Posts Tagged ‘janet gaynor’

Rollin B. Lane, and a little Hollywood magic

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Rollin B. Lane (Photo courtesy of Ripon College Archives)

While not well-known today, Rollin B. Lane was an early Hollywood resident; an admitted capitalist and philanthropist who donated large sums of money for parks, libraries and orphanages. However, if he is known at all it would be for a street named for his mother, and for the home he built more than a century ago, which is now one of the oldest standing in Hollywood. In 1909, Lane named his home the “Holly Chateau,” but for the past fifty-five years it has been known by its more celebrated name – the Magic Castle. 

Rollin Benjamin Lane was born on May 28, 1854 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the son of Leonard Lane and Olive Pickett. The family home was located on Algoma Street, however, when his parents divorced (or his father deserted them), Rollins and his mother moved to nearby Pickett when he was two years old. His maternal grandparents, Armine and Anna Pickett, were pioneer residents of Pickett and Winnebago county.

Lane attended school at the old district No. 6 building, built on land donated by his grandfather. In 1872, he graduated from Ripon College and later became associate editor of the old Daily Evening Wisconsin in Milwaukee before settling in Redlands, California in the winter of 1886.

In Redlands, he invested in real estate and owned a 17-acre orange grove. With other investors, he established the Union Bank of Redlands, and was its cashier for five years. In 1890, Lane moved to Portland, Oregon, where he organized the Multnomah County Bank, of which he was president for three years before selling his interest in 1895.

In October 1896, Lane married Katherine Azubah Glynn, a teacher, and the author of the fictional, “The Girl from Oshkosh.” Kate was born in March 3, 1864, in Bucktooth, New York to La Fayette Glynn and Mary E. Perry. She was also the great-granddaughter of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the early American naval officer.

Lane, an ardent Republican, hurried to marry Katherine so he could return to California to vote in the presidential election for McKinley. Katherine evidently sympathized and consented to a quick wedding and the couple left immediately for Redlands. There he purchased a house at the head of Center Street.

The Lane’s slowly made their presence known in Hollywood, moving there around 1902, making friends with influential people of the fairly new community. They attended the formal opening of the Hollywood Hotel’s new addition in 1905. It was then that he became acquainted with local real estate icons such as the Whitley’s, Wilcox’s and other Hollywood pioneers.

Meanwhile, Lane continued with his California real estate investments including projects in the San Fernando and San Joaquin Valley’s. In 1907, Lane became a backer of the new community of Corcoran in central California. Founded by H. J. Whitley, who also had investments in Hollywood (Whitley Heights, Whitley Avenue), many of his co-investors were other Hollywood citizens including General H. G. Otis (Los Angeles Times), Arthur Letts (Broadway Department Store), and Dr. Alan Gardner (Gardner Avenue). Much later, Corcoran became the site of the California State Prison, home to a number of notable inmates including the late Charles Manson, Juan Corona and Phil Spector.

Now a resident of Hollywood, Lane began construction in early 1909 on his elegant Holly Chateau at 7001 Franklin Avenue, at the foot of the Hollywood Hills. The original house was designed by the architectural firm of Dennis and Farwell in the French “Chateau” or Gothic Renaissance style and adapted from a residence in Redlands known as “Kimberly Crest” which is now preserved as a house museum.

Holly Chateau, a two-story frame and cement plaster house, had a large basement and finished attic under a mansard roof. The home initially had seventeen rooms including a roof garden and sun parlor. The basement contained a laundry, fruit and storage rooms and two large gas furnaces which heated the house.

Lane house drawing that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on January 23, 1910. (click on image to enlarge)

The halls, staircase and library were made of quarter-sawed white oak; the dining room was of mahogany and the den in natural redwood and of Turkish design. The parlor was decorated in white enamel with gold decorations in the Louis XV style, while the balance of the house, including the bedrooms and five bathrooms had white enamel finish. A large billiard room occupied the third floor. Other features included French windows, five or six fireplaces and carved mantels.

