Sunday, May 31, 2020

Silents On TCM: June 2020

TCM Website

All Times in EDT

1 June 12PM [Year: 1924] Clip

7 June 6AM [Year: 1929] Clip (Talkie)

8 June 12AM [Year: 1923] Clip

15 June 12:15AM [Year: 1929] Film Information

21 June 5:45AM [Year: 1921] Trailer

Starts @Midnight

22 July Starts at Midnight [Year: 1923] Film Information

22 July Midnight [Year: 1924] Film Information

22 July Midnight [Year: 1923] Film Information 

22 July Midnight [Year: 1924] Film Information 

22 July Midnight [Year: 1924] Film Information

22 July Midnight [Year: 1924] Film Information


21 June 12PM [Year: 1937] Clip (part of a whole day of films celebrating Dad on Father's Day)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Born Today May 27: Julia Ward Howe


American writer and suffragette Julia Ward Howe was born on this day in New York City. She came by her writing skills honestly, as her mother (who died when Julia was just five years of age) was also a poet. Though raised a Episcopalian with a strict Calvinist father, Howe became a progressive Unitarian in adulthood. This is a good example of her philosophies and thought processes.  An avid student of languages, Howe wrote plays, poems and scolarly essays. Many works were published. However, despite all of her activism and studies in life, today she is remembered mostly for her abolitionist song Battle Hymn of the Republic (or "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory); the music that she based the song on was a powerful choice--John Brown's Body (also known as "John Brown's Song") was a marching song based on the abolitionist John Brown.  It is this song that ALL of her contributions to film and television are based on. The first of these is the only film to actually be based on the song; The Battle Hymn of the Republic was a Vitagraph short film dating from 1911 that dramatized the writing of the song, with Ralph Ince playing Abraham Lincoln and Maurice Costello playing Jesus Christ.  The only other film that was made during the silent era using this work, this time in the capacity of soundtrack materials, came in 1927. Uncle Tom's Cabin was a Universal partial silent (that was more widely released as a full silent) that used the song--amongst many others--utilizing the MovieTone sound system. The film was directed by Harry A. Pollard and marked the film debut of a ten year old Virginia Grey. Since the release of this film, the song has only been featured in soundtrack materials only.  The first full sound film in which it was featured came in D. W. Griffith's 1930 Abraham Lincoln (which, incidentally, also used the MovieTone system).  The song made it debut on television in a 1953 episode of "Death Valley Days" (Land of the Free). It has since been used in a whole host of different ways and genres of films; from How The West Was Won to Young FrankensteinEverything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask to The Seventh Sign. The same breadth of genres are seen in it's use on the small screen as well; from "Branded" to "The Monkeys""M*A*S*H" to "The Rea & Stimpy Show".  In fact, it's most recent use came in the series "Watchmen" in 2019. After a VERY long and productive life, Howe passed away of pneumonia on the 17th of October in Portsmouth, Rhode Island at the age of 91. She is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA (Boston was her adopted home town and the city that she raised her family in). By all means, check out the links below and also take a gander at the "legacy" section of Wikipedia--impressive seems too slight a word! One very important accomplishment worth highlighting occurred two years before her death; on the 28th of January, 1908, Howe became the very first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

[Source: Sharon Lavash Hawkins-Find A Grave]

Find A Grave entry

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Born Today May 26: John Wayne


