Classic Hollywood #33

James Stewart & Orson Welles Visit James Cagney On The Set Of His New Movie – 1957

James Stewart James Cagney Orson Welles August 20 1957

STEWART AND WELLES HELP CAGNEY “GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD”

Jimmy Stewart, left, and Orson Welles, right, paid a surprise visit to the famed Phantom Stage at Universal-International Studio to extend best wishes to Jimmy Cagney at the start of production on “Man Of A Thousand Faces,” the life story of Lon Chaney, Hollywood’s famed man of mystery. Stewart was filming “Night Passage” on an adjoining stage at the studio and Welles was on the lot starring with Jeff Chandler and Colleen Miller in “Pay The Devil.” “Man Of A Thousand Faces,” also starring Dorothy Malone, “Oscar” winner for her portrayal in “Written On The Wind,” and Jane Greer. Joseph Pevney directed for Producer Robert Arthur. (credit: Universal-International Photos August 20, 1957)

Lon Chaney and his makeup kitMan Of A Thousand Faces was not one of Jimmy Cagney’s better films. As good as Cagney was, he was miscast as Lon Chaney who he did not even remotely resemble. Here is a rare photograph of Lon Chaney with his famed make-up kit.

Lon Chaney was considered one of the greatest actors of the 1920′s making hit film after hit film such as The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Chaney died of bronchial cancer in 1930 at the age of 47. Chaney is mostly forgotten by modern film audiences because he made only one sound film, The Unholy Three.

Had Chaney lived, that might not have been the case. He was director Tod Browning’s first choice for the lead in Dracula (1931). Instead, the starring role led to eternal fame for Bela Lugosi who had earlier played Count Dracula in the 1927-28 Broadway production.

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1949 Yankees All-Stars – DiMaggio, Berra, Henrich, Reynolds & Raschi

New York Yankees All-Stars Of Yesteryear

Vic Raschi Tommy Henrich Joe DiMaggio Allie Reynolds Yogi Berra Yanks All Stars July 6 1949 photo © Acme

In 2014, the struggling New York Yankees have three players that were named to the All-Star team: Derek Jeter, Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka, who will not play because of an elbow injury.

In 1949 the Yankees had five players play on the All-Star team. Seen in this photo from left to right are Vic Raschi, Tommy Henrich, Joe DiMaggio, Allie Reynolds and Yogi Berra.

There were 32,577 fans in attendance in what turned out to be a slugfest at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, as the American League topped the National League 11-7. Joe DiMaggio drove in three runs and Vic Raschi pitched three scoreless innings to get the save.

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Crazy Baseball All-Star Game Ticket Prices

$2.40 For An All-Star Game Box Seat?

Fenway Park ticket booth before the 1946 All Star Game

$2.40 for a box seat is not the crazy price we are talking about. Those days are long gone.

The scene above is Fenway Park where the 1946 All-Star Game was played. As fans lined up for tickets the night before the game at the box office (what a novel idea), they had the choice of purchasing box seats for $2.40 or reserved seats for $1.80.

Please direct your attention to the kids, wearing suits no less, neatly lined up waiting for tickets. Yes, even kids could save up $1.80 by delivering newspapers, mowing lawns or doing chores in 1946.

The crazy prices we are talking about are for the current baseball All-Star game.

According to a May 9 Forbes Magazine story, the 2014 baseball All Star Game in Minneapolis is the second most expensive ticket in All-Star game history. The article points out that according to a ticket broker who owns hundreds of MLB All-Star tickets the average ticket price for the 2014 All-Star Game is significantly higher than the previous four All-Star games, with a current average ticket price of $1,096. Continue reading

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Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente Before The 1961 All-Star Games

Before The Mid-Summer Classics Of 1961

NL All Stars 1961 Mays Cepeda Murtaugh Burgess Clemente

Pittsburgh (July 1) – All Stars – Danny Murtaugh, manager of the world champion Pittsburgh Pirates (center), looks over some mighty potent bats in the hands of four National League stars named for the All-Star baseball games July 11 at San Francisco and July 31 at Boston. They are (l to r) Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda of San Francisco and Smoky Burgess and Roberto Clemente of Pittsburgh (AP wire photo) 1961

For 1959 – 1962 two baseball All-Star games were played during the summer.

