Time to catch up on the latest batch of reader e-mails, one of our favorite pastimes. Occasionally we hear from a reader long after a blog in question has run. So much the better.
For example, way back on Feb. 3, 2012, we ran a blog headlined WAS VAN JOHNSON GAY Continued, covering the actor’s MGM days during which his offscreen sexual preferences were very much a subject verboten. (That’s Van above, of course.)
Reader Rosemarie writes this:
I’m writing again. I don’t care what any one says of (Van Johnson).
I fell in love with him since I was 13 (when) I am in my senior
I will always have a place in my heart for him.
I only regret that coming to the United States (I am from another
country), I didn’t do my best to try to meet him. I (would) surely
have fainted in front of him, that’s the impact that would
have made in me since he was the love of my life — (platonic
Thanks, Rosemarie. Fan letters don’t get much better than that. We are curious about the circumstances of your first “meeting” with Johnson, so to speak. Where did it occur? Was it at the movies?
Our column of March 12 (Star of the Week — PATRICIA MORISON) drew surprisingly informed responses given that the actress was not what you’d call a classic headliner. From Mark:
I like Patricia Morrison a lot, and I’d add that in 1947’s TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS, she played one of the few “villainesses” in these (usually) male dominated jungle epics.
Also, among Morrison’s Broadway successes was her performance as one of the subsequent “Annas” in the Broadway production of THE KING AND I after Gertrude Lawrence left the show due to illness. I think there’s some kinescope video of her performing some songs from the show. A lovely and talented lady.
That said, I would respectfully disagree that she “almost carries” 1945’s LADY ON A TRAIN. As David Bruce’s annoyed and suspicious fiancée, Morrison made her usual fine contribution to the proceedings, but her role is relatively brief, and as with all (Deanna) Durbin vehicles, Deanna has the central role, and, as far as generating audience interest was concerned, had the primary burden of carrying the film on her own.
She not only was almost always the only musical performer/singer in her films, but she never once, in any of her 21 feature films for Universal, was cast opposite a comparably popular co-star to help ease the burden of generating audience interest.
Offhand, from Jolson to Streisand and beyond, I can’t think of another Hollywood musical star who so consistently had this onerous on their shoulders to the degree that Durbin did. Agree? Disagree? Or can anyone else think of another worthy candidate who satisfies that criteria?
Agree, Mark (a Durbin aficionado par excellence). We do despite Frank’s clumsy editing of our March 12 blog — suggesting that Morison “almost carries” Lady On A Train. No. It was Durbin’s show as you state. Thanks.
More on Morison from Vienna: What a glorious photo of Patricia who should have been a bigger Hollywood star.
We agree on both counts.
Finally, this from Jeff Woodman responding to our blog of March 6 — From BRANDO To BUSTER — SCRAPBOOKING THE STARS:
OK, kind of ashamed to admit this, but at the back of a closet, on a nearly unreachable shelf, there resides to this day a cardboard box containing a few dozen overflowing manila envelopes of yellowing clippings, labeled variously, “large Susan Haywards,” “small Loretta Youngs,” “large Rosalind Russells,” etc…
I last opened it 20 years ago and basically “wallpapered” my kitchen with the most interesting ones. Haven’t seen the rest of its contents since, but I’m completely incapable of getting rid of it. I expect it will be carted out one day, along side my corpse…