Friday, July 31, 2009


Melody Is to Be Employed in a Rational Fashion in Some Forthcoming Attractions

Hollywood, Cal., April 3
The cinema rarely does things half way. From the squeaky days of the audibles when music was forced into each production with or without reason, pictures overnight would not permit even the lilting warble of birds because “the public was off the song stuff.” Again the tide has turned, with music playing a discreet but important part in many of the current productions.

But harmony is used differently than it was at first. It now takes two forms – either it appears as a symphonic mood score on the sound track, separately or behind the dialogue, or in songs which form a definite part of the story and advance the plot and are spotted at reasonably correct points in the picture.

A dozen or so pictures now being made depend on music in one form or another. Other films with music are awaiting shipment to New York. Other productions are having songs or scores prepared for them.

“Instead of slowing down the story, as songs did in the early days, we are now writing tunes the words of which advance the plot or contribute in some way to the story,” Nacio Herb Brown, composer and an outstanding pioneer in screen music, declares. “At first all action stopped while somebody sang. Now, in an assignment for a song just given me, the requirement is that the words of the melody be the first indication to the audience that the girl is in love with the man. The two are dancing and the girl starts to talk, and while the audience believes she is merely repeating lines it soon finds she is singing.”

Studios like song hits in pictures. The revenue from a good popular song can equal the profit made on the picture. This was one of the impelling reasons for injecting songs in the first talkers. Today, instead of merely pausing to sing, the story is built to take in the song.

“The best method,” Mr. Brown says, “is to use a short melody that people can remember. This appears early in the picture. Then later it show up sung by a character. If possible, the tune is used again, even though in an obscure way before the final fade-out.”

This was the method he employed in Pola Negri’s picture, “A Woman Commands.” To Mr. Brown are credited the songs of “Broadway Melody,” the first singing film, “Pagan Love Song,” “Wedding of the Painted Dolls” and a half dozen other successful numbers.

The symphonic method is for a different purpose. “The Wet Parade” uses martial music and stirring tunes to arouse the emotions fo the audience during a number of sequences. “Grand Hotel” uses music from legitimate sources, but it never conflicts with the mood desired of the audience. Other Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer pictures are taking advantage of tunes.

Fox used considerable music in “Delicious.” It is using songs in “Careless Lady,” current Joan Bennett-John Boles production. A song advances the plot in “The Trial of Vivienne Ware” and Warner Baxter sings in “Amateur Daddy” with relation to the story. Paramount has made a real musical picture in “One Hour With You,” but incidental and trick music is used for laughs. “The Miracle Man” depends on music for several important moods and Universal, in its Western with Tom Mix, “Destry Rides Again,” uses music to carry the story over a long time lapse.

RKO-Radio’s “Symphony of Six Million” employs melody to great advantage during some of the most dramatic scenes. A score was prepared by Max Steiner which, at first, was to have run behind all scenes. This was found impractical, but it does background all the dramatic moments of the film. Mr. Steiner has prepared another but different type score for ‘Bird of Paradise.” This is Hawaiian music in a more modern and rapid tempo than is usually found in melodies of this type.


Occasionally a film sneaks in on the public and is a sensation. Little was said by the Fox people about “Young America,” which hasn’t what is known as a box office title. It was previewed the other evening in and Hollywood became quite enthused about it. It is Frank Borzage’s latest from the play by Fred Ballard with the screen story by William Conselman.

It is a very simple tale of two small-town boys of 13 and their inability to stay out of trouble, and it is probably as human a story as the screen will see this season.


Fox has announced a re-making of “What Price Glory?” with Spencer Tracy and Ralph Bellamy as Flagg and Quirt. They, by the way, contribute liberally to “Young America.”

The feminine lead has not yet been decided, but there is talk that Renee Adoree may play Charmaine. There is little likelihood of this, however, for while the sentimental value would be great, Hollywood is not noted for clinging too closely to sentiment.

