Barbara Britton was an American film and television actress best known for her western film roles opposite Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Gene Autry and for her two-year tenure as inquisitive amateur sleuth Pam North on the television series “Mr. and Mrs. North”.
Barbara Britton was born Barbara Maurine Brantingham on September 26, 1919, in Long Beach, California. Britton attended Polytechnic High School and Long Beach City College, majoring in speech with the intention of working as a speech and drama teacher. While in school she started to show an interest in acting and began working on local stage productions. In 1941, while appearing in a Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, a photo of Britton was used on the front page of a local newspaper. A talent scout took notice and she was soon signed to a Paramount Pictures contract. Paramount thought that the name Brantingham would be “too long to fit on a marquee”, so Barbara chose as her stage name ‘Britton’, a cherished family surname. Shortly after signing with Paramount Britton appeared in her first two films, a William Boyd western “Secrets of the Wasteland” (1941) and “Louisiana Purchase” (1941) starring Bob Hope. Her first major film appearance was in a small role in the John Wayne film “Reap the Wild Wind” (1942).
Britton would go on to appear in twenty seven movies and shorts during the 1940s including roles in popular films such as “So Proudly We Hail!” (1943), “Till We Meet Again” (1944), “The Virginian” (1946) opposite Joel McCrea , “The Return of Monte Cristo” (1946), “Gunfighters” (1947) with Randolph Scott, and “Albuquerque” (1948) also with Randolph Scott. With her growing popularity during the 40s, Britton’s picture would appear on more than one hundred magazine covers over a two year span, including those of Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion, and McCall’s. In 1949, a newspaper article reported, “Today, Barbara Britton’s picture has appeared on more national magazine covers than any other motion picture actress in the world.”
During the 1950s, Britton would turn to television, starring in the 1950s television show “Mr. and Mrs. North”, a Thin Man-like mystery show, with Richard Denning and Francis De Sales. Britton became well known for being the spokesperson for Revlon products in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in ads and commercials that included live spots on “The $64,000 Question”. She also portrayed Laura Petrie in Carl Reiner’s “Head of the Family”, the 1959 pilot for the later Dick Van Dyke Show. In between her television roles Britton co-starred intermittently in such “B” films as “Bandit Queen” (1950), “The Raiders” (1952), “Bwana Devil” (1952), “Dragonfly Squadron” (1954), “Ain’t Misbehavin'” (1955), “Night Freight” (1955) and with her final movie role in “The Spoilers” (1955) opposite Jeff Chandler and Rory Calhoun.
During the late 50’s and 60’s Britton had roles in various Broadway Shows and appeared in a some of the more popular television roles of that period. Her last role was as a regular on the daytime soap “One Life to Live” in 1979. Her time on this show was short-lived though as the actress was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer not long after.
In 1944, Britton suffered from nervous exhaustion due to overwork and was advised to seek the help of physician and psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene J. Czukor. The two fell in love and Britton and Czukor, who was 22 years her senior, were married on April 2, 1945. They raised two children together, a son Theodore who appeared on the Canadian Shakespearean stage and later became a yoga instructor, and daughter Christina who grew up to become a model, actress, opera singer, music therapist and romance novelist. Both used the surname Britton during their careers. The couple remained married until her death.
Barbara Britton died of pancreatic cancer in New York City on January 17, 1980, at the age of 60.
On February 8, 1960 Britton received a star for television on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1719 Vine Street.
Claudette Colbert (September 13, 1903 – July 30, 1996) was a French-born American actress, and a Hollywood leading lady for two decades. Colbert began her career in Broadway productions during the 1920s, progressing to film with the advent of talking pictures. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in “It Happened One Night” (1934), the first woman born outside of North America to do so, and also received Academy Award nominations for “Private Worlds” (1935) and “Since You Went Away” (1944). During her career, Colbert starred in more than sixty movies and was the industry’s biggest box-office star in 1938 and 1942. By the mid 1950s, Colbert had largely retired from the screen in favor of television and stage work, earning a Tony Award nomination for “The Marriage-Go-Round” in 1959. Her career tapered off during the early 1960s, but in the late 1970s she experienced a career resurgence in theater, earning a Sarah Siddons Award for her Chicago theater work in 1980. For her television work in “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles” (1987) she won a Golden Globe Award and received an Emmy Award nomination. In 1999, the American Film Institute voted Claudette Colbert the “12th Greatest Female American Screen Legend” in cinema. Claudette Colbert has a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6812 Hollywood Blvd.
Ann Blyth (born August 16, 1928 in Mount Kisco, New York) is an American actress and singer, often cast in Hollywood musicals, but was also successful in dramatic roles. Most of her early roles were in musicals such as “Chip Off the Old Block” (1944), “The Merry Monahans” (1944) and “Babes on Swing Street” (1944) before appearing in the classic, Oscar-winning drama “Mildred Pierce” in 1945. Blyth’s performance as Veda Pierce, the scheming, ungrateful daughter of Joan Crawford in “Mildred Pierce” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Blyth’s other films of note include: “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid” (1948), “Our Very Own” (1950), “The Great Caruso” (1951), “One Minute to Zero” (1952), “The World in His Arms” (1952), “Rose Marie” (1954), “The Student Prince” (1954), “Kismet” (1955), “The Buster Keaton Story” (1957), and “The Helen Morgan Story” (1957). Ann Blyth has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6733 Hollywood Boulevard for her contribution to motion pictures.
