Monday, March 15, 2010

Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis is an American comedian, actor, film producer, writer, film director and singer.

Jerry Lewis was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey. Jerry Lewis parents were Daniel Levitch (stage name of Danny Lewis), a Master of Ceremonies and vaudeville entertainer and Rachel Brodsky, a piano player.

When Jerry Lewis was five years old, he made his debut in New York's Borscht Circuit singing "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" By the time he was fifteen, he had perfected a comic routine "Record Act" in which he exaggeratedly mimed the lyrics to songs on a phonograph.

In 1946, Jerry Lewis teamed with Dean Martin. Dean Martin served as straight man to Jerry Lewis's zany antics in the Martin and Lewis comedy team. They began in popular nightclubs, then had their own radio program, made numerous television appearances and then became popular in films.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made 17 films together beginning with My Friend Irma (1949). A few of their films include At War with the Army (1950), Sailor Beware (1952), Jumping Jacks (1952), Scared Stiff (1953), Money From Home (1953), and Hollywood or Bust (1956).

After Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy team ended in 1956, Jerry Lewis went on to a successful solo career.

Jerry Lewis starred in films such as Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958), The Bellboy (1960), The Ladies Man (1961), It's Only Money (1962), The Nutty Professor (1963), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), Three on a Couch (1966), Hook, Line, & Sinker (1969), Which Way to the Front? (1970), Cracking Up (1983) and Funny Bones (1995).

In 1995, Jerry Lewis won the Theatre World Special Award for his performance in the Broadway musical Damn Yankees.

Jerry Lewis made his directoral debutin How to Smuggle a Hernia Across the Border (1949). Jerry Lewis has also directed films such as The Ladies Man (1961), The Nutty Professor (1963), The Family Jewels (1965), The Big Mouth (1967), and The Day the Clown Cried (1972).

Jerry Lewis is also a successful writer. He has written screenplays for How to Smuggle a Hernia Across the Border (1949), The Bellboy (1960), The Nutty Professor (1963), The Patsy (1964) and Hardly Working (1980).

As a producer, Jerry Lewis produced such classic films as The Delicate Delinquent (1957), The Bellboy (1960), Three on a Couch (1966), and The Nutty Professor (1996).

Jerry Lewis has appeared on episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mad About You, Wiseguy, The Red Skelton Show and Ben Casey.

In 1950, Jerry Lewis became the national chairman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), a position he still holds today. Beginning in 1966, Jerry Lewis has hosted the nationwide telethon it holds on Labor Day each year.

In 1997, Jerry Lewis was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In 2009, Jerry Lewis received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 81st Academy Awards for his work with MDA.

Jerry Lewis has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award, American Comedy Awards
(1997), Governors Award Primetime Emmy Awards (2005) and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures and television.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peter Graves

Peter Graves was born Peter Aurness on March 18, 1926 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The son of Ruth Duesler, a journalist and Rolf Cirkler Aurness, a business man. Peter Graves was the younger brother of actor James Arness (Gunsmoke).

Peter Graves appeared in more than seventy films, TV series and TV movies. Peter Graves' film debut was in Winning Your Wings (1942).

In 1953, Peter Graves played Price, a hot-shot German spy placed among allied POWs in the movie Stalag 17.

In 1955, Peter Graves was cast as Jim Newton in the televison show Fury (1955-1960).

In 1955, Peter Graves played Ben Harper, the father on the run from the law in the film Night of the Hunter.

In 1967, Peter Graves was hired to replace Steven Hill as the lead actor on Mission: Impossible. Peter Graves played Jim Phelps, the sometimes gruff leader of the Impossible Missions Force or IMF, for the remaining six seasons of the series.

He won a Golden Globe Award in 1971 for his role as Jim Phelps in the series Mission: Impossible

Peter Graves played Captain Clarence Oveur in the comedies Airplane! (1980) and Airplane II: The Sequel (1982).

Peter Graves played Colonel John Camden on the WB Network TV series 7th Heaven (1997 - 2007).

Peter Graves also appeared in films such as Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), The Long Gray Line (1955), Beginning of the End (1957), A Rage to Live (1965), The Ballad of Josie (1967), The Five Man Army (1969), The Guns and the Fury (1981), Number One with a Bullet (1987), Addams Family Values (1993) and Men in Black II (2002).

Peter Graves also appeared in television episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Cold Case, Diagnosis Murder, Burke's Law, The Golden Girls, The Love Boat, Murder She Wrote, Fantasy Island, and Simon & Simon.

In 1997, Peter Graves was an Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series
for: Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow.

Peter Graves married Joan Endress on December 16, 1950, they were married 59 years until his death.

Peter Graves died of natural causes on March 14, 2010 at the age of 83.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow was born Harlean Harlow Carpenter on March 3, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. She was the daughter of Mont Clair Carpenter, a dentist and Jean Poe Harlow.

