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Archive for March, 2013

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Benita Hume

Benita Hume
Benita Hume

 

Benita Humewas born in 1906 in London.   She made her film debut in the U.K. in 1925 in “The Happy Ending”.   By the mid 1930’s she was in Hollywood and made such movies as “Tarzan Escapes” and “Rainbow On the River”.    She was married to the actors Ropnald Colman and George Sanders.   She died in 1967.

IMDB entry:

Benita Hume was born on October 14, 1906 in London, England as Benita Humm. She was an actress, known for Tarzan Escapes (1936), The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) and Suzy (1936).  She died on November 1, 1967 in Egerton, England.   Her first Broadway play was Ivor Novello’s “Symphony in Two Flats” in 1930She started out as a pianist but pursued acting because she wanted “excitement”Portrayed Victoria Hall on NBC Radio’s “The Halls of Ivy” (1950-1952) with her husband Ronald Colman.   Daughter, Juliet, born 1944   Trained at RADA; first stage appearance in 1924.   With Ronald Colman was part owner of the San Ysidro resort in Santa Barbara, California.   Brunette leading lady, on stage in London from the age of seventeen. On the other side of the Atlantic, she played a series of well-coiffed English ladies in RKO and MGM films of the 1930’s, but never quite made the grade as a star. She eventually quit acting for the role of a leading socialite, as wife first to Ronald Colman then George Sanders.

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.
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Ed Harris

Ed Harris
Ed Harris

Ed Harris was born in 1950 in New Jersey.   In 1983 he achiebed international recognition for his part in “The Right Stuff”.   He went on to make such great movies as “Paris Trout”, “Places in the Heart”, “The Truman Show” and “The Firm”.   He is married to actress Amy Madigan.

TCM overview:

Largely associated with stoic, hardened characters, actor Ed Harris went on to impress with a wide array of diverse performances in dozens of acclaimed films. Following a series of low-budget genre movies, Harris gained notoriety with his turn as legendary astronaut John Glenn in “The Right Stuff” (1983). Despite the accolades, it took several years before the actor landed another memorable role, which finally came when he was cast in James Cameron’s ambitious undersea adventure “The Abyss” (1989). Reaping the rewards of his new A-list status, Harris vacillated between literary character work in such acclaimed endeavors as “Glengarry Glenn Ross” (1992) and rousing crowd-pleasers like the NASA docudrama “Apollo 13” (1995). The versatile actor proved just as at home with pyrotechnic blockbusters like Michael Bay’s actioner “The Rock” (1996) as he was in more heady material, such as the Jim Carrey vehicle “The Truman Show” (1998). Harris later astounded audiences as both the director and star of the enthralling biopic “Pollock” (2000), which he followed with equally heralded supporting work in the dramas “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) and “The Hours” (2002). Incredibly dexterous, he played wildly divergent characters in the small town drama “Empire Falls” (HBO, 2005) and the shocking “A History of Violence” (2005). He returned to the director’s chair once more to helm the sweeping western “Appaloosa” (2008), cementing his reputation as a deft cinematic storyteller. One of the finest American actors of his generation, Harris’ artistic reputation and professional résumé knew few equals.

Born on Nov. 28, 1950 in Tenafly, NJ, Harris was raised by his father, Robert, a former singer-turned-bookseller, and his mother, Margaret, a travel agent. Growing up in a middle class Presbyterian home, Harris was captain of the Tenafly High School Tigers football team during his senior year. After graduating in 1969, he played football for Columbia University, but dropped out in 1971 to attend Oklahoma State University, where he made his professional debut as King Arthur in a Jewel Box Theater production of “Camelot.” Harris left OSU to major in theater at the California Institute of the Arts, where he finally earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1975. From there, he quickly earned a reputation for his talent and intensity, namely in productions of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Grapes of Wrath.” Meanwhile, Harris made his onscreen debut in the made-for-television miniseries, “The Amazing Howard Hughes” (CBS, 1977), then appeared in his first feature with a small part as a pathology resident in “Coma” (1978), a conspiracy thriller about strange happenings at a Boston hospital.

Following more supporting turns on “The Seekers” (syndicated, 1979) and “The Aliens Are Coming” (NBC, 1980), Harris had his first leading role in George Romero’s “Knightriders” (1980), playing the leader of a motorcycle gang who hits upon a get-rich-quick scheme of dressing like the Knights of the Round Table and performing at local renaissance fairs. Three years later, he emerged as a star with the one-two punch of the laconic cowboy with a troubled past and uncertain future in Sam Shepard’s off-Broadway hit “Fool for Love” and a stalwart turn as astronaut John Glenn in “The Right Stuff” (1983), Philip Kaufman’s epic drama about the dawn of the U.S. space program. Based on Tom Wolfe’s novel of the same name, “The Right Stuff” was lauded for its epic scope and sterling performances. While the expected accolades for his performance as Glenn failed to materialize, Harris nonetheless became an actor in demand. After a charismatic supporting role as Goldie Hawn’s soldier husband in “Swing Shift” (1984), Harris made a strong impression as a cheating spouse in “Place in the Heart” (1984). The latter marked the actor’s first screen pairing with Amy Madigan, whom he married before they headlined Louis Malle’s “Alamo Bay” (1985).

Also in 1985, Harris turned in a strong, believable performance as hard-drinking, good ole Southern boy Charlie Dick who woos and weds ascendant star Patsy Cline (Jessica Lange) in “Sweet Dreams.” The actor returned to his stage roots to make his Broadway debut opposite Judith Ivey as the stern, but loving father in George Furth’s autobiographical “Precious Sons” (1986), for which he earned critical praise and a Tony Award nomination. Back on the small screen, Harris played a conscience-ridden attorney who quits the profession after getting a string of guilty clients off the hook, only to be brought back by his mistress (Roxanne Hart) for one more case, this time involving a truly innocent man (Darrell Larson) accused of killing an undercover cop, in the HBO original movie, “The Last Innocent Man” (1987). Harris next starred in the little-seen “Walker” (1987), Alex Cox’s odd biopic of the 19th-century adventurer William Walker who declared himself president of Nicaragua, only to wind up a victim of his own hubris and overreaching ambition that resulted in widespread repression. The actor offered an intense portrait of a real-life soldier of fortune who bore more than a passing resemblance to Oliver North, who was then dominating the news.

In James Cameron’s big-budgeted underwater spectacle “The Abyss” (1989), Harris provided the anchor as the foreman of a civilian crew – which includes his estranged wife (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) – tapped to rescue a U.S. nuclear submarine, only to discover the crash was caused by an extraterrestrial spacecraft containing an alien species. It was during this very difficult shoot, where the actors and crew were often submerged for hours underwater, that Harris famously declared he would never again work with Cameron, after the two butted heads more than once. In a return to the small screen, Harris starred in “Paris Trout” (Showtime, 1991), playing a lawyer hired to defend an unrepentant racist (Dennis Hopper) who finds himself drawn to his client’s wife (Barbara Hershey). In “Running Mates” (HBO, 1992), Harris was a bachelor presidential candidate who romances a widowed children’s author (Diane Keaton) who hates politics. Both projects allowed Harris to demonstrate a light, almost playful side that enhanced his standing as an unlikely comedic actor. Harris was firing on all cylinders in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992), the big screen adaptation of David Mamet’s incendiary play about a group of low-rent real estate agents. Harris played David Moss, a loudmouth who tells his down-and-out colleague (Alan Arkin) about his plan to steal the coveted Glengarry leads from their office, only to discover that an older, more desperate coworker (Jack Lemmon) beat him to it. Though the accolades went in large part to co-star Al Pacino for his fiery performance, Harris more than held his own in a cast that also included Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin.

