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Margaret O’Brien’s Stolen Oscar

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 31st, 2009
2009
May 31

FILM HISTORY

Journey for Margaret’s Oscar

 

Margaret O'Brien and her Oscar

  

By Allan R. Ellenberger
May 30, 2009

 

Oscar. The Academy Award. Regardless of its name, it evokes the same emotion of respect for those who have been fortunate enough to receive one. And for those lucky ones, whether deserved or not, it is the brass ring, the ultimate in praise from their peers.

 

And so it was for little eight year-old Margaret O’Brien, arguably the most talented of all the child stars of her day – or since – who received the coveted award for most outstanding child actress of 1944 for her performance in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The special Oscar, which was a miniature version of the acclaimed award, was given sporadically in the thirties and forties. Previous winners included Mickey Rooney, Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland who was Margaret’s co-star that year.

 

Born Angela Maxine O’Brien, little Margaret’s rise to fame was meteoric. After seeing her photograph on the cover of a magazine, an executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed her for a one-line scene in Babes On Broadway (1941). The powers that be at MGM saw the raw talent that the four year-old possessed, and immediately cast her in a war-time drama with Robert Young called Journey For Margaret (1942), from which she took her new name. Small parts in three films soon followed until her starring role in Lost Angel, (1944) which was the first written specifically for her.

 

Meet Me in St. Louis

Joan Carroll, Lucille Bremmer, Judy Garland, Tom Drake and Margaret O’Brien in a scene from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

 

At the request of director Vincent Minnelli, the studio cast her in the role of Tootie Smith in their new Technicolor musical, Meet Me in St. Louis. MGM had big hopes for this film and spent an astronomical $100,000 to build the St. Louis street on their back lot. Besides Margaret, the film included Judy Garland, Lucille Bremmer and Mary Astor and introduced such musical standards as “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and the holiday classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which Garland sang to Margaret.

 

When the film was released near the end of 1944, critics across the country applauded Margaret’s performance. The Hollywood Reporter claimed that she was the hottest thing on the MGM roster.

 

“Hers is a great talent,” the Reporter continued, “as distinctly outstanding as the greatest stars we have. The O’Brien appeal is based on her naturalness. She’s all America’s child, the type every person in an audience wants to take into his arms.”

 

But it wasn’t only America that raved. In London, the film was the biggest hit that city had seen in months. The Daily Express prophetically declared, “Her quiet, compelling acting, worthy of an Academy Award, steals the show.”

 

 Margaret O'Brien and Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis

 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shared that opinion and awarded her a Special Oscar for the Most Outstanding Child Actress of 1944. At the ceremony, which was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on March 15, 1945, Margaret was given her Oscar by director Mervyn LeRoy. The emcee for the evening, comedian Bob Hope, lifted Margaret to the microphone so she could be heard by the listening radio audience.

 

“Will you hurry up and grow up, please?” Hope said as he struggled with the young winner.

 

As LeRoy handed her the Oscar, he said, “To the best young actress of the whole year of 1944. Congratulations.”

 

“Thank you,” she replied. I really don’t know what to say. Thank you very much.”

 

However she did know what to say. Her mother had written her an acceptance speech, but at the last minute Margaret decided to improvise her very own thank you to the Academy.

 

During her career, Margaret O’Brien was bestowed with many awards and accolades, including the honor of placing her hands and footprints in cement in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese, but the Oscar would be her most prized and valued possession. Unfortunately the little statuette would not stay around for long.

 

At the O’Brien home on Beverly Drive, Margaret had a separate room for her awards. One day in 1958, their maid took the Oscar and several other awards to her home to polish – a practice she did on several occasions. After three days, the maid failed to return so Mrs. O’Brien called and told her that she was dismissed and asked that she return the awards.

 

Not long after, Mrs. O’Brien, who was not in good health, suffered a relapse and died. Grief stricken, Margaret forgot about the maid and her Oscar until several months later when she tried to contact her, only to find that her phone was disconnected. The maid had moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Margaret considered the Oscar gone forever. A few years later, the Academy graciously replaced the award with a substitute, but it was not the same.

 

Over the next thirty years, Margaret would attend memorabilia shows searching for her lost Oscar. Then, in early 1995, a friend saw that Oscar in a catalogue for an upcoming memorabilia auction. Margaret contacted the Academy legal department who acted swiftly in having the Oscar returned.

 

Margaret O'Brien and Allan Ellenberger

Margaret O’Brien with her stolen Oscar that was returned to her by the Academy, and me in my younger days (no I’m not drunk it’s just one-of-those-pics) Michael Schwibs photo

 

On February 7, 1995, nearly fifty years since she first received it, the Academy officially returned the stolen Oscar to Margaret O’Brien in a special ceremony at their headquarters in Beverly Hills. Once reunited with her award, Margaret told the attending journalists:

 

“For all those people who have lost or misplaced something that was dear to them, as I have, never give up the dream of searching – never let go of the hope that you’ll find it because after all these many years, at last, my Oscar has been returned to me.”

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Millvina Dean Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 31st, 2009
2009
May 31

OBITUARY

Millvina Dean dies at 97; last Titanic survivor

 

Millvina Dean


She was about 2-months-old when she sailed on the ocean liner in 1912. She, her mother and brother were saved. Her father was among those who went down with the ship.

