Eleven years ago, it began with a spark of inspiration. What is the one thing that practically every film fan can agree on…the one thing that every cinephile looks forward to? What is the celluloid glue that holds us all together so dearly? Our love of character actors.
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From the earliest years of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the network has broadcast “What A Character!” interstitial short tributes honoring various character actors. Many of the most popular supporting players have been highlighted over the years, including Marjorie Main, Edna May Oliver, Beulah Bondi, William Demarest, and Butterfly McQueen. These consummate pros were the inspiration for the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon. Kellee, Aurora, and I decided to dedicate a blogathon to those invaluable talents who often stole the scene. Now, for the eleventh consecutive year, we continue the tradition. Details after the jump
Hey night owls and West Coasters, Paula here to close out our 10th Annual What a Character! Blogathon! It always brings me so much joy to see so much love for the backbone of studio-era Hollywood, the supporting players.
I was a late bloomer with Lured. I didn’t see Douglas Sirk’s remake of the 1939 French film Pieges until the mid-teens of the present century. This comedy/drama/film noir is a bit complicated, and I don’t want to reveal too much for those who haven’t seen the film. It’s so much fun, you deserve to see it for yourself. But here goes: Never-lovelier Lucille Ball portrays Sandra Carpenter, an American showgirl stranded in London. She’s working as a taxi dancer when her friend and co-worker Lucy (Tanis Chandler) disappears, probably the latest victim of the “Poet Killer,” a shadowy murderer who advertises for his prey in the personals section of the newspaper and taunts the police by mailing love poems to them. When Sandra goes to Scotland Yard to try and find Lucy, she is recruited by Inspector Harley Temple (Charles Coburn) to go undercover for the Yard. She will be essentially acting as bait for the killer, answering any and all personal ads that look sketchy enough to be leads. The first seeks a dress model. She goes to the studio of Charles van Druten (Boris Karloff), a former fashion designer, who is certainly unhinged. Is he the Poet Killer?
Meanwhile, Sandra had been trying to audition for a better dancing gig, in a new show with real producers, Robert Fleming (George Sanders) and Julian Wilde (Cedric Hardwicke). Long story short, while answering another personal ad, Sandra encounters “unmitigated cad” Fleming, and sparks fly. She’s on duty at the time, but he keeps turning up in the most unlikely places as she pursues the investigation. Hmm…
Unable to resist those actors, Aurora, Kellee, and I decided to dedicate a blogging event in their honor, and the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon was born. Now, for the 10th consecutive year, we continue the tradition.
This announcement also serves as a heartfelt thank you to all who have participated in this event so graciously for nine years. The talent, enthusiasm, and passion with which you have approached our beloved character actors are beyond anything we could have imagined. We hope you join us again for this special celebration!
The 10th Annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon takes place on Saturday, December 4, 2021.
Let the hosts know which character actor you choose by leaving a comment below.
We prefer no repeats, i.e. previously published posts.
Character actors can be from any era of film or television.
Please include the name and URL of your blog and your Twitter handle if you have one to help us promote your work properly.
Publish your post on or before December 4, 2021.
Please include the event banner (designed by yours truly from an idea by Aurora) on your blog to help us promote this special event
HAVE FUN and spread the word!
A tenth anniversary is a big deal, a fact recognized by both TCM and The University Press of Kentucky, who have offered books to give away to a lucky 10 U.S. and Canada WHAT A CHACRACTER! bloggers.
While you may well be familiar with TCM, you may not know about The University Press of Kentucky, which has a wonderful array of film history-related biographies and analytical studies in its Screen Classics series. For our event, Director of Sales & Marketing Brooke Raby has offered a sampling of their offerings, one copy of each of the following titles:
Thank you to Brooke for the terrific list of books.
One Last Thing: Much gratitude to my friends and co-hosts, Kellee and Aurora, without whom this blogathon would not exist, and both of whom were instrumental to the development of TCM Party. One decade down: forever to go. Happy WHAT A CHARACTER! Anniversary!
Chosen Actors and Participating Blogs
Felix Bressart – Taking Up Room
Jack Carson – Second Sight Cinema
Hans Conried – A Shroud of Thoughts
Elisha Cook, Jr. – Whimsically Classic
Wally Cox – Journeys in Classic Film
Diana Dors – Real Weegie Midget Reviews
Mildred Dunnock and Patricia Collinge – The Last Drive In
Hope Emerson – Shadows and Satin
William Frawley – By Rich Watson
Theresa Harris – Blog of the Darned
Kathleen Harrison – Caftan Woman
Edward Everett Horton – Silent Film Music
Jessie Royce Landis – Michele Price
Lured (1947) Supporting Cast – Paula’s Cinema Club
Subsequent to Day 1 over at Outspoken and Freckled, and Day 2 at Once Upon A Screen, I am presenting Day 3 of our annual tribute to the names below the title, those scene-stealing supporting players who add immeasurably to our favorite films.
First up, Gary Pratt takes a good look — literally — at Donald Pleasance, particularly as half of a beautiful friendship in The Great Escape in a guest post on Outspoken and Freckled.
Lesley at Second Sight Cinema looks at late-blooming Charles Coburn, who nonetheless became “as indispensable to the movies as he had been to the American stage for nearly four decades.”
Aurora at Once Upon A Screen… profiles another late bloomer, the inimitable Majorie Main, whose “physical look, her mannerisms, dry wit, and that voice! all made a package that was not easy to forget.”
The Lady Eve shines the spotlight on Joyce Compton, declaring, “there’s more to [her] story than her turns as scatterbrained, Southern-fried blondes.”
Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled sheds some very deserved light on Frank McHugh’s life and career.
To be continued with more character actors to come…
From the time Douglas Fairbanks, then President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, hosted the first Awards dinner party for about 250 people on May 16, 1929, to this year’s host-free Oscars ceremony ninety years later, this iconic celebration honoring Hollywood’s finest continues to be just as spectacular and as riddled with both excellence and contentions as the films and filmmakers they honor.
If you take a look back at the many Oscar moments in these past 90 years of Oscars ceremonies, you’ll find numerous surprises, disappointments and controversies, which continue to spark debate to this day. That’s where we come in. For the seventh consecutive year, I am once again joining forces with Aurora of Once Upon A Screen aka @CitizenScreen and Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled aka @IrishJayhawk66 to bring you the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. We hope you’ll consider joining us to make this the best and brightest Oscar blogging event yet.
Lionel Atwill, a fixture of action and horror films throughout the 1930s and 1940s, is a familiar face whose background was unknown to me, so I figured he’d be great to write about for the 7th Annual What A Character! Blogathon. To be honest, there’s a lot more story here than I expected.
‘Tis the season to recognize the names below the title, as our yearly recognition of those supporting players whose faces you know (but names you might not) concludes today.
Check out Day 1 by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled and Day 2 at Aurora‘s blog Once Upon a Screen. All the nitty-gritty blogathon details are in the Announcement post. Thanks to my partners in cinematic tribute for making this such a fun project and to Turner Classic Movies for the blogathon title and inspiration. And now on with the show…