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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.

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Mike Mazurki

Mike Mazurki

Mike Mazurki obituary in “The Los Angeles Times” in 1990.

Mike Mazurki, a former college football player and professional wrestler who portrayed menacing thugs or dull-witted giants in more than 80 adventure films and crime melodramas, died Sunday.

A spokesman for Glendale Adventist Medical Center said the 6-foot, 5-inch, 265-pound actor had several ailments and died of heart failure. His age was listed variously as 80 or 82.

He was born Michael Mazurkiewicz in the Soviet Ukraine and came to the United States as a boy. He played football for Manhattan College in the Bronx and turned to professional wrestling in the early 1930s. At that time wrestling was considered sport rather than staged drama.

Years ago Mazurki told The Times that Mae West, whose father was a fighter, had been his benefactor. She found odd jobs at the studios for the boxers and wrestlers in pre-war Los Angeles.

Another version has him being discovered during a match at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles when a movie director thought “Iron Mike” would be a perfect Mongol type. By then he had been involved in hundreds of wrestling matches, and his mashed face and cauliflower ears belied a gentle nature and an intelligence that had earned a college degree.

A United Press International correspondent once described his battered face as “an eroded slag heap . . . traversed by gullies.”

One of his most memorable performances, and the one for which he probably will be longest remembered, was in the 1945 film noir classic “Murder My Sweet.” In it he portrays Moose Malloy, a sinister goon who has just been released from prison and hires detective Philip Marlowe (actor Dick Powell) to find his old girlfriend, Velma.

The picture, remade several times and also titled “Farewell My Lovely,” has been praised over the years for its faithfulness to the Raymond Chandler mystery on which it was based. It also took director Edward Dmytryk–later to earn bittersweet fame as one of the Hollywood Ten during the McCarthy era–out of B films and made a dramatic star of Powell, formerly a song and dance man.

Mazurki’s first featured role was in “The Shanghai Gesture,” a 1941 shocker in which Mazurki was cast as a Russian coolie.

Some of the other major films in which he appeared included “Dick Tracy,” 1945; “Some Like It Hot,” 1959; “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” 1963; and “Requiem for a Gunfighter,” 1965.

Others were “Samson and Delilah,” 1949; “The Adventures of Buyllwhip Griffin,” 1967 and “The Man With Bogart’s Face,” 1980.

In a surprise piece of casting in 1976 he was given the lead role in a children-oriented nature adventure, “Challenge to Be Free.”

He is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and two daughters from a previous marriage.

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Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke. Wikipedia.

Mickey Rourke began his career in the film 1941, directed by Steven Spielberg. Later, Rourke starred in several television films and made brief appearances in feature films. He made his breakthrough performance in the film Diner. Later, his career continued with popular films such as 9½ WeeksThe Pope of Greenwich VillageRumble FishYear of the DragonBarflyAngel Heart and many more. Rourke also starred in a film about Francis of Assisi called Francesco. In the early 1990s, he returned to boxing and didn’t star in many films. He also turned down many roles that proved to be fortuitous for other actors. In the 2000s, he returned to prominence and won a Saturn Award for his performance in Sin City. Rourke has worked with well-known actors including Jack NicholsonRobert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

Rourke starred in theater films, direct-to-video films and television works. He also wrote some of his films under the name “Sir” Eddie Cook. He also made cameo appearances in some of his films like The Pledge or They Crawl.

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Luana Patten

Luana Patten

Luana Patten obituary in “The Independent” in 1996.

Nine-year-old Luana Patten’s first scene in Walt Disney’s Song of the South (1947) shows her angrily snatching a puppy away from her rough-neck older brothers who are threatening to drown it. Later she gives the dog to Johnny (10-year-old Bobby Driscoll, who was to die in 1968 after years of comeback attempts and drug abuse), a boy miserable over the break-up of his parents’ marriage. Harve Foster, who directed the film’s live-action sequences, declared little Luana “a natural”.

Song of the South was her second film; her first had been MGM’s Little Mr Jim (1946), a syrupy tale of children on an army post, but Metro didn’t recognise Luana Patten’s potential. Disney did, and followed up her Song of the South success with roles in Fun and Fancy Free and Melody Time (both 1948, both part-cartoon, part-live action revues). In So Dear to My Heart (1949), another period story with animation scenes, she was again cast as Driscoll’s sympathetic playmate. Disney intended Johnny Tremain (1957) for his TV show, but this story of the American Revolution cost so much to film, it was decided to release it theatrically in the United States. It was Luana’s last Disney film for nine years.

