Archive for June, 2011
“I never thought of myself as a movie star. I’m just a working girl. A working girl who worked her way to the top… and never fell off.” ~ Susan Hayward
“I learned at a very early age that life is a battle. My family was poor, my neighborhood was poor. The only way that I could get away from the awfulness of life, at that time, was at the movies. There I decided that my big aim was to make money. And it was there that I became a very determined woman.” ~ Susan Hayward
“You aim at all the things you have been told that stardom means… the rich life, the applause, the parties cluttered with celebrities. Then you find that you have it all. And it is nothing, really nothing. It is like a drug that lasts just a few hours, a sleeping pill. When it wears off, you have to live without its help.” ~ Susan Hayward
“My life is fair game for anybody. I spent an unhappy penniless childhood in Brooklyn. I had to slug my way up in a town called Hollywood where people love to trample you to death. I don’t relax because I don’t know how. I don’t want to know how. Life is too short to relax.” ~ Susan Hayward
“When you’re dead, you’re dead. No one is going to remember me when I’m dead. Oh maybe a few friends will remember me affectionately. Being remembered isn’t the most important thing anyhow. It’s what you do when you are here that’s important.” ~ Susan Hayward
THEY LIVE AGAIN! DAUNTLESS MEN and WOMEN WHO KEPT AMERICA UNCONQUERED!
(original movie ad for “Unconquered”)
“Unconquered” (1947 – Paramount) is an adventure film produced and directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille and stars Gary Cooper, Paulette Goddard, Howard da Silva, and Boris Karlov. It is based on Neil Swanson’s “Unconquered”, a Novel of the Pontiac Conspiracy.
The story focuses on “Abby” Hale (Paulette Goddard), who is condemned to death by a British court, then offered clemency if she will become an indentured servant in America. She is bought and freed by militiaman Chris Holden (Gary Cooper). However, Martin Garth (Howard Da Silva), who is a supplier of illegal arms to the Indians, has other plans for Abby and manages to rebuy her. He takes Abby to the western frontier where she toils daily in a tavern as his servant. Chris rescues Abby and takes her in while Martin goads powerful Seneca Indian chief Guyasuta (Boris Karloff) to attack the colonists. Chris and Abby must contend with the warring Senecas, with Martin, and with their feelings for each other. They fight the wilderness surrounding them, escaping everything from Indian massacres and death-defying waterfalls to burning stakes and political ambush. Through it all DeMille manages to capture the determination of American colonists with his trademark air of spectacle and action-packed peril.
“The King’s Law moves with the king’s muskets, and there are very few King’s muskets west of the alleghenies.” – Martin Garth
“Sometimes the photographers would pose me in a low necked nightgown and tell me to bend down and pick up pails. They were not shooting the pails.” – Jane Russell
Jane Russell was born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell on June 21, 1921 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Russell’s father was a Lieutenant in the US Army and her mother was a former actress in a road troupe. After her father was mustered from the army her parents moved to Canada. When Jane Russell was due to be born, her mother moved back to Minnesota temporarily to ensure that she would be born in the United States and be a U.S. citizen. Later the family moved to The San Fernando Valley of California. After high school Russell worked as a receptionist, did some modeling, and studied drama and acting with Max Reinhardt’s Theatrical Workshop. Discovered by Howard Hughes in 1940, she signed a seven year contract and made her screen debute in 1943 in “The Outlaw”. The film was actually finished in 1941, but wasn’t released until 1943, (then only a limited release) because of not being able to pass the censorship of the production code due to the ample cleavage Howard Hughes had Russell expose in the film. It wasn’t until 1946 that the film was fully released and was instantly a smash hit. During that time Hughes had Russell on a constant publicity tour to promote the movie and herself. The photo of her in a low cut blouse sitting in a hay stack became a popular pin-up poster for servicemen during WWII. She went on to make several more movies, starring with acting greats such as Bob Hope in “The Paleface” (1948), twice with Robert Mitchum in “His Kind Of Woman” (1951) and “Macao” (1952), Frank Sinatra and Grouco Marx in “Double Dynamite” (1951), Victor Mature and Vincent Price in “The Las Vegas Story” (1952), and Clark Gable in “The Tall Men” (1955).
Jane Russell’s most famous role was probably in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1955) with Marilyn Monroe. Russell went on to only make a handful of films the next few years and despite her early success never reached “A” status as an actor. Most of this is blamed on movie makers like Howard Hughes who were more interested in showing off her ample figure in movies than letting her acting and comedic talent shine through.
Jane Russell was married three times. Her first marriage was to Bob Waterfield in 1943, a successful American football player, with whom she formed a production company. They remained married for twenty-five years until they divorced in 1968. A brief marriage to actor Roger Barrett ended with his early death in the same year as her divorce from Waterfield. Real estate broker John Calvin Peoples, her last husband whom she married in 1974, died in 1999. Unable to have children of her own, Jane Russell and her first husband Bob Waterfield adopted three children. In 1955 she founded World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), an organization to place children with adoptive families and which pioneered adoptions from foreign countries by Americans. Through the World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), Russell has placed 51,000 children with adoptive families.
