Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Biography: ACTORS

Kitty Winn

Kitty-Winn_BannerKitty Winn (born February 21, 1943) is an award-winning American Actress. Katherine Tupper (“Kitty”) Winn was born in Washington, D.C. As the daughter of an army officer she traveled widely during much of her childhood, including, time spent in United States, England, Germany, China, India and Japan.

panic_in_needle_park_PosterHer career has spanned a wide range of drama productions on stage, in motion pictures and on television. She studied acting at Centenary Junior College and Boston University, graduating from the latter in 1966. During her college years Winn acted in student productions at Centenary Junior College, Boston University, and Harvard College and summer stock for two summers at The Priscilla Beach Theatre south of Boston. Shortly after college she joined the company at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco where she remained for four years.

Panic-in-Needle-Park_Kitty-Winn_Al-Pacino_BTSIn the fall of 1970 Kitty left American Conservatory Theater to play opposite Al Pacino in the film ‘Panic in Needle Park’ for which she won the Best Actress award at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. The film portrays life among a group of heroin addicts who hang out in “Needle Park” (the nicknames of Verdi Square and Sherman Square on New York’s Upper West Side near 72nd Street and Broadway). The film is a love story between Bobby (Pacino), a young addict and small-time hustler, and Helen (Kitty Winn), a restless woman who finds Bobby charismatic. She becomes an addict, and life goes downhill for them both as their addictions worsen, eventually leading to a series of betrayals.

Kitty-Winn_The-ExorcistTo set the atmosphere, no music was used in the film, much of which features cinéma vérité-style footage. It is believed to be the first mainstream film to feature actual drug injection.

Although she went on to do several more films, such as ‘The Exorcist’, she always returned to her great love, the theatre. In The Exorcist, Kitty played Sharon Spencer, movie actress Chris McNeil’s friend and personal assistant who acts as Regan’s tutor.

The Exorcist_Kitty WinnKitty co-starred in Peeper (1975) with Michael Caine, before returning to the role of Sharon in the Exorcist sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977).

Kitty retired in 1978 but returned to play Cordelia in “The Tragedy of King Lear” for KCET in 1983. She did not return to the stage again until 2011 when she played the lead in “The Last Romance” at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. For this performance she was nominated for a best actress award by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.


John Barrymore

John-Barrymore_Banner_HeaderJohn Sidney Blyth (February 15, 1882 – May 29, 1942), better known as John Barrymore, was an American actor of stage and screen. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III. His success continued with motion pictures in various genres in both the silent and sound eras. Barrymore’s personal life has been the subject of much writing before and since his death in 1942.

John-Barrymore_Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeA member of a multi-generation theatrical dynasty, he was the brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore, and was the paternal grandfather of Drew Barrymore. Barrymore delivered some of the most critically acclaimed performances in theatre and film history and was widely regarded as the screen’s greatest performer during a movie career spanning 25 years as a leading man in more than 60 films.

Barrymore entered films around 1913 with the feature An American Citizen. He or someone using the name Jack Barrymore is given credit for four short films made in 1912 and 1913, but this has not been proven to be John Barrymore. Barrymore was most likely convinced into giving films a try out of economic necessity and the fact that he hated touring a play all over the United States. He could make a couple of movies in the off-season theater months or shoot a film in one part of a day while doing a play in another part. He also may have been goaded into films by his brother Lionel and his uncle Sidney, who had both been successfully making movies for a couple of years. Some of Barrymore’s silent film films included Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), Sherlock Holmes (1922), Beau Brummel (1924), played Captain Ahab in The Sea Beast (1926), and Don Juan (1926).

Poster - Dr_ Jekyll and Mr_ HydeWhen talking pictures arrived, Barrymore’s stage-trained voice added a new dimension to his screen work. He made his talkie debut with a dramatic reading of the big Duke of Gloucester speech from Henry VI, part 3 in Warner Brothers’ musical revue The Show of Shows (“Would they were wasted: marrow, bones and all”), and reprised his Captain Ahab role in Moby Dick (1930). His other leads included Svengali (1931), The Mad Genius (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933) and Twentieth Century (1934). He worked opposite many of the screen’s foremost leading ladies, including Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Carole Lombard.

