Sunday, June 5, 2011

May 7, 1932: Joan Crawford Target In Extortion Plot


Authorities Listen In on Film Star’s Talk With Suspect

Los Angeles, May 7 (AP)
An apparent extortion plot aimed at Joan Crawford, film actress, was being investigated today by the district attorney’s office with the announcement one man was in technical custody for investigation.

Investigators said the actress’ apparent fear was based on a note which was slipped under the door of her home, asking for an appointment.

District Attorney Buron Fitts, who took an active part in trapping the suspect, refused to divulge details. He admitted, however, the man in the asserted plot was from Washington D. C.

Miss Crawford appealed to Fitts yesterday, it was learned, saying she had an appointment at her studio with the man. Two investigators were placed in an adjoining room but, Fitts said, the sound recording device they had failed to register the conversation between the actress and the suspect.

“From the report of the investigation it is difficult to tell just what the man wanted,” Fitts said.

The man was taken to the district attorney’s office, and, after being properly identified, was ordered to reappear there today for further questioning. No charge has been placed against him, although he was told not to endeavor to leave the city.


Film Star Leaves Courtoom With Tear-Stained Face After Private Hearing

Reno, Nev., (AP)
Ann Harding, film star, was granted a divorce here this morning from Harry Bannister at a private hearing.

The ordeal of divorcing a husband she professed she still loves appears to have been a trying one for Miss Harding, who came from the court room with a quite evidently tear-stained face. She was helped into an automobile by her husband’s attorney, Morley Griswold.

The courtroom was closed to a throng of curious, including newspapermen, who stood about the door as Miss Harding arrived dressed in black except for a silver fox fur. Bannister, who arrived at the courthouse first, gave her an encouraging pat on the back as they walked into the courtroom together.

Miss Harding’s complaint, which was prepared after her arrival here from Hollywood,
charged “extreme cruelty.” Bannister’s course of conduct, the complaint said, disturbed her peace of mind and made continued association with him a risk to her health.

Miss Harding is to have sole custody of their four-year-old daughter Jane, with Bannister being granted the right of visitation. Contents of the property agreement were not disclosed.

Bannister did not remain in the courtroom to hear his wife’s testimony but left immediately after he had established his proof of residency here. Tomorrow he expects to fly to Hollywood and from there to New York where he will consider, he said, offers to appear in motion pictures.

Miss Harding also intends to leave Reno for Hollywood tomorrow, but whether they will go together could not be learned.

Bannister greeted her affectionately when she arrived here yesterday noon and last night they dined together at the home of William Woodburn, Miss Harding’s attorney.

Thus ended what Hollywood called “an ideal marriage.”


Mrs. George Jessel has made a condition that may block any chance of a marriage between her husband and Norma Talmadge.

Mrs. Jessel has reputedly said that she will not consent to a divorce unless she can sue her husband and name a co-respondent. Jessel is supposed to have made an emphatic refusal after hearing the name his wife wished to mention.

Miss Talmadge has not as yet started the agreed upon divorce suit against Joseph M. Schenck. The Schencks were married about sixteen years ago. The unavoidable delay in Jessel’s effort to free himself has held back the Schenck divorce action from accounts.

The Jessels have been twice married with George Jessel, now thirty two. Mrs. Jessel is the former Florence Courtney of the Courtney Sisters, high-ranking sister team of their day.

The Jessels re-married following a divorce procured by Mrs. Jessel after a prolonged separation.Since their second marriage, Mrs. Jessel has become an ardent Christian Scientist.


Los Angeles, May 7 (UP)
Ethel Clayton, film actress, must accept the divorce decree awarded her from Ian Keith, actor, even though she may not want it.

Miss Clayton, who was awarded the decree some time ago, later decided she did not want it. She said she wanted separate maintenance only until she received $4500 under a property settlement, and petitioned to set aside the decree.

Superior Judge Dudley Valentine yesterday ordered the divorce decree regularly docketed in the county clerk’s office. Attorneys for Keith had requested the action.


Los Angeles, May 7 (UP)
Bearing Mary Astor, film actress, and her husband Dr. Franklyn Thorpe, Hollywood physician, the 80-foot yacht, Henrietta, slipped its anchor to-day for a cruise of the South Seas.

Prior to its return in August, the yacht will be put in a Honolulu Harbor for the birth of an infant to the couple.


Los Angeles, May 7 (AP)
More court trouble faced Mary Nolan, actress, today. A complaint charging her with evading taxi fare has been issued by the city prosecutor’s office.

J. B. McDonnell, owner of a local motor livery, complained that the actress, formerly known as Imogene Wilson on the New York stage, owes him $43.50 for four days’ hire.

