Archive for the ‘Book/Film News’ Category

Miriam Hopkins review by Leonard Maltin

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

MIRIAM HOPKINS: LIFE AND FILMS OF A HOLLYWOOD REBEL

by Allan R. Ellenberger (University Press of Kentucky)

“A compelling actress who was equally at home in heavy dramas and sophisticated comedies, Miriam Hopkins is due for rediscovery and this book may serve as a linchpin. Author Ellenberger had the cooperation of the actress’ daughter, son-in-law and grandson as well as many friends and colleagues—not to mention a 100-page file maintained by the FBI. Her friend Tennessee Williams referred to her as “a magnificent bitch,” a role she seemed to relish when pitted against her supposed rival Bette Davis in Old Acquaintance. With pages of sources to verify his extensive research, Ellenberger has tried to bring the public and private Miriam Hopkins to life in this welcome biography.”Leonard Maltin

 

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Spend eternity near Rudolph Valentino

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

ATTENTION Rudolph Valentino fans. Anyone desiring to spend eternity near their favorite silent film idol, an opportunity has opened up for an empty crypt just two rows from The Sheik at Hollywood Forever Cemetery that is for sale by the owner.

Available crypt for sale just two columns over (click on image to enlarge)

There probably will never be another opportunity to get this close to Valentino as most (if not all) full crypts in the Cathedral Mausoleum are taken.

Serious-inquiries-only can contact me for the telephone number, or you can stop by Valentino’s crypt to get it.

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Robert Coogan and Maurice Chevalier

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Robert Coogan and Maurice Chevalier

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Miriam Hopkins: Belle on wheels

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Miriam Hopkins: Belle on wheels

By Mark Burger (Yes!Weekly)

MIRIAM HOPKINS: LIFE AND FILMS OF A HOLLYWOOD REBEL by Allan R. Ellenberger. Published by University Press of Kentucky. 424 pages. $45 retail.

University Press of Kentucky’s stellar string of show-biz biographies – which have included such recent releases as Cynthia and Sara Brideson’s He’s Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly and Alan K. Rode’s Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film – continues with Allan R. Ellenberger’s Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel, the first full-length volume devoted to the actress, as much remembered for such films as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1932) and Old Acquaintance (1943), as her reputation – which preceded her, was not particularly positive, and was so well-known that the Harvard Lampoon once selected her as being “least desirable companion on a desert island.”

Call Hopkins a diva, a grande dame, or worse – and many did – this dyed-in-the-wool Southern belle (born in Savannah, no less) was no shrinking violet. Her frequent demands to producers and screenwriters to enhance (i.e. enlarge) her characters famously cost her the role that won Claudette Colbert an Oscar in It Happened One Night (1934). Despite a good relationship with filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch, Jack Benny took it upon himself to convince producer Alexander Korda to instead hire Carole Lombard for To Be or Not to Be (1942), a resounding flop in its day but now considered a classic. Quite simply, Benny didn’t want to deal with Hopkins.

Once on the set, whether by concession or contractual obligation, Hopkins boasted an arsenal of tricks to flummox or upstage her fellow actors. Some, such as Joel McCrea (with whom she made five films and had a good rapport), took it in stride. Filmmakers Lubitsch, William Wyler (These Three) and Rouben Mamoulian (Jekyll and Hyde, Becky Sharp) sung her praises, as well.

Others, such as Edward G. Robinson (Barbary Coast), most definitely did not. On Jekyll and Hyde, in which Hopkins played the sultry barmaid Ivy, she repeatedly infuriated co-star Fredric March, who was playing both title roles, because she constantly tried to dominate their scenes. (March, however, could console himself with the Oscar he’d win for his performance.)

Ironically, some years later Hopkins and Robinson would share an unfortunate brush with the Hollywood Blacklist, although it didn’t hurt her career as much as his.

In Bette Davis, however, Hopkins met her match. Never mind Bette Davis and Joan Crawford; the real feud was Davis and Hopkins. That both were bypassed for the role of Scarlett O’Hara was perhaps the only instance in which they were simpatico (Hopkins, being a native Southerner, thought she had an edge on the role). Hopkins had starred in Owen Davis’ drama Jezebel on stage in 1933 and expected to reprise the role onscreen. She didn’t, Davis did, and won an Oscar.

They made two films together, The Old Maid (1939) and Old Acquaintance, and on both the battle lines were drawn early. They didn’t so much co-star as collide, with respective directors Edmund Goulding and Vincent Sherman acting as de-facto referees. In her later years, Davis took great delight in recounting how, during a performance of her one-woman show on the day Hopkins died, she said: “God has been good to us. He’s taken Miriam Hopkins.”

That few in the audience even remembered Hopkins was, undoubtedly, a further delight for Davis.

Perhaps that was a catalyst for author Ellenberger, who provides a well-written and well-researched account of Hopkins’ sometimes triumphant, sometimes troubled life. This is no hatchet job. The book is dedicated to Hopkins’ only child Michael and Michael’s wife Christiane (both deceased), and it’s clear that they opened the proverbial vault, providing Ellenberger – and the readers – with a clearer insight into Hopkins’ life, which included a contentious relationship with her mother Ellen and, oddly enough, a firm belief in astrology and mysticism. It’s no exaggeration to say that Hopkins would consult psychic before making important decisions. It’s also no exaggeration to say that she was wildly incorrect in some instances.

Despite being blessed with beauty, determination and talent, Hopkins’s career was undoubtedly curtailed by her behavior, yet in interviews, she always remained circumspect. Such behind-the-scenes gossip was not meant for public consumption, as she deemed it.

Ellenberger, whose specialty is vintage cinema – he co-authored The Valentino Mystique: The Death and Afterlife of the Silent Film Idol (2005) with Edoardo Ballerini and went solo with Margaret O’Brien: A Career Chronicle (2013) – evinces a clear affection and respect for Hopkins, and no small measure of sympathy. She was clearly a difficult woman and temperamental actress, and career-wise she was frequently her own worst enemy, but that doesn’t diminish the work. Hers was a fascinating life and career, and it’s all to be found in the pages of Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel.

Click HERE to read the review on Yes!Weekly website.

The official University Press of Kentucky website is kentuckypress.com.

See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2018, Mark Burger.

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Serge Oukrainsky, choreographer and protégé of Anna Pavlova

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Serge Oukrainsky was born Leonide Orlay de Carva on December 2, 1885, in Odessa, Russia. Oukrainsky was educated in Paris and began his stage career in 1911 as a mime at the Theatre de Chatelet’s French Musical Festival. He arrived in the United States two years later with Anna Pavlova’s company, and remained with that troupe as a soloist and Pavlova’s partner until 1915, subsequent to her historic break with Michael Mordkin. In 1940, Oukrainsky authored “My Two Years with Anna Pavlova,” a memoir of the dancer’s latter career.

Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet trunk (1920s) Serge Oukrainsky Collection, Museum of Performance (click image to enlarge)

Andreas Pavley, Anna Ludmila, and Serge Oukrainsky, c. 1920. Source: Newberry Library (Barzel Collection)

He moved to Chicago, where he was the leading dancer, and director of the Chicago Opera Ballet until 1927. At the same time, with Andreas Pavley, he established the Pavley-Oukrainsky School of Ballet, which affiliated with the opera during Mary Garden’s reign as prima diva.

The Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet toured extensively in the United States, Mexico, Cuba and South America. In July 1931, Pavley died mysteriously when he plunged from the sixteenth floor of Chicago’s McCormick Hotel. Reportedly he had financial reverses and was unable to meet a blackmailer’s extortion demand for $100. Police claimed it was a suicide, but Oukrainsky and other friends insisted it was an accident. After Pavley’s death, he formed the Serge Oukrainsky Ballet.

In 1927, Oukrainsky moved to California where, until 1931, he served as the ballet master of the San Francisco and Los Angeles operas. He was the choreographer for the Hollywood Bowl and several films; in 1934, he taught ballet in Hollywood. He had been in semiretirement for several years when Oukrainsky died after a long illness on November 1, 1972 at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. He was interred in the mid-southern part of Chandler Gardens (Section 12) at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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Margaret O’Brien’s Stolen Oscar

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Margaret O’Brien, on stage at Grauman’s Chinese Theater receiving her juvenile Academy Award for Meet Me in St. Louis

Oscar. The Academy Award. Regardless of its name, it evokes the same emotion of respect for those who have been fortunate enough to receive one. And for those lucky ones, whether deserved or not, it is the brass ring, the ultimate in praise from their peers.

And so it was for little eight-year-old Margaret O’Brien, arguably the most talented of all the child stars of her day – or since – who received the coveted award for most outstanding child actress of 1944 for her performance in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The special Oscar, which was a miniature version of the acclaimed award, was given sporadically in the 1930s and 1940s. Previous winners included Mickey Rooney, Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland, who was Margaret’s co-star that year.

Robert Young and Margaret O’Brien in Journey for Margaret

Born Angela Maxine O’Brien, Margaret’s rise to fame was meteoric. When her photograph was seen on a magazine cover, a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executive signed her for a one-line scene in Babes on Broadway (1941). The powers-that-be at MGM saw the four-year-old’s raw talent and cast her with Robert Young in a war-time drama called Journey for Margaret (1942), from which she took her stage name. Small parts in three films followed until her starring role in Lost Angel, (1944) which was the first film written specifically for her.

At the request of director Vincent Minnelli, the studio cast her in the role of Tootie Smith in their new Technicolor musical, Meet Me in St. Louis. MGM had big hopes for this film and spent an astronomical $100,000 to build the St. Louis street on their back lot. Besides Margaret, the film included Judy Garland, Lucille Bremmer and Mary Astor, and introduced such musical standards as “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and the holiday classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which Garland sang to Margaret.

When the film was released near the end of 1944, critics across the country praised her performance. The Hollywood Reporter claimed that she was the hottest thing on the MGM roster.

“Hers is a great talent,” the Reporter continued, “as distinctly outstanding as the greatest stars we have. The O’Brien appeal is based on her naturalness. She’s all America’s child, the type every person in an audience wants to take into his arms.”

But it wasn’t only America that raved. In London, the film was the biggest hit that city had seen in months. The Daily Express prophetically declared, “Her quiet, compelling acting, worthy of an Academy Award, steals the show.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shared that opinion and awarded her a Special Oscar for the Most Outstanding Child Actress of 1944. At the ceremony, which was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on March 15, 1945, Margaret was given her Oscar by director Mervyn LeRoy.

The emcee for the evening, comedian Bob Hope, lifted Margaret to the microphone so she could be heard by the listening radio audience.

“Will you hurry up and grow up, please?” Hope said as he struggled with the young winner.

As LeRoy handed her the Oscar, he said, “To the best young actress of the whole year of 1944. Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” she replied. I really don’t know what to say. Thank you very much.”

However, she did know what to say. Her mother had written her an acceptance speech, but at the last-minute Margaret decided to improvise her very own thank you to the Academy.

Margaret O’Brien and her mother Gladys at the footprints ceremony in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater

During her career, Margaret O’Brien was bestowed with many awards and accolades, including the honor of placing her hands and footprints in cement in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese, but the Oscar would be her most prized and valued possession. Unfortunately, the little statuette would not stay around for long.

At the O’Brien home on Beverly Drive, Margaret had a separate room for her awards. One day in 1958, their maid took the Oscar and several other awards to her home to polish – a practice she did on several occasions. After three days, the maid failed to return so Mrs. O’Brien dismissed her and asked that she return the awards.

Not long after, Mrs. O’Brien, who was not in good health, suffered a relapse and died. Grief stricken, Margaret forgot about the maid and her Oscar until several months later when she tried to contact her, only to find that her phone was disconnected. The maid had moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Margaret considered the Oscar was gone forever. A few years later, the Academy graciously replaced the award with a substitute, but it was not the same.

Over the next thirty years, Margaret attended memorabilia shows searching for her lost Oscar. Then, in early 1995, a friend saw her Oscar in a an upcoming memorabilia auction catalogue. Margaret contacted the Academy’s legal department and they acted swiftly to have the Oscar returned.

Margaret O’Brien with her stolen Oscar that was returned to her by the Academy, and me in my younger days (no I’m not drunk it’s just one-of-those-pics) Michael Schwibs photo.

On February 7, 1995, nearly fifty years after receiving it, the Academy returned the stolen Oscar to O’Brien in a special ceremony at their Beverly Hills offices. Margaret told those attending:

“For all those people who have lost or misplaced something that was dear to them, as I have, never give up the dream of searching – never let go of the hope that you’ll find it because after all these many years, at last, my Oscar has been returned to me.”

 

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Historic fires at Universal Studios

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

A fixture in Hollywood for decades, the backlot is primarily designed to let filmmakers shoot New York, London, Paris and other places without having to leave Los Angeles. At Universal Studios, visitors can catch a view of the four acres of backlot on Universal’s behind-the-scenes studio tours by tram. The New York Street, which consists of 13 city blocks of buildings, have been the setting of commercials, television shows and feature films.

All the major studios have had fires at one time or another, but Universal seems to have had more than their fair share. What follows is a brief history of fires at Universal Studios over the years.

March 25, 1913

Universal fire at Gower and Sunset location. (click on image to enlarge)

Before Universal moved to their present location, they were at Gower Street and Sunset Boulevard. Early in the morning, the studio was destroyed by a fire that began in the film storehouse and was believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion.

Several outdoor stages, dressing rooms, outbuildings, offices, the scenery storeroom and other buildings, all made of wood, were burned to the ground. For a time, the Hollywood branch office of the Sunset Telephone Company, and near-by residences were threatened.

September 29, 1917

A fire started from an unknown origin in the dry grass and spread to a two-story building on a western street just a short distance from the wardrobe building. Members of the Universal fire department and every able-bodied man fought to extinguish the flames. Sparks from the burning buildings were carried to one of the stages and set fire to many overhead diffusers. Actors helped to put them out.

Sparks also fell on the roof of the new electric light studio, which was constructed only a few weeks earlier, but a group of men quickly put it out. For a while, it was feared that the $4,000,000 studio would be seriously damaged, however, the loss was estimated at $10,000.

