Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mystery Guest #3 - And the answer is...

Ok- so the last two mystery guests I posted were solved in less than a day (smart crowd). This one will hopefully be a bit tougher. All I will say right now is that she was only in a few films and in all the magazines I have from the early thirties, I can't find a single mention. The strange thing is, a postcard exists for her and has the MGM insignia on it. The explanation for that may be that her father was a top ranked actor at the time and perhaps held some sway in getting publicity for his daughter. Good Luck.

Sept 1 hint - one of her five films starred John Wayne.

Sept 5 hint - Wayne's film is from 1938 - now that oughta do it. Don't let me down guys!

Sept 7 - see comment number two for more about...Lenore Bushman.

Mystery Guest #3 - What do you think - Allure?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Helen Twelvetrees (Revised August 25)

Born Helen Marie Jurgens in Brooklyn, New York on Christmas day 1908, her career was born after noted artist George Bradshaw Crandall painted a portrait of her which made the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

She met her first husband, Clark Twelvetrees, while both were enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. They both worked on the New York stage but he couldn't get his acting career going and turned to alcohol. They divorced in 1931 and he died seven years later of acute alcoholism following a street brawl.

With her stage experience a big plus, Helen went to Hollywood with a number of other actors to replace the silent stars that could not or would not make the transition to talkies. Named a 1929 WAMPAS Baby Star she quickly signed a contract with Pathé/RKO. For most of her screen career she was cast a woman falling for and defending the wrong men. We recently watched her in Millie (1931) and she was quite good in her role spanning twenty years as innocent single, to happily married, to unhappily married, to happily single, to unhappily single, to a down and out woman on the edge. She left RKO when Selznick brought onboard the more versatile (and younger) Katharine Hepburn and spent the remainder of her screen career as a freelance actress. Helen made 33 films from 1929 to 1939 and then returned to summer stock. She never had a really happy off-screen life and her sudden death in 1958 was pronounced a suicide.

I own no postcard images of Helen, but I scanned these two photos from New Movie Magazine, Sept. 1931 and Hollywood magazine, Oct. 1931.

And this just in (August 25) - received a copy of
New Movie Magazine, April, 1930,
and lo and behold, another lovely picture of Helen.

Helen Twelvetrees - What do you think - Allure?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dorothy Sebastian

Dorothy was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1903. In her youth she hoped to be a dancer and later a film actress. Her family frowned on both ambitions. So she fled to New York at the age of fifteen.

She landed a job with George White's Scandals and then made her way to Hollywood and was ultimately teamed with Joan Crawford and Anita Page for Our Dancing Daughters (1928), and Our Blushing Brides (1930).

Dorothy is probably best remembered today in fan circles for her multi-year love affair with Buster Keaton. The affair was no secret in Hollywood, and possibly negatively affected the type of roles she was offered. However, by 1930 Dorothy wanted to settle down and become "an honest woman". While Buster was away in Europe she met and fell in love with William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy), her co-star in several pictures. After her five year marriage to William ended, Buster and Dorothy got back together for a time, but she finally settled down with her third husband and remained with him until she died.

Dorothy appeared in 61 films from 1925 to 1948. She died in 1957 in Los Angeles.

Dorothy Sebastian - What do you think - Allure?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mary Brian

Mary Brian was born Louise Byrdie Dantzler in Corsicana, Texas, on February 17, 1906. She got her start in pictures when Esther Ralston (on this blog) suggested she be interviewed for a role in Peter Pan (1924), being produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. She got the role, and though she was eighteen, the studio claimed she was only sixteen, figuring the public would think eighteen was too old for the role of Wendy. The studio was also behind the name change to Mary Brian.

Mary was dubbed "The Sweetest Girl in Pictures" and was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1926, along with Mary Astor, Dolores Costello, Joan Crawford, Dolores Del Rio, Janet Gaynor, and Fay Wray, not bad company for a twenty year old just breaking into film. Being a Charlie Chan buff, I always enjoy seeing her as Yvette Lamartine in Charlie Chan in Paris (1935), one of the best of the Chan films in my opinion.

Mary was in over 75 films by the time she retired from the screen in 1947. She then devoted herself to her husband's career; George Tomasini worked as film editor for Hitchcock on the classics Rear Window (1954) and Psycho (1960). Mary died at the age of ninety-six in December of 2002.

Mary Brian - What do you think - Allure?