CAROLE LOMBARD TRIBUTE

wass

A vivacious blonde with a zest for life, and who was graced by her own unique brand of comic artistry, Carole Lombard was an immensely talented and a wittingly funny human being whose heart of gold earned her many valuable friendships and lured her into the arms of Hollywood’s iconic legend and movie king, Clark Gable.

heart

It is these innumerable qualities that made Lombard’s popularity hard to surpass. She was the highest paid actress in Hollywood during the late 1930’s, and she was often placed alongside the other acclaimed stars of the day in the top ranks of the movie industry, but away from the cameras, Carole Lombard led a totally different life than the characters that she portrayed on screen. For years she endured heartache and adversity, and was always determined to pick herself up, only to fall back into the deep-end every time she was faced with another challenging obstacle that proved to be more difficult than those she previously encountered. When she married Clark Gable, she was inflicted with the struggles of infertility, which left a sorrowful mark on their lives, and just when they were in the midst of creating a life of their own, a tragedy so catastrophic occurred that Clark Gable would forever be torn by the premature death of his beloved wife ( Lombard ) in an airline disaster while returning home after a successful war bond rally in her home state of Indiana.

oxxx

The plane crash that extinguished Carole’s young light was devastating news, and shattered the lives of those close to her, but the impact that her tragic death had on society generated quite a media frenzy that even today the legend known as Carole Lombard still continues to evoke interest in popular culture.

bxa

Many fans of all ages and from all walks of life express their love for this lively and energetic actress whose beauty will never fade. Unlike a large majority of the later generation of fans, I wasn’t introduced to Carole Lombard through family or from the way she died. I had developed a profound interest in classic cinema ever since discovering Judy Garland, and when I started to pursue the other notable stars of the day, Lombard was one of the first along the line. Her comical touch combined with her freshness and charm was something that I marveled at. After witnessing Lombard’s considerable talents in a diverse range of roles, I realized that she could metamorphose herself from a crazy maniacal heroine in her trademark screwball comedies to more in-depth roles where she played characters who led turbulent lives or struggled with marital difficulties and hardships.

dog-carole

For an actress who was always held in high esteem, Carole Lombard never attained an Academy Award. She did however receive a Best Actress nomination for her portrayal of Irene Bullock in My Man Godfrey, but unfortunately lost to Luise Rainer, who obtained the gold statuette for The Great Ziegfeld. For Carole, this was a tremendous loss. She had been hoping that her performance would be so rightfully merited, but as with the case of many screwball comedies, this was a genre where the stars very rarely garnered the recognition for their efforts. It was also the last time that Lombard would be in for a chance. She did continue to pursue parts that she felt she would succeed in, and while some of them boasted the appeal to be a commercial success, Lombard at best would be lauded by critics, though it wasn’t enough to warrant an Oscar nomination.

prddd

After years of being associated as the ‘Queen of Screwball Comedy’, Carole Lombard was eager to seek out more dramatic roles that would display her true potential as an actress and unleash her seriousness. Lombard did get some exposure in more heavier parts that required a wide spectrum of emotions, but while she excelled in the two marital dramas, Made For Each Other and In Name Only, Lombard was cast in commercially unsuccessful productions like Vigil In The Night and They Knew What They Wanted, which didn’t do anything to enhance her appeal as a dramatic actress, and instead only left her feeling like an unwanted addition to challenging vehicles.

horsey

Inhabiting the thought that audiences only connected with her comedic roles, Lombard returned to her farcical roots as a screwball actress, and became the instrumental force behind Alfred Hitchcock directing Mr. & Mrs. Smith, his most atypical film. The end result was a spectacular outing for both Lombard and Robert Montgomery, and it put Lombard back on the radar.

e6e3383e56cdf0259412d1e3753cc251

Now that Carole Lombard was back on the pedestal, she was determined to stay there. Following the success of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Lombard took a long hiatus away from filming to focus on her marriage to Clark Gable and their Encino ranch. When she did return to the movie cameras she would do her homework before committing to a film, and if she thought that a certain production would tarnish her career she would decline. It was almost a year before Lombard would find a part that she knew would ascend her star status to an even higher pinnacle. The film was Ernst Lubitsch’s proposed production, To Be Or Not To Be, a dark comedy which satirized the Nazi German invasion of Poland.

bvc

To Be Or Not To Be was a triumphant success, and it was expected to open a door full of endless possibilities and new achievements, but sadly Carole Lombard met her doomed fate before the films release, and was killed instantly in the TWA Flight 3 airline disaster that crashed into Potosi Mountain on January 16th, 1942.  The Queen of Screwball Comedy was gone, and missed out on the chance to further mature as an actress, but what she left behind is a lifelong legacy of films, and a screen image that will never fade.

hose-c

Seventy-five years since her passing, Carole Lombard is remembered as an endearing cinematic icon who embodied all the qualities that would transform her into one of America’s most beloved screwball queens. She exuded warmth and vitality as well as epitomizing glamour and sophistication. She will forever be embedded in the hearts of classic film enthusiasts worldwide.
lobb

The following article is an interview by Carole’s photographer Myron H Davis during the War Bond Rally.

