19 March 2018

Renate Blume

German actress Renate Blume (1944) appeared in more than 70 films and television shows since 1964. Her film debut Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964) was an international success and later she co-starred in Easterns with Gojko Mitic and Dean Reed.

Renate Blume
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 3538, 1966. Photo: DEFA / Schwarzer. Publicity still for Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964).

Renate Blume
Big East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 2/74, 1974. Photo: Linke.

Renate Blume and Dean Reed
With Dean Reed. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 43080.

Divided Heaven

Renate Blume was born in Bad Wildungen, Germany, in 1944. As a twelve-year-old she joined the Gret Palucca ballet school in Dresden. Although her parents wanted her to became a doctor, she secretly applied to the Academy for Performing Arts in Berlin.

While still a student, she played her first leading role in the DEFA drama Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964). The East-German film, based on Christa Wolf's novel Divided Heaven (1963), is set in the period immediately before the Berlin Wall was built.

Blume is Rita Seidel, who recalls the last two years, in which she fell in love with Manfred (Eberhard Esche), a chemist who is ten years older. As Manfred became disillusioned with his opportunities in East Germany, he moved to the West. Rita followed him there and tried to persuade him to return but soon realised he would never do it.

The film became an international success, thanks in part to Blume’s naturalistic and honest performance. Although some of the characters are shown as overzealous in their support of the regime, for obvious reasons the nature of the East German dictatorship is never depicted or discussed. The Stasi, the all-pervasive secret police headed by the director's brother Markus Wolf, is not mentioned.

The film was removed from circulation on several occasions in the following years, when the Socialist Unity Party of Germany decreed it, depending on the political situation In 1995, a group of historians and cinema researchers chose Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven as one of the 100 most important German films ever made.

Three years later she appeared in the two-part war film Die gefrorenen Blitze/Frozen Flashes (János Veiczi, 1967) which tells the history of the resistance movement in Peenemünde during the Second World War and its attempt to sabotage the V-2 program. Among the large cast were also Alfred Müller, Leon Niemczyk and Mikhail Ulyanov. From 1965 to 1970, Blume was a member of the Dresdner Staatstheater ensemble, where she continued giving guest performances until 1986.

Renate Blume
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 2.159, 1964. Photo: DEFA / Schwarzer. Publicity still for Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964).

Gojko Mitic and Renate Blume in Ulzana (1974)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 65/74, 1974. Photo: DEFA / Dassdorf. Publicity still for Ulzana (Gottfried Kolditz, 1974) with Gojko Mitic.


In 1970, Renate Blume joined the East German television ensemble and acted in over 40 TV productions over the next 20 years. Although Blume regularly appeared on TV, she rarely worked in the cinema.

In 1974, she co-starred in the Eastern Ulzana (Gottfried Kolditz, 1974), as the wife of Gojko Mitic,the chief of the Mimbrero tribe. It was followed by the comic Eastern Kit & Co. (Konrad Petzold, 1974) with Dean Reed, an American actor, singer and songwriter, living in East Germany.

Blume appeared in Archiv des Todes/Archives of Death (1980). This 13-part East German war television series was set during World War II and also starred Gojko Mitic, Leon Niemczyk and Barbara Brylska.

In the cinema, Blume appeared in the fantasy Der Prinz hinter den sieben Meeren/The Prince of the Seven Seas (Walter Beck, 1982). After the Wende, Blume played a supporting part in the family film Die Distel/The Thistle (Gernot Krää, 1992) with Katja Riemann. In between she appeared in popular TV series such as Polizeiruf 110/Police Call 110 (1978-1998).

Since the Wall came down, she has taught performing arts, performed at theaters in Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, and Munich, and acted in TV movies and TV series. In the cinema, she played a small part in the film Sternzeichen/Zodiac Sign (Peter Patzak, 2003) as the wife of Vadim Glowna. More recently she appeared in TV series such as Fünf Sterne/Five Stars (2005-2008) with Ralph Bauer, and Schloss Einstein (2008-2009) about students at a boarding school in Erfurt.

