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Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn. Wikipedia.

Goldie Jeanne Hawn (born November 21, 1945) is an American actress, producer, dancer and singer.[1] She rose to fame on the NBCsketch comedy program Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968–70), before going on to receive the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Cactus Flower (1969).

Hawn maintained bankable star status for more than three decades, while appearing in such films as There’s a Girl in My Soup (1970), Butterflies Are Free (1972), The Sugarland Express (1974), Shampoo (1975), Foul Play (1978), Seems Like Old Times (1980), and Private Benjamin (1980), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing the title role.

Hawn’s later work includes starring roles in the films Overboard (1987), Bird on a Wire (1990), Death Becomes Her (1992), Housesitter(1992), The First Wives Club (1996), The Out-of-Towners (1999) and The Banger Sisters (2002). After a fifteen-year hiatus from film acting, Hawn made a brief comeback in Snatched (2017). She is the mother of actors Oliver HudsonKate Hudson, and Wyatt Russell, and has been in a relationship with actor Kurt Russell since 1983. In 2003, she founded The Hawn Foundation, which helps underprivileged children.

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Corey Allen

Corey Allen

Corey Allen obituary in “The Guardian” in 2010.

Corey Allen, who has died aged 75, belonged to that category of film actors who became famous by association. Allen played Buzz Gunderson, the motorcycle gang leader in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), opposite James Dean as Jim Stark. Since the recent death of his one-time room-mate Dennis Hopper, Allen was the last survivor among the leading performers in the film. Dean died in a car crash shortly before its release, and Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo also died prematurely.

Buzz was a relatively small role, but an extremely significant and memorable one. Wearing a leather jacket and white T-shirt, which clashes with Jim’s bright red jacket, Buzz challenges him to a “chicken run” – driving two stolen cars towards the edge of a seaside bluff at high speed, with the first one to jump out of his car before it sails over the edge a chicken. It ends with the death of Buzz and with Jim suffering guilt.

A subtle intimacy is created between the two outsiders. As the boys prepare for the perilous test of nerves, Buzz remarks, while sharing a cigarette: “You know something? I like you.” “Why do we do this?” Jim asks. “You’ve gotta do something. Don’t you?” Buzz replies.

The role, when he was 21, set the pattern for most of Allen’s acting career, which consisted mainly of variations of Buzz – cool thugs or hot juvenile delinquents – during the period when teenagers were seen in terms of social problems. In The Shadow On the Window (1957) and Juvenile Jungle (1958), he kidnaps a woman; in The Big Caper (1957), he is part of a gang waiting to rob a bank; in Nicholas Ray’s Party Girl (1958), he is a petty Chicago gangster; and he helps disfigure Paul Newman at the end of Sweet Bird of Youth (1962).

At the same time, he was appearing in a dozen or so television shows, often in westerns as a trigger-happy cowboy. No wonder Allen decided to retire from acting in 1970 and become a director, principally of television series.

Allen, who was born Alan Cohen in Cleveland, Ohio, continued the Hollywood tradition of Jewish actors taking new names, such as Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall. His father was Carl Cohen, a casino manager in Las Vegas, and part-owner of the Sands hotel, who was notorious for having punched an obstreperous Frank Sinatra in the mouth in 1967, causing the singer to lose two teeth. Allen studied for a BA in fine arts in theatre at UCLA (the University of California, Los Angeles), where he co-starred with Barry Atwater in a short film set during the American civil war, A Time Out of War, which won the Oscar for best short film in 1955. On graduating, he began performing in a variety of plays in the Los Angeles area, in one of which he was spotted by the director Nicholas Ray, who cast him in Rebel Without a Cause.

Television kept Allen busy as a director for around 25 years, during which time he made three best-forgotten low-budget feature films: The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio (1971), Thunder and Lightning (1977, about moonshiners) and Avalanche (1978, a disaster movie starring Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow). Allen was more comfortable directing episodes of TV series such as The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, for which he won an Emmy, The Paper Chase, Dallas and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Allen, who had Parkinson’s disease for the last two decades, remained active as a director of plays until a few years ago. He is survived by a daughter, Robin.

