Exclusive Interview with Victoria Riskin, author of “Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir”

Exclusive Interview with Victoria Riskin,
Daughter of Fay Wray and Robert Riskin about her new book
“Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir”

I’m so excited to say that Victoria Riskin’s new book “Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir” is available in stores today — and I was very lucky to be able to sit down with her for a special chat about the book. That said, a Big Thank You to Victoria for spending time with me, and to Pantheon Books for making this happen!

This is Part One of an exclusive 2-part interview with Victoria, in which she talks about the origins of the book, her parent’s early years in Hollywood, the filming of King Kong, the exploits of Merian C. Cooper, her father’s partnership with Frank Capra and much more.

Please stay tuned for Part Two of the interview which will be posted on this blog next week.  In the meantime, you can join our BOOK GIVEAWAY, in which we’ll be giving away a total of 12 AUTOGRAPHED copies of the book.

Hope you enjoy the interview. I know I did :)

This is my entry for Fay Wray and Robert Riskin, The Blogathon, which was created to celebrate the release of Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir on February 26, 2019. The book is written by their daughter, Victoria Riskin. I am also thrilled to be co-hosting this blogathon with friend Aurora at Once Upon a Screen. Be sure to visit both our blogs on March 2 and 3 for fabulous entries honoring two extraordinary careers.

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Interviews, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir – AUTOGRAPHED Book Giveaway (now through Mar 30)

Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir
A Very Special Autographed Book Giveaway!

I am so pleased to announce a very special giveaway this month! Plus a Blogathon and an Exclusive Interview too! But more about those later…

CMH will be giving away TEN AUTOGRAPHED COPIES of  Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir by Fay and Robert’s daughter, Victoria Riskin, courtesy of Pantheon Books. We’ll also be giving away TWO MORE AUTOGRAPHED COPIES via a Facebook/Blog version of the contest too (feel free to enter both contests!).

Before we start the contest, I just want to say that I found this memoir to be absolutely fascinating… a dual biography, lovingly and honestly written. Not only does author/daughter Victoria Riskin expertly weave together the story of her parent’s lives — both separately and together — she also provides the backstories, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and overall historical context that adds insight for us fans, and makes for a rich and entertaining reading experience.

That all said, please feel free to enter both contests (this one and our Facebook/Blog version) — and please check back on this blog for our Fay Wray and Riskin Blogathon on March 2nd and 3rd, co-hosted by Classic Movie Hub and Once Upon a Screen. The Blogathon will feature blog posts about Wray and Riskin, by veteran and emerging classic movie bloggers – and it’s sure to be a treat :)

AND, last but certainly not least, I had the honor of interviewing Victoria Riskin about her book — you can watch the video here 

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fay wray robert riskin a hollywood memoir by victoria riskinA Hollywood memoir and love story, written by Fay and Robert’s daughter, Victoria. A dual biography with over 200 photographs, many of which have never been seen before.

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, March 30 at 9PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick winners on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • Mar 2: Two Winners
  • Mar 9: Two Winners
  • Mar 16: Two Winners
  • Mar 23: Two Winners
  • Mar 30: Two Winners

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub, the day after each winner is picked at 9PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday Mar 3 at 9PM EST on Twitter. And, please note that you don’t have to have a Twitter account to enter; just see below for the details…

If you’re also on Facebook, please feel free to visit us at Classic Movie Hub on Facebook for additional giveaways (or check back on this Blog in a few days) — because we’ll be giving away TWO MORE copies via Facebook/Blog as well!

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And now on to the contest!

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, March 30 at 9PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the “Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir” #BookGiveaway courtesy of @PantheonBooks author @VRiskin & @ClassicMovieHub #CMHContest link: http://ow.ly/aAD730nOLhL

THE QUESTION:
What are some of your favorite Fay Wray and/or Robert Riskin movies and why?

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

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robert riskin and fay wray - fay proposed bob accepted and they married on august 23 1942 photo courtesy of victoria riskinFay proposed, Bob accepted, and they married on August 23, 1942. (photo courtesy of Victoria Riskin)

About the Book:  King Kong elevated Fay Wray to the tip of the Empire State Building and the heights of cinematic immortality; she starred in more than one hundred and twenty pictures, with such co-stars as Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy and William Powell. Robert Riskin, Wray’s husband, was one of Hollywood’s seminal screenwriters, originator of the “screwball comedy” and the true populist voice of the “little guy” that gave the movies he did with Frank Capra the “Capra touch”; Riskin’s sophisticated stage plays and screen comedies of Hollywood’s classic era became famous for their blend of humor and romance, wisecracking and idealism. Winner of the Academy Award for It Happened One Night and nominated for four other Oscars, Riskin was a producer and longtime collaborator with Capra on such pictures as The Miracle Woman, Platinum Blonde, American Madness, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lost Horizon, You Can’t Take It with You, and Meet John Doe. Their daughter, Victoria Riskin, a former president of the Writers Guild of America West, tells the story of their lives, their work, their Hollywood, and their fairy-tale marriage.

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase the on amazon by clicking here:

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways | Tagged , , , | 39 Comments

Cooking with the Stars: Eva Gabor’s Piperade for Two

Eva Gabor’s Piperade for Two

Gabor Sisters, Zsa Zsa., Magda, Eva GaborThe Gabor Sisters – Zsa Zsa., Magda and Eva.

It’s February over here at Cooking with the Stars, and this month gave me the perfect opportunity to honor a family that I truly admire in film, food, and beyond: the glamorous Gabors! Specifically, I’m paying tribute to the incredible Eva Gabor by highlighting her fascinating life while also testing out her traditional Hungarian piperade recipe. But why Eva, you may ask? For one thing, when I think of February I immediately think of Valentine’s Day, which just so happens to be one of my favorite days of the year. As someone who cooks a great deal, I can think of few things that are more romantic than a meal specifically made for two. In addition, I knew that I couldn’t allow February to pass me by without honoring Eva Gabor, because February 11th marked what would have been her 100th birthday! Sure, the occasion might have passed by this month without much fanfare, but through the years I’ve grown to admire the beauty, perseverance, and lifestyle of Eva along with her gorgeous sisters, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate her birthday in the best way that I know how. Read on to discover what an exceptional lady our star of the day was and to learn all about how you can whip up some of her delicious piperade at home!

