Thursday, November 10, 2016

Margaret Lockwood (1916-1990)

Birth name: Margaret Mary Day Lockwood
Birthdate: September 15th, 1916
Location: Karachi, British India

Died: July 15th, 1990
Location: London, UK
Cause of death: Cirrhosis of the liver

Best known for: British film starlet who found fame in the 1930s and 40s in films such as Lorna Doone (1934), Doctor Syn (1937), Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Wicked Lady (1945) and Jassy (1947). She was nominated for a Best British Actress BAFTA for her role in 1955's Cast a Dark Shadow, but lost out to Katie Johnson for The Ladykillers.

Margaret's success in films both in the UK and the US is undeniable, shifting her screen image from lead starlet to darker, villainous roles in the post-war years. However, as she approached her 40th birthday, her popularity began to wane, so instead she turned to the stage and television screen to sustain her career.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Marlon Brando (1924-2004)

Birth name: Marlon Brando Jr
Birthdate: April 3rd, 1924
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Died: July 1st, 2004
Location: Westwood, California, USA
Cause of death: Respiratory failure

Best known for: Legendary American performer often cited as the greatest actor of all time, and an influence on generations of performers to come. He was nominated eight times for an Oscar, winning two - for On the Waterfront in 1955 and The Godfather in 1973 (although Marlon refused this award due to the poor treatment of American Indians in the entertainment industry). He also won five Golden Globes, a Primetime Emmy and three BAFTAs. His iconic status as a legend in film history will last forever, thanks to films such as A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), The Wild One (1953), On the Waterfront (1954), The Godfather (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979).

Everybody knows how great Marlon was in his prime in the 1950s and 60s, his legendary status as a principal icon of American film history meaning that most people know something about his career when it was at its height. And most people know that Marlon put on a great deal of weight as he entered old age. But what exactly did this Hollywood icon do in his latter years?

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Hattie Jacques (1922-1980)

Birth name: Josephine Edwina Jaques
Birthdate: February 7th, 1922
Location: Sandgate, Kent, UK

Died: October 6th, 1980
Location: Kensington, London, UK
Cause of death: Heart attack

Best known for: Larger than life comedy actress who is most famous for being part of the repertory company of actors who made up the Carry On film franchise team, in particular playing Matron in the various hospital-themed installments. Between 1949-1965 Hattie was married to fellow actor John Le Mesurier (best known as Sergeant Wilson in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army).

Hattie had enjoyed a successful career almost constantly since the late 1940s, both as part of the Carry On team and outside of it. Although she appeared in a total of 14 Carry On films between 1958-1974, she also had great success alongside comedy actor and writer Eric Sykes in his various TV shows, including 59 episodes of Sykes and a... (1960-65), The Plank (1967) and 68 episodes of Sykes (1972-79). She also worked with Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd, and appeared in 26 episodes of a now largely forgotten sitcom called Our House (1960-62), co-starring the likes of Norman Rossington and Charles Hawtrey.

Clark Gable (1901-1960)

Birth name: William Clark Gable
Birthdate: February 1st, 1901
Location: Cadiz, Ohio, USA

Died: November 16th, 1960
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of death: Coronary thrombosis

Best known for: Oscar-winning actor who was a matinee idol of both the silent and sound era, starting out in small parts in the 1920s before securing roles in classic films such as It Happened One Night (1934), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and Saratoga (1937). It is his iconic role as Rhett Butler in 1939's Gone with the Wind which secured his legendary status, after which he appeared in various war and Western films. He won an Oscar for Best Actor for It Happened One Night (beating Frank Morgan and William Powell) and was nominated for a further two (for Mutiny on the Bounty and Gone with the Wind). He was also nominated for two Golden Globes. He was married five times, most famously to the actress Carole Lombard, who died in an airplane crash in 1942.

In the 1950s, times were hard at Clark's home studio, MGM, thanks to the advent and success of television, and plummeting movie revenues. Many MGM execs were fired (including Louis B Mayer in 1951), and a number of stars considered to have excessive salaries were let go too, including Judy Garland and Greer Garson. Although Clark was not one of these stars, his salary was deemed excessive, and when his contract came up for renewal in 1953, he decided to go his own, independent way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bette Davis (1908-1989)

Birth name: Ruth Elizabeth Davis
Birthdate: April 5th, 1908
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

Died: October 6th, 1989
Location: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Cause of death: Breast cancer

Best known for: Actress who became one of the most successful and revered in Hollywood history, being nominated for 11 Oscars (and winning two, for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1939)), three Golden Globes (and being awarded the Cecil B DeMille Award in 1974) and four Emmys (winning one, for Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter in 1979). In 1999 the American Film Institute named her the second greatest female actor of the 20th century (after Katharine Hepburn).

By 1980, the year Bette turned 72, big-screen leading roles had all but dried out. As with so many stars of the classic era of Hollywood, Bette turned to television, and made a good many TV movies in her final decade, including the Emmy-nominated White Mama (1980) and A Piano for Mrs Cimino (1982). These projects were almost always well-received, and Bette appeared in an average of one every year until ill-health really took its debilitating effect.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tarzan - Part 5 (The 1980s)

Character's first film appearance: Tarzan of the Apes (released January 27th, 1918)
Character description: Tarzan - aka John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke - is a fictional character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his novel Tarzan of the Apes in 1912. He was a feral child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani great apes after being separated from his parents when their ship was marooned off the African coast by mutineers. As an adult he experiences modern civilisation for the first time, largely rejecting it and choosing to remain in the wild as a heroic adventurer.

This is the fifth in a multi-part entry charting what happened to the various actors who have played Tarzan over the years. Click here for the silent era (1918-1929), click here for the 1930s and 1940s (1932-1948), click here for the 1950s, click here for 1962-72, or read on to find about the Tarzans from the 1980s...

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Myrna Loy (1905-1993)

Birth name: Myrna Adele Williams
Birthdate: August 2nd, 1905
Location: Helena, Montana, USA

Died: December 14th, 1993
Location: New York, USA
Cause of death: Complications following surgery

Best known for: Actress who rose to prominence in the silent era, and consolidated her fame in the 1930s and 40s in films such as The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and Meet Me in St Louis (1959). She was also known for her role as Nora Charles in the Thin Man film franchise (1934-47). She was never nominated for an Oscar, but did receive an Honorary Award in 1991, at the age of 85, for "her extraordinary qualities both on screen and off, with an appreciation for a lifetime's worth of indelible performances".

Myrna's career was going great guns throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, with particular success in romantic comedies, but the outbreak of World War Two saw her shift her focus away from making movies and onto the war effort, specifically the Red Cross. Myrna was vociferously outspoken against German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, and as a result was placed on his infamous blacklist (a list of Western names who would be sent to concentration camps if ever they were captured). Myrna helped to run a Naval Auxiliary canteen and toured widely to raise funds for the war coffers.