INTERVIEW WITH MYRON H. DAVIS. CAROLE LOMBARD’S PHOTOGRAPHER FROM THE WAR BOND RALLY.

war bond tour

Can you talk about the context in which these images were made?

Well, you have to remember that there was a huge amount of patriotism at that time. People were shocked about Pearl Harbor and believed that we were an innocent country that had been viciously attacked. Lombard was very patriotic herself, and was, I believe, the first big Hollywood star to sell raise money for the war effort. Later, of course, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were noted for traveling to overseas bases and putting on big stage shows for the soldiers. But this was the first war bond rally in the country, and I think Lombard’s death inspired other Hollywood stars to follow her example.

Take me through some of her activities on this tour.

Lombard didn’t like flying, and had taken a train from Los Angeles that was bound for Chicago. The train made a brief stop in Salt Lake City on January 13, where she spoke to people waiting on the platform and sold some war bonds.

ser

A photo of Lombard with two servicemen in Salt Lake City on Jan. 13.

Then she got back on the train and proceeded to Chicago, where she sold more bonds and did some interviews. From Chicago she flew to Indianapolis on Wednesday evening, and met her mother at the train station the next morning.

Her first official appearance that day was at the Indiana statehouse. Also attending were the governor [Henry F. Schricker], the publisher of the Indianapolis Star [Eugene C. Pulliam] and Will Hays, who was responsible for the notorious Hays Code of film censorship. The governor made a speech while Lombard stood on a stepstool and personally performed the flag-raising ceremony. She was wearing a fur coat, on account of the cold weather, but she was very down to earth. She didn’t have any “actress” airs about her. After the flag-raising, she signed the first shell fired by the United States in World War I, gave a short speech and then signed autographs for the crowd. I remember that she and the governor and Hays stood in a row at one point and gave the “V for victory” sign for a newsreel camera crew.

Lombard raises the flag as Indiana Gov. Henry F. Schricker addresses the crowd.

Then everybody went inside the statehouse building, where Lombard sold war bonds for about an hour or so. She was very good with the crowds, and very spontaneous. She handed out special receipts to everyone who bought a bond. These receipts had her picture and signature printed on them, plus a special message. I still have one, in fact. It read: “Thank you for joining me in this vital crusade to make America strong. My sincere good wishes go with this receipt which shows you have purchased from me a United States Defense Bond.”

The Lombard war bond rally receipt.

She was then driven to the Claypool Hotel, where she was staying, for another flag-raising event. I think it might have been to commemorate the opening of an armed forces recruitment center. After that she went to the governor’s mansion for a big formal reception — busy day! And then that evening, she appeared at another war bond rally at the Cadle Tabernacle, where she gave a patriotic speech to get the crowd fired up. The last thing she did was to lead the crowd in singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Did you have much personal interaction with her during the tour?

I was with Lombard for three days, traveling all around. She put in a lot of long hours, and I tried to go wherever she went. We passed a few words here and there, but she knew enough about photography to just let me do my job, and I just let her do her thing and documented it.

Your most famous shot of Lombard is the one in which she’s singing the national anthem onstage.

I knew that the Cadle Tabernacle was the last place that she was to perform publicly before heading back to the West Coast. It was this huge auditorium that was standing room only and filled with patriotic signs put up everywhere. When I got up on the stage I saw way back on the far wall this big sign that read, “Sacrifice, Save and Serve.” That pretty much summed up the mood of the country right then, and I said to myself, “Wow. I’ve somehow got to get that sign as part of the image.”

What equipment did you use for this image?

I used my Speed Graphic and Eastman Kodak Double XX film. I had a battery-powered Heiland flashgun on my camera fitted with a reflector and a #3 Wabash Super flash bulb, which was the most powerful one on the market back then. I framed the shot to illuminate both Lombard and part of the audience to her left. I also had a couple of stagehands point flashtubes with #3 flashbulbs at the front and middle rows to help light what was a really large crowd. Fortunately I got a pretty good negative, but when I had to make an 11 x 14 print for Life magazine, I had to dodge and hold back some of the sign in the background to make it legible.