The Gabor Sisters as Children, Magda, Zsa Zsa and Eva GaborThe Gabor sisters as children. Left to right: Magda, Zsa Zsa, and Eva.

Eva Gabor was born on February 11, 1919 in Budapest, Hungary to Vilmos Gábor, a soldier, and his wife Jolie, a revered jeweler. She was the youngest of three breathtaking and talented daughters, the oldest being Magda, born June 11, 1915, followed by my personal favorite Gabor sister Zsa Zsa, born February 6, 1917. With each pregnancy, both Vilmos and Jolie desperately wished for a boy. As half of a loveless marriage, Jolie’s heart sank after finding out that Magda and Zsa Zsa were both daughters, but Eva’s birth changed her mother’s outlook. “My spirits improved when I stared into the face of my baby,” Jolie later recalled. “If it were a girl, I had already decided to call her Eva. She was beautiful, far more beautiful than Magda or Zsa Zsa.” Jolie had always craved a career on the stage, but after Eva’s birth, she realized that at age twenty-three and with a husband and three children to care for, her aspirations of becoming an actress were out of reach. She decided to seek a new role in life: to fashion her daughters into the three most famous women in the world. “I wanted Magda, Zsa Zsa, and Eva to do everything, have all sorts of experiences, grand or small — lovers, rich husbands, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, mink coats, palaces. I wanted them to grow up and leave Hungary and conquer London, Paris, New York, Hollywood. If they did not manage to marry a king, then a prince might do, certainly a count, earl, or duke if all else fails.”

Eva Gabor ParamountEva Gabor, pictured here shortly after being discovered by Paramount Studios in 1941.

From near infancy, Magda, Zsa Zsa, and Eva took all sorts of lessons, including piano, singing, ballet, horseback riding, and tennis, while also becoming fluent in French, German, and English in addition to their native Hungarian. Eva delighted her mother when she displayed an early desire to become an actress, idolizing film and opera star Grace Moore in particular. She dreamed of the day when a tall, blonde American would marry her and take her to the United States so she could become a star. Her first husband wasn’t quite the king or earl that mother Jolie had hoped for, but Dr. Erich Valdemar Drimmer, a Swedish osteopath with celebrity clients like Greta Garbo, succeeded in whisking her away to Hollywood, making Eva the first of her family to leave Hungary at age twenty. It didn’t take long for her to be noticed by Paramount Studios, who gave her minor roles throughout the forties in various films like Forced Landing (1941) and Star-Spangled Rhythm (1942), but her parts were insignificant and infrequent for the most part until 1953, when she was chosen to host her own talk show, The Eva Gabor Show (1953-54), which lasted a full season. By the mid-fifties Eva’s grand demeanor, voice, and appearance became better suited for the grand Technicolor pictures of the time and she finally began enjoying success in film, lending her talents to memorable leading and supporting roles in The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) with Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson, Artists and Models (1955) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and the iconic musical Gigi (1958), which won nine Academy Awards.

Eva Gabpr amd Eddie Albert Green AcresEva and Eddie Albert in a promotional photo for Green Acres, Eva’s biggest success on the small screen.

But Eva Gabor’s biggest success would come later in life after beating out the likes of Marsha Hunt and Janet Blair for the role of Lisa Douglas in Green Acres (1965-71), one of the most beloved television sitcoms of all time. The show, which depicted a wealthy couple from New York who leaves their comfortable life behind to live on a farm, ran for six seasons before its shocking cancellation in 1971. That still wasn’t the end of Eva’s varied and successful career, however, as she later gained popularity as herself by famously introducing the world to the board game Twister on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1966 and with her regular appearances on Match Game (1977-81). The actress even had the opportunity to appeal to younger audiences through her work with Disney, providing the voice of not one, but two classic Disney characters: Duchess, the prim and proper feline in The Aristocats (1970), and the heroic Miss Bianca in The Rescuers (1977). She continued to enjoy continuous on and offscreen work in the decades that followed before passing away on July 4, 1995 at age seventy-five due to complications from a fall. To this day, she’s considered by most to be the loveliest and most popular of the infamous Gabor sisters, as well as the finest actress of the three. Even Eva herself said later in life, “I was the first actress in the family, and I am still the only actress in the family.”

Eva Gabor’s Piperade for Two

  • ½ cup julienne strips leftover ham or sliced Italian salami
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Hungarian paprika
  1. Brown ham lightly in olive oil (or butter); remove and set aside.
  2. Add pepper and onion to the same skillet, cook over medium heat until vegetables are partially soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, garlic and seasonings, and simmer until sauce becomes a soft, mushy purée.
  4. Beat eggs lightly and gently stir into hot tomato sauce. Stir, but do not overcook. The omelet should be wet and soft like scrambled eggs.
  5. Top with ham sprinkled lightly with Hungarian paprika and serve with triangles of fried toast.
Eva Gabor Recipe PiperadeMy rendition of Eva Gabor’s Piperade for Two.

Over the years, my admiration for the Gabor sisters has led me to develop an affinity for Hungarian cuisine. This isn’t the first time that I’ve tried a traditional Hungarian dish à la Gabor, and I certainly hope that it won’t be the last. It’s interesting to learn more about not only various cultures and food through classic film recipes, but little nuances within the classic movie stars as well. For instance, nearly every Gabor recipe that I’ve tried, be it Eva or Zsa Zsa, fails to specify what type of “green pepper” is required for their dishes. Through my research about both ladies, when Zsa Zsa mentions green peppers in a dish, she’s usually referring to Hungarian wax peppers. This species is surprisingly accessible in American grocery stores and possesses a medium level of heat, yet when I looked into the customary preparations for piperade it seems that it almost always contains green bell peppers, which is what I used here. Perhaps great sisters don’t always think alike! No matter what variety of pepper is used, I absolutely adore this dish. It’s not mind-blowing per se, but it’s simple and delicious. Eva’s recipe keeps the preparation time and number of ingredients to a minimum while still not sacrificing flavor. What’s even better is that it serves exactly the amount that it states, perfectly filling two bowls and keeping me full for quite some time. Any recipe that can fulfill so many claims is a winner in my book, though my boyfriend was less than impressed by the dish. He’s a notoriously picky eater, and he’s grown so used to me whipping up my own recipe for goulash at home that he believed the piperade was a repeat of all of those similar flavors with a worse texture. I still give Eva Gabor’s piperade an enthusiastic four out of five Vincents, and I encourage everyone to give their most glamorous Gabor impression while also giving this dish a try this at home. It’s absolutely marvelous, dahling!

