Sunday, March 31, 2024

In Your Easter Bonnet: Disneyland Hotel Cheesecake

While this vintage shot may seem like a stretch for Easter, those hats on the models sure look like Easter bonnets to me! These lovely young ladies are posing in front of the Disneyland Hotel, circa…? Below is a shot of the hotel from 1956. Amazing how a little detail like the distinctive metal work can set off bells in someone’s brain (mine) and standout as a feature of vintage Disneyland. I really need to get a life…

The transparencies were undated, so I have no idea when they were shot, but…back to my vintage Disneyland obsessed brain, I recall that on Main Street tucked in a corner (aka Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner), guests could buy swimwear at Cole of California.

This shot of the display window sure looks like it matches the style of attire in the cheesecake shot! If it was a publicity shot for Cole of California, that would narrow the timeframe to between 1956-1957 when the store was in operation at the Park.

A second image from the shoot for your enjoyment:

If you celebrate Easter, I hope you have a joyous celebration today!

See more Disneyland Hotel photos at my main website.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Betty Lou Gets A Book

I was recently contacted by a marketing rep about reading the book, The Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story by Lona Bailey, PhD. Admittedly, Gerson has never really been high on my radar, but I was aware that she was the vocal talent behind one of the most famous animated villains of all-time, Cruella de Vil, from Disney’s “101 Dalmations.” Having recently finished the book, I can’t say I’d recommend it. Clocking in at a little over 100 pages of biographical text (in large print, no less), it reads more like a college term paper, with plenty of gaps of info that unfortunately seem to hit just as the author stumbles upon something halfway interesting. The book also includes a large appendix with chronological listings of Betty’s work; in fact almost half of the book is dedicated to these exhaustive lists. I commend Bailey on her work in digging up the list of vintage radio broadcasts, but can’t applaud her for her writing skills or ability to create a biography that digs deeply into the source material beyond what could be found on Wikipedia.

If you want to learn new information about Betty’s work at Disney (which began with the voice-over narration of “Cinderella”), you’ll be sorely disappointed. In fact, her work at Disney is glossed over with a scant four pages on “Dalmation.” I patiently waded through pages upon pages of background info about Betty’s family history and the abundance of explanatory text of the hurdles women had to overcome because of the societal constraints of the time. In describing Betty’s narrator gig for “Cinderella,” the author states:

No cast or crew member of “Cinderella” knew they were contributing to a legendary film or legendary production company that would become and stay a household name for decades after. It was simply business as usual, though the element of animation was certainly a twist of novelty.

You lost me, Lona. Business as usual? At the point “Cinderella” got the green light, Disney animation was struggling as it hadn’t had a financial hit since “Snow White” (1937). The studio was staying afloat thanks to making Government films during the war. The studio’s financial livelihood and success rested on the shoulders of the animated heroine and her glass slipper. I’m not sure who Lona interviewed for this portion, but it couldn’t have been anyone associated with the Disney Studio. In the few pages she writes about “Dalmatians,” she completely disappoints again, giving very little new info about Gerson’s part in the production. Bailey manages to misspell the name of Mary Wickes, the actress who was used as the live-action reference model for Cruella because Gerson didn’t quite have the physical look that animator Marc Davis was seeking (even though Bailey claims that Cruella was “Gersons’s wicked animated alter-ego”). For me, the book offered few relevatory bits of info, other than discovering that Gerson was an acting coach for a very young Mary Tyler Moore. Even that tidbit was a disappointment as there was no further information about whether the two kept in contact over the years or what Mary thought of her in retrospect.

As far as photos, the cover shot is all you get. Thanks to ebay, I can provide these two images. The shot above shows Betty Lou and her husband, Joseph Ainley. From the accompanying 1936 publicity blurb:

Radio Actress Married In Chicago Photo shows Joseph T. Ainley, Chicago Advertsiing Company official and his bride, the former Betty Lou Gerson, 22 year old radio actress. The couple were married in Chicago April 27, upon Miss Gerson’s arrival from the West Coast where she appeared on a radio program, and the couple kept the marriage secret until April 29. 