• Corey Allen (Alan Cohen), actor and director, born 29 June 1934; died 27 June 2010

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Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander

Gary Brumburgh’s entry:

Angular in features, reserved in demeanor and more-or-less plaintive in appearance, actress Jane Alexander’s has played down the glamor card for the most part. Her true brilliance has come from the remarkable range and depth of her talent. Heralded as one of the finest 70s actresses to arrive in films following a towering Broadway success, Jane went on to earn an Oscar nomination for her film debut, an acknowledgment given to very few of her acting peers.

She was born Jane Quigley in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 28, 1939, the daughter of Thomas, an orthopedic surgeon, and Ruth Elizabeth (née Pearson) Quigley, a nurse. Jane attended Beaver Country Day School, an all-girls facility, just outside of Boston. Here is where she first aspired to acting and made her stage debut as an adolescent in a production of “Treasure Island”. Urged on by her father to find stability in her life, she first attended college before embarking on an acting career. She studied math as well as theater at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where she thought computer programming might be a convenient alternative in case her acting dreams fell through. However, a chance to study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, wherein she became a member of the Edinburgh University Dramatic Society, dissolved any other career interests but acting.

Following theater roles in “The Inspector General” and “Look Back in Anger”, Jane found critical success in 1967 when chosen to play the mistress of black boxer Jack Jefferson in the landmark production of “The Great White Hope” at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. opposite James Earl Jones. She and Jones both won Tony and Drama Desk Awards for their performances when the play went to Broadway the following year. Both also earned Academy Award nominations after making the transition to film. The Great White Hope(1970) would mark the first of four nominations for Jane. Although singled out for her supporting roles in All the President’s Men (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and her heartfelt leading role in Testament (1983) as a small town wife whose family is threatened by radioactive fallout, the Oscar trophy has remained elusive. On stage, she received a plethora of Tony nominations over the years for such sterling work in “6 Rms Riv Vu” (1972), “Find Your Way Home” (1974), “First Monday in October” (1978), “The Visit” (1991), “The Sisters Rosenzweig” (1993), and “Honour” (1998). Other telling parts came as Gertrude in “Hamlet”, Hedda in “Hedda Gabler”, Cleopatra in “Antony and Cleopatra”, Annie Sullivan in “Monday After the Miracle” and Maxine in “The Night of the Iguana”.

Jane has triumphed just as notably on TV. She perfectly embodied the unglamorous role of Eleanor Roosevelt opposite Edward Herrmann‘s FDR in the TV movies Eleanor and Franklin (1976) and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977) and was Emmy-nominated both times for her efforts. Decades later she would portray FDR’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, in HBO’s Warm Springs (2005) starring Kenneth Branagh and Cynthia Nixon and won the coveted award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’. Throughout the years she would play a myriad of quality leads in such TV-movies as A Circle of Children (1977);Arthur Miller‘s Playing for Time (1980); which earned her a second Emmy, the title role inCalamity Jane (1984); Malice in Wonderland (1985), in which she portrayed notorious gossip maven Hedda HopperBlood & Orchids (1986), and; In Love and War (1987).

Alexander met and married her first husband, Robert Alexander, in the early 1960s in New York City, when both were attempting to jumpstart their acting careers. They had one son, Jace Alexander in 1964, an actor/director in his own right who co-founded the avant garde NYC theater company Naked Angels. Her marriage to Alexander, who was also a director, ended in divorce. She later met producer/director Edwin Sherin in Washington, DC, while he was serving as artistic director at the Arena Stage. He has three sons from his previous marriage. They married in 1975 and reside in New York City.

