Saturday, May 6, 2017

Daliah Lavi R.I.P.

Daliah Lavi, the Israeli actress who appeared in such films as Lord Jim (1965), Ten Little Indians (1965), The Silencers (1966), and Casino Royale (1967), died on May 3 2017 at the age of 74.

Daliah Lavi was born Daliah Levinbuck on October 12 1942 in Haifa, British Palestine. She was only ten years old when she met actor Kirk Douglas, and told him that she wanted to become a dancer. Mr. Douglas encouraged her parents to send her to Stockholm, Sweden to learn dance when she was 12 years old. Her father died when she was 16, at which point she returned to Israel to become a swimsuit model.

Miss Lavi made her film debut when she was only about 13, appearing in the Swedish film Hemsöborna (1955).  In the late Fifties she appeared in the films Brennender Sand (1960) and Candide ou l'optimisme au XXe siècle (1960).  She spent the early Sixties appearing in various European films, including Un soir sur la plage (1961), La fête espagnole (1961), Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse (1961),  Das schwarz-weiß-rote Himmelbett (1962),  La frusta e il corpo (1963), Das große Liebesspiel (1963), Old Shatterhand (1964), and Cyrano et d'Artagnan (1964). 

She made her debut in an American film in Two Weeks in Another Town in 1962. She played the Girl in Lord Jim (1965). Based on Joseph Conrad's novel and directed by Richard Brooks, unfortunately the film received bad reviews and did poorly at the box office. Lord Jim did nothing to hurt Daliah Lavi's career in English language films. In the late Sixties she appeared in such films as Ten Little Indians (1965), The Silencers (1966), Casino Royale (1967), Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967), Nobody Runs Forever (1968), and Some Girls Do (1969).

Miss Lavi's last American film was Catlow (1971). She began a successful singing career in Germany, and appeared frequently on European television in the Seventies and Eighties in that capacity.

In the English speaking world Daliah Lavi is probably best known for her roles as an often scantily clad object of lust in various American and British spy spoofs. Given her looks there can be no doubt that she was well suited to such roles. That having been said, she was fluent in multiple languages, so that she made films in Israel, Italy, France, and Germany, and often these films were a far cry from the light-hearted spy spoofs she made in English. Outside of the Anglopshere she made several dramas and films in other genres, where she more than held her own. Ultimately she was much more than a pretty face.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The 50th Anniversary of The Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset"

It was fifty years ago today that The Kinks' single "Waterloo Sunset" was released. It has since become possibly their most famous song besides "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All Day of the Night". As to the origins of the song, there has been a persistent rumour that it was inspired by the relationship between British movie stars Terence Stamp and Julie Christie. According to Ray Davies, who wrote the song, this was not the case. Instead, in an article on the making of the song in The Guardian, he aid had in mind "...the image I had in my mind was of my sister and her boyfriend walking into the future." Ray Davies does have a nephew named Terry.

Regardless of the origins of the song, it did very well on the charts of various countries. It peaked at no. 2 in the United Kingdom, no. 4 in Australia, no. 7 in Germany, no 1 in the Netherlands, and no. 7 in New Zealand. Amazingly enough, it did not chart in the United States.

Here, without further ado, is "Waterloo Sunset" by The Kinks:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Don Gordon Passes On

Character actor Don Gordon died on April 24 2017 at the age of 90.  He had been diagnosed with cancer only five days before he died.

Don Gordon was born on November 13 1926 in Los Angeles, California. He made his film debut in 1949 in an uncredited role in Twelve O' Clock High. During the Fifties he appeared in such films as Halls of Montezuma (1951), Let's Go Navy! (1951), Force of Arms (1951), Girls in the Night (1953), Law and Order (1953), Revolt at Fort Laramie (1956), and Cry Tough (1959). He made his television debut in 1951 in an episode of Space Patrol. Towards the end of the decade Mr. Gordon starred in the syndicated TV series The Blue Angels. He guest starred on such shows as The Ford Television Theatre, Mister Peepers, Robert Montgomery Presents, Studio One, Sugarfoot, Trackdown, 77 Sunset Strip, The Millionaire, Johnny Staccato, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Playhouse 90, and The Twilight Zone.

In the Sixties he appeared in several episodes of the TV show Peyton Place. He guest starred on such shows as The Defenders, The Untouchables, Channing, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Fugitive, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Combat!, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, 12 O' Clock High, The Wild Wild West, The Invaders, and The Name of the Game. Don Gordon wrote and starred in the film The Lollipop Cover (1965). He appeared in the films Bullitt (1968), The Gamblers (1970), WUSA (1970), and Cannon for Cordoba (1970).

