Sunday, February 28, 2010
Jealousy of the Other’s Stage Success and the Exalted Worship of Their “Careers” Usually Destroy Marital Affection and Make Married Life Unendurable
April 17, 1932
Ann Harding, screen star, and Harry Bannister, actor, recently made the surprisingly frank statement that they were being divorced simply because the husband’s career and personality were being absorbed by those of the wife until he had become known as “Ann Harding’s husband.”
This honest explanation throws light on why it has become an axiom that actors and actresses should never marry each other, and that when they do, they are, with certain notable exceptions, almost certain to be unhappy.
Perhaps only among stage folk could such a plight as that of the Bannisters be possible. They have been married five and a half years, are still in love, without a single breath of scandal, they have a four-year-old daughter, Jane, a $100,000 house they built together, they can’t stand it any longer because of almost irresistible forces that work upon people of the stage and screen.
For two and a half years they had been happy working their way to success on the spoken stage on Broadway. Then both went to Hollywood with beating hearts. Would either or both make good? The wife got her chance first and the husband loyally did the sensible thing. He stopped looking out for himself to help put his wife over. And when she made good the logical thing was for him to bend every effort to help make her next picture even better.
At the end of three years Miss Harding is one of the firmly established screen stars, commanding a salary that is said to be $6000 a week. They have nothing to worry about except one thing. In that short time, while his wife has shot upward, he has dropped from leading man to playing occasional bits, and realized his situation when he found that Hollywood was calling him “Ann Harding’s husband.” The trouble was he had given Ann every bit of the spotlight for three years. No doubt she would have gladly tried to share it with him at the start, but now he can never get in there with her, and they both know it. His one hope is to go out and, all by himself, capture a spotlight of his own and not let anyone else in it.
If Mr. Bannister had been a lawyer, a real estate man, or most anything except an actor, the trouble would never have arisen. He would probably have been proud and delighted at his wife’s triumph and glad to have people point him out as Ann Harding’s husband. It may be a little late for Bannister to win his spotlight, for he is 43, while she is only 30.
If husband and wife appear in the same play they fight with the author to make sure one does not get better lines, more laughs, bigger situations, better entrances and exits than the other. They fight with the management about the size of type in which their names are printed in the billing and the electric lights. They drive the press agent crazy if the paper prints an inch more space about one than the other.
On stage there are a number of mean tricks, known to every actor, by which he can divert attention from the actor who should legitimately have it and thereby spoil his speech, kill his laugh or make ineffective whatever he is trying to accomplish. These tricks range all the way from moving during another’s speech to looking inanely over the speakers head instead of into his eyes. These foul blows are not often perpetrated on the stage, because they invite a call-down from the management and, if persisted in, discharge. But in private life there is no such restraint between married stage people. So the little battle of tricks to steal the attention of everyone else at the party from husband or wife goes on unhindered and often unnoticed.
In a play a star must have a “star’s entrance.” That is, he or she must appear in a striking, effective and flattering manner. Going to a party the ordinary couple gives no thought to entrances and exits. But a theatrical husband and wife each wants a star’s entrance and a star’s exit from that party, a matter that must be fought out in the taxi going over and perhaps again on the way home. Only a few have managed to rise above all this pettiness.
Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks are still husband and wife. They had the tact to keep from treading on each other’s toes. Yet each had been married before to a theatrical person and made a failure of it. Perhaps that is where they learned their lesson.
Compare this with Madame Jeritza sobbing over the footlights of the Metropolitan Opera House to the audience: “Gigli is not nice to me.” This meant that she considered that the Italian tenor had “stolen one of her curtain calls.” And Gigli was so upset over this curtain matter that he almost hurled the big blonde prima donna into the orchestra. Fortunately Jeritza is not married to Gigli or any other rival operatic singer.
Instead, this temperamental prima donna is quietly and happily wed to Baron Leopold Popper, who, though he has a title, is not at all annoyed when he hears everyone whisper “There goes Jeritza’s husband.” He is the son of a noted singer and the grandson of a singing teacher, but fortunately his talent runs to the violin and piano, so there is no bloodshed.
However, theatrical pairs do not have to appear on the same stage in order to get jealous and behave like cats and dogs. Geraldine Farrar was a grand opera pima donna who had seen her best days when she met Lou Tellegen, a young matinee idol in no way her rival.
He had come to America as the great Sarah Bernhardt’s leading man and was known as the “perfect lover,” a role that he seems to have played off the stage as well as on.
He had left behind him in Europe a wife, the Countess de Brouchere, who seems to have understood him and might have gotten along with Tellegen if they had been left alone. But Geraldine had always had the best of everything and here was what was advertised as the world’s most perfect lover. She just had to have him, and she got him, but not for long. Their bickerings could be heard across the street, and soon she threw his clothes out the window, locked the perfect lover out and then, to make herself perfectly ridiculous, sued him for divorce, naming a co-respondent in nearly every state in the Union.
