October 28, 2007

Second Gone with the Wind sequel ready

ATLANTA - Rhett Butler, the fictional Southern charmer who walked out of Scarlett O'Hara's life in "Gone with the Wind," returns to Georgia next weekend — on a book tour of sorts.

The book, to be unveiled Saturday, is a kind of retelling of Margaret Mitchell's masterpiece from Rhett's perspective and traces Butler from his roots in South Carolina to Georgia, where he met the dramatic Scarlett.

An Atlanta committee charged with protecting Mitchell's novel authorized the book, "Rhett Butler's People."

The novel begins long before Scarlett ever uttered her first "fiddle-dee-dee" and goes on for nearly 100 more pages beyond where Mitchell ended things with "Tomorrow is another day."

The book was written by little-known Civil War novelist Donald McCaig, 67. Though his occasional use of the N-word in his manuscript initially gave the committee pause, it accepted the manuscript.

This is the second companion novel authorized by the Mitchell committee. The first, "Scarlett" by Alexandra Ripley, released in 1991, was a financial success but unpopular with critics.

"Scarlett" sold more than 6 million copies and spawned a CBS miniseries.

Much has changed since then, though. "Scarlett" was splashed cross the pages of the now-defunct Life magazine, but Rhett Butler and his book have a MySpace page.

"The public itself wanted another sequel," said Paul Anderson Jr., part of the three-lawyer committee that advises the Mitchell estate on protecting and exercising the original book's copyright.

"But this is not like 'Rocky.' We're not coming back every time we think we can make another book," Anderson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

October 18, 2007

Deborah Kerr slideshow created by Meredy.
Deborah Kerr, star of 'From Here to Eternity' and 'The King and I,' dies

Deborah Kerr, the acclaimed British actress whose versatile talent and refined screen persona made her one of Hollywood's top leading ladies in the 1950s in films such as "From Here to Eternity," "The King and I" and "An Affair to Remember," has died. She was 86.

Kerr, who in recent years suffered from Parkinson's disease, died Tuesday in Suffolk, eastern England, her agent said today.

In a screen career that was launched in the early 1940s, Kerr received six best actress Academy Award nominations for her roles in "Edward, My Son" (1949), "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "The King and I" (1956), "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" (1957), "Separate Tables"(1958) and "The Sundowners" (1960).

Kerr received an honorary Oscar in 1994 for her body of work in films that also included "Tea and Sympathy," "Beloved Infidel" and "The Night of the Iguana." The award paid tribute to "an artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career has always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance."

The Scotland-born Kerr, who began her film career in England in 1940 and had been in 10 films before coming to Hollywood to co-star with Clark Gable in the 1947 MGM film "The Hucksters," was the postwar personification of the British gentlewoman.

Indeed, when she arrived in Hollywood after playing a nun in the British film "Black Narcissus," she not only was preceded by her reputation as a lady but for being, in the words of Laurence Olivier, "unreasonably chaste."

But Kerr memorably shattered her ladylike image in 1953 with "From Here to Eternity," in which she played an American Army officer's adulterous wife who has an affair with a first sergeant played by Burt Lancaster.

Her performance as the disillusioned Karen Holmes not only showed audiences a different side of Kerr, but the film boasts one of the most memorable shots in screen history: Kerr and Lancaster locked in a passionate embrace on a deserted Hawaiian beach as a wave washes over them.

"That certainly shook a few people up," Kerr said of her image-breaking role in a 1986 interview with the Chicago Tribune.

"Yes, people always think I'm the epitome of the English gentlewoman," she added with a laugh, "which just goes to show that things are never quite what they seem."

Kerr's versatility as an actress made her unique among Hollywood leading ladies of the 1950s, said Jeanine Basinger, head of the film studies program at Wesleyan University and the author of "A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women."

"Generally, you had sort of archetypes: female stars that were sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe and female stars that were ladylike like Audrey Hepburn. Deborah Kerr could do both," Basinger told The Times a few years ago. "She could play a sexy role, as in 'From Here to Eternity,' and also play a nun, as in 'Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.' "

But even while playing an adulterer in from "From Here to Eternity," Kerr is dignified, Basinger said. "She could give you the whole range in one performance, and that made her unique."

She was born Deborah Jane Kerr Trimmer in Helensburgh, Scotland, on Sept. 30, 1921, and was still a young child when her family moved to Alford, England.

Kerr, who loved to sing and dance as a child, won a scholarship to the Sadler's Wells ballet school in London and made her professional stage debut in 1938 as a member of the corps de ballet in "Prometheus."

