Wednesday, October 31, 2012


True movie fans, especially fans of classic movies put Hollywood stars up on a pedestal. The classic stars of Hollywood seemed larger than life and so far removed from the movie fan. However, there is one thing that the stars had in common with average people...they both will eventually face death. It is sort of ghoulish but I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the last words of some of our favorite icons of classic Hollywood...

Codeine . . . bourbon.
~~ Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968

How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?
~~ P. T. Barnum, entrepreneur, d. 1891

Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I'm happy.
~~ Ethel Barrymore, actress, d. June 18, 1959

Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.
~~ John Barrymore, actor, d. May 29, 1942

I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.
~~ Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957

That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.
~~ Lou Costello, comedian, d. March 3, 1959

Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow.
~~ Noel Coward, writer, d. 1973

That was a great game of golf, fellas.
~~ Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby, singer / actor, d. October 14, 1977

I've never felt better.
~~ Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., actor, d. December 12, 1939

Yes, it's tough, but not as tough as doing comedy.
(When asked if he thought dying was tough.)
~~ Edmund Gwenn, actor, d. September 6, 1959

Nothing matters. Nothing matters.
~~ Louis B. Mayer, film producer, d. October 29, 1957

Don't worry chief, it will be alright.
~~ Rudolph Valentino, actor, d. August 23, 1926

This is it. I'm going. I'm going.
~~ Al Jolson, singer, d. October 23, 1950

This isn't Hamlet, you know, it's not meant to go into the bloody ear. (To his nurse, who spilt water over him while trying to moisten his lips.)
~~Laurence Olivier, actor, d. July 11, 1989

"Don't you dare ask God to help me!" (Said to her housekeeper who had begun to pray aloud.
~~Joan Crawford, actress, d. May 10, 1977

"I think I'm losing it."
~~Frank Sinatra, singer, d. May 14, 1998

"Just don't leave me alone"
~~John Belushi, comedian, d. March 5, 1982

"I'm going to go be with Gloria now"
~~Jimmy Stewart, actor, d. July 2, 1997

"Curtain! Fast music! Light! Ready for the last finale! Great! The show looks good, the show looks good!" (he was yelling this in delirium on his death bed)
~~Florenz Ziegfeld, Broadway producer, d. July 22, 1932

You know how I love a party!
~~Rudy Vallee, singer, d. July 3, 1986

Monday, October 29, 2012


Here are some amazing vintage photographs of the great Boris Karloff becoming one of cinemas most famous movie monsters, Frankenstein. Karloff was 45 when this photo was taken as the actor was waiting to begin the long process of becoming Frankenstein for 1935′s, “Bride of Frankenstein“. Karloff would spend up to four hours sitting while the make up was applied. I have never seen this pictures before and they are amazing...

Saturday, October 27, 2012


The great Bela Lugosi was one of the greatest actors horror movies have ever seen. Lugosi took on the Dracula role and made it his own. Unfortunately, he was only remembered for that 1931 Dracula movie, and he was so much more of an actor. Here is a great article I found detailing the tragic horror stars final days...

He would play the Dracula character for a final time in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. in 1948. By this time, Lugosi's drug use was so notorious that the producers were not even aware that Lugosi was still alive, and had penciled in actor Ian Keith for the role. The film would be Bela Lugosi's last "A" movie. For the remainder of his life he appeared — less and less frequently — in obscure, low-budget features.Bela Lugosi died on August 16, 1956 of a coronary occlusion at the age of 73.  He was discovered in bed by his fifth wife, Hope, upon her return from work. Although he was all but forgotten in his later years, his death was deemed newsworthy enough for a photographer to rush to his apartment to snap a photograph of his body being wheeled away by the undertakers.

Hope told the press, “He was terrified of death. Towards the end he was very weary, but he was still afraid of death. Three nights before he died he was sitting on the edge of the bed. I asked him if he were still afraid to die. He told me that he was. I did my best to comfort him, but you might as well save your breath with people like that. They’re still going to be afraid of death.”

Bela’s death generated few in-depth obituaries. Most notices were embarrassingly brief, with the majority focusing on his much publicized  addiction to drugs, which came to light when he publicly committed himself to the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California the previous April. 

Bela’s funeral service was held at 2:30p.m. on Saturday August 18th at the Utter-McKinley Mortuary Chapel on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Prior to the service, his body lay in state in full Dracula garb. Although Hope told the press that “it was his wish” to be buried in his famous costume, it was actually the decision of Bela’s ex-wife Lillian and their son Bela Jnr.

The funeral service was a relatively small affair, conspicuous by the absence of Hollywood “big” names. In addition to Hope, Lillian and Bela Lugosi Jnr., those who attended included Zoltan Korda, filmmaker Edward D. Wood and his wife Kathy, Glen or Glenda producer George Weiss, Forest J Ackerman, actors Carroll Borland, Tor Johnson, Paul Marco, Conrad Brooks, Dudley Manlove and Loretta King, and Don Marlowe, one of Bela’s former agents. Moments before Bela’s casket was taken from the Utter McKinley Mortuary, Marlowe pushed aside pallbearer Richard Sheffield, one of Bela’s teenage friends, to ensure he was photographed by the waiting press.

