Category Archives: Classic Hollywood

Series: Photographs of Hollywood’s Cinema Stars

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

Classic Hollywood #47

Harold Lloyd Between Takes On The Set of Professor Beware! – 1938

Harold Lloyd on set 1939Noted fun-maker rests during an idle moment on location. Harold Lloyd , now in production on his current comedy “Professor Beware!” is seen here taking it easy between “takes”. This is the first Lloyd picture in almost two years. – photo: Harold Lloyd Productions

In the 1920s Harold Lloyd was one of the top box office stars. By the 1930s he was reduced to making a film every two years. With the completion of Professor Beware!, LLoyd said he was now planning on getting ramped up and start making two films per year.

Instead, Professor Beware! turned out to be Harold Lloyd’s next to last film.

The story for Professor Beware! was written by Colonel Crampton Harris, the former law partner of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

Lloyd plays an egyptologist who sees parallels between ancient happenings and his own life that seem like reincarnation and may spell doom for him. Lloyd’s co-star was the unknown Phyllis Welch, but Lloyd had originally offered the female lead to Jean Arthur, who turned it down.

A strange story connected with the film concerns the usually inoffensive Lloyd almost being censored. The Hays office called Lloyd and his staff in for a meeting and wanted a scene cut in which Lloyd’s character is driving in the street, bumps into a fire engine and tells the firemen there is a fire at the pier and yells “fire!” Lloyd was flabbergasted and asked what was wrong with saying “fire”.

Lloyd insisted to the censor that removing the scene would ruin the plot. The Hays office censor said that no actor should ever say the word “fire” on screen. The censor explained that two times previously it had led to  trouble  when a person out on the street buying a ticket at the box office heard the word fire and went to call the fire department.

Lloyd asked the overzealous censor if he had seen the film in a projection booth with no audience and if he had laughed, to which which replied that is where he viewed the movie and  he had not laughed. In a real theater situation, Lloyd explained, the audience would be laughing so hard at that point, that when the word fire was uttered no one would be able to hear it. Believe it or not, the censor agreed with this argument and left the scene intact.

The movie itself did not catch fire and was greeted lukewarmly by the critics and the public. Lloyd then made up his mind to give up acting until “he found the right story.”

After a career appearing in over 200 films, it took another seven years for the highly popular Lloyd to make another film, which ended up being his final movie The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (released 1947).

In 1945 producer-director Preston Sturges convinced Lloyd that he should play the lead character in his new film which was originally slated to star Eddie Bracken as Harold Diddlebock. Considering Sturges’ reputation as a comedic genius, Lloyd agreed.

In an interview with the New York Times after the filming was completed, LLoyd said, “Basically, Preston and I think alike even when our approach is different. I like to go out on the set with a scene mapped out and work from my head; Preston comes on with a blueprint he’s sweated over beforehand to the last detail. He can do his cutting a reel at a time, and stay with it indefinitely; it’s an effort for me to stay in a projection room with an uncut story. After I’ve seen three good ideas go through the chopper, I have to come up for air.”

The strained creative relationship Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #46

Ruta Lee – Starring in Hootenanny Hoot 1963

Ruta Lee 1963Ruta Lee may not be a household name to the younger generation, but the actress, seen above in a forgettable starring role in 1963’s Hootenanny Hoot, has credits in over 155 movies and television shows over a  60 year career. Her official biography states that she has made over 2,000 television appearances.

She was born Ruta Mary Kilmonis in Montreal, Quebec on May 30, 1935 and moved to Hollywood when she was 13.

Ruta’s most notable films include Witness For The Prosecution, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Funny Face. Her television career has been long and prosperous with appearances in The Adventures of Superman, The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Hollywood Squares, Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote and Roseanne.

Classic Hollywood #45

18-year-old Brigitte Bardot and Kirk Douglas Having Fun On The Beach At Cannes -1953

Brigitte Bardot Kirk Douglas at Cannes 6 14 1953  - photo UPI

Brigitte Bardot Kirk Douglas at Cannes 6 14 1953 – photo UPI

What are Brigitte Bardot and Kirk Douglas doing on the beach at Cannes? Apparently just having a bit of fun during a break from the filming of their latest movie.

Bardot had made only a couple of films prior to her supporting role as Mimi in the Anatole Litvak directed film Un acte d’amour (Act of Love), which was released in the winter of 1953.

Bardot looks absolutely gorgeous here and a United Press International photographer was lucky enough to be around to snap some photos of the star, Douglas and the future star, Bardot. Here are a couple of other shots from that day.

