Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
Sigourney Weaver October 8, 1949
Sigourney Weaver Born

Weaver was born Susan Alexander Weaver in New York City on October 8, 1949 into a true entertainment family. Her mother was an English-born actress and her father, a TV executive, was at one time the president of NBC. Despite growing up among affluence and privilege, she remained a very private person. After her family moved to San Francisco, she asked to be sent back East to attend the prestigious Ethel Walker school in Simsbury, Connecticut. A voracious reader and remarkably bright, Weaver was often ostracized because of her height and reserved behavior. Desiring a new identity, she renamed herself Sigourney after a character in The Great Gatsby. She later commented, “To my ear, Sigourney was a stage name…long and curvy." To go with her stage name, she needed an acting career. While she started performing in high school, she ended up studying English literature at Stanford University, reserving her dramatic urges to off-campus, local productions. But after college, she turned whole-heartedly to the stage, enrolling in the Yale School of Drama, where she competed with her classmate Meryl Streep for parts. Despite her beauty, grace and intelligence, Weaver had a hard time getting cast since many directors and casting agents considered her too tall. In 1978, nearly 30 years old, her career seemed to be going nowhere when she received a call to meet producer Walter Hill about a sci-fi thriller. She recalls that the thought of playing opposite a “blob of yellow jelly" was so unappealing that "I didn't want to play this awful part in this awful movie.” But the part of Lt. Ellen Ripley in the film ALIEN changed her life. In 1986, she would receive her first Oscar nomination for that film’s sequel ALIENS. Indeed from being un-castable, Weaver went on to deliver remarkable performances in both comedies, like GHOSTBUSTERS and WORKING GIRL, and serious dramas, like THE ICE STORM and THE GUYS.


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December 2, 1945
Penelope Spheeris born

On this day in 1945, director Penelope Spheeris was born in New Orleans.

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December 2, 1988
The Naked Gun Hits Its Target

It is relatively common these days for TV shows to be adapted into movies, but most often those films were based on successful and much-loved – not to mention long-running – series. However, in the case of The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, which was released today in 1988, the movie in question was the spawn of a TV show, Police Squad!, that had been cancelled by ABC in 1982 after only four episodes were aired. The spoof 70s style police show, however, gained cult status on the back of its silly humor, slapstick antics and intentional continuity errors. Indeed, it had such a Lazarus-like recovery to its reputation that its creators, Airplane's Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker, were given the opportunity by Paramount to make a feature about Leslie Nielsen's bumbling cop, Lt. Frank Drebin. Audiences responded enthusiastically to the film's inane antics and ridiculous plotlines and the movie became a massive success, raking in nearly $80m at the box office and spawning two further sequels – also starring Nielsen, and regular co-stars George Kennedy, Priscilla Presley and O.J. Simpson – both of which also were incredibly popular. The third installment, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, was released in 1994, however the franchise's success is such that Paramount is reportedly considering bringing back the characters for another outing produced by their DTV division (though probably without the involvement of Abrahams, the Zucker brothers or Nielsen).

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