On This Day … 05 January [2023]

People (Births)

  • 1917 – Wieland Wagner, German director and producer (d. 1966).
  • 1931 – Robert Duvall, American actor and director.
  • 1975 – Bradley Cooper, American actor and producer.

People (Deaths)

  • 1985 – Robert L. Surtees, American cinematographer (b. 1906).

Wieland Wagner

Wieland Wagner (05 January 1917 to 17 October 1966) was a German opera director, grandson of Richard Wagner. As co-director of the Bayreuth Festival when it re-opened after World War II, he was noted for innovative new stagings of the operas, departing from the naturalistic scenery and lighting of the originals. His wartime involvement in the development of the V-2 rocket was kept secret for many years.

Associations with Hitler and Nazism

Winifred Wagner’s close friendship with Hitler meant that, as a teenager and young man, Wieland knew the dictator as “Uncle Wolf”. In 1938 he joined the Nazi Party on Hitler’s personal insistence. From September 1944 to April 1945 he held a sinecure at the Institut für physikalische Forschung in Bayreuth, founded by his brother-in-law Bodo Lafferentz, which was a satellite of the Flossenbürg concentration camp devoted to research and development of an improved guidance system of the V-2 rocket bomb. This enabled him to avoid being called into the Wehrmacht for the final defense of Germany. At the Institut he built models of stage sets and developed new stage lighting systems with the assistance of prisoner Hans Imhof, an electrical technician. At his denazification hearing in Bayreuth, on 10 December 1948, he was classified as a “Mitläufer” (follower), the fourth and lowest category, and fined DM100 plus the court costs.

Robert Duvall

Robert Selden Duvall (born 05 January 1931) is an American actor and filmmaker. His career spans more than seven decades and he is considered one of the greatest American actors of all time. He is the recipient of an Academy Award, four Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Duvall began appearing in theatre in the early 1950s, moving into television and film roles during the early 1960s, playing Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and appearing in Captain Newman, M.D. (1963), as Major Frank Burns in the blockbuster comedy M*A*S*H (1970) and the lead role in THX 1138 (1971), as well as Horton Foote’s adaptation of William Faulkner’s Tomorrow (1972), which was developed at The Actors Studio and is his personal favorite. This was followed by a series of critically lauded performances in commercially successful films. In 1984 Duvall won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Tender Mercies.

Throughout his career he has starred in numerous films and television series, including The Twilight Zone (1963), The Outer Limits (1964), The F.B.I. (1966), Bullitt (1968), True Grit (1969), Joe Kidd (1972), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Conversation (1974), Network (1976), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Great Santini (1979), The Natural (1984), Colors (1988), Lonesome Dove (1989), The Handmaid’s Tale (1990), Days of Thunder (1990), Rambling Rose (1991), Falling Down (1993), A Family Thing (1996), Secondhand Lions (2003), The Judge (2014), and Widows (2018).

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Charles Cooper (born 05 January 1975) is an American actor and filmmaker. He is the recipient of various accolades, including a British Academy Film Award and two Grammy Awards, in addition to nominations for nine Academy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, and a Tony Award. Cooper appeared on the Forbes Celebrity 100 three times and on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015. His films have grossed $11 billion worldwide and he has placed four times in annual rankings of the world’s highest-paid actors.

Cooper enrolled in the MFA programme at the Actors Studio in 2000 after beginning his career in 1999 with a guest role in the television series Sex and the City. He made his film debut in the comedy Wet Hot American Summer (2001), and gained some recognition as Will Tippin in the spy-action television show Alias (2001-2006). After his role in the show was demoted, he began to have career doubts but gained some recognition with a supporting part in the comedy film Wedding Crashers (2005) and had his breakthrough in The Hangover (2009), a critically and commercially successful comedy that spawned two sequels in 2011 and 2013. Cooper’s portrayal of a struggling writer in the thriller Limitless (2011) and a rookie police officer in the crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) drew further praise from critics.

Cooper found greater success with the romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook (2012), the black comedy American Hustle (2013), and the war biopic American Sniper (2014), which he also produced.

Robert L. Surtees

Robert L. Surtees (09 August 1906 to 05 January 1985) was an American cinematographer who won three Academy Awards for the films King Solomon’s Mines, The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1959 version of Ben-Hur. Surtees worked at various studios, including Universal, UFA, Warner Brothers, and MGM, lighting for notable directors Howard Hawks, Mike Nichols, and William Wyler, gaining him a reputation as one of the most versatile cinematographers of his time.

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