Archive for January, 2013

Silver Screen Sirens: Katy Jurado

 

Katy Jurado 1950

Katy Jurado 1950

Katy Jurado, born María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García on January 16, 1924 in Mexico City, was a Mexican actress who had a successful film career both in Mexico and in Hollywood. Jurado had already established herself as an actress in Mexico in the 1940s when she came to Hollywood, becoming a regular in Western films of the 1950s and 1960s. She worked with many Hollywood legends, including Gary Cooper in “High Noon” (1952), Spencer Tracy in “Broken Lance” (1954), and Marlon Brando in “One-Eyed Jacks” (1961), and such respected directors as Fred Zinnemann (High Noon), Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) and John Huston (Under the Volcano). Jurado made seventy-one films during her career. She became the first Latin American actress nominated for an Academy Award, as Best Supporting Actress for her work in 1954’s Broken Lance, and was the first to win a Golden Globe Award. Like many Latin actors, she was typecast to play ethnic roles in American films. By contrast, she had a greater variety of roles in Mexican films. Jurado was one of very few Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Others are Dolores del Río, Lupe Vélez, and Salma Hayek. Jurado died of kidney failure and pulmonary disease on July 5, 2002, at the age of 78, at her home in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. She was buried in Cuernavaca, Mexico, at the Panteón de la Páz cemetery.

 

Katy Jurado

Katy Jurado

 

Katy Jurado and Marlon Brando at an Awards ceremony. ca.1955

Katy Jurado and Marlon Brando at an Awards ceremony. ca.1955

 

Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, Gary Cooper, and Grace Kelly from "High Noon" (1952)

Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, Gary Cooper, and Grace Kelly from “High Noon” (1952)

 

Alan Ladd, Katy Jurado, and Ernest Borgnine on the set of "The Badlanders" (1958)

Alan Ladd, Katy Jurado, and Ernest Borgnine on the set of “The Badlanders” (1958)

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Anita Louise

 

Anita Louise was an American film and television actress. Louise had delicate features and blonde hair, with an ageless grace which saw her through thirty years before the motion picture cameras, beginning as a child actress before becoming a featured player and leading lady during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

 

Anita Louise

Anita Louise

 

Anita Louise was born Anita Louise Fremault on January 9, 1915 in Manhattan, New York. Using the name Louise Fremault, she made her acting debut on Broadway at the age of six appearing with Walter Hampden in the Broadway production of “Peter Ibbetson” and was soon appearing regularly in Hollywood films. Louise made her first credited screen debut at the age of nine in the film “The Sixth Commandment” (1924). In 1929, Louise dropped her “Fremault” surname, billing herself by her first and second names only, Anita Louise. By her late teens she was being cast in leading and supporting roles in major productions. Among her film successes were “Madame Du Barry” (1934), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1935), “The Story of Louis Pasteur” (1936), “Anthony Adverse” (1936), “Marie Antoinette” (1938), “The Sisters” (1938), and “The Little Princess” (1939). Louise complained that her looks often interfered with her chances to obtain serious roles. By the 1940s, she was reduced to mostly secondary roles and her film career started to slow. Some of her films during this time were “Casanova Brown” (1944), “Nine Girls” (1944), “Love Letters” (1945), “The Bandit of Sherwood Forest” (1946), “Blondie’s Big Moment” (1947), and “Bulldog Drummond at Bay” (1947). Her last appearance on the big screen was in the 1952 war film “Retreat, Hell!”.

 

Anita Louise 1931

Anita Louise 1931


 

With the advent of television in the 1950s Louise was provided with further opportunities to continue her acting career. In what was one of her most famous and widely seen roles, Louise was cast as the gentle mother, Nell McLaughlin, in the CBS television series “My Friend Flicka” from 1956–1957, with co-stars Johnny Washbrook, Gene Evans, and Frank Ferguson. Louise was also the substitute host of “The Loretta Young Show” (1953) when Loretta Young was recuperating from surgery. Other shows Anita hosted included “Theater of Time” (1957) and “Spotlight Playhouse” (1958). Her last television appearance was in 1970 in an episode of “The Mod Squad”.

 

Anita Louise and Shirley Temple in "The Little Princess" (1939)

Anita Louise and Shirley Temple in “The Little Princess” (1939)


 

Anita Louise was married twice. The first time was to film producer Buddy Adler in 1940. The couple had two children and remained married until his death in 1960.
In 1962, Louise married Henry Berger and they were together until her death in 1970.

