Category: Oscar Profile

Oscar Profile #332: Lee Remick

Born December 14, 1935 in Quincey, Massachusetts to Gertrude (nee Waldo), an actress and Francis Remick, a department store owner, Lee Remick was educated at Barnard College, where she studied dancing as well as acting.

Remick made her TV debut at the age of 17 in an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre. After several more TV roles, she made her film debut as the Southern majorette baton twirler who catches Andy Griffith’s eye in Elia Kazan’s 1957 film, A Face in the Crowd, the same year that she married TV director Bill Colleran. Her second film role was also as a Southern sexpot in Martin Ritt’s 1958 film of William Faulkner’s The Long, Hot Summer alongside Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Orson Welles and Angela Lansbury.

The actress gave birth to her daughter Kate in 1959, the same year she starred opposite Don Murray and Richard Egan in Richard Fleischer’s These Thousand Hills and ended the year in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder in which she became a major star in a role intended for Lana Turner opposite James Stewart.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #331: Robert Aldrich

Born August 9, 1918 in Cranston, Rhode Island, to the former Lora Lawson and newspaper publisher Edward Burgess Aldrich, Robert Aldrich was a long-time Hollywood director. He was the grandson of U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, nephew of John D. Rockefeller and cousin of Nelson Rockefeller. He was educated at the Moses Brown School in Providence, and studied economics at the University of Virginia where he also was a letterman on the 1940 football team. In 1941, he dropped out of college for a $50-a-week clerical job at RKO Radio Pictures, resulting in his being disowned by his family. It has been said that “No American film director was born as wealthy as Aldrich—and then so thoroughly cut off from family money.”

Aldrich was a quick learner. By 1942, he had become a second assistant director on such films as Joan of Paris, The Big Street, Behind the Rising Sunand A Lady Takes a Chance. By 1945, he had moved up to Assistant Director on such films as The Story of G.I. Joe, The Southerner, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, Body and Soul, Force of Evil, The Red Pony, M and Limelight.

After working with Charlie Chaplin on Limelight, Aldrich became a director in his own right. After some TV work in 1952, he directed his first theatrical film, 1953’s Big Leaguer starring Edward G. Robinson. From there, he went on to direct such well-remembered 1950s films as Apache, Vera Cruz, Kiss Me Deadly, The Big Knife, Autumn Leaves, Attack and The Angry Hills.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #330: Natalie Portman

Born June 9, 1981 in Jerusalem, Neta-Lee Hershlag, known professionally as Natalie Portman, was the only child of an Israeli doctor and an American homemaker. She holds dual American and Israeli citizenship. The family relocated the U.S. when she was three years old.

Portman began taking dance lessons at the age of four. At ten, she was spotted in a pizza parlor by a Revlon agent who offered her a job as a child model. She turned the offer down in favor of acting. In 1992, she auditioned for the lead role of a young girl who is prepared to commit murder to get the lead in a school play in off-Broadway’s Ruthless!. Laura Bell Bundy got the part, while Portman and Britney Spears were both chosen as Bundy’s understudies. One year later she auditioned for, and won, the part of the 12-year-old orphan befriended by assassin Jean Reno in her first film, Léon: The Professional.

Following the success of 1994’s Léon: The Professional, Portman was cast in major roles in four 1995-1996 films, Heat, Beautiful Girls, Everyone Says I Love You and Mars Attacks! . She had to wait three years for her next role, but the wait paid off when she was cast as Padme Naberri AKA Queen Amidala in Geroge Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, the first of three prequels to the original Star Wars. That same year she starred opposite Susan Sarandon in Anywhere but Here, earning her first Golden Globe nomination.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #329: Casey Affleck

Born August 12, 1975 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck-Boldt, known professionally as Casey Affleck, like his older brother, Ben, began his career as a child actor.

Affleck made his film debut at the age of 12 in 1988’s Lemon Sky. Two years later he was playing Robert Kennedy from 12 to 15 in the TV mini-series, The Kennedys of Massachusetts. In 1995, he and friend Joaquin Phoenix had major roles in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For starring Nicole Kidman and Matt Dillon. Two years after that he had a major supporting role in Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting, written by childhood friend Matt Damon and big brother Ben, for which they later won Oscars.

