Friday, 20 June 2008

Vivien Leigh

Vivian Mary Hartley was born on November 5, 1913.Her parents wanted to go home to England but because of World War I they opted to stay in India. At the end of the war the Hartleys headed back to their home country, where Vivien's mother wanted her daughter to have a convent education. She was one of the youngest in attendance, and it was not a happy experience for her. One of the few consolations was her friendship with a classmate who also became a successful actress, Maureen O'Sullivan While there her mother came for a visit and took her to a play on London's legendary West Side.It was there that Vivien decided to become an actress. At the end of her education, she met and married Herbert Leigh in 1932 and together had a child named Suzanne in 1933. Though she enjoyed motherhood, it did not squelch her ambition to be an actress. Her first role in British motion pictures was as Rose Venables in 1935's The Village Squire (1935). That same year Vivien appeared in Things Are Looking Up (1935), Look Up and Laugh (1935) and Gentlemen's Agreement (1935). In 1938, Vivien went to the US to see her lover, Laurence Olivier, who was filming Wuthering Heights (1939) (she had left Herbert Leigh in 1937). While visiting Olivier, Vivien had the good luck to happen upon the Selznick brothers, who were filming the burning of Atlanta for the film, Gone with the Wind (1939), based on Margaret Mitchell's novel. The role of Scarlett O'Hara had yet to be cast and she was invited to take part in a screen test for the role. There had already been much talk in Hollywood about who was to be cast as Scarlett. Some big names had tried out for the part, such as Norma Shearer, Katharine Hepburn and Paulette Goddard. In fact, most in the film industry felt that Goddard was a sure bet for the part. However, four days after the screen test, Vivien was informed that she had landed the coveted slot. Although few remember it now, at the time her casting was controversial, as she was British and many fans of the novel it was based on felt the role should be played by an American. In addition, the shoot wasn't a pleasant one, as she didn't get along with her co-star, Clark Gable. The rest, as they say, is history. The film became one of the most celebrated in the annals of cinema. Not only did it win Best Picture during the Academy Awards, but Vivien won for Best Actress. Already she was a household name. In 1940, she made two films, Waterloo Bridge (1940) and 21 Days (1940), though neither approached the magnetism of GWTW. That same year saw Vivien marry Olivier and the next year they appeared together in That Hamilton Woman (1941).

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Rita Hayworth

Spanish dancer Eduardo Cansino's daughter Margarita trained as a dancer from early childhood. At age 12, mature-looking Rita joined Eduardo's stage act, in which she was spotted three years later by Fox studio head Winfield R. Sheehan, leading to her first studio contract and film debut at age 16 in Dante's Inferno (1935). Fox dropped her after five small roles, but expert, exploitative promotion by first husband Edward Judson soon brought Rita a new contract at Columbia Pictures, where studio head Harry Cohn changed her name to Hayworth and approved raising her hairline by electrolysis. After 13 mainly minor roles, Columbia lent her to Warner Bros. for her first big success, The Strawberry Blonde (1941); her splendid dancing with Fred Astaire in You'll Never Get Rich (1941) made her a star.In person Rita was shy, quiet and unassuming; only when the cameras rolled did she turn on the explosive sexual charisma that in Gilda (1946) made her a superstar. To Rita, though, domestic bliss was a more important, if elusive, goal, and in 1949 she interrupted her career for marriage--unfortunately an unhappy one almost from the start--to playboy Prince Aly Khan. Her films after her divorce from Khan include perhaps her best straight acting performances, Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) and They Came to Cordura (1959). From 1960 (age 42), early onset of Alzheimer's disease (undiagnosed until 1980) limited Rita's powers; the last few roles in her 60-film career were increasingly small. Almost helpless by 1981, Rita was cared for by daughter Yasmin Khan until her death at age 68.

Mickey Rooney

Born in 1920, American actor, born Joe Yule, Jr., in Brooklyn, New York. The versatile Rooney has had one of Hollywood’s longest and most prolific careers.Rooney began his career at age two working in his parents' vaudeville act. He made his motion-picture debut in the short film Not To Be Trusted (1926) and had a small part in the silent feature film Orchids and Ermine (1927). Rooney also played comic-book character Mickey McGuire in a series of about 50 silent comedies from 1927 to 1933. From 1937 to 1947 he played Andy Hardy in the Hardy family series of low-budget films, starring opposite Judy Garland in some of these movies and also in several musicals, including Babes in Arms (1939). Rooney is also known for his performances in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Boys Town (1938), and the title role of Baby Face Nelson (1957).Other films that Rooney has appeared in include Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), and Pete’s Dragon (1977), as well as voice-only roles for children’s animated movies and many television specials. Rooney has won two special Academy Awards during his career, one in 1939 that he shared with actress Deanna Durbin for their “personification of youth” and another in 1983 honoring Rooney’s 50 years of memorable performances.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Excellent Site Award

I would like to thank with my Award Bluedreamer who is a great support to my site!