Not to waste the opportunity, cameramen trained their cameras upon the fire scenes which was placed in stock for use in future films.

June 3, 1919

A stubborn fire aided by a strong wind blowing into the San Fernando Valley was intent on destroying the Universal back lot. Unfortunately, being in an unincorporated district, the nearby Hollywood fire station declared Universal City to be beyond its jurisdiction. Actor Harry Carey, who was filming scenes for Rider of the Law (1919), gathered several cowboy actors to help fight the fire. They hauled a hose from the studio to the crest of one of the hills where there was a huge water tank and sprayed the hillsides from there. The blaze destroyed sets and equipment on three of the hills; damage was set at $5,000 and might have been more had not Carey and the other men acted so quickly.

May 25, 1922

A short-circuited electric wire, which whipped through an open doorway of a cutting room, ignited more than 100,000 feet of film. The huge coils of film flared instantly with flames sweeping through the room endangering near-by buildings. Padlocked metal boxes of film exploded with the heat, showering the vicinity with steel splinters that were embedded in the walls.

The explosion, smoke and fire caused a near-panic among the hundreds of studio employees. Actress Priscilla Dean rushed up a flight of stairs to the burning room, intent on saving the film of her picture, Under Two Flags (1922), which was being completed. She tripped on a flowing oriental robe (part of her costume) she was wearing and sprained her ankle.

At a loss of four cents a foot, more than 185,000 feet of film was destroyed including Under Two Flags and the footage for five other productions.

Tod Browning, who directed Under Two Flags, was about to leave for his home when the fire started. Irving Thalberg, director-general of the studio; Julius Bernhein, Leo McCarey and Arthur Ripley (film editor), all tried to reach the cutting room but were forced back by the flames.

Thalberg estimated that the property damage from the fire and the loss of film would amount to more than a half-million dollars.

December 23, 1922

Seven months later, another fire ravaged the studio under similar circumstances when an electric lamp short circuited and ignited more than a million feet of film. An explosion shook the building, knocking down a woman standing fifty feet from the source. Fortunately, the fire was prevented from spreading to the adjoining scenic shop where copious amounts of paint, chemicals and inflammable materials were stored.

The fire broke out at 3:50 pm and was battled by fire-fighting apparatus on the premises. Special effects man, Edward Bush and actor Norman Kerry, who was still dressed in his Austrian costume from Merry-Go-Round (1923), rushed into the building ahead of the fireman. However, both were overcome by fumes from the burning film and were carried out unconscious. They were attended to at the Universal City Emergency Hospital. Actors Herbert Rawlinson and Art Acord were among those who also aided in fighting the flames.

The studio was not seriously damaged, but a total of 1,100,000 feet of film was destroyed. This was footage for between thirty-five and forty films which was being edited, including One of Three (1923) from the Yorke Norroy film series starring Roy Stewart. It was estimated to cost approximately $250,000 to reshoot the pictures. The destroyed film was valued at about $100,000.

February 26, 1923

A “prop” fire became a genuine blaze and damaged a cabin set, singeing every actor in an episode of The Phantom Fortune (1923) serial. William Desmond suffered slight burns and minor lacerations when he dragged Cathleen Calhoun from the burning cabin with her costume ablaze. Esther Ralston suffered scorched hands, arms, and back. Robert F. Hill, the director, was burned about the neck and ears. Cameraman, “Buddy” Harris had his right hand severely burned. Three electricians and a property man also sustained minor injuries.

The fire was caused by flares used to simulate flames that ignited the woodwork of the set. All the injured were given emergency treatment at the studio hospital and sent home.

August 27, 1925

A fire broke out on the set of The Midnight Sun (1926) starring Laura La Plante and Pat O’Malley. Five hundred extras went into a panic, many of them trampled underfoot and two were slightly injured when a gigantic set of the interior of the Petrograd Imperial Ballet was swept by fire. Director Dimitri Buchowetski immediately jumped on the burning stage and shouted directions to the frightened extras.

The cause of the blaze was a sputtering, overhead-arc light, which came in contact with a huge drapery, part of the decorations imported from Paris for the production. Three days of shooting had to be reshot because of the destruction of the draperies which could not be duplicated. The estimated damage to the set was $15,000.

April 8, 1927

A fire started in an editing room when a lamp burned out and a spark flew into a stack of film. The fire, which threatened to spread, was confined to the single building, but the building was destroyed.

Many thousands of feet of film had to be reshot. Among the films destroyed was Reginald Denney’s Fast and Furious (1927). The loss due to the fire was estimated at $10,000.

January 7, 1931

A blaze started in a frame structure used for cutting short-length films. The cutters narrowly escaped when the room burst into flames. They were slightly overcome by fumes generated by the burning film but were revived in the studio infirmary. The studio fire department confined the fire to the one building. Damage was placed at $10,000 to the film and $5,000 to the building.

October 25, 1932

A brush fire broke out in the woodlands behind Universal and swept through fifteen acres of land destroying two film sets valued at $10,000. While the main stages and sets were not in danger, the sets destroyed were used in Frankenstein (1931) and the William Wyler film, A House Divided (1931).

Two uniformed men up front spray water on the Universal backlot fire while a line of men continue to pull a hose up the hillside toward the fire raging behind a veil of smoke. (September 1937)

September 8, 1937

A brush fire fanned by a stiff breeze burned over twenty-two acres on Universal’s back lot, destroying three houses used as a motion-picture set. A score of wild animals caged near a jungle set and several hillside residences were also in danger of the blaze.

One of the destroyed houses was an old type Spanish ranch that had been used in hundreds of western films. The other two were a part of what was known as the “Swiss Village” and were originally built in 1922 for a John Barrymore picture.

The wild animals included Universal’s famous black panther, the trained chimpanzee “Skippy,” and numerous lions, leopards and other animals. The collection was valued at $50,000.

The estimated damage to the back lot was $10,000.

December 23, 1954

A fire broke out on the set of One Desire (1955) starring Anne Baxter and Rock Hudson. The script called for Baxter to throw a book at Hudson and knock over a kerosene lamp. She did, and the flames swept up the drapes, however members of the crew were unable to contain the blaze as it whipped to the ceiling of the sound stage. The heat opened sprinklers over an adjacent stage and caused damage to other sets prepared for the same film.

September 25, 1957

An acre of permanent street-scene sets was destroyed by a fire that broke out on Universal’s back lot shortly before 5 pm. None of the street scenes involved in the fire was in use. A complete theater set on “New York Street,” a landmark for twenty years, was consumed in the fire. The heat melted and twisted the steel girder frame of the building that had been used in numerous films. The last film to use the set was the remake of My Man Godfrey (1957) starring David Niven. The damage was estimated at $500,000.

May 15, 1967

A fire started in a barn on the “Laramie Street” set and spread north and east over twelve acres of movie and television sets. At times, flames leaped more than 100-feet into the air. The “European,” “Denver” and “Laramie” streets were burned to the ground by the fire which roared out of control for more than an hour.

Wind-blown sparks showered upon the nearby Warner Bros. Studios causing at least one minor fire on the roof of the old casting building. Embers were carried as far as NBC Studios, two miles away and across the river to the Lakeside golf course.

