Here are a couple of candid shots of some of your favorite movie stars — when movie stars WERE movie stars.
Were they REALLY at a Wrestling Match?
Here are a couple of candid shots of some of your favorite movie stars — when movie stars WERE movie stars.
Were they REALLY at a Wrestling Match?
Melyvn Douglas was a true star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, starring opposite Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, and almost every top leading lady of the 1930s. In addition he is one of the few actors to win what we call “the triple crown” — an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony Award.
He won those awards in his later years, as a character actor and not a leading man. What’s interesting about his career is what he had to do in his “middle years” to earn a living and keep his career alive.
When he returned from serving in World War II (where he achieved the rank of Major) he was no longer considered leading man material and was relegated to secondary roles in films such as The Sea of Grass and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
When is film career stalled he turned to that “new” medium TV. He starred in a detective series, Steve Randall –Hollywood Offbeat, on the Dumont network. The series was enough of a hit to move to CBS. While with Dumont Douglas even briefly hosted a game show – Blind Date. He tried his hand back on Broadway (where he’d begun in the early 1930s) in a musical version of Juno and the Paycock. It was a flop.
But he had some success hosting a Western TV anthology series, Frontier Justice, which was produced by Dick Powell‘s Four Star Productions.
Then he hit paydirt. He won the Tony Award for his portrayal of William Russell in Gore Vidal‘s Broadway hit The Best Man.( Henry Fonda would play the part in the film version.)
Now as a character actor Douglas hit his stride. An Oscar for Hud, and another for Being There. And an Emmy to boot for CBS’ Playhouse’s Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. And he didn’t.
But oh, those middle years.
Here’s another snapshot from the legendary collection of our late pal Donald Gordon.
Last week we showed a picture Donald had snapped of Dennis Morgan and many of our readers were quick to identify the Warner Brothers star.
Today’s mystery man had a career as a leading man in the early 1940s and then turned to Westerns. He also had a very famous and popular wife. Know him?
She was a workhorse at Warner Bros. in the 1930s — making 10 films in 1932 alone — who went on to B-minus (in terms of stardom not talent) status for most of a 50-year career in movies and television.
Joan Blondell was sexy, naughty but always good-spirited onscreen, and, one suspects, offscreen as well. She costarred in James Cagney’s earliest movies in the 1930′s as well as the later efforts of Steve McQueen (1965′s The Cincinnati Kid) and John Tavolta (1978′s Grease). That’s some career arc!
So let’s see how you made out on our Monday Joan Blondell Quiz. She’s certainly worth knowing more about. As usual, to review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: c) James Cagney. He and Joan costarred on Broadway in 1929′s Penny Arcade which the actor wrote was for me a sterling success because it became my clear path to the high road — a 31-year movie career. This was the beginning of Hollywood for me, and for Joan too. Cagney referred to Joan as “my new old pal.” Blondell and Cagney made six movies together, and he described her as the only woman he loved other than his wife.
2) Answer: a) From 1930 to 1939, Blondell made 53 movies.
3) Answer: d) Joan made only 13 movies in the Forties, a real career slowdown.
4) Answer: 1947′s Nightmare Alley, starring Tyrone Power who plays a down-at-the-heels carnival hustler at the end of his rope. Joan is on hand as a veteran mentalist with whom Power’s character has had an affair. This is a grim thriller — unique among noirs, writes critic Eddie Muller. Joan won plaudits for her gritty yet sympathetic performance.
5) Answer: c) Both Blondell and June Allyson shared the same husband — Dick Powell. Joan was first to the altar; the marriage lasted from 1936 to 1944 (there’s the happy couple pictured above). A year after the divorce Powell married Allyson, a union that lasted until his death in 1963.
6) Answer: a) Joan and Elizabeth Taylor also shared a husband — producer Michael Todd. He and Blondell were married for three years beginning in 1947. It didn’t work out well.
7) Answer: c) Dick Powell and Blondell were teamed in 10 musicals together. No wonder they finally got married.
8) Answer: d) Jayne Mansfield.
9) Answer: 1951′s The Blue Veil, a melodrama starring Jane Wyman as a war widow who, after her child dies, becomes a devoted nanny-nursemaid to other familys’ children. Joan plays a fading musical actress whose 12-year-old daughter becomes a bit too close to Wyman ‘s character. (Trivia note: Natalie Wood played Joan’s daughter.)
10) Answer: Blondell’s screen image of the blowsy blond character seemed to grow out of fashion and segued to a different type of blond, represented by a) Veronica Lake.
She was one of the biggest stars of the 1930s.
She could sing and dance, and lit up the screen in many Warners musicals. She was the personification of the wisecracking working woman who had been around the block a few times, a perfect best friend of many a leading man.