"I was mad about ballet, but I grew too tall, and when I eventually realized I'd never become the second Margot Fonteyn, I auditioned for a play instead and got the part," she told the Chicago Tribune in 1986.

Kerr was playing walk-on parts with the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park in 1939 when London film agent John Gliddon saw the company's production of "Pericles," in which Kerr had a tiny role as a page boy who pours wine for his mistress. Kerr had no lines, but Gliddon later said he was so taken with the expressiveness of her eyes and her graceful movements, which suggested ballet training, that he sought her out afterward. Telling her that he thought she was "star material," Gliddon offered to put her under contract. Kerr was not yet 18.

Her film debut came in 1941, when Kerr played a Salvation Army worker in a screen adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw comedy "Major Barbara," starring Wendy Hiller and Rex Harrison.

Kerr's small but key role as Jenny Hill was, according to Eric Braun in his 1977 biography "Deborah Kerr," "a signpost to the kind of part in which she would excel -- moral fortitude concealed by a frail appearance."

In 1945, Kerr joined a touring company that performed "Gaslight" for British troops in France, Holland and Belgium. At a party in Brussels, she met Royal Air Forces squadron leader Anthony Bartley. They were married in November 1945 and had two daughters. The marriage ended in divorce in 1959; a year later Kerr married screenwriter and novelist Peter Viertel, who survives her, as do her two daughters and three grandchildren.

"Black Narcissus," a 1947 drama about nuns trying to establish a religious community in a Himalayan outpost, earned Kerr a New York Film Critics Circle Award as best actress for her portrayal of the nuns' leader. The film was shot just before Kerr arrived in Hollywood to co-star with Gable in "The Hucksters." Kerr had piqued the interest of MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer in "Perfect Strangers" in 1945.

When the actress was ushered in to meet Mayer for the first time, she was introduced as "Miss Deborah Kerr -- it rhymes with car." To which Mayer is said to have responded, "It rhymes with star." The studio used the phrase in promoting Kerr.

Signed to a seven-year contract with MGM, Kerr received her first best actress Oscar nomination playing Spencer Tracy's wife in George Cukor's 1949 drama "Edward, My Son."

Over the next four years, she appeared in films such as "Quo Vadis," "Julius Caesar," "King Solomon's Mines," "The Prisoner of Zenda" and "Young Bess."

Then came "From Here to Eternity."

Joan Crawford originally was scheduled to play the part of Karen Holmes in the screen version of James Jones' bestseller, which was set in Hawaii in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor. But Crawford had irked Columbia studio head Harry Cohn by insisting on using her own cameraman to shoot the picture.

When Kerr's agent asked her if she'd be interested in playing the part, she told him, "They'd never consider me. You must be crazy! Harry Cohn will kick you out of the office."

The next day, her agent called her and said, "You were right; he kicked me out of the office."

But that wasn't the end of the matter.

According to Braun's biography, when Cohn told producer Buddy Adler and director Fred Zinnemann that Kerr's agent had "suggested that English virgin from Metro" play Karen Holmes, both Adler and Zinnemann, Braun wrote, "looked at each other in frank astonishment and echoed: 'What a fantastic idea!' "

For the role, Kerr took voice training to sound American. She also dyed her hair blond. "I knew I could be sexy if I had to," she later said.

Zinnemann once said that by casting Kerr against her screen image, audiences would find it hard to believe she was an adulterer and that would make them curious to see what happened.

Kerr told Braun that Zinnemann's "encouragement of myself, in playing against type-casting, was a deciding factor in lifting me out of the rut of ladylike roles from which I'd begun to feel there was no exit."

Kerr later recalled that Zinnemann took a long time searching for the right beach to film her famous love scene with Lancaster.

"It had to have rocks in the distance, so the water could strike the boulders and shoot upward -- all very symbolic," she told The Times in 1982. "The scene turned out to be deeply affecting on film, but, God, it was no fun to shoot.

"We had to time it for the waves, so that at just the right moment a big one would come up and wash over us. Most of the waves came up only to our feet, but we needed one that would come up all the way. We were like surfers, waiting for the perfect wave. Between each take, we had to do a total cleanup. When it was all over, we had four tons of grit in our mouths -- and other places." Over the years, journalists employed a string of like-minded adjectives to describe Kerr. She was, they wrote, wholesome, cool, reserved and cultured. She demonstrated "grace and charm" and "ladylike spiritedness and wholesome sincerity," and she was the epitome of "the English gentlewoman."

For Kerr, the "ladylike" label was a constant source of irritation, and her response to it became a constant refrain in her interviews.

"Damn it, I am not a dowager empress," she told one interviewer.

But Kerr's "duchess" image persisted, particularly in America.

