Archive for November, 2010

Leslie Nielsen Obituary

Sunday, November 28th, 2010


Actor Leslie Nielsen dies at age 84



From the Associated Press
November 28, 2010


Leslie Nielsen, who traded in his dramatic persona for inspired bumbling as a hapless doctor in “Airplane!” and the accident-prone detective Frank Drebin in “The Naked Gun” comedies, died on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84.


Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Leslie Nielsen



The Gibbons/del Rio Estate

Monday, November 22nd, 2010


Dolores del Rio and Cedric Gibbons’ 1930s Art Deco Estate in Santa Monica






Designed in 1930 by legendary Hollywood art director Cedric Gibbons as a love-nest for Gibbons and his then-wife, silent-film siren Dolores del Rio, the Art Deco-style property in Santa Monica features five bedrooms, six bathrooms, an office, a gym, a lighted tennis court, and separate staff/guest quarters. It’s listed at $12.45 million. Virtual tour can be found here, and some vintage glamour shots of the house can be found at style blog Poetic Home. 757 Kingman Avenue, Santa Monica, CA.









The Story of Chaplin’s Walk of Fame Star

Saturday, November 20th, 2010


A Star is Born — Charlie Chaplin’s





By Allan R. Ellenberger


This year marks the 5oth anniversary of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The idea for the Walk of Fame, which is world famous, goes back to 1953 when E. M. Stuart, who served as the volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proposed the idea. Stuart described the Walk as a means to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” A committee was appointed to begin fleshing out the idea. In 1960, 1,550 honorees were selected by committees representing the four branches of the entertainment industry at that time, and were laid out on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and two blocks of Vine Street – everyone that is, except for comedian Charlie Chaplin.


Chaplin’s name was in the original list nominated for inclusion in the walk back in 1956, but Hollywood property owners objected to Chaplin, charging his moral and leftwing leanings tended to discredit him and the entertainment industry. His star was not included.


In 1952 Chaplin had left Hollywood on a visit to England and while aboard ship in the Atlantic, was notified that his reentry permit had been revoked. Atty. Gen. James P. McGranery said the action had been prompted by “public charges” associating Chaplin with communism and “grave moral charges.” The comedian would have to appear at a hearing to prove his “moral worth” before he could return. Chaplin, who was still a British subject, declined to go through such a hearing. “Since the end of the last world war,” Chaplin said, “I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America’s yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States.” Chaplin and his family moved to a mansion overlooking Lake Geneva near the Swiss village of Vevey.


That government ruling was widely and correctly interpreted as a shabby cover to bar Chaplin from the country for political reasons. While he never belonged to a political party, he was sympathetic to liberal and some radical causes. Worse, he was outspoken. And some of his films, which ridiculed aspects of American society, were denounced as “left-wing propaganda.”


In August 1960, a superior court judge refused to issue an order compelling the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Improvement Association to show cause why they should not be directed to include Chaplin’s name on the Walk of Fame. The court acted on a petition filed by Charles Chaplin, Jr., who contended that omission of his father’s name from the Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk project was malicious. Chaplin Jr. himself demanded $400,000 damages on the complaint that the decision of the two Hollywood organizations libeled him and injured his career. His suit was eventually dismissed.


After the reentry prohibition against Chaplin was dropped years later, the actor remained in Switzerland. As the years passed, both Chaplin and the times changed and, in an interview in London in 1962, he said: “What happened to me, I can’t condemn or criticize the country for that. There are many admirable things about American and its system, too. I have no ill feelings. I carry no hate. My only enemy is time.”


By the early days of 1972, the officials, including an attorney general of the United States, who were outraged at Chaplin’s radically-tinged politics, were now gone. It was rumored that Chaplin would return to the United States for the first time in twenty years to receive a special Academy Award voted to him. If Chaplin decided to return, he would have to apply to the U.S. Consulate in Geneva for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. The U.S. State Department would then rule on the application.


Possibly because of Chaplin’s promising return, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Committee voted on whether to approve a star for the actor and voted 5 to 4 against it. After that vote, Chamber president, A. Ronald Button ordered an advisory poll of chamber membership that responded 3 to 1 in favor of installing a Chaplin star. Based on that, the Chambers directors went against their Executive Committees recommendation and voted 30 to 3 in favor of adding Chaplin’s name to the sidewalk honor. The decision still had to be approved by the Los Angeles City Council, but Button said it had always approved the directors’ recommendations in the past. “I can’t imagine them opposing the star,” he said. Eventually the city council approved Chaplin’s star, 11 to 3. The three dissenting councilmen never spoke publicly in opposition, but privately complained that since the comedian earned his money here he should not have left the country to live in Switzerland.



