DCS: virginia cherrill

Virginia Cherrill really didn’t want to be an actress. She even turned down an invitation to join the elite Ziegfeld Follies — an offer that came for Florenz Ziegfeld himself. But, Virginia’s friend Sue Carol, an actress-turned-agent was very persuasive.

Virginia was cast as an extra in Howard Hawkes 1928 film The Air Circus, the first of the then-popular aviation-themed films to include spoken dialogue. A chance meeting at a boxing match lead to a co-starring role in Charles Chaplin‘s City Lights. (In his autobiography, Chaplin claimed that an anxious Virginia approached him at the beach.)

Virginia butted heads with Chaplin on the set of City Lights. The actor-director-screenwriter-producer was pleased with her performance, but not with her lack of professionalism. One day, after she left the set early to keep an appointment at the hairdresser, an outraged Chaplin fired Virginia. He planned to re-shoot all of Virginia’s scenes with Georgia Hale stepping into the role. But, with the budget stretched thin and scheduling way behind, Chaplin was backed against a wall. He sheepishly asked the actress to return. Her friend, shrewd actress Marion Davies, convinced Virginia to demand more money to return to the picture. Chaplin had no choice but to double her salary to get his movie completed.

Virginia appeared in a dozen more movies over the next five years, including White Heat with James Cagney and the George Gershwin musical Delicious. She was briefly married to actor Cary Grant along the way.

In 1936, Virginia called it a career. She never achieved the famed and success that City Lights had promised. Her last few films went almost unnoticed and she admitted that she was “no great shakes'” as an actress. She lived in Santa Barbara, California with her fourth husband until her death in 1996 at the age of 88.



DCS: buck henry

AKA Harry Zuckerman

Writer-director-comedian Buck Henry was a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Johnny asked Buck how he wanted to die. Buck replied “I want to be unbelievably old. I want to be withered beyond belief. I want people to be saying, ‘I thought he died years ago.’ and to be amazed I’d lasted to that age.”

Buck passed away on January 8, 2020 at the age of 89.



DCS: ruth brown

Rebellious Ruth Weston ran away from home at 17, opting to sing in nightclubs rather than church. She married trumpeter Jimmie Brown along the way.

Blanche Calloway, sister of noted band leader Cab Calloway, arranged for Ruth to sing at a Washington DC nightclub. Popular radio DJ Willis Conover saw her act and recommended her to Atlantic Record execs Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson. The pair were very interested, but Ruth’s audition was sidelined due to a car accident. However, she signed a contract from her hospital bed.

Beginning in 1949, and switching from ballads to rhythm & blues, Ruth recorded and released a slew of hit records for the Atlantic label. She scored 21 Top 10 records – leading the press the refer to Atlantic Records as “The House that Ruth Built.” However, as the 1960s approached, Ruth decided to leave the spotlight for a calmer family life.

At the insistence of comedian Redd Foxx, Ruth entered the acting world in 1975. She had a recurring role on the much-maligned sitcom Hello Larry, as well as a memorable role as “Motormouth Maybelle Stubbs” in John Waters’ original film Hairspray. Most notably, Ruth earned a Tony Award for her featured role in the 1989 Broadway musical Black & Blue. Her relentless fight for musicians’ rights and royalties led to the founding of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1988. Ruth was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Ruth passed away in 2006 from complications of a heart attack and stroke. She was 78 years old. She was still touring at the time of her death.



DCS: heather angel

Heather Angel is one of those actors that I discovered late in their career. I knew Heather from her recurring role in the 1960s sitcom Family Affair. She played the very proper “Miss Faversham,” a nanny who cares for the children of one of Bill Davis’ (Brian Keith) neighbors in the high-rise Manhattan apartment building. It was hinted that her character was a love interest for the equally-proper “Mr. French,” as portrayed by Sebastian Cabot. She only had a few more roles after Family Affair wrapped, including her final screen appearance in a single episode of the star-studded mini-series Backstairs at the White House. But Heather Angel’s career started nearly four decades before she nodded approvingly at the antics of Buffy and Jody.

Heather debuted at the acclaimed Old Vic Theater at the age of 17. After critical accolades in British cinema, she headed for Hollywood. Heather was cast in a series of strong female roles, including The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Three Musketeers, The Informer and The Last of the Mohicans. Already an accomplished actress, she made her first appearance on Broadway in 1937 in Love of Women. Soon, Heather joined the cast of the “Bulldog Drummond” film franchise, making five appearances as “Phyllis Clavering,” the title investigator’s fiancée. Heather co-starred in two Hitchcock films — Suspicion and Lifeboat — as well as memorable pictures like Pride and Prejudice and Cry ‘Havoc’. In the 50s, she lent her voice to characters in Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Later, she was a recurring character on the early TV soap opera Peyton Place.

Heather’s second husband, actor-director Robert B. Sinclair, was murdered in a failed burglary in the couple’s home in 1970. Sinclair confronted the would-be thief, only to be killed in front of his wife. Heather never remarried. She passed away in December 1986 at the age of 77.