Friday, September 30, 2022

DAVID DUNCAN'S HOLLYWOOD: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

Sunday, September 25, 2022

THE BOX OFFICE STARS: 1946

By 1946, World War II was over, and America was getting back to normal. A part of being normal was going back to the movies. The year 1946 was one of the biggest years of movie audience attendance on record. Continuing his streak as the number one star, Bing Crosby continues his reign as the king of the box office in 1946.



Here are the box office champs of 1946:

1 Bing Crosby
2 Ingrid Bergman
3 Van Johnson
4 Gary Cooper
5 Bob Hope
6 Humphrey Bogart
7 Greer Garson
8 Margaret O?Brien
9 Betty Grable
10 Roy Rogers





Wednesday, September 21, 2022

HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY: INGER STEVENS

Inger Stevens led a troubled life. Broken relationships and depression clouded her career in Hollywood. She died tragically in 1970 at the age of 35. In her short life she made countless memorable appearances on television and movies, and we have some great photographs of this fallen Hollywood beauty...



















Wednesday, September 14, 2022

HOLLYWOOD MYSTERIES: THE DEATH OF JIMMIE LUNCFORD

In the 1940s, Seaside was witness to a curious and disturbing incident. Despite an abundance of musical clubs and dance halls — Club Monterey, The Lodge and the Bungalow — race relations were tense. Oregon’s Democratic Sen. Wayne Morse, a champion of civil and labor rights, joined progressive politicians in calling for equal rights for all races with the passage of a national Civil Rights Act.

Many Oregonians — including the editor of the Seaside Signal in a 1948 editorial — feared Morse’s stance would create a backlash and lead to “even more terrible persecution in America.”
In the ‘40s, Sandy Winnett worked as a waitress at the ice cream shop adjacent to the Bungalow. Today she is a volunteer at the Seaside Museum and Historical Society. Winnett remembers an “open-minded attitude” among most Seaside residents, a time when people of all backgrounds “came to dance” in Seaside.
 
“Dancing in those days was a much bigger social event than it is today,” added longtime Seaside resident and author Gloria Stiger Linkey. “We danced every Friday night at the high school. After the basketball and football games, we had a dance. We danced all the time.”
Linkey remembered a time when teens would drive their cars — or their parents’ cars — to Seaside’s Cove, turn their radios on and dance through the night by the beach.

It was into this environment that bandleader and alto saxophonist Jimmie Lunceford arrived in July 1947 to play the Bungalow, the city’s preeminent dance hall. It wasn’t just white bands like Glenn Miller and Tex Beneke that headlined Seaside’s top club, but groups like Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway and Fats Waller.

“To the local teenagers, the Bungalow was heaven,” Lunceford’s biographer Eddy Determeyer wrote.
Lunceford was considered to be on an equal with Count Basie and Duke Ellington, Linkey said. “He had a master’s degree in music. He was a very educated man.”


But Lunceford’s arrival was said to be anything but civil. Lunceford and his band were an all-black ensemble, although Lunceford had in the past led integrated bands.

Rumors have circulated throughout the years that a racist restaurant owner poisoned Lunceford. According to accounts presented in his biography of Lunceford, 2009’s Music is Our Business, Lunceford’s musicians learned the Bungalow dance was to be played for a segregated crowd — whites only.
 
Management asked Lunceford’s black valet to stand out front and discourage black couples who came to purchase tickets from buying: “They don’t want to sell to people like us.” Lunceford band bass player Truck Parham remembered that band members walked into a restaurant on Downing, not far from the Bungalow.
 
On scanning the group, the waitress is said to have told the musicians: “Can’t serve you. We don’t have no food.”
 
Determeyer writes that Lunceford, normally even-tempered, even restrained, pounded the table with his fists.
 
“What the hell do you mean, you can’t serve us?!” Lunceford demanded. “Call the manager!” The waitress panicked and hurried back to the kitchen.
 
After a minute or two, Determeyer wrote, she came back and said the men could order after all. The guys ordered hamburgers.
 
“No, I’m sorry,” the waitress said. “We don’t have nothing but beef sandwiches, hot beef sandwiches.”
The grumbling musicians ordered the sandwiches, with the exception of bassist Truck Parham. “The rest of the band ate it,” Parham said. “Lunceford had it.” Parham left without eating. According to Determeyer’s account, after the meal, the band members returned to the Bungalow, except for Lunceford, who complained he was tired and wasn’t feeling well. He headed across the street to Callahan’s Radio and Record Shop at 411 Broadway, next to the Broadway Café, to autograph albums for fans.
 
There Lunceford collapsed and died. He was 46 years old.


