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Legendary Dancer Cyd Charisse Obituary
Written by Paul Rance
Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Beautiful American dancer Cyd Charisse died suddenly on 17th June, 2008, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California. Aged 86, the well-loved star suffered a heart attack.

Cyd Charisse was not her real name, being christened Tula Ellice Finklea, and born in Amarillo, Texas, on March 8th, 1922, the daughter of Lela (née Norwood) and Ernest Enos Finklea, Sr. The name 'Cyd' came about from childhood, via a mispronunciation of 'Sis'. MGM changed the spelling of 'Sid' to 'Cyd'. Her marriage to dancer Nico Charisse in 1939 gave her the surname, and thus the intriguing Cyd Charisse name was born. Cyd did well to make a career as a successful dancer, after suffering from polio as a child, and she began her dancing career at 14, studying ballet in Los Angeles, and assuming exotic names such as Celia Siderova and Maria Istromena.

Gaining a reputation as an outstanding dancer, Cyd Charisse was the resident MGM ballet performer in the mid-1940s, and she went on to dance with probably Hollywood's most famous male dancers - Fred Astaire (notably in 'Silk Stockings (1957)') and Gene Kelly (notably in 'Singin' In The Rain (1952)'). Her other notable films included 'The Band Wagon (1953)' and 'Brigadoon (1954)'.

Married for 60 years to singer Tony Martin, Cyd Charisse's private life was just that. In later years she acted mostly in well-known TV series such as 'Hawaii Five-O, 'The Love Boat', ''Murder, She Wrote', and 'Frasier', but she made her Broadway debut as late as 1992. Cyd was awarded the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities in November, 2006. She leaves behind husband Tony, and two sons Nico and Tony.

Cyd Charisse Filmography
(most recent films listed first)

Warlords Of Atlantis (1978)
Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
Maroc 7 (1967)
The Silencers (1966)
Assassinio Made In Italy (1965)
Two Weeks In Another Town (1962)
Something's Got To Give (1962)
Five Golden Hours (1961)
1-2-3-4 ou Les Collants noirs (1960)
Party Girl (1958)
Twilight For The Gods (1958)
Silk Stockings (1957)
Meet Me In Las Vegas (1956)
It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
Deep In My Heart (1954)
Brigadoon (1954)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Sombrero (1953)
The Wild North (1952)
Singin' In The Rain (1952)
Mark Of The Renegade (1951)
East Side, West Side (1949)
Tension (1949)
Words And Music (1948)
The Kissing Bandit (1948)
On An Island With You (1948)
The Unfinished Dance (1947)
Fiesta (1947)
Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)
Three Wise Fools (1946)
Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
The Harvey Girls (1946)
Something To Shout About (1943)


The late, great Richard Fleischer - Filmography


Hollywood's Girl Next Door June Allyson Dies At 88
Written by Paul Rance
Sunday, 9 July 2006

American actress June Allyson passed away on July 8th, in Ojai, California. She was 88. Ms. Allyson was renowned for playing girl next door roles, despite her husky voice being suitable for more sultry parts. Ms. Allyson's voice changed, however, when she had to have two major throat operations in the early 1960s.

June Allyson had a string of notable co-stars, including Van Johnson and James Stewart. She played Stewart's wife in probably her most famous film, 'The Glenn Miller Story (1953)', and also in 'Strategic Air Command (1955)'. Ms. Allyson was married to fellow actor Dick Powell for 18 years, and they appeared together in several films - 'Meet The People (1944)', 'The Reformer And The Redhead', and 'Right Cross', both 1950. Other films June Allyson appeared in included 'The Three Musketeers (1948)', and as tomboy Jo March in the 1949 remake of 'Little Women'. June also appeared in musicals, and her being effectively Judy Garland's stand-in would keep the temperamental legend in check.

Though June Allyson was frustrated by her lack of meaty roles, she did have her moments, playing strong roles in 'The Secret Heart (1946)', 'Executive Suite (1954)', and as the nagging Ann Downs in 'The Shrike (1955)'. Later in her career she even played a lesbian murderess in 'They Only Kill Their Masters (1972)'. June Allyson also appeared in a number of popular TV shows, including 'The Incredible Hulk', 'The Love Boat', 'Hart To Hart', 'Murder, She Wrote', 'Crazy Like A Fox', 'Airwolf', and 'Burke's Law'. She had her own TV show, and appeared on husband Dick Powell's show.

Born Ella Geisman on October 7th, 1917, in the Bronx, June Allyson was effectively brought up by her maternal grandmother after her parents divorce. She taught herself to dance by obsessively watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals. She put her dancing skills to good use as a chorus girl early in her career, when still a student, but her career gradually changed direction, and she was to become one of America's best loved actresses of the 1940s and 1950s.