The National League won the first game on July 11, 1961 by a score of 5-4. Both Mays and Clemente played the whole game. Mays went 2 for 5 scoring twice and driving in a run when Mays doubled home Hank Aaron and scored on a single by Clemente in the tenth inning. Clemente went 2 for 4, scored one run and drove in two including the game winner.

This was also the legendary game where pitcher Stu Miller was allegedly blown off the mound in San Francisco’s windy Candlestick Park. To this day Miller denies it even though he was quoted after the game saying, “The wind blew me off the mound.”

In the second All-Star game at Boston’s Fenway Park July 31, 1961, the game was called after the ninth inning, a 1-1 tie. Again Mays and Clemente played the entire game with Mays going 1 for 3 and Clemente going 1 for 2.

The Pirates starting catcher Smoky Burgess always looked old in every photo I’ve ever seen of him. In 1961 he was only 34. If you met Smoky on the street you would probably think he was anything but a ballplayer – possibly a postal clerk or a truck driver. But Burgess, was indeed a six time all-star with a .295 career batting average, even if he didn’t look the part.

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Banning Cars On City Streets In Manhattan – Not A New Idea

Fifth Avenue – Sans Cars 1970

The Story Of Mayor John Lindsay’s Pedestrian Malls

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom photo shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970 as traffic was cleared

While many environmental and safety groups bandy about various schemes for making streets safer for pedestrians by removing or limiting cars from city streets, the idea is older than you might think.

During his tenure as mayor of New York City from 1966-1973, John Lindsay always favored pedestrians.

Lindsay’s initial ban of cars took place in May of 1969. Lindsay and the city closed a small area of Nassau Street in downtown Manhattan as part of a temporary 90 day experiment during lunch hour from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M..

After 90 days Lindsay declared the “experimental” closure permanent.

The next year on April 22, 1970 the city closed some streets for the first Earth Day.

It’s one thing to shut down a narrow street in the financial district or some larger streets for a special occasion like Earth Day, it’s quite another to ban cars in the heart of New York’s shopping district.

Lindsay’s bigger plans came to fruition, also as an experiment, 44 years ago on Saturday, July 11, 1970. Lindsay closed vehicular traffic from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., on a fifteen block stretch on Fifth Avenue from 42nd through 57th Streets.

The day before the experiment Mayor Lindsay said, “New Yorker’s should enjoy the most beautiful and exciting street when it becomes a pedestrian mall.”

This would also be different because the merchants along Fifth Avenue were not enamored with the idea. It was the first concerted effort by city officials to see the impact of a traffic closure on a major New York City street and observe the effects on noise, air quality and more importantly, quality of life. Continue reading

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This Is What Riding The Third Avenue Elevated Was Like In 1950

A Train Ride New Yorker’s Will Never Experience Again

This is a portrait of a vanished New York unlike any other ever captured on film.

This ten minute impressionistic documentary film Third Avenue El (1950) is occasionally shown on Turner Classic Movies. If you love old New York City and have never seen the film, I strongly recommend you watch it (below).

On all levels this is a magnificent film and I’m so grateful that writer/director Carson Davidson preserved so many aspects of mid-century New York, all in glorious color.

Service on the Third Ave. El ended in 1955 and the tracks were soon torn down, forever altering  the streets of New York.

