Posts Tagged ‘Allan Ellenberger’

My interview on The Gravecast Show

Friday, April 6th, 2012

INTERVIEW

The Gravecast Show: Interview With Allan Ellenberger

 

 

 

Recently I was interviewed by Josh Perry the host of The Gravecast Show Along with his cohost, author and blogger Steve Goldstein, we talked about our mutual interest in celebrity graves, and he also asked about my books, my blogs and cemeteries and graves in general. Please check it out, I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW WITH JOSH AND STEVE

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Anita Page Tribute…

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

A TRIBUTE

Anita Page – You were meant for me

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger 

 

Anita Page, the last great silent film star from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, would have celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday. Some argue whether she was a star, an actress or leading lady —  to me she was all of the above and more. Anita was the first real actress that I had a chance to know personally.

 

 

 

Me and Anita at USC (Michael Schwibs photo)

 

SOME MEMORIES AND PHOTOS

 

I first met Anita Page in 1993 when I was researching my biography on Ramon Novarro, whom she costarred with in the 1929 film, The Flying Fleet. Her husband had passed away two years earlier, so to keep busy she came out of retirement and began appearing at film festivals and other functions.

 

At the time she was living in a retirement center in Burbank. Her good friend, actor Randal Malone, set up the interview. Anita was very sweet and accommodating to my questions. She had suffered a stroke after her husbands death which affected her short term memory. Her long-term memory was still intact, however she sometimes forgot that she had told a story and would repeat it. Other than being a little frail, that was the only noticeable evidence from her stroke.

 

Only once during the interview did she hesitate repeating information about Novarro. It was about his height. Evidently Novarro was not tall – probably about 5’8” – so he sometimes wore lifts in his shoes depending on his costar. Novarro wanted Anita to appear in the film with him, but the studio felt she was too tall and wanted to use Josephine Dunn instead.

 

Novarro told the executives, “I can always wear lifts in my shoes. Besides, I did a film with Joan Crawford and she’s as tall as Miss Page.” As we know Anita got the job, however, she thought the information about his height might be embarrassing so she asked that I turn off my tape recorder before she would tell the story – which of course I did.

 

I became friends with Anita and Randal that day and over the ensuing years was invited to their homes and to events where Anita was appearing. I also began interviewing her over a period of a year for a proposed book on her career. Whether it was at a noisy restaurant, her home or some other venue, I showed up with a tape recorder and we talked about early Hollywood. During that time she relayed stories about her films and the famous people she worked with and knew.

 

I completed a rough draft of what was to be the text for a coffee table book, but sadly it never came to fruition. I did, however, donate a copy of the unedited manuscript to the Margaret Herrick Library under the title, “Anita Page: You Were Meant For Me,” so future film historians will have access to her stories. The title is from the song by Nacio Herb Brown, her short-lived husband, who wrote it for Broadway Melody (1929) and dedicated it to her.

 

 

Anita with her parents (above), Maude and Marino Pomares. Mrs. Pomares died from cancer at her Manhattan Beach home in May 1943. A few years later her father remarried and he passed away in 1951. They are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. Anita also had a younger brother, Marino, Jr. who died in 1960 from a brain tumor. He was 36.

 

 Anita was Clark Gable’s first leading lady in The Easiest Way (1931)

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Above is a Los Angeles Examiner photo announcing Anita’s first arrival in California on December 7, 1927. She was a protégé of Harry K. Thaw who brought her and another starlet, Susan Hughes to California to make films. While Thaw’s plans failed, Anita (who was known then as Anita Rivers) decided to stay in Hollywood and try to make it on her own. Thaw returned to New York, as did Susan Hughes, who gave up show business.

  

 

 Josephine Dunn, Joan Crawford and Anita Page in Our Moderm Maidens (1929)

 

  

 Anita and me sitting on the steps outside her first Hollywood apartment (Randal Malone photo)

 

When I first interviewed Anita, she talked about her first Hollywood apartment that she shared with her mother. It intrigued me so I went about trying to find it using the phone book. Sure enough, there was a listing for Mrs. Marino Pomares in the 1928 directory – 7566 ½ De Longpre Avenue. Randal and I took Anita to the address for a photo shoot. Unfortunately the tenants were not home so we didn’t get a chance to look inside.

