Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

30 Stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era Who Are Still Alive

Doris Day pearls

Doris Day in her heyday. She is still kicking in her nineties.

Confession: I struggled with this piece, which I actually began writing last September.  It was dense and overly ambitious, requiring so much research that I just couldn’t get out from under the weight of it.  And then just as the piece startled to settle—horrors—the honorees began to expire.  I lost two, Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine, in one week which was both terribly sad and structurally inconvenient, forcing a rewrite.  I knew that this piece was extra time sensitive and was finally about to publish it yesterday, the 11th of February, when I read the news that Shirley Temple had passed.  Dang!  She was not only one of the most iconic members of my glittering, dwindling group of 31 (now 30), but I was also meant to run her adorable picture as the featured image for the piece, my visual hood ornament for this whole unwieldy enterprise.

After the unfortunate Fontaine/O’Toole departure, I considered making the list shorter, but the mere thought of cutting people from a list meant to hedge against anonymity made me feel ungrateful and cold, so I continued chipping away at my bloated nostalgia choo choo train, prayerful that the cast would hold their positions and just stop dying long enough for me to finish the tribute. Now with my post-Shirley Temple rewrite finished, the piece is done and barring any additional departures in the next 12 hours, I will publish my list of 30 with no further delay and a big sigh of relief.  While I’m certain that this piece will age as poorly as any of its celebrant’s very worst films, I feel good that at least I will have done my small part to remind people who these folks were and why they mattered. Mea culpa for any oversights or factual errors but my heart was in the right place.

So here is how the piece originally began when I started writing five months ago: One of the best moments of Cher’s recent sit down with bff David Letterman was her quip—and I paraphrase, “Sometimes the best career move is to die young.”  Of course she meant this as a self-deprecating swipe at her own stunning career longevity, but like most sarcastic Cher-isms, it was also pithy. This got me to thinking about some of the actors of Hollywood’s Golden Era who have not heeded Cher’s advice and are, in some cases quite remarkably, still with us.  I decided to do something about it and created this loving listicle. As I began my research, I was surprised at the number of times that I was unsure myself if someone was alive, which imbued my mission with an even greater sense of purpose.  I decided somewhat arbitrarily that in order to qualify, the actor had to have made their film debut before 1962 and preferably been under contract during the studio era.

My intention here is not ironic. Though it may feel a bit like a parlor game (like the Dead or Not Dead website), my objective is really to shine the spotlight once again on older people, a community that in our youth obsessed culture, never seems to get the respect it deserves. For every Debbie Reynolds or Shirley MacLaine who is still working and retains a modicum of cultural presence, there are folks we just don’t hear about in the present tense, like Angie Dickinson or Sophia Loren.  Many we don’t hear about in any tense at all which actually makes a history buff like me, well…tense.  This Stargayzing tribute is for all of them.

After the jump we’ll commence, beginning with 72-year-old Ann-Margret, (the baby of our group), a list of 30 stars from youngest to oldest (I am notoriously bad at math—putting this list in reverse order by age was a major drag).  Please comment and tell us who we may have omitted.

 

Ann-Margret flowerAnn-Margret (born Apri 28, 1941 – age 72)

“I just love my privacy.”

An actress/singer/dancer who is equally comfortable in musicals like Viva Las Vegas (1964) and Bye, Bye Birdie (1963), or in dramas like Carnal Knowledge (1971), Ann-Margret has been a major star of film, TV, records, and the stage since the 1950s.  I love Ann-Margret best for the numerous variety show appearances that peppered my childhood. My first Ann-Margret memory was learning in Rona Barrett Hollywood magazine in late-1972 about the actresses’s terrible 22-foot fall from scaffolding to the stage in Lake Tahoe which almost killed her and required facial reconstruction.  Happily she recovered fully, though I’m still getting over it. Other than her alter-ego’s appearance on The Flintstones (as “Ann-Margrock”), my first non-catastrophic Margret memory was in Ken Russell’s Tommy.  At age 10 her famous baked bean scene in an all-white room made no sense to me whatsoever but was so visually stunning that it made an indelible impression.   Twice nominated for the Oscar and winner of five Golden Globe awards, Ann-Margret continues to work today, winning her first Emmy in 2010 for an episode of Law and Order: SVU.  I strongly recommend her website: annmargret.com.

