2010 Year in Review: Film and Television
By: Legacy Staff
7 years ago
When Barbara Billingsley died, most obituaries focused on her role as iconic TV supermom June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver. But Billingsley had a decade of work behind her before she started running the Cleaver household in 1957, and she would go on to have some memorable late-career roles. MGM signed her to a contract in 1945, and the next several years would see her appearing in a host of uncredited roles playing parts like “Party Guest,” “Department Store Clerk” or “Blonde With Hives.” Her first credited role on the big screen was in director Cy Endfield’s The Argyle Secrets (1948). Her biggest movie role would come with The Careless Years (1957), co-starring Dean Stockwell and Natalie Trundy. Though Leave it To Beaver ended in 1963, it appeared so frequently in syndication that Billingsley had difficulty escaping her image as the sweet 1950s matron. With trouble getting other roles, she took time out of her career to travel the world. Her second wind came when producers took comedic advantage of her wholesome persona to cast her as a jive-talking passenger in the 1982 hit Airplane!. She died on October 16, 2010 at the age of 94.
Tom Bosley was one of America’s most beloved TV dads for his role as Howard Cunningham in the long-running Happy Days, and later as a father of a different sort in the Father Dowling series. Prior to landing his defining role, he’d already enjoyed a rich career on Broadway, winning a Tony in his debut as colorful New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1959’s Fiorello!, a role he played 800 times without missing a single performance. He appeared in a number of TV shows in the '50s and '60s, including include Car 54, Where Are You?, Naked City, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Get Smart, The Virginian, The Mod Squad, The Debbie Reynolds Show, The Bill Cosby Show, Bonanza, Bewitched and Mission Impossible. Bosley also enjoyed a successful movie career, making his big-screen debut opposite Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen in Love and the Proper Stranger. But he recognized that it was his paternal role on the nostalgic Happy Days that would define him, telling an interviewer, “My wife says my tombstone will read, ‘Here lies Mr. C, who used to be Mr. B.’” Bosley died on October 19, 2010, at the age of 83.
Dino De Laurentiis – During a prolific career that included groundbreaking Italian neorealist films, spaghetti Westerns, literary epics, B-movie camp classics, low-budget horror films, big-budget action films and cutting-edge dramas, there was virtually no genre he shied away from. Dino De Laurentiis, as comfortable in the grindhouse as the arthouse, had a hand in making nearly 150 movies during a career that spanned over six decades. Some of his most notable films include La Strada, Barbarella, The Shootist, Three Days of the Condor and Blue Velvet. He also was behind a number of Stephen King adaptations, including The Dead Zone and Maximum Overdrive, and gave future California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger his 1982 big screen breakthrough with Conan the Barbarian. Dino De Laurentiis died on November 10, 2010, at the age of 88.
Blake Edwards got his start in radio, collaborating with Orson Welles in his infamous War of the Worlds broadcast before being hired to write scripts for hardboiled detective shows. He parlayed this into TV work, his biggest success being Peter Gunn, which aired 114 episodes on ABC between 1958 and 1961. He also directed the well-received thriller Experiment in Terror and later the multiple Oscar winning The Days of Wine and Roses, one of the first Hollywood films to deal frankly with the theme of alcoholism (an issue Edwards himself struggled with at one point in his life). But he remains chiefly known for his comedy work, starting with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which also boasted a soundtrack with his longtime collaborator Henry Mancini. Edwards was also responsible for the Pink Panther franchise and the film 10, and in 2004 received an honorary Oscar for his work. Blake Edwards died on December 15, 2010 at the age of 88.
Rebel Without a Cause. Cool Hand Luke. Easy Rider. Apocalypse Now. Blue Velvet. Hoosiers. Colors. Those are just a few of the movies Dennis Hopper appeared in during the course of a career that started with an appearance on TV’s Medic in 1955 and ended 114 films later with Elegy in 2008. A contemporary of James Dean, Hopper made his name as a method actor in the 1950s, and became a counterculture maverick in the 1960s, writing and starring in the classic Easy Rider, a film which helped define a generation. Despite suffering from drug and alcohol problems that curtailed his career in the 1970s and early 80s, he staged a successful comeback after being cast by David Lynch as the psychotic Frank Booth in Blue Velvet and would be nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Hoosiers. For much of the remaineder of his career he would specialize in villains and weirdos. Hopper also directed the well-received Colors and would win an Emmy for his role in Paris Trout. Dennis Hopper died on May 29, 2010 at the age of 74.
While still only 16, Lena Horne became a night club performer, joining the chorus at the fabled Cotton Club in Harlem, New York. She became one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, was the first to play the Copacabana, and by 1938 had already appeared in a couple films before Hollywood talent scouts “discovered” her. She made her MGM debut in 1942’s Panama Hattie and starred in 1943’s Stormy Weather (the hit title song would become one of her signature tunes). She would experience – and combat – racial discrimination throughout her lifetime. Her marriage to white bandleader Lennie Hayton was kept secret for years. She participated in the March on Washington and worked on behalf of the National Council for Negro Women. Due to the limited roles available for black women in Hollywood, she returned to the stage, performing at clubs and having a late-career hit on Broadway with Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which won a special Tony Award and received two Grammys for its soundtrack. Lena Horne died of heart failure on May 9, 2010. She was 92 years old.
