Jan 012015
 

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American leading man. Born Victor John Mature (to knife sharpener Marcellus George Mature, born Marcello Gelindo Maturi in Pinzolo, Trentino, and a Swiss-American mother, Clara Ackley) in Louisville, Kentucky, Victor Mature worked as a teenager with his father as a salesman for butcher supplies. Hoping to become an actor, he studied at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. He auditioned forGone with the Wind (1939) for the role ultimately played by his fellow Playhouse student, George Reeves. After achieving some acclaim in his first few films, he served in the Coast Guard in World War II. Mature became one of Hollywood’s busiest and most popular actors after the war, though rarely was he given the critical respect he often deserved. His roles in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine (1946) and in Henry Hathaway’s Kiss of Death (1947) were among his finest work, though he moved more and more frequently into more exotic roles in films like Samson and Delilah (1949) and The Egyptian(1954). Never an energetic actor nor one of great artistic pretensions, he nevertheless continued as a Hollywood stalwart both in programme and in more prominent films like The Robe (1953). More interested in golf than acting, his appearances diminished through the 1960s, but he made a stunning comeback of sorts in a hilarious romp as a very Victor Mature-like actor in Neil Simon’s After the Fox(1966). Golf eventually took over his activities and, after a cameo as Samson’s father in a TV remake of his own “Samson and Delilah” (Samson and Delilah (1984)), he retired for good. Rumors occasionally surfaced of another comeback, most notably in a never-realized remake of Red River (1948) withSylvester Stallone, but none came to fruition. He died of cancer at his Rancho Santa Fe, California, home in 1999.

Jan 012013
 

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Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in preparation for medical studies at Yale. He was expelled from Phillips and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve. From 1920 to 1922, he managed a stage company owned by family friend William A. Brady (the father of actress Alice Brady), performing a variety of tasks at Brady’s film studio in New York. He then began regular stage performances. Alexander Woollcott described his acting in a 1922 play as inadequate. In 1930, he gained a contract with Fox, his feature film debut in a ten-minute short, Broadway’s Like That (1930), co-starring Ruth Etting and Joan Blondell. Fox released him after two years. After five years of stage and minor film roles, he had his breakthrough role in The Petrified Forest (1936) from Warner Bros. He won the part over Edward G. Robinson only after the star, Leslie Howard, threatened Warner Bros. that he would quit unless Bogart was given the key role of Duke Mantee, which he had played in the Broadway production with Howard. The film was a major success and led to a long-term contract with Warner Bros. From 1936 to 1940, Bogart appeared in 28 films, usually as a gangster, twice in Westerns and even a horror film. His landmark year was 1941 (often capitalizing on parts George Raft had stupidly rejected) with roles in classics such as High Sierra (1941) and as Sam Spade in one of his most fondly remembered films, The Maltese Falcon (1941). These were followed by Casablanca (1942), The Big Sleep (1946), and Key Largo (1948). Bogart, despite his erratic education, was incredibly well-read and he favored writers and intellectuals within his small circle of friends. In 1947, he joined wife Lauren Bacall and other actors protesting the House Un-American Activities Committee witch hunts. He also formed his own production company, and the next year made The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Bogie won the best actor Academy Award for The African Queen (1951) and was nominated for Casablanca (1942) and as Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny(1954), a film made when he was already seriously ill. He died in his sleep at his Hollywood home following surgeries and a battle with throat cancer.

Jan 012010
 

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“You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh; the fundamental things apply, as time goes by…”. Anyone unfamiliar with this legendary movie lyric must either live in a well-insulated modern world or perhaps on Mars. The gentleman who crooned this tune for the morose Humphrey Bogart and moist-eyed Ingrid Bergman at Rick’s Cafe Americain amid the bleak WWII backdrop was none other than diminutive, 56-year-old Arthur “Dooley” Wilson, an African-American actor and singer who earned a comfortable niche for himself in film history with this simple, dramatic, piano-playing scene.

Dooley was born Arthur Wilson in Tyler, Texas. His exact year of birth was debated for years, listed in reference books as either 1886 or 1894. His grave marker, however, at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles gives the year 1886. At age 12 he performed in minstrel shows and later became a fixture in black theater in both Chicago and New York (circa 1908). He received the nickname “Dooley” while working in the Pekin Theatre in Chicago, because of his then-signature Irish song “Mr. Dooley,” which he usually performed in whiteface as an Irishman. In subsequent years Dooley displayed his musical skills in various forms. As a vaudevillian, drummer and jazz band leader, he entertained both here and in 1920s European tours (Paris, London, etc). From the 1930s to the 1950s he focused on theatrical musicals and occasional films.

Appearing in such diverse Broadway plays as the comedy “Conjur Man Dies (1936) and the melodrama “The Strangler Fig” (1940), along with various Federal Theater productions for Orson Welles and John Houseman. This exposure led directly to his signing on as a contract player with Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. He unfortunately began things off in demeaning typecasts as porters, chauffeurs and the like. Unhappy with his movie roles he was about to abandon Hollywood altogether when Paramount lent him out to Warner Bros. for the piano-playing role of Sam and the rest is history. In Casablanca (1942), Dooley immortalized the song “As Time Goes By” as boss and nightclub owner Rick Blaine (Bogart) and lost true love Ilsa Lund (Bergman) briefly rekindled an old romantic flame. While paid only $350 a week for his services, Dooley achieve his own immortality as well and that can’t be bought. Moreover, he was not a pianist in real life and was dubbed while fingering the keyboard. In addition to “As Time Goes By,” Dooley’s character did warm renditions of “It Had To Be You,” “Shine,” “Knock On Wood” and “Parlez-moi d’amour.”

Back on the live stage Dooley portrayed an escaped slave in the musical “Bloomer Girl” (1946) and, as a result, made another song famous, “The Eagle and Me,” which went on for inclusion in the Smithsonian recordings compilation “American Musical Theatre.” He graced approximately twenty other motion pictures in all, including the war-era musicals Stormy Weather (1943) and Higher and Higher (1943).

In his final season of performing (1952-1953) Dooley was a regular on the TV sitcom Beulah (1950) which starred Ethel Waters. He played the title maid’s boyfriend Bill Jackson and Dooley was the second of three actors who would play the role during its three-season run. Dooley died of natural causes on May 30, 1953, and was survived by wife, Estelle, who subsequently passed away in 1971.

https://youtu.be/zaAqze81y4Y