On This Day … 17 January [2023]


People (Births)

  • 1867 – Carl Laemmle, German-born American film producer, co-founded Universal Studios (d. 1939).
  • 1931 – James Earl Jones, American actor.
  • 1989 – Kelly Marie Tran, American actress.

People (Deaths)

  • 2003 – Richard Crenna, American actor and director (b. 1926).

Carl Laemmle

Carl Laemmle (born Karl Lämmle; 17 January 1867 to 24 September 1939) was a film producer and the co-founder and, until 1934, owner of Universal Pictures. He produced or worked on over 400 films.

Regarded as one of the most important of the early film pioneers, Laemmle was born in what is now Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1884 and worked in Chicago for 20 years before he began buying nickelodeons, eventually expanding into a film distribution service, the Laemmle Film Service, then into production as Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP), later renamed Universal Film Manufacturing Company, and later still renamed Universal Pictures Company.

Universal Studios

Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also known as Universal Studios, or simply Universal; common metonym: Uni, and formerly named Universal Film Manufacturing Company and Universal-International Pictures Inc.) is an American film production and distribution company owned by Comcast through the NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment division of NBCUniversal.

Founded in 1912 by Carl Laemmle, Mark Dintenfass, Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane, and Jules Brulatour, Universal is the oldest surviving film studio in the United States; the world’s fifth oldest after Gaumont, Pathé, Titanus, and Nordisk Film; and the oldest member of Hollywood’s “Big Five” studios in terms of the overall film market. Its studios are located in Universal City, California, and its corporate offices are located in New York City. In 1962, the studio was acquired by MCA, which was re-launched as NBCUniversal in 2004.

Universal Pictures is a member of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), and was one of the “Little Three” majors during Hollywood’s golden age.

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones (born 17 January 1931) is an American actor. He has been described as “one of America’s most distinguished and versatile” actors for his performances in film, television, and theatre, and “one of the greatest actors in American history”.[2] With a career spanning seven decades, Jones is among the few performers awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT). Jones’s voice has been praised as a “a stirring basso profondo that has lent gravel and gravitas” to his projects, including live-action acting, voice acting, and commercial voice-overs.

Born with a childhood stutter, Jones has said that poetry and acting helped him overcome the disability. A pre-med major in college, he served in the United States Army during the Korean War before pursuing a career in acting. Since his Broadway debut in 1957, he has performed in several Shakespeare plays including Othello, Hamlet, Coriolanus, and King Lear. Jones made his film debut in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove. Jones worked steadily in theatre winning his first Tony Award in 1968 for his role in The Great White Hope, which he reprised in the 1970 film adaptation earning him Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. He received his second Golden Globe Award nomination for his leading role opposite Diahann Carroll in the 1974 romantic comedy-drama film Claudine. Jones gained international fame for providing the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise, beginning with the original 1977 film.

He won his second Tony Award in 1987 for his role in August Wilson’s Fences. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Jones appeared in a number of other successful films, including Conan the Barbarian (1982), Matewan (1987), Coming to America (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Sandlot (1993), and The Lion King (1994). During the 21st century, Jones has continued working in the theatre, starring alongside Phylicia Rashad in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2008, and Angela Lansbury in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (2012) on Broadway and in an Australian tour of Driving Miss Daisy (2013). He also appeared in You Can’t Take it With You (2014) with Annaleigh Ashford and in The Gin Game (2015-2016) alongside Cicely Tyson. Jones has reprised his roles in recent Star Wars media, The Lion King (2019) and Coming 2 America (2021).

Over his career, Jones has won three Tony Awards (out of five nominations), two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award. He was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1985. Jones was presented with the National Medal of the Arts by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. He received the Kennedy Centre Honour in 2002. Jones was invited by President Barack Obama to perform Shakespeare at the White House Evening for Poetry in 2009. That same year he also received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. He received an Honorary Academy Award on 12 November 2011. Jones received an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Harvard University on 25 May 2017. He was honoured with a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2017. On 12 September 2022, the Cort Theatre, a Broadway theatre in Manhattan, New York City, was renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre in his honour.

Kelly Marie Tran

Kelly Marie Tran (born Loan Tran, 17 January 1989) is an American actress. She began acting in 2011, with most of her roles being in short film and television. She came to global prominence for her role as Rose Tico in the Star Wars sequel trilogy films The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019). She also voiced Princess Raya in the Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) and Dawn Betterman in the DreamWorks Animation film The Croods: A New Age (2020).

Richard Crenna

Richard Donald Crenna (30 November 1926 to 17 January 2003) was an American film, television and radio actor.

Crenna starred in such motion pictures as The Sand Pebbles, Wait Until Dark, Un Flic, Body Heat, the first three Rambo films, Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), and The Flamingo Kid. His first success came on radio in 1948 as high school student Walter Denton co-starring with Eve Arden and Gale Gordon in the CBS series Our Miss Brooks. Crenna continued with the comedy in its 1952 move into television. He also starred as Luke McCoy in the ABC, and later CBS, television series The Real McCoys (1957-1963). In 1985, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for his portrayal of the title role in The Rape of Richard Beck.

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