Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Metropolitan Museum of Goodwill - 2nd in a series.

We continue to peruse my art collection:


As the bungalow isn't nearly as grand, or require nearly as much upkeep as Chateau Thombeau,  I require a much smaller Board Of Directors.  And times being tight, they also double as the Felix In Hollywood House Band.

Sunday, Sunday.



Pick a favorite. Tell us why.



Peppermint Rainbow 1968


Spanky & Our Gang 1968

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Design For Dreaming

So, you like classic cars?
You like futuristic kitchens?
You like pretty evening gowns?
You like singing and dancing?
You like pretty girls who look like Carolyn Jones?
You like when the boy and girl ride off into the future in the end?


Well then this may just be the movie for you!!!!!!






You might find it easier to download by going directly HERE.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Peacock Blue and White



Correctly.



Contestant number one is this pert and spunky little '56 Thunderbird in it's original condition.  Always a classic.



Incorrectly.



Contestant number two, however, is this modified '76 Caddy.  Extended front quarter panels (acting as horse blinders to the headlights), the 'I've got a cool idea' reintroduction of fins, and the slapping on of Continental style rear tire cover, make this car one hot mess.  It looks like a middle aged former chic beauty that a reversal of fortune has caused to go to a cut-rate plastic surgeon and get some really bad work.   A Car and Driver version of a 'Glamor Don't' if there ever was one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wind Me Up Chuck!

As I've mentioned before, I'm from the DC area. But let's get real. Prince Georges County, Maryland. Out Anacostia, through Marlow Heights, and Temple Hills and into Clinton. Clinton, Md. And if you were to go a couple of towns further, you'd be in Waldorf. And Waldorf is home to one of the baddest cats there ever was.
Chuck Brown, The Godfather of Go Go!


 

Go Go music is a genre that Chuck gave birth to in DC in the Seventies and perfected in the Eighties. He topped the R&B charts in '78 with "Bustin' Loose" and again a couple years later with "We Need Money". Grace Jones used DC Go Go players on the "Slave To The Rhythm" album. Everybody thought this Go Go thing was gonna take off and be the next big national genre, but somehow it never happened. Perhaps it's because the style isn't really built for mass consumption, or even a recorded format. It's an intimate, in-the-moment experience, and it's a party. It happens in a club or an armory. Chuck and the band play a 2-3 hour set without stopping.  There's a 'shout out list' that people sign up on and while the music's going he communicates constantly with the audience (who, by the way, are dancing their asses off the whole time).  He shouts out that so and so from Howard University is in the house.  Such and such from the S.E. projects is in the house.  This ones having a birthday.  That one needs to behave herself!  All the while that beat is constant as he slips in and out of riffs and melodies that might be anything from Harlem Nocturne, to the Woody Woodpecker theme.

Now, how you gonna capture, bottle and market that!  No matter, Chuck is a God.  He has inspired and mentored countless local musicians and bands:  Rare Essence, Trouble Funk, The Junkyard Band.  One of the biggest Go Go hits to date was "Da Butt"  from Spike Lee's "School Daze" soundtrack by EU (formerly Experience Unlimited) who were Chuck's proteges.

Charles Louis Brown was born in 1934, the son of share croppers.  He had had enough of school after 7th grade.  He was a church preacher from ages 11-13.  He was a thief who did 8 years in Lorton Reformitory in Virginia.  It was there that he got his High School diploma and there that for the price of 5 cartons of cigarettes, got a guitar made for him.



I'll let the man himself pick up the story from there:







In Aug. of last year, this ex-con got a street named after him (Chuck Brown Way) in DC. Because of Chuck and his Go Go beat, it's not unusual to walk around DC (and other cities, for that matter) and see this:



I'm so proud to claim a hometown kinship with Chuck Brown - a man of renown.

Here's a sample of one of those 3 hour tours.

It's Boogie Woogie Wednesday!




You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rolls With The Punches

If you didn't know me, and I showed you the picture below, would there be any question in your mind as to where I lived?




