Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Temple Tuesday: Shirley and the Strad

Publicity is the name of the game, and Shirley Temple not only publicized her movies, but others that were being filmed at the Fox lot. This publicity still shows Shirley with famed violinist Rubinoff. From the accompanying caption:

When Shirley Temple, home from Honolulu, dropped in to visit Dick Powell on the “Thanks a Million” set at Twentieth Century-Fox she found a new friend in Rubinoff, the famous violinist. As a gesture of friendship, Rubinoff allowed her to play with his $100,000 violin - a great compliment.

It appears that Rubinoff owned the violin until 1986 when he died, at which time it passed to his wife, Darlene, who owned it until 2000. I found the violin listed on an auction site with this information:

Rubinoff acquired the “Maurin” Stradivarius, built in 1731, in the late 1920s or 1930s from the Wurlitzer Co., acting as an agent for instrument collector Nathan E. Posner. According to the book How Many Strads? by Ernest Doring,…Posner bought the violin from a woman in Paris. It was known as the “Maurin,” presumably named after a famous late 19th-century French violinist, Jean Pierre Maurin. Mrs. Rubinoff recalled that the violin had been carried out of Russia before the 1917 revolution by the czar's family, hence the name by which Rubinoff called it, the “Romanoff” Strad. Neither Fushi nor the book mentions a Russian history, however. Mrs. Rubinoff said the czar's family sold it to a French courtesan. This part of the story meshes with that in the Doring book, though the timing may not. Fushi believes that Rubinoff had two copies of the original made, that the copies were good, and that the actual Strad may have been sold about 25 years ago to someone in Japan. He offered to authenticate and appraise the violin Mrs. Rubinoff has.

From Rubinoff’s L.A. Times obituary:

Rubinoff was born in Russia, one of five children of a tobacco factory worker and a laundress. He was 5 when he persuaded his parents to buy him a violin. He was studying music at the Royal Conservatory of Warsaw in 1911 when he met composer Victor Herbert, who was so impressed he brought the entire Rubinoff family to Pittsburgh. Rubinoff attended Forbes School in Pittsburgh, where he roomed with John Philip Sousa and became the leader of the school’s orchestra. He worked part-time in a cafe, playing his violin, and sold newspapers on the streets. Rubinoff eventually became a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and went on to guest-conduct orchestras in this country and abroad. His big break came when he got a job as a regular conductor and soloist at the Paramount in New York City. Rudy Vallee saw him and brought him to the attention of the Chase & Sanborn coffee company, which signed him to an NBC contract for “The Eddie Cantor Show.” From 1931 to 1935 “Rubinoff and His Violin” was a regular feature on the show, also known as “The Chase & Sanborn Hour.” The violinist also remained with the program when it moved to CBS from 1935 to 1938. Although Rubinoff’s music was known to millions his voice was not. Reportedly because of his accent, the lines he supposedly read on the air were delivered by Lionel Stander or Teddy Bergman. Over the years Rubinoff performed at the White House for presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy.

One more interesting tidbit about Rubinoff. A woman brought a breach of promise lawsuit against Rubinoff in 1937, alleging that he’d invited her to his apartment to see a collection of etchings, seduced her, and later refused to marry her when she claimed to be pregnant. The case was settled, but “Come up and see my etchings” became a popular catchphrase as a result. Remember it being used in “Terms of Endearment”?

The photo below is from Dick Powell’s movie, “Thanks a Million,” the film set that Shirley visited and had her photo taken with Rubinoff.

From the publicity caption:


Dick Powell receives a violin lesson between takes on the “Thanks a Million” set at Twentieth Century-Fox. His music master is none other than Rubinoff, the famous radio violinist. The star is probably the only beginner to commence his lessons on a $100,000 Stradivarius.

Sorry Dick, Shirley was first!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.


Melissa said...

Such a crush on Dick Powell I had.

Daveland said...

Good thing June Allyson didn't know!