Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jean Simmons

Jean Merilyn Simmons was born on January 31, 1929 in London, England. The daughter of Charles Simmons and Winifred Loveland. Her father, a physical education teacher who had represented Great Britain in the 1912 Summer Olympics.

During World War II, the Simmons family was evacuated to Winscombe in Somerset.

After the war, she returned to London and enrolled at the Aida Foster School of Dance at the age of 14. She was spotted by the director Val Guest, who cast her in the Margaret Lockwood film Give us the Moon.

Her films include Black Narcissus (1947), Hamlet (1948)
Affair with a Stranger (1953), The Actress (1953), Guys and Dolls (1955), The Big Country (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960), Spartacus (1960), The Grass Is Greener (1960),
Divorce American Style (1967), Heidi (1968), and The Happy Ending (1969).

In 1950, she married the English actor Stewart Granger and they divorced in 1960. They had one daughter, Tracy Granger. Granger and Simmons appeared together in Adam and Evelyne (1949), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), Young Bess (1953),
and Footsteps in the Fog (1955).

In 1960 she married director Richard Brooks, divorcing in 1977. They had one daughter Kate Brooks. Brooks directed Jean in Elmer Gantry (1960) and
The Happy Ending (1969).

Jean Simmons received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress, one for Hamlet (1948) and one for The Happy Ending (1969).

She won the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy Actress, Guys and Dolls (1956).

In 1983, she received the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for a Series or Special for her role in The Thorn Birds.

Jean Simmon's final film was Shadows in the Sun (2009).

Jean Simmons passed away on January 22, 2010 at the age of 80 from complications of lung cancer.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gavin MacLeod

Gavin MacLeod has been a familar face on television and movies for over fifty years.

If you grew up watching 1960s televison, you remember Gavin MacLeod as Seaman Joseph 'Happy' Haines on McHale's Navy from 1962 to 1964.

If you grew up watching 1970s televison, you remember Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970 to 1977.

If you grew up watching 1980s television, you remember Gavin MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat from 1977 to 1987.

If you love classic movies, you know Gavin MacLeod as one of the most memorable character actors working alongside Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Steve McQueen, E.G. Marshall, Susan Hayward, Gregory Peck and Donald Sutherland.

Gavin MacLeod was born Allan George See on February 28, 1930 or 1931 (sources differ as to the year he was born) in Mount Kisco, New York. His father was a Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indian.

Gavin MacLeod studing acting at Ithaca College, graduating in 1952. After serving in the Air Force, he moved to New York City and worked at Radio City Music Hall while looking for acting work.

Gavin MacLeod made his acting debut in an episode of The Walter Winchell File in 1957.

After two uncredited roles in the films The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958) and Young and Wild (1958), Gavin MacLeod received his big break.

Gavin MacLeod was cast to play a police lieutenant in the film drama I Want to Live (1958) starring Susan Hayward.

The Hollywood elite noticed Gavin MacLeod and his next role was as Padua, District Attorney Horn (played by E.G. Marshall) assistant in Compulsion (1959).

Gavin MacLeod's next film was Pork Chop Hill (1959) starring Gregory Peck in which MacLeod played Sexton.

In 1959, Gavin MacLeod gave one of his most memorable performances as Ernest Hunkle in Operation Petticoat starring Tony Curtis and Cary Grant.

Blake Edwards, the director of Operation Petticoat quickly cast Gavin MacLeod as Professor Thayer in his next feature High Time (1960) starring Bing Crosby.

In 1966, Gavin MacLeod played Crosley in The Sand Pepples starring Steve McQueen.

Gavin MacLeod's most memorable performance as a character actor was in Kelly's Heroes (1970) in which he played Oddball's (Donald Sutherland) sidekick Moriarty.

Gavin MacLeod has also appeared in films such as Twelve Hours to Kill (1960), McHale's Navy (1964), A Man Called Gannon (1968),and The Thousand Plane Raid (1969).

Gavin MacLeod has appeared on episodes of My Favorite Martian, The Untouchables, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan's Heroes, The Big Valley, The King of Queens, That '70s Show, Touched by an Angel, JAG and so many more.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier was born on February 20, 1927 in Miami, Florida to Evelyn Outten and Reginald James Poitier. His family had traveled from Cat Island, Bahamas to Miami to sell tomatoes and other produce from their farm when Sidney was born prematurely on their trip to Florida.

Sidney Poitier began his acting career by joining the American Negro Theater, but was initially rejected by audiences. His tone deafness made him contrary to what was expected of African American actors at the time unable to sing or dance.

However, Sidney Poitier was determined to refine his acting skills. He spent the next several months to achieving theatrical success. On his second attempt at theater, he was noticed which led to him being cast in the Broadway production of Lysistrate for which he received excellent reviews.

