1960: ‘Spartacus’ Arrives in Theaters
Inspired by the true-life events of a leader of a slave revolt during the Third Servile War, Spartacus arrived in movie theaters on this day in 1960. It starred Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis. The film was to be directed by Anthony Mann, but was removed after the first week of shooting. Douglas replaced him with Stanley Kubrick and became the only film that Kubrick directed where he did not have complete artistic control. The screenwriter for the film, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted at the time in Hollywood, so Douglas publicly announced that Trumbo was the screenwriter. John F. Kennedy, who the President-elect at the time, crossed the American Legion picket line to watch the film as a way of protesting the blacklisting. The movie won four Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ustinov), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. Spartacus became a huge hit for Universal Studios that wasn’t surpassed until 1970’s Airport.
- 1915: Walter Keane (painter plagiarist)
- 1942: Joy Behar (TV show host)
- 1955: Yo-Yo Ma (cellist)
- 1957: Michael W. Smith (singer)
- 1959: Simon Cowell (TV show producer)
- 1967: Toni Braxton (singer)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.