Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on November 5, 1913 in Darjeeling, India to Ernest Hartley, a British Officer in the Indian Cavalry and Gertude Robinson Yackje.

Vivien made her first stage appearance at the age of three, reciting "Little Bo Beep" for her mother's amateur theatre group.

Vivien was sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in England where she became best friends with future actress Maureen O'Sullivan. At the age of six and a half, Vivian told Maureen she desired to become a great actress.

Vivien later enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

In late 1931, she met Herbert Leigh Holman, a barrister 13 years her senior. Despite his disapproval of "theatrical people" they were married on December 20, 1932. Upon their marriage, she terminated her studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Bored with domestic life and upon her friends sugesstion, Vivien auditioned for a part in the film Things are Looking Up (1935). She won the part and made her film debut. Vivien hired an agent, John Gliddon.

John Gliddon believed that the name Vivian Holman was not suitable for an actress and suggested "April Morn" which she hated. Vivien decided on Vivien Leigh, using her husband's middle name as her last name.

From 1935 to 1939, Vivien Leigh appeared in such movies as Gentlemen's Agreement (1935) and A Yank at Oxford (1938). She also frequently appeared on the London Stage in such productions as The Green Sash, Henry VIII, THe Mask of Virtue and Hamlet.

In 1939, Vivien Leigh would become one of the most popular actresses in the world, when she was cast to play Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Vivien won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

During the 1940s, Vivien Leigh alternated her time between the silver screen at the stage. Her movies would include Waterloo Bridge (1940), Ceasar and Cleopatra (1945) and Anna Karenina (1948). Her stage work would include Romeo and Juliet (Broadway), The Doctor's Dilemna, The Skin of Our Teeth, Richard III, and A Street Car Named Desire.

In 1951, Vivien Leigh was cast to play Blanche DuBois, a role she originated on stage, in the movie version of A Street Car Named Desire. Vivian Leigh would earn her second Academy Award for Best Actress.

During the 1950s, Vivian Leigh spent her time on the stage. She appeared in such productions as Caesar and Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, and Duel of Angels.

In 1963, Vivien Leigh won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Tovarich.

Vivien Leigh's final silver screen performance was in Ship of Fools (1965).

After Vivian's divorce from her first husband, she married Laurence Olivier, they divorced after 20 years of marriage.

Vivien Leigh sufferd from manic depression. Vivien needed shock therapy to control her manic depression. Sometimes she would go on stage just hours after her treatments, without missing a beat in her performance.

Vivien Leigh was the first British actress to win an Academy Award.

Her favorite role was that of Myra Lester, in Waterloo Bridge (1940).

A lover of cats, especially Siamese, she frequently had 10 kitties at one time. When she passed away her Siamese, Poo Jones, was with her.

Vivien Leigh passed away July 7, 1967 of chronic pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 53.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Burt Lancaster

Burt Lancaster was born Burton Stephen Lancaster on November 2, 1913 in New York City, the son of Elizabeth Roberts and James Henry Lancaster, who was a postman.

Burt Lancaster grew up in East Harlem and spent much of his time on the streets, where he developed great interest and skill in gymnastics. Later he performed as a circus acrobat, until an injury forced him to give up the profession.

During World War II, Lancaster joined the United States Army and there he developed an interest in acting performing with the USO.

After the war, he auditioned for the Broadway play A Sound of Hunting and won the part. Later he would appear on Broadway in Separate Tables. In 1946, he won the Theatre World Award.

Lancaster's film debut was in The Killers (1946). His next picture was Brute Force (1947). Roles would follow in Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Criss Cross (1949), Mister 880 (1950), Come Back, Little Sheba (1952), From Here to Eternity (1953), Vera Cruz (1954), The Kentuckian (1955), Trapeze (1956), The Rainmaker (1956), The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), Separate Tables (1958), The Unforgiven (1960), Elmer Gantry (1960), The Young Savages (1961), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Train (1964), Airport (1970), Atlantic City (1980), and Field of Dreams (1989).

A frequent co-star of Kirk Douglas, they appeared together in six films: Tough Guys (1986), Seven Days in May (1964), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), I Walk Alone (1948), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Devil's Disciple (1959).

Burt Lancaster was nominated for four Academy Awards for Best Actor for Atlantic City (1980), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), Elmer Gantry (1960) and From Here to Eternity (1953). He won the Academy Award for Elmer Gantry.

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Burt Lancaster's first television role was on Sesame Street in 1969, reciting the alphabet.

Known for his liberal political sympathies, he was one of several Hollywood movie stars, along with Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier, and Paul Newman who participated in Martin Luther King's March on Washington in August 1963.

His production company, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, produced the such films as Marty (1955) and The Catered Affair (1956).

Burt Lancaster is the father of writer Bill Lancaster who wrote the Bad News Bears (1976). The Bad News Bears was based on Bill's own experiences being coached by his father and the coach played by Walter Matthau was based on Burt Lancaster, who was known for his grumpiness.

Burt Lancaster died on October 20, 1994 of a heart attack.

Burt Lancaster will always be remembered for his smile, the way he laughed and the unforgettable characters he played.