 According to the news story in the July 1947 Signal, Lunceford was about to autograph Callahan’s record store wall, reserved for musical celebrities who came to Seaside, when owners Edward and Walter Hill noticed the bandleader looking weak and ill. A moment later Lunceford collapsed and was seized by severe convulsions, according to the newspaper’s report. The owners called the police and an ambulance, but Lunceford died before reaching Seaside hospital. The show, despite Lunceford’s death, went on that night, Determeyer wrote, but one musician after the other left the bandstand and headed to the restroom. “I’m the only one that didn’t get sick,” Parham said. “Botulism, you know.”
 
Lunceford, a teetotaler, was “a perfectly healthy man who had boxed, run track and played softball,” according to trumpeter Joe Wilder. “It was one of the saddest days of my life.”
 
At the request of his wife, Crystal, Lunceford’s body was flown to New York City for the funeral service. The leader was buried in Memphis, his hometown. A memorial service with remaining band members took place that week at Rockaway Beach, the last concert before the Lunceford Orchestra permanently disbanded. But before long, Determeyer wrote, “the myth surrounding Lunceford’s death was in full swing.” The Clatsop County Coroner declared Lunceford died of “coronary occlusion, due to thrombosis of anterior coronary artery due to arteriosclerosis” — in other words a heart attack caused by a blockage. Determeyer’s telling casts doubt on the coroner’s report. “Simple, plain racism is really the key word here,” Determeyer said via email last week.
 
Controversy lingers But Seaside residents and even a jazz musicologist, disagree. Seaside’s Linkey thinks it’s not plausible Lunceford and his bandmates were sickened or worse, or even turned away.
“Oh, he was served,” Linkey said. “There was no animosity. No racism at all. At least growing up in Seaside, I didn’t feel it.” As a tourist town, the goal was to sell as many tickets as possible, she said. “Because if you can serve tourists, you can serve an African-American.”


Linkey added the biographer “takes giant leaps” in suggesting a racial incident was a factor in Lunceford’s death. Linkey said while there “weren’t many blacks in the area,” there were no segregated dances.
 
“We did have African-Americans in the summer from Portland. There was an influx during World War II. They worked in the shipyards.”
 
Seaside’s Mary Cornell, who attended dances since she was in eighth grade in the war years, said people of all ages were welcome at the Bungalow. She said she never saw anyone turned away.
African-Americans also came to Gearhart and Seaside as domestics for wealthy families, Cornell said. Sandy Winnett said Determeyer’s account was “extremely unlikely.”
 
Even a jazz musicologist, Lewis Porter, pianist, Rutgers University professor and author of “Jazz: From Its Origins to the Present,” doubts the poisoning rumor.
 
“It was probably not a good idea for Determeyer to throw in at the very last sentence of the chapter that Jimmie may have been poisoned for being black,” Porter said via email.
 
Botulism is not a poison and cannot be “manufactured” or “planted,” Porter said. “It’s simply a severe form of food poisoning that can occur in, for example, rotten meal. But he (Lunceford) died from a heart attack — nothing to do with the food! He’s not the first guy to die suddenly at a relatively young age from unsuspected heart trouble, especially in those days.”
 
Poisoning is not the only rumor to survive surrounding the cause of Lunceford’s death, which range from “Lunceford ate a double portion of chili con carne while on tour and died almost immediately” to a theory he was shot by a gangster while signing records at Callahan’s.
 
Lunceford band member Truck Parham died in 2002. Trumpeter Joe Wilder died in 2014. With them go their eyewitness accounts.
 
Are the still lingering suspicions about the Lunceford death akin to the mistrust so many black Americans still feel about the police and other authorities?
 
Maybe the best way to reflect upon this incident is by stressing the goal of diversity that Lunceford, progressive politicians like Sen. Wayne Morse and Seaside’s young music lovers of the 1940s — in love with the bands, the swing and the dance — were so desperately attempting to foster.



Monday, September 12, 2022

RIP: MARSHA HUNT

TORONTO — Marsha Hunt, one of the last surviving actors from Hollywood's so-called Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s who worked with performers ranging from Laurence Olivier to Andy Griffith in a career disrupted for a time by the McCarthy-era blacklist, has died. She was 104.

Hunt, who appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows, died Wednesday at her home in Sherman Oaks, California, said Roger Memos, the writer-director of the 2015 documentary "Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity."

A Chicago native, she arrived in Hollywood in 1935 and over the next 15 years appeared in dozens of films, from the Preston Sturges comedy "Easy Living" to the adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" that starred Olivier and Greer Garson.


She was well under 40 when MGM named her "Hollywood's Youngest Character Actress." And by the early 1950s, she was enough of a star to appear on the cover of Life magazine and seem set to thrive in the new medium of television when suddenly "the work dried up," she recalled in 1996.
Hunt protested the House Un-American Activities Committee

The reason, she learned from her agent, was that the communist-hunting Red Channels publication had revealed that she attended a peace conference in Stockholm and other supposedly suspicious gatherings. Alongside Hollywood stars Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart and Danny Kaye, Hunt also went to Washington in 1947 to protest the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was conducting a witch hunt for communists in the film industry.