Above is a shot from Betty’s 1949 anti-communist film, “The Red Menace.”

Finally, a painting I did a few years back of the most famous character that Betty Lou voiced, Cruella de Vil.

Betty, you deserved better.

See more photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Temple Tuesday: More Marilyn

In this publicity still for Shirley Temple’s 1935 film, “Curly Top,” her first stand-in, Marilyn Granas, can be seen standing next to Shirley on the left side of the photo. This was one of the few times that Marilyn got any actual screen time in a Shirley movie.

A year before, she posed for this still taken during the making of “Bright Eyes.”

From the accompanying caption:

FRIENDS — Shirley Temple, helmeted, and Marilyn Granas, her stand-in and playmate, about to take “Rags” out for a promenade along dressing room row at the Fox Film studio where Shirley is now engaged on “Bright Eyes.”

If Rags looks familiar, that’s because you probably recall her (yes, her) playing Toto in “The Wizard of Oz.” Shirley met him before Judy did! Below is a shot of Marilyn when I met her in 2018 at a little get together in Los Angeles commemorating what would have been Shirley Temple’s 90th birthday.

You can read more about that evening from my previous blog post.

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

All In The Details, Pt. 2

One of the great advantages to having the original source material is that it allows you to zoom in on specific areas and look at some of those glorious details! In this September 1969 shot, we can see that the ticket booth is closed (what’s a guest to do?!?) and get a better look at the signage. “Purchase tickets here for Tomorrowland Adventures.” No ticket, no adventure.

The ho-hum Astro Jets attraction got a lift with the “New” Tomorrowland revamp in 1967…literally. Here the newly christened Rocket Jets attraction sits high atop the PeopleMover platform.

Here’s a somewhat run-of-the-mill Main Street shot from 1957 with the Omnibus lumbering towards Central Plaza.

Zooming in, we can see that the photographer captured the sign for the former Hollywood Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel shop all covered up, waiting for the new sign that would say, “China Closet.”

Over in Fantasyland, on the Peter Pan’s Flight attraction, we see Peter flying the Darling children back to London.

In the lower portion of the image you can see the Crew List book:

Walt Disney himself gave these lucky kids a tour of Frontierland before the actual opening of the Park.

Looks like Mickey Mouse was included as well.

See more Disneyland photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Temple Tuesday: Shirley in the Clubhouse

On Halloween of 1969, the sixth episode of season 1 of “The Brady Bunch” aired on ABC-TV. Titled, “A Clubhouse Is Not a Home,” it dealt with the common theme of the boys vs. the girls. In a classic battle of the sexes, the Brady boys do not want their sisters to have access to their clubhouse. In this overhead shot of the Brady girls’ bedroom, I noticed something on the bed near Jan.

Could the soft brown curls of that doll be those of an Ideal Shirley Temple doll?

Mike talks things over with the boys and tries to get them to understand the situation. He doesn’t do a very good job, and his heart is obviously not in it.

The girls redecorate the boys’ sacred space, and this makeover does not go over well!

The doll hanging on the wall is the same one from the bedroom. Note the Raggedy Andy doll next to it.

Yup! That’s a 1950’s Shirley Temple vinyl doll. At the time this episode was shot, the doll itself would have been about ten years old, as the most recent release of Shirley dolls occurred in the late 1950s to coincide with the actress’ TV series, “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” and “The Shirley Temple Show.”

Here’s how that 17" doll looks today:

She had what were called “flirty eyes,” and they would roll from side to side, giving shade and attitude depending upon the angle the head was tilted. Unfortunately, all these years later, they don’t always work in coordination, giving Shirley a bit of a wonky-eye. A simple slap to the side of the head can remedy this situation! Long enough for a picture, that is.

The curls on the back of the 1950’s vinyl doll were much looser and softer than those of the 1930’s dolls that Ideal released. While the vinyl of these dolls was much more play-friendly than the brittle composition used in the previous incarnation, these dolls often discolor over time.

