Category Archives: Hollywood

Olivia de Havilland

 Olivia Mary de Havilland (born July 1, 1916; age 101) is a retired American actress whose career spanned from 1935 to 1988. She appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading movie stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood. She is best known for her early screen performances in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Gone with the Wind (1939), and her later award-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946), The Snake Pit (1948), and The Heiress (1949).

Born in Tokyo to British parents, de Havilland and her younger sister Joan moved to California in 1919. They were brought up by their mother Lilian, a former stage actress who taught them dramatic art, music, and elocution. De Havilland made her acting debut in amateur theatre in Alice in Wonderland. Later, she appeared in a local production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which led to her playing Hermia in Max Reinhardt’s stage production of the same play and a movie contract with Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland made her screen debut in Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1935. She began her career playing demure ingénues opposite popular leading men, including Errol Flynn, with whom she made nine films. They became one of Hollywood’s most popular romantic on-screen pairings. She achieved her initial popularity in romantic comedy films, such as The Great Garrick (1937), and in Westerns, such as Dodge City (1939). Her natural beauty and refined acting style made her particularly effective in historical period dramas, such as Anthony Adverse (1936), and romantic dramas, such as Hold Back the Dawn (1941). In her later career, she was most successful in drama films, such as Light in the Piazza (1962), and unglamorous roles in psychological dramas including Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).

In addition to her film career, de Havilland continued her work in the theatre, appearing three times on Broadway, in Romeo and Juliet (1951), Candida (1952), and A Gift of Time (1962). She also worked in television, appearing in the successful miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations (1979), and television feature films, such as Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. During her film career, de Havilland won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup. For her contributions to the motion picture industry, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her lifetime contribution to the arts, she received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush, and was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

After romantic relationships with Howard Hughes, James Stewart, and John Huston, de Havilland married author Marcus Goodrich, with whom she had a son, Benjamin. Following her divorce from Goodrich in 1953, she moved to Paris and married Pierre Galante, an executive editor for the French journal Paris Match, with whom she had a daughter, Gisèle. In 1962, she published Every Frenchman Has One, an account of her life in France. De Havilland and Joan Fontaine are the only siblings to have won Academy Awards in a lead acting category. A lifelong rivalry between the two actresses resulted in an estrangement that lasted over three decades. She has lived in Paris since 1956, and celebrated her 100th birthday on July 1, 2016.

 

Early life

De Havilland’s father, Walter de Havilland (1872 – 1968), served as an English professor at the Imperial University in Tokyo before becoming a patent attorney. Her mother, Lilian Fontaine (née Ruse; 1886 – 1975), was educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and became a stage actress. Lilian also sang with the Master of the King’s Music, Sir Walter Parratt, and toured England with the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Olivia’s paternal cousin was Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882–1965), an aircraft designer and founder of the de Havilland aircraft company.

Lilian and Walter met in Japan in 1913 and were married the following year; the marriage was not a happy one due in part to Walter’s infidelities. De Havilland was born on July 1, 1916. They moved into a large house in Tokyo, where Lilian gave informal singing recitals for the European colony. Olivia’s younger sister Joan (born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland)‍—‌later known as actress Joan Fontaine‍—‌was born fifteen months later, on October 22, 1917.

In February 1919, Lilian persuaded her husband to take the family back to England to a climate better suited for their ailing daughters. They sailed aboard the SS Siberia Maru to San Francisco, where the family stopped to treat Olivia’s tonsillitis. After Joan developed pneumonia, Lilian decided to remain with her daughters in California, where they eventually settled in the village of Saratoga, 50 miles (80 km) south of San Francisco. Her father abandoned the family and returned to his Japanese housekeeper, who eventually became his second wife.

Olivia was raised to appreciate the arts, beginning with ballet lessons at the age of four, and piano lessons a year later. She learned to read before she was six, and her mother, who occasionally taught dramatic art, music, and elocution, had her reciting passages from Shakespeare to strengthen her diction. During this period, her younger sister Joan first started calling her “Livvie,” a nickname that would last throughout her life. De Havilland entered Saratoga Grammar School in 1922 and did well in her studies. She enjoyed reading, writing poetry, and drawing, and once represented her grammar school in a county spelling bee, coming in second place. In 1923, Lilian had a new Tudor-style house built, where the family resided until the early 1930s.

In April 1925, after her divorce was finalized, Lilian married George Milan Fontaine, a department store manager for O. A. Hale & Co. in San Jose. Fontaine was a good provider and respectable businessman, but his strict parenting style generated animosity and later rebellion in both of his new stepdaughters.

De Havilland continued her education at Los Gatos High School, near her home in Saratoga. There, she excelled in oratory and field hockey and participated in school plays and the school drama club, eventually becoming the club’s secretary. With plans of becoming a schoolteacher of English and speech, she also attended Notre Dame Convent in Belmont. In 1933, de Havilland made her debut in amateur theatre in Alice in Wonderland, a production of the Saratoga Community Players based on the novel by Lewis Carroll. She also appeared in several school plays, including The Merchant of Venice and Hansel and Gretel. Her passion for drama eventually led to a confrontation with her stepfather, who forbade her from participating in further extracurricular activities. When he learned that she had won the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet in a school fund-raising production of Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, he gave her an ultimatum to either stay home or not return home. Not wanting to let her school and classmates down, she left home forever, moving in with a family friend.

After graduating from high school in 1934, de Havilland was offered a scholarship to Mills College in Oakland to pursue her chosen career as an English teacher. She was also offered the role of Puck in the Saratoga Community Theater production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That summer, Austrian director Max Reinhardt came to California for a major new production of the same play to premiere at the Hollywood Bowl. After one of Reinhardt’s assistants saw her perform in Saratoga, he offered her the second understudy position for the role of Hermia. One week before the premiere, the understudy Jean Rouverol and lead actress Gloria Stuart both left the project, leaving 18-year-old de Havilland to play Hermia. Impressed with her performance, Reinhardt offered her the part in the four-week autumn tour that followed. During that tour, Reinhardt received word that he would direct the Warner Bros. film version of his stage production, and he offered her the film role of Hermia. With her mind still set on becoming a teacher, de Havilland initially wavered, but eventually Reinhardt and executive producer Henry Blanke persuaded her to sign a five-year contract with Warner Bros. on November 12, 1934, with a starting salary of $200 a week.

 

Career

Early films, 1935–37

De Havilland made her screen debut in Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was filmed at Warner Bros. studios from December 19, 1934, to March 9, 1935. During the production, de Havilland picked up film acting techniques from the film’s co-director William Dieterle, and camera techniques from cinematographer Hal Mohr, who was impressed with her questions about his work. By the end of filming, she had learned the effect of lighting and camera angles on how she appeared on screen and how to find her best lighting.

Following premieres in New York and Beverly Hills, the film was released on October 30, 1935. Despite the publicity campaign, the film generated little enthusiasm with audiences. While the critical response was mixed, de Havilland’s performance was praised by The San Francisco Examiner critic. In his review in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Winston Burdett noted that she “acts graciously and does greater justice to Shakespeare’s language than anyone else in the cast.” Two minor comedies followed, Alibi Ike with Joe E. Brown and The Irish in Us with James Cagney. In both films, she played the sweet and charming love interest‍—‌a role into which she would later become typecast. After the experience of being a Reinhardt player, de Havilland felt disappointed being assigned these routine heroine roles. In March, de Havilland and her mother moved into an apartment at the Chateau des Fleurs at 6626 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood.

In July 1935, Warner Bros. paired de Havilland with an unknown Australian actor named Errol Flynn in the swashbuckler film Captain Blood (1935). According to film historian Tony Thomas, both actors had “classic good looks, cultured speaking voices, and a sense of distant aristocracy about them.” Filmed between August 5 and October 29, 1935, Captain Blood gave de Havilland the opportunity to appear in her first costumed historical romance and adventure epic, a genre to which she was well suited, given her beauty and elegance. In the film, she played Arabella Bishop, the niece of a Jamaica plantation owner, who purchases at auction an Irish physician wrongly condemned to servitude. The on-screen chemistry between de Havilland and Flynn was evident from their first scenes together, where clashes between her character’s spirited hauteur and his character’s playful braggadocio did not mask their mutual attraction to each other. Unlike her two previous roles, Arabella is a feisty young woman who knows what she wants and is willing to fight for it. The bantering tone of their exchanges in the film‍—‌the healthy give-and-take and mutual respect‍—‌became the basis for their on-screen relationship in subsequent films. Captain Blood was released on December 28, 1935, and received good reviews and wide public appeal. De Havilland’s performance was singled out in The New York Times and Variety. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The popular success of the film, as well as the critical response to the on-screen couple, led to seven additional collaborations.

In 1936, de Havilland appeared in Mervyn LeRoy’s historical period drama Anthony Adverse with Fredric March. Based on the popular novel by Hervey Allen, the film follows the adventures of an orphan raised by a Scottish merchant, whose pursuit of fortune separates him from the innocent peasant girl he loves, marries, and eventually loses. De Havilland played the peasant girl Angela, who after being separated from her slave-trader husband, becomes opera star Mademoiselle Georges, the mistress of Napoleon. The film earned six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. It garnered de Havilland good exposure and the opportunity to portray a character as she develops over time. Howard Barnes of the New York Herald Tribune found her later scenes as Mademoiselle Georges “not very credible,” but Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times called her “a winsome Angela.” That same year, she was reunited with Flynn in Michael Curtiz’s period action film The Charge of the Light Brigade, set during the Crimean War which became a box office success. During the film’s production, de Havilland renegotiated her contract with Warner Bros. and signed a seven-year contract on April 14, 1936, with a starting weekly salary of five hundred dollars (equivalent to $8,600 in 2016). Toward the end of the year, 20-year-old de Havilland and her mother moved to 2337 Nella Vista Avenue in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles.

In 1937, de Havilland had her first top billing in Archie Mayo‘s comedy Call It a Day, about a middle-class English family struggling with the romantic effects of spring fever during the course of a single day. De Havilland played daughter Catherine Hilton, who falls in love with the handsome artist hired to paint her portrait. The film did not do well at the box office and did little to advance her career. She fared better in Mayo’s screwball comedy It’s Love I’m After with Leslie Howard and Bette Davis. De Havilland played Marcia West, a young debutante and theater fan enamored with a Barrymore-like matinee idol who decides to help the girl’s fiancé by pretending to be an abominable cad. The film received good reviews, with Variety calling it “fresh, clever, excellently directed and produced, and acted by an ensemble that clicks from start to finish,” and praising de Havilland.

That same year, de Havilland made two more period films, beginning with The Great Garrick, a fictional romantic comedy about the 18th-century English actor’s encounter with jealous players from the Comédie-Française who plot to embarrass him on his way to Paris. Wise to their prank, Garrick plays along with the ruse, determined to get the last laugh, even on a lovely young aristocrat, de Havilland’s Germaine Dupont, whom he mistakenly believes to be one of the players. With her refined demeanor and diction, de Havilland delivers a performance that is “lighthearted and thoroughly believable,” according to Judith Kass. Variety praised the film, calling it “a production of superlative workmanship.”

Despite the positive reviews, the film did not do as well at the box office. Her final film that year was Michael Curtiz‘s romantic drama Gold Is Where You Find It,[76] a film about the late 19th-century conflict in the Sacramento Valley between gold miners and their hydraulic equipment and farmers whose land is being flooded. De Havilland played the daughter of a farmer, Serena Ferris, who falls in love with the mining engineer responsible for the flooding. The film was released in February 1938, and was her first appearance in three-strip Technicolor.

 

Movie stardom, 1938–40

In September 1937, de Havilland was selected by Warner Bros. studio head Jack L. Warner to play Maid Marian opposite Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). The Technicolor production was filmed on location between September 26, 1937, and January 14, 1938, at Bidwell Park, Busch Gardens, and Lake Sherwood in California. Directed by William Keighley and Michael Curtiz, the film is about the legendary Robin Hood, a Saxon knight who opposes the corrupt and brutal Prince John and his Norman lords while good King Richard is away fighting in the Third Crusade. The king’s ward, Maid Marian, initially opposes Robin, but later supports him after learning his true intentions of helping his oppressed people. No mere bystander to events, Marian risks her life to save Robin by providing his men a plan for his escape. As defined by de Havilland, Marian is both a beautiful fairy-tale heroine and a spirited, intelligent woman “whose actions are governed by her mind as well as her heart,” according to author Judith Kass. The Adventures of Robin Hood was released on May 14, 1938, and was an immediate critical and commercial success, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. It went on to become one of the most popular adventure films of the Classical Hollywood era.

The popularity of The Adventures of Robin Hood brought de Havilland a new level of fame as a movie star, but this new status was not reflected in her subsequent film assignments at Warner Bros. Her next several roles were more routine and less challenging. In the romantic comedy Four’s a Crowd (1938), de Havilland played Lorri Dillingwell, a dizzy rich girl being romanced by a conniving public relations man looking to land an account with her eccentric grandfather.

In Ray Enright‘s romantic comedy Hard to Get (1938), she played another dizzy rich girl, Margaret Richards, whose desire to exact revenge on a gas station attendant leads to her own comeuppance. While de Havilland was certainly capable of playing these kinds of characters, her personality was better suited to stronger and more dramatic roles, according to Judith Kass. By this time, de Havilland had serious doubts about her career at Warner Bros.

Some film scholars consider 1939 to be the high point of the golden age of Classical Hollywood, producing classics in many genres, including the Western. Warner Bros. produced Michael Curtiz’s sprawling Technicolor adventure Dodge City, Flynn and de Havilland’s first Western film. Set during the American Civil War, the film is about a Texas trailblazer who witnesses the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City, Kansas, and becomes sheriff to clean up the town. De Havilland played Abbie Irving, whose initial hostility towards Flynn’s character Wade Hatton is transformed by events, and the two fall in love‍—‌by now a proven formula for their on-screen relationships. Curtiz’s action sequences, Sol Polito’s cinematography, Max Steiner’s expansive film score, and perhaps the “definitive saloon brawl in movie history” all contributed to the film’s success. Variety described the film as “a lusty western, packed with action.” For de Havilland, playing yet one more supporting love interest in a limited role, Dodge City represented the emotional low point of her career to that point. She later said, “I was in such a depressed state that I could hardly remember my lines.”

In a letter to a colleague dated November 18, 1938, film producer David O. Selznick wrote, “I would give anything if we had Olivia de Havilland under contract to us so that we could cast her as Melanie.” The film he was preparing to shoot was Gone with the Wind, and Jack L. Warner was unwilling to lend her out for the project. De Havilland had read the novel, and unlike most other actresses, who wanted the Scarlett O’Hara role, she wanted to play Melanie Hamilton‍—‌a character whose quiet dignity and inner strength she understood and felt she could bring to life on the screen. De Havilland turned to Warner’s wife Anne for help. Warner later recalled, “Olivia, who had a brain like a computer concealed behind those fawn-like eyes, simply went to my wife and they joined forces to change my mind.” Warner relented, and de Havilland was signed to the project a few weeks before the start of principal photography on January 26, 1939.

Set in the American South during the 19th century, the film is about the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner in love with the husband of her sister-in-law, Melanie, whose kindness stands in sharp contrast to those around her. According to film historian Tony Thomas, de Havilland’s skillful and subtle performance effectively presents this character of selfless love and quiet strength in a way that keeps her vital and interesting throughout the film. Gone with the Wind had its world premiere in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 15, 1939, and was well received. Frank S. Nugent of The Times wrote that de Havilland’s Melanie “is a gracious, dignified, tender gem of characterization,” and John C. Flinn, Sr., in Variety called her “a standout.” The film won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and de Havilland received her first nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

 

Melanie was someone different. She had very, deeply feminine qualities … that I felt were very endangered at that time, and they are from generation to generation, and that somehow they should be kept alive, and … that’s why I wanted to interpret her role. … The main thing is that she was always thinking of the other person, and the interesting thing to me is that she was a happy person … loving, compassionate.

— Olivia de Havilland

 

Within days of completing her work in Gone with the Wind in June 1939, de Havilland returned to Warner Bros. and began filming Michael Curtiz’s historical drama The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Bette Davis and Errol Flynn. She had hoped her work on Selznick’s prestige picture would lead to first-rate roles at Warner Bros., but instead she received third billing below the title as the queen’s lady-in-waiting. In early September, she was lent out to Samuel Goldwyn Productions for Sam Wood‘s romantic caper film Raffles with David Niven, about a high-society cricketer and jewel thief. De Havilland later complained, “I had nothing to do with that style of film.” In early 1940, de Havilland refused to appear in several films assigned to her, initiating the first of her suspensions at the studio. She agreed to play in Curtis Bernhardt’s musical comedy drama My Love Came Back with Jeffrey Lynn and Eddie Albert, who played a classical music student turned swing jazz bandleader. De Havilland played violinist Amelia Cornell, whose life becomes complicated by the support of a wealthy sponsor. In his review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther described the film as “a featherlight frolic, a rollicking roundelay of deliciously pointed nonsense”, noting that de Havilland “plays the part with pace and wit.”

That same year, de Havilland was reunited with Flynn in their sixth film together, Michael Curtiz’s Western adventure Santa Fe Trail, set against the backdrop of abolitionist John Brown’s fanatical antislavery attacks in the days leading up to the American Civil War. The mostly fictional story follows West Point cadets J. E. B. Stuart, played by Flynn, and George Armstrong Custer, played by Ronald Reagan, as they make their way west, both vying for the affection of de Havilland’s Kit Carson Halliday. Unlike some of her previous adventure film roles, Kit is a vital, interesting, and confident character who knows her mind and plays a pivotal role in the story. Playing Kit in a provocative, tongue-in-cheek manner, de Havilland creates a character of real substance and dimension, according to Tony Thomas. Following a world premiere on December 13, 1940, at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, New Mexico‍—‌attended by cast members, reporters, the governor, and over 60,000 fans‍—‌Santa Fe Trail went on to become one of the top-grossing films of 1940. De Havilland, who accompanied Flynn on the well-publicized train ride to Santa Fe, did not attend the premiere, having been diagnosed with appendicitis that morning and rushed into surgery.

 

War years, 1941–44

Following her emergency surgery, de Havilland began a long period of convalescence in a Los Angeles hospital during which time she rejected several scripts offered to her by Warner Bros., leading to another suspension. In 1941, she appeared in three commercially successful films, beginning with Raoul Walsh’s romantic comedy The Strawberry Blonde with James Cagney. Set during the Gay Nineties, the story involves a man who marries an outspoken advocate for women’s rights after a rival steals his glamorous “strawberry blonde” girlfriend, and later discovers he ended up with a loving and understanding wife. Her performance revealed a growing confidence playing comedic roles, and a real talent for combining the qualities of kindness and love with a refined sense of naughtiness, according to film historian Tony Thomas. The film was a critical and commercial success. In Mitchell Leisen’s romantic drama Hold Back the Dawn with Charles Boyer for Paramount Pictures, de Havilland transitioned to a different type of role for her‍—‌an ordinary, decent small-town teacher whose life and sexuality are awakened by a sophisticated European gigolo, whose own life is positively affected by her love. Leisen’s careful direction and guidance appealed to de Havilland‍—‌much more than the workman-like approach of her Warner Bros. directors. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, “Olivia de Havilland plays the school teacher as a woman with romantic fancies whose honesty and pride are her own‍—‌and the film’s‍—‌chief support. Incidentally, she is excellent.” Her performance earned de Havilland her second Academy Award nomination‍—‌this time for Best Actress.

In July 1941, de Havilland was reunited with Errol Flynn for their eighth movie together, Raoul Walsh‘s epic They Died with Their Boots On. The film is loosely based on the courtship and marriage of George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth “Libbie” Bacon. Flynn and de Havilland had a falling out the previous year‍—‌mainly over the roles she was being given‍—‌and she did not intend to work with him again. Even Flynn acknowledged, “She was sick to death of playing ‘the girl’ and badly wanted a few good roles to show herself and the world that she was a fine actress.” After she learned from Warner that Flynn had come to his office saying he needed her in the film, de Havilland accepted. Screenwriter Lenore Coffee was brought in to add several romantic scenes, and improve the overall dialogue. The result is a film that includes some of their finest work together. Their last appearance on screen is Custer’s farewell to his wife. “Errol was quite sensitive,” de Havilland would later remember, “I think he knew it would be the last time we worked together.” Flynn’s final line in that scene would hold special meaning for her: “Walking through life with you, ma’am, has been a very gracious thing.” They Died with Their Boots On was released on November 21, 1941, and while some reviewers criticized the film’s historical inaccuracies, most applauded the action sequences, cinematography, and acting. Thomas M. Pryor of The New York Times found de Havilland “altogether captivating.” The film went on to earn $2,550,000 (equivalent to $41,500,000 in 2016), Warner Bros’ second-biggest money-maker of that year.

In 1942, de Havilland appeared in Elliott Nugent‘s romantic comedy The Male Animal with Henry Fonda, about an idealistic professor fighting for academic freedom while trying to hold onto his job and his wife Ellen. While her role was not particularly challenging, de Havilland’s delineation of an intelligent, good-natured woman trying to resolve the unsettling circumstances of her life played a major part in the film’s success, according to Tony Thomas. The film was a critical and commercial success, with Bosley Crowther of The Times noting that de Havilland “concocts a delightfully pliant and saucy character as the wife.” That year, she also appeared in John Huston‘s drama In This Our Life with Bette Davis. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Ellen Glasgow, the story is about two sisters whose lives are destroyed by the anger and jealousy of one of the sisters. Crowther gave the film a negative review, but noted de Havilland’s “warm and easy performance.” During production, de Havilland and Huston began a romantic relationship that lasted three years.

According to de Havilland, one of the few truly satisfying roles she played for Warner Bros. was the title character in Norman Krasna’s romantic comedy Princess O’Rourke (1943) with Robert Cummings. Filmed in July and August 1942, the story is about a European princess in Washington, DC, visiting her diplomat uncle, who is trying to find her an American husband. Intent on marrying a man of her own choosing, she boards a plane heading west and ends up falling in love with an American pilot, who is unaware of her true identity. The film was released on October 23, 1943, and did well at the box office. Bosley Crowther called it “a film which is in the best tradition of American screen comedy”, and found de Havilland’s performance “charming.”

 

I wanted to do complex roles, like Melanie for example, and Jack Warner saw me as an ingénue. I was really restless to portray more developed human beings. Jack never understood this, and … he would give me roles that really had no character or quality in them. I knew I wouldn’t even be effective.

— Olivia de Havilland

 

After fulfilling her seven-year Warner Bros. contract in 1943, de Havilland was informed that six months had been added to her contract for the times that she had been suspended. At the time, the studios had adopted the position that California law allowed them to suspend contract players for rejecting a role, and the period of suspension could be added to the contract period. Most contract players accepted this, but a few tried to change the system, including Bette Davis, who mounted an unsuccessful lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the 1930s. On August 23, 1943, acting on the advice of her lawyer, Martin Gang, de Havilland took Warner Bros. to court, citing an existing section of the California Labor Code that forbade an employer from enforcing a contract against an employee for longer than seven years from the date of first performance. In November 1943, the California Superior Court found in de Havilland’s favor, and Warner Bros. immediately appealed. On December 8, 1944, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District ruled in her favor. The decision was one of the most significant and far-reaching legal rulings in Hollywood, reducing the power of the studios and extending greater creative freedom to performers. California’s resulting “seven-year rule,” also known as Labor Code Section 2855, is still known today as the De Havilland Law. Her legal victory, which cost her $13,000 (equivalent to $180,000 in 2016) in legal fees, won de Havilland the respect and admiration of her peers, among them her own sister Joan Fontaine, who later commented, “Hollywood owes Olivia a great deal.” Warner Bros. reacted to de Havilland’s lawsuit by circulating a letter to other studios that had the effect of a “virtual blacklisting.” As a consequence, de Havilland did not work at a film studio for nearly two years.

