the great Lucille Ball

Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American actress , comedienne, model, film -studio executive, and producer. She was best known as the star of the self-produced sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy.

Ball’s career began in 1929 when she landed work as a model. Shortly thereafter, she began her performing career on Broadway using the stage names Diane Belmont and Dianne Belmont. She later appeared in several minor film roles in the 1930s and 1940s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures, being cast as a chorus girl or in similar roles. During this time, she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, and the two eloped in November 1940. In the 1950s, Ball ventured into television. In 1951, she and Arnaz created the sitcom I Love Lucy, a series that became one of the most beloved programs in television history. The same year, Ball gave birth to their first child, Lucie Arnaz, followed by Desi Arnaz, Jr. in 1953. Ball and Arnaz divorced in May 1960, and she married comedian Gary Morton in 1961.

In 1962, Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which produced many popular television series, including Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. Ball did not back away from acting completely, appearing in film and television roles for the rest of her career until her death in April 1989 from an abdominal aortic dissection at the age of 77.

Ball was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning four times. In 1977, Ball was among the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Award. She was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1984, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989.

On April 18, 1989, Ball was at her home in Beverly Hills when she complained of chest pains. An ambulance was called and she was rushed to the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was diagnosed with dissecting aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours, including the transplant of a new aorta. The surgery appeared to have been successful, and Ball began recovering very quickly, even walking around her room with little assistance. She received a flurry of get-well wishes from Hollywood , and across the street from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Hard Rock Café erected a sign reading “Hard Rock Loves Lucy”. However, shortly after dawn on April 26, Ball awoke with severe back pains and soon lost consciousness.

Attempts to revive her proved unsuccessful and she died at 5:47 a.m. PDT. Doctors determined that Ball, who was 77 years old, had succumbed to a second aortic rupture, this time in the abdominal area, and that it was not directly related to her surgery the previous week. Her body was cremated and the ashes were originally interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. However, in 2002, her children moved her remains to the Hunt family plot at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York, where her parents, Henry and Desirée (Hunt) Ball, his sister, Lucille Ball, and her grandparents are buried.

Finding Lucy | Lucille Ball Documentary (PBS)

From her struggling early days to her successful heyday, you’ll see the Lucy you love and meet the Lucy you never knew — the incredible woman behind the …

Read More…

gary cooper

Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine (born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland; October 22, 1917 – December 15, 2013) was a British-American actress best known for her starring roles in Hollywood film s. Fontaine appeared in more than 45 feature film s in a career that spanned five decades. She was the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland.

Born in Tokyo to British parents, Fontaine moved to California with her mother, Lillian Fontaine, and sister, the actress Olivia de Havilland, following her parents’ divorce. She was anaemic as a child, and her childhood was consequently marred by poor health, but she had improved by her teen years. After living in Japan and attending school there for a short while, she began her stage career in 1935, signing a film contract with RKO Pictures. Fontaine received her first major role in The Man Who Found Himself (1937); however, she failed to make a significant impression and her contract was not renewed.

Her career prospects improved greatly after her starring role in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed Rebecca (1940), for which she received the first of what would be three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress ; the following year, she won for her role in Suspicion (1941). A third Oscar nomination came with the film The Constant Nymph. She appeared mostly in drama film s through the 1940s —including Letter from an Unknown Woman, which is now considered a classic . In the next decade, her career began to decline and she moved into stage and television roles. She appeared in fewer film s into the 1960s, her final feature film being The Witches (1966).

Married four times, she had one child by birth and one child by adoption, from whom she was later estranged. Her relationship with her sister was long known to be acrimonious, and included long periods of estrangement, especially in later life.

Fontaine and her sister, Olivia de Havilland, are the only set of siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards. Olivia was the first to become an actress ; when Fontaine tried to follow her lead, their mother, who allegedly favored Olivia, refused to let Joan use the family name. Subsequently, Fontaine had to invent a name, taking first Joan Burfield, and later Joan Fontaine. Biographer Charles Higham records that the sisters had an uneasy relationship from early childhood, when Olivia would rip up the clothes Joan had to wear as hand-me-downs, forcing Joan to sew them back together. A large part of the friction between the sisters allegedly stemmed from Fontaine’s belief that Olivia was their mother’s favorite child.

