Archive for June, 2011

New construction at Hollywood Forever

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

New construction at Hollywood Forever continues

 

 

Above is artists conception of the addition of new crypts to the front of the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever.

 

 

 

Above is the current construction as of last weekend

 

NOTE: In a few days, Hollywoodland will publish a story on the history of the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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New York legalizes gay marriage

Friday, June 24th, 2011

BREAKING NEWS

An momentous historic night for New York and gay marriage!

 

Source 

 

The Empire State Building celebrates gay marriage. Tonight NYC admits that LGBT couples deserve equal rights! Six states down, forty-four to go!

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Peter Falk Obituary

Friday, June 24th, 2011

OBITUARY

Peter Falk dies at 83; actor found acclaim as ‘Columbo’

 

 

 

In a more than 50-year acting career that spanned movies, stage and TV, Falk’s disheveled Lt. Columbo became one of TV’s most memorable characters.

 

By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
June 24, 2011

 

Peter Falk, the gravel-voiced actor who became an enduring television icon portraying Lt. Columbo, the rumpled raincoat-wearing Los Angeles police homicide detective who always had “just one more thing” to ask a suspect, died Thursday. He was 83.

 

Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Peter Falk

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Gail Patrick’s 100th Birthday

Monday, June 20th, 2011

100th BIRTHDAY

 

 

AMERICAN ACTRESS

 

  • BORN: June 20, 1911, Birmingham, Alabama
  • DIED: July 6, 1980, Los Angeles, California
  • CAUSE OF DEATH: Leukemia
  • BURIAL: Ashes scattered off shore at Santa Monica

 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH GAIL PATRICK IN “MY MAN GODFREY”

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Toto finds a home at Hollywood Forever

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

 

 

 

 By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Today fans of Toto and the Wizard of Oz gathered at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for the unveiling and dedication of the Toto Memorial. Cloudy skys turned to sun, however there were no rainbows but only smiling faces and many, many Cairn Terriers to celebrate the day.

 

Those who had part in the ceremony included Chanell O’Farrill who welcomed everyone on behave of Hollywood Forever; members of the Toto Memorial Committee, J. P. Myers, Steve Goldstein; Mark Dodge from FixNation, and Robert Baum, the great-grandson of The Wizard of Oz creator, L. Frank Baum. After the crowd sang a chorus of “Over the Rainbow,” the unveiling went off with smoothly. Many thanks go to all who participated today and Tyler Cassity, owner of Hollywood Forever who donated the land the memorial stands on. Enjoy the following photos from todays festivities.

 

 

 

Fans and several Cairn Terriers begin to gather for todays ceremony

 

 

 

These Cairns had front row seats for the unveiling

 

 

 

Claire and Robert Baum, great-grandson of author L. Frank Baum

 

 

 

Robert Baum speaks to the crowd before the unveiling

 

 

 

Waiting for the unveiling

 

 

 

 The unveiling of the Toto Memorial. From left, Robert Baum, J.P. Myers, Steve Goldstein, Mark Dodge, Tyler Cassity

 

 

 

Welcome home Toto.

(Toto sculpted by Roman Gal and the base was designed by Arsen Oganesyan)

 

 

 

Above and below, the inscriptions on either side of the memorial

 

 

 

 

 

Toto (1933-1945)

 

 

 

The Cairn Terrier Club of Southern California

 

 

 

J.P. Myers and Steve Goldstein, the brains behind the Toto Memorial Marker. Congratulations gentlemen on a job well done.

 

 

 

Olivia Francis with Toto

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Toto the Story of a Dog

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

 

 

 

Fans of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz will celebrate the dedication of a full size bronze memorial sculpture of Toto, Dorothy’s beloved dog on Saturday, June 18 at 11 a.m. at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. To commemorate the event, following is a biography of Toto.

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

The most indulged of all the spoiled lovelies of Hollywood during the Golden Age were the canine actors who worked in films. They had their own hotel—The Hollywood Dog Training School—where at one time, seventy-five of the best known dogs of the screen lived in tranquil comfort.

 

The school was set on a pleasant ten-acre site, covered with oaks and willows, near Laurel Canyon Boulevard five miles north of Hollywood. Three hundred feet back from the road stood a cream colored frame house and back of it were two kennels, each 150 feet long. It featured southern exposure, long runs to each kennel, a large grass playground, showers in each section, and several porcelain bathtubs with hot and cold water, an electric drier and a special kitchen where, every day, a tempting cauldron full of vegetable and beef bone soup was cooked for dinners of the distinguished boarders.