Contrary to popular myth, Lillian Lugosi, not Frank Sinatra, paid for the funeral and the plot in Holy Cross Cemetery. Hope paid for the coffin. Bela was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, Los Angeles. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It is surprising that you can include Fred Astaire and horror in a sentence about a movie. Astaire was one of the great musical icons of the 1930s and 1940s. However, late in his life he made a little horror movie that is worth reviewing. Any horror movie is worth revisiting during the month of October. What is Halloween without a scary movie. Although the movie Ghost Story is not a moive that will keep you up after you watch it, it is pretty good and has some twists and turns. Ghost Story is a 1981 American horror film directed by John Irvin and based on the book of the same name by Peter Straub. It stars Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Houseman and Craig Wasson (in a dual role). It was the last film to feature Astaire, Fairbanks, and Douglas, and the first film to feature Michael O'Neill. The film was shot in Woodstock, VT, Saratoga Springs, NY and at Stetson University in Deland, FL. In a small New England town, four elderly friends form what they call the Chowder Society, an informal club where they regale each other with scary stories. Membership in the club, in fact, requires that one present such a story. The four friends are Ricky Hawthorne, a business owner, Sears James, a Lawyer, along with Dr. John Jaffrey and Edward Charles Wanderley, the Mayor. When Edward's son, David, living in New York, falls from a window after the girl he's sleeping with turns suddenly into a demon, Edward grieves. His other son, Don, a college professor who's fallen on hard times, shows up in town, not getting a great reception from Edward, who always preferred the other, more ambitious son. But now the four elderly gentlemen are unsettled and have nightmares. Clearly, something is bothering them. Edward becomes so distraught that he wanders across a bridge in the snow. When he sees the same female apparition that caused his son to fall to his death, Edward, too, falls to his death from the bridge. Although his death is ruled a suicide, his son Don and Edward's three remaining elderly friends doubt it. Don approaches the remaining three friends, requests membership in their group and offers up a bizarre "ghost" story of his own.

Don's flashback: A few years earlier, Don, then a promising junior professor, meets Alma, a beautiful if mysterious secretary who had come to work for the university. They immediately become involved in a torrid sexual affair that causes him to miss work and earn the scorn of the Dean who previously championed him. But Don finds a strange coldness about Alma, and he drops her. Later, he hears from his brother David that he has met the same girl in New York and intends to marry her. Don warns his brother that she's trouble, but to no avail. And indeed, Don suspects she caused his fatal fall from the building as seen earlier. In the present, the elderly friends react to Don's story. Sears discounts it, but Ricky believes him. Elderly Dr. John Jaffrey, after having a nightmare about the same woman, Alma, dies of a heart attack. This leaves only Sears and Ricky. Thus, they finally tell Don their own strange history with a woman who looked exactly like Alma.

Their flashback: Back when the four friends were young, the beautiful Eva Galli came to town, and, indeed, it's obvious that she's the same person as Alma in the present. The four friends are smitten with Eva, who encourages their sexual interest. It was Young Edward (Don's father) who first took her to bed, but he was impotent with her. Outside her house, the other three friends serenaded Eva in hopes of catching a glimpse of her when a shirtless Edward came to the window instead, giving the impression that he did sleep with her. Edward left with his friends, and the four became very drunk, discussing Eva's prowess in the bedroom. They returned to her house, where all but Sears danced with her. When it was proposed that they leave, Sears suggestively insisted on getting his dance, to which she pointedly responded that she intended to dance with all of them. She confronted Edward about what he had told his friends, then was about to tell them the truth when Young Edward leaped to silence her, knocking her down, accidentally smashing her head into the stone fireplace. Horrified, the young men believed that the unresponsive Eva was dead. They considered calling the police, but realized it would only mean wrecking their lives. Instead, they loaded her body into her car, then pushed it into the nearby lake. As the car descends, Eva stirred inside, looking out at them from the back window, screaming and hammering at the glass as the car sank beneath the surface, taking her with it.

Back in the present, Ricky and Sears admit that the death has haunted them all these years. Whereas Sears is dubious, both Ricky and Don believe that Alma and Eva are one and the same and that her ghost has returned to seek revenge. Don suggests they go to Eva's old house, now in ruins, to confront the past and her ghost once and for all. They go there, but Don falls on the rotting stairs and breaks his leg. Sears leaves in his car to seek help, leaving Don and Ricky behind. While driving through the snowstorm, Sears comes upon Eva's apparition. He slams on the brakes, and swerves to the side of the road. He survives, but is attacked by one of Eva's accomplices, Fenny Bate, and is presumably killed. Ricky nearly dies at the hands of Eva's other accomplice, Gregory Bate, but Ricky stabs him and escapes to get to the authorities, telling them to pull Eva's car up from the lake to reveal her body inside. This is intercut with Don, who confronts the rotting specter of Alma/Eva. Ricky and the authorities drag out the ancient car, wrenching open the rusted, corroded door, the un-dead rotting corpse of Eva lunges into view. It falls to the ground and begins to disintegrate before their eyes. Don is spared from her vengeance and the town is restored to peace. It is great to see movie icons like Fred Astaire, Melvin Douglas, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr at least one more time on the screen. The movie for me sort of drags in the end and loses steam, but the ending is gratifying enough. Throughout the year I like to watch Astaire movies like Follow The Fleet, The Bandwagon, and Silk Stockings, but I reserve the month of October to watch him in Ghost Story. It's a movie that won't really disappoint...

MY RATING: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


One of the movies that I simply love watching at Halloween is the original The Omen from 1976. However, with have a young son now and a wife who hates scary movies, I do not get the chance to watch it as much as I'd like. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick were the big name actors in the movie, but I wanted to see whatever happened to the true star of the movie - the child actor who played Damien. Harvey Spencer Stephens played the role perfectly, but never really did a lot in Hollywood.

