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Charlton Heston

Charlton Heston

The actor Charlton Heston, who has died after suffering from Alzheimer’s possessed in abundance ambition, screen presence, a fine physique, chiselled jaw and an outstanding voice. Plus a liking for the classics and heroic characters, and a determination to survive. His professional survival lasted well over 50 years, and he famously played Ben-Hur, for which he won an Oscar, American presidents, Moses, General Gordon, Michelangelo and God (twice), alongside more mundane roles.

He had been active in civil rights issues in the 1950s, long involved with the Screen Actors Guild and with the American Film Institute. In the late 1960s his politics moved significantly to the right and his conservatism and support of the gun lobby left him open to considerable criticism. None of which seemed to worry him or modify his resolute opposition to political correctness.

No actor has made a screen debut more prescient than his. Aged just 18 he starred in Peer Gynt, in a silent version of Ibsen’s play, accompanied by Grieg’s music and given modest coherence by the use of intertitles. The youthful director, David Bradley, filmed his gangling, handsome star in wooded glades splashed by waterfalls, in scanty costumes. Seen today, it looks like the softest of soft porn.

Bradley made amends years later by casting Heston in a more suitable role as Mark Antony in a more coherent version of a great play, Julius Caesar (1950). The film reveals his star as a young man now matured into the serious, sturdy, bass- voiced actor who was to make a further 60 features, numerous TV movies and series, and be both a stage actor and director of distinction.

Heston was born Charles Carter in Chicago , and when his parents divorced and his mother remarried he took his stepfather’s name. He began acting at school, studied his craft at Northwestern University, made his extraordinary screen debut and soon after had his would-be career interrupted by the war. He served three years in the US Air Force as a B-25 radio operator and towards the end of his service finally persuaded his youthful sweetheart – Lydia Clarke – to marry him.

It proved a lifelong commitment, and she became the bedrock to his life and work. Although Lydia remained an actor, she largely forsook her career to be a wife, and mother to Fraser and Holly. However, during the immediate postwar years she and Chuck, as he has invariably been called, lived in New York and acted on stage there and throughout the country.

Heston’s break came with the emergence of live television, dominated by a group of directors, and writers, plus a horde of actors who found experience and employment in modern and classic plays. Heston played Antony again, for television, and soon after for Bradley in the film shot in Chicago. He also played Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Macbeth in a 90-minute version, and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. The pay was low and the work hard, but by 1950 he was an experienced actor whose destiny was Hollywood.

His debut was the thriller Dark City and during the next two years he played in The Savage and a heated melodrama Ruby Gentry (1952), as Jennifer Jones’s lover. But it was the oft-quoted sighting by Cecil B DeMille that secured the role as circus manager in The Greatest Show on Earth. The film proved a smash hit and led to 10 films in three years.

He played Andrew Jackson in The President’s Lady, Buffalo Bill Cody in Pony Express, and in The Naked Jungle he fought against an advancing tide of ravenous ants. Gentler times came in a rare comedy, The Private War of Major Benson (1955).

A return to DeMille the following year ushered in the most prolific and successful period of his screen career, when he counted high among Hollywood’s top leading men. The Ten Commandments (1956), in which he played Moses, set the seal on his work and gave him the ability to choose his roles, generally with care and acumen. Sometimes intriguingly, as in the case of Orson Welles’s quirky, magnificent Touch of Evil (1958), where Heston, against type, played the Mexican detective Vargas. It was arguably his only work for a great director and he acquitted himself well.

In the same busy year he went straight into a prestige Western opposite Gregory Peck, The Big Country. Its director, William Wyler, then gave him his most important break – the title role in Ben-Hur (1959). A vast, exhausting part, it won Heston the Oscar as best actor and set him in a class apart. The physique (Heston had been a youthful footballer and played tennis very competitively throughout his life) and the broken-nosed, granite face became associated ever afterwards with historical characters.

Two years later he compounded this by appearing in an exhilarating El Cid, playing the title role of the legendary 11th-century Spanish warrior.

Time out for some lighter films, then a brilliant flawed western as Major Dundee (1965), directed by the capricious Sam Peckinpah, whose directorial manner did not sit happily with the orthodox dedication of his star. Even so, Heston sacrificed his considerable salary to help complete the film and later supported Peckinpah against studio interference and re-editing. His performances as Ben-Hur, El Cid and Dundee represented the pinnacle of his career.

More gruelling work followed: playing John the Baptist in the dreary The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), then Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy, depicting the sculptor’s labours painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He was out-acted by Rex Harrison, playing the Pope, in that particular movie but then received much better reviews than his idol Laurence Olivier when they co-starred in Khartoum (1966).

He returned to the west in a sombre character role, playing the lead as Will Penny (1968), a film which he and the critics regarded more highly than the public. He fared better commercially in the first and best of the series, Planet of the Apes (1968), directed by a friend and collaborator from their television days, Franklin Schaffner. They also made the intriguing historical drama The War Lord (1965). The public proved dismissive of his subsequent work, Number One (1969) – a football story which surfaced in Britain only at the National Film Theatre. In between there had been a television movie in which he played God.

He was easily tempted back as Antony in a further version of Julius Caesar (1970). It proved stagey and dull, although Heston held his own opposite John Gielgud, and easily outshone Jason Robards as a lamentable Brutus. He sought and found some commercial success with the lengthy The Hawaiians (1970) and a futuristic thriller, The Omega Man (1971). But times were changing: Heston was nudging 50 and a decade of rather different films loomed.

