Archive for July, 2011

Alice Terry

Alice Terry, born Alice Frances Taaffe in Vincennes, Indiana on July 29, 1899 was an American film actress who began her career during the silent film era, appearing in thirty-nine films between 1916 and 1933.

Alice Terry

 Terry made her film debut in 1916 in “Not My Sister”, opposite Bessie Barriscale and William Desmond Taylor. That same year, she played several different characters in the 1916 anti-war film “Civilization”, co-directed by Thomas H. Ince and Reginald Barker. In 1917, she met director Rex Ingram and in 1921 they were married during production of “The Prisoner of Zenda” which he directed and in which she appeared as Princess Flavia. The couple sneaked away over one weekend, were married in Pasadena, and returned to work promptly the following Monday. It was also in 1921 that Terry would gain great acclaim as Marguerite in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (1921) directed by Ingram and starring Rudolph Valentino. She would continue to play the heroine in films directed by her husband, such as “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1922) and “Scaramouche” (1923). In 1924, Metro would merge into the new MGM and both Ingram and Terry would go to there. There, she would make the “The Great Divide” (1924) with Wallace Beery and  would be directed by Ingram in “The Arab” (1924), which was filmed in North Africa and owed much to the influence of screen idol Rudolph Valentino. Alice would get her chance to play the wicked woman in “Mare Nostrum” (1926) which was also directed by Ingram. Filmed in Italy and Spain, this film was both a critical and financial success. Ingram would make his third independent film in Italy when he directed Terry in “The Garden of Allah” (1927). Later that year, Alice would be reunited with Ramon Navarro in “Lovers” (1927). When sound came to the screen Terry and Ingram both retired, making their last film together in 1933, “Baroud”.

Alice Terry and Rudolph Valentino in "The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse" (1921)

Alice Terry and Rex Ingram would remain married until his death in 1950. After Ingram’s death, Terry became romantically involved with actor Gerald Fielding, who bore a strong physical resemblance to her late husband. They were lovers until his death, at the age of forty-six, in 1956.

Alice Terry with husband Rex Ingram

Alice Terry died on December 22, 1987 in Burbank, California of natural causes. She was interred in the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Alice Terry has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6628 Hollywood Blvd.

Alice Terry - 1923

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Clara Bow – A Pictorial

 

“We had individuality. We did as we pleased. We stayed up late. We dressed the way we wanted. I used to whiz down Sunset Boulevard in my open Kissel, with several red Chow dogs to match my hair. Today, they’re sensible and end up with better health. But we had more fun.” ~ Clara Bow

 

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

 

“Even now I can’t trust life. It did too many awful things to me as a kid.” ~ Clara Bow

 

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

 

“The more I see of men, the more I like dogs.” ~ Clara Bow

 

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

 

“A sex symbol is a heavy load to carry when one is tired, hurt and bewildered.” ~ Clara Bow

 

Clara Bow - 1931 pub shot for Paramont

Clara Bow – 1931 pub shot for Paramont

 

“I ain’t real sure.” ~ Clara Bow, when asked what “It” was.

 

Clara Bow with Victor Fleming

Clara Bow with Victor Fleming

 

“Of all the men I’ve known, there was a man.” ~ Clara Bow on director Victor Fleming.

 

Clara Bow sitting on a 1919 Moon in 1926

Clara Bow sitting on a 1919 Moon in 1926

 

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Night and Day: Cary Grant and Alexis Smith

"Night and Day" (1946 - Warner Bros)

 

 

“Night and Day” is a 1946 Technicolor Warner Bros. biographical film about American composer and songwriter Cole Porter. The movie was directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Arthur Schwartz, with Jack L. Warner as executive producer. The screenplay was written by Charles Hoffman, Leo Townsend and William Bowers. The music score by Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner was nominated for an Academy Award. The film features over twenty of the best-known Porter songs, including the title song, “Night and Day”, “Begin the Beguine” and Mary Martin’s great rendition of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”. Cary Grant stars as Cole Porter and Alexis Smith plays Linda Lee Porter, Porter’s wife of 35 years. Monty Woolley and Mary Martin appear as themselves, and the rest of the cast includes Jane Wyman, Eve Arden, Alan Hale, Dorothy Malone, Donald Woods, and Ginny Simms.

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Mary Martin performs “My Heart Belongs To Daddy” from “Night and Day” (1946)

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“Night and Day” is a highly fictionalized and sanitized version of Cole Porter’s life, leaving out amongst other things his homosexuality, he was a gay man in a marriage of convenience with a divorcee friend Linda Lee Thomas, Monty Wooley was a contemporary not a Professor, and many writers are skeptical of the extent of his military experience in the French Foreign Legion. The movie was panned by critics but the film was a huge success, chiefly because of the wealth of vintage Porter songs.

Alexis Smith and Cary Grant – “Night and Day” (1946)
Selena Royle and Cary Grant – “Night and Day” (1946)

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Lupe Valez: “The Mexican Spitfire”

 

“The first time you buy a house you think how pretty it is and sign the check. The second time you look to see if the basement has termites. It’s the same with men.” ~ Lupe Velez