In the Seventies Don Gordon appeared in the films Z.P.G. (1972), Fuzz (1972), Slaughter (1972), The Mack (1973), Papillon (1973), and Out of the Blue (1980). He was a regular on the short-lived TV show Lucan. He guest starred on such shows as Search, Banacek, The F.B.I., The Magician, Mannix, Cannon, Matt Helm, The Streets of San Francisco, Charlie's Angels, Switch, Barnaby Jones, Vega$, and Hart to Hart.

In the Eighties Don Gordon guest starred on such shows as Matt Houston, The Powers of Matthew Star, The Love Boat, T. J. Hooker, Cover Up, Knight Rider, Airwolf, Remington Steele, and MacGyver. He appeared in the films The Beast Within (1982), Lethal Weapon (1987), Code Name Vengeance (1987), Skin Deep (1989), and The Exorcist III (1990).  In the Nineties he appeared in the film The Borrower (1991)  and guest starred on Diagnosis Murder.

Don Gordon was best known for playing tough, hard nosed characters. And it was the sort of role that he was very good at playing. He was Bullitt's partner Delgetti in Bullitt and he played the prisoner Julot in Papillon. He appeared as different gangsters on the classic show The Untouchables. That having been said, playing cops and criminals was not the limit of Don Gordon's talents. He played an unbalanced young man accused of murder in the two-part episode "Mad Man" of the classic TV show The Defenders. He was nominated for an Emmy for the role. In the Twilight Zone episode "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross" he played a pushy and insensitive young man who learns he has the ability to trade personal characteristics with others. In The Last Movie he played Neville Robey, a man convinced he is going to strike it rich from gold in the Andes. Don Gordon had a great amount of talent and could play even the toughest characters with subtlety many other actors lacked.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lorna Gray R.I.P.

Lorna Gray, who was billed as Adrian Booth later in her career, died on April 30 2017 at the age of 99. She was the star of many B-movies for Columbia Pictures and Republic Pictures in the Thirties and Forties.

Lorna Gray was born Virginia Pound in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 26 1917. She won the Miss Grand Rapids beauty pageant and went on to win the Miss Michigan pageant. Afterwards she moved to Chicago as a singer. She later moved to New York City to perform in Ben Yost’s Varsity Coeds in vaudeville. It was a Universal talent scout who sent her on her way to Hollywood. She was signed to Paramount Pictures. At Paramount she spent her time playing uncredited roles in such films as Hold 'Em Navy (1937), The Buccaneer (1938), and The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938).

It was an agent who gave her the name "Lorna Gray". She signed with Columbia Pictures where her first film was an uncredited part in Scandal Street (1938). She received her first major role in Adventure in Sahara (1938). In the late Thirties she appeared in such feature films and serials as The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939), Flying G-Men (1939), The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), Convicted Woman (1940), Bullets for Rustlers (1940), and Deadwood Dick (1940). She also appeared in various short subjects, including "Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise" (1939). "Three Sappy People" (1939),  "You Nazty Spy!" (1940), and "Rockin' Thru the Rockies" (1940) with the Three Stooges and "Pest from the West" with Buster Keaton. Beginning in the late Thirties Lorna Gray moved to Monogram, where she made such films as Up in the Air (1940), Drums of the Desert (1940), and Father Steps Out (1941).

Miss Gray then shifted to Republic Pictures in 1941. There she appeared in various feature films and some rather well-known serials, including Perils of Nyoka (1942), Ridin' Down the Canyon (1942), Captain America (1944), The Girl Who Dared (1944), and Federal Operator 99 (1945). She appeared in So Proudly We Hail! (1943) for Paramount. In 1946 Republic gave her the new name "Adrian Booth" and touted her as a new discovery, even though she had been working since the late Thirties. As Adrian Booth she appeared in such films as Valley of the Zombies (1946), Daughter of Don Q (1946), Out California Way (1946), Along the Oregon Trail (1947), Under Colorado Skies (1947), The Gallant Legion (1948), The Plunderers (1948), Brimstone (1949), Rock Island Trail (1950), Oh! Susanna (1951) and The Sea Hornet (1951). 

Miss Gray retired from film making in 1951. She was an active supporter of the World Adoption International Fund. She later became an ordained minister. For many years she attended film festivals, including those devoted to Westerns and the Three Stooges.

Lorna Gray was certainly beautiful, and she was also a delight to see on the screen. She acted opposite some very famous leading men during her career, including Monte Hale, Boris Karloff, Buster Keaton, Clayton Moore, the Three Stooges, and John Wayne. What is more she held her own with all of them. Miss Gray was always convincing, even when some of her material stretched the bounds of reality (such as some of the serials she made).

I have known a few people who had the opportunity to meet Lorna Gray and even some who corresponded with her. Every one of them had the same things to say about her. She was an incredibly sweet lady, very kind and considerate. She was always grateful to her fans. Lorna Gray may have spent her career in B-movies, but for many she was a true star.