Barrymore collapsed while appearing on Rudy Vallee’s radio show and died in his hospital room, May 29, 1942. His dying words were “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”

John-Barrymore_W.C.FieldsAccording to Errol Flynn’s memoirs, film director Raoul Walsh “borrowed” Barrymore’s body before burial, and left his corpse propped in a chair for a drunken Flynn to discover when he returned home from The Cock and Bull Bar. This was re-created in the movie W.C. Fields and Me. Other accounts of this classic Hollywood tale substitute actor Peter Lorre in the place of Walsh, but Walsh himself tells the story in Richard Schickel’s 1973 documentary The Men Who Made the Movies. However, Barrymore’s great friend Gene Fowler denied the story, stating that he and his son held vigil over the body at the funeral home until the funeral and burial.

He was buried in East Los Angeles, at Calvary Cemetery, on June 2. Surviving family members in attendance were his brother Lionel and his daughter Diana. Ex wife Elaine also attended. Among his pallbearers were Hollywood Legends W.C. Fields, Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick. Years later, Barrymore’s son John had the body reinterred at Philadelphia’s Mount Vernon Cemetery.


Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee_BannerBruce Lee (born Lee Jun-fan; 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was a Chinese American actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement. He is widely considered by many commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist, and a cultural icon.

bruce-lee_enter the dragonLee was born in San Francisco to parents of Hong Kong heritage but was raised in Hong Kong until his late teens. It was in Hong Kong where the largest influence on Lee’s martial arts development was his study of Wing Chun. Lee began training in Wing Chun at the age of 13 under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man in 1954, after losing a fight with rival gang members. Yip’s regular classes generally consisted of the forms practice, chi sao (sticking hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques, and free-sparring. There was no set pattern to the classes. Yip tried to keep his students from fighting in the street gangs of Hong Kong by encouraging them to fight in organized competitions.

enter_the_dragon_poster_005After a year into his Wing Chun training, most of Yip Man’s other students refused to train with Lee after they learnt of his ancestry (his mother was half Chinese and half Caucasian) as the Chinese generally were against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians. Lee’s sparring partner, Hawkins Cheung states, “Probably fewer than six people in the whole Wing Chun clan were personally taught, or even partly taught, by Yip Man”. However, Lee showed a keen interest in Wing Chun, and continued to train privately with Yip Man and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.

Lee emigrated to the United States at the age of 18 to claim his U.S. citizenship and receive his higher education. It was during this time that he began teaching martial arts, which soon led to film and television roles.

Bruce Lee_Game of Death_posterHis Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world. He is noted for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Wei’s The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Lee; Warner Brothers’ Enter the Dragon (1973), directed by Robert Clouse; and Game of Death (1978), directed by Robert Clouse. Extended articles on each of these movies will appear here at a later date.

Lee became an iconic figure known throughout the world. Although he initially trained in Wing Chun, he later rejected well-defined martial art styles, favouring instead to use techniques from various sources in the spirit of his personal martial arts philosophy, which he dubbed Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist).

On 10 May 1973, Lee collapsed in Golden Harvest studios while doing dubbing work for the movie Enter the Dragon. Suffering from seizures and headaches, he was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors diagnosed cerebral edema. They were able to reduce the swelling.

bruce-lee_game of deathOn 20 July 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, to have dinner with George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to Lee’s wife Linda, Lee met producer Raymond Chow at 2 pm at home to discuss the film Game of Death.  Lee later complained of a headache, and actress Betty Lee Ting gave him an analgesic (painkiller), he went for a nap and never woke up. He died later that day in Kowloon Tong, he was only 32.


Mercedes McCambridge

The Exorcist_Mercedes McCambridgeCarlotta Mercedes McCambridge (March 16, 1916 – March 2, 2004) was an Academy Award-winning and Golden Globe-winning American actress. Orson Welles called her “the world’s greatest living radio actress.”