 

 

 Carl Spitz with dogs from his training school

 

The dogs, like all other actors, employed a manager—the amiable Carl Spitz—who drove as hard a bargain for his clients as any other agent in Hollywood. The German-born Spitz first took up the work of schooling dogs in Heidelberg where his father and grandfather were dog trainers. Spitz trained dogs for military and police service in World War days. He saw Red Cross dogs search for dying men in no man’s land—and he devoted his life to educating man’s best friend.

 

Leaving Germany, Spitz arrived in New York in 1926, moved briefly to Chicago and soon found himself in Los Angeles, where, the following year he opened his first dog training school at 12239 Ventura Boulevard. Sometime around 1935 he moved the facilities one mile north to a ten-acre spot at 12350 Riverside Drive, where he remained for almost twenty years. “This is a school, where dogs go to classes just like children,” Spitz said. “We have grammar school, high school and college.

 

 

 Above is the location of Carl Spitz’s first dog training school at 12239 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA

 

 

 Advertisement for Spitz’s school at his new location on Riverside Drive

 

 

At first his services were for the public but soon the movies came calling. The transition to sound films required Spitz to drop his verbal commands and develop a series of soundless visual hand signals.

 

His first sound film was Big Boy (1930) starring Al Jolson in which he trained two Great Danes. This one was followed by the John Barrymore classic, Moby Dick (1930). It was too expensive for studios to create their own specially trained dogs so Spitz suddenly found himself in big demand.

 

Canine stars soon began to emerge such as Prince Carl, the Great Dane appearing in Wuthering Heights (1939). The first big dog star to appear from Spitz’s stable was Buck the Saint Bernard who co-starred with Clark Gable and Loretta Young in Call of the Wild (1935). Others included Musty (Swiss Family Robinson), Mr. Binkie (The Lights that Failed) and Promise (The Biscuit Eater). However, probably the best known dog star to emerge from the Spitz kennel that is known today is arguably Toto from The Wizard of Oz (1939).

 

 

Clark Gable with Buck in Call of the Wild (1935)

 

Toto, a purebred Cairn Terrier, was born in 1933 in Alta Dena, California. She soon was taken in by a married couple without children in nearby Pasadena—they named her Terry. It soon became apparent that Terry had a problem with wetting the rug, and her new owners had very little patience with her. It wasn’t long before they sought the services of Carl Spitz’s dog training school in the nearby San Fernando Valley. Spitz put her through the usual training and in a few weeks she was no longer watering the carpet.

 

However, by the time her training was completed, Terry’s owners were late on the kennel board. Spitz attempted to contact them but their telephone had been disconnected. With nothing else to do, Carl’s wife suggested that they keep her.

 

Terry sort of became the family pet until one day Clark Gable and Hedda Hopper stopped by the kennel for some publicity on Gable’s new film, Call of the Wild. One of Carl’s dogs, Buck the St. Bernard, had a large role in the film and Hedda wanted some photos of him with Gable. That day Terry made himself known to the Hollywood people and Carl took note and the next day took her to Fox Studios to audition for a part in the new Shirley Temple film, Bright Eyes (1934).

 

 

Jane Withers and Shirley Temple with Terry in Bright Eyes (1934) 

 

Spitz put her through her paces—playing dead, leaping over a leash, barking on command—for the executives and was then presented to Shirley for the final say. Terry was placed next to a Pomeranian named Ching-Ching, who wasn’t part of the film but was Shirley’s own dog. Terry stood there for a moment, while Ching-Ching looked at her. Finally Terry rolled over, was sniffed and both dogs began running around Shirley’s dressing room. At last, Shirley picked up Terry and handed her to Spitz, grabbed her dog and skipped to the door. “She’s hired,” Shirley giggled as she left the room. Bright Eyes, which co-starred Jane Withers, would be Terry’s first film.

 

That same year Terry made another film, Ready for Love (1934) at Paramount. Next she appeared in The Dark Angel (1935) with Fredric March and Merle Oberon. Other films followed including Fury (1936) with Spencer Tracy; The Buccaneer (1938) for director Cecil B. DeMille and an uncredited part in Stablemates (1938) with Wallace Beery and Mickey Rooney.

 

 

Franciska Gaal with Terry in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Buccaneer (1938)

 

One day it was announced that MGM was going to produce L. Frank Baum’s children classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” Spitz knew that Terry was a mirror-image for Dorothy’s dog, Toto based on sketches throughout the book. So he began teaching her all the tricks from the book, and sure enough, in two months, he received a call from MGM for an audition.

 

Spitz and Terry met with the producer, Mervyn LeRoy who had been inspecting an average of 100 dogs daily for the past week. “Here’s your dog, all up in the part,” Spitz said to LeRoy when he submitted Terry for scrutiny. Terry could already fight, chase a witch, sit up, speak, catch an apple thrown from a tree, and took an immediate liking to Judy Garland. Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley and the rest of the cast were accepted on first acquaintance with the dog. On November 1, 1938, Terry won the role of Toto without a test.

