Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Temple Tuesday: Shirley, John, John, Allan, Lucy, and Sid

Shirley gently caresses the chin of her then-husband, John Agar, in this 1949 image taken on the set of “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” released by Republic Pictures on December 14, 1949. John Wayne was the star of the film. He had previously costarred with both John and Shirley in “Fort Apache” (1948):

“Iwo Jima” was directed by Allan Dwan, who also directed Shirley in “Heidi” (1937), “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (1938), and “Young People” (1940). Dwan is seen standing behind actress Helen Westley during the filming of “Rebecca” just out of the view of the camera:

John Wayne received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for “The Sands of Iwo Jima.” Although he lost to Broderick Crawford (“All The King’s Men”), he DID get his footprints and handprints placed at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in conjunction with the opening of the film there. 

From the John Wayne Facebook page I found the above shot along with this info:

Duke is hoisted up by a Marine to his right and Sid Grauman, owner of TCL Chinese Theatres​ ( Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) as he imprints his foot in the courtyard of the Hollywood landmark #onthisday in 1950 [January 25]. Duke’s performance in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) earned him this piece of immortality, and the role remains a favorite of fans and critics alike. The cement was mixed with sand from the beaches of Iwo Jima.

Here’s Shirley getting her own piece of immortality at Grauman’s fifteen years before Wayne:

One of the most famous episodes of “I Love Lucy” dealt with Lucy stealing Wayne’s cement slab from Grauman’s so that she could take it home as a souvenir. In a two-episode arc, it originally aired on October 3, 1955 (“Lucy Visits Grauman’s”) and October 10 (“Lucy & John Wayne”).


Watching the episode, you can tell that a soundstage set stood in for the real Grauman’s, and that a prop was created in place of using the actual cement slab. The prop came up for sale at Heritage Auctions in 2016.

From the auction listing:

A John Wayne Prop 'Grauman's Chinese Theatre' Signature/Footprint Slab from "I Love Lucy." CBS Television, 1951-1957. Made of Styrofoam and fiberglass, painted gray to simulate concrete, with text reading "John Wayne" (though funnily enough, not the star's real signature) above boot footprints, with purposeful distressing on the surface and around all edges, with a cracked upper right corner; used in the hysterical 1st and 2nd Episodes of Season 5 -- titled 'Lucy Visits Grauman's' and 'Lucy & John Wayne,' original air dates October 3 and 10, 1955 -- when the Red Head steals the Duke's footprints from Grauman's only to have wackiness ensue; a number of these props were made for the two-parter, four of which are actually seen at the end of Episode 2 when Wayne walks in to the "Ricardo's" hotel room carrying what appears to be this exact one! (Please note this piece is dirtied and somewhat stained due to age.) 24" x 36".  PROVENANCE: The current owner, Ardis Lichtgarn, obtained this piece directly from Wayne's publicist, Beverly Barnett, who gave it to her at the 1955 wrap party for this two-part episode which took place at Desilu Studios. Barnett had invited Lichtgarn to the party specifically so she could meet Wayne, but the star left early so she missed him. As a consolation, Barnett gave her this prop which he said was meant for Wayne, but because he was gone, she got it instead! Included is a signed letter from Lichtgarn outlining how she obtained this piece 61 years ago. 

The prop sold for $22,500. That’s an expensive piece of styrofoam! Here’s a vintage closeup of the actual cement slab at Grauman’s from the Calisphere site:

In this previously posted shot, Wayne has a chuckle during this reunion with Shirley in 1976. George Burns and a dentally-challenged Shelley Winters are on the left.

Here’s an image of the Grauman’s entrance that I snapped in 2014:

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Trip to Disneyland, May 1964

This collection of images was shot May 1964, the month and year I entered this Universe. In the background are three military men; one is smoking a cigarette, visible in this closeup (along with the little boy falling asleep while he drinks his coke!):

It looks like the family was having lunch at the Red Wagon Inn, now known as the Plaza Inn. A Reuben with mustard?

The adorable little girl is getting her Vitamin D with a nice carton of Carnation milk.

Care to see the pasteurization offices and plants? Of course you do.

Mama takes baby girl for a spin on King Arthur’s Carrousel:

Here’s the original mock-up for the proposed color scheme for this horse from 1955:

How it looked circa 2012:

Back to May 1964, the little boys are ready for a flight to Neverland:

A closeup of the bored operator, the two little devil boys in red, and the control panel. I wonder what the “G” on the hats stood for?

