Friday, August 26, 2011

Peter Lawford.

Peter Lawford(7 September 1923 – 24 December 1984). He was a member of the "Rat Pack", and brother-in-law to President John F. Kennedy. In the late 1930s through the 1950s) he was very popular and starred in many films.

Once he signed with MGM, his mother, Lady Lawford, wanted the studio head Louis B. Mayer, to hire her as her son's personal assistant. Mayer, did not agree to her terms. Lady Lawford, said her son needed to be "supervised." When Lawford learned of his mother's actions their relationship was never the same.

Lawford's, first movie role was at age seven in the film, Poor Old Bill (1930). Eight years later, he made his Hollywood debut in, Lord Jeff. His first major movie role was, A Yank At Eton (1942), where he played a snobbish bully with Mickey Rooney. Lawford, also made uncredited appearances as an RAF pilot in, Mrs. Miniver (1942) and as a sailor in Sherlock Holmes, Faces Death (1943). In the film, The White Cliffs Of Dover (1944),  he played a young soldier in World War II. MGM gave him another important role in, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). Lawford also performed in, Son of Lassie (1945).

With Clark Gable and James Stewart, off to fight in the war, Lawford, was the most popular romantic lead on the MGM lot. Two of his films opened within days of each other: Cluny Brown (1946) and Two Sisters From Boston (1946). He also made his first comedy that same year, My Brother Talks To Horses (1947). He performed with Frank Sinatra for the first time in the musical, It Happened in Brooklyn (1947). Lawford, admitted that the most terrifying experience of his career was, the musical number he performed in the film, Good News (1947).

Please click here to view Good News review.

Lawford was given other important roles in MGM films over the next few years, including:

On an Island with You (1948). It is one of my favorite movies. Williams and Lawford are wonderful together and so are Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charisse. Especially, during their beautiful dance numbers. If you love happy and romantic musicals you'll love this movie. And don't forget.. we get to see Esther doing what she does best in beautiful water performances.

The story begins when Ricardo Montez, who is playing the part of a Navy man in love with a Polynesian woman, played by his fiancee, Rosalind. They hired Lawrence a Navy Lieutenant, as technical adviser, to help the director on the film's authenticity. During the filming of one of Rosalind and Ricardo's love scenes, Larry interrupts the shooting to take the opportunity to kiss Rosalind .

That evening, at the Royal Aloha hotel, the cast and crew attend a nightclub show performed by Xavier Cugat and his orchestra. Larry, finds another opportunity to get close to Rosalind, and asks her to dance. She refuses thinking that he is too forward.

The next day, Larry is to circle the set once in an airplane with Rosalind on board, but he flies the plane to the tropical island where they first met. Larry wants one dance with her before he returns her to the set. Rosalind, says she will kiss him to prove that she has no feelings for him, but the kiss shows that she is an attracted to Larry. When Larry and Rosalind return to the airplane, they find that the wheels and other parts have been stolen by the islanders. The two set out to find the natives village, but become separated. Will they be rescued before the natives have them for dinner? (wink/wink). I love the dance numbers with Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charisse.

Easter Parade (1948), Don Hewes and Nadine Hale are a dancing team, but she wants a career on her own. So he chooses, Hannah Brown, as a new partner. It is not long before Florence Ziegfeld, is interested in the new team, but... Nadine Hale, dances in the Ziegfeld Follies, so Don refuses. Don, is in now in love with Hannah, but, plans t keep it strictly business for now. Hannah, still believes that he is in love with Nadine, when he dances with her in a Night Club Show.

Little Women (1949). Meg, Josephine, Amy and Beth, all live with their mother, while their father serves with the Union army during the Civil War. Meg, is thought of as the second mother to the girls, while "Jo", the tomboy, takes on the role of man of the house. Amy, dreams of the good things in life, and Beth, the youngest and frailest of the four, loves to play the piano. A beautiful film of four young girls coming into womanhood.

It Should Happen to You (1954). Gladys Glover, has just lost her modelling job when she meets filmmaker Pete Sheppard shooting a documentary in Central Park. For Pete it's love at first sight, but Gladys has her mind on making a name for herself. Before she knows it,her name is plastered over town. Suddenly, all of New York, is clamoring for Gladys Glover, without knowing why and playboy Evan Adams III, is making a play for Gladys, that even Pete knows will be hard to beat.

Please click here to read: It Should Happen To You, movie review.

The casino film, Ocean’s Eleven (1960) was a project Lawford first brought to Sinatra's attention. It became the first film to feature all of the "Rat Pack" members Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Lawford.

Lawford's later films include: The Longest Day (1962), and a role as a United States Senator in, Advise and Consent (1962). In 1961, Lawford and his manager Milt Ebbins formed Chrislaw Productions, which was named after his son Christopher Lawford and produced the 1963 action film, Johnny Cool, starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery. He would go on to produce the 1965 Patty Duke film Billie, and his two films with fellow Rat Pack member Sammy Davis, Jr.: Salt and Pepper and One More Time.

He performed in, They Only Kill Their Masters (1972). Lawford's, last role was as Montague Chippendale in the comedy, Where's Parsifal (1983).

Personal Quote:

Explaining his disillusionment with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he made his first films." Metro was really a star-builder, no doubt about that. You were wrapped in cotton wool. ... I was encouraged to emulate Robert Taylor, who came to the studio every day of his life in a pinstripe suit and pressed shirt with a pin through the collar. They were very high on pins through the collar".


  1. Dawn - I read the book Peter Lawford's son wrote a few years ago. His father's late years were not pretty, so it's nice to be reminded of his promise as a young actor and some of the better films he was in. I always try to catch "It Should Happen to You" when it airs - Lawford with the amazing Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon in his first credited film role.

  2. I loved the on screen chemistry between, Peter Lawford, Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon. This film maybe my favorite Judy Holliday performance. I also... would like to read the book that Peter Lawford's son wrote. To learn more about him.


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