From that Mr. Tellegen should have taken the hint to marry outside the profession, but he didn’t. Two days after Miss Farrar obtained her final divorce decree Tellegen married Isabel Craven, who had been one of his leading ladies. The marriage lasted six years, when Miss Craven obtained a divorce on much the same grounds as Miss Farrar had. Tellegen consoled himself for her loss by promptly marrying another leading lady, Miss Eva Casanova.
Gloria Swanson, as an extra girl in Hollywood, married Wallace Beery, at that time a “screen villain.” Such spotlight as there was in the family was his. But presently Miss Swanson became a member of Mack Sennett’s bathing beauties and the ususal theatrical matrimonial scuffle began. Result: divorce.
Her next husband was Herbert Somborn, wealthy producer of motion pictures. But theatrical managers are usually as vain about hogging the lime light as any prima donna. Therefore, when Gloria signed her first big contract she also contracted for another divorce. No more actors or producers for Miss Swanson. At the height of her career she picked for her third experiment the Marquis James Henry la Baily de la Falaise de la Coudraye, who had more noble lineage than money.
Alas, she found that French noblemen are as much actors as any on stage or screen. They expect and usually get the center of the spotlight by right of inheritance. So there was competition in the household of the Marquis, but the marriage lasted five years at that. For a fourth husband Miss Swanson has chosen a young man who is neither theatrical or noble – just a rich playboy. Theoretically this marriage should last, because the star should have no difficulty in training him from the beginning to keep out of her spotlight, shine only by reflected glory and to look flattered when they call him “Mr. Gloria Swanson.”
Undiscouraged by his experience with Gloria, the noble Marquis promptly married Constance Bennett, another film star.
Rudolph Valentino, most famous of all screen lovers, had been reasonably happy although married to Jean Acker, a competent actress, who for a time showed as much promise as her husband did. Suddenly, from a non-entity, he became the world’s most celebrated sheik. There was no room, even in the fringe of his spotlight, for a wife, so she divorced him.
It is perhaps understandable how a wife would resent seeing a mere husband suddenly swell up to a sort of god. But Valentino’s next wife, Natacha Rambova, married the sheik after she knew he had become the most adored actor in the world. When a poor girl marries a millionaire, he can at once turn over to her half of all his fortune. Miss Rambova seems to have thought that the great and only Rudy would somehow divide his success and popularity with her about fifty-fifty. It could not be done, so there was bitterness almost from the first day. All she got out of it was wonder and congratulations that she had landed such a superior husband.
Willard Mack, another stage lover and matinee idol, was married and divorced by Maude Leone, Marjorie Rambeau and Pauline Frederick. His direction boosted all three into the limelight. Then came the usual trouble and divorce.
Robert Ames, who died a few months ago, had been in succession the husband of Alice Gerry, Frances Goodrich, Vivienne Segal and Murial Oakes. The three former ladies were all connected with the theater, but Miss Oakes had been a society leader. However, she could not get along with Mr. Ames any better than the theatrical wives. It is said that Mr. Ames’ untimely death prevented him from taking a fifth bride, Helen Lambert, a night club entertainer.
Of course, the greatest record of them all is held by the late Nat Goodwin. He accumulated and lost five beautiful wives and was about to marry for the sixth time. His wives in the order named were: Eliza Weathersby, Nellie Pease, Maxine Elliott, Edna Goodrich and Margaret Moreland. Miss Georgie Gardner, another stage star, was to have been Mrs. Goodwin number six.
How quickly the jealousy of stage people springs to the surface even on a honeymoon is revealed by the classic remark attributed to Miss Ina Claire, stage star, just after she had married the famous John Gilbert, $10,000 a week screen lover. A guileless girl reporter asked the bride how it felt to be married to a great star.
“Why don’t you ask Mr. Gilbert?” she replied, evidently much annoyed, it was reported. That marriage lasted less than two years.
Yet people of the stage as well as the films can marry happily once in a while. E. H. Sothern, famous Shakespearean actor and his equally famous wife, Julia Marlowe, have been happily married for more than twenty years, and up to within the last year or so were generally co-starred. Several years ago Miss Marlowe sustained an injury which forced her to retire from the stage.
But the marriage of these two distinguished stars was not the first for either. Mr. Sothern’s first wife was Virginia Harned, his leading lady, whom he married in 1896. The marriage was dissolved in 1910 and the next year Sothern married Miss Marlowe, with whom he had been appearing for seven years. Her first husband was Robert Tabor, who had been her leading man. This marriage was also dissolved.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
By Luella O. Parsons
Hollywood, April 16, 1932
The April report of 10 prominent social organizations previewing films in Hollywood covers a large territory. The films recommended for all the family to see are “The Doomed Battalion,” “The Miracle Man,” “Symphony of Six Million,” “Amateur Daddy,’ “Broken Wing,” “County Fair,” “Vanity Fair,” “Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood,” “Girl Crazy,” “Cain,” “Tarzan,” and “Young America.”
