Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Mon Randall, Caricaturist

 

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Frank Mayo as drawn by Mon Randall.


In the world of popular culture, everything is about the sell. Photos, posters, graphics, all becomes a means of ballyhoo in attempts to lure consumers to purchase or view product. In the early decades of the twentieth century, master showmen employed artists to design striking advertising key art to lure audiences into theatres, be it posters on the street or alluring advertisements in magazines.

While some of these artists gained widespread recognition, like Batiste Madalena, Henry Clive, James Montgomery Flagg, or John Held, many toiled in obscurity though they too were creating eye-catching designs. Mon Randall drew gorgeous ads, heralds, and even title art in the style of old masters, but never gained great fame for his work.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Betty Grable Was Just Adorable

Betty Grable

Betty Grable in an undated publicity shot.


Betty Grable’s one of those people—a long list—I’d love to write a book about, but can’t. Her daughters were really nice, but said “we just don’t want to go through all that again,” having dealt with some pretty sleazy writers. I totally understand and told them I wouldn’t bother them again, but of course any book I’d do without them would be half-assed, and I like my books to be fully assed.

But I do adore Betty. She was one of the top song-and-dance gals of her generation; she could sing like Dinah Shore, dance like Ginger Rogers, and she was considerably cuter than a bug’s ear. She was no great shakes as a dramatic actress, but she knew it and put a halt to it after two serious films (the main thing I love about I Wake Up Screaming is the ads, which read “I Wake Up Screaming with Betty Grable!”).

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘Crazylegs’ Salutes Elroy Hirsch and the Los Angeles Rams

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An image of Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, scanned from a negative listed on EBay at $24.99.


Los Angeles is currently experiencing the second coming of its professional football team, the Los Angeles Rams, who first arrived in town in 1946 and also played at Memorial Coliseum. The team achieved some special firsts: such as being the first to be televised as well as the first to play themselves onscreen in the 1953 film “Crazylegs,” based on the life of its talented receiver/running back, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch.

From 1949-1957, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch excelled as one of the team’s top offensive players, earning All-Pro status in the National Football League for his top receiving/running skills. A potent ground gaining weapon, Hirsch’s odd twisted running style gained him his nickname. Hirsch’s remarkable background led writer/director Hall Bartlett to create a film about him, one that featured the team as well as its historic playing field, the Coliseum, a longtime film location.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

 

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This week’s mystery movie has been the 1947 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Nightmare Alley,” with Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker, Taylor Holmes, Mike Mazurki and Ian Keith. It was written Jules Furthman from the novel by William Lindsay Gresham, with music by Cyril Mockridge, photography by Lee Garmes, art direction by Lyle Wheeler and J. Russell Spencer, wardrobe direction by Charles LeMaire and costumes by Bonnie Cashin. It was produced by George Jessel and directed by Edmund Goulding.

It is available on DVD from Amazon.

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Black Dahlia Halloween Costumes: The Annual Warning

Dahlia Halloween

Halloween is quickly approaching, which means the internet is brimming with photos of young women practicing their “Chelsea Smile” makeup and otherwise showing off their talent in dressing up like a brutally murdered woman. Regardless of what you may think, this does no honor to Elizabeth Short.

Oct. 19, 2016, Dahlia Halloween

Rethink your choices. Really.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Why Jayne Mansfield Really Was Divoon

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Cary Grant and Jayne Mansfield in a still from “Kiss Them for Me,” listed on EBay at $8.99.


If Jayne Mansfield had died in 1957 instead of 1967, she’d be remembered as one of the most talented and promising actresses of her generation. In 1956 and ’57, she gave two sharp, smart comic performances (The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?) and a quiet, touching dramatic performance in The Wayward Bus. Then it all went straight to hell, starting with the unwatchable Dumpster fire of Kiss Them for Me. Fox is really foxy about not letting its movies get onto YouTube, so I will have to present you with the official trailer for Rock Hunter:

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

 

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This week’s mystery movie has been the 1928 MGM film “The Wind,” starring Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love, Dorothy Cumming, Edward Earle, William Orlamond, Carmencita Johnson, Laon Ramon and Billy Kent Schaefer, with a screenplay by Frances Marion adapted from the novel by Dorothy Scarborough. It was directed by Victor Seastrom.

It is available on DVD from Amazon Spain.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: 4418 Vineland Ave., Yesterday and Today, Part 2

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4418 Vineland Ave. in an undated photo, courtesy of Mary Mallory.


 


T
wo years can bring changes in life, whether to a person or building, and not always for the better. I wrote about the history of 4418 Vineland Ave. in May 2014, pointing out that the building had opened as a medical office complex in 1947 and had remained as such through 2014.

Photographs demonstrated how it still remained a building of integrity, looking much the same as it had more than 60 years ago. What appeared to be original brick facade had been plastered over and decorative detailing over the windows had been removed, though the original windows appeared to remain.

