Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Blog Is Over

I want to thank you all for your support when I ran this blog. To keep alot of you from wondering my blog is no more and after today there will never be another post ever again.

Little Known Actors - Dennie Moore

Dennie Moore (1907 - 1978) was an American film and stage actress who apperared in a string of films in Hollywood during the 1930s and mid-1940s. She was born Deena Rivka Moore on New Years Eve 1907 to Jewish parents Oren Moore (January 12, 1883 - March 13, 1967), a cantor at one of the synagogues, and Gabriella Gefen (October 31, 1885 - November 19, 1954).

In the late 1920s, she began her Broadway career under the name Dennie Moore so's not to shame her parents any further as they disaproved of the profession. Her first stage role was in A Lady in Love (1927) followed by parts in The Trial of Mary Dugan (1927), Torch Song (1930), and Twentieth Century (1932-1933).

In the mid-1930s to evade the Great Depression's rapid closing of live theatre Moore ventured to Hollywood and made her screen debut in Sylvia Scarlett (1935) for RKO Radio Pictures starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. In the years to come she would specialize in playing dumb blondes, maids, and wisecraking but gold hearted sidekicks. Her most memorable role, however, was as the Olga the manicurist in George Cukor's The Women (1939).

In the 1940s, she found herself with very little film roles and took a seven year hiatus from films to go back to her roots on the Broadway stage. In 1951, she appeared in her final film role in The Model and the Marriage Broker and from 1955 to 1957 she appeared in her final stage role which was as Mrs. Van Damm in The Diary of Anne Frank. In 1957 she retired from acting all together.

She did have an array of colorful friends from her acting days; they involved Sylvia Sidney, Rosalind Russell (whom she was befriended by while they starred together in The Women), Norma Shearer, and June Clyde and Fay Wray (whom she called the ''Loveliest Latter Days who ever lived.")

Following this, she sold her house in Hollywood and lived in a lavish apartment in her birthplace of New York City. Following her retierment she was active in activating for Jewish communities and women's rights. In February 1978 Moore died of natural causes. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered from her apartment's balcony.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy 100th Birthday to Sally Blane

On this day in 1910 actress Sally Blane was born in Salida, California, the second daughter of Boarding House owner Gladys Belzner. She was a sister to actress Loretta Young. Sally began her career in silent films both as a child and a teenager. When talking films arrived her career progressed. In 1935 she married film actor and director Norman Foster and had two children whom they named Robert and Gretchen.

She retiered from acting in 1957 and lived in Los Angeles, CA until her death from cancer on August 27, 1997 age 87. Being a devout Catholic she was laid to rest in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA. Her sisters Polly Ann Young (1908 - 1997) and Loretta (1913 - 2000) both died of cancer too and were laid to rest in the same cemetery. She had another sister named Georgianna Young (1924 - 2007) who was married to actor Ricardo Montalban (1920 - 2009) and the two of them are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery as well.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Little Known Actors - William Demarest

William Demarest (1892 - 1983) was an American character actor who often specialized in playing crusty yet kind hearted old men. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota he began his acting career in Vaudeville later moving on to Broadway in the 1920s. It is documented that with his acting parts totaled from both film and TV apperances that he played 140 roles. He made apperances in such films as Hands Across the Table (1935), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), The Lady Eve (1941), Sullavan's Travels (1941), and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944).

He retired from acting in 1978 and enjoyed a peaceful retierment in Palm Springs, CA. He would die from a mix of pneumonia and prostate cancer in 1982 at the age of 91. He was laid to rest in Glendale, CA's Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

The BFF's of Classic Hollywood, Part 2

Yesterday I talked to you about some of the friendships made in Classic Hollywood and today I am going to tell you a couple more. After all it is hard to mention all of them in just one day. Let's hear some more shall we?

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were one of Hollywood's most beloved dance teams in the 1930s. They first starred together in Flying Down to Rio (1933) and by the mid-1930s they were making one musical a year. It was obvious that they liked one another, it shows in their dancing. Fred's nickname for Ginger was feathers for when they did Top Hat in 1935 when they danced their famous cheek to cheek number Ginger wore a dress she designed that had ostrich feathers top to bottom and as they danced some of the feathers came off and got stuck on Fred's suit.

They had alot in common too which added more to their friendship: They were both stauch Republicans, they loved to dance (which was rather obvious), they both began their careers on both Vaudeville and the Broadway stage, and they both got Oscars at some point in their lives. She a Best Actress Oscar in 1940 for Kitty Foyle and he an Honorary Oscar in 1950 for his contribution to dance which was presented to him by Ginger. They remained close friends until Fred's death in 1987.

Errol Flynn and John Barrymore were very much friends. They drank together quite a bit and they often met with one another once in a while to play golf or gamble. Flynn always said that John Barrymore was an idol to him and in 1958, a year before his death, he portrayed him in the biopic Too Much, Too Soon. Barrymore would die of a heart attack in 1942 and it was said that when his wake was held Flynn actually came over to his home and proped him up in his favorite chair and acted as though he was still alive.

Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland were lifelong friends. They both were under contract to Warner Bros. in the 1930s and 1940s. They starred together in It's Love I'm After (1937), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), In This Our Life (1942), and Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964). When Bette was honored by the American Film Institute in 1977 Olivia came down from France to honor her and when Bette's centenial birthday came to be Olivia came down to celebrate it even though Bette didn't live to see it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Little Known Actors - Theresa Harris

Theresa Harris (1906 - 1985) was an African American actress who starred in a number of supporting and or uncredited roles in films between 1929 and 1958. Born in Houston, Texas on New Years Eve 1906; the daughter of Isaiah (1879 - 1956) and Mable (1883 - 1964) Harris who were former sharecroppers in Louisianna; growing up she was raised as a Methodist and had originally wanted to become a singer from having listened to the voices of Louis Armstrong and Ethel Waters in the 1920s.

