Sunday, November 29, 2009
Busby Berkeley (November 29, 1895 – March 14, 1976), born William Berkeley Enos in Los Angeles, California, was a highly influential Hollywood movie director and musical choreographer.
Berkeley was famous for his elaborate musical production numbers that often involved complex geometric patterns. Berkeley's works used large numbers of showgirls and props as fantasy elements in kaleidoscopic on-screen performances.
Berkeley made his stage debut at five, acting in the company of his performing family. During World War I, Berkeley served as a field artillery lieutenant. Watching soldiers drill may have inspired his later complex choreography. During the 1920s, Berkeley was a dance director for nearly two dozen Broadway musicals, including such hits as A Connecticut Yankee. As a choreographer, Berkeley was less concerned with the terpsichorean skill of his chorus girls as he was with their ability to form themselves into attractive geometric patterns. His musical numbers were among the largest and best-regimented on Broadway.
The “By A Waterfall” production number from Footlight Parade (1933) made use of one of the largest soundstages ever built, constructed especially by Warner Bros. to film Berkeley's creations.His earliest movie jobs were on Samuel Goldwyn's Eddie Cantor musicals, where he began developing such techniques as a “parade of faces” (individualizing each chorus girl with a loving close-up), and moving his dancers all over the stage (and often beyond) in as many kaleidoscopic patterns as possible. Berkeley's top shot technique (the kaleidoscope again, this time shot from overhead) appeared seminally in the Cantor films, and also the 1932 Universal programmer Night World (where he chorographed the number "Who's Your Little Who-Zis?"). His numbers were known for starting out in the realm of the stage, but quickly exceeding this space by moving into a time and place that could only be cinematic, only to return to shots of an applauding audience and the fall of a curtain. As choreographer, Berkeley was allowed a certain degree of independence in his direction of musical numbers, and they were often markedly distinct from (and sometimes in contrast to) the narrative sections of the films. The numbers he choreographed were mostly upbeat and focused on decoration as opposed to substance; one exception to this is the number “Remember My Forgotten Man” from Gold Diggers of 1933, which dealt with the treatment of soldiers in a post-World War I Depression.
Berkeley's popularity with an entertainment-hungry Great Depression audience was secured when he choreographed four musicals back-to-back for Warner Bros.: 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, the aforementioned Gold Diggers of 1933 and Fashions of 1934, as well as In Caliente and Wonder Bar with Dolores del Río. Berkeley's innovative and often sexually-charged dance numbers have been analyzed at length by cinema scholars. In particular, the numbers have been critiqued for their display (and some say exploitation) of the female form as seen through the “male gaze”, and for their depiction of collectivism (as opposed to traditionally American rugged individualism) in the spirit of Roosevelt's New Deal. Berkeley always denied any deep significance to his work, arguing that his main professional goals were to constantly top himself and to never repeat his past accomplishments.
As the outsized musicals in which Berkeley specialized became passé, he turned to straight directing. The result was 1939's They Made Me a Criminal, one of John Garfield's best films. Berkeley had several well-publicized run-ins with MGM stars such as Judy Garland. In 1943, he was removed as director of Girl Crazy because of disagreements with Garland, although the lavish musical number "I Got Rhythm", which he directed, remained in the picture.
His next stop was at 20th Century-Fox for 1943's The Gang's All Here, in which Berkeley choreographed Carmen Miranda's “Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat” number. The film made money, but Berkeley and the Fox brass disagreed over budget matters. Berkeley returned to MGM in the late 1940s, where among many other accomplishments he conceived the Technicolor finales for the studio's Esther Williams films. Berkeley's final film as choreographer was MGM's Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962).
In the late 1960s, the camp craze brought the Berkeley musicals back to the forefront. He toured the college and lecture circuit, and even directed a 1930s-style cold medication commercial, complete with a top shot of a dancing clock. In his 75th year, Busby Berkeley returned to Broadway to direct a successful revival of No No Nanette, starring his old Warner Brothers colleague and “42nd Street” star Ruby Keeler.
Berkeley was married six times and was survived by his wife Etta Dunn. He was also involved in an alienation of affections lawsuit in 1938 involving Carole Landis. In September 1935, Berkeley was the driver responsible for an automobile accident in which two people were killed, five seriously injured; Berkeley himself was badly cut and bruised. Berkeley, brought to court on a stretcher, heard testimony that Time magazine said made him wince:
Witnesses testified that motorist Berkeley whizzed down Roosevelt Highway one night, cut out of line, crashed headlong into one car, sideswiped another. Some said they smelled liquor on his breath. Berkeley died on March 14, 1976 in Palm Springs, California at the age of 80 from natural causes.
A Connecticut Yankee (1927) (Broadway)
Whoopee! (1930) (choreographer)
Kiki (1931) (choreographer)
Palmy Days (1931) (choreographer)
Flying High (1931) (choreographer)
The Kid from Spain (1932) (choreographer)
42nd Street (1933) (choreographer)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) (choreographer)
Footlight Parade (1933) (choreographer)
Roman Scandals (1933) (choreographer)
Fashions of 1934 (1934) (director/choreographer of musical numbers)
Wonder Bar (1934) (designer of musical numbers)
Dames (1934) (director/choreographer of musical numbers)
Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) (also director)
In Caliente (1935) (director/choreographer of musical numbers)
Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936) (director/choreographer of musical numbers)
Stage Struck (1936) (director)
The Singing Marine (1937) (director/choreographer of musical numbers)
Hollywood Hotel (1937) (director)
Varsity Show (1937) (director of finale)
Gold Diggers in Paris (1938) (director/choreographer of musical numbers)
They Made Me a Criminal (1939) (director)
Fast and Furious (1939) (director)
Broadway Serenade (1939) (director of finale)
Babes in Arms (1939) (director)
Strike Up the Band (film) (1940) (director)
Forty Little Mothers (1940) (director)
Ziegfeld Girl (1941) (director of musical numbers)
Babes on Broadway (1941) (director)
Lady Be Good (1941) (director of musical numbers)
For Me and My Gal (1942) (director)
Cabin in the Sky (1943) (director of "Shine" sequence)
Girl Crazy (1943) (director of "I Got Rhythm" finale)
The Gang's All Here (1943 film) (1943) (director)
Cinderella Jones (1946) (director)
Romance on the High Seas (1948) (choreographer)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) (director)
Two Weeks with Love (1950) (choreographer)
Call Me Mister (1951) (choreographer)
Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) (choreographer)
Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) (choreographer)
Small Town Girl (1953) (choreographer)
Easy to Love (1953) (choreographer)
Rose Marie (1954) (choreographer)
Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962) (choreographer)
No, No, Nanette (1971) (production supervisor) (Broadway)
In the movie Brewster's Millions, Marilyn (Brewster's decorator) says, "Shut your eyes, and see....Mesopotamia...meeting...Busby-Berkeley!! "
On The Jackie Gleason Show, an hour-long comedy-variety program which ran on the American CBS television network from 1966 to 1970, the June Taylor Dancers often provided dances which created Busby Berkeley-like patterns—shown with an overhead camera—only on a much smaller scale.