 
 Strip Mall Rolls


LA, I love it 'cause I can't afford to leave it!
Oh, and of course the Rolls had a handicap placard.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tick Tock Sweetie.

Thanksgiving night of 1985 was the night I found out that Cyndi was a whole lot more than just some girl who wanted to have fun!




video

Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Even C-Note.



Welcome To My 100th Post!




To celebrate I'm initiating the first in a series of posts featuring my art collection.  This humors me as most everything in my little cottage has been found in thrift shops.  There are a few pieces that have been given to me by the Artists, but mostly it is the Hollywood National Museum of Goodwill.

To start with let's look at the one thing I have that was handed down from the family.  In 1974 we went up to spend a long weekend at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Brielle, NJ.  They had a beautiful home with a swimming pool so we were dressed in swimming togs for most of the weekend.  At some point my Dad took a picture of my Mother.  Later, back in Maryland he took the snapshot to painter and commissioned a painting of it.  The guy did a wonderful job; it looks just like the original photo.  My Mother was 41 at the time and enjoying a period in which she was at the height of her looks.  She is wearing her favorite black velvet bikini with gold metal fastenings.

The painting is all at once very cheesy and terribly fabulous.  My Mother and I had an extremely difficult relationship.  Enmeshed and unhealthy.  But when I look at this picture, I am reminded that Dee could at times be a fine and fun gal!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tales Of The Village

**Title made with apologies to Armistead Maupin.

Not unlike Mary Ann Singleton's entry through the golden gates into a wild 1970s San Francisco, I was launched into an equally mad Los Angeles in 1986.  And I was just as naive, excited and green as she was.

A few weeks in I had first tricked with, and then become friends with a guy named Gene.  He was a fast talking wheeler-dealer on the periphery of the music business.  He and a friend Darryl (an absolute sweetheart, who owned the L.A. Deejay's record pool) cooked up an idea to launch the comeback (?) of a minor 70s disco singer.  They were going to produce a dance track written by a third friend.  Gene finagled a few days of studio time (to be paid on the back end) with the proviso that they work at night when the studio was free.  I was invited to tag along as a mascot of sorts and, for the first time, walked through a green door into a magical land called The Village Recorder.

 
  

I entered my first recording session to quite a disappointing surprise:  a small room with one guy and a computer.  Where where the horns!  Where were the strings!  Where were the three black chicks!  There was the engineer (who Gene talked into working at half rate) mixing synthesized instrumental tracks.  The next night was show time.  The singer was coming in to do the vocals.  Now we're talking, I thought. I was very excited, that is until about 3:30 in the morning.  The glamorous singing part was long done and they had been editing and mixing for about three hours now, which seemed to be a process of playing about 5 seconds of tape at a time about a hundred times in a row.  I walked out into the hallway and into the main lobby.  Dead.  We were the only people in the building.  I walked back into the studio and before I got to the control booth, the big leather couch in the lounge caught my eye.  I stretched out on it.  The TV was on but muted and the sounds from the booth were faint.  All of the sudden I was aware that I had never before (or since)  felt so enveloped, safe and cradled as I did in that moment.  There is a vibe in that building that is like nowhere else, and I fell into a deep delicious sleep.

I suppose I don't need to tell you that the project went nowhere quick.  But 'never say die' Gene had another idea up his sleeve.  He managed to talk himself into a sales job at the studio, with me as his assistant.  We were given a couple of desks and phones.  He would bring music acts into the studio and get a commission off the booking, and the Village would give us a salary draw against those commissions.  Well they paid the salaries alright and the also paid the expenses for all our lunch meetings, but after 3 months when no bookings materialized, Gene was given the gate and I stayed on.  For the next year and a half.  I was given a newly created position as the manager of digital recording equipment rentals.  

