Monday, May 31, 2010
Though his popularity rose and fell during his long career, American actor Don Ameche, born Dominic Amici in Kenosha, WI, was one of Hollywood's most enduring stars. He began his acting career in college, where he had been studying law. He had a natural gift for acting and got his first professional opportunity when he filled in for a missing lead in the stock theater production of Excess Baggage. After that, he forewent his law career and became a full-time theatrical actor. He also worked briefly in vaudeville beside Texas Guinan. Following that he spent five years as a radio announcer. He made his screen debut in a feature short, Beauty at the World's Fair (1933). Following this, Ameche moved to Hollywood where he screen-tested with MGM; they rejected him. In 1935, he managed to obtain a small role in Clive of India and this resulted in his signing a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox. Ameche, with his trim figure, pencil-thin mustache, and rich baritone voice was neither a conventionally handsome leading man nor the dashing hero type. Instead he embodied a wholesomeness and bland honesty that made him the ideal co-lead and foil for the more complex heroes. He played supporting roles for many years before he came into his own playing the leads in light romances and musicals such as Alexander's Rag Time Band (1938), where he demonstrated a real flair for romantic comedy. In 1939, Ameche played the title role in the classic biopic The Story of Alexander Graham Bell. The film was a tremendous success and for years afterward, fans quipped that it was he, not Bell who invented the telephone; for a time the telephone was even called an "ameche." He continued working steadily through the mid-'40s and then his film career ground to an abrupt halt. He returned to radio to play opposite Frances Langford in the long-running and popular series The Bickersons. During the 1950s he worked occasionally on television.
He began appearing infrequently in low-budget films during the '60s and '70s, but did not make a comeback proper until 1983, when he was cast as a replacement for the ailing Ray Milland in the comedy Trading Places. The success of this film brought Ameche back in demand. In 1985, the aging actor received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work as a retirement home Casanova in Cocoon. He followed up that role to even more acclaim in 1988's David Mamet-Shel Silverstein concoction Things Change, in which Ameche played the role of a impish shoemaker chosen to take the fall for a mob hit. Before his death in 1993, Ameche rounded out his career with brief but memorable performances in Oscar (1991) and Corrina, Corrina (1994).
Wife: Honore Prendergast (m. 6-Dec-1932, d. Sep-1986, four sons, two daughters)
Son: Ronald (d.)
Son: Dominic ("Don Ameche, Jr.")
Son: Lawrence ("Lonnie")
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Norman Eugene "Clint" Walker (born May 30, 1927) is an American actor best known for his cowboy role as "Cheyenne Bodie" in the TV Western series, Cheyenne.
Walker was born in Hartford, Illinois; he was a twin, and is of one-quarter Cherokee descent. He left school to work at a factory and on a river boat, then joined the United States Merchant Marine at the age of seventeen in the last months of World War II. After leaving the Merchant Marine, he labored at odd jobs in Brownwood, Texas, Long Beach, California, and Las Vegas, where he worked as a doorman at the Sands Hotel. He also was employed as a sheet-metal worker and a nightclub bouncer.
In Los Angeles, he was hired by Cecil B. DeMille to appear in The Ten Commandments. A friend in the film industry helped get him a few bit parts that brought him to the attention of Warner Bros., which was developing a western style television series.
Walker's good looks and imposing physique, he stood 6 feet, 6 inches (198 cm) tall with a 54-inch chest and a 38-inch waist, helped him to land an audition where he won the lead role. Billed as "Clint" Walker, he was cast as Cheyenne Bodie, a cowboy hero in the post-American Civil War era. While the series regularly capitalized on Walker's rugged frame with frequent bare-chested scenes, it was well-written and acted. It proved hugely popular for eight seasons on the ABC television network. Walker's pleasant baritone singing voice was also occasionally utilized on the series and led Warner Brothers to produce an album of Walker doing traditional songs and ballads.
Walker then played roles in several big-screen films, including a trio of westerns for Gordon Douglas - Fort Dobbs in 1958, Yellowstone Kelly in 1959, and Gold of the Seven Saints in 1961, the comedy Send Me No Flowers in 1964, The Night of the Grizzly in 1966, and as the meek convict Samson Posey, in the war drama The Dirty Dozen in 1967. In 1969, New York Times film critic Howard Thompson, in reviewing Walker's performance in the movie More Dead Than Alive, described the actor as "a big, fine-looking chap and about as live-looking as any man could be. And there is something winning about his taciturn earnestness as an actor, although real emotion seldom breaks through". In 1958, Thompson described the actor, then starring in Fort Dobbs, as "the biggest, finest-looking Western hero ever to sag a horse, with a pair of shoulders rivaling King Kong's".
During the 1970s he returned to television, starring in a number of made-for-TV western films as well as a short-lived series in 1974 called Kodiak. He starred in the made-for-television cult film Killdozer! the same year. In 1998, his last acting role, he voiced the character of Nick Nitro in Small Soldiers. In December 2009, several internet movie websites had indicated that Sylvester Stallone had or was about to make an approach to Walker to come out of retirement to play the father of John Rambo in Stallone's film Rambo V.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Dennis Lee Hopper (May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010) was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1955, and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956). Over the next ten years, Hopper appeared frequently on television in guest roles, and by the end of the 1960s had played supporting roles in several films. He directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969), winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer of the film's script.
He was unable to build on his success for several years, until a featured role in Apocalypse Now (1979) brought him attention. He subsequently appeared in Rumble Fish (1983) and The Osterman Weekend (1983), and received critical recognition for his work in Blue Velvet and Hoosiers, with the latter film garnering him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He directed Colors (1988), and played the villain in Speed (1994). Hopper's later work included a leading role in the television series Crash.
Gary Wayne Coleman (February 8, 1968 – May 28, 2010) was an American actor, known for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986) and for his small stature as an adult. He was described in the 1980s as "one of television's most promising stars." After a successful childhood acting career, Coleman struggled financially later in life. In 1993, he successfully sued his parents and business adviser over misappropriation of his assets.