The "Miss Piggy's Fantasy" musical number from The Great Muppet Caper (1981) involving Miss Piggy and a number of chorus girls is directly influenced by the aesthetic.
The music video for the Take That single, "Shine" was inspired by the work of Busby Berkeley.
The music video for the Chemical Brothers song "Let Forever Be" features Berkeley-style choreographies.
The "Be Our Guest" sequence from Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast movie was inspired by the work of Busby Berkley.
The ending sequence of the film Jackass Number Two, in which the actors spoof a highly-stylized dance number, is based largely on Busby Berkeley's work.
In the film The Big Lebowski, actor Jeff Bridges has a psychedelic dream sequence that mimics the style of Berkeley's choreography.
In the film Blazing Saddles, Dom DeLuise plays a cameo role as effeminate film director/choreographer Buddy Bizarre, who is filming a number similar to those made by Busby Berkeley.
The new "Bonds Kaledioscope" clothing advertisement is influenced by Busby Berkeley's style.
In the British 2006 film Confetti in which three couples compete to have the most original wedding to win a house, one couple have a Hollywood Musicals themed wedding based on the films of Busby Berkeley.
In "Hollywood Babble On II", an issue of Shade, The Changing Man, the opening sequence is "just like a Busby Berkeley movie" except all of the performers are plucked from their "ordinary folk" activities and thus unsynchronized until they are all devoured by a shark they fail to jump.
In the animated short, "Harvey Krumpet," the lead character is mesmerized by a Busby Berkley television show when he first gets to the United States.
The nip/tuck Season 5 part 2 promo featuring the song Flashing lights.
A number of songs make reference to Busby Berkeley:
"The Wonderful Tundra" by The Whiskers
"Busby Berkeley Dreams" and "The Way You Say Goodnight" by The Magnetic Fields on 69 Love Songs
"Brawl" and "Da' Girlz, They Luv Me" by rapper R.A. The Rugged Man on Die, Rugged Man, Die (2005)
Icelandic singer Björk's infamous swan dress at the 2001 Academy Awards was supposedly inspired by Berkeley's musicals.
Natalie Wood (born Natalia Zacharenko Cyrillic: Наталья Николаевна Захаренко; July 20, 1938 – November 29, 1981) was an American actress.
Following her film debut in 1943, Wood became a successful child actor in such films as Miracle on 34th Street (1947). A well received performance opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and helped her to make the transition from a child performer.
She then starred in the musicals West Side Story (1961) and Gypsy (1962). She also received Academy Award nominations for her performances in Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Love With the Proper Stranger (1963).
Her career continued successfully into the late 1960s with lead roles in films such as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969); after this she worked less frequently so that she could start a family. She was married to actor Robert Wagner twice and had two daughters, Natasha Gregson and Courtney Wagner. Wood starred in several television productions, including a remake of the film From Here to Eternity (1979) for which she won a Golden Globe Award.
Wood drowned near Santa Catalina Island, California. Her final film, the science fiction drama Brainstorm (1983) with Christopher Walken, was released posthumously.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Christopher John George (February 25, 1931 - November 28, 1983) was an American television and film actor who was perhaps best known for his starring role in the 1966-1968 TV series The Rat Patrol. He was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1967 as Best TV Star for his performance in the series The Rat Patrol. He was also the recipient of a New York Film Festival award as the Best Actor in a Television Commercial. George was also the long-time husband of actress Lynda Day George.
Christopher George held down a variety of jobs before he began acting for a living. He also worked as a private investigator and ran a bar before pursuing acting. George worked as a bartender in a Miami bar. He served as the owner and operator of eateries and beer joints, one called the Dragnet Drive-In which was in Miami and another one in Stockton, California which was off-limits to members of the military. The inn in Stockton, California where he worked for five months during a break from college had been owned by a late uncle for seven years and was off-limits to Marines. He worked as a bouncer in tough restaurants and held a pilot's license. He also hired on with a friend who owned a 110-foot converted Canadian gunboat and transported cargo through the Caribbean for two years. Before graduating from the University of Miami, George had a job lined up with a big investment company; however he instead turned to acting after completing a vocational test battery that indicated that he should work in drama.
After graduating from college, George began acting in New York City, where he performed on the stage and in television commercials. His big break came when he was working as a bouncer at a New York waterfront bar and producer Robert Rafelson convinced him to begin an acting career. He studied acting under Wynn Handman and landed roles in off Broadway productions of popular plays of the day. Small theater productions in which he appeared while he was studying drama included All My Sons, The Moon is Blue, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Stalag 17, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?. Under drama coach Wynn Handman, he landed a sixteen week engagement in the play 'Mr. Roberts' with actor Hugh O'Brian; parts in Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams followed. George's career took off after he made a 60-second TV commercial for shaving cream, where he played the young chap in the "Good morning, Mr. Gray" shaving spot, and won the New York Film Festival Award for best actor in a commercial. During this 1962 shaving-cream commercial, George played a groom lathering up before his first honeymoon night, with a line where he said, "It's all for you." The commercial earned him over $30,000. He also appeared on TV in roles on Naked City and Bewitched television series shows. While in New York City, George played in the Lemos Greek Repertory Theater because he could speak Greek fluently.
