09 August 2022

Lili Berky

In our series on the silent Hungarian cinema, EFSP presents Lili Berky (1886–1958), also known as Lilli Berky and Lili Berki. The Hungarian stage and screen actress starred in over 30 Hungarian silent films between 1913 and the late 1920s. She also played in an equal amount of Hungarian sound films, mainly in the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1917 she became the wife of actor and comedian Gyula Gózon. They often performed together.

Lili Berky, Angelo
German postcard by NPG, no. 982. Photo: Angelo, Budapest, 1918.

Lili Berky
Hungarian postcard by Magyar Rotophot Tarsáság, Budapest, 6 SZ. Photo: Joanovics brothers, Koloszvar, Hungary (now Cluj, Romania).

Lili Berky
Hungarian postcard by the magazine Színházi Élet (Theatre Life). Photo: Angelo photos.

One of the first Hungarian films to be exported to other countries

Lili Berky was born Amália Terézia Berky in Gyõrr, Austria-Hungary, in 1886. She was the daughter of theatre director Ferenc Berky (Bauer) and Amália Tóth of Aszod. Lily already acted at the age of 8 and in 1903 she graduated from the Hungarian Royal Dramatic School of Art.

Berky had an intense career as an actress and singer from then on, first at the King's Theatre in 1905-1906, then the Cluj theatre in 1906-1911, the Nepopera (People's Opera) in 1911-1913, in 1915-1919 the Cluj theatre again. And so on and on, until the 1950s, she shifted from one regime to another, often also shifting theatre companies, and continuing to play until her death.

Berky's first big film success was the drama Sárga csikó/The Yellow Foal (Félix Vanyl, 1913) starring Lili Berky, Gyula Nagy and Mihaly Varkonyi (the later Victor Varconi). It was co-produced by the French Pathé and local producer Jenő Janovics. The film was exported to nearly forty countries worldwide.

On the back of the film's massive success, Janovics built his Corvin Film company into a leading studio, attracting talented Hungarian actors, writers and technicians away from the capital Budapest to work for him in Kolozsvár (Cluj).

Berky starred in Michael Kertesz's (Michael Curtiz's) A tolonc/The Exile (1914), opposite Victor Varconi. Also memorable is the silent drama Fehér éjszakák/White Nights (Alexander Korda, 1916), starring Lili Berky, Kálmán Körmendy and György Kürthy. It was based on the play 'Fédora' by Victorien Sardou and is sometimes known by the alternative title 'Fédora'.

Fehér éjszakák/White Nights was Alexander Korda's first film for the Corvin Film studio. It was a major success and was one of the first Hungarian films to be exported to other countries. Korda would continue to direct Berky in various Hungarian films such as Vergödö szívek/Struggling Hearts (Alexander Korda, 1916), Mesék az írógépröl/Tales of the Typewriter (Alexander Korda, 1916), and Mágnás Miska/Miska the Magnate (Alexander Korda, 1916), based on a popular operetta.

Lili Berky in A kis kiraly (Der kleine König)
Hungarian postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft). Photo: Istvan Goszleth, Budapest. Lili Berky in the operetta 'A kis kiraly/Der kleine König' by Emmerich Kalman. The operetta premiered in Vienna in 1912.

Lili Berky in Böském
Hungarian postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft). Photo: Istvan Goszleth, Budapest. Lili Berky in the operetta 'Böském' (1914) by Béla Tompa.

Lili Berky in Böském
Hungarian postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft). Photo: Istvan Goszleth, Budapest. Lili Berky in the operetta 'Böském' (1914) by Béla Tompa.

Lili Berky in Böském
Hungarian postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft). Photo: Rudolf Balogh, Budapest. Lili Berky in the operetta 'Böském' (1914) by Béla Tompa.

Hiding because of the anti-Jewish laws

In the 1930s, Lili Berky would often perform in the romantic comedies by Béla Gaál. These films included the comedy Az új rokon/The New Relative (Béla Gaál, 1934) with Zita Perczel, and the drama Ida regénye/Romance of Ida (Steve Sekely, 1934), starring Gábor Rajnay, Irén Ágay and Pál Jávor.

