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"In the Spotlight"

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In the Spotlight: Esther Howard.

 

Esther Howard born April 4, 1892, Helena, Montana, she died March 8, 1965, in Hollywood, California. She was a film character actress who specialized in playing a wide range of roles, and was an expert at portraying blowsy old crones, man-hungry spinsters and oversexed dowagers.

 

The stage actor switched to films in 1931 and appeared in many movies including "Murder My Sweet" as Mrs. Florian, Laurel and Hardy's "The Big Noise" (1944) as genteelly homicidal Aunt Sophie, and the determined Mrs. Kraft out to solve a murder in the film noir "Born to Kill" (1947) in which she was a hoot. She played Kirk Douglas? mother in the multi-Oscar nominated "Champion".

Also in "Merrily We Go to Hell" (1932) love that title, "Klondike Annie" (1936) with Mae West, "Detour" (1945), "Hellfire" w/Marie Windsor (1949), etc.

 

She was a regular participant in the films of writer/director Preston Sturges, playing everything from an addled farm woman in "Sullivan's Travels" (1942) to the bejeweled wife of 'The Wienie King' in "The Palm Beach Story" (1942), and in Sturges' "The Great Moment" (1940), "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944), "Hail the Conquering Hero" (1944), and "The Great Moment" (1944).

She was also a fixture of Columbia's short-subject unit, usually cast as the wife or sweetheart of comedian Andy Clyde.

 

From 1931 to 1952, Esther Howard utilized her wide, expressive eyes and versatile voice for both broad comedy and tense drama in films. She started out acting on stage in the 1920s.

 

The grand Miss Howard passed away of a heart attack in 1965 at the age of 72. What a character!

 

Message was edited by: mongo

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A bright "spotlight" on one of my favorite leading men, Mongo, thanks.

 

I want to mention that he was also excellent playing not-so good guys: in FALLEN ANGEL (directed by Preminger), he is basically a grifter, in THE FORBIDDEN STREET (aka Brittania Mews) he can be downright creepy, and best of all as a very complex good/bad cop in WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (again w/Preminger). He managed to show the human struggle in these flawed characters, giving us an opportunity to feel sympathy for them.

 

Miss G

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In the Spotlight: Jeff Chandler

 

Jeff Chandler (December 15, 1918 - June 17, 1961) was a popular film actor in the 1950s.

 

Born Ira Grossel to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, Chandler attended Erasmus Hall High School, the nucleus of many stage and film personalities. Later, he took a drama course and spent two years in stock companies before serving in World War II.

 

After being discharged from the military, he was a busy radio actor both in drama (such as episodes of "Escape") and comedy (playing bashful biology teacher Phillip Boynton on "Our Miss Brooks"). His first film appearance was in "Johnny O'Clock" (1947).

 

In the 1950s, Chandler became a star in western and action movies. His first important role was in "Sword In The Desert" (1948), as an Israeli freedom fighter.

 

He would be nominated for an Academy Award best support for his role as Cochise in "Broken Arrow" (1950), the first of three screen appearances as the legendary Apache chief, followed by "The Battle Of Apache Pass" (1952) and "Taza, Son Of Cochise" (1954).

 

During the latter part of the decade, Chandler turned into a top leading man. His sex appeal, curiously heightened by his prematurely gray hair and tanned features, would put him into drama and costume movies. Some of his pictures in this period include "Away All Boats", "Toy Tiger", "Drango", "The Tattered Dress", "Man In The Shadow", "Foxfire", "A Stranger In My Arms", and "Thunder In The Sun", etc.

 

His leading ladies would include June Allyson, Joan Crawford, Rhonda Fleming, Susan Hayward (a friend from Brooklyn), Maureen O'Hara, Jane Russell, Evelyn Keyes, Loretta Young, Kim Novak and Esther Williams (who kept company with Chandler and would assert in her autobiography (1999) that he he was a cross-dresser, which many felt wasn't necessary to reveal).

