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Archive for June, 2018

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David Horovitch

David Harrovitch

David Horovitch was born on August 11, 1945 in London, England. He is an actor, known for The Young Victoria (2009), 102 Dalmatians (2000) and Cassandra’s Dream (2007). He was previously married to Jane Elizabeth Gwynn Roberts.

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Fred MacMurray

Fred MacMurray

IMDB:

Fred MacMurray was likely the most underrated actor of his generation. True, his earliest work is mostly dismissed as pedestrian, but no other actor working in the 1940s and 50s was able to score so supremely whenever cast against type.

Frederick Martin MacMurray was born in Kankakee, Illinois, to Maleta Martin and Frederick MacMurray. His father had Scottish ancestry and his mother’s family was German. His father’s sister was vaudeville performer and actress Fay Holderness. When MacMurray was five years old, the family moved to Beaver Dam in Wisconsin, his parents’ birth state. He graduated from Beaver Dam High School (later the site of Beaver Dam Middle School), where he was a three-sport star in football, baseball, and basketball. Fred retained a special place in his heart for his small-town Wisconsin upbringing, referring at any opportunity in magazine articles or interviews to the lifelong friends and cherished memories of Beaver Dam, even including mementos of his childhood in several of his films. In “Pardon my Past”, Fred and fellow GI William Demarest are moving to Beaver Dam, WI to start a mink farm.

MacMurray earned a full scholarship to attend Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin and had ambitions to become a musician. In college, MacMurray participated in numerous local bands, playing the saxophone. In 1930, he played saxophone in the Gus Arnheim and his Coconut Grove Orchestra when Bing Crosby was the lead vocalist and Russ Columbo was in the violin section. MacMurray recorded a vocal with Arnheim’s orchestra “All I Want Is Just One Girl” — Victor 22384, 3/20/30. He appeared on Broadway in the 1930 hit production of “Three’s a Crowd” starring Sydney GreenstreetClifton Webb and Libby Holman. He next worked alongside Bob Hope in the 1933 production of “Roberta” before he signed on with Paramount Pictures in 1934 for the then-standard 7-year contract (the hit show made Bob Hope a star and he was also signed by Paramount). MacMurray married Lillian Lamont (D: June 22, 1953) on June 20, 1936, and they adopted two children.

Although his early film work is largely overlooked by film historians and critics today, he rose steadily within the ranks of Paramount’s contract stars, working with some of Hollywood’s greatest talents, including wunderkind writer-director Preston Sturges (whom he intensely disliked) and actors Humphrey Bogart and Marlene Dietrich. Although the majority of his films of the 30’s can largely be dismissed as standard fare there are exceptions: he played opposite Claudette Colbert in seven films, beginning with The Gilded Lily (1935). He also co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in the classic, Alice Adams(1935), and with Carole Lombard in Hands Across the Table (1935), The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936) — an ambitious early outdoor 3-strip Technicolor hit, co-starring with Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney directed by Henry Hathaway — The Princess Comes Across (1936), and True Confession (1937). MacMurray spent the decade learning his craft and developing a reputation as a solid actor. In an interesting sidebar, artist C.C. Beck used MacMurray as the initial model for a superhero character who would become Fawcett Comics’ Captain Marvel in 1939.

The 1940s gave him his chance to shine. He proved himself in melodramas such as Above Suspicion (1943) and musicals (Where Do We Go from Here? (1945)), somewhat ironically becoming one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors by 1943, when his salary reached $420,000. He scored a huge hit with the thoroughly entertaining The Egg and I(1947), again teamed with Ms. Colbert and today largely remembered for launching the long-running Ma and Pa Kettle franchise. In 1941, MacMurray purchased a large parcel of land in Sonoma County, California and began a winery/cattle ranch. He raised his family on the ranch and it became the home to his second wife, June Haver after their marriage in 1954. The winery remains in operation today in the capable hands of their daughter, Kate MacMurray. Despite being habitually typecast as a “nice guy”, MacMurray often said that his best roles were when he was cast against type by Billy Wilder. In 1944, he played the role of “Walter Neff”, an insurance salesman (numerous other actors had turned the role down) who plots with a greedy wife Barbara Stanwyck to murder her husband in Double Indemnity (1944) — inarguably the greatest role of his entire career. Indeed, anyone today having any doubts as to his potential depth as an actor should watch this film. He did another stellar turn in the “not so nice” category, playing the cynical, spineless “Lieutenant Thomas Keefer” in the 1954 production of The Caine Mutiny (1954), directed by Edward Dmytryk. He gave another superb dramatic performance cast against type as a hard-boiled crooked cop in Pushover (1954).