The merry battle between Howard Hughes and the censors goes along but in a rather one-sided manner. Mr. Hughes will release “Scarface” this month. He has received the approval of the National Board of Review and with this he hopes to influence the censors in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other places that view gangster pictures with cold eyes. That the public will still accept gangster pictures is indicated by the sales report. Mr. Hughes says that bookings exceed those of “Hell’s Angels,” which also received a great deal of advance publicity.
Advance publicity does not always mean that a picture is good. In fact, more often than not the pictures fail to live up to the notices.

On the day Ann Harding and her husband, Harry Bannister, announced their intention of getting a divorce, the title of Miss Harding’s next picture was announced. It is “Just a Woman.” Her latest RKO production, “Westward Passage” was finished this week and work is now proceeding on a new story.

A survey of the production schedule for 1932-33 shows a cut in number by the major studios. Where 300 pictures were scheduled for the production year last April, but 280 are listed for the coming season. Pronounced activity which has been noted among independents may raise this number materially.

Present plans call for 60 from Paramount, 52 each from Warners and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 50 from RKO, 26 each from Columbia and Universal and 12 from United Artists. Often several productions are cut from the year’s schedules and if this happens this year it will result in considerable activity by the independents.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Screen Life In Hollywood

By Hubbard Keavy

Hollywood, April 3
When and if I write that play, the valet – if any – in it will be named Jenner. Because the only valet I know is named Jenner and he is my perfect idea of a valet.

And, apparently, George Arliss is of the same opinion. Jenner has been in the Arliss service for more than a quarter of a century. He has grown stout and grey since he joined the actor when he was playing opposite Mrs. Minnie Maddern Fiske.

Jenner, George Jenner, has been a marked figure in Hollywood since that day three years ago when he walked out into the middle of the first Arliss talking picture set, in front of the cameras and under the microphone, and announced to an astonished cast and crew that it was 4:30 – time for Mr. Arliss to go home.

Arliss smiled and went home – and he has continued to do so whenever Jenner, watch in hand, has said it was time to do so.


Jenner has become a fixture by now and no one worries about him. It is understood that he has only the interest of the actor at heart and that, in a round-about way he has the interest of the picture at heart too.

Jenner studies each new Arliss script with all the attention of a director, actor and technician rolled into one. He pays slight attention to the dramatic thrills, the plot, the climax, the dialog or the settings.

He goes through the script with a fine toothed comb, hunting out the costume requirements, the number of changes and the wardrobe needs.

Among Jenner’s many duties is that of providing the justly famous tea and toast which Arliss has each afternoon of his well ordered life, either at home or at the studio. Jenner has brewed literally thousands of cups of tea and he is a master of the art.

Jenner was no newcomer to Hollywood when he upset the crew that day, for he was with Arliss when the latter made four or five silent pictures several years ago.
He was a stranger to that particular crew, however, and the dramatic effect of his first performance has never been forgotten.


Added credence to the reports that Greta Nissen and Weldon Heyburn soon will file notice of intention to wed is seen in the visit here of Weldon’s father, Col. Wyatt G. Franks of the United States army.

Bert Wheeler, Bob Woolsey and Dorothy Lee are getting ready to take a musical show on the road, for one night stands. They may travel by airplane.


Now that Gene Markey is married, Joel McCrea has become Hollywood’s official eligible bachelor.
Rumors of his engagement to any one (or more) of the cinema’s single ladies will not be unexpected.


On the screen, Bette Davis appears to have an oval-shaped face like Constance Bennett’s.

I was pleasantly surprised, meeting her for the first time, to discover her chin is pointed and the contour of her face quite regular.

Her eyes are unusually large and blue. And, she is a natural blond. Also, Bette is slender and not very tall. But so much for her looks.

In a 15-minute conversation between camera set-ups, we discussed a variety of things and sundry people, ranging from Richard Bennett to what actresses are supposed to look like.

Bette (who, incidentally, was christened Ruth Elizabeth) was in a play for three weeks with the Bennett girls’ papa, learning plenty the exciting while.

Her favorite Bennett story is about the night the audience seemed very cold. Bennett, just before his exit, turned to his listeners and inquired: “Must I tell you a dirty story to make you laugh?”

