Archive for the ‘10 Favorite Actors of 1950’s’ category

Favorite Actor of the 1950’s ~ #1~ James Dean

April 30, 2007

He never won an Academy Award. He only starred in three major motion pictures. Yet his name is synonymous with Hollywood and Cinema. James Dean bolted on the screen. His raw edge and quiet demeanour only mystified his fans and movie goers. He starred with some of the greatest names in Hollywood, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Rock Hudson, Mercedes McCambridge, Ann Doran, Raymond Massey, and Jo Van Fleet. He also starred with actors who themselves would become stars in their own right, such as Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Julie Harris, Carroll Baker, and Earl Holliman. Yet, James Dean is probably more recognized than any of those names.

His onscreen presence was powerful, and his abilities were unfortunately never fully realized. Off screen his life was also powerful, and full of energy with an air of mystery. Raised by an uncle and aunt after his mother’s death and estrangement from his father, Dean’s life was much like a Hollywood movie, or at least a made for TV movie. Many claim to have been a lover of James Dean, including both men and women. Very few really knew James Dean.

James Dean, he came in like a flight of a Phoenix and soon left leaving behind a trail that would last forever. Ironically his words seem so true for him; Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.

Favorite Actors of the 50’s ~ Marlon Brando ~ #2

April 25, 2007

Stella!!…in a role that made him a star, Marlon Brando gives a different dimension to Stanley and introduces method acting to Hollywood. He also looked really good in a sweaty t-shirt! This role that deserved an Oscar is maybe the best of his career. But he didn’t stop there, he went on in the 50’s to star in 10 more films and win his first Academy Award for his role in, On the Waterfront.

Brando was the first rebel and the first star to use method acting, one which was not seen or heard of prior to that. He became not just a star but a superstar and a legend. Throughout the 1950’s and his entire acting career, Marlon Brando was one of the truest actors to hit the screen.

Favorite Actors of the 50’s ~ Rock Hudson ~ #3

April 19, 2007

Giant. That was Rock Hudson. It was also the first film I recall seeing him in. Personally I didn’t like all the romantic comedy he starred in with Doris Day, but movies like, Giant, Magnificent Obsession, Never Say Goodbye, those were the movies I loved Rock in.

A huge name in the 50’s, Rock was a handsome, daring, rugged man’s man. Now we know underneath that rough manly exterior laid a raw, emotional battle against society and even Hollywood. Rock was one of the best talents of the fifties, but very overlooked and under-appreciated. Nominated only once for an Oscar in his role of Bick Benedict in Edna Furber’s movie rendition of Giant, Rock Hudson captured the screen in a way only Rock could.

Fav Actors of the 50’s ~ Paul Newman ~ #4

April 13, 2007

With the 1950’s came newcomer and heart throb, Paul Newman with his memorable blue eyes and cool laid back persona. His big screen debut, The Silver Chalice (1954) was nearly his last. He considered his performance in this costume epic to be so bad that he took out a full-page ad in a trade paper apologizing for it to anyone who might have seen it. But he went on to star as boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me, a role meant for James Dean, but went to Newman after Dean’s untimely death in 1955. When he took the role for Brick in the great Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Paul Newman became a Hollywood icon.

He was nominated for 9 Acting Academy Awards in 5 different decades, in the 50s (Best Lead Actor for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), in the 60s (Best Lead Actor for The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), and Cool Hand Luke (1967), in the 80s (Best Lead Actor for Absence of Malice (1981), The Verdict (1982), and The Color of Money (1986) winning for this last film), in the 90’s (Best Lead Actor for Nobody’s Fool (1994) and finally in 2002s Road to Perdition (2002) for Best Supporting Actor.

Paul Newman has become a Hollywood living legend, and still ruggedly handsome as he enters his 7th decade of life.

Fav Actors of the 50’s ~ Jimmy Stewart ~ #5

April 7, 2007

A true star and legend on the big screen. Jimmy Stewart was a huge star prior to the 50’s, and he continued to reign as Hollywood elite in the 1950’s. One of his best performances was Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in 1954.

Was named #3 on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends Actor list by the American Film Institute

Fav Actors of the 1950’s ~ Cary Grant ~ #6

April 2, 2007

Classic, charming, debonair, the perfect gentleman, and superb. These are the words that can only describe one legend in Hollywood and that would have to be Cary Grant. Already a star when the 1950’s began, Grant continued to be a huge box office draw in the 50’s, with roles such as; Monkey Business, To Catch a Thief, An Affair to Remember, and his now infamous role in one of the greatest Hitchcock films ever, North by Northwest.

One of the unknown little stories of Grant was that from 1933 onwards, he occasionally shared a house with Randolph Scott. There were many rumors about their relationship. Scott often referred to himself, jokingly, as Grant’s wife. Many studio heads threatened not to employ them unless they lived separately. Grant was married five times, Betty Drake, and Dyan Cannon, being two of his wives. His only child, Jennifer Grant with his fourth wife Dyan Cannon plays on CSI: Las Vegas as Sedona Wylie.

