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Hollywood Voices from the BBC Archives

The BBC have released a lot of their audio and visual archives online and it includes many interviews with Hollywood legends.

The BBC have released a lot of their audio and visual archives online and it includes a treasure trove of  interviews with Hollywood legends.

The scope is pretty breathtaking and includes interviews with icons such as Charlie Chaplin, Rita Hayworth, John Huston, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn.

Of particular note are those we don’t often hear on the TV or radio, such as Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford and Boris Karloff.

Here is an index of the current available interviews, which you can listen to by clicking on the relevant links below.

1950s

  • Charlie Chaplin (1952): A ’round table’ interview with a reluctant genius. [20 mins]
  • Mary Pickford & Gloria Swanson (1955): A glimpse into the lives of two stars of the silent screen. [29 mins]
  • Rita Hayworth (1956): Hayworth is interviewed about her latest film [4 mins]
  • John Huston (1959): In conversation with the director of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941)  [28 mins]
  • Errol Flynn (1959): Flynn tries to persuade John Ellison to get his cheque book out.

1960s

  • Gary Cooper (1961): Gary Cooper explains why acting is not as easy as it looks. [2 mins]
  • Sidney Poitier (1961): The ground-breaking actor on his life and work. (6 mins)
  • Buster Keaton (1961) A conversation with the dead-pan comedian of the silent-movie era. [13 mins]
  • Edward G Robinson (1962): The Hollywood ‘heavy’ describes his love for beautiful things. [4 mins]
  • Bette Davis (1963): In conversation with Hollywood’s most feisty star. [30 mins]
  • John Wayne (1964): What makes a good Western? [3 mins]
  • Groucho Marx (1964): The Marx Brother keeps the laughs coming during a London press conference. (24 mins)
  • Boris Karloff (1965): Playing cinema’s most iconic monster. [3 mins]
  • Joan Crawford (1965): How a screen legend regards her adoring fans. [6 mins]
  • Maureen O’Sullivan (1966): ‘It’s better to be remembered as Tarzan’s mate than not be remembered at all.’ [14 mins]
  • Orson Welles (1968): The director, writer and actor answers a few questions. [3 mins]
  • Veronica Lake (1969): Lake talks about old-school Hollywood glamour. [6 mins]
  • Danny Kaye (1969): The varied career of the all-round entertainer. [23 mins]
  • Bing Crosby (1969): A chat with the cool crooner. [11 mins]

