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Archive for May, 2016

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Bernard Bresslaw

 

 

“Independent” obituary by Dick Vosburgh from 1993:

I CLEARLY remember the day I met Bernard Bresslaw. So, I’ll bet, can anyone who met him.

It was 1951. He was leaning his 6ft 7in frame against the wall of the Rada canteen as I walked in. One of us greeted the other and we started talking. Realising I was an American, he began pumping me, gently but thoroughly, about transatlantic pronunciation, with particular reference to the Deep South. This was typical; I don’t think Bernie wasted a minute at Rada, and it paid off when he won the academy’s Emile Littler Award as Most Promising Actor.

He was born in Stepney, his father an impecunious tailor’s cutter. Bernie became an actor thanks to the efforts of his English teacher. (In typically stage-struck fashion, he often likened her to ‘Miss Moffatt’, the dedicated schoolmistress in the Emlyn Williams play The Corn is Green.) Impressed by the young giant’s erudition and acting potential, she encouraged him to try for a Rada scholarship. That’s how he came to be there.   After graduation, Bresslaw gained practical experience by touring hospitals, army camps and prisons as Lachie, the arrogant, doomed Scot in John Patrick’s The Hasty Heart. In 1953 he made his West End stage debut at the Duchess Theatre, playing Roary MacRoary, an Irish wrestler, in The MacRoary Whirl by Gerald McLarnon. It was advertised as a farcical comedy, but audiences and critics detected precious few laughs and its whirl was short.   Far more successful was Maxwell Anderson’s Broadway play The Bad Seed (1955) at the Aldwych Theatre. In this chilling study of an eight-year- old murderess, Bresslaw played ‘Leroy’, a prying janitor who wound up as another of the moppet’s victims. He gave an effectively oily performance and his American accent was, unsurprisingly, faultless.

He had begun making films in 1954, starting with the role of a gullible castle guard in Men of Sherwood Forest, a Hammer second feature. In 1957 Norman Wisdom starred in Up in the World, the tale of a lovable window cleaner who is framed for a crime and sentenced to 25 years. Bresslaw played his lugubrious cellmate, and when the writer and ace talent-spotter Sid Colin saw the film he immediately decided to write the young actor a key role in Granada Television’s new sitcom The Army Game. The series was an enormous success and Bresslaw’s ‘Private ‘Popeye’ Popplewell’ character made him an instant star. The feature film version that quickly followed took its title from his catchphrase I Only Arsked], his records ‘The Army Game Theme’ and ‘Mad Passionate Love’ remained high in the charts for many weeks, and he duly followed in the footsteps of Max Bygraves, Beryl Reid, Harry Secombe, Benny Hill and Tony Hancock by joining the cast of Educating Archie on radio.   In 1958 Bresslaw starred, along with Bruce Forsyth and Charlie Drake, in Sleeping Beauty at the London Palladium. Because of his Army Game popularity, he played ‘Popeye’, a private in the Tyrolean Army. He always said Sleeping Beauty was his all- time favourite booking; also in the show was a strikingly statuesque dancer who, in 1959, became Mrs Bresslaw. The kind of couple guaranteed to give divorce lawyers ulcers, Bernie and Liz produced three splendid sons, Jonathan, Mark and James.   But soon the media incorrectly decided the Popplewell character represented the limit of Bernie’s ability and the offers ceased. ‘OK,’ he reasoned, ‘if film and television jobs are playing hard to get, there’s always my first love, the Theatre.’ So he started going where the work was, tackling Sheridan, Marlowe, Ionesco, Ustinov, Galsworthy, Pinero, Chekhov, Shaw, Moliere, Cooney – you name it. There was Shakespeare too: he did Twelfth Night for the British Council, playing a creditable Sir Toby Belch. (‘It must be the first time,’ he said to me, ‘that Sir Toby’s ever been played by Sir Andrew Aguecheek]’) He played Falstaff in two national tours with the Oxford Playhouse company, and began a long association with the Open Air Theatre. (This summer he was to have appeared in Regent’s Park as Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew and as Merlin in Rodgers and Hart’s A Connecticut Yankee. He collapsed in his dressing room before a performance of The Shrew.)

