Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 04
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.


More Flashbacks
Five Graves to Cairo May 4, 1943
Five Graves to Cairo opens

After the success of his directorial debut with The Major and The Minor, writer-director Billy Wilder was given a bit of freedom in choosing his next film.

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May 4, 1972
Play It Again, Sam plays

Today in 1972, Woody Allen got romantic advice from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart in yet another film that confirmed the bespectacled neurotic as an unlikely rising star. Play It Again, Sam, based on a play by Allen and originally called Aspirin for Three, was, in some senses, the most straightforwardly commercial film of Allen’s career so far.

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