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Archive for August, 2011

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Dan O’Herlihy

Dan O'Herlihy
Dan O’Herlihy


Dan O’Herlihy

 

Dan O’Herlihy was born in 1919 in Wexford.   He orginally studied to be an architect.   He made his film debut in 1947 in “Hungary Hill” which was made on location in Ireland and starred Margaret Lockwood and Jean Simmons.   He also made “Odd Man Out” in Ireland.   By 1948 he was in Hollywood where he made “Larceny”, “Soldiers Three”, and “The Blue Veil”.   He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the title role in “Robinson Crusoe.   He also had a very distinguished television and stage career.   He died in 2005.

The “Guardian” obituary:

When Luis Buñuel, during his long exile in Mexico from Spain, was preparing to shoot The Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe (1952), his producers suggested Orson Welles for the title role. But as Buñuel sat down to watch Welles in the film of Macbeth, he immediately thought him “too big and too fat” for the part of the famous castaway. However, the moment the dashing and handsome Dan O’Herlihy, who has died aged 85, appeared as Macduff, Buñuel had found his Crusoe.A film in which an actor is alone on screen for 60 of the 90 minutes running time would seem a foolhardy venture, but the splendid Pathecolour photography, expert editing and O’Herlihy’s well-shaded performance, never allowed it to pall. With superb skill and grace, O’Herlihy moves from a clever but naive youth to the grizzled patriarch, earning himself an Oscar nomination.The 29-year-old O’Herlihy had been brought to America by Welles for Macbeth (1948) after having made an impression in his film debut as an IRA gunman in Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out (1947). The Wexford-born Irish actor, who had taken up acting to pay for his architectural studies at the National University of Ireland, had already gained a reputation at Dublin’s Gate Theatre (where the teenage Welles had begun his career) in around 50 plays, including the leading role in the first production of Sean O’Casey’s Red Roses For Me (1943). In the text of the play, O’Casey describes Ayamonn Breydon, the working-class Protestant hero, as “tall, well built, twenty-two or so, with deep brown eyes, fair hair, rather bushy, but tidily kept, and his face would remind an interested observer of a rather handsome, firm-minded, thoughtful, and good-humoured bulldog”.O’Herlihy, who eloquently uttered the rousing climactic patriotic speech, fitted the role perfectly. Macbeth led to a 50-year career in Hollywood and on US television, though few leads were forthcoming.Apart from Robinson Crusoe, one of them was as Alan Breck in a shoestring version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped (1948) opposite Roddy McDowall (Malcolm in Welles’s Macbeth) as David Balfour. This was followed by several sterling supporting roles in a number of undistinguished swashbucklers such as At Sword’s Point (1952) playing the son of one of the Three Musketeers, and as Prince Hal of Wales in The Black Shield Of Falworth (1954). He was cast as officers in Kiplingesque colonial adventures Soldier’s Three (1952) and Bengal Brigade (1954). He also appeared in Invasion USA (1952), a Red scare sci-fi film, in which he hypnotises patrons drinking at a bar into believing America has been attacked by nuclear weapons.O’Herlihy was sophisticated in Douglas Sirk’s glorious melodrama Imitation Of Life (1959); brutal, in a return to the world of Odd Man Out, as a fanatical, club-footed IRA leader in A Terrible Beauty (1960), and over-the-top in the title role of The Cabinet Of Caligari (1962), a silly remake of the silent expressionistic classic. One of his best roles in the 1960s was in Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe (1964) as Brigadier General Black, ordered by President Henry Fonda to drop an atomic bomb on New York City to show the Russians that bombing Moscow was an error.Television series, including The Long Hot Summer (1965), ironically in the role played by Orson Welles in the film version; Colditz (1972), Nancy Astor (1982) and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1992) kept him busy. In films, he was Franklin D Roosevelt in MacArthur (1977), starring Gregory Peck, and made himself known to a new generation as the mad toy tycoon in Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982), as a lizard-like alien in The Last Starfighter (1984), and eerily effective as the cold-blooded cyborg corporation mogul in Robocop (1987) and Robocop 2 (1990).It was all a long way from his Irish theatrical beginnings, though he recouped some of it in John Huston’s melancholically nostalgic valedictory film The Dead (1987), based on a James Joyce short story, in which he played Mr Brown “the gentleman not of our persuasion”.

Dan O’Herlihy is survived by Elsa Bennett, his wife of 59 years, two daughters and three sons.

· Daniel O’Herlihy, actor, born May 1 1919; died February 17 2005

His Guardian obituary by Ronald Bergan can also be accessed here.

