Friday, December 19, 2014

RIP Arthur Gardner

RIP Arthur Gardner. I received word from Producer Rob Word that producer Arthur Gardner died earlier today at age 104. Arthur was an active member of our Algonquin Cowboys group that meets once a month to honor Western films. Arthur was born Arthur Goldberg on June 7, 1910 in Marinette, Wisconsin. He appeared in 1930’s All Quiet on the Western Front. During World War II, Gardner served in the Army Air Forces' First Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California, where he met Jules V. Levy and Arnold Laven. The three formed the Levy-Gardner-Laven production company in 1951. Gardner's producing credits include the television series The Rifleman (1958–1963) and The Big Valley (1965–1969). His feature film credits include 1974's McQ and 1975's Brannigan, both starring John Wayne. He was executive producer on the Euro-western The Hunting Party (1971).

Guess Who I Am

I’m a French actor born in Paris in 1916.
I appeared in over 60 films among which were three Euro-westerns.
I was later a voice actor and French dubbed Raymond Burr in TV’s “Ironside”
I died in France in 2008.

RIP Giorgio Ardisson

Italian actor Giorgio (George) Ardisson has died at his home in Cerveteri, Italy. He was 83.
The actor Giorgio Ardisson had chosen to live in Cerveteri, known for numerous films and for being in the cinema "Zorro the Fox". The debut film of the blond actor, athletic and good looking thanks to Mauro Bolognini, who chose him for a secondary but important role in “Arrangiatevi!”  (You're on Your Own). His athletic prowess and his boldness to make his characters real made him ideal for adventure films and so called peplum-movies, for Spaghetti westerns and, especially, for the cult police/crime films exploiting the reckless adventures of secret agents like James Bond / 007, much in vogue in the early 1960s. George Ardisson, was born in Rocca, Canavese, Turin, Italy 1931 and died at his home in Cerveteri on December 11th.
Ardisson had starred in six Euro-westerns:  "Massacre at Grande Canyon" 1963 (Tully/Rudy Dancer),
"God May Forgive You, Not Me" (1968) (Cjamango McDonald), "A Man Called Amen" (1968) (Amen/Johnny), "Zorro the Fox" (1968) (Riccardo de Villaria/Don Diego/Zorro), Chapaqua’s Gold (1970) (Jack ‘Doc’ Harrison) and "Django Defies Sartana" (1970) (Sartana).

Remembering Edmund Purdom

Edmund Anthony Cutlar Purdom was born on December 19, 1924 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. Purdom was educated at St. Augustine's Abbey School, Ramsgate, Kent, then by the Jesuits at St. Ignatius Grammar School and Welwyn Garden City Grammar School. He began his acting career in 1946 by joining the Northampton Repertory Company, appearing in productions which included “Romeo and Juliet” and Molière's “The Imaginary Invalid”. Followed by two years of military service where he joined the Army Pool of Artists. He then joined the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon.
In 1951–1952, Purdom appeared in small roles with the Laurence Olivier/Vivien Leigh company on Broadway in Shakespeare's “Antony and Cleopatra” and Shaw's “Caesar and Cleopatra” when his good looks brought him to the attention of Hollywood. 20th Century Fox tested him for a role in “My Cousin Rachel” and MGM offered him a small role in “Rhapsody” which he turned down to work at Warner Bros. But Warners lost interest in him.
His appearance in small roles in “Titanic” and “Julius Caesar” (both 1953) led to his being cast in the
leading role opposite Ann Blyth in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical “The Student Prince” in 1954, a part originally intended for Mario Lanza, whose disagreement with director Curtis Bernhardt over the way a certain song was to be sung had led to his dismissal by MGM. (The film was subsequently directed by Richard Thorpe.) Purdom lip-synched to Lanza's singing voice.
At this time, he acquired the nickname "the replacement star" because his other best-remembered role was taking over for Marlon Brando as the title character in “The Egyptian”, 20th Century-Fox's most lavish production of 1954. In the same year, he appeared in another MGM musical, “Athena”, opposite his future wife Linda Christian, Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds. He then played the title role in the biblical epic “The Prodigal”, MGM's most lavish production of 1955. He partnered with Ann Blyth again in “The King's Thief” (1955). After that, his career as a major film star ran out of steam, with the exception of some rare cameo appearances, such as “The Yellow Rolls-Royce” in 1964.
On television he starred as Marco del Monte in ‘Sword of Freedom’ (1958), a swashbuckler made for ITC Entertainment.
Purdom moved to Rome, Italy, where he first played parts in "sword and sandal" epics and lived there for the rest of his life. He continued to work extensively in Italian B-films, on television and as a voice dubbing actor for many years. In 1984, he directed his first and only film, “Don't Open 'Til Christmas”. Purdom appeared in five Euro-westerns: “The Last Ride to Santa Cruz”  1963 as  Rex Kelly; “Charge of the 7th” (1964) as Sergeant Archibald Timothy ‘Sugar’ Patterson; “Shoot to Kill” (1964) as Captain Tom Jameson/Jim James, Father Andrew Jameson; “Gun Shy Piluk” (1968) as Sheriff Roger Terence Everett Brown and “A Wreath for the Bandits” (1968).
Purdom died from heart failure on January 1, 2009, in Rome.
Today we remember Edmund Purdom on what would have been his 90th birthday.

