Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Six Degrees of Fields, Pt. 4

Today marks the fourth in a series of posts documenting costars that W.C. Fields and Shirley Temple had in common. Charles Sellon is the featured actor today and he could have had a series of common Temple costars all on his own. But first, let’s talk about Charles. In the Universe of Fields, he is known as the blind Mr. Muckle from 1934’s “It’s A Gift.” How do you make a blind man walking through a store unintentionally breaking everything in his path a comic bit? You make the guy out to be a complete asshole.

When seeing Mr. Muckle wreak havoc on Fields’ inventory, you are very much made aware that regardless of his impairment, he is a loud and demanding jerk who doesn’t care about anyone else. Fields’ character, Harold Bissonette, attempts to be as accommodating as possible for the blind man, and even goes out of his way to preempt Mr. Muckle’s holy reign of terror but all to no avail. Just about everything including the front door is decimated by Muckle and his walking stick. In addition, Muckle doesn’t hear too well, either.

Quick aside: also in “It’s A Gift” is Baby Leroy, who is featured on the window card art at the beginning of this post. While he never appeared in a film with Shirley, the two were often paired together in publicity stills, like this one on the set of “Little Miss Marker.”

Sellon’s next film after “It’s A Gift” was the Shirley classic “Bright Eyes.” Even though Sellon’s character, Uncle Ned, has a gruff and loud exterior, he’s a bowl of mush on the inside. Naturally he falls for Shirley’s charms hook, line, and sinker and ends up adopting her at the end. Watching the movie, I always assumed Sellon was in his seventies or so; nope...he was only sixty-three years old.

Other Sellon films include “Sea Legs” (1930) with future Temple costar Jack Oakie (1940’s “Young People”):

…and “Laugh and Get Rich” (1931) with future Temple costar Edna Mae Oliver (1938’s “Little Miss Broadway):

Sellon’s last movie was also Will Rogers’ final film, 1935’s “In Old Kentucky.” Sellon died at the age of sixty-six on June 26, 1937 and was buried in Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood.

To see his memorable bit from “It’s A Gift,” check out this youtube clip:

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

March 1977 Flashback: Oliver!

Forty-three years ago, I was playing the title role in my junior high musical, “Oliver!” How I won the lead is still beyond my comprehension, but I sure was grateful and it was such a memorable experience. So memorable that I’m blogging about it today!

I had seen (and worshipped) the 1968 film version, starring Mark Lester and Jack Wild. Jack Wild?!? From H.R. Pufnstuf? That’s right! What more did I need to like the movie?

I also loved the Lionel Bart score. So much in fact that I played my vinyl album to death. I knew every word to each song by heart, which probably didn’t hurt my chances in capturing the part.

Here’s my take on “Food, Glorious Food.” Don’t ask me why they let me use an orange plastic bowl for this scene. What was our prop department thinking?!? (note: both the bowl and the wooden spoon were from my mother’s kitchen)

All of the students in the play had the assignment of bringing in old used clothing to be made into rags for the orphanage scenes. I asked my mother last minute and she was extremely annoyed. She donated a pair of pants that my older brother had made in Home Economics. A few weeks later, they were back in my possession. The prop department liked them so much that they decided to let me wear them when I was adopted by my rich grandfather. This is what 19th century wealth looks like?!? For the musical number “Who Will Buy?”, the scene begins in my room first thing in the morning. Wearing a nightgown, I was to change on stage (discreetly of course) into my “swell” clothes. To this day I remember the embarrassment of not being able to get that damn zipper to work. Finally, just before the orchestra queued me for my first note, I was able to get that stupid thing to work. Moral of the story: don’t let your brother make your clothes. These are the pants and the scene I just described:

My dad captured almost every moment, including me getting makeup on backstage. At the time, I was mortified. Today, I am grateful. There’s that orange bowl again. Nobody was going to pry that out of my hands!

I remember the play being videotaped. If only I knew where that was; sure would be great to see it again. Anyone from Tredyffrin-Easttown Junior High know where that old tape might be?

See more photos at my main website.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Listen to Pluto

In times like this, I always believe levity (mixed with some sanity) is the best prescription. Please enjoy Pluto; he’s a wise little dog!

See more Daveland photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Go To Shirley World!

Like so many people lately, my friend Melissa and I were discussing the often incomprehensible situation brought on by the pandemic/panic from the COVID-19 virus. Things of this nature bring out the best and sadly the worst in folks. Hoarding is in full swing as toilet paper disappears from shelves as soon as it is stocked and bananas are nowhere to be found. Bananas?!? They spoil within days; what good can hoarding do? IT’S BANANAS!!

Closures increase by the day; the workplace, schools, restaurants, gyms, and...BROADWAY! Told to stay at home, it hasn’t taken long to hear the complaints of those feeling like they’ve been imprisoned.

