Category: Oscar Profile

Oscar Profile #470: Haley Joel Osment

Born April 10, 1988 in Los Angeles, California, Haley Joel Osment is the son of teacher Theresa and actor Eugene Osment. He was signed with a talent agent at the age of four. At an audition, he was asked to describe the biggest thing he had ever seen; his description of an IMAX theater screen led to his winning a part in a Pizza Hut TV commercial from which his career took off.
Osment’s first on-screen appearance was in the 1994 TV movie, Lies of the Heart: The Story of Laurie Kellogg followed by his big screen portrayal of Tom Hanks’ son in Forrest Gump for which he received world-wide notice. After several minor roles, he had regular roles in the TV series Thunder Alley (1994-1995), The Jeff Foxworthy Show (1995-1997) and Murphy Brown (1997-1998). His performance as the boy who could see dead people in the 1998 megahit The Sixth Sense co-starring Bruce Willis and Toni Collette made him one of the most popular child actors of his day earning him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Cast in numerous films following his Oscar nomination, he was seen in major roles in numerous other films including 2000’s Pay It Forward with Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt for which he won a Blockbuster award, 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence with Jude Law and Frances O’Connor for which he won a Saturn award, 2001’s Edges of the Lord with Willem Dafoe and Liam Hess and 2003’s Secondhand Lions with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall for which he won a Critics’ Choice award.

Osment provided voiceovers for numerous videos including Chip in 1997’s Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Zephyr in 2002’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame II for which he was nominated for a Young Artists award and Mowgli in 2003’s The Jungle Book 2 for which he was again nominated for a Young Artists award.

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Oscar Profile #469: James Cromwell

Born January 27, 1940 in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Manhattan, New York, James Cromwell is the son of actress Kay Johnson (Madam Satan) and actor-director John Cromwell (Since You Went Away). His parents divorced in 1946 the year the senior Cromwell married actress Ruth Nelson (Wilson).

The younger Cromwell studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon and like his parents and stepmother, went into the theatre appearing in everything from Shakespeare to experimental plays. He made his TV debut in 1974 in an episode of The Rockford Files and that same year appeared in three episodes of All in the Family as Archie Bunker’s friend, Stretch Cunningham. He made his feature film debut in 1976’s Murder by Death, the year he married first wife Anne Ulvestad with whom he had three children before divorcing in 1986. That same year he married Julie Cobb, the actress daughter of actor Lee J. Cobb.

A familiar face on both TV shows and films, Cromwell become a name player with his Oscar nominated performance in 1995’s Babe. Subsequent films of the 1990s included The People vs, Larry Flynt, L.A. Confidential for which he was nominated for a SAG award as member of the ensemble, Babe: Pig in the City, The General’s Daughter, Snow Falling on Cedars and The Green Mile for which he was once again nominated for a SAG award as a member of the ensemble.

Cromwell continued to alternate between TV and film and played his first famous person in the 1999 TV movie RKO 281 in which he received an Emmy nomination as William Randolph Hearst in the film about the making of Citizen Kane. He later played Lynden Johnson in the 2002 TV movie RFK. Still later, he later played England’s Prince Philip on the big screen in 2007’s The Queen and the following year played George H.W. Bush in W.

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Oscar Profile #468: Dorothy Malone

Born January 29, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois, Mary Dorothy Maloney was one of five children born to an AT&T auditor and his wife. When she was six months old, the family moved to Dallas, Texas where she grew up, her two older sisters dying of complications from polio.

Intent on becoming a nurse, Maloney minored in drama at Southern Methodist University where she was discovered by a talent agent and signed by RKO at 18 as Dorothy Maloney. The attractive brunette made her film debut in an unbilled part in 1943’s Gildersleeve on Broadway and appeared in a number of minor roles until RKO dropped her contract in 1945. Migrating to Warner Bros. as Dorothy Malone, she began to be noticed in such films as Night and Day and The Big Sleep. Despite her minor success at Warner’s, the studio dropped her in 1949.

Working as insurance secretary back home in Dallas, Malone on a business trip to New York, decided to stay and return to acting by studying with the American Theatre Wing and finding occasional roles on television. Back on screen as a brunette, her career took a turn for the better when she turned platinum blonde to play Doris Day’s sister in 1954’s Young at Heart, followed by a sensational turn in 1955’s Battle Cry in which she was once again brunette. She went blonde again for 1956’s Written on the Wind which won her the 1957 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, an award she dedicated to a brother who had recently died from a lightning strike while golfing in Dallas.