The Lanes shared their wealth with causes that were closest to their hearts. Because of her interest in community parks, Katherine was known as the “Tree Lady.” Hollywood’s Lanewood Avenue (named after Lane’s twice-married mother, Olive Pickett Lane-Wood), is still lined with large pine trees which Katherine most likely planted since the Lane’s once owned the land.

Lanewood Avenue, named after Olive Pickett Lane-Wood, in Hollywood. The pine trees that line the street were most likely planted by Katherine Lane.

She was chairman of the tree-planting committee that procured 360 cherry trees from Japan for planting around Griffith Park. Working with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Katherine is responsible for the planting of the landmark palm trees that line Wilshire Boulevard.

Katherine was elected president of the Hollywood Women’s Club and was the founder of the Round-the-World Club, Lane Tree Club, Perry Art Club and The Juniors. She also joined such organizations as the Hollywood Club, Oshkosh Club, Ebell Club, Women’s Press Club, Daughters of the American Revolution and Casa Del Mar. In 1932, she hosted the Wisconsin delegates of the 1932 Olympics, which were held in Los Angeles.

Around the time that they moved into the Chateau, the Lane’s adopted a son. The 1910 census does not mention a son, however, in 1920, twelve year-old Rollin B. Lane Jr. appears. Some have assumed that is the reason for a $25,000 donation to construct a building for the Los Angeles Children’s Home Society, but not much is known about the adoption.

Discord came to the Chateau in mid 1923, when Katherine filed for divorce against her 69 year-old husband. In her complaint she charged cruelty and named another woman, asking for $750 a month in alimony. A restraining order was issued to prevent Lane from removing anything from the house. However, after a meeting between the couple and their lawyers, a reconciliation was arranged and Lane returned to 7001 Franklin Avenue. However, Lane atoned for his sins the following January when he took Katherine and their son on a world cruise. A tour of Alaska followed this two years later and another world tour in 1927.

The passport photo for the Lane’s first world tour. Rollin, Rollin, Jr and Katherine Lane.

As the movie industry invaded Hollywood, the Lane’s kept their distance and refused to hobnob with the communities new residents. There have been urban legends about cowboy star, Tom Mix riding his horse down the mansion’s staircase (this story seems to follow him at several Hollywood residences), but it never happened. Also, the story about actress Janet Gaynor once living at the Chateau are also false.

The closest that the Lanes came to acknowledging the entertainment industry was a party they hosted to celebrate the birthday of composer, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, which was held at the Chateau for several years. Bond, who also lived in Hollywood, was a songwriter probably best known for composing the wedding standard, “I Love You Truly.” It became Katherine’s custom to celebrate Bond’s birthday with a garden party.

During their 1924 world cruise, Katherine was on the Indian Ocean and when the ship’s orchestra played “A Perfect Day,” – another Bond composition – it touched her heart, so if she reached home safely, she would give flowers to Bond, honoring her living presence instead of her memory.

On one birthday celebration, August 11, 1925, more than 300 people gathered on the Chateau grounds to observe Bond’s 64th birthday. Among those attending were George H. Coffin, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; real estate developer, C. E. Toberman; impresario, L. E. Beyhmer, and many others from Hollywood society. While no film people actually attended the festivities (or were invited), telegrams of felicitations were received from Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and “other celebrities.”

Unidentified woman, Katherine Lane and Rollin B. Lane at cornerstone laying ceremony for the Lane Library at Ripon College (Photo courtesy of Ripon College Archives)

In May 1929, Rollin Lane presented his alma-mater, the Ripon College Board of Trustees with $100,000, to be used to build the Lane Library. Lane, his mother-in-law, Mary Glynn and Katherine attended the cornerstone laying ceremony in June 1930.

Rollin B. Lane laying the cornerstone of Lane Library at Ripon College (Photo courtesy of Ripon College Archives)

The year before, Lane gave $20,000 for the construction of a new school building and auditorium in his hometown of Pickett, named the Armine and Anna Pickett Memorial School, after his maternal grandparents. Today it’s known as the Pickett Community Center. “It was quite the party when he came back to dedicate it,” said Mary Callies, researcher and treasurer of the Center. “There were endless parties; everyone wanted to be with someone who knew somebody in Hollywood.”