Affleck was introduced to Summer Phoenix by her brother, Joaquin. They began dating in 1999, became engaged in 2004 and married in 2006. Their first son was born in 2004, their second in 2008. The actor found steady work through 2006, but it was the back-to-back success of Andrew Domink’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and brother Ben’s Gone Baby Gone in 2007 that made casting directors sit up and take notice. He received his first Oscar nomination for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #327: Robert Surtees

Born September 8, 1906 in Covington, Kentucky, Robert Surtees was raised in Ohio. After graduating high school, he got a job as a photographer and re-toucher at a portrait studio in Cincinnati. He moved to California in 1925 intending to go to college, but was offered a job as a camera assistant at Universal based on some of his published photography. In 1928 and 1929 he also worked abroad for UFA in Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland, returning to Hollywood in 1930. It wasn’t until 1935’s A Midsummer Night’s Comedy that he would become a full-fledged camera operator. He later went to work for MGM where he became a director of photography (cinematographer) in 1943 and soon received his first of sixteen Oscar nominations for 1944’s Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.

After his long apprenticeship, Surtees quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s most distinguished cinematographers. His remaining 1940s input included such diverse works as Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, A Date with Judy and Intruder in the Dust. 1950’s King Solomon’s Mines earned him his second Oscar nomination and first win. 1951’s Quo Vadis brought him his third nomination and 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful fourth nomination and second win.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #326: Oliver Stone

Born September 15, 1946 in New York, New York, Oliver Stone’s father was a non-practicing Jewish stockbroker and his mother a German-east European non-practicing Catholic war bride. Stone was raised Episcopalian in Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut. He is now a Buddhist.

Stone graduated New York University with a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree in 1971. He made his film debut as an actor in a minor role in 1971’s The Battle of Love’s Return and his debut as a writer and director with the same year’s Last Year in Viet Nam. He became a household name with his controversial screenplay for Alan Parker’s 1978 film, Midnight Express, for which he won his first of three Oscars on the first of his eleven nominations to date.

Stone’s first success as a director came with the 1981 horror film, The Hand, but he was soon back writing screenplays for other directors including 1983’s Scarface for Brian De Palma and 1985’s Year of the Dragon for Michael Cimino. He came into his own as a writer-director with two 1986 films, Salvador and Platoon, earning Oscar nominations for writing both films and a directing nomination for the latter, which he won.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #325: Guy Green

Born November 5, 1913 in Somerset, England, Guy Green was a true renaissance man of the movies. His love for movies began at an early age, leading to his first job a projectionist aboard the ocean liner The Majestic, which brought him to America for the first time in 1929. He worked in London as a portrait photographer and as an assistant cameraman for an advertising agency. He began his screen career as a clapper boy in the camera department at Shepperton Studios in 1933. By 1935 he had become a camera operator, eventually working for the likes of Powell and Pressburger on One of Our Aircraft Is Missing and David Lean on In Which We Serve.

Green became a D.P. (director of photography aka cinematographer) in 1943. By 1944 his cinematography on Carol Reed’s The Way Ahead make critics sit up and take notice. Two years later, he won an Oscar for his black-and-white cinematography on Lean’s Great Expectations. He met his wife Josephine while working on Lean’s Oliver Twist in 1948. In 1949, he co-founded the British Society of Cinematographers with Freddie Young and Jack Cardiff.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #324: Anna Magnani

Born March 7, 1908 to Marina Magnani and an unknown father in Rome, Italy, Anna Magnani was raised in poverty by her maternal grandparents with whom her mother left her. Although it was first said that Magnani’s father was Egyptian, she later claimed that he was from Calabria, Italy, although she never knew his name.

Magnani was considered a “plain, frail child with a forlornness of spirit” by her grandparents who compensated by pampering her with food and clothes. Growing up, she is said to have felt more at ease around “more earthly” companions, often befriending the “toughest kid on the block.” This trait carried over into her adult life when she proclaimed, “I hate respectability. Give me the life of the streets, of common people.”

At 17, Magnani went on to study at the Eleonora Duse Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome for two years. To support herself, Magnani sang in nightclubs and cabarets; leading to her being dubbed “the Italian Edith Piaf”.