He found himself battling against manmade catastrophes and in situations where strength and an overwhelming desire to survive became paramount. He could be seen as the Captain in Skyjacked (1972), as a heroic LA engineer in Earthquake, as the passengers’ saviour in Airport (both 1974). And again as captain in Two-Minute Warning and The Battle of Midway (both 1976).

Between times he enjoyed great success as a police detective in the sombre Soylent Green (1972), trying to stave off the end of the world, and tellingly played Cardinal Richelieu in both Musketeers’ films, energetically directed by Richard Lester. Sadly, none of Lester’s invention rubbed off on Heston when he turned director with Antony and Cleopatra (1973). Instead his directorial influences were Schaffner and Wyler. Having adapted the play for the screen, cast it, played Antony and directed it, the film became a labour of great love. Its failure upset him more than anything else in his long career.

After a flurry of so-so movies, he starred as a fur trapper in a film written by his son Fraser, The Mountain Men (1980), and in the same year compounded that error with the ludicrous The Awakening. With flagrant lack of taste but admirable family loyalty, he directed Mother Lode (1982), from another script by his son, who also produced the movie. Its lack of success ushered in a major career change with a move towards television and stage work. His persona seemed at odds with the lighter style of acting current in the 1980s.

Among the television parts he took on was a two-year stint as Jason Colby in The Colbys (1985-87). One of his favourite stage roles – played several times, including a successful London run – was as Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons. Working with his son he filmed it, using his experience and some stage cast members, turning it into a television success. This quick and profitable film led Ted Turner to finance him again in a retelling of Treasure Island with Heston as Long John Silver.

Also in 1990, Heston played in yet another remake – as the Scottish grandfather in The Little Kidnappers. The same year, among other projects, he played God in a sentimental film, Almost an Angel. He continued working with Fraser, filming a play he had directed and acted in, as an untypical Sherlock Holmes. Crucifer of Blood (1991) proved a rather stolid work and was quickly followed by a TV film where his role as the Captain and its title – Crash Landing, the Rescue of Flight 232 – tells all.

He guested as Good Actor in the juvenile Wayne’s World 2 – and also in 1993 took a small role in the enjoyable western Tombstone. He was called in by director James Cameron for a key role in the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, True Lies, as the only actor around who looked as though he could intimidate Arnie on screen. His flinty demeanour did the trick and Heston enjoyed the challenge. He then headed for his favourite city, London, to act the Player King in Kenneth Branagh’s interminable Hamlet (1996) and was called on for his imposing voice to narrate Disney’s animated feature Hercules.

A couple of years before, he had published his autobiography, In the Arena. Its 600 pages covered a busy, fulfilled life that placed family and friends above career. It was his third publication. He had earlier edited a version of his meticulously kept journals detailing his work, and in 1990 his fascinating Beijing Diary recorded his commitment to a project in China where – for no pay – he had directed The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, a play he had acted in several times.

In June 1998, Heston was elected president of the National Rifle Association, for which he had posed for ads holding a rifle. He delivered a jab at then President Bill Clinton, saying: “America doesn’t trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don’t trust you with our guns.” He stepped down as NRA president in April 2003, the year he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Film-maker Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine (2002) tried to show him as callous towards shooting victims. But Moore’s treatment of the visibly frail actor may have backfired. Heston made no apology for his rightist views, and his belief in the individual and nonconformity was reflected in many of his preferred stage characters, from Holmes to Thomas More and Becket, James Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night and, of course, Antony. In the theatre he worked often with Lydia, from an early success in The Detective up to Pete Gurney’s Love Letters.

A French critic once described Heston as the axiom of cinema, but the reviewer who noted that if he had not existed then Hollywood would have needed to invent him probably got near the truth. “There was an epic, Everest-like quality to the man and many of the characters he played. He may not have counted as one of the wonders of the world, but he was surely an imposing part of its landscape.”

He is survived by his wife and children.

· Charlton Heston (Charles Carter), actor, born October 4 1923; died April 5 2008

from “The Guardia “ by Brian Baxter.


Nancy Davis

Nancy Davis obituary in “The Guardian”.

Nancy Davis

Nancy Reagan, who has died aged 94, had an extraordinary capacity to sit visibly entranced through the hundreds of speeches made by her husband, the 40th US president (and former actor) Ronald Reagan. But this public display was far different from the admiring conjugality of earlier first ladies such as Mamie Eisenhower and Pat Nixon. Behind Nancy’s gaze lay the reality of Ronald’s long political career – that it would probably never have happened without her influence.

She was born Anne Frances Robbins in New York. After her parents divorced and her mother, Edith, an actor, remarried, Nancy took her stepfather’s surname. Nancy Davis was a middle-ranking film actor in her 20s when she received her initial introduction to Reagan, having already told a friend that he was top of her list of Hollywood’s eligible bachelors.

It was at the height of the McCarthyite purges, and Reagan was head of the Screen Actors’ Guild. The ostensible reason for the meeting was that Nancy had been confused with a leftwing actor of the same name and was afraid of being blacklisted for her supposed communist leanings. The chemistry between the two emerged at this first encounter, but Reagan, still bruised by his divorce in 1949 from the actor Jane Wyman, did not propose for a further two years. When the couple married in 1952, the film industry was in turmoil and both their careers were under threat.

