Saturday, September 3, 2011

Alan Ladd, Kitty Carlisle, Frank Capra, James Dunn, Eugene Pallette, Barbara O'Neil

Who was born on this date:

Ladd with Veronica Lake

Actor Alan Ladd was born on September 3, 1913 was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Ladd’s film career began with small parts in such movies as Citizen Kane and Joan of Paris (1942). He came into his own as a leading man in This Gun for Hire (1942), in which he played "Raven," a hitman with a conscience. Ladd went on to star in many Paramount Pictures films that included The Glass Key (1942) and Lucky Jordan (1942). His cool, unsmiling persona proved popular with wartime audiences, and he was quickly established as one of the top box office stars of the decade and was often paired with actress Veronica Lake. In 1946, he starred in a trio of silver screen classics: Tow Years Before the Mast, The Blue Dahlia and O.S.S. Ladd played the title role in the 1953 western Shane, which was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In November 1962, Ladd was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood with a bullet wound near his heart from an unsuccessful suicide attempt. In 1963 Ladd filmed a supporting role in The Carpetbaggers but did not live to see its release. On January 29, 1964 he was found dead in Palm Springs, California from an acute overdose of "alcohol and other drugs,” the death was rules an accident. Ladd was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.

Actress Kitty Carlisle was born on September 3, 1910 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is best remembered as a regular panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth. She studied acting in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. After returning to New York in 1932 she appeared on Broadway in several operettas and musical comedies. Carlisle's early movies included Murder at the Vanities (1934), A Night at the Opera (1935), She Loves Me Not (1934) and Here Is My Heart (1934). Carlisle would resume her film career later in life, appearing in Woody Allen’s Radio Days (1987) and in Six Degrees of Separation (1993). Her last movie appearance was in Catch Me If You Can (2002). Known for her gracious manners and personal elegance, Carlisle became prominent in New York City social circles as she crusaded for financial support of the arts. She was appointed to various state-wide councils, and was chair of the New York State Council of the Arts from 1976 to 1996. Carlisle died on April 17, 2007 from congestive heart failure resulting from a prolonged bout of pneumonia. She was buried in a crypt next to her husband, Moss Hart at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

Who died on this date:

On September 3, 1991, director Frank Capra died. The multi-talented award winning film director, producer and writer, Frank Rosario Capra was born on May 18, 1897 in Bisacquino, Sicily, Italy. He immigrated to the United States in 1903 at the age of five with his family. Capra is best known for directing the classic holiday film, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), starring Jimmy Stewart. The award winning director’s career in show business spanned nearly four decades from 1922 to 1977, in which he directed fifty three films. In the mid-1920’s, he worked for Hal Roach as a writer on numerous Our Gang serials, and was also employed by Mack Sennett’s studio. Harry Cohn the head of Columbia Studios saw that Capra had what it took to be a star director in Hollywood and gave him support in his early films. Capra was nominated for six best director Oscars, first in 1934 for Lady for a Day, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1940), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) and won three times, It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1935), and You Can’t Take It with You (1939). Other notable film credits include; Broadway Bill (1934), Lost Horizon (1937), Meet John Doe (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), and Pocket Full of Miracles (1961). He was a master at capturing on film the social ills of the era, and with humor was able to create powerful characters that came from humble surroundings that took on societies wrongs. His films appealed to the masses of the day and also stand the test of time today as beloved classics. Frank Capra died on September 3, 1991 from a heart attack at his home in La Quinta, California. Capra is buried in a non-descript grave at the Coachella Valley Public Cemetery in Coachella, California, block 77, lot 289, space 8. 

On September 3, 1967, actor James Dunn died. The award winning character actor was born November 2, 1901 in New York City. He worked in vaudeville (as a song and dance man), the theater, and as an extra in several silent films before being signed to a movie contract with 20th Century-Fox studios in 1931. Known for his boy next door roles, Dunn’s film and television career spanned nearly four decades (1929-1967) and included over fifty feature motion pictures. In 1946, he won the best supporting Oscar for his portrayal of the drunken waiter, Johnny Nolan, in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945). His other notable film credits include: Society Girl (1932), Take a Chance (1933), Mysterious Crossing (1936), and Killer McCoy (1947). He also starred alongside Shirley Temple in her first three films, Stand Up and Cheer (1934), Baby Take a Bow (1934), and Bright Eyes (1934). In 1950, Dunn retired from motion pictures and began to work exclusively in television and he became one the first Hollywood film actors to star in his own television series, It’s a Great Life (1954-56). On September 3, 1967, Dunn died at the Santa Monica Hospital after undergoing abdominal surgery. James Dunn’s remains were cremated and the ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

On September 3, 1954, actor Eugene Pallette died. He was born on July 8, 1889 in Winfield, Kansas. He appeared in over 240 silent era and sound era motion pictures between 1913 and 1946. An overweight man with large stomach and deep, gravelly voice, Pallette is probably best-remembered for comic character roles such as Alexander Bullock, Carole Lombard's father, in My Man Godfrey (1936), his role as Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) starring Errol Flynn and his similar role as Fray Felipe in The Mark of Zorro (1940) starring Tyrone Power. Pallette began his silent movie career as an extra in about 1911.

His first credited appearance was in the one-reel short western/drama, The Fugitive (1913). He worked with D.W. Griffith on such famous films as The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916). At this time, he had a slim, athletic figure, a far cry from the portly build that would gain him fame later in his career. After gaining a substantial amount of weight, Pallette gained status as a recognizable character actor. In 1927, he signed as a regular for Hal Roach Studios and was a reliable comic foil in several early Laurel and Hardy movies. In later years, Pallette's weight may have topped out at 300 pounds.

The advent of the talkies proved to be the second major career boost for Pallette. His inimitable rasping gravel voice made him one of Hollywood's most sought-after character actors in the 1930s and 1940s. In increasingly ill health by his late 1950s, Pallette made fewer and fewer movies, and for lesser studios. His final movie was Suspense, released in 1946. He died on September 3, 1954 from cancer at his apartment in Los Angeles. His cremated remains are interred in an unmarked grave at Green Lawn Cemetery in Grenola, Kansas.

On September 3, 1980, actress Barbara O'Neil died. She was born on July 17, 1910 in St. Louis, Missouri.  In 1937, O'Neil debuted in the film Stella Dallas and in 1939 she was cast in the role of Ellen O'Hara, Scarlett O’Hara’s mother in Gone with the Wind. The following year, she appeared in All This and Heaven Too and for her part was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her later films include Shining Victory (1941), I Remember Mama (1948), Whirlpool (1949) and The Nun’s Story (1959). She died from a heart attack on September 3, 1980 in Cos Cob, Connecticut and is buried at El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove, California.

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