June Allyson Filmography
(most recent films listed first)

A Girl, Three Guys, And A Gun (2001)
Blackout (1978)
They Only Kill Their Masters (1972)
A Stranger In My Arms (1959)
My Man Godfrey (1957)
Interlude (1957)
You Can't Run Away From It (1956)
The Opposite Sex (1956)
The McConnell Story (1955)
The Shrike (1955)
Strategic Air Command (1955)
Woman's World (1954/I)
Executive Suite (1954)
The Glenn Miller Story (1953)
Remains To Be Seen (1953)
Battle Circus (1953)
The Girl In White (1952)
Too Young To Kiss (1951)
Right Cross (1950)
The Reformer And The Redhead (1950)
The Stratton Story (1949)
Little Women (1949)
The Three Musketeers (1948)
The Bride Goes Wild (1948)
Good News (1947)
High Barbaree (1947)
The Secret Heart (1946)
Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)
Two Sisters From Boston (1946)
The Sailor Takes A Wife (1945)
Her Highness And The Bellboy (1945)
Music For Millions (1944)
Meet The People (1944)
Two Girls And A Sailor (1944)
Girl Crazy (1943)
Best Foot Forward (1943)
All Girl Revue (1940)
The Knight Is Young (1938)
The Prisoner Of Swing (1938)
Sing For Sweetie (1938)
Not Now (1938)
Dates And Nuts (1937)
Dime A Dance (1937)
Ups And Downs (1937)
Pixilated (1937)
Swing For Sale (1937)


Oliver's Artful Dodger Jack Wild Dies
Written by Paul Rance
Saturday, 4 March 2006

Tragic British actor Jack Wild finally lost his long battle with cancer, dying in Tebworth, Bedfordshire, early in March at the young age of 53.

When virtually everyone tries to picture the Charles Dickens Artful Dodger character from 'Oliver Twist', it's Jack Wild's impish portrayal, in the massively popular 1968 musical, 'Oliver!', that comes to mind. Considering Anthony Newley also played the part brilliantly, in the 1948 film of 'Oliver Twist', that was really saying something.

Jack Wild appeared on TV, in 'George And The Dragon', 'Z Cars', 'H.R. Pufnstuf', 'Our Mutual Friend', and 'The Onedin Line'. He also appeared in the films 'Melody aka S.W.A.L.K. (1971)' (with 'Oliver!' co-star Mark Lester) and 'Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991)'.

At 15, Jack Wild had created a reputation for himself he couldn't match, and being nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor proved to be a burden. His life became blighted by alcoholism in the 1970s and 1980s, a time he himself described as "a blur". Wild developed mouth cancer in 2000, and steadily deteriorated, though sadly at a time when he had found peace with himself, and had become happily married again. Wild remained friends with Mark Lester and Ron Moody - stars of the '68 film, and all three were not really given the opportunity to scale such heights again.


Hollywood Tough Guy Jack Palance Obituary
Written by Paul Rance
Sunday, 12 November 2006

Jack Palance, who died of natural causes on November 10th, was a Hollywood tough guy, who famously played up to his image in the 1991 cowboy comedy 'City Slickers', for which he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.

Of Ukrainian descent, Palance was born in Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, and, not surprisingly, was a fairly successful former professional heavyweight boxer, and was wounded in combat in the Second World War, being awarded a purple heart. Beginning in the early 1950s, Jack's film career soon took off, and his most notable role was probably as menacing Jack Wilson in the classic western 'Shane (1953)'.

Jack Palance passed away in Montecito, California, surrounded by his family. He was 87.

Jack Palance Filmography
(most recent films listed first)

