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Choose Your Stars

It takes all the breaks to create a star these days, some movie executives believe. The pressure’s so great, they say, that a new player can’t possibly make an impression unless he lands a top part in a top picture.

That might be true, if it weren’t for you—you, the public. A fresh new talent or a striking personality can’t be hidden from you. You seek out the stars of the future no matter how modestly they make their bids. Look what happened a few months ago when you saw Perry Lopez in “Battle Cry.” He had only a little supporting role, but, in a flood of fan letters, you told Warners that the boy who played Spanish Joe deserved leading parts. Now Perry will get them.

The story of Tony Curtis began in the same way. Tony is among the important stars—Guy Madison, Edmund Purdom, Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Jeff Chandler and many. others—singled out by Photoplay’s readers in earlier “Choose Your Stars” balloting.

Now it is time for you to choose the players who will make movie news in 1956. Photoplay has surveyed the whole field of young talent and nominated forty people—twenty girls, twenty men. As always, you are given simply the facts about these very able, very attractive young players. And, to keep everything completely fair, they are listed alphabetically. The final choice is up to you. Regardless of present standing, each of these personalities has a strong chance to lead the field next year. With important roles current or coming up, with the full confidence of their studios, they challenge the established favorites.

William Campbell: Recent pictures, “Man Without a Star,” “Cell 2455, Death Row”; next picture, “The Girl in the Cage.” Bill isn’t one of the pretty boys, nor does he want to be. He’s not a character actor, either, and he has no ambitions in that direction. His goal: to be an “actor’s actor,” like his idol and sponsor, Spencer Tracy. Since Bill is very good, very male, very bright—and has U-I’s firm backing—he stands a sharp chance.

Joan Collins: Current pictures, “Land of the Pharaohs,” “The Virgin Queen”; next picture, “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing.” A sultry beauty of twenty-two with brown hair, green eyes and a voluptuous figure, this London import is under contract to 20th Century-Fox. In England, she started with a lead in her very first picture, followed by ten more, which finally brought her to Hollywood.

Ben Cooper: Recent picture, “The Eternal Sea”; current picture, “The Last Command.” Under contract to Republic, Ben has so far been limited to supporting roles, but his love scenes in “The Rose Tattoo” (on loan-out to Paramount) should do it for him. He’s been acting on stage, TV, radio and screen since the age of seven (he’s twenty-one now); he has a college education. The future for dark-haired, blue-eyed, bachelor Ben looks keen, since he’s already won many fans.

Ray Danton: Recent picture, “The Looters”; next picture, “The Spoilers.” Tall, dark and handsome, with an exciting speaking voice, Ray has played heavies skillfully, now gets a change of pace in “I’ll Cry Tomorrow,” with a nice-guy role—and is even better. Julie Adams’ bridegroom is a happy soul with an excellent dramatic background and a solid U-I contract.

Richard Egan: Recent picture, “Underwater!”; current picture, “Seven Cities of Gold.” Despite Rich’s virile features, brawny physique and sonorous voice, it has taken him five years of bit roles and two years of leads to land at a top studio, 20th Century-Fox. Still, this has given him a chance to learn the acting game thoroughly. He’s unmarried, too, which adds to his boxoffice value.

Anita Ekberg: Debut picture, “Blood Alley.” John Wayne and his partner, Robert Fellows, have Anita under contract and they’ll first reveal her to the public in an unglamorous role, just to prove she can act. This is shrewd on their part, since blond, beautiful, sexy Anita has been widely publicized as a beauty-contest winner, fashion model and prime example of whistle-bait. This tall Swedish gal rates high.

Taina Elg: Recent picture, “The Prodigal”; next picture, “Diane.” Till now. M-G-M hasn’t played up this light-haired, green-eyed Finnish ballerina. But she stood out enough in “The Prodigal” to win a part in “Diane,” and she’s so good in “Diane” that she’ll be featured in “Gaby.” This movie has ballet sequences, so Taina may get a real chance to show her dancing ability. Happily married, she has a big career asset: Everybody at her studio is pulling for her.

Marla English: First lead, “Shield for Murder”; current film, “Desert Sands”; next, “Hell’s Horizon.” Marla has the face. She has the figure. Unmarried, she’s under contract to Paramount, which makes money loaning her out to other studios. But this twenty-year-old beauty, with sea blue eyes and ebony black hair, has been around quite a while without scoring a smash success. Will this be Marla’s year?