After playing a frustrated FBI agent smoking out corruption in “The Firm” (1993), Harris was on the other side of the law as a creepy serial killer in “Just Cause” (1995). He then stood out in the ensemble of Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13” (1995), playing NASA mission control flight director Gene Krantz, a performance that earned him his first Oscar nomination. A turn as Watergate co-conspirator E. Howard Hunt in “Nixon” (1995) was followed by playing a military hero who precipitates a hostage crisis at Alcatraz in “The Rock” (1996). Following a performance as a homicide detective investigating a murder involving the president (Gene Hackman) in “Absolute Power” (1997), he received nearly unanimous praise and a second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as the God-like creator-director of a popular 24-hour-a-day TV series in “The Truman Show” (1998). Harris again showed his softer side as a man caught between his ex-wife (Susan Sarandon) and his new girlfriend (Julia Roberts) in the comedy-drama “Stepmom” (1998), which he followed by playing a charismatic priest who investigates reported miracles on behalf of the church in the little-seen drama, “The Third Miracle” (1999).

In 2000, Harris realized a decade long dream, directing and starring in “Pollock,” an independently financed drama about abstract painter Jackson Pollock. Ever since his own father had sent him two biographies of the artist, the actor harbored a desire to portray Pollock on screen. The resulting motion picture, which premiered at the 2000 Venice Film Festival and was selected as the centerpiece of the 2000 New York Film Festival, earned positive critical reviews and Harris’ first Best Actor nod at the Academy Awards. Harris continued to add to his growing galaxy of film performances as the new millennium unfolded, portraying a German assassin sent to take out a Russian sharpshooter (Jude Law) in the WWII drama “Enemy of the Gates” (2001). After playing a high-ranking intelligence officer dealing with a schizophrenic mathematician (Russell Crowe) in “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), Harris co-starred opposite Meryl Streep in “The Hours” (2002) as an author dying of AIDS. In this film, Harris delivered another of his more riveting performances, as his character struggles with his disease, his relationships with the crucial women in his life and his reasons for continuing to stay alive. His captivating turn was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor – his third in that category and fourth nod overall.

The following year, he reunited with Nicole Kidman as her abusive ex-husband in a supporting role in “The Human Stain” (2003), then was seen as a southern football coach-turned-town hero in the feel-good hit “Radio” (2003), which starred Cuba Gooding, Jr. as a mentally challenged high school student who is allowed to help out with the team, but struggles to earn his welcome. Harris next appeared in the humorous, poignant HBO miniseries “Empire Falls” (HBO, 2005) as New England restaurateur Miles Roby, for whom the promising opportunities of youth have given way to the demands of family obligations, especially those concerning his cantankerous father (Paul Newman) and impressionable daughter (Danielle Panabaker). Unable to escape the town or the dominating shadow of his employer (Joanne Woodward), who owns the restaurant he runs, Miles copes with a recent divorce from his wife (Helen Hunt) while piecing together the shared events that shaped their lives. “Empire Falls” was nominated for a slew of Emmy Awards, including Harris for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.

Harris delivered a standout supporting turn in director David Cronenberg’s masterful thriller, “A History of Violence” (2005). Harris played the menacing and acerbic Carl Fogarty, a shadowy, scarred figure who arrives in small town Indiana to confront a loving, rock-solid father and husband (Viggo Mortensen) whose brief notoriety after foiling a violent robbery attracts Fogarty’s attention and has him insisting he recognizes the man from a secret, bloody past 20 years earlier. Harris’ perfectly measured mix of threat and gallows humor was one of the highlights of a superbly tense film. After depicting Ludwig von Beethoven at the time he composed his famed “Ninth Symphony” in “Copying Beethoven” (2006), Harris was a descendant of Lincoln assassin, John Wilkes Booth, who implicates treasure hunter Ben Gates’ (Nicolas Cage) great-great grandfather after discovering missing pages from Booth’s diary in the adventure sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” (2007). He returned to the director’s chair following an eight year absence to direct “Appaloosa” (2008), an old-school Western that showcased Harris as a U.S. marshal tasked to clean up a New Mexico territory city after a band of outlaws murdered the previous law enforcement.

As an actor Harris continued to deliver impressive work in a plethora of distinct and varied films. In the based-on-fact sports drama “Touching Home” (2010) he played a stern patriarch trying to reconnect with his adult sons, while in the WWII adventure “The Way Back” (2010), he played a cynical American attempting to escape from an isolated Siberian gulag. He then reteamed with his “Beautiful Mind” co-star Jennifer Connelly for a pair of ventures, starting with the religious satire “Salvation Boulevard” (2011) and followed by the psychological-drama “Virginia” (2012). Although the mainstream heist-thriller “Man on a Ledge” (2012) failed to set the box office on fire, Harris’ uncanny turn as 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain in “Game Change” (HBO, 2012) proved to be one of the more talked-about cable events of the year. Co-starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, the telefilm was based on the political tell-all by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin and focused on the ultimately unsuccessful McCain-Palin ticket run for the White House. Harris’ exemplary performance was widely hailed by all and earned him a Golden Globe win and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.

 The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.
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Genevieve Page

Genevieve Page
Genevieve Page
Genevieve Page
Genevieve Page

 

 

Genevieve Page was born in 1927 in Paris.   She made her film debut in 1951 in “Fanfan la Tulipe” with Gerard Philipe.   By the late 1950’s she was in Hollywood making such movies as “Song Without End” and “Youngblood Hawke”.  She retired from acting in 2003.

IMDB entry:

Geneviève Page was born on December 13, 1927 in Paris, France as Genevieve Bronjean. She is an actress, known for Belle de Jour (1967), El Cid (1961) and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970). She has been married to Jean-Claude Bujard since 1959. They have two children.   Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1964   Had a long and distinguished career on stage and was nominated for the Molière Award (the French equivalent of the Tony Award) in 1996 for her role in “Colombe”.   Winner of the 1980 “Prix de la meilleure comédienne du syndicat de la critique” for her role in “Les Larmes amères de Petra von Kant” at the Théâtre national de Chaillot in Paris.   Starring in “Les Grandes Forêts” on stage at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris.

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.

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Adrienne Corri

Adrienne Corri
Adrienne Corri

Adrienne Corri was born in 1931 Glasgow.   Despite having significant roles in many films, Adrienne Corri is likely to be remembered for one of her smaller parts, that of Mrs. Alexander, the wife of the writer Frank Alexander, in the 1971 A Clockwork Orange. . Though the scene lasts barely three minutes  Corri appeared in many excellent films, notably as Valerie in Jean Renoir‘s The River (1951), as Lara’s mother in David Lean‘s Dr. Zhivago (1965) and in the Otto Preminger thriller Bunny Lake is Missing. She also appeared in a number of horror and suspense films from the 1950s until the 1970s including Devil Girl from MarsThe Tell-Tale HeartA Study in Terror and Vampire Circus. She also appeared as Therese Duval in Revenge of the Pink Panther. The range and versatility of her acting is shown by appearances in such diverse productions as the 1969 science fiction movie Moon Zero Two where she played opposite the ever dependable character actor Sam Kyd (Len the barman), and again in 1969, in Twelfth Night, directed by John Sichel, as the Countess Olivia, where she played opposite Alec Guinness (Malvolio).

