Archive for May, 2011
Barbara Pepper was born Marion Pepper in New York City on May 31, 1915. By age 16, against her parent’s wishes, she changed her name to Barbara and landed a show girl role in Florenz Ziegfeld’s Follies. There she met Lucille Ball and the two became lifelong friends. Barbara soon began work in radio and film, mainly in bit parts. Her first role was as a extra playing a slave girl, along with Lucille Ball, in “Roman Scandals” (1933). She had choice roles in a couple movies, “Our Daily Bread” (1934) and opposite Bert Wheeler as his love interest in “Mummy’s Boys” (1936). But stardom evaded her and she remained mostly in secondary roles. In 1943 Barbara married Craig Reynolds and gave birth to two sons over the next few years. In 1949, her husband Craig was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. By all accounts she was devastated. Overwhelmed with the death of her husband and the prospect of having to raise two sons by herself, Pepper became depressed and developed a chronic drinking problem. The once blue eyed platinum blonde stunner went downhill, her voice and looks became bloated and coarse and she could only muster small parts on film and television. Her friend Lucile Ball stepped in to help, giving Pepper several small roles on her show “I Love Lucy” from 1952-55. Pepper also appeared occasionally on Jack Benny’s show and also on the “Perry Mason” (1957 – 1963) series, playing small but colorful characters.
In the 60’s, she landed minor roles in a couple Jerry Lewis’s slapstick comedies. Pepper also had spots on several television series, including “Wagon Train”, “Petticoat Junction”, and “The Wide Country” among others. In 1965, she landed the role of Doris Ziffel, ‘mother’ of the television watching pig named ‘Arnold” on “Green Acres”. She recieved decent reviews and was fun as the cranky unkept Doris. But her health began to deteriorate rapidly and she was forced to give up her part in the show during the 1968-69 season. During her career, Barbara Pepper had roles in over 160 movies and television shows.
Barbara Pepper died on July 18, 1969, in Panorama City, California, aged 54, from a coronary thrombosis.
Patricia Ellis was born Patricia Leftwich on May 20, 1916 in Birmingham, Alabama. By her early teens, Patricia had left school and began a stage career. While appearing on stage in New York City, she was given a film test and signed a contract with Warner Brothers in 1932. After a couple uncredited film appearances she was one of fourteen girls chosen as WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1932. Ginger Rogers, Mary Carlisle, and Gloria Stuart were also chosen that year, Patricia Ellis at age 16 was the youngest. Ellis’s first credited role was in the 1933 film, “The King’s Vacation”, starring George Arliss and Marjorie Gateson. After that film, she stayed busy, starring mostly in lower budget B-movies, but still working steadily. She called herself the ‘Queen of B-Movies’. Ellis would have roles in eight films in 1933, including costarring with James Cagney in “Picture Snatcher”. She averaged seven movies in each of the three following years, 1934, 1935, and 1936. By 1937, Ellis’ career was at it’s peak, starring alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including James Cagney, Ricardo Cortez, and Bela Lugosi. Problem was, all of these movies were second rate features. Over the next three years her film career began to slow down and she would retire from films in 1939 to appear on Broadway in “Louisiana Purchase”.
In 1940 Patricia Ellis married George T. O’Malley, a successful business man from Kansas City, Missouri. She left Hollywood and Broadway behind as she settled into raising a family in Kansas City. Ellis remained married to O’Malley for the rest of her life. Patricia Ellis died from cancer, aged 53, on March 26, 1970, in Kansas City.
“I would like people to remember me as someone who was good at his job and seemed to mean what he said.” ~ James Stewart
Stewart loved to recount in self-mockery his marriage proposal to Gloria: “I, I, I pitched the big question to her last night and to my surprise she, she, she said yes!”. ~ James Stewart
“I have my own rules and adhere to them. The rule is simple but inflexible. A James Stewart picture must have two vital ingredients. It will be clean and it will involve the triumph of the underdog over the bully.” ~ James Stewart
“Mr. Hitchcock did not say actors are cattle. He said they should be treated like cattle.” ~ James Stewart
“If a western is a good western, it gives you a sense of that world and some of the qualities those men had; their comradeship, loyalty, and physical courage.” ~ James Stewart
“As someone who believed in hard work and love of country, love of family and love of community.” ~ James Stewart when asked how he wants to be remembered.