TCM overview:

Character actor and idiosyncratic leading man who performed with the Gate Theatre and the Abbey Players in Dublin before immigrating to the USA, O’Herlihy filled up the screen with a long resume of grand performances in Hollywood films from the 40s to the 90s. An architecture student who turned to acting to earn money for college–He appeared in more than 70 plays on the Dublin stage and played the lead in the original production of Sean O’Casey’s “Red Roses for Me”–O’Herlihy wound up working with notables including Orson Welles, Gregory Peck and John Huston after being discovered by British director Carol Reed and cast opposite James Mason in the 1947 thriller “Odd Man Out.” O’Herlihy joined Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and played MacDuff opposite Welles’ “Macbeth” in both the stage and (1948) screen version of the play. On the U.S. stage he also appeared in John Houseman’s “Measure for Measure” in Los Angeles, “King Lear” at the Houston Shakespeare Festival and “Mass Appeal” at the Drury Lane Theatre, while on-screen he appeared with his ‘Macbeth’ co-star Roddy McDowall in a low-budget adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped.”

He became best known for his title role in Luis Bunuel’s “The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” (1954)–he beat out Welles for the role, which earned O’Herlihy an Oscar nomination as Best Actor. O’Herlihy had a long and varied career as a versatile player, he was seen in Douglas Sirk’s melodrama “Imitation of Life” (1959), in Sidney Lumet’s Cold War drama “Fail-Safe” (1964), as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposite Peck in “MacArthur” (1977), as a homicidal toymaker in “Halloween 3: Season of the Witch” (1982), in full makeup as a lizardlike alien in “The Last Starfighter” (1984), the lead character Mr. Browne in John Huston’s film version of the James Joyce story “The Dead” (1987) and as the villainous Old Man, the CEO of Omni Consumer Products, in “RoboCop” (1987) and its 1990 sequel–the latter films made O’Herily a favorite of sci-fi and fantasy genre fans. His final role had him playing Kennedy family patriarch Joe Kennedy in the HBO telepic “The Rat Pack” in 1998.

O’Herilhy’s scores of TV credits included Doc McPheeters in “The Travels of Jamie McPheeters” (1963), town boss Will Varner in the series version of “The Long Hot Summer” (1965), The Director in ‘A Man Called Sloane’ (1979), intelligence agent Carson Marsh in “Whiz Kids” (1984) and as Alexander Packard in the David Lynch-created cult favorite “Twin Peaks” (1990).

The actor’s brother was the Emmy-nominated television and film director Michael O’Herlihy. One of O’Herily’s sons, Gavan, was the Irish National Tennis Champion and followed his father’s footsteps into acting, playing lost brother Chuck Cunningham in the first season of the sitcom “Happy Days.”

The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.

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J.G. Devlin

J.G. Devlin
J.G. Devlin


J.G. Devlin
J.G. Devlin
The brilliant and versatile Irish actor J. G. Devlin was born in Belfast in 1907.   His film debut was in “Captain Lightfoot” with Rock Hudson and Barbara Rush in 1955.   His other films include “Jacqueline”, “The Rising of the Moon” and “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” which he made in Hollywood in 1959.   He has many television appearances amongst his credits including his hilarious performance as Fr Dooley in the series “Bread”.   He died in 1991 at the age of 84.
“Wikipedia” entry:

James Gerard Devlin (8 October 1907 – 17 October 1991) was an Irish actor. In a career spanning nearly fifty years, he played parts in productions such as Z-CarsDad’s ArmyThe New Avengers and Bread. He also guest starred, alongside Leonard Rossiter, in an episode of Steptoe and Son, “The Desperate Hours”. The writers of Steptoe and Son – Ray Galtonand Alan Simpson – have since revealed that Devlin was second choice to play the part of Albert Steptoe in the series, behind Wilfrid Brambell. He also appeared as Father Dooley, a Catholic priest, in several episodes of Carla Lane‘s Bread, probably his last television appearance.

His was Vivian Stanshall‘s personal choice for the role of Old Scrotum, the Wrinkled Retainer in the Charisma Films version of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (film), released in 1980.

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Conor Mullen

Conor Mullen
Conor Mullen

Conor Mullen was born in 1962 in Dublin.   His many television credits include “Holby City”, “Single-handed”, “Rough Diamond”and “Proof”.   On film he has starred in “The Tiger’s Tail” and “Puckoon”.

Article by Ciara O’Dwyer in “Independent.ie”:

‘THE older you get, the more you think, Jesus, I better start being a bit more serious,” says Sutton-born actor Conor Mullen. “But then again, it has worked out fine for me so far. You always want to do better work and better paid work if you can get it, but you don’t want to spend your time constantly working towards something and missing everything along the way. I wouldn’t be terribly driven. For me, the more relaxed I am, the better I work anyway.”

He shouldn’t change a thing. Mullen is a marvellous actor. He has real presence, a wonderfully rich voice and he is believable in everything he does. And with his blue eyes, high cheekbones and blond hair, theSteve McQueen lookalike is very easy on the system too. I once travelled to London especially to see a production of a play in which he starred. It was Conor McPherson‘s brilliant This Lime Tree Bower at the Bush Theatre. (After a quiet run in Dublin at the Crypt Theatre, London audiences couldn’t get enough of it. And they were right.) It was well worth the trek.