The young people who have passed the adolescent stage are advised to see “So Big,” “The Wet Parade,” “The Big Timer,” “The Devil’s Lottery,” “Lena Rivers,” and “Wayward.”
The grown-up are handed for their edification “Careless Lady,” “One Hour With You,” “Beauty and the Boss,” and “The Rich Are Always With Us.” The clubs handing out this advise consist of the Boy Scouts of America, General Federation of Women’s Clubs, International Federation of Catholic Alumnae, National Council of Jewish Women, United Church of Brotherhood of California, and others.
GRETA MAKES TRACKS
There has been a lot of speculation as to whether Greta Garbo’s love of solitude is a pose or if she really wants to be alone. Neil Hamilton says it can be no pose, for a week ago he and a friend were hiking miles from nowhere. They looked around and to their astonishment saw Garbo climbing the hill. They made a move to speak to her, but before they could get within speaking distance, like a frightened hare, she sped away and was next seen atop another mountain. How she got there so quickly Neil Hamilton says he will never know. He says he is familiar with that part of the country, for he often takes a frying pan, a side of bacon, into the wilderness and cooks his lunch or dinner. As near as he figures Greta must have run a good mile to get away from him.
AL WAS SUPERSTITIOUS
I noticed in the elevator at the Town House that the numbers of the floors start at 21 instead of 1. Number 2 is 22, number 3, 23, and so on. My curiosity overcame me and I asked the elevator boy why they didn’t start with the customary one. “We did it for Al Jolson, he is superstitious. He is living on the thirteenth floor. So we changed the numbers of the floors and the number recorder in the elevator,” the boy explained. Al Jolson may not be a hero to everyone, but he certainly is a hero to those elevator boys. It was they who thought out the plan and went to the manager to have it carried out. Al will be back from San Francisco next week to confer with Lewis Milestone on his next picture, “Happy Go Lucky.”
AN ENGLISH PREMIERE
England may make its own films until the end of time, but I doubt if any of their home-made stars will ever approach our American-made favorites in popularity. Marlene Dietrich’s picture “Shanghai Express,” brought out London society in full force. Notables in evening frocks escorted by gentlemen in full evening regalia, elbowed each other trying their best to get seats. Seems as if the premiere was not a reserved-seat affair and first come were first served. In other words, the social lights were not too proud to stand in line and wait to get into the theater.
ROLAND’S MIND WANDERED
The gold-plated medal mounted with rhinestones goes to Roland Young for absent-mindedness. Roland packed all his clothes that he was to need for his picture in London, and then believe it or not, he promptly forgot to send the trunk. He suddenly remembered on the train that he had forgotten to check his luggage with his wardrobe and that he absolutely must have his wardrobe in London. He wired frantically to have his trunk sent on air mail. It arrived in time to be put on the boat and Mr. Young’s absent-mindedness cost him just $190.
FOSTERS HOUSE HUNTING
The Norman Fosters are house-hunting. Claudette Colbert has come to California to live and so instead of an apartment, she and friend husband will find themselves a house with a garden and a swimming pool. There are lots of bargains in houses these days. Miss Colbert sold most of her furnishings in New York, but she kept her library intact and some valuable jade wall hangings. That reminds me, those who know her speak of her as being unusually intelligent and of being an inveterate reader.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
POLA NEGRI’S “MILLIONAIRE” BELIEVED CHICAGOAN OF 24
She Keeps Name Secret, But He Is Believed To Be P. M. Chancellor
Chicago, April 16 (UP)
The “young Chicago millionaire” to whom Pola Negri admits she is engaged, is believed to be Philip Mathiessen Chancellor, who recently inherited an estate of $6,000,000, the Chicago Daily News said today.
Although the film actress, twice married to European nobles, kept identity of her fiancé secret, she said he is wintering at Montecito, Calif. The only eligible and wealthy young Chicago bachelor with an estate home in that suburb, so far as memories of society folk extend, is young Chancellor.
When Chancellor, now 24, inherited the estate of his grandfather in 1929, he went to the Dutch East Indies and caught snakes. That exploit climaxed such earlier ones as trying to learn to be an $18 a week police reporter.
When 19, he eloped with Helen Bainer, 16. The marriage was annulled.
