Posts Tagged ‘Gary Cooper’

Miriam Hopkins update

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel, to be published by University Press of Kentucky

 

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UPDATE: My upcoming biography, Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel, to be published on January 5, 2018 by the University Press of Kentucky, is available NOW for pre-order at 30% off the cover price thru June 30, 2017 at UPK’s website! Please use discount code FS30 when ordering. Thank you.

 

 By Allan R. Ellenberger

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After tens years of research, interviews and writing, on Friday, I was notified that my biography of actress Miriam Hopkins will be published by the University Press of Kentucky as part of their Screen Classics series. The people of UPK have been great and I look forward to working with them

Miriam Hopkins (1902-1972), a top star during Hollywood’s Golden Age, was a complex, independent-minded woman decades ahead of her time. A hard-working (and highly demanding) professional, Hopkins was also a sexually daring, self-educated intellectual, who happened to be a firm believer in liberal causes

She had a reputation as one of the screen’s most difficult and temperamental actresses. A close friend, Tennessee Williams, worked with Hopkins and after an initially difficult period, he accepted her extremes. He once described her extremes as “morning mail and morning coffee,” and at other times she was like “hat-pin jabbed in your stomach. The quintessence of the female, a really magnificent bitch.

Hopkins was exceptionally smart; one who never let anyone find out how smart she was until it was too late. After many years of research, I was amazed at her intellect and temperament, which would erupt unexpectedly and disappear as quickly. Sometimes her demanding mother would trigger it, but in most cases, she was fighting for her career—or so she thought

Throughout the 1930’s, the freewheeling Hopkins was a unique case, remaining a top Hollywood star at no less than four studios: Paramount, RKO, Goldwyn and Warner Bros. And no matter where she worked, in her quest for better opportunities, Hopkins fearlessly tackled the studios’ powers-that-be, from the venerated Samuel Goldwyn to the irascible Jack Warner

Hopkins’ biography offers numerous stories—some humorous, some ugly—about her countless battles with co-workers on the set of her plays and films. Whatever drove her—be it ambition, insecurity, or something altogether different, she created conflict with her fellow actors. She was either loved or hated; there was rarely anything in-between. And to say that Hopkins was “difficult and temperamental” would be an understatement. She was Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway and Jane Fonda rolled into one

Having said that, whenever she trusted the work of her director and co-stars, she was an ideal team player, but if she did not, life for them was not worth living. If rewriting screenplays, directing her fellow actors and her directors, fighting with producers and the studio’s front office was necessary, so be it

But in Hopkins’ mind, she was never temperamental. “Proof of that is that I made four pictures with Willie Wyler, who is a very demanding director,” she once said. “I made two with Rouben Mamoulian, who is the same. Three with Ernst Lubitsch, such a dear man. When you are asked to work again with such directors, you cannot be temperamental.

In 1940, she made theater history by starring in Tennessee Williams’ first produced play, Battle of Angels. In the beginning, there were problems, but they soon came to terms. “Difficult? I guess so,” Williams reasoned. “But not with me. She was every Southern divinity you could imagine. Smart and funny and elegant, and I kept looking for her in Joanne [Woodward], and Carrie Nye and Diane Ladd, but there was no one like her. No one. I will hear nothing bad of Miriam Hopkins.

Ironically, I started working on Miriam Hopkins’ life story because of Bette Davis, who was a favorite. I enjoyed watching Hopkins clash with the indomitable Warner Bros. star in their two films together: The Old Maid and Old Acquaintance. There are stories about their dynamic real-life feud, and years later, the image of a post-stroke Davis ranting on television on how demanding her former co-star could be. For her part, Hopkins denied the bad blood between them. That intrigued me. She would say, “Yes, I know the legend is that Bette Davis and I were supposed to have had a feud. Utter rubbish. Bette and I got along fine. I’d love to make another picture with her.” Even more rubbish

I began watching Hopkins’ other films: the ones in which she collaborated with directors, Ernst Lubitsch, Rouben Mamoulian, and William Wyler, in addition to her lesser-known Paramount fare. It was then that I discovered Miriam Hopkins in command of her sexuality. Whether as a dance-hall prostitute in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), a participant in a ménage a trois in Design for Living (1933), or a rape victim in the scandalous The Story of Temple Drake (1933), she proved that sex was more than a three-letter word: at times, it could be raw and terrifying; at others, it could be sensual, sophisticated fun

In 1932, columnist Cal York chose Miriam Hopkins as the “best bet for stardom,” ranking her above Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Sylvia Sidney and Helen Hayes. York wasn’t off the mark. Still, Hopkins temperament would hinder her rise to “stardom.” My biography on the actress examines her career decline and her several attempts at a comeback

In 1935, she made motion picture history by starring in the title role of the first all-Technicolor feature film, Becky Sharp, based on Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. For her performance, she received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination (she lost to—who else?—her future archrival Bette Davis)

