Archive for October, 2009

Cleo Trumbo Obituary

Sunday, October 18th, 2009


Cleo Trumbo dies at 93; wife of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo


Cleo Trumbo

Cleo Trumbo | 1916 – 2009 ( Trumbo family Cleo Trumbo,
the widow of Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo
seen here in a 1942 photograph, died Oct. 9 of
age-related causes.



By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
October 18, 2009


Cleo Trumbo, the widow of Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted for more than a decade as a member of the Hollywood 10, has died. She was 93.


Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Cleo Trumbo



The Malibu Colony

Sunday, October 18th, 2009


Living chic by jowl in the Malibu Colony


 Bing Crosby's Malibu house

Bing Crosby’s Malibu Colony home in 1931. The first to sign a lease was Swedish silent film star Anna Q. Nilsson. (Malibu Lagoon Museum)


There’s plenty of Hollywood money — and history — packed along that fabled sandy stretch of Malibu.


By Veronique de Turenne
Los Angeles Times
October 18, 2009


When Cheronda Guyton, a senior vice president with Wells Fargo, used a foreclosed home to host lavish parties last summer in the Malibu Colony, she broke more than a few company rules. But by caving to her craving for the beach life, the now-fired bank executive joined a long line of people aching to lay claim to that fabled stretch of sand.


Located in the heart of Malibu just up the coast from Surfrider Beach, the famed Malibu Colony is a half-mile stretch of 100 or so homes that sit inches apart on the shoreline. They’re luxurious retreats outfitted with outdoor kitchens, private cabanas and seaside teahouses. The roster of residents reads like the credits of the world’s biggest ensemble movie. And the price tags, which start in the high seven figures, climb ever upward.


To be sure, the century-long history of the land has always been rich and star-studded.


Click here to continue reading



Mr. Blackwell’s Monument

Saturday, October 17th, 2009


Mr. Blackwell’s monument


Mr. Blackwell's marker


Mr. Blackwell

August 29, 1922, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Ocotober 19, 2008, Los Angeles, California


Mr. Blackwell's marker



Mr. Blackwell and Darren McGavin



Delmar Watson’s Marker

Saturday, October 17th, 2009


Delmar Watson’s crypt has been marked




Delmar Watson

July 1, 1926, Los Angeles, California

October 26, 2008, Glendale, California


Delmar Watson




Kermit Gets De-bugged?

Friday, October 16th, 2009


Does Kermie have fleas?


Henson Studios fumigated

 (Photos: Allan R. Ellenberger)


By Allan R. Ellenberger


Oh no, does Kermit the Frog have fleas? Possibly, but just to be safe they’re fumigating his entire lily pad. As seen today in Hollywood, the old Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea – now home of the Jim Henson Company – was being tented for fumigation. What must Miss Piggy think?


Henson/Chaplin Studios

The old Charlie Chaplin Studios under a tent



Kermit the Frog

 Kermit, dressed as his predecessor Charlie Chaplin, gets ready to have his pedestal cloaked



Chaplin-Henson Studios



Q&A With Laura Petersen Balogh

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


Author Laura Petersen Balogh answers questions on her new biography of Karl Dane


 Karl Dane cover



Karl Dane’s life was a Cinderella story gone horribly wrong. The immigrant from Copenhagen was rapidly transformed from a machinist to a Hollywood star after his turn as the tobacco-chewing Slim in The Big Parade in 1925. After that, Dane appeared in more than 40 films with such luminaries as Lillian Gish, John Gilbert and William Haines until development of talkies virtually ruined his career. The most famous casualty of the transition from silent to sound film, Dane reportedly lost his career because of his accent. He was broke and alone at the height of the Depression and committed suicide in 1934. 


This Sunday, October 18, at 5 p.m., author Laura Petersen Balogh will be in Hollywood at Grauman’s Egyptian Theater doing a book signing and giving a talk about Karl’s life and career. A screening of The Big Parade will follow with Robert Israel on the organ. Click here for complete information.


Laura was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new biography on Karl Dane:




Why Karl Dane? What is it about him and his story that moved you to write a biography?


I had always known who Karl Dane was, being a silent film buff my whole life, but he never really made that much of an impression on me. I had read different Hollywood scandal books which said his voice was not suited to the talkies, but pretty much thought that was the end of the story. It wasn’t until December 2005, when my husband Dan and I were watching the 1933 early sound serial The Whispering Shadow, co-starring Karl and Bela Lugosi, that I sat up and took notice–I was hearing his voice for the first time and was suddenly intrigued. It didn’t seem to me that his accent was that much of a barrier–it fit his physical persona and seemed easy enough to understand. I decided to find out more about him, but there were no biographies available. After awhile, I remained so curious and motivated that I decided to take on the project myself. I felt a sense of empathy for him, too, and wanted to find out what really happened.


