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Julie Adams

Julie Adams
Julie Adams

Julie Adams obituary in “The Guardian”.

Julie Adams, who has died aged 92, starred opposite some of the screen’s most handsome actors, including Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Glenn Ford and Elvis Presley. Yet her enduring fame rests on the role of the inamorata of the title character of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

The prehistoric amphibious creature, dubbed the Gill Man, with webbed hands, fish head and a scaly skin, first sees Adams, then billed as Julia, while she is swimming under water. The monster stalks and abducts her, taking her to his lair.

As Kay Lawrence, the only woman in a group of geologists in the Amazon, Adams convincingly conveys her terror of the creature. The trailer for Jack Arnold’s classic horror movie, which was first shown in 3D, describes Adams’s “beauty [as] a lure even to the man-beast from the dawn of time”. 

Adams worked for Universal Pictures throughout the 1950s, mostly playing steadfast women, though generally seen only in terms of her relationships with men. Among her best films were distinguished westerns by masters of the genre – Anthony Mann, Raoul Walsh and Budd Boetticher.

Julie Adams
Julie Adams

In Mann’s superb Bend of the River (1952), Adams is a seductive settler falling in love with the wagon train guide (an embittered James Stewart). For Walsh’s The Lawless Breed (1953), she is a former saloon gal who finds redemption in her marriage to an ex-con (Hudson, a fellow Universal contractee). When soldier Ford is branded a coward in Boetticher’s The Man from the Alamo (1953), Adams is one of the few people who believes in him.Advertisement

Born Betty May Adams in Waterloo, Iowa, she was the daughter of Esther (nee Beckett) and Ralph Adams, a travelling cotton buyer. Her family moved a great deal; the longest she lived in one place was eight years in Blytheville, Arkansas. After winning a beauty contest there, Adams left home, where her heavy drinking father was becoming abusive, to stay with an aunt in California.

Julie Adams
Julie Adams

There, she decided to pursue an acting career. It was not long before she was appearing in half-a-dozen shoestring westerns for Lippert Pictures. In 1951, she gained a Universal contract and a change of name, to Julia, and lost her southern accent. At the same time, the studio had her legs insured for $125,000, with the intention of exposing them as much as possible.

Her first leads for the studio were in Bright Victory, as a rich girl trying to adjust to her fiance (Arthur Kennedy) returning blinded from the war; and in a double role of a daughter and her silent movie star mother in the whodunnit Hollywood Story (both 1951). In The Mississippi Gambler (1953), she loses out to Piper Laurie in wooing Tyrone Power. 

She more than ably fulfilled her decorative function in a string of solid dramas including Horizons West (1952) and One Desire (1955), both opposite Hudson, and Six Bridges to Cross with Curtis in 1955, where she was first billed as Julie.

Although Adams was much in demand in feature films, she lacked the je ne sais quoi that makes a great film star.

In fact, it was her male co-stars who were the box-office attractions. So when her Universal contract was up in 1957, she was able to transition into a rewarding television career lasting over five decades.

One noteworthy appearance in television history was as the only client of the defence lawyer Perry Mason ever to be convicted in the 60s series. More recently, Adams had a role in Murder, She Wrote, as an estate agent, Eve Simpson, and sometime-helper of amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury (1987-93).

Among the roles in the few feature films she made following the end of her Universal contract was the “older” woman who makes a play for rodeo star Presley in Tickle Me (1965), and she was effective as cop John Wayne’s ex-wife in McQ (1974).

Original Cinema 1-Sheet Poster – Movie Film Posters

Her autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon, which she co-wrote with her son Mitchell, was published in 2011.

6 BRIDGES TO CROSS, (aka SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS), Tony Curtis, Julie Adams, George Nader, 1955

Adams was first briefly married to the screenwriter Leonard Stern. They divorced in 1953, and in 1955 she married the director and actor Ray Danton, with whom she appeared in The Looters (1955) and Tarawa Beachhead (1958). He died in 1992.

She is survived by their two sons, Steven and Mitchell.

• Julie (Julia, Betty May) Adams, actor, born 17 October 1926; died 3 February 2019

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Philip Lowrie

Philip Lowry
Philip Lowry

Philip Lowrie was born in 1936 in Manchester.   He is best known for his portryal as Dennis Tanner which he played from 1960 until 1968 and now again from 2011.   His movies include “Sapphire” in 1959 and “Serious Charge”.

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Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson
Richard Dawson
Richard Dawson
Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson wasborn in Hapmshire in 1932.   He began his career in Britain as a comedian and played at the London Palladium.In the early 1960’s he moved to Hollywood and won fame on television’s “Hogan’s Heroes”.   He also achieved fame as a game show host and as the star of the film “The Running Man” in 1987.   He was married for a time to Diana Dors.   He died in 2012.

