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Miriam Hopkins Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 18th, 2014
2014
Oct 18

MIRIAM HOPKINS

Happy Birthday Miriam Hopkins!!

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Today, October 18, 2014 would be the 112th birthday of stage, screen and television actress, Miriam Hopkins. To celebrate, the above photo shows Miriam being introduced to actress Lee Remick. What event are they attending and what is it they have in common at this event and in film history?

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If you think you know the answer, click the CONTINUE READING tab to find out.

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Miriam Hopkins magazine cover

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 5th, 2014
2014
Oct 5

MAGAZINE COVER SUNDAY

Miriam Hopkins in Becky Sharp

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Miriam Hopkins as Becky Sharp, on the cover of the October 1935 issue of Cine-Mundial magazine…

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Miriam Hopkins on TCM

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 11th, 2014
2014
Sep 11

MIRIAM HOPKINS

Miriam Hopkins on Turner Classics Movies tomorrow evening

 

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Every Friday evening in September, TCM is showing classic pre-code films. Tomorrow evening, in addition to Jean Harlow, Kay Francis and Myrna Loy, four films of Miriam Hopkins are playing in a row including Design for Living, Trouble in Paradise, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Story of Temple Drake.

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NOTE: All times are Eastern:

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Remembering Dickie Jones in “Virginia City”

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 9th, 2014
2014
Jul 9

INTERVIEWS

Remembering Dickie Jones in Virginia City

 

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Miriam Hopkins with Dickie Jones in Virginia City (1940)

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Actor Dick “Dickie” Jones passed away at age 87 on Monday at his home in Northridge, California, a community north of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. A few years ago I interviewed Mr. Jones for my biography of Miriam Hopkins, A Really Fantastic Bitch: The Life of Miriam Hopkins. Dickie Jones, as he was known when he was a child actor, worked with Hopkins in the 1940 film, Virginia City, which also co-starred Errol Flynn. For the short time we spent together, Jones was a delight. He’s one of the few costars of Hopkins that I interviewed that had only nice things to say about her. In fact, it upset him that so many of her coworkers have said negative things.

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Below are excerpts of Jones’s involvement in the making of Virginia City:

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According to eyewitness accounts, the location set of Virginia City was a war zone. John Hilder, a correspondent for Hollywood magazine, went with the cast to Flagstaff. He reported “tempers flared, and feuds raged. For one eventful weekend it appeared that the cast was about to choose sides—the blues and the grays—and re-fight the Civil War with bare hands, rocks or practical bullets.” Columnist Sidney Skolsky wrote that, according to his spies, several feuds were going on simultaneously. “Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart are feuding,” he reported, “Flynn and Miriam Hopkins are feuding, and Mike Curtiz and Miriam Hopkins are feuding.”

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Dickie Jones, who played Cobby, was twelve-years-old and recalled there were no tensions on the set, especially between Miriam and Errol Flynn. However, he understood how there could be after working with Flynn a decade later in Rocky Mountain (1950). “He didn’t get along with his leading lady, Patrice Wymore,” Jones recalled. “They fought like cats and dogs and afterward, they got married.”

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Errol Flynn was Jones’ favorite actor. To the young boy he was a professional and was never a “softie” about his work. “On the set he was all professional,” Jones said. “Behind the camera he was a fun guy. I didn’t socialize with him, so I don’t know about the other things that he did, or so they claimed, but I liked him.”

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Jones was very fond of Miriam as well because she treated him as an equal. “She talked to me and not at me,” Jones said. “And we worked together. Never did she throw a tantrum while I was around. Some of them did.”

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In one scene, Cobby falls from the wagon and is crushed by the turning wheels. Jones performed the stunt himself. “I went out of the boot of the wagon and off the back of the horse and rolling over, just dropped into the sand,” Jones recalled. “And then the camera rose up a little, so I was out of range, and that’s when they pulled me out before the wheels ran over the log that would simulate my body. That was the only catch in that shot—pulling me out before the wheels actually rolled over me.”

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As Cobby lies dying in Miriam’s arms, which was filmed later at Warner Bros., he is swabbed with glycerin to simulate sweat as she gently mops his head. “I remember I’m trying to fake dying and Miriam’s carrying on a conversation, I think with the doctor, in the cramped quarters of the bed of the wagon,” Jones recalled. “And that went on for a long time with everyone’s long shots and close-ups, and that was a whole day just for that one scene. It was very boring for me.”