Berky played another supporting part in the comedy Ez a villa eladó/Villa for Sale (Géza von Cziffra, 1935) starring Ernő Verebes, Ida Turay and Gyula Kabos. After he goes away on holiday, a wealthy man's servant accidentally puts his villa up for sale. She played the female lead in the drama Párbaj semmiért/Duel for Nothing (Emil Martonffy, 1940) starring Gyula Csortos.

She played in more than 30 Hungarian sound films, mainly in the 1930s and early 1940s. During the war, her husband, Hungarian actor and comedian Gyula Gózon, had to hide because of the anti-Jewish laws, while she continued to act. Yet, Gózon managed to survive all the changes in regimes.

After the war Lily Berky had minor parts in Hungarian film dramas, of which two were presented in Cannes: A Tanítónő/The teacher (Márton Keleti, 1945) and Különös házasság/A strange marriage (Márton Keleti, 1951) with Miklos Gabor. Her last stage role was as the Archduchess in Ferenc Molnár's 'The Swan', and her final film part was in Az élet hídja/The Bridge of Life (Márton Keleti, 1956).

Lili Berky died in Budapest, in 1958, at the age of 71. She was the wife of the Kossuth Prize-winning actor Gyula Gózon.

Lili Berky and Ferenc Pázmán in Aranyesö
Hungarian postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft). Photo: Szenes-Koller, Budapest. Lili Berky and Ferenc Pázmán in 'Aranyesö'. 'Aranyesö' (lit. Golden Rain) was the title of an operetta composed by Béla Zerkovitz and with a libretto by Adolf Mérei and Izor Béldia, first staged in 1913. Lily Berky performed together with singer/comedian Horthy.

Lili Berky and Gyula Gózon
Hungarian postcard by Magyar Rotophot Tarsáság, Budapest. Photo: Alexy, 1914. Lili Berky and Gyula Gózon in the operetta 'Böském' (1914) by Béla Tompa. In the same year, the two stage actors also acted in the film version of the play, directed by Aladár Fodor for the company Kino-Report.

Lili Berky
Hungarian postcard by the magazine Színházi Élet (Theatre Life). Photo: Istvan Goszleth, 1918.

Sources: Wikipedia (English, French and Hungarian) and IMDb.

08 August 2022

Peggie Castle

Peggie Castle (1927-1973) was an American actress who specialised in playing the 'other woman' rather than the girlfriend. The tall, sultry, green-eyed Castle was Miss Cheesecake in 1949. With her bleached-blonde hair, garish makeup and tight-fitting sweaters, she played a succession of gun molls, b-girls and murderesses in B-movies of the 1950s.

Peggie Castle
Dutch postcard by Takken, no. 461. Photo: Universal International.

Peggie Castle
Dutch postcard by Takken / 't Sticht, no. 160. Photo: Universal International.

Miss Classy Chassis

Peggie (sometimes written as Peggy) Castle was born as Peggy Thomas Blair in Appalachia, Wise County, Virginia, in 1927. Her mother was Elizabeth Blair. Her father, Doyle H. Blair, was a director of an industrial relations firm. When the family moved to Hollywood, he was hired as a studio manager at Goldwyn Studios. He also worked as a business manager for Donald O'Connor.

Later, Peggie changed her surname Blair at the first studio in which she worked. She took lessons in drama when she was 8 years old. Castle graduated from Hollywood High School and attended Mills College for two years. Castle's first work as an actress came in the soap opera 'Today's Children'. Then a spot on Radio Theatre in 1947 brought her a screen test offer from 20th Century Fox.

According to Hollywood lore, Castle was discovered by a talent scout while eating a shrimp cocktail in the seafood bar of the Farmer's Market in Beverly Hills. She was signed to a seven-year contract with Universal-International and made her film debut credited as Peggy Call in When a Girl's Beautiful (Frank McDonald, 1947) starring Adele Jergens.

In 1949, she was named "Miss Cheesecake" by the Southern California Restaurant Association. Later that year, the Junior Chamber of Commerce named Castle "Miss Three Alarm" and she was voted "Miss Classy Chassis" by members of the United Automobile Workers Union from seven Western states. That year, she also had a part in the comedy Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (Elliott Nugent, 1949), starring Clifton Webb as prickly genius Lynn Belvedere who enrols in a major university with the intention of obtaining a four-year degree in only one year.

