Friday, January 29, 2010

John Forsythe

John Forsythe was born John Lincoln Freund on January 29, 1918 in Penns Grove, New Jersey. The son of Samuel Jeremiah Freund, a stockbroker and Blance Materson. John grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

During World War II, John Forsythe served with the US Army Corps. During World War II he also worked with injured soldiers who had developed speech problems.

After World War II, he became a baseball announcer and a drama teacher. Joan Collins would co-star opposite him on Dynasty (1981), was one of his drama students.

In 1943, he signed a contract with Warner Brothers and made his film debut in Northern Pursuit (1943) and his second film was Destination Tokyo (1943). During the 1940s and 1950s he also appeared in The Captive City (1952), The Glass Web (1953), Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), The Trouble With Harry (1955), and The Ambassador's Daughter (1956).

During the 1950s, John Forsythe was a familiar face on television appearing in episodes of Robert Montgomery Presents, Suspense, Kraft Television Theater, and Studio One.

In 1957, John Forsythe was cast to play single father Bentley Gregg in the sitcom Bachelor Father. The show would run for 157 episodes and four seasons ending in 1962.

During the 1960s, John appeared in such films as Madame X (1966), In Cold Blood (1967) and Topaz (1969). He also frequently appeared on television, making appearances in Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The Dick Powell Show and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

In 1965, John Forsythe starred in the short lived The John Forsythe Show.

The 1970s brought John Forsythe one of his most famous roles, as the unseen millionaire Charles Townsend on the 1970s crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981).

The 1980s brought John Forsythe another famous role, as patriarch Blake Carrington in Dynasty (1981-1989). This role would bring Forsythe three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He was also nominated six times for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series, winning in 1983 and 1984. In 1984, he also won a Soap Opera Digest Award for his performance as Blake Carrington.

During the 1990s, he appeared as Sen. William Franklin Powers in the short lived series The Powers That Be.

At age 82, he would once again play Charles Townsend in the movie Charlie's Angels (2000) and would reprise the role in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003).

John Forsythe owned and bred Thoroughbred racehorses for many years and was a member of the Board of Directors of Hollywood Park Racetrack. He was the recipient of the 1988 Eclipse Award of Merit for his contibution in promoting the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

John Forsythe has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine's career has spanned over five decades. He is known for his gruff, but gentle voice. At the age of 93, Ernest Borgnine is still active in both films and television.

Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnine on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. The son of Charles Borgnine and Anna Boselli who had emigrated from Carpi (near Modena) Italy.

As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, but took no real interest in acting. At 18, after graduating from high school in New Haven, and undecided about his future career, he joined the navy, where he stayed for ten years until leaving in 1945. During World War II he reached the rank of Gunner's Mate 1st Class. Ernest's military decorations included the American Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, and the World War II Victory Medal.

In 2004, Borgnine received the honorary rank of Chief Petty Officer from the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry D. Scott—the US Navy's highest ranking enlisted sailor at the time—for Borgnine's support of the Navy and naval families worldwide.

After leaving the Navy, Ernest Borgnine worked a variety of factory jobs. His mother suggested that his forceful personality could make him suitable for a career in acting, and Borgnine promptly enrolled at the Randall School of Drama in Hartford. After completing the course he joined Robert Porterfield's famous Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, staying there for four years, undertaking odd jobs and playing every type of role imaginable.

Ernest Borgnine's big break came in 1949, when he made his acting debut on Broadway playing a male nurse in "Harvey".

In 1951 Ernest Borgnine moved to Los Angeles to pursue a movie career, and made his film debut as Bill Street in The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951).

Ernest Borgnine's big movie break came when he was cast in the role of Sgt. "Fatso" Judson in From Here to Eternity (1953).

Ernest Borgnine's film credits include Johnny Guitar (1954), Vera Cruz (1954), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Marty (1955), The Last Command (1955), The Catered Affair (1956), The Badlanders (1958), Torpedo Run (1958), The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Ice Station Zebra (1968), The Wild Bunch (1969), The Revengers (1972), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Law and Disorder (1974), Convoy (1978), Escape from New York (1981), Moving Target (1988), The Long Ride Home (2003) and Another Harvest Moon (2008).

Ernest Borgnine won the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance in Marty (1955).

On television, he is best known for playing Quinton McHale in the 1962-66 series McHale's Navy and the mid 1980s action series Airwolf.

He also provided the voice of the character Mermaid Man in the series, SpongeBob SquarePants and the voice of Carface in All Dogs Go to Heaven.

He has also appeared on A Grandpa For Christmas, 7th Heaven, Touched by an Angel, Walker, Texas Ranger, JAG and Murder She Wrote.

In 2009, at the age of 92 he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his performance on ER.

Ernest Borgnine was the very first "center square" on "The Hollywood Squares" (1965).

Ernest Borgnine is an active Freemason and is presently the Honorary Chairman of the Scottish Rite RiteCare Program, which sponsors 175 Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs nationwide.

Ernest Borgnine has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Ernest Borgnine is still active and will be in two movies debuting in 2010: Red and Snatched.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dead End Kids

In 1934, Sidney Kingsley wrote a play about a group of children growing up on the streets of New York City. A total of fourteen children were hired to play various roles in the play entitled Dead End. The play opened at the Belasco Theatre on October 28, 1935 and ran for two years, totalling 684 performances.

