Tag Archives: Academy Award

When Hazel Was Young

Is That Really Hazel???

Once upon a time there were seven television channels to choose from in New York City. Before 1977 and the wide introduction of cable television every kid experienced the same TV shows and could talk about them with their peers.

Gilligan’s Island; I Dream of Jeannie; Mr. Ed; F-Troop; Green Acres; Bonanza, Star Trek, Family Affair; I Love Lucy; Batman; The Brady Bunch and so on. If it was being rebroadcast after school in syndication we saw it. That means kids also had little to choose from. Which means kids watched many bad TV shows. And that’s why I saw Hazel.

Hazel was one of the most annoying television series from the 1960s.

The star playing Hazel was Shirley Booth (1898-1992), 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

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

Possible Oscar Boycott Ignores Other Underrepresented Actors

Time To Put A Stop To Hollywood’s Casting Bias – Microcephalics Insultingly called “Pinheads” Get The Shaft in Oscar Process

microphely 1

Everyone is now aware that for the 2016 Academy Awards no African-Americans were nominated for Academy Awards in the major acting categories. This has led to some people calling out the racist members of the Academy saying they will boycott the Oscars and things “have to change.”

microphely 2 zipBut there are so many groups not represented with nominations. If we’re going to go through with this diversity campaign let’s go full tilt.

In this country where we strive for equality the question arises – is it fair to single out the omission of only African Americans?

There is one group of entertainers that has been far more glaringly ignored in the Oscar process since the Academy’s  founding, and yet no one is standing up for them.

Microcephalic actors have not been recognized by the Academy – ever. Disparagingly called “pinheads” by sideshow aficionados, these people have been thoroughly neglected by the Hollywood elite and the Academy.

Schlitzie in Tod Browning's Freaks

Schlitzie in Tod Browning’s Freaks

Director Tod Browning was the only filmmaker brave enough to break the stigma of using people with microcephaly prominently in a film with his 1932 classic Freaks.

Since then, I know of no film that has featured a microcephalic actor with any prominent role. Therefore there have been no microcephalic actors nominated for an Academy Award.

True, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin starred in 1993’s The Coneheads, but they were only actors who looked like people with microcephaly and they were not nominated for anything either.

How can we let this obvious oversight and discrimination continue? When will we see a fair representation of this unrecognized group of people?

Beetlejuice - An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Beetlejuice – An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Besides Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern Show and Patrick from Spongebob Square Pants, where are microcephalics being represented in entertainment? Continue reading

Ten Great Films From The 1940s Featuring New York City

Filming Around New York City In The 1940s

On The Town posterDuring Hollywood’s golden years from the 1930s through the early 1950s there were many films set in New York City, but the vast majority were made on the studio lots in southern California. Almost every studio had their own New York set which would convey “the Big Apple.”

The reasons for doing so were obvious; the costs of actually sending the cast and crew on location to film would be cost prohibitive and complete control could be exercised in the studio for crowd control, noise, lighting and other technical issues.

Occasionally films would use stock footage of New York or a second unit directing team would be sent to capture a New York scene or two to be used as establishing shots showing the audience, yes this is New York. Usually though none of the principal characters in the film were ever actually in New York, but back in Hollywood, playing against what is called a “process shot” a background screen showing New York footage usually while the actors were walking or driving.

Even such quintessential “New York” films such as A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) were shot completely in Hollywood.

So when the cast and crew actually did any filming in New York it was a rare treat, especially looking back today at the much changed metropolis.

Here are ten of the best 1940s films where a part of the movie was actually filmed on location in New York City.

Saboteur Cummings and Lloyd Statue of LibertySaboteur (1942) This cross-sountry chase of one man falsely accused of sabotage pursuing the real saboteur winds up in New York. Director Alfred Hitchcock had his second unit shoot footage in the city that shows New York in the midst of World War II. We see Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the waterfront and other familiar city sights.  A masterpiece of storytelling the film moves at a smooth pace as you bite your nails watching. Spoiler alert: Sinister character actor Norman Lloyd battles hero Robert Cummings on Bedloe’s Island at The Statue of Liberty in one of the most iconic conclusions to a film ever shot.

Ray Milland The Lost Weekend Third Avenue photo Life MagazineThe Lost Weekend (1945) Director Billy Wilder takes advantage of New York, shooting many of the exteriors of The Lost Weekend on location. Ray Milland’s portrayal of troubled, alcoholic writer Don Birnam won him an Academy Award for best actor. The film also won Oscars for best picture, best director and best screenplay. There are so many shots of Milland in the city it becomes a game to recognize where the actual locations are. Third Avenue is prominently put on display. The giant street clock Milland passes in one scene is still there today – located on Third Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets. All the mom and pop stores and restaurants along the way are long gone, replaced mostly by chains. P.J Clarke’s on Third Avenue and 55th Street was used in the shooting but many of the interior scenes of the bar were shot back in Hollywood. Continue reading

An Interview With Avery Corman “My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir”

Avery Corman, Author of Kramer vs. Kramer, Talks About His Latest Book: My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir

My Old Neighborhood RememberedThe neighborhood is the Bronx. The time is World War II and the post war years. And the writer is Avery Corman. His newest book My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir (2014) Barricade Books, is his first non-fiction book and is filled with wonderful recollections of growing up.