Western superstar John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on this day in Winterset, Iowa. His first name change came almost immediately; when his parents decided that they wanted to reserve the use of his middle name for the first name of a second son, they changed their young son's name to Marion Michael (or Mitchell) Wayne (Michael is a name he would eventually name his own eldest son).  His nickname Duke preceeded his name change for acting purposes. The family relocated to Palmdale, California to go into ranching, and in 1916 on to Glendale when the ranch failed, where the young Morrison was dubbed by a local fireman "little duke"--the name stuck and he reportedly preferred "Duke" to "Marion" long before the name of "John" was ever dreamed up as a replacement first name.  His entry into the world of film acting actually came while he was in high school, when one of his summer jobs was working with a man who maintained (and shoed or shod) horses for the studios producing westerns.  After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Southern California majoring in pre-law. He was also famously a football player there and was in fact attending on a full atheletic scholarship, which he lost when he badly shattered his collarbone while body surfing and had to leave university.  His next entery into the film business was occasioned by this event; his coach knew western star Tom Mix, who gave Duke a job on the sets of director John Ford as a prop handler.  Mix liked his style and it's wasn't long before he made his film debut in small parts. He does have named credits from his days as a "property boy," the first of which is The Great K & A Train Robbery (1926), a Tom Mix film directed by Lewis Seiler (in which he aledgedly had a tiny bit part). His first time in front of the camera also came in 1926, in an uncredited role of, appropriately, a football player in Jack Conway's Brown of Harvard  for MGM.  The Duke actually has a large number of film credits of various sorts from the 1920's, unusual for someone born in 1907; however all, but one, of his on-camera acting roles went uncredited during this time.  That being said, he was in some very famous films released in the late 1920's, they include:  Bardelys the Magnificent (1926) directed by King Vidor, Norman Taurog's The Draw-Back (1927), Annie Laurie (1927) with Lillian Gish, the Taurog/Zanuck production Noah's Ark 1928, and the early talkie Speakeasy 1929. His first actual named acting credit came in the James Tinling directed Words and Music in 1929, the film was one of Fox's first music productions in partial sound, he was credited as Duke Morrison. The first John Ford (longtime friend and mentor) directed film that he appeared in was Mother Machree in 1927, a Fox partial silent that Ford also went uncredited in at the time.  He also appeared in at least four more Ford films in 1928 and 1929 (Four Sons 1928, Hangman's House 1928, The Black Watch 1929--he also had a small role in Salute 1929 a film thought to have been partially directed by Ford.)  The vast majority of these films had some sort of sport plot--meaning that his earliest "type casting" was as a football player.  His first film in the 1930's also came in an uncredited role in another John Ford film Men Without Women (1930) a submarine film set in the China sea. His first credit as John Wayne also came in his first starring role in the Fox western The Big Trail in 1930. It was director Raoul Walsh's idea to change his name, suggesting Anthony Wayne (after a general in the American Revolutionary War), but studio execs thought it sounded "too Italian" and suggested John in exchange for the Anthony and a legend was born*.  Not quite a western specialist, he would continue to star in films that featured dramatic roles and college types for some time during the 1930's. His next turn in a western came in 1931 in the The Ranger Feud, with several non-westerns in-between (in 1932, he even played a character named "Duke" in the Tim McCoy Columbia production Two-Fisted Law in 1932, he was even the star of a rare early horror/western Haunted Gold also in 1932).  By the late 1930's, he was almost exclusively a western player, and well on his way to becoming a super star of the silver screen and Hollywood royalty.  Probably his most famous film from the time period is John Ford's Stagecoach (1939). His first film of the new decade was another Raoul Walsh film set in Kansas during the Civil War: Dark Command (1940); but as the U.S. headed off to war, he added another character type to his repretroir: military commander. This would end up becoming nearly as synonymous with his name as cowboy/western lawman. Wayne came late to television, making his debut as a cameo in a 1955 episode of "I Love Lucy" (Lucy Visits Grauman's). Wayne never did warm to television acting, and though he made a few appearances on the small screen in the next two decades, many were as himself (see, for example, this episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies"). His last film came in 1976 in The Shootist; the film was directed by Don Siegel. In addition to his film acting, Wayne was also an actor on the radio.  During his career, he was nominated three times for Ocars, winning once for Best Actor for his performance in True Grit (1969). In addition to Ford, Wayne worked with a whole host of top Hollywood directors during his career, including: Arthur LubinCecil B. DeMilleHoward HawksMichael CurtizWilliam A. WellmanJohn FarrowJosef von SternbergJohn Huston, Otto Preminger & John Sturgis (not to mention that he also directed himself, The Alamo from 1960 probably being the best known). This is not to say that his life was without significant controversy, it wasn't!!--please follow links below to read more about all aspects of his life (and that Playboy interview is available to read on Kindle for free). Wayne was already a cancer survivor when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the late 1970's. Although he was enrolled in an experimental treatment program, he succumbed to the disease on the 11th of the June, 1979--about a fortnight after his 72nd birthday. He is buried at Pacific View Memorial Park & Mortuary in Newport Beach. 

