in the Mumbai underworld, and was based on real life Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his criminal outfit D-Company. The film featured award-winning performances by Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi and Manisha Koirala. The film also won awards for best editing by Chandan Arora and best story by Jaideep Sahni. The film was lauded by critics and audiences alike.
His latest release Naach, which Varma called his best film yet, was a largely self reflective piece, about the relationship between an idealistic choreographer and an ambitious actor. The film had a weak commercial run but was liked by critics. In a recent interview with the Indian Express newspaper, the filmmaker criticized Indian audiences saying "I gave Ayn Rand to a Municipal School."
He spends most of his time these days producing small budget films for his successful production house Varma Corp. Though not always credited, he is involved in all aspects of his productions, often believed to 'ghost direct' many of the films. He produces films at a fast speed that is unfamiliar to the Indian Film Industry. He has had many recent successes including - 'Ab Tak Chhappan', based on the experiences of famed Mumbai police Daya Naik, 'D', a prequel to his earlier hit Company based on the early years of Dawood Ibrahim during his days under Pathan underworld boss Karim Lala, 'Ek Hasina Thi', a female revenge thriller, and finally 'Road'. He has also produced lighter films such as 'Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega' and 'Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon'.
Eric Lynn Wright, better known by his stage name Eazy-E, was an American rapper who performed solo and as a member of the group N.W.A. Wright is affectionately called "The Godfather Of Gangsta Rap."
He was born in Compton, California. After dropping out of high school in the tenth grade, he supported himself primarily by selling drugs before investing it in and becoming founder of Ruthless Records. He made his debut as a rapper with "Boyz-N-The-Hood" which was a revolutionary song in rap history written by Ice Cube. N.W.A first released N.W.A. and the Posse in 1987. In 1988, they released their most controversial album, "Straight Outta Compton." The group released two more albums before disbanding in the early 90's.
Eazy-E continued as a solo artist releasing three solo projects. In addition, he released several notable artists on his Ruthless Records label including but not limited to J.J. Fad, Michel'le, The DOC, Above the Law and Bone thugs-n-harmony.
He fathered nine children. He died March 26, 1995 due to complications of pneumonia associated with AIDS.
Royce Gracie, of the legendary Gracie family, is one of the most prolific and influential MMA fighters in history. He became an 'underdog' hero while changing the landscape of combat sports and revolutionizing martial arts forever. After winning the first UFC Tournament(s) (UFC1, UFC2, UFC4), he proved that with the knowledge of his father's fighting style (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) a "David" could beat a "Goliath". Royce is the only fighter in history to defeat four opponents in the same night; unlike today, these tournaments had no weight divisions, no time limits and no real rules. In Brazil they were called "Vale Todo" in America it became 'no-holds-barred' and was quickly ruled illegal throughout most of the U.S. In 2003, Royce was the first fighter inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. His record of 'victories via submissions' remain untouched. Today he's considered an icon, a pioneer, and "The Godfather" of a sport that will be celebrating it's 20th anniversary, November 12th 2013.
John was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a teenager he began his singing and acting career. He studied with John Cassavetes, American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Universal Art Studios, which led to a role in the off-Broadway show "Hat Full of Rain." He then had a hit song called "Baby Sitting Baby" that landed him on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Shortly thereafter, John headed to California to pursue his acting career. His first acting role came in "The Wild Wild West" television show in which he became a member of The Screen Actors Guild. John's big break came when he was cast in Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" as "Paulie Gatto." John's career has brought him back and forth between New York and California, he now lives in Central Florida with his wife Lori and their two sons John and Joseph. He continues to act, sing, write and produce. In 2006 John won a Crystal Reel Award for best lead actor for his part in the feature film "Confessions of a Thug." The award was presented to him by the Florida Motion Picture Television Association. John is still acting and writing screenplays today. John is also licensed through Paramount Pictures to manufacture Godfather license plates, frames and key chains.John was honored that Author Richard Lester wrote his life in a book "A Wish Beyond The Stars, The Johnny Martino Story" available early 2012. A documentary film of his book is in production by Director Gary Lester to be released later this year. On June 2, 2013 John was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award through the Treasure Coast International Film Festival in Port St. Lucie, Florida. John's ultimate dream is to create a 1940s Dinner Club called Paulie after his character in the Godfather. It is in the works and soon to become a reality.
|Diana Lee Inosanto
Diana Lee Inosanto is the daughter of legendary martial artist, Dan Inosanto and Sue Ann Reveal. She is also the goddaughter of global icon, the late Bruce Lee. Dan was such close friends to the late Bruce Lee, that in honor of his friend, he named his daughter, and first child, "Diana Lee".