Back to the Brady episode: the final solution was that the boys helped build a beautiful pink clubhouse for the girls so that each of them had their own retreat in the astro-turfed backyard.

It was definitely not one of the stronger episodes, and if I recall correctly, neither clubhouse was viewed again.

See more classic Movie & TV photos at my main website.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Milestone Running Monday

For more years than I can remember, I have both shopped AND run at Milestone Running store in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. It’s been so long since I first discovered this place that I don’t even quite remember how I stumbled upon them. Most likely it was from my days of half marathons when I became dissatisfied with the zero-knowledge super stores that purported to be for runners but were more about the sale than being truly helpful. Milestone is in a league of their own, with employees that know about running and take the time to help each person that shops there until they find exactly what they need. If they don’t have it they’ll order it, rather than shove you into something that doesn’t quite do the job but does help clear the inventory. Greg and Chad are the owners that I have gotten to know over the years (no photos of Chad; he’s the shy one that hides in the wings!). Besides running gear, they also “sell” their Wednesday run club. I use quotes because they charge ZERO for this weekly experience. Here’s how run club works: you arrive at 6pm, listen to announcements from Greg (upcoming races, introducing various vendors that are onsite that evening, tips about the evening’s routes), run either the 3 or 5 mile course through the neighborhood, regroup at Milestone, win any number of fun raffle prizes (the coveted one is the weekly pineapple), and then meet at a different eating/drinking establishment afterwards. In case you missed it the first time, they charge zip, zilcho, zero.

When the pandemic hit, many activities went down the toilet as businesses shuttered and we were told to stay inside. No activity was missed more than Wednesday night run club. I was overjoyed when it came back with a vengeance. I forgot that after the run, Milestone also supplies water and either watermelon or orange slices for replenishment.

The prizes are creative beyond belief. Even if I don’t win, half the fun is hearing what Greg and team have concocted. For national coconut day, the bounty I won included a coconut, coconut water, coconut brew, and an almond joy bar.

I have also won the weekly pineapple prize a few times, too.

Run club is about more than just running and prizes; it is an amazing weekly social connection. I have invited many friends and most say, “I’m really not a great runner!” IT DOESN’T MATTER. All skill levels arrive and walk away with having had an incredible time. The camaraderie of this group is off the charts. At last week’s run club, Greg shared a video put together by Brooks. In just about ten minutes, they perfectly capture the spirit of my favorite running store and the incredibly selfless team of people behind it. Definitely worth the watch.

Thanks, Greg & Chad!

See more Daveland photos at my main website.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

All In The Details, Pt. 1

This shot of the white swans in the Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle moat from approximately 1957 yields some interesting info. When zooming in, you can see the banner promoting the Richfield Autopia Fantasyland Autopia. Yes, the myths are true. There were once multiple Autopia attractions at Disneyland!

Don’t believe me? Just take a look at this December 1956 image:

I’ve always wondered if that Eagle “landed” anywhere?

Back to the first image…if you shifted your camera to the right, you would see the Monsanto House of the Future, as long as it was June 1957. I am guessing the swan shot was taken before construction on the HOF had begun.

This panorama from December 1956 gives you an idea of what the area surrounding the moat looked like at that time.

No Matterhorn…no Snow White Wishing Well…no House of the Future. Just a mound of dirt and some trees, “themed” as Holiday Hill, Lookout Mountain, Snow Hill, and unofficially “Lover’s Lane.”

Snow White’s Wishing Well joined the landscape here in 1961:

So many tangents from one image.