4418 Vineland Ave., Yesterday and Today, Part 1.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Annie-Pie

Ann Miller

A publicity photo of Ann Miller, listed on EBay for $28.88.

My friend Donna hates Ann Miller—hates her—so I apologize to Donna in advance for this piece. But I love Annie. She was bright and glittery and silly and unlike the accomplished and talented dancers Cyd Charisse and Eleanor Powell, Ann seemed to be having fun when she tapped—Cyd and Eleanor seemed more like straight-A students dutifully showing off for final exams.

I interviewed Ann Miller once, and she was just as daffy and off-the-wall as in her films, but she was sharp as a tack, too, when it came to analyzing her career and her sometimes rocky life.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Oct. 15, 2016, Journey Into Fear

This week’s mystery movie has been the curious 1943 RKO film “Journey Into Fear,” with a screenplay by Joseph Cotten from the novel by Eric Ambler. The movie starred Joseph Cotten, Dolores Del Rio and Ruth Warrick, with Agnes Moorhead, Jack Durant, Everett Sloane, Eustace Wyatt, Frank Readick, Edgar Barrier, Jack Moss, Stefan Schnabel, Hans Conried, Robert Meltzer, Richard Bennett and Orson Welles. The music was by Roy Webb, photography by Karl Struss and art direction by Albert S. D’Agostino and Mark-Lee Kirk. The movie was directed by Norman Foster.

The movie is available from Amazon UK in an all-region DVD. It is also available from Amazon in a Region 2 DVD.

It is also on Archive.org.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — Max Munn Autrey, Texas Stillman

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Max Munn Autrey, from Pictures and Picturegoer, August 1925


“In Hollywood, photographers spring into fame overnight. They are, for a time, a fad—and only become recognized as established worth when they prove that their ideas are not limited. All an ambitious camera artist needs to start him off on the road to fame and fortune is to display two or three portraits of big stars and if he has obtained something of beauty in photographing them, he is made. The fact, alone that a star admired his work enough to pose for him, is recommendation, and soon the other stars follow. When the picture trade is established, the photographer expands his business proportionately, and sets his prices. The more famous photographers have been known to charge as much as $350 for 12 prints of a single portrait.”

— Walter Irwin Moses, Pictures and Picturegoer, August 1925

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Max Munn Autrey’s portrait of Jane Winton, for sale on EBay listed at $199.95.


Note: This is an encore post from 2014.


T
exan Max Munn Autrey sauntered into the world of Hollywood still photography in the 1920s, a journeymen cameraman looking to settle down. He found his niche in portraiture, helping devise mystique and sensuousness in star portraits.

Born June 24, 1891, in Hamilton, Texas, Autrey moved around the state taking photographs as an adult. He was employed by P.T. Collier & Son in Dallas, per his World War I registration papers. In 1918, he married his wife, Bonnie, in her hometown of Tyler. They lived in Burleson in 1920, but soon decided to move to California.

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

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Well, Here Is the Damndest Film You’ll Ever See

 

'Tomato Is Another Day'
“Cigarette Life!” A deathless line from “Tomato Is Another Day.”


I offer for your bewilderment Tomato Is Another Day (1930), seven of the weirdest minutes ever committed to film. It was never widely shown (for obvious reasons) and was only rediscovered in the wonderful age of cable, DVDs and YouTube. And no one knows what the hell to make of it.

 

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘I’m Just Wild About Animal Crackers’ Heats Up Promotions

I'm Just Wild About Animal Crackers

The sheet music for “I’m Just Wild About Animal Crackers,” courtesy of Mary Mallory.



P
opular culture, be it music, the written word, or mass entertainment, so often unintentionally defines a time and place in history, revealing so much about a society’s values, beliefs, and actions. Just seeing or hearing something produced for wide enjoyment can conjure up a vision of the world in which it was created, something often never consciously intended by its makers.

Such was the case in the 1920s, a decade of jazz-mad, devil-may-care flappers and sheiks enjoying life to the fullest after the devastation and despair caused by the Great War and its aftermath. Leaving behind a more stolid and serious world view, carefree young people threw themselves wholeheartedly into life, enjoying everything from feverish dancing to petting parties, booze-filled festivities to flagpole sitting. Fads like playing miniature golf, bridge, mah jongg, etc. boomed.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

'I See a Dark Stranger'

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1946 film “I See a Dark Stranger,” with Deborah Kerr, Trevor Howard, Raymond Huntley, Michael Howard, Norman Shelley, Brenda Bruce, Brefni O’Rorke, James Harcourt, Liam Redmond and W. O’Gorman, by Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Wolfgang Wilhelm. The film was written and produced by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat. Production design by David Rawnsley, photographed by Wilkie Cooper, art direction by Norman Arnold and edited by Thelma Myers. Music by William Alwyn, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Muir Mathieson. Directed by Frank Launder.

