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Jane Russell Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 28th, 2011
Feb 28


Jane Russell dies at 89; screen siren had sensational debut in ‘The Outlaw’



Her provocative performance in the 1943 Howard Hughes film — and the publicity shots posing her in a low-cut blouse while reclined on a stack of hay bales — marked a turning point in moviedom sexuality. She became a bona fide star and a favorite pinup girl of soldiers during World War II


By Claudia Luther
Special to the Los Angeles Times
March 1, 2011


Jane Russell, the dark-haired siren whose sensational debut in the 1943 film “The Outlaw” inspired producer Howard Hughes to challenge the power and strict morality of Hollywood’s production code, died Monday at her home in Santa Maria, Calif. She was 89.


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



The first Academy Awards

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 26th, 2011
Feb 26


Film efforts rewarded




Academy announces fifteen awards of statuette for elevating standards of screen


Los Angeles Times
February 18, 1929

The first awards for individual meritorious achievements in motion pictures were announced yesterday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The fifteen awards are for outstanding achievements for 1928 and were made after an exhaustive survey.


As a reward for and in recognition of their efforts in raising the standards of motion pictures the winners are to be presented with statuettes in bronze and gold, designed by George Stanley, sculptor, under the supervision and selection of Cedric Gibbons, art director at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio.


The statuette is twelve inches high with a Belgian marble base and consists of an idealized male figure standing on a representation of a reel of motion-picture film. It was announced the trophies will be presented at a later meeting of the academy at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.


The winners of the merit awards follow:


Emil Jannings, first award for his outstanding performances in The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command. Honorable mention to Richard Barthelmess for his performance in The Noose and The Patent Leather Kid.


Janet Gaynor, first award for best performances among actresses in Seventh Heaven, Sunrise and The Street Angel. Honorable mention to Gloria Swanson for performance in Sadie Thompson and to Louise Dresser in A Ship Come In.





For direction of dramatic pictures, Frank Brozage received first award for Seventh Heaven. Honorable mention to Herbert Brenon for his directorial work in Sorrell and Son and to King Vidor for The Crowd. Lewis Milestone received first award for directing a comedy picture, Two Arabian Knights. Honorable mention to Ted Wilde for Harold Lloyd’s Speedy.


The first award for writing an original story was given to Ben Hecht for Underworld with honorable mention to Lajos Biros for The Last Command, while Benjamin Glazer received first award for adaptation of Seventh Heaven with honorable mention to Alfred Cohn for adapting The Jazz Singer and to Anthony Coldewey adapting Glorious Betsy.


For title-sriting the first award went to Joseph Farnham with honorable mention to George Marion, Jr., and Gerald Duffy.


The cinematography award is shared by Charles Rosher and Karl Struss for Sunrise.


George Barnes gets honorable mention for his work in Sadie Thompson, The Devil Dancer and Magic Flame.


The art direction award was given to William C. Menzies for The Tempest and The Dove, with honorable mention to Rochus Gliese for Sunrise and Harry Oliver for Seventh Heaven.


The engineering effects award goes to Roy Pomeroy for Wings, with honorable mention to Nugent Slaughter and to Ralph Hammeras.





The Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation received the first award for the production of the outstanding picture of the year, Wings. Honorable mention went to the Fox company for Seventh Heaven and to the Caddo company for Two Arabian Knights. This is the only award which was decided on box-office returns.


The Fox company won first award for the production of the most unusual and artistic picture, Sunrise, while honorable mention was received by Paramount for Chang and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for The Crowd.


Special first award was given to Warner Brothers for producing the pioneer outstanding talking picture, The Jazz Singer, with Al Jolson, while another first special award was given to Charles Chaplin for acting, writing and producing The Circus.


It was announced by the central board of judges which made the award that the board felt that Warner Brothers and Chaplin should be considered separately from the other award classifications owing to the unique character of their accomplishments.


In deciding to make the first awards for individual achievements, the academy members made twelve classifications in addition to the two special awards. The nominations were turned in by the members last August. One thousand nominations were received and these were then referred to class committees consisting of five judges. These judges made three nominations which were then turned over to a central board of judges. This, it was explained, is responsible for the length of time taken in making the awards.


