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On this date in May: Birthdays for John Wayne, James Stewart, Valentino, Hepburns

On this date in Hollywood history -- May edition: Clint Eastwood, Rudolph Valentino, Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn celebrate birthdays, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" with Lana Turner releases, James Bond premieres in the United States and more! ...

Discover what happened on days throughout May in Hollywood history, from historic film premieres and industry milestones to anniversaries of birthdays/deaths of beloved Old Hollywood figures, and more. (And explore previous months)

This story will be updated throughout the month

May 31

Make his (birth)day … Clint Eastwood celebrates his 93rd birthday May 31!

“Go ahead, make my day” is one of the most famous movie quotes of all time (coming in at No. 6 on AFI’s 100 best movie quotes list) and is from Eastwood’s 1983 movie “Sudden Impact,” the fourth in the “Dirty Harry” series.

May 26

The iconic ending scene of “The Searchers” (1956) with John Wayne, who was born May 26, 1907, as Marion Michael Morrison. The John Ford-directed movie is on plenty of people’s “best” lists, including mine, but it’s also a comfort movie for me – TBS played this movie seemingly every month (especially Sunday mornings!) during my 1980s childhood when I first fell in love with it. 

“‘The Searchers’ is perhaps the greatest Hollywood film that few people have seen,” writes Glenn Frankel in his 2013 “making of” book about the Western. Martin Scorsese cites this and reviews the movie (both the good and the stereotypes/other troubling things when viewed today) in a 2013 Hollywood Reporter review 

May 20

James Stewart won his only Best Actor Oscar for his role in 1940’s “The Philadelphia Story,” co-starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Stewart, born May 20, 1908, died July 2, 1997) plays a tabloid journalist covering the marriage of Hepburn’s Tracy Lords, but gets more involved in the story than he bargained for.

May 18

Who doesn’t love a little “Capra-corn”? Critics used the term against Frank Capra (born May 18, 1897 – died September 3, 1991) for what they considered cheesy movies, but millions (billions?) of people – including me! – think Capra movies are more subtle and rebellious than the Capra stereotype. 

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a wonderful example. For a movie that is perennially described as “heartwarming,” it is incredibly dark.

📚Buy the book “It’s a Wonderful Life: Quotes and Inspiration” – available in paperback for $5 and as a Kindle ebook. 

May 16

The many faces of Henry Fonda (born May 16, 1905 – died August 12, 1982). Here are a few of my favorites of the very versatile actor, whose career longevity was only matched by his talent!

* “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968)
* “The Lady Eve” (1941) with Barbara Stanwyk
* “Spencer’s Mountain” (1963) - Not as well-known today, but one of my go-to comfort movies – so good! With Maureen O’Hara 
* “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940)
* “12 Angry Men” (1957)
* “On Golden Pond” (1981)

May  12

Katharine Hepburn always seemed to be both intense and relaxed at the same time, as these behind-the-scenes images from 1938’s “Bringing Up Baby” with Cary Grant illustrate.

#Lifegoals courtesy Hepburn, who was born May 12, 1907.

May 10

Fred Astaire astounded audiences with his famous “dancing on the ceiling” scene from 1951’s “Royal Wedding.” No CGI needed! It was just one of a career full of innovations and imaginative dance moves by the master, who was born May 10, 1899, in Omaha, Nebraska, and died in 1987.

May 8

James Bond (Sean Connery) meets a bikini-clad Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) after she famously emerges from the ocean in “Dr. No.”

The movie, which kicked off the decades-long super spy series, opened in the UK in the fall of 1962 and premiered in the United States May 8, 1963. ... Imagine having to wait more than six months for the movie to make it to a theater near you!

May 7

Happy birthday to Gary Cooper, the epitome of the strong silent type (on screen, at least). But some of my favorites of the birthday boy show off his strong comedic chops. He did it all in his almost 40+ year career on screen.

Celebrate @gary_cooper_official (May 7, 1901-May 13, 1961) with a watch or re-watch:

* “Ball of Fire” (1941) with Barbara Stanwyck
* “Sergeant York” (1941)
* “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936) with Jean Arthur
* “High Noon” (1952)
* “The Westerner” (1940) with Walter Brennan
* “Friendly Persuasion” (1956)


“She’s alive!” “The Bride of Frankenstein” opened across U.S. theaters in April and May 1935, and is widely considered the best sequel (and a great movie in its own right).  Various "official" release dates include April 20, April 22, May 6!)

Elsa Lancaster plays both Mary Shelley and the bride in a climactic reveal at the end. Boris Karloff and Colin Clive returned to their roles from 1931’s “Frankenstein” as the monster and Dr. Frankenstein in the sequel, made at the height of Universal’s “golden age” of horror. Director James Whale returned as well.

Watch the iconic scene below or watch on Youtube

May 6

1920s sex symbol Rudolph Valentino, born May 6, 1895, was one of the first superstars of global pop culture. He rose to fame in such silent movies as “The Sheik” (1921), “Blood and Sand” (1922) and “The Son of the Sheik” (1926). Valentino was known as the “Latin Lover” or “Great Lover” and his last name became a synonym for being a ladies man after several lothario roles. 

“The Son of the Sheik” (pictured) also starred Vilma Banky. It would be Valentino’s last. He died at age 31 in 1926. 

Nearly 100 years later, “The Son of the Sheik” is still an enjoyable action-romance and you can see why Valentino earned his nicknames (just be aware of Arab stereotypes and other issues not up to modern standards).

Watch the entire movie here or on Youtube

May 4

Audrey Hepburn makes a dramatic entrance after her transformation from Cockney flower peddler to London lady in 1964’s “My Fair Lady.” Hepburn (born May 4, 1929, died January 20, 1993) starred with Rex Harrison in the movie, the biggest box office draw of the year.

May 2

Lana Turner (and her famous legs!) make the iconic entrance in “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” released in the U.S. on May 2, 1946. Also starring John Garfield, the film noir classic revolves around a married woman and her lover (Turner and Garfield) plotting to kill her husband. Watch below or on Youtube

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