Tuesday, March 31, 2009



Lew Ayres and Mae Clarke are co-starred at the RKO-Majestic theater this week in a screen dramatization of Donald Henderson Clarke’s sensationally risqué novel, “Impatient Virgin,” which has been produced under the title of “Impatient Maiden.”

The story concerns a young doctor serving his internship who, against his wishes, falls in love with the secretary to a prominent divorce lawyer. The two quarrel when the doctor insists he cannot marry on his intern’s salary. The girl, whose heart has hungered for luxuries as well as for love, accepts invitations from her employer to dinner and the theater, and finally accepts the use of a vacant apartment he owned. On seeing the lavishly furnished apartment, the young doctor and his sweetheart have a quarrel resulting in a severe break in their friendship.

The lawyer finally tires of being confined to just “friendship” with his charming secretary and proposes that she accompany him to Europe. On refusing, the girl is politely dismissed by her employer-landlord.

Several months later while still searching for work, the girl is stricken with an attack of appendicitis, which leads to the altogether pleasing climax.

Supporting Ayres and Miss Clarke are Una Merkel, John Halliday and Andy Devine.


The Bohemian life of the Paris art colony is frankly and truly pictured in Constance Bennett’s new film for RKO Pathe, “The Common Law,” coming Wednesday to the Granada theater.

Many of the scenes are played in a typical Paris studio. Some of the most unusual are those depicting the Four Arts Ball in full swing. Five hundred players take part in the ball sequence, 94 of whom are beautiful girls costumed in daring outfits patterned after those worn by models at the Paris festival.

Henry Clive, internationally known painter, who has studied in Paris, acted as technical director for the art colony sequences.

Joel McCrea, the hero of Miss Bennett’s recent picture, “Born to Love,” plays the American artist in “The Common Law.” Other featured roles are played by Lew Cody, Robert Williams, Hedda Hopper, Marion Shilling and Paul Ellis.


List among the lucky the 60 men and women extras who were used by RKO Pathe in “Bad Company,” Helen Twelvetrees’ next starring production which is now being shown at the Plaza theater.

They had a vacation de luxe – and were paid for it.

On location at Santa Catalina island, one of the most popular resorts of southern California, the players spent the shooting hours swimming, aquaplaning, speed-boating and playing, in fact, everything a person would do if trying to get away fromt the cares of business. After the day’s work was over they were free to do as they pleased – to fish, hunt or just sit.

The luck was theirs because of the script of “Bad Company,” which called for several yachting sequences.

Among the featured players of the production were John Garrick, Ricardo Cortez, Kenneth Thomson, Harry Carey, Frank Conroy, Emma Dunn and others.


The flair for vivacity and emotional spirit which Nancy Carroll first portrayed for the delectation of film fans of the nation in “Abies Irish Rose” is again one of the foremost qualities of her performance in Wayward, the Paramount picture which comes to the Rialto this Tuesday.

The fire and flash of “The Dance of Life” – the romantic fervor of “Stolen Heaven” and “Devil’s Holiday” are all brought into a symphonic unison of stirring dramatics for her characterization of the lovely and well loved wife of Richard Arlen in this latest picture, co-starring Pauline Frederick.


Motion picture audiences bored with society dramas will get a chance to see a picture with plenty of action, suspense and excitement in Tiffany Productions’ “Hotel Continental” coming to Empire theater Thursday without having their nerves frazzled with the rat-a-tat-tat of machine guns.

A cross-section of life within a cosmopolitan hotel, with tragedy rubbing elbows with comedy is seen in this drama. The story is concerned with the events that take place on the last night of a famous hotel – a hotel intimately connected with the life of a great city. Hundreds of persons crowd its doors before the auctioneers take possession on the morrow, and numerous parties bid it adieu. A sinister plot with a buried treasure as its theme involves a group of characters in a novel story that is replete with action.


Sunday brings a new picture to the Palace theater in the guise of an adventurous romance entitled “The Broken Wing.” As the title implies, the plot deals with an aviator’s misfortune when he crashes near the border and is taken into the home of natives.

He falls in love with a beautiful senorita while her betrothed complicates matters and the American’s long-lost wife appears to claim alimony. The actors who work out this situation are Lupe Velez, Melvyn Douglas, Leo Carrillo, and George Barbier.


Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey head the imposing cast of the hilarious new RKO Radio musical comedy “Girl Crazy,” which will be the feature attraction at the RKO Majestic theater starting Thursday.

Wheeler and Woolsey start the film story as city slickers and wind up as rough and ready westerners. Eddie Quillan carries the romantic lead, playing a girl crazy youth who transforms a respectable cattle ranch into a whoopee dude resort.

Mitzi Green, the child mimic, plays a pestiferous little sister and the romance and beauty brigade is headed by Dorothy Lee, Arline Judge, Kitty Kelly, and Lita Chevret. Stanley Fields and Chris Pan Martin play the shoot and run villains.


Glorifying the motorcycle department of the police system, “Disorderly Conduct,” a comedy drama that was formerly a stage success comes to the Aztec theater soon.

The picture features a cast composed of Spencer Tracy, Sally Eilers, Ralph Bellamy and El Brendel.

An honest cop turns dishonest when he finds that a bootleg ring rules the force. He makes the mistake of arresting the bootleggers beautiful daughter. She secures his demotion and it is not until love steps in that she makes reparations for her revenge.

A riot and police raid are highlights of the picture, showing graphic scenes of the inside workings of the crooked political racket of a big city.

Monday, March 30, 2009


By Hubbard Keavy
Hollywood - March 20, 1932

Crime, from Hollywood’s standpoint, pays so well that the screen is bound to have it in one form or another. So the gangster story is coming again, but in an altered form.

The new formula, in effect, shows the policeman as the hero, the gangster as the heavy, with the law triumphant at the end.

It all began when Will Hays, the movie czar, following attacks in the press and the pulpit against the flood (19 out of 550 in 13 months, so the records show) of pictures that glorified the gangster, sent three stories back to the studios ordering the removal of the gangster angle. The day of the gangster picture, as such, is over.

The first one of the new type to reach the screen is “Beast of the City.” In it, Walter Huston is cast as an unpurchasable policeman who means to clean up his city of crime even if he has to give his life in the attempt.

Suddenly swept into office as chief of police, he has an opportunity to put his programs into effect.


Another picture treating police similarly is “Disorderly Conduct,” soon to be released.
It tells of the failure of the underworld to triumph over the honest police captain, played by Ralph Bellamy (doing his best job to date) and the eventual reformation of a patrolman (Spencer Tracy) who, because of a peeve, became dishonest.

A third soon to be made is “Radio Patrol” and is based on the same theory. With two such pictures already out and a third on the way, a cycle is almost inevitable. Hollywood may make America police-hero conscious.


Because they like action, crime stories always have been popular with the masses, who, according to a psychologist, get all the vicarious thrills they need out of seeing hard shooting and hard riding on the screen.

The first success the movies ever had was a crime story, a few hundred feet called “The Great Train Robbery.” It dealt with bandits and heroes and plenty of shooting.

“Westerns” were for many years the best and surest money-makers because a crime is essential to their plot.

America liked the gangster series, which merely took the old Western thrillers out of the saddle and put them in armored cars with machine gun protection.


Harold Lockwood, Jr., son of the star who died many years ago, can’t seem to get out of the extra class.

Francis Ford, in the spotlight 15 years ago when he was a screen idol, is retired, living in a suburb near here. He also conducts a course in drama at the University of Southern California.

Weldon Heyburn bought a yacht the other day and immediately christened it “Grelita” which is Spanish for Greta. Still, in the face of this and other evidence, namely, that he is Greta Nisson’s only escort, he insists there is no romance between him and Greta.

A director, advised that one of his players was in error by wearing a wrist watch while in evening dress, replied, “Everybody does it. Even I.”

There’s an effective shot in “Alias the Doctor” which, if you’ve ever had an operation, will bring memories of that first unpleasant whiff of ether. It is the scene in the operating room. The camera takes the patient’s place, so you see the ether cone coming toward you, moving slowly into an appropriate fadeout.

Those who have read “Washington Merry-Go-Round” must have wondered how it will be put on the screen. It, I am reliably informed, will be filmed as a satire on politics and little but the title will remain when it is finished.


