Category Archives: Classic Hollywood

Series: Photographs of Hollywood’s Cinema Stars

Classic Hollywood #57 – Cary Grant & Ginger Rogers

Cary Grant Never Won An Academy Award For Best Actor


The Academy Awards were held February 26, 2017. Millions of people watched. Millions more did not. The Oscars have been declining in TV viewership steadily over the years. It’s true that there are more choices to divert your entertainment time. But could it be that today’s stars don’t measure up to the stars of yesteryear and many people like myself could care less about the Academy Awards?

There are movie stars and then there are Movie Stars. Cary Grant was a Movie Star. Women fantasized about being with him and men wanted to be him.

In 1952 Cary Grant starred with Ginger Rogers (seen above) in Monkey Business, a zany comedy about a scientist (Grant) discovering a potion that when consumed will make you young again. An escaped chimpanzee is responsible for concocting the “successful” potion. The film also had Marilyn Monroe playing a sexy secretary. Monkey Business was made right before Marilyn’s  breakthrough film Niagara.

4/7/70 Hollywood – As singer Frank Sinatra claps for him, actor Cary Grant holds his hands as he accepts a special achievement award at the 42nd annual Academy award presentation at the Music Center. The Board of Governors of the Academy voted the special award for Grant. photo: UPI Telephoto

Cary Grant was nominated only twice for Best Actor in a leading role; Penny Serenade (1941) and None But The Lonely Heart (1944), neither of which are among his best films. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #56 – Johnny Weissmuller a.k.a. Tarzan of the Apes

Johnny Weissmuller Takes A Dive – 1948

Three Things You Didn’t Know About The Cinema’s Most Famous Tarzan

Tarzan Takes Off

Johnny Weissmuller better known as Tarzan of the Apes flies through the air with the greatest of ease, as he rehearses at Marshall Street Baths today (Monday) for his forthcoming Aquashow with Belita as his mate. February 16, 1948 (photo: Paramount)

Olympic multi gold-medal winner Michael Phelps is arguably the most famous swimmer in the world today.

If you had asked anyone living during the 1920s or 30s to name a male swimmer, Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984)would have been the answer 99 times out of 100. In 1950 the Associated Press named  Weissmuller the greatest swimmer of the first half of the 20th century.

Before Weismuller gained film stardom playing Tarzan of the Apes, he was setting swimming speed records during the 1920s. Weissmuller won five gold medals in the Olympics and 52 national championships. Weissmuller’s most amazing accomplishment as an amateur swimmer is that he never lost a race.

Weissmuller went on to play Tarzan a dozen times in films from 1932 – 1948.

Here are three things you might not have known about Johnny Weissmuller and Tarzan.

1 – How did Weissmuller get the role of Tarzan?

In 1932 screen writer Cyril Hume was working on a script called “Tarzan the Ape Man.” Hume had seen footage of Weissmuller that had been deleted from the film Glorifying The American Girl. Weissmuller had appeared in that film wearing nothing but a fig leaf and holding actress Mary Eaton on his shoulder.

Without realizing he was being asked to do a screen test Weissmuller was talked into into seeing director W.S. Van Dyke and producer Bernard Hyman by Cyril Hume. At the meeting Weissmuller was told to strip. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #55 – Party At The Cocoanut Grove 1937

Bennett, Roland, Davies and Fairbanks Party at The Cocoanut Grove -1937

constance-bennett-gilbert-roland-marion-davies-douglas-fairbanks-party-at-cocoanut-grove-february-10-1937

Looking at this picture the first thing you notice is, “It sure looks like these elegant people are having a lot of fun.”

The date is February 10, 1937 and the place is the Cocoanut Grove nightclub located inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The people partying were at the time among the biggest stars of Hollywood, past and present. From left to right, Constance Bennett, Gilbert Roland, Marion Davies and Douglas Fairbanks.

Who the party was for I could not find out, but almost every night there was a party at the Cocoanut Grove. In 1940 the Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Cocoanut Grove. The Ambassador Hotel closed to the public in 1989. Amid outcries from preservationists, the hotel was demolished in 2006 with the promise that portions of the hotel would be retained for the future, including the Cocoanut Grove. But due to the poor structural condition of the Cocoanut Grove most of the nightclub was eventually demolished leaving behind just one wall that still stands.

A brief note about the people in the photograph. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #54 – Katharine Hepburn 1940

Katharine Hepburn Looking Beautiful – Even Her Neck!

katharine-hepburn-1940-photo-van-damm-studioThere are a number of classic movie fans who like Katharine Hepburn as an actress but don’t care for her looks.