In 1993, Jane took a sabbatical from acting when President Clinton appointed her as the first chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Relocating to Washington, DC, she showed strong leadership and served for four years. Her 2000 book, “Command Performance: an Actress in the Theater of Politics” chronicles the challenges she faced heading up the organization when the Republican Congress unsuccessfully tried to shut it down. The agency survived but with a 45% cut in funding.

In 2004, Alexander, together with her second husband, joined the theater faculty at Florida State University (FSU). She holds honorary doctorates from 11 colleges and universities in the U.S. In addition, Jane has been active on many boards, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, Project Greenhope, the National Stroke Association, and Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament. She has also received the Israel Cultural Award and the Helen Caldicott Leadership Award.

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

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Paul Ford

Paul Ford
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Bruce Payne

Bruce Payne

Bruce Martyn Payne (born 1957 or 1958) is an English actorproducerscreenwriterfilm director and theatre director. Payne trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and was identified, in the late 1980s, with the “Brit Pack” of rising young British actors. Payne is best known for portraying villains,such as Charles Rane in Passenger 57, Jacob Kell in Highlander: Endgame, and Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons and Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God.

Payne developed an interest for acting at an early age. In an interview with Impact magazine in 2001, Payne revealed, “I know that my immediate family tell me that when I was very young I saw a play that my brother was in – probably a Peter Pan pantomime because it involved a crocodile – and I apparently shouted out ‘That crocodile is going to eat my brother’ and ran up on the stage. I don’t remember that myself, but if it really happened, I think it shows that from an early age I loved that suspension of disbelief”.

At the age of 14, he was diagnosed with a slight form of spina bifida, which by age 16 required surgery to rectify. Payne was hospitalised for 6 months following the operation.

Payne continued school studies, despite a contact with a talent scout during that time. After his graduation, he enrolled in the National Youth Theatre for two seasons. Payne has described this experience as “Four hundred kids thrown together to work on 7 plays.”  In addition, he was occupied with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for one season. He then auditioned for several fringe acting companies, but was told he was too young and lacked experience. However, in 1979, he was admitted to the “prestigious” RADA acting programme. Before being accepted at RADA, Payne worked as a joiner, a salesman, and a landscape gardener. Payne graduated from RADA in 1981 with seven major prizes for acting, comedy (Payne won the Fabia Drake Prize for Comedy) and physical presence.

Payne was part of a ‘new wave’ of actors to emerge from the academy. Others included Jonathan PryceJuliet StevensonAlan RickmanAnton LesserKenneth Branagh, and Fiona Shaw. In 1980 the Principal of RADA, Hugh Cruttwell, selected a scene from an adaptation of William Shakespeare‘s Macbeth, which Payne co-wrote with Paul McGann, to be performed in front of Queen Elizabeth II, in one of her rare visits to the academy. Payne directed the scene in which he and McGann acted. Payne played Macbeth and wielded a baseball bat on stage instead of a sword. Kenneth Branagh performed a soliloquy from Hamlet at the same event.[8]

Payne’s first television role was in the Tales Out of School series. Payne played a PE teacher who ‘comes across as more head bully than responsible adult during his classes’.His first major film role came in Privates on Parade in which he played the singing and dancing Flight Sergeant Kevin Cartwright (whom he had already played in the stage version).

In 1983, he appeared in Michael Mann‘s horror film The Keep as an unnamed border guard. That same year, Steven Berkoff cast him in his production of West at the Donmar Warehouse. Payne played Les, a member of an East End London gang intent on gaining revenge against the rival Hoxton Mob for the slaying of one of their number. Richard Corliss of TIME stated that Payne bestowed “a frighteningly dynamic performance” in the play.[12]

In 1989, he was cast in For Queen and Country as a ‘drug kingpin’ named Colin.

In 1985, Payne was cast as a “committed”,  “butch snooker manager” known as “The One” (also known as “T.O.”) in director Alan Clarke‘s snooker musical Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire. Michael Brooke stated that Payne gave the “stand-out performance” in the film.[15] and MS London stated that Payne ‘is a charismatic presence, with a capable voice, who is perfectly cast as The One’.