Movie sets burn in a $1 million fire on Universal Studios’ backlot on May 15, 1967. Firemen battle roaring flames that raged out of control in studio structures. (LAPL)

The “European” set was originally built in 1930 for filming of All Quiet on the Western Front and had been used for countless films since. The destroyed “Laramie” set was used for the television show Laredo and the “Denver” street for The Virginian series.

The damage was set at $1 million.

 

November 6, 1990

A spectacular fire ravaged four acres of the Universal back lot and destroyed the New York Street; an adjacent alley set; Brownstone Street; a portion of the Courthouse Square where Back to the Future was filmed, and the Dick Tracy Building. Also, heavily damaged was the “King Kong” and “Earthquake” exhibits on the studio tour.

The New York Street set was used in the films The Sting (1973), and Dick Tracy (1990), among others. Beside the Back to the Future films, the Courthouse Square set was used in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). The fire was set by a studio guard who was later sentenced to four years in prison. Damage was estimated at $25 million.

September 6, 1997

Improperly stored chemicals were blamed for a fire that destroyed the northern side of Courthouse Square. Once again, this building was spared.

June 1, 2008

A studio set is engulfed in fire at Universal Studios, June 2008.

A fire erupted at 4:45 a.m. on New York Street — a location that played host to scenes for such films as Batman and Robin and Austin Powers. Fueled by highly combustible facades and lumber, the fire rendered a sprinkler system on outdoor sets nearly useless.

The flames churned through the open-air wood and plastic construction and to the adjacent sets, incinerating the 30-foot animatronic “King Kong” tour exhibit, and damaging Courthouse Square, which played a prominent role in Back to the Future, To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind. The blaze also engulfed the videotape warehouse, containing archives of television shows and movies dating to the 1920s.

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The tragic story of Pierre Collings

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

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 when they returned to the states, they 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. Over time he became 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 married Natalie Harris at New York’s Little Church Around the Corner. The couple was divorced in 1930. In 1928, Collings was 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 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 so he could 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. DO NOT disturb the occupants)

Pierre Collings death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

Collings was collaborating with songwriter Carrie Jacobs Bond on a 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 and he was interred at Hollywood Cemetery near his mother.

Collings was already forgotten. The Los Angeles Times did not publish an obituary – only his name listed in the death notices. However, three weeks later, Lee Shippey, a columnist for the Times made this mention of him 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.’” 

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

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

By April 1938, Mackay was down to his last quarter. His only way to pay for lodging was to work on a rock pile. He returned one evening to his room, sweaty, tired and discouraged. In hopes of finding a clean shirt, he looked through a closet that was reserved for the belongings of guests who left the hotel without paying their rent. In the closet, Mackay discovered a threadbare blue sweater, and wrapped in the sweater was one of Pierre Collings’ Oscar statuette.

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

Concerned that he would be arrested for stealing the Oscar if he tried to return it, Mackay walked Hollywood Blvd to think. By chance, he met Arthur Caesar, himself an Academy Award winning screenwriter 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 in poverty a few months earlier. It was assumed that, probably in need, Collings had been forced to leave the sweater and Oscar as hostage for his unpaid rent.

However, another story later circulated that Collings’ Oscar was somehow stolen by a thief who found it too hot to sell and ended up hiding it in the hotel’s closet.

The Academy gave Mackay $25, told him to clean up, and assumingly, kept the Oscar.

While researching this story, I contacted the Academy and was told that neither of Pierre Collings’ Oscars was in their possession, and there were no records of the transaction. It’s possible that the unclaimed statue is lying in a box in the Academy’s attic or, since his father was living at the time, it was returned to him. In any event, both Oscars won by Collings appear to be missing.

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

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Oscar nominees and winners at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor the best films of 2017 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California at 5:00 p.m. PST on March 4, 2018.

To celebrate, let’s take a look at all (I hope none are hiding anywhere) Oscar nominees/winners that are interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Pierre Collings (1902-1937) was the first Academy Award nominee and winner to be interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. He received two Best Writing/Story nominations/wins for The Story of Louis Pasteur, a 1938 bio-pic starring fellow Hollywood Forever resident and Oscar winner, Paul Muni (1895-1967) as the famous French biologist. Technician Nathan Levinson (1888-1952) had the most nominations at 24 for Best Recording, of which he received one statue, but also was bestowed with two technical awards and one Honorary. Composer Victor Young (1900-1956) came in second at 22 nominations and one win, which sadly, was given posthumously. Cinematographer Arthur C. Miller (1895-1970) won the most at three statues. The last Oscar nominee to be interred here was screenwriter Fay Kanin (1917-2013). Ironically, the last Oscar winner to be laid to rest was Kanin’s husband–and often writing partner–screenwriter Michael Kanin (1910-1993). They shared a writing nomination for 1958’s Teacher’s Pet starring Clark Gable and Doris Day.

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The following are the Hollywood Forever residents that were nominated or won an Academy Award or Honorary awards, and the films they were nominated/won for. The co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are also included.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Academy Award Nominees and Winners. An asterisk (*) signifies the film that they won for:

1. George S. Barnes (1892-1953) Best Cinematography. 8 noms; 1 win. The Magic Flame (1927); The Devil Dancer (1927); Sadie Thompson (1928); Our Dancing Daughters (1928); *Rebecca (1940); The Spanish Main (1945); Spellbound (1945); Samson and Delilah (1949). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Refuge, Corr G-2, Crypt 2087.

2. Anne Bauchens (1882-1967) Best Film Editing. 4 noms; 1 win. Cleopatra (1934); *Northwest Mounted Police (1940); The Greatest Show on Earth (1952); The Ten Commandments (1956). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Lower floor, northwest wall, T-2, N-3.

3. Jack Brooks (1912-1971) Best Music, Original Song. 3 noms; 0 wins. Canyon Passage (1946); Son of Paleface (1952); The Caddy (1953). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Haven of Faith, T-11, N-4.

4. R. Dale Butts (1910-1990) Best Music. 1 nom; 0 wins. Flame of the Barbary Coast (1945). Plot: Section 2, Lot 69.

5. Louis Calhern (1895-1956) Best Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Magnificent Yankee (1950). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Abbey Foyer, T-3, N-308, South wall.

6. Charles H. Christie (1880-1955) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 178 – family marker – unmarked.

7. Pierre Collings (1902-1937) Best Writing/Story. 2 noms; 2 wins. *The Story of Louis Pasteur (1937) [2 wins]. Plot: Section 2W, Lot 696.

8. Irving Cummings (1888-1959) Best Director. 1 nom; 0 wins. In Old Arizona (1928). Plot: Section 13, Lot 305.

9. Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) Best Director. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) / Best Picture. 2 noms; 1 win. *The Greatest Show on Earth (1952); The Ten Commandments (1957) / *Honorary Award (1950) / *Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1953). One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 50.

10. Elmer Dyer (1892-1970) Best Cinematography. 1 nom; 0 wins. Air Force (1943). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 53.

11. Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) *Honorary Award (1940) [posthumous]. One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Large reflecting pool plot adjacent to the Cathedral Mausoleum.

