Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Temple Tuesday: The Littlest Rebel



Today is a trio of shots from Shirley’s 1935 film “The Littlest Rebel.” Here’s the publicity blurb that accompanied this photo:

FASHION PLATE - Little Shirley Temple illustrates that it is possible to retain poise in a cumbrous hoop skirt of the Civil War period. The costume is one of many she wears in 20th Century-Fox's “The Littlest Rebel.”

I dig the pics on the wall behind her!



Even at the tender age of 7, Shirley was not immune to the drivel cooked up by the publicity machines of the day. Here’s what was written for this heavily retouched shot:

S. T. Loves D.J.
Any day now, you might see that scrawled in childish characters on the sidewalks of Hollywood. For Shirley Temple is in the throes of her first love, Dickie Jackson. They’re working together and, out of 30, she selected him (with blushes) as her dance partner.




If you’ve seen the movie, you know that her dance partner ended up being Edward McManus. No blushing for this shot!



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Monday, April 29, 2019

60 Years Ago: A Banner Celebration



Shot almost 60 years ago, this September 1959 image shows a guest getting ready to quench her thirst in Disneyland’s Town Square. Is she even aware of the historic significance of the banner hanging behind her and all of the new attractions that have recently opened for her enjoyment? Probably not. She’s more focused on her cool leather purse with the hand tooled design on the front. Can you blame her?



1959 truly was an amazing year for new attractions. Get a load of the ones announced on the banner: The Submarine Voyage, Monorail, Fantasyland Autopia, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Motor Boat Cruise, and the Skyway via Glacier Grotto. I think I’d take those over Star Wars Land any day.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Dapper for the Weekend



The minute I saw this image I had to have it. Something about the 1950s dapper gent in this photo really called to me. Walking through the courtyard area at the rear of the castle, he just screams “The Most Interesting Man.” The hat, the tie with hearts, the cigar, the pocket chain watch…this man is an icon of style.



Oh…and the vintage Ticket Booth in the background is kinda’ cool, too!

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Toad for a Thursday



I LOVE dark rides and get especially excited to see vintage shots of these attractions since they are so rare. While it’s not an interior view, I still like seeing the look of “oh s$%t” on the faces of these young guests as they exit the ride.

I wish this shot was a bit sharper, but that’s the way it goes. Still cool to see the Fantasyland patch and cast member badge on the attraction operator’s shirt.



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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Christmas in April



I know, I know…Easter is barely over and here I am posting Christmas photos. This first shot was taken on New Year’s Eve, 1961 (that’s December 31 for those of you not good with dates/numbers!). The Matterhorn Christmas Star looms over Snow White’s Wishing Well. This image calls for a few detailed views.



Check out those ornaments on the Christmas tree near the well!



And finally, had to get a closer look at Snow and the Dwarfs:



From January 1961, we see three lovely Dickens Carolers posing on New Orleans Street, outside Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House:



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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Temple Tuesday: Birthday Blowout



It’s a birthday photo blowout for La Temple today, on what would have been her 91st birthday. The first photo is from her 10th birthday in 1938. Don’t bother counting the candles; there are only 9, as one year was lopped off Shirley’s age at the time to make her seem more precocious.

80 years ago today in 1939, this photo was taken at the Café de Paris on the Fox lot. What a cake!



Her 1940 birthday occurred during filming of her last movie for Fox, “Young People.”



Shirley even had to dish up her own cake!



For her sweet sixteen party during the filming of “I’ll Be Seeing You,” Monty Woolley gave Shirley a gag gift of the book “Life Begins at 40.”



Here is Shirley with her stand-in and good friend Mary Lou Isleib:



For her 18th birthday, former costars gathered on the set of “Honeymoon” to help Shirley celebrate, including Adolphe Menjou, James Dunn, and Franchot Tone.



Jack Oakie from 1940’s “Young People” was also on hand:



Even into adulthood, Shirley worked on her birthday, as can be seen in this shot taken during filming of “The Red Skelton Show” in 1963:



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Monday, April 22, 2019

Mary Astor Monday



Mary Astor had a long and steady career in the movies that began in silent pictures, such as 1924’s “Beau Brummel” with John Barrymore. Prior to the making of this movie, the 17-year-old Astor was accompanied everywhere by her parents, as she was the meal ticket that allowed them to live a very lavish life. Somehow, the 41-year-old Barrymore convinced her father through a combination of flattery, deceit, and quite a bit of BS that he needed private time with Astor to help groom her into a true actress. They fell for it (for the most part) and a secret affair blossomed between the two for a few years until Barrymore got tired of Astor’s inability to stand-up to her parents and tell them to…



While her star continued to ascend, she made headlines for a completely different reason. Involved in a bitter custody dispute with ex-husband Dr. Franklyn Thorpe in 1936, things got even nastier when passages from her private diary were leaked to the press.



Thorpe had stolen the diary and attempted to use it as a tool to make Astor give up custody of their daughter Marylyn. Astor finally got sick of being taken advantage of by others and called his bluff. While the diary was ruled inadmissible in court for having been tampered with and mutilated, the press had a field day with the supposed tales of Astor’s sexual exploits, most of which had been fabricated.



While it was embarrassing for the actress, she refused to waiver and was even backed by the film studio she was currently working for in the blockbuster movie “Dodsworth,” despite the morality clause in her contract. In her autobiography, she said that the strength of the character that she played in “Dodsworth” (seen below) was what she channeled up on the witness stand, allowing her to remain calm and composed throughout the entire trial.



