Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pat O'Brien's Midsummer "Eye-Opener"

Quaker Brand Puffed Rice Ad

When I first came across the above advertisment from 1936 for Quaker Brand Puffed Rice featuring Hollywood actor, Pat O'Brien, and his "Midsummer 'Eye-Opener'" breakfast, I thought this hearty morning meal actually sounds pretty tasty. What I didn't expect was how hard it would be to find the Quaker Puffed Rice! I visited a few Los Angeles area grocery stores and none carried the product. There were many other kinds of Quaker products, but no puffed rice. I remembered seeing the boxes when I was younger, so I knew it existed during my lifetime and wasn't just some bygone breakfast treat from my grandparents generation. After a quick search online I found that I could buy 10 boxes for $40 on Amazon, but I wasn't ready to make that kind of commitment to the puffed rice. 

I then came across a piece on the Mr. Breakfast website explaining the background of the Quaker Puffed Rice which also had a comments section with many contributors asking where the puffed rice cereal went? According to commenters, there is no Quaker Puffed Rice in New Jersey, Indiana, and Southern California. Have you recently seen this cereal anywhere? An interesting tidbit: according to the website Quaker Puffed Rice was introduced in 1909, but was first seen by the public "at the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904, when eight bronze cannons exploded rice over the heads of a huge crowd. When rice kernels are heated under high pressure and exposed to steam, the kernels expand rapidly. You might even say they explode. The result is puffed rice."

My version of the "Midsummer Eye-Opener" breakfast.

Not to be defeated, I made my own version of the Midsummer Eye-Opener breakfast. Rather than using puffed rice, I substituted another Quaker product, "Corn Bran Crunch" toasted cereal. Here's how the advertisment describes the meal:

"THESE torrid days when appetites need coaxing you'll give three cheers for Pat O'Brien's favorite breakfast. For an appetite-arousing starter, honeydew melon, right off the ice. Then comes a happy combination - crisp, crunchy Quaker Puffed Rice [I used Quaker Corn Bran Crunch] with juicy fresh peaches. And bacon on toasted English muffin is as quick and easy to serve as the coffee. Your grocer features this Hollywood breakfast. Serve it to your family tomorrow."

O'Brien and Bogart in the film China Clipper.

The advertisement came out in 1936, the same year O'Brien was starring in the Warner Bros. action film China Clipper. O'Brien plays a former WWI ace pilot who, inspired by Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic, attempts to create a trans-Pacific airline. A young Humphrey Bogart who was still working his way up to stardom co-stars as O'Brien's partner. This is one film that I'm hoping the Warner Archive will release on DVD. You can watch some clips from the film on

Robby enjoying the Midsummer Eye-Opener.

One of the things I find funny about the advertisment is its emphasis on digestibility as one of the selling points. "Quaker Puffed Rice [is] readily digestible" it says in one part and in another, "speedy digestibility is important to busy people in these high-tension times." Was digestibility a food marketing buzz word at the time like the way "fat-free" or "gluten-free" is used today? I own another advertisment for doughnuts from 1938 that has a slogan that goes, "Different, Delicious, Digestible, Doughnuts." I've seen some other food ads from the 1930s that also highlight how the food is digestible.

Pat O'Brien shares his favorite breakfast. Do you know what your favorite classic Hollywood actor/actress enjoys for breakfast?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Move Over, Darling (1963) - Film Locations

Move Over, Darling (1963) is a remake of the unfinished Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin film, Something's Got to Give (1962), which was a remake of the Cary Grant and Irene Dunne film, My Favorite Wife. With Something's Got to Give, Monroe was fired from the film and was to be replaced by actress Lee Remick; however, Dean Martin had final approval of his leading lady and refused to work with anyone other than Monroe. 20th Century Fox rehired Monroe, but tragically she died before the film was completed and the movie was abandoned. Fox, which was struggling financially, decided to reuse many of the sets that were built for Something's Got to Give and produced a new film that followed more closely the original story of My Favorite Wife, with Doris Day and James Garner starring. That film became Move Over, Darling.

Day and Garner do not disappoint in this silly screwball comedy.  In the film, Ellen Arden (Day) and Nicholas Arden (Garner) are a happy married couple with two infant daughters living in Los Angeles. While on a flight traveling over the South Pacific, their plane goes down. Garner survives the crash but Day's body cannot be found. Five years later Garner is ready to move on with his life and he remarries the young and attractive Bianca Steele (Polly Bergen). Amazingly, it turns out that Day had survived the flight and was living on an island with another man who survived the crash. Day is rescued by the Navy and brought back to Los Angeles where she learns that her husband has left for Monterey to go on a honeymoon with his new wife. Day goes to Monterey where she surprises Garner, who is shocked to see her alive. Garner has a predicament. Does he go back to his wife that he has not seen for five years and has gone on believing was dead? And how does he break the news to his new wife?