Ann-Margret recipe Ann-Margret recipe Margaret O'BrienMargaret O’Brien (born January 15, 1937 – age 77)

“When I cry, do you want the tears to run all the way or shall I stop halfway down?”

Adorable MGM moppet Margaret O’Brien made her screen debut at the age of four in Babes on Broadway (1941), followed by her breakthrough role the following year in Journey for Margaret.  She gave a convincing performance as a young French girl in Robert Stevensen’s wonderful 1944 version of Jane Eyre, followed by the role for which she is best remembered, “Tootie” in Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis (1944).  As Judy Garland’s younger sister, that role won O’Brien a juvenile Academy Award and remains one of the all-time most affecting screen performances by a child. O’Brien had a difficult transition to adult roles, though she worked from time to time on TV and stage.  She pops up on TCM from time to time to share her warm memories of her childhood in Hollywood and is active on the autograph show circuit.  Toward that end, she maintains a website primarily devoted to purchasing O’Brien ephemera: missmargaretobrien.com

 

Sophia LorenSophia Loren (born September 20, 1934 – age 79)

“Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.”

Sophia Loren has been the screen’s most famous embodiment of the ideal Italian woman since the early 1950s.  She won her Academy Award in 1962 for Vittorio De Sica’s Two Women, becoming the first actress to win the statuette in a foreign film.  Other well-known films include Houseboat with Cary Grant (1958), El Cid, Vittorio De Sica’s Marriage Italian-Style with Marcello Mastroianni (1964), Arabesque with Gregory Peck (1966), Charlie Chaplin’s final film The Countess from Hong Kong with Marlon Brando (1967), and Robert Altman’s Ready to Wear (1995), among many others.  She was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1991 and the Cecil B. DeMille Golden Globe award in 1995. Despite the fact she works infrequently she remains one of the most  famous international film stars and powerful symbol of the sensual European woman.  Fan site: lorenarchives.com

 

 

Shirley MacLaine youngShirley MacLaine (born April 24, 1934 – age 79)

“I can’t advise any of the young ones, because I don’t know what their background was, but I would suggest that anyone who wants to be famous more than anything—there’s a real problem.”

It’s hard to write a thumbnail about someone who has enjoyed as long, varied, and prolific a career as Shirley MacLaine.  Singer, actress, best-selling author, and dancer, MacLaine is a powerhouse who became one of the true greats.  Here is but a tiny piece of her filmography: The Trouble with Harry (1955); Some Came Running (1958, Oscar nomination); The Apartment (1960, Oscar nomination); Irma La Douce (19630; Sweet Charity (1969); The Turning Point (1977, Oscar nomination); Being There (1979); Terms of Endearment (1983, Oscar); Steel Magnolias (1989); Postcards from the Edge (1990); Bernie (2011); and the recent remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013).   She has won the Golden Globe four times as well as receiving their Cecil B. DeMille award in 1998.  On TV she won an Emmy for her 1975 TV Special Gypsy in My Soul and gave a well-publicized star turn on the 2012/2013 season of PBS’ Downton Abby.  In 2012 she was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award.  At 79 she is still every inch a great star, down to the de rigeur bitter autobiography by her daughter Sachi Parker in 2012. She has a shockingly unattractive website that looks more like an e-commerce site for a housewife who sells homeopathic remedies out of garage in Oregon than Shirley MacLaine’s online home: shirleymaclaine.com.  For those of you who are not familiar with Miss MacLaine’s earlier work, this fantastic number from Bob Fosse’s 1969 adaptation of Sweet Charity does an excellent job of showing the unique combination of talents that made Shirley so dynamic.

 

Shirley Jones youngShirley Jones (born March 31, 1934 – age 79)

“I had done 25 motion pictures prior to The Partridge Family and nobody knew my name.”