Despite these and other successes, his career waned considerably by the late 1950s and he finished out the decade working in a handful of non-descript westerns. MacMurray’s career got its second wind beginning in 1959 when he was cast as the dog-hating father figure (well, he was a retired mailman) in the first Walt Disney live-action comedy, The Shaggy Dog (1959). The film was an enormous hit and Uncle Walt green lighted several projects around his middle-aged star. Billy Wilder came calling again and he did a masterful turn in the role of Jeff Sheldrake, a two-timing corporate executive in Wilder’s Oscar-winning comedy-drama The Apartment (1960), with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon — arguably his second greatest role and the last one to really challenge him as an actor. Although this role would ultimately be remembered as his last great performance, he continued with the lightweight Disney comedies while pulling double duty, thanks to an exceptionally generous contract, on TV.

MacMurray was cast in 1961 as Professor Ned Brainerd in Disney’s The Absent Minded Professor (1961) and in its superior sequel, Son of Flubber (1963). These hit Disney comedies raised his late-career profile considerably and producer Don Feddersonbeckoned with My Three Sons (1960) debuting in 1960 on ABC. The gentle sitcom staple remained on the air for 12 seasons (380 episodes). Concerned about his work load and time away from his ranch and family, Fred played hardball with his series contract. In addition to his generous salary, the “Sons” contract was written so that all the scenes requiring his presence to be shot first, requiring him to work only 65 days per season on the show (the contract was reportedly used as an example by Dean Martin when negotiating the wildly generous terms contained in his later variety show contract). This requirement meant the series actors had to work with stand-ins and posed wardrobe continuity issues. The series moved without a hitch to CBS in the fall of 1965 in color after ABC, then still an also-ran network with its eyes peeled on the bottom line, refused to increase the budget required for color production (color became a U.S. industry standard in the 1968 season). This freed him to pursue his film work, family, ranch, and his principal hobby, golf.

Politically very conservative, MacMurray was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party; he joined his old friend Bob Hope and James Stewart in campaigning for Richard Nixon in 1968. He was also widely known one of the most — to be polite — frugal actors in the business. Stories floated around the industry in the 60s regarding famous hard-boiled egg brown bag lunches and stingy tips. After the cancellation of My Three Sons in 1972, MacMurray made only a few more film appearances before retiring to his ranch in 1978. As a result of a long battle with leukemia, MacMurray died of pneumonia at the age of eighty-three in Santa Monica on November 5, 1991. He was buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Dave Curbow and Mike Bischoff and Jack Backstreet

Fred MacMurray
Fred MacMurray
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Tristan Gemmill

Tristan Gemmell

Tristan Gemmill was born in 1967 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. He is an actor, known for The Jacket (2005), The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John (2003) and Meadowlands (2007). He has been married to Emily Hamilton since September 2001.

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Susan Anspach

Susan Anspach

“Guardian” April 2018 Obituary:

With her vibrant appearance in Bob Rafelson’s landmark road movie Five Easy Pieces (1970), Susan Anspach, who has died aged 75, emerged at the same time as her co-star Jack Nicholson as a significant figure in the new Hollywood of the 1970s. However, Anspach, unlike Nicholson, saw her film career dwindle after a decade that has been called Hollywood’s last golden age.

“I was getting reviews that compared me to Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis,” Anspach said in 1978. “But there were no Hepburn or Davis parts.” Nevertheless, she made the most of the strong female roles she was given in the Rafelson movie, and in Play It Again, Sam (1972), as the ex-wife of a film critic (Woody Allen), and Blume in Love (1973), as the ex-wife of a divorce lawyer (George Segal) – both former husbands are still in love with her.

She was born in New York City, to Renald Anspach, a factory worker, and Trudy Kehoe, a singer. After studying music and drama at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, Anspach began to get parts off-Broadway, notably in a revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge (1965) alongside Robert Duvall and Jon Voight.

Anspach’s radical credentials were early in evidence when she took the lead role of the hippy queen, Sheila, in one of the first performances of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical off-Broadway in 1967. She appeared in TV series such as The Defenders and The Patty Duke Show, before making her feature film debut in The Landlord (1970), Hal Ashby’s satire on race relations. With a malicious twinkle in her eye, she played the liberated sister of Elgar (Beau Bridges), who has bought a building in a black neighbourhood, to the horror of his stultifying bourgeois family.

In Five Easy Pieces, she was a pianist who semi-reluctantly gives in sexually to her fiance’s drifter brother (Nicholson), though she later asks: “Why should I go with you? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love for his friends, family, work … how can he ask for love in return?”