George first appeared on the screen when he landed a role in the film, "In Harm's Way," playing a dying sailor for 30 seconds. The film, "In Harm's Way," directed by Otto Preminger, provided him with his first opportunity to meet and work with John Wayne, who had been his boyhood idol and who would become a life-long friend.
George first rose to prominence in 1967 playing a supporting role in the Howard Hawks-directed western film El Dorado, starring John Wayne. George and Wayne became friends while shooting the film and would co-star in additional westerns including Chisum in 1970 and The Train Robbers in 1973.
From 1966 to 1968 over the course of two seasons and 58 episodes, George played the lead role of Sergeant Sam Troy in The Rat Patrol. The show followed the exploits of four allied soldiers who were part of a long range desert patrol group in the North African campaign during World War II. Along with fellow Rat Patrol members, George appeared in the April 1967 Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade in Washington, D.C.. While filming a scene of the Rat Patrol on Wednesday, 4 January 1967, George, as well as two other members of the cast Justin Tarr and Gary Raymond, were injured when the jeep they were riding in overturned as they made a tight turn. The accident happened when Tarr was driving the jeep on a dry lakebed at Rosamond, California, near Edwards Air Force Base, and resulted in George sustaining a concussion, tearing something in his neck and injuring his back. Doctors at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in California were able to determine that his back had been badly sprained, not fractured as they had initially feared. While starring in The Rat Patrol, Chris also served as an awards presenter at the 1966 Washington, D.C. local version of the Emmy Awards, hosted at the Washington, D.C. Sheraton Park Hotel.
Following cancellation of The Rat Patrol, George played the lead role in several genre films of the 1960s including Tiger by the Tail (1968) co-starring Tippi Hedren; Project X (1968), directed by William Castle; and The Devil’s 8 (1969) co-starring Fabian. He narrated a documentary about the careers of Craig Breedlove and Lee Breedlove, a husband and wife auto racing team, which was entitled 'The Racers: Craig and Lee Breedlove,' in 1968. Then, in 1969, George portrayed Ben Richards in the pilot movie for The Immortal which ran on ABC Movie of the Week. The film was picked up as a TV series and ran for 15 episodes from 1970-1971. During this time, he also portrayed Dan August in the television film House on Greenapple Road (1970), which evolved into the 1970-71 series Dan August starring Burt Reynolds.
George continued his television work throughout the 1970s with guest roles on many popular series including Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, Police Story, S.W.A.T., Charlie's Angels. and Fantasy Island. He also surprised fans by posing nude for Playgirl magazine in the June, 1974 issue. In 1976, George played a supporting role in the all-star World War II epic Midway. That same year, he would play the lead role of Ranger Michael Kelly in the Film Ventures International independent film Grizzly. A thinly-veiled Jaws clone, the animal horror thriller became one of the most popular films of George's career earning more than $39 million at the box office.
George followed that success with a busy string of horror, action, splatter and slasher B-movies over the next seven years including Dixie Dynamite (1976) co-starring Warren Oates; Day of the Animals (1977) co-starring Lynda Day George and Leslie Nielsen; Whiskey Mountain (1977); Filippo Ottoni's Last Night Of Christmas aka Questo sì che è amore with Sven Valsecchi and Gay Hamilton (1978); City of the Living Dead (1980) directed by Lucio Fulci; The Exterminator (1980); Graduation Day (1981); Enter the Ninja (1981); Pieces (1982) co-starring Lynda Day George; and Mortuary (1983) co-starring Lynda Day George and Bill Paxton. Many of these works have since achieved cult film status.
George first met actress Lynda Day in New York where they were doing a fashion layout; she was modeling the bride's outfit and he was the groom. They met again later when they starred together in the 1966 independent film The Gentle Rain. They would star together again four years later in Chisum, where they fell in love and soon married. Chris and Lynda were married in May 1970; they were married in an Episcopalian ceremony in a judge's chamber in Palm Beach, Florida. The following day, they left for their honeymoon in St. Croix the Virgin Islands. Thereafter, Lynda became Lynda Day George and co-starred with Christopher in multiple television films over the next 10 years including Mayday at 40,000 Feet (1976) and Cruise Into Terror (1978). They also worked together in episodes of The F.B.I. (1970), Mission: Impossible (1971), McCloud (1975), Wonder Woman (1976), Love Boat (1977) and Vega$ (1978). Christopher and Lynda Day George had two children, a son and a daughter.
Soon after completing Mortuary, George died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Tuesday, November 28, 1983. He died at Westside Hospital in Los Angeles, California, while under the care of his cardiologist, Dr. Pearl McBroom. A contributing factor in his death is believed to have been a 1967 mishap suffered on the set of The Rat Patrol when his jeep flipped over and pinned him beneath the vehicle. The accident left George with a bad heart that contributed to his death. A Greek Orthodox rosary service was conducted at Westwood Memorial Park and a private funeral was held at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Northridge, California. At his funeral, the Marine Corps provided an honor guard to render military honors. His death devastated his wife, Lynda, and afterwards she only worked sporadically in television guest roles until her retirement in the early 1990s. He is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
George's niece is Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"Katie and Micah were enjoying a happy and carefree existence. Their future looked promising until bizarre events begin to occur at night. In order to get to the bottom of things, Katie and Micah purchase a video camera to find out what happens at night while they slept." - Hollywood Streams
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
George Raft (September 26, 1895 – November 24, 1980) was an American film actor identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s. Raft was born George Ranft in Hell's Kitchen, New York City to German immigrant Conrad Ranft and his wife Eva Glockner. A boyhood friend of gangster Owney Madden, he admittedly narrowly avoided a life of crime.