Day-to-day life, though slower, continued at Holly Chateau for the Lane’s. Around 1936, Lane became ill and rarely left the house. On August 23, 1940,

Rollin B. Lane’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge)


Rollin B. Lane died of a stroke in a small corner bedroom of the Chateau. He was 86 years-old. Funeral services were held at the Hollywood Cemetery Chapel and burial was in the family plot next to his mother.

Katherine Lane’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge)



Katherine lived at 7001 Franklin Avenue until her death at the Glendale Sanitarium on December 9, 1945. She was buried at Hollywood Cemetery between her husband and her mother (who is unmarked).




Lane family marker at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

During the years after Katherine’s death, the Chateau was divided into a multi-family home. Following that it was a home for the elderly and lastly it was altered into a jumble of small apartments.

In 1950, Harry Stafford, a stage and screen actor, died in one of the rooms.

In the 1950s, when the house was on the market, Hazel Meadows, Roland Lane Jr’s mother-in-law, stayed alone in the house to show it to prospective buyers. One day, Bela Lugosi came by to view it after working at the studios. Meadows was scared her out of her wits, even though Lugosi was gentlemanly. The Holly Chateau was eventually sold to Thomas Glover in 1955.

The fate of the house remained in question until Milt Larsen, a writer on the NBC game show, Truth or Consequences and his brother William, obtained the house for use as a club for magicians – a long-time dream of their father. After months of restoration, the Lane mansion was transformed into what is today known as The Magic Castle.

On January 2, 1963, at 5 pm, the Magic Castle opened its doors to members. It became a mysterious mansion with secret panels, a piano played by a ghost and weird overtones of magic. The mystifying features of the place began with the entrance, a secret panel known but to members. The “Invisible Irma” room boasts a regular piano and plays tunes at a verbal command.

Original posters of Houdini, the Mysterious Dante, the Great Leon, Thurston’s “Wonder Show of the Earth” and Brush, “King of Wizards,” decorated the Blackstone Room, where card tables are provided for sleight-of-hand experts.

The Magic Castle

The mansion has been altered many times–both inside and out–since the days that the Lane’s lived there. Street lamps that adorn the driveway once dotted the original Victoria Pier in Venice. Decorative cast iron frieze work on the canopy overhanging the door was part of the entrance to the Masonic temple at Wilshire and La Brea. Paneling in the main dining room was taken from the shutters of the Norma Talmadge Building that used to stand on Sunset. And the chandeliers in the Palace of Mystery once hung in the first Bullock’s in Southern California.

What would Rollin and Katherine Lane think of the transformation of their mansion? The room where Rollin Lane died is now the Houdini Séance room – perhaps one day Rollin will attend (or already has) to whatever goes on there and make his thoughts known. In any event, the only way you can see this magical place is if you know a member. If you ever have the chance, take it. You won’t be disappointed.

Special thanks to George W. Siegel, the architectural historian for the Magic Castle and to Bill Goodwin, librarian and Lisa Cousins of the Magic Castle for their help with this article.


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The first Academy Awards

Sunday, February 26th, 2017


Film efforts rewarded



Academy announces fifteen awards of statuette for elevating standards of screen


Los Angeles Times
February 18, 1929

The first awards for individual meritorious achievements in motion pictures were announced yesterday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The fifteen awards are for outstanding achievements for 1928 and were made after an exhaustive survey.

As a reward for and in recognition of their efforts in raising the standards of motion pictures the winners are to be presented with statuettes in bronze and gold, designed by George Stanley, sculptor, under the supervision and selection of Cedric Gibbons, art director at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio.

The statuette is twelve inches high with a Belgian marble base and consists of an idealized male figure standing on a representation of a reel of motion-picture film. It was announced the trophies will be presented at a later meeting of the academy at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

The winners of the merit awards follow:

Emil Jannings, first award for his outstanding performances in The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command. Honorable mention to Richard Barthelmess for his performance in The Noose and The Patent Leather Kid.

