Posts Tagged ‘Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’

The Story of Chaplin’s Walk of Fame Star

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD HISTORY

A Star is Born — Charlie Chaplin’s

 

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

This year marks the 5oth anniversary of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The idea for the Walk of Fame, which is world famous, goes back to 1953 when E. M. Stuart, who served as the volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proposed the idea. Stuart described the Walk as a means to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” A committee was appointed to begin fleshing out the idea. In 1960, 1,550 honorees were selected by committees representing the four branches of the entertainment industry at that time, and were laid out on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and two blocks of Vine Street – everyone that is, except for comedian Charlie Chaplin.

 

Chaplin’s name was in the original list nominated for inclusion in the walk back in 1956, but Hollywood property owners objected to Chaplin, charging his moral and leftwing leanings tended to discredit him and the entertainment industry. His star was not included.

 

In 1952 Chaplin had left Hollywood on a visit to England and while aboard ship in the Atlantic, was notified that his reentry permit had been revoked. Atty. Gen. James P. McGranery said the action had been prompted by “public charges” associating Chaplin with communism and “grave moral charges.” The comedian would have to appear at a hearing to prove his “moral worth” before he could return. Chaplin, who was still a British subject, declined to go through such a hearing. “Since the end of the last world war,” Chaplin said, “I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America’s yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States.” Chaplin and his family moved to a mansion overlooking Lake Geneva near the Swiss village of Vevey.

 

That government ruling was widely and correctly interpreted as a shabby cover to bar Chaplin from the country for political reasons. While he never belonged to a political party, he was sympathetic to liberal and some radical causes. Worse, he was outspoken. And some of his films, which ridiculed aspects of American society, were denounced as “left-wing propaganda.”

 

In August 1960, a superior court judge refused to issue an order compelling the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Improvement Association to show cause why they should not be directed to include Chaplin’s name on the Walk of Fame. The court acted on a petition filed by Charles Chaplin, Jr., who contended that omission of his father’s name from the Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk project was malicious. Chaplin Jr. himself demanded $400,000 damages on the complaint that the decision of the two Hollywood organizations libeled him and injured his career. His suit was eventually dismissed.

 

After the reentry prohibition against Chaplin was dropped years later, the actor remained in Switzerland. As the years passed, both Chaplin and the times changed and, in an interview in London in 1962, he said: “What happened to me, I can’t condemn or criticize the country for that. There are many admirable things about American and its system, too. I have no ill feelings. I carry no hate. My only enemy is time.”

 

By the early days of 1972, the officials, including an attorney general of the United States, who were outraged at Chaplin’s radically-tinged politics, were now gone. It was rumored that Chaplin would return to the United States for the first time in twenty years to receive a special Academy Award voted to him. If Chaplin decided to return, he would have to apply to the U.S. Consulate in Geneva for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. The U.S. State Department would then rule on the application.

 

Possibly because of Chaplin’s promising return, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Committee voted on whether to approve a star for the actor and voted 5 to 4 against it. After that vote, Chamber president, A. Ronald Button ordered an advisory poll of chamber membership that responded 3 to 1 in favor of installing a Chaplin star. Based on that, the Chambers directors went against their Executive Committees recommendation and voted 30 to 3 in favor of adding Chaplin’s name to the sidewalk honor. The decision still had to be approved by the Los Angeles City Council, but Button said it had always approved the directors’ recommendations in the past. “I can’t imagine them opposing the star,” he said. Eventually the city council approved Chaplin’s star, 11 to 3. The three dissenting councilmen never spoke publicly in opposition, but privately complained that since the comedian earned his money here he should not have left the country to live in Switzerland.

 

 

At the time there were eighty names previously approved that had not yet been inserted because the funds were not available. This was before the days when a star had to be paid for by fans. Instead each star’s installation was funded by the Chamber which, at the time, cost between $900 and $1,000. However, one unnamed board member offered to pay for the installation of Chaplin’s star. At that time it was not known where or when the installation would take place.

 

Soon it was announced that after an exile of two decades, Chaplin would return to the United States and be honored with a special award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Before leaving Switzerland for New York, Chaplin received anonymous death threats, most by telephone saying they were going to kill him. “He expected to be shot over here,” said William Jordan, whose private detective firm was hired by the Academy to guard Chaplin during his four-day visit to Los Angeles. “That was his line. He said, ‘They killed Mr. Kennedy.’ I can’t give you the exact number but there were at least a dozen. They were coming into the Music Center – site of the Oscar presentation – and they called his hotel.” Sometimes they specified they were going to blow him up or shoot him. Sometimes they didn’t specify how it would be done.