In 1986, both Payne and Berkoff appeared in Julien Temple‘s musical Absolute Beginners . Payne played a psychotic “pompous and pathetic racist”named Flikker, who participated in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. One reviewer argued that Payne was “the only actor to walk off Absolute Beginners with his reputation not only intact but enhanced” and that his portrayal of Flikker “was a headbutt of reality in a fantasmagoria of overkill.” One critic stated that Payne gave a “meaty, saving-grace performance” in the film. The film journalist and editor, Ann Lloyd, selected Payne as the most promising newcomer of 1987 for his role in the film.[19] In the same year Payne appeared in the film Solarbabies, along with fellow British performer Alexei Sayle, as filthy bounty hunters named Dogger and Malice. Payne said of his and Sayle’s performances in Vogue that “the old image of an English arch-villain – Boris Karloff, that sort of thing” is turned “upside down. We’re just a couple of soaks”.

In 1988, Payne appeared as Eddy in the Steven Berkoff-directed play, Greek (a retelling of Sophocles‘ Oedipus Rex), at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Martin Hoyle, writing for The Independent, stated that Payne’s “Eddy is vital, intelligent and physically disciplined in the best Berkoff style”.Charles Osbourne, writing for The Daily Telegraph, stated that Payne brought “a cheerful zest to the role of Eddy”.

A reviewer for The Listener stated that Payne “impresses throughout” the play.[23] Another reviewer stated that “Payne gives a powerful performance as Eddy, the crusader out to defeat the horror of society” only “to find that he is part of the horror”.

Payne and other young British actors who were becoming established film actors, such as Tim RothGary OldmanColin Firth, and Paul McGann, were dubbed the ‘Brit Pack‘. Payne’s performances endeared him to Warner Bros., who considered “Bruce Payne as Bruce Wayne” on their “one liner” press marketing PR campaign for the first of Tim Burton‘s Batman films. Ultimately, Michael Keaton got the role. Payne has commented, “Warner were fascinated by the similarity” between his name and that of Bruce Wayne. Payne has said that “they drew up a very short shortlist and there I was on it. Obviously, I lost out in the end to Michael Keaton”.

In the same year Payne appeared as Doctor Burton in the dramatic film Zwei Frauen   The film was nominated for Outstanding Feature Film at the German Film Awards.

In 1990 Payne appeared in the music video for Neil Young‘s song Over and Over, directed by Julien Temple, as a Stanley Kowalski (played by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, a film based on Tennessee Williams‘ play of the same name) esque character.

In 1991, Payne was cast as the Devil in Switch. Payne was described as a “delightfully wicked Satan” by Film Review. The Providence Journal described him as a “slick devil”.

In 1992, Payne was cast in his best-known role, opposite Wesley Snipes, as a “notorious terrorist and hijacker”,  with a steely, demonic nerve, named Charles Rane, in Passenger 57. Marcus Trower of Empire stated that Payne was “a brilliantly disconcerting madman. With his flowing blond Jesus locks, armour-piercing stare and casual sadism, he makes Hannibal Lecter look like a social worker – and like Anthony Hopkins‘ serial killer, part of the man’s menace is in the apparent contradiction between his articulate, well-spoken English and his off-hand brutality.”[33] The Radio Times stated that Payne and Snipes both gave “charismatic turns” in the film.  The New York Times stated that Payne brought a ‘tongue-in-cheek humor to the psychopathic fiend’. A reviewer for People magazine stated that “Bruce Payne steals the plane—and the movie”. In an article for the Waterloo Region Record, Jamie Portman described Payne as a “suave and cultivated English actor” playing “a suave and cultivated killer named Charles Rane” and suggested that a “key reason director Kevin Hooks chose him for the role was that he wanted a villain with as much magnetism as the hero”. Payne was described as “icily perfect as the villainous Rane” in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.  Julius Marshall stated that Payne was “ideal for his role: charming, dangerous – the kind of evil genius you love to hate”.[39] The Star Tribune stated that ‘Bruce Payne makes a splendid psychopath, consistently stealing scenes from the likes of Wesley Snipes and Elizabeth Hurley throughout Passenger 57.