Miss Nolan is now under sentence of 30 days in jail for failure to pay wages in connection with the operation of a gown shop in Hollywood.


Hollywood, May 7
Back in Hollywood today after a trip to the south seas, Douglas Fairbanks expressed himself delighted with the care-free life of the natives.

“They’re the happiest people in all the world,” the actor declared after his arrival from San Francisco, where he disembarked.

“I’d like to have a little native hut away back in the country, get my food out of the sea and forests and come to town on boat days only. That’s the way to live.”


Los Angeles, May 7 (AP)
A search for the robber who entered the apartment of Mrs. Julia Sherman, mother of Lowell Sherman, film actor, and robbed her of furs and jewelry valued at $10,000 was started to-day by the police.

Mrs. Sherman discovered the robbery when she returned home yesterday afternoon. Included in the loot was a $5000 mink coat and nearly a dozen neck pieces.


Beverly Hills, May 7 (UP)
Will Rogers, having failed to appear in court on a speeding charge, sent his attorney today to explain to the judge.

In effect, the attorney said the cowboy-humorist, not being familiar with speedometers because cow-ponies don’t have them, thought he was on the hurricane deck of a bronc while trying out a new automobile and neglected to look at the gadget.

And the judge, saying he didn’t believe Will intended to break the law anyway, suspended a $5 fine.

Rogers was charged with driving forty-four miles an hour in a twenty-mile zone.


Los Angeles, May 7 (AP)
The arrest of Duncan Renaldo, film actor and figure in a series of court actions involving his home and his status as a resident of this country, was issued at Atwater, Cal. growing out of a speeding case.

Justice of the Peace W. H. Osborne asked that the actor be arrested and sent to his court to answer a charge of speeding. Because Renaldo already had obtained ten continuances and “apparently is trying to use this court as a playhouse.”

The arrest occurred last November 29.


Hollywood, Cal. May 7 (AP)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will not, at least for the time being, attempt to settle the differences that Marlene Dietrich, Josef von Sternberg and James Cagney are having with the film studios employing them.

A statement issued late last night by members of the conciliation committee of the academy, meeting in special session, said: “Due to an unfortunate error it had been reported that the meeting was called to take action concerning certain disputes which lately have become public. None of these cases was discussed by the committee.

An official of the academy, who asked that his name not be used, yesterday said the special meeting probably would consider the case of the three artists.

Miss Dietrich and Von Sternberg have been suspended by their studio for failure to produce a story which they deemed “unsuitable.” Cagney was suspended by his studio over a disagreement relating to salary.

No indication was given by the academy if it would take up the case of the actress, actor, and director in the future.


Hollywood, May 7 (UP)
Paramount Studio employees joyfully greeted the announcement today that the corporation would readjust their losses on stock purchased through the corporation, and that a policy of profit-sharing for all employees would be institututed “just as soon as general business conditions would permit.”


Renee Adoree, returning from Arizona in June, where she has been taking a cure for a lung ailment, has been notified by all studios that they will have parts for her as soon as she is available.


Loretta Young wants to play in a picture in which she is a dancer. She started in pictures at the tender age of five as a dancer, and has never lost the urge.


Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., has “gone athletic.” He works out with a trainer daily near the tennis courts at the studios. His favorite form of torture is wrestling.


Bette Davis was once a life guard, and a good one. She is one of the finest swimmers in Hollywood and complains because the swimming pool at her Toluca Lake home is too small.


Andre Luguet, French actor who played the king in “The Man Who Played God,” is at work at present in the William Powell role in a French-speaking version of “High Pressure.”


Metro has abandoned attempts to get Helen Morgan’s “Boarding House” story cooled down to a temperature that would get by censors. It’s now in the camphor for good.


Arthur Pierson, Regis Toomey and Gene Pallette, actors, have been dropped by Paramount.

Eugene Pallette has started his 640th motion picture role as one of the leading members of Tallulah Bankhead’s supporting cast in “Thunder Below.”

The comedian made his screen debut twenty-one years ago as a juvenile leading man.

His lengthy record was established in spite of the fact that he dropped out of pictures for three years to enlist in the army during the World war, and for another three year period to try his luck in the oil fields.

Charles Bickford is more of a business man than a film actor. In addition to his motion picture work he finds time to handle eight enterprises, an island in the South Seas, and write an occasional play.

He owns a hog farm, chicken ranch, lingerie shop, garage, gas station, two whaling boats, half interest in a pearling schooner, and a small island near Java where cocoanuts are grown.

