December 20 1898-September 4 1990
It's because of stars like Irene Dunne that I don't have much faith in the Academy Awards AKA the "Oscars". This beautiful and talented woman was nominated a total of five times and yet never won once. While I certainly don't believe that the worth/talent of a actor/actress is defined by a gold statuette of a man, I do think that it was a shame that she was not recgonised at least once by the academy for the contributions she made to film, at least not until after death.
But, whatever. I guess you can't change the past... Despite not winning an Oscar, Irene Dunne is still hailed by critics and the public alike as one of the finest actresses from her era. I personally am relatively new to Irene Dunne. I know, I know. You're all probably wondering, how the hell I missed this talented woman in a ll my years of obsessive watching of old cinema? Truth is I have no idea. In all the classics she has starred in, you would hve thought that I would have come across her before last year, but no.
I first saw Irene Dunne in Penny Serenade when I was about sixteen and a half. The movie starring Cary Grant also was a touching look at a newlywed couple who unable to have a baby of their own due to a tragic accident, decide to adopt. The film though towards the end especially can ''jump'' (for lack of better word) over certain things hurriedly, is a very touching and beautifully acted movie. When I first saw it on ABC at one o'clock in the morning, I was touched. I of course already knew who Cary Grant was, but this woman, the woman who played his wife- she was so touching in her scenes and every word she uttered I believed with all my heart and soul. She was good, I had decided. And mentally stored her name in my brain to IMDB later- except I didn't.
I'm ashamed to say I crawled to bed that night and very nearly forgot the movie Penny Serenade and the actress Irene Dunne in it. It was not until my mum came home a few months later with some cheap old classic dvds for me, that I remembered. Mum bought home ''Penny Serenade" "Life with father" and "The Awful Truth." All starring Irene Dunne, and suddenly it all clicked.
It was like a sign from old hollywood- that I HAD to know who Irene Dunne was.And I was only too happy to oblige.
I still have yet to see a lot of her films only a few that I have outlined but my fascination with this woman keeps growing. Perhaps it's because she didn't exactly fit the mold of exact perfection expected back then (back then? who am I kidding, it's STILL expected now). She was beautiful, but she was also slightly older then what was usually expected of a star and she had what people like Lana Turner only dreamt off; Talent. Talent that saw her through a long and celebrated career. She wasn't afraid to show her vulnerable side, she was willing to take risks, she was in short the epitome of what every good actress should be.
And even though she didn't win an Oscar while alive, she managed to win the public's hearts- back then, now and forever will as long as there is obsessive people like us clinging to the golden era of Hollywood, to respect and admire her. :)