Friday, July 15, 2011

William Dieterle and Margaret Lockwood

Who was born on this date:

Director William Dieterle was born on July 15, 1893 in Germany. He directed his first film in 1923, Der Mensch am Wege, which co-starred a young Marlene Dietrich, but he returned to acting for several years and appeared in such notable German films as Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks) (1924) and F.W. Murnau's Faust (1926). In 1927, Dieterle and his wife, Charlotte Hagenbruch, formed their own production company and returned to directing films, such as Sex in Chains (1928) in which he also played the lead role.

In 1930, Dieterle immigrated to the United States when he was offered a job in Hollywood to make German versions of American films; he became a citizen of the United States in 1937. He adapted quickly to Hollywood filmmaking and was soon directing original films. His first, The Last Flight (1931), was a success and has been hailed as a forgotten masterpiece. Other films made during the 1930s include Jewel Robbery (1932), Adorable (1933), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) with Reinhardt, The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), Juarez (1939), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), with Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Kismet (1944) with Ronald Colman and Marlene Dietrich.

During the 1940s, Dieterle works were infused with more lush, romantic expression and many critics see the films of this period as some of his best works. They include The Devil and Daniel Webster (also known as All That Money Can Buy, 1941), Love Letters (1945) and Portrait of Jennie (1948). His career declined in the 1950s during the McCarthyism period and although he was never blacklisted directly, his libertarian film Blockade (1938) as well as some of the people he worked with were considered suspect. He continued to make American films in the 1950s, including The Turning Point (1952), Salome (1953) with Rita Hayworth, Elephant Walk (1954) with Elizabeth Taylor, and a biopic of Richard Wagner, Magic Fire (1955) for Republic Pictures. He made some films in Germany and Italy, and a notorious U.S. flop, Quick, Let's Get Married (1964), also known as The Confession or Seven Different Ways with Ginger Rogers before retiring in 1965. He died on December 9, 1972 in Ottobrunn, Germany and is buried at Friedhof Hohenbrunn, Germany.

Who died on this date:

On July 15, 1990, actress Margaret Lockwood died. She was born on September 15, 1916 in Karachi, Pakistan. She began studying for the stage at an early age at the Italia Conti, and made her debut in 1928, at the age of 12, at the Holborn Empire, where she played a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In December of the following year, she appeared at the Scala Theatre in the pantomime The Babes in the Wood. In 1932, she appeared at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in Cavalcade. Lockwood then trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she was seen by a talent scout and signed to a contract. In June 1934, she played Myrtle in House on Fire at the Queen's Theatre, and on 22 August 1934 appeared as Margaret Hamilton in Gertrude Jenning's play Family Affairs when it premiered at the Ambassadors Theatre; Helene Ferber in Repayment at the Arts Theatre in January 1936; Trixie Drew in Henry Bernard's play Miss Smith at the Duke of York's Theatre in July 1936; and back at the Queen's in July 1937 as Ann Harlow in Ann's Lapse.

Lockwood’s film career began in 1935, when she appeared in the film version of Lorna Doone. In 1938 she starred in her most successful film, Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. In 1940, she played the role of Jenny Sunley in The Stars Look Down. In the early 1940s, Lockwood changed her on-screen image to play villainesses in both contemporary and period films, becoming the most successful actress in British films during that period. Her greatest success was in the title role in The Wicked Lady (1945), a film which was controversial in its day and brought her considerable publicity.

She made a return to the stage in a record-breaking national tour of Noël Coward's Private Lives in 1949, and also played Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion at the Edinburgh Festival of 1951, and the title role in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan in 1949, 1950, and 1957 (the latter with her daughter as Wendy). Her subsequent long-running West End hits include an all-star production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1965/66, in which she played the villainous Mrs Cheveley), W. Somerset Maugham's Lady Frederick (1970), Relative Values (Noël Coward revival, 1973), and the thrillers Spider's Web (1955, written for her by Agatha Christie), Signpost to Murder (1962), and Double Edge (1975). Margaret Lockwood lived her final years in seclusion in Kingston-upon-Thames and died in the Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London on July 15, 1990 from cirrhosis of the liver. Her cremated remains were given to family and final disposition is unknown., author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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