Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's A Daily Thing...Everyday!

My dearest friends and ardent supporters, I told you I would keep you updated on developments with the tour business, so I'm filing the following report.

All is Fantastic!

As the tour continues to grow in popularity, I've decided to take the major step of clearing my schedule of any other commitments and expand the tour schedule.  Starting this Friday, I'll be offering tours 7 days a week!  Monday - Thursday at 1:30 pm, Friday - Sunday at 1pm and 4pm.  Yep, 10 tours per week.  It's a little scary but every time I've taken a leap of faith in life, it's always worked, so keep your fingers crossed, here goes...

Gloria Swanson's reaction when I told her the news.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Buy That Little Lady A Saucer Of Milk!

"Judy Holliday is the funniest comedic actress in pictures, and Joan Crawford is the funniest dramatic actress."
- Constance Bennett

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mary's Garden Grows

Mary Astor

With dahlias, not asters.  Either way, young Mary is pretty as a flower.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Actors And Other Animals - Part 2

Joan Blondell and puppies

Dorothy Lamour loses the argument.

Gene Tierney with coordinating leopard

Hitchcock directing, always directing

Missy Stanwyck with her poodle named (are you ready?) Little Missy!

Two Beauties - Rudy Valentino and leopard cub.

The kooky Simone Simon becoming a cat, people.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Body - By Fisher.

If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that I am enamored of classic cars every bit as much as I am of classic films and classic Hollywood.  Well I just came across a real honey.  A car with a true Hollywood pedigree as Oscar worthy as the 24 karat gold trim it possessed, as brilliant as the 30 coats of crushed platinum dust that was it's paint job, as garish as the blood red leather interior!

As for the title of this post:

We of a certain age will certainly remember this badge on the bottom door sill of all General Motors cars.  While the vehicle in question was indeed a GM product, the body was as much indebted to the legendary George Barris as it was the Detroit Fisher plant.

There is another meaning to the title as well.  You see the owner of this dream on wheels was Marie "The Body" McDonald.

To tell Marie's story I'd have to be gettin' all Confidential Magazine on ya, for the life that she led was an amusement park ride...in a fun-house mirror.  The good news is that my wonderful friend, neighbor and resident Danger Dame, Donna Lethal wrote a brilliant article on the life and death of Marie which I encourage you to read.  And cuz you're so swell I'll put the link for it at the bottom of this post.

Meantime, suffice it to say that "The Body" was a moderately successful showgirl turned band singer, turned pin-up girl, turned actress, turned recording artist.  Perhaps greater than her talents though, Marie had three burning passions:  Alcohol, drugs, and publicity.

Our story picks up in 1954 when the six times married Marie was in the middle of her first of two marriages to Shoe Magnate Harry Karl (you'll recall that Harry is the same fellow that would bleed Debbie Reynolds dry a few years later.  It might also be of interest to note that between the two ladies, he was also married to the the widow of Columbia Pictures President Harry Cohn.  For exactly one month!)  So anyway, Karl decides he wants to give the Mrs. a present and he buys the star of the 1953 Motorama, the Cadilliac Le Mans.  (there were only 4 of these cars produced and he got the Le Mans #1)  He sent it to Barris Kustom Autos in Lynwood and this was the result:

It was featured in the December 1955 issue of Motor Trend Magazine:

Here's what Motor Trend had to say about the 'Barris Bonanza':

Boasting a television set, radio-telephone, tape recorder, and cocktail bar among its many other expressions of all-out individualism, this Cadillac Le Mans by Barris cuts a wide swath anywhere.
The body is mostly Fiberglas with the exception of the lower fender panels, which are formed of body steel and then blue-white chrome plated. Trim between the lower chromed parts of the fenders and the Fiberglas part of the body is 1/2-inch steel bar, plated with 24-karat gold. To stop rattles before they start, a strip of 1/8-inch rubber separates the gold-plated trim and the body panels. Hubcaps are done in a combination of gold and chrome; the thirty individually inserted "spokes" and the protruding center are gold, with the remainder in chrome. Paint is 30 [yes thirty!] coats of "platinum dust" sprayed over a polychromic base sealer.
The rear window and top are trimmed with chrome-plated steel. The whole top assembly including the rear window can be removed, or the window may be left in place and the top removed.
The engine is the 300-horsepower Cadillac with dual 4-throat carburetors set up by the factory for the original Le Mans model. All engine accessories, valve covers, etc., are chrome plated, of course.

In short order Marie wrapped it around a tree but both she and it were soon repaired.
Only a decade later, with the Caddy long gone, Marie, burned out and fresh out of ideas for one more publicity stunt,  hopped on the Percodan train for Fabulon.  She was 42.

