Sunday, August 31, 2008

Favorite Classic Movie Stars - WILLIAM POWELL

First, before beginning any information on William Powell, or before starting his biography, I must start by stating that Mr. Powell is my absolute, without a question, most favorite actor of the era. Or of any other era for that matter! I know its an old cliche, but they just don't make them like William Powell any longer! He was (in my humble opinion...), extremely good looking, suave, debonair, always a gentleman, a natural comedian and the most sophisticated gentleman to grace the silver screen. I truly wish that I had been around when he was alive, just on the off chance that I might have had the opportunity to have met him. You might ask, if he is so much a favorite of mine, why did others proceed him in my actors bios? To tell you the truth, I have been putting off adding him deliberately, as I truly felt that I just couldn't do him justice. Or put across how important he is to me and how to give him the recognition he truly deserves. But my desire to see his handsome face everyday, and to share all that I know about him has overcome my reticence and hopefully I can make some new fans for him that as of yet have not known of his great talents. I hope that you will find this entertaining as well as informative!

William Powell was born on July 29th, 1892 as William Horatio Powell. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. Although he is most widely known for his portrayal of the detective Nick Charles in the six "Thin Man" films, his talent far exceeds that.

Powell was an only child. His mothers name was Nettie Brady and his fathers name was Horatio Warren Powell. Powell's father was an accountant and had planned for William to follow in his footsteps.
But the young Powell had other ideas. William showed a very early aptitude for performing. In 1907 his family moved from Pittsburgh to Kansas City, Missouri. After working on a high school production of Richard Brinsley Sheridans (10/30/1751 -07/07/1816), "The Rivals". Powell, a quiet and studious boy who enjoyed the freedom that acting gave him, came to seek out more plays and watching pro's at work. After High School, he left home and attended the University of Kansas for a brief period, eventually though, for him to continue acting professionally he would have to support himself as he father refused to contribute, disappointed by the fact that he didn't want to continue with the family business. So, he first went to work for the telephone company in 1910. By the following year, he'd conceived a plan to go to New York. He wrote to a wealthy aunt and appealed to her for help, he asked her for a loan of $1,400. Instead, he got $700 and had to put up the rest himself and was eventually off to New York. When he got to New York City he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1912, he graduated, and worked some vaudeville and stock companies. After several successful experiences on the Broadway stage, he began his Hollywood career in 1922, by playing a small role in a production of Sherlock Holmes, that starred John Barrymore as the great detective. His most memorable role in silent movies was as a bitter film director opposite Emil Jennings, Academy Award winning performance as a fallen detective in "The Last Command" (1928). This led to Powell's first starring role as an amateur detective Philco Vance in "The Canary Murder Case" (1929).

William Powell specialized in urbane cynicism, signifying unflappable, upper class charm with the smallest gesture. A very dependable actor he became a staple at MGM in the late thirties and forties. Powell whether romantic, comic or sinister, kept his edge of witty sophistication invariably intact. His classic look was expressive eyes, close haircut and a trim moustache.

Powell's most famous role by far thought was that of Nick Charles in six "Thin Man" movies. Beginning with "The Thin Man" in 1934. Nick Charles, to Myrna Loy's Nora in the screen adaption of Dashiell Hammetts "The Thin Man" was perfect. Powell and Loy generated a rare, extraordinary chemistry on screen, pioneering a concept that would become a staple in screwball comedy - marriage could be a fun partnership! They would appear in 14 films together including the five additional "Thin Man" outings. The role provided a perfect opportunity for Powell to showcase his sophisticated charm and his witty sense of humor; and he received his first Academy Award Nomination from them. Myrna Loy played his wife Nora in each of the Thin Man films. Their partnership was one of Hollywood's most prolific on-screen parings. He and Loy also starred in the Best Picture of 1936, "The Great Ziegfeld" with Powell in the title role and Loy as Ziegfeld's wife Billie Burke. That same year he also received his second Academy Award nomination for "My Man Godfrey".

In 1935, he starred with Jean Harlow in "Reckless". Their on-screen relationship soon developed into a serious romance that would last over two years, even though they were both very much in love with each other, there was a major issue in their relationship that they could not resolve. She wanted children, he did not. Unfortunately, she died of renal failure at the age of 26 on June 6th, 1937. On her crypt are only the words "Our Baby". She was buried in the negligee that she had worn in the filming of her last film "Saratoga" with Clark Gable and had a white gardenia placed in her hands with a note that read "Good Night, My Dearest Darling", which is believed to have been from Powell. He also paid the $25,000 for the private room her crypt is in which is made of multi-colored imported marble and is in their "Sanctuary of Benediction". His distress over her death as well as his own battle with colon cancer (which I will expand upon a bit later...) around the same time caused him to accept fewer roles.

His career slowed considerably in the forties, although he received in 1947 his third Academy Award nomination for his work in "Life of Father". His last film "Mister Roberts" was in 1955 and included James Cagney, Henry Fonda, and Jack Lemmon. Despite numerous entreaties to return to the screen, Powell refused all offers, happy in retirement.

His marriages - In 1915, Powell married Eileen Wilson, with whom he had his only child, William David Powell, before an amicable divorce in 1930. (Powell's son became a television writer and producer before a period of ill health that lead to his suicide in 1968). In 1931, for his second marriage, Powell married actress Carole Lombard. This marriage lasted just over two years. They were divorced in 1933, but always remained on good terms even starring together in "My Man Godfrey" three years later. Than came his relationship with Jean Harlow which would probably have led to marriage if not for her untimely death. On January 6th, 1940, he married actress Diana Lewis whom he called "Mousie" Although the couple had only met for the first time three weeks before the wedding, they remained married until his death at 91.

Powell's subsequent screen roles were variations on the Nick Charles theme. Igniting a succession of classic comedies such as "The Libeled Lady", "My Man Godfrey" and Double Wedding".

Powell cultivated solitude and quiet and a few sincere friends , rather than mob merriment, noise and thousands of nodding acquaintances.

Concerning Williams bout with colon cancer; He was given a short time to live when he was diagnosed but managed to confound the illness and the predictions with radiation treatment, he even kept his career going with one film each in 1938 and 1939. The later, the second Thin Man sequel, "Another Thin Man". Powell was back working full time if not keeping so heavy a schedule in the early forties, when the studio revived the Thin Man movies anew, starting with "Shadow of the Thin Man". With Van Dyke gone now, Powell and Loy proved that they could work their magic in the hands of other filmmakers, in scripts that carried them through World War II - "The Thin Man goes Home" (1944), and the postwar period "Song of the Thin Man" (1947). What really amazed me is that having such a cancer as he did, and when he did, it was almost a death sentence back than. But with treatment consisting of little more that radiation, he went on to live to the ripe old age of 91!