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Jones was disappointed that some have spoken unkindly about Miriam. To a twelve-year-old boy, she made a great impression and, as far as he knew, she got along with everyone. “Maybe that was professional jealousy on their part,” he said. “A youngster can pick out someone that’s nice and someone that isn’t, and not just by their attitude and the way they talk.”

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For performing his own stunt in the film, the director, Michael Curtiz gave Jones a large Concho belt made from silver and turquoise. The director knew that Dickie collected Native American artifacts and jewelry called “Pawn Jewelry,” and it was sold dirt cheap on the reservation. “You don’t get adjusted for stunt work,” Curtiz told Jones, “but I’m adjusting you for doing such a good job.”

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Jones had the following the say about his other costars:

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RANDOLPH SCOTT

“He was a charming gentleman. He was very quiet. He was too busy reading the Wall Street Journal, making his fortune.”

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HUMPHREY BOGART

“He was just a run-of-the-mill guy. He wasn’t pretentious or anything like that. In his early career, he was really struggling with his work and Black Legion (Jones also appeared in this film) was one of his first serious things. I look back, and I watch Virginia City and there he is with a little thin mustache and he’s the Mexican bandito with a broken accent. It broke me up. It was too phony.”

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MICHAEL CURTIZ

“There were a lot of times we were sitting around doing nothing and waiting. Michael Curtiz was a fanatic for clouds. He called them goobers. ‘We wait here ‘til the goobers to come,’ he would say. It made the film more picturesque with all the clouds floating around the sky out there in Arizona.”

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“I enjoyed Virginia City very much,” Jones said. “It was fun to work on.”

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Thank you Mr. Jones.

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Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park & Crematory: Hollywood’s Dog Heaven

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 30th, 2013
2013
Nov 30

 LOS ANGELES CEMETERIES

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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On Thanksgiving Day, 1935, a small group of people gathered on a hill in Calabasas to pay their last respects to actress Alice Brady’s beloved Sammy. Age 16, Sammy had been Brady’s pet wire-terrier, and rather than consign his remains somewhere disrespectful, Brady had him interred in a crypt at the local pet cemetery. The epitaph reads, quite simply, “Sammy—My Boy.” Two years later, her favorite dog Nina passed away and was buried at a cost of $300. The next week, her dachshund died of distemper.

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Newspaper notice of the death of Alice Brady’s terrier, Nina

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The Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park & Crematory,  was founded in 1928 and is located off the Ventura Freeway twenty miles from Hollywood, has a mausoleum (built in 1929), combined with crematory and columbarium, for the interment of a beloved pet. With more than 40,000 pets interred, on the cemetery’s thirty acres, it is one of the largest and oldest of its kind on the West Coast.

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Humphrey Bogart’s cocker spaniel, Lionel Barrymore’s dozen dogs and cats, Tonto’s horses, Good Scout and Smoke, and Hopalong Cassidy’s Topper have been buried here since the 1920s.

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Because of its proximity to the film capitol, many of the creatures buried on its thirty acres are the pets of famous movie stars. One of them is Mae West’s pet monkey, Boogie who made his screen debut in I’m No Angel and died in late 1933. Boogie was laid out in a fancy lined casket, but no headstone. Around the same time the Countess di Frasso’s fourteen year-old dog died and was buried in a white casket.

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And there is Jiggs, a nine year-old chimpanzee who died in March 1938 of pneumonia. Jiggs had his own social security number and was a member in good standing with the Screen Actor’s Guild. His funeral at the cemetery was attended by Dorothy Lamour, Bing Crosby and Ray Milland. He last appeared on film in Her Jungle Love (1938) with Lamour.

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Rudolph Valentino and his pet, Kabar. 

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Marker of Rudolph Valentino’s pet, Kabar (Source: Weird California)

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Kabar, a Doberman pinscher, was the pet of Rudolph Valentino and was sent to him as a present from a Belgian diplomat in appreciation of Valentino’s acting. When Valentino died, Kabar disappeared for months and when he returned he was half-starved and his feet were bleeding. Veterinarians who examined him estimated that he had crossed the continent to New York and back searching for his owner. For two weeks he hung around Valentino’s old home, depressed and unhappy, then with a broken heart, he died. Alberto, Valentino’s brother rewarded Kabar’s faithfulness with a grave and a bronze maker that reads, “Kabar, My Faithful Dog. Rudolph Valentino, Owner.”