The Village Recorder was started in 1968 by Geordie Hormel, heir to the Hormel Meat Company.  It was lovingly referred to as "The House That Spam Built".  Geordie was the musical prodigy black sheep of the family.  In the early 50s he was married to Leslie Caron for a few years and he composed incidental cue music for the TV shows, The Fugitive, Lassie, Naked City, Rin Tin Tin, Wanted Dead or Alive, Ozzie & Harriet and The Untouchables and others.  By the mid sixties he had tuned in and turned on and so, logically, he bought a 22,000 sq. ft. former Masonic Temple in West LA to do his music projects in.  And he really did intend it just to be his own big playhouse. 

On the second floor there was a huge auditorium with a red velvet curtained stage.  On Saturdays he let the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi use it and the Los Angeles Transcendental Meditation movement was born there. (When I first worked there with Gene our desks were thrown haphazardly into the back of that auditorium.)  As he was building the place out he had, I am told, roughly a dozen secret doors and hallways honeycombed through the place.  I only ever found two.

Slowly but surely, musician friends of his began to hang out and a rock and roll salon was formed.  Takin' drugs, talkin' rock and playin' music.  They also asked if they could bring work there, and finally in '72 when a group of top flight studio musicians decided to do a group project there under the name Steely Dan, it was on.  Geordie gave in to the realization that he owned a commercial recording facility.

I don't care who you are or what kind of music you like, you have owned albums that were born in that building.

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO.....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's Like Heaven Everyday.

I you happen (like me) to be a fan of old cars, we're talking pre 1980, it is a treat to live in Los Angeles where deliciousness can be spotted daily.

My dear friend Charlie (from whom you will hopefully be hearing more soon) and I will always phone a report to one another and it usually goes like this:

Ring Ring


Me (looking at caller ID) : "Hello Gwendolyn"  (I try to come up with a different name each time)


Charlie:  "Fairfax, between 3rd and 4th, '67 Tempest, 327, white with blue interior."


Me:  "Oooo."


Charlie:  "Talk to ya later."


Me: "K, bye."


So Today's Report:

Santa Monica Blvd.  between San Vincente and Robertson, '69 black on black on black
Mercury Marauder X100!




In addition to being a sexy beast this was a big mother.  A full sized  Personal Luxury brand that shared much of it's front end styling with the Mercury Marquis.  My favorite styling quirk about the X100 is that it came with Mag wheels and fender skirts.  Mags and fender skirts together is sort of like Angelina Jolie in a Butte Knit shift!  But this thing came with a stock 429!  If you don't know what that means, it basically means that it will get you to the next gas station really, really fast.


Oh, and there was a really hot guy driving it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bowling With The Stars

My very first post on this blog mentioned the original Warner Bros. lot on the corner of Bronson Avenue and Sunset Blvd.  A couple of posts later, I talked about it again.  I realized yesterday, as this blog turned two months old (can it really only be that long!) that I've kinda neglected the subject of this little lot.  So it's time to reach into Felix's magic bag of 'Hollywood Stories Of Old':

So, this was the Admin. Building that fronts on Sunset back in the day:



And this is how it looks today:




Except for the tall iron fence fence around it, not much difference, right?  Ah, but there was another incarnation for over 15 years, starting in 1938.  Ya ready?  Okey Dokey:



What the....did you read what it said on the front?  Yes my darlings, it became the Sunset Bowling Center in 1938 and bloody well stayed that way until Paramount Television bought the lot in '54.  What's more, some of the sound stages became badminton and volleyball courts!

The story goes a little somethin' like this:
As early as 1924  The Bros. realized the leverage to be gained by the use of the new fad of radio as a promotional tool for their pictures, and started the first radio station affiliated with a film company.  In 1930, now the recognized leader in the Talkie revolution, and wanting to market recordings of music from their pictures, they bought the radio and records division of Brunswick.  This was also the year that the filming and executive functions had moved, pretty much lock stock and barrel, to the old First National lot in the Valley.  So by '38, outside of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and maybe an occaisional industrial, not much was happening on the old Sunset lot.  Oh, by the by, in the interim, Warner sister Rose had married a guy who was an Exec with the Brunswick Billiards and Bowling equipment division.  And so you see, sometimes 2 and 2 really do equal 4.

