Happy Birthday Blonde Bombshell Jean Harlow

105 years ago the actress Harlean Carpenter was born. She would go on to become the well loved actress Jean Harlow

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In this stunningly beautiful actresses short life the public saw her rise from the ashes of critically unsuccessful films to staring opposite the greats such as Clark Gable and Spencer Tracey. She had friendships people envied, a career that remained strong when the Depression set in and mega stars like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford were waning and she can be credited with being the inspiration behind Marilyn Monroe’s trademark hair.

Harlow was known for her catching laugh and versatility to act tumblr_nn27itkJhG1qe4ru4o1_500in any film she wanted to. This made her a much wanted icon in Hollywood and made her the type of woman people wanted to be. She swapped regularly from serious to comedy films and it’s this genre she’s probably best known for.
In her 10 year film career she made 36 films and was mostly recognised on and off the screen for her peroxide blonde hair making her one of the first blonde bombshells to grace the screen. Before this you’ll typically note most of the lead actresses had dark hair.

Of course there was the bad moments, like in any Hollywood stars life. Harlow was married three times, the longest lasting for 2 years. She found the love of her life with William Powell but sadly before they could ever be married she became ill with kidney failure which resulted in her death at the age 0f 26. There are plenty of rumours surrounding her death the most famous being that she died of a result of peroxide poisoning.

All her films are worth watching. She was a great actress that even when ill managed to get the films finished and premiered to great success. Even her last film Saratoga was finished well with body doubles when she died during shooting.

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Jean Harlow would be remembered forever for being the blonde bombshell that paved the way for change in Hollywood. She became the first actress to grace the cover of Life magazine and she would always be famous for her grace and poise on and off the screen.

 

Quite possibly one of the best on screen partnerships ever.

Happy Birthday Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco!

Actress. Mother. Philanthropist. Style Icon. Princess of Monaco.

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Today would have been Grace Kelly’s 85th Birthday. She was as famous an actress as she was a Princess and will always be remembered for her fashion choices, very private private life and for her leading roles opposite some very famous leading men. When she gave up acting to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco Hollywood and her fans literally mourned the loss of such an amazing and dedicated actress but we would soon see her as  the perfect Princess. She took all her duties in her stride, put her family first and became world known in her charity work.

We would then mourn her again, when aged 52, she died after a car crash. Many she had worked with throughout her life would attend her funeral including Princess Diana, Cary Grant and James Stewart who read a eulogy.

Grace, you gave us such delicate yet strong performances that showed us what a strong woman you were and what strong women we could be. You’re remembered even today for your fashion style and your beautiful hairstyle. You charmed audiences and the likes of James Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra and all the other men you acted opposite. Not many other women retired from acting and had Alfred Hitchcock trying to persuade them back into the business.

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We leave you with a humorous clip from Grace’s last ever film, released in 1956, High Society.

Birthday Double: Olivia de Havilland & Leslie Caron

This year we bring you a special beginning to July. We celebrate two Hollywood legends birthdays and they’re both still alive! Happy Birthday to Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Caron!

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Both ladies have brought their own achievements to old Hollywood and are true Hollywood actresses in every sense of the phrase.

 

Olivia de Havilland

Olivia_de_Havilland_stillBorn in Tokyo, Japan on 1st July 1916 de Havilland has lived through it all. She broke into Hollywood early on and is famous for starring opposite Errol Flynn in eight films including The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), having a public off screen feud with her sister, Joan Fontaine, but she’s probably most famous for playing Melanie Hamilton in Southern epic Gone With the Wind (1939) with Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Her acting shows how versatile she was and her attitude fits in perfectly with the era of films she was in.  All her big films will be remembered forever as will her supposed romantic ties to Flynn. De Havilland won many awards during her long stage career including two Academy Awards. She also won a court case about how long you could be signed to a certain producer for, even today this is known as the de Havilland Law. She is an actress and woman who will always be remembered for her work, her long life and what she has done for the movie industry as a whole.

Happy 98th Birthday Olivia!

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Leslie Caron

leslie-caron-and-gigi-galleryCaron was born in Seine, France on 1st July 1931. Her first film role was in An American In Paris starring opposite Gene Kelly. It was Kelly that managed to get her into the big films which shot her to stardom. Caron is a well known dancer and singer and is one of only a few actresses to have danced with the likes of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Her most famous role is probably that of her playing Gigi in the 1958 version of Gigi. Her portrayal of a young woman learning to be a courtesan is fun and care free in Minelli’s version of the film. The addition of her lovely singing and dancing makes it a brilliant performance.

Caron has had a long and wonderful career with a mixture of musicals, dramas and tv work. The awards she has won are well deserved and we can only thank Gene Kelly for seeing her talent all those years ago at Ballet des Champs Elysees.