A spin around Fantasyland on the Midget Autopia:

Let’s take a closer look at the vehicle:

The Swiss Family Robinson treehouse wasn’t quite two years old when these images were taken:

The last shot of the bunch is the saddest of all; time to board the Tram to head home. Until next time!

See more photos at my main website.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Led Zeppelin at the Chateau

This 1969 photograph by Jay Thompson features the legendary band, Led Zeppelin, during their visit to the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. From left to right: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. One of the notorious legends about the Chateau is that Bonham (the drummer) drove a Harley motorcycle (his 25th birthday present through the hallway of the hotel. Having been born in 1948, Bonham’s 25th birthday would have been in 1973. The photos from the Chateau were 1969. Oops. Here’s the fire escape as it looks today where the above photo was taken:

The photographer stood on the fire escape steps for this one:

I stood at the top of the steps. Sorry. I get dizzy.

Another shot of the English rock band just hanging outside one of the hotel’s windows:

From faroutmagazine:

Legend has it Bonham rode a Harley Davidson right through the lobby of the hotel in an insane stunt he would repeat on a further two occasions while staying at the Continental Hyatt House Hotel and the Andaz West Hollywood.

Whilst Bonham was performing his trademark stunt, Robert Plant allegedly shouted: “I am a golden god!” from one of the hotel’s balconies which would be a scene repeated by character Russell Hammond in “Almost Famous.” The 2000 film was based on the hedonistic exploits of 1970s rock legends such as Led Zeppelin and the scene showcasing an inebriated rockstar riding a motorcycle through a hotel hallway was based on Zeppelin’s famous stay at the Chateau Marmont.

Bonham completely destroyed the hotel lobby’s carpet—which they kept in the state he had left it in to mark his legacy. However, when the hotel was purchased by Andre Balazs in 1990, the first thing he would do was replace the Bonham tire marks.

According to their former tour manager Richard Cole in the documentary “Sunset Strip,” when a hotel employee told them how envious he was that they could smash the rooms up, they told him to pick a room of his choice, vent his frustrations to his heart’s content which they would add to their bill and let the hotel worker live out their rockstar fantasy.

Here’s a color shot from the band’s visit:

The same area circa April 2002; the mural above the fountain is still there, but it appears that the wings that were once painted below the fountain are long gone.

The same fountain as it looks today:

See more Chateau Marmont photos at my main website.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Temple Tuesday: Shirley and Cher

This post is a Shirley sandwich; two Temples wrapped around a Cher filling.

On October 14, 1940 “The Littlest Rebel” was dramatized as an hour-long play for Lux Radio Theater, with Shirley Temple (five years older than when she made the movie), Claude Rains, and Preston Foster. The radio show was performed in front of a weekly studio audience at the Lux Radio Playhouse located at 1615 North Vine Street in Hollywood.

I had vague knowledge that the theatre still existed, but never dug further to find out exactly where it was…until (here comes the Cher filling) I learned it was connected to one of my semi-guilty cinematic pleasures: “Burlesque.” Released in 2010, the film did well at the box office but was panned by critics for being clichéd. I agree that the dialogue doesn’t win any literary awards, but the performances are solid, the set design and cinematography are fantastic, and the musical numbers are off the charts. So there. Give it a break. The exterior location that was used as the Burlesque club that Cher owns in the movie is the (former) CBS Radio Playhouse, now known as the Montalbán Theatre.

The Beaux-Arts building (designed by architects Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers) opened January 19, 1927 as “Wilkes’ Vine Street Theatre.” In March 1931, the theater was converted to a movie house, titled “Mirror Theatre,” part of a chain run by Howard Hughes and Harold B. Franklin. That company soon fell apart, and by the mid 1930s, the theatre was operating under the name “Studio Theatre.” CBS bought the theatre in 1936 and converted it to a live performance radio auditorium and radio studio for local affiliate KNX, under the name “CBS Radio Playhouse.” CBS’s Lux Radio Theatre moved there from New York that year (which is why some sources give the theatre’s name as Lux Radio Playhouse). This popular anthology show featured radio adaptations of stage plays and film scripts performed by well-known actors in front of a live audience; Cecil B. DeMille was for many years its producer and host. This was when Shirley performed “Rebel” there.

