Thursday, March 23, 2023

Happy Heavenly(?) Birthday, Joan!

Happy Heavenly (?) Birthday to Joan Crawford, the ULTIMATE movie star. Say what you will about her private life (and only those actually involved know the truth, so please keep your opinions to yourself), but as an actress/movie star, she stands alone.

She had the ability to make magic out of ca-ca and the studios took advantage of that, putting her in cheap pot boilers that were carried only by Joan’s magnetism.

Crawford also took her job of movie star very seriously, always perfectly coiffed and dressed when greeting her fans in public.

See more Joan Crawford photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Temple Tuesday: Little Miss Remarkable

In celebration of the release of “Little Miss Marker” (1934) on blu-ray, I am sharing a few behind-the-scenes shots from the Shirley Temple classic. In photo #1, Shirley gives a hug to director Alexander Hall. In shot #2, it would appear that she was making some paper dolls in between takes.

Shirley sits on Hall’s lap as they prepare to do the mush scene with actress Dorothy Dell:

A closeup of Hall and Temple, caught in a rare blink.

A publicity still from the scene they were preparing for:

The movie’s leads gather for a group shot: Charles Bickford, Dorothy Dell, and Adolphe Menjou surround Temple and Hall:

The final scene where tough guy Bickford gives little Shirley a life-saving blood transfusion yields tears from even the hardest of hearts:

Kino Lorber is the company that has released “Little Miss Marker” on blu ray. I was extremely disappointed by their treatment of Shirley’s “Now and Forever” (1934). There was no restoration done to the source material, and the blu ray actually looked worse than the DVD. “Marker” had better source material and is a huge step above “Now and Forever,” but it doesn’t appear that any restoration was done on this one, either. Both movies were released by Paramount originally; the rest of Shirley’s childhood movies came from Fox. Unfortunately, Disney now owns the Fox library and has shown zero interest in re-releasing them on media, let alone doing any restoration. Bob Iger has expressed his desire to get the home media segment of Disney back in action, but Shirley’s films will probably not be a high priority, as the company stays away from putting out older product that might cause any verbal backlash from 1930’s stereotypical characters.

Note: Don’t get rid of your DVD versions of “Now and Forever” and “Little Miss Marker,” as the blu ray releases do not contain the short, “The Runt Page” (1932), Shirley’s first film (above).

See more “Little Miss Marker” photos at my main website.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Margaret Mitchell on Monday, Pt. 2

During my 2007 trip to Atlanta, I was bowled over to see this inside the Margaret Mitchell Museum. The front door to Tara from “Gone with the Wind” (1939) AND the original painting that Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) threw a drink at! From the museum descriptive placard which prevented me from getting “up close and personal” with the painting:

Scarlett in the blue dress, by Helen Carlton, oil on canvas, 1939. This portrait of Scarlett after the war hung on the wall in Rhett’s bedroom in their Atlanta mansion. Joseph B. Platt, head of the large New York decorating firm, coordinated the set interiors for Selznick’s art department, including the selection of appropriate furniture, wallpapers, carpets, and accessories for “Gone with the Wind.” In 1939, the portrait traveled from California to the movie’s premiere in Atlanta, where it hung in the windows of downtown Davison-Paxon Department Store. More recently the painting hung in the cafeteria of the Margaret Mitchell Elementary School in northwest Atlanta. Loaned by the Atlanta Board of Education.

Here’s a shot of the aforementioned department store:

The downtown Atlanta Davison’s store was located on Peachtree Street. A vintage postcard:

The store was owned by the Macy’s chain for sixty years. Over time, the Davison-Paxon Company name was shortened to Davison’s. By early 1986, all Davison’s stores were renamed Macy’s. In 2003, the Atlanta store was also closed, but the building still remains.

Yes, I will be checking it out this fall. As for the Margaret Mitchell Elementary, it opened in 1954. According to the Margaret Mitchell Civic Association website:

The Margaret Mitchell neighborhood was originally developed during the 1950's as Cherokee Forest. The neighborhood included the Margaret Mitchell Elementary School located on Margaret Mitchell Drive and thus evolved into the the Margaret Mitchell neighborhood (Peggy Mitchell never lived this "far out"). Morris Brandon Primary School (k-2) now operates at the previous site of the Margaret Mitchell Elementary School. Our neighborhood includes old and new homes and streets which are located on the west side of I-75 along West Wesley Road, from Moore's Mill Road to Nancy Creek.

Based on a November 2018 online article by Darla McCammon from the Ink Free News, it sounds like the Carlton painting was still in the hands of the Mitchell home museum:

Today we are very fortunate because you can visit Margaret Mitchell’s home and tour it in Atlanta. Featured prominently among the many artifacts and information you will see on the tour is the original portrait of Scarlett in that daring blue dress that hung in Rhett Butler’s bedroom in the mansion he built after the war. Not much information exists about Helen Carlton, who did the painting of actress Vivien Leigh in 1938, but her other work included her daughter’s portrait, likenesses of Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and Bing Crosby.

Carlton was a multi-talented actress, artist, and singer. As you can see from the photo of her painting, she was also a master at all of it. As with many creative types, talent seems to flow out of their pores in many directions. Oddly in my research I noticed a remarkable resemblance between Vivien Leigh, Margaret Mitchell, and Helen Carlton. Not only were all three remarkably talented, but they could almost have been triplets.

Let’s take a closer look at the painting itself:

Even closer:

Yes, she nailed it. An incredible likeness of Vivien Leigh. Note the wedding band on her finger, courtesy of Rhett Butler.

I continued down the internet rabbit hole and hit pay dirt, stumbling upon a November 23, 2010 article from which the 2018 one most likely gleaned its info. Written by Carlton’s granddaughter, it allowed me to see what the artist looked like:

My Grandma Carlton passed away when I was just 8 years old, and I feel like I'm just now getting to know her. All I remember from my childhood is going to visit her in the nursing home where she would give us hand-drawn birthday cards and Big League Chew.

I've always known that she was a talented woman, but the more I learn about her, the more in awe I am of what she accomplished in her life, especially as a woman in the early 1900s. She was a successful actress, singer, and artist.Helen painted this portrait of Vivien Leigh/Scarlett O'Hara for Gone with the Wind. She's pictured here in front of the portrait for Redbook Magazine as she was nominated as Mother of the Year (at the time, she was very pregnant with her only child - my mom). She actually didn't like this painting very well.

What?!? Didn’t like her painting? How can that be. While I was writing this post, I recalled the other time that I saw a piece of Tara. In 1984, I was visiting my best friend at his school, Washington and Jefferson College. Yes, that’s me in the Members Only jacket. No, I didn’t borrow it from Rosario. I proudly wore my own, along with my perfectly styled coif courtesy of yellow Conair hair dryer. No wonder my scalp is still so dry.

This building is Lazear Chemistry Hall. When my friend Kevin gave me a tour of the campus, he was sure to take me inside to show me a piece of Tara. I thought he was full of crap.

Turns out he wasn’t. Inside this building on the door to the Troutman Library on the first floor of Lazear is the original doorknob from the movie version of Tara. I could not find the photo that I shot of it, but online I was able to learn that it was donated to the college in May 1940 by the film’s producer and Pittsburgh native David O. Selznick, who had family in the Washington area. I couldn’t find any photos online, either, and have no idea if it’s still there or not. Readers?

See more Margaret Mitchell Museum photos at my main website.