Cooking with the Stars Recipe Rating – 4 out of 5 Vincents:

cooking with the stars ratingcooking with the stars ratingcooking with the stars ratingcooking with the stars rating

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–Samantha Ellis for Classic Movie Hub

Samantha resides in West Chester, Pennsylvania and is the author of Musings of a Classic Film Addict, a blog that sheds light on Hollywood films and filmmakers from the 1930s through the 1960s. Her favorite column that she pens for her blog is Cooking with the Stars, for which she tests and reviews the personal recipes of stars from Hollywood’s golden age. When she isn’t in the kitchen, Samantha also lends her voice and classic film knowledge as cohost of the Ticklish Business podcast alongside Kristen Lopez and Drea Clark, and proudly serves as President of TCM Backlot’s Philadelphia Chapter. You can catch up with her work by following her @classicfilmgeek on Twitter.

Posted in Cooking with the Stars, Posts by Samantha Ellis | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Silents are Golden: 8 Forgotten Hit Films of the Silent Era

Eight Forgotten Hit Films of the Silent Era

Much like today, silent era audiences flocked to big-budget spectacles, witty comedies and other crowd pleasers (well, maybe “witty comedies” are a rarity nowadays). If you found a list of the top box office attractions in the 1910s and 1920s, a lot of titles would be pretty familiar: Ben-Hur, Intolerance, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Robin Hood. The biggest hit of the entire era, The Big Parade, might ring a bell too.

But there are other titles in those “top grossing” lists that have fallen into obscurity. Some of them might surprise you — whoever said that subtly-acted, bittersweet dramas can’t attract masses of viewers? Here’s a look at eight of those forgotten “moneymakers”!

(Note: Selections were made from lists of top grossing films from each year, and rely on figures from the U.S.)

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8. Something to Think About (1920)

Something to Think About (1920)Something to Think About (1920)

One of Cecil B. DeMille’s dramas starring Gloria Swanson and Elliott Dexter, it was considered a romantic, “wholesome” story and had wide appeal. Swanson plays Ruth, the daughter of a blacksmith, and Dexter portrays David Markley, a wealthy young man who is a cripple. David cares for Ruth and decides to become her benefactor so she can get a good education. When she returns from school, she defies her father’s wish for her to marry David and picks a different swain instead. Little does she know, though, that tragedy’s on the horizon. The film grossed about $9,150,000, almost double the amount of Way Down East, another big 1920 hit that’s well-remembered today.

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7. Secrets (1924)

Secrets (1924) Norma TalmadgeNorma Talmadge in Secrets (1924)

Norma Talmadge is a little-discussed actress nowadays, but back in the 1920s, she was one of the biggest names in the movies. Secrets was one of her many hits and gave her an opportunity to show her acting range. It begins by showing her character as an elderly woman, looking back on her tough, action-packed life on the frontier with her husband. The twists and turns of her oft-tragic story were acted with Norma’s classic naturalness.

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6. His People (1925)

His People (1925)His People (1925)

One of Universal’s hits of the mid-1920s, His People revolves around a Jewish family from Russia trying to make ends meet in New York’s Lower East Side. The oldest son is drawn to scholarly pursuits, while the younger son becomes a boxer, and — gasp! — falls in love with an Irish girl. The clash of cultures is portrayed with surprising sensitivity, and the energy of the bustling tenement neighborhoods is artfully captured.

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5. Aloma of the South Seas (1926)

Aloma of the South Seas (1926)Aloma of the South Seas (1926)

One of your “exotic island paradise” flicks, Aloma of the South Seas revolves around a dancer falling in love with an American man. It became the highest-grossing picture of 1926 and apparently ranks in the top ten list of 1920s box office hits. Its star, Gilda Gray, was famous for popularizing the “shimmy” dance. While Aloma is lost today, we can get a sense of what it was like by watching the 1941 Dorothy Lamour version (warning: it’s pretty silly).

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4. Over the Hill to the Poorhouse (1920)

Over the Hill to the Poorhouse (1920)Over the Hill to the Poorhouse (1920)

People adored this bittersweet film, about the hardships of a mother of six children whose husband is a neer-do-well. Although she sacrifices everything, all her children eventually drift away from her and she’s faced with going to a poorhouse. All is not lost, however, when one son decides he must make things right. (Pro tip: whenever silent film titles sound odd or overly old-timey, they often were named after a song or a poem–in this case, a poem.)

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3. The Better ‘Ole (1926)

The Better Ole (1926)The Better ‘Ole (1926)

This comedy smash was one of Chaplin’s best efforts–pardon me, one of Sydney Chaplin’s best efforts. Set in the World War I trenches, it follows the exploits of “Old Bill,” a British soldier who gets into various scrapes involving the Germans. While Sydney is sometimes overlooked today (despite having an uber-famous brother), he was a talented comedian in his own right, as The Better ‘Ole proves. It’s also interesting to compare it to Charlie’s Shoulder Arms (1918), the first feature-length WWI comedy.

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2. Smilin’ Through (1922)

Smilin Through (1922)Norma Talmadge in Smilin’ Through (1922)

Another big success for Norma, Smilin’ Through was an adaptation of a popular stage play. Partly a drama and partly a “costume picture,” it gave her a chance to play the dual roles of Moonyeen, who is killed by a rejected suitor on her wedding day, and Kathleen, who twenty years later is unknowingly planning on marrying the son of the rejected suitor. Kathleen’s lover is played by Harrison Ford — no, not that one, the earlier Harrison Ford. Smilin’ Through was called “a perfect classic,” “one that will live for years to come.” It’s unfamiliar to all but silent buffs today, but happily, a decent copy is available.