"Americans think if you're English you must of necessity be genteel, straight-laced, a little bit prim," she told the Washington Post in 1978. "But there's a difference between gentility and gentleness. I do think I exude a kind of gentleness that appeals to audiences. At least that's what my husband says when he's asked."

In 1953, Kerr made her Broadway debut in Robert Anderson's critically acclaimed play "Tea and Sympathy," in which she played the compassionate wife of a housemaster at a New England boys' school who befriends a sensitive 17-year-old student falsely accused by his classmates of being homosexual.

In the play's famous climactic scene, Kerr's character enters the room of the boy, whose emotional suffering has increased after a failed sexual encounter with the town tart to prove his manliness. Unbuttoning the top button of her blouse, she reaches out for the boy's hand and sits down on his bed.

"Years from now, when you talk about this -- and you will -- be kind," she said as the stage lights dimmed.

Elia Kazan, the play's director, later wrote in his 1988 autobiography, "Elia Kazan: A Life," that the play's ending produced the "awed silence that comes when the audience is deeply moved. There is nothing so eloquent and so heartening. When we had that, I knew we were going to run a long time."

Kerr reprised her role in the reworked and much-censored 1956 MGM film version of the play.

On screen the same year, she played another of her memorable roles, Anna, the governess in "The King and I," opposite Yul Brynner. In the film, according to Braun's biography, Kerr sang all of "I Whistle a Happy Tune" and sang well enough to do the lead-ins to most of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, but singer Marni Nixon sang "the high notes and those which needed sustaining."

After co-starring in Kazan's 1969 film "The Arrangement," Kerr made only one other theatrical feature film, "The Assam Garden" (1985). She didn't plan to retreat from the big screen in 1969 but was, she said, merely waiting for the next good part.

She found, however, that she was "either too young or too old" for the film roles that were offered to her, and she didn't want to do the kinds of movies that Hollywood had started making.

"Suddenly, everyone wanted explicit sex -- and far worse, explicit violence," she told the Chicago Tribune in 1986. "And I didn't want to end up doing a succession of 'star cameo roles.' You know, nine lines in 'Towering Inferno' or 11 lines in "Airport 104' or whatever, just to be in a film."

Kerr returned to the London stage in 1972, in "The Day After the Fair," followed by a tour of the United States in the same play the following year.

She continued acting on stage over the years, appearing in, among other productions, "The Corn is Green" in London; Edward Albee's "Seascape" on Broadway; and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" in Los Angeles. She also appeared in a number of TV and cable productions in the 1980s, including "Witness for the Prosecution," "A Woman of Substance," "Reunion at Fairborough" and "Hold the Dream."

In 1993, the popularity of the hit romantic comedy "Sleepless in Seattle" gave an unexpected boost to one of Kerr's most beloved movies, the 1957 tear-jerker "An Affair to Remember," a bittersweet love story co-starring Cary Grant.

In one scene, Meg Ryan, hoping to one day find Mr. Right, watches a video of "Affair" and sobs, "Those were the days when people knew how to be in love."

Said Kerr at the time: "I'm almost hysterical at the thought of making people cry with joy 30-odd years after Cary and I did our stuff. I've certainly shed tears at 'An Affair to Remember,' even though I know all the tricks of movie magic that went into it."

She added, "Believe me, Cary and I knew how to kiss. When we did a love scene, we may not have been trying to swallow each other but, for those brief moments, we just loved each other.

"I think I understand what women see in the movie. There is a sweetness that is appealing and far removed from today's crudities. It makes them realize that the world has lost something delightful."
Deborah Kerr Is Dead at 86

Deborah Kerr, a versatile actress who long projected the quintessential image of the proper, tea-sipping Englishwoman but who was also indelible in one of the most sexually provocative scenes of the 1950s, with Burt Lancaster in “From Here to Eternity,” died on Tuesday in Suffolk, England. She was 86.

Her death was announced to The Associated Press by her agent, Anne Hutton. She had Parkinson’s disease.

Miss Kerr was nominated for six Academy awards, without winning any, over more than four decades as a major Hollywood movie star. She finally received an honorary Oscar for her lifetime of work in 1994. Mostly in retirement since the mid-1980’s, she lived for many years in Switzerland, with her husband, Peter Viertel, the novelist and screenwriter.

The lovemaking on the beach in Hawaii with Mr. Lancaster, viewed with both of them in wet swimsuits as the tide came in, was hardly what anyone expected of Deborah Kerr at that point in her career. Along with Greer Garson and Jean Simmons, she was one of three leading ladies Americans thought of as typically British, and decidedly refined and upper-class. More than once she was referred to by directors, producers and newspapers as the “British virgin.”

