Hey, we apologize.
For the last two Mondays (Dec. 3 and Dec. 10) we posed several questions in challenging readership quizzes. And, naughty us, we have not — until today — published the answers.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, ready to relieve all those of you left hanging by your thumbs (as the old radio comedy team, Bob and Ray, used to put it) awaiting our answers. So, here we go.
On Dec. 10, we asked you to identify not only the stars pictured (the easy part) but also the titles of the last pictures they made. The stars pictured were Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Alan Ladd and Marilyn Monroe.
In the case of Gable and Monroe, the question of their last movie is a bit tricky.
That’s because they costarred in director John Huston’s The Misfits, about wild horse wranglers coping with a seductive visitor. The film was shot in the hot Nevada desert, and Gable did a lot of his own stunts. He was 59 at the time, and the rigorous action took its toll. Soon after the movie was completed, he collapsed and died of a heart attack.
The Misfits came out in 1961, and it was the last completed movie that Gable and Monroe ever made. Monroe didn’t die for another year, but before she did she began her infamously troubled starring role in director George Cukor’s Something’s Got To Give at Twentieth Century Fox.
Monroe was psychologically unglued at this point. Although she looks absolutely smashing in those poolside photos shot during the ill-fated production, her erratic behavior got her fired from the picture and then rehired. To no avail. Something’s Got To Give was never completed.
Ladd was very touchy about how short he was –at 5-foot-6-1/4-inches, the fully-grown actor was indeed one of the shortest leading male figures in Hollywood history. Towards the end of his life he battled his own demons. A longtime marriage dissolved followed by short term affairs and substance abuse.
He died in 1964 in Palm Springs, California, of an alcohol-barbiturate overdose. He was just 50 years old. His last role in his last movie was as “Nevada Smith” in Paramount’s screen adaptation of the Harold Robbins’ potboiler, The Carpetbaggers. His costars were George Peppard and Carroll Baker. Ladd deserved better.
Jean Harlow, who was called “Sis” by Clark Gable, her frequent costar, died at the ripe age of 26 while making MGM’s romantic comedy, Saratoga in 1937. She fell ill during filming, and the crew and cast, assuming she would recover in due course, continued the production. Then word of her death came.
What to do? The decision was made to complete the picture with Harlow’s stand in carefully photographed, with dialogue dubbed in post production. Some viewers and critics to this day find it a tad creepy to watch the result.
On Dec. 3, we asked you to name the hometowns of Susan Hayward, Frank Sinatra and James Cagney.
Born Edythe Marrenner on June 30, 1917, Hayward was nurtured in “poverty and bred to insecurity,” writes Beverly Linet in her 1980 biography of the star, Susan Hayward: Portrait of a Survivor.
Throughout her life, the famously Brooklyn-born, red-headed 5-foot-3 actress had “to battle for happiness. For over three decades, she dazzled audiences and critics with portrayals of tragic, stormy women – a gallery of winners, losers, fighters and survivors – and she knew then well, because they were all her,” Linet writes in fevered prose style.
Cagney came from New York’s Lower East Side, a was proud of it.
A while ago, we published familiar (to hardcore Sinatra fans) mug shots that were taken when Frank Sinatra was a young man, just starting his career. What puzzled us initially was that the singer’s Hoboken, New Jersey birthplace is located in Hudson County. But the mugg shots were taken in New Jersey’s neighboring Bergen County.
So what DID happen that resulted in these shots?
It turns out that this is an early case of cherchez la femme in Sinatra’s life. The year is 1938, and Sinatra was 23 years old. He somehow got himself involved with a young woman who lived in Lodi, New Jersey, which is in Bergen County.
According to law enforcement records, “on the second and ninth days of November 1938 at the Borough of Lodi” and “under the promise of marriage” Sinatra “did then and there have sexual intercourse with said complaintaint (the lass from Lodi), who was then and there a single female of good repute.”
Sinatra was charged with “seduction and adultery,” which sounds like an Italian movie title of the Sixties. Yes, reneging on a promise to marry was then considered a legal offense. Bergen County authorities were therefore dispatched to Hoboken to make the arrest.
As it turned out, the charges against Sinatra were later dismissed.