Sunday, June 30, 2024

Lena and Susan - A Birthday Celebration!

The heavens released two stars of the highest caliber on this day! For the first birth-aversary we have one of my favorite singers, Lena Horne. The woman exuded class with every song that she sang. A minimum of movement was her signature, along with those expressive eyes.

These three photos are from Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall. The episode aired Feb 13, 1964, and featured Lena Horne and Dean Martin. Lena sang the duet, “Every Little Star” with Perry while wearing this outfit.

Even though the quality of this video clip is not stellar, the talent of these three still comes through. Horne eclipses the two males.

The other birth-aversary for today is Susan Hayward, the star of one of my favorite tear-jerking melodramas, “Back Street” (1961). Playing a fashion designer who finds herself as “the other woman,” you can’t help but root for her.

Hayward was able to portray a cool beauty, even with her fiery auburn locks that were perfectly suited for the Technicolor cameras.

“What? It’s my birthday?”  

With a warm, genuine smile, Hayward appealed to both men and women.

They sure don’t make ’em like Lena and Susan anymore!

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Happy (Belated) Birthday, June!

Yesterday was the 99th birthday of beloved actress, June Lockhart. While she had a number of memorable roles throughout her long career (starting in 1938 with “A Christmas Carol”), she will always be Maureen Robinson to me. From 1965-1968, she played everyone’s favorite space-age mother on “Lost in Space.” Unlike many of the other early TV-moms, Maureen Robinson had a career as a doctor, often challenging and pushing back (successfully!) against some of the stubborn males in the show. ALWAYS with love, though!

In the first episode, she passes out when her body is re-animated from the Jupiter 2’s freezing tubes. It would be one of the few times that her character was helpless.

She brought a warmth, strength, and dash of comedy to all her roles. It was somewhat disappointing that the campy Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) overshadowed the central heart of the show, Maureen and John Robinson (Guy Williams). When that occurred, a promising drama about the space family Robinson descended into a silly hour of having to listen to Harris’ character mug, moan, and eventually have to be rescued. My caption for the photo below would be Harris telling Lockhart and Williams:

OK, here’s how it’s going to be. I’m going to ad lib my role and endear myself to producer Irwin Allen, while you two will end up in the background. Got it?

Below is a behind the scenes shot from the Shirley Temple movie, “Miss Annie Rooney” (1942).

Seated at the table, you can see the back of June’s head at left, then Shirley, and Dickie Moore. Gloria Holden and Jonathan Hale are in back.

June’s character, Stella Bainbridge, is a snotty young rich girl and rival to Shirley. Dickie Moore’s character, Marty White, refers to her as “an old drizzle puss!” Here she is in a screenshot from the movie (far left), looking disapprovingly at Shirley’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks character, Annie Rooney.

Miss Annie Rooney wins out in the end. Marty’s parents, played by Hale and Holden, are won over by Annie’s dance moves. The drizzle puss is left out.

Before June and Shirley made “Rooney,” they attended school together. As June recalled in a Time article written when Shirley died in 2014:

I was at Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles and in 1941, Shirley joined as a freshman. It was her first school experience with other students because up until that time she’d been tutored on the set at Fox. Her contract had run out, so she had the opportunity to go to a real school and interact with the girls. We wore uniforms at Westlake and she integrated very easily into the student body once she learned about uniform compliance. It turned out that I being a junior at the time was one of the people on the committee that had to watch them all go into morning assembly and I had to make sure that the skirts weren’t too short, and that there was absolutely no lipstick and no rouge. So once Shirley got the hang of having to take off her lipstick and rouge every morning, she was fine. But of course, this is something she’d been so used to all her life. She was very charming about it though. I joined the military drill team at Westlake and was a captain, so she joined too and we both agreed it was really great fun—we’re talking early war here, 1941. We agreed that it was really rhythmic movement, with dance steps, to a military tempo. So she had no problem getting the hang of that. The next year, we made a movie together, Miss Annie Rooney. I played the snotty girl and she was, of course, the leading lady. And Dickie Moore was in it, and he gave her her first on-screen kiss—a most chaste kiss. We were the only two Guild Members at school and to have a chance to work together that way was really nice. But she was a good student, I remember the principal telling me about her—she was working when we were taking our chemistry tests, so she had to do them later, and she graduated with her class but my memory of it is that she had to come in alone and take her chemistry test in the lab—which she passed with flying colors.