Whenever I wanted an instant smile as a kid, I knew that watching a Shirley Temple movie was a good cure. Back in 1935 during the darkest days of the Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt was quoted as saying:

"During this Depression, when the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles."

Millions of Americans did just that, including my parents, who grew up during those lean years. In “The Littlest Rebel,” Shirley is a little girl living in the south in the midst of the Civil War. Her mother is on her deathbed and her father is fighting a losing war. Shortly after, attempting to get his daughter to safety, Shirley’s on-screen father is put in prison and given a death sentence. What’s a little girl to do?!?

She takes to the streets with Bill Robinson to sing and dance and earn money so she can go to Washington, DC and beg Abraham Lincoln for a pardon. Does she get it?

Of course she does! And his autograph, too, according to this publicity shot!

That was the magic of Shirley Temple. Against insurmountable odds, she overcame every obstacle with a smile, a song, and a dance. Corny as it may sound, there’s a lesson in there for all of us, even during these times of fear of the unknown and what may be around the corner.

Count your blessings and focus on the things that make you smile. My friend Melissa’s husband tells her to “Go to Shirley World!” when she has an anxious moment. Shirley Temple may not be your thing (perish the thought!), so find your own “Shirley World” and go there. In the meantime, be kind and understanding to others and try to avoid getting caught up in situations you would normally avoid (aka hoarding and panic). I’ll leave you with this appropriate song “Be Optimistic” from “Little Miss Broadway,” sung when Shirley’s character is sent back to the orphanage and her adopted father is about to go to the poorhouse.

Is there a happy ending? Of course there is; it’s Shirley!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Vintage Frontierland and Disneyland Temporary Closure

This May 1957 couple is taking a load off their feet on a Frontierland bench. Despite being in the not-so-wild “Western” portion of Disneyland, this lady chose to shop at the Main Street Emporium, which you can clearly see on her bag.

And in much larger news, Disneyland announced that they will be closing this Saturday morning to help reduce any chance of further outbreak of the Corona virus. This vintage shot of an apocalyptic Disneyland entrance seems to be a good illustration for that news.

As of today, the closure will last through the end of March. All Disneyland Hotels will stay open until Monday to allow travelers a little more time to adjust to the change.

Where’s the hand sanitizer?!?

See more photos at my main website.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Vintage Tomorrowland

You might think we’re stuck in May 1957 this week...and you could be right as far as this blog is concerned! This gentleman at the entrance to Tomorrowland is apparently blinded by the California sunshine. He should turn around and get some ice cream from that nice cart behind him. Note the state flags that are still at the entrance.

This second image was taken in the heart of vintage Tomorrowland, near the Rocket to the Moon attraction and the Flight Circle.

I often wonder (and muse on this blog) about where the photos now exist of the people holding cameras in these images from over sixty years ago!

For KS: this closeup of the ticket booth. Still pretty fuzzy.

See more vintage Tomorrowland photos at my main website.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Vintage Snow White attraction

Another vintage May 1957 shot of Disneyland today, this time featuring the entrance to the Snow White dark ride in Fantasyland. With a little lightening of the original slide you can see the attraction mural.

Moving up, here’s a closer view of the medallion at the top of the attraction. All of the original Fantasyland dark rides had a similar “coat of arms” tailored to the Disney animated feature that was represented by the attraction.

See more Disneyland Snow White attraction photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Six Degrees of Fields, Pt. 3

Today’s Temple Tuesday features actress and singer Rochelle Hudson, who played Shirley’s sister Mary in “Curly Top.” She also co-starred with the late-great W.C. Fields.

Rochelle Hudson was born in Oklahoma in 1916. In the late 1920’s, her father moved the family to Los Angeles for work reasons. At the age of 13, her mother arranged a screen test for her. Within a few years she had minor parts, with her first credited appearance being the 1931 pre-code Technicolor comedy-drama “Fanny Foley Herself.” The film is thought to be lost. Before playing Shirley’s sister, Hudson appeared with Mae West in “She Done Him Wrong” (1933). She played Sally Glynn, the fallen ingenue to whom Mae West gives memorable advice:

Sally (Rochelle Hudson): Who’d want me after what I’ve done?
Lady Lou (Mae West): Listen, when women go wrong, men go right after them.

In “Imitation of Life” (1934), she played Jessie, the daughter of Claudette Colbert; and in 1934, she appeared with Will Rogers (also from Oklahoma) in the John Ford directed “Judge Priest.”

“Curly Top” was the first film that displayed Hudson’s singing talents. I’ll always remember film historian Jeanine Basinger’s description of Hudson singing “The Simple Things in Life” as a “dead-ringer for Snow White.” I’ve never looked at that scene the same way since. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the set of John Boles’ bachelor apartment was inspired by a liquor ad in Esquire. Daily Variety noted that an eight-room cottage was built on the sound stage for the film, and that after production, the studio turned down an offer by director Irving Cummings to buy it for $25,000 and instead moved it to the lot to be used as a play room, dressing room, and school room for Shirley Temple. But back to Rochelle...