 

By Mary Rourke
Los Angeles Times
May 31, 2009

 

Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the legendary ocean liner Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912 after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic, died Sunday. She was 97.

 

Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Millvina Dean

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Benny Goodman’s 100th Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 30th, 2009
2009
May 30

100th BIRTHDAY

Benny Goodman

 

Benny Goodman

 

AMERICAN BANDLEADER

 

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Sleeper @ Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 29th, 2009
2009
May 29

FILM SCREENINGS

Sleeper

 

  Sleeper

 

cinespia cemetery screenings season 09

 

sleeper

  

 

directed by woody allen (1973, 87 min.)

directed by woody allen (1973, 87 min.)

woody allen stars

hollywood forever cemetery:

6000 Santa Monica Boulevard at gower

One of Allens early masterpieces, sleeper is the master comedians lovable, goofy and downright entertaining foray into science fiction, A health food store owner is frozen and brought back to life in the future by radicals in order to help them overthrow an oppressive government. The man from the past wanders off on his own, however, and begins to explore a brave new world, hilarious and strange, as only Allens vision could provide. Also starring a young and lovely Diane Keaton.

saturday, may 30, 2009

gates 7:00 pm movie 8:30 pm
no reservation necessary
$10 donation tickets available at gate
$5 parking available inside
as a courtesy to other moviegoers: NO TALL CHAIRS!!

djs mahssa and joel black spin before and after the screening

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‘Land of the Lost’ Premiere

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 29th, 2009
2009
May 29

GRAUMAN’S CHINESE PREMIERE

Land of the Lost

 

Land of the Lost

 

The American premiere of the comedy adventure

LAND OF THE LOST
LAND OF THE LOST director/executive producer Brad Silberling; cast members Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Jorma Taccone, John Boylan, Michael Papajohn and Bobb’e J. Thompson; producer Jimmy Miller and creators/producers Sid & Marty Krofft; writers Chris         Henchy & Dennis McNicholas; executive producers Daniel Lupi, Julie Wixson Darmody, Adam McKay and Ryan Kavanaugh
___
Plus celebrity guests including Amy Brenneman, Billy Crudup, Wesley Eure, Josh Gomez, Jon Heder, Randy Jackson, Mindy Kaling, David Koechner, Zachary Levi, George Lopez, Masi Oka, Philip Paley, Chris Parnell, Monica Potter, Andy Samberg, Brooke Shields, Denzel Whitaker, Jason Winer and more.
___
Grauman’s Chinese
6925 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA
___
Saturday, May 30, 2009
3:00 PM   Press Call Time
4:00 PM   Celebrity Arrivals
5:PM   Screening Begins
 

LAND OF THE LOST opens in theaters on Friday, June 5, 2009.

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Prop 8 Protest in Hollywood

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 27th, 2009
2009
May 27

LGBT

Day of Decision

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger
May 27, 2009

 

Here are some photos of last nights peaceful demonstration against the California Supreme Court’s ruling on Proposition 8. The march began in West Hollywood and proceeded to Hollywood and Highland, where I took these photos.

 

prop8-1

 

Prop8 march

 

Prop 8 march

 

 Prop 8 march

  

Prop 8 march

 

Prop 8 march

 

 Prop 8 march

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Jane Randolph Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 27th, 2009
2009
May 27

OBITUARY

Jane Randolph dies at 93; movie actress was best known for 1942’s ‘Cat People’

 

Jane Randolph

RKO Radio Pictures
Jane Randolph portrayed Alice Moore in “The Cat People.” The scene of Randolph terrorized during a nocturnal swim was “one of cinema’s indelibly suspenseful scenes,” a film historian says.

 

She made 20 films between 1941 and 1948, then married Jaime del Amo, who would help develop Del Amo Shopping Center. She died May 4 in Switzerland.

___

By Valerie J. Nelson
Los Angeles Times
May 27, 2009

 

Jane Randolph, a B-movie actress in the 1940s who was best known for her role in the film noir “Cat People,” died May 4 in Gstaad, Switzerland, after surgery on a broken hip, her daughter announced. She was 93.

 

Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Jane Randolph

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Dolores Hope’s 100th Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 27th, 2009
2009
May 27

100th BIRTHDAY

Dolores Hope

 

Dolores Hope

 

AMERICAN SINGER

née Dolores Reade

 

BORN: May 27, 1909, New York, New York

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Dolores Hope’s Canadian Cheese Soup

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 27th, 2009
2009
May 27

CELEBRITY RECIPES

Dolores Hope

 

Dolores and Bob Hope

________

 

 

Dolores Hope

Canadian Cheese Soup

 

 

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

1 cans condensed consommé

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash Tabasco

¼ cup minced pimientos

 

Melt butter or margarine; blend in flour, paprika and pepper. Add milk; cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Add consommé, just as it comes from the can. Add cheese; stir until melted. Add remaining ingredients, salting to taste. Serve at once. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

 

— Dolores Hope

 

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Richard Maibaum’s 100th Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 26th, 2009
2009
May 26

100th BIRTHDAY

Richard Maibaum

 

Richard Maibaum

 

AMERICAN SCREENWRITER

 

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