Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Temple Tuesday: Shirley Gets Sued!

“Runt Page,” a Jack Hays production for Universal with the Baby Stars, released April 11, 1932. A spoof of the popular film, “The Front Page” (1931), it was a ten minute short that used toddlers with dubbed voices. It’s fairly painful to watch, but you can see that even at the tender age of three (turning four on April 23), Shirley and the camera had a love affair. Hays would go on to produce a series of “Baby Burlesks” shorts for Educational Pictures that continued to spoof famous Hollywood productions, but this time around utilized the actual voices of the children starring in them (which included Shirley). The picture above shows Shirley with the supporting cast of “War Babies” (1932), her first film in the series. Below, Hays poses with the kids while Shirley attempts to take a picture.

Educational Pictures was founded in 1916 by Earle Hammons; it is most famous for the Temple shorts as well as some featuring Buster Keaton, made when the great comedian’s career was on the downward trend. Educational folded in 1940, when Hammons’ attempt to enter features failed to secure backing. Astor Pictures purchased the sound shorts and took advantage of Shirley’s popularity by combining some of them into a longer film titled, “Our Girl Shirley” (1942). Here is a photo of Hays with Shirley; it is a bit disturbing, but makes for a good lead-in for today’s post.

In the May 1936 issue of Rural Progress magazine, there is an interesting story about Shirley’s rise to fame and who deserved the credit for it. The Al Hicks article is titled, “Who Made Shirley Temple?”

I have just left a guy in front of the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard who assured me, in no uncertain terms, that it was he who was responsible for Shirley Temple’s success.…He is exactly the eighty-third in six months to tell me the same tale—to say nothing of a half dozen children’s dramatic and dancing schools, out here in the “Violet Ray Belt,” assuring prospects they were the ones who trained the wonder child! I am about fed up on this wholesale hitch-hiking upon the little darling’s reputation.…Before I swing into action, let me assure you I am not a member of the Temple menage, nor am I on the publicity staff of any organization remotely connected with Shirley’s activity. Occasionally, when I am in the neighborhood, I drop in to see George Temple, Shirley’s father, at his desk in the bank he manages. Our conversation is usually general, with little or no reference to Shirley.…Secretly, I think he believes me to be a slicker, for it was my eloquence that inveigled him and Mrs. Temple into signing Shirley’s first unprofitable contract. Later, it was his own shrewd business sense that untangled him front it—but that is leaping ahead of my tale somewhat.

In December, 1931, I had just unleashed myself from the Hughes-Franklin Theatre organization and was ankling around Hollywood…when I bumped into my very dear friend, Jack Hays—later the Jack Hays Productions of Educational Studios.…He had a release with Universal Pictures.…He was to make one single-reel picture for them—a picture with an all kiddie cast. They were standing seventy-five per cent of the production cost and twenty-five per cent. If it was accepted, he could make five more of them. He had a stupendous idea—children in action, with adult voices dubbed in instead of their own voices when they spoke. He needed me to help train the kids, as well as to help raise the “cuff” to meet his twenty-five per cent of the costs. The film was to be made on Poverty Row in Hollywood, as best we could.…“Come on, Al, let’s get right over to the kids’ dramatic school and you can start helping rehearse ’em.” And so I went, and so I met The Temple.…In the center of the room, tiny Shirley was standing with an arm about the shoulders of her four-year-old leading man (who had a pout on his face from ear to ear). With her mouth close to his ear, so that she might be heard above the dynamic noise, she was saying: “And then, Georgie, that is where you come in and take my hand and run out with me.”…A word regarding the school, the casting and method of picking the kids for this picture. Shirley at the time was taking tap-dancing lessons.…By her own mother’s promotion, she had appeared already in one or two local affairs. In picking children for the picture, a certain height and age were required—along with a smattering of ability to obey simple instructions. Shirley was lined up with the rest and picked simply because she fitted the size and age mod. It was during rehearsals that her own work and obedience brought her to the fore as leading lady.