McCambridge was born in Joliet, Illinois, the daughter of parents Marie and John Patrick McCambridge. She graduated from Mundelin College in Chicago. She began her career as a radio actor during the 1940’s while also performing on Broadway.

Her Hollywood break came when she was cast opposite Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men (1949). McCambridge won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role, while the film won Best Picture for that year. McCambridge also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and New Star of the Year – Actress for her performance.

In 1954, the actress co-starred with Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden in the offbeat western drama, Johnny Guitar, now regarded as a cult classic. McCambridge and Hayden publicly declared their dislike of Crawford, with McCambridge labeling the film’s star “a mean, tipsy, powerful, rotten-egg lady.”

McCambridge played the supporting role of ‘Luz’ in the George Stevens epic, Giant (1956), which starred Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean in his last role. In 1959, McCambridge appeared opposite Katherine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer. 

Of more interest to casual readers of this site, McCambridge provided the dubbed voice of the demonically possessed child Regan in The Exorcistacted by Linda Blair. McCambridge was promised a screen credit for the film’s initial release, but she discovered at the premiere that her name was absent. Her dispute with director William Friedkin and Warner Bros. over her exclusion ended when, with the help of the Screen Actors Guild, she was properly credited for her vocal work in the film.

In the 1970’s, she toured in a road company production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as Big Mama, opposite John Carradine as Big Daddy. She appeared as a guest artist in college productions such as El Centro College’s 1979 The Mousetrap, in which she received top billing despite her character being murdered less than 15 minutes into the play.

In the mid-1970’s, McCambridge briefly took a position as director of Livingrin, a Pennsylvania rehabilitation center for alcoholics. She was at the same time putting the finishing touches on her soon-to-be released autobiography, The Quality of Mercy: An Autobiography (Times Books, 1981).

McCambridge died on March 2, 2004 in La Jolla, California, of natural causes.


Christian Bale – Part 2

Christian Bale_movie banner_2In 2004, after completing filming for The Machinist, Bale won the coveted role of Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, a reboot of the Batman film series.

public_enemies_poster_02Still fresh off The Machinist, it became necessary for Bale to bulk up to match Batman’s muscular physique. He was given a deadline of six months to do this. Bale recalled it as far from a simple accomplishment: “…when it actually came to building muscle, I was useless. I couldn’t do one push up the first day. All of the muscles were gone, so I had a real tough time rebuilding all of that.” With the help of a personal trainer, Bale succeeded in meeting the deadline, gaining a total of 100 lb (45 kg) in six months. He went from about 130 lbs to 230 lbs. He then discovered that he had actually gained more weight than the director desired, and dropped his weight to 190 lbs by the time filming began.

Bale had initial concerns about playing Batman, as he felt more ridiculous than intimidating in the Batsuit, he dealt with this by depicting Batman as a savage beast. To attain a deeper understanding of the character, Bale read various Batman comic books. He explained his interpretation of the young boy: “Batman is his hidden, demonic rage-filled side. The creature Batman creates is an absolutely sincere creature and one that he has to control but does so in a very haphazard way. He’s capable of enacting violence — and to kill — so he’s constantly having to rein himself in.” For Bale, the most gruelling part about playing Batman was the suit. “You stick it on, you get hot, you sweat and you get a headache in the mask,” he said. “But I’m not going to bitch about it because I get to play Batman.” When promoting the film in interviews and public events, Bale retained an American accent to avoid confusion.

batman-the-dark-knight-trilogy-2012-wallpaper-for-1440x900-widescreen-8-66Batman Begins was released in the U.S. on 15 June 2005 and was a U.S. and international triumph for Warner Bros., costing approximately US$135 million to produce and taking in over US$370 million in returns worldwide. Bale earned the Best Hero award at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his performance.

Bale reprised his role as Batman in Nolan’s Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. He trained in the Kevsi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. The Dark Knight was released in the U.S. on 18 July 2008 and stormed through the box office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the U.S. in its first weekend. It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 18 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new U.S. box office records set by the film. The film went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, before adjusting for inflation.

