Thursday, August 16, 2012

Notable Passings

...Actress Phyllis Thaxter, whose career began at MGM in the '40s and notably later included SUPERMAN (1978), has passed on at the age of 90.

Thaxter began her film career in THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944). Her films at the studio included a starring role in BEWITCHED (1945), her second film; the all-star WEEK-END AT THE WALDORF (1945); THE SEA OF GRASS (1947) with Tracy and Hepburn; TENTH AVENUE ANGEL (1948) with Margaret O'Brien; and the acclaimed film noir ACT OF VIOLENCE (1948) with Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, and Van Heflin.

After leaving MGM she starred in the fine "Gothic noir" THE SIGN OF THE RAM (1948), costarring fellow MGM veteran Susan Peters. I'm happy to say this film will be airing on Turner Classic Movies this October.

Another notable post-MGM film was THE BREAKING POINT (1950) with John Garfield and Patricia Neal.

Thaxter films reviewed here include BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948) with Robert Mitchum and Robert Preston; FORT WORTH (1951) with Randolph Scott; and NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950) with Barbara Stanwyck. In the latter film Thaxter is quite sympathetic in a brief but memorable role as an ill-fated mother-to-be.

Thaxter worked steadily in television over the years before receiving a small but key role as Martha Clark Kent, the adoptive mother of SUPERMAN (1978). Glenn Ford memorably played her husband.

...Emmy-winning actor Al Freeman Jr. has died at the age of 78. (Via Speakeasy.)

Freeman won the award for his role as Captain Ed Hall on the long-running ABC soap opera ONE LIFE TO LIVE, starring in the show for 17 years. I had a college roommate who watched the show faithfully so I know his work well.

Musical fans will remember him from FINIAN'S RAINBOW (1968), starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. It's an underrated film with a lovely score; I recommend checking it out.

There's more on Freeman's career from the Los Angeles Times.

...Singer Joan Roberts, who originated the role of Laurey in OKLAHOMA! in 1943, has passed on at the age of 95.

Roberts' passing comes just a month after the death of her OKLAHOMA! original cast costar, Celeste Holm. Holm played Ado Annie in the ground-breaking musical.


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