SCREEN ACTRESS WHO DISAPPEARED FOR FIVE DAYS, SUED FOR DIVORCE
Los Angeles, April 16 (AP)
A suit for divorce from Mrs. Gladys Frazin Banks, motion picture actress, who disappeared from her home last April 7th for five days and later was found suffering a nervous breakdown in a friend’s home, was filed to-day by Monty Banks, screen actor.
The suit, filed in the name of Mario Bianchi, Banks’ name in private life, charged that Mrs. Banks, known professionally as Gladys Frazin, humiliated and embarrassed Banks by “calling him on the telephone at his place of employment and quarreling with him over the telephone.”
He also charged that Mrs. Banks’ disappearance from her home last April 7th was not the first time she left him without notice.
They were married September, 1929 in New Jersey and separated last April 7th. There are no children.
JOAN TOO SMALL FOR SAM BROWNE, WILL BE COLONEL
Los Angeles, April 16 (UP)
Diminutive Joan Bennett, film actress, who couldn’t buy a regulation Sam Browne belt small enough to fit her, is to be made an honorary colonel of the 347th Field Artillery, United States Army.
Permission to pin the silver eagles on the actress’ shoulders was received to-day by Colonel Jean Allard Jeancon, who said the ceremony would be held at a Hollywood banquet, April 30th.
A tailor with an eye for making little women look soldierly in uniforms has been summoned by Miss Bennett, who recently married Gene Markey, scenario writer.
MARY ASTOR, HUBBY, PLAN SEA VOYAGE
Los Angeles, April 16 (INS)
Mary Astor, film star, and her husband, Dr. Franklyn Thorpe, Hollywood physician, today applied for passports at the federal court. Miss Astor said that she and her husband planned to sail in May on their yacht, “The Henrietta,” for Tahiti, and would return several weeks later via Hawaii. Recent reports said the stork was expected at the Thorpe home.
SCREEN ACTRESS AWARDED CONTRACT
Hollywood, Calif. April a6 (INS)
Rewarded for her stellar work in supporting roles of pictures featuring George Bancroft, Philips Holmes and other stars, Frances Dee, dainty brunette screen actress, today was given a new long-term film contract.
MOVIELAND CLAIMS NEW NORSE BEAUTY
Hollywood, April 16 (INS)
Another vivid Norse beauty was claimed by movieland today. She was Harriet Hagman, native of Finland, here under contract for a film career, following her successes in New York stage productions. Miss Hagman is a willowy blonde.
TRAPEZE CAREER EARLY AMBITION OF KAY FRANCIS
Actress Now, However, Wants to Prove “A Good Wife”
Staccato vignette of Kay Francis, seen in Warners’ “Man Wanted”:
Her earliest ambition was to be a trapeze artist, her latest to be “a good wife”; Her husband is director Kenneth McKenna.
Born in Oklahoma City, she became a New Yorker at age 4. Her early education was received in convents. Later she attended Miss Fuller’s School at Ossining and from there went to the Cathedral School in Garden City, L. I.
She was prominent in school athletics. She was an excellent tennis player and she “dashed” the 100-yard dash in 12 seconds flat. She began to have a leaning toward the theater. She wrote a play and played the leading masculine role.
Upon leaving college she entered a secretarial school and took a course in typewriting and shorthand. When she completed her course she went to Europe for eight months and traveled through Holland, France and England.
When she returned to America she was determined to go on the stage. By a lucky chance she secured the role of the Player Queen in the “modernized” version of “Hamlet,” which was a New York success. Then she spent a season with the Stuart Walker Stock Company, playing in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Dayton. Returning to New York she appeared on Broadway in “Venus,” “Crime,” and “Elmer the Great.”
Then the movies. She learned that a leading woman was being sought for Walter Huston in “Gentlemen of the Press.” She had played with Huston in “Elmer the Great.” There was a obstacle. The director wanted a blonde for the role, but Miss Francis’ tests were good. P. S. she got the job. Her work was so satisfactory that she was signed and sent to Hollywood.
She likes both the stage and the screen, but prefers the screen a little bit more. Her favorite stage role was in “Elmer the Great.” On the screen she prefers “Street of Chance.” She considers “The Marriage Playground” her worst picture. Outside of the drama she is most interested in literature. She says, “Because I know more about it.” Her favorite authors are Schnitzler and Ernest Hemingway, and she likes detective stories.
RADIO PLANNING NOVELTY FILMS
Hollywood, April 16 (Special Dispatch to the Herald)
Radio is going for novelty and adventure films in limited number. Merian C. Cooper, long with Paramount, will head this department with two pictures definitely assigned. These are “Eighth Wonderland” and “Most Dangerous Game.”
James K. McGuiness’ first writing assignment under abandonment of the supervisor system will be a script for Richard Dix with William Wellman directing. Willis Goldbeck, who supervised “The Roadhouse Murder,” drops supervision to return to writing,
His first will be a picture introducing Zita Johann, Broadway stage star, now under contract to Radio. Miss Johann’s last New York play was “Tomorrow and Tomorrow.”
