Archive for June, 2010

Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

BOOKS – NEW

Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol

  

 

 

 By Donna L. Hill

 

One of the most alluring, enigmatic, and simply irresistible movie icons of all time, Rudolph Valentino continues to inspire generation after generation of moviegoers. In Rudolph Valentino, The Silent Idol: His Life in Photographs, author Donna Hill retells the story of Valentino’s life using a treasure trove of rare photographs. Drawn from the author’s extensive collection and those of generous fellow collectors and archives, most of the images in this volume have not been seen since the 1920’s; many have never been released publicly until now.

 

Rudolph Valentino was more than the “sheik” of one of his most famous films. He was more than the legendary star who died at a tragically young age. For long-time fans as well as curious newcomers, these remarkable images — candid snapshots at home, traveling, on film sets — reveal the glamour and charm of the man who continues to beguile and inspire movie lovers to this day.

 

Click here for more information and how to purchase Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol

 

And check here for more information on Donna’s website 

 

About the Author:

A lifelong film afficionado with a particular affection for films of the silent era, Donna Hill has collected memoriabilia with regard to Rudolph Valentino for over thirty years. The collection of rare photos is shared by the author’s blurb book, Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol, his Life in Photographs. The author lives in San Francisco.

_____________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Filming locations for Valentino (1951)

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

FILMING LOCATIONS

Valentino (1951)

 

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

The short eventful life of the world’s greatest lover, Rudolph Valentino, is an entertainment natural; and the film, succinctly called Valentino (1951), sentimentally embellishes his life for celluloid purposes. There have been two other bio-pics based on Valentino’s life made since, and several shorts, plays and musicals and only a few are worthy of representing the actor’s life. Will someone please make an accurate and entertaining biographical film on the life of Rudolph Valentino?

 

Valentino’s producer, Edward Small, spent 13 years getting his film ready. The project survived 18 versions of the script by some 40 writers, the death of Small’s first “discovery” for the title role, and the threat that two other producers might rush a Valentino film. In that span of time, Small received over 100,000 letters and photographs from people who felt themselves right for the part.

 

The screenplay is a mixture of real and made up incidents and characters that influenced Valentino’s life. The basic facts of his rise to stardom and his tragic death at the height of his fame are true – sort of – but most of the people who figured in his career and hectic romances are necessarily disguised to prevent the producers from being sued (which didn’t work).

 

Anthony Dexter, who played Valentino, bore a startling resemblance to Rudy at times, depending on the camera angles. The film traces Valentino’s progress from dancing gigolo to the Hollywood heights to his death in New York. Along the way he encounters an actress (played by Eleanor Parker), who provides the big, unhappy romantic interlude in his life.  

 

The real-life counterpart for Parker’s character was silent film actress, Alice Terry, who successfully sued the producers and Columbia Pictures over the manner in which she was depicted in the film. Terry, who appeared in two films with Valentino, complained that she was shown as having carried on “a meretricious and illicit love affair” with Valentino while married to the director. She sued for $750,000 in damages but settled for an undisclosed amount.

 

Likewise, Valentino’s family also sued, charging that the picture was “almost entirely fictional” and showed Valentino as a “dissolute and immoral person.” They too settled out of court for a “substantial amount.”

 

The making of the film Valentino is more exciting than the film itself and is worthy of a full-blown article on the subject. However, the film is not without its high points. The tango scene between Dexter and actress Patricia Medina is first-rate and possibly one of the best of its kind ever filmed. Dexter did show a striking resemblance to Valentino, but did not speak with an Italian accent which detracts from his performance.

 

The last scene, which is the only one filmed on an actual location, was filmed at Hollywood Cemetery, several years later on the anniversary of Valentino’s death. The scene shows the yearly appearance of the veiled “Lady in Black” whose identity was unknown. Following are four screen shots from the ending of Valentino (1951) and how those locations appear today.

 

 

 

Above is a screen shot from the film Valentino showing attendees at Hollywood Cemetery on the anniversary of his death. Below is the same angle as it appears today.

 

 

 ________

  

 

 

Above shows the Lady in Black character entering the Cathedral Mausoleum where Valentino’s crypt is located. Notice the full-length stained glass window at the end of the corrider and below, the same shot today and the missing window which was removed for unknown reasons.

 

 

 ________________

  

 

 

Above, character actor Joseph Calleia stands on the steps of the Cathedral Mausoleum as two extras speak in the foreground. Below is the same spot as it looks today.

 

 

 __________________

  

 

 

Above, this scene shows the Lady in Black leaving the cemetery after leaving flowers on the grave of Rudolph Valentino. Below is the same road today.

