Archive for September, 2012

Andy Williams Obituary

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

OBITUARY

Andy Williams, ‘Moon River’ singer, dies at 84

 

 

 

Andy Williams parlayed his silky voice and casual style into a long career as a hit recording artist, star of an Emmy-winning TV show and live performer.

 

By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
September 26, 2012

 

Andy Williams, whose soothing baritone and relaxed performing style made him one of America’s top pop vocalists and a popular TV variety-show host in the 1960s when he recorded hits such as “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses,” has died. He was 84.

 

Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Andy Williams

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Space Shuttle Endeavor flies over Hollywood

Friday, September 21st, 2012

HOLLYWOOD NEWS

Hollywood welcomes the Space Shuttle Endeavor

 

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

 

The Space Shuttle Endeavour atop a modified 747 passes the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory as seen from Dodger Stadium, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, in Los Angeles. Endeavour will be permanently displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. 

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Universal Studios, the Laemmle years, 1912-1936…

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

FILM HISTORY

Universal Studios, the Laemmle years, 1912—1936…      

 

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

The 100th anniversary of Universal Studios was celebrated this year (April 30) thus making it the first of the major Hollywood studios to achieve that impressive longevity. The story of Universal, especially the years of Carl Laemmle’s control, is typical of the industry and carries a recognizable theme that reverberates through all American business successes.

 

 

 

 

When Carl Laemmle arrived in New York at 17 years-old, he had $50 and a telescope valise packed with only a few personal items from his home in Laupheim, Germany. From there he headed west like many other immigrants and found odd jobs in stores, factories, working as a farm hand in South Dakota, as a bookkeeper in Chicago and as the general manager of a department store in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Twenty-two years later, Laemmle had saved a capital of $2,500 and started on his next venture.

 

Laemmle had returned to Chicago where he waited in line for the new sensation, the motion picture shows, which was shown in a store converted to resemble the interior of a railroad coach; the motion picture representing scenery was viewed from the rear of a train. Laemmle was astonished at the long line of people willing to pay a dime for this privilege and envisioned the possibility for a new money-making opportunity.

 

With the assistance of R. H. Cochrane, a young Chicago advertising man, they acquired a store on Milwaukee Avenue where he opened the White Front Theater on February 24, 1906 (it had been the White Front store and the sign served as a name for the theater). It was on a Saturday night and he gave patrons fifteen minutes of movies and a song with beautifully colored slides. On Sunday he ran twenty shows. At five cents a head his gross for the two days was $192.05. That was the beginning of a long association with Cochrane who later became a vice-president of Universal.

 

A second theater was soon opened and from that point Laemmle entered all branches of the rapidly expanding motion picture industry. This new success brought him into conflict with the larger interests in the industry. After breaking with the Patents Company, which owned most of the patents on cameras, projectors, etc. he announced he would produce his own films. The Independent Moving Picture (IMP) Company was formed. Its first film, Hiawatha, was released in October 1909. IMP has been given the credit for introducing the star system to Hollywood, when it signed the Biograph Girl, Florence Lawrence, and billed her name above the title of her pictures in 1910. Over the next three years Laemmle battled Edison’s motion picture trust which was followed by a federal investigation, leading to the termination of the General Film Company.

 

The Universal Film Manufacturing Company was founded on April 30, 1912, and was composed of six of the leading independent producers. The name Universal was given, according to Hollywood legend, when Laemmle was presiding over a pretentious gathering of independent film producers in his office overlooking Union Square to decide upon a name. After glancing out the window at the Broadway traffic, with the usual flourishes, gave the designation—Universal. He had seen the name, it is said, on a delivery wagon marked “Universal Pipe Fittings.”

 

Following other film producers, by the end of 1912, Universal was making most of its films in Hollywood on the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower. During the first year of the studio’s operation, 250 films were produced, mostly two-reelers.

 

As Laemmle and Universal prospered, he purchased a former chicken farm, the 230-acre Taylor ranch on the banks of the Los Angeles River five miles north of Hollywood. The land was part of the ancient Rancho Cahuenga de Ramirez and on the property where General John C. Fremont and Pio Pico signed the Treaty of Cahuenga.  

 

 

 

 

Formal dedication of the studio on March 14, 1915, was an affair heralded by posters in railway stations throughout the country. Exhibitors were brought here by special trains to witness the ceremony. Laura Oakley, Universal City’s female police chief, presented Laemmle with a golden key and he officially unlocked the huge front gate of the studio as bands played. Flags were unfurled and a cheering crowd of 20,000 jammed Lankershim Blvd.  

