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Mikey Spillane

Mikey Spillane
Mikey Spillane

Frank Morrison Spillane (March 9, 1918 – July 17, 2006), better known as Mickey Spillane, was an American crime novelist, whose stories often feature his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally. Spillane was also an occasional actor, once even playing Hammer himself

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Lola Albright

 

 

Lola Albright
Lola Albright

 

TCM Overview:

A charming but often miscast leading actress, with a tough style reminiscent of Barbara Stanwyck, Lola Albright was shown at her best in “A Cold Wind in August” (1961). She won the Best Actress award at the 1966 Berlin Film Festival for her performance in “Lord Love a Duck” as Tuesday Weld’s mother who turns suicidal when she thinks she has ruined her daughter’s life. Albright was also known to TV viewers as Edie Hart, the girlfriend of Craig Stevens’ “Peter Gunn” (NBC, 1958-60; ABC 1960-61).

Albright was a switchboard operator, stenographer and photographer’s model while doing bit dramatic roles to learn her craft. She made her film debut with a small part in “The Pirate” (1948), with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. She was seen with Garland and Fred Astaire in “Easter Parade” (also 1948) but won her first real notices as the wife of a boxing match manipulator who becomes involved with a fighter (Kirk Douglas) in “Champion” (1948). Some of her roles were unchallenging, such as in “The Tender Trap” (1955), where Albright was merely one of the women in Frank Sinatra’s life. Yet, for all the programmers, there were shots such as “A Cold Wind in August,” in which Albright again won critical acclaim, this time for playing an aging stripper. Albright’s film career petered out around 1968, the year she played David Niven’s wife and the mother of a nubile teen-age daughter in “The Impossible Years.”

Unlike other film actors who were slow to take the plunge into TV, Albright was actively working in the medium from 1951, when she guest-starred in two episodes of “Lux Video Theatre.” Throughout the 50s, she appeared made numerous guest appearances, including several during the 1955-56 TV season as a love interest on “The Bob Cummings Show.” Albright was on “Peter Gunn” for its entire three-season run and, in 1965, replaced an ailing Dorothy Malone for part of the season on “Peyton Place” (ABC). She continued appearing on episodics, particularly those of Universal TV, into the early 80s. She never really clicked in TV-movies, appearing in only three: the thrillers “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” (NBC, 1967) and “Terraces” (NBC, 1977) and the melodramatic “Delta County, U.S.A.” (ABC, 1977).

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Barry Brown

Barry Brown
Barry Brown

Barry Brown (April 19, 1951 – June 25, 1978) was an American author, playwright and actor who performed on stage and in television dramas and feature films, notably as Frederick Winterbourne in Peter Bogdanovich‘s Daisy Miller (1974), adapted from the classic Henry James novella (1878). Bogdanovich praised Brown’s contribution to the film, describing him as “the only American actor you can believe ever read a book.”

Born Barry Brown in San Jose, California, he was the eldest child of Donald Bernard Brown and Vivian Brown (née Agrillo). His sister was the actress Marilyn Brown, who committed suicide in 1997 at the age of 44. His brother is the novelist James Brown (Final Performance, Hot Wire), who etched an intimate portrait of their dysfunctional family in his acclaimed memoir, The Los Angeles Diaries, published by HarperCollins in 2003.

Brown began his acting career as a child of five and took part in many television and live performances. He appeared withVan Johnson in a stage production of The Music Man at the age of ten.

Brown was 19 when he made his first major screen appearance in Halls of Anger (1970), followed by The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) and his breakthrough role as the American Civil War draft dodger Drew Dixon in Robert Benton‘s critically acclaimed Bad Company (1972), co-starring with Jeff Bridges. The publicity and promotion for this film was capped by an article in Esquire introducing filmgoers to the “dashing, brooding Brown” in color photographs by Chris von Wangenheim, along with a text mention of Brown’s obituary collection focusing on little-known and forgotten Hollywood personalities.

After playing opposite Cybill Shepherd in Daisy Miller, Brown concentrated on television throughout the 1970s, including the TV movie The Disappearance of Aimee(1976), about evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, and numerous TV episodes. His final features were the crime drama The Ultimate Thrill (1974) and Joe Dante‘sPiranha (1978).

