Archive for January, 2013
“My career has had a lot of ups and downs, but basically it has been wonderful.” ~ Jean Simmons
“If I hadn’t gone to dancing school, I would have married and had children like my mum and had a normal life.” ~ Jean Simmons
“Every actress has to face the facts there are younger, more beautiful girls right behind you. Once you’ve gone beyond the vanity of the business, you’ll take on the tough roles.” ~ Jean Simmons
“I didn’t even know what an Oscar was at the time.” ~ Jean Simmons on her first Academy Award Nomination in 1949
“Making “Spartacus” was enough acting to last anybody a lifetime. You know, after we had been filming a year Kirk Douglas sent me a magnum of champagne with a little note saying, “I hope our second year will be as happy as our first.” ~ Jean Simmons on making “Spartacus” (1960)
“I remember a long, long day of filming and it took forever to get Kirk Douglas up on his cross. We played a terrible joke on him when, as he was safely installed, the assistant director called lunch and left him up there. He could have had the lot of us fired but he was very good about it. You have to have a sense of humor in this industry.” ~ Jean Simmons on “Spartacus” (1960)
Dorothy Dell was an ill-fated actress whose star had just begun to rise in the early 1930’s when she died tragically in an automobile accident at the age of nineteen.
Dell was born Dorothy Dell Goff to Elbert and Lillan Goff on January 30, 1915 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. When Dell was thirteen months old she won the most beautiful baby in Hattiesburg beauty contest. She moved with her family to New Orleans, Louisiana, at age thirteen, where she attended the Sophie Wright High School for girls. In 1930 at the age of fifteen, Dell won the Miss New Orleans title, beating out seventy-four other contestants, including a pre-fame Dorothy Lamour, who would win the title the following year. The two would become the best of friends. Initially desiring to become a singer, Dell was discovered by composer Wesley Lord, and soon signed a radio contract. Dell received her first major press exposure later the same year when she won the Galveston, Texas International Pageant of Pulchritude with the judges and press declaring her “Miss Universe”. With this positive publicity Dell established a successful vaudeville act. After working on the vaudeville circuit for thirty-two weeks, she moved to New York in 1931. One night, Dell was singing at a benefit when she was heard by Florenz Ziegfeld who arranged for her to appear on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies. Dell followed this success with a role in the production of “Tattle Tales” in 1933.
Dell moved to Hollywood in December 1933 and was signed to a long term contract by Paramount Pictures. Initially contracted for bit parts, Dell won her first film role over such established stars as Mae Clarke and Isabel Jewell, making her Paramount debut in 1934 in “Wharf Angel” with Victor McLaglen. The film was a success and the reviews for Dell were favorable. Paramount began to consider Dell as a potential star and in her next film she had a substantial role in the Shirley Temple film “Little Miss Marker” (1934) which also starred Adolphe Menjou and Charles Bickford. She then starred in “Shoot the Works” (1934) and her rendition of the ballad “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming” in the film became a hit record and led to comparisons with Mae West. With her star on the rise, Paramount scheduled her to reunite with Shirley Temple and opposite Gary Cooper in “Now and Forever” (1934) in what was to have been Dell’s first major starring role as a romantic lead. It was not to be as fate tragically interceded.
On June 8, 1934, Dell went on a car ride to Pasadena with 38-year-old Dr. Carl Wagner, because he insisted that she take some time for relaxation between retakes of “Shoot the Works”, and to meet his mother, whom he wanted to show “how sweet a little movie star can be.” After meeting his mother, they went to an all-night party at an inn in Altadena, California. Afterward they were going back to Pasadena when the car left the highway, hit a telephone pole, bounced off a palm tree and hit a boulder. Dell was killed instantly. She was only nineteen years old. Wagner died six hours later in a hospital.
News of Dell’s unexpected death devastated six year old Shirley Temple, causing production of “Now and Forever” (1934) to be temporarily suspended until Shirley could overcome her grief enough to work. Dell’s role in the film was given to Carole Lombard and provided Lombard with one of her earliest significant successes.
Dell’s good friend Dorothy Lamour later credited Dell as the person responsible for the beginning of her own film career.
According to The Pittsburgh Press news release on June 9, 1934 entitled “Death Dogged Dorothy Dell”, Dell, during her life, had several encounters with near-death experiences. As a child, she narrowly escaped death when being attacked by a dog. The dog was killed by her father to save Dell’s life. In 1931, while at the Follies, she was invited to board a yacht for a party of Harry Richman. She declined, and the girl who took her place, died in an explosion on board. A few weeks later, she was critically injured following a car accident, and she was hospitalized for two months. Furthermore, she fell ill with influenza shortly after and broke a leg during a Follies performance.