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Not far from Kabar is the pet of Valentino’s former wife, Jean Acker, a pet she named Bunky Valentino. The bronze marker reads: “1931—1945, Bunky Valentino, All My Love. Jean Acker Valentino.” In the same area is Puzzums, the Mack Sennett cat. Puzzums freelanced most of the time and in his heyday earned $250 a week. Found abandoned as a kitten, Puzzums appeared with Maurice Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald. His last film was Handy Andy (1934) with Will Rogers. He died from complications caused by an ulcerated tooth in August 1934 at age eight.

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Maurice Chevalier holding Puzzums the cat.

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Miriam Hopkins with her wire terrier, Jerry.

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When Miriam Hopkins’s wire-haired fox terrier, Jerry passed away in 1932, she telephoned the cemetery. In a short time a funeral car called for the body and he was placed in a hermetically sealed casket. Jerry was then taken to the cemetery and placed in his designated plot, one that had been reserved for him.

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Also among the pets buried there are John Gilbert’s Topsy, Dolores Del Rio’s Da Da, and Oscar Strauss’s Hansi. Marian Marsh’s Pekinese, King, has a tombstone costing $150 and there is also Dumpsie, who acted opposite Eddie Cantor, Lee Tracy, Elissa Landi and other stars and who was slain, it was rumored, by foul means.

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Louise Dresser’s Bubbie is honored with an epitaph: “Bubbie. A Gallant Little Soldier, July 12, 1929.” Not far from Bubbie lie two of Corinne Griffith’s pets, Bozo, a prize St. Bernard, and Black Raider, a once lively terrier. In the mausoleum, in one of the crypts, is Jiggs, the Boston bull terrier of Jimmy Murphy. Across from the crypts, there are niches. Here you will find Billie Burke’s police dog, Gloria Swanson’s Rusty, a pet of John Barrymore’s and a dog belonging to stage and screen actor, Edmund Breese.

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To learn more, check out the cemetery’s website HERE

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Joel McCrea’s beginnings

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 8th, 2013
2013
Feb 8

HOLLYWOOD BEGINNINGS

How Joel McCrea got his start

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Nearly ruined career when, teamed with Dorothy Jordan, he took her to dinner with the Boss’, who married her

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

When Joel McCrea was 12 or 13 years old, attending the Gardner Street grade school in Hollywood, Ruth Roland was making serials in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. McCrea, who was big for his age, had an ambition to be a cowboy, and used to hang around and watch the Roland troupe in his spare time and sometimes even was allowed to hold the horses.

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A New York stage actor came out to play Ruth’s leading man. His job was to be rescued from some dire predicament by the heroine every reel or so.

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“That guy could act all over the place,” McCrea recalled, “but when they brought on the horses he was scared stiff. That was how I got to ride his horse in a couple shots. They dressed me all up in buckskins, and for two days’ work I was paid $5. Boy that appealed to my Scotch blood! Five dollars for having a swell time. Right then I forgot about being a cowboy and decided I was going to be an actor.”

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But it took McCrea eight years to get his second film job. Belonging to one of the town’s “oldest families,” he mixed with the film crowd and was on speaking terms with most of the celebrities of the early days.

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“But as far as getting a job was concerned,” he say, “it didn’t do me a bit of good. I was invited to dinner at the homes of the big shots and they were always awfully nice to me, but nobody seemed to think I was an actor.”

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At the Santa Monica Beach Club one day, Conrad Nagel and Mitchell Lewis took McCrea aside and tried to persuade him to give up the idea of  acting.

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“Listen, Joel,” Nagel said. “We like you, and we don’t want to hurt your feelings, and we wouldn’t tell you this if we didn’t like you, but you just haven’t got a chance. You haven’t got the stuff. Give it up and go into business.”

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Jack Mulhall happened to overhear them. “Listen, kid,’ he told McCrea, “don’t listen to those birds. I haven’t got anything either, but I’ve been getting away with it for seven years now, and they pay me $3,750 a week at First National.”

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McCrea got his first break, just out of Pomona College, when he bought a trench coat and was so proud of that he wore it all the time, rain or shine, around the RKO lot. He picked up some extra work there. He wore the coat so much that Bill Sistrom, who later became an associate producer, finally noticed it.

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“What do you wear that for?’ Sistrom wanted to know—probably thinking that he had a role that called for it.

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 “Oh, because I like it,” McCrea answered.