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1. The Miracle Man (1919)

The Miracle Man (1919)The Miracle Man (1919)

This was a megahit of the silent era, the biggest grosser of 1919. It’s also notable for being Lon Chaney’s big break. A gang of criminals hears about a “faith healer” revered by a small town. Sensing gullibility, they decide to hide out in the town, have one of their members poses as a cripple who receives “miraculous” healing and collect donations (supposedly for a chapel). However, their confidence is shaken when they witness a crippled boy receive real miraculous healing. Reviews were positively glowing, nothing short of ecstatic. Sadly for us all, it’s a lost film, although a couple tantalizing clips still survive.

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Family drama, cultural differences, heroines overcoming tragedies, faith vs. skepticism, dancers doing the shimmy…all were themes that fascinated audiences in the day. Studying them gives us a more nuanced view of the long-gone era. And with any luck, some of these forgotten hits can also find new, appreciative audiences.

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–Lea Stans for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Lea’s Silents are Golden articles here.

Lea Stans is a born-and-raised Minnesotan with a degree in English and an obsessive interest in the silent film era (which she largely blames on Buster Keaton). In addition to blogging about her passion at her site Silent-ology, she is a columnist for the Silent Film Quarterly and has also written for The Keaton Chronicle.

 

Posted in Posts by Lee Stans, Silents are Golden, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Western Roundup: Unexpected Western Leads

Western Roundup: Unexpected Western Leads

There are many wonderful actors we associate with Westerns, from John Wayne and Randolph Scott to Tim Holt and William Boyd, and too many others to name here.

Beyond those familiar names, occasionally actors not typically associated with Westerns turn up in the genre, often with unexpectedly good results. Here are a few of my favorite Western films starring actors one might not think of as “cowboy stars.”

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Franchot Tone, Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)

Trail of the Vigilantes (1941) Franchot ToneFranchot Tone in Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)

One tends to think of debonair Franchot Tone in a tuxedo rather than Western gear, but he fit right in Universal Pictures’ Trail of the Vigilantes. Tone was fittingly cast as Tim Mason, an Eastern marshal sent west to investigate the murder of a newspaperman. Using the moniker “Kansas,” Tim is hired by a rancher (Charles Trowbridge); the Easterner is sometimes tormented by other cowhands (Andy Devine and Broderick Crawford) but he’s also smart enough to outwit them at times and earns their admiration and friendship. Meanwhile, the rancher’s daughter (Peggy Moran) develops an instant crush on the new hand and is determined to land her man. This is a tremendously fun comedic Western which reminded me a bit of the much later Support Your Local Sheriff! (1968); in fact, supposedly Allan Dwan had the original “straight” script rewritten as more of a spoof, which was a brilliant choice. Tone is a good-natured, sly delight from start to finish, cementing my growing admiration for him.

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Dennis Morgan, Cheyenne (1947) and Raton Pass (1951)

Cheyenne (1947) Dennis Morgan and Jane WymanDennis Morgan and Jane Wyman in Cheyenne (1947)

Warner Bros. singing star Dennis Morgan appeared in a variety of films, including musicals, light comedies, romances, and melodramas, but he occasionally also turned up in Westerns. In the early ’40s, he was a Mountie in River’s End (1940) and Cole Younger in Bad Men of Missouri (1941), but he had far better Western roles years later, in Cheyenne (1947) and Raton Pass (1951). I particularly like Cheyenne, a Raoul Walsh Western alternately known as The Wyoming Kid. Morgan plays a gambler forced to go undercover and aid a sheriff in discovering the identity of a stagecoach robber. He’s charming and believable as the cagey gambler, and he’s supported by a terrific cast including Jane Wyman and Janis Paige. Raton Pass is more of a Western “film noir meets melodrama,” with Morgan as a tough New Mexico rancher and Patricia Neal as the femme fatale of the piece, a calculating woman who marries Morgan and promptly unleashes a full-scale range war. It’s a tough, gritty film which somehow also manages to fit in a plausible opportunity for Morgan to sing!

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Dick Powell, Station West (1948)

Station West (1948) Dick Powell, Jane GreerDick Powell and Jane Greer in Station West (1948)

Dick Powell is most often thought of as either a singing star or a film noir tough guy. Although he had played a radio star pretending to be a cowboy in Cowboy From Brooklyn (1938), he rarely made Westerns. What makes Station West (1948) work so well is that it essentially transfers the hard-boiled tough guy persona he developed in the ’40s to the old West. Powell plays an army lieutenant who arrives in a Western town on an undercover mission, solving the murder of two soldiers. (There seems to be an “undercover mission” theme here which is interesting!) Powell’s lieutenant pretends to be a rowdy type in order to become friendly with the town lowlifes; his sarcastic quips seem straight out of Murder, My Sweet (1944). It’s worth noting that while Jane Greer, as the movie’s femme fatale, and Burl Ives both sing, Powell definitely doesn’t! Powell was at home enough in Station West that the following year he was cast as another frontier lawman, playing a Mountie in the excellent Mrs. Mike (1949).

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Edmond O’Brien, Cow Country (1953)

Cow Country (1953) Edmond O'Brien, Helen WestcottCow Country (1953) Edmond O’Brien and Helen Westcott

Edmond O’Brien seems like the quintessential “big city” type, having starred in a number of notable film noir titles, but in the early ’50s he made a few Westerns, starting with The Redhead and the Cowboy (1951), Silver City (1951), and Denver and Rio Grande (1951). My favorite, though, is a little Western called Cow Country (1953), one of those movies some of us like to call a “darn good Western.” O’Brien plays Ben Anthony, who’s running a freight business in an area where cattle ranches are struggling. Ben doesn’t know that his childhood friend Harry (Bob Lowery) is plotting to drive the ranchers out of business and take over their land, and complicating things further is that Harry is simultaneously engaged to two women (Helen Westcott and Peggie Castle) who would clearly each be happier with another man. O’Brien plays a kind, ethical man who seems right at home in the West, and I really wish he’d made many more Westerns than he did. He would later appear in a handful of other Westerns, most memorably John Ford‘s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Sam Peckinpah‘s The Wild Bunch (1968).

