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"In the Spotlight"

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Miss G, Virginia Grey did indeed appear with Sandra Dee in "Tammy Tell Me True" (1961), as well as in "The Restless Years" (1958), "Rosie" (1967 with Rosalind Russell, and of course "Portrait in Black".

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As Louis B. Mayer once said to Ms. Grey: "Virginia, you've got everything but luck."


Virginia Grey blended a fine-boned beauty with an intelligence and humor that always shone through---no matter how minor the role. I particularly enjoyed her presence in Idiot's Delight (1939) and All That Heaven Allows (1955).

Thanks for the great bio and pic, Mongo.


And Mr. Gable, you were a fool that time!

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I loved the Movie All That Heaven Allows.

what a great picture of in her twilight years she looks even better.

I have one silly request What about a profile about you!I know it sounds silly but it would be nice considering what a great spotlight you have always done such great threads answered peoples questions and always so informative and the research you put into it your spotlights birthday and ask Mongol! Plus You brighten up the boards with your threads.

Bless You Mongol!


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Christine, that's very nice of you, and perhaps I'll consider to do that one day. Most likely toward the end of my time on the boards, and I'll have to make sure I find a decent photo.

Thanks for the suggestion.

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In the Spotlight: Mantan Moreland


Mantan Moreland born in Monroe, Louisiana September 3rd 1902 was a comic and actor most popular in the 1930s and 1940s.


Some of his roles were considered to be controversial, as he often played a superstitious, easily frightened manservant, ready to flee at the first sign of danger, much like the roles played by Stepin Fetchit. However, many consider these roles to be just a minor part of Moreland's prolific career, which included many early all-black films as well as dozens of mainstream comedies, mysteries and horror movies.


Moreland began acting by the time he was an adolescent, reportedly running away to join the circus. By the late 1920s, he had made his way through vaudeville, working with various shows and revues, performing on Broadway and touring Europe. Initially, Moreland appeared in low-budget "race movies" aimed at African-American audiences, but as his comedic talents came to be recognized, he took on roles in much larger productions. Bit roles in "The Green Pastures" and the Astaire/Rogers vehicle "Shall We Dance" (both 1936) were followed by Moreland?s casting in "Harlem On The Prairie", a 1937 all black western, and "Spirit Of Youth" (1938), also with an all-black cast.

In King Of The Zombies (Monogram, 1941) Moreland played Jefferson Jackson, the frightened attendant to a pair of pilots (Dick Purcell and John Archer) whose plane goes down on an uncharted island. Waking up next to a tombstone and the words "rest in peace," Jeff quickly observes, "They sure don?t waste no time around here!" Relieved to be alive he remarks, "I thought I was a little off-color to be a ghost."


Moreland continued to play mostly minor parts at various studios in mostly mystery fare: "Mexican Spitfire" Sees A Ghost, "Tarzan?s New York Adventure", "A-Haunting We Will Go" (with Laurel and Hardy), "Eyes In The Night" (with Edward Arnold), "Ellery Queen?s Penthouse Mystery" (with Ralph Bellamy) and with a young Eddie Albert in the boxing murder mystery "Treat ?Em Rough".


He is perhaps best known for his role as chauffeur Birmingham Brown in the Charlie Chan movie series. In 1944, Moreland appeared in the first of fifteen Charlie Chan films for Monogram, which had picked up the option on the films through Chan star Sidney Toler when Twentieth Century Fox dropped the series after 1942. Starting with "Charlie Chan In The Secret Service", Moreland played cab driver Birmingham Brown, who later became Chan?s personal chauffeur. Treated like a member of the Chan family, Birmingham was indeed a welcome addition to a run of movies plagued by weaker scripts, Toler?s declining health and eventual death, and what some consider the miscasting of actor Roland Winters in the final six Chan films, ending with 1949?s "Sky Dragon".

At the height of his career, Moreland received steady work from major film studios, as well as two 1946 "race movies" which featured his own name in the title.


Moreland was offered fewer roles in the 1950s, when filmmakers began to reassess roles given to black actors.

He was briefly considered as a possible addition to the 'Three Stooges' when Shemp Howard died in 1955. He returned to the stage and appeared in a handful of all-black variety films in the 1950s.

After suffering a stroke in the early 1960s, Moreland took on a few minor comedic roles, working with the likes of Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley and Carl Reiner.