Stephens was born on November 12, 1970 in Putney, London, England. He was four years old when picked for the part, which required him to have his blond hair dyed dark brown. According to Omen director Richard Donner, during an interview with AMC, Stephens got the part after he beat up Donner and punched him in the testicles, at Donner's urging. Because Harvey was so young, Richard Donner found that the best way to direct him was to provoke genuine reactions before the camera. For example, when Damien is angry at being taken to church, Donner got his peeved facial expression by shouting to Stephens off camera "What are you looking at you little bugger? I'll clobber you."

It was the only major film role in Stephens' career, apart from a small role in the 1980 TV film Gauguin the Savage. He also appears in the DVD special features section of the 2006 version of The Omen, and has a small role as a tabloid journalist in the film.

Interview footage of Stephens from 1996 was used in the 2005 documentary The Curse of the Omen, a programme detailing the supposed eerie coincidences surrounding the making of the film. Thirty years after originating his role in The Omen, he appeared in the 2006 remake as a news reporter. Stephens appeared on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Radio on 23 April 2008 to promote a film he was working on. As of today, it does not look like the movie ever was made. He said he also has started appearing at autograph signings / horror conventions "with my tricycle." Harvey is back to living in England now, where he has been employed as a futures trader on the London stock market and as late as 2010 was a property developer in Kent, England. He is married with a son, but I have no clue if his son is named Damien...

Friday, October 19, 2012


In the 1931 film Frankenstein, Boris Karloff stole the movie as The Monster. Even though his name in the movie was just "The Monster", he was forever known as "Frankenstein".  The scientist who actually created the monster was Dr. Henry Frankenstein. Audiences got the scare factor from Karloff's monster, but Colin Clive - who played the insane scientist got the best lines in the movie, and he was as important to the film as Karloff.

Colin Clive was born in Saint-Malo, France in 1900, to an English colonel, and he attended Stonyhurst College and subsequently Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where an injured knee disqualified him from military service and contributed to his becoming a stage actor. On stage, one of his roles was Steve Baker, the white husband of racially mixed Julie LaVerne, in the first London production of Show Boat. This production also featured Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Paul Robeson.

Clive first worked with James Whale in the Savoy Theatre production of Journey's End and subsequently joined the British community in Hollywood in the 1930s, repeating his stage role in the 1930 film version of Journey's End, which was directed by Whale.

Although Colin Clive made only three horror films, Whale's two Frankenstein films and Mad Love (1935), he is widely regarded as one of the essential stars of the genre by many film buffs. His portrayal of mad Dr. Frankenstein has proved inspiration and a launching pad for scores of other mad scientist performances in films over the years. When he screams "It's Alive!" as his creation comes to life, it is one of the cinema's best remembered lines.

Clive's first screen role, in Journey's End, was incidentally directed by James Whale. Clive played the alcoholic and tormented Captain Stanhope, a character that (much like Clive's other roles) tragically mirrored his personal life.

Clive was also an in-demand leading man for a number of major film actresses of the era, including Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Corinne Griffith and Jean Arthur. He also starred as Edward Rochester in a 1934 adaptation of Jane Eyre opposite Virginia Bruce. He was related to Clive of India and appeared in a featured role in a film biography of his relative in 1935.

From June 1929 until his death, Clive was married to actress Jeanne de Casalis. Although she worked in films and on stage, her greatest success was as a comedienne on radio sitcoms in England, playing the dithering "Mrs. Feather". De Casalis did not accompany her husband to Hollywood. They never had any children.

Colin Clive suffered from severe chronic alcoholism and died from complications of tuberculosis in 1937 at age 37. Clive's alcoholism was very much apparent to his co-stars, as he was often seen napping on set and sometimes was so intoxicated that he had to be held upright for over-the-shoulder shots. Filming of Frankenstein had to be halted a few times to let Clive sober up enough to do his scenes.

Over 300 mourners turned out for the lonely soul that died alone. One of the pallbearers was Peter Lorre. His cenotaph is located at Chapel of the Pines Crematory, but his ashes were scattered at sea in 1978 after they spent over 40 years unclaimed in the basement of the funeral parlour where his body was brought after his death. His life was tragically short, but in the few movies Colin Clive made he left a lasting impression. His crazed scientist in one of the horror genre's most beloved films will live on for generations and generations to come. In a sense Colin Clive achieved what his mad scientist character dreamed of creating - everlasting life...


I usually do not publish stories on this blog on social issues. After all this is a classic Hollywood blog, but I found this article on Vincent Price, originally published by his daughter, to be very interesting and informative...

Victoria Price, now a television writer, shares the father she knew in Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography (St. Martin's $27.50). In the book she explores the many gay rumors about Vincent. Now, exclusively for The Advocate, Victoria reveals a personal memory not included in the book--the story of how she came out to the "scariest" man in the world. 

I was standing at the bar in West Hollywood, Calif.'s club of the moment one night in the spring of 1989, talking with a group of hip Hollywood women I hardly knew, when a blond woman with a wry expression came over to me and said, "You're Vincent Price's daughter. Your father's gay, isn't he?" I don't remember my mumbled reply--except that, sadly, it wasn't very witty--"I don't know" or "He was married three times." But I do remember that I was shocked. Not because it was the first time someone had suggested that he might be gay or at the very least bisexual, but because, until that moment, I hadn't really understood the degree to which my 78-year-old father's sexuality, whatever it might be, had become public property to be discussed, analyzed, bandied about, as one might share a recipe or chat about the weather. I found it a discomforting revelation.