Born in Torrance, California at Little Company of Mary Hospital, she was raised as a child in Carson, California. When Bruce Lee died in 1973, her family moved to Harbor City, California where her father decided to open his first martial arts school with Diana's second godfather, Richard Bustillo. There she was exposed to Jeet Kune Do, Filipino arts of Kali, Escrima, Panantukan, Silat, Western boxing, kick boxing and Wing Chun. It was called the Filipino Kali Academy and the exposure in her younger years to the martial arts would shape her future as an adult.
While her father influenced her martial arts education, her father's sister, actress, Lilia Inosanto would influence Inosanto's education in the theater arts. Inosanto was encouraged by her Aunt to study with legendary Broadway acting coach and author, Michael Shurtleff . Later, she would go on to work with East West Players & Lodestone Theater Ensemble, continuing to grow as an actress and fight choreographer.
During this time, Ms. Inosanto struggled as a young, single mom with an Autistic son. Eventually she met her husband Ron Balicki, Stunt Coordinator and Independent Producer. In order to support her family, Inosanto harnessed her martial arts talent, and found success working as a stunt actress on popular film and TV shows. Eventually she tired of this kind of work, and seized control as the creator of her own film projects.
By the end of 2010, as an emerging producer, director and writer on The Sensei, Inosanto would win awards and accolades at film festivals like LA Femme International Film Fest, Hoboken International Film Festival, Philadelphia Asian American Film Fest, San Francisco's Frameline, Germany's Verzaubert Film Festival and New York's Newfest to name a few.
So powerful was her message on The Sensei, that the Asian American Justice Center presented Ms. Inosanto with the 2011 American Courage Award, in Washington, D.C. where members of Congress and humanitarian activist were present, to honor her bravery and dedication to the cause of civil rights and use of incredible creative aptitude to deliver the message of advancing social justice.
Emmy Award winner and most recently introduced in the role of "Nell's Mom, Mrs. Jones" on NCIS: Los Angeles, Barbara Keegan made her Chicago stage debut at age 3, in a duet with her comedy godfather, first mentor and jester spirit-guide for all time - Danny Kaye. Since that storybook start, she's been entertaining distinguished, discerning, and quite possibly disturbed audiences from Miami to Montreal, from Los Angeles to New York, from San Diego to Singapore.
Regional, dinner theatre (yeah, remember THOSE?) and Off- (sometimes way WAY Off-) Broadway stage turns have included playing daughters (and sometimes sons) of luminaries from Maureen O'Sullivan to Abe Vigoda, as well as original cast credit in four or five Samuel French-published scripts. Los Angeles theater audiences have seen Keegan in ten roles in the Pasadena Playhouse's award-winning Joined at the Head, five roles in the five year run of Bill W. and Dr. Bob at Theatre 68, well-known as well as original musicals from The Fantasticks to the country-western Tanglin' Hearts to the politically-themed Campaign to the borscht-belt Mamaleh!, and the occasional beloved classic such as the blarney-speaking Nurse in Romeo and Juliet for Merry War Theatre Group. She's thrilled beyond words to be working once again with her favorite living playwright, Jon Courie, having first had that pleasure a couple of years ago on his Carapace Isle in its West coast premiere, as well as last year's Hollywood Fringe Festival favorite Jennifer Aniston Stole My Life, which, she is more than honored to note, Mr. Courie wrote specifically with her in mind.