Time magazine, in a 1947 feature article, predicted she would be one of the great movie stars because “while she could act like Ingrid Bergman, she was really a kind of converted Greer Garson, womanly enough to show up nicely in those womanly roles.”

Throughout her career, Miss Kerr worked at being unpredictable. She was believable as a steadfast nun in Black Narcissus; as the love-hungry wife of an empty-headed army captain stationed at Pearl Harbor in “From Here to Eternity”; as a headmaster’s spouse who sleeps with an 18-year-old student to prove to him that he is a man in “Tea and Sympathy”; as a spunky schoolmarm not afraid to joust and dance with the King of Siam in “The King and I”; as a Salvation Army lass in “Major Barbara”; and even as Portia, the Roman matron married to Brutus, in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

She could be virginal, ethereal, gossamer and fragile, or earthy, spicy and suggestive, and sometimes she managed to display all her skills at the same time.

Miss Kerr made “From Here to Eternity” even though Harry Cohn, chief of Columbia Pictures in that era, had wanted Joan Crawford in the part and had to be persuaded to accept Miss Kerr. She regarded the role as the high point in her climb to stardom in the United States, and it yielded her second Academy Award nomination.

Another high point came in 1956, when she was given the film role that Gertrude Lawrence had played on the stage in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I.” She played opposite Yul Brynner, who recreated his stage performance as the strutting king in the film.

Bosley Crowther, reviewing the movie version for The New York Times, praised “her beauty, her spirit and her English style.” Her singing for classics numbers like “Getting to Know You” was dubbed by the offscreen voice of many Hollywood stars of the time, Marni Nixon. But her acting needed no assistance; she was nominated for another Academy Award.

She also received Oscar nominations for “Edward, My Son” (released in 1949), “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison” (1957); “Separate Tables” (1958); and “The Sundowners” (1960). Other notable roles came in “Major Barbara” (1941, her first credited film role); “Julius Caesar” (1953); and “Tea and Sympathy” (1956), based on the Robert Anderson play.

Miss Kerr was applauded in the Broadway stage production of the play as well. After Brooks Atkinson of The Times saw the original production, he wrote that Miss Kerr had “the initial advantage of being extremely beautiful, but she adds to her beauty the luminous perception who is aware of everything that is happening all around her and expresses it in effortless style.”

Miss Kerr struggled against being pigeonholed by the public as somehow representing the British upper class, and was said to have instructed friends to tell anyone who asked that she preferred cold roast beef sandwiches and beer to champagne and caviar any day. But she is also quoted in a 1977 biography by Eric Braun as saying that “the camera always seems to find an innate gentility in me.”

Deborah Jane Kerr Trimmer was born in Helensburgh, Scotland, on Sept. 30, 1921, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Kerr Trimmer. Her father, who was called Jack, was an architect and civil engineer who had been wounded in World War I and who died when Deborah was in her early teens.

Her aunt, Phyllis Smale, had a school of drama and insisted that Deborah and her younger brother take lessons in acting, ballet and singing. Deborah was attracted to the ballet but concluded that she was too tall, at 5 feet 6 inches. She began her acting career by playing small parts with a group that performed Shakespeare’s plays in the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park, London.

She got her first movie contract in 1939 after Gabriel Pascal, the producer and director, spotted her in a restaurant.

During the war, she read children’s stories on BBC radio. She made movies, too, among them “Penn of Pennsylvania,” “The Day Will Dawn,” and “The Avengers.”

By 1945, she was much sought after by British filmmakers and was cast opposite Robert Donat in “Perfect Strangers.” Her career was further enhanced when she appeared as a nun in “Black Narcissus” in 1947. However, after the movie was released in the United States, it was called “an affront to religion and religious life” by the National Legion of Decency.

Miss Kerr was married to Anthony Bartley, an Englishman who had been a decorated fighter pilot during World War II, for 13 years. They were separated in 1959 and their divorce became final the next year. They had two children, Melanie and Francesca. In 1969, she married Peter Viertel, who survives her, along with her daughters and three grandchildren, according to The Associated Press.
Obituary: Deborah Kerr

Actress Deborah Kerr, who appeared in almost 50 films, was often regarded as the actress who, more than any other, successfully exported her Britishness to Hollywood.

Her image was of a refined, lady-like and level-headed person - the perfect English rose. She never liked the image, not least because she was born in Scotland.

Within a few years, her family moved to the south of England, and she went to boarding school in Bristol. At first she studied for the ballet, but then decided on acting.

An aunt taught drama in Bristol, and it was from her that she learned her stagecraft. Just before World War II, she had walk-on parts at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park in London.