In Play It Again, Sam, Anspach appears in Allen’s imagination, talking about the breakdown in their marriage, and why she dumped him. She seems to have made a speciality of playing wives who break up with husbands, mainly to assert their freedom. In Paul Mazursky’s Blume in Love, she was the newly liberated social worker who leaves her husband (Segal) for a musician (played by the country music singer-composer Kris Kristofferson).

It would be five years before she resumed her film career because “I was asked to do little more than what TV couldn’t do – take off your clothes and swear.” She did neither in the mediocre comedy thriller The Big Fix (1978) as a 60s student radical who get mixed up with a private eye (Richard Dreyfuss).

In Montenegro or Pigs and Pearls (1981), a Swedish-UK co-production directed by the anarchic Serbian film-maker Dušan Makavejev, Anspach gave a tour de force performance as a middle-class housewife whose boredom drives her to the edge of madness until she frees her libido with a gang of Serbian immigrant workers. According to the critic Roger Ebert: “Susan Anspach, who is not robust, and who is in fact rather shy and frail, may not seem like a likely candidate to enter this world, but she undergoes a transformation in the movie, from the suppressed, unbalanced housewife into a woman who was born to embrace Rabelaisian excess.

As well as a few inconsequential feature films, Anspach appeared in miniseries including The Yellow Rose (1983), Space (1985) and The Slap Maxwell Story (1987).

She is survived by Catherine, her daughter from a relationship with the actor Steve Curry, with whom she starred in Hair, and Caleb, her son with Nicholson. Both children were adopted by Mark Goddard, the Lost in Space actor, to whom Anspach was married from 1970 until 1978, though she expressed a disbelief in marriage. Her second marriage, in 1982, to the musician Sherwood Ball, also ended in divorce.

 Susan Florence Anspach, actor, born 23 November 1942; died 2 April 2018

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Shayne Ward

Shayne Ward

Shayne Ward was born on October 15, 1984 in Manchester, England as Shayne Thomas Ward. He is an actor, known for Coronation Street (1960), You AreBeautiful (2009) and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (2002).

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Donald Houston

Donald Houston
 

IMDB:

Sandy-haired Welsh actor who served in the RAF during World War II and hit paydirt and stardom with his first two British films, The Blue Lagoon (1949) with Jean Simmons, and A Run for Your Money (1949) with Sir Alec Guinness, maintaining his career with lesser distinction in bawdy comedies and melodramas. His characters were authority figures, often military in war movies like Battle Hell (1957), The Longest Day (1962) and Where Eagles Dare (1968) (the latters with Richard Burton).

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Angelo Bellino

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Susanna Foster

Susanna Foster

“Guardian” obituary by Ronald Bergan from 2009:

Radiating youth and beauty, and singing with an immaculate and fresh coloratura soprano voice in 11 Hollywood movies from 1939 to 1945, Susanna Foster, who has died aged 84, appeared to have everything. At the age of 19 she shone in her most memorable role as the operatic diva Christine Dubois in Phantom of the Opera (1943), which co-starred Nelson Eddy and Claude Rains. Her earnings from her Universal Studios contract enabled her to rescue her family from poverty. Yet, 13 years later, she was struggling to survive and bring up her two young sons, and her financial and mental situation worsened over the years.

Foster admitted that she was partly to blame for her changed circumstances, saying that she had made the wrong choices, including leaving films at the height of her popularity, walking out on her marriage and, when only 12 years old, turning down the title role in National Velvet because “there was no singing in it”. Eight years later, MGM’s film was to make Elizabeth Taylor a star.

Foster, who called herself a “skinny waif” at the time, was one of many well-scrubbed youngsters that MGM was grooming for stardom but, unlike Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, with whom she was at school, she was released by the studio after a further proposition fell through. It was to be called B Above High C, a reference to the upper register of her voice.

Foster, who was born Suzanne DeLee Flanders Larson, in Chicago, and raised in Minneapolis, began to sing at the age of five, imitating the screen sopranos Grace Moore and Jeanette MacDonald. Paramount snapped her up as a teenager, casting her in the biopic The Great Victor Herbert (1939). She was a hit, playing Allan Jones and Mary Martin’s daughter, and sang Kiss Me Again brilliantly, which prompted the New York Times to write: “The charming juvenile songstress Susanna Foster is a newcomer who is going to be very bearable to watch.” After seeing Foster in the film, the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst flew her to his estate for a private recital for him and his mistress, Marion Davies, the former film star.