That spell in the Bush proved to be very fruitful for Mullen. It was then that his extensive career in television dramas in the UK took off. Producers and agents spotted him and snapped him up. Soon they were offering him great work. A part in the television series Reckless, starring Francesca Annis, was followed by a stint in Soldier, Soldier. And on he soared. Many people may know him from his work in Holby City and Silent Witness.

A lot of the time, Mullen plays bad guys. At the moment, you can see him on your TV screen in Raw, where he plays Larry Deane.

“I’m usually a nasty piece of work,” says Mullen. “I play all the psychopaths. Type-cast again.” He laughs. He has a very easy way about him. It is refreshing to come across someone so calm and laid -back, especially in these frantic times.

When I meet him, he has just finished a day’s rehearsal for No Romance. (It is running in the Peacock until April 2.) Mullen plays the part of Michael, a frazzled man who travels down to West Cork with his PlayStation-addicted son, and plans to take his own mother up to Dublin and put her in a nursing home.

“He is a man under a severe amount of pressure and he doesn’t respond well to pressure,” says Mullen. “His marriage has fairly recently broken down acrimoniously. He’s trying to cultivate a relationship with his son and that’s not working out. (He tells him to get his head out of that f***ing PlayStation.) And he’s trying to put his mother into a nursing home because he’s worried that something is going to happen to her, but she doesn’t want to go. He’s trampling on her rights. The play deals with the question of when are you within your rights to take away somebody else’s rights?

“Michael is a very selfish individual. It’s all about what the situation means to him and how is he going to cope with it. He is falling apart. He’s so wired. It’s good fun because there are great lines in it. It’s so well written. Usually the best writing doesn’t feel like work. It’s the easiest to do.”

It has been a while since Mullen has been on our Dublin stages. Four years ago, he was at the Gate in Lady Windermere’s Fan and before that it was in the Peacock in Patrick Marber‘s Closer. “It’s about time that I got back out,” he says.

Whether people know it or not, Mullen infiltrates our lives. He does a lot of voice-over work, and in particular most people probably have daily contact with him as the voice of Eircom. It is his golden voice that you can hear when you pick up the phone to be told: “You have no new messages.”

“All actors are delighted to get a voice-over job,” he says. “You’ve got to have a few strings to your bow. If you decided that you’re only going to do theatre, the chances are you’re not going to be going from one play to the next. You wouldn’t be able to survive. Some people do character voices for cartoons and some do voice-overs, so you do whatever you can to keep going.”

There was a spell when it seemed there was only a handful of actors doing voice-overs, but Mullen says that it’s different these days. “The voice-over work is still going strong, but there’s a lot more people doing it now.”

All the same, his voice is beautifully resonant. What does he do to keep it so rich? “It’s just bad living,” he says.

Although he is serious about his work, the delightful thing about Mullen is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. I’ve always had a soft spot for him, ever since he told me that he was great at staring out of a window and doing nothing. I interviewed him 10 years ago and he still looks very fresh faced; so glowing, that I presume he’s just back from a holiday. Not so. “It’s probably blood pressure,” he says.

The 49-year-old has hardly aged at all. It feels a bit odd to ask a man what he does to keep so youthful, but he does look incredibly well. U2’s Larry Mullen Jr is his cousin and he is another Dorian Gray. So, is this from the Mullen side of the family? “My father passed away last year. He was 85 and he looked great, but my mother will be reading this, so you better say that it’s from her side of the family.”

But what does he do? “No, I’m not doing facials and I haven’t had Botox.” Then he pulls a pious face. “Prayer. I have my faith and it stood to me.” There’s more laughter.

In some ways, Mullen is an accidental actor. He tried many lives for size before he made up his mind that he was going to have a bash at this acting lark. He grew up in Sutton, the third of six children. His mother was a keen theatre-goer and so the family were treated to trips to the Gaiety pantomime.

Both parents were pharmacists and they had a chemist shop in Terenure. Mullen confesses that he didn’t really apply himself when he was at school and then he was shocked when his Leaving Cert results were mediocre. University was not an option.

Instead, he did an Anco course in sales and, supplied with a car, he went on to work as a sales merchandiser for Guinness and later Wrigley chewing gum. Then his father offered him a job. (By that stage, he was selling medical supplies instead of working in the Terenure pharmacy.)

“I knew nothing about it,” says Mullen. “I was selling everything from mammary implants to TB drugs to blood filters. The products were very good. They spoke for themselves, apparently, because I didn’t know how to speak for them.”

When I ask how his love of theatre began, he is at a loss to pinpoint a specific event. He tells me that he just started going to see plays. Joe Dowling’s production of Death of a Salesman, starring Ray McAnally, had a lasting effect on him. It wasn’t long before he signed up for acting classes at the Brendan Smith Academy and shortly after that he headed to New York, to study acting at The Neighbourhood Playhouse for two years.

