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Remembering the Multi-Talented Actor & Humanitarian Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye in White Christmas (1954)

Every once in a while it will dawn on me that I barely know anything about a certain actor or actress even though I’ve heard their name a million times and probably should be more familiar with them.

That happened to me again recently, this time in regard to actor Danny Kaye. All I really knew about him was that he starred in the movie White Christmas (1954), which is the only movie of his that I had seen up until this week. I don’t know why, but I always hate having to admit that about someone, even though it certainly wasn’t intentional!

After reading a blog post by speaker Barry Bradford titled Unexpected Movie Teams, I set out to watch the movie On the Riviera (1951), which starred Danny Kaye and Gene Tierney. It was in part because I figured it was about time I got to know more about Danny Kaye, but it really had more to do with the fact that I am a big fan of Gene Tierney.

I can’t say that the movie as a whole left that much of an impression on me, but Danny Kaye’s versatile performance and the things I learned about him while watching the DVD’s special feature called “A Portrait of Danny Kaye,” caused me to gain a new found respect and admiration for him. I had no idea he was such an interesting, multi-faceted person who certainly lived up to the quote below! Continue reading »

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Saturday State Post: Classic Movie Actors from the Carolinas

This week’s Saturday State Post highlights actors and actresses from both North and South Carolina. I am combining both in one post, not because I think they aren’t worthy of being covered individually, but I just simply could not find enough familiar names from South Carolina to fill a separate post.

A few of the actors and actresses from North and South Carolina are:

Actress Esther Dale

Esther Dale

Born: November 10, 1885 in Beaufort, SC

Died: July 23, 1961 (age 75)

Married Once

Known for the Movies: Curly Top, Fury, The Awful Truth, The Mortal Storm, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Holiday Affair, The Egg and I, Monkey Business

My Favorite Esther Dale Movie: The Awful Truth

 

Interesting Facts About Esther Dale:

  • Before she became an actress, she studied music in Berlin, Germany and had a career as a lieder singer. The Encyclopedia Britannica can explain what that means better than I can. :-)
  • She appeared in three of the nine Ma and Pa Kettle films that were made following the success of the The Egg and I (1947), the movie in which the characters first appeared.

Actor Barton MacLaine

Barton MacLaine

Born: December 25, 1902 in Columbia, SC

Died: January 1, 1969  (age 66)

Married twice. He was married to his second wife Charlotte Wynters for 30 years.

Known for the Movies: High Sierra, Come Live With Me, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Glenn Miller Story

My Favorite Barton MacLaine Movie: The Glenn Miller Story Continue reading »

Rest in Peace Shirley Temple Black

Shirley Temple

My heart is heavy today after learning of the passing of beloved film star, Shirley Temple Black. I’ve had a special affinity for Shirley ever since I first saw her in the movie Bright Eyes (1934) and fell in love with her sparkle and talent. I’ve enjoyed so many of her movies over the years including my ten favorites, which I wrote about a few years ago.

When I think of Shirley’s movies and some of my favorite scenes, the one that always seems to stand out and will forever be special to me was the song and dance routine she performed with co-star Buddy Ebsen, set to the song “At the Codfish Ball” in the movie Captain January (1936).

 

My thoughts and prayers go out to Shirley’s family and friends on this very sad day. Rest in peace, Shirley. Thank you for all the joy you brought to me and your many fans.

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Saturday State Post: Classic Movie Actors from New Jersey

My inspiration for choosing which state to cover next in this series was Joan Bennett, who starred in a few movies I’ve watched recently including, Secret Beyond the Door (1947) earlier this week. She was born in the state of New Jersey so that is the state I’m covering today.