The Sunset Bowling Center had 52 lanes; the largest in the world at the time.  It understandably became very popular with the film technicians' bowling leagues and in it's heyday it boasted 10,000 visitors through it's doors every day.



While We're Talking Brunswick

I ran across the industial sales film for Brunswick below.  It's long (like 12 or 13 minutes) but even if you don't want to hang for the whole thing watch a few minutes of it.  Never have I seen such a gorgeous presentation of the Populuxe style:






If for any reason it doesn't download, go here

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Imagine.

For years, about 42 actually, the name Yoko Ono has been a part of my consciousness.  And like many others I had thought she was a whack job.  I mean she broke up the Beatles, right?  Then there were the recordings.  The unending sound of a fly, "Don't Worry Kyoko", etc.  You call that music?  She made art that I didn't understand.

This week, in 1972, she and John spent a week as the co-hosts of the Mike Douglas show.  For those who don't know or don't remember:  Douglas had an afternoon chat show that was taped in Philadelphia and syndicated, through Group W, across the US.  His gimmick was that every week he would have a guest as the co-host for the entire week.  That guest would have a say in who about half of the appearances would be, and Douglas (or rather his segment producers and talent bookers) would choose the other half.  So on Valentines week of '72 John and Yoko came to Philly.

Douglas, for his part was a total gentleman and a sport.  It was clear that he didn't really understand what they were all about, but many times he came to their defense to the Shecky Green's of the world, in order for them to be able to have their say.  The couple assembled quite a crazy quilt of guests for that week in '72,  a young comedian named George Carlin, the safe and palatable Chuck Berry, Ralph Nader, Black Panthers, Macrobiotic chefs and so on.

On the first day, Yoko initiated two different 'art pieces' that lasted throughout the week.  For the first she presented a blank canvas and asked every guest to draw a little doodle or picture and sign their name.  At the end of the week it was sold and the money was donated to charity.  The second, she had a delicate china teacup that was smashed, and each day she, Mike and John would each glue one piece back on, so that buy the end of the week it was once again whole and usable.  Perhaps the most cringe inducing endeavor of all, (outside of her vocalizing) was the 'performance piece' in which they would take a name randomly from the phone book, call the unsuspecting sole up and tell them that they loved them and asked them to pass it on.  Her point:  if everyone watching would do this daily, by the end of a year, the whole world would know that they were loved.

Many will say that Yoko Ono one of the founders of the Performance Art movement.  She was producing live "happenings" in New York at the end of the 1950's.  One of her most famous pieces involved her sitting on the stage and inviting the audience members to each come up and cut away a piece of her clothing until the unmasked Yoko was revealed to them.  And somehow over the years my opinion of her has changed.  Maybe it was when I bought her 1985 album "Starpeace" and found it was good and that I liked it.  Or maybe it was the explosion of Performance Art that happened in the '80s and early '90s.  The performances that I saw or read about usually seemed to involve flinging fecal matter or AIDs tainted blood at the audience.  And lots of indignant yelling.

And so it seems that all Performance Art involves the element of shock.  But while theirs was about separation, hers was about unity.  Theirs was designed to make the audience feel shame, revulsion and disgust while hers made one feel, whole and useful.

My favorite piece of hers (which I believe is still in her home)  is two chairs and a table, on top of which is a complete chess board and chess set.  And everything is painted white.  Brilliant.  How would the battle commence if there were no 'sides'.

Now, through the magical mysteries of age and perspective, I have concluded that Yoko was right.  All along.  And in thanks to her, I will briefly unmask and say, Happy Valentines Day, this is Philip Mershon and I'm blogging to say, 'I love you'.  Pass it on.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Harry And The Lavender Blond.