The Dark Knight Rises_Batman_posterBale reprised his Batman role in The Dark Knight Rises released on 20 July 2012, making Bale the actor who has played Batman the most times in feature film. Bale has given the same opinion as Nolan that, if the latter was forced to bring Robin into the films, he would never again play Batman; even though one of his favorite Batman stories, Batman: Dark Victory, focuses on Robin’s origin.

In 2006, Bale took on four projects: Rescue Dawn, by German film maker Werner Herzog, had him playing U.S. Fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, who has to fight for his life after being shot down while on a mission during the Vietnam War. Bale left a strong impression on Herzog, with the director complimenting his acting abilities: “I find him one of the greatest talents of his generation. We made up our own minds long before he did Batman.

batman_the_dark_knight_rises-wideIn The Prestige, an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about a rivalry between two Victorian stage magicians, Bale was reunited with Batman BeginsMichael Caine and director Christopher Nolan. The cast of The Prestige also included Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie. I’m Not There, a film in which Bale again worked alongside Todd Haynes and Heath Ledger (who would go on to play The Joker in The Dark Knight), is an artistic reflection of the life of Bob Dylan. He starred opposite Russell Crowe in a commercially and critically successful Western film, 3:10 to Yuma. Bale played John Connor in Terminator Salvation and FBI agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. 

In 2010, Bale portrayed Dicky Eklund in the biopic The Fighter. He received critical acclaim for his role and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.


Christian Bale – Part 1

Christian Bale_movie banner_1Christian Charles Philip Bale (born 30 January 1974) is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses.

Christian_BaleBale first caught the public eye at the age of 13, when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg’s film version of the J. G. Ballard novel Empire of the Sun (1987). He played an English boy who is separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

The attention the press and his schoolmates lavished upon him after this took a toll on Bale, and he contemplated giving up acting until Kenneth Branagh approached him and persuaded him to appear in Henry V in 1989. In 1990, he played the role of Jim Hawkins opposite Charlton Heston (as Long John Silver) in Treasure Island, an adaptation of the classic book by Robert Louis Stephenson.

Bale was recommended by actress Winona Ryder to star in Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 film Little Women; he provided the voice for Thomas, a young compatriot of Captain John Smith, in Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) and in 1997 played Arthur Stuart in Velvet Goldmone, Todd Hayne’s tribute to 70’s glam rock.

Empire of the Sun_Christian Bale_Steven SpielbergIn 1999, Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, director Mary Harron’s adaptation of the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Bale was briefly dropped from the project in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio, but DiCaprio eventually dropped out to star in The Beach, and Bale was cast once again. He researched his character by studying the novel and prepared himself physically for the role by spending months tanning and exercising in order to achieve the “Olympian physique” of the character as described in the original novel. He went so far as to distance himself from the cast and crew to maintain the darker side of Bateman’s character. American Psycho premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival to much controversy. Roger Ebert condemned the film at first, calling it pornography, and “the most loathed film at Sundance,” but gave it a favourable review, writing that Harron “transformed a novel about bloodlust into a movie about men’s vanity.” Of Bale’s performance, he wrote, “Christian Bale is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor.”

christian_bale_american_psychoOn 14 April 2000, Lions Gate Films released American Psycho in theatres. Bale was later approached to make a cameo appearance in another Bret Easton Ellis adaptation, The Rules of Attraction, a film loosely connected to American Psycho, but he declined out of loyalty to Harron’s vision of Bateman, which he felt could not be properly expressed by anyone else. In 2000, he again played a wealthy murderer, this time in John Singleton’s remake of Shaft. 

Equilibrium was Bale’s third film of 2002, costing US$20 million to produce but earning just over US$5 million worldwide. In Equilibrium, Bale played John Preston, an elite law enforcer in a dystopian society. Equilibrium featured a fictional martial art called Gun Kata that combined gunfighting with hand-to-hand combat. According to moviebodycounts.com, the character of John Preston has the third most on-screen kills in a single movie ever with 118, exactly half of the movie’s total of 236.

