Archive for March, 2010

Hollywood Hotel site

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD LOST: THEN & NOW

Hollywood Hotel site

 

(Hollywood Hotel: LAPL) 

 

The above photo was taken from the northeast corner of Hollywood and Highland. The Hollywood Hotel was built in 1902 with another wing added in 1905. Not long after, the hotel was bought by Mira Hershey, an heir to an Iowa lumber and farming magnate. When the movies came to Hollywood this is where everyone stayed. By the 1950s it was a run down and faded remnant of its former splendor. The Hollywood Hotel was razed in August 1956.

 

(PHOTO: Allan R. Ellenberger) 

 

Here is the same spot today taken from the same corner. The block is now the Hollywood and Highland complex and further down is the Kodak Theatre, the current home of the Academy Awards.

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June Havoc Obituary

Monday, March 29th, 2010

OBITUARY

June Havoc, vaudeville star, is dead

 

 

By Anita Gates
New York Times
March 29, 2010

 

June Havoc, who appeared on vaudeville stages when she was 2 as Baby June and went on to a successful acting career — but saw her accomplishments overshadowed by the fictionalized portrayal of her in the 1959 musical “Gypsy” — died on Sunday at her home in Stamford, Conn. She was believed to be 97. The death was confirmed by her caregiver, Tana Sibilio.

 

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Rose Williams at Hollywood Forever

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Rose Williams, the little old lady in red

 

 

 By Allan R. Ellenberger
March 27, 2010 

 

Rose Williams spent her life dusting other women’s homes so she could indulge in what her few acquaintances believed was her solitary love: wearing red – red dresses, red hats, red shoes, red nightclothes. Red, for Rose.

 

But after her death on December 30, 1964, her acquaintances learned she had another love. For money.

 

Since arriving in California in the early 1930s to work as a domestic, the tiny English-born spinster had amassed $133,638. When county officers opened her safety deposit box after her death, they found it contained that much in gilt-edged securities. “And there may be a lot more in other banks,” one officer said.

 

How “The Little Old Lady in Red,” as she was known in the community, had saved to buy the stocks was anyone’s guess since no one really knew her.

 

“I wish I knew who her financial adviser was,” said Dep. Public Administrator Glenn Coffey. “She didn’t have a bad stock in the bunch. What bugs me is that I don’t know what she did with her dividends.”

 

When Rose was entombed in the Abbey of the Psalms on January 13, 1965, about two dozen persons, mainly those curious about the tiny woman who dressed all in red, were present. Also attending were Rose’s stockbroker, representative of the public administrator’s office and another little old lady, this one in black.

 

Just before Rose’s red casket was placed in the crypt, the latter put three red roses at the foot of the coffin with a note which read, “To an English rose from an English lady.”

 

A year later, based on a vague will that was found in the safety box, a Superior Judge divided Rose William’s fortune between the American Cancer Society and CARE, Inc.

 

 

To Find Rose Williams, the little old lady in red, go to Clifton Webb’s crypt in the Abbey of the Psalms, walk past it several feet and look up about two crypts from the top and you will find Rose.

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Dennis Hopper gets a star on Hollywood Boulevard

Friday, March 26th, 2010

WALK OF FAME

Dennis Hopper receives his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

 

 

 

A frail Dennis Hopper received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame thanking the town that took in a Kansas ‘farm boy’. The 73-year-old, who is reportedly terminally ill with prostate cancer, shared the day with friends Viggo Mortenson and Jack Nicholson.

 

‘Everyone here today that I’ve invited and obviously some that I haven’t invited have enriched my life tremendously,’ Hopper told the crowd.

 

‘They’ve shown me a world that I would never have seen being a farm boy from Dodge City, Kansas, and learning things I would never have learned.’

 

It has been a long journey for the actor who was born in Kansas in May 1936. Raised in Kansas City, Missouri and San Diego, California, he was voted most likely to succeed by high school classmates.

 

Mortenson and Nicholson were just two friends who worked with him during his near 50-year career. Nicholson was his co-star in the Sixties classic Easy Rider. Mortenson appeared with Hopper in two films The Indian Runner and Boiling Point.

 

Marissa Charles – People/M&C

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Robert Culp Obituary

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

OBITUARY

Robert Culp, who starred in `I Spy,’ dead at 79

 

 

By Bob Thomas
Associated Press
March 24, 2010

 

LOS ANGELES — Robert Culp, the actor who teamed with Bill Cosby in the racially groundbreaking TV series “I Spy” and was Bob in the critically acclaimed sex comedy “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” died Wednesday after collapsing outside his Hollywood home, his manager said. Culp was 79.