From 1969 until 1975 Blume was married with film director Frank Beyer. Their son Alexander also became an actor. From 1974 till 1976 she lived together with Romanian actor Gojko Mitic. In 1981, she married Dean Reed, but he died in 1986.

In 2007, Renate Blume was featured in Der Rote Elvis/The Red Elvis (2007), a German documentary about Reed’s life. Her most recent screen appearance was in the TV-Krimi Lindburgs Fall/Prime Time Crime (Franziska Meyer Price, 2011) with Fritz Wepper.

Sources: DEFA Film Library, Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.

18 March 2018

Ray Danton

American actor Ray Danton (1931-1992) was a handsome and smooth natured leading man who often played oily individuals in Hollywood film and TV series. He also worked in Europe where he directed some film too.

Ray Danton
Italian postcard by Rotalcolor, Milano, no. N. 139.

A smooth but dangerous villain

Ray Danton was born Raymond Caplan in New York in 1931. Raymond was the son of Myrtle (née Menkin) and Jack Caplan. Danton entered show business as a child radio actor on NBC radio's Let's Pretend show in 1943.

Danton did many stage roles whilst attending the University of Pittsburgh. He was dramatically trained at Carnegie Tech and in 1950 went to London to appear on stage in the Tyrone Power production Mister Roberts. Danton's acting career was put on hold when he served in the United States Army infantry during the Korean War from 1951–1954.

His on-screen debut was as a moody Native American opposite Victor Mature in Chief Crazy Horse (George Sherman, 1955), a biography of the famous Lakota Sioux war chief which was told entirely from the Indian viewpoint. He was contracted to Universal Pictures.

He next played a supporting part as a smooth but dangerous villain in I'll Cry Tomorrow (Daniel Mann, 1955) starring Susan Hayward. For this part he won the Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer.

At the set of his third film for Universal The Looters (Abner Biberman, 1955) he met his future wife Julie Adams. Danton guest-starred in many 1950s TV shows including Playhouse 90 (1956), Wagon Train (1957), and 77 Sunset Strip (1958), often as a gunslinger or a slippery criminal.

Danton found plenty of demand for his talents and appeared in several minor films including the Film Noir The Night Runner (Abner Biberman,1957), the war film Tarawa Beachhead (Paul Wendkos, 1958), in which he starred with his wife, Julie Adams, and then as a serial rapist in The Beat Generation (Charles F. Haas, 1959) opposite Steve Cochran and Mamie van Doren.

However, his most well remembered role was as the vicious prohibition gangster Jack Diamond in The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960) also starring a young Warren Oates and directed by Budd Boetticher. Wikipedia: "Danton played his role using dynamic body language with his smooth persona fitting the character like a glove." Danton reprised his Legs Diamond role only a year later in the unrelated, and not as enjoyable Portrait of a Mobster (Joseph Pevney, 1961).

Ray Danton
British postcard in the Celebrity Autograph Series by Celebrity Publishers LTD., London, no. 2789. Photo: Universal-International. Publicity still for The Night Runner (Abner Biberman, 1957).

Ray Danton
Spanish postcard by Raker, no. 1126.

Europe beckoned

Cornering the market on playing shady characters, Ray Danton then portrayed troubled actor George Raft in The George Raft Story (Joseph M. Newman, 1961) with Jayne Mansfield, but he was back on the side of good in 1962 playing an Allied officer at the invasion of Normandy in The Longest Day (Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, 1962).

Europe then beckoned for the virile Danton, and like many other young US actors in the early 1960s, he made several films in Italy and Spain between 1964 and 1969 with a mixture of success. These films included Sandokan alla riscossa/Sandokan Fights Back (Luigi Capuano, 1964) with Guy Madison, and the Eurospy films Corrida pour un espion/Code Name: Jaguar (Maurice Labro, 1965) with Pascale Petit, and New York chiama Superdrago/Secret Agent Super Dragon (Giorgio Ferroni, 1966) with Marisa Mell and Margaret Lee.