As a young man he showed aptitude in dancing, and with his elegant fashion sense, this enabled him to gain employment as a dancer in New York City nightclubs. He became part of the stage act of Texas Guinan and his success led him to Broadway where he again worked as a dancer. He worked in London as a chorus boy in the early 1920s. Vi Kearney, later a dancer in shows for Charles Cochran and Andre Charlot, was quoted as saying:
“Oh yes, I knew him (George Raft). We were in a big show together. Sometimes, to eke out our miserable pay, we'd do a dance act after the show at a club and we'd have to walk back home because all the buses had stopped for the night by that time. He'd tell me how he was going to be a big star one day and once he said that when he'd made it how he'd make sure to arrange a Hollywood contract for me. I just laughed and said: 'Come on, Georgie, stop dreaming. We're both in the chorus and you know it.' [Did he arrange the contract?] Yes. But by that time I'd decided to marry... [Was he (Raft) ever your boyfriend?] How many times do I have to tell you ...chorus girls don't go out with chorus boys. ”
In 1929, Raft relocated to Hollywood and took small roles. His success came in Scarface (1932), and Raft's convincing portrayal led to speculation that Raft was a gangster. Due to his life-long friendship with Owney Madden, Raft was a friend or acquaintance of several other crime figures, including Bugsy Siegel and Siegel's old friend Meyer Lansky. When Gary Cooper's romantic escapades put him on one gangster's hit list, Raft reportedly interceded and persuaded the mobster to spare Cooper.
He was one of the three most popular gangster actors of the 1930s, with James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. Raft and Cagney worked in Each Dawn I Die (1939) as convicts in prison. He advocated for the casting of his friend Mae West in a supporting role in his first film as leading man, Night After Night (1932), which launched her movie career. Raft appeared the following year in Raoul Walsh's period piece The Bowery as Steve Brodie the first man to jump off Brooklyn Bridge and survive, with Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Fay Wray and Pert Kelton.
Some of his other films include If I Had A Million (1932), in which he played a forger hiding from police, suddenly given a million dollars with no place to cash the check, Bolero (1934; a rare role as a dancer rather than a gangster), an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key (1935) (remade in 1942 with Alan Ladd in Raft's role), Souls at Sea (1937) with Gary Cooper, two with Humphrey Bogart: Invisible Stripes (1939) and They Drive by Night (1940), each with Bogart in supporting roles, and Manpower (1941) with Edward G. Robinson and Marlene Dietrich. Although Raft received third billing in Manpower, he played the lead.
The years 1940 and 1941 proved to be Raft's career peak. He went into professional decline over the next decade, in part due to turning down some of the famous roles in movie history, notably High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon; both roles transformed Humphrey Bogart from supporting player to a major force in Hollywood in 1941. Raft was also reported to have turned down Bogart's role in Casablanca (1942), although according to Warner Bros. memos, this story is apocryphal.
Approached by director Billy Wilder, he refused the lead role in Double Indemnity (1944), which led to the casting of Fred MacMurray. His career choices (he was more or less illiterate, which made judging scripts problematic), combined with the public's growing distaste for his apparent gangster lifestyle, ended his career as a leading man in mainstream movies.
During the 1950s he worked as a greeter at the Capri Casino in Havana, Cuba, where he was part owner along with Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante. In 1953, Raft also starred as Lt. George Kirby in a syndicated television series police drama entitled I'm the Law which ran for one season.
He satirized his gangster image with a well-received performance in Some Like it Hot (1959), but this did not lead to a comeback, and he spent the remainder of the decade making films in Europe. He played a small role as a casino owner in Ocean's Eleven (1960) opposite the Rat Pack. His final film appearances were in Sextette (1978), reunited with Mae West in a cameo, and The Man with Bogart's Face (1980).
Fred Astaire, in his autobiography Steps in Time (1959), says Raft was a lightning-fast dancer and did "the fastest Charleston I ever saw."
Ray Danton played Raft in The George Raft Story (1961), which co-starred Jayne Mansfield.
In the 1991 biographical movie Bugsy, the character of George Raft was played by Joe Mantegna.
Raft has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for contributions to Motion Pictures, at 6150 Hollywood Boulevard, and for Television at 1500 Vine St.
Raft married Grayce Mulrooney, several years his senior, in 1923, long before his stardom. The pair separated soon thereafter, but Grayce, a devout Catholic, refused to grant Raft a divorce, and he remained married to and supported her until her death in 1970. A romantic figure in Hollywood, Raft had love affairs with Betty Grable and Mae West. He stated publicly that he wanted to marry Norma Shearer, with whom he had a long romance, but his wife's refusal to allow a divorce eventually caused Shearer to end the affair.
Raft died from leukemia at age 85 in Los Angeles, California, on November 24, 1980. He was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Beautiful and charismatic, young actress Dominique Dunne was a strong contender for future stardom, but fate cut her life short. Think of the roles that she might have played if she had not been murdered?
1959 was an excellent year for Cadillacs and bongos. On November 23, 1959, Dominique was born into a notable literary American family. Dominique grew up to become an actress, eventually playing "Dana Freeling" in the science fiction movie "Poltergeist."
An adult young woman, Dominique fell in love with John David Sweeney, a noted Los Angeles chef at trendy restaurant Ma Maison. They moved in together for a time. However, the relationship became abusive for Dominique and she broke it off.
"He's not in love with me, Dad.
He's obsessed with me. It's driving me crazy."
- Dominque to her father Dominick
On the night of October 30, 1982, Sweeney arrived at their formerly shared residence and pleaded with her to take him back. When she refused, he strangled her for 4 to 5 minutes, until she lapsed into a coma. He thought she was dead and left her lying in her driveway.