Her numerous television credits include Angelica in Sword of Freedom (1958), Yolanda in The Invisible Man episode “Crisis in the Desert”, a regular role in A Family at War and You’re Only Young Twice, a 1971 television play by Jack Trevor Story, as Mena in the Doctor Who story “The Leisure Hive” and guest starred as the mariticidal Liz Newton in the UFO episode “The Square Triangle”. She also was in two episodes of “Danger Man,” the first being the well-known surreal “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove,” (1965) as assistant to Mr. Alexander, Elaine, as well as “Whatever Happened To George Foster,” (1965) in which she played Pauline, a journalist acquaintance of “John Drake.” In 1979 she returned to Shakespeare when she appeared in the BBC Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure, as the earthy, cheroot-smoking keeper of a bawdy house, Mistress Overdone.

She had a major stage career, appearing regularly both in London and in the provincial theaters. There is a story that, when the audience booed on the first night of John Osborne‘s The World of Paul Slickey, Corri responded with her own abuse: she raised two fingers to the audience and shouted “Go fuck yourselves”.[3] Note that Billington only repeats the story, without confirming or providing any evidence of its truth. During the making of Moon Zero Two, she poured a glass of iced water inside James Olson’s rubber space suit, in which uncomfortable state he was obliged to wear it for the remained of the day’s shooting.[4] (as per Wikipedia)

She died in March 2016.

“Guardian” obituary by Ronald Bergan in March 2016:

Adrienne Corri, who has died aged 85, was an actor of considerable range and versatility whose career ranged from the high – with Shakespearean roles alongside Ralph Richardson and Alec Guinness – to the decidedly low, including appearances in many quota quickies and low-budget horror movies that showcased her striking red-haired beauty. Although seen regularly on big and small screens in the 1950s and 60s, Corri is mainly remembered for her participation in the short but notorious gang rape scene from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971). Despite complaining to Kubrick about the multitude of takes, Corri retained a friendship with the director for a short while afterwards. One Christmas she gave him a pair of bright red socks, a reference to the scene, in which she is left naked but for such garments.

She was born Adrienne Riccoboni, with an Italian father, in Edinburgh and while still in her teens attended Rada. She made her first appearance as a sexy schoolgirl in The Romantic Age (1949), a blend of prurience and prudery typical of certain British comedies of the time. After a walk-on role as a young Christian girl in Quo Vadis (1951), shot in Rome, she was off to India to appear in her best film, Jean Renoir’s The River (1951), a poetic evocation of life among the British in post-second world war Bengal. Corri, her red hair standing out in splendid Technicolor, is the most mature, voluptuous and spoiled of three teenage girls, all suffering adolescent pangs for a young war hero. In 1953 Picturegoer magazine described Corri as having “no nice-little-girl-next-door nonsense about her”.

The first of her three-and-a-half Hammer movies (the half being the second part of Journey into Darkness, 1968), was The Viking Queen (1967), a silly sword-and-sandal epic, in which Corri was an anti-Roman pro-druid princess who snaps and snarls and goes to war with relish. In Moon Zero Two (1969), a lunar western, she plays a sheriff on the moon, with holsters built into her thigh-length plastic boots. Vampire Circus (1972) sees Corri as a fiery gypsy with evil intent who runs the supernatural circus playing in a 19th century European town.   Hammer, the “House of Horror”, influenced other British productions, some of which featured Corri. In Devil Girl from Mars (1954), she played a spunky Scottish barmaid who tries to keep her man from being whisked away to Mars by the eponymous alien for breeding purposes. Corridors of Blood (1958) shows Corri as a despicable lowlife character getting Boris Karloff to write false death certificates for the people she and her partner have killed.

In The Tell-Tale Heart (1960), adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s story, a timid librarian is obsessed by Corri, the flower seller who lives across the street and who, like many horror-movie heroines, has a tendency to undress by a window without closing the curtains. There were two films in which Corri bravely disguised her beauty: she played a disfigured prostitute in A Study in Terror (1965), which pitted Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper, and in Madhouse (1974), she was bald and wore a mask to hide her face, mutilated in a car accident. Her character also talks to spiders as if they were her babies.
More prestigious, but less interesting, were her minor roles in three of her friend Otto Preminger’s movies, Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965), Rosebud (1975) and The Human Factor (1979), and as the mother of Lara (Julie Christie) in David Lean’s Dr Zhivago (1965). Among her dozens of television parts were Milady de Winter in the BBC series of The Three Musketeers (1954) and various appearances in episodes of ABC’s Armchair Theatre (1956-60).

She featured in several BBC Plays of the Month, in one of which she was Violet in George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman (1968), alongside Maggie Smith, and she played Olivia in ITV’s Twelfth Night (1969), in a cast that included Richardson (Toby Belch), Guinness (Malvolio), Joan Plowright (Viola) and Tommy Steele (Feste). In Measure for Measure (1979) she was the cheroot-smoking bawdy-house keeper Mistress Overdone, and she was last seen in two episodes of Lovejoy (1992).   Corri also gained acclaim on stage – she was part of the Old Vic company (1962-63), and appeared on Broadway in Jean Anouilh’s The Rehearsal (1963). In 1959, she had a leading role in John Osborne’s The World of Paul Slickey, a bitter musical satire on the tabloid press, which received the ire of critics and public alike. On the first night, Corri is reported to have given the booing audience a two-fingered salute.

In addition to her acting, Corri wrote The Search for Gainsborough (1984), an excellent art “whodunit” in diary form in which she set out to prove that an unattributed portrait of David Garrick that she came across in a run-down theatre in Birmingham was an early work by the young Thomas Gainsborough.

She had an almost decade-long, tempestuous marriage to the actor Daniel Massey, which ended in 1968. “We were agonisingly incompatible, but we had an extraordinary physical attraction,” claimed Massey.

Corri is survived by a son, Patrick, and a daughter, Sarah, from a relationship in the mid-50s with the film producer Patrick Filmer-Sankey.

• Adrienne Corri (Adrienne Riccoboni), actor, born 13 November 1930; died 13 March 2016

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Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper

 

Ronald Bergan’s “Guardian” obituary:

Dennis Hopper, who has died of cancer aged 74, was one of Hollywood’s great modern outlaws. His persona, on and off the screen, signified the lost idealism of the 1960s. There were stages in Hopper’s career when he was deemed unemployable because of his reputation as a hell-raiser and his substance abuse. However, he made spectacular comebacks and managed to kick his dependence on alcohol and cocaine.

Born in Dodge City, Kansas, Hopper, whose father was a post-office manager and mother a lifeguard instructor, expressed an interest in painting and acting at a young age. While still in his teens, he appeared in repertory at Pasadena Playhouse, California, and studied acting with Dorothy McGuire and John Swope at the Old Globe theatre, San Diego.

The year of his 19th birthday, 1955, was extraordinary. Not only did Hopper have substantial parts in three television dramas, but he was cast in supporting roles in James Dean‘s last two films: Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant (released in 1956). The two actors became friends over the few months before Dean, whom Hopper idolised, was killed in a car accident aged 24.

In Rebel Without a Cause, Hopper is the youngest and slightest member of the juvenile delinquent gang that provokes Dean. In Giant, he gave a sensitive performance as the son of Texan oil millionaire Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor; he marries a Mexican girl and wants to “go north” to become a doctor – decisions against his father’s wishes. Although Hopper appeared only briefly with Dean in both movies, the latter had a huge influence on him.

