Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Temple Tuesday: Shirley and Charlie

It probably sounds very hard to believe that one of the most popular radio programs in the country starred a ventriloquist and his doll, but it’s true. Edgar Bergen (the ventriloquist) and Charlie McCarthy (his not so dumb dummy) had an eleven year run on a radio show sponsored by Chase and Sanborn Coffee from 1937 to 1948. Bergen was the somewhat reserved "straight man” of the act and Charlie was his racy sarcastic counterpart. Together, the "two" made magic. I discovered in 2015 at the Love, Shirley Temple auction that the child star had her very own Charlie McCarthy 20" doll gifted to her directly by Bergen himself (shown in the photo above). Made by the Effanbee doll company in 1938, the gift might have been the result of a blurb from Silver Screen magazine in October, 1937: "Before leaving for her holiday in Honolulu, little Miss Shirley Temple made only one request of her studio: could she have lunch with Charlie McCarthy? ...Charlie was so pleased when Public Favorite Number 1 asked to lunch with him that he has been insufferable ever since." The auction included a photograph of Shirley with Edgar and Charlie puppet...

as well as a letter dated October 10, 1938 which thanks the young star for her photograph, noting that “Charlie wanted it for his room, but I thought the den would be a much better place for it.”

A shot of Shirley’s Charlie McCarthy when I saw it on exhibit at the Santa Monica History Museum:

To give you an idea of just how far Edgar/Charlie pushed the censors, here’s a famous dialogue between Charlie and Mae West from December 1937:

Mae: “Come on home with me, honey. I’ll let you play in my wood pile.”
Charlie: "Not so loud, Mae, not so loud! All my girlfriends are listening."
Mae: "Oh, yeah! You’re all wood and a yard long."
Charlie: "Yeah."
Mae: "You weren’t so nervous and backward when you came up to see me at my apartment. In fact, you didn’t need any encouragement to kiss me."
Charlie: "Did I do that?"
Mae: "Why, you certainly did. I got marks to prove it. An' splinters, too."

As a result of that show, West was kicked off the airwaves until 1950.

Here’s a vintage shot of the duo with famed gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. From the accompanying publicity blurb:

Charlie McCarthy challenges Hedda Hopper's hat crown on his radio show. "What time do you feed that thing on your head?" he quips. "I don't have to feed it — I just shot it this morning," replies Hopper, while Edgar Bergen referees, looking like "Old Professor Quiz."

A later shot of them at the famous Brown Derby restaurant; I am guessing from the 1970s.

From my own collection comes a shot of the 15" tall composition Charlie from Effanbee with its original button:

and a 20" Charlie, which strangely enough did not include a monocle, nor is there a hole near the eye, which would have indicated one had been originally included.

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website..

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Monday, January 21, 2019

A Day at Disneyland, August 1967

Sometimes the most fun part of acquiring these vintage slide collections is trying to figure out the story behind them. This August 1967 set could go a few different ways. How about I just present the facts as I see them and let your vivid imaginations do the rest? This group/family poses in front of the Rolly Crump New Tomorrowland Ticket Booth with the Submarine Attraction Blue Monorail behind them. I can hear you readers now. “Hey Dave! Can you zoom into the pockets of those two dudes so we can see the ticket books?” Already tried. Just a blurry mess.

The next shot in the sequence shows the Yellow Monorail:

Nothing like a 1960s big blonde bouffant on the Snow White attraction in Fantasyland:

The two gents from our group seem only semi-excited to be on the Disneyland Railroad car as it exits the New Orleans Station.

This time I will zoom into the pocket for you. This guy already ate through his E tickets.

Looking back at New Orleans Square as the train pulls out of the station:

In Town Square the gents get caught by a Keystone Kop:

To the left you can just barely see the interior of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction:

Last one of my set shows Doug & Jim. Doug's tattoo would make it appear that he was 13 when he got it. I'd say Doug is still pretty close to age 13 in this shot. Jim decided to keep his age to himself.

Doug isn't in any of the shots I acquired, but he did appear in this one that slipped through my fingers. He sure knew how to make a pompadour!

I REALLY hated that I missed this one, too.