A few of the actors and actresses from the state of New Jersey are:

Actor Thomas Mitchell

Thomas Mitchell

Born: July 11, 1892 in Elizabeth, NJ

Died: December 17, 1962 (age 70)

Married twice

Known for the Movies: Lost Horizon, The Hurricane, Make Way for Tomorrow, Stagecoach, Only Angels Have Wings, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gone With the Wind, The Dark Mirror, It’s a Wonderful Life, High Noon

My Favorite Thomas Mitchell Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life

Interesting Facts About Thomas Mitchell:

  • A very versatile performer, Thomas Mitchell worked on Broadway in various capacities for almost 20 years before starting his very successful film career. He then worked extensively on television in the 1950′s and early 1960′s.
  • When he won the Tony Award for his performance in the musical Hazel Flagg in 1953, he became the first actor to win the “triple crown” of acting awards. He had previously won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the movie Stagecoach (1939) and an Emmy for his performance as Father Devlin in The Good of His Soul on “The Ford Television Theatre” in 1953. Thomas Mitchell is the second actor I’ve featured in this series to have won the triple crown. Melvyn Douglas from my post about the state of Georgia also accomplished the feat in 1967.
  • In what is often considered the greatest year of movies, 1939, he starred in three of the films that were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Gone With the Wind. Continue reading »
My Top 10 Favorite Classic Movie Actors

Jimmy-Stewart

I’m spending this summer day inside due to the unseasonably cool and cloudy weather we’re having here, so I thought this would be a good time to follow up my top 10 favorite actresses list with the list of my favorite actors.

As promised, Jimmy Stewart is firmly planted in the top spot. :-) And as with my actresses list, after number one these are not necessarily in an exact order because I love them all so much, but it’s pretty close.

 

 

My top 10 favorite classic movie actors are:

  1. Jimmy Stewart
  2. Cary Grant
  3. James Cagney
  4. Gene Kelly
  5. Joseph Cotten
  6. William Powell
  7. Robert Taylor
  8. Claude Rains
  9. Tyrone Power
  10. Clark Gable

Honorable mention: Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy. I didn’t do an honorable mention for actresses, but I just had to for actors. Leaving Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy off my list almost felt like a crime, but I simply ran out of spots. :-)

Who is your favorite classic movie actor? Your top 10?

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Bette or Barbara? Who IS My Favorite Classic Movie Actress?!

Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon

Has your favorite classic movie actor or actress changed over time or has the same person been occupying your top spot for as long as you can remember? For a long time now, I’ve considered Bette Davis my favorite actress, but there have been a few times recently when I’ve questioned whether or not Barbara Stanwyck really occupies my top spot instead.

One of those times was when I was looking over Barbara’s impressive filmography trying to decide which movie I would write about for the upcoming Barbara Stanwyck blogathon being hosted by Aubyn at The Girl With the White Parasol.

Even though the event isn’t until next month, there are already tons of great bloggers who have signed up to write about Barbara Stanwyck and her movies. I will be covering the comedy Ball of Fire (1941), which also stars Gary Cooper. Make sure to mark your calendars for July 16-22 and check out all the great posts. I love so many of her movies that it should make for a fun read!

Bette Davis

Getting back to the matter of who’s my favorite actress, obviously it doesn’t really matter. They are both great actresses and have their own unique qualities, but the question did give me the idea to put together a top 10 list of my favorite classic movie actresses, oddly enough something I’ve never really taken the time to do before in all my years of being a classic movie fan.

As you can see, I decided to keep Bette number one, but Barbara is definitely a close second. The other actresses are not necessarily in the exact order, but I did try to rank them as best I could.

 
 

My top 10 favorite classic movie actresses are:

  1. Bette Davis
  2. Barbara Stanwyck
  3. Ingrid Bergman
  4. Myrna Loy
  5. Loretta Young
  6. Gene Tierney
  7. Claire Trevor
  8. Irene Dunne
  9. Norma Shearer
  10. Katharine Hepburn

I’ll follow up with a list of my favorite actors some time soon, but spoiler alert: don’t expect anyone other than Jimmy Stewart to be in the top spot! :-)

I’m always interested in seeing how diverse the tastes and opinions of classic movie fans are, so please don’t hesitate to share your favorite actress in the comments section below! Or if you feel like taking the time, go ahead and list your entire top 10!