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bansi4

Gone Without Fanfare

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Thanks so much for the update, Mongo. I'm glad to hear that *Madeleine LeBeau* is still with us. Her small but sultry role as the emotional young woman who dallies with an indifferent Rick and later sings La Marseillaise with such heartfelt passion was one of the gems of that film.

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*Kay Linaker*, who was an actress in the '30s and '40s, became one of the screenwriters on the *The Blob*, and later taught screenwriting, has died at 94.

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Appearing in *Drums Along the Mohawk*, *Kitty Foyle* (as Dennis Morgan's patrician wife), *Blood and Sand*, and numerous *Charlie Chan* flicks, her elegant good looks, (and ability to scream effectively in a ladylike fashion), earned her a kind of immortality. See here for a page devoted to Ms. Linaker's entertainingly checkered career.

 

The lady wrote under her real name of *Kate Phillips*, and when assisting with the dubious creation of a screenplay called "The Molten Meteor" in 1956, the producers heard her calling the "monster" in the film, "the blob"--movie history was made. For the record, Ms. *Phillips* said that she received the same as *Steve McQueen* for her efforts: $150 & 10% of the gross, (though neither she nor McQueen ever saw that percentage, thanks to the usual creative accounting of the movie production company). At least McQueen got a crack at stardom in part because of the movie's success.

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Not that I want to be an official crepe hanger or anything, but a few more links in the chain of movie history have been broken in the last week...

 

Patricia Ziegfeld Stephenson, the daughter of impresario Flo Ziegfeld & Billie Burke has died at 91 at her home in LA. Predeceased by 6 months by her husband of 67 years, architect William Stephenson, the couple had three daughters, Cecilia Duncan, Florenz Crossley and Susan Plemons; a son, W. Robert Stephenson Jr.; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

 

Despite growing up on a plush, (if under-financed) estate in Westchester with a baby elephant for a pet, the Ziegfelds' only child seems to have been a grounded girl, with few impulses to step into the spotlight. In 1963, Mrs. Stephenson wrote a delightful memoir, "The Ziegfelds' Girl: Confessions of an Abnormally Happy Childhood" and contributed to what may be the best book on her father's world, "The Ziegfeld Touch: The Life and Times of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.," written by distant cousins Richard and Paulette Ziegfeld. (If you want some great reads on theater & movie history, both these books are fun and informative, as is Billie Burke's gently honest memoir, "With a Feather on My Nose".)

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The family together in the '30s: Flo Ziegfeld, Billie Burke and Patricia.

 

Once, when asked to comment on her parents' glamorously chronicled lives, Mrs. Stephenson said,

"I was not quite sixteen when Daddy died ? virtually bankrupt. To make ends meet, Mother went back to acting more frequently, this time as a character actress rather than a leading lady. The years that followed were not easy ones. Even in the most difficult days, though, she spoke of Daddy with pride and affection. Towards the end of her life, she often remarked that she missed my father more in her later years than she did right after his death. Florenz Ziegfeld was envied, praised, censured, even hated, but he was also very much loved"

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Moira, can you imagine one of today's seventeen or nineteen year old actresses playing either of those two roles in "Casablanca"?? I shudder at the thought.

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Moira, thanks for the update regarding the stunning Kay Linaker. I recall her in a few films especially "Kitty Foyle" in a brief part that suited her well. Also enjoyed the link that you provided, loaded with some great images.

 

If was refreshing to learn about the love that Billie Burke had for her husband the Great Ziegfeld.

 

My condolences to the families of both ladies who beat the odds and lived into their 90s.

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"Moira, can you imagine one of today's seventeen or nineteen year old actresses playing either of those two roles in "Casablanca"?? I shudder at the thought." ~ Cinemaven

 

T'ain't likely, CineMaven.

Only a very few would have the poise required, and of course, they wouldn't have *Humphrey Bogart* at the height of his powers to play against, *Arthur Edeson* to photograph them so beautifully, the prodigious *Epstein* brothers & *Howard Koch* to give them a casual yet pointed eloquence, nor would they have *Michael Curtiz* to steer them. All of which is one more reminder that the benefit of the studio system, (for all its many faults), was to produce periodic "happy accidents" as well as profitable ones.

 

Mongo,

I'm glad you got a kick out of that *Kay Linaker* site. She seems to have gotten alot out of life--even after the career faded away. The notice of Patricia Ziegfeld Stephenson's death reminded me that I'm fond of the Ziegfelds, who seem to have been, despite all the star spangled glitter of their lives, a real and warm family.