Janet Gaynor, first award for best performances among actresses in Seventh Heaven, Sunrise and The Street Angel. Honorable mention to Gloria Swanson for performance in Sadie Thompson and to Louise Dresser in A Ship Come In.

For direction of dramatic pictures, Frank Brozage received first award for Seventh Heaven. Honorable mention to Herbert Brenon for his directorial work in Sorrell and Son and to King Vidor for The Crowd. Lewis Milestone received first award for directing a comedy picture, Two Arabian Knights. Honorable mention to Ted Wilde for Harold Lloyd’s Speedy.

The first award for writing an original story was given to Ben Hecht for Underworld with honorable mention to Lajos Biros for The Last Command, while Benjamin Glazer received first award for adaptation of Seventh Heaven with honorable mention to Alfred Cohn for adapting The Jazz Singer and to Anthony Coldewey adapting Glorious Betsy.

For title-sriting the first award went to Joseph Farnham with honorable mention to George Marion, Jr., and Gerald Duffy.

The cinematography award is shared by Charles Rosher and Karl Struss for Sunrise.

George Barnes gets honorable mention for his work in Sadie Thompson, The Devil Dancer and Magic Flame.

The art direction award was given to William C. Menzies for The Tempest and The Dove, with honorable mention to Rochus Gliese for Sunrise and Harry Oliver for Seventh Heaven.

The engineering effects award goes to Roy Pomeroy for Wings, with honorable mention to Nugent Slaughter and to Ralph Hammeras.

The Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation received the first award for the production of the outstanding picture of the year, Wings. Honorable mention went to the Fox company for Seventh Heaven and to the Caddo company for Two Arabian Knights. This is the only award which was decided on box-office returns.

The Fox company won first award for the production of the most unusual and artistic picture, Sunrise, while honorable mention was received by Paramount for Chang and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for The Crowd.

Special first award was given to Warner Brothers for producing the pioneer outstanding talking picture, The Jazz Singer, with Al Jolson, while another first special award was given to Charles Chaplin for acting, writing and producing The Circus.

It was announced by the central board of judges which made the award that the board felt that Warner Brothers and Chaplin should be considered separately from the other award classifications owing to the unique character of their accomplishments.

In deciding to make the first awards for individual achievements, the academy members made twelve classifications in addition to the two special awards. The nominations were turned in by the members last August. One thousand nominations were received and these were then referred to class committees consisting of five judges. These judges made three nominations which were then turned over to a central board of judges. This, it was explained, is responsible for the length of time taken in making the awards.

The central board of judges was composed of Alec Francis, Sid Grauman, Frank Lloyd, and A. George Volck. The awards were made for pictures first publicly released during the year ending August 1, 1928, and is the first time the academy has made the awards.

The preceding article is the announcement of the first Academy Awards from the Los Angeles Times in 1929. In the beginning the awards were announced before the ceremony instead of being a surprise that night.


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Hollywood’s “Jinx Mansion”

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017




By Allan R. Ellenberger


At this time of year our thoughts are on ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Bad luck and superstition has followed Hollywood and those who lived and worked there long before the film people arrived.

A house that had its share of bad luck and tragedy was built on the northeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Fuller Street almost 100 years ago. Louella Parsons called the home that once stood at 7269 Hollywood Boulevard, “the jinx mansion.” Over the twenty-five years of its existence, it was home to a grocery store founder, a meat packing heir and a successful film producer and his movie star wife. All experienced misfortune and heartbreak during their stay there.

The builder and first resident of the “jinx mansion” was George A. Ralphs, the founder of Ralph’s grocery store, the largest food retailer in Southern California. There’s probably no one in Los Angeles that has not shopped at a Ralphs store at one time.

George Albert Ralphs was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1850. His family moved to California on a prairie schooner with a yoke of oxen when he was a boy. In Kansas they joined a caravan and when they reached Colorado they were attacked by Indians. Half of the caravan became separated in the fight, and nothing was ever heard from them. It was presumed that they were massacred.

