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Archive for the ‘Classic movies’ Category

Happy Birthday, Jay Novello!

Radio actors learned practically from their introduction to the medium that their fortunes were set if their talents included a mastery of dialects.  Take Jay Novello, who was born in Chicago on this date in 1904.  Because he was the child of Italian immigrants, Novello was already fluent in that tongue before he took up English […]

Happy Birthday, Charles Farrell!

Unless you’re like me and have turned all of your extracurricular activity hours over to watching endless episodes of TV reruns, the name of actor Charles Farrell might not be an immediately familiar one.  Fellow couch potatoes know him as father to wacky Gale Storm on the situation comedy My Little Margie, while movie audiences from the Jazz Age/Depression Era […]

“The world doesn’t make any heroes outside of your stories.”

A collaboration between author Graham Greene (his only original screenplay), producer David O. Selznick, and movie director Carol Reed resulted in a true cinematic masterpiece: 1949’s The Third Man.  The film tells the tale of American pulp Westerns writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), who is summoned to postwar Vienna at the behest of his old chum […]

Happy Birthday, Barbara Eiler!

You’re familiar with the old cliché: a young girl leaves her hometown and heads for Hollywood, determined to become an actress…nay, not just an actress—a star!  All that needs to be done is to hang around a drugstore’s soda fountain drinking chocolate malteds until some talent scout wanders in, notices our future star at the counter, and […]

Happy Birthday, James Cagney!

When we think of the man that Orson Welles once described as “maybe the greatest actor who ever appeared in front of a camera” it’s usually as the motion picture industry’s consummate tough guy, with memorable appearances in such iconic films as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and White Heat (1949). James Cagney, however, was a performer of incredible versatility: he […]

“Somewhere along the line a murderer makes a mistake—it’s my job to find that mistake.”

“Philo Vance/Needs a kick in the pance” Ogden Nash once rhymed in a memorable couplet.  Nash’s editorial comment was addressing the one-time popularity of author S.S. Van Dine’s famed sleuth. After generating quite a following with the 1926 publication of the first Vance novel, The Benson Murder Case,  the character soon took a back seat to the hard-boiled detective fiction of the 1930s. (Raymond Chandler purportedly called Philo […]

Happy Birthday, Francis “Dink” Trout!

In the Golden Age of Radio, actors were often called upon to play “meek” individuals—or whatever nickname you prefer: wimp, nebbish, milquetoast, etc.  The gold standard for these portrayals might be Bill Thompson, who even utilized “wimp” in the name of his famous creation “Wallace Wimple.”  But the go-to thespian continually called upon to play any number […]

Happy Birthday, Don Diamond!

The actor born Donald Alan Diamond in Brooklyn, NY on this date in 1921 was in real life a rather nondescript individual…but that is precisely the quality you want when you’ve decided you want to be a character actor.  Diamond’s knack for dialects—Spanish ones in particular—kept him busy in radio during the 1940s, and with the […]