The Birmingham News from Birmingham, Alabama on February 27, 1955 · 71
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The Birmingham News from Birmingham, Alabama · 71

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Birmingham, Alabama
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Sunday, February 27, 1955
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71
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ie S&rmmxjlram Nttcr ENTERTAINMENT SECTION Movies, Pages 2 and 3 Radio-TV, Page 5 Fine Arts, Page 6 Books, Page 7 SECTION E SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1 955 BY VIVIAN BOULTINGHOUSE, for The Birmingham New When Cathy O'Donnell, whose real name is Ann Steely, was so tiny that her feet didn't reach the floor of her father's theater in Siluria, Ala., she wanted to be an actress and appeared in her first plays up in the attic with the neighborhood children. Today, she has to her credit a whole string of real stage, Selznick, however, had prob-screen and television plays. But, in a sense, Cathy, who has recently finished playing the feminine lead opposite James Stewart in Columbias The Man From Laramie," is still play acting. Here, she has what thousands of girls strug-gle for and dream about but to Future husband her, in the final analysis, it isnt important Good life ITS VERY NICE, being a wife and an actress, Cathy says. The pretty, brown-eyed Alabamian has been married to Screen Writer Robert Wyler (brother of the famous director, William Wyler) for almost seven years. Off stage she is just about the most unprofessional looking and acting professional actress in Hollywood and is the embodiment of all the charm, feminine qualties and breeding that are synonymous with Southern women I dont do anything too much everything is peaceful at home and acting breaks up the peaceful monotony and keeps me active in a creative way. Id never sacrifice my life for a career, she emphasized. It doesn't pay. All this grasping, grabbing and shoving just to further a career and trying to acquire things not one but two or three cars, a big house, swimming pool, regardless of their unimportance is com-pletely frightening. It isnt enough just to maintain the proper balance between your home and career . . . with all your might you have to hang onto your sense of values. I make haste slowly, in a leisurely. Southern m a n n e r, she added, smiling. IT WAS DURING the filming of "The Best Years of Our Life that she met her husband. It was just a casual encounter on the set and I made absolutely no impression on him, she recalls We met again at RKO when I was making They Live by Night We used to run into each other at lunch and one day he. asked me out to dinner. That was it. Her other picture credits include Bury Me Dead, "The Spiritualists, Side Street, "The Miniver Story and "The Detective Story plus three made in England Sequel to Mrs. Miniver, "Womans Angle and Eight oclock Walk. Professionally Cathy has become identified with the girl-next-door and she came out with a very blunt no when asked if she had ever wanted to play a bad girl or mean woman. My agent .. tells me that 1 should accept some of these roles, but I wont. I like to play the part of the girl with whom the boy falls in love. The part of a good woman or girl offers more of a professional challenge as it is harder to make believable and attract attention. It is much easier to play an off-beat part, say that of an insane person or out-and-out no good woman. The girl-next-door type of characterization doesnt need to be the same thing, picture after picture, if an actress really explores the part. Smooth career AND, EVER SINCE the fovorfp roes young Alabama actress played rOVOnre ro,es Wilma, the girl who married filma, the an armless boy in The Best Years of Our Life, her first picture, her career has just slid along, real easy-like. Nothing tremendously big as happened, she hastened to explain. "Its nice, she replied when I asked her how about The Man from Laramie. This reply describes Cathy. She doesn't see any reason for her way of life changing now, just because she happened to play opposite an actor with A tremendous box office draw. Cathy was "born in Siluria, where her father, the late Grady Steely, was a school teacher as well as operating the towns movie theater which showed films only on Friday nights. When she was 7, the family moved to Greensboro, Ala., and, at 12, Oklahoma City, Okla where her mother and brother. SfiCg!! a law are at Little Theater living. Never faltered SHE NEVER lost sight of her childhood ambition, to be an actress, and throughout high school she was in all of the plays. After graduation, she attended business college for six months and in late 1941 went to work as a secretary in the Army Induction Center so that she could save enough money to enter New Yorks American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After accumulating only $50 she was fired for playing hookey one afternoon. Then she took private lessons from Wayne Campbell, head of the drama department at Oklahoma City University, where the next year ehe enrolled as a regular student and made her real debut as an actress. She first appeared In Letters to Lucerne, followed by Juliet in the Shake-spearan classic and a role in Brief Music. The next year she went to work for a wholesale firm but she was unhappy, and, a little later quit, coming to visit relatives near Hollywood. Though she came armed with letters to important people in the movie Industry she never even got inside