Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ilka Gruning, Irene Dunn

Who was born on this date:

Actress Ilka Grüning was born on September 4, 1876in Vienna, Austria. She was one of many Jewish actors and actresses that were forced to flee Europe when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Grünig's first film, at age 43, was a German silent movie called Todesurteil in 1919. She continued making silent movies in Germany into the 1920s. With the outbreak of World War II and the need for older German women for war movies, Grüning started receiving offers from Hollywood. Her first movie was in Underground (1941). She was busy in 1942. First, appearing in the Oscar nominated Kings Row starring Ronald Reagan, then in the spy thriller Dangerously They Live. This was followed by Friendly Enemies and Desperate Journey with Ronald Reagan and Errol Flynn. Also in 1942, at the age of 66, the oldest actor in the movie, Grüning appeared in Casablanca. Other notable screen appearances include; This is the Army, Madame Curie, An American Romance, Temptation, A Foreign Affair, The Great Sinner, and Mr. Soft Touch. Grüning died on November 11, 1964 in Los Angeles. She was cremated and her ashes are interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica.

Who died on this date:

On September 4, 1990, actress Irene Dunne died. She was born on December 20, 1898 in Louisville, Kentucky. Dunne was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her performances in Cimarron (1931), Theodora Goes Wild (1936), The Awful Truth (1937), Love Affair (1939) and I Remember Mama (1948). Irene made her Broadway debut in The Clinging Vine (1922). Dunne signed a contract with RKO and appeared in her first movie in 1930, Leathernecking. In 1936, she appeared in Show Boat. During the 1930s and 1940s, Dunne blossomed into a popular screen heroine in movies such as the original Back Street (1932), and Magnificent Obsession (1935). She also starred in the 1935 Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers musical, Roberta. She was apprehensive about attempting her first comedy role, as the title character in Theodora Goes Wild (1936), but discovered that she enjoyed it. She turned out to possess an aptitude for comedy, with a flair for combining the elegant and the madcap, a quality she displayed in such films as The Awful truth (1937) and My Favorite Wife (1940). Other notable films include Penny Serenade (1941), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), Life with Father (1947), and I Remember Mama (1948). She retired from the screen in 1952, after the comedy It Grows on Trees. Dunne died at her Holmby Hills home on September 4, 1990 and is buried at the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, California.

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