Apr 5, 2006

Is it National Birthday Month or what?

Apparently, God appointed April 5 as Worldwide Day of Classic Cinema Actors' Births, as we celebrate the birthdays of five immensely talented individuals who now reside in the annals of Hollywood history.

Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (1900-1967)

- born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (of course he's a Badger - he's a cool guy)
- attended six different high schools, five of them in the midwest region
- had only one spouse, Louise, during his lifetime; she refused him a divorce despite the fact that he was in a relationship with co-star Katharine Hepburn for almost 27 years.
- made nine films with Hepburn; his last film (both of his life and of his films with Hep) was Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? Spence died less than three weeks after shooting had wrapped.
- has two children with his wife: son John (1924) and daughter Susie (1932).
- Only agreed to play the role of "The Penguin" in the Batman television series if he was allowed "to kill Batman". History shows...he wasn't.
"This mug of mine is as plain as a barn door. Why should people pay thirty-five cents to look at it?"

Eldred Gregory Peck (1916-2003)

- born in La Jolla, California, Peck was an only child whose parents' divorce when he was five years old necessitated that he live with his grandmother.
- studied pre-med at Berkeley, but soon changed his intended studies to acting and enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.
- was married twice: he divorced first wife Greta in 1955 after 3 children and 13 years of marriage; he wed second wife, French journalist Veronique Passani, the same year that his divorce was finalized and remained with her until his death in 2003.
- five children: Jonathan, Stephen, Carey, Tony, and Cecilia.
- His five Oscar nominations ranged from 1946-1963; he took home the gold for his performance as just lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird.
- To Kill A Mockingbird is Peck's favorite of all his films.

"I just do things I really enjoy. I enjoy acting. When I'm driving to the studio, I sing in the car. I love my work and my wife and my kids and my friends. And I think, 'You're a lucky man, Gregory Peck, a damn lucky man.'"

Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis (1908-1989)
- born in Lowell, Massachusetts, to parents who eventually divorced, leaving the care of Bette and her sister to the girls' mother, Ruthie.

- enrolled in John Murray Anderson's dramatic school, from which she soon moved onto Broadway (she debuted there in 1929).

- earned an astounding eleven Oscar nominations, all for Best Actress in a Leading Role; two wins for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938) .

- was the first female preisdent of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

- was married four times, with her longest marriage lasting for ten years (1950-1960). She also has three children.

- claims to have coined the nickname "Oscar" for the Academy Award.

- had a delicious, lifelong rivalry with archnemesis Joan Crawford.

- her epitaph reads, "She did it the hard way."

"Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it's because I'm not a bitch. Maybe that's why (Joan) Crawford always plays ladies."

Two other birthdays today include veteran actor
Melvyn Douglas (1901-1981), and respected writer Robert Bloch (1917-1994), author of the novel on which Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is based.

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