 

 

 

Carl Laemmle and friends at the opening of Universal City in March 1915

 

Universal City came into existence and the studio was created as a small city with a population of nearly 300, with its own post office, fire department and police department. Children have been born on the lot and men and women have died there. Virginia Richdale Kerrigan, the daughter of William W. Kerrigan, one-time manager of Universal and the twin brother of actor J. Warren Kerrigan, had the distinction of being the first baby born on the Universal lot in 1915. Tragically only nine years later, Virginia’s dress caught fire at a Christmas gathering and she died from her burns.

 

Many of the 300 Universal employees lived in houses on the lot when the studio was opened in 1915. Some merely converted sets into practical living quarters and others just camped. Most of the actors had horses, for Universal was the home of the Western, which provided the studios bread-and-butter in the first two decades. The players with horses carried saddle bags in which were stuffed two uniforms. Sometimes they would appear in the mornings as Indians and after lunch, once the Indians were defeated by the cowboys, they would switch costumes and chase the images of themselves.

 

 

 

The above and following two photos were taken on a visit to Universal Studios in 1916 (Courtesy of Allan Landman / © Hollywoodland 2012)

 

 (Courtesy of Allan Landman / © Hollywoodland 2012)

 

 (Courtesy of Allan Landman / © Hollywoodland 2012)

 

One day in 1916, Harry Carey, one of Universal’s early western star attractions, was leading a bunch of cowhands down Broadway when the whole group tired of the script. Just for fun, and the undying mortification of the city’s budding social set, Carey and his dusty mounted troupe, rode up the steps and into the lobby of the stylish Alexandria Hotel.

 

Many stories of early Universal were based on nepotism, for there it thrived. Several Laemmles changed their names so that strangers wouldn’t get the impression they were there only because they were related. Some made good, others did not. But Uncle Carl, as he was known in the industry, never fired one of them. Ogden Nash, the poet, said the following about Laemmle’s habit of giving top executive jobs to family members: “Uncle Carl Laemmle has a very large faemmle.”

 

Laemmle’s greatest pride was for his son, Carl Laemmle, Jr., who was originally named Julius after his grandfather in Germany. But when the senior Laemmle made him general manager of Universal on his twenty-first birthday, Julius became Junior.

 

Something else that Laemmle loved was gambling. High-stakes poker games with such cronies as Joseph Schenck and Sid Grauman would last all night and when the local action slowed a bit, Laemmle thought nothing of taking quick trips to Agua Caliente, the Mexican forerunner of Las Vegas. One night he lost $10,000 there. In one weekend, he lost three times that.

 

Universal Studios was the site of a number of industry firsts—Laemmle established the first European exchange for independent American films; he built the first electrically lighted stages so he would not have to depend on sunlight, and produced the first $1,000,000 feature, Foolish Wives (1922), directed by Erich von Stroheim, who the studio billed as “the man you love to hate.”

 

Many famous names in Hollywood history served at one time or another on the Universal lot. On it Charlie Chaplin courted Mildred Harris and Wallace Reid won Dorothy Davenport. John Ford and William Wyler (a Laemmle family member) received their early training at the studio—on Harry Carey westerns and farces with Laura La Plante. Such films as Phantom of the Opera (1925) and Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), both with Lon Chaney; Showboat (1929 and 1936) and the Academy Award winner, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) were made there. The studio launched the comedies of the 1930s with My Man Godfrey (1936) and introduced Deanna Durbin as a 14-year-old singer in her first great success, Three Smart Girls (1936). The studio also produced such classic soap operas as Magnificent Obsession (1936), Back Street (1932) and Imitation of Life (1934), the same titles that turned out to be box-office hits in the 1950s in remakes refurbished with color. And of course, there are the famed monster films which include Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933).

 

 

 

 

All studios were famous for their publicity stunts, but one at Universal had repercussions for many years to come. For the film, The Black Cat (1934), an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story, the studio advertised a county-wide contest for a cat to play the title role. Every child in town showed up. By the time the pre-selected winner was announced, cats were loose everywhere. Few chose to return home, and for decades (and possibly to this day) the studio lot teemed with their descendants.

 

 

 

Cast of Show Boat–Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, Charles Winninger and Helen Westley

 

The Laemmle era came to an end in 1936 when the studio produced a lavish remake of Show Boat, featuring several stars from the Broadway stage version. Carl Jr.’s disturbing spending habits, the studios attempts at high-quality productions and the costs of modernizing and upgrading during the depression brought about their decline and being placed into receivership. Stockholders demanded that the Laemmle’s take out a loan from Standard Capital Corporation to make Show Boat, using the family’s controlling interest as collateral. When production problems created a huge overrun, the loan was called in and Universal could not pay. Standard foreclosed and seized control of Universal. Ironically when Show Boat was released it was a financial success but it was not enough to save the Laemmles who were forced to leave the studio on April 2, 1936. Carl Laemmle died three years later at the age of 72.