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Oscar Profile #467: Olympia Dukakis

Born June 20, 1931 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Olympia Dukakis is the daughter of Greek immigrants. She is a first cousin of 1988 Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis (born 1933).

Dukakis majored in physical therapy at Boston University, graduating with a BA. She practiced as a therapist during the polio epidemic, later returning to Boston University where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Primarily known as a theatre actress and director prior to exploding into the international consciousness with her Oscar-winning performance in 1987’s Moonstruck, Dukakis has had a long career in television as well theatre and film, having made her TV debut in 1951 in Search for Tomorrow. She gave strong performances in 1962 episodes of The Nurses and Dr. Kildare, the same year she married her husband, actor Louis Zorich with whom she had three children and to whom she would remain married until his death in 2018.

Dukakis made her Broadway debut as understudy to three other actresses in 1962’s The Aspern Papers. The following year she won an Obie for her performance in Off-Broadway’s A Man’s a Man.

Among the actress’s early film appearances were those in 1964’s Lilith, 1969’s John and Mary, 1970’s Made for Each Other, 1972’s Sisters, 1974’s Death Wish, 1979’s Rich Kids and 1980’s The Idolmaker. After winning her Oscar, Dukakis appeared in a minor role in 1988’s Working Girl after which all her roles were major ones.

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Oscar Profile #466: Robert Forster

Born July 13, 1941 in Rochester, New York, Robert Forster was the son of an animal trainer for the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, wo later became an executive for a banking supply company, and his wife. His parents divorced in 1949.

Forster first became interested in acting while performing in school plays in his local high school. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Rochester University in 1964. He made his Broadway debut opposite Arlene Francis in 1965’s Mrs. Dally Has a Lover and his film debut in John Huston’s 1967 film, Reflections in a Golden Eye with Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor, in-between which he married first wife June with whom he would have three daughters. He also had a son born from a previous relationship in 1965.

After major supporting roles in Robert Mulligan’s 1968 film, The Stalking Moon with Gregory Peck and Eva Marie Saint and George Cukor’s 1969 film, Justine with Anouk Aimée and Dirk Bogarde, he was given the starring role in Haskell Wexler’s 1969 film, Medium Cool opposite Verna Bloom.

With starring roles in two 1970 films, Pieces of Dreams opposite Lauren Hutton and Cover Me Babe opposite Sondra Locke, Forster seemed to have a lucrative scree career ahead of him, but neither film was a major success and he next found himself playing the title role in the 1971-73 TV detective series, Banyon with Joan Blondell and Richard Jaeckel in principal support. In 1974, he had the title role in a second TV series, Nakia and from 1975-77 he was prominently featured in the Police Story anthology series.

Having been divorced from his first wife in 1975, Forster married second wife Zivia in 1978 from whom he would become divorced in 1980.

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Oscar Profile #465: Alexander Knox

Born January 16, 1907 in Ontario, Canada to a Presbyterian minister and his wife, Alexander Knox was educated at the University of Western Ontario where he studied English literature and also dabbled in acting, his first stage role being in the title role of a university production of Hamlet. Upon graduation in 1929, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts where he worked as a journalist for the Boston Post while simultaneously pursuing a career in acting. After the stock market crash, he returned to Ontario where he worked as a journalist for the London Advertiser. A year later he moved to London, England where he met producer Tyrone Guthrie who put him on the stage at the Old Vic where he appeared in plays with his contemporaries, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier.

Knox made his film debut in an uncredited role in 1931’s The Ringer. Subsequent British films included the classics, Rembrandt and The Four Feathers in which he had minor roles. Returning to the States, he made his Broadway debut as Friar Lawrence in Olivier’s 1940 production of Romeo and Juliet in support of Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Later that year, he starred opposite Jessica Tandy in A.J. Cronin’s Jupiter Laughs.

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Oscar Profile #464: Joseph Schildkraut

Born March 22, 1896 in Vienna, Austria, Joseph Schildkraut was the son of famed stage actor Rudolph Schildkraut and his wife. On stage in Hamburg and later, Berlin with his father from the age of 6, he studied the piano and violin, graduating from Berlin’s Royal Academy of Music in 1911. The family moved to New York in 1912, where Rudolph was a star in the Yiddish theatre and Joseph was enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. The family then returned to Europe where Joseph became a star under the guidance of mentor, of Albert Bassemann (Foreign Correspondent). He made his film debut in German films in 1915.