1970s

  • Cyd Charisse (c. 1971): The elegant dancer appraises Vincente Minnelli. [5 mins]
  • Alfred Hitchcock (1972): How the master of suspense applies music to his pictures. [13 mins]
  • Yul Brynner (1972): Getting to know Yul Brynner. [7 mins]
  • Fred Astaire (c. 1974): The actor and dancer describes his journey to box-office success. [79 mins]
  • Ginger Rogers (1974): Fred Astaire’s most celebrated co-star talks about their world-famous partnership. [63 mins]
  • Howard Hawks (c. 1974): The director discusses his films and working with Samuel Goldwyn. [52 mins]
  • Lena Horne (c. 1974): A trail-blazing career from the Harlem stage to Hollywood. [28 mins]
  • Stanley Donen (c. 1974): The director and choreographer describes working with Fred Astaire. [41 mins]
  • Merle Oberon (1974): Behind the scenes on ‘Wuthering Heights’. [13 mins]
  • Bob Hope (c. 1975): The early career of the funny man. [15 mins]
  • Deborah Kerr (1975): How ‘From Here to Eternity’ was just the beginning. [30 mins]
  • Donald O’Connor (c. 1975): How they ‘lived a lifetime’ on ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. [66 mins]
  • Gene Kelly (c. 1975): The energetic dancer on revolutionising the Hollywood musical. [70 mins]
  • Howard Keel (c. 1975): The rugged star of iconic Hollywood musicals speaks frankly about his career. [51 mins]
  • Joan Blondell (c. 1975): The ‘tough broad’ singer of ‘Remember My Forgotten Man’ recalls the early days of Hollywood. [16 mins]
  • Ray Bolger (c. 1975): The star of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ talks about the early days of Hollywood. [45 mins]
  • Ruby Keeler (c. 1975): Ruby Keeler talks about a career that began in the 1920s. [23 mins]
  • Henry Fonda (1975): In conversation with the legendary father of an acting dynasty. [16 mins]
  • Harold Lloyd (1976): It was hard work, but it was fun. [14 mins]
  • Robert Mitchum (1977): A brief interview with the actor about his latest film, ‘The Big Sleep’ [2 mins].
  • Billy Wilder (c. 1978) From ‘The Seven Year Itch’ to ‘Sunset Boulevard’. [46 mins]
  • Dorothy Lamour (c. 1978): The original ‘sarong girl’ talks about her Hollywood heyday. [28 mins]
  • George Sidney (c. 1978): The director of ‘Show Boat’ talks about getting Hollywood singing and dancing. [37 mins]
  • Glenn Ford (c. 1978): Memories of working at Columbia Studios under Harry Cohn. [44 mins]
  • James Stewart (c. 1978): One of Hollywood’s most enduring stars defends the ‘studio system’. [16 mins]
  • Joan Fontaine (c. 1978): The star of ‘Rebecca’ recalls the moguls of Hollywood. [23 mins]
  • Joseph Mankiewicz (c. 1978): The director of ‘All About Eve’ (1950) compares old and new Hollywood. [16 mins]
  • King Vidor (c. 1978): Pioneer film director King Vidor looks back on his Hollywood career. [26 mins]
  • Mickey Rooney (c. 1978): Mickey Rooney reflects on the movie moguls who influenced his career. [30 mins]
  • Sammy Cahn (c. 1979): The Oscar-winning composer and lyricist remembers some of the great studio bosses. [28 mins]#
  • Walter Pidgeon (c. 1979): Walter Pidgeon remembers Louis B Mayer. [41 mins]
  • Lauren Bacall (1979): Life without Bogart and a new career on Broadway. [21 mins]

1980s

  • Ingrid Bergman (1980): The star of ‘Casablanca’ recalls her life in movies and on the stage. [32 mins]
  • Charlton Heston (c. 1981): On Cecil B DeMille and working the ‘studio system’. [59 mins]
  • Cornel Wilde (c. 1981): From ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ (1952) to independent pictures. [58 mins]
  • William Wyler (c. 1981): Hollywood the hard way for the legendary film-maker. [97 mins]
  • Vincent Sherman (1981): Directing Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Errol Flynn. [96 mins]
  • Frank Capra (1981): It’s a wonderful life for a movie director. [58 mins]
  • George Cukor (1981): The famous ‘woman’s director’ talks about his leading ladies. [9 mins]
  • James Cagney (1982): Acting: ‘It’s just a job.’ [3 mins]
  • Louise Brooks (1982): The silent-movie queen talks about acting. [1 min]
  • Jack Lemmon (1982): The double Oscar-winner in conversation about his career in films. [12 mins]
  • Miklos Rozsa (1984): In conversation with the prolific cinematic composer. [15 mins]
  • Kirk Douglas (1988): Why do men always have to be ‘macho’? [11 mins]
  • Shirley Temple (1988): Dimples, dancing lessons and J Edgar Hoover’s very comfortable lap. [4 mins]
  • Gregory Peck (1989): The actor and humanitarian recalls his most famous roles. [25 mins]

1990s

  • Stewart Granger (1990): Stewart Granger in conversation with Gloria Hunniford. [24 mins]
  • Fay Wray (1990): Why is ‘King Kong’ still so popular? [8 mins]
  • Katharine Hepburn (1991): Corinne Julius meets Hollywood’s ‘independent woman’. [16 mins]
  • Tony Curtis (1994): The irrepressible Tony Curtis in conversation with Nicky Campbell. [14 mins]
  • Doris Day (1995): A career in romance and the recovery of a lost album. [81 mins]

2000s-

  • Debbie Reynolds (2010): Catching up with the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ star. [11 mins]

> BBC Archive and follow them on Twitter
> Photo galleries of stars at the BBC 1930-1950 and 1950-70
> James Bond archive at the BBC

By Ambrose Heron

Editor of FILMdetail

2 replies on “Hollywood Voices from the BBC Archives”

I very much want to hear the Ruby Keeler interview, but it says, “not available in your area”. Will this be available for US listeners?

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