A film agent saw her, and by the time she was 20, Kerr had played important parts in three films including Major Barbara and Love on the Dole.

She was then in two of the most successful wartime British films, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Perfect Strangers.

Shortly after the war, she gave a sensitive performance as a nun in Black Narcissus. She was signed up by MGM and went to Hollywood on a £750-a-week contract.

Initially her roles were almost all typecast as the world's idea of an elegant Englishwoman, but soon she showed that her range was considerably wider.

The image of gentility took a knock in 1953 in From Here to Eternity when, as a lusting wife, she rolled in the surf with Burt Lancaster in what was, for the time, a tempestuous love scene.

Her performances earned her an Oscar nomination. In various films, she played opposite Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner and Cary Grant.

She received five further Oscar nominations for her performances in Edward My Son, The King and I, The End of the Affair, Heaven Knows Mr Allison, Separate Tables and The Sundowners.

On the stage, she gave a notable performance on Broadway in 1953 in Tea and Sympathy - a role she repeated on the screen.

After a period of retirement, she returned to acting, most notably in 1985's The Assam Garden.

In 1994, in poor health, she was the most touching participant in the Oscars ceremony, receiving an honorary award to make up for her six unrewarded nominations.

She was twice married, first just after the war to a Battle of Britain pilot. They had two daughters and the marriage was dissolved in 1959.

Since 1960, she moved to Switzerland with her second husband, US scriptwriter Peter Viertel.
British actress Kerr dies at 86

British actress Deborah Kerr, known to millions for her roles in The King And I, Black Narcissus and From Here To Eternity, has died at the age of 86.

Born in Scotland in 1921, the actress made her name in British films before becoming successful in Hollywood.

Nominated for the best actress Oscar six times, she was given an honorary award by the Academy in 1994.

Kerr, who had suffered from Parkinson's disease for a number of years, died in Suffolk on Tuesday, her agent said.

The actress, who was made a CBE in 1997, had lived in Switzerland but returned to England to be near her family when her illness worsened.

She leaves a husband, the novelist and screenwriter Peter Viertel, two daughters and three grandchildren.

Kerr began her career in regional British theatres and entertained the troops during World War II.

Her first major screen role came in 1941's Major Barbara, while her last came in 1985's The Assam Garden.

Between them she appeared alongside such Hollywood icons as Burt Lancaster, Cary Grant and Robert Mitchum.

Notable British films include The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, in which she played three roles, and Black Narcissus, which saw as a nun in the Himalayas.

She remains best known, however, for her torrid sex scene with Lancaster in From Here to Eternity and for dancing with Yul Brynner in The King and I.

From the late 1960s onwards she concentrated on theatre and television roles.

Kerr always played down her success, attributing it to her having had "an awful lot of luck".

Her honorary Oscar came in recognition of "an artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career has always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance".

"I must confess, I've had a marvellous time," she said as she collected the statuette.
Scottish-born actress Deborah Kerr dies aged 86

LONDON - Scottish-born actress Deborah Kerr, best known for her performance as the adulterous wife alongside Burt Lancaster in the 1953 film "From Here to Eternity," has died at age 86.

Her agent Anne Hutton said she died on Tuesday in Suffolk, eastern England.

"Her family was with her at the time. She had suffered from Parkinson's disease for some time and had just had her 86th birthday and so was an elderly lady. She just slipped away," Hutton said on Thursday.

Kerr's flame-haired beauty and image as an English rose made her a darling of Hollywood, and she starred in more than 40 films spanning nearly 50 years in cinema.

"Her type of refined sensuality proved refreshingly attractive, since it hinted at hidden desires and forbidden feelings, giving her acting an extra edge and interest," the Daily Telegraph wrote in its obituary.

Born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer on September 30, 1921, in Helensburgh, Scotland, she trained in ballet before moving on to theater, and then film.

The actress landed her breakthrough screen role as a frightened Salvation Army worker in the all-star adaptation of the satire, "Major Barbara."

However, it was her work in three separate parts in the 1943 Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger production "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," as the various women in the hero's life, that brought her wider recognition.

In 1947 Kerr moved to Hollywood, and in 1953 she shattered her prim image by playing an adulterous Army wife who has an affair with another officer, played by Lancaster.

Their infamous embrace on the beach, lapped by the waves, is one of the most enduring in cinema, and the role earned Kerr her second Academy Award nomination for best actress following that for "Edward, My Son" four years earlier.

Ever conscious of her image, Kerr joked while shooting bathing suit tests for the scene: "I feel naked without my tiara."

Her third Oscar nomination came for the 1956 picture "The King and I," in which she famously played a governess opposite Yul Brynner's Siamese monarch. She went on to garner three more best actress nominations, none of which she won.