Later, the picture finished but neither approved nor even previewed, I was assigned to take a half dozen of the children and their parents over to Hays’ lawyer to sign a contract with The Hays Productions. It was, I believe, the usual child’s contract, approved by a court judge. I remember, though, that the financial gleanings were small and uncertain.…“Runt Page” was a flop—a dismal flop. But it so happened that, as an experiment, we had allowed the last spoken line in the film to come through in the child’s natural voice instead of dubbing in an adult voice as we had done with the rest of the picture. All the great massive minds engaged on the production of this opus then discovered that the childish voice, when accompanied by the child, was very cute and very funny.…So a release was obtained from Educational for six pictures along the line of our “amazing” discovery. Shirley worked through these six pictures, assisting more than she was assisted. Her mother was, and still is, her big asset. Mrs. Temple works with intelligence and understanding, training Shirley at home so that there is little to be done when she arrives for work. At times, I suspect Mother Temple of tap dancing a little, or a great deal (perhaps I’ll be sued for this), in order to help Shirley in this branch of her artistry. This last crack is only really funny if you know Mrs. Temple. Nevertheless, the credit for real, persistent guiding must go to Shirley’s mother.

Toward the end of this series, Shirley got her first chance to work in a feature, by being farmed out to another studio. I was elected to accompany her there, the old Tiffany Studios, I believe it was, at Vermont and Sunset. The picture, if memory serves me, was “Red Haired Alibi.” Mr. and Mrs. Temple remained in the car while I went in with the tiny Temple. We found the stage where they were just setting and lining up for the morning’s shooting. Shirley was not to be used until the afternoon, but we wanted some information on the part, costume, etc. I stopped outside the shooting lines and sat down behind the cameras on a roll of rugs and said: “Shirley, I don’t know this director’s name, but there he is out there in that folding chair. It would be a lot better if you could go out there alone and introduce yourself. You’re really not hired yet, and it will help if you go by yourself. Want to try it?” “Yes, I can talk to him, Mr. Hicks.” She walked slowly out, dodging a “juicer” that was laying a lamp cable. I’m Shirley Temple. I take good direction; I work up at Educational. If you want me here, will you please tell me what time and what to wear?” She got the job.

After the series at Educational was released, there was a long period of waiting in hopes of another series the following year. Meanwhile, Hays opened a training school for children down at Culver City, using his finished series and the one “he was going to make” as sort of bait. I faded out of the picture at this point but little Shirley was forced to attend this school so many days a week under the guise of “rehearsal and training.” In reality, she furnished a choice piece of bait for the other kiddies’ mothers. But Hays finally took a plea in bankruptcy. It was then that Mr. Temple showed artful business insight in managing to buy Shirley‘s contact out of the receiver’s listings.

Apparently, George Temple paid $25 for that contract. He also wrote Hays on October 30, 1933, confirming his ownership of the contract, which was still in Hays’ physical possession. Hays didn’t respond, but legally, that was of no consequence. Hays filed his first suit on October 7, 1936, against the Temples, 20th Century-Fox, the California Bank, and the California Trust Company, claiming that he was owed $500,000 in damages and an additional one-half of Shirley’s earnings from radio, ad contracts, endorsements, and other incomes, estimated at an additonal $500k as compensation for all of the training (singing, voice culture, and drama) that he provided Shirley out of his own pocket. He claimed he was not given notice of the bankruptcy asset sale and therefore it was null and void. The suite was dismissed three months later, with a similar suit also dismissed a year later on January 27, 1938.

Jack soldiered on though, serving Shirley’s mother a subpoena in March 1939. This decision came much quicker (during the same month) and was also thrown out. Hays appealed the decision, increasing his claim to $700k. To avoid any further nuisance from the determined producer, they settled out of court for $3,500.

Most of the versions available of the Baby Burlesks are horrid quality; blown out, scratchy, and duped from old 8 and 16mm prints. I discovered that Cinemuseum LLC acquired all of the source materials from Education and as of 2018, they were in the process of scanning/restoring them for home media. Let’s hope that happens soon!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Monday at Morning Call

Need that jolt of joe to get your morning going? If you were in New Orleans circa July 1960 (that’s almost 63 years ago for those of you who don't have a calculator), you would probably be at Morning Call, which was New Orleans’ Most Famous Coffee Drinking Place. Or so says the slogan. Forget the coffee, I’m more interested in the vintage T-Bird!

Just as an FYI, Morning Call is not the same as Café du Monde, which is in the same area but about a block away. If you look on the left of this shot, you can see Morning Call in the background.

And it looks like both places are still in biz. I’m not a huge coffee guy, so I typically go to du Monde for the beignets.

See more New Orleans photos at my main website.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Tony Curtis Takes A Wild Ride

In 1962, Tony Curtis starred in the comedy “40 Pounds of Trouble.” This lackluster remake of Shirley Temple’s “Little Miss Marker” (1934) has at least one redeeming feature: beautiful color footage of Disneyland, shot with permission from Walt himself (albeit with minor script changes that he suggested first). Here’s Tony attempting to escape a detective (Tom Reese) hot on his trail as he dashes through the Teacup attraction. I wonder if there was any eye makeup left for costar Suzanne Pleshette after Tony was finished prepping for the film?