A founder of the East-coast improv troupe The Public Trust, as well as its TYA arm The Lollipop Theatre for Children, Barbara's traded wit in live sketch comedy with Fred Willard, and raised money for worthy organizations co-starring in benefits with legends such as Shelley Berman, Robert Mandan, Bernie West, Sammy Shore, Marion Ross and Edward Asner, while making a decent living in her "day job" starring in hundreds of commercials and infomercials worldwide. A self-taught music prodigy, playing piano since eighteen months of age, Ms. Keegan was keyboardist/vocalist for femme rockers The Pickups, and has worked numerous live gigs and recording sessions for The Naked Apes, This Side Up, South American pop star Santiago, and more recently the Van Dyke Bros Band starring her husband Tom Van Dyke. For the record, she's never actually performed as a mermaid in Weeki Wachee, but has worn the crown of Miss Miami Beach, and squeezed into that very snug Starfleet uniform as a half-human, half-Vulcan in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. She's been immortalized as Cate Blanchett's favorite photodouble "evil twin", and has shared a soundstage "hotel room" with a Mr. B. Pitt. She also does a spot-on tribute to Davy Jones singing Daydream Believer. On stage, and come to think of it, off stage as well, Barbara's been compared to Peter Sellers, Peter Tork, Pee Wee Herman, Eddie Izzard, Groucho and Harpo Marx, Shirley MacLaine (yeah, we threw her in just to have a female in the mix)...and Hamlet. Hamlet. She's decided to take it as a compliment.
|Herschell Gordon Lewis
Only one film-maker can claim the title "Godfather of Gore." That peculiar but apt identification seems to be the exclusive property of Herschell Gordon Lewis. With an unusual background that included teaching English Literature to college students, producing and directing television commercials, and voicing radio and television commercials, Herschell literally - and single-handedly - established the "Splatter Film" category of motion pictures. He accomplished this by writing and directing (including the musical score) a mini-budget movie titled "Blood Feast," shot in Miami in 1963 and released theatrically the following year. As critics lambasted the primitive effects and inattention to script and sub-par acting, audiences flocked to theaters to see why friends who had reacted to the movie's fiery marketing campaign had said, "You gotta see this." Armed with boxoffice grosses, Herschell and his producer-partner David Friedman quickly decided to build onto their newly-discovered base. Herschell wrote and directed "Two Thousand Maniacs." The lead singer of the musical group hired to perform background music had a tenor voice. Herschell had written the title song, "The South Gonna Rise Ag'in." He wanted a baritone, and without hesitation he made the switch: the voice on the sound track is his. After their third splatter film, "Color Me Blood Red," David Friedman moved to California, engaging in a different type of motio0n picture. Herschell continued to grind out one success after another, with titles such as "The Gruesome Twosome," "The Wizard of Gore," and "The Gore-Gore Girls." When major film companies began to invade his splatter-turf, Herschell took a hiatus, shifting full time to his "other career," writing advertising and mailings for marketers worldwide. He became one of a handful of experts to be inducted into the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame. (Author of 32 books on marketing including the classic "On the Art of Writing Copy," Herschell is often called on to lecture on copywriting, just as he is invited to sing the theme from "Two Thousand Maniacs" at horror film festivals.) Over the years, an unusual reality came into place: Herschell's old films continued to play not just on TV screens but in theatres, years after conventional movies would have disappeared altogether. The result has been renewal of his life as a film director. Thus it is that a new Herschell Gordon Lewis movie is hoving into view: "Herschell Gordon Lewis's BloodMania," produced by James Saito in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and planned for 2015 release. Both the producer and the director encapsulate their opinion of "Herschell Gordon Lewis's BloodMania" in a single word: Enthusiastic.
Bayonas, an European actress, moved to Los Angeles from Madrid, Spain. She belongs to a family of filmmakers. She started working in films at the age of four years old and since then she has accomplished a strong career in Europe, with leading roles in film and TV with well known Spanish directors, like Jose Luis Bunuel, Jaime Chavarri, Julio Medem, Alfonso Ungria, Fernando Fernan Gomez, Jose Luis Cuerda, Manolo Matji, Jose Luis Berlanga and others.
She received her biggest media attention as a controversial artist as part for the cultural wave originated from Madrid, "La Movida". She was considered a mysterious, dark and complex actress as in all her roles she played. She broke that image and surprise the media and film critics by appearing on the cover of Interview magazine, as she wanted to seduce director Bigas Luna to play the lead in the "The Ages of Lulu".
She published the novel "Yes Father, no Father", a radical critic against parental education, which was a best seller in the 90's. She received an award for her first screenplay "Panfilas" by ICAA, Ministerio De Cultura of Spain. She played her first lead at the age of seven in" Correo De Guerra" ,1972 She studied Piano for ten years guided by her Godfather, the well known Classic pianist Manolo Carra and studied for 5 years with John Strasberg (Actors Studio New York). She is the daughter of Lola Salvador, a well known scriptwriter and film producer.
