Category Archives: Births

A Star is Born – Sean Penn

1960 was a good year for the movies. In the next few days I will be sharing some of my favorites and some of the worst of my own birth year, 1960.

1960 was a good year for the future of movies as well. Many of today’s stars were born in 1960. Some of them are more well known than others, and some are well, just a little more talented that others. But one of our most talented stars to enter the world in 1960 was …

Sean Penn

Sean Justin Penn was born August 17, 1960 in Santa Monica, California. Sean Penn is the second son of actress Eileen Ryan & director Leo Penn. After a few TV roles his first film was the acclaimed 1981 film Taps, where he palyed Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer. In 1982, he played the role that brought him to the attention of audiences nationwide (whether it was good or bad) as a surfer dude who is said in the film to have been high since the third grade. His performance as “Jeff Spicoli” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) is ranked #9 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. He went on during he 80’s with some films such as Falcon and the Snowman, Colors and We’re no Angels. One day prior to his 25th birthday he married the pop icon, Madonna, on August 16, 1985. They were married for four years, divorcing in September of 1989. In 1996 he married actress Robin Wright, with whom had had two children.
During the 1990’s, Sean continued to shine, and reach acclaim with the Academy in his role of Matthew Poncelet, Death Row inmate pleading with a caring nun played by Susan Sarandon(Who one the Oscar for best Actress for her role) to save his life in Dead Man Walking. In 2003 he won the first of two Best Actor Oscars for his role of Jimmy Markum in Clint Eastwood’s Best Picture winner, Mystic River. His charecter is an ex-con whose daughter is murdered. His second Best Actor Oscar came in 2008 for his role in Milk, the story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected officail, and was later assasinated by a disgruntled former employee.
Sean continues to be avoice to reckon with in Hollywood, as an actor, director and activist. His upcoming roles are that of gangster Mickey Cohen in Gangster Squad and is rumored to be starring in a remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in 1960, 60's, A Star is Born, Actors, Biography, Births


Jimmy Stewart ~ 100

From the beginning of James Stewart’s career in 1935 through his final theatrical project in 1991, he appeared in over 100 films, television programs and shorts. Through the course of this illustrious career, he appeared in many landmark and critically acclaimed films, including such classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Spirit of St. Louis and Vertigo. His roles in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey, and Anatomy of a Murder earned him Academy Award nominations (he won for Philadelphia Story). Stewart’s career defied the boundaries of genre and trend, and he made his mark in screwball comedies, suspense thrillers, westerns, biographies and family films.

Born May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, James Maitland Stewart was the son of Elizabeth Ruth (née Jackson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. James, who was to take over the family business attended Princeton University and was a college friend of Henry Fonda.  The two would be life long friends. 

President Harry S. Truman once stated that “If Bess and I ever had a son, we would have wanted him to be just like Jimmy Stewart.” One of the best loved actors of his generation within the Hollywood community and with his fans, Jimmy Stewart had the guy next door ability to pull you in.  His “Aww shucks” way of life was just that. he wasn’t acting, that WAS Jimmy Stewart.

Some of his romantic liasons early in his career were Ginger Rogers and Norma Shearer.  He remained single until the age of 41, marrying former model Gloria Hatrick McLean (1918-1994) on 9 August 1949. As Stewart loved to recount in self-mockery, “I, I, I pitched the big question to her last night and to my surprise she, she, she said yes!”. Stewart adopted her two sons, Michael and Ronald, and together they had twin daughters, Judy and Kelly, on 7 May 1951. They remained devotedly married until her death on 16 February 1994, due to lung cancer.

Stewart died at the age of 89 on 2 July 1997, at his home in Beverly Hills, of cardiac arrest and a pulmonary embolism following a long illness from respiratory problems. He had also suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. His death came just one day after fellow screen legend and The Big Sleepco-star Robert Mitchum had died of lung cancer and emphysema. Stewart is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

“America lost a national treasure today,” President Bill Clinton said on the day Stewart died. “Jimmy Stewart was a great actor, a gentleman and a patriot.”


Posted by on May 20, 2008 in Births, Classic Men in Cinema


Happy Birthday Bette Davis ~ 100

Ruth Elizabeth Davis, better known as Bette, was born 100 years ago today. In her 81 years on Earth, she accumulated more than 100 film and television roles, 10 Oscar nominations, four husbands, two Oscars, one Emmy and lots of enemies. Her career began with The Bad Sister and ended 68 years later with a Wicked Stepmother. She appeared in melodramas, horror pictures, gangster movies, women’s weepies, Disney flicks, the occasional comedy, and my favorite movie of all time. She was the first female president of AMPAS.

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Posted by on April 5, 2008 in Births


Happy Birthday Judy

June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Frances Gumm was born into the vaudeville family of Frank and Ethel Gumm. The Gumms who already had name in the vaudevillian circuit with their older daughters soon added little Frances to their shows at the age of 2, in the dance act entitled ‘The Gumm Sisters’, which included her two older sisters Mary Jane Gumm and Virginia Gumm.