 

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Richard Conte’s 100th Birthday

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

100th BIRTHDAY

Richard Conte

 

  

AMERICAN ACTOR

 

 

Click below for a scene from The Blue Gardenia (1953)

 

 

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Akira Kurosawa’s 100th Birthday

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

100th BIRTHDAY

Akira Kurosawa

 

 

JAPANESE DIRECTOR

 

 

Trailer for Ran

 

 

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Olivia de Havilland interview

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

INTERVIEWS

Hollywood’s sweetheart: Olivia de Havilland

 

 

  
Hermione Eyre
London Evening Standard

 

Olivia de Havilland, a star of Hollywood’s golden age, lives in Paris in a tall townhouse near the Bois de Boulogne. It is snowing when I arrive and I am so cold I can barely speak. The maid shows me into a drawing room where, outlined against a blazing fire, Miss de Havilland stands with welcoming arms outstretched. She is small in stature but her charm is enormous, overwhelming. It is exactly like being greeted by the character she created, Melanie in Gone With the Wind, as she takes my fur hat and clasps it to her bosom. ‘What a hat,’ she says, adding in a low voice resonant with sincerity, ‘It must be a great comfort to you.’

 

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Old Chaplin Studios get a drenching

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

TODAY IN HOLLYWOOD

Car accident at old Chaplin Studios (now Henson) creates huge waterspout

 

(PHOTOS: Allan R. Ellenberger

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger
March 20, 2010

 

Today, around 2 p.m. Hollywood time, a two car accident in front of the old Chaplin Studios (now Jim Henson Studios), sheared off a fire hydrant sending a massive spray of water more than 100 feet into the air above the studio.

 

 

Above is one of the cars that landed across La Brea at De Longpre Avenue in front of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Students from the school were out with film cameras documenting the accident.

 

 

 

Firemen arrive to fix the broken hydrant. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt and it seems that only shaken nerves were at risk.

 

 

Fireman attempt to turn off the water spout but it takes nearly 30 minutes to bring it under control.

 

 

Finally the spout begins to diminish and within minutes it is just a trickle. The water spout was located in front of what used to be Charlie Chaplins personal office.

 

 

Just a half-block north on La Brea, traffic is bumper-to-bumper and pedestrians are on the street taking photos and just trying to maneuver through the streets.

 

 

 

Just a few more turns…

 

 

… and everything is back to normal. At the left you can see the car that snapped off the hydrant and its alleged owner, covered by a towel, looks through the trunks contents. The drivers side window was broken out so water filled the inside of the car.

 

Thanks again to the LAFD and LAPD

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Pepi Lederer’s 100th Birthday

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

100th BIRTHDAY

Pepi Lederer: ‘Marion Davies’ Niece’

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger
March 18, 2010

 

Today is the 100th birthday of Pepi Lederer, who is the niece of actress Marion Davies. What little that is known about Pepi comes from Louise Brooks’ autobiography, Lulu in Hollywood. In it she devotes an entire chapter to Pepi, Marion and William Randolph Hearst.

 

Pepi was born Josephine Rose Lederer on March 18, 1910 in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother, Reine was the older sister of Marion Davies, and an actress and writer in her own right and was the first to use the Davies name professionally. Married twice, first to Broadway producer and director, George Lederer, they had two children – Pepi and Charles, who later became a successful screenwriter. Reine divorced George when Pepi was two years-old and later married actor George Regas.

 

Pepi was given the nickname “Peppy” as a child because of her high spirited personality. When she turned 18 she changed the spelling to Pepi and legally made it her real name. She hardly ever saw or spoke about her father, and was embarrassed because he was Jewish.

 

Pepi and her brother Charlie were favorites of both Marion and Hearst. They in turn, preferred Marion to their own mother. When she turned twelve, Pepi was spending most of her time with Marion at San Simeon and the Lexington Avenue mansion in Beverly Hills, rarely seeing her mother. Once, years later when Pepi was living in a New York apartment building owned by Hearst, Reine unexpectedly stormed in drunk, calling Marion a scheming bitch for having robbed her of her children. The episode left Pepi sobbing and racked with guilt.

