Sunday, August 30, 2009

Asides - Never Say Never

"Never say never, for if you live long enough, chances are you will not be able to abide by its restrictions. Never is a long, undependable time, and life is too full of rich possibilities to have restrictions placed upon it." - Gloria Swanson

This expression was first recorded in Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers (1837), but Gloria perhaps was offering advice to her fellow actors and actresses.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Here is the March, 1933 issue of Movie Classic magazine (cover artist Marland Stone) , featuring the cover story "No Marriage For Me" Say Ten Women Stars." To be fair, the articles states that for some, it may be a possibility in the far far distant future. So, how well did it work out?

Dorothy Peterson - Never married (can't confirm)
Tala Birelli - Never married
Constance Cummings - Once (July 1933 - 4 months after publication)
Lupe Velez - Once (October 1933 - 8 months after publication)
Dorothy Jordan - Twice (May 1933 -2 months after publication)
Anita Page - Twice
Mary Brian - Twice
Maureen O'Sullivan - Twice
Sylvia Sidney - Three times
Myrna Loy - Four times

Publicity still - Consolation Marriage (1931).
Myrna knew the possible trials and tribulations through this film, said no to marriage in the article, but...I wonder if after each marriage she said, "never again."

Two earlier cautionary marriage tales.

Publicity still - Married Alive (1927) with Margaret Livingston
This is actually a comedy.

Publicity still - Trial Marriage (1929)
That is Thelma Todd on the left.

On the ironic cover of the Movie Classic, October 1931, two stories are featured.
First, "Mary (Pickford) and Doug (Fairbanks Jr.) Will Never Be Divorced!", and secondly, "Will Buddy Rogers Rival Rudy Vallee?" Of course the answer is that Buddy will not rival Rudy, but six years later, he will marry Mary after she divorces Doug. Oops.

I'll never do another post about this.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bernice Claire

Born Bernice Janighen in Oakland, California, in 1907, by the time she reached high school age, Bernice had realized her voice and took to the stage performing light opera. She possessed a remarkably clear and pure coloratura voice and had no difficulty singing demanding roles. Bernice soon met leading singer Alexander Gray while performing in an operetta and they began to tour across the country, garnering high praise.

When Jack Warner offered a screen test to Gray, Alexander asked Bernice if she would perform a duet with him for the test. Warner Brothers not only signed Gray, but gave Bernice leading roles in several musicals, three co-starring Gray. Together they became the screen's first operetta team, predating Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy. Bernice's first screen appearance was in No, No, Nanette (1930), as Nanette. That show includes the standards "Tea for Two" and "I Want to be Happy". She next appeared in Spring is Here (1930) where she sang "With a Song in My Heart". Song of the Flame (1930) was her third and final pairing with Gray in a full length feature. BTW, all three films had portions filmed in two color technicolor. The same year also yielded Top Speed with Joe E. Brown and featured musical numbers. However, by the end of 1930 audiences were tiring of filmed operettas, so Warner Brothers tried her in dramatic parts; not a good fit. Claire made a number of musical shorts up through the late thirties (some again with Gray), and then moved to radio and appeared with many prestigious orchestras. In 1934 Bernice appeared on Broadway at the St. James theater for a short lived run of "The Chocolate Soldier".

When her first husband died, Bernice felt unable to continue performing. Bernice and her second husband stayed out of the public eye, but during the 1970's and 80's she was honored by local film societies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bernice died at age 96 in Portland Oregon.

Click on the images for a larger view.
Stars of the Photoplay - 1930. Two years were subtracted from her age.

No, No Nanette ad in Screen Secrets magazine, April 1930

A two page fashion spread from Photoplay, October 1930

"With A Song In My Heart" from Spring is Here
Here we see Lawrence Gray, not related to Alexander, but both were courting Bernice in this film.

Publicity still with Alexander Gray.

Publicity still

Bernice Claire - What do you think - Allure?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Asides - Having A Wonderful Time

In 1926, when Uncle Cyrus and Aunt Sarah decided to take a trip to Hollywood, they might have sent you a postcard. However, they went one better and sent one of those fancy postcard folders to better show you just how much you were missing.

The postcard folder shown here was published in the mid-twenties. Enjoy.
Click on the images for a larger view.

The front and back folder covers.

The inside cover.

Seemingly no energy concerns in 1926.

Food and lodging.

Universal city.

The daytime look at the Bowl and several studios.

Aimee Semple McPherson's temple. By early 1926 McPherson had become one of the most charismatic and influential persons of her time.

At least while you are sitting at home because Cyrus didn't think you were old enough to withstand the temptations of Hollywood, you can thumb through the latest issue of Movie Magazine and peruse what new film you want to see at the Palace.

Movie Magazine, March 1926 - Artist: Leo Sielke, Jr.

The first Braveheart looks like something you might enjoy.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lilyan Tashman

Lilyan Tashman was born in Brooklyn, New York, the tenth sibling in the family. Lilyan's birth date is always listed as October 23, but as either 1896 or 1899. She attended the Girl's High School in Brooklyn, during which time she did freelance modeling. By 1914 she was on the vaudeville circuit, appearing with Eddie Cantor and others. Eventually Lilyan, like so many future film actresses, did a turn in Ziegfeld's Follies. Subsequent Broadway shows didn't further her career however, and she decided to try her hand at film.

Lilyan's film debut was small role in the Richard Barthelmess film Experience (1921). Her second appearance was in Mabel Normand's Head Over Heels (1922). Feeling film was her future, she and Edmund Lowe, her soon to be husband, relocated to Hollywood in 1924.

Hollywood liked her, and Lilyan was in five films in 1924, including Manhandled, starring Gloria Swanson, and Is Love Everything?, starring ill-fated Alma Rubens. Variety said of Lilyan in 1924's Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model (what a title) that she "does a loose lady vamp in a manner that registers as to the manner born." She appeared in another ten films in 1925, including Ports of Call with Edmund Lowe co-starring. They married on September 1, 1925. From then till the talkies, Lilyan was in another 20 plus films and became relied upon as a solid supporting player, with an occasional lead role to boot. From 1930 till her death in 1934, Lilyan appeared in another 22 films, including One Heavenly Night (1931), Up Pops the Devil (1931), Millie (1931), Those We Love (1932), Wine Women and Song (1933), and Riptide (1934).

Though she successfully hid her illness from the public, those in the industry knew she was not well. Lilyan died of abdominal cancer on March 21, 1934.

Click on the images for a larger view.

A publicity still from 1929's New York Nights

Stars Of The Photoplay, 1930 edition

Photoplay, October 1931

Photoplay, February 1932 - two page fashion spread.

New Movie Magazine, January 1932

Movie Classic, June 1933

Motion Picture magazine, October 1933

Modern Screen, November 1933

Frame grabs from Millie, one of the few films featuring Lilyan that is readily available.

"In Memoriam" from Picture Play, June 1934

Lilyan Tashman - What do you think - Allure?