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Moira,

 

Thanks to you for mentioning those books! I heard from my library today that they were able to get them thru an interlibrary source. Can't wait to read them. Always a big fan of Billie's. Wasn't she a distinctive presence and a scene stealer par none (I doubt she did it intentionally)?

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Farrah Fawcett, who skyrocketed to fame as one of a trio of impossibly glamorous private eyes on TV's Charlie's Angels, has died after a long battle with cancer. She was 62.

 

Fawcett died at 9:28 a.m. PST at St. John?s Heath Center in Santa Monica, Calif. She had recently returned to St. John's for treatment of complications from **** cancer, first diagnosed three years ago. Her longtime partner Ryan O'Neal was at her side throughout her final days.

 

Like so much about Fawcett's life ? including her bumpy relationship with O'Neal ? her heroic struggle to beat the disease was closely followed by her legion of fans.

 

"I've watched her this past year fight with such courage and so valiantly, but with such humor," Fawcett's Charlie's Angels costar Kate Jackson told PEOPLE in November 2007.

 

O'Neal, in particular, remained a steadfast supporter of Fawcett, who, despite her frailty, spent the last months of her life filming a TV documentary chronicling her illness, including several trips to Germany to undergo experimental treatment. Fawcett is survived by her son with O'Neal, Redmond, 24, who is currently serving a prison term in California after repeated drug offenses.

 

Texas Charmer

Blonde, blue-eyed and petite ? and with a trademark mane as flowing and famous as the M.G.M. lion's ? the Corpus Christi, Texas, native was born Feb. 2, 1947, the younger daughter of an oil-field contractor and his homemaker wife.

 

A magnet for male students at the University of Texas at Austin, Fawcett eventually set off for Hollywood. Quickly noticed by casting agents, she began landing small parts in forgettable movies, such as 1970's Myra Breckinridge, based on a gender-bending novel by Gore Vidal. Her role: an ingenuous blonde.

 

In 1973, Fawcett married actor Lee Majors, forever known as Col. Steve Austin on TV's The Six Million Dollar Man. Three years later, she appeared in the cult sci-fi film Logan's Run and began her stint with costars Jackson and Jaclyn Smith on Charlie's Angels. Well-coiffed and scantily-clad, the threesome created an instant sensation, with a weekly following of 23 million fans.

Fawcett moved on after just one season. By then, she was already a phenomenon, having donned a one-piece red bathing suit and a perfect smile for her legendary pin-up poster, which sold a still-record 12 million copies.

 

"I became famous almost before I had a craft," Fawcett told The New York Times in 1986, four years after her divorce from Majors. (By then, she was already involved with Ryan O'Neal.) "I didn't study drama at school. I was an art major. Suddenly, when I was doing Charlie's Angels, I was getting all this fan mail, and I didn't really know why. I don't think anybody else did, either."

 

Bumpy Film Career

Though she left TV for what was assumed to be greener pastures ? feature films ? Fawcett's initial three big-screen vehicles all crash-landed. Her first, 1978's Somebody Killed Her Husband, was lampooned in MAD magazine under the title, Somebody Killed Her Career.

 

It took some serious dramatic TV roles, including that of a battered wife in 1984's The Burning Bed (which earned her an Emmy nomination), as well as starring in small-screen biopics about pioneering photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White and ill-fated Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, for Fawcett to bounce back.

 

"What would you do if someone said to you, 'You're so popular right now that you can be on the cover of every magazine, but if you do that, you might get overexposed and a backlash will develop'?" Fawcett told The Times after she had emerged from one of the valleys of her career.

 

Still, she said of fighting for survival in Hollywood, "That's life. Everything has positive and negative consequences."

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Mollie Sugden, star of the wonderful British TV series *Are You Being Served?* has died at age 86.

 

Sugden found early TV success with comedy series Hugh and I in 1962 and in Coronation Street as the gossiping Nellie Harvey. But it was The Liver Birds in the late 1960s and early 1970s that enabled her to make her first real impact, as Nerys Hughes' snobbish mother Mrs Hutchinson. And then in 1972 came Are You Being Served? and the role she became best known for - the blue-rinsed Betty Slocombe, with her affectation of middle-class gentility and her outrageous use of the double-entendre. Sugden went on to have her own slot on consumer programme That's Life and even found new fame in the US where re-runs of Are You Being Served? transformed both Sugden and co-star John Inman into cult figures in the early 1990s.

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