In between takes, Tony took his daughter Kelly (left) and costar Claire Wilcox (who played the Shirley Temple role) on Mr. Toad’s wild adventure.

Maybe Tony enjoyed the drag makeup from “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and decided to keep it.

A few screenshots from the movie that give rare interior views of Mr. Toad:

See more Disneyland Mr. Toad photos at my main website.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Temple Tuesday: Shirley Gets A Shiner

On June 5th, 1937, Shirley had an accident on the set of “Heidi” at 20th Century-Fox that caused a flurry of headlines! Although the times were much more innocent than now, Hollywood gossip was still the rage, as seen in this collection of “news” stories (thanks Melissa, aka “The Colonel,” for digging these up!).

Shirley Temple Acquires Real “Shiner”

HOLLYWOOD, June 7. (U.P.)—Shirley Temple had a black eye today. The child star tripped on an electric wire at 20th Century-Fox studio Saturday and fell head-first. She was cut over her left eye and a first-class ‘shiner’ began to develop. Make-up experts patched up the damage and Shirley bravely finished her day’s work before the cameras.

Look at that set! It’s no wonder little Shirley tripped. That long cord is an accident just waiting to happen!

More “news” clips of the day documenting Shirley’s fall:

Shirley Temple has a black eye but, like the older movie stars, she cleverly hides it with a pair of dark glasses. She got the shiner tripping over a light cord in the studio.
Pain-in-the-neck Publicity “Cheers from her fellow workers greeted Shirley Temple’s return to the set of ‘Heidi’ at 20th-Fox the day after she fell down and acquired a black eye.”
Guess Who?
The curls are a dead giveaway and, in spite of the black glasses, you know it is Shirley Temple. Shirley tripped over a lamp cord on a set in Hollywood and sports the glasses to cover a lovely shiner which developed from the bump. Now she’s “one of the gang.”
Shirley Is Proud Of First Black Eye
Shirley Temple has a shiner! It’s a real mouse, of the old-fashioned plum-colored variety, and little Miss Temple is as proud of her darkened optic as any child could be. The curly-headed star acquired her black eye when she tripped on a light cable on the set of “Heidi,” her new picture at 20th Century-Fox, and fell against a wall. For the next week, until the eye resumes its normal color, she will make no closeups.

In this photo, Shirley removed her glasses for the press:

Want to see the bike brand? It appears to be a Skippy Racer, which debuted in 1933. From the Online Bicycle Museum website:

Skippy was an American comic strip written and drawn by Percy Crosby and published from 1923 to 1945. A highly popular, acclaimed and influential feature about rambunctious fifth-grader Skippy Skinner, his friends and his enemies, it was adapted into films, a novel and a radio show. Skippy’s creator, Percy Crosby, retained the copyright to his character, which was unusual at the time. Such was the popularity of the comic strip that at one point he was earning around $2,500 a week …more than the US President. The novel was published in 1929, and there were also Skippy dolls, toys, board games, commemorative plates and product endorsements. Jackie Cooper starred in the 1931 Skippy film, which was nominated for four Academy Awards. From 1933, American National Co used the Skippy name for a complete range of their products, including bicycles, tricycles, scooters, pedal cars, coaster wagons and sleds. Rosefield Packing Co also used the Skippy trademark for its peanut butter in 1933, but this was a blatant copyright infringement. In 1922, Joseph Rosefield had developed a process to hydrogenate peanut oil. This kept oil from separating from peanuts, which meant that peanut butter could be fresh for months. Rosefield licensed his process to Swift & Co. who in turn had a hit with its ‘Peter Pan peanut butter.’ In 1933, Rosefield Packing Co cashed in on the Skippy popularity by using the name. Rosefield even replicated the fence image used for the comic’s titles as a key part of their branding. Although Crosby’s lawyers litigated and won, the food company ignored the ruling and continued to use the Skippy label.

In case you missed it, Shirley points to her shine, as she poses on her front porch:

Want to see that spot today? I knew you did.