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“What do you do around here?’ he asked.

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“I’m an actor,” he told him.

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“How do you know you are?” demanded Sistrom.

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“Well, I would be if they’d give me a chance!” McCrea replied.

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“How’d you like to play a lead? Sistrom asked.

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“I thought the guy was crazy,” McCrea said, “especially when he shoved a script at me and told me to report to George Archainbaud, the director, and tell him I was to play the lead in The Silver Horde (1930).”

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 Archainbaud said no; they already had somebody, and, anyway, McCrea was too big. Sistrom insisted McCrea was the guy for the part and everybody else said he wasn’t and there was a terrific argument but Sistrom out yelled everybody. The next thing McCrea knew he was leaving for Alaska and he had his first major role. He asked Sistrom afterwards how he managed it.

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Louis Wolheim with Joel McCrea in The Silver Horde (1930)

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 “Well,’ Sistrom said, “I’d always wondered how much influence I had around here, so this looked like a good time to find out.”

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It was Louis Wolheim who saved McCrea on that picture. After he’d been yelled at all day for lousy work, Wolheim would jump in and give everybody a hard time for making things tough for McCrea. Then when the day’s shooting was over, Wolheim would really bawl him out.

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“Why, you dumb, lazy so-and-so,” Wolheim told him. Then he would go over the script with McCrea, word by word. A former university math professor, Wolheim was just a natural born teacher.

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Two roles with Will Rogers in Lightnin’ (1930) and Business and Pleasure (1932) boosted McCrea’s popularity after that. Rogers liked him because he could talk horses and cattle to McCrea and the latter could make intelligent answers.

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Winfield Sheehan,” McCrea recalled, “who didn’t know me from Adam, used to see me on the Rogers set, and knowing that I was a friend of Will’s, had his secretary call up RKO every year for three years, one month before my option was up, and offer to put me to work, I think that was the only reason RKO ever kept me.

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After McCrea made Bird of Paradise (1932) with Dolores del Rio, and the gorgeous tan which he had spent years in acquiring got a chance to be immortalized in celluloid, the studio intended to team him with Dorothy Jordan in a series of stories. That was when McCrea came nearest to inadvertently wrecking his screen career. Merian C. Cooper, then production head of RKO, came on the set one day and asked McCrea what he thought of Dorothy. “She’s a swell girl,” said Joel.

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Dorothy Jordan and Joel McCrea in The Lost Squadron (1932)

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“Yes, but can she act?” Cooper asked.

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“I think she can,” McCrea replied. “She’s not as good as Loretta Young,”

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McCrea had visions of the team breaking up. He’d been spending considerable time promoting himself with the various studio bosses who were flashing through there at the time, and was having a hard time keeping up with the changes in executive personnel. He finally persuaded Cooper that he at least ought to get acquainted with Dorothy Jordan, and when Cooper invited him over to dinner one night, Joel took Dorothy with him, after spending an hour or more telling Dorothy that their jobs depended on her making a good impression on the boss.

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When they arrived for the dinner, it was one of those “love at first sight” things. McCrea scarcely saw Dorothy for the rest of the evening; within a week she and Cooper were engaged, and very shortly afterward, married. And there went the McCrea-Jordan team. For eleven months McCrea did absolutely nothing but pick up his pay check each Wednesday. Stories had been bought for him and Dorothy. Every two or three months Cooper would hand him a script, say that Dorothy was coming back to work, ask him to study his part and see what he thought of it. One or two of the stories were finally used for Ginger Rogers. Dorothy Jordan decided to raise a family, instead.

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Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea and Miriam Hopkins in These Three (1936)

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Eventual free-lancing and then a Goldwyn contract followed for McCrea. After attending a preview of These Three (1936), in which he co-starred with Miriam Hopkins and Merle Oberon, he came out and asked one of the boys in publicity department: “Who is this guy McCrea I’ve been seeing? he said. “It can’t be me.”

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McCrea had come a long way since the days when Louis Wolheim taught him dialogue. Known as one of the most unspoiled of the younger celebrities, who didn’t kid himself about the part “breaks” had played in his career. His life as a youngster in Hollywood, growing up with the films, had helped him keep his balance while marriage to Frances Dee and a couple of young sons gave him a sense of responsibility.

