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The Story of Hollywood Forever’s ‘Cupid and Psyche’

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 28th, 2011
2011
May 28

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

For the first time in its history, emissaries from leading Hollywood organizations took part in observance of Memorial Day 1929, which included the unveiling of a marble replica of Antonio Canova’s sculptural masterpiece, “Cupid and Psyche, or Love’s Triumph Over Death,” in plaisance before the memorial chapel of Hollywood Cemetery.

 

The ceremonies would be conducted under the auspices of Hollywood Post, No. 43, of the American Legion, with other organizations participating including such groups as Hollywood First Presbyterian Church, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Hollywood and Fairfax High School Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), Hollywood Bowl Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, G.A.R. and the Hollywood Police Department.

 

 

Above, the ‘Cupid and Psyche’ replica on display at Lake Como 

where the Hollywood Forever replica was carved.

 

 

The exact replica of “Cupid and Psyche,” carved from Italian marble, was ordered by Hollywood Cemetery’s manager, Frank Heron and was carved at Lake Como, Italy at a cost of approximately $25,000. Another replica carved by a student of Canova’s still rests in Lake Como and was the inspiration for the Hollywood Cemetery reproduction.

 

Canova’s original called ‘Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss,’ first commissioned in 1787, was donated to the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1824 by Joachim Murat; Prince Yusupov, a Russian nobleman who originally acquired the piece in Rome in 1796, gave a later version (created in 1796) to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

 

 

Above, the original Canova statue at the Louvre

 

 

Art representatives in Europe assured Frank Heron that few experts could tell the difference between the original and the replica being sent to Hollywood. The statue is reputed to be the only marble replica of the masterpiece in the United States. There were three copies of “Cupid and Psyche” in America but they were made of plaster – at the Metropolitan, Chicago and Carnegie Museums. The statue reached New York City on May 9, 1929 and arrived in Hollywood two weeks later.

 

On Thursday, May 30, 1929, Hollywood’s first Memorial Day parade assembled at the Legion Stadium on El Centro and, with a police escort and the Hollywood Legion band leading, proceeded down El Centro to Sunset Boulevard, west on Sunset to Vine, south to Santa Monica and east on Santa Monica to Hollywood Cemetery where Memorial Day services were conducted.

 

 

 

 

Dr. H. M. Cook, world traveler, was master of ceremonies. The principal feature of the exercises was the unveiling of the marble replica of “Cupid and Psyche,” in front of the Chapel of the Pines followed by addresses from Judge Rosenkranz and Mrs. Leland Atherton Irish, the military salute to the dead and decorating of soldiers’ graves. More than 300 veterans of all wars were buried in Hollywood Cemetery at the time.

 

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, under the direction of Mrs. Thomas Jefferson Douglas, conducted a service at the Confederate plot. A brief address was delivered by W. E. Edmondson, retired chaplain of the United States Navy and of the American Legion of California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Monday, May 30, 2011, the statue will celebrate 82 years at its present location.

 

It’s rumored that when Jean Harlow died in 1937, her fiancé William Powell considered purchasing the statue for her final resting place but decided on Forest Lawn in Glendale instead.

 

 

 

 

I have no idea if the statue is still available for purchase or the asking price if it is, however it certainly would make a beautiful and historic permanent residence.

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Courthouse Wall of Fame

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 10th, 2011
2011
Jan 10

FILM HISTORY

Wall of Fame recalled Star’s visits to courthouse press room

 

 

Above is the County Courthouse that was located at Temple and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles where the Wall of Fame resided in the press room. Notice the low granite wall at the bottom of the photo. Remarkably, portions of this wall still remain. (lapl)

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

The Civic Center in downtown Los Angeles is where several courthouses mete out their justice, sometimes to Hollywood celebrities. Before many of the building that now stands there were erected, there stood an old brownstone Courthouse located at Temple Street and Broadway. It stood for forty-five years until it was razed after being damaged in the Long Beach earthquake of March 1933.

 

When it was finally demolished in 1934, it took with it the old press room and its unique Wall of Fame and the signatures of stars, who for this or that reason had been in court, or the marriage license bureau. Scrawled in either pencil or crayon, one could find the names of Charlie Chaplin, Tom Mix, George Bancroft, Harry Langdon, Eugene O’Brien, Doris Kenyon, Ethel Clayton, Constance and Natalie Talmadge, Pauline Starke, Jean Harlow and Bebe Daniels. There were a lot more and each one had its own story.

 

Of course, not all the screen stars who appeared in court, inscribed their names on the Wall of Fame. Some, the reporters failed to corral; others could not be lured to the press room. There were some who flatly refused. Among the latter was William Powell, who had come with Carole Lombard, for a marriage license. Powell, when confronted by the wall, glared reproachfully at the reporters and demanded: “Gentlemen, isn’t anything sacred?” The reporters thought he was kidding until he turned and stalked out of the press room fairly oozing indignation.