De Havilland became a naturalized citizen of the United States on November 28, 1941. During the war years, she actively sought out ways to express her patriotism and contribute to the war effort. In May 1942, she joined the Hollywood Victory Caravan, a three-week train tour of the country that raised money through the sale of war bonds. Later that year she began attending events at the Hollywood Canteen, meeting and dancing with the troops. In December 1943 de Havilland joined a USO tour that traveled throughout the United States, Alaska, and the South Pacific, visiting wounded soldiers in military hospitals. She earned the respect and admiration of the troops for visiting the isolated islands and battlefronts in the Pacific. She survived flights in damaged aircraft and a bout with viral pneumonia requiring several days’ stay in one of the island barrack hospitals. She later remembered, “I loved doing the tours because it was a way I could serve my country and contribute to the war effort.”

 

Vindication and recognition, 1945–52

After the California Court of Appeals ruling freed her from her Warner Bros. contract, de Havilland signed a two-picture deal with Paramount Pictures. In June 1945, she began filming Mitchell Leisen’s drama To Each His Own, about an unwed mother who gives up her child for adoption and then spends the rest of her life trying to undo that decision. De Havilland insisted on bringing in Leisen as director, trusting his eye for detail, his empathy for actors, and the way he controlled sentiment in their previous collaboration, Hold Back the Dawn. The role required de Havilland to age nearly 30 years over the course of the film‍—‌from an innocent, small-town girl to a shrewd, ruthless businesswoman devoted to her cosmetics company. While de Havilland never formally studied acting, she did read Stanislavsky’s autobiography My Life in Art and applied one of his “methods” for this role. To help her define her character during the four periods of the story, she used a different perfume for each period. She also lowered the pitch of her voice incrementally in each period until it became a mature woman’s voice. Her performance earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1946‍—‌her first Oscar. According to film historian Tony Thomas, the award represented a vindication of her long struggle with Warner Bros. and confirmation of her abilities as an actress.

Her next two roles were challenging. In Robert Siodmak’s psychological thriller The Dark Mirror (1946), de Havilland played twin sisters Ruth and Terry Collins‍—‌one loving and normal, the other psychotic. In addition to the technical problems of showing her as two characters interacting with each other on screen at the same time, de Havilland needed to portray two separate and psychologically opposite people. While the film was not well received by critics‍—‌Variety said the film “gets lost in a maze of psychological gadgets and speculation”‍—‌de Havilland’s performance was praised by Tony Thomas, who called her final scene in the film “an almost frighteningly convincing piece of acting.” De Havilland later stated that playing the evil sister haunted her for years. In his review in The Nation, James Agee wrote that “her playing is thoughtful, quiet, detailed, and well sustained, and since it is founded, as some more talented playing is not, in an unusually healthful-seeming and likable temperament, it is an undivided pleasure to see.” While appearing in a summer stock production of What Every Woman Knows in Westport, Connecticut, her second professional stage appearance, de Havilland began dating Marcus Goodrich, a Navy veteran, journalist, and author of the 1941 novel Delilah. They were married on August 26, 1946.

De Havilland was praised for her performance as Virginia Cunningham in Anatole Litvak‘s drama The Snake Pit (1948), one of the first films to attempt a realistic portrayal of mental illness and an important exposé of the harsh conditions in state mental hospitals, according to film critic Philip French. Based on a novel by Mary Jane Ward and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, the film is about a woman placed in a mental institution by her husband to help her recover from a nervous breakdown. Virginia Cunningham was one of the most difficult of all her film roles, requiring significant preparation both mentally and physically‍—‌she deliberately lost weight to help create her gaunt appearance on screen. She consulted regularly with psychiatrists hired as consultants for the film, and visited Camarillo State Mental Hospital to research her role and observe the patients. The extreme physical discomfort of the hydrotherapy and simulated electric shock therapy scenes were especially challenging for the slight 5-foot-3-inch (160 cm) actress. In her performance, she conveyed her mental anguish by physically transforming her face with furrowed brow, wild staring eyes, and grimacing mouth.

 

I met a young woman who was very much like Virginia, about the same age and physical description, as well as being a schizophrenic with guilt problems. … What struck me most of all was the fact that she was rather likable and appealing. It hadn’t occurred to me before that a mental patient could be appealing, and it was that that gave me the key to the performance.

— Olivia de Havilland

 

According to author Judith Kass, de Havilland delivered a performance both “restrained and electric,” portraying varied and extreme aspects of her character‍—‌from a shy young woman to a tormented and disoriented woman. For her performance in The Snake Pit, de Havilland received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup. In 1949, de Havilland appeared in William Wyler‘s period drama The Heiress (1949), the fourth in a string of critically acclaimed performances. After seeing the play on Broadway, de Havilland called Wyler and urged him to fly to New York to see what she felt would be a perfect role for her. Wyler obliged, loved the play, and with de Havilland’s help arranged for Paramount to secure the film rights. Adapted for the screen by Ruth and Augustus Goetz and based on the 1880 novel Washington Square by Henry James, the film is about a young naïve woman who falls in love with a young man, over the objections of her emotionally abusive father, who suspects the man of being a gold digger. As she had done in Hold Back the Dawn, de Havilland portrays a character’s transformation from a shy, trusting innocent to a guarded, mature woman over a period of years. Her delineation of Catherine Sloper is developed through carefully crafted movements, gestures, and facial expressions that convey a submissive and inhibited young woman. Her timid voice, nervous hands, downcast eyes, and careful movements all communicate what the character is too shy to verbalize. Throughout the production, Wyler pressed de Havilland hard to elicit the requisite visual points of the character. In the scene where Catherine returns home after being jilted, the director had the actress carry a suitcase filled with heavy books up the stairs to convey the weight of Catherine’s trauma physically instead of using a planned speech in the original script. The Heiress was released in October 1949 and was well received by critics. For her performance, de Havilland received the New York Film Critics Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the Academy Award for Best Actress‍—‌her second Oscar.

After giving birth to her first child, Benjamin, on September 27, 1949, de Havilland took time off from making films to be with her infant. She turned down the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, later explaining that becoming a mother was a “transforming experience” and that she could not relate to the character. In 1950, her family moved to New York City, where she began rehearsals for a major new stage production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; it was her lifelong ambition to play Juliet on the stage. The play opened at the Broadhurst Theatre on March 11, 1951, to mixed reviews, with some critics believing the 35-year-old actress was too old for the role. The play closed after 45 performances. Undaunted, de Havilland accepted the title role in the stage production of George Bernard Shaw’s comedy Candida, which opened at the National Theatre on Broadway in April 1952. While reviews of the play were mixed, de Havilland’s performance was well received, and following the scheduled 32 performances, she went on tour with the company and delivered 323 additional performances, many to sold-out audiences. While de Havilland achieved major accomplishments during this period of her career, her marriage to Goodrich, 18 years her senior, had grown strained due to his unstable temperament. In August 1952, de Havilland filed for divorce, which became final the following year.

 

New life in Paris, 1953–62

 Of course the thing that staggers you when you first come to France is the fact that all the French speak French‍—‌even the children. Many Americans and “Britishers” who visit the country never quite adjust to this, and the idea persists that the natives speak the language just to show off or be difficult.

— Olivia de Havilland in Every Frenchman Has One

 

In April 1953, at the invitation of the French government, de Havilland traveled to the Cannes Film Festival, where she met Pierre Galante, an executive editor for the French journal Paris Match. Following a long-distance courtship and the requisite nine-month residency requirement, de Havilland and Galante married on April 2, 1955, in the village of Yvoy-le-Marron, and settled together in a three-story house near Bois de Boulogne park in the Rive Droite section of Paris. That same year, de Havilland returned to the screen in Terence Young’s period drama That Lady (1955), about a Spanish princess and her unrequited love for King Philip II of Spain, whose respect she earned in her youth after losing an eye in a sword fight defending his honor. According to Tony Thomas, the film uses authentic Spanish locations effectively, but suffers from a convoluted plot and excessive dialogue, and while de Havilland delivered a warm and elegant performance as Ana de Mendoza, the film was disappointing.

Following her appearances in the romantic melodrama Not as a Stranger (1955) and The Ambassador’s Daughter(1956)—‌neither of which were successful at the box office‍—‌de Havilland gave birth to her second child, Gisèle Galante, on July 18, 1956.

De Havilland returned to the screen in 1958 in Michael Curtiz’s Western drama The Proud Rebel, a film about a former Confederate soldier whose wife was killed in the war and whose son lost the ability to speak after witnessing the tragedy. De Havilland played Linnett Moore, a tough yet feminine frontier woman who cares for the boy and comes to love his father. The movie was filmed on location in Utah, where de Havilland learned to hitch and drive a team of horses and handle a gun for her role. The Proud Rebel was released May 28, 1958, and was well received by audiences and critics. In his review for The New York Times, A. H. Weiler called the film a “truly sensitive effort” and “heartwarming drama,” and praised de Havilland’s ability to convey the “warmth, affection and sturdiness needed in the role.”

One of de Havilland’s most noted performances during this period was in Guy Green’s romantic drama Light in the Piazza (1962) with Rossano Brazzi. Filmed in Florence and Rome, and based on Elizabeth Spencer’s novel of the same name, the film is about a middle-class American tourist on extended vacation in Italy with her beautiful 26-year-old daughter, who is mentally disabled as a result of a childhood accident. Faced with the prospect of her daughter falling in love with a young Italian, the mother struggles with conflicting emotions about her daughter’s future.

De Havilland projects a calm maternal serenity throughout most of the film, only showing glimpses of the worried mother anxious for her child’s happiness. The film was released on February 9, 1962, and was well received, with a Hollywood Reporter reviewer calling it “an uncommon love story … told with rare delicacy and force”, and Variet ynoting that the film “achieves the rare and delicate balance of artistic beauty, romantic substance, dramatic novelty and commercial appeal.” Variety singled out de Havilland’s performance as “one of great consistency and subtle projection.”

In early 1962, de Havilland traveled to New York and began rehearsals for Garson Kanin‘s stage play A Gift of Time. Adapted from the autobiographical book Death of a Man by Lael Tucker Wertenbaker, the play explores the emotionally painful struggle of a housewife forced to deal with the slow death of her husband, played by Henry Fonda. The play opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway to positive notices, with de Havilland receiving her best reviews as a stage actress. Theater critic Walter Kerr praised her final scene, writing, “As darkness gathers, the actress gains in stature, taking on the simple and resolute willingness to understand.” The New York World Telegram and Sun reviewer concluded, “It is Miss de Havilland who gives the play its unbroken continuity. This distinguished actress reveals Lael as a special and admirable woman.” She stayed with the production for 90 performances. The year 1962 also had the publication of de Havilland’s first book, Every Frenchman Has One, a lighthearted account of her often amusing attempts to understand and adapt to French life, manners, and customs. The book sold out its first printing prior to the publication date and went on to become a bestseller.

 

Later films and television, 1963–88

In 1964, de Havilland appeared in her last two leading roles in feature films‍—‌both psychological thrillers. In Walter Grauman‘s Lady in a Cage, she played a wealthy poet who gets trapped in her mansion’s elevator and faces the threat of three terrorizing hooligans in her own home. Critics responded negatively to the graphic violence and cruelty shown on screen. A. H. Weiler of The New York Times called it a “sordid, if suspenseful, exercise in aimless brutality.” That same year, de Havilland appeared in Robert Aldrich’s Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte with her close friend Bette Davis. After Joan Crawford left the picture due to illness, Davis had Aldrich fly to Switzerland to persuade a reluctant de Havilland to accept the role of Miriam Deering, a cruel, conniving character hidden behind the charming façade of a polite and cultured lady. De Havilland’s quiet, restrained performance provided a counterbalance to Davis’s ranting characterization. Film historian Tony Thomas described her performance as “a subtle piece of acting” that was “a vital contribution to the effectiveness of the film.” The film was well received and earned seven Academy Award nominations.

As film roles became more difficult to find, a common problem shared by many Hollywood veterans from her era, de Havilland began working in television dramas, despite her dislike of the networks’ practice of breaking up story lines with commercials. Her first venture into the medium was a teleplay directed by Sam Peckinpah called NoonWine (1966) on ABC Stage 67, a dark tragedy about a farmer’s act of murder that leads to his suicide. The production and her performance as the farmer’s wife Ellie were well received. In 1972, she starred in her first television feature film, The Screaming Woman, about a wealthy woman recovering from a nervous breakdown. In 1979, she appeared in the ABC miniseries Roots: The Next Generations in the role of Mrs. Warner, the wife of a former Confederate officer played by Henry Fonda. The miniseries was seen by an estimated 110 million people‍—‌nearly one-third of American homes with television sets. Throughout the 1970s, de Havilland’s film work was limited to smaller supporting roles and cameo appearances. Her last feature film was The Fifth Musketeer (1979).

During this period, de Havilland began doing speaking engagements in cities across the United States with a talk entitled “From the City of the Stars to the City of Light”, a program of personal reminiscences about her life and career. She also attended tributes to Gone with the Wind. In the 1980s, her television work included an Agatha Christie television film Murder Is Easy (1982), the television drama The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana (1982) in which she played the Queen Mother, and the 1986 ABC miniseries North and South, Book II. Her most notable performance of the decade was in the television film Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986) as Dowager Empress Maria, which earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film. In 1988, de Havilland appeared in the HTV romantic television drama The Woman He Loved; it was her final screen performance.

 

Retirement and remembrance, 1989–present

In retirement, de Havilland remained active in the film community. In 1998, she traveled to New York to help promote a special showing of Gone with the Wind. In 2003, she appeared as a presenter at the 75th Academy Awards. In 2004, Turner Classic Movies produced a retrospective piece called Melanie Remembers in which she was interviewed for the 65th anniversary of the original release of Gone with the Wind. In June 2006, she made appearances at tributes commemorating her 90th birthday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

On November 17, 2008, at the age of 92, de Havilland received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people of the United States. The medal was presented to her by President George W. Bush, who commended her “for her persuasive and compelling skill as an actress in roles from Shakespeare’s Hermia to Margaret Mitchell’s Melanie. Her independence, integrity, and grace won creative freedom for herself and her fellow film actors.” The following year, de Havilland narrated the documentary I Remember Better When I Paint (2009), a film about the importance of art in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

On September 9, 2010, de Havilland was appointed a Chevalier (knight) of the Légion d’honneur, the highest decoration in France, awarded by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who told the actress, “You honor France for having chosen us.” In February the following year, she appeared at the César Awards in France, where she was greeted with a standing ovation. De Havilland celebrated her 100th birthday on July 1, 2016.

 

Personal life

Relationships

Although known as one of Hollywood’s most exciting on-screen couples, de Havilland and Errol Flynn were never involved in a romantic relationship. Upon first meeting her at Warner Bros. in August 1935, Flynn was drawn to the 19-year-old actress with “warm brown eyes” and “extraordinary charm.” In turn, de Havilland fell in love with him, but kept her feelings inside, later recalling, “He never guessed I had a crush on him … it never occurred to me that he was smitten with me, too.” Flynn later wrote, “By the time we made The Charge of the Light Brigade, I was sure that I was in love with her.” Flynn finally professed his love on March 12, 1937, at the Coronation Ball for King George VI at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where they slow danced together to “Sweet Leilani” at the hotel’s Coconut Grove nightclub. “I was deeply affected by him,” she later remembered, “It was impossible for me not to be.” The evening ended on a sobering note, however, with de Havilland insisting that despite his separation from his wife Lili Damita, he needed to divorce her before their relationship could proceed. Flynn reunited with his wife later that year, and de Havilland never acted on her feelings for Flynn.

In July 1938, de Havilland began dating business tycoon, aviator, and filmmaker Howard Hughes, who had just completed his record-setting flight around the world in 91 hours. In addition to escorting her about town, he gave the actress her first flying lessons. She later said, “He was a rather shy man … and yet, in a whole community where the men every day played heroes on the screen and didn’t do anything heroic in life, here was this man who was a real hero.” In December 1939, de Havilland began a romantic relationship with actor James Stewart. At the request of Irene Mayer Selznick, the actor’s agent asked Stewart to escort de Havilland to the New York premiere of Gone with the Wind at the Astor Theater on December 19, 1939. Over the next few days, Stewart took her to the theater several times and to the 21 Club. They continued to see each other back in Los Angeles, where Stewart provided occasional flying lessons and romance. According to de Havilland, Stewart proposed marriage to her in 1940, but she felt that he was not ready to settle down. Their relationship ended in late 1941 when de Havilland began a romantic relationship with film director John Huston while making In This Our Life. “John was a very great love of mine,” she would later admit, “He was a man I wanted to marry.”

 

Marriages and children

On August 26, 1946, she married Marcus Goodrich, a Navy veteran, journalist, and author of the 1941 novel Delilah. The marriage ended in divorce in 1953. They had one child, Benjamin Goodrich, who was born on September 27, 1949. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 19, but was able to graduate from the University of Texas. He worked as a statistical analyst for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, California, and as an international banking representative for the Texas Commerce Bank in Houston. He died on October 1, 1991, in Paris at the age of 41 of heart disease brought on by treatments for Hodgkin’s disease, three weeks before the death of his father.

On April 2, 1955, de Havilland married Pierre Galante, an executive editor for the French journal Paris Match. Her marriage to Galante prompted de Havilland to move to Paris. The couple separated in 1962, but continued to live in the same house for another six years to raise their daughter together. Galante moved across the street and the two remained close, even after the finalization of the divorce in 1979. She looked after him during his final bout with lung cancer prior to his death in 1998. They had one child, Gisèle Galante, who was born on July 18, 1956. After studying law at the Université de Droit de Nanterre School of Law, she worked as a journalist in France and the United States. Since 1956, de Havilland has lived in the same three-story house near Bois de Boulogne park in the Rive Droite section of Paris.

 

Religion and politics

 De Havilland was raised in the Episcopal Church and has remained an Episcopalian throughout her life. After moving to France, she became one of the first women lectors at the American Cathedral in Paris, where she was on the regular rota for Scripture readings. As recently as 2012, she was still doing readings on major feast days, including Christmas and Easter. “It’s a task I love,” she once said. In describing her preparation for her readings, de Havilland once observed, “You have to convey the deep meaning, you see, and it has to start with your own faith. But first I always pray. I pray before I start to prepare, as well. In fact, I would always say a prayer before shooting a scene, so this is not so different, in a way.” De Havilland prefers to use the Revised English Bible for its poetic style. She raised her son Benjamin in the Episcopal Church and her daughter Gisèle in the Roman Catholic Church, the faith of the child’s father.

As a United States citizen, de Havilland became involved in politics as a way of exercising her civic responsibilities. She campaigned for Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s re-election in 1944. After the war, she joined the Independent Citizens’ Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions, a national public policy advocacy group that included Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, and Humphrey Bogart in its Hollywood chapter. In June 1946, she was asked to deliver speeches for the committee that reflected the Communist Party line‍—‌the group was later identified as a Communist front organization. Disturbed at seeing a small group of Communist members manipulating the committee, de Havilland removed the pro-Communist material from her speeches and rewrote them to reflect Harry S. Truman‘s anti-Communist platform. She later recalled, “I realized a nucleus of people was controlling the organization without a majority of the members of the board being aware of it. And I knew they had to be Communists.”

She organized a fight to regain control of the committee from its pro-Soviet leadership, but her reform efforts failed. Her resignation from the committee triggered a wave of resignations from 11 other Hollywood figures, including future President Ronald Reagan. In 1958, she was secretly called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and recounted her experiences with the Independent Citizens’ Committee.

 

Relationship with only sibling, Joan Fontaine

De Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine are the only siblings to have won Academy Awards in a lead acting category. According to biographer Charles Higham, the sisters always had an uneasy relationship, starting in early childhood when Olivia had trouble accepting the idea of having a younger sister, and Joan resenting her mother’s favoring Olivia. Olivia would rip up the clothes that her sister was given to wear as hand-me-downs, forcing Joan to stitch them together again. This tension was made worse by Fontaine’s frequent childhood illnesses, which led to her mother’s overly protective expression, “Livvie can, Joan can’t.”

De Havilland was the first to become an actress, and for several years Fontaine was overshadowed by her sister’s accomplishments. When Mervyn LeRoy offered Fontaine a personal contract, her mother told her that Warner Bros. was “Olivia’s studio” and that she could not use the family name, “de Havilland.” In 1942, de Havilland and Fontaine were both nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress‍—‌de Havilland for Hold Back the Dawn and Fontaine for Suspicion. When Fontaine’s name was announced as winner, de Havilland reacted graciously saying, “We’ve got it!” According to biographer Charles Higham, Fontaine rejected de Havilland’s attempts to congratulate her, leaving the other offended and embarrassed.

Their relationship was further strained in 1946 when Fontaine made negative comments to an interviewer about de Havilland’s new husband, Marcus Goodrich. When she read her sister’s remarks, de Havilland was deeply hurt and waited for an apology that was never offered. The following year after accepting her first Academy Award for To Each His Own, de Havilland was approached backstage by Fontaine, who extended her hand to congratulate her; de Havilland turned away from her sister. The two did not speak for the next five years after the incident. This may have caused an estrangement between Fontaine and her own daughters, who maintained a covert relationship with their aunt, de Havilland. Following her divorce from Goodrich, de Havilland resumed contact with her sister, coming to her apartment in New York and spending Christmas together there in 1961. The final break between the sisters occurred in 1975 over disagreements over their mother’s cancer treatment‍—‌de Havilland wanted to consult other doctors and supported exploratory surgery; Fontaine disagreed. Fontaine claimed that de Havilland did not notify her of their mother’s death while she was touring with a play‍—‌de Havilland in fact had sent a telegram, which took two weeks to reach her sister. The sibling feud ended with Fontaine’s death on December 15, 2013. The following day, de Havilland released a statement saying she was “shocked and saddened” by the news.

 

Career assessment and legacy

De Havilland’s career spanned 53 years, from 1935 to 1988. During that time, she appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading movie stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood. She began her career playing demure ingénues opposite popular male stars, including Errol Flynn, with whom she made her breakout film Captain Blood in 1935. They would go on to make eight more feature films together, and became one of Hollywood’s most popular romantic on-screen pairings. Her range of performances included roles in most major movie genres. Following her film debut in the Shakespeare adaptation A Midsummer Night’s Dream, de Havilland achieved her initial popularity in romantic comedies, such as The Great Garrick and Hard to Get, and Western adventure films, such as Dodge City and Santa Fe Trail. In her later career, she was most successful in drama films, such as In This Our Life and Light in the Piazza, and psychological dramas playing non-glamorous characters in films such as The Dark Mirror, The Snake Pit, and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

During her career, de Havilland won two Academy Awards (To Each His Own and The Heiress), two Golden Globe Awards (The Heiress and Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna), two New York Film Critics Circle Awards (The Snake Pit and The Heiress), the National Board of Review Award, and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup (The Snake Pit), and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination (Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna).

For her contributions to the motion picture industry, de Havilland received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6762 Hollywood Boulevard on February 8, 1960.[267] Since her retirement in 1988, her lifetime contribution to the arts has been honored on two continents. In 1998, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire in England.

In 2006, she was inducted into the Online Film & Television Association Award Film Hall of Fame. On November 17, 2008, President George W. Bush presented de Havilland the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor given for achievement in the arts conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the American people. On September 9, 2010, de Havilland was appointed a Chevalier (knight) of the Légion d’honneur, the highest decoration in France, awarded by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The moving-image collection of Olivia de Havilland is held at the Academy Film Archive, which preserved a nitrate reel of a screen test for Danton, Max Reinhardt’s never-produced follow-up to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935).

de Havilland, as a confidante and friend of Bette Davis, is featured in the series Feud: Bette and Joan, portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones. In the series de Havilland reflects on the origins and depth of the DavisCrawford feud and how it affected contemporary female Hollywood stars.

