Today is the 108th anniversary of the birth of Jessie Matthews, one of Britain’s greatest screen stars. Jessie is incredibly under-appreciated, even by devoted classic film fans, so I’ve decided to pay tribute to her today in hopes to bring more attention to her spectacular films. This triple-threat talent was born Jessie Margaret Matthews in London on March 11, 1907. One of sixteen children, Jessie … Continue reading Jessie Matthews: A tribute
Born May 29, 1896, Lillian Powell was a Canadian actress and dancer who would go on to train at Denishawn, appear in experimental short films and find success in television, in a career lasting from the 1920s through the end of the 1960s. After adopting her within the first year of her life, Charles and Eliza Powell moved Lillian from her birthplace of British Columbia … Continue reading Lillian Powell: a tribute
Born on this day in 1888, Frances Marion (born Marion Benson Owens) would grow up to become one of the most prominent women of Hollywood’s golden age. But Frances Marion was no screen star — she was a writer, one of only a few women who were able to find major success in the male-dominated world of 20th century screenwriting. Before becoming a screenwriter, she … Continue reading Frances Marion: a tribute
Ruby Ann Wallace, later known as Ruby Dee, was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 27, 1924. As Ruby described in With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, her parents were teenagers who hadn’t wanted another child. They already had one son and one daughter. When Ruby was about three years old, her mother left the family “to follow a preacher man.” Her father … Continue reading Ruby Dee: a tribute
Monetta Eloyse Darnell, who would later become known professionally as Linda Darnell, was born on October 16, 1923 in Dallas, Texas. One of six children (two of whom were half-siblings), Monetta’s mother had bigger dreams for her than the other children and was sure she had the potential to make it in show business. By the time she reached her teens, Darnell was working as … Continue reading Linda Darnell: a tribute
Born July 6, 1927, Janet Helen Morrison is probably best known by modern audiences as the lady who gets killed in the shower scene of Psycho. But under her stage name of Janet Leigh, the actress racked up over 80 film and television credits. She was also an accomplished stage performer, a wife (married four times), a mother and a best-selling author. Janet was discovered in 1945 by … Continue reading Janet Leigh: a tribute
There is a great pool of extremely talented actors from the studio era who never (aside from an honorary award, in some cases) won an Oscar. Ironically, many of these actors who were ignored by the Academy during their heyday have become old Hollywood’s most enduring and beloved stars. One such man is Gene Kelly, born Eugene Curran Kelly on August 23, 1912. The Pennsylvania … Continue reading 100 years of Gene Kelly: A centennial tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest performers!
It takes a special breed of actress to hold her own against such a fierce leading lady as Joan Crawford. Few were able to accomplish such a feat as solidly as Ann Blyth. Blyth starred alongside Crawford in the classic Warner Bros. drama Mildred Pierce (1945), filling the greedy, man-eating role of Veda Pierce, daughter to Crawford’s Mildred. She was absolutely perfect in the film … Continue reading Happy birthday, Ann Blyth!
Today is a very special day: the 90th anniversary of Frances Ethel Gumm’s birth. Most people would probably, upon reading that sentence, think “Franches Ethel who?,” but we classic film fans know that she later became the legendary actress and singer Judy Garland. Frances (nicknamed “Baby”) was born on June 10, 1922, to a Minnesota family that managed the town’s little theater. The family was … Continue reading Happy birthday, Joots!