Samuel Goldwyn and director William Wyler saw the play and decided to turn it into a film. They paid $165,000 for the rights to the film and began auditioning actors in Los Angeles.

Failing to find actors that could convey the emotions they saw in the play, Goldwyn and Wyler hired six of the original Kids (Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Huntz Hall, Bernard Punsly, Gabriel Dell, and Leo Gorcey) to star in the film. The Kids were all signed to two-year contracts, allowing for possible future films, and began working on the 1937 United Artists' film, Dead End.

The Dead End Kids only made one movie for Goldwyn. During production, the boys ran wild around the studio, destroying property, including crashing a truck into a sound stage. Goldwyn chose not to use them again and sold their contract to Warner Brothers.

At Warner Brothers, the Dead End Kids made six films including Angels with Dirty Faces (1938). The last one was in 1939, when they were released from their contracts due to more antics on the studio lot.

The Dead End Kids proved to be so popular that they continued to make movies under various names, including The East Side Kids, The Little Tough Guys, and The Bowery Boys, until 1958.

In total, the various teams that made up 'The Dead End Kids' a total of 89 films and three serials for four different studios during their 21 year long film career.

The team was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame for motion pictures in February, 1994. Sadly, only Bernard Punsly and Huntz Hall of the original Dead End Kids attended as they were the only surviving Dead End Kids.

The original Dead End Kids in the films were Billy Halop (Tommy), Bobby Jordan (Angel), Huntz Hall (Dippy), Bernard Punsly (Milty), Gabriel Dell (T.B.), and Leo Gorcey (Spit).

Billy Halop (Tommy) was born on February 11, 1920 and died on November 9, 1976. Billy Halop made 67 movies and television shows during his 38 year career. In his later years, he had a reoccurring role on All in the Family as Bert Munson.

Billy Halop's sister Florence Halop is most known for her role as Flo on the televsion sitcom Night Court.

Bobby Jordan (Angel) was the youngest Dead End Kid born on April 1, 1923. Bobby died on September 10, 1965. He appeared in 69 films and television shows from 1937 to 1961. Bobby's credits include Bonanza, Route 66, Maverick, and Treasure of Monte Cristo (1949).

Henry Richard "Huntz" Hall (Dippy) was born on August 15, 1919. Huntz died on January 30, 1999. He appeared in 116 films and television shows from 1937 to 1993. Huntz appeared on Different Strokes, Flipper, and Herbie Rides Again (1974).

Bernard Punsly (Milty) was born on July 11, 1923. Bernard retired in 1943 after making 19 films. He left show business and became a physician. When Huntz Hall died in 1999, Punsly became the last surviving cast member of the Dead End Kids.

Gabriel Dell (T.B.) was born on October 8, 1919 and died on July 3, 1988. He appeared in 81 films and television shows from 1937 to 1982. He went on to appear in Earthquake (1974), Barney Miller, Sanford and Son, and I Dream of Jeanie.

Leo B. Gorcey (Spit) was the oldest Dead End Kid born on June 3, 1917. He died on June 2, 1961. Leo appeared in 90 films and television shows from 1937 to 1966, including playing the First Cab Driver in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963). He also appeared in Invisible Stripes (1939) and Docks of New York (1945). Leo's father was actor Bernard Gorcey. Leo's brother David Gorcey also became a Dead End Kid.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dana Andrews

Dana Andrews was a leading man of the 1940s and 1950s, and despite an impressive career he has never been award a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dana Andrews was born Carver Dana Andrews on January 1, 1909 in Covington County, Mississippi. The son of Charles Forrest Andrews, a Baptist minister and Annis Speed.

Dana Andrews studied business administration at Sam Houston State Teachers College in Texas, but took a bookkeeping job with Gulf Oil in 1929 prior to graduating.

In 1931 he hitchhiked to California, hoping to get work as an actor. Dana's early jobs included digging ditches, driving a school bus, picking oranges, a stock boy and pumping gas.

Dana's employer at a Van Nuys gas station believed in him and agreed to invest in him, asking to be repaid if and when Andrews made it as an actor. Van Nuys was right, Dana had something special.

Andrews studied opera and also entered the Pasadena Community Playhouse, the famed theatre company and drama school. Although, the movies did not really capture on Dana Andrew's singing voice.

In 1940, Dana Andrews made his film debut in The Westerner.

Dana Andrews most memorable roles were as the gangster in the 1941 comedy Ball of Fire, playing a lynching victim in The Ox Bow Incident (1943), and a soldier returning home in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).

Dana Andrews signature role was in the 1944 film noir Laura, playing an obsessed detective opposite Gene Tierney.

He appeared with actress Gene Tierney in five films: Tobacco Road (1941), Belle Starr (1941), Laura (1944), The Iron Curtain (1948) and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950).

Dana Andrews also appeared in State Fair (1945) The Iron Curtain (1948) Three Hours to Kill (1954) Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) In Harm's Way (1965) The Devil's Brigade (1968) and Airport 1975 (1974).

Dana Andrews served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1963 to 1965.

Dana Andrews was one of the first to speak out against the degradation of the acting profession, particularly actresses doing nude scenes just to get a role.

Dana Andrews is one of the first actors to do a public service announcement about alcoholism, having battled alcoholism himself.

Dana Andrews married Mary Todd on November 17, 1939 and they were married until his death, 53 years.

Dana Andrews died on December 17, 1992 of pneumonia complicated by by congestive heart failure.