Monday, September 11, 2023

So many interesting turns of fate in this woman's life.


Via Gene Kelly The Legacy: So often we’re intent on looking at the principals in Gene’s films, that we we don’t learn about the major figures playing alongside them. Take On the Town for example. The woman in the center of this photo, playing Vera-Ellen’s dance teacher, is the great character actress Florence Bates. Born Florence Rabe in San Antonio, Texas in 1888, Bates got a degree in mathematics from the University of Texas in 1906 and then, after passing her bar exam in 1914, became the first woman lawyer in the state of Texas at the age of 26, and went on to practice law for four years in San Antonio. Bates eventually married Texas oilman William Jacoby. When he went bankrupt, they moved to California in the late 1930s and became the owners of a bakery. Interested in acting, Florence auditioned for the role of “Miss Bates” in the Pasadena Playhouse production of Jane Austen’s Emma. She became popular with the company and changed her name to “Florence Bates.” She tested for Alfred Hitchcock who cast her as Mrs. Edythe Van Hopper in Rebecca (1940) and that led to a string of notable film performances. She died in Burbank in 1954. Also in this photo, you see the uncredited bartender played by Peter Chong. Born John Kohnie Kuh, Chong began is acting career on Broadway and then moved to film. Though he was cast in several servile manservant roles, he also had significant parts in Jimmy Cagney’s Tribute to a Bad Man (1956) and with Ingrid Bergman in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958). He died in 1985 at the age of 86. I realize it is easy to glance at Gene when he is on the screen, but next time you screen one of his movies, glance at the people around him, too!

1 comment:

mrpeenee said...

I wish I could have stuffed Gene Kelley's ass when it was young and firm. Dancers have such beutiful butts.