In The Spotlight Redux

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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Vecchiolarry
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Post by Vecchiolarry »

Hi Lynn,

Hope Emerson was, from what little I saw of her, a very kind and gracious lady.
At the "Copper Canyon" premier, she insisted on sitting at the back, so as not to block anyone's view. What selflessness!

I don't know if MacDonald Carey ever had anyone else pay as much attention to him as her. She thought he was 'a dish'....
He is kinda goodlooking, I guess.......

Larry
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mongoII
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Post by mongoII »

Larry, thanks for the recollections of Hope Emerson, one of my favorite character actresses. I expect that she was a gem.

By the way, Paulette Goddard was in 4 films with Macdonald Carey, one of which I feature in pictures on the TCM boards.
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mongoII
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Post by mongoII »

In the Spotlight: SANDRA DEE
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The sweet and bubbly actress was born Alexandria Cymboliak Zuck on April 23, 1942 to Mary Cimboliak, who was of Rusyn ancestry, and John Zuck, in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Her mother enrolled her in school early so she could have a head start. Sandy was only four years old when she entered the second grade. Sandra was an extremely pretty young lady, which enabled her to get into modeling.
She progressed to television commercials and then made her first film, "Until They Sail", in 1957. There is some confusion as to her actual birth year, with evidence pointing to both 1942 and 1944; this likely stems back to her mother's practice of misreporting her age.

In 1958 she won a Golden Globe Award for "Most Promising Newcomer" (along with Carolyn Jones and Diane Varsi). Her film career flourished, and she became known for her wholesome ingenue roles in such films as "Imitation of Life", "Gidget" and the young love movie "A Summer Place" with Troy Donahue (1959). The success of the theme song in "A Summer Place" became unforgettable to many young people.

Her attempts to replace Debbie Reynolds as Tammy in "Tammy Tell Me True" (1961) and "Tammy and the Doctor" (1963) were mostly unsuccessful as Hollywood thought that it was the script and not the actress that made the Tammy character.
She also appeared in, "The Reluctant Debutante", "A Stranger in My Arms" with June Allyson, "The Wild and the Innocent", "Potait in Black", "Come September", "If a Man Answers", "Take Her, She's Mine", "That Funny Feeling", "The Dunwich Horror", etc.

Her marriage in 1960 to singer/actor Bobby Darin kept her in the public eye for much of the decade. She was contracted to Universal Studios, who tried to develop Dee as a mature actress, and the films she made as an adult--including a few with Darin--were moderately successful. They had one son together, who took the name Dodd Mitchell Darin, but in 1967 she and Darin were divorced.

During the 1970s she took very few acting roles, but made occasional television appearances. Her 1950s persona was the inspiration for the song "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee", featured in the 1972 Broadway musical "Grease", and the 1978 film version.

To the delight of her fans, she resurfaced briefly after two decades of seclusion and was warmly embraced at Beverly Hill's Canon Theatre in a stage production of "Love Letters" with her "The Restless Years" (1958) film co-star John Saxon.

Reportedly sexually abused as a child by her stepfather, Dee's adult years were marked by ill health. She admitted that for most of her life she battled anorexia nervosa, depression and alcoholism.
In 2000, it was reported that she had been diagnosed with throat cancer and renal disease, but it later appeared that the throat scare was unfounded.
Complications from the kidney failure combined with a bout of pneumonia, led to her death on February 20, 2005 at age 62, in Thousand Oaks, California. She is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills.

At the time of her death, she was survived by her son Dodd and two granddaughters, Alexa and Olivia Darin.

In 1994, Dodd wrote a book about his parents, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee, in which he chronicled his mother's anorexia, drug and alcohol problems.

She received renewed attention after the release of the movie "Beyond the Sea" (2004), the biopic about her late husband Bobby Darin that recalled and detailed their stormy, headline marriage. Despite its painful aspects, she reportedly approved of the project and gave it her blessing.
Last edited by mongoII on October 12th, 2007, 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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mrsl
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Post by mrsl »

Another Judy Garland type studio/stage mother by-product. I always felt sorry for Sandra Dee. Her studio, agent, and mother seemed to do the same with her that Debbie Reynolds' did - kept her playing older teens while in her 20's, rather than letter her grow up. Besides the drinking part, marrying Bobby was probably the worst thing she could have done. She lived for him instead of herself. Actually I thought she made a great Tammy - much better than the girls who followed her in the Gidget role.

Sandra was never a great actress, but if she had been lucky enough to find a director who believed in her, she may have gone on to much better things, and her life probably would have been much better.

Anne
Anne


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* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

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jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

I am of the generation that Dee's movies were made for. I never cared much for the artificially sweet girls in many of those films, but I always liked Sandra Dee. I thought, and still do think, that she was very good in her genre of films, even if the films themselves weren't so wonderful. She is one of those actresses for whom the word "luminous" very often applied. I don't think she had the right directors often enough -- most simply did not do her justice.

I especially liked her in Gidget -- I think she captured the character perfectly. I saw it again recently after many decades, and I still enjoyed her performance.

The backstory of her unhappy life, so typical, is nevertheless tragic. I remember seeing her a few years ago on some morning show, with her son. She looked so ravaged, ill, and "hard," that it broke my heart.
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Moraldo Rubini
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Summer Place

Post by Moraldo Rubini »

A few years ago I went to a revival of A Summer Place with both Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue making personal appearances. Producer Marc Huestis puts together a lot of these revivals in San Francisco and brings the original stars to the stage for interviews. Unfortunately, this particular occassion was very uncomfortable. Miss Dee was not in good shape and her interview was often awkward. Mr. Donahue was like her knight in shining armor though. He was very protective of her, picking up the interview when she'd falter and really helping her out. It was very touching to see.
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mongoII
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Post by mongoII »

Moraldo, thanks for sharing that recollection with us. I also noticed a similar situation when Dee appeared on a TV talk show with co-star James Darren. Knowing how fragile she was I get the feeling that the guys watched over her like she was a litle sister.
Vecchiolarry
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Post by Vecchiolarry »

Hi,

I'm glad to hear that there are still gentlemen, and caring ones at that, in Hollywood yet.....

