British actress Vivien Leigh had that undefinable star quality. For 30 years, the exquisitely beautiful Leigh captivated film and theater audiences with her well-crafted, magnetic performances. In fact, Leigh won lead actress Oscars for creating two of the most indelible characters in screen history — the strong-willed, manipulative Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara in the beloved 1939 Civil War epic, Gone With the Wind, and Tennessee Williams' fragile, faded Southern beauty Blanche DuBois in 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire. Her accomplishment is all the more remarkable because Leigh, who died at age 53, made only 19 movies. A new book is out on the interesting actress called "Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait" by film scholar Kendra Bean. The recently published, lavishly illustrated biography commemorating the actress' centenary combines historical material, including documents from the archives of her second husband, Laurence Olivier, as well as interviews with those who knew her.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD NEWS: NOVEMBER 2013
Hard to believe another month has passed, and we are headed into the final innings of 2013. Here is some of the classic Hollywood news that has made its way on to my desk...
The eve before Halloween is known as Mischief Night. A few days ago it marked 75 years ago that on Oct. 30, 1938, a 23-year-old Orson Welles caused more than a bit of mischief with his landmark radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds." Most of the 6 million who tuned into Welles' "Mercury Theater on the Air" innovative adaptation of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic about a Martian invasion realized it was drama. But because of its realistic news bulletin format, some believed aliens from the Red Planet had actually landed and overrun the small town of Grover's Mill, N.J., and were on the move through the rest of the country. Even in this pre-Twitter and Facebook era, the reaction was instantaneous. Listeners called into Chicago newspapers in a panic during the broadcast, while in San Francisco people fretted that the Martians were heading West. And in New Jersey, National Guardsmen were calling their armories to find out if they needed to report.
Broadway legend Angela Lansbury has made a lot of movies, but she never won an Oscar. Lansbury has received three Academy Award nominations for her supporting performances in 1944's Gaslight, 1945's The Picture of Dorian Gray and 1962's The Manchurian Candidate. Her other credits include Blue Hawaii, The World of Henry Orient and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. She also did voice work for the first animated feature to receive a best picture nomination, Beauty and the Beast. Finally though it was announced that Ms. Lansbury will receive an Honorary Oscar at next year's Academy Award ceremony. It is about time... ...and that's the classic Hollywood news for this month!