Kent Smith was born in 1907 and died in 1985.
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.
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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.
Mahoney is of French and Irish extraction, with some Cherokee. At the University of Iowa, he was outstanding in swimming, basketball and football. When World War II broke out, he enlisted as a Marine fighter pilot and instructor. In Hollywood, he was a noted stunt man, doubling for Errol Flynn, John Wayne, and Gregory Peck. Gene Autry signed him for the lead in his 78-episode The Range Rider (1951) TV series. He tested to replace Johnny Weissmuller, as Tarzan but lost out to Lex Barker. In 1960, he played the heavy in Gordon Scott‘s Tarzan the Magnificent (1960), and his part there led Sy Weintraub to hire him as Scott’s replacement. In his two Tarzan movies, he did all his own stunts. In Tarzan’s Three Challenges (1963), he continued working in spite of dysentery, dengue fever and pneumonia. By this time, Weintraub was looking for a younger Tarzan, envisioning a future TV series. By mutual agreement, his contract with Mahoney was dissolved. After a couple of years
– IMDb Mini Biography By: Bob Boughton
Ben Piazza was born on July 30, 1933 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA as Benito Daniel Piazza. He was an actor, known for. The Hanging Tree in 1959, The Bad News Bears (1976), The Blues Brothers (1980) and Mask (1985). He was married to Dolores Dorn. He died on September 7, 1991 in Sherman Oaks, California, USA.
Born in Cleveland, Morris came to Hollywood in the early 1960s. His acting experience at that time consisted of a few minor roles on the Seattle stage. He found work appearing on Television series such as The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) and The Twilight Zone (1959) before being cast in Mission: Impossible (1966). Morris played quiet, efficient electronics expert Barney Collier from 1966-1973. After the show ended, Morris continued to appear in other Television series and a couple of Television movies. In 1979, he went to Las Vegas to film the television series Vega$ (1978) in which he played Lt. David Nelson. He liked the city so much he decided to stay. This series lasted 2 years. In 1981, Morris survived a serious road accident and did not reappear on television for years. In 1989, he appeared in a short-lived remake of Mission: Impossible (1988). He died in 1996.
– IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
An American television actress, Lynda Day George first drew attention when she appeared in the popular TV series Mission: Impossible (1966) as Lisa Casey, a role for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. She also did numerous guest-star roles in such series as The Love Boat (1977) and Charlie’s Angels (1976). While appearing in the feature The Gentle Rain (1966), she met Christopher George, the handsome lead actor of the popular war series The Rat Patrol (1966); they fell in love about three years later, when they were reunited in the John Wayne western Chisum (1970), and they were married after its release. During the 1970s, Lynda appeared in numerous films with her husband. In 1983, she and Chris co-starred in the horror film Mortuary (1983). Sadly, after its completion Christopher George died of a heart attack, at age 54. Lynda was devastated and felt that she couldn’t act without him. She appeared in another film shortly after his death, called Young Warriors (1983), but after appearing in as a guest star a few TV series, Lynda gave up acting.
John Carroll was born on July 17, 1906 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA as Julian LaFaye. He was an actor, known for Flying Tigers (1942), Go West (1940) and Only Angels Have Wings (1939). He was married to Lucille Ryman Carroll and Steffi Duna. He died on April 24, 1979 in Hollywood, California, USA.
Obituary from 1986 in “New York Times”
Sterling Hayden, the handsome blond actor who played wholesome leading-man movie roles in the 1940’s and 1950’s and later weathered into a rough-hewn solid character actor in films such as ”Dr. Strangelove” and ”The Godfather,” died yesterday at his home in Sausalito, Calif.
Mr. Hayden, who was 70 years old and also had a home in Wilton, Conn., had been suffering from prostate cancer for more than two years. He made more than 50 movies, beginning with ”Virginia” in 1941, but his abiding love was the sea. He owned a schooner in California and a 100-foot, Netherlands-based canal barge he used all over Europe.
The strapping, 6-foot-5-inch Mr. Hayden, who made a notable impression with his acting in John Huston’s ”Asphalt Jungle” (1950), in which he appeared as a doomed petty hoodlum, found it difficult to subjugate his love for the sea to his need to make a living as an actor. In 1959, in defiance of a court order obtained by his second wife, the former Betty Ann DeNoon, from whom he was divorced, Mr. Hayden got their four children aboard his schooner, the Wanderer, and took them on a prolonged South Seas journey. A Book About the Sea He wrote of his obsessive fascination with the sea in a 1963 autobiography, ”Wanderer,” in which he also said he would never be able to erase the guilt he felt over his testimony, in 1951, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Mr. Hayden had admitted past membership in the Communist Party and named several of his Hollywood acquaintances as fellow travelers. He was praised by the committee as ”an intensely loyal citizen,” and thus avoided being blacklisted in Hollywood. In 1970 his 700-page epic novel of the sea, ”Voyage,” was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.