Dianne Foster: Recent picture, “The Violent Men”; current film, “The Kentuckian.” Brown-eyed, chestnut-haired Dianne of the saucy figure is a compelling dramatic actress. She’s done everything from Shakespeare in London to modeling in New York, plus TV and radio. Happily married, she now needs just a couple of big roles in top pictures to show off her talent, fire and ambition. Columbia has her.

Kathryn Grant: Recent picture, “5 Against the House”; next picture, “The Last Frontier.” Kathryn started winning beauty contests at seventeen and has won seven by now. She has a well-to-do family, a college education, Bing Crosby as a frequent escort and a Columbia contract. But she yearns to be a star in addition to all this. If drive can do it, Kathryn will get there.

Tab Hunter: Recent picture: “The Sea Chase”; next picture, not yet set. One look at Tab shatters the theory that a leading man has to be dark to be handsome. Tab couldn’t be more blond or more pleasing to the feminine eye, and he’ll work till he drops to make each of his film scenes as good as possible. At twenty-four, he dates a string of girls, falls in love with none, loves all sports, rates horseback riding the highest. He seems solidly established.

Martha Hyer: Current picture, “Francis in the Navy”; next picture, “Kiss of Fire.” Martha’s one of the prettiest girls in Hollywood—twenty-six, five feet six, 120 pounds, blond. She’s intelligent, too, though all her pictures so far have just called on her to be decorative. She’s worked at various studios without really clicking, but U-I now plans to give her career a real push, with more publicity, bigger roles.

Shirley Jones: debut picture, “Oklahoma!”; next picture, not yet determined. Some of you have seen “Oklahoma!” by this time; most of you probably haven’t had the opportunity yet; but, take our word for it, this slim, blue-eyed, fair-haired darling is one of the most enchanting new talents to hit Hollywood in years. Her voice is remarkable; her personality, warm and sweet; her youthful loveliness, breath-taking.

Brian Keith: recent picture, “5 Against the House”; next picture, not yet set. He’s six feet one, with sandy hair and blue eyes. He’s been in show business since the age of three, being actually Robert Keith, Jr., son of the well-known character actor. There’s just about nothing Brian hasn’t done on the stage, but he didn’t go over in pictures until his cop role with Ginger Rogers in “Tight Spot.” Now Columbia has him under a long-term deal.

John Kerr: current picture, “The Cobweb”; next picture, “Gaby.” John was born with acting blood in his veins, son of the late Geoffrey Kerr, a British stage star, and June Walker, the noted stage comedienne. A Harvard graduate, he scored such a hit in his second Broadway play, “Tea and Sympathy,” that M-G-M promptly signed him. He’s happily married, father of twins. With his intelligence and background, success should be easy.

Virginia Leith: recent picture, “Violent Saturday”; next picture, to be determined. Five feet six, with chestnut hair, distinctive features and an alert mind, never-married Virginia has a 20th Century-Fox contract. It was her work as a top model in New York that brought her to Hollywood. She’s studious and sincere—always useful qualities, if she can get roles to match her ability.

Perry Lopez: current picture, “Mister Roberts”; next picture, “I Died a Thousand Times.” In less than a year and just in small parts, Perry has made himself a marked-for-stardom young man in Hollywood. Twenty-two, slight in build, definitely unmarried, Perry has the sort of screen face that first singled out Alan Ladd for attention. He also has a gift for making the right friends in high places. Warners holds his contract, backs him strongly.

Shirley MacLaine: debut picture, “The Trouble with Harry”; next picture, “Artists and Models.” This crazy-faced girl with long, wonderful legs lived in real life the familiar fiction story of the understudy who makes good. Paramount producer Hal Wallis caught Broadway’s “The Pajama Game” one night when Shirley was subbing for the star. He signed her up fast. She has studied ballet, drama and music; she’s barely twenty, newly married; she dances vividly, sings a bit, acts terrifically. Film fans meet her next month.