12. Daniel L. Fapp (1904-1986) Best Cinematography. 7 noms; 1 win. Desire Under the Elms (1958); The Five Pennies (1959); One, Two, Three (1961); *West Side Story (1961); The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964); Ice Station Zebra (1968); Marooned (1969). Plot: Court of the Apostles, Unit 9 (south side).

13. Charles K. Feldman (1904-1968) Best Picture. 1 nom; 0 wins. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Faith, Corr D-3, Crypt 2305.

14. Peter Finch (1916-1977) Best Actor. 2 noms; 1 win. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971); *Network (1976). Plot: Cathedral Mausoleum, Corr A, Crypt 1224.

15. Victor Fleming (1889-1949) Best Director. 1 nom; 1 win. *Gone with the Wind (1939). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Refuge, Crypt 2081.

16. John Foreman (1925-1992) Best Picture. 2 noms; 0 wins. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); Prizzi’s Honor (1985). Plot: unknown.

17. Sidney Franklin (1893-1972) Best Director. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Good Earth (1937). *Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1943). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 1127.

18. George Froeschel (1891-1979) Best Writing, Screenplay. 2 noms; 1 win. Random Harvest (1942); *Mrs. Miniver (1942). Plot: Section 6, Lot 382.

19. Victor A. Gangelin (1899-1967) Best Art Direction. 2 noms; 1 win. Since You Went Away (1944); *West Side Story (1961). Plot: Section 9, Grave 910.

20. Judy Garland (1922-1969) Best Actress. 1 nom; 0 wins. A Star is Born (1954) / Best Supporting Actress. 1 nom; 0 wins. Judgement at Nuremburg (1961) / *Juvenile Award (1940). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum, Judy Garland Pavilion.

21. Tony Gaudio (1883-1951) Best Cinematography. 6 noms; 1 win. Hell’s Angels (1930); *Anthony Adverse (1936); Juarez (1939); The Letter (1940); Corvette K-225 (1943); A Song to Remember (1945). Plot: Section 5, Lot 471.

22. Janet Gaynor (1906-1984) Best Actress. 2 noms; 1 win. *[Sunrise (1927), 7th Heaven (1927), Street Angel (1928)]; A Star is Born (1937). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 193.

23. Joan Hackett (1934-1983) Best Supporting Actress. 1 nom; 0 wins. Only When I Laugh (1981). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Faith, Corr D-3, Crypt 2314.

24. Karl Hajos (1889-1950) Best Music. 2 noms; 0 wins. Summer Storm (1944); The Man Who Walked Alone (1945). Plot: Section 14, Row B, Grave 54.

25. Lenny Hayton (1908-1971) Best Music. 6 noms; 2 wins. The Harvey Girls (1946); The Pirate (1948); *On the Town (1949); Singin’ in the Rain (1952); Star! (1968); *Hello, Dolly! (1969). Plot: Plains of Abraham, Lot 153, Grave 19.

26. Milton E. Hoffman (1879-1952) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Abbey of the Palms, Sanctuary of Refuge, Corr G-1, Crypt 321.

27. John Huston (1906-1987) Best Director. 5 noms; 1 win. *The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); The Asphalt Jungle (1950); The African Queen (1951); Moulin Rouge (1952); Prizzi’s Honor (1985) / Best Writing. 8 noms; 1 win. Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet (1940); The Maltese Falcon (1941); Sergeant York (1941); *The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); The Asphalt Jungle (1950); The African Queen (1951); Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957); The Man Who Would Be King (1975) / Best Picture. 1 nom; 0 wins. Moulin Rouge (1952) / Best Supporting Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Cardinal (1963). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 6.

28. Harry Jackson (1896-1953) Best Cinematography. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mother Wore Tights (1947). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Column D, Niche 2, Tier 2.

29. Fay Kanin (1917-2013) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Teacher’s Pet (1958). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, 3d floor, Corr T-J-1-3.

30. Michael Kanin (1910-1993) Best Writing. 2 noms; 1 win. *Woman of the Year (1942); Teacher’s Pet (1958). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, 3rd floor, Corr T-J-1-3, Crypt 4762.

31. Bronislaw Kaper (1902-1983) Best Music-Score. 3 noms; 1 win. The Chocolate Soldier (1941); *Lili (1953); Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) / Best Original Song. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, Hall of David, Corridor T-1, Niche 1513, Tier 15.

32. Frank P. Keller (1913-1977) Best Film Editing. 4 noms; 1 win. Beach Red (1967); *Bullitt (1968); The Hot Rock (1972); Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973). Plot: Garden of Eternal Love, Section 5, east side.

33. Michael Kidd (1915-2007) *Honorary Award (1997). Plot: Section 13, Lot 847, Space 1.

34. Frederick Kohner (1905-1986) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mad About Music (1938). Plot: Garden of Jerusalem, Section 18.

35. Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) Best Music. 3 noms; 1 win. *The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939); The Sea Hawk (1940). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 15.

36. Milton R. Krasner (1904-1988) Best Cinematography. 7 noms; 1 win. Arabian Nights (1942); All About Eve (1950); *Three Coins in the Fountain (1954); An Affair to Remember (1957); How the West Was Won (1962); Love with the Proper Stranger (1963); Fate is the Hunter (1964). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr T-7-2, Gates of Heaven, Crypt 1498 (unmarked).

37. Harry Kurnitz (1908-1968) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. What Next, Corporal Hargrove? (1945). Plot: Garden of Shalom, Section 16, Row K, Grave 22.

38. Jesse L. Laskey (1880-1958) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Light, Corr G-3, Crypt 2196.

39. Lester Lee (1904-1956) Best Music-Original Song. 1 nom; 0 wins. Miss Sadie Thompson (1953). Plot: Garden of Eternal Love, Section 5, Lot 838.

40. Sonya Levien (1888-1960) Best Writing. 2 noms; 1 win. State Fair (1933); *Interrupted Melody (1955). Plot: Garden of Jerusalem, Section 18, Lot 929, urn garden, far southeast corner of section.

41. Nathan Levinson (1888-1952) Best Sound-Recording/Special Effects. 24 noms; 1 win. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1933); Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933); 42nd Street (1933); Flirtation Walk (1934); Captain Blood (1935); The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936); The Life of Emile Zola (1937); Four Daughters (1938); The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)-2 noms; The Sea Hawk (1940)-2 noms; The Sea Wolf (1941); Sergeant York (1941); Desperate Journey (1942); *Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942); Air Force (1943); This is the Army (1943); The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944); Hollywood Canteen (1944); Rhapsody in Blue (1945); A Stolen Life (1946); Johnny Belinda (1948); A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) / *Technical Achievement Award (1936) / *Honorary Award (1941) / *Technical Achievement Award (1948). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Foyer O, T-8, N-7.

42. Jeanie MacPherson (1886-1946) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Chapel Colonnade, west Corr, South Wall, T-2.

43. Joe Mantell (1915-2010) Best Supporting Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. Marty (1955). Plot: Section 21, Row 15, Grave 23.

44. Gertrude Ross Marks (1916-1994) Best Documentary. 1 nom; 0 wins. Walls of Fire (1971). Plot: New Beth Olam mausoleum, 3rd Floor, Corr T-J-1-3, Crypt 7763.

