Happy 93rd birthday to one of our finest (and one of my favorite) actors, Sidney Poitier. I would be hard-pressed to name a single Poitier film as my favorite, but I especially admire his performances in THE DEFIANT ONES, LILLIES OF THE FIELD and IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT.
Happy 86th birthday to the great actor Alan Arkin, who was born on March 26, 1934. Mr. Arkin won an Oscar for his performance in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, but my personal favorite is the 1979 comedy THE IN-LAWS ("Serpentine!"). A little known fact is that Mr. Arkin also wrote a few science fiction stories: "Whiskaboom", which appeared in the August, 1955 issue of Galaxy, and "People Soup", which appeared in the November, 1958 issue of that same magazine. The latter story was reprinted in a 1980 hardcover anthology, GALAXY: THIRTY YEARS OF INNOVATIVE SCIENCE FICTION. In his introduction to "People Soup" which appeared in that anthology, Mr. Arkin wrote: "The events in the story are probably fictional, but I won't swear to it."
Happy 100th birthday to Robert Madle, born on June 2, 1920, and still going strong! Mr. Madle is one of science fiction's most notable fans. And I love the picture accessible via the link below so much that I am posting it again. The photo shows a group of fans at the very first World Science Fiction Convention, held in 1939 in New York City. 19-year-old Robert Madle is the second person from the left in the back row, and 18-year-old Ray Bradbury is at the far right in that same row.
Happy 100th birthday to the legendary special effects artist and lifelong friend of Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, who was born on June 29, 1920.
I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Harryhausen, the nicest of gentlemen, several times. One such occasion was at a celebration of the 65th anniversary of the release of the film KING KONG, held in Omaha, Nebraska in 1998. There was a private reception the evening before the screening with Mr. Harryhausen, as well as two other very special guests: his close friends Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman. Another was at his surprise 80th birthday party, held in the backyard of the Beverly Hills, California home of the British Consulate in the summer of 2000, to which my friend, the late Arnold Kunert, got me an invitation. Arnold Kunert, of course, was the person who led the campaigns which resulted in Mr. Harryhausen receiving a well deserved Oscar, as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Wonderful memories!
I told the following story on this Forum several years ago, when Ray Harryhausen passed away. However, because I think it is quite funny, I hope folks won't mind if I repeat it these many years later, in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth, for any newcomers to the Forum. As I mentioned in my post above, Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen and Forrest J Ackerman were guests of honor at a special screening of the 1933 version of KING KONG in Omaha, Nebraska in 1998, to celebrate the film's 65th anniversary. There was a reception the evening before the screening which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend, at which time I had Mr. Harryhausen autograph the cover of a 1938 issue of IMAGINATION, the fan magazine edited by Forry Ackerman and published by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS) of which all three were members in 1938. Mr. Harryhausen had drawn the cover art for the issue. I still remember how excited Mr. Harryhausen was at seeing this magazine and his youthful work. He showed the magazine to his wife, saying, "Diana, look at this! I did the cover art for this magazine way back in 1938!" Mrs. Harryhausen was not impressed, as she took one look at the cover and said (all in good humor), "Hmmm. Looks just like you."
Here's a link to that wonderful Ray Harryhausen cover.
Happy 104th birthday to the great actress Olivia de Havilland. Now those are good genes! Miss de Havilland is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. My personal favorite of the many classic films in which she starred is 1938's THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, with Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. What a great movie!
Happy 82nd birthday to Dame Diana Rigg, born on July 20, 1938. Ms. Rigg has had a brilliant career on the stage, as well as in films and TV, but I most remember her as Emma Peel in the THE AVENGERS television series back in the 1960's.