When the telephone in my New York apartment woke me at five o'clock in the morning on October 31, 1982, I sensed as I reached for the receiver that disaster loomed. Det. Harold Johnston of the Los Angeles Homicide Bureau told me that my twenty-two-year-old daughter, Dominique, was near death at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I asked him if he had notified my wife. He said he was calling from her home. Lenny got on the phone and said, "I need you."
"What happened?" I asked, afraid to hear.
"Sweeney," she answered.
"I'll be on the first plane."
- Dominick Dunne, father
Five days later on November 4, 1982, Dominque was removed from life support and died. She was buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
In 1983, Sweeney was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 6 1/2 years. After serving a little more than half of his sentence, he was released. His sentence remains controversial to this day.
Letter from Dominque to Sweeney
"Selfishness works both ways, you are just as selfish as I am. We have to be two individuals to work as a couple. I am not permitted to do enough things on my own. Why must you be a part of everything I do? Why do you want to come to my riding lessons and my acting classes? Why are you jealous of every scene partner I have? [...]
Why must I recount word for word everything I spoke to Dr. Black about? Why must I talk about every audition when you know it is bad luck for me? Why do we have discussions at 3:00 A.M. all the time, instead of during the day? [...]
Why must you know the name of every person I come into contact with? You go crazy over my rehearsals. You insist on going to work with me when I have told you it makes me nervous. Your paranoia is overboard..... You do not love me. You are obsessed with me. The person you think you love is not me at all. It is someone you have made up in your head. I’m the person who makes you angry, who you fight with sometimes. I think we only fight when images of me fade away and you are faced with the real me. That’s why arguments erupt out of nowhere. [...]
The whole thing has made me realize how scared I am of you, and I don’t mean just physically. I’m afraid of the next time you are going to have another mood swing... When we are good, we are great. But when we are bad, we are horrendous. The bad outweighs the good."
Again, think of the roles she might have played?
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Rodney Dangerfield (November 22, 1921 – October 5, 2004), born Jacob Cohen, was an American comedian and actor, best known for the catchphrases "I don't get no respect" or "I get no respect" and his monologues on that theme.
On April 8, 2003, Dangerfield underwent brain surgery to improve blood flow in preparation for heart valve-replacement surgery on August 24, 2004. Upon entering the hospital, he uttered another characteristic one-liner when asked how long he would be hospitalized: "If all goes well, about a week. If not, about an hour-and-a-half.”
In September 2004, it was revealed that Dangerfield had been in a coma for several weeks. Afterward, he began breathing on his own and showing signs of awareness when visited by friends. However, on October 5, 2004, he died at the UCLA Medical Center, from complications of the surgery he had undergone in August. He was a month and a half short of his 83rd birthday.
Dangerfield was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. In keeping with his "No Respect" persona, his headstone reads simply, "Rodney Dangerfield...There goes the neighborhood.”
Joan Child held an event in which the word "Respect" had been emblazoned in the sky, while each guest was given a live Monarch butterfly for a Native American butterfly-release ceremony led by Farrah Fawcett.
NOTE: Farrah Fawcett lies next to her friend Rodney at Westwood Cemetery.
UCLA's Division of Neurosurgery named a suite of operating rooms after him, and gave him the "Rodney Respect Award" which his wife presented to Jay Leno on October 20, 2005. It was presented on behalf of the David Geffen School of Medicine/Division of Neurosurgery at UCLA at their 2005 Visionary Ball.
Comedy Central aired a special titled Legends: Rodney Dangerfield on September 10, 2006, which commemorated his life and legacy. Featured comedians included Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Ray Romano, Roseanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Saget, Jerry Stiller, Kevin Kline and Jeff Foxworthy.
The Northern Irish rock band, The Dangerfields, are named in tribute to him.
Impressed by Dangerfield's role in Caddyshack, Europet's design manager Allen Shuemaker brought forth the idea of creating a line of animal chew toys modeled after the comedian. The line had a short run in 1989 and, in recent years, have become highly desirable by a small group of collectors.
The ending credits of The George Lopez Show feature an homage to Rodney Dangerfield.
In 2007, it was reported that a Rodney Dangerfield tattoo is among the most popular celebrity tattoos in the United States.
On Triple M's now defunct radio program 'Get This', co-anchor Ed Kavalee used to champion the digital addition of Rodney Dangerfield to movies in an attempt to make them more interesting. Callers would often make their own suggestions regarding this.
In the final taping of "the Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on May 29, 2009, Leno credited Dangerfield with the style of joke Leno had been using for the past few years. The format of the joke is that the comedian tells a sidekick how bad something is—in the case of "Tonight," guitar player Kevin Eubanks—and the sidekick sets up the joke by asking just how bad that something is.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
(November 19, 1889 – October 13, 1966) was an American actor, dancer and singer.
Webb was born Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck in a rural part of Marion County, Indiana, which would, in 1906, become Beech Grove, a self-governing city entirely surrounded by Indianapolis. As a result, virtually all printed sources give the larger city as his place of birth. Webb's parents were Jacob Grant Hollenbeck (1867–May 2, 1939), the son of a grocer from a multi-generational Indiana farming family, and Mabelle A. Parmelee (most sources give "Parmalee" or "Parmallee") (March 24, 1869–October 17, 1960), the daughter of a railroad conductor.
In 1892, Webb's formidable mother, Mabelle, moved to New York City with her beloved "little Webb", as she called him for the remainder of her life. She dismissed questions about her husband Jacob, a ticket clerk who, like her father, worked for the Indianapolis-St. Louis Railroad, by saying, "We never speak of him. He didn't care for the theatre."
Privately tutored, Webb started taking dance and acting lessons at the age of five. He made his stage debut at seven in the impressive setting of Carnegie Hall by performing with the New York Children's Theatre in Palmer Cox's The Brownies. This success was followed by a vaudeville tour playing The Master of Charlton Hall, succeeded by leading roles as Oliver Twist and Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In between performances, Mabelle saw to it that he studied painting with the renowned Robert Henri and voice with the equally famous Victor Maurel. By his seventeenth birthday, he was singing one of the secondary leads in the Boston-based Aborn Opera Company's production of the operetta Mignon.