 

 

 

 __________________________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Frank A. Nance profile

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD PROFILES

Frank A. Nance, Coroner to the stars

 

 

 Frank A. Nance sits at his desk in the Los Angeles Coroners office (1932, LAPL)

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Frank A. Nance was not a famous movie star. He never appeared in a film, yet he came in contact with more movie stars than the average person – the only difference is, if a movie star was in the presence of Frank Nance, they were probably dead. You see, Frank Nance was the Los Angeles County Coroner from 1921 through 1945, during what is typically called the Golden Age of Hollywood.

 

During his term in the Coroner’s office, Nance investigated 121,000 deaths, including 2,500 murders and 17,000 traffic victims. He wrote numerous articles about his job and set up standards, many of which have become routine procedure in California Coroner offices.

 

Frank Albert Nance was born on May 25, 1875 in Galesburg, Illinois. When he was 12, his family moved to California where Nance was educated in Los Angeles schools and at Pomona College where he was a star athlete. In 1911, Nance married Bessie Marion Beaver, a native of Toronto, Canada. The couple settled in the Los Angeles suburb of Monrovia, living at 127 N. Canyon Boulevard.

 

Nance’s career in public service began on December 10, 1910, when he became bookkeeper in the County Auditor’s office.  On March 25, 1921, the Board of Supervisors appointed him from a list of eight certified eligible candidates to succeed the late Calvin Hartwell as County Coroner. He officially took office on May 1 at a salary of $375 a month.

 

During his 24 year career as coroner, Nance performed or presided over many celebrity autopsies, including the murders of director William Desmond Taylor (1922), actor Ray Raymond by the hands of fellow actor Paul Kelly (1927), and the mysterious ‘Trunk Murders’ committed by Winnie Ruth Judd. The suicides of director Lynn Reynolds (1927), actress Peg Entwistle (1932), producer Paul Bern (1932) and Lupe Velez (1944) kept his name in the headlines. And Nance’s findings concerning the mysterious deaths of Thelma Todd (1935), Ted Healy (1937) and Marie Prevost (1937) fascinated the public.

 

Nance’s first headline-grabbing case was the murder of director William Desmond Taylor. The inquest was held at the Ivy Overholtzer undertaking parlor where Taylor’s body was present, covered with a satin sheet, except for his head. Actress Mabel Normand was scheduled to testify at 10 am however at the appointed time, Normand was nowhere to be found. Nance ordered a telephone search for her, however, it was learned that while the photographers waited at the entrance, Mabel was hurried in through the back alley and was waiting in the hall.

 

Mabel entered the rooms wearing a brown checked sport coat furred at the collar and cuffs, a black skirt and a cream lace waist and a green velour, wide-brimmed fedora. She wore white gloves and held a lavender silk handkerchief in one hand. Her voice was low and she spoke calmly.

 

“Did Mr. Taylor go to your car with you when you left?” Nance asked her.

 

“Yes, he took me to the car and stood talking with me a few minutes and said he would call me by telephone in about an hour,” Mabel replied. “He watched while I drove away and I waved my hand to him.”

 

“Did he call you up,” Nance asked.

 

“No,” she said. “I went home and went right to bed. My maid never wakes me anyway, once I have retired.”

 

It was during Nance’s tenure that both the St. Francis Dam disaster (1928) and the Long Beach earthquake (1933) occurred, each presenting extraordinary problems for the Coroner to solve. More than 450 people lost their lives when the St. Francis Dam collapsed and flooded the valley below.

 

The disintegration of the St. Francis Dam is one of the worst American civil engineering failures of the 20th century. Nance’s inquest concluded the disaster was primarily caused by the paleomegalandslide on which the eastern abutment of the dam was built. The coroner’s jury determined responsibility for the disaster lay with the governmental organizations which oversaw the dam’s construction and the dam’s designer and engineer, William Mulholland, but cleared Mulholland of any charges, since neither he nor anyone at the time could have known of the instability of the rock formations on which the dam was built.

 

Frank A. Nance (seated) and his staff go over notes from an inquest (LAPL)

 

In 1929, a scandal of sorts erupted in the Coroner’s office when it was charged that certain employees had sold funeral privileges to several Los Angeles undertakers. After an investigation by the Sheriff’s department, it was determined that no evidence was found to support the charges. Nance expressed pleasure at the outcome of the investigation.