“Los Angeles Times” obituary:

Richard Dawson, the British actor who went from comedy co-star in the popular TV series “Hogan’s Heroes” to his best-known role as the charming host of the TV game show “Family Feud” with his trademark of kissing the female contestants on the lips, has died. He was 79.

Dawson died Saturday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from complications related to esophageal cancer. The actor, who had been living in Beverly Hills, was diagnosed with the disease about three weeks ago, said his son Gary.

“The way he was on the game show was the way he was in real life,” Gary Dawson said Sunday. “He was always rooting for people — he not only wanted people to win, but to have a comfortable, great experience.”

Dawson’s easy-going style topped with a Cockney accent were evident in his early films in the 1960s such as “King Rat,” “Munster Go Home” and “The Devil’s Brigade,” while his quick wit distinguished him both as a game show contestant in the 1970s on “Match Game” and “I’ve Got A Secret,” and as a performer on “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” where he was a regular cast member for two years.

IMDB entry:

Richard Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm on November 20, 1932 in Gosport, Hampshire, England. When he was 14, he joined the Merchant Marines and served for three years. During that time, he made money boxing. He had to lie about his age and remain tough so the older guys would not hassle him. In the late 1950s, Richard met a British actress named Diana Dors. On April 12, 1959, while in New York for an appearance on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956), the two were married. Richard and Diana’s first child, a son named Mark Dawson, was born in 1960, and a second son, Gary Dawson, was born in 1962. Richard and Diana separated in 1964 and eventually divorced in 1967. When Richard moved to the United States, he began acting on the well-known series, Hogan’s Heroes (1965), in 1965. Richard played the lovable British Corporal Peter Newkirk. The show ended in 1971. Not long after that, in 1973, he became a panelist onMatch Game 73 (1973) and remained there until 1978.

While still on “Match Game”, he hosted his own show, which he is most remembered by, called Family Feud (1976). His trademark, kissing all the female contestants, was one of the things that made the show a warm and friendly program, along with his quick wit, subtle jokes, and ability to make people feel at ease with being on camera. In 1987, Richard co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the science fiction action movie The Running Man (1987). Richard portrayed an egotistical game show host, Damon Killian, whom many say was a mirror image of himself at one time or another, during his real-life career.

When Richard was 61, he hosted the third incarnation of “Family Feud” in 1994, but had only a short run. On April 6, 1981, the Johnson family appeared on “Family Feud” and Richard was introduced to 27-year-old Gretchen Johnson. They had a daughter, Shannon Dawson (Shannon Nicole Dawson), in 1990, and were married in 1991. They were still married and reside in Beverly Hills, California. Richard narrated TV’s Funniest Game Show Moments (1984) on Fox in early 2000. On Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd, 2000, he hosted a “Family Feud” marathon, which was filmed in 1995. Some people hear the name “Richard Dawson” and may not know who you’re talking about. But say his name, followed by his famous quote “Survey said…!” or mention “Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes(1965)”, and they’re sure to know who you mean. Richard Dawson died at age 79 of complications from esophageal cancer on June 2, 2012.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Lisa Hansen, RichardDawsonFan@aol.com

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.

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Lee Horsley

Lee Horsley
Lee Horsley

Lee Horsley was born in Texas in 1955.   He has starred in three popular TV series, “Nero Wolfe” in 1981, “Matt Houston” from 1982 until 1985 and “Paradise” from 1988 until 1991.   His movies include “The Sword and the Sorcerer” in 1982 and “Showdown at Area 51! in 2007.

TCM overview:

Born in the tiny town of Muleshoe, TX, actor Lee Horsley started singing in church as a youngster in the Denver area, his vocal talents eventually leading him to tour in stage productions of “West Side Story”, “Damn Yankees”, “Oklahoma!” and “1776” prior to his arrival in Hollywood. He began his TV career as detective Archie Goodwin (opposite William Conrad) in the 1981 NBC drama series “Nero Wolfe” but is best known for his starring role as the detective “Matt Houston” (ABC, 1982-1985). A true outdoorsman, who enjoys fly fishing and horseback riding and participates in celebrity rodeos and other sporting events, Horsley has lent his six-foot-four-inch rugged good looks to a wide array of TV-movies, including “Agatha Christie’s ’13 at Dinner'” (CBS, 1985), “Danielle Steele’s ‘Palomino'” (NBC, 1991) and “The Corpse Had a Familiar Face” (CBS, 1994), as well as two ABC miniseries, “North and South: Book II” and “Crossings” (both 1986), adapted from the best-selling novel by Danielle Steele.

