On This Day … 14 February [2023]

People (Births)

  • 1916 – Masaki Kobayashi, Japanese director and producer (d. 1996)
  • 1929 – Vic Morrow, American actor and director (d. 1982)
  • 1945 – Rod Masterson, American lieutenant and actor (d. 2013)
  • 1963 – Enrico Colantoni, Canadian actor, director, and producer
  • 1970 – Simon Pegg, English actor, director, and producer

People (Deaths)

  • 2015 – Louis Jourdan, French-American actor and singer (b. 1921)

Masaki Kobayashi

Masaki Kobayashi (小林 正樹, Kobayashi Masaki, 14 February 1916 to 04 October 1996) was a Japanese film director and screenwriter, best known for the epic trilogy The Human Condition (1959-1961), the samurai films Harakiri (1962) and Samurai Rebellion (1967), and the horror anthology Kwaidan (1964). Senses of Cinema described him as “one of the finest depicters of Japanese society in the 1950s and 1960s.”

He embarked on a career in film in 1941 as an apprentice director at Shochiku Studios, but was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army in January 1942 and sent to Manchuria.

Kobayashi regarded himself as a pacifist and a socialist, and resisted by refusing promotion to a rank higher than private. In 1944 he was transferred to Miyakojima in the Ryuku Islands, and was taken prisoner near the end of the war. Then he spent a year in a detention camp in Okinawa. After his release, in 1946, he returned to Shochiku as assistant to the director Keisuke Kinoshita.

From 1959 to 1961, Kobayashi directed The Human Condition (1959-1961), a trilogy on the effects of World War II on a Japanese pacifist and socialist. The total length of the films is almost ten hours, which makes it one of the longest fiction films ever made for theatrical release.

He was also a candidate for directing the Japanese sequences for Tora! Tora! Tora! after Akira Kurosawa left the film. But instead Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda were chosen.

Vic Morrow

Victor Morrow (born Victor Morozoff; 14 February 1929 to 23 July 1982) was an American actor. He came to prominence as one of the leads of the ABC drama series Combat! (1962-1967), which earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series.

Active on screen for over three decades, his film roles include Blackboard Jungle (1955), King Creole (1958), God’s Little Acre (1958), Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974), and The Bad News Bears (1976). Morrow continued acting up to his death during filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) when he and two child actors were killed by a helicopter crash during filming.

Rod Masterton

Rodney Gregory Masterson, Jr., known as Rod Masterson (14 February 1945 to 12 September 2013), was an American film and television actor from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

He graduated in 1963 from Holy Savior Menard Central High School, a Roman Catholic-institution in Alexandria and in 1967 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He served in the US Marine Corps, first as a drill sergeant and rose to the rank of lieutenant during the Vietnam War era and was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In addition to his acting, Masterson operated a Bikram Yoga clinic in Baton Rouge.

Enrico Colantoni

Enrico Colantoni (born 14 February 1963) is a Canadian actor and director, best known for portraying Elliot DiMauro in the sitcom Just Shoot Me!, Keith Mars on the television series Veronica Mars, Louis Lutz on the short-lived sitcom Hope & Gloria, crime lord Carl Elias on Person of Interest, and Sergeant Greg Parker on the television series Flashpoint. He has also had supporting roles in such films as The Wrong Guy, Galaxy Quest, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Contagion, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and guest appearances on Monk, Numb3rs, Party Down, Stargate SG-1, and Bones. More recently, he starred as Allen Conner in Remedy. He played Laura Hollis’s father in season three of the online web series Carmilla. He appeared in HBO’s Westworld revival and in Station Eleven. Colantoni directed two episodes of the TV series iZombie.

Simon Pegg

Simon John Pegg (né Beckingham; born 14 February 1970) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. He came to prominence in the UK as the co-creator of the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced (1999-2001), directed by Edgar Wright. He and Wright co-wrote the films Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013), known collectively as the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, all of which saw Wright directing and Pegg starring alongside Nick Frost. Pegg and Frost also wrote and starred in the sci-fi comedy film Paul (2011).

Pegg is one of the few performers to have achieved what Radio Times calls the “Holy Grail of Nerd-dom”, having played popular supporting characters in Doctor Who (2005), Star Trek as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (2009-2016), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). He currently stars as Benji Dunn in the Mission: Impossible film series (2006-present), and he voiced the Chamberlain in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019). He is also known for providing the voice of Buck in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Ice Age: Collision Course (2016) and The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild (2022).

Louis Jordan

Louis Jourdan (born Louis Robert Gendre; 19 June 1921 to 14 February 2015) was a French film and television actor. He was known for his suave roles in several Hollywood films, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case (1947), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Gigi (1958), The Best of Everything (1959), The V.I.P.s (1963) and Octopussy (1983). He played Dracula in the 1977 BBC television production Count Dracula.

He was educated in France, Turkey, and the UK, and studied acting at the École Dramatique. While there, he began acting on the professional stage, where he was brought to the attention of director Marc Allégret, who hired him to work as an assistant camera operator on Entrée des Artistes (The Curtain Rises).

Allegret then cast Jourdan in what should have been his first movie, Le Corsaire in 1939 opposite Charles Boyer. Filming was interrupted by the Second World War and was never resumed. He was then hired by Marcel L’Herbier to appear in La Comédie du bonheur (1940) in Rome. He was making Untel Père et Fils in that city when Italy declared war on France. He returned to France, and appeared in Premier rendez-vous (1941) with Danielle Darrieux, shot in Paris. He spent a year on a work gang. Jourdan was ordered to make German propaganda films, which he refused to do, and fled to join his family in unoccupied France.

There he started making movies again, ten films in two years. They included several for Allegret: Parade en sept nuits (1941); L’Arlésienne (1942) with Raimu, The Beautiful Adventure (1942); Les Petites du quai aux fleurs (1944); Twilight (1944). He was in The Heart of a Nation (1943) with Raimu; La Vie de Bohème (1945).

His father was arrested by the Gestapo; months later he escaped, and joined the French Resistance, along with his family. “I was given work to do and I did it”, said Jourdan later of his time in the resistance. “I worked on illegal leaflets, helping to print and distribute them.” After the liberation of France in 1945, he returned to Paris with his childhood sweetheart, Berthe Frédérique (nicknamed “Quique”). They married in 1946.

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