Manny P. here…
During the year, I’ve highlighted the passing of notable character actors who made significant contributions to Hollywood’s Golden Age including Patricia Neal, Meinhardt Raabe, Joe Mantell, Johnny Sheffield, and Kevin McCarthy (among others). Let me take a moment to pay homage to familiar names I previously failed to mention.
JEAN SIMMONS - Not content in playing a simple ingenue, the Britsh-born Jean Simmons challenged her ability (and the audience) by exploring a variety of complex characters.
Her resume includes Great Expectations, Hamlet (Oscar-nominated), The Actress with Spencer Tracy, The Robe, Guys and Dolls (a Golden Globe-winner), Young Bess, The Big Country, Spartacus with Kirk Douglas, Elmer Gantry, and The Happy Ending (Oscar-nominated).
She was also great on television in The Thorn Birds (an Emmy-winner), North & South, and in an interesting re-make of Dark Shadows. Interestingly, her part was first played by Joan Bennett in the original daytime soap opera. On stage, Simmons received wonderful press for her role in A Little Night Music.
FESS PARKER - Best known as Davy Crockett on screen, Fess Parker also played home-spun types in Harvey with James Stewart, Island in the Sky, Them!, and Old Yeller.
In the 1960′s, Parker returned to television as Daniel Boone. For his work with Disney, Parker was honored in December, 2004 with his own tribute window on a facade in the Frontierland section at Disneyland.
CAMMIE KING CONLON - A child actress, Cammie King only appeared in three movies. But, she is well-remembered as Bonnie Blue Butler, the daughter of Rhett and Scarlett, in Gone with the Wind. She was cast in Blondie Meets the Boss. Her voice was also memorable in Bambi.
The actress never worked in another motion picture. Upon reflecting on her cinematic career, Conlon often joked, “I peaked at five years of age.”
Her father-in-law, Judd Conlon, was the musical arranger for many Disney animated classics including Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
JOHN FORSYTHE - His authorative voice in Charlie’s Angels, and starring roles in Bachelor Father and Dynasty, soldified John Forsythe as a television icon.
He also had a modest screen career. Forsythe was featured in Destination Tokyo starring Cary Grant, Northern Pursuit with Errol Flynn, The Trouble with Harry (an Alfred Hitchcock rare comedy), In Cold Blood, Topaz (also directed by Hitchcock), and in …And Justice For All.
John Forsythe was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe numerous times. He won two well-deserved awards for fine performances on television.
Until next time> “never forget”