Bette and another girl were left on the stage to carry on in the face of this handicap.


Bette still thinks her arrival in Hollywood is the least conspicuous any girl ever made.

“I thought someone would meet me. But no one did, I was here three days before the studio phoned me. Then the committee, of one, that had been sent from the studio said he didn’t recognize me because I didn’t look like an actress.

“I didn’t – and still don’t – have an ermine coat and red shoes. But I did have a dog in my arms. He should have known no one but an actress carries a dog when she travels.”

Bette, who was the love interest in Arliss’ “The Man Who Played God,” is busy doing the same thing now in “The Dark Horse,” with Warren William. In between these she was in “So Big” and “The Rich Are Always With Us.”

“And my next engagement, “ she said, “will be with the ocean. I want just one day off to go swimming.”


A certain former flyweight fighter, who will have to be just Joe to you, had a great idea.

He was hired to be one of James Cagney’s opponents in a fight picture and he trained as thoroughly for the cinematic scrap as he used to for real ones.

Joe is hoping to make a comeback and he believed that if he actually knocked Cagney out, he’d be able to trade on the publicity. (You know, of course, movie fighters are never forcibly floored, they just fall down.)

Joe’s plot somehow became known to Cagney. And Jimmie, instead of sparring, peppered Joe with real blows – blows that made Joe change his mind about a knockout.


This revelation may surprise you. It did me.

The man who adapted “Tom Sawyer” for the movies says the picture actually contained but a small percentage of Mark Twain’s story and that only nine speeches Twain wrote were used. Five of these were “yeses,” three were “noes,” and one was “Well, perhaps.”

Yet almost all who saw “Tom Sawyer” were impressed by what seemed to them a literal translation.

William Stevens McNutt, who with Grover Jones wrote “Tom Sawyer” for the screen, says their first problem was to discover the story Twain had to tell. It was simply the story of a boy and his aunt, a boy who was a boy and an aunt who was an aunt.

Then they took Twain’s characters, several of the best remembered incidents of the book – such as the whitewashing of the fence, the disappearance of the boys, and the discovery of pirate gold – and built a story around them.


In making this “confession” McNutt explained why few novels can be brought to the screen as they are. And in doing so he gave answer to somewhat frequent complaints that the movies often change stories beyond recognition.

“The story writer can and does devote page after page to character description,” said McNutt, “which is useless to a scenario.”

“A few seconds, usually, is all the time we can devote in a picture to letting you know what the character is like.

“The greater percentage of the dialogue in a novel cannot be said aloud from the screen. It is either too grandiloquent or too verbose, or both.”

The novel and the movie are two widely different mediums of expression, concluded McNutt. And there is this difference:
The novel is written to be run off on a printing press and read in three to four hours, the movie to be run off on a screen and seen and heard in an hour and 15 minutes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Pretty Erin O'Brien-Moore is Irish - and has a mind of her own.
So, after a season in Hollywood where she couldn't reconcile her ideas of acting with those current in the movies, she is back on the New York stage.

New York, April 2 (Associated Press)
It may be assumed from her name that Erin O’Brien-Moore is Irish, which also explains why she is a determined young woman.

Because, as she says herself, “I’m terribly stage-struck,” she turned aside a movie career and its accompanying wealth as it was interfering with her ambition to be a star in the theater.

This auburn-haired Irish girl first caused a murmur among the critics when they stumbled upon her in an obscure Greenwich Village playhouse.

There she was doing her best to give life to a futuristic art play called “Him” written by e. e. cummings, an author who is opposed to all capital letters.


The following season, as the young sweetheart in “Street Scene,” she became what would have been the toast of the town if this were still an age when gay young blades drank champagne from their favorite’s slipper.

Immediately Hollywood beckoned and Miss O’Brien-Moore, with some misgivings, signed her name to a contract that brought her more money than she ever imagined there could be in one place.

“When I reached the studios,” she explains, “I found they had a vastly different idea about acting. To me, a performance in the theater is something creative, something that can’t be turned out as if it were pattered by a machine. I just couldn’t act according to rules as they wanted me to do.”