[Source: YouTube]

*my question here: is this where Hunter S. Thompson came up with the name "Raoul Duke"...thoughts???

Monday, May 25, 2020

Born Today May 25: Kenean Buel


Prolific silent film director Kenean Buel was born on this day in Springfield, Kentucky (reportedly his birth name was John William Adams).  He was first hired by the Kalem company and made his directorial debut in their production of As You Like It, a short based on the Shakespeare play of the same name, in 1908. Buel did not direct another film for two years, spending the interim time period working under Kalem's Sidney Olcott.  His next round in the director's chair came on the dramatic short Chief Blackfoot's Vindication (1910).  From this time forward, Buel became one of Kalem's most prolific film directors; he was also a part of their team that started winter shoots in Florida, so it came as no surprise when he was selected to go west to Hollywood to spear-head Kalem productions there.  In late 1915, he made the move to Fox and the last film that he directed for Kalem was the 40 minute drama The Runaway Wife.  The first film that he directed at Fox was the 1916 feature length The Marble Heart (the adapted scenario was penned by Herbert Brenon).  He made just under 20 films at Fox, including The New York Peacock (1917) and the fantasy sci-fi She, both starring Valeska Suratt (his films for them were mostly consumed in the infamous 1937 Fox fire). The last film that he made for Fox was My Little Sister in 1919, one of the few films to feature the scandal ridden Evelyn Nesbit. He made just two more films after this: one for (if you can believe it) Hallmark The Veiled Marriage; and his last for Atlas The Place of the Honeymoons--both in 1920.  He then retired from the business and at some point returned to the east coast, dying in New York City on the 5th of November in 1948 at the age of 68. I can find no information on interment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Born Today May 20: Honoré de Balzac


French novelist Honoré de Balzac was born on this day in Tours, France to a father from the Occitan region and a Parisian mother. He was their first child to survive infancy, making him the oldest of four siblings. From the beginning, young Honoré spent little time at home, first being sent off to a wet nurse who did not live with the family, and then to a boarding school. He along with his next eldest sibling, a sister, they spent the first four or five years of their young lives in this situation together. The only time in his younger years that he spent at home was between the ages of 5 and 10, when his boarding education began. His parents, aggressively upwardly mobile, kept an unhealthy distance from their own children, in some vain attempt to emulate nobility. This forever effected the writer and would play a big part in his writings. He spent 7 years at the boarding school, where he was constantly bullied because of his skin-flint father, who had money to spend on the boy but refused to do so in another vain move to improve his own social standing amongst his peers and "instill" a work ethic in Honoré. This affected his studies, which in turn further degraded his situation, because his instructors frequently sent him into a solitary punishment cell (a place in the building that one school employee of the school called "the dungeon"). Again, these are themes that would come into play in his work later on. The one thing that he came away from the school with was a vast knowledge of books, which he read while in punishment. Eventually the situation caused him fairly extreme health problems and he had to leave the school because of them. A move to Paris by the whole family came soon after. Two years later he entered the University of Paris (more well known by the name of Sorbonne), after surviving a suicide attempt. He was then pressured by his father into studying the law and was sent into an apprenticeship, which lasted only around three years, after which Balzac had, had enough! This is when he became determined to become a writer and keep his own hours in life. Needless to say, this DID NOT go over well with his family, who left him in a tiny garrit in the city and moved into a fancy home on the outskirts of Paris. Though known to us today primarily as a novelist, his first work was actually a libretto for a comic opera based on the work of Byron. He had trouble, however, trying to find a composer willing to score it for him. He then turned to writing plays, the first of which he completed in 1820. He then turned to novel writing, though his first three efforts went unfinished. He was then persuaded to try his hand at short stories, but this was short lived. It did seem to provide a path for Balzac to finally graduate to successful novel writing. By 1826, he had nine published novels, though published under various pen names. He additionally engaged in various business ventures in the world of publishing in an attempt to help support himself--most of which were failures. It was in 1832 that he dreamed up the idea for the volume of work that he is most famous for today:  La Comédie humaine. And what a work it is! Consisting of 91 finished and 46 unfinished volumes, it is a series of interconnected novels largely set during the Bourbon Restoration. And it is one of the volumes in this work that was made into the very first film using his work for source material. The False Oath was a short Italian production directed by Artuo Ambrosio and Luigi Maggi--two directors from Turin; the film was released in October of 1909. It was the first in a very long line of film and television productions of his work, with a very large number of them coming between the years 1909 and 1928.  The very next film--The Wild Ass's Skin (La peau de chagrin)--was the first French production of his work--this film was actually released before the Italian production in August of 1909. It was directed by French director Albert Capellani before his move to the United States. The first American production of his work also came in 1909 and remains a well known film today. D. W. Griffith's The Sealed Room was based on the same work as the Italian film, and also managed to find a theatrical release before it in September (it has been restored and ranks as one of Griffith's finest Biograph shorts today). While the first film production of his work in Germany came in 1912 with Maskierte Liebe; with the first Danish production being Den hvide djaevel in 1916.  Hungary also got into the game in 1916 with Jenö JanovicsÁrtatlan vagyok! Finally, the first UK production of his work comes in what we would consider a fantasy horror film today, and it comes rather late to the list in 1920; Desire was adapted and directed by George Edwardes-Hall, an American working in Britain--it is based on The Wild Ass's Skin.  It wouldn't be the last such film made from his work in the silent era; that same year Robert Brunton Productions found distribution for The Dream Cheater directed by Ernest C. Warde.  The last silent film made from his work was the French production La cousine Bette in 1928 (though one film--Survival--a German film made in 1927, was actually released in 1930).  The first film from his work released in the sound era was the Lloyd Bacon directed Honor Of The Family released in October of 1931. The first time his work was shown on a television broadcast came in a 1950 episode Vengeance of the mystery series "The Clock" (which was in turn based on a radio show). In 2015 a video documenting a seminar on his work simply entitled Balzac was released in France; while the Greek film Magic Skin released in 2018 represents the latest release to date. As of this writing, two films are in post-production:  Lost Illusions and Eugénie Grandet.  Balzac died at just 51 years of age in Paris, probably of some type of cardiac event, judging from the descriptions of his brief illness and very steep decline (possibly from some type of infection??) on the 18th of August. His funeral/memorial was attended by every famous writer in Paris and his eulogist was fellow French writer Victor Hugo. He is buried in Paris' famed Père Lachaise; the bronze statuary the tops his tomb was cast by French artist/sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Born Today May 18: Ressel Orla


