Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who's Who This Week In Pictures

New York, April 11, 1932

Greta Garbo, one of the five stars in the screen version of Vicki Baum’s “Grand Hotel,’ which opens at the Astor Theater Tuesday evening, was once a salesgirl in a Stockholm department store. Her name was Greta Gustafson and she was 14 when her father died.

Miss Garbo has made herself conspicuous by being virtually a Hollywood hermit. Little is known really of her private life except that it is a retired existence of a woman who devotes her time to her work and her studies. Her motion picture career began in Sweden, where she was “discovered” by Erik Petschler, comedy director, and appeared in film called “Erik the Tramp.” Her performance impressed the late Mauritz Stiller, who engaged Miss Gustafson to play in a number of films and persuaded her to change her name to Garbo. She had already appeared on the legitimate stage in Shakespeare and Schnitzler plays, but her success in a Gosta Berling film and also in other pictures brought her an international reputation. Both Stiller and Garbo were engaged by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and her first American role was in “The Torrent.” This was followed by “The Temptress” and “Flesh and the Devil,” with John Gilbert. Other silent productions included “Love,” “The Divine Woman,” “Wild Orchids,” “The Mysterious Lady,” and “The Single Standard.”

It was feared that the advent of the talking pictures would be too great a handicap for a foreigner, but Miss Garbo’s foreign accent has not handicapped her. She scored notable successes in “Anna Christie,” “Romance,” “Inspiration,” “Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise,” and “Mata Hari.” Miss Garbo recalls that the first English word she really noted was “applesauce.”

Like Ingres and his violin, John Barrymore had other ambitions early in life than the stage. He wanted to be an artist, and the drawings of Gustave Dore fired his youthful imagination. After studying art in Paris, he returned to this country, and it is reported that he lasted for twenty minutes as an illustrator on a New York daily. He had about the same success with Arthur Brisbane, who advised him to try the stage. He had a minor and momentary success – he sold a picture called “The Hangman” to Andrew Carnegie for $10. Then he turned to the stage and played his first part in “Magda” and followed in light musical comedy roles. His striking appearance and intelligent portrayals soon brought him fame in more considerable stage productions, of which his “Hamlet” is perhaps the most celebrated. His favorite screen role was Ahab in “Moby Dick.” He also appeared in “Don Juan.”

Lionel Barrymore, who has the part of Kringelein in “Grand Hotel” was born and brought up in the atmosphere of the theater. He was educated in New York with his sister Ethel and his brother John and traveled to various parts of the world with stock companies and road shows. Like his brother, he wanted to be an artist and was a painter of no mean order; he was also a lover of music and has composed several selections. His first important stage adventures were in “The Copperhead,” which later was made into a film; “The Jest,” “Peter Ibbetson” and “The Claw.” In 1909 Lionel Barrymore made his debut on the screen when D. W. Griffith induced him to take a part in “Friends,” and from that time on, in silent pictures, he gravitated between the screen and the stage. When talking pictures were introduced, his experience on stage and screen stood him in good stead. He had been under contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer appearing in “The Mysterious Island,” “West of Zanzibar,” “Women Love Diamonds,” “The Barrier” and others. His first audible film role was in “The Lion and the Mouse” for Warner Brothers. As a director, Lionel Barrymore brought out “Confession,” and “Madame X,” with Ruth Chatterton; “The Rogue Song,” “Ten Cents a Dance,” “The Unholy Night” and “His Glorious Night.”
Of late he has made a succinct success by his performances in “A Free Soul,” “Mata Hari,” “Broken Lullaby” and “Arsene Lupin,” in which he played with his brother John for the first time on the screen.

Edmund Lowe who plays a leading part in “The Misleading Lady,” now at the Paramount Theater is a Californian. Born at San Jose, he was graduated at Santa Clara University and then for two years studied law. He went to San Francisco and acted with the Alcazar Stock Company and eventually went into the motion picture field. Many will remember his Sergeant Quirt in the film of “What Price Glory?” Among the many pictures in which he as appeared are “The Fool,” “Is Zat So?” “Publicity Madness,” “The Wizard,” “Dressed to Kill,” “In Old Arizona,” “East of Suez” with Pola Negri; “Soul Mates,” “The Cock-Eyed World,” “Happy Days,” “This Thing Called Love,” “The Bad One,” “Born Reckless,” “Scotland Yard,” “The Spider,” “The Cisco Kid” and “Transatlantic.”