So Miss O’Brien-Moore refused to make a picture. She remained a year in Hollywood, where the directors could never understand the determined ideas of this young actress.

Now she is back on Broadway in “Riddle Me This,” and it is a coincidence that she plays the role of the sweetheart of a newspaperman. For Miss O’Brien-Moore comes from a family of newspapermen.

Her grandfather was editor of papers in Galveston, Dallas and New Orleans. Her father was editor of journals in Charleston, W. Va., Tucson, Ariz., and St. Louis.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

April 3, 1932


London, April 2 (Universal News Service)
Gloria Swanson, Hollywood star, thus revealed today that she and Michael Farmer, her latest husband, expect a son and heir next week.

Beyond that Miss Swanson would not talk of the interesting event today.
She did say, however, that she had hoped to knit some things for the little newcomer, but that illness prevented. A most luxurious layette has been purchased from Bond street shops.

Gloria is confined to her bed by bronchitis which, although not regarded as serious, is sufficiently delicate to require careful medical attention.

Farmer, sturdy, youthful-appearing Irish sportsman, does not care whether the baby is a boy or a girl, he says, but Gloria confided secretly that he would be delighted to be presented with a son.


Charley Chase, who has been a star with Hal Roach for twelve years, has been re-signed to a new starring contract for a series of comedies to be released next season.

(Joseph Jefferson as "Rip Van Winkle)


Son of Joseph Jefferson, He Followed His Father in Role of Rip Van Winkle for Many Years

Los Angeles, Cal., April 2
Thomas L. Jefferson, son of Joseph Jefferson, famous actor, and himself a well known player, died today at his home here. He had been on the legitimate stage more than half a century, following his father as a portrayer of Rip Van Winkle for many years.

Mr. Jefferson, who was 75 years old, had been in ill health for some time, and his illness took an acute form on Easter Sunday. Funeral services will be held from the Pierce Brothers Mortuary Tuesday afternoon with interment in Inglewood Cemetery. The services will be in charge of the Masons.

So well did the Jeffersons – both father and son – characterize the leading figure of Washinton Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow,” that after the elder Jefferson’s death, a stained glass window, portraying him in his favorite role, was place in the Little Church Around the Corner in New York.

Thomas Jefferson was also well known for his characterization of Lightnin’, in the play of that name. After the death of Frank Bacon, who originally starred in the play, Mr. Jefferson was given the partwhich he played on several tours of the United States.

Mr. Jefferson had resided in Hollywood eight years, and appeared in many films, two of his most recent appearances being in “Forbidden,” and in “The Hatchet Man.” He leaves his wife, Mrs. Daisy Jefferson, who was with him at his death, and three daughters by a former wife.

Mr. Jefferson was a member of the St. Louis Lodge of Elks.
Mr. Jefferson’s daughters, all residents of New Jersey, are Mrs. Rumsey W. Scott of Montclair, Mrs. Carrington Howard of Caldwell, and Mrs. Charles H. Raymond of Morristown.


Richard Cromwell, featured with Jack Holt in Columbia’s “Maker of Men,” will shortly move over to Warner Bros.’ studios. His services have been lent to this company for one production, in which he will play the juvenile lead, the role of “Jimmy,” in a feature tentatively titled “Tinsel Girl,” It will be directed by Michael Curtiz.


After being remarried to his recent bride, the former Mabel Ward, while on location at Yuma, Ariz., for scenes for “Destry of Death Valley.” Tom Mix has returned to Universal City and his second talking picture is now in the hands of film editors.

“Destry of Death Valley” has been directed by Al Rogell, with Lois Wilson and Fred Kohler appearing in Mix’s support, and in addition to providing a thrilling dramatic story, the backgrounds for the new Mix film are said to be among the most beautiful desert scenes he has presented. His third vehicle will be either an untitled original story by Peter B Kyne or “Pony Boy,” recent written by Nina Wilcox Putnam.