Remembering Alberto Lupo

Alberto Lupo was born Alberto Zoboli on December 19, 1924 in Genoa, Liguria, Italy. Alberto was born into a middle-class family (his father ran The Gaslini Institute Bolzaneto) and he demonstrated from early youth a keen interest in acting, attending at least twenty courses given by Andrew Miano he then took lessons from Lea Zanzi . He studied to be a lawyer to accommodate his father, but continued to nurture his passion for the theater. With his fellow adventurers staged “Small Town” of Thornton Wilder, which proved a great success.
In 1946 Lupo made his stage debut at the Centro Sperimentale University of Genoa Luigi Pirandello, later known as Art Theatre City of Genoa, working there until 1952, where he would recite at the Piccolo Teatro di Milano and the New Theatre, where he played in the 1953-54 season alongside Gino Cervi in “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand.
He proved to be a charming actor, with a significant presence on stage, and an especially sensual voice that stirs the affection of women, he made his cinematic debut in 1954 with a role in the film “Ulysses” by Mario Camerini. He would continue in mostly secondary roles in genre films typical of the era. Perhaps his best interpretation of this period is in the movie “The Hit”, directed in 1960 by Damiano Damiani.
In 1955 he made his first appearance on the small screen, in ‘Little Women’, directed by Anton Giulio Majano. Lupo would appeared in two Euro-westerns: “Zorro in the Court of Spain” (1962), as Miguel “Django Shoots First” (1966) as the town doctor.
His career continued on stage, film and TV until in 1977, at the height of his career he agreed to play in the theater drama “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. During a practice presentation he was hit by a thrombosis of the brain. Rushed to a hospital, he remained in a coma for a long time and when he woke up he found himself voiceless and paralyzed on one side of his body. He had to subsequently undergo a long and complex rehabilitation to recover his voice and motor faculties helped by his wife Lila Rocco.
He returned to television in 1978 reciting the poem If by Rudyard Kipling in a rather weak voice. Then in 1979 he returned fully recovered in ‘An Evening with Alberto Lupo’ and appeared in the film “Action” directed by Tinto Brass. 
He died at the age of 59 on August 13, 1984 in the seaside town of San Felice Circeo.
Today we remember Alberto Lupo on what would have been his 90th birthday.

Remembering Isa Pola

Isa Pola was born Maria Luisa Betti di Montesano on December 19, 1909 in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. At a very young age she developed a passion for acting and film. Beautiful, photogenic, shapely with an intriguing and almost perverse charm, she chose the stage name Isa Pola, and began her career in silent films in 1927 in the film “I martiri d'Italia” directed by Silvio Laurenti Rosa where she appeared in a small role. That was followed with some small appearances in which she seemed destined to impersonate enchantresses and heartthrobs. Isa then performed in her first major role in “Myriam” by Enrico Guazzoni. During this time she also had a stage career with appearances from 1936 to 1958.
It was the advent of sound that gave a turning point to her career playing in 1930, in the first Italian sound film:La canzone dell'amore” directed by Gennaro Righelli. From the movie Isa Pola, along with Dria Paola, one of the first real divas of sound film. With her photogenic, frankness and pleasant voice, she broke the Italian tradition of the languid and mawkish, as well as a bit elderly, divas of the silent screen.
In 1942 Isa appeared as Arriana/Ariene in what many consider the first Spaghetti western: “The Girl of the Golden West.
She became a huge celebrity of the big screen showing great versatility, playing alongside the such stars of the era as Fosco Giachetti, Gino Cervi, Rossano Brazzi, Antonio Centa and playing  roles of wicked and insatiable women, to the honest and virtuous wife, and that of the helpless girl. Memorable was her portrayal of the wife of Emilio Cigoli who cheats on her husband with Adriano Rimoldi in “I bambini ci guardano” directed by Vittorio De Sica in 1943.
Pola was active in film until the end of the 1950s and then her film activity was reduced although she would appear on television. Her final film appearance was in the comedy “Come un uomo e una donna” directed by Domenico Campana in 1970.
She died in Milan, Italy, where she had retired to private life, on December 17, 1984, two days before his seventy-fifth birthday.
Today we remember the star of the first Spaghetti western Isa Pola on what would have been her 105th birthday.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

RIP Virna Lisi

Italian actress Virna Lisi who played memorable roles in European and Hollywood films including 1965 comedy classic “How To Murder Your Wife,” with Jack Lemmon, in which she famously pops out of wedding cake wearing a bikini, and also a masterfully maleficent queen in Patrice Chereau’s “La Reine Margot,” died in Rome on December 18th 2014. She was 78. Born in Ancona, Italy in 1936 as Virna Pieralisi, she began her film career as a teenager in 1953, initially thanks to her stunning looks. Her increasingly important parts in Italian postwar pics include 1957 drama “La Donna Del Giorno,” 1963 crimer “Il Delitto” Dupre, with Alain Delon, and Mario Monicelli’s 1965 Italo comedy classic “Casanova ’70’,” in which she co-starred with Marcello Mastroianni. She appeared as Sister Evangelina in “White Fang” (1973) and “Challenge to White Fang” (1974).