Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 21
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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Bela Tarr July 21, 1955
Bela Tarr born

In the world of contemporary art cinema, certain director names have a kind of talismanic power, signifying more than just a specific person, a specific body of work, and even a specific style.

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July 21, 1985
Actor Rock Hudson collapses

A disease forces Rock Hudson to come out.

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21 July 1964
The Film's the Thing

This week in 1964, two titans of 20th Century culture, one from the world of theatre and one from silent film, joined together on an unlikely cinematic enterprise.

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