“I wanted to get away and it was a toss of a coin really,” he says. “It was going to be London, but London wasn’t far enough away. I wanted to be gone and to have a whole new world.”

New York fitted the bill. “I stayed with an old maiden aunt for a few weeks, then crashed on a couch and eventually I was living in Manhattan in a sublet. One of the first jobs I got was a lifeguard in a swimming pool in a 24-hour gym.”

Was he qualified? “Not at all. I told them that my certification was in the post. I could just about swim. I could splash around and tell people to get out of the water. I worked from 11 at night until seven in the morning. It was like something out of a David Lynch film, sitting by the pool at three in the morning with no one in it.”

He adds: “The thing about New York, and I’m sure that it’s still the same, from the moment you arrive, you feel part of it, because New York is whoever is there at that moment.”

Did he go wild while he was there? “I did go a bit feral all right.”

When he returned to Dublin, he started auditioning for roles. Eventually, theatre work came in. And along the way, he was approached to do some voice-over work.

These days, Mullen lives in Howth with his wife, the Scottish actress Fiona Bell, and their three-year-old daughter Cassie. (He has two daughters — Hannah and Georgia — from his first marriage.)

Does he feel ancient being a father second time around? “No. I don’t feel ancient anyway. I know it’s a cliche, but kids keep you young. Cassie is great. She’s at that age where she’s all chat and running around the place and coming up with mad ideas.

“Hannah is in college doing Communications and Georgia is still at school. But it’s nice with Cassie there — Hannah and Georgia are around more, playing with her.”

When Cassie was born, Mullen decided to take a bit of time off and stay at home. He had done six months of TV work in the UK, so life was good. But after his break, the phone didn’t ring.

“It was kind of like falling off a cliff,” he says. “It’s only in recent years when you’re too old to do anything else, you think, how am I going to pay the bills? I started getting worried and saying this is a tough job. It was always a tough job, but the last few years I’ve been out of work for longer periods than ever before.”

After a very quiet year, work picked up. He did Single-Handed, Raw and When Harvey Met Bob. Is it a worry with two actors in the house? “If you’re not working, you’re not paying the bills. It doesn’t matter who is working, as long as somebody is working. But mostly I’ve been fortunate,” he adds, then smiles.

And so it will continue. Conor Mullen will be just fine. He’s very good at what he does. Cream always rises to the top.

No Romance is showing at the Peacock Theatre until April 2, and is directed by Wayne Jordan. Tickets are priced from €13. For more information, visit www.abbeytheatre.ie or telephone (01) 878-87222

Sunday Indo Living

 The above “Independent.ie” article can also be accessed online here.

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Tony Wright


Tony Wright

Tony Wright was born in 1925 in London.   He was a very popular actor in British films of the 1950’s.   He made his movie debut in “The Flanagan Boy” in 1953.   His other films of interest include “Jacqueline” in 1956, “Tiger in the Smoke”, “Seven Thunders” with Stephen Boyd in 1957.   Tony Wright died in 1986 at the age of 60’s ”   He is one of my favourite actors.

Article from Brian McFarlane’s “Encyclopedia of British Film”:

“Light-haired actor, briefly in starring roles in the 1950s playing men of action, portrayed by fan magazines as the ‘beefcake boy’ of British films.   With limited acting range (too lightweight for villains), he had a laid-back charm but was rarely given roles to display it.   After navy service, and reputedly, whaling in the Antarctic, was on stage from 1946.  He was married to Janet Munro from 1957 until 1959.”

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Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro is a true icon of the cinema and one of the very best of American actors.   He was born in 1943 in New York City.   He made his film debut at the age of 20 in 1963 in Brian De Palma’s “The Wedding” with Jill Clayburgh.   In 1973 he came to international acclaim for his performance in “Bang the Drum Slowly”.   The folowing year he won a major role in “TYhe Godfather Part 2” and won a best supporting actor for his performance.His other major films include “Mean Streets”, “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull (for which he won a Best Actor Oscar) ,”The King of Comedy”, “Goodfellas”, “Casino” and “Heat”

TCM overview:

Often regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was also one of the most enigmatic and remained famously tight-lipped about his personal life throughout his career. After gaining attention in “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1973), De Niro exploded onto the public’s consciousness as the reckless Johnny Boy in “Mean Streets” (1973), which commenced his partnership with Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest actor-director combos of all time. He earned his first Academy Award as a young Vito Corleone in “The Godfather Part II” (1974) and delivered his most iconic performance as would-be vigilante Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver” (1976). De Niro offered a haunting turn as a Vietnam veteran in “The Deer Hunter” (1978), before gaining 60 pounds to play boxer Jake La Motta in “Raging Bull” (1980). From there, he delivered great performances in “The King of Comedy” (1983), “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), “The Untouchables” (1987) and “Awakenings” (1990). He reunited with Scorsese for “Goodfellas” (1990) and “Casino” (1995), and starred opposite Al Pacino in “Heat” (1995), but took a surprising turn to comedy in “Analyze This” (1999) and “Meet the Parents” (2000), both commercial hits that opened him up to criticism that he had sold out. Despite calls that he was past his prime, there was never any doubt as to where De Niro stood in the history of acting – he was a towering figure with an amazing body of work unmatched by most actors of any generation.

