An A-Z of Actors: P

Please add your own favourites in the comments. As usual, I have tried to avoid the most obvious names.

Following his service in WW2, English star of stage and screen, Donald Pleasance, resumed an acting career that would last until his death, in 1995. Highly acclaimed on stage, including his appearances in the plays of Harold Pinter, he also worked on television, most notably in the famous BBC adaptation of Orwell’s ‘1984’. His film career took off in earnest with his role in ‘Look Back In Anger'(1959), opposite Richard Burton. His sinister looks and bald head made him popular for casting in horror films too, including ‘The Flesh and The Fiends’ (1960). In 1963, three films made him a big name in cinema, and guaranteed he would continue to be noticed. ‘The Great Escape’, ‘Dr Crippen’, and ‘The Caretaker’. After that, he never stopped working, relishing roles like Blofeld, in ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967), and Thomas Cromwell in ‘Henry VIII’ (1972). In 1978, he appeared as Dr Loomis in John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’, and featured in the later sequels too.

American Chazz Palminteri is a playwright, screenwriter and producer, as well as acting in some memorable roles. His name might not bring his face to mind, but if you have seen any of the following films, I am sure you will remember him. ‘A Bronx Tale’ (1993), where he co-starred opposite Robert De Niro. This was based on Palminteri’s own play of the same name. ‘Bullets Over Broadway’ (1994) again based on his own play, directed by Woody Allen, and starring John Cusack. The superb ‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995) with Chazz in the role of the FBI agent, Dave Kujan. David Lynch’s film, ‘Mulholland Falls’ (1996), and ‘Analyze This’ (1999), again with Robert De Niro. As well as his film work Chazz has enjoyed a lucrative TV career, and recently appeared in the story of the Kray twins, ‘Legend’ (2015), with Tom Hardy.

Canadian actor Barry Pepper is another character actor whose name you may not be familiar with. But if you have seen some or all of the films listed, then I am once again sure you will remember his face. Although he has played a variety of roles, he may be best known for his portrayal of soldiers, in war films. In ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998), he was the left-handed sniper, Private Jackson. In ‘We were Soldiers’ (2002), he appeared as Joe Galloway, and in ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ (2006) he had the role of Sgt Strank. But his talents extended past military roles, with his convincing performance as a prison guard, in ‘The Green Mile’ (1999), and as Jack, in ‘Broken City’ (2013). He may be destined to never be a big-name star, but his work is solid, and never less than reliable.

Michelle Pfeiffer is not only undeniably good to look at, but also has acting talents in many genres. She began working in 1978, with minor roles on TV and in films, before getting her big break in ‘Grease 2’ (1982). The following year, she appeared as the self-destructive Elvira in ‘Scarface’, followed by three more films until her next standout role, in ‘The Witches Of Eastwick’ (1987). She also demonstrated great flair for historical roles in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ (1988), and ‘The Age of Innocence’ (1993). Michelle added singing to her talents, performing as the lounge singer Susie Diamond’ in ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys’ (1989), opposite the brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges. And who can forget her deliciously sultry Catwoman, in’Batman Returns (1992)? She continues to work to this day, with her latest film due for release in 2019.

My last choice today is the Welsh actor, Jonathan Pryce. As well as winning numerous awards for his stage performances, and much acclaim for TV work too, Pryce has appeared in numerous films, in a great variety of roles. His first notable film role was in the surreal film from Terry Gilliam, ‘Brazil’ (1985), though I was greatly impressed by his starring role one year before that, in the British film ‘The Ploughman’s Lunch’, directed by Richard Eyre. He won a (Spanish Film Festival) best actor award for ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ in (1992), and went on to win two more awards for his role as Lytton Strachey, in the biopic ‘Carrington’ (1995). Almost never out of the limelight, he starred in ‘Evita’ (1996), ‘Regneration'(1997), and the Bond film, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (1997). Since then, he has appeared in more than thirty other films, including ‘The Pirates Of The Caribbean’ franchise, as well as continuing to star in TV dramas in Britain, and in the theatre too.

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An A-Z of Actors: O

A tricky letter, as not that many acting surnames start with ‘O’. I will limit myself to just three selections, to give some scope for your own choices.

