Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dixie Lee

Dixie Lee (Crosby), was born Wilma Winifred Wyatt in Harriman, Tennessee, on October 4th, 1911. She won a singing contest in Chicago which included a part in a Broadway play. Dixie was soon on her way to Hollywood, and at the age of eighteen was signed to a contract with Fox. She soon met Bing Crosby and after a short courtship, they were married on September 29, 1930. Dixie's film career was short, with just 15 films, and this was partly due to the four children she bore, beginning in 1933 with Gary Crosby, twins in 1934 and another in 1938. Bing's career was also taking off, and she was often left home minding the children while he toured the world. Unfortunately, this led to a drinking problem that contributed to her ill health and death in 1952 at the age of 40. The film Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947) starring Susan Hayward, is said to be loosely based on her life and marriage. Because Dixie was really a singer first, she did make occasional appearances on Bing's radio show. Click here to hear their 1936 duet of A Fine Romance.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Postcard of Fox publicity still

Night Life in Reno (1931)

Manhattan Love Song (1934)

A publicity still from the lost film The Big Party (1930)

Dixie Lee - What do you think - Allure?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Greta Garbo - Second of 5 postings

A bit of Garbo trivia. Greta is pictured on a 37¢ USA commemorative postage stamp issued September 23, 2005, five days after her 100th birthday. On the same day, Sweden issued a 10kr stamp with the same design. The likeness on the stamps was based on a photograph taken during the filming of As You Desire Me(1932).
Garbo quotes and images.
Click on the images for a larger view.

I wish I were supernaturally strong so I could put right everything that is wrong.

Is there anything better than to be longing for something, when you know it is within reach?

Every one of us lives his life just once; if we are honest, to live once is enough.

There are some who want to get married and others who don't. I have never had an impulse to go to the altar. I am a difficult person to lead.

Being a movie star, and this applies to all of them, means being looked at from every possible direction.You are never left at peace, you're just fair game.

Greta Garbo - What do you think - Allure?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Asides - The Twenty Favorite Actresses Meme

Or, more specifically, twenty actresses you will watch, the quality of the film be damned. Not that these women made many clunkers, but I'm easy anyway. This post comes from again being tagged by The Siren (thanks, I think), with whom my list and no doubt several others share some names. I mean, what list doesn't include Edna May Oliver. My criteria is they make me laugh or cry or think or take a cold shower ( a couple fill all those in one "package"). So in no particular order, and with apologies to the few hundred other actresses I also admire or adore, here goes:

Marion Davies

Anita Page

Bette Davis

Claire Trevor

Gene Tierney
I must add here that this frame is from Leave Her To Heaven and the Technicolor in this scene on the train is stunning.

Edna May Oliver

Ida Lupino

Gloria Graham

Barbara Stanwyck

Marie Dressler

Anna May Wong

Kay Francis

Joan Crawford
Note that I kept Joan and Bette separated - its just safer that way.

Toby Wing

Elsa Lanchester

Bebe Daniels

Katherine Hepburn

Greta Garbo

Myrna Loy

Ann Sheridan

and number 21...

All the uncredited bathing beauties, chorus girls, and dancers of silver screen.

PS - The meme originated at The Film Experience.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Greta Garbo - First of 5 postings

We all know her full name, but to fans and the general public from the twenties through today, it is simply Garbo. No other actresses so quickly garnered the attention that grew around Garbo. Some thought her too aloof, others worshipped her on screen presence and performances, all wanted more information about her private life than she was willing to share, and time has not lessened the enigma that continues to fascinate to this day. Those who want her biography need only enter Garbo into their search engine.

This series of posts will simply contain images of Garbo along with quotes she made throughout her career. I should add that when I post images of actresses from our postcard collection, I often pick the images I feel are the most alluring based on my own bias. In Garbo's case, none were deselected.

Click on the images for a larger view.

I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference.

I'm afraid of nothing except being bored.

There is no one who would have me - I can't cook.

Life would be so wonderful if we only knew what to do with it.