I understand you had a close encounter with Lombard at the airport before she got onto her plane.

I was pretty doggone tired after taking that last picture of her, not realizing what a historical moment it was going to represent. I had to catch a plane at the Indianapolis airport at around three or four in the morning. I took a cab there and arrived early. I was practically the only passenger there. So I’m sitting on this wooden desk, half-asleep, when I sensed somebody come in and sit next to me. I felt a fur coat pressing against the side of my leg. Well, of course I knew it must be a woman, but I was so surprised when I opened my eyes and here was Carole Lombard sitting right next to me! We were so close together it was almost like we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I was so startled that it made her laugh, and then I laughed, too. I guess both of us were the kind of people who tried to see the sunny side of life.

Davis captures Lombard’s ability to connect with people from all walks of life.

I had sensed from the start of working with her that she was a wonderful, down-to-earth lady. Being in Hollywood and being a star and being married to Clark Gable hadn’t gone to her head. So we just sat there and talked about a few of the day’s events. I thanked her for being so cooperative and letting me follow her around and do my thing. And she said, “Well, I was happy to do it, Myron.” I don’t think I called her by her first name. I probably called her Miss Lombard. Being the kind of lady she was, she said early on, “Just call me Carole.” It was a very sincere personal exchange between the two of us thanking each other for working on a job that we both thought was necessary for the country at that time.

Her mother and a Hollywood press agent [Otto Winkler] were also there, standing in front of me. Neither of them spoke much. Carole and I were doing all the talking and laughing until they called her plane. We weren’t there together very long. I would say I talked to her for about five to ten minutes. Her plane was called shortly before mine, and then I got on my plane and fell asleep right away.

Did she talk about her fear of flying?

Yes. She told me she was really afraid of flying, but that she didn’t want to spend three days — and she used this expression — on a choo-choo train to go back to California. So this is another tragic part of it. It was almost like she had a premonition of some kind.

Ever the professional, Lombard held this V for Victory pose until Davis could make the shot.

You didn’t take any photographs of her at the airport?

No, my equipment was checked in, except for my Leica, but I wasn’t going to bother her anymore. I’d been following her around with my camera for three days and nights, and it was obvious that she and her mother were tired, like I was. I always tried not to impose on people.

So your Cadle Tabernacle pictures are the last ones that anyone took of her.

Yes, I’m convinced that’s true. I don’t remember seeing any other photographers at the auditorium. And I don’t think anybody else was at the hotel waiting to take her picture after the event wrapped up. I’m certain that the “Sacrifice, Save and Serve” picture Life ran was the last one taken of Carole Lombard while she was alive.

It must have been quite a shock to hear the news about her death.

I was married at the time and living on the south side of Chicago. We hadn’t been married all that long. I was still in bed trying to get some sleep from all this round-the-clock stuff, when my wife comes in, shakes me, wakes me up and says, “New York is on the phone. They want to talk with you.” It turned out to be Life magazine calling. They said, “Myron! You’re sleeping? Where are your Lombard pictures?” I said, “Well, they’re here with me. What about them?” “Oh, you don’t know? There was a plane crash and she was killed. We want those pictures here. Go downtown, develop the negatives and make four 8 x 10 prints. We’ve arranged for you to go to the Associated Press offices, and they will transmit the pictures to us. We’ll look at them and tell you which one we want. Then go back to the darkroom and make an 11 x 14 print, and then go down to the Donnelly printing plant — which was on 22nd Street just off the lake — and deliver this personally. And you’ve got to do that as fast as you can.” So that’s what I did.

Lombard puts on the charm at the governor’s mansion prior to her final public appearance.

Once the editors in New York knew that the plane had crashed and that Carole Lombard, her mother and her agent had all been killed, they stopped production of the issue they were working on. At that time the editions for the entire country were printed here in Chicago at the R.R. Donnelly printing plant, and then shipped to the New York and the East Coast and the West Coast. They stopped production on that entire issue until I did what they wanted me to do. That may be the one and only time that Life stopped production on an issue.

As it happens, Life ran just the one image of Lombard. Did you try to do anything else with the pictures you took of her?

