Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Claudette Colbert, Robert Dudley, Dorothy McGuire, Betty Field

Who died on this date:

Actress Claudette Colbert was a versatile and award winning actress and was born Lily Claudette Chauchoin on September 13, 1903 in Saint-Mande, France. At an early age the actress and her family immigrated to the United States, settling in New York City. Her career in show business began on the stage, where her big break on Broadway came in 1927, playing the role of the snake charmer in The Barker. This success led directly to film contracts and role in the 1927 silent film, For the Love of Mike. With the advent of talking pictures there was a need for classically trained stage actress’ and Colbert abandoned the stage for the big screen. She appeared in seventy-nine films and television programs from 1927 to 1987, film highlights include; The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), The Wiser Sex (1932), The Sign of the Cross (1932), Cleopatra (1934), Imitation of Life (1934), The Gilded Lily (1935), Arise My Love (1940), No Time for Love (1943), and Three Came Home (1950).

In the early years of her career, Colbert was type cast as the sweet and virtuous woman. This image changed in 1932 and in one memorable scene from the film, The Sign of the Cross, Colbert playing the role of the seductress takes a scandalous dip in a bath tub filled with milk. This role helped propel her into a new category of super stardom, that of sex symbol. She was nominated for three best actress awards, Private World’s (1935), and Since You Went Away (1945), but her only Academy Award win was in 1934’s It Happened One Night, co-starring Clark Gable. Ironically, the night of her biggest success might never have been, Colbert did not plan on attending the ceremony. She believed that actress Bette Davis (due to a ground swell of last minute write-in votes) would win the award and not wanting to be humiliated had planned a trip to New York instead of attending the ceremony. While awaiting her train at Union Station in Los Angeles, friends of Colbert’s arrived at the train station just in time to whisk the actress back to the Biltmore Hotel (under police escort) to receive the best actress Oscar. She made it just in time to accept the award and then quietly slipped out of the ballroom and resumed her planned trip to New York. As her film career began to wane in the early 1950’s, Colbert made the successful switch to television and theater. She appeared on numerous television programs until 1987, and also made several successful Broadway stage appearances in the 1960’s and again in the early 1980’s.

The legendary actress suffered a series of strokes in March of 1993, which left her partially paralyzed and confined to wheelchair. Despite these disabilities, Colbert continued to have a zest for life, visiting often with family and friends. On July 30, 1996, three years after her first stroke, she tragically suffered another massive stroke and died at her vacation home in Bridgetown, Barbados at age ninety. Claudette Colbert is buried at the Parish of Saint Peter’s Cemetery in Barbados.     

Actor Robert Dudley was born on September 13, 1869 in Cincinnati. Ohio. He was a prolific character actor, who appeared in numerous films from the silent era to the 1950’s. Primarily, appearing in “B” movies, notable film credits include Seven Keys of Baldpate (1917), The Traveling Salesman (1921), Chicago (1927), Reunion (1932), The Toast of New York (1937), The House of the Seven Gables (1940), The Son of Dracula (1943), Lady on a Train (1945), and As Young as You Feel (1951). In Orson Wells’ Academy Award winning film, Citizen Kane (1941), Dudley played an uncredited role as a photographer. He was the founder of the “Troupers Club of Hollywood,” an organization founded by actors for actors. Robert Dudley died November 12, 1955 in San Clemente; California. He is buried at Melrose Abbey in Anaheim, California.

Who died on this date:

On September 13, 2001, actress Dorothy McGuire died. She was born on June 14, 1916 in Omaha. Nebraska. She began her acting career on the stage at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Eventually, she moved onto Broadway, first appearing in Our Town and Claudia. She was discovered by David O. Selznick on the strength of her stage performance; McGuire starred in her first film, a movie adaptation of her Broadway success, Claudia, and portrayed the character of a child bride who almost destroys her marriage through her selfishness. Her inaugural screen performance was popular with both the public and critics alike and was the catalyst for not only a sequel, Claudia and David (both movies co-starring Robert Young), but also for numerous other film roles. By 1943, at the age of 27, she was already playing mother roles, in such movies as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.. She was nominated for a best actress Academy Award in 1947 for Gentleman’s Agreement. Other notable films include The Enchanted Cottage, A Summer Place, Three Coins in the Fountain, Friendly Persuasion, Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. She was married to Life magazine photographer John Swope (1908–1979) for more than 35 years. McGuire died of cardiac arrest on September 13, 2001 and her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.

On September 13, 1973, actress Betty Field died. She was born on February 8, 1913 in Boston, Massachusetts. She began her acting career on the London stage in She Loves Me Not. Following its run she returned to the United States and appeared in several stage successes, before making her film debut in 1939. Her role as Mae, the sole female character, in Of Mice and Men (1939) established her as a dramatic actress. She starred opposite John Wayne in the The Shepard of the Hills (1941). Field played supporting roles in films such as Kings Row (1942). Field preferred performing on Broadway and appeared in Dream Girl and The Waltz of the Toreadors, but returned to Hollywood regularly, appearing in Flesh and Fantasy (1943), The Southerner (1945), The Great Gatsby (1949), Picnic (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Peyton Place (1957), Butterfield 8 (1960) and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962). Her final film role was in Coogan’s Bluff in 1968. She also appeared on television. Filed died on September 13, 1973 in Hyannis, Massachusetts from a stroke. He cremated remains were given to family for final disposition, which is unknown.

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