Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ricardo Montalban

Ricardo Montalban's career spanned seven decades as a movie actor, television actor and Broadway performer.

Ricardo Montalban was born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino on November 25, 1920 to Ricarda Merino and Jenaro Montalbán in Mexico City, Mexico.

In 1941, Ricardo Montalban appeared in his first motion pictures, three minute musicals produced for the Soundies film jukeboxes.

Ricardo Montalban's first starring role was in He's a Latin from Staten Island (1941).

In 1967, he played Khan Noonien Singh in the Star Trek episode "Space Seed." In 1982, he would recreate the role for the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

His most notable films roles include Five Were Chosen (1942), The Kissing Bandit (1948), Across the Wide Missouri (1951), Sayonara (1957), The Money Trap (1965), Madame X (1966), The Singing Nun (1966) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971). During the 2000s, he appeared as Grandfather Valentine in several of the Spy Kids films.

From 1977 to 1984 he starred as Mr. Roarke in the television series Fantasy Island. He also appeared in such classic television shows as Letter to Loretta, Bonanza, The Untouchables, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dr. Kildrare, I Spy, Ironside, Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five O, The Virginian, Columbo, Dynasty, The Colbys, Murder She Wrote and Chicago Hope.

In 1978, he won an Emmy award for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Series for How The West Was Won.

In 1955, he made his Broadway debut as Chico in the musical Seventh Heaven. He would later star in Don Juan in Hell and Jamaica. He would receive a Tony nomination for Best Actor for Jamaica.

In 1993, he received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Screen Actor's Guild.

He also has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television.

For years, was a commercial spokesman for Chrysler Corp. automobiles.

In 1993, he had a 9 1/2 hour surgical operation on his spine to repair an old back injury he received while filming Across the Wide Missouri. As a result, he was confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.

Ricardo Montalban married Georgiana Young (half sister of Loretta Young) on October 26, 1944. They were married 63 years until her death on November 13, 2007.

On January 14, 2009, at the age of 88, Ricardo Montalban died of congestive heart failure. His final acting credit was an episode of American Dad which aired after his death.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Burgess Meredith

Burgess Meredith was one of our greatest character actors. He could do dramatic or comedy roles. He convincingly played the everyday heror or a sinister villian.

His career spanned sixty years on Broadway, television and the silver screen. He will also be remembered as the original Penquin from Batman and Mickey, Rocky's trainer in the Rocky films.

Burgess Meredith was born Oliver Burgess Meredith on November 16, 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio. The son of Ida Beth Burgess and William George Meredith, M.D.

During World War II, Burgess Meredith served in the United States Army Air Forces, reaching the rank of captain.

In 1932, Burgess Meredith made his film debut in an uncredited role in the movie Freaks. This film was followed by roles in such films as Idiot's Delight (1939), Of Mice and Men (1939), Second Chorus (1940) and The Real Gunner (1943).

In 1945, Burgess Meredith got his big break when he was cast as Ernie Pyle/ Narrator in The Story of G.I. Joe.

However, despite his success in The Story of G.I. Joe, he was cast in more B movies like The Diary of the Chambermaid (1946), Mine Own Executioner (1947), and On Our Merry Way (1948).

With the invention of television, Burgess Meredith became a frequent guest star on many classic shows such as The Twilight Zone, Your Show of Shows, General Electric Theater, Ben Casey, 77 Sunset Strip, Wagon Train, Rawhide, and Bonanza.

In 1966, Burgess Meredith became a hollywood icon when he played the Penquin in the film Batman. He would also play the Penquin in the television series the Batman.

Otto Preminger, recognized Burgess Meredith's true talent and was responsible for recharging his film career with roles in Advise and Consent (1962), IN Harm's Way (1965), Hurry Sundown (1967), Skidoo (1968) and Such Good Friends (1971).

Besides the Penquin, Burgess Meredith other most famous role was as Mickey in Rocky (1976), Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982) and Rocky V (1990).

In Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995), he played Grandpa Gustafson.

In 1930, he made his Broadway debut in Romeo and Juliet. Between 1930 and 1956, he was a regular on the Broadway stage starring in such productions as Alice in Wonderland, Hipper's Holiday, The Barretts of Whimpole Street, Happy as Larry, Season in the Sun, The Teahouse of the August Moon and Major Barbara.

During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, he turned to directing. He directed such Broadway productions as God and Kate Murphy, A Thurber Carnival, Midgie Purvis, Blues for Mister Charlie, and Ulysses in Uniontown.

