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Arthur Carrington Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 15th, 2012
2012
Nov 15

OBITUARY

Arthur Carrington, former child star who appeared twice with Bette Davis, dies at 76

 

Arthur Carrington

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Arthur Carrington, a one-time child actor who appeared twice with Bette Davis in That Certain Woman (1937) and The Corn is Green, died on Wednesday morning of bladder cancer.

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In the Bette Davis film, That Certain Woman (1937) co-starring Henry Fonda, Davis has a child who appears at two different ages over the course of the film. The elder child was played by Dwayne Day (his only film according to imdb), however Jackie Merrick as an infant was played by one year-old Arthur Carrington.

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Arthur Carrington is probably not a name that film historians can rattle off a bio for, however in his own small way, he contributed to film history.

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Carrington was born to Hiram and Pearl Carrington on April 20, 1936 in Willow Brook (near Compton), California. He began appearing in films through his cousin Dawn Bender, who, the same year he appeared in That Certain Woman, was cast as the infant daughter of Kay Francis in the Warner Bros. film, Confession (1937). Bender later appeared in small roles in such films as Till We Meet Again (1944), A Song to Remember (1945) and The Actress (1953). Her last film was the classic, Teenagers From Outer Space (1959). However, she is probably best known for her appearances on radio, specifically for the role of Margaret Barbour on the radio drama, One Man’s Family.

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Other family members also had bits in films. His sister Marilyn had a small role in the classic, The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Two other cousins, Bill and Carol Roush also appeared in films.

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Arthur Carrington and Bette Davis

One year-old Arthur Carrington with Bette Davis in That Certain Woman (1937)

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Carrington received the role as the infant Jackie Merrick in That Certain Woman when a casting call went out and he was placed in a line-up with several other babies. Director Edmund Goulding, walking back and forth, finally proclaimed him as the “most beautiful” of the bunch and a career was born.

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Bette Davis and Arthur Carrington

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Of course Carrington remembered nothing about the film or of Bette Davis. However, his mother told him that Davis came to her and asked if she would consider letting her adopt Arthur. Mrs. Carrington, who politely turned her down, felt that Davis evidently fell in love with Arthur and thought the family was poor and could use the money. That wasn’t the case.

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Bette Davis and Arthur Carrington

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There were some films he appeared in that he remembers nothing about. There are memories of meeting the Lone Ranger and getting to hold his gun. At some point he must have appeared in a Randolph Scott film because his mother had some harsh words about the actor. “She said that Randolph Scott was the biggest idiot and never knew his lines,” Carrington recalled. He didn’t know why she felt so strongly.

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A year following his stint in That Certain Woman, Carrington was set to appear in a Clark Gable film – presumably Test Pilot (1938) with Myrna Loy. Gable wanted to make sure that Arthur would feel comfortable and carried him around the set and showed him the planes. Little Art clearly embarrassed his mother at one point when the two year-old complained about Gables bad breath.

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Regardless, things didn’t quite work out when Arthur came down with Scarlet Fever and the set had to be shut down until it was determined the illness did not spread. Carrington recovered but lost the part.

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Carrington was unimpressed with his film appearances as a child. When asked about it, he remembered very little until  his memory was jogged and then would get some nuggets. His mother Pearl, who died in 1998, had all the stories. “My mother was the one you should have talked to,” Carrington said. “She was very much a people person and enjoyed meeting all the actors that I worked with.”

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The Corn is Green

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He recalled that his mother was not a typical “stage mother” and never pushed him to do anything. This point was proven when he appeared in one of his last films, The Corn is Green (1945), once again with Bette Davis. As an eight year-old playing one of the many students, director Irving Rapper wanted to give Arthur a line.

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So his mother took him aside and asked: “Do you think you’d like to say a line?”

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“No, I don’t think I would,” Arthur replied. So that was the end of it. He said a ‘stage mother’ would have went berserk.

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Summing up his career Carrington said: “Working as a child in films was a great opportunity if you had the talent. I just wasn’t that interested.”

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As a teenager, he sometimes tried to impress his friends with his former career. “I once told a buddy that I was in The Corn is Green with Bette Davis,” Carrington recalled. “Evidently he didn’t believe me or wasn’t that impressed because he just rolled his eyes and said, ‘Yeah the corn sure is green.’”