 

 

 

 

Jack Hoxie was first to sign the wall and his signature was the largest. Oddly enough, Tom Mix’s name was one of the smallest and Charlie Chaplin’s was the hardest to read.  

 

And what did they appear for? Harry Langdon, asserting he had but $40 with which to pay $60,000 his divorced wife sought as property settlement. The case was dismissed and Harry was smiling when he signed the wall. Divorce also steered the Talmadge sisters into the press room. Natalie Talmadge was fighting Buster Keaton over custody of their children. Constance was a witness. The prolonged contests between Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey Chaplin, also concerning the care of their children is well known. When the reporters tried to lure Lita to the press room she balked, saying she always wanted to know what she was expected to do before she went places with strangers.

 

Besides the signature of James Quirk of Photoplay magazine, was pasted the headline announcing his death. His wife, May Allison, also signed. Reporters tried to get Paul Bern to sign the wall when he and Jean Harlow applied for their marriage license, but both refused to visit the press room because they were “radiantly happy and in a terrible hurry.” A few months later, dressed in widow’s attire, Jean returned to probate Paul Bern’s will. This time she signed the wall.

 

Doris Kenyon, widow of Milton Sills, was considered by a majority of the court reporters, as the grandest girl to affix her signature to the Wall of Fame. They designated Polly Moran as “the hard egg with the soft heart.” Polly crashed the press room the day she appeared to legally adopt a 16-year-old boy she had taken from an orphanage when he was only a few months old.

 

One of the funniest incidents connected with signing the wall centered on Richard Barthelmess who was suing to recover securities alleged to have been misappropriated. His wife was with him and they consented to have a picture taken together. She sat in a chair and Barthelmess stood beside her. The photographer snapped his picture and after the couple had gone, remarked to the reporters: “I think I got a good picture of that dame but I had an awful job keeping that rube out of it, he was standing so close.” The reporters, on informing him that the “rube” was Richard Barthelmess, used language which allegedly made even the signatures on the wall blush.

 

 

Richard Barthelmess, his wife and family

 

 

The names of Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels graced the wall as the result of the trial of Bebe’s lunatic lover.” Edna Murphy signed when she got her divorce from director Mervyn LeRoy. Gertrude Olmstead was a witness at the trial and also signed. The reporters recalled, however, that Gertrude was rather embarrassed by the ordeal of clambering on the table in order to write her name.

 

George Bancroft divided honors with Jack Hoxie as the most massive man to have perpetuated his signature. He appeared in court to contest an agent’s claim for $30,000 of commissions. Hoxie had been up on alimony charges.

 

Several of the signatures recalled the tragic death of Alma Rubens. They were obtained during the libel suit brought against Photoplay and James Quirk by Ruben’s mother, and included Eileen Percy’s and Claire Windsor’s. ZaSu Pitts was another witness, but would not sign. The reporters declared her to be the most “publicity shy” screen star they encountered. She also eluded the news-hounds when she divorced her husband, Tom Gallery. The Courthouse scribes were not certain which cases brought Tom Mix, Edwin Carewe and Mae Murray to the Wall of Fame, as their court appearances was so numerous. Legal battles over the Mix children and property disputes made Mix a familiar figure and both Mae Murray and Carewe were central figures in countless suits over property, contracts and other things. Pauline Starke’s court appearance was mainly due to the protracted battle with her former husband, Jack White.

 

The reporters captured director Robert Vignola and Eugene O’Brien when they appeared in court as character witnesses for a young man who had gotten into trouble and Stanley Fields immortalized himself by apprehending a burglar in his apartment.

 

 

Above a rare image of the Wall of Fame located in the County Courthouse press room 

 

 

Most of the females who signed the wall were space conservers. That is except Constance Cummings and Vivian Duncan, whose names stand out like sore thumbs. Cummings had just won a contract suit, while the half of the famous Duncan sisters won a divorce from Nils Asther on the ground of too much mother-in-law. Another signer brought to the wall by the divorce route was Lola Lane when she parted company with Lew Ayres.

 

Duncan Renaldo was the only signer of the Wall of Fame who had gone to jail, though this happened later than when he actually signed the wall. His name was obtained when he was the central figure in the alienation case against Edwina Booth, which came as the aftermath to a “location” trip to Africa.

 

Snub Pollard also appeared on the wall as did that of Lowell Sherman, whose matrimonial adventures with Pauline Garon and later with Helene Costello brought him into the press room.