In the 1980’s Mr. Hayden appeared in a documentary, ”Pharos of Chaos,” filmed aboard his barge in Europe, and seemed to be in an alcoholic stupor much of the time, supplementing his wine intake with hashish. On camera he said: ”What confuses me is I ain’t all that unhappy. So why do I drink, I don’t know.” In 1981, in Brampton, Ontario, a judge dropped charges of hashish possession against Mr. Hayden after his attorney told the court the actor was using it to combat his alcoholism. A High-School Dropout Mr. Hayden was named Sterling Relyea Walter when he was born in Montclair, N.J., on March 26, 1916. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and hired on as mate on a schooner. He was a ship’s captain at 22, and in need of cash to buy his own boat, established himself as a model in New York.
Paramount Pictures signed the strikingly handsome and virile young man to a contract in 1940, puffing the newcomer as ”The Beautiful Blond Viking God” and ”The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies.” He winced, ”but the money was good,” he said. More publicity poured upon him after his second movie, ”Bahama Passage,” when he married Madeleine Carroll, a popular actress. They saw little of each other, however, since Mr. Hayden was serving in the Marine Corps, and they were divorced after four years.
During World War II, Mr. Hayden served with the Office of Strategic Services in Yugoslavia, Italy and Germany, and won a Silver Star.
After a few unmemorable postwar roles at Paramount, Mr. Hayden scored critically in 1950 in ”The Asphalt Jungle,” but his evident talent was tapped only rarely in the years to come. He gave commanding performances in Stanley Kubrick’s ”The Killing” and as the crazed Air Force general who sets off a nuclear Armageddon in Mr. Kubrick’s ”Dr. Strangelove” (1964). ‘An Imposing John Brown’
Mr. Hayden was also praised for his vivid, if brief, performance as a corrupt police captain in Francis Ford Coppola’s ”Godfather” (1972). And, reviewing the television Civil War mini-series ”The Blue and the Gray” in 1982, John J. O’Connor wrote in The New York Times: ”Mr. Hayden makes an imposing John Brown, capturing the passion of a fanatic and the searing insight of a prophet. His scenes carry a special stamp of authenticity.”
Mr. Hayden is survived by his third wife, the former Catherine Devine McConnell, whom he married in 1960; their sons, Andrew and David, and a stepson, Scott; his four children from his marriage to Betty Ann DeNoon -Christian, Dana and Matthew, and Gretchen Ruckert – and 11 grandchildren.
She made only a handful of films within a span of four years (1936-1940), but gentle, soulful-eyed Andrea Leeds touched hearts with those few, culminating in an Oscar-nomination for Best Supporting Actress as the sensitive, aspiring young actress who doesn’t survive the school of hard knocks in the 1937 movie version of Edna Ferber–George S. Kaufman‘s serio-comic play Stage Door (1937).
Andrea was born on August 18, 1914 in Butte, Montana. As her father was a British-born mining engineer, the family traveled quite extensively during her “wonder years”. Following graduation from UCLA with the intentions of being a screenwriter, she pursued acting instead and apprenticed in bit roles under her given name, Antoinette Lees. She appeared in Hal Roach comedy shorts with comedian Charley Chase at this same time before landing better parts in better pictures. She portrayed another actress hopeful in the fine film Letter of Introduction (1938), and gave equally affecting turns in the sentimental drama The Goldwyn Follies (1938), Swanee River (1939) (as Mrs. Stephen Foster), The Real Glory (1939) and Earthbound (1940), all blessed with her trademark gentleness, grace and humanity. Personal tragedy struck, however, when her fiancé, Jack Dunn, then an ice skating partner of Sonja Henie, died suddenly of a rare disease in July of 1938, and her once strong interest in her career began to wane dramatically. More than a year later, Andrea married wealthy sportsman Robert Stewart Howard, heir to father Charles S. Howard’s racing stables, and gave up her profession completely to raise a family.
Devoutly religious, Andrea and her husband eventually settled in the Palm Springs area with their two children, Robert Jr. and Leann, the latter dying of cancer in 1971. Her life and interests would include owning and breeding horses. After her husband’s death in 1962, she operated and owned a modest jewelry shop in the Palm Springs area, designing many of her own pieces. Andrea died of cancer in 1984 at age 70.
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