William Powell retired happily and comfortably at his home in Palm Springs, California, with his third wife Diana Lewis, whom if you may remember, he married in 1940, and ended up surviving him. Ironically with the advent of the television era and the boom in repertory movie houses in the sixties and seventies, and the advent of home video in the early eighties, Powell's popularity didn't wane after his retirement as older viewers continually rediscovered "The Thin Man" and it's sequels as well as his other hits such as "My Man Godfrey" and "Libeled Lady". And newer generations came to know him through these movies as well. He was one of the most consistently popular of retired film stars among the ever growing audience attuned to older movies. His fame endured for decades. Powell never re-emerged to give celebrity interviews, apart from discussing his fight with cancer. Preferring to keep to himself and a tight circle of friends, including Myrna Loy who lived on the other coast in New York City. She later stated that he was embarrassed by his gradual hearing loss in his later years.

William Powell passed away on March 5th , 1984 of Cardiac arrest in Palm Springs, California, at the ripe age of 91. Thirteen years later, his wife Diana passed away in 1997.

In closing, I would like to say that William Powell was one of the most popular and longest enduring leading men in Hollywood; his stardom lasting for four decades, from the 1920's through the 1950's, and even beyond his retirement in 1955. For myself, personally, there has been no equal.


1. "Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal; since it will be the last thing your guests will remember before they pass out all over the table".

2. A quote for the first Thin Man in 1934:
Nick: "Oh, its all right Joe, its my dog. And also, my wife"
Nora: "Well, you might have mentioned me first on the billing!"

3. A quote from "After the Thin Man in 1934:
Nick: "Come on, lets get something to eat, I'm thirsty!"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Carolynn's Favorite Quotes

"Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils" - General John Stark (1809)

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety" - Benjamin Franklin

"Liberty means responsibility, that is why most men dread it" - George Bernard Shaw

"Those who stand of nothing fall for everything" - Alexander Hamilton

"War does not determine who is right, only who is left" - Bertrand Russell

"It is necessary to get behind someone before you can stab them in the back" - Sir Humphrey Appleby

"It is easier to be a lover than a husband for the simple reason that it is more difficult to be witty everyday than to say pretty things from time to time" - Honore de Balzac

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people" - P.T.Barnum

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Favorite Classic Movie Stars - LOUISE BROOKS

Born Mary Louise Brooks in Cherryvale, Kansas, on November 14th 1906, Louise Brooks is best identified (at least to me!) as a silent film star. She was the daughter of Leonard Porter Brooks, who was a lawyer who was usually too busy with his practice to discipline his children and an artistic mother who determined that "squalling brats she produced could take care of themselves". Myra Rude Brooks was a talented pianist who played the latest Debussy and Ravel for her children, inspiring in them a love of books and music. But none of this protected her nine year old daughter Louise from sexual abuse at the hands of a neighborhood predator. The event had a major influence on Brooks life and career, causeing her to say in later years that she was incapable of real love, or that this man "must have had a great deal to do with forming my attitude toward sexual pleasure". "For me, nice, soft, easy men were never enough --there had to be an element of domination". (When Brooks told her mother at last many years later, her mother suggested that it must have been Louise's fault for "leading him on".)

Brooks began her entertainment career as a dancer, joining the Denishawn Modern Dance Company in 1922. A long simmering personal conflict between Brooks and Ruth St. Denis, the owner of the company, boiled over one day two years later. However, St. Denis abruptly fired Brooks from the troupe by telling her in front of the other members that "I am dismissing you from the company because you want life handed to you on a silver salver". The words left a strong impression on Brooks; when she drew up an outline for a planned autobiographical novel in 1949, "The Silver Salver" was the title she gave to the tenth and final chapter.

Brooks made her screen debut in the silent "The Street of Forgotten Men" in an uncredited role in 1925. Soon however she was playing in a number of silent light comedies and flapper films over the next few years. Starring with W.C. Fields, and Adolphe Menjou among others. It has been said that her best American role was in one of the last silent film drama's "Beggars of Life" (1928).

In the summer of 1926 Brooks married Eddie Sutherland, the director of the film she made with W.C. Fields, but by 1927 she had fallen "terribly in love" with George Preston Marshall. An owner of a chain of laundries and future owner of the Washington Redskins Football Team. Following a chance meeting with him that she later referred to as "The most faithful encounter of my life", She divorced Sutherland mainly due to her budding romance with Marshall in June of 1928.

By this time in her life Louise was rubbing elbows with the rich and famous and was a regular guest of William Randolph Hearst, and his mistress Marion Davies at San Simeon. Her distinct bob haircut which became eponymous and is still recognized today. Soon after making "Beggars of Life" was made. Brooks who loathed the Hollywood scene refused to stay on at Paramount after being promised a raise from G.W. Pabst, the great German Expressionist director.

Paramount attempted to use the coming of sound films to strongarm her back but she called the studios bluff. It was not untill thirty years later that this rebellious move would come to be seen as arguably the most savy of her career. Securring her immortality as a silent film legend and an independent spirit. Unfortunately, while her initial snubbing of Paramount alone would not have finished her in Hollywood altogether, her refusal after returning from Germany to come back to Paramount for sound retakes of "The Canary Murder Case" in 1929, irrevoicably placed her on an unofficial blacklist. Actress Margaret Livingston was hired to dub Brooks voice for the film and the studio claimed that Brooks voice was unsuitable for sound.

Once in Germany, she starred in the 1929 film "Pandora's Box" directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst on his New Objectivitity period. The film is based on two plays by Frank Wedekind and Brooks plays the central figure "Lulu". This film is notorious for its frank treatment of modern sexual mores, including the first screen protrayal of a lesbian.

When she returned to Hollywood in 1931, she was cast in two mainstream films "Gods Gift to Woman" in 1931, and "It Pays to Advertise", also in 1931. Her performance in these films however ware largely ignored, and few other job offers were forthcoming due to her informal blacklisting. Despite this, William Wellman, her director on "Beggars of Life" offered here the feminine lead in his new picture "The Public Enemy" starring James Cagney. But Brooks turned down the role in order to visit her then lover George Marshall in New York City. So the part went to Jean Harlow, who began her own rise to stardom largely as a result. Brooks later explained herself to Wellmen by saying she hated making pictures because she simply "Hated" hollywood. And according to film historian James Card, who came to know Brooks intimately later in her life "she just wasn't interested" "She was more interested in Marshall".

