Friday, December 02, 2011

They never quite became stars

Ed here: I read TCM's Movie Morlocks whenever I get a chance. Recently I found this piece about actors who had a chance to become stars but never quite made it to the big big time. This is a pretty cool piece. Read the whole thing and I think you'll agree. You'll also have some of your own nominees for people who should've made it.

The Stars That Never Shone
Posted by Greg Ferrara on September 28, 2011

Every star started out small. Depending on the time and era of any given star’s ascendance they may have done time on stage, television or played bit parts in films working their way up the ladder. The stars that everyone knows, the ones of which even the most casual filmgoer is aware, from Bette Davis, James Cagney and Katherine Hepburn to Peter O’Toole, Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, are the ones that had not only the talent, not only the charisma, not only the charm but, crucially, the right roles at the right time to make an impression, a big one. Think Dustin Hoffman. A talented actor who, were it not for The Graduate, may have labored as a character actor for years before stardom or, perhaps, never achieved it at all. I think he would have anyway but what do I know? I only know his career from the trajectory it took so any speculation I may have on whether or not he would have become a star without The Graduate is severely biased by that pesky little thing, reality.

But there are other actors who were given the lead role, not once, not twice, but several times and every time, they came up short. Oh, not necessarily in their performances, mind you. The audience simply didn’t respond to them, for whatever reason. They were given the opportunity to become a star. They were pushed by the powers that be to hit the big time but they never did. These actors, the stars that never shone, are the actors that fascinate me, at times, more than the stars. What must it be like to get so close only to be pulled away by the unblinking forces of gravity, always tugging, always willing to bring the starry-eyed back down to earth?

Of course, for those it happens to, I imagine there’s nothing but gratitude at being given the chance and enjoying a rich, rewarding and successful career filling character roles when the leads dried up. Back in the studio days of Hollywood, stars were crafted and when it didn’t work, the actor in question was either relegated to character roles or leads in B pictures. One that comes to mind is Lizabeth Scott. She was given big parts in big films but her brand of charisma never quite took hold enough to become one of the big-time stars. And not for not trying either. In fact, Scott was practically given the keys to the kingdom. After her unsettling, bizarre and off-kilter portrayal of Toni in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, she received starring roles opposite Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell and Burt Lancaster. Despite this obvious advantage, she never became a hit with the public as did Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner or Veronica Lake. She was a star, all right, but a minor one.

for the rest go here:


August West said...

Also it is nice that she is still with us at the age of 89. Not many left from that era. My favorite film of hers is "Dead Reckoning." Between her and Bogart they must of smoked 200 cigarettes in it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved her. To me she was a major star. Great voice, great look. And yes, Dead Reckoning is a doozy/