"I'd made 54 movies in my first 16 years in Hollywood," Hunt said in 1996. "In the last 45 years, I've made eight. That shows what a blacklist can do to a career."

Hunt concentrated on the theater, where the blacklist was not observed, until she began occasionally getting film work again in the late 1950s. She appeared in the touring companies of "The Cocktail Party," "The Lady's Not for Burning" and "The Tunnel of Love," and on Broadway in "The Devil's Disciple," "Legend of Sarah″ and "The Paisley Convertible."


Marcia Virginia Hunt (she changed the spelling of her first name later) was born in Chicago and grew up in New York City, daughter of a lawyer-insurance executive and a voice teacher. Slender and stylish, with a warm smile and large, expressive eyes, Hunt studied drama and worked as a model before making her film debut.

Hunt's first movie was 1935′s "The Virginia Judge." She went on to play demure roles in a series of films for Paramount, including "The Accusing Finger" and "Come on Leathernecks," but, as she told The Associated Press in 2020, she was tired of "sweet young things" and begged for more substantial work.
She nearly landed a key role in 'Gone with the Wind'

Hollywood proved a painful education. In "Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity," she remembered almost getting the part of Melanie Wilkes in "Gone with the Wind," even being assured by producer David O. Selznick. Within days, Olivia de Havilland was announced as the actor who would play Melanie for the 1939 epic.

"That's the day I grew up," Hunt said in the documentary. "That's the day I knew I could never have my heart broken again by this profession of acting."

She left Paramount for MGM around the time of "Gone with the Wind" and had lead or supporting roles in "These Glamour Girls," "Flight Command" and "The Human Comedy" among other movies.

She remained vigorous and elegant in old age. In 1993, she put out "The Way We Wore: Styles of the 1930s and '40s and Our World Since Then," a lavishly illustrated book of the fashions during her Hollywood heyday.

More recently, she helped create a refuge for the homeless in Los Angeles' Sherman Oaks neighborhood, where she lived and was feted with the title honorary mayor.

Looking back on her activist years, Hunt remarked in 1996: "I never craved an identity as a figure of controversy. But having weathered it and found other interests in the meantime, I can look back with some philosophy."



Saturday, September 3, 2022

A DISCOGRAPHY MOMENT: BILLIE HOLIDAY - SEPTEMBER 3, 1954

By 1954, Billie Holiday's voice was not what it once was. After years of alcohol and drug abuse, her voice was not as strong, but the depth of pain and heart ache made her singing all the much better. Here is what she recorded exactly 68 years ago today...


Harry Edison, trumpet; Willie Smith, alto sax; Bobby Tucker, piano; Barney Kessel, guitar; Red Callender, bass; Chico Hamilton, drums; Billie Holiday, vocals.

Los Angeles, CA, September 3, 1954

1930-2Love Me Or Leave MeClef 89150, MGC-721; Verve VE-2-2515
1931-5P.S. I Love YouVerve VE-2-2515
1932-6Too Marvelous For WordsClef MGC-721; Verve VE-2-2515
1933-7SoftlyVerve VE-2-2515
1934-7I Cried For YouClef unissued
1935-3I Thought About YouClef 89150, MGC-721; Verve VE-2-2515
1936-6What A Little Moonlight Can DoClef unissued
1937-1Willow Weep For MeClef 89141, MGC-721; Verve VE-2-2515
1938-3Stormy BluesClef 89141; Verve VE-2-2515

* Clef MGC-721; Verve MGV-8099; ARS G-431   Lady Sings The Blues
* Verve VE-2-2515   Billie Holiday - Stormy Blues
* Clef 89150, 89150x45   Billie Holiday - Love Me Or Leave Me / I Thought About You
* Clef 89141, 89141x45   Billie Holiday - Willow Weep For Me / Stormy Blues


Sunday, August 28, 2022

THE ANDREWS SISTERS AND BEI MIR BIST DU SCHOEN

For six years during the 1930s, Patty, Maxene and LaVerne Andrews toured the United States, first with a vaudeville show and then with their chaperoning parents, singing in any club, dive or theater that would hire them. In late 1937, their father was becoming increasingly disgruntled with their struggling career and gave them a deadline for breaking into the big time. If they didn’t make it by the end of the year, they would leave New York, return home to Minneapolis and attend secretarial school. 

The deadline was approaching when Dave Kapp, head of Decca Records, happened to hear the Andrews Sisters singing on a New York radio station. Impressed by the young sisters, he asked them to audition for a contract with his record company. They did so and were hired. The contract they signed was a flat fee of $50 without royalties for each two-sided record they made, a common arrangement at that time. Their first record went nowhere on the charts, but Kapp liked the trio and called them in for a second recording session on November 24, 1937. The Aside of the new record was “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” a Gershwin song from the popular Fred Astaire film “A Damsel in Distress.” The B-side, or throw-away side, was an obscure Yiddish love song called “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” often translated as “To Me, You Are Beautiful.” 


