Sunday, January 03, 2010

Mill Lands

The dapper fellow above is one Ray Milland born this day 1907 in Neath, Wales. He is number 133 on our hero list, but Ray Milland was not the name his was born into the world with. That name was Reginald Alfred John Truscott-Jones quite a mouthful, and not one that would look good in the bright lights of Hollywood. Probably because it would have taken way too many lights to put that name up on the marquee. There are several stories on how he came to change his name, but the one from his autobiography is the one I will take as true. That story is that after many hours of arguing with his agent, he got up and said I do not care what you call me, but I have to keep the initial "R" because my mother has had it engraved on my luggage. What a sweet boy making sure that his mother's gift did not go to waste. He finally gave up and said I it doesn't matter what you call me but come up with something soon, or I am packing these suitcases and moving back to the mill lands from where I came. Thus, Ray Milland was christened. His best known performance is in Billy Wilder's "The Lost Weekend" for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor. It is a lovely film, and he gives a lovely performance. Becoming the first Welsh actor to win an Oscar, and giving the shortest speech in Oscar history (he merely bowed his thanks, and causally walked off the stage). And who said Welshmen talk to much. His other notable performance was opposite Grace Kelley in "Dial M for Murder." Another great performance, and he does a lovely job of playing a husband trying to get away with the perfect murder of his wife. His star declined rather rapidly, and he took a turn directing a few films with uneven results. But, for those two stellar performances, and for keeping his winning speech unbeatably brief, Ray Milland (January 3rd, 1905- March 10th, 1986, at the age of 79 of lung cancer), you are my hero of the day.

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