On stage, Magnani was considered an “outstanding theatre actress” in such plays as Anna Christie and The Petrified Forest. She made her film debut in an uncredited role in 1928, but didn’t begin her screen career in earnest until a few years later.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #323: Mary Steenburgen

Born February 8, 1953 in Newport, Arkansas to Nellie May (Wall) and Maurice Steenburgen, a freight-train conductor, Mary Steenburgen grew up tap-dancing her way through talent shows and school functions. Active in school drama classes as well, she appeared in numerous high school plays, enrolling in Hendrix College upon graduation. At the recommendation of her drama professor, she left college in 1972 and moved to New York to audition for the Neighborhood Playhouse to continue her education and won a spot.

Steenburgen worked a series of jobs while continuing to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse and was discovered by Jack Nicholson at Paramount’s New York offices six years later. He immediately cast her as his leading lady in 1978’s Goin’ South. She met and fell in love with future husband Malcolm McDowell, the star of her second film, 1979’s Time After Time, on the set of the film. Her third film, 1980’s Melvin and Howard, won her an Oscar. She would receive a Golden Globe nomination for her fourth, 1981’s Ragtime.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #322: Karl Malden

Born Mladen George Sekulovich on March 22, 1912 to a Serbian father and a Czech mother in Chicago, Illinois, the future Karl Malden spoke only Serbian until he entered kindergarten. The eldest of three children, his father worked in the steel mills and as a milkman in Gary, Indiana. His mother, who was twenty when he was born, worked as a seamstress. His father had a passion for music and organized a choir within the Serbian Orthodox church in which young Malden sang. He also taught drama and put on plays in which young Malden acted. It is worth noting that Malden’s hardworking father lived to be 89, dying in 1975. His equally hardworking mother lived to be 103, dying in 1995. They both lived long enough to enjoy much of their son’s extraordinarily long career as a major star.

Young Malden worked alongside his father in the steel mills after graduating high school. It wasn’t until 1934 that he left Gary to seek his fame and fortune as an actor. It didn’t take long. By 1937 he was on Broadway performing with the famed Group Theatre in Golden Boy. He married his wife Mona, born in 1918, in 1938. In 1940 he made his film debut in They Knew What They Wanted. Although he appeared sporadically in films throughout the 1940s, most notably in Boomerang! and Kiss of Death, he could be seen more frequently on the Broadway stage where he worked steadily, most memorably in All My Sons and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Malden did not get to reprise his role in the film version of All My Sons, but he did get to repeat his great success in the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire for which he won on Oscar on his first nomination. Outstanding in 1953’s I Confess, the actor received a second Oscar nomination for 1954’s On the Waterfront. He gave equally outstanding performances in 1956’s Baby Doll for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, 1957’s Fear Strikes Out and 1959’s The Hanging Tree for which he was nominated for a Laurel Award.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #321: Florence Bates

Born April 15, 1888 to Jewish immigrants in Austin, Texas, Florence Rabe was the second of two children. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Mathematics in 1906, after which she taught school. She gave up her career in 1909 when she married her first husband and gave birth to her only daughter. When the marriage ended, she studied law, passing the bar exam in 1914 and becoming the first female lawyer in the State of Texas.

After the death of her parents, Rabe left the legal profession to help her sister operate their father’s antiques business. She also became a bilingual (English-Spanish) radio commentator whose program was designed to foster good relations between the United States and Mexico. In 1929, following the stock market crash and the death of her sister, she closed the antiques shop and married wealthy businessman Will Jacoby. When he lost his fortune, the couple moved to Los Angeles and opened a bakery, which proved a successful venture until they sold it in the 1940s.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #320: Ann Blyth

Born August 16, 1928 in Mount Kisco, New York to Irish-American parents, Ann Blyth’s parents split up when she was very young. She moved to Manhattan with her mother and sister, where they shared a walk-up apartment on East 31st Street and her mother took in ironing to make ends meet. A natural actress and trained singer with a lilting soprano, Blyth performed in radio plays as a child from 1935 to 1941 when she was cast as the daughter of Paul Lukas and Mady Christians in the award-winning Broadway play, Watch on the Rhine.

While on tour with the play in Los Angeles, Blyth was offered a contract with Universal Studios. She accepted and made her film debut third-billed behind Donald O’Connor and Peggy Ryan in the minor 1944 musical, Chip Off the Old Block. She followed it with similar roles in The Merry Monahans, Babes on Swing Street and Bowery to Broadway later that year. Then came her big break when Warner Bros. borrowed her to play Joan Crawford’s selfish daughter in Mildred Pierce.