Chronicled will be Hopkins’ remarkable film career along with the importance of her lasting legacy on the Broadway stage. Regrettably, her widely acclaimed live performances survive only in the recollections of those who witnessed them. Thus, what remain of Hopkins’ art are her films

Eventually, Hopkins appeared in 36 films, 40 stage plays, guest appearances in the early days of television, and on countless radio shows. In these media, she worked with Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper, Jane Fonda, Edgar Bergen, Bing Crosby, William Powell, Sally Field, Henry Fonda, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Olivia de Havilland, Peter Lorre, Merle Oberon, Claudette Colbert, Ray Milland, Elizabeth Montgomery, Coleen Dewhurst, Robert Redford and dozens more

Her friendships were as celebrated as well, but instead of actors, Hopkins hung around with writers and intellectuals such as writers Theodore Dreiser, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, and, of course, Tennessee Williams

In her love life, she was independent-minded and just as discriminating. She would have four husbands and dozens of lovers; most were writers including Bennett Cerf, William Saroyan, and John Gunther. Hopkins, once again ahead of her time, was a single mother. In 1932, she adopted a baby boy, being one of the first Hollywood stars to do so and starting a trend for such adoptions

She was an avid reader, sometimes a writer herself, a lover of poetry, and a patron of the arts. Over the years, her political beliefs vacillated from the far right to the far left. She held positions in political organizations that had the FBI tracking her actions for almost four decades, marking her as a perceived “communist sympathizer.

She was one of Hollywood’s brainiest women—yet, she was absurdly superstitious. A believer in the occult, she would not accept film or stage roles, move to a new home, or take long trips without consulting a psychic

Despite all her eccentricities, Hopkins proved that she was an accomplished performer who happened to have her own set of rules and her own personal demons. Although she was aware of being a part of film history—how could Margaret Mitchell’s personal choice to play Scarlet O’Hara not have been—she was not sentimental about her existence or her career. She kept no scrapbooks, clippings, or photographs. It was irrelevant to document or discuss her past

But no matter. This first-ever Hopkins biography will provide the real, complex, and at times a contradictory portrait of a woman who had her faults, and idiosyncrasies, but who was a major (and fearless) professional achiever—one who could be generous, gracious, and selfless

Once you read about the ambiguous, fascinatingly larger than life character that was Miriam Hopkins, you may agree with Tennessee Williams that she truly was a “magnificent bitch.”

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That Wonderful Mother of Mine…

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

 HOLIDAYS

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Here are the Mothers who stood behind the stars of the 1920s–the women whose love and understanding guided them to success

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Charles “Buddy” Rogers and Maude Moll Rogers

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Maude Rogers, the mother of Charles “Buddy” Rogers, was born in Olathe, Kansas. Her father was a blacksmith, treasurer of the county and hotel owner. She had one sister and two brothers. After graduation from high school, she was employed in the town post office. Later she was organist in one of the Olathe churches. Her marriage to Bert Rogers, editor of the town paper, took place on Christ Day in 1900. Mrs. Rogers died in Olathe, Kansas in 1960.

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Jean Arthur and her mother, Johana Nelson Greene

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Johana Nelson Greene, the mother of Jean Arthur, was born in Dakota Territory before it became South Dakota. She spent her early days in the midst of the adventures of the early West. Mrs. Greene always wanted to be a singer but the opportunity never came along. She lived on her father’s farm and married H. S. Greene, a photographer. His business took him to New York and various parts of the East.

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Gary Cooper and his mother, Alice Brazier Cooper

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Alice Brazier Cooper, the mother of Gary Cooper, was born in Kent, England, and went to a church school. With her three borthers and one sister, she spent much of her earlier childhood on or near the sea. After graduation, she went to Helena, Montana on a visit. She had planned to make a tour of the world but she met Judge Charles Henry Cooper and married him.

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Ramon Novarro and his mother, Leonor Gavilan Samaniego

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Leonor Gavilan Samaniego, the mother of Ramon Novarro, was born in the town of Leon, Mexico. There Ramon’s mother was educated and there she spent her childhood. When she was twenty-two years old, she married Mariano N. Samaniego, a dentist. She became the mother of twelve boys and girls, ten of whom survived. She died in Hollywood in 1949.

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William Haines and his mother, Laura Matthews Haines

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Laura Matthews Haines, the mother of William Haines, was born in Staunton, Virginia. When she was seventeen, she married George A. Haines. The newlyweds made their home in Staunton, where they remained until moving to Richmond in 1918. In 1929, they joined their son in Hollywood.

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Richard Arlen and his mother, Mary Clark Van Mattemore

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Mary Clark Van Mattemore, the mother of Richard Arlen, was born on a farm near St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of a road builder. In the family were two brothers and two sisters. Her marriage to James Van Mattemore took place shortly after her graduation and continued to live in St. Paul.