She was finally awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1994 "in appreciation for a full career's worth of elegant and beautifully crafted performances."

In 1945 Kerr married Anthony Bartley, an RAF hero of the Battle of Britain. They had two daughters and divorced in the late 1950s. She married screenwriter Peter Viertel in 1960.

She is survived by Viertel, two daughters and three grandsons.
Turner Classic Movies to Honor Six-Time Oscar Nominee Deborah Kerr

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will pay special tribute to six-time Oscar nominee Deborah Kerr, who passed away at the age of 86. On Sunday, Oct. 21, TCM will present a special double feature of two of Kerr's most memorable nominated roles. At 8 p.m., she stars as a lonely military wife who seeks happiness through an illicit affair in From Here to Eternity (1953), co-starring Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed. And at 10:15 p.m., she plays a spinster who is completely dominated by her mother while staying at an English seaside resort in Separate Tables (1958), with Lancaster and Oscar winners David Niven and Wendy Hiller.

"Deborah Kerr was one of the great jewels of the movie industry," said TCM host Robert Osborne. "Not only was she an immensely gifted and versatile actress, but also someone who made every film she touched better."
Deborah Kerr: An Actress to Remember

Deborah Kerr's last name, as often pointed out, rhymes with star.

Kerr, the proper leading lady who let her henna hair down with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity, suffered through a star-crossed romance with Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember, and reached out to the imperious Yul Brynner in The King and I, has died.

Kerr passed away Tuesday in England, her agent told the Associated Press. She was 86, and had been suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Asix-time Academy Award nominee, Kerr reigned in the 1950s and 1960s.

"It was sheer economics," Kerr told the New York Times in 1953. "There was a demand for a red-haired, porcelain-skinned heroine and I was just a natural for it. It's nobody's fault."

Kerr was to blame, however, for making her red-haired, porcelain-skinned heroines so human. Her blue blood ran red, as audiences became acutely aware of in From Here to Eternity, where the married Kerr lusts after Lancaster, her military husband's subordinate. Their passionate kiss in the rolling surf is the 1953's movie quintessential image, and one of Hollywood's most iconic clinches.

Kirk Douglas, who worked with Kerr in her last major Hollywood film, the 1969 drama The Arrangement, remembered his costar Thursday as "not only a fine actress but always a fine lady."

Kerr earned a Best Actress nomination for Eternity, as she did for one of her other most famous movies, 1956's The King and I. Kerr didn't really sing in the musical (the voice belonged to Marni Nixon, the soprano heard, but not seen, in My Fair Lady and West Side Story), but really did glide across the palace floor with Brynner in the showpiece number, "Shall We Dance?"

Kerr's other Oscar nominations were for the 1949 drama of paternal obsession, Edward, My Son; the 1957 shipwreck romance, costarring Robert Mitchum, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison; the 1958 all-star soap opera, Separate Tables; and 1960's sheep-herding epic, The Sundowners, also costarring Mitchum.

Despite racking up four nominations in five years, Kerr never won. She was, however, presented with an honorary Oscar in 1994.

The Academy honor came a year after Kerr virtually costarred in Sleepless in Seattle. The Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romantic comedy is obsessed with Kerr and Grant's An Affair to Remember, with the movie's plot points of chance encounters and car crashes lovingly, and for comedic effect, tearfully retold.

Born Sept. 30. 1921, in Scotland, Kerr was raised and began her acting career in Britain.

She made her Hollywood debut in 1946, and started right at the top, starring opposite the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable, in The Hucksters. As the scope of Hollywood movies got bigger—the better to compete with television—so did the breadth of Kerr's roles. She traipsed through the Congo in 1950's King Solomon's Mines, romanced old Rome in 1951's Quo Vadis and had Brutus' back, who got Caesar's back, in 1953's Julius Caesar.

In 1953, Kerr made her Broadway debut in the young-man-older-woman drama, Tea and Sympathy. She later starred in its 1956 film version opposite her stage costar, John Kerr (no relation).

By the mid-1960s, Kerr was in her mid-40s, and the world was in its adolescence. By the end of the decade, she was all but out of film. She returned to Broadway in 1975's Seascape, and rated an Emmy nomination for the 1984 TV miniseries A Woman of Substance.

"You have all made my life truly a happy one," Kerr said at the 1994 Oscars. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Actress Deborah Kerr dies at age 86

LONDON - Deborah Kerr, who shared one of Hollywood's most famous kisses and made her mark with such roles as the correct widow in "The King and I" and the unhappy officer's wife in "From Here to Eternity," has died. She was 86.