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Ray Milland, A Man Alone (1955)

Man Alone (1955) Ray MillandA Man Alone (1955) Ray Milland

Like Franchot Tone, Welsh-born Ray Milland is often thought of as more at home in a drawing room than a saloon, but Milland was, in reality, a fine horseman and thus well-suited for the genre. He occasionally turned up in Westerns, such as Paramount’s California (1945) and the very good Copper Canyon (1950), but the very best Milland Western was one he not only starred in but directed, A Man Alone (1955). Milland shows a perfect affinity for the Western, playing Wes Steele, a gunslinger stranded in the desert after his horse breaks a leg. He happens across the nightmarish scene of a stagecoach massacre, and upon riding one of the stagecoach horses to town to report it, he’s repaid by being shot at by the deputy sheriff (Alan Hale Jr.). Before he knows it the town banker (Raymond Burr) has pinned the murders on him, and he manages to hide in a basement during a sandstorm. The basement just happens to belong to the home of the sheriff (Ward Bond), who is sick with yellow fever. Wes ultimately falls in love with the sheriff’s daughter (Mary Murphy) and must engage in a good-versus-evil battle with the murderous banker.

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William Talman, Two-Gun Lady (1955)

Two Gun Lady (1955) Peggie Castle, William TalmanPeggie Castle and William Talman in Two Gun Lady (1955)

Before he became district attorney Hamilton Burger on TV’s Perry Mason beginning in 1957, William Talman was perhaps best known as criminals in such films as Armored Car Robbery (1950) and The Hitch-Hiker (1953). He’s surprisingly effective as a Western hero in this minor yet quite enjoyable low-budget Western. He plays Dan, a drifter who arrives in town and goes to work for mean Jud Ivers (Ian MacDonald), who has a psychotic son (Earle Lyon). But Dan may not be quite who he seems — there’s that undercover theme again! He becomes friendly with Kate (Peggie Castle), who has arrived in town to perform a sharp-shooting act at the saloon, and soon Kate and Dan find they have a common goal: Justice for the death of Kate’s parents. Talman and Castle had surprisingly effective chemistry; I bought into their relationship and liked the story. Plus watch for a scene where Marie Windsor appears to accidentally walk into a scene and then walk out again! The same year as Two-Gun Lady, Talman also appeared with Dana Andrews in Smoke Signal (1955).

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Stewart Granger, Gun Glory (1957)

Gun Glory (1957) Stewart GrangerStewart Granger in Gun Glory (1957)

British-born Stewart Granger may be most strongly connected with swashbucklers and adventure films such as King Solomon’s Mines (1950) and The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), but he occasionally dabbled in the Western genre. He appeared in The Wild North (1952) and The Last Hunt (1956), both of which I briefly discussed in my column on snowy Westerns, and he also co-starred with John Wayne in North to Alaska (1960). My favorite Granger Western, though, is Gun Glory (1957), a relatively simple yet engaging story about a gunslinger finally ready to settle down. Tom Early (Granger) returns to the family ranch after a long absence and, after discovering his wife has died, he attempts to begin a relationship with his wary son (Steve Rowland). The town preacher (Chill Wills) and Jo (Rhonda Fleming), who becomes the Earlys’ housekeeper, are two of the only people to welcome Tom’s return, but when cattlemen threaten to stampede a herd through town, the local citizens suddenly find themselves in need of a man with Tom’s skills. Granger is a charismatic presence and seems completely at home as a Western star; like the other films in this column, I think it deserves to be better-known and hope Western fans who haven’t seen it will give it a look.

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A few other unexpected Western stars come to mind which there’s no room to delve into here, such as Tony Martin  and John Lund. I’d enjoy thoughts on additional Western leads not typically associated with the genre in the comments!

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– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub

Laura can be found at her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she’s been writing about movies since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film fan, Laura loves the classics including Disney, Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns.  She regularly covers Southern California classic film festivals.  Laura will scribe on all things western at the ‘Western RoundUp’ for CMH.

 

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Noir Nook: February Facts

Noir Nook: February Facts

I just love trivia. So in this month of love, I’m celebrating by serving up a bouquet of trivial facts about some of my favorite noir guys and gals!

Peggie Castle Bunny CastlePeggie Castle

Peggie Castle was the first actress to sign with Universal Studios under its “cheesecake” contract clause, which required “any feminine star who has a special physical charm to display this asset” through the first five years of her contract. According to a Universal spokesperson, many young actresses gained fame by posing for these pictures, but later “refuse to permit this type of exploitation, which seems unfair to their public and to themselves.”

Although Lee J. Cobb’s father was initially against Cobb’s acting aspirations (he wanted his son to be an accountant), he was responsible for coming up with the actor’s stage name. Cobb was born Leo Jacoby – his father suggested that he break his last name into two parts, becoming Lee J. Cobb. “When my father did this for me, I knew that, finally, he believed in me as an actor,” Cobb said.

Dorothy Malone was a model student. She was class president for six straight years, salutatorian at her eighth-grade graduation, parliamentarian of the student council, and vice-president of the school chapter of the National Honor Society. She also modeled clothes for Neiman-Marcus, won prizes for the showing and handling of dogs, and for two years was selected as best actress in a local competition.

John Hodiak HeadshotJohn Hodiak

Shortly after signing a seven-year contract with MGM, John Hodiak  shot down the studio’s plans for him to change his name, citing his obligations toward his fellow Ukrainians. He also said that the name Hodiak “sounds like I look.”

While working as an understudy to Gypsy Rose Lee in Star and Garter in 1942, Adele Jergens got her big break in classic movie style. One night, Lee missed a show, Jergens performed in her place, and she was spotted by a talent scout from Columbia Studios, who placed her under contract.

When he was a boy, Edmond O’Brien planned to become a musician. He was inspired by his neighbor, Harry Houdini, from whom he learned a few tricks. O’Brien staged magic shows for his friends in the family basement and dubbed himself “Neirbo the Great” (O’Brien spelled backward).

Jan Sterling’s family was in the New York Social Register. Her ancestors included John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and her grandfather was a manufacturer of harvesting machines who sold out to the Deere Company after the turn of the century.

