Friday, February 20, 2015

Cedric, Lee & Jeff: Happy February 19th Birthdays to Terrific Actors!

It's a treat to look back at some amazing talents celebrating recent birth anniversaries.  Yesterday brought birthdays for an interesting trio of actors, all of different generations but all three carrying on the brilliant thespian tradition in their own unique way.  Two are no longer with us but the third is one of today's most versatile and likable actors.

First up, the classic and legendary actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke was born today in 1893; this is the 122nd anniversary of his birth.  Knighted in 1934 and perhaps most known for his roles in some of the best remembered movies of all time -- Becky Sharp, Things to Come, Stanley and Livingstone, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Miserables, Suspicion, The Lodger, I Remember Mama, Rope, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, The Ten Commandments, among many others -- Hardwicke was accomplished first on the stage then in movies and finally on television.  In his later years he turned up on TV a lot in many of the dramatic anthology series which began in the early 1950s; you could have seen the distinguished actor on Schlitz Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, TV Reader's Digest, Matinee Theatre, Climax! and many others.  He also made appearances on some of the shows which are still easily accessible today such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents (watch his episodes by clicking here and here), Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits (one of his last acting roles before his death in 1964).  Lest you think Sir H. never deigned to dabble in the comic arts, he was a repeat guest on The Red Skelton Hour and co-starred on comedienne Gertrude Berg's sitcom during the 1961 TV season.

Cedric Hardwicke's appearance on The Outer Limits was originally a one-off pilot entitled "The Unknown" which ultimately led to the famous series and was aired as "The Form of Things Unknown" during its run.  In order to read more about this unusual episode and to watch it in its entirety, please visit the We Are Controlling Transmission blog, click here.

You can also watch his Twilight Zone episode "Uncle Simon" on Hulu.  In order to fully appreciate the breadth of this acting giant's career, we recommend that you visit his IMDb page and also check out his bio.  Sir Cedric Hardwicke -- what a memorable acting career.

Our next Happy February 19th Birthday is Lee Marvin, the gravel-voiced veteran actor whose high-hat childhood belied his later image as a super tough guy and WW II veteran.  Born in 1924, he started his acting career in the early 1950s with roles in the movies -- The Wild One, The Caine Mutiny to name just a couple of his early roles -- and in early TV productions like the original Dragnet, Kraft Theatre, Medic and Climax!, moving easily between them and racking up impressive credits.  In 1957 he landed the starring role in the Chicago police detective TV series M Squad which lasted three successful seasons.  (Check out YouTube for more clips and episodes.)

His TV tenure seemed however to have interrupted his big screen momentum and for the next several years his acting work was mostly confined to TV guest star roles in popular series such as Dr. Kildare, Bonanza, Combat!, Twilight Zone and Route 66 though he did make some big theatricals like John Wayne's The Comancheros, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Donovans's Reef.  In 1965 Marvin landed his true movie breakout role with his Academy Award-winning starring role in Cat Ballou and after that point he was 100% movie star and enjoyed a varied career including favorites like The Dirty Dozen, Ship of Fools and Point Blank, among many others.  In addition to his acting credits -- and please do visit his IMDb page to peruse them all -- it was a Lee Marvin lawsuit with a former girlfriend which brought the term "palimony" to the dictionary.

Here is Lee Marvin guesting on Bonanza in 1962:

Lee Marvin died on August 29, 1987 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Our last birthday from yesterday is current favorite Jeff Daniels, talented musician -- check out his website -- and the popular star of stage, screen and a fair bit of TV who was born in 1955.  We're going to give this immensely talented and down-to-earth actor a special shout-out for his outstanding job portraying George Washington in the 1999 TV miniseries The Crossing and also for his Emmy-winning starring role in the recent 3 season run of HBO's The Newsroom.  Please visit his IMDb page for Jeff Daniels' full and extensive list of credits.

Happy Birthday, Gentlemen!

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