On December 15, 2013, Fontaine died in her sleep of natural causes at the age of 96 in her Carmel Highlands home. Her longtime friend Noel Beutel said, “She had been fading in recent days and died peacefully.” Her Academy Award for Best Actress in Suspicion was initially going to be sold at an animal rights auction; however, the Academy threatened to sue since it was not offered back to them for $1. After Fontaine’s death , de Havilland released a statement saying she was “shocked and saddened” by the news. Fontaine was cremated.

Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (22nd October 1917 – 15th December 2013), known professionally as Joan Fontaine, was an English-American actress . Fontaine …

Read More…

James Stewart

James Maitland “Jimmy” Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor and military officer who is among the most honored and popular stars in film history. A major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player, Stewart was known for his distinctive drawl and down-to-earth persona, which helped him often portray American middle-class men struggling in crisis. Many of the film s he starred in have become enduring classic s. Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition for The Philadelphia Story (1940), and received an Academy Lifetime Achievement award in 1985. In 1999, Stewart was named the third-greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age of Hollywood by the American Film Institute, behind Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant.The American Film Institute has also named five of Stewart’s film s to its list of the 100 best American film s ever made.

He also had a noted military career and was a World War II and Vietnam War veteran and pilot, who rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve, becoming the highest-ranking actor in military history.

Stewart was born on May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, the son of Elizabeth Ruth (née Jackson; March 16, 1875 – August 2, 1953) and Alexander Maitland Stewart (May 19, 1871 – December 28, 1961), who owned a hardware store. Stewart was mainly of Scottish ancestry and was raised as a Presbyterian. He was descended from veterans of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War. The eldest of three children (he had two younger sisters, Virginia Wilson Stewart and Mary Kelly Stewart), young Jimmy was expected to one day inherit his father’s store and continue a business that had been in the family for three generations. His mother was an excellent pianist, but his father discouraged Stewart’s request for music lessons. When his father once accepted a gift of an accordion from a guest, Stewart quickly learned to play the instrument, which became a fixture offstage during his acting career. As the family grew, music continued to be an important part of family life.

A shy child, Stewart spent much of his after-school time in the basement working on model airplanes, mechanical drawing and chemistry—all with a dream of going into aviation. It was a dream greatly enhanced by the legendary 1927 flight of Charles Lindbergh, whose progress 19-year-old Stewart, then stricken with scarlet fever, was himself avidly following from home; thus foreshadowing his starring movie role as Lindbergh 30 years later.

In 1938 Stewart had a brief, tumultuous romance with Hollywood queen Norma Shearer, whose husband, Irving Thalberg, head of production at MGM, had died two years earlier. Stewart began a successful partnership with director Frank Capra in 1938, when he was loaned out to Columbia Pictures to star in You Can’t Take It With You. Capra had been impressed by Stewart’s minor role in Navy Blue and Gold (1937). The director had recently completed several well received film s, including It Happened One Night (1934), and was looking for the right actor to suit his needs—other recent actor s in Capra’s film s such as Clark Gable, Ronald Colman, and Gary Cooper did not quite fit. Not only was Stewart just what he was looking for, but Capra also found Stewart understood that prototype intuitively and required very little directing. Later Capra commented, “I think he’s probably the best actor who’s ever hit the screen.”

Stewart was hospitalized after falling in December 1995. In December 1996, he was due to have the battery in his pacemaker changed, but opted not to, preferring to let things happen naturally. In February 1997, he was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat. On June 25, a thrombosis formed in his right leg, leading to a pulmonary embolism one week later. Surrounded by his children on July 2, 1997, Stewart died at the age of 89 at his home in Beverly Hills, California, with his final words to his family being, “I’m going to be with Gloria now.” President Bill Clinton commented that America had lost a “national treasure … a great actor , a gentleman and a patriot”. Over 3,000 mourners, mostly celebrities, attended Stewart’s memorial service, which included a firing of three volleys for his service in the Army Air Forces and the U.S. Air Force. Stewart’s remains are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

James Stewart – Interview w/ Michael Parkinson

Michael Parkinson interviews American actor Jimmy Stewart. He talks about his film s and working with Frank Capra and John Ford. Excerpt from “A wonderful …

Read More…