a studio until a chance meeting at the counter of a. drugstore with an agent who introduced her to Samuel Gold-wyn. He signed her to a contract on the spot. But there was still much work to be done before she was ever inside a sound stage. More study SHE STUDIED under the studio teachers, appeared in Little Women at the Pasadena Playhouse and then was sent by the studio to the New York American Academy of Dramatic Arts, thus realizing a goal of some years earlier. With studio cooperation she was given a trial for the Chicago company of Life with Father, landing the role of Mary, the ingenue, and playing in Chicago, Washington, D. C., and Boston. Director William Wyler (now her brother-in-law) saw her Washington performance and decided she was the girl for the part of Wilma in the Goldwyn production, The Best Years of Our Life. She changed her name for pictures, selecting Cathy because the film, Wuth-ering Heights," had made such an impression on her. Goldwyn furnished the ODonnell. Her contract with Goldwyn was terminated in mid-1948 and she signed with David O. Selznick. Her first picture wos a hit Cathy O'Donnell is shown here with Harold Russell in a scene from "The Best Years of Our Lives," Cathy's first Hollywood role. It was a tremendous hit. OF ALL HER PARTS, Cathy likes the one in They Live by Night. Second comes the one in "The Man From Laramie. It was her first Western picture. Cathy is not, and never will be, a cook. One time she tried it for a month. It was the hardest job I ever tackled, she sighed. It ended up. with Robert having to take over as nothing was warm at the same time. And I hate cooking! When shes not acting, the Alabamian lives a nice life traveling (the Wylers have made three trips to Europe), seeing people and reading. I have that wonderful ability for doing absolutely nothing, she says. Town and Gown tryouts will be "You can last longer Russian government . . . in "And now television audi-" ences are getting sick . . . " "Scarlet fever victim 'Medic' in full color . . for "Now people are writing to ask me why I'm on TV ..." Tryouts for Front Page, the next Town and Gown production at the Birmingham Clark Little Theater, will be held Monday at 8 p.m., Producer-director James Hatcher announces. The Charles McArthur-Ben Hecht play has a big cast and a number of excellent roles will be awaiting those who want to read for parts tomorrow night. Report to Room 8, University of Alabama Birmingham Center, 720 20th-st, s. Front Page will be given at the Clark Little Theater the week of March 28. Humphrey gets an earful Fred Allen says TV mistakes endurance for entertainment BY HAL HUMPHREY, for The Birmingham News NEW YORK, N. Y., Feb. 26 The sage of Broadway, as far as I'm concerned, is Fred Allen. Over a bowl of oyster stew, Fred gave me the lowdown on TV and its foibles. It's as keen an analysis of the situation as you'll ever read. You can last longer In the Russian government than on TV, observes Fred, nasally. Its a great medium for making unimportant people important and important ones unimportant. . Youve heard of course that the Internal Revenue Bureau opened up a branch in Jackie Gleasons pocket. I saw the Washington premiere of The Long Gray Line on Steve Allens show, and it was frightening. All of our army brass and Mamie Eisenhower were there doing commercials for the picture. Ty Power came down with yellow jaundice afterward. I guess so he can stay in color pictures. Medic is going to be done in color, if they can find a scarlet fever victim. Trouble with TV THE TROUBLE WITH TV today is that the industry mistakes endurance for entertainment. Most of the stars are getting sick, and now the audience is starting to get sick. Its catching. I used to get mail asking why I wasnt on TV. Now the same people write and ask why I am on. The mail is always with you. Footlights of Broadway Don Ameche stars again, and ' Silk Stockin good BY JOHN McCLAIN, North American Newspaper Alliance NEW YORK, Feb. 26 One item should be recorded at the outset of any consideration of "silk stockings," the new Cole Porter musical at the Imperial Theater. That is that Don Ameche is a big new star all over again; at long last here is a leading man who can sing without posing and flinging his arms about, who can read a line in an entirely natural manner, whose performance is unostentatious and charming. Another item is that Hilde-garde Neff is a fresh and enchanting addition to the local roster. She cant sing a lick, but she doesnt have to; she makes with a throaty moan at proper intervals, like grandma Dietrich, and her natural grace and earthy appeal carry the evening. Starring role Here's Cathy in a scene from 'The Man From Laramie," which put this Alabama actress in the top-flight actress category. FOR THE EVENING needs a heap of carrying. This by no means a great Cole Porter score; there is nothing spectacular in the way of choreography or staging, and the George K a u f m a n-Leueen MacGrath Libretto coughs and splutters in the clinch. But the materials at hand are proven and solid, we learn to love Ameche and Neff, and as a result we come away gratified. None of the recent events in Russia will dilute the plot which has been broadly adapted from Ninotchka, Garbos valedictory to the cinema world: a dedicated Russian girl is dispatched from Moscow to bring home a Soviet composer who has been too long absent in Paris. There she meets an American agent who has attached himself to the Communist genius, falls in love with him and discovers the delights of such