Austrian German speaking actress Ressel Orla was born on this day into a Jewish family in the town of Bozen, Tyrol in what was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire (the town is now a part of northern Italy as "Bolzano"). She started acting on the stage in Germany in 1907. When that work petered out, she turned to film work; making her debut in 1913 in the short Radium (directed by Rudolf Del Zopp).  As a film actress, she was quite prolific, racking up appearances is more than 60 films between the years 1913 and 1929. Today she is most well known for being an early muse of German filmmaker Frtiz Lang. In the years before her working with Lang however, she was a wildly popular comedic actress. The first comedy that she appeared in was the Carl Wilhelm  directed The Perfect Thirty-Six in 1914 (she would work with Wilhelm well into the 1920's).  She also appeared in films by German directors Richard OswaldCarl Froelich and Robert Wiene.  The first film that she made with Lang was the now lost Halbblut (1919), in which she plays a "half-caste." By far her most famous appearances in Lang's work are  The Spiders - Episode 1: The Golden Sea, which also dates from 1919 and The Spiders - Episode 2: The Diamond Ship (1920). By the late 1920's, Orla's health began to fail and her roles were further and further apart. The coming of sound in film also didn't help further her career for what ever reason (bit odd, considering that she spent nearly 7 years as a successful stage actor).  Her last film came in 1929 in Carl Heinz Wolff's Es war einmal ein treuer Husar. With her acting work drying up, she quickly became impoverished, which did not help her health. She died in Berlin just two years later on the 23rd of July at the tragically young age of 42.  I can find no information on a grave. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Born Today May 17: Conway Tearle