Dorothy Dell was interred in Metairie Cemetery, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“I guess I am one of those rare exceptions because I had not planned on becoming an actress and never desired to be in motion pictures.” ~ Mary Murphy
Mary Murphy was an American film actress of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The beautiful blue-eyed Murphy was born on January 26, 1931, in Washington D.C. and spent most of her early childhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, James Victor Murphy, died in 1940. Shortly afterwards, she and her mother moved to Southern California. Murphy went on to attend University High School in the Los Angeles area, graduating in 1949. In 1951 she had a job wrapping packages at Saks Fifth Avenue department store in Beverly Hills when she was ‘discovered’ by a talent scout for Paramount, who signed her to a contract. Murphy stayed busy with in such movies such as the Bob Hope’s vehicles “The Lemon Drop Kid” (1951) and “My Favorite Spy” (1951), the sci-fi feature “When Worlds Collide” (1951), “Carrie” (1952), and “Houdini” (1953). Most of her roles were secondary bit parts, many of them uncredited. In 1953 Murphy won the female lead opposite relative newcomer Tommy Morton in the show business drama “Main Street to Broadway”. Both stars were somewhat dwarfed by the huge names, Tallulah Bankhead, Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, Shirley Booth, and Mary Martin, who co-starred with them and the film was not well received. Her next lead as a good hearted girl who tries to reform Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” (1953), was much more successful. Murphy more than held her own opposite Brando in the classic movie and drew great reviews. Unfortunately, this did not lead to huge stardom and bigger and better roles.
After “The Wild One”, Murphy did go on to give a good show of herself in movies such as “The Mad Magician” (1954), “Sitting Bull” (1954), “Beachhead” (1954) opposite Tony Curtis, “A Man Alone” (1955) and “Hell’s Island” (1955) with John Payne. Murphy also shone as Fredric March’s daughter in the thriller “The Desperate Hours” (1955) which also starred Humphrey Bogart and Martha Scott. After “The Desperate Hours”, her film career began to decline with roles in lesser movies such as “The Maverick Queen” (1956), “The Electronic Monster” (1958) and “Live Fast, Die Young” (1958), a lowbudget “Wild Ones”. After a leading role in “Crime & Punishment, USA” (1959) Murphy was absent from the big screen before appearing with Steve McQueen in the Sam Peckinpah film “Junior Bonner” in 1972.
When her film career began to wane in the mid to late 1950’s, Murphy turned to television. Over the next twenty years she stayed busy appearing in television series such as; “Wagon Train”, “The Detectives”, “The Tab Hunter Show”, “The Westerner”, “Perry Mason”, “I Spy”, “The Outer Limits”, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, and “Ironside” just to name a few. Her last appearance was in the television movie “Katherine” in 1975.
Mary Murphy was married twice. The first marriage was to actor Dale Robertson in June 1956. The marriage was short lived as it was annulled by Christmas of the same year.
In 1962 she married Alan Specht, a Los Angeles lighting fixture retailer. The union resulted in one child, a daughter. The couple divorced in 1967.
Mary Murphy died from heart failure on May 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. She was 80 years old.
“I did whatever I was told to do in Hollywood, but I never really enjoyed making movies like I did being in a show” ~ Dixie Dunbar
“I enjoyed my career but it was my mother who had all the ambition.” ~ Dixie Dunbar
Dixie Dunbar, at four feet eleven and one half inches tall was a beautiful, vivacious dancer, entertainer, and actress of 1930s Broadway and Hollywood musicals. Dunbar was born Christine Elizabeth Dunbar on January 18, 1918, in Montgomery, Alabama and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Nicknamed “Tootsie” by her mother, she took dancing lessions at an early age. Her mom took her to New York where her heavy Southern drawl had her quickly renamed “Dixie”. In New York Dunbar danced in big band orchestras, nightclubs and classy restaurants. She made her film debut at age 16 in George White’s “Scandals” in 1934. Also in 1934, Dunbar starred in the Broadway musical “Life Begins at 8:40” which also starred “Wizard of Oz” legends Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr. Twentieth Century-Fox signed her to a film contract where she appeared in both dancing and non-dancing roles such as: “Pigskin Parade” (1936), “Girls’ Dormitory” (1936), “Sing, Baby, Sing” (1936), “Life Begins in College” (1937), “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (1937), “One in a Million” (1937), “Walking Down Broadway” (1938), and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1938). Unhappy with movie making and the direction her career was heading, Dunbar retired from films and left Hollywood in 1939. She returned to New York and Broadway, appearing with Buddy Ebsen, Phil Silvers and Judy Canova in “Yokel Boy”. In the early forties she toured with a nightclub act but her career quickly fade. From 1949 to 1951 she was “seen” dancing in the now-famous television commercials ads that featured her totally covered head to hips by a giant Old Gold cigarette box only showing her dancing legs. After some brief TV work Dunbar retired from show business altogether.
Dixie Dunbar was married three times. The first time was to the co-director of the Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall, Gene Snyder, in 1940. They divorced in 1953. Her second marriage was in 1954 to Robert M. Herndon, an executive of Cinerama Corp. whom she met while appearing on TV. They remained married until his death a few years later. Dunbar then married Robert M. Herndon, a millionaire from Miami Beach. That marriage also ended in divorce. She had no children.
Dixie Dunbar died of heart failure on August 29, 1991, in Miami, Florida.