Friday, April 23, 2010

Shirley Temple

From beloved child actress to Ambassador, Shirley Temple is one of the most celebrated persons of all time.

Shirley Jane Temple was born April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California to George Francis Temple, a bank employee and Gertrude Amelia Krieger, a housewife.

Early in 1931, Mrs. Temple took the first steps in bringing her daughter to the screen. She was convinced her three-year-old daughter had exceptional talent. She enrolled her daughter in the highly competitive Meglin's Dance School in Los Angeles, California on the Mack Sennett lot for twice weekly dance lessons.

Shortly after Shirley Temple's third birthday, Educational Pictures planned a series of one-reelers called Baby Burlesks to compete with the popular Our Gang comedy shorts. Charles Lamont, a film director with Educational, conducted a talent search among the children at the Meglin School, found Temple hiding behind a piano, and encouraged her to audition for the series. She did, and was signed to a two-year contract in January 1932 at $10 a day.

Shirley Temple made her screen debut in 1932 in the film Runt Page. Her first spoken screen line was "Mais oui, mon cher" in War Babies (1932). Shirley's first on screen tap dance and song, "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage", occurred in Glad Rags to Riches (1933).

In Bright Eyes (1934) she introduced what would become her signature song "On the Good Ship Lollipop."

In 1935, she became the youngest person to receive an Academy Award when she was honored with the Juvenile Oscar. A month later, she added her foot and hand prints to the forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

At the age of 6, she was the youngest presenter at the Oscars ever. She presented the "Best Actress" award in 1935. The winner was Claudette Colbert.

By the time Shirley Temple was ten years old, she had appeared in more than fifty shorts and films including Little Miss Marker (1934), Curly Top (1935), and Captain January (1936).

As a young adult, Shirley Temple appeared in films such as The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), Fort Apache (1948), and The Story of Seabiscuit (1949).

Shirley Temple retired from the silver screen at the age of after appearing on The Red Skelton show in 1963.

Shirley Temple now turned her attention to politics. She became active in the Republican Party in California, where, in 1967, she ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives.

In 1967, Shirley Temple was appointed Representative to the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations by President Richard M. Nixon.

From 1974 to 1976, Shirley Temple served as the United States Ambassador to Ghana.

In 1976, Shirley Temple was appointed the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States and was in charge of arrangements for President Jimmy Carter's inauguration and inaugural ball.

From 1989 to 1992, she served as the United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

Shirley Temple has also served on numerous boards of directors of large enterprises and organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte, Bank of America, the Bank of California, BANCAL Tri-State, Fireman's Fund Insurance, the United States Commission for UNESCO, the United Nations Association, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Shirley Temple is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Life Achievement Award from the American Center of Films for Children, the National Board of Review Career Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. She also has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Of all of Shirley Temple's accomplishments, she is most proud of her children and grandchildren.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was born on April 5, 1900 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of John Edward Tracy and Caroline Brown.

At the age of 17, Spencer Tracy enlisted in the Navy after the American entry into World War I.

Following the war, Spencer Tracy enrolled at Ripon College. While touring with the Ripon debate team, he auditioned for and was accepted to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Spencer Tracy made his Broadway debut as a robot in Karel Čapek's R.U.R. (1922), followed by five other Broadway plays in the 1920s. In 1930, Spencer Tracy appeared in the hit Broadway play The Last Mile. Director John Ford saw Spencer Tracy's performance and signed him to appear in Up the River (1930).

During the next five years, Spencer Tracy appeared in over 25 films such as Disorderly Conduct (1932), The Painted Woman (1932), 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932), Dante's Inferno (1935), Riffraff (1936), and Fury (1936).

In 1936, Spencer Tracy was cast to play Father Mullin in San Francisco and earned his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

In 1937 and 1938, Spencer Tracy became the first person to win consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor first for Captains Courageous and second for Boys Town. (Tom Hanks is only the second actor to accomplish the same feat.)

Spencer Tracy would also receive Academy Award nominations for Father of the Bride (1950), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), The Old Man and the Sea (1958), Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), and posthumously for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). Tracy and Laurence Olivier share the record for the most nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Spencer Tracy also appeared in Libeled Lady (1937), Test Pilot (1938), Boom Town (1940), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Tortilla Flat (1941), A Guy Named Joe (1942), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), The Actress (1955), The Last Hurrah (1958), and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

In 1941, while filming Woman of the Year, Spencer Tracy met and fell in love with Katharine Hepburn. They would remain together until his death in 1967. Katharine Hepbun and Spencer Tracy made nine movies together: Woman of the Year (1941), Keeper of the Flame (1942), Without Love (1944), Sea of Grass (1944), State of the Union (1948), Adam's Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952), Desk Set (1957) and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1967.