In 1965 Bresslaw made Carry on Cowboy. The first of his 14 Carry Ons, it cast him as the Indian brave ‘Little Heap’, towering over his father, ‘Chief Big Heap’ (Charles Hawtrey). The juiciest Bresslaw characters from these films are ‘Sockett’, the sinister butler in Carry On Screaming (1966) and the gutteral tribal leader ‘Bungdit Din’ in Carry On Up the Khyber or The British Position in India (1968).   In 1969 – between Carry On Camping and Carry On Up the Jungle – he took over from Laurence Olivier as AB Rayam, the wily lawyer in the National Theatre production of Somerset Maugham’s Home and Beauty. He also worked for the English Stage Company, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Young Vic and the Chichester Festival Theatre, for whom he played the homicidal Jonathan Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace.  Bresslaw was a versatile pantomime performer, playing Dame in Jack and the Beanstalk, Ugly Sister in Cinderella and Bernard the Bad in Babes in the Wood. In 1982 he appeared as Abanazar in Aladdin at Richmond. (Ironically, his Widow Twankey was Les Dawson, who died the day before him, also aged 59.)

In 1983 the director Peter Yates (another of Bresslaw’s fellow students at Rada) gave him his most impressive film role. In the dollars 27m Krull he played ‘Rell’, the terrifying Cyclops. In The Science Fiction Film Source Book, David Wingrove praises the movie’s dazzling visuals, particularly ‘the Beast itself, Bernard Bresslaw brilliantly disguised’.   Last summer he appeared at a revue in Blackpool, for which Barry Cryer and I wrote material. Although he had been unwell for some time, our star did us proud, deftly playing an actor laddie, a lecherous landlady, a bibulous heckler, a frowsy poet and a George-Formbyesque Frankenstein Monster. After the show one night, a man came up to us in a restaurant and said, ‘Mr Bresslaw, I must tell you, I loved you in The Ladykillers.’ Bernie smiled and accepted the compliment with thanks. Of course, he didn’t play ‘One Round’, the over-the-hill prize fighter in that 1955 film. Danny Green played the part; Bernie was only 21 at the time. But he certainly wasn’t going to embarrass the man by correcting him. That would have been out of character

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

 

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Eamon Morrissey

Eamon Morrissey
Eamon Morrissey
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Patrick Wymark

Patrick Wymark
Patrick Wymark

IMDB Entry:

Patrick Wymark was born on July 11, 1920 in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England as Patrick Carl Cheeseman. He was an actor, known for Where Eagles Dare (1968), Repulsion (1965) and The Power Game (1965). He was married to Olwen Wymark. He died on October 20, 1970 in Melbourne, Australia

Children: Jane Wymark (b. 31 October 1952), Rowan Wymark ( b. 1954), Dominic Wymark (b. 1960), Tristram Wymark (b. 1962).   He died just as the film he was currently appearing in, Cromwell (1970), was about to be released in the U.S.   Was offered the part of “Theodore Maxible” (played by Marius Goring) in Doctor Who (1963): Evil Of The Daleks” but illness prevented him from taking the role.   Born and raised in the Grimsby area. Wymark View is named after him.
Died of a heart attack three days before opening in an Australian run of Anthony Shaffer‘s “Sleuth”, in which he was to play author Andrew Wyke, at Melbourne’s Playbox Theatre in October 1970. His body was discovered by the actor John Fraser.   Collapsed onstage at the Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne in October 1969, due to a severe nasal hemorrhage.
British character actor with radio and stage experience from 1951. Studied at University College in London and learned acting at the Old Vic Theatre School. Toured South Africa in 1952 and subsequently appeared in many Shakespearean roles in Stratford-upon-Avon. Busy television actor from the late 1950’s, popular as ruthless tycoon John Wilder in The Plane Makers (1963). Also noted for his voice-overs for Winston Churchill in two documentary features.
Was asked to play The Second Doctor in Doctor Who (Source Ice Warriors DVD Production Notes).
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John Cronin

John Cronin
John Cronin

John Cronin was born in 1967 in Dublin.   He was part of the cast of “The Commitments” in 1989.