That's the way the cookie crumbles.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wizard Wednesday, Part 2

Today’s post has more questions/answers from William Stillman, author of The Road to Oz: The Evolution, Creation, and Legacy of a Motion Picture Masterpiece

1. Your book covers the multitude of initial cast choices/changes that occurred with the filming of “The Wizard of Oz.” Shown above is the original casting choice for the witch, Gale Sondergaard. What would YOUR ideal backup cast be if you weren't allowed to choose from anyone that ended up in the film: Dorothy, Tinman, Scarecrow, Lion, Wizard, Witch, Glinda, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry?

A: What an intriguing question! Hmmmm…Well, I’ve always thought Virginia Weidler was a very competent little actress who could have played Dorothy quite well (and would’ve been much closer to the age of the character than Judy Garland). Despite costarring with Garland and Mickey Rooney in “Babes on Broadway,” Weidler was not a prime vocalist, however, and her would-be musical numbers for “Oz” would have to have been dubbed. Fun fact: Weidler starred in 1939’s “Bad Little Angel” with Terry, the Cairn terrier who portrayed Toto, as her pet. In one scene, she even carries the basket used by Judy Garland throughout “The Wizard of Oz”!

For the Tin Man and Scarecrow—from MGM’s roster—I could see Allan Jones (primarily a singer) or George Murphy (an actor/dancer). An interesting choice for the Tin Man might’ve been Nelson Eddy from the perspective of someone who could sing and dance, and was associated with romance in the public eye. For the Cowardly Lion, perhaps Cliff Edwards (aka “Ukulele Ike”), a Broadway comedian and singer then under contract to Metro; Ted Healy; or maybe Eddie Collins who played a similar part with Shirley Temple in “The Blue Bird.”

For the Wizard, I think Mervyn LeRoy’s original selection of Ed Wynn would’ve been an interesting choice for his befuddled schtick. If not Wynn, then maybe Guy Kibbee might’ve filled the role ably.

For the Wicked Witch I could see Renie Riano who, like Margaret Hamilton, was known as a stage and screen comedienne. Both actresses played similar movie roles as sarcastic maids and housekeepers.

Billie Burke brought a sense of quiet wisdom and spiritual tranquility to the part of Glinda, perhaps owing to her maturity—watch carefully how she deals with the Wicked Witch, smiling at her theatrics, dismissing her threats, and being firm when warranted. As is true of an ethereal being, it’s difficult to pinpoint her age. Outside of Burke, probably a starlet on the MGM roster would’ve been chosen to project youth and sweetness, such as Rita Johnson, Virginia Bruce or Virginia Grey.

For Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, how about Jessie Ralph and Lionel Barrymore!

2. You mention Jack Haley's adopted/unadopted child who is pictured above, wearing his uniform from the Black-Foxe Military Institute while Haley reads “The Wizard of Oz.” Looks like there is no information about what happened to him after he left Haley’s guardianship. Seems baffling as to why the adoption occurred in the first place...as if some other piece of information is missing. Any thoughts?

A: Jay Scarfone and I did our darndest to trace the whereabouts of Haley’s adopted son but to no avail. As we intimate in “The Road to Oz,” outside of any insider information between Haley and his wife, it’s possible that the adoption was arranged because it was the trendy, philanthropic thing to do in Hollywood at that time. It doesn’t make sense, though, that Haley would’ve added an historically “unplaceable” child to his brood on top of his taxing professional commitments and, as it happened, the adoption was short-lived.

3. Under Richard Thorpe’s direction, Dorothy/Judy was blonde and glamorous. It doesn't appear that the transformation/beauty shop Dorothy at the Wash & Brush up was in the script for that version, or was it? At what point was that added?

A: There was always intended to be a sequence in which Dorothy and her friends are primped and refurbished before their audience with the Wizard. Dorothy’s hair was to be brushed and curled, and she was to change into a green dress as she does in the book, and as she does in the recent Andrew Lloyd Webber stage production of MGM’s “Oz.”

4. In the Professor Marvel trailer, he finds a picture of Dorothy and Aunt Em. It always fascinated me to see Dorothy in a different dress. I also notice that she is wearing Mary Janes. Any idea what happened to that dress? I am also guessing those are the Mary Janes that you mention Judy wearing originally before Cukor changed things.

A: Yes, the patent-leather Mary Jane shoes we see Dorothy wearing in the portrait with Aunt Em are the shoes Judy Garland would have worn in Kansas originally, and did wear in preliminary tests. There’s no telling what became of the dress, and we can only speculate that if it wasn’t worn in other pictures, it was sold during the 1970 liquidation of MGM’s property. Perhaps it was inked with Judy Garland’s name in the lining and is floating around out there to the unawares of its owner. Stranger things have happened!

