A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steele-True 1907-1940

Actress Barbara StanwyckBarbara Stanwyck is my second favorite actress behind only Bette Davis, and as I’ve had the tendency to do with many of the classic movie actors and actresses that I love, I created an image in my mind of what I thought she was like in her personal life based on how I saw her in some of her movies. I even once compared her to comfort food in a review I did of her movie No Man of Her Own to convey the feeling of warmth and familiarity I got when watching her movies. Ah, the silly things I said as a new blogger!

Even though I knew some of the facts about her often times difficult life, reading Victoria Wilson’s book “A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940” was still a bit of an eye opener for me, because I realized that in many ways Barbara was much different from the image I had created in my mind. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, and it probably even made the book a more interesting and intriguing read.

Wilson spent close to 15 years doing research for the book, which she wrote with the full cooperation of Stanwyck’s family and friends. She utilized more than two-hundred interviews with actors, directors, cameramen, screenwriters, and costume designers as well as letters, journals, and private papers to create a very comprehensive look into the life and career of one of Hollywood’s most beloved actresses. And at over 1,000 pages (860 pages of text), the book only covers the first part of her career! Which means there’s much more great insight to come in a second volume. Continue reading »

Remembering the Multi-Talented Actor & Humanitarian Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye in White Christmas (1954)

Every once in a while it will dawn on me that I barely know anything about a certain actor or actress even though I’ve heard their name a million times and probably should be more familiar with them.

That happened to me again recently, this time in regard to actor Danny Kaye. All I really knew about him was that he starred in the movie White Christmas (1954), which is the only movie of his that I had seen up until this week. I don’t know why, but I always hate having to admit that about someone, even though it certainly wasn’t intentional!

After reading a blog post by speaker Barry Bradford titled Unexpected Movie Teams, I set out to watch the movie On the Riviera (1951), which starred Danny Kaye and Gene Tierney. It was in part because I figured it was about time I got to know more about Danny Kaye, but it really had more to do with the fact that I am a big fan of Gene Tierney.

I can’t say that the movie as a whole left that much of an impression on me, but Danny Kaye’s versatile performance and the things I learned about him while watching the DVD’s special feature called “A Portrait of Danny Kaye,” caused me to gain a new found respect and admiration for him. I had no idea he was such an interesting, multi-faceted person who certainly lived up to the quote below! Continue reading »

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Saturday State Post: Classic Movie Actors from the Carolinas

This week’s Saturday State Post highlights actors and actresses from both North and South Carolina. I am combining both in one post, not because I think they aren’t worthy of being covered individually, but I just simply could not find enough familiar names from South Carolina to fill a separate post.

A few of the actors and actresses from North and South Carolina are:

Actress Esther Dale

Esther Dale

Born: November 10, 1885 in Beaufort, SC

Died: July 23, 1961 (age 75)

Married Once

Known for the Movies: Curly Top, Fury, The Awful Truth, The Mortal Storm, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Holiday Affair, The Egg and I, Monkey Business

My Favorite Esther Dale Movie: The Awful Truth

 

Interesting Facts About Esther Dale:

  • Before she became an actress, she studied music in Berlin, Germany and had a career as a lieder singer. The Encyclopedia Britannica can explain what that means better than I can. :-)
  • She appeared in three of the nine Ma and Pa Kettle films that were made following the success of the The Egg and I (1947), the movie in which the characters first appeared.

Actor Barton MacLaine

Barton MacLaine

Born: December 25, 1902 in Columbia, SC

Died: January 1, 1969  (age 66)

Married twice. He was married to his second wife Charlotte Wynters for 30 years.

Known for the Movies: High Sierra, Come Live With Me, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Glenn Miller Story

My Favorite Barton MacLaine Movie: The Glenn Miller Story Continue reading »

Rest in Peace Shirley Temple Black

Shirley Temple

My heart is heavy today after learning of the passing of beloved film star, Shirley Temple Black. I’ve had a special affinity for Shirley ever since I first saw her in the movie Bright Eyes (1934) and fell in love with her sparkle and talent. I’ve enjoyed so many of her movies over the years including my ten favorites, which I wrote about a few years ago.

