Archive for October, 2015
Jill Baker (born 1952) is a British actress.
Baker made a brief appearance in Only Fools and Horses, in the episode “The Second Time Around“, as Del Boy (David Jason)’s ex-fiance, Pauline Harris. She was married to actor Bob Peck from 1982 until his death in 1999. They had three children.
Her theatre work includes the premiere of The Secret Rapture in 1988. She has also been working as an actress in British television since 1975. Along with playing a recurring character in Rides and Fish, she has made cameo appearances in individual episodes of New Tricks, Blore M.P, The Professionals (1980), Only Fools and Horses (1981), “Last Bus to Woodstock (A Morse TV-Mystery) (1988),Prime Suspect(1995), Secret Smile (2005),Waking the Dead, Holby City, (2007), Spooks (2008) and Wallander, Episode 1 in 2008. She has also appeared as Lady de Lesseps in Shakespeare in Love. In 2009 she appeared in the ITV DramaWhatever It Takes, In 2010 she appeared in the ITV Drama Midsomer Murders. In 2014, she appeared in Happy Valley as Helen Gallagher.
Biography from the Irish Theatre Institute:
Phyllis was born in Dublin in 1920. At the age of 13 she was accepted into the Abbey School and at 14 made her Abbey debut in Denis Johnston’s play The Moon and the Yellow River. In 1937, at 16 she played ‘Brigid’, the lead, in Paul Vincent Carroll’s play Shadow and Substance, directed by Hugh Hunt, and was then recommended for membership of the Abbey Company. With the appointment of Ernest Blythe as the Abbey’s managing director, Phyllis left the company and pursued a successful freelance acting career. By that time, 1944, she had performed in over 28 Abbey and Peacock productions and worked with the greats of Irish theatre including Eileen Crowe, Cyril Cusack, Barry Fitzgerald, F.J. McCormick, Ria Mooney and Shelah Richards.
Phyllis moved into theatrical management in 1956 and set up Orion Productions. Then, in 1958, she formed Gemini Productions with the actor Norman Rodway. The company was based for many years in the Eblana Theatre (at Busáras) and established itself very quickly as a leading producer of new Irish writing. Gemini had very important and successful relationships with many leading Irish writers including Hugh Leonard and John B. Keane. In the mid 1960s, Gemini had huge commercial success with The Field (Ray McAnally as Bull McCabe) and Big Maggie (Marie Kean as Maggie). Also, in the 1960s she produced world premiere productions of Eugene McCabe’s King of the Castle, Máiréad Ni Ghráda’s An Triail (English language version On Trial) and Tom Murphy’s The Orphans. Gemini produced many world premieres of Hugh Leonard plays, often in association with the Dublin Theatre Festival. Her most significant Leonard production was Stephen D at The Gate for the 1962 Dublin Theatre Festival which, following a capacity sellout run in Dublin, travelled to the West End and launched T.P. McKenna and Norman Rodway’s careers in the UK.
In the mid-1970s, Phyllis was instrumental in setting up the state funded Irish Theatre Company and was its first Artistic Director. ITC was founded “to present plays and theatrical entertainments of a high standard round Ireland”. ITC had also a remit to give employment to actors and throughout Phyllis’ producing career she was a significant employer of actors and was especially keen to spot new acting, directing and playwriting talent.
Phyllis produced more that 100 plays and revues over her long career in theatre of which about 40 were new plays or adaptations. For many years in the Eblana Theatre, Gemini produced revues with some of Ireland’s leading theatre names including Des Keogh, Rosaleen Linehan and Fergus Linehan. The Black Rosie revue, written by Fergus Linehan, is considered to be one of Gemini’s Productions’ highlights.
In later years Phyllis made a return to acting and worked on a number of productions with director, Michael Scott including his Cuchulain Cycle.Phyllis’ final stage performance was in 2000 in Deborah Warner’s production of Medea starring Fiona Shaw for the Abbey Theatre.
Phyllis received a number of awards including honorary life membership of Irish Actors Equity and in 2002 she was recipient of the Special Tribute Award at the Irish Times/ESB Theatre Awards. She wrote and published her memoire, The Company I Kept, in 1996.
Phyllis married Sean Colleary in 1941 and had two children Jacqui and Graham (Gregg). Phyllis died on 7th June 2011.
The above biography can also be accessed online here.
Martin Crosbie (1911 – 10 February 1982) was an Irish tenor and older brother to Paddy Crosbie of The School Around the Corner.