Christian Bale_American PsychoAfter a year’s hiatus, Bale returned in 2004 to play Trevor Reznik, the title character in the psychological thriller The Machinist. Bale gained attention for his devotion to the role and for the lengths to which he went to achieve Reznik’s emaciated, skeletal appearance. He went without proper rest for prolonged periods, and placed himself on a crash diet of generally coffee and apples, which reduced his weight by 63 pounds (4 st 4 lb/27 kg) in a matter of months. By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8 st 9 lb/55 kg), a transformation he described as “very calming mentally” and which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro’s weight-gaining for his role as Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. Bale claimed that he had not worked for a period of time before he was cast in the film. ” I just hadn’t found scripts that I’d really been interested in. So I was really dying for something to arrive. Then when this one did, I just didn’t want to put it down. I finished it and, upon the kind of revelation that you get at the end, I immediately wanted to go back and re-visit it, to take a look at what clues I could have gotten throughout”. The Machinist was a low-budget production, costing roughly US$5 million to produce, and was given only a limited US release.

Bale, an admirer of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, was then cast as the voice of the title character, Howl, in the English language dud of the Japanese director’s fantasy anime adventure Howls’ Moving Castle, an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel. Its gross in the US was US$4,711,096, a fraction of its worldwide gross (US$235,184,110).


Eileen Dietz

Eileen Dietz_Pazuzu_The ExorcistEileen Dietz (born January 11, 1945, Bayside, New York) is an American actress who is best known for her appearances in many horror films such as the face of the demon in The Exorcist and for her portrayal of characters on the soap operas Guiding Light and General Hospital. 

Exorcising My Demons_Eileen DietzAs a child, Dietz appeared in commercials with her twin sister Marianne, and beginning at the age of 12 she started studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. She made her television debut in 1963 in a small guest role on The Doctors. Shortly thereafter she landed a recurring role on the soap opera Love of Life. She made her film debut starring in the 1966 movie Teenage Gang Debs as Ellie. The following year she portrayed Penny Wohl in the critically acclaimed independent film Holzman’s Diary. The film never got much in the way of theatrical distribution despite having Dietz’s nude scene featured in Life Magazine’s photo spread and in the book of the film. She didn’t recall if she auditioned for the role of Penny but she added, “it was a fun shoot.”

Eileen Dietz_The ExorcistDietz spent much of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s appearing in theatre productions. In 1972, she portrayed an androgynous runaway in the premiere of Joyce Carol Oates’ Ontological Proof of My Existence. Her portrayal in the play led to an invitation to do a screen test for William Friedkin film The Exorcist. She was cast in two memorable roles in the film: The Demon (better known as The Face of Death), for this role, Dietz actually only appeared on film for 8–10 seconds; and the ‘Possessed Regan’ (the Linda Blair character). In The Exorcist Pazuzu appears as a demon who possesses Regan McNeil; Pazuzu a fictional character and the main antagonist in The Exorcist novels and film series created by William Peter Blatty. Blatty derived the character from Assyrian and Babylonian mythology, where Pazuzu was considered the king of the demons and of the wind, and the son of the god Hanbi.

exorcist-original-posterAfter The Exorcist, Dietz had a highly active career on television during the 1970’s, appearing as a guest star on such shows as Planet of the Apes, Korg: 70,000 B.C. and Happy Days among others.

In 1980, Dietz joined the cast of General Hospital as Sarah Abbott, a role she played for several years. She also appeared as a guest star on Trapper John, M.D. (1982) and in the horror film Freeway Maniac (1989). More recent film credits include Naked in the Cold Sun (1997), Hurricane Festival (1997), Bad Guys (2000), Exorcism (2003), The Mojo Cafe (2004), Neighborhood Watch (2005), Constantine (2005), Karla (2006), Creepshow III (2006), Dog Lover’s Symphony (2006), and Tracing Cowboys (2008).

The Exorcist_Dick Smith_Eileen Dietz2009 was a very busy year for Dietz. She had several films coming out, including Stingy Jack, H2: Halloween 2, See How They RunThe Queen of Screams (2009), ButterflySecond Coming of Mary,Legend of the Mountain Witch, and Monsterpiece Theatre Volume 1.


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