Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peter Lorre, Jeanne Eagles, June Preisser

Who was born on this date:

Actor Peter Lorre was born on June 26, 1904 in Hungry. He is best known for playing sinister roles and appearing in crime dramas. Lorre began acting on stage in Vienna at the age of 17, and then moved to Breslau, and Z├╝rich. The German-speaking actor became famous when Fritz Lang cast him as a child killer in his 1931 film M. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Lorre took refuge first in Paris and then London, where he was noticed by Ivor Montagu, Alfred Hitchcock's associate producer for The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). He also was featured in Hitchcock's Secret Agent, in 1935.

Eventually, Lorre went to Hollywood, where he specialized in playing sinister foreigners, beginning with Mad Love (1935), and then a series of Mr. Moto movies, a parallel to the better known Charlie Chan series. In 1940, Lorre co-starred with fellow horror actors Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the Kay Kyser movie You'll Find Out. Lorre enjoyed considerable popularity as a featured player in Warner Bros. suspense and adventure films. Lorre played the role of Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and portrayed the character Ugarte in the film classic Casablanca (1942). Lorre branched out into comedy with the role of Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944). In 1946 he starred with Sydney Greenstreet and Geraldine Fitzgerald in Three Strangers.

For many years Lorre suffered from chronic gallbladder troubles, for which doctors prescribed morphine. He became trapped between the constant pain and addiction to morphine. Overweight and never fully recovered from his addiction, Lorre suffered numerous personal and career disappointments in his later years. He died on March 23, 1964 of a stroke and his ashes are interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.

Actress Jeanne Eagels was born on June 26, 1890 in Kansas City, Missouri. She was a former Ziegfeld Follies Girl, who went on to greater fame on Broadway and in the emerging medium of sound films (she only appeared in 9 motion pictures). She began her acting career in Kansas City, appearing in a variety of small venues at a very young age. She left Kansas City at age 15 and toured the Midwest with the Dubinsky Brothers' traveling theater show. At first, she was a dancer, but in time she went on to play the leading lady in several comedies and dramas. Around 1911, she moved to New York City, working in chorus lines and eventually becoming a Ziegfeld Girl. In 1915, she appeared in her first motion picture and for the next decade plus she moved back and forth between film and stage performances.

In 1927, she appeared opposite John Gilbert in the MGM film, Man, Woman and Sin (1927). A notoriously fickle actress, she was banned by Actors Equity from appearing on stage for 18 months, after failing to appear for a performance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This ban did not stop Eagels from working in film, and she made two "talkies" for Paramount Pictures, including The Letter and Jealousy (both released in 1929).

On October 3, 1929, just before she was to return to the Broadway stage, Eagels died suddenly in New York City. Medical examiners disagreed on the cause of death, there were three separate coroner's reports, all reaching different conclusions but the available evidence pointed to the effects of alcohol, a tranquilizer, or heroin. She is buried at the Calvary Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri. She was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress (the first ever such consideration) for her role in The Letter (1929), but lost to Mary Pickford for the film, Coquette.

Actress June Preisser was born on June 26, 1920 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her parents sent her to an athletic club at an early age, in an attempt to build her strength. There she, and her sister Cherry, learnt acrobatics. When Preisser was nine years old an actor noticed the two sisters performing acrobatics on a sidewalk near their home, and his interest in them eventually led to them working in vaudeville, and later for the Ziegfeld Follies in 1934 and 1936.

In the late 1930’s, June was signed to a contract by MGM and her first film was Dancing Co-Ed (1939). Her next film, Babes in Arms (1939), gave her a significant role opposite Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. She performed with Rooney and Garland again in Strike Up the Band (1940), and with Rooney in two "Andy Hardy" films, Judge Hardy and Son (1939) and Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941). Other notabel film credits include Gallant Sons (1940), Henry Aldrich for President (1941), and Sweater Girl (1942). Her final film was Music Man (1948), after which she retired from acting. On September 19, 1984, she was killed in car accident in Florida and is buried at the Atkins Cemetery, Blountstown, Florida., author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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