Dec 31, 2012

There Are Many Greats Still With Us

Once again, I’ve decided to compile a complement to my yearly R.I.P. post. There are still several performers alive today who made their mark in classic movies. From top box office stars to scene-stealing supporting players. They all made a difference, and many of them are fantastic ambassadors for the classics today.

This is the last time I'll be posting this tribute. I always knew I couldn't watch the list shrink for many years. I had to stop sometime, and it might as well be this year, while there are still many artists whose presence we can appreciate. Please let me know in the comments if you've got a name to add.

Jerry Mathers, 64

Sue Lyon, 66

Tuesday Weld, 69

Catherine Deneuve, 69 (Thanks Tom!)

Carol Lynley, 70 (Thanks Leigh!)

Sarah Miles, 70 (Thanks @EddieLove44!)

Yvette Mimieux, 70

Rita Tushingham, 70

Julie Christie, 71

Ann-Margret, 71

Gigi Perreau, 71

Peter Fonda, 72

Karolyn Grimes, 72

Raquel Welch, 72 (Thanks Leigh!)

Samantha Eggar, 73

Katharine Ross, 73

Richard Beymer, 74

Claudia Cardinale, 74

Dolores Hart, 74

Millie Perkins, 74

Paula Prentiss, 74

Jane Fonda, 75

Margaret O'Brien, 75

Albert Finney, 76 (Thanks @EddieLove44!)

Susan Kohner, 76

Robert Redford, 76

Dean Stockwell, 76

Diahann Carroll, 77

Julie Andrews, 77

Alain Delon, 77

Russ Tamblyn, 77

Brigitte Bardot, 78

George Chakiris, 78

Sophia Loren, 78

Shirley MacLaine, 78

Joan Collins, 79

Kim Novak, 79

Taina Elg, 80 (Thanks Tom!)

Mickey Kuhn, 80 (Thanks Leigh!)

Peter O'Toole, 80 (Thanks @EddieLove44!)

Debbie Reynolds, 80

Omar Sharif, 80 (Thanks Tom!)

Robert Vaughn, 80 (Thanks Tom!)

Carroll Baker, 81 (Thanks Tom!)

Claire Bloom, 81

Leslie Caron, 81

Barbara Eden, 81

Anita Ekberg, 81

John Gavin, 81

Mitzi Gaynor, 81

Darryl Hickman, 81 (Thanks Leigh!)

Tab Hunter, 81

John Kerr, 81

Rita Moreno, 81

Sean Connery, 82

Clint Eastwood, 82

Tippi Hedren, 82

Sally Ann Howes, 82 (Thanks Leigh!)

Barbara Lawrence, 82

Vera Miles, 82

Marni Nixon, 82

Maximilian Schell, 82 (Thanks @EddieLove44!)

Rod Taylor, 82

Robert Wagner, 82

Joanne Woodward, 82

Anne Meara, 83

Terry Moore, 83

Don Murray, 83

Joan Plowright, 83

Christopher Plummer, 83 (Thanks @EddieLove44!)

Jane Powell, 83

Ann Blyth, 84

Peggy Dow, 84

Sally Forrest, 84

James Garner, 84

Earl Holliman, 84 (Thanks Leigh!)

Kathleen Hughes, 84

Martin Landau, 84

Ennio Morricone, 84 (Thanks Lê!)

Nancy Olson, 84

Shirley Temple, 84

Stuart Whitman, 84 (Thanks Tom!)

Harry Belafonte, 85

Rita Gam, 85

Cora Sue Collins, 85

Rosemary Harris, 85

Gina Lollabrigida, 85

Roger Moore, 85

Estelle Parsons, 85

Sidney Poitier, 85

Barbara Rush, 85

Julie Adams, 86

Mel Brooks, 86

Mona Freeman, 86

Anne Jackson, 86

Gloria Jean, 86

Cloris Leachman, 86

Jerry Lewis, 86

Joan Lorring, 86

Marcy McGuire, 86

Irene Papas, 86

Jane Withers, 86

Patrice Wymore, 86

Lola Albright, 87

Honor Blackman, 87

Arlene Dahl, 87

Gloria DeHaven, 87

Lee Grant, 87

Julie Harris, 87

George Kennedy, 87 (Thanks Tom!)