Brigitte Bardot Kirk Douglas Cannes 53 6 14Brigitte Bardot Kirk Douglas hair braiding Cannes 53 6 14

 

Classic Hollywood #44

Brian Donlevy and Wife Marjorie Lane At A Party 1946

Brian Donlevy and wife Marjorie Lane

Brian Donlevy is one of those stars who you see in a lot of films from the 1930’s – 60’s who has been mostly forgotten by today’s generation. That is a shame because he was a good actor who starred in some excellent films including Beau Geste (1939), The Great McGinty (1940), The Glass Key (1942), Kiss Of Death (1947) and The Big Combo (1955).

Donlevy took his role as the sadistic Sergeant Markoff in Beau Geste a little too seriously alienating many of the other cast members to the point that they all supposedly detested him. In one of the final scenes in the film, John Geste played by actor Ray Milland, kills Donlevy with a bayonet. According to director William Wellman and corroborated by Ray Milland in each of their autobiographies, Milland actually stabbed Donlevy near his left armpit. The rest of the cast was elated, Milland was apologetic.

This photo above was taken by Nat Dallinger, the great photographer of Hollywood’s stars during its off hours at home and at play. King Features Syndicate would distribute Dallinger’s photos called “Inside Hollywood with Nat Dallinger” with many of captions written by Dallinger himself.

Here is the original caption: Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #43

Joan Crawford And Her Shoes

Joan Crawford shows off one her 500 pairs of shoes 1954 6 23When Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina Crawford wrote her 1978 poison pen biography “Mommie Dearest” about her Hollywood superstar mother, many people found the account to be unbelievable.

It is still debated today how much of Christina’s biography really occurred. There are others who knew Joan Crawford personally and did not find Christina’s allegations to be extraordinary. We’ll never know for sure, but take this to heart, Joan Crawford was known to be controlling and manipulative in advancing her career.

I will say Joan Crawford was a good actress. But that is where it ends for me.

In this publicity photograph dated June 23, 1954, Crawford shows off one of her 500 pairs of shoes meticulously arranged in her shoe closet.

I’m sure there were others in the golden years of Hollywood that had a bigger collection of shoes. But my question is – would you show them off to the press and the public? Strange woman.

Classic Hollywood #42

The Young And Handsome Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart c 1933

Humphrey Bogart in the early 1930’s

If you’ve ever seen the classic film Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, allow yourself to ask a shallow question, “based on looks alone, how would a beautiful girl like Ilsa (Bergman) fall in love with Rick (Bogart)?”

Humphrey Bogart was 42-years-old when Casablanca was filmed and had a scrawny frame, was not particularly tall, wore a toupee and looked rather haggard. Bogart also smoked cigarettes on screen and in real life like a chimney.

Even with all those perceived shortcomings, most women will tell you Humphrey Bogart was a sexy man. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #41

Marilyn Monroe At The Actors Studio

These three candid photographs of Marilyn Monroe at The Actors Studio in New York were taken by Roy Schatt (1909 -2002).

They are currently being offered at auction on April 15, 2015 by Doyle New York Auctioneers & Appraisers. The estimate for all three photos are between $800 – $1,200. The first two photos of Marilyn in the audience is being offered as one lot (lot 569). The other photo (lot 570) captures Marilyn eating lunch.

Because Actors Studio chief Lee Strasberg thought Schatt had real talent as a photographer he was given access to photograph the classes where actors could hone their craft.

Marilyn stands out in the first photograph Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #40

Bette Davis Might Get Fat

Bette Davis early 1930sYou may be familiar with the dated synth infused 1981 #1 hit song Bette Davis Eyes which brought attention to those magnificent eyes of screen legend Bette Davis, but in the 1930’s Bette’s movie studio was more concerned with Bette Davis Thighs.

In 1933 Warner Brothers asked Lloyd’s of London for a policy on the five foot three and a half, 106 pound star to insure that her weight would not go over 120 pounds. If it did Davis’ producers would get $50,000. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #39

Basil Rathbone and Angela Lansbury – 1954

Basil Rathbone Angela Lansbury Paramount Commisary 1954 Court Jester photo EisenstadtThis very appealing photograph was taken in 1954 and shows Basil Rathbone and Angela Lansbury eating lunch at the Paramount studio commissary.

Rathbone and Lansbury are  in costume for the filming of The Court Jester (1955) which they starred in along with Danny Kaye.

Rathbone looks less than enthused with his meal and Lansbury has taken a couple of bites of her hamburger and has decided to fix her hair, possibly sensing that Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstadt is about to snap this candid photo of the pair.

Lansbury appears Continue reading