From Luella O. Parsons:

Little Bette Davis, blonde, young and with ability, has been elected to take the place of Marian Marsh at Warner Brothers. Fox is dickering at this very moment with the Marsh girl. Marsh, according to report, will go to Fox on a contract now being negotiated.

Bette has a great chance if she will put herself in the hands of a capable makeup man. She gave a great performance in “Seed” and one was not distracted by over-beaded eyelashes and over-rouged mouth.

She plays opposite Richard Barthelmess in “Cabin In the Cotton” and she won that role after innumerable tests were shown Barthelmess. Hardie Albright has one of the chief roles. Michael Curtiz directs the picture.

The latest on the Nancy Carroll – Paramount scrap is a compromise.

Nancy, it appears, was getting bonuses in addition to salary, which gave her a fat weekly pay check. In the general cut-down order it was decided to remove the bonus and hand Miss Carroll a flat salary.

At first she refused, but, according to a friend of hers, she and Paramount have reached an agreement whereby she receives $1000 a week.

The one thing Nancy asks for is better stories, and that she is promised. She feels her roles haven’t been good the past year. And there is something in what she says.

I am glad, very glad indeed, that Erich Von Stroheim is going to have a chance to see his picture, “Walking Down Broadway,” put on the screen. He was that thrilled when Winfield Sheehan bought the story and told him he could direct it for Fox.

After one piece of bad luck after another, here seemed a good break. Now, after months of weary waiting, Fox will really produce the picture. It will co-star Sally Eilers and Jimmy Dunn.

What a popular child is Sally. We are getting letters every day about her, asking that she and Jimmy Dunn make some more pictures together.

Jack Oakie, sweater and all, will soon have a trip to New York. He has been signed by Charles R. Rogers for one of the leads in “Madison Square Garden,” the picture in which Jimmie Gleason will do his comedy stuff.

Well over 3000 feet of film were shot of the Garden, when Charlie was in New York, by special permission of and in association with W. F. Carey of Madison Square fame.

Despite all this fight atmosphere, “Madison Square Garden” will not deal soley with the pugilistic game. There will be hockey, bicycle races and many other forms of sport.

No one knows better than Antonio Moreno what a struggle Mexico has had to establish its own motion picture industry. Tony has been in Mexico several months, directing and producing Mexican talkies. He has completed two pictures and he admits it’s tough sledding. His first is “Santa” and his second, “Eagle Facing the Sun.”

“We filmed scenes against Mexican backgrounds so strikingly beautiful they put Hollywood sets to shame. However, we get plenty of grief, for if it isn’t a bird warbling in the rafters of the sound stage it’s roosters crowing outside. The peons on their burros insist on riding into the camera lines of our country scenes – while in the cities it takes the police to hold back the Indians who are wide-eyed at such devilish contraptions as sound apparatus and cameras. But everywhere we meet with enthusiasm and eagerness from the Mexicans.”

The expensive premier of “Grand Hotel” could have been improved. Is everybody listening?

I mean if Jimmy Durante had been among those present, it might have been better for the fans, for Jimmy probably would have added a riotous comedy note.

He has returned from New York and was everybody on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot happy! Jimmy will play a part in “Speak Easily,” Buster Keaton’s next picture, and plans are now to bring along Jimmy’s side-kicks, Clayton and Jackson, to emote with him.

Seems to me I heard of a battle that either Clayton or Jackson waged when someone spoke of something as being superfluous as a fifth wheel in Jimmy’s screen career.

Snapshots of Hollywood collected at random:

Joan Bennett in cerise lounging pajamas becoming to her blonde hair at the W. K. Howard’s.

Janet Gaynor with her hair tied up in a white veil to keep it in shape for tests she is to make, at the Howard’s. Bill Howard directs her and Charlie Farrell in “The First Year.”

Dorothy Burgess is denying that she and Clarence Brown intend to add a marriage sequel to their romance.

Ann Harding is leaving town via plane for Reno as per schedule.

Eddie Cantor and the Missus and Tom Mix and the lady who bears his name, stepping out at the Frolics.


“The Struggle” Is a 1932 “Ten Nights in a Barroom”

By Chester B. Bahn
“The Struggle” is a queer cinematic throwback, sort of a 1932 “Ten Nights in a Barroom.”

But only in the sense that I have used the term does this D. W. Griffith production succeed today. Crude in story, cruder still in treatment, and perhaps the poorest Griffith product from the standpoint of direction and photography, “The Struggle” represents misspent effort by those concerned, including Anita Loos and John Emerson, the scenarists.