Bette Davis

Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on April 5, 1908. Her parents divorced when she was 10. Her early interests were in dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life, but then she discovered the stage. She gave up dancing for acting. To her, it presented much more of a challenge. She studied drama in New York City and made her debut on Broadway in 1929. In 1930, she moved to Hollywood where she hoped things would get better for her in the world of acting. They did indeed. She would become known as the actress that could play a variety of very strong and complex roles. She was first under contract to Universal Studios, where she made her first film, called Way Back Home (1931). After the unsuccessful film The Bad Sister (1931), made the same year, she was fired, which was wildly unpopular. She then moved on to Warner Brothers. Her first film with them was Seed (1931). More fairly successful movies followed, but it was the role of Mildred Rogers in Of Human Bondage (1934) that would give Bette major acclaim from the film critics. Warner Bros. felt their seven-year deal with Bette was more than justified. They had a genuine star on their hands. With this success under her belt, she began pushing for stronger and more meaningful roles. In 1935, she received her first Oscar for her role in Dangerous (1935) as Joyce Heath. In 1936, she was suspended without pay for turning down a role that she deemed unworthy of her talent. She went to England, where she had planned to make movies, but was stopped by Warner Bros. because she was still under contract to them. They did not want her to work anywhere. Although she sued to get out of her contract, she lost. Still, they began to take her more seriously after that. In 1938, Bette received a second Academy Award nomination for her work in Jezebel (1938) opposite the soon-to-be-legendary Henry Fonda. Bette would receive six more nominations, including one for her role as Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950). While she was a genuine star in the '30s and '40s, the '50s and early '60s saw her in the midst of films that all lost money. Then came What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) in which she played a deranged former child star and a rather spooky one at that. This brought about a new round of super-stardom for generations of fans who were not familiar with her work. Two years later she starred in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). Bette was married four times. Her last marriage, to actor Gary Merrill, lasted ten years, longer than any of the previous three. In 1985, her daughter Barbara Davis ("B.D.") Hyman published a scandalous book about Bette called "My Mother's Keeper." Sadly, Bette Davis died on October 6, 1989, of metastasized breast cancer.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Gene Kelly

M-G-M was the largest and most powerful studio in Hollywood when Gene Kelly arrived in town in 1941. He came direct from the hit 1940 original Broadway production of "Pal Joey" and planned to return to the Broadway stage after making the one film required by his contract. His first picture for M-G-M was For Me and My Gal (1942) with Judy Garland. What kept Kelly in Hollywood were "the kindred creative spirits" he found behind the scenes at M-G-M. The talent pool was especially large during World War II, when Hollywood was a refuge for many musicians and others in the performing arts of Europe who were forced to flee the Nazis. After the war, a new generation was coming of age. Those who saw An American in Paris (1951) would try to make real life as romantic as the reel life they saw portrayed in that musical, and the first time they saw Paris, they were seeing again in memory the seventeen-minute ballet sequence set to the title song written by George Gershwin and choreographed by Kelly. The sequence cost a half million dollars (U.S.) to make in 1951 dollars. Another Kelly musical of the era, Singin' in the Rain (1952), was one of the first 25 films selected by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry. Kelly was in the same league as Fred Astaire, but instead of a top hat and tails Kelly wore work clothes that went with his masculine, athletic dance style.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple was easily the most popular and famous child star of all time. She got her start in the movies at the age of three and soon progressed to super stardom. Shirley could do it all: act, sing and dance and all at the age of five! Fans loved her as she was bright, bouncy and cheerful in her films and they ultimately bought millions of dollars worth of products that had her likeness on them. Dolls, phonograph records, mugs, hats, dresses, whatever it was, if it had her picture on there they bought it. Shirley was the box-office champion for three straight years, 1936-37-38, beating out such great grown up stars as Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford. By 1939, her popularity declined. Although she starred in some very good movies like Since You Went Away (1944) and the The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), her career was nearing its end. Later, she served as an ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. It was once guessed that she had more than 50 golden curls on her head.