Movie Mirror, December 1931 - Artist: John Ralston Clarke

Greta Garbo - What do you think - Allure?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lucille Lund

Born June 3rd, 1913, in Buckley, Washington, Lucille Lund (her real name) studied drama at Chicago's Northwestern University. She won a nationwide contest for ''most beautiful college coed'' in 1933 and the title included a small acting contract with Universal Studios. Lucille went to Hollywood and made her film debut that year in Horseplay, a slapstick comedy starring Slim Summerville, followed by Saturday's Millions, a football film starring Robert Young. Horseplay was released June 1, two days before Lucille's twentieth birthday.

In 1934 she would appear in six productions, including the film for which she is best remembered, The Black Cat, starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The role got her noticed and selected as a WAMPAS Baby Star. Note that it would be the last year that "WAMPAS" selected actresses for that title. Unfortunately, prior to The Black Cat, Lucille had to rebuff Carl Laemmle Jr.'s advances and this didn't sit well with his cronies and she found herself in Pirate Treasure, a decidedly B serial.

When she did shoot The Black Cat, director Edgar G. Ulmer proved a tyrant and sadist, perhaps at Laemmle's urging, and once left Lund hanging in her glass casket while the company and crew went off to lunch. Lucille said it almost killed her. Suffice it to say she left Universal soon after, but little success followed and in 1937 she got married, started a family and after 30 appearances had her last film role in 1939's Charlie Chase comedy short, The Awful Goof. Lucille would continue acting in commercials well into her 50s, but otherwise disappeared from the Hollywood scene.

Lucille died at the age of 88 in Rolling Hills Ca, of natural causes.

Publicity stills

Scenes from The Black Cat

The Black Cat, 1934 - Universal
Kiss and Make-Up, 1934 - Paramount
Prison Shadows, 1936 - Mercury Pictures
Blake of Scotland Yard, 1937 - Victory Pictures

Lucille Lund - What do you think - Allure?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Marian Marsh - Winterizing

You can learn about Marian Marsh from the initial post here. Highlighting fashion seems to be popular and so I thought with winter just around the corner, the pictorial of Marian shopping the Big Apple, as presented in the December 1931 issue of New Movie Magazine, would be an appropriate post. Marian is just 18 here, but looks every bit the sophisticate.
Click on images for a larger view.

On the Street

In the penthouse

If the LPGA members dressed like this, I might just tune in.
New Movie Magazine - September 1931

Marian Marsh - What do you think - Allure?

Asides - A Few Notes

I am happy to report that the site saw its 50,000th visitor yesterday, a Californian, reviewing the June Lang post. Thanks to everyone who has dropped by, it makes doing the blog even more rewarding.

Also, I recently got involved with, a not-for-profit organization whose volunteers work on restoring photographs damaged as a result of natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina. Some 1300 people are helping to restore the photos and precious memories for those who lost so much. If you are a Photoshop or other digital imaging program user with a degree of skill in retouching and restoration, you might want to take a look at the site and see if volunteering works for you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Asides - The Alphabet Meme

So...Here I was ready to put up a fashion post on Marian Marsh, when lo and behold, I was tagged by The Self Styled Siren to participate in a meme. The Siren herself was tagged by Cinema Viewfinder's Tony Dayoub, who it seems was first tagged by this meme's originator at Blog Cabins.

The rules are simple - an alphabetical listing of films from A-Z. This is also an impossible task as far as I was concerned, because I immediately felt guilty about films that wouldn't make the list. How could I list Rififi and not Rashomon, or Casablanca and not Cinema Paradiso. Well, I came up with my own less guilt ridden approach that narrowed itself to two criteria. First, in keeping with this blog's primary theme of actresses of the 30's, I decided all the films would have to come from that decade. Secondly, I would have to have a copy of each film. Using those parameters, a perfect score would be 52, and I came up just one short. All the films are from the 30's (26 points) and I have all but one, X Marks The Spot (25 points). I do have the 1942 version of X Marks The Spot with a nineteen year old Anne Jeffreys. You can have it to if you go to

I would like to thank the Siren, who thought to include me in the meme. If for some reason you are not aware of the Siren's blog, you will only want to visit if you are interested in insightful, in-depth, witty, and well written film criticism and commentary.