A US supreme court decision had severely constrained the major studios’ business practices, and cinema audiences had slumped by half with the rise of television. By 1955, however, Ronald had secured a lucrative television contract with General Electric and, as the family finances improved, Nancy embarked on a campaign of relentless networking. Central to it was an influential magazine publisher, Walter Annenberg, whom she had met through her film connections.

Annenberg was a major Republican party contributor whose generosity was eventually rewarded by appointment as President Richard Nixon’s ambassador in London. Through his contacts, Nancy had, within a few years, worked her way into an influential private charity known as the Colleagues, with membership limited to 50 of the most socially prominent wives in Los Angeles. That, in turn, brought her in touch with an influential band of Republican businessmen.

They bankrolled Ronald’s political ascent and remained important as his unofficial “kitchen cabinet”. Holmes Tuttle was one of America’s most successful car dealers, Justin Dart owned a chain of pharmacies, Henry Salvatori was an oil prospector (alleged also to run various CIA front companies) and Alfred Bloomingdale was the owner of a chain of department stores.

The critical moment arrived for Nancy in 1962, when General Electric abruptly ended Ronald’s contract because he refused to tone down the political content of the speeches he was making on company tours. By then, however, he was much in demand by business and rightwing political groups, who offered thousands of dollars to hear him espouse an increasingly conservative philosophy.

Nancy’s own political views had been shaped by her stepfather, Loyal Davis, described even by his Republican friends as a bigot, given to antisemitic and racist outbursts. Though Nancy did not go that far, she was certainly well to the right of her husband and undoubtedly achieved a significant shift in his stance. During his union days in Hollywood, Ronald had been a Roosevelt Democrat. After their marriage, he moved steadily to the right and, when the ultra-right Senator Barry Goldwater announced his 1964 presidential bid, Ronald became one of his most fervent campaigners. Once Goldwater’s campaign had ended in one of the worst Republican defeats in history, Tuttle decided that he and his friends must rebuild the party, starting in California. Deeply impressed with Ronald’s performance and popularity, they urged him to run against the state’s Democratic governor, Pat Brown, whose vigorous eight years in office were by then running out of steam. This was when Nancy came into her own.

She masterminded much of her husband’s campaign, including a fund-raising drive sponsored by celebrities such as Walt Disney, James Cagney, Robert Taylor and Randolph Scott. She was never off the telephone to rich potential backers and became notorious for her gimlet-eyed vetting of campaign staff. Ronald romped into the governorship in 1967 by a margin of nearly two to one. His wife’s obvious influence on political issues soon sparked controversy – and the start of Nancy’s repeated feuds with the media.

Refusing to occupy the (admittedly tatty) governor’s mansion, she persuaded the kitchen cabinet to buy and furnish a grander alternative, and then arranged for their costs to be made tax-deductible. She also continued her tight control of staff to the extent that Michael Deaver, later one of Ronald’s key White House aides, was covertly assigned to a “mommy watch” which served to protect staff from her vengeful descent (a role at which he became so adept that it endured through the White House years).

When Ronald’s governorship ended, in 1975, and he clawed his way up the party ladder, Nancy’s political influence was well entrenched and growing. As Lou Cannon commented in his biography of the president: “They made a good political team. He was a dreamer, preoccupied with ultimate destinations. She was a practical person who worried about what lay around the next bend.”

She had more and more to worry about, starting with an attempted assassination by John Hinckley Jr just after Ronald became president in 1981. During her Hollywood days, she had dabbled in astrology. After the shooting she became almost manic about its influence and seriously disrupted a number of international and other political gatherings with arbitrary changes in the president’s schedule, made after she had consulted the astrologer Joan Quigley.

In part this may have been a reaction to the psychological impact of Ronald’s wounds, which was much greater than admitted at the time. He, too, was deeply superstitious and relied heavily on omens and instinct. By the end of his first term, Nancy was worried enough about his condition to try to stop him from seeking re-election. She failed, but spent more and more time dealing with the growing signs of the mental decline that eventually overtook him.

Its principal public impact came during the Iran-Contra scandal, when a low-level White House aide clandestinely organised illegal arms sales to Tehran in the hope of getting American hostages released and then diverted the money to equally illegal funding of rightwing rebels in Nicaragua. As details of the affair emerged, they brought clear evidence that the president had no idea what he might have authorised or what his staff had told him.

Nancy realised far earlier than most that he was in serious danger of impeachment. She set aside her partisan prejudices to call in the veteran Washington lawyer (and one-time Democratic party chairman) Robert Strauss in the hope that he could convince Ronald that he was in serious trouble. The president would not accept any responsibility and eventually got away with a televised apology for the scandal.

Ronald, by then 76 years old and showing it, was about the only American who did not think he was culpable. The official inquiry dodged the issue and put much of the blame on his chief of staff. In 1989, when Ronald left office, Nancy took him back to California, where his increasingly rare public appearances revealed growing evidence of his decline.

In 1994 the couple acknowledged that he had Alzheimer’s disease and their final 10 years until his death in 2004 passed with him losing every memory of his career, and eventually unable to recognise even Nancy.

She is survived by their daughter, Patti, and son, Ron.