To amuse herself during her spare time, Ginger Rogers decided she would try to write a song. She even laughed at herself when she sat down at her piano, and of course she was somewhat surprised when a snappy little piece finally took form on paper.

Ginger was so encouraged that she wrote more songs – words and music – the total reaching nine a few weeks ago.

One of them she showed to a friend, who sent it to a publisher. Maybe you’ve heard it already. “It Used to Be You” is the title. Ginger says Rudy Vallee sang it one night.

If it clicks, says Ginger, she may try to sell some of the others. And in the meantime she’s writing more songs. That is, when she isn’t making needle point chair covers – her latest hobby.

Ginger’s mother thinks Ginger should have a new name and suggests Diane. Diane Rogers would be pretty. It’s a name that has been in the family a long time.
Ginger’s real name is Virginia. “Ginny” was the best she could do when she was a youngster, so she became Ginger when she grew up.


Three or four stories about Hollywood are being considered. One will bear the defensive title, “The Truth About Hollwood.”

Both “Queer People” and “Once in a Lifetime,” the smartest satires ever written about the town, are on no production schedules now and probably never will be. Both ridiculed too much.


Four or five years ago John Gilbert wrote a motion picture story, with the main character a scoundrel, a real 24-karat blackguard. He then could imagine no one in the role but Erich von Stroheim, ace portrayer of such rascals. But the last few years have brought a change in the movie goers’ opinions concerning principals who perform cinematic deeds justifying death or imprisonment in the last reel. So Gilbert himself will play the role.

The story, called “Downstairs,” takes place almost wholly on a huge estate in Germany. Gilbert is a chauffer whose villainy undermines the happiness and peacefulness of the entire household, “upstairs” and “downstairs.”

In a way, Gilbert explained, it is a psychological study, a cross-section view of two strata of life. Although the background is of wealth and society, the story centers around the menials on the estate.

Gilbert seemed as enthusiastic about the story as his co-workers at the studios said he was.

“I’ve had the story in mind for a long time,” he said. “When I couldn’t sell it, or even give it, to anyone for von Stroheim, I thought of myself for the part.

“Two or three years ago the studio officials turned it down because they role wasn’t sympathetic. Now I have permission to play the part and I am happier than I have been in years.

“The part I play,” he continued, “is that of a swaggering Don Juan who makes up for what he lacks in conscience with audacity. He is an outright villain but, nevertheless, is a fascinating chap. He will be hated for his villainy but he’s bound to be interesting.”

Gilbert is no novice at writing. In the old days before he began acting seriously, he wrote half a dozen adaptations including “The Last of the Mohicans,” and he wrote and directed “The Better Way” which starred Hope Hampton.

Gilbert has been treading on egg shells since his first talkie, “His Glorious Night” was so full of sappy dialog that he just couldn’t be good in it.

Although “Redemption” was made first, it was released as his second talking effort. If anything, it was worse.

These cost him many, many followers. Others since have been improvements, but the stigma of those first two has remained.

“Downstairs” and one other film remain to be made under his present contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


Spencer Charters will be heard but not seen in George Arliss’ “A Successful Calamity.” His will be the voice of the president complimenting Arliss for some deed.

Charters was hired because his voice sounds like a President’s – however that is.

New additions to the “second generation” list are Phil Ford, son of the former star, Francis Ford; Wallace Reid, Jr., son of the late star, and Allan Hersholt, son of Jean.

All are playing small parts now.


The staff of a certain hospital in Hollywood considers Erich von Stroheim’s visits rather gala affairs.

And no wonder, for “Von” buys flowers and candy for the nurses, cigars for the doctors and interns, and midnight lunches for all who aren’t busy at that hour.

The actor-director holds court in his room. He is not only king but jester as well, telling stories by the hour and getting others in exchange.

Von Stroheim just left this hospital recently, having been there for a minor operation.


Charles Resiner, director, still is collecting royalties on a song he wrote 15 years ago when he was a vaudeville performer.

It is “Goodbye Broadway, Hello France.” He has received a royalty check every month for years, ranging from large ones when the number was popular to small ones today, usually the result of the music being used in some picture score. His last check was for $13.50.