In 1929, she came out to Hollywood and lent her singing voice to an early talkie entitled Thunderbolt and from there her career took off. In the 1930s she was a free-lance actress and moved around between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. Studios. Her roles, a large percent of them uncredited, consisted of her playing blues singers, hat-check girls, maids, waitresses, tribal women, prostitutes, and, most particurally, maids.

Some of the notable actresses that she played a servant to included Joan Blondell, Ginger Rogers, Frances Dee, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, and Kay Francis. She felt that Hollywood would someday give her the chance to play a real role but unfortunatley due to the racial prejudice and steryotypes of the time that thought never transpired into a reality.

In 1933, she married a well to do African American doctor named Joe Robinson and they were happily married until his death in 1964. Theresa made her last screen apperance in another uncredited role in 1958's The Gift of Love and upon the film's completion she retired from acting all together. She lived a comfortable remainder of her life having invested in movies and on October 8, 1985 Theresa Harris died from natural causes at her home in Inglewood, California. By her request she was interred at the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.

The BFF's of Classic Hollywood

Like everyone else famous people can make long lasting friendships too. From what I have read about a great many classic film stars and what relationships they had with other formidable actors you would be quite surprised at some of the friendships that they had. Here are a few:

Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck began their friendship in the 1930s and they remained the best of friends until Joan's death in 1977; during the course of their friendship Barbara and Joan frequently had lunch together, went out to the Cocoanut Grove from time to time accompanied by their then husbands (Franchot Tone and Robert Taylor), and they constantly sent letters back and forth. Here is a Christmas letter that Joan wrote for Barbara in 1962 (the hand written note at the bottom is Stanwyck's handwriting):
Some of Crawford's other Hollywood friends included Cesar Romero, Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Loretta Young, and Anita Loos. She even remained close to some of her ex-husbands including Franchot Tone and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Clark Gable and Victor Fleming were very good friends. They often fished and hunted together and when Clark Gable demanded that George Cukor be dismissed from Gone With The Wind he had Victor Fleming come in to direct the remainder of the film as he had just finished direction of The Wizard of Oz.

Irene Dunne and Loretta Young were very much gal-pals. The attended charity events and Academy Award dinners together very often and they were both very devot Roman Catholics who also went to the same Catholic church somewhere in Beverly Hills, CA and would sit next to one another along with Loretta's three sisters if they were able to attend. In fact because they came to Mass together reguarly the became known as "Our Lady of the Cadillacs".

Two other dear friends of Loretta Young's were actresses Jane Wyman and Rosalind Russell who were also Roman Catholics attending the same Catholic church and would assist Loretta and Irene with their church duties and Catholic charities. In fact, when Loretta Young won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1947 for her work in The Farmers Daughter she actually called Rosalind that morning to wish her luck with the ceremony that night because she had been nominated for her dramatic performance in Mourning Becomes Electra. At the ceremony that evening everyone was so convinced that Rosalind was going to win, because her performance got such rave reviews, that when Fredric March got on stage to announce the Best Actress of 1947 he actually began saying Rosalind Russell's name as he was pulling the paper out of the envelope.

When he looked and saw it was Loretta Young he cut off Roz's name short and said Loretta's name instead and when Loretta got on stage to accept the award she actually hesitated as accepting her Oscar and asked Fredric to hand her the envelope so that she could see for herself that she had she had won. After Loretta accepted her award Rosalind came up to her later in the evening, gave her a big hug and said, "Congratulations honey!". One of Loretta's best male friends was actor James Stewart, whom you'll get to read about in the next paragraph, whom she ate lunch with occasionally and was given an award by him in December 1987 when she recieved the Louella O. Parsons Award as being the best "image of Hollywood".

Henry Fonda and James Stewart were lifelong friends. In the early 1930s Fonda and Stewart roomed together at the same Actors Apartment in New York City and developed a strong friendship. When they both began their Hollywood careers in the mid-1930s they often lunched at the Hollywood Brown Derby or they went to either Stewart or Fonda's home for a meal followed by a game of ping pong or poker. In 1940, Stewart and Fonda were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor; Stewart for The Philadelphia Story and Fonda for The Grapes of Wrath. Stewart won that year and later when Henry came up to congratulate him for his accomplishment Stewart looked at him and said, "Henry I didn't deserve this, this should have gone to you". Fonda laughed and thanked him and told him that everyone gets what they deserve and that maybe he'd ge it next time. Henry would recieve an Academy Award before his death in 1982 and he did with his performance as Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond (1981). Until his death James and Henry were dear friends.

Bette Davis and Claude Rains developed a longlasting friendship when they were employed at Warner Bros. Studios in the 1930s and 1940s. Their first film apperance together was in Juarez (1939) followed by Now, Voyager (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), and Deception (1946). When Bette Davis was married to William Grant Sherry she suffered alot of physical and verbal abuse and when she wanted to evade him Claude Rains let her come down to stay with him and his family at their farm in West Bradford Township, PA just outside of West Chester. Even when Bette divorced Sherry in 1950 she was still always a welcomed guest at Rains farm whenever she wanted to come down. She and he would remain the best of friends until his death in 1967.