Stage acting star turned movie actor Conway Tearle was born Frederick Conway Levy on this date in New York City. Both of his parent were professional performers; with his mother being Marriane Conway--known affectionately as "Minnie" and his father was actually famous, being the British born concert cornetist and composer Jules Levy (his grandmother on his mother's side was actress Sarah Crocker Conway, who was in turn descended from extremely famous Shakespearean British thespian William A. Conway, who acted in some of the biggest houses in his native London and in New York City; Minnie's own father was a successful theater owner in Brooklyn). Needless to say, he was well schooled in theatrical arts by his teen years, from both experiences with his family and a formal education in the U.S. and the U.K.  He started on the stage, just as his ancestors had, but by the 1920's, he was one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.  His name change also comes from familial connections. After his own parents divorced, his mother remarried British Shakespearean actor Osmond Tearle--hence his name change as a stage actor. This was particularly helpful for work in London; and Conway was said to have gotten a big break when he substituted out of the blue (no under-study situation this!) for an actor playing Hamlet who became violently ill during the first act of that rather long play; this was in a production in Manchester, England. Conway was just 21 at the time and had been able to recite most of Shakespeare's important plays since around the age of 12.  Tearle stayed in stage work on both sides of the Atlantic until the second decade of the 20th century. When he did make his film debut, it wound up coming in a title that has come down to us as historically important: it was the film debut of Ethel Barrymore. The film was The Nightingale and was released in October of 1914.  For an actor who was mostly a stage performer, he made a surprisingly large number of film appearances in the 1910's (close to twenty). His appearances in the 1920's picked up, mostly because he was eventually given a contract for $1750 a week...that was a jaw dropping amount for the day (think about this for a second, adjusted for inflation, that would almost $26,000 today!!). For the most part, Tearle was cast the romantic lead in melodramas and romance films (a few were even a little exintricc, see for example, Black Oxen a romantic drama with a science fiction twist). A few of his films were directed by truly talented directors: Maurice Tourneur (The White Moth 1924), George Archainbaud (The Common Law 1923), Phil Rosen (The Heart of a Siren 1925) & Tod Browning (The Mystic 1925), and he was at various times directed by one or the other Ince Brothers. He also was a favorite actor of director Frank Lloyd.  (Oh, and her is a little fun trivia, Tearle was in a film [The Sporting Life] in 1926 directed by Alan Hale, father of The Skipper himself Alan Hale Jr.]  He also appeared in the few films that experimented with new technologies; such as: Altars of Desire (Two-strip Technicolor-1927) and Gold Diggers of Broadway (a Warner's early musical with full mono sound by Vitaphone-1929)--after this point he never appeared in another film without full sound.  His last film appearance in the 1920's came in the Edward Sloman directed independet adventure film The Lost Zeppelin released in December of 1929. His first film of the new decade was back at First National, the studio that had so highly paid him in the early 1920's. A starred opposite Loretta Young in The Truth About Youth, which was released in November of 1930.  In all he was the star of over twenty film in the decade, along with numerous performances in plays.  The last film in which he appears is in George Cukor's Romeo and Juliet (1936), in the role of Escalus--Prince of Verona. To my knowledge, this is the only film of Shakespeare's plays that he appeared in--despite that Shakespeare was one of his stage specialties.  He last acting role did indeed come on the stage, in a new comedy by playwright Barlette Cormack 1937, The play did open in New Jersey and was set (with modifications due to Tearle's declining health) on Broadway, but alas it never made it there--the whole production was scraped due the actor's condition. It did feature a part of a young, bright up and comer: Lucille Ball. Tearle retired back to his home in Hollywood after this, dying there of a heart attack on the 1st of October in 1938 at the age of 60.  He was cremated, it is presumed wife at the time of his death--actress Adele Rowland--kept the urn. Tearle was married four times in life; his second marriage was to Josephine Park. It's thought that he had to children. But, he did have two younger half brothers who were also actors (products of his mother's second marriage):  Godfrey Tearle and Malcolm Tearle--both of whom were celebrated stage actors. Conway Tearle had one writing credit to his name for the story used in the 1921 film Society Snobs, a film in which he starred.  He also showed up in a number of Screen Snapshots in the mid 1920's. 

*please forgive the typos and errors--blogger has become unspell checkable and difficult to edit.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Born Today May 16: Harry Carey Jr.