Happy 83rd Birthday Leslie!

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It’s great to be able to write a post about one actor from the Golden era still alive to celebrate their birthday but two is magical in our book. Enjoy your birthday’s ladies while we enjoy celebrating by enjoying your films.

The Best of Eli Wallach

MV5BMTc2NjEwOTQ4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODk3NDc3._V1_SX214_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Every so often we find a actor who can fit into every genre and basically looks and feels comfortable in every role they have ever starred in. Eli Wallach is one of those greats. Many people today probably don’t have a clue who he is but he has a very recognisable face and voice. Sadly it was announce today that he had passed away aged 98. That’s another of the Great Hollywood stars gone and not surprisingly the numbers are dwindling. Wallach’s career spanned decades and in these decades he starred with some of the all time greats but most importantly he starred in many films opposite his wife Anne Jackson.

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Wallach was a great method actor and had roles in many films and tv series so I’ve decided to mix things up a bit. Here are my favourite Eli Wallach moments, some may not be expected.

 

The Misfits (1961)

Wallach plays Clark Gable’s best friend in this film and gives a great performance which is often overlooked because it was Gable and Marilyn Monroe’s last ever film.

Here Guido (Wallach) tries to persuade Roslyn (Monroe) to leave Gay (Gable) for him.

 

Nurse Jackie (S01E03, “Chicken Soup”)

Only in one episode but plays a very memorable character, Bernard Zimberg. Wallach certainly proves his acting skills cross over perfectly into a medical drama. To me this is one of the clips I remember most from Season 1. Sorry for the quality

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

The film starring Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach. It’s a cowboy film about bounty hunters. I decided upon the trailer because of the iconic accents and theme tune. Who can resist?

 

Murder, She Wrote (S04E13 “A Very Good Year For Murder”)

eli-wallachAgain only in one episode and even to this day I can tell you, without looking, which character he is and what happens in the episode. Billy Zane also makes a guest appearance. Wallach plays a wealthy 75 year old, the family have a birthday party and luckily Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is invited because someone ends up dead. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip but if you live in the UK re-runs are always on of this classic series.

 

Eli Wallach will be missed by the entire world and he should be proud of the work he has left behind. His memorable voice, style and looks will live on.

“As an actor I’ve played more bandits, thieves, killers, warlords, molesters, and Mafiosi than you could shake a stick at.”
~ Eli Wallach

 

Week Round Up: Birthdays, Winter Olympics & Vampire Academy

So since so much has happened this week we decided to blend it all together and condense it down into bite size chunks. Make’s it easier to digest you see. We’re hoping that this eclectic mix will hold something for everyone.

Birthdays!

Clark_Gable_-_publicity1st February- Clark Gable (1/2/1901- 16/11/1960) American actor best known for playing Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. Starred in many films with many famous people. Try watching The Misfits which was sadly his last film

4th February- Ida Lupino (4/2/1918- 3/8/1995) British/American actress and pioneer of women film makers. Lupino starred Ida_Lupino_publicityin over 50 films and directed many more TV episodes like Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone. A very fascinating woman in a male dominated career.

Zsa_Zsa_Gabor_-_19596th February- Zsa Zsa Gabor (6/2/1917) Hungarian/ American actress and socialite. She has appeared in films and TV series but is probably best known for being married nine times and having a very public personal life.

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics!

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Sochi 2014 Olympic Mascots

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Where Sochi actually is… There really isn’t that much snow.

As I write this the BBC coverage of the Opening Ceremony has just begun. EXCITING! Sochi 2014 is the 22nd Winter Olympics and Sochi is in Russia, but you probably already knew that. Everyone seems excited to see what the Opening Ceremony will consist of and what Putin has to say. This Winter Olympics is special because it is the first time Ski and Snowboard Slopestyle has been seen at the Olympics (giving Team GB great medal chances) and the first time Women can compete in the Ski Jump. It’s also the first time Team USA have competed on Russian soil… Thanks to Clare Balding for just mentioning that.

In the UK the BBC are basically covering it all and have commentators who know what they’re on about. I will also be out there for a week from the 17th, I’m very excited for that.  We’ll keep you updated on Team GB and any medal prospects. For now go and enjoy the most expensive Olympics ever and try not to let the controversies take anything away from the sport.

Vampire Academy US Opening

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Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry & Dominic Sherwood at Publicity for Vampire Academy

The film to the best selling books opened in the US today. As a resident of the UK I’m torn between hating people who are posting spoilers already and smiling at all the great photos and reviews that are being put on social network sites. Remember we don’t get the film until April. It gives us chance to re-read the books and see if the film gets enough money to maybe have Frostbite optioned.

