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Archive for January, 2020

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Marius Goring

Marius Goring

Marius Goring. Obituary in “Daily Telegraph”

MARIUS Goring, the actor who has died aged 86, built his reputation on the stage, where he was a distinguished interpreter of Shakespeare; but on the screen he was allowed to give little hint of his time in the West End, or of his education at four continental universities, being cast instead in a series of roles as villainous Nazis and homicidal maniacs.

It was Goring’s misfortune to have the haughty countenance and smooth manner suggestive to film producers of Germanic types. He was able, too, to hint at cold danger lurking beneath a genial manner, and among the many films he appeared in to good effect as a Nazi was I Was Monty’s Double (1958), as the Nazi spy invited to dinner at Gibraltar to meet the sham General.

He was also in Pastor Hall (1940), as a storm-trooper in an early film by the Boulting brothers [Well worth watching – Steve], and Ill Met By Moonlight (1956), as the German governor of Crete kidnapped by dashing commando Dirk Bogarde.

Goring fared better in other films by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger besides Ill Met by Moonlight, most notably The Red Shoes (1948). Cast against type as a romantic lead, he played the composer vying with tyrannical impresario Anton Wallbrook for a ballerina, Moira Shearer.

He also played the powdered and periwigged Conductor 71 in A Matter of Life and Death (1946), leading David Niven up a vast moving staircase to Heaven.

On television, he was Sir Percy Blakeney in The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1955), a caustic King George V in Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978), and a Home Office pathologist in the series The Expert (1968-70; 1974).

Goring spent all his career closely involved in Equity, the actors’ union, of which he had been a founder member in 1929. He was its vice-president in the Sixties and Seventies and fought a costly battle to keep it from being dominated by the Workers’ Revolutionary Party and Corin and Vanessa Redgrave.

Goring twice went to court to ensure funds could not be donated to political causes and that decisions could only be taken after a referendum of members. He also tried to stop Equity’s policy of preventing British programmes being shown in South Africa, so denying actors fees.

But Goring was not, as some believed, a blimpish figure. As a child he had spent every Christmas with his black Jamaican godfather, and hoped to take She Stoops to Conquer, a play about position in society, to South Africa with an all-black cast.

“My concern is to protect actors’ and actresses’ welfare”, he said. “I don’t give a damn who’s Left or Right.”

Marius Goring was born of Anglo-Scots parentage at Newport, Isle of Wight, on May 23 1912. His father was a doctor and criminologist who spent much of his career attempting to disprove a fashionable theory that criminality was pre-determined by physical attributes.

Marius was educated at the Perse School, Cambridge. At 16 he saw the celebrated troupe La Compagnie des Quinze and vowed one day to join it.

Goring made his first professional stage appearance in 1927 in one of Jean Sterling Mackinlay’s matineés. He then briefly attended the universities of Frankfurt, Vienna, Paris and Munich before studying at the Old Vic dramatic school from 1929 to 1932. In 1931 he toured France and Germany with the English Classical Players.

From 1932 to 1934 he was a stage-manager at the Old Vic and was called in at short notice, aged 20, to play Romeo to Peggy Ashcroft’s Juliet. Described by Tyrone Guthrie as an “ardent, gifted student with blue eyes and flaming hair”, Goring then kept the promise he had made to himself as a schoolboy by joining La Compagnie des Quinze, having met its founder, Jacques Copeau, at the Sorbonne.

Goring toured France and the Low Countries with Copeau, playing Hamlet and other roles in French, and was instrumental in bringing to London Michel Saint-Denis, Copeau’s nephew and the director of the Quinze. With Saint-Denis and George Devine, Goring founded the London Theatre Studio, later the Old Vic School.

In the mid-Thirties, Goring forged a formidable reputation in the West End as a highly reliable player of foils and second leads. In Twelfth Night at the Old Vic in 1937, with Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness , the critic Herbert Farjeon thought Goring’s Feste “immeasurably the best thing – a worn clown, stark, tragic, like a stab in the heart of fun. Never have I seen the baiting of Malvolio in prison better or more mercilessly done”.

In the same year, in a thriller with Flora Robson at the Shaftesbury, Goring established his popular repute as a player of villains. Within three months he was playing a psychopath undergraduate inThe Last Straw at the Comedy with his future wife, the former principal actress of the Berlin Theatre, Lucie Mannheim, who had been expelled by the Nazis.

In 1939, Goring directed her in Nora, a version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, at the Duke of York’s.

Just before the outbreak of war, Goring took the part of the First Player and of Osric in the production of Hamlet which John Gielgud took to Elsinore. Goring also played Pip in Alec Guinness’s version of Great Expectations at the Rudolph Steiner, the first play to open after the theatres had been temporarily closed as a war measure.

