Carlotta 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 Exorcist, acted 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.
Oscar-winner and Emmy-nominated movie and legendary character actor Ernest Borgnine, has died of renal failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife and children at his side. He was 95. Borgnine made his mark as the vicious Fatso Judson who beat Frank Sinatra to death in From Here To Eternity. But he also won the Best Actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in Marty in 1955. Modest despite being a household name Borgnine registered shock when in 2011 the Screen Actors Guild called to bestow on him the annual Life Achievement Award. “Heck, I’m just a character actor for God sakes. I’m no big star,” he told Deadline at the time. “It was my mom who told me, ‘Ernie, if you make even one person happy with your smile or a funny thing you did every day, you’ll have accomplished a great deal.’ And that’s all I’ve ever tried to do.”
Some of my personal Borgnine favourites include: The Vikings (1958), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969), Escape From New York (1981), Gattaca (1997), Red (2011) and of course Mermaid Man in SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-2011). Rest in Peace.
What’s the point of the Emmys..? Apart from those awful shows backslapping each other on their ‘achievements’ in whatever category they’ve put together to exclude quality TV (cable) and award themselves a bunch of meaningless awards. However, around this awards season we get a few good interviews and promos for forthcoming quality TV shows (cable). Below is one with Jessica Lange discussing American Horror Story: Season 2. Courtesy of DEADLINE
Constance Langdon is not a neighbor you want to borrow a cup of sugar from, and you most definitely should beware when she comes bearing home-baked gifts (or, for that matter, “sweet breads”). And yet as portrayed by Jessica Lange, who came into American Horror Story with two Oscars and an Emmy on her mantel, the Harmon family’s oft unwelcome visitor did not repel, she but regaled us. Thus far, Lange has netted a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe for her first venture into series television — might another Emmy make her housewarming complete?
AWARDSLINE: When you first started seeing the American Horror Storyscripts, did you suspect the role of Constance could be Emmy-worthy?
LANGE: I didn’t really know what to think. We were shooting really fast, so I don’t think anybody was thinking about the outcome as much as the process of getting through it. This was the first time I’d ever done this kind of television — a miniseries — and not being all that familiar with the world of TV, I didn’t have any frame of reference. So when the performances started getting recognition, yes, it did kind of surprise me. I mean, I knew how good the writing was, and I knew there was a great deal that I could do with it — it’s a big character with a huge range of emotions.
AWARDSLINE: Given how dicey the subject matter could get, how did you find the humanity amidst of all this surreality?
LANGE: I just paid attention to creating this character and playing her as absolutely real as I could, in the context of all this other stuff. I really didn’t think in terms of the overall sweep of the piece, or the tone of it.
AWARDSLINE: Because of the intensity of the material, was it a particularly galvanizing experience for the cast?
LANGE: I can’t speak for the others, but I know that for me there were moments where it was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that they’ve written this!’ [Laughs] It’s always a leap of faith. The only thing you can think about is: What are you given to do, and how well do you do it?
AWARDSLINE: Was there a past performance of yours that informed your portrayal of Constance? Was it Queen Tamora in Titus? Maggie in TV’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?
LANGE: Certainly there were moments where I felt that there were shades of Tennessee Williams — because she’s Southern and because it was about failed dreams and disappointment, and loneliness. Those themes crop up in a lot of Tennessee’s women — like with Blanche [in A Streetcar Named Desire] or Amanda Wingfield [The Glass Menagerie]. But that’s really where the comparison ends. Constance’s actual behavior has nothing to do with any character I’ve ever played before.
AWARDSLINE: How did doing a TV miniseries shape you as an actress?
LANGE: It shifted something profoundly, because this piece forced me to work in a way I’ve never worked before, and that was with complete immediacy — and in some odd way it was very liberating. It forced me to be extremely bold. I couldn’t approach this with any kind of trepidation, and in that way it felt expansive to me.
AWARDSLINE: Would you concede that Constance is a despicable person? Or was she coming from a place of misplaced love?
LANGE: Certainly you can look at her actions and say that she was horrendous. However, in the playing of it I had to find her humanity, and I did that through her emotion and her capacity for love. The fact that it was so twisted in many ways came out of circumstances rather than the essence of the character. What I kind of loved about her is she did not mince words. Sometimes, like when you hear her speaking to her daughter or in a scene with her son, as a mother [myself] I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ But again, there was something very enjoyable about playing someone who was no-holds-barred.
AWARDSLINE: She certainly stood out in today’s ever-PC climate.
LANGE: I thought she was kind of a throwback to another time, pre-political correctness, when people said things that would now be seen as shocking. Like some of the dames from the films in the ’30s — hard and rough-talking but honest and forthright. Yes, we had scenes where what she did was reprehensible and criminal, but there was an element to her I found very refreshing.
AWARDSLINE: With the next chapter of American Horror Story, you have the rare opportunity to create a new character. How will your insane asylum administrator differ from Constance?
LANGE: It’s a different time [set in the 1960s] first of all, and she comes from a completely different background. There’s also different geography [being set on the East Coast], and that informs a character tremendously. So without giving away too much, I think there are similarities — they both have a history, and I’m not entirely stellar! [Laughs] — but that’s probably where the paths diverge. She is very different from what I’ve played. It’s going to be another wild ride!
Belated congratulations to Jessica Lange for her Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards. Check out the poster for season 2 of American Horror Story… you’ll need old school 3D glasses.