 

Honors and awards

1939   Academy Award    –   Best Actress in a Supporting Role

1941   Academy Award    –    Best Actress in a Leading Role

1946   Academy Award    –    Best Actress in a Leading Role

1948   Academy Award    –    Best Actress in a Leading Role

Don Rickles

Donald JayDonRickles (May 8, 1926 – April 6, 2017) was an American stand-up comedian, actor and author. Although he became well known as an insult comic, his pudgy, balding appearance and pugnacious style led to few leading roles in film or television, including his prominent film roles included Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) and Kelly’s Heroes (1970). Beginning in 1976, he enjoyed a two-year run starring in the sitcom C.P.O. Sharkey.

He received widespread exposure as a popular guest on numerous talk shows, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Show with David Letterman, and later voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for the 2007 documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.

 

Early life

Donald Jay Rickles was born to Jewish parents in Queens, New York, on May 8, 1926. His father, Max Rickles, emigrated in 1903 with his Lithuanian parents from Kaunas (then in the Russian Empire), and his mother, Etta (née Feldman), was born in New York City to Austrian immigrant parents. Rickles grew up in Jackson Heights, New York.

After graduating from Newtown High School, Rickles enlisted in the US Navy, and served during World War II on the motor torpedo boat tender USS Cyrene (AGP-13) as a seaman first class. He was honorably discharged in 1946. Two years later, intending to be a dramatic actor, he studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and then played bit parts on television. Frustrated by a lack of acting work, Rickles began performing comedy in clubs in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. He became known as an insult comedian when he responded to his hecklers. The audience enjoyed these insults more than his prepared material, so he incorporated them into his act.

When he began his career in the early 1950s, he started calling ill-mannered members of the audience “hockey pucks.” His style was similar to that of an older insult comic, Jack E. Leonard, though Rickles denied Leonard influenced his style. During an interview on Larry King Live, Rickles credited Milton Berle‘s comedy style for inspiring him to enter show business.

 

Career

 1950s–1960s

While working in the “Murray Franklin’s” nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida, early in his career, Rickles spotted Frank Sinatra and remarked to him, “I just saw your movie The Pride and the Passion and I want to tell you, the cannon’s acting was great.” He added, “Make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody!” Sinatra, whose pet name for Rickles was “bullet-head,” enjoyed him so much that he encouraged other celebrities to see Rickles’ act and be insulted by him. Sinatra’s support helped Rickles become a popular headline performer in Las Vegas. During a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast special, Rickles was among those who took part in roasting Sinatra, although Rickles himself was also roasted during another show in the series.

Rickles earned the nicknames, “The Merchant of Venom” and “Mr. Warmth” for his poking fun at people of all ethnicities and walks of life. When he was introduced to an audience or on a television talk show, Spanish matador music, “La Virgen de la Macarena,” would usually be played, subtly foreshadowing someone was about to be metaphorically gored. Rickles said, “I always pictured myself facing the audience as the matador.”

In 1958, Rickles made his film debut in a serious part in Run Silent, Run Deep with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. Throughout the 1960s, he often appeared on television in sitcoms and dramatic series. Rickles guest-starred in Get Smart as Sid, an old war buddy of Max who comes to stay with him. In an episode of the 1960s drama series Run for Your Life, Rickles played a distressed comedian whose act culminates when he strangles a patron while imploring the patron to “Laugh!” Rickles took a dramatic turn in the low-budget Roger Corman film X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes as a carnival barker out to exploit the title character (played by Ray Milland).

Rickles appeared in the popular Beach Party film series. He recalled in his 2007 memoir that at a White House dinner, Barbara Bush teased him about his decision to appear in those films. Rickles’ agent, Jack Gilardi, was married to Annette Funicello when Rickles was cast in the Beach Party films. He subsequently began appearing more frequently on television talk shows, first appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1965.

He became a frequent guest and guest host, appearing more than 100 times on The Tonight Show during Carson’s era. An early Carson-Rickles Tonight highlight occurred in 1968 when, while two Japanese women treated Carson to a bath and foot massage, Rickles walked onto the set. Rickles also made frequent appearances on The Dean Martin Show and became a fixture on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast specials.

In 1968, Rickles released a live comedy album, Hello, Dummy!, which reached #54 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The same year he starred in his own variety show on ABC, The Don Rickles Show, with comedy writer Pat McCormick as his sidekick. The show lasted one season. During the 1960s, Rickles made guest appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Munsters, The Addams Family, The Mothers-in-Law, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show and I Dream of Jeannie.

1970s–1980s

In 1970, Rickles had a notable role as Crapgame in Kelly’s Heroes, sharing the marquee poster with co-stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, and Carroll O’Connor. In 1972, he starred in The Don Rickles Show, which lasted for 13 episodes. He also starred in a series of television specials. In his memoir, Rickles acknowledged a scripted sitcom was not well-suited to his ad-lib style of performing.

Starting in 1973, Rickles became a popular comedian appearing on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast specials. In 1976–1978, he starred in C.P.O. Sharkey, which lasted two seasons. The series is primarily remembered for the cigarette box incident when Johnny Carson did an impromptu surprise visit during an episode’s taping because he was “incensed” Rickles broke his cigarette box while he chatted with Bob Newhart (who was sitting in for Carson as the guest host of The Tonight Show) on the previous night’s show. The incident was often replayed in Tonight Show retrospectives and was considered a highlight of the 1970s era of the series.

 

Rickles occasionally appeared as a panelist on Hollywood Squares, and was depicted in comic book form by Jack Kirby during his work on the Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen series.

 

1980s–1990s

 In the early 1980s, Rickles began performing with Steve Lawrence in concerts in Las Vegas. In 1983, the duo co-hosted Foul-Ups, Bleeps & Blunders, an imitation of TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes. In 1985, when Frank Sinatra was asked to perform at Ronald Reagan‘s Second Inaugural Ball, he insisted that Rickles be allowed to perform, and do it unrehearsed. Rickles considered this performance the highlight of his career.

In 1990, he appeared in the second season of Tales from the Crypt in the episode “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy.” In 1992, he was cast in Innocent Blood, directed by John Landis. In his memoir, Rickles wrote that he recalled that Landis was a Production Assistant to Brian G. Hutton during the filming of Kelly’s Heroes. During the filming of Innocent Blood, Rickles would kid Landis by ordering him to get coffee or to run other errands befitting his one-time “gofer” status.

In 1993, Rickles starred in another short-lived sitcom, Daddy Dearest, with Richard Lewis. In 1995, he played Billy Sherbert in Casino, and voiced Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story (1995) and reprised his role in Toy Story 2 (1999). Rickles starred as George Wilson in 1998’s Dennis the Menace Strikes Again. In 1998, he portrayed a film theater manager in Dirty Workand voiced Cornwall, one of the heads of a two-headed dragon, in Quest for Camelot.

 

2000s–2010s

Rickles made a cameo appearance as himself in a recurring dream sequence in “Sub Conscious”, an episode of the CBS dramatic series, The Unit which aired in February 2007.

A memoir titled Rickles’ Book was released on May 8, 2007, by Simon & Schuster. Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, a documentary about Rickles directed by John Landis, made its debut on HBO on December 2, 2007. Rickles won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, besting a number of notable comics, including David Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert. Rickles remarked, “Stephen Colbert’s a funny man, but he’s too young. He has got plenty of time to win awards, but this may be my last year and I think that I made it count. On second thought it was probably just a mercy award for an old man.” Rickles reprised his role of Mr. Potato Head for the Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction at Disney California Adventure Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Toy Story 3.

Rickles appeared on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List in 2009, and met Griffin’s mother, Maggie, to fulfill one item on Maggie’s “bucket list.” In 2010, he appeared in a commercial during Super Bowl XLIV as a talking rose, and appeared on the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS TV on June 27, 2010. In 2011, Rickles reunited with his Casino co-star Joe Pesci in a Snickers advertisement highlighting the actors known for their “short fuses.” Rickles also played the late husband of Elka (Betty White) on the TV Land original comedy Hot in Cleveland— a “surprise” because his character was thought to be dead.

On May 28, 2014, Rickles was honored by Spike TV‘s “One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles”. Recorded live at New York City’s Apollo Theater, Jerry Seinfeld was the master of ceremonies for the two-hour special, with live monologues by Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Tracy Morgan, Brian Williams, Regis Philbin, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Recorded segments included bits from Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Kimmel and Eddie Murphy.

“The camaraderie and the comedy made the show a cross between a traditional roast and a dignified lifetime achievement award, spanning emotions ranging from admiration and gratitude to, well, degradation. And as the evening reached its climax, when Rickles got his say after all that had said about him and his nearly 60-year-long career, fittingly, he had the last laugh.”   — TV Week

Rickles was still a frequent guest on late night talk shows, including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon during the later months of his life. On May 11, 2015, Rickles appeared as a guest on one of the final episodes of The Late Show with David Letterman. He also made a cameo in the show Grandfathered.

In a 2014 interview, Rickles dismissed thoughts of retiring, saying: “I’m in good health. I’m working better than I ever have. The audiences are great. Why should I retire? I’m like a fighter. The bell rings and you come out and fight. My energy comes alive. And I still enjoy it.”

Until his death in 2017, despite being impeded by multiple surgeries following a bout with necrotizing fasciitis in 2013, Rickles continued touring across the United States.

 

Personal life

On March 14, 1965, Rickles married Barbara Sklar of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He admitted having a very difficult time romantically in his 20s and 30s (he married at the age of 38), finally meeting Sklar through his agent and falling for her when she failed to get his sense of humor. They had two children, Mindy and Larry Rickles. According to Rickles’ memoir, his grandchildren, Ethan and Harrison Mann, are much more impressed by his role as Mr. Potato Head than by any of his other achievements.

Although a lifelong Democrat, Rickles performed at the inaugurations of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush with his friend Frank Sinatra. He considered comedian Bob Newhart to be his best friend, and their wives were also close friends. Rickles and Newhart appeared together on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on January 24, 2005, the Monday following Johnny Carson’s death, reminiscing about their many guest appearances on Carson’s show. The two also appeared together on the television sitcom Newhart, and for previous episodes of The Tonight Show, where Newhart or Rickles were guest-hosts. They and their wives often vacationed together.

 

Death

Rickles died of kidney failure on April 6, 2017, at his home in Beverly Hills, California; he was 90 years old. He was interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.

 

Tributes

Upon hearing of his death, a number of television hosts and other actors paid tribute to his comedy talents. Among them was a tribute by Jimmy Kimmel, who recalled Rickles as a “towering presence in Las Vegas,” where Kimmel grew up. Seth Meyers, said “there’s nothing better than getting burned by Don Rickles,” while David Letterman noted that Rickles “was always a highlight for me. Just endless mischief and nonsense, and a guy who would make the audience go completely crazy.”

Director Martin Scorsese, who directed him in Casino in 1995, stated:

Don Rickles was a giant, a legend … and I can hear his voice now, skewering me for being so lofty. I had the honor of working with him on my picture Casino. He was a professional. He kept me doubled over with laughter every day on the set — yet he was a complete pro.

For Rickles’ 88th birthday in 2014, a number of stars helped celebrate with a televised special, One Night Only: An All Star Tribute to Don Rickles. Among them was Jerry Seinfeld, who described Rickles as part of “the Mount Rushmore of stand-up comedy.”

 

 

 

 

Gary Busey

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William Gary Busey (born June 29, 1944) is an American actor. A prolific character actor, Busey has appeared in over 150 films, including Lethal Weapon (1987), Predator 2 (1990), Point Break (1991), Under Siege (1992), The Firm (1993), Carried Away (1996), Black Sheep (1996), Lost Highway (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Gingerdead Man (2005) and Piranha 3DD (2012). Busey has also made guest appearances on television shows such as Gunsmoke, Walker, Texas Ranger, Law & Order, Scrubs, and Entourage.

For portraying Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story (1978), Busey was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor. In 2014, he lampooned his public image through a series of advertisements for Amazon Fire TV.

 

Early life

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Busey was born in Goose Creek, Texas, the son of Sadie Virginia (née Arnett), a homemaker, and Delmer Lloyd Busey, a construction design manager. He graduated from Nathan Hale High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1962. While attending Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, on a football scholarship, he became interested in acting. He then transferred to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he quit school just one class short of graduation.

 

Career

Early career

Busey began his show business career as a drummer in The Rubber Band. He appears on several Leon Russell recordings, credited as playing drums under the names “Teddy Jack Eddy” and “Sprunk,” a character he created when he was a cast member of a local television comedy show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting on station KTUL (which starred fellow Tulsan Gailard Sartain as “Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi”). For his skits on Uncanny Film Festival, Busey drew on his American Hero, belligerent, know-it-all character. When he told Gailard Sartain his character needed a name, Sartain replied, “Take three: Teddy, Jack ,and Eddy.”

He played in a band called Carp, which released one album on Epic Records in 1969. Busey continued to play several small roles in both film and television during the 1970s. In 1975, as the character “Harvey Daley,” he was the last person killed on the series Gunsmoke (in the third-to-last episode, No. 633 – “The Busters”).

 

Rise to prominence

In 1974, Busey made his major film debut with a supporting role in Michael Cimino‘s buddy action caper Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges.

In 1976, he was hired by Barbra Streisand and her producer-boyfriend Jon Peters to play Bobby Ritchie, road manager to Kris Kristofferson‘s character in the remake film A Star is Born. On the DVD commentary of the film, Streisand says Busey was great and that she had seen him on a TV series and thought he had the right qualities to play the role.

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In 1978, he starred as rock legend Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story with Sartain as The Big Bopper. For his performance, Busey received the greatest critical acclaim of his career and the movie earned Busey an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and the National Society of Film CriticsBest Actor award.

screenshot-2017-03-03-12-03-51In the same year he also starred in the small yet acclaimed drama Straight Time and the surfing movie Big Wednesday, which is now a minor cult classic.

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screenshot-2017-03-03-12-06-10In the 1980s, Busey’s roles included the critically acclaimed western Barbarosa, the comedies D.C. Cab and Insignificance, and the Stephen King adaptation Silver Bullet. He played one of the primary antagonists opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the action comedy Lethal Weapon.

In the 1990s, he had prominent supporting roles in successful action films such as Predator 2, Point Break and Under Siege. He also appeared in Rookie of the Year, The Firm, Black Sheep, Lost Highway, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Busey sang the song “Stay All Night” on Saturday Night Live in March 1979 (season 4, episode 14), and on the Late Show with David Letterman in the 1990s.

 

2000s–present

screenshot-2017-03-03-12-04-44In 2003, Busey starred in a Comedy Central reality show, I’m with Busey. In 2005, he also voiced himself in an episode of The Simpsons and appeared in the popular miniseries Into the West. Busey controversially appeared in the 2006 Turkish nationalist film Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, (Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak, in Turkish), which was accused of fascism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism.

In 2007, he appeared as himself in a prominent recurring role on HBO‘s Entourage, in which he parodied his eccentric image, ultimately appearing on three episodes of the show.

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In 2008, he joined the second season of the reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Busey returned to reality television in Celebrity Apprentice 4, which premiered in March 2011, and appeared again in Celebrity Apprentice 6. There, he briefly reprised his role as Buddy Holly by performing “Not Fade Away”.

In a series of 2010 YouTube advertisements for Vitamin Water, Busey appeared as Norman Tugwater, a lawyer who defends professional athletes’ entitlements to a cut from Fantasy Football team owners.

In 2014, he became a celebrity spokesperson for Amazon Fire TV. That August, he appeared in, and became the first American winner of the fourteenth series of the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother.

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On September 1, 2015, it was announced that he would be competing on the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars. He was paired with professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya. Busey and Trebunskaya made it to Week 4 of competition but were then eliminated and finished in 10th place.

 

Personal life

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In 1971, Busey’s wife Judy Helkenberg gave birth to their son, William Jacob “Jake” Busey. Busey and Helkenberg divorced when Jake was 19 years old. Busey has a daughter named Alectra from a previous relationship. In February 2010, Busey’s fiancee Steffanie Sampson gave birth to their son, Luke Sampson Busey.

On December 4, 1988, Busey was severely injured in a motorcycle accident in which he was not wearing a helmet. His skull was fractured, and doctors feared he suffered permanent brain damage. During the filming of the second season of Celebrity Rehab in 2008, Busey was referred to psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophy. Sophy suspected that Busey’s brain injury has had a greater effect on him than realized. He described it as essentially weakening his mental “filters” and causing him to speak and act impulsively. Sophy recommended Busey take valproic acid (Depakote), with which Busey agreed.

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In 1996, Busey publicly announced that he was a Christian, saying: “I am proud to tell Hollywood I am a Christian. For the first time I am now free to be myself.” This return to Christianity occurred as a result of his motorcycle accident, as well as a 1995 cocaine overdose.

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In 2011, Busey supported Donald Trump‘s 2012 presidential bid saying, “For the American people, vote for Donald Trump come election night.” In 2015, he again endorsed Trump for president.

Buddy Hackett

Buddy Hackett (born Leonard Hacker; August 31, 1924 – June 30, 2003) was an American comedian and actor. His best remembered roles include Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man (1962), Benjy Benjamin in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Tennessee Steinmetz in The Love Bug (1968), and Scuttle in The Little Mermaid (1989).

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Early life

Hackett was born in Brooklyn, New York to Anna (née Geller) and Philip Hacker, an upholsterer and part-time inventor. He grew up on 54th and 14th Ave in Borough Park, Brooklyn, across from Public School 103 (now a yeshiva). He graduated from New Utrecht High School in 1942.

While still a student, he began performing in nightclubs in the Catskills Borscht Belt resorts as “Butch Hacker.” He appeared first at the Golden Hotel in Hurleyville, New York, and he claimed he did not get a single laugh. He enlisted in the United States Army during World War II, and served for three years in an anti-aircraft battery.

 

Career

 Early career

Hackett’s first job after the war was at the Pink Elephant, a Brooklyn club. It was here he changed his name from Leonard Hacker to Buddy Hackett. He made appearances in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and continued to perform in the Catskills. He acted on Broadway, in Lunatics and Lovers, where Max Liebman saw him and put him in two television specials.

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Hackett’s movie career began in 1950 with a 10-minute “World of Sports” reel for Columbia Pictures called King of the Pins. The film demonstrated championship bowling techniques, with expert Joe Wilman demonstrating the right way and Hackett (in pantomime) exemplifying the wrong way. Hackett would not return to movies until 1953, after one of his nightclub routines attracted attention. With a rubber band around his head to slant his eyes, Hackett’s “The Chinese Waiter” lampooned the heavy dialect, frustration, and communication problems encountered by a busy waiter in a Chinese restaurant: “No, we no have sprit-pea soup … We gotta wonton, we got eh-roll … No orda for her, juss orda for you!” The routine was such a hit, Hackett made a recording of it, and was hired to reprise it in the Universal-International musical Walking My Baby Back Home (1953), in which he was third-billed under Donald O’Connor and Janet Leigh.

Hackett was an emergency replacement for the similarly built Lou Costello in 1954. Abbott and Costello were set to make a feature-length comedy Fireman, Save My Child, featuring Spike Jones and His City Slickers. Several scenes had been shot with stunt doubles when Lou Costello was forced to withdraw due to illness. Universal-International salvaged the project by hiring Hugh O’Brian and Hackett to take over the Abbott and Costello roles, using already shot footage of the comedy duo in some long shots; Jones and his band became the main attraction.

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Hackett became known to a wider audience when he appeared on television in the 1950s and ’60s as a frequent guest on variety talk shows hosted by Jack Paar and Arthur Godfrey, telling brash, often off-color jokes, and mugging at the camera. Hackett was a frequent guest on both the Jack Paar and the Johnny Carson versions of The Tonight Show. According to the board game Trivial Pursuit, Hackett has the distinction of making the most guest appearances in the history of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

screenshot-2017-01-15-15-50-04During this time, he also appeared as a panelist and mystery guest on CBS-TV’s What’s My Line? and filled in as emcee for the game show Treasure Hunt. He made fifteen guest appearances on NBC-TV’s The Perry Como Show between 1955 and 1961.

Stanley

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Hackett starred as the title character on NBC-TV’s Stanley, a 1956-57 situation comedy which ran for 19 weeks on Monday evenings at 8:30 pm EST. The half hour series also featured a young Carol Burnett and the voice of Paul Lynde. The Max Liebman produced program aired live before a studio audience and was one of the last sitcoms from New York to do so. Stanley revolved around the adventures of the titular character (Hackett) as the operator of a newsstand in a posh New York City hotel. On September 30, 1960, he appeared as himself in an episode of NBC’s short-lived crime drama Dan Raven, starring Skip Homeier, set on the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood.

screenshot-2017-01-15-15-53-29After starring on Broadway in I Had a Ball, Hackett appeared opposite Robert Preston in the film adaptation of The Music Man (1962). In It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Hackett was paired with Mickey Rooney, with whom he had also recently made Everything’s Ducky (1961), in which they played two sailors who smuggle a talking duck aboard a Navy ship. Children became familiar with him as lovable hippie auto mechanic Tennessee Steinmetz in Disney‘s The Love Bug (1969).

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He appeared many times on the game show Hollywood Squares in the late 1960s. In one episode, Hackett was asked which was the country with the highest ratio of doctors to populace; he answered Israel, or in his words, “The country with the most Jews.” Despite the audience roaring with laughter (and Hackett’s own belief that the actual answer was Sweden), the answer turned out to be correct. Hackett’s regular guest shots on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show in the early 1960s were rewarded with a coveted appearance on his final program on March 29, 1962.

Later career

Hackett continued to appear on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show until Carson left the series in 1992.

screenshot-2017-01-15-16-07-25In 1978, Hackett surprised many with his dramatic performance as Lou Costello in the television movie Bud and Lou opposite Harvey Korman as Bud Abbott. The film told the story of Abbott and Costello, and Hackett’s portrayal was widely praised. He and Korman did a memorable rendition of the team’s famous “Who’s on First?” routine. In 1979, Hackett was the voice of the groundhog “Pardon Me Pete,”,and the narrator of the Rankin/Bass Christmas special Jack Frost (1979). He starred in the 1980 film Hey Babe!. That same year, he hosted a syndicated revival of the 1950-61 Groucho Marx quiz show You Bet Your Life which lasted for one year. Throughout the 1970s Hackett appeared regularly in TV ads for Tuscan Dairy popsicles and yogurt. But his most famous television campaign was for Lay’s potato chips (“Nobody can eat just one!”) which ran from 1968–71; Hackett had succeeded Bert Lahr as Lay’s spokesman. He guest-starred in the Space Rangers episode, “To Be Or Not To Be,” as has-been comedian Lenny Hacker, a parody of his stage persona. The character’s name was Hackett’s own real name.

 

Other

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For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Hackett was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2000, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.

In April 1998, Hackett guest starred in an episode of LateLine called “Buddy Hackett.” The episode focused on a news broadcast paying tribute to Hackett following his death, only to discover that the report of his death was a mistake. Robert Reich and Dick Gephardt also appeared in the episode, paying tribute to Hackett.

In his final years, Hackett had a recurring spot called “Tuesdays with Buddy” on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn in which he shared stories of his career and delivered some of his comedic routines.

 

Personal life

screenshot-2017-01-15-16-05-36On June 12, 1955, Hackett married Sherry Cohen. They lived in Leonia, New Jersey in the late 1950s. In August 1958, they bought the house previously owned by deceased crime boss Albert Anastasia in Fort Lee, New Jersey. After renovations, they moved in and lived there through most of the 1960s. In 2003, Hackett and his wife established the Singita Animal Sanctuary in California’s San Fernando Valley.

He was an avid firearms collector and owned a large collection that he sold off in his later years due to declining health.

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Death

Hackett died on June 30, 2003 at his beach house in Malibu, California at the age of 78. His son, comedian Sandy Hackett, said his father had been suffering from diabetes for several years and suffered a stroke nearly a week before his death which may have contributed to his demise. Two days later, on July 2, 2003, he was cremated and his ashes were given to family and friends.