The caravan arrived in Los Angeles after eighteen months of travel and George Ralphs was trained as an expert bricklayer. After losing an arm in an accident, he gave up bricklaying and found work as a clerk in a small grocery store. In 1873 he had saved enough money to purchase his own grocery at Sixth and Spring Streets. From then on Ralphs prospered, operating three of the largest stores in Los Angeles.

In 1897 Ralphs married Wallula von Keith and together they had two children, Albert and Annabel. In May 1913, Ralphs began construction on a new house on a three-acre lot in Hollywood that he reportedly bought from George Dunlap, the second mayor of the town.

Located on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard at Fuller Street, architect Frank M. Tyler was hired to design the Mission Revival house at a cost of $35,000. With a plastered exterior and a red clay tile roof, the house had sixteen rooms with three baths. The interior was richly furnished in oak and mahogany; onyx and tile mantels adorned the fireplaces. There was a tennis court on the property, and a swimming pool which was emptied often to water the citrus orchards.

The Ralphs mansion as it looked shortly after being constructed

On June 21, 1914, a few months after moving into the house, Ralphs took his family for a week-end outing to the San Bernardino Mountains near Lake Arrowhead. He had just gone up Waterman’s Canyon with his wife and children for an early morning stroll and, having walked a little faster than the others, sat on a boulder to wait for them to catch up.

As his wife approached, he moved over to allow her sit beside him when the boulder, weighing about three tons, gave way and rolled twenty feet down into the canyon, carrying Ralphs with it. His leg was caught beneath the boulder and nearly torn from the socket. He was immediately rushed to the Ramona Hospital (now Community Hospital of San Bernardino) where his leg was amputated. Ralphs came out from under the anesthetic shortly after and talked to his wife for a few minutes but the shock of the operation was too great. George Ralphs died within the hour at 4:15 o’clock that afternoon.

Ralphs body was returned to his home in Hollywood where funeral services were held. The Ralphs grocery stores were closed that day in memory of their founder. After the service, Ralphs was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

The grave of Ralph's grocery store founder, 
George A. Ralphs at Evergreen Cemetery

Mrs. Ralphs owned the mansion for several years, sometimes living there and at times, renting it out to such well-known residents as Mira Hershey, owner of the Hollywood Hotel and to actor Douglas Fairbanks. On August 20, 1918, Mrs. Ralphs hosted a political garden party in honor of California Governor, William D. Stephens and as a fund raiser for the war effort.

However, the “jinx” continued.

In 1920 Mrs. Ralphs leased the mansion to John “Jack” P. Cudahy, the son of the millionaire meat-packer, Michael Cudahy. The town of Cudahy, California which is east of Los Angeles, was named for the family.

In 1899, Jack Cudahy married Edna Cowin, daughter of General John Clay Cowin of Omaha. They had four children, Edna, Marie, Anne and Michael. For a time, Cudahy was general manager of his father’s packing plant in Kansas City. While there, he and his wife became estranged after Cudahy attacked Jere Lillis, the president of the Western Exchange Bank, who he suspected of having an affair with his wife. They were divorced shortly after but reconciled two years later, were remarried and moved to Pasadena, California.

Cudahy had his problems. In 1914, he was sued for $30,000 in damages after throwing a doctor’s wife against a table. After a stint in the army, Cudahy was given a medical discharge following a nervous breakdown. He was sued by the Hotel Maryland in 1919 for failure to pay a two-year hotel bill amounting to almost $10,000.

Shortly after moving into the Ralphs mansion, Cudahy was under a doctor’s care for an extremely nervous condition and for insomnia. In early April 1921, he disappeared for ten days and it was later learned that he had been living at the Rosslyn Hotel under a fictitious name. Previous to that he had spent three months in a sanatorium.

At the time, Cudahy was reportedly having financial problems. On April 19, 1921 he received a letter from a trust company in Chicago stating that they would not carry a loan unless his sister Clara would vouch for him. Later that night Clara sent a telegram briefly stating, “Sorry, but find it impossible to do what you ask.”

