Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Opening Title Secrets of An Actress, in which an invisible hand opens a diary

This week’s mystery movie was the 1938 Warner Bros. film “Secrets of an Actress,” with Kay Francis, George Brent, Ian Hunter, Gloria Dickson, Isabel Jeans, Penny Singleton, Dennie Moore, Selmer Jackson, Herbert Rawlinson, Emmet Vogan and James B. Carson.

Directed by William Keighley.

Original screenplay by Milton Krims, Rowland Leigh and Julius J. Epstein.

Photographed by Sid Hickox, edited by Owen Marks, art direction by Anton Grot, sound by Charles Lang, gowns by Orry-Kelly and musical direction by Leo F. Forbstein.

“Secrets of an Actress” has apparently never been commercially released. A low-resolution copy is at Archive.org. TCM has shown it 14 times in the last 20 years, most recently in 2019.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Ravished Armenia and the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide

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A still from “Auction of Souls,” in the Washington Times.


Note: This is an encore post from 2015.

For more than 120 years, Armenians have seen slaughter and death at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and the Turks. In 1894, Sultan Abdul-Hamid II ordered the first massacre and harassment of the Armenian population, with more than 300,000 people killed over three years. 30,000 Armenians were killed in 1909 when Turks in Cilicila revolted against Armenian democratization efforts. In 1915, the wholesale slaughter of Armenians began as a result of World War I, when Armenia became separated from the Allied Forces which supported it when Turkey sided with Germany. As Tony Slide reveals in his book, “Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian,” Russia invaded Turkey and British and French forces attacked Constantinople, precipitating disaster. On April 23-24, 1915, Turkish police began rounding up 800 leading Armenians in Constantinople, exiling them, and began widespread extermination of the Armenian population on April 24. This year marks the Centennial of the Twentieth Century’s first massive genocide, in which more than one million Armenians were slaughtered, half of the population at the time.

One young Christian girl, Arshalouys Mardigian “Aurora Mardiganian,” suffered horrific experiences during the genocide but survived and escaped to America. Her story of a young girl suffering abuses and ravages came to stand for that of Armenia itself when her book, “Ravished Armenia,” was released in 1918. Mardiganian herself starred later that year in a movie adaptation called “Ravished Armenia,” later changed to “Auction of Souls.” In many ways, Mardiganian represents her ravished homeland, as she was exploited and abused by the very individuals who were supposed to provide help, becoming a bit player in her own story. Her story helped publicize the widespread genocide and diaspora of her people, vividly personified in what little remains of the powerful film.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

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This week’s mystery movie was the 1945 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Molly and Me,” with Gracie Fields, Monty Woolley, Roddy McDowall, Reginald Gardiner, Natalie Schafer, Edith Barrett, Clifford Brooke, Aminta Dyne, Queenie Leonard, Doris Lloyd, Patrick O’Moore and Lewis L. Russell.

Screenplay by Leonard Praskins, adaptation by Roger Burford. From a novel by Frances Marion.

Music by Cyril J. Mockridge, musical direction by Emil Newman, arrangements by Maurice DePachk. Photography by Charles Clarke. Art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Albert Hogsett. Set decorations by Thomas Little and Al Orenbach. Edited by John McCafferty. Costumes by  Yvonne Wood. Makeup by Ben Nye. Photographic effects by Fred Sersen. Sound by Bernard Freericks and Roger Heman.

Produced by Robert Bassler. Directed by Lewis Seiler.

“Molly and Me” is available on DVD from TCM and available via streaming from Amazon. The film was shown once on TCM in the last 20 years, in a 2015 tribute to Monty Woolley.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights, the Four Hundred Club

 Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

imageLast week, my research of Yamashiro’s revealed that the Four Hundred Club was the owner of the property in the late 1920s.  What was the Four Hundred Club, and why did it come into being?

Los Angeles in the 1920s was like most major American cities:  there was an elite part of society that held dinners, dances, balls, and other special social engagements that only the invited select participants could attend.  These groups were considered high society, and mostly rich, white, and Christian people were allowed to join.  It was a strange group.  The “Blue Book” invited Mr. and Mrs. Rupert Hughes to join, but not Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

Motion picture actors had been frowned upon in Los Angeles from the beginning.  There were apartments and boarding houses with signs out front stating “No actors.”  Entertainers desired to be included in the elite, and to attend first rate balls and dances.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + + +)

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Last week’s mystery movie was the 1946 MGM picture “Holiday in Mexico,” with Walter Pidgeon, Jose Iturbi, Roddy McDowall, Ilona Massey, Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, and your young singing star Jane Powell, Hugo Haas, Mikhail Rasumny, Helene Stanley, Wm. “Bill” Phillips, Amparo Iturbi, and the grandchildren of Jose Iturbi, Tonia and Teresa Hero.