 

 

 

Carol Burnett

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Carol Creighton Burnett (born April 26, 1933) is an American actress, comedian, singer, and writer, whose career spans six decades of television. She is best known for her long-running TV variety show, The Carol Burnett Show, originally aired on CBS. She has achieved success on stage, television, and film in varying genres including dramatic and comedy roles. She also has appeared on various talk shows and as a panelist on game shows.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Burnett moved with her grandmother to Hollywood, where she attended Hollywood High School and eventually studied theater and musical comedy at UCLA. Later she performed in nightclubs in New York City and had a breakout success on Broadway in 1959 in Once Upon a Mattress, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. She soon made her television debut, regularly appearing on The Garry Moore Show for the next three years, and won her first Emmy Award in 1962. In 1963, she was the star of the Dallas State Fair Musicals presentation of “Calamity Jane.” Burnett moved to Los Angeles and began an 11-year run as star of The Carol Burnett Show on CBS television from 1967 to 1978. With its vaudeville roots, The Carol Burnett Show was a variety show that combined comedy sketches with song and dance. The comedy sketches included film parodies and character pieces. Burnett created many memorable characters during the show’s run, and both she and the show won numerous Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.

During and after her variety show, Burnett appeared in many television and film projects. Her film roles include Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972), The Front Page (1974), The Four Seasons (1981), Annie (1982), Noises Off (1992), and Horton Hears a Who! (2008). On television, she has appeared in other sketch shows; in dramatic roles in 6 Rms Riv Vu (1974) and Friendly Fire (1979); in various well-regarded guest roles, such as in Mad About You, for which she won an Emmy Award; and in specials with Julie Andrews, Dolly Parton, Beverly Sills, and others. She returned to the Broadway stage in 1995 in Moon Over Buffalo, for which she was again nominated for a Tony.

 

Early life

screenshot-2016-12-11-18-18-23Burnett was born on April 26, 1933, the daughter of Ina Louise (née Creighton), a publicity writer for movie studios, and Joseph Thomas Burnett, a movie theater manager. Both of her parents were alcoholics, and at a young age, she was left with her grandmother, Mabel Eudora White. Burnett’s parents divorced in the late 1930s, and she and her grandmother moved to an apartment near Burnett’s mother’s in an impoverished area of Hollywood. There they stayed in a boarding house with Burnett’s younger half-sister, Chrissie. When Burnett was in second grade, she briefly invented an imaginary twin sister named Karen, with Shirley Temple-like dimples. Motivated to further the pretence, Burnett fondly recalls that she “fooled the other boarders in the rooming house where we lived by frantically switching clothes and dashing in and out of the house by the fire escape and the front door. Then I became exhausted and Karen mysteriously vanished.”

For a while, she worked as an usherette at what is now the Hollywood Pacific Theatre (the forecourt of which is now the location of her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After graduating from Hollywood High School in 1951, Burnett received an anonymous envelope containing $50 for one year’s tuition at UCLA, where she initially planned on studying journalism. During her first year of college, Burnett switched her focus to theater arts and English, with the goal of becoming a playwright. She found she had to take an acting course to enter the playwright program — “I wasn’t really ready to do the acting thing, but I had no choice,” she recalled. She followed a sudden impulse in her first performance.

“Don’t ask me why, but when we were in front of the audience, I suddenly decided I was going to stretch out all my words and my first line came out ‘I’m baaaaaaaack!'” The audience response moved her deeply:

“They laughed and it felt great. All of a sudden, after so much coldness and emptiness in my life, I knew the sensation of all that warmth wrapping around me. I had always been a quiet, shy, sad sort of girl and then everything changed for me. You spend the rest of your life hoping you’ll hear a laugh that great again.”

During this time, Burnett performed in several university productions, garnering recognition for her comedic and musical abilities. Her mother disapproved of her acting ambitions:

“She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like. When I was growing up she told me to be a little lady, and a couple of times I got a whack for crossing my eyes or making funny faces. Of course, she never, I never, dreamed I would ever perform.”

The young Burnett, always insecure about her looks, responded many years afterward to her mother’s advice, “You can always write, no matter what you look like,” in Burnett’s memoir One More Time (1986), noting, “God, that hurt!”

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During her senior year at UCLA, a professor invited Burnett and some other students to perform at a party in place of their class final that had been canceled (which required a performance in front of an audience). Afterward, a man and his wife approached Burnett while Carol was stuffing cookies in her purse to take home to her grandmother. Instead of reprimanding her, the man complimented Burnett’s performance and asked about her future plans. When he learned she wished to travel to New York in order to try her luck in musical comedy but couldn’t afford the trip, right then and there he offered Carol and her boyfriend Don Saroyan each a $1,000 interest-free loan. His conditions were simply that the loans were to be repaid within five years, his name was never to be revealed, and if she achieved success, she would help other aspiring talents to pursue their artistic dreams. Burnett took him up on his offer; she and Saroyan left college and moved to New York to pursue acting careers. That same year, Burnett’s father died of causes related to his alcoholism.

 

Career

Early career

After spending her first year in New York working as a hat-check girl and failing to land acting jobs, Burnett along with other girls living at the Rehearsal Club, a boarding house for women seriously pursuing an acting career, put on The Rehearsal Club Revue on March 3, 1955. They mailed invitations to agents, who showed up along with stars like Celeste Holm and Marlene Dietrich, and this opened doors for several of the girls. Burnett was cast in a minor role on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show in 1955. She played the girlfriend of a ventriloquist’s dummy on the popular children’s program. This role led to her starring role opposite Buddy Hackett in the short-lived sitcom Stanley from 1956 to 1957. In the 1950s, a young Carol Burnett was working as an usherette when the theater was showing Alfred Hitchcock‘s Strangers on a Train (1951). Having already seen the film and loving it, she advised two patrons arriving during the last ten minutes of a showing to wait until the beginning of the next showing to avoid spoiling the ending for them. The manager observed Burnett, let the couple in, then callously fired her, stripping the epaulettes from her uniform. Years later in the 1970s after achieving TV stardom, when the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offered her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, they asked her where she wanted it. She replied “Right in front of where the old Warner Brothers Theater was, at Hollywood and Wilcox”, which is where it was placed, at 6439 Hollywood Blvd.

After Stanley, Burnett found herself unemployed for a short time. She eventually bounced back a few months later as a highly popular performer on the New York circuit of cabarets and night clubs, most notably for a hit parody number called “I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles” (Dulles was Secretary of State at the time). In 1957, Burnett performed this number on both The Tonight Show, hosted by Jack Paar, and The Ed Sullivan Show. Dulles was asked about Carol Burnett on Meet the Press and joked, “I never discuss matters of the heart in public.”

Burnett also worked as a regular on one of television’s earliest game shows, Pantomime Quiz, during this time. In 1957, just as Burnett was achieving her first small successes, her mother died.

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Burnett’s first true taste of success came with her appearance on Broadway in the 1959 musical Once Upon a Mattress, for which she was nominated for a Tony. The same year, she became a regular player on The Garry Moore Show, a job that lasted until 1962. She won an Emmy that year for her “Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series” on the show. Burnett portrayed a number of characters, most memorably the put-upon cleaning woman who would later become her signature alter-ego. With her success on the Moore Show, Burnett finally rose to headliner status and appeared in the special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall (1962), co-starring with her friend Julie Andrews. The show was produced by Bob Banner, directed by Joe Hamilton, and written by Mike Nichols and Ken Welch. Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Music, and Burnett won an Emmy for her performance. Burnett also guest-starred on a number of shows during this time, including The Twilight Zone episode “Cavender is Coming.”

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In 1964, Burnett starred in the Broadway musical Fade Out – Fade In but was forced to withdraw after sustaining a neck injury in a taxi accident. She returned to the show later but withdrew again to participate in a variety show, The Entertainers, opposite Caterina Valente and Bob Newhart. The producers of Fade Out – Fade In sued the actress for breach of contract after her absences from the popular show caused its failure, but the suit was later dropped. The Entertainers ran for only one season.

Around the same time, Burnett became good friends with Jim Nabors, who was enjoying great success with his series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. As a result of their close friendship, Burnett played a recurring role on Nabors’ show as a tough corporal, later gunnery sergeant. Nabors would later be her first guest every season on her variety show.

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In 1966, Lucille Ball became a friend and mentor to Burnett. After having guested on Burnett’s highly successful CBS-TV special Carol + 2 and having the younger performer reciprocate by appearing on The Lucy Show, Ball reportedly offered Burnett her own sitcom called “Here’s Agnes,” to be produced by Desilu Productions. Burnett declined the offer, not wanting to commit herself to a weekly series.

screenshot-2016-12-11-18-19-39The two remained close friends until Ball’s death in 1989. Ball sent flowers every year on Burnett’s birthday. When Burnett awoke on the day of her 56th birthday in 1989, she discovered via the morning news that Lucille Ball had died. Later that afternoon, flowers arrived at Burnett’s house with a note reading, “Happy Birthday, Kid. Love, Lucy.”

 

 

 

The Carol Burnett Show

In 1967, CBS offered to put Burnett in a weekly comedy series called Here’s Agnes. However, Burnett had a stipulation in her ten-year contract with CBS that said she had five years from the date The Garry Moore Show ended to “push the button” on hosting thirty one-hour episodes of a music/comedy variety show. As a result, the hour-long Carol Burnett Show was born and debuted in September 1967, garnering 23 Emmy Awards and winning or being nominated for multiple Emmy and Golden Globes every season it was on the air. Its ensemble cast included Tim Conway (who was a guest player until the ninth season), Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, and the teenaged Vicki Lawrence, whom Burnett herself discovered and mentored. The network initially did not want her to do a variety show because they believed only men could be successful at variety, but Burnett’s contract required that they give her one season of whatever kind of show she wanted to make. She chose to carry on the tradition of past variety show successes.

A true variety show, The Carol Burnett Show struck a chord with viewers. Among other things, it parodied films (“Went With the Wind” for Gone With the Wind), television (“As the Stomach Turns” for the soap opera As the World Turns) and commercials. Musical numbers were also a frequent feature. Burnett and her team struck gold with the original sketch “The Family”, which eventually was spun off into its own television show called Mama’s Family, starring Vicki Lawrence.

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Burnett opened most shows with an impromptu question-and-answer session with the audience, lasting a few minutes, during which she often demonstrated her ability to humorously ad lib. On numerous occasions, she obliged when asked to perform her trademark Tarzan yell.

Burnett ended each show by tugging on her left ear, which was a message to her grandmother who raised her. This was done to let her know that she was doing well and that she loved her. During the show’s run, Burnett’s grandmother died. On an Intimate Portrait episode on Burnett, she tearfully recalled her grandmother’s last moments: “She said to my husband Joe from her hospital bed ‘Joe, you see that spider up there?’ There was no spider, but Joe said he did anyhow. She said ‘Every few minutes a big spider jumps on that little spider and they go at it like rabbits!!’ And then she died. There’s laughter in everything!”

The Carol Burnett Show ceased production in 1978, Four post-script episodes were produced and aired on ABC during the summer of 1979 under the title, Carol Burnett & Company basically using the same format and, with the exception of Harvey Korman and Lyle Waggoner, the same supporting cast. Beginning in 1977, the comedy sketches of Burnett’s series were edited into half-hour episodes entitled Carol Burnett and Friends, which, for many years, proved to be extremely popular in syndication. In January 2015, Carol Burnett and Friends began airing on MeTV.

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Other roles

screenshot-2016-12-11-18-19-20Burnett starred in a few films while her variety show was running, including Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972). She was nominated for an Emmy in 1974 for her role in the drama 6 Rms Riv Vu. After her show ended, Burnett assumed a number of roles that departed from comedy. She appeared in several dramatic roles, most notably in the television movie Friendly Fire. She appeared as Beatrice O’Reilly in the film Life of The Party: The Story of Beatrice, a story about a woman fighting her alcoholism. Her other film work includes The Four Seasons (1981), Annie (1982), and Noises Off (1992). She also returned in 2005 to star in a different role as Queen Aggravain in the movie version of Once Upon a Mattress. She guest-starred in season two of Desperate Housewives as Bree’s stepmother, Elanor Mason.

Burnett was the first celebrity to appear on the children’s series Sesame Street, on that series’ first episode on November 10, 1969. She also made occasional returns to the stage in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1974, she appeared at The Muny Theater in St. Louis, Missouri, in I Do! I Do! with Rock Hudson, and eleven years later, she took the supporting role of Carlotta Campion in the 1985 concert performance of Stephen Sondheim‘s Follies. Burnett made frequent appearances as a panelist on the game show Password, an association she maintained until the early 1980s (in fact, Mark Goodson awarded her his Silver Password All-Stars Award for best celebrity player; she’s also credited with coming up with the title Password Plus, when it was originally planned to be titled Password ’79).

In the 1980s and 1990s, Burnett made several attempts at starting a new variety program. She also appeared briefly on The Carol Burnett Show’sThe Family” sketches spinoff, Mama’s Family, as her stormy character, Eunice Higgins. She played the matriarch in the cult comedy miniseries Fresno, which parodied the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest. She returned to TV in the mid-1990s as a supporting character on the sitcom Mad About You, playing Theresa Stemple, the mother of main character Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt), for which she won another Emmy Award. In 1995, after an absence of 30 years, she was back on Broadway in Moon Over Buffalo, for which she was nominated for a Tony. Four years later, she appeared in the Broadway revue Putting It Together.

Burnett has long been a fan of the soap opera All My Children. She realized a dream when Agnes Nixon created the role of Verla Grubbs for her in 1976. Burnett played the long-lost daughter of Langley Wallingford (Louis Edmonds), causing trouble for her stepmother Phoebe Tyler-Wallingford (Ruth Warrick). She made occasional appearances on the soap opera in each decade thereafter. She hosted a 25th-anniversary special about the show in 1995 and made a brief cameo appearance as Verla Grubbs on the January 5, 2005, episode which celebrated the show’s 35th anniversary. Burnett reprised her role as Grubbs in September 2011 as part of the series’ finale.

In 2008, Burnett had her second role as an animated character in the film Horton Hears a Who!. Her first was in The Trumpet of the Swan in 2001. In 2009, she made a guest appearance on the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, for which she was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. In November 2010, she guest-starred on an episode of Glee as the mother of cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. In 2012 she had another voice role in The Secret World of Arrietty. She has made a recurring role, traditionally on Thanksgiving-themed episodes, of Hawaii Five-0 as Steve McGarrett’s Aunt Debbie since 2013, until Aunt Deb died from cancer in the January 15, 2016 episode.

 

Personal life

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Burnett married her college sweetheart Don Saroyan on December 15, 1955; they divorced in 1962. On May 4, 1963, Burnett married TV producer Joe Hamilton, a divorced father of eight, who had produced her 1962 Carnegie Hall concert and would produce The Carol Burnett Show, among other projects. The couple had three daughters:

 

  • Carrie Hamilton, born December 5, 1963 – died January 20, 2002 (at age 38) of lung and brain cancer. She was an actress and singer.
  • Jody Hamilton, born January 18, 1967
  • Erin Hamilton, born August 14, 1968. She is a singer.

Their marriage ended in divorce in 1984, and Hamilton died of cancer in 1991. On November 24, 2001, Burnett married Brian Miller, principal drummer in and contractor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, who is 23 years her junior.

Burnett is good friends with Julie Andrews, Betty White, Jim Nabors, was close with the late Beverly Sills and Lucille Ball, and is the acting mentor to her protégée Vicki Lawrence. They share a close friendship, as noted by Lawrence in a testimonial speech during her appearance at Burnett’s 2013 Mark Twain Award in Washington, D.C. (recorded and broadcast on PBS Television).

In 1981, actress Carol Burnett won a judgment against the Enquirer after it claimed she had been seen drunk in public at a restaurant with Henry Kissinger in attendance. The fact that both of her parents suffered from alcoholism made this a particularly sensitive issue to Burnett.

 

Memoirs and related works

Burnett and her oldest daughter, Carrie Hamilton, co-wrote Hollywood Arms (2002), a play based on Burnett’s bestselling memoir, One More Time (1986). Sara Niemietz and Donna Lynne Champlin shared the role of Helen (the character based on Burnett); Michele Pawk played Louise, Helen’s mother, and Linda Lavin played Helen’s grandmother. For her performance, Pawk received the 2003 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.

In 2010, Burnett wrote the memoir This Time Together.

In 2016, Burnett wrote the behind-the-scenes memoir In Such Good Company.

 

 

Charles Bronson

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Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky; November 3, 1921 – August 30, 2003) was a Lithuanian-American film and television actor.

He starred in films such as Once Upon a Time in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, Rider on the Rain, The Mechanic, and the Death Wish series. He was often cast in the role of a police officer, gunfighter, or vigilante in revenge-oriented plot lines. He had long collaborations with film directors Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson. In 1965, he was featured as Major Wolenski in Battle of the Bulge.

 

Early life and World War II service

Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky in Ehrenfeld in Cambria County in the  coal region of the Allegheny Mountains north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

He was the 11th of 15 children born to a Lithuanian immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father, Walter Bunchinski (who later adjusted his surname to Buchinsky to sound more “American”), hailed from the town of Druskininkai. Bronson’s mother, Mary (née Valinsky), whose parents were from Lithuania, was born in the coal mining town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. He learned to speak English when he was a teenager; before that, he spoke Lithuanian and Russian.

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Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. When Bronson was 10 years old, his father died. Young Charles went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine. He later said he earned one dollar for each ton of coal that he mined. He worked in the mine until he entered military service during World War II. His family was so poor that at one time, he said, he had to wear his sister’s dress to school because of his lack of clothing.

screenshot-2016-11-09-11-43-49In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the US Army Air Force. He served in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress aerial gunner with the Guam-based 61st Bombardment Squadron within the 39th Bombardment Group, which conducted combat missions against the Japanese home islands. Bronson, a corporal, flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle.

 

Acting career

Early roles, 1951–1959

After the end of World War II, Bronson worked at many odd jobs until joining a theatrical group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He later shared an apartment in New York City with Jack Klugman while both were aspiring to play on the stage. In 1950, he married and moved to Hollywood, where he enrolled in acting classes and began to find small roles.

screenshot-2016-11-09-11-52-50Bronson’s first film role — an uncredited one — was as a sailor in You’re in the Navy Now in 1951. Other early screen appearances were in Pat and Mike, Miss Sadie Thompson and House of Wax (as Vincent Price‘s mute henchman, Igor). In 1952, Bronson boxed in a ring with Roy Rogers in Rogers’ show Knockout. He appeared on an episode of The Red Skelton Show as a boxer in a skit with Skelton playing “Cauliflower McPugg.” He also had a part credited as Charles Buchinsky in a western named Riding Shotgun, starring Randolph Scott. In 1954, Bronson made a strong impact in Drum Beat as a murderous Modoc warrior, Captain Jack, who relishes wearing the tunics of soldiers he has killed.

In 1954, during the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) proceedings, he changed his surname from Buchinsky to Bronson at the suggestion of his agent, who feared that an Eastern European surname might damage his career. He reportedly took his inspiration from the Bronson Gate at the studios of Paramount Pictures, situated on the corner of Melrose Avenue and Bronson Street.

He made several appearances on television in the 1950s and 1960s, including a 1952 segment, with fellow guest star Lee Marvin, of Biff Baker, U.S.A., an espionage series on CBS starring Alan Hale, Jr., and played a killer named Crego in Gunsmoke (1956). Bronson had the lead role of the episode “The Apache Kid” of the syndicated crime drama Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield; Bronson was subsequently cast twice in 1959 after the series was renamed U.S. Marshal. He guest-starred in the short-lived CBS situation comedy, Hey, Jeannie! and in three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: And So Died Riabouchinska (1956), There Was an Old Woman (1956), and The Woman Who Wanted to Live (1962). In 1957, Bronson was cast in the Western series Colt .45 as an outlaw named Danny Arnold in the episode “Young Gun.” He also scored the lead in his own ABC detective series, Man with a Camera (from 1958 to 1960), in which he portrayed Mike Kovac, a former combat photographer freelancing in New York City. In 1959, he played Steve Ogrodowski, a naval intelligence officer, in two episodes of the CBS military sitcom/drama, Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper. Bronson starred alongside Elizabeth Montgomery in The Twilight Zone episode “Two” (1961). He appeared in five episodes of Richard Boone‘s Have Gun – Will Travel (1957–1963).

In 1958, he was cast in his first lead film role in Roger Corman‘s Machine-Gun Kelly, followed by the lead role in the WWII film, When Hell Broke Loose later the same year.

 

Success, 1960–1968

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Bronson was cast in the 1960 episode “Zigzag” of Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. That same year, he was cast as “Dutch Malkin” in the 1960 episode “The Generous Politician” of The Islanders. In 1960, he garnered attention in John SturgesThe Magnificent Seven, in which he was cast as one of seven gunfighters taking up the cause of the defenseless. During filming, Bronson was a loner who kept to himself, according to Eli Wallach. He received $50,000 for a role that made him a favorite actor of many in the since disbanded Soviet Union, such as Vladimir Vysotsky.

Two years later, Sturges cast him in another Hollywood production, The Great Escape, as claustrophobic Polish prisoner of war Flight Lieutenant Danny Velinski, nicknamed “The Tunnel King” (coincidentally, Bronson was really claustrophobic because of his childhood work in a mine).

In 1961, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his supporting role in an episode entitled “Memory in White” of CBS’s General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan. In 1962, he played alongside Elvis Presley as his loyal trainer, Lew Nyack, in Kid Galahad. In 1963, Bronson co-starred in the NBC Western series Empire. In the 1963–1964 television season he portrayed Linc, the stubborn wagon master in the ABC western series, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters. In the 1965–1966 season, he guest-starred in an episode of The Legend of Jesse James. In 1965, Bronson was cast as a demolitions expert in an episode of ABC’s Combat!.

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Thereafter, in The Dirty Dozen (1967), he played an Army death row convict conscripted into a suicide mission. In 1967, he guest starred as Ralph Schuyler, an undercover government agent in the episode “The One That Got Away” on ABC’s The Fugitive.

 

European roles and rise with United Artists, 1968–1973

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Bronson made a serious name for himself in European films. In 1968, he starred as Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West. The director, Sergio Leone, once called him “the greatest actor I ever worked with,” and had wanted to cast Bronson for the lead in 1964’s A Fistful of Dollars. Bronson turned him down and the role launched Clint Eastwood to film stardom. In 1970, Bronson starred in the French film Rider on the Rain, which won a Hollywood Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The following year, this overseas fame earned him a special Golden Globe Henrietta Award for “World Film Favorite – Male” together with Sean Connery. In 1972 he began a string of successful action films for United Artists, beginning with Chato’s Land, although he had done several films for UA before this in the 1960s. One film UA brought into the domestic mainstream was Violent City, an Italian-made film originally released overseas in 1970.

 

Death Wish series and departure from UA, 1974–1980

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Bronson’s most famous role came when he was age 52, in Death Wish (Paramount, 1974), the most popular film of his long association with director Michael Winner. He played Paul Kersey, a successful New York architect who turns into a crime-fighting vigilante after his wife is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted. This successful movie spawned various sequels over the next two decades, all starring Bronson.

In 1974, he had the title role in the Elmore Leonard film adaptation Mr. Majestyk, as an army veteran and farmer who battles local gangsters. For Walter Hill‘s Hard Times (1975), he starred as a Depression-era street fighter making his living in illegal bare-knuckled matches in Louisiana. He earned good reviews. Bronson reached his pinnacle in box-office drawing power in 1975, when he was ranked 4th, behind only Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, and Al Pacino. His stint at UA came to an end in 1977 with The White Buffalo.

