15 August 2020

The eldest film stars in the world

Today my father has his 94th birthday. My old man survived cancer - twice -, heart failure and a grasshoppers storm when he was a young man at sea. Last May, he and my mom had their 65th wedding anniversary. They received dozens of letters, emails, video messages, and flowers. There were two letters in the name of the Dutch Royal family to congratulate the happy couple. For today's birthday post, Ivo Blom and Marlene Pilaete did some research on film stars who are even older than my father. Dad will be pleased that many of the stars in this post are beautiful women.

Renée Simonot
French postcard in the Nos artistes dans leur loges series, no. 25. Photo: Comoedia.

Renée Simonot was born as Renée-Jeanne Deneuve in Le Havre, France, on 10 September 1911. The French actress was married to actor Maurice Dorléac and is the mother of the actresses Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac, and grandmother of the actors Christian Vadim and Chiara Mastroianni. At the age of 7, Renée debuted at the Odeon Theatre in 1918. Primarily a stage actress, she remained there for 28 years, holding the post of 'leading lady'. Her daughter Catherine chose to use her maiden name, Deneuve, as her stage name. Simonot is Renée's stage name, which she took from an opera singer and family friend. Renée Simonot was one of the first French actresses to begin the dubbing of American films in France from the beginning of the talkies in 1929 through the 1930s. She was the voice of Olivia de Havilland in most of her films. She had her first daughter, Danielle, in 1936 with actor Aimé Clariond. While dubbing for MGM, she met Maurice Dorléac and they married in 1940. The couple had three daughters: Françoise (1942-1967), Catherine (1943), and Sylvie (1946). Simonot has been a widow since 1979 and lives in Paris at age 108.

Marsha Hunt
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. W105. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

American retired actress, model, and activist Marsha Hunt was born on 17 October 1917. She had a career spanning 73 years and appeared in many popular films including Pride and Prejudice (1940), Blossoms in the Dust (1942), Cry 'Havoc' (1943), The Human Comedy (1943), and Raw Deal (1948). She was blacklisted by Hollywood film studio executives in the 1950s during McCarthyism. In her later years, she has aided homeless shelters, supported same-sex marriage, raised awareness of climate change, and promoted peace in Third World countries.

Marge Champion
American vintage postcard. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

Marge Champion, born 2 September 1919, is an American dancer and actress. At 14, she was hired as a dance model for Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Later, Champion formed a highly successfully dancing team with her husband Gower Champion in many MGM musicals of the 1950s, and in their own TV series. She also became a well-known choreographer.

Marge Champion and Gower Champion
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D. 225. Photo: Paramount.

Paola Veneroni
Italian postcard by Rizzoli & C., Milano, 1941. Photo: Vaselli.

Italian actress Paola Veneroni was born in Milan on 15 January 1922. She debuted as the spying pupil in Vittorio De Sica's Maddalena, zero in condotta (1940), starring Carla Del Poggio. Although it was her first film part, she immediately made an impact. With Del Poggio and Nina Paoli she was the protagonist of Signorinette (Luigi Zampa, 1942), on three girls of 15-16 years old. After this film, she mostly played supporting parts. Veneroni stopped film acting at the end of the 1940s. In the later 1940s and early 1950s, she was also a voice actor for many American films. Veneroni also had a parallel career on the stage. She retired from acting after her marriage.

Micheline Presle
French postcard by Collection Chantal, Paris. no. 637. Photo: Discina, Paris.

French actress Micheline Presle, born on 22 August 1922, is well-known for films like Le diable au corps/Devil in the Flesh (Claude Autant-Lara, 1947), in which she plays the Red Cross nurse Martha who has an adulterous love affair with a young man (Gérard Philipe) during the First World War.

Janis Paige
Dutch postcard by Van Leer's Fotodrukindustrie N.V., Amsterdam, no. 1250. Photo: Warner Bros.

American film, musical theatre, and television actress Janis Paige was born on 16 September 1922 in Tacoma, Washington. She moved to Los Angeles after graduating from high school and was hired as a singer at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II. She began co-starring in low budget musicals and later co-starred in adventures and dramas. Stardom came in 1954 with her role as Babe in the Broadway musical 'The Pajama Game'. Paige returned to Hollywood in Silk Stockings (1957), and the Doris Day comedy Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960).