In the opinion of Brooks biographer Barry Paris "turning down "Public Enemy" marked the end of Louise Brooks film career". For the rest of her career, she was reduced to playing bit parts and roles in B pictures and short films. One of her directors at the time was a fellow outcast Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, who was working under the pseudonyn of William B. Goddrich. During this period she also wed Chicago millionaire Deering Davis, but abruptly left him in March 1934 after only five months of marriage. "Without a good-bye and leaving only a note of her intentions behind her". According to Card, Davis was just another elegant, well-heeled, admirer, nothing more. The couple officially divorced in 1938.

Brooks had retired from folm the same year she completed one last film. The John Wayne western "Overland Stage Raiders" in which she played the romantic lead with a long hairstyle that rendered her all but unrecognizable from her "Lulu" days. She then briefly returned to Witchta where she was raised. "But that turned out to be another kind of hell" she said. "The citizens of Wichita either resented me having been a success or despised me for being a failure". And I wasn't exactly enchanted with them either. I must confess to a lifelong curse. My own failure as a social creature. After an unsuccessful attempt at opening a dance studio she returned to the East and after brief stints as a radio actor and a gossip columnist, worked as a sales girl at "Saks Fifth Avenue" for a few years. Then eked out a living as a courtesan with a few select wealthy men as clients. Brooks, unfortunately, had a life long love of alcohol (more specifically, gin), having begun drinking heavily at the age of fourteen. And was an alcohlic for a major portion of her life. Although she exorcised that particular demon enough to begin writing about film, which became her second life. During this period, she began her first major writing project. An autobiographical novel called "Naked on my Goat" taken from Goethe' Faust. After working on the novel for a number of years, she destroyed it by throwing the manuscript into an incinerator.

She was notorious spend thrift for most of her life. Even filing for Bankruptcy once, but was kind and generous to her friends, almost to a fault. Despite two marriages, she never had children, referring to herself as "Barron Brooks". Her many loves from years before had included a young William S. Paley, the founder of CBS> According to Louise Brooks: Looking for LuLu, Paley provided a small monthly stipend to Brooks for the rest of her life and according to the documentary, the stipend kept her from committing suicide at one point. SHe also had on and off again relationship with George Marshall throughout the twenties and thirties (which she described as abusive). He was the biggest reason she was able to secure a contract with Pabst. Marshall repeatably asked her to marry him and after finding out that she had had many affairs while they were together, married film actress Corinne Griffith instead.

French film historians rediscovered her in the early fifties, proclaiming her as an actress who surpassed even Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo as a film icon. Much to her amusement. It would lead to still ongoing Louise Brooks film revivals and rehabilitated her reputation in her home country.

James Card, the film curator for the "George Eastman House" discovered Brooks living as a reclusive in New York City about this time and persuaded her to move to Rochester, NY. to be near the "George Eastman House Film Collection". With this help she became a noted film writer in her own right. A collection of her witty and cogent writings "Lulu in Hollywood" was published in 1982.

She rarely gave interviews, but had special relationships with John Kohal and Kevin Browtow, film historians and they were able to catch on paper some of her amazing personality.

SHe had lived alone by choice for many years and died of a heart attack in 1985, after suffering from arthritis and emphysema for many years.

Monday, August 25, 2008

(Special) - Some of the best movie quotes......

" Frankly, My dear, I don't give a damn..." - Gone With the Wind 1939

" You don't understand! I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum which is what I am" - On the WaterFront 1954

" Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" - The Wizard of Oz 1939

" Here's looking at you kid" - Casablanca - 1942

" All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup!" - Sunset Blvd.- 1950

" Fasten your seatbelts, Its going to be a bumpy night!" - All about Eve 1950

" Rosebud" - Citizen Kane - 1941

" Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" - She Done Him Wrong - 1933

" We'll always have Paris" - Casablance 1942

" It's Alive! It's Alive!" - Frankenstein - 1931

" Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" - Casablanca 1942

" Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?" - Little Caesar - 1930

" I have always depended in the kindness of others" - A Streetcar Named Desire - 1951

" Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast" - King Kong 32

" Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" - 42nd Street - 1933

" My mother thanks you, My father thanks you, My sister thanks you, and I thank you!" - Yankee Doodle Dandy - 1942

Carolynn's Favorite Quotes

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone" - Henry David Thoreau

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible" - Jerzy Lec Stanislaw

"The holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money" - Mark Twain

"The only thing he taught me was how not to be a father...He walked out the bloody door and was never around.....For someone who was praised for peace and love and wasn't able to keep that at home, that's hypocrisy" - Julian Lennon, on his father, the late John Lennon

"Welfare is a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit" - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"What does not destroy me, makes me strong" - Friedrich Nietzsche

"I don't give them hell, I just tell the truth and the think its hell" - Harry S. Truman

"Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength" - Eric Hoffer

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana

Favorite Classic Movie Stars - EDWARD G. ROBINSON

Edward Goldenberg Robinson Sr. (born Emanael Goldenberg), was born on December 12, 1893 and died on January 26, 1972.

Edward was born to a Yiddish speaking Jewish family in Bucharest, Romania. He emigrated with his family to New York City in 1903. He attended Townsend Harris High School and then City College of New York, but an interest in acting led him to winning an American Academy of Dramatic Arts Scholarship after changing his name to Edward G. Robinson, with the G signifying his last name.

He began his acting career in 1913 and made his Broadway debut in 1915. He made his film debut in minor and uncredited roles in 1916. In 1923 he made his named debut as E.G. Robinson in "The Bright Shawl". One of many actors who saw his career flourish in the new sound film rather than falter. He made only three films prior to 1930, but left his stage career that year, and made fourteen films between 1930-1932. He married his first wife, actress Gladys Lloyd in 1927, who was born Gladys Lloyd Cassell. She was the former wife of Ralph L. Vestervelt and daughter of Clemment C. Cassell, an architect, sculptor and artist. They had one son, Edward Goldenberger Robinson Jr. (also known as Manny Robinson 1933-1974), as well as a daughter from Gladys first marriage.

An acclaimed performer as the gangster Roco Bandello in Little Ceaser (1931) led him to being typecast as a tough guy for much of his early career. In works such as "Five Star Final (1931) "Smart Money" (31), also his only movie with James Cagney. "Tiger Shark" (32), "Kid Galahad" (37) with Bette Davis and Humphry Bogart, and "A Slight Case of Murder" and "The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse" (1938). In the forties, after a good performance with "Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet" (1940), he expanded into edgy psychological drama including "Double Indemnity" (1944), "The Woman in the Window" (1945), and "Scarlet Street" (1945). But he continued to portray gangsters such as Johnny Rocco in John Huston's "Key Largo" (1948), the last of five films he made with Humphry Bogart.