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Claudette Colbert and her mother, Jeanne Colbert

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Jeanne Colbert, the mother of Claudette Colbert, was born in Paris, France and was an artist before her marriage. Several years after Claudette was born, the family came to America. The Colbert’s lived in New York.

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Joan Crawford and her mother, Anna Johnson La Sueur

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Anna Johnson La Sueur, the mother of Joan Crawford, was born in Medora, Illinois. After her marriage she made her home in Kansas City. She was the mother two children, Lucille (Joan) and a son, Hal. She died in Hollywood in 1958.

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The Stars Happiest Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2009

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Classic stars recall their happiest yule

 

 

Claudette Colbert (above) poses on Vine Street next to her image emblazoned on a Christmas decoration in the heart of Hollywood. The two tall buildings on the right in the background are at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Just like anyone else, to film stars there is always just one Christmas that stands out above all others. In December 1932, several stars were asked about their most memorable Christmas.

 

The previous Christmas for Neil Hamilton competed with one when he was seven years old: “What with a new baby and a new house and the baby’s first Christmas tree, last year was hard to cap,” said Hamilton. “But for sheer unadulterated happiness I must remember the gorgeous Indian suit they gave me when I was seven years old. I strut when I remember it to this day. I was the reincarnation of Sitting Bull.”

 

James Dunn said a pool table presented to him when he was 14 still stood out as the most stylish event of his life. On that Christmas morning he invited all the boys in the neighborhood to play pool and they were still at it long past bedtime.

 

It was a Christmas bicycle that stood out for Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. He was eight years of age and had been demanding a bike from Santa since he was five. He’s almost given up hope when the family weakened. “It was a Rolls-Royce to me,” Fairbanks said.

 

Bette Davis claimed that no ecstasy since had surpassed the Christmas on which she acquired a huge Teddy Bear, handed to her from the very top of a big tree. “I have loved that Teddy all my life and still him,” she said.

 

It was a gorgeous box of paints, brushes, palettes all complete including a real artist’s smock, which made Claudette Colbert ecstatic when she was a small girl. She had always loved drawing and that Christmas saw the family’s recognition of her artistic yearnings.

 

Gary Cooper said the Christmas in which he and his family were snowed in on a cattle ranch in Montana stands our as his sweetest. No turkey, no shopping — a blizzard cut them off from everything. But the family decided to make their own fun and made presents by themselves out of any old odds and ends. “The least expensive and the jolliest Christmas I ever hope to enjoy,” he said.

 

A pair of rubber boots and a sled marked the most exciting Christmas for William Collier, Jr., who until that time, had to be content with a stocking encasing an orange, nuts and popcorn. He was nine years of age when the miracle occurred. And it was Marian Nixon’s very first watch, waiting on the breakfast table, which made one Christmas forever notable for her. In the same way a coaster-brake bike with a fancy headlight presented when he was 12 years old, marked one hilarious Christmas for John Boles.

 

Marie Dressler remembered a certain Christmas fifteen years earlier when, because her dearest friend was in the hospital, she took a tree, goodies and all the packages to the hospital between the matinee and the evening performance, and Christmassed at the there.

 

Joan Crawford, without hesitation, said, “Oh, Christmas 1925. I hadn’t seen my people in Kansas City for so long. I had just signed my contract with MGM and they paid my fare to the coast via Kansas City. So I went home in triumph — the biggest thrill of my life.”

 

It was 1919 that meant everything to Ramon Novarro. After a bus-boy job in New York, he was back in Los Angeles with his family and was celebrating his very first picture role. “We had an utterly perfect Mexican Christmas,” he remembered.

 

But to Maurice Chevalier, escaping from a German prison camp, rejoining  his mother in Paris and receiving medical attention for his wounds — and the glorious award of the Croix de Guerre made Christmas 1918, the most memorable one for him.

 

Katherine Hepburn recalled an ecstatic Christmas when her father built her a little theater of her own in the back yard when she was about 12.

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Edwin Carewe Marked at Hollywood Forever

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Director Edwin Carewe’s grave is marked after more than 69 years

 

Edwin Carewe (with megaphone) directing a scene as Mabel Normand looks on

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Recently at Hollywood Forever, I discovered that the grave of director Edwin Carewe had a grave stone installed after more than 69 years of being unmarked. I don’t know who marked him but it is always great news when someone that has been forgotten finally gets identified with a marker. The director, who discovered Dolores Del Rio and many other famous stars, died in Hollywood on January 22, 1940 from an apparent heart attack.

 

Edwin Carewe was born Jay Fox in Gainesville, Texas on March 5, 1883. He attended the University of Texas and the University of Missouri majoring in dramatics. Early in his career when his flair for acting was expressed, a fellow New York actor suggested that he change his name, thinking that Fox was not good professionally. So he took the name Edwin from his favorite actor, Edwin Booth, and for his last name chose to use that of a character that he was playing in stock.