After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.

Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.

My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.

Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.

Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.

Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.

In part II Corman Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #26

Jimmy Stewart & Ginger Rogers Win Oscars – 1941

James Stewart Ginger Rogers Oscars 1941

February 27, 1941 – the Oscars are awarded at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. This was the first time sealed envelopes were used to keep the winners names secret.

Jimmy Stewart won best actor in a leading role for The Philadelphia Story and Ginger Rogers won best actress in a leading role for Kitty Foyle.

Classic Hollywood #19

Cary Grant And Rosalind Russell Accept Awards

Cary Grant Rosalind Russell December 23 1942

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell co-starred together in only one movie. The film, Howard Hawks His Girl Friday (1940), is one of the zaniest and funniest screwball comedies of all-time.

The two stars are seen here on December 23, 1942, 70 years ago today, receiving the Women’s Press Club of Hollywood Most Cooperative Golden Apple Prize.

Incredibly, Cary Grant never won an Academy Award for Best Actor. He was awarded an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1970.When he accepted the award he said “You know that I may never look at this without remembering the quiet patience of directors who were so kind to me, who were kind enough to put up with me more than once, some of them even three or four times. I trust they and all the other directors, writers and producers and my leading women have forgiven me for what I didn’t know. You know that I’ve never been a joiner or a member of any particular social set, but I’ve been privileged to be a part of Hollywood’s most glorious era.”

The talented Rosalind Russell was also nominated by the Academy multiple times for Best Actress and never won. She was ultimately given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy in 1973, three years prior to her death in 1976. Interestingly Cary Grant introduced Russell to her future husband Frederick Brisson and Cary was best man at their wedding. Russell once said, “It’s fine to have talent, but talent is the last of it. In an acting career, as in an acting performance, you’ve got to have vitality. The secret of successful acting is identical with a woman’s beauty secret: joy in living.”

Helen Keller And Al Smith 1929

New York State Commission For The Blind Christmas Fundraiser 1929

Helen Keller Al Smith 1929

This news photograph reads:

Helen Keller “Sees” And “Hears” Al Smith — World Famous Blind Deaf-Mute Meets Ex-Governor For First Time At Sale Benefiting The Blind

New York City – Photo Shows: Helen Keller, remarkable and world-famous blind deaf-mute “seeing” and “hearing”former Gov. Alfred E. Smith, who is greeting her with his famous smile and a word of cheer at the annual Christmas sale for the benefit of the New York State Commission for the Blind. Witnesses at the meeting of the famous people said that Miss Keller’s words could be understood. – December 19, 1929

Helen Keller was deaf and blind from infancy. She was born in Alabama on June 27, 1880.  Early in her childhood Miss Anne Sullivan was employed to instruct her, and so well succeeded that by means of touch she was able to communicate knowledge of the world that was closed to her understanding through the usual senses.

Helen Keller’s sense of touch was so acute that she was capable of understanding the speech of another merely by the placing of her fingertips upon their throat. Through the aid of Miss Sullivan, Keller became a highly educated young woman, earning a degree at Radcliffe College. She would go on to write 12 books and many magazine articles. She devoted her life advocating for people with disabilities.

Keller’s childhood story and that of her teacher Anne Sullivan, was told quite dramatically in the Broadway smash The Miracle Worker which ran for 719 performances from 1959-1961. The show won five Tony awards in 1960 including Best Actress in a Leading Performance for Anne Bancroft.  The1962 movie version featured the Broadway stars reprising their roles; Patty Duke as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as Anne Sullivan. Each won an Academy Award for their performances; Bancroft for Best Actress and Duke for Best Supporting Actress.

Alfred E. Smith was born December 30, 1873 on the lower east side of New York. He was elected Governor of New York, 1919-1920 and again from 1923-1928. In 1928 he became the first Roman Catholic to run for President and was defeated soundly by Herbert Hoover.  After the election Smith became president of Empire State, Inc. the firm that built the Empire State Building.

Al Smith died on October 4, 1944. Helen Keller passed away June 1, 1968.

Classic Hollywood #17

“One Take Woody” Gets A Son – 1937

Film director Woodbridge Strong Van Dyke is mostly forgotten today to many movie fans. He was a good director, and was known in the film industry for working very quickly, shooting many scenes in one take. This earned him the nickname “One Take Woody” and “One Take Van Dyke.”

He directed 90 films during his career and is best remembered for; Tarzan The Ape Man (1932), The Thin Man (1934), and San Francisco (1936) for which he was nominated for the Acadamy Award for Best Director.

This news photo of W.S. Van Dyke and family reads:

Film Director’s New Son Poses For First Photograph

Hollywood, Calif. – Eleven Days of Age Woodbridge Strong Van Dyke Jr., son of the film director, yesterday posed for his first picture. His mother, the former Ruth Mannix, helped him pose while he went through his repertoire of smiles and other grimaces for the cameraman. The Van Dykes have one other child, Barbara Laura, 20 months of age. Feb 25, 1937.

The Van Dykes would add another son in 1939, Winston Stuart Van Dyke.

W.S. Van Dyke was a devout Christian Scientist and battled many ailments the last few years of his life, refusing to be treated with modern medicine. At the age of 53 and suffering from cancer, he commited suicide February 5, 1943.