Eight short features varying from animated cartoons to sophisticated comedy will be released by Columbia Pictures. The various single reel series include: “The Grocery Boy,” a Mickey Mouse cartoon featuring Mickey, Minnie, and his assistant Pluto;

Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony, “The Bird Store”; Eddie Buzzell’s “Bedtime Story for Grown-Ups,” “The Gall of the North,” which presents a humorous slant on the Northwest Mounties; Charlie Mintz’ “Scrappy in Railroad Wretch,”

and “Krazy Kat” in “What a Knight.” A new edition of Screen Snapshots, the fan magazine of the screen. A travelaugh “Laughing with Medbury in Abyssinia,” and Futter’s “Curiosities” C-231.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Whether it is mere coincidence or whether engagements in the films attracted them to Hollywood, the film city has cradled many of the country’s most daring and widely known aviators.

Art Goebel, first flyer to span the Pacific from California to Hawaii, did all of his early flying in Hollywood. He was a member of a famous band of stunt flyers known as the “Black Cats,” a barn-storming troupe of 13, who played the country fairs and carnivals up and down the Pacific Coast in the early 1920s.

Goebel did a lot of thrill flying for the films, as did Frank Clarke, another of the Black Cats who has made a big name for himself as a stunt pilot.

Clarke is still flying for motion pictures and is currently engaged with Capt. E. H. Robinson of the United States Air Corps Reserve, in the filming of Paramount’s new adventure picture, “Sky Bride,” which features Richard Arlen and Jack Oakie.

Also assisting Robinson with the air scenes for “Sky Bride” are six other daring screen pilots – Ira Reed, Earl Gordon, Roy Wilson, Clint Herberger, Jack Rand and C. C. Le Boutilliere, the latter having been a member of squadron that shot down Germany’s “Red Ace,” Baron von Richtofen.

Dick Grace is among the better known of the film pilots. Frank Dimick and Dick Renaldi, former Black Cats, still make their residence in Hollywood and are pilots with commercial air lines. Frank Hawks, most famous of the transcontinental flyers and holder of numerous records, was a former film pilot.

Today in Hollywood, there are only 16 authorized film pilots, all members of the Association of Motion Picture Pilots. Requirements for entrance into this organization are extremely rigid, and a pilot must demonstrate marked ability before he will be considered for membership.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


By Luella O. Parsons, Motion Picture Editor, Universal Service
Hollywood, March 19, 1932

Just entre nous, these foreign versions haven’t proved as much of a panic in Europe as the film producers had a right to hope. Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, France, et cetera, used to the personality of a Douglas Fairbanks, a Harold Lloyd, a Norma Shearer, a Janet Gaynor, a Marion Davies, a Charles Farrell, or a Gloria Swanson put up a howl that circled the globe when substitutes were offered.

Lured into a theater to see an American screen play, these foreign folk expected to see one of their favorites. Lo and behold, strange actresses held sway. No longer did a Joan Crawford bid for interest in a dramatic play but some stranger without Miss Crawford’s looks and figure.

Business fell off to such an alarming extent that certain of the film companies started making linguists of their most popular players over night. “How is it possible?” you ask. The technical expression is “dubbing in.” It means when Germany has a yen to see Norma Shearer, some German actress speaks the German words for her. Her personality remains, outwardly at least, intact, but the voice is different.


Shopping for a voice is a new one, but when any actress is about to appear in a foreign version a substitute is sought who has the same voice quality.

By way of example, when Wallace Beery speaks French in “The Champ” or any of his successes, the voice obtained to parlez vous Francais is as nearly like his own as it is possible to find.

I won’t attempt to describe to you the technical process. It’s too involved, but to the studios it’s easy. There is no black magic connected with giving foreign speaking voices to English speaking persons. It’s all very simple.

The foreign substitute who is called in to talk for the American star must familiarize herself with the screen story first. Then she must study the particular star for whom she is substituting. She looks at the picture carefully four or five times. Then she studies individual scenes. She gets the mouth expressions of the star and fits her own dialogue to match the spoken English words.


Not only must the vowels match but there must be perfect timing. Sometimes the foreign words are changed to meet this exigency. The actual meaning of the dialogue when this is done must not be changed.