Returning to the States in 1920, Joseph became a Broadway star opposite Eve Le Gallienne in the title role of Liliom in 1921, the play that was later the basis for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel. That same year he made his Hollywood debut opposite Lillian and Dorothy Gish in D.W. Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm. He married his first wife, actress Elise Bartlett in 1922. He then starred opposite Lillian Tashman in 1923’s The Song of Love,

Alternating between theatre and film with ease, Joseph was acclaimed for his portrayal of Judas Iscariot in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 epic, The King of Kings in which his father played Caiaphas, the High Priest of Israel. Rudolph Schildkraut, who died in 1930 at the age of 68, had his biggest screen role as the star of 1928’s A Ship Comes In for which his co-star Louise Dresser was one of the first Academy Award nominees for Best Actress. Joseph had his biggest role to date as the star of 1929’s Show Boat opposite Laura La Plante.

Schildkraut divorced Bartlett in 1930 and married second wife Lillian McKay in 1932. They would remain married until her death in 1962.

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Oscar Profile #463: The Early Academy Awards

The first Academy Awards for the fiscal year 1927/28 were held in May 1929. Films under consideration were supposed to be limited to films that opened in Los Angeles between August 1, 1927 and July 31, 1928 but the Academy’s reminder list included films that although they were still in theatres on August 1, 1927, had opened earlier. Among those films were Stella Dallas and The Gold Rush from 1925, Beau Geste from 1926 and Metropolis, The General and Seventh Heaven from earlier in 1927. By the time of the awards, they still hadn’t gotten it right. Seventh Heaven earned Frank Borzage the first of his two Oscars for Best Director and was one of the three films for which Janet Gaynor received the first Best Actress award.

The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927, was excluded from consideration because Academy judges felt that nominating the first partial talkie against all those silent films would give it an unfair advantage. It was given a special award instead. Charlie Chaplin was nominated for Best Actor, Best Comedy Direction and Best Original Story, but his nominations were withdrawn and he, too, was given a special award.

The second Academy Awards for the fiscal year 1928/29 held in November 1929 were supposed to be for films that opened in Los Angeles between August 1, 1928 and July 31, 1929 but alas, there were anomalies that still weren’t quite worked out. Among the films under consideration was Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. which had opened in the Spring of 1928. Street Angel, which had also been released in the Spring of 1929 and like Seventh Heaven was one of three films, along with Sunrise, for which Janet Gaynor had received the first award for Best Actress, was one of the six films up for Best Cinematography.

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Oscar Profile #462: Philip Dunne

Born February 11, 1908, Philip Ives Dunne was the son of syndicated columnist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne and champion golfer Margaret Ives Abbott Dunne who had been the first ever female gold medalist at the 1900 Olympics when golf was an Olympic sport. Her mother was novelist Mary Ives Abbott.

Both Dunne and his older brother, Finley Peter Dunne, Jr. followed the family tradition and became writers. Both went to Hollywood, but Philip was by far the more successful. His first credited screenplay was 1934’s The Count of Monte Cristo. Other early works included 1935’s Magnificent Obsession and 1936’s The Last of the Mohicans after which he went to work for 20th Century-Fox where he remained for the next 35 years.

Having been one of the co-founders of the Screen Writers Guild, he served as Vice President of its successor, the Writers Guild of America from 1938 to1940. His films during this period included Suez, Stanley and Livingstone and The Rains Came. In 1939 he married actress Amanda Duff with whom he had three children and would remain married to for the rest of his life.

Oscar nominated for his screenplay for the 1941 Oscar winner, How Green Was My Valley, Dunne served on the Academy’s Board of Director from 1946-1948 after four years of war service. In 1947 he co-founded the Committee for the First Amendment (HUAC) with John Huston and William Wyler in protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although he worked with many actors, writers and directors who would be called before HUAC, including Dalton Trumbo on whose behalf he testified, he himself was never accused of being a Communist.

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Oscar Profile #461: Don Murray

Born July 31, 1929 in Hollywood, California, Don Murray was the son of Broradway dance director and stage manager, Dennis Murray and his wife Ethel, a former Ziegfeld Follies dancer,

Raised in the New York City suburbs, Murray graduated from East Rockaway High School in 1947 and then studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Soon after graduating in 1951, he made his Broadway debut as the sailor in The Rose Tattoo. He made his film debut in 1956’s Bus Stop opposite Marilyn Monroe, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He married his young co-star from that film, Hope Lange, that same year. Lange would receive an Oscar nomination of her own the following year for Peyton Place.