The song was composed by Sholom Secunda with lyrics by Jacob Jacobs for a short-lived 1932 Yiddish musical comedy called “I Would If I Could.” Accounts vary as to how the song ended up in the Decca recording studio. Sammy Cahn, who wrote the English lyrics with Saul Chaplin, claimed that he first heard the song performed by an African-American act at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and later found the sheet music in a store in the Jewish Lower East Side of Manhattan. At that time he shared an apartment with Lou Levy, who was managing the Andrews Sisters. Cahn played the song for the sisters; they liked it and would eventually record it. Vic Schoen, the sisters’ arranger, said he discovered the song in a little shop in the lobby of a Yiddish theater on Second Avenue. He gave it to Lou Levy who in turn gave it to Sammy Cahn who with Saul Chaplin wrote English lyrics for it. Levy, however, claimed that he bought the song for fifteen cents in the Lower East Side and passed it on to the sisters to sing in Yiddish at various Jewish clubs and functions in New York City. 

However the song got there, it was chosen for the B-side of “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” The recording session was piped into Jack Kapp’s office and when he heard the song being recorded in Yiddish, he interrupted the session and said he wanted it in English. Conflicting stories relate how the English translation came about. Cahn claimed he didn’t want to do a translation, but eventually did so after a couple of days. Levy maintained the song was translated within a few minutes in the recording studio. In another interview, he said the translation was made over the telephone. Vic Schoen created a swing arrangement for the song and directed the studio musicians for the recording. Schoen and Bobby Hackett played trumpet, Al Philburn was on trombone, Don Watt on clarinet, Frank Froeba on piano, Dave Barbour on guitar and Stan King on drums. All were unknown at the time, but several would go on to illustrious careers. 


The record was released in December 1937 and to the surprise of all involved, it was “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” that drove sales. Word spread rapidly about the new song and record stores were flooded with requests for “Buy a Beer, Monsieur Shane,” “Mr. Barney McShane,” “My Dear Mr. Shane” and “My Mere Bits of Shame.” The customers may not have known how to pronounce the title, but they bought the record. According to one story at the time, a woman’s leg was broken when she was knocked down by a crowd that mobbed a record store to buy copies. The song became such a national sensation that “Life,” the leading photo-news magazine of the day, published a photo essay giving its version of the song’s history. “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” reached the Navajo Indian reservation in Utah where it was chanted by Navajo and Ute Indians to aid polio victims in a ceremony celebrating President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday. Some sources claim the song was a hit in several European countries, including Germany until the Nazi Party banned it after learning its composer was Jewish and the song’s title was Yiddish and not a southern German dialect. 

“Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” sold 100,000 copies in its initial release and by the end of January had sold a quarter million copies, an enormous number in those days. Bing Crosby was the only other Decca artist at the time with records surpassing the 100,000 sales mark. The song became a hit before it was published as sheet music, a rare phenomenon back then. Twelve other artists, including Ella Fitzgerald and Kate Smith, recorded the song in hopes of cashing in on its popularity. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) named “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” the most popular song of 1938.



Wednesday, August 24, 2022

YVONNE DECARLO: THE LATER YEARS

Film roles were drying up for Yvonne De Carlo in the early 1960s. She had few prospects and was deeply in debt. So when her old employer, Universal Pictures, phoned her up looking for a leading female for a sitcom about a family of monsters in suburbia, Yvonne De Carlo signed the contract.

That sitcom was The Munsters. The show premiered on September 24, 1964, and the world would soon see Yvonne De Carlo in a whole new light as the family matriarch, Lily Munster. This role would define Yvonne’s acting career for the rest of her life. Initially, Lily Munster was played by actress Beverly Owen. Owen played the family’s matriarch for the first 15 episodes of the series before she was replaced by Yvonne.

As soon as Yvonne adjusted to her role on the show, her skepticism and concerns faded away. Even costar Fred Gwynne, who played her Herman Munster and had some concerns about the new cast addition, warmed up to De Carlo’s on-set presence. And Fred wasn’t the only one. Adults and children across America were charmed by the new Lily Munster and were swept up by the fever of this hilarious new show. Yvonne was told to play the role like “Donna Reed” which you may not have been able to immediately tell by her makeup—which took roughly three hours each shoot to put on and included a De Carlo, expressive when playing Lily Munster, constantly gestured with her hands to make the character something of her own. Lily looked glamorous and fashionable despite her age—over 100 years old. She also always managed to show off her chops as one spooky, spunky mother and loving wife.