There’s Magic in Music (1941), a showcase for several young musical talents, featured Foster as Toodles LaVerne, a burlesque queen who is discovered by a priest (Jones) and brought to a music camp to perfect her singing. In this role, she not only skillfully mimicked Marlene Dietrich but also sang operatic arias from Faust and Carmen. This led Universal to offer her the part of the diva in Phantom of the Opera when the studio’s biggest star, the juvenile soprano Deanna Durbin, turned it down.

Foster, seen for the first time in Technicolor, was suitably attractive as the prima donna of the Paris opera house, loved by three men, the disfigured composer of the title (Rains), a baritone (Eddy) and a police inspector (Edgar Barrier).

Universal then starred her opposite the energetic young dancer Donald O’Connor in Top Man (1943), a lively “let’s-put-on-a-show” teen musical, and This Is the Life (1944). Then, in Technicolor horror mode again, and in an attempt to repeat the huge success of Phantom of the Opera, came The Climax (1944), in which Foster is under the malign influence of a mad doctor, played by Boris Karloff, who wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but himself. She sings, with what one critic called “a very lusty larynx”, in arias from pseudo-operas.

After three more films, Bowery to Broadway (1944), Frisco Sal (1945) and That Night With You (1945), Foster decided to give up show business and concentrate on her singing. In fact, Universal, hoping she would return to films, financed a six-month stay in Europe under the tutelage of the dramatic soprano Dusolina Giannini. On her return from Europe, she sang at a ball at the White House, with President Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt in attendance.

In 1948, Foster made her stage debut in the Victor Herbert operetta Naughty Marietta, opposite the baritone Wilbur Evans, whom she married. They toured together in a number of operettas and musical comedies, trading on her name as a film star. However, it was Evans who got a huge break, playing Emile de Becque to Mary Martin’s Nellie Forbush in the 1951 London production of South Pacific. A few years later, Foster suddenly left Evans, who was 20 years her senior, and whom she claimed never to have loved, taking her two young sons with her.

There followed years of living on and off welfare, and from hand to mouth. While trying to ensure her children were fed, she also attempted to help her alcoholic, widowed mother and mentally unstable younger sister. Foster, too, suffered depression and had problems with alcohol. In 1982, in order to save rent, she lived in her car at the beach in California. She was rescued for a while by a film fanatic, who let her share his squalid apartment, and she later cared for him when he lost his sight. In 1985, her younger son, who had become a drug addict, died of liver failure. Her surviving son, Michael, brought her back to the east coast, where she spent the last years of her life living in a nursing home.

Remembering her glowing screen performances only adds extra poignancy to her tragic decline.

 Susanna Foster (Suzanne DeLee Flanders Larson), actor and singer, born 6 December 1924; died 17 January 2009

 

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Kieu Chinh

Kieu Chinh

IMDB:

Veteran Vietnamese born actress Kieu Chinh is best known to moviegoers for her role as Suyuan Woo in the 1991 film “The Joy Luck Club”. She also made a notable guest appearance on the hit CBS-TV series “M*A*S*H” as Kyung Soon, an aristocratic South Korean socialite whom Hawkeye begins to fall in love with (which is reciprocated) after he’s enlisted by Colonel Potter to attend to her sick mother in the episode “In Love and War” (directed by Alan Alda) in the series’ sixth season.

In the 1960s, in addition to Vietnamese films, she also appeared in several American productions including “A Yank in Viet-Nam” (1964) and “Operation C.I.A.”‘ (1965), the latter opposite Burt Reynolds. Kieu Chinh also produced a war epic “Nguoi Tình Khong Chan Dung” (Warrior, Who Are You) (1971), which later would be remastered and shown in the U.S. at the 2003 Vietnamese International Film Festival.

In 1975, while Kieu Chinh was on the set in Singapore, communist North Vietnamese overran Saigon. Kieu Chinh left for the U.S. where she resumed her acting career in a 1977 episode of M*A*S*H “In Love and War”, written by Alan Alda and loosely based on her life story.

Kieu Chinh subsequently acted in feature films as well as TV-movies including The Children of An Lac”, “Hamburger Hill” (1987), “Riot” (1997), “Catfish in Black Bean Sauce” (1999), “Face” (2002), “Journey From The Fall” (2005), and the FOX-TV series “21” (2008).

From 1989 to 1991, she had a recurring role as Trieu Au on the ABC-TV Vietnam War drama series “China Beach”.