A British stage, film, and television actor, Clive Owen is well known on both sides of The Atlantic. Rising to stardom on British TV in ‘The Chancer’, following an early stage career at The Young Vic, in London. Critical acclaim followed a lead role in Stephen Poliakoff’s film, ‘Close My Eyes’ (1991), and he went on to make an impact in ‘Gosford Park’ (2001). More mainstream roles followed, including parts in ‘The Bourne Identity’ (2002), and ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ (2003). Since then, his career has been on a roll, starring in ‘King Arthur’ (2004), ‘Closer’ (2004), ‘Sin City’ (2005), and ‘Inside man’ (2006). That same year, he received great reviews for his role in ‘Children of Men’, and the following year, starred in both ‘Shoot Em Up’, and ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’. Since then, he has made 18 more films, with the most recent due to be released in 2019.

Irish-born actress Maureen O’Hara started out as a singer and amateur actress, in her home city of Dublin. In 1937, she was offered a contract by a production company headed by Charles Laughton, and embarked on a film and television career that lasted until 2010. As well as working with Laughton in ‘The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’ (1939), she also made five films for John Ford, including ‘How Green Was My Valley’ (1941), and ‘The Quiet Man’ (1952), starring opposite John Wayne. Other successes included the pirate epic, ‘The Black Swan’ (1942), ‘Miracle On 34th Street’ (1947), and ‘Our Man In Havana’ (1959). She died in 2015, aged 95.

My last choice today, is Londoner Gary Oldman. He has worked on stage, screen and TV since 1979, getting his film break in Mike Leigh’s ‘Meantime’, in 1983. He continued to work with The Royal Shakespeare Company, but got additional attention for his film roles in ‘Sid And Nancy’ (1986), and ‘Prick Up Your Ears (1987), a biopic of playwright Joe Orton. He made the transition to playing American characters, with a role in ‘State Of Grace’ (1990), followed by his outstanding performance as Lee Harvey Oswald, in Oliver Stone’s film, ‘JFK’ (1991). Villainous roles suit him well too, and he played the bad guy in ‘True Romance’ (1993), ‘Leon’ (1994), and ‘The Fifth Element’ (1997). As well as roles in the Harry Potter films, and The Dark Knight Batman films, he most recently won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill, in ‘The Darkest Hour’ (2017).

Significant Songs (189)

Perfect

I think of this as a one-hit wonder, as I can never recall if Fairground Attraction had another hit, or if I ever listened to any more of their songs. However, vocalist Eddi Reader gained a large fan base, which she took into a solo career that continues to this day. As well as being a singer songwriter, Eddi branched out into acting, and also became known for her activity on the political scene in Scotland. In 2006 she received the M.B.E., for her services to the arts.

But I digress.

Back in 1988, songs like this one were not my thing at all. It was number one in the charts, and held placings in the top twenty for three months after that. It was also the winner of the Brit Award for Best Single, in 1989. I managed to ignore it for a while, but constant radio plays finally drove it into my head, where it has stayed ever since. When I hear it again now, I actually like it.

A Fictional Reblog: Alec

I have now published over 100 stories on this blog, and I recently looked back to some of my early efforts, that most of you will not have seen. I decided to reblog some of them, to see if they have any appeal, and present them to a larger audience in the process. A few of you who have been following this blog from the start will know them, so to you, I apologise for the repetition.

Alec
A fictional story of 2821 words. From 2013

It was the first day of the Summer holidays, no more school for six weeks. To Alec, they had seemed a long time coming, since moving down here, the previous August, had pretty much robbed him of the last ones. He had plans, he knew just how he would spend his time, and he had passed a long, boring Spring in preparation.

The new school was so-so. The second year of his secondary education had been a lot better than the first, anyway. He had grown tall since his twelfth birthday, springing up above his peers, and filling out too. He was already taller than everyone in his year, and Mum said, if he kept growing, he could end up playing basketball. Since moving south from Scotland, he had preferred the better weather, and the chance to get out more. It had brought some problems as well though. The boys at school had tried to tease him, first about his accent, then about his name. They always pretended not to understand what he said, and would keep asking him to repeat himself. It took a while, but he eventually realised that they were winding him up, then he just stopped bothering. The teachers weren’t much better, always asking him to “say that again please Alec.” Most of them were not from around here anyway, so you think that they would know better. Then they kept getting his name wrong. The other boys all called him Alex, and didn’t even seem to understand that there was a name Alec. The teachers too, they constantly got it wrong, also referring to him as Alex, when they bothered to talk to him at all. New boys entering school after the first year were just trouble to them, seemingly, and they acted as if he didn’t exist, most of the time. He had started off by explaining that Alex was short for Alexander, that his name was Alec, and that was totally different. He told them that it meant Defender of the People, and was an old Scottish name, that he was proud to bear. He soon gave up, as it just seemed to make them call him Alex even more. Nobody ever told him the truth, that it was just a corrupted abbreviation of Alexander. Because nobody really knew, or cared.