Some readers may already know Shirley’s birthday from the popular Partridge Family 1972 album Up to Date, but long before she came into our living rooms as Shirley Partridge, Shirley Jones was, of course, one of the last singing ingenues of the Hollywood film musical, starring in Oklahoma! (1955), Carousel (1956), and The Music Man (1962).  Jones won an Oscar for best supporting actress playing against type in the drama Elmer Gantry in 1960.  The film starred and was produced by Burt Lancaster, who fought director Richard Brooks to cast Miss Jones. Though she will forever be best known for playing Shirley Partridge, Jones has enjoyed a long career that encompasses film, TV, records and live performances.  She is still active, visible, and sexy at 79.   Shirley has her own website that appears to be under construction: shirleyjones.com  and there is a cute fan site that appears to be endorsed by Shirl: shirleyjones.net

 

Joan Collins featuredJoan Collins (born May 23, 1933 – age 80)

“Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.”

What can I say about the still-gorgeous, imperious Miss Collins that I haven’t already said before in Stargayzing?  Well, perhaps that out of the stars whom I’ve had the pleasure (or, in some cases displeasure) to know personally over the years, Miss Collins was one of the most fun and definitely one of the very best conversationalists.  A true raconteur, I always enjoyed the chance to hear her tell stories about the many people she’s known over the years.  I generally found her to be open, funny, and only too glad to tell a story. From the high to the low, Joan Collins has held our attention for over 50 years and no matter where she is, she is invariably the biggest star in the room.  She has recently finished a new film for the USA network called Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist.  She has a simple but completely acceptable website: joancollins.net

 

Kim Novak sweaterKim Novak (born February 13, 1933 – age 80)

I didn’t want to start relying on what someone else thought was right. It was easier to go away all together.”

Kim Novak was the quintessential Hollywood blonde and a huge star in the 1950s.  Credits include Phffft (1954), Picnic (1955), The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), Pal Joey (1957), Bell, Book, and Candle (1958), and The Mirror Crack’d (1980).  Of course she is best known as the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.  She also starred on TV in Falcon Crest in the mid-1980s. When the roles started slowing down in the mid-1960s, Novak retreated from Hollywood.  She lives in Oregon and raises horses and llamas.  She has no website and likes to paint.

 

 

Debbie Reynolds pinkDebbie Reynolds (born April 1, 1932 – age 81)

“I think one of my favorite films is ‘Dark Victory’ with Bette Davis. Why? She was so wonderful in that film. And…maybe I just want a good cry once in a while without having to go through a divorce.”

Debbie Reynolds has been a force of nature since forever and she’s still out there doing her thing (she was amazing earlier this year as Liberace’s mother in Behind the Candelabra).  From hit singles (“Tammy,” 1957), to iconic films (Singin’ in the Rain, 1952), to starring roles on Broadway (Irene, 1973 – Tony Nomination), Debbie Reynolds has been sharing her exuberance and love of performing since she was a teenager.  Other notable roles include The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964, Oscar nomination), That’s Entertainment (1974), and Albert Brooks’ Mother (1996).  She is an avid lover of film history and collector of film memorabilia.  She published her autobiography Unsinkable earlier this year. As if being Carrie Fisher’s mother didn’t give her eternal street cred, Debbie is on twitter and has an awesome website, debbiereynolds.com, where we all can purchase some of her beloved film memorabilia.  (For film lovers like me it was a great deal of fun rummaging around in Miss Reynolds’ closet)  As if that isn’t enough, check out the website for the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio.  There’s also a really cute fans called DebbieReynoldsOnline. It’s hard not to admire the professionalism and spirit of this 81-year-old show business veteran.  Viva La Debbie!

 

 

Angie Dickinson sweaterAngie Dickinson (born September 30, 1931 – age 82)

“You can’t stop the aging process. There’s only so much oil you can put on your body. I’ve always just tried to go with my age. If the part requires somebody a little younger or older, I can probably get away with that.”

Angie Dickinson has gone back and forth between TV and film since the early 1950s.   Some of her most memorable film roles include Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959), Don Siegel’s The Killers (1964), John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967), and Brian DePalma’s Dressed to Kill (1980).  On TV Dickinson is best known at Pepper Anderson on Police Woman, a breakthrough role for woman.  The hit show ran from 1974-1978. The glamorous Dickinson still works from time to time.  She has no website, but writer Chris Erskine wrote a lovely piece about her in  the L.A. Times a few months ago.