 

On April 7, 1972, the 82 year-old Chaplin and his wife Oona arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. Photographers, cameramen and reporters lined a walkway that extended from the plane to a waiting car. Finally, after a quick flurry of activity, Chaplin appeared at the top of the terminal stairs. He was short, almost portly. His white hair was wispy in the breeze. As he reached the base of the stairs he looked up and smiled at the row of waiting reporters. There were no cheers, no applause. He waved, and his words were barely audible. “How does it feel to be back, Mr. Chaplin?” a reporter asked. “Very strange,” was his reply.

 

 

Oona and Charles Chaplin on their arrival in Los Angeles in 1972

 

 

Only two representatives from Hollywood awaited him at the end of the walkway – Daniel Taradash, president of the Academy and Howard W. Koch, a member of the board of governors and the Academy’s treasurer. “This is the happiest moment in the history of Hollywood,” Taradash told Chaplin. The comedian, perhaps unable to hear amidst the commotion, shook his hand but reportedly said nothing. Chaplin was taken to the Beverly Hills Hotel, passing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City and 20th Century-Fox en route. His car did not stop or slow down. Chaplin made no public appearances, interviews or tours while he was in Los Angeles and turned down many of the private invitations he received.

 

During Chaplin’s arrival that morning, a statue of him was unveiled at the Hollywood Visitors and Information Center at Hollywood and Vine to commemorate his return. Almost immediately bomb threats and complaints poured in forcing the removal of the statue the following day to the Artisan’s Patio at 6727 Hollywood Boulevard, where it went on public display. Letters from across the country were received expressing bitterness towards Chaplin and Hollywood’s welcome after twenty years. “I am tired, tired to death of these insane Revolutionary Zionists of which Charlie Chaplin is one of the very worst,” wrote one critic. There were several defenders – by far the minority – among the letter writers, and one expressed a common sentiment: “His political beliefs of whatever persuasion should not be allowed to obscure his comic genius.”

 

Threats were also leveled at the dedication of Chaplin’s Walk of Fame bronze star ceremony which was scheduled for the following Monday morning – the same day Chaplin would receive his special Oscar. Anonymous telephone threats that the star would be ripped up or defaced were received. One letter writer said: “The only star I would give Charlie Chaplin is a red star… I am against putting Chaplin’s name on any of our streets. He never donated a dime or time to anything in America. I say don’t let him enter these United States again. Russians can have him with my compliments.”

 

The following Monday morning, fans and several armed guards, gathered at the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce officials uttered words of benediction over Chaplin’s star. Chaplin’s 12 year-old granddaughter, Susan Maree Chaplin, unveiled the star in her famous grandfather’s absence. The dedication ceremony was attended by many Hollywood oddities including “Alice of Hollyweird,” with her singing dogs; Albert Ciremele, a Chaplin impersonator, and “Aunt Pollu,” sweeping up the street with a gold-speckled mop. Also attending were several Keystone Cops, only one of whom, Eddie LeVeque, was an original. In the crowd were several old, white-haired women passing out a sheet of paper purporting to show “Charlie Chaplin’s Red Record.” To anyone who would listen, they would rail on about Chaplin’s political philosophy.

 

The Chamber of Commerce hired private detectives to guard Chaplin’s star until the actor returned to Switzerland. One guard commented that some person’s walking by had made derogatory remarks but “most of the people are pro-Chaplin.”

 

 

 

Charlie Chaplin’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (above and below) as it looks today at 6755 Hollywood Boulevard

 

 

 

That evening, Chaplin and Oona were accompanied by private bodyguards and driven to the Music Center where he received his special Oscar for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.” Stepping onto the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Chaplin received the longest standing ovation in Academy Award history, lasting a full five minutes. Filled with emotion, Chaplin told the captivated audience: “Oh, thank you so much. This is an emotional moment for me, and words seem so futile, so feeble. I can only say that… thank you for the honor of inviting me here, and, oh, you’re wonderful, sweet people. Thank you.”

 

 

Chaplin after accepting his honorary Oscar

 

 

Before he returned home to Switzerland, Chaplin met with Tim Durant, an old friend, confidant, roommate and sportsman. According to Durant, Chaplin was bewildered by the Los Angeles he came back to as an old, uncertain, rheumy-eyed man. Chaplin would look out, but didn’t seem to recognize the beaches at Santa Monica, where in the old days Marion Davies would hire a bus and run down to the beach at night and light a fire and hunt grunion with Charlie and Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino till dawn. One day he turned to Durant to shake his hand, and tears came to his eyes. “Tim, we were pals, weren’t we?” Chaplin asked. “And we did have fun, didn’t we? And it’s all gone now, isn’t it?”

