The Last Kung Fu Monk
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Born: January 20, 1898, London
Died: January 19, 1989 (age 90), Santa Barbara
Biography: Norma Varden was an English actress with a long film career in Hollywood. Born in London, the daughter of a retired sea captain, Varden was a child prodigy. She trained as a concert pianist in Paris and performed in England before deciding to take up acting. She studied at the Guildhall School... MORE
Biography: Norma Varden was an English actress with a long film career in Hollywood. Born in London, the daughter of a retired sea captain, Varden was a child prodigy. She trained as a concert pianist in Paris and performed in England before deciding to take up acting. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and made her first appearance as Mrs Darling in Peter Pan. She acted in repertory theater and made her West End debut in The Wandering Jew in 1920. From Shakespeare to farce, she established herself as a regular member of the Aldwych Theatre company where she appeared in plays from 1929 to 1933. She began to appear in British films, usually in haughty upper class roles. Visiting California with her ailing mother in the 1940s, she decided to settle permanently there and began her American film career. She appeared in Casablanca, The Major and the Minor, The White Cliffs of Dover, National Velvet, The Green Years, Forever Amber, Strangers on a Train, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Witness for the Prosecution. She played the housekeeper Frau Schmidt in The Sound of Music. Two years later, she had a minor part as Lady Petherington in Doctor Dolittle. LESS
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a 1953 film adaptation of the 1949 stage musical, released by 20th Century Fox, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, with Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, Taylor Holmes, and Norma Varden in supporting roles. The screenplay by Charles Lederer is augmented by the music of songwriting teams Hoagy Carmichael & Harold Adamson and Jule Styne & Leo Robin. The songs by Styne and Robin are from the Broadway show, while the songs by Carmichael and Adamson were written especially for the film. The movie is filled with comedic gags and musical numbers. While Russell's down-to-earth, sharp wit has been noted by most critics, it is Monroe's turn as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee for which the film is often remembered. Monroe's rendition of the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is considered an iconic performance that has been copied by the likes of Madonna, Geri Haliwell, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman and Anna Nicole Smith. The story line first appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady, a 1925 novel by Anita Loos. It was adapted for the stage in 1926, and then a 1928 silent movie, starring Ruth Taylor, Alice White, Ford Sterling, and Mack Swain, which, as of now, is apparently lost. John C. Wilson directed the Broadway musical with Carol Channing as Lorelei Lee that served as the basis for this screen version. Loos wrote a sequel to her novel entitled But Gentlemen ...
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