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Archive for the ‘Classic movies’ Category

Happy Birthday, Mickey Rooney!

“I was a 14-year-old boy for 30 years,” Mickey Rooney once jokingly observed of his show business career, which spanned stage, screen, television and radio. He had one of the longest runs in entertainment history—active from the silent era up until the time of his death (a period of nine decades).  Diminutive in stature but […]

Happy Birthday, Penny Singleton!

She had stiff competition for the film role that would make her a household name: actresses Gloria Blondell and Una Merkel had both been approached to breathe life into Blondie, the titular heroine of Murat Bernard “Chic” Young’s popular comic strip, on the silver screen.  When a third actress, Shirley Deane, fell ill before she could play the […]

Happy Birthday, Alan Ladd!

Old-time radio legend Frank Nelson (The Jack Benny Program) shared the following anecdote in Leonard Maltin’s The Great American Broadcast: “I had a friend who did just bits with me in radio shows, and one day he said, ‘Frank, I have a chance to do some [motion] pictures, what do you think I ought to do?  Do you think […]

Happy Birthday, Van Johnson!

During the 1940s, the man born Charles Van Dell Johnson in Newport, Rhode Island on this date in 1916 was known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “boy next door.”  Van Johnson’s affable charm and golden-boy looks (red hair and freckled face—Van used to joke he “got paid by the freckle”) made him the ideal actor to portray any […]

Happy Birthday, Mae West!

It’s a textbook example of how a mediocre movie can be redeemed by the appearance of a personality whose mere presence dominates the motion picture screen.  In an otherwise dreary 1932 film entitled Night After Night (starring George Raft and Constance Cummings), a character named Maudie Triplett rings the doorbell of the speakeasy run by Joe Anton […]

Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock!

It was a story that he frequently told in interviews: when Sir Alfred Hitchcock was only five years old, his father (who referred to his son as a “little lamb without a spot”) sent him to the local police station with a note for the constable.  The policeman read the note and ushered young Alfred […]

Happy Birthday, Raymond Chandler!

For all his success in the literary world, and then later in Hollywood, author Raymond Thornton Chandler was a lonely man.  He lived the life of a recluse; he left no surviving wife or children upon his passing in 1959, and had himself been an only child when he entered this world on this date in […]

Happy Birthday, Verna Felton!

It’s a bit of a stretch, but try to imagine Verna Felton—the actress who appeared on Jack Benny’s radio/TV show as Dennis Day’s mother and later as “Hilda Crocker” on December Bride—as “Baby Felton.”  That’s the handle Verna went by in her stage days. She began her show business career as a child performer in vaudeville, and in […]