This Week in Film History, 8.17.14

August 18, 1925: MGM settles on the winner of a fan magazine contest to rechristen contract starlet Lucille LeSeur, and adds “Joan Crawford” to the lexicography.

August 23, 1925: With its premiere at the Century Theater in New York, Fritz Lang‘s Siegfried introduces the synchronized, sound-on-film process.

August 23, 1926: Film fans react in shock to news of the death of beloved screen idol Rudolph Valentino, 31, struck down following surgery for a ruptured ulcer.

August 21, 1939: RKO Pictures contracts with theater/radio wunderkind Orson Welles, allowing him to produce, direct, script and act in two projects of his choosing.

August 23, 1943: Olivia de Havilland files her trailblazing lawsuit against Warner Brothers that ultimately breaks the studios’ practice of extending performer contracts indefinitely.

August 22, 1856: Shooting begins on singer Elvis Presley’s first film, The Reno Brothers, which would come out later that year as Love Me Tender.

August 17, 1958: Producer Roger Corman‘s juvenile delinquent drama The Cry Baby Killer marks the screen debut of Jack Nicholson.

August 18, 1969: Stand-up comic and part-time actor Woody Allen debuts his first film as writer/director/star, Take the Money and Run.

August 19, 1977: Groucho Marx, cigar-chomping leader of the Marx Brothers, dies at the age of 76 of pneumonia in Los Angeles.

August 20, 1986: African-American filmmaker Spike Lee wins acclaim for his debut feature, She’s Gotta Have It, which will draw attention to other black artists.

August 21, 1987: Stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey have the time of their lives in the surprise hit Dirty Dancing, which opened on this date.

August 19, 2012: Tony Scott, 68, director of The Hunger and Top Gun, takes his own life by jumping off a bridge in Los Angeles.