“The Doomed Battalion,” Universal’s surprise special for 1932, is looming into “All Quiet “ proportions. Already it has had three previews on the coast, and the underground instantaneous telegraph system of the moving picture industry has tapped this one as a great money-getter. “The Doomed Battalion” is the story of the heroic defense of a mountain on the Italian front during the Great War. It contains unusual shots and unequalled photography as well as the most exciting dramatic situations.


Among coiffures refecting the enhanced importance of the hair as it is revealed by the tilts of the new spring millinery are those of Sylvia Sidney (left), Miriam Hopkins (center) and Frances Dee.

Miss Sidney’s long hair helps to make the Madonna coiffure effective. Unwaved and parted to the center, it is drawn back low on the neck, divided and twisted into two figure eights, ending on each side at a line just below the ear lobes.

Miss Hopkins achieves the 1932 version of the windblown bob with her naturally blond and curly hair. It is parted on the left side, the top hair combed off the forehead, but that on the side covering the ears and clinging to the cheeks in soft curls.

The debutante mode is exemplified in Miss Dee’s partless bob. This coiffure demands a partless effect. The long ends of the hair are curled upward, giving a full appearance at the back.


Sidney Fox is dividing a brief vacation between film plays and learning to play golf, bareback riding, and posing for the celebrated portrait artist McClelland Barclay. Miss Fox’s next picture, her initial stellar vehicle, bears the tentative title “Out in Style,” and Edward Luddy is its author.


Loretta Young, who has appeared successively for four different producing companies in her last four pictures, makes her Fox Film debut as the heroine of “3 Girls Lost,” the feature attraction at the Majestic theater Friday. John Wayne and Lew Cody have the prominent male roles in this exciting story of modern youth, which Sidney Lanfield directed.


Playing her first role since her success in “The Yellow Ticket,” Elissa Landi appears as the leading character in “Devil’s Lottery,” Fox Films’ romantic drama coming Friday to the Rialto theater. She is supported by a cast that includes Victor McLaglen, Alexander Kirkland, Beryl Mercer, Paul Cavanaugh, Ralph Morgan, Barbara Weeks, Herbert Mundin, and Halliwell Hobbes, The picture was directed by Sam Taylor, from Guy Bolton’s screen story which is based on Nalbro Bartley’s successful novel.


Though Lew Ayres never before appeared on the Football field in a regular game, he put in three weeks of intensive training before starting work in his latest Universal picture, “The Spirit of Notre Dame,” under the expert tutelage of Frank Carideo twice All-American quarterback, “The Four Horsemen” and other backfield stars who appear with him in the production. As a result, when the picture comes to the State theater on Wednesday, Lew will be seen as an adept player in the slashing style developed by the late Knute Rockne, dean of coaches.


RKO-Radio Pictures’ comedy-drama, “Fanny Foley Herself,” starring Edna May Oliver, will be the feature attraction at the Lyric Theater Sunday and Monday.

The story tells how girls, seeing their mother in action on the stage for the first time, are ashamed for her. They are mortified, forgetting her comic artistry was responsible for their education.

Also in the cast are Hobart Bosworth, Helen Chandler, John Darrow and Florence Roberts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Hollywood, April 2

“Broadway or Bust,” slogan of troupers for generations, is just another catchline of Guy Kibbee, veteran actor, who has been appearing for First National in important roles for several months. Kibbee is not even convinced there is a Broadway at the moment – for all that he has played on it, even made an outstanding hit on it.

For many years Kibbee trouped the provinces waiting for the break that seemed to grow more remote each season. He played in stock companies in every section of the country. He played in vaudeville. Also, he had good parts in Broadway productions from time to time, but always after they had left Broadway. Whenever he could afford it, as he tells the story, he would come to New York to wait for that chance on the Big Street. But each time the wait would outlast the funds that he would have to accept the first touring job that came along.

Finally he gave up. By now, he figured, he was too old to get there. What was the use of hoping? So he settled down philosophically to a life-time of “the road,” determined to be satisfied with his lot.

