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Six degrees

Mark Peters


Byron Mann (pictured), the Hong Kong-born actor who played the villainous Silver Lion in last year’s kung fu flick The Man with the Iron Fists, could be turning 46 today, or on August 13, depending on which bits of the internet you believe. The law graduate, who can be seen from March in the show Arrow on local television, had the dubious privilege of starring with Halle Berry in the 2004 film Catwoman, a movie often derided as one of the worst ever made. Also scrapping his way through Iron Fists was Oscar winner Russell Crowe …


The New Zealand-born actor, who went by the name of Rus Le Roq during his early music career, has recently denied rumours of an intimate relationship with burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese. The Les Misérables star, who split from his wife in October, took to Twitter to deny reports that he had enjoyed a “massage” with the former Mrs Marilyn Manson. Crowe appeared in the 2010 film Robin Hood, which received a little emergency script polishing from Sir Tom Stoppard …


Born Tomas Straussler in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, in 1937, the playwright fled to Singapore with his Jewish family on March 15, 1939, the day of the Nazi invasion. The Strausslers were then sent to Australia and eventually evacuated to Darjeeling in India, leaving behind his father, a doctor and British Army volunteer, to help in Singapore’s defence against the Japanese occupation. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that Stoppard learned that all four of his grandparents left behind in Czechoslovakia had perished in concentration camps. Stoppard’s 1982 play The Real Thing features the line: “I was taken once to Covent Garden to hear a woman called Callas” …


One of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century, Maria Callas, known as La Divina, admitted in one of her last interviews that she “hated” the sound of her own voice. “The first time I listened to a recording of my singing … I cried my eyes out. I wanted to stop everything, to give up singing.” In 1959, Callas left her husband of 10 years following a much publicised affair with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis …


In the 1920s, Ari, as he was known to most people, launched his own cigarette brand, which made him a millionaire by the time he was 25. He soon realised the shipping business was far more profitable, however, and after purchasing six cargo ships during the Great Depression his wealth grew immensely as he leased them out to the Allied forces during the second world war. In the 1988 movie Onassis: The Richest Man in the World, the Greek entrepreneur was immortalised by Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia …


The Tony Award-winning actor, known as much for playing Gomez in the Addams Family movies as for his Broadway accomplishments, received many accolades for his humanitarian efforts. Julia regularly donated to a food bank and raised more than US$1 million for non-profit organisation The Hunger Project. His final film role, before his death from a stroke at the age of 54, was as General M. Bison in the Street Fighter video game movie franchise, in which the karate-kicking hero Ryu is played by Byron Mann.



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