The central board of judges was composed of Alec Francis, Sid Grauman, Frank Lloyd, and A. George Volck. The awards were made for pictures first publicly released during the year ending August 1, 1928, and is the first time the academy has made the awards.


The preceding article is the announcement of the first Academy Awards from the Los Angeles Times in 1929. In the beginning the awards were announced before the ceremony instead of being a surprise that night.



Bing Crosby’s stolen Oscar!

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 24th, 2011
Feb 24


 Bing Crosby’s stolen Oscar!




By Allan R. Ellenberger


Bing Crosby graduated from Gonzaga High School in Spokane, Washington in 1920 and received an honorary doctorate from Gonzaga University in 1937. Crosby retained an interest for his former school throughout his life and contributed generously to it. Through his efforts the Crosby Library was constructed and dedicated as a memorial to the Crosby family in 1957. The school’s collection is the largest public Crosby collection containing his 1944 Oscar for “Going My Way,” gold and platinum records, trophies and awards, photographs, correspondence, news clippings, radio disks, records and cassettes, and other memorabilia.


One weekend in late April of 1972, Bing’s Oscar was stolen and a three-inch statue of Mickey Mouse was left in its place. Police said that the theft appeared to be a prank since none of the other Crosby memorabilia in display cases was disturbed. The police report at the time valued the gold-plated Oscar at about $75.


The following Friday, the university newspaper ran an interview with an anonymous person who said he carried out the theft because “I wanted to make people laugh.” A few days later, the Oscar was found in the University chapel by a priest and returned to the display case.



James Marsden imposter

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 21st, 2011
Feb 21


James Marsden



As we know there are sometimes hundreds of people, or even more, with the same name lurking on tombstones in neighborhood graveyards from over the past two centuries. It’s even more weird to see celebrity names, especially for those who are still with us. Today we profile one for the very-much-alive actor, James Marsden, who has appeared in Superman Returns (2006), Hairspray (2007) and Death at a Funeral (2010) found at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Section 6.





Today in LA

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 20th, 2011
Feb 20


Snow covered peaks near Hollywood and Glendale



If you were out-and-about today in Los Angeles, you may have seen the beautiful snow capped mountians that are currently surrounding the city thanks to the recent rains and snows in the higher elevations. Enjoy!






 (Photos by Allan R. Ellenberger)



Merle Oberon’s 100th Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 19th, 2011
Feb 19


Merle Oberon










The Life of Forry booksigning at Hollywood Heritage

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 18th, 2011
Feb 18



The Hollywood Heritage Museum presents a book-signing with Deborah Painter, signing her new book



The Life of Forry

Forrest J Ackerman


Deborah Painter


Sunday February 20th, 2011,

from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.


Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008) was an author, archivist, agent, actor, promoter, and editor of the iconic fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland; a founder of science fiction fandom; and one of the world’s foremost collectors of sci-fi, horror and fantasy films, literature, and memorabilia.


This biography begins with a foreword by Joe Moe, Ackerman’s caregiver and close friend since 1983. It documents Ackerman’s lifelong dedication to his work in both literature and film; his interests, travels, relationships and associations with famous personalities; and his lasting impact on popular culture. Primary research material includes letters given by Ackerman to the author during their long friendship, and reminiscences from Ackerman’s friends, fans and colleagues.


Deborah Painter has also written articles for Filmfax and Horse and Horseman. When not writing on film topics, she is an environmental services director for REMSA Incorporated.     


The Hollywood Heritage Museum

2100 North Highland Avenue (across from the Hollywood Bowl)


 Free parking 



“The Life of Forry” book signing at Larry Edmunds

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 18th, 2011
Feb 18


“The Life of Forry” book signing at Larry Edmunds



by Deborah Painter 

Saturday, February 19 @ 5:00 p.m.