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Miriam Hopkins biography update

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 4th, 2013
2013
Feb 4

MIRIAM HOPKINS

Miriam Hopkins biography–an update

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

I thought it was time to give an update on my Miriam Hopkins biography. It’s been several years of research, talking to people who knew her, questioning her family, film historians, going to libraries and surfing the internet. There are probably about three or four more chapters remaining, but then there are the rewrites. There are still four actors that I would like to interview. Does anyone out there know how to contact them?

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DICK VAN PATTEN: In 1943, Miriam replaced Tallulah Bankhead in the Broadway version of The Skin of Our Teeth. I assume that Van Patten, who played a telegraph boy, was still with the show when Miriam joined, though I couldn’t find confirming evidence.

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JOYCE VAN PATTEN: The following year, Miriam appeared in the Broadway play, The Perfect Marriage with Victor Jory. Joyce Van Patten, the sister of Dick, played her daughter.

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SHIRLEY MACLAINE: In The Children’s Hour, Miriam played MacLaine’s aunt. Miriam originally played MacLaine’s role in the original version, These Three. I contacted MacLaine last year and asked for an interview but she refused. She said she was too busy which surprised me. I thought she would be one of the easiest to talk to.

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ROBERT REDFORD: Miriam played Redford’s mother in The Chase. I was told that Redford said that Miriam should have received an Oscar nomination. I’m not sure if that is true but I’d love to find out.

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SALLY FIELD: In her last role, Miriam played a Mother Superior on The Flying Nun, which starred the current Oscar nominee.

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If you know any of the above actors and could put in a good word for me, or if you have contact information where I could write or email them, I would appreciate it.

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My email contact is aellenber@aol.com . More to come…soon. Thank you.

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One of the last pictures taken of Miriam Hopkins (© Allan R. Ellenberger)


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Peggy Shannon at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 16th, 2013
2013
Jan 16

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

On Broadway, she was a Ziegfeld Follies girl and successful ingénue, enough so to have Hollywood take notice.  Once considered the successor to Clara Bow, the titian-haired Peggy Shannon, a pretty actress whose appearances in major roles gave her the potential for stardom, ended her life in heartbreaking loneliness.

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Peggy Shannon was born Winona Sammon on January 10, 1910 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. As a child, her interest in music led her to study the piano and violin. She hoped to be a teacher until Madge Evans came to Pine Bluff on a tour promoting her line of hats. “I was only about 10 and knew then I wanted to be in show business,” Peggy recalled.

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In 1924, her mother Nancy took her and her sister Carole to visit their aunt in New York, who happened to live in the same building as Goldie Glough, the secretary of Florenz Ziegfeld, who was preparing a new Follies show. Goldie told Will Page, a press agent for Ziegfeld, about Peggy’s beauty and he had her pose for publicity pictures with Ziegfeld.

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“It was just a stunt, but I didn’t know it then,” Peggy later recalled. “They took me to Ziegfeld’s New Amsterdam offices and photographed me, curls, silk gingham dress and all, with Mr. Wayburn and Mr. Ziegfeld. The next day newspapers carried the story form Ziegfeld’s office that he had signed an Arkansas newcomer. They said I could be in the chorus for a while, more to justify their story than became they wanted me.”

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She appeared in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1924, along with Will Rogers, Lupino Lane and Mary Nolan (also buried at Hollywood Forever). After one season, Earl Carroll hired her for his Vanities of 1925. She kept busy during this time, modeling during the day, then after appearing in the Vanities she joined the floor shows at Texas Guinan’s.

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In 1926 Peggy married actor Alan Davis. The following year Earl Carroll put her in the ingénue lead in What Anne Brought Home opposite William Hanly and Mayo Methot. For the next three years she appeared in comedic roles for William Brady, a noted producer who planned to make her a star.

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That would all change when B.P. Schulberg, the head of production at Paramount saw her in Napi on Broadway and signed her to a contract. It was during this time that Paramount was recruiting many Broadway actors for film, including Sylvia Sidney, Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins.

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Within four days of her arrival in Hollywood, Clara Bow had her second nervous breakdown. Peggy was summoned into Schulberg’s office and was told she would replace Bow in her next picture, The Secret Call (1931) opposite Richard Arlen. “The interview was very brief,” Peggy said of her meeting with Schulberg. “He sent me away telling me I had many things to do as production started the next morning.”

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She read the script and was impressed by it and somewhat staggered by the realization that the role was the most important in the film, and the longest. That meant learning hundreds of speeches. But she discovered that films were different from the stage. “I didn’t have to learn the entire role at one time,” she said. “I could study it every night and keep ahead of production.”

