Burt Lancaster was born in Manhattan. All four of his grandparents were immigrants from Northern Ireland. Lancaster grew up on the streets and was a tuff character. He became interested in gymnastics and was a high school athlete. Following his mother’s death, he dropped out of college and later joined the circus at age 19 where he could use his considerable physical skills.
He met his lifelong friend Nick Cravet during his circus period. In 1939, a hand injury forced Lancaster to quit his beloved circus. For a time he worked at department stores as a singing waiter.
When World War II broke out he joined the Army and ended up in the USO entertaining troops. He served in the Italian theater of operation. Following the war, he was not excited to become an actor but he tried out for a stage role and landed the part. With his intense blue eyes, athletic physique, and devilish smile it is not hard to see how he got the role.
Although the play … Continue reading
Lisa Montell was described by IMDB.com as a “Smoulderingly beautiful and a fetching, exotic-eyed vision.” Yeah I’m okay with that description. She was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1933 but he family moved to 5th Avenue in New York prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Montell attending performing arts schools while in New York. The family moved to Lima, Peru in 1953 where Montell was cast in her first film Daughter of the Sun God (1962). The film was so badly shot it took 10 years before it was released in America. While working in other films she was noticed by Hollywood. When her father died Montell and her mother moved to LA. She worked as almost every ethnicity but her own.
In all had around 15 movie roles include World Without End (1956) and She Gods of Shark Reef (1958)but quit acting around 1962 to concentrate on her Bahá’í faith. You can look it up, I had to. It is a monotheistic religion that came out … Continue reading
Hugh Marlowe was born in Pennsylvania in 1911. Marlowe had a radio, stage, and film career. I will confine myself to just the films at this point.
Marlow began his stage career in the early 1930’s at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. His first appeared on the New York stage in a 1936 production of ”Arrest That Woman.”
Marlowe’s best work was in sci-fi. Marlowe’s first film was Married Before Breakfast (1937). His films included Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Twelve O’Clock High (1949) as a critical character in this fine story along with Gregory Peck, All About Eve (1950), Night and the City (1950), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Rawhide (1951), Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) as the lead Earth scientist, World Without End (1956), Elmer Gantry (1960), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964).
When Marlowe’s film days were over he was on the soap opera “Another World” from 1969 until his death in … Continue reading
Richard Widmark was born in Minnesota and always had an interest in movies. Like so many, he attends college to become a lawyer but he was derailed by the acting bug. By the late 30s, he was acting in New York. When World War II broke out he tried to enlist but was medically disqualified for an ear problem. Following the war, Widmark went under contract with 20th Century Fox. Darryl F. Zanuck saw Widmark’s screen test for “Tommy Udo” and had him cast in this role for Kiss of Death (1947). After being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in this role, Widmark’s career was a blaze.
Through the 1950s, Widmark covered the major genres: Westerns, military, and the thriller.
He appeared with Marilyn Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) and made Pickup on South Street (1953) that same year for director Samuel Fuller. That same year Take the High Ground! (1953) came out where Widmark played the role of a tough combat veteran trying to prepare boys … Continue reading
Humphrey Bogart was born in New York City but not in Hell’s Kitchen or the rough parts like some of the actors we have already talked about. His parents were doing pretty well. Bogie was preparing for medical school at Yale when he was kicked out of Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. Bogart joined the Navy but it believed the war ended before he saw action. It is during this time that he received the scar on his lip that created his distinctive speaking style. The most commonly accepted story is that he was escorting a prisoner to the brig when the prisoner asked for a smoke. When Bogie looked for a match the prisoner hit him with his handcuffs and escaped.
After his time in the Navy, Humphrey Bogart returned to New York and began acting. In 1930, he signed a contract Fox. He did some shorts but Fox released him from his contract after 2 years. He continued stage work and minor roles until Warner Bros. began preparing to film The Petrified Forest … Continue reading
Roscoe Lee Browne earned a master’s degree and began teach French and comparative literature. In 1951, he won the world championship in the 800-yard dash. This lead to a change in profession and in 1956 the decision to become an actor. With no training his voice and presence lead to a role in the newly formed New York Shakespeare Festival.
Roscoe Lee Browne began working on and off-Broadway until 1966 when he left the theater until 1983. By the end of the 60s he was making regular appearances in film. His roles ranged dramatic such as Hitchcock’s Topaz (1969), comedies like Dear God (1996), and blackplotations films such as the squeal to Super Fly (1972) – Super Fly T.N.T. (1973). Of course he was great in one of my favorites – The Cowboys (1972).
He was also a mainstay in 70s television on shows such as All in the Family and Good Times. He also replaced Robert Guillaume as the butler Benson on Soap (1977). He died of cancer on … Continue reading
Kirk Douglas was a descendant of Jewish Russian parents from what is now in Belarus and was raised in a tough area of New York. He went on to be perhaps one of the greatest actors in American history. He performed a little on Broadway until he joined the Navy in 1941. At the end of the war, he returned to acting and was cast in the lead role in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). The next role was in a film noir masterpiece title Out of the Past (1947). This was followed by a roll in I Walk Alone (1948), marking the first of seven times he would work alongside Burt Lancaster. In Champion (1949) he played an untrustworthy boxer. Douglas was cast as painter Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956). This was followed by the western Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) with Lancaster. In 1957, he played a French Colonel in Stanley Kubrick’s intense anti-war drama Paths of Glory (1957). In 1960, … Continue reading
Charles Laughton had seen a screen test of Maureen O’Hara and was twitterpated by her beautiful eyes. Just so were clear that Charles Laughton of Spartacus (1960), Witness for the Prosecution Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). The Bounty wasn’t the only role where he was Captain. He also played the lead role in both Captain Kidd (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952).
