You have questions. I have some answers.
Question: I would like to know actress Gloria Stuart’s age when she starred in the 1997 “Titanic” movie (by the way the greatest movie ever made). I saw a 1930s movie, “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” with a very young Shirley Temple and a young actress named Gloria Stuart. I am very interested in Stuart’s career and life.
Answer: Stuart was 87 when “Titanic” premiered; the supporting-actress Oscar nomination she received for that film made her the oldest nominee for an acting Oscar. (She was passed by Christopher Plummer, who was 88 when nominated for supporting actor for “All the Money in the World.” Plummer also holds the title of oldest acting winner, for his role in “Beginners” when he was 82. But this is not a question about Plummer, so let’s move on.)
That was indeed the same Stuart in the 1938 film “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” one of many movies she made from 1932 to 1946. She then left acting, later saying that she was tired of being typecast as “girl reporter, girl detective, girl overboard.” She instead painted, designed and printed books and, according to the Los Angeles Times, made bonsai trees. She returned to acting in the 1970s, but it was her performance as Old Rose in “Titanic” that revived interest in her. That led to other roles, and an autobiography. She died in 2010 at the age of 100 – the same age as the Old Rose she had played in “Titanic.”
Q: I thought I knew everything about “Magnum, P.I.,” with Tom Selleck, but found out how wrong I am. I knew about his being married and his wife Michelle supposedly killed, then her being alive but married to someone else. I thought that was it. Then, watching reruns recently, I saw that Michelle came back with a little girl who turns out to be Magnum’s daughter. (She looked just like him.) Then Michelle really got killed and the little girl stayed with Magnum. I would love to know where the story went from there.
A: Not very far. It appears that you saw “Resolutions,” the two-part series finale from 1988. It ends with Magnum back in the Navy and finally with a shot of him and his daughter walking on the beach.
Q: What happened to the Chief on the show “Gimme a Break”? He was looking all sickly, then in one episode they held a tribute to him. Was it the character or the actor, Dolph Sweet, who was in a bad way?
A: It was Sweet. Playing the gruff police-chief boss to a housekeeper played by Nell Carter, Sweet died of cancer in May 1985 after four seasons on the series; he also reportedly missed several episodes in the third season because of stomach surgery. When the show came back for its fifth season, the Chief had also died.
Sweet, by the way, had an intriguing career beyond “Gimme a Break,” including Broadway and movie roles. The Los Angeles Times noted that his acting career began in a German prison camp during World War II “when his fellow POWs staged a one-act play. ... After the war he was trying to break into acting but instead accepted a job at Barnard (College) that 12 years later found him heading the college’s drama department.” But he did finally become a known actor.
Q: I saw a show one time when I was a kid and am trying to figure it out. A farmer – who looked to me like Pat Buttram from “Green Acres” – was obsessed with a local girl. When a couple of people visited him at his cabin, they noticed that the object in the jar had a ribbon on it, and a woman screamed that the object was the girl’s head! It could have been “The Outer Limits,” “One Step Beyond,” or something like that. It was creepy. Can you fill me in?
A: While you are off on some details, it’s clear you remember an episode of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” in 1964, aptly called “The Jar.” And yes, that was Pat Buttram in the main role. Based on a Ray Bradbury story, and directed by the legendary Norman Lloyd, with a supporting cast including James Best, Slim Pickens and George Lindsey, it is one of my favorite episodes from the anthology series.
Finally, you may recall my discussing the uncertain fate of the series “Sanditon” in a recent column. Several readers shared the following sentiment.
Q: No one needs a second season of this travesty. I have always loved “Masterpiece” productions, but I am sure Jane Austen is writhing in her grave at the very non-Austen completion of “Sanditon.” Did the person who completed this piece ever read Austen?
A: Andrew Davies, scriptwriter on “Sanditon,” is certainly familiar with Austen, having adapted several of her other works. But tastes vary. Maybe the Austen fans who disliked “Sanditon” will be happier with the new, big-screen version of “Emma.”