Angela Lansbury, 87

Joan Leslie, 87

June Lockhart, 87

Dorothy Malone, 87

Colette Marchand, 87

Dina Merrill, 87

Dickie Moore, 87

Dick Van Dyke, 87

Cara Williams, 87

Jonathan Winters, 87 (Thanks Leigh!)

Lauren Bacall, 88

Theodore Bikel, 88

Stanley Donen, 88

Martha Hyer, 88

Leslie Phillips, 88 (thanks @RobertWRossEsq)

Eva Marie Saint, 88

Richard Attenborough, 89

Valentina Cortese, 89

Betsy Drake, 89

Rhonda Fleming, 89

Glynis Johns, 89

Peggy Stewart, 89

Jean Stapleton, 89

Sid Caesar, 90 (Thanks Leigh!)

Doris Day, 90

Ruby Dee, 90

Coleen Gray, 90

Barbara Hale, 90

Christopher Lee, 90 (thanks Kristen!)

Janis Paige, 90

Juanita Moore, 90

Eleanor Parker, 90

Carl Reiner, 90

Lizabeth Scott, 90

Carol Channing, 91

Nancy Davis (Reagan), 91

Deanna Durbin, 91

Louis Jourdan, 91

Esther Williams, 91

Mary Anderson, 92

Nanette Fabray, 92

Jayne Meadows, 92

Michele Morgan, 92

Noel Neill, 92

Maureen O'Hara, 92

Mickey Rooney, 92

Ruth Terry, 92

Marge Champion, 93

Patty Andrews, 94

Diana Serra Cary (AKA Baby Peggy), 94

Audrey Totter, 94

Efrem Zimbalist Jr., 94

Danielle Darrieux, 95

Joan Fontaine, 95

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 95

Lorna Gray, 95

Marsha Hunt, 95

Olivia de Havilland, 96

Kirk Douglas, 96

Patricia Morison, 97

Alicia Rhett, 97

Eli Wallach, 97

Norman Lloyd, 98

Mary Carlisle, 100

Luise Rainer, 102

R.I.P. 2012

As I reflect on the passing of these entertainers who have made their mark on classic movies, I'm grateful for the contributions they have made to my favorite period in film. Many of the people on this list were widely recognized and revered until the end of their lives. All were primarily actors unless otherwise noted.

Please let me know in the comments if I have missed anyone who you feel belongs on the list!

Peggy Ahern (Our Gang)

Turhan Bey (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Arabian Nights)

Ernest Borgnine (Marty, The Wild Bunch)

Ray Bradbury (Novelist, Fahrenheit 451)

Dave Brubeck (Musician, All Night Long)

Phyllis Diller (Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, Eight on the Lam)

Andy Griffith (A Face in the Crowd, The Andy Griffith Show)

Celeste Holm (All About Eve, Road House)

Mila Parély (La belle et la bête, Le plaisir)

Ben Gazzara (Anatomy of a Murder, The Strange One)

Larry Hagman (Fail-Safe, Dallas, I Dream of Jeannie)

Charles Higham (Hollywood Biographer)

Davy Jones (Musician, Head)

Elyse Knox (The Mummy's Tomb, Joe Palooka series)

Jeni Le Gon (Dancer, Hi-De-Ho, I Walked With A Zombie)

Herbert Lom (A Shot in the Dark, The Phantom of the Opera)

Susan Luckey (Carousel, The Music Man)

Tony Martin (Ziegfeld Girl, 'Till the Clouds Roll By)

Patricia Medina (Aladdin and His Lamp, Mr. Arkadin, married to Joseph Cotten, above)

Hideaki Nitani (Tokyo Drifter)

Frank Pierson (screenwriter, Cat Ballou, Cool Hand Luke)

Joyce Redman (Tom Jones, Othello)

Ann Rutherford (Gone With the Wind, The Andy Hardy series )

Ravi Shankar (Soundtrack, The Apu Trilogy)

Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet, Barefoot Contessa)

