Phyllis Haver (January 6, 1899 – November 19, 1960) was an American actress of the silent film era.
Haver was born January 6, 1899 in Douglass, Kansas. When she was a child her family moved to Los Angeles, California, then a city of less than half a million people. Haver attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High. After graduating, she played piano to accompany the new silent films in local theaters.
Producer Mack Sennett saw her and hired her to be one of his “Sennett Bathing Beauties”. Between 1916-20 she appeared in more than thirty five short films for Sennett Studios. With her curvy figure and blonde hair she quickly became one of the most popular of Sennett’s bathing beauties.
Haver appeared in “The Balloonatic” (1923) a short starring Buster Keaton. She co-starred with Olive Borden in “Fig Leaves” (1926) and with Victor McLaglen in “What Price Glory” (1926). Haver won rave reviews for her performances as Roxie Hart in Cecil B DeMille’s “Chicago” (1927) opposite Hungarian film actor Victor Varconi. One reviewer called her performance “astoundingly fine,” and added that Haver “makes this combination of tragedy and comedy a most entertaining piece of work.” She also performed in the comedy film “The Battle of the Sexes” (1928) and appeared with Lon Chaney in his last silent film, “Thunder” (1929).
In 1929, Haver married millionaire William Seeman with a service performed by New York Mayor James J. Walker at the home of Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist. They moved into a penthouse in New York City and Haver retired from acting. She said she loved being a wife and never wanted to return to Hollywood. Unfortunately after sixteen years of marriage Haver and Seeman divorced in 1945. The couple had no children.
When Haver married Seeman in 1929, she was still under contract to Cecil B. DeMille. Haver told DeMille she was ending her contract with him under the “Act of God” clause. Stunned, DeMille asked, “What Act of God?” Haver replied, “If marrying a millionaire isn’t an Act of God, I don’t know what is.” DeMille let her go.
Haver lived her later years in relative comfort in Sharon, Connecticut, but as she grew older she became more reclusive. She lived in a large house and rarely had visitors. Her only companion was her longtime housekeeper. Haver reportedly made several suicide attempts and was devastated when her former boss and good friend Mack Sennett died.
On November 19, 1960, just fourteen days after Sennetts death, 61-year-old Phyllis Haver died from an overdose of barbiturates, a suspected suicide. She was found by her housekeeper in her bed, fully dressed and wearing make-up. Haver was buried at Grassy Hills Cemetery in Falls Village, CT.
Elisha Cook, Jr. was an American character actor whose acting career spanned more than 60 years with roles in films such as “The Maltese Falcon” (1941), “The Big Sleep” (1946) and “Shane” (1953).
Elisha Cook was born December 26, 1903 in San Francisco, California. He grew up in Chicago and started out in vaudeville by the age of fourteen. Cook made his first big screen role at the age of seventeen in “The Unborn Child” in 1930. Cook spent his next few years as a traveling actor in the East Coast and the Midwest before arriving in New York City where Eugene O’Neill cast him in his play “Ah, Wilderness!”, which ran on Broadway for two years (1933-35). After his Broadway run Cook settled in Hollywood where he began a movie career of playing weaklings, sadistic losers, and small time gangsters, quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s most notable fall guys. Although short and slight of frame his ability to play these type of roles, many times with such passion and ferocity, he was often referred to as the movie industry’s lightest ‘heavy’.
Elisha Cook’s most memorable Hollywood film role was as the “gunsel” Wilmer Cook who tries to intimidate Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon” (1941). It was to Cook whom Bogart spat, “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter”. Cook is also remembered for the sexual innuendo in his scene as the mysterious drummer Cliff March after encountering Ella Raines in “Phantom Lady” (1944). Other notable roles included the doomed informant Harry Jones in “The Big Sleep” (1946), a henchman of the murderous title character in “Born to Kill” (1947), the pugnacious ex-Confederate soldier ‘Stonewall’ Torrey in “Shane” (1953), and George Peatty, the shady, cuckolded husband in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” (1956).
Cook also had roles in movies such as “Ball of Fire’ (1941), “Dark Waters” (1944), “House on Haunted Hill” (1959) and “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968). He also made a couple rare appearances in slapstick comedy as the cameo role of The Screenwriter in “Hellzapoppin'” (1941) and in “A-Haunting We Will Go” (1942) with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
During his career Cook appeared in many television series including “Adventures of Superman”, “The Real McCoys”, “The Wild Wild West”, “The Fugitive”, “Perry Mason”, “Star Trek”, “Batman” and had a long-term recurring role as Honolulu crime lord ‘Ice Pick’ on CBS’s hit series “Magnum, P.I.”.
Cook lived most of his adult life California, typically summering on Lake Sabrina in the Sierra Nevada. According to the legendary director John Huston, who directed him in The Maltese Falcon: “[Cook] lived alone up in the High Sierra, tied flies and caught golden trout between films. When he was wanted in Hollywood, they sent word up to his mountain cabin by courier. He would come down, do a picture, and then withdraw again to his retreat.”
Cook was married twice, to Mary Lou Cook in 1929 (divorced in 1942) and Peggy McKenna Cook in 1943, a union which lasted until his death. He had no children.
Elisha Cook Jr. died of a stroke on May 18, 1995 in Big Pine, California, aged 91. At the time of his death Cook was the last surviving member of the main cast of “The Maltese Falcon”.
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.