Burt Lancaster and Nick CravatBurt Lancaster and Nick Cravat

As a young man, Burt Lancaster teamed up with a boyhood chum, Nick Cravat, and formed an acrobatic act known as Lang and Cravat. For seven years, the two traveled around the United States in tent shows, vaudeville, Kay Brothers Circus, and even a stint with the Ringling Brothers Circus. “It was a great life,” Lancaster once said.

Jane Russell was once voted Miss Anatomy of the first half of the 20th century by the Anthropology Club of Harvard College.

– Karen Burroughs Hannsberry for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Karen’s Noir Nook articles here.

Karen Burroughs Hannsberry is the author of the Shadows and Satin blog, which focuses on movies and performers from the film noir and pre-Code eras, and the editor-in-chief of The Dark Pages, a bimonthly newsletter devoted to all things film noir. Karen is also the author of two books on film noir – Femme Noir: The Bad Girls of Film and Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. You can follow Karen on Twitter at @TheDarkPages.
If you’re interested in learning more about Karen’s books, you can read more about them on amazon here:

 

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Win Tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: To Kill a Mockingbird” (Giveaway runs now through Mar 9)

Win tickets to see “To Kill a Mockingbird” on the Big Screen!
In Select Cinemas Nationwide Sun Mar 24 & Wed Mar 27

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

CMH continues with our 4th year of our partnership with Fathom Events - with the 3rd of our 14 movie ticket giveaways for 2019, courtesy of Fathom Events! 

That said, we’ll be giving away EIGHT PAIRS of tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: To Kill a Mockingbird – starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch — a classic among classics, the way it was meant to be seen – on the Big Screen!  The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck, and was nominated for eight, including Best Picture. In 1995, the film was entered into the National Film Registry for culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films.

In order to qualify to win a pair of movie tickets via this contest, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, March 9 at 6pm EST.

We will announce the winner(s) on Twitter on Sunday, March 10between 6PM EST and 7PM EST. If a winner(s) does not have a Twitter account, we will announce that winner(s) via this blog in the comment section below.

to kill a mockingbird fathom events

The film will be playing in select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day-only event on Sunday, March 24, and Wednesday, March 27 at select times. Winners will be responsible for their own transportation to the Event. Only United States entries are eligible. Please click here before you enter to ensure that the Event is scheduled at a theater near you and that you are able to attend. (please note that there might be slightly different theater listings and/or screening times for each date)

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday March 9 at 6pm EST…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
What is it about “To Kill a Mockingbird” that makes it a classic? And, if you haven’t seen it, why do you want to see it on the Big Screen?

2) Then TWEET* (not DM) the following message:
I just entered to win tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics Presents: To Kill a Mockingbird” on the Big Screen courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @FathomEvents – You can #EnterToWin here: http://ow.ly/PJHI30nEibS

*If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

to kill a mockingbird, gregory peck atticus finch mary badham scout swingGregory Peck and Mary Badham… aka Atticus and Scout :)

About the film:  Experience one of the most significant milestones in film history like never before with To Kill a Mockingbird. Screen legend Gregory Peck stars as courageous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch – the Academy Award®-winning performance hailed by the American Film Institute as the Greatest Movie Hero of All Time. Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction and nominated for 8 Academy Awards.® watch it and remember why “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” This special two-day event includes exclusive insight from Turner Classic Movies.

Please note that only United States residents are eligible to enter this giveaway contest. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

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Silents are Golden: Silent Superstars – Charlie Chaplin, the Eternal King of Comedy

Silents are Golden Column: Silent Superstars–Charlie Chaplin, the Eternal King of Comedy

Of the many iconic performers that we all recognize today – Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean – there is one that stands alone as the most recognizable of all. Even people who’ve never seen his films know who he is – heck, even people who’ve only seen caricatures of him know who he is. I’m talking, of course, about Charlie Chaplin.

Charlie Chaplin Headshot SmileCharlie Chaplin is credited in over 32 movies!

But while his image has endured, not everyone is as familiar with his backstory. And it’s a remarkable one. Rising from an impoverished London childhood that can only be described as Dickensian, Chaplin not only achieved success and fame not only beyond his wildest dreams but beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. In an era when the cinema was still new, he became a megastar whose moving image became a familiar sight across the globe. Arguably, no one before him had ever quite reached that same level of fame.

Born in London on April 16, 1889, Charles Spencer Chaplin was the son of two entertainers. His father Charles Sr. was a popular music hall singer, and his mother Hannah was a soubrette. The family’s history was a tumultuous one. Charlie’s older brother Sydney was the result of Hannah having an affair, and additional half brother, Wheeler, was in the custody of his father and wouldn’t meet Charlie for thirty years. Charles Sr. became an alcoholic, leading to his separation from Hannah around 1891.

 A Young Charlie ChaplinA Young Charlie Chaplin (age 9 or 10)

Hannah and her sons had to scratch out a meager living, at times staying in workhouses or even enduring separation as the boys were sent to various charity schools. Hannah’s health also began affecting her stage career. One a fateful night her voice gave out onstage, and five-year-old Charlie was brought in as a last-minute replacement. His little rendition of “‘E Dunno Where ‘E Are” was a hit, and probably cemented his desire for a life in the theater.

At age 9, thanks to his mother’s encouragement and his father’s connections, Chaplin joined a group of young clog-dancers called the Eight Lancashire Lads. Becoming more and more ambitious as he grew older, he was eventually able to nab a few acting roles in West End plays. But all was not smooth sailing, Hannah had begun to succumb to mental illness, and sadly, at the young age of 14 Chaplin had to commit his mother to a sanitarium. He would provide for her care for the rest of her life.

Both Sydney and Charlie joined Fred Karno’s famous comedy troupe (which also included a young Stan Laurel). The Karno style, which was heavy on slapstick with touches of “wistful” feeling, was a huge influence on Chaplin’s own style. The troupe would eventually tour North America. During a performance in New York City in late 1912, somebody – possibly a motion picture executive, or possibly Mack Sennett himself – was impressed with Chaplin’s performance and made him an offer to join the Keystone Film Company. Figuring appearances in “pictures” would boost his popularity on the stage, Chaplin agreed.