On three occasions in 1950 and 1952 , he was called to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was threatened with blacklisting. Robinson became frightened and took steps to clear his name, such as having a representative go through his check stubs to ensure that none had been issued to subversive organizations. He reluctantly gave names of communist sympathizers and his own name was cleared, but thereafter he received smaller and less frequent roles. Still, anti-communist director Cecil B. DeMille cast him in "The Ten Commandments" in (1956).

A cultured and urbane man , Robinson built up a significant art collection, especially of abstract modern art. In 1956 he sold it to Greek Shipping tycoon Staros Niarchos to raise case for his divorce settlement with Gladys Robinson. His finances suffered due to underemployment after Hollywood's anti-communist period in the fifties. That same year he returned to Broadway in "Middle of the Night".

After De Mille brought Robinson back into movies his most notable role was "A Hole in the Head" (1959), opposite Frank Sinatra, and "The Cincinnati Kid" (1965), which showcased Robinson alongside Steve McQueen. Director Peter Bogdanovich was considered as a possible director for "The Godfather" in 1972, but turned it down. He later remarked that he would have cast Robinson in the role ultimately played by Marlon Brando. Robinson indeed tried to talk himself into the part (which was how he won the role of Little Caeser forty years earlier), but Francis Coppola decided on Brando instead over initial objections of the studio.

Robinson was popular in the thirties and forties and was able to avoid many flops during a fifty year career that included 101 films. His last scene was an euthanasia sequence in the science fiction cult classic "Soylent Green" (1973), in which he dies in an euthanasia clinic while watching nature films on a wall size screen.

Robinson was never nominated for an Academy Award, but in 1973, he was awarded an honary oscar in recognition that he had achieved greatness as a player, a patron of the arts and a dedicated sum, a Renaissance man. He died from cancer at the age of 79 two months before the award ceremony.

Edward G. Robinson is buried in a crypt in the family mausoleum at Beth El cementery in Ridgewood, Queens, NY.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Then and Now......Classic Movies, explanations, slang, etc.....

Being such a big fan of classic film that I am, I find it hard not to observe the changes in both language and culture from then (the 1930's and the 1940's) and now. And I sometimes wonder how a young person of today can even understand the dialog and plots of these movies as their meanings have changed so much through the years. I am 54 years old, so I grew up with my parents and grandparents watching these movies and so most of the terminology I understand.....and am able to enjoy these movies to the utmost. I thought today though that I would share some observations, slang, etc. to better enable others to enjoy these films as much as I do, and even more so, understand an era that is long gone.

One of the first words that I noticed in old films when I was younger that my girlfriends and I giggled over in our ignorance was the word "gay". In 2008, the word "gay" is almost totally synonymous with meaning a homosexual man (even though, in Websters dictionary it is the forth of four definitions!). But in the thirties and forties the word was used exclusively for its first definition in the dictionary which is "Happily excited: keenly alive and exuberant". And that is the ONLY way it is expressed in classic film. The reason I bring this up is because it is used a great deal in these movies. People are always explaining that they are having such a gay time...or that they are so happy and gay. Or, for instance, when asked what activity they would like to do, it would usually contain the word in a sentence, such as "I'd love to go rowing, we could have such a gay time!". But if a young person of today were to sit and watch any film from that era in which the terminology is used, they would almost certainly come away confused as to what was going on in the scene. So, hopefully that is one area I have been able to clear up a bit. I should also mention before going on to the next subject, that almost everything that was talked about and done in these films were done in very good taste and with an innocence that you don't find in movies any longer.

Another big difference you will notice between then and now is in the romance department. Romance in old movies remind me of a quote from the Alfred Hitchcock movie "Rear Window" Thelma Ritter was trying to explain to Jimmy Stewart that couples of that generation (it was 1954), put too much thinking and philosophising into relationships rather than just letting them happen. She said "In my day, two people, met, fell in love, and got married....BANG! And that is just about how it did occur in the films of these years. You will find from almost any film from the 1920's through the 1940's that romance worked just that way. A guy and a girl would meet, usually in a perfectly innocent way, maybe in a department store, or a coffee shop or just working together, and their is an attraction, usually one date was all it would take before they were telling each other that they loved them, and (a favorite word of the time...), calling them darling! Usually a week of dates was all that was needed to cement the relationship and start planning the wedding. Especially if they had gone as far as kissing and necking!

"Making Love" is a phrase that is used in these movies to mean, not sexual intercourse, as it does today, but any overture in the sexual department that was either warranted or not. And the phrase was used frequently! But it was in the context of having had someone kiss you passionately whilst holding you in their arms. In many a film you can find a jealous boyfriend ask his sweetheart if another man had made love to her. And that is exactly what he meant. Just kissing and hugging. Sexual intercourse, was not even entered into the equation.

Some items in these films that were considered perfectly normal and in fact were considered classy and sophisticated and elegant was the fact that almost everyone smoked cigarettes and drank "cocktails".And I mean everyone! Doctors in hospitals, teachers in school, right there, puffing away while going about their normal chores. Its amazing the contradictions! Just as smoking and drinking were considered "politically correct" in their day, it was also not considered taboo to call other people from other races by quite insulting by today's standards names. It was a different time and a different way of life.

Below, I have put together a list of slang terminology that was used during the 20's, 30's, and 40's. I think you will find it helpful in your watching of these wonderful films and maybe even a little bit insightful.

A skirt - a skirt was a woman

Big Cheese - The most important or influential person

Caper - A criminal act or robbery

Chassis - The female body

Dame - A woman

Dick - A private detective

Dogs - Feet

Doll - An attractive woman

Gams - A woman's legs

Hooch - Bootleg liquor

Hoofer - A dancer

Joe - Coffee

On the Lam - Fleeing from police

On the Up and Up - On the level

To get Pinched - To get arrested

Sinker - A doughnut

Swell - Wonderful (another word used quite frequently!)

Tomato - Girl

Darb - And excellent person or thing

Chickie - As in Chickie, the cops!

bracelets - Handcuff

Neck Stretching Party - A hanging

Carolynn's Favorite Quotes

"Things do not change, we change" - Henry David Thoreau

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are" - Anais Nin

"Let us be grateful to people wo make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our soul blossom" - Marcel Proust

"Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so" - John Stuart Mill

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just on more time" - Thomas Edison

"You can't make up time; you can only us whats left, better" - Oscar G. Darlington

"Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude" - Ralph Marston

"Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead" - Louisa May Alcott

"People only see what they are prepared to see" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Happiness is a direction, not a place" - Syndey J. Harris

"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be" - Abraham Lincoln

"Everytime I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race" - H.G. Wells

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Favorite Classic Movie Stars - FRANCHOT TONE

Franchot Tone was born by the name of Stanislas Pascal Franchot Tone on February 27, 1905 in Niagara Falls, NY. He was the youngest son of Dr. Frank Jerome Tone, who was the president of the Carborundum Company and his wife Gertrude Van Vrancken Franchot. Franchot was born of French Canadian, Irish, English and Basque ancestry and was related to the Irish revolutionary "Theobald Wolfe Tone".

