From Hollywood’s French import Denise Darcel & actress-socialite Cobina Wright Jr. to unusual two-time Bond Girl & movie hunks of years past
(See previous post: “More from the TCM Tribute: Betty Garrett & Leslie Brooks + Last Surviving Silent Era Actresses.”) This four-part “TCM Remembers” article comes to a close with a list of more “forgotten” names – i.e., those not found in Turner Classic Movies’ 2011 in memoriam tribute. Among them: Post-WWII MGM actress Denise Darcel, socialite and Fox contract player Cobina Wright Jr., two-time Bond Girl Angela Scoular, and movie hunks Nico Minardos (who became embroiled in the biggest political scandal of the Ronald Reagan presidency) and Aron Kincaid.
Paris-born actress, singer, and stripper Denise Darcel began her show business career as a cabaret performer in her hometown. After going Hollywood, she would be seen in a handful of MGM movies, among them Battleground (1949), Young Man with Ideas (1952), and Dangerous When Wet (1953).
She’s best remembered for two Westerns: William A. Wellman’s Westward the Women (1951), as a determined showgirl who becomes involved with misogynistic wagon master Robert Taylor, and Robert Aldrich’s male-centered United Artists release Vera Cruz (1954), starring Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, and featuring Darcel and fellow European import Sara Montiel as the romantic/sex interest.
After her acting career died down in the early 1960s, Denise Darcel became a stripper, performing in several West Coast theaters. She later went back to cabaret revues, and in 1991 was featured in a key role in a Los Angeles revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies.
Denise Darcel died on Dec. 23, which means she may pop up in next year’s “TCM Remembers.” But how to explain the omission of British-born filmmaker Charles Jarrott, who died at age 83 in March 2011?
Since Turner Classic Movies and its tributes focus on American film celebrities, Jarrott should have been a shoo-in inclusion, as he directed a quartet of well-known Hollywood (or at least part-Hollywood) titles – two famous; two infamous – including a Best Picture Academy Award nominee.
He became an international name following the impressive Oscar-nominated period drama Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), starring Best Actor and Best Actress contenders Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold as, respectively, King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Next in line was Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), which pitted Best Actress nominee Vanessa Redgrave, as the title character, against Glenda Jackson’s Queen Elizabeth I.
Two years later came the disastrous Lost Horizon (1973), a musical remake of the 1937 Frank Capra classic. Peter Finch and Liv Ullmann led an all-star cast (Sally Kellerman, Olivia Hussey, George Kennedy, etc.) mostly incapable of either singing or dancing.
Jarrott’s last big-screen hit was the widely derided domestic blockbuster The Other Side of Midnight (1977), based on a Sidney Sheldon bestseller, and toplining fellow 2011 departed Marie-France Pisier, John Beck, Susan Sarandon, and Raf Vallone.
After several more flops (The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark, Condorman, The Amateur), Charles Jarrott switched to television – where he had begun his directorial career two decades earlier.
For the small screen, he directed “prestige” titles about U.S. presidents (Ike, 1986; Lyndon Johnson, 1987), popes (I Would Be Called John: Pope John XXIII, 1987), billionairesses (Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story, 1987), and classic TV stars (Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter, 1991).
Filmmaker Silvio Narizzano enjoyed his heyday in the second half of the 1960s, when his Swinging London-set comedy-drama Georgy Girl (1966), earned Oscar nominations for Lynn Redgrave and James Mason.
Among Narizzano’s other features of the period were the thriller Fanatic / Die! Die! My Darling! (1965), starring veteran Tallulah Bankhead in her swan song; the U.S.-Mexico border-set Western Blue (1968), in which blue-eyed, Mexican-raised but American-born Terence Stamp must pick sides; and the black comedy Loot (1970), based on Joe Orton’s play, and starring Richard Attenborough, Lee Remick, and Hywel Bennett.
Cobina Wright Jr.