 

 

 Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow” to Toto in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

 

Terry received a weekly salary of $125, which was more than the studio paid the Munchkins. Before filming began, Terry spent two weeks living with Judy Garland, who fell in love with her and tried to buy her from Spitz. Of course he refused. Judy’s daughter, Lorna Luft, once said that her mother told them that the dog had the worst breath in the world. “It all made us laugh,” Luft said, “because the dog was constantly put in her face [with its] silly panting, and she did everything but wince because poor little Toto needed an Altoid.”

 

Terry did everything required of her, although she hesitated at being put in a basket and standing in front of the giant wind fans, simulating a tornado. One day they were filming on the Witches Castle set with dozens of costumed “Winkies” when one of them stepped on Terry’s paw. When she squealed everyone came running including Judy who called the front office and told them that Terry needed a rest. Until Terry returned a few days later, they utilized a stand-in for her.

 

The remainder of filming went smoothly for Terry and even though she appeared in approximately fifteen films, The Wizard of Oz was ultimately her best known. When the film was released, Terry appeared along with the cast at the premiere held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. She became so famous that her paw print brought top prices among autograph seekers. Soon she began making public appearances and became so popular, that Spitz officially changed her name to Toto.

 

 

Terry, now billed as Toto with Virginia Weidler in Bad Little Angel (1939) 

 

That year was a busy one for Toto. Besides The Wizard of Oz, Toto also made a cameo appearance in MGM’s The Women (1939) starring Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford and had a larger role in Bad Little Angel with Virginia Weidler. The next few years had her appearing in Calling Philo Vance (1940), Twin Beds (1942), and Tortilla Flat (1942), again with Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield. Her final film was George Washington Slept Here (1942) starring Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan. That year Toto retired to Spitz’s huge facility on Riverside Drive until she died sometime in 1944. Even though several of Spitz’s dogs were interred at the Camarillo Pet Cemetery in Ventura, he chose to bury Toto on the school property.

 

Carl Spitz continued to train dogs. In 1938, he wrote a handbook, “Training your Dog,” which contained a foreword by Clark Gable. As far back as 1930 Spitz tried to get the Army to let him train dogs for war use. But nothing came of it. Finally in the summer of 1941 they took him up, in a limited way. Spitz agreed to furnish the Army fifty trained sentry dogs—at no cost. He delivered six, had twelve more under training, and already spent $1500 of his own money in the process.

 

 

 

Spitz trained the first platoon of war dogs installed in the continental United States just prior to World War II. He was an expert advisor to the War Department in Washington DC and helped formulate the now famous K-9 Corps for both the US Army and Marine Corps. He became prominent nationally as a dog obedience judge at dog shows. Carl Spitz died on September 15, 1976 and is buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

 

 

 Aerial view of the site of Spitz’s Hollywood Dog Training School on Riverside Drive. Toto was buried somewhere on this site.

 

Around 1958, the Ventura Freeway was being built through the San Fernando Valley and the route went through Spitz’s school, forcing him to relocate. Today the Hollywood Dog Training School is still in existence at 10805 Van Owen Street.

 

Sadly, not only did the freeway erase the school, but it also obliterated Toto’s grave.

 

It’s appropriate that Toto’s Memorial Marker is being installed at Hollywood Forever Cemetery this Saturday, June 18 at 11 a.m. Many of the people that worked with Toto are interred there including Victor Fleming, Harold Rosson (The Wizard of Oz, Tortilla Flat); Cecil B DeMille, Maude Fealy (The Buccaneer); Erville Anderson, Carl Stockdale, Franz Waxman (Fury); Arthur C. Miller (Bright Eyes); Sidney Franklin, Gregg Toldand (The Dark Angel); Ann Sheridan (George Washington Slept Here). She is in good company.

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An Evening with Jane Withers in Person

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

HOLLYWOOD EVENTS

Evening @ the Barn

 

 

 

 

June 8, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

Hollywood Heritage Museum

2100 N. Highland Avenue

(across from the Hollywood Bowl)

Hollywood, CA 90068

www.hollywoodheritage.org

  

Hollywood Heritage is pleased to announce an evening with beloved actress Jane Withers on Wednesday, June 8 at 7:30 pm at the Hollywood Heritage Museum.  Ms. Withers, who just celebrated her 85th birthday, will present a special retrospective on her varied career filled with film clips, anecdotes and personal remembrances. She will also be on-hand to sign autographs and take photographs with her fans.

 

Jane is best known for being one of the most popular child film stars of the 1930s and early 1940s, as well as for her portrayal of Josephine the Plumber in a series of TV commercials for Comet cleanser in the 1960s and early 1970s. Her big break came when she landed a supporting role in the 1934 Shirley Temple film Bright Eyes. Her character Joy Smythe was spoiled and obnoxious, a perfect foil to Temple’s sweet personality.