Her career was interrupted because of the serious illness of her son, who together fought for 20 years, finally loosing the battle to cancer. Bayonas is a founder member of the "Academia De las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematogricas of Spain" (GOYA awards). Her most recent work in Hollywood is Lewis Teague's, "CharlottaTS",( 2011).
The gift of provoking laughter came early to Larry Gelbart and has never deserted him. His distinguished career as a writer of comedy reads like a history of the art over the last 40 years. His writing credits date back to the Golden Age of radio, thanks in part to his father. The elder Gelbart was a barber in Beverly Hills who made it a point to tell his clients, such as Danny Thomas, what a funny 15-year-old son he had. As a result of his father's being his unofficial agent, Larry became a professional comedy writer before finishing high school. Shortly after being signed by the William Morris Agency, he joined the writing staff of "Duffy's Tavern," working for the man generally considered to be the hardest taskmaster in radio, Ed Gardner. "Seventy writers went through the mill while I was there," recalls Gelbart. "I was lucky because I was young and everybody wanted me to make good. They were all my godfathers." Gelbart left "Duffy's Tavern," to write for the "Joan Davis Show." While doing that he was called into the Army. He served with Armed Forces Radio Service for one year and 11 days, but it was a most productive period. He wrote for the Army's "Command Performance," while continuing to write for Joan Davis and Jack Paar, who was then a summer replacement for Jack Benny. He then went on to write for Jack Carson and Bob Hope, both on radio and television, and he also contributed to the Red Buttons TV show. In 1953 he joined the staff of TV's Your Show of Shows, writing skits for Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca in company with such fellow master wits as Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Neil Simon. For that series Gelbart won the Sylvania Award and two Emmy Awards. In the 1960s he began writing for the theater. He wrote "My L.A." and "The Conquering Hero," and with Burt Shevelove tried his hand at rewriting Plautus. The result was "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," a smash Broadway musical comedy starring Zero Mostel that earned Gelbart and Shevelove a 1962 Tony Award. When "Forum" moved to London, Gelbart and his family went with it. During his nine-year stay there, he wrote the comedy film The Wrong Box, a play called "Jump," some spaghetti westerns for Clint Eastwood and several television scripts. Gelbart came back to Los Angeles to write the television series M*A*S*H He was responsible for 97 segments of that show, one of television's most literate and entertaining efforts. Four years later he again dipped into the classics and transformed Ben Johnson's "Volpone" into a Broadway success, "Sly Fox," directed by Arthur Penn and starring George C. Scott. Gelbart's screen credits include The Notorious Landlady, Not with My Wife, You Don't!, Oh, God!, Neighbors, Movie Movie (directed by Stanley Donen) and Tootsie, which earned him an Academy Award nomination and best screenplay honors from the New York, Los Angeles and National Film Critics organization.
|Merete Van Kamp
Merete Van Kamp, was born in Kolding, Denmark, she started out as a Fashion-Beauty Modelwith Johnny Casablanca with Model management, in Paris, France, after a few years, she travel led to USA, where she quickly became a TOP-model with Elite in Los Angeles, where inside of two years she was chosen over 700 actresses to play the part of Princess Daisy, a multi million Dolla Mini-series,based on a Judith Krantz best seller Novel, with a star studded cast, like Ringo Star,Barbra Bach, Rupert Everett, Robert Urich, Paul Michael Glaser, Claudia Cardinale,Stacy Keach, Sara Thomsen, Jim Metzler,Lindsey Wagner, Alexa Kenin, Lysette Anthony, Hildy Brooks,Nicolas Koster, Sal Viscoso, Bill Santoro etc etc, there after she went to to become a regular cast member of Dallas, she even made an album with Rick James producing the music, and Frank Langolff produced the other songs on the album Pleasure and Pain, Merete Van Kamp, was both under contract with WTG, LA and EMI France, I Cant Wait produced by Rick James was released in Paris France..after years in La Merete Van kamp went back to live in Paris France, one of her latest films is Murders of Westbrick, an American-Danish production, Meete Van kamp, has one son Gregory Roman Friederich, where Roman Polanski, is the godfather baptized at The American church in Pais Fance. Merete van Kamp, is today a member of Syndicate Francais Des artistes, and a model with Silver.
