Sabu is born in Karapur, Mysore, India, 1924. At age 12, the elephant stable boy attracted the attention of director Robert J. Flaherty, who cast him in the title role in Elephant Boy (1937). A natural in front of the camera, Sabu was quickly awarded a contract with Alexander Korda and grew popular in the forties with the films The Thief of Bagdad (1940) and Jungle Book (1942). His acting influence even stretched to a movie he wasn’t actually in. For Gunga Din, director George Stevens wanted Sabu for the pivotal title role, an idea quashed when Korda refused to loan him out for the 1939 RKO release. The part instead went to Sam Jaffe (an actor 33 years older than Sabu), who was well aware of Stevens’s first choice. Jaffe’s audition was an exercise in channeling the Indian youngster, with Jaffe’s mantra during the shoot becoming, “Think Sabu.”
Donna Reed is born in Denison, Iowa, 1921. She projected wholesomeness and Midwestern good sense in film after film until she was cast against type in From Here to Eternity (1953), playing a prostitute who romances Montgomery Clift (above, with Reed). If her character was a little too refined, blame the Hays Office, who kept a sharp eye on screenwriter Daniel Taradash’s adaptation of James Jones’s racy, robust novel. Like many spicy tomes of the times, the book was considered unfilmable, and Taradash, assigned to scrub up the story for polite audiences, reached a creative impasse. The breakthrough came while he was under the influence of a local anesthetic for a sore tooth he experienced during a drive through the southern United States. In the end, Taradash delivered a script that simultaneously retained the power of the book and appeased the censors. On Oscar night, From Here to Eternity won eight awards, including Best Picture, Fred Zinnemann for Best Director, Frank Sinatra for Best Supporting Actor, Taradash for Best Writing and—as one of the loveliest whores on the silver screen—Donna Reed for Best Supporting Actress.