Archive for Actors

Ava Gardner

Posted in Sunset Memorial Park with tags , on June 20, 2022 by Cade

December 24, 1922 – January 25, 1990

“She can’t sing, she can’t act, she can’t talk, she’s terrific!”
– Louis B. Mayer

In 1946, movie audiences were properly introduced to Hollywood’s newest femme fatale when Robert Siodmak’s The Killers opened. The film noir classic was the screen debut of Burt Lancaster…and it was the first time audiences really got to see and know Ava Gardner.

Discovered by a peripheral MGM talent scout thanks to her portrait being displayed in a New York City photo studio window, young Ava – who had never even thought about acting – suddenly found herself with a contract in hand in Los Angeles. She learned her trade with bit parts at MGM and worked with acting and dialect coaches to overcome her heavy North Carolina drawl. Five years of toiling in dozens of pictures and improving her talents finally led to a leading role in The Killers and audiences loved her.

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Paul Robeson

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , , on February 7, 2022 by Cade

April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976

Paul Leroy Robeson was a staggeringly talented singer and performer. His definitive baritone voice led to landmark performances in New York, London and around the world. He starred notably in original Broadway productions of All God’s Chillun Got Wings and The Emperor Jones (both by Eugene O’Neill) and appeared in 4 different versions of Jerome Kern‘s quintessential hit, Show Boat, including the 1936 film version, which made famous his rendition of “Ol’ Man River.” Continue reading

Kitty Carlisle

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on January 31, 2022 by Cade

carlisle1September 3, 1910 – April 17, 2007

If Kitty Carlisle’s legacy can’t be measured in quantity, it certainly can be measured in longevity. Her career spanned more than 70 years. The actress and singer spent her youth traipsing around Europe with her mother looking for a prince to marry. While she never found Prince Charming, she did get the chance to study at some of the top schools in Europe such as the Sorbonne in Paris and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Her return to the U.S. led to Broadway where she would appear in shows in 7 different decades. Continue reading

Judy Tyler

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on January 10, 2022 by Cade

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October 9, 1932 – July 3, 1957

On June 17, 1957, filming wrapped on Elvis Presley‘s new movie, Jailhouse Rock. Two weeks later, his young costar – an up-and-coming actress named Judy Tyler – was dead.

Tyler was born and raised in the New York City area. Encouraged by many in her entertainment-rich family, she began acting as a teen. She made regular appearances on the popular Howdy Doody television show and found work on Broadway. In 1955, she landed a starring role in Pipe Dream, a new musical from Broadway legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Continue reading

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on December 6, 2021 by Cade

December 18, 1917 – February 4, 2005
October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014

Raiford Chatman “Ossie” Davis was an actor, writer, director and activist whose career charged across the stage and screen through the turbulent middle half of the American 20th Century. Along with contemporaries like Sidney Poitier and Melvin Van Peeples, Davis forever altered how black artists approached their roles and the stories they told.

Ruby Ann Wallace was an actress, poet, writer, journalist and activist whose seven decade career garnered a Drama Desk award, an Emmy, an Obie, a Screen Actors Guild award, and a Grammy. She was nominated for a Academy Award for her performance in the 2007 film American Gangster.

In 1946, Davis and Dee met on the Broadway production of Jeb. They were married shortly thereafter and their partnership would become legendary. Continue reading

Basil Rathbone

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on November 29, 2021 by Cade

June 13, 1892 – July 21, 1967

Philip St. John Basil Rathbone was an English actor and accomplished performer and is most widely known for starring as Sherlock Holmes in a string of successful movies and radio shows about the legendary detective in the 1940s. Born in South Africa, his family moved back to Britain when he was young. His first appearance on stage was in a 1911 production of Shakespeare‘s The Taming of the Shrew. This started a career that saw him become one of the most accomplished Shakespearian actors of his time. Service in World War I; however, would pause that career briefly. Continue reading

Lucille Ball

Posted in Lake View Cemetery Association with tags , on October 4, 2021 by Cade

August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989

Arguably the most famous comedic actress of all time, Lucille Ball was a mainstay at the top of the television mountain for decades. The model-turned-actor started her groundbreaking run in 1951 when she and her husband, bandleader, Desi Arnaz, created and starred in the now-classic sitcom, I Love Lucy. Lucy ran for 6 seasons and became the standard blueprint for sitcoms for generations to follow. Continue reading

Bernie Mac

Posted in Washington Memory Gardens with tags , , on September 20, 2021 by Cade

October 5, 1957 – August 9, 2008

Bernie Mac was a comedian and actor who rose to fame in the late 1990s and was a staple in American movies and television throughout the 2000s. Bernard McCullough was born in Chicago and grew up idolizing comedians like Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor. He began his stand-up career in the Cotton Club in his hometown and immediately starting getting noticed for his fearless performances. In 1990, he won a comedy contest that led to an appearance on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and by the mid-90s, he was appearing in movies like House Party 3 and Friday. In 2000, he was featured alongside Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and D.L. Hughley in Spike Lee’s massive hit, The Original Kings of Comedy. Continue reading

Maureen O’Hara

Posted in Arlington National Cemetery with tags , on July 26, 2021 by Cade

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August 17, 1920 – October 24, 2015

Maureen O’Hara is perhaps the most famous Irish actress of all time. Her expressive face and flaming auburn hair earned her the nickname “The Queen of Technicolor.” Bitten by the performing bug at a very young age, Maureen (born FitzSimons) studied drama, music and dance in Ireland throughout her youth. At 17, she was discovered in a stage production and invited to screen test in London by actor/director Charles Laughton. Despite her youth and her unhappiness with the screen test process, she signed a contract with Laughton and his new Mayflower Pictures. O’Hara’s career in London started slowly. Her most notable early appearance was in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn alongside Laughton. Her performance drew attention, though, and soon she was on a ship across the Atlantic with Laughton and her mother to begin filming with RKO Pictures on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Continue reading

Charles Durning

Posted in Arlington National Cemetery with tags , on July 5, 2021 by Cade

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February 28, 1923 – December 24, 2012

Charles Durning’s 50 year acting career covered all the bases. He got his start somewhat unexpectedly when – working as an usher in New York – he filled in for an incapacitated actor. Durning went on to appear in dozens of Broadway shows and eventually made his way into the film industry. In the 1970s, he appeared in classic films like The Sting, Dog Day Afternoon and The Muppet Movie. Television appearances followed as well as more movies. He notably co-starred in a couple of Coen Brothers’ movies and could be counted on to play Santa Claus whenever needed. Continue reading