In 1960, he won a Special Tony Award for A Thurber Carnival. He was also nominated for a Tony as Best Director for Ulysses in Nightown in 1974.

Burgess Meredith was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor for The Day of the Locust (1975) and Rocky (1976).

He won an Emmy award for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Special for Tail Gunner Joe (1977).

Burgess Meredith also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Burgess Meredith passed away September 9, 1997 at the age of 89 due to complications from melanoma and Alzheimer's disease.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Claude Rains

Claude Rains was born William Claude Rains on November 10, 1889 in London, England. He was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains.

Claude Rains made his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury."

Claude Rains decided to come to America in 1913 and the New York theater, but with the outbreak of World War I the next year, he returned to serve with a Scottish regiment in Europe. Claude Rains served in the World War I in the London Scottish Regiment with fellow actors Basil Rathbone, Ronald Colman and Herbert Marshall. Rains rose to the ranks of Captain. During the War he was almost blinded in one eye due to injury received in a gas attack.

After the War, Claude Rains studied at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree recognized Rains' acting talent and paid for the elocution books and lessons he needed due to his poor diction. Later, Claude became a teacher at the school and taught John Gielgud and Laurenece Olivier among others.

During the early 1920s, Claude Rains was a star on the London Stage.

In 1927, Claude Rains returned to American and made his broadway debut in The Constant Nympth. He would appear in such Broadway productions as The Apple Cart, The Game of Love and Death, The Good Earth, Darkness at Noon, and The Confidential Clerk. He would win the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for Darkness at Noon (1951).

Claude Rains made his movie debut in Build Thy House (1920) playing the role of Clarkis. It would be 13 years before Claude would appear in another movie.

In 1933, Claude Rains was cast as The Invisible Man in the movie of the same name.

Claude Rains movie credits include Anthony Adverse (1936), The Prince and The Pauper (1937), They Won't Forget (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Four Daughters (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Sea Hawk (1940), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Now Voyager (1942), Casablanca (1942), Passage to Marseille (1944), Mr. Skeffington (1944), Notorious (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).

Claude Rains also appeared on television shows such as Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Dr. Kildare, Rawhide, Wagon Train, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Claude Rains was nominated four times for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Notorious (1946).

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Claude Rains died on May 30, 1967 of an intestinal hemorrhage. He designed his own tombstone to read "All things once/Are things forever,/Soul, once living,/lives forever.". When Claude died he left $25,000 to the Actors Fund of America.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen was born Terence Steven McQueen on March 24, 1930 in Beech Grove, Indiana.

His father, William, a stunt pilot for a barnstorming flying circus, abandoned Steve and his mother when Steve was six months old. His mother, Julia, was an alcoholic. Unable to cope with bringing up a small child, she left him with her parents (Victor and Lillian) in Slater, Missouri, in 1933. After the Great Depression began, Steve and his grandparents moved to his Great Uncle Claude's farm.

Steve spent his childhood and teenager years being shuffled back and forth between his Great Uncle's farm and his mothers.

Steve did not adjust well to this constant change and as a teenager he was running with a street gang and committing acts of petty crime. At age 14, Steve ran away and joined a circus for a period of time. He returned to his mother and latest step father in Los Angeles and resumed his life as a gang member and petty criminal.

Steve was eventually remanded to the California Junior Boys Republic in Chino Hills, California. Here, Steve McQueen slowly began to change and mature.

When Steve McQueen became a successful actor, he had an unusual reputation for demanding free items in bulk from studios when agreeing to do a film, such as electric razors, jeans and several other products. It was later found out that McQueen requested these things because he was donating them to the California Junior Boys Republic in Chino Hills.

After Steve McQueen left Chino, he met two sailors from the Merchant Marine and volunteered to serve on a ship bound for the Dominican Republic. Once there, he abandoned his new post, eventually making his way to Texas, and drifted from job to job. He worked as a towel boy in a brothel, on an oil rigger, as a trinket salesman in a carnival and as a lumberjack.

In 1947, Steve McQueen joined the United States Marine Corps and was quickly promoted to Private First Class and assigned to an armored unit. Initially, he reverted to his prior rebelliousness, and as a result was demoted to Private on seven different occasions. He even went AWOL once and spent 41 days in the brig when captured by the shore patrol.

After his stint in the brig, Steve McQueen showed improved and embraced the Marines' discipline. He once saved the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic exercise, pulling them from a tank before it broke through ice into the sea. Steve McQueen served until 1950 when he was honorably discharged.