 

“It confirms my opinion that none of my employees would be a party to such proceedings,” Nance said. “Should I ever find anyone guilty of such an act I will dismiss him at once. “

 

At times, Nance would publish statistics, especially if some form of death was more prevalent at that time. For example, during the mid 1930s, the suicide rate had steadily climbed in California and Los Angeles County over a fifteen year period. Nance reported that during the fiscal year of July 1, 1935 to June 30, 1936, there were 522 reported cases of suicide. Of this total 416 were men and 106 were women. The suicide ages ranged fairly evenly from 20 to 60 years. Poisoning was the favorite method of killing oneself, shooting, hanging, jumping and asphyxiation followed in that order.

 

In 1939, Nance relaxed procedures for an autopsy and inquest when Edward C. Crossman, veteran police ballistics expert committed suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning. Crossman was a friend of Nance and was  an expert witness at many coroner inquests. Crossman left a special note to the Coroner:

 

“Dear Frank Nance: This is, of course, a suicide. No inquest is necessary, and for the sake of my family will you keep the matter as quiet as possible. Reason for suicide – the death of my beloved wife – Oct. 21 (1938), from the motor car accident which was my own fault. Best regards. Edward C. Crossman.”

 

Per the dead man’s wish, Nance announced that there would be no autopsy or inquest in this case.

 

In 1945, Frank Nance celebrated his 70th birthday, which was the compulsory retirement age for Los Angeles County employees. On May 29, civic leaders, public officials and county government workers packed the assembly room of the Hall of Records to honor Nance for 34 years in county government service, 24 of them as County Coroner.

 

“It is not my desire to retire at this time, but retirement is the penalty for having enjoyed one’s 70th birthday,” Nance said in response to many tributes by assembled speakers. “I resent the insinuation of the Retirement Act that I am an old man. One’s age is a state of mind.”

 

Nance left the coroner’s office on May 31, 1945 and was succeeded by Ben H. Brown, who became coroner as well as Public Administrator – a consolidation of both departments.

 

After his retirement, Nance accepted an executive position at the Utter-McKinley Mortuary.

 

“After 24 years as Los Angeles County Coroner, during which time I have had intimate contact with all local funeral firms, I take pleasure in announcing my association with the Utter-McKinley Mortuaries,” Nance announced. “I do so with the sincere belief that Utter-McKinley is the finest funeral firm in Los Angeles.”

 

Shortly after Nance’s retirement, his wife Bessie became ill and died two years later on August 8, 1947. The following year on November 7, 1948, Nance married for the second time to Ruthmary Barnes, a cofounder of the Executives’ Secretaries, and went on a cross-country tour with his new wife. When they arrived in Boerne, Texas, about 30 miles north of San Antonio, they found the climate to their liking and leased a ranch house.

 

In late September 1950, Nance became ill and was admitted to a San Antonio hospital where he died of pneumonia a week later on October 2, 1950. His body was returned to Los Angeles where funeral services were held at Utter-McKinley Wilshire Mortuary at 444 S. Vermont Avenue. He was buried next to Bessie at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.

 

 

 

 

 

The grave of Frank A. Nance and his wife Bessie are located at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale in the Kindly Light section (above), Lot 207, Space 1 and 2. They are directly across the road from the Finding of Moses statue near the cemetery entrance. If you know where Claire Windsor is interred, the Nances are two rows up and ‘about’ 20 feet to the right.

 

 

A month following his death, a bitterly worded will was filed for probate in Superior Court. The document, written entirely in Nance’s hand, identified his widow as Ruthmary Nance, 45 of 2124 Hillhurst Avenue.

 

It stated that during their brief marriage, Nance gave her joint tenancy interest in property worth $20,000, made her beneficiary in insurance policies of $15,000 and purchased a car for her.

 

“All of which,” the will said, “she now has in her possession exclusively and all of which she received from me on her promise to be a loving and loyal wife as long as I lived, which promise she has refused to keep or to tell her true name to others – persisting that her name is Ruthmary Barnes.”

 

Nance cut off his wife with $1.00 and left the remainder of his estate, valued at the time at $25,000 to his brother, sisters and a godson.  Nance had no children.

 

The following September, Nance’s brother, Ira, sued his ex-sister-in-law, charging that Frank Nance was deceived into assigning her some $50,000 from his holdings. The inducement for these transfers was the “promise of marriage, but after the marriage, Mrs. Nance did not live with Mr. Nance as his wife despite her promise.”

 

Unfortunately the results of these charges were never made public, however, Ruthmary Barnes returned to her original name and died on March 14, 1972.

 ______________________________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Jimmy Dean Obituary

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

OBITUARY

Jimmy Dean dies at 81; country music star and sausage king

 

 

 

The Texas-born entertainer, who hit it big with the Grammy-winning ‘Big Bad John’ in 1961, also had his own TV variety shows and a role on ‘Daniel Boone.’ But many know him from his sausage brand and commercials.