A year later, she played the daughter of carnival barker W.C. Fields in “Poppy.”

On screen, you couldn’t help but notice her expressive eyes and star quality. A beautiful young lady, she lit up the screen, which was no easy feat when her costar was W.C. Fields. She sang the song “A Rendezvous with a Dream,” by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin.

The movie was not a good experience for Fields. He broke a vertebra during the filming and was in such pain that he fainted after walking out of camera range after filming the final scene. His drinking also interfered with the production. Fields regularly drank from a flask, insisting that it was only pineapple juice. One day, the stagehands replaced the vodka in the flask with real pineapple juice. When Fields tasted it, he spit it out and shouted, "Who put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?!"

The film is still enjoyable to watch today, although a tad bit dated.

But back to Rochelle…

She is also known for playing Natalie Wood's mother in the James Dean classic “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955).

She left Hollywood after “Rebel” to run a 10,000 acre ranch in Arizona. She then moved back to Oklahoma and worked for a petroleum refinery. She returned to California in 1963 and restarted her career. Fans of the 1964 Joan Crawford horror-thriller flick “Stait-Jacket” may remember Hudson in her role of Joan’s sister-in-law.

Three years later she left Hollywood for good, moving to Palm Desert to take up real estate. On the personal side of things, Hudson was married four times (even though her NY Times obit states three). Her first marriage was to Harold Thompson, in 1939. He was the head of the Storyline Department at Disney Studios. She assisted Thompson, who was doing espionage work in Mexico as a civilian during World War II. Supposedly, this is why her career waned off during this time, as she found herself busy with the espionage biz. Rochelle and Harold posed as a vacationing couple in various parts of Mexico to help detect any German or Japanese activity in these areas. One of their vacations uncovered a supply of high test aviation fuel hidden by German agents in Baja, California.

In 1972, Hudson was found dead in her home at the Palm Desert Country Club; one source says from a heart attack brought on by a liver ailment and the other said from pneumonia. From the New York Times:

Rochelle Hudson, Film Actress In 1930's and 40's, Dead at 57

PALM DESERT, Calif., Jan. 18 (UPI)—Rochelle Hudson, a movie actress of the thirties and early forties, was found dead late yesterday in her home at the Palm Desert Country Club.

An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death. Her only survivor, Mrs. Mae Hudson, her mother, who also lives at the club, said there would be no funeral service.

Potential Tested Early

Miss Hudson, who was 57 years old, once told an interviewer how she broke into pictures:

“I got in pictures because my mother had a friend who had a friend who was a friend of the ex‐wife of somebody at one of the studios. Anyway, this friend knew the voice coach for the Fox Film Corporation, the people I work for now, and she had me tested. I was 13 then. It was several years later before I started acting.”

Her first film, “Fanny Foley Herself,” was made in 1930, with Edna May Oliver in her first starring role.

Miss Hudson, who made more than 75 films, appeared in support of Wallace Beery, Will Rogers, Fredric March, Patric Knowles, Jack Haley, Richard Dix and a number of others.

She left Hollywood in 1942 after making “Queen of Broadway” with Buster Crabbe but returned in 1955 to appear in “Rebel Without a Cause,” starring James Dean and Natalie Wood.

Miss Hudson appeared for 39‐week run in a television series, “That's My Boy,” starring Eddie Mayehoff.

In 1964 she made another comeback in Hollywood, appearing in “Straitjacket” with Joan Crawford.

Miss Hudson was married and divorced three times. Her first marriage was to Hal Thompson, a story editor at Walt Disney Studios. Her second was to Dick Hyland, a Los Angeles Times sports writer and former athlete at Stanford University. She and her third husband, Robert Mindell, were divorced last year. The decree became final on Jan. 8.

For the last three years she had been working in real estate with Walter Price, who discovered the body.

I’ll leave you with this clip of Rochelle “Snow White” Hudson singing in “Curly Top”:

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Vintage Fantasyland

The area that is now Pinocchio's Daring Journey in Fantasyland was once the Mickey Mouse Theatre. It would appear that the biggest selling point was the air conditioning! Inside, guests could see the Mouseketeers in 3D Jamboree, advertised in this May 1957 image.

This 1956 shot shows some very festive umbrellas. And these are the undersides!

I can see an illustration from “Snow White” and also “The Three Little Pigs.” Wouldn't it be cool to have a roll of this fabric?!?

Last one for today is from the May 1957 batch and shows the ticket booth for the Casey Jr. attraction:

A similar contemporary view:

See more Disneyland Fantasyland photos at my main website.