Goring enlisted in the Queen’s Royal Regiment but spent much of the war working in propaganda. In 1939 he had been highly convincing as the voice of Hitler in a radio series, The Shadow of the Swastika, and from 1941 he was seconded to the Foreign Office. There he supervised BBC news programmes broadcast to Germany.

After the war, Goring played his part in restoring relations with Germany. In 1947, he and Lucie Mannheim toured the British zone of Germany, performing in German, and they returned to Berlin in 1948 with Daphne Laureola, which Goring performed in the local accent.

From the mid-Fifties, Goring concentrated on Shakespearean roles, combining these with touring. In 1953 he led the Shakespeare Memorial Company at Stratford in Richard IIIAntony and Cleopatra and King Lear. The next year, at Wuppertal, he played, in German, a classical double bill, and two seasons later founded a company to tour Shakespeare to Holland, Finland and India.

Goring returned to Stratford-upon-Avon as leader of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962 and was a distinguished Angelo in Measure for Measure.

Among his later roles were those of Andrew Wyke in Sleuth at St Martin’s, which he played for almost three years from 1982, and as God in the Canterbury Cathedral Mystery plays in 1986.

Away from the stage, Goring enjoyed riding, and was an accomplished skater.

Marius Goring was appointed CBE in 1991.

He married first, in 1931, Mary Westwood Steel, by whom he had a daughter. The marriage was dissolved and he married Lucie Mannheim in 1941. She died in 1976. He married thirdly, in 1977, the director Prudence Fitzgerald

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Michael Greer

Michael Greer

Michael Greer. Wikipedia. I

Michael Greer (born James Robert Malley; April 20, 1938 — September 14, 2002[3]) was an American actor, comedian and cabaret performer. He is best known for his appearances in the films The Gay Deceivers and Fortune and Men’s Eyes, and for being one of the first openly gay actors to appear in major Hollywood films.

Greer was born James Robert Malley in Galesburg, Illinois to parents Charles and Elizabeth (née Koetter) Malley.

He grew up in Galesburg, residing first with his parents and later with his aunt and uncle, and had two sisters and two half-brothers.[1][4] Greer later said that his parents had divorced and each had married three times, and described his childhood as unhappy.  He began performing at a young age, singing during intermissions at the local movie theater.

Greer left Galesburg in the mid-1950s.  Despite being underage at 16, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served three years in Japan and Korea. While in the service he formed a pop vocal group that performed in the style of The Four Aces.

After finishing his service, he moved to Boston and then to New York City in the early 1960s, where he worked as a furniture salesman while competing in “talent night” contests against other aspiring entertainers, including Tiny Tim and Barbra Streisand. Greer later worked as a floor captain at Arthur, the NYC discothèque opened by Sybil Burton, where he met celebrities such as Margot FonteynRudolf Nureyev, and Jacqueline Kennedy. He disliked his birth name, and in the mid-1960s he legally changed his name to “Michael Greer”, choosing “Michael” because he liked the name and “Greer” after the actress Jane Greer.

In the fall of 1965, Greer relocated to Los Angeles, where he formed a comedy troupe called “Jack and the Giants” with Roy Gaynor and then-unknown Jim Bailey.  While playing the Redwood Room club in L.A., the act was discovered and popularized by Judy Garland, leading to a 16-month engagement, after which the group broke up.  Greer, who was by that time openly gay, continued to perform solo at San Francisco clubs such as The Fantasy and The Purple Onion. Greer’s act included music, comedy and female impersonations of actresses such as Bette Davis and Tallulah Bankhead. Greer also developed a signature routine that he performed, with variations, for the rest of his career, in which he appeared as the Mona Lisa, speaking through a large picture frame held on his lap and making art-related jokes.

Due to Greer’s difficulties obtaining film roles after the early 1970s, he concentrated on his cabaret act for most of his career, touring and playing clubs nationwide. He was a frequent and popular performer on the gay nightclub circuit for three decades. Greer was a featured performer on the “All-Gay Cruise”, an ocean cruise for 300 gay men and lesbians documented by Cliff Jahr in a highly controversial 1975 New York Times travel feature, in which Jahr referred to Greer as “the gay world’s Jonathan Winters” and likened him to “George Burns at a Friars’ Roast.” Greer’s impersonation of Bette Davis was so perfect that, when she became unavailable, Greer was called upon to dub some of her lines in the TV miniseries The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978) and again in Wicked Stepmother (1989), her last film.

Two recordings of Greer’s comedy routines were released: Tallulah in Heaven (1972, RipRap Records), an LP featuring his Tallulah Bankhead impersonation, and Don’t Mess With Mona (2005, Gatorlegs Records), a posthumously released recording of a 1979 performance of his Mona Lisa routine.  In addition to writing his own material, Greer also wrote comedy material for several well-known performers, including Phyllis DillerDebbie ReynoldsRip Taylor, and Larry Storch.

