Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Burl Ives, Gene Barry, Dorothy McGuire, Richard Jaeckel

Born on this date:

Actor Burl Ives was born Burle Icle Ivanhoe Ives on June 14, 1909 in Hunt City, Illinois. As an actor, Ives's work included comedies, dramas, and voice work in theater, television, and motion pictures. Today, he probably best remembered for voicing the part of Sam the Snowman character from the 1960’s animated Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. In the 1930’s, Ives traveled around the U.S. as an itinerant singer, earning his way by doing odd jobs and playing his banjo. By 1940, Ives began his own radio show, titled The Wayfaring Stranger after one of his ballads. Over the next decade, he popularized several traditional folk songs, such as Foggy, Foggy Dew, Blue Tail Fly, and Big Rock Candy Mountain. In 1945 Ives was cast as a singing cowboy in the film Smoky (1945). His version of the 17th century English song Lavender Blue became his first hit and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for its use in the 1949 film, So Dear to My Heart.

In 1950, Ives was identified in the pamphlet Red Channels and blacklisted as an entertainer with supposed Communist ties. In 1952 he cooperated with the House Unamerican Activities Committee and agreed to testify. He stated that he was not a member of the Communist Party but that he had attended various union meetings with fellow folk singer Pete Seeger simply to stay in touch with working folk. He stated: "You know who my friends are; you will have to ask them if they are Communists.” Ives's statement to the HUAC ended his blacklisting, allowing him to continue acting in movies. But it also led to a bitter rift between Ives and many folk singers, including Seeger, who accused Ives of betraying them and the cause of cultural and political freedom in order to save his own career. Ives expanded his appearances in films during the 1950’s and his movie credits include East of Eden, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Desire Under the Elms, Wind Across the Everglades, The Big Country (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1959); Ensign Pulver, the sequel to Mister Roberts; and Our Man in Havana.

Burl Ives with Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Ives had several film and television roles during the 1960’s and 1970’s. In 1962 he starred with Rock Hudson in The Spiral Road, which was based on a novel of the same name by Jan de Hartog. In 1964, he played the genie in the movie The Brass Bottle with Tony Randall and Barbara Eden. Also in 1964, Ives played the narrator, Sam the Snowman, in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The yearly rebroadcast of the popular seasonal television special has forever linked Ives to the Christmas season.

Burl Ives as the voice of Sam the Snowman in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Ives was a renowned pipe smoker and also smoked cigars. In the summer of 1994 he was diagnosed with oral cancer after being hospitalized for back surgery. After several operations he decided against having further surgery. In April 1995 he fell into a coma. Ives died of complications of mouth cancer on April 14, 1995 in Anacortes, Washington and is buried at the Mound Cemetery in Hunt City Township, Jasper County, Illinois.

Actor Gene Barry was born Eugene Klass on June 14, 1919 in New York City. Barry chose his professional name in honor of John Barrymore and made his Broadway debut as Captain Paul Duval in the 1942 revival of Sigmund Romberg's The New Moon. In 1950, Barry began appearing on TV with the "NBC Television Opera Theatre.” In 1955, he appeared on the CBS anthology series Appointment with Adventure.

Barry appeared in his first movie, The Atomic City (1952), and then was cast as "Dr. Clayton Forrester" in the sci-fi classic, The War of the Worlds (1953). In 1955, Barry returned to television and had a recurring role in the situation comedy Our Miss Brooks. From 1958-1961, he starred in Bat Masterson, a fictionalized recounting of the life of the real-life U.S. Marshal / gambler. In his next TV series, Burke's Law, Barry played a millionaire who always used a chauffeured limousine and who solved crimes, first as the Chief of Detectives and then as a secret agent. This series was telecast from 1963 to 1965. For his performance in it, Barry won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in 1965.

Barry returned to Broadway on two occasions, 1962 in The Perfect Setup, and in 1983 in the Broadway premiere of the musical La Cage aux Folles. For his portrayal of Georges, Barry was nominated for a Tony Award. Barry died on December 9, 2009 at Sunrise Senior Living in Woodland Hills, California and is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

Actress Dorothy McGuire was born on June 14, 1916 in Omaha, Nebraska. She began her acting career on the stage at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Eventually, she succeeded on Broadway, first appearing as an understudy to Martha Scott in Our Town, and subsequently starring in the domestic comedy, Claudia.Brought to Hollywood by producer David O. Selznick on the strength of her stage performance, McGuire starred in her first film, a movie adaptation of her Broadway success, Claudia (1943).

Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, Celeste Holm & John Garfield in Gentleman's Agreement (1948)

Other film credits include A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) and Gentleman's Agreement (1948), for she was nominated for a best actress Academy Award. Additional movie credits include The Enchanted Cottage, A Summer Place, Three Coins in the Fountain, Friendly Persuasion, Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. McGuire had a long Hollywood career. Her versatility served her well in taut melodramas, such as The Spiral Staircase and Make Haste to Live, as well as in light, frothy comedies, such as Mother Didn't Tell Me and Mister 880. McGuire died of cardiac arrest following a brief illness on September 13, 2001 and her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.

Who died on this date:

On June 14, 1997, actor Richard Jaeckel died. He was born in Long Beach, New York. During his fifty years in movies & television, he was known as one of Hollywood's best known character actors. Jaeckel got his start in the business at the age of seventeen while working as a mail clerk at 20th Century Fox studios in Hollywood. A casting director auditioned him for a key role in the 1943 film Guadalcanal Diary, Jaeckel got the role and settled into a lengthy career in supporting parts.

He starred in two of the most remembered war films of 1949, Battleground and Sands of Iwo Jima with John Wayne. One of Jaeckel's shortest film roles was in The Gunfighter, in which his character is killed by Gregory Peck's character in the opening scene. He also played the role of Turk, the roomer's boyfriend, in the Oscar-winning 1952 film Come Back, Little Sheba, co-starring with Shirley Booth, Burt Lancaster, and Terry Moore. In 1960, he appeared as Angus Pierce in the Western Flaming Star which starred Elvis Presley. He played Lee Marvin's able second-in-command in The Dirty Dozen for director Robert Aldrich. Jaeckel appeared in several other Aldrich films, including Attack, Ulzana's Raid and Twilight's Last Gleaming.

In 1972, Jaeckel received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Sometimes a Great Notion. In his later years, Jaeckel was known to TV audiences as Lt. Ben Edwards on the NBC series Baywatch. He also co-starred on Robert Urich's ABC series Spenser: For Hire in the role of Lieutenant Martin Quirk. On June 14, 1997, Jaeckel died after a three-year battle with melanoma, at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California and his ashes were scattered at sea.

http://www.michaelthomasbarry.com/, author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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