True Confession: Billy Bob Thornton Wears Girls’ Jeans

Billy Bob Thornton is known for many things: his roles in movies like Armageddon and Monster’s Ball, his highly publicized marriage and subsequent divorce to actress Angelina Jolie, his recent portrayal as Lorne Malvo in the television series “Fargo,” and his singing. But following a recent interview on “Oprah’s Master Class,” Thornton may be known for something entirely different. He wears girls’ jeans. “I’ll go to Old Navy and get girls jeans ’cause I’m kind of bony, and they fit me …

Becoming a Better Caregiver With Help From Actors

Training medical students to do a better job by using actors to play patients is not new. But at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, actors are faking dementia and Parkinson’s disease to help family caregivers be more effective – and that’s downright novel. Last month, 16 caregiver spouses gathered at the hospital’s simulation center to boost their communication skills with a loved one. These husbands and wives were dealing with challenging behaviors and wanted help solving real-life issues. In the process, …

A Grandpa’s Dream, a Child’s Nightmare

There’s a tendency among us grandpas to control, or at least direct, the lives of our grandchildren, theoretically filtering into their futures what we wish we had accomplished on our own. I see it in relation to my granddaughter Nicole, a gifted painter who, at 27, is working hard to win notice in the art world. She is accomplishing that slowly but too slowly to suit me, so I’m pushing her to ramp up the tempo, to haunt the galleries, …

Michael Ansara: He Was Cochise and Star Trek Villain ‘Kang’

When Syrian immigrant Michael Ansara enrolled at Los Angeles City College in the early 1940s, his ambition was to become a doctor. But instead he found his true calling as an actor. Ansara, who died on July 31 at age 91 in Calabasas, Calif., may have been best known as Klingon commander Kang, the towering, intimidatingly deep-voiced leader of a band of swarthy, warlike extraterrestrials who confronted Capt. James Kirk (William Shatner) and the Starship Enterprise crew in “Day of …

James Gandolfini: How He Compared to Tony Soprano

For a murderous thug who made his living through extortion, theft and corruption, Tony Soprano was a remarkably easy guy to sympathize with. We felt the pain of his unhappy upbringing, of his frustrations with his coworkers, of the continual pressure to keep earning enough to afford the affluent suburban lifestyle to which his family had become accustomed. We were touched by his affection for the wild ducks that congregated in his swimming pool. When he went to a psychiatrist …

Did This Actor Invent the Gourmet Hamburger?

If you’re a devotee of the Turner Classic Movies cable channel, you may well know Harry Lewis, even though you might not recognize his name. In the 1948 classic Key Largo, Lewis played Edward “Toots” Bass, a dapper but menacing gunman in a gang – led by Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) – that takes the occupants of a hotel hostage as a hurricane approaches. When the hotel’s owner, portrayed by Lionel Barrymore, asks whether their motive is robbery, Lewis …