How was Karl Dane the man, different from Karl Dane the actor?


Karl was always portrayed as a bit of a bumpkin, but reporters were always shocked to find him a lot more sophisticated off-camera. While always ready with an easy grin, he was actually quiet and reserved. Also, Karl rarely got the girl in his films, but comedy partner George K. Arthur said that he “had a way with women that was something incredible.” He was reported to be a bit of a romantic in real life so must have been a very charming sort.


Was he popular among his fellow actors?


There was apparently some snobbery towards him in Hollywood due to his working class background which he never tried to disguise and also his broken English. Some cast and crew members got the wrong impression of him due to misunderstandings due to language, and got to thinking he was self-important or just plain stupid, which was not the case. He also was a loner and didn’t go to Hollywood parties of the day, and this further isolated him.



Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he was married three times and had at least three children. Were you able to contact any surviving family members or friends?


Yes, exactly. He had 3 children, but one of them died at birth. I was able to contact family members, including one of his grandsons and a grand-nephew who very generously shared all the information they had with me. However, none of his surviving family ever met Karl–they were born after Karl died. I did manage to contact Frank “Junior” Coghlan, who appeared with Karl in the film Slide Kelly Slide in 1927 and remembered Karl very fondly.


What was the most difficult part of your research?


Probably at the beginning stages, I was the most unsure, because I had very little idea of where to go for information and whom to contact. I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to uncover enough to write a book at all. I was putting money into the research at that point without knowing for sure if it would all be worth it.


What part of your research did you enjoy the most?


Sitting down in various film archives at USC, Warner’s, the Danish Film Institute, and MOMA, digging through boxes of unpublished memoirs, scripts, photo albums, clippings, and production records. I felt like an archaeologist at times! I also loved going to the Eastman House to see all the Dane films in their catalog.


What is your favorite Karl Dane film and why?


Although he’s primarily remembered as a silent actor since Pantomime was his main forte, I really love seeing his sound films, like the wonderful Navy Blues with William Haines and Anita Page. Karl’s voice really fit his persona, and it’s nice seeing the complete performer onscreen.  


There are a lot of stories about Dane’s last days and his death. Did you find them to be mostly true?


Some aspects of the stories were true. It was true that Karl committed suicide when he was reduced to poverty, and that he did have part ownership in a “hot dog stand.” However, it was probably a myth that the stand was near the studio gates. Also, Karl didn’t lose his studio contract because his accent was bad. Sure, they reduced his roles, but would have kept him on, had he not suffered a complete nervous breakdown in 1930, brought about by overwork and loss of confidence.  



(A.J. Marik – findagrave)


Reportedly MGM paid for Dane’s funeral and sent Jean Hersholt to claim his body. Why didn’t the studio or his Hollywood friends try to help him when they could?


Jean Hersholt didn’t claim his body–it was another studio employee. Hersholt had nothing to do with arranging the funeral, according to his later interviews, although he did act as a pallbearer at the funeral. Also, some people did in fact try to help Karl. Mary Pickford planned a film called Shantytown in which Karl was supposed to have a featured role, but she abandoned it to make Secrets instead. Friend Buster Keaton also gave Karl roles in at least 2 of his films, but Keaton was having enough personal and studio troubles of his own at the time.  


What is your next project?


I have a few ideas that I’m contemplating–but I don’t want to jinx anything yet!


Click here to purchase Karl Dane: A Biography and Filmography



Byron Palmer Obituary

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009


Byron Palmer, Broadway and television performer, dies at 89


 Byron Palmer


Times staff and wire reports

Los Angeles Times 


Byron Palmer, 89, an actor and singer who broke through in the late 1940s in the hit Broadway musical “Where’s Charley?” and later co-starred on the TV show “This Is Your Music,” died of natural causes Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family announced.


Born June 21, 1920, in Los Angeles, he was the second of four children of Harlan G. Palmer, publisher of the old Hollywood Citizen News, and his wife, Ethelyn. While attending Occidental College, Palmer wrote obituaries for his father’s paper, then joined CBS as a page and eventually became a radio announcer.


During World War II, Palmer joined the Army Air Forces and ran a radio station on an island in the Pacific. Between news broadcasts, he sang tenor on the air with a quartet called the Music Mates. Soldiers sent him fan mail that persuaded him to take voice lessons after the war, his family said.


After acting as master of ceremonies for a touring “Hollywood on Ice” show, he starred with Ray Bolger in “Where’s Charley?” in 1948. He also was featured in the early 1950s Broadway revue “Bless You All” with Pearl Bailey.


