Saturday, August 6, 2016

Joseph Schildkraut

Joseph Schildkraut was not only a major player in the silent era, but also one of the top actors during the early years of television. This true pioneer never got the recognition that he deserved considering he was a major part of many successful movies and classic television.

Even though he won an Oscar for his supporting role in The Life of Emile Zola and an Emmy for a guest starring role in the forgotten court room drama, Sam Benedict, Joseph Schildkraut is probably most remembered today as Anne Frank's father in The Diary of Anne Frank as well as two of the classic Twilight Zone episodes, the haunting, Deaths-Head Revisited and the heart breaking, The Trade-Ins.

His career was far more prolific, however, then just the titles already listed. Starting with the silent era, his performance as Judas in the biblical epic, The King of Kings and his turn as a romantic lead in Orphans of the Storm showed his versatility as well as did some of the sound pictures he made which include Marie Antoinette and The Man in the Iron Mask.

And just as he contributed to the early years of motion pictures, he continued into the new medium of television adding his talents to many of the wonderful anthology shows of that period like Schiltz Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre and The Philip Morris Playhouse.

Joseph Schildkraut was a very good actor. In fact, one of the very best among the talented actors on this site, making him not only my pick for today for being Not Very Famous...but should be, but for yesterday and tomorrow as well.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Marni Nixon

Marni Nixon is most likely the first and last performer profiled on this blog whose biggest claim to fame is that she was a voice double to many of the top movie stars of the time. From Marilyn Monroe to Natalie Wood and Deborah Kerr to Audrey Hepburn, Ms Nixon's singing voice is often the one heard in some of these stars most famous films.

Although Monroe did most of her own singing in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, it was Marni Nixon who was brought in to sing the high notes in the song Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend. Natalie Wood's singing voice was actually recorded for West Side Story, but the producers recorded Nixon as well and it's her voice not Woods that audiences hear in the final picture. And that wonderful singing voice that came out of Audrey Hepburn's mouth in My Fair Lady? You guessed it.

Her first on-screen role was that of Sister Sophia in The Sound of Music, where Julie Andrews did her own singing, but not many non-singing roles followed for this gifted performer. She then returned to live theatre during the 1970's and then ended up on the small screen in 1980 as the host of the Emmy award winning children's show, Boomerang.

Hollywood typecast her as the go to person when needing a beautiful voice, but with her impressive musical theatre and opera resume, her career should have lead to more mainstream fame. The music profession knows and respects her talent and she made a pretty good career out of her musical gifts. And the fact that Marni Nixon isn't known among mainstream audiences is both a curse and a blessing for the Not Very Famous...but should be.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Delroy Lindo

Every major star has at least one dud on their resume. Even without having seen every flop from every box office sensation, it's probably a safe assumption to say that Delroy Lindo did not appear in any of those box office or critical bombs that can sometimes drop an A list actor right down the alphabet.

The reason for this is simple. The casting of Delroy Lindo can often hide the fact that a script or the direction of that script is not that good. The mere presence of this gifted actor not only elevates a scene, but also the actors and film he shares the screen with. Not that he has appeared in a lot of bad films because he really hasn't, he just makes the fair ones better the good ones great.

Like many of the best artists,  Delroy Lindo learned his craft in the theatre, even earning himself a Tony nomination in 1988 for Joe Turner's Come and Gone. However, it wasn't Hollywood that followed with sizable job offers - it was Spike Lee who cast him in major roles in three of the director's many critical successes, Malcom X, Crooklyn and Clockers.

To see Delroy Lindo at his absolute best, one should check out the three Spike Lee movies already mentioned as well as Get Shorty and the TV drama on Satchel Paige, Soul of the Game to truly appreciate the beauty and power that this Not Very Famous actor brings to the big and small screens with everything he does. The entertainment world is so much richer for his many contributions.

Thank you, Mr. Lindo.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood has made her mark in both television and motion pictures and even though she has been nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe, it's a safe bet that the mainstream public is not familiar with her work.

