Tag Archives: Ginger Rogers

Classic Hollywood #127 – Before She Became A Star, Ginger Rogers 1930

On The Cusp Of Stardom – Young Ginger Rogers 1930

portrait 18-year-old Ginger Rogers 1930 A victory in the Texas Charleston contest four years ago gave Ginger Rogers the necessary stimulus for a stage career. Since her arrival on Broadway last season, after playing in vaudeville throughout the country, this talented young woman has won all sorts of honors in musical comedy and motion pictures.

She now has aspirations to be a radio star. When the inaugural Mardi Gras program is presented from WABC over the Columbia Broadcasting System on Tuesday (May 13) at 9 P.M. (E.D.S.T.) Miss Rogers will be the guest artist. One of the songs she will introduce is “I Wish I Could Be Sing A Love Song” from a new picture, “A Sap From Syracuse”, in which she plays opposite Jack Oakie. Photo: Columbia Broadcast System / NEA May 6, 1930.

92 years ago tonight listeners tuning into the radio could hear 18-year-old Ginger Rogers sing this song.

She was born Virginia Katherine McMath on July 16, 1911 in Independence, MO. Ginger got her nickname Continue reading

Christopher Morley Describes West End Avenue 1932 – Part 1

Author Christopher Morley’s Description Of West End Avenue

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”

This was Christopher Morley’s final message to his friends before he died at the age of 66 in 1957.

Morley’s biggest commercial success was the 1939 novel Kitty Foyle, which was turned into an Academy Award winning movie starring Ginger Rogers.

Though Morley would write more than 50 books of all sorts and edit Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, his name has been forgotten by modern readers. Below is a piece that paints a splendid picture of one of the least written about New York city streets.

This piece on West End Avenue appeared in Internal Revenue (1933) Doubleday, Doran.

You hear little about West End Avenue. It is too genteel to have much taste for publicity. But like all very decorous personalities it has its secret ligatures with grim fact. It begins at 106th Street, spliced into the western bend of Broadway, with a memory of the Titanic disaster (the Straus Memorial Fountain). It ends at 59th Street in Dead Storage and Loans on Cars, and in the gigantic Interborough Power House. Below that, though its uniformed hallboys do not like to admit it, it becomes Eleventh Avenue. 59th Street was the latitude where all those baseborn avenues of the old Tenderloin decided to 20 respectable by changing their names. Eighth became Central Park West, Ninth became Columbus, Tenth became Amsterdam, and Eleventh (or Death Avenue) became West End. But reform is as difficult for Streets as for persons. Broadway, careering diagonally across (trollops follow the Trade), drew ever upward its witch-fires and its sulphurous glow. Good old strongholds of middle-class manners were swamped. Apartments once gravid with refinement were given over to the dentist and the private detective (who cries Confidentially Yours in the window). When the MacFadden Publications burst into that part of town, reticences tottered. Even as far up as the 70’s the West Side struggles to disengage from sombre origins or too gaudy companionship. Then a Childs restaurant—unquestionable banner of fair repute – stems the tide on Broadway. Childs is too shrewd to step in on Doubtful Street. The church also comes to the rescue: a place of worship is combined with an apartment house. The Cross on top of this building, says a notice, “Guarantees Safety, Security, and Enjoyment.”

Of all this shifting struggle—so characteristic of New York and repeated in scores of regions all over town—West End Avenue is perfect symbol. The Interborough Power House, I dare say, gives it vitality to struggle successfully with the New York Central freight yards. It is humble enough here: it eats in Gibbs Diner and smokes its cob pipe in the switchman’s little house. It sees lines of milk cans on the sidings and is aware of the solid realities of provender and communication on which citizens depend. (Much of West End Avenue’s milk comes from Grand Gorge,  N. Y., which is an encouraging name to find printed on the cardboard bottle-top when you rummage the  ice-box late at night.) Then the Dodge and other automobile warehouses put ambition into it. It rises to a belt of garages and groceries. At 70th Street it makes as sudden a transformation as any street ever did—except perhaps that social abyss where Tudor City looks over the parapet onto First Avenue. “Here in A. D. 1877,” says the tablet in difficult Tudor script, as hen-track as Shakespeare’s, “was Paddy Corcoran’s Roost.” Who was Paddy? They have him in stone with an inverted Irish pipe. One day I walked through Tudor City with W. S. H., a heraldic expert, pursuivant of the various shields, emblems, armorial bearings and stained glaziery of that architect’s heyday. Cockle-shells, pelicans, griffons, lymphiads, bars and bends most sinister, nearly made an imbecile of my poor friend. Rouge Dragon himself could never unscramble that débris of the College of Arms. “The intended a boar, but it turned to a talbot,” cried W. S. H., examining one fierce escutcheon.