Suddenly, when it was least expected, the chance came. Kenyon Nicholson, author of “Torch Song,” which Arthur Hopkins was about to produce, had seen Kibbee in one of his numerous stock assignments. He remembered him when it was necessary to cast the benevolent traveling salesman who played so significant a role in the drama. Kibbee, a little dazed, responded to the summons from Hopkins. He rehearsed, he appeared, he made one of the resounding hits of the decade.

After “Torch Song” he got another part or two, none of them offering the opportunities the Nicholson play had. But anyhow he was on Broadway. Nothing else mattered. It was too good to be true; too good to last, at any rate.

Hollywood heard about Guy Kibbee and Hollywood wanted Guy Kibbee, though he did not altogether approve of it, succumbed at length to West Coast persuasions. After all, he would be going back to Broadway after a picture or two. Why not make a flying trip to California?

It has proved no flying trip. One of two pictures, and audiences began to clamor more for Kibbee. Now he is under a long-term contract to the affiliated companies, Warner Brothers and First National, and Broadway, unapproachable Broadway, is as far away as it ever was.

Lately he has become a sort of trademark for these two companies’ pictures, for his appearance has been frequent and widely noted. The public has seen him as the cheerful tramp in “Union Depot,” the equally cheerful “dummy” president in “High Pressure,” the harassed baseball manager of “Fireman, Save My Child,” the veteran cabman of “Taxi!” and in many other roles. Most recently he has been appearing for First National in “Tinsel Girl,” which has just been completed.

If this goes on much longer, Kibbee feels he will never get back to Broadway. Already it beings to seem just the name of a street some place, a place one always likes to go, but can’t; a blur on the horizon.

Monday, July 20, 2009


By A. L. Woodbridge
Hollywood, April 2

Father and mother, their flapper daughters, their rah-rah sons, drunkards, bootleggers, “speakeasy” bosses, the United States government and politicians are going to have something to talk about.

“The Wet Parade,” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s picture telling the story of prohibition, scourges not only liquor-drinkers and open saloons, but also the present bootleg and speakeasy conditions. It is packed with “dynamite” from every angle. It is a castigation of law enforcement methods. It holds up to ridicule all classes of society from the day laborer who slinks into a varnish shop for a jug of alcohol, to the owners of exclusive estates who maintain private bars in their home and give lavish parties.

The production reviews the whole situation in America, starting with the drinking of bourbon in an aristocratic Southern home in pre-war days when whisky was a before-dinner beverage instead of a start of a carousal. Yet it portrays a haughty Colonel committing suicide in a pig pen when denied his bottle bought in an open saloon. Lewis Stone enacts the role of this colonel.

Comes the call for soldiers to go overseas, the mobilization of the army, the march to the transports with flags waving and military bands playing. A glimpse is given of the fleet of American battleships plowing through the Atlantic, of the air armadas in France and finally of the trenches.

Then starts the move for prohibition in the States, the plea that wheat and rye and barley were going into intoxicating drinks when they ought to be conserved for the doughboys on the firing line. And finally the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment and that wild last night when liquor could be bought, the crowds in their “final” revels, the burial of “Old John Barleycorn” and then “prohibition.”

There the story turns to present-day conditions. It shows the disintegration of a great orator (Walter Huston) and his sinking lower and lower until, when his wife destroys his jug of cheap alcohol, he beats her to death. At his trial he is found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison for life – just a shadow of a man.

A private bar in a magnificent home is pictured with guests in evening attire getting drunk; prohibition agents snooping around in “dives” and drinking the “evidence,” a policeman entering a side door and warning the barkeeper that the front door, at least, must be kept locked for the night.

Of course, there is a love story running through the production and centering about a young woman and young man, without whom the picture in many ways would be revolting.

At Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where the production had its premiere, an audience filed out with the comment – “powerful picture!”

Sunday, July 19, 2009


By Robert Grandon – April 2, 1932

Is this pajama craze ever going to end? I think not, for all the little pals of Mrs. Rob and myself turn up at the most unusual hours, day and night, sporting the latest nifties.