 

When the fate of the old courthouse was sealed, the reporters lost interest in their famous wall, knowing it soon would be destroyed. The visitors of the last few months were not asked to sign. During the last two or three months there were many noteworthy eligible’s including Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Estelle Taylor, Colleen Moore and Marian Nixon. Crawford was one of the last asked to sign, the occasion being her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. She refused. The reporters asserted she was so nervous and shaky it was doubtful if she could have written her name of the floor, much less on the wall.

 

Signing the Wall of Fame grew to be quite a ceremonial and somewhat of an athletic function. It was necessary to step onto a chair and then mount onto a table in order to reach the designated spot and in addition to the gentlemen of the press, court attachés and sometimes the judges themselves would assemble to witness the event. In fact, gazing up at a movie star was really something to talk about afterward.

 

It’s too bad that the Wall of Fame could not have been saved or moved to another location. When the new courthouse was built, there was another press room, but it was never the same.

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William Powell in the 1930 Census

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 15th, 2010
2010
Nov 15

1930 CENSUS

William Powell

(1892-1984)

Film actor

Nick Charles in The Thin Man (1934)

 

 

 

 

 La Belle Jour Apartment House

6200 Franklin Avenue, Apt. 401

Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California

 

Rent, $265

Radio

April [undated] 1930

 

HOUSEHOLD RESIDENTS*

 

  1. Horatio W. Powell (head), 63 / Pennsylvania / Accountant / General practice.
  2. Nettie M. Powell (wife), 55 / Pennsylvania / None.
  3. William H. Powell (son), 35 / divorced / Pennsylvania / Actor / Film studio.

 

NOTE: This is a private residence. Please DO NOT disturb the occupants.

____________________

 

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

  

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

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Luise Rainer Will be 100

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 10th, 2010
2010
Jan 10

 INTERVIEWS

Cinema heavens welcome Luise Rainer, newest star

 

 

 

Tomorrow is the 100th birthday of cinema icon, Luise Rainer, the recipient of two consecutive Academy Awards. She joins the ranks of entertainment centarians George Abbott (1887-1995), Bruce Bennett (1906-2007), Irving Berlin (1888-1989), Margaret Booth (1898-2002), George Burns (1896-1996), Claire Du Brey (1892-1993), Bob Hope (1903-2003), Dolores Hope (b. 1909), Barbara Kent (b. 1906), Carla Laemmle (b. 1909), Charles Lane (1905-2007), Francis Lederer (1899-2000), Florence Lee (1858-1962), Huey Long (1904-2009), Irving Rapper (1898-1999), Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003), Hal Roach (1892-1992), Frederica Sagor Maas (b. 1900), Miriam Seegar (b. 1907), George Beverly Shea (b. 1909), Dorothy Stickney (1896-1998), Doris Eaton Travis (b. 1904), Senor Wences (1896-1999), Estelle Winwood (1883-1984), Dorothy Young (b. 1907), Adolph Zukor (1873-1976). Note: Dorothy Janis will turn 100 on February 19, 2010. The following is a Los Angeles Times story about Rainer’s film debut in Escapade, almost 75 years ago.

 

By Katherine T. Von Blon
Los Angeles Times
July 8, 1935

 

A lustrous and exciting personality flashes across the cinematic horizon in Luise Rainer, M-G-M’s Viennese prodigy, appearing opposite William Powell in Escapade at the Chinese and Loew’s State theaters.

 

There’s so much emotion and dynamic energy stored in the small compact body of this wistful little lady, that one could never hope to press it into mere words. She’s a series of contradictions, and as fluid as quicksilver. One moment she’s gay and the next she’s sunk in depths of despair.

 

Luise is terrified of strangers. She has just come from one of those imposing studio luncheons, given for visiting nabobs. She huddled in a corner of the divan, like a small frightened rabbit, and managed one of her sudden, ingratiating smiles. “Luise doesn’t understand the English very welll.” She has a habit of speaking of herself objectively.

 

This same elfin creature will hold the entire studio force at bay, when it comes to a question of her artistic integrity.

 

“When I say to them, ‘Luise cannot do it that way,’ it is because I do not feel it, and I never do anything I do not feel here.” Needless to say, Luise gets her way and by the same token, those in authority admit that she has a sixth sense and is invariably right. However, there have been some stormy scenes, ending with the volatile star taking French leave.

 

Luise thinks American men are enormously fascinating, but she doesnt’ know how to take them. “Your American men, they are most charming. They all walk on little pink clouds. They are so happy and carefree. But you do not know if they love you, or if they are just your friend. The men, they are more serious in Europe.”

 

Luise has a passion for music and Beethoven is one of her mightiest gods. She said: “I have just purchased a beautiful phonograph that plays the entire Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, without interruption. It is heavenly.”

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Thanksgiving in Hollywood, 1931

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 26th, 2009
2009
Nov 26

HOLLYWOOD HISTORY

How Hollywood stars celebrated Thanksgiving in 1931

 

thanksgiving

 

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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