By Steve Fjeldsted
Sunset Boulevard, the 1950 noir classic starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden—who grew up in South Pasadena—will be screened in the South Public Library Community Room on Thursday, Sept. 26 starting at 7 p.m.
Directed by the legendary Billy Wilder, the film features Swanson and Holden in their most iconic roles. The superlative supporting cast includes Nancy Olson, Jack Webb, and Erich von Stroheim. Legions of critics and audiences alike still consider Sunset Boulevard one of the Top 10 Hollywood films ever made. Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won three, including Best Screenplay.
William Franklin Beedle, Jr., later to be known the world over as William Holden, was born in 1918 in O’Fallon, a small town in Illinois. When he was a boy, his parents bought a business in Monrovia, CA, and the family moved to South Pasadena. Bill became a popular student at South Pasadena High School, where he played football and basketball. After graduation he enrolled at Pasadena Junior College, later to be called Pasadena City College, and became interested in acting.
While still a relative unknown, Holden nailed the Sunset Boulevard role of screenwriter Joe Gillis and catapulted straight to the top of the list of Hollywood leading men. In 1953 Holden won the Oscar for Best Actor for Stalag 17, also directed by Billy Wilder, and by 1956 he was the top box office attraction in the United States.
When his acceptance speech consisted solely of “Thank you,” some believed it was because he felt snubbed for being overlooked for his virtuoso performance in Sunset Boulevard. Overdue or not, the award led Holden to a string of star turns in blockbuster films in a legendary career consisting of more than 70 major motion pictures. Holden’s captivating screen presence and All-American looks made him a favorite of millions of fans.
Famed actress and author Stefanie Powers, fondly remembered for both the Hart to Hart and Girl From U.N.C.L.E. TV shows, will deliver a tribute to Holden, who she devotes a chapter to in her memoir, “One from the Hart.” Stefanie is currently the president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation. Stefanie’s latest star turn, “Reading, Writing, and Romance” aired on the Hallmark Channel on Aug. 10, 2013. Los Angeles historian Tom Zimmerman will introduce Sunset Boulevard and his critical perspective.
CommCinema will provide professional projection services and a huge screen for this free event presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and South Pasadena Community Services.
The Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro St. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are necessary. Refreshments will be served. Special thanks to Kathy Bartels, Friends of the Rialto, Paramount Pictures, and Videotheque of South Pasadena.
Steve Fjeldsted is the City Librarian at South Pasadena Public Library.