Category Archives: Movies

More Maude Fealy (And Her Actress Mother, Margaret Fealy)

Maude Fealy “The Most Beautiful Woman In the World” In An Atypical Pose

One of the most read stories we have done was about Maude Fealy the stage star and film actress who had a career that spanned the first half of the 20th century.

Given the lack of fact based information available on the internet about Fealy we’ve provided another short page devoted to this forgotten star.

This unusual photograph entitled The Coiffure no. 3 captures Maude Fealy in a very flattering pose.

The Coiffure no. 3 was taken by Rudolf Eickemeyer. If there were other photographs from this sitting indicated by the fact that this is called number three, I have not come across any of them.

In 1903 the Figaro Illustre of Paris held a contest and offered a prize for the woman who represented the “perfect type of beautiful womanhood.” Photographer Burr McIntosh submitted a photograph he had taken of Maude Fealy. A committee of experts pored over 30,000 entries and decided Maude Fealy was the most beautiful woman in the world.  Burr McIntosh won the prize for submitting the photo. Fealy wound up with the accolades.

Besides being a famous photographer, Burr McIntosh was the publisher of a popular magazine  in the early part of the 20th century, mostly featuring theatrical stars. In February 1904 Maude Fealy graced the Valentine Number of The Burr McIntosh Monthly. The illustration above was drawn by Clark Hobart in 1903.

When we first wrote about Maude Fealy there was uncertainty as to her exact date and year of birth. That has yet to be resolved, though we can now narrow Maude’s birth year to prior to 1884. Maude’s papers housed in the Denver Public Library give a likely birth date of March 3, 1881.

Through diligent research we have established two previous unknown facts regarding Maude’s domineering actress-mother Margaret: the date of her marriage and divorce to Maude’s father. 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

Searching Here In Allentown- At The Book & Paper Show With Postcards, Antique Advertising & A Real Black Bear

Things You Will Find At The Allentown Book & Paper Show

On a cloudless Saturday at eight forty in the morning, a line of about 200 eager men and women snaked its way around Agricultural Hall at the Allentown Fairgrounds in Allentown, PA.

They were anxiously awaiting the April 21 opening of the two day Allentown Book and Paper Show, an all encompassing smorgasbord of anything and everything collectible that has a relationship to paper.

On  the show floor a few minutes before 9:00 am,, show promoter Sean Klutinoty announced to the 170 dealers over the public address system, that the anxious crowd would soon be admitted. This was the cue for the dealers to return to their tables. They had set up their stalls the day before but quite a few dealers were scurrying about making some last minute purchases from one  another.

Searching through hundreds of thousands of postcards

At nine sharp, customers started filing in. Like bees who fly precise routes to pollinate flowers, the mad dash began for people to get to their favorite dealer. For those who do not have a special dealer to go to, there is a rush to visit each booth methodically row by row.

Each patron is searching for something particular and they ask dealers if they possess whatever special item they seek, before the competition, real or imagined, swoops in and beats them to it.

Another aisle of postcard row

If it made of paper and you cannot find it in Allentown that is the exception.

Unlike a book show where you have books and some ephemera, at a paper show there is literally no limit on what antiquity or modern collectible you may find. 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

This Is The Only Color Film Footage Of Clara Bow The “It” Girl (And What Exactly Is “It”?)

Clara Bow The “It” Girl Made Only One Film In Color, and This One Minute Fragment Is All That That Survives

(And What Exactly is “It”)

Most movie fans never saw Clara Bow’s beautiful red hair except when illustrated on magazine covers. All but one of her films was made in black and white. Her red hair and Brooklyn childhood earned her, her original nickname “The Brooklyn Bonfire.”

So seeing the primitive color film clip below is a pleasant treat for classic movie fans.

With the exception of one film, Red Hair” which is now considered lost, this one minute fragment is all that survives of Clara Bow filmed in color.

If the last minute of Red Hair could be found we would see Clara Bow in as little clothing as the censors would allow.

So what exactly is “It”? Writer Elinor Glin wrote a magazine article called “It.” and a movie soon followed in 1927 starring Clara Bow. The sobriquet The “It Girl” was immediately and permanently attached to Clara Bow.

“Either you have “It” or you don’t have” It.”  “It” is sex appeal definitely, but much more than that.

In a 1927 interview, writer Glyn said you must have ALL of the following qualities: Continue reading

“Good Acting Is Like Good Love-Making” – Old Time Movie Stars Reflect On Acting

 Actors Talking About Acting

Heartbreak Pair in New Air Epic – William Holden reaches new stellar heights as a flying cadet whose career is temporarily shattered through his love for Veronica Lake in Paramount’s “I Wanted Wings” an Arthur Hornblow, Jr., production based on the Army Air Corps training and tactics. Blonde and sultry newcomer, Miss Lake, plays menace in piece. photo – Paramount studios

William Holden – “The best actors I know have no style but that of genuine professionalism. They act each role according to the script. And if they do have a style, it is so much a part of their personality it can’t be noticed.” (Atlanta Constitution April 22, 1956)

If you hear people lament that today’s movie stars don’t stack up to the old stars, there are probably many reasons for the lack of charisma or star power today. Regardless of their approach to acting, the old-time Hollywood stars all had one thing in common: they came through the studio system, where they were trained and “groomed” to be and act like movie stars. How each actor accomplished that varied from actor to actor.