After short series runs with “Guns of Paradise” (ABC, 1988), “Bodies of Evidence” (ABC, 1992-93) and “Hawkeye” (syndicated, 1994-95), Horsley landed the part of wealthy rancher Gardner Poole (opposite Bo Derek) on NBC’s very short-lived “Wind on Water” (1998). His only feature appearance (to date) was as the star of “The Sword and the Sorcerer” (1982), a film that has acquired through the years a devoted following among fantasy film buffs. He took time away from Hollywood in 1987 and 1988 to return to his great love, musical theater, playing legendary silent screen director Mack Sennett in the revival of Jerry Herman’s “Mack & Mabel” at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.

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Emmett J. Scanlan

Emmett J. Scanlan
Emmett J. Scanlan
Emmet J.Scanlan
Emmett J. Scanlan

Emmett J. Scanlan was born in 1979 in Dublin.    He has won wide acclaim for his performance as Brendan Brady in “Hollyoaks”,   His films include “Blood” and the lead in “Charlie Casanova”.

“Entertainment.ie” 2014 interview:

“From Hollyoaks to Hollywood”, that’s the headline beside Irish actor Emmett J Scanlan, as he graces the cover of the latest issue of Gay Times Magazine, perhaps still best known for his role in the hit series. But Scanlan has been around for a while, appearing in the likes of The Big Bow Wow, The Clinic, MTV show The Phone, and Brendan Gleeson starring soccer dramedy Studs.
But while, for now at least, he may still be under the long shadow cast by his homosexual sociopath character in Hollyoaks, 2014 should see all that change for Scanlan. We got a chance to ask him a few questions about his recent past and not too distant future, and as expected, he’s as bracingly honest and funny as you’d want from an Irish interviewee.
Entertainment.ie: 2013 was a very big year for you, with your run in Hollyoaks coming to an end and your role in hit TV show The Fall, but 2014 looks like it’s going to be even bigger. How are you feeling about your career right now?
Emmett Scanlan: 2013 was always going to be a big year for me whether I ended up working or not. It was the end of my 2 and a half year Hollyoaks stint. A choice I needed to make. When you leave a job like that and have nothing, and I mean sweet f**king nothing to go into, it’s frightening, but in a positive way. It helps define what type of character you are going to be. I needed to stretch; I needed to explore new challenges. Everyone seeks that, everyone wants that, but wanting will only leave you wanting. You need a hunger. That’s not necessarily a good thing. But it’s what will drive my career to places I’ve never been.
I’ve been blessed with some wonderful characters over the last 5 years. People trusting me with more and more responsibility… so in that respect I’m really happy with how my career is going… every project I’ve been lucky enough to be part of has had great success; this is unusual for me. I was shit when I first started out and my career reflected that. Now that I’m less shit I’ve been enjoying a more fortuitous streak.
It really is blind faith when you take on a job. You don’t know if it’s going to be successful, or lead to your next gig and you certainly shouldn’t make the decision to do it based on that, but it’s hard not to. Just roll the dice and cross your fingers. I’ve been lucky in my choices but I do work hard. Really f**king hard. I work. Every day.
E.ie: You’ve been a working actor for about a decade before the role of Brendan Brady came along, which is probably how most people today would’ve been introduced to you. Now that you’ve had some time away from the show, how do you feel about your time there?

ES: Hollyoaks will always be a special place for me. Brendan Brady was such an interesting character to dance with. The people I worked with there were some of the most talented and beautiful.

Don’t think I’ve told anyone this, but apparently when I got the job I told my sister Orla that I was gonna make Brady the baddest guy on TV. I was gonna take home Villain of the Year for Oaks in my first year… I didn’t know how, I just knew at that time I would. Now I don’t remember saying that, AT ALL, if anything it sounds arrogant and I really don’t mean it to be… Truth be told I’d never have imagined the success that character would have had, ‘tash and all…. Anyway long story short I won the award…

My point is this; if you can hold it in your head you can hold it in your hand. Hollyoaks gave me that chance. And I will always be indebted to them

E.ieThe Fall was a massive hit last year, and you’ll be returning to the role for Season Two. Can you give us any hints as to what viewers can expect?

ES: The Fall was another show that I knew I had to be part of. The scripts were beautiful… I didn’t care what part I got I just knew I had to get a part. I wanted to help tell Allan’s (Cubitt, Programme Creator) story. It came straight after Oaks and DC Glen Martin was the complete antithesis to Brendan Brady. It was a perfect next step. I’m so humbled to have been part of it, to continue to be part of it.

At the moment I’m filming the second season. 6 episodes. I think the scripts are even better than last years, which is saying something. Cubitt is a genius. And producers Julian (Stevens) and Gub (Neal) magnetic. This was never going to be a one series show. The fact it was so popular and we get to continue telling this story is a f**king blessing. There’s a great atmosphere on set. After the IFTA wins and BAFTA nominations, it feels like being part of something really special. To be fair it has always felt like that.

E.ieWhat is it like working with the legend that is Gillian Anderson?