In 1968, Sal Mineo saw Greer’s comic nightclub act in San Francisco and cast him as “Queenie”, a gay prison inmate and drag queen, in Mineo’s 1969 Los Angeles production of the John Herbert play Fortune and Men’s Eyes. Greer played “Queenie” in both the Los Angeles and subsequent New York stage productions, logging over 400 performances in the role. Greer became close friends with both Mineo and Don Johnson, who was cast in the lead role of “Smitty”.

Greer occasionally appeared in other stage plays over the years. In 1983 he appeared in New York City in an off-off-Broadway revival of Terrence McNally‘s The Ritz, a farce set in a gay Manhattan bathhouse, starring Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn. He played an old-guard activist professor in a 1998 Santa Monica production of Mark Savage’s coming-out musical, The Ballad of Little Mikey.

With composer Wayne Moore, Greer collaborated on the book for a 1992 musical, Freeway Dreams, about commuters stuck in traffic in Los Angeles. Greer also directed the Los Angeles production which ran for four months, and appeared on the original cast album (released in 1997 on Moore’s Ducy Lee label) as the voice of “the car radio announcer on station KDUL in the Valley.”

Greer made his feature film debut in 1969 in the hit comedy The Gay Deceivers as “Malcolm”, the flamboyant gay landlord of two heterosexual young men who pretend to be gay in an attempt to dodge the draft.  In an effort to reduce the homophobia of the original script and present a more realistic and positive portrayal of the gay characters, Greer rewrote much of the dialogue and worked with the director. Upon release, the film was protested by gays for propagating stereotypes of gay men as “swishy”, effeminate draft dodgers. However, the film was progressive for its time in featuring an openly gay actor playing an openly gay character in a happy long-term gay relationship, rather than having gay characters suffer loneliness, anguish or tragedy. Greer’s performance drew good reviews. He received star billing and was featured in advertising for the film.

The following year Greer co-starred (with Don Johnson) as an underground rock musician in MGM’s 1970 box office flop The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart, for which he also co-wrote and sang the song “Water”. He appeared in two softcore pornography films, the erotic sci-fi film The Curious Female, in which he played the operator of a computer dating service in the year 2177,  and Diamond Stud.

In 1971, Greer reprised his stage role as “Queenie” in MGM’s film version of Fortune and Men’s Eyes, a film role he had previously turned down.[9] Once again, Greer rewrote most of his lines to better fit his conception of the character. He composed the song “It’s Free”, which he performed in drag in the film. Despite the filmmakers’ controversial changes to the original stage play, including exploiting the camp and drag-queen elements portrayed by the Queenie character,  Greer’s performance received positive reviews[48] and has been viewed as a strong statement of gay assertiveness. Greer felt that his film performance of “Queenie” was the definitive one, and was proud of it.

Greer aspired to play a diverse range of movie roles, at one point optioning and writing a screenplay about mass murderer Richard Speck in which he hoped to star. However, his ability to get parts was limited by homophobia and typecasting. Although most media in the late 1960s and early 1970s avoided directly stating that Greer was homosexual (and frequently implied that he was interested in women). he refused to marry a woman or otherwise pretend to be heterosexual for the sake of his acting career, despite his agent’s advice to do so. His last major film role was “Thom,” the “dark stranger” in the 1973 horror film Messiah of Evil (also known as Dead People). Thereafter, his film career was limited to occasional small roles in movies such as Summer School Teachers (1974) (in which he played a heterosexual celebrity with a food fetish) and The Rose (1979) (in which he again played a drag performer).

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Greer appeared on television episodes of MannixIronsideThe Streets of San FranciscoRowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and Sunshine. He was a regular performer on the short-lived Bobbie Gentry Happiness Hour in 1974.  In the 1980s and 1990s, he provided the voice of several television cartoon characters, most notably the corrupt “Mayor Oscar Bulloney” on the ABC cartoon series Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa (1992–1994).

Greer was a longtime resident of Los Angeles and an active member of the Beaux Arts Society, Inc. (USA), which named him a Distinguished Artist in 1996

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Mike Gwilyn

Born in Neath, Gwilym is the brother of actor Robert Gwilym, son of Arthur Aubrey Remington Gwilym and Renée Mathilde Eugénie Léonce Dupont. His parents were the proprietors of a women’s clothing chain in Wales. Mike’s Belgian maternal grandfather was the oil industrialist Edmond Jules Dupont from Liège. Mike Gwilym’s interest in acting began while at Wycliffe Preparatory School,  but he began his acting career while at university at Oxford with the Oxford University Dramatic Society, and went on to join the GlasgowCitizens’ Theatre before becoming an associate actor of the Royal Shakespeare Company

His stage debut was as ‘Prince Hal’ in Henry IV, Part 1 at the Playhouse Theatre, Sheffield, UK in 1969.