Prancer Returns (2001) (V)
Treasure Island (1999/I)
The Incredible Adventures Of Marco Polo (1998)
War Games (narrator) (1996)
The Swan Princess (voice) (1994)
City Slickers II: The Legend Of Curly's Gold (1994)
Cops And Robbersons (1994)
Cyborg 2 (1993)
Eli's Lesson (1992)
City Slickers (1991)
Solar Crisis (1990)
Tango & Cash (1989)
Outlaw Of Gor (1989)
Batman (1989) .
Young Guns (1988)
Gor (1988)
Out Of Rosenheim (1987)
Alone In The Dark (1982)
Without Warning (1980)
Hawk The Slayer (1980)
Cocaine Cowboys (1979)
The Shape Of Things To Come (1979)
Angels' Brigade (1979)
The One Man Jury (1978)
Welcome To Blood City (1977)
Portrait Of A Hitman (1977)
Padroni della città, I (1976)
Eva nera (1976)
Squadra antiscippo (1976)
Diamante Lobo (1976)
The Four Deuces (1976)
Safari Express (1976)
Infermiera, L' (1975)
Richiamo del lupo, Il (1975)
Africa Express (1975)
Oklahoma Crude (1973)
Blu gang vissero per sempre felici e ammazzati (1973)
Craze (1973)
Chato's Land (1972)
Si può fare... amigo (1972)
Te deum (1972)
And So Ends (narrator) (1972)
The Horsemen (1971)
Vamos a matar, compañeros (1970)
Monte Walsh (1970)
The McMasters (1970)
Legione dei dannati, La (1969)
Che! (1969)
The Desperados (1969)
Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969)
Urlo dei giganti, L' (1969)
Las Vegas, 500 millones (1968)
Mercenario, Il (1968)
Kill A Dragon (1967)
Torture Garden (1967)
The Professionals (1966)
Once A Thief (1965)
Mépris, Le (1963)
Criminale, Il (1963)
Guerra continua, La (1962)
Barabbas (1962)
Rosmunda e Alboino (1962)
Giudizio universale, Il (1961)
Mongoli, I (1961)
The Barbarians (1960)
Austerlitz (1960)
Treno di Natale (1960)
Flor de mayo (1959)
Ten Seconds To Hell (1959)
The Man Inside (1958)
House Of Numbers (1957)
The Lonely Man (1957)
Attack (1956)
I Died A Thousand Times (1955)
The Big Knife (1955)
Kiss Of Fire (1955)
The Silver Chalice (1954)
Sign Of The Pagan (1954)
Man In The Attic (1953)
Flight To Tangier (1953)
Arrowhead (1953)
Second Chance (1953)
Shane (1953) (as Walter Jack Palance)
Sudden Fear (1952)
Halls Of Montezuma (1950) (as Walter Jack Palance)
Panic In The Streets (1950) (as Walter Jack Palance)


Ballerina And Movie Star Moira Shearer Dies At 80
Written by Paul Rance
Saturday, 4 February 2006

Moira Shearer, the top British ballerina, and star of the 1948 film, 'The Red Shoes', has died aged 80. Her husband of more than 50 years, TV presenter, Ludovic Kennedy, said her health started to decline in January.

Scottish-born Moira Shearer's first major ballet role was 'Sleeping Beauty' in 1946. She also played Sally Bowles in 'I Am A Camera' in 1955, and appeared in notable films such as 'The Tales Of Hoffmann (1951)', 'The Story Of Three Loves (1953)', and Michael Powell's controversial 1959 film, 'Peeping Tom'. Moira also presented 'The Eurovision Song Contest' on a couple of occasions.

Moira will be best-remembered for her ballet career, which saw her take on most of the coveted roles, and for her performance in 'The Red Shoes', which was tailor-made for a ballerina.


Anna Nicole Smith Biography
Written by Paul Rance
Monday, 12 February 2007

Anna Nicole Smith's short life was so colourful that even the most outlandish soap opera would have struggled to have done it justice. With her mass of blonde hair, a pretty face, pneumatic breasts, and statuesque figure, Anna Nicole was never going to have much trouble getting attention.

Real name Vickie Lynn Hogan, and born in Houston, Texas, on November 28th, 1967, Anna Nicole Smith first gained fame as a model, and that career began with shoots for 'Playboy', and she became a 'Playboy Playmate Of The Month' for May, 1992. Her 'Playboy' appearance then led her to being a model for Guess? Jeans, and she became 'Playboy Playmate Of The Year' for 1993. By the mid 1990s, Anna Nicole was appearing in popular movies such as 'The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)' and 'Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)'. She also appeared in top American TV comedy-drama 'Ally McBeal' in 1999. Anna Nicole then gained some notoriety with her 'reality' TV show, 'The Anna Nicole Show', which ran from August, 2002 to June, 2003. This was basically a televisual diary of her life - warts and all.

Of course, Anna Nicole Smith will probably be remembered for the things which sent tabloids around the world into a feeding frenzy. She married billionaire J. Howard Marshall II when she was 26, and he was nearly 90, claiming: "Nobody has ever respected me and done things for me and loved me. So when Howard came along, it was a blessing. He is the only person in my life who does not care about what other people say about me. He truly loves me and I love him for it." The legal battles over money issues will rumble on though both Anna Nicole and J. Howard Marshall II are both now deceased.

On September 7th, 2006, Anna Nicole gave birth to a baby girl. Three days later, Anna Nicole's 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, died suddenly while visiting his mother and new born step-sister in hospital. The little girl was named Dannie Lynn Hope in memory of Daniel. Before Anna Nicole Smith's sudden death the paternity of Dannie Lynn was being disputed, with three men claiming to be the father.


American Musicals Star Betty Hutton Obituary
Written by Paul Rance
Thursday, 10 May 2007

Hyper musicals star Betty Hutton, who died on March 11th, will be best remembered for her portrayal of Annie Oakley in the 1950 musical, 'Annie Get Your Gun'. Betty had earlier found fame as a big band singer and on Broadway, before moving into films in the early 1940s.

Betty married four times, and once sadly remarked: "My husbands all fell in love with Betty Hutton. None of them fell in love with me." Betty Hutton died in Palm Springs, California of complications from colon cancer. She was 86.

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