Eminently successful right off the bat, Murray had the starring roles in two highly successful 1957 films, The Bachelor Party for which Carolyn Jones received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and A Hatful of Rain for which Anthony Franciosa, third billed behind Eva Marie Sant and Murray received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He was then seen in 1958’s From Hell to Texas opposite Diane Varsi, 1959’s These Thousand Hills co-starring Richard Egan, Lee Remick, Patricia Owens and Stuart Whitman, and the same year’s Shake Hands with the Devil co-starring James Cagney, Dana Wynter and Glynis Johns.

Murray was divorced from Lange, with whom he had two children, in 1961. He married second wife Bettie Johnson in 1962, with whom he would eventually have three children. Lange would marry her second husband, producer-director Alan J. Pakula in 1963.

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Oscar Profile #460: Kirk Douglas

Born December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, Issur Danielovitch Demsky was the son of Russian emigrants who legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas in 1941 before serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

Douglas’ father was the local ragman. He grew up in abject poverty with his six sisters. He would sell snacks to local mill workers to earn enough money to buy milk and bread for the family. Having caught the acting bug at age 6, he later earned a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where his classmates included Betty Perske (who later changed her name to Lauren Bacall) and Diana Dill, whom he married in 1943. Initially a stage actor, he made his film debut opposite Barbara Stanwyck in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers in 1946 based on a recommendation from Bacall.

Fourth billed behind Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Lizabeth Scott in his first film, Douglas played major supporting roles in 1947’s Mourning Becomes Electra, Out of the Past and I Walk Alone, achieving major stardom in 1949’s A Letter from Three Wives and Champion, earning an Oscar nomination for the latter.

Douglas and first wife Diana, the mother of his two oldest sons, divorced in 1951. He married second wife Anne in 1954 with whom he had his third and fourth sons. For two decades, from 1951 through 1970 he was consistently one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. His hits included 1951’s Ace in the Hole and Detective Story, 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful for which he received his second Oscar nomination, 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1955’s Man Without a Star and The Indian Fighter, 1956’s Lust for Life for which he received his third Oscar nomination, 1957’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Paths of Glory, 1958’s The Vikings, 1959’s The Devil’s Disciple, 1960’s Spartacus, 1961’s Town Without Pity, 1962’s Lonely Are the Brave, 1963’s The List of Adrian Messenger, 1964’s Seven Days in May, 1965’s In Harm’s Way, 1966’s Cast a Giant Shadow, 1967’s The War Wagon, 1968’s The Brotherhood, 1969’s The Arrangement and 1970’s There Was a Crooked Man.

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Oscar Profile #459: Shirley Knight

Born July 5, 1936 in Goessel, Kansas, Shirley Knight was the daughter of an oil executive and his wife. At the age of 14, she wrote a short story which was published in a national magazine. She later attended Phillips University and Wichita State University and trained in acting with Erwin Piscator, Lee Strasberg, and Uta Hagen. She is a life member of the Actors Studio.

Knight made her TV debut in an episode of the series Playbill in 1955 and her film debut later that year in an uncredited role in Picnic. She had a starring role in the 1958 TV series, Buckskin and her first credited screen role as a nun in 1959’s Five Gates to Hell. She married first husband, actor Gene Persson, that year.

The actress started out 1960 playing Richard Burton’s granddaughter in the film version of Edna Ferber’s Ice Palace, later appearing in numerous TV shows and rounding out the year co-starring in Delbert Mann’s film of William Inge’s The Dark at the Top of the Stairs emerging as the only Oscar nominee from the film’s legendary cast.

More TV and two more films in 1962 including Richard Brooks’ film version of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth brought Knight her second Oscar nomination. More TV work and the 1964 film Flight from Ashiya led to two films again in 1966, Sidney Lumet’s all-star cast film, The Group and Anthony Harvey’s Dutchman which was co-produced by Knight and her husband. She won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival for the latter.

Knight was to make just three more films in the 1960s including Richard Lester’s Peulia and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People. She divorced Persson and married playwright John Hopkins in 1969 with whom she would have her second child. Hopkins would also adopt her daughter with Persson, the future actress Kaitlin Hopkins.

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Oscar Profile #458: Michael Redgrave

Born March 20, 1908 in Bristol, England, Michael Redgrave was the son of actors Roy Redgrave and Margaret Scudamore, the first generation of the Redgrave acting dynasty. The elder Redgrave, who had been a star in silent films, left his wife and child behind to pursue acting opportunities in Australia when Michael was two. He died when he was fourteen and his mother subsequently remarried.

The younger Redgrave made his acting debut in a 1934 production of Counselor-at-Law in Liverpool. He spent two years with the Liverpool Repertory Company where he met wife Rachel Kempson. They were married in 1935 and subsequently had three children, future acting legends Corin, Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave.

