Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Barbara Steele Day"

An 8 1/2 fan of my web acquaintance has declared today "Barbara Steele Day," in honor of her 72nd birthday. I'll go along with that, except to say that in my horror-loving house every day is "Barbara Steele Day"--so beautiful, so cruel, in a number of classics and cult hits from the 60s to the 80s, from Black Sunday and The Pit and the Pendulum to Piranha and Silent Scream. Truth be told, I'm not much of an 8 1/2 admirer, feeling that it marked Fellini's descent into dull pageantry--but Steele brings her special something to her brief role, which is pictured. (I'm not sure there's an equivalent to her in Nine; then again, how could there be?)

Fans can really Steele themselves tomorrow, as the Chiller channel presents an all-day marathon of episodes of the prime-time version of Dark Shadows, which had a brief run in 1991. Too bad, as it's quite good. I discovered it while channel surfing a week or two ago (I was living overseas back then and was pretty much ignorant of it) and look forward to recording the episodes I missed. Steele had her biggest acting role in years in the show, as the physician attending to Barnabas Collins the vampire (a full-blooded performance by Ben Cross), and hasn't done all that much since. (She's listed as a producer of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but I'm not sure that's accurate; she did, however, win an Emmy with Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis for producing War and Remembrance in the golden age of TV miniseries in the 80s. Joining Steele for this gratifyingly large assignment on the short-lived show were Jean Simmons, Roy Thinnes, Lysette Anthony...and, a big surprise for me, nine-year-old Joseph Gordon-Levitt, well before Third Rock from the Sun and his current, well-earned It Actor status. Surrounded by such a coven of talent so young no wonder he's turned out as well as he has.

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