 

Cannon Films era and final roles, 1981–1994

He was considered for the role of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York (1981), but director John Carpenter thought he was too tough looking and too old for the part, and decided to cast Kurt Russell instead. In the years between 1976 and 1994, Bronson commanded high salaries to star in numerous films made by smaller production companies, most notably Cannon Films, for whom some of his last films were made. Many of them were directed by J. Lee Thompson, a collaborative relationship that Bronson enjoyed and actively pursued, reportedly because Thompson worked quickly and efficiently. Thompson’s ultra-violent films such as The Evil That Men Do (TriStar Pictures, 1984) and 10 to Midnight (1983) were blasted by critics, but provided Bronson with well-paid work throughout the 1980s. Bronson’s last starring role in a theatrically released film was 1994’s Death Wish V: The Face of Death.

 

Personal life

screenshot-2016-11-09-11-47-01His first marriage was to Harriet Tendler, whom he met when both were fledgling actors in Philadelphia. They had two children before divorcing in 1965. She wrote in her memoir that she “was an 18-year-old virgin when she met the 26-year-old Charlie Buchinsky at a Philadelphia acting school in 1947. Two years later, with the grudging consent of her father, a successful, Jewish dairy farmer, Tendler wed Bunchinsky, the Catholic Lithuanian and former coal miner. Tendler supported them both while she and Charlie pursued their acting dreams. On their first date, he had four cents in his pocket — and went on, now as Charles Bronson, to become one of the highest paid actors in the country.”

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Bronson  then married English actress Jill Ireland. They remained together from October 5, 1968, until her death in 1990. He had met her in 1962, when she was married to Scottish actor David McCallum. At the time, Bronson (who shared the screen with McCallum in The Great Escape) reportedly told him, “I’m going to marry your wife.”

The Bronsons lived in a grand Bel Air mansion in Los Angeles with seven children: two by his previous marriage, three by hers (one of whom was adopted) and two of their own (another one of whom was adopted). After they married, she often played his leading lady, and they starred in fourteen films together.

In order to maintain a close family, they would load up everyone and take them to wherever filming was taking place, so they could all be together. They spent time in a colonial farmhouse on 260 acres in West Windsor, Vermont. Ireland raised horses and provided training for their daughter Zuleika so that she could perform at the higher levels of horse showing. Their Vermont farm was named after her, the only natural child between them. During the late 1980s through the mid-1990s Bronson regularly spent winter holidays vacationing with his family in Snowmass, Colorado.

On May 18, 1990, aged 54, after a long battle with the disease, Jill Ireland died of breast cancer at their home in Malibu, California. In December 1998, Bronson was married a third time. to Kim Weeks, a former employee of Dove Audio who had helped record Ireland in the production of her audiobooks. The couple were married for five years until Bronson’s death in 2003.

 

Death

Bronson’s health deteriorated in later years, and he retired from acting after undergoing hip-replacement surgery in 1998. He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in his final years. Bronson died of pneumonia at age 81 on August 30, 2003 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was interred at Brownsville Cemetery in West Windsor, Vermont.

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Clint Eastwoood

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Clinton “Clint” Eastwood Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American actor, filmmaker, musician, and political figure. After earning success in the Western TV series Rawhide, he rose to international fame with his role as the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone‘s Dollars trilogy of spaghetti Westerns during the 1960s, and as antihero cop Harry Callahan in the five Dirty Harry films throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These roles, among others, have made Eastwood an enduring cultural icon of masculinity.

For his work in the Western film Unforgiven (1992) and the sports drama Million Dollar Baby (2004), Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture, as well as receiving nominations for Best Actor. Eastwood’s greatest commercial successes have been the adventure comedy Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and its sequel, the action comedy Any Which Way You Can (1980), after adjustment for inflation.

Other popular films include the Western The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (1966), Hang ‘Em High (1968), the psychological thriller Play Misty for Me (1971), the crime film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), the Western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), the prison film Escape from Alcatraz (1979), the action film Firefox (1982), the suspense thriller Tightrope (1984), the Western Pale Rider (1985), the war films Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Heartbreak Ridge (1986), the action thriller In the Line of Fire (1993), the romantic drama The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and the drama Gran Torino (2008).

In addition to directing many of his own star vehicles, Eastwood has also directed films in which he did not appear, such as the mystery drama Mystic River (2003) and the war film Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), for which he received Academy Award nominations, and the drama Changeling (2008). The war drama biopic American Sniper (2014) set box office records for the largest January release ever and was also the largest opening ever for an Eastwood film.

Eastwood received considerable critical praise in France for several films, including some that were not well received in the United States. Eastwood has been awarded two of France’s highest honors: in 1994 he became a recipient of the Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2007 he was awarded the Legion of Honour medal. In 2000, Eastwood was awarded the Italian Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.

Since 1967, Eastwood has run his own production company, Malpaso, which has produced all except four of his American films. From 1986–88, Eastwood served as Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, a non-partisan office.

 

Early Life

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Eastwood was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr. (1906–1970) and his wife, Margaret Ruth (née Runner) Eastwood (1909–2006). He was nicknamed “Samson” by the hospital nurses because he weighed 11 pounds 6 ounces (5.2 kg) at birth. He has a younger sister, Jeanne (born 1934). Eastwood’s widowed mother later married a retired lumber executive, John Belden Wood (1913–2004), who became stepfather to Clint and Jeanne.

Eastwood is of English, Irish, Scottish, and Dutch ancestry, and was raised in a  working class environment. Eastwood is descended from Mayflower passenger William Bradford, and through this line is the 12th generation of his family born in North America and the 13th generation to live in North America.

His family moved often as his father worked at jobs along the West Coast. They finally settled in Piedmont, California, where Eastwood attended Piedmont Junior High School. Shortly before he was to enter Piedmont High School, he rode his bike on the school’s sports field and tore up the wet turf; this resulted in his being asked not to enroll. Instead, he attended Oakland Technical High School, where the drama teachers encouraged him to take part in school plays. However, Eastwood was not interested. He worked at a number of jobs, including lifeguard, paper carrier, grocery clerk, forest firefighter, and golf caddy.[23]

In 1951, Eastwood enrolled at Seattle University but was then drafted into the United States Army and assigned to Fort Ord in California, where he was appointed as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. While returning from a weekend visit to his parents in Seattle, Washington, he was a passenger on a Douglas AD bomber that ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean near Point Reyes. Escaping from the sinking aircraft, he and the pilot swam three miles (5 km) to safety.

 

Career

1950s: Early career struggles

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 According to the CBS press release for Rawhide, the Universal (known then as Universal-International) film company was shooting in Fort Ord when an enterprising assistant spotted Eastwood and invited him to meet the director. According to Eastwood’s official biography, the key figure was a man named Chuck Hill, who was stationed in Fort Ord and had contacts in Hollywood. While in Los Angeles, Hill became reacquainted with Eastwood and managed to sneak Eastwood into a Universal studio, where he showed him to cameraman Irving Glassberg. Glassberg arranged for an audition under Arthur Lubin, who, although very impressed with Clint’s appearance and stature at 6’4″ (193 cm), disapproved initially of his acting skills, remarking, “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything.” Lubin suggested that he attend drama classes and arranged for Eastwood’s initial contract in April 1954, at $100 per week. After signing, Eastwood was initially criticized for his stiff manner and delivering his lines through his teeth, a lifelong trademark.

In May 1954, Eastwood made his first real audition for Six Bridges to Cross but was rejected by Joseph Pevney. After many unsuccessful auditions, he was eventually given a minor role by director Jack Arnold in Revenge of the Creature (1955), a sequel to the recently released The Creature from the Black Lagoon. In September 1954, Eastwood worked for three weeks on Arthur Lubin’s Lady Godiva of Coventry, won a role in February 1955, playing “Jonesy”, a sailor in Francis in the Navy and appeared uncredited in another Jack Arnold film, Tarantula, where he played a squadron pilot.

In May 1955, Eastwood put four hours’ work into the film Never Say Goodbye and had a minor uncredited role as a ranch hand (his first western film) in August 1955 with Law Man, also known as Star in the Dust. Universal presented him with his first television role on July 2, 1955, on NBC‘s Allen in Movieland, which starred Tony Curtis and Benny Goodman. Although he continued to develop as an actor, Universal terminated his contract on October 23, 1955.

Eastwood joined the Marsh Agency, and although Lubin landed him his biggest role to date in The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) and later hired him for Escapade in Japan, without a formal contract Eastwood was struggling. Upon the advice of Irving Leonard, his financial advisor, he changed talent agencies to the Kumin-Olenick Agency in 1956 and Mitchell Gertz in 1957. He landed several small roles in 1956 as a temperamental army officer for a segment of ABC‘s Reader’s Digest series, and as a motorcycle gang member on a Highway Patrol episode. In 1957, Eastwood played a cadet in West Point series, played a suicidal gold prospector in Death Valley Days. In 1958, he played a Navy lieutenant in a segment of Navy Log and in early 1959 made a notable guest appearance on Maverick opposite James Garner as a cowardly villain intent on marrying a rich girl for money. Eastwood had a small part as an aviator in the French picture Lafayette Escadrille and played a major role as an ex-renegade of the Confederacy in Ambush at Cimarron Pass, a film which Eastwood viewed disastrously and professes to be the lowest point of his career.

In 1958, Eastwood was cast as Rowdy Yates for the CBS hour-long western series Rawhide, the breakthrough in his career he had long been searching for. However, Eastwood was not especially happy with his character; Eastwood was almost 30, and Rowdy was too young and too cloddish for Clint to feel comfortable with the part. Filming began in Arizona in the summer of 1958. It took just three weeks for Rawhide to reach the top 20 in TV ratings and although it never won an Emmy, it was a major success for several years, and reached its peak at number six in the ratings between October 1960 and April 1961. The Rawhide years (1959–65) were some of the most grueling of Eastwood’s career, often filming six days a week for an average of twelve hours a day, yet he still received criticism by some directors for not working hard enough.

By late 1963 Rawhide was beginning to decline in popularity and lacked freshness in the script; it was canceled in the middle of the 1965–66 television season. Eastwood made his first attempt at directing when he filmed several trailers for the show, although he was unable to convince producers to let him direct an episode. In the show’s first season Eastwood earned $750 an episode. At the time of Rawhide‘s cancellation, he received $119,000 an episode as severance pay.

 1960s

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In late 1963, Eastwood’s co-star on Rawhide, Eric Fleming, rejected an offer to star in an Italian-made western called A Fistful of Dollars, to be directed in a remote region of Spain by the then relatively unknown Sergio Leone. Richard Harrison suggested Eastwood to Leone because Harrison knew Eastwood could play a cowboy convincingly. Eastwood thought the film would be an opportunity to escape from his Rawhide image. Eastwood signed a contract for $15,000 in wages for eleven weeks’ work, with a bonus of a Mercedes automobile upon completion.

Eastwood later spoke of the transition from a television western to A Fistful of Dollars: “In Rawhide I did get awfully tired of playing the conventional white hat. The hero who kisses old ladies and dogs and was kind to everybody. I decided it was time to be an anti-hero.” Eastwood was instrumental in creating the Man with No Name character’s distinctive visual style and, although a non-smoker, Leone insisted Eastwood smoke cigars as an essential ingredient of the “mask” he was attempting to create for the loner character.

A Fistful of Dollars proved a landmark in the development of spaghetti Westerns, with Leone depicting a more lawless and desolate world than traditional westerns, and challenging American stereotypes of a western hero with a morally ambiguous antihero. The film’s success made Eastwood a major star in Italy and he was re-hired to star in For a Few Dollars More (1965), the second of the trilogy. Through the efforts of screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni, the rights to For a Few Dollars More and the final film of the trilogy (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) were sold to United Artists for about $900,000.

In January 1966, Eastwood met producer Dino De Laurentiis in New York City and agreed to star in a non-Western five-part anthology production named Le Streghe (“The Witches”) opposite De Laurentiis’ wife, actress Silvana Mangano. Eastwood’s nineteen-minute installment took only a few days to shoot, but his performance did not please the critics, one writing that “no other performance of his is quite so ‘un-Clintlike’.” Two months later Eastwood began work on the third Dollars film, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, again playing the mysterious Man with No Name. Lee Van Cleef returned as a ruthless fortune seeker, with Eli Wallach portraying the cunning Mexican bandit Tuco Ramirez. The storyline involved the search for a cache of Confederate gold buried in a cemetery. During the filming of a scene in which a bridge was blown up, Eastwood urged Wallach to retreat to a hilltop. “I know about these things,” he said. “Stay as far away from special effects and explosives as you can.” Minutes later confusion among the crew over the word “Vaya!” resulted in a premature explosion that could have killed Wallach.

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“I wanted to play it with an economy of words and create this whole feeling through attitude and movement. It was just the kind of character I had envisioned for a long time, keep to the mystery and allude to what happened in the past. It came about after the frustration of doing Rawhide for so long. I felt the less he said, the stronger he became and the more he grew in the imagination of the audience.”

— Eastwood, on playing the Man with No Name character

The Dollars trilogy was not released in the United States until 1967, when A Fistful of Dollars opened in January, followed by For a Few Dollars More in May, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on December 29, 1967. All the films were commercially successful, particularly The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which eventually earned $8 million in rental earnings and turned Eastwood into a major film star. All three films received bad reviews, and marked the beginning of a battle for Eastwood to win American film critics’ respect. Judith Crist described A Fistful of Dollars as “cheapjack,” while Newsweek considered For a Few Dollars More as “excruciatingly dopey.”

Renata Adler of The New York Times said The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was “…the most expensive, pious and repellent movie in the history of its peculiar genre.” Time magazine drew attention to the film’s wooden acting, especially on the part of Eastwood, though a few critics such as Vincent Canby and Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised Eastwood’s coolness in playing the tall, lone stranger. Leone’s cinematography was widely acclaimed, even by critics who disparaged the acting in the film.

Stardom brought more roles for Eastwood. He signed to star in the American revisionist western Hang ‘Em High (1968), featured alongside Inger Stevens, Pat Hingle, Dennis Hopper, Ed Begley, Alan Hale, Ben Johnson, Bruce Dern, and James MacArthur, playing a man who takes up a Marshal’s badge and seeks revenge as a lawman after being lynched by vigilantes and left for dead. The film earned Eastwood a fee of $400,000 and 25 percent of its net box-office takings. Using money earned from the Dollars trilogy, accountant and Eastwood advisor Irving Leonard helped establish Eastwood’s own production company, Malpaso Productions, named after Malpaso Creek on Eastwood’s property in Monterey County, California. Leonard arranged for Hang ‘Em High to be a joint production with United Artists; when it opened in July 1968, it had the largest opening weekend in United Artists’ history. Hang ‘Em High was widely praised by critics, including Archer Winsten of the New York Post, who described it as, “a western of quality, courage, danger and excitement.”

Before the release of Hang ‘Em High, Eastwood had already begun working on Coogan’s Bluff, about an Arizona deputy sheriff tracking a wanted psychopathic criminal (Don Stroud) through the streets of New York City. He was reunited with Universal Studios for it after receiving an offer of $1 million—more than double his previous salary. Jennings Lang arranged for Eastwood to meet Don Siegel, a Universal contract director who later became Eastwood’s close friend, forming a partnership that would last more than ten years and produce five films. Shooting began in November 1967, before the script had been finalized. The film was controversial for its portrayal of violence. Coogan’s Bluff also became the first collaboration with Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, who would later compose the jazzy score to several Eastwood films in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Dirty Harry films.

Eastwood was paid $750,000 in 1968 for the war epic Where Eagles Dare, about a World War II squad parachuting into a Gestapo stronghold in the alpine mountains. Richard Burton played the squad’s commander, with Eastwood as his right-hand man. Eastwood was also cast as Two-Face in the Batman television show, but the series was canceled before filming began.

Eastwood then branched out to star in the only musical of his career, Paint Your Wagon (1969). Eastwood and Lee Marvin play gold miners who buy a Mormon settler’s less favored wife (Jean Seberg) at an auction. Bad weather and delays plagued the production, while the film’s budget eventually exceeded $20 million, which was extremely expensive for the time. The film was not a critical or commercial success, although it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

 1970s

In 1970, Eastwood starred with Shirley MacLaine in the western Two Mules for Sister Sara, directed by Don Siegel. The film follows an American mercenary, who gets mixed up with a prostitute disguised as a nun, and ends up helping a group of Juarista rebels during the reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. Eastwood once again played a mysterious stranger—unshaven, wearing a serape-like vest, and smoking a cigar. Although it received moderate reviews, the film is listed in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. Later the same year, Eastwood starred as one of a group of Americans who steal a fortune in gold from the Nazis, in the World War II film Kelly’s Heroes, with Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas. Kelly’s Heroes was the last film Eastwood appeared in that was not produced by his own Malpaso Productions.

Filming commenced in July 1969 on location in Yugoslavia and in London. The film received mostly a positive reception and its anti-war sentiments were recognized. In the winter of 1969–70, Eastwood and Siegel began planning his next film, The Beguiled, a tale of a wounded Union soldier, held captive by the sexually repressed matron (played by Geraldine Page) of a Southern girls’ school. Upon release the film received major recognition in France and is considered one of Eastwood’s finest works by the French. However, it grossed less than $1 million and, according to Eastwood and Lang, flopped due to poor publicity and the “emasculated” role of Eastwood.

Eastwood’s career reached a turning point in 1971. Before Irving Leonard died, he and Eastwood had discussed the idea of Malpaso producing Play Misty for Me, a film that was to give Eastwood the artistic control he desired, and his debut as a director. The script was about a jazz disc jockey named Dave (Eastwood), who has a casual affair with Evelyn (Jessica Walter), a listener who had been calling the radio station repeatedly at night, asking him to play her favorite song – Erroll Garner‘s Misty. When Dave ends their relationship, the unhinged Evelyn becomes a murderous stalker. Filming commenced in Monterey in September 1970 and included footage of that year’s Monterey Jazz Festival. The film was highly acclaimed with critics, such as Jay Cocks in Time magazine, Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice, and Archer Winsten in the New York Post all praising the film, as well as Eastwood’s directorial skills and performance. Walter was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress Award (Drama), for her performance in the film.

“I know what you’re thinking – Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

— Eastwood, in Dirty Harry

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Dirty Harry (1971), written by Harry and Rita Fink, centers on a hard-edged New York City (later changed to San Francisco) police inspector named Harry Callahan who is determined to stop a psychotic killer by any means. Dirty Harry has been described as being arguably Eastwood’s most memorable character, and the film has been credited with inventing the “loose-cannon cop” genre. Author Eric Lichtenfeld argues that Eastwood’s role as Dirty Harry established the “first true archetype” of the action film genre. His lines  are regarded by firearms historians, such as Garry James and Richard Venola, as the force that catapulted the ownership of .44 Magnum revolvers to new heights in the United States; specifically the Smith & Wesson Model 29 carried by Harry Callahan. Dirty Harry achieved huge success after its release in December 1971, earning $22 million in the United States and Canada alone. It was Siegel’s highest-grossing film and the start of a series of films featuring the character Harry Callahan. Although a number of critics praised Eastwood’s performance as Dirty Harry, such as Jay Cocks of Time magazine who described him as “…giving his best performance so far, tense, tough, full of implicit identification with his character,” the film was also widely criticized as being fascistic.

Following Sean Connery‘s announcement that he would not play James Bond again, Eastwood was offered the role but turned it down because he believed the character should be played by an English actor. He next starred in the loner Western Joe Kidd (1972), based on a character inspired by Reies Lopez Tijerina, who stormed a courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico in June 1967. During filming, Eastwood suffered symptoms of a bronchial infection and several panic attacks. Joe Kidd received a mixed reception, with Roger Greenspun of The New York Times writing that it was unremarkable, with foolish symbolism and sloppy editing, although he praised Eastwood’s performance.

In 1973, Eastwood directed his first western, High Plains Drifter, in which he also starred. The film had a moral and supernatural theme, later emulated in Pale Rider. The plot follows a mysterious stranger (Eastwood) who arrives in a brooding Western town where the people hire him to protect them against three soon-to-be-released felons. There remains confusion during the film as to whether the stranger is the brother of the deputy, whom the felons lynched and murdered, or his ghost. Holes in the plot were filled with black humor and allegory, influenced by Leone. The revisionist film received a mixed reception, but was a major box office success. A number of critics thought Eastwood’s directing was “as derivative as it was expressive,” with Arthur Knight of the Saturday Review remarking that Eastwood had “…absorbed the approaches of Siegel and Leone and fused them with his own paranoid vision of society.” John Wayne, who had declined a role in the film, sent a letter to Eastwood soon after the film’s release in which he complained that, “The townspeople did not represent the true spirit of the American pioneer, the spirit that made America great.”

Eastwood next turned his attention towards Breezy (1973), a film about love blossoming between a middle-aged man and a teenage girl. During casting for the film Eastwood met Sondra Locke for the first time, an actress who would play major roles in six of his films over the next ten years and would become an important figure in his life. Kay Lenz got the part of Breezy because Locke, at age 29, was considered too old. The film, shot very quickly and efficiently by Eastwood and Frank Stanley, came in $1 million under budget and was finished three days ahead of schedule. Breezy was not a major critical or commercial success and it was only made available on video in 1998.

Once filming of Breezy had finished, Warners announced that Eastwood had agreed to reprise his role as Callahan in Magnum Force (1973), a sequel to Dirty Harry, about a group of rogue young officers (among them David Soul, Robert Urich and Tim Matheson) in the San Francisco Police Department who systematically exterminate the city’s worst criminals. Although the film was a major success after release, grossing $58.1 million in the United States (a record for Eastwood), it was not a critical success. The New York Times critic Nora Sayre panned the often contradictory moral themes of the film, while the paper’s Frank Rich called it “the same old stuff.”

In 1974, Eastwood teamed up with Jeff Bridges and George Kennedy in the buddy action caper Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a road movie about a veteran bank robber Thunderbolt (Eastwood) and a young con man drifter, Lightfoot (Bridges). On its release, in spring 1974, the film was praised for its offbeat comedy mixed with high suspense and tragedy but was only a modest success at the box office, earning $32.4 million. Eastwood’s acting was noted by critics, but was overshadowed by Bridges who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Eastwood reportedly fumed at the lack of Academy Award recognition for him and swore that he would never work for United Artists again.

Eastwood’s next film The Eiger Sanction (1975) was based on Trevanian‘s critically acclaimed spy novel of the same name. Eastwood plays Jonathan Hemlock in a role originally intended for Paul Newman, an assassin turned college art professor who decides to return to his former profession for one last “sanction” in return for a rare Pissarro painting. In the process he must climb the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland under perilous conditions. Mike Hoover taught Eastwood how to climb during several weeks of preparation at Yosemite in the summer of 1974 before filming commenced in Grindelwald, Switzerland on August 12, 1974. Despite prior warnings about the perils of the Eiger the film crew suffered a number of accidents, including one fatality. Despite the danger, Eastwood insisted on doing all his own climbing and stunts. Upon release in May 1975 The Eiger Sanction was a commercial failure, receiving only $23.8 million at the box office, and was poorly received by most critics. Joy Gould Boyum of the Wall Street Journal dismissed the film as “brutal fantasy.” Eastwood blamed Universal Studios for the film’s poor promotion and turned his back on them to make an agreement with Warner Brothers, through Frank Wells, that has lasted to the present day.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), a western inspired by Asa Carter‘s 1972 novel of the same name, has lead character Josey Wales (Eastwood) as a pro-Confederate guerilla who refuses to surrender his arms after the American Civil War and is chased across the old southwest by a group of enforcers. Eastwood’s costars were Locke (for the first time) and Chief Dan George. Director Philip Kaufman was fired by producer Bob Daley under Eastwood’s command, resulting in a fine reported to be around $60,000 from the Directors Guild of America—who subsequently passed new legislation reserving the right to impose a major fine on a producer for discharging and replacing a director. The film was pre-screened at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities in Idaho during a six-day conference entitled Western Movies: Myths and Images. Invited to the screening were a number of esteemed film critics, including Jay Cocks and Arthur Knight; directors such as King Vidor, William Wyler, and Howard Hawks; and a number of academics.

