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February 8: Happy Birthday Jack Lemmon and Lana Turner

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Two-time Oscar winner Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard.  He began working in film and television at the end of the 1940s, and had his first significant film role in 1954’s It Should Happen to You.  A year later, he had a breakout performance, winning Best Supporting Actor as Ensign Pulver in Mister Roberts.  His stature as a top star was confirmed at the end of the decade, when he made a pair of films with director Billy Wilder.  He played the bass player Jerry, alias Daphne, in Some Like it Hot, and then starred as the office worker who grows a backbone, C. C. Baxter, in The Apartment.  He received Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, along with Oscar nominations, for each film.

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Most Unwanted

Which actor or actress is like nails on a chalkboard to you?  Who do you avoid at all costs?  In the September 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, the writers asked a bunch of random moviegoers which stars they found the most annoying.  Some of the answers will probably surprise you.  Some, not so much.  Whether you agree with their selections or not, these fans came up with some pretty funny quotes about their least favorite actors.

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February 8: Happy Birthday John Williams and James Dean

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John Williams celebrates his 85th today.  The five-time Oscar winner studied at Juilliard and began working in film and television as an orchestrator and a studio pianist.  He began composing film and television music of his own in the late fifties, and received his first Oscar nominations (he has received fifty in total) in the late sixties, for Valley of the Dolls (for Best Adaptation Score) and The Reivers (for Best Original Score).  His first Oscar might surprise some—it was for Best Adapted Score for the film version of Fiddler on the Roof.

In the early seventies Williams was asked by Steven Spielberg to score his movie The Sugarland Express, beginning a collaboration that would see Williams score all but two of Spielberg’s films, including one about a shark.  A few years later, Spielberg recommended that his friend George Lucas have Williams score a science fiction adventure film.  It is pretty safe to say that the scores for Jaws and Star Wars, both of which won Williams Oscars for Best Original Score, made him as much of a household word as any film composer can ever be.

Williams has won two additional Oscars, for E.T. and Schindler’s List, as well as seven BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmys and an astonishing 22 Grammys.  In 1980 he replaced the legendary Arthur Fiedler as conductor of the Boston Pops, and he remains the ensemble’s Conductor Laureate.  Besides his film music, he is known for several Olympic Games themes and the “Mission” theme for the NBC Nightly News, and he has written a considerable body of orchestral and chamber music.    Picking a single piece of music to represent all of his work would be impossible, but I do have a pair of personal favorites: the “super-theme” from Superman: The Movie, and this:

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Juror #5: Jack Klugman

“Oh, now, there was something personal!”

“Juror #5,” as played by Jack Klugman in “12 Angry Men,” comes across initially as a quiet, humble man who genuinely does not wish to make waves. It’s probably the only reason the prosecution let him through when it came time to choose the jury. Either that, or they were out of exceptions. It pains him to admit to the rest of the men that he has been a lifelong resident of a slum, but when the neighborhood the boy lives in is cited as proof of his guilt, he cannot help but speak up. Then, his expertise on what a knife fight looks like becomes very important.

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