Joan Blondell’s career began a house on fire. After a brief period on the Broadway stage, she migrated to Hollywood and appeared in literally dozens of movies during the 1930′s. The pace slowed considerably in the following decade, but her career clicked into a robust second act later on thanks in good part to some plummy roles in solid films and the many tv roles she played.
Blondell remains the embodiment of the saucy, blowsy, salty, independent woman onscreen. She was at least some of that offscreen as well, compiling an interesting personal and marital life. So how much do you know about Joan Blondell?
Let’s get to our Monday Quiz to find out. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Before her movie career began, Blondell appeared on the Broadway stage with an actor who became one of classic Hollywood’s biggest stars. Who is he? a) Clark Gable; b) Ralph Bellamy; c) James Cagney; or d) Humphrey Bogart.
2) Question: Just how many movies did Blondell actually make in Hollywood in the 1930′s? a) More than 50; b) 24; c) 42; or d) 12.
3) Question: How many movies did Blondell make in the 1940′s? a) five; b) a dozen; c) 20; or d) 13.
4) Question: Blondell later in her career had a substantial supporting role in one of the most bizarre film noir thrillers ever made. Can you identify the title of the picture and the name of its star?
5) Question: What did Blondell and actress June Allyson have in common? a) Both were Republicans; b) Both were eminently likable offscreen; c) The same husband; or d) None of the above.
6) Question: What did Blondell and Elizabeth Taylor have in common? a) The same husband; b) A salty way with the English language; c) Both were sexpots; d) None of the above.
7) Question: Who was Blondell’s most frequent male costar in musicals? a) George Raft; b) James Cagney; c) Dick Powell; or d) Donald O’Connor.
8) Question: In 1957, Blondell appeared in the supporting role as “Violet” with which one of the following Hollywood sex symbols in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? a) Marilyn Monroe; b) Elizabeth Taylor; c) Barbara Payton; or d) Jayne Mansfield.
9) Question: In 1952, Blondell was nominated for an Oscar in the best supporting actress category for her work in a drama for which the female lead was nominated for a best actress Oscar. Can you name the movie, and identify the leading actress?
10) Question: Blondell’s standard screen role as a blowsy blond was eventually taken over by which one of the following? a) Veronica Lake; b) Ginger Rogers; c) Lana Turner; or d) Jean Harlow.
By the way, Friday’s mystery man was Dennis Morgan.
When we began this blog, oh so many years ago, we promised to post never before seen photos from the private collection of our late friend Donald Gordon. Here’s one.
Do you recognize the actor/singer. True, it’s not one of Donald’s best shots. The sun is obviously in our star’s eyes.
We ran a blog some time ago about Jack Carson and many readers wrote in to tell us how they enjoyed Carson’s films with the guy pictured above.
A minor controversy in the normally placid classic movie world accompanied the 2012 publication of the randy memoir, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, by Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedberg.
The book was a highly detailed (sometimes nauseously so) tell-all about the sexual preferences a gaggle of Hollywood stars (many British) in post-World War II Hollywood. Many of the book’s assertions were not new but some were.
Scotty Bowers came from the Midwest, served with the Marine Corps. in the Pacific and settled in Los Angeles immediately following his WW II discharge. He found himself pumping gas at a filling station at the corner of Van Ness Ave. and Hollywood Blvd. (near the Paramount studio).
One day, he claims, Walter Pigeon drove by, and invited Bowers to parttake in a sexual triangle involving the actor and another man.
Bowers accepted, and thus, according to his book, began the formation of a secret prostitution ring catering largely to gay and bisexual men and women, many familiar stars. For a selection of big names in the Forties and Fifties, Bowers was the go-to guy to arrange that illicit rendezvous.
For the record, he insists that he was never a pimp. And, despite his personal involvement in countless homosexual “tricks” over decades, he maintains he always has preferred sex with women.
Bowers says he arranged multiple gay liaisons for director George Cukor, composer Cole Porter, and even the Duke of Windsor. He numbers character actor Franklin Pangborn as regular client. There are by-now familiar assertions in his book about the household sharing of Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, and more information on Rock Hudson.
Here’s a item from the book about Vivien Leigh. At the time working as a bartender-caterer of celebrity parties, Bowers claims to have had an assignation with Vivien in a guest house on the estate of her close friend, director Cukor, just as A Streetcar Named Desire was going into production in the early Fifties.
She was a hot, hot lady, reports Bowers. She was very sexual and very excitable…That night we screwed as though the survival of the world depended on it…She had orgasm after orgasm and each one noisier than the last.
Reading an explicit account of an encounter with Charles Loughton requires a sturdy stomach to digest. That kind of behavior may seem disgusting but, you know, it’s surprising how much of it goes on, writes Bowers in his Happy-Hooker prose style. So who was I to judge? To each his own.