The following morning, at about 10:30am, Cudahy went into his bathroom, retrieved his Winchester shotgun, which he used for trap-shooting, and took it into his bedroom. Edna claimed that at the time he did not seem to be unusually despondent. At exactly 11:45am, Edna was in her dressing room when she heard a shot and rushed into her husband’s bedroom where she found him dead. He had committed suicide by blowing off the top of his head. John Cudahy was buried at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles.


Edna and her children moved out of the house shortly after her husband’s suicide. Thirteen years later she was living in a mansion near Vine Street and Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. Actor Lou Tellegen, who had fallen on hard times, was living with her and committed suicide in his bathroom by stabbing himself in his heart seven times with a pair of scissors.

After Cudahy’s suicide, the mansion stood empty for about a year. In October 1922 Mrs. Ralphs sold the house and property to a local realty company for $150,000. They planned to raze the house and build a 350 room apartment hotel at a cost of one million dollars. For unknown reasons, the hotel was never built and the mansion was spared.

Film producer, Joseph M. Schenck and his wife, the actress Norma Talmadge, were the next owners of the “jinx mansion.” The Schenck’s, who were married in 1916, probably moved into the house in late 1922 or early 1923. For the first few years their lives were routine, at least for film people, with the exception of several break-ins where Norma’s jewelry was stolen.

Norma Talmadge and Joseph M. Schenck

Gradually the couple began to grow apart. They separated in 1927 and moved into separate residences; Norma to an elegant apartment building on Harper Avenue in West Hollywood and Schenck moved to a large house in Beverly Hills. They remained married, however, and kept ownership of the Hollywood Boulevard mansion.

In July 1930, Talmadge traveled to Europe for a rest amid rumors that they were getting divorced but the couple denied the rumors, each claiming they were still in love. The following year Talmadge asked for a divorce and Schenck agreed but she never filed for it. In 1932 she again asked for a divorce and traveled to Europe, supposedly to get one, but once there, she denied the so-called rumors.

During 1932 alone, the Schenck divorce rumors were many and were announced and denied several times. One time she planned on going to Reno and several months later it was reportedly a Mexican divorce. In the meantime, there was an affair with comedian George Jessel until finally in April 1934 Talmadge and Schenck were divorced in Juarez, Mexico. Three weeks later Norma married Jessel.

The Talmadge-Schenck home as it looked from Fuller Street in the 1920s

Above is the site from the same angle on Fuller Street as it looks today

During all of this the Schenck’s kept the mansion, and may have rented it out but he reportedly moved back after the divorce. In May 1936 Schenck redecorated the property, adding a two-story cabana and a 60-foot swimming pool that replaced the one installed by the Ralphs which was later filled in by the Cudahy’s.

Bad luck continued to follow Schenck. In 1936 he agreed to pay a bribe to avoid strikes with the unions, but because he made the payoff with a personal check, it came to the attention of the IRS and he was eventually convicted of income tax evasion. In 1940 he finally sold the Hollywood Boulevard “jinx mansion” and all its furnishings in an auction, supposedly to help pay his legal fees. In 1946 Schenck spent time in prison before being granted a pardon by President Harry Truman.

Notice for the Joseph Schenck auction

After Schenck sold the mansion, it was razed to make way for Peyton Hall, the first apartment house to go up on Hollywood Boulevard west of La Brea. The colonial-style garden apartment complex included more than 70 apartments. A red carpet rolled all the way from the grand portico to Hollywood Boulevard. There were discreet private entrances and a loudspeaker on the grounds that summoned stars to the studios.

The architect and builders kept the 60-foot swimming pool that Joseph Schenck installed four years earlier and it was used by the residents, including Shelley Winters and Johnny Weissmuller, who once jumped from the roof into the deep end. Other celebrity residents at Peyton Hall included Susan Hayward, George Raft and Janet Gaynor. Cary Grant stayed there during World War II and Claudette Colbert actually owned the complex and sold it in 1946 for about $450,000 to the first of a succession of owners. In 1960, an investment group bought it for $790,000.