While best known for his role on Diff'rent Strokes, Coleman had appeared earlier on The Jeffersons and on Good Times as Penny's friend Gary. He also appeared in a 1978 pilot for a revival of The Little Rascals as Stymie. VH1 rated Coleman first on a list of "100 Greatest Child Stars" on television.
Coleman was cast in the role of Arnold Jackson in the television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, portraying one of two young African-American brothers adopted by a wealthy Caucasian widower in Manhattan. The successful show was broadcast from 1978 to 1986.
Coleman became the most popular fixture of the show, enhanced by his character's catchphrase "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" At the height of his fame on Diff'rent Strokes, he earned as much as $100,000 per episode. A Biography Channel documentary estimated he was left with a quarter of the original amount after paying his parents, advisers, lawyers, and taxes. He later successfully sued his parents and his former advisers for misappropriation of his finances and was awarded $1.3 million.
Arthur Gordon "Art" Linkletter (July 17, 1912 – May 26, 2010) was a Canadian born radio and television personality and the former host of two long-running United States television shows: House Party, which ran on CBS radio and television for 25 years, and People Are Funny, on NBC radio-TV for 19 years. Linkletter was famous for interviewing children on House Party and Kids Say the Darndest Things, which led to a successful series of books quoting children. A native of Canada, he became a naturalized United States citizen in 1942.
Linkletter was born Gordon Arthur Kelly in Moose Jaw, in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. In his autobiography, Confessions of a Happy Man (1960), he revealed that he had had no contact with his natural parents or his sister or two brothers since he was abandoned when only a few weeks old. He was adopted by Mary (née Metzler) and Fulton John Linkletter, an evangelical preacher. When age 5 his family moved to the United States to San Diego, where he graduated from high school at age 16. During the early years of the Great Depression, he rode trains around the country doing odd jobs and meeting a wide variety of people. In 1934, he earned a bachelor's degree from San Diego State Teachers College (now San Diego State University) (SDSU), where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. While he attended San Diego State, he played for the basketball team, and swam for the swim team. He had previously planned to attend Springfield College, but did not for financial reasons.
In his junior year as he earned a degree in teaching, he took a job as a radio announcer at KGB in San Diego. Radio paid better than teaching, and Linkletter directed radio programs for fairs and expositions in the mid-1930s. In the 1940s, Linkletter worked in Hollywood with John Guedel on their pioneering radio show, People Are Funny, which employed audience participation, contests, and gags and served as a prototype of future game shows on radio and television. People Are Funny became a television show in 1954 and ran until 1961.
Other early television shows Linkletter worked on included Life With Linkletter (1950-1952) and Hollywood Talent Scouts (1965-1966). He also acted in two movies, People Are Funny (1946) and Champagne for Caesar (1950).
In 1963, Linkletter became the endorser and spokesman for Milton Bradley's Game of Life. His picture appeared on the box with the statement "I Heartily Endorse This Game", and also on the $100,000 bills featured in the game.
Linkletter was a successful businessman and made considerable wealth from a variety of investments. This financial success led to considerable philanthropy.
Linkletter had one of the longest marriages of any celebrity in America, at over 74 years. He married Lois Foerster on November 25, 1935, and they had five children: Arthur Jack (known as Jack Linkletter, a TV host), Dawn, Robert, Sharon, and Diane. He was also a good friend of Walt Disney.
Linkletter outlived three of his five children. His 20-year-old daughter, Diane Linkletter, died on October 4, 1969, by jumping out of her sixth-floor kitchen window (while a student at UCLA). Linkletter claimed that she committed suicide because she was on, or having a flashback from, an LSD trip, but toxicology tests done after the incident detected no signs of LSD use, and it is quite likely that the drug played no part in her suicide. Linkletter spoke out against drugs to prevent children from straying into a drug habit. His record, We Love You, Call Collect, recorded before her death, featured a discussion about permissiveness in modern society. It featured a rebuttal by Diane, called Dear Mom and Dad. The record won a 1970 Grammy Award for the "Best Spoken Word Recording".
His son Robert died in an automobile accident on September 12, 1980.
His son Arthur Jack Linkletter, (1937–2007), died from lymphoma.
Bob Hope, (born Leslie Townes Hope; May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was an American comedian and actor who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in radio, television and movies. He was also noted for his work with the US Armed Forces and his numerous USO tours entertaining American military personnel. Throughout his career, he was honored for his humanitarian work. In 1996, the U.S. Congress honored Bob Hope by declaring him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces." Bob Hope appeared in or hosted 199 known USO shows.
Hope, like other stage performers, made his first films in New York. Educational Pictures employed him in 1934 for a short-subject comedy, Going Spanish. Hope sealed his fate with Educational when Walter Winchell asked him about the film. Hope cracked, "When they catch John Dillinger, they're going to make him sit through it twice." Educational fired him, but he was soon before the cameras at New York's Vitaphone studio starring in 20-minute comedies and musicals from 1934 through 1936, beginning with Paree, Paree (1934).
Paramount Pictures signed Hope for the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938. During a duet with Shirley Ross as accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra, Hope introduced the song later to become his trademark, "Thanks for the Memory", which became a major hit and was praised by critics. The sentimental, fluid nature of the music allowed Hope's writers (whom he is said to have depended upon heavily throughout his career) to later invent endless variations of the song to fit specific circumstances, such as bidding farewell to troops while on tour.
Hope became one of Paramount's biggest stars, and would remain with the studio through the 1950s. Hope's regular appearances in Hollywood films and radio made him one of the best known entertainers in North America, and at the height of his career he was also making a large income from live concert performances.
As a movie star, he was best known for My Favorite Brunette and the highly successful "Road" movies in which he starred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Hope had seen Lamour as a nightclub singer in New York, and invited her to work on his USO tours. Lamour is said to have arrived for filming prepared with her lines, only to be baffled by completely re-written scripts from Hope's writers without studio permission. Hope and Lamour were lifelong friends, and she is the actress most associated with his film career. Other female co-stars included Paulette Goddard, Lucille Ball, Jane Russell, and Hedy Lamarr.