He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 28th 1973 in Hollywood, California at age 71.


Mantan Moreland was an American original whose work in film was usually better than the films themselves. With all the comic style, timing and physical presence at his command, he helped see us through a deluge of danger, of madmen, zombies and murderers. With a consummate skill that made it appear easy, Mantan Moreland could quite simply make us all laugh.


Of course, he does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Thanks mongo for the info on Mr. Moreland.


His riff with the man behind bars in one of the Charlie Chan movies was nothing short of brilliant.


How unbelievable and at the same time how typical that he doesn't have a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.


And the brains in Hollyweird don't change the rule about not giving a star to a posthumous actor why?

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Here's a bit of the riff, I couldn't find more:


Moreland: "Why if it ain?t?uhhh?."

Carter: "Ben Carter?s the name."

Moreland: "Benjamin Carter, I haven?t seen you since?"

Carter: "Longer than that!"

Moreland: "Last time I saw you, you lived over?"

Carter: "Oh I moved from there."

Moreland: "Yeah?"

Carter: "Sure, I moved over to?"

Moreland: "How can you live in that neighborhood?"



Mr. Moreland was yet another of the excellent underrated character actors who helped carry so many Hollywood pictures.

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In the Spotlight: Ella Raines


The lovely, cool, calm and collected actress, was Born Ella Wallace Raines August 6, 1920 in Snoqualmie Falls, Washington. Raines studied drama at the University of Washington and was appearing in a play there when she was seen by Howard Hawkes.

She became the first actor signed to the new production company he had formed with the actor Charles Boyer, "B-H Productions", and made her film debut in "Corvette K-225" in 1943, followed by "Cry Havoc".


Some of her other 20 plus films include "Phantom Lady" a good noir on TCM, "Hail the Conquering Hero", "Tall in the Saddle" with John Wayne, "Enter Arsene Lupin" and "The Suspect" with Charles Laughton (all 1944), "The Senator Was Indiscreet" (1947), "The Walking Hills", "Impact" underrated noir, and "A Dangerous Profession" (all 1949) and her final film "The Man in the Road" (1957).

Also in "The Strange Case of Uncle Harry" with George Sanders, "White Tie and Tails" with Dan Duryea, "The Web" and "Brute Force" both good noirs.


During 1954 she starred in her own television series "Janet Dean, Registered Nurse". She also appeared in such television series as "Robert Montgomery Presents", "Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Presents", "Lights Out", "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse" and "The Christophers".


She retired in 1957 and for the rest of her life worked as an acting teacher. Her only appearance in front of the cameras after her retirement was a guest role in the series "Matt Houston" in 1984.


Ella Raines was married in 1947 to the famous American fighter pilot Robin Olds and they had 2 children. She was divorced.

Sadly, she died from throat cancer in Sherman Oaks, California on May 30, 1988 at the age of 68.


Ella Raines has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard, and for television at 6600 Hollywood Boulevard.

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Thanks for spotlighting the striking looking actress and clearing up something that has always struck me about her: I never saw her in a Howard Hawks movie (that I know of) but the first thought I had upon seeing her was, "Gee, she looks just like a H.H. heroine...." And now I learn he discovered her, so no wonder!


I have seen only one of her movies: TALL IN THE SADDLE, and it remains one of my favorites of John Wayne's westerns. I don't have any recollection of her in HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO, so I can't comment on it. But I've long wanted to see PHANTOM LADY.


Miss G

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Mongo, Score again!

I'm so glad with this thread. I'm so glad you bring forgotten faces back into the spotlight.

Loved her as Cora Lister in 1947's " Brute Force" and 1949's "Impact" with Brian Donlevy.

Keep'em coming.....



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Ella Raines was on the tv show Matt Houston?? Jeez, that's what I get for being busy, livin' large back in the mad, bad, roarin' '80s. I never knew! Well, I guess I've got to find some video of that piece of tv detritus, if only to see the elegant Ella again.


Btw, I'd jump at the chance to see The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry(1945) with Ms. Raines, George Sanders, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Moyna MacGill again. It has one of my favorite Sanders performances, though of course, one must ignore the fingerprints left by the leaden hand of the production code boys on this film. Mongo, any idea what director Robert Siodmak saw in Raines that prompted him to use her in so many films? Great picture and profile, btw, as usual--thanks!

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