Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fay Wray (1907-2004)

Birth name: Vina Fay Wray
Birthdate: Sunday, September 15th, 1907
Location: Alberta, Canada

Died: Sunday, August 8th, 2004
Location: New York City, USA
Cause of death: Natural causes

Best known for: Despite an acting career that spread across five decades, Fay was forever remembered for her principal role in the 1933 monster movie King Kong, whose shadow she never escaped - however, she earned a $10,000 salary for the film and the knowledge that the movie's success saved RKO from bankruptcy.

Fay had actually been acting since she was aged 16 but hit upon her big success playing Ann Darrow in 1933's King Kong. She never managed to escape the glare of success from that film, but did continue to enjoy a healthy acting career until the mid-1960s, when she retired from the screen at the age of 58 (she'd originally retired, aged just 35, after 1942's Not a Ladies' Man, but financial concerns forced her to return to acting 11 years later). Before this retirement she'd had TV success as Catherine Morrison in The Pride of the Family (1953-54) and various roles in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train and Perry Mason.

Harold Lloyd (1893-1971)

Birth name: Harold Clayton Lloyd
Birthdate: Thursday, April 20th, 1893
Location: Nebraska, USA

Died: Monday, March 8th, 1971
Location: Beverly Hills, California, USA
Cause of death: Prostate cancer

Best known for: His all-action, stunt-driven silent comedy films of the 1920s through to 1940s, most famously 1923's Safety Last! in which he is left suspended from a clock face high above the city.

Harold's heyday was during the 1920s when he produced a great many silent comedy shorts and films with Hal Roach, notably as the "Glass" character (he donned horn-rimmed spectacles as Roach believed Harold was too good-looking for comedy). But during the 1930s his popularity began to decline as the Great Depression promoted cynicism, which failed to match Harold's innate optimism and go-getting persona.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vivien Leigh (1913-1967)

Birth name: Vivian Mary Hartley
Birthdate: Wednesday, November 5th, 1913
Location: Darjeeling, India

Died: Saturday, July 8th, 1967
Location: London, UK
Cause of death: Suffocation caused by tuberculosis

Best known for: British actress whose career was eclipsed by her early success as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939), but whose other notable work included Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), Anna Karenina (1948) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). She won two Best Actress Oscars for Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire. Her personal claim to fame was that she was married to acting legend Sir Laurence Olivier between 1940-60.

Vivien's screen CV is actually relatively slight for a woman who made such an impact on Hollywood. She made only five films in the 1940s, just two in the 1950s and two more in the 1960s before her death, but she was extremely busy on the stage throughout these decades.