Tyrone Power and Laurence Olivier are depicted as harboring “unusual fetishes.” Bob Hope is said to have preferred paid heterosexual encounters with older women that were efficient — short and presumably sweet.
The book’s most controversial claim is that Katherine Hepburn was a confirmed lesbian with complexion problems, and that Spencer Tracy indulged in sex with men. Bowers dismisses the time-honored image of the pair as longtime lovers, virtually an old-married couple.
Even if NONE of Bowers allegations are true, the book remains a recent version of the tried and true — gossip about stars is always news.
How much did you know about one of the most popular stars of his era? He really was that, you know, although his name has faded over time even among dedicated classic movie fans.
George Brent was a hard working smoothie, rolling up more than 100 movie credits over two decades. He also was busy in the romance department since he seemed to tame some of the most temperamental females stars of the Thirties and Forties.
He was a laid-back delight in most of his movies, and played the sophisticated gent to perfection. Ok, let’s get to the answers to our Monday Quiz. As usual, to review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: d) Brent was born in Ireland in 1904. He died in California at age 75.
2) Answer: b) Bette Davis was Brent’s most frequent female costar. They made nearly a dozen pictures together.
3) Answer: a) Ruth Chatterton was wife No. 2, and c) Ann Sheridan was No. 4.
4) Answer: As our photo indicates, Brent’s facial trademark was d) the mustache he is sporting above.
5) Answer: b) False. Brent was born George Brendan Nolan, and got deeply involved in the Irish Rebellion after leaving the Univ. of Dublin, and had to migrate to Canada. He found himself on the Broadway stage in the 1920′s, and moved on to Hollywood in 1930. In short, he came from more or less a hardscrabble backround especially since he was orphaned at age 11.
6) Answer: a) 1934′s The Painted Veil, an adaptation of a a novel by W. Somerset Maugham. Brent plays a dashing diplomat romancing Garbo’s Katrin.
7) Answer: 1945′s The Spiral Staircase. Brent is very good, and so is the picture. Highly recommended.
8) Answer: Bette Davis.
9) Answer: As hinted at in the answer to No. 5, Brent distinguished himself by a) running guns for the Irish rebels, the Sinn Fein led by Michael Collins.
10) Answer: Brent made b) more than 100 pictures. He was a popular workhorse.
He was one of the most handsome and reliable leading men of the 1930s and 40s. He was initially underrated, consigned to play farmers, doctors and the partner of heroic canine Rin Tin Tin.
Then George Brent hit his stride, taking on a series of leading man roles counterbalancing some of classic Hollywood’s most difficult and hard-to-handle female stars. He would up romancing some and marrying two.
The guy was a slickster, and presented a striking presence onscreen. He was a supreme smoothie who excelled at dapper, sophisticated gentlemanly parts. He also conveyed a subtle sense of humor, something he very much needed when taming his costars.
So how much do you know about George Brent? Whatever you might initially think, the guy is worth knowing a lot about. He deserves to be remembered for his first class work. As usual, questions today, answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Brent obviously was from abroad judging by his accent and onscreen manner. Can you name the country of his birth? a) England; b) Canada; c) Scotland; or d) Ireland.
2) Question: Brent’s most successful leading lady and most frequent partner was a) Greta Garbo; b) Bette Davis; c) Hedy Lamarr; or d) Myrna Loy?
3) Question: Brent married five times, twice to actresses of note. Which of the following were hitched to him at one point or another? a) Ruth Chatterton; b) Joan Fontaine; c) Ann Sheridan; or d) Bette Davis.
4) Question: What facial characteristic of Brent’s stands out to this day? His a) big ears; b) aquiline nose; c) flashy teeth; or d) pencil-thin mustache.
5) Question: Brent played the dapper gentleman to perfection because he really did come from a wealthy, aristocratic family. a) True; or b) False?
6) Question: Brent was renowned in Hollywood for his romance with Greta Garbo. In which one of the following movies did they costar? a) 1934′s The Painted Veil; b) 1933′s Queen Christina; c) 1937′s Conquest; or d) 1936′s Camille.
7) Question: Late in his career, Brent took a notable star turn as a deranged serial killer in a tough thriller directed by Robert Siodmak. Can you identify the film’s title?
8) Question: What do these George Brent movies have in common? a) 1935′s Front Page Woman; b) 1939′s Dark Victory; c) 1942′s In This Our Life; and d) 1936′s The Golden Arrow.
9) Question: Brent had a colorful youth. What did he do to distinguish himself? a) Ran guns for a rebel organization; b) Was a big time gambler at an early age; c) Performed acrobatic feats on tall buildings; or d) Took off on a shoestring for Hollywood.
10) Question: Brent is not often remembered today for the breath and scope of his work. How many movies did he actually make during his career, which spanned two decades? a) 50; b) more than 100; c) 27; or 19.
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