It is difficult to accept the statement that these two able writers concocted “The Struggle,” it is simon-pure hokum, with the usual Loos-Emerson sparkle never instanced. The dialog is trite frequently to the point of irritation.

This, naturally, presupposes that the burden placed upon the shoulders of the players was mountainous, as indeed it was. Only Hal Skelly seems to have been successful in coping with it to any degree, slaving like a dramatic Trojan, he manages to vitalize Jimmie Wilson, the Loos-Emerson counterpart of Joe Morgan.

Otherwise, from the standpoint of performance, there is not much the candid critic may say in the way of praise. Zita Johann, making her cinema debut (you will next see her under the Radio banner), suggests possibilities, but in “The Struggle" she is permitted merely to suffer… and suffer… and then suffer some more.

If an exposition of the curse of drink, post-prohibition variety, still interests you, “The Struggle” is your picture. Having said that, there remains nothing for the analytical reporter to add.

Last minute Rialto news –

Jack Oakie’s Olympic games comedy will be titled “The Million Dollar Legs.”

Sally Eilers and James Dunn will co-star in “Walking Down Broadway.”

Chances favor the appearance of Madge Evans opposite Al Jolson in his first United Artists film.


By Harrison Carroll
Hollywood Cal., May 6
A whole island turned out to bid Douglas Fairbanks farewell as he and his company boarded the Monowai and sailed out of the harbor of Papeete, taking with them the glamour of Hollywood transplanted to the South Seas.

Doug turned these Elysian isles upside down filming “Robinson Crusoe of the South Seas” and they liked it.

Wireless dispatches tell of the reception that the native girls gave to Maria Alba, Doug’s leading woman, and of a send-off party that might have been a scene in a motion picture – Polynesian chiefs, all the French officials of this capital of Oceanin, Chinese, natives, the entire population.

Sailing away, Doug promised that one of the first prints of the picture would be sent to Papeete to be shown in the island’s one little motion picture house, a theater as yet un-equipped with sound apparatus.

Their work done, the Fairbanks company has returned in eight deluxe cabins on the largest boat that touches Papeete. In the hold of the vessel was Doug’s dog, “Rooney,” which plays a part in the picture, two parrots and a brace of monkeys. The rest of the part is en route on Joseph M. Schenck’s yacht, “The Invader.”

In one of the few letters he has found time to write, Doug speaks of his picture: “It is a joyful story of the South Seas, a romantic fantasy of today. We have tried to make it a dream come true for every small boy who, at some time or another, has projected himself on a desert island; and yet we hope it also tunes in on the gypsy in every grown-up.”

Will Rogers was in great form as master of ceremonies at the opening of “Grand Hotel.”

“I came here,” said Will, who was in street clothes as usual, “because Louis B. Mayer called me up. That was sort of a command. You know Louis is a close friend of Mr. Hoover. In fact, a short time ago, it looked like he was Hoover’s only friend.

“This premier,” he added, “is really an anti-hoarding affair – to bring cash out of hiding. It’s a great success too. The box office says they even took in some Confederate money.

“And speaking of dough, ‘Grand Hotel’ is probably the only hotel in the country that will make money this year.”

He tossed them off like this for a few minutes.


Hollywood is razzing Sid Grauman for the very flat joke of leading the audience to expect that Greta Garbo would appear, and then bringing out Wally Beery dressed up in women’s clothes.

Incidentally, Wally was a female impersonator at one time – played a Swedish washerwoman…

Jean Harlow, original platinum blonde, has a new hair-shade, dark molasses taffy. Or was that a wig? She was squired to the premier by Paul (“Big Brother”) Bern

Marlene Dietrich came with her husband…

Met Hedda Hopper standing in a doorway while the crowd almost pushed her off her feet. “Isn’t this swell?” she says. “I’m getting all my hips knocked off.”

Even honest witnesses disagree – that champion autograph seeker swore that Greta Garbo ran into the theater, hatless and wearing a red cape. Yet the fellow who takes the pictures for the fan magazines insists that she was wearing a dark overcoat and a beret. Fact is, she wasn’t there at all…

Another tip to the stargazers: After the premiers, many of the stars go to the Blossom room at the Roosevelt hotel. Dropped in for a minute and Joe Mann miraculously produced me a good table…

Lewis Stone, who is seen but rarely in bright light places was there…

Helen Twelvetrees had another party. Dolores Costello, a sweet person, stayed for a few minutes.

Jack Oakie was dancing with his ma.

Bert Wheeler, with his chin over a girl’s shoulder, whistled while he danced.

Those two couples who I recognized as dress extras were having the best time… Some meanie sent the radio officers to quiet down the car-caller at the Chinese.


