Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year from Clara Bow -- December 31, 2016
I wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Intolerance Opens in Chicago -- December 30, 2016

Motography, 09-December-1916
I thought I should mention DW Griffith's epic Intolerance before the end of the year.  I missed the anniversary of its opening. 

Chicago's Colonial Theater, which had played The Birth of a Nation, hosted the Chicago premiere.  "Mr. Griffith superintended the showing and responded to the demands of the audience with a brief speech.  Under his direction, the theater has been effectively decorated with elaborate Babylonian designs, and further 'atmosphere' is provided by the costuming of the ushers, very pretty girls, who wear garments of the Babylonian, Judean and Medieval French perdiods." 

Mae Marsh and her family were there for the Chicago premiere. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Debbie Reynolds, RIP -- December 28, 2016

Yesterday Carrie Fisher died.  Today her mother, Debbie Reynolds died.  This is too sad.  I have always enjoyed watching Debbie Reynolds in movies like Singing in the Rain and How the West Was Won.  Her interviews were as good as those of her daughter.  We're running out of people from the classic days of Hollywood.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher, RIP -- December 27, 2016
Actress and writer Carrie Fisher died too young.  I feel particularly bad for her mother, Debbie Reynolds.  I was impressed to learn that Carrie Fisher was a script doctor on many movies that I had seen.  I don't remember her before Star Wars.  I always enjoyed her interviews on the radio.  She was funny and she spoke honestly about her problems with drinking and drugs.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Trimming the Christmas Tree -- December 25, 2016
Merry Christmas, everyone.  Peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Actress Grace Bradley trims her Christmas tree.  Grace Bradley was the wife of Hopalong Cassidy, William Boyd.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas from Billie Reeves, The Original Drunk -- December 24, 2016

Variety, 22-December-1916

Billie Reeves was a British comic who claimed to have been the first to play the role of the Drunk in Fred Karno's pantomime production "Mumming Birds," which was known in the US as "A Night in an English Music Hall."  This was important to some people because Charlie Chaplin first became famous paying the part and because Billie Ritchie, another comic, also claimed to be the first to play the part. 

Moving Picture World, 29-May-1915
Billie's brother Alf, who had managed the Karno company which toured the US with Charlie Chaplin, worked on the production of Chaplin's movies for many years. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Michèle Morgan, RIP -- December 22, 2016
Great actress Michèle Morgan, one of the last survivors of the Golden Age, has died at 96.  Her career began before the war.  After the German invasion in 1940, she left for the United States.  She learned English well enough to act in several movies, but was happy to return to France.  She was considered a major actress in the late 1940s and the 1950s, until the New Wave wiped out the industry she was part of.  I don't think I have seen any of her French movies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Zsa Zsa Gabor, RIP -- December 20, 2016

Actress and celebrity Zsa Zsa Gabor died at the age of 99.  She was born in the Austro-Hungarian empire.  She was Miss Hungary in 1938.  Her family fled when the Nazis occupied Budapest in 1944.  She was married nine times.  John Huston said she could act.  What a life.

She was on television a lot when I was a kid.  I got her mixed up with her sister Eva.  Later I learned that there was another sister, Magda.

She sure was beautiful.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Betty Grable 100 -- December 18, 2016
Actress Betty Grable was born 100 years ago today, on 18-December-1916.  She started playing in musicals when she was 12, but looked older.  She appeared in a lot of Technicolor musicals for 20th Century-Fox.  She was famous for her legs.  She had been forgotten by many people. Her movies have been hard to find at times.

Betty Grable left her hand and leg prints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese on 15-February-1943.  She included the initials of the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps.  This was before the Air Force became independent.  I took the photo in July, 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Grauman's Chinese -- Bette Davis -- December 13, 2016

In July, 2012 we paid a return visit to Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater.  Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.

Actress Bette Davis left her hand and footprints on this slab on 06-November-1950.  I wonder if she was promoting All About Eve.  (DSC_0027)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Right Stuff -- December 10, 2016

When a television channel recently showed The Right Stuff, I thought "John Glenn is still alive."  I was sad to learn that he has passed on.

He served as a Marine fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War.  When NASA looked for the first group of astronauts for the Mercury program, he was almost too old and lacked the required degree in science, but made the cut.  On 20-January-1962, in Friendship 7, he became the first American to make an orbital space flight.

When I was growing up, we heard a lot more about John Glenn than Alan Shepard or Gus Grissom, who flew before him.  We had a Time Life book and record set about the space program and Glenn was heavily featured.

In 1974 he ran for the US Senate as a Democrat and won.  He ran for President in 1984, and got a boost from his portrayal in The Right Stuff.

I remember how excited he was to fly on the Space Shuttle in 1998.

Ed Harris did a nice job of portraying John Glenn.  The scene where he defended his wife against the Vice President drew cheers.  The scene showing his wonder at being in space made everyone silent. 

Godspeed, John Glenn. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Kirk Douglas 100 - December 9, 2016

Actor Kirk Douglas was born 100 years ago today, on 09-December-1916.  He is still with us and I hope he is having a wonderful birthday. He was passionate about his work and I have always admired him. 

He grew up poor, but wanted to be an actor after he recited a poem in kindergarten.  He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with Betty Joan Perske, who later became Lauren Bacall. She had a crush on him, but he probably felt that she was too young. AFter Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy and served until 1944, when he was discharged because of wounds.

Lauren Bacall helped him move from Broadway plays to the movies.

He made many good movies, including Out of the Past, In Harm's Way and Paths of Glory. In his own productions like Spartacus, he helped to break the Hollywood blacklist.  Dalton Trumbo received a credit under his own name.

 I took the photo of his hand and footprints at Grauman's Chinese in July, 2012.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Remember Pearl Harbor -- December 7, 2016

Showmen's Trade Review, 16-May-1942

75 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

The first fiction film about the attack was Republic's Remember Pearl Harbor, which starred Don "Red" Barry, who had become famous playing the lead in the serial The Adventures of Red Ryder.  I suppose the movie took its title from the song.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Essanay-Chaplin Revue of 1916 -- December 3, 2016

Moving Picture World, 09-December-1916
When Charlie Chaplin left Essanay to make films for Mutual, Essanay wanted to get all the profit it could from Chaplin's movies.  In order to exploit their inventory, they edited "The Tramp," "A Night Out" and "His New Job" together into The Essanay-Chaplin Revue of 1916.  Chaplin was not pleased.