And no, I don’t think for a moment that Fidel Castro was an extra in this film, despite what IMDB says.

Screenplay by Isobel Lennart. Original story by William Kozlenko.

Musical direction by Georgie Stoll.

Photographed in Technicolor. Photography by Harry Stradling, Technicolor color director Natalie Kalmus. Associate, Henry Jaffa.

Edited by Adrienne Fazan, recorded by Douglas Shearer. Art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Jack Martin Smith. Set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and Arthur A. Krams. Special effects by Warren Newcombe. Costumes by Irene. Men’s costumes by Valles. Makeup by Jack Dawn.

Produced by Joe Pasternak.

Directed by George Sidney.

“Holiday in Mexico” is available on DVD from TCM. It was once available from Warner Archive, but not any more and good grief the redesigned Warner Archive website is horrible.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – A Perfect Villain

Gustav von Seyffertitz
Photo: “Rasputin and the Empress,” with Gustav von Seyffertitz, center, with Ethel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, John Barrymore, Tad Alexander and Lionel Barrymore. Photo listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $9.99.


Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

One of the best villains of the silent screen also possessed one of the most unusual and incredible names of the period. Gustav von Seyffertitz, hissable villain extraordinaire, lived up to his unbelievable name. Born in Bavaria, Germany on August 4, 1863, von Seyffertitz immigrated to America sometime in the late 1890s and soon became an actor at the Irving Place Theatre, the top German theatre in New York City.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Halifax Apartments at Crossroads of Boxing and Film

Halifax Apartments, 6376 Yucca Ave.
6376 Yucca Ave., via Google Street View.


More than 98 years old, the Halifax Apartments at 6376 Yucca Ave. exists due to boxing and the movies. Built by Leach Cross, known as the “boxing dentist,” the apartment house served as a solid investment in a city booming from the movies. Classy and elegant, the structure possesses a story as fancy as any movie.

The motion picture industry was exploding in the early 1920s as film production in the United States moved west from Fort Lee, N.J., to sunny, warm California. Blessed with abundant sunshine and varied landscapes within short drives, Hollywood grew exponentially as new production companies opened every day and men and women moved to the city looking for new opportunities.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 10, 2021, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1951 MGM movie “Grounds for Marriage” with Van Johnson, Kathryn Grayson, Paula Raymond, Barry Sullivan, Lewis Stone, Reginald Owen, Richard Hageman and the Firehouse Five Plus Two.

Screenplay by Allen Rivkin and Laura Kerr. Story by Samuel Marx.

Musical direction by Johnny Green, background musical score by Bronislau Kaper.

Photography by John Alton, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Paul Groesse. Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith. Excerpts from “La Boheme” and “Carmen” staged by Vladimir Rosing. Recording by Douglas Shearer.

Set decoration by Edwin B. Willis, associate Arthur Krams. Montage sequences by Peter Ballbusch. Women’s costumes by Helen Rose. Hairstyles by Sydney Guilaroff. Makeup by William J. Tuttle. Technical advisor, Harold O. Cooperman, M.D.

Produced by Samuel Marx. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard.

“Grounds for Marriage” was apparently never commercially released, but can be found on DVD on the gray market. It has aired 29 times on TCM in the last 20 years, most recently in 2019.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

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This week’s mystery movie was the 1931 MGM film “Five and Ten,” with Marion Davies, Leslie Howard, Richard Bennett, Irene Rich, Kent Douglass and Mary Duncan.

From the book by Fannie Hurst. Dialogue continuity by Edith Fitzgerald. Adaptation by A.P. Younger.

Recording by Douglas Shearer, art direction by Cedric Gibbons, gowns by Adrian. Photographed by George Barnes. Edited by Margaret Booth.

“Five and Ten” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hugo Ballin, L.A. Muralist

June 24, 2011, Globe Lobby
Photographs by Larry Harnisch / LADailyMirror.com

Mural in the Los Angeles Times Globe Lobby, dated July 19, 1934, by Hugo Ballin


Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

Hugo Ballin is one of the greatest muralists in Los Angeles history, creating monumental murals in the 1920s and 1930s celebrating the city, California, and the arts that still bring awe today. His talents extended to other creative areas as well, such as filmmaking and novel writing.

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Harry Houdini: An Interview by Marcet Haldeman-Julius, October 1925

October 1925, Interview with Houdini

Note: In honor of Harry Houdini’s birthday, we are reposting this interview from 1925.

We have been collecting issues of Haldeman-Julius Monthly for several years, but one issue was particularly elusive: The October 1925 number featuring an interview with Harry Houdini, written by Marcet Haldeman-Julius, which was published a year before his death and is apparently keenly desired by collectors.