 

At Hearst’s San Simeon, Pepi had free run of the ranch. Visitors usually had to obey Hearst’s rules about liquor rationing (because of Marion’s excesses) and the insisted-upon early rising to have breakfast. Pepi, on the other hand, had no problems obtaining liquor since she had her own private boot-legger – Hearst’s executive secretary who had keys to the wine vaults and could not resist Pepi’s charm and flashing blue eyes. Louise Brooks said that Pepi “and her group of pansies and dykes could drink and carry on all night…” As long as Marion’s drinking was under control and no one was breaking up Hearst’s art collection, he didn’t care about their drinking or sexual activities.

 

In the great dining hall at San Simeon, Pepi and her friends would sit at one end of the long wooden table while Marion and Hearst would face each surrounded by their guests in the middle. Pepi’s friends usually included her brother Charlie, Louise Brooks, Sally O’Neil, William Haines, and Lloyd Pantages, son of the theatre mogul. The guests called them the Younger Degenerates.

 

Pepi‘s sense of humor gave her every chance to expose a guests vanities while humoring the rest. Claire Windsor’s falsies and writer Elinor Glyn’s red wig would mysteriously disappear from their bedrooms while they slept. An “exclusive” item would appear in Louella Parsons’ syndicated Hearst column, which would later have to be retracted. Once, when a group of Hearst editors, dressed in business suits and seated at a liquor-loaded table visited the ranch, Pepi organized a chain dance. Ten beautiful girls in wet bathing suits danced round their table, grabbed a bottle here and there, and then exited, leaving a room full of astonished men, who inquired, “Does Mr. Hearst know these people are here?”

 

Pepi was charismatic, but undisciplined with a gluttonous appetite for rich food, alcohol and eventually drugs – specifically cocaine. Once in an attempt to lose weight and quit liquor, she convinced Louise Brooks, who she first met at San Simeon in 1928, to join her at a friend’s duck blind in Virginia, where she hoped the seclusion away from her temptations would help kick her habits. Upon their arrival she had the liquor cabinet locked and spent her time listening to Bing Crosby recordings. After only a few days, she raided the kitchen, eating cold chicken and half an apple pie, then went for the liquor and was shocked that it was locked up. “You told him to lock it,” Louise told her.

 

“I’ll fix that,” she mumbled, and went to the kitchen and returned with a hatchet, and with three robust whacks, opened the door.  For the remainder of the week, she satisfied herself with good whiskey, mouth-watering Southern cooking and Bing Crosby songs.

 

Pepi was also a lesbian. Though Louise Brooks never publicly admitted to an affair with Pepi, she once told a friend that Pepi said, “Let me just fool around a bit,” and Louise said, “Okay, if it’s anything you’re going to get some great enjoyment out of, go ahead.” And so they fooled around, but said she got nothing out of it.

 

Pepi secretly yearned to be an actress so she was thrilled when she was given a small comedy part in Marion’s picture The Fair Co-ed (1927) that was directed by Sam Wood. During filming she was told how good she was, but when the film premiered, her part had been cut. Marion consoled her with the promise of a better part in her “next” picture, but the next picture never materialized. Pepi realized that no one had been serious about her career and that was just a joke.

 

In 1929, Pepi visited MGM during the last day of filming of King Vidor’s Hallelujah. Conveniently, Marion, Charlie, and Rose were absent; so on an impulse, Pepi invited several of the cast members, including Nina May McKinney, to the house on Lexington Avenue. After three days, a neighbor, shocked by the sight of black people running in and out of the mansion, telephoned Marion, who sent Ethel to end the party. Pepi told friends she would never forget the look on Ethel’s face when her aunt opened the door and found Pepi in bed with Nina May. Pepi was immediately banished to New York as a punishment.

 

At the end of March 1930, Pepi was in New York and was concerned that she had not menstruated in three months. Finally, desperate for a reason, she called Marion about her condition. Marion told her to stop wasting time and to make an appointment to see an abortionist at once. He found that Pepi was pregnant, and aborted the fetus the next day.

 

A few days later, Louise Brooks visited her and found her in bed, sick, feverish, and frightened. She was hemorrhaging badly and told Louise about the abortion. “This was the most astonishing piece of news since the Virgin birth,” Louise said, “because, as far as I knew, she had never gone to bed with any man.”

