Friday, September 29, 2017


It's the birthday of Lizabeth Scott, born September 29, 1922 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to poor immigrant parents. Her  distinctive voice and seductive looks would make her a leading star of film noir in the 1940s and 50s.

She got her acting start at Marywood Seminary and Scranton Central High School performing in numerous school plays. Her mother wanted her to become a journalist, but Lizbeth threatened to enter a convent if she couldn't pursue her acting career.

After moving to New York, she won roles in vaudeville and Broadway shows but had trouble breaking into film. At one point she failed screen tests at Warner Brothers, International Pictures and Universal. One studio head said of her, "She'll never be a star, only a second leading lady." But others saw her potential. She got her first break starring in You Came Along opposite Robert Cummings. Other films followed.

Her third film, Dead Reckoning, helped establish her reputation as a femme fatale when she was paired with Humphrey Bogart in one of her finest roles.  Bogart played Rip Murdock who investigates the mysterious murder of his war buddy, Johnny. Scott played Johnny's wife, Coral . Mixed up in the story are a night club run by a gangster, an attempt to frame Rip for murder, assorted violence and questionable motives by Coral, who has plenty to hide.

Scott continued to receive roles in mostly noir films where her smoky voice and sultry appearance were a great asset. Many of Hollywood's leading men appeared with her: Burt Lancaster in Desert Fury and I Walk Alone, Charlton Heston in Dark City and Bad For Each Other, Dick Powell in Pitfall, Robert Mitchum in The Racket.

Her movie career was damaged by a tabloid article in 1955 with accusations that she was a lesbian. In the ensuing trial, she failed to win any damages against the publisher. But she continued to appear in television roles and a few films, including Pulp, one of her last roles, with Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney in 1972.

In 1957 she tried to recreate herself as a singer and even released an album of torch and romantic ballads through RCA Victor. But it was her only release.

“What you call film noir I call psychological drama. It showed all these facets of human experience and conflict - that these women could be involved with their heart and yet could think with their minds.”

- Lizabeth Scott

Friday, September 22, 2017

Writers Born Today - Gail Bowen

It's the birthday of playwright and mystery novelist Gail Bowen, born September 22, 1942 in Toronto. She developed an early interest in death in part because she learned to read by perusing the tombstones in Prospect Cemetery ( can't make this stuff up).

Fortunately, she turned this curiosity into a literary career, rather than become a serial killer. Her readers are very grateful. And the books are quite good, which is just icing on the cake.

Although she grew up in Toronto, her best selling mystery novels are set in Saskatchewan, in the west of Canada. Her protagonist is Joanne Kilbourn, a college professor and widow. Raising three teenagers would be enough to drive her (or anyone) to murder, but instead, she solves them. In 1995 she won the Arthur Ellis Award for A Colder Kind of Death, in which Joanne is a suspect. In 2009, she won the Derrick Murdoch Award for her contributions to the crime genre.

Her novels have been praised for tackling some weighty social issues, including racism and child prostitution, and also for her descriptions of the Canadian prairie. Several of the Kilbourn books have been filmed for television movies. Her latest in the series, The Winner's Circle, was released in August of this year.

“Joanne is really someone who, when she sees injustice or inequity, rolls up her sleeves and tries to do what she can to right what she perceives as wrong. I see that as a very Canadian attitude.”

                    - Gail Bowen