Oscar-winning actressPatricia Neal overcame multiple tragedies and setbacks in the course of her long career. Born Patsy Louise Neal in Packard, Kentucky, she studied drama at Northwestern University before starting her acting career on Broadway, winning a Tony in the first year they were presented. Her film debut came in 1949, a year which also saw her star in The Fountainhead with Gary Cooper. After suffering a nervous breakdown, she returned to Broadway for a period, starring in The Miracle Worker, among many others. She married writer Roald Dahl. In 1960, their infant son suffered a serious brain injury when he was hit by a cab on the streets of New York. Two years later, they would lose one of their daughters to measles. Neal returned to Hollywood, where she starred in Hud, the role that would land her an Oscar. Three days into filming her next movie, she suffered a debilitating stroke. Nursed back to health with a grueling and unprecedented rehabilitation program devised by her husband Dahl, she returned to the screen for 1968’s The Subject Was Roses, earning another Oscar nomination. In 1983, Dahl and Neal divorced when she learned he was having an affair. “Stubborness gets you through the bad times,” she said in 1988. “You don’t give in.” Patricia Neal died on August 8, 2010 at the age of 84.
Leslie Nielsen – Nielsen enjoyed a long, if undistinguished, acting career beginning in TV’s Golden Age with roles in live productions on shows like Actor’s Studio and Stage 13. He later appeared in many respected TV dramas like Route 66, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Columbo and Kojak. But he would probably largely be forgotten were it not for a late-career shift to comedy. In 1980, the movie Airplane! not only spawned the entire spoof genre, but also launched Leslie Nielsen’s career as America’s funniest straight man, a role he would play for the next 30 years in the Airplane sequels, the Police Squad TV show, the Naked Gun movies, and others. Leslie Nielsen kept the world laughing right up until his death on November 28, 2010 at the age of 84.
Considered a pivotal figure in American cinema, Arthur Penn directed relatively few films over the course of his three-decade career – but in his 1960s and '70s heyday, those movies included groundbreaking works like the controversial Bonnie and Clyde, a film often credited with launching Hollywood’s second Golden Age, a period which saw American mainstream film being influenced by European arthouse fare. Small, personal films like Penn’s 1969 drama Alice’s Restaurant led the way, though he showed himself equally adept at the neo-noir thriller with 1975’s Night Moves and comedic Western deconstruction in 1976’s The Missouri Breaks. His career waned in the 1980s as audiences gravitated toward big-budget blockbuster fare following the successes of Jaws and Star Wars. Arthur Penn died on September 28, 2010, one day after turning 88.
Other film notables:
Dede Allen – Pioneering editor of Bonnie and Clyde and many other films
Alexander Anderson – Animator and creator of TV’s Rocky and Bullwinkle characters
Lisa Blount – Actress starred in An Officer and a Gentleman and received a 2002 Oscar as short film producer
Stephen J. Canell – TV writer and producer behind more than 40 shows including The Rockford Files and The A-Team
Claude Chabrol – French New Wave director whose work was often compared with that of Alfred Hitchcock
Maury Chaykin – Character actor known for his portrayal of reclusive detective Nero Wolfe
Jill Clayburgh – Broadway and Hollywood actress known for her Oscar nominated role in An Unmarried Woman
Gary Coleman – Former child actor known for his role as Arnold on TV’s Diff’rent Strokes
Robert Culp – Actor starred in the I Spy TV series
Tony Curtis – Oscar-nominated actor who starred in The Sweet Smell of Success and Some Like it Hot
Jimmy Dean – Singer and TV host who parlayed his popularity into an entrepreneurial career
Eddie Fisher – Popular singer and TV host during the 1950s
John Forsythe – Actor known for his TV roles in Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty
Fred Foy – Voice-over artist best known for introduction to The Lone Ranger
James Gammon – Character actor best known for his role in Major League
Harold Gould – Veteran character actor known for his roles in TV’s Rhoda and The Golden Girls
Peter Graves – Actor who starred in TV’s Mission Impossible and the Airplane movies.
Kathryn Grayson – Star of classic MGM musicals like Show Boat and Kiss Me Kate
Corey Haim – 1980s teen idol known for his roles in The Lost Boys and Lucas
Irvin Kershner – Director of The Empire Strikes Back and Never Say Never Again
Satoshi Kon – Acclaimed Japanese animator behind Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress
Art Linkletter – Broadcasting pioneer and host of TV’s People Are Funny
James MacArthur – Actor best known as Danno in the original Hawaii 5-O
Kevin McCarthy – Star of science-fiction movie classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Rue McClanahan – Actress beloved for her role in TV’s Golden Girls
James Mitchell – Portrayed patriarch Palmer Cortland in the ABC soap All My Children
Ronald Neame – Director of The Poseidon Adventure and three-time Oscar nominee
Fess Parker – Played Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett on the small screen
Lynn Redgrave – Actress nominated for two Academy Awards
Frances Reid – Soap star played Days of Our Lives matriarch Alice Horton for 40 years
Pernell Roberts – Star of TV’s Bonanza and Trapper John, M.D.
Eric Rohmer – French New Wave director who enjoyed a five-decade career in film
Jean Simmons – Glamorous leading lady who appeared in more than 55 films during her lengthy career
Gloria Stuart – Oscar-nominated co-star of Titanic
Helen Wagner – Starred for more than half a century on the soap opera As the World Turns
David Wolper – Producer of Roots
Ilene Woods – The voice of Cinderella in Disney's animated classic