Olivia de Havilland Hollywood’s Greatest Living Movie Star Is 100-Years-Old Today

Olivia de Havilland – The Last Great Star of The Golden Age of Hollywood Turns 100 Today

Olivia De Havilland February 1939 photo: George Hurrell

Olivia De Havilland February 1939 photo: George Hurrell

When you think about the Golden Age of Hollywood during the 1930s you realize practically everyone from that era of fabulous film-making is dead.

Except one great star – the two time Oscar winning actress, Olivia de Havilland who turns 100 on July 1, 2016.

Olivia de Havilland is the last link to a Hollywood that has vanished. When Olivia de Havilland began her film career in 1935 it was a time when movie studios cultivated, built up and groomed actors and taught them the elements of acting, song and dance. The studios then placed actors in several films a year to build their popularity with extensive publicity behind them.

The downside was that the studios also controlled the lives of the stars, and many of them did not appreciate the meddling into their private lives. Many movie stars resented the way they were treated by the studios and the non-stop work schedule. But a lot of the movies the stars made are considered classics today and the stars the studios created became legendary.

Olivia de Havilland has starred with all the past film greats. To name them all would be an extensive list, but here are a few: Errol Flynn in many movies; Clark Gable, Leslie Howard and Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind; Frederic March; Claude Rains; James Cagney; Rita Hayworth; Charles Boyer; Bette Davis; Frank Sinatra and dozens of other stars – every one of them are now all gone.

Olivia de Havilland on her 90th BirthdayOlivia de Havilland wrote a short memoir in 1962, Every French Man Has One (Random House).  She has said she was working on writing a real autobiography for several years now. I just hope it does get completed and sees the light of day. She has so much to say and there is a lot she has never revealed, including the reasons behind her famous feud with her sister Joan Fontaine and the details of her relationship with Errol Flynn which apparently was platonic.

I know there is a time Olivia de Havilland will no longer be with us and that makes me very sad. But it makes me happy to know that Olivia de Havilland is according to all reports in very good health and loving her life in France where she resides.

Presented below is a short gallery of Olivia de Haviiland in vintage photographs many of which have not been seen since they were originally released. I’ve read Continue reading

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Charles Lindbergh Was Not The First Flier To Cross The Atlantic – And Other Unusual Things You Didn’t Know

Lindbergh Didn’t Cross The Atlantic First

7 Strange and Unusual Historical Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

When I was a kid I remember reading a copy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not and coming across the “fact” that Charles Lindbergh was “merely the 67th person” to fly across the Atlantic.

Albert C Read's seaplane that crossed the Atlantic in 1919

Albert C Read’s seaplane that crossed the Atlantic in 1919

Technically Ripley was correct. The first person to cross the Atlantic was Lieutenant Commander Albert C. Read. On May 16-27, 1919 Read flew in a seaplane, the NC-4, from Newfoundland to the Azores and on to Lisbon Portugal. it was not a non-stop flight like Lindbergh was to accomplish eight years later, but even so I never learned that in school.

Lindbergh was not even the first to make a non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Captain John Alcock and Arthur W. Brown flew non-stop in a British biplane from Newfoundland to Ireland in a little over 16 hours on June 14, 1919.

So with that nugget of history, here are six more unusual facts that you probably didn’t know.

Why We Shake Hands With Our Right Hands
The custom of shaking hands has come down to us from the time when almost everyone carried a sword or knife. In those days when one met a stranger, it was customary as a matter of friendly intention, to hold out the right hand to show it did not hold a sword or knife.

It Was Predicted Skyscrapers Would Not Be Economically Practical Over Time
In 1939 It was estimated by the National Association of Real Estate Boards that “it is unlikely that the period of economic usefulness of a skyscraper can be much longer than forty years.”