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The Films of 1910 at the Linwood Dunn Theater

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

HOLLYWOOD EVENTS

A Century Ago: The Films of 1910 – Refining the One-Reeler

 

 

 

Monday, November 8, at 7:30 p.m.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

 

Linwood Dunn Theater
1313 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90028

  

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates the year 1910 and its developmental contributions to motion pictures with a program of selected films in “A Century Ago: The Films of 1910.” The program will spotlight evolving cinematic storytelling methods as filmmakers moved away from earlier “stagebound” film presentations, even as they were forced to cram as much story material as possible into the newly standardized length of one reel, or about 15 minutes.

 

“A Century Ago: The Films of 1910” will include an early D.W. Griffith Civil War film “The House with Closed Shutters”; Vitagraph’s “Jack Fat and Jim Slim at Coney Island” featuring John Bunny; “The Actor’s Children,” the first film of the New Rochelle-based Thanhouser Company; the Selig Company’s production of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”; Essanay’s “Aviation at Los Angeles, Calif.,” and surprises galore. Most prints will be in 35mm and are drawn from the collections of the Academy Film Archive, the Library of Congress, George Eastman House, the Museum of Modern Art and the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

 

Presented on a 1909 hand-cranked Power’s Model 6 Cameragraph motion picture machine restored and operated by Joe Rinaudo. Featuring live musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla.

 

Tickets:   $5.00 GeneralAdmision/$3.00 Academy members and students with I.D.; Limit 2 at the discounted price. Tickets available in person at the Academy Box Office at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Bevery Hills, CA 90211-1907. A standby line will form on the day of the event, and standby numbers will be assigned starting at approximately 5:30 p.m. Any available tickets will be distributed shortly before the program begins. Ticketholders should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the event to ensure a seat in the theaterAll seating is unreserved.

Directions, Parking & Theater Policies

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Kevin Brownlow to get Honorary Oscar

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

ACADEMY NEWS

Film preservationist, Kevin Brownlow to receive Honorary Academy Award; Francis Ford Coppola gets Thalberg Award

 

 

Kevin Brownlow (Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.)

 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present honorary awards to British film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow; French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard, who made his feature directorial debut 50 years ago with “Breathless”; and veteran actor Eli Wallach, whose credits include “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.

 

The film academy’s Board of Governors also voted Monday to present Francis Ford Coppola, director and producer of “The Godfather,” among other films, with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

 

The awards will be presented at the academy’s second annual Governors Awards dinner Nov. 13 at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center.

 

To read more, click here to check out today’s article at  the Alt Film Guide

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Lost silent films found

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

FILM HISTORY

Long-Lost Silent Films Return to America

 

 

 

 A scene from “Why Husbands Flirt” (1918), one of some 75 silent movies, found in a New Zealand archive, being returned to the United States.

 

By Dave Kehr
New York Times
June 7, 2010

 

A late silent feature directed by John Ford, a short comedy directed by Mabel Normand, a period drama starring Clara Bow and a group of early one-reel westerns are among a trove of long-lost American films recently found in the New Zealand Film Archive.

 

Some 75 of these movies, chosen for their historical and cultural importance, are in the process of being returned to the United States under the auspices of the National Film Preservation Foundation, the nonprofit, charitable affiliate of the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation Board. (This writer is a member of the board, and has served on grant panels for the foundation, though none related to the current project.) Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s minister for arts, culture and heritage, is expected to announce the discovery and the repatriation officially this week.

 

The films came to light early in 2009, when Brian Meacham, a preservationist for the Los Angeles archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, dropped in on colleagues at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington during a vacation.

 

Click here to continue reading this New York Times article

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Farrah Fawcett’s memory

Monday, March 8th, 2010

TRIBUTES

Farrah Fawcett’s memorial omitted by the Academy

 

 

 By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

My mother taught me that if you make a mistake, own up to it, make it right if you can, and then move on. Obviously the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences believes otherwise. However they admit that the omission of Farrah Fawcett in their memorial at this years Oscar ceremonies was not an error.

 

“I would not say that it was an oversight,” Leslie Unger, spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told E! News. “No matter how carefully and how conscientiously people address who is included, there are people who just simply can’t be.”

 

I agree, it is impossible to include every entertainment personality that has passed on during the previous year. But some inclussions to me seem to be a no-brainer — and Farrah Fawcett is one of them.