Ian Fleming modeled the James Bond character partially with Grant in mind, however when offered the role in the film Dr. No, he turned it down, as he felt at 58 he was too old to play Bond. Cary Grant continued to be name in Hollywood and the stage even after the 50’s and into the 70’s and 80’s when he died in 1986 prior to performing in his one man show “An Evening With Cary Grant” at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa, on November 28, 1986. Died later that night at St. Luke’s Hospital at 11:22 p.m.

Fav Actors of the 1950’s ~ Montgomery Clift ~ #7

March 28, 2007

I had my first glimpse of Montgomery Clift in the film, Suddenly Last Summer. I was hooked. He showed a man full of mystery and vulnerability that I personally could relate to, and I had never seen that in men on the big screen. I soon became a fan of Monty.

His most memorable role was probably that of Rudolph Peterson in Judgment at Nuremberg, but that was not released until the 60’s after an automobile accident had scarred his face and his psyche. My favorite role of Monty’s was in the 1957 film, Raintree County, when he falls in love with the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor character. In 1956, during filming of Raintree County (1957), he ran his Chevrolet into a tree after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s; it was she who saved him from choking by pulling out two teeth lodged in his throat. His smashed face was rebuilt.

Unfortunately, Monty was more like his character in Suddenly Last Summer. Confused, introverted and emotionally unstable. Like many of Elizabeth Taylor’s close friends, Monty struggled with his sexuality and his Hollywood persona and his life ended tragically and too quickly for this great screen star. After many years he reconciled with his estranged father, but he continued bedeviled by dependency on drugs and his unrelenting guilt over his homosexuality. On July 22, 1966, his companion Lorenzo James found him lying nude on top of his bed, dead from what the autopsy called “occlusive coronary artery disease.” His death was called the longest suicide in history by famed acting teacher, Robert Lewis.

Fav Actors of the 1950’s ~ Henry Fonda ~ #8

March 26, 2007

Henry Fonda had already gained fame, and fortune in Hollywood by the 1950’s, being one of the staple actors of the 1940’s in films like, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Grapes of Wrath, for which he won his first of two Academy Awards for Best Actor, My Darling Clementine and Fort Apache. He was a huge star in the US as well as in Europe by then.

The 1950’s didn’t slow Fonda down. He continued to star in over 10 more films in the decade of the 50’s including Mr. Roberts, and his Academy Award nominated role in 12 Angry Men. Fonda was named the #6 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends by the American Film Institute.

Fav Actors of the 1950’s ~ #9 ~ Yul Brynner

March 15, 2007

“So let it be written. So let it be done.”

With those words, Yul Brynner became a legend. As a child I had never saw the King and I, but I had seen the Ten Commandments every year and I became enthralled with the story of Moses and Ramses. Yul Brynner was Ramses II to me. He was also one of the first male stars that I became attracted to. Even though his character was evil and scheming, I thought he was what a real man should look like. While everyone else was making over Charlton Heston as Moses, my favorite was Yul Brynner.

He made an immediate impact upon launching his film career in 1956, after acting on stage and modeling in his early 20’s, even once posing nude for the famous photographer George Platt Lynes.

He appeared not only in the Ten Commandments that year but also the film version of the King and I after playing the role on Broadway. He walked away with the Oscar that year for Best Actor. Brynner, only 5’10”, was reportedly concerned about being overshadowed by Charlton Heston’s physical presence in the film The Ten Commandments, and prepared with an intensive weight-lifting program. But more than any other role he would later play he would be best remembered for the King of Siam.

Brynner died on October 10, 1985 at the age of 70 in New York City. The cause of death was lung cancer brought on by smoking. Throughout his life, Brynner was always seen with a cigarette in his hand. In January 1985, nine months before his death, he gave an interview on Good Morning America, expressing his desire to make an anti-smoking commercial. A clip from that interview was made into just such a public service announcement by the American Cancer Society, and released after his death; it includes the warning “Now that I’m gone, I tell you, don’t smoke.”

Fav Actors of the 1950’s – Charlton Heston – #10

March 10, 2007

Want to film a religious epic? In the 1950’s the man to get was Charlton Heston. He was Ben-Hur, and thanks to the airing every year of the Ten Commandments, he became Moses. As I kid I really thought he was Moses.

In 1950, Heston made his first film, Dark City. But his breakthrough came in 1952 with his role of a circus manager in The Greatest Show on Earth. But Heston became an icon by portraying Moses in The Ten Commandments, a part he was chosen for reportedly because director Cecil B. DeMille thought that he bore an uncanny resemblance to the statue of Moses by Michelangelo.

He continued to play leading roles in a number of fictional and historical epics through the 50’s and early 60’s—such as Ben-Hur, El Cid, and 55 Days at Peking. In the late 60’s into the 70’s he became a Sci-Fi movie star. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his 1959 performance in the title role of Ben-Hur, one of 11 earned by that film.

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