It was only when she repeatedly sang ‘Jingle Bells’ and had to be dragged off the stage kicking and screaming by her maternal grandmother Eva Milne that her mother Ethel could see her youngest daughter was going to be the biggest star. Baby Frances’ childhood was extremely unhappy as she spent most of it on the road with her mother and sisters looking for nightclubs and hotels to perform in, often living out of their rented automobile. In 1927, Baby Frances and her family moved to Lancaster, California having been run out of Grand Rapids due to her father’s homosexuality and sexual advances on teenage boys.

In 1932, Baby Frances left Lancaster and her father behind for a new life in Los Angeles with her mother and sisters where, yet again, there were practically living out of their automobile. Eventually in 1933 her father joined them and in September 1935, Frances signed a contract with leading film studio MGM at the age of 13 after singing before movie mogul Louis B. Mayer. She changed her name to Judy Garland, her surname after film critic Robert Garland and her first name after the song ‘Judy’. And from there as they say, it’s History!

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Posted by on June 10, 2007 in Births


John Wayne at 100

Today marks the centennial anniversary of the birth of Hollywood’s best known cowboy.

Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, but his name was changed to Marion Michael Morrison when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. His family was Presbyterian; father Clyde Leonard Morrison was of Irish and Scottish descent and the son of an American Civil War veteran, while mother Mary Alberta Brown was of Irish descent.

Wayne’s family moved to Palmdale, California, and then Glendale, California, in 1911, where his father worked as a pharmacist in a drug store. It was local firemen at the firehouse that was on his route to school in Glendale who started calling him “Little Duke,” because he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier dog, Duke. He preferred “Duke” to “Marion,” and the name stuck for the rest of his life.

As a teen, Wayne worked in an ice cream shop for a person who shoed horses for local Hollywood studios. He was also active as a member of the Order of DeMolay, a youth organization associated with the Freemasons, that he joined when he came of age. He attended Wilson Middle School in Glendale. He played football for the 1924 champion Glendale High School team.
Wayne applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, but was not accepted. He instead attended the University of Southern California (USC), majoring in pre-law. He was a member of the Trojan Knights and joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. Wayne also played on the USC football team under legendary coach Howard Jones. An injury curtailed his athletic career.

After two years working as a prop man at the Fox Film Corporation for $75 a week, his first starring role was in the 1930 movie The Big Trail. The first western epic sound motion picture established his screen credentials, although it was a commercial failure. The director Raoul Walsh, who “discovered” Wayne, suggested giving him the stage name “Anthony Wayne,” after Revolutionary War general “Mad Anthony” Wayne. Fox Studios chief Winfield Sheehan rejected “Anthony Wayne” as sounding “too Italian.” Walsh then suggested “John Wayne.” Sheehan agreed and the name was set. Wayne himself was not even present for the discussion. His pay was raised to $105 a week.

Wayne continued making westerns, most notably at Monogram Pictures, and serials for Mascot Pictures Corporation, including The Three Musketeers (1933), a French Foreign Legion tale with no resemblance to the novel which inspired its title. He was tutored by stuntmen in riding and other western skills. He and famed stuntman Yakima Canutt developed and perfected stunts still used today.
Beginning in 1928 and extending over the next 35 years, Wayne appeared in more than twenty of John Ford’s films, including Stagecoach (1939), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), The Wings of Eagles (1957), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). His performance in Stagecoach made him a star.

John Wayne rose beyond the typical recognition for a famous actor to that of an enduring icon who symbolized and communicated American values and ideals. By the middle of his career, Wayne had developed a larger-than-life image, and as his career progressed, he selected roles that would not compromise his off-screen image. By the time of his last film The Shootist (1976), Wayne refused to allow his character to shoot a man in the back as was originally scripted.
Wayne’s rise to being the quintessential movie war hero began to take shape four years after World War II when Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) was released. His footprints at Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood were laid in cement that contained sand from Iwo Jima.[30] His status grew so large and legendary that when Japanese Emperor Hirohito visited the United States in 1975, he asked to meet John Wayne, the symbolic representation of his country’s former enemy.

He epitomized ruggedly individualistic masculinity, and has become an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive voice, walk and height.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne thirteenth among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. A Harris Poll released in 2007 placed Wayne third among America’s favorite film stars, the only deceased star on the list and the only one who has appeared on the poll every year. Happy Birthday Mr. Wayne

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Posted by on May 26, 2007 in Actors, Births, Classic Men in Cinema


A Rock is Born

Roy Harold Scherer-later known as Rock Hudson-is born in Winnetka, Illinois, on November 17, 1925.

As a child, Hudson auditioned for school plays but never landed a role. Later, he worked as a navy mechanic and a truck driver, then pursued an acting career after World War II. After extensive grooming, which included acting, dancing, and fencing lessons, Hudson became a leading actor with Universal. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he frequently starred in action films and melodramas, including The Desert Hawk (1950) and The Iron Man (1951).

Later, he shone in comedies like Pillow Talk (1959), the first of his three pictures with Doris Day. He later worked in television, starring in the series McMillan and Wife from 1971 to 1977 and appearing in Dynasty in 1984 and 1985. Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, at the age of 59. As one of the first major celebrities to admit to having AIDS, Hudson boosted awareness about the epidemic.
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Posted by on November 17, 2006 in Actors, Births, Hollywood Trivia