I met Greta Meyers just after she had talked German for Marie Dressler in “Emma.” Miss Meyers is a fine actress herself. She played the maid in Gloria Swanson’s picture, “Tonight or Never,” and she has made a success in character parts on the stage. She told me voice substituting is the most tiring work in the world.

“I sat for hours watching Miss Dressler,” she said. “I had to be careful not to let monotony creep into my voice. I had to feel the same emotion that she did so that no inflection in my voice would betray that it was not Miss Dressler speaking.

It’s a job that few actresses would enjoy.

Paramount is one of the few large companies that does not exploit its American stars abroad. An entirely new cast is used in each of its foreign pictures. This is possible for Paramount because they have a studio in Paris, one in England, and one in Germany. When a picture is made they employ foreign talent.

A complete plan of the American-made film is sent abroad, photographs of the sets and detailed scripts as well as instructions that are not difficult to follow. In most cases the foreign version is not as expensive as the American film.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


By Wood Soanes
March 20, 1932

Hollywood is a magnet for so many different types and possesses so much that is counterfeit that a ramble around the by-paths is always interesting and sometimes informative.

The bus-boy who tips a dash of soup down your neck may be a crown prince in disguise, and the crown prince you meet at a swagger tea might be his hostess’ ex-scavenger. And the publicity agents do very little to help clarify the situation.

It wasn’t, for example, until I happened along the alley which housed the cutting rooms at the Fox studio and chanced upon a stocky Chinese who was regaling a group of actors with a hilarious story that I discovered the identity of James Howe.

Those of you who stop to think about the beauty of the photography in certain pictures and who admire the unusual angles that are often times introduced to enhance the action of the screen play may have noticed that credit was given to James Howe.

Well, James Wong Howe, nee Wong Tum Jim, is a little 110-pound Chinaman, a native of Pasco, Washington, thirty odd years old, and recognized as one of the artistic leaders of the cameramen in Hollywood. Carrying responsibilities second only to those of the director, he has supervised the photography of some of the outstanding motion pictures.

He received schooling in America as well as China – his father sent him to the mother country to study – and he returned to become a professional boxer on the Pacific coast. A friend in Los Angeles introduced him to photography and Howe, through persistency and an uncompromising eye for beauty, attached himself to the picture industry.

Now he draws top salary among camera men and is looked upon as The Authority at the Fox studio. Howe has been represented on local screens in recent months by “The Spider,” Transatlantic,” “The Yellow Ticket” and “Surrender” – to name a few.

The same afternoon that I crossed paths with Howe, I ran across a couple of interesting stories at Universal Studios in the careers and backgrounds of Tala Birell and Boris Karloff. These two names sound Continental, it is true, but while the first belongs to a tall blonde from Bucharest, the second belongs to a six-footer from London. Miss Birell is an imporation well enough, but Karloff, despite the aura of mystery that surrounds him, is a local product.

Tala Birell, for all her musical comedy name, is a blue blood. Her mother before marriage was the Baroness Stephanie Sahaydakowska of Poland, and her father, Carol Bierl, was born in Vienna but made his money in oil in Roumania, where Miss Birell was born on September 10, 1908. She studied voice with Nietta Schubert in Vienna before embarking on the stage in a Berlin production of “Mme. Pompadour.”

It was there that Reinhardt, the German producer, saw her and signed her for a role in “Es Liegt in der Luft.” Marlene Dietrich was the principal player in the piece and Miss Birell was her understudy during a long season in Berlin, taking the chief role when the company started on an extensive European tour. Her success was instantaneous and she was given a contract by the British International Film company.

She went to England to star in “Cape Forlorn” under Dupont, director of “Variety,” and was sent to America for a part in Universal’s “Liche auf Befehl,” the German version of “Boudoir Diplomat.” When the picture was completed she was signed to a term contract which was to take effect after her European contract ended. So we will probably see much of her.

As for Karloff, I think his air of mystery was born out of depression, for until “Frankenstein” and a contract at Universal he had been dubbing around for years. He was born William Henry Pratt, son of James Pratt of the British Indian Service.