Whatever techniques they used to develop their acting style; “The Method,” “Chekhov,” or simply showing up and knowing your lines, movie stars usually could provide philosophy or insight into their craft when being interviewed by the press. Whether they had honed their skills on the legitimate stage or come straight from a farm, to be a star you had to learn and understand something about acting.

Here are twelve old time movie stars expressing their views, sometimes simply, other times with great insight about acting.

Veronica Lake – “I’m no great actress. I just had a movie job dumped into my lap, the public seemed to like me, and that’s all there was to it.”  (Wide World Features May 3, 1942)

Rod Steiger – “Good acting is like good love-making. Leave yourself alone and explore. Do it. Don’t watch yourself do it. Don’t think about yourself doing it. You just go from moment to moment. But don’t take anything for granted either, especially not in acting. That’s when you get your ass kicked.” (Los Angeles Times  September 15, 1994)

Yul Bryner – “I’m not of the can-kicking, shovel-carrying, ear-scratching, torn T-shirt school of acting. There are very few real men in the movies these days. Yet being a real man is the most important quality an actor can offer on the screen.”  (Detroit Free Press April 27, 1958)

Paul Muni – “Acting is a scientific art. It’s a matter of trial and error. You try out your effects like a man who is experimenting on a new chemical formula. I enjoy the experimenting.”  (Boston Globe Feb. 6, 1949)

Barbara Stanwyck on reluctantly accepting the role of the “no good” Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity – “Once I said yes I was awfully glad. During the making of it Fred (MacMurray) would go to the rushes. I remember once the next day he said, ‘You’re not acting, you’re enjoying it.’ And I remember saying ,’Fred, really, how was I?’  And very candidly he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know about you- but I was wonderful!’ And that was such a true remark. Actors only look at themselves.”  (Los Angeles Times April 5, 1987)

Spencer Tracy – “I’ve always played the same character. Larry Olivier says the way to act is learn your lines and get on with it. I’m Spencer Tracy with some deference to the character. When a person says he’s an actor – he’s a personality. The whole idea is to show your personality. There are people who are much better technically, but who cares?  Nobody cares.” (Los Angeles Times  November 18, 1962) Continue reading

Babe Ruth & Gary Cooper Welcome Visitors On The Set of The Pride Of The Yankees

Babe Ruth and Gary Cooper Get A Visit From Former Yankee Bob Meusel & His Daughter

When Babe Ruth played himself in the classic film The Pride of The Yankees (1942) he had not played for seven years. Since his retirement, Ruth’s weight had ballooned to 270 pounds. The Babe wanted to look good for the film, not that he would ever look as svelte as Gary Cooper, starring as Babe’s teammate Lou Gehrig, but at least he tried.

Before filming began Babe went on a diet and shed over 47 pounds to look more like he did in his playing days.

Some former Yankee teammates appeared for short cameos including Bill Dickey, Mark Koenig and Bob Meusel. 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

Yankee Stadium As You’ve Never Seen It – 1928

An Empty Yankee Stadium Was Used As A Filming Location For Buster Keaton’s “The Cameraman”

Here Are Some Views Of A “Different” Yankee Stadium In 1928

90 years ago, Buster Keaton made The Cameraman, a comedy in which he played a newsreel cameraman trying to get newsworthy footage. Many of the scenes were shot on location in New York City.

In one scene Keaton figures he’ll head up to the Bronx and film some baseball action sequences. He arrives at Yankee Stadium and hurries in with his camera ready to catch the Bronx Bombers, only to discover the Yankees are not playing that day.

That does not stop Keaton from indulging in fantasy, as the empty stadium looms as a backdrop to his antics.

In real life Keaton was a baseball fanatic. This was a time when many Hollywood studios had their own baseball teams and played against one another. In the written application to work with Keaton’s company, there were two questions on the form:  1. Are you a good actor? 2. Can you play baseball? If you answered yes to both you probably could get a job working with Keaton.

Yankee Stadium opened in 1923. Over the next ten years constant changes occurred to the dimensions, seating and field itself creating the classic Yankee Stadium that most fans are familiar with either first-hand or through old photographs.

Presented below are stills from Buster Keaton’s classic film, The Cameraman.

In the opening Yankee Stadium sequence Keaton enters through center field. Note the unfinished right field stands. As originally configured, straight away center field was over 490 feet away from home plate! The bleachers could hold over 10,000 fans. The flagpole was on the playing field and there were no plaques or monuments in Yankee Stadium yet, honoring the “greats.”

A locker room manager emerges from the dugout to tell Keaton, the Yankees are not at home. If you look at the “box seats” you can see that they  are really “boxed” off with movable chairs. 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