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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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 →

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 →

The Best Oldies to Watch When You Need Cheering Up

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Are there any movies you like to watch when you’re feeling happy, sad, bored, etc.? For me, it’s rarely my emotions that determine the movie I watch, although sometimes the time of year or even the weather can play a part. I mean, who doesn’t love to watch a good mystery when it’s storming outside?! Well, I do anyway! :-)

But when Frances stopped by my Facebook page and suggested I create a list of the best oldies to watch when you need cheering up, I thought it was a great idea. Even though I don’t usually pick a movie for that reason, I figured it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a few titles handy just in case I’m ever in need of some good cheer myself.

So after going through the list of all the classic movies that I have seen so far, I came up with the following movies that I think would put a smile on just about anyone’s face. (To learn more about each movie, click on the title which will bring you to its summary page on IMBd.com)

Laughter is the Best Medicine – Classic Comedies

It Happened One Night Hitchhiking Scene

It Happened One Night (1934) One of the first classic movies I ever watched, the hitchhiking scene with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert showed me early on that old movies can be just as laugh out loud funny as current movies. I never would have believed that before I discovered my love for classic film.

The Thin Man (1934) and the entire “Thin Man” series. This movie is just so much fun. I love the mix of comedy and mystery, and the wonderful chemistry between its two stars William Powell and Myrna Loy make them one of classic film’s greatest on-screen couples. Continue reading →

Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon: Ball of Fire (1941)

Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve

This post is my contribution to the Barbara Stanwyck blogathon hosted by Aubyn at The Girl With the White Parasol.

Ask a classic movie fan, “What was your favorite year or the best year for movies?” and I’m guessing that more often than not you’d hear “1939” as the answer. At least that seems to be the case based on numerous discussions I’ve heard over the years. While there were definitely some great movies made that year, there is a year that stands out to me even more, 1941.

I’m not sure if I can definitively call it my favorite, but I’ve watched more movies from that year than any other in the classic era, and a few of my all time favorites were made that year including Sullivan’s Travels and The Lady Eve, the latter starring the actress being honored in this blogathon, Barbara Stanwyck.

Add to those the acclaimed classics Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, and another Barbara Stanwyck great, Meet John Doe, and I’d say it was one heck of a year for movies. And now I have a new favorite to add to that list, Ball of Fire, a movie that like Meet John Doe, starred Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper. Continue reading →