Sunday, January 31, 2021

Carol Channing and Mario Lanza 100 -- January 31, 2021

Actress Carol Channing and tenor Mario Lanza were both born 100 years ago today, on 31-January-1921. 

Carol Channing was born in Seattle. Her family came to San Francisco when she was a baby and she grew up here.  She was always the center of attention.  Herb Caen wrote about her frequently.

My mother likes Mario Lanza. He ate too much, drank too much, appeared in only a handful of movies and died at 38, but he sure had a beautiful voice. I remember seeing The Great Caruso on Dialing for Dollars or another afternoon show and being impressed. My grandfather had often spoken of his admiration for Enrico Caruso.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Hallroom Boys -- January 29, 2021


Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Harry Cohn, his brother Jack and Joe Brandt provided the initials for  C.B.C. Film Sales Corp. The Hallroom Boys Comedies were a long running series of short comedies, based on a comic strip by Harold MacGill. At this point, Edward Flannagan and Neely Edwards probably played Percy and Ferdy (or Ferdy and Percy). 

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Williamsburg, Virginia Gazette, 11-January-1908

Click on this image for a larger view. If you can read the text, you have better eyes than I do. 

Motion Picture News, 06-November-1920

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Cicely Tyson, RIP -- January 28, 2021

Beautiful actress Cicely Tyson has died. She had a long and distinguished career. 

I first saw  her when our Eighth Grade teacher at Saint Monica's took us to the Stagedoor Theater on Mason Street to see Sounder. I loved the music by Taj Mahal, and all the performances. Cicely Tyson's particularly stood out.

Cloris Leachman, RIP -- January 28, 2021

 I was sad to learn that actress Cloris Leachman has died. She was good in everything. She made a large impression with a small part in Kiss Me Deadly. I remember her on Mary Tyler Moore. She played a dramatic role in The Last Picture Show and funny parts in Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety

"Such sad news—Cloris was insanely talented. She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Always such a pleasure to have on set. Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher. She is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed."
== Mel Brooks

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Donna Reed 100 -- January 27, 2021

Actress Donna Reed was born 100 years ago today, on 27-January-1921. During the summers, I would turn the television on to watch something, I don't remember what, and I would see the closing credits of her television show, which was in reruns. I don't think I ever saw an episode of her show. She appeared in many good movies, most famously in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Gene Siskel 75 -- January 26, 2021
Gene Siskel, film critic for the Chicago Tribune, was born 75 years ago today, on 26-January-1946. He became nationally famous for hosting Sneak Preview with Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert. I enjoyed Sneak Preview because it was nice to observe two people who cared about film talk about it in an intelligent manner on television. Most television film critics were idiots. I watched Siskel and Ebert on the later versions of the show as well. He died of a brain tumor when he was only 53. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Douglas Fairbanks -- The Mark of Zorro -- January 25, 2021

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

100 years ago this month, Douglas Fairbanks was enjoying a big hit with The Mark of Zorro

Motion Picture News, 08-January-1921

Both Fairbanks and his wife, Mary Pickford were releasing through United Artists. The Love Light was directed by Frances Marion. 

East Oregonian, 18-January-1921

The movie played three days at the Alta Theater in Pendleton, Oregon. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Billy West -- He's in Again -- January 23, 2021

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Billy West had closely imitated Charlie Chaplin in a long series of comedies for different studios. By the time he was working for the Joan Film Sales Company, he had moved on to other characters.

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Chaplin -- Six Reels of Joy -- January 21, 2021

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

One hundred years ago today, on 21-January-1921, Charlie Chaplin staged the premiere of his first self-directed feature film, The Kid, at Carnegie Hall as a benefit for a children's charity. 

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Jackie Coogan became a major star. 

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921

Chaplin would get back to work on the four shorts he still owedFirst National. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

George Burns 125 -- January 20, 2021

George Burns, partner in life, in vaudeville, in movies, on radio and on television of Gracie Allen, was born 125 years ago today, on 20-January-1896. He lived and worked for an extraordinarily long time, passing on in 1996.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dolly Parton, 75 -- January 19, 2021

 Dolly Parton, singer, composer, instrumentalist, actress and really nice human being, was born 75 years ago today, on 19-January-1946. She is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and has a pile of Grammy awards. She grew up in a poor family, but was always surrounded by love and music. Just recently she made a million dollar donation to a university doing research on COVID-19, which contributed to the development of one of the vaccines. She is a strong proponent of literacy. 

Over the years, I have  gotten a few of her songs stuck in my head. 

And she has appeared in some good movies.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Horror Shockers -- The "Original" Frankenstein -- January 17, 2021


Vampirella 51, 1976

When I was young, I read Warren Publishing magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Vampirella. The magazines always carried ads for back issues, posters and movies. I didn't have a film projector, so I read the ads with envy. Eventually, I got a Super-8 projector, but I didn't have enough money to buy any of these films. A friend had Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and I was fascinated by the way it had been cut down to less than 20 minutes.

This section of an ad has Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, and also Tarantula and The Deadly Mantis

Friday, January 15, 2021

California Theater Face Washing -- January 15, 2021


Motion Picture News, 08-January-1921

San Francisco's California Theater, the third of that name, stood at Fourth Street and Market. It opened in 1917. It was renamed the State in 1941, closed in 1954 and was torn down in 1961. More about the California Theater: Big V Riot Squad: California Theater, San Francisco -- June 17, 2018

Thursday, January 14, 2021

F Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and AJ Cronin 125 -- January 14, 2021

An unusual group of writers was born 125 years ago, on 14-January-1896. F Scott Fitzgerald was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has been a favorite writer since high school. He spent his last years in Hollywood writing screenplays.

Three Comrades was the only movie that was released with a writing credit for Fitzgerald. His name is visible in tiny print on this poseter.

John Dos Passos was born in Chicago. When I was in grammar school, I attended a summer acting class at Lone Mountain College. I remember seeing posters for a production based on U.S.A. by John Dos Passos.   I never saw the show, but I read the three-volume book one summer. It took a while.

The stage version of U.S.A. was made into a television movie. Dos Passos wrote the screenplay for The Devil is a Woman

AJ Cronin was born in Scotland. He served as a doctor and became a novelist. An English teacher in high school was a big fan. He had us read The Citadel and The Keys of the Kingdom