Kerr, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, died Tuesday in Suffolk in eastern England, her agent, Anne Hutton, said Thursday.

For many she will be remembered best for her kiss with Burt Lancaster as waves crashed over them on a Hawaiian beach in the wartime drama "From Here to Eternity."

Kerr's roles as forceful, sometimes frustrated women pushed the limits of Hollywood's treatment of sex on the screen during the censor-bound 1950s.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated Kerr a six times for best actress, but never gave her an Academy Award until it presented an honorary Oscar in 1994 for her distinguished career as an "artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career has always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance."

She had the reputation of a "no problem" actress.

"I have never had a fight with any director, good or bad," she said toward the end of her career. "There is a way around everything if you are smart enough."

Kerr (pronounced CARR) was the only daughter of Arthur Kerr-Trimmer, a civil engineer and architect who died when she was 14.

Born in Helensburgh, Scotland, she moved with her parents to England when she was 5, and she started to study dance in the Bristol school of her aunt, Phyllis Smale.

Kerr won a scholarship to continue studying at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School in London. A 17 she made her stage debut as a member of the corps de ballet in "Prometheus."

She soon switched to drama, however, and began playing small parts in repertory theater in London until it was shut down by the 1939 outbreak of World War II.

After reading children's stories on British Broadcasting Corp. radio, she was given the part of a hatcheck girl with two lines in the film "Contraband," but her speaking role ended on the cutting-room floor.

After more repertory acting she had another crack at films, reprising her stage role of Jenny, a Salvation Army worker, in a 1940 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara," and receiving favorable reviews both in Britain and the United States.

She continued making films in Britain during the war, including one — "Colonel Blimp" — in which she played three different women over a span of decades.

"It is astonishing how she manages to make the three parts distinctly separate as characterizations," said New Movies magazine at the time.

Kerr was well-reviewed as an Irish spy in "The Adventuress" and as the tragic girlfriend of a Welsh miner in "Love on the Dole."

She was invited to Hollywood in 1946 to play in "The Hucksters" opposite Clark Gable. She went on to work with virtually all the other top American actors and with many top directors, including John Huston, Otto Preminger and Elia Kazan.

Tired of being typecast in serene, ladylike roles, she rebelled to win a release from her MGM contract and get the role of Karen Holmes in "From Here to Eternity."

Playing the Army officer's alcoholic, sex-starved wife in a fling with Lancaster as a sergeant opened up new possibilities for Kerr.

She played virtually every part imaginable from murderer to princess to a Roman Christian slave to a nun.

In "The King and I," with her singing voice dubbed by Marni Nixon, she was Anna Leonowens, who takes her son to Siam so that she can teach the children of the king, played by Yul Brynner.

Her best-actress nominations were for "Edward, My Son" (1949), "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "The King and I" (1956), "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" (1957), "Separate Tables" (1958), and "The Sundowners" (1960).

Among her other movies is "An Affair to Remember" with Cary Grant.

Other notable roles were in "The Sundowners," "Beloved Infidel," "The Innocents" (an adaptation of the Henry James novella "Turn of the Screw"), "The Night of the Iguana" with Richard Burton and "The Arrangement" with Kirk Douglas.

After "The Arrangement" in 1968, she took what she called a "leave of absence" from acting, saying she felt she was "either too young or too old" for any role she was offered.

Kerr told The Associated Press that she turned down a number of scripts, either for being too explicit or because of excessive violence.

She refused to play a nude scene in "The Gypsy Moths," released in 1968. "It was when they started that `Now everybody has got to take their clothes off,'" she said. "My argument was that it was completely gratuitous. Had it been necessary for the dramatic content, I would have done it."

In fact she undressed for "The Arrangement," even though the scene was later cut. "There the nude scene was necessary, husband and wife in bed together," Kerr said. "That was real."

She returned to the stage, acting in Edward Albee's "Seascape" on Broadway and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" in Los Angeles.

Her Broadway debut was in 1953, when she was acclaimed as Laura Reynolds, a teacher's wife who treats a sensitive student compassionately in "Tea and Sympathy."

After a full season in New York, she took it on a national tour and recreated the role in a movie in 1956.

Kerr was active until the mid-1980s, with "The Assam Garden," "Hold the Dream" and "Reunion at Fairborough" all in 1985.

She told the AP that TV reruns of her old movies have "kept me alive" for a new generation of film fans.

In 1946 Kerr married Anthony Charles Bartley, whom she had met as a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force. They had two daughters and were divorced in 1959. A year later she married Peter Viertel, a novelist-screenwriter, with whom she lived on a large estate with two trout ponds in the Swiss Alpine resort of Klosters and in a villa in Marbella, Spain.

