There are few more illustrious stars in the history of Cinema than Audrey Hepburn, an actress known around the world for her talent and grace as much as for her charitable work. Involved with the Dutch Resistance during WWII when The Netherlands was occupied, the violence and evils she saw had a profound impact on her life and led her on a humanitarian path. Using her ballet training she picked up dancing credits in The West End after the year, which eventually led to minor roles in British films, though it wasn’t long before she won larger roles in Britain, Broadway, and finally Hollywood. Hepburn is one of a select few people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Bafta, Oscar, and Tony awards as well as picking up multiple further nominations, and until her death she continued to perform sporadically and gain critical acclaim, while also spending time on the charities and causes she held dear.
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Like any child of the 80s or 90s, John Candy was a big part of growing up and someone who always managed to make me laugh and leave a mark on movies. He was one of those performers who manages to make us question if he actually is dead – it still seems strange to me that he has been gone for so long given that his work still seems so fresh and timeless. Starting out on TV and movies in the early 70s, it wasn’t until his work with Canada’s Second City TV group, featuring a host of future stars, that he gained recognition. From there he went on to star in a host of shows and movies that defined comedy in the 70s and 80s before his untimely death, as well as appearing in several dramatic roles. Whether it be part of an ensemble in Stripes, The Blues Brothers, Spaceballs, or a leading role in Uncle Buck, Planes, Trains, And Automobiles, or Armed And Dangerous, Candy always had a wink and a smile, and an immense talent.
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Donald Pleasence began his acting career on stage before WWII, before joining the RAF and being shot down and taken into a POW camp. Continuing his Theatre work for the rest of his life, as well as appearing in several notable Television Shows in the UK and US, it is nevertheless his movie career which he is most remembered for. Appearing in many classic films over a wide array of genres, I, like many others, recall him most fondly in The Halloween Series, in You Only Live Twice, and in The Great Escape. Pleasance was also an author, and provided spoken voice work to books and most infamously, the terrifying UK Advert The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water.
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It’s easy to say that Nance had a tragic life and had much more to give, but in his 53 years he appeared in many successful and groundbreaking TV shows and movies, his performances never less than memorable, and he crafted a number of iconic, cult characters. As a big Twin Peaks fan, Nance made an impression as Pete Martell, one of the few true good guys in the series, but he will also be remembered for his roles in Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Colors.
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One of the most beloved actors of all time, Jimmy Stewart starred in some of the most popular movies of the 20th Century and many which continue to be re-watched and discovered today. Known for his gentle, calm demeanour which made him an icon in the eyes of friends, family, and fellow performers, he also had an incredible military career spanning almost thirty years and seeing him involved in both WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. The recipient of multiple military medals, he rose to the rank of Brigadier General while maintaining a Hollywood career which saw him earn an Oscar win and multiple nominations, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award. An acting pioneer which saw the likes of Marlon Brando imitating his style, his performances spanned seven decades and covered voice work, thrillers, comedies, dramas, and his own TV show. He is fondly remembered for films including Vertigo, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Philadelphia Story, Mr Smith Goes To Washington, and How The West Was Won. One assumes it was an honour to have known and/or worked with him, and one hopes that Hollywood can produce a few more like him in the future.
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Phil Hartman is remembered by many as the voice of many, having spent decades entertaining audiences through his biting, accurate impersonations and his recognizable voice acting work in countless hit movies and series. Hartman had a long and varied career, starting out by designing album artwork in the seventies before becoming a performing comedian and writer, and eventually creating the character Pee Wee Herman (alongside Paul Reubens). For years Hartman was an integral part of Saturday Night Live where he wrote scripts, improvised scenes, and unleashed a torrent of impressions which saw him land a recurring spot on The Simpsons – you may remember him from characters such as Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure, and that guy in the background who said something funny that one time.
Hartman’s legacy lives on, as re-runs of the many shows he worked on continue to delight new fans, and as comedians and actors around the world look to his work for guidance, inspiration, and laughs.
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Desmond Llewelyn had an extraordinary life, deserving of any biopic or biography – born in a Welsh Mining family and eventually breaking into acting before joining the Army during WWII where he was captured and held as a POW for five years. Most will know him for his iconic performances as Q in the James Bond series, appearing in 17 films in the series from 1963 to 1999. Outside of his work as Q, Llewelyn appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Lavender Hill Mob, and Follyfoot. All Bond fans love Llewelyn for his memorable performances and recognise him as an integral part of the series history and importance, and his passing has left a hole which may never be filled.
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