 

 Bessie Love and Anita from Broadway Melody (1929)

 

 

Actress Glenn Close as Norma Desmond and Anita Page (Michale Schwibs photo)

 

When Sunset Boulevard, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical came to Los Angeles, Anita received an invitation to attend. A real silent film actress meets a fictional silent film actress — what great publicity! Randal graciously asked me to attend along with his friend Michael Schwibs. The four of us had the best seats in the house – fourth row center – all compliments of the theatre. The play was breathtaking and the performances top rate. Afterward we went backstage to personally meet the star of production, Glenn Close who played Norma Desmond. Ms Close was still in costume and in character and had a brief conversation with Anita. It was a great experience and Ms Close kindly signed my program. What a night.

  

 

 Reportedly, at one point, Anita received more fan mail than any other actor at MGM except for Garbo

 

 

 

Anita Page

  August 4, 1910 – September 6, 2008

 

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Ramon Novarro Interview

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

RAMON NOVARRO

My interview with the Alternative Film Guide

 

 Ramon Novarro book

 

Recently, author and entertainment blogger, Andre Soares, interviewed me on the occasion of the release of my Ramon Novarro book being released in paperback. The three part interview can be accessed below which will take you to the Alternative Film Guide site. Enjoy!  — Allan R. Ellenberger

 

RAMON NOVARRO – PART I: Q&A WITH AUTHOR ALLAN ELLENBERGER

 

RAMON NOVARRO – PART II: BEST FILMS, REX INGRAM

 

RAMON NOVARRO – PART III: ANITA PAGE, MURDER, LIFE AS A GAY MAN

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Margaret O’Brien’s Stolen Oscar

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Margaret O'Brien and her Oscar

By Allan R. Ellenberger

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 thirties and forties. Previous winners included Mickey Rooney, Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland who was Margaret’s co-star that year.

 

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

Meet Me in St. Louis

Joan Carroll, Lucille Bremmer, Judy Garland, Tom Drake and Margaret O'Brien 
in a scene from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

 

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 applauded Margaret’s 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.”

 Margaret O'Brien and Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis

 

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.

 

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 called and told her that she was dismissed 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 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 would attend memorabilia shows searching for her lost Oscar. Then, in early 1995, a friend saw that Oscar in a catalogue for an upcoming memorabilia auction. Margaret contacted the Academy legal department who acted swiftly in having the Oscar returned.

Margaret O'Brien and Allan Ellenberger

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 since she first received it, the Academy officially returned the stolen Oscar to Margaret O’Brien in a special ceremony at their headquarters in Beverly Hills. Once reunited with her award, Margaret told the attending journalists:

 

“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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The 1930 Census

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

“Celebrities in the 1930 Census”

by Allan R. Ellenberger 

 

My latest book is called, “Celebrities in the 1930 Census,” published by McFarland. The concept of the book is simple — it lists the famous and where they lived on one specific day — April 1, 1930. It is a directory of renowned people from every walk of life. Every branch of the entertainment industry is covered, as are politicians, musicians, sports figures, astronauts, cult figures, criminals, religious leaders, pioneers in various fields, and anyone who achieved any degree of fame for any reason — they’re here. Of course, even with more that 2,200 individual listings, it’s impossible to include everyone. While browsing, you will probably find someone of interest who is missing.

 

 

Celebrities In The 1930 Census: Household Data of 2,265 U.S. Actors, Musicians, Scientists, Athletes, Writers, Politicians and Other Public Figures

 

For more, click on CONTINUE READING…

 

(more…)

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Welcome to My Blog…

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

hopkinsbanner2.jpg

 

Blog. Short for web log, an online, regularly updated journl or newsletter that is readily accessible to the general public by virtue of being posted on a website. Blogs typically report and comment on topics of interest to the author. What follows will be comments of interest to this author, Allan Ellenberger — part of which will be the process in writing a biography of the actress, Miriam Hopkins (above). Please check back regularly for updates and news about what’s going on in my life and the progress of the Miriam Hopkins biography.

 

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