A classically trained actor, Max began his career in New York's Off-Broadway circuit including Joseph Papp's Shakespeare-In-The-Park. Moving westward he landed co-starring roles with Jack Nicholson in Psych-Out and Candace Bergen in Columbia's box-office hit Getting Straight. In Uptight, N.Y. times Judith Crist considered him a standout in a standout cast. Santa Monica Evening Outlook's Raoul Gripenwaldt prophesied Max Julien's portrayal of Johnny Wells in Paramount's Uptight could very well result in an Academy Award. The Hollywood Reporter chimed in Max Julien creates a memorable piece of reality. As a reward he was invited to Europe to discuss film possibilities. In Rome he wrote and directed a documentary called Trestevre then wrote the screenplay and subsequently co-produced Warner Brothers' box-office bonanza Cleopatra Jones. The sequel, Cleopatra Jones and The Casino Of Gold he was credited with based on characters created by Max Julien.
In a joint venture with Columbia Pictures Julien wrote, produced and starred in Thomasine and Bushrod. Assuming responsibility for the final look of the film, he assisted in the direction, supervised the editing and created the design concept for the costumes. The New York Times declared it A western of considerable freshness. Cue Magazine said, Julien has an easy and likable quality; a talented, seriously funny man. The film garnered him a NAACP Image Award Nomination for Best Writer of the year. He then took a sabbatical from film, landing on several other continents, exploring the political developments of their cultures and writing poetry. He completed a novel, Dark Clowns Kickin' Ass, and finished 13 pieces of sculpture exhibited in galleries throughout the United States including Los Angeles' prestigious Pacific Design Center.
Nigerian businessmen commissioned Julien to do a feasibility study for the development of a West African Film Colony. He selected a crew from Europe, Australia and America, and for a two-month period trained local craftsmen in the art of filmmaking. As a tribute to his accomplishments and international profile, a year later he was invited to return to co-write and star in Bisi & The Sun God.
In the early 1990's Julien wrote, directed and essayed the title role in the do cu-drama Sketches Of A Man/The Charles Drew Story, the African-American doctor who invented blood plasma. The mid 90's returned him to West Africa starring, writing, executive producing and directing Sangu, The Silent One. Nigeria's Ibaden Tribune said Max Julien's Sangu is a masterpiece, a must for every Third World human being; more appropriately, every spiritual, peace loving person on the globe. This gifted, connected thread (Julien) will do much to keep the continents from colliding. The country's Daily Times echoed The Silent One speaks loudly; Julien's wisdom has not tarnished, his eyes and his words address the inner feelings of the common man of color. He's a joy to look upon, he is to be cherished.
In the billion dollar consumer market of hip hop, Max Julien has become a Brand Name in hot demand by Rap, R&B and Pop entertainers to write and deliver his uniquely lyrical expressions including: Do Or Die's CD featuring Kanye West and R. Kelly, and Houston Blues singer Rue Davis' Legends Are Forever album in early 2007. Around the same time he was writing dialogue for a Warner Brother's video game based on Clint Eastwood's iconic Dirty Harry character that ended when the studio shelved the project. He was also a sought after guest speaker at Universities including Chapman College and San Jose State.
On May 13, 2011 on Yahoo News, Nick Cannon was being interviewed for his upcoming Showtime comedy special, Mr. Showbiz, which includes poking fun at his wife, Mariah Carey. Earlier reviews indicate one of the most hilarious bits involve him of accusing Mariah of pimping him like my man, Max Julien, Goldie from The Mack. Twenty-eight years before on May 11, 1983, years after its release, The Mack entered the non-competitive category of The Cannes Film Festival. Max Julien who starred as Goldie was dubbed one of the most popular and important filmmakers in America (L.A. Times), and for decades has been the subject of worldwide newspaper articles and graced the covers of major magazines including Ebony and Jet. In spite of being notoriously reclusive, in 2012 his popularity has reached cult-like proportions. His face hangs in the lobby Walls of Fame in Magic Johnson's Theatres from L.A. to Atlanta to Harlem. Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have done Max Julien impersonations. Stevie Wonder included Max in the dedications on his classic album Songs In The Key of Life. Dick Kleiner wrote a chapter about him in his book ESP & The Stars. In Miramax's book on '70's films What It Is & What It was, Academy Award Nominee Samuel L. Jackson complimented with I always went to see whatever Max Julien was doing. Benilde Little added tribute by describing the central character in her 1999 bestselling novel The Itch as being Max Julien cool. In a February 2008 interview on Fadar-TV, mega Hip-hop star Rick Ross removed his t-shirt and revealed Max's face tattooed on his body. In June of last year, Max completed hosting, starring and executive producing in Eleven 11 Media-TV's new Houston-based reality show.
