Friday, August 26, 2011

Charles Coburn
(June 19, 1877 - August 30, 1961)

American actor Charles Coburn had already put in nearly forty years as a stage actor, producer, and director (specializing in Shakespeare) before making his screen debut at age 61 in "Of Human Hearts" in 1938. At home in any kind of film, Coburn was most popular in comedies and in 1943 won an Academy Award for his role in "The More the Merrier" as the bombastic but likable business executive forced by the wartime housing shortage to share a Washington D.C. apartment with Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea. Coburn continued playing variations on his elderly scalawag character throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, most notably as Marilyn Monroe's sugar daddy in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" in 1953. The actor also kept busy on stage, touring with the Theatre Guild as Falstaff in "Merry Wives of Windsor" and supervising the annual Mohawk Drama Festival at Schenectady's Union College, which he'd founded in 1934. Moving into television work with the enthusiasm of a novice, the octogenarian Coburn continued acting right up to his death. Coburn's last appearance, one week before his passing, was as Grandpa Vanderhoff in an Indianapolis summer-stock production of "You Can't Take It With You".


Of Human Hearts (1938)
Vivacious Lady (1938)
Bachelor Mother (1939)
Idiot's Delight (1939)
In Name Only (1939)
Made for Each Other (1939)
Stanley and Livingstone (1939)
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)
Edison, the Man (1940)
Kings Row (1941)
The Lady Eve (1941)
George Washington Slept Here (1942)
In This Our Life (1942)
The More the Merrier (1943)
Wilson (1944)
Rhapsody in Blue (1945)
Colonel Effingham's Raid (1946)
Lured (1947)
The Paradine Case (1948)
Impact (1949)
Mr. Music (1950)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Trouble Along the Way (1953)
The Long Wait (1954)
How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955)
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Town on Trial (1957)
The Story of Mankind (1957)
How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1958)
John Paul Jones (1959)
Stranger in My Arms (1959)
The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959)
Pepe (1960)

Sydney Greenstreet
(December 27, 1879 - January 18, 1954)

Sydney Greenstreet ranked among Hollywood's consummate character actors, a classic rogue whose villainous turns in motion pictures like "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon" remain among the most memorable and enigmatic depictions of evil ever captured on film. Born December 27, 1879, in Sandwich, England, Greenstreet's initial ambition was to make his fortune as a tea planter and toward that aim he moved to Sri Lanka at the age of 18. A drought left him penniless, however, and he soon returned to England where he worked a variety of odd jobs while studying acting in the evening under Ben Greet. In 1902 he made his theatrical debut portraying a murderer in "Sherlock Holmes" and two years later he traveled with Greet to the United States. After making his Broadway debut in "Everyman", Greenstreet's American residency continued for the rest of his life. Greenstreet remained exclusively a theatrical performer for over three decades. He shifted easily from musical comedy to Shakespeare and in 1933 he joined the Lunts in "Idiot's Delight", performing with their Theatre Guild for the duration of the decade. While appearing in Los Angeles in a touring production of "There Shall Be No Night" in 1940, Greenstreet met John Huston who requested he play the ruthless Guttman in his 1941 film adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon". A heavy, imposing man, Greenstreet was perfectly cast as the massive yet strangely effete Guttman, a dignified dandy who was in truth the very essence of malevolence. Making his film debut at the age of 62, he appeared alongside the two actors with whom he would be forever connected, star Humphrey Bogart and fellow character actor Peter Lorre. The acclaim afforded Greenstreet for "The Maltese Falcon" earned him a long-term contract with Warner Brothers, where, after appearing in "They Died With Their Boots On", he again played opposite Bogart in 1942's "Across the Pacific". In 1942 he appeared briefly in "Casablanca", another reunion with Bogart as well as Lorre. When Greenstreet and Lorre again re-teamed in 1943's "Background in Danger" their fate was sealed and they appeared together numerous other times including 1944's "Passage to Marseilles" (again with Bogart), "The Mask of Dimitrios", "The Conspirators", and "Hollywood Canteen", in which they portrayed themselves. Yearning to play comedy, Greenstreet got his wish in 1945's "Pillow to Post" which cast him alongside Ida Lupino. He also appeared opposite Bogart again in the drama "Conflict" and with Barbara Stanwyck in "Christmas in Connecticut". In 1952, Sydney Greenstreet retired from films.He died two years later on January 18, 1954.


