Monday, September 30, 2019

64 Years Ago Today…



Sixty-four years ago today James Dean was killed in a car crash as he was driving his Porsche 550 Spyder to a car race in Salinas, California. He is probably best known for playing the title role in “Rebel Without A Cause,” released shortly after his death. His birthplace in Marion, Indiana is marked by a rock and a plaque, as the house has since been torn down.



Dean’s childhood was spent in sunny California until he turned nine. His mother had died of uterine cancer, and his father thought it best for the child to be raised by his Aunt and Uncle back in Fairmount, Indiana. Here’s the farmhouse where he lived:



The High School he attended in Fairmount, where he first got bitten by the acting bug:



…and the stage where it all happened:



After graduation, Dean attended UCLA where he pledged the Sigma Nu fraternity:



He dropped out of school in 1951 and pursued acting full-time, eventually moving to New York City when his career was going nowhere in Hollywood. This is the apartment he lived in:



Want to see his sink?



A classic shot of Dean in NYC:



After studying method acting at the Actors Studio and performing in a few plays and TV shows, Dean returned to Hollywood in 1954 for his first starring role in a motion picture, “East of Eden.” This is probably my favorite Dean movie of the three major motion pictures that he made…and the only one released while he was alive. It is a timeless film that has not become dated, unlike “Rebel” and “Giant” which both seem a bit dramatic and overblown when watched today.



In early 1955, Dean returned to Fairmount for a visit, taking photographer Dennis Stock with him to record the trip. Here’s a shot of him back on the Winslow farm where he was raised.



The last movie he completed before his death was the George Stevens production of the Edna Ferber novel, “Giant.” Here, Dean’s character has passed out at the party given in his honor.



Many of the exterior scenes were shot in Marfa, Texas. Despite having done a Pepsi commercial, Dean is shown drinking a Coke! He is standing next to Bob Hinkle, Rock Hudson's dialogue coach for the movie. He also taught Dean how to operate a lasso for the movie.



The marquee at Grauman’s for “Giant,” which was also released posthumously.



It would have been interesting to see what direction Dean’s career would have taken had he lived. It is a tragedy that he died so young at age twenty-four before his full potential was revealed.

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Dress Shop at Disneyland, 1957



When zooming into this 1957 black and white image from the Nature's Wonderland attraction, you can see that up on the hill the town of Rainbow Ridge actually had a dress shop! If it had only been open to the public!



This detailed view shows two boys patiently waiting to get on one of the Mine Carts as the cast member looks on at right.



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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Temple Tuesday: Details and Deletions



In the 1938 Shirley Temple movie “Just Around the Corner,” her character (Penny Hale) holds a benefit to help save Uncle Sam. The “Programme” lists an opening number by Lottie and Letty (Barbara and Gloria Brewster):



The Brewster Twins also had a bit part in Shirley’s “Little Miss Broadway”. They were born Naomi and Ruth Stevenson in Tucson in 1918 and were under contract to Fox from the late 1930’s to the early 1940’s, making nine films. They were known as the “Most Beautiful Twins in America.” No arguments here! Back to Shirley…

Rehearsal sheet music from “Just Around the Corner” was auctioned off in 2015 and included the songs “London Bridge is Falling Down” and “I Feel Like the Blossoms in the Spring.” This sheet music was written when the movie was still being called “Lucky Penny.”



Neither of the songs made it into the final cut of the movie. It is believed that “Blossoms” was the song that Penny and her gang were to sing at the benefit. This recently acquired image shows what I believe to be the “Penny and her Gang” musical number, which does not show up in the finished film. Something tells me that this number of Shirley singing with the neighborhood toughs may not have been all that spectacular. If only the footage still survived!



The rest of the “Programme” continues as advertised, with a rousing tap number by Bill Robinson and friends, “Brass Buttons and Epaulettes.”



According to an early script, “London Bridge” was being played by the snobby little children in the Riverview’s swanky playroom on the piano. Bennie Bartlett (who played Shirley’s new friend Milton) takes over at the piano and plays a swing version of the classic tune, with Shirley doing the big apple dance to it. It was at this point that Mr. Waters (Franklin Pangborn) was supposed to walk in and catch this disruption in the normally staid playroom. In reality, Bartlett was a bit of a child prodigy himself. At age four he played trumpet, directed and sang with his own dance orchestra, and was featured on the radio. He appeared in a 1935 RKO musical, “Millions in the Air” playing the piano. The next year he appeared in a short for Paramount, performing a composition he had written at the age of nine. I always wondered why his musical talents were not paired with Shirley’s. It would appear that the original intention was to do just that. Below, Milton’s black eye is revealed to his disapproving mother (Cora Witherspoon) and his approving Uncle Sam (Claude Gillingwater).