For over a decade, Chinh has been a lecturer of the Greater Talent Network in New York. She has been invited to give keynote addresses at Pfizer, Kellogg, Cornell University and University of San Diego. Kieu is also active in philanthropic work. Together with journalist Terry Anderson, she co-founded the Vietnam Children’s Fund, which has built schools in Vietnam attended by more than 25,000 students annually. Kieu Chinh and Anderson continue to serve as the Fund’s co-chair.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: twilliamson7

Kieu Chinh
Kieu Chinh
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Nicola Paggett

Nicola Pagget

Nicola Pagett was born on June 15, 1945 in Cairo, Egypt as Nicola Scott. She is an actress, known for An Awfully Big Adventure (1995), There’s a Girl in My Soup (1970) and Operation: Daybreak (1975). She was previously married to Graham Swannell.

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Lance Percival

Lance Percival

“Guardian” obituary by Dennis Barker:

In the 1960s, Lance Percival, who has died aged 81, was a member of the team fronting That Was the Week That Was, the groundbreaking Saturday night BBC television programme that brought satire to the masses. Percival was the one who impersonated and lampooned the aristocratic demeanour of the Conservative prime minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home. If the programme’s caustic wit did not bring to an end the dominance of the wealthy elite, it did mark the start of lesser mortals claiming the right to openly poke fun at them.

Harold Macmillan, as portrayed by Willie Rushton, had been the original target of the show when it began in 1962. Percival was very good casting for Home: both were lean and sharp-featured, and Percival also managed to introduce into his impersonation an air of bemused insecurity.

He also played other parts on the show, including spontaneously improvising calypsos on subjects suggested by the live studio audience. Someone in the studio might shout out “sex before marriage” or “the chancellor of the exchequer” or “bowler hats”, and Percival, after seeking out the introductory melody on his guitar, would start singing on the chosen subject. In October 1965, he had a minor pop hit, reaching No 37 with a calypso-style song entitled Shame and Scandal in the Family.

That Was the Week That Was (known as TW3) was attacked vociferously by many MPs for its irreverence. After 38 episodes and two seasons, the BBC pulled the plug. Its brilliant writers, who included Keith WaterhouseMalcolm Bradbury, John Cleese, Dennis Potter, Peter Cook and Gerald Kaufman, were set adrift, in common with the cast. Of all those who had become celebrities, Percival probably had the most erratic career in later years, ending up as a speechwriter for captains of industry.

Immediately after TW3 folded, Percival switched to a summer show at the Winter Gardens, Bournemouth. Millicent Martin, another of the cast, joined him on the bill. In a bizarre twist, the show was promoted by the impresario Harold Fielding, who was at the time suing TW3 for allegedly offensive references to himself.

Percival was born in Sevenoaks, Kent, where his father was an engineer. He had little idea of what he wanted to do when he left Sherborne public school. After national service with the Seaforth Highlanders in Egypt, he emigrated to Canada in 1955 and made a living in Montreal by writing advertising jingles for radio. He formed a calypso group and, as Lord Lance, toured Canada and the US.

Within a few years, the demand for calypsos had dried up. Percival returned to Britain and sang in clubs, got spots in revue and small roles in films, including some of the Carry Ons, and the rather more elegant The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964). Then the TW3 production team wanted musical elements for the new show, and his calypsos once more came into their own, but this time as a political weapon. After TW3 ended, Percival earned most of his income from cabaret turns. He acquired his own TV programme, The Lance Percival Show, in 1965 – but two years later temporarily turned his back on the box to spend three months with Birmingham repertory theatre “learning how to be an actor”. His earnings dropped dramatically. He played the SS colonel Kurt Gerstein, the Nazi who turned against Hitler, in Rolf Hochhuth’s play The Representative, in which the pope and the Catholic church were controversially shown as deliberately ignoring the plight of the Jews to secure their own interests.

His versatility enabled him to play both Paul and Ringo in a US TV animation series, The Beatles (1965-67), and in the Beatles film Yellow Submarine (1968) he was the voice of Old Fred. He appeared in the films Up Pompeii and Up the Chastity Belt (both 1971) and The Water Babies (1978), and continued to take small roles and make guest appearances in film and TV throughout the 1980s.

After a serious car crash in 1970, Percival had shifted away from performing towards writing. In 1973 he came up with the idea for the television show called Up the Workers. Nancy Banks-Smith of the Guardian said: “The only explanation of Up the Workers is that it is a desperate attempt to cheer up an afflicted audience.” Percival himself played a labour relations officer, “a twit-in-the-middle between management and men”.

Soon he chose to concentrate on a career as a speechwriter for business leaders and as an after-dinner speaker. “I came up through TV satire performances,” he said, “ and here I am writing speeches in which the one thing you can’t do is satire.” He also wrote two books of verse, Well-Versed Dogs (1985) and Well-Versed Cats (1986).

He is survived by a son, Jamie.

 John Lancelot Blades Percival, actor and writer, born 26 July 1933; died 6 January 2015