 

 

Mitzi Gaynor TVMitzi Gaynor (born September 4, 1931 – age 82)

“[On 'There's No Business Like Show Business'] I found a way to keep Ethel (Merman) cool. Whenever Marilyn (Monroe) wouldn`t come out of her dressing room, I gave Ethel a wink, hinting that something naughty was going on in there. Of course that wasn`t true, but if Ethel thought maybe some hanky-panky was going on, she could enjoy the situation.”

For some reason that I’m still not completely sure of, the Eating With the Stars’ edition of Mitzi Gaynor’s Tangy Rice Pilaf has been a consistently robust feature on Stargayzing.  I can only assume there is still a fervent fan base for the legendary hoofer, or that there is a dearth of good recipes for Tangy Rice Pilaf out there.  Either way, Mitzi is a great friend of this blog, so it gives me great pleasure to promote her lovely website which feels very personal and is lots of fun: missmitzigaynor.com.

 

 

Tab Hunter colorTab Hunter (born July 11, 1931 – age 82)

“The star thing is over. I’ve knocked around quite a bit in the past few years and now I’m just another actor looking for work. Acting is what I know and what I do best…I’m trying to find a new niche…something to help erase that bland image the studios gave me in the Fifties. I’m looking for roles that will establish me as a more mature actor.” 

Tab Hunter is one of the few stars on this list I’ve actually had the experience of meeting.  He was amazingly down to earth, warm, and friendly.  He seems to have really adjusted well to a post-teen idol life.  A few years back he wrote a first-rate celebrity autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential and he has a website that is as good looking as he is: tabhunter.com.

 

 

Leslie CaronLeslie Caron (born July 1, 1931 – age 82)  

“There were many good actresses in my time like Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds, but I was the only dancer.”

Miss Caron appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003, including An American in Paris (1951), Lili (1953), Daddy Long Legs (1955), and Gigi (1958).  Her autobiography Thank Heaven was published in 2010.  She won an Emmy in 2006 for a guest performance on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.  She does not have a website.

 

 

Claire Bloom colorClaire Bloom (born February 15, 1931 – age 82)

“I think that few professions have so much to do with chance and so little to do with the calculation of will.”

English actress Claire Bloom made a memorable screen debut in Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight (1952).  Over the years she has starred opposite Lawrence Olivier in Richard III (1955) and Clash of the Titans (1981).  She starred with Richard Burton in Look Back in Anger (1956) and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965).  Other film roles include Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and Mighty Aphrodite (1995).  She also appeared in The King’s Speech (2010). In addition to her film work, Bloom has worked extensively on stage and television.  Like almost every living actor, she has appeared on Law and Order.  She was married to Oscar-winning actor Rod Steiger in the 1950s and writer Philip Roth in the 1990s.  She has no website.

 

 

Sean Connery redSean Connery (born August 25, 1930, age 83)

“More than anything else, I’d like to be an old man with a good face, like Alfred Hitchcock or Pablo Picasso. “

Legend Sean Connery will probably always be most closely associated with James Bond, a role he played seven times, beginning in 1962 with Dr. No, and continuing until 1983′s Never Say Never Again.  Other memorable roles over the years include Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Name of the Rose (1986), The Hunt for Red October (1990), and Finding Forrester (2000).  He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Untouchables (1987). He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2000.  He has won three Golden Globe awards and the Kennedy Center honor.  He has a stunningly average website: seanconnery.com.

 

 

Joanne Woodward 1950sJoanne Woodward (born February 27, 1930 – age 83)

“There aren’t a lot of movies for people our age, and I was never terribly enamored of making movies — mainly because I like to work on stage. I didn’t make a lot of movies. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing now: I like to direct and act occasionally on stage. Once in a while, I do television. It’s more likely that somebody my age can find a part in television.” – June 2000 

Best known for her Oscar-winning role in The Three Faces of Eve (1957) and for being the long-time spouse of legend Paul Newman, Woodward has enjoyed a long and esteemed career.  Highlights include The Long Hot Summer (1958), Rachel, Rachel (1968), Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973), the TV movie Sybil (1975), and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990).

 

 

Tippi Hedren portraitTippi Hedren (born January 19, 1930 – age 84)

[on Alfred Hitchcock] “To be the object of somebody’s obsession is a really awful feeling when you can’t return it.” 