Spencer Tracy died on June 10, 1967 at the age of 67 of a heart attack.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Joanne Woodward

Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward was born on February 27, 1930 in Thomasville, Georgia, the daughter of Elinor Trimmier and Wade Woodward, Jr..

Attending the premiere of Gone with the Wind in Atlanta, nine-year-old Joanne Woodward rushed out into the parade of stars and sat on the lap of Laurence Olivier, star Vivien Leigh's partner and future husband. She eventually worked with Olivier in 1979, in a television production of Come Back, Little Sheba. During rehearsals, she mentioned this incident to him and he told her he remembered her doing it.

As a teenager, Joanne Woodward won many beauty contests. She also appeared in theatrical productions at Greenville High and in Greenville's Little Theatre in Georgia. After high school, Joanne Woodward majored in drama at Louisiana State University.

In 1952, Joanne Woodward made her television debut on an episode of Tales of Tomorrow. She next appeared as Ann Rutledge in several episdoes of Omnibus.

During the early 1950s, Joanne Woodward devoted most of her time to television appearing in episodes of The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Ford Television Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

In 1955, Joanne Woodward made her film debut in Count Three and Pray.

Joanne Woodward's big break came when she was cast to play Eve in The Three Faces of Eve (1957). She would win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Alternating her time between Hollywood and Broadway, Joanne Woodward was an understudy in the produciton of Picnic which featured Paul Newman. In 1958, the two would appear together in the movie The Long, Hot Summer. The couple married on January 29, 1958 shortly after filming completed.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward would appear in nine more films together: Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958), From the Terrace (1960), Paris Blues (1961)
A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), The Drowning Pool (1975)
Harry & Son (1984), and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990).

Joanne Woodward would also star in five films that Paul Newman directed or produced:
Rachel, Rachel (1968), They Might Be Giants (1971) , The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Nell Potts (1972), The Shadow Box (TV, 1980) and The Glass Menagerie (1987).

Joanne Woodward was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Rachel, Rachel, (1968), Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973) and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990).

In 1960, Joanne Woodward became the first actress to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Joanne Woodward has also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress for The Three Faces of Eve (1957), Rachel, Rachel (1968) and Breathing Lessons (TV 1994).

Joanne Woodward has won three Emmy Awards for her performances in See How She Runs (1978), Do You Remember Love (1985), and American Masters: Broadway's Dreamers: The Legacy of the Group Theatre (1989).

In 1986, Joanne Woodward received the Screen Actors Guild Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.

Most recently, Joanne Woodward appeared in Empire Falls (TV 2005).

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in London, England. Her parents Francis Lenn Taylor and Sara Viola Warmbrodt were Americans originally from Arkansas, Kansas who were living in London at the time. Her father was an art dealer and her mother a former actress whose stage name was Sara Sothern.

Elizabeth Taylor is a dual citizen of the UK and the United States as she was born both a British subject and an American Citizen by being born on British soil under the principle of jus soli, and through her parents under the principle of jus sanguinis.

Shortly before the beginning of World War II, her parents decided to return to the United States to avoid hostilities. They settled in Los Angeles, California.

At the age of three, Elizabeth Taylor began taking ballet lessons with Vaccani. Elizabeth Taylor appeared in her first film at the age of nine: There's One Born Every Minute (1942).

As a child actress, Elizabeth Taylor appeared in such classics as Lassie Come Home (1943), National Velvet (1944), Courage of Lassie (1946), Life with Father (1947), Julia Misbehaves (1948) and Little Women (1949).

Unlike many child stars, Elizabeth Taylor easily made the transition into young adult roles. During her 20s, Elizabeth Taylor appeared in such classics as Father of the Bride (1950), Father's Little Dividend (1951), A Place in the Sun (1951),
Ivanhoe (1952), Giant (1956), Raintree County (1957), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959),
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and BUtterfield 8 (1960).

She would receive Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role
for her performances in Raintree County (1957), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959).

She would win the Academy Award for Best Actress for BUtterfield 8 (1960).

During the filming of Raintree County, Montgomery Clift was seriously injured in an automobile accident after leaving a party at her house. It was she who found him first, got into the wreck and removed some teeth from his throat that threatened to choke him and saved his life.

As Elizabeth Taylor entered her 30s and 40s, she turned to more mature roles in Cleopatra (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Secret Ceremony (1968), The Blue Bird (1976) and
A Little Night Music (1977).

Elizabeth Taylor would win her second Academy Award for Best Actress for Who's Afraid of Viginia Woolf (1966).

As Elizabeth Taylor approached her 50s, she turned her acting talents to one of her favorite forms of entertainment: Soap Operas. She would appear on both General Hospital and All My Children, two of her favorite shows.

During the 1980s, Elizabeth Taylor also appeared in the epic mini series North and South.

