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Actress Judy Holliday was know for playing dumb but good-natured characters. She won an Academy Award for best actress in the film Born Yesterday.
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Judy Holliday accepted a contract with 20th Century-Fox in 1944. After appearing in a few films, she was released from her contract. In March 1945, she starred on Broadway in Kiss Them for Me. From 1946–'49 she played Billie Dawn in the play Born Yesterday, after which she starred in the film version. In 1956, she starred on Broadway in Bells Are Ringing. She died of cancer in 1965.
Actress Judy Holliday was born Judith G. Tuvim on June 21, 1921, in New York City, the daughter of Abraham Tuvim, a journalist and fund raiser for Jewish and social organizations, and of Helen Gollomb, a piano teacher at the Henry Street Settlement. At the age of 6, her parents separated. An unusually brilliant child with a 172 I.Q., Tuvim described herself as "one of those obnoxious children who read War and Peace, Schnitzler and Molière."
After graduating from the Julia Richman High School in New York City in 1938, she hoped to attend Yale Drama School but was too young for admission. She went to work in the summer of 1938 as a switchboard operator at Orson Welles's Mercury Theater. Later that year, Max Gordon, owner of a Greenwich Village nightclub, offered her a chance to demonstrate her talent as a scriptwriter and lyricist. Tuvim contacted a group of performers she had met while vacationing at an upstate resort who called themselves "Six and Company."
Among them was an unknown pianist, Leonard Bernstein, and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The group renamed themselves "The Revuers," and as Lee Israel comments, "with her immense, fawnlike eypes and her brown hair piled up, Judy's talent for comedy was quickly perceived." The Revuers subsequently appeared for thirty-two weeks on an NBC radio program. With Judy Tuvim's career burgeoning, she adopted a new name, Judy Holliday (tuvim is the Hebrew word for holiday). In 1943 The Revuers left for Hollywood, but to their disappointment the major studios were more interested in the girl with "the natural gift of comedy," than in the group.
Holliday finally accepted a seven-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox in 1944 but insisted that The Revuers appear in her first film, Greenwich Village. It was a box office failure. Unhappy with the beginnings of her film career, Holliday did not enjoy her stay in Hollywood. After appearing in Winged Victory (1944) and Something for the Boys (1944), she was released from her contract and returned to New York. In March 1945, she starred on Broadway in Kiss Them for Me, playing the first of her many dumb but good-natured characters.
Her performance won her the Clarence Derwent Award as the best supporting actress of the year. In early February 1946 Jean Arthur's misfortune came to be Holliday's biggest break. Three days before Garson Kanin's stage comedy Born Yesterday was scheduled to open in Philadelphia, Arthur was forced to leave the cast due to illness. Holliday auditioned for the role of Billie Dawn and learned it in three days.
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In the 1940s and 1950s, the United States was in the grips of a "red scare." Many prominent individuals suspected of sympathizing with liberal or humanitarian causes were branded a communist threat, and even accused of espionage. Hollywood was a major focus of the accusations, and after 10 actors refused to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the blacklist was created. Hundreds of actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters and other entertainment professionals were barred from working. Here are some of the famous people who were on the Hollywood blacklist.
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