90% of the world's rappers have sampled his voice and the music from The Mack (Outkast, 50-Cents, Three 6 Mafia etc.) familiarizing him amongst the 75% male and female record buyers between 15 and 25 years of age, who happen to be white. Hundreds of R&B and Rock artists (i.e., P. Diddy, Kid Rock) and Snoop Dawg who proudly admits fashioning his after Goldie from The Mack. Following suit Quentin Tarrentino scripted a film, True Romance, that shows Julien in a clip while Christian Slater says I know that film. It's The Mack starring Max Julien.
Although he declined a writing credit Max wrote the script along with co-star Richard Pryor and director Michael Campus. He also made major contributions in the designing of the much heralded costumes. The effort was described by Kevin Thomas (L.A. Times) as having spectacular acting; entertaining, honest, real, and remains one of the leading DVD rentals/sellers in the world, recently cited by Entertainment Weekly Magazine as the 20th top cult film of all times, on a list of 50, including Scarface and The Godfather adding to the almost mythical status of Max and the film, in the Black Eye Peas latest album The Beginning, the artist Apl.De.AP strongly declares on the cut The Time (Dirty Bit), I'm the Mack Daddy y'all.
Continuing the legend he did a starring cameo as well as writing his role in Def Jam's comedy hit, How To Be A Player, then wrote and performed the intro, 19 interludes and the final recording on the film's Platinum selling Sound Track Album. He wrote and performed on Rap-A-Lot artist Tela's Gold Now or Never CD, was highlighted throughout The Hughes Brothers' documentary The American Pimp, starred in Bradley Smith's award winning film short Restore featured in N.Y.'s 2002 Urban World Film Festival as well as Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Channel, also portrayed Nelly's father in the video of his hit single Pimp Juice and filmed a guest starring role on the hit sitcom One On One which aired in 2005 and continues in re-runs as one of the show's most popular segments.
Max is designing a line of hand-painted clothing & accessories, already being worn by Hip Hop performers and others, plus uniting with a New York based branding group who will produce his personally developed cologne, a video game, an autobiographical book and a Broadway show based on the extraordinary evolution of his life including his friendship with the late revolutionary Huey P. Newton during the volatile development of The Mack.
A Midwest native, Cari Shayne moved to New York City and graduated from the prestigious Professional Children's School with fellow school mates Jerry O'Connell, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Donald Faison. After relocating to Los Angeles she was cast as Karen Wexler in the number one daytime drama General Hospital, propelling her into the national spotlight early in her career. However, a move to prime time is what served to broaden her appeal to a wider audience when she joined the cast of the hit Fox drama, Party of Five. She made a splash with critics and Hollywood alike when she starred as young Naomi Judd in the NBC miniseries, Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge. People Magazine called her "luminous" and Peter Bogdanovich promptly cast her as Claire Gundry, a Marilyn Monroe wannabe, southern Belle in the 1950s period film The Price of Heaven. Shayne also co-starred with Matthew Settle and Sarah Paulson in Louis L'Amour's Shaughnessy and appeared with Nestor Carbonell in the Sundance favorite Jack the Dog.
Shayne has also done extensive work in series television. Just before Beverly Hills, 90210 took a bow, Aaron Spelling took notice of Shayne's talent and wrote her onto 90210 as Daniel Cosgrove's schizophrenic wife.
Cari has made regular appearances on such television series as Cold Case, American Dreams, and The Division, to name a few and starred in the television pilots, Forbidden Island, and Dope, in which she co-starred with Jason Priestly.
Shayne recently appeared in the first ever action series made for Mobile and broadband platforms, Flatland, from the producers of Million Dollar Baby and The Godfather, starring Dennis Hopper.
She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, actor/singer Alex Mendoza, and their baby, Gaelan Edward, born October 2004.