Honoring the Legacy of Paul Newman on the Anniversary of His Birth

Paul Newman

If he were still alive, Paul Newman would have turned 90 years old today. As a way to honor his memory on the date of his birth, I thought I’d tell the story of how he went from being just another famous name I heard of while growing up to now being one of my favorite actors. I will also share with you a way that you can join his daughter Clea in honoring his legacy through something that Paul Newman was well known for – giving back.

Paul Newman is one of those names I heard quite often in my pre-old movie loving days but didn’t really know much about because I hadn’t seen any of his movies. Well, except for The Towering Inferno (1974) when I was very young, but I think I was too disturbed by that movie as a little girl to even give much thought as to who was in it. It’s interesting now to realize that I was watching some of my future favorites; Fred Astaire, William Holden and Paul Newman, and I had no idea they’d become a big part of my love for old movies many years down the road.

Whenever I heard the name Paul Newman, I would usually associate it with his blue eyes or maybe with Robert Redford because of the two movies they made together and their shared reputation as heartthrobs, but that was about it. Even after I became a huge fan of old movies, I didn’t watch much of his work because I preferred black and white movies from the ’30s and ’40s, and his film career did not begin until 1954. Continue reading »

John Wayne and the Monday Morning Football Blues

Football Field

When I woke up this morning, I was really hoping yesterday evening didn’t actually happen, but alas it did and today I have what I would call the Monday morning football blues.

If you happen to follow professional football, all you need to know is that I am a lifelong, diehard Green Bay Packers fan and that should tell you what kind of mood I’m in today. Frankly, I’m just super bummed out.

If you don’t follow football, I’ll just say that if not for an epic and stunning collapse at the end of the NFC Championship game yesterday, I’d be watching my team in the Super Bowl two weeks from now, but now I’ll probably be far away from the tv that day. Patriots vs. Seahawks, yuck!

Famous Actors Who Played Football

Anyway, as I was nervously awaiting the start of the game yesterday, I got the idea to research whether there were any old movie stars who played football either professionally or in college. I already knew about some of the more current actors who had played football of some kind like Mark Harmon, Dean Cain and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but I didn’t know if there was anyone from the classic era. Continue reading »

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Christmas Traditions: Lionel Barrymore as Ebenezer Scrooge

A Christmas Carol 1938

A couple weeks ago I had the great opportunity to see two classic Christmas movies on the big screen thanks to the wonderful people at Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events. Many theaters throughout the country were showing a double feature of A Christmas Carol (1938) and Christmas in Connecticut (1945), and thankfully one of my local theaters was participating, a treat that doesn’t happen too often in my small’ish community.

Last time I was able to see an old movie on the big screen was when I made a 5 1/2 hour round trip drive to see Vertigo (1958) when the Landmark Theatres chain was showing it in select cities a year or two ago. Is that dedication to my passion for old movies or what? :-) Thankfully this time, my drive was only 10 minutes each way. Not bad!

Ben Mankiewicz from Turner Classic Movies introduced both of the movies in the Christmas double feature, and in his introduction to A Christmas Carol, I learned something new (thanks Ben!) – that before the much loved Charles Dickens classic came to the screen, Lionel Barrymore performed the role of Ebenezer Scrooge on a radio version of the story. He first performed it in 1934, making this year the 80th anniversary of its debut, and listening to the subsequent years’ broadcasts with Barrymore reprising his role became an annual tradition for families across America.

A special performance was aired live on Christmas Eve in 1939 as part of the CBS Campbell Playhouse radio program. Narrated by Orson Welles, the program also featured music which was composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann. You can listen to a recording of that 1939 broadcast including all the original commercials at the Internet Archive website.

A Christmas Carol 1984

And speaking of annual traditions, I have one of my own that I started many years ago that fittingly includes viewing A Christmas Carol every Christmas Eve night. However, the one I watch is the one from 1984 starring George C. Scott. My tenth grade English teacher shared her affinity for that version with us in class, and it has been my favorite ever since. As much as I love old movies, it still beats out the 1938 and 1951 versions for me even though I enjoy both of those as well.

My tradition has been to watch two Christmas themed episodes of Little House on the Prairie and then A Christmas Carol (1984) with all the lights off in my house except for those on my Christmas tree. I’ve missed very few years since I started, and I plan on doing it once again tonight. I can’t wait!

If you and/or your family will be partaking in a special holiday tradition this year, I hope you enjoy it as much as I will mine! I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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My Classic Christmas Entertainment Alphabet

My Christmas tree is finally up! Which for me means one thing . .  I’m finally ready to start watching Christmas movies and television shows, one of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season!

To kick things off, I thought I’d do a quick and fun post to share just a few of my favorite things from the world of classic Christmas entertainment. Much like I did with my cinematic alphabet a few years ago, I chose one item for each letter of the alphabet, all of which in some way represent my favorite movies, television shows, and songs.

Following are just a few of my favorite things associated with classic Christmas entertainment:

A - Alfred Kralik – Jimmy Stewart’s character in The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

B - The Bishop’s Wife (1947) starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven (I love all three of them!)

C - Christmas in Connecticut (1945) and A Christmas Carol (1938) – I’m so excited that I get to see them on the big screen this Sunday! Check out the details here and see if they will be playing in your area.

D - Desk Set (1957) starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy – I wish my tree at home could look like this, but I think my cat would try to eat the tinsel. :-)

E - Elf (2003) – Not from the classic era, but I just love this movie, and it does contain a rendition of the classic song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” originally written in 1944.