Son of famed actor Harry Carey, Henry George Carey, was born on this day on a ranch in what is now Santa Clarita, California. Despite that he did not actually share a full legal name with his father, and that is father was a second himself, the young Henry would be dubbed and known from his first film appearance as "Harry Carey Jr." His mother as actress Olive Golden Carey, who was the daughter of vaudevillian and Broadway actor George Fuller Golden (hence Henry's middle name). The late date of his birth would seem to be a bit of a head-scratcher on a silent film blog, but like William Hopper, being the son of actors means that you might make your film premiere before you can even remember doing so. Such is the case here with the younger Carey, he made his film debut before he even turned a year old in one of his father's signature westerns: Desperate Trails (1921). It would be his only silent film appearance and his only turn as a "child actor." He would not appear in another film until 1946 when he appeared in the western Rolling Home.  In the meantime he had served his country during the second world war in the Naval medical corps, and later--along side the legendary director that would later hire him John Ford, as a naval photographer (his first film with Ford was 3 Godfathers starring John Wayne).  He was also briefly in the music business. Carey made his television debut in 1951 in the episode The Bacular Clock of the dramatic series Chevron Theater; and he had a recurring role on the western series The Adventures of Spin and Marty.  During the decade of the 1960's he almost exclusively did television work.  Later in life he appeared in a number of non-western film roles, having parts in such films as: Nickelodeon (1976), Gremlins (1984), Mask (1985), The Whales of August (1987), Back To The Future III (1990) and The Exorcist III (1990).  His last appearance in a western was actually his last acting role before retirement; in 1997 he appeared in Last Stand at Saber River with Tom Selleck.  He then retired to write (in 1996 he published his own autobiography).  He made one final appearance in a cameo short The Adventures of Spin and Marty: Back in the Saddle with Harry Carey Jr. in 2005. Most recently, writer/director William Peter Blatty put out his directors cut of The Exorcist III entitled The Exorcist III: Legion, which was released in 2016--four years after Carey's death.  Harry Carey Jr. passed away at the age of 91 on the 27th of December of natural causes in Santa Barbara.  He is interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, along with his wife Marilyn. His wife was the daughter of actor Paul Fix

[source: Louis du Mort-Find A Grave]

Friday, May 15, 2020

Born Today May 15: Joseph Cotten


Actor of all trades in the Golden Age of Hollywood Joseph Cotten (Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr.) was born on this day in Petersburg Virginia. While he first came to world wide attention in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, he was actually in another Orson Welles film 3 years prior. He was the star of Welles filmed remake of Too Much Johnson in 1938.  Despite it's late date, the film was a silent. In fact, the film was actually a side project of Welles' production of the play in live theater.  It was also a famously "lost" film until 2013, when a copy of it turned up in Italy (previously the only known copy of the film was in Welles' possession and thought lost in a house fire in 1970).  Right now, I am not going to go into the merits of the film as it has come down to us as basically a "work print"--what I will say is that Cotten is pretty damn brilliant in his slapstick performance! Suffice to say, this was Cotten's only silent film performance and his career was a long and storied one, so there is little point in attempting to detail it here. I will mention that he made his television debut in 1954 in the State Of The Union feature length episode of the once a month series Producer's Showcase.  In 1955 he was "given" his own series The Joseph Cotten Show: On Trial (original title simply On Trial).  After this point, he made tons of appearances on television (far more than I ever thought for sure!).  He also appeared in a number of horror films--not a genre associated with him at all. Probably--aside from Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte with Bette Davis--my favorite would have to be the Mario Bava entitled Baron Blood in English.  In fact, Cotten's last film appearance came in 1981 in a horror film directed by David Hemmings, featuring Jenny Argutter of An American Werewolf in London fame:  The Survivor.  Curiously, the film is an Australian production. Not long after the wrapping of filming, Cotten suffered a heart attack that led to a stroke that left him disabled, with speech difficulty.  Lucky to be alive at all, he retired from acting, but began writing instead. He also spoke weekly with his old partner in crime, so to speak, Orson Welles.  He actually had one such call the night before Welles' own death in 1985.  By 1990 Cotten had developed cancer and had surgery because of it; despite this, he lived a further 4 years dying at the age of 88 of pneumonia on the 6th of February. His body was shipped back to his home town in Virginia, where he is buried at the Blandford Cemetery.  

