This Week in Film History, 8.3.14

August 6, 1926: The first film released with Vitaphone sound, Warner Bros.’ Don Juan with John Barrymore, features sound effects and an orchestral score.

August 3, 1929: The Four Marx Brothers–Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo–make their screen debuts in Paramount’s The Cocoanuts.

August 9, 1930: The Fleischer Studio’s Betty Boop sashays onto the screen (as a dog!) in the cartoon short Dizzy Dishes.

August 6, 1932: The world’s first film festival begins as part of the Venice Biennale, with A Nous la Liberte considered “most entertaining.”

August 4, 1956: The concluding chapter in the history of movie serials is written with the release of the genre’s final entry, Columbia’s Blazing the Overland Trail.

August 7, 1957: Oliver Hardy, corpulent, tie-twiddling half of the acclaimed comedy team with Stan Laurel, dies at age 65.

August 6, 1959: Preston Sturges, screenwriter/director of The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels and other distinctive farces of the ’40s, dies at age 60.

August 5, 1962: The body of Marilyn Monroe, 36, is discovered by her maid in the bedroom of her Brentwood, Ca., home, the victim of an apparent drug overdose.

August 3, 1965: British actress Julie Christie’s star continues to rise with her performance as an ambitious, self-absorbed fashion model in John Schlesinger’s Darling.

August 6, 1969: The first mainstream studio film to be directed by an African-American, Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree, based on his novel, is released.

August 9, 1969: A massacre in the Hollywood Hills claims Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, and four others; the “Manson Family” will be convicted in Jan. 1971.

August 6, 1992: Harold Russell sells one of the two Oscars he won for The Best Years of Our Lives for $60,500 at an auction.

August 6, 1999: M. Night Shyamalan’s supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis, opens and shocks audiences with its “twist ending.”

August 5, 2000: Sir Alec Guinness, whose film work ranged from The Bridge on the River Kwai to Star Wars, dies in his native England at the age of  86.

August 8, 2004: Fay Wray, who co-starred with “the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood” in 1933’s King Kong, passes away at age 96.