Arrangements had been made for him to serve in the Chinese consulate at Hong Kong when he decided that the work bored him to tears. So he collected a little money, appropriated his maternal grandfather’s name, and landed in Halifax at twenty-two. His first job was as a farm hand on an Ontario farm.

Toward the end of that year, 1909, Karloff’s father died in England and the adventurer returned home to collect his share of the estate. He returned to Canada, proceeded to Banf and almost before he knew it was in Vancouver with $5. Two days later he was a pick-and-shovel laborer. That was followed by odd jobs and a stroke of luck.

The luck was represented by a chance meeting in the Vancouver Hotel with his brother, John Pratt, en route from China to London. Brother John staked him to a small sum. With this in his pocket and a new suit, Karloff read an advertisement for an “experienced character actor” in a rural stock company and forthwith became a thespian.

This first theater job took him to Kamloops, B. C. at $30 a week, same being promptly reduced to $25 when Karloff made his first appearance. But until the Brandon players stranded at Regina, two years later, he was a working actor. Two days later he was a working pick and shovel man, for a cyclone struck Regina after the troupe stranded and someone had to clear away the debris.

But when the dust settled, Karloff was in a new job. “It was one of those things that are happening more often in story books than in life,” Karloff recalled. I took a job with the Dominion Express company to tide me over. One day at the station a passenger threw a magazine out the window as the train pulled out. It happened to be a theatrical journal and I took it home and read the news. In it I found an ad offering work in Prince Albert.

“I got the job and for two years worked with the Harry St. Clair Players. At the end of the engagement I had $800 simply because St. Clair held back a certain amount each week and paid it all at the conclusion of the season. With that nest egg I went to Chicago determined to have a chance at the big time. I arrived there on October 13, 1914, and found that no one was the least bit interested in my experience.
“The British army had rejected me because of a heart murmur, my money was disappearing rapidly and I decided that I had better get back to the sticks where I was appreciated. I worked in the “rep” companies in Bermidji, Minnesota, Minot, North Dakota and Atchison, Kansas. And I worked. I remember that I played 106 different shows in fifty-three weeks at Minot.”

In 1916, Karloff made another attempt to get started in Chicago and finally chalked up another failure. But he did get a job with Billie Bennett’s touring show, “The Virginian,” in which Belle Bennett was working. This brought him by easy stages through Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, and Nevada, into Los Angeles in December 1917.

The troupe disbanded on its arrival, but in those days Los Angeles didn’t boast snow in winter, and Karloff basked in the sunshine and got a job with a stock company at San Pedro. Six weeks later he joined another ham troupe and played as far north as the bay district. Then he worked with the Maude Amber players at Vallejo, and the Robert Lawrence company at the Aerodrome. When the influenza epidemic began to close the theaters, Karloff got work at the Sperry Flour Mill at Vallejo, piling sacks of flour and loading cars.

“After two months of this,” Karloff said, “I joined the Alfred Aldrich vaudeville act in San Jose. The engagement was brief and Aldrich was unable to get booking in Los Angeles. But he sent for me to join him there and provided board and room until I landed a job as an extra at Universal in a mob scene being directed by Frank Borzage. But other extra jobs didn’t follow, so I went back to San Francisco and a stock job.

I was at the Majestic with the Lawrence troupe for three months, did some parts over at the Fulton and finally got back to Los Angeles, where I got a bit in Douglas Fairbanks’ ‘His Majesty, the American.’ A lot of small parts, several with Blanche Sweet, followed and then in 1923 another slump and no work. I got a job as a truck driver, learning how to drive an automobile on Sunday and starting to work on Monday.

“The foreman used to let me have an occasional day off to rest up and hunt movie jobs. one of these was in ‘Never the Twain Shall Meet’ with Bert Lytell, but we were sent to San Francisco on location for ten days, and I lost the job.

“It was up to me to find movie work and I got it at F.B.O. finally getting featured billing with Evelyn Brent in ‘Forbidden Cargo.’ Then a stage engagement opened up in ‘The Idiot’ and I did the coast tours of ‘Hotel Imperial’ and worked in Los Angeles in ‘Window Panes’ and Kongo.’ Things began to go a little easier then and when I got a job in the stage version of ‘The Criminal Code’ on the Coast, I was virtually out of the woods.”