5. What do you think the fate of the movie would have been if Richard Thorpe had been allowed to complete direction of it?

A: If Richard Thorpe had been the director of record for "The Wizard of Oz," I think its legacy would be similar to that of the 1933 "Alice in Wonderland" or Shirley Temple's "The Blue Bird." That is, it probably would be remembered as a quaint fantasy film very much of its era and primarily recalled by movie buffs and film historians but otherwise considered unremarkable. It might have also been a bit of a career setback for Judy Garland in terms of public popularity but under the old contract system, that would've readily been rectified with her next picture.

6. You talk about Bobbie Koshay wearing the blonde Thorpe wig in the Rose Parade. In photos, it does have more of a brown color. I also ask because the supposed blonde test wig came up for auction recently. Are these all one and the same?

Koshay wears a blonde wig as we own color footage of the float. There were likely two wigs. They will look light or dark depending upon lighting (as Judy's blonde wig looks dark/light in various Thorpe stills). The float can be seen here:

and here:

7. It seems like both Jitterbug and the bees sequence at the Tinman's cottage were filmed, animated, and completely finished. Have ANY of the animation drawings survived, or any kind of test shot surfaced showing either the jitterbug or the bees?

A: So far we have not heard of or seen any animations for WOZ.

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Temple Tuesday: A Different Light

In the 1940 Shirley Temple film “The Blue Bird,” the character of Light is played by Helen Ericson. Dressed in a filmy negligee/gown, she definitely added a little va-va-voom for the adult audiences. Guiding the Tyl children and their pets, she helped deliver them all (well, almost all) safely home after their search for the elusive Blue Bird.

Recently, I acquired this promotional glass slide:

Who the heck is Nancy Kelly?!? Of course I asked Shirley Temple guru Rita Dubas for the answer and she quickly provided the explanation. Kelly was the original choice for “Light.”

In Edwin Schallert’s August 22, 1939 column he heralded:

Nancy Kelly to Enact Light in “Blue Bird”

Having had experience with fantasy in an air version of “The Wizard of Oz,” which, of course, is now current as a spectacular film production, Nancy Kelly should be a “natural” for the important part of Light in “Blue Bird,” from Maurice Maeterlinck’s imaginative and symbolic poetic drama. Anyway, she has been chosen for this feature. Miss Kelly was originally to have appeared with Tyron Power in “Daytime Wife,” which will be his first starring picture following his return from his European honeymoon trip. Linda Darnell has been elected for that lead instead, meaning a definitely build-up for this young lady brought to the fore in “Elsa Maxwell’s Hotel for Women.”

Another trade magazine of the day announced:

NANCY KELLY drew the important role of Light in Maeterlinck’s “The Blue Bird.” In order to enact this part in the Shirley Temple vehicle, Zanuck had to take Miss Kelly out of “Part-Time Wife,” for the two productions will be “shooting” at the same time. Later Miss Kelly will co-star with Tyrone Power in “Johnny Apollo.” [a role taken by Dorothy Lamour instead] She is also slated to appear in “Law West of Pecos” with Randolph Scott, Binnie Barnes and Cesar Romero [this film was not made].

Why the switch? For that I do not have a definitive answer. It would appear that Kelly was placed in the comedy “He Married His Wife” with Joel McCrea instead, which provided the actress a leading role. Perhaps the studio wanted to give her a bigger build-up and felt that the supporting role of “Light” was not enough.

Today, Kelly is best known as the suicidal mother in “The Bad Seed,” receiving a Tony Award for the 1955 stage production and an Academy Award nomination for the 1956 film version.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

MORE Janet Leigh at The Red Wagon Inn

Before it became the Plaza Inn, home of the legendary Fried Chicken plate, Disneyland’s Central Plaza restaurant was named The Red Wagon Inn. Janet Leigh’s 1962 visit to Disneyland with the kids included a stop at this Park favorite.

Ever wanted to see a closeup of the original wallpaper?