In 1952, with financial assistance provided by the G.I. Bill, Steve McQueen began studying acting at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. In 1955, he auditioned along with 2000 performers for Lee Strasberg's exclusive Actors' Studio. Only two were accepted: Martin Landau and Steve McQueen.

In 1955, he appeared in his one and only Broadway production in the play A Hatful of Rain, starring Ben Gazzara.

Steve McQueen made his film debut as an uncredited extra in Girl on the Run (1953). His next film would be playing Fidel in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1955)starring Paul Newman.

After appearing in several television shows like Studio One, West Point, Tales of Wells Fargo and Climax, he was cast as Martin Cabell in Never Love a Stranger (1958).

In 1958, he landed his first starring role in the cult classic The Blob.

In 1958, Steve McQueen got his big break when he was cast as Josh Randall in the television series Wanted, Dead or Alive. The show would last for three seasons and make Steve McQueen a household name. His character became famous for the holster that held a sawed-off Winchester rifle nicknamed the "Mare's Leg" instead of the standard six-gun carried by the typical Western character.

In 1959, he was cast as Bill Ringa in Never So Few directed by John Sturges. John Sturges would remember Steve McQueen when casting The Magnificent Seven (1960. Steve McQueen would be cast as Vin, one of The Magnificent Seven. Steve McQueen was now a movie star.

From 1961 to 1963, Steve McQueen appeared in The Honeymoon Machine (1961), Hell is for Heroes (1962) and The War Lover (1962).

In 1963, Steve McQueen once again teamed with director John Struges in The Great Escape.

During the 1960s, Steve McQueen starred in such movies as Love with a Proper Stranger (1965), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Nevada Smith (1966), The Sand Pebbles (1966), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Bullitt (1968), and The Reviers (1969).

During the 1970s, Steve McQueen's films included Le Mans (1971), Junior Bonner (1972), The Getaway (1972), Papillon (1973), The Towering Inferno (1976), and An Enemy of the People (1978).

Steve McQueen's final film was The Hunter (1980).

Steve McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for The Sand Pebbles (1966).

Steve McQueen received four Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor for Love with the Proper Stranger(1964), The Sand Pebbles (1967), The Reivers (1970) and Papillon (1974).

Steve McQueen has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Steve McQueen was an avid racer of both motorcycles and cars. While he studied acting, he supported himself partly by competing in weekend motorcycle races and bought his first motorcycle with his winnings.

Steve McQueen performed many of his own stunts, most notably the high speed chase scene through the streets of San Fransico in Bullitt. With the exception of the Chestnut Street flying jumps (with Bud Ekins doubling McQueen) and the gas-station crash gag (Carey Loftin doubling him for that).

In The Great Escape, the actual jump over the fence in was performed by Bud Ekins for insurance purposes. However, Steve McQueen did have a considerable amount of screen time riding his 650cc Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle in the chase scences. At one point, due to clever editing, McQueen is seen in a German uniform chasing himself on another bike.

Additionally, McQueen designed and patented a bucket seat and transbrake for race cars.

Steve McQueen collected classic motorcycles. By the time of his death, his collection included over 100 and was valued in the millions of dollars.

He owned several exotic sports cars, including: Porsche 917, Porsche 908 and Ferrari 512 race cars from the Le Mans film; 1963 Ferrari 250 Lusso Berlinetta; Jaguar D-Type XKSS (Right-Hand Drive); and Porsche 356 Speedster. To his dismay, Steve McQueen was never able to own the legendary Ford Mustang GT 390 that he drove in Bullitt.

In 1999, Steve McQueen was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Steve McQueen was married three times: to Neile Adams, Ali MacGraw, and Barbara Minty. He had two children with Neile Adams: Terry (born 1959, died 1998) and Chad (born 1960 and one illegitimate child, Fred McQueen (born 1957.)

Steve McQueen's son Chad is also an actor and played Dutch in The Karate Kid (1984).

Steve McQueen's grandson, Steven R. McQueen is also an actor. He played Jeremy Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries and Kyle Hunter on Everwood.

In December 1979, Steve McQueen was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He passed away at the age of 50 on November 6, 1980. His ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Although Steve McQueen has been gone for 29 years his legacy lives on. In 2005, Ford used Steve McQueen's likeness in a commercial for the 2005 Bullitt Mustang. The Town of Slater, Missouri hosts a Steve McQueen Festival each September.

The blue tinted sunglasses worn by Steve McQueen in the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair sold $70,200 in 2006.

