Day in History 2 February – Boris Karloff – Gene Kelly – Philip Seymour Hoffman

Borris_Karloff_stillOn this day in 1969, actor Boris Karloff died after a long battle with arthritis and emphysema, he contracted pneumonia, succumbing to it in King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, Sussex at age 81.  Born William Henry Pratt at 36 Forest Hill Road, Honor Oak, London on 23 November 1887.  Karloff is perhaps best remembered for his roles in horror films and especially for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939), which resulted in his immense popularity.  His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966).  He also had a memorable role in the original Scarface (1932).  For his contribution to film and television, Boris Karloff was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Karloff married five times: Grace Harding (1910-1913, divorce), Montana Laurena Williams (1920, divorce), Helene Vivian Soule (1924-1928, divorce), Dorothy Stine (1928-1946, divorce) and Evelyn Hope Helmore (1946-1969, his death).  The Final Footprint –  Karloff was cremated, following a requested low-key service, at Guildford Crematorium, Godalming, Surrey, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance.  A memorial service was held at St Paul’s, Covent Garden (the Actors’ Church), London, where there is also a plaque.

genekellygOn this day in 1996, dancer, Academy Award nominated actor, singer, film director and producer, and choreographer, Gene Kelly, died at his home in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 83.  Born Eugene Curran Kelly on 23 August 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks, style and the likeable characters that he played on screen in movie classics including, Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris.  Kelly graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Economics and enrolled in law school at Pitt but dropped out later to pursue his career in entertainment.  His Oscar nomination came from his role in Anchors Away, co-starring with Frank Sinatra.  Kelly was married three times Betsy Blair (1941 – 1957 divorce), Jeanne Coyne (1960 – 1973 her death), Patricia Ward (1990 – 1996 his death).  The Final Footprint – Kelly was cremated at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary (a Dignity Memorial® provider) and his cremains were given to his family.  He left instructions that there was to be no funeral or memorial service. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman 2011.jpg

Hoffman at the Paris premiere of
The Ides of March in October 2011

On this day in 2014, actor, director and producer Philip Seymour Hoffman died from an accidental drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment at the age of 46. Born July 23, 1967 in Fairport, New York. Perhaps best known for his distinctive supporting and character roles.

Drawn to theater as a teenager, Hoffman studied acting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He gained recognition for his supporting work, notably in Boogie Nights (1997), Happiness (1998), Patch Adams (1998), The Big Lebowski (1998), Magnolia (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), and Along Came Polly (2004). His portrayal of the author Truman Capote in Capote (2005), won multiple accolades including the Academy Award for Best Actor. Hoffman’s profile continued to grow, and he received three more Oscar nominations for his supporting work as a brutally frank CIA officer in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), a priest accused of pedophilia in Doubt (2008), and the charismatic leader of a Scientology-type movement in The Master(2012).

While he mainly worked in independent films, including The Savages (2007) and Synecdoche, New York (2008), Hoffman also appeared in Hollywood blockbusters, such as Twister (1996) and Mission: Impossible III (2006), and in one of his final roles, as Plutarch Heavensbee in the Hunger Games series (2013–15). The feature Jack Goes Boating (2010) marked his debut as a filmmaker. Hoffman was also an accomplished theater actor and director. He joined the off-Broadway LAByrinth Theater Company in 1995, where he directed, produced, and appeared in numerous stage productions. His performances in three Broadway plays – True West in 2000, Long Day’s Journey into Night in 2003, and Death of a Salesman in 2012 – all led to Tony Award nominations.

Hoffman at Cannes in 2002 promoting Punch-Drunk Love

Hoffman at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009, where he was nominated for Doubt

Hoffman at the Moneyball premiere in September 2011

Hoffman, Anton Corbijn and Grigoriy Dobrygin promoting A Most Wanted Man at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2014, less than two weeks before his death

Hoffman at a Hudson Union Society event in September 2010

For the last 14 years of his life, he was in a relationship with costume designer Mimi O’Donnell, whom he had met in 1999 when they were both working on the play In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, which Hoffman directed. They lived in New York City. Hoffman and O’Donnell separated in the fall of 2013, some months before his death.

The Final Footprint

A funeral was held at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan on February 7, 2014. His remains were cremated.

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