Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Classic Hollywood Film Star Biography Would You Like to See Written?

Ann Dvorak

For the past decade enthusiastic Ann Dovrak fan and collector, Christina Rice, has been researching the life of her favorite classic movie star. Rice has been chronicling her research on her website, Good news for us classic Hollywood fans, according to Rice on her website, she has accumulated enough research to complete a book and an upcoming Ann Dvorak biography is expected to be released later in 2013. 

Rice's dedication to completing a biography on Dvorak had got me thinking of all the other classic Hollywood movie stars that still have never gotten the book treatment. Stars like Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn have, and will continue to have, many biographies written about them. Meanwhile, stars like Dennis Morgan, Glenda Farrell, Marilyn Maxwell, Frank McHugh, Jack Carson, and Frank Morgan are just a few stars from Hollywood's Golden Age that have never had an in-dephth biography written about them. I'm sure we could come up with a long list of stars that deserve the detailed biography treatment.

Is there a star from Hollywood's Golden Age that you would like to see some scholar or enthusiastic fan write a biography? Please share your suggestions in the comments section. I'm curious how many stars with no in-depth biography we can come up with.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quincy, M.E. - Film Locations - Larchmont Boulevard

Jack Klugman is Quincy, M.E.

For a few months now I've been on a Quincy, M.E. kick. This 1970s-1980s television show starring the likable Jack Klugman was a precursor to contemporary hit shows like the CSI crime investigation series. Klugman plays the title character, Quincy, a savvy Los Angeles coroner who never saw a crime scene that couldn't be solved. As the show is set in Los Angeles, numerous LA area film locations appear frequently. Right from the get go, during the first episode of Season 1, the episode Go Fight City the Death (1976), includes shots of Dodgers Stadium, City Hall, Marina Del Rey and other Los Angeles locations. One location in particular that appears briefly at the beginning of the episode caught my eye - a scene of a coroner's ambulance driving down Larchmont Boulevard.

226 N. Larchmont Boulevard as seen in Quincy, M.E.

Contemporary view looking down N. Larchmont Blvd.

In the screenshot above we see the ambulance driving north down Larchmont Boulevard, in the heart of the Larchmont Village. Just below the screenshot is a contemporary view looking down Larchmont Boulevard. On the right of the screenshot is a Safeway market which I remembered from watching the Bob Hope film, Eight on the Lam (1967). 

226 N. Larchmont Blvd as seen in Eight on the Lam (1967).

Contemporary view of 226 N. Larchmont Boulevard.

The Larchmont Village has been a popular filming location ever since the silent era and the area continues to be used as a filming location. Some films I've previously covered on Dear Old Hollywood to feature Larchmont include Off Limits (1953) starring Bob Hope and Mickey Rooney, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, and Eight on the Lam (1967) starring Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, Shirley Eaton, and Jill St. John.

Quincy, M.E. has been released on DVD and is also available for streaming through Netflix.

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Natalie Wood DVD Collection

Don't you just love these themed four disc DVD sets from TCM Turner Classic Movies that Warner Home Video has been putting together? With so many classic movies out there it's impossible for any normal person to buy every film they want, but being able to get four movies for about the price of one makes it a little easier. Some sets may have a couple stellar classics mixed with a couple turkey's, but I don't feel so bad when I think I'm getting a deal overall. Last week's releases included a collection for Natalie Wood featuring the films Gypsy, Sex and the Single Girl, Splendor in the Grass, and Inside Daisy Clover. Previously on this blog I've done film location posts for Sex and the Single Girl and Inside Daisy Clover. Both films used the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank for some of the filming locations.

Dennis Morgan & Jack Carson

And just in case somebody from TCM or from the Warner Archive reads this, how about a comedy set featuring actors Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson together? The two actors made nine movies together. My choice would be Two Guys From Milwaukee, the follow-up Two Guys From Texas, The Time the Place and the Girl, and One More Tomorrow.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cooper, Rainer and The Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills

Gary Cooper didn't waste any time going from silent film stunt man to the top leading man of the silver screen. With his tall, handsome looks and "aw shucks" attitude, Cooper charmed both women and men alike. He was the kind of guy audiences would pay to see. Cooper, who grew up in wild west Montana but spent a few years living in Bedfordshire, England to attend grammar school, developed qualities that made him believable playing both cowboys and refined urban characters. He would evolve into the image of the ideal American, even playing  a few real life American icons, including Sergeant York and Lou Gehrig. It's no surprise that even off screen Cooper attracted those around him, especially the ladies.

One of those ladies was German actress Luise Rainer. According to Jeffrey Meyers biography Gary Cooper: American Hero, Rainer, after seeing Cooper in the film A Farewell to Arms, was inspired to come to Hollywood. Meyers writes that "when she saw him in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, she felt weak at the knees and was ready to surrender." Above is a contemporary image of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel lobby, but I much prefer this image below that shows how the lobby would have looked closer to the time Rainer first met Cooper there.

Beverly Wilshire Hotel lobby, probably late 1920s.
Photo: LAPL

The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, located at 9500 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, was built in 1928. It has always been a luxury hotel that appealed to Hollywood's elite. Some classic movie legends have even lived in the hotel at various times, including actors Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, who like Cooper, had their fair share of affairs. The hotel has even been used as a filming location, most famously in Pretty Woman (1990), starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.

Gary Cooper and Luise Rainer

Meyers goes on to quote actor Richard Widmark as saying that Cooper "was catnip to the ladies" and that director Stuart Heisler said, "Coop was probably the greatest cocksman that ever lived. They fell over themselves to get him to take them to bed" - just like Rainer, at the site of Cooper, was ready to "surrender" herself in the  hotel lobby.


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