45. J. Peverell Marley (1901-1964) Best Cinematography. 2 noms; 0 wins. Suez (1938); Life with Father (1947). Plot: Cathedral Mausoleum, Crypt 223.

46. Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952) Best Supporting Actress. 1 nom; 1 win. *Gone with the Wind (1939). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, south of lake: Cenotaph.

47. Adolphe Menjou (1890-1963) Best Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Front Page (1931). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 11.

48. Michel Michelet (1894-1995) Best Music. 2 noms; 0 wins. Voice in the Wind (1944); The Hairy Ape (1944). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Second Floor, west wall, T-3, N-11.

49. Arthur C. Miller (1895-1970) Best Cinematography. 7 noms; 3 wins. The Rains Come (1939); The Blue Bird (1940); *How Green Was My Valley (1941); This Above All (1942); *The Song of Bernadette (1943); The Keys of the Kingdom (1944); *Anna and the King of Siam (1946). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Haven of Remembrance, T-1, N-3.

50. Thomas Miranda (1886-1962) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Cathedral Mausoleum, Alcove of Reverence, T-15, N-5.

51. Paul Muni (1895-1967) Best Actor. 6 noms; 1 win. The Valiant (1929); I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932); Black Fury (1935) [write-in]; *The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936); The Life of Emile Zola (1937); The Last Angry Man (1959). Plot: Plains of Abraham, Section 14, Grave 57.

52. Dudley Nichols (1895-1960) Best Writing. 4 noms; 1 win. *The Informer (1935); The Long Voyage Home (1940); Air Force (1943); The Tin Star (1957). Plot: Garden of Exodus, Section 13. Note: Nichols refused to accept his award for The Informer because of the antagonism between several industry guilds and the academy over union matters. This marked the first time an Academy Award had been declined. Academy records show that Dudley was in possession of an Oscar statuette by 1949.

53. Ingo Preminger (1911-2006) Best Picture. 1 nom; 0 wins. M*A*S*H (1970). Plot: Garden of Eternal Love, Section 5, Lot 11, Grave 1.

54. Nelson Riddle (1921-1985) Best Music. 5 noms; 1 win. Li’l Abner (1959); Can-Can (1960); Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964); Paint Your Wagon (1969); *The Great Gatsby (1974). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr T-1, Columbarium, Niche 702, Tier 7.

55. Hugo Riesenfeld (1879-1939) Best Music. 1 nom, 0 wins. Make a Wish (1937). Plot: Section 17, Row R, Plot 15.

56. Mickey Rooney (1920-2014) Best Actor. 2 noms; 0 wins. Babes in Arms (1939); The Human Comedy (1943) / Best Supporting Actor. 2 noms; 0 wins. The Bold and the Brave (1956); The Black Stallion (1979) / *Juvenile Award (1939) / *Honorary Award (1983). Plot: Cathedral Lake View, Elevation 15, Couch B-1501.

57. Harold Rosson (1895-1988) Best Cinematography. 5 noms; 0 wins. The Wizard of Oz (1939); Boom Town (1940); Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944); The Asphalt Jungle (1950); The Bad Seed (1956) / *Honorary Award. The Garden of Allah (1936). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Plot 43.

58. Hans J. Salter (1896-1994) Best Music. 6 noms; 0 wins. It Started with Eve (1941); The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943); The Merry Monahans (1944); Christmas Holiday (1944); Can’t Help Singing (1944); This Love of Ours (1945). Plot: Section 16, Lot 66B.

59. Joseph Schildkraut (1896-1964) Best Supporting Actor. 1 nom; 1 win. The Life of Emile Zola (1937). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Foyer R, West wall, Niche 212.

60. Leon Schlesinger (1884-1949) Best Short Subject-Cartoons. 6 noms; 0 wins. It’s Got Me Again (1932); A Wild Hare (1940); Rhapsody in Rivets (1941); Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt (1941); Pigs in a Polka (1943); Greetings Bait (1943). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr M-4, T-5-2, Crypt 1275.

61. Leonard Spigelgass (1908-1985) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mystery Street (1950). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, T-8-2, Crypt 7934.

62. George Stoll (1902-1985) Best Music. 9 noms; 1 win. Babes in Arms (1939); Strike Up the Band (1940) [2 noms]; For Me and My Gal (1942); Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); *Anchors Aweigh (1945); Love Me or Leave Me (1955); Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956); Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962). Plot: Beth Olam, Section 18.

63. Gregg Toland (1904-1948) Best Cinematography. 6 noms; 1 win. Les Misérables (1935); Dead End (1937); Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939); *Wuthering Heights (1939); The Long Voyage Home (1940); Citizen Kane (1941). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Lower Column H, Niche 2, Tier 4.

64. Franz Waxman (1906-1967) Best Music. 12 noms; 2 wins. The Young in Heart (1938) [2 noms]; Rebecca (1940); Suspicion (1941); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941); Objective, Burma! (1945); Humoresque (1946); *Sunset Blvd. (1950); *A Place in the Sun (1951); The Silver Chalice (1954); The Nun’s Story (1959); Taras Bulba (1962). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Hall of Solomon, Foyer O, T-5, N-1.

65. Clifton Webb (1889-1966) Best Supporting Actor. 2 noms; 0 wins. Laura (1944); The Razor’s Edge (1946) / Best Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. Sitting Pretty (1948). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Corr G-6, Crypt 2350.

66. Jules White (1900-1985) Best Short Subject-Two Reel/Comedy. 4 noms; 0 wins. Men in Black (1934); Oh, My Nerves (1935); The Jury Goes Round ‘n’ Round (1945); Hiss and Yell (1946). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr M-7, Crypt 1377.

67. Carey Wilson (1889-1962) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 66.

68. Frank E. Woods (1860-1939) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Columbarium, Lower floor, North wall, Tier 4, Niche 8.

69. Victor Young (1900-1956) Best Music. 22 noms; 1 win. Breaking the Ice (1938); Army Girl (1938); Man of Conquest (1939); Gulliver’s Travels (1939); Golden Boy (1939); Way Down South (1939); North West Mounted Police (1940); Dark Command (1940); Arizona (1940); Arise, My Love (1940); Hold Back the Dawn (1941); Take a Letter, Darling (1942); Silver Queen (1942); Flying Tigers (1942); For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943); Love Letters (1945) [2 noms]; The Emperor Waltz (1948); My Foolish Heart (1949); Samson and Delilah (1949); Written on the Wind (1956); *Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) [win was posthumous]. Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Foyer M, Crypt 46.

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Judy Garland: her death and afterlife

Friday, January 19th, 2018

On the morning of June 23, 1969, the Los Angeles Times and New York Times both declared the same event with the same headline: “Judy Garland, 47, Found Dead.”

The actress died in her London apartment early on Sunday morning, June 22, 1969. Mickey Deans, her husband of three months, found her body behind a locked bathroom door. When the police arrived, they viewed Garland’s body slumped on the toilet, with her head resting in her hands.

