Before I begin, I would like to thank the Classic Film and TV Café for hosting this wonderful, very interesting blogathon!
This is my first ever blogathon and I’m quite excited about it, I’ve been wanting to do one for a while. The topic for this specific blogathon is to list my five favorite movie stars and write about what I adore about them, so, without further ado, I present to you my five favorites classic Hollywood actors/actress of the golden age of Hollywood.
Number 5: Doris Day
It’s no wonder that the band Wham! wrote a lyric in their song Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go about her.
Doris Day is one of those classic Hollywood icons that everyone loves and no one hates- I mean, how could you hate her? Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff was born on April 3rd, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio to parents Alma Sophia and William Joseph Kappelhoff.
Doris started her career at a young age. Her mother put her in singing lessons which eventually landed her first singing gig on a radio program named Carlin’s Carnival sometime in the early 40s. This is where jazz musician Barney Rapp first heard her and quickly called her up to come audition for his jazz band. Fortunately for Day, she got the job.
The next few years Doris would spend her days traveling with bandleaders like Jimmy James, Bob Crosby, and Les Brown. While working with the Les Brown Band, she caught the eye of songwriter Sammy Cahn who recommended her for the starring role in Michael Curtiz’s film, Romance on the High Seas. This is where Doris started her movie career that would last around 20 years and includes 43 movies, with memorable ones such as The Man Who Knew Too Much, Please Don’ Eat the Daisies, and Lover Come Back.
Doris Day is the reason I fell in love with classic movies, Pillow Talk was one of the first films from Doris that I ever watched, after that- I was obsessed. Her warm and radiant presence on screen kept me coming back for more. The 1960s alone were a goldmine for great Doris Day movies. I can only hope that you find a classic Hollywood actress that you love as much as I love Doris Day.
Film recommendations: Pillow Talk, Calamity Jane, Love Me or Leave Me, Move Over Darling, Send Me No Flowers.
Number 4: Fred Astaire
Ahhhh, Fred Astaire. Where would dancing in movies be without you?
This suave hoofer was born in Omaha, Nebraska as Fred Austerlitz on May 10th 1899. Much like Doris Day, Fred got started quite early, dancing with his sister Adele in several shows as a partnership at the age of 6.
By 1918 Fred quickly outgrew the pair and eventually his sister. Despite this obvious talent disparity, the two continued to tour, performing in London in shows like The Bunch and Judy, Lady Be Good, Funny Face, and an early version of The Band Wagon from 1922 through 1931.
Hoping to give the partnership one last shot, the siblings took their act to Hollywood for a screen test- only to be rejected by Paramount Pictures. The pair split in 1932. Adele went on to marry and settle down in a comfortable home life, while Fred honed his craft and continue to work on Broadway. Aspiring to expand his range, Astaire once again went to Hollywood to try his luck, and boy was he lucky.
After screen testing for RKO Pictures, David O Selznick decided to sign Astaire to a contract and the rest was history…
Astaire would go on to become one of the most memorable and recognizable on-screen dancers of the 20th Century. Starring in 8 films alongside Ginger Rogers and dancing with some of the most gorgeous leading ladies of his lifetime, Fred Astaire was a force to be reckoned with.
I love Fred for this very reason. No matter what movie he was in, you could guarantee you’ll have a great cinematic experience. His work ethic was unparalleled and it showed in his dance numbers.
For that reason, I have him on the number 4 spot on this list.
Film Recommendations: Funny Face, Silk Stockings, The Barkleys of Broadway, The Band Wagon, You Were Never the Lovelier.
Number 3: Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman is one of those actresses that you wish were still alive today. In her prime, she made some remarkable movies that I still rewatch to this day. I only wished she could’ve made more…
Ingrid was born Stockholm, Sweden on August 29th, 1915 to parents Justus Bergman and Frieda Adler. As a child, she wanted to become an opera singer, so she took singing lessons for 3 years. Even though she longed to become an opera singer, she always knew should become an actress. Later in her teen years, Ingrid received a scholarship to the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm. She accepted and quickly got a part in the school’s new play Ett Brott (translated in English to A Crime.)
The thing is, this was completely violating school procedure. In order to star in a play, you’d have to be in your 3rd year of studies, but alas, Ingrid broke that rule.
That summer, Ingrid was hired for her first movie role, which ultimately saw her drop out of University. Her first role after dropping out of college was a tiny part in the film, Munkbrogreven. She continued her career in Sweden, acting in two more films before she got her big break.
In 1939 she got the leading role in the movie in David O Selznick‘s romantic-drama Intermezzo (a lovely film, by the way.) Selznick brought her to America for this specifically to star alongside Leslie Howard. At first, Ingrid didn’t believe that the American audiences would be accepting of her. But, she recanted and did the movie anyway, only to quickly to return to Sweden with her then-husband Petter Lindstrom and her daughter Pia.
It was only when Intermezzo was a hit that Ingrid returned to America to continue her career which included fantastic films like: Casablanca, Anastasia, and Murder on The Orient Express.
Film Recommendations: Notorious, Spellbound, Gaslight, Goodbye Again, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Number 2: Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra. What more can I say? Probably the most influential pop figure from the 20th century we’ve ever had. Singer. Actor. Influencer. Womanizer.
Need I say more?
Compared to the rest of the stars on this list, by the time Frank started his movie career, he was already a full-fledged pop crooner. In the early 40s, he made his film debut in Las Vegas Nights, where he had an uncredited cameo as a nightclub singer. In 1943, he had another cameo in the film Reveille with Beverly before getting a starring role in the movie Anchors Aweigh co-starring Gene Kelly. Sinatra’s fame quadrupled in size when he started his acting career and from that point on, it would only continue to get bigger.
I love Sinatra’s acting career. It has a lot of different genres and themes where Frank was able to show that he could take on a multitude of different roles. From movies like Take Me Out to The Ball Game, It Happened in Brooklyn and eventually winning an Oscar for From Here to Eternity, Sinatra’s acting career is almost as good as his singing one- almost.
Film Recommendations: On the Town, The Man With the Golden Arm, The Tender Trap, Guys and Dolls, High Society, Pal Joey, Ocean’s 11
Number 1: Kim Novak
Sooooo, Kim Novak. A blonde bombshell whose career isn’t as appreciated as some of her fellow actresses of that decade. A fairly tragic story if you ask me…
Kim Novak was born Marilyn Pauline Novak on February 13th, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. One summer while Kim was modeling cross country for a refrigerator company at a trade show in Los Angeles, she and a friend decided to audition as extras for the Jane Russell film The French Line and the RKO picture Son of Sinbad. This is where she was spotted by an agent who signed her to a contract to Columbia Pictures.
It was here that the studio tried to mold Kim into something she wasn’t comfortable with (aka another Marilyn Monroe.) Novak would make her film debut in the film noir Pushover in 1954 then quickly follow that up with 5 Against the House in 1955. Her career would finally pick up when she starred in Picnic in 1955. This movie would springboard her into more film roles like The Man With The Golden Arm, Vertigo, and Bell Book and Candle.
You know, sometimes I feel really bad for her. I mean, she deserved way more then what she got during her career. She has always been overlooked for her acting ability solely on the fact that she happened to be in the same era of the ‘blonde bombshell.’ The studio tried to mold her into something she wasn’t and for that, I truly believed her career suffered. Luckily for the limited amount of movie she did do, hold up just perfectly.
So, those are my top 5, I’m excited to see what everyone else put on their list!