Despite The Munsters’ lasting influence, the show only lasted a surprisingly paltry two seasons. Universal Pictures later produced a feature called Munster, Go Home in 1966. This was was the first time The Munsters ever appeared in color since the original pilot episode. Unfortunately, the movie was not a commercial success and soon spelled the end for America’s favorite frightening family. De Carlo would return, however, in the 1981 TV movie, The Munsters’ Revenge with costars Gwynne and Grandpa Munster, aka, Al Lewis.

After The Munsters, Yvonne took some time to guest star in shows like The Girl from U.N.C.L.E and The Virginian and went back to her western roots in the late 60s films, Hostile Guns, and Arizona Bushwackers.


The actress then took some time to focus on her musical career and starred in a five-month tour of Hello Dolly and a 15-week run of Little Me. She also appeared in the Steven Sondheim musical Dollies as Carlotta Campion—a role she said was “written especially for her.” De Carlo continued until 1995 when she unofficially retired from acting. Some highlights include the 1975 sex comedy film, Blazing Stewardesses, the 1980 horror film American Gothic and the 1990 horror film Mirror, 

Yvonne De Carlo’s final performance was as Norma in the 1995 Disney television film, The Barefoot Executive. This was a remake of the 1971 film of the same name. In 1998 De Carlo suffered a minor stroke and almost ten years later she died of heart failure on January 8th, 2007. Her career might have been a large and varied tapestry of film, musical, and television roles, but the world will always remember Yvonne De Carlo as Mrs. Lily Munster...



Monday, August 22, 2022

HEALTHWATCH: MAUREEN MCGOVERN

Singer Maureen McGovern announced in an emotional message on social media that she’s been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia.

The 73-year-old singer, best known for her Oscar-winning song “The Morning After,” took to her Facebook page on Friday (Aug. 19) to share the sad news with her fans.

“I’ve been diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy with symptoms of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia,” McGovern says in a sentimental video clip after recounting her career highlights.

“What I do, or what I am still able to accomplish, has changed,” she continues. “I can no longer travel or perform in live concerts. In fact, I can no longer drive — how’s that for a kick in the butt?”

The Mayo Clinic describes posterior cortical atrophy as a “degenerative brain and nervous system (neurological) syndrome that results in difficulty with eyesight and processing visual information.” Common signs and symptoms include hallucinations, anxiety, confusion, and changes in behavior and personality.

McGovern also shared a transcript of the nearly seven-minute Facebook video on her official website.

The songstress won an Academy Award in 1972 for her song “The Morning After” from the The Poseidon Adventure. The track spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following year. She was also nominated for best new artist at the 16th annual Grammy Awards in 1974.

In her announcement, McGovern noted that the diagnosis “is not going to keep me from living my life” and that her “passion for music, for singing, remains profoundly robust.” The singer also plans to bring more awareness to music therapy.

“We are all patients and caregivers at some time in our lives,” McGovern says, noting that she has spent time performing hospitals, hospices, women’s prison, senior facilities and schools. “I have experienced how music and the arts free our spirits and opens our hearts to our common humanity.”


 


Sunday, August 21, 2022

PAST OBITS: GIG YOUNG

 

One of the tragic stories in Hollywood is the death of Gig Young. This is the original obituary from the Associated Press on October 19, 1978...

Gig Young, the handsome veteran actor who won an Academy Award as the fast-talking promoter of a Depression-era dance marathon, apparentlyshot his wife of three weeks to death and then killed himself
Thursday, police said.

Police said a diary in the blood-soaked bedroom where the couple died was open to Sept. 27, and "We Got Married Today" was written on the page.

Young's gilt Oscar for best supporting actor in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" was in the den of the Manhattan apartment. Police said the 60-year-old actor apparently killed his wife, 31-year-old Kim Schmidt, and himself at about 2:30 p.m. The .38-caliber pistol was in Young's hand, and the case was being treated as a murder-suicide, police said.

The manager of the building on West 57th Street, who did not wish to be identified, said he had heard noises that sounded like gunshots earlier in the day, but did not become suspicious until he noticed
groceries still standing outside the apartment hours after they were delivered.

Police said the pair appeared to have died at about 2:3 p.m. Their bodies were discovered about five hours later.


Young appeared in recent years in "Hindenberg" and "The Killer Elite," as well as in television dramas, and bad toured in "Harvey" and "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever."

Before winning the Academy Award as best supporting actor 1969 for "They Shoot Horses, Don't They," Young had received two nominations, for his work in "Come Fill the Cup," a somewhat true-to-life role as an alcoholic and the 1958 "Teacher's Pet."

Young starred with Charles Boyer in the 1950s television series "The Rogues." Boyer was a suicide earlier this year.

Liam O'Brian, producer of the Young's 1976 TV series "Gibbsville," said the actor was a "tremendous, talented and genial human being.  He was a delight to work with, a careful worker, a precisionist with
great style and humor."