 

By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
June 15, 2010

 

When the Country Music Assn. announced in February that Jimmy Dean would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year, Dean joked, “I thought I was already in there.”

 

“Seriously, it brought a huge grin to my face,” he said in a news release. “I am honored.”

 

Dean already had been inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

 

That’s not to mention his 2009 induction into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

 

Indeed, Dean, who died Sunday evening at his home in Henrico County, Va., at age 81, may be better known by some today as “the sausage king” of TV commercial fame than a hit-making country music star and one-time TV show host who helped bring country music into the mainstream in the 1960s.

 

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

_________________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Mary Wickes 100th Birthday

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

100th BIRTHDAY

Mary Wickes

 

 

 

AMERICAN ACTRESS

 

 

 

Click below to watch Mary Wickes in The Decorator, an unaired 1965 pilot starring Bette Davis

 

 

________________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Clark Gable’s crypt kissed

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

CELEBRITY GRAVES

Clark Gable’s Tomb Vandalized By A Kiss

 

TMZ.com

 

(NewsCore) – The tomb of silver screen star Clark Gable was vandalized by an adoring bandit who left her mark with lipstick — causing a repair team to be called to clean it, TMZ reported Sunday.

 

Gable, who is entombed in a mausoleum at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif. — also the final resting place of Walt Disney, Michael Jackson and a host of other celebrities — is regularly sought after by female fans, and traces of lipstick are occasionally spotted by the actor’s son John Clark Gable.

 

Although most previous marks were easily wiped away, the latest one stubbornly stuck, forcing a “total overhaul” of the white marble monument by a repair team.

 

John Clark Gable also warned against letting Jackson fans into the mausoleum — claiming that if they came inside, their tributes could damage surrounding memorials, including his father’s.

 

He said he asked security to “keep an eye out” for the lipstick bandit’s return.

 

Click here to view the article

_______________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Carmine Coppola’s 100th Birthday

Friday, June 11th, 2010

100th BIRTHDAY

Carmine Coppola

 

 

AMERICAN COMPOSER

 

 

 

Click below to listen to Intermezzo by Carmine Coppola from The Godfather III

 

 

 ________________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Robert Cummings 100th Birthday

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

100th BIRTHDAY

Robert Cummings

 

 

  

AMERICAN ACTOR

 

 

 

Click below to watch Bob Cummings in a CBS television promotion

 

 

______________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Lost Chaplin film found

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

FILM HISTORY

 Lost Charlie Chaplin film discovered in Michigan antique sale

 

 

Still image from Charlie Chaplin’s cameo appearance in a Keystone comedy called A Thief Catcher in January 1914.

 

By Scott Eyman
Palm Beach Post

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

 

The diminutive figure emerges from the underbrush wearing a Keystone Cop uniform about four sizes too large. He screws up his courage by giving a very familiar wiggle of his butt, followed by a very familiar wriggle of his shoulders.

 

He’s wearing a little moustache that would soon become world famous, carrying only a nightstick and the possibility of greatness.

 

It’s Charlie Chaplin, making a cameo appearance in a Keystone comedy called A Thief Catcher in January 1914, just about a month after he started working at the Edendale, California, studio. It’s the 36th film he made in a frantic year’s activity before he left for more green, not to mention greener, pastures.

 

Until a few months ago, nobody knew it existed.

 

Click here to continue reading the Palm Beach Post article

_____________________________________

 

Please follow and like us:

Lost silent films found

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

FILM HISTORY

Long-Lost Silent Films Return to America

 

 

 

 A scene from “Why Husbands Flirt” (1918), one of some 75 silent movies, found in a New Zealand archive, being returned to the United States.

 

By Dave Kehr
New York Times
June 7, 2010

 

A late silent feature directed by John Ford, a short comedy directed by Mabel Normand, a period drama starring Clara Bow and a group of early one-reel westerns are among a trove of long-lost American films recently found in the New Zealand Film Archive.

 

Some 75 of these movies, chosen for their historical and cultural importance, are in the process of being returned to the United States under the auspices of the National Film Preservation Foundation, the nonprofit, charitable affiliate of the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation Board. (This writer is a member of the board, and has served on grant panels for the foundation, though none related to the current project.) Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s minister for arts, culture and heritage, is expected to announce the discovery and the repatriation officially this week.

 

The films came to light early in 2009, when Brian Meacham, a preservationist for the Los Angeles archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, dropped in on colleagues at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington during a vacation.

 

Click here to continue reading this New York Times article

_________________________________________

 

Please follow and like us: