Category Archives: Classic Hollywood

Series: Photographs of Hollywood’s Cinema Stars

Classic Hollywood #70 – Hollywood’s Oldest Living Movie Star – Mary Carlisle

Mary Carlisle, Movie Star Of The 1930s Is 104 Years Young

Mary Carlisle MGM publicity photo by George Hurrell

While she is not a household name, Mary Carlisle appeared in many films in the 1930s, including co-starring with Bing Crosby in three of his films.

With 65 films to her credit from 1923 -1943, Mary Carlisle is among the last survivors of Hollywood’s golden age of film.

Born in Boston on February 3, 1914, Carlisle started appearing regularly in movies at age 16 in 1930, mostly as an uncredited extra. Of the thousands of actresses vying for stardom in the 1930s, Carlisle’s talent and looks helped her rise in the ranks quickly.

Between 1922 -1934 the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers (WAMPAS) had a publicity campaign, where they annually named the young movie actresses they believed were on the cusp of motion picture stardom. Carlisle received a big boost in her career by being chosen a WAMPAS baby star for 1932. Among the 14 other actresses chosen that year by WAMPAS were Ginger Rogers, Gloria Stuart and Eleanor Holm.

 

Carlisle got a big build up from MGM and made dozens of films throughout the 1930s, not surprisingly cast as a stereotypical “nice girl” pretty blond.  Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #69 – The Barrymore Family

The Barrymore Family Reunion – 1932

Here is the early 20th century’s royal family of acting, the Barrymore’s, Lionel, Ethel and John.

Each a star in their own right, first on the stage and later in films. Yet the trio only appeared in one movie together, Rasputin and the Empress (1932).

The Clan Barrymore

When John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore came together to play in M-G-M’s “Rasputin”, it made possible the first reunion of the entire family. Above photo shows the Barrymore reunion in Hollywood. Left to right- front row: Mrs. Lionel Barrymore (Irene Fenwick), holding John Blythe, son of John Barrymore; Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, Mrs. John Barrymore (Dolores Costello) with Ethel Dolores Barrymore, her daughter; and Ethel Barrymore Colt, daughter of Ethel Barrymore. In rear are left to right: John Barrymore Colt (left) and his brother, Samuel Colt, with John Barrymore standing between the two. credit: Acme  9/20/32

This photograph was taken at John Barrymore’s home in early September 1932.

Interestingly before this film, the three actors had never even appeared together in the same play.

Rasputin and the Empress as the film was re-titled, marked Ethel Barrymore’s (1879-1959) first talking film. Her stage popularity was such that she wouldn’t appear in another film until 1944 (None But The Lonely Heart). After 1944 Ethel would appear regularly in motion pictures, making 20 more movies until her retirement in 1957.

After MGM signed Ethel Barrymore to appear in Rasputin, brother Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954) was asked to comment and said, “Great! And tell me what poor benighted and unlucky individual is to direct this opus in which all three of us are to act together?” Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #68 – Jayne Mansfield As A Brunette

So What Did Jayne Mansfield Look Like As Brunette?

Along with Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow and Brigitte Bardot, Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967) is one of the Hollywood stars who usually has the word “blonde” inserted before the word bombshell.

Mansfield’s hair was dyed blonde for the majority of her film career, which may leave you wondering what did she look like with dark hair?

Here is the answer.

Jayne dyed her hair dark for her role in the 1960 film The Challenge (re-titled in the U.S as It Takes A Thief.)

While the photo above is not Jayne Mansfield’s natural hair color, it is a startling contrast to the thousands of published photos of her as a blonde.

In the early 1950s Jayne studied acting at Southern Methodist University. She recalled in a1957 interview, “I was a brunette then.  And covered up. Men whistled at me. But that’s all. I decided my body was an asset and I’d use it.” Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #67 – Chico Marx, Businessman & Gambler

Chico Marx Entertaining The Troops During World War II

U.S. Naval Air Station, Wold-Chamberlain Airport, Minneapolis, MN: Chico Marx was flying high back stage in the Orpheum Theater when three Aviation Cadets and one WAVE from the U.S. Naval Air Station called on him to make arrangements for his appearance at the Station Recreation Hall. Chico is bringing his entire show to the Air Station Tuesday to entertain the Naval Personnel. The Cadets are Lowell H. Conrow, Richard W. Hildebrand and Donald D. Bosold. The WAVE is Ensign Mary J. Withrow, USNR. Photo: U.S. Navy

When author Charlotte Chandler wrote her entertaining book about Groucho Marx, Hello I Must Be Going (Doubleday, 1978), it was mentioned by Groucho’s friends that someone should write or compile a book about Groucho’s eldest brother, Chico Marx.

