Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 21
Bud Cort March 29, 1950
Bud Cort born

In New Rochelle, New York, on this day in 1948, the strange and unique life of Bud Cort began. Born Walter Edward Cox, Cort – the son of a former bandleader father and a mother who once worked for MGM – found himself drawn to acting from an incredibly young age: “I had no choice. I had to act,” he said once. “I could memorize anything plus I only felt comfortable and safe on stage.” A talented artist who spent numerous hours in his teens painting people’s portraits at county fairs, Cort went to study Design at New York University in the late 60s, but in the Big Apple the smell of greasepaint proved irresistible to him. He started taking acting lessons, getting work in commercials and small TV and movie parts, and quit NYU in 1969. That coincided with him being cast as Private Boone in the classic anti-war farce M*A*S*H, after director Robert Altman had discovered Cort performing in a comedy revue. Altman was so impressed that he made Cort the eponymous lead in his next movie, Brewster McCloud, about a boy who dreams of being able to fly. Cort then won the career-defining role of death-obsessed Harold in Hal Ashby's cult hit Harold and Maude. A critical failure which was discovered and brought back from the dead by avid fans at double bills and midnight movies, the film proved a double edged sword for Cort: he was so good as Harold that casting directors never saw him as anyone else. "I've had my moments where I just cursed that movie and wished I'd never done it," he once said.


More Flashbacks
Rocky November 21, 1976
Rocky premieres

Though Rocky, released November 21, 1976, tells the great underdog story of Rocky Balboa, the tale of how the movie got made is arguably an even more inspirational example of an outsider beating unthinkably long odds.

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November 21, 1944
Harold Ramis born

Harold Ramis, born today in 1944 in Chicago, is the kind of director that Hollywood loves.

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November 21, 1924
Scandal at Sea

On 21 November 1924, Hollywood’s elite, such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford, gathered to bury Thomas Ince, the man who’d practically founded the studio system. After working for years as a silent film actor, he graduated to director, engineering an assembly line procedure that became the prototype for studio productions. Ince put his theories of production into practice in 1912 when he found his own studio “Inceville” –– which later moved to Culver City to become Culver Studios –– and started to churn out western after western. But in November 18, 1924, at the young age of 41, Ince died of acute indigestion on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht Oneida. Or so the death certificate said. But many attending his funeral on November 21 believe something else happened, something Hearst’s absence all but confirmed. The story being whispered about town was that Hearst killed Ince by accident. Believing that Chaplin was having an affair with his mistress Marion Davies on his own yacht, Hearst had taken a shot at a man he believed to be the little tramp, only to discover afterwards that he had fatally shot Ince in the head. The rumors grew so fierce that the San Diego District Attorney was forced to open up an investigation, but by that time there was little evidence to examine, and no one willing to talk. One possible witness, entertainment reporter Louella Parsons, remembered nothing. Of course, immediately after the trip Parsons had coincidently been promoted from Hollywood reporter to nationally syndicated columnist, thus initiating her own dynasty. (The suspected murder was dramatized years later in Peter Bogdanovich’s 2001 drama The Cat’s Meow).

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