At 19 O’Hara was cast in her first marquee role in Jamaica Inn (1939) which was directed by none other that Alfred Hitchcock and that same year she was cast as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) where her beauty caught the attention of the Hunchback who was played by Laughton. She went on to make 5 films with Wayne and had a total over 60 during her career. In addition to her looks, she was very athletic which was utilized in many of her movies, including At Sword’s Point (1952) where … Continue reading
Bela Lugosi was born Be’la Ferenc Dezso Blasko in 1882 in Lugos, Austria-Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania). During WWI Lugosi was an infantry lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Yes, that is correct, it’s the other side. Since he was active in the Actors Union during the Hungarian Revolution of 1919 he was forced to leave his homeland. For a time he continued to act in Berlin but left for America in 1920. he arrived in New Orleans in December 1920. This makes me wonder, where the rats disappearing on the boat and did he mingle with the Crescent city vampires.
After working on the stage for three years he got his first silent screen role in America, he had been in a dozen or so in Hungary. By 1927, he was back on Broadway in the role of “Dracula.” It has always been rumored the Lon Chaney Sr. was the first choice for the role but died before shooting began. There is some controversy with this a Chaney was under contract … Continue reading
Clint Eastwood was born in California in 1930. He got his start in the movies as an uncredited actor in Revenge of the Creature (1955). His big breakthrough came out when he got a role as Rowdy Yates in 1959.
Eastwood made three movies in Italy that kicked his career into high gear. These movies dubbed as spaghetti westerns are; A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
These westerns allowed Eastwood to take his tough guy act to bigger audiences. He made more westerns including the musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). He also made a few WWII movies with some of the bigger stars of the time.
Beginning in 1971 he began directing and taking full leading men roles such as The Beguiled and Play Misty for Me. This was also the beginning of the Dirty Harry film series – go ahead make my day punk.
He continued to make movies through the 70s but High Plains Drifter (1973) … Continue reading
Jan-Michael Vincent was born in Colorado near the end of World War II but he was raised in California. He was in the National Guard when he was discovered by a talent scout that was struck by his good looks. He first appeared on-screen in The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Chinese Junk (1967). This was followed by Journey to Shiloh (1968) and then on “Danger Island” a Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning TV show that was part of “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour” 1968.
Vincent was a handsome young actor that was a force to be reckoned with from the 1970-1980s. However, his star power seemed to wane as quickly as it rose. He was often cast as a lone force fighting the system. He worked in movies such as The Undefeated (1969) with John Wayne and Rock Hudson. In Tribes (1970) where he played a young Marine recruit in conflict with his drill instructor. In White Line Fever (1975) he took on … Continue reading
Paul Fix is an actor you should know. With well over 300 movie and television credits, he may be best-known for his role as Marshal Micah Torrance on the “Rifleman” 1958-1963 television series. However, he was much more. A quality actor that was never overstated and adapted to the roles as they changed over time. Fix was born in New York to German immigrants. His father was a brew-mister but he as well as Fix’s mother died before World War II. At the age of 17, he was sent to live with him married sisters.
At the age of 17 he joined the US Navy and was active in World War I. Fix was an able-bodied seaman (untrained but could be used for any job on the ship) on the troopship U.S.S. Mount Vernon. His ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the French coast. Fortunately, the ship ran aground and did not sink. Following the war, Fix married his girlfriend who was known as Taddy. The couple moved to … Continue reading
Bruce Cabot is well known to you whether you know it or not. Moving from a leading man to a sidekick role Cabot became a regular feature in most John Wayne movies such as The Comancheros (1961), Hatari! (1962), McLintock! (1963), In Harm’s Way (1965), The War Wagon (1967), The Green Berets (1968), Hellfighters (1969), The Undefeated (1969), Chisum (1970), and Big Jake (1971), a movie that has more quotable lines than an episode of Game of Thrones. Cabot became Wayne’s on-screen and off-screen drink buddy.
Bruce Cabot was the leading man and hero in King Kong (1933) but somehow he never made the transition to leading man. Bruce Cabot auditioned for the role of The Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939). John Wayne was eventually cast in the John Ford western and became on of the most important actors in Hollywood. Bruce Cabot was reduced to supporting roles from then on out. This clearly illustrated the … Continue reading
Fay Wray, was a Canadian born actress that played the love interest in westerns during the silent years but made the transition to talkies. Fay stated that director Cooper said he would cast her with the tallest dark haired leading man in Hollywood. Wray though he was talking about Clark Gable. Of course he was refereeing to the 25 foot tall ape (King Kong 1931).
Peter Jackson asked Wray to do a cameo in King Kong (2005). Wray said no as her Kong was the real one. Ms. Wray died before Jackson started shooting the new film. Actor Jack Black as Carl Denham paid tribute to Wray by saying he hired Ann Darrow because Wray was not available.
King Kong (1933)
Fay stated that director Cooper said he would cast her with the tallest dark haired leading man in…
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