Upon release in the summer of 1976 The Outlaw Josey Wales was widely acclaimed, with many critics and viewers seeing Eastwood’s role as an iconic one that related to America’s ancestral past and the destiny of the nation after the American Civil War. Roger Ebert compared the nature and vulnerability of Eastwood’s portrayal of Josey Wales with his Man with No Name character in the Dollars westerns and praised the film’s atmosphere.] The film would later appear in Time‘s “Top 10 Films of the Year.”

Eastwood was then offered the role of Benjamin L. Willard in Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, but declined as he did not want to spend weeks on location in the Philippines. He also refused the part of a platoon leader in Ted Post‘s Vietnam War film, Go Tell the Spartans and instead decided to make a third Dirty Harry film, The Enforcer. The film had Callahan partnered with a new female officer (Tyne Daly) to face a San Francisco Bay area group resembling the Symbionese Liberation Army. The film, culminating in a shootout on Alcatraz island, was considerably shorter than the previous Dirty Harry films at 95 minutes, but was a major commercial success grossing $100 million worldwide to become Eastwood’s highest-grossing film to date.

In 1977, he directed and starred in The Gauntlet opposite Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, and Mara Corday. Eastwood portrays a down-and-out cop assigned to escort a prostitute from Las Vegas to Phoenix to testify against the mafia. Although a moderate hit with the viewing public, critics had mixed feelings about the film, with many believing it was overly violent. Ebert, in contrast, gave the film three stars and called it “… classic Clint Eastwood: fast, furious, and funny.”

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The following year, he starred in Every Which Way But Loose in an uncharacteristic offbeat comedy role. He played Philo Beddoe, a trucker and brawler who roams the American West searching for a lost love (Locke) accompanied by his brother (played by Geoffrey Lewis) and an orangutan called Clyde. The film proved surprisingly successful upon its release and became Eastwood’s most commercially successful film up to that time. Panned by critics, it ranked high among the box office successes of his career and was the second-highest-grossing film of 1978.

Eastwood starred in Escape from Alcatraz in 1979, the last of his films directed by Siegel. It was based on the true story of Frank Lee Morris who, along with John and Clarence Anglin, escaped from the notorious Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in 1962. The film was a major success; Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic praised it as “crystalline cinema” and Frank Rich of Time described it as “cool, cinematic grace.”

1980s

In 1980, Eastwood directed and played the title role in Bronco Billy alongside Locke, Scatman Crothers, and Sam Bottoms. Eastwood has cited Bronco Billy as being one of the most relaxed shoots of his career and biographer Richard Schickel has argued that Bronco Billy is Eastwood’s most self-referential character. The film was a rare commercial disappointment in Eastwood’s career, but was liked by critics. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that film was “…the best and funniest Clint Eastwood movie in quite a while”, and praised Eastwood’s directing, intricately juxtaposing the old West and the new West. Later that year, Eastwood starred in Any Which Way You Can, the sequel to Every Which Way But Loose. The film received a number of bad reviews from critics, although Maslin described it as “funnier and even better than its predecessor.” Released over the Christmas season of 1980, Any Which Way You Can was a major box office success and ranked among the top five highest-grossing films of the year.

In 1982, Eastwood directed and starred in Honkytonk Man, based on the eponymous Clancy Carlile‘s depression-era novel. Eastwood portrays a struggling western singer Red Stovall who suffers from tuberculosis, but has finally been given an opportunity to make it big at the Grand Ole Opry. He is accompanied by his young nephew (played by real-life son Kyle) to Nashville, Tennessee, where he is supposed to record a song. Only Time gave the film a good review in the United States, with most reviewers criticizing its blend of muted humor and tragedy. Nevertheless, the film received critical acclaim in France, where it was compared to John Ford‘s The Grapes of Wrath, and it has since acquired the very high rating of 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. In the same year Eastwood directed, produced, and starred in the Cold War-themed Firefox. Based on a 1977 novel with the same name written by Craig Thomas, the film was shot before but released after Honkeytonk Man. Russian filming locations were not possible due to the Cold War, and the film had to be shot in Vienna and other locations in Austria to simulate many of the Eurasian story locations. With a production cost of $20 million, it was Eastwood’s highest budget film to date. People magazine likened Eastwood’s performance to “Luke Skywalker trapped in Dirty Harry’s Soul.”

Eastwood directed and starred in the fourth Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact, which was shot in the spring and summer of 1983 and is considered the darkest and most violent of the series. By this time Eastwood received 60 percent of all profits from films he starred in and directed, with the rest going to the studio. Sudden Impact was his final on-screen collaboration with Locke. She plays an artist who, along with her sister, was gang-raped a decade before the story takes place and seeks revenge for her sister’s now-vegetative state by systematically murdering the rapists. The line Go ahead, make my day (uttered by Eastwood during an early scene in a coffee shop) has been cited as one of cinema’s immortal lines. It was quoted by President Ronald Reagan in a speech to Congress, and used during the 1984 presidential elections. The film was the second most commercially successful of the Dirty Harry films, after The Enforcer, earning $70 million. It received very positive reviews, with many critics praising the feminist aspects of the film through its explorations of the physical and psychological consequences of rape.

Tightrope (1984) had Eastwood starring opposite Geneviève Bujold in a provocative thriller, inspired by newspaper articles about an elusive Bay Area rapist. Set in New Orleans to avoid confusion with the Dirty Harry films, Eastwood played a divorced cop drawn into his target’s tortured psychology and fascination for sadomasochism.

Tightrope was a critical and commercial hit and became the fourth highest-grossing R-rated film of 1984. Eastwood next starred in the crime comedy City Heat (1984) alongside Burt Reynolds, a film about a private eye and his partner who get mixed up with gangsters in the prohibition era of the 1930s. The film grossed around $50 million domestically, but was overshadowed by Eddie Murphy‘s Beverly Hills Cop.

“Westerns. A period gone by, the pioneer, the loner operating by himself, without benefit of society. It usually has something to do with some sort of vengeance; he takes care of the vengeance himself, doesn’t call the police. Like Robin Hood. It’s the last masculine frontier. Romantic myth, I guess, though it’s hard to think about anything romantic today. In a Western you can think, Jesus, there was a time when man was alone, on horseback, out there where man hasn’t spoiled the land yet.”

— Eastwood, on the philosophical allure of portraying western loners

Eastwood made his only foray into TV direction with the 1985 Amazing Stories episode Vanessa in the Garden, which starred Harvey Keitel and Locke. This was his first collaboration with Steven Spielberg, who later co-produced Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. He would revisit the Western genre when he directed and starred in Pale Rider (1985), a film based on the classic 1953 western Shane and follows a preacher descending from the mists of the Sierras to side with the miners during the California Gold Rush of 1850. The title is a reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as the rider of the pale horse is Death, and shows similarities to Eastwood’s 1973 western High Plains Drifter in its themes of morality and justice as well as its exploration of the supernatural. Pale Rider became one of Eastwood’s most successful films to date. It was hailed as one of the best films of 1985 and the best western to appear for a considerable period, with Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune remarking, “This year (1985) will go down in film history as the moment Clint Eastwood finally earned respect as an artist.”

In 1986, Eastwood co-starred with Marsha Mason in the military drama Heartbreak Ridge, about the 1983 United States invasion of Grenada. He portrays an United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War who realizes he is nearing the end of his military service. Production and filming were marred by internal disagreements between Eastwood and long-time friend and producer Fritz Manes, as well as between Eastwood and the United States Department of Defense who expressed contempt for the film. At the time, the film was a commercial rather than a critical success, and has only come to be viewed more favorably in recent times. The film grossed $70 million domestically.

Eastwood starred in The Dead Pool (1988), the fifth and final film in the Dirty Harry series. It co-starred Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, and a young Jim Carrey who plays Johnny Squares, a drug-addled rock star and the first of the victims on a list of celebrities drawn up by horror film director Peter Swan (Neeson) who are deemed most likely to die, the so-called “Dead Pool.” The list is stolen by an obsessed fan who, in mimicking his favorite director, makes his way through the list killing off celebrities, of which Dirty Harry is also included. The Dead Pool grossed nearly $38 million, relatively low receipts for a Dirty Harry film. It is generally viewed as the weakest film of the series, though Roger Ebert thought it was as good as the original.

Eastwood began working on smaller, more personal projects and experienced a lull in his career between 1988 and 1992. Always interested in jazz, he directed Bird (1988), a biopic starring Forest Whitaker as jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker. Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean and Spike Lee, son of jazz bassist Bill Lee and a long time critic of Eastwood, criticized the characterization of Charlie Parker remarking that it did not capture his true essence and sense of humor.

Eastwood received two Golden Globes for the film, the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his lifelong contribution, and the Best Director award. However, Bird was a commercial failure, earning just $11 million, which Eastwood attributed to the declining interest in jazz among black people. Carrey would appear with Eastwood again in the poorly received comedy Pink Cadillac (1989). The film is about a bounty hunter and a group of white supremacists chasing an innocent woman (Bernadette Peters) who tries to outrun everyone in her husband’s prized pink Cadillac. The film failed both critically and commercially, earning barely more than Bird and marking a low point in Eastwood’s career.

1990s

 Eastwood directed and starred in White Hunter Black Heart (1990), an adaptation of Peter Viertel‘s roman à clef, about John Huston and the making of the classic film The African Queen. Shot on location in Zimbabwe in the summer of 1989, the film received some critical attention but with only a limited release earned just $8.4 million. Later in 1990, Eastwood directed and co-starred with Charlie Sheen in The Rookie, a buddy cop action film. Critics found the film’s plot and characterization unconvincing, but praised its action sequences. An ongoing lawsuit, in response to Eastwood allegedly ramming a woman’s car, resulted in no Eastwood films being shown in cinemas in 1991. Eastwood won the suit and agreed to pay the complainant’s legal fees if she did not appeal.

“…if possible, he looks even taller, leaner and more mysteriously possessed than he did in Sergio Leone’s seminal Fistful of Dollars a quarter of a century ago. The years haven’t softened him. They have given him the presence of some fierce force of nature, which may be why the landscapes of the mythic, late 19th-century West become him, never more so than in his new Unforgiven…. This is his richest, most satisfying performance since the underrated, politically lunatic Heartbreak Ridge. There’s no one like him.”

— Vincent Canby of The New York Times, on Eastwood’s performance in Unforgiven

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In 1992, Eastwood revisited the western genre in his film Unforgiven, which he directed and in which he starred as an aging ex-gunfighter long past his prime. Scripts existed for the film as early as 1976 under titles such as The Cut-Whore Killings and The William Munny Killings but Eastwood delayed the project because he wanted to wait until he was old enough to play his character and to savor it as the last of his western films. Unforgiven was a major commercial and critical success; Jack Methews of the Los Angeles Times described it as “the finest classical western to come along since perhaps John Ford’s 1956 The Searchers. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, (including Best Actor for Eastwood and Best Original Screenplay for David Webb Peoples) and won four, including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood. In June 2008 Unforgiven was ranked as the fourth-best American western, behind Shane, High Noon, and The Searchers, in the American Film Institute‘s “AFI’s 10 Top 10” list.

Eastwood played Frank Horrigan in the Secret Service thriller In the Line of Fire (1993), directed by Wolfgang Petersen and co-starring John Malkovich and Rene Russo. Horrigan is a guilt-ridden Secret Service agent haunted by his failure to save John F. Kennedy‘s life. The film was among the top 10 box office performers in that year, earning $102 million in the United States alone.

Later in 1993, he directed and co-starred alongside Kevin Costner in A Perfect World. Set in the 1960s, Eastwood plays a Texas Ranger in pursuit of an escaped convict (Costner) who hits the road with a young boy (T.J. Lowther). Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the film marked the highest point of Eastwood’s directing career, and the film has since been cited as one of his most underrated directorial achievements.

At the May 1994 Cannes Film Festival Eastwood received France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal, and on March 27, 1995, he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 67th Academy Awards. His next film appearance was in a cameo role as himself in the 1995 children’s film Casper. Later that same year he expanded his repertoire by playing opposite Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County. Based on the novel by Robert James Waller, the film relates the story of Robert Kincaid (Eastwood), a photographer working for National Geographic, who has an affair with a middle-aged Italian farm wife, Francesca (Streep). Despite the novel receiving unfavorable reviews and a subject deemed potentially unsuitable for film, The Bridges of Madison County was a commercial and critical success. Roger Ebert wrote, “Streep and Eastwood weave a spell, and it is based on that particular knowledge of love and self that comes with middle age.” The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture and won a César Award in France for Best Foreign Film. Streep was also nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

In 1997, Eastwood directed and starred in the political thriller Absolute Power, alongside Gene Hackman (with whom he had appeared in Unforgiven). Eastwood played the role of a veteran thief who witnesses the Secret Service cover up of a murder. The film received a mixed reception from critics. Later in 1997, Eastwood directed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, based on the novel by John Berendt and starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, and Jude Law. The film met with a mixed critical response.

“The roles that Eastwood has played, and the films that he has directed, cannot be disentangled from the nature of the American culture of the last quarter century, its fantasies and its realities.”

— Author Edward Gallafent, commenting on Eastwood’s impact on film from the 1970s to 1990s

Eastwood directed and starred in True Crime (1999). He plays Steve Everett, a journalist and recovering alcoholic, who has to cover the execution of murderer Frank Beechum (played by Isaiah Washington). True Crime received a mixed reception, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times writing, “his direction is galvanized by a sense of second chances and tragic misunderstandings, and by contrasting a larger sense of justice with the peculiar minutiae of crime. Perhaps he goes a shade too far in the latter direction, though.” The film was a box office failure, earning less than half its $55 million budget and was Eastwood’s worst-performing film of the 1990s aside from White Hunter Black Heart, which had a limited release.

2000s

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 In 2000, Eastwood directed and starred in Space Cowboys alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner. Eastwood played one of a group of veteran ex-test pilots sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite. The original music score was composed by Eastwood and Lennie Niehaus. Space Cowboys was critically well received and holds a 79 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes, although Roger Ebert wrote that the film was, “too secure within its traditional story structure to make much seem at risk.” The film grossed more than $90 million in its United States release, more than Eastwood’s two previous films combined. In 2002, Eastwood played an ex-FBI agent chasing a sadistic killer (Jeff Daniels) in the thriller Blood Work, loosely based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Michael Connelly. The film was a commercial failure, grossing just $26.2 million on an estimated budget of $50 million and received mixed reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes describing it as, “well-made but marred by lethargic pacing.” Eastwood did, however, win the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival for the film.

“Clint is a true artist in every respect. Despite his years of being at the top of his game and the legendary movies he has made, he always made us feel comfortable and valued on the set, treating us as equals.”

— Tim Robbins, on working with Eastwood.

Eastwood directed and scored the crime drama Mystic River (2003), a film dealing with themes of murder, vigilantism and sexual abuse and starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. The film was praised by critics and won two Academy Awards – Best Actor for Penn and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins – with Eastwood garnering nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. The film grossed $90 million domestically on a budget of $30 million. In 2003 Eastwood was named Best Director of the Year by the National Society of Film Critics.

The following year Eastwood found further critical and commercial success when he directed, produced, scored and starred in the boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, playing a cantankerous trainer who forms a bond with a female boxer (Hilary Swank), whom he is persuaded to train by his longtime friend and employee (Morgan Freeman). The film won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Freeman). At age 74 Eastwood became the oldest of eighteen directors to have directed two or more Best Picture winners. He also received a nomination for Best Actor, as well as a Grammy nomination for his score, and won a Golden Globe for Best Director, which was presented to him by daughter Kathryn, who was Miss Golden Globe at the 2005 ceremony. A. O. Scott of The New York Times lauded the film as a “masterpiece” and the best film of the year.

In 2006, Eastwood directed two films about World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima. The first, Flags of Our Fathers, focused on the men who raised the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi and featured the film debut of Eastwood’s son Scott. This was followed by Letters from Iwo Jima, which dealt with the tactics of the Japanese soldiers on the island and the letters they wrote home to family members. Letters from Iwo Jima was the first American film to depict a war issue completely from the view of an American enemy. Both films received praise from critics and garnered several nominations at the 79th Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay for Letters from Iwo Jima. At the 64th Golden Globe Awards Eastwood received nominations for Best Director in both films. Letters from Iwo Jima won the award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Eastwood next directed Changeling (2008), based on a true story set in the late 1920s. Angelina Jolie stars as a woman reunited with her missing son only to realize he is an impostor. After its release at several film festivals the film grossed over $110 million, the majority of which came from foreign markets. The film was highly acclaimed, with Damon Wise of Empire describing Changeling as “flawless.” Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine described it as “emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed” and that the film’s characters and social commentary were brought into the story with an “almost breathtaking deliberation.” For the film Eastwood received nominations for Best Original Score at the 66th Golden Globe Awards, Best Direction at the 62nd British Academy Film Awards and director of the year from the London Film Critics’ Circle.

Eastwood ended a four-year “self-imposed acting hiatus” by appearing in Gran Torino, which he also directed, produced and partly scored with his son Kyle and Jamie Cullum. Biographer Marc Eliot called Eastwood’s role “an amalgam of the Man with No Name, Dirty Harry, and William Munny, here aged and cynical but willing and able to fight on whenever the need arose.” Gran Torino grossed almost $30 million during its opening weekend release in January 2009, the highest of his career as an actor or director. Gran Torino eventually grossed over $268 million in theaters worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of Eastwood’s career so far (without adjustment for inflation).

Eastwood’s 30th directorial outing came with Invictus, a film based on the story of the South African team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon as rugby team captain François Pienaar and Grant L. Roberts as Ruben Kruger. The film met with generally positive reviews; Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars and described it as a “…very good film… with moments evoking great emotion,” while Variety‘s Todd McCarthy wrote, “Inspirational on the face of it, Clint Eastwood’s film has a predictable trajectory, but every scene brims with surprising details that accumulate into a rich fabric of history, cultural impressions and emotion.” For the film Eastwood was nominated for Best Director at the 67th Golden Globe Awards.

 2010s

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In 2010, Eastwood directed Hereafter, again working with Matt Damon, who portrayed a psychic. The film had its world premiere on September 12, 2010 at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and had a limited release later in October. Hereafter received mixed reviews from critics, with the consensus at Rotten Tomatoes being, “Despite a thought-provoking premise and Clint Eastwood’s typical flair as director, Hereafter fails to generate much compelling drama, straddling the line between poignant sentimentality and hokey tedium.” In the same year, Eastwood served as executive producer for a Turner Classic Movies (TCM) documentary about jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way, to commemorate Brubeck’s 90th birthday.

In 2011, Eastwood directed J. Edgar, a biopic of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. The film received mixed reviews, although DiCaprio’s performance as Hoover was widely praised. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus was, “Leonardo DiCaprio gives a predictably powerhouse performance, but J. Edgar stumbles in all other departments.”

Roger Ebert wrote that the film is “fascinating,” “masterful,” and praised DiCaprio’s performance. David Edelstein of New York Magazine, while also praising DiCaprio, wrote, “It’s too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings.”

In January 2011, it was announced that Eastwood was in talks to direct Beyoncé Knowles in a third remake of the 1937 film A Star Is Born; however, the project was delayed due to Beyoncé’s pregnancy. Eastwood then starred in the baseball drama Trouble with the Curve (2012), as a veteran baseball scout who travels with his daughter for a final scouting trip. Robert Lorenz, who worked with Eastwood as an assistant director on several films, directed the film.

“Everybody wonders why I continue working at this stage. I keep working because there’s always new stories…. And as long as people want me to tell them, I’ll be there doing them.”

— Eastwood, reflecting on his later career

During Super Bowl XLVI, Eastwood narrated a halftime advertisement for Chrysler titled “It’s Halftime in America.” The advertisement was criticized by several U.S. Republicans, who claimed it implied that President Barack Obama deserved a second term. In response to the criticism, Eastwood stated, “I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America.”

Eastwood next directed Jersey Boys, a musical biography based on the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys. The film told the story of the musical group The Four Seasons, and was released on June 20, 2014.

Eastwood directed American Sniper, a film adaptation of Chris Kyle‘s eponymous memoir, following Steven Spielberg’s departure from the project. The film was released on December 25, 2014. American Sniper has grossed more than $350 million domestically and over $547 million globally, making it one of Eastwood’s biggest movies commercially.

 

Directing

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 Beginning with the thriller Play Misty for Me, Eastwood has directed over 30 films, including Westerns, action films, and dramas. He is one of few top Hollywood actors to have also become a critically and commercially successful director. The New Yorker wrote that, unlike Eastwood, John Ford appeared in just a few  films; Howard Hawks never acted in movies. Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Steve McQueen, and Sean Connery never directed a feature. John Wayne directed only twice, and badly; ditto Burt Lancaster. Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, and Sean Penn have directed a few movies each, with mixed commercial and artistic success.

From the very early days of his career Eastwood was frustrated by directors’ insistence that scenes be re-shot multiple times and perfected, and when he began directing in 1970, he made a conscious attempt to avoid any aspects of directing he had been indifferent to as an actor. As a result, Eastwood is renowned for his efficient film directing and ability to reduce filming time and control budgets. He usually avoids actors’ rehearsing and prefers to complete most scenes on the first take.

Eastwood’s rapid filmmaking practices have been compared to those of Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and the Coen brothers. When acting in others’ films he sometimes takes over directing, such as for The Outlaw Josey Wales, if he believes production is too slow. In preparation for filming Eastwood rarely uses storyboards for developing the layout of a shooting schedule. He also attempts to reduce script background details on characters to allow the audience to become more involved in the film, considering their imagination a requirement for a film that connects with viewers. Eastwood has indicated that he lays out a film’s plot to provide the audience with necessary details, but not “so much that it insults their intelligence.”

According to Life magazine, “Eastwood’s style is to shoot first and act afterward. He etches his characters virtually without words. He has developed the art of underplaying to the point that anyone around him who so much as flinches looks hammily histrionic.” Interviewers Richard Thompson and Tim Hunter note that Eastwood’s films are “superbly paced: unhurried; cool; and [give] a strong sense of real time, regardless of the speed of the narrative” while Ric Gentry considers Eastwood’s pacing “unrushed and relaxed.” Eastwood is fond of low-key lighting and back-lighting to give his movies a “noir-ish” feel.

Eastwood’s frequent exploration of ethical values has drawn the attention of scholars, who have explored Eastwood’s work from ethical and theological perspectives, including his portrayal of justice, mercy, suicide and the angel of death.

 

Personal Life

Relationships

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Eastwood married Margaret Neville “Maggie” Johnson (then working for an auto parts suppliers company) on December 19, 1953 in Pasadena. They had met six months earlier on a blind date in Los Angeles, although Eastwood subsequently had a serious relationship with a young woman in Seattle that summer, before Johnson announced her engagement to him in October. The marriage would not prove altogether smooth, Eastwood telling biographer Richard Schickel in the only authorized book ever written about him that he was “too young, not well enough established.” A decade later, an ongoing affair Eastwood was involved in (said to have lasted 14 years) with dancer and Rawhide stuntwoman Roxanne Tunis (who was also married yet separated) produced his earliest confirmed child, daughter Kimber Eastwood (born Kimber Tunis; June 17, 1964), whose existence was kept secret from the public until July 1989, when the National Enquirer revealed her identity. Biographer Marc Eliot wrote of Johnson, “It is difficult to say for sure that she actually knew about the baby, although it would have been nearly impossible for her not to. Everyone on the set knew … and it is simply too difficult to keep a secret like that when the mother and the illegitimate child live in the same small town, especially when that small town is Hollywood.” Actress Barbara Eden, a onetime Rawhide guest star and witness to the affair with Tunis, said of Eastwood’s relationship with Johnson: “They conducted a somewhat open marriage.”