After teenager roles in such minor items as Joe Dakota, Rock, Pretty Baby (both 1957), The Wonderful Years (1958), The Young Captives and The Music Box Kid (both 1960), Patten found herself back at the studio where she started, making Home From the Hill, under the direction of Vincente Minnelli.

MGM boosted its 1960 release with the excited words: “Home From the Hill is the answer to exhibitors’ cry for New Faces, with the presentation of a trio of young people – George Peppard, George Hamilton and Luana Patten – in roles important enough to establish them as potential star power for the future!”


Despite the ballyhoo, MGM did more for the two Georges than for Luana, who was given unexciting roles in Go Naked in the World (1960) and Thunder of Drums (1961), and then forgotten.

There were other films; she made the Civil War tear-jerker The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1961) at Fox, and the glutinous Boy Scouts tribute Follow Me, Boys! (1966) back at Disney, but Luana Patten, who had married in 1960, was content to settle, at the age of 28, for a 20-year film career.

Dick Vosburgh

Luana Patten, actress: born Long Beach, California 6 July 1938; married John Smith 1960 (marriage dissolved 1964); died Long Beach, California 1 May 1996.

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Harry Carey Jr.

Harry Carey Jnr

The actor Harry Carey Jr, who has died aged 91, was the last surviving member of the director John Ford‘s stock company, which included John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, Ben Johnson, Anna Lee, Ward Bond, Andy Devine and Harry’s own parents, Olive and Harry Carey Sr. They formed a cohesive group and contributed to the distinctive world of the Fordian western.

Carey Jr, nicknamed “Dobe” by his father because his red hair was the same colour as the adobe bricks of his ranch house, made seven westerns with Ford, typically in the role of a greenhorn soldier. The most characteristic of these was Lieutenant Ross Pennell in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), the callow rival of John Agar for the hand of Joanne Dru. After she opts for the more handsome Agar, Carey is last seen staring out into the darkness.

In Rio Grande (1950), the third film in Ford’s great cavalry trilogy – after Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon – Carey and Johnson are two spirited troopers showing their horsemanship often without stunt doubles. In The Searchers (1956), arguably the peak of Ford’s westerns, Carey, when he realises many of his kin have been murdered and mutilated, and his girlfriend kidnapped by Comanches, goes mad, rides into the Comanche camp and is killed

Carey was born on his parents’ 1,000-acre ranch in Saugus, north of Los Angeles. Because of the many Navajo people who worked on the ranch, he spoke Navajo before he spoke English. He had a chance to demonstrate this gift in Ford’s Wagon Master (1950). His father had formed a close relationship with Ford in the early days at Universal, starring in about 26 of Ford’s two-reelers. His mother later appeared with her son in two Ford westerns, The Searchers and Two Rode Together (1961).

Carey joined the navy in the second world war and served in the South Pacific in the medical corps, before being transferred (against his will) to serve under Ford in the Office of Strategic Services, assisting on a number of propaganda documentaries.

After the war, Carey’s attempts to escape the world of his father by trying a singing career, failed, and he entered films in 1946 with a bit part in a B-melodrama, Rolling Home. This was followed by Pursued (1947), Raoul Walsh’s atmospheric psychological western, in which the boyish-looking Carey played the nervous suitor of Teresa Wright. He is egged on by the villain (Dean Jagger), in a suspenseful scene, into gunning for Robert Mitchum over an imagined insult to her.

In the same year, Howard Hawks cast Carey and his father in Red River (1948), though they had no scenes together. “I got the part when the young man originally cast was fired,” Carey told Sight and Sound in 2004. “Duke Wayne said, ‘I don’t know if Dobe can act, but he looks right.’ My big scene was with Duke when I’m talking about buying shoes for my girl. Hawks called ‘Cut!’ I thought I’d messed up. But he said, ‘Duke, you’ve lost your character. You’re smiling.’ Duke said, ‘Well if I was grinning, it’s only because the kid’s doing a good job.’ Right then I felt I had the world by the tail.”

Ford then cast him as one of the eponymous heroes of the religiose Three Godfathers (1948), dedicated to Carey Sr, who died in 1947. (Carey Sr had been in the 1916 silent version of the film, directed by Edward LeSaint.) In Ford’s film, Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Carey Jr, as the Abilene Kid, are three “wise” bank-robbing bandits on the run in the desert, who rescue a baby after the death of his mother. Carey sings Streets of Laredo as a lullaby and has a moving death scene in which he lapses back into childhood to recite the Lord’s Prayer. According to Carey, after the first take of the death scene, which he fluffed, Ford left him to bake in the scorching heat of Death Valley for 30 minutes. When the director returned, a near delirious Carey delivered his speech, his mouth so dry he could not swallow and with a voice that resembled the croaking of a dying man. “Why didn’t you do that the first time?” a grinning Ford asked Carey. “See how easy it was? You done good! That’s a wrap!”

