August 20, 2008

Actors that are not only still alive, but have been consistenly working since their heyday

It's always sad when a prominent and/or talented star either retires, fades into obscurity, or dies. Sometimes after the former two happen, the star in question will make a comeback, for better or worse (looking at you, Jane Fonda...seriously, Monster-in-Law was worth coming out of retirement?). But there are also curious cases where not only is a star still working, but they never stopped - although simultaneously fading out of the collective consciousness. Here's a sampling of some such actors, whom you might have even assumed to be deceased or retired, but have been slaving away in showbiz all these years (with varying degrees of success).

1. Faye Dunaway
Poor Faye. She was a go-to girl in the late 60s and the 70s for playing complex and sophisticated women, winning an Oscar for her devilish role in Network (1976) and earning nominations for her roles in the classics Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Chinatown (1974).

And then?

Lots of TV movies and TV guest appearances. Dunston Checks In in 1996, where she costarred with a monkey. Independent movies where she is billed near the bottom.

Lowest point: Cougar Club (2007).We're not talking about wildcats here....

2. Eli Wallach
Making his film debut in Elia Kazan's Baby Doll in 1956, Wallach is best known for his menacing turns in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), but kept busy with juicy roles through the 1970s. He is also a Tony-winning stage actor.

And then?

TV appearances ("Whoopi"??), voiceover work, an uncredited bit part in Mystic River (is that cool or sad?), and headlining several independent films about Italians. At least he's managed to maintain lead or high billing all these years, but that doesn't really matter if no one sees the movie, huh? He shows no signs of slowing down despite being 93 YEARS OLD.

Lowest point: Two Much (1996). Right from the punny title, you know it's comedy genius...

3. Mickey Rooney
Best known as a child star, Rooney of one of the major musical stars in MGM's stable in the 1930s. He made 15 films as his Andy Hardy character, costarring often with Judy Garland, and countless shorts as his Mickey McGuire character. He received four Oscar nominations, and a special "juvenile" Academy Award in 1939.

And then?

He did receive one of his Oscar nominations in 1979 for The Black Stallion, an impressive four or five decades past his heyday. But he never stopped - there were TV movies, endless appearances as a grandfather figure, voice work, and bad, bad movies.

Lowest point: The year 1998. How about Sinbad: The Battle of the Dark Knights (1998), with its stunning 1.6 star rating on IMDB? Or how about Babe: Pig in the City (also 1998), where he is credited as "Fugly Floom, The Speechless Man in Hotel"?

4. Kevin McCarthy
Best known for his role as the lead in the 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, McCarthy also had a Golden Globe-winning turn as Biff Loman in 1951's Death of a Salesman. He also made an appearance on practically every TV show of the 50s and 60s.

And then?

Even though he acted highbrow fare like the 1966 adaptation of Chekhov's The Three Sisters, McCarthy hasn't lost touch with schlock. He played "fire department rescuer" in the campy Mommy (1995) and despite his ripe old age of 94 he has a film coming out called The Ghastly Love of Johnny X (tagline:
" They Sing! They Dance! They're Teenagers from Outer Space!"). He also played Dr. Bennell in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), a groan-inducing nod to his character's name in Invasion.

Lowest point: Trail of the Screaming Foreheads. Yes. This exists.

5. Lauren Bacall
A husky-voiced screen siren of the 1940s, Bacall made her smoldering debut in To Have and Have Not (1944), playing opposite future husband Humphrey Bogart (they fell in love during filming). They made three more films together, and Bacall moved on to other such films as How To Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

And then?

She actually received an Oscar nomination in 1996 for The Mirror Has Two Faces. Through the turn of the millennium, she's been in about one movie a year, often with fairly high billing. You go, girl.

Lowest point: none, really. I mainly included her on this list because she is often thought to be dead. Even if she did star in some movies that weren't amazing, there was no Trail of the Screaming Foreheads equivalent.

Any surprises here? Who else fits this description?


Anonymous said...

Trail of the Screaming Forehead is one of Larry Blamire's parodies of b-movies. (He wrote, directed, and starred in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, which was absolutely hysterical.)
I certainly wouldn't count appearing in this film against anyone's filmography.

Anonymous said...

I thought B movies were ALREADY parodies.