Bosley Crowther, reviewing the film for the New York Times (April 4, 1947) said:

That talent for richly combining melodrama and comedy, which writers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat so delightfully displayed in their scripts for Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes” and Carol Reed’s “Night Train,” has been deftly applied by those gentlemen to the writing, production and direction of their own film, a British honey entitled “The Adventuress,” which opened at the Victoria yesterday. Since that is a recommendation quite sufficient for lots of folks, we wouldn’t blame you for dropping this paper right now and rushing down to get a seat.”

Grace Kingsley, reviewing the film for the Los Angeles Times (Dec. 26, 1947) said:

Important chiefly because of the outstanding talents and beauty of Heroine Deborah Kerr, J. Arthur Rank’s English production, “The Adventuress,” which opened yesterday at the Esquire Theater, is nevertheless sufficiently exciting to hold any spectator. Perhaps, ironically, the film’s chief fault is to be found in too many close-ups of the star, which at times seem to halt the story action.

“I See a Dark Stranger” is available on DVD from Amazon for $13.90.
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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Do not Get Me Started With Marion Davies and Orson Welles

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“American Heiress” via Amazon.com.


Rush out and get Jeffrey Toobin’s new book about the Patty Hearst kidnapping, American Heiress. It’s really one of the best-written, best-researched books I’ve read lately, and is actually laugh-out-loud funny at points. I am quite old enough to remember how obsessed we all were by the case—it was like John Waters directed It Happened One Night (a madcap heiress kidnapped by The Filthiest People Alive).

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated) + + + +

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This week’s mystery movie has been the 1958 film “Equinox Flower.” Original story by Ton Santomi, screenplay by Yasujiro Ozu and Kogo Noda, produced by Shuzuo Yamauchi, cinematography by Yuharu Atsuta, music by Kojun Saito. Directed by Ozu.

Vincent Canby of the New York Times said (May 27, 1977):

“Equinox Flower”—a particularly inscrutable title even for this great Japanese director—is one of Ozu’s least dark comedies, which is not to say that it’s carefree, but, rather, that it’s gentle and amused in the way that it acknowledges time’s passage, the changing of values and the adjustments that must be made between generations.

The movie is available on DVD through Amazon.com.

 

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Barney Oldfield Sets Up Shop in Downtown Los Angeles

 

Oldfield & Kipper

A postcard showing the interior of Barney Oldfield’s saloon on South Spring Street, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

 



‘M
ile a minute” Barney Oldfield, the first automobile racer to achieve that feat while racing, was quick when it came to promotions bearing his name as well. Like many famous celebrities, actors, and sports stars before and after him, he quickly realized he could turn his fame into cash. Oldfield promoted various products throughout his life like Firestone Tires and the Fisher Auto Co., but for a brief time, operated a saloon under his name in downtown Los Angeles.

Born Berna Eli Oldfield in 1878, daredevil Barney Oldfield first found his outlet for speed racing bicycles. His car racing career began in 1902 when fledgling automobile designer Henry Ford hired him to race his model 999 car. With little to no experience, Oldfield fearlessly took the lead and won the race against more experienced competitors.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Voices: Curtis Hanson

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In honor of Curtis Hanson, who died yesterday at the age of 71, here is a recording I made of him on May 23, 2007, with Eva Marie Saint and Patricia Hitchcock before a showing of “North by Northwest” by the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats.

Curtis Hanson, Eva Marie Saint and Patricia Hitchcock on “North by Northwest.”

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Because You Can’t Have Too Much Lupe Velez

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Lon Chaney and Lupe Velez in a still from “Where East Is East,” listed on EBay with bids starting at $35.


For my money, Lupe Velez has it all over Garbo—she was just as beautiful, and not only a great dramatic and comedic actress, but she could sing and dance like nobody’s business. Sadly, after a great start out of the gate, Lupe found herself typed as “the sexy funny-accent girl,” like Carmen Miranda, Lyda Roberti, the Gabors, Fifi D’Orsay, and today’s Sofia Vergara. We all know of her sad ending: unmarried, pregnant and Catholic, she killed herself in 1944, aged 38 (and no, she did not drown in her toilet—gawd, Kenneth Anger has a lot to answer for).

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

 

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This week’s mystery movie has been the 1952 MGM picture “The Devil Makes Three,” with Gene Kelly, Pier Angeli, Richard Rober, Richard Egan, Claus Clausen, Wilfried Seyferth, Margot Hielscher and Annie Rosar. The screenplay was by Jerry Davis, based on a story (“Autobahn”) by Lawrence Bachmann.  Photography was by Vaclav Vich, art direction by Fritz Maurischat and Paul Markwitz, musical direction by Rudolph G. Kopp, and songs by Bronislau Kaper and Jupp Schmitz. it was directed by Andrew Marton.

It is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $15.49.

“My Man and I,” with Ricardo Montalban and Shelley Winters, which was on the original double bill, is also available from Warner Archive for $15.49.

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