June also had a minor role in the Judy Garland film, “Meet Me In St. Louis” (1944). Her character, Lucille Ballard, was an off-screen villain for most of the movie. Once she is introduced, we realized it was all a figment of sisters Esther (Judy) and Rose Smith’s (Lucille Bremer) imaginations.

It is Lucille who plays matchmaker and selflessly gives up her date so that Rose can be with the one she loves.

In real life, June was hardly a drizzle puss or a doormat. Bill Mumy, who played her son Will on “Lost in Space,” called her a “rock and roll goddess.” You can see what he has to say about her at the 40 minute mark of this video:

I hope that June had an incredible birthday yesterday!

See more “Lost in Space” photos at my main website.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Temple Tuesday: The Honorary Colonel

In the 1935 movie, “The Little Colonel,” Shirley Temple’s character (shown above) is made an honorary colonel. In a case of art imitates life, Shirley herself became an honorary colonel courtesy of the American Legion in January 1935. From the vintage publicity blurb that accompanied the photo below:

A little colonel. Popular little American film actress Shirley Temple has been made an honorary colonel of the American Legion. Colonel Barlow presents little Shirley Temple with the certificate and medal.

Which came first? According to the AFI website, production on “The Little Colonel” took place from late November until January 9, 1935. Most likely Shirley’s film inspired this highly publicized event.

Shirley’s cap survived until after her death, when it was auctioned off by Theriault’s for $1500. From the catalog description:

Shirley Temple's Honorary Colonel Medallion and Cap for Hollywood American Legion

The 11" black wool cap with yellow piping is embroidered "Hollywood 43" on one side and "California" with state emblem on the other, and has an attached medallion reading "Honorary Colonel Post 43 Shirley Temple" with center cameo star pin of the American Legion. The reverse of the medallion is inscribed "From Your Big Brothers Hollywood Post 43 1-21-35".

Theriault’s also auctioned off the below coat for $2,400. From the catalog:

Woolen Coat with Eagle Emblem Worn by Shirley Temple in the Film "Stand up and Cheer"

Of rich brown cashmere wool, with brown silk lining, the unique coat was designed to be worn as either a double-breasted style with brass buttons and military like lapels, or in stylish manner with folded-over front flaps, and has rolled cuffs, breast pockets, two well-tailored open flap pockets, and is decorated with a gold embroidered eagle on the sleeve. Included is a matching beret. Both coat and beret have the label of De Betty Alden Shoppe Los Angeles. The costume was worn by Shirley Temple in various scenes in her 1934 film, "Stand Up and Cheer" and at various events including her 1935 induction as America's youngest honorary colonel in the American Legion, and in publicity photographs, one depicting Shirley with her 1934 co-star Madge Evans and the other posed with Tillie the cow, which was an unexpected gift to young Shirley from an enthusiastic fan.

The coat matches the “Stand Up And Cheer” photo, but not the American Legion Shots, which show Shirley wearing a coat with a different style of button. Below, she is with a somber Commander Louis J. Canepe, who officiated the ceremony.

The emblem on the sleeve is also different. Oops.

It does appear that Shirley wore the same American Legion coat to her meeting with Tillie the cow, though, as the sleeve emblems match on those two.

Edited from an April 28, 2016 article on the American Legion website:

In 1935 the Fox Film sensation Shirley Temple became a ‘little sister’ to members of the American Legion Post 43 when she was commissioned Honorary Colonel, a title bestowed upon top Hollywood talent who showed support for military veterans.

Shirley Temple was commissioned as a Colonel in the American Legion, an honor extended to her by the Hollywood Post 43. (photo above) Shirley is shown with Colonel Reginald Barlow, left, and Commander Louis J. Canepe. Shirley Temple became a ‘little sister’ to members of American Legion Hollywood Post 43 after a ceremony during which she was commissioned an honorary Colonel.

Shirley Temple also received a certificate from Hollywood Post 43 member Colonel Reginald Barlow.

It was only fitting that the 2016 Shirley Temple stamp be unveiled with members of the American Legion, Post 43. Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan J. Brennan along with family members including Shirley’s oldest daughter, Susan, and distinguished guests unveiled the Shirley Temple Forever stamp (photo below by Clemente Bogle).