Goodbye for now, I’m going back the the Sochi Opening Ceremony.

Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole & Joan Fontaine

This week has been tough for Old Hollywood fans everywhere. Two of our beloved actresses and one actor have died in the same week. Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine are world famous and rightly so, they’ll be sorely missed.

Eleanor Parker- 26th June 1922- 9th December 2013

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Many people don’t realise who this lady is and you really should do. Parker is most famous for playing the Baroness in The Sound of Music. She was an actress that went against convention in the 1940’s and 50’s and this is why she doesn’t get the recognition of some actresses in that era. Parker wouldn’t be pigeonholed into playing one type of character, she wanted to play a variety and she was brilliant at it even if her own personality never shone through.

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Parker as the Baroness

Throughout her career she had ups and downs, as everyone does. She starred with some very well know actors such as Kirk Douglas, Julie Andrews and Errol Flynn. She was also nominated for three Academy Awards. When you watch any of her films you can see she worked hard at her roles and even went as far as to perfect a posh English accent in The Woman in White (1948). She starred in over 80 films and TV series throughout her career venturing into series like the original Hawaii Five-O and Murder, She Wrote. No matter what you films, TV series or stage productions you mention most people will only see her as the Baroness… and even then they don’t know her real name.

Peter O’Toole- 2nd August 1932- 14th December 2013

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Peter O’Toole. Fantastic Actor. Hellraiser. True Legend of the big screen. The guy who liked a few drinks too many. O’Toole was a man with many sides and yet each side defined his work and made it successful. In the 60’s he Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed became known as the Hellraisers and the name stuck.

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O’Toole & Hepburn in How to Steal a Million

O’Toole starred in many films that are still famous and well watched today. He played T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) he played opposite Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968) and no one can forget his fun performance with Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966). He must have starred in close to one hundred films throughout his long career and officially retired last year with this statement: ”It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.” Said in true O’Toole style. He is one of those unlucky actors never to have won the Best Actor Oscar even though he was nominated 8 times. The Academy Awards gave him an honorary one in 2003.

Peter O’Toole was great because of his commitment and love for the films he was in. Yes he had drink problems but like many of that era it helped his fame. He gave everything 100% and after his performance in Lawrence of Arabia everyone knew his career was destined for bigger things. He also has beautiful blue eyes which really didn’t hurt his chances in colour films.

Joan Fontaine- 22nd October 1917- 15th December 2013

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I was shocked when I heard of Fontaine’s death at 1am this morning. I honestly thought it was a hoax, it seemed too soon after O’Toole’s death to be real. It is however very real with reports from her family that she died in her sleep.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Fontaine’s sibling rivalry may, to some people, have made her more famous than her acting work did. I don’t believe this one bit. Joan Fontaine was born Joan de Havilland and is Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister. They’ve had a feud for over 50 years and I’m hoping they straightened it out before she passed away.

Fontaine was a well deserved Oscar winner winning in 1947 for To Each His Own. She impressed Alfred Hitchcock with her soft features and big frightened eyes and she starred in two of his films Suspicion and the film that made her famous, Rebecca, opposite Laurence Olivier. Fontaine starred in over 30 films with some of the most recognised stars and directors of the day. She was directed by Billy Wilder in The Emperor Waltz and Fritz Lang in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

She made each film her own and didn’t allow the famous men to take the spotlight off of her. She starred opposite Orson Welles, Bing Crosby and Cary Grant and yet never appeared phased or awestruck. She was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and turned her career into a competition with her sister. Fontaine was a graceful beauty that knew how to speak out in a world where that wasn’t the norm.

Hollywood and the rest of the world should mourn the loss of these three Old Hollywood giants. We’re slowly loosing an era that shaped the film industry we know today. The natural beauty of Parker and Fontaine will never be seen in the same way again and the confidence and skill of O’Toole was second to none.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all their families and we hope that you’ll watch one of their films just to prove to yourself the talent that as left the world.

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Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker in The King & Four Queens (1956)

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Joan Fontaine as Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca (1940)

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Peter O’Toole

BFI re-release classic film Gone With The Wind Nationally in Leigh’s centenary year

b70-3219We all know it’s Vivien Leigh’s centenary celebrations this year. I’ve also made clear on the blog that BFI in London were showing a lot of her films, some well known some not so. It’s now been announced that Civil War epic Gone With The Wind will be re-released in cinemas NATIONWIDE! Yes that means that coming to a cinema near you, in the next few weeks, you’ll be able to watch Vivien & Clark portray one of the worlds best known couples.