Vincent Price became a Broadway star in 1936, when he was 24 years old, playing Prince Albert to Helen Hayes's Queen Victoria in the hit play Victoria Regina. Success came overnight, and Helen took it upon herself to counsel her inexperienced young costar. "An actor is a public servant," she told him. "Never forget that." My father followed this advice assiduously throughout his more than 55-year career. He was unendingly generous to his fans, never refusing an autograph or declining an interview, and answering every fan letter personally. He led his life as an actor cum public servant with exemplary grace, even treating his occasional presence in the gossip columns with equanimity. And when his camp horror films or his superb portrayal of Oscar Wilde in an acclaimed one-man show or his marriage to the sexually adventuresome British actress Coral Browne raised idle chatter about his sexual orientation, he took it in stride. So why didn't I?

I came out to my father in my early 20s. We were driving down the hill from his house and I blurted it out in the car, eager to get to the other side of my uncomfortable announcement. "Oh, I know," he said, calmly negotiating a hairpin turn. "Coral already told me." My stepmother had, it seemed, guessed.

My father treated my bombshell with unruffled elan, tenderly solicitous of my well-being. He asked me about my partner, my lifestyle, my feelings. And after I had nervously delivered a heartfelt soliloquy, he quietly said, "I know just what you mean. All three of my wives were jealous of my friendships with men. But those friendships have always been very important to me. There can be a wonderful connection between two men or two women." Then he reached over and held my hand.

Shortly after my father told Coral the news, she presented me with a coming-out gift--a box of 40 silk bow ties! After spending most of World War II as the toast of the Savoy Theatre in London, my stepmother fled the Blitz during the last months of the war, taking refuge on the coast at Land's End. There she met Radclyffe Hall and her partner, whom Coral referred to as "the dreaded Una Troubridge." Coral's lesbian fashion sense remained stuck somewhere around D-Day.

After I came out my father and stepmother were nothing but supportive. Vincent was asked to join the honorary board of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and accepted; Coral lent a sympathetic ear to my romantic troubles. Both were eager to meet anyone I brought home, though my stepmother rarely missed an opportunity to flirt outrageously with my girlfriends or to comment on their looks or style. One woman, she told me with a very knowing smile, "does it very well." I took that as some kind of compliment. In fact, my lesbianism was probably my most salient quality as far as Coral was concerned. My stepmother and I had always had a rocky relationship. Although she loved me, she was extremely jealous of my close bond with my father and often made all of our lives quite miserable as a result. When she tumbled to the fact that I was gay, suddenly she felt much better. In her mind, I was no longer a threat.

When Vincent Price met Coral Browne in 1972, he was 61 and she was 59, but they fell in love like two teenagers. It wasn't just Coral's beauty, talent, or sexual abandon that seduced my father, it was also her reputation as a "scarlet woman," her famously bawdy humor, and her easy acceptance of other people's sexual preferences and proclivities that he found so appealing. They became known as a stylish, sophisticated couple, epitomizing the best of show business glamour and panache. When some suggested that their marriage might be one of convenience, they just laughed. They knew better.

I have sometimes wondered whether, if my father had not been married to Coral when I came out to him, his response would have been different. Would he have worried about me or, like many parents of gay children, felt responsible in some way? But Coral's laissez-faire approach to sexuality had had a liberating effect on my dad. Born in 1911 to an upper-middle-class family in St. Louis, he was raised in a society still clinging to late Victorian manners and mores. As he made a life for himself in the London and New York City theater and later in Hollywood, he gradually shed the constrictions of his upbringing and moved through the world with an openness that was remarkable for his era. But it was not until he met Coral that he flung his last remaining inhibitions to the wind.

When Coral died in 1991, my father was alone for the first time in more than 40 years. But he was also ill, his body succumbing to Parkinson's disease and emphysema, though his mind remained as vital as ever. So my father's secretary and caretaker, Reggie Williams, and I organized a circle of my mostly gay male friends into a group that Roddy McDowall took to calling "the angels." Attractive, interesting, and talented all, the angels took turns with Reggie and me in caring for my dad. We cooked him dinner and looked after his physical needs. But mostly we helped keep his mind and his interest in the world alive. As the months turned into years, my father found in all of us a new family. Increasingly, as he looked forward to a future he would not see, he began to envision a world not bound by the artifice and rigidity against which his generation had had to fight. And he felt a great sense of hope.

In the spring of 1993, my friends and I decided to go to the march on Washington. On our second night in D.C., we gathered around a pay phone and called my dad. We described the festivities and the fun we were having, and then we laughingly said that we wished he could have paraded down the streets with us, all waving our rainbow flags. His voice already ravaged by the illness that would take his life, he said, "I wish I was there."

After my father's death in 1993, I was asked to write his biography. I agreed, but with much trepidation, because once again I found myself facing other people's myriad theories about my father's sexuality. "Are you going to discuss your father's relationships with men?" one old friend asked me. "I know someone who has proof that your father was gay," said another acquaintance. But after a year of reluctantly chasing paper trails and interviewing supposedly airtight sources, not only had I uncovered nothing, but I also realized that I was searching for an answer that I did not wish to find.