From black eyes to bicycles to peanut butter; you just never know what you’ll discover on Temple Tuesday!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

The “Ugly Baby” in New Orleans Square

Yesterday, my most faithful reader brought to my attention a YouTube video that mentioned my website as “invaluable.” My first question was…why does my bank account not reflect that? Putting that aside, I took a look at the ReviewTyme YouTube channel. The title of the video that mentioned my site was “The Mystery of Disneyland’s Ugly Baby.” Intrigued, I watched the entire 21 minute video which details a statue that resided in New Orleans Square. The first photo from my collection shows the original models for that land which opened in July of 1966. On the right of the model you see the corner of Café Orleans and a low fence; this is the area where the statue was placed originally (although not part of the model). The earliest shot in my collection that shows the actual statue is a rear view. Literally. From July 1967:

The statue that Dom from ReviewTyme refers to as “The Ugly Baby” appears to have originally been a young maiden who faced towards the guests dining at Café Orleans.

This image from October 1967…

confirms that theory:

How about a genuine FauxD© shot from July 1968?

Grainy, but still there.

December 1968:

And then, as Dom pointed out, my collection goes dark until March 2010:

At some point during that large gap of time, the statue was replaced and also turned outward. The young maiden was transformed into a cherub:

The only closeup in my collection is from February 2011:

February 2012:

A year later, the statue seems to have begun a quick descent into obliteration; the erosion on the face is especially noticeable.

Flash forward to the last time I captured this statue in May 2015:

The face has begun to look grotesque with a misshapen mouth:

What happened after 2015? You’ll have to watch all of ReviewTyme’s video to find out!

See more photos at my main website.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

(Semi) Wild West Wednesday

I’m a sucker for Rainbow Ridge images, that highly detailed town (that didn’t have to be!) that was part of the Nature’s Wonderland attraction at Disneyland. This August 1965 shot is particularly nice, with an assortment of props and posters on the porch of the General Store/Post Office.

This appears to be a vintage ad for some kind of laundry product:

This is how the General Store looks as of the last time I photographed it in 2015 (yikes!) from my Big Thunder Mountain Railroad car zipping by:

…and a wider angle view from 2008:

This portion of Rainbow Ridge that can seen in this January 1969 shot is no longer there.

No more Dance Hall; I guess the nearby Golden Horseshoe Saloon will have to do!

See more Disneyland Nature's Wonderland photos at my main website.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Temple Tuesday: Shirley & Francis

Here we have a vintage postcard showing Francis Carpenter (thanks Melissa, aka “The Colonel”), who was a child star for Fox Studio during the silent era. His short career lasted from 1915-1923 and included roles in “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” (1917), “Jack and the Beanstalk” (1917), “Treasure Island” (1918), and “Rip Van Winkle” (1921). Below, you can see him posing with another famous Fox child star, Shirley Temple in 1934.

Here’s the accompanying caption:

A ONE-TIME CHILD STAR VISITS THE NEWEST FIND. Francis Carpenter, child star of silent days under the Fox Film banner, made a visit to his old home “lot” during filming of “Baby Take A Bow” to visit Shirley Temple, blonde and be-dimpled starlet featured in the film with James Dunn and Claire Trevor.

Francis was 24 at the time this photo was taken and Shirley was 6. How do I know?

Because the magazine rolled up in Francis’ hand is the May 19, 1934 issue of Liberty; Francis’ birthday was May 10, and Shirley’s was April 23. They had both recently celebrated at the time the photo was taken on the set of “Baby Take a Bow.”

I found little else about Carpenter other than he died in 1973 shortly after turning 63. However, I did find this interesting article about his 1917 “Aladdin” film, and how Disney has quietly dumped the older Fox films into the figurative vault, making them inaccessible to future audiences. The article is part of a series titled “Forgotten By Fox” that ended in December 2020.

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Monday at the Mirador

Back in the day, El Mirador was a popular name in real estate. For Palm Springs, it represented the hotel that opened on New Year’s Eve, 1928. Set on 20 acres of prime desert property, according to vintage postcards, amenities included swimming, tennis, golf (the desert’s first!), riding, skeet and other sports that could be enjoyed all winter long in this “Garden of the Sun.”

The Spanish-Colonial Revival-style bell tower was a Palm Springs landmark.

A shot of the Olympic-sized swimming pool:


Ah, desert living at its best. Lazy days by the pool.

How about the blow-up toy on the left? At first I thought it was a cheetah, but zooming in it appears to be a fish of some kind.

Anyone remember Eddy Howard?

The hotel/tower were featured in a number of advertisements, including this one for Hertz:

The hotel was converted into the Desert Hospital in 1972. The original tower burned down in 1989, but was rebuilt from the original plans. How it looks today:

Over in West Hollywood, there are the El Mirador apartments, built in 1929 and designed by S. Charles Lee:

Over the last decade or so, this building has been embroiled in historic preservation legal battles. When I walked by in December, it appeared that they were being renovated.

See more Palm Springs photos at my website.