The full TCM overview can be accessed here.

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Ann Sheridan

Ann Sheridan
Ann Sheridan

It is surprising and disappointing that Ann Sheridan is not better known today.   In her prime years in the 1940’s she was one of Warner Brothers most famous leading ladies on the same pedestal as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.   Her career is in urgent need of positive reappraisal.   She was born in 1915 in Texas.   She made her film debut in 1934 in “Search for Beauty”.   Her more famous movies include “Angels With Dirty Faces” with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart in 1938, “Dodge City” opposite Errol Flynn, “King’s Row”, “Nora Pre ntiss” and “The Unfaithful”.   She was starring in the television series “Pistols’n Petticoats” when she became ill and died in 1967 at the age of 52.

TCM overview:

She was Warner Brothers’ “Oomph Girl” and a popular WWII pin-up but Ann Sheridan fought to be taken seriously in Hollywood. After a fruitless start at Paramount, the ravishing redhead allowed the Warners publicity mill to make her an overnight sensation, channeling the buzz to barter for better roles. She enjoyed name-above-the-title status for “It All Came True” (1940), in a role rejected by Bette Davis, then teamed with Davis for the screwball classic “The Man Who Came to Dinner” (1942), and more than held her own opposite studio mates George Raft and Humphrey Bogart in “They Drive By Night” (1940). It was as the small town heroine of “King’s Row” (1942) opposite Ronald Reagan, that Sheridan became a bone fide star, but her tenure at Warners was punctuated by suspensions for turning down roles. Prior to breaking with the studio in 1948, she scored as a Frisco chanteuse who compels doctor Kent Smith to fake his own death in the noir sleeper “Nora Prentiss” (1947). As a free agent, Sheridan enjoyed one of her better roles opposite Cary Grant in “I Was a Male War Bride” (1949) but a downturn in her industry stock drove the aging actress to television. She capped her 30-year career as the star of the CBS western sitcom “Pistols ‘n’ Petticoats” (1966-67) but was felled by cancer before the end of the first season. Gone at 51, Ann Sheridan escaped in death the humiliating career twilights of aging rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, remaining in the eyes of movie lovers a quick-witted comedienne and a sensuous dramatic actress rolled into one unforgettable package.

Ann Sheridan was born Clara Lou Sheridan in Denton, TX on Feb. 21, 1915. The last of five surviving children born to George W. Sheridan, a garage mechanic and direct descendant of Union general Philip Henry Sheridan, and the former Lula Stewart Warren, Sheridan grew up a tomboy, riding horses, playing touch football, and standing up to bully boys twice her size. After completing her primary education at Robert E. Lee Grade School and Denton Junior High School, she enrolled in North Texas State Teachers College with a mind toward studying art. Growing frustrated with the disciplines required of fine art, Sheridan drifted towards campus dramatics and participated in the school band, dreaming of traveling to New York City to become a Broadway chorus dancer. In 1932, Sheridan’s older sister Kitty enrolled the 17-year-old in a national contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures in Hollywood as publicity for the upcoming film “Search for Beauty” (1934). Sheridan was one of 30 finalists invited to Hollywood for the privilege of a screen test.

Despite pudgy cheeks, unmanageable hair, and a gap-tooth smile, Sheridan was offered a six-month contract with Paramount, earning a then-admirable $50 a week. After her 10-second bit as a pageant contestant in “Search for Beauty,” Sheridan was given little to do on the Paramount backlot, apart from taking drama lessons from the studio’s resident coach Nina Mousie, and appearing in plays staged for the exclusive pleasure of the studio front office. While appearing as a character named Ann in the Harry Clork-Lynn Root comedy “The Milky Way,” Sheridan was advised by her handlers at Paramount to change her name so that it might fit more comfortably on a marquee. Adopting her character’s name, Clara Lou Sheridan became Ann Sheridan. A friendship with director Mitchell Leisen led to a featured role, as a stenographer driven by snobbery to suicide, in “Behold My Wife!” (1934), which allowed the young hopeful to break from the purgatory of extra work and doubling that her been her lot as a Paramount contract player.