Ford’s splendid Wagon Master had the extremely likeable and unaffected Carey and Johnson as two young horse-traders who join a wagon train of Mormons headed for Utah. Carey seldom had a lead again on the big screen but he was visible in dozens of westerns, mainly because he had become an iconic figure through the Ford classics.

Among his many roles, mostly on a horse and in uniform, was the young Dwight Eisenhower in Ford’s tribute to the West Point military academy, The Long Gray Line (1955). On television, he regularly appeared in Laramie, Bonanza and Have Gun – Will Travel. The latter title could have applied to Carey who, in the 1970s, when fewer and fewer horse operas were being made in the US, continued in the same vein in several spaghetti westerns.

He also had small parts in Gremlins (1984); The Exorcist III (1990), as Father Kanavan; Back to the Future III (1990), as a saloon old-timer; and Tombstone (1993), as a town marshal. In 1994, he wrote the book Company of Heroes: My Life As an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company, which was full of insights into the films and anecdotes about the stars.

In 1944 Carey married Marilyn Fix, the daughter of the actor Paul Fix, who featured in a few westerns with his son-in-law. He is survived by Marilyn and his children, Melinda, Lily and Tom.

• Henry George Carey, actor, born 16 May 1921; died 27 December 2012Topics

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Richard Crenna

Richard Crenna

Richard Crenna obituary in “The Guardian” in 2003.

Films like First Blood (1982) and the dire Rambo III (1988) helped earn Richard Crenna, who has died aged 75, a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, but he made better films along the way. With The Sand Pebbles (1966) he had entered that dependable category, the character star, and he showed it in films like The Flamingo Kid (1984), memorably portraying a slimy card shark helping the working-class Matt Dillon. That won him a Golden Globe nomination, but as he put it, “What matters is to keep working.”

From the 1930s, Crenna did just that – on US radio for 15 years, on film and in innumerable television movies and series. He began with auditions for Boy Scout Jamboree, and more than six decades later was still using his fine voice as narrator on Darkness At High Noon: The Carl Foreman Documents (2002). 

Radio saw Crenna through high school and the University of Southern California. He debuted, uncredited, in movies in Let’s Dance (1940). He also got involved in union work, beginning a struggle – opposed by the president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, Ronald Reagan – to get residual payments for TV actors. He eventually won, and three years ago joined the SAG board of directors. Advertisement

Crenna was a love-struck fan in television’s I Love Lucy (1951), but it was the role of Walter, in Our Miss Brooks, that established his fame, culminating with a spin-off feature film in 1956. In 1957, he featured in TV’s The Real McCoys; later he directed many episodes, and was in other series, such as The Rockford Files and Lou Grant. 

After McCoy, Crenna produced and acted in the legal drama Slattery’s People. Its cancellation led to featured cinema roles, beginning with The Sand Pebbles, in which he was a courageous gunboat captain. More than 100 films and TV movies followed. In Wait Until Dark (1967), he was a thug terrorising blind Audrey Hepburn; he was sent into space in Marooned (1969). He was in the great Jean-Pierre Melville’s final work, Un Flic (1972), and in the less notable Breakheart Pass (1975), being menaced by Charles Bronson. 

In the TV version of Double Indemnity (1973), he played the duped insurance agent, Walter Neff, and in the reworked noir classic, Body Heat (1981), he was the cuckolded husband. By 2001 he was playing his old opponent in The Day Reagan Was Shot. One of his most notable – and Emmy-winning – roles was in The Rape Of Richard Beck. For two years before his hospitalisation, he starred opposite Tyne Daly in Judging Amy. 

After a brief first marriage, Crenna married Penni Sweeney in 1959. She and their three children survive him. 

· Richard Anthony Crenna, actor, born November 30 1927; died January 17 2003Topics

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Glen Byam Shaw

Glen Byam Shaw

Glencairn Alexander “Glen” Byam Shaw, CBE (13 December 1904 – 29 April 1986) was an English actor and theatre director, known for his dramatic productions in the 1950s and his operatic productions in the 1960s and later.

In the 1920s and 1930s Byam Shaw was a successful actor, both in romantic leads and in character parts. He worked frequently with his old friend John Gielgud. After working as co-director with Gielgud at the end of the 1930s, he preferred to direct rather than act. He served in the armed forces during the Second World War, and then took leading directorial posts at the Old Vic, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and Sadler’s Wells (later known as the English National Opera).