For Harry Cohn it was a little embarrassing,  back in '48 he'd signed Marilyn for six months and she'd made "Ladies Of The Chorus".  Yeah, she'd bend over in his office to get the contract, but after the movie, she wouldn't spend the weekend on his yacht with him, so out she went.

Now five years later she was Miss-Big-Fuckin'-Movie-Star.  At Fox.  Oh sure he still had Rita, but you couldn't trust that broad.  She was always marrying the wrong men.  When he first found her she was married to a wrong guy.  When that ended there was that Welles schmuck.  Mister-Boy-Genius for crissake.  Now it's this big deal, Aly Kahn.  And when Hayworth is in love, movies can kiss her ass.

Well Harry didn't like not getting what he wanted, and he didn't like having Monroe egg on his face.  It was time to fix things.

The throne room at Columbia Pictures resounded with the whoosh of an outsized riding crop swung in anger. Scepter in hand, striding before two rows of Oscars at stiff attention behind his vast desk, Columbia's stubby and balding Boss Harry Cohn fumed with the king-sized wrath of the last Hollywood despot who still runs the studio he built. The year was 1953, the object of his wrath Rita Hayworth, Columbia's reigning love goddess; Rita had flounced out and left the studio with a costly stack of properties bought just for her. Before Cohn's desk, underlings watched the riding crop and awaited the great man's edict. If the studio only had another big female star, he grumbled, she could be used to bludgeon Hayworth into submission, or, if it came to that, to take over her roles in the scheduled pictures. Then Cohn announced his decree: "We will make a star."   -   Time Magazine Jul. 29, 1957

He already had her.  Marilyn Pauline Novak had already been screen tested and signed to a seven year contract.  Though she was Czech, Harry was addicted to the practice of referring to her as 'that fat Polack broad'.  She was a raw lump of clay for Harry to mold, his way.  Her biggest exposure to date had been a national tour as Miss Deep Freeze for Thor Freezers.  She needed to loose ten pounds and start wearing a bra for crissakes!  She would take acting lessons which, of course, would come out of her pocket.  And once she was renamed, plucked, groomed, dyed, made up and corseted, look out all you bastards at Fox.



Yeah, Harry was feeling much better already.  And once her star was launched and established, Harry, never one to pass credit around, said, "If you wanna bring me your wife or your aunt, we'll do the same for them."

But you know it's true, sometimes blonds do have more fun, or at least the last laugh.


 Novak at Harry Cohn's Funeral
on the Columbia lot, Mar. 2, 1958

She's So Fine, Hare Rama.

She seems to keep coming up lately.  And it's fine with me.

I just came back from a refreshing visit to Chateau Thomeau where Our Thom has posted a glorious Nina Hagen clip.  The best way I can think to say thank you is to follow suit.  Please do enjoy:


Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh What A Night!

I'm still on the psychic and psychological mend from last nights festivities.

The Place:  The Lethal House.

The Hosts:  Donna Lethal and Little Lord Chesteroy.

The Menu:  Pizza (two pies! one cheese, one pepperoni.) Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes with Mansfield-Pink sprinkles on top.

The Event:  Gala Screening of "The Wild Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield".

 

The Guest List:  (in alphabetical order)

Dave Ehrlich of the blogs:  Monstruos Calientes, A Charles A Day, and Eat This Grenade!

Mark  (Pantheon Zeus) contributor of Celluloid Slammer and Douchebag or No Douchebag.

Scott Michaels of Find A Death and Find A Grave.  And when you come to LA, you must take his 

Lawrence Snelly wonderful artist.

and me.