As a child of wealthy parents, he had the opportunity to and did travel all over the world. He attended Miss Otis's School, which was then a boys academy. And then Hill School, for which he was dismissed "for being a subtle influence for disorder throughout the fall term".

He attended Cornell University, and originally majored in French as he was planning on becoming a language teacher, but that was before he became interested in dramatics and acting and where he eventually became president of the dramatic club, and also was elected to "The Sphinx Society" which was the oldest senior honor society at Cornell. "The Sphinx Society recognized Cornell senior men and woman who have demonstrated respectable strength of character on top of a dedication to leadership and service at Cornell University". Election to the Sphinx head has been recognized by "The New York Times" and "The highest non-scholastic honor within reach of undergraduates".

After graduating from college in 1927, Franchot decided against going into the family business in order to pursue a career in acting. He first joined a Buffalo, New York, stock company at fifteen dollars a week, and than moved to Greenwich Village and auditioned for the "New Playwrights Theater".

He got his first Broadway roll in the 1929 Katherine Cornell production of "The Age of Innocence".

The next year, he joined up with "The Theater Guild" and played Curly in "Green Grow the Lilacs". Which was later to become the famous musical "Oklahoma!". He became one of the founding members of the famed "Group Theater" which was a New York City theater collective formed by (to name a few...) Harold Cluman, Cheryl Crawford, Stella Adler, Clifford Odets and Lee Strassberg. This was in 1931. The theater was intended as a base for the kind of theater they and their colleagues believed in - "a forceful, naturalistic and highly disciplined artistry". They were the pioneers of what would become know as "American Acting Technique".

These years were intense and productive years for Tone. Among the productions of the Group, he acted in were "1931 (1931), "Success Story (1932). He was universally regarded by critics as one of the most promising actors of his generation and Gary Cooper called Tone "The best actor he ever worked with".

The same year, however, Tone became the first of the group to turn his back on the theater and go to Hollywood, when MGM offered him a film contract. Nevertheless, he always considered cinema far inferior to the theater and recalled his stage years with longing. He often sent financial support to the Group Theater, which often needed it. He eventually returned to the stage from time to time after the 1940's.

Franchot's screen debut in Hollywood though was in 1932's "Wiser Sex". He achieved real fame though in 1933 when he made seven movies that year. Including "Today We Live" (written by William Faulkner), where he first met his future wife, Joan Crawford. "Bombshell" with Jean Harlow, with whom he co-starred in three other movies with. The smash hit "Dancing Lady", again with Crawford and Clark Gable. In 1935, probably his best year, he starred in "Mutiny on the Bounty" for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor), "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" and "Dangerous" with which he starred opposite Bette Davis with whom it was rumored he was having an affair with. Davis would later admit to falling in love with Tone, but his affections were with her rival, whom he married shortly later.

He worked steadily through the 1940's, but without breaking through as a major star. He was usually type cast as the wealthy, cafe-society playboy type, and very few films for this period are notable. One conspicuous exception was "Five Graves to Cairo" in 1943.

In the 1950's Franchot moved to television and also returned to Broadway. In 1957 he appeared on Broadway in "A Moon for the Misbegotten" with Wendy Hiller. He also co-starred in the Ben Casey television series from 1965-1966 as Casey's supervisor.

Franchot was married on October 11, 1935 in New Jersey to Joan Crawford, they divorced in 1939. They had made seven films together. "Today We Live" (1933), "Dancing Lady" (1933), "Sadie McKee" (1934), "No More Ladies" (1935), "The Gorgeous Hussy" (1936), "Love on the Run" (1936), and "The Bride wore Red" (1937).

He married and divorced three more times; to fashion model turned actress Jean Wallace from 1941 to 1948, and with whom he had two sons. Actress Barbara Payton from 1951-1952, and finally to much younger actress Dolores Dom from 1956-1959.

A chain smoker, Franchot Tone died of lung cancer in New York City on September 18, 1968 at the age of sixty three. Joan Crawford was moved by Tones plight during his illness and it was reported that she was to have taken him into her home to care for him. His remains were cremated and ashes scattered.

Carolynn's Favorite Quotes....

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein

"Language is fossil poetry" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom" - Albert Einstein

"Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving, mad" - Fodor Dostoevsky

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" - Dr. Seuss

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple" - Dr. Seuss

"Don't cry because its' over - Smile because it happened" - Dr. Seuss

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not" - Dr. Seuss

"Life is half spent before we know what it is" - George Herbert

"To do a dull thing with style --now thats what I call art" - Charles Bukowski

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs" - Albert Einstein

Poem from my granddaughter....

I don't usually put personal information on this blog, not because I don't want to, but I usually don't really feel that I have that much to share on a daily basis. I hope to change that bit by bit, and by starting to do so, I would like to share with everyone a poem written by my ten year old granddaughter on returning to school this Thursday, August 21st. Before I do so, though, I should also add that I have three granddaughters, all sisters, ages, 5, 8 and 10. I love them all dearly and am so very proud of them. The youngest will be starting kindergarten this year, while the other two are by now old hats at the school game. Both of them are so intelligent that they both are in the gifted student program at their school (sorry, but that's just a grandmothers pride showing!) Enjoy the poem!


School is just starting,
The year is brand new,
I'm free to change,
however I want to.

I could be a super-rockstar,
or a pretty girl,
wearing a tee-shirt and some pants,
or even a surfer dude!

Or maybe I'll just go to school,
as me and no one else,
I know how I'll go to school...
I'll just be MYSELF!!

So that day I went to school,
and all my friends were there,
We all were just being ourselves,
I figured out what to wear!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Favorite Classic Movie Stars - JEAN HARLOW

Jean Harlow who's real name was Harlean Harlow Carpenter, was born in Kansas City Missouri on March 3, 1911, and passed away on June 7, 1937 at the age of 26. Harlean was the daughter of Mont Clair Carpenter, a dentist and his wife Jean Poe Carpenter (Harlow). Her father came from a working class background while her mother was the daughter of a wealthy real estate broker named Skip Harlow, and his wife Ella Harlow. This was to be an arranged marriage by Jean's father, Skip. Jean, an intelligent and strong willed woman, resented the marriage and would eventually become very unhappy in it.