Mike Gwillyn

Gwilym joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1974; his debut in London was with that company in that year as ‘Vlass’ in Summerfolk, at the Aldwych Theatre.[2] He starred in many of their productions during the late 1970s and early 1980s, including The Comedy of ErrorsKing LearTroilus and Cressida, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. He made his television debut in the BBC‘s 1975 adaptation of How Green Was My Valley. His most high-profile role was as jockey-turned-detective Sid Halley in The Racing Game, a six-part Yorkshire Television series based on Dick Francis‘s 1965 novel Odds Against,[5] and his film credits include roles in Hopscotch (1980), Venom (1981), Priest of Love (1981), A.D.(1985), and Peter the Great (1986). He subsequently returned to playing classical roles on stage and screen. In the BBC Television Shakespeare series, he starred in Coriolanus (as Aufidius), in Love’s Labour’s Lost (as Berowne), and Pericles, Prince of Tyre in the title role.

Mike Gwillyn

Gwilym retired from the professional stage to the South of Spain (province of Malaga), where his parents had a summer home. From the year 2001 he has shared a home with his partner in Sotogrande in the province of Cadiz. [6]

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Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant
Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant. Wikipedia.


Born Olive Kathryn Grandstaff in West ColumbiaTexas, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1955. Two years later she became Bing Crosby‘s second wife, being more than thirty years his junior. The couple had three children, HarryMary Frances, and Nathaniel.[2] She appeared as a guest star on her husband’s 1964–1965 ABC sitcom The Bing Crosby Show.

Crosby largely retired from acting after her marriage, but did have featured roles as Princess Parisa in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), and in the courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder (1959). She also played the part of “Mama Bear” alongside her husband and children in Goldilocks and co-starred with Jack Lemmon in the comedy Operation Mad Ball (1957), with Tony Curtis in the drama Mister Cory (1957) and as a trapeze artist in The Big Circus (1959). In the mid-1970s, she hosted The Kathryn Crosby Show, a 30-minute local talk-show on KPIX-TV in San Francisco. Husband Bing appeared as a guest occasionally. Since Bing Crosby’s death in 1977, she has taken on a few smaller roles and the lead in the short-lived 1996 Broadway musical State Fair.

In the 1960s, Crosby studied for and received her nursing degree at the Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles.

For 16 years ending in 2001, Crosby hosted the Crosby National Golf Tournament at Bermuda Run Country Club in Bermuda Run, North Carolina. A nearby bridge carrying U.S. Route 158 over the Yadkin River is named for Kathryn Crosby.

On November 4, 2010, Crosby was seriously injured in an automobile accident in the Sierra Nevada that killed her 85-year-old second husband, Maurice William Sullivan, whom she had married in 2000.

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Liam Garrigan

Liam Garrigan

Liam Garrigan. Wikipedia.

Liam Thomas Garrigan (born 17 October 1981) is an English actor. As a youth he attended classes at Kingston upon Hull’s Northern Stage Company and was a student at Wyke College, Kingston upon Hull. His first television role was as Nic Yorke in the BBC continuing drama series Holby City. He is best known for his roles as Ian Al-Harazi on the Fox series 24: Live Another Day and King Arthur in the ABC series Once Upon a Time and Transformers: The Last Knight.

Liam was sent to musical theater classes by his mother at an early age, he was five years old when he played a munchkin in Northern Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz, and he later began, at age seven, to have one-on-one acting lessons with Northern Theatre’s founder Richard Green. After attending Endsleigh Primary School and St Mary’s, Liam studied at Wyke Sixth Form College, where he focused on theater studies, history and English literature, while continuing acting classes at Northern Theatre, as well as giving performances at the National Theatre and the Edinburgh Festival. During his time at Wyke, he began working on audition pieces for drama school, with his eventual admission into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he trained to be a professional actor. He has appeared in BBC TV dramas Holby City,  DoctorsThe Chase and ITV1’s Agatha Christie’s Marple. He also portrayed Alfred in the Starz TV miniseries The Pillars of the Earth. He appeared in Ultimate Force as Corporal Edward Dwyer during the third series. He also starred in the 2008 and 2010 seasons of Irish drama series, RTÉ‘s Raw.In January 2011, Garrigan starred in the second series of BBC One‘s wartime drama serial Land Girls. From 2012 to 2013, Liam starred as Sgt. Liam Baxter in Strike Back, before being cast as Ian Al-Harazi in 2014’s 24: Live Another Day. The same year, he appeared in the American 3D action fantasy film, The Legend of Hercules. In January 2014, Garrigan appeared in Silent Witness. In 2015, Garrigan played the recurring role of King Arthur on Once Upon a Time and later reprised this role in 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight.