About the film, I can't say it any better Something Weird, the company that puts out the DVD:

Look out world, it's Jayne's planet and she's on the prowl in The Wild Wild World of Jayne Mansfield, a mondo-style celebration of all things Mansfield and, hands down, The Single Most Inane (and Insane) Documentary Ever Made! With footage of Jayne shot circa 1964, augmented with her bare-breasted nude scenes from Promises, Promises, padded out with such hilariously faked non-Jayne footage as goofy gays on the streets of Paris and the L.A. "topless craze!" and capped off with a ghoulish ending so colossally wrong that it can still make audiences gasp, this combination travelogue / cinematic acid trip is so loony tunes that it's practically legendary. "Hi, I'm Jayne Mansfield!" says a breathless soundalike since Jayne was quite dead by the time this was assembled. "For the next couple of hours, I'd like you to come along with me! I want you to share some of the wild way-out experiences I had during my last trip around the world!" See: Jayne strutting around Rome and being surrounded by MICKEY HARGITAY and other musclemen at the Park of Gladiators: "I would have given anything to have been at an ancient Roman party! Most of the time they turned into orgies!" See: Jayne in a fountain at the Cannes Film Festival: "Oh, what a girl has to do for her career!" See: Jayne visiting the nudist colony at the Isle of Levant and splashing in water like a damn fool: "l hope nobody sees me like this! It's alright for a movie but not in real life!" Real life? Real Life???!!!







Our favorite parts were too many to mention but here is a shot of  Jayne and her dirty finger nails.

 

And a second later, SHE PUTS THEM IN HER MOUTH!

Listen, I love Jayne but she was a mess.  And this movie is messier.  A good time was truly had by all!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's Happened Again.

Another Meme.  Oh joy.  This time I've been tagged by the Mean Dirty Pirate.  Here's the somewhat interesting take on this one:

“Share three classic movie moments that have, in some shape or form, made you buy things, do things, think things that perhaps you shouldn't have.”

Well, like my dear friend Edith Piaf, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, there are however, things in my distant past that I'm not particularly proud of:

1.  Drinking and smoking.  The former I quit (28 years ago today as a matter of fact).  The latter I have quit   trying to quit.

2.  Berating lovers in public when drunk.

3.  Wrecking homes by flirting with and sleeping with men in relationships.

And I only need one film clip to illustrate.



I shall tag the following:

Donna at Lethal Dose

TJB at SSUWAT

Stephen at Post Apocalyptic Bohemian

City Girls, Country Girls and Jazz Babies.

By 1979 The Pointer Sisters decided they wanted to have big bank accounts, nice houses and fancy cars like all the rest of their money making peers.  And who, really, can blame them.  But before that is when these honeys really cooked! As evidence, savor the three offerings below.

CITY GIRLS.  Puttin' the fun in funky.




COUNTRY GIRLS.  This self-penned ditty afforded them the honor of being the first black females to perform at the Grand Ol Opry.




JAZZ BABIES.  Swingin', Basie style.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Constance Comment.


Constance Collier, member of the 
Scintillating Saphic Sewing Circle of Screenland

Here I thought she was just a fabulous character actress.  Who Knew: 

Constance made her stage debut at the age of three, when she played Fairy Peasblossom in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. In 1893, at the age of fifteen, she joined the Gaiety Girls, the famous dance troupe based at the Gaiety Theatre in London.  

In 1901, Sir Henry Beerbohm Tree invited her to join his company at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, where she spent the next several years playing the classics.  While there she married fellow thespian Julian L'Estrange (hmm).

 On December 27, 1906, Beerbohm Tree’s extravagant revival of Antony and Cleopatra opened at His Majesty’s Theatre with Tree as Marc Antony and Constance as Cleopatra, a performance for which she received much critical praise.

 


During her second U.S. tour, in 1916, she made four silent films, including an uncredited appearance in D W Griffith’s Intolerance and as Lady Macbeth in Tree’s disastrous film interpretation of Macbeth. ‘His face at the window,’ she later recalled, ‘had a look of supreme relief as the train began to pull out of Los Angeles station.’

The following year she had (one of many) a triumph on Broadway with John Barrymore in Peter Ibbetson.  All of her success unfortunately tempered by the death of L'Estrange during the flu epidemic of 1918.

Collier and Barrymore 1917

She co-wrote the play "The Rat" with her friend, actor Ivor Novello in 1924 and starred with him the following year in "The Firebrand".