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Lupe Velez

Lupe Velez was a Mexican film actress who had a very successful career in early Hollywood. She was born Maria Guadalupe Villalobos Velez on July 18, 1908 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, the daughter of an army officer (Jacobo Villalobos Reyes) and his wife (Josefina Velez), an opera singer, both from prominent families in the state of San Luis Potosi. In 1924 Velez began her career in Mexico as a dancer making her performing debut at the Teatro Principal in Mexico City where she wowed her audiences with her grace and beauty. She moved to California, where she met the comedienne Fanny Brice, who promoted her career as a dancer. In 1926 she was cast in her film by Hal Roach, a Laurel and Hardy silent short called “Sailors, Beware!”. Velez’s first feature-length film was “The Gaucho” (1927) starring Douglas Fairbanks. The next year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars, the young starlets deemed to be most promising for movie stardom. Most of her early films cast her in exotic or ethnic roles (Hispanic, Native American, French, Russian, even Asian). She worked under the direction of notable film directors like Victor Fleming in “The Wolf Song” (1929) opposite Gary Cooper, D.W Griffith in “Lady of the Pavements” (1928), Tod Browning in “Where East is East” opposite Lon Chaney and Cecil B. de Mille in “The Squaw Man” in 1931. Next, Velez found her niche in comedies, playing beautiful but volatile foils to comedy stars. Her slapstick battle with Laurel and Hardy in “Hollywood Party” (1934) and her dynamic performace opposite Jimmy Durante in “Palooka” (1934) were typical enthusiastic Velez performances. She was featured in the final Wheeler & Woolsey comedy, “High Flyers” (1937), doing impersonations of Simone Simon, Dolores del Rio, and Shirley Temple.

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Lupe Velez

 

 

In 1934, Velez became one of the victims of the “witch hunt” of communists in Hollywood. With Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and James Cagney, she was accused of promoting communism in California. Disappointed, she left Hollywood for Broadway. In New York, she landed a role in “You Never Know”, a short-lived Cole Porter musical. After the run of “You Never Know”, Velez looked for film work in other countries. Returning to Hollywood in 1939, she was able to land the lead in a B comedy for RKO Radio Pictures, “The Girl from Mexico”. She established such chemistry with co-star Leon Errol that RKO made a quick sequel, “Mexican Spitfire”, which became a very popular series with seven “Mexican Spitfire” movies made from 1939 to 1943. The Spitfire films rejuvenated her career, and for the next few years she starred in musical and comedy features for RKO, Universal Pictures, and Columbia Pictures in addition to the Spitfire films. Velez was very popular with Spanish-speaking audiences. In 1943, she returned to Mexico and starred in the movies “La Zandunga” (1938), and an adaptation of Émile Zola’s novel “Nana” (1944), which were both successful.

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Lupe Velez - "Mexican Spitfire" (1940)

 

 

Lupe Velez was a popular movie star but was just as well known for her stormy love affairs including a particularly emotionally one with Gary Cooper. In 1933 she married Johnny Weismuller in 1933. The marriage with Weissmuller lasted five years, they repeatedly split and finally divorced in 1938. However, her love affair with Gary Cooper lasted until her death. In the mid-1940s, she had a relationship with the young actor Harald Maresch, and became pregnant with his child. Unable to face the shame of giving birth to an illegitimate child, on December 14, 1944 at age 36, in Beverly Hills, California, she decided to take her own life. Her alleged suicide note read, “To Harald: May God forgive you and forgive me, too, but I prefer to take my life away and our baby’s, before I bring him with shame, or killing him. Lupe.” She retired to bed after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. According to newspaper accounts, her body was found by her secretary and companion of ten years, Beulah Kinder, on her bed surrounded by flowers. Lupe Velez was laid to rest in the Civil Cemetery of Sorrows (Panteon Civil de Dolores), in the Tacubaya section of Mexico City, in a walled section within the itself walled cemetery, reserved for artists and administered by the (Mexico) National Association of Actors.

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Lupe Velez

 

Despite the suicide note, there is some controversy surrounding the reason for Velez’s suicide. Throughout her life she showed signs of extreme emotion, mania and depression. Consequently, it has been suggested that Velez suffered from bipolar disorder, which, left untreated, ultimately led to her suicide. Rosa Linda Fregoso,  an award winning author and professor and former Chair of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, writes that Velez was known for her defiance of contemporary moral convention, and it seems unlikely that she could not have reconciled an “illegitimate child”.
Other reliable accounts say Gary Cooper, with whom Lupe had had a romantic relationship for years up until her death, was the father of her unborn child, either making her alleged suicide note bogus, or Maresch merely a scapegoat.

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Jane Frazee

“I wasn’t bad looking, but I was never a beautiful girl, and in those days you had to look great. I had a drive to do better things than I was doing, but not that great inner drive that every successful people have.” ~ Jane Frazee

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Jane Frazee

Mary Jane Frehse, known as Jane Frazee, was an American actress, singer, and dancer. Born on July 18, 1918 in Duluth Minnesota she became a professional entertainer at the age of six when Jane and her sister Ruth Frazee started a vaudeville act and appeared in nightclubs and on radio. They journeyed to Hollywood, but the act broke up when Ruth failed her screen tests and Jane passed hers. Jane was quite attractive with a pleasant singing voice and landed a leading role in the B film “Melody and Moonlight” (1940), the first of four “Moonlight..” musicals the young actress made for Universal Pictures. Under contract to the studio, she appeared in numerous musical films, including, most notably, “Buck Privates”, the high-grossing 1941 World War II comedy starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Jane also frequently performed in Westerns, both in movies and on television, working with genre stars like Roy Rogers, Charles Starrett, Guinn Williams, Clayton Moore, Jock Mahoney, and Gene Autry. The actress ended her Hollywood career after appearing as “Alice McDoakes” in several Joe McDoakes one reel short subjects between 1954 and 1956. After retiring from acting, Jane started a successful real estate business. All told Franzee had 65 titles to her credit in film and television.

Jane Frazee with Roy Rogers and Andy Devine in "Under California Stars" (1948)

In 1942, Frazee married silent film actor and director Glenn Tryon. The marriage lasted five years and produced one son, Timothy. Jane Frazee died from complications from a stroke on September 6, 1985 in Newport Beach, California.

Jane Frazee

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