Ronald Bergan writes: By far the best role Nancy Reagan ever had was as US first lady. However, as Nancy Davis, her acting career was by no means ignominious. She appeared in several reasonably good movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, the only leading parts she was given by MGM, who had signed her to a five-year contract in 1948, were in the studio’s B features, mostly as devoted housewives.

Having taken a degree in drama at Smith College in Massachusetts, Davis managed to get a role in a touring company production of the play Ramshackle Inn, starring ZaSu Pitts, a friend of her family. After the two-month run ended in New York in December 1944, she decided to stay on in order to fulfil her theatrical ambitions. It took a year of failed auditions, and some modelling work, before she landed the role of a Chinese lady-in-waiting to Mary Martin in the Broadway musical Lute Song.

Her screen debut came in William Dieterle’s romantic fantasy Portrait of Jennie (1948), where she is seen at the end of the movie, with Nancy Olson and Anne Francis, standing in awe in front of the eponymous painting. The following year, she played the wife of an ambitious paediatrician in The Doctor and The Girl; and Barbara Stanwyck’s confidante in East Side, West Side.

Shadow on the Wall (1950) gave Davis her first substantial part, as a cool-headed child psychiatrist, trying to get the truth of a murder witnessed by a young girl. The title of William Wellman’s The Next Voice You Hear … (1950) refers to a mysterious voice on the radio claiming to be God that Davis as the pregnant Mary Smith and her blue-collar worker husband Joe (James Whitmore) hear every night. The film was a comforting exploration of faith, in which Davis, according to the New York Times, “was delightful as the gentle, plain and understanding wife”.

In Night into Morning (1951), she is once more in a sympathetic role as a widowed teacher who helps to console her colleague Ray Milland after his wife and child are killed in an accident. In the episodic It’s a Big Country (1951), Davis is seen again as a teacher, who recommends that one of her pupils needs spectacles, against the wishes of the boy’s stubborn macho father.

Talk About a Stranger (1952), an effective liberal parable, saw Davis reprising the role of a pregnant mother, this time of a boy whose dog has been poisoned, and who blames a foreigner. Her husband was played by George Murphy, who became a Republican senator, and to whom Ronald Reaganonce referred as “my John the Baptist”. Nancy then wound up her MGM contract in Shadow in the Sky (1952) as (what else?) a loving housewife and mother who has to cope with the shell-shocked best friend (Ralph Meeker) of her husband (Whitmore again).

Though by now she had married Ronald Reagan, she continued to act, mainly concentrating on television, and appearing with her husband in episodes of the Ford Television Theatre and General Electric Theater series. In addition, she made three further movies. In Donovan’s Brain (1953), she was the lab assistant and loyal wife of a scientist (Lew Ayres) who has managed to keep a dead man’s brain alive. When she questions his experiments on a monkey, and he explains the reasons why, she replies: “You’re right, darling, I’m being silly.” “Thanks, dear,” he says. “Now will you go and make us one of those wonderful stews.”

The only feature film the Reagans appeared in together was a minor war film, Hellcats of the Navy (1957), he as a submarine commander, she as a nurse. In her final movie, Crash Landing (1958), she is seen in flashback as the wife of a pilot in trouble (Gary Merrill), not really the sort of role to inspire her to continue in the acting profession.

• Nancy (Anne Frances) Reagan, actor and former US first lady, born 6 July 1921; died 6 March 2016


Ace Bhatti

Ace Bhatti

Ahsen Rafiq Bhatti (born 13 September 1970), known professionally as Ahsen Bhatti until 2008 and as Ace Bhatti thereafter, is a British actor who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He has starred in numerous television series, including New Street LawLife Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee HeeThe Sarah Jane Adventures as Haresh Chandra and in EastEnders playing villain Yusef Khan(2010–11).

Bhatti began acting at age fourteen starring in the children series Dramarama, however it wasn’t until the nineties until he furthered his career, for which he appeared in the British soap opera Family PrideBand of GoldHolding On, and most notably as Dr Rajesh Rajah in Cardiac Arrest, among many other television roles during this time. In 2002 Bhatti made a brief appearance in Bend It Like Beckham, played the central character Dave in BBC Three’s dark comedy Grease Monkeys (2003), and played flashy Ash Aslan in 2006’s New Street Law. In 2007 he took on a minor role for two episodes in the first series of Secret Diary of a Call Girl as Ashok, a regular client of the main character, Belle. He reappeared in 2010 in the same role. In 2008 Bhatti appeared as a supporting character in the second series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and reprised his role for the third series in 2009, the fourth series in 2010 and in the fifth series in 2011. Although credited in his early career by his birth name Ahsen Bhatti, Bhatti changed his professional name to Ace Bhatti (Ace is a childhood nickname). In 2011 he played Commander Khokar in the BBC2 series The Shadow Line.