 

Through the remainder of the 1930s she starred in several movies every year, including Ginger (1935), The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) and Little Miss Nobody (1936), usually cast as a wholesome, meddlesome young girl in films less sugary than Temple’s vehicles. Moviegoers flocked to see her films, and Withers became one of the top 10 box-office stars in 1937 and 1938. Her popularity was such that 20th Century Fox gave her big name co-stars such as the Ritz Brothers (in Pack Up Your Troubles) and Gene Autry (in Shooting High). Withers also did a stint in screenwriting in 1941: she wrote the original story filmed as Small Town Deb, under the pseudonym Jerrie Walters.

 

Withers kept working in the 1940s; she made 16 films for 2oth Century Fox, Columbia Studios and Republic Pictures. Her sweet sixteen birthday party was filmed by Paramount for the Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood series. In 1943 Withers received excellent notices for her dramatic performance in Lewis Milestone’s The North Star. She came out of retirement in 1955 to appear with James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in the landmark film Giant, directed by George Stevens.

 

Withers gained fame again as Josephine the Plumber, a character in a long-running and popular series of television commercials for Comet cleanser, Jane continues to do voice-over work and occasional guest appearances. She is also a passionate collector and maintains many of the original costumes from her films. A selection of Jane Wither’s memorabilia will be on display in the museum lobby for this event, which promises to be a truly special evening.

 

 Admission:

Hollywood Heritage Members, $5.00; General admission at the door is $10.00

Doors open at 7:00PM and seating is limited

Free Parking in Lot D

www.hollywoodheritage.org

323-874-2276

 

Tickets for this event are also available online with your credit card via Brown Paper Tickets. A nominal fee will be added to the ticket price for this service. Just go to: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/176929 for more information. Or call 1-800-838-3006 to reserve tickets over the phone. 

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Missing Hollywoodland plaques finally reported stolen

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

HOLLYWOOD NEWS

Theft of historic ‘Hollywoodland’ signs is finally under investigation

 

Two plaques were pried off the stone gateway to the residential neighborhood below the Hollywood sign in April. The bronze markers said “Hollywoodland Est. 1923.” (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times) 

 

Residents tried to report the plaques missing in April, but police are only now launching an investigation. Why? The signs were city property, and the city hadn’t filed a formal crime report.

 

By Bob Pool
Los Angeles Times
June 4, 2011

 

Six weeks after two historic plaques were stolen from the entrance to one of Hollywood’s most famous neighborhoods, Los Angeles police are launching an investigation.

 

The delay was because no one had yet filed a formal crime report about the missing bronze “Hollywoodland Est. 1923” markers, which were pried from the stone gateway to the historic residential area beneath the Hollywood sign.

 

Residents say they attempted to file a theft report on April 16 after they noticed the plaques’ disappearance but were not allowed to because the markers are considered Los Angeles city property.

 

No one from the city filed a report, either.

 

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING

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Yvette Vickers memorial

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

 FUNERALS/MEMORIALS

Alone in life, Yvette Vickers is somewhat less alone in death

 

 

 Flowers and a photo are seen before the Beverly Hills memorial service for Yvette Vickers on Friday. (Stefano Paltera / For the Los Angeles Times / June 3, 2011)

 

 

At a memorial service for the former Playboy model and horror-film actress who lay undiscovered for nearly a year after her death, her half brother shares what little he knows of her mysterious life.

 

By Mike Anton
Los Angeles Times
June 4, 2011

 

If she hadn’t starred in the 1950s cult horror films “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” and “Attack of the Giant Leeches,” if she hadn’t posed nude for Playboy, few would have asked how 82-year-old Yvette Vickers could have died in her Benedict Canyon home and remained there undiscovered for nearly a year.

 

But Vickers did that and more. The voluptuous blond with bedroom eyes appeared on television and Broadway and in minor movie roles until her career petered out in the 1970s.

 

And so when her mummified body was discovered by a neighbor in April in a home overgrown with ivy and littered with clothes, junk mail and letters, it rated a couple of newspaper stories and an obituary that listed no immediate survivors.

 

Click here to continue reading

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James Arness Obituary

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

 

 

 James Arness is best known for his role as Marshal Matt Dillon in ‘Gunsmoke,’ one of the longest-running prime-time series in network TV history. He was a towering symbol of frontier justice in the series that broke the mold for TV westerns.

 

By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
June 3, 2011

 

James Arness, the towering actor best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon, the strong and commanding symbol of frontier justice on the landmark TV western series “Gunsmoke,” died Friday. He was 88.

 

Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for James Arness

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