In the movies, Palmer debuted in 1953 in “Tonight We Sing.” He also appeared with Jack Palance in “Man in the Attic” (1953), with Gordon MacRae in “The Best Things in Life Are Free” (1956) and in several other films.


On television, he had guest roles on several series, including dramas, but may be best known for co-starring with Joan Weldon on “This Is Your Music.” The show, which aired on KTTV-TV Channel 11, featured the pair singing “songs America loves best,” according to a 1955 ad in Billboard magazine.



Byron Palmer's-grave


Byron Palmer’s grave in the Palmer family plot at Hollywood Forever. Palmer is buried next to his father, Harlan G. Palmer, publisher of the now defunct Hollywood Citizen News.


Byron Palmer



Mr. Blackwell’s Grave Marker

Saturday, October 10th, 2009


The grave of fashion critic, Mr. Blackwell, is finally getting a marker


Mr. Blackwell's marker

 (Photos by Allan R. Ellenberger)


With the first anniversary of Mr. Blackwell’s death approaching (October 19), his grave marker is currently being constructed. Here are photos of it in its present stage with the engraving stencil still attached. It looks as though it’s going to be an imposing monument, worthy of the caustic fashion critic.



 Mr. Blackwell's marker


Mr. Blackwell’s marker is still in pieces and it looks like there is something yet to be attached to the top.


NOTE: Estelle Getty’s grave marker is still just a cement base. No progess yet.



The Green Hornet – Take 2

Saturday, October 10th, 2009


Green Hornet – the sequel?


Green Hornet statue

 The headless statue of James W. Reid awaits his close-up


By Allan R. Ellenberger
October 10, 2009


They’re back! No they haven’t begun working on the sequel for The Green Hornet yet, but they have returned to Hollywood Forever Cemetery for more filming. Today they were reassembling the statue of James Reid, obviously played by Tom Wilkinson in the film. The imdb does not list Wilkinson’s role but here is a close-up of the statue’s face. You decide.


Tom Wilkinson as James Reid


Tom Wilkinson

The real Tom Wilkinson


Green Hornet statue

A spare statue (seriously) waits in the wings for its big break.



Green Hornet-statue

Mr. Reid is reunited with his head.



Evergreen Cemetery Tour

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009


Evergreen Cemetery


Evergreen Cemetery



 By Allan R. Ellenberger


Last Saturday I attended a tour of Evergreen Cemetery sponsored by the Studio for Southern California History. Led by Steve Goldstein, Joe Walker and Christian Lainez, the tour covered important historical figures at one of Los Angeles oldest cemeteries. Founded on August 23, 1877, Evergreen is also one of the cities largest with 67 acres and more than 300,000 graves.




Saturdays tour guides were (l-r), Christian Lainez, Steve Goldstein and Joe Walker


Many historical and prominent figures are interred at Evergreen with such  family names as Bixby, Hollenbeck, Lankershim, Van Nuys and Ralphs. Many former Mayors of Los Angeles are also here as are local African American pioneers.


Hollywood personalities interred at Evergreen, though not in large numbers, include: Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Louise Beavers, and Matthew “Stymie” Beard.


 What follows are some of the more well-known historical figures covered on the tour:



May Chandler


Magdalena “May” Chandler, the first wife of Los Angeles Times executive, Harry Chandler. After May’s death, Chandler married the daughter of Times owner, Harrison Gray Otis and is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.



Jesse Belvin


Jesse Belvin (1932-1960), singer-songwriter who co-wrote the song, “Earth Angel,” one of the biggest hits of the 1950s for the group, The Penguins.



Van Nuys-Lankershim


Isaac Lankershim (1818-1882) and Isaac Newton Van Nuys (1835-1912), real estate developers and founders of  the cities of North Hollywood (once called Lankershim) and Van Nuys.



Sam Hasins


Sam Haskins (1846-1895), the first black Los Angeles Fire Department member killed in the line of duty.



George A. Ralphs


George A. Ralphs (1850-1914), founder of the Ralphs supermarket chain.



Earl Rogers


Earl Rogers (1869-1922), famed Los Angeles attorney is reportedly the model for the fictional character, Perry Mason. Rogers is the father of journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns.



 Cameron E. Thom


Cameron Erskine Thom (1825-1915), 24th mayor of Los Angeles and co-founder of the city of Glendale.



William J. Seymour


William J. Seymour (1870-1922), African American religious leader, founder of the Pentecostal movement and the Azusa Street Revival.



Bridget "Biddy" Mason


Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818-1891), former slave, nurse, real estate entrepreneur and co-founder of First African American Episcopal Church. Her grave was originally unmarked until 1989 when Mayor Tom Bradley and members of her church laid the existing tombstone.


Evergreen Cemetery is located at 204 N. Evergreen Avenue