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10 Interesting Facts/10 Fascinating Actors by Mykki Newton


As audience members or just as fans, we sometimes mistake an actor’s role for the actor’s actual personality. That is a testament to the actor’s true talent, but it is so often not the truth. No character ever written could equal the complexities or inner life of a real person. So, here’s what I call 10 interesting fact you may not know about 10 fascinating actors. Our imaginary image of an actor may not always live up to the real person, but the real person always lives up to reality.


DELORES HART

Delores Hart, Elvis Presley publicity still for Loving You (1957)


Dolores Hart was often compared to Grace Kelly during her brief, yet productive acting career. She made her film debut with Elvis Presley in Loving You (1957) and starred with The King of Rock-n-Roll again the following year in King Creole.





Mother Delores Hart (2008)

In 1961 while filming Francis of Assisi in Rome, she met Pope John XXIII. She told him "I am Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clare." The Pontiff replied, "Tu sei Chiara!"("No, you are Clare!" in Italian). Two years later, she left her Hollywood world for a more spiritual existence.   Mother Delores Hart will soon be age 82 and has never regretted her decision to become a Benedictine nun. She says, “God is the bigger Elvis.”{1}



HARRY TOWNES

Harry Townes was one of those “Man, that guy is in everything.” kind of actors. An amazingly versatile character actor, Townes appeared in 29 films and more than 200 television show. His television credits include five episodes of Perry Mason, seven episodes of Gunsmoke, three episodes of Bonanza, two episodes of The Twilight Zone, and a Magnum, P.I.

Harry Towns and a parishioner (1986)

In 1974, Harry Townes became an ordained Episcopal minister serving at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Hollywood. He retired from acting in 1989 and moved back to his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. That fact will become more relevant at the end of this article. Harry Townes passed away in 2001 at the age of 86.





JAMES HONG

James Hong has been a steadily working actor since the 1950s. You didn’t always see his face, but you heard his voice in leading roles of American versions of Japanese films, For example, he dubbed the English language version voices of two of the main characters in the 1956 Sci-fi classic Godzilla: King of the Monsters!



James Hong in Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

James Hong is probably best remembered for his role as an immortal sorcerer in John Carpenter’s 1986 Sci-fi /Adventure/ Comedy Big Trouble in Little China, but Hong is credited with more than 500 stage, film, and television roles making him the most credited stage, film, and television actor in the history of show business. {2}



WILLIE BEST



In the mid-1930s, Willie Best left his home in Sunflower, Mississippi when he was hired to drive a wealthy couple to California for a vacation.






Bob Hope and Willie Best in The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Best decided to stay in Hollywood and he became one of the first famous African-American actors, appearing in 100 films.

Bob Hope once called Willie Best, “The best actor I know.” and producer/director Hal Roach said Best was, “One of the greatest talents he ever met.” {3}



KATE COLLINS

Actress Kate Collins is best known for playing the character of Natalie Marlowe on All My Children, a role she originated in 1985. The character was killed off in 1993, but Collins was able to return in 1997, 1998, and 2001 as Natalie's "spirit." She also played the role of Natalie's mentally ill sister, Janet Green from 1991 to 1992 and 2005 to 2007. Such is life in the magical soap opera universe.

Ann (sister), Michael (father), and Kate Collins (2015)

Collin’s father was once considered the loneliest man in the universe. He’s astronaut Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot of Apollo 11. In July of 1969, he was orbiting the Moon all alone, waiting to pick up his fellow crew members, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin who were skipping around on the lunar surface as the first humans to walk on the Moon.



OLAN SOULE

Olan Soule was another one of those easily recognizable character actors, but you probably never knew his name, or the fact he had nearly 7,000 radio shows and commercials credits, appearances in 200 television series and television films, and in more than 60 feature films.

Soule usually played mild-mannered characters, but on occasions, he was a menacing Dark Knight superhero. He spent 15-years (1968–1983) as the voice of Batman on several animated television series.