Beginning in 1978, preservationists waged a two-year battle to save the landmark complex –but to no avail. Peyton Hall was demolished in the early 1980s and the recently renamed, Vantage Apartments (formerly the Serravella) was built in 1988 and remains there today.

The Vantage Apartments above is the site of the 
Ralphs-Cudahy-Schenck-Talmadge mansion

Whether you believe in the “jinx mansion” or not is up to the reader—but it makes an interesting story. If you happen be in the neighborhood of the 7200 block of Hollywood Boulevard on Halloween night, do so at your own risk.


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Doug and Janet at the Oscars

Thursday, February 21st, 2013


Douglas Fairbanks presenting the very first Best Actress Oscar to Janet Gaynor


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The Hollywood Hat

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012


The Hollywood Hat: An Autographed Hat Holds the History of Early Hollywood



By Joe Biltman
Autograph Magazine 


“Can I have your autograph?”


The streets of Hollywood have teemed with autograph hunters for a century now. Brandishing an autograph book or scrap of paper, these collectors good-naturedly accost stars wherever they find them — on the street, in restaurants, at the supermarket, at gas stations, in elevators, in their cars when stopped at red lights, and even in restrooms.


Click here to continue reading…



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Thanksgiving in Hollywood, 1931

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


How Hollywood stars celebrated Thanksgiving in 1931




Hollywood’s basis for Thanksgiving sometimes ranged from gratitude to an indulgent fate for the renewal of an option to thanks for a new divorce. But whatever the individual cause for thanks. the favored of filmdom in 1931 joined the rest of the country in celebrating the Thanksgiving season.


Marlene Dietrich observed the holiday entertaining a few guests and, for the occasion, allowed little Maria to dine with the grown-ups. Others who celebrated quietly at home were Dolores Costello and John Barrymore who entertained Lionel Barrymore and Helene Costello; Kay Francis and her husband, Kenneth McKenna; Buster and Natalie Talmadge Keaton, their two sons, and Norma and Constance Talmadge; Vivian Duncan and Nils Asther and their new daughter, Evelyn. The Robert Montgomery’s, also assisted their young daughter (five-week old Martha who died at 14 months of spinal meningitis) in her first Thanksgiving, while the Reginald Denny’s also had their young son to initiate.


Ruth Chatterton and Ralph Forbes travelled to Arrowhead for the occasion. Marie Dressler, accompanied by her house guest, Lady Ravensdale, and Claire du Brey, drove to the desert and dined at the La Quinta Hotel. Wallace Beery spent Thanksgiving in New York, as did Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


Clark Gable spent the holiday in the mountains. Jimmy Durante cooked his own turkey, decorating it with  an original dressing, but declining to reveal the recipe.


Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels celebrated the day in San Francisco with the opening of Bebe’s play, The Last of Mrs. Cheney. Janet Gaynor was Europe-bound, accompanied by her husband, Lydell Peck and mother. Maurice Chevalier  was joined by his wife, actress Yvonne Vallee,  for his first Thanksgiving. Tallulah Bankhead arrived in town for formal dinner plans. Two new sets of newlyweds — June Collyer and Stuart Erwin and Carole Lombard and William Powell — observed the day at home.


Victor MacLaglen presided over a huge dining table which was a part of the Tuder furniture imported from England for his Flintridge home.


From several places across the country, the Will Rogers clan collected in time for turkey. Will, Jr. was home from Stanford, and Jimmy arrived from Roswell, New Mexico.


Wherever you are and whatever your plans, I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving. 



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Oscar Winners at Hollywood Forever…

Thursday, February 19th, 2009


Academy Award Winners!



Janet Gaynor and Oscar

 Janet Gaynor the first Best Actress


By Allan R. Ellenberger


It probably comes as no surprise that there are many Academy Award recipients residing at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Many of Hollywood’s film pioneers rest there including several Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences founders such as, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. De Mille, Jeanie Macpherson, Carey Wilson, Frank E. Woods, Charles H. Christie and Jesse L. Lasky.