An authority on actors and film history, Brown was a contributor to Scream Queens: Heroines of the Horrors by Calvin Beck and Bhob Stewart. Published by Macmillan in 1978, the book features illustrated biographical profiles of 29 fantasy film actresses and directors. Brown did a similar survey, the unpublished Unsung Heroes of the Horrors, covering the lives of some lesser known Hollywood talents, and he also contributed to various magazines, including Films in Review and Castle of Frankenstein. The book Who Was Who on Screen Third Edition, by Evelyn Mack Truett was dedicated to Brown, whom she credited with giving data support for the previous edition.

Brown’s marriage to Jennie Vlahos on March 4, 1972 ended in divorce May 1972. In June 1978, Brown committed suicide at his home in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California.

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Nancy Kulp

Nancy Kulp
Nancy Kulp

Nancy Kulp (August 28, 1921 – February 3, 1991) was an American character actress best known as Miss Jane Hathaway on the popular CBS television series The Beverly Hillbillies.   Also was featured in :The Parent Trap” with Hayley Mills in 1961.

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Whit Bissell

Whit Bissell
Whit Bissell

A wide-ranging character actor with Broadway experience, Bissell entered films in 1943 with “Holy Matrimony” and went on to appear in over 80 more. specializing as ineffectual types and high-strung professionals. He is perhaps best remembered for his role as the scientist who turned Michael Landon into a wolfman in “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” (1957).

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Brandon de Wilde

Brandon de Wilde
Brandon de Wilde

TCM Overview:

When Brandon De Wilde died in a motorcycle accident in July 1972 he was only 30 years old but in that short lifetime he had starred in several films now considered classics, been nominated for an Academy Award®, won a Golden Globe, been the first child actor to win a Donaldson Award (for his theatrical debut at the age of seven), had his own television series, hung out with The Beatles, Gram Parsons and Jim Morrison, was the father of a young son and had been divorced twice.

Andre Brandon De Wilde was born into a theatrical family on April 9, 1942 in Brooklyn and spent his early life in Baldwin, Long Island. His father Frederick A. “Fritz” De Wilde was an actor and a Broadway stage manager and his mother Eugenia was a part-time actress on Broadway. Despite his surroundings Brandon did not show any interest in acting until 1949 when a friend of his father was casting a play by Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding and was looking for a young boy and thought Brandon might be good. As Virginia Spencer Carr wrote in her book Understanding Carson McCullers, “[Ethel] Waters and Julie Harris had been signed for the principal roles, and every part was cast except for the role of John Henry West, which was assigned, finally, to five year old [sic] Brandon De Wilde, who had never acted before and could not read. The child’s father, Fritz De Wilde (who was cast as Jarvis Addams, the bride-groom) read the entire play aloud to him to help him learn his lines and in the process, young Brandon learned the lines of everyone else as well, much to the chagrin of Waters, whom he prompted regularly until she told him, ‘Now honey, I don’t want you to bother me anymore.'”

De Wilde was a natural and received critical acclaim for his performance from no less an authority than the legendary actor John Gielgud, who wrote in a letter to a friend, “I saw an excellent play yesterday Member of the Wedding […] The little boy from next door [Brandon De Wilde] a child of eight, gives a wonderful performance and serves as an almost silent chorus, representing the youngest generation. He is on the stage playing all through the hysterical scenes of the young girl, sometimes vaguely aware of what it all means, sometimes just bored and longing for notice, and sometimes just thinking to himself – all done with extraordinary subtlety and emphasis.”

Having received the Donaldson Award for his performance, he was signed by director Fred Zinnemann to reprise his role in the film adaptation of The Member of the Wedding in 1952, for which he was awarded a Special Golden Globe Award for Best Juvenile Actor.

His next role would be his most famous, as the tow-headed boy Joey Starrett who worships gunman Alan Ladd in George Stevens’ classic Western Shane (1953). He filmed it in the summer and fall of 1951, but the film was not released for two years due to extensive editing. De Wilde’s immortal line at the end of the film, “Shane! Shane! Come back!” was voted as number 47 of the AFI’S 100 Best Movie Quotes and it ranked number 69 of the Best Movie Quotes by Premiere Magazine earlier in 2007. His performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (he lost to Frank Sinatra for From Here to Eternity) and the praise of critics like The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther who wrote, “Mr. Ladd, though slightly swashbuckling as a gunfighter wishing to retire, does well enough by the character, and Jean Arthur is good as the homesteader’s wife…But it is Master De Wilde with his bright face, his clear voice and his resolute boyish ways who steals the affections of the audience and clinches Shane as a most unusual film.”