RONDO HATTON

In 1930, Rondo Hatton was spotted by a movie director and later appeared in 25 films. A studio publicity department claimed Hatton’s acromegaly was the result of a mustard gas attack during World War I. This onetime journalist and soldier became a horror movie cultural icon.

Rondo Hatton high school photo (1912)

Rondo Hatton was voted “Handsomest Boy” in high school and after graduating, he became a sports reporter for The Tampa Tribune. His journalism career was briefly put on hold while he did military service in World War I. After being discharged from the military for an illness, he returned to his career as a reporter, but showed signs of acromegaly, the disfiguring disease that lead Hollywood to make him an actor. {4}



RUTGER HAUER

Rutger Hauer is often remembered for his portrayals of menacing and deadly characters such as Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982), but Hauer was born in Breukelen, Netherlands during the World War II German occupation.

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982)

Rutger Hauer once said in an interview, "I was born in the middle of the war, and I think for that reason I have deep roots in pacifism. Violence frightens me." Hauer was trained as a combat medic in the Royal Netherlands Army, but left the service because he loathed the use of deadly weapons. {5}



THOMAS MITCHELL

1939 was certainly a memorial year for actor Thomas Mitchell. In that year, which is considered the greatest year for American cinema, he had supporting roles in three Best Picture Oscar nominated films... Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and the winner Gone with the Wind. That same year, Mitchell also had supporting roles in two other eternally classic films... Only Angels Have Wings, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.


When Thomas Mitchell won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Stagecoach, he said in his acceptance speech, "I didn't think I was that good."



REG E. CATHEY

Reg E. Cathey was another of those “Man, that guy is in everything.”, amazingly versatile kind of actor with a powerful and unforgettable deep voice. His credits include The Fantastic Four (2015), Airheads (1994), and television series such as The Wire, Oz, and House of Cards for which he was nominated for three straight Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Awards. He won the award in 2015.

Reg E. Cathey, senior high school photo (1976)

Reg E. Cathey was what is fondly referred to as “a military brat”. His father was a decorated U. S. Army colonel who served in three wars. During Reg E. Cathey’s senior year of high school in Huntsville, Alabama, his outstanding academic record and his father’s outstanding career in the military won young Reg an appointment to West Point. However, his dream was to be an actor. That meant he had to tell his Army father, whom he admired greatly, that he wanted to attend the Yale School of Drama. It was hard thing for an 18-year old kid to do, but Reg E. Cathey did it. He attended Yale and reached his goal of becoming a highly sought-after actor.


Reg E. Cathey (2014)

Harry Townes (1984)

You might have noticed that Harry Townes and Reg E. Cathey were both from Huntsville, Alabama. They both also had a personal impact on my life.

I grew up in Huntsville. When I was young and decided to move to New York and study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, my parents were not at all happy about my decision, but Harry Townes changed their minds.

One day over lunch at Mullin’s Restaurant in Huntsville, Harry Townes told my father that I was going to a great school and would be surrounded by some of the best teachers and talents in the business. After Harry Townes' seal of approval, my parents were fine with my move. I’ll always be grateful to Harry for that support.


Reg E. Cathey and I knew each other in high school. I always knew him as Reggie. When I first moved to New York, Reggie was already established as an actor in the city and was the first person to reach out and help me. Reggie had just gotten his first big break on a new show produced by The Children’s Television Workshop called Square One Television. He invited me to the set and introduced me to my first acting contacts. It was an act of kindness and unselfishness that epitomized who Reggie really was, and when he passed away in 2018, it left a huge hole in the lives of all of us who knew him.





References:

{1} "Dolores Hart: How a movie actress left Hollywood for a contract with God"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

{2} James Hong Official Website

{3} Black Comedians on Black Comedy: How black Americans Taught Us to Laugh

{4} Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930-1960

{5} "Rutger Hauer Out of Character"Sarasota Herald-TribuneAssociated Press

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