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1942 Brooklyn Suicide Attempt

Edna Egbert About To Get Pushed Off A Ledge By The Police

Edna Egbert suicide attempt Brooklyn 497 Dean Street March 19 1942

The caption for this International News Photo reads:

Three Cops and A Woman In Life and Death Drama

New York – Four of the five principal characters in today’s (March 19) life or death drama staged in a Brooklyn residential district. Mrs. Edna Egbert, 50, is shown on the 2nd story ledge of her apartment while three policemen flank her trying to talk her out of her threat to jump in a suicide attempt. Failing to dissuade the woman, the policemen pushed her from the ledge– into a large emergency net that had been rigged below. The fifth hero in this drama is the first policeman on the scene, who kept Mrs. Egbert on her ledge for 25 minutes while the net was being rigged. (credit: International News Photo 3-19-42)

What the slug does not mention is what caused Mrs. Edna M. Egbert such distress.

In the past year Mrs. Egbert’s son Fred had gotten married, joined the army and had not written to her once in that time, so she presumed he was dead.

Mrs Egbert climbed onto a window ledge at her home at 497 Dean St., Brooklyn and screamed: “I’m going to jump.”

If you’re wondering, as I was, how you could kill yourself from only the second floor, to either side of Ms. Egbert was a spiky iron fence that could have easily impaled her.

While a crowd gathered on the street, one patrolman talked to Mrs. Egbert from the street while others rigged a net. As officers Ed Murphy and George Munday tried to persuade her to come back in to the building, she brandished a mirror and started swinging it at them.

Edna Egbert suicide attempt Brooklyn 497 Dean Street March 19 1942 NY Post

The police grabbed her arms and she proceeded to sit on the ledge. That is when they quickly pushed her into the net. The estimated 600 onlookers quickly dispersed and Mrs. Egbert was taken to Bellevue for observation.

According to census records, Mrs. Egbert was either 42 or 44-years-old, not 50 as noted in every article about this story. Her husband John Egbert was 64 and their wayward son Fred was 20.

Edna Egbert suicide attempt Brooklyn 497 Dean Street March 19 1942 now and then Photo Marc Hermann NY Daily News

Original b&w photo: Charles Payne NY Daily News

The Daily News featured another photograph from this event in a great photo essay entitled Then and Now, which mixes original crime scene photographs with modern images taken by Marc Hermann.

Whatever became of Mrs. Egbert and her non-writing son Fred is unknown.

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Classic Hollywood #32

Busby Berkeley and Joe E. Brown Check Out A Stripper – 1935

(l-r) Busby Berkeley Esther Burke Joe E Brown

(l-r) Busby Berkeley, Esther Burke, Joe E Brown

Stripper may not be the word for what Esther Burke did. But in the 1930′s it was close to it.

The women in the background are portraying burlesque performers and were part of the chorus of the 1935 Busby Berkeley comedy Bright Lights starring Joe E. Brown, Ann Dvorak, Patricia Ellis and William Demarest.

The caption to the publicity photo reads:

Esther Burke, burlesque queen is all ready to contribute her talents to the opening chapters of “Broadway Joe”, Joe E. Brown’s latest starring vehicle for Warner Bros., with Joe playing a comic with a burlesque troupe. (credit: International News Photo June 8, 1935)

Esther Burke was uncredited in the film, yet was featured singing a song, Powder My Back. Very little information could be found on her, except that she was indeed a burlesque performer during the 1920′s and 1930′s.

Director Busby Berkeley created some of the great images of the silver screen with overhead shots of intricate dance numbers featuring chorus girls.

Joe E. Brown is immortal for saying one of the greatest closing lines in movie history in Billy Wilder’s, Some Like It Hot (1959).

Warning: spoiler to follow if you have never seen the movie -

Jack Lemmon, who plays Daphne, a man masquerading as a woman, informs Brown’s character millionaire Osgood Fielding III, several reasons why they cannot marry, Brown is unperturbed.

Exasperated, Lemmon finally confesses he is a man to which Brown responds “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

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Great Baseball Nicknames – Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones

Willie “Puddin Head” Jones Safe At The Plate 1949

Willie Puddin Head Jones Joe Garagiola 1949

Did anyone ever call “Puddin’ Head” Jones, Willie? Jones even signed his baseball card with his nickname.

