Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Temple Tuesday: Alice on the Set

Shirley Temple’s 1936 blockbuster, “Poor Little Rich Girl” also served as a launching pad for Alice Faye. Still in her Jean Harlow phase, Alice hadn’t really come into her own just yet. Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot of Alice wearing the same costume from the still above when Shirley sings “You’ve Gotta Eat Your Spinach.”

JUST ONCE MORE, ALICE - - Director Irving Cummings lends a bit of moral support to Alice Faye before she sings a number for the 20th Century-Fox production of “The Poor Little Rich Girl”, starring Shirley Temple.

Alice does not look very excited at the thought of one more take.

IT’S THE SMILE THAT COUNTS. - - Alice Faye, appearing in the 20th Century-Fox production of “The Poor Little Rich Girl” with Shirley Temple, rehearses a bit of dialogue with Director Irving Cummings and the script girl.

At first glance, one might think that’s Shirley in the background, but my guess (based on the non-movie specific outfit and shape of her face) is that it’s Shirley’s stand-in, Mary Lou Isleib.

Care to see the script? Or Alice’s cigarette?

“Stowaway” was the last Temple film for Faye. After it was released, it was realized that she could hold a picture on her own, thank you very much! As a gift for playing support to Shirley in two movies, Alice was gifted the lead in “In Old Chicago” and became the leading Fox Blonde until Betty Grable took over.

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Old School Vegas at the El Cortez

Although it's a quick easy trip for me, Las Vegas is not one of my favorite destinations. Once you've seen the faux-chitecture of The Strip and the sad-looking people spending their last dollars on the slots, there's really not much else to go back for. It just feels like someone sucked the soul out of it. Still, it can be a great backdrop for a photo shoot (more on that later). Deciding to do something different, I went “old school” and stayed at the El Cortez, a hotel and casino near downtown Las Vegas and a block from the Fremont Street Experience (more on that later, too). In a city where things really don’t last, this place has continuously operated at the same location since 1941. Compare and contrast with the vintage photo below. It’s almost like time stood still.

The hotel quickly became so profitable that mobster Bugsy Siegel decided to muscle in on the property in 1945 and bought it from owner John Kell Houssels, who turned around a year later and purchased the hotel back from Siegel's group in 1946.

The hotel’s restaurant is named after Siegel. If you know much about this guy’s life, you would probably think twice about eating here just based on the name alone.

The food is actually pretty good, as I ate a late-night dinner here.

The decor is also right up my alley and really evokes the Rat Pack/mobster vibe you might expect.

While I understand the origin of the homage, naming your restaurant after a known killer/mobster and placing a picture of him and his moll in the dining room seems a bit in poor taste. But then again, it’s Vegas.

The hotel’s signature neon arrow, marquee, and large roof sign were installed in 1952. They still burn brightly today. Well, give or take a letter.

A vintage auto greets guests as they enter the nicotine-scented lobby/casino. I hadn't smelled that much cigarette smoke in years. The lady in line behind me at check-in was barely able to stand for the emphysema that riddled her body. Welcome to Vegas.

The suite I had rented for the night was large and decorated with flair; still, the fact that there was a $250 deposit for the in-room jacuzzi made me decided I shouldn't go anywhere near it. Why would the deposit cost more than the room itself?!?

What happens in the jacuzzi can stay in that jacuzzi...

Would I stay here again? Perhaps. For the money though, compared to the Strip, this place is a steal.

See more El Cortez photos at my main website.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Hotel Vertigo

Where does an Alfred Hitchcock fan stay when visiting San Francisco? The Hotel Vertigo, of course!

That's right; this is the very same location that we see Kim Novak leaning out the window in Hitchcock’s classic 1957 film “Vertigo.” The exterior really hasn't changed too much over the years.

Inside, the decor and colors are definitely influenced by the movie’s poster.

When you see an interior room, you can tell that Hitchcock did his best to re-create the same layout on a soundstage.

If only the rooms came with a green night light; THAT would be a cool touch!

If you hate the color orange, this hotel may not be for you.

Other film inspired details throughout the rooms abound:

No visit to the Hotel Vertigo would be complete without a few stairwell shots:

All kidding aside, would I recommend this place? I sure would. For price, location, and cleanliness, this place is a real value!

See more Hotel Vertigo photos at my main website.

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.

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.

See more vintage Disneyland photos at my main website.

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.

See more “Wizard of Oz” photos at my main website.