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Why a Biography on Miriam Hopkins?

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 22nd, 2011
2011
Jul 22

 

 By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

I’m often asked, “Why a biography on Miriam Hopkins?” I confess that I get this question mostly from people who are not fans of the actress. They can’t understand why anyone would be interested. On the other hand, those who are fans seem thrilled that one is being prepared. It’s scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

 

A few reasons why Miriam Hopkins would make a good biographical subject:

 

  • Hopkins appeared in 35 films, 2 shorts, 18 Broadway plays, 20 plus summer stock plays and road tours, 20 television programs and multiple radio plays and appearances.

 

  • Hopkins made her first film, Fast and Loose (1930) during the day while performing on the Broadway stage in Lysistrata in the evenings.

 

  • Hopkins appeared in the very first Technicolor film, Becky Sharp (1935).

 

  • Hopkins starred in the first produced play written by Tennessee Williams, Battle of Angels (1941).

 

  • Hopkins appeared in a silent short film in 1928 with Humphrey Bogart.

 

  • Hopkins had a love-hate relationship with her mother.

 

  • Hopkins did not have contact with her father for more than twenty years — not until she became a Hollywood star.

 

  • Hopkins was indirectly descended from Revolutionary figures, Arthur Middleton and John Dickinson.

 

  • Hopkins was Margaret Mitchell’s choice to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).

 

  • Hopkins was nominated for an Academy Award (Becky Sharp) and a Golden Globe (The Heiress).

 

  • Hopkins bought and remodeled John Gilbert’s house after his death and sold it ten years later to David O. Selznick.

 

  • Hopkins costars include: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Maurice Chevalier, George Raft, Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone, Lionel Barrymore, Kay Francis, Bing Crosby, Fay Wray, Joel McCrea, Edward G. Robinson, Merle Oberon, Gertrude Lawrence, Rex Harrison, Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Olivia De Havilland, Gene Tierney, Laurence Olivier, Jennifer Jones, Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Sally Field and of course, Bette Davis.

 

  • Hopkins was directed four times by William Wyler, three times by Ernst Lubitsch and twice by Rouben Mamoulian.

 

  • Hopkins was married four times and had numerous lovers.

 

  • Hopkins lived on Washington Square in New York during the late 1920s, the same place as her character in The Heiress (1949).

 

  • Hopkins was seriously interested in astrology and numerology.

 

  • Hopkins adopted a child as a single parent.

 

  • Hopkins was involved in political causes during her Hollywood years.

 

  • Hopkins was an authority at scene stealing.

 

  • Hopkins preferred writers, directors and intellectuals as friends and not Hollywood types.

 

  • Hopkins had an extensive book collection in her homes and was a voracious reader.

 

  • Hopkins actions were followed closely by the FBI for more than 15 years.

 

  • Hopkins never revealed her first marriage to her son

(he read about it in his mothers obituary)

 

  • Hopkins died nine days before her 70th birthday.

 

  • Hopkins feuded with Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Errol Flynn and numerous others and pissed off half of Hollywood.

 

What’s not interesting about that?

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The First Oscar…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 17th, 2009
2009
Feb 17

AMPAS HISTORY

Emil Jannings’ Oscar

 

Emil Jannings and his Oscar

  

By Allan R. Ellenberger

Emil Jannings, one of Germany’s most favorite actors, was Swiss-born and was raised in Germany as a child. An undisciplined student, his first ambition was to be an actor, however a close friend who was in the Navy, convinced him to run away and go to sea. He eventually returned and tried to obey his parents wishes to be an engineer but soon ran off again and joined a theatrical road company. This time he was returned home by the police, but his father thought a good dose of theatrical hardship would cure him of his dramatic ideas and allowed him to continue with his pursuit.

For several years he traveled with one company or another eventually becoming a stock member at Bremen and Leipzig. For some time Jannings was with the Darmstadt Royal Theatre in Berlin, where he played in Shakespeare, Ibsen, Strindberg and Goethe plays. There he made the acquaintance of Robert Wiene, who would later become the producer of Caligari. He soon played in a series of one-reelers in which one of the directors was a young Ernst Lubitsch 

Emil Jannings in The Last Laugh

Emil Jannings in The Last Laugh (1924)

In F.W. Murnau’s, The Last Laugh (1924), in which Jannings plays an old man who sees his world fall about him, he caused critics to rave about him. After his success in Faust (1926), again with Murnau, he came to the United States for Paramount and appeared in The Way of All Flesh (1927), The Street of Sin (1928), The Last Command (1928), The Patriot (1928) and Sins of the Father (1928).

In 1929, the first year of the Academy Awards, Jannings won a Best Actor award for his performances in the The Way of All Flesh (1927), in which he played an embittered family man, and The Last Command (1928), in which he was an exiled Russian general reduced to playing bit parts in war films.

The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929. However, at that time talking pictures had arrived and Jannings became one of that group of foreign actors who, because of their accent, was suddenly forced to abandon his career in the United States.

 Emil Jannings' Oscar

 The first Academy Award (kori.bustard/Flickr)

Since the actor was returning to Germany on April 27 – before the banquet was to be held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel – he asked the Academy if he could receive his gold statuette early. The fledgling organization agreed, making his the very first Academy Award ever presented.

The remainder of Jannings film work was done in Germany. During World War II, it became apparent that Jannings had become a favorite of the Nazi government, particularly since he was one of a handful of people entrusted by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels with running that phase of the film industry most closely dominated by the Hitler regime. After the war he was not seen on the screen again.  

Emil Jannnings' Oscar

 Emil Jannings’ Academy Award at the Berlin Film Museum (Jacob.Theo/Flickr)

Emil Jannings died at his home in Strobl, Austria from liver cancer complicated by pneumonia on January 3, 1950. He was buried at Saint Wolfgang Friedhof Cemetery. The very first Academy Award won by Jannings is currently on display at the Berlin Film Museum.

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Celebrity Recipes – Janet Gaynor

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 7th, 2009
2009
Feb 7

CELEBRITY RECIPES

Janet Gaynor

 

Seventh-Heaven

 

Janet Gaynor was the recipient of the first Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in Seventh Heaven (1927), Sunrise (1927) and Street Angel (1928).

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Janet Gaynor’s

ICE BOX COOKIES

 

 

Cream one pound of butter and 1 ½ cups sugar. Add 3 eggs, one by one, beating and mixing meanwhile. Add 5 cups of flour gradually while beating the mixture. Add dates and nuts (quantity to suit) which have been chopped into small bits. Add vanilla flavoring. Shape this into a roll and put in refrigerator over night. In the morning slice into thin layers and bake in moderate oven.   

 

— Janet Gaynor

 

 

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Pickford’s Oscars Not For Sale…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Dec 19th, 2008
2008
Dec 19

Jury bars auction of Mary Pickford’s Oscar

 

Mary Pickford Oscar

 

If heirs want to sell the actress’ 1930 award, they must give the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences the first chance to buy it, for $10, jurors decide.

 

By Bob Pool
Los Angeles Times

.

And the Oscar for best Hollywood courtroom drama goes to . . . the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

 

The golden statuette was awarded Monday by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury, which ruled that if Mary Pickford’s heirs want to sell it, they have to offer it to academy officials for $10 instead of auctioning it off for as much as $800,000.    (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)

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