Edited from the American Legion website:

Shirley Temple, child actress and youngest Honorary Colonel of The American Legion, is featured on a Forever stamp issued on April 18 as part of the Legends of Hollywood series. An American Legion color guard opened the ceremony where distinguished representatives of the entertainment industry and politics joined family members as the U.S. postal service unveiled the 20th stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series.

The Forever stamp features a Tim O’Brien painting based on a 1935 image from Temple’s iconic role in “Curly Top.” The name Shirley Temple conjures memories of 54 perfect curls, a contagious smile, and the bright personality of the adorable little girl who starred in “Curly Top.”

The name Shirley Temple Black represents a respected diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. Megan J. Brennan, postmaster general of the United States Postal Service, introduced the stamp at a first day of issue dedication at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. “That’s what I see in the image, a young girl with a knowing, confident smile who represents the potential of our nation and who, in real life, lived up to our highest expectations,” Brennan said. Brennan quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s description of “Little Miss Miracle” during a time of economic hardship when he said, “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.” It was first as an actress that Shirley Temple won all of America’s hearts, but it was as a determined diplomat that Shirley Temple Black earned admiration. Norman L. Eisen, former United States ambassador to the Czech Republic, remarked, “Her diplomacy, like her film career, was characterized by her optimism, her drive, and her ability to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world. She used those talents to play a critical role in helping Czechoslovakia transition from communism to democracy. From being an adversary of the United States to that nation becoming one of our closest allies anywhere. That legacy is hers today.” Isaacs described how Shirley Temple watched from a hotel room in Prague in 1968 as Soviet tanks rolled in and an unarmed woman below was shot and killed for exercising free speech. The lessons were seared into Shirley Temple that difficult day. It was a conviction she carried in her conscience for another quarter century until she returned to Prague as United States ambassador. At just 5-foot-2-inches tall, she stood tall as a giant in solidarity with the brave activists of the velvet revolution who took to the streets to finally make Czechoslovakia free. Eison read a letter from President Barack Obama that complimented the formidable diplomat and beloved child-star, “She is remembered as a face of hope during the Great Depression, as an undeniable presence during the Cold War, and for a resilient personality that enabled her to carry forward an enduring grace.” President Obama said.

Few people realize that Shirley gave a lifetime of service (and happiness) to this country, which is a shame.

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Monday at the Cat Café

When Melissa (aka “The Colonel”) visits me in San Diego, she typically goes along with “D-Tours” and lets me plan our adventures. Last month, she had a suggestion of her own: The Cat Café. The what?!? I’d never heard of this place, which isn’t all that surprising since I’m more of a dog person. Still, I was  intrigued, and wanting to be a good host, I drove her downtown to see if this place matched the hype. From their website:

Operating since January 2015, The Cat Café is the fourth oldest continuously operating kitty café in the United States. Our menu features award-winning espresso and coffee from Café Virtuoso, pastries from Bread & Cie, cookies from The Cravory, and sandwiches from Sunshine & Orange. The cats are available for adoption, should you fall in love during your visit. These furry friends are from The Rescue House, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless kitties find loving homes.

The outside and interior spaces looked semi-promising. To be able to play with the kitties, you have to pay $20 per person. This also includes one complimentary treat and beverage. OK…that sounded semi-reasonable…

until we met the staff and got a closer look at the offerings. All of the staff appeared semi-catatonic or drugged, like they’d wandered off the set of “The Stepford Wives.” The wrapped-in-plastic items…yeah, not sure about expiration dates or cleanliness or any of that, so I took a hard pass. A bottled water? Sure…that works. I wasn’t about to ask the audio-animatronic at the counter to make me a beverage.

Before seeing the cats, you have to pass through the double security doors and then get briefed by another employee who appeared to have had their personality sucked out with a vacuum cleaner. They robotically spouted out a long laundry list of dos and don’ts; no way I was going to remember them all. Melissa was excited to pour all her love into her soon-to-be-best-feline-friends. This photo pretty much sums up her expectation.

The cats had different ideas. The website says:

Enjoy Local Coffee in the Company of Some of San Diego’s Friendliest Felines!

The first few cats ran away as fast as they could when Melissa approached them with outstretched arms. However, she flew from one coast to the other and was not going to leave without a photo. Note the semi-death grip on this cat’s neck. The things we do for a smoke-and-mirrors memory.