Harlean would eventually become an American actress and sex symbol of the 1930's. She was frequently called "The Platinum Blonde" and "The Blonde Bombshell". Due to the unique shade of her hair. She has also been ranked as one of the greatest movie stars of all times by "The American Film Institute". Originally, Harlow was cast in films mainly designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal and strong screen presence, before transitioning to more developed roles and great fame under MGM. Harlow's enormous popularity and image were in distinct contrast to her personal life which unfortunately was full of disappointment, tragedy and ultimately her sudden death from renal failure at the age of 26.

Harlean's childhood was not one that was filled with poverty and unhappiness. Harlean, lived with her parents in a very large house in Kansas City that was her grandfathers second home. She was to be the only grandchild in the family and earned the nickname "The Baby" which would stay with her for the rest of her life. Being without any siblings, Harlean became extremely close to her mother, and Jean Carpenter, herself unhappy in her marriage, turned all her focus on her daughter. She was extremely protective and coddling to young Harlean, instilling in her a sense that Harlean and everything she had she owed to her mother which in turn inspired a deep devotion from daughter to mother, another aspect that would carry through to her adulthood. So coddled was Harlean that she did not know until the age of five, when she began to attend school at "Miss Barstow's Finishing School for Girls" in Kansas City, that her real name was really Harlean and not Baby.

With her daughter away at school, mother Jean became more frustrated with her unhappy marriage and ended up filing for divorce which was granted on September 29th 1922. She received sole custody of her daughter and Harlean would only see her father rarely again in her lifetime.

In 1923 with hopes of becoming an actress, Harleans mother Jean moved with Harlean to Hollywood, where the child briefly attended the "Hollywood School for Girls". However, with no good prospects coming in acting for mother Jean, and with their finances dwindling, they returned to Kansas City within two years.

In the summer of 1925, Harlean's grandfather sent her to a summer camp called "Camp Cha-Ton_Ka" in Michiganne, Michigan. It was during this summer that Harlean caught scarlet fever. From there, Harlean attended the "Ferry Hall School" in Lake Forest, Ill. Freshman were paired with a "big sister" from the senior class, and the fifteen year old Harlean was paired with a girl who introduced her to nineteen year old Charles "Chuck" McGrew, heir to a large fortune, in the fall of 1926. Harlean and Chuck fell in love and were married at the end of 1927 much to the annoyance of mother Jean, (who had earlier that year married herself to a man named Marino Bello), marriage would free Harlean from her control.

Shortly after the marriage, Chuck McGrew turned twenty-one and received part of his large inheritance and the couple moved to Los Angeles where Harlean thrived as a wealthy socialite and more importantly; away from her mother. In Los Angeles Harlean befriended Rosalie Roy, a young aspiring actress. Lacking a car. Roy asked Harlean to drive her to Fox Studios for an appointment she had. It was there, sitting in the car waiting for her friend, Harlean was noticed by some Fox executives. Approached by the executives, Harlean was given dictated letters of introduction to the Central Casting Bureau despite stating she was not interested. Remembering this story a few days later Rosalie Roy made a wager with Harlean that she did not have the nerve to go back and audition for roles. Unwilling to lose a wager and pressed by her mother, Harlean drove to Central Casting and signed in under her mothers name, Jean Harlow.

After several calls and turned down job offers from Central Casting, Harlean was pressured by her mother (who now also is living in Los Angeles), into accepting work. Harlean then appeared in her first film "Honor Bound", as an unbilled extra for seven dollars a day. This led to several other roles, and Harlean landed bit parts in silent films such as "Why is a Plumber?" (1927), "Moran of the Marines" (1928), "The Love Parade" (1929). She also had more substantial roles in Laurel & Hardy shorts "Double Whoopee" and the Clara Bow vehicle "The Saturday Night Kid", both in 1929. Under pressure from Harleans career ascent, she and Chuck separated in 1929 and Harlean moved in with her mother and Bello.

During the filming of "Weak but Willing" in 1929, she was spotted by James Hall, an actor in a than shooting Howard Hughes film called "Hells Angels". Hughes, re-shooting the film from silent to sound needed a new actress as the original actress Greta Nissen's Norse accent proved undesirable for a talkie. Harlean met briefly with Hughes and was hired on the spot. He signed her to a five year contract on October 24, 1929. It was during the shooting that she would meet MGM executive Paul Bern. "Hells Angels" premiered on May 27, 1930 at Graumanns Chinese Theater.

She was a sensation with audiences but critics were less impressed. The "New Yorker" called her "plain awful". "Variety" remarked "It doesn't matter what degree of talent she possesses....nobody ever starved possessing what she's got". In 1931 she was loaned out by Hughes Caddo Company to other studios. She began to get more and more attention when she appeared in "The Public Enemy" with James Cagney, "Goldie", "The Secret Six" with Clark Gable and Wallace Berry) and "Platinum Blonde" with Loretta Young. Though the films were ranged from moderate to smash hits, Harleans acting ability was damned by critics as awful and was mocked, with some saying she ruined any film she was in.

Concerned, Hughes sent her on a personal appearance of the East Coast in 1931. To the surprise of many, especially Harlow, herself, she pack every theater she was in. Despite critical disparagement and poor roles, Harlows popularity and following were large and growing to the extent that the tour was extended through early 1932. Many of her fans were dyeing their hair platinum to match hers. To capitalize on this craze, Hughes team organized a series of Platinum Blonde clubs across the nation with a prize of $10,000 to any beautician who could match Harlows shade.

Apprised of this, Paul Bern (now Harlows lover and soon to be husband), spoke to Louis B. Mayer about buying out Harlow's contract from Hughes and signing her to MGM. Mayer would have none of it. MGM's leading ladies were just that.....ladies (or at least they were presented that way). And Harlow's silver screen image was that of a floozy, which was abhorrent to Mayer. Bern then began urging good friend Irving Thalberg, production head of MGM to sign Harlow. Noting Harlow's pre-existing popularity and established image. After initial reticence, Thalberg agreed and on March 3, 1932, Harlow's 21st Birthday, Bern called with the news that MGM had bought Harlows contract from Hughes for $30,000.

MGM is where Harlow would become a superstar. She was given superior roles to show off not only her beauty, but what turned out to be a genuine talent for comedy. In 1931 she had starring roles in "Red Headed Woman" and "Red Dust". These films showed her to be much more at ease in front of the camera and highlighted her skills as a comedienne. Harlow and Gable worked well together and co-starred in six films. She was also paired multiple times with Spencer Tracy and William Powell.