Jayne Mansfield: current, “Pete Kelly’s Blues”; next pictures, “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Illegal.” Under contract to Warners and called by that studio a “champagne blond,” Jayne is notable chiefly for her fantastic figure: forty-inch bust, twenty-two-inch waist, thirty-five- and-a-half-inch hips and a weight that she keeps at 117 by the most rigid dieting. Does this make her an actress? Maybe. She does have acting experience, in plays staged in grammar school, high school, UCLA and little theatres.

Kerwin Mathews: recent picture, “5 Against the House”; next picture, to be determined. Six feet one, with brown hair and eyes, unmarried, alert-minded, Kerwin has so far encountered a mixture of very good luck and very doubtful luck in his career. Columbia has him under contract, intends to cast him in “Joseph and His Brethren” when that long-awaited movie goes into production (Rita Hayworth’s walk-out stalled its schedule). Now Kerwin’s just sitting tight, but if he gets the breaks he’ll be set.

Colleen Miller: current picture, “The Purple Mask”; next picture, “The Rawhide Years.” Colleen’s dark, pretty, a fine little actress—but she is also Ted Briskin’s wife, and, just as when he was married to Betty Hutton, Ted’s work keeps him in Chicago. So Colleen, very much in love with her charming husband, is trying to spend half the year in Hollywood being a career girl, the other half in Chicago being a wife. Can she make this arrangement work? Few girls have—but this young charmer just might. Wish her luck, anyhow.

Jeff Morrow: recent picture, “This Island Earth”; next picture, “The World in My Corner.” Under contract to U-I, Jeff is in his mid-thirties, older than the usual contender for stardom. But movie fans are definitely aware of this tall, dark actor, with his compelling features, magnetic voice and fine training gained on the stage and in TV. He’s very much married.

George Nader: recent film, “Six Bridges to Cross”; next, “Lady Godiva,” “The Second Greatest Sex.” This debonair bachelor is eyed by plenty of Hollywood ladies who’d like to change his single status. As for the fans, they sat up and took notice when he appeared in “Six Bridges.” A native Californian, George has traveled widely, gaining experience that accounts for his poise and charm. U-I has him.

Carol Ohmart: debut picture, “The Scarlet Hour.” Paramount’s starring this newcomer in her first movie and putting a big publicity push behind her. Carol is a veteran of TV, stage and modeling, in her mid-twenties, standing five feet seven and measuring a neat thirty-six, twenty-four, thirty-five. She also has a sexy voice, natural style and an uncommon amount of common sense.

Oreste: debut picture, “The Vagabond King.” Like Carol, Oreste has yet to be seen by moviegoers, but advance reports are so exciting that Photoplay is including him for your attention. Famous in the opera houses of Europe as Oreste Kirkop, this warm, friendly fellow is twenty-nine, unmarried, reddish-haired, with a singing voice that’s the most—even better than Mario Lanza’s, according to Paramount, Oreste’s studio.

Fess Parker: recent picture, “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier”; September tv film, “Davy Crockett and the Keelboat Race.” Here’s the current embodiment of young America’s dream, a very tall, slow-speaking Texan who’s as smart as they come—and as charming. Disney has him under contract and hopes that after a while he can safely get Fess (his real name) away from the Crockett character. An excellent actor, handsome, unmarried, Fess is already a star.

Marisa Pavan: most recent picture, “Drum Beat”; next, “The Rose Tattoo.” Pier Angeli’s twin sister started slowly, but, if reports off the “Diane” set are accurate, she may be as successful as her lovely sister. The same type—dark, intense, big-eyed—Marisa is more serious than Pier, shuns all romance in favor of her career, studies every aspect of her chosen profession and, what is more important, stirs up attention at every studio where she works.

Aldo Ray: current picture, “We’re No Angels”; next, “Three Stripes in the Sun.” Though the husky blond with the unforgettable voice made the grade fast in Hollywood, he didn’t really find his way to fans’ hearts until this year’s “Battle Cry.” Now his home studio, Columbia, is sure that it has a hot property. Aldo’s married to Jeff Donnell.

Gordon Scott: current picture, “Tarzan and the Lost Safari”; next picture, another Tarzan film. Like Kerwin Mathews, Gordon is in the good-luck, fair-luck category. It’s good to be seen often on the screen and to have a solid contract (Gordon’s is with Sol Lesser), but it’s limiting to be seen only in several versions of the same character. The movies’ latest Tarzan is one of the handsomest, wittiest bachelors in town—six feet three, with a fifty-inch chest and a thirty-inch waist, yet!