Eventually a book was written about Chico by his daughter Maxine Marx. As interesting as that book is, it was not the sort of book that captured Chico’s flamboyant and incredible life.

Maxine had left out a good deal of the salacious parts of her father’s life by purposeful omission. Many other anecdotes were left out of her book simply because Maxine was unaware of them. There were hundreds of great stories known and shared only by show business veterans and insiders who Chico associated with, that went untold. Now those stories are lost forever, as all of Chico’s friends, contemporaries and acquaintances are long dead.

What is widely known is that Chico was a notorious womanizer and gambler who went through money as quickly as he made it or borrowed it.

Groucho famously said, “You know, somebody asked Chico how much money he lost gambling, and he said, ‘Find out how much money Harpo has. That’s how much money I lost.'”

The brothers had to bail Chico out countless times. There were even a couple of instances where had they not paid Chico’s debts, the gamblers he owed money to would have killed him.

Harpo wrote in Harpo Speaks! (Bernard Geis Associates, 1961) of his older brother when they were both teenagers, “Chico was a devout believer in the maxim, ‘Share and share alike.’ The way he shared my possessions was to hock them as fast as he got his hands on them, and then give the pawn tickets to me as my share.” Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #66 – Rudolph Valentino Goes To Court In Costume

Rudolph Valentino Is Not Acting, He’s Actually In Court – 1925

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella – aka Rudoplh Valentino, one of the world’s biggest film stars in 1925.

As big as a film star Valentino was it would not prevent him from being compelled to show up in court against his wishes to answer a speeding violation. His crime: going 38 in a 20 mile per hour zone in Santa Monica.

The news caption reads:

Valentino in Court in Screen Costume – Fined $50

Rudolph Valentino, failing in an attempt to have a representative answer speeding charges in court asked to have court held at his studio pleading business pressure. Justice Marchetti became angered demanded Valentino’s appearance and fined him $50. Photo of “The Sheik” in the costume of his latest screen vehicle – 9-11-25 (photo Wide World)

Valentino was not being a prima donna asking the court to come to the studio. Shutting down production for one day of the film he was starring in, “The Eagle” would cost $10,000. More importantly the people who could least afford it, all the extras involved in the filming, would have lost a days wages

On September 8 Justice Marchetti said, “I am sorry that anyone should lose money or be inconvenienced, but the court can show no partiality. Before the law a famous actor is in the same situation as anyone else. The dignity of the law would be compromised, the courts would be made a laughing stock, were I to set up legal machinery in a studio.” Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #65 – Lillian Gish, Ethereal Beauty In The Dawn of Cinema

Lillian Gish – An Eight Decade Career in Entertainment

 

Lillian Gish, whom George Jean Nathan the eminent critic, has termed “the finest actress in motion pictures”, has again scored a signal triumph by her characterization of “Romola” in the Inspiration company’s production of George Eliot’s celebrated novel of the same name. Miss Gish spent a year in Florence, Italy making this picture, under the direction of Henry King. Photoplay reviewers have classed her work in “Romola” as fine as that of “The White Sister”. “Romola is a Metro-Goldwyn release. October 20, 1925

For longevity there are few stars that can rival Lillian Gish (October 14, 1893 – February 27, 1993).

The star of D. W. Griffith’s legendary Birth of a Nation (1915), Gish made her stage debut in 1898 and her final movie The Whales of August in 1987. In between those many years, Gish alternated between the stage, movies and television.

In 1914 theatrical producer David Belasco was quoted as saying that Lillian Gish “is the most beautiful blond he had ever seen.”