F - Fonzie – the main focus of one of my favorite Christmas television episodes, “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas” from Season 2 of the show Happy Days

G - George C. Scott’s performance in the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol, my absolute favorite version of that movie. I think Scott’s performance is brilliant and the movie is perfection!

H - Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank – First airing in 1957, it is a must see episode from the tv series The Frank Sinatra Show, which you can read more about at Christmas TV History.

I - It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – I know, a somewhat unoriginal choice, but as someone who adores Jimmy Stewart I just can’t leave this classic off my list.

J - “Jingle Bells” as sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters. They recorded the song together in 1943 and it sold over a million copies.

K - Kris Kringle – the character played by the delightful Edmund Gwenn in the equally delightful movie, Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

L - Linus sharing the true meaning of Christmas in A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – as a person of strong faith, I just love the sweet way he recites the story of the birth of Jesus.

M - “Mistletoe and Holly” – a song written and recorded in 1957 by one of my favorite entertainers of all time, Frank Sinatra

N - Natalie Wood’s wonderful performance in Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

O - “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “O Holy Night” – three of my most favorite Christmas carols all just happen to start with the same letter.

P - Polly Parrish – Ginger Rogers’ character in Bachelor Mother (1939) and Debbie Reynolds’ character in that movie’s remake Bundle of Joy (1956)

Q - I tried and tried and tried, but could not think of anything Christmas related that starts with or even contains the letter Q. If you know of anything, let me know! :-)

R - “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” as sung by Gene Autry – my mom loved Gene Autry and his version of the song is one I’ve loved since I was a little girl.

S - “Silver Bells” when it was introduced in the movie The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) and sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell

T - The Thin Man (1934) – not necessarily known as a Christmas movie, but it does contain some Christmas scenes and I couldn’t pass up the chance to include this awesome movie in my list.

U - “Up on the Housetop” as sung by Eddy Arnold – it’s not necessarily a favorite anymore as an adult, but it’s one of those songs that brings back good memories from childhood.

V - Virginia Dale who played Lila Dixon in one of my all time favorite classic holiday movies, Holiday Inn (1942) which I had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen last year.

W - White Christmas, both the 1954 movie starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and the song made famous by Bing Crosby, which was featured in the movie Holiday Inn (1942)

X - Francis X. O’Leary – The defense attorney who defended Barbara Stanwyck’s character in the movie Remember the Night (1940) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray

Y - You’ve Got Mail (1998) – a very good adaptation of one of my favorite classic Christmas movies, The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Z - S.Z. Sakall who played the character of Felix in Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

What are some of your favorites? Choose as many letters as you would like and let me know in the comments below!

Wishing you all a happy holiday season! :-)

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Sharing a Love of Animals with Classic Movie Stars

Quincy WrigleyIt’s so hard for me to believe that it’s been one month already since I had to say goodbye to my beautiful baby girl Wrigley, the gray and peach cat in the picture, and on the same day also found out my baby boy Quincy, the handsome orange and white cat, has incurable cancer.  To say the last few months have been tough for me is an understatement to say the least.

Spending quality time with Wrigley as she neared the end of her life and subsequently grieving her loss and Quincy’s diagnosis are big reasons why I haven’t posted on my blog in over two months (yikes!). Throughout August and September, Wrigley spent many hours sitting on my lap as I watched lots of fun summer themed movies and also indulged in my new found love of Paul Newman and his films. I’m so thankful I had that time with her.

For some reason for the first few weeks after she was gone though, I just had absolutely no interest in watching old movies. I admit I spent a lot of time numbing myself in front of the tv watching The Voice, episodes of The Office on DVD, and the ultimate therapy for me . . . football! But thankfully I am starting to feel like myself again and my desire to watch old movies and get back into blogging is finally coming back. I hope to start watching more movies and get back to posting here regularly soon. Continue reading »

Saturday State Post with a Twist: Classic Movie Actors from Europe/Asia

A list that doesn’t include Cary Grant, no matter the topic, just doesn’t seem right to me. So in this week’s Saturday State Post I’ll be mixing things up a little by venturing outside of the United States and into Europe and Asia. There are sooo many great actors and actresses including Cary Grant who were born in other countries that it only seemed fair to “bend the rules” a little bit and include them in my “state’ series.

A few of the actors and actresses from Europe and Asia are:

Claude Rains

Claude Rains

Born:  November 10, 1889 in Camberwell, London, England

Died:  May 30, 1967 (age 77)

Married six times

Known for the Movies:  Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Four Daughters, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Now Voyager, Casablanca, Mr. Skeffington, Notorious, Lawrence of Arabia

My Favorite Claude Rains Movie:  Casablanca

 
 
Interesting Facts About Claude Rains:

  • He once had a very serious Cockney accent and a speech impediment, which were corrected with the help of elocution lessons paid for by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, founder of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Rains later served as a teacher there before coming to Hollywood, with Laurence Olivier being his best known student.
  • He was one of Bette Davis’ favorite actors (she had great taste!), and they made four films together; Jaurez (1939) Now Voyager (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Deception (1946).
  • Unlike many Hollywood actors, he is not buried in Hollywood but in New Hampshire, a state in which he lived for a brief time. He is buried at Red Hill Cemetery in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. You can read more about his burial place and see a few cool pictures including his headstone on J.W.’s blog Odd Things I’ve Seen. I would love to go visit the site myself someday.

Charles Boyer Continue reading »