Here’s the victorious Mary with her daughter after the trial:



1941 was a banner year for Astor, with a starring role in “The Maltese Falcon”:



…and an Oscar for the Bette Davis potboiler “The Great Lie”:



Looking for financial security, she signed a contract with MGM, who wasted her talents on predictably bland mother roles. There were a few highlights during her servitude there, including Judy Garland’s mother in “Meet Me In St. Louis,” where she held the Smith family together as the father attempts to haul them off to that evil city, New York.



After she left MGM, her career began to slow down and she moved to a number of television roles, including “The Thief” with up and coming actor James Dean. Astounded by his mumbling and lack of professionalism, she was even more astounded when she watched the broadcast and saw him walk away with the teleplay and the accolades.



Overcoming alcoholism, Astor also began to write, publishing her bestselling memoir, “My Story: An Autobiography.” If you haven’t read it, you should.

She finished her career in the 1964 Bette Davis murder mystery, “Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”



While largely forgotten today, she is still remembered for a very self-deprecating but not entirely untrue and insightful quote:

There are five stages in the life of an actor: 'Who's Mary Astor? Get me Mary Astor. Get me a Mary Astor type. Get me a young Mary Astor. Who's Mary Astor?'

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Firing on a Friday



How about a little “firing” at the Frontierland Shooting Gallery? Here’s how it looked in March 1968. Looks like they might have had a costumed cast member working there to assist guests:



A clearer shot, also from the 1960s, but without all those pesky people blocking your view:



A recent acquisition to my collection is this shot of a young boy shooting at the Gallery, circa August 1968:



From 2015, you can see just how high tech the Gallery became:



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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Transportation Thursday



Let’s take a ride on the shortest lived (June 26, 1957–September 15, 1958) transportation system at Disneyland, The Viewliner. Today’s post features two glorious views of the Fantasyland Train (blue) and the Tomorrowland Train (red). How about this overhead shot from a Skyway bucket? Talk about a steady hand!



I had to squeeze at least one closeup out of this set showing just how tiny this train was!



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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Architecture: Preservation, Restoration, and Renovation



The fire that destroyed parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris sparked much more than just the historic structure’s roof; it also set off a bit of a debate over the importance of an iconic structure vs. humanity. Do we value buildings more than people?



I don’t want to get into that portion of the debate, but rather another one...what makes a building a building? While it appears that more than enough money has quickly appeared in the coffers to return Notre Dame to its former glory, will it still be the same building? The only photos I have of Notre Dame are from my one visit to Paris back in 1982 when I played violin in an orchestra comprised of high school youth who toured Europe. I was pretty amazed to actually have the opportunity not only to see the Cathedral, but to play within its walls.



To this day, I’m not quite sure how the people behind AMA (American Music Abroad) pulled off that little coup for us. The first two shots were from the little Instamatic slide camera I borrowed from Mom to take on the trip. The next 3 photos were shot by my Dad, who happened to meet me in Paris for a few days.



Don’t ask me how, but I managed to make 2nd chair violinist of the group. Still baffled on that one, too.



But back to the point of my post, as it really is not intended to be “Oh I was here and look at my photos that prove I was there.” Rather, it is a tale of my experience with historic buildings. The terms historic preservation, restoration, and renovation are often used interchangeably, and not necessarily correctly. Depending upon who you talk to, the definitions of the terms themselves can vary greatly. In an example of what I would call a “renovation,” Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania went to the trouble of re-creating cabins that Washington’s troops stayed in during that very cold winter of 1777. Is this what they looked like? No idea. Photographs don’t exist from that time period, and all the people who re-built them had to go on might have been a foundation in the ground, perhaps a sketch, or a complete guess based on historic knowledge...and a little personal bias.



The uniforms are also re-creations. There is no way today’s world could perfectly reproduce what was worn back in the 18th century, as fabrics, dyes, and sewing techniques have changed a great deal. Are these good enough for the modern tourist? Most likely. Do they help illustrate what happened during that Winter of 77/78? Sure.



Moving over to a restoration/renovation project in which I personally took part in as a tour guide, the West Baden Springs Hotel was like something out of Great Expectations; overgrown, decaying, and somewhat creepy:



After a lot of money and blood, sweat, and tears, you would barely recognize the same building today:



The hotel was just about ready to cave-in from years of neglect and diverse weather conditions. One entire wall did collapse as can be seen here:



Today, that portion of the building has been perfectly put back together, repainted, and updated:



An interior shot of the atrium before it had been “restored”:



And after:



While the building looks incredible and practically brand-spanking new, is it the same building that opened at the beginning of the 20th Century? Or is the version I saw back in 1996 more authentic? I would almost argue that the 1996 structure has more stories to tell, whereas what guests see today is a very luxurious resort hotel. I felt more connected to the history when I could see through the layers of paint and wallpaper that hung off the decaying walls. Maybe I’m just sick and twisted that way after too many Tim Burton movies.

Over in Charleston, South Carolina, you can visit Drayton Hall, which is advertised as a “preservation.” They have not attempted to repaint, refurnish, or make this historic home look brand new. Instead, they have gone to a great deal of trouble to keep it in the state that it’s in. I greatly respect that choice, as it’s not necessarily one that most tourists would understand.



Sometimes a little peeling paint or a scuffed floor are okay in my book. You might see a famous handprint or footprint.



While I am happy that Notre Dame is getting a lot of attention and will most likely be fixed so that it can be seen for centuries to come, the fire is also part of its history. Should what was burned be put back to the way it was (which is technically impossible), or should it be covered and protected and become part of the story?

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