“I’m going to be with Gloria now.” ~ James Stewart (His last words)
“When you’re up there on that film, you are that person completely all the time. You think the way that person thinks, you do what that person does and you’re not acting. You’re actually living it.” – Billie Dove
Billie Dove was born Lillian Bohny on May 14, 1903 in New York City, New York to Swiss parents Charles and Bertha Bohny who emigrated to New York City before she was born. She was educated in private schools in Manhattan. By the time she was fifteen she was helping to support the family by working both as a photographer and model. Already known for her beauty and sensuality, Florenz Ziegfeld hired her to appear in his follies when she was in her mid teens. Although she wasn’t a very good singer or dancer, she was soon given solo entrances in his shows and also appeared as one of Ziegfeld’s beauties in his sideshows, the ‘Midnight Frolics’ and ‘Nine O’Clock Revues’. Dove also recieved a part as a dancing replacement in Ziegfeld’s Broadway Show “Sally” in 1921. After becoming suspicious of a budding affair between Billie Dove and Ziegfeld, Billie Burke (Ziegfeld’s wife) arranged for the beautiful young starlet to appear in films in Hollywood. Dove made her Hollywood debut in the 1921 movie “Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford”. The camera and audiences fell in love with her and she immediately starred in her second film, “At The Stage Door” (1921).
From there she went on to co-star with some of Hollywood’s most popular leading men over the next few years, including John Gilbert, Warner Baxter, Lon Chaney, and Douglas Fairbanks. Under the direction of legendary female director Lois Weber, Dove starred in “The Marriage Claus” (1926) and “Sensation Seekers” (1927). Both of these movies were considered to be two of Dove’s best. She was nicknamed ‘The American Beauty’ after starring in the movie of the same name, “The American Beauty” in 1927. By the time she starred in the silent classic adventure “The Black Pirate” (1926) opposite Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Billie Dove was as popular and famous a star as Mary Pickford and Clara Bow.
During this time Dove had married Irvin Willat in 1923, who was a director of several of the movies she starred in. They divorced in 1929 and Dove became involved with the young eccentric multi-millionare Howard Hughes. The affair lasted three years and Dove and Hughes were actually engaged to be married when she broke off the affair in 1932. While they were together she appeared in two of Hughes movies, “The Age For Love” (1931) and “Cock Of The Air” (1932). After making “Blondie Of The Follies” in 1932 which starred Marion Davies, Dove became discouraged and dismayed when much of her role in the film was ‘trimmed’ and ‘re-done’ due to the urging of the highly influential William Randolph Hearst who was Davies lover at the time.
“Blondie Of The Follies” turned out to be her last film as she retired from the screen and in 1933 married Robert Kenaston, a rancher, oil executive, and real estate broker. They had one son, Robert Alan, and adopted a daughter, Gail. After thirty-seven years of marriage they divorced in 1970. A third marriage to architect John Miller also ended in divorce after only a few months. Other than a small uncredited part in the movie “Diamond Head” (1963) starring Charlton Heston, Dove never returned to the screen. She died of pneumonia on December 31, 1997 in Woodland Hills, California at the age of 94. Billie Dove has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6351 Hollywood Blvd.
A Pictorial of Billie Dove set to music.
“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around wondering about yourself.” ~ Katharine Hepburn
“Life can be wildly tragic at times, and I’ve had my share. But whatever happens to you, you have to keep a slightly comic attitude. In the final analysis, you have got not to forget to laugh.” ~ Katharine Hepburn
“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, only with what you are expecting to give, which is everything.” ~ Katharine Hepburn
“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done, as long as I enjoyed it at the time.” ~ Katharine Hepburn
“I often wonder whether men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” ~ Katharine Hepburn
“I find a woman`s point of view much grander and finer than a man’s.” ~ Katharine Hepburn
“I’m a personality as well as an actress. Show me an actress who isn’t a personality, and you’ll show me a woman who isn’t a star.” ~ Katharine Hepburn