Archive for July, 2017

The 90th Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

“We Never Forget”

By Tracy Terhune

The Valentino Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, August 23, 2017. This year marks the 90th anniversary of this time-honored event. The Valentino Memorial Service is the oldest continuing annual event in Hollywood history!

To commemorate this historic anniversary, I am excited to announce that the Valentino Memorial Service will be broadcast LIVE over the internet via Facebook Live. This affords anyone, anywhere in the world to watch the Valentino Memorial Service live, in real time as it occurs. At the conclusion, the service will be viewable in a stored post on the “We Never Forget” Facebook group.

In addition to being broadcast live, we will be using a completely new sound system that we anticipate to vastly improve the sound problem that is inherited due to the marble hall where the service is held. We also will have our videos projected on a 10 foot by 12 foot screen.

Our guest speakers will include:

Terry Moore with James Dean in 1954.

 

Terry Moore – noted screen star will address the Memorial for the first time about Hollywood’s Golden Era and how Valentino paved the way for screen romance.

 

 

 

 

Joan Craig – Author of the book Theda Bara My Mentor will speak on her recollections of attending the Valentino Memorial as a young girl. The person who brought her to the Valentino Memorial was none other than Theda Bara!

 

 

 

 

Sylvia Valentino Huber (Pinterest)

 

 

Sylvia Valentino Huber – We are honored that Sylvia Valentino Huber, who’s grandfather was Valentino’s brother, will address the audience with thoughts from the family on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Memorial for her great uncle.

 

 

In addition to the listed speakers we will have some short video presentations, including a tribute to past participants in the Valentino Memorial Service through the years. There will also be poetry read from Daydreams and songs of reflection.

Please join us on August 23, 2017

The service starts promptly at 12:10pm

Located at:

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

6000 Santa Monica Blvd.

It is free, open to the public.

The Facebook Live streaming will start approximately at 12 noon.

 

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Clara Bow’s birthday

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Clara Bow (July 29, 1905, Brooklyn, New York)

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Clara Bow’s childhood home: 857 73rd Street, Brooklyn, New York

On the second floor of this unpretentious Brooklyn house, lived Clara Bows family in 1922. Clara Bow was then a school girl. Her father worked in Coney Island. Her mother was a bed-ridden invalid. The little red-head mailed a cheap postcard picture of herself to several motion picture magazines then conducting a contest. The winner was to be given a screen opportunity. Clara Bow won.

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Rudy Vallee’s birthday

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Rudy Vallee (July 28, 1901, Island Pond, Vermont)

 

Rudy Vallee’s childhood home in Westbrook, Maine–Then and Now (click on image to enlarge)

The Vallee home in Westbrook, Maine. Mrs. Vallee, Rudy’s mother, posed in front of the residence with Barney, his dog. Rudy’s room was kept ready, awaiting his home visits.

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Pre-Registration now open for Cinecon 53

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

RARE AND RESTORED FILMS RETURN TO THE BIG SCREEN AT HOLLYWOOD’S EGYPTIAN THEATER LABOR DAY WEEKEND:

Actor Norman Lloyd will be Honored with the Cinecon Legacy Award!

Full Festival Passes are available at the pre-registration price of $175 until August 15th. After that they will go up to $200. So it’s best to purchase them early. We are also offering Day Passes from $40-$50 (depending on the day). All announced titles are subject to final film clearances. Please visit www.cinecon.org for film titles, schedule updates, hotel information and more!

For more Cinecon Schedule and Information click HERE

To purchase early registration click HERE

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Peter Lorre’s birthday

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Peter Lorre (July 26, 1904, Rózsahegy, Austria-Hungary)

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Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel

Friday, July 21st, 2017

*This is a passage that never made it into my upcoming biography, Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel, to be published on January 5, 2018 by the University Press of Kentucky. Copies can be preordered at AMAZON.

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

In the summer of 1957, Miriam Hopkins was touring in the stage version of The Old Maid, her 1939 hit with Bette Davis. This time around, she played the title role, and her old friend and former Paramount star, Sylvia Sidney, played her cousin, Delia. For their entire careers, these two ladies had an on-again, off-again relationship. “Sylvia was also bigger than life,” recalled a mutual friend, “so you had these two former screen stars with lots of ego. Sylvia would recount stories of things that Miriam did, or did not do.

“Onetime, Miriam tried to thank Sylvia for something, so she sent over a half a case of champagne to Sylvia’s dressing room, which infuriated her because it was strange to only send half a case— ‘Why didn’t she send the whole case?’ Sylvia complained. But this was Miriam’s idiosyncrasies, about her life and everything else.”