Novello and Collier 1925  

Collier originated the role of Carlotta Vance on Broadway in "Dinner At Eight", 1932.

She is often most known for her part of the old actress-turned-acting coach in the movie "Stage Door" and what is rather humorous is that it was truly a case of Art Imitating Life.

At the dawning of the talkies Hollywood beckoned her, but not for stardom.  With her extensive theater background and cultured diction, she was to become a diction and acting coach for the next 25 years.

A partial, and surprising list of her students:  Colleen More, Eva Le Gallienne, Katherine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

She also worked in the 1930s at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, with an impressive group of instructors that included Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagan and Michale Chekov.

Colleen More remembered that it took Collier a whole day to teach her how to say ‘mother’ another to teach her ‘father’. ‘Cheer up, dollink,’ one of the studio bosses said. ‘Tomorrow maybe you’ll learn a sentence.’

This was Le Gallienne's memory, "…Constance Collier tried to make me see the values in the beautiful speeches, to bring out the music without losing sight of the meaning. She explained to me the two chief dangers in reading Shakespeare’s verse: the one, to intone in a stilted fashion losing all feeling or reality; the other, precisely the opposite, in the effort to be natural, the complete disregard of poetic metre. She was a ruthlessly honest teacher…"


Collier, Noel Coward and Neysa McMein


Constance from Hitchcock's "Rope" 1948

About her last student, Collier told Truman Capote:

"I don’t think she is an actress at all, not in any traditional sense. What she has – this presence, this luminosity, this flickering intelligence – could never surface on the stage. It’s so fragile and subtle, it can only be caught by the camera. It’s like a hummingbird in flight; only a camera can freeze the poetry of it. But anyone who thinks this girl is simply another Harlow or harlot or whatever is mad. ...Somehow, I don't think she'll make old bones. ... I hope, I really pray, that she survives long enough to free the strange, lovely talent that’s wandering through her like a jailed spirit."

Upon Collier's death in 1955, Kate Hepburn "inherited" Collier's secretary Phyllis Wilbourn, who remained with Hepburn as her secretary/companion for 40 years.


Just one of the girls!  Collier, Garland, K. Hepburn and
Ethel Barrymore celebrate Miss Barrymore's 70th
birthday at the home of George Cukor.






 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"She Does More Without A Voice Than Anybody I Ever Heard."

I just stumbled onto a terrific blog by Allan Ellenberger that's chocked full of goodies.  Do investigate.  In the mean time I'm borrowing this clip he had up in celebration of Ida Lupino's 96th birthday back on the 4th.  It has always been one of my very favorite musical moments in film.  It's from the stylish little noir Road House (1948).

Ladies and Gentiles, Ida fucking Lupino:


Meet A Fellow Member.

From Katie's great blog, Old Hollywood Glamour.

Joy Doll

Not only does she goosestep walk, but she sings too:


"But soon says the whisper, arise, arise
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Glorious Scarves!

This recently appeared on my friend Jim's blog Pretty Pictures, but I'm including it here as it is my fervent belief that it should be watched by everyone in the world at least once a day.  You won't find such a valuable education anywhere else. 

You know, I'll bet  TJB had a hand in the making of this video.



Improbable - But True!

When I was around nine years old we lived, for a couple of years in beautiful Niagara Falls, NY.

While living here my mother was in the middle of her "Being nothing but a housewife experiment", which was ultimately a miserable failure.   Now don't get me wrong, she was a fine cook (made better by my father's instruction) an incredible and manic housekeeper.  As far as decorating, she could do much with little and she could even sew a little, when pressed.  It's just that this stuff bored her senseless.  And when bored, there was scotch.

One of the things that she did to alleviate her boredom, besides appointments with the Air Force Base psychiatrist and a Librium prescription, was to join the Officers Wives Club.  And amongst the many activities that the wives involved themselves in was a bowling league.