Kerr is survived by Viertel, two daughters and three grandchildren.

October 16, 2007

October 15, 2007

Actress Marsha Hunt Still Spry at 90

LOS ANGELES - Marsha Hunt turns 90 on Oct. 17, but you'd hardly know it. Her lovely face remains almost wrinkle-free, she is slim and vigorous, and she has total recall of her life in Hollywood, including the infamous studio blacklist that almost killed her career.

Her 89th year has been a busy one. She was a guest of honor at the Noir Film Festival in San Francisco, where one of her films, "Raw Deal," was shown. And she later acted in a short noir drama filmed nearby. "I got it in one take," she says proudly.

Last spring, she recited a traditional poem at the Hollywood Bowl's annual Easter sunrise service. She was supposed to read the selection, but because of an eye ailment she memorized all 96 lines, getting through it "without a net to catch me."

She recently produced an album of pop songs by young Tony London, accompanied by the Page Cavanagh Trio. And she's the subject of three paper-doll collectables dressed in the high-fashion designs she wore on the screen, as well as a coffee-table book, "The Way We Wore," a gallery of her studio fashion photos.

Then there's the fan mail, which pours in because of screenings of her movies on TCM, AMC and European TV.

Hunt talked volubly during a recent interview at the sprawling San Fernando Valley ranch house where she's lived for more than six decades.

The blacklist is not among Hunt's favorite topics of conversation, but she agreed to discuss that dark period in Hollywood history, when congressmen hauled actors, writers and directors into hearings to test whether they were communists. Scores of careers were ruined.

At the time, Hunt was doing a lot of work in this new medium called television.

"I was hot," she recalled. "I did the first Shakespeare that was coast to coast on TV. I was on the cover of Life magazine. I did a lot of talk shows, and three networks offered me my own talk show."

She took time out of her busy schedule for her first visit to Paris, and when she returned, the offers for her own show were rescinded. She soon found the reason: she had been accused of leftist leanings by Red Channels, a publication that targeted supposed communists.

"I had one phony excuse after another, and I realized that I was now a leper," she said. She figures she was targeted because she had spoken out at gatherings that opposed the red hunts "but none of them had any whiff of communism." She had to wait seven years before the offers started again.

"It was never really over," she commented. "They never really acknowledged it because this was strictly illegal. It was restraint of trade, against the law in this country."

Born Marcia Virginia Hunt in Chicago and reared in New York City, her father was an insurance executive and her mother was a vocal coach and opera singer. She skipped college to attend drama school, modeling with the John Powers agency as a sideline.

When she was 17 in 1935, she paid her first visit to Hollywood, telling interviewers that she wasn't interested in movies even though she had "dreamed my whole life about being in films." The headline read, "Model Spurns Films." The result: four offers from studios. She chose Paramount.

After 12 films in two years and another year idle, she was dropped and spent a year and a half freelancing. She made three films at MGM as a per diem player

"MGM was sheer magic," she remarked. "When I arrived at the studio for a one-day role, they parked my car. I went on the set and found a director's chair with a sign on it, 'Miss Hunt.' Another sign was on my dressing room. I said to myself, 'Any studio that treats a one-day player that way, really knows how to make pictures.' They won my loyalty."

She signed a term contract with the studio and made three B films, each taking a week to make — Monday through Saturday. Soon she was elevated to A films.

Even though MGM boasted "more stars than there are in heaven," Hunt found there was no caste system — "though you didn't invade (the stars') privacy."

She recalled being in Hong Kong after making a film in the Philippines. She was in a shop at the Peninsula Hotel, where she had ordered a dress made for her. It wasn't ready and she was leaving for the U.S. She looked up and saw Clark Gable beside her. She had never met him, but he knew who she was.

"I can pick up your dress and deliver it when I get home," he said. Two weeks later, Gable rang the bell at her house and delivered the dress to her astonished husband.

Hunt made three films with Greer Garson_ "Pride and Prejudice," "Blossoms in the Dust" and "Valley of Decision," and had one encounter with Greta Garbo.

Garbo thought of cutting the long hair she had worn in every movie. One day Hunt, who wore a short feather cut, got a call to report to the Garbo set where the star inspected her hair and nodded. Garbo wore Hunt's cut in "Two-faced Woman," which happened to be her last movie.

How does Marsha Hunt feel about reaching 90?

"I'm so delighted about all of it," she said with enthusiasm. "I've had the fullest 90 years imaginable. I can't think of a year that was wasted. They were so crammed with variety and privilege and opportunity.

"I can't wait for the next 10. Then I'll look and see if it's worth hanging around."