Martha Stewart (In a Lonely Place)

Joan Taylor (Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers, The Rifleman)

Phyllis Thaxter (Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Tenth Avenue Angel)

Keiko Tsushima (Seven Samurai)

William Windom (To Kill a Mockingbird, One Man's Way)

Jack Klugman (12 Angry Men, The Odd Couple, Quincy)

Harry Carey Jr. (Red River, Rio Grande)

All photos from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons

Dec 30, 2012

Quote of the Week

"Drinking problem? Why, no, not at all. Drinking is the easiest thing in the world. . . . Do you have a drinking problem, or can I fix you another drink?"

-Peter O'Toole

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Dec 25, 2012

Deanna Durbin Sings "Silent Night"

(This is the fourth year I've posted this clip on Christmas. It is becoming one of my favorite traditions at Classic Movies. I wonder if Ms. Durbin is singing this song today?)

I get chills every time I hear Deanna Durbin's low-key, but lush performance of Silent Night. It's from the murder mystery-musical-comedy-noir (and how many of those exist?) Lady on a Train (1945). While she sings to her father to ease the pain of being apart on Christmas Eve, even the thug listening at the door is moved to tears (though he still goes through with the secret theft his shifty boss has ordered). Given the underlying threat of danger, it's an oddly peaceful, heartwarming scene.

Happy Holidays!

Dec 23, 2012

Quote of the Week

I said to my good friend, Gary Cooper, "Coop, do you know anything about talking?" and he said, "Yup." 

-Buddy Rogers, remembering the birth of the talkies

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Dec 20, 2012

Book Review: A Son of Hollywood Writes About His Childhood

Moving Pictures: Memories of A Hollywood Prince 
Budd Schulberg
eBook edition, 2012
Open Road Integrated Media

Several years ago, I ran across a copy of Moving Pictures in a London book shop. Though I had once enjoyed reading a library copy and wanted one of my own, I thought about my suitcase full of books and decided it was one book too many to lug back to the states.

Oh how I regretted that decision! This brilliant Hollywood memoir is a classic of the genre. For that reason, I was delighted to review a new eBook edition, which is one of eight Schulberg titles re-released by Open Road Integrated Media this year. It is the story of Budd Schulberg, the oldest son of B.P. Schulberg, an unsung pioneer of the studio system. Young Schulberg's papa discovered Clara Bow, developed the idea for United Artists (but was edged out of his chance to be a part of the studio) and served as head of production at Paramount.

Moving Pictures is basically several books behind one cover. It's a memoir of a wealthy, but awkward son of Hollywood, a budding writer and of a growing movie industry. Schulberg manages to weave all of these elements together so that tales of his severe stuttering problem fit in neatly with stories about his long chat sessions with Bow in the backseat of her fancy car. In another incident where ordinary events become extraordinary, B.P. has a long time affair with actress Sylvia Sydney, which horrifies his highly moral son. Budd's struggles to reunite his parents will resonate with anyone who has experienced divorcing parents, but watching his father's mistress onscreen and angrily anticipating the scene where she dies is surely a rare experience.

Glamour and wealth surrounded this anxious, but ambitious young man every day, and Schulberg dutifully reports on those things, but he was most fascinated by things in his childhood world, like boxing and his colony of homing pigeons. He knows the Hollywood stories appeal to the masses, but that the glitter often hides despair, treachery and disappointment. Though I was sometimes impatient to get back to the movie stories, I did enjoy reading about his many passions, because he communicated so poignantly how much they meant to him.

The book takes a while to get moving. I actually had the same experience this time as I did when I read it years ago: I couldn't get engaged with the New York phase of Schulberg's story or his early Hollywood days, but once his dad started staying out late to party, it got interesting. I still haven't been able to decide if it's the content or the storytelling that improves at that point, but when young Budd watches his dad go into a crazy party after a boxing match, while the chauffeur waits to take him home to his mother, things go from 'eh' to interesting. My only theory is that it is because at that point, young Schulberg is starting to see the grown up world around him with greater clarity and the details come out in his writing.
Schulberg in 1954

Moving Pictures ends with Budd heading off to college, ready to grow up and make his own way in the world. Schulberg more than fulfilled his writing ambitions, making his name as a screenwriter, novelist and journalist. He also found success in Hollywood, like his father, but in his own way. Budd drew upon his Hollywood experiences to write What Makes Sammy Run? which Bette Davis once claimed to be the only book to accurately capture the brutal studio culture. He wrote The Harder They Fall and the Academy Award-winning On the Waterfront as well. Schulberg also became infamous for naming names to the House Un-American Activities Campaign, an act which stuck with him to his obituary.