My father once told me that he had had a passionate relationship with a man that was "like a love affair without the sex." He treasured his friendship with this cultured academic, who shared his enthusiasm for language and the arts, but my stepmother grew jealous of the time my father and his friend spent together and threatened an ugly divorce. The dissolution of that friendship, my father told me, had broken his heart.
In the end, it was Roddy McDowall who best summed up the "question" of my father's sexuality. "What we don't know," Roddy mused, "is what sex meant to him. If we don't know that, we don't know anything." Roddy was right. I will never know the most intimate details of my father's sexuality and, to tell the truth, I'm glad. Because what I do know is so much more important. I know, for example, that he cherished friendship and love between two people, whatever their gender or sexual preference; that he never judged people on the basis of their sexual choices; and, most important, that he accepted me, my partner, and my friends for who we were--with nothing but love. That was the father I knew; that was his legacy to me. That is the life I have written. And in doing so, I can only hope I have treated his life with as much understanding and compassion as he treated mine.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


There comes a time in the career of every actor and actress, when they need to sit back and pick roles that are age appropriate. It seems like that in the 1960s, Joan Crawford was still thinking she was the love goddess of MGM from the 1930s. I recently caught a TCM showing of I Saw What You Did, and I was amazed that in her 50s, Crawford was trying to play the object of desire.

I Saw What You Did (1965) is a Universal Pictures feature film starring Joan Crawford and John Ireland in a tale of murder. The screenplay by William P. McGivern was based upon the 1964 novel Out of the Dark by Ursula Curtiss. The film was produced and directed by William Castle.

When two mischievous teens Libby (Andi Garrett) and Kit (Sara Lane) are home alone with Libby's younger sister Tess (Sharyl Locke), they begin randomly dialing telephone numbers from the phonebook with prank messages, later telling whomever answers: "I saw what you did, and I know who you are." Libby places a call to Steve Marak (Ireland), a man who has recently murdered his wife (Joyce Meadows) and disposed of her body in the woods. Believing he has been found out, he decides to track down the caller and silence her.

Neighbor Amy Nelson (Joan Crawford) is in love with Marak and has been trying to woo him away from his wife. She finds out about the murder. Libby wants to get a look at Marak because she was intrigued by his voice and takes Tess and Kit in her parent's car to Marak's address. Libby is discovered by Amy and chased off. Thinking she's preventing Marak from meeting with a younger lover, Amy inadvertently saves Libby from being captured and killed, but Marak stabs her to death when she tries to blackmail him into marrying her. Amy had taken Libby's ID and Marak uses it to track down the girls.

During this time the parents have been unable to contact the girls by phone. A policeman arrives to investigate just after the girls arrive at Libby's home. Libby swears Kit to secrecy over their misadventure. Kit's father arrives to take her home. While he drives her home, the car radio announces that a woman's body was found in the woods with a description of the man seen leaving the burial site.

Marak enters the home and questions Libby and Tess about the call. Libby convinces him it was just a prank. He returns her ID and leaves but waits outside. Kit calls Libby and Libby describes Marak. Kit tells her that he matches the description of the killer. Marak overhears this and returns to silence Libby and Tess but they evade him. Kit tells her father and he calls the police. Libby tries to escape but cannot start her parent's car. Marak emerges from the back seat and starts to strangle Libby, but he is shot by a police officer. Libby and Tess return to their home to await their parents' arrival.

This low budget horror flick was pretty much panned by critics, but audiences seemed to enjoy the cheesy value of the film. The film scenes especially the murder of the wife, seems choppy at best. Crawford overacted in the film like she was starring in an Oscar worthy romp. My wife always says I love every classic movie, but this movie will prove her wrong. I thought the film was horrible, but it did fill my Saturday night when nothing else was on...


Monday, October 15, 2012


Looking at old pictures of classic Hollywood, it was such a glamourous time for tinsel town. I never get tired seeing classic pictures, and I especially love at this time of the year to take a look back at some classic Hollywood Halloween pictures. They were not really scary but they were fun...

CAROLE LOMBARD (1908-1942)

BETTY GRABLE (1916-1973)


MARTHA VICKERS (1925-1971)

ADELE JERGENS (1917-2002)

CLARA BOW (1905-1965)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


It is hard to believe that Bing Crosby has been gone now for 35 years. I was only 3 when he died, so I did not recognize what the magnitude of his passing meant. Even though I was too young then to remember it, I remember the date of October 14, 1977 as if I was a witness to his passing. More younger people should learn about what Bing Crosby meant to the entertainment world, and realize that Bing was a great innovator as well. The memory of Bing Crosby was sadly diluted in the 1980s and 1990s, but hopefully a new generation will discover the talent and magic that is Bing Crosby.

The year 1977 began poorly for Bing. In March 1977, during a televised concert to celebrate his fifty years in show business, he fell backwards into an orchestra pit headfirst. He ruptured a disc in his back, and was hospitalized for a month. After recovering, he made appearances all over the world, from Norway to England to tape a Christmas special, which featured David Bowie the famous Christmas duet. After taping the special, he recorded his final album, Seasons. Bing’s next stop was the London Palladium for a two-week engagement. Then he and his band went to Brighton where they performed their final performance on October 10. The next day Bing was a guest on the Alan Dell radio show, where he sang eight songs with the Gordon Rose Orchestra. Later that day he posed for photos for the Seasons album. The next day Bing headed for Spain to play golf .

On the afternoon of October 14, 1977, Bing was playing at the La Morajela golf course near Madrid, Spain. He finished 18 holes with a score of 85, and with a partner, defeated two Spanish golf pros. After his last putt, Bing bowed to applause and said, "It was a great game." He was about 20 yards from the clubhouse, when he collapsed from a massive heart attack. His three golfing companions remarked that he did not look tired and was even singing around the course, though he seemed to be favoring his left arm near the end of the game. They thought he had slipped. They carried him to the clubhouse, where a physician attempted to revive him, to no avail. Bing Crosby was dead on arrival, at the Red Cross hospital. He was 74. A few hours after learning of her husband’s death, Kathryn issued a statement, "I can’t think of any better way for a golfer who sings for a living to finish the round." Their son Harry, 19, and the family’s former butler, Alan Fisher, flew to Spain to accompany Bing’s body back to LA. The most widely heard voice of the 20th Century and maybe all time was silenced on that fateful day on October 14, 1977...

