Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Friday, April 29, 2011

She's Baaaaack....

Finally have been able to grab a few more clips from my interview with the glorious Shirley Claire!  As a recap for our newcomer friends, Shirley is a beautiful and energized 83 year old Palm Springs resident that I met and spoke with in February.  We talked about her tenure as an unused contract player at MGM in her early teens and her employment as a Showgirl at the Earl Carroll Theater here in Hollywood.  To review those clips, go here and here and here.

Today, Shirley tells us about "swinging" at the ECT.

Stay tuned....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lovely Surprise.

There's nothing quite like taking a walk up to Hollywood Blvd.

Enjoying the scenery.

And then suddenly noticing....

A picture of an old friend from High School! 
Have a great run Marcia....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

And Now This....

Residents of the fair land of Los Angeles received an unexpected and unwanted New Year's present this year when local PBS affiliate KCET severed ties with Public Broadcasting.  Fortunately for us, our friends to the south, KOCE in Orange County, picked up the slack.

KCET is still in their studios at 4376 Sunset Blvd.  But don't blink.

The oldest continually operating * production facility in town started life as  The Lubin Manufacturing Company in 1912.  Through the years it has housed the following companies:  Essanay, Kalem, Monogram, and Allied Artists.

Monogram, amongst other low budget offerings, produced popular series' such as Mr. Wong, The Bowery Boys and Charlie Chan.

Tea time for Boris Karloff in the Monogram Make-up room, 1940

During the Monogram/Allied years the lot was where Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Mickey Rooney, Tyrone Power, Tex Ritter, Edward G. Robinson, Dorothy Lamour, Bela Lugosi, Jackie Cooper, Anthony Quinn, Audrey Hepburn, Shelly Winters, Steve McQueen, Orson Welles, Vincent Price, Gina Lollabrigida, David Janssen, Sammy Davis Jr., Jon Hall, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elvis Presley, Robert Blake and Burt Reynolds punched their time cards.

KCET moved onto the lot in 1970.  The PBS pull-out was announced as a cost cutting move.  I was, in fact, a disaster.  A death knell.  So now in another "cost cutting move", they have just sold the studio lot.
The buyers?...............wait for it......................it should come as no surprise..................... The Church of Scientology.  After all, they own all of the best property in Hollywood.

The Bowery Boys give a well deserved raspberry to the sale.

*This was not the first studio in Hollywood however.  If you want to know about that, well you'll just have to come to town and take my tour

Friday, April 22, 2011

Now Girls, Just Stop It!

It starts out going along so beautifully...or so you think.

Joan Fontaine - Olivia de Havilland

Next thing you know, there are these....things.  Just little things, you know.  And you find yourself looking over your shoulder.

But you shrug it off.  You make excuses.  It's family after all, right?  You even try to make light of it....

"In a boulevard shop yesterday, I watched Olivia de Havilland select a swank pair of earrings which, she confirmed were destined for sister Joan Fontaine's Christmas tree.  The purchase completed, the clerk asked: "Anything else Miss de Havilland?"  "Nothing", replied Olivia reflectively, "execpt -- please be nice to Miss Fontaine when she comes in to exchange these."
--Jimmie Fidler's column Nov 30, 1940

Then one day you look at that pouty, sulking face for thousandth time....

And you snap!

And finally you realize:  She Loves This Game!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Now Here's Something I'm Sorry I Missed....

After playing himself in the 1975 TV movie "Queen Of The Stardust Ballroom", Big Band leader Orrin Tucker leased a skating rink that same year on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and turned it into the Stardust Ballroom.  Tucker formed his first orchestra in 1933.

After dwindling crowds for his band and ballroom dancing Tucker opened the venue booking up for events like the one above as well as shows for the raging punk scene in LA of the late 70's.  Ultimately, the venue would include hosting women's boxing matches. 

In 1982, he closed the ballroom and moved to Palm Springs.  Under new stewardship the venue continued it's descent.

And today it's the Hollywood Home Despot Depot.

Orrin Tucker passed away on April 9th at the age of 100.

The man with the baton, Orrin Tucker

Monday, April 18, 2011

This Ball Has Tone.

To satisfy the British censors, re-shoots were ordered for the bedroom scenes on 1947's "My Awful Wife", but not before the cast and crew sought to have a little fun and make a statement.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

You Dirty Sew And Sew!

Miss Bennett at work.

"In 20th Century Fox's "Man Hunt" Joan Bennett plays a street walker, much to the distress of the Hays gentry, who feel that the movies shouldn't recognize such unfortunate facts of life.

After long cogitation, they finally came up with a ruse to camouflage Miss Bennett's screen character.  They ruled that the studio must install in her room and display prominently - a sewing machine!"

-from the syndicated column "Jimmie Fidler In Hollywood", April 13, 1941.

Joan has a light snack before running up a new skirt on the machine in the background.

Joan says, "I got yer bobbin."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

That Gibson Girl!

Okay, Motion Picture Riddle Time:
What do Patsy Palmer, Margie Gibson, Marguerite Gibson, Helen Gibson, Ella Margaret Lewis, Ella Margaret Arce and Pat Lewis have in common?

Answer:  They're the same person.  Of course she was born Ella Margaret Gibson.  She was most commonly known though, as Margaret Gibson.  Until a little later when she was most commonly known as Patricia Palmer.  But her friends called her 'Gibby'.  While she had friends.

