Monday, November 28, 2011

Gloria Grahame and Rosalind Russell

Who was born on this date:

Actress Gloria Grahame was born on November 28, 1923in Los Angeles. She began her acting career in theatre, and in 1944 she made her film debut. Despite a featured role in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), MGM did not believe she had the potential for major success, and sold her contract toRKO Pictures. Often cast in film noir roles, Grahame received a nomination for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for Crossfire (1947), and she won the Oscar for her work in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). She also appeared in Sudden Fear (1952), Human Desire (1953), The Big Heat (1953), and Oklahoma (1955), but her film career began to wane soon afterwards. Grahame had a string of stormy romances and failed marriages during her time in Hollywood, including marriages to director Nicholas Ray. She died on October 5, 1981 from stomach cancer in New York and was buried at Oakwood Memorial park in Chatsworth, California.

On November 28, 1976, actress Rosalind Russell died. She was born. Russell started her career as a fashion model. In the early 1930’s, Russell went west to Los Angeles to be a contract actress for Universal Pictures. When she first arrived on the lot, she was ignored by most of the crew and later told the press she felt terrible and humiliated at the studio, which had influence on her self-confidence. Unhappy with Universal's leadership, and second-class film status at the time, Russell set her sights on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She debuted with MGM in 1934’s Evelyn Prentice and, although the role was small, she was noticed, with one critic saying that she was "convincing as the woman scorned." She starred in many comedies, such as Forsaking All Others (1934), and Four's a Crowd (1938), as well as dramas, including Craig's Wife (1936) and The Citadel (1938).

Russell was first acclaimed when she co-starred in the MGM drama West Point of the Air (1935). In 1939, she was cast as catty gossip Sylvia Fowler in the all-female comedy The Women, directed by George Cukor. The film was a major hit, boosting her career and establishing her reputation as a comedienne. Russell continued to display her talent for comedy in the classic screwball comedy His Girl Friday (1940), directed by Howard Hawks. In the 1940s, she made comedies such as The Feminine Touch (1941) and Take a Letter, Darling (1942), dramas including Sister Kenny (1946), and Mourning Becomes Electra (1947), and a murder mystery The Velvet Touch (1948).

Over the course of her career, Russell earned four Academy Award nominations for Best Actress: My Sister Eileen (1942); Sister Kenny (1946); Mourning Becomes Electra (1947); and the movie version of Auntie Mame (1958). She received a Special Academy Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1972. The awarded trophy for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is an Oscar statuette. Russell scored a big hit on Broadway with her Tony Award-winning performance in Wonderful Town (1953), a musical version of her successful film of a decade earlier, My Sister Eileen. Russell reprised her starring role for a 1958 television special.

Perhaps her most memorable performance was in the title role of the long-running stage hit Auntie Mame and the subsequent 1958 movie version, in which she played an eccentric aunt whose orphan nephew comes to live with her. From the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, she continued to shine with older roles in a large number of movies, giving notable performances in Picnic (1955), A Majority of One (1961), Five Finger Exercise (1962), Gypsy (1962), and The Trouble with Angels (1966). Russell died on November 28, 1976 after a long battle with breast cancer and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

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