Hopper brought some moody Method mannerisms to bear on his following roles, mostly as callow, trigger-happy villains in westerns, such as Billy Clanton in Gunfight at the OK Corral (1956) – “I don’t know why I get into gunfights. I guess sometimes I just get lonely” – and From Hell to Texas (1958), on which he got into a confrontation with director Henry Hathaway, refusing to take direction for several days. He was also a grumpy, childish Napoleon in the infamous, star-studded The Story of Mankind (1957) and the leader of a street gang, dubbed “Cowboy”, in Key Witness (1960).

In the 1960s, Hopper, who alienated several veteran directors and producers, was pronounced difficult, argumentative and violently temperamental. However, he continued to get work, mostly in minor baddie roles, in major films including Cool Hand Luke (1963), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) and True Grit (1969). He also turned up in the weird space vampire film Queen of Blood (1966), in which he played a clean-cut astronaut who has the blood sucked out of him. The executive producer on the film was Roger Corman, who had just begun his cycle of dope and biker movies, and cast Hopper with Peter Fonda in the seminal acid flick The Trip (1967). The duo together conceived, wrote, with Terry Southern, raised the finance for, and starred in the alienated- youth road movie Easy Rider (1969), with Hopper directing.

Made for $400,000, the film’s combination of drugs, rock music, violence, a counter-culture stance and motorcycles as ultimate freedom machines caught the imagination of the young, made pop icons of Hopper and Fonda on their bikes and took over $16m at the box office. This rose to more than $60m worldwide in the next three years. It also brought Hopper, Fonda and Southern a best screenplay Oscar nomination. Easy Rider, which led to a stream of tacky, imitative pictures with equally loud rock soundtracks, retains legendary status in Hollywood lore, although these self-pitying “flower children” of the 60s now seem as dated as the “bright young things” of the 1920s.

Hopper, meanwhile, was out of control. His eight-year marriage to Brooke Hayward, the daughter of actor Margaret Sullavan, had ended in divorce. In 1970, he married Michelle Phillips, of the Mamas & the Papas, but it lasted eight days. (“The first seven days were pretty good,” Hopper once commented.) In the same year, a raving, naked, drug-fuelled Hopper was arrested while running around Los Alamos, New Mexico.

In 1971, following the success of Easy Rider, Hopper was bankrolled by Universal with $850,000 and given total creative control to make whatever kind of movie he wished. He decamped to Peru with a cast and crew for a self-penned, directed and edited meta-monstrosity, The Last Movie (1971). Starring Hopper as a stuntman with a Christ complex on the set of a western being directed by Samuel Fuller, the film, made for the stoned by the stoned, was stoned by the critics.

Before the film’s limited release, Hopper wrote and appeared in an autobiographical documentary, The American Dreamer (1971), which showed him editing The Last Movie at his home in Taos, New Mexico, spouting hippy philosophy, taking baths with women and shooting guns. This sealed his reputation as the most flipped-out man in the movies, and he spent the next 15 years in foreign films, personal projects, and low-budget arthouse or exploitation movies.

The quality of these veered wildly, but Hopper turned in one of his most memorable performances as Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley character, who has the enigmatic, homicidal title role in Wim Wenders’s The American Friend (1977). High on drugs, he improvised much of his part of the photojournalist buzzing around Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979).

In 1980, Hopper directed his third feature, Out of the Blue, an effective piece of post-hippy American gothic, about a family well outside the mainstream. It focuses on a 15-year-old punk girl (Linda Manz) trying to survive in a world of drunks (Hopper plays an alcoholic father), drug addicts and rapists. Made in Canada, the picture was well received when it was released three years later, assisting Hopper’s reintegration into Hollywood.

In 1983, Hopper entered a drug rehabilitation programme. By then, according to Peter Biskind’s book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, his cocaine intake had reached three grams a day, complemented by 30 beers, marijuana and Cuba Libres. After emerging relatively clean from the programme, he played another alcoholic father – this time to Matt Dillon – in Coppola’s Rumble Fish (1983), now a commanding elder statesman amid the brat-pack cast.

Hopper’s comeback was consecrated in 1986, with his astonishing portrayal of a psychopathic kidnapper in David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet. His performance, in which he inhales an unspecified gas and screams “Mommy” at Isabella Rossellini during bizarre sex scenes, became as much a conversation piece as the film itself. This role as a crazed, drug-dealing sadist was followed with an antithetically subdued and touching performance as an ashamed dad seeking redemption in Hoosiers in the same year. Hopper, who seemed to draw on his down-and-out years, was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar.

Hopper appeared in three further films in 1986 – ranging from a leftwing media terrorist in Riders of the Storm to a mad ex-biker with his own strangely moral code in River’s Edge, and the former Texas Ranger who wants revenge for the chainsaw death of his brother in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. He continued to be extremely busy in the following year, playing a Texan tycoon bumped off by his wife in Black Widow and Molly Ringwald’s father in The Pick-up Artist.

In 1988, Hopper directed Robert Duvall and Sean Penn in a violently realistic cops-versus-street gangs drama, Colors, released to a debate as to whether the film reflected or exacerbated gang conflicts in Los Angeles. A worse fate met his next directorial effort, Catchfire (1989), in which he starred with Jodie Foster as, respectively, kidnapper and responsive victim. Released in an edited version of which he did not approve, the film, at Hopper’s insistence, was attributed to Alan Smithee (the pseudonym for directors preferring to remain anonymous).

In Flashback (1990), as an erstwhile 60s radical activist gone underground, Hopper seems to be playing his own legend, drawing inspiration from his earlier characters. At one stage, he remarks, “It takes more than going down to your local video store and renting Easy Rider to become a rebel.”

This led to similarly offbeat performances, many of them variations on the smiling, charming, cold-blooded killer with a screw loose. He stood out in supporting roles in True Romance (1993) and the box-office smash Speed (1994), and his blackly humorous edge almost redeemed some of the mediocre thrillers he appeared in throughout the 90s, though little saved Chasers (1994), a leaden naval comedy, the seventh and last of the features he directed. In 2008, Hopper appeared in the TV series Crash, the spin-off from the Paul Haggis 2004 film, as a verbose, eccentric, down-on-his-luck music producer. Hopper proudly stated that it was the craziest character he had ever played.

Despite his radical persona, Hopper was a paid-up Republican, though he voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. In that year, he appeared in An American Carol, a flabby, liberal-bashing comedy starring rightwing actors such as Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer and James Woods.

Hopper, who played an art dealer in the 1996 film Basquiat, was also an accomplished painter and sculptor, and a well-connected player on the American art scene. He was a skilled photographer whose subjects included Martin Luther King; fellow artists Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg; and co-stars including Paul Newman and John Wayne. In 2007, he presented the Turner prize at Tate Liverpool.

He was married five times and is survived by four children: a daughter by Brooke Hayward; a daughter by Daria Halprin (the female lead in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point); a son by Katherine LaNasa; and a daughter by Victoria Duffy, his widow.

• Dennis Lee Hopper, actor, photographer and painter, born 17 May 1936; died 29 May 2010

The above “Guardian” obituary can also be accessed online here.

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Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh
Janet Leigh
Janet Leigh
Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh is one of the key players from the Golden Age of Hollywood.   She h as a good number of classic movies to her credit including “Little Women” in 1949, “If Winter Comes”, “Houdini”, “The Vikings”, “The Manchurian Candidate” in 1962 and  “The Fog” in 1980.   She was for a long time married to Tony Curtis and is the mother of screen icon Jamie Lee Curtis. She died in 2004.

