On This Day … 05 February [2023]


  • 1919 – Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith launch United Artists.

People (Births)

  • 1921 – Ken Adam, German-born English production designer and art director (d. 2016)
  • 1943 – Michael Mann, American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1948 – Errol Morris, American director and producer
  • 1948 – Tom Wilkinson, English actor

People (Deaths)

  • 1995 – Doug McClure, American actor (b. 1935)
  • 2020 – Kirk Douglas, American actor (b. 1916)
  • 2021 – Christopher Plummer, Canadian actor (b. 1929)

United Artists

United Artists Corporation (UA), doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, was an American production and distribution company. Founded in 1919 by D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios. UA was repeatedly bought, sold, and restructured over the ensuing century. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the studio in 1981 for a reported $350 million ($1 billion today).

On 22 September 2014, MGM acquired a controlling interest in entertainment companies One Three Media and Lightworkers Media, then merged them to revive United Artists’ television production unit as United Artists Media Group (UAMG). However, on 14 December of the following year, MGM wholly acquired UAMG and folded it into MGM Television.

United Artists was briefly revived again in 2018 as United Artists Digital Studios, being launched along with the Stargate Origins web series and the Stargate Command streaming service. In December 2019 following the closure of Stargate Command, by early 2020 the original UA incarnation was folded, this time permanently, into MGM.

Mirror, the joint distribution venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures, was subsequently rebranded as United Artists Releasing in early February 2019, in honour of its 100th anniversary, and currently the UA name lives on in that company.

Ken Adam

Sir Kenneth Adam OBE RDI (born Klaus Hugo George Fritz Adam; 05 February 1921 to 10 March 2016) was a German-British movie production designer, best known for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as for Dr. Strangelove (1964).

Adam won two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction. Born in Berlin, he relocated to England with his Jewish family at the age of 13 soon after the Nazis came to power. Together with his younger brother, Denis Adam, he was one of only three German-born pilots to serve in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

Michael Mann

Michael Kenneth Mann (born 05 February 1943) is an American director, screenwriter, and producer, best known for his distinctive style of crime drama. His most acclaimed works include the films Thief (1981), Manhunter (1986), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Heat (1995), The Insider (1999), Collateral (2004), and Public Enemies (2009). He is also known for his role as executive producer on the popular TV series Miami Vice (1984-1989), which he adapted into a 2006 feature film.

For his work, he has received nominations from international organisations and juries, including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Cannes, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As a producer, Mann has twice received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture, first for The Insider and then The Aviator (2004), which Mann had been hired to direct before the project was transferred to Martin Scorsese. Total Film ranked Mann No. 28 on its 2007 list of the 100 Greatest Directors Ever, and Sight and Sound ranked him No. 5 on their list of the 10 Best Directors of the Last 25 Years (for the years 1977-2002).

Errol Morris

Errol Mark Morris (born 05 February 1948) is an American film director known for documentaries that interrogate the epistemology of its subjects. In 2003, his documentary film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. His film The Thin Blue Line placed fifth on a Sight & Sound poll of the greatest documentaries ever made. Morris is known for making films about unusual subjects; Fast, Cheap & Out of Control interweaves the stories of a wild animal trainer, a topiary gardener, a robot scientist and a naked mole rat specialist.

Tom Wilkinson

Thomas Geoffrey Wilkinson OBE (born 05 February 1948) is a British actor of film, television, and stage. He has received various accolades throughout his career, including a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy Award and nominations for two Academy Awards.

For his role in comedy film The Full Monty (1997) he received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He’s received two Academy Award nominations, one for Best Actor for In the Bedroom (2001) and the other for Best Supporting Actor for Michael Clayton (2007).

Some of his notable films include In the Name of the Father (1993), Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Full Monty (1997), Shakespeare in Love (1998), The Patriot (2000), Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Batman Begins (2005), Valkyrie (2008), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), Selma (2014), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and Denial (2016).

In 2009, he won a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Film for playing Benjamin Franklin in the HBO limited series John Adams (2008).

  • The Patriot (2000).
  • He also portrayed Friedrich Fromm, Commander in Chief of the German Reserve Army, alongside Tom Cruise in the 2008 World War II thriller Valkyrie.

Doug McClure

Douglas Osborne McClure (11 May 1935 to 05 February 1995) was an American actor whose career in film and television extended from the 1950s to the 1990s. He is best known for his role as the cowboy Trampas during the entire run from 1962 to 1971 of the series The Virginian and mayor turned police chief Kyle Applegate on Out of this World.