In the beginning of the film Garner and Bergen are seen driving from Los Angeles up the Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey. They are on their way to the fictional Monterey Inn hotel for their honeymoon. Along the way, they pass the landmark Mugu Rock, not too far from the city of Oxnard.

Garner and Bergen drive pass Mugu Rock.

Mugu Rock on the Pacific Coast Highway near Oxnard.

The fictional "Monterey Inn" where Garner goes for his honeymoon.

After Garner learns that his first wife is still alive, he thinks up an excuse to head back home to Los Angeles. Garner's home is located at the corner of Wyton Drive and S. Mapleton Drive in the posh Holmby Hills neighborhood. In the screen comparisons below, taken from different points in the film, show the entrance of the home and the house from different angles. It appears that the house seen in the film must have been demolished, as now a massive mansion stands where the modest sized home seen in the movie once stood.

Doris Day arrives at the home on Wyton Drive.

Looking down Wyton Drive from S. Mapleton Drive.

The home as seen in the film looking down Mapleton Dr.

Looking down S. Mapleton Dr. at the intersection of Wyton Dr.

Day walks up the driveway from the Wyton Drive entrance.

A huge mansion now stands at the corner of Wyton and Mapleton.

Later in the film Garner wants to find out who the man is that Day has spent the last five years with living on an island. He learns that the man is staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel, located at 9461 West Sunset Boulevard. Garner scouts out the hotel and then arranges to have lunch with Day by the hotel pool, where Day's companion of the last five years has been staying.

Garner spots the man at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool.

The pool as it appears today. (c)

Day and Garner have lunch by the hotel pool.

The pool as it looks now. Photo credit:

Day and Garner at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool.

When Day learns why Garner brought her to the Beverly Hills Hotel she storms out and drives off like a maniac. Garner runs to the valet, hitches a cab and follows after her. They drive through a car dealership in Santa Monica and then through a car wash at Pico Boulevard and S. Beverly Glen Boulevard.

Day races off from the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The Beverly Hills Hotel as it appears today.

Day and Garner drive through a Porsche dealership on
Wilshire Boulevard at East 20th St. in Santa Monica.

The car dealership is now the site of a Walgreens.
Looking down Wilshire at 20th St. Santa Monica.

The dealership side entrance on 20th Street. The 
Lighthouse Church steeple can be seen in background.

Looking down 20th Street. The Lighthouse Church
building can still be seen on the right.

Day drives pass a car wash on Pico Blvd at S. Beverly Glen.

The Car Wash is still in business nearly 5 decades later.

Day rounds the corner of Pico and Beverly Glen.
St. Timothy's Catholic Church is in the background.

The corner of Pico and S. Beverly Glen Blvd.

Garner follows Day passed an apartment building
behind the car wash.

The apartment building on S. Beverly Glen near Pico Blvd.

Move Over, Darling gets many added laughs from a hilarious supporting cast including Thelma Ritter, Fred Clark, Don Knotts, and Edgar Buchanan. The film has been released on DVD as both a stand alone disc and also as part of 20th Century Fox's 75th Anniversary Studio Classics quad sets. In the quad set the three other films included are, O. Henry's Full House, On The Riviera, and Rally 'Round The Flag, Boys!.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jack Benny Wants a 110 Free Disneyland Tickets

Comedian Jack Benny was famous for being a cheapskate. True to his image, in this hilarious video, Benny visits Walt Disney at his office to try and score 110 free tickets to the Disneyland theme park. Instead of taking the cast and crew of his television show out to dinner, Benny wants to treat them to a trip to Disneyland. Walt thinks this is a great idea, but this is before Benny mentions that he wants the tickets for free. Benny reminds Walt that he gave him 4 complimentary tickets to his television show. Walt reminds Benny that that was 9 years ago.

The best part of the video is at the very end. In exchange for the free tickets, Benny explains to Walt that on his television show they have a foreign actress guest star, and that they are going to make a foreign style film. Benny mentions that he is going to rewrite the whole sketch so that it has a "Disney approach." Walt is skeptical of Benny's idea, but Walt knew better than anyone how publicity on television was a great way to promote his upcoming films and theme park attractions.

For the sketch, Benny rewrites Walt's latest film, Mary Poppins, so that it has an Italian feel. Benny has his guest star, foreign actress Elke Sommer, playing a sexy Italian Mary Poppins. In the sketch, Benny, made up to look Italian with a big dark mustache asks Sommer what she wants for lunch. She responds with, "cheese" and then goes on to sing in the tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" the words, "mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, ricotta." Sommer, Benny, and two young Italian looking kids then break out in song singing about cheese. I will never be able to watch Mary Poppins again without thinking of cheese. 

Walt Disney and Jack Benny

To be fair, in real life Benny was not the tightwad persona he created, but he was so good at playing up the image for laughs.


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