PHOTOCOLOR ANNOUNCES SIX FILMS FOR SEASON
New York, April 16
New York will compete with California as a motion picture producing center despite the closing of the Paramount studio on Long Island. Photocolor corporation, whose studio and laboratory are located at Irvington-on-Hudson, announces a schedule of six pictures for the 1932-33 season, all of them to be done in color.
The plan is a departure from the usual activities of Photocolor corporation. Hitherto devoted exclusively to laboratory work – printing and developing the color pictures of other producers, such as Columbia and Paramount – Photocolor is entering the production field because of the feeling that thus far no producer has used “color” to the full extent of its real value.
“There are plenty of color pictures being made,” explained Frank E. Nemec, president of the company, “but in nearly all of them the beauty of the color is lost to the audience, smothered by an uninteresting story, or by a bad production, or both, which fact the producer tries to camouflage by dabbing it with color. The day is coming when someone will produce a really great story in natural color and create as great a transformation in the talking picture industry as the sound of the human voice did to the silent picture of four years ago.
“The one great fact that the big producers in their mad scramble for quantity are overlooking is the stride toward perfection that ‘color’ has made in the last couple of years. Just as they overlooked the value of sound until Vitaphone forced it on them four years ago.
“From the very inception of the silent picture Western Electric has been experimenting with sound. They are still perfecting their sound devices. The voice and sound of the pictures of four year ago would be considered an atrocity today. Equally so have we been experimenting with color. No longer are we confined to the use of two colors – no longer do we have to resort to tinting and over-coloring as we did two years ago.”
All production activities of Photocolor will be placed in the hands of Myron C. Fagan, the playwright. In addition to being the author of such plays as “The Little Spitfire,” “Jimmy’s Women,” “Nancy’s Private Affair” and some ten other long-run hits, Fagan has also had wide experience in the motion picture making field, having spent a year on the Pathe lot in Hollywood.
He hopes to have the first Photocolor picture in production by June 1. Three of the pictures will be original works, one to be taken in Alaska, another in Hawaii and the third in Mexico. The remaining three will be based on stage plays, the rights to which are now being negotiated.
BICKFORD MAKES HIS BOLSHEVISM PAY REAL MONEY
Actor Defines It As Standing Up for Rights in the Studios
Charles Bickford, “Bolshevik” of the films and featured in “Scandal for Sale,” is not “ex-Bolshevik,” Hollywood affirmative rumor notwithstanding.
“Bolshevism,” as practiced by the red-headed actor, is a paying proposition. Since the tall, truculent, uncompromising Bickford left the M-G-M contract fold to strike out on his own, he has made twice as much money.
“I’ve more than doubled my salary and my yearly income, I’ve played in pictures that have been great box office attractions and I think I’m twice as far along in my picture career as I was a year ago,” he says.
“East of Borneo” and “Pagan Lady” are two pictures particularly that are still cleaning up. Maybe they are not great artistic efforts, but they are good box office and they gave me the kind of roles I can and like to play.
Bickford left Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer some months ago after fighting for more than a year to be released from his contract. He had been, according to the gossip of the studio, the “bad boy” of the lot. He wouldn’t play in this picture and that. If he didn’t like a role, he not only said so, but refused to play it.
“If being a Bolshevik means standing up for your rights and refusing to compromise, then I’ve been one. And I have not changed a bit,” Bickford said.
“In New York, when a manager came to me with a play, I read it. If the role appeared to suit me, I played it. If it didn’t, I refused and waited for another one. I brought that very simple system with me to Hollywood. When a story was right, I said O. K. When it wasn’t, I refused it. And that, according to Hollywood, is red, red Bolshevism.”
MOTION PICTURE PORTRAITS DONE IN RAGS
An artisan at the Paramount studios has the faculty of representing the likenesses of screen players by arranging fragments of fabrics crazy-quilt-like. Tallulah Bankhead, at left, pieced out with various shades of blue, grey and black; George Bancroft, with rough woolen materials in tan, orange and brown, and Carole Lombard, cut entirely of woolen and linen.
Myrna Loy and Conway Tearle head the cast of Allied’s production of “Vanity Fair,” which Chester M. Franklin is directing from a script by J. Hugh Herbert. M. H. Hoffman is supervising the production. The cast includes Montagu Love, Herbert Bunston, Barbara Kent, Lionel Belmore, Mary Forbes and others.
Lupe Velez, who recently completed her work in the Spanish version of “Men In Her Life” has deserted the screen temporarily to appear in Ziegfeld’s new musical, “Hot Cha” in which she has an important role.
