We haven’t dipped into our email bag in a while so today it’s time to catch up.
This from faithful (and alert) reader Jeff Woodman, who took our Sept. 22-23 Monday Quiz featuring Busby Berkeley:
Hey guys, While I scored a decent 7/10, I’ve gotta call foul on #4 — (Judy) Garland was born in 1922, making her b) 17 when she worked with “Uncle Buzz” in 1939.
And was (Berkeley’s) his assessment of wanting him “right there when the camera was photographing her” self-delusional?
I’ve always heard that while (Mickey) Rooney loved the intensive rehearsals Berkeley insisted on, that Garland (the original ‘quick study’) loathed them, and eventually him. (She did after all have him fired from “Annie Get Your Gun” and replaced with Chuck Walters, before being sacked herself.)
And I’ve always heard of an alleged drunken hit-and-run covered up by Howard Strickling and the MGM brass. Any truth there? Thanks!
Thank you, Jeff. Just to refresh, the quiz question referred to was: 4) Question: Berkeley claims credit for “all the musicals teaming Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.” How old was Garland when she worked with him? a) 14; b) 17; c) 15; or d) 21.
You are correct Jeff. Frances Ethel Gumm was born (in a trunk?) on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minn. So, she was indeed 17 when she costarred with Rooney in 1939’s Babes In Arms. She was 15 when she appeared in 1937’s Broadway Melody 1938, not directed by Berkeley.
As for Garland’s working arrangement with Berkeley, he claims that “she would not do a scene unless I stood by the camera, and afterward she would ask me how she looked and if she had done all right.” It should be added that Berkeley was known for problems controlling his alcoholic intake.
According to author E.J. Fleming’s book, The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine, Berkeley was driving home from a party on the night of Sept. 8, 1935, when his car crossed the median on the Pacific Coast Highway and slammed into two cars killing three and injuring two others. MGM immediately sprung into action, mounting an expensive legal campaign that resulted in two hung juries and at least $100,000 in civil suit settlements. To the extent possible the matter was swept under the carpet.
From faithful reader Patricia Nolan-Hall (Caftan Women) regarding our Star of the Week — Shirley Booth blog of Oct. 1:
Hey guys, do you really think “crotchety” is the correct description for TVs “Hazel”? I recall her as more of a well-meaning, sentimental busy-body.
Thanks, Patricia. Joe remembers her character, played by Booth on the tube, as “crotchety” but perhaps he’s thinking more of the comic strip and less of the TV show. Can we split the difference and call her a “crotchety busy-body?”
Finally, nice words from Cheryl about our PETER LORRE Quiz (Pt. 2) published on Oct. 14:
Great job, guys! As a long-time fan of Peter’s, since 1973, I enjoyed your quiz very much. I also posted it to the Lorre fan group I belong to on Facebook.
Thanks, Cheryl. We’re curious. What happened in 1973 that led you to the discovery of Peter Lorre?