Saturday, November 10, 2007
Star of the month Peter Lawford
One of Hollywood's most sought after bachelors, Lawford was romantically linked to almost every Hollywood sex goddess of the 1940s (including Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, and Rita Hayworth) before marrying Patricia Kennedy, daughter of Joseph Kennedy and sister of John F.
Almost impossibly handsome young lead in war dramas, comedies and musicals of the late 1940s and early 1950s, Lawford lived an equally glamorous off-screen life as one of Hollywood's most desirable playboys, and, in the 1960s, as the link between Frank Sinatra's Hollywood "Rat Pack" and the political glamour of brother-in-law of John F.
Lawford's father was a knighted World War I veteran who became an actor after he retired. Lawford's film debut was at age eight in the British film Poor Old Bill (1931) followed by a role in Lord Jeff (1938). Lawford grew to be a handsome and suave young man, who was being groomed for stardom by MGM in the 1940s. Lawford was the first actor to kiss Elizabeth Taylor on camera, and the last to speak to Marilyn Monroe before she died. Lawford also organized the famous 1962 birthday party for John F. Kennedy in Madison Square Garden where Monroe sang "Happy Birthday" to the President.
After an unconventional, nomadic childhood spent in the company of his aristocratic British parents, Lawford arrived in Hollywood in 1940 and quickly filled the void that WWII had left in the ranks of romantic young male leads. With his clipped accent, aristocratic good manners and charm, and boyish athleticism, Lawford was quickly signed by MGM to play young British soldiers in a series of patriotic features, and by the War's end rose to the romantic lead or second lead in numerous first-rate studio productions including "Good News" (1947), "Easter Parade" (1948), "Little Women" (1949), and "Royal Wedding" (1951).
Lawford was part of the famous Hollywood "Rat Pack," and performed with the group in Las Vegas and in films, including Ocean's Eleven and Sergeants Three. Lawford and Sinatra had a falling out in 1961 over brother-in-law Robert Kennedy's objections to Sinatra's alleged Mafia connections, and the two men never spoke again.
With the deaths of John and Robert Kennedy, his divorce from Patricia Kennedy and his falling out with the "Rat Pack", Lawford was regarded by the end of the 1960s as a charming lightweight personality, famous for being famous .