Poor Tippi Hedren: when she did not reciprocate svengali Alfred Hitchcock’s amorous feelings, he evidently ruined her career.  She rose quickly to stardom in his 1963 hit The Birds.  Under contract to the powerful director, he cast her in Marnie (1964).  Other film roles over the years have included a small part in Charlie Chaplin’s last film The Countess from Hong Kong (1967), Citizen Ruth (1996), and I Heart Huckabees (2004). Her great passion is the Shambala wildlife preserve, which rescues wild animals, which has as beautiful website: shambala.org.

 

 

Jane Powell color portraitJane Powell (born April 1, 1929, age 84)

“I didn’t quit movies. They quit me.” 

Best known as an MGM ingenue in films like Royal Wedding, A Date With Judy, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  When film work slowed in the late-1950s, Powell turned to TV and stage work.  Her last major TV role was on—you guessed it—Law and Order.  She lives with her fifth husband, former child star Dickie Moore in New York and Connecticut. I had the pleasure of meeting Miss Powell at Liza Minnelli’s bridal shower and she was just lovely.  This factoid is completely irrelevant here but so random and fun to say that I couldn’t resist.

 

 

  Ann Blyth portraitAnn Blyth (born August 16, 1928 – age 85)

“As an actress, I have always believed that the truer challenge, the deeper obligation, begins after the camera stops. My role as a woman in my community and in my home has always overshadowed the excitement of any part I have ever played on stage or screen.”

Though best known for her Oscar-nominated portrayal of Veda Pierce, one of the most ungrateful children in film history in the 1945 noir classic Mildred Pierce, Ann Blyth has worked steadily since the early 1940s in film, TV, and on stage.  Her last TV appearance was in a 1985 episode of Murder, She Wrote.  She is the mother of five and, apparently, considered one of the best-known residents of L.A. suburb Toluca Lake.

 

 

Sidney PoitierSidney Poitier (born February 20, 1927 – age 86)

“I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.” 

Sidney Poitier is both an actor of rare skill and presence and an enduring symbol of the civil rights movement.  It is simply not possible to separate the man’s work from what it represents not only to generations of black actors, but to generations of black filmgoers, who saw in his work a reflection of themselves.  Poitier was the first African American man to win the Oscar for best actor for Lillies of the Field (1963).  Other notable films include: In the Heat of the Night (1967); Sneakers (1992); Uptown Saturday Night (1974); Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967);  To Sir, With Love (1967); A Patch of Blue (1965); Porgy and Bess (1959); and A Raisin in the Sun (1961).  He has no website.

 

 

Jerry Lewis colorJerry Lewis (born March 16, 1926 – age 87)

[looking back on more than 60 years in show business] “I was about as discreet as a…bull taking a piss in your living room.”

For a long time Jerry Lewis was a comic legend.  Then he sort of became a joke, then he became a legend again.  This suggests that contrary to my Cher quote in the introductory paragraph, sometimes the best career move is to keep living.  As one half of the Martin and Lewis comedy team with Dean Martin, Lewis owned supper clubs in the early-1950s.  He went on to have a spectacular film career on both sides of the camera.   He is a spectacular egotist and phenomenal showman.  His reunion with Dean Martin on his Muscular Dystrophy Telethon made me teary even though I was far too young to understand why.  If you need any proof about how great Jerry Lewis is, check out his brilliant performance in Martin Scorcese’s The King of Comedy (1982).  He has a decent website: jerrylewiscomedy.com

 

Angela Lansbury colorAngela Lansbury (born October 16, 1925 – age 88)  

[on the desire to perform until the very end] “My son said to me ‘Mom, honestly, the best thing for you would be to keep working and just go out on stage’ and I think that’s a good thing to aim for.”

Angela Lansbury is truly a show business legend, having distinguished herself in film, TV, and on stage in one of the most impressive careers in entertainment history.  She has won five Tonys, six Golden Globe awards, and has been nominated for three Oscars and an unbelievable 18 Emmy awards (though she has never won).  She was given an honorary Oscar in 2013 commemorating 70 years of film work. Though best known today as the star of Murder, She Wrote, one of the most successful TV shows of all-time, Miss Lansbury was a Hollywood legend long before she ever played Jessica Fletcher.  Notable films include Gaslight (1944, Oscar nomination), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945, Oscar nomination), State of the Union (1948), The Manchurian Candidate (1962, Oscar nomination), Death on the Nile (1978), and Beauty and the Beast (1991). In 2014 Queen Elizabeth II appointed Miss Lansbury a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.  I was rather surprised that she doesn’t appear to have a website.