Garrigan was born in Kingston upon HullEast Riding of Yorkshire, England to Liz and Brian Garrigan, and he is the eldest of three siblings. In September 2016, Garrigan became engaged to singer-songwriter Beth Rowley.  The two were married on 1 July 2017.

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Meg Foster

Meg Foster

Meg Foster. Wikipedia

Foster was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, to David and Nancy (née Adamson) Foster, and grew up in Rowayton, Connecticut with four siblings: sisters Gray, Jan, and Nina, and brother Ian.[1][2][unreliable source?] [3] She studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York.[4]

In 1968, Foster acted in a Cornell Summer Theater production of John Brown’s Body.  Later in 1968, she was in the off-Broadwayproduction of The Empire Builders.

When Loretta Swit was unable to reprise her film role of Detective Christine Cagney in the Cagney & Lacey series, Foster took on the role for the short (six episodes) first season.

Foster worked throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. She guest-starred in numerous TV shows including two episodes of Hawaii Five-O (1973 and 1976), The Six Million Dollar Manseason two episode “Straight on ’til Morning” (1974), Three for the Road (1975), and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season four episode “The Muse” (1996).

Other TV shows include BonanzaThe Twilight ZoneHere Come the BridesStorefront LawyersBarnaby JonesMurder, She WroteMiami ViceThe Cosby ShowQuantum LeapER, and Xena: Warrior Princess. She was Hera in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

She also appeared in a number of memorable movie roles throughout the 80s, beginning with a small but memorable role as showgirl in a traveling carnival in Carny, starring Jodie Foster, Gary Busey, and Robbie Robertson; the villainous Evil-Lyn in the big-screen version of Masters of the Universe and Holly in the John Carpenter film They Live alongside “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

She was nominated for a 1982 Genie Award for “Best Performance by a Foreign Actress” for the film Ticket to Heaven. Since the 1990s, Foster has acted mainly in stage productions, including King Lear and Barabbas.

Foster’s striking pale-blue eyes were dubbed “the eyes of 1979” by Mademoiselle magazine.  In a newspaper interview that same year, she stated that her eyes, at least in her opinion, were not “so distinctive”. However, on some occasions film and television producers did have Foster wear contact lenses to lessen what they viewed as the distractive effects of her eyes during screen performances.[10]

Foster is divorced from Canadian actor Stephen McHattie. She has a son, Christopher.

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Frederic Forest

Frederic Forest

Frederic Forest. Wikipedia.

Frederic Fenimore Forrest Jr. (born December 23, 1936) is an American actor. Forrest came to public attention for his performance in When the Legends Die (1972), which earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. He went on to receive Academy and Golden Globe Award nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category for his portrayal of Huston Dyer in musical drama The Rose (1979).

Forrest portrayed Jay “Chef” Hicks in Francis Ford Coppola‘s epic war film Apocalypse Now (1979), and collaborated with Coppola on four other films: The Conversation (1974), One from the Heart (1982), Hammett (1982) and Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988). Other credits include The Missouri Breaks (1976), The Two Jakes (1990) and Falling Down (1993), along with the television series 21 Jump StreetLonesome Dove and Die Kinder.

Forrest was born in Waxahachie, Texas, the son of Virginia Allie (née McSpadden) and Frederic Fenimore Forrest, a furniture store owner.[1]

He is known for his roles as Chef in Apocalypse NowWhen The Legends DieIt Lives Again, the neo-Nazi surplus store owner in Falling DownRight to Kill? and for playing the writer Dashiell Hammett twice in film — in Hammett (1982) and in Citizen Cohn (1992 TV movie). He had a role as the notorious Mexican/Indian bandit Blue Duck in the 1989 miniseries, Lonesome Dove. He was Academy Award-nominated in the Supporting Actor category for his role in The Rose.[2] He was married to Marilu Henner from 1980 to 1982.

Notable roles include four films directed by Francis Ford CoppolaApocalypse Now (as Engineman 3rd Class “Chef” Hicks), The ConversationOne from the Heart and Tucker: The Man and His Dream, along with Hammett, produced by Coppola.

He also appeared in Valley GirlThe Two JakesThe Stone BoyThe Missouri BreaksThe Deliberate Stranger (TV), Promise Him Anything (TV) and horror maestro Dario Argento‘s first American film, Trauma.

On television, he played Captain Richard Jenko on the first season of the Fox Television series 21 Jump Street, in 1987. Forrest was subsequently replaced by actor Steven Williams, who played Captain Adam Fuller for the remainder of the series. In 1990, he appeared as private investigator Lomax in the BBC miniseries Die Kinder. He played Sgt. McSpadden in the Civil War-themed movie Andersonville and real-life U.S. Army General Earle Wheeler in 2002’s Path to War, the final film of director John Frankenheimer.

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Betty Field

Betty Field

Betty Field (February 8, 1913 – September 13, 1973) was an American film and stage actress.