 

Shortly after completing his role in "Merrill's Marauders" (1962), Chandler entered a Culver City hospital and had surgery for a spinal disc herniation on May 13, 1961. There were severe complications, an artery was damaged and Chandler hemorrhaged. In a seven and a half hour emergency operation over and above the original surgery, he was given an enormous amount of blood, 55 pints. Another operation followed, date unknown, where he received an additional 20 pints of blood.

An average adult has about 14 to 18 pints of blood, so his entire blood volume was replaced 4 to 5 times! Chandler fought hard to live, but expired June 17, 1961 at age 42. His death was deemed malpractice and resulted in a large lawsuit and settlement for his children (2 daughters Jamie and Dana, now both deceased). Tony Curtis was a pallbearer at Chandler's funeral.

 

He was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

 

Jeff Chandler is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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He was gorgeous. Thanks for the spotlight on a unique leading man we lost far too soon. I want to mention a not-great but in my opinion, highly entertaining FOXFIRE. I remember liking it (it hasn't shown up anywhere to my knowledge since the old AMC days) because he and Jane Russell had great chemistry. I wish Turner could air it. Also, it was interesting in that Chandler plays a man who is part Native American and it shows the prejudices he had to face in his life.

 

Miss G

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Mongo;

 

Pretty sure Jack meant to reference "Curse of the Demon" as being the Tourneur film featuring Dana Andrew (original Brit title: Night of the Demon).

And if perhaps you still haven't caught it, you definitely have a treat in store; only other place I've had my intellectual goose-flesh tickled that deliciously was the anthology film "Dead of Night".

And to this day, I still swear that: Pilgim Farm Exists!

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Thanks for spotlighting one of my very favorites, mongo. I'd like to point out that early in his career, Chandler was given the pepper and salt hair so that he'd look more appropriate with his co-stars, who tended to be the more "mature" actresses on the lot. After a time, the hair effect could be achieved naturally. Here he is goofin' around with Sammy Davis.

 

176178~Sammy-Davis-Jr-Jeff-Chandler-Posters.jpg

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Iwant to ThankYou for another great spotlight. Mr.Chandler was a fine actor and like his looks Was he in the Movie Return To Peyton Place?I say ashame on Ms. Williams for mentioning that he was a cross dresser in her book I guess anything for a buck. I still think he was fine actor and a sad way to pass away.

Christine

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Christine, Chandler did co-star in "Return to Peyton Place". And a few guilty pleasures of mine in which he appeared are "Bird of Paradise", and "Jeanne Eagels" with Kim Novak.

 

I'm glad that you guys enjoyed 'In the Spotlight' today.

And jdb1, the picture is comical.

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Oh, please stop it, you're killing me! If anyone posts a photo of Chandler with his shirt off, I won't be held responsible!! I'm much too old to be exposed to such things any more.

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Way to send an old woman to the Emergency Room, mongojoe.

 

Now, what was that school of thought in the old days about nice Jewish boys not going in for athletics?

 

Ira rules!!!

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Old enough to have seen Jeff Chandler movies at first run in theaters (children's ticket: 35 cents), but not yet old enough to be immune to his charms.

I hope that day never comes.

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In the Spotlight: Marie Windsor

 

Statuesque Marie Windsor was born Emily Marie Bertelsen in Utah on December 11, 1919. Early on she harbored an interest in acting, taking lessons while still a youth. She went to college to study drama but left Brigham Young University in 1939 for California, to study with famed Russian actress and drama coach Maria Ouspenskaya.

 

Windsor, at 5'9", was also a Varga model. She nailed a contract with MGM in the early 1940s, but the studio never gave her the build-up she deserved, for years casting her in small, sometimes uncredited, roles. She used her time to do considerable radio and stage work; in addition, she married bandleader Ted Steele but the marriage quickly dissolved. After a three-year hiatus, she went back into films in 1947.

