Saturday, December 20, 2008
December 20, 1898 - September 4, 1990
The awful truth is, there aren't many staunchly conservative Republicans that we're particularly fond of, but for Irene Dunne, we'll make an exception.
Although she later claimed that she lacked the "terrifying ambition" of some of her contemporaries, Dunne was a superstar who appeared in some of the most memorable, classic films ever created; her earliest hits included the original versions of Back Street (1932), Magnificent Obsession (1934), and Show Boat (1936), which showcased her dramatic talent and lovely, quasi-operatic singing voice, respectively. A surprise turn in the 1936 comedy Theodora Goes Wild led to one of the happiest accidents in Hollywood history: the discovery of Irene Dunne as a screwball comedienne. Theodora was followed by The Awful Truth (1937) and My Favorite Wife (1940), both with Cary Grant; and Love Affair (1939), which deftly showcased all of Dunne's strengths: sophisticated comedy, romantic drama, and singing.
Futher triumphs in the 1940's continued with A Guy Named Joe (1943), Anna and the King of Siam (1948, later musicalized as The King and I), and I Remember Mama (1948). By now firmly entrenched as one of the grand dames of the movie industry, Dunne walked away from the grind in the early 1950's, preferring to devote time to her family, and her Republican and Catholic causes. Dunne died peacefully at her home in California in 1990; we need only think of her sly, silvery laugh and what Cary Grant deemed perfect comic timing to bring a smile to our lips. Happy Birthday, Irene Dunne! Wherever you are, it's a much classier place for your presence.