In 1927, at the age of 16, she ran away from home to marry a young businessman named Charles McGrew, who was 23. The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1928, settling into a home in Beverly Hills, where the future Jean Harlow thrived as a wealthy socialite.

One day, Jean Harlow befiended Rosalie Roy, a young aspiring actress. Rosalie aksed Jean to drive her to Fox Studios for an appointment. While Jean was sitting in the car, she was noticed by Fox studio executives. Approached by the executives, Jean stated she was not interested, but was given dictated letters of introduction to Central Casting.

Rosalie Roy made Jean a bet that she did not have the nerve to go back and audition for roles. Unwilling to lose a wager and pressed by her mother, Jean drove to Central Casting and signed in under her mother's maiden name, Jean Harlow.

In 1928, Jean Harlow appeared in her first film, Honor Bound as an uncredited extra. Her salary was $7 a day. Uncredited roles followed in Moran of the Marines (1928), Chasing Husbands (1928), Fugitives (1929), The Unkissed Man (1929), Double Whoopee (1929) and Masquerade (1929).

In 1929, Jean Harlow and her husband Chuck McGrew separated and divorced.

She continued to work as an extra in several movies including The Saturday Night Kid (1929), The Love Parade (1929), Weak But Willing (1929) and New York Nights (1929).

In 1930, Jean Harlow had her big break when she was cast as Helen in Hell's Angels.

The role in Hell's Angels came by chance. During filming of Weak But Willing (1929) she was spotted by James Hall, an actor filming Hell's Angels for Howard Hughes. Hughes was re-shooting the film from silent into sound and needed a new actress because the original actress had a Norwegian accent that proved undesirable for a talkie. Jean Harlow made a test and got the part.

During filming of Hell's Angels, Jean Harlow met her second husband MGM executive Paul Bern.

Hell's Angels made Jean Harlow an international star and a sensation with audiences, but critics were less than enthusiastic about her.

Jean Harlow next appeared in The Secret Six (1931) with Clark Gable. She would make five more pictures with Clark Gable: Red Dust (1932), Hold Your Man (1933), China Seas (1935), Wife vs. Secretary (1936), and Saratoga (1937).

In 1931, Jean Harlow appeared in The Public Enemy opposite James Cagney.

Her next film was Platinum Blonde (1931) with Loretta Young. Howard Hughes convinced the producers of Platinum Blonde to rename it from its original title of Gallagher in order to promote Jean Harlow's image, for whom the tag had just been invented by Hughes's publicity director. Many of Jean Harlow's female fans were dyeing their hair platinum to match hers.

Roles soon followed in Three Wise Girls (1932), Red-Headed Woman (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Bombshell (1933), Riffraff (1936), Suzy (1936), and Libeled Lady (1936).

During the filming of Red Dust, Jean Harlow's second husband, MGM producer Paul Bern, was found dead at their home, creating a scandal. Initially, the Hollywood community whispered that Harlow had killed Bern herself, though this was just rumor, and Bern's death was officially ruled a suicide.

After Paul Bern's death, Jean Harlow began an indiscreet affair with boxer Max Baer (father of Max Baer Jr, Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies). Although Max Baer was separated from his wife, Dorothy Dunbar, at the time of their affair, Dunbar threatened divorce proceedings, naming Jean Harlow as a correspondent for "alienation of affection", a legal term for adultery.

MGM defused the situation by arranging a marriage between Jean Harlow and cinematographer Harold Rosson. Still feeling the aftershocks of Bern's mysterious death, the studio didn't want another Harlow scandal on its hands. Rosson and Harlow were friends, and Rosson went along with the plan. They quietly divorced seven months later.

In 1935, Jean Harlow was cast opposite William Powell in Reckless. The two clicked on screen and off screen. They fell in love and became engaged.

In the spring of 1937, Harlow began filming Saratoga with Clark Gable. On May 29, 1937, Harlow collapsed on set and the director sent her home to rest.

What happened thereafter is essentially still a mystery. It is widely believed that Jean Harlow spent an entire week of vomiting in bed while her mother, a Christian Scientist, refused to call a doctor. Another account claims that Jean Harlow resisted hospitalization and a surgical procedure. On June 3, 1937, her mother told the press that Jean Harlow was "better".

On June 6, 1937, under orders from Louis B. Mayer and William Powell, a gravely ill Jean Harlow was rushed to Los Angeles' Good Samaritan Hospital. Jean Harlow died the following morning at 11:37 a.m. of uremic poisoning at age 26.

By the mid-1930s, Jean Harlow was one of the biggest stars in America and the foremost female star at MGM. Jean Harlow has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

On the day Hollywood canine superstar Rin Tin Tin died at age of 16, Jean Harlow, who lived across the street from his master, Lee Duncan, went over to cradle the dog's head in her lap as the famous canine died.