In 1993, Payne played a “charismatic” werewolf named Adam Garou in Full Eclipse. Joseph Savitski, who reviewed the film for Beyond Hollywood, stated, “Payne is masterful as Detective Garou, a seductive and evil villain with arrogance and confidence to spare. When he’s on screen, Payne demands the attention of the audience, and you’re hard pressed to resist his performance. Payne is also the perfect adversary, the kind you’re supposed to hate, but who has the charisma to draw you in nonetheless”.

In 1995, Payne played a “rogue FBI agent” named Karl Savak in director Kurt Wimmer‘s One Tough Bastard. One reviewer described Savak as one of the most ‘entertaining movie villains in low budget action flick history’ and noted that ‘so awesome is Karl Savak that some lunatic has created a Facebook page in his honor’.[44] Another reviewer stated that ‘Bruce Payne, with his Whitesnake hair and nose ring is slimeball perfection as the villain’. In 1998, he played Jurgen, a first-class and charismatic operative in season two of La Femme Nikita.

In 2000, Payne portrayed the villain Jacob Kell in Highlander: Endgame (2000), the third sequel to the original Highlander film. One reviewer said of Highlander: Endgame, “the one in the cast that seems to be having the most fun is Bruce Payne. Traditionally, Highlander villains give performances that go completely over-the-top and well into the stratosphere. Payne contrarily gives a performance where he enunciates every syllable with relish and dramatic weight, resulting in a performance that is entirely captivating whenever he is on screen.”

Salon.com‘s reviewer wrote that “[Payne] playing Kell as a cockney thug with triple crucifixes embedded in the heels of his Doc Martens, Payne is more fun than either of the stars”. A reviewer for Trash City stated that “Endgame is pretty good, largely thanks to Bruce Payne’s efforts as the bad guy, who is right up there with Clancy Brown‘s original decapitator”, the Kurgan.  Marke Andrews, writing for The Vancouver Sun, stated that Payne provided the “focal point” in the film and that he dived “into his role with gusto”. Andrews also stated that Payne’s ‘facial expressions rival Jim Carrey‘s in The Mask. Cherriece Wright, who reviewed the film for The Dispatch, stated that it contained “brilliant performances by Christopher Lambert and Bruce Payne”. Wright stated that Payne “delivers a great performance as Jacob Kell blending smoothly the malicious vindictiveness of the embittered immortal with a sarcastic wit that provides needed humor”.

In the same year, Payne played Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons, henchman of the malevolent Profion (played by Jeremy Irons). Although the film was critically panned, Payne’s performance was reviewed favourably. One reviewer said that “Bruce Payne (Damodar) as Profion’s nefarious assistant in his power-hungry schemes was the stand-out performance of all the actors in the film. Payne has a true lock on how to play a character that is menacing even without any show of power. His portrayal of Damodar calls to mind Doug Bradley‘s portrayal of Pinhead in the Hellraiser films, so coldly, coolly arrogant and confident is his character. Above and beyond the grade I give to this film, Payne has earned himself an A+ in my gradebook.” Another reviewer stated that Payne’s performance proved that he is “one of Hollywood’s more reliable villains”.