Betty Field

Field was born in Boston, Massachusetts to George and Katharine (née Lynch).  She began acting before she reached age 15 and went into stock theater immediately after graduating from high school. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

Producer/director George Abbott is credited with having discovered Field.

THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS, bottom left: Harry Carey, top fourth from left: John Wayne, top center: Betty Field, 1941.

Field began her acting career in 1934 on the London stage  in Howard Lindsay‘s farce She Loves Me Not. Following its run she returned to the United States and appeared in several stage successes, then made her film debut in 1939.

Field’s Broadway credits include Page Miss Glory (1934), Room Service (1937), Angel Island (1937), If I Were You (1938), What a Life(1938), The Primrose (1939), Ring Two (1939), Two on an Island (1940), Flight to the West (1940), A New Life (1943), The Voice of the Turtle (1943), Dream Girl (1945), The Rat Race (1949), Not for Children (1951), The Fourposter (1951), The Ladies of the Corridor (1953), Festival (1955), The Waltz of the Toreadors (1958), A Touch of the Poet (1958), A Loss of Roses (1959), Strange Interlude (1963), Where’s Daddy? (1966), and All Over (1971).

Her final stage performances were in three productions at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1971.

Field’s role as Mae, the sole female character, in Of Mice and Men (1939) established her as a dramatic actress.  She starred opposite John Wayne in the 1941 movie The Shepherd of the Hills. Field played a supporting, yet significant role as Cassandra Tower in Kings Row (1942). 

A life member of The Actors Studio,  Field preferred performing on Broadway and appeared in Elmer Rice‘s Dream Girl and Jean Anouilh‘s The Waltz of the Toreadors, but returned to Hollywood regularly, appearing in Flesh and Fantasy (1943), The Southerner (1945), The Great Gatsby (1949), Picnic (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Peyton Place (1957), for which she was nominated for a Laurel AwardBUtterfield 8 (1960) and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962). Her final film role was in Coogan’s Bluff in 1968. She also appeared on television series such as General Electric TheaterAlfred Hitchcock PresentsDr. Kildare and many more.

Her first marriage to playwright Elmer Rice ended in divorce in May 1956. The couple had three children, John, Paul and Judith. John became a lawyer, but he died in a swimming accident at age 40. Her second marriage to Edwin J. Lukas lasted from 1957 to 1967. Her third marriage to Raymond Olivere lasted from 1968 until her death in 1973.[citation needed]

Field died from a stroke on September 13, 1973, at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts,  aged 60.

Tribute

2015

Feisty, Flirtatious & Fearful – Betty Field (1916 – 1973)

A hugely talented actress who went from playing attractive young flirts to plain motherly types, Betty Field much preferred stage to screen, and even though her movie career was sporadic, she played some memorable characters in a career spanning almost thirty years.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts on February 8th 1916, Betty had a fondness for theatre from an early age, and by 1933 was acting on the London stage. Making her movie debut in 1939, Field had a notable role in Lewis Milestone’s terrific version of John Steinbeck’s rural tragedy ‘Of Mice and Men’(’39). Starring Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr. Betty played Mae Jackson, the pretty and conniving flirt who’s accidentally killed by Chaney, Jr’s gentle giant; Lennie. It was a strong sexy turn, and was soon followed by another in John Cromwell’s ‘Victory’ (’40), as a showgirl chased by both Fredric March and Jerome Cowan. 

The following year saw Betty shine as a sleazy femme-fatale in Anatole Litvak’s excellent noir ‘Blues in the Night’ (’41), before being poisoned by her doctor father (Claude Rains) in the small-town melodrama ‘Kings Row’ (’42), now famous for containing perhaps Ronald Reagan’s finest performance. After a touching turn playing Joel McCrea’s wife in the excellent biopic ‘The Great Moment’ (’44), another good part came in Jean Renoir’s terrific and rather moving drama ‘The Southerner’ (’45) as another loyal wife, this time to Zachary Scott’s hard-working farmer. A high profile role came in the 1949 version of ‘The Great Gatsby’, playing Daisy opposite Alan Ladd’s Jay Gatsby. The movie was not well received, with Field considered miscast in a part that, to this day, is known as being very difficult to carry off.

Following the disappointment of ‘Gatsby’, Field spent the next few years on stage and television before receiving supporting parts in Joshua Logan’s two big screen versions of successful stage productions. First she was Kim Novak’s mother in ‘Picnic’ (’55), and then stole the show as sexy diner owner Grace, in the climactic snow-bound section of ‘Bus Stop’ (’56) with Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray. Another big hit was Mark Robson’s 1957 soap-opera ‘Peyton Place’, where Field was the browbeaten wife of Arthur Kennedy’s drunken handyman.