Martin, who was affectionately known as “The Miller’s daughter”, a song he made his own, started in show business in his early 30s
The eldest in a family of four, he was christened John Martin but was known as Mossy to his family and friends. His mother and father came from Wexford town. His father, Martin Crosbie, was a foreman-fitter and turner on the Permanent way, that is the tracks section, of the old Dublin United Tramways. Before coming to Dublin, he had earned quite a reputation in his native town, both as a singer and comedian. He won the Wexford Feis gold medal in 1904 in the tenor competition. Martin’s paternal grandmother was a Bolger. She was reputed to have had a three-octave voice, and used sing in Bride Street Church in Wexford. So, quite a history of singers in his family.
Before his singing career began Martin worked as a fitter / mechanic in CIE’s Summerhill depot.
“One night in the late 1930’s himself and the legendary Billy Morton went to a show in the Olympia. In the bar during the interval Billy and other friends talked him into singing a song. One song led to another and soon there were more people in the bar than in the audience. The manager came in and said if he could keep an audience away from the show he should be able to keep them in their seats the following week. That’s how he joined Lorcan Bourke Productions. Martin caused a bit of stir the next Monday night when he cycled to the Olympia, walked through the stage door, hung up his bicycle clips, and went straight out on stage to sing. I didn’t know anything then about using dressing-rooms and make-up he had laughed.” 
His CIE supervisor, recognised a genuine talent and gave him a couple of months leave of absence, and pretty soon Martin was a star of variety at the Royal and the Capitol where the “Miller’s Daughter” legend was born in 1942.
It was when he was playing Belfast with Harry Bailey that he met (his wife) a young girl, just left school, called Thelma Ramsey. When he came back to the Royal in Dublin, Thelma was the accompanist. Pretty soon they were “walking out”
They toured with some of showbiz’s big names, including famous comic Max Miller. They missed out on playing the London Palladium with Max as he was allowed to bring only one other act. A halfpenny was tossed and they lost. “Imagine losing the Palladium with a halfpenny… wouldn’t have minded had it been half-a-crown!” 
He was a regular in the Clontarf Castle Cabaret from 1964 where he continued to perform six nights a week even when his health started to fail him in the early ’80’s. In 1979, he received the Variety Artists’ Trust Society award for his contribution to Irish show-business.
He made numerous Television appearances, some of which still survive on R.T.E. and Ulster Television etc. He was a member of Equity and appeared in small parts in most of the Films made in Ireland at that time.
The above entry from “Wikipedia” can also be accessed online here.
May Hallatt was born on May 1, 1876 in Scarborough, England as Marie Effie Hullatt. She was an actress, known for Black Narcissus (1947), Separate Tables (1958) and The Girl of the Canal (1945). She died on May 20, 1969 in London, England.
Article on May Hallatt from Tina Aumont’s Eyes” website:
Cheery and diminutive, the British actress May Hallatt only appeared in a handful of prominent movies in her thirty year career, but she managed to create some memorable characters along the way. A versatile actress with stage experience she could be spotted in some notable box office favourites as well as works by such eminent writers, including Dickens, Jane Austen and Mark Twain.
Born Marie Effie Hullatt in Scarborough, England, on May 1st 1876, May Hallatt made her screen debut in 1934, although her first role of note came five years later when she played the wife of Wilfred Hyde-White’s Lord Battersby in ‘The Lambeth Walk’ (’39). A jolly little musical based on the play ‘Me and My Girl’; it told the story of a lowly cockney (comedian Lupino Lane) who unwittingly inherits a title and castle. After playing a canal boat worker in Charles Crichton’s Ealing Studio quickie ‘Painted Boats’ (’45), Hallatt’s first memorable role was as the feisty caretaker Angu Ayah in Powell & Pressburger’s religious drama ‘Black Narcissus’ (47). Following bit parts in the music hall drama ‘Trottie True’ (’49) and the excellent ‘The Pickwick Papers’ (’52), May played an eccentric passenger on board a train packed with gold, in the mediocre ‘Lady Vanishes’ knock-off ‘The Gold Express’ (’55).
The role that Hallatt will forever be remembered for is her wonderful turn as the solitary Miss Meacham, in Delbert Mann’s Oscar-winning drama ‘Separate Tables’ (’58). A part she originated on stage, Hallatt was a joy to watch and stole every scene she was in as the shuffling, sports-loving spinster. Other notable movies at this time included Alec Guinness’s pet project ‘The Horses Mouth’ (’58), and Jack Clayton’s superb adult drama ‘Room at the Top’ (’59).
