An A-Z of Actors: K

Lots of choices in this letter. Please add your own favourites in the comments, as long as the surname begins with ‘K’. As usual, I have tried to avoid the most obvious names.

Despite her relatively short career, I have to start with the lovely Ruby Keeler. This Broadway dancer made her name in Ziegfeld productions, and was soon snapped up by Hollywood. She was a delight to watch, and always brought a great sense of fun to anything she appeared in. Her famous starring roles were in the wonderful ’42nd Street’, ‘Gold Diggers of 1933’, and ‘Footlight Parade’, all released in 1933. She made eight more films, before deciding to retire early, in 1941. For twelve years, she was married to musical star Al Jolson, who was more than twenty years older than her. They divorced in 1940. Ruby made a return to the limelight late in life, with film roles in 1970, and 1989, before her death in 1993.

If you have ever watched a Jean-Luc Godard film, then you will likely have seen Danish actress Anna Karina performing on screen. The former model was adored by the French director, and went on to appear in eight of his films, as well as being his lover for a time. During her long career, Anna has worked with some of the most influential film makers, including Agnes Varda, Roger Vadim, Visconti, and Fassbinder. Her career took off on the French New Wave, and she became an iconic face of the 1960s. From her first film in 1960, she went on to star in more than sixty films, many of which are internationally famous, such as ‘Bande a Part’ (1964), ‘Alphaville’ (1965), and ‘The Nun’ (1966). She also directed herself in films, and continues to be active to this day, aged 77.

British actor Michael Kitchen has enjoyed a long career on stage, screen and TV. Famous for his dramatic roles, and long-running TV series here, he has been working regularly since the early 1970s. His reserved style, clipped accent, and formal demeanour make him perfect for those ‘quintessentially English’ parts that he plays oh so very well. He will be known to those outside the UK for his many film roles too, including ‘Out Of Africa’ (1985), ‘The Russia House’ (1990), and ‘GoldenEye’ (1995). He was in a later James Bond film, ‘The World Is Not Enough’ (1999), and starred in the remake of ‘The Railway Children’ in 2000. For thirteen years, he appeared as Inspector Foyle, in the highly acclaimed wartime series, ‘Foyle’s War’ (2002-2015), which made him a household name here.

Nastassja Kinski is a German actress. Her father. Klaus Kinski, was an acting legend, for his collaborations with Werner Herzog. But his daughter carved out her own successful career, winning a Golden Globe for ‘Tess’ (1979) at the age of 18. She went on to star in the remake of ‘Cat People’ (1982), and the highly-acclaimed ‘Paris, Texas’ (1984). Since then, she has appeared in more than forty other films, many of which were sadly forgettable. Despite some poor choices of roles, her distinctive looks and obvious talent are always worth seeing, and she continues to work now, aged 57.

Sir Ben Kingsley is proof (to me) that you do not have to like someone as a person, to admire their work as an actor. A man who always comes across as quite vain and arrogant in interviews, (he always insists on the ‘Sir’) but can inhabit a role like few others of his generation. His awards are too numerous to mention, during a career that has lasted over fifty years, but include an Oscar and two Golden Globes. His career began on stage, leading to him join the Royal Shakespeare Company, then go on to star on Broadway. After his first film role in ‘Fear Is The Key’ (1972), he also worked on long-running TV series and soap operas in Britain. Then in 1982, he was cast as Gandhi, in Richard Attenborough’s film of the same name, scooping the Oscar for Best Actor. Since then, he has never stopped starring in films, including ‘Bugsy’ (1991), and his BAFTA-nominated performance in Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993). In 2000, he starred as the terrifying gangster, Don Logan, in ‘Sexy Beast’, opposite Ray Winstone. In that film, he delivered such a memorable performance, it is one of the best I have ever seen. Since then he has made no less than fifty more films, and his latest one is in post production.

49 thoughts on “An A-Z of Actors: K

    1. I have just seen him in some interviews when he insisted on being called ‘Sir Ben’, Kerin. I could be wrong about him of course, but that’s what I have seen on TV.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  1. Everyone I wanted to mention has already been mentioned, except for DeForest Kelley of “Star Trek” fame, and Sylvia Kristel, known primarily for “Emmanuelle.” Grace Kelly has been mentioned, of course, but I might add that I actually had an opportunity to see her (and Prince Rainier) in Nice, France back in 1974 or 1975, during my junior year abroad at the university there.

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    1. Grace Kelly was so attractive, and elegant. Very much a lady of that time.
      Sylvia was good in the original Emmanuelle, but I confess I wasn’t concentrating on her acting ability.
      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Julie. I confess I know nothing about his private life, but I do remember my parents taking me to see his films. He was always so silly, and that made me laugh. The films usually had songs in them too. Good childhood memories.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Very interesting choices, Pete, and I understand your point about Kingsley. I can’t include Harvey Keitel because he is the most unpleasant person to interview, rude and combative for no reason whatsoever…that said, I will also add Diane Keaton – not for such whimsical roles as “Annie Hall”, which she nails beautifully, but for her effort to be more serious in the neglected 70’s erotic thriller “Looking For Mr. Goodbar” , which was released the same year as “Annie Hall” – here’s a look at this film for those who don’t know it – https://johnrieber.com/2013/04/27/sex-violence-and-diane-keaton-looking-for-mr-goodbar/

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    1. She was good in that one, I agree, and I also like her early films with Woody Allen too. Thanks for the link.
      Shame about Keitel being rude, but he can certainly act a good ‘bad guy’. Maybe that’s why? πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. He was an ass, Pete, pure and simple. I was there to help promote “Reservoir Dogs” as well as “Bad Lieutenant” and he couldn’t have been more obnoxious to me for NO reason…I have entered a lot of celebs and know when they have a reason to be unpleasant and when they don’t…it’s his reputation, which is too bad because he is so great in a lot of films

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    1. I didn’t think I knew that name, Abbi, so I looked her up. I have seen ‘Fracture’, ‘Meek’s Cutoff’, and ‘in The Valley Of Elah’. So I have seen her, I just don’t remember her.
      Thanks for that valuable addition.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. German actress Diane Kruger for “Inglorious Basterds”, “Troy” and devastatingly good in “In the Fade”. Scottish actor Andrew Keir for his rich voice best put to use on the screen in “Quatermass and the Pit”. The tragically short-lived Kay Kendall for a small role in “Doctor in the House” and later “Genevieve” and “The Reluctant Debutant”. Finally the wonderful American actress Shirley Knight for “Sweet Bird of Youth”, “Petulia”, “The Group”, “Dutchman”, the underrated “Juggernaut” and “As Good As It Gets”.

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    1. Good choices, BF. Both very reliable character actors. Kruger was great in ‘The One That Got Away’ (1957). And he is still alive, aged 90! Kennedy was also memorable, in ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967).
      Best wishes, Pete.

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