Alexa here. I just couldn't let the day pass without paying tribute to Frank Langella on his 75th birthday. He has always been one of my favorite actors; something about his unctuous classicism makes him appear to be a larger-than-life Caravaggio, and my gothic sensibilities have only truly been satisfied with his turn as Dracula. His work continues to intrigue; 2007's Starting Out in the Evening was a recent high point in a career that has spanned more than 50 years. Plus, he revealed himself to be quite the debauched dandy in his memoir Dropped Names, making him all the more endearing (read what Nathaniel had to say about it here; it really is a fun read).
...The Deadly Trap (an atrocious René Clément-directed thriller that also features Faye Dunaway) and Diary of a Mad Housewife (a dated polemic that is nonetheless enjoyable as a time capsule).
Here are excerpts from a few pieces of ephemera from my collection: a fan program from the 1979 film version of Dracula, and a 1970 interview with Frank from the performing-arts magazine After Dark, timed with the releases of his first two films, Diary of a Mad Housewife and Mel Brooks' The Twelve Chairs.
At the age of eleven, Frank Langella played an 85-year-old in his school's Abraham Lincoln pageant. Still only sixteen, he would take a bus to Times Square and comb the record stores for John Gielgud albums to help get rid of his [Jersey] accent...
When producer Walter Mirisch saw Frank Langella's portrayal of Dracula on the stage, he commented: "I truly had no idea what to expect. But he had created a completely different character, one with charm, sex appeal, and most important of all, he endeared himself to the audiences. I decided right then to do the film."
[Coming off his biggest stage triumph in A Cry For Prayers with Anne Bancroft], Frank and actors like him keep pitching hard to be part of the theater life because it's been the better part of theirs. Stardom? It could happen, but not with a bang. "My career has always been steady, I take one step at a time, and I've been lucky. Good plays, good directors. I've never been on Broadway, and most people don't know who I am. That's all right. Maybe I'll fall flat on my face in these two films. That's all right too. Flash-in-the-pan success is not what I need. I still want to be around, acting, when I'm sixty. None of this 'whatever happened to?'..."