By the age of nineteen, Webb had become a professional ballroom dancer and, taking the stage name "Clifton Webb", sang and danced in about two dozen operettas before debuting on Broadway as Bosco in The Purple Road, which opened at the Liberty Theater on April 7, 1913, and ran for 136 performances before closing in August. His mother (billed as Mabel Parmalee) was also listed in the program as a member of the opening night cast. His next musical was an Al Jolson vehicle, Sigmund Romberg's Dancing Around. It opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on October 10, 1914, and had 145 performances, closing in February, 1915. Later that year, Webb was in the all-star revue Ned Wayburn's Town Topics, which boasted 117 famous performers, including Will Rogers, listed in the Century Theatre opening night program of September 23, 1915. It closed 68 performances later on November 20, 1915. In 1916, he had another short run with Cole Porter's comic opera See America First, which opened at the Maxine Elliott Theatre on March 28, 1916, and closed after 15 performances on April 8, 1916. The World War I year of 1917 proved to be better, with a 233-performance run of Jerome Kern's Love o'Mike, which opened at the Shubert Theatre on January 15, 1917. After moving to Maxine Elliott's Theatre and Casino Theatre, it closed on September 29, 1917. Future Mama star Peggy Wood was also in the cast. Webb's final show of the 1910s, the musical Listen Lester, had the longest run, 272 performances. It opened at the Knickerbocker Theatre December 23, 1918, and closed in August 1919.
The 1920s saw Clifton Webb in no less than eight Broadway shows, numerous other stage appearances, including vaudeville, and a handful of silent films. The revue As You Were, with additional songs by Cole Porter, opened at the Central Theatre on January 29, 1920, and closed 143 performances later on May 29, 1920. Busy with films, tours and vaudeville, he did not return to Broadway until 1923, with the musical Jack and Jill (Globe Theatre) which had 92 performances between March 22, 1923, and June 9, 1923, and Lynn Starling's comic play Meet the Wife which opened on November 26, 1923, and ran into the summer of 1924, closing in August. The play's juvenile lead was 24-year old Humphrey Bogart.
In 1925, Webb appeared on stage in a dance act with vaudeville star and silent film actress Mary Hay. Later that year, when she and her husband, Tol'able David star Richard Barthelmess, decided to produce and star in their own film vehicle New Toys, they chose Webb to be second lead. The movie proved to be financially successful, but 19 more years would pass before Webb appeared in another feature film.
Webb's mainstay was the Broadway theatre. Between 1913 and 1947, the tall and slender performer who sang in a clear, gentle tenor, appeared in 23 Broadway shows, starting with major supporting roles and quickly progressing to leads. He introduced Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade" and George and Ira Gershwin's "I've Got a Crush on You" in Treasure Girl (1928); Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz's "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" in The Little Show (1929) and "Louisiana Hayride" in Flying Colors (1932); and Irving Berlin's "Not for All the Rice in China" in As Thousands Cheer (1933). One of his stage sketches, performed with co-star Fred Allen, was filmed by Vitaphone as a short subject titled The Still Alarm. (Allen's experiences while working with Clifton Webb appear in Allen's memoirs.)
Most of Webb's Broadway shows were musicals, but he also starred in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, and his longtime friend Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit and Present Laughter, in parts that Coward wrote with Webb in mind.
Webb was in his mid-fifties when actor/director Otto Preminger chose him over the objections of 20th Century Fox chief Darryl F. Zanuck to play the classy, but evil, radio columnist Waldo Lydecker, who is obsessed with Gene Tierney's character in the 1944 film noir Laura. His performance was showered with acclaim and made him an unlikely movie star. Despite Zanuck's original objection, Webb was immediately signed to a long-term contract with Fox. Two years later he was reunited with Tierney in another highly praised role as the elitist Elliott Templeton in The Razor's Edge (1946). He received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for both.
Webb received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1949 for Sitting Pretty, the first in a three-film series of comedic "Mr. Belvedere" features with Webb portraying the snide and omniscient central character.
In the 1950 film Cheaper by the Dozen, Webb and Myrna Loy played Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, real-life efficiency experts of the 1910s and 1920s, and the parents of 12 children. The film's success led to a sequel, Belles on Their Toes, without Webb.
Webb's subsequent movie roles include that of college professor Thornton Sayre, who in his younger days was known as silent film idol Bruce "Dreamboat" Blair. Now a distinguished academic who wants no part of his past fame, he sets out to stop the showing of his old films on television in 1952's Dreamboat (which concludes with Webb's alter ego Sayre watching himself star in Sitting Pretty. Also in 1952 he starred in the Technicolor movie biography of bandmaster John Philip Sousa, Stars and Stripes Forever. In 1953, he had his most dramatic role as the doomed husband of unfaithful Barbara Stanwyck in Titanic and in 1954 played the (fictional) novelist John Frederick Shadwell in Three Coins in the Fountain. In 1957's Boy on a Dolphin, second-billed to Alan Ladd, with third-billed Sophia Loren, he portrayed a wealthy sophisticate who enjoyed collecting illegally obtained Greek antiquities. In a nod to his own identity, the character's name was "Victor Parmalee."
Webb's elegant taste kept him on Hollywood's best-dressed lists for decades. Even though he exhibited comically foppish mannerisms in portraying Mr. Belvedere and other movie characters, his scrupulous private life kept him free of scandal. The character of Lynn Belvedere is said to have been very close to his real life—he had an almost Oedipal-like extreme devotion to his mother Mabelle, who was his companion and who lived with him until her death at age ninety-one.
When Webb's mourning for his mother continued for a year with no signs of letting up, Noël Coward remarked of Webb,
"It must be terrible to be orphaned at 71."