I remember when James Darren got married to Evy Norlund and what a beautiful couple they made. She was a blonde from Denmark (sort of a precursor to Brigitte Nielsen). He was dark and she was blonde. Beautiful together!!!!
Are James Darren and Evy still alive?

Also, I remember Troy Donahue and Susanne Pleshette were married for about 5 minutes. They were opposite - him blonde and her dark; maybe that's why they didn't stay together long!!
I know Susanne is still alive but I seem to recall that Troy died some years ago???

Larry
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mongoII
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Post by mongoII »

Larry, the good news is that both Evy at 69 and Darren at 71 are both alive and have been married since 1960 (2 sons). Darren also has another son from his first marriage.

Troy Donahue past away in 2001 at age 65.
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Lzcutter
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Post by Lzcutter »

Larry,

Suzanne Pleshette is still alive. Tom Poston, who recently passed, was her most recent husband.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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precoder
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Post by precoder »

WoW ... If it doesn't look too awkward, I'd like to jump in here and say simply that this is a great thread. Very impressively written short-bios on so many stars I knew little about ...

MongoII, I commend you ...

It's also a really great idea and well arranged for a thread ... Bravo ...
I absolutely adore movies. Even bad ones. I don't like pretentious ones, but a good bad movie, you must admit, is great. ~ Roddy McDowell
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mongoII
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Post by mongoII »

Thank you, precoder. I appreciate your comments and I'm glad that you enjoy the profiles.
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knitwit45
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Post by knitwit45 »

John, LOVE your new avatar. What movie is this from? Dorothy Malone is one of my favorite ladies of the movies, and Guy Madison was a childhood crush.

Nancy

Boy am I a goof! I meant McGuire, not Malone....ah, well, age catches up to all of us...
Last edited by knitwit45 on August 13th, 2007, 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference." ~ Virginia Satir
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mongoII
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Post by mongoII »

In the Spotlight: Grant Williams
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The actor was born Grant John Williams in New York on August 18, 1931 (some sources cite 1930), and began acting in summer stock while still a child.
After graduating from high school, Williams enlisted in the Air Force. After completing his stint, Williams returned home to New York, where he began acting lessons with Lee Strasberg and enrolled in college courses.

He played the piano and Was a professional singer and sang for five seasons with the New York Opera and can also be on heard on recordings of the Robert Shaw Chorale.

By 1953 he was bitten by the acting bug and he took on small roles in broadway shows such as "Late Arrival", but these plays were largely unsuccessful. He had more luck doing television work in New York on the shows "Climax" and "Kraft Television Theatre", which were usually broadcast live. A talent scout spotted Williams for films during his first appearance on Kraft Theatre in 1954.

In 1956, Williams signed with Universal-International and made his film debut in the western "Red Sundown" with Rory Calhoun. Although Williams made several westerns during his career, his horror films are best remembered today. His horror features for Universal include the cult classics "The Monolith Monsters" (1957; with Lola Albright); "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957) In his best role, director Jack Arnold said that Williams gave an Oscar-worthy performance because, in many special-effects scenes, he could only imagine his surroundings and his fellow actors, and "The Leech Woman" (1960; with Coleen Gray and Gloria Talbott).
Other films include, "Away All Boats", "Written on the Wind" as the gas-station stud who takes up with Dorothy Malone, "Four Girls in Town" with Julie Adams, "Lone Texan", "13 Fighting Men", and "The Doomsday Machine".

When Grant Williams' contract with Universal-International lapsed in 1959, he inked a deal with Warner Bros. to act in the studio's films and television series. His first assignment came when he was added to the cast of the TV series "Hawaiian Eye" in December 1960 in the role of Greg McKenzie. Other actors in the cast included Connie Stevens, Anthony Eisley, Robert Conrad, and Troy Donahue.

Before being cast in "Hawaiian Eye", Grant Williams shot a pilot for a proposed NBC-TV western series titled "The Iron Horseman" along with co-star Barry Kelley. However, with the explosion of TV westerns beginning to fade, NBC pulled the plug on this series before the debut of the 1960-1961 season.
Warner Bros. cast Williams in several films, including "Susan Slade" (1961 with Connie Stevens and Troy Donahue); "The Couch" (1962 with Shirley Knight); and "PT 109" (1963 with Cliff Robertson and Ty Hardin). But when his Warner Bros. contract lapsed in 1963, Williams' career took an inexplicable slide.
By 1966 Grant Williams's career had faded away, but in the late 1960s, he attempted to make a comeback on television. However, after a bitter disagreement with Jack Webb during the shooting of a 1969 "Dragnet" episode, Williams walked away from television.
He resurfaced again in the early 1970s with a couple of ultra-low-budget exploitation flicks, "How's Your Love Life?" (1971; with Mary Beth Hughes) and "Brain of Blood" (1972; with Kent Taylor).

In the mid 1970s, Grant Williams started an acting school in West Hollywood and settled into the life of an acting coach, but he never accepted another film or television role.
His last appearance on television was on the game show "Family Feud" in 1983 with selected cast members from "Hawaiian Eye".

The lifelong bachelor died in 1985 from an acute infection (peritonitis) at age 53. He is interred at Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA
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