Posts Tagged ‘bessie love’

Hollywood Stars and their Telephones

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

CELEBRITY TRIVIA

Hollywood stars and their telephones

 

  

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Private telephone lines refused to remain private for very long and added to the problems of Hollywood stars who attempted to keep their home life apart from their film careers.

 

At one time, someone, wishing to “have some fun” at the expense of actor Lew Cody, published his private telephone number. The next day the telephone company, unable to handle the calls into the Cody home, rushed an emergency crew to his Beverly Hills house to install a new system.

 

Nils Asther’s private telephone number was given out by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio to a caller who posed as a friend. Before long Asther was deluged with strangers calling him at all hours of the day and night. He had to change his number.

 

Few screen stars had their telephones listed, but when they did it was a “blind” number that led to secretarial offices, a personal telephone always was listed confidentially or under another name and address that could not be traced.

 

John Gilbert had a regular house telephone, but had a private phone in his study which he answered himself. Greta Garbo’s telephone was listed to her housekeeper, who was given the names of persons she expected to call.

 

Ramon Novarro’s home number was under his family name of Samaniego, and Norma Shearer’s home telephone was listed as an address only.

 

If one happened to get Lon Chaney’s number by mistake and asked whose home it was, one would be told: “This is Oxford so-and-so. Who is this, please?” Beyond that one would gain no inkling of the subscriber’s identity.

 

Bessie Love had two telephones, one for her household needs and a private line for herself. William Haines also had a private line, and Buster Keaton’s house had an elaborate extension system so he could pick up the phone wherever he happened to be.

 

All of the private lines had cutoff keys so that a star, leaving the house or retiring for the night, could disconnect the telephone, a no-answer signal informing friends that they were not available.

 

Despite all the privacy precautions, however, the number leak out to salesmen and canvassers and the average life of a private number in Hollywood was estimate at about four months.

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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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Bessie Love in the 1930 Census…

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

THE 1930 CENSUS

Bessie Love

(1898-1986)

 née Juanita Horton

Film Actress

Hank Mahoney in Broadway Melody (1929)

 

 

 

  

 

Havenhurst Apartments

1861 Whitley Avenue

Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California

.

Rent, $125

no Radio

Census taken on April 11, 1930

 

 

HOUSEHOLD RESIDENTS:*
  1. William B. Hawks (head), 29 / Wisconsin / Broker / Stocks & banking.
  2. Bessie L. Hawks [Bessie Love] (wife), 28 / Texas / Actress / Motion pictures.

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* Information includes relationship to head of household, age / place of birth (year of arrival in this country, if applicable) / occupation / industry.

  

The preceeding text is taken from my recent book, Celebrities in the 1930 Census (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2008). This directory provides an extensive listing of household information collected for over 2,265 famous or notorious individuals who were alive during the 1930 United States Census. Please note: The above photographs do not appear in the book.

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