At the time there were eighty names previously approved that had not yet been inserted because the funds were not available. This was before the days when a star had to be paid for by fans. Instead each star’s installation was funded by the Chamber which, at the time, cost between $900 and $1,000. However, one unnamed board member offered to pay for the installation of Chaplin’s star. At that time it was not known where or when the installation would take place.


Soon it was announced that after an exile of two decades, Chaplin would return to the United States and be honored with a special award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Before leaving Switzerland for New York, Chaplin received anonymous death threats, most by telephone saying they were going to kill him. “He expected to be shot over here,” said William Jordan, whose private detective firm was hired by the Academy to guard Chaplin during his four-day visit to Los Angeles. “That was his line. He said, ‘They killed Mr. Kennedy.’ I can’t give you the exact number but there were at least a dozen. They were coming into the Music Center – site of the Oscar presentation – and they called his hotel.” Sometimes they specified they were going to blow him up or shoot him. Sometimes they didn’t specify how it would be done.


On April 7, 1972, the 82 year-old Chaplin and his wife Oona arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. Photographers, cameramen and reporters lined a walkway that extended from the plane to a waiting car. Finally, after a quick flurry of activity, Chaplin appeared at the top of the terminal stairs. He was short, almost portly. His white hair was wispy in the breeze. As he reached the base of the stairs he looked up and smiled at the row of waiting reporters. There were no cheers, no applause. He waved, and his words were barely audible. “How does it feel to be back, Mr. Chaplin?” a reporter asked. “Very strange,” was his reply.



Oona and Charles Chaplin on their arrival in Los Angeles in 1972



Only two representatives from Hollywood awaited him at the end of the walkway – Daniel Taradash, president of the Academy and Howard W. Koch, a member of the board of governors and the Academy’s treasurer. “This is the happiest moment in the history of Hollywood,” Taradash told Chaplin. The comedian, perhaps unable to hear amidst the commotion, shook his hand but reportedly said nothing. Chaplin was taken to the Beverly Hills Hotel, passing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City and 20th Century-Fox en route. His car did not stop or slow down. Chaplin made no public appearances, interviews or tours while he was in Los Angeles and turned down many of the private invitations he received.


During Chaplin’s arrival that morning, a statue of him was unveiled at the Hollywood Visitors and Information Center at Hollywood and Vine to commemorate his return. Almost immediately bomb threats and complaints poured in forcing the removal of the statue the following day to the Artisan’s Patio at 6727 Hollywood Boulevard, where it went on public display. Letters from across the country were received expressing bitterness towards Chaplin and Hollywood’s welcome after twenty years. “I am tired, tired to death of these insane Revolutionary Zionists of which Charlie Chaplin is one of the very worst,” wrote one critic. There were several defenders – by far the minority – among the letter writers, and one expressed a common sentiment: “His political beliefs of whatever persuasion should not be allowed to obscure his comic genius.”


Threats were also leveled at the dedication of Chaplin’s Walk of Fame bronze star ceremony which was scheduled for the following Monday morning – the same day Chaplin would receive his special Oscar. Anonymous telephone threats that the star would be ripped up or defaced were received. One letter writer said: “The only star I would give Charlie Chaplin is a red star… I am against putting Chaplin’s name on any of our streets. He never donated a dime or time to anything in America. I say don’t let him enter these United States again. Russians can have him with my compliments.”


The following Monday morning, fans and several armed guards, gathered at the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce officials uttered words of benediction over Chaplin’s star. Chaplin’s 12 year-old granddaughter, Susan Maree Chaplin, unveiled the star in her famous grandfather’s absence. The dedication ceremony was attended by many Hollywood oddities including “Alice of Hollyweird,” with her singing dogs; Albert Ciremele, a Chaplin impersonator, and “Aunt Pollu,” sweeping up the street with a gold-speckled mop. Also attending were several Keystone Cops, only one of whom, Eddie LeVeque, was an original. In the crowd were several old, white-haired women passing out a sheet of paper purporting to show “Charlie Chaplin’s Red Record.” To anyone who would listen, they would rail on about Chaplin’s political philosophy.


The Chamber of Commerce hired private detectives to guard Chaplin’s star until the actor returned to Switzerland. One guard commented that some person’s walking by had made derogatory remarks but “most of the people are pro-Chaplin.”




Charlie Chaplin’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (above and below) as it looks today at 6755 Hollywood Boulevard




That evening, Chaplin and Oona were accompanied by private bodyguards and driven to the Music Center where he received his special Oscar for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.” Stepping onto the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Chaplin received the longest standing ovation in Academy Award history, lasting a full five minutes. Filled with emotion, Chaplin told the captivated audience: “Oh, thank you so much. This is an emotional moment for me, and words seem so futile, so feeble. I can only say that… thank you for the honor of inviting me here, and, oh, you’re wonderful, sweet people. Thank you.”