In 1981, Elizabeth Taylor made her Broadway debut as Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, for which she received a Tony Award nomination, the Drama Desk Award nomination and won the Theatre World Special Award.

During the 1990s, Elizabeth Taylor provided her voice on two episodes of The Simpsons, once as herself and once as the voice of Little Maggie Simpson.

Elizabeth Taylor also appeared in The Flintstones (1994). Her final appearance was on an episdoe of God, the Devil and Bob in 2003.

In addition to being honored with two Academy Awards, Elizabeth Taylor received the 1982 Cecil B. DeMille Award , the 1992 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the 1998 Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2002 John F. Kennedy Center Honor, and has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Elizabeth Taylor has devoted much of her time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

She also has a passion for jewlry. Elizabeth Taylor started designing jewels for the The Elizabeth Collection, creating fine jewelry with elegance and flair. The Elizabeth Taylor collection by Piranesi is sold at Christie's. She has also launched three perfumes, "Passion," "White Diamonds," and "Black Pearls."

Elizabeth Taylor has been married eight times to seven husbands and has three children and nine grandchildren. She is also the godmother to Michael Jackson's children Paris and Prince Michael.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda is a movie and television character actor who has proved himself in both gritty dramatic roles and as an actor with wonderful comedic timing.

Abraham Charles "Abe" Vigoda was born February 24, 1921 in New York City. The son of Lena Moses and Samuel Vigoda, a tailor. Abe Vigoda's brother, Bill Vigoda, was a comic-book artist who drew for the Archie comics franchise and others in the 1940s.

Abe Vigoda began his acting career at age 17 and plodded away in small theatre shows for over 20 years.

In 1949, Abe Vigoda appeared in an episode of Suspense entitled Lunch Box which marked. Roles soon followed on episdoes of Studio One and Dark Shadows.

In 1965, Abe Vigoda made his film debut as a waiter in Three Rooms in Manhattan.

In 1972, Abe Vigoda got his big break when he was cast to play Sal Tessio in The Godfather. He would reprise the role in The Godfather, Part II (1974).

In 1974, he would be cast as Detective Phil Fish in the now classic television show Barney Miller, a role which would earn him three Emmy nominations. He would reprise the character in the short lived spin off Fish.

A familiar face on television for the past forty years, Abe Vigoda has appeared in episdoes of Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Mannix, Hawaii Five-O, Wings, Law & Order, Mad About You, Kojak, The Rockford Files, Diagnosis Murder and many more television shows. Abe Vigoda also made frequent cameo appearances on The Late Show with Conan O'Brien.

Abe Vigoda also appeared in films such as Cannonball Run II (1984) Look Who's Talking (1989) Prancer (1989) Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) North (1994) and Crime Spree (2003).

On Broadway, Abe Vigoda has appeared in The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, The Man in the Glass Booth, Inquest and Arsenic and Old Lace.

Abe Vigoda was married once, to Beatrice Schy from February 25, 1968 until her death on April 30, 1992. They had one child, a daughter, Carol.

In 1982, People magazine erroneously declared him dead. Abe Vigoda took the error with good humor, posing for a photograph showing him sitting up in a coffin, holding the magazine in question.

Erroneous reports of Abe Vigoda's death as well as questions of whether he is alive or dead have become a running joke, there is a website lists Abe Vigoda's current state as dead or alive. In addition, A Late Night with David Letterman skit showed Letterman trying to summon Vigoda's ghost. Vigoda then walked in and declared, "I'm not dead, you idiot!" A November 2006 Conan O'Brien sketch showed an audience member summoning the dead. The "deceased person" turned out to be Vigoda.

Abe Vigoda's most recent appearance was in a Superbowl commercial for Snickers with Betty White.

Later this year, Abe Vigoda will appear as Mel in the movie Small Town Hero (2010).

Abe Vigoda, at the age of 89, is still very active. He currently has three film roles in pre production for upcoming movies Mobster Movie (2011), Mafioso II (2010) and The Driver (2010).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Robert Wagner

Robert John Wagner was born on February 10, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan.

One of Robert Wagner's first jobs before being discovered in 1950 was as Clark Gable's caddy.

One evening when Robert Wagner was dining with his parents at a restaurant in Beverly Hils, he was "discovered" by a talent scout. He was soon cast to play Adams, Cleaves Catcher in The Happy Years (1950).

During the 1950s and 1960s, Robert Wagner appeared in movies such as Stars and Stripes Forever (1952), Titanic (1953), Prince Valiant (1954), A Kiss Before Dying (1956), The Longest Day (1962), The War Lover (1962), and The Pink Panther (1963).

From 1968 to 1970, Robert Wagner starred as playboy-thief-turned-secret agent Alexander Mundy in the television series It Takes a Thief. He would receive an Emmy nomination for his performance.

During the 1970s Robert Wagner appeared in The Towering Inferno (1974) and Midway (1976). He also made several television movies such as The Affair (1973), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976), and The Critical List (1978).

From 1975 to 1978, he played Detective Pete Ryan in the television drama Switch.

But it was in 1979, Robert Wagner was cast in the role he is most famous for: Jonathan Hart in Hart to Hart (1979-1984).

The 1990s brought Robert Wagner roles in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993), Wild Things (1998), and Something to Believe In (1998).

Robert Wagner's career made a comeback from his Hart to Hart days when he was cast as Number Two in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002).

Robert Wagner has been married four times. From December 28, 1957 to April 26, 1962, he was married to Natalie Wood.

After their divorce, he married Marion Marshall (July 22, 1963 to April 26, 1971, divorced). Marion and Robert have one daughter, actress Katie Wagner. Marion Marshall and Robert Wagner had worked together in Halls of Montezuma (1950) and appeared together in an episode of It Takes A Thief after their marriage.

On July 16, 1972, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood married a second time. Natalie and Robert had a daughter, Courtney Wagner who is also an actress. Robert Wagner also adopted Natalie's daughter, Natasha. Natalie Wood was died during a boating accident on November 29, 1981. Almost thirty years later, there is still much speculation about her death.

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood worked together in All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960), The Affair (1973) (TV) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976) (TV).

On May 26, 1990, Robert Wagner married actress Jill St. John, they will be celebrating their 20th anniversary this May.

Jill St. John and Robert Wagner played husband and wife in a classic episode of Seinfeld entitled The Yada Yada.

Most recently, Robert Wagner played Anthony DiNozzo Sr. on an episode of NCIS entitled Flesh and Blood. (Michael Weatherly who plays Anthony DiNozzo Jr. on NCIS had previously portrayed Robert Wagner in The Mystery of Natalie Wood).

Monday, February 8, 2010

John Williams

John Williams is one of the most successful and talented composers of all time. He has composed musical scores for movies, television and the Olympics.

John Williams has five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, 21 Grammy Awards, and 2 Emmy Awards.

With 45 Oscar nominations, Williams currently holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person and is tied with late film composer Alfred Newman for the most nominations in the history of the Academy Awards.

John Williams was born on February 8, 1932, in Flushing, Queens, New York, the son of Esther and John Williams, Sr. His father was a jazz drummer who played with the Raymond Scott Quintet.

John Williams attended the University of California where he studied privately with composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

In 1952, Williams was drafted into the United States Air Force, where he conducted and arranged music for the Air Force Band as part of his duties.

After his service ended in 1955, John Williams moved to New York City and entered Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Rosina Lhévinne. During this time he worked as a jazz pianist at New York's many studios and clubs.

He also played for composer Henry Mancini and recorded with Mancini on the film soundtracks of Peter Gunn (1959), Charade (1963), and Days of Wine and Roses (1962).

After his studies at Juilliard, John Williams returned to Los Angeles and began working as an orchestrator in film studios.

John Williams began to compose music scores for television series programs in the late 1950s, eventually leading to the pilot episode theme for Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space, and The Time Tunnel.

Williams's first major film composition was for the B movie Daddy-O in 1958, and his first screen credit came two years later in Because They're Young.

John Williams received his first Academy Award nomination for his score to the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls.

John Williams won his first Academy Award for his adapted score to the 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof.

John Williams Academy Award nominated scores include The Sugarland Express (1974), The Reivers (1969), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), The Towering Inferno (1974), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Superman (1978), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Home Alone (1990), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and so many more.

John Williams also won Academy Awards for the scores to Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Schindler's List (1993).

John Williams has also composed the scores for Gidget Goes to Rome (1963), The Killers (1964), A Guide for the Married Man (1967), The Paper Chase (1973) , and
Family Plot (1976).

Williams has composed music for four Olympic Games: "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" – 1984 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles; "The Olympic Spirit" – 1988 Summer Olympics, Seoul; "Summon the Heroes" – 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, Georgia; and "Call of the Champions" – 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City, Utah.

John Williams has received two Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition - For a Special Program for: Jane Eyre (1970) and Outstanding Achievement in Musical Composition for: Heidi (1968).

John Williams has won 21 Grammy awards for classics like Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978) Superman (1979), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Schindler's List (1993) and many other classics. He has been nominated for a total of 59 Grammy Awards.

John Williams won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Score for Jaws (1975),
Star Wars (1977), E.T. (1982), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). He has 21 nominations for a Golden Globe.

John Williams is also the composer behind the theme music for NBC News, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, Meet the Press and Sunday Night Football.

In addition to his work in film and television, John Williams was the Conductor of the Boston Pops for 12 years.