That the schoolhouse on the Paramount lot once was Mary Pickford’s dressing room?


Chalk up another box office success for Joan Crawford, now playing at Lowe’s. “Letty Lynton” has everything for which fans cheer.

In the first place, there is Joan at her very best. And the several other reasons include an A-1 supporting cast, capable director, well-written script and splendid photography.

The title role gives the Crawford dramatic power an opportunity to assert itself.

Once again Joan is a bit of human flotsam – this time sailing back from South America and a sordid affair with a handsome foreigner. Aboard ship she meets one of her own countrymen and experiences the first real love of her life. When the boat lands they are engaged, but at the pier awaiting her is her ex-lover.

The coolness of her home and mother, and despair at ever escaping from her past leads Joan to contemplate suicide. At the apartment of her former paramour, where she goes to collect damaging love letters, she mixes poison with her cocktail. Fortunately, however, her unsuspecting host reaches for the drink first and obligingly passes out of the picture.

The law traces her to the winter home of her fiancée and brings her back to face murder charges. The evidence, however, is so slim, that the gallant lying of her betrothed and mother sets her free.

Robert Montgomery and Nils Asther have been very well cast in the male leads, and Louise Closser Hale, as Miranda the maid, provides just the necessary touch of humor.

Lowe’s stage revue feature “Whirligigs,” with everything going ‘round and ‘round, including the Chester Hale girls, who open the show with a hoop-rolling dance.

Taking as its theme this thing called love, the revue attempts to portray in dance love through the ages, from the age of the cave man down to modern times.

Supplementing the program are the Four Flash Devils, a colored tap quartet, a roller skating trip, and a juggling duet.

And in the pit, Bruce Brummit, with the assistance of Lucia Romano, soloist, presents an unusually effective Mother’s Day novelty overture.


“Trial of Vivienne Ware” Is Court Room Story

Director William K. Howard made “The Trial of Vivienne Ware” in 17 days, a little more than half the usual feature production time. And the picture moves as rapidly as the production.

Last year Howard’s outstanding picture was “Transatlantic,” distinguished for its speedy action and excitement. His new one races so fast that you almost cling to your seat to keep from losing pace with it – which is the more remarkable because as far as the story goes, “The Trial of Vivienne Ware” is just a little-better-than-average court room melodrama.

It makes Howard champion of the “machine gun tempo” on the screen, where the action goes rat-tat-tat like bullets from a gangster’s rod.

A young lawyer (Donald Cook) steps from the train in a crowded station, makes his way quickly to a cab, gets in. There is no fadeout, a swift whirl of the camera traverses miles in the batting of an eye, and there we are watching Cook talk to Joan Bennett as Vivienne, in her apartment.

The scene changes similarly, when the trial gets under way, from court-room to flash-backs of relevant action, interspersed with quick flashes of testimony and melodramatic action – to the “big chase” finish.

ZaSu Pitts and Skeets Gallagher as radio announcers from the courtroom supply comedy that helps relieve the tension – but Gallagher as Graham McNally talks as rapidly as radio’s own Graham and is no slower than the picture itself.


“Strictly Dishonorable,” featuring Paul Lukas, Sidney Fox and Lewis Stone, is the feature attraction at the Broadway theater today.

This diverting picture tells the story of a fast-paced love affair which begins in a New York speakeasy, and finds its completion in a bachelor’s apartment on the floor above.


Warner Oland, Sally Eilers and Bela Lugosi, in Earl Derr Biggers’ mystery story “The Black Camel,” and Winnie Lightner in “Side Show,” are the attractions with will open a two-day engagement at the Century theater tomorrow.

Closing at the theater tonight are Sylvia Sidney in “Street Scene” and Ken Maynard in “Range Law.”

Warner Oland again portrays his favorite role of the Chinese detective of Honolulu, Charlie Chan, in “The Black Camel.” The mystery drama receives its title from one of Chan’s aphorisms that death is like a black camel.

Chan undertakes the task of unraveling the reason why a celebrated motion picture actress is murdered in her Hawaiian villa and gets into many unusual situations.

Coming to the theater on Tuesday are Barbara Stanwyck and Ricardo Cortez in “Ten Cents a Dance,” and Jack Mulhall in “Love Bound.”

The attractions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be Bert Wheeler and Dorothy Lee in “Too Many Cooks,” and George Bancroft and Kay Francis and “Scandal Sheet.”


A said...

Wonderful post.

Robin@DecoratingTennisGirl said...

Love to read these!!!

VP81955 said...

Good to have you back...don't be a stranger!

Commander N said...

This is nicely done