 

  Eva Marie SaintEva Marie Saint (born July 4, 1924 – age 89)  

“My mom lived to be 91 and her advice was, ‘Honey, just keep moving.’”

The still-lovely Eva Marie Saint will always be best known for her film debut in Elia Kazan’a On The Waterfront (1954), a role that won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  Other notable films include Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), Raintree County (1957), Superman Returns (2006), and Winter’s Tale (2013).   One of my favorite performances is in Irvin Kershner’s Loving (1970) opposite George Segal. Miss Saint has also worked extensively on TV over the years earning many Emmy nominations and one win, for the 1990 TV movie People Like Us.  If her personal life is any indication, Eva Marie Saint is a model of normalcy, having been married to the same man since 1951.  She is a mother and grandmother.

 

Rhonda Fleming portraitRhonda Fleming (born August 10, 1923 – age 90)

“Mine was a very rare and wonderful Cinderella story, a complete Cinderella story that could have only happened during the studio system era.” 

I first learned who Rhonda Fleming was in the late-1980s when Sire Records president Seymour Stein took to calling me “Rhonda Fleming” because of my long red hair.  Some research led to discover my namesake.  Lovely starlet Rhonda Fleming has appeared in over 40 films since making her debut in a small part in the 1943 feature In Old Oklahoma.  Notable film performances include Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945), and a trio of film noir classics, The Spiral Staircase (1946, directed by Robert Siodmak), Out of the Past (1947, directed by Jacques Tourneur), and While the City Sleeps (1956, directed by Fritz Lang).   She has co-starred with superstars like Bing Crosby, Robert Mitchum, Dana Andrews, Burt Lancaster, and Vincent Price. In the 1950s and 1960s, Miss Fleming appeared regularly on TV.  She is on her sixth marriage and maintains a perfectly lovely website: rhondafleming.com

 

Doris Day featuredDoris Day (born April 3, 1922, age 91)

“The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you’ll grow out of it.”

Doris Day was the Cameron Diaz or Drew Barrymore of the 1950s and 1960s as well as being the Katy Perry of her era.  Equally at home in a recording studio or on a soundstage, Miss Day certainly enjoyed one of the biggest careers of the middle 20th century: she ranked the biggest box office star for four years in the early 1960s and was ranked the number one female vocalist in the country by Billboard magazine nine times in ten years (1949-1958).  The 1950s belonged to Doris Day. She basically invented the contemporary romantic comedy in films like Pillow Talk (1959), Lover, Come Back (1961), and Send Me No Flowers (1964, all with Rock Hudson and Tony Randall).  She starred with Cary Grant in That Touch of Mink (1962) and James Garner in Move Over Darling and The Thrill of it All (both 1963). As sexual mores changed in the middle part of the decade Day’s career began to sputter, though she fulfilled her commitment to a TV show, the Doris Day Show, which ran from 1968-1973.   She lives in Carmel, California with a harem of pets.  Her charity is the Doris Day Animal League has a website: www.ddal.org.  There are also many tribute sites in her honor, the nicest of which is: www.dorisday.net

 

Mickey Rooney color portraitMickey Rooney (born September 23, 1920 – age 93) Mickey Rooney died April 6, 2014.  R.I.P.

“I was a thirteen-year-old boy for thirty years.”

Mickey Rooney was the top box office star of 1939, 1940, and 1941 and the 12th biggest star of the 1930s, according to the Quigley ranking.  He is one of the last surviving stars who began in the silent era.  One of the rare child stars who transitioned well to adult roles, Rooney will as the adolescent partner of Judy Garland in a phenomenally successful string of films which included Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), Babes in Arms (1939), Babes on Broadway (1941), and Girl Crazy (1943).  Other notable films include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935),  Reckless (1935),  Captain Courageous (1937),  Boys Town (1938),  The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955),  Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961),  It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Pete’s Dragon (1977),  The Black Stallion (1978), and The Muppets (2011). Though certainly irascible—even ill-tempered—it’s hard not admire Rooney’s astonishing durability and the staggering length of his career he made his first short subject in 1926!  He has been married 8 times.  He has a website: mickeyrooney.com 

Here is a terrific video tribute I found  from Richard Glazier:

 

Maureen O'Hara greenMaureen O’Hara (born August 17, 1920 – age 93)

I’m very lucky I really had some wonderful movies.”

