Thursday, January 10, 2008

28th Academy Awards

The 28th Academy Awards were presented at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, on March 21, 1956, honoring the top films of 1955.

The Best Picture honor went to Marty. Marty is a low-budget 1955 romance film directed by Delbert Mann, based on a teleplay of the same name by Paddy Chayefsky. An enormous sleeper hit, the film enjoyed national and international success, winning the 1955 Academy Award for Best Picture and becoming only the second American film to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Marty and The Lost Weekend (1945) are the only two films to win both awards. The film stars Ernest Borgnine as Marty Piletti, a heavy set Italian-American butcher who lives in the Bronx with his mother. Unmarried at 34, the good-natured but socially awkward man faces nearly constant assault from family and friends who badger him to get married. Not averse to marriage but disheartened by lack of prospects, Marty has reluctantly resigned himself to bachelorhood. The film ended up winning eight Academy Award nominations, with four major wins: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor. In 1994, Marty was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Ernest Borgnine won the Best Actor award for his role as Marty. His first role was as the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams' "Glass Menagerie". In 1949, he debuted on Broadway in the role of a nurse in the hit play Harvey. In 1951, he moved to Los Angeles, where he received his big break in From Here to Eternity (1953), playing the cruel Sergeant "Fatso" Judson, in charge of the stockade, who taunts fellow soldier Angelo Maggio (played by Frank Sinatra). He built a reputation as a dependable character actor and appeared in such films as Johnny Guitar (1954) and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). In 1955, Borgnine starred in the film version of the television play Marty, which gained him an Academy Award for Best Actor. He subsequently appeared in many movies, sometimes in lead roles, but more often as a supporting major star. Later film roles include The Vikings (1958), The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969), The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Black Hole (1979). Since 1999, Borgnine has provided his voice talent to the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants as the elderly superhero Mermaid Man (where he is once again paired up with his McHale's Navy co-star, Tim Conway, who voices Mermaid Man's sidekick Barnacle Boy). Borgnine has also appeared on an episode of The Simpsons as himself in addition to a number of television commercials. In 2000, he was the executive producer of Hoover, in which he is the only credited actor. Borgnine has married five times: Rhoda Kemins (1948–1959), whom he met while serving in the Navy; They had one daughter, Gina, together; The actress Katy Jurado (1959–1963); the singer Ethel Merman (1964), which lasted barely over a month; Donna Rancourt (1965-1972), with whom he had a son, Christopher, and a daughter, Sharon and
Tova Traesnaes (1972 to date).

Anna Magnani (March 7, 1908 - September 26, 1973) was an Academy Award-winning Italian stage and film actress. Magnani won the Academy Award for her lusty portrayal of a Sicilian widow in The Rose Tattoo. She met Italian filmmaker Goffredo Alessandrini in 1933 and the two were married in 1935. He was one of the first Italian filmmakers to adapt the new sound technology used in American cinema. Her marriage to Alessandrini ended in 1950, and she never married again. She had worked in films for almost 20 years before gaining international renown as 'Pina' in Roberto Rossellini's neorealist milestone Roma, Cittá Aperta. (also known as Rome, Open City, 1945). Her harrowing death scene remains one of cinema's most devastating moments. In Italy (and gradually elsewhere) she soon became established as a star, although she lacked the conventional beauty and glamour usually associated with the term.As the widowed mother of a teenage daughter in Daniel Mann's 1955 film of Tennessee Williams's The Rose Tattoo, Magnani's adroit, mercurial performing offsets the hammy Method acting style of co-star Burt Lancaster. It wasn’t until then that she broke into Hollywood mainstream cinema with her first English speaking role. Playing Serafina Delle Rose in The Rose Tattoo, she won the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar. Tennessee Williams wrote it and based the character of Serafina on Magnani, since the two were good friends. It was originally put on stage starring Maureen Stapleton, because Magnani’s English was too limited at the time for her to star. Magnani worked with Williams again in his 1959 film, The Fugitive Kind, where she played Lady Torrance and starred opposite Marlon Brando. Magnani made her final film performance as Rosa in The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) except for her uncredited appearance as herself (within a dramatic context) in Fellini's Roma (1972). She died at the age of 65 in Rome, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. A huge crowd gathered for her funeral in a final salute that Romans usually reserve for Popes.