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Irish Actors – Signatures

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Eleanor Powell

 

 

 

 

Eleanor Powell
Eleanor Powell

TCM Overview:

Ever-smiling, world-class tap artist who danced her way through a dozen successful MGM musicals in the late 1930s and early 40s before retiring from the screen–save for a guest role in “The Duchess of Idaho” (1950). Typically cast as the determined hopeful whose talent and determination get her to the top, Powell was not a major actress, but she did display exuberance and a certain tongue-in-cheek charm, and her aggressive, androgynous dancing style made her as familiar a sight in top hat and tails as Fred Astaire.Powell’s best films include “Broadway Melody of 1936” (1935), which made her a star, its two sequels from 1938 and 1940 (the latter featuring her legendary “Begin the Beguine” duet with Astaire), and “Born to Dance” (1936). Generally a solo dancer, the acrobatic Powell did have George Murphy on hand in several films as a partner; she also teamed with comedian Red Skelton for three films, the best of which is “Ship Ahoy” (1942). Married to actor Glenn Ford from 1943 to 1959, Powell hosted an acclaimed religious program in the 1950s and later performed occasionally onstage and in nightclubs.

 

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Darryl Hickman

 

Darryl Hickman
Darryl Hickman

“Wikipedia” entry:

Darryl  Hickman (born July 28, 1931) is an American film and television actor, former television executive, and child actor of the 1930s and 1940s.

Hickman gained attention as a child actor during the late 1930s and 1940s, appearing in The Grapes of Wrath, Men of Boys Town, The Human Comedy and Leave Her to Heaven, among others. He made a featured appearance in the 1942 Our Gang comedy Going to Press. In 1944, he played the antagonist to Jimmy Lydon‘s Henry Aldrich character in the film Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout. In 1946, he played young Sam Masterson in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. By age 21, he had appeared in more than one hundred motion pictures. Darryl Hickman graduated from Cathedral High

After spending his childhood as an actor, Hickman retired from entertainment to enter a monastery in 1951, returning to Hollywood just over a year later. He continued acting, but in fewer roles than in the peak of his career. He was cast in 1952 in the episode “Fight Town” of the syndicated western television series, The Range Rider.

In 1954, he appeared as Chet Sterling in the “Annie Gets Her Man” episode of syndicated western series, Annie Oakley, with Gail Davis. In 1957, Hickman appeared in the episode “Copper Wire” of the syndicated western-themed crime drama Sheriff of Cochise. Later that year he appeared as murderer Steve Harris in the second Perry Mason episode, “The Case of the Sleepwalker’s Niece.” Hickman appeared four times in the 1957-1958 syndicated drama series, Men of Annapolis, about midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He also guest starred in Kenneth Tobey‘s adventure drama, Whirlybirds.

Hickman was cast as Dal Royal in the 1957 episode “Hang ’em High” (1957) of the ABC/Desilu series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. In the story line, Marshal Wyatt Earp (Hugh O’Brian) and Sheriff Bat Masterson (Mason Alan Dinehart) tangle with secreted vigilantes called the “White Caps” after a judge order’s Royal’s hanging when he refuses to defend himself in court for fear the gang will murder his girlfriend, the daughter of a prominent rancher. The story line includes a fake hanging and burial to smoke out the gang and a rush to obtain justice by Earp and Masterson.[1]

In 1959, Hickman appeared on younger brother Dwayne Hickman‘s CBS sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, playing his older brother Davey in the episode “The Right Triangle.”[2] In 1959, Darryl Hickman appeared in an episode of Wanted: Dead or Alive with Steve McQueen, titled “Rope Law”; on May 9, 1959, he was a guest star on CBS’s Gunsmoke as Andy Hill. He also guest-starred in a 1959 first-season episode of another ABC/Desilu series, The Untouchables, entitled “You Can’t Pick The Number”.

