The feedback to the first edition of Stargayzing’s 30 Stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era Who Are Still Alive feature was so positive (as of this writing it is the blog’s most highly read piece), that I have prepared a second edition which will address some of the omissions and include some your suggestions of who should have been included.  Once again, my work has been slowed by the passing of some who I was hurriedly writing about (Eli Wallach, Lizabeth Scott, Louis Jourdan).  So without wasting another moment, here is the follow-up list of Hollywood’s oldest living stars of the Golden Age.  Please be sure to let me know who I forgot, as I’m already at work on volume three.

Julie Andrews "Mary Poppins"

Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins” (1964)

To read these pieces in order—and so you know who was already saluted before the deluge of amazing suggestions for volume three comes in, here is Stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era Who Are Still Alive, Volume 1.

 

Dean Stockwell 1970s1.  Dean Stockwell (born March 5, 1936 – age 78)

“I started at a very early age in this business and I’m sure most of you have read stories about people who have started as children and ended up in very difficult lives and bad consequences. It’s not the easiest life in the world, but then no life is easy.”

Dean Stockwell’s career spans over 65 years.  He began as a child in Hollywood under contract to MGM, with memorable roles next to some of the biggest stars of all-time in films like Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, as the son of Gregory Peck in Gentleman’s Agreement and the son of Myrna Loy and William Powell in Song of the Thin Man (both 1947).  Other important roles of this period, include co-starring with Herbert Marshall and Margaret O’Brian in The Secret Garden (1949) and working opposite Errol Flynn in Kim (1950).

Unlike many of his child actor peers, Stockwell transitioned to adult roles with seeming ease: he starred in both the Broadway adaptation of the Leopold and Loeb story Compulsion, as well as its 1959 film version with Orson Welles (for which Stockwell won the Cannes Film Festival award at Best Actor); starred in Jack Cardiff’s acclaimed Sons and Lovers (1960); and the 1962 version of O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night with Katharine Hepburn, for which he won the Best Actor award at Cannes once again.

After dropping out of the business in the 1960s and 1970s, first to be a hippie, then a real estate agent, Stockwell successfully rebooted his career.  Later work included roles in Wim Wenders Paris, Texas (1984), David Lynch’s Dune (1984), William Friedken’s To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), and again with Lynch in Blue Velvet (1986).  He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1988 for Jonathan Demme’s Married to the Mob.  He is also well-known for his extensive TV work on shows like Quantum Leap (1989-1993) and Battlestar Gallactica among many, many more credits.

Fun facts: Stockwell is also an artist.  He designed the cover for friend Neil Young’s album American Stars ‘n Bars (1977).  Neil Young "Stars and Bars"

 

Fun fact 2: Stockwell’s father was an actor and singer whose biggest credit was voicing the prince in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

 

 

 

Shirley Knight young2.  Shirley Knight (born July 5, 1936 – age 78)

“Men are allowed to get older and women are not.”

Actors Studio alumna Shirley Knight has had notable success on stage, in film and on TV over the course of a career that began in the late-1950s.  Knight is a three-time Emmy winner, a Tony winner, and two-time Oscar nominee for best supporting actress (in 1960 for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and in 1962 for Sweet Bird of Youth).  Other notable film performances include The Group (1966), The Dutchman (1966), Petulia (1968), The Rain People (1969), As Good as It Gets (1997), and Elevator (2011).

Knight has starred on Broadway since the 1960s, including memorable turns in Three Sisters (1964), We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1966) and Kennedy’s Children (1975, Tony Award).  On TV, Knight has guest starred on everything from Thirtysomething (Emmy Award) to Law & Order to Hot in Cleveland.  She won a second Emmy for a guest appearance on NYPD Blue in 1995.  She is probably best known in recent years for a recurring role on Desperate Housewives as Bree Hodge’s annoying former mother-in-law, Phyllis Van de Kamp.

Shirley Knight has a simple, lovely website:  shirleyknight.net.

 

Julie Andrews pink lips3.  Julie Andrews (born October 1, 1935 – age 79)

On being a gay icon: “I don’t know. I’m sort of aware that I am. But I’m that odd mixture of, on the one hand, being a gay icon and, on the other hand, having grandmas and parents being grateful I’m around to be a babysitter for their kids. And I’ve never been able to figure out what makes a gay icon, because there are many different kinds. I don’t think I have the image that, say, Judy Garland has, or Bette Davis.”

There are few living legends who had the impact and enduring popularity of Dame Julie Andrews, who has built a sturdy career out of riffing on her persona as the nicest person you might ever meet—Mary Poppins (1964), The Sound of Music (1965)—and then playing against type—S.O.B (1981), Victor/Victoria (1983).  Other notable screen successes throughout the decades include Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain (1966), The Americanization of Emily (1964), 10 (1979), The Princess Diaries (2001), Shrek (2004-2010), and Despicable Me (2010).

