A Tribute

 The Week That Broke Our Hearts

A Tribute to Eleanor Parker, Tom Laughlin,
Audrey Totter, Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine

   December 9-15 was a heart-breaking week for classic film fans with the almost daily announcement of a legendary star’s death. The first notification was for Eleanor Parker on December 9 followed by both Tom Laughlin and Audrey Totter on the 12th, Peter O’Toole, the 14th and Joan Fontaine, the 15th.
   Together, these actors and actresses starred in a total of approximately 225 films, representing most of the genres, including drama, comedy, adventure, sci-fi, film noir, musicals, spy thrillers, westerns and martial arts. Most worked into their later years. O’Toole had completed work on his last film, Katherine of Alexandria, which is slated for release in early 2014.
   Because these actors’ and actresses’ work spanned the genres and decades, they left many fans reflecting on their contributions to the history of cinema. You do not have to be a hard-core classic film fan or be of any particular age to recognize some of their greatest films: Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia; Eleanor Parker, The Sound of Music; Audrey Totter, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Lady in the Lake; Tom Laughlin, the “Billy Jack” films; and Joan Fontaine, Rebecca and Suspicion.
   Thanks to television networks such as Turner Classic Movies (TCM), DVD releases, film festivals, movie palaces still in operation and a continuing interest in film preservation, their large body of work hopefully will remain available for many future generations to enjoy. Read about their extraordinary lives below and—Remember

—Mary McCord, Editor
Posted December 19, 2013

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(June 26, 1922 – December 9, 2013)
   Eleanor Parker, age 91 at her death, was a versatile American actress and was called “Woman of a Thousand Faces”. She is best known for: a re-make of the film Of Human Bondage (1946); Caged (1950; Detective Story, (1951); and The Sound of Music (1965). She was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
   She made approximately 55 films with Madame X (1981) being her last theatrical release. She appeared in episodes of television shows and TV movies. The last TV movie she made was Dead On The Money in 1991.

(August 10, 1931) – December 12, 2013)

Tom Laughlin, age 82 at his death, was an American actor, director, screenwriter, author, educator and political activist. He is best known for the “Billy Jack” character he played in four films.
   He appeared in 31 films. His last theatrical release was No Escape in 1994. Zoya, based on a Danielle Steel novel, was his last TV movie and was produced in 1994.

(December 20, 1917 – December 12, 2013)

   Audrey Totter, age 95 at her death, was an American actress. She is best known for her MGM film noir, femme fatale roles in the 1940s.
   She made 34 films, including The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and Lady In The Lake (1947), a Raymond Chandler murder mystery. She appeared in TV shows in the mid-1970s. Her last theatrical release was The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again in 1979.

(August 2, 1932 – December 14, 2013)

   Peter O’Toole, age 81 at his death, was an Irish actor in both film and theatre. He is best known for his starring roles in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter (1968). He was nominated eight times for the Academy Awards’ Best Actor which made him the most nominated actor to never win. During his career, he was nominated for and won many other awards, including four Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture Actor. He received an honorary Oscar in 2003.
   O’Toole appeared in more than 60 films and narrated or provided the voice for eight more. From 1956 to 2008, he appeared in episodes of various TV shows and made many TV movies. His last TV movie was Iron Road, a 2008 mini-series. His last film, Katherine of Alexandria where he plays a Roman orator, is set for release in early 2014.

(October 22, 1917 – December 15, 2013)

   Joan Fontaine, age 96 at her death, was a British-American actress. She is best known for the films Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941) and The Constant Nymph (1943). She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for all three films, winning for the Alfred Hitchcock directed Suspicion. Her sister is actress Olivia de Havilland.
   She played roles in approximately 45 films and performed on Broadway. Her television credits include TV movies and shows, including anthologies such as General Electric Theater.

Eleanor Parker
Tom Laughlin
Audrey Totter
Peter O'Toole

Joan Fontaine
Photo courtesy of the British
Film Institute.