He guest-starred in the 1960 episode “Moment of Fear” of CBS’s The DuPont Show with June Allyson, also featuring Edgar Bergen. He appeared on NBC‘s science fiction series The Man and the Challenge. In 1962, he portrayed the part of Lt. Matthew Perry in the episode “The Reunion” on CBS’s Rawhide. During the American Civil War Centennial, Hickman played a young Union soldier in The Americans (1961), and as an officer in Walt Disney‘s Johnny Shiloh (1963). In 1966 he starred as Charley in the New York City Center revival of the Frank Loesser musical comedy Where’s Charley?.  He had a key role in the film Sharky’s Machine (1981).

Hickman eventually became a television executive and an acting coach, and a voice actor for Hanna-Barbera Productions toward the end of a five-decade career in the entertainment industry. Some notable voice overs include Wags in The Biskitts and Derek from The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible. He played Roadie, one of the cars with A.I. in the 1984 animated series Pole Position

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Georgia Engel

Georgia Engal
Georgia Engal

 

“Wikipedia” entry:

Engel was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Ruth Caroline (née Hendron) and Benjamin Franklin Engel, who was a Coast Guard admiral.[3] Engel attended Walter Johnson High School and the Academy of the Washington Ballet.

Engel appeared as Georgette Franklin Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1972 until the show ended in 1977. The role won her two Emmy nominations. After that series ended, she teamed up with former Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Betty White for The Betty White Show during its first and only (1977–1978) season. She later co-starred in two short-lived 1980 sitcoms, Goodtime Girls, as Loretta Smoot,[8] and in Jennifer Slept Here featuring Ann Jillian.

Engel had a recurring role on Coach as Shirley Burleigh and starred as the voice of Love-a-Lot Bear in The Care Bears Movie (1985). She played a good witch in a 2007 recurring role[10][11] of Esmeralda[12][13] on the now-defunct NBC soap opera Passions. Engel received consecutive Emmy nominations as outstanding guest actress in a comedy series in 2003, 2004, and 2005 for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Robert Barone‘s mother-in-law, Pat MacDougall.[14]

While her movie appearances have been sporadic, Engel made her film debut in Miloš Forman’s first English language movie Taking Off[15] for which she was nominated for a British Academy Award for best supporting actress. Other film appearances include The Outside Man (1973),[16] Signs of Life (1989), [17] Papa Was a Preacher (1987),[18] The Sweetest Thing (2002)[19] and the made-for-TV movies The Day the Women Got Even (1980)[20] and A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story (1978).

She lent her voice to the animated films Open Season (2006),[22] Open Season 2 (2009),[23] Dr. Dolittle 2, and Open Season 3 (2011).

Engel returned to her stage roots in 2006, appearing on Broadway in the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, with Sutton Foster and Edward Hibbert. She created the role of Mrs. Tottendale, which she continued to perform, leaving the Broadway production as of April 1, 2007.[25] She was featured in the North American tour, performing in Toronto in September 2007,[26] through engagements at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, in August 2008,[and at the Denver Performing Arts Complex in October 2008.

For the summers of 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010, Engel appeared in various productions at The Muny Theater in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. She most recently appeared in Show Boat in August 2010 as “Parthy”. In July 2005 she appeared in Mame as “Agnes Gooch”, in June 2007 she appeared in Oklahoma! as “Aunt Eller”, and in July 2009 she appeared as “Mrs. Paroo” in The Music Man.

In June 2010, Engel appeared at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, Maine production of The Drowsey Chaperone as Mrs. Tottendale. In October through December 2010, Engel was featured in the Vineyard Theatre‘s Off-Broadway production of Middletown, written by Will Eno.