One of his motorcycles, a 1937 Crocker, sold for a world-record price of $276,500 in 2006.

Steve McQueen's 1963 metallic-brown Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso sold for $2.31 million at auction on August 16, 2007.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joel McCrea

Joel McCrea was born November 5, 1905 in South Pasadena, California to Thomas McCrea, an executive with the L.A. Gas & Electric Company, and Lou Whipple.

As a boy, Joel had a newspaper route and delivered the Los Angeles Times to Cecil B. DeMille and other people in the film industry. He also had the opportunity to watch D.W. Griffith filming Intolerance.

Joel McCrea graduated from Hollywood High School and then Pomona College, where he acted on stage and took courses in drama and public speaking and regularly appeared at the Pasadena Playhouse. While in high school, Joel worked as a stunt doble for cowboy stars William S. Hart and Tom Mix.

Joel McCrea made his film debut in an uncredited role in The Fair Co-Ed (1927). His first major role was in The Jazz Age (1929) and his first leading role was in The Silver Horde (1929).

From 1929 to 1939, Joel McCrea appeared in such movies as The Common Law (1931), The Most Dangerous Game (1932), One Man's Journey (1933), Gamblign Lady (1934), Woman Wanted (1935), and Dead End (1937).

In 1939, he was cast opposite Barbara Stanwyck in Union Pacific. This role would lead to major leading parts in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (1940), Sullivan's Travels (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), The Virginian (1946), Colorado Territory (1949), Trooper Hook (1957), The San Francisco Story (1952), The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959), and Ride the High Country (1962).

During the 1950s, Joel McCrea appeared on radio in the Western police drama, Tales of the Texas Rangers.

Joel McCrea's final film was Mustang County (1976).

Joel McCrea married actress Frances Dee on October 20, 1933, they met while filming The Silver Horde (1930). They were married 57 years until his death (which was on their wedding anniversary). The couple had three children, David, who became a rancher, Peter, who both became a real estate developer, and Jody, who became an actor.

Joel McCrea and his son Jody McCrea appeared together in Trooper Hook (1957), The First Texan (1956), Gunsight Ridge (1957), Cry Blood Apache (1970) and on the television series Wichita Town.

Joel McCrea was a very well-respected as a horseman, he was regarded as one of the two best riders in Western films along with Ben Johnson.

Joel McCrea's career spanned 50 years and he appeared in over 90 films. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and one for radio.

Joel McCrea died on October 20, 1990 (his 57th wedding anniversary) of pulmonary complications. He was 84 years old.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ann Rutherford

Ann Rutherford is best known for playing Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy movies and Carreen O'Hara in Gone With The Wind (1939).

Ann Rutherford was born Therese Ann Rutherford on November 2, 1920 in Vancouver, British Columbia to John Rutherford, a Metropolitan Opera tenor and Lillian Mansfield, an actress.

Ann Rutherford made her stage debut in 1925 and appeared in many plays and on radio (as Blondie) for the next nine years before making her first screen appearance.

Her first film role was in Waterfront Lady (1935). She appeared in eighteen films between 1935 and 1937 frequently westerns with either Gene Autry or John Wayne.

Ann Rutherford and Gene Autry starred together in Comin' Round the Mountain (1936), Melody Trail (1935), Public Cowboy No. 1 (1937), and The Singing Vagabond (1935).

Ann Rutherford and John Wayne starred together in The Lawless Nineties (1936), The Lonely Trail (1936) and The Oregon Trail (1936).

In 1937, Ann Rutherford was cast to play Polly Benedict (Andy Hardy's girlfriend) in You're Only Young Once. She would play Polly twelve times with her last appearance in Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942). She also appeared in The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942), Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941), Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941), Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940), Judge Hardy and Son (1939), The Hardys Ride High (1939), Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939), Judge Hardy's Children (1938), Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), and Out West With the Hardys (1938).

In 1939, she played Scarlett O'Hara's sister Carren in the epic Gone With the Wind.

She also starred in a series of mystery/comedies with Red Skelton: Whistling in the Dark (1941), Whistling in Dixie (1942) and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).

Ann Rutherford's other film credits include A Christmas Carol (1938), Pride and Prejudice (1940), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), and Adventures of Don Juan (1948). Her final silver screen appearance would be in Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976).

Ann Rutherford also appeared on television classics as Perry Mason, The Donna Reed Show, Robert Montgomery Presents and General Electric Theater.

During the 1970s, she would play Aggie Harrison (Emily Hartley's mother) on The Bob Newhart Show.

Ann Rutherford has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and one for television.