 

Despite low periods in its history, Universal Studios has survived. Over the past seventy-plus years Universal has had several owners and name variations. It is the debris from the Laemmle years, 1912 to 1936, that saw hundreds of films made on the 230 (and eventually 410) acres and that form most of Universal today. It doesn’t look much like a chicken farm any more.

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Rest in Peace, Sid Grauman…

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

BREAKING NEWS

Rest in Peace, Sid Grauman…

 

 

Chinese Theatre impresario Sid Grauman (left) with true Hollywood greats, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg

 

Late last night emergency personnel were called to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale where loud noises, banging and crying were heard emanating from the Sanctuary of Benediction corridor of the Great Mausoleum.  After a brief investigation, workmen discovered the sounds were coming from the crypt of Sid Grauman, the builder of Hollywood’s Egyptian and Chinese Theatres. Evidently the great showman was turning over in his grave after the cast of the X-Factor–Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato, left their handprints in cement at the forecourt of the legendary Chinese Theater. This once honored Hollywood tradition, which in the past has been reserved for the greats of film history (need it be mentioned the film hits of Cowell, Spears, Reid & Lovato??), last night was finally put out of its misery. While choices in the recent past have been questionable, one can only wonder who is next–the Kardashians? Rest in peace, Sid Grauman.

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The Godfather 40th Anniversary at the Chinese Theatre

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

GRAUMAN’S CHINESE THEATRE

40th Anniversary Screening of “The Godfather” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

 

 

Made for $6 Million, It’s Grossed $250 Million

 

“Here’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse:” 25 Cent Movie

 

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Monday, September 10, 2012

8PM

 

Come early to visit refurbished forecourt tablets of Duvall, Pacino, and More!

 

ONE NIGHT ONLY:  PIZZA CART IN FORECOURT SERVING “CORLEONE PIZZA”!

 

TICKETS can be had at: www.chinesetheatres.com

 

 

Hollywood, Calif. – Sept. 10, 2012–In a 40th Anniversary salute to a Hollywood classic, The Godfather, Grauman’s Chinese will screen the film at 8PM on Monday, September 10 for 25 cents a ticket.

 

Come early to visit refurbished forecourt tablets of Duvall, Pacino, and More!

(Forecourt event: 7PM, 25 cent ticket “THE GODFATHER” screening at 8PM)

 

The 25 cent screening is part of Grauman’s ongoing 85th anniversary celebration, when tickets cost a quarter.  

 

“It was clear, even when the movie opened in 1972, that Coppola had created a landmark in American cinema. It remains the high point of his career,” wrote The San Francisco Chronicle.

 

“What we couldn’t see then was how wide the film’s influence would spread. There’s barely a gangster movie, a family epic or a movie about Italian Americans that doesn’t inevitably use “The Godfather” as a frame of reference. It’s more than a standard-bearer for critics and filmmakers — it’s a monument.”

 

 

About the Chinese Theatres

Since 1927, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre has been the home of the most important, star powered red carpet movie premieres and special events, where Hollywood’s biggest and brightest talents have come to watch their movies.  The most famous movie theatre on the globe is world-renowned for its unique forecourt of the stars, featuring cement hand and footprints of major movie stars, from Marilyn Monroe to Brad Pitt, and numerous stars from all eras of Hollywood.  In addition to being a major international tourist destination, The Chinese Theatre, and its six adjacent cinemas, the Chinese 6, are everyday working movie theatres, hosting millions of moviegoers year round.   

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Candids from Cinecon 48!

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

FESTIVALS

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Cinecon 48 is history! The annual festival began last Thursday and ended yesterday and over the course of five days screened 43 classic films, shorts and documentaries at the legendary Egyptian Theater. Among the films shown were such rare gems as 15 Maiden Lane (1936) starring Claire Trevor and Caesar Romero and directed by Allan Dwan; the silent, Wild Bill Hickcok (1923) played by Cinecon favorite, William S. Hart; the crowd pleasing bio-pic, Diamond Jim (1935), the story of James Buchanan Brady, fondly known as “Diamond Jim,” starring Edward Arnold in the title role and Jean Arthur in a supporting role.

 

Other highlights included The Goose Woman (1925), The Bedroom Window (1924), and the Kate Smith film, Hello, Everybody! (1933). Some of my favorites include Diamond Jim, Upstream (1927), the once-lost John Ford film about vaudevillians starring Raymond Hitchcock and Grant Withers, the Cecil B. DeMille scenario, The Circus Man (1914), She Wanted a Millionaire (1932) with Joan Bennett and Spencer Tracy and the documentary about the Silent Movie Theatre, Palace of Silents.

 

Some of the special guests who appreared this year and talked about their filmes were Marsha Hunt, Phyllis Coates, Richard L. Bare, Samantha Eggar and Carleton Carpenter.

