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Original 'Kiss Me, Kate' star Patricia Morison dead at 103

Patricia Morison, who played the shrewish lead role in the 1948 Cole Porter Broadway musical “Kiss Me, Kate,” died Sunday, Variety reported. She was 103. 

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Morison also appeared on stage with Yul Brynner in “The King and I” and starred in films such as “The Song of Bernadette.” She also appeared as Basil Rathbone’s foil in the 1946 Sherlock Holmes film, “Dressed to Kill.”

“Kiss Me, Kate” was an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew.” It had a run of 1,077 performances over 2½ years on Broadway and won six Tony Awards, including best musical, Variety reported.

In “Kiss Me, Kate,” Morison’s renditions of “So In Love” and “I Hate Men” became classics. She played the character of Lilli Vanessi.

“When I first heard ‘So In Love,’ when Cole Porter played it for me, it just knocked me out. It was a beautiful gift,” Morison told Los Angeles magazine in March 2015. 

Kathryn Grayson starred as Lilli/Kate in the 1953 film version for MGM, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Morison was born March 15, 1915, in New York City. She was the daughter of actor-playwright William Morison and Selena Fraser, a British Intelligence agent during World War I, Variety reported.

Morison made her film debut in the 1939 movie “Persons in Hiding.”

In addition to appearing as Empress Eugenie opposite Jennifer Jones in “The Song of Bernadette,” Morison starred with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in the romantic comedy “Without Love” in 1945.

On television, she played a psychiatrist in the 1952 show “The Cases of Eddie Drake” and made an appearance on a 1989 episode of “Cheers,” the Reporter wrote.

Who was Omar Sharif? Google honors 'Lawrence of Arabia' actor

In honor of what would have been famed Egyptian actor Omar Sharif’s 86th birthdayGoogle featured a dashing illustration of “The Noble” on its home page.

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On this day in 1932, Sharif was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, to a Lebanese family of Melkite Catholic descent.

It wasn’t until 1955, when he converted to Islam, that he changed his name to Omar Sharif, a surname that translates to “noble” or “nobleman” in Arabic. 

Before becoming an Egyptian and Hollywood actor and playing the iconic role of Arab warrior Sherif Ali in the 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia,” Sharif worked for his father’s lumber company. 

According to Al Jazeera, Sharif also attended Cairo University and graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics. He left the family lumber business to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

He married Egyptian actress Faten Hamama in 1955, soon after converting to Islam, but the pair divorced in 1974.

After being nominated for an Oscar for his role in the Hollywood hit “Lawrence of Arabia,” Sharif went on to gain international fame, scoring roles as a king of Armenia in “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (1964), a Mongol leader in “Genghis Khan” (1965) and a Russian doctor in “Doctor Zhivago” (1965) among others.

He also earned two Golden Globes and a UNESCO Einstein medal, an acknowledgement of his contributions to cultural diversity, Google wrote in its doodle blog.

At one point, Sharif even ranked among the world's top contract bridge players and co-wrote a syndicated column on the game for the Chicago Tribune.

But according to Al Jazeera, “international recognition came at a hefty personal price.” In an interview with The Associated Press in 2003, he said the global fame “separated me from my wife, from my family ... We didn't see each other any more and that was it, the end of our wedding. I might have been happier having stayed an Egyptian film star."

Sharif, 83, died of a heart attack in Cairo, Egypt, on July 10, 2015. His ex-wife, Hamama, had died six months earlier.

More at google.com/doodles.

Cirque du Soleil performer dies after fall during Tampa show

A Cirque du Soleil acrobat who fell during a Saturday performance in Tampa, Florida, died from his injuries, a hospital spokeswoman told WTSP on Sunday.

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According to a video viewed by WTSP and The Tampa Bay Times, the aerial acrobat lost his grip on a ribbon strap during the company’s “Volta” show and fell 10 feet to the stage below.

A spokesman for Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group identified the performer as Yann Arnaud, a longtime aerialist, WFLA reported.

The show was stopped, and Arnaud was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He died from his injuries, spokeswoman Ellen Fiss told WTSP. 

The two performances scheduled for Sunday were canceled, the company in charge of publicizing the show said in a statement.

"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy. Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him," company CEO Daniel Lamarre said. "Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann’s family and our employees, especially the ‘Volta’ team, as we go through these difficult times together."

Arnuad’s death is the second performer fatality in Cirque du Soleil's history, WTSP reported. According to the BBC, Sarah Guillot-Guyard, 31, died during a 2013 show in Las Vegas when she fell 94 feet to the floor when a safety wire detached.

Olivier Rochette, a 43-year-old technician, died in 2016 while setting up for a performance.

NY school cancels play after protest over white student cast in lead role

A high school production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in upstate New York was canceled after students complained over the casting of a white student in a lead role, WNYW reported.

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Students at Ithaca High School sent a letter of protest to Tomkins Weekly, arguing that the role of Esmerelda was written for a woman of color. 

“We want to stress that the talented young woman who was cast in this role is a stellar actor, singer, and dancer,” the students wrote. “Our concern is not with her, but with the fact that in terms of demographics, she is the wrong choice for this role.”

The students added that the actor playing Esmerelda was blonde with hazel eyes and “is the epitome of whiteness.”

The school district canceled the production, and said a "collaborative project" would replace the show, WNYW reported.

Go-Go's musical 'Head Over Heels' ticketed for Broadway

Their lips are no longer sealed. 

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The musical “Head Over Heels,” which will feature songs from the 1980s female group The Go-Go’s, will be heading to Broadway for the 2018-19 season after opening next spring in San Francisco, Variety reported.

