Saturday, September 10, 2011

Edmond O'Brien, Bessie Love, Tala Birell, Jane Wyman

Who was born on this date:

Actor Edmond O'Brien was born on September 10, 1915 in New York City. He is best known for his Academy Award winning performance for best supporting actor in 1954’s, The Barefoot Contessa. Other memorable film credits include The Killers (1946), White Heat (1949), D.O.A (1950), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and The Wild Bunch (1969). He also made numerous television appearances throughout the 1960s. O'Brien died on May 9, 1985 of Alzheimer’s disease and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Actress Bessie Love was born on September 10, 1898 in Midland, Texas. She was an actress who achieved prominence mainly in the silent era and early talkies. With a small frame and delicate features, she played innocent young girls, flappers, and wholesome leading ladies. Her role in The Broadway Melody (1929) earned her an Academy Award nomination for best actress. Film director D.W. Griffith introduced Love to films, and one of her first film appearances was in The Birth of a nation (1915). In 1922 Love was selected one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. In 1923, she starred in Human Wreckage and as her roles got larger, so did her popularity. She was able transition successfully to talking pictures, and starred in such early talkies as The Hollywood Revue of 1929, Chasing Rainbows (1930), Good News (1930), and They Learned About Women (1930). However, by 1932 her film career was in decline. She moved to England in 1935 and did stage work and occasional films. After World War II, she returned to the United States and made several small film roles in such films as The Barefoot Contessa (1954) and The Greenage Summer (1961). She moved back to the United Kingdom permantley in the early 1960s. Love made a comeback in the 1980s with roles in Ragtime (1981), Reds (1981), Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981) and (her final film) The Hunger (1983). She died in London on April 26, 1986 from natural causes. Her ashes are interred at the Breakspear Crematorium in Ruislip, England.

Actress Tala Birell was born on September 10, 1907 in Romania. She was a body double for Marlene Dietrich in many of her German films. Birell is best remembered for her film appearance in Bringing Up Baby (1938). Other notable film credits include Lets Fall in Love (1933) and Crime and Punishment (1935). She died on February 17, 1958 in Landstuhl, Germany and is buried at the Cemetery of Marquartstein in Bayern, Germany.

Who died on this date: 

On September 10, 2007, actress Jane Wyman died. Known as a talented and classy actress whose award winning and distinguished film career was nearly overshadowed by her failed third marriage to actor and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Wyman was born Sarah Jane Mayfield on January 5, 1917 in St. Joseph, Missouri (It must be noted that her actual birth year is in dispute and it has been alleged that she may have been born as many as five years earlier than actually has been published). Wyman came from a broken home; her parents divorced when she was very young and her father died prematurely. After high school with the help of her mother, she attempted to break into show business but early attempts failed. While attending the University of Missouri, she moonlighted as a radio singer under the name of Jane Durrell. She got her start in films in 1932 as a member of the chorus line in The Kid from Spain; other yet unknown cast members from this film included Betty Grable and Paulette Goddard. Throughout the early to late 1930’s, Wyman appeared in numerous “B” movies as a contract player at Warner Bros Studios and it was during this time that she met and eventually married actor Ronald Reagan. The pair first appeared on film together in Brother Rat (1938) and the two were married on January 26, 1940; they would appear together in three additional motion pictures. Their union lasted eight years, producing one biological daughter (Maureen Reagan) and one adopted son (Michael Reagan), and in 1948 ended in divorce. After Reagan became Governor of California and then President in 1980, Wyman refused to comment on their marriage and considered it bad taste to talk of ex-husbands.  

Professionally, Wyman’s film career as a dramatic actress was not taken seriously until after appearing alongside Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend (1945). The following year she starred in The Yearling (1946) and received a best actress Oscar nomination an in 1949 won Oscar gold as best lead actress for her portrayal of a deaf-mute rape victim in Johnny Belinda (1948). This was the first time since the silent movie era that an actress had won the award by not saying a word. There were whispers that Academy voters had given her the Oscar out of sympathy, due to a recent miscarriage and tumultuous divorce from Ronald Reagan. Upon accepting the award, Wyman was quoted as saying “I accept this very gratefully for keeping my mouth shut for once. I think I will do it again.” In following years, she would be nominated twice more for best actress Academy Awards in 1952 for The Blue Veil (1951) and 1955 for Magnificent Obsession (1954).

In a film and television career that would span six decades from 1932 to 1993, Wyman would appear in eighty six motion pictures and numerous television series some of which include; Ready Willing and Able (1937), The Angel from Texas (1940), Bad Men of Missouri (1941), Night and Day (1946), The Glass Menagerie (1950), and Pollyanna (1960). Television credits include; Jane Wyman Presents: The Fireside Theatre (1955-58) and Falcon Crest (1981-1990). In 1993, she retired from show business and moved to the Palm Springs area; there she remained active as the national chairwoman of the National Arthritis Foundation. On September 10, 2007, Wyman died from of complications of arthritis and diabetes at her home in Rancho Mirage, California. The actress had been in failing health for several years prior to her death. Her funeral was held at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert, California. She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Cathedral City in the Mission Santa Rosa outdoor mausoleum, crypt 5F.  

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