 

Anita Louise with her poodle - 1946

Anita Louise with her poodle – 1946

 

Anita Louise died of a stroke on April 25, 1970, aged 55, in West Los Angeles, California. Louise was interred next to her first husband Buddy Adler at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

 

Anita Louise and Olivia de Havilland (1937)

Anita Louise and Olivia de Havilland (1937)

 

Anita Louise has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of her contribution to Motion Pictures at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.

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ZaSu Pitts

 

ZaSu Pitts was an American actress who starred in many silent dramas and comedies, transitioning to comedy sound films. She was a classic comedienne with timid, forlorn blue eyes and a trademark woebegone vocal pattern with fidgety hands. Not a classic beauty as many of the contemporary actresses of  her day, but Pitts made a very successful career out of her ‘unglamorous looks’ and wallflower tendencies in dozens of screwball comedies. Said Pitts of her career, “I was what they called a feature player, never a star. They say I was in 500 films, everything but the newsreels.”

 

ZaSu Pitts

ZaSu Pitts

ZaSu Pitts was born on January 3, 1894 in Parsons, Kansas, to Rulandus and Nellie Pitts. Her father, who had lost a leg while serving in the 76th New York Infantry Regiment in the Civil War, had settled the family in Kansas by the time ZaSu was born. In 1903, when she was nine years old, the family moved to Santa Cruz, California, seeking a warmer climate and better job opportunities. Her childhood home at 208 Lincoln Street still stands. She attended Santa Cruz High School, where despite her excessively shy demeanor she participated in school theatricals and made her stage debut in 1914–15 doing school and local community theater in Santa Cruz, California. In 1916 Pitts moved to Los Angeles spent many months asking studio casting offices for work as a film extra. In 1917, Pioneer screenwriter Frances Marion cast Pitts in a substantial role as an orphaned slavey (child of work) in the silent film, “The Little Princess”, starring Mary Pickford. Pitts grew in popularity following a series of Universal one-reeler comedies and earned her first feature-length lead in King Vidor’s “Better Times” (1919). The following year she met and married actor Tom Gallery. The couple paired in several films, including “Bright Eyes” (1921), “Heart of Twenty” (1920), “Patsy” (1921) and “A Daughter of Luxury” (1922). In 1924, already known as a comedy farceuse, Pitts was given the greatest tragic role of her career in Erich von Stroheim’s epic masterpiece “Greed” (1924). The surprise casting initially shocked Hollywood, but showed that Pitts could draw tears with her doleful demeanor as well as laughs. Based on her performance, von Stroheim labeled Pitts “the greatest dramatic actress”. The original film was 9 1/2 hours in length but was extensively edited prior to release, with the final theatrical cut at just over two hours. “Greed” failed initially at the box office. The film has since been restored to over four hours and has grown tremendously in reputation over time and is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made.

 

ZaSu Pitts with Gibson Gowland in "Greed" (1924)

ZaSu Pitts with Gibson Gowland in “Greed” (1924)

 

Throughout the mid to late 20’s Pitts continued to star in comedy shorts and features such as “Monte Carlo” (1926), “Casey at the Bat” (1927), “The Dummy” (1929) and “No, No, Nanette” (1930), but also earned good reviews in heavy dramas such as “Sins of the Fathers” (1928), “The Wedding March” (1928), and “War Nurse” (1930). One bitter and huge disappointment for Pitts was when she was replaced in the classic war drama “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) after her initial appearance in previews drew unintentional laughs, despite the intensity of her acting. She was replaced by Beryl Mercer and all her scenes were cut from the final production. Overcoming her disappointment Pitts continued to shine in many comedies. Her stock persona as a fretful, flustered, worrisome spinster made her instantly recognizable and was often imitated in cartoons and other films. She had viewers rolling in the aisles in “Finn and Hattie” (1931), “The Guardsman” (1931), “Blondie of the Follies” (1932), “Sing and Like It” (1934) and “Ruggles of Red Gap” (1935). She also excelled in her comedy partnerships with the stunning blonde comedienne Thelma Todd in short films and with the gangly comedian ‘Slim Summerville’ in features. Pitts also played secondary comedic roles in many films. Also among Pitts many roles of note during this time were “The Affair of Susan” (1935), “Mad Holiday” (1936), “Sing Me A Song” (1936), “Wanted” (1937), “Forty Naughty Girls” (1937), “Naughty But Nice” (1939), and in the same role she had ten years earlier as Pauline Hastings in a 1940 remake of “No, No, Nanatte”.