Larry Edmunds Bookshop

6644 Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood, 90028





Also, we welcome special guest Joe Moe with items of Forry-bilia on display! Join us for a salute to the “famous” one , and then enjoy a monster double bill featuring Mothra & friends that night at the Egyptian Theater too. Make it a “horror-ible” night!


Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008) was an author, archivist, agent, actor, promoter, and editor of the iconic fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland; a founder of science fiction fandom; and one of the world’s foremost collectors of science horror and fantasy films, literature, and memorabilia. This biography begins with a foreword by Joe Moe, Ackerman’s caregiver and close friend since 1982. It documents Ackerman’s lifelong dedication to his work in both literature and films, his interests, travels, relationships and associations with famous personalities; and his lasting impact on popular culture. Primary research material includes letters given by Ackerman to the author during their long friendship, and numerous reminiscences from Ackerman’s friends, fans and colleagues.

About the Author

Deborah Painter has written articles for such magazines as Filmfax and Horse and Horseman. She is an environmental services director for REMSA Incorporated and lives in Norfolk, Virginia.



Mickey Rooney Drama

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 18th, 2011
Feb 18


Mickey Rooney Gets Restraining Order Against Stepson




February 15, 2011


(NewsCore) – LOS ANGELES — Hollywood veteran Mickey Rooney obtained a restraining order against his stepson Tuesday in Los Angeles, alleging that the man is trying to steal his assets, TMZ reported.


The 90-year-old actor claims stepson Christopher Aber, 52, “threatens, intimidates … and harasses” him and has tried to convince him to sign over his assets to him.


According to Rooney’s petition for the restraining order, “Mickey is extremely fearful that Chris will become physically threatening against Mickey and may even attempt to kidnap Mickey from his home.”


Aber and his wife were ordered to stay 100 yards away from Rooney. Rooney also asked the judge in the case to appoint a temporary conservator to help protect his assets, and the judge complied by granting conservator status to Rooney’s attorney.


Aber is the son of Rooney’s eighth wife, Jan Rooney, to whom he has been married since 1978.



Pierre Collings tragic story

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 13th, 2011
Feb 13


The tragic story of Pierre Collings




By Allan R. Ellenberger


Time, fame and money trip lightly in Hollywood, and the men and women who have them one day find themselves alone and penniless the next. So it was with Pierre Collings, screenwriter, whose screenplay of The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) won him two Academy Awards in 1937. Sadly he would not survive to the end of that year.


The second eldest of five children, Lysander Pierre Collings was born on September 22, 1900, in Truro, Nova Scotia where his father Otto was a mining engineer. Otto and his wife Martha were both American citizens and once they returned to the states, had Pierre naturalized as an American citizen.


Collings entered motion pictures as a messenger boy at the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios when he was 17 years old. He became successively a cameraman [Alimony (1924) and Untamed Youth (1924)] at the Brunton Studios (now Paramount), an assistant director and then a writer. Among Collings early scripts were A Woman of the World (1925) and Good and Naughty (1926), both starring Pola Negri; The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1926), with Adolph Menjou and Florence Vidor; the Louise Brooks classic, The Show Off (1926), and the continuity for the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers (1930).


Sadly, very little is known about Collings personal and professional life. In December 1926, Collings was married to Natalie Harris at New York’s Little Church Around the Corner. The couple was divorced in 1930. In 1928 Collings was scheduled to direct Alex the Great but for unknown reasons the film was taken over by Dudley Murphy.





Between 1924 and 1930, Collings kept relatively busy writing screenplays, however between 1930 and 1937 he only produced two screenplays, one of which was as an uncredited dialogue contributor on British Agent (1934) starring Leslie Howard and Kay Francis. It could be during this time that some of his personal problems began. In August 1935 he was arrested for drunk driving.


The following December he signed with Warner Bros. and was assigned, along with writer Sheridan Gibney, to write the screenplay for The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), which was to star Paul Muni in the title role. During the production of the film, Collings mother, Martha died unexpectedly and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery.