Hope was host of the Academy Awards ceremony 18 times between 1939 and 1977. His feigned lust for an Academy Award became part of his act. In one scene from Road to Morocco he erupted in a frenzy, shouting about his imminent death from exposure. Bing Crosby reminds him that rescue is just minutes away, and a disappointed Hope complains that Crosby has spoiled his best scene, and thus his chance for an Academy Award. Also, in The Road to Bali, when Crosby finds Humphrey Bogart's Oscar for The African Queen, Hope grabs it, saying "Give me that. You've got one." Although Hope was never nominated for an Oscar for his performances (Bing Crosby won the Best Actor for Going My Way in 1944), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with four honorary awards, and in 1960, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. While introducing the 1968 telecast, he quipped, "Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's known at my house, Passover."
Hope performed his first United Service Organizations (USO) show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California. He continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II and later during the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War. When overseas he almost always performed in Army fatigues as a show of support for his audience. Hope's USO career lasted half a century, during which he headlined approximately 60 tours. For his service to his country through the USO, he was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1968.
Of Hope's USO shows in World War II, writer John Steinbeck, who was then working as a war correspondent, wrote in 1943:
"When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people."
A 1997 act of Congress signed by President Clinton named Hope an "Honorary Veteran." He remarked, "I've been given many awards in my lifetime — but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most — is the greatest honor I have ever received."
Hope appeared in so many theaters of war over the decades that it was often cracked (in Bob Hope style) that "Where there's death, there's Hope".
In 2009, Stephen Colbert carried a golf club on stage each night during his own week-long USO performance and taping of The Colbert Report and explained in his last episode that it was an homage to Hope.
Friday, May 28, 2010
The Dionne quintuplets (born May 28, 1934) are the first quintuplets known to survive their infancy. They are the only female identical set of five ever recorded. The sisters were born just outside Callander, Ontario, Canada near the village of Corbeil.
The Dionne girls were born two months premature. After four months with their family, they were made wards of the King for the next nine years under the Dionne Quintuplets' Guardianship Act, 1935. The government and those around them began to profit by making them a significant tourist attraction in Ontario.
The family, headed by father Oliva and mother Elzire Dionne, married on September 15, 1926. They lived just outside of Corbeil, in a farmhouse in unregistered territory. Oliva, through his father, was a descendant of Zacharie Cloutier (via Louise Cloutier 1632–1699, Charlotte Mignault 1669–1747, and Antoine Dionne 1706–1807). The Dionnes were a farming family with five previous children named Ernest (b. 1926), Rose Marie (b. 1928), Therese (b. 1929), Daniel (b. 1932), and Pauline (b. 1933), who was only eleven months older than the quints. A sixth, son Léo (b. 1930), died of pneumonia shortly after birth.
The Dionnes also had 3 sons after the quintuplets. Oliva Jr. (b. 1936), Victor (b. 1938), and Claude (b. ca. 1940).
Four months after the birth of the sisters, the Ontario government intervened and, in an unprecedented fashion, found the parents to be unfit for the quintuplets, and custody of the five babies was withdrawn from their parents by the Ontario government of Mitchell Hepburn in 1935, originally for a guardianship of two years. Although Oliva Dionne remained part of the guardianship, they were put under the guidance of Dr. Dafoe and two other guardians. The stated reason for removing the quintuplets from their parents' legal custody was to ensure their survival into healthy toddlers. The government realized the massive interest in the sisters and proceeded to engender a tourist industry around them. The girls were made wards of the provincial crown, planned until they reached the age of 18.
Across the road from their birthplace, the Dafoe Hospital and Nursery was built for the five girls and their new caregivers. The girls were moved from the farmhouse to this nursery at the end of September. The compound had an outdoor playground designed to be a public observation area. It was surrounded by a covered arcade that allowed tourists to observe the sisters behind one-way screens. The facility was funded by a Red Cross fundraiser. It was a nine-room nursery with a staff house nearby. The staff house held the three nurses and the three policemen in charge of guarding them. A housekeeper and two maids lived in the main building with the quintuplets. The buildings were surrounded by a seven foot barbed wire fence. The sisters were brought to play there for thirty minutes two or three times a day. They were constantly being tested, studied, and examined with tedious records taken of everything. The Dionne sisters, while living at the compound, had a somewhat rigid lifestyle. They were not required to participate in chores. They were privately tutored in the same building where they lived. Cared for primarily by nurses, the children had limited exposure to the world outside the boundaries of the compound except for the daily rounds of tourists, who, from the sisters' point of view, were generally heard but not seen. They also had occasional contact with their parents and siblings across the road. Every morning they dressed together in a big bathroom, had doses of orange juice and cod-liver oil, and then went to have their hair curled. They said a prayer before breakfast, a gong was sounded, and they ate breakfast in the dining room. After thirty minutes, they had to clear the table, even if they weren't done. Then they went and played in the sunroom for thirty minutes, took a fifteen minute break, and at nine o'clock had their morning inspection with Dr. Dafoe. Every month they had a different timetable of activities. They bathed every day before dinner and put on their pajamas. Dinner was served at precisely six o'clock. Then they went into the quiet playroom to say their evening prayers. Each girl had a color and a symbol to mark what was hers. Annette's color was red with a maple leaf, Cecile's color was green and her design a turkey, Emilie had white and a tulip, while Marie had blue and a teddy bear and Yvonne had pink and a bluebird.
Approximately 6,000 people per day visited the observation gallery that surrounded an outdoor playground to view the Dionne sisters. Ample parking was provided and almost 3,000,000 people walked through the gallery between 1936 and 1943. Oliva Dionne ran a souvenir shop and a concession store opposite the nursery and the area acquired the name "Quintland". The souvenirs pictured the five sisters. There were autographs and framed photographs, spoons, cups, plates, plaques, candy bars, books, postcards, dolls, and much more at this shop. Oliva Dionne also sold stones from the Dionne farm for $0.50 that were supposed to have some magical power of fertility. Midwives Madam LeGros and Madame LeBelle opened their own souvenir and dining stand. In 1934, the Quintuplets brought in about $1 million, and they attracted in total about $51 million of tourist revenue to Ontario. Quintland became Ontario's biggest tourist attraction of the era, at the time surpassing the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. It was only rivaled by Radio City, Mount Vernon, and Gettysburg in the United States. Hollywood stars who came to Callander to visit the Quints included Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bette Davis, James Cagney, and Mae West. Amelia Earhart also visited Callander just six weeks before her ill-fated flight in 1937.
