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

FH030002

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 →

My Top 10 Favorite Classic Movie Actors

Jimmy-Stewart

I’m spending this summer day inside due to the unseasonably cool and cloudy weather we’re having here, so I thought this would be a good time to follow up my top 10 favorite actresses list with the list of my favorite actors.

As promised, Jimmy Stewart is firmly planted in the top spot. :-) And as with my actresses list, after number one these are not necessarily in an exact order because I love them all so much, but it’s pretty close.

My top 10 favorite classic movie actors are:

  1. Jimmy Stewart
  2. Cary Grant
  3. James Cagney
  4. Gene Kelly
  5. Joseph Cotten
  6. William Powell
  7. Robert Taylor
  8. Claude Rains
  9. Tyrone Power
  10. Clark Gable

Honorable mention: Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy. I didn’t do an honorable mention for actresses, but I just had to for actors. Leaving Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy off my list almost felt like a crime, but I simply ran out of spots. :-)

Who is your favorite classic movie actor? Your top 10?

Signature

Saturday State Post: Classic Movie Actors from Nebraska

This week’s actors by state post features a state that much like Wisconsin, which started the idea for this series, is not a state that I would typically think of when I think of Hollywood actors. But when I looked up the names of actors and actresses from the state of Nebraska, I was very surprised and impressed by the number of stars that have come from the state. In fact it may be hard to top the collective caliber of acting that can be found in this group, which includes four actors from Omaha, Nebraska.

A few of the actors and actresses on this impressive list of movie stars from the state of Nebraska are:

Fred Astaire

Born: May 10, 1899 in Omaha, NE

Died: June 22, 1987 (age 88)

Married twice. His first marriage to his wife of over 20 years, Phyllis, ended with her death in 1954.

Known for the Movies: The Gay Divorcee, Top Hat, Swing Time, Holiday Inn, Easter Parade, Funny Face

My Favorite Fred Astaire movie:  Holiday Inn Continue reading →

Robert Taylor & Vivien Leigh: The Beauty of Waterloo Bridge

Every once in a while I’ll see a clip from a movie that makes me want to rush out to find the movie so I can watch it right away. I can’t remember where I first saw it, but all it took for me to really want to watch the movie Waterloo Bridge (1940) was to see a stunning scene where the stars of the movie, Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh, were dancing a waltz to the song “Auld Lang Syne” in a candle lit restaurant.

Thankfully I was able to find the movie at my local library and watch it last night. In my opinion, Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor were two of the most beautiful movie stars to ever grace the screen, and along with the beautiful Academy Award winning cinematography throughout the movie and a moving storyline, this was a very enjoyable movie to watch. I’ve seen several other Robert Taylor movies, but I forgot just how handsome he was until I started watching Waterloo Bridge. If Robert Taylor were still alive, he would be celebrating his 100th birthday in August of this year so I have to ask, is it weird that I found myself developing a crush on him as if he were a current heartthrob? :-) Continue reading →