Whether it is on screen, on stage, on record or as an author, there are few show business brands as clearly delineated and well-maintained as that of Julie Andrews.  The impact of a lifetime of achievement was felt when Andrews appeared unexpectedly at the 2015 Oscars after Lady Gaga’s surprisingly adequate tribute to Andrews and The Sound of Music.  In those moments of mutual admiration between the two performers and their worldwide audience, the viewer felt the full measure of love for and good will toward Miss Andrews.  In some indescribable way, the torch was passed and respect was paid.

 

Piper Laurie "Carrie"4.  Piper Laurie (born January 22, 1932 – age 83) 

“If I had stayed in Hollywood, I would have killed myself. Or someone would have done it for me.”

Though Piper Laurie is best known for her Oscar-nominated role as the mother of Sissy Spacek’s Carrie in Brian DePalma’s 1976 film, the Detroit native has enjoyed a long career.  Born Rosetta Jacobs, Laurie name was changed after being signed to Universal Pictures in 1949.  She made her film debut in Louisa (1950) with Ronald Reagan (with whom she claimed to have lost her virginity in her 2011 autobiography Learning to Live Out Loud).  Other notable film roles over the years have included Oscar-nominated turns in The Hustler (1961) with Paul Newman and Children of a Lesser God (1986).

TV work over the years in everything from Days of Wine and Roses on Playhouse 90 (1958) to David Lynch’s cult favorite Twin Peaks (1991).  Other memorable guest appearances include ER (as George Clooney’s mother), Frasier, Matlock, State of Grace, Will & Grace, Cold Case, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Laurie has also enjoyed of a long career on the stage.  Highlights of her Broadway career include a 1965 revival of The Glass Menagerie with Maureen Stapleton and the 2002 Lincoln Center revival of Mornings at Seven.

[More of Hollywood's surviving stars, after the jump.]

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This most interesting list of songs Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim wishes he wrote himself (at least in part), originally appeared in the New York Times Magazine in 2000 and was a fascinating sidebar to a Frank Rich piece honoring the composer on his 70th birthday. I only wish that Sondheim had elaborated and expressed why he made these choices. In some cases, it is fairly obvious as these song selections reflect—to use Mr. Rich’s word,”Sondheimesque” qualities. To drill down further, why does the mystery-loving maestro’s specifically make the cryptic reference “at least in part,” without getting specific as to which part of the song he wishes he wrote. With Sondheim it is always puzzles and games.

In the spirit of both encouraging the American Popular Songbook to continue to flourish and with an interest in illuminating the artistry of inarguably our greatest living musical theater composer, I decided to expand upon Mr. Sondheim’s ideas. The embedded recordings are Stargayzing additions. All of the commentary is mine; only the song choices themselves come from the venerable Mr. Sondheim. I learned many new songs I had never heard from researching this piece. I hope you will too.

Volume one was published in Stargayzing a few weeks back; here is volume two.  Please be sure to let me know which version of these songs is your favorite (in many cases, there were so many great recordings).

 

Sondheim smoking

SONGS I WISH I’D WRITTEN

(AT LEAST IN PART), Volume Two

By Stephen Sondheim

 

 

Guettel, Adam

Adam Guettel comes from musical theater royalty: he is the son of Mary Rodgers and the grandson of legendary Richard Rodgers.

“The Riddle Song,” from Floyd Collins (1994)

This is the version from the 1997 cast album of Floyd Collins.

 

Henderson, Ray

“Birth of the Blues,” from George White’s Scandals 1926, lyrics by B.G. DeSylva and Lew Brown

There are so many versions of this incredible song, but I think Sammy Davis, Jr.’s live version is my absolute favorite.

 

Jurmann, Walter and Kaper, Bronislau

“San Francisco,” from San Francisco (film, 1936), lyrics by Gus Kahn

This is Judy Garland’s live performance from a 1964 episode of her CBS TV Show, that comes as close as possible to conveying the essence of her legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall concert.

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Monday, June 15th, 2015

Christopher Lee (1922 – 2015)

Christopher Lee, "Scars of Dracula"

Christopher Lee in “Scars of Dracula,” 1970

“I was once asked what I thought was the most disquieting thing you could see on the screen and I said, ‘An open door.’”

The lauded English actor Christopher Lee, who died on June 7 at 93, is best known for his role as Count Dracula in a string of popular Hammer Horror films. Other notable roles include Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Saruman in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit film trilogy (2012–2014), and Count Dooku in the final two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy (2002 and 2005).  If you put stock in such things and regard them as an achievement, that is quite a lot of franchises for an octogenarian actor.

Christopher Lee was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011 and received the BFI Fellowship in 2013. According to Wiki, Lee himself considered his best performance to be that of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the biopic Jinnah (1998), and his best film to be the British horror film The Wicker Man (1973.)

You may be asking yourself, “But did he sing?”  I unearthed a video that will answer your questions.  Here is a video of Lee singing a duet with a man with Robert Plant hair and Liza Minnelli vibrato; a can’t miss combination.

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A Letter From Film Scholar Leonard Maltin Regarding His Fanzine Film Fan Monthly

Karen Black: “My Top 10 Favorite Moments in All of The Sci-Fi/Science-Fantasy/Horror Films I Have Seen”

William Wyler’s 10 Greatest Films of All Time