Young's first marriage ended in divorce after his return from World War II, which he spent in the Coast Guard ferrying troops across the Pacific.

His second wife, Warner Brothers drama coach Sophie Rosenstein, died of cancer in 1952 after only a year of marriage. His marriage to actress Elizabeth Montgomery ended in divorce in 1963, and his fourth marriage, to Beverly Hills realtor Elaine Young, also ended in divorce. He had one child in that marriage, Jennifer, now 14.

Young's real-life beginnings didn't suggest his familiar movie roles of glamour and sophistication. He was born Byron Barr in St. Cloud, Minn., in 1917, the son of a reformatory chef.

After graduating from high scholl, he became a used car salesman while attending acting classes at night. Young came to Hollywood when a pal offered to give him a ride if he'd pay for half the gas.

In Hollywood, young lived the fabled life of the struggling young actor, sleeping a $12-a-week hotel and waiting on tables.


He got his big acting break at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he worked a few stock plays and was spotted by a Warner Brothers' talent scout who signed him to a long-term contract.

Young earned his first movie role while reading the Charles Boyer part for an Alexis Smith screen test. Still Byron Barr, he earned rave reviews in his first film, "The Gay Sisters."

Studio head Jack Warner urged his young employe to take the name of the character he played in "The Gay Sisters" - Gig Young.

He quickly earned his first Academy Award nomination, for "Come Fill the Cup," with James Cagney.

Young once said that out of 55 pictures in 30 years, "there are not more than five that were good or any good for me.

But he called the Academy Award "the greatest moment of my life."

Tired of his bad Hollywood roles, Young came to Broadway in the mid-1950s and had considerable success in "Oh Men Oh Women," "Under the Yum Yum Tree," "Teahouse of the August Moon," and "There's a Girl in My Soup."

His post-Oscar films also included "Lovers and Other Strangers," "Neon Ceiling," "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Grrcia," and "A Black Ribbon for Deborah."

Red Buttons, who played with Young in "Horses," once said of his friend:

"Down under that light-hearted sophistication, Gig's a big baby, and needs an arm around him. He needs a lot of loving."



Wednesday, August 17, 2022

GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA AT 95


Cinema icon Gina Lollobrigida will compete for a Senate seat in Italy's elections next month.

The 95-year-old actor is running as part of the Sovereign and Populist Italy (ISP) party. The political faction was founded in July and described by Marco Rizzo, one of the party's leaders, as "the only alternative against the liberal, warmongering and sanitary totalitarianism."

"I was just tired of hearing politicians arguing with each other without ever getting to the point," Lollobrigida told Italian outlet Corriere della Sera on Sunday. "I will fight for the people to decide, from health to justice. Italy is in bad shape, I want to do something good and positive."

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: NICOLE DEHUFF

The character of Pam's sister only appeared in one of the three Meet the Parents movies, and you might be wondering why. In the first movie, Greg Focker (played by Ben Stiller) joins his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo) at her parents' house for her sister Debbie's wedding. Debbie — played by Nicole DeHuff — doesn't appear to attend Pam and Greg's wedding in Meet the Fockers, however. Unfortunately, there's a sad reason for this.

In Meet the Parents, Greg is trying to impress Pam's family before he proposes. It doesn't go well with either her parents (especially her dad played by Robert DeNiro) or with her sister and future brother-in-law (at least at first). Greg memorably accidentally breaks Debbie's nose and gives her a black eye while playing a game of pool volleyball and later burns down the altar. Because this is a comedy, after all, all is put to right in the end when Greg surprises Debbie and her fiance with a honeymoon. Playing Debbie Byrnes in Meet the Parents was Nicole DeHuff's first big role in 2000. After the success of the wacky comedy, she went on to appear in several popular TV shows over the next few years, including CSI: Miami, Without a Trace, Dragnet, The Practice, and Monk, as well as a regular role on The Court. Tragically, her career was cut short with her untimely death at age 30 in 2005. This explains why she did not appear in the third movie, Little Fockers.


In February of 2005, DeHuff, who had asthma, spent four days in the hospital after having difficulty breathing, but was then sent home, according to People. A few days later, she collapsed and was rushed again to the hospital, where she was found to have an aggressive bout of pneumonia which then led to her death on February 16, 2005

According to the friends, the actress' friend stated, "Whenever you saw her and asked her how she was doing, she'd grin and say, 'Living the dream. I'm living the dream.'"

Between 2004 and 2005, DeHuff worked on three feature films. One of these, Unbeatable Harold, her final film which was released posthumously, was directed by her husband...



Sunday, August 14, 2022

COOKING WITH THE STARS: BETTE DAVIS

Some of these recipes from classic Hollywood don't sound good. It was a different era with different taste palates. This dish sounds pretty good...