 Charlie Chaplin, Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)

Keystone, a bustling “laugh factory” always working on several slapstick shorts at once, was an intimidating place to Chaplin at first. But it wasn’t long before the charismatic young comedian began to prove his talent for improvising gags and coming up with comic situations. Fortunately, he found his onscreen “look” early on, improvising an eye-catching costume that would be his signature for the rest of his life: a derby, a tight coat, baggy pants, big shoes, a cane, and a tiny mustache.

Charlie Chaplin Signature OutfitChaplin donning his signature look

After a year of working alongside Mabel Normand, Ford Sterling, Roscoe Arbuckle, and other Keystone stars, Charlie Chaplin had risen to be the most popular star of them all. Upon the expiration of his Keystone contract in late 1914 he moved over to Essanay, where his star rose even further, and then to Mutual in 1916, where he made his most celebrated shorts (including The Immigrant and Easy Street, both 1917). Audiences couldn’t get enough of him–soon there was Chaplin merchandise, Chaplin look-alike contests, and even Chaplin imitators popping up in other comedy studios. It was getting to the point where journalists declared that society had caught “Chaplinitis.”

 Charlie Chapling with Chaplin PuppetCharlie Chaplin with Charlie Chaplin Jr.!

After the great success of the Mutual shorts, Chaplin decided he had the clout to be an independent producer and had his own studio constructed on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood. Both A Dog’s Life (1918) and Shoulder Arms (1918), set in the trenches of WWI, were huge hits. His follow-ups Sunnyside (1919) and A Day’s Pleasure (1919) were less well received, but all was forgiven with the release of The Kid (1921), a masterpiece that still moves viewers today.

By this point, Chaplin was not only recognized as a masterful comedian but an “artist” as well – likely a first for a slapstick comedian. He had explored the idea of comedy with touches of pathos ever since the Essanay short The Tramp (1915), and in time this style became known as “Chaplinesque.” His character, now known as the “Little Tramp,” began to function as a universal figure for downtrodden-yet-plucky individuals.

Charlie Chaplin The Gold Rush (1925)Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush (1925)

He released only a few features in the 1920s (one of which was a romantic drama, A Woman of Paris, which he only directed), but took immense amounts of care and time with each one. Classic sequences in The Gold Rush (1925), such as “the Dance of the Rolls,” are still much-loved today. The coming of sound made Chaplin uneasy, concerned that a talking Tramp would destroy some of the character’s charm. Accordingly, his 1931 City Lights was defiantly silent, despite a general consensus that silents out of date (such was his fame that City Lights was still a huge success).

After the silent era, Chaplin would only make a few more features, starting with the quasi-talkie Modern Times (1935), regarded as one of his finest works. Both the weight of extreme fame and personal troubles likely contributed to the sparse amount of films. His first marriage in 1918 to Mildred Harris had only lasted two years, and his second marriage to the much-younger Lita Grey went through a very public and bitter divorce. His third marriage to Paulette Goddard would also end, although amicably. Surprisingly, his fourth marriage in 1943 to 18-year-old Oona O’Neill would prove to be a lasting one. The two would have eight children and stay together until Chaplin’s death.

Oona O'Neill and Charlie ChaplinOona O’Neill and Charlie Chaplin

Unfortunately, by the 1950s a combination of a public scandal involving unstable actress Joan Barry and a Cold War-era suspicion that Chaplin had pro-communist leanings lead to a downfall in his popularity. After a 1952 trip to London, the government did not allow him to re-enter the U.S. He accordingly moved his family to Vevey, Switzerland, where he spent the remainder of his life in an estate overlooking Lake Geneva.

Time, of course, has faded the bitter memories of those later years and preserved Chaplin’s image as a massively influential and beloved figure in cinema. The majority of his films have been beautifully preserved, and retain all of this comedic master’s freshness and mischievous energy. And while the names of many other silent stars have faded, I think it’s safe to assume that the iconic “Little Tramp” will always be known as the king of screen comedy.

Charlie Chaplin Behind the cameraChaplin behind the camera

–Lea Stans for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Lea’s Silents are Golden articles here.

Lea Stans is a born-and-raised Minnesotan with a degree in English and an obsessive interest in the silent film era (which she largely blames on Buster Keaton). In addition to blogging about her passion at her site Silent-ology, she is a columnist for the Silent Film Quarterly and has also written for The Keaton Chronicle.

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Classic Movie Travels: Bert Lahr – New York, NY and Seattle, WA

Classic Movie Travels: Bert Lahr – New York, NY and Seattle, WA

Bert Lahr NBC MicrophoneBert Lahr (1895 – 1967)

Bert Lahr was lucky enough to have an iconic role in one of the most beloved films of all time. While many will recall his performance as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (1939), his experience as an energetic performer extended beyond this critical role.

Irving Lahrheim was born in New York City on August 13, 1895, to German Jewish immigrants Jacob and Augusta Lahrheim. Jacob worked in upholstery. Irving was the oldest of three children, including two sisters named Cecelia and Babe.

Irving grew up in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, dropping out of school during his first year of high school to join a juvenile vaudeville act. He took on the stage name of Bert Lahr and gradually worked his way up to top billing while working for the Columbia Amusement Company. His Broadway debut came in 1927 in Delmar’s Revels, which had Lahr playing to full houses. During the show’s run, he performed the classic “Song of the Woodman” routine, which he carried out in the 1938 film, Merry-Go-Round of 1938.

Lahr’s first big success was in the stage musical Hold Everything!, which ran from 1928-9. In the show, he played a prizefighter. This performance was followed by roles in other stage musicals, including Flying High (1930), Florenz Ziegfeld’s Hot-Cha! (1932), and The Show is On (1936). In 1939, he worked alongside Ethel Merman as part of the Broadway production of DuBarry Was a Lady.

Bert Lahr YoungA Young Bert Lahr

Lahr’s film debut came in Flying High (1931), in which he reprised his stage portrayal of the show’s aviator character. He then signed with Educational Pictures in New York, which led him to work in a series of two-reel comedies. Once the series ended, Lahr headed to Hollywood to work in feature films. Beyond his role in The Wizard of Oz (1939), he appeared in numerous shorts and typically appeared in musical comedy films. However, none of these films offered him roles that were quite as memorable as the one he executed in The Wizard of Oz. Moreover, his acting style—typically full of broad gestures and overstated reactions—was better suited for the stage.