Sheridan enjoyed her first lead role in Charles Barton’s “Car 99” (1935), as rookie cop Fred MacMurray’s telephone operator girlfriend. She was paired with cowboy star Randolph Scott for Barton’s “Rocky Mountain Mystery” (1935) but was bumped back to bits, playing a nurse who bandages George Raft in “The Glass Key” (1935) and a Saracen slave in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Crusades” (1935). While she was on loan to Ambassador Pictures for “Red Blood of Courage” (1935), Paramount dropped Sheridan’s option. She made one film for Universal, playing a spoiled rich girl who flirts with campus radicalism in Hamilton McFadden’s college comedy “Fighting Youth” (1935), before finding her way to Warner Brothers, her home base until 1948. Though her scenes were cut from Ray Enright’s musical comedy “Sing Me a Love Song” (1936), she found work in Warners’ steady output of crime films, appearing in prominent roles in Archie Mayo’s “Black Legion” (1937), Lloyd Bacon’s “San Quentin” (1937) and Michael Curtiz’s “Angels with Dirty Faces” (1938) alongside fellow contract player Humphrey Bogart. Between 1936 and 1938, Sheridan was married to B-movie actor Edward Norris.

In 1939, Sheridan became the focus of an unusual Warners publicity stunt, inspired by a comment made by gossip columnist Walter Winchell that Sheridan, as gangster James Cagney’s social worker girlfriend in “Angels with Dirty Faces,” had “umph.” Recoining the phrase slightly, the studio assembled a team of 13 judges – including choreography Busby Berkeley, designer Orry-Kelly, photographer George Hurrell, producer-director Earl Carroll, and bandleader-actor Rudy Vallee – charged with naming “America’s Oomph Girl.” Following a highly-publicized but patently rigged competition, Sheridan was awarded the honor, beating out (so the Warners publicity mill had moviegoers believing) Alice Faye, Carole Lombard, Hedy Lamarr and Marlene Dietrich. Hurrell’s elegant portraits of the titian-tressed actress helped put Sheridan across to the public, creating curiosity and sensation where there had once been disinterest. As a result, Sheridan would soon become one of the most popular pin-ups of the Forties, but she always derided her nickname as the sound an old man makes when bending over to tie his shoes.

Interest in Sheridan’s crowning as the Oomph Girl had a retroactive effect on several movies in which she had already appeared. Though she played small roles in both, Sheridan received preferential placement on the posters for Busby Berkeley’s “They Made Me a Criminal” (1939) and Michael Curtiz’s Errol Flynn starrer “Dodge City” (1939). Ill at ease at having achieved success through crass studio duplicity, Sheridan was given a backlot pep talk by actor Paul Muni, who advised her to use the exposure from the stunt for the betterment of her career. She was selected by producer Mark Hellinger to star in Lewis Seiler’s “It All Came True” (1940), a role turned down by Bette Davis. Cast as a down-at-heel nightclub singer given a second chance at stardom when mobster Humphrey Bogart turns her boarding house into a nightclub, Sheridan charmed audiences and sang two songs. Now boasting name recognition with moviegoers, Sheridan enjoyed an elevated status in her subsequent film assignments and was, like teen starlets Bonita Granville and Deanna Durbin, made the heroine sleuth of her own mystery novel, marketed by the Whitman Publishing Company for young readers.

Cast again opposite George Raft and Humphrey Bogart in Raoul Walsh’s “They Drive By Night” (1940), Sheridan played the good girl to Ida Lupino’s bad egg. On the lighter side, she donned furs and jewels to play a conniving actress in William Keighley’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner” (1942), winding up packed inside a mummy’s case for her troubles and shipped to Nova Scotia, and teamed with Jack Benny for Keighley’s “George Washington Slept Here” (1942), with the pair cast as city dwellers who buy a tumbledown Pennsylvania farm house. Sheridan enjoyed top billing as the tomboy heroine of Sam Wood’s “King’s Row” (1942), an adaptation of the 1940 novel by Harry Bellaman, which made a star of Sheridan’s fellow Warners contract player Ronald Reagan. Though the studio publicity department announced Sheridan and Reagan as the proposed stars of the upcoming “Casablanca” (1942), the actors were never seriously considered for the roles that went ultimately to Ingrid Berman and Humphrey Bogart.

In 1942, Sheridan married actor George Brent, her co-star in Lloyd Bacon’s “Honeymoon for Three” (1941), a union that lasted just one year. The actress’ star turn in “Shine on Harvest Moon” (1944), a biopic of vaudeville singer Nora Bayes, was pitched by Warners as “Sheridandy” though the actress loathed the picture, eager to expand into edgier material and more demanding roles. Placed on suspension for refusing assignments after the troubled production of “One More Tomorrow” (1946), Sheridan sat out most of 1946 before a writer’s strike and the looming expiration of her Warners contract left her with bargaining leverage. The result was a six-picture deal for which Sheridan was given script approval and enjoyed an uptake in her asking price. The first film out of the gate under these new terms was Vincent Sherman’s “Nora Prentiss” (1947), a noir-flavored woman’s picture recounting the tragic love affair of Sheridan’s slinky nightclub singer and Kent Smith’s guilt-wracked surgeon, who fakes his own death as the start of an ill-advised midlife do-over.

