July 2015

CAROLE LOMBARD – The Profane Angel.

July 31, 2015 // 0 Comments

  Finding really likeable movie stars from the studio era can be quite a challenge at times. Carole Lombard, however, courtesy of her brazen, down to earth approach to life, was a woman who enjoyed the trappings of fame, but never let them seduce her. And that made her a rarity. She seemed to recognize Hollywood for what it was, a ‘Dream Factory’ full of mostly ordinary people blessed [...]

ROBERT MITCHUM – an all-time great.

July 28, 2015 // 2 Comments

  Mitchum’s father was killed in an accident when he was just two years old. As a teenager Bob criss-crossed the country as a train hobo until he was arrested at 15, charged with being ‘a suspicious character with no visible means of support’. He spent that summer on a Georgia chain gang, after which he set off for Long Beach, California. There he attended high school, got jobs, [...]

LOUELLA PARSONS – A law unto herself.

July 24, 2015 // 6 Comments

  When the studio system was at its peak in the thirties and forties, a ‘Gossip Columnist’ could wreck a career with just a couple of acid-laced lines. They did not even need to be true. Louella Parsons, the Hollywood mouthpiece for the Hearst empire of newspapers, became a most feared individual. Few stars crossed her, for to do so was tantamount to committing career suicide. [...]

The Studio System – the Big Five.

July 22, 2015 // 6 Comments

  For several decades the ‘Big Five’ in Hollywood were MGM, 20th Century Fox, RKO, Paramount and Warner Bros. United Artists had its moments in the sun, as did Columbia, Republic and Universal, but they were not really in the same league as the others. Of the ‘Big Five’ only RKO Pictures was not owned by European Jews. The initials RKO, incidentally, stand for ‘Radio – Keith – [...]

A few snippets from Frank Langella.

July 20, 2015 // 2 Comments

  Oscar-nominated actor Frank Langella published his most entertaining biography titled, Dropped Names: Famous Men & Women as I Knew Them, in 2013. It is a scathing one that pulls few, if any, punches. Here are a few snippets from it, some of his observations down the decades, along with the occasional added comment that might be of interest. Bancroft, Anne:        Langella [...]

Judy Garland – a victim of MGM’s greed?

July 18, 2015 // 27 Comments

    Frances Gumm was born in Minnesota in 1922. She had two sisters and was nicknamed ‘Baby’ from her childhood. The family moved to Hollywood in 1926 where she was signed to a 7 year contract by MGM at $100 a week in 1935. She was a prodigious talent, but she was naive and impressionable; ripe to be taken advantage of. Before she had even turned fifteen, 38 year-old Spencer Tracy [...]

What happened to Thomas Ince?

July 16, 2015 // 10 Comments

  Thomas Ince was a director of silent movies, in particular westerns. In fact, he was known as ‘the father of the western’, a man who produced and directed over 100 features up until his mysterious death in 1924, just three days after his 42nd birthday. The mystery revolves around the inconsistencies surrounding the ‘official’ cause of death, and what probably took place off the [...]

OLIVIA & JOAN -The feuding de Havilland sisters.

July 14, 2015 // 0 Comments

  Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland were real life sisters who were born in Tokyo, and then moved to America. Olivia was born in 1916, Joan a year later. Max Reinhardt spotted Olivia in a college version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was so impressed he placed her in both his stage version and in the Warner Bros movie of 1935. She quickly became a star and would go on to play [...]

Paul Bern ( 1889 – 1932 ) – An exercise in character assassination.

July 12, 2015 // 6 Comments

  Irene Selznick, the wife of producer David O, once described Paul Bern as ‘the single most beloved person in Hollywood’. He was a writer at MGM, 45 years old, short and bald, yet his new wife, Jean Harlow, clearly seemed to be in love with him. It was probably not a ‘match made in heaven’, but there seemed to be considerable trust and real friendship between them, qualities not [...]

Carole Landis (1919-48) – she deserved better.

July 10, 2015 // 8 Comments

    Hollywood history is full of tragic stories, but that of Carole Landis (above) is more tragic than most. She was beautiful, friendly, gentle-hearted, popular, talented and smart. She was also a tomboy, liked men and having a good time, yet was naive and easily manipulated. And what Hollywood was never short of was manipulators. All in all she had a lot going for her, yet this gorgeous [...]
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