Tom Vallance’s “Independent” obituary:

Jeanette Helen Morrison (Janet Leigh), actress: born Merced, California 6 July 1927; married 1942 John Carlyle (marriage dissolved), 1946 Stanley Reames (marriage dissolved 1948), 1951 Tony Curtis (two daughters; marriage dissolved 1962), 1962 Robert Brandt; died Beverly Hills, California 3 October 2004.

Janet Leigh played arguably the most famous screen murder victim in history. As Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’sPsycho, she was the embezzler who, just after having a change of heart, is gruesomely knifed to death in her shower.

The scene, besides being genuinely shocking, has become one of the most analysed sequences on film, and the actress gave countless interviews regarding its filming and her personal attitude towards her role. At the time of the film’s making, she was its biggest star, and part of the scene’s impact was the audacious removal of her character only half an hour into the film.

Though few audiences now come to the film unaware of the ploy,Psycho is a great enough movie for the knowledge to have no effect on its impact. However, it is not the only masterpiece in which Leigh appeared. Her impressive career included such fine works as George Sidney’s Scaramouche, Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil and John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate. She was also one of the most beautiful ingénues of her time, had a marriage to the actor Tony Curtis that made them favourites of the fan magazines for several years, and was the mother of the actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Kelly Curtis.

The Romance Of Rosy Ridge (Remastered)Fearless FaganTwo Tickets To Broadway (Remastered)The Red DanubeConfidentially Connie

Born Jeanette Helen Morrison in Merced, California, in 1927, she was the only child of a sales clerk, Fred Morrison, and his wife Helen, who was of Scandinavian descent. Her childhood was unsettled, as her parents frequently moved from town to town. Leigh owed her discovery to the former MGM star Norma Shearer. In 1946, Leigh’s parents had taken jobs at the Sugar Bowl Ski Lodge in Soda Springs, California, where her father worked as a receptionist and her mother in the dining room. Shearer, on holiday with her husband, spotted Leigh’s photograph on her father’s desk and, taken with her fresh-faced beauty, asked for a copy to show friends in Hollywood.

Though retired, Shearer was influential and owned a large share of MGM stock. The result was a screen test. Leigh was still a student at the College of the Pacific, majoring in music (though already married to her second husband), when signed by MGM in 1947. “We were living over my aunt’s garage and the money was welcome,” she later said.

She had no acting experience, but her pretty looks and bright-eyed wholesomeness made her a pleasing ingénue, though one columnist wrote of an early performance, “She is over-eager, over-nice, over-everything.” The studio renamed her Janet Leigh, and, after some preparation with drama coach Lillian Burns, she tested successfully for the female lead opposite Van Johnson in the rustic drama The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947).

Leigh recalled,

An established actress on the lot, Beverly Tyler, had practically been cast, but later I heard that Louis B. Mayer felt she was a little too sophisticated to play a farm girl. They wanted a more naïve type, and they sure got her.

She played another country girl in The Hills of Home (1948), starring the collie Lassie, and then a hapless young girl who becomes pregnant and commits suicide in an inane soap opera, If Winter Comes (1948). The critic James Agee labelled the film “pretty awful”, but praised “an overdone, but promising performance by Janet Leigh”.

Leigh was then cast in Words and Music (1948), a biography of the composers Rodgers and Hart. Richard Rodgers, who loathed the film’s inaccuracies, later said,

The only good thing about that picture was that they had Janet Leigh play my wife. I found that highly acceptable.

Leigh found the film exciting for the chance to work with Judy Garland. “I actually had a scene with her, which gave me goose bumps.”

In Fred Zinnemann’s bleak film noir Act of Violence (1949), she had her most demanding role to date as a housewife whose husband, a former prison-camp informer, is stalked by a vengeful survivor. She then made a perfect Meg March in Mervyn LeRoy’s loving transcription of Little Women (1949), a perennial favourite. “The picture has such wonderful warmth,” she said:

It kind of brings you back to the values we all had as children. June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O’Brien and myself really did assume the aura of four sisters and had a ball. We cracked up all the time. Mr LeRoy was great – he put up with us and still turned out one of the most beautiful films I was in.

A less successful literary adaptation, of The Forsyte Saga, retitledThat Forsyte Woman (1949), cast her as the trusting June Forsyte who loses her architect lover (Robert Young) to her aunt, Irene (Greer Garson).

Leigh’s charms meanwhile had attracted the attentions of the millionaire producer Howard Hughes:

I was at Mr Mayer’s house one evening and was introduced to this tall, taciturn, thin man with a moustache. It was Howard Hughes, who had just bought RKO studios. As the evening wore on, I realised that he was being overly attentive, which I really did not appreciate. He was twice my age and, besides, I was dating someone else. He made me uncomfortable. Subsequently, I got to know him better, which made me even more nervous about him.

Leigh, who later stated that her parents frequently bickered throughout their lifetime, had married first at the age of 15, when she eloped with a 19-year-old named John Carlyle, but the marriage was annulled four months later. In 1946 she married Stanley Reames, a sailor and aspiring bandleader who hoped to break into the big band league when he journeyed with Leigh to Los Angeles. It was a time when the big-band era was coming to an end and he had little success. In 1948 he and Leigh were divorced, after which Leigh entered into a long relationship with the actor Barry Nelson.

In 1949 Howard Hughes and MGM agreed to a loan-out deal by which Leigh appeared in three RKO films. The first was a bright, romantic comedy, Holiday Affair (1949) co-starring Robert Mitchum, in which Leigh played a “comparison shopper”, who buys goods to compare their prices and value with those of the store that employs her.

Josef von Sternberg (“an unbearable dictator”) directed her second RKO movie, Jet Pilot, in which she played a jet-flying Russian spy converted to “the American way” by John Wayne (as an air-force colonel). It started shooting in December 1949, but was not released until 1957 because of the aviation enthusiast Hughes’s attempts to keep up to date with aircraft developments.

Her last RKO movie was a musical, Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), in which Leigh sang and danced with flair as a college graduate who joins two chorus girls (Ann Miller and Gloria DeHaven) in their search for stardom. Unusually for its time, the film featured television as its background rather than the theatre or movies. Hughes kept the film in production for several months ordering retakes in his search for perfection, though some averred that he simply liked to watch Leigh at work. “His pursuit continued,” said Leigh, “but he never caught me. Tony Curtis, a rising young actor at Universal, did.”

Leigh and Curtis met at a Hollywood party in 1950, and Curtis later recorded his reaction:

Her face was exquisite – and those beautiful bosoms and tiny waist. It just devastated me to look at this woman.

The pair eloped to Greenwich, Connecticut, in June 1951. They made an attractive young couple and were heavily featured in the fan magazines of the day. “There was no bigger pair,” wrote Curtis:

No other husband-and-wife team came close to us until Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, but that was 10 years later. They did it through scandal. We did it through the movies and people’s affection.

At MGM, Leigh continued to play undemanding ingénue roles, in some major films such as a superb version of Rafael Sabatini’s swashbuckler Scaramouche (1951), and Anthony Mann’s gripping western The Naked Spur (1953), and in such inconsequential comedies as Stanley Donen’s Fearless Fagan (1952) and Eddie Buzell’s Confidentially Connie (1953). At Universal, a weak musical with Donald O’Connor, Walkin’ My Baby Back Home (1953) wasted the talents of both its stars, with Leigh’s singing voice inappropriately dubbed by Paula Kelly.

She and Curtis then made a film together, Houdini (1953), a biography of the famous escapologist, directed by George Marshall. Reviews were mixed, but the chemistry of the stars was acknowledged (“Paired, they are a harmonious, ingratiating team,” said Daily Variety), and audiences flocked to see the young couple in their first co-starring feature. It was quickly followed by another, The Black Shield of Falworth (1954), an undemanding swashbuckler.