The grave of Collings mother at Hollywood Forever Cemetery


The Story of Louis Pasteur would prove to be Collings biggest success professionally. Both he and Gibney were nominated for two Academy Awards for Original Story and for Screenplay. Reportedly, after finishing the screenplay Collings suffered a nervous breakdown and was not able to attend the ceremony on Oscar night. When Collings and Gibney won both awards, Gibney accepted the Oscars for his writing partner.


Soon after, Collings health improved enough for him to accept an assignment to write the screenplay for a projected Warner Bros. film, Houdini the Great which was scheduled to star George Raft. For whatever reason, the project never materialized. After this he had problems finding work again and started drinking and soon fell into more bad health and poverty. Stories circulated that he actually pawned one of his two Oscars in order to survive, but this cannot be confirmed. The following July, he was arrested on an intoxication charge that was filed by his landlady. He pleaded not guilty.



Pierre Collings died here at his father’s home at 12315 N. Huston Avenue in North Hollywood (PLEASE NOTE: This is a private residence. Please do not disburb the occupants)


Collings was working with songwriter Carrie Jacobs Bond on a proposed screenplay based on her popular song, “I Love You Truly” when he died from pneumonia at his father’s home in North Hollywood on December 21, 1937. His funeral was held at Pierce Brothers Chapel Hollywood and he was interred at Hollywood Cemetery near the body of his mother.



Pierre Collings grave at Hollywood Forever is located in Section 2W near the grave of Florence Lawrence.


Collings was already forgotten. The Los Angeles Times did not publish an obituary – only a listing of his name in the death notices. However, three weeks later, Lee Shipley, a columnist for the Times made this mention in his column:


“Little Pierre Collings, who wrote the script for Louis Pasteur, died the other day. His close friends tell me his decline in health resulted from heartache and despair because, after that truly great picture, he was given hardly any work. The producers thought one Louis Pasteur was great, through some accident, but the public wouldn’t stand for another picture like that – not when it could go to the next show house and see Ben Bernie.


“In fact, I think the sin of Hollywood is that it gathers genius from all the world and then says to it: ‘You mustn’t do your best or anything approaching it. Our public wouldn’t understand it.’”


Four months after Collings death, Charles Mackay, a wanna-be actor who was down on his luck was living at the Mark Twain Hotel in Hollywood. Mackay had graduated from Washington and Lee University the year before and decided to “try” Hollywood. His friends told him he should be an actor; his father, a prosperous St. Louis broker, told him he shouldn’t. He was told to go if he wanted, but don’t come home for help. Mackay decided to ignore his father and prove him wrong.


By April 1938, Mackay was down to his last quarter. His best prospect for finding lodging for the night was an afternoon working on a rock pile. He returned to his room sweaty, tired and discouraged. In hopes of finding a clean shirt, he looked through a closet reserved for the belongings of guests who left the hotel without paying their rent in advance. There Mackay discovered a threadbare blue sweater, and wrapped in the garment was Pierre Collings’ Oscar statuette.


Concerned that he would be arrested for the possible theft of the Oscar if he tried to return it to its owner, Mackay walked up to Hollywood Boulevard to think. By chance he ran into screenwriter Arthur Caesar, who himself won an Academy Award a few years earlier for Manhattan Melodrama (1934). He told Caesar his story and the writer took him and the Oscar to the Academy’s office where the secretary told him that Collings had died a few months earlier in poverty. It was assumed that, probably in need, Collings had been forced to leave the sweater and Oscar as hostage for his unpaid rent. The Academy gave Mackay $25 for the Oscar, told him to clean up, and they assumingly kept the Oscar.



Charles Mackay, center, is shown holding the Oscar given to Pierre Collings. At left is Donald Gledhill, scretary of the Academy, and at right is screenwriter Arthur Caesar.


During research for this article, I contacted the Academy and was told that Pierre Collings’ Oscar was not in their possession and there were no records of the transaction. It’s possible the unclaimed statue could be lying in a box somewhere in the Academy’s attic or, since his father was still living at the time, it was returned to him. In any event, both Oscars won by Collings that night are missing.


If you watch the Academy Awards ceremony in two weeks, when the award for Best Screenplay is presented, remember Pierre Collings – may he rest in peace.



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