This Week in Film History, 06.22.14

June 24, 1916: Mary Pickford signs Hollywood’s first “million-dollar contract,” guaranteeing her at least $10,000 a week over its two-year term.

June 23, 1934: Who’s that young supporting player in the Shemp Howard short comedy Art Trouble? It’s stage actor James Stewart in his film debut!

June 26, 1942: Playing the daughter of inventor Hugh Herbert, a 10-year-old Elizabeth Taylor makes her screen debut in the comedy There’s One Born Every Minute.

June 27, 1944: Esther Williams makes a splash in her first “all-singing, all-dancing, all-swimming” musical for MGM, Bathing Beauty.

June 25, 1951: After 27 years at the helm of MGM, Louis B. Mayer resigns following a heated feud with his eventual successor, producer Dore Schary.

June 22, 1961: The Guns of Navarone, starring Gregory Peck, leads off with a bang at its London premiere and will go on to be the year’s box office champ.

June 27, 1961: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour come home to rest with the release of the seventh and final “road” flick, The Road to Hong Kong.

June 28, 1961: The search is on for the perfect James Bond, after United Artists announces it will produce seven films based on Ian Fleming’s superspy.

June 27, 1964: Ernest Borgnine marries Ethel Merman (during a spell of “temporary insanity,” she’ll claim later). The union lasts less than some of her high notes: 32 days.

June 22, 1965: Heart failure claims the life of the legendary producer behind Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, A Star Is Born and many more, David O. Selznick, 63.

June 23, 1967: Sidney Poitier becomes the first African-American performer to leave his hand and footprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. 

June 22, 1969: MGM musical legend Judy Garland, 47, dies in London, England; cause of death will be ruled an “incautious self-overdosage of Seconal.”

June 25, 1969: Sam Peckinpah‘s blood-soaked western about aging gunfighters, The Wild Bunch, opens today and will go on to be his undisputed masterpiece.

June 27, 1973: The tuxedo is passed on, as Roger Moore plays superspy James Bond for the first time in Live and Let Die.

June 24, 1974: After being judged obscene in a Georgia court, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Mike Nichols Carnal Knowledge is, in fact, not obscene.

June 22, 1987: Legendary Hollywood hoofer Fred Astaire, about whom one screen test said “can dance a little,” dies at the age of 88. 

June 22, 1988: Donald Duck and Daffy Duck finally appear onscreen together, as do Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

June 23, 1989: Batman, with Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, debuts with Hollywood’s first $40 million opening weekend. 

June 22, 1990: Joe Eszterhas sells his script for the erotic thriller Basic Instinct for a record $3 million to Carolco Pictures.

June 25, 1993: Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan reteam for Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle, which was inspired by 1939’s Love Affair.

June 22, 2001: The rubber-burnin’ actioner The Fast and the Furious, starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, opens and is followed by a string of hit sequels.  

June 25, 2009:  Two pop culture icons and occasional film stars, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, pass away at 50 and 62, respectively.

June 23, 2011: Peter Falk, a two-time Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee, dies at age 83.