Sheridan reteamed with Sherman for “The Unfaithful” (1948), which found her charged with murder for the fatal stabbing of her ex-lover. She finished out her Warners contract with an uncredited bit as a Mexican prostitute in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948), done as a favor for director John Huston, and by playing a comely mine owner in “Silver River” (1948) opposite Errol Flynn. As a free agent, Sheridan made few remarkable films but many satisfying ones. Among these was Howard Hawks’ “I Was a Male War Bride” (1949) at Fox, in which she and co-star Cary Grant played American and French allies who fall in love while on a mission and employ the War Bride Act in order to remain together in the United States. Sheridan had the title role in Claude Binyon’s “Stella” (1950), as an upwardly mobile woman duped into helping her hayseed relatives cover up an accidental death, and received top billing for George Sherman’s “Steel Town” (1952), a class conscious melodrama co-starring John Lund and Howard Duff. She took a producer’s role for Norman Foster’s “Woman on the Run” (1950), in addition to headlining as a San Francisco housewife who works with newspaper reporter Dennis O’Keefe to track down her errant husband, material witness to a gangland murder.

Less in demand as she approached middle age, Sheridan shifted the focus of her labor to live television, appearing in episodes of such anthology series as “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars” (CBS, 1951-59), “Playhouse 90” (CBS, 1956-1961) and “The Ford Television Theater” (NBC, 1952-57). In 1965, the year she turned 50, she joined the ranks of fading Hollywood stars agreeing to lend their big screen credibility to the medium of daytime drama and appeared in the second season of the NBC soap opera “Another World” (1964-1999). Just as discriminating in the downward arc of her career as she had been at its apex, Sheridan passed on the part of a French brothel owner in Norman Jewison’s “The Art of Love” (1965), a role that went instead to Ethel Merman. In 1966, she married actor Scott McKay. She capped her career as the star of the Western sitcom “Pistols ‘n’ Petticoats” (CBS, 1966-67). Diagnosed during the first (and only) season with esophageal cancer, Ann Sheridan died at age 51 on Jan. 21, 1967.

by Richard Harland Smith

The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.
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Zeljko Ivanek

 

 

Zeljko Ivanek
Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek
Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek was born in Slovenia in 1957.   When he was three years old, his parents emigrated to the U.S.   His movie debut came in 1982 in “The Soldier”.   Another early film credit was “Mass Appeal” with Jack Lemmon.   He has had an extensive career on the stage and in television.   He was part of the cast of the long running HBO series “Oz”.

TCM overview:

Even though most people could not pronounce Zeljko Ivanek’s name, there was no denying he made an impression every time he appeared onscreen. Already an accomplished stage star, Ivanek appeared in several film and TV projects, often as conniving and evil men who wore three-piece suits. His performance as a smooth-talking Southern lawyer in “Damages” (FX, 2007- ) earned the Slovenian-born actor his first time Emmy Award nomination and win in 2008, where he went up against his co-star Ted Danson for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Zeljko Ivanek (pronounced Zhel-ko Ee-vah-nik) was born on Aug. 15, 1957 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (then a part of Yugoslavia). The actor was just three years old when his parents brought him to the United States in 1960. Ivanek graduated from Yale University in 1978 before attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. “I started in theater in New York, and it’s a smaller community, and it feels like you know the ins and outs more,” Ivanek said. His theater training paid off in 1981, when the actor won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, for a production of Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud Nine.” A year later, he originated the role of Hally in the Athol Fugard play, “Master Harold and the Boys.”

Broadway gave Ivanek an outlet to showcase his exceptional acting skills, even honoring him with multiple Tony Award nominations, including one for his performance in the original production of “Brighton Beach Memoirs” (1983). He also received critical praise – and more Tony nods – for “Two Shakespearean Actors” (1992) and for playing Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial” (2006). The marquee star never thought about changing his name, stating that even though it had been suggested, “it always seemed very peculiar to have my parents see me using a different name.”

Ivanek’s first feature film appearance was playing a hitchhiker in “Tex” (1982). Since that time, the actor’s roles got bigger and meatier, with unforgettable turns as Bobby Kennedy in “The Rat Pack” (1998), a District Attorney in Lars Von Trier’s heartbreaking “Dancer in the Dark” (2000), and a doctor in “Hannibal” (2001). Von Trier was so enthralled by the passion and depth Ivanek brought his characters that he cast the actor in two more films, “Dogville” (2003) and “Manderlay” (2005).

Perhaps even more than his stage and film appearances, Ivanek was mostly recognized for his extensive and impressive television resume. While still acting on Broadway, Ivanek joined the cast of the mystery soap series “The Edge of Night” (CBS, 1956-1975, ABC, 1975-1984) as Sammy Wheaton. He had supporting roles throughout the 1980s in shows like “St. Elsewhere” (NBC, 1982-88) and “L.A. Law” (NBC, 1986-1994) before landing a recurring role as prosecuting attorney Ed Danvers in “Homicide: Life on the Street” (NBC, 1993-99).