ES: I’m filming all this week with Gillian. She’s f**king wonderful to watch. Effortless. Experienced. She doesn’t have an off day. Same can’t be said for me… I’m learning. Every day. And that’s all I can ever ask for. But I need to learn faster and there’s no better actor to learn from.

E.ieAnd is Jamie Dornan really THAT handsome in real life?
ES: Is Jamie really that handsome?? What type of f**king question is that?? You asking me or Brendan Brady?? On a scale of 1 to Jamie, I give myself a 2… I blame my parents…

Jamie is a top bloke. A Man United fan, a father and is riding the wave to stardom… Richly deserved. Why? Because he takes risks… You can’t lose if you take risks. Regardless of the outcome.

E.ie: This year you’ll also be appearing in the new series of BBC zombie-drama In The Flesh. What can you tell us about it?

ES: In The Flesh is such a wonderfully insane original spin on an otherwise undead genre. The first season saw the zombies re-institutionalised back into society, 4 years after the first rising. A breakthrough in medical science allowed these now “partially deceased syndrome sufferers” to return from their rabid state to a state of “normality”. A drug once administered helping reconnect the brainwaves and kick start their consciousness again. The results made for some really interesting viewing. I thought it was a perfect first season. It didn’t cater for an audience, it simply said “This is who we are, take us or leave us…” Season 2 follows the evolution of this. It brings outside forces into the town of Roarton… People like Simon and Maxine to shake things up.

E.ieThe zombie genre has always been a metaphor for whatever social issue is prominent at the time, what would you say is the main theme of In The Flesh?

ES: What’s the main theme?? You’re getting too clever for me now… Eh… Acceptance. Alienation. Hatred. Love. They’re all themes heavily saturated in Dominic (Mitchell)’s scripts… And then some.

E.ie: As if that weren’t enough, you’re also in this summer’s big Marvel superhero movie, Guardians Of The Galaxy. You even pop up in the trailer, with Karen Gillan holding a knife to your throat! What can you tell us about your character, and of the film in general?

ES: I can’t tell ye anything about it! I only ever saw the couple of scenes I was in. The script was heavily Guarded. But that’s assuming the scenes even make the final cut. For all I know, come August you’ll see my foot cross through back of shot and that’s it. Mum will be so proud. But regardless of that, one thing that can’t be cut by anyone is the experience I had, the friends I made, the geniuses I worked with, the sets that would make small all sets that have gone before. One thing that can’t be cut are the memories. Thank you James Gunn, my Irish American brother!

E.ie: Outside of these big projects, you also have roles in some independent movies, like Patrick’s Day, which has you reuniting with Charlie Casanova director Terry McMahon, and assassin thriller Breakdown. What is the biggest lure for you on a new project? Would it be the script, or the director, or the co-stars, or something else entirely?

ES: Terry is a truly brilliant creator. He called me in for Patricks Day more so because of Charlie Casanova. The scene we shot didn’t fit the movie. We knew that when we shot it, but it was just great to fly home and hang with him for a couple of days. You’ll catch the scene on the DVD extras I’m sure. My ideal role would be in Terry’s movie Dancehall Bitch. I’ve waited many years for this one. I can’t wait to tear it apart. That’s the aim. My ambition.

Breakdown was an awesome experience. I did that solely because I wanted to work with Craig Fairbrass and the main man himself James Cosmo. I’ve been a fan of both since Cliffhanger and Braveheart.

Why do I choose a project? Sometimes it’s the director, sometimes it’s the cast, sometimes it’s the story, the script. What it never is, is the money. Ideally you need a great story, a great director and a great cast to make anything work. It’s like a great song needs the lyrics, the instrumental, the voice. If one of those is lacking, it’s like learning to swim with one arm band. It starts to get messy.

E.ieEarlier on in your career, you were just as busy behind the camera as you were in front, writing and producing and directing short films. Do you ever get the itch to return to that side?
ES: I wrote, directed and produced movies because at that time no one was hiring me. And rightly so. I was rubbish. But I needed to improve. And the only way I could see myself doing that was by getting my hands dirty. If they weren’t going to give me a job, I’d f**king make my own jobs. Hire myself. Cast myself. It was an incredible learning experience. But no, I don’t think I’d go back there. I loved it, but my passion is living the character. Not telling the story. I need to leave that to the professionals. Those heroes who can make us forget for 2 hours.

E.ieLately, with the likes of The Guard, In Bruges, What Richard Did and Citadel to name just a few, there has been a massive resurgence in international attention for Irish movies and talent. And with films like Charlie Casanova, Stalker and Collider, there seems to have been an expansion in what Irish films can actually be about. As an actor involved with Irish and international cinema, what’s your opinion on the current state Irish movies?

