Glynis Johns (1923-) Whether it’s a blessing or a curse (I consider it a blessing), Glynis Johns will forever be immortalized as Mrs. Banks the woman suffragette in Mary Poppins (1964) bringing a certain amount of energy and personality to Disney’s musical classic. However, she also makes a memorable turn opposite Danny Kaye in the zany medieval comedy The Court Jester (1956).
Rose Marie (1923-) A veteran of vaudeville, Sally Rogers is undoubtedly best remembered as part of Rob Petrie’s comical gag writing team on The Dick Van Dyke Show developing a particular comic rapport between herself, Morey Amsterdam, and Van Dyke for some extraordinary moments. She also frequently guested on The Hollywood Squares hosted by Peter Marshall.
Jacqueline White (1924-) Perhaps she is a little-known actress, but Jacqueline White left an indelible mark on film-noir for two films in particular. The first being Crossfire (1947) and the fantastic B film The Narrow Margin (1952).
Richard Erdman (1925-) Richard Erdman has a very, very special place in my heart. The reason being I first got to know him as Leonard Rodriguez on the incomparable comedy Community. Guessing there might be a story behind him, I looked him up and little did I know he had an illustrious Hollywood career in many films I had seen early on in my introduction to film. His acting credits include such classics as The Men (1950), Cry Danger (1951), and Stalag 17 (1953). Even back then, even though he had more hair, there’s still that unmistakable sense of humor.
For my ongoing series of living legends, I chose 5 individuals actually who in some way had an impact on the film industry as we know it today. Without further ado, here are a handful of living legends.
Gene Reynolds (1923-): So Gene Reynolds began as a child actor back in the 1930s first appearing ni the Our Gang shorts and also making appearances in films such as Captains Courageous and Boys Town. Truth be told, I have yet to see one of his early performances. It’s unforgivable I know. However, Reynolds also had a great affect on me because of the many television shows he created/directed/produced later in his career. The list begins most prominently with MASH which he co-created but also Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan’s Heroes, and Lou Grant.
Billy & Garry Watson (1923 and 1928): Okay, so this entry is a little unique because Billy and Garry Watson are hardly known on their own but as two parts in an acting entity, The Watson Family. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s not necessarily unbelievable, but this group of siblings shared the screen with many of the great stars of the 1930s. Their film credits include the likes of Showboat, Young Mr. Lincoln, and perhaps most memorably, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Lola Albright (1924-): Lola Albright had a long and varied career in both film and television. Perhaps her most memorable role was opposite Kirk Douglas in Champion (1949) as one of his many flings on his way to the top of the boxing world. However, with the popularity of television, she also took many guests spots and even had a stint filling in for Dorothy Malone on Peyton Place.
Dorothy Malone (1925-): Dorothy Malone will best be remembered for her work in some of Douglas Sirk’s greatest melodramas including Written on the Wind and The Tarnished Angels. She also took on a particularly memorable cameo opposite Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep. She too dabbled in television with her most prominent role being that of Constance Mackenzie on the syndicated television version of Peyton Place.
Michele Morgan (1920-): A French beauty and leading lady for numerous decades known for integral roles in films in her native France and across the globe. Her filmography includes Michel Carne’s revered classic with Jean Gabin Port of Shadows as well as Carol Reed’s adroit drama Fallen Idol.
Nanette Fabray (1920-): Fabray had her roots in vaudeville and musical theater and I know her best for her memorably fun role in the Stanley Donen musical Band Wagon alongside Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, and of course, Oscar Levant. In the 1950s she was also paired with Sid Caesar on his eponymous “Caesar’s Hour.”
Rhonda Fleming (1923-): If Maureen O’Hara was Classic Hollywood’s favorite fiery redhead, Rhonda Fleming deserves to be thrown into the conversation as well, lending herself to many intriguing film-noir including classics like Out of the Past and lesser-known gems like The Spiral Staircase, Cry Danger, and While the City Sleeps. The true “Queen of Technicolor” is still up for debate.
Doris Day (1924-): Undoubtedly the biggest star on this list, Doris Day was quite the extraordinary performer as a singer, actress, and comedienne. Her string of romcoms with Rock Hudson and Tony Randall were memorable including Pillow Talk. However, she also paired with the likes of James Garner and Cary Grant in Move Over Darling and That Touch of Mink respectively. If there was a big-name leading man in Hollywood there’s a good bet that Day sparred with them. She also showed off her dramatic chops in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, a film that boasted her signature song, “Que Sera, Sera.”
I said awhile back that I wanted to acknowledge a few living legends who are still with us in a series of short posts and I’ve finally gotten around to it. Enjoy!
Olivia De Havilland (1916 – ): One of the famed sisters who starred in numerous Hollywood especially in the 30s and 40s, Olivia De Havilland will always be synonymous with her pairings with swashbuckler Errol Flynn and my personal favorite with always be The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Other films of note included Hold Back the Dawn, The Snake Pit, and The Heiress.
Norman Lloyd (1914 – ): I regret to say that I don’t know more about Mr. Lloyd and I have yet to watch Hitchcock’s Saboteur (1942) which has been on my to-do list for some time now. St. Elsewhere is also on the watchlist.
Kirk Douglas (1916 – ): The credits belonging to Kirk Douglas as an actor and producer are long and illustrious. He started out in film-noir with such films as The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Out of the Past (1947), and Champion (1949). However, his career continued to evolve including a lifelong collaborative partnership with Burt Lancaster and landmark films such as Ace in the Hole (1951), Paths of Glory (1957), and Spartacus (1960). His son Michael Douglas has continued the families acting dynasty well into the 21st century. He was named # 17 on the AFI list of greatest actors of all time for good reason.
Dannielle Darrieux (1917 – ) A mainstay of French cinema as well as Hollywood films, Darrieux is especially memorable for her work with Max Ophuls and I personally know her for roles in both the thriller 5 Fingers (1952) and Jacques Demy’s lovely musical The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967).