The sisters, and their likenesses and images, along with Dr. Dafoe, were used to publicize commercial products such as Karo corn syrup and Quaker Oats among many of other popular brands. They increased the sales of condensed milk, toothpaste, disinfectant, and many other products through their promotions. They starred in four Hollywood films:
The Country Doctor (1936)
Five of a Kind (1938)
In November 1943, the Dionne parents won back custody of the sisters. The entire family moved into a newly built house within walking distance of Quintland. The yellow brick, 20-room mansion was paid for out of the Quintuplets' fund. The home had many amenities of the time, including telephones, electricity and hot water. The mansion was nicknamed "The Big House." The building is now a retirement home.
The nursery was eventually converted into an accredited school house where the sisters finished their secondary education along with ten girls from the area that were chosen to attend. Years after, it was used by the Recluses of Corbeil as a convent.
The quintuplets became emotionally closest to their sister, Pauline. While the parents claimed they wished to integrate the quintuplets into the family, the sisters frequently traveled to perform at various functions, still all dressed the same. According to the accounts of the surviving sisters, the parents often treated them at home as a five-part unit, and frequently lectured them about the trouble they had caused the family by existing. They were sometimes denied privileges the other children received, and were more strictly disciplined and punished. They also received a heavier share of the house- and farmwork. They were unaware for many years that the lavish house, expensive food and cars the family enjoyed were paid for with money they themselves had earned.
In particular, the father was resentful and suspicious of outsiders for having lost custody of his children.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Vincent Leonard Price II (May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993) was an American actor, well known for his distinctive voice and serio-comic attitude in a series of horror films made in the latter part of his career.
He made his film debut in 1938 with Service de Luxe and established himself in the film Laura (1944), opposite Gene Tierney, directed by Otto Preminger. He also played Joseph Smith, Jr. in the movie Brigham Young (1940), as well as a pretentious priest in The Keys of the Kingdom (1944).
Price's first venture into the horror genre was in the 1939 Boris Karloff film Tower of London. The following year he portrayed the title character in the film The Invisible Man Returns (a role he reprised in a vocal cameo at the end of the 1948 horror-comedy spoof Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein).
In 1946 Price reunited with Tierney in two notable films, Dragonwyck and Leave Her to Heaven. There were also many villainous roles in film noir thrillers like The Web (1947), The Long Night (1947), Rogues' Regiment (1948) and The Bribe (1949) with Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner and Charles Laughton. His first starring role was as conman James Addison Reavis in the 1950 biopic The Baron of Arizona. He also did a comedic turn as the tycoon Burnbridge Waters, co-starring with Ronald Colman in "Champagne for Caesar". He was very active in radio, portraying the Robin Hood-inspired crime-fighter Simon Templar in a series that ran from 1943 to 1951.
In the 1950s, he moved into horror films, with a role in House of Wax (1953), the first 3-D film to land in the year's top ten at the North American box office, and then the monster movie The Fly (1958). Price also starred in the original House on Haunted Hill (1959) as the eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren. In between these horror films, Price played Baka (the master builder) in The Ten Commandments. In the 1955-1956 television season he appeared three times as Rabbi Gershom Seixos in the ABC anthology series, Crossroads, a study of clergymen from different denominations.
In the 1960s, Price had a number of low-budget successes with Roger Corman and American International Pictures (AIP) including the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Comedy of Terrors (1963) The Raven (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and The Tomb of Ligeia (1965). He also starred in The Last Man on Earth (1964), a film based on the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend. In 1968 Price portrayed witchhunter Matthew Hopkins in Witchfinder General, which is also known as The Conqueror Worm.
He also starred in comedy films, notably Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965). In 1968 he played the part of an eccentric artist in the musical Darling of the Day opposite Patricia Routledge.
He often spoke of his pleasure at playing Egghead in the Batman television series. One of his co-stars, Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), said Price was her favorite villain in the series. In an often-repeated anecdote from the set of Batman, Price, after a take was printed, started throwing eggs at series stars Adam West and Burt Ward, and when asked to stop replied, "With a full artillery? Not a chance!", causing an eggfight to erupt on the soundstage. This incident is reenacted in the behind-the-scenes telefilm Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt.
In the 1960s, he began his role as a guest on the game show Hollywood Squares, even becoming a semi-regular in the 1970s, including being one of the guest panelists on the finale in 1980. He was known for usually making fun of Rose Marie's age, and using his famous voice to answer maliciously to questions.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002) was an American jazz and popular music singer, songwriter, composer and actress in a career spanning nearly seven decades. From her beginnings as a vocalist on local radio, to singing with Benny Goodman's big band, she was forging her own sophisticated persona, Lee evolved into a multi-faceted artist and performer. She wrote music for films, acted, and created conceptual record albums -- encompassing poetry, jazz, chamber pop, art songs, and other genres.
Al Jolson (May 26, 1886 –October 23, 1950) was an American singer, comedian, and actor. He is considered the "first openly Jewish man to become an entertainment star in America". His career lasted from 1911 until his death in 1950, during which time he was commonly dubbed "the world's greatest entertainer”.
His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized a large number of songs that benefited from his "shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach". Numerous well-known singers were influenced by his music, including Bing Crosby Judy Garland, rock and country entertainer Jerry Lee Lewis, and Bob Dylan, who once referred to him as "somebody whose life I can feel".
