Thursday, March 24, 2011

Surviving Stars From the Golden Age of Hollywood

Yesterday's passing of Dame Elizabeth Taylor saw a huge number of well deserved tributes in the media. Unfortunately, many of these tributes treated Miss Taylor as if she was last, sole remaining star from the Golden Age of Hollywood (which I say was roughly from 1930 to 1960). This is hardly the case. There are several other stars from the Golden Age who are still alive and some of them even matched Dame Elizabeth Taylor in the level of their stardom.

Here, then, is a short list of surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It is by no means complete, but it does demonstrate that many of our favourite actors from the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties are still alive.

Arlene Dahl (August 11, 1925): MGM contract star  who appeared in Life with Father, Reign of Terror, and other films.

Doris Day (born April 3, 1922): Still the biggest female box office star of all time. She starred in musicals such as April in Paris and Calamity Jane in the Fifties, but made her biggest impact in Sixties sex comedies such as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back.

Olivia de Havilland (born July 1, 1916): The only surviving lead from Gone with the Wind. She co-starred with Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and several other films.

Joan Fontaine (born Joan de Havilland October 22, 1917): Olivia de Havilland's younger sister and a star in her own right. She appeared in Gunga Din, Hitchcock's Suspicion, the 1944 version of Jane Eyre, and many other classic films. Sadly, it seems Olivia and Joan have maintained their well known feud to this day.

Kirk Douglas (born December 9, 1916): One of the greatest action stars of all time. He starred in such films as Champion, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Vikings, Spartacus, and many other films.

Zsa Zsa Gabor (born February 6, 1917): Never a major star, but always the archetypal celebrity, Zsa Zsa appeared in such films as Moulin Rouge (1952), Lili, Gigi, and Boys Night Out.

Angela Lansbury (born October 16, 1925):  A memorable supporting actress who appeared in such films as Gaslight, Samson and Delilah, The Long Hot Summer, and many other films. She is probably best known now as Jessica Fletcher on the show Murder, She Wrote.

Maureen O'Hara (born  August 17, 1920): Irish actress and major star, Maureen starred in everything from pirate movies (The Black Swan) to Westerns (McLintock!) to holiday classics (Miracle on 34th Street) to family comedies (The Parent Trap). She was also my mother's favourite actress of all time besides Marilyn Monroe.

Jane Powell (born April 1, 1929) : MGM contract player who appeared in such films as Royal Wedding, A Date with Judy, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Debbie Reynolds (April 1, 1932): Gene Kelly's co-star in Singin' in the Rain, as well as the star of  Tammy and the Bachelor. She appeared in such films as The Catered Affair and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She is still acting.

Mickey Rooney  (born September 23, 1920): Andy Hardy himself, as well as the star of several MGM musicals. He is still acting, making memorable appearance in Night at the Museum.

Ann Rutherford (born November 2, 1920): Scarlett O'Hara's youngest sister in Gone With the Wind and Andy Hardy's long suffering girl friend

Ester Williams (born August 8, 1921): Champion competitive swimmer and star of MGM musicals.


Jim Marquis said...

Interesting post. Very often I'm surprised when I hear that some elder celebrity just died and I thought they had passed on a long time ago. I guess that's what happens when you're famous and then fade out of the public limelight.

Fabienne said...

Great list of great names, every one of them synonymous with the golden age of Hollywood.

Toby O'B said...

I wonder how many of them will get that last measure of celebrity - the full front page of the tabloids? (Ms. Taylor and Michael Jackson got the wrap-around treatment.)

I don't think many of those you listed would get the full cover treatment - maybe Douglas, Doris Day? - despite being such big stars in their prime.

I think it'll be Streisand who gets the next wrap-around (but not anytime soon....)

Terence Towles Canote said...

Sadly, I think you're right Toby. The de Havilland sisters and Maureen O'Hara would certainly deserve the wrap around treatment, but I doubt they'll get it. I believe Kirk Douglas will get it, and Doris Day might. As far as artists in other fields, as the other head Beatle I think Sir Paul McCartney will get it, but fortunately no time soon!

MovieNut14 said...

No mention of Sidney Poitier?

Terence Towles Canote said...

Yes, Sidney Poitier is still alive too. As I said, it was a short list! There are a lot more stars from the Golden Age than the ones I listed.