Of those interred at Hollywood Forever, there are 45 nominees that received a total of 178 nominations. Of that number there are 33 awards that were received by 27 winners. The following are the recipients in the Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Best Screenplay categories and the Honorary and Irving G. Thalberg Awards.








Best Picture


The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)




Total Nominations: 3












Best Actress in a Leading Role


7th Heaven (1927)

Also for Street Angel (1928) and Sunrise (1927)


Total Nominations: 2



Janet Gaynor grave









Best Actor in a Leading Role


Network (1976)

Nomination and award were posthumous. Finch became the first posthumous winner in an acting category.


Total Nominations: 2



Peter Finch's grave



Best Actor in a Leading Role


The Story of Louis Pasteur (1935)


Total Nominations: 6



Paul Muni grave









Best Actor in a Supporting Role


The Life of Emile Zola (1937)


Total Nominations: 1



Joseph Schildkraut









Best Director


Gone With the Wind (1939)


Total Nominations: 1



Victor Fleming grave





Best Director


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)


Total Nominations: 5



John Huston grave








(1) Best Writing, Original Story


The Story of Louis Pasteur (1935)

Shared with Sheridan Gibney

(2) Best Writing, Screenplay


The Story of Louis Pasteur (1935)

Shared with Sheridan Gibney


Total Nominations: 2





Pierre Collings grave



Best Writing, Screenplay


Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Shared with James Hilton, Claudine West, Arthur Wimperis


Total Nominations: 2



George Froeschel grave






Best Writing, Screenplay


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)


Total Nominations: 8




John Huston's grave




Best Writing, Original Screenplay


Woman of the Year (1942)

Shared with Ring Lardner, Jr.


Total Nominations: 2



Michael Kanin




Best Writing, Story and Screenplay


Interrupted Melody (1955)

Shared with William Ludwig


Total Nominations: 2



Sonya Levien




Best Writing, Screenplay


The Informer (1935)

Refused to accept his award because of the antagonism between several industry guilds and the academy over union matters. This marked the first time an Academy Award had been declined. Academy records show that Dudley was in possession of an Oscar statuette by 1949.


Total Nominations: 4



Dudley Nichols












Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award






Cecil B. DeMille







Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award





Sidney Franklin's grave










Commemorative Award


Recognizing the unique and outstanding contribution of Douglas Fairbanks, first president of the Academy, to the international development of the motion picture (Commemorative Award).



Fairbanks tomb





Cinematographers, Composers, Film editors




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First Academy Award Ceremony…

Saturday, February 7th, 2009


Film-merit trophies awarded


Douglas Fairbanks and Janet Gaynor Oscar presentation

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president, Douglas Fairbanks, presents award of merit to Janet Gaynor for her performances in Seventh Heaven, Sunrise and The Street Angel.


Recognition bestowed for notable achievements


Los Angeles Times
May 17, 1929


Before a large gathering of motion picture celebrities, Janet Gaynor and other notables last night received statuettes of bronze and gold for outstanding achievement in different branches of the industry. The trophies were awarded at the merit banquet held simultaneously with the celebration of the second anniversary of the of the organization of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


The program of the evening was opened by Douglas Fairbanks who gave the chairmanship over to  William C. De Mille. Fifteen first and twenty honorable mention awards were presented following a program which started at 7 p.m. with an unusual showing of sound and talking pictures.



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Celebrity Recipes – Janet Gaynor

Saturday, February 7th, 2009


Janet Gaynor




Janet Gaynor was the recipient of the first Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in Seventh Heaven (1927), Sunrise (1927) and Street Angel (1928).




Janet Gaynor’s




Cream one pound of butter and 1 ½ cups sugar. Add 3 eggs, one by one, beating and mixing meanwhile. Add 5 cups of flour gradually while beating the mixture. Add dates and nuts (quantity to suit) which have been chopped into small bits. Add vanilla flavoring. Shape this into a roll and put in refrigerator over night. In the morning slice into thin layers and bake in moderate oven.   


— Janet Gaynor




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