howard strickling

Girl # 27 – Patricia Douglas Part 1.

March 17, 2016 // 2 Comments

     This story will be in two parts. It is a tale of a young woman’s quest for justice in an era and a place where greedy and powerful men determined who was entitled to fair treatment and who was not. Ptricia Douglas was a ‘nobody’, one of thousands of young hopefuls living and working in Hollywood, California. Like most of her peers she trusted the studios, [...]

Studio cover-ups in the early days of Hollywood.

January 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

  A British actor in the fifties named Steve Hayes probably summed up the studio bosses as well as anyone, not that he said so when he was under contract, of course. To do so would have been career suicide, as well he knew. ‘All these guys were ruthless bastards’, he said years later. ‘Cohn, Warner, Louis B Mayer. All of them. They were nothing more than thugs in business suits.’ The [...]

Tragic Hollywood – Who killed funnyman Ted Healy?

December 18, 2015 // 4 Comments

  Wallace Beery won the Oscar in 1931-2 for The Champ, even though he actually scored one less vote than Fredric March that year. The rules of the previous year awarded Oscars to performers who finished within three votes of the winner. Presenter Conrad Nagel, unaware that the regulations had been changed, incorrectly called for another Oscar for Beery without conferring with Academy [...]

MGM’s ‘fixers – Mannix & Strickling.

November 29, 2015 // 0 Comments

    Back when the studio system was in vogue, back in the ‘Golden Years of Hollywood, each of the ‘Big Five’ had its ‘fixers’, men whose job it was to keep scandal and bad publicity at bay; to do whatever it took to ensure that the paying public remained ‘bright-eyed and bushy-tailed’ about the movie industry and its stars. MGM had two such men who were even more adept at [...]

Did you know? Points of Interest Pt. 7

September 7, 2015 // 2 Comments

  Twenty year-old Brigitte Bardot was understudy to the star of Helen of Troy (1956), but ended up with a small role as Rosanna Podesta’s handmaiden. She would make her British screen debut in Doctor At Sea in the same year. The French actress has had psychological issues for much of her life and has attempted suicide at least four times, the first of these when she was just fifteen. Once [...]

MICKEY ROONEY – Will the real Mickey please stand up?

August 28, 2015 // 3 Comments

  young Lana Turner If you happen to be a Mickey Rooney fan (I am most certainly not, by the way), then you should definitely not read his sleazy autobiography titled Life Is Too Short. I have and I wish I hadn’t. My reason for repeating a couple of excerpts here is simple. I think it is important that we fully understand what a grubby little pervert the guy was, and the best way to do so [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

‘America’s Sweethearts’ – or were they?

July 2, 2015 // 2 Comments

  Biographers have tried for years to figure out the relationship between singers Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. Most have given up. On the one hand we have Eddy, lifelong ‘sissy’, tied to his mother’s apron-strings, a bisexual man who definitely preferred male lovers to female ones, but who seemed to (from time to time) fall head over heels for MacDonald. Jeanette MacDonald, by [...]

George Reeves – who killed Superman?

March 19, 2015 // 6 Comments

  Today, to the younger generations, the name George Reeves means nothing. To baby-boomers (those born just after the end of World War Two) he was just a TV actor whose face became instantly recognizable because he portrayed Superman in 102 episodes of the hit TV series The Adventures of Superman, which ran from 1952 until 1958. Older cinema-goers would have seen him in the opening scene [...]