But West End Avenue, when it goes residential at 70th Street, does so in solid fashion, without freak or fantasy. For thirty-five blocks it has probably the most uniform skyline of any avenue in New York. It indulges little in terraces or penthouses; just even bulks of masonry. What other street can show me a run of thirty-five blocks without a shop-window? Few of its apartments have individual names. The Esplanade and the Windermere are two rare exceptions, as also the grand old Apthorp, the Gibraltar of our uptown conservatism: Inside its awful court-yard I have never dared to tread. We leave to the crosstown streets the need to hyperbolize their apartments with pretentious names.

Classic Hollywood #91 – Unpublished Snapshots of the Stars 1948-49

A Fan Takes Snapshots Of Hollywood’s Big Stars 1948-49

Ava Gardner

You never know who you will see when you’re in Hollywood. Luckily your phone is a camera and you can annoyingly go up to any semi-celebrity you see and ask them to take a selfie with you. Some celebs will grudgingly comply. Others, usually stars besieged constantly by paparazzi will run to avoid you.

Before the ubiquitous cell phone camera made everyone a photographer, a conscious effort to carry a camera around had to be made. Few did. 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

Salaries Of Hollywood In 1937 – A List of The Film Stars Pay

Katharine Hepburn Was Paid $206,928, While Peter Lorre Made Just $15,265

1937 Was A Good Year For Film Salaries

Gary Cooper - Filmdom's top paid personality in 1937

Gary Cooper – Filmdom’s top paid personality in 1937

I find this sort of stuff fascinating.

In 1938 the U.S. Treasury released a report to Congress that listed how much compensation was paid to luminaries in the film industry for 1937.

The highlight of the report was that Gary Cooper ($370,214) overtook Mae West ($323.333) as the highest salaried film personality.

This was during the height of the Great Depression, so many of the salaries seem astronomical when compared to the average annual salary of a working person which was only $890 in 1937 according to Time magazine.

The list is interesting to look over and there are quite a few surprises. For instance Zeppo Marx ($56,766) is listed in the report and his more famous brothers Groucho, Chico and Harpo are not. Laurel and Hardy are there, and Stan Laurel ($135,167 ) earned nearly $50,000 more than his rotund comedy partner Oliver Hardy ( $88,600).

Ginger Rogers and those famous legs. Ginger received a $124,770 salary in 1937.

Ginger Rogers and those famous legs. Ginger received $124,770 in pay in 1937.

Studio chief and creative genius Walt Disney made only $39,000, yet William A. Seiter, director in 1937 of This is My Affair and Life Begins In College made $135,750!

Box office draws, Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert were all pulling in over $100,000.

I recognized most of the names on the list, but there are also a handful of people I never heard of like The Yacht Club Boys, ($32,166) who were a popular singing group. And I should have known Alan Dinehart, ($39,666) a busy character actor who appeared in 89 movies during his abbreviated acting career (he died at the age of 54 in 1944).

Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy, Olivia de Havilland, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and many others who were big stars are unfortunately not listed.

There are writers, directors, producers, and songwriters mixed in among the stars and supporting players of the movies.

Sadly, so many of these names are now completely forgotten except by a much older generation of contemporaries or rabid TCM movie fans.

Here are the 1937 salaries of over 160 of some of Hollywood’s top talent in alphabetical order:

  1. Don Ameche, $34,499;
  2. Heather Angel, $15,375;
  3. Jean Arthur, $119,041;
  4. Fred Astaire, $211,666; Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #26 – Jimmy Stewart & Ginger Rogers

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. Continue reading