 

But this was no ordinary Officers-Wives-Club-ladies-bowling-league.  No.  It was a wig league.  Perhaps I'd better explain.  Upon joining and paying a member fee, each gal was given a catalog from a wig and hairpiece company.  They were then allowed to place an order for their choice of any cut, color and style of 100% human hair wig or wiglet.  

  


Then they met every Friday to have spirited competition at the local bowling alley.  At the end of the season, they received their wigs and held a big luncheon at the Officers Club and wore them.

 


What, you may be wondering, did my mother order?  Well fortunately for her, she had a little gayling son who encouraged her to get, what I knew would be, the best wig of the bunch.  And it looked exactly like this:



The wig would be employed for the next couple of years whenever my folks had a cocktail or dinner party.  And it was generally teamed with a 'down the block from Pucci' print one piece hostess outfit that had a halter top and palazzo pants.  

So let's hear it for the ladies who bowl.  And lunch.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Of Icons, Entrances and Chili.



In the scene above, two things are unmistakably clear:  1)  Entrances are more effective when they are exactly 8 minutes and 50 seconds in duaration and have thousands of actual (non CGI) humans looking on, (I have always imagined her going through a sort of stripped down version of this entrance every time she walks into her living room) and  2)  Taylor, as Cleopatra, appears so regal, serene and bemused because she just scarfed down a bowl of Chasen's chili before the shot.

The old Hollywood legend is that Elizabeth was so fond of the chili made from Dave Chasen's secret recipe that she was having it dry-ice-packed and shipped to her in Rome during the filming of "Cleopatra".  It is a legend that I no longer doubt.  A dear friend of mine was once employed at Taylor's house in the early '80s.  Recently we were talking about glorious Hollywood landmarks that no longer exist and I asked him if he had ever been to Chasen's.  "Yes, but only in the kitchen when I would go pick up chili for Elizabeth." was his reply



As this upcoming weekend is Super Bowl Sunday, there will be lots of chili pots simmering and with good reason.  It is a time honored traditional dish here in the US with as many different variations in ingredients and preparations as there are cooks to make them.  Even if you have no interest in Football (Go Saints!) and don't intend to watch the funny commercials game, there's no reason not to fire up the chili pot!  It's wintertime, and chili is comforting. 

So it's with that in mind that I am bringing to you, at great expense (google):

Dave Chasen's Chili Recipe

1 cup dry pinto beans

Water

5 cups canned tomatoes

1 pound green bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds onions, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup minced parsley

1/2 cup butter

2 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground lean pork

1/3 cup chili powder

2 tablespoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin


Rinse beans and place in a bowl with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak overnight.
Pour beans and soaking water into a large kettle, cover and simmer until tender, 1 to 2 hours. Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes longer.
While beans are cooking, saute green peppers in oil in a large skillet 5 minutes. Add onions and cook and stir until tender. Add garlic and parsley.
In another skillet, melt butter. Add beef and pork and saute about 15 minutes. Add meat to onion mixture; stir in chili powder and simmer 10 minutes. Add meat mixture to beans and season with salt, pepper and cumin.
Simmer chili, covered, 1 hour. Remove cover and continue cooking 30 minutes, stirring now and then and adding water to keep it moistened if needed. Skim fat. Serve chili in deep bowls. Makes about 4 quarts.


Now before we leave the Chasen's topic entirely, if you heard a loud thud recently it was me fainting upon opening an email from my friend Judy.  It seems that she and her girlfriend are moving to a smaller place, and as a result had to sell one of their favorite possesions:  Chasen's booth no. 22; the Burt Lancaster banquette!  After entertaining offers, it has sold.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Grow A Pair!

You've read here about Hollywood Forever Cemetery before.

It's a beautiful quiet place (duh) and I look on it as my neighborhood park.



One of my favorite things in the place is this gorgeous statue:

 
I don't know if it marks someone's grave, 
and if so who's, or if it's just cemetery decoratif.   


But I love it for more than just it's obvious beauty.   It has a secret surprise.  When you walk around behind it, you discover:

 
This angel has Balls!!

Happy Tuesday.