In The Early 20th Century There Was A Proposal To Go To A 13 Month Calendar
Moses B. Cotsworth’s idea was to replace the 12 month Gregorian calendar,with a 13 month calendar. Cotsworth’s calendar would apply uniformity to the number of days in each month – thirteen months each comprising 28 days. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #53 – 10 Stunning Photos of Claudia Cardinale

10 Stunning Photos of Claudia Cardinale – A Natural Beauty

Claudia Cardinale with towel

In the 1960s and 1970s Claudia Cardinale would consistently be on or near the top of the most beautiful women in the world lists. Besides emitting a natural beauty that few movie stars have today, Cardinale’s a talented actress. Cardinale has starred in some of the most iconic films of the 1960s including (1963) The Professionals (1966), and Sergio Leone’s 1968 classic Once Upon A Time in the West. At age 78 Cardinale is still active making films today.

Claudia Cardinale moves her hair

When you see all the current pretty models and movie stars, almost all of them come off as having a degree of artificiality. There is something about Claudia Cardinale’s looks that seems completely natural. I know it’s an illusion. Actresses are all made to look their best in photographs and on film. But Cardinale has a unique look. Maybe it’s her eyes or the shape of her face or her smile. I don’t know. But whatever it is, there’s no actress or model today that can come close to Cardinale’s beauty.

We’ll let the following photographs of Claudia Cardinale provide the proof. (click any photo to enlarge.)

Claudia Cardinale waits in bedClaudia Cardinale bathing suit cooling off Continue reading

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A Schlitz Beer Ad You Won’t Believe

When There Was Absolutely No Truth In Advertising

Why Drink Water, When You Can Drink Schlitz?

Schlitz Beer Puck Magazine 1904“Doctors Say Drink More Schlitz”

Which doctors? Doctor Al K. Holic?

Today would the Federal Trade Commission have a problem with this Schlitz beer ad? Probably, but this ad is from a 1904 Puck Magazine. And the creation of the FTC to oversee truth in advertising was another 10 years off.

That’s what I love about 1904. You could say almost any ridiculous thing in print and get away with it.  Continue reading

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Old New York In Postcards #15

Postcard Views of 125th Street – The Heart of Harlem 1905-1910

A dreamy view of 125th Street looking east from the elevated station circa 1910

A dreamy colored sky hangs over 125th Street looking east from 8th Avenue circa 1910

What was 125th Street like at the turn of the 20th century? It was the commercial center of a genteel neighborhood, the heart of Harlem. Restaurants, hotels, businesses and entertainment venues lined the prosperous street. 1900 census data shows the area was white with almost no blacks living around the surrounding streets. Residents around the area were primarily Jewish, Italian, German or WASP.

View of 125th Street looking west from 7th Avenue. The Hotel Winthrop is on the left the Harlem Opera House with finials atop its roof is on the right circa 1907.

View of 125th Street looking west from 7th Avenue. The Hotel Winthrop is on the left the Harlem Opera House with finials atop its roof is on the right circa 1907.

By 1910, things were changing and blacks now made up around 10 percent of Harlem’s population.  That gradual change occurred after real estate speculators built apartments when  the subway was being constructed between 1900 and 1904. The anticipated housing boom was a bust and these buildings were slow to fill with white tenants. A shrewd black real estate manager and developer Philip Payton Jr. was instrumental in changing the demographics of Harlem starting at 133rd Street and Lenox Avenue around 1905. Payton seized the opportunity in filling new and vacant buildings with black families. Soon other surrounding blocks were attracting black families.

Another view of 125th Street west of 7th Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.). Keith & Proctor's sign sits atop the vaudeville theater which was formerly The Harlem Opera House circa 1910.

Another view of 125th Street west of 7th Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.). Keith & Proctor’s sign sits atop the vaudeville theater which was formerly The Harlem Opera House circa 1910.

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Old New York In Photos #64

Gracie Square, 84th Street and East End Avenue 1949

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 1

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 2

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 3This sequence of photos from 1949 show a car coming down East 84th Street and entering 110 Gracie Square.

The stills are from the movie East Side, West Side starring Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck and James Mason.

The vantage point from the dead end of East 84th Street is one you will rarely see in old photos of New York. The wall in the foreground marks one of the entrances to Carl Schurz Park.

Nearly seven decades later the changes in this view are minimal.