The Wizard of Oz would be Lahr’s 17th film and called for him to wear a costume composed of lion fur. Under the high-intensity studio lights required of Technicolor, the costume was unbearably hot. Despite this, Lahr crafted many ad-lib lines for his character. In some cases, several takes were required, as other cast members—especially Judy Garland—could not complete the scenes without laughing. Additionally, the Cowardly Lion is the only character in the film to sing two solo numbers—“If I Only Had the Nerve” and “If I Were King of the Forest”.

Bert Lahr as Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz (1939)Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz (1939)

During this time, Lahr wed his second wife, Mildred Schroeder. Lahr’s first wife, Mercedes Delpino, developed mental health problems that led to institutionalization. However, in the early 1930s, Lahr started seeing Schroeder while Delpino was institutionalized. Nonetheless, Lahr still loved Delpino and was reluctant to divorce her. Schroeder left Lahr in 1936 to marry another man but eventually returned to Lahr, who obtained a divorce from Delpino a year later. Lahr and Schroeder would have three children: Herbert, John, and Jane. Though Lahr divorced Delpino, he still loved her and divorced her because her severe mental state made it impossible for her to function in a marriage. When she died in 1965, Lahr did not speak for three days. Schroeder and Lahr remained married until Lahr’s death in 1967.

Lahr soon returned to the theater, co-starring in the U.S. premiere of Waiting for Godot in 1956 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, Florida. According to John Lahr, Bert’s son, the performance was a flop largely because of the director’s choices, including the decision to limit Lahr’s movements on stage. When Lahr reprised his role with a new director on Broadway, Lahr was offered more freedom in his performance. The short-lived Broadway run was more successful than the performances in Miami. In 1960, Lahr won the Best Shakespearean Actor of the Year Award at the American Shakespeare Festival for his appearance as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Later, in 1964, he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his role in Foxy.

Bert Lahr Waiting for Godot (1956)Bert Lahr in Waiting for Godot (1956)

In addition to working in films and on stage, Lahr also appeared on television. He introduced several productions on the air, performed in commercials, in addition to acting in different featurettes.

Lahr was filming The Night They Raided Minsky’s when he died on December 4, 1967. While the newspapers reported that he died of pneumonia due to the damp studio where the film was shot, but he passed away from a hemorrhage and undiagnosed complications from cancer. His completed scenes were left in the film. When Garland heard of his passing, she was about to go on stage in Las Vegas, Nevada. At her performance, she dedicated “Over the Rainbow” to Lahr, referring to him as “my beloved Cowardly Lion.”
Lahr is interred at Union Field Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens County, New York.

Today, there are few places in existence that would have been of relevance to Lahr during his lifetime. According to the 1920 census, the Lahrheim family resided at 1454 Wilkins Ave. in New York City, New York. Here is a shot of the property today:

1454 Wilikins Ave. New York, NY Bert Lahr Residence 1920s1454 Wilkins Ave. in New York City, New York, today

By 1940, Lahr was living at the Waldorf Astoria. Among his fellow residents were Cole and Linda Porter. In 2016, the hotel announced plans for refurbishment and to convert some of the rooms to condominiums. Several rooms would be turned into apartments, while others would remain as hotel suites. The hotel plans to reopen in 2020. In 2017, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to list the interiors of the hotel’s notable public spaces as landmarks, protecting them from any alteration. The hotel is located at 301 Park Avenue, Manhattan, New York City.

Waldorf Astoria, New York, NY 301 Park Ave. Bert Lahr Residence 1940sBert Lahr 1940′s Residence – The Waldorf Astoria

Perhaps the best tribute to Lahr is the Cowardly Lion costume itself. In 2014, the costume sold for over $3 million at the Bonham’s Turner Classic Movies auction. Today, the costume is on display at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington, located at 324 5th Ave N.

Bert Lahr The Wizard of Oz (1939) Cowardly Lion costumeCostume from Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion

Whether you are in New York or in Seattle, you can easily pay tribute to Lahr and one of classic cinema’s most beloved characters.

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–Annette Bochenek for Classic Movie Hub

Annette Bochenek pens our monthly Classic Movie Travels column. You can read all of Annette’s Classic Movie Travel articles here.

Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is a PhD student at Dominican University and an independent scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for Classic Movie Hub, she also writes for Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco SocietyMagazine.

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Ron Hutchinson

Ron Hutchinson

It is with profound sadness that we at Classic Movie Hub share the news of the passing of our friend and colleague, Ron Hutchinson, who lost his battle with cancer this Saturday. Ron was one of our own. As a regular contributor to CMH, Ron provided a wealth of unique expertise in the classic film world. More importantly, Ron was a man of compassion, humanity, integrity, and a true-blue friend. The fact that so few knew he was even sick reflects the type of man he was, as well.

The Vitaphone Project's Ron Hutchinson speaks at TCMFF 2016 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation; photo credit: Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub; (c) Classic Movie HubRon Hutchinson at the 2016 TCM Film Festival in celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone

His preservation, restoration and passionate work in the specialized Vitaphone media was so instrumental, it is impossible not to connect the word Vitaphone to the name Ron Hutchinson. As the founder of the Vitaphone Project and as one the world’s premier film historians, Ron’s unique knowledge has been sourced in over 25 books, documentaries for PBS and TCM, commentary for the DVD boxed set “The Jazz Singer,” and he was an extremely popular presenter of rare Vitaphone shorts at the 2016 TCM Film Festival. As a member of the Classic Movie Hub family, each of Ron’s monthly articles were like unearthed treasures. We felt so lucky when he generously shared his detailed knowledge with us because we knew every contribution came from the best expert available.

In addition to his many friends and fans throughout the classic film community, Ron’s loss is deeply felt by his family. Ron Hutchinson proudly spoke of his children and grandchildren often. Our hearts and condolences go out to you all.

–The Classic Movie Hub Family

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