Still, being big meant that he was never bullied, and ensured that any name-calling and resentment was mostly done behind his back, or out of earshot. Besides, his Dad was a soldier, and he was serving in Afghanistan, so if anyone went too far, they would have him to deal with. If he ever came home. Alec didn’t bother with team games much either. The sports teacher asked him to play in most teams, excited that his size would give those teams an edge. Alec declined, happy to be a loner, not a part of any team, group, or gang. He had his own agenda, and it involved being alone. He coasted through the subjects, always in the middle of the class when it came to performance; never too smart, and definitely not stupid. His reports were always the same. Failure to engage, does not contribute much, lacks interaction with others, blah blah blah. They couldn’t fault him though, as he always got at least a C, and often a B. He managed to get by without being noticed too much. Eventually, they all forgot about him, and that suited Alec down to the ground.

When Dad’s regiment was amalgamated, and they had to move to the south, his parents had sat him down, and explained the reasons for the move. Alec didn’t really care, one place was much like another to him, and he had nothing to regret leaving behind in Scotland. Dad was away much of the time, and even when he was at home, he was down the pub, or visiting his Army mates somewhere. Mum said he was better off in Afghanistan, and seemed to treat that place more like home. Alec found it on his globe lamp once, but it didn’t mean much to him. It was near India, he remembered that at least. Soon after the move last summer, Dad was away again, for more training somewhere, and then back abroad. Mum got a job in a bar in the town. They had argued about that, as it meant leaving Alec from the time he got in from school, until well past eleven. Mum had won though. She needed to be out, she said, and wanted some life to be around, and people to talk to. For his part, Alec couldn’t care less; he had nothing to say to her anyway. He didn’t like the programmes she watched, and even if she was at home, as she was most weekends, he spent most of the time in his room. She was always on the phone, talking to her friends and family back in Scotland, or to people around here, that he didn’t know.

Alec liked cars. There was hardly anything to do with cars that he didn’t know about. He had all his Dad’s old car magazines, and spent hours on his ageing laptop, looking at car company sites, and browsing photos, or reading technical information. For someone of his age, who had never so much as turned an ignition key, he was an expert in the subject. His room was a tribute to the car. Posters adorned every available inch of wall space, and model cars were displayed wherever one could be stood. He also knew about light vans, and had recently started to do some research into trucks, thinking he might like to be a truck driver one day. His earlier ambition, of being a car salesman, would involve too much contact with people, and he was never that comfortable with strangers. What could be better than to spend your life on the main roads of Europe, watching all the cars go by, from the comfortable high cab of a giant truck, he thought.

One of the things that he liked best about their new house, was that it was very close to the motorway. Many would consider that a disadvantage, living within range of the main route from north to south, with the constant drone of the traffic, day and night. Not Alec. For him, it was an unexpected bonus of the move. Less than a five minute walk from his front door, was a bridge across all the lanes, taking traffic off the motorway, towards the sleepy market town that they now called home. A bit further on, was the pedestrian bridge, that allowed safe crossing for cyclists, dog walkers, and schoolchildren, who were the main users of this out of the way structure. Both these vantage points offered him an uninterrupted view of the thing he liked best, motor vehicles. He had got the notebooks ready, and a selection of coloured marker pens too. Lists had been made; his ten favourite cars, and five favourite trucks. Alec would spend his days watching the motorway, noting the appearance of those favourites, and adding their colours too. He would soon have a record of how many of each, and in what colour, passed under his view, and what time they were seen as well.  Later, back home in his room, he could transfer this information to his laptop, and add the results to his already extensive research.