With her marriage to Curtis, Leigh had acquired a sexier and more mature image, and better roles were coming her way. Rogue Cop(1954), the last film under her MGM contract, was a gritty thriller with Robert Taylor and George Raft, and Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955) was a flawed but fascinating attempt to reconstruct the jazz world of the 1920s.

In My Sister Eileen (1955), a musical version of the hit play first filmed by Columbia in 1943, she was cast as Eileen, the prettier of two sisters who leave their small-town home to try their luck in New York City. The film had been intended as a vehicle for Judy Holliday, who was to play the other sister, Ruth, but she had seen Rosalind Russell play the role in the Broadway musical Wonderful Town, based on the same play. Wary of following in Russell’s footsteps, she turned the film down when the studio refused to pay for the rights to the Broadway score by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

When Holliday was replaced by Betty Garrett, not as big a star at the time, the subsidiary romance between Leigh and Bob Fosse was built up, giving Leigh some charming song-and-dance moments with both Garrett and Fosse (with whom she had a brief affair). With tuneful songs by Jule Styne and Leo Robin, fine performances by Garrett, Leigh and upcoming Jack Lemmon, and outstanding dancing by Fosse and Tommy Rall, My Sister Eileen proved to be one of the best musicals of the Fifties.

Leigh was next asked by Richard Rodgers to audition for the forthcoming Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical Pipe Dream. Offered the role, she first accepted, then turned it down when Curtis pointed out that it would mean being separated from him for at least six months. (Judy Tyler played the part in what became one the composing team’s less successful ventures.)

Leigh’s next film was to be one of her most memorable, Orson Welles’s baroque thriller Touch of Evil (1956). Leigh was initially puzzled when she received a telegram from Welles stating how delighted he was that they were to be working together. She knew nothing about the project, but Welles had correctly surmised that she would be so pleased at the idea of being directed by him that he would get her at a lower price than if he had to negotiate with her agent first.

She thought she had lost the role, though, when she broke her arm shooting a television movie just before filming was to start. At first Welles considered having her character, a young newly wed, sport a broken arm throughout the film, but he changed his mind and managed to shoot in ingenious ways that concealed the injury:

I did the entire movie with a broken arm and no one knew. During the motel sequence and less-clothed scenes, the doctor sawed the cast in half lengthwise. We would take it off, do the shot, and strap it back on again.

Leigh found Welles’s acceptance of improvisation fascinating, and entirely different to her later experience with the meticulously prepared Hitchcock. “With Mr Hitchcock the film is over for him before he even begins shooting.”

The renowned opening scene of Touch of Evil, a continuous shot of several minutes, started with a time bomb being planted in a car, then panned to a drunken man and a blonde leaving a café and getting into the car to drive towards the border. Leigh wrote,

The shot included Chuck [Charlton Heston] and me approaching the checkpoint, waited through our exchanges with the official and the passing through of the drunken man and his bimbo, lingered while we kissed, and zoomed to the convertible and the explosion in the distance. The technical prowess needed for this was beyond my comprehension.

The offbeat film about a corrupt cop and a honeymooning Mexican lawyer (Charlton Heston) who exposes him proved too non-linear for the studio, who later ordered retakes by another director. “Both Chuck and I resented changing it and bastardising it,” said Leigh, “because what we did made it almost normal.” Leigh later stated,

The release of Touch of Evil was disappointing. But it warms the cockles of my heart to at least know that it now is considered a cult classic and honours Orson Welles.

(The film has since been restored to a version approximating Welles’s original cut.)

In 1956 Leigh gave birth to her first daughter, Kelly Lee Curtis, then she returned to the screen as an English princess, Morgana, in the impressive epic The Vikings (1957), directed by Richard Fleischer and co-starring Kirk Douglas and Curtis. After giving birth to a second daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, in 1958, Janet and Tony then starred in an amusing lightweight comedy, The Perfect Furlough (1959), directed by their good friend Blake Edwards, and followed it with another farce, Who Was That Lady? (1960).

Columnists sometimes pondered whether Leigh was sacrificing her career to her marriage, making inconsequential movies with her husband, who in between was acting in such prestigious films asSweet Smell of SuccessThe Defiant OnesSome Like It Hot andSpartacus. But in 1960 Leigh was given a great role and the one for which she will be best remembered, that of Marion Crane in Psycho.

The early sequences of the film, depicting Marion’s stealing of the money, her encounter with a patrolman, her increasingly ominous night drive through the rain, her discovery of the remote Bates Motel and her equivocal conversations with the proprietor, display both director and star at their best. Of the famous shower scene, Leigh wrote,

The brilliant artist Saul Bass did a thorough storyboard for the shower-scene montage. Hitchcock diligently adhered to Bass’s blueprint. The combined endowments of these two gave us a course in fantasy . . . I believe that class of film-making was more effective than the current standard. The censorship obliged creators to find a way to show, without showing, thus giving the viewers liberal range for their imaginations.

Regarding consistent rumours (and Hitchcock’s own statement) that a model was used, Leigh insisted that only the scene where Perkins puts the body in a sheet and drags it to the car utilised a model. “Hitch told me there was no reason to subject me to the discomfort since it was a distant high angle anyway.”

Leigh won an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her performance, but lost to Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry. In her autobiography, There Really Was a Hollywood (1984), Leigh mentions that Psycho was “an enormous commercial success, but oddly not critically acclaimed in the beginning”. She then adds, “And, for the record, no, I do not take showers.”

The Leigh-Curtis marriage had long been the subject of rumours that the couple fought a lot, even on the sets of their films, and in 1957 Curtis took the advice of Blake Edwards and entered analysis. In 1961 Leigh holidayed without him on the Riviera, but had to return to Los Angeles when her father committed suicide in his real estate office. Although he was having financial problems, he left a note blaming marital difficulties, plus a personal, vitriolic note for his wife, which relatives managed to keep from her.

In March the following year Curtis and Leigh separated legally, and a few days later Leigh was found in a coma on the floor of a hotel bathroom in New York, with an accidental pill overdose blamed. The couple’s California divorce became final in July 1963, but Leigh obtained a quickie divorce in Mexico in September 1962, so that she could marry Robert Brandt, a stockbroker. She kept the children, and Curtis wrote in 1993,

Those girls turned out wonderfully, and Janet deserves most of the credit for that . . . She’s a very fine and very gentle and very sensitive woman, and I admire her.

Leigh gave one of her most accomplished performances in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), that of the enigmatic Rosie, who meets a troubled serviceman (Frank Sinatra) during a train journey and falls in love with him in the course of a cryptic conversation:

Rosie was one of my most difficult roles, not in length, but in content. The character was plunked down in the middle of the script, with no apparent connection to anyone, transmitting non sequiturs while sending meaningful rays through her eyes.

A brilliant study of brainwashing and political chicanery, The Manchurian Candidate, in the famous words of George Axelrod, who adapted Richard Condon’s novel, “went from failure to classic without ever passing through success”.

Leigh played another Rosie in the musical Bye Bye Birdie (1963). In the original Broadway show that part had been the leading one, played by Chita Rivera, but the film was heavily adapted to showcase the studio’s new contractee (and protégée of the director George Sidney) Ann-Margret.

After she appeared in the comedy Wives and Lovers (1963) with her old pal Van Johnson, Leigh’s screen roles became more sporadic, though her fine performance as the ex-wife of private eye Paul Newman in the thriller Harper (1966) was lauded as one of the best things in the film.

