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.
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.
“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).
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)
“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.
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.
“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.]