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Arthur and Willeta Carrington and Shotzie

Art Carrington with his wife Willeta and their dog Shotsie

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Carrington worked as a Long Beach postal worker and in his retirement, spent much of his time traveling across the country with his wife, visiting celebrity graves. Carrington is survived by his wife Willeta, his two children, Debra and Arthur, Jr. and two grandchildren.

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Correction 0n the burial location: It will be held Wednesday, November 21 @ 12:30pm at Cypress Forest Lawn Cemetery, 4471 Lincoln Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630.

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Fire at the Normandie Village Apartments

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 3rd, 2011
2011
Jan 3

READERS REQUEST

The Normandie Village Apartments

 

 

The Sunset Strip — where the Normandie Village Apartments

once stood near the upper left part of the photo

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

I love the challenge when a reader requests information about an old landmark or some obscure Hollywood institution. That happened the other day when Patricia asked about an old apartment complex she lived in as a child called The Normandie Village:

 

“Hi, I am trying to find out about a complex of Hollywood bungalows from the late 40′s early 50′s called Normandy or Nomandie Village. I believe it was on, or near Sunset Blvd. It cannot have been expensive because we lived there when my family was very broke. There was a fire, probably in 1953 or 1954? I was only 4 or 5, but I remember it, and that a neighbor and I ended up in a photo in the Los Angeles Times. I doubt that the complex survived at all, but I would love to see any old photos, and just to know the street address it was at!”  — Patricia

 

Well, when she mentioned the Nomandie Village, I knew exactly what she was referring to – a jumble of peaked-roof French Provincial apartments that at one time drove up its chimneys and shingles from the cascading hillside on the Sunset Strip. I couldn’t find any real photographs of the Normandie, which stood at 8474 Sunset Boulevard, but discovered that a fire did occur there in 1955. And there along with the story, just as she said, was a photo of two little girls – and one of them was named Patricia.

 

Built in the 1920s, the Normandie Village competed with the Garden of Allah, farther east on the strip, for Hollywood-type history. In the apartments clustered amid vine-covered pathways that made the Normandie Village resemble medieval suburbia of Marseilles or Toulon, great stars of silent movies and the new “talkies” lived, partied and nervously waited out “between pictures” idleness.

 

There are many stories that circulated about the Normandie but no one can know for sure if some of them are true. One story claims that actor John Barrymore sent an architect to Europe to study French Provincial architecture and that he designed the Normandie Village’s high-peaked buildings as replicas of what he saw on his tour.

 

Over the years, the Normandie was home to many film stars. Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, did his last writing at the Village. Richard Dix, an aspiring young actor, checked in there about 1924 when he arrived from New York to seek employment in films.

 

Myrna Loy and Billie Dove, two of the Hollywood’s film queens, lived there. Jimmy Stewart once recalled in a Saturday Evening Post story how he and Henry Fonda lived at the Normandie Village in their early Hollywood days.

 

Not only was the Village the scene of some Babylonian bashes, but nearby, according to unofficial history, Charlie Chaplin had a private “key club” for close friends.

 

The fire that Patricia referred to coincidentally occurred in the early morning hours of January 4, 1955 – 56 years ago tomorrow! A cigarette burning in the upholstery of a garaged car was blamed for the fire that destroyed the garage, ten parked cars and 24 of the 55-units of the Sunset Strip apartment building. The fire ravaged the rear half of the Normandie, but all the tenants, including about 25 children, escaped the fires without injury.

 

 

Of those 25 children, were Heather Harzley and Patricia Ann Deberck. Like the other children who had escaped, they clutched their most prized belongings. Someone asked Patricia Ann where she lived. “We lived in Apartment 21,” she said somberly, “but it isn’t there anymore.” The following photo appeared in the Los Angeles Times, just as Patricia remembered.

 

 

The Normandie Village was inhabited for another seven years until it was sold in 1962 to make way for a proposed 22-story hotel to be called the Hollywood Thunderbird. However, the hotel never happened and the Normandie stood vacant for another eight years until it was finally razed for the Sunset Americana, a residential hotel which was built in 1973. I haven’t had a chance to check out the sight currently, but a trip to Google Maps once again shows a vacant lot at the address (8474 Sunset Blvd.).

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Stars Paid to Smoke…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 25th, 2008
2008
Sep 25

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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