Though this is a memoir of beginnings, from Schulberg's childhood to the birth of the studios, in the end there's enough detail and excitement in its pages for a lifetime.

Thank you to Open Road Integrated Media for providing a review copy of the book.

Dec 16, 2012

Quote of the Week

I think Oscar Wilde wrote a poem about a robin who loved a white rose. He loved it so much that he pierced his breast and let his heart's blood turn the white rose red. Maybe this sounds very sentimental, but for anybody who has loved a career as much as I've loved mine, there can be not short cuts.

-Mary Pickford

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Dec 9, 2012

Quote of the Week

The greatest difficulty in realizing my own ideas forced me to sometimes play the leading role in my films. . . .I was a star without knowing I was one, since the term did not yet exist.

-Georges Méliès

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Dec 2, 2012

Quote of the Week

About Citizen Kane (1941):

It’s not like any movie made at that time. It’s very much ahead of its time. In fact, you could say it was, you know, 40 years ahead of its time.

-Peter Bogdanovich

Orson was doing a biographical film and didn’t realize it.

-Robert Wise

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Nov 25, 2012

Quote of the Week

I was a little nervous going to see him. . .because he was known as a womanizer. There's a story about him chasing Judy Holliday around his desk until she finally pulled out a falsie and said, "here, feel this!"

-Coleen Gray, About Darryl Zanuck

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Nov 18, 2012

Nov 11, 2012

Quote of the Week

I've worked with many fine actresses.  But in my opinion, the best actress I ever worked with was Grace Kelly. . . . Her mind was razor-keen, but she was relaxed while she was doing it. 

-Cary Grant

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Nov 4, 2012

Quote of the Week

When a man finds himself sliding downhill, he should do everything to reach bottom in a hurry and pass out of the picture.

-Douglas Fairbanks

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Oct 28, 2012

Quote of the Week

I was a stage child out in San Diego, and one day I went to the movies. Afterward, I climbed up in the projection room, got the address of D. W. Griffith's company in New York from a can of film and sent him a scenario. It was accepted at once. I got $25 and I said, "This is where I quit acting."

-Anita Loos

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Oct 21, 2012

Quote of the Week

A director must realize what is inside of a person, bring it out, and eliminate the flaws.

-Dorothy Arzner

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Oct 14, 2012

Quote of the Week

A lot of the time if you've got a really good cameraman you don't need a director.

-Robert Mitchum

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Oct 7, 2012

Quote of the Week

I have wasted the greater part of my life looking for money and trying to get along. Trying to make my work from this terribly expensive paint box, which is a movie. . .it’s about 2% moviemaking and 98% hustling. That’s no way to spend a life.

-Orson Welles

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Oct 3, 2012

Retro Review-- Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry

I'm fortunate to have some very important pieces of jewelry. I don't believe I own any of the pieces. I believe that I am their custodian, here to enjoy them, to give them the best treatment in the world, to watch after their safety, and to love them. --Elizabeth Taylor 

Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry
Elizabeth Taylor
Simon & Schuster 2002

The 33.19-carat Krupp diamond. The 69.42-carat pear-shaped Taylor-Burton diamond. Burmese rubies and diamonds from Cartier. An emerald and diamond suite from Bulgari. This is just a tiny portion of Elizabeth Taylor's epic collection of jewelry, made up of hundreds of lavish pieces.

I've never thought much about fine jewelry before reading Taylor's biography of her massive collection. I love my wedding ring, because it is my grandmother's diamond and my husband and I designed it together. Other than that, I've never had or desired any other jewels. That's why it surprised me how mesmerized I was by the astounding pieces in Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry.