Byam Shaw was born in London, the youngest of five siblings (four sons and one daughter) born to artist John Byam Liston Shaw and his wife, Caroline Evelyn Eunice Pyke-Nott (1870–1959), also an artist. He was educated at Westminster School, where his contemporaries included his elder brother, James Byam Shaw, later a well-known art historian, and John Gielgud, who became a lifelong friend and professional colleague.

The actor Michael Denison, biographer of Byam Shaw in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography writes that Byam Shaw made his professional stage debut in August 1923 with no prior training. Denison speculates that Byam Shaw’s cousin, actress May Ward, a close friend of Dame Ellen Terry, “may have been enough to make him take the plunge”. The Times said of him, “Tall, gentle, and graceful in movement, he was valuable in any cast, particularly in classics and in the Russian plays.”

Byam Shaw’s first appearance was at Torquay in the west of England, in C. K. Munro’s comedy At Mrs. Beam’s. In 1925 he made his London debut, playing Yasha in J.B. Fagan‘s production of The Cherry Orchard, in a cast that included Alan Napier as Gaiev, O.B. Clarence as Firs and Gielgud as the young student Trofimov. Over the next few years Byam Shaw appeared in three more plays by Chekhov,  and in plays by Strindberg and Ibsen. He made his New York debut in November 1927 as Pelham Humphrey in And So To Bed.

Actress Constance Collier was impressed by Byam Shaw and used her influence to gain him roles. Among those to whom she introduced him was Ivor Novello, then a leading figure in London theatre. She directed them both in the play Down Hill in 1926. This drew him into contact with the poet Siegfried Sassoon, a friend of Collier; he and Byam Shaw became close.[8] Their friendship lasted for the rest of Sassoon’s life, although they ceased to be partners quite quickly; Sassoon became involved with Stephen Tennant, and Byam Shaw fell in love with actress, Angela Baddeley. They married in 1929. The marriage, which lasted until her death in 1976, was, Denison writes, “a supremely happy one, both domestically and professionally”; the couple had a son and a daughter.

Byam Shaw and Baddeley toured together in South Africa in 1931, in a repertory of three plays. The following year, Byam Shaw appeared at the Lyceum in Max Reinhardt‘s mime play The Miracle, with Lady Diana Cooper as the Madonna, Tilly Losch as the nun and Leonid Massine as the Spielmann.  In 1933, Byam Shaw took over from Gielgud as Richard IIin the long-running play Richard of Bordeaux by ‘Gordon Daviot’ (Josephine Tey); the following year he played Darnley in another historical play by the same author, Queen of Scots, opposite Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies and Laurence Olivier, directed by Gielgud.

Byam Shaw continued to work with Gielgud, playing Laertes to his Hamlet in 1934, and Benvolio in the celebrated 1935 Old Vic production of Romeo and Juliet with Peggy Ashcroft as Juliet and Gielgud and Olivier alternating the roles of Romeo and Mercutio.  During that Old Vic season, Gielgud invited Byam Shaw to join him in directing Richard II for the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Denison, who was in the cast, describes Byam Shaw as “stimulating, firm, and courteous to his undergraduate cast”. Byam Shaw enjoyed the experience of directing, and never having especially enjoyed acting he turned gladly to direction.

Gielgud engaged Byam Shaw to direct Dodie Smith‘s Dear Octopus in 1938 with a cast including Gielgud, Marie TempestKate Cutler and Baddeley Byam Shaw concluded his acting career in the late 1930s in roles including D’Arcy in a dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice, character parts in The Merchant of Venice and Richard II, and Sir Benjamin Backbite in The School for Scandal. After appearing in Michel Saint-Denis‘s short season at the Phoenix Theatre in 1938, his final role was Horatio to Gielgud’s Hamlet, both in London and at Elsinore Castle.

As the Second World War loomed, Byam Shaw joined the emergency reserve of officers. In 1940 he was commissioned into the Royal Scots. He served in Burma from 1942 and was wounded. He ended his military service in 1945 as a major, making training films in India.  While in Burma Byam Shaw conceived a production of Antony and Cleopatra dressed in the costumes of Shakespeare’s time, rather than those of Ancient Rome and Egypt. On his return to civilian life, he directed it at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1946, with Godfrey Tearle and Edith EvansThe Manchester Guardian called his production “a very adroit and finished piece of work.”[13]

Between 1947–51 Byam Shaw was the director of the Old Vic Theatre School, part of the Old Vic Theatre Centre run by Michel Saint-Denis which also included the Young Vic run by George Devine. Denison writes “Despite much success in all fields the three partners fell foul of the Vic governors and of the theatre’s top-heavy and largely hostile administration”. The same board had earlier dismissed Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier as heads of the Old Vic company,[14] and now lost another leading team when Saint-Denis, Devine and Byan Shaw resigned in 1951.