 

I’m the first to admit that I was not a huge fan of Charlie’s Angels — but I get it. But once Farrah left and moved into television and film, I became an admirer — The Burning Bed (1984), Extremities (1986), Poor Little Rich Girl (1987) all cemented her place in film history. And her fight to beat the cancer that finally took her life earned her the admiration of people around the world.

 

The Academy can’t be shocked by today’s reaction to their oversight —  they had to know some kind of response would be forthcoming. Farrah’s longtime companion, Ryan O’Neal said of the omission:

 

“Farrah was a member of the Academy for over 40 years and we could not believe she did not get a mention. It was a terrible decision and very hurtful,” he said. O’Neal added that he and his daughter Tatum O’Neal plan to write to the Academy asking for an explanation. 

 

Others shared the disappointment. Oscar winner, Jane Fonda wrote, “Where was Farrah Fawcett? She should have been included.”

 

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote via Twitter: “Major fail. … No Farrah in the memorial. They have a whole lot of ‘splaining to do.”

 

But according to Ms. Unger, no apology or explanation is forthcoming. That’s okay. I have a feeling that by the end of the week, Ms. Unger will be forgotten, but Farrah will endure in the memories of her fans for years to come. In any case, click below for a brief photo tribute. Rest in peace, Angel!

 

 

 

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Oscar’s arrival in Hollywood

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

TODAY IN HOLLYWOOD

Oscar arrives at the Kodak Theatre

 

 

This morning in Hollywood, Oscar is gently lowered and will be placed on his pedastal in time for next Sunday’s 82nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony

 

 

The spectator’s stand is empty now but by this time next week it will be filled with fans waiting to see their favorite nominee’s arrival for the Academy Awards ceremony at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre

 

 (PHOTOS: Allan R. Ellenberger)

The Hollywood Sign awaits Oscar’s arrival

 

ACADEMY AWARD(S)®, OSCAR(S)®, OSCAR NIGHT® and OSCAR® statuette design mark are the registered trademarks and service marks, and the OSCAR® statuette the copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Academy Announces Governors Awards

Friday, September 11th, 2009

ACADEMY NEWS

Bacall, Corman, Calley and Willis: Newest Oscar recipients a diverse bunch

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Lauren Bacall

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The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences knows you can’t keep a secret in this town, so it  announced the honorees of its first-ever Governors Awards event as soon as voting by the board of governors was finished about 11 p.m. Thursday.

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Three deserving people, Lauren Bacall, cinematographer Gordon Willis and producer Roger Corman, were selected to receive honorary awards, meaning the Oscar statuette that has eluded each of them for a lifetime. Producer and veteran studio executive John Calley will receive the Irving G. Thalberg award, which is presented for excellence in producing and was last given to Dino De Laurentiis in 2001. No Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award will be presented — Jerry Lewis got it in February.

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Click here to continue reading

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Robert Cushman Obituary

Friday, July 17th, 2009

OBITUARY

Robert Cushman dies at 62; photograph curator for film industry’s library

 

Robert Cushman and Allison Francis

Robert Cushman and Allison Francis at her recent wedding in January
(Courtesy Michael and Allison Francis)

 

The director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Margaret Herrick Library says he had ‘an encyclopedic knowledge of movies that could not be matched.’

 

By Susan King
Los Angeles Times
July 17, 2009

 

Robert Cushman, photograph curator for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, has died. He was 62.

 

Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Robert Cushman

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Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar…

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

FILM HISTORY

Hattie McDaniel: Equality 41 Years in the Mud

 

Hattie McDaniel and Fay Bainter

 Hattie McDaniel and Fay Bainter

 

By Tom Gregory
The Huffington Post

 

The article that follows is a rerun of a piece I wrote in HuffPo over a year ago. The Academy is still unwavering in its choice not to reissue Howard University McDaniel’s statuette. At this historic time, I hope the Academy will finally do the right thing. — Tom Gregory



Today, more than any day ever before, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is poised on the brink of a crisis of conscience.

 

Hattie McDaniel is best known for her portrayal of “Mammy” in 1939’s Gone with the Wind. She was born in Kansas in 1895, the same year Booker T. Washington delivered his famous “Atlanta Compromise” address. One hundred and thirteen African Americans were officially reported lynched in 1895.    (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)

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Oscar Nominees List…

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

AWARDS 

Nominees for the 81st Academy Awards

 

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

 

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)
  • Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
  • Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)
  • Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
  • Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)
  • Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)
  • Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)
  • Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)
  • Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)
  • Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)
  • Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
  • Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)
  • Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
  • Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

 

(Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)

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