Webb spent the remaining five years of his life as an ill recluse at his home in Beverly Hills, California, succumbing to a heart attack at the age of 76. He is interred in crypt 2350, corridor G-6, Abbey of the Psalms in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Clifton Webb has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6840 Hollywood Boulevard.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
James Harrison Coburn, Jr. (August 31, 1928 – November 18, 2002) was an American film and television actor who appeared in nearly 70 films and made over 100 television appearances in his 45-year career. Perhaps best remembered for his natural charisma and charm, he played a wide range of roles and won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Affliction (1998).
Coburn's film debut came in 1959 as the sidekick to bad guy Pernell Roberts in the Randolph Scott western Ride Lonesome.
He appeared in dozens of television roles, including with Pernell Roberts again in some episodes of Bonanza. He and Ralph Taeger co-starred with Joi Lansing in Klondike on NBC in the 1960–1961 season. When Klondike, set in the Alaskan gold rush town of Skagway, was cancelled, Taeger and Coburn were regrouped as detectives in Mexico in NBC's equally short-lived Acapulco.
He later starred in a variety of films in the 1960s and the 1970s, first primarily with Steve McQueen, his good friend, Robert Vaughn and Charles Bronson in the cinema classics The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. A villainous Texan in the hugely successful Charade (1963), a glib Naval officer in The Americanization of Emily (1964) and a character role as a one-armed Indian tracker in Major Dundee (1965) gained him much notice.
In 1966, he became a bona-fide movie star with the release of Our Man Flint, a James Bond spoof released by 20th Century Fox. After a sequel, he decided to branch off into the independent film world. Due to his interests in martial arts (which he discovered by training with Bruce Lee), Buddhism, and gong-playing, the remainder of the decade (which included less-than-memorable films) proved relatively uneventful in his career.
In 1971, he starred in the western A Fistful of Dynamite, a.k.a. "Duck, You Sucker," directed by Sergio Leone, as an Irish explosives expert and revolutionary who has fled to Mexico during the time of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th Century.He teamed up with director Sam Peckinpah for the 1973 film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (they had worked together in 1965 on Major Dundee). An MGM producer tried to sabotage the production, causing the film to be drastically edited when it opened. Peckinpah and Coburn were greatly disappointed and turned next to Cross of Iron, a critically acclaimed war epic which performed poorly in the U.S. but was a huge hit in Europe. The two remained good friends until the legendary director's death in 1984.
Due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, he was featured in very few films during the 1980s. Though Coburn's hands were clearly visibly gnarled in film appearances in the last years of his career, the sturdy actor continued working nonetheless. He spent much of his time writing songs with British singer-songwriter Lynsey De Paul and doing television such as his work on Darkroom. He claimed to have healed himself with pills containing a sulfur-based compound and returned to the screen in the 1990s, appearing in films such as Young Guns II, Sister Act 2, Maverick, The Nutty Professor, Affliction (for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his vivid portrayal of the abusive father of Nick Nolte) and Payback, mostly in minor but memorable roles. Affliction also saw Coburn receive Best Supporting Actor nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Coburn died on November 18, 2002, aged 74, suffering a heart attack, while listening to music with his wife at their Beverly Hills home. He was survived by his wife, Paula Coburn (née Murad, as well as a son and a stepdaughter. At the time of his death, he was the voice of the "Like a Rock" Chevrolet television ad campaign. Actor James Garner succeeded Coburn for the remainder of the ad campaign. His ashes were interred in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, marked by a stone bench inscribed with his name.
His widow, Paula Josephine Murad, a native of Jamaica before moving to Ohio as a child, had hosted a TV show in Washington, D.C., before moving to California in the 1980s. Murad (who was 28 years Coburn's junior) married Coburn in 1993 and as an actress made a few film and television appearances under the name Paula O'Hara. The Coburns were also involved in charities and together founded the James and Paula Coburn Foundation (JPCF), which supports such beneficiaries as the Motion Picture & Television Fund, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, LACMA, the Clairbourn School, KCET public television, and Operation Smile. She continued this work, in addition to attempting to complete her husband's autobiography, until her death from cancer at the age of 48 on July 30, 2004. The JPCF continues its commitment to upholding the Coburns’ legacy, remaining active in the aforementioned charities with an additional designation for cancer research and treatment.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Tyrone Edmund Power, Jr. (May 5, 1914 – November 15, 1958), usually credited as Tyrone Power and known sometimes as "Ty Power", was an American film and stage actor who appeared in dozens of films from the 1930s to the 1950s, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads such as in The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes, The Black Rose, and Captain from Castile.
Though renowned for his dark, classically handsome looks that made him a matinee idol from his first film appearance, Power played a wide range of roles, from film noir to light romantic comedy. In the 1950s, he began placing limits on the number of movies he would make in order to have time for the stage. He received his biggest accolades as a stage actor in John Brown's Body and Mister Roberts. Power died from a heart attack at the age of 44.
Tyrone Power was one of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors when he married French actress, Annabella (born Suzanne Georgette Charpentier) on April 23, 1939. They met on the 20th Century-Fox lot, around the time they starred together in the movie, Suez. Annabella was a big star in France when 20th Century-Fox brought her over to America, and she was given the big buildup as the next great French star for Hollywood pictures. When Darryl F. Zanuck, 20th Century-Fox studio boss, realized the seriousness of the romance between her and his top male star, however, he strongly objected, fearing that Power would lose part of his female fan base if he were married. Zanuck offered to give Annabella plum roles in movies to be filmed abroad, in order to get her out of the country and away from one of Hollywood's biggest heartthrobs. When Power and Annabella went against Zanuck's wishes and married, Annabella's career at 20th Century Fox suffered greatly. After the marriage, Zanuck refused to assign her to movies for the studio, in punishment for their disobedience. After her marriage, she had to wait until after Tyrone Power had left the studio for military service to make another movie. This lack of movie work caused the very talented actress to seek stage work in order to help satisfy her desire to act. In an A&E biography, Annabella said that Zanuck "could not stop Tyrone's love for me, or my love for Tyrone." Their marriage, by all accounts at the time, was a happy one for the first couple of years, but it was on rocky ground by the time Tyrone left for the U.S. Marines in 1943.