The Maltese Falcon (1941)
They Died with Their Boots On (1941)
Across the Pacific (1942)
Casablanca (1942)
Background to Danger (1943)
Between Two Worlds (1944)
Hollywood Canteen (1944)
Passage to Marseille (1944)
The Conspirators (1944)
The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Conflict (1945)
Devotion (1945)
Pillow to Post (1945)
The Verdict (1946)
Three Strangers (1946)
That Way with Women (1947)
The Hucksters (1947)
Ruthless (1948)
The Velvet Touch (1948)
The Woman in White (1948)
Flamingo Road (1949)
It's a Great Feeling (1949)
Malaya (1949)

Edgar Buchanan
(March 30, 1903 - April 4, 1979)

Intending to become a dentist like his father, American character actor Edgar Buchanan wound up with grades so bad in college that he was compelled to take an easy course to improve his average. Buchanan chose a course in play interpretation and after listening to a few recitations of Shakespeare he was stagestruck. After completing dental school, Buchanan plied his oral surgery skills in the summertime, devoting the fall, winter and spring months to acting in stock companies and at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. He was given a screen test by Warner Brothers Studios in 1940, received several bit roles, then worked himself up to supporting parts upon transferring to Columbia Pictures. Though still comparatively youthful, Buchanan specialized in grizzled old westerners, with a propensity towards villainy or at least larceny. The actor worked at every major studio over the next few years, still holding onto his dentist's license just in case he needed something to fall back on. Though he preferred movie work to the hurried pace of TV filming, Buchanan was quite busy in television's first decade, costarring with William Boyd on the immensely popular "Hopalong Cassidy" series, then receiving a starring series of his own, "Judge Roy Bean", in 1954. Buchanan became an international success in 1963 thanks to his regular role as the lovably lazy Uncle Joe Bradley on the classic sitcom "Petticoat Junction", which ran until 1970. After that, the actor experienced a considerably shorter run on the adventure series "Cade's County", which starred Buchanan's close friend Glenn Ford. Buchanan's last movie role was in "Benji" in 1974.


My Son is Guilty (1939)
Too Many Husbands (1940)
Arizona (1940)
Texas (1941)
The Talk of the Town (1942)
Destroyer (1943)
Abilene Town (1946)
Framed (1947)
The Black Arrow (1948)
The Man From Colorado (1949)
The Big Hangover (1950)
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Rawhide (1951)
Shane (1953)
She Couldn't Say No (1954)
Make Haste to Live (1954)
Human Desire (1954)
Destry (1954)
Wichita (1955)
Rage at Dawn (1955)
Come Next Spring (1956)
The Sheepman (1958)
The Devil's Partner (1958)
Day of the Badman (1958)
It Started With a Kiss (1959)
Hound Dog Man (1959)
Edge of Eternity (1959)
Cimarron (1960)
The Comancheros (1961)
Tammy Tell Me True (1961)
Ride the High Country (1962)
A Ticklish Affair (1963)
Move Over, Darling (1963)
McLintock! (1963)
The Rounders (1965)
Welcome to Hard Times (1967)
Angel in My Pocket (1968)
Benji (1974)

Madge Blake
(May 31, 1899 - February 19, 1969)

Madge Blake was an American character actress best remembered for her role as Aunt Harriet Cooper on "Batman" from 1966-1968. Madge Blake's father, Albert Cummings, was a Methodist who discouraged her entry into acting. As such, she stayed out of acting until later in life. During World War II, she and her husband worked in Utah on construction of the detonator for the atomic bomb and performed such jobs as testing equipment destined for the Manhattan Project. Though she was five years his senior, she was a niece of actor Milburn Stone (Doc Adams on "Gunsmoke"). She took advantage of his influence to help her land acting roles. In the middle 1950s, she appeared on Rod Cameron's "City Detective" crime drama and in Ray Milland's sitcom, "Meet Mr. McNutley", renamed in the second season as "The Ray Milland Show". Blake also appeared in four episodes of the NBC sitcom "It's a Great Life", which aired from 1954-1956. In addition to her "Batman" role, Blake portrayed the baffled Margaret Mondello, mother of Larry Mondello (played by Rusty Stevens) on "Leave it to Beaver" in 1957, gushy gossip columnist Dora Bailey in "Singin' in the Rain" in 1952, and was a model for one of the fairies in Disney's animated version of "Sleeping Beauty" in 1959. In 1961, she guest starred in the episode "A View of Murder" of the crime drama "The Brothers Brannagan". Blake portrayed the role of Flora McMichael, a romantic interest to Walter Brennan's Grandpa Amos McCoy in "The Real McCoys", a popular 1950s and 1960s situation comedy about a West Virginia mountain family that relocated to southern California. Prior to her role in "Batman", she appeared in the pilot episode of "The Addams Family" (broadcast in the U.S in September 1964) as Miss Comstock, an official from the Addams' children's school. Blake also appeared in a memorable episode of "I Love Lucy" in 1957 with George Reeves guest-starring as Superman. Declining health saw her role as Aunt Harriet reduced, and with the introduction of Batgirl in the third and final season of "Batman", she only appeared in two episodes that season as a guest role. She was admitted to a hospital after falling at home and fracturing her ankle. She died in 1969 at the age of 69 in the hospital from a heart attack, not long after Batman was cancelled.


Singin in the Rain (1952)
The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
Rhapsody (1954)
Fireman Save My Child (1954)
The Tender Trap (1955)
It s Always Fair Weather (1955)
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)
Loving You (1957)
Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)
Sergeants 3 (1962)
Follow Me, Boys! (1966)
Batman: The Movie (1966)


Born in New York City on August 26, 1980, actor Macaulay Culkin is 31 years old today.