Friday, October 12, 2012


Picking my five favorite films of the 1970s was harder for me than I thought. I never realized how many high quality movies were made in that disco decade. One thing I do know is my favorite film of all time was made in that decade. Here are my five favorite movies of the 1970s, and I have to pick at least five honorable mentions…

5. THE JERK (1979)
This uproarious comedy made Steve Martin a star. Directed by Carl Reiner, the film was written by Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb and Michael Elias. This was Steve Martin's first starring role in a feature film. The film also features Bernadette Peters, M. Emmet Walsh and Jackie Mason. In the film Martin plays Navin Johnson. He was abandoned as a child and raised by a sympathetic black family. Now grown Navin does not realize that he is white and not black. He longs to find his way in the world so he sets off to find his “special purpose”. Look for Carl Reiner in a small role playing “Carl Reiner the actor” The movie is simple and Martin’s character is idiotic, but I find myself laughing my way through the movie each time I see it.

4. STAR WARS (1977)
The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year intervals. In my opinion, the second movie of the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back, was the best movie in the serious. However, this first movie set the stage for one of the most popular movie series in cinema history. The events depicted in Star Wars media take place in a fictional galaxy. Many species of alien creatures (often humanoid) are depicted. Robotic droids are also commonplace and are generally built to serve their owners. Space travel is common, and many planets in the galaxy are members of a Galactic Republic, later reorganized as the Galactic Empire. I am not a science fiction fan, but this series was one of the biggest things during my childhood. I long for those days.

The comedy scene in the 1970s belonged to Mel Brooks. Hollywood never truly saw the type of movies Brooks directed until he came along. The film stars Gene Wilder as the descendent of Dr. Frankenstein who uncovers his family scientific secrets. Peter Boyle is very underrated as the Monster. The cast is made in cinema heaven and included: Marty Feldman (perfect as Igor), Terri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Gene Hackman (in a scene stealing cameo). The film is an affectionate parody of the classical horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein produced by Universal in the 1930s. Most of the lab equipment used as props were created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein. To further reflect the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black-and-white, a rarity in the 1970s, and employed 1930s-style opening credits and scene transitions such as iris outs, wipes, and fades to black. The film also features a notable period score by Brooks' longtime composer John Morris. Young Frankenstein is easily one of my favorite comedies of all time.

This film sequel is one of those rare sequels, where the second movie surpasses the original film in popularity and quality. The movie is a 1974 American crime epic that Francis Ford Coppola produced, directed, and co-wrote with Mario Puzo, starring Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and Robert De Niro. Partially based on Puzo's 1969 novel, The Godfather, the film is in part both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, presenting two parallel dramas. The main storyline, following the events of the first film, centers on Michael Corleone (Pacino), the new Don of the Corleone crime family, trying to hold his business ventures together from 1958 to 1959; the other is a series of flashbacks following his father, Vito Corleone (De Niro), from his childhood in Sicily in 1901 to his founding of the Corleone family in New York City. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards and the first sequel to win for Best Picture, its six Oscars included Best Director for Coppola, Best Supporting Actor for De Niro and Best Adapted Screenplay for Coppola and Puzo. Pacino won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. It deserved every award it received.

1. JAWS (1975)
I personally have to name Jaws as my favorite movie of the 1970s. It is also my favorite movie of all-time. Many people are surprised that this would be an all time favorite movie, but I have converted a few non believers to appreciate and realize what a great movie this is. Jaws is a 1975 American horror/thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history. In the story, a giant man-eating great white shark attacks beachgoers on Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, prompting the local police chief to hunt it with the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter. The film stars Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, Murray Hamilton as the mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife, Ellen. The screenplay is credited to both Benchley, who wrote the first drafts, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb, who rewrote the script during principal photography. I could write a book just on this movie, even though I have seen the film at least 70 times, I still find tidbits that I miss…

Of course, I had to pick some honorable mentions – and all the films on this list deserve to be on the top list. Some truly remarkable and great films were made in the 1970s: The Godfather (1972), Blazing Saddles (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and Network (1976).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Legendary singer and actress Debbie Reynolds was forced to cancel three months of shows after being hospitalized for an adverse reaction to prescription medication, her rep tells the Associated Press.

Reynolds, 80, still remains in the hospital.

"Debbie was hospitalized at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles due to an adverse reaction she experienced to a medication she was currently taking," her rep said in a statement. "On the advice of her doctors, Reynolds has been forced to cancel appearances and concert engagements for the next three months."

The “Singin’ in the Rain” star maintains a prolific live concert tour schedule, her rep said, adding she hopes to make her scheduled appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day on the “Follow the Stars, Adopt a Pet” float...



Alex Karras, a fierce and relentless All-Pro lineman for the Detroit Lions whose irrepressible character placed him frequently at odds with football’s authorities but led to a second career as an actor on television and in the movies, died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 77.

Karras had kidney disease, heart disease and stomach cancer, his family said in a statement announcing his death, as well as dementia. He was among the more than 3,500 former players who are suing the National Football League in relation to the long-term damage caused by concussions and repeated hits to the head.

To those under 50, Karras may be best known as an actor. He made his film debut in 1968, playing himself in “Paper Lion,” an adaptation of George Plimpton’s book about his experience as an amateur playing quarterback for the Lions, which starred Alan Alda as Plimpton.