Adventure In Manhattan 1936
Baby Face 1933
City Streets 1931
Dancing Lady 1933
Employees Entrance 1933
Flesh 1932
Gay Divorcee 1934
Half Naked Truth 1932
I Am Suzanne 1933
Jewel Robbery 1932
Kept Husbands 1931
Ladies They Talk About 1933
Madam Satan 1930
Night Court 1932
Old Dark House, The 1932
Parachute Jumper 1933
Queen Christina 1933
Reckless 1935
Safe in Hell 1931
They Call It Sin 1932
Undersea Kingdom 1936
Vampire Bat 1933
Waterloo Bridge 1931
X Marks The Spot 1931
You Can't Take It with You 1938
Zorro Rides Again 1937
All U.S. releases

Oh yes, one more rule. The "he/she who is tagged" is supposed to tag five more folks to join the meme. The problem is, those I would have tagged have already been tagged. So if you want to join in, please do so, on your blog, comments here, or though Self Styled Siren or Blog Cabins.

Oh, and trust me, not all the films in my list are "required" viewing.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Boots Mallory

Patricia "Boots" Mallory was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 13, 1913. After playing banjo in a all-girl band at the age of twelve and then spending a few years as a vaudeville dancer, she relocated to New York City, where she received recognition in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931. Her Ziegeld exposure fostered her move to Hollywood. She was soon put under contract to Fox and was cast as the female lead in Walking Down Broadway, Erich Von Stroheim's first sound film directorial and screenwriting assignment.

The film, based on a Dawn Powell play, told the story of a young unmarried pregnant woman. The finished film, however, strongly suggested a lesbian relationship between Boots' character and the character played by ZaSu Pitts, one of Von Stroheim's favorite actresses. Other sexual themes were also considered too daring. As a result, Fox brought in director Alfred L. Werker to make drastic cuts. Stroheim's length of 14,000 feet was cut to 5800 in the released version, which included all the new footage shot. The film was finally released as Hello, Sister! (1933) to little fanfare and lackluster reviews. Von Stroheim's original version was neither copyrighted nor released, and is considered lost.

Stills from the Von Stroheim version of Walking Down Broadway.

Here is Stroheim's take on the situation.

"Sol Wurtzel, one of the chief moguls at Fox, did not understand the story or picture. After it was finished, he had it rewritten, remade and rebaptized. It came out as Hello Sister!—a B picture. Sol Wurtzel wanted to prove to Winnie Sheehan that his [Sheehan's] judgment had been wrong in engaging me to direct during Wurtzel's absence. I happened to be in the middle of a feud between them."

Once again, Stroheim got the short end of the stick, and this is a film he brought in under budget!

This ad appeared in the February 1933 edition of Movie Classic, but by May, Von Stroheim's name was gone and Hello, Sister! hit the theaters.

Handle with Care (1932) was Boots' second film, and marked her debut since the altered and renamed Walking Down Broadway (Hello, Sister!) didn't release until a year later. Handle With Care was well received and Boots was named a WAMPAS Baby Star of 1932. Then in May 1933 Hello, Sister! was released to negative reviews and her career flattened. Over the next few years, she played the lead in several "B" pictures, including the Rin Tin Tin serial The Wolf Dog (1933), Carnival Lady (1934) and Here's Flash Casey (1938). She made her final film appearance in an uncredited role in the Laurel and Hardy's Swiss Miss (1938).

Boots Mallory was first married at the age of sixteen, and by 1932 had married her second husband, actor, producer William Cagney, brother of James Cagney. In 1947 she married Herbert Marshall and remained with him until her death in Santa Monica, California in 1958.

New Movie Magazine - January 1933

Boots Mallory - What do you think - Allure?