Looking at Monty Woolley it wouldn’t be hard to believe that he was raised wealthy, went to Yale, was a professor and had friends like Cole Porter. A charmed life, he didn’t find Hollywood fame until he was 50 years old with The Man who Came to Dinner. Opposite Ann Sheridan and Bette Davis, Woolley plays the crotchety old spoiled brat that slips on some steps and imposes himself on an Ohio family over the holidays. If you haven’t had the experience of seeing Monty in action you’re in for a treat. In fact, he out-auditioned John Barrymore for the part of Whiteside. While Monty played his role Sheridan Whiteside both on screen and on stage, it was only one character of 32 he masterfully played between 1936-1955. A collection of radio experiences kept his head above water during tough financial times and he earned a star on the walk of fame. The Man Who Came to Dinner is a must see and a staple in any Hollywood education. Enjoy!
“There were forty western series, and I went from one to the other. I started out playing the third bad guy on a horse and worked my way up to the No. 1 bad guy,” Oates once quipped.
Most known for the films/tv by director Sam Peckinpah (Ride the High Country, Major Dundee, The Rifleman) Warren Oates succeeded at playing the wayward cowboy. Persistence, a love of filming on location (which gained and lost him 3 wives), and pure old fashioned grit won him a long list of tv appearances and a few substantial roles- his most famous being The Wild Bunch.
But what is fame when you have talent?
Oates role as GTO in Monte Hellman’s 1971 cult classic Two-Lane Blacktop was so powerful that it has been studied in film schools in large part due to Oates’ heartbreaking portrayal of GTO. Famed film critic Leonard Maltin himself has remarked that Oates’ performance in this film was as good as any he’d seen and should have won the Oscar.
As a kid I was deeply moved by Rex Ingram’s sympathetic portrayal of Jim the runaway slave in the 1939 MGM production of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn starring Mickey Rooney.
As an adult I was impressed by his portrayal of the unbending father Joe Lucasta in the United Artists 1958 film Anna Lucasta starring Eartha Kitt. In my quest to tie as many of the Summer of the Stars to Film Noir I see that Rex also appeared in a Film Noir. The United Artists 1944 film noir titled Dark Waters co-starring Merle Oberon, and Franchot Tone.
The Girl with the Million Dollar Legs!
A Yank in the RAF (1941), I Wake Up Screaming (1941), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Dick Powell crooned his way through the 1930’s in Busby Burkely musicals like Gold Diggers of 1933. Strong armed his way through the 1940’s as the hard boiled bad boy in noir’s like Murder My Sweet. Founded Four Star Production in the 1950’s with David Niven, Ida Lupino and Charles Boyer and directed his wife June Allyson in an updated version of the Classic movie ‘It Happened One Night’ with Jack Lemmon titled ‘You can’t Run Away From It’.
Versatility was Dick’s middle name.