I ordered the book from the library after reading Furious Love, the biography of Taylor's relationship with Richard Burton, last year. The passages in that book about Taylor's jewelry collection fascinated me. She and Burton would just casually wander into a jewelry store and drop thousands of dollars on a whim. Normally, this sort of behavior would disgust me, but I got wrapped up in their obsession with the jewels. I could see how the beauty and history of the gems impressed them as much as the game of obtaining them.

Taylor and Burton, her partner in jewelry collecting
It especially interested me that Taylor didn't consider herself the owner of her jewels, but rather a temporary custodian. She took that responsibility with varying levels of gravity, wearing her most expensive pieces with anything, from a lavish evening gown to a bathing suit. And yet despite my fascination with the collection, I was still a bit baffled by the money even this fabulously wealth couple would spend these adornments. Why would you buy something that you could only wear in public if you brought along a couple of security guards with machine guns? I don't think I'll ever fully understand that.

The book contains 125 photographs of her jewelry, several accompanying shots of Taylor wearing the pieces and some of her memories of specific pieces in the collection. The photo captions shared more history of the pieces, which I found a great complement to Taylor's memories. I loved reading her thoughts about the jewelry, because while she adored the jewels themselves, she also looked upon them as mementos of the people she loved, famous men like Mike Todd, Richard Burton, Michael Jackson and Malcolm Forbes.

What surprised me the most was how mesmerized I was by the photos of the jewelry. I had no idea how elaborate the designs could be. Up close, I could admire the artistry of each piece. They didn't seem so frivolous to me when I saw the craftsmanship that went into every detail. It is fascinating to see what jewelers are capable of creating. I accepted that skill as an art for the first time.

Taylor with Eddie Fisher, wearing earrings from Mike Todd
The variety of Taylor's pieces is also impressive. There's the many kinds of stones: emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds are just the beginning. And the different kinds of designs, from elaborate formations sometimes designed in part by Taylor, to flowers and animals. I especially liked the monkey suite that Jackson bought his long-time friend.

Taylor also had a trio of rings with tiny diamonds, one as small as 1/8 of a carat, which she called the Ping-Pong Diamond. She loved wearing that with the Taylor-Burton diamond, her smallest and largest pieces, and joking about them when she went to parties.

That sense of humor about the jewels, and the fact that Taylor would let anyone admire, touch and even wear her jewelry endeared her to me. She really did just want to share all that beauty with the world. After seeing the gorgeous photos of those pieces and reading a bit about their history, I can understand why she would want people to see them and delight in their beauty with her.

Photos from Classic Film Scans, Cover image from Good Reads

Sep 30, 2012

Quote of the Week

Warners never made you feel you were just a member of the cast. They might star you in one movie . . . and give you a bit part in the next. I can remember thinking, "Oh, God, I hope it’s a small part this time so I can get some rest."

-Glenda Farrell

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Sep 28, 2012

Haiku: Sunset Blvd (1950)

Time left her behind 
She never saw it passing 
She lived in her dreams 

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Sep 26, 2012

Haiku: Auntie Mame (1958)

Don't be a sucker 
Life is too short to bother 
With top drawer nonsense

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Sep 24, 2012

Haiku: I Married A Witch (1942)

Tiny blonde temptress 
Falls into her bag of tricks 
She's a bewitched witch 

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Sep 23, 2012

Quote of the Week

Well, I’ve been through everything. I always said I was like those round-bottomed circus dolls—you know, those dolls you could push down and they’d come back up? I’ve always been like that. I’ve always said, “No matter what happens, if I get pushed down, I’m going to come right back up.”

-Doris Day

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Sep 21, 2012

Haiku: The Women (1939)

Lady dogs fighting 
Jungle red talons flashing 
Oh L'amour L'amour 

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Sep 19, 2012

Haiku: Nothing Sacred (1936)

Ms. Flagg is quite well 
But she is off her rocker 
The town is flooded 

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Sep 17, 2012

Haiku: Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Mysteries rotting 
Unleashed by soaring beauty 
Hapless ugly love

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