The stunning Irish blonde born Maureen FitzSimons has been active in front of the camera since 1938.  Notable films include The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939),  A Bill of Divorcement (1940),  How Green Was My Valley (1941),  Miracle on 34th Street (1947),  Rio Grande (1950),  The Quiet Man (1952),  Our Man in Havana (1959),  The Parent Trap (1961), and Only the Lonely (1991). She lives in Arizona and in Glengariff, County Cork, Ireland.

 

 

  Kirk Douglas youngKirk Douglas (born December 9, 1916 – age 97)

“No matter how bad things are, they can always be worse. So what if my stroke left me with a speech impediment? Moses had one, and he did all right.”

The great Kirk Douglas is one of the most enduring leading men in Hollywood  history.  He made his film debut in 1946 with Barbara Stanwyck in The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers.  Other notable films include Out of the Past (1947), A Letter to Three Wives (1949),  Young Man with a Horn (1950),  Ace in the Hole (1951),  The Bad and the Beautiful (1952, Oscar nomination),  Lust for Life (1956, Oscar nomination),  Seven Days in May (1964),  The Fury (1978), and Tough Guys (1986). He received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1996, the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1991, and the Kennedy Center Honor in 1994.  He has also written 11 books, including The Ragman’s Son (1988), and his most recent, I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist (2012).

 

Zsa Zsa Gabor jewelryZsa Zsa Gabor (born February 6, 1917 – age 97)  

“How many husbands have I had? You mean apart from my own?”

Though she ostensibly has some actual acting credentials, Miss Gabor has always struck me as someone who has been famous for being famous or, in other words, decades ahead of her time.   Some research did reveal that the Hungarian beauty emigrated to the US in 1941 and has worked with some important directors over the years, like Vincente Minnelli, John Huston, and Mervyn LeRoy.  But I ask you what is having worked with Oscar winners like George Sidney against being married 9 times? Gabor appeared on TV incessantly frequently playing herself or some version thereof.  I enjoyed her many, many appearances on game shows and talk shows as a kid.  Tabloids have documented her poor health in the last few years.  She lives in Bel Air in Elvis Presley’s old house with Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt who judging by the tone and amount of bizarre press he has managed to generate, might be crazy.

 

  Olivia De Havilland colorOlivia De Havilland, (born July 1, 1916 – age 97)

“Famous people feel that they must perpetually be on the crest of the wave, not realising that it is against all the rules of life. You can’t be on top all the time, it isn’t natural.”

Two-time Academy Award winner Olivia DeHavilland will always be remembered for her role as Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939).  Other famous roles include The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Hold Back the Dawn (1941), To Each His Own (1946 – Academy Award, Best Actress), The Snake Pit (1948, Oscar nomination), The Heiress (1949, Academy Award, Best Actress), Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Airport ’77 (1977). Always a beacon of goodness and warmth, Miss DeHavilland simply radiates kindness and has made her such an enduring star.  She has no website.

 

Luise Rainer colorLuise Rainer (born January 12, 1910, age 104)

“The Oscar is not a curse. The real curse is that once you have an Oscar they think you can do anything.”

The champion long liver in the Stargayzing listicle is the winsome, wonderful Luise Rainer.  Best remembered today as the “Viennese Teardrop” who won two back-to-back Oscars in the 1930s—for The Great Ziegfield (1936) and The Good Earth (1937)—and then summarily left Hollywood, disillusioned with the assembly line mentality of the studio system, among other things.  She is regarded today as, perhaps, the ultimate example of someone who was hurt by her brief flash of success; a victim of the “Oscar curse.” The Austrian actress is distinguished for several interesting Oscar-related accomplishments: she was the first actor to win multiple awards; she was the first woman to win two Oscars and the first person to win them consecutively.  Finally, at 104, she is the oldest living Academy Award winner.  She currently lives in England.

 

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