“I have absolutely no interest in who gets the girl. I don’t care. I don’t see any reason to spend two hours to see who gets the girl especially since you know who’s going to get her from the beginning, usually the actor who gets the most money.” ~ Humphrey Bogart
“She’s a real Joe. You’ll fall in love with her like everybody else.” ~ Humphrey Bogart on Lauren Bacall
“I didn’t do anything I’ve never done before, but when the camera moves in on that Bergman face, and she’s saying she loves you, it would make anybody feel romantic.” ~ Humphrey Bogart on Ingrid Bergman
“Even when I was carrying a gun, she scared the bejesus out of me.” ~ Humphrey Bogart on Bette Davis
“She talks at you as though you were a microphone. She lectured the hell out of me on temperance and the evils of drink. She doesn’t give a damn how she looks. I don’t think she tries to be a character. I think she is one.” ~ Humphrey Bogart on Katharine Hepburn
“You could argue with her, but she was tough. When Jack (cinematographer Jack Cardiff) saw her striding into the jungle alone one morning, he thought, ‘God help the jungle’.” ~ Humphrey Bogart on Katharine Hepburn during the filming of “The African Queen” (1951)
Sterling Hayden (March 26, 1916 – May 23, 1986) was an American actor, author, sailor, and WWII marine and commando. During his career as a Hollywood leading man Hayden specialized in westerns and film noir.
Sterling Hayden was born Sterling Relyea Walter on March 26, 1916 in Montclair, New Jersey, to George and Frances Walter. After his parents died, he was adopted at age nine by James Hayden and renamed Sterling Walter Hayden. He grew up in coastal towns of New England, and as a child lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Maine. Hayden dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen and took a job as mate on a schooner. He worked as a fisherman, seaman, and fireman on numerous vessels before earning his first command at age twenty-two, skippering the square rigger Florence C. Robinson. He sailed around the world a number of times, becoming a well-known and highly respected ship’s captain. Hayden had become a print model when at the urging of friends he met with producer Edward H. Griffith who signed him to a Paramount contract in 1940. After signing Paramount dubbed Hayden “The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies” and “The Beautiful Blond Viking God.” His first film with the studio was “Virginia” in 1941 which also starred Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray.
After two film roles Hayden left Hollywood and joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a private, under the name John Hamilton. While at Parris Island, he was recommended for Officer Candidate School and after graduation was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was transferred to service as an undercover agent in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). His World War II service included running guns and supplies to Yugoslav partisans through the German blockade of the Adriatic, as well as parachuting into Croatia for guerrilla activities, and establishing air crew rescue teams in enemy-occupied territory. He received the Silver Star for gallantry in action in the Balkans and Mediterranean, a Bronze Arrowhead device for parachuting behind enemy lines, and a commendation from Yugoslavia’s Marshal Tito. Hayden left active duty on December 24, 1945.
After the war, Hayden returned to Hollywood and for most of his career as a leading man he specialized in westerns and film noir such as “El Paso” (1949), “Manhandled” (1949), “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950), “Denver & Rio Grande” (1952), “Flaming Feather” (1952), “Johnny Guitar” (1954), “Naked Alibi” (1954), and “The Killing” (1956). Late in his career Hayden became noted as a character actor for such roles as Gen. Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964); the Irish American policeman, Captain McCluskey, in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” (1972); and the novelist Roger Wade in “The Long Goodbye” (1973).
Hayden never lost his love of the sea and spent much of his time sailing the world between making movies. He often professed a distaste for film acting, claiming he did it mainly to pay for his ships and voyages. In 1969 Hayden bought a canal barge in the Netherlands, moving it to the heart of Paris and living on it part of the time. He also shared a home in Wilton, Connecticut with his family and had an apartment in Sausalito, California. After his appearance in “The Godfather”, Hayden appeared several times on NBC’s Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, where he talked about his career resurgence and how it had funded his travels and adventures around the world. Sterling Hayden also wrote two highly acclaimed books, an autobiography, Wanderer in 1962, and a novel Voyage in 1976.
Hayden was married five times. His first marriage was to actress Madeleine Carroll after the couple met and fell in love while filming “Virginia” in 1941. They were married on February 14, 1942 and divorced May 8, 1946. His next three marriages were to the same woman, Betty Ann de Noon. From 1947 to 1958 the couple were married and divorced three times. They had four children together. His last marriage was to Catherine Devine McConnell on March 9, 1960. Hayden and McConnell had two children together and remained married until his death in 1986.
Sterling Hayden died of prostate cancer in Sausalito, California in 1986, age 70.