When I think of Shirley’s movies and some of my favorite scenes, the one that always seems to stand out and will forever be special to me was the song and dance routine she performed with co-star Buddy Ebsen, set to the song “At the Codfish Ball” in the movie Captain January (1936).

 

My thoughts and prayers go out to Shirley’s family and friends on this very sad day. Rest in peace, Shirley. Thank you for all the joy you brought to me and your many fans.

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Edgewater Beach Hotel Chicago: A Magnet for Hollywood Celebrities

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I have a fascination with hotels that started at a very young age. Growing up, we didn’t have the money to take expensive trips to places like Disneyland, but my sisters and I were perfectly happy going on smaller trips to places nearby. Often times we would just stay at a hotel to enjoy all its amenities, which for us kids meant mostly the swimming pool!

I grew to love staying in hotels during our trips, and my favorite hotel which we stayed at several times was the Leilani Hotel in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Sadly it is no longer there and it’s hard to find information about it, but I did find an article that shows an illustrated picture of the hotel’s layout, which was quite unique. The article mentions that Frank Sinatra may have even entertained there at one time, which would have been cool to see.

Anyway, to this day I love staying in hotels, looking at pictures of hotels, and reading about hotels old and new. So when I read an article about the former Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago and found out it had strong ties to the classic film community, I was intrigued!

I immediately headed to eBay to see if I could find a postcard of the hotel, which I love to do on occasion when the inspiration strikes. I purchased the following postcard, which shows an actual picture of the hotel, but there were many illustrated postcards that I thought were really cool and would like to buy someday.

Edgewater Beach Hotel Chicago

In researching the history of the hotel, I discovered that it was once an extremely popular destination for classic movie stars, which I never would have guessed about a hotel in Chicago, far from the bright lights of Hollywood. The more I read about it, the more I wish I were alive when it was in its heydey, just like I do when I hear about the Copa Room in the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Well, it did still exist for a few decades after I was born, but the exciting days of the Rat Pack performing there were over.

Here are few facts about the history of The Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago:

  • Built in 1916 and designed by famed architects Benjamin H. Marshall and Charles E. Fox, the hotel was built in the form of a Maltese Cross so that as many rooms as possible would have a view of Lake Michigan.
  • The hotel boasted a 1,200 foot private beach where guests could sunbathe during the day and dance at night. It also had its own barbershop, beauty parlor, drugstore, liquor store, photographer’s studio, and gift shop along with many other amenities. Continue reading »
Fun Ways to Learn About the History of Fashion in Film

Grace Kelly Jimmy Stewart

If you’re like me and you like to learn about your favorite topics in a variety of ways such as reading blogs or articles, listening to audio recordings, or watching videos, and you are also interested in the topic of fashion in film, then I have some great resources to share with you.

I’ve been following the blog GlamAmor for a while now, and have really admired both the incredible knowledge and style of its creator, fashion expert Kimberly Truhler. Kimberly has been studying film and costume design history for more than 20 years and along with being a teacher and frequent guest presenter around Southern California, has acted as an expert for Turner Classic Movies and Elle Canada among others.

She has a real passion for preserving the history of fashion in film, sharing how costume design from the past continues to influence fashion today, and making sure the costume designers receive the credit they deserve for their important contributions to the world of fashion. Be sure to check out her blog if you’d like to learn more about these fascinating topics.

She is also currently in the process of conducting a 6-part webinar series called The Style Essentials: History of Fashion in Film, which is an online version of a course she teaches. Each webinar covers a different decade in film from the 1920s through the 1970s, and includes stills from movies and images from today’s fashion accompanied by discussions about film history, costumes, and their designers. Continue reading »