Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cary Grant and Ralph Bellamy the Super-Centenarians

Watch your screens! You might be able to catch one of these superheroes for a few hours sometime. What power! Still sending smiles a for over a century. Sheesh! We're celebrating their 110th birthdays this year.

Grab a cup of coffee with Ralph Bellamy
Cary Grant and
Rosalind Russell
His Girl Friday
Actors Cary Grant and Ralph Bellamy appeared together in a pair of screwball comedies,  The Awful Truth (1937) and His Girl Friday (1940).

These are two of the most famous films from the golden era of that genre.

Were Grant and Bellamy alive this year, they may have comic books devoted to them and be assigned their requisite flowing capes as they'd be Super-Centenarians!

Each man would have turned 110 in 2014. Cary Grant (Archibald Alexander Leach) was born January 18, 1904. He his name changed legally on June 26, 1942 when he became became a U.S. citizen.

Ralph Bellamy was born June 17, 1904. What would they choose for their superhero names?

For the record another special actor from the golden era of Hollywood joins the Super-Centenarian Club: Mr. Peter Lorre! He was born June 26, 1904. If anyone knows of a film that featured Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy and Peter Lorre I'd love to see it. Peter Lorre and Cary Grant were both in Arsenic and Old Lace.

Arsenic and Old Lace Movie Poster (11 x 14 Inches - 28cm x 36cm) 1944
Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre
Joan Crawford was born March 23, 1904. Glenda Farrell was born June 30, 1904 and silent star Laura La Plante was born November 1, 1904.

Their wonderful female costars were Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. Cary Grant played Walter Burns, Ralph Bellamy played Bruce Baldwin.

A supercentenarian is a person who's reached or passed his or her 110th birthday. So what superpowers would Cary and Ralph possess?

With this definition, we would include many more people. How about Alfred Hitchcock who turns 115 in 2014? Celebrate Mr. Hitchcock was born August 13, 1899.

Watch channels such as Turner Classic Movies (TCM) for marathons of their films, celebrations dedicated to the stars around their birthdays. 

Have your own film festival anytime. Many of their films may be rented and streamed over your computer or TV. If you have a service like Amazon Prime, some will be included in your membership for free. Have a party in their honor.

Grant and Bellamy meet The Awful Truth
Grant's Hollywood Walk of Fame star (1610 Vine Street) is near Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante, Ann Sothern and Donna Reed.

"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you."
-- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh  

Also born on January 18th, Norvell "Oliver" Hardy, Danny Kaye, Kevin Costner, Sir Thomas Sopwith and A.A. Milne. Bentley Motors Limited was founded January 18, 1919. 

All born on January 18th actually: Albert Alonzo Ames 1842, Alan Alexander Milne 1882 and Archibald Alexander Leach 1904. Alan Alda is born 10 days later on January 28, 1936.

Sharing a June 17th birthday are notable figures ranging from M. C. Escher and Charles Eames, to Joe Piscopo and radio personality Art Bell.

Singer Barry Manilow was born on June 17, 1943. But he had his first Billboard Hot 100 number one single on January 18 1975: Mandy. 

Ralph Bellamy's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (6542 Hollywood Blvd.) is near those of Monty Woolley, Isaac Stern, Frank Sinatra, Leslie Howard and Orson Welles.  

Walter Burns describing Bruce Baldwin in His Girl Friday: 
"He looks like that fellow in the movies. You know, Ralph Bellamy.(Maybe not surprisingly, Bellamy said in an interview that Cary Grant ad-libbed this line.)

Also in His Girl Friday, Walter Burns:
"Listen the last man that said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat."

Both Ralph Bellamy and Cary Grant received honorary Academy Awards.

Both men coincidentally died on November 29th. Grant died November 29, 1986 (age 82) in Davenport, Iowa. He was touring the country offering a series of live Conversations with Cary Grant.  

Ralph Bellamy died at age 87 on November 29, 1991, Bellamy died from a lung ailment. 
Evenings With Cary Grant: Recollections in His Own Words and by Those Who Knew Him Best talks to people who knew him and also contains his own words.

Author Nancy Nelson worked with Mr. Grant from the start on his lecture series, traveling with him and his wife for part of the time.

I learned of this book when I heard a very interesting interview with the author. The forward is written by Mr. Grant's wife and daughter, Barbara and Jennifer Grant.

His last film was Walk, Don't Run with Samantha Eggar and Jim Hutton 1966. Jim Hutton was the father of actor Timothy Hutton, recently seen on the TV show, Leverage.

You may remember Timothy Hutton dedicated his 1980 Academy Award which he had won for his role in the 1980 movie Ordinary People to his father. Jim Hutton died of liver cancer at the age of only 45.

Bellamy's last film had been Pretty Woman (1990) with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. He played businessman, James Morse. He was also the evil Dr. Abraham Sapirstein in Rosemary's Baby. Both actors have long and impressive filmographies.

Rosemary's Baby John Cassavetes,Ralph Bellamy, Mia Farrow
A founder and board member of the Screen Actors Guild, Ralph Bellamy also served as  President of the Actors Equity for four terms 1953-1964.  

Fascinating interview with Mr. Bellamy.

I read about his preparation for his role in Sunrise at Campobello where he played Franklin Delano Roosevelt. To depict the President's battle with polio, Bellamy "attended classes in physical therapy, learning to crawl while supporting himself with his hands and arms and holding his legs limp.

"He learned to walk with crutches and leg braces and did daily calisthenics to keep fit." 

When the Smoke Hit the Fan: Ralph Bellamy Autobiography
This and studying recordings of Roosevelt's voice, consulting at with Mrs. Roosevelt and her children were just some of what the actor did to prepare for the part.
-- some info from The New York Times

Bellamy first played the role on Broadway, a part for which he won the Tony Award for Best Actor. Then he played the role in the film version.

Interesting to see an actor reprise a Broadway play role on screen.

Maybe we can have a party in their honor and sing songs like Home on the range and I can't give you anything but love.

You can still see wonderful classic films like Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story on the big screen.

Links to pages of interest:

Cary, Irene, Claudette and The Awful Truth

Wheelchair Ice Skating 

Fashions of the 1920s Modeled by Silent Film Stars

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies We chose Amazon Prime because we prefer their wide selection of movies and documentaries to other streaming video sites, and the yearly price is about the same. But you get added benefits to joining Amazon Prime. There are shipping benefits and a Kindle Lending Library. These save money and time.

We found more documentaries, foreign films, more British television shows and many more old color and black and white films on Amazon. 

Having several of the videos free to watch with Amazon Prime is great. 

There are always movies you want to pay to rent or own. There seems to still be some special films we want to own on DVD.

New York Times article on Bellamy
Actors Equity web site

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