Redgrave made his London debut in Love’s Labour Lost at the Old Vic in 1936. He made his TV debut in a 1937 BBC production of Romeo and Juliet. He made his film debut top-billed opposite Margaret Lockwood in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 classic, The Lady Vanishes.

The young thespian continued to flourish on the British stage where he was considered one of the acting giants of the era along with such other luminaries as Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud, Edith Evans and Peggy Ashcroft.

Redgrave’s films from 1940 through 1946, prestigious productions all, included Carol Reed’s 1940 film of A.J. Cronin’s The Stars Look Down; Reed’s 1941 film of H.G. Wells’ Kipps; Roy Boulting’s 1942 fantasy film, Thunder Rock; the classic 1945 horror film. Dead of Night and Basil Dearden’s 1946 prisoner-of-war drama, The Captive Heart. A trip to Hollywood to film Dudley Nichols’ 1947 film of Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra resulting in an Oscar nomination. That same year he filmed Fritz Lang’s The Secret Beyond the Door opposite Joan Bennett before he returned to England.

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Oscar Profile #457 – Richard Burton

Born November 10, 1925 in Pontrhydyfen, Wales to Welsh speaking parents, Richard Walker Jenkins, Jr. was the twelfth of thirteen children. His mother died shortly after giving birth to his younger brother when Richard was just two years old. His father, a coal miner soon abandoned the family and he was raised by his older sister, Cecilia. An avid fan of Shakespeare, poetry and reading, he once said “home is where the books are”. He received a scholarship to Oxford University to study acting where he was mentored by his teacher, Philip Burton, who made the young actor his ward.

Having legally changed his name to Richard Burton, the young actor made his stage debut in 1944 and his film debut in 1949 in Woman of Dolwyn third billed behind Edith Evans and Emlyn Williams, the year he married first wife Sybil Williams. His first Hollywood film was 1952’s My Cousin Rachel opposite Olivia de Havilland for which he received the first of his seven Oscar nominations. The following year he received his second nomination for The Robe in which he starred opposite Jean Simmons. Other successes followed including 1955’s Prince of Players as Edwin Booth and The Rains of Ranchipur opposite Lana Turner, 1956’s Alexander the Great in the title role supported by Fredric March and Claire Bloom and 1957’s The Sea Wife opposite Joan Collins.

In 1959, Burton starred in the first British kitchen sink drama, Look Back in Anger opposite Bloom and Mary Ure and in 1960 starred in Broadway’s Camelot opposite Julie Andrews for which he won a Tony. In 1962, he was part of the ensemble cast of The Longest Day and in 1963 starred in both Cleopatra and The V.I.P.s opposite Elizabeth Taylor with whom he had a widely publicized affair during the making of Cleopatra. He would divorce his first wife in 1963 and marry her in 1964. 1964 was also the year that he starred in both Becket opposite Peter O’Toole and The Night of the Iguana opposite Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr, earning his third Oscar nomination for Becket.

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Oscar Profile #456: Robert Siodmak

Born August 8, 1900 in Dresden, Germany, Robert Siodmak was one of four sons of a Jewish family from Leipzig. He worked as a stage director and banker before becoming editor scenarist for director Curtis Bernhardt in 1925. The following year he was hired by his cousin, producer Seymour Nebenzal to assemble original silent movies from stock footage of old films. In 1929, he persuaded Nebanzal to finance his first film, People on Sunday, featuring a script by his brother Curt and Billy Wilder. Released in 1930, it would be Germany’s last silent film.

Siodmak directed several early German talkies before fleeing to Paris with the rise of Hitler in 1933. There he directed a number of films including the 1933 comedy, The Weaker Sex, the 1936 French-English musical, Parisian Life and the 1939 thriller, Personal Column starring Maurice Chevalier and Erich von Stroheim later remade in Hollywood by Douglas Sirk as 1947’s Lured.

Emigrating to the U.S. in 1939, Siodmak’s first American film under contract to Universal was 1941’s West Point Widow. That and several subsequent films were not up to the levels he had achieved in its earlier work, but in 1943 critics took notice of his direction of Son of Dracula from a script by his brother Curt. He followed that with 1944’s Phantom Lady, his first film noir which established him as a master of the genre. Working with A-list stars once again, he directed in quick succession, Denna Durbin and Gene Kelly in Christmas Holiday, Charles Laughton in The Suspect and George Sanders and Geraldine Fitzgerald in The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry.

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