Burt Lancaster was simply one of the best actors to ever step on a movie set. From his very first film, The Killers, in 1946, to Vengeance Valley, Jim Thorpe-All American, The Crimson Pirate and he was on his way. His list of box office films, reads like a who's who in Hollywood. Seven Days In May, Birdman Of Alcatraz, From Here To Eternity, Judgement At Nuremberg, Scorpio and his Best Actor, Oscar winning perfomance in Elmer Gantry. Along the way, he made some of the best westerns, ever put to film, including Vera Cruz, The Kentuckian, The Unforgiven, Gunfight At The O.K. Corral, The Professionals, Lawman, Valdez Is Coming, The Scalphunters and Ulzana's Raid. I recently watched a tribute to Lancaster by director John Frankenheimer, who directed Lancaster in several of the above films, including one of my favorites, The Train. He said Lancaster was one of the most "professional" actors he ever met. When they were filming The Train, Lancaster ( who, because of his athletic training learned in the circus, in his early days, liked to do many of his own stunts) had to slide down a ladder, chase and board a moving locomotive. He said Lancaster did it in ONE take. Lancaster appeared in 7 films with Kirk Douglas. Although the publicity papers made it appear the two stars were great friends, they actually felt disdain for each other. Lancaster, who was a good 3 inches taller than Douglas, liked to tell a story about hiding Douglas' "lifts" just before the "the big two" shot in the film. He said that Douglas was so pi--ed!! As great as Lancaster's resume was, he never quit, he lobbied for Marlon Brando's roles in A Streetcar Named Desire and Brandon's role in The Godfather, but he turned down Charlton Heston's role in Ben-Hur and George.C.Scott's role in Patton. When John Wayne asked him about doing a film together, Lancaster laughed it off, due to their different political stances. My 2 personal favorites are, Vera Cruz and Elmer Gantry, simply because he showed that same facet of his personality in both. That laughing, devil may care attitude, that unmistakable laugh, and those extraordinary good looks. In anybody's list of the top ten actors ever, Lancaster has to be right up there!!
Warren Stevens was an Army Air Force Pilot during WW II and began acting in 1948. From 1948-2007, Stevens was one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. I guess I first saw Stevens in the classic 1956 film, Forbidden Planet as the "Doc". In that same year, he took on the role of .Lt William Storm in the t.v. series, Tales Of The 77Th Bengal Lancers. He appeared in The Man From Bitter Ridge and with Audie Murphy in No Name On The Bullet and then for the next 50 years, he dedicated his career almost exclusively to t.v. series. He appeared on all the westerns, like laramie, Wagon Train, The Loner, A Man Called Shenandoah, Big Valley, High Chaparral and The Virginian, usually as a gang leader or a crooked banker or rancher. He also appeared in other action. adventure, suspense series, like The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Honey West, Mannix, Ironside, Mash and too many more to list. One of his last appearances was in the 2004, made for t.v. western, The Trail To Hope Rose. Warren Stevens just left us in March of this year. He lived to the ripe ole age of 92.
Thanks for all the great memories, pards!!