Evolving tastes and the additional grooming that MGM was noted for, changed Harlow from a brassy, exotic, platinum blonde to the more mainstreamed, all-american type preferred by studio boss Mayer. The screen Harlow at the end of her life was quite different from the Harlow of 1930.

It was during the making of "Red Dust" that Harlows second husband, Paul Bern was found dead at their home. Creating a scandal that reverberates even to this day. Initially, the Hollywood community whispered that Harlow had killed Bern though that was just a rumor and Berns death was officially ruled as a suicide. Harlow kept silent about the whole thing and survived the ordeal, and even became more popular than ever.

After Berns death, she began an indiscreet affair with boxer Max Baer. Despite being separated from his wife Dorothy Dunbar, at the time of their affair, Dunbar threatened divorce proceedings , naming Harlow as the defendant for alienation of affection. MGM diffused the situation by arranging a marriage between Harlow and cinematographer Harold Rosson. Still feeling the shocks of Berns mysterious death the studio didn't want another Harlow scandal on its hands. Rosson and Harlow were friends and Rosson went along with the plan. They quietly divorced seven months later.

After the box office hits of "Hold Your Man" and "Red Dust" MGM realized that it had a goldmine on its hands in the teaming of Harlow and Gable. They then paired them in two more films "China Seas" with Wallace Berry and Rosalind Russell and "Wife vs. Secretary" with Myrna Loy and James Stewart.

By the middle of the 1930's, Harlow was one of the biggest stars in America and the foremost star at MGM. She was still a young woman with her star continuously growing, while the popularity of other female stars at MGM such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and Norma Shearer were already on the wane. Her movies continued to make huge profits at the box office even during the middle of the depression. Some credit Harlow films with keeping MGM profitable while other studios went into bankruptcy.

Following the end of her third marriage, Harlow met fellow MGM star William Powell and quickly fell in love. Reputably, the couple was engaged for two years but differences kept them from marrying quickly. The main issue being that she wanted to have children and he did not. Harlow also said that Louis B. Mayer would never allow them to wed. Powell was rumored to have expressed extreme regret after her passing at not having married her sooner, in spite of their difficulties.

Although no records exist, it is rumored that in the early part of 1937, Harlow fell ill with influenza. If so, even after she recovered, the attack would have weakened her body against the onslaught of a more serious illness that was just beginning to take hold. Kidney disease. In retrospective analysis, Harlow's kidney's may have been slowly failing during the ten years since she contacted scarlet fever while in her early teens.

In the days before kidney dialysis and transplants, this condition was usually fatal. In addition, Jean needed to have her wisdom teeth extracted, and choose to have all four removed during the same procedure. Requiring general anaesthesia and hospitalization. This may have have worsened her already frail health.

In the spring of 1937, Harlow began filming "Saratoga" with Clark Gable. It was to be her final film. Off screen, Jean perspired heavily and than began coming late to shootings. On May 29, 1937, Harlow collapsed on the set and was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with uremic poisoning. She was cared for at home for the next eight days and was given constant attention despite her mothers Christian Science beliefs. Nonetheless, her condition worsened. On June 6th, she was rushed to the hospital. She died the following morning at 11:35 am. Jean was only 26.

Harlow is entombed at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. In a private room in the Great Mausoleum. Her crypt bears only the inscription "Our Baby".

She was buried in the negligee that she had worn just weeks before while filming a scene from "Saratoga". It was reported that a single white gardenia with an unsigned note attached that read "Good Night, My Dearest Darling" was placed in her hands. It is assumed that both were from William Powell, who also paid for her final resting place, the $25,000, 9x10 private room lined with multicolored imported marble. Located in the "Sanctuary of Benediction".

Many myths have surrounded about Harlow's death, and it was not until the early 1990's that her long sealed medical records were uncovered. Legend had it that Harlow's mother, a follower of the Christian Science religion had prevented doctors from attending to her dying daughter, but this myth has been extinguished as records prove Harlow received constant medical care.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Carolynn's Favorite Quotes

"History is a set of lies agreed upon" - Napoleon Bonapart

"This American system of ours. Call it Americanism, call it Capitalism, call it whatever you like gives to each and every one of us a great opportunity, if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it" - Al Capone

"The story of the human race is war" - Winston Churchill

"Make the lie big, make it simple, Keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it" - Adolf Hitler

"What luck for the rulers that men do not think" - Adolf Hitler

"Power is the ultimate aphrodiasiac - Henry Kissinger

"Work is love made visible" - Kahlil Gibran

"Well done is better than well said" - Benjamin Franklin

"Sometimes, even to live is an act of courage" - Seneca

"Oh, the things you can think if you only try! - Dr. Seuss

"From there to here, and from here to there, funny things are everywhere" - Dr. Seuss

"The most precious possession that ever comes to a man in this world is a woman's heart" - Josiah G. Holland

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Marie Dressler was born on November 9, 1868 and died on July 28, 1934 at the age of 65.

Born as Leila Marie Loerber in Cobourg, Ontario to parents Alexander Rudolph Kerber (who was Austrian), and Anna Henderson. The young Dressler was able to hone her talents to make other people laugh, and began her acting career when she was just 14. In 1892 she made her stage debut on Broadway. At first, she had hoped to make her career singing light opera, but then gravitated towards vaudeville.

During the 1900's she became a major star in vaudeville. In 1902 she met fellow Canadian Mack Sennett and helped him get a job in the theater. In addition to her stage work Dressler recorded for Edison Records in 1909 and 1910. After Sennett became owner of his namesake motion picture studio, he convinced Dressler to star in his highly successful 1914 "Tillie's Punctured Romance", opposite Sennetts newly discovered actor Charlie Chaplin. Dressler appeared in two more "Tillie" sequels and other comedies until 1918 when she returned to vaudeville.

In 1919, during the Actors Equity Strike in New York City, the Chorus Equity Association was formed and voted Dressler as its first President.

In 1927 Dressler was secretly blacklisted by the theater production companies due to her strong stance in a labor dispute. Another Canadian gave her the opportunity to return to motion pictures. MGM boss Louis B. Mayer, who called her "the most adored person ever to set foot in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio".

In 1929 Marie found herself once again out of work, so she joined Edward Everett Horton's theater troupe in Los Angeles. So after this however, Dressler once again found herself in demand due to the arrival of talkies and the need for stage trained performers. She proceeded to leave Horton flat much to his indignation.

