Golden Age Movie/TV Stars, Redemptive Stories
Jim Thorpe was truly an All-American athlete, who was outstanding in many sports. Tragically, his goal became his own celebrity which led to to the loss of everything dear and important to him. Fortunately, he found his way back to his initial dream that was far more fulfilling than celebrity. This is a fascinating movie with Burt Lancaster performing well the story of Jim Thorpe. This classic movie remains timely and universal.
Roma Downey, star of TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL and producer of the biblical epics THE BIBLE miniseries, A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES and the upcoming BEN-HUR will be honored Thursday, Aug. 11, with the 2,586th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her star in the category of Television is dedicated at 6664 Hollywood Blvd. next to that of her husband, Mark Burnett, executive producer of the top-rated TV programs SHARK TANK, THE VOICE and SURVIVOR.
John Wayne, the Duke, was an embodiment of masculinity,, patriotism. He appeared in more than 175 movies and won an Academy Award for his role as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.” He was also a committed patriot. He played this role in public and on screen. From his portrayals of the rugged individual in his westerns to the anti-communism hero in his war films, Wayne’s film beliefs and behaviors lined up with those of his real life.
Comedian, philanthropist, Jerry Lewis, Jerome Levitch, was born, raised in Newark, N. J. His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants, who during Jerry’s childhood performed a vaudeville song-and-dance act. In 1945, he met singer Dean Martin with whom he formed a nightclub act with Dean as the crooner and Jerry as the comedian. Together they moved to TV and movies. First and foremost, Jerry was a family man and man of faith.
Duke Ellington (1899-1974), the famous jazz pianist and orchestra leader, gave prolific artistic gifts to America and the world. His list of movie and musical recordings was amazing. Duke Ellington’s jazz had its origins in Christian spirituals and Christian religious services.
Having gone through multiple marriages and affairs, as well as harmful involvement in drugs, as a broken man McQueen started going to church. He had been exposed to Christians throughout his career and now he would become a Christian. Pilot Sammy Mason and Pastor Leonard De Witt each had a profound Christian impact on Steve at the end of his life. Pilot Sammy Mason was Steve’s flying teacher. In their long hours in the air, they talked about the meaning of life. Mason told Steve it was Christ.
Patty Duke, a notable American actress of stage, film, television won an Academy Award at 16 for her role as Helen Keller in THE MIRACLE WORKER in 1962, a role she had first performed on Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for Best Play. A year later, she starred in her own TV show, THE PATTY DUKE SHOW.Patty received 10 Emmy Award nominations and three Emmy Awards. In 1982, doctors diagnosed Patty with bipolar disorder. Playing Helen Keller helped strengthen her faith.
“When you really believe in God, it gives you a courage, a confidence that enables you to meet the things coming,” said Della Reese. Beloved singer, actor Della Reese has been known for her many wise words especially in her role as supervising angel, Tess, in the long-running, loved TV series Touched by an Angel.
Day was a multi-talented American singer, actress, with a sunny smile, and bright personality. In 1939, she began her career as a big band vocalist. Her first recording was “Sentimental Journey” in 1945 with Les Brown and his band. Afterwards, she began a solo career, recording more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967. She talked about faith, family. She told how their new faith brought peace and harmony into their lives.
Frank Capra’s notable movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood include MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, LOST HORIZON, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, MEET JOHN DOE, and many more. Most likely, his most beloved movie is the Christmas classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Capra’s movies celebrate American life and democracy, but more fundamentally they involve realistic struggle and challenges resolved by Christian faith and biblical principles.
Pearl Bailey has an impressive resume as an actor and singer. She was a star on Broadway and in movies. She received a Tony award and the Screen Actors Guild honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for “outstanding achievement in fostering the finest ideals of the acting profession.” She also had multiple appointments as the U.S. Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations under Presidents Ford, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. As the daughter of a minister, she was also a woman of faith.
In her final interview, Florence said that in good times and bad, her Christian faith was her foundation. “I don’t ever remember not praying. Bedtime prayers…praying for friends, relatives, for the sick…. It was a natural part of our lives,” she told writer Rita E. Piro.
Hollywood legend, Debbie Reynolds was one of America’s Sweethearts, who sang and danced into the hearts of many throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood through such movies as SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN. Debbie Reynolds was a Christian who attended a Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Debbie Reynolds credited her faith with helping her find peace after two miscarriages and for helping her with strength and perseverance after three failed marriages...
At 11-years-old, Ronald Reagan wanted to be baptized. After Ron rose from the baptism waters, the pastor said, “Arise and walk in newness of faith.” Ron said he was “called” at that moment when “I invited Christ into my life.” Ronald then began to develop communication skills speaking in a church. Ron began acting in his church. A local newspaper said that, at 13, he captivated the audience by his one act dramatic reading. At 15, he began teaching Sunday School and continued to do so...
Gary Cooper was a major star during the Golden Age of Hollywood, known for playing everyman heroes, but his extramarital affairs especially with movie stars took a toll on his health, family and the other women. As his personal life became increasingly complicated, it was stressful on everyone involved. As a result, Gary Cooper personally suffered debilitating ulcers. His family, as well as the other women, suffered intense emotional strain. However, God brought good out of evil in his life.*
“Applause,” Patricia wrote, “was love. It was approval by everybody. I bathed in it.” However, Patricia Neal’s life has been compared to a Greek tragedy. Although she won a Best Actress Oscar, a Tony, three Emmy nominations, and loved mothering her six children, she also endured long periods of intense pain in personal relationships, largely due to inappropriate dalliances with men. Despite the mistakes and pain, she found ultimate healing, forgiveness and restoration in her Christian faith.
Bob Hope brought laughter and joy to troops from World War II to the Persian Gulf War. However, while bringing laughs to audiences everywhere, he kept his philanthropy and faith quiet, according to an obit in the Catholic Register in 2003. Father Maurice Chase, who tells of Bob Hope’s ministry to the homeless for decades, says “He helped many thousands of people here on skid row in Los Angeles.”
Jane, a committed Christian, urged other Christians to tell Hollywood the type of movies they wanted. “They should say they want good family movies instead of the other kind,” she advised. Jane Russell’s distinguished movie career began in 1940, when she was signed to a seven-year contract by millionaire Howard Hughes. Jane was known for her physical beauty along with Marilyn Monroe and Lana Turner. However, her faith was central in her life as she expressed when she said “I love the Lord.”
A delightful man of faith, skill in movie history is Mickey Rooney. He says, “You should take your children to church and teach them about Jesus Christ and about God, who makes the sunshine and the moon glow and gives us so many blessings…I talked before the House and Senate about (elder) abuse. No one had more abuse than Jesus Christ…If you go with God and with Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and leave the troubles and everything to God, everything will work out for you.”