In April 2013, Bhatti became a patron of Theatre Royal Wakefield. In 2018, he played Freddie Mercury‘s father Bomi Bulsara in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody

In 2010, Bhatti was cast as Yusef Khan, the father of already established character Afia Masood (Meryl Fernandes). Bhatti was already known to EastEnders executive producer Bryan Kirkwood when he auditioned for the part, as Kirkwood and Bhatti worked on Coronation Street at the same time. Bhatti was the only actor who auditioned for the part of Yusef.[1] In fact, Wadia recommended Bhatti to Kirkwood to play Yusef, as she “thought that he definitely had the quality that Yusef would need—which is a very ambiguous but charming quality!”[2]Bhatti explained to Digital Spy that the EastEnders cast are very welcoming. He explained: “They’re so welcoming. There’s a lot of joking about. I’m having a great time at EastEnders – it’s a real privilege to be here. I’ve known Nitin and Nina Wadia, who plays Zainab, for a very long time and we’ve always got on very well. Nitin and I play tense scenes together so it’s nice that we can have a laugh afterwards.”[3] He featured in a Domestic violence storyline in late 2011 with co-star Nina Wadia who plays Yusef’s wife Zainab. Yusef starts to abuse Zainab both physically and mentally. He forbids Zainab to leave the house and later starts using her son, Kamil, to control her. Wadia explains that she wants the storyline to have a positive impact against real-life violence. She told BBC News :”I think the idea behind showing a strong woman like Zainab changing like this is to show that it can happen to even the strongest of women. They can change and they can be manipulated – especially if they’re isolated from their friends and family. The manipulator can take advantage, so it’s to prove that it can even happen to people like her. To be honest, if even one woman rings that Action Line at the end of the show and there’s some difference made to her life, I’ll feel like we’ve done our job,” she continued. “It is a serious issue and I’m glad it’s being highlighted. I hope that it wakes anyone up – not just women, I know that there are abused men out there as well. So if it gives anyone the strength to leave a relationship like that, we’ll have done our job.”[4] The scenes where Yusef refused to let Zainab see Kamil pulled in 8.69m viewers at 7.30pm. BBC Three’s repeat of the episode later secured 994k viewers at 10pm


Mariette Hartley

Mariette Hartley

Hartley began her career as a 13-year-old in the White Barn Theatre in Norwalk, Connecticut. In her teens as a stage actress, she was coached and mentored by Eva Le Gallienne. She graduated from Westport’s Staples High School in 1957, where she was an active member of the school’s theater group, Staples Players. Hartley also worked at the American Shakespeare Festival.

Her film career began with an uncredited cameo appearance in From Hell to Texas (1958), a western with Dennis Hopper. In the early 1960s, she moved to Los Angeles and joined the UCLA Theater Group.

Hartley’s first credited film appearance was alongside Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea in the 1962 Sam Peckinpah western Ride the High Country; the role earned her a BAFTAnomination. She continued to appear in film during the 1960s, including the lead role in the adventure Drums of Africa (1963), and prominent supporting roles in Alfred Hitchcock‘s psychological thriller Marnie (1964) — alongside Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery — and the John Sturges drama Marooned (1969).

Hartley also guest starred in numerous TV series during the decade, with appearances in GunsmokeThe Twilight Zone (the episode “The Long Morrow“), The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (starring a young Kurt Russell), the syndicated Death Valley Days (then hosted by Ronald Reagan),Judd, for the DefenseBonanza and Star Trek  among others. In 1965, she had a significant role as Dr. Claire Morton in 32 episodes of Peyton Place.With Dennis Weaver in Gunsmoke(1962)

Hartley continued to feature in numerous film and TV roles during the 1970s, including appearances in two Westerns alongside Lee Van CleefBarquero (1970) and The Magnificent Seven Ride (1972), as well as landing guest roles in episodes of series including Emergency, McCloudLittle House on the PrairiePolice Woman and Columbo — starring in two editions of the latter alongside Peter FalkPublish or Perish co-starring Jack Cassidy (1974) and Try and Catch Me with Ruth Gordon (1977). Hartley portrays similar characters as a publisher’s assistant in both episodes.

In 1977, Hartley appeared in the TV movie The Last Hurrah, a political drama film based on the Edwin O’Connor novel of the same name; the role earned Hartley her first Emmy Award nomination.

Her role as psychologist Dr. Carolyn Fields in “Married”, a 1978 episode of the TV series The Incredible Hulk — in which she marries Bill Bixby‘s character, the alter ego of the Hulk — won Hartley the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She would be nominated for the same award for her performance in an episode of The Rockford Files the following year.

In 1983, Hartley reunited with Bixby in the sitcom Goodnight, Beantown, which ran for two seasons; the role earned her yet another Emmy Award nomination. (She would later work alongside Bixby again in the 1992 TV movie A Diagnosis of Murder, the first of three TV movies that would launch the series Diagnosis: Murder).

In the 1990s, Hartley toured with Elliott Gould and Doug Wert in the revival of the mystery play Deathtrap. Numerous roles in TV movies and guest appearances in TV series during the 1990s and 2000s would follow, including Murder, She Wrote (1992), Courthouse (1995), Nash Bridges (2000) and NCIS (2005). She had recurring roles as Sister Mary Daniel in the soap opera One Life to Live (1999–2001; 10 episodes), and as Lorna Scarry in 6 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2003–2011).

From 1995 to 2015, she hosted the long-running television documentary series Wild About Animals, an educational program.

In 2006, Hartley starred in her own one-woman show, If You Get to Bethlehem, You’ve Gone Too Far, which ran in Los Angeles. She returned to the stage in 2014 as Eleanor of Aquitaine with Ian Buchanan‘s Henry in the Colony Theater Company production of James Goldman‘s The Lion in Winter.

From Wikipedia.