ES: The Irish are storytellers. We have been peppered throughout history with some of the best storytellers the world has ever seen. Irish cinema and Irish movies seem to be getting better and better. Intelligent and thought provoking. Our dark humour translates across the word. I think we need to continue to take risks, invest in home grown talent. We have a very different way about us. A style that separates us. I watched Calvary yesterday. It’s a movie that you had to work for. This wasn’t popcorn cinema, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it was just pure cinema. A great story, a dark story, expertly told. More of that please.

E.ie: And finally, any advice for aspiring actors out there?

ES: Advice? A month ago I was flown out to LA to test for the leading role in a new NBC/Warner show, Constantine. It was between me and one other fella, a lovely guy called Matt Ryan. We both signed wonderful contracts for a gig we had yet to score. Such is the American way. It was a game changer. A life changer. I’d already spent the money I was going to earn in my head 10 times over. I flew back home feeling confident I did a good job.

Next day I woke up to the news I didn’t get it. I was happy for Matt. But that didn’t stop it from hurting. For 45mins I was numb. I was due on set for Breakdown and all I could do was stare into space wondering what the point of all that was, what was my lesson? Why all those sleepless nights in LA? Don’t get me wrong, I met some really great people. Worked with legends like Daniel Cerone, David Goyer, Neil Marshall and Felicia Fasano. People who are at the top of their game. With resumes that would make your sphincter clench. But what was the point of all that if I didn’t book the job?

And then I realised. That WAS the f**king point. To meet them. My journey wasn’t to play Constantine, it was to meet these people. I was just looking in the wrong direction. I will work with these people again, just not as Constantine. And that’s my story.

Every time we think we’re being rejected from something good, we’re being re directed to something better. You have to believe that. Don’t take it personally. Otherwise this game will destroy even the best of us. Hope is everything, because without it we have nothing. BELIEVE and never give up. But above all else, f**king enjoy it. I am.

The above “Entertainment.ie” interview can also be accessed online here.

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Oliver Mellor

Oliver Mellor
Oliver Mellor

Oliver Mellor was born in 1981 in Windsor.   He is probably best known for his role as Dr Matt Carter in Coronation Street”.   He has also appeared on television in “Emmerdale”, “Skins” and “Midsomer Murders”.

IMDB entry:

Oliver Mellor was born in 1981 in Windsor, Berkshire, England. He is an actor, known forCoronation Street (1960), Doctor Who (2005) and Doctors (2000).

Graduated Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, Summer 2005.
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Joy Harmon

Joy Harmon
Joy Harmon

Joy Harmon was born in 1940 in Flushing, New York.   In the 1960;s she was featured in some interesing Hollywood movies such as 1965’s “The Love One” and “Cool Hand Luke” with Paul Newman.

IMDB entry:

Born in Flushing, New York, the impressively endowed Patty Jo Harmon was discovered as a guest on You Bet Your Life (1950) by Groucho Marx and later was invited to work with him on Tell It to Groucho (1962). The TV exposure parlayed into roles in such obscure films as Village of the Giants (1965) and more famous fare like Cool Hand Luke(1967), but she was used mostly for eye candy. With only a handful of television appearances to her name, she made a bigger career as a pin-up girl during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but she ultimately retired from acting to get married and start a family. Baking has always been a favorite pastime and she since started Aunt Joy’s Cakes. She first started sharing her treats while working at Disney Studios and runs a wholesale bakery based in Burbank, California.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: William Uchtman <aesgaard41@hotmail.com> (qv’s & corrections by A. Nonymous)

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.

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Tisha Sterling

Tisha Sterling
Tisha Sterling

Tisha Sterling was born in Los Angeles in 1944.   She is the daughter of Ann Sothern and Robert Sterling.   She made her acting debut on her mothers television in 1960.   In 1968 she gained favourable reviews for her performance opposite Clint Eastwood in “Coogan’s Bluff”.   In 1987 she played the younger version of her mother’s character in the wonderful “The Whales of August” with also starred Lillian Gsh, Bette Davis and Vincent Price.

“Wikipedia” entry:

Born in Los AngelesCalifornia, Sterling started acting in the 1960s with an appearance on her mother’s television series The Ann Sothern Show. She later appeared in episodes ofThe Donna Reed ShowThe Long, Hot SummerBatman episodes 43 and 44 as Legs, the daughter of Ma Parker (played by Shelley Winters), The Name of the GameHawaii Five-O, and The New Adventures of Perry Mason. She appeared in the feature films Village of the Giants (1965), Coogan’s Bluff (1968), and Norwood (1970).

In 1987, Sterling played a younger version of her mother’s character (in flashbacks) in The Whales of August. Following that role, she appeared in two other films. Sterling made her last onscreen appearance to date in the 1999 film Breakfast of Champions, opposite Bruce Willis. She has since retired from acting, and currently resides as a florist in KetchumIdaho(where her mother lived for many years until her death in 2001) with her daughter, Heidi Bates Hogan.

The above “Wikipedia” entry can also be accessed online here.

