Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joan Crawford (1904-1977)

Birth name: Lucille Fay LeSueur
Birthdate: Wednesday, March 23rd, 1904 (this date is disputed, with a more reasonable birth year being 1905 or 1906, according to some records. Her gravestone says 1908, but this is no doubt Hollywood glitter.)
Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA

Died: Tuesday, May 10th, 1977
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Cause of death: Pancreatic cancer and heart failure

Best known for: Oscar-winning actress who dominated Hollywood from the 1930s and for most of her life. Her most acclaimed films included Strange Cargo (1940), Mildred Pierce (1945, for which she won an Oscar), The Damned Don't Cry (1950) and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). She was nominated for a further two Oscars - for 1947's Possessed (losing out to Loretta Young) and for 1952's Sudden Fear (losing to Shirley Booth). She did not attend the 1946 Academy Awards ceremony, feigning illness, but listened to it on the radio, and when she won, she beckoned journalists into her rooms to accept the award!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Claude Rains (1889-1967)

Birth name: William Claude Rains
Birthdate: Sunday, November 10th, 1889
Location: Camberwell, London, UK

Died: Tuesday, May 30th, 1967
Location: Laconia, New Hampshire, USA
Cause of death: Abdominal haemmorhage

Best known for: His best remembered role was as the title character in the 1933 adaptation of H G Wells' The Invisible Man; other well-known screen appearances include The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Wolf Man (1941), Casablanca (1942), The Phantom of the Opera (1943) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He was four times nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award (for Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Casablanca, Mr Skeffington and Notorious) but never won one - he lost out to Thomas Mitchell, Charles Coburn, Barry Fitzgerald and Harold Russell respectively. He was also the first actor in Hollywood to command a million-dollar paycheck.

With the success of his film career in the 1930s, Claude became a naturalised American citizen in 1939, buying and moving into the 380-acre Stock Grange Farm in West Bradford Township in Pennsylvania in 1941, where he became a student of agriculture. However, his time here came to an end when, in 1956, he divorced his fourth wife (of six!) Frances Propper. Claude then moved to an 1850s Greek Revival house on the corner of Route 109 North and Little Pond Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire for the final 11 years of his life, where he kept a low profile within the community.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Rex Harrison (1908-1990)

Birth name: Reginald Carey Harrison
Birthdate: Thursday, March 8th, 1908
Location: Huyton, Merseyside, UK

Died: Saturday, June 2nd, 1990
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Cause of death: Pancreatic cancer

Best known for: English-born stage and screen actor most synonymous with his roles as Professor Henry Higgins in the musical My Fair Lady (1964) and the title character in Dr Dolittle (1967), although other films include Blithe Spirit (1945), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), Cleopatra (1963) and The Fifth Musketeer (1979).