Now, I'm just warning you, this dame's story has more twists than a Chubby Checker record.  Let's begin, shall we:

Gibson was born in Colorado Springs in 1894 to parents who were in the show business.  Papa was a musician and Mother was a singer.  Trooping the road was all the child knew from the beginning.  Unfortunately, Papa was a rolling stone and by 1907 decided to go solo, leaving the now footlights savvy 12 year old as her mother's sole means of support.  It's a little fuzzy as to why mama is no longer capable of supporting herself but, hey, things happen, don't they.  Anyhooo, by 1912 they had trooped their way to Los Angeles and 17 year old Gibson had trooped her way through the front door of the Vitagraph company in Santa Monica, where she spent the next few years, becoming the youngest leading lady on the lot.  During her tenure she appeared opposite William Desmond Taylor (future Paramount Director and murder scandal topic) in 4 pictures.

Margaret Gibson and William Desmond Taylor in "The Kiss" 1914

There were quite a few publicity stories done on her during this time:  She's a fresh and humble beauty!;  She dances the tango!;  She wins a bathing suit competition!, and the like.  One such article mentions celebrating her 19th birthday (which actually would be her 20th) by holding an old fashioned housewarming party in her new home "built on a cliff overlooking the ocean".  In 1915 she appeared in "The Coward" at the prestigious Thomas Ince studios (this was on TCM last night and that's what launched me on this Gibson jag).

Then her career started going south (metaphorically) and east (geographically) to Hollywood and the poverty row studios.  The publicity puff pieces stop, no more about her lovely ocean-view home or her shiny black horse or her shiny green roadster.

The next mention that she received in the papers wasn't until 1917 and it wasn't on the society page.  It seems she had been arrested during the police raid of a downtown LA 'sportin' house' and charged as being a young woman employed in said house!  Preposterous! Nonsense!, our girl replied, she had merely visited this place to absorb local color for a film role.   Now this was good and quick thinking on Gibby's part since "Local Color" was the title of a picture she had made the year before.  There were also inferences of Opium dealing involved in the raid (just sayin').

In spite of the fact that there was sworn testimony from one of the other 'workers' that Gibby had in fact been seen at the house on many, many days, clad in nothing but a kimono, seated in the same hallway where the rest of the girls were, being tapped on the shoulder by one of the gentlemen who patronized the establishment, and disappearing into one of the rooms for 5-15 minute intervals with same gentlemen, she was acquitted!!!

The only thing that I can figure, is that there was a female D.A. (astounding considering the year) that was a regular Tasmanian Devil in her cross examinations of the defendant, and there's nothing like an imposing, forceful older woman accusing a young, fresh-faced girl of being low-down, dirty trash to make a jury feel like the girl is the underdog and the one to root for.

So with her record, if not necessarily her reputation, clean, she found her way back to Hollywood with her head somewhere between held high and hung low.  Of course the story had received sufficient coverage that she couldn't very well put the name Margaret Gibson on the credit roll any longer, and that's when she started using the name Patricia Palmer.  Among others.

We'll pick up her story in our next installment of, "That Gibson Girl!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Things.

Mary Carlisle

Barbara Kent
Okay I know we're still a couple of weeks away from Easter, but there's no point in waiting to sound the trumpet for these two Easter basket beauties.

What's all the trumpeting about, you ask?  Well it just so happens that Mary Carlisle and Barbara Kent happen to be the two former WAMPUS Baby Stars that are still with us!

Mary, born 1912, was named a WAMPUS Baby in 1932, and Barbara, born 1906, achieved WAMPUS-dom in 1927!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Those Fabulous Stars Of Black And White - In Color! Pt. 3

Freddy March, Claudette Colbert and CB DeMille on the set of "Sign Of The Cross".

Lovely Greer Garson

Lucy and Desi

Norma Shearer (isn't that one of those fiber optic lamps from the 70s?)

What's with the gloves Rita?

Ginger Rogers staring in "Attack Of The Bunny Breasts"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Mystery Gets Revealed!

Well, well, well!  Finally got you this time.  Score one for the old Felixarino!

On Wednesday you were requested to identify the little one in the carriage above and you all provided me with my first victory!!!!  No one accurately identified the baby as:

James Cagney!

Now sometimes Jimmy can get a little sensitive about these things, but just to show you that he has no hard feelings, he's invited you all to breakfast.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tag, I'm It....

Yesterday I gave a tour to my wonderful friend Steve and members of his magnificent family that included his adorable infant daughter Sofia, his Mom and Dad, Sister and Brother-in-law, and recently relocated cousin.  Joining us was also my dear friend and neighbor Donato.  Despite the unexpected 90 degree weather, a great time was had by all.

After the tour Steve and family walked to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf that is on the tour route for a little refreshment.  Upon leaving the establishment they came across a site that, while I walk by it every day, I'd never noticed:

I swear I didn't do it.  If I had, it would have been much neater.

In related news, I received a two-sentence mention in today's LA Times.  Not really an article that I would have chosen to be associated with.  It seems the Starline Tours (the company that crams you 50 onto a bus and drives you around to show you the walls that block the views of celebrities' homes) is teaming up with TMZ to produce some sort of 'celebrity/reality show star/paparazzi/stalker tour'.  My company seems to be mentioned as juxtaposition and alternative to that, so I'm cool with it.  And, after all it's the first mention I've received in the press, so I'm also very thankful. 

Hey all you journalists, editors and TV segment producers:  It's not too late to get on The Felix In Hollywood Tour Company bandwagon!