[source: Arthur Koykka via Find A Grave]

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Born Today May 14: Billie Dove


Actress Billie Dove was born Bertha Bohny to Swiss immigrants on this day in New York City.  She was one of the earliest "blonde bombshells" in Hollywood; and her nickname was "The American Beauty." She first changed her first name to legally to "Lillian" in the 1920's when she moved to Hollywood, and later began using the stage name "Billie Dove" when entering film work. She got her start back in New York as a model and was then hired by Florenz Ziegfeld for his Ziegfeld Follies Revue; upon her arrival in Tinsel Town she promptly found work in film. Her first role came in 1921, when she appeared in Frank Borzage's comedy Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (a remake of Fred Niblo's film of the same name from 1916).  From then on, Dove specialized in comedy and comedic roles. She also managed to make it into at least one very important technological "first"--she landed the role of Princess Isobel in the feature length techicolor The Black Pirate released in 1926 (this is early, so-called "2 Strip Technicolor"). We are truly fortunate that the film survives and has been restored; ill-regardless of whether one is a fan of silent swashbucklers or not, this film worth a look just for the color alone...and Dove playful performance (it's currently on Amazon Prime). Dove married thrice in her life, and her first marriage was to director Irvin Willet, whom she met on the set of All Brothers Were Valiant in 1923.  They divorced in 1929 and she was next connected to Howard Hughes, to whom she was briefly engaged. But it was her marriage to oil executive Robert Alan Kenaston in 1933 that stuck (she may have actually met him through Hughes, who was from Texas).  With Kenaston she had two children (one adopted) and it was her nuptials to the weathy oil man that ended her acting career.  Her last silent film was Careers in 1929, it was also released as a sound film to theaters in big cities that had the ability to screen films with sound effects and music (her last fully silent film was the melodrama Night Watch).  She then made a handful of early talkies, ending the decade with The Painted Angel.  Dove made only a handful of movies in the 1930's, despite the fact that she was a literally a movie star of extreme popularity. Her last film was Blondie of the Follies in 1932 (she reportedly shot a cameo appearance for Diamond Head (1962), but the footage was left out of the film). She retired to family life after this. She does not seem to have missed the life however; in addition to being a comedic acting talent, she was also an accomplished artist, (and an author and enjoyed flying, becoming a pilot at some point). Her marriage to Kenaston came to end in 1970 upon the occasion of his death; three years later she wed architect John Miller, only to divorce him a year later. She lived out her life, writing and painting, in her adopted home town of Hollywood; dying there of complications from pneumonia on New Year's Eve 1997 at the age of 94.  She is interred at the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale under the name Lillian Bohny Kenaston with "Billie Dove" inscribed below. Reportedly her "name" Billie was taken by another extremely talented lady born only 11 years after Dove; Eleanora Fagan is better known to the world as Billie Holiday. 

[Source: Find A Grave]

Monday, May 11, 2020

Born Today May 11: Salvador Dali


Surrealist artist Salvador Dali was born in Figueres, Spain on this day (full name:  Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí Domènech--probably the longest name on this blog to date! In 1982 King Juan Carlos bestowed the official title of Marquis of Dalí of Púbol).  The town is located in the semi-independent "country within a country" of Catalonia. Dalí was himself ethnically Catalan. Dalí was born into a family extremely  proud of their Catalan background. His father was was a well known Catalan Federalist and local lawyer. It was Dalí's mother that actually encouraged his interest in art at a young age.  For someone of such a stature in history, and a person who lived a long life, there is little use in doing more than providing a list of online sources for reading and, well, "gazing." So getting right to the reason why this superstar from the art world is on a blog about silent film, it because of his involvement in one of the most famous silent short films out there; namely: Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou (1929). Dalí not only appears in the film, he also wrote it with Buñuel (see the film below).  


Dali died in the town he was born in on the 23rd of January in 1989 at the age of 84. He is buried inside a special crypt that he designed himself, which located in the floor of the museum and theater that he also designed himself. 



The Dalí Foundation located at his hometown museum (read more about the history of the the museum Here)

Official Website By Dali Museum

The Dali located in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA (read about the history of the museum Here)