Even though Jane Russell was known as a sexy starlet and pin-up model, she was an avid Christian. At the height of her career Russell started the “Hollywood Christian Group” a weekly bible study held in her home for christians in the film industry, which was attended by some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
Jane Russell died Feb.28, 2011 at her home in Santa Maria, California from a respiratory related illness. She is survived by her three adopted children, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
For her film achievements, Jane Russell’s hand and foot prints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard.
“I’ve been told I have an Irish temper, I know I have Scottish thrift, and, like the English, I love a good show.” ~ Jeanette MacDonald
Jeanette MacDonald was born on June 18, 1903 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. MacDonald was an American singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier: “Love Me Tonight” (1932), “The Merry Widow” (1934) and with Nelson Eddy: “Naughty Marietta” (1935), “Rose-Marie” (1936), and “Maytime” (1937). During the 1930s and 1940s she starred in 29 feature films, four nominated for Best Picture Oscars: “The Love Parade” (1929), “One Hour with You” (1932), “Naughty Marietta” (1935) and “San Francisco” (1936). Jeanette MacDonald also recorded extensively, recording more than 90 songs during her career, working exclusively for RCA-Victor in the United States. She earned three gold records, one for an LP album that she did with Nelson Eddy in 1957. MacDonald appeared in musical theatre, grand opera, and television later in her career. She became one of the most influential sopranos of the 20th century, introducing grand opera to movie-going audiences and inspiring a generation of singers.
MacDonald had several serious romances in her life. The first was wealthy NYU student Jack Ohmeis, whom she dated from 1922 until 1927. They became engaged in 1926 but his family objected to his marrying an actress. MacDonald next dated Irving Stone from around 1926-1928; they apparently met when she was touring in Chicago in “Yes, Yes, Yvette”. Stone, who lived in Milwaukee, was the nephew of the founder of the Boston Store and worked in the family business. In 1928 Robert George Ritchie became MacDonald’s manager and fiance. They were together until 1935 and presumed by many to be married. MacDonald dared anyone to prove it. The MacDonald-Ritchie romance began to sour when MacDonald became friendly with Nelson Eddy in late 1933. In January 1934 the trades announced they would be co-starring in “Naughty Marietta”. They dated on and off throughout 1934 but after MacDonald’s 1935 Hawaii trip, Eddy became more persistent in his marriage proposals. The problem was that Eddy wanted her to retire and raise their children; MacDonald preferred to put her career first. They fought constantly over this and broke up in early June 1935. Later that month, MacDonald met the actor Gene Raymond at a party and began dating him. Raymond resembled Nelson Eddy and the two men were sometimes mistaken for each other when seen publicly with MacDonald. During the summer 1935, MacDonald rekindled the relationship with Eddy when they began filming “Rose Marie”. MacDonald later called it “the happiest summer of my life”. While on location at Lake Tahoe, they became secretly engaged. Supposedly MacDonald became pregnant and was ordered by MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer to have an abortion. Eddy did not believe her when she claimed to have miscarried, and he broke off the engagement. On June 16, 1937 MacDonald married Gene Raymond in a traditional ceremony at Wilshire Methodist Church in Los Angeles. They remained married until MacDonald’s death.
Jeanette MacDonald suffered heart ailments in her later years and after an arterial transplant in 1963, died of a heart attack in Houston on January 14, 1965. She was interred on January 18, 1965 in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California which reads Jeanette MacDonald Raymond. Hysterical crowds listened to recordings of “Ah, Sweet Mystery” at her Forest Lawn funeral.
Ona Munson was an American leading and supporting actress in 1930s and 40s Hollywood, her background included both vaudeville and the Broadway musical stage.
Munson was born Owena Wolcott on June 16, 1903 in Portland, Oregon. She first came to fame on Broadway as the singing and dancing ingenue in the original production of “No, No, Nanette”. From this, she had a very successful stage and radio career in 1930s in New York. She introduced the song “You’re the Cream in My Coffee” in the 1927 Broadway musical “Hold Everything”. Munson’s first movie starring role was in a Warner Brothers talkie called “Going Wild” (1930). She then appeared the next year in a musical comedy “Hot Heiress” (1931) in which she sings several songs along with her co-star Ben Lyon. She also starred in “Broadminded” (1931) and “Five Star Final” (1931).
Munson briefly retired from the screen, only to return in 1938. She is probably best remembered for her role as the prostitute ‘Belle Watling’ in “Gone With The Wind” (1939). Another memorable role was as the madame ‘Mother Gin Sling’ in the “The Shanghai Gesture” (1941). Munson made a few more movies over the next few years including “Drums Of The Congo” (1942) and “The Cheaters” (1945). She retired from film in 1947.
Ona Munson was married three times, to actor and director Edward Buzzell in 1927, to Stewart McDonald in 1941, and designer Eugene Berman in 1949. In 1955, plagued by ill health, she committed suicide at the age of 51 with an overdose of barbiturates in her apartment in New York. A note found next to her deathbed read, “This is the only way I know to be free again…Please don’t follow me.”
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Ona Munson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6211 Hollywood Boulevard.