Shirley Grey, who plays opposite Buck Jones in “One Man Law,” is a born trouper. Miss Grey admits that while on the legitimate stage she enjoyed one night stands. Her “sticks” experience included two seasons on the road with George M. Cohan in “The Tavern.”
MAY ROBSON CAST
May Robson will play Joan Crawford’s mother in “Letty Lynton,” now in production at Culver City. Miss Robson has just completed a part in “Strange Interlude.”
BORROWED FOR LEAD
Melvyn Douglas has been borrowed from Samuel Goldwyn by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to play the leading male role opposite Garbo in her new starring picture, “As You Desire Me,” Lewis Stone and Erich von Stroheim are also members of the cast. Douglas has appeared in both stage and screen versions of “Tonight or Never,” and also played in “The Command to Love” and “Jealousy” on the stage.
SIGNS NEW CONTRACT
Polly Moran has been signed to a new long-term contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Miss Moran’s most recent role was in Buster Keaton’s film, “The Passionate Plumber.” Next she will play with Marie Dressler in “Prosperity.”
PAINTS OWN PORTRAIT
Lionel Barrymore took a leaf out of Rembrandt’s book when he did a painting of himself. He accomplished the feat by looking into a mirror and using himself as a model.
Richard Arlen, Jack Oakie and Regis Toomey, who formed such a combination in “Touchdown,” again will be seen together in the forthcoming production of the aviation story, “Sky Bride.” The picture will be directed by Stephen Roberts from a screen play by Waldemar Young and Agnes Brand Leahy.
Richard Arlen is a Virginia boy, raised in Minnesota. He was 18 when he slipped away from St. Thomas College in St. Paul, went to Minneapolis, took an examination in the Royal Flying Corps, was accepted and sent to Winnipeg. That was in March, 1917, a month before the United States entered the war. By December, Arlen had his bars and in October of 1918 he was in England. But the Armistice was signed before he got to the front.
“When I got back home,” he told me between scenes of the college picture on which he was working, “I really intended to finish my college course, but I was unable to adjust myself. I decided that I might as well be a millionaire as not and went to the oil fields at Breckenridge, Texas, with that in mind. For a time I drove a truck transporting casings from the railroad to the wells. Finally I decided to get into the production end of the business by buying a likely and cheap oil lease. That was easier said than done.
“Then someone told me that I might have more luck in the Southern California fields. I arrived in Los Angeles in 1920, found the fields in a bad way, thousands of men out of work and no prospect for a newcomer. So I answered an advertisement in a newspaper and became a motorcycle messenger boy for a film printing laboratory. Not long afterward, while delivering film to the Brunton studios, a studio car hit my motorcycle and my leg was broken.”
Arlen was in the hospital for six weeks, but the picture people interested themselves in his welfare. Nan Collins, casting director at the studio, was among those who called upon him while he was recovering and it was she who suggested that he become an actor, via the extra route. Arlen took her advice and when he was released from the hospital began haunting the casting offices. For two years he managed to eat, as an extra and a bit player.
“Those two years were useful, however,” he continued, for I built up many acquaintances and friendships in the studios. In 1922 the American Releasing corporation offered me the lead in a picture called “Vengeance of the Deep.” Then I went back to extra parts. But a short time later Paramount cast me for a good small role in “In the Name of Love” and I got a player’s contract as a result.”
Arlen was in the clouds by this time, but he was given a neat jolt a short time later when he was cast for the leading role in support of Bebe Daniels in “Volcano,” only to be jerked out of the line-up after eight days. He was, quite frankly, ready to quit once and for all. But by this time he had met Jobyna Ralston and she took his affairs in hand.
“If it hadn’t been for her I would have quit pictures,” Arlen said. “If anyone had given me sympathy, I’m sure I would. But she shamed me for even considering it. I felt so cheap that I determined to fight it out.”
At all events, Arlen got the girl and presently he had much to be thankful to her for. A series of increasingly better parts followed this one great set-back, and then, after many tests and days of suspense, he was given one of the two featured leads in “Wings.” When the picture was over, Arlen was regarded as star-stuff, and Jobyna Ralston was Mrs. Arlen.
Arlen is next to be occupied with Chester Morris on a Marines picture.
From Luella O. Parsons:
Option days in the film colony aren’t what they used to be. They slip by unnoticed, often to the sorrow of the company and sometimes to the star. Madge Evans’ contract is up at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and she has not yet signed. A little matter of money that will probably be adjusted, for she is one of the most promising young actresses, and certainly M-G-M has done right by her in the way of stories. I am told she is negotiating with one of the other big companies, but I have an idea before she puts her John Hancock on the other contract she and M-G-M will get together again. Certainly it would be too bad for her to leave and it would be equally unfortunate for the film company to lose her.
