Saturday, September 08, 2018

Notable Passings

Taking time out to remember a number of actors who have recently passed on:

...Universal Pictures singing star Gloria Jean has died at the age of 92.

Gloria Jean was something of a backup to the studio's biggest star, Deanna Durbin, initially able to perform younger roles as Durbin grew out of child stardom and became a young lady. A charming performer in her own right, Gloria Jean appeared in a number of films with Donald O'Connor, as well as IF I HAD MY WAY (1940) with Bing Crosby and NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (1941) with W.C. Fields.

I thought she was absolutely lovely in DESTINY (1944), which was originally part of the anthology film FLESH AND FANTASY (1943) before being edited into a stand-alone film. She's seen above in DESTINY with Alan Curtis.

...Lydia Clarke Heston, the widow of Charlton Heston, has died at 95. She is survived by her children Fraser and Holly, as well as grandchildren.

Clarke was reviewed here in THE ATOMIC CITY (1952). In 2010 I was fortunate to watch THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (2010) in her presence at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

...Actor Robert Dix has died at 83. Dix, the son of Richard Dix -- a favorite actor of this blogger -- appeared in small roles at MGM throughout the '50s and was reviewed here in a lead role in the minor but enjoyable 20th Century-Fox film, AIR PATROL (1962). He appeared onscreen until the early '70s.

Richard Dix died in 1949, when Robert was a teenager, and Robert also lost his twin brother, Richard Jr., a few years later in an accident. His stepfather, Walter Van De Kamp, was a major player in the Southern California restaurant scene, founding Lawry's The Prime Rib and Tam O'Shanter restaurants. Robert Dix wrote a memoir about himself and his father, OUT OF HOLLYWOOD: TWO GENERATIONS OF ACTORS.

...Television stalwart Bill Daily has passed away at 91. As a kid I suspect I saw every episode of his two best-known series, I DREAM OF JEANNIE (1965-70) and THE BOB NEWHART SHOW (1972-78).

...Christopher Lawford, who appeared on ALL MY CHILDREN and GENERAL HOSPITAL, has passed away at 63. The son of Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy, he overcame substance addiction and was also known as an advocate for sobriety.

...Character actor Fredd Wayne has died at 93. He was known for his frequent portrayals of Benjamin Franklin, including in a memorable episode of BEWITCHED. He also appeared in a couple of episodes of my favorite series, MAVERICK, in the late '50s. Terry wrote a nice tribute to Wayne at A Shroud of Thoughts.

...GENERAL HOSPITAL actress Susan Brown has died at 86.

Brown, seen above with costar Peter Hansen, was a Daytime Emmy nominee as Best Supporting Actress in 1979 for her role as Gail Baldwin. Her costar Hansen won the Emmy the same year; he passed on last year at the age of 95.

...As was previously noted here, Burt Reynolds has died at 82. He was a big name when I was growing up, though the only films I actually recall watching him in were HOOPER (1978) and THE CANNONBALL RUN (1981).

Thanks to all for the memories!


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Truly a rush of memories with these sad passings.

I saw Robert Dix this past week when I watched The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come on YouTube. He had a nice presence.

4:08 PM  
Blogger mel said...

Gloria Jean appeared in two movies with my favorite singer, Mel Tormé - Pardon My Rhythm and Ghost Catchers (both 1944).

The following story was related by Tormé in his autobiography, It Wasn't All Velvet (1988):

Gloria Jean was the most unaffected, unspoiled teenage star I ever met. She had a clear piping voice and a somewhat tremulous vibrato, which did not, however, detract from the pleasant quality of her singing. Years later, when I had become well-known, I walked into a restaurant out in the Valley, and a nice-looking, somewhat matronly hostess led me and my date to a table. She handed us menus, smiled at me, and extended her hand.

“Hi, Mel,” she smiled. “Remember me? I’m Gloria Jean.”

My jaw dropped a quarter inch. I stood and hugged her and, at that moment, felt more hatred for this business than I ever had before or would afterward. When Gloria Jean’s usefulness to the studio was over, she was thrown out unceremoniously among the civilians to make of her life what she could.

1:14 AM  
Blogger Lee R said...

Gloria Jean was as cute as a button, I remember her mainly for "If I Had My Way", and while I've seen "Never Give..." I can't say I remember it well. But, being a Bing fan, "If I Had My Way" is in my top 5 favorite Bing movies. She was so sweet and heartbreaking in this movie, when Bing Sings If I Had My Way to her, your eyes will tear up. She was a little beauty.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Lee R said...

Well, that's a coinky dinky, found Bing and Gloria on you tube, here's that song I talked about from the movie of the same name.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for your comments and contributing quotes and video! I need to see more Gloria Jean films for sure...and more Mel Torme!

Caftan Woman, Robert Dix did have a very nice presence. I was reminded today of a fun story about him, Roger Moore, and the 007 film LIVE AND LET DIE. I'll let him tell it in this five-minute interview:

Best wishes,

9:58 PM  

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