After playing chatty neighbour Mrs Bates in a 1960 television production of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’, Hallatt had a small yet funny part in the terrific Terry-Thomas comedy ‘Make Mine Mink’ (’60). Aged 87, Hallatt’s final movie appearance was as aunt Sarah in the entertaining drama ‘Bitter Harvest’ (’63), which starred the tragic Janet Munro as a young Welsh dreamer in search of happiness.
The mother of familiar Seventies actor Neil Hallett, May died in London on May 20th 1969, she was 93. Another of those wonderfully eccentric characters, May Hallatt only appeared in a couple of dozen features, but she brought so much to even the smallest of roles, and I think she would have made an ideal tweed-wearing Miss Marple.
Favourite Movie: Separate Tables
Favourite Performance: Separate Tables
The above article can also be accessed online here.
“Guardian” obituary from 1997:”Marjorie Reynolds, a blonde newcomer,” enthused Variety, “is a comely looker of much talent, poise and versatility, who will certainly calendar her own professional prominence from the springboard of this Crosby- Astaire filmusical.” The curious use of the word “calendar” (to denote “gain”) can be explained by the fact that the film under review was Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn (1942). The use of the word “newcomer” is also curious; the 21-year-old Miss Reynolds was then the veteran of more than 40 films, having made her screen debut 19 years earlier.
Born Marjorie Goodspeed, she was taken to Los Angeles as a small child and enrolled in dance classes by her ambitious mother. As Marjorie Moore, she was soon appearing on the silent screen with Ramon Navarro in Scaramouche (1923), and with Viola Dana in Revelation (1924). After a brief retirement, she returned to make her first talkie, John Barrymore’s Svengali (1931). She played small roles in College Humour (1933) and The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935), both of which starred her future leading man Bing Crosby. After College Holiday (1936), Broadway Melody of 1938 and Champagne Waltz (both 1937), she appeared with Tex Ritter in Tex Rides With the Boy Scouts (1938), the first of 14 small-budget westerns she would make in the next four years, opposite such sagebrush stars as Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Bob Baker, George O’Brien, Tim Holt and Roy Rogers. In between she toiled in equally low-rent thrillers.
Less than a week before Holiday Inn went into production, Paramount Pictures had yet to find a suitable leading lady. Their problem was solved when the choreographer Danny Dare recommended an actress/ dancer with whom he had worked on various musicals. The studio wasted precious time searching for Marjorie Moore before learning that she’d changed her name in 1937, after marrying one Jack Reynolds.
Once they had found and screen-tested her, she was eagerly signed and flung into dance rehearsals with Fred Astaire. True, she wasn’t much of a singer, but since when has that ever posed a problem to Hollywood? Martha Mears dubbed her vocals, and Paramount were so pleased with her performance in Holiday Inn that they awarded her a seven-year contract, and cast her opposite Crosby again in Dixie (1943), the alleged biography of the composer Dan Emmett, in which, as his loyal wife, she inspired the writing of the title song. She gave an impressive dramatic performance as a Viennese refugee in Fritz Lang’s film version of Graham Greene’s Ministry of Fear (1945), and made a ravishingly beautiful princess in the Bob Hope romp, Monsieur Beaucaire (1946). She was loaned to Universal for one of Abbott and Costello’s better vehicles, The Time of Their Lives (1946), in which she and Costello played ghosts doomed to haunt a stately mansion until they had proved they weren’t traitors during the American Revolution. In a clever special effect, the two ghosts had a head-on collision, but simply passed through, ending up wearing one another’s clothes. Reynolds, who was pregnant throughout the filming, said later, “I just wanted to get it over with.”
When her Paramount contract expired, she appeared in Mario Lanza’s first starring film, That Midnight Kiss (1949), and then in a trio of “B” pictures that suggested the action quickies she ground out in the 1930s: Customs Agent, The Great Jewel Robbery and Rookie Fireman (all 1950). For MGM she made a film calculated to endear the studio to the House Un-American Activities Committee. Called Home Town Story (1951), and financed by a top executive of General Motors, it was the story of a liberal newspaper editor who learned that Big Business wasn’t a heartless monolith, when his little sister was buried in a cave-in, and the owner of the town’s largest firm organised her rescue. Marilyn Monroe made an early screen appearance in this oddity.