Bette Davis’ Red Flannel Hash

2 cups cooked corned beef
3 cups cold boiled potatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked beets.
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup or more of cream
1/2 stick butter

Chop all ingredients and combine in a large bowl. Season to taste and moisten the mixture with cream. Place in a hot buttered skillet. Stir and spread evenly in pan. Brown slowly over medium heat. Serve with poached eggs on top.



Sunday, August 7, 2022

FORGOTTEN ONES: FANNY BRICE

Here is an excellent article by David Soren...

Fanny Brice (October 29, 1891 – May 29, 1951) was one of the greatest stars of vaudeville, and was also successful for a time in movies and a sensation later in her life on radio as well. Portrayed by Barbra Streisand on stage and in the movie Funny Girl , she was best known for her comic and dramatic songs and her radio persona as Baby Snooks. Rather ungainly in appearance, she could twist her face into knots or open wide her cavernous mouth to express exaggerated emotion in her comic songs, or she could come on-stage dressed to the nines and belt out a dramatic torch song such as My Man, the American version of the French success Mon Homme.Fannie Brice posing as her famous character.

Born Fania Borach in New York City to an immigrant Jewish family, she dropped out of school and knocked around in burlesque long enough to be offered a spot in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1910 and 1911 which brought her great fame, made even greater by her return in 1921 to introduce the mega-hit My Man, a song which had become a standard for the sexy French goddess Mistinguett who sang it with a husky voice slightly off key. Brice belted it out with tremendous feeling it became one of the great hit songs of the Roaring Twenties. It was still so popular by 1928 that it became the title of a feature film starring Fannie which is today considered lost.


In vaudeville Fannie developed a character who came to be known as Baby Snooks, a bratty little kid, and she always wore a child's short dress which showed off her spindly legs. The character was based on a George McManus early newspaper cartoon character and caught on with the public until by 1944, with Fannie having played the part for more than 30 years on stage, the character was featured on its own hit radio program. The character as she portrayed it in vaudeville exhibited a devilish grin when she was about to cause somebody to get into trouble and she always wore an angelic bow in her hair.

From the time she first entertained, Fanny Brice was a crowd-pleaser who quickly became a superstar. Unlike her contemporaries who were often known for one thing, Fannie could bring either broad slapstick comedy or pathos to her performances and sometimes both. She was so popular and such a workaholic that she was still a top performer up until two days before her death, of a cerebral hemorrhage.


In her choice of men and in her marriages, Fannie was remarkably unsuccessful. Her first marriage while she was still in her teens was simply a youthful mistake but her second, to gangster Nicky Arnstein, led to two jail terms for him and enormous expense for her for his trials. A third marriage to diminutive theater impressario and music composer Billy Rose, was yet another venue for heartbreak as Billy had quite an eye for the ladies and the nine year marriage of the unlikely couple was full of heartbreak, culminating in Rose's obsession with the beautiful Olympic swimming star and would-be singer Eleanor Holm. Their very public affair led to another divorce for Fannie. The Barbra Streisand movie Funny Lady deals with her trials and tribulations with Billy Rose while the first film goes through the Nicky Arnstein period.

When movie musicals became the rage in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Fannie Brice was immediately picked to star but musicals quickly fell out of favor and her movie career never took off despite a few appearances in films such as Everybody Sing (1938). She did not live long enough to become a force on television and only made one appearance, as Baby Snooks, for CBS in 1950.

Despite her personal difficulties and tragedies, Fannie remained a major star for more than 40 years and in the finest tradition of vaudeville went out still leaving them laughing, even into the 1950s when vaudeville was quickly becoming a memory...



Sunday, July 31, 2022

THE WIVES OF FATTY ARBUCKLE

Comedian Fatty Arbuckle had a sad and short life. Due to his raping scandal, he was banished from Hollywood. The poor soul was married three times but never had any children. Even though Fatty was divorced twiced, all three of his wives said he was a good man. Here is a break down of the three wives of Fatty Arbuckle...


MINTA DURFEE (1889-1975)

Minta was a minor silent screen actress. She met Roscoe Arbuckle when he was attempting to get started in theater, and the two married in August 1908. Durfee entered show business in local companies as a chorus girl at the age of 17. She was the first leading lady of Charlie Chaplin.. 

Durfee and Arbuckle separated in 1921, just prior to a scandal involving the death of starlet Virginia Rappe. There were three trials and finally Arbuckle was acquitted. His career was destroyed and he received few job offers. Durfee and Arbuckle divorced in 1925. Durfee in her later years said Arbuckle was "the most generous human being I've ever met", and "if I had to do it all over again, I'd still marry the same man.

A regular performer on television, Durfee appeared on such shows as Noah's Ark (1956). She had minor roles in motion pictures including How Green Was My Valley (1941), Naughty Marietta (1935), Rose-Marie (1936), It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), and Savage Intruder (1970). In later life, Durfee gave lectures on silent film and held retrospectives on her and her husband's pictures. She was surprised and excited by the renewed interest in silent film.