His rendering of his own roguish personality led to several appearances on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” and in the 1970s he played numerous guest roles on series television, on shows like “McMillan and Wife,” “Love, American Style,” “M*A*S*H” and “The Odd Couple,” in which he played a comically threatening man-mountain, the jealous husband of a woman who has become friendly with Felix (Tony Randall). Perhaps most memorably, he played Mongo, a hulking subliterate outlaw who delivers a knockout punch to a horse, in the Mel Brooks western spoof “Blazing Saddles.”

In 1975 he played George Zaharias, the husband of the champion track star and golfer Babe Didrickson Zaharias, in the television movie “Babe.” The title role was played by Susan Clark, who became his wife, and from 1983 to 1989, they starred together in the gentle sitcom “Webster,” about a retired football player who takes in a black boy (Emmanuel Lewis), the orphaned young son of a former teammate.

But Karras, at 6 feet 2 inches tall and 248 pounds — large then but smaller in comparison with N.F.L. lineman of today — first earned fame as a ferocious tackle for the Lions. He anchored the defensive line for 12 seasons over 13 years, 1958-70.

It was an era when the N.F.L. was rife with talent at the position — Karras’s contemporaries included the Hall of Famers Bob Lilly and Merlin Olsen — but he was an especially versatile pass rusher, known around the league for his combination of strength, speed and caginess. His furious approach — Plimpton described it as a “savage, bustling style of attack” — earned him the nickname the Mad Duck.

“Most defensive tackles have one move, they bull head-on,” Doug Van Horn, a New York Giants offensive lineman who had to block Karras, said in 1969. “Not Alex. There is no other tackle like him. He has inside and outside moves, a bull move where he puts his head down and runs over you, or he’ll just stutter-step you like a ballet dancer.”

Karras was named to four Pro Bowls, and he was a member of the N.F.L’s All-Decade team of the 1960s. He was never elected to the Hall of Fame, however, an oversight that has sometimes been attributed to the fact that the Lions fielded mostly undistinguished teams during his tenure; in Karras’s only playoff game, the Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys by the unlikely score of 5-0 in 1970.

But another theory is that his unwillingness to be an obedient N.F.L. citizen — especially his antagonism toward the longtime N.F.L. commissioner Pete Rozelle — resulted in an unofficial blackballing. Witty, brash and probably smarter than your average bear (or Lion or Packer or Giant, for that matter), Karras was, throughout his career, a thorn in the side of league authorities, speaking out against team owners in general and the Lions’ management in particular. He deplored the way players were treated like chattel on the one hand, deployed as seen fit, and children on the other, held to restrictive behavioral standards, scolded and disciplined.

Karras in Blazing Saddles (1975)

Alexander George Karras was born on July 15, 1935, in Gary, Ind., where his father, George, a Greek immigrant, was a doctor, and his mother, the former Emmeline Wilson, was a nurse. An all-state football player in high school, he attended the University of Iowa, where in 1957 he won the Outland Trophy as the outstanding interior lineman in college football. In 1958, he was drafted in the first round by the Lions.

Karras’s other film credits included roles in the raunchy comedy “Porky’s,” the suspense thriller “Against All Odds” and the gender confusion comedy “Victor/Victoria.” He spent three seasons in the broadcast booth, working with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” and later wrote a novel, “Tuesday Night Football,” sending up his experience. He also wrote an autobiography, “Even Big Guys Cry.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by their daughter, Katherine Karras; a sister, Nan Reisen; three brothers, Louis, Paul and Ted; five children from a previous marriage, Alex Jr., Peter, Carolyn Karras, George and Renald; and five grandchildren.

Karras named one of his sons after George Plimpton, and for years he told journalists he named another after Rozelle, as a way of remembering the humbling experience of his suspension. But he put an end to that charade in an interview with Sport magazine in 1970, in which he said that though he was wrong to gamble on games the punishment was overly harsh, and that Rozelle had used him to establish his reputation for toughness. His son Peter, he said, was named after his father-in-law.

“And I said, ‘Yeah, I named him after Rozelle,’ ” he told the magazine, “which is a lie ’cause I wouldn’t name anyone after that buzzard.”



This Encino house was built in 1935 for World's Greatest Entertainer/Jazz Singer star Al Jolson and 42nd Street/Gold Diggers of 1933 star Ruby Keeler, after their divorce in 1940 Jolson sold it briefly and then moved into it in 1945 again with his fourth and final wife. Jolson died in 1950. Since then it seems to have been owned pretty much exclusively by celebrities. Those include both Katey Sagal and Steven Seagal (separately), Kirstie Alley, Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards, and Don Ameche, according to the Movieland Directory. It just sold last December and Blockshopper has money manager Jack Benadon listed as an owner--he often provides cover for celebrities on home ownership records, so the tradition appears to be holding strong. The two-acre property includes a main house with seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a dining room, a screening room with bar (genius), a gym, a wine cellar, and a butler's pantry, plus a pool, a sports court, and a guesthouse with a full bathroom and kitchenette. It sold last year for $5.2 million and is now asking $6.5 million...


Monday, October 8, 2012


I used to be big into making audio cassettes and corresponding with others via that lost medium. As a result, I had friends all over the world including England. Those friends in England, all of whom I greatly missed, introduced me to the great British dance bands and great vocalists of the 1940s and 1950s. If it was not for them, I probably never would have known who Frankie Vaughan was.

Born on February 3, 1928 Vaughan was an English singer who specialized in traditional popluar music. He was born Frank Abelson to a Jewish family in Devon Street, Liverpool, England. The name 'Vaughan' came from a grandmother whose first grandson he was, who used to call Frank 'my number one' grandson, in whose Russian accent 'one' sounded like 'Vaughan'.

