On This Day … 31 January [2023]

People (Births)

  • 1902 – Tallulah Bankhead, American actress (d. 1968).
  • 1921 – John Agar, American actor (d. 2002).
  • 1966 – Dexter Fletcher, English actor and director.
  • 1986 – Megan Ellison, American film producer, founded Annapurna Pictures.

People (Deaths)

  • 1974 – Samuel Goldwyn, Polish-American film producer, co-founded Goldwyn Pictures (b. 1882).

Tallulah Bankhead

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (31 January 1902 to 12 December 1968) was an American actress. Primarily an actress of the stage, Bankhead also appeared in several prominent films including an award-winning performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) (The film is set entirely on a lifeboat launched from a passenger vessel torpedoed and sunk by a Nazi U-boat).

She also had a brief but successful career on radio and made appearances on television. In all, Bankhead amassed nearly 300 film, stage, television and radio roles during her career. She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1981.

Bankhead was a member of the Bankhead and Brockman family, a prominent Alabama political family. Her grandfather and her uncle were US senators, and her father was Speaker of the House of Representatives. Bankhead’s support of liberal causes, including the budding civil rights movement, brought her into public conflict with her family and southern contemporaries, who championed white supremacy and racial segregation. She also supported foster children and helped families escape the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Bankhead struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction; she reportedly smoked 120 cigarettes a day and talked openly about her vices. She also openly had a series of relationships with both men and women.

John Agar

John George Agar Jr. (31 January 1921 to 07 April 2002) was an American film and television actor. He is best known for starring alongside John Wayne in the films Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Fort Apache (1948), and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. In his later career he was the star of B movies, such as Tarantula!, The Mole People, The Brain from Planet Arous, Revenge of the Creature, Flesh and the Spur and Hand of Death. He was the first husband of Shirley Temple.

Agar’s career suffered in the wake of his divorce, but he developed a niche playing leading men in low-budget science fiction, Western, and horror movies in the 1950s and 1960s. John Wayne gave him several supporting roles in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In later years he worked extensively in television.

Dexter Fletcher

Dexter Fletcher (born 31 January 1966) is an English film director and actor. He has appeared in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, as well as in television shows such as the comedy drama Hotel Babylon and the HBO series Band of Brothers (2001) and, earlier in his career, starred as Spike Thomson in the comedy drama Press Gang. His earliest acting role was playing Baby Face in the 1976 film Bugsy Malone.

Fletcher made his directorial debut with Wild Bill (2011), and also directed Sunshine on Leith (2013) and Eddie the Eagle (2015). He replaced Bryan Singer as director of Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic about the band Queen, released in October 2018; due to DGA rules, he received executive producer credit. In 2019, he directed Rocketman, a biographical film based on the life and music of performer Elton John.

Megan Ellison

Margaret Elizabeth Ellison (born January 31, 1986) is an American film producer and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Annapurna Pictures, established in 2011. She produced the films Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Her (2013), American Hustle (2013), and Phantom Thread (2017), all of which have earned her Oscar nominations. In 2014, Ellison was included in the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. She also received a Tony Award for Best Musical as a producer for the musical A Strange Loop.

Annapurna Pictures

Annapurna Pictures is an American independent media company founded by Megan Ellison on 02 April 2011 and based in Los Angeles, California. It is active in film, television and theatrical production, film distribution and video game publishing.

Samuel Goldwyn

Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz; Yiddish: שמואל געלבפֿיש; 27 August 1882 (claimed but most likely July 1879) to 31 January 1974), also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish-born American film producer.

He was best known for being the founding contributor and executive of several motion picture studios in Hollywood. He was awarded the 1973 Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1947) and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1958).

Goldwyn Pictures

Goldwyn Pictures Corporation was an American motion picture production company that operated from 1916 to 1924 when it was merged with two other production companies to form the major studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was founded on 19 November 1916, by Samuel Goldwyn, an executive at Lasky’s Feature Play Company (later Paramount Pictures), and Broadway producer brothers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn, using an amalgamation of both last names to name the company.

The studio proved moderately successful, but became most famous due to its iconic Leo the Lion trademark. Although Metro was the nominal survivor, the merged studio inherited Goldwyn’s old facility in Culver City, California where it would remain until 1986. The merged studio also retained Goldwyn’s Leo the Lion logo.

Lee Shubert of The Shubert Organization was an investor in the company.

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