In that horrible way that beautiful things are all too often not allowed to last, that beautiful car only made it a decade less than poor Marie.  In 1984 it was purchased by a collector in Pleasanton, Ca.  and several months later in 1985, a fire leveled the warehouse containing the car along with many of his other dream machines.

To read all about Marie McDonald's dizzying life go here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Actors And Other Animals

Anne Francis and Lion

Betty, Bogie and Dog
Kitten, Kitt, and Kitten

Piper Laurie and Bunny

The Fabulous Judy Geeson with Parrot and Dog

And not to be outdone by her peers above, pre-Theda Bara vamp, Louise Glaum becomes the animal!

Louise Glaum

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm With Blanche!

Sometimes 'I don't want reality, I want magic'.  For example:

When I first saw the picture below, my initial thought was, "How nice that Glenn has such a pretty mother."

When I finally realized that it is of course, his wife Eleanor Powell, I kinda gasped.  Out loud.  Now I never thought of her as a big, sexy glamour puss.  But when ever I think of
Powell, I think of a gal covered with everything MGM could throw at her:

Of course that top picture isn't really fair.  Glenn's hair is tousled, making him look younger, and the style of her dress is rather matronly.  Not to mention the fact that the fabric ( a knit boucle?) is adding a few pounds.

"Well anyway," I thought, "no matter what a few years and childbirth did to her, there never was a  caucasian that could touch her when it came to tap."  Even Fred Astaire thought so.

Then, as if the interweb gods were trying to calm my frayed nerves I found this:

And that's more like it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

That Evelyn Keyes!

When she wasn't being a Chatty Cathy...

Keenan Wynn and Keyes, "The Thrill of Brazil" 1946

.....she was a complete yo-yo.

Cornel Wilde and Evelyn, "A Thousand And One Nights"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Delicate Flower From Cinema's Silvery Silent Past

Mabel Normand

Fan Magazine Interviewer:  Won't you tell us, what are your favorite hobbies?

Mabel Normand:  I don't know...say anything you like but don't say I like to work.  That sounds like Mary Pickford, that prissy bitch.  Just say I like to pinch babies and twist their legs.  And get drunk.

All images and so much more are here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mother And Child Reunion.

Today's featured "Swell Dame" character actress is funny gal Helen Broderick:

She was an RKO girl that you'll doubtless recall as one of the brilliant Astaire/Rogers team from "Top Hat" and "Swing Time".  This hand-on-hip wise cracker set and perfected the template that would later be enjoyed by Eve Arden.

What you may not know is that before the pictures found her she had a long and successful career on the New York stage that went all the way back to 1907 as a Ziegfeld girl in the very first Follies.  Not a bad start at all.

Another successful production of Helen's was being the mother of tough guy, Broderick Crawford:

Here's the big surprise though, Mom never wanted Brod to be an actor.  Her idea?  He should take a course in commercial advertising!

But inevitably one night in November of 1937, she found herself trudging the stairs backstage at the Music Box Theater to the same dressing room she had occupied four years earlier in "As Thousands Cheer" to congratulate her son on his career-making performance as Lennie in John Steinbeck's "Of Mice And Men".

Claire Luce and Broderick Crawford, "Of Mice And Men"
They did have a terrific relationship that was often based on practical jokes. When he was cast in his first play, she showed her true feelings about his chosen profession by gifting him with a very tiny tin of stage lip rouge say that she hoped it would last him through his "entire theatrical career."

He found his payback one night, when Helen was at the peak of her career, while sitting in Walter Huston's dressing room.  Broadway legend George M. Cohan walked in and Huston performed introductions.  "This is Helen Broderick's son," he told Cohan. Cohan looked blank. "Helen who?" he said. "Helen Broderick." Cohan still looked blank. "Oh," he said. Crawford left the theater for Western Union and sent his mother a wire: "Get in touch with George M. Cohan immediately. He admires your work. Love, Brod."

Another legend of the Great White Way figured into both their lives.

While trying to smooth out some unruly dialog during the rehearsals for "The Band Wagon", George S. Kaufman looked up on stage and commented distractedly, "Helen your slip is showing." "George," replied Helen, "your show is slipping."

Fast forward five years.  A few weeks into the run of "Mice" Broderick was feeling cocky and bored and started goofing around with his performance.  He couldn't have picked a worse night - Kaufman was in the theater and promptly sent him a telegram backstage: "Am sitting in the back row. Wish you were here. George S. Kaufman."

Adoring son, proud mother