 

Phyllis Coates, Richard L. Bare and Carleton Carpenter were honored at this years Cinecon banquet with the Career Acheivement award. Carpenter was presented with his award by his Two Weeks With Love (1950) costar, Debbie Reynolds. The couple sang their hit song from the film, Aba Daba Honeymoon to a very appreciative audience. Jack Larson, best-known as Jimmy Olsen on TV’s Superman, presented his former costar, Phyllis Coates with her award. Coates played Lois Lane on the series first season. Director Richard L. Bare, who directed such classic television shows as Green Acres, Petticoat Junction and several episodes of the Twilight Zone was given his award by Linda Henning who played Betty Jo on Petticoat Junction.

 

There was a great selection of films shown at this year’s Cinecon and the banquet was one of the most entertaining in recent years. Many thanks to the Cinecon officers and committee: Robert S. Birchard, Jim Harwood, Marvin Paige, Stan Taffel, Sharon Arndt, Bryan Cooper, Stella Grace, Sue Guldin, Danny Schwartz and Maureen Solomon.

 

A personal thanks to volunteer coordinator Stella Grace and her group of volunteers which included Woolsey Ackerman, Nick Beck, Vivienne Benjamin, Amy Bowker, Paul & Kristina Bunnell, Annette Bursteen, Michael Cable, Rancen Collins, Sandy Dubois, Allan Ellenberger, Joan Engberg, Isabel Falck, Allison Francis, Sue Garland, Bill Goodwin, Sue Guldin, Mary Mallory, Ludmilla & HarryMartinez, Charlie McCollister, Ann McFerrin, Oriana Nudo, Betty Petit, Jane Reed, Robert Richard, Ronn & Carol Roe, Susan Shapiro, Ruth Silney, Norman Triplett, Laura Wegter, Rex Wegter, Rachel Wegter and Tyler, Seth Wegter and Mary Zickefoose.

 

See you at Cinecon 49 on Labor Day weekend, 2013!

 

Following are some candid photos from this past weekend, mostly from the banquet (Photos by Allan R. Ellenberger):

 

 

 

Volunteers Allison Francis and Robert Richard (left) help veteran Cinecon

attendee, Sharon Schwartz at Loew’s Hollywood Hotel on Highland Avenue.

 

 

 

 

Crowd gathers for the Cinecon banquet (recognize anyone?)

 

 

 

Cinecon president, Robert S. Birchard opened the banquet

 

 

 

Actresses France Nuyen and Colleen Gray

 

 

 

Former Superman costars, Phyllis Coates (Lois Lane) and Jack Larsen

(Jimmy Olsen) meet prior to the banquet. Author Anthony Slide is looking on.

 

 

 

 

Cinecon officer and banquet emcee, Stan Taffel greets Mary Ellen Dix,

wife of actor Bob Dix (son of Richard Dix)

 

 

 

Actress Linda Henning introduced director and honoree Richard L. Bare

 

 

 

Cinecon honorees, Richard L. Bare and Phyllis Coates. Bare and Coates were once husband and wife for less than ten months (1948-1949). At one point Bare asked her about their marriage and she held her thumb and index finger about an inch apart and said, “It lasted this long… but it was interesting.”

 

 

 

 

 Jack Larsen introduced honoree Phyllis Coates

 

 

 

 The legendary Debbie Reynolds introduced her former costar

and Cinecon honoree, Carleton Carpenter

 

 

 

 

Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter entertain the

audience with a rendition of “Aba Dabba Honeymoon”

 

 

 

Debbie Reynolds and Jack Larsen

 

 

 

Debbie Reynolds, Cinecon committe member, Bryan Cooper

and Carleton Carpenter

 

 

 

Mary Ellen Dix and Richard Anderson

 

 

 

Carla Laemmle, neice of Universal founder Carl Laemmle

 

 

 

Miriam Nelson and Barbara Hale who played Della Street on Perry Mason

 

 

 

Julie Newmar of Catwoman fame talks to a fan

 

 

 

Jane Withers chats with Marsha Hunt

 

 

 

Cinecon committee members, Sue Guldin and Stella Grace

 

 

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Michael Clarke Duncan Obituary

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

OBITUARY

Michael Clarke Duncan dies; Oscar-nominated ‘Green Mile’ star was 54

 

 

Michael Clarke Duncan was a gas company ditch digger in Chicago who followed his dream of acting to Hollywood. The massively built actor played a gentle death row inmate in the 1999 prison drama.

 

By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times
September 3, 2012

 

Michael Clarke Duncan, the tall and massively built actor with the shaved head and deep voice who received an Academy Award nomination for his moving portrayal of a gentle death row inmate in the 1999 prison drama “The Green Mile,” died Monday. He was 54.

 

Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Michael Clarke Duncan

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