After a witty turn playing Elizabeth Taylor’s nosy neighbour in ‘Butterfield 8’ (’60) Field had one of her best roles as Burt Lancaster’s quiet-spoken wife, in ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’. Although she was only in a few scenes, they were all memorable, especially her final prison visit with Lancaster, which is rather moving and showed Field at her very best. 

Field was also excellent as a pregnant missionary in John Ford’s final movie ‘7 Women’ (’66), a studio-bound yet mostly compelling period drama with Anne Bancroft and Sue Lyon among the other missionary women. A rare comedy followed with the hit-and-miss sex farce ‘How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life’ (’68), and she was wonderful in it, playing Stella Stevens’ sarcastic landlady. Field’s final role came in Don Siegel’s New York cop thriller ‘Coogan’s Bluff’ (’68), as the shady mother of Don Stroud’s psychotic criminal. She was great as usual, really inhabiting the role of an aggressive mother defending her son from Clint Eastwood’s no-nonsense deputy.

Just five years later, at the fairly young age of 57, Field sadly died following a stroke, on September 13th 1973. Married three times with two sons and a daughter, Betty Field was somewhat underappreciated in movies, and while not a big fan of Hollywood, she still managed to give some outstanding performances in a wide range of roles. A far better actress than most of the material given to her, Betty Field’s expressive performances saw her in everything from literary classics to some now cult pictures.

Favourite Movie: Birdman of Alcatraz
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Georgie Fame

Georgie Fame
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Oreste Kirkop.

Oreste Kirkop

Oreste Kirkop biography from “Opera Vivra”.

Oreste Kirkop (Chircop), Malta’s singing ambassador of the Fifties who achieved international fame was born at Hamrun on July 26, 1923, the sixth child among the ten siblings of Jean Chircop and Fortunata Panzavecchia. Discovered and trained first by the Maltese tenor Nicolo’ Baldacchino, and later by Giuseppina Ravaglia, the voice of Oreste Kirkop emerged during the immediate post war period. He made his debut as Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana on the 24 February 1945. Following his successful debut he continued to sing other leading tenor roles in Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Bohème, Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, Faust, Tosca and the Maltese opera Figlio del Sole.

The 23rd December 1948 remains an important date in the career of Oreste Kirkop when as a member of the audience sitting in the auditorium of the Manoel Theatre during a performance of Rigoletto, he was asked there and then to substitute for the indisposed Italian tenor who had to abandon the production after the second act. Oreste’s presence on stage brought great excitement among the audience. By the beginning of the last act he had gained confidence and was in such fine fettle that he completely stole the show by his rendering of La donna è mobile, ending on a beautifully sustained ringing top note that brought the house down with shouts of ‘bis’ – as the audience stamped their feet, bringing the performance to a temporary halt. Verdi’s Rigoletto was brought to an exciting conclusion and the crowd left the Manoel Theatre elated at the evening’s unexpected performance.

Between November 1949 and May 1950 Oreste had the opportunity to appear in concert with two famous La Scala singers, the celebrated baritone Tito Gobbi and the equally famous soprano Maria Caniglia.

Meanwhile Maltese baritone Joseph Satariano, who have achieved great success singing abroad in the company of great stars including Schipa, Melba and Chaliapin, visited Malta during the summer of 1950. On hearing the young tenor, he invited Oreste Kirkop to join him in London for an audition with the Carl Rosa opera company. By this time Oreste had already given some 150 performances in Malta, appearing in 10 different operas.

After a successful audition, Oreste made his debut with the Carl Rosa on 19th September 1950 as the Duke in Rigoletto at the Grand Theatre in Leeds. The Yorkshire

Evening Post reported in bold headlines “He is an echo of Caruso : Oreste Kirkop, a young Maltese tenor scored a great triumph in his debut” adding “Kirkop for whom a great future is predicted is a young tenor of distinguished appearance and fine physique”. Throughout his three seasons with the Carl Rosa opera company, Oreste continued to forge a sound operatic repertoire and a commanding stage presence. These were the formative years in which he acquired more experience in the company of established singers and great conductors like John Pritchard, Edward Downes, Charles Mackerras.

1953 proved to be a very important year — a year of achievement. He left the Carl Rosa company to become the leading tenor of the Sadlers Wells scoring an overwhelming success in Cavalleria Rusticana, Bohème and Tosca. The Daily Express critic wrote: “The Maltese tenor Oreste Kirkop faced his first London audience. He quickly proved himself to be a singer of real merit. Good tenors are scarce everywhere and worth their weight in gold in Britain. Mr Kirkop’s tone is solid and full. It has meat on its bones”.

The Opera Magazine of May 1953 in its review written by Harold Rosenthal said: “He is one of the best Cavaradossi’s heard since before the war and I can honestly say
that not since Gigli‘s appearance in this part in 1938-39 have I heard the last act music so beautifully sung”.