In 1950, she was signed by Universal-International on instigation by Universal star Audie Murphy, whom she was seeing at the time. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Peggie Castle seemed to have stepped out of the pages of Mickey Spillane, and in fact starred in two films based on Spillane's works: I, the Jury (Harry Essex, 1953) and The Long Wait (Victor Saville, 1954) opposite Anthony Quinn.

During the 1950s, Peggie appeared in such films as the drama Payment on Demand (Curtis Bernhardt, 1951) starring Bette Davis, the technicolour Swashbuckler The Prince Who Was a Thief (Rudolph Mate, 1951) starring Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie, the Red Scare drama Invasion U.S.A. (Alfred E. Green, 1952), the Film Noir 99 River Street (Phil Karlson, 1953). Peggie Castle often starred in Westerns, appearing in nearly a dozen between Wagons West (Ford Beebe, 1952) starring Rod Cameron, and Hell's Crossroads (Franklin Adreon, 1957). Her later films also include the Science Fiction film Beginning of the End (Bert I. Gordon, 1957) and Arrivederci Roma/Seven Hills of Rome (Roy Rowland, 1957) with tenor Mario Lanza and Marisa Allasio.

Peggie Castle
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D. 85. Photo: Universal International.

Peggie Castle
Vintage card. Photo: Universal.

The Case of the Negligent Nymph

In the late 1950s, Peggie Castle moved into television. She appeared in multiple guest roles on Fireside Theater, Cheyenne, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Restless Gun. In 1957 she appeared as Amy Gordon opposite Clint Walker on Cheyenne in the episode titled The Spanish Grant. In 1957 she played defendant Sally Fenner in the Perry Mason episode, The Case of the Negligent Nymph.

Also in 1957, she was a primary star on Gunsmoke, playing a forlorn Nita Tucker in the episode Chester’s Murder. From 1959 to 1962, she co-starred in the television Western series Lawman — her first continuing series. Her role as saloon owner Lily Merrill brought out a new dimension of Castle's talent. She stated, "For the first time in my life I'm a singer — that's the producer's opinion, not mine."

Her final on-screen role was a guest appearance in a 1966 episode of The Virginian. In 1958, Castle acted with Jesse White in a stage production of 'A Hole in the Head' at the Civic Playhouse in Los Angeles. In 1960, Castle and Peter Brown (who also was a regular in Lawman) travelled to rodeos, performing as a song-and-dance team. Castle stressed, "We're very careful not to sing any romantic songs," treating the act more like a brother-sister team. The duo's stops included St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Albuquerque.

In 1960, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Castle was married four times. She married Revis T. Call, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army in 1945, in Los Angeles. Following that marriage, she began using Peggy Call as her professional name. They divorced in 1950. She married Universal publicist Robert H. Raines in 1951 and they divorced in 1954.

In 1955, Castle married producer and director William McGarry. They had a daughter, Erin McGarry. Castle divorced McGarry in 1969. In 1971, she married Arthur Morganstern, her fourth husband. They remained married until Morganstern's death in 1973. Castle suffered from alcoholism. In 1969, she attempted suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates and slashing her wrists. She was later committed to California's Camarillo State Hospital for her alcoholism, but she regressed after her release. In 1973, her third husband, William McGarry found her body on the couch of her Hollywood apartment. Her death was later determined to be caused by cirrhosis. She was only 45.

Peggie Castle
German collector's card by Druckerei Hanns Uhrig, Frankfurt a. M. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

Peggie Castle in The Long Wait (1954)
West-German card by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1486. Photo: United Artists. Peggie Castle in The Long Wait (Victor Saville, 1954).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

07 August 2022

Photo by Larry Shaw

Last week, EFSP did a post on famed photographer Sam Shaw. His son, Larry Shaw (1937-2007), followed in his father's footsteps as a special photographer for the cinema. One of his first assignments was the film Paris Blues (1960) and later, he would often work in France but also covered the films of John Cassavetes.

Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll in Paris Blues (1961)
Swiss-German-British postcard by New Productions, Baulmes and Stroud, and Filmwelt Berlin, Bakede, no. 56576, 1994. Photo: Larry Shaw. Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll in Paris Blues (Martin Ritt, 1961). Caprion: Bois de Boulogne, Paris, 1961.

