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Claire Bloom To Be Honored At Fort Lauderdale Film Festival

 

The 25th edition of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) comes to a climax this weekend. Among the special events is a hommage to English stage and screen actress Claire Bloom, who will receive a Career Achievement Award on Saturday evening for her 60 years in show business. The Festival, centered at the Cinema Paradiso art theater, will screen the actress' film debut, a role for which she won a BAFTA Award as Best Newcomer. She was chosen to play the crippled ballerina who comes into the life of a middle-aged music hall veteran whose world is shrinking as entertainment tastes changed. That veteran is played by the legendary Charles Chaplin, who also wrote, directed, scored and edited the much admired LIMELIGHT (1952). As a special late night treat on Saturday, the Festival will also screen THE HAUNTING (1963), a classic ghost story directed by Oscar winning director Robert Wise.

Bloom was born in 1931 in the North London suburb of Finchley. Her paternal grandparents, originally named Blumenthal, as well as her maternal grandparents, originally named Griewski, were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. After training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Central School of Speech and Drama, Bloom made her debut on BBC radio programs. She made her stage debut in 1946, when she was 15, with the Oxford Repertory Theatre. Her London stage debut was in 1947 in the hit Christopher Fry play THE LADY’S NOT FOR BURNING, which also featured the young Richard Burton and starred John Gielgud. The following year, she received great acclaim for her portrayal of Ophelia in HAMLET, the first of many works by William Shakespeare in which Bloom would appear. Her stage career in both London and New York have included such masterworks as LOOK BACK IN ANGER, A DOLL’S HOUSE, RASHOMON and as Blanche in the Tennessee Williams play A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.

  

 

Bloom made her film debut in small role in the British film THE BLIND GODDESS (1948), but her next role was the one that catapulted her to international stardom. In 1952, she was chosen by legendary filmmaker Charlie Chaplin to appear in his film LIMELIGHT. For the next two decades, she starred in a number of "costume" epics, including roles in ALEXANDER THE GREAT, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, THE BUCCANEER and THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM. However her most memorable performances were in high profile dramas, including Laurence Olivier's film version of Shakespeare’s RICHARD III, THE OUTRAGE (with Paul Newman and Laurence Harvey), THE CHAPMAN REPORT, THE HAUNTING and CHARLY.

 

She starred opposite Richard Burton in the filmed version of the ground-breaking theater hit LOOK BACK IN ANGER and the Cold War thriller THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. More recently, she appeared in two films by Woody Allen: CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and MIGHTY APHRODITE. She has won several Emmy awards for her television work, including her terrific portrayal of Lady Marchmain in the mini-series BRIDESHEAD REVISTED and her BAFTA Award winning role in SHADOWLANDS.

 

She has also had a rather legendary personal life. Bloom has married three times. Her first marriage, in 1959, was to actor Rod Steiger, whom she had met when they both performed in the play RASHOMON on Broadway. Their daughter is opera singer Anna Steiger, Bloom's only child. Steiger and Bloom divorced in 1969. In that same year, she married producer Hillard Elkins. The marriage lasted three years and the couple divorced in 1972. Bloom's third marriage in 1990 was to celebrated writer Philip Roth, but the couple divorced in 1995.

  

Bloom has written two memoirs about her life and career. The first, Limelight and After: The Education of an Actress, was released in 1982 and was an in-depth look at her career and the film and stage roles she had portrayed. Her second book, Leaving a Doll's House: A Memoir, was published in 1996, and went into greater details about her personal life, including details about her marriages and her romantic relationships with Richard Burton and Laurence Olivier. However, it is her achievements on the stage and on the screen, both big and small, that will be celebrated on Saturday evening in Fort Lauderdale.

 

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Circuit Editor

 

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Coverage of the world of film festivals on the international film festival circuit.


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