According to biographer Patrick McGilligan, Eastwood had many other affairs, including with co-stars Inger Stevens (Hang ‘Em High), Jean Seberg (Paint Your Wagon) and Jo Ann Harris (The Beguiled), as well as actresses Jill Banner, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan St. James, columnist Bridget Byrne, competitive swimmer Anita Lhoest,] and singer Keely Smith during his marriage to Johnson, who, after a trial separation and lingering bout of hepatitis in the mid-1960s, expressed her desire to reconcile and start a family. They had two children together: Kyle Eastwood (born May 19, 1968) and Alison Eastwood (born May 22, 1972). At some point in 1972, Eastwood met married actress (later director) Sondra Locke. The two began living together while filming The Outlaw Josey Wales in the autumn of 1975, by which time, according to Locke, “He had told me that there was no real relationship left between him and Maggie.” Locke wrote in her autobiography, “Clint seemed astonished at his need for me, even admitting that he’d never been faithful to one woman — because he’d “never been in love before,” he confided. He even made up a song about it: “She made me monogamous.” That flattered and delighted me. I would never doubt his faithfulness and his love for me.” Locke moved into the Sherman Oaks house Eastwood had once shared with Johnson (who by then lived full-time in Pebble Beach), but felt uncomfortable there because “psychologically, it would always be Maggie’s.”

“Finally I told Clint that I couldn’t live there any longer,” writes Locke. The couple moved to Bel-Air in a fixer-upper. Locke spent three years renovating. She underwent two abortions and a tubal ligation in the late 1970s and was most reluctant about the second abortion, noting “I couldn’t help but think that that baby, with both Clint’s and my best qualities, would be extraordinary.” Johnson made no secret of her dislike for Locke, even though the two women never met. “Maggie placed severe rules on my relationship with the kids. Apparently, she never forgave me … after she learned that Clint had taken me onto her property to show me a baby deer that had just been born there, she laid down a rule that I was never to be allowed there again. I was not even allowed to phone the Pebble Beach house.” In 1978 Johnson filed for legal separation from Eastwood, but did not officially divorce him until May 1984, receiving a reported cash settlement of $25 million. Locke never divorced her legal husband, homosexual sculptor Gordon Anderson, who resided with his male companion in a West Hollywood home purchased by Eastwood.

Eastwood and Locke went on to star in The Gauntlet, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy, Any Which Way You Can and Sudden Impact. According to former longtime associate Fritz Manes, as quoted by author McGilligan, Eastwood was devoted to her between 1976 and 1980 at the least, but discreetly kept up several “maintenance relationships” (such as with Tunis) during that period. McGilligan claims Eastwood returned to his “habitual womanizing” in the early 1980s, becoming involved with story analyst Megan Rose, actress Jamie Rose (who played a bit part in Tightrope), animal rights activist Jane Brolin (who had intermittent liaisons with Eastwood between the early 1960s and late 1980s) and Jacelyn Reeves, a stewardess he met at the Hog’s Breath Inn, among others. He was still living with Locke when he conceived two children with Reeves: a son Scott Eastwood (born Scott Reeves; March 21, 1986) and daughter Kathryn Eastwood (born Kathryn Reeves; February 2, 1988), whose birth certificates both said “Father declined.” The affair with Reeves was not reported anywhere until an exposé article was published in the Star tabloid in 1990, though the children still went unmentioned by mainstream news sources for more than a decade thereafter. Eastwood’s relationship with Locke (at the time unaware of his infidelities) ended acrimoniously in April 1989, and the post-breakup litigation dragged on for years. Locke filed a palimony lawsuit against him after he changed the locks on their home and moved her possessions into storage when she was away filming her second directorial effort Impulse. In court, Eastwood downplayed the intensity of their relationship. He described Locke as a “roommate” before quickly re-describing her as a “part-time roommate.” Locke’s estranged brother told The Tennessean that Eastwood still truly loved her, but could no longer take her “addiction” to husband Gordon Anderson. Anticipating that Eastwood was going to misrepresent the marriage, Locke asked Anderson to surrender all claims on any of her assets that as her legal spouse he was entitled to. “In an extraordinary gesture of love and faith in me, Gordon signed away everything without hesitation.” During the trial, an investigative journalist contacted Locke and informed her of Eastwood’s other family. “I spoke with the nurse in the delivery room, and she confirmed that they are Clint’s children. I’ll send copies of the birth certificates to you and a photo of Jacelyn, if you want them,” Locke quotes the informant. “My mind was still searching to get all his actions lined up. For at least the last four years of our relationship, Clint had been living this double life, going between me and this other woman, and having children with her. Two babies had been born during the last three years of our relationship, and they weren’t mine.” Locke dropped the suit in 1990 in exchange for a directing deal at Warner Bros., but sued Eastwood again for fraud in 1994 when she became convinced the deal was a sham, finally settling out of court in September 1996. Since then, Locke has made discrediting comments about Eastwood.

In 1990, actress Frances Fisher, whom Eastwood had met on the set of Pink Cadillac in late 1988, moved in with him. Fisher said of dating Eastwood, “I simply felt that this was it, the big one. I had no idea that every woman he meets probably feels as I did.” They co-starred in Unforgiven, and had a daughter, Francesca Eastwood (born Francesca Fisher-Eastwood; August 7, 1993). The birth of Francesca marked the first time Eastwood was present for one of his children being born. Eastwood and Fisher ended their relationship in early 1995, after which Fisher said it took two years to complete what she called the grieving process for her shattered dreams.[307] Before she had moved out of Eastwood’s home, he was said to already be dating Dina Ruiz, a television news anchor 35 years his junior whom he had first met when she interviewed him in 1993. They married on March 31, 1996, when Eastwood surprised her with a private ceremony at a home on the Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas. The marriage was noted for the fact that it was only Eastwood’s second legal union in spite of his many long-term romances over the decades. Eastwood said of his bride, “I’m proud to make this lady my wife. She’s the one I’ve been waiting for.” Ruiz commented, “The fact that I’m only the second woman he has married really touches me.” The couple has one daughter, Morgan Eastwood (born December 12, 1996). Ruiz made cameos in two of Eastwood’s films, Blood Work and True Crime (in which Fisher even appeared). In the summer of 2012, Dina, Morgan and Francesca starred with the band Overtone in a reality show for the E! network titled Mrs. Eastwood & Company, on which Eastwood appeared only occasionally.

In August 2013, Dina Eastwood announced that she and her husband had been living separately for an undisclosed length of time. On October 23, 2013, Dina filed for divorce after she withdrew her request for legal separation, citing irreconcilable differences. She asked for full custody of their 16-year-old daughter, Morgan, as well as spousal support. The divorce was finalized in December 2014. Eastwood has since been publicly linked with photographer Erica Tomlinson-Fisher (no relation to Frances), 41 years his junior, and restaurant hostess Christina Sandera, 33 years his junior. He and Sandera went public with their relationship at the 87th Academy Awards in February 2015.

 

Leisure

Despite smoking in some of his films, Eastwood is a lifelong non-smoker, has been conscious of his health and fitness since he was a teenager, and practices healthful eating and daily Transcendental Meditation.

He opened an old English-inspired pub called the Hog’s Breath Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1971. Eastwood sold the pub and now owns the Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

He is an avid golfer and owns the Tehàma Golf Club. He is an investor in the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links west of Carmel and donates his time to charitable causes at major tournaments. Eastwood is a certified pilot and often flies his helicopter to the studios to avoid traffic.

 

Music

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Eastwood favors jazz (especially bebop), blues, classic rhythm and blues, classical, and country-and-western music; his favorite musicians include saxophonists Charlie Parker and Lester Young, pianists Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, and Fats Waller, and Delta bluesman Robert Johnson. He is also a pianist and composer. Jazz has played an important role in Eastwood’s life from a young age and, although he never made it as a professional musician, he passed on the influence to his son Kyle Eastwood, a successful jazz bassist and composer. Eastwood developed as a boogie-woogie pianist early on and had originally intended to pursue a career in music by studying for a music theory degree after graduating from high school. In late 1959 he produced the album Cowboy Favorites, released on the Cameo label.

Eastwood has his own Warner Bros. Records-distributed imprint Malpaso Records, as part of his deal with Warner Brothers, which has released all of the scores of Eastwood’s films from The Bridges of Madison County onward. Eastwood co-wrote “Why Should I Care” with Linda Thompson and Carole Bayer Sager, which was recorded by Diana Krall.

Eastwood composed the film scores of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Grace Is Gone, Changeling, Hereafter, J. Edgar, and the original piano compositions for In the Line of Fire. He wrote and performed the song heard over the credits of Gran Torino.

The music in Grace Is Gone received two Golden Globe nominations by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the 65th Golden Globe Awards. Eastwood was nominated for Best Original Score, while the song “Grace is Gone” with music by Eastwood and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager was nominated for Best Original Song. It won the Satellite Award for Best Song at the 12th Satellite Awards. Changeling was nominated for Best Score at the 14th Critics’ Choice Awards, Best Original Score at the 66th Golden Globe Awards, and Best Music at the 35th Saturn Awards. On September 22, 2007, Eastwood was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music at the Monterey Jazz Festival, on which he serves as an active board member. Upon receiving the award he gave a speech claiming, “It’s one of the great honors I’ll cherish in this lifetime.”

 

Awards and Honors

Eastwood has been recognized with multiple awards and nominations for his work in film, television, and music. His widest reception has been in film work, for which he has received Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and People’s Choice Awards, among others. Eastwood is one of only two people to have been twice nominated for Best Actor and Best Director for the same film (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) the other being Warren Beatty (Heaven Can Wait and Reds). Along with Beatty, Robert Redford, Richard Attenborough, Kevin Costner, and Mel Gibson, he is one of the few directors best known as an actor to win an Academy Award for directing. On February 27, 2005, he became one of only three living directors (along with Miloš Forman and Francis Ford Coppola) to have directed two Best Picture winners. Aged 74, he was the oldest to date recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director. Eastwood has directed five actors in Academy Award–winning performances: Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn in Mystic River, and Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.

On August 22, 1984, Eastwood was honored at a ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese theater to record his hand and footprints in cement. Eastwood received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1996, and received an honorary degree from AFI in 2009. On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Eastwood into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.

In early 2007, Eastwood was presented with the highest civilian distinction in France, Légion d’honneur, at a ceremony in Paris. French President Jacques Chirac told Eastwood that he embodied “the best of Hollywood.” In October 2009, he was honored by the Lumière Award (in honor of the Lumière Brothers, inventors of the Cinematograph) during the first edition of the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon, France. This award honors his entire career and his major contribution to the 7th Art. In February 2010, Eastwood was recognized by President Barack Obama with an arts and humanities award. Obama described Eastwood’s films as “essays in individuality, hard truths and the essence of what it means to be American.”

Eastwood has also been awarded at least three honorary degrees from universities and colleges, including an honorary degree from the University of the Pacific in 2006, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California on May 27, 2007, and an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music at the Monterey Jazz Festival on September 22, 2007.

On July 22, 2009, Eastwood was bestowed by Emperor Akihito of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun, 3rd class, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon for his contributions to the enhancement of Japan–United States relations.

Eastwood won the Golden Pine lifetime achievement award at the 2013 International Samobor Film Music Festival, along with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Gerald Fried.

 

Filmography

Eastwood has contributed to over 50 films over his career as actor, director, producer, and composer. He has acted in several television series, including his starring role in Rawhide. He started directing in 1971, and made his debut as a producer in 1982, with Firefox, though he had been functioning as uncredited producer on all of his Malpaso Company films since Hang ‘Em High in 1968. Eastwood also has contributed music to his films, either through performing, writing, or composing. He has mainly starred in western, action, and drama films. According to the box office–revenue tracking website Box Office Mojo, films featuring Eastwood have grossed a total of more than $1.68 billion domestically, with an average of $37 million per film.

 

Footnotes

 It is not clear how many children Eastwood has fathered. When Steve Kroft asked him “How many do you have?” in a November 16, 1997 segment on 60 Minutes, he said, without further elaboration, “I have a few.” In a January 14, 2009 interview on Late Show with David Letterman, David Letterman said to Eastwood, “You have seven, seven children?” to which he replied “At least.” Furthermore, Eastwood’s daughter Alison stated in an August 7, 2011 article in The Sunday Times, “My dad has eight children by six women.” However, only seven children by five women are accounted for.

Gene Wilder

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Jerome Silberman (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016), known professionally as Gene Wilder, was an American comic actor in film and theater, screenwriter, film director, and author.
Wilder began his career on stage, and made his screen debut in an episode of the TV series The Play of the Week in 1961. Although his first film role was portraying a hostage in the 1967 motion picture Bonnie and Clyde, Wilder’s first major role was as Leopold Bloom in the 1968 film The Producers for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This was the first in a series of collaborations with writer/director Mel Brooks, including 1974’s Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which Wilder co-wrote, garnering the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wilder is known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991). Wilder directed and wrote several of his own films, including The Woman in Red (1984).
His third wife was actress Gilda Radner, with whom he starred in three films, the last two of which he also directed. Her 1989 death from ovarian cancer led to his active involvement in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda’s Club.
After his last contribution to acting in 2003 – a guest role on Will & Grace for which he received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor – Wilder turned his attention to writing. He produced a memoir in 2005, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art; a collection of stories, What Is This Thing Called Love? (2010); and the novels My French Whore (2007), The Woman Who Wouldn’t (2008) and Something to Remember You By (2013).

Early life and education

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Wilder was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Jeanne (Baer) and William J. Silberman, a manufacturer and salesman of novelty items. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, as were his maternal grandparents. He adopted “Gene Wilder” for his professional name at the age of 26, later explaining, “I had always liked Gene because of Thomas Wolfe’s character Eugene Gant in Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. And I was always a great admirer of Thornton Wilder.” Wilder first became interested in acting at age 8, when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and the doctor told him to “try and make her laugh.”
At the age of 11, he saw his sister, who was studying acting, performing onstage, and he was enthralled by the experience. He asked her teacher if he could become his student, and the teacher said that if he were still interested at age 13, he would take Wilder on as a student. The day after Wilder turned 13, he called the teacher, who accepted him; Wilder studied with him for two years.
When Jeanne Silberman felt that her son’s potential was not being fully realized in Wisconsin, she sent him to Black-Foxe, a military institute in Hollywood, where he was bullied and sexually assaulted, primarily because he was the only Jewish boy in the school, according to his own account. After an unsuccessful short stay at Black-Foxe, Wilder returned home and became increasingly involved with the local theater community. At age 15, he performed for the first time in front of a paying audience, as Balthasar (Romeo’s manservant) in a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Gene Wilder graduated from Washington High School in Milwaukee in 1951.
Wilder was raised Jewish, but he held only the Golden Rule as his philosophy. In a book published in 2005, he stated, “I have no other religion. I feel very Jewish and I feel very grateful to be Jewish. But I don’t believe in God or anything to do with the Jewish religion.”
Wilder studied Communication and Theater Arts at the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.

Acting career

Old Vic, Army, and HB Studio

Following his 1955 graduation from Iowa, he was accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England. After six months of studying fencing, Wilder became the first freshman to win the All-School Fencing Championship. Desiring to study Stanislavski’s system, he returned to the U.S., living with his sister and her family in Queens. Wilder enrolled at the HB Studio.
Wilder was drafted into the Army on September 10, 1956. At the end of recruit training, he was assigned to the medical corps and sent to Fort Sam Houston for training. He was then given the opportunity to choose any post that was open, and wanting to stay near New York City to attend acting classes at the HB Studio, he chose to serve as paramedic in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Valley Forge Army Hospital, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. In November 1957, his mother died from ovarian cancer. He was discharged from the army a year later and returned to New York. A scholarship to the HB Studio allowed him to become a full-time student. At first living on unemployment insurance and some savings, he later supported himself with odd jobs such as a limousine driver and fencing instructor.

Early career

Wilder’s first professional acting job was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he played the Second Officer in Herbert Berghof’s production of Twelfth Night. He also served as a fencing choreographer.
After three years of study with Berghof and Uta Hagen at the HB Studio, Charles Grodin told Wilder about Lee Strasberg’s method acting. Grodin persuaded him to leave the studio and begin studying with Strasberg in his private class. Several months later, Wilder was accepted into the Actors Studio. Feeling that “Jerry Silberman in Macbeth” did not have the right ring to it, he adopted a stage name. He chose “Wilder” because it reminded him of Our Town author Thornton Wilder, while “Gene” came from Thomas Wolfe’s first novel, Look Homeward, Angel. He also liked “Gene” because as a boy, he was impressed by a distant relative, a World War II bomber navigator who was “handsome and looked great in his leather flight jacket.” He later said that he could not see Gene Wilder playing Macbeth, either. After joining the Actors Studio, he slowly began to be noticed in the off-Broadway scene, thanks to performances in Sir Arnold Wesker’s Roots and in Graham Greene’s The Complaisant Lover, for which Wilder received the Clarence Derwent Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Non-featured Role.”

1960s

In 1963, Wilder was cast in a leading role in Mother Courage and Her Children, a production starring Anne Bancroft, who introduced Wilder to her boyfriend Mel Brooks. A few months later, Brooks mentioned that he was working on a screenplay called Springtime for Hitler, for which he thought Wilder would be perfect in the role of Leo Bloom. Brooks elicited a promise from Wilder that he would check with him before making any long-term commitments. Months went by, and Wilder toured the country with different theater productions, participated in a televised CBS presentation of Death of a Salesman, and was cast for his first role in a film—a minor role in Arthur Penn’s 1967 Bonnie and Clyde. After three years of not hearing from Brooks, Wilder was called for a reading with Zero Mostel, who was to be the star of Springtime for Hitler and had approval of his co-star. Mostel approved, and Wilder was cast for his first leading role in a feature film, 1968’s The Producers.
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The Producers eventually became a cult comedy classic, with Mel Brooks winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Wilder being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Nevertheless, Brooks’ first directorial effort did not do well at the box office and was not well received by all critics; New York Times critic Renata Adler reviewed the film and described it as “black college humor.”
In 1969, Wilder relocated to Paris, accepting a leading role in Bud Yorkin’s Start the Revolution Without Me, a comedy that took place during the French Revolution. After shooting ended, Wilder returned to New York, where he read the script for Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx and immediately called Sidney Glazier, who produced The Producers. Both men began searching for the perfect director for the film. Jean Renoir was the first candidate, but he would not be able to do the film for at least a year, so British-Indian director Waris Hussein was hired. With Margot Kidder co-starring with Wilder, it was filmed on location in Dublin, and at the nearby Ardmore Studios, in August and September of 1969.

1970s

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In 1971, Wilder auditioned to play Willy Wonka in Mel Stuart’s film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After reciting some lines, Wilder prepared to leave the auditioning station, but Mel Stuart (who was a fan of Wilder) ran after him and offered the role to him immediately. Wilder was initially hesitant when he learned more about the role, but finally accepted on one condition:
When I make my first entrance, I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I’m walking on and stands straight up, by itself… but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.
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When Stuart asked why, Wilder replied, “Because from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.” The scene appeared in the movie much as Wilder described it.
All three films Wilder did after The Producers were box office failures: Start the Revolution and Quackser seemed to audiences poor copies of Mel Brooks films, while Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was not a commercial success, seeming, to some parents, a moral story “too cruel” for children to understand, thus failing to attract family audiences. Willy Wonka did gain a cult following and an Oscar nomination for Best Score, as well as a Golden Globe award nomination for Wilder. When Woody Allen offered him a role in one segment of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask), Wilder accepted, hoping this would be the hit to put an end to his series of flops. Everything… was a hit, grossing over $18 million in the United States alone against a $2-million budget.
After Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask), Wilder began working on a script he called Young Frankenstein. After he wrote a two-page scenario, he called Mel Brooks, who told him that it seemed like a “cute” idea, but showed little interest. A few months later, Wilder received a call from his agent, Mike Medavoy, who asked if he had anything where he could include Peter Boyle and Marty Feldman, his two new clients. Having just seen Feldman on television, Wilder was inspired to write a scene that takes place at Transylvania Station, where Igor and Frederick meet for the first time. The scene was later included in the film almost verbatim. Medavoy liked the idea and called Brooks, asking him to direct. Brooks was not convinced, but having spent four years working on two box-office failures, he decided to accept. While working on the Young Frankenstein script, Wilder was offered the part of the Fox in the musical film adaptation of Saint Exupéry’s classic book, The Little Prince. screenshot-2016-09-19-13-37-02When filming was about to begin in London, Wilder received an urgent call from Brooks, who was filming Blazing Saddles, offering Wilder the role of the “Waco Kid” after Dan Dailey dropped out at the last minute, while Gig Young became too ill to continue. Wilder shot his scenes for Blazing Saddles and immediately afterward filmed The Little Prince.
After Young Frankenstein was written, the rights were to be sold to Columbia Pictures, but after having trouble agreeing on the budget, Wilder, Brooks, and producer Michael Gruskoff went with 20th Century Fox, where both Brooks and Wilder had to sign five-year contracts. Young Frankenstein was a commercial success, with Wilder and Brooks receiving Best Adapted Screenplay nominations at the 1975 Oscars, losing to Francis Coppola and Mario Puzo for their adaptation of The Godfather Part II.While filming Young Frankenstein, Wilder had an idea for a romantic musical comedy about a brother of Sherlock Holmes. Marty Feldman and Madeline Kahn agreed to participate in the project, and Wilder began writing what became his directorial début, 1975’s The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.
In 1975, Wilder’s agent sent him a script for a film called Super Chief. Wilder accepted, but told the film’s producers that he thought the only person who could keep the film from being offensive was Richard Pryor. Pryor accepted the role in the film, which had been renamed Silver Streak, the first film to team Wilder and Pryor. They became Hollywood’s first successful interracial movie comedy duo.
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While filming Silver Streak, Wilder began working on a script for The World’s Greatest Lover, inspired by Fellini’s The White Sheik. Wilder wrote, produced, and directed The World’s Greatest Lover, which premièred in 1977, but was a critical failure. The Frisco Kid (1979) was Wilder’s next project. The film was to star John Wayne, but he dropped out and was replaced by Harrison Ford, then an up-and-coming actor.

Sidney Poitier

In 1980 Wilder teamed up again with Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy, directed by Sidney Poitier. Pryor was struggling with a severe cocaine addiction, and filming became difficult, but once the film premiered, it became an international success. New York magazine listed “Skip Donahue” (Wilder) and “Harry Monroe” (Pryor) as number nine on their 2007 list of “The Fifteen Most Dynamic Duos in Pop Culture History,” and the film has often appeared in “best comedy” lists and rankings.
Poitier and Wilder became friends, with the pair working together on a script called Traces—which became 1982’s Hanky Panky, the film where Wilder met comedian Gilda Radner. Through the remainder of the decade, Wilder and Radner worked on several projects together. After Hanky Panky, Wilder directed his third film, 1984’s The Woman in Red, which starred Wilder, Radner, and Kelly Le Brock. The Woman in Red was not well received by the critics, nor was their next project, 1986’s Haunted Honeymoon, which failed to attract audiences. The Woman in Red did win an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Stevie Wonder’s song “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
TriStar Pictures wanted to produce another film starring Wilder and Pryor, and Wilder agreed to do See No Evil, Hear No Evil only if he were allowed to rewrite the script. The studio agreed, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil premiered on May 1989 to mostly negative reviews. Many critics praised Wilder and Pryor, as well as Kevin Spacey’s performance, but they mostly agreed that the script was terrible. Roger Ebert called it “a real dud”; the Deseret Morning News described the film as “stupid,” with an “idiotic script” that had a “contrived story” and too many “juvenile gags,” while Vincent Canby called it “by far the most successful co-starring vehicle for Mr. Pryor and Mr. Wilder,” also acknowledging that “this is not elegant movie making, and not all of the gags are equally clever.”