Rhonda Fleming
Italian postcard by Rotalcolor.

American film and television actress Rhonda Fleming was born on 10 August 1923 in Hollywood, Los Angeles. She acted in more than forty films, mostly in the 1940s and 1950s, and became renowned as one of the most beautiful and glamorous actresses of her day. She was nicknamed the 'Queen of Technicolor' because her fair complexion and flaming red hair photographed exceptionally well in Technicolor.

Glynis Johns
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 36. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Husky voiced Glynis Johns was born Glynis Margaret P. Johns, on 5 October 1923 in Pretoria, South Africa. Her roots are in West Wales, and she was born in Pretoria while her parents were performing on tour there. The stage and film actress, dancer, pianist, and singer is best known for her film roles as a mermaid in the British comedy Miranda (1948) and as suffragette mother Winifred Banks in Walt Disney's Mary Poppins (1964). On Broadway, she created the role of Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, for which she won a Tony Award.

Eva Marie Saint
French postcard by Editions P.I., offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane', no. 877. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Eva Marie Saint, born 4 July 1924, is an American actress with a career spanning 70 years. She is best known for starring in Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront (1954), for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959). She received Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for A Hatful of Rain (1957) and won a Primetime Emmy Award for the television miniseries People Like Us (1990).

June Lockhart
American postcard.

American actress June Lockhart was born on 25 June 1925. She is primarily known for her roles on television in the 1950s and 1960s television, but she also acted on stage and in films. Lockhart played mother roles in the TV series, Lassie (1958-1964) and Lost in Space (1965-1968), and also portrayed Dr. Janet Craig on the sitcom Petticoat Junction (1968–1970). She is a two-time Emmy Award nominee and a Tony Award winner.

Rosita Quintana in Serenata en México (1956)
German postcard by ISV, no. K 1. Photo: Deutsche Cimex / Jack Draper. Rosita Quintana in Serenata en México/Serenade in Mexico (Chano Urueta, 1956).

Argentine-Mexican actress, singer, and songwriter Rosita Quintana was born as Trinidad Quintana Nuñez de Kogan on 16 July 1925 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was one of the top stars of the Golden Age of the Mexican cinema. Quintana starred in Luis Buñuel's Susana (1951) and musical films such as Serenata en México (1956) and Cuando México canta (1958). As a singer, she is remembered in notable tangos and boleros, such as 'Bendita mentira'.

Arlene Dahl in Desert Legion (1953)
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 559. Photo: Universal International. Arlene Dahl in Desert Legion (Joseph Pevney, 1953).

Elegant American actress Arlene Dahl was born Arlene Carol Dahl in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 11 August 1925. She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The former MGM star achieved notability during the 1950s. She has three children, the eldest of whom is actor Lorenzo Lamas.

Angela Lansbury in The Red Danube (1949)
Belgian collectors card by Kwatta, Bois-D'Haine, no. C 238. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Red Danube (George Sidney, 1949).

Strawberry blonde and blue-eyed Angela Lansbury was born as Angela Brigid Lansbury in Regent Park, London on 16 October 1925. She began her career as a teenager in the American films Gaslight (1944) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). She was later known for her mother roles in films like The Manchurian Candidate (1962). In the 1980s, she obtained her greatest fame on TV as Jessica Fletcher in the mystery series Murder, She Wrote (1984).

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (1964)
French postcard by Les Presses de Belville, Paris, no. 103. Photo: Walt Disney Productions. Publicity still for Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964).

Dick Van Dyke was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke in West Plains, US, on 13 December 1925. He is best remembered for his roles in a series of successful TV series and for his parts in family films of the 1960s, including Bert the chimney-sweep in the classic Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964).

Jane Withers
British Real Photograph postcard, no. 122. Photo: Fox Films.

Jane Withers
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2909/1, 1939-1940. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

Jane Withers, born 12 April 1926, is an American actress, model, and singer. She is known for being one of the most popular child film stars of the 1930s and early 1940s. Jane Withers is still around and has the high age of 94 years old.

Happy 94, dad! We keep our fingers crossed that everybody in this post lives in good health.

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