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Archive for the ‘Classic movies’ Category

Happy Birthday, Lionel Stander!

Lionel Stander, the character actor best remembered by fans as chief-cook-and-bottle-washer Max on the TV detective drama Hart to Hart, also had a lengthy radio career—notably playing “stooge” to Fred Allen on The Hour of Smiles and Town Hall Tonight in the 1930s.  Stander—born in The Bronx on this date in 1908—used his trademark gravelly voice and skill with dialects […]

“…the stars’ own theatre…”

The glamour of the motion picture industry often disguised an uncomfortable truth—that it was an enterprise that rarely had any further use for those movie colony individuals who had fallen on hard times.  To lend a helping hand to their former colleagues, luminaries like Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith banded together in 1921 to create the Motion Picture Relief […]

The Robin Hood of Modern Crime

His creator described him as “a buccaneer in the suits of Savile Row, amused, cool, debonair, with hell-for-leather blue eyes and a saintly smile.”  That creator was author Leslie Charteris, and the “buccaneer” in question was Simon Templar—a roguish ex-thief who had gone straight and now made it his mission to relieve the “ungodly” (those […]

Happy Birthday, Humphrey Bogart!

“The young man who embodies the sprig is what is usually and mercifully described as inadequate,” noted legendary critic Alexander Woollcott of an actor’s second appearance on Broadway in 1922 in a play entitled Swifty.  Woollcott (who would eventually go on to radio fame as The Town Crier over CBS Radio in the 1930s) had a reputation for […]

Happy Birthday, Jane Morgan!

She possessed one of the most distinctive voices heard over the radio airwaves—but you might be surprised to learn that the woman born Jennie Morgan on this date in 1880 had a rather highbrow show business career during her early years of performing.  Jane Morgan made her name as a violinist and classical singer on stage and […]

Happy Birthday, Lillian Randolph!

When actress-singer Lillian Randolph—born on this date in 1898—got word of auditions for The Great Gildersleeve, she was working on a film soundtrack with a vocal group at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Lillian stole away from the session on her lunch break and sped off to the NBC studios. Upon entering the building she tripped and literally slid up to the microphone.  […]

Happy Birthday, Luis Van Rooten!

Actor Luis Van Rooten received a unique compliment on his thespic talents after his performance as a psychiatrist on ABC’s Exploring the Unknown in 1946.  On the broadcast, Van Rooten’s character was treating an amnesia victim using hypnosis…and shortly after the program concluded, a woman telephoned him with a request. Her husband had been listening so intently to Luis’ performance that he had fallen into […]

Happy Birthday, Judy Canova!

There’s a reason why Judy Canova was frequently referred to as “The Ozark Nightingale” and “The Jenny Lind of the Ozarks.”  Judy was blessed with an incredible singing voice, and at one point in her professional career she had serious aspirations to become an opera singer.  Fate had other plans for Ms. Canova, however. The woman born […]