LAST MINUTE RIALTO NEWS –
Tala Birell may make “Glamour” for Universal rather than Emile Zola’s “Nana”…
Radio has definitely abandoned “Free Lady,” slated for Connie Bennett, deeming it too immoral…
Johnny Mack Brown will star in a talkie version of John Miles’ biography of Wild Bill Hickok…
Columbia is retitling Fannie Hurst’s “Park Avenue” as “Vanity Street”…
Wallace Clark, seen with William Gillette in “Sherlock Holmes,” will have a role in Columbia’s “Criminal Court”…
Tyrone Power, Jr. will have his first film role in “Tom Brown of Culver”…
Radio is testing Donald Wood, New York stock actor…
Universal will make “The Tie That Binds” as a serial…
Paramount executives have vetoed the importation of Henry Garat, French star, on the ground he might impair Chevalier’s popularity…
Selling discarded fan mail dug from studio ashcans is a new Hollywood racket; covers bring from 10 to 75 cents.
Rain, the play which made Jeanne Eagles immortal, is making what must be its thirteenth return visit to Broadway. Glenda Farrell of the movies is playing the part of Sadie Thompson.
It was first thought Helen Menken would be in the role, but she didn’t accept. Miss Menken owns the original Sadie Thompson costumes where were given to her by Miss Eagles just before her death.
BENNETT TO HEAD WEEK AT BIJOU
Constance Bennett the much discussed RKO Pathe star, has realized her earliest ambition although it is only for the screen. When she was not more than five years old she decided that some day she would be a nurse. The white uniforms, particularly the caps, intrigued her childhood fancy.
Within a few years she had outgrown that ambition, but it was to be realized nevertheless. In the early sequences of her new Pathe picture “Born to Love,” due at the Bijou theater Tuesday for a three-day engagement, the blonde star plays an American war nuse in a London hospital.
Supporting Miss Bennett in this story of what the war did to a boy and a girl and another man are Joel McCrea, Paul Cavanaugh, Anthony Bushell, Frederick Kerr and Louise Closser Hale. Paul L. Stein was the director.
FREAKS STARRED IN FEATURE AT STRAND
Strange forms in the dark, mystery and a plot of revenge are among the highlights of Tod Browning’s contribution to the screen, “Freaks,” which will open at the Strand Theater Sunday for three days.
“Freaks,” based on the story “Spurs,” is a mystery drama laid behind the scenes in a sideshow with strange freaks playing principal roles along with well-known actors.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gave it an elaborate presentation and gathered together a large group of sideshow freaks.
The cast, exclusive of the circus performers, includes Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates, Henry Victor and Edward Brophy.
The Hilton sisters, Daisy and Violet, Siamese twins, head the sideshow people in the cast, which includes Johnny Eck, the boy with half a torso; Randian, the living torso; The Snow Twins; Pete Robinson, the living skeleton; Olga, the bearded woman; and Koo Coo, the bird girl.
The other subjects on the program are Mickey Mouse in “Mickey’s Orphans,” a Christmas story; a sport reel, Athletic Page; Universal News and Andy Clyde in “Speed in the Gay ‘90s.”
ALIAS THE DOCTOR IS NEW OFFERING AT WARNER BROS.
Naturalness at all times is the quality Richard Barthelmess strives most for in his pictures. And he is said to have a singularly long memory for mistakes.
In his latest production, “Alias the Doctor,” which opens to-day at the Warner Bros. Theater in which he comes back to his Hungarian home after a stretch in prison taken in a spirit of sacrifice for another. The makeup department had spent several days trying to figure out the exact way to make him up for the pallor he would have had after such an internment.
But in a former picture, “Young Nowheres,” Dick had had to wear similar makeup, and he hadn’t liked the result at all. He was determined to avoid such a mistake this time if possible. But when he questioned the makeup artists they had nothing new to suggest.
At his own suggestion he had the cameraman for the picture take some tests of him without makeup of any kind, and they gave the exact result wanted.
So, if you want to see what a movie star looks like before a camera without any makeup, take a look at Richard Barthelmess in “Alias the Doctor.”
On the same program will be a comedy entitled “Sold at Auction”; a musical novelty, “Up on the Farm; Curiosity, Universal Newsreel and Roy Foster at the organ.
BUCK JONES IN WESTERN THRILLER
Leaping 10-foot chasms on horseback and bronco busting are just a couple of the things that Buck Jones excels in, as he proves in “The Fighting Sheriff,” his latest starring vehicle for Columbia.
The plot centers about Bob Terry, Sheriff of Red River, who tries to run down the mysterious master-mind of a hold-up gang. Bob doesn’t make much progress until Mary, sister of one of the bandits who has been killed, comes to town. Bob and Flash Halloway, proprietor of Hell’s Delight saloon, become rival suitors for Mary’s hand and, as such, frequently clash. During one of these clashes, Bob learns facts about Flash that arouse his suspicions. How, acting on this slim clue, Bob identifies Flash as the gang leader, brings him to justice and wins the girl he loves, gives impetus to the rest of the story.