We didn’t stay long. The concept sounded cool, but the execution was depressing. I truly felt sorry for these cats, as the employees didn’t seem to care too much about them. There were a few customers hanging out there, but again, didn’t see a lot of interaction with the cats. This poor feline; in its eyes, I could see, “Help me get out of here!”

This place will not remain on the D-Tours Itinerary and Melissa is now strictly forbidden from making any suggestions.

See more San Diego photos at my main website.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Vintage Menu Displays at Disneyland

Inspired by some recent activity on X (the platform formerly known as Prince, I mean Twitter), I have compiled a post of Disneyland menu displays from my collection.

Let’s start at the very beginning (“Sound of Music” reference intentional) with the Hills Brothers Coffee House in Town Square, just as you first enter Disneyland, circa August 1977. No prices featured, but the apple turnover might just draw me in.

Moving down Main Street, U.S.A., we encounter the Plaza Inn, July 1965:

Could you even get a few slices of roast beef for $1.35 anymore, let alone the roll and hot potato salad?

Two years later, April 1967:

Spaghetti Italienne has been added to the lineup. This guest’s lei just does not fit in.

Interesting that the fried chicken, which it is known for today, is not part of this menu yet.

Across the way is the Plaza Pavilion, June 1964

Spaghetti Italienne is also featured here, too. Is “Italienne” really necessary in the title?

Plaza Pavilion, August 1966

By this time, “Italienne” has transitioned to “Italian.” Not quite as fancy. And instead of savory sauce, it’s meat sauce.

The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe took over this location in January 2012. This February 2012 shot does not delve into pricing.

Over in Adventureland, the Tahitian Terrace simply posted the menu for guests, as you can see in this 1960s image:

The menu:

Before New Orleans Square, there was New Orleans Street. Here’s the Silver Banjo, 1959:

Look at all you get for $1.50! Fish’n Chips with the famous Silver Banjo BBQ sauce (or tartar, your choice!), cole slaw, lemon slice, roll, butter, and beverage. Wow! Using an inflation calculator, that would be the equivalent of roughly $16. Good luck finding all of that for just $16 in a Disney Park today!

The Silver Banjo was run by actor Don DeFore (“Hazel”), shown here with his brother Vern (the restaurant’s manager), 1959:

A contemporary shot of the sign!

Taking a step back in this February 1959 shot, you can see that the Silver Banjo was right next door to Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen:

A closeup of the Silver Banjo’s wooden sign:

Aunt Jemima’s became the Riverbelle Terrace. Here’s the menu, circa January 1977:

This April 1977 image provides a better look at the lower half:

By September 2008, the prices disappeared, as did the large variety of choices:

Still just breakfast as of May 2011:

By August 2012, we get a look at a lunch menu:

The Blue Bayou was the signature restaurant of New Orleans Square. Here’s what was being served in August 1976:

Same menu as year later, April 1977:

Different holder, different menu items, January 2011. At least the Monte Cristo is holding on!

Nearby is Café Orleans, from Summer 2006:

Casa de Fritos was a popular spot in Frontierland. The Gonzalez Trio serenaded hungry patrons, January 1966

A closeup of the menu:

Casa de Fritos, 1981/82

Prices were still featured outside the restaurant!

Next to the Golden Horseshoe Saloon is the Stage Door Café, May 2015:

The perfect place for a quick fast-food meal.

The Harbour Galley, May 2011. Prices to be discovered once you place your order! All part of the magical experience at Disneyland these days.

Critter Country had the Hungry Bear Restaurant, as seen in this May 2011 menu board. Prices are necessary on this one, since it’s where you actually place your order.

The sign in front of the entrance is a different story. Lure the guests in with the food and cute animals, but don’t scare them with the prices! August 2007:

Over in Fantasyland the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Restaurant, 1955:

A grainy closeup of the sign:

An interior shot, January 1968

By the time of this June 1982 image, the restaurant was retitled Captain Hook's Galley, and the prices were gonzo.

One of the Fantasyland concession stands, 1950s:

Over in Tomorrowland, the concession stand was titled Space Bar, as seen in this 1950s image:

Flash forward to May 2011, where you can get a meal at Flight Command Cuisine:

Hungry? I know I am! See more Disneyland photos at my main website.