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Before Hollywood

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

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Before Hollywood

Postby moira finnie » May 19th, 2015, 3:15 pm

Before Hollywood-A New Feature focusing on Actors of the Studio Era before Hollywood smoothed out, plucked, and sometimes changed individuals into types--and solvent citizens, at least in some cases:


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Walter Abel (1898-1987), character actor (and occasional lead) was once a footloose yet earnest lad with a poetic mien.
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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby moira finnie » May 20th, 2015, 4:38 pm

Before Hollywood:

Jan Sterling (1921-2004), appearing in the Broadway premiere of Noel Coward's "Present Laughter" in 1947. This was her ninth Broadway play, which received scathing reviews from an unusually critical press. Despite this, she would make the move to Hollywood this same year, making her mark on film beginning with Johnny Belinda (1948).

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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby Professional Tourist » May 24th, 2015, 1:41 pm

Before Hollywood, Mabel Albertson worked extensively in vaudeville, on radio, and in legitimate theater as actor and director. This 1933 studio portrait is from the height of her radio days:

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She moved to Hollywood after marrying Ken Englund, who worked as a screen writer for studios such as Paramount and RKO. Like her brother Jack, Mabel Albertson would be best-known for her work in television, particularly for her portrayals of comic mothers(-in-law) in the 1950s and 60s. Her big-screen credits include Forever, Darling (1956), The Long, Hot Summer (1958), and Barefoot in the Park (1967).

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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby moira finnie » May 27th, 2015, 10:25 am

That's lovely PT! Thanks for sharing the image and the background on Mabel Albertson.
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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby moira finnie » May 27th, 2015, 10:27 am

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Before Hollywood:

Louis Wolheim (above) in the Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape in 1922. Wolheim, a graduate of Cornell with PhD. in Mathmatics, spoke five languages--including some authentic sounding Brooklynese for this role as the proletarian protagonist of this groundbreaking play, catapulting the actor to prominence. One critic wrote at the time that Wolheim's Hairy Ape character of "Yank Smith...bears the burden of the play. Physically suited for the part he carries it through with a somber naturalism and tragic force of one who is midway between man and beast and is rejected by both."

The actor had appeared in several silents (many uncredited and made in the NYC area), but his most lasting acclaim is probably his film role as "Kat" in the anti-war masterpiece of early talkies, "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930), made in Hollywood.
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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby moira finnie » June 2nd, 2015, 12:12 pm

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Before Hollywood:

Mary Nash (1884-1976) was a fixture on Broadway and Vaudeville stages long before she found a niche as a character actress of considerable range in Hollywood, starting in 1934, where she played comedy (Easy Living) and drama (The Rains Came) with equal skill. Appearing in over 25 productions on the New York stage between 1906 and 1932, she was a dancer and player noted for characterizations that--as one critic put it--allowed her to shine as an "exceptionally clever young artist" capable of "the most intense emotional work as well as the daintiest of comedy..."

To some of us she will always be Katharine Hepburn's forgiving mother in The Philadelphia Story (1939) while others have been scarred forever by memories of her unforgettable Fräulein Rottenmeier in Heidi (1937), when she was ready to sell Shirley Temple to the gypsies, and break an orphan's snow globe for spite on Christmas Eve (!).

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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby knitwit45 » June 4th, 2015, 11:45 pm

As usual, I'm late to the party..what a lovely thread, Miss M!
Another candidate for this subject might be Gladys Cooper. Most remember her only as a matronly character actress, but she was a stunning beauty in her early years.

I remember being shocked at Miss Nash's role in Philadelphia Story, she WAS the evil housekeeper to poor Heidi..... :lol:
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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 12th, 2015, 9:19 pm

Well, I'm even later. I love it, too!
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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby pvitari » January 19th, 2016, 11:03 am

Fred Astaire and his sister Adele had a notable stage career from childhood through the early 1930s, when Adele finally broke up the partnership to marry an English lord. During their stage years, Adele was actually the more famous of the two, thanks to her bubbly and endearing personality. Theater critics couldn't write enough about her -- they adored her. Their shows were not only noticeable for the amazing dancing, Adele's charisma and wit and Fred's artistry, but also for their daring and artistic experimentation with such close creative partners as the Gershwin brothers George and Ira. They were a very famous musical theater couple -- the theatrical press followed them closely -- and they were especially esteemed on the London stage. I highly recommend Kathleen Riley's book The Astaires: Fred & Adele, which is a real eye-opener regarding Fred's pre-movie years.

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Re: Before Hollywood

Postby moira finnie » January 20th, 2016, 1:53 am

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I share your curiosity about Adele Astaire, Paula. Her sunny presence enlivened many tales of her friends--including her alleged nickname for her perfectionist brother, whom she sometimes called "Moanin' Minnie." I really wish that Adele aka Lady Charles Cavendish, had pursued a film career too, but 27 years on stage with her brother may have been enough, though we'll never know their shared magic.
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