DORIS DEANE (1901-1974)


Doris married film director Roscoe Arbuckle May 16, 1925. The marriage followed soon after his divorce from Minta Durfee and followed the rape and manslaughter accusations against him in the death of Virginia Rappe.They planned to honeymoon in New York. They later divorced and she sued for alimony in 1929. She and Arbuckle were guests of writer Gouvineur Morris before their marriage.She was in the 1944 play The Day Will Come.



ADDIE MCPHAIL (1905-2003)

Addie was another actress that Fatty married. She appeared in 64 films between 1927 and 1941.She was married to Fatty when she died. After she retired from acting, she served for 17 years as a volunteer nurse at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

DAVID DUNCAN'S HOLLYWOOD: SAN FRANCISCO

Here is a new video series from Australian film historian and producer David Duncan...


Monday, July 25, 2022

RIP: PAUL SORVINO

Paul Sorvino, the tough-guy actor — and operatic tenor and figurative sculptor — known for his roles as calm and often courteously quiet but dangerous men in films like “Goodfellas” and television shows like “Law & Order,” died on Monday. He was 83.

His publicist, Roger Neal, confirmed the death, at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. No specific cause was given, but Mr. Neal said that Mr. Sorvino “had dealt with health issues over the past few years.”

Mr. Sorvino was the father of Mira Sorvino, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995). In her acceptance speech, she said her father had “taught me everything I know about acting.”

“Goodfellas” (1990), Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed Mafia epic, came along when Mr. Sorvino was 50 and decades into his film career. His character, Paulie Cicero, was a local mob boss — lumbering, soft-spoken and ice-cold.


“Paulie might have moved slow,” says Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, his neighborhood protégé in the film, “but it was only because he didn’t have to move for nobody.” (Mr. Liotta died in May at 67.)

Mr. Sorvino almost abandoned the role because he couldn’t fully connect emotionally, he told the comedian Jon Stewart, who interviewed a panel of “Goodfellas” alumni at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. When you “find the spine” of a character, Mr. Sorvino said, “it makes all the decisions for you.”

Paul Anthony Sorvino was born on April 13, 1939, in Brooklyn, the youngest of three sons of Fortunato Sorvino, known as Ford, and Marietta (Renzi) Sorvino, a homemaker and piano teacher. The elder Mr. Sorvino, a robe-factory foreman, was born in Naples, Italy, and emigrated to New York with his parents in 1907.

Paul grew up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn and attended Lafayette High School. His original career dream was to sing — he idolized the Italian American tenor and actor Mario Lanza — and he began taking voice lessons when he was 8 years old or so.


In the late 1950s, he began performing at Catskills resorts and charity events. In 1963, he received his Actors Equity card as a chorus member in “South Pacific” and “The Student Prince” at the Theater at Westbury on Long Island. That same year, he began studying drama at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York.

Acting jobs were elusive. Mr. Sorvino’s Broadway debut, in the chorus of the musical “Bajour” (1964), lasted almost seven months, but his next show, the comedy “Mating Dance” (1965), starring Van Johnson, closed on opening night.

Mr. Sorvino worked as a waiter and a bartender, sold cars, taught acting to children and appeared in commercials for deodorant and tomato sauce. After his first child, Mira, was born, he wrote advertising copy for nine months, but the office job gave him an ulcer.

Then his luck changed. He made his film debut in “Where’s Poppa?” (1970), a dark comedy directed by Carl Reiner, in a small role as a retirement-home owner. Then “That Championship Season” came along, starting with the Off Broadway production at the Public Theater.


The film role that first won him major attention was as Joseph Bologna’s grouchy Italian American father in “Made for Each Other” (1971). Mr. Sorvino, almost five years younger than Mr. Bologna, wore old-age makeup for the role.

He appeared next as a New Yorker robbed by a prostitute in “The Panic in Needle Park” (1972) but did not fall victim to the cops-and-gangsters stereotype right away. In 1973. he was George Segal’s movie-producer friend in “A Touch of Class” and a mysterious government agent in “The Day of the Dolphin.”

Mr. Sorvino later played an egotistic, money-hungry evangelist with a Southern accent in the comedy “Oh, God!” (1977) and God Himself in “The Devil’s Carnival” (2012) and its 2015 sequel. He was a down-to-earth newspaper reporter in love with a ballerina in “Slow Dancing in the Big City” (1978). In “Reds” (1981), he was a passionate Russian American Communist leader just before the Bolshevik Revolution.

Mr. Sorvino continued to sing professionally, making his City Opera debut in Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” in 2006.

Mr. Sorvino’s final screen roles were in 2019. He played a corrupt senator in “Welcome to Acapulco,” a spy-comedy film, and the crime boss Frank Costello in the Epix series “Godfather of Harlem.”...