The cast of the film concerned Mrs. Temple, which she felt consisted of too many has-beens. For the first time, she went directly to Darryl Zanuck to express her concerns about the movie and the overall typecasting of Shirley. She wanted to see some changes in the types of roles that Shirley would play so that audiences wouldn't get sick of her. Zanuck disagreed; he felt that the more stars stayed the same, the more audiences would come to see them. At the point they tired of that star, it was basically time for Zanuck to release a new one for the public to enjoy. Oops. Not a good answer for Mrs. Temple, who could see that Zanuck would have been quite fine to let Shirley get pushed aside if another personality came along to replace her. The next move Mrs. Temple made caused a permanent rift between her and Zanuck: she went over his head to plead her case to his boss, Joseph M. Schenck. Unfortunately for the Temples, Schenck sided with Zanuck. Oops again.



Farrell was one of the "has-beens” that Mrs. Temple was referring to. Even though he had the largest supporting role, he was billed below Shirley and Joan Davis in the film credits. Director Irving Cummings went to Palm Springs to fetch Farrell out of retirement, promising a come-back. Instead, he only made two more films: 1939’s “Tail-Spin” (once again billed below Joan Davis!) and 1941’s “The Deadly Game.” Farrell is shown above with Rock Hudson in Palm Springs, circa 1955.

GOOF DEPARTMENT: When Penny first enters the basement apartment where her father (Farrell) has been demoted to, the door says “HOUSE ELECTRICIAN”:



A little later in the movie, after her father and his girlfriend break-up (temporarily of course!), it says “MR. HALE”:



Phew. That’s a lot of info!

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Monday's Medicine



Where’s the best place for some medicine to combat those Monday blues? Why the Upjohn Pharmacy on Main Street at Disneyland, of course! The first photo hails from 1956.

I have to zoom in for a closer look at the 1950's fashions. The young boy in the yellow cap is the winner, hands down.



A better view of 115 West Main Street’s entrance:



This creative 1957 shot was taken from inside the Pharmacy:



I wonder who these two sketchy looking guys are?



For a better look at the overall interior, here’s a previously posted shot from 1960:



See more vintage Disneyland Upjohn Pharmacy photos at my main website.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

Voyeurism, the Disney Way!



“Take a peek!”

With those words, 1957 Disneyland guests were invited to get a tantalizing glimpse of International Street. This amazing project would have been a precursor to EPCOT. For a better view, all you had to do was “Turn knob to fit eye.” Sounds like a torture advice to me! But hey, how about that vintage Mickey Mouse balloon?!?



As a frame of reference, here’s a previously posted shot of Disneyland Town Square from 1956...before the deadline got pushed!





Sadly, this street was not to be, as construction never began on the project.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Where's My Yacht?



Today’s post features two views of the Tomorrowland Yacht Bar at Disneyland circa 1957. A strange name for a refreshment stand at an amusement park, especially when the park doesn’t have a yacht and doesn’t serve any alcoholic beverages. Maybe Walt had a vision of the booze that would be served at Star Wars Land, making the Yacht Bar a true vision of the tomorrow!

Anybody want an original Astrojet attraction poster?



To be fair, there was a sort of lake/lagoon nearby where guests could take a cruise on a Motor Boat. So that's kind of like a yacht. Only smaller. Much smaller.



Looks like these 1957 shots were taken over the Christmas holiday, based on the decor strewn over the front of the Yacht Bar.



Would the star and garland pass muster today?



The Yacht Bar was open from 1957 until 1966. It did not survive the “New” Tomorrowland remodel.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Now and Then: The El Cortez in Vegas



OK, so it’s not a perfect match, but here are similar views of the El Cortez Hotel in Las Vegas from 1952 and 2018. Unfortunately, no vintage detail shots, as the photo is a bit blurry when you zoom in. Never heard of any of the “headliners” on the marquee.



The hotel itself looks very much the same on the exterior; it’s the neighborhood that has changed around it!



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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Batman at the Chateau Marmont



As a kid, the 1966 “Batman” TV series was one of my favorites; as an adult, its appeal has only increased as I now appreciate even more the nuanced performances by Adam West and Burt Ward. Amidst the absurdity of the guest stars, the scripts, and the costumes, those two played the characters as if they were grounded in reality. Brilliant! It was a no-brainer during my recent illness that while relegated to the couch I would pull out my “Batman” blu-ray set and indulge in a little nostalgia. While doing so I noticed a few interesting details in the episode that originally aired on January 20, 1965 titled “The Penguin’s a Jinx.” Leslie Parrish has a bit role as a bored movie star, Dawn Robbins, who wishes something exciting would happen in her dull life.



Where is she staying while in Gotham City? Naturally at the Pelican Arms Hotel!



Batman & Robin race to save her from being kidnapped by the Penguin. As they pull up in the Batmobile, you can see a large billboard in the background.



What’s this? Holy Governess, Batman! It’s a poster for “The Sound of Music!”



Much of the 1966 TV series was shot on the 20th Century-Fox backlot. The studio owed a lot to that blockbuster musical; even a few years back when I visited Fox, they were still paying homage to the Julie Andrews movie with this mural on the side of one of their parking lots:



Back to Batman…as the camera shows an exterior shot of the Pelican Arms Hotel and Dawn’s penthouse apartment, viewers see...what’s this? Holy Hollywood, Batman, it’s the Chateau Marmont!



Who knew there was a Gotham City connection to my favorite hotel?



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