Matt McCoy

Matt McCoy

McCoy was born in Austin, Texas in 1958. He grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and attended Walter Johnson High School, graduating in 1976. McCoy briefly attended University of Maryland, College Park.  He worked briefly at the Harlequin Dinner Theater in Rockville. McCoy began acting when he appeared in two plays in the student-directed one act festival: Winners by Brian Friel, and Footsteps of Doves by Robert Anderson. Moving to New York City, he graduated from Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in 1979.

Since starring as Sgt. Nick Lassard in Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach and Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, his motion picture credits have included White Wolves: A Cry in the Wild II, the Curtis Hanson films The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) and L.A. Confidential (1997), as well as the action comedy National Security (2003) alongside Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn.

He has worked regularly on television. His credits include starring in the sitcom We Got It Made, and guest appearances on The Love BoatMurder, She WroteStar Trek: The Next Generation; The Golden GirlsThe NannyL.A. LawMelrose PlaceNYPD BlueChicago HopeSabrina, the Teenage WitchSix Feet UnderThe West WingCarnivàleCSI: NYSilicon ValleyTrue DetectiveStudio 60 on the Sunset StripReba and Huff. He played Lloyd Braun in two episodes of Seinfeld. He appeared in three Bigfoot-themed movies: Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter (1994), Little Bigfoot (1997) and Abominable (2006).

In 2014, McCoy began appearing as spokesperson in commercials for The Hartford Insurance Company, of which he was identified as a customer on the “compensated endorser” principle.

In 2019, McCoy once again appeared as spokesperson in television commercials for The Hartford Insurance Company. These commercials were directed towards AARP members

from Wikipedia.


Pauline Delaney

Pauline Delaney

Pauline Delaney, accomplished stage, TV and film actress who is best known for her role in Circle of Friends and Into The West, died in London from complications caused by Parkinson’s disease on January 15, 2007.

Ms Delany is born in Dublin on June 8, 1925. Her mother, a keen theatregoer, inspires her love of the stage, taking her on regular visits to the Abbey Theatre and the Gate Theatre. She learns her craft through evening classes at the Brendan Smith Academy in Dublin and later gives up her job as a trainee fashion buyer to tour with a production of Charlie’s Aunt, starring Leslie Phillips.

In the mid-1950s, she marries actor Norman Rodway and they become members of the Globe company, together with Anna ManahanMaureen Toal and Milo O’Shea, presenting new plays at a small Gas Company theatre in Dún Laoghaire. When financial problems force the Globe to close, she helps form Gemini Productions and stars in its 1960s Dublin Theatre Festival success, The Poker Session, by Hugh Leonard.

When the play transfers to London, Delany moves there. Her marriage to Rodway ends and she subsequently forms a relationship with Gerry Simpson, an Irish-born playwright. She is a familiar figure on the London stage, appearing in several productions, including The Hostage at the Royal CourtA Day in the Death of Joe Egg at the King’s Head Theatre and Cross Purpose at Hampstead Theatre.

Delany appears in several TV plays including The DeadShadow of a GunmanStephen D and The Seagull, as well as roles in The BillCasualty and Rumpole of the Bailey. Among her film credits are The Quare FellowBranniganRooney and Nothing but the Best.


Cornelia Hayes-O’Herlihy

Cornelia Hayes O’Herlihy

Cornelia Hayes O’Herlihy

born in Ireland, spent her early profesional life appearing in theatre in London and Dublin, and on television and film in England and America in films, Gods and Monsters and Tears in the Sun with Bruce Willis. She has been starred or featured on in two series of Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit and The Old Curiosity Shop. In theatre she starred in Pride and Prejudice in England. When she married long-time CART member Dan O’Herlihy’s son, Lorcan, Dan called our producer Peggy Webber and said, ”Thank God, I finally have an actress in my family, and a damn good one she is too!” 


Aisling Francoisi

Aisling FrancoisI

From “The Irish Times” by Donald Clarke.


We must resist the temptation to say that Aisling Franciosi is everywhere. It’s about to feel that way, but the Irish-Italian actor – she nods to both nationalities – has ridden the peaks and troughs of her precarious business. A little over a year ago, her gut-wrenching performance in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale knocked the Venice Film Festival sideways. As we meet, she’s shooting the juiciest role in a BBC adaptation of Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus. There is, however, no sense of complacency.

“After The Nightingale, I got one more job and then I had a horrible year – until July of last year,” she says. “You work solidly for seven years and then there’s a dry spell. That was interesting. The Nightingale was getting a lot of attention and people were saying: ‘You’re having such a busy year.’ But I wasn’t actually working.”

People say: ‘If you have positive thoughts, that’s going to affect how you feel.’ The same is true if you are putting yourself in negative feelings for 16 hours a day. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the shoot 

At any rate, The Nightingale is finally here to unsettle and engage brave audiences. Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook casts Franciosi as an Irish immigrant to Tasmania who, after a brutal rape, follows her assailant through rough terrain towards a horrific reckoning. Along the way, she gains an understanding of connections between the colonised Irish and the indigenous peoples of Australia. The consistently strong reviews all focused on the ruthless integrity of Franciosi’s performance. It was an emotionally wrenching experience.

“I had played traumatising roles before, but I had been able to leave the work behind when I went home,” she says. “But this was a whole different experience. The material is very heavy in terms of the violence against women and the racially motivated violence. I had nine months between getting the role and shooting. I did a lot of research. I worked with a clinical psychologist. She had worked with the script since the beginning. She facilitated me meeting real victims of domestic violence.”