Little Joan Bennett threw a party the other day and what do you think she wore? Black velvet pajamas trimmed with ermine.

With her delicate blonde coloring, Joan stood out among her studio sisters in a manner to make her the most admired… and the most envied. And now, black pajamas are popping up in all the shops and for dress!

Of course, Jean Harlow started it with that funny sort of suit which is a cross between a sweat shirt and a pair of sailor pants. And when she went away on her vaudeville tour, pajamas started to really blossom.

Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Tallulah Bankhead prefer lace and chiffon and navy blue and pastels. But black velvet and ermine is becoming a national habit and seems fair to spread.

Anna May Wong has introduced the bang craze. For a long time, she has adopted this head-dress and now it seems to be catching on. The other stars are copying her.

The other night at the Embassy I saw Kay Francis with black nails. It’s the newest craze, she told me. You have your manicurist dye them to match your evening dress and remove the stain the next morning. And if it’s an afternoon party, why, silver is quite the latest thing.

It used to be that Paris set the styles. Now it’s Hollywood. Watch for the Mata Hari turban introduced by Greta Garbo.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


By Luella O. Parsons – Universal Service Motion Picture Editor

Hollywood, April 2
Champions in any field can be assured of a contract with the movies. Producers just love to sign these celebrities and when they do, nine out of every ten make one picture and then blow up. A champion prize fighter, baseball player, football hero, runner, swimmer, aviator doesn’t necessarily make a champion movie star.

Johnny Weissmuller, swimming expert, is one of the few who was ever invited for a return engagement. He just seemed to hit it off in “Tarzan of the Apes.” If he had a picture in which he was inappropriately cast, Mr. Johnny Weissmuller would be back swimming in less time than it takes to write this.

Ruth Elder, one of the prettiest girls who ever made headlines, was signed by Paramount at a good salary. One picture and Ruth found herself listed among the non-movie folk. She married a rich man so her career needn’t worry her. Her fame as an aviatrix, in any event would have exceeded any claim to screen popularity.

Pavlowa, one of the most famous dancers of any generation, was starred by Lois Weber in a picture 12 years ago. Graceful as she was Madame Pavlowa never again made another picture. There just didn’t seem any demand for her although Miss Weber’s picture was called an artistic triumph by many critics.

What about Rudy Vallee? His fame has become synonymous for mob enthusiasm. Women and children stormed the door of every theater in which he sang. Here was a sure-fire thing for the movies. Rudy and his megaphone! He made one picture for RKO and while I never saw the box office receipts, I do know they weren’t sufficient to get him a return invitation.


I doubt if our national idol, Charles Lindbergh, would have been good for more than one movie if he had accepted the $1,000,000 offer made him. Mr. Lindbergh was too wise to let himself be starred in a movie drama.

Edwin Carewe offered the Queen of Rumania some fabulous sum. Marie was much intrigued until the diplomats in her country stepped in and refused to give her permission to face a movie camera in anything but a newsreel.
While the fascinating Marie may have been good for one picture, I doubt if the public would have paid twice to see her emote. This public of ours does not select its screen gods from men and women who have been famous in other endeavors.


Mary Garden, whose “Thais” in the opera has been sensationally popular, made a lamentable failure in the movie version of “Thais.” Of course, that was before the talkies. But even with the opportunity now given singers to sing their favorite numbers on the screen none of them have made great successes.

The Fox company lost a young fortune trying to make a movie star of John McCormack. And there are a few on stage, or concert platform, with his popularity.

There are many more who were ballyhooed as coming into the movies at fabulous salaries and who lasted for a brief moment. Red Grange, football hero, crashed the gates of Hollywood with a noise that resounded throughout the world. He made one or two pictures and then after he ceased playing football, we heard no more about him as a movie star.

What would have happened if Knute Rockne had lived? He had a great personality and he was much loved but even so, I doubt if he could have become a permanent movie actor. Jack Dempsey, Gertrude Ederle, Charles Paddock are other champions who, while much discussed as movie prospects, have never been established as screen idols.

As I said, the public want to pick its own movie stars.