Carroll Baker
Swiss-British postcard by News Productions, Baulmes / Stroud, no. 56737, 1996. Photo: Larry Shaw. Caption: Carroll Baker, New York City, 1960.

Elia Kazan on the set of Splendor in the Grass (1960)
Swiss-British postcard by News Productions, Baulmes and Stroud, no. 56760, 1996. Photo: Larry Shaw. Director Elia Kazan on the set of Splendor in the Grass (1960) in NYC, 1960.

Paris Blues

Larry Shaw was born in 1937 in New York City. As a teenager, Larry was an assistant to his father, Sam Shaw, and was an apprentice to several of Sam’s photographer colleagues. Larry worked as an assistant to Martin Muncasci, Louis Fauer and Bert Stern. Larry learned the elements of formal studio photography and classical lighting from these masters and the elements of photo reportage and special cinema coverage from his father.

His first independent assignment was a reportage on Strip Tease and Burlesque in New Orleans, 1958 for the premiere issue of Huntington Hartford’s Show Magazine. This was followed by a second story in Show Magazine on the Irish playwright Brendon Behan. In 1960, Larry was assigned the job of special photographer for advertising and publicity for the film Paris Blues (Martin Ritt, 1961) with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Sidney Poitier. His Paris Blues photographs were published in such magazines as Life, Ebony, Paris Match and other journals throughout Europe.

With the success of his first cinema reportage coverage, Larry followed in the footsteps of his father as a special photographer for motion pictures and had publications and photo essays for films such as Phaedra (Jules Dassin, 1962), The Comancheros (Michael Curtiz, 1961) starring John Wayne, Walk on the Wild Side (Edward Dmytryk, 1962) and Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963) starring Elizabeth Taylor. In France he covered Le Caporal épinglé/The Elusive Corporal (Jean Renoir, 1962) and Les parapluies de Cherbourg/The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Démy, 1964).

Larry obtained special coverage for the films of John Cassavetes, including Shadows (1958), Faces (1968), Husbands (1970), Gloria (1980) and Love Streams (1984). His other film assignments include The Visit (Bernhard Wicki, 1964) with Ingrid Bergman, Candy (Christian Marquand, 1968), Harlow (Gordon Douglas, 1964)), What's New Pussycat (Cliove Donner, 1965), The Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich, 1967) and Casino Royale (Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, 1967). His photo essays have appeared in Life, Look, Cosmopolitan, Stern, Bunte, Marie Claire, Vogue, Tempo, Cahier du Cinema, The New York Times, London Sunday Times, Playboy and many other magazines.

Larry Shaw did special coverage on the sisters Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorléac, on the first English supermodel Twiggy, and on Geraldine Chaplin, Mohammad Ali, Woody Allen, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Marcello Mastroianni, Carol Baker, Marianne Faithfull, Horst Buchholz, Cher, Juliette Gréco, Romy Schneider, Ursula Andress and Claudia Cardinale for publications in magazines and books.

Before Sam Shaw died, he filed a lawsuit against his son claiming that Larry stole thousands of photographs, including the most famous and lucrative, the Marilyn Monroe photos. Sam Shaw died before the lawsuit could be concluded; but it was settled posthumously by his daughters, Meta Shaw Stevens and Edith Shaw Marcus. The family struck a settlement in 2002 under which Shaw Family Archives was created to take ownership of the 500,000 photos in Sam Shaw’s possession as well as 20,000 photos Larry Shaw had. Larry Shaw died in 2007 at the age of 70. He was the father of Jakob Shaw.

Woody Allen
Swiss-German-British postcard by News Productions, Baulmes / Filmwelt Berlin, Bakede / News Productions, Stroud, no. 56570 Photo: Larry Shaw. Caption: Woody Allen at the Crazy Horse, Paris, 1965.

Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress at the set of What's New Pussycat (1965)
Swiss postcard by CVB Publishers / News Productions, no. 56961. Photo: Larry Shaw. Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress at the set of What's New Pussycat (Clive Donner, 1965).

John Cassavetes and John Huston
Swiss-British-German postcard by News Productions, Baulmes and Stroud / Filmwelt Berlin, Bakede, no. 56569, 1994. Photo: Larry Shaw. Caption: John Cassavetes and John Huston, Pinewood Studios, England, 1967.

Sources: Art-Loft, Allmand Law and IMDb.