The attention from Shane won De Wilde his own television series for ABC entitled Jamie in which he played an orphan living with his aunt. The show only ran during the 1952-1953 season due to a contractual dispute. He would spend the next six years appearing on television on programs such as Climax!, The Screen Director’s Playhouse, The Alcoa Theater and The United States Steel Hour. At the age of 17 in 1959, he appeared in a controversial drama entitled Blue Denim co-starring Carol Lynley. In it, De Wilde’s character gets Lynley pregnant and the two try to find an abortionist.

De Wilde spent three more years in television on shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Wagon Train before making All Fall Down (1962) in which he plays the younger brother of Warren Beatty and the following year he made Hud with Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, and Patricia Neal. Although his character was only 16, De Wilde was actually 20 during the filming of Hud. He was the only one of the principal actors not to be nominated for an Academy Award, but on Oscar® night, De Wilde accepted the Best Supporting Actor Award for Melvin Douglas who was unable to attend.

By 1965, when he appeared in his last major film opposite John Wayne – the WWII drama In Harm’s Way – De Wilde had become part of a hard-living, drug-taking Hollywood group including Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. During this time, he had become interested in launching a music career. De Wilde was in the Bahamas in February 1965 at the same time The Beatles were filming Help! and hung out with the band, who got stoned on the pot De Wilde provided. Paul McCartney remembered De Wilde as “a nice guy who was fascinated by what we did. A sort of Brat Pack actor. We chatted endlessly, and I seem to remember writing [the song] “Wait” in front of him and him being interested to see it written.” This interest led De Wilde to become friends with up and coming musician Gram Parsons in New York and the two would sing harmony together. Parson’s friend and fellow musician John Nuese said that De Wilde sang better with Parsons than anyone except Emmylou Harris. De Wilde brought Parsons and his band into the studio at RCA to record some tracks but the project never materialized.

Most of De Wilde’s remaining work would be television guest appearances. He once spoke about his career to author Linda Ashcroft at a party they attended with Jim Morrison. Ashcroft later wrote that she “listened to him talk about having given most of his life to acting, which sounded so strange from such a young man. He was about Jim [Morrison’s] age, though he looked younger. He spoke of giving up movies until he could come back as a forty-year-old character actor. All that had been in his favour as a child, his being small for his age and a bit too pretty, had worked against him as an adult. […]”

Sadly De Wilde’s life was cut short by a driving accident. On July 6, 1972, he was in Denver, Colorado appearing onstage in the play Butterflies Are Free. That night while on his way to the theater, he was killed when his motorcycle ran into a truck. His good friend Gram Parsons was so affected by his death that he and Emmylou Harris wrote the song In My Hour of Darkness about De Wilde,

Once I knew a young man
Went driving through the night
Miles and miles without a word
With just his high-beam lights
Who’d have ever thought they’d build such
a deadly Denver bend
To be so strong, to take as long as
it would till the end

by Lorraine LoBianco

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Susan Clark

Susan Clark
Susan Clark

 

IMDB Entry:

Award-winning Canadian actress Susan Clark, born on March 8, 1940, took up acting at an early age (12) in her hometown of Sarnia, Ontario. Her family moved to Toronto around that period of time and she joined the Toronto Children’s Players Theatre. Her first professional curtain call took place on the musical stage in a 1955 production of “Silk Stockings” which starred veteran actor Don Ameche.

The “acting bug” bit hard and a very determined Susan pressed her family to allow her to study at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She gained valuable experience in repertory, making her London debut in “Poor Bitos” in the early 1960s. She even got a taste of on-camera work when she won multiple roles on a 1965 episode ofThe Benny Hill Show (1957). Returning to Canada, however, due to the illness of her father, she subsequently decided to trek, instead, to Los Angeles to continue her professional career. In search of on-camera work, she attracted notice in some guest roles on TV and this eventually led to a Universal contract. The ten-year contract was one of the last of its kind as Hollywood was witnessing the demise of the studio contract system.

After gaining some exposure on episodes of The Virginian (1962) and Run for Your Life(1965), Susan’s first screen assignment for Universal was as the second female lead in the soap-styled drama Banning (1967) starring Robert Wagner, in one of his typical jet-setting playboy parts, and the scintillating Jill St. John, who would wed her “Banning” leading man two decades later. From there, Susan only grew in stature. Playing the second female lead again in the critically-praised crimer Madigan (1968) starring Richard Widmark and Inger Stevens, she finally earned top female billing opposite Clint Eastwoodin Coogan’s Bluff (1968) playing a sexy parole officer and enjoying romantic clinches with the up-and-coming film icon on film.