Also in the play was Miriam’s niece, 23-year-old Margot Welch, who made her acting debut as Tina, the “old maid’s” illegitimate daughter. “I don’t remember much about The Old Maid, it was so long ago,” Margot recalled. “I got my part through Ben Starbach, a stage manager and a friend of Miriam’s and of Ron Rawson, who ran the John Drew Theatre. Ben had no children and took me under his wing when I started out. Mr. Rawson must have been shocked when I showed up for my audition. I have auburn hair, but he liked my reading and decided to take a chance on me. Both Ben and mom came up to cue Miriam as her part was huge. She’d been persuaded to take the Bette Davis role from the film, while Sylvia Sidney played her old part of Delia. Miriam also helped with the directing, so we hardly saw her.”

Miriam was eager for Margot to succeed, inundating her with advice, almost to distraction. The director had to step in and forbid Miriam from talking to her niece during rehearsals. Even so, when Margot was reciting her dialogue on stage, Miriam would stand in the wings and mouth her lines, which intimidated the young actress.

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A visit to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in 1930

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

mgm6

A short sixteen years earlier, in 1914, the land was a bare, sandy waste of land. In 1930, the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer studios were valued at $25,000,000.

In 1914 a real estate man sat in his office. He owned hundreds of acres of land on the outskirts of Los Angeles and was confronted with the problem of selling them. As it lay, that tract of land was far from pleasing to the eye which increased the problem of selling it.

Something had to be done to draw attention to the locations, to give it a glamour which would entice home-seekers. The real estate man decided to forget those acres for the afternoon and go to a movie. But as he was leaving he stopped—Movies! Motion pictures. A studio. Workmen would need land for homes.

Thomas Ince, then a big mogul in motion pictures, was called and offered the land to build a studio. Where?” Ince asked.

Culver City,” replied the real estate man.

So out to the sanded wastes went Thomas Ince. He built one rickety stage which passed for a studio and began making Western pictures. Ince’s once rickety stage had grown to be three large glassed-in studios. A few years later, Samuel Goldwyn, coming west, bought the works; stages, land and all that went with them. The romance of motion pictures and the studio which eventually became Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer were under way.

Under the Goldwyn regime at that studio Will Rogers first came to pictures. Also there was Pauline Frederick, who was one of the most beautiful actresses of her day. Helen Chadwick, Naomi Childers, Sydney Ainsworth, Madge Kennedy, Mabel Normand, Jack Pickford, Tom Moore and Geraldine Farrar, at that time the “Carmen” of them all. These and many more laughed and cried their way in and out of that old studio. Most are but faint memories today.

Rupert Hughes, Rex Beach, Gouverneur Morris, Gertrude Atherton—writers which in their day were as big as any in their game—all saw service at that old Goldwyn studio. It was a training ground for the best.

In 1924, Metro Studios and Louis B. Mayer joined hands with Goldwyn and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer organization and studio was born. It grew into a fairy city. .

There were twenty-two complete sound stages. Two of these were monstrous things of steel and concrete. One contained a complete theater, the largest hippodrome stage west of New York City, for theatrical spectacles in films. The stage in the theater was eighty feet long, eighty feet wide and eighty feet high. It had every modern device invented. This is what you see in MGM pictures whenever theatrical sequences are shown.

Another stage, the largest in existence, one hundred feet wide and two hundred and fifty feet long, was a steel and glass semi-enclosed building for extra large exterior scenes, such as those shown in The Trail of ’98. The rest were ordinary, huge steel and wood stages made soundproof by being lined with a composition. .

In these studios daily could be seen John Gilbert, Norma Shearer, William Haines, Marion Davies, Ramon Novarro, Greta Garbo, Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford and a host of less famous players who were battling their way to stardom.

A group of concrete buildings were to the left as you entered the main gate. The first three-story building was the one housing the executives. Irving Thalberg was one of them. Louis B. Mayer was another.

Next there was a three-story concrete wardrobe building. In it were tailor and dressmaking shops, designers’ offices and storage space for the more and 10,000 dresses and costumes MGM kept on hand ready for a moment’s call. With Adrian and David Cox designing them, and “Mother” Coulter supervising the making of them, some famous costumes and styles went out to the world from this building.

Just past the wardrobe was the publicity building and casting office. That small office was where so many came daily only to be told, “Sorry, nothing for you today.” Directly across from the publicity building was the commissary; a complete restaurant with dining room, lunch counters and soda fountain. It was run on a non-profit basis, being strictly for the convenience of the studio employees, the stars, extras, cameramen and directors. For years the minimum number of meals which were served there in any one day—except Sundays—was one thousand. And as many as seven thousand were fed in one day during heavy production. It was here that Louis B. Mayer entertained the entire studio at a turkey dinner each year during the Christmas holidays. Never had he had less than 2,500 guests. In addition, the commissary had its own ice and carbonating plant. .

