Here are 10 things you should know about Willie Best, born 110 years ago today. Like other Black actors of his time, his range of roles was limited but he forged an enduring legacy in Hollywood.
Here are 10 things you should know about Charles Farrell, born 121 years ago today. Tall, dark and handsome, he was the cinematic ideal to millions of starry-eyed movie fans in the 1920s and ’30s.
For our money, the world would be better off if every day had a touch of film noir to it. So when a skin screening at a new (to us) dermatologist’s office took a noir-ish twist, we couldn’t have been more pleased.
Allow us to explain.
The doctor in question is named Robert Buka. As we said, this was our first visit with him, so we knew little about him, but after being led to an examination room and changing into an open-front gown, we found ourselves with time to kill (45 minutes, to be precise) as we waited for Dr. Buka to appear.
After playing a couple of games of Yahtzee on our iPhone and checking in on Facebook, our eyes—and our attention—began to wander. And what should we come across on the exam room wall, but the very compelling movie poster pictured on the right.
Noticing an actor by the name of Donald Buka on the poster, we guessed that maybe a friend of the good doctor’s had noticed the name and gifted him with it. (If ever any of our friends came across an old movie poster with our last name in the credits, we hope they would do the same.)
But then we noticed a pair of framed black-and-white photos that didn’t look like typical snapshots—they might even be movie stills (we’re not sure of that), so we got to thinking it might be Donald Buka who was picture in those photos, which led us to wonder further: What if Donald Buka was a relative of Dr. Robert?
Turning again to our trusting iPhone, we looked up his name at IMDB.com, and sure enough, Donald had a nice long career, with extensive credits in 1950s and ’60s television. Donald appeared in at least three films noir: Stolen Identity (1953), The Street with No Name (1948), which also features such notables as Richard Widmark, Lloyd Nolan, Mark Stevens and Ed Begley, and Between Midnight and Dawn, with Stevens again, plus Edmond O’Brien and Gale Storm, among others. Though we’ve never seen Stolen Identity (we are now resolved to do so a.s.a.p.), we have seen The Street with No Name and Between Midnight and Dawn, and figured it might please Dr. Buka to know this if, in fact, Donald proved to be a relative.
When Dr. Buka made his entrance, the first thing we asked was about the poster and the photos, and sure enough, Donald was indeed his father. Dr. Buka seemed pleased that we asked and that we had seen a couple of his father’s movies.
Dr. Buka told us that his dad considered himself a serious actor and preferred the theater to movies or televsion, that he wasn’t all that proud of him accomplishments in those realms, but we beg to differ.
There’s no real point or big finish to this story; we just got a small kick out of the fact that our skin screening included a two-degree separation from a successful, if perhaps not quite famous, actor from the Cladrite Era. As we’ve admitted in this space before, it really takes so little to make us happy.