A copy of this issue was recently added to the archives and we are pleased to present the interview, which appears nowhere else online, refuting the argument that “everything is on the Internet.”

The paper is old and brittle and would not stand up to a scanner, so I photographed the article (Pages 387-397) instead. The images are watermarked because of prevalent practice of swiping pictures on the Internet without attribution or acknowledgement of a source. Pinterest and  Skyscraperpage.com, this means you.

Haldeman-Julius Monthly was published by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius with the motto “Make the World Unsafe for Hypocrisy.” It changed names to “The Debunker” in 1928 and apparently ceased publication about 1931.

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius loved to debunk charismatic religious figures of the  day and Louis Adamic wrote a series of articles for the magazine about Los Angeles evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s mysterious disappearance and miraculous return in 1926. In this vein, the bulk of the Houdini interview is devoted to the charlatans of the day posing as mediums who could communicate with the dead and frequently duped grieving and gullible survivors.  There is also a detailed of description Houdini’s New York brownstone, which was crammed with books and memorabilia, and a cameo appearance by Mrs. Houdini.

Previously in the L.A. Daily Mirror
Aimee Semple McPherson’s Fight With Satan
C.B. DeMille: Movie Evangelist

Enjoy.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 27, 2021, Mystery Photo title for Three Little Girls in Blue

This week’s mystery movie was the 1946 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Three Little Girls in Blue,” with June Haver, George Montgomery, Vivian Blaine, Celeste Holm, Vera-Ellen and Frank Latimore.

Screenplay by Valentine Davies, adapted by Brown Holmes, Lynn Starling and Robert Ellis and Helen Logan from a play by Stephen Powys.

Lyrics by Mack Gordon, music by Josef Myrow. “This Is Always” music by Harry Warren.

Photographed in Technicolor. Photography by Ernest Palmer, Technicolor director Natalie Kalmus. Associate Richard Mueller.

Musical direction by Alfred Newman. Vocal arrangements by Charles Henderson. Orchestral arrangements by Maurice de Packh and Edward Powell.

Art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Joseph C. Wright. Set decorations by Thomas Little, associate Walter M. Scott. Edited by Barbara McLean. Dances staged by Seymour Felix. Ballets by Babe Pearce. Costumes by Bonnie Cashin. Makeup by Ben Nye. Photographic effects by Fred Sersen. Sound by E. Clayton Ward and Roger Heman.

Produced by Mack Gordon. Directed by Bruce Humberstone.

“Three Little Girls in Blue” is available on DVD from Amazon. It aired a year ago on TCM, introduced by Dave Karger and Michael Feinstein.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Tsuru Aoki, Lotus Flower of the Cinema

Tsuru Aoki
Tsuru Aoki, in Sunset magazine.


Note: This is an encore post from 2017.

Though long in the shadow of her more well known husband, Tsuru Aoki achieved just as great a fame as Sessue Hayakawa, with a life story as fascinating as any novel. Born in Japan though raised in the United States, the beautiful Aoki functioned as a crossroads of the East and West, blending together the best attributes of both nations into a wonderful hybrid, though never fully embraced by either. Brought to this country as a child, she was never able to apply for American citizenship thanks to Anti-Asian laws and sentiments, and was often forced to depend on the kindness of others as she was shunted to and fro. Aoki’s life story also reveals America’s changing viewpoints and knee-jerk reactions about and to the Japanese, often during times of trouble in which the “other” became the villain to make up for other groups’ sins.

The vast majority of books and articles mentioning Aoki then and now blend together fact and fiction into her biography, not digging for the true facts. She was not born with Aoki as her name. In fact, she was probably born December 24, 1891 or 1892 in Hakata, the daughter of a poor Japanese fisherman Kahara Isekichi and his wife, Taka Kawakami, which she discovered when her father sent her a letter years after she became a star.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester is now on sale.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Clare West, Early Hollywood Costume Queen

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With a background as mystifying as any Hollywood whodunit, modiste Clare West exploded on the scene as a film costume designer in the mid-1910s, the first person credited as a movie costume designer. Working with film greats for just over 10 years, West and her lavish designs established Hollywood as a fashion leader, trendsetting looks appealing to American women, before she disappeared from the design scene…

Little is known of the early life of West until she magically appears in Hollywood. IMDB claims she was born January 30, 1879 in Missouri, but 1930 census records list her birth date as 1889, with other records appearing to show May 10, 1889 in Kansas as her actual birth date. under the name Clara Belle Smith. One newspaper listing reveals a Clare West opening a millinery/dressmaking shop in what is now the Quad Cities area of Illinois in 1899, while a few New York papers report on a Maison Clare couture shop in New York City around 1911. Film historian Allie Acker claims she attended college before studying fashion design in Paris.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 20, 2021, Main Title for Tampico

This week’s mystery movie was the 1944 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Tampico,” with Edward G. Robinson, Lynn Bari, Victor McLaglen, Robert Bailey, Marc Lawrence, E.J. Ballantine, Mona Maris and Tonio Selwart.