Baykali Ganambarr and Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale: ‘The material is very heavy in terms of the violence against women and the racially motivated violence.’ Photograph: Matt Nettheim/IFC Films


We must resist the temptation to say that Aisling Franciosi is everywhere. It’s about to feel that way, but the Irish-Italian actor – she nods to both nationalities – has ridden the peaks and troughs of her precarious business. A little over a year ago, her gut-wrenching performance in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale knocked the Venice Film Festival sideways. As we meet, she’s shooting the juiciest role in a BBC adaptation of Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus. There is, however, no sense of complacency.

“After The Nightingale, I got one more job and then I had a horrible year – until July of last year,” she says. “You work solidly for seven years and then there’s a dry spell. That was interesting. The Nightingale was getting a lot of attention and people were saying: ‘You’re having such a busy year.’ But I wasn’t actually working.”

People say: ‘If you have positive thoughts, that’s going to affect how you feel.’ The same is true if you are putting yourself in negative feelings for 16 hours a day. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the shoot 

At any rate, The Nightingale is finally here to unsettle and engage brave audiences. Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook casts Franciosi as an Irish immigrant to Tasmania who, after a brutal rape, follows her assailant through rough terrain towards a horrific reckoning. Along the way, she gains an understanding of connections between the colonised Irish and the indigenous peoples of Australia. The consistently strong reviews all focused on the ruthless integrity of Franciosi’s performance. It was an emotionally wrenching experience.

“I had played traumatising roles before, but I had been able to leave the work behind when I went home,” she says. “But this was a whole different experience. The material is very heavy in terms of the violence against women and the racially motivated violence. I had nine months between getting the role and shooting. I did a lot of research. I worked with a clinical psychologist. She had worked with the script since the beginning. She facilitated me meeting real victims of domestic violence.”

Baykali Ganambarr and Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale: ‘The material is very heavy in terms of the violence against women and the racially motivated violence.’ Photograph: Matt Nettheim/IFC Films


Fiona Glascott

Fiona Glascot

“Irish Examiner” 2019.

She’s already starred in ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts’, but 2019 will bring even bigger releases for Waterford-born Fiona Glascott. Watch this space, writes Shilpa Ganatra.

Even if Fiona Glascott’s name is unfamiliar, her work won’t be. The Waterford native has channelled Maggie Smith to play a young Professor McGonagall in the latest installment of Fantastic Beasts, bid farewell to her sister played by Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, and portrayed the well-to-do Sarah in Indian Summers.

Those with a sharper memory might remember her from earlier appearances as Matt Le Blanc’s ex in Episodes, the sister of victim Aiden Gallagher in Omagh, and scorned student Isolde in Liz Gill’s romcom Goldfish Memory, which earned them both nominations at that year’s Iftas.

Rest assured, you’ll be hearing much more of Fiona in 2019. “It’s been a really exciting time recently, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good things this year,” she says, speaking from London where she lives. “Being in Fantastic Beasts was a huge thing in 2018, even though it was recorded the year before. It helped me to get to LA and have meetings about future opportunities.”

Things are certainly looking rosy, which is no surprise for those who have caught her performances; she impressively embodies each role to the extent that Fiona Weir, the casting director of Brooklyn, snapped her up for Fantastic Beasts without an audition. But away from the cameras, Fiona’s character is as humble as they come. She speaks with a can-you-believe-it excitement about her life and career, and is as much as a listener as a talker.

Yet she’s so much of an actor that she’s married to one too: The Death of Stalin and Bodyguard star Tom Brooke, with whom she lives in south London.

They met while starring in a live-to-TV theatre production in London eight years ago, soon after Fiona moved from Ireland to pursue her acting career.

“We played husband and wife on a really short job, and I never realised I liked him except smiled every time I saw him and I kept wondering where he was all the time,” she explains.

“A friend of mine suggested that maybe I like him. It turned out he lived quite close to where I did, and he asked if I wanted to meet him after the job finished. I went to meet him and he had laid out a picnic, and as the lights went down over London, he brought out some candles and champagne. I thought, ‘oh he’s good’. We’ve been together since.” The pair married on new year’s eve four years ago, and a year later, their daughter Ruby was born.

“When we had her, we said that we’d stick to our guns with our career — for her, not in spite of her,” she explains. “Of course it helps that the other person is in the same job. Even someone who only works from home might not understand if a job takes you away for a few weeks.

“He has an extraordinary career, and we both make sure each other’s work is exactly what the other person wants it to be. Ruby has always been with me when I’m working, and when he has to travel for the right job, that’s okay. I can hold down the fort with the dogs and child, and we’ll visit if we can.” Rather than pause her own career, with drama’s notoriously all-or-nothing working hours, she’s found that motherhood has helped her focus her goals.

“It’s actively been great for my work, to have a daughter who takes up all my time,” Fiona laughs. “It sounds like a contradiction but it’s true. Being a mother has made me more ambitious. I want to work harder than ever and I want to succeed more, not to just see a role model but also for Ruby to be proud of me. It’s such an enormous change, having a child, that’s propelling me forward.

“I haven’t stopped myself for going for something great because it would take me away,” she adds. “I’m lucky that I had Ruby at a point when I’m choosy about what I do anyway. If I had her in my early twenties it might be a different conversation, but if I want to do a project, it means it would be good enough to have to take her with me, or enrol her in a school, or whatever I was legally allowed to do. I have to look all that up…”

Can Glascott tell based on a script how well a project might fare?