1959 Topps Puddin' Head Jones baseball card

1959 Topps Puddin’ Head Jones baseball card

“Puddin’ Head” Jones, had a lifetime .258  batting average with 190 career home runs and 812 RBI’s. Known for his defensive prowess around the hot corner, “Puddin’ Head” played most of his fifteen seasons in the majors as the starting third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1947-1959.

“Puddin’ Head” was traded by the Phillies to Cleveland for a short eleven game stint and was then sold to the Cincinnati Reds for the remainder of the 1959 season. He remained there until he was released in 1961 at the age of 35.

“Puddin’ Head’s” best offensive output was during the Phillies 1950 pennant winning season in which he batted .267 with 25 home runs and 88 RBI’s with 100 runs scored.

So just how did “Puddin’ Head” get his unique nickname? He received it as a child after a song that was popular in the 1930′s called Wooden Head, Puddin’ Head Jones.

In the action photograph shown above, “Puddin’ Head” Jones is safe at home plate as Cardinals catcher Joe Garagiola awaits the throw.

Here is the original caption:

July 16, 1949 – Philadelphia Phillies – St. Louis baseball. Willie Jones of Phils safe at home in third inning. Del Ennis hit to third baseman Kazak  of Cards who threw him out at first. First sackman Nelson of the Cards then threw home to Garagiola (catcher) but it was too late. Jones was safe (credit  ACME Telephoto)

“Puddin’ Head” Jones died from cancer of the lymph glands at the age of 58 in Cincinnati, OH on October 18, 1983.

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The Craigslist Of Its Day – 1906

New York Times Lost And Found Simultaneous Classified Ads, Results In Diamond Brooch Being  Returned To Its Owner

diamond broochIf you look at old editions of newspapers from around the turn of the century you’ll notice the classified advertisements made up sometimes up to one quarter of the paper.

A typical weekday edition of the New York Times back then was only around twelve pages.

As such, people read newspapers from cover to cover and the classified’s acted as the craigslist of their day with all sorts of wanted ads: jobs and situations wanted, real estate and merchandise offerings and lost and found’s.

This story appeared in the January 26, 1906 New York Times:

HER LOST JEWEL RECOVERED

The Finder Took Mrs. Morgan’s Reward and Both Are Satisfied

Mrs. D.P. Morgan of 70 Park Avenue lost a jewel in a car on Sunday. She inserted the following advertisement in THE TIMES of Friday:

LOST- Sunday, Jan. 21, on 4th Av. car entered at 38th St, or in 47th St., between 4th and 6th Avs., circular brooch, size of a nickel, of 13 diamonds. If returned to 70 Park Av. $40 reward.

The same day this advertisement was brought to THE TIMES:

FOUND – In Madison Av. car, Sunday, one 13-stone diamond brooch, which will be, upon proper identification, returned to its owner for the reward of $100: make arrangements to receive same C.O.D. by express. T.X. Box 305 Times Square.

As the result of the publication of both advertisements “T.X.” has returned the jewel. He received the $40 reward and in addition the cost of his own advertisement in THE TIMES, and he is content. Mrs. Morgan is equally pleased.

“It is the first time that this brooch has been so speedily found,” said Mrs. Morgan yesterday. “It has been lost twice already . Perhaps because it had thirteen stones. I think I will either leave it at home in future or have a stone added or removed.”

Probably the most amazing thing about this article is that Mrs. Morgan lost the brooch twice previously and it was returned each time. She sounds rather cavalier about it, as if it is expected that if you lose something valuable in New York City, of course it will be returned to the rightful owner. Maybe the city was once like that, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen today.

The second part of Mrs. Morgan’s solution to not losing the brooch in the future is also quite bizarre or extremely superstitious. How altering the brooch from thirteen diamonds to an even number of diamonds will prevent its future loss is baffling, as it is illogical.

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