A&P heir and arts patron Huntington Hartford bought the theatre from CBS in 1953 and re-opened it as the “Huntington Hartford Theatre.” Hartford ran the theater successfully for ten years with high-profile productions featuring the biggest stars of the era, but he eventually lost interest in patronizing the arts and sold it to James Doolittle, who renamed it the “Doolittle Theatre.” Doolittle ran the theatre successfully for 20 years, after which it was acquired by UCLA. In 1999, the Ricardo Montalbán Foundation bought the theatre and re-opened it as “Ricardo Montalbán Theatre” in 2004. Which brings us to “Burlesque.”

In the film, Ali (Christina Aguilera) comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom. After pounding the pavement and failing to get discovered, she stumbles upon something that makes her stop cold.

Just in case you weren’t sure that this is a mystical turning point in the film, there’s plenty of fog to clue you in.

Lo and behold, it’s the Burlesque Lounge.

Little Ali is like Alice in Wonderland; she must check out this rabbit hole!

I combined a few frames from a pan shot in the movie to get this image:

How the same area looks today:

If you’re looking for the location where Cher has a catfight with Kristen Bell in a parking lot (shown below), you’re too late. The parking lot is now a multi-level parking garage.

One more shot of the exterior for you. I parked illegally on a Friday afternoon in Hollywood just to get these photos with my dog barking up a storm as he waited not-so-patiently. The things I do for Temple Tuesdays!

While doing some research for this post, I stumbled upon a fun 10th anniversary article about “Burlesque” on the Entertainment Weekly website. Here are some of the highlights:

STEVEN ANTIN (writer-director): My sister…had a show that she created at the Viper Room [for] the Pussycat Dolls. They were becoming a popular thing, so she decided to do a bigger show at the Roxy.…I wrote a story for her show that loosely weaved together their musical numbers. The show exploded.…I got some cameras and shot the show over a few nights and edited together a little movie. That was the genesis.

AGUILERA: I wanted to make sure Burlesque felt right before confirming, so it was important to meet Steven in person. His warm and genuine nature encouraged me to confirm, along with him interweaving so many pieces of my love for Etta James [into the script], knowing my personal passion for Burlesque [on] my Back to Basics album, and also [with me having] performed in the original Pussycat Dolls stage show at the Roxy.

ANTIN: For the role of Ali, we wanted an actress with a very big voice. Christina was the choice. The role of Tess could’ve gone several ways. At first, I was interested in Queen Latifah or Michelle Pfeiffer. But Clint came up with and loved the idea of Cher. Amy really wanted Cher, and so did Clint. I liked the idea, too. So did Christina. I mean, hello. Cher. Enough said…. Cher was on a soundstage doing a voiceover for “Zookeeper.” Clint heard she was there. We camped outside of the stage and waited for her to exit. When she did, we introduced ourselves.

CLINT CULPEPPER (Screen Gems studio president): Cher called me to say she was on the lot [on a different stage] rehearsing her Vegas act, and to drop by. So, I did. Christina was on the other side of the lot rehearsing. I’d told Cher that Christina loved her so much: “You don’t understand, this chick would drink your bathwater!” Cher started laughing hysterically and said, "Well, I hope that doesn't become necessary!” When we met Cher, Christina was holding her kid on her hip, and we walked over…. Cher [saw us] and went, “Ok, everybody, take five!” It was so cute. Christina stuck her hand out and said “Hi, I'm Christina, the one who would drink your bathwater.” Cher grabbed her and gave her a big hug and a kiss.

AGUILERA: Cher definitely felt like my mama bear during shooting. In my experience of meeting and working with some of the greatest legends, the best ones usually are that way. They look out for you in a real way, and it was an honor to work alongside Cher. She gave me some good advice, shared some personal insight and stories on love, and also encouragement along the way when I needed to hear it! There were a few scenes we shared where I learned from her that being a supportive costar really helps to create something special, and motivating each other is what makes for a great outcome.

CHER: One of my favorite scenes is when I was helping Christina with her makeup. It was all very spontaneous. It reminded me of when I was a young girl and my mom and all her friends would put on makeup together.

Back to Shirley. What did she do after her 1940 “Littlest Rebel” radio performance? Celebrate at the Brown Derby with a milkshake!

See more Hollywood photos at my main website.