Wednesday, April 1, 2009

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: Gloria Stuart

Before she was that old tear-filled 101 year old version of Kate Winslet in Titanic, Gloria Stuart was one of the most well known actresses of her time.  A founding member of the Screen Actors Guild, she was an absolute queen of horror and suspense films.  She was born a "Stewart" but changed the spelling of her last name because she felt "Stuart" would fit better on a marquee.  She had the purest of blonde hair and the most piercing blue eyes.   In 2000, she was even awarded her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Gloria is yes, STILL ALIVE. Her over 7 decade career span means that she's 98 years old and kicking!

She was James Whale's golden girl, appearing in four of his films.

Gloria got her start in the horror field with 1932's The Old Dark House.  She played Margaret Weaverton which wasn't the lead role, but she was a fabulous supporting actress and even got to be harassed by a drunk, mute, Boris Karloff.  Big stretch for him huh? It was a huge hit in England but is seen as a "forgotten" film in the states, luckily someone found it in 1968 and made it available for print.

Claude Rains may have been The Invisible Man, but behind every great man, is a great woman.  Or in that ca
se, look straight through him and you'll see Flora Cranley played by Gloria Stuart.  She gets major props for being able to play a woman in love with a man who is 1) Invisible and 2) Going insane.  Not to mention, her scientist daddy was Clarence in A Wonderful Life.  So your dad is an angel, and your beau is invisible...what to do?! Poor Dr. Kemp wants her, but she only has eyes for Griffin...which she doesn't necessarily need eyes to see an "invisible man" but hey, different strokes for different folks.  The film itself was ahead of it's time and had some of the best effects for the time being.  Just last year, the Library of Congress selected The Invisible Man to be preserved for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". 

She sadly took about 30 years to raise a family and you know, do that whole American Dream thing.  She used her talent as an artist to have her own store where she sold decoupage'd furniture.  After those 30 years were up, she hit the TV screen with the Made for TV movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden.  She may not have had the title role, but for a comeback to be in a made-for-TV film about a child murderer, I wouldn't complain. 

 
Eventually she of course became that old woman who throws the stupid necklace into the ocean in Titanic.  Stuart may not have starred in as many horror films as some of the other women featured on my blog, but she appeared in over 40 films during her career. She also came full circle and played Darien Fawkes' (Vincent Ventresca) grandmother in SCI FI Channel's TV show The Invisible Man.  Gloria has even stated that she doesn't watch horror or sci-fi films because they frighten her.  She may not be classified as a "Scream Queen", but no one can take away the fact that she was THE girl of The Invisible Man. 
 

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