Saturday, July 31, 2010

Screen Gem Saturdays: Shirley Temple—almost a "Ten"

What do Ursula Andress, Linda Evans, Bo Derek, and Shirley Temple have in common? John Derek. Shirley's inclusion on that list may seem strange since she doesn't resemble the statuesque blondes that Derek (born Derek "Dare" Harris in 1926) seemed to be attracted to. As a teen, the pert Shirley went on a number of dates with John when they were both under contract to David O. Selznick of "Gone with the Wind" fame. Photo #1 shows the young couple together on March 7, 1944 in a photo captioned: “Oscar Fashion Notes: Shirley Temple is shown with Dare Harris. Shirley wears a grey crepe dress, with a peasant handsewn cap to match, and a beaver coat with gardenias.”

Besides being a Svengali-type married to some of the most beautiful women in the world, John Derek is probably most recognized for his role as Joshua in “The Ten Commandments.”

So just how close did Shirley come to being a “Ten”? According to her autobiography, "Child Star,” not that close:

Another victim of Mother’s protective attitude was a contemporary in the Selznick stable, bit player Derek Harris, later to become John Derek. A self-important young man, he had pleasing features, perhaps a little too sensitive for my taste. With a shock of dark hair cascaded artfully over his forehead and his suit shoulders padded out to disguise a rather delicate frame, he made a highly photogenic companion.

As an actor Selznick felt he had promise but so far little flair. Despite previous training, he still spoke downward and habitually missed his marks. Selznick had asked me to loosen him up. Not realizing the full extent of my task, I played the role of dramatic instructor. Relax, I urged. Ignore the audience. Never mind that twitch at your mouth or the one at the corner of the eye. Nobody can see it. Instruct and cajole him as I might, Harris would not, or could not, loosen up. On-camera he still came across wooden as a post.

Off-camera was another matter. The studio arranged for him to escort me around publicly...before long I detected he could be relaxed by necking. Neither of us was courageous about sex and we soon wearied of just kissing. As a replacement activity on the deserted moonlit playing field of nearby Riviera Polo Club, Harris taught me to drive stick shift in his jalopy and how exhilarating it was to floor the accelerator. Realizing how susceptible I was to offbeat behavior, he produced a long knife, and stabbed around at invisible enemies. That surely beat necking. To embellish himself even further as an extraordinary fellow one night he suddenly fell into an introspective mood and in rueful tones claimed to be the son of an undisclosed famous movie actress, but illegitimate. This pretext might have surprised his mother, Delores Johnson, a hardworking actress respectably married at the time to Lawson Harris, a songwriter. There in the moonlight, however, his unusual confession evoked awe and sympathy. Harris had set out to impress me, and he had. Not every girl gets to neck with a knife-wielding “bastard.”

Apparently he put more lasting weight on our twosome than did I, for he pursued me relentlessly as I flirted my way elsewhere. On one Palm Springs family vacation he slept out on the desert sand in his sleeping bag and lurked around possessively to see whom else I dated. The knell to our relationship was sounded by a macabre gift, an original oil painting. Someone’s bluish face was entwined in a surrealistic background of green seaweed. In his mystical, watery depiction Mother instantly saw a symbolic likeness between the disembodied face and mine. She forbade me to see him again, a tall order considering we were studio colleagues. But after thinking hard about her interpretation of his painting as a foretaste of undertow and death, I comfortably distanced myself, freeing Harris to skulk after more impressionable quarry.”

Hmmmm....Bo Derek and Shirley Temple. The comparison is fascinating!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Disneyland 22nd Anniversary: July 17, 1977, Pt. 1

Time for a little polyester madness with a July 1977 post. These photos were taken on the 22nd Anniversary of Disneyland’s Opening Day. Naturally, to promote “The Rescuers” (1977), there are characters from the movie in the park to greet the young ones!

In the background of these shots with Mickey, you can see the Town Square Café.

See more Disneyland Town Square photos on my regular my main website.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Traveling Thursdays: Great Adventure Amusement Park

Disneyland has always been my favorite theme/amusement park, but since I grew up on the east coast, sometimes I had to settle for less. As of 1974, another option appeared on the scene besides Hershey Park: Great Adventure in New Jersey. This batch of photos is from a visit during the summer of 1982 before I went off to Indiana for college.

One of the coolest things about Great Adventure was that they had a drive-through safari, kind of like what they had in the classic horror flick “The Omen.” I remember that cars with vinyl tops were not allowed through, as the baboons (or some other animal) enjoyed ripping them up. Imagine driving through a street and the animals being able to come right up to the car. Looking back on it, this is really a wacky idea. Apparently, the 4.5 mile drive-through safari is still open today and contains about 1200 animals (and I’d like to know who takes THAT census!!).