Gwyneth Paltrow will be one of the producers for the show, described by Variety as “an unlikely pairing of an Elizabethan romance with the pop hits of the all-female band.”

Familiar songs in the production will include Go-Go’s hits like “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation” and “Head Over Heels,” Variety reported. Other songs will include solo hits by Go-Go’s lead singer Belinda Carlisle, including “Mad About You” and “Heaven Is A Place On Earth.”

The production premiered in 2015 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and had a developmental workshop at New York Stage and Film the following year, Variety reported.

Holiday classic comes to life tonight as Fox airs ‘A Christmas Story Live!’

Ralphie Parker still wants that Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. His classmate still gets his tongue stuck to a frozen pole after a “triple dog dare.” And that tacky lamp that looks like a woman’s leg makes another appearance.

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Only this time, it’s live.

At 7 p.m. ET, Fox will air “A Christmas Story Live!” It’s a musical adaptation of the 1983 film “A Christmas Story” and the 2012 Broadway musical, “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” The show will be the only live television adaptation of the holiday season, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The story plot is the same, as it is based on the short stories of Jean Shepherd. Set in Indiana during the 1940s, 9-year-old Ralphie will be played by Andy Walken. Chris Diamantopoulos and Maya Rudolph are cast as his parents, and Matthew Broderick is the narrator -- the adult version of Ralphie.

Other cast members include Ana Gasteyer, David Alan Grier, Ken Jeong and Jane Krakowski.

The film remains a cult classic. TBS and TNT have broadcast a 24-hour marathon of the film every Christmas Day since 1997, the Times reported.

"I've watched the movie every single year since I can remember," Walken, 11, told the Times.

“It's the perfect movie in some ways,” Diamantopoulos told the Times. “Because even though it was made in 1983, it captured this little pocket of what our perception of 1940 (wa)] and that story that Jean Shepherd created -- this idea of a kid whose one Christmas wish is a Red Ryder BB gun. It's a great telling of a time gone by and a great reminder of the simple pleasures.”

You can bet that Ralphie will hear the admonition “You’ll shoot your eye out!” one more time as he cocks the BB gun and fires.

Saudi Arabia ends 35-year ban on movie theaters

A night at the movies will soon become a reality for citizens of Saudi Arabia, as the country is lifting a ban that has been in effect for more than 35 years, CNN reported Monday.

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Early next year, commercial movie theaters will be granted licenses, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Information said in a statement. It expects the first cinemas to open their doors in March.

"This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom," Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad said in the statement.

The government hopes that opening movie theaters will spark economic growth and create more job opportunities, while providing Saudis with more entertainment options, CNN reported.

There are few entertainment attractions in Saudi Arabia. Many of its citizens visit neighboring countries for vacations and leisure time, CNN reported, and the Saudi government wants more of those people to spend their money at home.

The Ministry of Culture said it plans to have 300 cinemas with more than 2000 screens by 2030, CNN reported. The movies need to be subtitled in Arabic, and censorship of nudity is likely, CNN reported.

Novo Cinemas, based in the United Arab Emirates, is already considering the opportunity.

"We are absolutely studying our options to enter the Saudi market ... it's an important market," CEO Debbie Kristiansen told CNN.

‘Cosby Show’ actor Earle Hyman dead at 91

Earle Hyman, the actor best known for playing Russell Huxtable, Bill Cosby’s wise father on “The Cosby Show,” died Friday. He was 91.

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Hyman died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J., his nephew, Rick Ferguson, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Hyman played Othello on stage, was a regular on Broadway and received a Tony nomination for his performance as Oscar in the 1980 play “The Lady From Dubuque.” He also played the voice of Pantro on the animated series “ThunderCats, according to the Reporter.

From 1984 to 1992, Hyman played the father of obstetrician Cliff Huxtable and offered sage advice to his five grandchildren.

Hyman received an Emmy nomination in 1986 for outstanding guest performance in a comedy series on “The Cosby Show” episode “Happy Anniversary.”

"That's the one episode that was the most loved, most seen. People just loved it. It just shot off the charts,” Hyman said in 2009 on the podcast “Just My Show.” “We just had a ball, and the atmosphere just went over into a kind of reality. We were no longer Clarice and Earle, we were really Anna and Russell Huxtable.”

Born on Oct. 11, 1926, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Hyman was the son of schoolteachers with Native American and African roots. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and began his film career with an uncredited appearance in the Oscar best picture winner “The Lost Weekend” (1945), according to the Reporter.

Broadway singer, actress Barbara Cook dies at 89

Barbara Cook, one of Broadway’s leading ingenues and cabaret performers, has passed away in her Manhattan home, her representative said Tuesday. She was 89.

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Amanda Kaus told WNBC that Cook died of respiratory failure.

Cook was the star of several Broadway musicals, including “The Music Man,” “She Loves Me” and “Candide.” 

The New York Post reported that her Broadway career sadly ended in the early 1970s, when she began struggling with depression, alcoholism and weight gain. In the 80s, Cook reinvented herself and made a comeback in her role as Sally in the concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies.”

Her career spanned nearly six decades.

Friends and fans took to social media to mourn the star:

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Sam Shepard, playwright and actor, dies at 73

Sam Shepard, a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor best known for his role as Chuck Yeager in 1983 film "The Right Stuff," died Thursday, according to multiple reports. He was 73.

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BroadwayWorld.com reported Monday that Shepard died at his home in Kentucky, surrounded by his children and sisters. He had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a nervous system disease that weakens the muscles.

A family spokesperson confirmed his passing to The New York Times.

Shepard, who New York magazine called “the greatest American playwright of his generation,” authored more than 40 plays. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play, “Buried Child.”

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