Danton returned to the USA in the early 1970s, but also ran his own production company in Barcelona, Spain. In Europe he directed the AIP production of Deathmaster (Ray Danton, 1972) starring Robert Quarry who was riding high on the success of the Count Yorga vampire films. Danton also co-directed La tumba de la isla maldita/Crypt of the Living Deads (Julio Salvador, Ray Danton, 1973) with Mark Damon.

Later he became involved in television and directed episodes of some of the most popular TV series of the 1970s and 1980s, including Quincy M.E. (1976), The Incredible Hulk (1978), Magnum, P.I. (1980), Dynasty (1981), and Cagney & Lacey (1981). His final directorial work was an episode for the TV series Mike Hammer (1989).

Ray Danton passed away in 1992 from kidney failure. He was only 61. He was divorced of his wife, Julie Adams, in 1978 (IMDb) or 1981 (Wikipedia). They had two sons, assistant director Steve Danton (1956) and editor Mitchell Danton (1962). His companion at the time of his death was actress Jeannie Austin, who was cast in a couple of TV episodes Ray directed, including Magnum, P.I. (1980).

Trailer for The George Raft Story (Joseph M. Newman, 1961). Source: horrormovieshows (YouTube).

Trailer for the EuroSpy adventure New York chiama Superdrago/Secret Agent Super Dragon (Giorgio Ferroni, 1966). Source: Night Of The Trailers (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

17 March 2018

Oleg Tabakov (1935-2018)

On 12 March 2018, Soviet and Russian actor Oleg Tabakov (1935) passed away. Tabakov performed in both classic and modern plays and was artistic director of the Moscow Art TheatreHis film career was equally impressive with roles as Count Nikita Rostov in Voyna i mir I/War and Peace (1966-1967) by Sergei Bondarchuk, and as the title figure in Oblomow (1981) by Nikita Mikhalkov. Tabakov was 82.

Oleg Tabakov
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 11212. Photo: B. Vilenkina, G. Ter-Ovanesova.

War and Peace

Oleg Pavlovich Tabakov (Russian: Олег Павлович Табаков) was born in Saratov, USSR (now Saratovskaya oblast, Russia) in 1935. His father, Pavel Kongratevich, and his mother, Maria Andreevna Berezovskaya, were medical doctors in Saratov. His parents separated during the Second World War, and young Tabakov was brought up by his single mother and grandmother.

Oleg attended the all-boys school in Saratov, and was active in the drama class. From 1950-1953 he studied acting at the Saratov House of Pioneers under the legendary acting coach Natalia Iosifivna Sukhostav. In 1953, Tabakov moved to Moscow and studied at the Moscow Art Theatre School.

In 1957 he graduated from the school, and became one of the founding fathers of the Sovremennik Theatre. There he played leading roles in such productions as Goly Korol (Naked King), Tri Zhelaniya (Three Wishes), Obyknovennaya istoriya (Ordinary story) and other contemporary Russian plays. From 1970 till 1976 Tabakov was General Manager of Sovremennik, he promoted Galina Volchek to Principal Director of the company.

He administrated the Sovremennik until 1982, when he moved to the Moscow Art Theatre, where he played Molière and Salieri for over 20 years. In 1986, Tabakov persuaded his students to form the Tabakov Studio attached to the Moscow Art Theatre. Several notable Russian actors including Yevgeny Mironov, Sergey Bezrukov, Vladimir Mashkov, Andrey Smolyakov and Alexandre Marine studied at the studio.

Tabakov also spread his theatre's ideals abroad. His teaching credentials include workshops and productions at the Paris Conservatoire, the British American Drama Academy, Akademie Der Künste in Hamburg, the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, Carnegie Mellon, The Juilliard School, New York University, Florida State University, The University of Delaware, and Harvard University.

