End Credits #91: Cinema's 2019 Lost Treasures Doris Day, Machiko Kyô, Allene Roberts, Fay McKenzie, Bibi Andersson, Nancy Gates, Susan Harrison
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2019 taken from my personal notes soon after the tragic events took place:
A small tribute to seven gifted classic film actresses sadly lost to us in the last few months alone.
Charismatic enormously successful recording artist and leading lady of the silver screen Doris Day has died at age 97. A car accident put an end to her dream of being a professional dancer but after taking singing lessons, she began touring with Les Brown and His Band of Renown. She was only 17. After auditioning for director Michael Curtiz, Day received a prominent role in Romance on the High Seas (1948), making her film debut. This film also provided her with a No. 2 hit recording "It's Magic". Day was cast in Curtiz’ next film, My Dream is Yours (1949) and subsequently two others from the famed director,Young Man with a Horn (1950, with Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall) and I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951, Day’s most financially successful film for Warner Bros.). Other notable films Day appeared in around this same time period were The West Point Story (1950, with James Cagney) the film noir Storm Warning (1951, with Day’s childhood idol Ginger Rogers) and one of her best remembered film musicals, Calamity Jane (1953, playing the title role alongside Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickock). "Secret Love" from Calamity Jane won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became Day's fourth No. 1 hit single in the U.S. She gave what is probably her best dramatic performance as real life jazz singer Ruth Etting in the biopic Love Me or Leave Me (1955, alongside James Cagney as her husband/gangster Marty Snyder) and performed other dramatic roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956, with James Stewart) and the title role in the film noir Julie (1956, with Louis Jourdan). Day then returned to lighter fare starring in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical The Pajama Game (1957), Teacher’s Pet (1958, with Clark Gable and Gig Young) and the first of what would become a hit trio of comedic triumphs with Rock Hudson, Pillow Talk (1959, receiving her only Academy Award nomination). Her other comedies with Hudson following a similar formula were 1961’s Lover Come Back and 1964’s Send Me No Flowers. In addition, she starred in the hit comedies Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960, with David Niven) and That Touch of Mink (1962, with Cary Grant). She also gave her last dramatic performance co-starring with Rex Harrison in the thriller Midnight Lace (1960). Day teamed up with James Garner for The Thrill of It All (which I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying at New York’s Radio City Music Hall as a young lad) and Move Over, Darling (both 1963). Her last film of note was the hit comedy The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) and her final film altogether was With Six You Get Eggroll (1968). Doris Day (April 3, 1922 - May 13, 2019) R.I.P.
Leading Japanese actress Machiko Kyô has passed away at age 95. One of her first and most impassioned roles occurred as Masako Kanazawa in Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950) where she was called upon to convincingly run the gamut of extreme emotional responses. And did she succeed! Her tour de force performances continued in such noteworthy films from Japan as 1953’s Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari), 1953’s Gate of Hell (Jigokumon), 1956’s Street of Shame (Akasen chitai), 1958’s The Loyal 47 Ronin (Chûshingura), 1959’s Floating Weeds (Ukikusa) and 1966’s The Face of Another (Tanin no kao). Western audiences may remember Kyô’s prominent role as the charming Lotus Blossom in The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956, opposite Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford). Machiko Kyô (March 25, 1924 - May 12, 2019) R.I.P.
Demure actress Allene Roberts has died at age 90. She had quite a few significant film noir parts including her screen debut The Red House (1947) with Edward G. Robinson. She also lent her talent to The Sign of the Ram (1948, with Susan Peters), Knock on Any Door (1949, with Humphrey Bogart), Union Station (1950, with William Holden), and The Hoodlum (1951, playing opposite Lawrence Tierney). Other film roles included those in Kid Monk Baroni (1952) and Santa Fe (1951, with Randolph Scott). Roberts worked as an actress for about a decade before retiring to raise a family in her home state of Alabama. Allene Roberts (September 1, 1928 - May 9, 2019) R.I.P.
The spirited and talented Fay McKenzie has sadly passed away at age 101. Born into a “showbiz” family she made her film debut at the age of ten weeks in Station Content (1918, as “Babe in Arms” where she was literally carried in the arms of Gloria Swanson). By age six she had already appeared in six motion pictures including The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln (1924). She went on to play parts as a teenager in some low budget westerns as well as the star-studded musical Student Tour (1934). McKenzie will probably be best remembered for her work with Gene Autry as the love interest in films such as Down Mexico Way (1941), Sierra Sue (1941), Home in Wyomin' (1942), Heart of the Rio Grande (1942) and Cowboy Serenade (1942). She also enjoyed the female leading role in the western Death Rides the Range (1939, with Ken Maynard) and a smaller part in When the Daltons Rode (1940, starring Randolph Scott). In addition to some television work later in her career, McKenzie could be seen in a few of her friend Blake Edwards’ films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, as the Party Guest laughing in the mirror), Experiment in Terror (1962, as a Hospital Superintendent), The Party (1968, as host Alice Clutterbuck) and S.O.B. (1981, her last performance as a Woman on the Beach). Fay McKenzie (February 19, 1918 - April 16, 2019) R.I.P.
Swedish icon Bibi Andersson has died at age 83. She studied at the Royal Dramatic Theatre's acting school in Stockholm between 1954 - 1956. Andersson left the school with Ingmar Bergman and accompanied him to the Malmö city theatre where he was directing plays which she subsequently performed in. Bergman also gave her a small part in his cinematic masterpiece Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) and thereafter larger parts in The Seventh Seal (1957) and Wild Strawberries (1957). She also appeared in the famous director’s Mr. Sleeman is Coming (1957, TV production), The Magician (1958), Brink of Life (1958), Rabies (1958, another TV movie), The Devil’s Eye (1960), All These Women (1964), Persona (1966, perhaps her most famous role), The Passion of Anna (1969), The Touch (1971) and Scenes from a Marriage (1974). Some notable roles overseas included those in Duel at Diablo (1966) and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977). Besides Bergman, she worked for directors Alf Sjöberg in The Island (1966), John Huston in The Kremlin Letter (1970), Robert Altman in Quintet (1979) and Gabriel Axel in Babette’s Feast (1987) amongst others. Bibi Andersson (November 11, 1935 - April 14, 2019) R.I.P.
Accomplished actress Nancy Gates has sadly left us at age 93. While she appeared in The Great Gildersleeve (1942), This Land is Mine (1943) and The Spanish Main (1945) amongst others, her most striking performances occurred in The Atomic City (1952), The Member of the Wedding (1952), Hell’s Half Acre (1954) and especially Suddenly (1954, as Ellen Benson whose home is taken over by some would-be assassins led by Frank Sinatra’s John Baron). She went on to appear in Top of the World (1955), No Man’s Woman (1955), The Bottom of the Bottle (1956), World Without End (1956), Death of a Scoundrel (1956), Some Came Running (1958), The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959) and her last film role opposite Randolph Scott in the excellent Bud Boetticher western Comanche Station (1960). She also made numerous TV appearances in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Nancy Gates (February 1, 1926 - March 24, 2019) R.I.P.
Actress Susan Harrison has sadly passed away at age 80. She was best known for her incredibly sincere and sensitive performance as Susan Hunsecker in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Some of her other dedicated performances can be seen in 1960’s Key Witness as Ruby, TV’s 1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “The Gloating Place” as Susan Harper and TV’s 1961 The Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” as The Ballerina. Susan Harrison (August 26, 1938 - March 5, 2019) R.I.P.