A sensation in Mildred Pierce, the petite actress (all 5’2’’ of her) received an Oscar nomination for her performance. Warner Bros. borrowed her again for the lead in Danger Signal, but a skiing accident in which she broke her back put her out of commission for a year and a half and she was replaced by Faye Emerson. She returned to Universal in a supporting role in 1947’s Brute Force, but had a more substantial role on loan-out to MGM in that year’s Killer McCoy. 1948 saw her once again put to good use in A Woman’s Vengeance, Another Part of the Forest and Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid. In 1949 she starred opposite Bing Crosby in the box-office success, but critically lambasted Top O’ the Morning. She rebounded dramatically as the star of 1950’s Our Very Own opposite Farley Granger.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #319: Clifton Webb

Born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 18, 1889, the entertainer later known professionally as Clifton Webb, moved with his mother Mabelle to New York, New York in 1892. On stage from 1902, he had become a professional ballroom dancer by the age of 19, often appearing with star dancer Bonnie Glass who eventually replaced him with Rudolf Valentino. On Broadway from 1913 and on screen in minor roles from 1917, he played the second male lead behind Richard Barthelmess in 1925’s New Toys, but had to wait another nineteen years for another film role, one that would make him a major film star for the rest of his life.

One of his most successful Broadway roles was in Irving Berlin’s 1932 musical, Thousands Cheer in which he introduced the song “Easter Parade”. This led to an 18-month contract with MGM which wanted to make him their Fred Astaire, but nothing came of it. By 1939 he had left musicals behind to star in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest with Estelle Winwood as Lady Bracknell. Two years later he was starring in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit with Peggy Wood as Ruth and Mildred Natwick as Madame Arcati.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #318: Peter Hedges

Born July 6, 1962 in West Des Moines, Iowa, Peter Hedges was the third child of psychotherapist Carole Simpson and Episcopalian minister Robert Hedges. Father Hedges was, among other things, the chaplain of the Iowa National Guard for 21 years before relocating to Texas where he died in 2014 at the age of 88.

Peter Hedges attended West Des Moines’ Valley High School, where he was involved in the theater department, including the improv group and the mime troupe, The Bakers Dozen. He later went to the North Carolina School of the Arts where he studied drama. Although he started out as an actor in the second lead of a film at the age of 15 as the older brother of star Eric Buhr in 1977’s Sammy, his acting has since taken a backseat to his writing. Hedges is better known these days as an author, playwright, screenwriter and film director.

Hedges’ first six plays, Oregon, Champions of the Average Joe, The Age of Pie, Andy and Claire, Teddy by the Sea and Imagining Brad were written and performed between 1984 and 1988, preceding his first novel. That novel was What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, published in 1991 and made into a film in 1993 for which he wrote the screenplay. His father, in an example of art imitating life, played the minister in the film which starred Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio in his first Oscar-nominated performance.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Oscar Profile #137: Robert Morley

Born May 26, 1908 in Semley, Wilshire, England, Robert Morley was the son of a major in the British Army and a German-born mother. Educated in England, Germany, France and Italy, he was expected to go into diplomatic service, but chose acting instead.

Morley made his West End debut in a 1929 production of Treasure Island and his film debut in an uncredited role in the 1935 British version of Scrooge. He took the London theatrical world by storm as Oscar Wilde in 1936 and equaled that acclaim as Henry Higgins in the 1937 revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. In 1938 he made his Hollywood debut as Louis XVI opposite Norma Shearer’s Marie Antoinette for which he would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Later that year he brought Oscar Wilde to Broadway and further acclaim.

In 1941 Morley got to act Shaw on screen in the acclaimed film version of Major Barbara in which he played Wendy Hiller’s father. In 1940 he married Joan Buckmaster, daughter of acting legend Gladys Cooper. In 1941, while touring as Sheridan Whiteside in Kaufman and Hart’s The Man Who Came to Dinner, the first of his three children was born. His parents named him Sheridan after Morley’s character. He would become one of Britain’s most acclaimed theatre critics and writers.

There’s still more. Click here to continue reading…

Cinema Sight by Wesley Lovell © 1996-2017 Frontier Theme