 

When Pepi explained, Louise asked if she knew who the man was. “No I don’t,” Pepi said violently. “And I don’t want to know the name of a man who would rape a dead-drunk woman.” Pepi continued, saying that it had to happen on New Year’s Eve, when she got drunk at a party given by Lawrence Tibbett and someone had to take her home. “But I don’t remember who it was,” she said, “and I don’t want to remember who it was and that’s the end of it.” (After Pepi’s death, a mousy, deranged friend of hers told Louise with a smirk that it was he who had taken her home on that 1929 New Year’s Eve and raped her. He also admitted to escorting other drunken women home and performing in the same manner).

 

The following June, a recovered Pepi accompanied Marion and Hearst to Europe on the Olympic. While in England, she convinced Hearst to give her a job on one of his English magazines, The Connoisseur and ended up staying there for five years. In London, she wrote to Louise that she was now a person in her own right, not a way station for would-be friends of Marion and Hearst. And she said that she found a lovely companion, Monica Morris, who now shared her flat, her generous allowance, and Marion’s charge accounts.

 

Louise was apprehensive of Pepi’s taste in girlfriends and asked around about Monica Morris. When asked, one friend exclaimed: “My God, the Stage-Door Ferret! Don’t tell me Monica has latched onto Pepi!” It seemed that Monica had earned her nick-name because she was the most predatory among the group of girls who had fought over Tallulah Bankhead when she became a star of the London theatre in 1923.

 

Regardless, they remained an item until Pepi’s return to the United States on April 15, 1935. They spent two weeks in a suite at Hearst’s Ritz Tower Hotel on Park Avenue before going to Hollywood. It was Monica’s first time in New York but the first thing she asked Louise after they met was “Will you take me to Harlem to get some cocaine?” She evidently lost her stash while on board the ship and was most urgent to replace it. Louise referred her to Tallulah Bankhead at the Gotham Hotel, and Monica hurried out, leaving Pepi and Louise to have their last serious talk before Pepi’s death.

 

Though they laughed together, Louise could see the cocaine addiction in her eyes and the reason why she wanted to avoid Marion and Hearst. She had also lost weight, which Louise attributed to the cocaine.

 

When Pepi and Monica arrived in California, they stayed at the Lexington Avenue house. Marion and Hearst were at San Simeon but no directive came for Pepi and Monica to join them there. Weeks passed and there were no fancy parties, and Monica grew ever more bored among the Davies relatives. Then, without warning,  Marion and Hearst decided to have Pepi committed to the psychiatric section of Good Samaritan Hospital for a drug cure. Pepi only had time to slip her diamond ring (a present from Marion on her 18th birthday) from her finger to give it to Monica before she was taken away.  

 

A few days later, on June 11, 1935, Pepi was propped up in bed reading a movie magazine in her sixth floor room at Good Samaritan when she asked her nurse for something to eat. The nurse stepped to the doorway to call a floor nurse and order something, when suddenly, she heard a noise and turned to see Pepi plunge through the window, carrying the screen with her.

 

Six floors below, in a thicket of shrubbery, Pepi’s body was picked up. Hospital attendants said she only lived a few minutes. She was dead before they could carry her to an operating room, her neck broken.

 

Marion, Hearst and Reine were at San Simeon when they received the news. Reine took the news more calmly than Marion, who lost control, as she always did when confronted by death. Louise Brooks was in her dressing room at the Persian Room of the Plaza, getting ready to open her new act when she was informed of Pepi’s death. “Looking in a mirror as I checked my hair, makeup, and costume for the dinner show” Louise said, “I thought, her dreaded visit to Hollywood had lasted exactly six weeks.”

 

As for Monica, her trunk was searched by Hearst’s people and a bundle of Pepi’s letters was taken from it – she felt it was because they feared blackmail. The ring that Pepi had given her was snatched from her finger. She was given a steamship ticket to Southampton and a thousand dollars in cash and was told she was being deported immediately after the funeral.

 

 

St. Mary’s of the Angels Church, 4510 Finley Avenue, Hollywood where Pepi Lederer’s funeral was held

 

Newspaper reports said that Pepi was suffering from acute melancholia, the usual public reason for drug abuse. Pepi’s funeral was held at St. Mary’s of the Angels Church in Hollywood. Her bronze casket was placed in a crypt in Marion’s private mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery.

 

On the 100th anniversary of her birth, it’s hoped that Pepi has found some peace.

 

 

 Marion Davies’ private mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Pepi’s is the first bottom crypt to the left of the door.

 

Information for this article was taken from “Marion Davies’ Niece” by Louise Brooks and from “Louise Brooks” by Barry Paris (1989).

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