1990s–2000s

After starring as a political cartoonist who falls in love in the 1990 film Funny About Love, Wilder performed in one final movie with Pryor, the 1991 feature Another You, in which Pryor’s physical deterioration from multiple sclerosis was clearly noticeable. It was Pryor’s last starring role in a film (he appeared in a few cameos before he died in 2005) and also marked Wilder’s last appearance in a feature film. Neither of his last two movies were financially successful. His remaining work consisted of television movies and guest appearances in TV shows.
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Wilder was inducted into the the Wisconsin Performing Arts Hall of Fame, at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Tuesday April 9, 1991.
In 1994, Wilder starred in the NBC sitcom Something Wilder. The show received poor reviews and lasted only one season. He went back to the small screen in 1999, appearing in three television movies, one of which was the NBC adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. The other two, Murder in a Small Town and The Lady in Question, were mystery movies for A&E TV that were cowritten by Wilder, in which he played a theater director turned amateur detective. Three years later, Wilder guest-starred on two episodes of NBC’s Will & Grace, winning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor on a Comedy Series for his role as Mr. Stein, Will Truman’s boss.

Personal life

Relationships

Wilder met his first wife, Mary Mercier, while studying at the HB Studio in New York. Although the couple had not been together long, they married on July 22, 1960. They spent long periods of time apart, eventually divorcing in 1965. A few months later, Wilder began dating Mary Joan Schutz, a friend of his sister. Schutz had a daughter, Katharine, from a previous marriage. When Katharine started calling Wilder “Dad,” he decided to do what he felt was “the right thing to do,” marrying Schutz on October 27, 1967, and adopting Katharine that same year. Schutz and Wilder separated after seven years of marriage, with Katharine thinking that Wilder was having an affair with his Young Frankenstein co-star, Madeline Kahn. After the divorce, he briefly dated his other Frankenstein co-star, Teri Garr. Wilder eventually became estranged from Katharine.
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Wilder met Saturday Night Live actress Gilda Radner on August 13, 1981, while filming Sidney Poitier’s Hanky Panky. Radner was married to guitarist G. E. Smith at the time, but Wilder and she became inseparable friends. When the filming of Hanky Panky ended, Wilder found himself missing Radner, so he called her. The relationship grew, and Radner eventually divorced Smith in 1982. She moved in with Wilder, and the couple married on September 14, 1984, in the south of France. The couple wanted to have children, but Radner suffered miscarriages, and doctors could not determine the problem. After experiencing severe fatigue and suffering from pain in her upper legs on the set of Haunted Honeymoon, Radner sought medical treatment. Following a number of false diagnoses, she was found to have ovarian cancer in October 1986. Over the next year and a half, Radner battled the disease, receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. The disease finally went into remission, giving the couple a respite, during which time Wilder filmed See No Evil, Hear No Evil. By May 1989, the cancer returned and had metastasized. Radner died on May 20, 1989. Wilder later stated, “I always thought she’d pull through.”
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Following Radner’s death, Wilder became active in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda’s Club, a support group to raise awareness of cancer that began in New York City and now has branches throughout the country.
While preparing for his role as a deaf man in See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Wilder met Karen Webb (née Boyer), who was a clinical supervisor for the New York League for the Hard of Hearing. Webb coached him in lip reading. Following Gilda Radner’s death, Wilder and Webb reconnected, and on September 8, 1991, they married. The two lived in Stamford, Connecticut, in the 1734 Colonial home that he shared with Radner.

Political views

In 2007, Wilder stated, “I’m quietly political. I don’t like advertising. Giving money to someone or support, but not getting on a bandstand. I don’t want to run for president in 2008. I will write another book instead.” Wilder donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Semi-retirement and authorship

The Wilders spent most of their time painting watercolors, writing, and participating in charitable efforts.
In 1998, Wilder collaborated on the book Gilda’s Disease with oncologist Steven Piver, sharing personal experiences of Radner’s struggle with ovarian cancer. Wilder himself was hospitalized with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1999, but confirmed in March 2005 that the cancer was in complete remission following chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.
In October 2001, he read from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as part of a special benefit performance held at the Westport Country Playhouse to aid families affected by the September 11 attacks. Also in 2001, Wilder donated a collection of scripts, correspondences, documents, photographs, and clipped images to the University of Iowa Libraries.
On March 1, 2005, Wilder released his highly personal memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, an account of his life covering everything from his childhood up to Radner’s death. Two years later, in March 2007, Wilder released his first novel, My French Whore, which is set during World War I. His second novel, The Woman Who Wouldn’t, was released in March 2008.
In a 2008 Turner Classic Movies special, Role Model: Gene Wilder, where Alec Baldwin interviewed Wilder about his career, Wilder said that he was basically retired from acting for good. “I don’t like show business, I realized,” he explained. “I like show, but I don’t like the business.”
In 2010, Wilder released a collection of stories called What Is This Thing Called Love?. His third novel, Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance, was released in April 2013.
When asked in a 2013 Time Out New York magazine interview whether he would act again if a suitable film project came his way, Wilder responded, “I’m tired of watching the bombing, shooting, killing, swearing and 3-D. I get 52 movies a year sent to me, and maybe there are three good [ones]. That’s why I went into writing. It’s not that I wouldn’t act again. I’d say, ‘Give me the script. If it’s something wonderful, I’ll do it.’ But I don’t get anything like that.”

 Death

Wilder died at the age of 83 on August 29, 2016, at home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He had kept knowledge of his condition private, but had been diagnosed three years prior to his death. Wilder’s nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, said that this was so as not to sadden his younger fans.
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According to his family, Wilder died while peacefully holding hands with his wife as he listened to his favorite music.

Lonely Are the Brave

Poster

 Lonely Are the Brave is a 1962 film adaptation of the Edward Abbey novel The Brave Cowboy. The film was directed by David Miller from a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.

It stars Kirk Douglas as cowboyJack Burns, Gena Rowlands as his best friend’s wife, and Walter Matthau as a sheriff who sympathizes with Burns but must do his job and chase him down. It also features an early score by composer Jerry Goldsmith. Douglas stated this was his favorite film.

 

Plot

John W. “Jack” Burns works as a roaming ranch hand, much as the cowboys of the old West did, refusing to join mainstream society, underscored by his lack of both a driver’s license and draft card. He has no permanent address — he simply sleeps wherever and whenever he chooses.

Riding into Town

As Burns crosses a highway into a town in New Mexico to visit Jerry (Gena Rowlands) the wife of an old friend, his horse Whiskey has a difficult time crossing the road, confused and scared by the traffic. Jerry’s husband, Paul (Michael Kane) has been jailed for giving aid to illegal immigrants. In a conversation with Jerry, Jack expresses his disdain of a society that tells a man where he can or can’t go, what he can or can’t do.

Gena Rowlands

Determined to break Bondi out of jail, Burns decides he needs to get himself arrested. After a violent barroom fight against a one-armed man (Bill Raisch) in which he is forced to use only one arm himself, Burns is arrested.

One-armed Fight

When the police decide to let him go, he deliberately punches a cop to get himself re-arrested. He is immediately sentenced to a year in jail, which allows him to see Bondi, with the intention of helping him escape. The jail is located in a sleepy border town, staffed by bored personnel, occasionally dealing with minor offenses. The Sheriff, Morey Johnson (Walter Matthau), has to compel them to pay attention to their duties at times. During the course of the narrative, the seemingly unrelated progress of a truck carrying toilets, driven by Carroll O’Connor, is inter-cut with the film’s principal events.

In Jail

Joining Bondi in jail, Burns tries to persuade him to escape. He tells Bondi if he has to spend a year locked up, he’ll likely kill someone. Burns defends Bondi from the attention of sadistic Deputy Sheriff Gutierrez (George Kennedy), who then picks Burns as his next target. During the night the inmates saw through one of the jail’s bars using two hacksaw blades Burns had hidden in his boot. The deputy summons Burns in the middle of the night and beats him. Upon returning to his cell, Burns tries to persuade Bondi to join him in escaping, but Bondi, nearing the end of his sentence, with a family and too much at stake to become a fugitive, decides to remain. Burns breaks out by himself and returns to Bondi’s house, where he picks up his horse and some food from Bondi’s wife. After the jail break, the sheriff learns that Burns served in the military during the Korean War, including seven months in a disciplinary training center for striking a superior officer. He also received a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf clusters for his valor during battle.

Matthau and George Kennedy

Burns heads for the mountains on horseback with the goal of crossing the border into Mexico. The police mount an extensive search, with Sheriff Johnson and his Deputy Sheriff Harry (William Schallert) following him in a jeep. A military helicopter is brought in, and when the air crew locates Burns, they relay his location to the sheriff. Whiskey is repeatedly spooked by the helicopter, so Burns shoots the tail rotor, damaging it and causing the pilot to lose control and crash land.

Horse, rider and chopper

Deputy Gutierrez is also involved in the chase. He comes upon Whiskey, and is preparing to shoot the horse when Burns sneaks up on him, knocking him unconscious with his rifle butt. Burns then leads his horse up impossibly difficult, rocky slopes to escape his pursuers, but the lawmen keep on his trail, forcing him to keep moving. Surrounded on three sides, Burns’ horse refuses at first to climb a steep slope. They finally surmount the crest of the Sandia Mountains and escape to the east, into a broad expanse of heavy timber, with the lawmen on his tail and shooting at him. The sheriff acknowledges Burns has evaded their attempts to capture him, unaware Burns was shot through the ankle during his dash into the forest.

Burns appears to have successfully escaped. Then, late that night as he attempts to cross Highway 66 in Tijeras Canyon during a heavy rainstorm, disaster strikes. Whiskey is spooked, confused by traffic noise and blinded by oncoming headlights. The truck driver hauling the load of toilets, his vision obscured by the rain, strikes Burns and his horse as they are attempting to cross the road. The sheriff arrives at the accident scene, and when asked by the state police if the injured Burns is the man he has been looking for, replies he can’t identify him, because he’s never seen the man he is looking for up close. The viewer is led to believe the sheriff suspects the man to be Burns, but has chosen to not take him into custody. Whiskey, who is seriously hurt, is euthanized. The sheriff and his deputy Harry head home as Burns is transported from the scene in an ambulance. It is left unclear whether he will survive his injuries. The film closes with a shot of Burns’ cowboy hat, swamped by rain in the middle of the highway.

 

Cast

 

Production

Lonely Are the Brave was made after star Kirk Douglas read Edward Abbey’s novel The Brave Cowboy and insisted that Universal film it as a vehicle for him to star in. Douglas assembled the cast and crew through his production company, Joel Productions, recruiting ex-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, who had written Spartacus several years before, to write the screenplay.

The movie was filmed in the area in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico: the Sandia Mountains, the Manzano MountainsTijeras Canyon and Kirtland Air Force Base.

The working title for the film was “The Last Hero,” but the release title of the film was a matter of contention between Douglas, who wanted to call it “The Brave Cowboy,”  and the studio. Douglas wanted the film to open in art houses and build an audience, but Universal chose to market the film as a Western, titling it “Lonely Are the Brave” and opening it widely without any particular support. Despite this, the film developed a cult following, and is often listed as one of the best Westerns ever made.

Video box — cult film

Miller crafted the picture with an eloquent reverence for the stunning Southwestern landscape, complementing the story’s depiction of a lone and principled individual, tested by tragedy and driven by his fiercely independent conscience.

Lonely Are the Brave premiered in Houston on 24 May 1962. President John F. Kennedy watched the movie in the White House in November, 1962. In his memoir Conversations with Kennedy, Ben Bradlee wrote, “Jackie read off the list of what was available, and the President selected the one [film] we had all unanimously voted against, a brutal, sadistic little Western called Lonely Are the Brave.”

 

Soundtrack

Jerry Goldsmith poster

The score to Lonely Are the Brave was composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith’s involvement in the picture was the result of a recommendation by veteran composer Alfred Newman who had been impressed with Goldsmith’s score for the television show Thriller, and took it upon himself to recommend Goldsmith to the head of Universal Pictures’ music department, despite having never met him.

 

Cast Notes

Bill Bixby has a small role as an airman in a helicopter, his first film appearance. It was also one of Carroll O’Connor’s first film appearances.

Bill Raisch is the one-armed man who fights with Douglas in a barroom brawl scene. The following year Raisch began appearing with David Janssen in the TV series The Fugitive.

 

Awards

Kirk Douglas was nominated for a 1963 BAFTA Award as “Best Foreign Actor” for his work in Lonely Are the Brave, and placed third in the Laurel Awards for “Top Action Performance.” The Motion Picture Sound Editors gave the film a “Golden Reel Award” for “Best Sound Editing” (Waldon O. Watson, Frank H. Wilkinson, James R. Alexander, James Curtis, Arthur B. Smith), in a tie with Mutiny on the Bounty.

 

Quotes from the Film

  • Jerry Bondi (Gena Rowlands): “Believe you me, if it didn’t take men to make babies I wouldn’t have anything to do with any of you!”
  • Jack Burns (Kirk Douglas): “Know what a loner is? He’s a born cripple. He’s a cripple because the only person he can live with is himself. It’s his life, the way he wants to live. It’s all for him. A guy like that, he’d kill a woman like you. Because he couldn’t love you, not the way you are loved.”
  • Jack Burns: “A westerner likes open country. That means he’s got to hate fences. And the more fences there are, the more he hates them.” Jerry Bondi: “I’ve never heard such nonsense in my life.” Jack Burns: “It’s true, though. Have you ever noticed how many fences there’re getting to be? And the signs they got on them: no hunting, no hiking, no admission, no trespassing, private property, closed area, start moving, go away, get lost, drop dead! Do you know what I mean?”
  • Jack Burns: “I don’t need [identification] cards to figure out who I am, I already know.” This line was used by the fugitive sailor in The Death Ship, the 1926 novel by Traven.

 

Days of Wine and Roses

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This is the second in a series of articles featuring movies from the 1950s and 1960s — films fictional LAPD cop Mike Montego might have watched.

 

Days of Wine and Roses is a 1962 film directed by Blake Edwards with a screenplay by JP Miller adapted from his own 1958 Playhouse 90 teleplay of the same name.

The movie was produced by Martin Manulis, with music by Henry Mancini, and features Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford and Jack Klugman. The film depicts the downward spiral of two average Americans who succumb to alcoholism and attempt to deal with their problems.

An Academy Award went to the film’s theme music, composed by Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The film received four other Oscar nominations, including Best Actor and Best Actress.

 

Plot

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San Francisco public relations man Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) meets and falls in love with Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), a secretary. Kirsten is a teetotaler until Joe introduces her to social drinking. Reluctant at first, after her first few Brandy Alexanders, she admits that having a drink “made me feel good.” (She had previously disdained alcohol but admitted that she loved chocolate.) Despite the misgivings of Kirsten’s father (Charles Bickford), who runs a San Mateo landscaping business, they marry and have a daughter named Debbie.

Joe slowly goes from the “two-martini lunch” to full-blown alcoholism. It affects his work and, in due time, he and Kirsten both succumb to the pleasures and pain of addiction. Joe is demoted due to poor performance brought on by too much booze. He is sent out of town on business. Kirsten finds the best way to pass the time is to drink, and she drinks a lot. While drunk one afternoon, she causes a fire in their apartment and almost kills herself and their child. Joe eventually gets fired from the public relations firm and goes from job to job over the next several years.

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One day, Joe walks by a bar and looks at his reflection in the window. He goes home and says to his wife: “I walked by Union Square Bar. I was going to go in. Then I saw myself, my reflection in the window, and I thought, ‘I wonder who that bum is.’ And then I saw it was me. Now look at me. I’m a bum. Look at me! Look at you. You’re a bum. Look at you. And look at us. Look at us. C’mon, look at us! See? A couple of bums.”

Seeking escape from their addiction, Joe and Kirsten work together in Mr. Arnesen’s business and succeed in staying sober for two months. However, the urges are too strong, and after a late-night drinking binge, Joe destroys his father-in-law’s greenhouse and plants while looking for a stashed bottle of liquor.

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After commitment to a sanitarium wearing a straitjacket, Joe finally gets sober for a while, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, a dedicated sponsor named Jim Hungerford (Jack Klugman) and regular AA meetings. When Joe tries to help Kirsten, he instead ends up drinking again, and goes to a liquor store that’s closed for the night. Joe breaks into the store and steals a bottle, resulting in another trip to the sanitarium stripped down and tied to a treatment table.

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Hungerford warns him that he must keep sober no matter what, even if that means staying away from Kirsten. He explains to Joe how alcoholics often demonstrate obsessive behavior, pointing out that Kirsten’s previous love of chocolate may have been the first sign of an addictive personality, and counsels him that most drinkers hate to drink alone in the company of sober people.

Joe eventually becomes sober for close to a year and a responsible father to his child while holding down a steady job. He tries to make amends with his father-in-law by offering him a payment for past debts and wrongs, but Mr. Arnesen lashes out at him for indirectly getting Kirsten involved in the alcoholic lifestyle. After calming down, Arnesen says that Kirsten has been disappearing for long stretches of time and picking up strangers in bars.

One night, after Debbie is asleep, Kirsten, shakily sober for two days, comes to Joe’s apartment to attempt a reconciliation. Joe sees that if he were to return to her, it could lead to more of his previous self-destructive behavior.

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Kirsten longs for going back to “the way it was,” but as Joe explains to her, “You remember how it really was? You and me and booze — a threesome. You and I were a couple of drunks on the sea of booze, and the boat sank. I got hold of something that kept me from going under, and I’m not going to let go of it. Not for you. Not for anyone. If you want to grab on, grab on. But there’s just room for you and me — no threesome.”

Kirsten refuses to admit she’s an alcoholic, but does acknowledge that without alcohol, she “can’t get over how dirty everything looks.” “You better give up on me,” she says. When Kirsten leaves, Joe fights the urge to go after her. He looks down the street as Kirsten walks away. (She walks past a bar without entering, perhaps offering a faint note of hope). When Debbie asks, “Daddy, will Mommy ever get well?” he replies gently, “I did, didn’t I?” Again Joe looks down the street, the bar’s flashing sign reflecting in his window.

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Cast

Jack Lemmon as Joe Clay

Lee Remick as Kirsten Arnesen/Clay

Charles Bickford as Ellis Arnesen

Jack Klugman as Jim Hungerford

Jack Albertson as Trayner

Alan Hewitt as Rad Leland

Tom Palmer as Ballefoy

Debbie Megowan as Debbie Clay

Maxine Stuart as Dottie

Ken Lynch as Liquor Store Proprietor

Gail Bonney as Gladys the Cleaning Lady

Mel Blanc as TV Cartoon Characters (voice)

Jack Riley as Waiter

Katherine Squire as Mrs. Nolan

Lisa Guiraut as Belly Dancer

Jennifer Edwards as Debbie Clay at age 5

Lynn Borden uncredited as a party guest

 

Production

Background

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JP Miller found his title in the 1896 poem, “Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos.” Some critics observed that the movie lacked the impact of the original television production, which starred Cliff Robertson as Joe and Piper Laurie as Kirsten. In an article written for DVD Journal, critic D.K. Holm noted numerous changes that altered the original considerably when the material was filmed. He cites as an example the hiring of Jack Lemmon. With his participation, “little remained of the Vetat Incohare Longam” by the English writer Ernest Dowson (1867–1900). It also inspired the title song devised by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer:

 

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,

Love and desire and hate;

I think they have no portion in us after

We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream

Our path emerges for a while, then closes

Within a dream.

 

(Coincidentally, Johnny Mercer, who wrote the lyrics for the title tune, had also written the lyrics for the theme from “Laura”, a 1944 classic film in which Dowson’s poem was quoted in its entirety. Dowson also wrote the poem Cynara which gave Margaret Mitchell the title for her novel Gone With the Wind).

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Miller’s teleplay for Playhouse 90, also titled Days of Wine and Roses, had received favorable critical attention and was nominated for an Emmy in the category “Best Writing of a Single Dramatic Program – One Hour or Longer.” Manulis, a Playhouse 90 producer, decided the material was ideal founding teleplay, except for actor Charles Bickford reprising his role.”

 

Filming

 The film’s Northern California locations included San Francisco, Albany and the Golden Gate Fields racetrack. The Oscar-winning title song had music by Henry Mancini and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Single records by Andy Williams and the Henry Mancini chorus made the Billboard Top 40.

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Director Blake Edwards became a non-drinker a year after completing the film and went into substance recovery. He said that he and Jack Lemmon were heavy drinkers while making the film. Edwards used the theme of alcohol abuse often in his films, including: 10 (1979), Blind Date (1987) and Skin Deep (1989). Both Lemmon and Remick sought help from Alcoholics Anonymous long after they had completed the film. Lemmon revealed to James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio his past drinking problems and his recovery. The film had a lasting effect in helping alcoholics deal with their problem. Today, Days of Wine and Roses is required viewing in many alcoholic and drug rehabilitation clinics across America.

 In the same Inside the Actors Studio interview, Lemmon stated that there was pressure by the studio to change the ending. To preserve the integrity of the movie, scenes were filmed in the same order as they appeared in the script, with the last scene filmed last. This is in contrast with the standard practice of filming different scenes together that take place in the same location, which reduces expenses, shortens the schedule and aids with scheduling the actors’ time on set. Immediately following the completion of filming, Lemmon left for Europe and remained out of communication so that the studio would be forced to release the movie without changing the storyline.

 

Reception

Box office and release

The producers used the following ironic tagline to market the film:

This, in its own terrifying way, is a love story.

The picture opened in wide release in the United States on December 26, 1962. The box office receipts for the film were good given the numbers reported are in 1962 dollars. It earned $4 million in US theatrical rentals, making it the 15th highest grossing film of the year. Total domestic sales were $8,123,077.

 

Critical response

The film became one of Blake Edwards’ best-regarded films, opening to praise from the critics and audiences alike. New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote, “[It] is a commanding picture, and it is extremely well played by Mr. Lemmon and Miss Remick, who spare themselves none of the shameful, painful scenes. But for all their brilliant performing and the taut direction of Blake Edwards, they do not bring two pitiful characters to complete and overpowering life.”

The staff at Variety magazine liked the film, especially the acting, writing, “Miller’s gruelling drama illustrates how the unquenchable lure of alcohol can supersede even love, and how marital communication cannot exist in a house divided by one-sided boozing… Lemmon gives a dynamic and chilling performance. Scenes of his collapse, particularly in the violent ward, are brutally realistic and terrifying. Remick, too, is effective, and there is solid featured work from Charles Bickford and Jack Klugman in fine supporting performances.”

In a review of the DVD, critic Gary W. Tooze lauded Edwards’ direction and the acting, writing, “Blake Edwards’s powerful adaptation of J.P. Miller’s Playhouse 90 story, starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick in career performances, remains a variation in his body of work largely devoted to comedy… Lemmon is at his best and ditto for Remick in this harrowing tale of people consumed by their mutual addiction. This turns to an honest and heartbreaking portrayal of alcoholism as deftly done as any film I can remember.”

Margaret Parsons, film curator at the National Gallery of Art, said, “[The film] remains one of the most gut-wrenching dramas of alcohol-related ruin and recovery ever captured on film…and it’s also one of the pioneering films of the genre.”

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on seven reviews.

 

Awards

 

Academy Awards Wins (1963)

 

Academy Awards Nominations (1963)

 

Other wins

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: OCIC Award Blake Edwards; Prize San Sebastián, Best Actor, Jack Lemmon; Best Actress, Lee Remick; 1963.
  • Fotogramas de Plata, Spain: Fotogramas de Plata; Best Foreign Performer, Jack Lemmon; 1964.

 

Other Nominations

  • Golden Globes: Golden Globe; Best Motion Drama Picture; Best Motion Drama Picture Actor, Jack Lemmon; Best Motion Drama Picture Actress, Lee Remick; Best Motion Picture Director, Blake Edwards; 1963.
  • British Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA Film Award; Best Film from any Source, USA; Best Foreign Actor, Jack Lemmon; Best Foreign Actress, Lee Remick; 1964.

 

Other honors

 

Notable Quotes from the Film

  • Joe: My name is Joe Clay. I’m an alcoholic.

  • Kirsten: Thanks for the compliment, but I know how I look. This is the way I look when I’m sober. It’s enough to make a person drink, wouldn’t you say? You see, the world looks so dirty to me when I’m not drinking. Joe, remember Fisherman’s Wharf? The water when you looked too close? That’s the way the world looks to me when I’m not drinking.