Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shelley Winters, Andrea Leeds, John Sturges

Who was born on this date:

Actress Shelley Winters was born Shirley Schrift on August 18, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri. She would appear in dozens of films, as well as on stage and television; her career spanned over 50 years until her death in 2006. A two-time Academy Award winner, she most remembered for her roles in A Place in the Sun, The Big Knife, Lolita, The Night of the Hunter, Alfie, and The Poseidon Adventure. 

Her first movie was What a Woman ! (1943) and throughout the 1940’s, basically worked in bit parts. She achieved stardom with her breakout performance in George Cukor’s, A Double Life (1947). She quickly landed leading roles in The Great Gatsby (1949) and Winchester 73 (1950). But it was her performance in A Place in the Sun (1951), a departure from the sexpot image that earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. 

Throughout the 1950s, Winters continued in films, including Meet Danny Wilson (1952) and Night of the Hunter (1955). She returned to the stage on various occasions during this time, including a Broadway run in A Hatful of Rain, in 1955-1956. She won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for The Diary of Anne Frank in 1960, and another award, in the same category, for A Patch of Blue in 1966. Notable later roles include Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962), Alfie (1966) and Harper (1966). In 1972 she appeared in The Poseidon Adventure (for which she received her final Oscar nomination). 

During her 50 years as a widely known personality, Winters was rarely out of the news. Her stormy marriages, her romances with famous stars, her forays into politics and feminist causes kept her name before the public. She delighted in giving provocative interviews and seemed to have an opinion on everything. In late life, she recalled her conquests in her autobiographies. She wrote of a yearly rendezvous she kept with William Holden, as well as her affairs with Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, Errol Flynn and Marlon Brando. She died on January 14, 2006 of heart failure at the Rehabilitation Center of Beverly Hills and is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

Actress Andrea Leeds was born on August 14, 1914 in Butte, Montana. She was a popular supporting actress of the late 1930s, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Stage Door (1937). She was progressing to leading roles, when she retired from acting following her marriage in 1939. She began her film career in 1934 playing bit parts but played her first substantial role in the film Come and get it (1936) and achieved another success with her next film It Could Happen to You (1937). Her wholesome quality led to her being cast in The Goldwyn Follies (1938), Youth Takes a Fling (1938) and They Shall Have Music (1939). Her final film was Earthbound (1940). These films were relatively successful and Leeds remained a popular actress. In 1939 she married Robert Stewart Howard, son of California businessman and racehorse owner Charles S. Howard, and decided to leave films to devote herself to raising a family. Her father-in-law owned and raced the legendary Seabiscuit, and with her husband she became a successful horse owner/breeder. Andrea Leeds died from cancer in Palm Springs, California on May 21, 1984 and is buried at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California.

Who died on this date:

On August 18, 1992, director John Sturges died. He was born on January 3, 1910 in Oak Park, Illinois. His notable film credits include Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), for which he was nominated for a best director Academy Award, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963) and Ice Station Zebra (1968). He died on August 18, 1992 in San Luis Obispo, California. His remains were cremated and scattered., author of Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950

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