Into the large sports bag, he placed the notebooks and pens, together with two bottles of water, a packet of biscuits, and a banana. He had chosen his largest bag, so that there was room for a cushion to fit in, as he would need something to sit on. Mum was still sleeping when he left. She had got home late from work last night, and he had heard her in the bathroom, well after midnight. Outside in the close, he saw two boys he knew vaguely from school, Jared and Mark. They were setting up a long plank in the road, propping it on some concrete blocks, to create a ramp. Their intention was to ride their BMX bikes up the ramp, and jump them off the raised end. In the dead-end close, there would be little danger from traffic, and most of the residents would soon be out at work anyway. They waved to him as he closed the door, possibly inviting him to watch. He didn’t know for sure, as he couldn’t hear what they said. It would have had no interest for him anyway, as it seemed a pointless activity.

The first day at the bridge was relatively unproductive. His favourite cars did not appear, though his best trucks were in abundance. When he had needed to pee, he sloped off into the nearby woodland. The biscuits were just enough to keep him going, and he didn’t bother with the banana, but he considered the addition of a sandwich for tomorrow. The half term holidays generated more traffic than normal, but most of it was made up of caravans, people carriers, and other boring family rides. There were even loads of motor homes, the ultimate slugs. Dad called caravans snails; hard shells containing soft life within. He got angry when they held him up on the road, and he would never consider such a holiday remotely relaxing. Motor caravans were even worse. Home on the road, no escape. What was the point of those?

That night, Alec was disappointed. Nine hours on the bridge, and not a single M5, Impreza, or S4; none of the best cars available in the UK. He had watched, as streams of Picassos, Meganes, and Ford S-max swept by, tantalisingly close to his position. There had been lots of Renault trucks, their suspension pumping at speed, and the comfortable cabs looking so inviting. But none of the ‘real’ cars, the serious motors. What was going on? Was the half term foiling his plans? He would need more time, extra days to continue his studies. Back tomorrow then.

The next morning, and Mum was once again asleep. Alec had thought that he had heard a man’s voice during the night. It had sounded aggressive, and insistent. Perhaps it was just a dream though. There was no milk for cereal, so he had the banana he didn’t eat yesterday. He got two Ribena cartons from the cupboard, and some chocolate biscuits from the ‘fridge, before making a sandwich to take along, filled with strawberry jam. Once outside, there was no sign of Jared or Mark. They had left their ramp from the previous day, possibly hoping to be able to use it again. Alec walked over to the construction. Looking around furtively, he could see nobody about, the place was still sleepy at that time of day. He picked up the smallest concrete block, and secreted it into his large bag. It was a tight fit, and heavier than he expected. Still, they wouldn’t be able to play their stupid ramp game today, he had seen to that.

The morning was slightly more productive. Two Imprezas, both cobalt blue, a popular colour, and a real treat, and a Honda NSX 200 in black, a really rare find in England. He had eaten the sandwich by nine-thirty, and had some of the biscuits at eleven o’ clock, with the second carton of Ribena. By now, he was getting bored, and nothing much was happening. The road seemed to be chock full of boring MPV’s, and countless caravans, heading to the coastal resorts. The cushion was not doing enough to make sitting comfortable, and his notebooks were all but blank. He emptied his bag, and perused the contents.

Darren Osbourne had been driving for most of the day. His wife Sandra was a terminal nag, and his kids Ellen and Jodie were equally annoying, moaning and crying in turn. The Scenic was past its best, and probably needed a service, but Darren hadn’t been able to afford it, on top of the cost of the holiday. One week in Cornwall, at a prepared campsite. Hardly the luxury he had once imagined, when he and Sandra had married, at 21. Ten years later, two squalling daughters, and a wife older than her years, and Darren had, quite frankly, had enough. In truth, he would sooner be at work still, in the Council Offices of their Northern town. At least there, he would have peace and quiet. After an expensive breakfast stop at the motorway services, he estimated that they had around two hours to go, before they got to their destination. The road was very busy, and Darren kept to the middle lane, so as not to get trapped by any large trucks. The girls argued constantly, the sound issuing from the from the back seat drove Darren to distraction, but he didn’t let on. Anything for a quiet life. Sandra was oblivious, reading her stupid celebrity magazine, the lives of vacuous people presented as entertainment.