George Jean Nathan the critic who provided the quote in the news caption above was in love with Lillian Gish and the two dated for many years. In April 1925, Variety, the weekly theatrical paper, reported that the two were engaged to be married. Similar reports emerged in 1927. Gish and Nathan never  married and no reason or announcement was ever provided except that they were just “good friends.” Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #64 – Judy Garland & Vincente Minnelli at The Stork Club

Judy Garland and Future Husband Vincente Minnelli At The Stork Club In New York 1945

Judy Garland Vincent Minelli Stork Club photo AcmeJudy is altar bound again

Hollywood, CA – Screen actress Judy Garland has announced that she and director Vincente Minnelli will be married in New York City, at the Little Church Around The Corner, in June. The exact date has not been set, but it will be soon after June 7th when Judy’s divorce from composer Dave Rose becomes becomes final. The couple is shown together during a recent visit to the Stork Club, in New York.  (4-23-45) credit: Acme

Garland, age 23 and Minnelli age 42 had worked together on Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and The Clock (1945). The couple wedded on June 15, 1945 not in New York, but at Judy’s mother Ethel’s home 750 South Ogden Drive in Los Angeles. It was Garland’s second of an eventual five marriages. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #63 – Abbott & Costello With Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

Abbott & Costello With Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

When I was growing up there were only seven television channels to choose from in New York City. Many weekend mornings I found myself laughing at the antics of Abbott and Costello on WPIX, channel eleven. A lot of other kids at that time shared that love for the fast-talking comedy duo.

Not just their movies were shown, but also the Abbott and Costello TV show was broadcast regularly as well. If today’s generation knows anything about Abbott and Costello, it is almost certainly their famous “Who’s On First” baseball skit. Unfortunately Abbott and Costello and their wordplay humor are fading into history.

But if Abbott and Costello have faded, then ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppet Charlie McCarthy are forgotten. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #62 – A Gallery Of Claudia Cardinale

11 More Photos OF The Enchanting Claudia Cardinale

Since June 2016 the most viewed story on this site has been Classic Hollywood #53 Claudia Cardinale.

Born in Tunis on April 15, 1938, Claudia Cardinale won a beauty contest in the late 1950s. After much resistance she began her film career with three films all released in 1958.

By age 26, the five foot six inch, 123 pound knockout with the curvy 37 ½ -24 – 37 ½ figure was on her way to becoming one of the world’s most popular movie stars.

Give the people what they want. Obviously the people want more of the alluring Claudia Cardinale.

The quotes below the photographs are from interviews with Cardinale.

“When I was 15 it was fashionable to dress like a beatnik – you know with the black pull-over, black skirt, pony tail, and all that. But Mother refused to buy me black things, so I solved the problem by secretly dyeing a plaid skirt black and wearing it with a pull-over which I also dyed.” 1963

“I never wanted to be an actress. I wanted to teach in Africa. People offered me film contracts and I kept saying no. I thought they were crazy. They thought I was too. ‘This funny girl from Africa,’ they said. ‘She refuses to make money She is stupid.'” 1965

“I don’t think everybody can be an actress, it’s a strange kind of life. You have to have a mind very clear. The love scenes are always the most difficult.” 1967 Continue reading

Beauties Of The Past & Classic Hollywood #61 – Gladys Cooper

Gladys Cooper, The Beautiful Actress With Amazing Hair – circa 1910

If there was a Hall-of Fame for best hair, Gladys Cooper would be a member.

British theatre and screen star Gladys Cooper (1888 – 1971) made her stage debut in 1905. As you can see she photographed exquisitely and was constantly in demand as a model. From about 1905 through the 1920s postcard manufacturers churned out hundreds of different images of the popular actress.

Gladys Cooper, Robert Redford – Twilight Zone

Gladys had a 70 year career as an actress, though most people would not recognize her name or face today. If they did know her, it would probably be because of a memorable 1962 Twilight Zone television episode in which she plays an old woman who fears death, co-starring a very young Robert Redford.

Modern movie and television audiences would never have realized Gladys was once absolutely gorgeous .

In 1914, when asked by a newspaper columnist who was the most beautiful star on the London stage, fellow actress Ethel Levey replied, “It depends upon the type. As to the blond type I should say Gladys Cooper. She is as beautiful a woman I have ever seen.”

Sari Petrass, a famous Austrian actress appearing at the time in The Marriage Market agreed with Levey about Gladys’s looks and said, “She is the most beautiful woman I have ever met. And you have some very beautiful women in London.’

When told of her fellow actresses compliments, Continue reading