Jack Sernas: first Hollywood picture, “Jump into Hell”; next picture, “Helen of Troy.” This tall, athletic, blond Frenchman turned in an excellent job in his American debut, though the picture itself didn’t go over. His career here will depend on “Helen.” After scoring a fantastic record with the French resistance movement during the war, Jack intended to become a doctor. But one Italian movie, which had the ladies of Europe swooning over him, turned him toward acting.

Lois Smith: recent pictures, “East of Eden,” “Strange Lady in Town”; next picture, not yet set. She’s twenty-three and happily married, but she looks sixteen. Though “East of Eden” was loaded with fine performances, Lois still wasn’t over-shadowed; she stood out as the barroom slavey. She’s one of those dedicated actresses; through high school and college, she, practically starved to pursue her art. Warners has her under contract.

Susan Strasberg: current picture, “The Cobweb”; next picture, “Picnic.” Susan’s really a teenager, not only youngest but smallest of the new crop, a five-foot-one-inch, brown-haired, hazel-eyed ninety-five pounds of theatrical ambition. Despite her youth, she’s already scored on TV and the New York stage.

Gloria Talbott: current picture, “We’re No Angels”; next picture, “Lucy Gallant.” Another slip of a girl—five three, slim, big- eyed, with “hair-colored” hair—Gloria is an earnest drama student, as well as a beauty-contest winner. Even against the competition of Bogart, Ray and Ustinov in “We’re No Angels,” she held her own.

Russ Tamblyn: recent picture, “Hit the Deck”; next picture, “The Last Hunt.” He’s not tall. He’s not handsome. But he has sparkling talent, a sense of humor and a deep love for show business. Everybody on his lot, M-G-M, dotes on him. Russ started stealing the show at the age of three, and he hasn’t stopped yet. Barely in his twenties, unmarried, with plenty of experience, charm and drive, he should make very, very good.

Milly Vitale: current picture, “The Seven Little Foys”; next picture, “War and Peace.” This warm, sweet young Italian made an unlucky American debut in “The Juggler,” unsuccessful film shot abroad. But Paramount still brought her here to play Mrs. Foy, and then Italy lured her back for “War and Peace” (a Paramount release). In other words, Milly’s in demand, now that she’s proved she has what it takes. Her accent and gently exotic manner may be drawbacks with the American audience—or may turn out to be piquant attractions.

Pat Wayne: recent picture, “The Long Gray Line”; current picture, “Mister Roberts.” His dad is John Wayne. His strongest backer is his father’s strongest backer, director John Ford. But husky, clear-eyed, handsome young Pat can stand on his own, and Dad is seeing to it that Pat does.

Natalie Wood: current picture, “One Desire”; next picture, “Rebel Without a Cause.” Natalie, a real darling if there ever was one, has had thirteen years of movie experience—and she’s just celebrated her seventeenth birthday. Now that Warners is grooming her for adult portrayals, it looks as if Natalie will be that rare exception to the rule—a former child star who is even better as a grown-up actress. Nat’s five two, blond, brown-eyed, weighs ninety-four pounds and is so far heart-whole.

Joanne Woodward: debut, next month’s “Count Three and Pray”; follow-up, not set. In the crop of young stars that you’re choosing from this year, there’s a surprising number of girls who have more than just physical beauty. Joanne’s one of these, a very pretty young thing from the South, with green eyes and a dreamy figure. She’s also quite the sophisticate and a bit the intellectual, with much stage and TV experience and a promising 20th contract.

Dick York: debut picture, “My Sister Eileen”; next, “Three Stripes in the Sun.” Though fans haven’t seen Dick yet, here’s something for them to look forward to a big, broad-shouldered, humorous guy with much charm, a solid theatrical background, a fine singing voice and a right good head on his shoulders. Columbia has him under contract. He’s married very happily, is the father of two toddlers, loves Hollywood, loves life.

There’s the line-up, the strongest group of nominees that Photoplay has ever presented in the “Choose Your Stars” series. With all this wealth of appeal, youth, looks, talent, intelligence, the race is sure to be extra-close this year. If you want your favorites to be in the running, to wind up in the winners’ spot—vote!




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