Oreste hit the headlines once again when he inaugurated the Sadlers Wells Autumn Season with a revival of Luisa Miller, an opera by Giuseppe Verdi, which had not been staged for 75 years. “Kirkop’s tone is rich and golden, but he has not rested content merely with nature’s gift. He has cultivated a style which now makes him the finest Verdi tenor in this country”.

In between these roles Oreste became a frequent guest of various radio and television stations including a BBC production of I Pagliacci in which he sang the role of Canio. It was also at this time that British film companies including London Films, Associated British Pictures Corporation, as well as Hollywood’s Paramount Pictures, cast their eyes on the Maltese tenor, but Oreste’s choice was for Paramount Pictures.

The August 1953 edition of Opera Magazine singled out the leading singers for that year’s outstanding oval achievements: Norma — Maria Callas, Orpheus — Kathleen Ferrier, Amneris — Giulietta Simionata, Adalgisa Ebe Stignani, Boris Godunov — Nicola Rossi Lemeni, Cavaradossi — Oreste Kirkop.

It was therefore no surprise that Covent Garden management began to show keen interest in engaging Oreste Kirkop which finally led to an invitation for a number of guest appearances. Oreste Kirkop’s debut at Covent Garden in the leading tenor role in Rigoletto took place on the 18th January 1954. With this performance Oreste became the first Maltese tenor ever to sing a major role at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. The following day The London press acclaimed Oreste and gave prominence to his vocal and histrionic talents: The Star reported in big headlines: “Kirkop, superb at the opera had to halt which each aria was applauded, something that does not often happen at Covent Garden”. The Daily Express — “Oreste Kirkop, 28 year old Maltese tenor was one of the four stars who shone at Covent Garden last night in Rigoletto. The Daily Mail — “Oreste Kirkop, a young Maltese tenor accorded a hearty share in the plaudits at the end of Rigoletto last night has the aura of success about him. He acts with confidence and has physical as well as vocal grace. He sang the famous part of the Duke of Mantua with superb technique”.

The Financial Times covering a London Production of Tosca after Oreste had left for America reminded its readers that “with Oreste Kirkop’s departure for Hollywood, we have lost a splendid Cavaradossi.”

Hollywood eagerly awaited its new star and spared no effort to launch its new discovery. The name of Oreste Kirkop, the singing star form the Island of Malta appeared on every newspaper, while top notch personalities including Bob Hope and Bing Crosby introduced the new singer to millions of viewers on American T.V. For Paramount Pictures, Oreste undertook the title-role in The Vagabond King with music by Rudolph Friml playing opposite a star-studied cast — Kathryn Grayson, Sir Cedric Hardwick and Rita Moreno. Much admired in its time, the film was shown wildly in America and throughout Europe. It was also featuredby the BBC in 1968 among the great musical milestones of the silver screen.

Among the first to sing straight opera in Las Vegas between 1956-58, Oreste found new audiences and adulation through an exclusive contract with the NBC Opera Company with whom he visited 57 American cities, always appearing in leading tenor roles. His engagements included the first ever TV production of Rigoletto, which was beamed live from New York. He was also in great demand to appear on all American’s principal television personality shows including ‘Shower of Stars’. After 3 years in Hollywood, Oreste, at his own request, left Paramount Pictures. Recognizing Oreste as a performer of significant box-office impact, Covent Garden, The Daily Mail of the 9th April 1958 wrote “One could have imagined at Covent Garden last night that Puccini wrote the part of Rodolfo in La bohème for Oreste Kirkop”.

One critic summed up the reasons for Oreste Kirkop’s meteoric rise to fame. “With a voice whose opulence sweeps up in splendid climaxes, in turn exultant, compassionate, tender, now ringing like a trumpet call, now with high notes opening like a flower on a stem, Oreste Kirkop, the Hollywood singing star enchains his audience. His repertoire ranges from entreating Neapolitan songs to operatic arias and with each melodic cameo is a little story — Bravissimo!”

Malta is proud of Oreste Kirkop. His art reigned supreme — and wherever he went the name of Malta went with him; proving himself not only a great artist but also Malta’s singing ambassador. To* of Malta’s Prime Ministers in office at the time of Oreste’s career sent their personal messages of appreciation for the good name and publicity he gave to Malta in the foreign press. His successful career always in leading tenor roles enabled Oreste to make his wish come through, to retire in Malta, which he did in 1960.

Good tenors like Oreste Kirkop are a rare breed. The voice was of a remarkable quality used with intelligence and great artistry. Even when singing at extreme dynamics, under pressure, Oreste’s voice retained its characteristic glowing beauty. Apart from his singing, he was also a great personality on stage. Personality is almost as important as the voice. One could easily pick him out of a crowd, because his private personality was an extension of his great personality on stage. And this combination is a rare quality indeed.