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Peggy admitted that the assignment frightened her. “Frankly, I was scared,” she said. “I expected to be taken out of the cast any minute. I couldn’t believe that such a wonderful break had come to me. I kept thinking, ‘That’s some other girl with the same name. It really can’t be me. And if it is me, I’d better keep my enthusiasm under control.’”

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Paramount’s advertisement for The Secret Call called Peggy “The new Clara Bow,” “The successor of the ‘It’ girl,” “Greatest find of the year” and “Clara Bow’s redheaded rival.” The film did well at the box-office however the reviews were lukewarm. The New York Times reported that Peggy would “be remembered as the young lady who succeeded Clara Bow, when that actress became indisposed. Miss Shannon is attractive, but The Secret Call does not present many situations calling for much more than a gentle stroll through its various scenes.”

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Peggy made four more films for Paramount and a few independent films, including False Faces (1932) in which she had some good scenes with Lowell Sherman. Leaving Paramount, she signed a contract with Fox in February 1932 and appeared as a nightclub singer in The Painted Woman (1932), opposite Spencer Tracy. She was billed as Tracy’s first romantic lead. The New York Sun reported that Peggy was “improving” but Fox executives disagreed and dropped her option.

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She worked as an independent in such films as Girl Missing (1933), directed by Robert Florey and Turn Back the Clock (1933) with Lee Tracy. Peggy’s career was beginning to lag and second rate films followed such as Fury of the Jungle (1933), The Back Page (1934) and The Fighting Lady (1935).

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In late 1934, Peggy decided to return to Broadway in Page Miss Glory with newcomer, James Stewart. “James Stewart and Peggy Shannon are amusing as one of the bums and his fiancée,” wrote the New York Evening Post.

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Then it was back to Hollywood and Universal where Lowell Sherman directed her in the lavish production of Night Life of the Gods (1935). Next it was off to Warner Brothers in the Perry Mason who-done-it, The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935). Still not happy, Peggy returned once again to the stage to do The Light Behind the Shadow. Unfortunately Peggy was replaced early in production, reportedly due to a tooth infection but rumors were that it was due to her drinking, a habit she was quickly developing.

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After another failure on Broadway, Peggy reported to Republic for a film with Marian Marsh. Then it was Girls on Probation (1938) for Warner Brothers. The film co-starred Ronald Reagan and was notable as Susan Hayward’s first film.

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In mid-1938, Peggy and a female companion were involved in a car accident with another driver receiving lacerations on her nose and cuts on her legs. It was rumored that alcohol was involved. Friends in the business tried to help giving her small roles but in some cases her drinking would get in the way. One of her last films was Café Hostess (1940) for Columbia.

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In 1940, Peggy decided to end her fourteen year marriage to Alan Davis. She declared that he struck her on one occasion at the home of actress Wynne Gibson, who testified for her friend that he struck her “over something very inconsequential.” She added that because of her husband’s disinclination to work she had to support him as well as herself during their marriage. “He was just lazy—he played all the time,” she told the judge.

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Several months later, in October 1940, Peggy married cameraman, Albert “Al” Roberts in Mexico. They set up housekeeping at 4318 Irvine Street in North Hollywood, along with their German Sheppard, Spec. By now, Peggy was forgotten by the studios and seldom received offers, causing her to drink even more.

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In early May 1941, Roberts and his friend Elmer Fryer left for a few days on a fishing trip. When they returned on Sunday, May 11, Roberts found Peggy slumped dead across the kitchen table with her head on her arms; she was barefoot and clad in a sun suit. A cigarette, burned to the tip of her fingers, was in her right hand. Three glasses and a soft-drink bottle found in the sink were turned over to the Coroner to check for traces of poison. Peggy Shannon was 31. She was laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery a few days later without much fanfare.

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Roberts was devastated by Peggy’s death. He was afraid that someone might think he had something to do with her death. In a conversation with Detective William Burris, Roberts said, “Bill, you’ve got something on your mind. You don’t suspect me of Peggy’s death do you?” Burris assured him that was not the case and he was merely awaiting the report of the autopsy.

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“Well, Bill,” Roberts told him, “if you have anything on your mind, get it off, because you won’t see me again.” Burris asked what he meant and Roberts told him that he was going to commit suicide. “I told him not to be like that,” Burris said, “that he had had one too many.”