Tall and willowy with incandescent blue eyes, Susan continued to impress on celluloid with roles in Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), Valdez Is Coming (1971) and, in particular,Skin Game (1971). It was 70s TV-movies, however, that would take full advantage of Susan’s vibrant, intelligent acting talents. First came the tender-hearted mini-movieSomething for a Lonely Man (1968). While a vehicle for Bonanza’s Dan Blocker, co-star Susan made a strong, spunky impression as his small-town romantic interest. This was followed by choice roles in The Challengers (1970) and The Astronaut (1972).

1975 was a banner year for Susan who not only provided a couple of excellent scenes asGene Hackman‘s wife in the film-noir Night Moves (1975) but, made a resounding, Emmy-winning impression on TV audiences as feminist track-and-field Olympian-turned-golf starBabe Didrikson Zaharias, who is later felled by cancer, in the TV mini-bio Babe (1975). This was a pronounced victory for Susan both professionally and personally for it was on this set that she met her second husband, co-star Alex Karras, who played Babe’s spouse George. Susan was in immediate demand and was quickly cast as another feisty, ill-fated heroine, this time in the form of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart (1976). Predictably, Susan was wonderful and earned a second Emmy nomination for her efforts (she didn’t win).

She and Karras (who had a child, Katie, in 1980) went on to jointly act in and/or produce various film and TV projects, including the TV movies Jimmy B. & André (1980), and Maid in America (1982), and the films Nobody’s Perfekt (1981) and Porky’s (1981). This culminated in their biggest collaborative effort with the sitcom series Webster (1983) wherein both were unmercifully upstaged by the hopelessly cute antics of its tyke starEmmanuel Lewis. While the series hardly tested the couple’s acting mettle and the plot was pretty much a “Diff’rent Strokes” rehash, the show proved quite popular on its own and put Clark and Karras firmly on the TV map between 1983 to 1988. Susan, herself, earned a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series”.

Following the sitcom’ demise, Susan relinquished the limelight a bit and found contentment on the local Southern California stage. Relishing acting challenges in such wide-ranging plays as “Meetin’s on the Porch” (1990) with Patty Duke and Carrie Snodgress, “Afterplay” (1998), “Bicoastal Women” (2003) and “The Importance of Being Earnest” (2004) (as Lady Bracknell), she eventually became a dedicated member of the Rubicon Theater Company in Los Angeles, gracing such plays there as “The Glass Menagerie”, “Dancing at Lughnasa”, “The Devil’s Disciple” and, most recently, “A Delicate Balance”.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

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Christian Fourcade

Christian Fourcade
Christian Fourcade

Christian Fourcade was born on April 22, 1942 in Vincennes, France. He is an actor, known for Little Boy Lost (1953), Les Misérables (1953) and Crainquebille (1954).

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Kent Smith

Kent Smith
Kent Smith

 

Kent Smith was born in 1907 and died in 1985.

IMDB biography:

He was one of Hollywood’s more interesting curiosities. Kent Smith, by most standards, had the makings of a topflight 40s and 50s film star — handsome; virile; personable; highly dedicated; equipped with a rich stage background; no slouch in the talent department. For some reason all these fine qualities did not add up and stardom would remain elusive in a career that nevertheless covered almost five decades. Today, Smith’s name and face has been almost completely forgotten. His solid body of work on stage, screen and TV certainly defies such treatment. Perhaps his looks weren’t distinctive enough; perhaps he was overshadowed once too often by his more popular female screen stars; perhaps there was a certain lack of charisma or sex appeal for audiences to latch onto; perhaps a lack of ego or even an interest in being a “name” star. Whatever the reason, this purposeful lead and second lead’s resumé deserves more than a passing glance.

Christened Frank Kent Smith, he was born in New York City on March 19, 1907, to a hotelier. An early experience in front of a crowd happened during childhood when he performed as an assistant to Blackstone the Magician. Kent graduated from boarding school (Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire) and attended Harvard University, finding theater work at various facilities during his time off. One such group, the University Players in West Falmouth, Massachusetts, produced such screen icons as James Stewart, Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan.