She made her Broadway début starring with Jack Cassidy in Bob Barry’s thriller Murder Among Friends (1975) and she worked regularly on television. In 1966 she appeared in two episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which were released in Europe as a feature film, The Spy in the Green Hat. She was a guest star on such series as Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote, and in 1975 she starred in an unsettling Columbo episode entitled “Forgotten Lady”, in which she played an ageing, reclusive movie star constantly watching one of her old films – clips from Walkin’ My Baby Back Home. She appeared with her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in John Carpenter’s ghost story The Fog (1980), and more recently had a supporting role in Steve Miner’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), which starred Jamie in the role she had created in the original Halloween(1978).

A lifelong Democrat, Leigh was an active political campaigner in the 1960s, particularly for Adlai Stevenson and then the Kennedys, with whom she became good friends. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson asked her to be ambassador to Finland, but she felt it was too early in her marriage to contemplate separation. For years she worked tirelessly for the charity Share (Share Happiness and Reap Endlessly).

Tom Vallance

The above “Guardian” obituary can also be accessed online here.

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Carol Marsh

Carol Marsh
Carol Marsh

 

 

Carol Marsh is best known for her poignant performance as the waitress Rose in 1949’s classic British film noir “Brighton Rock” opposite Richard Attenborough’s sinister Pinky.

“Telegraph” obituary:

She was only 20 when she read for the part with the producer John Boulting and the star of the film, Richard Attenborough. As the impressionable young woman who falls for and marries the vicious small-time gangster Pinkie Brown (played by Attenborough), Carol Marsh turned in a performance of powerful pathos.

The close of Graham Greene’s novel, in which Rose returns home looking forward to listening to Pinkie’s recorded “love letter”, has been called one of the great harrowing finales of 20th-century English literature.

Before Pinkie is killed falling from the pier, he records a message for the doting, oblivious Rose in a “make-your-own-record” booth: “You wanted a recording of my voice, well here it is. What you want me to say is, ‘I love you’. Well, I don’t. I hate you, you little slut… ”

But the film differs from the book in that, when Rose plays the record, the needle “sticks” – and she hears only “I love you”, repeated over and over again.

Carol Marsh was born Norma Lilian Simpson on May 10 1926 in Southgate, north London, the daughter of an architect and surveyor. She was educated at a convent school in Hammersmith where she often performed in school plays. Her first desire was to sing, and she won a £7-a-year scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied speech and drama, with singing as a second subject.

She went on to the Rank Charm School before joining Rank’s repertory company
at Worthing, where her performances in As You Like It and White Heather won high praise.

After Brighton Rock (for which she changed her name to Carol Marsh) she dyed her hair platinum for the title role in Alice in Wonderland (1949). In the same year she was in three comedies: Marry Me, Helter Skelter, and The Romantic Age, in which she appeared with Mai Zetterling and Petula Clark.

She was the fragile, delicate yet ghoulishly determined Lucy, Christopher Lee’s ill-fated victim, in the 1958 Hammer production of Dracula, the first colour version of Bram Stoker’s classic. In the 1951 film of Scrooge, with Alistair Sim in the title role, Carol Marsh played the old skinflint’s sister Fan, who dies giving birth to his nephew, Fred.

Her career continued into the 1960s with films such as Man Accused and parts in television dramas, among them The Adventures of Sir Lancelotand Dixon of Dock Green. In the 1970s she appeared in the record-breaking West End play The Mousetrap.

She had made her television debut in 1950 in The Lady’s Not For Burning, starring Richard Burton and Alec Clunes. She was Miranda in a children’s version of The Tempest, and Alexandra in Little Foxes (both 1951). She featured in the 1959 Trollope serial The Eustace Diamonds, playing Augusta Fawn, and was Mrs Blacklow in the Arnold Bennett serialLord Raingo of 1966.

She was busier on radio, and was a member of the BBC Drama Rep at intervals between 1966 and 1979.

Later in life, Carol Marsh shunned publicity. But when she was in her sixties, the journalist Nigel Richardson traced and interviewed her for his travel book Breakfast in Brighton (1996).

“People kept telling me, ‘When the next film comes out you’ll be a star forever’,” she told him. “But it never happened.”

By then she was living a reclusive life in Bloomsbury, “with no one to please and no one to hurt me”. When Richardson praised her luminous performance in Brighton Rock, she replied that the thought of how good she might have been “crucified” her: “I’ve never seen the film and I couldn’t bear to.”

Carol Marsh died on March 6; she was unmarried.

The above “Telegraph” obituary can also be accessed online here.

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Stevan Rimkus

Stevan Rimkus
Stevan Rimkus

 

Stevan Rimkus hade his acting debut in the British series “The Chinese Detective” in 1982.   Two years later he had a major role in “Cal”.

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Sam Claflin

Sam Claflin
Sam Claflin

 

Sam Claflin was born in 1986 in Ipswich.   He featured as ‘Philip Swift’ in “Pirates of the Caribbean”.   He also starred on television in “White Heat”.

IMDB entry:

English actor Sam Claflin is the son of a finance officer father and a classroom assistant mother. As a child he was football mad often going to see his local team Norwich City and he was a talented footballer, playing for Norwich schools at city level and Norfolk county level. However, he suffered 2 broken ankles and at 16 gave up thinking about a footballing career. He took up performing arts and a teacher from Costessey High School was impressed with his performance in a school play, and encouraged him to take up drama. He joined the local youth group at Norwich’s Theatre Royal and went on to gain entry to LAMDA drama school in 2006 graduating with a 3 year acting degree in 2009. He is the 3rd eldest of 4 boys, his older brothers Dan and Ben are not involved in drama but his younger brother Joe Claflin commenced at the same drama school in 2009 also doing a 3 year acting degree.

In 2010, Clafin made his debut screen performances in two award-winning series, The Pillars of the Earth (2010) and Any Human Heart (2010). His film debut came playing footballer Duncan Edwards, one of the ‘Busby Babes’, in United (2011). Clafin then came to the attention of cinemagoers across the world when he was cast as Philip in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). Various roles followed, including Jack in White Heat (2012) and Prince William in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). He has been cast as Finnick Odair in the sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013).

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymou

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.

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Donald Pleasance

Donald Pleasance
Donald Pleasance

 

Donald Pleasence was one of the great character actors of film.   He was born in 1919 in Nottinghamshire.  After an extensive stage career he began making films in 1954 in the U.K. in “The Beachcomber”.   His film highlights include “The Wind Cannot Read” in 1958,  “The Great Escape” in 1963 and as the villian ‘Blofeld’ in the James Bond, “You Only Live Twice” in 1967.   He made several movies in Hollywood including the thriller “Halloween” in 1978.   He died in France in 1995.

Adam Benedick & Anthony Hayward’s “Independent” obituary:

Donald Pleasence, actor: born Worksop, Nottinghamshire 5 October 1919; OBE 1994; author of Scouse The Mouse 1977, Scouse in New York 1978; married 1940 Miriam Raymond (two daughters; marriage dissolved 1958), 1959 Josephine Crombie (two daughters; marriage dissolved 1970), 1970 Meira Shore (one daughter; marriage dissolved), 1989 Linda Woolam; died St Paul de Vence, France 2 February 1995.

The odd man out: master of low cunning and of sinister poise, a threat to anyone’s peace of mind, his own as often as not. He specialised in conspicuous self-effacement. And if his roles happened not to be sinister or self-effacing he made them so. His acting was decisive, distinct, disconcerting and dreadful in the sense that he filled with fascinated fear those who watched him. Both on stage, and off.