As the Sheriff hero, Buck does some of the best acting of his career, and he is aided and abetted throughout by lovely Loretta Sayers, a newcomer to the screen, who has histrionic talent as well as beauty.
Supplementing the above feature with a carefully selected group of Empirettes consisting of a Mack Sennett comedy, entitled “Hold ‘er Sheriff,” and entertaining novelty sketch, “Mother’s Holiday,” and Fox Movietone News.
D. W. GRIFFITH FILM HERE MONDAY
Picture patrons will be able to see D. W. Griffith’s latest offering at the Empire theater, beginning Monday for three days, when “The Struggle,” a United Artists picture, is presented in this city for the first time. This is the first picture which the celebrated director has made since his recent “Abraham Lincoln,” which latter film was declared one of the best 10 of the past season. “The Struggle” has created comment wherever it has been shown on account of its realistic scenes and dramatic power.
Anita Loos and John Emerson prepared the story for the screen. Hal Skelly, who rose to stellar heights with his magnificent performance in the stage play, “Burlesque,” and Zita Johann, another star of the speaking stage, who is now seen for the first time on the screen, share the honors in featured roles. Charlotte Wynters, Edna Hagan, an 8-year-old actress whose performance is said to be sensational, and Jackson Halliday and Evelyn Baldwin, who portray a pair of young lovers, carry the burden of the other leading roles.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
By Luella O. Parsons
Hollywood, April 16, 1932
Only the news that King George had decided to hand over his throne to the handsome Prince Edward or that President Hoover had abdicated in favor of a Democrat could be as surprising as Greta Garbo’s determination to return to Sweden. At the height of her career, with the world at her feet and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ready to buy her the sun, moon and stars, Greta chucks it all. She has so often threatened her bosses with the simple sentence, “I go home,” when she has been annoyed, that at first no one paid any attention to her.
This time she isn’t annoyed. She is just tired of it all. She has saved her money while others were buying expensive clothes and giving Hollywood parties. She has enough money to live comfortably in her beloved Sweden and if the urge comes to return to the screen or stage, she can get herself a job in her own country.
ZENITH OF CAREER
Miss Garbo retired at a time when she is one of the greatest drawing cards in America. She is at the very zenith of her career. To the hundreds who have tried so hard to get a foothold it is almost beyond human understanding how she can toss it all overboard.
Yet Garbo has never enjoyed being a motion picture star. She has shunned the publicity, avoided the crowds and become the most noted recluse in all of pictureland.
More than anything else in the world, she wants a quiet place to live, a few friends and her chance to take walks without being pointed out by strangers and made to feel she is on exhibition.
Who will take her place? Where is there an actress who can occupy the throne she is so ruthlessly discarding? The next favorite will not be another Garbo. She will be a different type.
We have never had a successor to Rudolph Valentino. No actor ever took the place of Wallace Reid after he passed on. The public will not accept substitutes. But they will create new favorites with entirely different personalities.
Clark Gable comes the nearest to equaling the popularity of Rudolph Valentino but he and Rudy are not alike in any way. Writers tried in vain to point out resemblances but none exists. Rudy was the Latin type, a lover of beautiful art and rare editions. He was as impulsive as a child and as loveable. Clark Gable is less esthetic in his tastes. He has much more restraint and he is far more of a man’s man than Rudy.
Death has robbed the screen of several favorites when they were at their high tide of their popularity but Garbo is one of the few who has retired of her own volition. Marguerite Clark said au revoir to the screen after she married but she had a long and successful career both on the stage and screen. She was beginning to get tired of a career that had lasted so many years and marriage offered her a graceful exit.
Mary Anderson left the stage to marry the man she loved. She never returned although there were many stage producers who knocked at her door with amazing offers of stage plays. Although Miss Anderson’s retirement happened many years ago, she has always been quoted as the one actress who couldn’t be lured back to the footlights. Her successful marriage has become traditional.
THE FARRAR FAREWELL
Geraldine Farrar left the Metropolitan Opera stage at the height of her success. She did not retire because her voice had failed her or because she was broken down and old. I was at her farewell performance and she never sang better nor have I ever seen any star receive such an ovation. Society debutantes feted her with flowers, dowagers with all their jewels and ermine shouted “Bravo.” Oh, it was a grand and glorious farewell.
Maybe Greta Garbo wants her swan song to be sung with sweet music, not with harsh notes and bitter regrets. If she leave now the picture-going public will always remember her as the glamorous Garbo, mysterious and wonderful, and there will be no successor.