In 1949, Sidney Poitier faced a difficult decision: leading roles on the Broadway stage of accept an offer to appear in the film No Way Out.

Sidney Poitier choosed the film No Way Out (1950) which led to more roles in the film industry.

In 1955, he was cast in the Blackboard Jungle (1955).

In 1958 he played opposite Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance becoming the first African American male actor to be nominated in a competitive category.

In the late 1950s, Sidney Poitier returned to the Broadway stage performing in A Raisin in the Sun. He would receive a Tony award nomination for his performance.

In 1961, Sidney Poitier reprised his Broadway role in the movie version of A Raisin in the Sun.

In 1963, Sidney Poitier became the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. He also won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance.

In 1965, Sidney Poitier starred in The Bedford Incident (1965). This would mark the first time he would play a role in which his character's race was not an issue.

Sidney Poitier also appeared in such films as Edge of the City (1957), Pressure Point (1962), A Patch of Blue (1965), Duel at Diablo (1966), To Sir, with Love (1967), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970), Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Sneakers (1992).

Sidney Poitier has also had a successful career as a director. He has directed such films as Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Ghost Dad (1990). His most successful film as a director is the 1980 Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder comedy Stir Crazy.

Sidney Poitier has received many awards including Cecil B. Demille Award (1982), AFI Life Achievement Award (1992), SAG Life Achievement Award (1995), Kennedy Center Honor (1999) and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

On August 12, 2009, Sidney Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.

Sidney Poitier is currently the Bahamian ambassador to Japan, a post he has held since 1997.

Sidney Poitier was to Hollywood what Jackie Robinson was to major league baseball: the man who broke the color barrier. An actor, director, and producer, he forever altered the racial perceptions long held by both motion picture audiences and executives.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kevin McCarthy

For the past seven decades, Kevin McCarthy has had a long and distinguished career on stage, television and in film. He is one of the most in demand character actors.

Kevin McCarthy was born on February 15, 1914 in Seattle, Washington the son of Martha Therese Preston and Roy Winfield McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy was orphaned at the age of four when both his parents died in the great flu epidemic of 1918. He was raised by his father's parents in Minneapolis, Minnesota and later by an uncle and aunt.

In 1938, Kevin McCarthy made his Broadway debut in Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Kevin McCarthy's Broadway credits include Flight to the West, Joan of Lorraine, Cactus Flower, and Advise and Consent.

In 1944, Kevin McCarthy made his film debut in an uncredited role in Winged Victory.

In 1949, Kevin McCarthy was cast as Biff Loman in the London company production of Death of a Salesman. He reprised his role in the 1951 film version, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.

Kevin McCarthy has appeared in films such as Drive a Crooked Road (1954), The Gambler from Natchez (1954), An Annapolis Story (1955), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Misfits (1961), The Hell with Heroes (1968), The Howling (1981), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Hostage (1987), Love or Money (1990), The Distinguished Gentleman (1992), Fallen Angels (2006)and Her Morbid Desires (2008).

Kevin McCarthy has appeared on episodes of Boston Common, Dream On, Tales From The Crypt, Murder She Wrote, Matlock, China Beach, Simon & Simon, In The Heat of the Night, The Colbys, The Golden Girls, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Flamingo Road.

Kevin McCarthy's made for television movies include Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story (1982), Deadly Intentions (1985), Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story (1987) Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995) and The Second Civil War (1997).

At age 96, Kevin McCarthy has no intention of retiring. He is currently filming
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X (2010) in which he will play The Grand Inquisitor.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kim Novak

Kim Novak was born Marilyn Pauline Novak on February 13, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. The daughter of Joseph Novak, a railroad clerk, and Blanche, a teacher.

Kim Novak won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. After leaving school, she began a career modeling teen fashions for a local department store. She later received a scholarship at a modeling academy and continued to model part-time. She worked as an elevator operator, a sales clerk and a dental assistant.

She also toured the country as a spokesman for a refrigerator manufacturer, "Miss Deepfreeze."

After moving to Los Angeles, Kim Novak landed her first film role in an uncredit part in The French Line (1954).

Kim Novak's big break came when she was cast opposite Fred MacMurray in Pushover (1953). Kim Novak captured the attention of critics and audiences alike as femme fatale Lona McLane.

In 1955, Kim Novak won the Golden Globe award for Most Promising Newcomer - Female.

Kim Novak was one of the biggest box office stars of the 1950s and 1960s. She appeared films such as Phffft! (1954), Picnic (1955), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Pal Joey (1957), Vertigo (1958), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), Strangers When We Meet (1960), Boys' Night Out (1962), Of Human Bondage (1964), Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders" (1965) and The Great Bank Robbery (1969).