Karl Dane and Gwen Lee point out the studios schedule.

Director’s Row was two stories and ran from one side of the commissary. Here sat Robert Leonard, Sam Wood, Jack Conway, Harry Beaumont and other directors. Around the corner was the fan-mail department. Seven clerks handled an average of 38,000 letters a month addressed to the stars. They were in reality a miniature post office staff, sorting the letters and seeing that each star gets his sack-full every day. It was these men who addressed and sent pictures of the players to those who requested them.

Strolling further about the fifty-three acre lot were stages back-to-back, stages stuck off in corners, and sets all over the place. There was a building for music and dance rehearsals; a recording building where the voices were recorded. Next a camera building and near it the projection rooms, where daily the “rushes” were viewed.

Nearby was the big electrical building. The MGM studio used 2,500,000 kilowatts of juice a year. It had a “connected load” of 35,000 horsepower—more than enough to light a city the size of Reno, Nevada. .

Bungalow of the Stars

Around the corner of a stage were bungalows which nestled into the ground and looked like dream houses. They belonged to the stars. Then the make-up department, a little schoolhouse for child actors and more sets.

More than 3,000,000 feet of lumber a year was used in building sets; 15,000 gallons of paint; 250 tons of plaster; 4,000 sacks of cement; 15,000 tons of rock; 600 bales of plaster fiber, and 300,000 feet of wallboard. These were for the building of sets only and did not include the materials used to build stages and buildings.

The telephone system at MGM was a 1200-unit central switchboard. It was more than enough to adequately serve a city of 3,000 people. .

mgm7

In 1930, out of the 120 buildings and its 2,500 employees, 50,000,000 feet of film was used for the output of motion pictures that was sent to theaters. In any event, it was a far cry from the dinky, rickety one stage that Thomas Ince first erected, to the ten thousand people who were on the lot at one time during the shooting of Ben-Hur (1926). In 1930, Culver City boasted 13,000 as her population. That real estate agent—Harry Culver—was now a multimillionaire.

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Lupe Velez birthday

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Lupe Velez (July 18, 1908, San Luis Potosi, Mexico)

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The life of Thomas Smith Robson; an adventurer, practical joker and low class Bohemian

Friday, July 14th, 2017

By Allan R. Ellenberger

Thomas Smith Robson, the scion of a great English family, was the son of Robert Robson, Esq., Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Emily Jane Snowden. His brother, William Snowden Robson, was an English lawyer, judge and liberal politician and a Member of Parliament. There was no similarity between these brothers: while Thomas was a jolly, roistering, and mad-cap fellow, his brother William was the personification of English respectability. Both brothers were born at 26 Eaton Square, a somber but eminently aristocratic square of London.

In his early life, Robson earned a PhD at Heidelberg, Oxford and other institutions. He was an expert chemist, man of letters, a thorough student of law, and an expert linguist of several European languages. Robson possessed a splendid physique, lived only at night, and slept during the day. When he wanted an evening alone, he would order a dozen quarts of Riesling wine, and drink the entire batch before the sun rose. He eventually became an embarrassment, dimming the dignity of his family traditions, and was sent on his way.

In 1890, he arrived in Denver with fourteen trunks and a desire to do something unusual. Accordingly, he took up with an infamous army officer whose only asset was his military title. Breaking ties with his family, he spent his last cent getting to Montreal, where he and the officer bluffed their way into the most fashionable hotel on the officer’s signature. From there, they became reporters on the Montreal Star until they were found out and were driven from the town.

Robson then went to Boston and was hired as a waiter in a 10-cent lodging house. Evidently this was not strenuous enough, so he hitch-hiked to Roxbury in mid-winter, eating only green apples for ten days. He then met a wealthy New Yorker, who attempted to make him a general agent of a big colonization scheme. However, Robson would rather starve than work for another man, so he became a stove tinker, making his way to Montana on a stock train. On the way, he was taken care of by an actor who owned a large stock farm; he promised to give Robson a good salaried job for as long as he wanted it. Five miles before reaching the farm, Robson changed his mind and jumped off the train; away from the actor permanently.