“In my experience, if the performance in the moment is creative and alive and we’re working as a team, they have the best shot of coming out as a complete great production,” she says. “Of course there’s a lot that the actors aren’t involved in, like the editing, cinematography, the music. But on certain jobs, like Brooklyn, even on set it felt believable that I was heartbroken because my sister was going away — despite there being a whole row of crew crammed onto the set with us!

Fiona in a scene from Brooklyn. She’s also played Professor McGonagall in Fantastic Beasts.
Fiona in a scene from Brooklyn. She’s also played Professor McGonagall in Fantastic Beasts.

“That was a bizarre situation. However it came across, there was a camera person crouched down beside me with a microphone on my lap, and the crew almost touching me because there was no room. Working on films strangely ruined watching them for me at first. I’d watch a poignant scene between two people and think ‘but there’s a million people there! They’re not on their own.’”

Filming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was a particular boon as the films are known for their unbeatable quality of cast. Even though the young Professor McGonagall was only in it for a couple of scenes, they were added at JK Rowling’s behest. So while it remains to be seen what JK’s brilliant mind has in store for the third spin-off, our fingers are crossed that Glascott will reprise her role, especially as not many can follow in Maggie Smith’s footsteps.

“I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and Maggie Smith is a legend,” says Glascott. “I didn’t get to meet her but there’s so much of her work in the character, it was like being given a cheat sheet of the character.

“When you think about all the other films she’s done, right back to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, she’s an extraordinary lady and I was understandably nervous. But I was helped massively by Catherine Charlton, the dialogue coach. She had me listen to Maggie’s voice as Professor McGonagall as I went to sleep for about two weeks. My husband was like ‘what are you doing’? And I told him that myself and Maggie were going to have a little lie down. It really helped, it’s such a clever way of getting a speech pattern into your mind.”

Being a Harry Potter fan, experiencing the cloisters of Hogwarts, filmed in Lacock Abbey, was a thrill in itself. 

“Most of the crew are big fans as well, so you chat about the books and it’s a really nice set to work because it’s like people going to have a day out, not just going to work.”

Glascott’s next roles look to be just as intriguing. Firstly, there’s Supervised in which she stars alongside Fionnula Flanagan, Beau Bridges, Tom Berenger, and Louis Gossett Jr. The comedy follows the escapades of four ageing superheroes in a retirement home in Ireland.

After that, there’s The Martini Shot, which wrapped in October 2018. That stars John Cleese, Derek Jacobi, and Matthew Modine [Full Metal Jacket, Stranger Things]. “Matthew plays an ageing film director who’s dying, and wants to make his great last masterpiece,” explains Glascott.

“He’s also got this idea that he’s a god and can change people anyway he wants to. I play Mary, his assistant with whom he has a very intense working relationship.

“It’s a really funny, interesting piece, and Matthew was such a pro. It was great to work with Derek Jacobi in it too; he insisted I call him Del Boy because I kept calling him Sir Derek. But I couldn’t go that far.”

With such varied roles and no sign of her determination abating, it’s no surprise that Glascott’s desires for the future are to carry on the way she’s going. “As I go on, I’m playing more interesting characters in very different projects so I’d love for that to continue. And I’d love to do big movies, as they’re so much fun. Basically, lots more of the same would be wonderful.”


Sydney Tafler

Sydney Tafler

BFI Screenonline

There was certain inevitability that Sydney Tafler would be found playing the title role in Wide Boy (d. Ken Hughes, 1952). In British films of the late 1940s, 50s and 60s, Tafler was most likely to be found on a bombsite selling goods that had mysteriously fallen from the back of a lorry. But there was always more to him than a rakish trilby and a smooth line of patter, for he was a versatile character actor who virtually never gave a bad performance, even in Fire Maidens From Outer Space (d. Cy Roth, 1956).

Tafler graduated from RADA in 1936 and made his acclaimed film debut in It Always Rains On Sunday (d. Robert Hamer, 1947) as a spivvish record shop owner who delights in his part time role as a dance band leader. It set the template for Tafler’s subsequent screen career, from the brash junk dealer in The Lavender Hill Mob (d. Charles Crichton, 1951), and the solicitor in Too Many Crooks (d. Mario Zampi, 1957), roles which demanded immaculate comic timing, to the smooth and sinister Mr. Stone in The Long Arm (d. Charles Frend, 1956). His strip club manager confronted by Charles Hawtrey in Carry On Regardless (d. Gerald Thomas 1961) provides virtually the film’s only funny scene.

Tafler was also found lurking – he was very good at lurking – in a pool hall in Emergency Call (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1952), but Gilbert was the director who offered Tafler the chance to escape from stereotyping. His physiotherapist teaching Douglas Bader how to walk on tin legs in Reach for The Sky (d. Gilbert, 1956) is an outstanding performance in one of the film’s best sequences, but Tafler would have to wait a further 12 years for another chance to show his range. His Goldberg in The Birthday Party (d. William Friedkin, 1968) is one of the best screen Pinter performances , vulpine of smile and dead-eyed with menace. Tafler’s CV raises questions as to how Jewish characters were depicted in post-war British cinema, but what cannot be denied is his sheer talent. 

Andrew Roberts