Branden Chowen, who reviewed the film for Indie Pulse, stated that “the standout in the film is the man who returns for the sequel: Bruce Payne. His character is written to be one-note throughout, but Payne still manages to create an excellent villain. Once the audience gets past his blue lipstick, which is no small feat, Payne is a formidable and passionate force”. The Charlotte Observer stated that “menacing Bruce Payne gives the film’s one potent performance”.  Abbie Bernstein for Audio Video Revolution declared that Payne was “enjoyably evil as the secondary baddie in charge of capturing the rebels”

In 2004, Payne appeared as the “snarling” Neighbour, who “dabbles” in producing kinky virtual games in the dystopian horror mystery Paranoia 1.0. The film was nominated in the best film category at the Sitges – Catalan International Film Festival and at the Sundance Film Festival, and won the best film award at the Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema. John Fallon stated that as the Neighbour, Payne “laid on the charisma and the macho-ness thick”.

In 2005, Payne returned to the role of Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. Payne was the only member of the original cast in the sequel.

In 2006, he helped to launch the National Youth Theatre‘s 50th-anniversary programme along with Sir Ian McKellenTimothy SpallDiana QuickPaula Wilcox, Jonathan Wrather, newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy, and Little Britain‘s Matt Lucas and David Walliams.

In 2011, Payne appeared in the horror film Prowl as a “blatantly untrustworthy”[63] “hillbilly truck driver”  named Bernard in the film. Matt Withers, who reviewed the film for JoBlo.com, stated that “Bruce Payne shows up as a trucker in a throwaway role that he makes anything but”.[65] Payne also appeared in Carmen’s Kiss (an adaptation of the Georges Bizet opera Carmen).

In 2012, Payne voiced a demon in the found-footage horror film Greystone Park (also known as The Asylum Tapes).

In 2013, Payne appeared in the Warner Bros. action film Getaway.  Payne also appeared in the action film Vendetta as a sinister Whitehall Mandarin named Mr. Rooker. One reviewer of the film gave it eight out of ten and stated that Payne ‘nearly steals the movie with a plum role as the icy head of British black ops’.  In addition, Payne portrayed Auschwitz camp Commandant Rudolf Hoess, in a ‘superciliously evil’ manner,[69] in the French film Victor Young Perez, which concerns the life of the Tunisian Jew flyweight boxerVictor Perez.

In 2015, Payne played Winston, a religious fanatic,in the horror film Re-Kill.

In 2018 Payne appeared in the Anthology film London Unplugged, which premiered at the East End Film Festival.

Payne played the main antagonist in Creators: The Past (which he also produced and acted as assistant director for), which is due to be released in 2020. Payne has also been cast as Frank Warren in Michael-The Michael Watson Story, a biopic of boxer Michael Watson.

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Anna Magnani

Anna Magnani

Anna Magnani tribute by David Thompson in “The Guardian” in 2002.

Some people in show business were afraid of Anna Magnani. The force that made her not just a great actress, but a sacred monster – her impulsive extremism – was also a cause of upheaval, and those “scenes” calculated to disrupt the orderly recording of designed scenes on to celluloid. To hire Magnani, to be with her in any enterprise, meant, sooner or later, being on the receiving end of her temper, and plates of hot pasta. Just think of the damage she might have done if she’d been unquestionably beautiful, along with everything else. Instead, it was the battle of her existence as an actress and a woman to make any man ignore her roughness, her ugliness even, and see her raw desire.

From the start, she was a rank outsider, the illegitimate child of an Italian mother and an Egyptian father, born in Rome in 1907 and raised in the direst poverty. As a teenager, she sang songs in tawdry nightclubs, courting her Arabic flavour. She spent most of the 1930s in music halls, working in small roles on the stage and trying to break into movies. She was violently attractive, but already known for her dangerous volatility. In 1936, she married the movie director Goffredo Alessandrini (born in Cairo to Italian parents), but then suffered the humiliation of having him declare her unsuited to the movies. 

She had half a break with a good supporting role in Teresa Venerdi (1941), directed by the young Vittorio De Sica. But then she got into an affair with the actor Massimo Serato (10 years her junior), and was left with a child. It was only then, during the war, that her fortunes changed, when Roberto Rossellini cast her as the woman shot in the street by the Germans in Rome, Open City. She invested the small role with extraordinary urgency – and it was the film that thrust immediacy forward as a new brand of realism. 