reactionary items as silk gowns and champagne. Her idyll is of course cut short with a sudden awakening in the middle of the second act. But never fear love triumphs in the end. ALONG THIS FRANCO-So-viet highway there are many bright moments. Three Russian envoys, played by Henry Lascoe, Leon Belasco and David Opato-shu milk the last dregs from the situation confronting a set of comrades who are loath to return to the Utopia behind the Iron Curtain. They are loath, in fact, to retire behind any curtain. The numbers between Neff (Ninotchka) and Ameche (the agent) are uniformly delightful, the best being all of you and as on through the seasons we sail. A girl named Gretchen Wyler, new to Broadway, plays the part of an American movie queen and stops the proceedings with a mild peel number called Josephine. She also contributes intermittent laughs with Real Southern belle Cathy O'Donnell (real name: Ann Steely) of Siluria is bringing a breath of Southern beauty to the screen. :rA Academy Award 1 I Handicap . - gpl K p (Associated Press Hollywood "Writer James Bacon, Wwm reforme horse player, yearly forecasts the Academy I Awards race in the manner of horse handicappers. Theyre off and running again in the Oscar Derby so here we go.) j WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30-27TH ANNUAL RUNNING. : -'JP FIRST POST, 10 P.M., CST. ' f (Track Fast; Weather Unsettled But Expected Fair) ' FIRST RACE SCREEN DIRECTORS SWEEPSTAKES, 35- I M JH ;.y 'A, YEAR-OLDS AND UP. ENTRY COMMENT - PROB. ODDS ELIA KAZAN Waterfront colt way overdue to cop all 7-5 GEORGE SEATON Long strider will battle to wire 2-1 WILLIAM WELLMAN Wild stallion has thrown riders before 3-1 ALFRED HITCHCOCK Carrying too much weight this distance 5-1 BILLY WILDER German-bred will help force pace 12-1 SECOND-SUPPORTING ACTRESS FUTURITY, 20-YEAR-OLD FILLIES AND UP. KATY JURADO Spirited Latin filly easily class here 7-5 EVA MARIA SAINT Trim stepper may be too frail to last. 9-5 JAN STERLING Shows best form in long stretch 2-1 CLAIRE TREVOR Veteran campaigner always contender. .5-1 NINA EOCH MGM Blue Grass money backing heavy 10-1 THIRD SUPPORTING ACTOR STAKES, OPTIONAL CLAIMING. EDMOND OBRIEN Only non-Columbia entry, cant miss here .4-5 TOM TULLY Top performer when chips down; could cop 7-5 ROD STEIGER Runs well with Kazan aboard. 2-1 KARL MALDEN Took this stakes before with ease 6-1 LEE J. COBB Triple Waterfront entry will crowd out 8-1 FOURTH BEST ACTOR HANDICAP, 25-YEAR-OLDS AND UP; ALLOWANCES. BING CROSBY Old campaigner running better than ever 4-5 MARLON BRANDO Dislikes Hollywood turf, may cost win here 6-5 HUMPHREY BOGART Often nalky at gate but tough in stretch 3-1 JAMES MASON Apt to go wide at turns; needs blinkers.. 6-1 DAN OHERLIHY Irish import, tab now for future starts 10-1 FIFTH TOP ACRTESS MATURITY FILLIES AND MARES; 20-YEAR-OLDS AND UP. GRACE KELLY Breeding good and one to beat here 7-5 JUDY GARLAND Peoples choice, may take all 7-5 JANE WYMAN Past winner, may bump favorites at wire 2-1 DOROTHY DANDRIDGE Gave Carmen best ride yet; may surprise 5-1 AUDREY HEPBURN Paramount money ignoring this time out , 10-1 SIXTH OSCAR DERBY. PURSE ONE MILLION ADDED AT BOXOFFICE TO WINNER. THE COUNTRY GIRL Paramount single entry rates nod with Crosby up 7-5 ON THE WATERFRONT Split Columbia backing may hurt chances 11-5 THE CANINE MUTINY May go all the way if track wet enough 3-1 SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS Name too long to engrave on cup 6-1 THREE COINS IN FOUNTAIN Have CinemaScope; will travel but not liere . .10-1 BEST BET CROSBY (4). BEST LONGSHOT DANDRIDGE (5). BEST PARLAY CROSBY (4), THE COUNTRY GIRL (6). HEMSBRHMHHMHRI Fred is a regular now on Whats My Line? until June 1. In addition to this chore he is plugging his book, Treadmill to Oblivion, which has hit the best seller lists in New York. How come youve never been on Ed Murrows Person to Person show? I asked the taciturn Allen. They asked me twice, but I turned it down. Look, Ive never been in his house, so why should I have him in mine? Anyway, I dont care if the critics pan Turn to Page 4, Column 6 Stardom again Don Ameche. an ingenious bit of business: It seems shes been an aquatic star in pictures, and whenever she's stuck for something to say she belts her head to get the water out of her ears. ON THE OTHER hand there are long, slow sequences in the story, talky and infrequently amusing, and the large production numbers lacked distinction. I thought the sets were pleasant, certainly not lavish or exciting the costumes likewise. But the whole show has the old professional polish and timing it always moves. People were saying stockings was in terrible trouble on the road, where it made nothing but money. Well, It may not be perfection in its present form, but my, prediction is that it will only make more money. His reason for picking Crosby purely alcoholic HOLLYWOOD, Feb. 26 (JP) Director Roy Rowland believes Bing Crosby will win this years Oscar, with James Mason a close second. The reason both played drunks. Socially the alcoholic may be a nuisance, reports Rowland, but dramatically he can make his own price. Figuratively, the Thespian Hall of Fame reeks of cheap whisky, and theres sawdust on the floor ar ' a brass rail to put your foot on. He cites such lush Oscar winning performances as Ray Milland in The Lost Week-End,-" Thomas Mitchell as the drunken doctor of Stagecoach, Frederic March in the original A Star Is Born and Charles Laughton as King Henry VIII.

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