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Vincent Baggetta

Vincent Baggeta
Vincent Baggeta

Vincent Baggeta was  in born in 1947 in New Jersey.   A familiar face on television in the 1970’s and 80’s, he made his TV debut in an episode of “The Defenders” in 1962.   His films include “Murder on Flight 502” in 1975,

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Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren. TCM Overview

Helen Mirren is a stunning actress whose cinema career was sparodic until she reached middle age and suddenly major roles came her way which brought her from cult favourtie into the movie mainstream.   She was born in Chiswick, Middlesex in 1945.   Her first film role was in “Age of Consent” made in Australia with James Mason in 1969.   In 1980 she delivered a wonderful performance in the British gangster thriller “The Long Good Friday” as the mistress of Bob Hoskins.   In 2006 she won an Oscar for her performance in the title role in “The Queen”.   In 2010 she played Ida in the remake of “Brighton Rock”.   She is married to film director Taylor Hackford.

Helen Mirren & John Lynch
Dame Helen Mirren

TCM overview:

From the age of 13, when she played Caliban in a school production of “The Tempest,” Helen Mirren knew she wanted to become an actress. Despite her working-class upbringing and her less-than-supportive parents, Mirren emerged to become one of the most celebrated and decorated British actress of her time. With a combination of poise, confidence, intelligence and undeniable sex appeal, Mirren became famous for her challenging performances on stage and screen that often included removing her clothes, a public exhibition that sometimes stood in the way of her work. Nonetheless, Mirren turned in exquisite performances onstage with the Royal Shakespeare Company, before making a name in film and on television. But true stardom eluded her until she landed what became her signature role, playing a police inspector battling sexism and a troubled personal life in “Prime Suspect” (PBS, 1990), a role she returned to with frequency throughout the years. Mirren then reached the top of her game in 2006 when she won a slew of awards – including an Oscar – for her complex portrayal of Elizabeth II in “The Queen” (2006). Not only did Mirren affirm her status as a high-caliber actress, but she proudly relished the renewed attention to her allure, which aroused a new generation of fans accustomed to actresses less than half her age.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren

Born Helen Lydia Mironoff on July 26, 1946 in Chiswick, England, Mirren was raised in Ilford and Southend-on-Sea by her Russian émigré father, Peter, who played the viola with the London Philharmonic prior to World War II and later became a civil servant with the Ministry of Transport, and her mother, Kathleen, a housewife and butcher’s daughter. Three generations before Mirren, the Mironoff family were well-heeled Russian aristocrats with strong ties to industry and the military. In fact, her paternal grandfather, Pytor, was a nobleman, diplomat and arms dealer, while his mother was a countess whose family was mentioned in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Mirren, on the other hand, grew up relatively poor with parents who were Communists before the war and despised the British class system for their entire lives. She also had little exposure to the outside world because the family had no television and made no trips to the movies. When she was nine, her father changed the family name, while Mirren and her younger sister, Katherine attended St. Bernard’s Convent, a strict environment that was run by nuns who prohibited short skirts, sex education and contact with boys.

Dame Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren

Though her freedom was limited, Mirren received a strong education and developed a deep-rooted independence that carried her well throughout life. After graduating, Mirren harbored ambitions to become an actress, but her mother scoffed at the idea. Instead, Mirren joined her sister on scholarship at a teacher’s training school in London. But on the sly, she auditioned for and earned a spot with the National Youth Theatre. When she was 18, Mirren was cast as the famed Egyptian queen in William Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” at London’s Old Vic Theatre. By the time she was 20, she was a company member at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where she excelled in her numerous appearances in the Bard’s cannon. Though petite and blonde, Mirren exuded confidence and a sultry appeal, leading one journalist to label her as “The Sex Queen of Stratford” for her charged portrayals and her penchant for doffing her clothes, as she did as Cressida in “Troilus and Cressida” (1968) and in her first major film role, “Age of Consent” (1969).

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren

Despite her propensity for baring all on stage and screen, Mirren did carry a degree of embarrassment, which may have been the impetus for seeking physical liberation. In 1972, Mirren took leave from the RSC to do an international tour with Peter Brook’s experimental theatre company, with whom she traveled the world and even spent three months performing in African villages. Following a turn as a beautiful bohemian in “O Lucky Man!” (1973), starring Malcolm McDowell, she delivered a searing performance as Lady Macbeth in a 1974 Royal Shakespeare Company production of the Bard’s masterwork. She had a breakout performance as the drunken Maggie Frisby in David Hare’s musical play, “Teeth ‘n’ Smiles” (1975), which was staged at London’s famed Royal Court Theatre. Also that year, she gave a much ballyhooed performance as Nina in a revival of Anton Chekov’s “The Seagull,” a role that allowed her to combine her intelligence with her sensuality, which eventually came to be her hallmark. She soon followed with two more acclaimed Shakespeare performances, playing Queen Margaret in “Henry VI” (1977) and Isabella in “Measure for Measure” (1979).