This tends to be the case when an actor is really good. The average movie goer can't seem to wrap their head around the fact that someone who isn't a movie star can actually act rings around someone that is. The Hollywood factory caters to this myth every Oscar season when they will often nominate a good performance from a movie star over a lesser known actor whose film or career have not had the traditional Hollywood hype.

In the end, when the great acting God's have reviewed the finished projects of the working actors of this Earth, it will be Evan Rachel Wood that will have the last laugh. First for her television work in Once and Again and for the HBO mini series, Mildred Pierce, and then for her wonderful film work which includes great performances in Thirteen, The Wrestler, Running with Scissors and Across the Universe.

There's more to Evan Rachel Wood, though, then just these projects listed. Seek out her other projects as well and see for yourself the talent and dedication to her art that she consistently delivers. Then scratch your head along with everyone else familiar with her as to why she is not more well known.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bruce Ritchey

It's rare that a child star makes a smooth transition to adult stardom. Jody Foster and Patty Duke are two of the rare ones. It's usually more common for a young actor to become instantly famous only to see his/her star fade with age. Bruce Ritchey does not fall into either of those categories.

He only had one major film role, that being in the Judy Garland / Burt Lancaster drama, A Child Is Waiting, but what a role it was. As Reuben, the abandoned, mentally challenge boy searching for a parents love, Bruce Ritchey steals the movie away from its stars with his heartbreaking portrayal of a desperate boy caught up in a broken system - a system designed to help, but too old-fashioned to do so.

The movie itself is Not Very Famous...but should be. It takes place in a home for mentally challenged children and all the child performers in the film, with the exception of Bruce Ritchey, were actual victims of mental retardation. Released in 1963 and dated by the standards of today, A Child Is Waiting is a powerful look at the attitudes and beliefs of another era.

Even though it's been done in the past, this blog does not generally post on an actor based on one role, but the performance of Bruce Ritchey in this movie deserves to be seen and talked about. And after viewing, one will wonder as this author did as to what happened to this wonderful actor. So Mr. Ritchey, if you should stumble on to this site, please let us know where you've been. We'd be honored to hear from you.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Warren Berlinger

We all change in appearance in the course of a lifetime, but for an actor, that physical change from teenager to adult can determine the types of parts offered. Case in point - Warren Berlinger.

As a young performer he fit the leading man mold, thrusting him into major roles in teen angst dramas that were the norm of the time. With movies like Blue Demin and Because They're Young, Warren Berlinger appeared to be on the same career path as Dennis Hopper. The difference, though, was that Hopper's performances were cold and intense, while Mr. Berlinger's more charming and lovable.

And that is probably why as this wonderful actor matured, Hollywood saw him more as a supporting type casting him in guest starring roles in mostly television comedies that ranged from The Joey Bishop Show to Love American Style.

This author first noticed Warren Berlinger in a short-lived television show called The Funny Side. That was well over forty years ago and while I don't remember much about the series, I do remember him as a very gifted comic actor. And to recently discover some of his early dramas, it was a no-brainer to include him in this blog dedicated to the real working actors in the entertainment field.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Peter Breck

Baby boomers remember Peter Breck as the hot-headed Nick Barkley from the 1960's television western, The Big Valley, where his character was featured in some of the best episodes of that three year series.

Fans of that show still remember him today, but the rest of the world may not as the majority of his career was spent either as a guest star on other television shows, or a major player in minor films. This is a real shame, for Peter Breck had the talent and the looks to be a major star.

If one should happen to catch his other television credits, it will most likely be followed by a browse through IMDB only to discover the true meaning of the words "working actor". From Have Gun Will Travel to Perry Mason and Mission Impossible to The Fall Guy, Peter Breck time after time delivered quality work, but it wasn't always just in television.

His film work was not as prolific as his television resume, but the quality of his movie performances are as good if not better. Check out Sam Fuller's low budget independent film, Shock Corridor and see for yourself why Peter Breck is Not Very Famous...but should be.