Jack Lemmon, was a two-time Academy Award and Cannes award-winning American actor and comedian. He starred in legendary classics such as Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Days of Wine and Roses, Irma La Douce, The Great Race, The Odd Couple, The Out-of-Towners, My Fellow Americans and The China Syndrome. Lemmon's film debut was a bit part as a plasterer/painter in the 1949 film The Lady Takes a Sailor, but he was not noticed until his official debut opposite Judy Holliday in the 1954 comedy, It Should Happen to You. Lemmon worked with many legendary leading ladies of the cinema screen. He was also close friends with Tony Curtis and Walter Matthau. He made two films with Curtis and a total of eleven films with Matthau. He became a favorite actor of director Billy Wilder, starring in his films Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Irma La Douce, The Fortune Cookie, Avanti!, The Front Page and Buddy Buddy. Lemmon was awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1956 for Mister Roberts (1955), and the Best Actor Oscar for Save the Tiger (1973), being the first actor to achieve this double. He was also nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the controversial film Missing in 1982. In 1988, the American Film Institute gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award. Days of Wine and Roses (1962) was one of his favorite roles. He portrayed Joe Clay, a young, fun-loving alcoholic businessman.Throughout his career, Lemmon often appeared in films alongside actor Walter Matthau. They would go on to be one of the most beloved duos in cinema history. Among their pairings was as Felix Unger (Lemmon) and Oscar Madison (Matthau) in the 1968 film, The Odd Couple. They also starred together in The Fortune Cookie, The Front Page, and Buddy Buddy. Additionally, both had small parts in Oliver Stone's 1991 film, JFK (the only film in which they both appear, but share no screentime). In 1993, the duo teamed up again to star in Grumpy Old Men. The film was a surprise hit, earning the two actors a new generation of young fans. During the rest of the decade, they would go on to star together in Out to Sea, Grumpier Old Men and the widely-panned The Odd Couple II. The only death scene that Lemmon performed was in The China Syndrome in 1979. For this part, he was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1982, he won another Cannes award for his performance in Missing (which also received the Palme d'Or). He is currently the only actor other than Marcello Mastroianni to have won it twice. At the 1998 Golden Globe Awards, he was nominated for "Best Actor in a Made for TV Movie" for his role in Twelve Angry Men. He lost the award to Ving Rhames. After accepting the award, Rhames asked Lemmon to come onstage and in a move that stunned the audience, gave his award to him.Lemmon was married twice. His son, Chris Lemmon, (b. 1954), was his first child by his first wife, actress Cynthia Stone. He is also an actor. His second wife was the western actress Felicia Farr, with whom he had a daughter, Courtney, born in 1966. Jack Lemmon died of carcinoma of the colon and metastatic cancer of the bladder on June 27, 2001. He had been fighting the disease, very privately, for two years before losing the battle.

Jo Van Fleet, in her first film role, as the mother of the James Dean character in East of Eden (1955), won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Her subsequent film work was very sporadic, and included such films as The Rose Tattoo, I'll Cry Tomorrow (both 1955), The King and Four Queens (1956), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Wild River (1960), Cool Hand Luke (1967), and I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968). Van Fleet was married to William Bales from 1946 until his death in 1990, and was the mother of Michael Bales, who survives her. She died in Queens, New York of undisclosed causes at the age of 81.

Delbert Mann was an American television and film director. He won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Directing for the film Marty. It was the first Best Picture winner to be based on a television program, being adapted from a 1953 teleplay of the same name which he had also directed. Mann is also the only director others than Billy Wilder and Roman Polanski to win an Oscar for his direction and a Cannes Palme d'Or for the same film. From 1967 to 1971, he was president of the Directors Guild of America. He was married to Ann Caroline Mann from 1941 until his wife's death in 2001. Mann died on November 11, 2007 of pneumonia at a Los Angeles hospital.

"Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" is a popular song with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. The same pair wrote "Secret Love", an earlier winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The song appeared in the movie, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, winning its own Best Song Academy Award. From 1967 to 1973, it was used as the theme song to Love is a Many Splendored Thing, the soap opera based on the movie.

Special Awards
To Samurai, The Legend of Musashi (Japan), best foreign language film first released in the United States during 1955.

The awards were co-hosted by Claudette Colbert, Joseph L Mankiewicz and Jerry Lewis, a comedian, actor, film producer, writer and film director known for his slapstick humor and his charity fund-raising telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Lewis has won many prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from The American Comedy Awards, The Golden Camera, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, The Venice Film Festival and he has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Lewis currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lewis was originally paired up in 1946 with Dean Martin, and formed the comedy team of Martin and Lewis. In addition to the team's popular nightclub work, they starred in a successful series of comedy films for Paramount. The act broke up ten years later. After the split, Lewis remained at Paramount and became a major comedy star with his debut film The Delicate Delinquent in 1957. Lewis is the father of 1960s pop musician Gary Lewis, who had several hits during the mid-1960s with his group Gary Lewis and the Playboys. He has five other sons: Joseph, Ronald, Scott, Christopher and Anthony and an adopted daughter Danielle (b. Mar-1992).

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