Judy Garland’s British death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

An autopsy revealed that the cause of her death was accidental barbiturate poisoning, “an incautious self-overdosage of sleeping pills,” said Coroner Gavin Thurston. “This is quite clearly an accidental circumstance to a person who was accustomed to taking barbiturates over a very long time. She took more barbiturates than she could tolerate.”

Back in the States, Garland’s daughter Liza, by her second husband Vincent Minnelli, was staying with friends in the Hamptons along with her husband, singer and songwriter, Peter Allen. Early that morning, Allen took a phone call from Liza’s secretary. When Allen woke Liza, she suspected bad news but thought there was something wrong with her father. Instead, he told her that her mother was dead.

Late Wednesday night, Garland’s body was returned to New York, with her husband, Mickey Deans, and the Rev. Peter Delany, who married the couple earlier that year, accompanying the body. In New York, when the plane arrived, Garland’s daughter, actress and singer Liza Minnelli, waited in a car in the parking lot of Kennedy Airport.

Minnelli released a statement: “I know my mother was a great star and a great talent, but I am not thinking about those things today. What I am thinking about is the woman, my mother, and what a lovely, vital, extraordinary woman she was. It is because of my memory of that woman that all my life I will be proud to say, ‘I am Judy Garland’s daughter.’”

The casket containing the body of Judy Garland is placed into a hearse at the airport after arriving from London.

A hearse took Garland’s body to Frank E. Campbell’s Funeral Church on East Eighty-First Street and Madison Avenue. The following day, she would repose for public viewing in a glass-covered coffin; a private funeral service would be held that Friday.

On Thursday, June 26, lines of Garland’s fans began forming by the thousand’s at one o’clock in the morning, ten hours before the doors opened to the public. Many were openly weeping, waiting to say their last good-bye to their idol. At the appointed time, each one passed by her bier at the rate of 1,200 an hour. Outside, recordings of Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and other of her songs were played by an admirer on a battery-powered record play. “She’s found the rainbow now,” sobbed one twenty-year-old fan. “I hope she has got some peace.” By noon, police estimated that there were 5,000 mourners waiting on the block between Madison and Fifth Avenues, that were closed to traffic.

In the flower-filled chapel—decorated with yellow and white daisies and chrysanthemums—fans moved past the glass-topped, baby-blue casket containing Garland’s body. The front of the casket, which was low to the floor, was wisely covered with flower arrangements so that those paying their respects could not get close to her. Her dark hair was short, and she wore red-orange lipstick and black fake eye lashes were placed on her closed eyes. She reportedly was wearing her wedding dress; an ankle length beige or light taupe gown with long sleeves, high neck, and a belt of gold and pearls. On her feet were silver satin shoes with silver bows. An Episcopal missal was in her gloved hands; she wore her wedding ring.

Huge floral sprays from such show business celebrities as Irving Berlin, Dirk Bogarde, several of the Hollywood studios, and from the Palace Theater, surrounded the bier. A huge, colorful “Over the Rainbow” flower tribute from Frank Sinatra was arched behind Garland’s casket.

Mickey Deans and Judy Garland.

Garland’s burial was left up to Mickey Deans (her children “had no say in the matter”) who announced earlier that morning that his wife’s body would be interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, a small town approximately twenty-five miles north of New York City. “I didn’t want to bury her in Hollywood, to have people walking over her grave and pointing,” he told reporters. “She has given enough. Anyway, they didn’t care in Hollywood. She was just a property and they used her as such.”

However, Sid Luft, Garland’s third husband would rather that his ex-wife be buried in Los Angeles, feeling it was where she became a star. But Deans felt that she would have preferred a cemetery on the East Coast since she reportedly was never fond of California.

Fans of Judy Garland stand in line to view the singer’s body.

The following day, the hot and humid weather did not deter the estimated 1,300 to 1,500 fans from maintaining a fervent vigil. Over the course of the previous day, an estimated 20,000 people had paused to peer into the glass-covered casket of their idol. It was the largest funeral that Campbell’s had seen since the death of silent film idol Rudolph Valentino in 1926.

In the crowd, pop icon Andy Warhol tape recorded many of the fans conversations, and photographer Diane Arbus took pictures.

Joey Luft, Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft enter Frank E. Campbell’s to attend their mother’s funeral.

Among Garland’s show business friends and colleagues attending were: Ray Bolger, Lauren Bacall, Alan King, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Paulo Wayne, Fred Ebb, Freddie Bartholomew, Otto Preminger and Spyros Skouras, Harold Arlen, Mickey Rooney, Mayor and Mrs. Lindsay, and Patricia Kennedy Lawford.

The Rev. Peter Delaney of Marylebone Church, London, who officiated at Garland’s marriage to Deans, conducted the twenty-minute Episcopal service, portions of which were heard through a loudspeaker provided by Campbell’s in an upstairs room. Jack French, Garland’s musical accompanist, began the funeral with an organ rendition of one of Garland’s favorite songs, “Here’s to Us,” from the Broadway production Little Me.

The service included one of Garland’s favorite Bible passages, I Corinthians 13, which begins: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

James Mason, Garland’s costar from A Star is Born, gave the eulogy. “Judy’s great gift,” Mason began, “was that she could wring tears out of hearts of rock. She gave so richly and so generously, that there was no currency in which to repay her.”

French ended the service playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which the congregation sang. Then, Garland’s coffin, under a blanket of yellow roses, was placed in a waiting hearse that headed a cortege of three limousines and a flower car. On Madison Avenue, where the crowd had surged through the barricades, a few Garland fans still gathered. Said one, “I have nothing else to do right now.”

Later, at Ferncliff Cemetery, several hundred-people waited as Garland’s casket was placed in a temporary crypt where it would remain until the elaborate tomb that Deans planned to build was completed. The crowd lingered about the crypt until finally, a policeman told them: “The funeral of Judy Garland is over. We would appreciate your leaving.”

That evening, many of the still emotional mourners who attended that day’s funeral, were reportedly drowning their sorrows across town at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar. Since the Stonewall had no liquor license, it was basically a bottle club (a meeting place where customers are served drinks from their own liquor bottles) so customers had to sign-in, however, many used pseudonyms and “Judy Garland” was one of the most popular that evening.

According to legend, because of Garlands death and the funeral that day, many were still expressive about the diva’s passing. Even more so, when the New York police raided the bar at 1:20 a.m. the following morning; the patrons were ready for a fight. According to Sylvia Rivera, a seventeen-year-old drag queen who would become a well-known gay rights activist, there was a feeling in the air that something would happen that night: “I guess Judy Garland’s death just really helped us really hit the fan.”

The Stonewall Riots

What followed was a riot that became the flashpoint of the modern day gay liberation movement. Time magazine wrote: “The uprising was inspirited by a potent cocktail of pent-up rage (raids of gay bars were brutal and routine), overwrought emotions (hours earlier, thousands had wept at the funeral of Judy Garland) and drugs.”

However, years later some historians have contradicted that Garland’s death influenced the burgeoning gay rights movement, stating it was untrue. Some contend that most of those involved in the riots “were not the type to moon over Judy Garland records or attend her concerts at Carnegie Hall. They were more preoccupied with where they were going to sleep and where their next meal would come from.”