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Three weeks after Peggy’s death, in the early morning hours of Memorial Day, May 30, 1941, Roberts took Spec to visit Peggy’s grave at Hollywood Cemetery. Afterward he returned to his home on Irvine Street and wrote three notes: one to ‘those concerned’ and two to his sister Phoebe, who lived in Glendale.

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At about dawn he called his sister and said he was going to kill himself. “Al, don’t do it,” she screamed into the phone. Suddenly she heard a shot and then, the barking of the dog. When police reached the house, Roberts was dead. A rifle was found near the body. In one hand he still grasped the telephone receiver. His body rested on the same chair where he had found Peggy’s body; like her, his head had fallen forward on the table. Two empty liquor bottles and two soft drink bottles were on the table. Nearby Spec lay whimpering.

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This home, at 4318 Irvine Street in Valley Village (formerly North Hollywood), is where

actress Peggy Shannon died and her husband, Albert Roberts committed suicide.

(PLEASE NOTE: This is private property. Please DO NOT disturb the residents)

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In his note Roberts wrote:

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“It happens that I am very much in love with my wife, Peggy Shannon. In this spot she passed away. So in reverence to her you will find me in the same spot. No one will ever understand, as it should be. Why don’t you all try a little bit harder—it wouldn’t hurt, I can truthfully say for both of us. Adios amigos. Al Roberts.”

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In a note to his sister, he expressed bitterness against those who he said, had feigned fondness for his wife during her lifetime. Although he doesn’t name them, it sounds like he could be referring to family members:

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“To Phoebe. If you have to ship the stuff to China do it. They can never prove what I have done with it. Spec and I went out to the cemetery around 1 a.m. They talk so much about her flowers for Memorial Day. Well, they have never been near the grave. Mrs. Ross and I put on fresh flowers as much as we could, but them dirty leeches, they wouldn’t take her a pansy but they would take her clothes and say they love her more than life. But you stress that, honey. You know how Peg supported them. Any denials just ask them to prove how they lived all these years. Al.”

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In a second note to his sister, Roberts expressed concern for his dog, Spec.

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“You take Spec,” he wrote, “and ship him to Johnny. If you don’t I will never forgive you. I promised him that. All five have said they could not be bothered with him. I know Johnny and he will be great pals. Peggy has said so time and again. So, please, take him, ‘our child’ and send him on. He certainly is entitled to that. With love Al. P.S. Hey, bury me in my gray suit. Al.”

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The following day, the coroner released the results from Peggy’s autopsy. Her death was apparently caused by a combination of low vitality, run-down condition and a heart attack. “A chemical analysis has not yet been completed by the Coroner,” a police representative said, “but examination so far shows no traces of poison or any bruises or marks.”

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Ironically, Albert Roberts’s body was not laid next to Peggy’s, but was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. Whether it was the decision of his family or Peggy’s to not have them be together, is not known.

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A few weeks after Peggy’s death, her mother hired  private detectives and attorneys to investigate deeper into her daughter’s death. Nothing apparently came of their search.

.

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Peggy Shannon’s grave at Hollywood Forever is near the southern border of Section 5 in plot 31, grave 4. Her pink tombstone is inscribed “That Red-Headed Girl, Peggy Shannon.” Her mother and sister are buried nearby.

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 …

Miriam Hopkins and Darth Vader

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Dec 8th, 2011
2011
Dec 8

MIRIAM HOPKINS

Miriam Hopkins and Darth Vader

 

  

What is the connection between Miriam Hopkins and Darth Vader of Star Wars?

 

 

Hurray for Google! The majority of answers were correct. In 1936, Miriam went to England and appeared in a film for Alexander Korda called Men Are Not Gods. Her costars were Gertrude Lawrence and Sebastian Shaw. They were involved in a love triangle with both women in love with him. In the film Shaw was married to Lawrence and had a clandestine affair with Miriam.

 

Shaw continued to do occasional films but mostly was seen on stage and television. In 1983, George Lucas chose him to play the unmasked and dying, Darth Vader. He was credited as Anakin Skywalker, and was also seen as his spirit in a vision to his son, Luke.

 

 

Miriam day-dreams of Darth Vader 

 

  

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Happy Birthday Miriam Hopkins!

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 18th, 2011
2011
Oct 18

 

 

AMERICAN ACTRESS

 

October 18, 1902, Savannah, Georgia

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