Gone With The Wind won 10 Academy Awards in 1940 and when you watch it you will easily see why. It was the first colour film to win the Best Picture Academy Award, remember Wizard of Oz was filmed and released in the same year. The film is a romance set in the American Civil War and contains something to keep everyone happy. Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara a feisty Southern Belle who as a difficult love life. Clark Gable who plays Rhett Butler the very handsome suitor who eventually wins Scarlett’s hand. There’s war, break ups and make ups, big life upheavals, sorrowful deaths and dresses made out of curtains.

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I’ve just checked and even Cineworld are having a showing (check their site for listings near you.) Locally for me we have Showroom in Sheffield who are having a showing a day 20th December to 24th December. What a perfect way to spend the Christmas week. Obviously some cinemas will include the interlude within the film so don’t worry about having to sit for four hours.

480px-Clark_Gable_and_Vivien_Leigh_-_WindRe-releases from the BFI are big news for old Hollywood lovers because they use the original negatives and make the colours, sound quality and overall viewing experience more vibrant and beautiful than ever before and yet you still feel the originality of the film you love.

I hope you’re all going to try and go! Check for listings with your local cinemas as Gone With The Wind will be shown in over 70 cinemas across the UK. As it’s a romance it’s a great excuse to take your partner with you!

Gone With The Wind Listings for Showroom Sheffield

Click here to see where Gone With The Wind is been shown near you!

Happy 100th Birthday Vivien Leigh!

Today is special. No. It’s more than special. It’s a day for celebrating Vivien’s life, achievements, loves and losses. Born in India while it still belonged to Great Britain she was our original Golden Girl if you like. Her and … Continue reading

November: Dracula, Classic Horror and Vivien Leigh

I was looking through my Simon’s Cat diary and was quite pleased by what’s coming up over the next month. We thought it was our duty to fill you in on all the goodies that we have to look forward to.

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Friday 25th October brings Dracula to US screens. This version looks sinfully brilliant with the very pretty Jonathan Rhys Meyers playing Dracula (We drooled and squealed so much when this was announced.) Meyers is a great choice for Dracula and after seeing him a few times in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones I think he’ll pull the sexy supernatural role off very well. The trailer also looks quite amazing. I’m hoping it lives up to expectations as there seems to be a few gothic style TV Shows airing this fall/ autumn. Sleepy Hollow and Witches of East End to name a few. British fans will recognise Katie McGrath who played Morgana in BBC’s Merlin, in Dracula she plays Lucy. The 10 episode show airs in the UK on Sky Living on 31st October. This means we’ll be in for a ghoulishly good Halloween Night.

Where Horror films are concerned there’s a great film event you need to look out for at Independent cinemas. The event creatively titled Gothic: The Dark Artelsa-lanchester-bride-of-frankenstein-c10102251-1_7942 of Film runs fully at BFI London where they are showing a huge selection of old and classic horror films. Think Nosferatu Symphony of Horror, Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee Draculas and The Bride Of Frankenstein and you’re definitely on the right lines. After some checking at my local cinemas (Showroom Sheffield and City Screen York) we’ve found out that they are also showing selected films (YAY!) Obviously they don’t have the full selection but they do have some corkers. This Sunday I’ll be in York to see Nosferatu in all it’s silent glory. Showroom are running Gothic well into December so people of Yorkshire you have no excuse to miss classic horror!

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For all the films in Gothic: The Dark Art of Film visit BFI: http://www.bfi.org.uk/gothic

Vivien_Leigh_BFI5th November marks Vivien Leigh’s 100th Birthday. Me and Cat are big lovers of this golden starlet and so are making the effort to make her birthday as big as can be. BFI Southbank are also celebrating by showing her films until January 2014. They’re showing classics like Gone With The Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire along with Waterloo Bridge and The Deep Blue Sea. Keep an eye out because there’s also a few talks taking place at BFI, National Portrait Gallery (with none other than Kendra Bean, Exciting!) and one at V&A Museum on 13th November. I’m very much looking forward to all these. Those who are free on Saturday 16th or Monday 18th November can also buy tickets to have a sneak peek in the V&A archives which now contain some of Ms. Leigh’s clothing and personal affects. What a perfect month November will be!

For a more detailed list on Vivien Leigh talks and events visit http://www.vivandlarry.com This site is basically all you need for everything Vivien. It’s ran by Kendra Bean. All screening times are available here: BFI Vivien Leigh showtimes

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As you’ve been warned we will be contributing lots on Vivien Leigh throughout November. It’s our way of showing our love and appreciation. You’re welcome to get involved too!

Bless Yore Beautiful Hide Howard Keel.

Today I’m having a Howard Keel party. It is his birthday so I thought why not? Day off work, good films to watch, a sexy man on the screen and some great songs to sing along to. You want to … Continue reading