Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Screen Life In Hollywood

By Hubbard Keavy
Hollywood, March 27

A unique and deep-seated comradeship between Roscoe Ates and the stepdaughter he is legally adopting has sprung up between the two in the last 12 years.

She is Dorothy Marcella Adrian, and was six years old when Ates married her mother, a vaudeville performer.

During those 12 years the family never was separated for a day. They toured in vaudeville together, in good weather and bad, in good times and hard times.
The other day, after Ates had formally asked a Los Angeles Court to sanction the adoption, he said he always has introduced Dorothy as his daughter and that he regarded her as his own.

Mrs. Ates had wanted a more tangible relationship than the one which had existed and for many years suggested the adoption proceedings. But Roscoe believed Dorothy ought to have a say in the matter, when she became of legal age. When she was 18, the action was begun.

Dorothy, who is taller than her step-father, dark-eyed and red haired, was his partner on the stage for seven years.

No studio, so far as is known, is planning a picture based on the kidnapping of a child, despite the intense interest aroused by the Lindbergh case.

John Bright, a scenarist who specializes in crime stories, expresses the feeling of Hollywood when he said it would be a mistake for a company to capitalize on any story that has caused such sympathy and curiosity and assumed such importance as the baby Lindbergh kidnapping.


Clark Gable will do almost anything necessary to make a characterization perfect, except wear a wig. He even grayed his hair a platinum blonde color, he says, for “Strange Interlude.”

His aversion to wigs dates back to a stage engagement with Jane Cowl. There was business of removing a hat and throwing it away angrily. When the audience howled, he discovered the wig had gone with the hat.


Jean Harlow’s hair looks like silk, despite its frequent peroxide baths.

The smartest dialogue I’ve heard lately is delivered by Ben Lyon in “Lady With a Past.”

Dorothy Lee’s perpetual pep is amazing.

It’s my opinion that “Mata Hari” would be pretty dull without the ever-alluring Swede.

The broadest “humor” I’ve heard lately is in the lines of Winnie Lightner in “Play Girl.” Pictures like that one cause Will Hays to spend time combating censorship.

Junior Fairbanks actually wears that old green hat.

I wonder how Mary Astor always manages to appear so cool.

“The Gay Caballero” is the nearest approach to old-time melodrammer I’ve seen in a long time.

A pretty sight: Dark-skinned Dolores Del Rio in a white satin evening gown.


“Set music,” considered necessary during silent picture days to help players work up their emotion and to keep them from getting heavy-hearted during trying days, is infrequently used now.

Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer are two of the few who still demand music between scenes.

Joan has an electric phonograph operated by her maid. Norma hires a violinist and an organist, who has a portable instrument to play for her.


In three years I’ve talked to approximately 900 more or less prominent movie persons with the object of learning something interesting about them to fill this space.

I think Clark Gable is about the frankest I’ve listened to and that Tallulah Bankhead is the most amusing.

And that Irving Pichel, George Arliss and John Griffith Wray are the more intelligent among the men.

The most astute feminine thinkers and talkers are Mary Pickford, Ruth Chatterton, Ann Harding and Marie Dressler.

The dullest person I ever interviewed is a middle-aged comedian. (You can’t make a story out of “yeses” and “noes”)

Erich von Stroheim is the most talkative.


I have been unable to keep only one appointment. That was with Mary Duncan. She lived in the hills and I couldn’t find her house.

Several have failed to keep appointments. Laurel and Hardy and Neil Hamilton are among them. Hamilton apologized the next day by letter.

Gene Markey who married Joan Bennett the other day hoped to finish the manuscript of a new Garbo picture before his marriage, but hitches developed and he still was working on the picture the night before the wedding.

Gene was granted a week’s leave for his honeymoon on condition that he take along the Garbo script – and work on it.

Incidentally, newspaper men felt like cheering the youngest daughter of Richard Bennett when several days before her wedding she declared she would not keep them waiting outside as Connie, her sister, did when she was married.


Elissa Landi objected strenuously by telegraph to her publishers when her newest novel, “House for Sale,” appeared with this explanatory line on the jacket: “A novel of remembered loves.” She said it was no such thing and demanded new jackets. And new ones were printed.

Lila Lee made two unsuccessful attempts to get back in pictures after being away from them for more than two years.

Production of the first picture was called off soon after she got the role. She became ill a day before the second one was to start.

Now she has the lead in “Radio Patrol” because Mae Clarke, who was in it, became ill.

Motion picture stories frequently resemble others that have gone before, but no one thinks much about that. However, the great similarity in theme in the Bennett girls’ latest films is causing no end of comment among their co-workers.

Constance’s newest, “Lady With a Past,” was first made and has already been released in some circles. Joan’s picture was started before her sister’s was finished. It is “Careless Lady” and will be released next month.

Here are the parallel stories:
Constance and Joan act and dress like wallflowers – if you can imagine that! – and so are unpopular with men.

On the advice of friends, they decide to acquire pseudo-experience and therefore a “past.” The adventures of both are laid in Paris. The stories end differently.

The two similar stories are only a coincidence, I am sure.

Something else about the Bennetts: There’ll be two - no, it can’t be written that way. Here it is: Constance is married to a marquis (Henri de la Falaise) and Joan is married to a Markey (Gene).


It’s the little things that count in Hollywood, as well as in life.
They’re still talking about director Tay Garnett’s clever main titles in “Her Man.”

The name of the picture, cast and credits were written in sand and washed away as the waves rolled in. Each receding wave disclosed a new portion of the title.

In “Scarface,” the passing of time, during which the gangman shoots his way to greater power, is conveyed by means of a machine gun’s bullets tearing the leaves from a calendar. Howard Hawks, the director, thought of that touch.

The daring concluding scene of “The Public Enemy” – wherein the hood’s body falls through his mother’s doorway after he is slain by gangster rivals – elicited praise. But the gruesomeness of it was criticized.

The possibility of talking remakes of two well-remembered silents is being considered. They are “The Big Parade” and “What Price Glory?” Spencer Tracy and Ralph Bellamy are talked of as the principals in the latter.


A party including James Gleason and Monte Blue went into a restaurant late one night for a bite. Upon removing his top coat, Gleason discovered he had on a sweat shirt.

When he apologized for his informal attire, blue suggested they all remove their coats and vests – so Gleason wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable.

Harpo Marx, sitting at an adjoining table, arose and bowed graciously to Gleason and the coat-and-vest removers. Then he took off his trousers and had a waiter check them.

The film offers made Noel Coward never got to the money stage. He turned down two or three producers’ agents without even inquiring how much they would give him to stay in Hollywood.

It is probable, given Coward’s ability to manufacture plays – such as “Private Lives,” “Cavalcade,” “Bittersweet” and “The Vortex” to name a few - and his popularity as an actor in New York, that any film company would gladly put him on its payroll at a starting salary of no less than $5000 a week.

The great Garbo, so one of our beach spies phones, is swimming these chilly days in a white bathing suit.

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