I am always amazed by how little that Americans under 40 know about history, and this certainly extends to the history of American movies. Sure, everyone knows who John Wayne, James Stewart, Bette Davis, and Katharine Hepburn are, but how many are familiar with Robert Taylor, Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, or even Barbara Stanwyck?
For example, on the day after Glenn Ford died in 2006, I was listening to the local sports radio talk show in Chicago. The host – an old movie fan – digressed from talking about the Cubs to mentioning what a great western star Ford was. He invited callers to call in and give their impressions about Ford. Everyone over 50 called in to say how much they enjoyed him in movies like 3:10 to Yuma, Jubal, Blackboard Jungle, Experiment in Terror, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Man from the Alamo, and other hits. On the other hand, everyone 40 and under called in and said, “Who the Hell is Glenn Ford?”
This lack of knowledge of old movie actors beyond the top tier of stars led me to think that there was a book in the making here. So, six years later, I published a book called Forgotten Movie Stars of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.It covers the careers of 25 of these stars who were pretty big stars in their era, but who are unknown by virtually everyone today under the age of 45. These were 25 leading men and women who – and here’s the catch – were also among my favorites.
They include the following:
|Glenn Ford||Barbara Stanwyck||Ray Milland|
|John Garfield||Myrna Loy|
|William Powell|| |
|Tyrone Power||Ronald Colman||Jean Simmons|
|Jean Authur||Gail Russell|| |
Again, in addition to the four mentioned above, I am excluding people like Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Joan Crawford, and a few others who I still think are pretty well remembered today. But it’s that second tier of stars – the ones in my book – that I have focused on.
As a clincher, I asked my older daughter, a huge movie fan who has seen all of the top 100 films on the AFI list of best American films, if she knew anything about Tyrone Power. She said, “The name sounds familiar.” These “forgotten stars” are people who definitely need to be remembered. Hopefully, my book will be one method of remembering them.
You can find out more about film buff (and MoveFanFare reader) Gary Koca’s book Forgotten Movie Stars of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s here. Which big-screen idols of days gone by do you think have been overlooked by today’s audiences? Let us know in the comments section!