Looking at a photograph of Hepburn like this one taken in 1940 by Vandamm Studio, how could anyone say she doesn’t look absolutely beautiful?

The one feature Katharine Hepburn did not like about herself, especially as she aged, was her neck. She called it her “turkey neck.” By the end of the 1940s, wrinkles around her neck made her self conscious, and she would frequently cover up her neck both on screen and off. Continue reading

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

Classic Hollywood #52

Jayne Mansfield In An Unusual Pose

Jayne Mansfield satire striptease Las Vegas photo UPIThis undated photograph of an upside down Jayne Mansfield in a very sheer blouse was taken by a UPI photographer and is captioned “Jayne Mansfield in a satire of Las Vegas striptease.”

Jayne played Las Vegas a number of times beginning in 1958 and returned many times to pick up large paychecks: upwards of $25,000 per week.

Never a shy woman, in 1963 Mansfield revealed a lot more than this outfit does, when she appeared nude in the film Promises, Promises.

Classic Hollywood #51

James Cagney & Boris Karloff – 1940

James Cagney Boris Karloff 1940Movie Stars Twinkle At Own Party
Hollywood, Calif. – It was a dead heat when Boris Karloff (right) and James Cagney, screen menaces, exchanged leers on meeting at the first annual gambol of the Screen Actor’s Guild held here March 14. Credit line – Acme 3/16/40

Useful / Useless tidbits

The French Society of Mental Sciences in 1937 asked Boris Karloff to fill out an extensive 58 page questionnaire about his own mental health. The psychiatrists who put together the questionnaire were trying to determine how all the horror versus sympathetic roles Karloff had played on screen had affected his real life. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #50

Marilyn Monroe Without Makeup – 1954

Marilyn Monroe in the morning with no makeup cloes up photo Milton GreeneIt is said that Marilyn Monroe was an expert at posing for photographers. During her early modeling days she questioned her photographers about the technical aspects of photography and over time and with studying, Marilyn learned how to always look her best in front of the camera.

So it was unusual that anyone would ever get to photograph Marilyn without makeup.

It dd happen occasionally, but those sans makeup photographs are the exception.

With photographer and one time business partner Milton Greene, Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #49

Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney with hat

There is a lot that can be written about Gene Tierney (1920-1991), but I’ll keep it brief because her life has been well documented and Gene wrote her autobiography Self Portrait in 1979 which candidly told of her many ups and downs.

One thing most film aficionados agree on is that Gene Tierney was one of the most beautiful stars to ever grace the silver screen. During the height of her film career in the 1940s she adorned the covers of hundreds of magazines. She wasn’t just beautiful, she was stunningly drop dead gorgeous. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #48

Frank Sinatra And Family At The Stork Club – 1947

And the story of when Frank Sinatra met The Godfather author Mario Puzo.

Frank Sinatra and Family at Stork Club 1947

New York – FAMILY HARMONY – Dispelling the rumors of a rift, crooner Frank Sinatra takes time off to entertain his wife and their children Frankie Jr., and Nancy, with dinner at The Stork Club. 10 -17-1947

Despite the news caption that harmony had returned to the Sinatra marriage, it would be only three years later that Frank’s wife Nancy filed for legal separation. The two were divorced in 1951 and Frank immediately married Ava Gardner.

During December Turner Classic Movies has featured Frank Sinatra as its star of the month in honor of what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday.

One movie that TCM will not be showing as part of their Sinatra tribute will be The Godfather. Though Sinatra does not appear in the movie, the character of singer/actor Johnny Fontane was assumed to be based upon Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra and his lawyers were wary at the inclusion of the mob-affiliated Fontane character in the book and later the movie. The lawyers wanted to see a manuscript before the book was published. The request was refused.

In the book, Puzo thought he portrayed the Fontane character sympathetically. But Puzo also realized that if Sinatra thought the character was himself, he might not like it – the book  – or Puzo.

This turned out to be a very astute assumption: Sinatra was not pleased when he read the book.

After the publication of The Godfather in 1969, at Elaine’s restaurant in New York, Puzo had a clear indication he was not on Sinatra’s buddy list. Host and owner Elaine had asked Sinatra if he would like to meet Puzo who was dining there at the same time as Puzo. Sinatra emphatically said, “no.”

As Mario Puzo described in his 1972 book The Godfather Papers, (G.P. Putnam Sons) Puzo finally met Sinatra in August 1970 In West Hollywood, California at the famous Chasen’s restaurant. Continue reading