Her first important role came in the 1948 film noir thriller "Force of Evil" with John Garfield; Windsor's tough on-screen persona, and those eyes... pale blue, in vivid contrast to her dark hair, hooded, lazy, smoldering sexuality mixed with pure danger, the kind of eyes that could gaze lovingly or cut you in half. The voice... world-weary and cynical, but soft and sensual at the same time, naturally lent itself to certain film genres, most notably film noir and westerns.

 

From the late 1940s through the late 1950s, she starred in a succession of films, mostly film noir, westerns, and some sci-fi/horror, sometimes making as many as eight films a year for a variety of studios.

Some of her best-known films were film noir movies including "The Sniper" coming to TCM, "The Narrow Margin" which took place on a train, "City That Never Sleeps" and Stanley Kubrick's heist movie "The Killing" playing Elisha Cook Jr.'s scheming wife.

Also appeared in such films as "Hellfire" (1949) unusual wesern and one of her favorites, "Dakota Lil" lead role,"Cat-Women of the Moon" (1953; with Sonny Tufts and Victor Jory), "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" (1955); , "Swamp Women" (1955; with Beverly Garland and Mike Connors), "Cahill U.S. Marshall" with John Wayne, etc.

 

She remarried in 1954, this time to businessman Jack Hupp; the couple welcomed a son in early 1963. In the late 1950s, Windsor slowed her career and concentrated instead on family life, limiting her acting mostly to numerous TV guest appearances and the occasional film.

Although she made fewer films in the 1960s and 1970s, Windsor was active in Hollywood as a member of the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild.

Later in life, her interest in art led her to begin painting, for which she had considerable talent. She continued to work throughout the 1980s but, afflicted with arthritis, she retired in the early 1990s.

Sadly, Marie Windsor passed away on December 10, 2000, just one day shy of her 81st birthday.

 

She was one of the 500 stars nominated to become one of the 50 greatest American screen legends as part of the American Film Institute's 100 years.

 

I received an autographed photo from this lady just months before she died. And it was at no chage.

 

Marie Windsor has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Lovely picture choice for Miss Windsor. Correct me if I'm wrong Mongo, but several summers ago did Marie Windsor, along with Audrey Totter and a couple of other film noir ladies have a spot discussing their roles in that genre on TCM? It seemed to be part of a longer interview--which, I hope is in the TCM vault, and will be played again someday. I'm not surprised to hear of her small generosity to you just prior to her death. She gave the impression of being mildly amused and pleasantly surprised to be remembered during the interview spot that I mentioned. Thanks.

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Hi Joe (Mongo),

 

Thanks for doing Marie Windsor.

She is one of the few people whose movies I watch, even if they're not that good, just because she's in it.

Jean Willes, Audrey Totter and Barbara Nichols are others.

 

Marie was always a star to me and certainly had a "presence" on screen.

Even in "The Three Muskateers" and having no lines, you knew she was up to no-good!!

 

I'm glad you got a memento of her and have a special bond with her. You couldn't do better.

 

Larry

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Moira, during the summer of 1999 Turner Classic Movies aired an interview with four of the great ladies of film noir: Audrey Totter, Jane Greer, Marie Windsor, and Coleen Gray.

For that interview, visit this site: http://www.geocities.com/audrey_64063/LADIESOFFILMNOIRINTERVIEW.html

 

And Larry, I know that I'm fortunate to have that photo of Miss Windsor. She was a doll.

By the way, a profile of Barbara Nichols is planned for 'In the Spotlight'.

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Loved her in The Narrow Margin ( One Tough Cookie) I read she studied for the stage under Maria Ouspenskaya. Also remember her in an episode in Barnaby Jones.

Another Great "In the Spotlight"

 

 

vallo

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[nobr]Thanks Joe/Mongo!! I'll check it out that interview. I just knew that you'd know about it.

 

Hmmm, somehow, I have a very amusing mental image of tiny "terror" Maria Ouspenskaya trying to teach 5' 9" Marie Windsor about the finer points of Stanislavski's approach to acting. Maybe this is the withering look Madame Ouspenskaya adopted when Marie or any of her distinguished students showed up late for a tutorial*lol*:[/nobr]

 

 

mariao2.jpg

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