Rock Hudson

He was the son of an auto mechanic and a telephone operator who divorced when he was eight years old. He failed to obtain parts in school plays because he couldn't remember lines. After high school he was a postal employee and during WW II served as a Navy airplane mechanic. After the war he was a truck driver. His size and good looks got him into movies. His name was changed to Rock Hudson, his teeth were capped, he took lessons in acting, singing, fencing and riding. One line in his first picture, Fighter Squadron (1948), needed 38 takes. In 1956 he received an Oscar nomination for Giant (1956) and two years later Look magazine named him Star of the Year. He starred in a number of bedroom comedies, many with Doris Day, and had his own popular TV series "McMillan & Wife" (1971). He had a recurring role in TV's "Dynasty" (1981) (1984-5). He was the first major public figure to announce he had AIDS, and his worldwide search for a cure drew international attention. After his death his long-time lover Marc Christian successfully sued his estate, again calling attention to the homosexuality Rock had hidden from most throughout his career.

Julie Andrews

Born Julia Elizabeth Wells in England in 1935, it was discovered when she was a child that she had a freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice. her mother and stepfather, both vaudeville performers, immediately got her into a singing career, and she performed in music halls throughout her childhood and teens, always immensely popular. At age 20, she performed in a London Palladium production of "Cinderella;" this launched her stage career. She came to Broadway in 1954 with "The Boy Friend." It was a hit, and Julie Andrews became a bona fide star two years later, in 1956, in the role of Eliza Doolittle in the unprecedented hit "My Fair Lady." Her star status continued in 1957, when she starred in the hit TV-production of Cinderella (1957) (TV) and through 1960, when she played Guenevere in "Camelot." She also starred in many TV-specials, notably one with Carol Burnett. In 1963, Walt Disney asked if she would like to star in his upcoming production, a lavish musical fantasy that combined live-action and animation. Julie said she would do it if she did not get to play Eliza in the pending film production of "My Fair Lady." She didn't, and so she made an auspicious film debut in Disney's Mary Poppins (1964), a huge hit which got her the Academy Award for Best Actress. (Audrey Hepburn, who played Eliza in the My Fair Lady film, wasn't even nominated.) Now Julie was a MOVIE STAR in capital letters, and it was her star power that helped make her third film, The Sound of Music (1965), the highest-grossing movie of its day and one of the highest-grossing of all time. The only problem was that now audiences identified her only with singing, sugary-sweet nannies and governesses. Therefore, they could not accept her in dramatic roles (The Americanization of Emily (1964), and definitely not in a Hitchcock thriller (Torn Curtain (1966). However, the musicals Julie subsequently made were casualties of the boom in musical film she helped to create. Throughly Modern Millie (1967), Star(1968), and Darling Lilli (1970) all bombed at the box office. However, Julie did not let this keep her down. She did work in nightclubs and hosted a TV variety series in the 1970s. Then she made a comeback to movies with an appearence in 10 (1979), directed by husband Blake Edwards. He helped continue to keep her on the rise by directing her in subsequent roles that were entirely different than anything she had been seen in before.

James Dean

James Dean was raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. He received rave reviews for his work as the blackmailing Arab boy in the New York production of Gide's "The Immoralist", good enough to earn him a trip to Hollywood. His early film efforts were strictly bit parts: a sailor in the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis overly frantic musical comedy Sailor Beware (1952); a GI in Samuel Fuller's moody study of a platoon in the Korean War, Fixed Bayonets! (1951) and a youth in the Piper Laurie-Rock Hudson comedy Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952). He had major roles in only three movies. In the Elia Kazan production of John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955) he played Caleb, the "bad" brother who couldn't force affection from his stiff-necked father. His true starring role, the one which fixed his image forever in American culture, was that of the brooding red-jacketed teenager Jim Stark in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause (1955). George Stevens' filming of Edna Ferber's Giant (1956), in which he played the non-conforming cowhand Jett Rink, was just coming to a close when Dean, driving his Porsche Spyder, collided with another car in Cholame, California. He had received a speeding ticket just two hours before. His very brief career, violent death and highly publicized funeral transformed him into a cult object of apparently timeless fascination.