After several years absent, Mirren returned to the big screen for what became perhaps her most notorious film, “Caligula” (1979), a lavish, but abysmal combination of horror and porn disguised as an historical epic that was most famous for the high-profile financing from Penthouse founder Bob Guccione. Despite the graphic violence and sexual content, Mirren managed to bring a measure of grace to her part as Caesonia, the most promiscuous woman in Rome. Meanwhile, Mirren came into her own as a film actress, beginning with her strong turn as the lover of a gangster (Bob Hoskins) in “The Long Good Friday” (1979). She lent an appropriately seductive air to the evil Morgana in “Excalibur” (1981), John Boorman’s revisionist take on the Arthurian legend, then returned to her stage roots for a series of appearances in televised Shakespeare plays. Back on the stage, she gave a bravura performance as Moll Cutpurse in “The Roaring Girl” (1983), which was staged at both the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre in London.

Mirren hit new heights with the politically-themed thriller, “Cal” (1984), turning in a memorable performance as the widow of a British soldier who unwittingly falls in love with the Irishman (John Lynch) responsible for his death. Although she earned the Cannes Film Festival prize as the year’s best actress, she failed to garner the same attention when the film was later released in the United States. She had the opportunity to draw upon her heritage as a Russian astronaut in “2010” (1984), then as Mikhail Baryshnikov’s lover in “White Nights” (1985) – the latter of which introduced Mirren to director Taylor Hackford, who became her off-screen companion and soon after, her husband. Mirren was formidable as the wife who follows her husband to Central America in Peter Weir’s “The Mosquito Coast” (1986), but few saw the film during its theatrical release, despite a headlining Harrison Ford. Continuing to impress on the big screen, she was excellent as a painter who catches the attention of an unscrupulous spy (Ben Kingsley) in “Pascali’s Island” (1988), then rounded out the decade with a fine turn as the long-suffering spouse of an abusive criminal (Michael Gambon) in “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” (1989).

In 1990, Mirren discovered her signature role when she was cast as Detective Inspector Jane Tennison in the superb television movie, “Prime Suspect.” Tennison was an inspired creation: a middle-aged detective trying and mostly succeeding to make it in a man’s world while balancing her sometimes turbulent personal life. The first series proved so popular that Tennison was revived for several more installments over the years. Mirren earned three consecutive BAFTA Awards (1991-93) and several Emmy nominations for the role, including a win in 1996 for Outstanding Lead Actress. During the run of “Prime Suspect,” Mirren found herself in high demand, leading to a role as the loyal queen to the increasingly irascible monarch (Nigel Hawthorne) in the film “The Madness of King George” (1994). Her stellar performance netted her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 1994, followed by a win for Best Actress at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. She remained regal for “Royal Deceit/Prince of Jutland” (1994), a drama which purported to tell the story about the true events that inspired Shakespeare’s greatest work, “Hamlet.”

Moving into the production side, Mirren served as an associate producer on “Some Mother’s Sons” (1996), in which she starred as the parent of a man arrested and imprisoned for alleged ties to the IRA. She did the same double duty as associate producer and star on the television drama “Painted Lady” (PBS, 1997), playing a faded rock singer who becomes an amateur sleuth. Rounding out the century, Mirren earned a second Emmy playing the titular philosopher “The Passion of Ayn Rand” (Showtime, 1999) and brought humanity to the titular harridan educator in “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” (1999). Meanwhile, on the big screen, she played a dotty horticulturist in the genial comedy “Greenfingers” (2000), before making her directing debut with “Happy Birthday” (2001), a segment of the Showtime “Directed By” series, “On the Edge.” Mirren had two of her best screen roles in 2001, playing the officious housekeeper of an English estate in Robert Altman’s excellent upstairs-downstairs drama, “Gosford Park,” then as the widow who refuses to accompany her deceased husband’s friends as they go to spread his ashes in “Last Orders.” The former brought the actress her second Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress.

Mirren next starred in “Georgetown” (CBS, 2002), a well-regarded pilot in which she played a shrewd Washington hostess and newspaper mogul, described as a cross between publisher Katharine Graham and party hostess Pamela Harriman. Unfortunately, the series failed to make the cut for the fall season. Meanwhile, she enjoyed two standout turns in a pair of particularly high-quality television productions, “Door to Door” (2002), playing the mother of the mentally challenged salesman (William H. Macy), and “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” (2003), playing the failing star whose life is upended by the death of her husband while vacationing in Italy in the telepic inspired by Tennessee Williams’ novella. The projects earned her a pair of 2003 Emmy nominations – for Outstanding Supporting Actress and Outstanding Lead Actress, respectively – as well as back-to-back Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe nominations as Best Actress in 2003 and 2004. Also in 2003, Mirren had the distinction of being named a Dame of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June of that year.

