William Holden is born in O’Fallon, Illinois, 1918. In February of 1952, the actor reunited with his Sunset Blvd. director, Billy Wilder, for the film version of the stage play Stalag 17. It wasn’t an easy “yes” for Holden to get to, as he had seen the play—a comedy/drama about a motley group of POWs and their growing suspicion that one of them is an informer—and walked out after the first act. Charlton Heston was intended for the lead character of role of Sergeant J.J. Sefton; he dropped out when Sefton was made more cynical and less heroic. Kirk Douglas said he turned down the role because, like Holden, he didn’t like the play. Ultimately, Holden was forced by Paramount to take the part. For the year 1953, William Holden took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Sefton.
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Buster Keaton is born in Piqua, Kansas, 1895. “Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot,” the actor/director once said. His comic genius was firmly established during the silent era in films he had complete artistic control over—Sherlock Jr. (1924), The General (1927) and Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) among the best of them. A move to MGM resulted in one more gem, The Cameraman (1928), before studio interference afffected the quality of his films and drove him to drink. Eleanor Norris, his third wife, got him off the booze, and he continued to work in movies and telelvision. He had a memorable cameo as himself in Sunset Blvd. (1950) playing bridge with Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), the real life Anna Q. Nilsson and H. B. Warner. He added a poignant touch to Charlie Chaplin's Limelight (1952). And he executed a masterful pratfall onto a supposedly rare Stradivarius violin in In the Good Old Summertime (1948).