In the 1930s, he was America's most famous and highest paid entertainer. Between 1911 and 1928, Jolson had nine sell-out Winter Garden shows in a row, more than 80 hit records, and 16 national and international tours. Yet he's best remembered today for his leading role in the first (full length) talking movie ever made, The Jazz Singer, released in 1927. He starred in a series of successful musical films throughout the 1930s. After a period of inactivity, his stardom returned with the 1946 Oscar-winning biographical film, The Jolson Story. Larry Parks played Jolson with the songs dubbed in with Jolson’s real voice. A sequel, Jolson Sings Again, was released in 1949, and was nominated for three Oscars. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jolson became the first star to entertain troops overseas during World War II, and again in 1950 became the first star to perform for GIs in Korea, doing 42 shows in 16 days.
According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, "Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock 'n' roll". Being the first popular singer to make a spectacular "event" out of singing a song, he became a “rock star” before the dawn of rock music. His specialty was building stage runways extending out into the audience. He would run up and down the runway and across the stage, "teasing, cajoling, and thrilling the audience", often stopping to sing to individual members, all the while the "perspiration would be pouring from his face, and the entire audience would get caught up in the ecstasy of his performance".
He enjoyed performing in blackface makeup – a theatrical convention in the mid-19th century. With his unique and dynamic style of singing black music, like jazz and blues, he was later credited with single-handedly introducing African-American music to white audiences. As early as 1911 he became known for fighting against anti-black discrimination on Broadway. Jolson's well-known theatrics and his promotion of equality on Broadway helped pave the way for many black performers, playwrights, and songwriters, including Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Ethel Waters.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
On May 23, 1873 Postal cards & Exposition cards sold for the 1st time.
Many expositions were held in the post-Civil War years to highlight specific regions and promote commerce with them. The 1873 Interstate Industrial Exposition in Chicago, held after the great fire, was the first to issue cards but little attention was given to them. The focus of these early cards was on advertising and few examples remain. It wasn’t until an image of the Eiffel Tower was printed on a souvenir card for the Paris Exposition of 1889 that the world took real notice. By 1893 one hundred and twenty different images of Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition were printed on government postal cards by distributors. Privately printed, these exposition cards required two cents postage to mail but it didn’t hurt sales as hundreds of thousands were purchased. The most notable of these cards were the official chromolithographs of Charles W. Goldsmith. For the first time many cards were not just purchased for correspondence but collected as souvenirs. The high demand inspired similar cards to be made the following year for the California Mid-Winter Exposition in San Francisco, followed by Cotton States in Atlanta, the Tennessee Centennial in Nashville, and Trans-Mississippi in Omaha. The sets produced after Chicago were printed in smaller quantities and are quite rare today. The images on these cards usually took up a relatively small portion of the front to leave plenty or room to write a message. Montages of multiple scenes surrounded with decorative flourishes were very fashionable on both cards and illustrations of this period. While sets of official exposition cards continue to be printed to this day, they now have little to distinguish them from an ordinary postcard.
Photographs were another popular item sold at expositions. While their subjects were as carefully controlled as those printed on official postcards they often had great differences between them. Possibly the most popular image to be sold at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 was not found within the official postcard set but on a card photo depicting the performer Little Egypt. Her talent consisted of what we would now call a belly dance displayed live at the exhibit A Street in Cairo. While many were horrified by this unchristian act, the great draw it had speaks for itself. It was a permissible representation of a woman at the cutting edge of accepted female roles because of its lack of nudity and presentation by a non-white performer. This trend of depicting sexualized women would continue for many years and can be best be seem in the many photos and postcards made of performers, actresses, and foreign types. While these women were largely looked down upon for their independence, postcards of them would be highly sought after and sold in great numbers.
Clooney's first recordings, in May 1946, were for Columbia Records. She sang with Tony Pastor's big band. Clooney continued working with the Pastor band until 1949, making her last recording with the band in May of that year and her first as a solo artist a month later, still for Columbia.
In 1951, her record of "Come On-a My House" became a hit. It was her first of many singles to hit the charts—despite the fact that Clooney hated the song passionately. She had been told by Columbia Records to record the song, and that she would be in violation of her contract if she did not do so.
Around 1952, Rosemary recorded several duets with Marlene Dietrich.
In 1954, she starred, along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen, in the movie White Christmas. In later years, Clooney would often appear with Crosby on television, such as in the 1957 special The Edsel Show, and the two friends made a concert tour of Ireland together. Crosby opined that Clooney was "the best in the business." In 1960, she and Crosby co-starred in a 20-minute CBS radio show that went to air before the midday news every weekday.
She starred, in 1956, in a half-hour syndicated television musical-variety show The Rosemary Clooney Show. The show featured The Hi-Lo's singing group and Nelson Riddle's orchestra. The following year, the show moved to NBC prime time as The Lux Show Starring Rosemary Clooney but only lasted one season. The new show featured the The Modernaires singing group and Frank DeVol's orchestra.
Clooney left Columbia Records in 1958, doing a number of recordings for MGM Records and then some for Coral Records. Finally, toward the end of 1958, she signed with RCA Victor Records, where she stayed until 1963. In 1964, she went to Reprise Records, and in 1965 to Dot Records. She moved to United Artists Records in 1966.
Beginning in 1977, she recorded an album a year for the Concord Jazz record label, which continued until her death. This was in contrast to most of her generation of singers who had long since stopped recording regularly by then.
In the late-1970s and early-1980s, Clooney did television commericals for Coronet brand paper towels, during which she sang a memorable jingle that goes, "Extra value is what you get, when you buy Coro-net." Jim Belushi later parodied Clooney and the commercial while as a cast member on NBC's Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s.
In 1982, Sondra Locke portrayed Rosemary Clooney in the television movie Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story based on Clooney's autobiography, This for Remembrance. The movie won a Primetime Emmy.
Clooney sang a duet with Wild Man Fischer on "It's a Hard Business" in 1986, and in 1994 she sang a duet of Green Eyes with Barry Manilow in his 1994 album, Singin' with the Big Bands.
She guest-starred in the NBC television medical drama ER (starring her nephew, George Clooney) in 1995; she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
On January 27, 1996, Clooney appeared on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion radio program. She sang When October Goes -- lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Barry Manilow (after Mercer's death) -- from Manilow's 1984 album 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe, and discussed what an excellent musician Manilow was.
In 1999, Clooney founded the Rosemary Clooney Music Festival, held annually in Maysville, her hometown. She performed at the festival every year until her death. Proceeds benefit the restoration of the Russell Theater in Maysville, where Clooney's first film, The Stars are Singing, premiered in 1953.
She received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
Clooney suffered for much of her life from bipolar disorder. She revealed this and other details of her life in her autobiography titled This for Rememberance published in 1977 by Playboy Press. Her sister Betty died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in 1976, which Clooney also recounted in her book. She subsequently started a foundation in memory of and named for her sister. Additionally, "Aunt Rosie" became "Grandma Rosie" to Betty's grandchildren.
Clooney was married twice to José Ferrer, from 1953 until 1961 and again from 1964 to 1967. They had five children: actor Miguel Ferrer (b. 1955), Maria Ferrer (b. 1956), Gabriel Ferrer (b. 1957) (who married singer Debby Boone), Monsita Ferrer (b. 1958), and Rafael Ferrer (b. 1960).
In 1968, her relationship with a young drummer ended after two years, and she became increasingly dependent on pills after a punishing tour.
She joined the presidential campaign of close friend Bobby Kennedy, and was in The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, when he was assassinated on June 5, 1968.
A month later she had a nervous breakdown onstage in Reno, Nevada, and was hospitalized. She remained in therapy for eight years afterwards.
Living primarily in Beverly Hills, California, for many years, in 1980, she purchased a second home on Riverside Drive in Augusta, Kentucky, near Maysville, her childhood hometown. Today, it houses collections of her personal items and memorabilia from many of her films and singing performances.
She married Dante DiPaolo in 1997 at St. Patrick's Church in Maysville, Kentucky.
Clooney was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of 2001. Around this time, she gave her last concert, in Hawaii, backed by the Honolulu Symphony Pops; her last song was "God Bless America". Despite surgery, she died six months later on June 29, 2002, at her Beverly Hills home. Her nephew, George Clooney, was a pallbearer at her funeral, which was attended by numerous stars, including Al Pacino. She is buried at Saint Patrick's Cemetery, Maysville.
In September 2007 a mural honoring moments from her life was painted in downtown Maysville. The mural highlights her life long friendship with Blanche Chambers, the 1953 premier of The Stars are Singing and her singing career. It was painted by Louisiana muralists Robert Dafford, Herb Roe and Brett Chigoy as part of the Maysville Floodwall Murals project. Her brother Nick Clooney spoke during the dedication for the mural, explaining various images to the crowd.
John Payne (May 28, 1912 - December 6, 1989) was an American film actor who is mainly remembered as a singer in 20th Century Fox musical films, as well as his leading role in Miracle on 34th Street.
Payne was born in Roanoke, Virginia. His mother, Margie Payne, graduated from the Virginia Seminary in Roanoke and became the bride of George Washington Payne, a developer of Roanoke. They lived at Ft. Lewis, an antebellum mansion that became a state historical property. It was destroyed by fire in the late 1950s. Payne went to Roanoke College then enrolled at Columbia University in the fall of 1930. He studied drama at Columbia and voice at Juilliard School. To support himself, he took on a variety of odd jobs, including wrestling and singing in vaudeville. In 1934, he was spotted by a talent scout for the Shubert theaters and was given a job as a stock player.
Payne toured with several Shubert Brothers shows, and frequently sang on New York-based radio programs. In 1936, he was offered a contract by Samuel Goldwyn, and he left New York for Hollywood. He worked for various studios until 1940, when he signed with 20th Century Fox. Fox made him a star, in 1940s musicals like Tin Pan Alley (1940), Sun Valley Serenade (1941), and Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943). In these films, he was usually cast as somewhat of a supporting player in love with the likes of Sonja Henie, Betty Grable, and Alice Faye. A highlight during this period was co-starring with Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power in The Razor's Edge (1946).
Payne's most popular role may be in his final film for Fox, that of attorney Fred Gailey in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). It is almost certainly his most visible role, as it typically receives frequent airplay during the Christmas season.
Later in his career Payne changed his image and began playing tough-guy roles in Hollywood films noir and westerns including Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953), Silver Lode (1954), Tennessee's Partner (1955) and Slightly Scarlet (1956). Payne was a contract star with Pine-Thomas Productions where he shrewdly insisted that the films he appeared in be filmed in color and that the rights to the films reverted to him after several years that made him wealthy when he rented them to television.
Payne also starred in a television western series, The Restless Gun (1957-1959). In 1955, he paid a $1,000-a-month option for nine months on the Ian Fleming James Bond novel Moonraker (he eventually gave up the option when he learned he could not retain the rights for the entire book series).
In March 1961, Payne suffered extensive, life-threatening injuries when struck by a car in New York City. His recovery took two years. In his later roles, facial scars from the accident can be detected in close-ups; he chose not to have them removed. One of Payne's first public appearances during this period was as a guest panelist on the popular CBS-TV game show What's My Line.
Payne directed one of his last films, They Ran for Their Lives (1968). His final role was in 1975 when he co-starred with Peter Falk and Janet Leigh in the Columbo episode Forgotten Lady. Later in life, Payne became wealthy through real estate investments in Southern California.
Payne was married to actress Anne Shirley from 1937 to 1943; they had a daughter, Julie Anne Payne. He then married actress Gloria DeHaven in 1944; the union produced two children, Kathleen Hope Payne and Thomas John Payne, before divorcing in 1950. Payne then married Alexandra Beryl Curtis in 1953, and remained with her until his death. He was also the father-in-law of writer-director Robert Towne.
Payne died in Malibu, California of congestive heart failure on December 6, 1989, aged 77. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan (1859-1930), British physician, novelist, and detective-story writer, creator of the unforgettable master sleuth Sherlock Holmes.
Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh and educated at Stonyhurst College and the University of Edinburgh. From 1882 to 1890 he practiced medicine in Southsea, England. A Study in Scarlet, the first of 60 stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, appeared in 1887. The characterization of Holmes, his ability of ingenious deductive reasoning, was based on one of the author's own university professors. Equally brilliant creations are those of Holmes's foils: his friend Dr. Watson, the good-natured if bumbling narrator of the stories, and the master criminal Professor Moriarty. Conan Doyle was so immediately successful in his literary career that approximately five years later he abandoned his medical practice to devote his entire time to writing.
Some of the best known of the Holmes stories are The Sign of the Four (1890), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), and His Last Bow (1917). They made Conan Doyle internationally famous and served to popularize the detective-story genre (Detective Story; Mystery Story). A Holmes cult arose and still flourishes, notably through clubs of devotees such as the Baker Street Irregulars. Conan Doyle's literary versatility brought him almost equal fame for his historical romances such as Micah Clarke (1888), The White Company (1890), Rodney Stone (1896), and Sir Nigel (1906), and for his play A Story of Waterloo (1894).
Conan Doyle served in the Boer War as a physician, and on his return to England wrote The Great Boer War (1900) and The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct (1902), justifying England's participation. For these works he was knighted in 1902. During World War I he wrote History of the British Campaign in France and Flanders (6 volumes, 1916-20) as a tribute to British bravery. An advocate of spiritualism since the late 1880s, his lectures and writings on the subject increased markedly after the death of his eldest son in the war. His autobiography, Memories and Adventures, was published in 1924. Conan Doyle died in Crowborough, Sussex, England, on July 7, 1930.
Pac-Man (Japanese: Pakkuman) is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway, first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely popular in the United States from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is universally considered as one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games, and an icon of the 1980s popular culture. Upon its release, the game—and, subsequently, Pac-Man derivatives—became a social phenomenon that sold a bevy of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten hit single.
For the 30th anniversary of its release, Google changed its homepage logo to a fully playable version of the game being the first fully interactive Google logo. The long-lasting impact of the iconic game and the nostalgia associated with it was apparent, even after 30 years, when companies across the world were experiencing precipitous drops of productivity with the Google version and some banned the Google website from their workplace computers on the Friday it was uploaded.
When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters, in particular Space Invaders and Asteroids. The most visible minority were sports games that were mostly derivative of Pong. Pac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre and appealing to both genders. Pac-Man is often credited with being a landmark in video game history, and is among the most famous arcade games of all time. The character also appears in more than 30 officially licensed game spin-offs, as well as in numerous unauthorized clones and bootlegs. According to the Davie-Brown Index, Pac-Man has the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers, recognized by 94 percent of them. Pac-Man is one of the longest running video game franchises from the golden age of video arcade games, and one of only three video games that are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., (along with Pong and Dragon's Lair).
Friday, May 21, 2010
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. The screenplay, based on a story by George Lucas, was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. It was the second film released in the Star Wars saga, and the fifth in terms of internal chronology.
The film is set three years after the destruction of the Death Star. The villainous Darth Vader and the elite forces of the Galactic Empire are in pursuit of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader chases Han and Leia across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. Vader uses Luke's friends to set a trap for him, leading to a fierce confrontation between the black-armored Sith and the young Jedi which ends with a shocking revelation.
Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980, and initially received mixed reviews from critics, although it has since grown in esteem, becoming one of the most popular chapters in the Star Wars saga and one of the most highly rated films in history. It earned more than US$538 million worldwide over the original run and several re-releases, making it the highest grossing film of 1980. When adjusted for inflation, it is the 12th highest grossing film of all time.
Despite their victory over the Galactic Empire with the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire's forces have driven the Rebel Alliance into hiding, forcing the fleet to establish a hidden base on the remote ice planet Hoth. Darth Vader, having become obsessed with finding Luke Skywalker, has multiple probe droids dispatched throughout the galaxy, one of which lands on Hoth. While patrolling near the base, Luke is attacked and knocked unconscious by a Wampa. Back at the base, Han Solo announces his intentions to leave the Rebellion to pay off a debt to Jabba the Hutt (much to Princess Leia's displeasure). When Luke doesn't return that evening, Han braves the deadly Hoth night to find his lost friend. Escaping from the creature's lair, Luke nearly succumbs to the cold and has a vision of his late mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs him to go to the planet Dagobah to train under Jedi Master Yoda.
Han Solo finds Luke and provides shelter before they are rescued the following morning. Meanwhile, the Imperial probe droid locates the Rebel base on Hoth, and Vader orders an attack while the Rebels prepare to evacuate and disperse. The Imperial forces eventually overpower the Rebels and capture the base. Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falcon with C-3PO and Chewbacca, but are unable to enter hyperspace due to technical difficulties. They evade pursuit in an asteroid field, where Han and Leia begin to grow closer to each other. Vader turns to several notorious bounty hunters, including Boba Fett, to assist in locating the Falcon. Meanwhile, Luke escapes from Hoth with R2-D2 and crash lands on Dagobah, where he meets Yoda. While undergoing intensive training, Luke has a premonition of Han and Leia in pain and of his possible fall to the dark side of the force. Against Yoda's wishes, Luke leaves to save his friends, promising to return to complete his training.
After losing the Imperial forces, and unaware that they have been tracked by Fett, Han's party sets a course for Cloud City, a floating gas mining colony in the skies of the planet Bespin, which is run by Han's old friend, Lando Calrissian. Shortly after they arrive at Cloud City, Lando turns them over to Vader to be used as bait in a trap for Luke. Lando insists to Han and Leia that he was forced to betray them to prevent the occupation of his city by the Empire.
Vader intends to hold Luke in suspended animation via carbon freezing, and selects Han as a test subject for the process. Before Han is frozen in the carbonite freezing chamber, and taken to Jabba the Hutt, Leia professes her love for him. Han acknowledges that "he knows". Vader gives Han's hibernating form to Fett, who plans to present this "prize" to Jabba the Hutt. Lando helps Leia and the others escape, insisting that there is still a chance to save Han. Unfortunately, Fett makes off with his quarry just seconds before they get a chance to confront him, forcing them to make an escape on the Millennium Falcon.
Meanwhile, Luke arrives at Cloud City and falls right into Vader's trap. Within the carbon-freezing facilities, Luke and Vader engage in a vicious lightsaber duel, which leads them over the city's central air shaft. Gaining an advantage, Vader cuts off Luke's dueling hand along with his lightsaber. With Luke cornered and defenseless, Vader tempts Luke with the offer to rule the galaxy alongside him, making the revelation that he is in fact Luke's father. Horrified, Luke casts himself into the air shaft, plummeting until he reaches a tube system that spills him out onto an antenna attached to the underbelly of the city. He makes a desperate call to Leia, who senses Luke's distress aboard the Millennium Falcon and gets him to safety. Its hyperdrive finally functional (thanks to timely repairs by R2-D2), the Falcon escapes. Aboard a Rebel medical frigate, a medical droid fits Luke with an artificial hand. Lando and Chewbacca set out on the Falcon to locate Han.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American film and stage actor, best known for his self-effacing persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime Achievement award. He was a major MGM contract star. He also had a noted military career, a WWII and Vietnam War veteran, who rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve.
From the beginning of James Stewart's career in 1935 through his final theatrical project in 1991, he appeared in 92 films, television programs and shorts. Through the course of this illustrious career, he appeared in many landmark and critically acclaimed films, including such classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Rear Window, The Spirit of St. Louis and Vertigo. His roles in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, It's a Wonderful Life, Harvey, and Anatomy of a Murder earned him Academy Award nominations (he won for Philadelphia Story). Stewart's career defied the boundaries of genre and trend, and he made his mark in screwball comedies, suspense thrillers, westerns, biographies and family films.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Mount St. Helens is most famous for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 am PDT which was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,365 ft (2,550 m) and replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied.
As with most other volcanoes in the Cascade Range, Mount St. Helens is a large eruptive cone consisting of lava rock interlayered with ash, pumice, and other deposits. The mountain includes layers of basalt and andesite through which several domes of dacite lava have erupted. The largest of the dacite domes formed the previous summit, and off its northern flank sat the smaller Goat Rocks dome. Both were destroyed in the 1980 eruption.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Maureen Paula O’Sullivan (17 May 1911 – 23 June 1998) was an Irish actress who was considered Ireland's first film star.
O'Sullivan was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, the daughter of Mary Lovatt (née Fraser) and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in The Connaught Rangers who served in The Great War. She attended a convent school in Dublin, then the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton in London (now Woldingham School). One of her classmates there was Vivien Leigh. After attending finishing school in France, O'Sullivan returned to Dublin and began working with the poor.
O'Sullivan's film career began when she met motion picture director Frank Borzage, who was doing location filming on Song o' My Heart for 20th Century Fox. He suggested she take a screen test. She did and won a part in the movie, which starred Irish tenor John McCormack. She then traveled to the United States to complete the movie in Hollywood.
O'Sullivan appeared in six movies at Fox, then made three more at other movie studios. In 1932, she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. After several roles there and at other movie studios, she was chosen by Irving Thalberg to appear as Jane Parker in Tarzan the Ape Man opposite co-star Johnny Weissmuller, with whom she had a brief affair during the early 1930s. Besides playing Jane, she was one of the more popular ingenues at MGM throughout the 1930s and appeared in a number of other productions with various stars.
In all, O'Sullivan played Jane in six features between (1932) and (1942). She did not mind doing the first two jungle movies, but feared being typecast and grew increasingly tired of the role.
She also starred with William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man (1934) and played Kitty in Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo and Basil Rathbone. She appeared as Molly Beaumont in A Yank at Oxford (1938), which was written partly by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At her request, he rewrote her part to give it substance and novelty. She played another Jane in Pride and Prejudice (1940) with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, and supported Ann Sothern in Maisie Was a Lady (1941).
After appearing in Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942), O'Sullivan asked MGM to release her from her contract so she could care for her husband who had just left the Navy with typhoid. She then retired from show business, devoting her time to being a wife and mother.
O'Sullivan was first married to Australian-born writer, later award-winning director, and Catholic convert John Farrow (12 September 1936 - 28 January 1963, his death). She was a widow for twenty years, then married James Cushing (22 August 1983 - 23 June 1998, her death).
She and Farrow were the parents of seven children: Michael Damien (1939-1958), Patrick Joseph (1942-2009), Maria de Lourdes (Mia), John Charles (born 1946), Stephanie, Prudence, and Theresa Magdalena "Tisa" Farrow.
In (1948), she re-appeared on the screen in The Big Clock for Paramount Pictures, which was directed by her husband. She continued to appear occasionally in her husband's movies and on television. By 1960, she believed she had permanently retired, perhaps prompted by roles such as Mrs. Mimms in The Tall T in which her aging is the focus of the roles.
Then fellow Irish thespian Pat O'Brien encouraged her to take a part in summer stock. The play A Roomful of Roses opened in 1961. That led to another play, Never Too Late, in which she co-starred with Paul Ford in what was her Broadway debut. Shortly after it opened on Broadway, John Farrow died of a heart attack.
O'Sullivan was predeceased by her eldest son, Michael, who died in a plane crash in California. O'Sullivan stuck with acting after the death of her husband. She was the Today Girl for NBC for a while, then she made the movie version of Never Too Late (1965) for Warner Bros.. She was also an executive director of a bridal consulting service, Wediquette International.
When her daughter, Mia Farrow, became involved with Woody Allen both professionally and romantically, O'Sullivan appeared in Hannah and Her Sisters, playing Farrow's mother. She also had important roles in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), starring Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage, and the sci-fi oddity Stranded (1987).
In 1994, she appeared with Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers in Hart to Hart: Home Is Where the Hart Is, a feature-length made-for-TV movie with the wealthy husband-and-wife team from the popular weekly detective series, Hart to Hart.
Maureen O'Sullivan died in Scottsdale, Arizona of complications from heart surgery. She is buried in the Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna, New York, her widower's hometown.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6541 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California facing the star of Johnny Weissmuller.