Another Californian who appears in the same photoplay is Stuart Erwin, who was born in Squaw Valley, near Fresno. As a boy, while attending high school at Porterville, he won his spurs as an amateur comedian and took an active part in school dramatics. After graduating from the University of California he forsook his intended calling of sheep rancher and went on the stage at Los Angeles. After appearing in several plays he did his first motion picture work in “Mother Knows Best.” This was followed by parts in two Hal Roach comedies. Since then he has appeared in “Through Different Eyes,” “The Cock-Eyed World.” “New Year’s Eve,” “Speakeasy” and “Men Without Women.” His first Paramount picture was “Dangerous Curves,” in which he appeared with Clara Bow. Other film plays in which he was seen include “Sweetie,” “Young Eagles,” “Dangerous Dan McGrew,” “Playboy of Paris,” with Maurice Chevalier; “Love Among the Millionaires,” “Only Saps Work,” “No Limit,” “Dude Ranch,” “Up Pops the Devil,” “The Magnificent Lie,” “Two Kinds of Women” and “Strangers in Love.”

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., the son of Douglas Fairbanks and Beth Sully Fairbanks, and the husband of Joan Crawford, was born in New York City on Dec. 9, 1907, when his father was appearing on the Broadway stage. He was educated by private tuition and at schools in New York, Paris, London, Pasadena and Los Angeles. He studied painting and sculpture in Paris for three years and is a recognized caricaturist. Eager to follow his father’s footsteps, young Fairbanks was not a notable success in his first picture, “Stephen Steps Out.” But this was soon forgotten, notably after his performance in “A Woman of Affairs” (“The Green Hat”) in which he figured as the heroine’s (Greta Garbo) neurotic brother. He has appeared on the stage in Los Angeles in several plays. He is now under contract to First National Pictures, and his productions include “Outward Bound,” “The Dawn Patrol,” “Little Caesar,” “I Like Your Nerve,” “Union Depot,” and “Love Is a Racket.” He appears this week at the Strand Theater in “It’s Tough to be Famous.”

Sudden success in motion pictures came to Mary Brian when she took the part of Wendy in the film of “Peter Pan.” Since that time she has been featured in many pictures. Miss Brian was born at Corsicana, Texas, and in childhood displayed an aptitude for drawing. At Los Angeles, where she began to study art, she won a beauty contest one day and a “charming personality” contest another day. So she entered the motion picture field. Among other photoplays in which she has appeared are “The Air Mail,” “The Little French Girl,” “The Street of Forgotten Men,” “A Regular Fellow,” “The Enchanted Hill,” “Behind the Front,” “Beau Geste,” “Knockout Reilly,” “Running Wild,” “Shanghai Bound,” “Man Power,” “Two Faming Youths,” “Partners in Crime,” “The Big Killing,” “Forgotten Faces,” “The Virginian,” “The Kibitzer,” “Stepping Along,” “High Hat,” “The Royal Family” and many others. Miss Brian is now to be seen in the leading feminine role in “It’s Tough to be Famous.”

Sally Eilers, the heroine in “Disorderly Conduct,” at the Roxy Theater this week, was born in New York City. She was educated at the Horace Mann School here and at Fairfax High School, Hollywood, her parents having moved to the West Coast in 1926. She was ambitious to become a screen actress. So she began in a small part and was soon recognized by receiving roles in short comedies. Then she appeared in “Reducing,” with Marie Dressler; “Let Us Be Gay” and “The Black Camel.” She was married to Hoot Gibson, the cowboy actor, in June, 1930.


To picture Fannie Hurst’s special screen story, “Symphony of Six Million,” which is to be presented at the Gaiety on Thursday evening, RKO-Radio undertook to film many scenes in this city for it was necessary in the opinion of the director, Gregory La Cava, to have actual locations of certain typical parts of life in this metropolis. There are scenes in this film of Fifth Avenue and of the congested arteries of the east side.

Lynn Shores, a former director and writer, was entrusted with this angle of work. When he returned to Hollywood with several reels of film, they were projected and studied. The types and action of real life were then reproduced.
Two character players were engaged in the scouting expedition, one being Anna Appel of the Yiddish Art Theater, and the other, Gregory Ratoff, another stage actor and husband of Eugenie Leontovich.

The principles in the cast are Irene Dunne, who did so well in the pictorial version of “Cimarron,” and Ricardo Cortez, who acts the part of a young New York surgeon. Miss Dunne plays a crippled girl of New York’s east side.

For a scene in “This Is the Night,” Roland Young climbed to the top of a stepladder and was told to teeter while leaning over to whisper to Charles Ruggles about the beauty of Lily Damita. Mr. Young leaned over too far and the actor and the ladder fell to the floor. It is said that Mr. Young was not hurt and that the fall, although not called for in the script, adds to the amusement of the picture.

After an absence from Hollywood of more than a year, Charlie Chaplin has informed his studio that he may return during the latter part of May. The comedian saw the openings of “City Lights” in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, and Berlin. All last Summer and most of the Winter were spent in Europe, mostly in England, France and Switzerland. He intends to be present at the Japanese premiere of “City Lights” at Tokyo on April 13.

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