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Jewish World Review
January 9, 2009
/ 13 Teves 5769
End of the year remembrances always list famous people who have died during the past year. As we begin 2009 I'd like to turn that idea around and name some celebrities who, although somewhat long in the tooth, are still very much with us today. So why not acknowledge them while they're still here? Bless them all.
Dolores Hope Bob's wife for nearly 70 years, Dolores first met her famous comedian husband when she was a singer in a Manhattan nightclub. Born in New York City on May 15, 1909 Dolores DeFina changed her name to Reade and began her singing career in the 1930's. She married Bob Hope in 1934. The couple raised four children, Eleanora, Anthony, Linda and Kelly. In the 1940s, Dolores began helping Bob on his tours entertaining U.S. troops overseas and she would continue to do so for over 50 years. In 1990, she was the only female entertainer allowed to perform in Saudi Arabia. At 83 she recorded her first CD, Dolores Hope: Now and Then. She followed this with three additional albums and also recorded a Christmas CD with Bob entitled Hopes for the Holidays.
Luise Rainer Born on January 12th, Miss Rainer and I share the same birthdate, although she beats me by 39 years. She is a two-time Academy Award winning actress and has the distinction of holding the earliest-awarded Oscars. Beginning her acting career on the stage in her home country of Germany, she was discovered by an MGM talent scout in 1935. She moved to Hollywood that year and studied English under Constance Collier. She made her first American film appearance opposite William Powell in Escapade (1935). Her next two films won her consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actress, first for her portrayal of actress Anna Held in "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936), for which she also won a New York Film Critic's Award, and next as a Chinese peasant in "The Good Earth" (1937). Miss Rainer later described winning the two Oscars as the "worst possible thing" to befall her career.
Gloria Stuart She has a Hollywood career that has spanned more than 75 years and is best known for her roles as Claude Rains' sweetheart in "The Invisible Man" (1933) and as the 101-year-old Rose in the movie, "Titanic" (1997). Born in Santa Monica she was signed by Universal Studios in the early 30's while appearing at the Passadena Playhouse and quickly made a secsession of pictures, becoming a favortite of director James Whale. She moved to 20th Century Fox and by the end of the decade made over 40 pictures. She was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Karl Malden was born March 22, 1912 in Chicago. He has enjoyed a career that has spanned over seven decades, including featured roles in classic films such as "A Streetcar Named Desire," "On the Waterfront," and "One-eyed Jacks." He also starred in the blockbuster movie, "Patton." Among other notable film roles are Archie Lee Meighan in "Baby Doll" and Zebulon Prescott in "How the West Was Won," both starring Carroll Baker. But undoubtedly his best-known role was on television as Lt. Mike Stone on the 1970s hit crime drama, "The Streets of San Fransico."
Art Linkletter If you watched any television at all in the 50's or 60's you know Art Linkletter. Yes, he's still around and he's 96 years old. A radio and television personallity and the former host of two of the longest-running shows in U.S. broadcast history: House Party, which ran on CBS radio and television for 25 years, and People Are Funny, on NBC radio-TV for 19 years. Linkletter was famous for interviewing children on House Party and his popular segment, Kids Say the Darndest Things led to a successful series of books quoting children.
Tony Martin A star actor and singer throughout Hollywood's "golden age" Tony Martin still performs today. Talk about endurance! Two recent performances in New York City took place on October 21, 2007, and October 22, 2007, at Feinstein's at the Regency Hotel. Martin, then 94 years old, got good reviews. He told stories of his days in Hollywood performing alongside iconic names such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Judy Garland, Lana turner, and his wife, Cyd Charisse. He then performed noted songs from his career, including: "Begin the Beguine," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "You Stepped Out of A Dream" and "A Foggy Day." He was married to Cyd Charisse for 60 years until her death last year.
Les Paul is another guy with amazing endurance. A true musical icon, Les Paul is a pioneer, innovator and jazz guitarist. He developed the solid-body electric guitar which made the sound of rock and roll possible. His many recording innovations include overdubbing, delay effects such as "sound on sound" and tape delay, phrasing effects, and multitrack recording. He's also a best-selling recording artist, having made a number of revolutionary recordings in the early 50's with his wife, Mary Ford, who sang. The couple's hits included "How High the Moon", "Bye Bye Blues", "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise", and "Vaya Con Dios". In 2006, at the age of 90, he won two Grammys at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards for his album Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played. He still performs every Monday night, accompanied by a trio at the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in New York City. Retire? Not Les Paul.
There are plenty of other long-lasting luminaries I could mention here. People like Budd Schulberg, Lou Jabobi, Kevin McCarthy, Norman Lloyd, Rise Stevens, Jack LaLanne, Olivia DeHavilland, Sherwood Schwartz, and Kirk Douglas.
Plus many more.
Living to a nice old age is a blessing if you can stay relatively healthy. You're off to a good start if you take proper care of yourself… and, of course, it doesn't hurt to have a good attitude, good luck and good genes in the bargain. Best of health and Happy New Year to all you young-thinking old timers!
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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