Rossellini fell in love with the person and the actress. He cast her in both parts of his film L’Amore (1948): she played the woman on the telephone in The Human Voice (by Cocteau) driven to desperation by a lover who is abandoning her; and she was the simple peasant woman, seduced by a scoundrel (played by Federico Fellini), who thinks she has been impregnated by an angel. 

In those heady postwar years, she made several other films as a star. But she looked her 40 years, and she was apparently incapable of mastering English. This was of awkward relevance to Rossellini who, despite the fact that America treasured his realistic films, was eager to make box-office pictures for the English- speaking audience. And so he made contact with another great actress, Ingrid Bergman, who was weary of Hollywood fabrications and desperate to make something “truthful”. 

The set-up between Magnani and Rossellini was seldom calm. He was married to another woman; he had children. She had her child, an invalid, in great need of care and attention. But the day came when rumours were feeding Magnani’s foreboding instincts. For a while she goaded Rossellini – was there something he needed to tell her? Only when he denied it repeatedly did Magnani empty the food over his head. The relationship was over, and Magnani would be replaced by the younger and more classically beautiful Bergman. 

Many actresses might have yielded to fate and time. But Magnani became fiercer under challenge, and it was as if the Italian public fell more in love with her in the great scandal of the Rossellini-Bergman affair. When Rossellini and Bergman went off together to the volcanic island of Stromboli to make the first in a series of films about marriage, Magnani responded with her own eruptive picture, Volcano. 

Then, in 1951, she found one of her greatest roles for director Luchino Visconti, playing a mother striving to get her plain daughter launched in movies. In that picture – Bellissima (1951) – Magnani abandoned all restraints, as a woman we would gladly strangle, but whose life force leaves us shocked. Of course, it’s the mother who needs to act, and it was Visconti’s grace to uncover a vulnerability in the excessiveness and to make the picture an international success. All of a sudden, roles were reversed: Bergman had opted for Italy – and increasing obscurity; but maybe Anna Magnani was ready for stardom. 

The French director Jean Renoir cast her as the central figure, another actress, loved by many men but most in love with performing, in The Golden Coach (1952). This is her subtlest work ever, full of irony and tenderness, but as Renoir explained, it was drawn out of chaos: “Another problem with Magnani was to persuade her to spend the night in bed and not in night-clubs. She turned up worn out, with bags under her eyes and incapable of remembering any of her lines. She would start by saying she couldn’t go on, that she looked foul, like an old beggar-woman; a string of excuses while she sat shivering in a huge mink cape chain-smoking. Within five minutes the bags vanished, her voice had cleared and she looked 10 years younger.” 

She was close to Tennessee Williams, who thought her the most unconventional woman he had ever known, and wrote The Rose Tattoo for her. She flirted with the part on stage, begged off because of her inadequate English and then agreed to the movie, co-starring with Burt Lancaster. They clashed like gongs. Lancaster claimed Magnani was directing him, upstaging him, and intimidating him by forgetting to bathe. Her rueful eyes widened, she assured the world she adored Burt. She took him off one night and did all that a woman could to reassure his ego. Then she told anyone ready to listen that he wasn’t much to speak of in that department. 

She won the Oscar for The Rose Tattoo – and in hindsight it seems more an inevitable tribute than a just reward for acting. Williams had done the part for her in much the same spirit: let Anna be Magnani – let the Arab rule. 

Success made her no easier. There was another American movie, Wild Is the Wind, shot in Nevada, where the unit motel rooms had walls freely decorated in pasta sauce. She insulted one co-star, Anthony Quinn, and ravished the other, Anthony Franciosa. Director George Cukor preferred never to talk about the experience afterwards. 