Chaplin after accepting his honorary Oscar



Before he returned home to Switzerland, Chaplin met with Tim Durant, an old friend, confidant, roommate and sportsman. According to Durant, Chaplin was bewildered by the Los Angeles he came back to as an old, uncertain, rheumy-eyed man. Chaplin would look out, but didn’t seem to recognize the beaches at Santa Monica, where in the old days Marion Davies would hire a bus and run down to the beach at night and light a fire and hunt grunion with Charlie and Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino till dawn. One day he turned to Durant to shake his hand, and tears came to his eyes. “Tim, we were pals, weren’t we?” Chaplin asked. “And we did have fun, didn’t we? And it’s all gone now, isn’t it?”



Cher makes an impression at Grauman’s Chinese

Friday, November 19th, 2010


Cher’s Hollywood footprint ceremony typically low-key, with a busload of Chilean miners and a turquoise G-string


 (Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images/Los Angeles Times)


 ( Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images/Los Angeles Times)


LOS ANGELES TIMES — In fishnets and high heels, with a dash of turquoise and an audience of unexpected heroes, Cher left her mark in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Thursday.


The singer and actress was back on Hollywood Boulevard after the Monday premiere of her latest film, “Burlesque,” which opens Nov. 24 and stars Christina Aguilera.


Cher’s mom, Georgia Holt, and son Chaz Bono were on hand as she cast her footprints and handprints in cement, then topped it all off with a healthy dose of gold glitter. Surprise guests included the 33 rescued Chilean miners, who cruised past atop a double-decker tourist bus while in town for the upcoming Thanksgiving special, “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”


On the always interesting wardrobe front, an assistant’s tank top was called into emergency duty after the star realized the slip to her see-through dress was missing. But it was only a tank top, not a full slip, which is how we know her undies were turquoise.


Anything less just wouldn’t be Cher, would it?







William Self Obituary

Thursday, November 18th, 2010


William Self dies at 89; 20th Century-Fox production executive




Self was in charge of television production at the studio in the 1960s and early ’70s, when its roster of shows included ‘Peyton Place,’ ‘Batman,’ and ‘MASH.’


By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
November 19, 2010


William Self, a producer and television executive who was in charge of television production at 20th Century-Fox during the 1960s and early `70s when its list of successful shows included “Peyton Place,” “Batman” and ” MASH,” has died. He was 89.


Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Time obituary for William Self



Christina Aguilera gets a Walk of Fame Star

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010


Christina Aguilera gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame



Singer and newly minted leading lady Christina Aguilera got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, just hours before hitting the premiere of her first film, “Burlesque,” at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.


Star No. 2,423 — in the recording category and in front of the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard — belongs to the five-time Grammy winner, who has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and has four No. 1 songs to her name. Mom Shelley Kearns and brother Michael Kearns were there for the ceremony and posed for pics.



Baby Marie Osborne Obituary

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010


Baby Marie Osborne; early child star of silent films




London Telegraph
November 16, 2010


‘Baby’ Marie Osborne, who died on November 11 aged 99, was an early child star of silent films and a favourite with First World War audiences; she made her film debut aged three, and soon appeared as the lead in almost 30 pictures, including her most memorable title, Little Mary Sunshine.


Her fame was, however, short-lived. By the time of her 10th birthday her career was almost over and her fortune dissipated. “I set the trend for virtually every other child star that followed,” she said almost 90 years later.


Helen Alice Myres was born in Denver, Colorado, on November 5 1911, and at the age of three months became the foster daughter of Leon and Edith Osborn (the “e” was a later addition). At the suggestion of her foster mother, her name was changed to Marie.


The Osborns left Denver for Long Beach, California, in 1914, and soon found jobs acting with the Balboa Amusement Company. Unable to afford a babysitter, Leon and Edith took Marie with them to the studio, where she came to the attention of the director Henry King.


King had wanted to cast a male toddler in Maid of the Wild (1915), but liked Marie’s bob hairstyle, and guessed that, with the right wardrobe, she could easily pass for a boy. Soon recognising that he had a potential star on his hands, King urged Balboa to put her under contract.


Later, under his supervision, King had Little Mary Sunshine (1916) especially written for her. The film, which King directed, tells the story of an infant who is suddenly orphaned and taken in by the parents of a man who has been ditched by his fiancée. The scenes starring Baby Marie, as she was billed, remain the film’s most engaging, and made her a star.


Together King and Marie produced a series of successful films, including Joy and the Dragon and Shadows and Sunshine (both 1916), Told at Twilight (1917) and The Locked Heart (1918). The child was well paid for her efforts. “I couldn’t quite understand all the attention being paid me,” she recalled. “I was earning $300 a week when the average American was making less than $1,000 per year.”