Reynolds entered television when William Bendix chose her to play his dutiful wife in the sitcom The Life of Riley (1953-58). After Riley, there were guest appearances in various television series, but few films, the last of which was The Silent Witness (1962).
In 1987, asked by a journalist from Classic Image magazine whether she would welcome a big screen comeback, Marjorie Reynolds replied, “Sure, I’d like to click and become a box office tornado, but, if I don’t, I’ve got no kick coming. Personally, I like Hollywood and I like pictures. But that doesn’t mean I have any illusions about either.”
Marjorie Goodspeed (Marjorie Reynolds), actress: born Buhl, Idaho 12 August 1921; married 1937 Jack Reynolds (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1952), 1953 Jon M. Haffen (died 1985); died Manhattan Beach, California 1 February 1997.
The above “Guardian” obituary can also be accessed online here.
“Guardian” obituary from 2001.
Walston was born in New Orleans, and made his professional debut for the Community Players in Houston, Texas, in 1938, playing Buddy in High Tor. It took him a few years, after working as a printer and reporter, before he returned to the profession. From playing an attendant in the Maurice Evans Hamlet in 1945 in New York, he went on to appear on Broadway in The Front Page, The Alchemist, and Tennessee Williams’s Summer And Smoke, before landing the role of the conniving marine, Luther Billis, in the touring production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific in 1950. He repeated the role for two years at London’s Drury Lane, staged by Joshua Logan, who also directed Walston in the 1958 film version. Walston survived Logan’s stodgy direction, stealing every scene in which he appeared.
Before he made his film debut in 1957 as Cary Grant’s naval sidekick in Stanley Donen’s Kiss Them For Me, Walston sang in three more Broadway musicals, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Me And Juliet, Harold Arlen’s House Of Flowers and George Abbott’s Damn Yankees. In the last, for which he received a Tony, and in the 1958 movie, Walston played a deliciously wicked and frustrated Devil in the human form of an entrepreneur called Mr Applegate, stopping the show with Those Were The Good Old Days.
In 1960, Walston made The Apartment, in which he was one of the bosses using underling Jack Lemmon’s pad for assignations; a shifty chauffeur bringing some reality into the risible soap opera Portrait in Black; a title character in Convicts 4, and a professor trying to help student Anthony Perkins pass an exam to permit him to play in a basketball game in Josh Logan’s Tall Story.
In 1963 Walston appeared as Mr Quimby, the shop manager in the Frank Tashlin-Jerry Lewis comedy, Who’s Minding The Store?, and returned to the big screen in Kiss Me, Stupid (1964). He got the part of Orville J Spooner when Peter Sellers suffered a heart attack. “Both my wife and I sat down and read the script,” Walston recalled, “and I said when I finished it, ‘It’s not good, it’s not good.’ But one doesn’t say that about a Billy Wilder- IAL Diamond script. The feeling was that they would repair it.” They did, and Walston was amusing as a jealous piano teacher and would-be songwriter in Climax, Nevada, who sends his wife away while horny crooner Dean Martin is staying with him, hiring local hooker Kim Novak to play his wife.
“I had a line, when I first bring Kim Novak into the house: ‘Well, it’s not very big but it’s clean.’ And they wanted it done with a slight look from her as if it meant my cock. ‘Hey, Ray,’ Wilder said. ‘Vat are the keedies gonna tink about you ven this film is released?’
“I replied, ‘What are people gonna say about you? How do you think you’re gonna get away with some of this stuff?’ “
IAL Diamond’s wife had her own thoughts: “They should have waited for Peter Sellers to recover, Ray Walston was too unattractive a personality.” She was right in that Walston seldom heeded the exhortatory song You Gotta Have Heart from Damn Yankees, his performances tending towards caricature.
Walston worked on into the 1990s playing the race announcer in on a scam in The Sting (1973), one of the two killers pursuing Gene Wilder in Silver Streak (1976), Poopdeck Pappy in Robert Altman’s Popeye (1981), and the quirky schoolteacher in Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), a part he repeated in the TV series Fast Times. Aged 75, Walston gave one of his best, and warmest, performances in Of Mice And Men (1992) as the veteran farmworker Candy, heartbroken at his old dog having to be put down.
Walston is survived by his wife, daughter and two grandchildren.
The above “Guardian” obituary can also be accessed online here.