He was odd the first time I ever saw him nearly half a century ago in the golden days of the Arts Theatre. It was a play by Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis Clos, done into English as Vicious Circle and acted by Alec Guinness. Beatrix Lehmann, Betty Ann Davies. Peter Brook, in his twenties, directed. Pleasence was the watcher, the bell-hop, a sort of Buttons. A tiny part and supposedly self-effacing but of course unforgettable, like most of his theatrical acting. The knack of being glaringly off-centre rarely failed to catch the imagination even if the knackgrew a touch predictable.

Pleasence could be pleasant. After spells in rep at Birmingham and Bristol he was charming for example as the timorous North Country shoemaker Willie Mossop in Hobson’s Choice (1952) – again at the then invaluable Arts – and after tiny parts in London and New York with Olivier’s company in Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra had a play of his own, Ebb Tide (1952), acted at the Edinburgh Festival which was judged good enough to go to the Royal Court.

Pleasence went to Stratford-upon-Avon and turned up as Lepidus in the Redgrave-Ashcroft Antony and Cleopatra. He was the Dauphin to Dorothy Tutin’s Joan of Arc in another Brook production, Anouilh’s The Lark (1956); but the part that made him famous was the tramp in Pinter’s The Caretaker (1960), again at the Arts.

No one who saw him is likely to forget the cringing, whining wheedling, fearful and fearsome ambiguity of that tramp with his dreams of getting down to Sidcup. The cunning way in which he dealt with those two strange brothers in those seedy premises, andhis beady-eyed resolve to have things his way brought the play into sinister but comic focus.

Pleasence’s voice, at once incisive, rasping, calculated, cold, sounded like iron filings. When the play went to the West End and thence to Broadway he went with it. He had been perfect. He had made the oily, wily, anxious little character his own; and when the play was revived in 1990 there was no question that the actor who created the part should play it again. He did so superbly.

He loomed impressively in other West End plays. As Anouilh’s Poor Bitos (1967), solitary, self-pitying, eery, he sent shivers down most spines and as the Eichmann-type character in Robert Shaw’s The Man in The Glass Booth (1967, directed by Pinter) he went back to Broadway and won the London Variety Award for Stage Actor of the Year (1968).

Variety? Pleasence’s talents as an actor “did not that way tend”; but so what? His line was unrivalled in its nervy disclosure of fearful imaginings and private suffering, unrelieved solitude and sweaty suspicion. Small wonder if Pinter chose him againfor a double bill of his plays, The Basement and Tea Party in 1970 at the Duchess, where The Caretaker had thrived a decade earlier.

When however Pleasence had the misfortune to experience in Simon Gray’s Wise Child the kind of swift failure in which Broadway specialises – he played the transvestite role of Mrs Artminster created in London by Alec Guinness – he turned more and more totelevision and the cinema. He always dreaded being out of work.

Having settled for the screen, big or small, he might not have got the kicks which the theatre brought him (and us) but his nightmare of unemployment receded. His love of the stage had once or twice cost him dear. Had he not turned down a fortune from a film offer to play the title role in The Caretaker? Had he not gone on to film it for nothing when more Hollywood gold had beckoned?

Still, his re-creation of his original role on stage five years ago in a revival of The Caretaker showed that at 70 he had lost none of that indefinably eery power to give us the shivers with a blue-eyed stare. Had it come from art alone or from his wartime experiences?

Having registered as a conscientious objector, he joined the RAF when he saw how fellow-pacifists regarded without apparent emotion or guilt the Nazi bombing of London; and as a member of a bomber’s crew he flew 60 missions over Germany before being shotdown and imprisoned.

Adam Benedick Well-known as a star of the cinema screen, giving menacing performances in the title role of Dr Crippen (1962) and as the psychiatrist Sam Loomis in the Halloween series of supernatural chillers, Donald Pleasance also brought his sinister looks to television in a variety of productions, from a controversial Fifties version of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to appearances in Armchair Mystery Theatre and The Falklands Factor, writes Anthony Hayward. His piercing, psychotic stare, hushed voiceand bald head were his trademarks, in almost 200 films and as many television programmes over half a century.

Born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, the son of a station master, Pleasance followed his father into the railways on leaving school by becoming clerk-in-charge at Swinton station, in south Yorkshire, but his ambition was to be an actor. When the chance came, with Jersey Rep in 1939, he started as an assistant stage manager, before making his debut as Hareton in Wuthering Heights. His first London stage appearance was as Valentine in Twelfth Night, three years later.

Shortly afterwards, he joined the RAF for war service as a radio operator and, after being shot down, was a prisoner-of-war from 1944 until 1946, when he returned to the theatre. After his successful stage work with Laurence Olivier in New York and at the Royal Court, London, and Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Pleasence made his name as a film actor.

He made his big-screen debut as Tromp in the 1954 picture The Beachcomber and followed it with such notable films as Look Back in Anger (1959), The Flesh and the Fiends (1960, as a 19th-century grave-robber), Spare the Rod (1961, as an embittered headmaster with a penchant for corporal punishment), Dr Crippen (which established him as a brilliant player of evil roles), The Great Escape (1963, as Blythe, the forger of visas and other documents) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).

However, his prolific screen appearances – which in some years meant he starred in half-a-dozen pictures – were not all successful. “I make films for money,” he once said. “I never, ever watch them.” In the James Bond feature You Only Live Twice (1967),he played the badly scarred, wonky-eyed arch-villain Ernest Blofeld, the evil boss of SPECTRE, although he was subsequently considered not ideal for the role and replace by Telly Savalas and Charles Gray, who dispensed with the facial disfigurement.

Pleasence was back on top form in Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972), in the role of Thomas Cromwell, gleefully weeding out opponents to the King’s divorce. He appeared alongside Michael Caine in both Kidnapped (1971, playing the niggardly Uncle Ebenezer in the Robert Louis Stevenson classic) and the spy thriller The Black Windmill (1974, as the twitchy paymaster). Pleasence was given a new lease of life as Dr Sam Loomis, the psychiatrist haunted by evil, in the Halloween series of supernatural horror films, starting in 1978, and later appeared in Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog (1991).

Although his television appearances were infrequent after he gained film stardom, they were many and usually made their mark. He made his debut as early as 1946, in I Want to Be A Doctor, and eight years later won acclaim for his performances in the BBC’s 1984, alongside Peter Cushing. The adaptation, by Nigel Kneale, author of the Quatermass Experiment, caused an outcry among viewers because it was screened on a Sunday evening, a time when they were used to enjoying more sedate dramas.

Later Pleasence became known as the presenter and producer of Armchair Mystery Theatre for several years (starting in 1960), also acting in some episodes. He went on to perform on American and Canadian television. appearing in episodes of The Twilight Zone, Orson Welles’s Great Mysteries and Columbo. He also appeared in Centennial (1978-79), as Samuel Purchase in the series based on James Michener’s epic novel, Dennis Potter’s Blade on the Feather (1980), as an ageing Establishment figure suddenly exposed as a homosexual and Soviet spy – in the wake of the Anthony Blunt scandal – The Barchester Chronicles (1982), in which he gave a touching performance as the Rev Septimus Harding in a seven-part adaptation of Trollope, The Falkland s Factor (1983), DonShaw’s controversial Play for Today that featured him as Dr Samuel Johnson, who opposed a Falklands war in 1770 when the Spanish attempted to invade the islands and oust the British.

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