 

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd in "On The Loose" (1931)

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd in “On The Loose” (1931)

 

During the 1940’s, Pitts continued play comedic roles in such fare as “Mexican Spitfire’s Baby” (1941) and “Mexican Spitfire at Sea” (1942) which starred Lupe Valez and were part of the very successful ‘Mexican Spitfire’ film series. Pitts also had a secondary role in the Oscar nominated “Life with Father” (1947) with William Powel, Irene Dunne, and Elizabeth Taylor. Pitts also found work in vaudeville and on radio, trading quivery banter with Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, and Rudy Vallee, among others. She appeared several times on the earliest Fibber McGee and Molly show, playing a dizzy dame constantly looking for a husband. In 1944 Pitts tackled Broadway, making her debut in the mystery, “Ramshackle Inn”. The play, written expressly for her, fared well, and she took the show on the road in later years. In the 1950’s Pitts started focusing more on TV. This resulted in her best known series role, playing second banana to Gale Storm on “The Gale Storm Show” (1956) as Elvira Nugent (“Nugie”), the shipboard beautician. She also appeared in the 1962 Perry Mason episode “The Case of the Absent Artist”. Her last film role was as a switchboard operator in the Stanley Kramer comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963).

 

Jimmy Fairfax, Gale Storm, and  Zasu Pitts in "The Gale Storm Show" (1956)

Jimmy Fairfax, Gale Storm, and Zasu Pitts in “The Gale Storm Show” (1956)

 

ZaSu Pitts was married twice. The first marriage was to Thomas Sarsfield Gallery in 1920. The couple had one child together, a girl named ZaSu Ann Gallery in 1922. The couple later adopted a boy who was the son of Pitts best friend Barbara La Marr, an ill-fated actress who died in 1926 at the age of 29 from tuberculosis and nephritis. Pitts and La Marr had worked together in three films in 1923 and had become close friends. The boy’s birth name was Marvin Carville La Marr which they changed to Donald Michael “Sonny” Gallery after the adoption. He grew up to become an actor and a sometime boyfriend of Elizabeth Taylor. He now lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Pitts and Gallery divorced in 1933.
Her second marriage was in 1933 to John Edward “Eddie” Woodall with whom she remained until her death.

 

Carole Lombard and ZaSu Pitts in "The Gay Bride" (1934)

Carole Lombard and ZaSu Pitts in “The Gay Bride” (1934)

 

Declining health dominated Pitts’ later years, particularly after she was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-1950s. The beloved commedienne died on June 7, 1963, aged 69, leaving behind scores of scene stealing roles unmatched but by only a few. She was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

 

Elizabeth Taylor and ZaSu Pitts in "Life with Father" (1947)

Elizabeth Taylor and ZaSu Pitts in “Life with Father” (1947)

 

Pitts unique and remarkable first name, “ZaSu”, came about because her mother’s two sisters, Eliza and Susan, both wanted her named after them. Her mother didn’t want to disappoint either of them, so she formed the name from the last two letters of Eliza and the first two letters of Susan. Incorrectly spelled as Zazu Pitts in many film credits and often mispronounced, in her 1963 book “Candy Hits” (pg 15), Pitts herself gives the correct pronunciation as “Say Zoo”.
Pitts was also known as an excellent cook and a collector of candy recipes, which culminated into the aforementioned  cook book entitled “Candy Hits by ZaSu Pitts”, which was published posthumously in 1963.

 

Humphrey Bogart, John Litel, and ZaSu Pitts in "It All Came True" (1940)

Humphrey Bogart, John Litel, and ZaSu Pitts in “It All Came True” (1940)

 

ZaSu Pitts was chosen to be pictured on one of ten 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps celebrating stars of the silent screen, issued 27 April 1994. Designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, this set of stamps also honored Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, Charles Chaplin, Lon Chaney, John Gilbert, Harold Lloyd, Theda Bara, Buster Keaton, and the Keystone Kops.
When the “Thimble Theatre” comic strip became the “Popeye” animated cartoon series, the producers used ZaSu’s hand-wringing and nervous speech pattern to characterize the on-screen persona of “Olive Oyl.”

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Myrna Loy: Happy New Year!!

Myrna Loy sleeping on the job while bringing in the New Year!!

Myrna Loy Happy New Year 1927

Myrna Loy 1927

               HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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