Alec rummaged in his bag for the last of the biscuits. He had taken the small block of concrete out, and placed it next to the wire fencing of the bridge. The notebooks and pens were neatly stacked next to the cushion, and the empty drinks cartons were there too, as he would take them home. He hated litter, and people who littered. The last few biscuits were little more than crumbs at the bottom, but he scooped them out and ate them all the same. His gaze returned to the endless streams of traffic. Families mostly still, streaming towards the coast, hoping to change their dull lives, with one week away, at somewhere ultimately disappointing. Alec felt the rough edges, and the weight of the block in his hands. It was really heavy, at least for some people, but he was strong, and could lift it with ease. He rested it on the rail of the bridge fencing, allowing the stone to take a natural balance under his hand. He reduced control, first down to three fingers, then two, until he supported the whole thing with one determined digit. He noticed a Renault Scenic some way off in the middle lane. It was a horrible coffee colour, a brown with some silly exotic name, ‘Aztec Bronze’ or something similar. Alec couldn’t understand why anyone would ever buy such a boring car, and then choose one of the worst colours to cover it. He looked down at his quivering finger.

The impact was enormous. The windscreen was gone in a second; air rushing in, tiny glass fragments flying everywhere. Darren’s first reaction was to brake hard, the hardest he had ever braked in his life. The panel van behind slammed into the Scenic as it braked, spinning the smaller vehicle. Inside his car, Darren couldn’t think, for the screams coming from his children. They were unnaturally piercing, like something not human. As his car whirled around, he looked across at Sandra. She seemed to be wearing some sort of hat, or mask. There was something else, where her face had been, but it was impossible to take in, in these few moments, and still spinning at great speed. When his car stopped moving, Darren found himself looking back up the motorway he had been driving on, except he was facing in the wrong direction. The Estonian lorry driver had no chance, it all happened so fast. His huge truck, towing an additional trailer, was never going to stop in time. It went straight into the front of the Scenic, still braking, but still travelling at almost forty miles an hour. Enno sat shaking in his cab, listening to car after car impacting the one in front, and feeling the bumps as vehicles drove into his skewed trailer. Some people were already out of their cars, either sitting on the verges, or standing dazed in the wreckage. Enno didn’t want to get out yet. He didn’t want to look at the front of his truck, as he was dreading what he would see there.

In all the confusion, nobody had glanced up at the pedestrian bridge. They were too busy, avoiding more cars, getting out of wrecked vehicles, or trying to help their families. Even if someone had looked up, they would not have thought it unusual, to see a smart-looking young man walking across, clutching a sports bag.

Not feeling it

Summer is here in Beetley. Humid days, buffeted by winds from Storm Hector, and close nights finding me throwing off the duvet to cool down. This is the time to get things done, with the absence of the familiar rain giving me a short window for ‘jobs’. I should be outside all day, not just walking with Ollie, crippled with worse than usual hay fever and itching, trying to avoid the mud still lurking in the shaded areas of Hoe Rough.

We had what passes for excitement here over the past three days. A bull escaped from a nearby field, finding its way onto the open area of Beetley Meadows. Unsure of its location, it hid in the trees at the edge, occasionally running out into the nearby long grass, to warn off passing walkers and dog owners. Everyone was on guard against the potentially rampaging bovine, and someone finally found a number to contact the possible owner of the ‘Beetley Beast’. The Police were also contacted, as it was an issue of public safety. But they found a convenient loophole to avoid action. Beetley Meadows is ‘private land’ (owned by the Parish Council), so not their problem. I hope if an escaped serial killer is in the area, he doesn’t decide to seek refuge there. With the Police not being able to take steps to protect the public on ‘private land’, there could be a local bloodbath.

Back to those jobs I am trying to avoid. The grass on the lawn has grown again, and is now as high as that proverbial ‘elephant’s eye’, fortunately absent a ‘bright golden haze’. The recently weeded patio cracks are full of weeds again already, and I am convinced I can hear a dandelion laughing…
The guttering has two cracks that need repairing with sealant, and the strong winds have filled those gutters with debris from the oak trees above.
Lots to be done, and now’s the time to do it!

But I am not feeling it. Not at all.

Significant Songs (188)

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

It could be argued that the sign of a great song is how many other artists want to cover it. In 1967, this song was released by The Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli on lead vocal. A big ballad with an old fashioned arrangement, unusual even at that time. Nonetheless, I liked it immediately, and the catchy chorus was an immediate sing-a-long moment.