From 1952–59 Byam Shaw was director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, first as co-director with Anthony Quayle, and in sole charge from 1956–59. He was appointed CBE in 1954.[1] He directed 14 plays at Stratford; Denison singles out Antony and Cleopatra with Michael Redgrave and Ashcroft, Macbeth with Olivier and Vivien LeighAs You Like It with Ashcroft,Othello with Harry Andrews and Emlyn Williams, and King Lear with Charles Laughton and Albert Finney. Before the 1950s, Stratford seasons had been widely regarded as worthy but unexciting. Under Quayle and Byam Shaw Stratford became one of the principal centres of British theatre, attracting the leading directors such as Gielgud, Peter Hall and Peter Brook.  In 1959, he handed over to Hall, whom he had chosen as his successor.

In 1962, despite describing himself as tone deaf, Byam Shaw accepted the post of director of productions at Sadler’s Wells Opera. He worked closely with the company’s managing director, Norman Tucker, and musical director, Colin Davis. Tucker’s successor, Lord Harewood, recalled “a series of striking productions, including The Rake’s ProgressCosì fan tutteDer Freischütz and A Masked Ball … a notable elegant and witty Die FledermausHansel and Gretel … and Gluck‘s Orpheus.”

Byam Shaw’s most celebrated opera productions were in collaboration with the conductor Reginald Goodall, first The Mastersingers, the company’s last major production at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and, after its move to the London Coliseum in 1968, the four operas of Wagner‘s Ring cycle, in which Byam Shaw’s co-director was his former assistant John Blatchley. Byam Shaw’s last collaboration with Goodall was Tristan and Isolde in 1981.

He was awarded a CBE in 1954 and received an honorary DLitt from the University of Birmingham in 1959.

Glen Byam Shaw died in Goring-on-Thames at the age of 81, survived by his children and extended family, and is buried near his wife at St. Mary’s Churchyard, Wargrave, Berkshire.

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Sol Haras

Sol Haras

Heras was born in 1987 and brought up in Cheshire. In 2007, he was cast in the scripted talent show drama Rock Rivals as one of the contestants, Luke Ellis. He replaced a previous unnamed actor at the filming stages. The series aired in 2008 and was the actor’s first television appearance. Unlike co-star Holly Quin-Ankrah, Heras did not provide his character’s singing voice. For the singing sequences Heras’s voice was dubbed by that of Swedish session singer Emil Heiling. Heras however, was still given vocal coaching and was taught how to lip-sync. Following his role in Rock Rivals Heras was cast in the feature horror film Splintered as a “stoner” and “chilled out character who doesn’t really care”.

He also appeared in two episodes of the third series of Hollyoaks Later, a late night spin-off from the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, as Dean Stanley. In 2010, he played Zavi in the fifth episode of BBC Three situational comedy The Gemma Factor. In 2012, Heras took on the role of Ryan Connor, previously played by Ben Thompson, in the long-running ITV1 soap opera Coronation StreetCoronation Street producer Phil Collinson described Heras as “a brilliant young actor” and that he was “excited to welcome him to the cast”. On 21 July 2013, it was announced that Heras had quit the show and would leave at the end of his contract. In the 2014 film Viking – The Berserkers (forthcoming), Sol Heras takes the lead role. This film heads back to the Dark Ages when a group of five young Saxons are captured by a clan of fearsome Viking warriors, used as prey in a ritualistic manhunt. High on a potion that turns them “berserk”, the brutal hunters are soon on the scent of the terrified youngsters in a desperate battle for survival from the ritualistic manhunt. Written and directed by Welsh film-maker Antony Smith.

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James Douglas

James Douglas

James Douglas (May 20, 1929 – March 5, 2016) was an American actor probably best known for his role as Grant Colman on As the World Turns (1974–81, with return appearances in 1986 and 1989).

Born in Los Angeles, Douglas was the son of Stan Johnson, himself an actor. Johnson later became art director on Peyton Place, in which Douglas starred.[1]

His first major role came in 1964 when he joined the cast of the prime time soap opera Peyton Place, playing the role of Steven Cord.[2]He stayed with the series until it left the air in 1969.

Douglas then turned mainly to daytime roles, appearing as Elliott Carrington on Another World from 1972 to 1974. He then moved to As the World Turns, playing the role of Grant Colman #2. He also appeared on The DoctorsThe Edge of Night in 1984 and on One Life to Live as Dr. Marcus Polk (1985–1987).