Actress and socialite Cobina Wright Jr. was featured in supporting roles – usually as the sophisticated “other woman” – in several 20th Century Fox productions of the early 1940s, including Week-End in Havana (1941), starring Alice Faye; the programmer Accent on Love (1941), with Osa Massen; and Moon Over Miami (1941) and Footlight Serenade (1942), starring Betty Grable.
Wright Jr. was the daughter of opera singer and socialite Cobina Wright (1887–1970), seen in a brief supporting role in Edmund Goulding’s The Razor’s Edge (1946).
Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. was featured in more than 160 movies, at first mostly in Westerns such as Andrew V. McLaglen’s Chisum (1970), with John Wayne, and Bernard L. Kowalski’s Macho Callahan (1970), with David Janssen.
Later on, Armendáriz Jr. would take home two Ariel (Mexican Academy) Awards: Best Actor for Antonio Eceiza’s Mina, Wind of Freedom (1977) and Best Supporting Actor for Luis Estrada’s Herod’s Law (1999).
His father was Mexican cinema superstar Pedro Armendáriz (Maria Candelaria, From Russia with Love).
One unusual aspect of actress Angela Scoular’s film career was her being seen twice as a Bond Girl: in Famous Artists’ episodic, multi-director Casino Royale (1967) and in Eon Productions’ Peter R. Hunt-directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), starring George Lazenby in his one and only James Bond flick.
On television, she was Juliet in a 1965 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Cathy Earnshaw in a 1967 series based on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and had recurring guest roles in, among others, Coronation Street and You Rang, M’Lord?.
In recent years, Angela Scoular had been battling ill health and depression, in addition to a serious alcohol problem. She was married to actor Leslie Phillips (Crooks Anonymous, Venus) and was the niece of actress Margaret Johnston (Portrait of Clare, Knave of Hearts).
Singer Margaret Whiting was featured in Leslie Goodwins’ musical Paris Follies of 1956 (1955) and later provided Susan Hayward’s singing voice in Mark Robson’s box office hit Valley of the Dolls (1967).
She was also the sister of singer and sometime actress Barbara Whiting (1931–2004), featured in about a dozen movies of the late 1940s and early 1950s (e.g., Centennial Summer, Beware My Lovely). Both sisters also starred in the TV series Those Whiting Girls (1955–1957).
Later in life, Margaret Whiting became the wife of former child actor-turned-gay & straight porn star Jack Wrangler (1946–2009).
More of those forgotten by ‘TCM Remembers’: From hunky Nico Minardos to Merlin & Sherlock Holmes portrayer Nicol Williamson
Among the other film personalities who died this past year but are nowhere to be found in the “TCM Remembers” homage are the following:
- Movie hunks Nico Minardos (Istanbul, Holiday for Lovers) and Aron Kincaid (Beach Ball, The Happiest Millionaire). The former would later become enmeshed in the Iran-Contra hearings of the 1980s; the latter would later provide the voices of several characters in animated television series of the 1980s and 1990s, including Sky Lynx in The Transformers and Killer Croc in Batman: The Animated Series.
- Dark, beefy actor Christopher Mayer (a.k.a. Chip Mayer), whose occasional big-screen appearances included those as a gang leader in Kihachi Okamoto’s ninja Western East Meets West (1995) and in a minor supporting part in Tom Shadyac’s Jim Carrey comedy Liar Liar (1997). A busy TV performer, Mayer was best known for his portrayal of Vance Duke in the 1982–1983 season of the action-comedy series The Dukes of Hazzard.
- The Extra Day (1956) and No Time for Tears (1957) actor George Baker, featured opposite fellow 2011 departed Diane Cilento in George More O’Ferrall’s The Woman for Joe (1955). Baker is probably best remembered for his TV work: Tiberius in I, Claudius and Inspector Wexford in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.
- Actress Lyudmila Gurchenko, whose five-decade movie career reached its peak in mid-20th-century Soviet films, among them Eldar Ryazanov’s Carnival in Moscow (1956) and Vladimir Denisenko’s Roman i Francheska (1961).