To say the song has endured for fifty-one years would be an understatement. It has been covered by over 200 other singers, the last one as recently as 2016. Popular on film soundtracks, most notably ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978), and frequently used whole or in part by the makers of TV commercials, it just keeps going. Here is the original, followed by the same song used in Cimino’s film.

All together now…

An A-Z of Actors: N

Don’t forget, it is surnames beginning with ‘N’. Please add your own favourites in the comments. As usual, I have mostly avoided the most popular choices.

Edward Norton is an American actor, writer, and director who always seems to take his work very seriously, delivering memorable performances as a result. Still under 50, his career has already made him a household name, and a familiar face on cinema screens. He became known to most of us in 1996, when he appeared in three films that year, including a remarkable performance in ‘Primal Fear’, acting Richard Gere off the screen. Two years later, another outstanding role in ‘American History X’ cemented his talent in my mind, and I began to look for his next work. ‘Fight Club’ (1999) made him a star, and this was followed by ‘The Score’ (2001), then ‘Frida’ and ‘Red Dragon’, both in 2002. He has not stopped working since, and has been nominated for numerous awards along the way. Other notable roles include ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (2005), and ‘The Illusionist’ (2006).

British actor Jeremy Northam has had a long career on stage, television, and screen, often featuring in historical dramas, and adaptations of classics. He played a marvellous Captain Stanhope, in ‘Journey’s End’ (1988), and featured in the 1992 remake of ‘Wuthering Heights’. Hollywood beckoned, and he starred opposite Sandra Bullock, as the heartless villain, in ‘The Net’ (1995). This was followed by parts in ‘Mimic’ and ‘Amistad, both in 1997, before his superb portrayal of Sir Robert Morton, in the remake of ‘The Winslow Boy’, in 1999. In 2001, he shone as Ivor Novello, in ‘Gosford Park’, later delivering a powerful Thomas More, in the long running TV serial, ‘The Tudors’. Most recently, he appeared in the hit series ‘The Crown’, playing former Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.

American Nick Nolte (double ‘N’!) is a man known for playing tough, no-nonsense roles. Coming to notice in 1970, in the popular TV series, ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’, he soon moved into mainstream films, starring alongside the distinguished Robert Shaw, in ‘The Deep’ (1977). Since then, his gravel-like voice and rugged appearance have guaranteed him no end of work, with starring roles in ’48 Hours’ (1982), ‘Under Fire’ (1983), and ‘Down And Out In Beverley Hills’ (1986). The corrupt cop in ‘Q&A’ (1990) was one of the high spots of his long career, and his powerful portrayal of Lt Col Tall in ‘The Thin Red Line’ (1998) was outstanding, and never to be forgotten. Since then, he has appeared in more than forty other films. Not always great films, admittedly, but he is never less than a real presence on screen.

English actor Robert Newton was a hard-drinking, hard-living star of stage and screen, who started out on stage in 1921. After an early career in London’s West End, he began working in films, with the famous director Alexander Korda. At that time, he was usually a featured supporting actor, with roles in ‘Jamaica Inn’ (1939), ‘Hell’s Cargo’ (1939), and ‘Gaslight’ (1940). After serving in WW2, he returned to acting, starring in the wonderful ‘This Happy Breed’ (1944), directed by David Lean, and in Olivier’s Henry V, also 1944. In 1948, he showed amazing power as Bill Sykes, in Lean’s film adaptation of ‘Oliver Twist’. A move to Hollywood gave him the role of Long John Silver, in Disney’s 1950 production of ‘Treasure Island’, and he claimed that character for all time. He died in 1956, aged just 50, as a result of his excessive lifestyle.

My last choice today is the attractive, and often underrated, Kim Novak. She began as a ‘starlet’ in 1954, with her obvious talent soon projecting her into starring roles opposite some of the most famous lead actors of the day. In the film ‘Picnic’ (1995), she starred with William Holden, and won a Golden Globe for her performance, going on to be one of the best things in the Frank Sinatra film, ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’, that same year. She starred with Sinatra again, in the musical ‘Pal Joey’ (1957), before her role with James Stewart, in Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’, the following year. She delighted in her lighthearted role as a witch, in ‘Bell, Book, and Candle’ (1958), again opposite James Stewart. However, by the late 1960s, she had become disillusioned with fame, and though she still occasionally appeared in films, she lived a mostly secluded life, raising horses on her farm. She is still alive, now aged 85.