Simmons Kelly Kurtz Laurie Rampling
Left to right, clockwise: Jean Simmons, Grace Kelly, Swoosie Kurtz, Charlotte Rampling, Hugh Laurie

These are famous actors and actresses of the silver and small screen. What do they all have in common?

  • Jean Simmons: scouted in 1945 in London, presumably after World War II, Simmons moved to Hollywood and began an acting career that made her one of the most famous faces in the world, starring in such films as The Actress, Guys and Dolls, The Big Country, and Spartacus.
  • Grace Kelly: an acting icon, Kelly became America’s modern-day princess when she famously married Prince Ranier of Monaco, after starring in such films as High Noon, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and High Society.
  • Swoosie Kurtz: Emmy Award winner and two-time Tony Award winner from Omaha, Nebraska, who is better known on American television programs Carol and Company, Sisters, and Mike and Molly.
  • Hugh Laurie, an Oxford, England native who rose to fame as a comedy duo called Fry and Laurie, with Stephen Fry, and became a household name in America in the hit drama series, House, M.D.
  • Charlotte Rampling, British siren who starred in such films as Georgy Girl, The Damned, The Night Porter, Stardust Memories and The Verdict. She was recently in the news for her controversial comments regarding Blacks and acting.

The answer is….their fathers were all successful Olympians!

Charles Simmons: was part of the British bronze-medal winning gymnastics team in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm Sweden, and father of femme fatale, Jean Simmons.

John Kelly: 3-time gold medalist, two at the 1920 Antwerp Games in single scull and double sculls (rowing), and a gold in double sculls at the 1924 Paris Games, who was father of Princess Grace.

John B Kelly Sr
John B. Kelly

Frank Kurtz: a bronze medalist in the 1932 Los Angeles Games in the 10-meter platform dive, Kurtz was the father of Swoosie.

Frank Kurtz
Frank Kurtz and daughter, Swoosie

Ran Laurie: Like John Kelly, Ran Laurie was a rower who took gold in the coxless pairs at the 1948 London Games, whose partner on that gold-medal winning team was Jack Wilson. As mentioned above, Hugh Laurie starred in hit series, House, and coincidentally,

Charlotte and Godfrey Rampling
Charlotte Rampling with father Godfrey Rampling at his 100th birthday celebration
On Sunday, February 28 in the United States, The Academy Awards showcased five women for Best Actress: Cate Blanchett in Carol, Brie Larson, in Room, Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years and Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn.

And the winner is…..Brie Larson!

Rampling was definitely in the running – although nominated for the first time in her career, she has had a long and successful run as a model and actress.

Unfortunately, right after the Oscar nominations were announced, Rampling dropped the baton. In 2016, for the second year in a row, there were no nominees of color in the major acting categories. This prompted calls for a boycott of the Academy Awards. That in turn prompted Rampling to speak out on her own in a French talk show, saying that talk of boycotting the Academy Awards because no Blacks were nominated is “racist to whites.” She continued by saying, “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.”

Coincidentally (or perhaps ironically), Rampling’s father, Godfrey Rampling, competed in the Berlin Olympics in 1936 as a 400-meter sprinter. While finishing fourth in the individual men’s 400-meter competition, he and his team from Great Britain won the 4X400 relay finals, in good part due to Godfrey Rampling’s stunning burst to take the lead from Canada in the second leg, enabling Team GB to win gold.

OLYMPICS Rampling 19
Olympics – Britain’s Oldest Olympian Godfrey Rampling celebrates his 100th Birthday – Bushey House…A collect picture showing Godfrey Rampling (second left) competing in the 1936 Berlin Games. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 15, 2009. Britain’s Oldest Olympian Godfrey Rampling celebrates his 100th birthday today with a party at Bushey House, Bushey. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.
These were of course the Olympics that pitted the position of Arayan superiority against all who were not of Arayan stock, a backdrop that reflected the spotlight on black American sprinter, Jesse Owens. And while I have no idea what thoughts Godfrey Rampling had on race, the thoughts of his daughter, Charlotte, dully echo those from Berlin…in my opinion.

Fortunately, (black) comedian Chris Rock was the host of the 2016 Academy Awards, and if anyone could respond to the Charlotte Ramplings of the world, it was Chris Rock. Here is a transcript of his opening monologue at the Oscars, which walks a fine line, attacks the extremes of the argument, and makes us laugh and think.