84th Street Google 2009Some of the canopy’s to the buildings along Gracie Square are gone. 110 Gracie Square was renumbered for the film, it is really 10 Gracie Square, one of the most exclusive co-op buildings in the city. Built in 1930 as a rental building, famous past residents include Gloria Vanderbilt, conductor Leopold Stokowski (Vanderbilt’s husband), New York Times editor and author Charles Merz, and theater critic and author Alexander Woollcott. A five bedroom penthouse apartment has been on the market for over two years. Why so long? The original price tag was $23 million. Currently the asking price will only set you back $15 million, but be prepared for the monthly maintenance charges of $16,747. In 1937 the building went into foreclosure and the entire building was sold for $450,000!

The building seen in the first two photographs on the northwest corner of 84th Street and East End Avenue is the Chapin School, Continue reading

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The GREATEST Muhammad Ali TV Appearance EVER!

Muhammad Ali Appearing on Candid Camera

Muhammad Ali Candid Camera 1974While every network is showing Muhammad Ali in boxing retrospectives, we wanted to show something completely different.

For those who do not remember Alan Funt’s Candid Camera, it was the first TV show to do what so many other shows would later try and imitate; capture regular people’s reactions to extraordinary, sometimes crazy situations.

The day Muhammad Ali shows up in a New York City school classroom is one of the greatest stunts the show ever did. The reactions of the children are priceless.

I remember vividly seeing Muhammad Ali on Candid Camera when this episode aired in 1974  and thinking “how come no celebrities appear at my school?”

This video just displays a totally different side of Ali. It also shows how popular Muhammad Ali was to an entire generation, especially kids. This clip is only five minutes long, but it is hilarious.

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Muhammad Ali Dies

Muhammad Ali – 1942- 2016 – A Short Remembrance in Photos

Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in 1963 photo: Marvin Newman

Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in 1963 photo: Marvin Newman

Muhammad Ali died Friday, June 3, 2016 at the age of 74.

To an entire generation he was “The Greatest.”

Was he the greatest heavyweight boxer of all-time? Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson, Mike Tyson and Rocky Marciano might disagree. Continue reading

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Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

June 1, 2016 Would Have Been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

10 Rare Photographs From Her Life

A simply stunning unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde's home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

A simply stunning, unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde’s home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

June 1 marks Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday. We have pondered this before: what would an elderly Marilyn Monroe have been like? Reclusive and mentally ill like her mother was? Elder stateswoman of the movies and spokesperson for women’s rights? It’s all conjecture, there’s obviously no clear answer.

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

As much as Marilyn accomplished, her life was unfulfilled. No babies, no aging to segue into nuanced character roles in films, no Broadway or television career, no venturing into social activism on issues that would have concerned her.

When Marilyn died at the age of 36 in 1962, she became immortalized in ways that probably would have amused her. The movie goddess is still forever young, and has become an icon of many things: the 1950s; glamor; gay rights; womanhood and sex to name a few.

As time passes and the people who actually knew her pass away, Marilyn becomes more of a figurehead of a time rather than a once living flesh and blood person. Authors are drawn to Marilyn and have made her the subject of hundreds of books and millions of words analyzing her without knowing her.

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1950 film which includes Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan's Island!)

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1951 film which includes Donald Crisp, Jeffrey Lynn and Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island!)

This literary interest in every aspect of Marilyn’s life was not displayed when she was alive. Only six books were written about her during her lifetime. True, there were the articles in magazines that gave superficial glimpses into her life. But Marilyn and the publicity machine that surrounded her obfuscated much of who she really was.

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

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In South Korea People Believe Electric Fans Cause Death

Many South Koreans Believe That Household Electric Fans Cause Death By Asphyxiation and Hypothermia

ge electric fanYou may have heard of people losing fingers by sticking their hands into spinning fan blades, but have you ever heard of an electric fan sucking all the air out of a room and killing you through asphyxiation?

Of course not, unless you were brought up in South Korea.

You see, in the 1970’s to conserve electricity use, the South Korean government spread a rumor that electric fans could cause death by hypothermia or asphyxiation.

Well that would certainly cut down on your fan use!

As illogical and unscientific as this situation sounds, many people in South Korea believe it to be true.

Below is an excerpt from May 24 New York Times about the situation: Continue reading

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