Robson traveled to Northern California and stirred up a band of Indians living on a reservation, to do wild deeds; he stayed with them for many months. His next stop was San Francisco, but he remained there only a short time. In 1896, he jumped on a train for Los Angeles. There he met J.R. Carson, who ran the Old Curiosity Shop on North Main Street, Carson persuaded Robson to write home to his family. He did, and discovered that his father was dead, and that he and his brother shared the estate. He was not interested in money except for the good he could do with it, and the trouble he could stir up.

With his inheritance, he booked a suite at the Van Nuys Hotel, but then he rented a 25-cent room in a lodging house where he would sleep. He made a bet with friends that he could escort one of the most notorious women in the city to one of the best hotels. He won his bet by bribing the clerk with a hatful of money. A quick trip to San Francisco followed, and there he sent out invitations to his former cohorts, a collection of loafers and loungers that he treated to a royal banquet at the Poodle Dog, San Francisco’s first and most famous French restaurant. On the way back to his apartment, he lay down in a mud puddle in his evening clothes, defied the police and stopped traffic. A wrecking car crew, and a wagon load of officers put him to bed.

Returning to Los Angeles, Robson found that a sewer trench was open on Main Street, and as a practical joke, he hired a gang of men to fill it up in the middle of the night. Then he engaged several undertakers, and had horses and lines of funeral coaches sit outside a friend’s house all day. Another time, about a hundred boys rushed into a busy drug store in response to a fake advertisement Robson had enlisted in the newspaper.

Finally, bored with his antics, he started for England. Stopping at New York, he bought a hand organ and a monkey from an Italian street musician, and performed up and down Fifth Avenue until he was arrested and put in jail. In Paris, he threw gold around the streets, and gave away money to every homeless person he could find. One day, when someone gave him a bad Franc, he became angry. So to show his disdain, he emptied all his money down a sewer and was left penniless. Once he replenished his supply of money, he attempted a “scientific demonstration” of the insidious effects of constant absinthe drinking, and informed his friends that he was now engaged in a work that would benefit humanity. This experiment resulted in his being locked up in a private asylum.

Going to London, his brother William was not pleased to see him; his antics were not those of a dignified Member of Parliament. But Robson was offended by a speech his brother made, so he left for Venice. There, he tried to organize the gondoliers into two factions; soon they were insulting and fighting each other before fleeing in the middle of the night. Returning to Paris, he remained there for a year or two.

Finally, he returned to Los Angeles. He was in ill health and asked Benjamin Balmer for help. Balmer took him into his home and cared for him. Robson allegedly settled down except for an occasional night of his own when he would lock himself in his room and drink. However, he kept clear of trouble and the police.

Balmer claimed that Robson had unclean habits and was frequently intoxicated. In spite of this, Robson was well cared for by the Balmer family, and Mrs. Balmer would serve as a nurse for him. For the last two years of his life, he was a broken man and scarcely able to help himself. On January 12, 1904, Thomas Smith Robson died at the Balmer home at 465 Bixel Street. He was 49 years old.

Robson’s body was buried in the Chandler Gardens section at what is now Hollywood Forever Cemetery. A large granite cross was placed on his grave.

The inscription:

“Sacred to the Memory of Thomas Smith Robson PhD (Heid) Youngest Son of R. Robson Esq. J.P. of New Castle Upon Tyne England. He Died at Los Angeles on 12th January 1904 Aged 49 Years. The Dead Shall Be Raised Incorruptible And We Shall All Be Changed.”

Robson left a considerable estate valued at about $50,000 in England, personal property in California amounting to $9,490 and real estate valued at $3,450. Robson left his entire estate to his brother William in England. William hired an administrator in San Francisco to handle his brother’s estate. For the care and attention that the Balmer’s gave Robson, they asked for $4,000 from the administrator, and when they were refused, they brought suit. As a reward for his kindness toward Robson, Balmer was allowed $2,400 by the judge.

William Snowden Robson (1852-1918)

Note: Robson’s brother, William Snowdon Robson (1852-1918) was a Member of Parliament between 1885 and 1886. Robson married Catharine Burge, daughter of Charles Burge, of Portland Place, London in 1887. He was invested as a Queen’s Counsel in 1892. He again held the office of Member of Parliament between 1895 and 1910. In 1905, he was knighted and was appointed to the Privy Council. He was Solicitor General for England and Wales from 1905 to 1908, and Attorney General for England and Wales from 1908 to 1910 when he was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and a life peer with the title Baron Robson, of Jesmond in the County of Northumberland. He resigned as Lord of Appeal two years later. William Snowdon Robson died aged 66, at Telham Court, Battle, Sussex. In available biographies, there is no mention of his younger brother, Thomas Smith Robson.

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Richard Dix

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Richard Dix (1893-1949)

 

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