Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Burt Lancaster, James Dunn and Martha Vickers

Who was born on this date:

Actor Burt Lancaster was born on November 2, 1913 in New York City. He was noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile (which he called "The Grin"). After initially building his career on "tough guy" roles Lancaster abandoned his "all-American" image in the late 1950s in favor of more complex and challenging roles, and came to be regarded as one of the best actors of his generation as a result. Lancaster was nominated four times for Academy Awards and one once for Elmer Gantry in 1960. Other notable film credits include The Killers (1946), Marty (1955), The Kentuckian (1955), Trapeze (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Midnight Man (1974), and Atlantic City (1980). In 1953, Lancaster played one of his best remembered roles with Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity. It was named one of "AFI's top 100 Most Romantic Films" of all time. Lancaster vigorously guarded his private life. He was married three times. His first two marriages ended in divorce. He claimed to have been romantically involved with Deborah Kerr during the filming of From Here to Eternity. However, Ms. Kerr had stated that while there was a spark of attraction, nothing ever happened. He also had an affair with Joan Blondell and Shelly Winters. He was plagued by numerous illnesses in later life and died from a heart attack on October 20, 1994 at his Century City home. He was cremated and his ashes were buried under a large oak tree in Westwood Memorial Park.

Actor James Dunn 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.

Who died on this date:

On November 2, 1971, actress Martha Vickers died. She was born on May 28, 1925 Ann Arbor, Michigan. She began her career as a model and cover girl and her film debut was in a small un-credited part in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1941). She played minor roles in several films during the early 1940s, and by the end of the decade had progressed to featured supporting roles, including the role of the nymphomaniac younger sister of Lauren Bacall’s character in The Big Sleep (1946). During the 1950s, Vickers' film career stalled, however she continued to act in television until her final performance in 1960. Vickers was married three times; most notably to Mickey Rooney (June 3, 1949 – September 25, 1951). She died of esophageal cancer on November 2, 1971 and was buried at Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood, California.

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