Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Donald Crisp, Bob Hope, James Mason, Binnie Barnes

Who was born on this date:

Actor Donald Crisp was an accomplished, director and character actor who was born George William Crisp on July 27, 1882 in Abnerfeldy, Scotland (some sources show his birth place as London, England). He began his career in show business on stage but quickly moved to motion pictures as a director and as an actor. His earliest foray into film as an actor came in The French Maid (1908) and his directorial debut was Her Father’s Silent Partner (1914). He played primarily father type characters and his slight brogue speech pattern added to a tender quality that made for some very memorable film roles. In his award winning film career, he directed over seventy films (primarily during the silent era, 1914-1930) and as an actor appeared in over one hundred and seventy (1908-1963). Crisp’s most famous film credits include: Birth of a Nation (1915), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Dawn Patrol (1938), Jezebel (1938), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Knute Rockne, All-American (1940), Lassie Come Home (1943), National Velvet (1944), and Prince Valiant (1954).
He won his first and only Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1942 for How Green Was My Valley (1941). After his wife, Jane Murfin’s death in 1957, Crisp went into semi-retirement but returned to the screen shortly stating, “Idleness can ruin men.” He made a few films, none of which were very memorable. His last on-screen performance was in Spencer’s Mountain (1963), co-starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara. On May 25, 1974, Donald Crisp died from a stroke at the Van Nuys Community Hospital in Van Nuys, California. The actor had suffered several minor strokes in the previous year and was in failing health at the time of his death. His funeral service was held at the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn, Glendale and he is buried in the Wee Kirk Church Yard, lot 2138, space 4 at Forest Lawn, Glendale.
Who died on this date:

On July 27, 2003, actor Bob Hope died. He was born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903 in Eltham, London, England. From the age of 12, he worked at a variety of odd jobs at a local boardwalk. Silent film comedian Fatty Arbuckle saw one of Hope's performances and in 1925 got him steady work with Hurley's Jolly Follies. Within a year, Hope had formed an act called the Dancemedians with George Byrne and the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who had a tap dancing routine.
Hope, like other stage performers, made his first films in New York. Educational Pictures employed him in 1934 for a short-subject comedy, Going Spanish. Hope sealed his fate with Educational when Walter Winchell asked him about the film. Hope cracked, "When they catch John Dillinger, they're going to make him sit through it twice." Educational fired him, but he was soon before the cameras at New York's Vitaphone studio starring in 20-minute comedies and musicals from 1934 through 1936, beginning with Paree, Paree (1934).
Paramount Pictures signed Hope for the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938, also starring W. C. Fields. During a duet with Shirley Ross, Hope introduced the song later to become his trademark, "Thanks for the Memory." Hope became one of Paramount's biggest stars, and would remain with the studio through the 1950s. Hope's regular appearances in Hollywood films and radio made him one of the best known entertainers in North America, and at the height of his career he was also making a large income from live concert performances.
As a movie star, he was best known for comedies like My Favorite Brunette and the highly successful "Road" movies in which he starred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Hope and Lamour were lifelong friends, and she remains the actress most associated with his film career. The series consists of Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946), Road to Rio (1947), Road to Bali (1952), and The Road to Hong Kong (1962).
Hope's informal teaming with Bing Crosby for the seven "Road" pictures from 1940 to 1962 and countless stage, radio, and television appearances together over the decades were critically important to Hope's career. At the beginning of the "Road" series, Broadway star Hope was relatively little known nationally compared to Crosby, and was actually billed under Dorothy Lamour in the first film, while Crosby had already been a hugely popular singer and movie star for years. After the release of Road to Singapore (1940), Hope's screen career immediately became white hot and stayed that way for over two decades, actually continuing until Cancel My Reservation (1972), his last theatrical starring role.
Hope was host of the Academy Awards ceremony 18 times between 1939 and 1977. His feigned lust for an Academy Award became part of his act. Although Hope was never nominated for an Oscar for his performances, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with four honorary awards, and in 1960, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. While introducing the 1968 telecast, he quipped, "Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's known at my house, Passover." Hope did many specials for the NBC television network in the following decades, beginning in April 1950. These were often sponsored by General Motors (1955–61), Chrysler (1963–73) and Texaco (1975–85), and Hope served as a spokesman for these companies for many years and would sometimes introduce himself as "Bob, from Texaco, Hope
Hope's first wartime performance occurred at sea. Aboard the RMS Queen Mary when World War II began in September 1939, he went to the captain to volunteer to perform a special show for the panicked passengers, during which he sang "Thanks for the Memory" with rewritten lyrics. Hope performed his first United Service Organizations (USO) show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California. He continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II and later during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War. On July 27, 2003, Bob Hope died at his home in Toluca Lake. He is interred in the Bob Hope Memorial Garden at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles.

On July 27, 1984, actor James Mason died. He was born on May 15, 1909 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England. From 1935 to 1948 he starred in many British films and he became immensely popular for his brooding anti-heroes in The Man in Grey (1943) and The Wicked Lady (1945). He also starred with Deborah Kerr in Hatter's Castle (1942). He then took the lead role in the critically acclaimed and immensely popular The Seventh Veil (1945) that set box office records in postwar Britain and raised him to international stardom. He followed it with a role as a mortally wounded Irish revolutionary in Odd Man Out (1947) and his first Hollywood film, Caught (1949).
Mason's distinctive voice enabled him to play a menacing villain as greatly as his good looks assisted him as a leading man. His roles include Brutus in Julius Caesar (1953), Field marshal Erwin Rommel in The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel and The Desert Rats, the amoral valet turned spy in Joseph Mankiewicz's 5 Fingers, the declining actor in the first remake of A Star Is Born (1954), Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (also 1954), a small town school teacher driven insane by the effects of Cortisone in Bigger Than Life (1956), a suave master spy in North by Northwest (1959), a determined explorer in Journey to the Center of the Earth (also 1959), Lolita (1962), Lord Jim (1965), Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), Salem's Lot, and Yellowbeard (1983). One of his last roles was in The Verdict (1982), earned him his third and final Oscar nomination. Mason died on July 27, 1984 from a heart attack in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was cremated and (after a delay of 16 years) his ashes were buried in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. The remains of Mason's old friend Charlie Chaplin are in a tomb a few steps away.
On July 27, 1998, actress Binnie Barnes died. She was born on May 25, 1903 in Islington, England. She began her acting career in films in 1923, appearing in a short film made by Lee De Forest in his Phonofilm sound-on-film process. Her film career continued in Britain, then in Hollywood, until 1973, with her final role in the comedy 40 Carats. Her most famous film was probably The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), starring Charles Laughton in the title role, with Barnes as Katherine Howard. She was married to film producer Mike Frankovich and became an American citizen. She died of natural causes at the age of 95 in Beverly Hills, California on July 27, 1998 and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale in the Joe E. Brown family plot., author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memeories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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