After several supporting roles in unsuccessful talkies, Francis Marion, an MGM screenwriter and personal friend of Irving Thalberg, came to Maries rescue. Dressler had shown great kindness to Marion during the filming of "Tillie Wakes Up" in 1917 and in return, Marion used her influence with Thalberg to get Dressler a number of supporting roles, including the queen in "Breakfast at Sunrise" and a snappy maid in "Chasing Rainbows". She was then established as a funny supporting woman. Marion persuaded Thalberg to give Dressler the role of Marthy, the old harridan who welcomes Greta Garbo home after her search for her father in the 1931 film "Anna Christie". Both Garbo and the critics were impressed by Dressler's acting ability, and so was MGM who quickly signed her to a $500 a week contract.

A robust full-bodied woman of very plain features, Dresslers ensuing comedy films were very popular with the movie going public and equally lucrative investment for MGM.

Although past sixty years of age, she quickly became Hollywood's number one box-office attraction, and stayed on top till her death. In addition to her comedic genius and her natural elegance, she demonstrated her considerable talents by taking on serious roles. For her starring portrayal in "Mim and Bill", co-starring Wallace Beery, she won the 1931 Academy Award for Best Actress. Dresslere was nominated again for best actress in her 1932 starring roll in "Emma". With that film, Dressler personally insisted that her studio bosses cast a friend of hers, a largely unknown young actor named Richard Cromwell in the lead opposite her. The break helped launch his career.

Dressler followed these successes with more hits in 1933 including the comedy "Dinner at Eight" in which she played a poor, aging former state actress, and was featured on the cover of the August 7, 1933 cover of TIME magazine. However, her career was cut short when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. MGM head Louise B. Mayer learned of her illness from her doctor and asked that she not be told. To keep her home, he ordered her not to travel on her vacation because he wanted to put her in a new film. Dressler was furious, but complied.

Dressler appeared in more than 40 films but only achieved stardom near the end of her life. ALways seeing herself as physically unattractive, she wrote an autobiography "The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling".

Marie Dressler is buried in Santa Barbara, California, and is interred in a crypt in the Great Mausleum in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cementary, Glendale.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Carolynn's Favorite Quotes

"Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry" - Mark Twain

"When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves" - William Arthur Ward

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go th the grave with the song still in them" - Henry David Thoreau

"Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness" - Chuang-tzu

"The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love and something to hope for" - Allan K. Chalmers

"I am like a falling star who has finally found his place next to another in a lovely constellation, where we will sparkle in the heavens forever" - Amy Tan

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them" - Henri Matisse

"Well done is better than well said" - Benjamin Franklin

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts" - Sir Winston Churchill

"Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves" - Albert Einstein

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do" - Issac Asimov

"Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30 , and is not a conservative, has no brains" - Sir Winston Churchill

Friday, August 1, 2008

Favorite Classic Movie Stars - ROSS ALEXANDER

Ross Alexander was born on July 27th, 1907 in Brooklyn, New York. His birth name was Alexander Ross Smith. He was the son of a leather merchant.

Alexander began his acting career on Broadway in the 1920's. By the age of 26 when he broke into movies, he was regarded as a promising leading man, very good looking, with an easy and charming style and subsequently began to appear in more substantial rolls. He was signed to a film contract by Paramount Pictures, but his film debut for them was not a success. So, for a while, he returned to Broadway. In 1934 however he was signed to another film contract, this time with Warner Brothers studios.

Alexander was much better suited to the Warner Brothers type of film and the studio persevered with him and gradually increased his roles to commensurate with his growing popularity with film audiences. His biggest success of the period was "A Midsummer Nights Dream" and "Captain Blood" (both made in 1935).

Alexander married an actress with whom he knew from and appeared with on Broadway named Aleta Friele in 1934. The marriage ended however the following year when she committed suicide on December 7th, 1935, at the age of 28. Alexander soon after married another actress, Anne Nagel and appeared with her in the films "China Clipper" and "Here Comes Carter" (both in 1936). But by the time he had married Nagel, the studio had lost patience with him after having to cover up a potentially career threatening homosexual scandal, so he career looked very shaky at this point.

In 1936 he starred in an underrated Warner Brothers comedy that was well written as a business venture type of film called "Hot Money". It was a defining role in his persona as a glamorous, wore-clothes-well, leading man, not the usual Warners gangster mold of rough hewn stars like Edward G. Robinson and Paul Muni. But Warner Brothers had decided by this time that his potential as an actor was limited and that his personal troubles did not allow him to focus completely on his career. And although they continued casting him in films, the importance of his roles were greatly diminished. With his professional and personal life in disarray and deeply in debt, and less than five months after his second marriage, Alexander shot himself in the head in the barn behind his home on January 2, 1937, at the age of 29. He used the same gun, a .22 caliber rifle that his first wife had used to kill herself with two years earlier. Yet there is still a mystery surrounding the actors motive for committing suicide. On the day after New Years in 1937 for example, Ross and Nagel had dismantled their Christmas tree in their Encino ranch home. They had discussed plans for the following year and planned a trip together. Ms. Nagel testified at the coroner's inquest. She stated that her husband seemed happier on the day of his death than he had been in weeks. Ross was an expert shot and used to handling firearms. He left no notes. However, Anne said he had been writing poetry and tossing the crumbled papers into the fireplace. Police speculated a possible motive may have been grief over his ex wife's death. The coroners jury ruled that he had taken his life with suicide intent. It seems that even though he was so good looking, and had such a breezy personality, Ross was an acutely self destructive young man who suffered from career instability and domestic tragedy.

Ross was a close friend of the actor Henry Fonda and in 1933, they both appeared together in summer stock. Fonda was also his best man for his first wedding in East Orange, New Jersey.

Another bit of trivia concerns Alexanders infatuation with fellow actor Bette Davis.... he used to send her many love letters. At first she thought that he was a homosexual and found the series of letter in 1936 amusing and harmless, so she did not discourage him. As he attention became more so though, she began to find it annoying and Alexander was confronted by her husband who assaulted Ross.

His last film was "Ready, Willing & Able" with Ruby Keeler and was released posthumously.

Carolynn's Favorite Quotes

"The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least" - Unknown

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Gandhi

"Work like you don't need money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching" - Unknown

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

"A clever person solves a problem, a wise person avoids it" - Albert Einstein

"When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it's only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think that it's two hours. Thats relativity" - Albert Einstein

"Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed - Alexander Pope

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing" - Benjamin Franklin

"When I was a boy I was told that anyone could become president. Now I'm beginning to believe it" - Clarence Darrow

"If your parents never had any children, chances are you won't either" - Dick Cavett

"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't - Erica Jong

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" - George Orwell

"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today" - James Dean

"Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason" - Jerry Seinfeld

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else" - Judy Garland