Archive for February, 2013
“Some kind of fun lasts longer than others.” ~ Betty Hutton
“I don’t know where it’s all going to lead. I have no idea where I’m going. I would just like to be happy.” ~ Betty Hutton
“I worked out of desperation. I used to hit fast and run in hopes that people wouldn’t realize that I really couldn’t do anything.” ~ Betty Hutton
“I am not a great singer and I am not a great dancer, but I am a great actress, and nobody ever let me act except [director] Preston Sturges. He believed in me.” ~ Betty Hutton
“I was a commodity, like a hot dog. It was like hot dogs and Betty Hutton.” ~ Betty Hutton
“I think things are going to go right for me again. I’m not old. I’m old enough, but I photograph young, thank God, and I still have a public. I still get fan mail.” ~ Betty Hutton
“Then the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out I went into a spin and I started to shout I’ve been hit. This is it. This is it! I . . T . . . IT!” ~ Betty Hutton
“I don’t even have many friends anymore because I backed away from them. When things went wrong for me I didn’t want them to have any part of my trouble.” ~ Betty Hutton
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard at home with their Siamese kittens.
Ruth Clifford was a silent film leading lady in Hollywood during the 1920’s and later a character actress in occasional talkies. Her career lasted over six decades, well into the television era.
Ruth Clifford was born February 17, 1900 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Narragansett, Rhode Island. After her mother died in 1911, Clifford moved to Los Angeles to live with her actress aunt. She got work as an extra and began her career at age fifteen at Universal with a substantial role in “Behind the Lines” (1916). Clifford had roles in several shorts the next couple years with her only lead role in a full length feature coming in 1917 in “Polly Put the Kettle On”. Clifford went on to play leads and second leads in over forty silents the next dozen years including the role of Abraham Lincoln’s lost love, Ann Rutledge, in “The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln” (1924). Other Clifford movies of note are; “The Savage” (1917) with Colleen Moore, “The Cabaret Girl” (1918), “Tropical Love” (1921), “The Dangerous Age” (1923), “Hell’s Hole” (1923), “Her Husband’s Secret” (1925), “Lew Tyler’s Wives” (1926) with Frank Mayo and Hedda Hopper, “The Thrill Seekers” (1927), and “The Eternal Woman” (1929) with Olive Borden.
With the advent of talkies, Ruth Clifford found her roles diminishing, and throughout the next three decades she played smaller and smaller parts, many of the uncredited. Clifford was a favorite of director John Ford (they played bridge together), who used her in eight films, but rarely in substantial roles. She was also, for a time, the voice of Walt Disney’s Minnie Mouse. During the 1950’s and 60’s Clifford turned to television with appearances in many programs including several appearances in “Fireside Theatre”, “Playhouse 90”, “Highway Patrol”, and “Dr. Kildare” to name a few. Her last appearance was in 1977 in an episode of “Police Story”. Late in life Clifford found herself in demand for documentary interviews on the subject of early Hollywood. All told, Clifford was able to sustain an acting career that lasted for sixty years with over 150 credits in silent film, talkies, and television.
Ruth Clifford was married to Beverly Hills real-estate developer James Cornelius in 1924. The couple had one child, a son. The marriage ended in divorce in 1938.
Ruth Clifford died November 30, 1998, age 98, in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California. She was interred in Culver City’s Holy Cross Cemetery.
James Murray was an American movie actor best known for starring in the 1928 classic silent “The Crowd” directed by King Vidor. After quickly becoming a rising star in Hollywood after his role in “The Crowd”, Murray unfortunately turned to drink and died an alcoholic derelict a mere eight years later at the age of thirty-five.
Murray was born February 9, 1901 in The Bronx, New York. He appeared in “The Pilgrims” (1924), a three-reeler made at Yale University in 1923 in which Murray played John Alden. After making “The Pilgrims” Murray headed west to Hollywood, living a nomadic life along the way, working menial jobs and riding boxcars. After arriving in Hollywood he worked odd jobs and took bit parts until he was ‘discovered’ by director King Vidor, who saw Murray walking by on the MGM lot. Vidor was about to begin work on a new film and thought Murray might look right for the lead. Murray, however, failed to show up for the meeting he arranged with Vidor, apparently thinking it to be a joke. Vidor subsequently tracked him down and after a screen test offered Murray the starring role in “The Crowd” (1928) opposite Eleanor Boardman. His performance in the film as John Sims, a common everyday kind of family man just trying to survive the game of life, was so frighteningly real and heart-wrenching that the film was initially judged too heavy and raw for audiences to escape in, but the critics were enamored with the film and especially with Murray. Director King Vidor and MGM executive Irving Thalberg considered Murray to be one of the best natural actors they had ever had the good fortune to encounter. Today the “The Crowd” is considered a cinematic masterpiece by many.
After making “The Crowd”, Murray went on to turn in solid work the next few years in such films as “The Big City” (1928) with Lon Chaney, “Thunder” (1929) also with Chaney, “The Shakedown” (1929), “Bachelor Mother” (1932), “The Reckoning” (1932) opposite Sally Blane, and “Heroes for Sale” (1933). Despite his success, maybe it was too much too soon for the mild actor, his life took a tragic turn as he turned to the bottle to quiet whatever inner demons haunted him. By the early 1930’s he was a chronic alcoholic who could barely hold down an acting job. He turned into a derelict, living on the streets and begging for change. In 1934, in an instance of extreme coincidence, he tried panhandling a man who turned out to be King Vidor. Vidor offered Murray a role in his upcoming film, “Our Daily Bread”, but Murray turned it down, deeming it an act of pity. Two years later in 1936, Murray’s body was fished out of the Hudson River in New York City. The medical examiner determined that the cause was asphyxia by submersion, without ruling on whether it was an accident or suicide. He was thirty-five years old. Murray was interred at the Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens, New York.
In all, James Murray appeared in thirty-six movies. In most of his post silent era films, particularly those made during the last few years of his career, Murray was cast in unaccredited bit parts or as an extra. At the time of his death Murray was married to actress Marion Sayers.
King Vidor, who had directed Murray in “The Crowd” (1928), later said that he respected Murray as an actor and was dismayed that alcoholism cost the actor his career. Vidor was so haunted by Murray’s tragic death he wrote a screenplay about his life entitled “The Actor”. Vidor hoped to turn the screenplay into a film in 1979, but the project never came to fruition.