Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Marian Marsh

The youngest of four children of German and British parents, Marian Marsh was born Violet Ethelred Krauth in Trinidad on October 17, 1913. During the mid 1920's, Marian's sister Jean (Fenwick) became an East coast based Paramount contract player. She subsequently signed with FBO Pictures in Hollywood and the Krauth family moved to California. It was then Jean helped her younger sister break into pictures. Marian began her film career as Marilyn Morgan, but in 1929 Warners' signed the then 16-year-old, and rechristened her Marian Marsh.

After a slow but promising start, Marian won the female lead in Svengali (1931), Warners' film remake of the play "Trilby". According to Marian, she was tested for the role several times before being selected by Barrymore, apparently because she resembled his wife, Dolores Costello. (See this blog's post on Ms. Costello.) The film was a critical and financial success and Marian was on her way.

She was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1931 and a string of successful films at Warner Bros. followed. These include Five Star Final (1931) with Edward G. Robinson, The Mad Genius (1931), again with John Barrymore, and Beauty and the Boss (1932) with Warren William. However, she and the studio ran afoul of each other and she left Warners' and worked overseas for a couple of years before returning and signing with Columbia. It was there she starred in The Black Room (1935) and Von Sternberg's version of Crime and Punishment(1935). After the two year Columbia contract expired, so did Marian's career with the majors. She continued acting until 1942 when at age 30 she left the business to raise her family. She had appeared in 42 films.

In the 1960's Marian founded Desert Beautiful, a non-profit, all-volunteer conservation organization to promote environmental and beautification programs. "We planted palm trees along the West Coast and were the first to plant palms in the lower valley [Coachella] to Palm Springs. If you want to leave something behind, plant a tree!" she told author Dan Van Neste in a 1998 interview.

Marian died on November 9th, 2006 in Palm Desert, California

The New Movie Magazine, September 1931 - Artist: Rolf Armstrong

Picture Play magazine, January 1932

Undated postcard

There is a great chapter and interview with Marian about her role in Svengali in Gregory William Mank's book "Women in Horror Films, 1930's"

Screen captures from The Black Room. Boris is feeling lucky, Marian is not.

Publicity still
Marian Marsh - What do you think - Allure?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Asides - Smoke 'em If Ya Got'em

Cigarette ads have been a source of magazine revenues since before the turn of the 20th century, and the tobacco companies realized an endorsement from a Hollywood star would be golden. Lucky Strike exploited this like no other brand during the twenties and thirties. The other major brands like Old Gold, Camel, Chesterfield, and Spud were represented in the various movie magazines, but only Lucky Strike regularly featured stars or starlets in their ads. What follows is a sampling of those Hollywood tie-in ads and a couple of others I just think are fun/interesting/bizarre. Click on the images for a larger view - enjoy.

Sally Eilers - Movie Mirror, February 1932
The lower right paragraph notes that Miss Eilers was not paid one cent for this endorsement. I'm wondering of course if wasn't the Fox publicity department that paid The American Tobacco company to feature her.

Edmund Lowe - Photoplay, February 1932
Of possible interest is that Mr. Lowe was also under contract to Fox during this period.

Jean Harlow - Photoplay, March 1932
Jean states: "It's a real delight to find a Cellophane wrapper that opens without an icepick.

John Gilbert - Photoplay, September 1929
John keeps his masculine physique by reaching for a Lucky instead of a sweet.

Lupe Velez - Photoplay, April 1932
This ad appeared on this blog before under a different context.
Lupe seems to like the Cellophane wrapper as well and was not paid for her endorsement either.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. - Photoplay, June 1932
Man, what's with that wrapper, it sounds like all other brands were
impossible to open and that is why people HAD to smoke Luckies.

Some nice lady from Bronxville, NY. - Photoplay, August 1931
She hopes you will consider your Adam's Apple.

The New Movie Magazine - December, 1932
It may just be me, but I think Chesterfield was implying that if males smoke their brand, they will grow to almost twice the size of a normal human, or you will attract very small women.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Joan Crawford - Being Clever

We have featured Joan a few times on this blog, but I thought this four page spread from the Movie Mirror, January 1933, was worth sharing. The spread focuses on Joan's "private life" fashions, and if for nothing else, the line "These are the clothes Joan wears, not in her pictures, but when she is being the clever Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.", makes this post work for me. I'm guessing the distaff readers have similar leisure wardrobes. Enjoy and click on the pictures for a larger view.

Striking a few poses around the house

A bit severe on the left - don't cross her today Doug

It's all about the neckline

Classic Joan

Here is a recently acquired postcard - She looks pretty clever here too.

Joan Crawford - What do you think - Allure?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gwili Andre

Gwili Andre was born Gurli Andresen in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 4, 1908. She got her Hollywood break courtesy of David O. Selznick, who cast her opposite Richard Dix in Roar of the Dragon (1932), her first film. This was followed by Secrets of the French Police (1932). In the NYT review she was characterized as "handsome and quite competent." I should mention that I watched this film earlier this week and would concur. Unfortunately other reviewers and the public weren't particularly impressed with her or either film. Despite the lukewarm reception, she was given support of the studios and was even featured on the cover of the October 1932 issue of The New Movie Magazine. Unfortunately the publicity didn't enhance her popularity. She appeared in only five other films, all in non-starring roles, before giving up her career. Her final role was a minor part in The Falcon's Brother in 1942.

Gwili's death in 1959 was a bizarre suicide fueled by alcoholism and the disillusionment of a promising career that never materialized. Alone in her Venice, California apartment, she gathered together all the publicity stills and promotional material from her early career and set them ablaze, allowing herself to be consumed by the flames. She died later of her injuries.

Photoplay Magazine - February 1933

Screen grabs from Secrets of the French Police.

Movie Mirror Magazine - July 1932

Publicity still from Roar of the Dragon

Publicity Still

Gwili Andre - What do you think - Allure?