For his stage work he won several medals an honours. Tabakov's film career paralleled his theatrical career. He made his film debut as Sasha in the drama Sasha vstupayet v zhizn/Sasha Enters Life (Mikhail Shvejtser, 1957). Soon followed roles in the crime drama Ispytatelnyy Srok/The Probation (Vladimir Gerasimov, 1960) and the war drama Chistoe nebo/Clear Skies (Grigori Chukhrai, 1961) with Yevgeni Urbansky. He appeared in the role of Nikolai Rostov in Sergei Bondarchuk's Voyna i mir I/War and Peace (1966–1967),

Oleg Tabakov
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 3744, 1963.

Oleg Tabakov
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 07154.

Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears

Oleg Tabakov played the lead role in the comedy-drama Gori, gori, moya zvezda/Shine, Shine, My Star (Aleksandr Mitta, 1970). Then followed parts in popular TV series as Semnadtsat mgnoveniy vesny/Seventeen Instants of Spring (Tatyana Lioznova, 1973), starring Vyacheslav Tikhonov, and D'Artanyan i tri mushketyora/D'Artagnan and Three Musketeers (Georgi Yungvald-Khilkevich, 1978).

An international success was Neokonchennaya pyesa dlya mekhanicheskogo pianino/An Unfinished Piece for a Piano Player (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1977). His later films include the Academy Award-winning Moskva slezam ne verit/Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1980), the international art house hits Oblomov (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1981) and Oci ciornie/Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1986) starring Marcello Mastroianni.

Tabakov also played in the mock slapstick Western Chelovek s bulvara Kaputsinov/A Man from the Boulevard des Capuchines (Alla Surikova, 1987) about Mr Jonny First (Andei Mironov), who arrives in the Wild West to present the art of the Cinematograph. Over 40 million people in the USSR paid to see the feature.

Tabakov has lend his distinctive, purr-like voice to a number of animated characters, including the talking cat Matroskin in the animation film Kanikuly v Prostokvashino/Three from Prostokvashino (Vladimir Popov, 1980) and its sequels. After the Matroskin role he dubbed the character of Garfield into Russian in the feature film Garfield (Peter Hewitt, 2004).

During the 1990s, Oleg Tabakov was a strong supporter of democratic reforms and freedom in the new Russia. He made public speeches and was involved in many public events facilitating the cultural transformation of arts and theatres in Russia. He also continued to appear in films, such as in The Inner Circle (Andrey Konchalovskiy, 1991), about Stalin's private film projectionist (Tom Hulce), the TV movie Stalin (Ivan Passer, 1992) with Robert Duvall, and Taking Sides (István Szabó, 2001) with Harvey Keitel.

Oleg Tabakov was designated People's Actor of the USSR and Russia in the 1980s, and was decorated with the Order of Merit of Fatherland II degree, by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in 2005. During the 2012 Russian presidential election Tabakov was registered as a ‘Trusted Representative’ of Putin. In March 2014, he signed a letter in support of the position of Putin on Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.

His last films were the comedies Kukhnya v Parizhe/A Kitchen in Paris (Dmitriy Dyachenko, 2014) with Vincent Perez, and the sequel Kukhnya. Poslednyaya bitva/Kitchen. The Last Battle (Anton Fedotov, 2017).

In November 2017, Oleg Tabakov was hospitalised with sepsis. In December, Tabakov's condition deteriorated sharply - he fell into a pre-coma condition. On 12 March 2018, he died of a heart attack at age 82. The farewell ceremony took place at the Moscow Art Theatre named after Chekhov's historical stage where Tabakov worked as a artistic director and plays director for many years.

Oleg Tabakov was married twice. His first wife was actress Lyudmila Krylova (1960–1994) with whom he has two children. Their son Anton Tabakov is an actor and also a successful night-club owner in Moscow. Since 1994 Oleg Tabakov was married to actress Marina Zudina. The couple had two children, son Pavel (1996), and daughter Maria (2006).

Oleg Tabakov (1935-2018)
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. M-51673. 3?X-64.

Oleg Tabakov and Elena Proklova in Gori, Gori, Moya Zvezda (1970)
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 1984. Publicity still for Gori, Gori, Moya Zvezda (Aleksandr Mitta, 1970) with Elena Proklova.

Sources: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), AllMovie, Wikipedia, and IMDb.