 

Carewe’s first stage experience was with the Dearborn Stock Company and he made his debut on Broadway with Chauncey Olcott. He appeared in plays with such stage actors as Otis Skinner, Rose Coghlan and Laurette Taylor in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles. Later, he entered motion pictures in 1912 with the Lubin Company.

 

 

Ramona

 

 

As a director, he produced such films as Resurrection (1927), Ramona (1928), Revenge (1928), Evangeline (1929), and The Spoilers (1930), winning fame for its realistic fight scenes. Besides Del Rio, he encouraged the talents of Warner Baxter, Wallace Beery, Francis X. Bushman and Gary Cooper. His brother, Finis Fox (1884-1949), wrote many of his scenarios.

 

Over his career, Carewe directed films for Metro, Paramount, First National, Fox and others and at one time had his own lot, Tec-Art, on Melrose Avenue, opposite Paramount, where he made his biggest successes.

 

In 1925, he and actress Mary Aikin (whom he also discovered), eloped to Mexico. There he met Jaime Del Rio and his wife Dolores. He suggested that she return with him to Hollywood for a screen career. Carewe helped Dolores Del Rio become one of the biggest stars in silent films.

 

At one time Carewe was considered a millionaire. His percentage on Ramona and Resurrection, both with Del Rio, was close to $400,000. However he lost most of his fortune in a Texas garbage disposal deal.

 

Carewe’s health began to fail in July 1939 when he had a heart attack while driving his car and was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Not wishing to remain in the hospital, his doctor’s would only allow him to leave if someone was constantly with him. He agreed to move to 5603 Lexington Avenue in Hollywood into an apartment across the hall from his nephew, Winston Platt.

 

 

5603 Lexington Ave., Hollywood

Edwin Carewe died in his apartment here at 5603 Lexington Avenue, Hollywood. 

 

 

On January 22, 1940, a doctor was summoned to Carewe’s apartment and administered a sedative to him around 4 a.m. Carewe fell asleep and Platt stretched out on a couch in the next room. At 8 a.m. Platt was awakened and found his uncle dead.

 

Funeral services were conducted at the Pierce Brothers Mortuary (across from Hollywood Cemetery) by Rev. Willsie Martin of the Wilshire Blvd. Methodist Episcopal Church. More than 200 of Carewe’s friends gathered to pay their final farewell.

 

Among those who attended were Dolores Del Rio, garbed in black, who sat in front with her husband, Cedric Gibbons, the art director at MGM. She sobbed throughout the rites.

 

On the whole, the chapel was filled with property men, electricians, cameramen, carpenters, grips, painters, other technicians and friends who made up the director’s crews when he was filming. Others who were present included Charles Murray, Guido Orlando, Rex Lease, Eddie Silton, William Farnum, Ivy Wilson, Wilford Lucas, James Gordon, Hank Mann, Roland Drew, George Renault, John Le Roy Johnston, John Boles and John Hintz.

 

In the ceremony and eulogy, Dr. Martin touched briefly on his pioneer endeavors in films and his making of Are We Civilized? (1934), his final film.

 

“He never failed a friend, he never carried bitterness in his heart and he was generous to a fault – a great attribute,” Martin said. “He was a man who never quit, a test of a thorough bred.”

 

Besides his widow, Mary Aiken, Carewe left five children, Sally Ann, William Edwin, Carol Lee, Rita and Mary Jane and two brothers, Finis and Wallace Fox.

 

After his interment at Hollywood Cemetery in 1940, Carewe’s grave went unmarked – until recently when an unknown benefactor placed a stone there.

  

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 Edwin Carewe’s new grave marker at Hollywood Forever

 

Edwin Carewe’s grave is located in Section One, Grave 471, in the northeast part of the cemetery, very near to the east wall, in the same area as Flora Finch.

 

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Stars Paid to Smoke…

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

FILM HISTORY

Hollywood ‘paid fortune to smoke’

 

 

Tobacco firms paid huge amounts for endorsements from the stars of Hollywood’s “Golden Age”.

 

BBC News
September 25, 2008

 

Industry documents released following anti-smoking lawsuits reveal the extent of the relationship between tobacco and movie studios.

 

One firm paid more than $3m in today’s money in one year to stars.

 

Researchers writing in the Tobacco Control journal said “classic” films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s still helped promote smoking today.

  

Virtually all of the biggest names of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were involved in paid cigarette promotion, according to the University of California at San Francisco researchers.

 

They obtained endorsement contracts signed at the times to help them calculate just how much money was involved.

 

According to the research, stars prepared to endorse tobacco included Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, Bette Davis and Betty Grable.   (click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)

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