In 2012, she appeared in episodes of The Office as an older lady being helped by Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) and in the episode called “Palmdale, Ech” of Two and a Half Men as the mother of Lyndsey MacElroy portrayed by Courtney Thorne-Smith. In March 2012, 35 years after the close of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Engel was reunited with Betty White in the third season of Hot in Cleveland as Mamie Sue Johnson, best friend of White’s character Elka, in a continuing, recurring role.

Engel appeared in the new Annie Baker play John, which opened Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre on July 22, 2015 (previews), directed by Sam Gold. The play ran to September 6, 2015.[39] The cast also features Lois Smith.   Engel was nominated for the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play for her role in this play.

Engel stars in the new musical Gotta Dance, which premiered at the Bank of America Theatre, Chicago on December 13, 2015, running through January 2016. The cast also stars Stefanie Powers, Lillias White and Andre DeShields. The musical is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, with a book by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin, and the score by Matthew Sklar and Nell Benjamin.

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Robert Wolders

 

 

Robert Wolders
Robert Wolders

 

“Wikipedia” entry:

Robert Wolders (born 28 September 1936)[1] is a Dutch television actor. Most known for his role in the television series Laredo and appearing in series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Bewitched, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He was also the husband of Merle Oberon and longtime partner of Audrey Hepburn.

Wolders started out appearing in TV series like Flipper and The John Forsythe Show before landing the role of Erik Hunter in the second season of the TV series Laredo. He also had various guest roles in other shows, including Daniel Boone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Name of the Game, The F.B.I., Bewitched, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Wolders stopped acting shortly after marrying Merle Oberon in 1975.

He met actress Merle Oberon while filming Interval in 1973.  after filming with Wolders, she married Wolders in 1975. . They were married until her death in 1979.[   In 1980, Wolders became the companion of Audrey Hepburn until her death in 1993.    .

 

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William Schallert

 

 

William Schallert
William Schallert

“New York Times” obituary from May 2016:

William Schallert, a familiar presence on prime-time television for decades, notably as the long-suffering father and uncle to the “identical cousins” played by Patty Duke on the hit 1960s sitcom “The Patty Duke Show,” died on Sunday in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was 93.

His son Edwin confirmed the death.

Mr. Schallert’s career spanned generations and genres. Over more than 60 years he racked up scores of credits in episodic television as well as noteworthy performances in motion pictures, on the Off Broadway stage and as a voice-over artist.

With his preternaturally mature, intelligent but (by Hollywood standards) unremarkable looks, he was cast almost from the beginning as an authority figure — a father or a teacher, a doctor or a scientist, a mayor or a judge. Most active from the 1950s through the ’80s, Mr. Schallert remained seemingly unchanged in appearance and persona over time, and he was still working in his 90s, dismissing any thoughts of retirement.

On television it sometimes seemed as if he was everywhere. A versatile character actor with a comforting presence, he was equally at home in comedies and dramas, with a résumé ranging from “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Dr. Kildare” and “The Wild Wild West” to “Melrose Place,” “True Blood” and “Desperate Housewives.”

Before joining the ranks of harried sitcom fathers as Martin Lane on “The Patty Duke Show” (1963-66), he was the equally harried teacher Leander Pomfritt, bane of the title character, on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” (1959-62). He also earned a permanent place in the hearts of “Star Trek” fans in 1967 when he played Nilz Baris, under secretary in charge of agricultural affairs for the United Federation of Planets, in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” often cited by fans and critics as one of the best episodes of the original “Star Trek” series.   Never a leading man, Mr. Schallert was instead a high-caliber embodiment of the working actor.

In an interview for this obituary in 2009, Mr. Schallert said he had never been particularly selective about the roles he played. “That’s not the best way to build a career,” he admitted, “but I kept on doing it, and eventually it paid off.”

While the typical William Schallert character was focused and serious, he expressed particular affection for an atypical role: the wildly decrepit Admiral Hargrade, a recurring character on the spy spoof “Get Smart” (1967-70), who operated in a perpetual state of confusion. (“He reminded me of my grandmother when she got dotty,” Mr. Schallert said.)

The above “New York Times” obituary can also be accessed online here.