On This Day … 03 February [2023]

People (Births)

  • 1939 – Michael Cimino, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2016).
  • 1947 – Stephen McHattie, Canadian actor and director.
  • 1970 – Warwick Davis, English actor, producer, and screenwriter.

People (Deaths)

  • 2012 – Ben Gazzara, American actor and director (b. 1930).

Michael Cimino

Michael Antonio Cimino (03 February 1939 to 02 July 2016) was an American filmmaker. One of the New Hollywood directors, Cimino achieved fame with The Deer Hunter (1978), which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Born in New York City, Cimino began his career filming commercials and moved to Los Angeles to take up screenwriting in 1971. After co-writing the scripts of Silent Running (1972) and Magnum Force (1973), he wrote the preliminary script for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), which became his directorial debut, and one of the highest-grossing films of its year.

The critical accolades for co-writing, directing, and producing The Deer Hunter in 1978 led to Cimino receiving creative control for Heaven’s Gate (1980). The film became a critical failure and a legendary box-office bomb, which lost production studio United Artists an estimated $37 million. Its failure was widely credited with Hollywood studios shifting focus from director-driven films towards high-concept, crowd-pleasing blockbusters. In recent decades, Heaven’s Gate has been dramatically reappraised, being named by BBC Culture as one of the greatest American films of all-time, and by critic Robin Wood as “among the supreme achievements of the Hollywood cinema.” His final feature film was The Sunchaser, released in 1996. Up until his death, he continued to work on films that were ultimately never made.

Stephen McHattie

Stephen McHattie Smith (born 03 February 1946) is a Canadian actor. Since beginning his professional career in 1970, he has amassed over 200 film and television credits. He won the Genie Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Rocket, and a Gemini Award for Life with Billy.

  • In Canada, he appeared in Canada: A People’s History as Canadian hero Major-General Sir Isaac Brock.
  • He portrayed an extraordinary USMC sniper (based on real life sniper Carlos Hathcock) in the JAG season one episode “High Ground” (S01E16).
  • McHattie had a memorable and well-received appearance in the acclaimed sixth-season episode “In the Pale Moonlight” of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as the acerbic and sceptical Romulan Senator Vreenak who is the target of a Federation false flag operation to deceive the neutral Romulan Empire into declaring war on the Dominion.

Warwick Davis

Warwick Ashley Davis (born 03 February 1970) is an English actor. He played the title character in Willow (1988) and the Leprechaun film series (199302003), several characters in the Star Wars film series (1983-2019), most notably the Ewok Wicket, and Professor Filius Flitwick and the goblin Griphook in the Harry Potter film series (2001-2011). Davis starred as a fictionalised version of himself in the sitcom Life’s Too Short (2012-2013). He has also presented the ITV game shows Celebrity Squares (2014-2015) and Tenable (2016-present).

Ben Gazzara

Biagio Anthony Gazzara (28 August 1930 to 03 February 2012) was an American actor and director of film, stage, and television. He received numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Drama Desk Award, in addition to nominations for three Golden Globe Awards and three Tony Awards.

Born to Italian immigrants in New York City, Gazzara studied at The New School and began his professional career with the Actors Studio, of which he was a lifelong member. His breakthrough role was in the Broadway play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955-56), which earned him widespread acclaim. A memorable performance as a soldier on trial for murder in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959) transitioned him to an equally successful screen career. As the star of the television series Run for Your Life (1965-1968), Gazzara was nominated for three Golden Globes and two Emmy Awards. He won his only Emmy Award for the television film Hysterical Blindness (2002).

He was a recurring collaborator of John Cassavetes, working with him on Husbands (1970), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and Opening Night (1977). His other best-known films include The Bridge at Remagen (1969), Capone (1975) Voyage of the Damned (1976), Saint Jack (1979), Road House (1989), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), The Big Lebowski (1998), Buffalo ’66 (1998), Happiness (1998), The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Summer of Sam (1999), Dogville (2003) and Paris, je t’aime (2006). He also had a successful and prolific film career in Europe, particularly Italy, where he worked with preeminent directors like Giuseppe Tornatore, Giuliano Montaldo, Marco Ferreri, and Lars von Trier.

Gazzara was known for his gritty, naturalistic portrayals of intense, often amoral characters. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Gazzara positioned himself for ‘creative elbow room,’ seeking edgy characters in non-mainstream productions or infusing mainstream productions with idiosyncratic supporting turns.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.