Legends of Hollywood
In 1995, the USPS introduced a new stamp series honoring “famous Golden-Age film stars whose performances electrified the big screen and enamored the public.”
Master of the thriller film, Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (1899-1980) directed more than 50 motion pictures during his career. Through the years, he became as popular as those who starred in his suspenseful movies. A brilliant technician who incorporated humor into his films, Hitchcock’s influence on younger movie producers was unmatched.
With his unique blend of conceit and charm, James Cagney (1899-1986) was Hollywood’s greatest “tough guy.” The son of an Irish bartender, Cagney grew up in the rough lower east side of New York City. He toured the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s, and appeared on Broadway. In 1931, he earned fame as a wisecracking criminal in “The Public Enemy.” The scene in which Cagney shoved a grapefruit into the face of his co-star Mae Clark was one of film’s most memorable moments.
Wayne (1907-79) was a leading Hollywood star for nearly half a century. Born Marion Robert Morrison, Wayne’s first starring role was in the 1930 film The Big Trail, Hollywood’s first epic Western sound motion picture. Nine years later, Wayne became a major star with the film Stagecoach. Wayne played the male lead role in 142 of 153 films, setting an industry record. Wayne was awarded an Academy Award for his role in the 1968 hit True Grit. President Jimmy Carter awarded the legendary actor the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.
Stewart projected an all-American-boy image – rural, righteous, idealistic, always ready to defend the underdog. The actor’s unique, hesitating style made his characters natural and believable. Stewart left America a legacy of more than fifty years of memorable performances.
Born Ruth Elizabeth Davis (1908-1989) in Lowell, Massachusetts, Bette studied acting at the John Murray Anderson Dramatic School in New York City. She began her career on Broadway in 1929, but was hired by Universal Studios and moved to Hollywood the following year. Davis appeared in over 100 films, and was the first actress to receive ten Academy Award nominations. She won Oscars for Best Actress in 1935 for Dangerous, and for Jezebel in 1938. Other honors include being elected the first female president of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She was also the first female to receive the American Film Institute’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Bette once described herself as “uncompromising, peppery, infractible, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile and ofttimes disagreeable. I suppose I’m larger than life.” This toughness helped her build a successful career that lasted well into her late 70s. Her final role was in The Whales of August in 1987.
Cooper was known for playing characters with strong principles, such as decorated World War I hero Alvin York, and a lone, aging sheriff fighting four outlaws. Cooper’s performance was so memorable that, according to daughter Maria Cooper Janis, “His iconic image in High Noon was selected to be the Solidarity poster for Polish Democracy.” Cooper is regarded as one of Hollywood’s all-time leading actors, winning two Oscars for Best Actor. He was ranked 11th “Top Male Star” by the American Film Institute. Cooper died in 1961, just one month after winning a Lifetime Achievement Oscar.
Hepburn (1907-2003) won a record four Academy Awards and was named the greatest female star in the history of American cinema by the American Film Institute.
Charlton Heston (1923-2008) appeared in 100 films in a career that spanned over sixty years. Known for portraying strong masculine roles in sprawling blockbuster movies, Heston also held deep convictions and was an outspoken political activist.
Over four decades, Ingrid Bergman (1915-82) performed on both stage and screen, amassing four Golden Globes, three Academy Awards, two Emmys, and a Tony. She acted in over 50 films in five different languages. Ingrid Bergman is, and forever will be, remembered as one of the most accomplished actresses of the 20th century.
Shirley Temple (1928-2014) was a seasoned actor by the time most children start school. She made her film debut when she was only three. During the Depression, Temple’s smile and optimism brought some sunshine to a weary nation. In 1935, she won the first Juvenile Oscar for her 1934 films. In the 1960s Temple embarked on a new career as a diplomat.