  • Film:
    • Friendly Persuasion (1956) – Soldier (uncredited)
    • The Enemy Below (1957) – Ens. Merry (uncredited)
    • South Pacific (1958) – Pilot in Hospital
    • The Longest Hundred Miles (1967) – Corporal Steve Bennett
    • The King’s Pirate (1967) – Lieutenant Brian Fleming
    • The Birdmen (1971 TV movie) – Major Harry Cook
    • Satan’s Triangle (1975 TV movie) – Lieutenant J. Haig
    • Warlords of Atlantis (1978) – Greg Collinson
  • TV Series:
    • Riverboat – Corporal Jenkins in “The Face of Courage” (1959)
    • The Rebels – Eph Tait (1979)

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; 09 December 1916 to 05 February 2020) was an American actor and filmmaker. After an impoverished childhood, he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war films. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 films and was known for his explosive acting style. He was named by the American Film Institute the 17th-greatest male star of Classic Hollywood cinema.

Douglas became an international star for his role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other early films include Out of the Past (1947); Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day; Ace in the Hole (1951); and Detective Story (1951), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He received his second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and earned his third for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), a role for which he won the Golden Globe for the Best Actor in a Drama. He also starred with James Mason in the adventure 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), a large box-office hit.

In September 1949, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). In those two films, he collaborated with the then-relatively unknown director Stanley Kubrick, taking lead roles in both films. Douglas has been praised for helping to break the Hollywood blacklist by having Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus with an official on-screen credit. He produced and starred in Lonely Are the Brave (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964), the latter opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a story that he purchased and later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film. Douglas continued acting into the 1980s, appearing in such films as Saturn 3 (1980), The Man from Snowy River (1980), Tough Guys (1986), a reunion with Lancaster, and in the television version of Inherit the Wind (1988) plus in an episode of Touched by an Angel in 2002, for which he received his third nomination for an Emmy Award.

As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas received an Academy Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he wrote ten novels and memoirs. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lived with his second wife (of 65 years), producer Anne Buydens, until his death in 2020. A centenarian, Douglas was one of the last surviving stars of the film industry’s Golden Age.

  • Top Secret Affair (1957) – Major General Melville A. Goodwin
  • Paths of Glory (1957) – Colonel Dax
  • Operation Petticoat (1959) – Welding Seaman
  • Spartacus (1960) – Spartacus
  • Town Without Pity (1961) – Major Garrett
  • The Hook 91963) – Sergeant P.J. Briscoe
  • In Harm’s Way (1965) – Commander Paul Eddington
  • Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) – Colonel Mickey Marcus
  • Is Paris Burning? (1966) – General George Patton
  • Saturn 3 (1980) – Adam
  • The Final Countdown (1980) – Captain Matthew Yelland
  • Tales from the Crypt, TV series (1991) – General Kalthrob (S03E14, ‘Yellow’ aired on 28 August 1991), starred with his youngest son, Eric Douglas.

Christopher Plummer

Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer CC (13 December 1929 to 05 February 2021) was a Canadian actor. His career spanned seven decades, gaining him recognition for his performances in film, stage, and television. He received multiple accolades, including an Academy Award, two Tony Awards, and two Primetime Emmy Awards, making him the only Canadian recipient of the “Triple Crown of Acting”. He also received a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award as well as a nomination for a Grammy Award.

He made his Broadway debut in the 1954 play The Starcross Story. He received two Tony Awards, one for Best Actor in a Musical playing Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano (1974) and the other for Best Actor in a Play portraying John Barrymore in Barrymore (1997). His other Tony-nominated roles include in J.B. (1959), Othello (1982), No Man’s Land (1994), King Lear (2004), and Inherit the Wind (2007).

After appearing on stage, he made his film debut in Stage Struck (1958), landed his first starring role that same year in Wind Across the Everglades. His breakthrough role was for his leading role as Captain Georg von Trapp in the musical film The Sound of Music (1965) alongside Julie Andrews. During this time he starred in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Waterloo (1970), and The Man Who Would Be King (1975).

He received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Beginners (2011). Other Oscar-nominated roles include in The Last Station (2009) and All the Money in the World (2017). His other notable films include Somewhere in Time (1980), Malcolm X (1992), The Insider (1999), A Beautiful Mind (2001), The New World (2005), Syriana (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Knives Out (2019).

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