One grand venture was left: The Fugitive Kind, derived from another Tennessee Williams play, Orpheus Descending. It cast Magnani (then over 50) with Marlon Brando (17 years younger). Brando later wrote that Magnani attacked him physically. Building on a wild kiss, she put a bite on the actor. She was drawing him towards bed and he – poor lad – escaped only by pinching her nose until she freed him. One monster wrestling another. 

She went back to Italy and made Mamma Roma (as a prostitute looking to go respectable) for the young Pasolini. She died in 1973, with Rossellini a faithful bedside visitor. There were outpourings of grief from the ordinary people. They had always understood her courage and her terror. She was from the streets and below, and if the world was poorer without her, the performing arts were that bit safer.

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Robin Halstead

Robin Halstead & Nyree Dawn Porter

Robin Halstead was born on February 20, 1951 in Lagos, Nigeria as  Bernard Halstead. He is an actor, known for Anne of Green Gables (1972), Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (1980) and Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1971). He was previously married to Nyree Dawn Porter.

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Ann Way

Ann Way

Ann Way. Wikipedia.

Ann Way (14 November 1915 – 13 March 1993) was an English character actress in film and television. Born in Wiveliscombe,Somerset, she began her career in repertory in Dundee in the 1960s.

Her petite build and distinctively deep-set eyes saw her frequently typecast as a stereotypically dotty or timid and mouse-like spinster. She nonetheless appeared in a wide range of roles, including the television series Dr Finlay’s CasebookEmmerdale Farm where she played an aunt of publican and newspaper correspondent Amos BrearlyFawlty Towers (where she memorably played the Colonel’s wife inadvertently served the raw red mullet in “Gourmet Night“) and Rumpole of the Bailey as Dodo Mackintosh. She also read the Mrs. Pepperpotbooks on the children’s series Jackanory.

Film roles included Carry On Loving (1970), Endless Night (1972) and Clockwise (1986) (in which she sang the Vivian Ellis standard This is my Lovely Day on the soundtrack and made comic use of the repeated line “Aren’t we all such lucky people”) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) (where she played the headmistress’s secretary, Miss Gaunt). A more unusual role was the 1987 short film Unusual Ground Floor Conversion in which she played an old lady gradually driving her downstairs neighbour mad by throwing water out of her window every few minutes.

Way died in London in 1993.

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Joan Dowling

Joan Dowling

Joan Dowling had a passion for acting and as an aspiring young actress she would take roles in plays, pantomimes and other works simply to be on the stage. Her first recognised role was at the tender age of 14 and she signed her first film contract at 17. She had natural talent and did not have any coaching, voice or other lessons before being ‘discovered’. She was well known for her roles in Ealing Studios productions and met her husband, Harry Fowler, on the set of the 1947 Ealing comedy Hue and Cry (1947). Sadly, Joan’s life did not have a happy ending and she committed suicide in 1954 – a mere 26 years old. Her films are often shown on Talking Pictures.

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Joe McFadden

Joe Mason

Joe McFadden was born Joseph Martin McFadden in Glasgow, Scotland to Irish parents. He began acting at 12 years old when a talent scout from the detective show ‘Taggart’ visited his school, Holyrood Secondary and invited him to play the role of the son of a murder victim. He followed this with various Scottish stage, film and television roles including the leading role Prentice McHoan in ‘The Crow Road”(for which he was nominated for a BAFTA) before moving to London and joining the original London production of the Tony award winning musical Rent as the narrator, Mark Cohen. He has appeared in notable stage productions for The Royal Court, National Theatre Of Scotland and played the title role of ‘Aladdin’ at The Old Vic theatre opposite Sir Ian McKellen On television he has played many memorable roles in various hit television shows including the lead policeman, PC Joe Mason in ITV’s ‘Heartbeat’ and also the brilliant trauma surgeon Raffaelo (Raf) Di Lucca in BBC hospital drama ‘Holby City’