Such was her success that, in 1917, Leon and Edith Osborn formed their own production company, Lasalida, and released a string of Baby Marie pictures. In 1918-19, at the height of her popularity, a merchandising deal with a New York toy manufacturer saw Baby Marie Osborne dolls on Christmas wish lists for little girls across the globe.


By 1920 she owned three vast properties in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, and was driven about town by a dapper chauffeur in a 1907 Hudson.


But her star then began to wane in the face of competition from younger, cuter girls. Baby Marie travelled America to re-engage with her once loyal audience, but the tour did little to reactivate her flagging career. By the time she entered her teens, she had retired.


What happened to the money remained a mystery to Marie Osborne. “I was the first of Hollywood’s washed-up child stars. There was a trust fund, but I never seemed to have received anything from it,” she recalled. “My foster parents lived a gilded life.”


In 1931 she married a businessman, Frank Dempsey, but when their marriage foundered she was obliged to look for work. “I wrote to Henry King,” she remembered. “He was very gracious, and quickly aided me in joining the newly formed Screen Actors’ Guild.” Marie Osborne then appeared in numerous films, often as a stand-in for the likes of Ginger Rogers, Deanna Durbin and Betty Hutton. The Dempseys divorced in 1937.


She met the actor Murray Yeats, who became her second husband, while serving at the Hollywood Canteen during the Second World War.


Postwar she found work in the ladies’ department at the Western Costume Company, later moving to Twentieth Century Fox as assistant costumier, then costume supervisor, for actors including Marlon Brando, John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Rock Hudson, Robert Redford and Elizabeth Taylor. She retired in 1976. Yeats had died the previous year.


Marie Osborne is survived by a daughter of her first marriage. Of the dozens of films she made, only four complete titles have been preserved.



William Powell in the 1930 Census

Monday, November 15th, 2010


William Powell


Film actor

Nick Charles in The Thin Man (1934)





 La Belle Jour Apartment House

6200 Franklin Avenue, Apt. 401

Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California


Rent, $265


April [undated] 1930




  1. Horatio W. Powell (head), 63 / Pennsylvania / Accountant / General practice.
  2. Nettie M. Powell (wife), 55 / Pennsylvania / None.
  3. William H. Powell (son), 35 / divorced / Pennsylvania / Actor / Film studio.


NOTE: This is a private residence. Please DO NOT disturb the occupants.



* Information includes relationship to head of household, age / place of birth (year of arrival in this country, if applicable) / occupation / industry.


The preceeding text is taken from my book, Celebrities in the 1930 Census (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2008). This directory provides an extensive listing of household information collected for over 2,265 famous or notorious individuals who were alive during the 1930 United States Census. Please note: The above photographs do not appear in the book.



Rosemary DeCamp’s 100th Birthday

Sunday, November 14th, 2010


Rosemary DeCamp







  • BORN: November 14, 1910, Prescott, Arizona
  • DIED: February 20, 2001, Torrance, California
  • CAUSE OF DEATH: Complications of pneumonia
  • BURIAL: Ashes given to family or friends



Click below to watch Rosemary DeCamp and William Powell in a scene from Treasure of Lost Canyon







“Dangerous Curves atop Hollywood Heels”

Friday, November 12th, 2010


Dangerous Curves atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers, and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen





“We were like dragonflies. We seemed to be suspended effortlessly in the air, but in reality, our wings were beating very, very fast.” – Mae Murray


“It is worse than folly for persons to imagine that this business is an easy road to money, to contentment, or to that strange quality called happiness.” – Bebe Daniels


 “A girl should realize that a career on the screen demands everything, promising nothing.” – Helen Ferguson


In Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels, author Michael G. Ankerich examines the lives, careers, and disappointments of 14 silent film actresses, who, despite the odds against them and warnings to stay in their hometowns, came to Hollywood to make names for themselves in the movies.


On the screen, these young hopefuls became Agnes Ayres, Olive Borden, Grace Darmond, Elinor Fair, Juanita Hansen, Wanda Hawley, Natalie Joyce, Barbara La Marr, Martha Mansfield, Mary Nolan, Marie Prevost, Lucille Ricksen, Eve Southern, and Alberta Vaughn.


Dangerous Curves follows the precarious routes these young ladies took in their quest for fame and uncovers how some of the top actresses of the silent screen were used, abused, and discarded.  Many, unable to let go of the spotlight after it had singed their very souls, came to a stop on that dead-end street, referred to by actress Anna Q. Nilsson as, Hollywood’s Heartbreak Lane.


Pieced together using contemporary interviews the actresses gave, conversations with friends, relatives, and co-workers, and exhaustive research through scrapbooks, archives, and public records, Dangerous Curves offers an honest, yet compassionate, look at some of the brightest luminaries of the silent screen. The book is illustrated with over 150 photographs.


Check out Michael G. Ankerich’s website at