Year of the Centenary: Classic Movie Actors from Missouri
In honor of Jean Harlow’s 100th birthday, which was celebrated by her many fans earlier this month, this week’s actors by state post features classic movies actors from Missouri, Jean’s home state. Coincidentally, a few of the other stars on this list were also born in the same year as Jean, so there are more centennial birthday celebrations to come in 2011.
Born: March 3, 1911 in Kansas City, MO
Died: June 7, 1937 (age 26)
Married three times
Known for the Movies: Hell’s Angels, Platinum Blonde, Red Dust, Bombshell, Libeled Lady
My Favorite Jean Harlow Movie: Platinum Blonde
Interesting Facts About Jean Harlow:
- In May 1937, she became the first actress to appear on the cover of Life Magazine.
- She was the godmother of famous mobster Bugsy Siegel’s daughter Millicent.
- She was one of the inspirations for Batman creator Bob Kane’s character of Catwoman.
Born: June 10, 1910 in Joplin, MO
Died: December 2, 1990 (age 80)
Married five times
Known for the Movies: Kings Row, Saboteur, Moon Over Miami, Dial M for Murder
My Favorite Robert Cummings Movie: Dial M for Murder
Interesting Facts About Robert Cummings:
- He was taught how to fly by his godfather Orville Wright and eventually became a licensed pilot and flight instructor.
- He was a very vocal advocate of eating a healthy diet and authored a book called Stay Young and Vital.
- He received a role on Broadway by faking a British accent and using the name Blade Stanhope. When he got to Hollywood, he received a film role while faking a Southern accent and posing as a wealthy Texan named Bruce Hutchens.
Born: July 16, 1911 in Independence, MO
Died: April 25, 1995 (age 83)
Married five times
Known for the Movies: The Gay Divorcee, Top Hat, Swing Time, Stage Door, Kitty Foyle
My Favorite Ginger Rogers Movie: Top Hat
Interesting Facts About Ginger Rogers:
- Her photo was one of many that Anne Frank placed on her bedroom wall while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.
- She had both a street (Ginger Rogers Road) and a theater (the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater) named after her.
- She was Hollywood’s highest paid movie star in 1942.
Born: May 27, 1911 in St. Louis, MO
Died: October 25, 1993 (age 82)
Married three times
Known for the Movies: Laura, House of Wax, House on Haunted Hill
My Favorite Vincent Price Movie: Laura
Interesting Facts About Vincent Price:
- He once won $32,000 on the game show The $64,000 Question.
- He was an avid art collector and founded the Vincent Price Gallery at East Los Angeles College.
- His role in the movie Edward Scissorhands was intended to be much larger than the two scenes he appeared in, but his ill health due to emphysema and Parkinson’s disease prevented it.
- In addition to his more well known speaking part in Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller”, he made a short speech on Alice Cooper’s “Welcome To My Nightmare” album.
Born: January 5, 1917 in St. Joseph, MO
Died: September 10, 2007 (age 90)
Married four times, once to the future President of the United States, Ronald Reagan
Known for the Movies: The Lost Weekend, Johnny Belinda, The Yearling, Magnificent Obsession
My Favorite Jane Wyman Move: Magnificent Obsession
Interesting Facts About Jane Wyman:
- She was encouraged to audition for the tv show Falcon Crest by her ex-husband Ronald Reagan. She would go on to star in the series as for nine seasons.
- Although she declined to talk about Ronald Reagan in interviews, she did attend his funeral upon his death in 2004.
- She was the first person in a non silent film to win an Academy Award without having spoken a single word of dialogue. She won the award for her role as a deaf and mute rape victim in the movie Johnny Belinda (1948).
There were several other well known classic movie actors from the state of Missouri including Wallace Beery, Betty Grable, Betty Garrett, Shelley Winters, and Virginia Mayo.