His extramarital affair with Judy Garland is said to have contributed to the failure of their marriage. However, those close to the couple say that there were also other reasons for the marriage failure. J. Watson Webb, close friend and an editor at 20th Century Fox, maintained, in the A&E Biography, that one of the reasons the marriage fell apart was the inability of Annabella to give him a child. He said that there was no bitterness between the couple. In a March 1947 issue of Photoplay, Power was interviewed and said that he wanted a home and children. Annabella shed some light on the situation in an interview that she did for Movieland magazine in 1948. She said, "Our troubles began because the war started earlier for me, a French-born woman, than it did for Americans." She explained that the war clouds over Europe made her unhappy and irritable and, to get her mind off her troubles, she began accepting stage work, which often took her away from home, for weeks, or in one case, months at a time. "It is always difficult to put one's finger exactly on the place and time where a marriage starts to break up," she said. "But I think it began then. We were terribly sad about it, both of us, but we knew we were drifting apart. I didn’t think then - and I don’t think now - that it was his fault, or mine." The couple tried to make their marriage work when Power returned from military service, but they were unable to do so. Annabella claimed that he had changed too much during the war. They were legally separated in the fall of 1946 and divorced a couple of years later. Despite the divorce, they remained close until his death.
Following his separation from Annabella, Power entered into a love affair with Lana Turner which lasted for a couple of years. In the fall of 1948, however, he went on a good-will trip to Europe and South Africa. On that trip, he saw and fell in love with Linda Christian, in Rome. Upon his return to the U.S., he broke the news to Lana Turner that their romance was over. In her autobiography, Turner said that MGM, her home studio, and 20th Century Fox, Power's studio, conspired to break up their romance. Each studio feared that they would lose their star to the other studio, if they were to marry. Turner claimed that, when Power made his goodwill trip to Europe and South Africa, the story of her dining out with Frank Sinatra, a friend, was leaked to Power, who became very upset with her "dating" another man, in his absence. Turner also claimed that there was just too much coincidence in Linda Christian's being at the same hotel as Tyrone Power, and she implied that Christian had obtained Power's itinerary from 20th Century Fox.
Tyrone Power, by Yousuf KarshPower and Christian were married on January 27, 1949, in the Church of Santa Francesca, with an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 screaming fans outside the church. Christian miscarried three times before finally giving birth to a baby girl, Romina Francesca Power, on October 2, 1951. A second daughter, Taryn Stephanie Power, was born September 13, 1953. Around the time of Taryn's birth, the Power marriage was rocky. In her autobiography, Christian blamed her husband's extramarital affairs on the breakup of her marriage. However, she acknowledged that she had an affair with Edmund Purdom, which created great tension between Christian and her husband. They divorced in 1955.
After his divorce from Christian, Power had a long-lasting love affair with Mai Zetterling, whom he had met on the set of Abandon Ship. At this point in time, however, he vowed that he would never marry again, because he had been twice burned financially from his previous marriages. He also entered into an affair with a British actress, Thelma Ruby. In 1957, however, he met Deborah Ann Montgomery Minardos. They were married on May 7, 1958, and she became pregnant soon after. She accompanied her husband to Madrid in September 1958, for the filming of Solomon and Sheba. She was worried about his health and asked him to slow down, but he pushed ahead with the movie. On November 15, 1958, while filming a strenuous dueling scene for the movie, he had a heart attack and died. His wife gave birth to his son, Tyrone Power IV, on January 22, 1959.
Tyrone Power was buried at Hollywood Cemetery, now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California, at noon, on November 21, 1958, in a military service. The memorial service was held at the Chapel of the Psalms, Hollywood Cemetery, with Chaplain Thomas M. Gibson, U.S.N.R. officiating. The active pallbearers were officers of the United States Marine Corps. Honorary pallbearers were Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey, Tommy Noonan, Theodore Richmond, Murray Steckler, Cesar Romero, Watson Webb, Milton Bren, James Denton, George Sidney, George Cohen, Lew Schreiber, Lew Wasserman, and Harry Brand. Cesar Romero gave the eulogy, using in it a tribute written by Tyrone Power's good friend and frequent co-star, George Sanders. Sanders had written the tribute on the set of Solomon and Sheba, within the first few hours after Power's death. It read as follows:
"I shall always remember Tyrone as a bountiful man, a man who gave freely of himself. It mattered not to whom he gave. His concern was in the giving. I shall always remember his wonderful smile, a smile that would light up the darkest hour of the day, like a sunburst. I shall always remember Tyrone Power as a man who gave more of himself than it was wise for him to give, until in the end, he gave his life."
Flying over the service was Henry King, who directed him in eleven movies. Almost 20 years before, Tyrone had flown with King, in King's plane, to the set of Jesse James in Missouri. It was then that Tyrone Power got his first experience with flying, which would become such a big part of his life, both in the U.S. Marines and in his private life. In the foreword to Dennis Belafonte's The Films of Tyrone Power, King said, "Knowing his love for flying and feeling that I had started it, I flew over his funeral procession and memorial park during his burial, and felt that he was with me." Tyrone Power was laid to rest, by a small lake, in one of the most beautiful parts of the cemetery. His grave is marked by a unique tombstone, in the form of a marble bench. On the tombstone are the masks of comedy and tragedy, with the transcription, "Good night, sweet prince."
Tyrone Power's will, filed on December 8, 1958, contained an unusual provision. It stated his wish that, upon his death, his eyes would be donated to the Estelle Doheny Eye Foundation, for such purposes as the trustees of the foundation should deem advisable, including transplantation of the cornea to the eyes of a living person.
On the 50th anniversary of his death, Power was honored by American Cinematheque with a weekend of films and remembrances by co-stars and family, and a memorabilia display. The event was held at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles from November 14-16, 2008.