I have seen Karloff on almost all of the Hollywood studios in recent years. He had roles of one sort or another in “The Criminal Code,” “Cracked Nuts” with Wheeler and Woolsey, “Public Defender” with Richard Dix; “I Like Your Nerve” with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.; “Smart Money” with Edward G. Robinson, and, most notably, “Five Star Final” with Robinson, in which he played a fake clergyman.

But Universal plans now to keep him busy. He is scheduled for “Night Club,” H. G. Wells’ “The Invisible Man” and J. B. Priestley’s “The Old Dark House” in rapid succession; and “Frankenstein” is playing in all of the hamlets where Karloff once roared and stomped as Jack Dalton in the thrillers of the tent shows.

Friday, March 20, 2009


by Luella O. Parsons
Hollywood, March 20, 1932

George Eastman’s death recalls the opening of his motion picture theater in Rochester. I had the pleasure of being personally conducted through this house which, at that time, was the finest theater in America. A private train brought us to the town he had made famous and the opening was an event I shall never forget. An art gallery containing valuable and fine paintings and a concert room built to encourage good music, stand out in my memory. Mr. Eastman was always doing generous things for the people of his town and this theater was built so that those who love beautiful things might see them. I commented on a beautiful painting that was hung in a bad light and he never rested until we tried it in a dozen places. At that time he gave me an interview although he was shy of the press and hated publicity.


The pitiful story of Mary Nolan should melt the heart of any judge. Mary Nolan never had the chance given other girls. Her mother died when she was 3 years old and her father when she was 9. She was put in an orphanage and raised with 800 other poor, homeless children. When this girl, as Imogene Wilson, went out into the world at 16 with a face so beautiful that men were attracted, she didn’t have a chance. There was no one to tell her anything about the world, and when at 18 she fell in love with Frank Tinney and their romance became sensational front page copy, the name Imogene Wilson was notorious. As Mary Nolan she tried to stage a comeback. She is still trying but if she goes to jail she will be through. As long as the money is paid the jail sentence could be suspended without any loss to anyone. I’d like to see the girl get another chance, and I believe the people who give her another chance will be happier for doing so.


An advance copy of “House for Sale” is on my desk. Elissa Landi, the author, is reported to be the granddaughter of Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Miss Landi herself has never stated whether or not this story is true, but she is generally supposed to be the direct descendent of Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Leopold of Bavaria. Family hasn’t mattered to Miss Landi, who is headed for success in the movies, and who is an author of no mean ability. The first few chapters of “House for Sale” are unusually interesting, and glancing through the rest of the book I know I am going to read it all.


The word “Son” on a watch worn by Creighton Chaney is interesting his friends. He explains that it is part of a collection of jewelry that his mother gave him after the death of his famous father, Lon Chaney. “The watch,” said young Mr. Chaney, “had the single word Lon outlined in diamonds. My mother substituted an “S” for the “L” so the word became son. I like the studs very much, also the cuff links which were my father’s, but the watch is my favorite piece of jewelry.”


Headlines flashed the news last week that Greta Garbo had lost every nickel in the Ivar Kreuger debacle. Greta, who was as uncommunicative about this story as she is about all others, kept her well-known silence. Her manager, Harry Edington, however, talked for her. “Miss Garbo,” he said, “didn’t have a penny invested with Ivar Kreugar. Her money is all in good old American government and municipal bonds, with a Swedish investment to show her loyalty to her own country.” Greta has the reputation for living frugally and saving against the W.K. rainy day, so a loss of money would have been a real blow to her.


One of the letters of congratulation that pleased David and Irene Mayer Selznick the most was sent by Josephine Lovett Robertson. The Selznicks are expecting a little one in August and Mrs. Robertson wrote and said that she realized now that the movies are growing up because this would be the third generation in the movies. There are the two grandfathers, Louis B. Mayer and Louis J. Selznick, there is David, the father, and now, if there is a son, there won’t be anything much to do but follow in the footsteps of his grandfathers and his distinguished Papa. When Junior Laemmle was growing up and the young son of Jesse Lasky was still a boy we talked with great pride about two generations. Now with three we are indeed growing old.