Kent made his theatrical debut in the short-lived play “Blind Window” at the Ford’s Theatre in Baltimore in 1929 in a cast that also featured young hopeful Clark Gable. Taking his first Broadway curtain call in “Men Must Fight” in 1932, a steady flow of theater work came his way throughout the rest of the 30s in which he performed opposite some of the theater’s finest grande dames — Lillian Gish, Katharine Cornell, Jane Cowl, Blanche Yurka and Ethel Barrymore. He proved equally adept in both classic (“Caesar and Cleopatra,” “Saint Joan,” “A Doll’s House”) and contemporary settings (“Heat Lightning,” “The Drums Begin”).

Aside from an isolated appearance in The Garden Murder Case (1936), Kent’s film output didn’t officially begin until 1942. RKO took an interest in the stage-trained actor and offered him a lead role in the low-budget horror classic Cat People (1942) as the husband of menacingly feline Simone Simon. He returned to his protagonist role in the lesser-received sequel The Curse of the Cat People (1944). After a few more decent films, including Hitler’s Children (1943) and This Land Is Mine (1943), Kent joined the U.S. Army Air Force and appeared in several government training films during his service, which ended in 1944.

He came back to films without a hitch during the post-war years posting major credits in The Spiral Staircase (1945), Magic Town (1947) , Nora Prentiss (1947), My Foolish Heart (1949) and The Fountainhead (1949), although he tended to pale next to his illustrious female stars — Dorothy McGuire, Jane Wyman, Ann Sheridan, Susan Hayward and Patricia Neal. Normally a third wheel in romantic triangles or good friend/rival to the star, he never found the one big film role (or TV show) that could have put a marquee name to the face.

Kent fared better on stage and in the newer medium of TV in the 1950s. Among the highlights: he complimented Helen Hayes both in the video version of her stage triumph “Victoria Regina” and in her Broadway vehicle “The Wisteria Tree”, which was based on Chekhov’s “‘The Cherry Orchard”. He was also given praise for his strong stage performances in “The Wild Duck” and “The Autumn Garden”, and appeared alongside Elaine Stritch in the national touring company of the musical “Call Me Madam”. He was everywhere on TV, guesting on such popular shows as “Wagon Train”, “Naked City”, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, “The Outer Limits” and “Peyton Place”. In 1962, he replaced Melvyn Douglas in the national company of Gore Vidal‘s “The Best Man”. Also in the cast was actress Edith Atwater. The couple married that same year. His first marriage to minor actress Betty Gillette ended earlier in divorce after 17 years and one daughter.

The remainder of Kent’s career remained quite steady, if unremarkable, in both films and TV, lending able character support as assorted gray-haired authoritarians usually upstanding in reputation but certainly capable of shady dealings if called upon. The actor died at age 78 of heart disease in Woodland Hills, California, just outside of Los Angeles. His widow Edith died less than a year later of cancer.

Perhaps with such a common last name as “Smith”, it was destined that he would spend a life time trying to stand out. Nevertheless, a career as rich and respectable as his was, and with a wide range of roles that included everything from battling evil cats to spouting Shakespeare at Stratford, true recognition and reconsideration is long overdue.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

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Susan Harrison

Susan Harrison
Susan Harrison

“Wikipedia” entry:

Susan Harrison (born August 26, 1938, in Leesburg, Florida) is an American actress. She is most famous for her appearance in the 1957 film noir classic Sweet Smell of Success as the sister for whom Burt Lancaster has an unhealthy affection as well as in The Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit“.

She is a graduate of the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, where she played Frankie in Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers and Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw‘s Pygmalion. She attended Boston University, briefly studying under Peter Kass, who directed her in the role of Abigail in Arthur Miller‘s The Crucible. Her professional debut was in the live television drama Can You Coffeepot on Skates?, presented in 1956. This was followed by television appearances on Matinee Theatre and Alfred Hitchcock Presents and her cinematic debut in Sweet Smell of Success. On October 19, 1957, she opened on Broadway at the Bijou Theater, playing “the Girl” in William Saroyan‘s new play The Cave Dwellers to uniformly good reviews. The following year she was in the Playhouse 90 production of In Lonely Expectation, which brought her to the attention of Rod Serling and led to her role as the ballerina in the iconic Twilight Zone episode. She had several later television and stage roles, most notably in an episode of the television show Bonanza, “Dark Star.” In 1960 she played Ruby, the female lead, in the little-seen film Key Witness with Jeffrey Hunter and Dennis Hopper.

By 1963 she had left public life and acting and devoted herself to family matters, though in the 1990s she played Elberta in a Jackson County Stage Company (Carbondale, Illinois) production of Mixed Couples. She has since appeared at various film and science fiction conventions.

She is the mother of Darva Conger, best known as the winner of the reality television show Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?.