Back on the big screen, Mirren led the ensemble cast of the sprightly British comedy “Calendar Girls” (2003), inspired by the true story of the Rylstone Women’s Institute in North Yorkshire, a group of everyday women who decided to pose nude for their annual calendar to raise funds for Leukemia research, inspiring sales that outdid even the sexiest of celebrity calendars. Even though she was well into her fifties, Mirren managed to drop many jaws when she once again doffed her clothes, proving that sexiness was not exclusive to young women. “[F]or a long time it was very hard for people to see past my physical outward appearance. I was a blond girl with big tits. I hated that image,” she once said to The New Yorker. Meanwhile, her strong and sassy performance earned Mirren a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Mirren next appeared in a small, but scene-stealing role as Dominique, queenly head of a Manhattan modeling agency where Kate Hudson works in “Raising Helen” (2004).

All throughout the 1990s, Mirren continued to divide her time between the stage and screen, making her Broadway debut in “A Month in the Country” (1995), then returning to the London theater in “Collected Stories” (1999) and “Orpheus Descending” (2000). She returned to Broadway opposite Ian McKellen in “Dance of Death” (2001) and received a nomination for a Tony award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her role the following year. She was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2001 for Best Actress for “Orpheus Descending” at the Donmar Warehouse, while her London performance in 2003-04 as the murderous Christine Mannon in “Mourning Becomes Electra” earned a nomination for another Olivier. She returned to the big screen in “The Clearing” (2004), playing the victimized wife of a wealthy executive (Robert Redford) kidnapped by a disgruntled employee (Willem Dafoe), then voiced the supercomputer Deep Thought in the long-awaited, but deeply unsatisfying adaptation of Douglas Adams’ comic sci-fi adventure, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (2005).

After a misstep as an assassin in the dismal noir thriller “Shadowboxer” (2005), Mirren once again displayed her extraordinary poise and talent in “The Queen” (2006), movingly portraying Queen Elizabeth II in a quiet, guarded performance the earned the actress serious Oscar buzz after its release. Set during the crisis that gripped England after the untimely death of Princess Diana, “The Queen” pits Elizabeth against the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), who rightly believes that the Queen’s isolation and refusal to publicly mourn the People’s Princess might threaten to shake up the monarchy, despite it being technically proper for the Royal Family to mourn in private. Ultimately torn between responsibility and emotion; custom and action, the Queen battles Blair both publicly and privately, along the way realizing that she has lost touch with her subjects. Mirren earned critical adulation and recognition across the board for her performance in “The Queen,” winning awards from several film and critic associations and a Golden Globe for Best Actress. But her greatest triumph was undoubtedly her first Academy Award, which she earned in 2007 at the age of 60.

In an ironic turn, Mirren next won a Golden Globe for her performance in “Elizabeth I” (HBO, 2006), a widely honored miniseries that depicted the public and personal life of the Virgin Queen during the second half of her rule, focusing on how she coped in a male-dominated world. Meanwhile, Mirren earned a third Golden Globe nomination and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for “Prime Suspect: The Final Act” (PBS, 2006). The seventh installment of the long-running series found a tired Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison on the verge of retirement and having to contend with the grisly murder of a pregnant 14-year-old girl. After a co-starring role as the mother of treasure hunter Ben Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) in “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” (2007), Mirren released a memoir, In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures, then co-starred in the children’s fantasy, “Inkheart” (2009). Mirren next essayed a tough newspaper editor opposite Russell Crowe in the political thriller “State of Play” (2009) and continued to tackle challenging roles with her portrayal of Sofya Tolstoy, wife of author Leo Tolstoy, in the German-produced biopic, “The Last Station” (2009), for which she would also be nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award, an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar for Best Actress.

The same year found Mirren essaying a feminized Prospera in Julie Taymor’s screen production of “The Tempest” (2009), which the tireless actress followed by taking first billing in “The Debt” (2010), a thriller about Israeli agents tracking down a notorious Nazi war criminal. Sticking within the espionage genre, Mirren turned action hero alongside Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich for “RED” (2010), which featured the four stars as a group of former government assassins fighting back against the CIA after they are targeted for elimination. After hosting a 2011 episode of “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 1975- ), Mirren had a bit of a misstep when she played the nanny of overgrown man-child Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) in the critically derided remake of “Arthur” (2011). Following a starring role in the Hungarian-made drama “The Door” (2011), Mirren portrayed Alma Reville to Anthony Hopkins’ Alfred Hitchcock in the behind-the-scenes showbiz biopic, “Hitchcock” (2012), which delved into the couple’s complex relationship during the Master’s tumultuous attempt to make “Psycho” (1960). She received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her work in the film. The above TCM overview can be viewed online here.