On this day in 1902 Louise Beavers born in Cincinatti. Though she was never as famous as the similarly cast Hattie McDaniel she also had her own big film moments in the studio system including the original Imitation of Life in which Claudette Colbert got wildly rich off of her recipe while she Beavers struggled with her light-skinned daughter. FREE PITCH IDEA FOR WRITERS OF COLOR: Don't you think a prestige miniseries on Black Hollywood throughout the years would be fascinating?
More on Louise Beavers and other "on this day" items after the jump...
Here's something specific that a fine TV writers room could really make something Emmy-worthy out of: How about a prestige dissection of the making of the early 50s TV show Beulah? It would be a fascinating collision of racial politics, Hollywood history, American culture, and showbiz tropes, with multiple great roles for black actresses even though the role they were playing was the same problematic stereotyped role.
The Beulah sitcom, was about a domestic who kept fixing the problems of the white family she worked for (the dread "magical negro" and "mammy" tropes combined). The series originally starred Oscar nominee Ethel Waters (Pinky). She quit after a season or two and was briefly replaced by Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel who got ill, and was then replaced by Louise Beavers ... as if all full figured black women from the studio system of the 30s and 40s were interchangeable. The series ran for four seasons and in that short time had three leads! To top that off Gone With the Wind's Butterfly McQueen was even in the series briefly. Anyway I would watch this and it would have at least three great roles for plus size actresses.
Other items from this day in showbiz history...
1855 Bill the Butcher died on this day from a gunshot wound. He'd later be resurrected by Daniel Day Lewis for Gangs of New York
1909 Oscar winner Claire Trevor (her performance in Key Largo is a wow) was born in New York. On this same day Paula Strasberg is also born and with her husband Lee Strasberg will help push The Method on Hollywood. She frequently served as Marilyn Monroe's coach (and was played by Zoë Wanamaker in My Week with Marilyn)
1921 The great Cyd Charisse is born in Texas. Do you think her legs were impossibly long even as an infant?
1935 The Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy musical Naughty Marietta opens. Incidentally it's one of the very first old movies I saw at a repertory house as a kid because my mom loved Nelson & Eddy. It contains the operatic esctasy song "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" which Madeline Kahn will lampoon hilariously in Young Frankenstein
1938 Lewis Teague, who directed several 80s pictures including Jewel of the Nile and Cujo was born in Brooklyn
1941 Russian actor Andrey Mironov (The Diamond Arm) born
1943 The Redgrave Acting Dynasty gets another potent member with Lynn Redgrave
1952 Ron & Nancy Reagan are married in Los Angeles. They're still actors in the early 50s but the White House will be theirs in 29 years.
1959 Undervalued movie hunk Aidan Quinn born. I think he's on some procedural now (?) but there was no one quite like him in the 80s and 90. Think: Desperately Seeking Susan, Blink, Legends of the Fall, Benny & Joon, etcetera
1960 Jeffrey Eugenides, novelist, born in Detroit. His debut novel The Virgin Suicides provides the starter pack for Sofia Coppola's exquisite directorial career. Strangely his other bestsellers "The Marriage Plot" and "Middlesex" have not yet been adapted to film though HBO optioned the latter for series 8 whole years ago.
1967 The Taming of the Shrew, with 'the battling Burtons,' that'd be Liz and Dick, opens in movie theaters. Don't miss Daniel Walber's piece on Zeffirelli's luscious excess
1974 Sebastian Lelio is born in Chile. Will later direct the great picture Gloria starring Paulina Garcia which is inexplicably denied a Foreign Language Film nod by the Academy. I'm still mad about that one.
1985 Mask, which we recently discussed, starring Cher, opened. It was a hit... Cher's movies always were in the 80s, but Oscar didn't love it as much as they might have.
1993 Katharine Hepburn is released from the hospital after suffering from exhaustion and scaring her fans globally. She'll live another ten more years but only has two more movies left in her. Anne Marie covered that whole gigantic career here in "A Year With Kate."
2013 Pedro Almodóvar's I'm So Excited premieres in Spain. I still maintain that it's better than it gets credit for being despite being so obviously tossed off and "light"
And finally on this day in...
2019 Marvel Studio's Captain Marvel will supposedly open starring Brie Larson. I'll believe this movie being made only when I'm sitting in theaters watching it. I firmly believe they're not committed to female superheroes and it'll only be a year before it's pushed back and third time and by the time she's 30 they'll deem Brie too old and recast (even though Robert Downey Jr is still playing Iron Man in his 50s)