Nevertheless, Judy Garland’s connection to the Stonewall riots has persevered throughout gay history. It even inspired a play, Judy at the Stonewall Inn, where the ghost of Garland appears at the fabled Christopher Street bar as a sort of spiritual cheerleader. Even Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, is proud of the connection, saying that her mother was a “huge, huge advocate of human rights” and that she would have found the rioting appropriate.

In the meantime, at Ferncliff, Garland’s body was not yet at rest. The cemetery is the final resting place of many celebrities, including Jerome Kern, Basil Rathbone and Moss Hart. The wing that would contain Garland’s planned memorial was still being built, so until then, her body was placed in a temporary vault. Ferncliff’s manager had assured Mickey Deans that “Judy would be its greatest star.” However, to pay for the memorial, Deans needed to raise $37,500, hoping to get it from Garland’s family and friends. But by November 1970, he still had not raised the funds and Garland remained in a drawer with the nameplate: “Judy Garland DeVinko” (Mickey Deans real name).

Deans was desperate. The fact that Garland was still in a temporary crypt evidently bothered him. “It’s wrong. It’s very wrong,” he would say. He hoped to raise the money by writing a book about his time with Garland (the book’s advance would cover Garland’s burial and more), but unfortunately Deans was not a writer, so he approached author Anne Edwards, who was working on her first non-fiction book, a biography of Garland. Deans suggested that they collaborate; he was sure it would be a best-seller. Naturally, Edwards refused his request, believing that Deans had created these “appalling” circumstances that he was in, himself. “I did not hesitate in telling him that I would in no way consider collaborating with him on a book,” Edwards stated.

Meanwhile, Garland’s interment bill at Ferncliff was still outstanding—plus steep interest charges. At the time, Edwards was corresponding with crooner Frank Sinatra about his memories of Garland. In one letter, she mentioned the “state of affairs at Ferncliff” with Garland still reposing in storage.

Then, several weeks later, Ferncliff’s manager informed Edwards that Sinatra had paid Garland’s outstanding bill, and that “Mrs. DeVinko” would be given a proper burial. Within weeks, Garland was placed in a simple wall crypt on the second floor of the new wing of the mausoleum with the simple inscription: “Judy Garland 1922 – 1969.” At Sinatra’s request, Edwards did not disclose that information in her biography.

Judy Garland’s grave at Ferncliff Cemetery.

Over the years, more celebrities joined Garland at Ferncliff including television host, Ed Sullivan; diva, Joan Crawford (downstairs in the old wing of the same building as Garland), and composer Harold Arlen (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), among others.

Fans visited, and floral tributes were left in front of her floor level, beige marble slab. Members of Garland’s three fan clubs made sure there were always flowers. One fan had mums and roses delivered to her crypt every month for more than two decades. In the mid-1990s, a Ferncliff employee said, “Judy is the most popular interment we have here. We used to keep track of how many people came to see Judy, but now that everyone knows were she is they head right to her by themselves. If they forget, they simply look for the crypt with all the flowers in front of it.”

Fast forward nearly forty-eight years to January 2017, when Garland’s family announced that the singer’s remains would be exhumed from Ferncliff and moved cross-country to a new crypt at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. The family, who were now living in Southern California, had deliberated for several years about moving her and “wished to have their mother resting near them.” In addition, when Mickey Deans died in 2003, it became the family’s “opportunity to do what they feel their mother would have wanted in the first place—to be united with her family in Hollywood.”

Entrance to the Judy Garland Pavilion.

Hollywood Forever set aside a recently built, special wing of the Abbey of the Psalms mausoleum and renamed it the “Judy Garland Pavilion.” There is room for Garland’s family, including her children Liza, Lorna and brother Joey. Additionally, there are crypts and niches available for sale to any Judy Garland fan that might wish to be interred near their idol.

Ironically, she is not far from many that she knew in life. There’s her close friend, Mickey Rooney, and from The Wizard of Oz: director Victor Fleming, cinematographer Harold Rosson, and costume designer Adrian.

At Ferncliff Cemetery, the management wasn’t certain what would be done with Garland’s empty crypt: “We haven’t decided what to do yet, but we think because she’s been here so long, we will just leave it here and memorialize her.”

In Hollywood, a private memorial service was held by Garland’s family and friends at her new crypt on June 10, 2017, which would have been the actresses 95th birthday. In a statement released to The Associated Press, the family offered gratitude to their mother’s “millions of fans around the world for their constant love and support.”

On a personal note, throughout my childhood, there were three yearly events that I excitedly looked forward to: Christmas morning; the last day of school, and the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz.

Judy Garland has always been a favorite of mine. The first television showing of The Wizard of Oz on CBS was broadcast less than two months after I was born. Of course, I don’t remember it, but I do know that Oz was the first film that left an impression on me, and Judy Garland was the first “movie star” I recognized. And I never missed a yearly broadcast–much to the chagrin of my poor mother. She couldn’t understand why I had to watch it every year. “But you’ve seen it already, why do you want to see it again?” she would cry in frustration. She didn’t get it.

Yet, each year I could watch it–some years by myself, or some years with my parents. Especially when we got our first color television and Technicolor brought the Land of Oz to life. Even so, one of my favorite scenes was the twister. The special effects fascinated me then, and they still hold up today.

I was also very defensive of Dorothy/Judy and her Yellow Brick Road companions. One year, on the day following an Oz broadcast, I was riding the school bus home and a kid sitting across the aisle began talking shit about Dorothy/Judy–he called her fat, and laughed about it. I was so angry, I wanted to punch him in the nose, but I withheld my ire.

Dressing up as The Wizard of Oz characters. I am the Tin Man on the far right.

Judy followed me yearly into young adulthood when I moved to Pittsburgh to attend art school. There, I was drawn to a group who was of like mind about Oz and Judy Garland. For Halloween one year, we dressed up as Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Wicked Witch–I was the Tin Man, and since we were art students, we made our own costumes (except for the Lion who had to rent his). Also, if memory serves me, I believe that was the last year of the annual Oz showing. But fear not, it wasn’t long before videos and VCR’s entered the market so you could own a piece of Oz and watch it whenever you wanted.

Let me just state–even though it may sound like it–I’m not a rabid Judy Garland fan. I don’t collect Garland memorabilia, nor do I attend the many conventions that are held yearly. But she was my first exposure to entertainment, and to Hollywood; a love that has remained with me my entire life.

It was almost fifteen years ago that the first rumors circulated that Judy Garland might be moving to Hollywood Forever. I was thrilled. But evidently there was a breakdown in communication within the family, or there was some other reason that it didn’t happen. I don’t know. Then, last January, when it was announced that it was finally happening–Judy Garland was being reinterred at Hollywood Forever in a beautiful art deco-ish mausoleum that sort of reminded me of Oz; it made me think.

 

 

I already had a niche at Hollywood Forever, in the Cathedral Mausoleum not far from Rudolph Valentino that I had bought several years ago. So, after deep thought, and with many niche’s (and some crypts) available for purchase, I decided to move. My new final resting place is directly across from Judy Garland’s crypt. To me, it made sense since Judy was a part of my early life–now she will be a part of my eternity (hopefully not for a few decades, though).

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