Vaughan's career began in the late 1940s in the theatre doing variety song and dance acts. He was known as a fancy dresser, wearing top hat, bow tie, tails, and carrying a cane. In the 1950s he worked for a few years with the Nat Temple band, and after that period he then began making records, and was popular in the UK. In 1955, he recorded what was to become his trademark song, "Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl".

He recorded a large number of songs that were covers of United States hit songs, including Perry Como's "Kewpie Doll," Jimmie Rodgers' "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," Boyd Bennett's "Seventeen" (also covered in the US by the Fontane Sisters), Jim Lowe's "The Green Door," and (with The Kaye Sisters), The Fleetwoods' "Come Softly to Me". From the 1950s through to the early 1960s, his recordings were popular in the UK. In 1956, his cover of "The Green Door" reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart. The same year he was voted 'Showbusiness Personality of the Year'. In early 1957, his version of "The Garden of Eden", reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1961, Vaughan hit #1 in the UK again, with "Tower of Strength", but the rise of beat music eclipsed his chart career for two or three years, before he returned to the Top 10 in 1967 with "There Must Be A Way". Chart success eluded him after this although he did have two more Top 40 singles; "Nevertheless" and "So Tired".

Managed at this time by the former journalist and theatrical agent Paul Cave he went to the United States in 1960 to make a movie with Marilyn Monroe, Let's Make Love, and was an actor in several other movies, but his recordings were never chart hits in the US. In 1961, Vaughan was on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London.

He continued performing until 1985, when he starred in a stage version of 42nd Street at Drury Lane in London, opposite his old friend Shani Wallis who appeared in their first film together, Ramsbottom Rides Again with Arthur Askey. After a year, he suffered a near fatal bout of peritonitis and had to leave the cast. According to the BBC obituary, Vaughan was married to Stella from 1951 to 1999 and they had three children and several grandchildren. He was created an OBE in 1965, a CBE in 1996, and as a resident of High Wycombe had been a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Buckinghamshire since 1993. He was an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University. He died from heart failure in Oxford in 1999, aged 71. I can not speak for how Frankie Vaughan is remembered in England, but in the United States I know Vaugahan is truly forgotten to most people...

Saturday, October 6, 2012


"Annie" burst out onto the screen thirty years ago now, and it is hard to believe that it's actually been that long. It is truly hard to believe that it has been that long but the girl who played Annie - Aileen Quinn - is no longer a little girl as she is now 41.

Back in 1982, "Annie" became a huge phenomenon and the anniversary is being celebrated with a special edition, commemorative Blu-ray. It will feature a sing-a-long feature that allows fans to go right along with their favorite songs.

.Aileen Quinn is all grown up now, but she will always be Annie.

Yahoo Movies did speak with Quinn, and the former child star revealed some interesting facts about "Annie" that were previously unknown. They bring some cool info to life, especially about the audition.

The late Gene Siskel, famed movie critic, was very critical of "Annie" even though it garnered a few Oscar nominations and Quinn got a Golden Globe nomination. Quinn remembers, "He said 'I think those freckles were painted on.' And if you could see me right now in person they were definitely not painted on. I'm a freckled girl, I'm very Irish."

Quinn discussed co-star Carol Burnett (Miss Hannigan) as being a huge lifesaver for her. They are still in touch to this day and even get together for dinners once in a while. Quinn says that Burnett took good care of her on the set and would never let her get in harm's way.

For auditions, director John Huston staged a huge nationwide hunt for the lead in "Annie." The audition process involved 8,000 hopeful little girls over the span of a year. Quinn said she auditioned eight total times and couldn't believe it when she got the part. She was told by search coordinator Garrison True after another screen test.

"He said, 'We found our Annie ' And I said, 'Oh my gosh who is it!?' and he said, 'It's YOU!' [laughing]. 'You're going to be on the "Today Show" tomorrow,'" Quinn recounted. "I was in shock."

"What a great actor to work with," she said of Albert Finney. Finney was beginner in singing. Quinn recalls her fondest memory of Finney's constant singing practice on the sets.

"One of my favorite memories of him is [Albert] learning to really sing for the first time. He did that beautiful version of 'Maybe' ... As he was taking singing lessons on the set, I can remember him with a cigar out of his mouth and going 'la la la la la la la,' pause, 'la la la la la la la."

Quinn has disclosed how when she was sleepy between takes, Finney would tickle her knees to keep her awake when they were sitting in the back of the Duesenberg.

Finney was also a beginner in dance. Quinn also shares how dedicated Finney was to learning the right moves. He would put bottle caps underneath his loafers to practice tap dancing, "He was, like, in it to win it... so adorable."

Carol Burnett, who played the role of the almost always tipsy orphanage warden, Miss Hannigan, was a mother-hen to Quinn and the two keep in touch till date.

"She (Burnett) would help me do my homework on set, cover the hole when I was climbing the bridge (in the final sequence of the film) and just protect me. She was so kind," quoted Quinn as saying.

The memory with Bernadette Peters that Quinn remembers the most is when Peters was struggling with driving a stick shift. "...this New York City girl was having a lot of trouble with that."

Quinn presently serves as an adjunct professor at Monmouth University, New Jersey, whose administration building was used as Warbucks' mansion in the film. However, she is on extended leave as she has also started a band aptly called "The Leapin Lizards," which covers the 50s songs with a modern touch.

Entertainment Weekly asked the former child artist if she still had a closet of red dresses. Quinn replied that she didn't have any but her mother had kept two of the "Annie" dresses for safe keeping...