See more vintage & contemporary Disneyland photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Temple Tuesday: Dimples and Romance

Actress Astrid Allwyn had supporting roles in two back-to-back Shirley Temple films, starting with “Dimples” (released October 16, 1936) and followed by “Stowaway” (released December 25, 1936). Allwyn was born Astrid Christofferson on November 27, 1905 in South Manchester, Connecticut. At age 13, she was offered a scholarship to the Boston Conservatory of Music for her singing, but declined rather than move away from home. After high school graduation, she moved to New York, hoping for a career as a concert singer, but ended up taking classes at a business college and becoming a typist on Wall Street. She studied dancing and dramatics while in New York and later gathered experience by joining a stock company. Allwyn made her Broadway debut in 1929 in Elmer Rice’s “Street Scene,” and on the strength of her second play, “Once in a Lifetime,” was brought to Hollywood in 1932. Her first husband was actor Robert Kent, who also starred in “Dimples.” Although she played the gold-digging “other woman” in “Dimples” (Delma Byron, seen below with Robert Kent and Shirley, played the romantic lead) Allwyn ended up winning the leading man in real life. Ain’t that grand?

Allwyn told the story of how she and Kent fell in love in the November 1937 issue of Hollywood Magazine:

Astrid up and got herself married about six months ago to Robert Kent, 20th Century-Fox star, and a mighty good actor in his own right and a chap who is going places in the picture business before he is through. “Frank Morgan can take credit for the start of our romance,” Astrid reveals. “We were shooting a scene in the Shirley Temple picture “Dimples” where Robert was supposed to kiss me. Whether it was because he was shy or because he scarcely knew me,  he suggested to Bill Seiter, the director, that he merely kiss my hand. Bill had some suggestions of his own—and Robert was told to kiss me the way a boy should kiss a girl. Well, the cameras began to grind and we began to kiss. Frank Morgan was supposed to interrupt the embrace with a bit of dialogue but as he said later ‘I didn’t have the heart’ so we kept it up until Bill finally yelled out. From that time on—thanks to Frank Morgan—we began a friendship that ended where we are now—happily married and deeply in love.”

The marriage took place shortly after “Stowaway” wrapped up production, when the two headed south to Tijuana for the ceremony. They married on January 10, 1937, as announced in the Hanover Evening Sun on January 18, 1937:

Astrid Allwyn and Robert Kent, film players, have disclosed they were married Sunday, January 10 in Tijuana, Mexico. The only attendant was J. Edward Bromberg, screen actor. The couple obtained their marriage licenses under their true names of Astrid Christofferson and Douglas Blackley. Their romance began last spring.

Bromberg also costarred in “Stowaway,” seen at left below with Alice Faye, Temple, and Robert Young.

Below are Allwyn and Eugene Pallette in a scene that was ultimately deleted from the final film. Once again, she played a woman with less than desirable morals, about to blackmail Robert Young for some moolah.

The scene below was also deleted from “Stowaway.” Allwyn is barely visible in the final film, hardly earning her onscreen credit.

Despite being “happily married,” Astrid and Robert were divorced in 1941. Allwyn had the distinction of appearing in three Best Picture Oscar nominated films: “The White Parade” (1934), “Love Affair” (1939), and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939). She married a second time in 1941 to businessman Charles O. Fee. After filming Hit Parade of 1943 (1943), Astrid made a decision to retire so she could focus on family and raising her children. One of her daughters, Melinda Fee, had a modestly successful career in movies and television. Astrid remained married to Charles until her death in Los Angeles on March 31, 1978 from cancer, at age 72. She is buried in Forest Lawn in Glendale, Court of Freedom, #955.

Above is a publicity shot for Fox, shot by Gene Kornman in 1936. The accompanying blurb:

Hollywood continues to smile upon the small hat and triumphantly demonstrates that size imposes no limits in either beauty or variety. Turbans are strong in the mode and imbued with exceptional charm — as witness this black velvet model by William Lambert, 20th Century-Fox stylist, and worn by lovely Astrid Allwyn, featured player of the same studio. The round crown is effectively trimmed with a black cellophane novelty. The ring worn by Miss Allwyn is one of her heirlooms from Sweden — a floral design in mosaic is set in jet and mounted in antique gold.

She may not have had a huge career, but in Shirley-world, Astrid Allwyn was the perfect villainess for “Dimples.”

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.