After 1969, Kim Novak appeared in barely a dozen films and television appearances. She played Kit Marlowe during the fourth season of Falcon Crest.

In 1991, she made her final appearance in the film Liebestraum.

For her contribution to motion pictures, Kim Novak was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Kim Novak married veterinarian Dr. Robert Malloy on March 12, 1976. The couple met when he treated her sick horse.

The couple now reside on a ranch where they raise horses and llamas. Kim is an accomplished artist who expresses herself in oil paintings and sculptures.

Kim Novak began writing her autobiography in 2000, but it was lost when her house caught on fire, destroying the computer that contained her only draft. Included in the loss were scripts to some of her movies (Vertigo (1958) and Picnic (1955)). Spared, however, were her menagerie of animals.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ronald Reagan

Long before becoming Governor of California and President of the United States, Ronald Reagan graced the silver screen.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. The son of John Edward "Jack" Reagan and Nelle Wilson.

After high school, Ronald Reagan attended Eureka College where he was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity where he majored in economics and sociology. He was very active in sports especially football.

After graduating from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan drove himself to Iowa, where he auditioned for a job at many small-town radio stations. He was hired by the University of Iowa to broadcast home football games for the Hawkeyes.

Aided by his persuasive voice,he moved to WHO radio in Des Moines as an announcer for Chicago Cubs baseball games.

After completing fourteen home-study Army Extension Courses, Ronald Reagan enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve, as a private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines, Iowa. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry on May 25, 1937, and on June 18 was assigned to the 323rd Cavalry.

In 1937, while traveling with the Cubs in California, Ronald Reagan took a screen test in 1937which led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studios.

Ronald Reagan made his movie debut in Love is on the Air (1937).

In 1938, Ronald Reagan co-starred in the film Brother Rat with actress Jane Wyman. They were married on January 26, 1940. Jane and Ronald would make four more movies together: Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), Tugboat Annie Sails Again (1940), An Angel from Texas (1940) and It's a Great Feeling (1949).

Following arguments about Ronald Reagan's political ambitions, Jane Wyman filed for divorce in 1948, citing a distraction due to her husband's Screen Actors Guild union duties, the divorce was finalized in 1949.

Ronald Reagan was ordered to active duty for the first time on April 18, 1942. Due to his nearsightedness, he was classified for limited service only, which excluded him from serving overseas. Reagan was assigned to AAF Public Relations and subsequently to the 1st Motion Picture Unit where he was promoted to First Lieutenant. By the end of the war, his units had produced some 400 training films for the AAF and Ronald Reagan left the service at the rank of Captain.

After his military service in World War II, Ronald Reagan returned to motion pictures.

Between 1937 and 1964, Ronald Reagan made over 50 films including Sergeant Murphy (1938), Boy Meets Girl (1938), Brother Rat (1938), Secret Service of the Air (1939), Dark Victory (1939), Murder in the Air (1940), Knute Rockne All American (1940), Kings Row (1942), Desperate Journey (1942), The Hasty Heart (1949), Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), Law and Order (1953), Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) and his final film The Killers (1964).

Ronald Reagan has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television. His television credits include Wagon Train, General Electric Theater, The Dick Powell Show and Death Valley Days.

Ronald Reagan was the first to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild and would later serve as President.

In 1949, Ronald Reagan met actress Nancy Davis. She contacted him in his capacity as president of the Screen Actors Guild to help her with issues regarding her name appearing on a communist blacklist in Hollywood (she had been mistaken for another Nancy Davis). The couple married in 1952 and were married 52 years until his death.

Ronald Reagan was originally a Democrat and an admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and supporter of the New Deal. During the 1950s, his political leanings began to shift more conservatively. As a result, he endorsed the presidential candidacies of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as Richard Nixon in 1960 while remaining a Democrat. In 1962, Ronald Reagan formally switched to the Republican Party.

California Republicans were impressed with Reagan's political views and charisma after his "Time for Choosing" speech, they nominated him for Governor of California in 1966. He was elected as Governor of California and served until 1975.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford in a bid to become the Republican Party's candidate for president. In 1980 he successfully gained the nomination of the Republican party and won the 1980 Presidential election. He would serve as President of the United States until 1989.

On March 30, 1981, Reagan, along with his press secretary James Brady and two others, were shot by a would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr. Missing Reagan's heart by less than one inch, the bullet instead pierced his left lung.

Ronald Reagan was the first and only President of the United states to be divorced. He was also the first and only President to have been a member of a Union. To date, Ronald Reagan is the oldest man elected to President of the United States, being 69 at the time he was elected.

Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93 due to complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease.