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Joanna Lumley

Joanna Lamond LumleyOBEFRGS (born 1 May 1946) is a British actress,[1] presenter, former model, author, television producer and activist. 

She won two BAFTA TV Awards for her role as Patsy Stone in the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous (1992–2012), and was nominated for the 2011 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for the Broadway revival of La Bête. In 2013, she received the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards and in 2017, she was honoured with the BAFTA Fellowship award.

Lumley’s other television credits include The New Avengers (1976–1977), Sapphire & Steel (1979–1982),  Sensitive Skin (2005–2007), and Jam & Jerusalem (2006–2008). Her film appearances include On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Shirley Valentine (1989), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Ella Enchanted (2004), Corpse Bride (2005), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016). In addition she had a cameo role in several episodes of Are You Being Served (His & Hers and German Week) which was written by Jeremy Lloyd, whom she had both married and divorced three years previously.

Lumley is an advocate and human rights activist for Survival International and the Gurkha Justice Campaign. She supports charities and animal welfare groups, such as Compassion in World Farming and Vegetarians’ International Voice for Animals. She is also patron of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity and the Farm Animal Sanctuary. She is also known as ‘daughter of Nepal’ in Nepal.


Roderic Lovell


Dickie Moore

Dickie Moore

The Guardian obituary by Ronald Bergan in 2015

Dickie Moore, who has died aged 89, was an angelic-looking child actor whose big brown eyes lit up many a movie melodrama in the 1930s. From the age of four, his cherubic features got him cast regularly as a poor little rich boy, the son of a single parent or the child being fought over by estranged parents. Rarely a brat, Moore was the least rascally of the group of mischievous kids in the short film comedy series Our Gang (renamed Little Rascals for TV), six episodes of which he appeared in (1932-33).

However, after having acted with stars of the magnitude of James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Barbara StanwyckMarlene Dietrich and Paul Muni, Moore managed the awkward transition to puberty and a later adaptation to a career in public relations.

Born conveniently in Los Angeles, Moore made his screen debut at the age of 11 months in the silent film The Beloved Rogue (1927), representing John Barrymore’s character, the poet François Villon, as a baby. Two years later, he was already in demand from different studios, which helped to support his parents while his banker father was unemployed during the Depression.

He soon got his first review in the New York Times for Passion Flower (1930). “Dickie Moore is charming … His chatter is natural because he means most of what he is called upon to say … Almost every time Dickie spoke a line the audience was convulsed with laughter.”

In 1931, Moore was the half-Native American child of Warner Baxter and Lupe Vélez in Cecil B DeMille’s The Squaw Man (later known as The White Man). According to Moore, “DeMille was a complete and total egotist who didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. He hit me. I was a five-year-old kid and he hit me!” Moore had more pleasant memories of Stanwyck when playing her son, the centre of his mother’s existence, in William Wellman’s So Big! (1932). He also had a key role in Josef von Sternberg’s Blonde Venus (1932), bright as a button trying to reunite his separated parents (Dietrich and Herbert Marshall).

In Disorderly Conduct (1932), Moore plays cop Spencer Tracy’s nephew, who is dressed in a little policeman’s uniform when he is accidentally shot and killed by a gangster. With Tracy again, Moore is a wide-eyed baseball fan in Frank Borzage’s Man’s Castle (1933).

It was not surprising that Moore was chosen to play the title role in Oliver Twist (1933), the second film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel. (In the 1922 silent version, the role had been taken by Jackie Coogan.) Oliver is described in the film (and novel) as “a pale, thin child, somewhat diminutive in stature and decidedly small in circumference”. However, Moore, though small, seems rather well fed and decidedly cheery, his naturalness contrasting with the rather hammy performances around him.

Already a veteran of more than 50 features, when Moore reached his 10th birthday he appeared in two Warner Bros biopics directed by William Dieterle and starring Muni: The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) – in which he is a patient bitten by a rabid dog and cured by Pasteur – and as Captain Alfred Dreyfus’s son in The Life of Emile Zola (1937).

Yet, despite his success, he recalled that, “Every time I got in front of the cameras, I felt like it was an x-ray machine. It was like I was ashamed of or embarrassed about what was revealed to everyone who was watching me.”

Moving into his teens, when handsome replaced cute, Moore played reluctant soldier Gary Cooper’s brother in Howard Hawks’s Sergeant York (1941). This was followed by Miss Annie Rooney (1942), in which he was cast opposite another former child star, Shirley Temple, three years his junior and also suffering growing pains. The film contained the over-publicised scene in which Moore as a bespectacled rich boy administers Temple’s first romantic screen kiss; actually a chaste peck on her dimpled cheek. At one stage, she tells her mother, “He isn’t a boy. He’s 16.”

Moore, going on 18, continued in movies, notably as a premature playboy (Don Ameche took the role of Henry Van Cleve as an adult) in Ernst Lubitsch’s Heaven Can Wait (1943), until he served in the second world war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes magazine in the Pacific. After attending Los Angeles City College, majoring in journalism, he returned to acting in Jacques Tourneur’s splendid film noir Out of the Past (1947), in which he was very touching as Robert Mitchum’s deaf and speech-impaired gas station assistant. In 1949, Moore produced and narrated an Oscar-nominated short called Boy and the Eagle, in which he played a disabled boy who discovers a wounded bald eagle and nurses it back to health, until one day it saves his life.

Moore crowned his stage career on Broadway in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan (1956-57) by playing Brother Martin Ladvenu, a sympathetic young priest who wants to save Joan’s life. Some years later, in 1966, after a battle against alcohol and drugs, Moore founded a public relations firm, Dick Moore and Associates, which he ran until 2010.

In 1984, Moore wrote Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car), in which he interviewed more than 30 former child stars, comparing their lives with his. In almost all cases what he discovered was an adult life with more than its share of breakdowns and failed marriages. Moore was divorced twice, finally finding happiness with the former MGM teen singing star Jane Powell, whom he met when interviewing her for the book. They were married in 1988.

She survives him, as does a son, Kevin, from his first marriage, and a sister, Pat.

• Dickie Moore (John Richard Moore Jr), actor, born 12 September 1925; died 7 September 2015


Seana Kerslake

Seana Kerslake

Seána Kerslake  is an Irish actress. She is known for portraying the role of Aisling O’Dowd in RTÉ2 comedy-drama Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope (2016–2018).[5][4] In 2017, she was named one of sixteen young actors by Screen International as a Star of Tomorrow. In 2020, Kerslake was ranked at number 50 in The Irish Times list of the greatest Irish film actors.


Julie Hagerty

Julie Hagerty

Julie Beth Hagerty (born June 15, 1955) is an American actress and former model. She starred as Elaine in the films  Airplane! (1980) and Airplane II: The Sequel (1982). Her other film roles include A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982), Lost in America (1985), What About Bob? (1991), Freddy Got Fingered (2001), A Master Builder (2014), and Marriage Story (2019).

Hagerty was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of Harriet Yuellig (née Bishop), a model and singer, and Jerald William “Jerry” Hagerty, Jr., a musician. Her brother Michael Hagerty was also an actor. Her parents later divorced. Hagerty attended Indian Hill High School. She was signed as a model for Ford Models at 15, and spent summers modeling in New York City. She moved there in 1972 and worked at her brother’s theater group; she also studied with actor William Hickey.

Hagerty made her off-Broadway debut in 1979, starring in Mutual Benefit Life at her brother’s theater, The Production Company. In 1983 she appeared Off-Broadway at the Vandam Theatre in Shel Silverstein’s ‘Wild Life’ directed by Art Wolff. It was an ensemble theatre piece co-starring Christopher Murney, W.H. Macy, Henderson Forsythe, Conard Fowkes, Jody Gelb, Howard Lee Sherman and Raynor Scheine. She continued appearing on stage, including starring in a Broadway version of The House of Blue Leaves. Her first film role was in All That Jazz, but her small part was cut out of the finished film. She was subsequently cast opposite Robert Hays in the parody film, Airplane! It was released in June 1980 and became the third-highest grossing comedy in box office history at that time, behind Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978).[6] Airplane! established Hagerty as a noted comedic actress.

Hagerty spent the 1980s starring in a number of theatrical films, ranging from the well-reviewed Albert Brooks film Lost In America and Woody Allen‘s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy to the badly received Beyond Therapy. Her roles often involved a naive or spaced-out character who seems to be unaware of whatever chaos was surrounding her, as exemplified in Airplane! and Airplane II: The Sequel. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Hagerty mostly appeared in made-for-television movies or supporting roles in Hollywood films, including the ’90s comedies What About Bob? and Noises Off, as well as a part in the 2005 film Just Friends and 2006’s She’s the Man.

In 1991, she starred alongside Fran Drescher and Twiggy in Princesses, a sitcom that aired for five weeks on CBS. Hagerty had walked off set after four episodes amid poor ratings and negative reviews. She was cast in the 1994 Designing Women spin-off Women of the House, but was committed to another project when filming began, so Valerie Mahaffey substituted for her in several episodes. She eventually joined the cast, filmed two episodes, and resigned, handing the role back to Mahaffey, who bowed out after one final appearance. In 1998, she starred in the short-lived UPN sitcom Reunited.

In 2000, she narrated the audiobook version of The Trolls, a children’s novel by Polly HorvathIn 2002, she appeared in the Broadway revival of Mornings at Seven. In 2003, she began a recurring role as a babysitter on Malcolm in the Middle. She appeared as Hazel Bergeron in 2081, the film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut‘s short story “Harrison Bergeron“. Starting in 2011, she took over as the voice of Carol, Lois‘s sister, on Family Guy. In 2013, she starred in A Master Builder and appeared in a series of Old Navy commercials as a winking flight attendant. In 2015, she made another cameo appearance as a flight attendant in Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant. In 2017, she appeared in a recurring role as a pet parapsychologist on Trial & Error. In 2018, she was cast as a series regular in the ABC comedy pilot Steps.


Diane Varsi

Diane Varsi

Diane Marie Antonia Varsi (February 23, 1938 – November 19, 1992) was an American film actress best known for her performances in Peyton Place – her film debut, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award – and the cult film Wild in the Streets. She left Hollywood in order to pursue personal and artistic aims, notably at Bennington College in Vermont, where she studied poetry with poet and translator Ben Belitt, among others.

Varsi was born in San Mateo, California, a suburb of San Francisco, the daughter of Beatrice (née DeMerchant) and Russell Varsi.  Varsi unsuccessfully tried to become a model and a restaurant hostess in her teen years. While in high school, she was called an “oddball” by her classmates. She often played truant from school to visit San Francisco and was therefore labeled a “rebel”. She dropped out of school in her junior year at age 15, failing in all studies and saying: “I was bored. I didn’t like the social sides – the cliques.”  Around the same time, she married an 18-year-old man. Their marriage was annulled before her son Shawn was born.

She joined the San Francisco ballet in the 1950s and initially planned to become a folk singer.  She later hitchhiked to Los Angeles with a friend.

Despite having only experience as an actress in a stage production of Gigi, she made her screen debut at age 18 as Allison MacKenzie in Peyton Place (1957), receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. The following year, Varsi shared the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actress with Sandra Dee and Carolyn Jones. Several famous actresses were tested for the main role in the big-budget film, until the then-unknown Varsi was cast in May 1957. She was discovered by producer Buddy Adler, who immediately put her under contract at 20th Century Fox.

By the time she was cast, Varsi already had an agent and had been searching for film roles for a long while, without any luck. She made rounds at several studios, but according to the actress, they all thought she was suitable for character parts only. She was even dropped by her agent in 1956, because he saw no future in her career.

Even before Peyton Place was released, Adler cast Varsi opposite Don Murray in the western From Hell to Texas (1958). She appeared in the films Ten North Frederick (1958) and Compulsion (1959). While filming Ten North Frederick, Varsi suffered a nervous breakdown, collapsed and was hospitalized.  She later said: “I’m still trying to find myself. It’s still hard for me to separate illusion from reality… I don’t know whether acting is the form of creativity best for me.”

Varsi rejected the role of Meg in the comedy film Holiday for Lovers in January 1959.  On March 18, 1959, she suddenly left Hollywood, abandoning her contract. “I’m running away from destruction,” she explained,”  saying it concerned other people as well.  A week later, she elaborated, “Hollywood is too impressed with superficial cheapness.” Nevertheless, her contract with Fox did not expire until 1965.  Her sudden walkout was for a long time rumoured to be a publicity stunt to promote the sequel to Peyton PlaceReturn to Peyton Place (1961), to which Varsi was a long time attached.

By walking out of her contract, Varsi’s inclusion in plans for several films were cancelled, including a starring role in The Best of Everything (1959).[13] After leaving Hollywood, Varsi participated in local San Francisco theater productions.  At some point thereafter, she made her way to New York long enough to successfully audition for the Actors Studio, which she would attend at least briefly in 1965.  Varsi returned to film acting in the late 1960s, but by this time she was no longer offered major roles and subsequently referred to the movies she made in this period as “cheap films of little merit”.  Although producers were curious about her, she said, they would not hire her. Her later films include the influential cult film Wild in the Streets (1968); Johnny Got His Gun (1971),  which Varsi described as her favorite; and an ABC Movie of the Week, entitled The People (1971). Of Johnny Got His Gun, the actress said: “This is the kind of thing I always wanted to do. It comes very late to me. It’s been a long time to wait.”[1] She was apprehensive about playing the role, saying: “I felt too inadequate to do [Johnny Got His Gun]. It’s so intense, the responsibility.”

While in Hollywood, Varsi was known for being unglamorous, wearing no make-up or expensive clothes.  She avoided Hollywood parties and was quoted as saying: “I’d rather meet Aldous Huxley than Clark Gable.” Her fellow Fox actors remembered her as “a frightened, birdlike girl who was bewildered by her sudden success” and as “disillusioned by the way certain studio officials treated her”.  She dated Russ Tamblyn, her co-star in Peyton Place, following that film’s release.

From November 26, 1956, to August 29, 1958, Varsi was married to James Dickson, whom she made her manager while working as an actress.  She then married Michael Hausman on May 21, 1961; they had a daughter, Willo.

In 1968, while working on the set of Wild in the Streets, Varsi suffered extreme trauma to her cervical spine, which led to years of misdiagnosed pain and numerous surgeries. In 1977, she contracted Lyme disease and lived for five years with undiagnosed and unremitting meningitis that several times brought her close to death. Her Lyme disease was not diagnosed until 1989.

On November 19, 1992, in Los Angeles, Varsi died of respiratory failure and complications of Lyme disease at the age of 54. She is buried at Mount Tamalpais Cemetery in San Rafael, California.

From Wikipedia


Arturo De Cordova

Arturo De Cordova

Arturo García Rodríguez was born in Mérida, Yucatán in 1908. Most of Córdova’s films were made in Mexico and he became a major motion picture actor in Latin America and Spain, winning three Silver Ariels and received four other nominations. Córdova starred in several American films during the 1940s including For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Frenchman’s Creek (1944), Incendiary Blonde (1945), and New Orleans (1947). He died in 1973.


Whitford Kane

Whitford Kane
Whitford Kane

Whitford Kane was born in Larne, Co Antrim in 1881.   His films in the U.S. include “The Adventures of Mark Twain” in 1944, “The Ghost and Mrs Muir” and “The Walls of Jericho”.   He died in New York in 1956.

IMDB entry:

Whitford Kane was born on January 30, 1881 in Larne, County Antrim, Ireland. [now Larne District, Northern Ireland, UK]. He was an actor, known for Hide-Out (1934), The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944) and My Dog Rusty (1948). He died on December 17, 1956 in New York City, New York, USA.


Whitford Kane 001.JPG

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