In 1998, Ivanek was cast as Astronaut Ken Mattingly in the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” (HBO). He reprised his role of Ed Danvers for the 2000 film “Homicide, and two years later, Ivanek got cast in another recurring role – this time as Andre Drazen, the man who plotted to kill Senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) and frame Jack Bauer ( Keifer Sutherland) in “24” (FOX, 2001- ).

Ivanek was not one to take on one acting job at a time. While acting in “24,” he also appeared on episodes of “The Practice” (ABC, 1997-2004), “The Twilight Zone” (UPN, 2002-03), and the gritty prison drama “Oz” (HBO, 1997-2003). In the latter, Ivanek played chillingly evil Governor James Devlin, the inmate-hated politician who advocated “No perks for prisoners.” The year 2007 proved to be a big year for the Slovenian star, playing FBI Agent Molina in the film “Live Free or Die Hard” with Bruce Willis, and getting cast as the charmingly manipulative Southern lawyer Ray Fiske in the FX series “Damages.”

Though his character ended up committing suicide in the first season of the show, Ivanek’s performance caught the attention of Emmy voters, who gave him the statue in 2008. Asked about the irony of getting nominated for a role he could not reprise, the actor said, “It was just such a great part that when it happened, it was a wonderful way to end it and put a cap on it. It was such a nice bow to tie it all up.” That same year, Ivanek portrayed Pennsylvania representative John Dickinson in the HBO miniseries “John Adams,” opposite Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney.

 The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.

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Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson
Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson was born in 1992 in Radcliffe.   He is best known for his part as Ryan Connor in “Coronation Street”.

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Doran Godwin

Doran Godwin
Doran Godwin

Doran Godwin was born in Harrow in 1950.   She is probably best known for her participation in two extremely popular television series, “Shoestring” with Trevor Eve in 1979 and 1980 and “The Irish RM” as the wife of Peter Bowles in 1983.

Interview with Doran Godwin regarding “Shoestring: Doran Godwin kindly agreed to share her thoughts with us on Shoestring, and acting. We’ve reproduced her answers to our questions below, and would like to thank Ms. Godwin for her enthusiasm and help

Dene & Nick: What prompted you to become an actress?
Doran Godwin: I was encouraged, as a child, to enjoy books, libraries, poetry,
drama and the theatre. Elocution lessons, L.A.M.D.A. examinations, [and]
inspirational private lessons led, naturally, to going to Drama School and knowing
that I wanted to be an actress. I can’t think of any particular actor who interested
me. I loved American films.
DK & NS: How did you get the role of Erica Bayliss?
DG: [It] was offered to me by Robert Banks Stewart with whom I had worked
previously.
DK & NS: In what way did you view, or approach playing, Erica?
DG: I had a friend who was a solicitor, he helped me with the ‘law aspect’ of the
Erica character. She was modern, hard working, bright, [and] independent.
Goodness knows why she took Eddie Shoestring seriously – I think he may have
started off as a tenant in her home. She had him there, in her life, on her own terms
I feel. [There was] not a great deal of actual development – just the ageing process
– [and a] slight dissatisfaction with Eddie at times.
DK & NS: Can you remember any aspects of Shoestring’s production?
DG: [The] schedule [was] well planned and executed. I think this was the first (or
second) filmed series for the BBC. This made it exciting, and the permanent
studio sets helped enormously. It was like ‘going home’. I was very proud of the
work done on the two series, it was fun being in something modern and enjoyed
by many people.
DK & NS: Had Shoestring continued for a third series, would you have stayed?
DG: I would have been very content to do further series.
With thanks to Doran Godwin.
The above interview can also be accessed online here.
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Colin Salmon

Colin Salmon

Colin Salmon
Colin Salmon

Colin Salmon was born in 1962 in London.   He is perhaps probably best known for his participation as Charles Robinson in three of the James Bond movies, “Tomorrow Never Dies” in 1997″The World Is Not Enough” and “Die Another Day” in 2002, all of which starred Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.   Salmon has also starred in “Freeze Frame”, “Match Point” and “Clubbed”.   He is a very striking looking actor with a magnificent voice.

IMDB entry:

Colin Salmon is one of Britain’s most renowned actors. With a bold voice and posture, Colin makes his characters a favorite among audiences for every role he plays. He made his feature debut as Sgt. Robert Oswald in the British mega-hit mini-series Prime Suspect 2 (1992), which gave him much acclaim among British audiences. He has a recurring role in the James Bond films as Charles Robinson, M’s Chief of Staff. He has also appeared as the Commander James “One” Shade in the video game-to-movieResident Evil (2002) and played Oonu, squad leader of the Skybax in the mini-seriesDinotopia (2002) . His other film credits include Captives (1994), The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998), Fanny and Elvis (1999), Mind Games (2001), and My Kingdom (2001). His theater credits include Ariadne at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.