- Stage and sporadic film actor Nicol Williamson, whose most significant screen performances were those as a cocaine-addicted Sherlock Holmes in Herbert Ross’ The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) and as Merlin the Magician in John Boorman’s medieval fantasy Excalibur (1981).
- Filmmaker Don Sharp, whose big-screen credits include the period drama Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), with Christopher Lee in the title role, and the IRA thriller Hennessy (1975), toplining Rod Steiger, Lee Remick, and Richard Johnson.
- Actress Anneka Di Lorenzo, who brought to life Ancient Rome’s sexually charged Messalina, the third wife of the emperor Claudius, in Bruno Corbucci’s Messalina, Messalina (1977) and Tinto Brass’ Caligula (1979) – both films also sharing the same costumes and sets.
- Actor Heinz Bennent, seen in a supporting role in Volker Schlöndorff’s World War II drama The Tin Drum (1979), winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and co-winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or (with Apocalypse Now).
- Artists and Models (1955) and The Rose Tattoo (1955) screenwriter Hal Kanter, whose credits also include several Bob Hope movies (e.g., Road to Bali, Casanova’s Big Night, Bachelor in Paradise); the groundbreaking TV series Julia (1968–1971), starring Diahann Carroll as a nurse; and several recent Academy Award ceremonies.
- Actor Andy Whitfield, seen as the Archangel Gabriel in Shane Abbess’ Purgatory-set action fantasy Gabriel (2007) but known internationally for his portrayal of the Thracian slave/gladiator Spartacus in the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand / Spartacus: War of the Damned (2010).
- Australian Film Institute Award-nominated actor Harold Hopkins, whose movie credits include Bruce Beresford’s Don’s Party (1976) and The Club (1980), and Peter Weir’s Gallipoli (1981).
- Eiko Matsuda, the female lead in Nagisa Oshima’s scandalous, sexually explicit psychological drama Empire of the Senses (1976), banned in dozens of countries.
- Actress Dolores Fuller, mostly seen in B movies of the 1950s (Jail Bait, Bride of the Monster). Her best-remembered effort is Ed Wood’s transgender-themed drama Glen or Glenda (1953), with Wood himself as the title character and veteran Bela Lugosi as a scientist.
- Model and actress Doe Avedon, best known not for her handful of film appearances (The High and the Mighty, Deep in My Heart), but for having been the inspiration for Audrey Hepburn’s character in Stanley Donen’s 1957 romantic comedy musical Funny Face.
- Pretty, blonde, and busy TV actress Phyllis Avery (The Ray Milland Show, Mr. Novak, Charlie’s Angels), featured as Charlton Heston’s wife in King Vidor’s Ruby Gentry (1952) and as the fictionalized wife of songwriter Ray Henderson (played by Dan Dailey) in Michael Curtiz’s The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956).
- Producer and screenwriter Bernd Eichinger, whose credits include the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-nominated Third Reich drama Downfall (2004).
- Lust for Ecstasy (1963), Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966), and The Devil’s Cleavage (1975) experimental filmmaker George Kuchar.
- Actress Sada Thompson, seen in a trio of movies – Desperate Characters (1971), The Pursuit of Happiness (1971), Pollock (2000) – and best remembered for the 1970s television series Family.
- Porky’s actor Wyatt Knight, who was also featured in the sequels Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983) and Porky’s Revenge (1985).
- Actress Eve Brent, who played Jane opposite Gordon Scott’s Tarzan in H. Bruce Humberstone’s Tarzan’s Fight for Life (1958).
- Anthony Quinn’s son and Platoon actor Francesco Quinn.
- American football player turned Police Academy series actor Bubba Smith.
Turner Classic Movies website.
Denise Darcel image: Publicity shot ca. early 1950s.
Cobina Wright Jr. image: Publicity shot ca. early 1940s.
Nico Minardos Ghost Diver image: 20th Century Fox.
“Denise Darcel & Cobina Wright Jr. + Several Movie Hunks: More Forgotten Ones” last updated in June 2018.