Screenplay by Kenneth Gamet, Fred Niblo Jr. and Richard Macaulay. Original story and adaptation by Ladislas Fodor.

Photography by Charles Clarke, art direction by James Basevi and Albert Hogsett. Set decorations by Thomas Little and Al Orenbach. Edited by Robert Fritch. Costumes by Yvonne Wood. Makeup by Guy Pearce. Photographic effects by Fred Sersen. Dances staged by Geneva Sawyer. Sound by W.D. Flick and Roger Heman. Music by David Raksin. Musical direction by Emil Newman.

Produced by Robert Bassler. Directed by Lothar Mendes.

“Tampico” is available on DVD from Amazon. TCM lists it as “backorder.”

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 13, 2021, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie was the 1915 film “Hypocrites,” written and produced by Lois Weber, photography by Dal Clawson and George W. Hill. With Courtenay Foote as Gabriel, the Ascetic; Myrtle Stedman as the Woman; Herbert Standing as the Abbot; and Adele Farrington as the Queen.

“Hypocrites” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Ruth Harriet Louise

Aileen Pringle
Photo: Aileen Pringle, photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise, listed on EBay at $49.99.


Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Motion picture production jobs both on and off the set have mostly been held by men throughout history, and those for still photography are no different.  Early stills men were mostly cameramen who also acted as photographers of scene stills, like Alvin Wyckoff for Selig Studios.  D. W. Griffith hired James Woodbury to assist and take stills for “Intolerance,”  and others started following suit.  Studios created key books for each film, with photographs organized by scene number, and with each film assigned its own code.  These images could be then be referenced and duplicated, to be sent out as publicity for the picture.

The studios soon realized that portraits of the stars could more easily sell films to consumers.  These photographs were sent en masse to hundreds of magazines and newspapers, which required a never ending stream of material for publication.  Portraits also were numbered in each studio’s own code system, and organized in key books as reference for approved shots of each star.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 6, 2021, Title for The Ghost Goes West

This week’s mystery movie was the 1935 film “The Ghost Goes West” with Robert Donat, Jean Parker, Eugene Pallette, Elsa Lanchester, Ralph Bunker, Patricia Hilliard, Everley Gregg, Morton Selten, Chili Bouchier, Mark Daly, Herbert Lomas, Elliot Mason, Hay Petrie and Quintin MacPherson.

Based on a story by Eric Keown by permission of “Punch.” Screenplay by Robert Sherwood.

Photographed by Harold Rosson, sets by Vincent Korda, production manager David B. Cunynghame.

Musical direction by Muir Mathieson, scenario by Geoffrey Kerr, musical compositions by Michael Spolianski, costumes by Rene Hubert, Robert Donat’s costumes by John Armstrong.

Special effects by Ned Mann, recording by A.W. Watkins, assistant directors Imlay Watts and Albert Valentin, edited by Harold Earle-Fischbacher, supervising editor William Hornbeck.

Directed by Rene Clair.

“The Ghost Goes West” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — Constantin Bakaleinikoff

Note: This is an encore post from 2011. Most people today probably haven’t heard of motion picture musical conductor Constantin Bakaleinikoff, but he was instrumental in setting up theatre orchestras around Los Angeles in the 1920s, before he became music … Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘Native Son’ Indicts Society

Richard Wright as Bigger Thomas in 'Native Son'
Richard Wright as Bigger Thomas in “Native Son.”


Black writer Richard Wright chronicled racial and class prejudice in his intense, best-selling novel “Native Son” in 1940. The work remains a lightning rod, still timely and confrontational as well as profane, graphic and violent to many who seek to ban it from libraries. “Native Son’s” powerful theme boldly covers America’s race divide, making it fertile material for stage and screen. Adapting it for both mediums challenged many, offended by the overt condemnation of racism or what they considered obscenity, but these visceral productions provided potent food for thought to audiences.

Born 1906 on a plantation near Natchez, Miss., Wright experienced hardship similar to his Bigger Thomas character, living with his illiterate father, teacher-trained mother, and strict grandmother, a former slave. After his father abandoned the family, Wright’s mother struggled with poverty. When his mother was stricken by paralysis, he was raised by an uncaring uncle and then shipped around between family members. Wright felt ignored and rebuffed by whites, while blacks warned him to conform and not rock the boat, leading him to accept whatever crumbs he was offered. Once he began reading at the age of 15, a rebel was born.

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