Here are some MORE recently acquired shots of Janet and the kids enjoying some entertainment by the Dapper Dans while eating their lunch. Future scream-queen Jamie Lee Curtis seems to be enjoying the attention by the Dans:

...as does sister Kelly:

From a 1960 issue of Vacation Magazine one could see this ad for the Red Wagon Inn:

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

50 Million Served, Circa 1965

A few years back, I was contacted by a gentleman who shared his story of a magical day at Disneyland back in 1965. Can you believe it took me over two years to finally publish it? Here goes:

“My mother, Mary Adams, was the 50,000,000 guest at Disneyland on August 12, 1965. Here are two pictures of our family at the front gate that day. I hope it adds to your good work. I am the blond boy, Bruce Adams.

“We are regular visitors and have wonderful memories of Disneyland. I believe there isn't a lot of information on our amazing day due to the loss of Walt Disney a year later. The pictures here are from an album that was given to us. The photographer was Mario and our Guide’s name was Donna Partin. This six year old had a HUGE crush on Donna! Coincidentally, I was born on December 5th, the same day as Walt Disney. Typically, my wife and I will spend December 5th at the happiest place on earth. We have an amazing life-long gift of love for all things Disney.”

Bruce also generously shared these two vintage newspaper articles covering his family’s good fortune on that day in 1965:

I am blown away by the generosity of Park employees to the Adams family. Is anything of this scale still done today when the Park reaches attendance milestones?

Here is a previously posted color (and blurry) shot showing the festivities as seen from the Monorail:

Thanks to Bruce and all the many people who have been kind enough to share their stories with me and my readers!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Temple Tuesdays: Temple and Harlow

One wouldn’t think that there would be very much to link curly haired moppet Shirley Temple and screen siren Jean Harlow other than the oft-told tale that Shirley lost the part of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” when a trade between Temple, Harlow, and Clark Gable went south due to Harlow’s premature death on June 7, 1937 at age 26. Even though Shirley herself repeated this story in her autobiography, the chances of it being for the same movie that MGM released in 1939 are slim to none, as in 1937 MGM didn’t even own the rights to “Oz.” But that’s another story than the one I am telling today, which is about a verifiable connection between Shirley and Jean: both of their mothers hired the same artist to paint their daughters. Gertrude Temple hired Piles Tino Costa first in 1936 for the tidy sum of $1200 (today’s equivalent of approximately $18,000); including the frame. Good luck getting that today! Here is the “contract” that she sent to the artist:

I was able to see this painting in person at the Santa Monica History Museum when it was put on display just before it was sold as part of the Love, Shirley Temple auction in 2015. The Child Star is shown with her dog, Corky, and a canary in a cage in the oil painting that measured a large 58" x 46".

Here is Shirley posing with the artist:

The descriptive copy from the auction catalog:

Her presence is signified by classic ringlet curls, smiling expression, and fingertip-length skirt hem. Her shoes are shown scuffed at the toes indicating their dancing purpose, and alongside sits her beloved Scottie named Corky and a bird cage whose canary resident is tethered on a leash. Signed in lower corner "P. Costa 1936".…Costa, the Russian-born portrait painter, immigrated to the United States in 1929 at the age of 38. He was commissioned for portraits of Presidents Hoover and FDR, as well as portraits of General MacArthur, the Prince of Wales, and King Christian of Denmark. In 1935 he moved to California, and among his works during that era is this portrait of Shirley Temple.

Presale estimate was $5000; the gavel went down at $23,000. Gertrude Temple made a fairly good investment, but not stupendous.

The brown velvet dress with lace collar that she wore for the painting was also part of the auction:

Many photos exist of the painting as it hung in the home where Shirley grew up in Westwood on Rockingham Avenue:

A year after Costa painted the portrait of Shirley, he was commissioned by Jean Harlow’s mother to paint one of her late daughter. Here’s the final product, titled “Farewell to Earth,” which measures a gargantuan 80" x 52":

Lost for years, the piece was photographed in black and white in the 1930s, and that was all that existed of it until it resurfaced recently at a Bonham’s auction in November 2016. It has been inventoried in both the National Portrait Gallery and the New York Public Library's Prints and Photographs online catalogs.

Here’s a youtube video that talks about the recovery of the painting. It was found in an abandoned home in Harrisonville, MO. A renowned chemist, Dr. James D. Idol, bequeathed his niece's his estate and they discovered this amongst the broken glass and animal poop almost 50 years later!

All I can say is that it’s a miracle it has survived!

To end this post I show a painting I did of Jean back in the 90s:

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