At the time, the ferris wheel (called “The Giant Wheel”) was the biggest one in the world. Who says size doesn’t matter?? In addition, Great Adventure had a double sky ride that was originally from the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

Two years after this photo was taken, the Haunted Castle was the scene of a very tragic accident. Eight teens were killed in a fire when one ignited his cigarette lighter in the dark rooms and it ignited the polyurethane padding on the walls. There was no emergency lighting, no fire extinguishers, no emergency exits, and no fire sprinklers.

The log flume attraction was tons of fun, and of course you had to pay to get the souvenir photo of you and your pals going down the huge drop:

Like Knott’s Berry Farm, there was a photo studio where you could dress up in old time costumes:

I don’t have too many specific memories of Great Adventure, other than thinking it was really cool that first summer that I went. It was clean, it was colorful, and there were a number of fun things to do. From what I have read, the original concept by founder Warner LeRoy (1974-1977) made it sound like an east coast version of Disneyland. By 1977, Six Flags had taken over and most of the ambitious initial plans were changed.

See more Great Adventure photos at my main website.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

1950’s BW Images Now & Then

These negatives yielded some decent shots of the park, albeit a little blurred in many of the photos. The Minnie shot is my favorite, back when Mickey's girlfriend was still in her scary costume from the Ice Capades!

This poor cast member with his hands on his hips seems as if he’s misplaced something! I hope it’s not the Columbia.

Wow! A lot of construction has gone on here in the last 50 years!

I love seeing TSI abuzz with kids having a blast playing on its “natural” wonders!

Castle Rock looks much different today; barely recognizable for all of the crap that’s been heaped onto it:

Too shakey for one of my classic gory zoom-in detail shots:

I still get a little queesy walking over the barrel bridge; best to do it when nobody else is on it.

Not the same angle, but still nice to see that these fun bridges (suspension and pontoon) are still there:

See more Disneyland photos at my main website.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Disneyland June 1961 In Living Color, Pt. 3

Today, you can travel from the Wild Frontiers of 1961 to the Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow of 1961. At Disneyland, you can have it your way, whether it be by The Mark Twain...

or a rustic raft piloted by Huck Finn himself...

or perhaps a Keelboat or The Columbia:

Or perhaps you are one of those newfangled kind of people that enjoys the sleek yellow Monorail:

Don’t even think about getting in line without an “E” Ticket!

What a gorgeous, uncluttered entrance. Welcome to Tomorrow indeed!

See more Disneyland Tomorrowland photos at my main website.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Disneyland June 1961 in Living Color, Pt. 2

Enjoy this view from June 1961 of a colorful yet fairly empty Town Square and Main Street U.S.A. You won’t see anything like this during the summer of 2010, that’s for sure!

Nothing says old fashioned Americana like a big bouquet of plastic flowers from the Flower Market!

Finally, a view that looks like it could be from today: a mob appears to be congregating by the Main Street Cinema (too soon for Yippies; must be a protest about the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties!).

Looking at the inhabitants of this vehicle, I'd say the ratio of kids to parents is way out of whack! Look at the driver just scratching his head with worry! And how about that cute little tyke in the red sweater and plaid shorts! I think he wants to be a Disneyland Tour Guide when he grows up!

The landscaping has always been an attraction in itself at Disneyland:

Meanwhile in the news of upcoming Blu-ray/DVD releases, “James and the Giant Peach” is about to be released on Blu-ray for the first time.

This movie seems to be lesser known in the Disney line-up, but is definitely worth watching. Done with a combo of live-action and stop-motion animation, it is a very sweet story based on Roald Dahl’s novel. The sets for the live-action segments are literally out of this world; stylized to the hilt, they make the gap of going from live-action to stop-motion much smaller. One of my friends worked as an extra in this movie for the New York City finale. Although the sequence in the Art-Deco inspired NYC doesn’t last too terribly long, it took approximately 2 weeks to film on a sound stage in an old aircraft hanger on San Francisco’s Treasure Island. My friend has memories of eating very well (lobster!) for two weeks while all of the necessary shots were made. He also remembers production being shut down while Paul Terry (James) threw a fit one day and said he didn’t want to work anymore. His brief resume would confirm that acting was not his chosen profession. On the other hand, Joanna Lumley (Aunt Spiker) was super nice to all. Lumley is best known for her role of Patsy on “Absolutely Fabulous.”

See more Disneyland Town Square photos at my main website.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Disneyland June 1961 in Living Color, Pt. 1

Welcome to Disneyland, June 1961. Hold onto your hats, dear readers: I am presenting to you that rarest of all views at Disneyland: THE MICKEY FLORAL!

Well, all kidding aside, what is rare is that for the last year or more, you haven’t been able to see the Kalamazoo Handcar. Compare and contrast at your own risk!

The attraction posters have been gone for some time, too.

Vesey Walker and Company entertain the guests in Town Square; fortunately, this still occurs today...minus Vesey, of course.

See more Disneyland Town Square photos at my main website.