Sunday, June 22, 2008

Joan Bennett

Joan Geraldine Bennett (February 27, 1910 – December 7, 1990) was born in Palisades Park, New Jersey. Her older sisters were actress Constance Bennett and actress/dancer Barbara Bennett. Joan first appeared in The Valley of Decision in 1916. By age 19, she had been featured in Bulldog Drummond starring Ronald Colman, and opposite George Arliss in the biopic Disraeli (both 1929). Joan's performances were positively received and her career was well underway.

Joan appeared in 23 films from 1930 to 1935, including She Wanted a Millionaire (1932) and Me and My Gal (1932), both with Spencer Tracy, Little Women (1933) with Katherine Hepburn, The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934) with Claude Rains, and The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (1935) opposite Ronald Coleman.

In 1938 Joan changed from blonde to brunette and her screen persona evolved into that of a seductive femme fatale. This change manifested itself most notably in Fritz Lang’s acclaimed The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945). In fact, she made five films for Lang, more that any other American actor or actress who worked with him.

Continuing to work up through the 1980’s, Joan also appeared in 386 episodes of Dark Shadows, receiving an Emmy Award nomination in 1968 for her role as "The Mistress of Collingwood". Joan ultimately appeared or starred in a total of 93 film and television productions.

Joan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Publicity still from Disraeli

Photoplay, September 1930 - Artist: Earl Christy

Motion Picture Classic May 1930 - Artist: Don Reed

Stars of the Photoplay (1930)

Motion Picture September 1933 - From Arizona to Broadway

Undated postcard from France (including the misspelling)

The iconic still from Scarlet Street

Joan Bennett - What do you think - Allure?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Marian Nixon

Marian Nixon was born as Marian Nissinen in Superior, Wisconsin, on October 20, 1904. She began her credited movie career in 1923 with the film Cupid's Fireman, directed by William Wellman. Her talent was such that she was much in demand throughout the twenties and made 39 films prior to 1930. In 1924 Marian (sometimes credited as Marion Nixon) was chosen as a WAMPAS Baby Star, along with then starlets Clara Bow and Dorothy Mackaill. Westerns made up the bulk of her early work and she appeared opposite Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, and Buck Jones. However, by the late twenties she was being featured in comedies and more traditional dramas opposite the likes of Reginald Denny, John Barrymore, Richard Barthelmess, and Al Jolson.

Marian had no problem with the transition to the talkies and appeared in another 33 films, including Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932), Best of Enemies (1933), and We're Rich Again (1934) where she met and married the film's director William Seiter. Marian ended her film career in 1936 and remained married to Seiter until his death in 1964. Interestingly, she married again in 1971 to popular twenties and thirties actor Ben Lyon, the widower of Bebe Daniels.

Marian has a "Star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1724 Vine Street in Los Angeles, California. She died in Los Angeles in 1983.

Handtinted British postcard

Stars of the Photoplay - 1930

Publicity still.

Marian Nixon - What do you think - Allure?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Loretta Young

Loretta was born Gretchen Young in Salt Lake City on January 6, 1913. When she was three years old, her mother took her and her sisters to Hollywood. She was appearing on screen as a child extra by the time she was four, joining her elder sisters, Polly Ann Young and Elizabeth Jane Young, AKA Sally Blane (see Sally Blane post on this blog), as child players.

With seven film appearances behind her, Gretchen Young was rechristened as Loretta Young in the presumably lost The Whip Woman (1928). That same year, at age 14, she co-starred with Lon Chaney in MGM's important film Laugh, Clown, Laugh. The next year, along with sister Sally, she was anointed one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars and was on her way to full-fledged stardom. Between 1930 and 1935 Loretta starred or was featured in 40 films. These include Taxi! (1932) opposite James Cagney, Employees Entrance (1933) with William Warren, Zoo in Budapest (1933), and Shanghai (1935), along side Charles Boyer.

Loretta remained in films throughout the 40's, and reached the pinnacle of her career when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in The Farmer's Daughter (1947). In 1953, Loretta made It Happens Every Thursday, her final screen role. Later that year, she began her own TV series, "Letter to Loretta", and went on to win three Emmy Awards as Best Actress in a TV series.

Loretta died in Los Angeles on August 12, 2000.

Not sure if that's actually a swimming cap, but I like it.

Photoplay, November, 1930 - Artist: Earl Christy

Modern Screen, January 1932

Publicity still from Zoo in Budapest

Publicity still from Shanghai

Movie Stars Parade, Winter 1940

Loretta Young - What do you think - Allure?