Some time after it had happened and after I had gotten over the shock of it, I went to the Life darkroom on the fifth floor of the Carbon and Carbide building on Michigan Boulevard. I spent hours making 11 x 14 prints that I had taken during her tour, maybe 25 or 30, boxed them up and sent them to Columbia Studios with a letter addressed to the top executives. The letter read: “This may not be the time to deliver these to Clark Gable. There may, in your opinion, never be a time to deliver these pictures to Clark Gable. But I’m leaving this up to your decision. If you think he might want to have these sometime, please deliver them to Mr. Clark Gable.” I never found out whatever happened to them. I never got a response, not from the studio, and certainly not from Gable. But I don’t believe these shots would have been tossed out.
_________________________________________

Some observations:

* It’s fascinating to hear Davis say Lombard was concerned about flying by air. particularly since we know she had regularly flown with Gable and, in the mid-thirties, even taken flying lessons. She may have been concerned about flying without Clark by her side, or perhaps it was because she was with her mother, who had never flown before.

* I’m not sure why Davis would have mailed the prints to Columbia, where Gable hadn’t worked since making “It Happened One Night” in early 1934. Might Lombard have been discussing her upcoming film, “They All Kissed The Bride,” a Columbia production?

* In Larry Swindell’s biography “Screwball,” he maintains this was the last photo ever taken of Lombard (with her mother):

I do not know whether Davis took this photo; it may have been taken at the Claypool Hotel after the rally and before they left, which would mean it wasn’t taken by him.

Dean Brierly interviewed Davis in 2009. Like Lombard, Davis would be victim to an accident, dying on April 17, 2010 from injuries incurred during a fire at his apartment in Hyde Park, Chicago. He was 90 years old.

Lombard singing God Bless America

Carole Lombard leads a packed house in singing “God Bless America” at the Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis on January 15th, 1942. The last full day of her life. Sadly Carole was killed alongside her beloved mother the very next day after this photo was taken. They boarded the TWA, DC3 plane, to return home to Los Angeles, but they never made it. The plane crashed into Potosi Mountain, and all 22 passengers on board the plane were killed instantly.

This post was written for Carole Lombard: The Profane Angel Blogathon, which was hosted by Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Moviesand myself from In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodTo view the other entries being exhibited during the event, please click here.

carole-banner-1

 

CAROLE LOMBARD: THE PROFANE ANGEL BLOGATHON HAS NOW ARRIVED

 

carole-banner-1

Today is a sad say for classic movie enthusiasts worldwide, as it was on this date seventy-five years ago that Carole Lombard met her doomed fate on the catastrophic airline disaster that extinguished her young and illustrious light.

It is for this reason that Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and myself have decided to keep her memory alive by hosting a blogathon ( which commences today ) in her honor.

Once you have finished your posts, please send them to either Laura or myself, and we’ll happily link your post to that days recap. Once again thank you to those of you who are participating. We look forward to reading your entries.

carole-banner-3

THE ENTRIES:

Mike’s Take On The Movies: Virtue ( 1932 )

That William Powell Site: Carole Lombard – Immortal

The Old Hollywood Garden: Twentieth Century ( 1934 )

Taking Up Room: My Man Godfrey ( 1936 )

Carole and Co: Fireball ( the revised edition )

A Shroud Of Thoughts: Mr. and Mrs. Smith ( 1941 )

Critica Retro: Now and Forever ( 1934 )

Silver Screenings: Nothing Sacred ( 1937 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Hands Across The Table ( 1935 )

Wide Screen World: Made For Each Other ( 1939 )

 The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog: Lady By Choice ( 1934 )

The Stop Button: Vigil In The Night ( 1940 )

Back To Golden Days: Carole Lombard’s final hours

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Carole Lombard’s childhood home, and the Great Flood of 1913

Whimsically Classic: Carole Lombard and Lucille Ball

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: The Princess Comes Across ( 1936 )

Classic Movie Hub: Carole Lombard and Clark Gable pictorial

Cinema Cities: To Be Or Not To Be ( 1942 )

Karavansara: To Be Or Not To Be ( 1942 )

Real Weedgie Midget Reviews: Nothing Sacred ( 1937 )

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Carole Lombard’s sapphires 

Christina Wehner: Made For Each Other ( 1939 )

Movie Rob: To Be Or Not To Be ( 1942 )

Movie Rob: Made For Each Other ( 1939 )

Old Hollywood Films: Carole Lombard: Screwball Queen

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: My Man Godfrey ( 1936 )

The Flapper Dame: In Name Only ( 1939 )

ANNOUNCING THE SECOND ANNUAL BETTE DAVIS BLOGATHON

bette-davis-feet-396168

A virtuoso of motion pictures, Bette Davis was an indomitable actress whose versatility and scripted brand of artistry was showcased in an array of memorable productions that have left an indelible mark on cinematic history.

Earlier this year I hosted the Bette Davis Blogathon, which took place over her birthday weekend in April. Because the blogathon was such a success, I have decided to make it an annual event. This time however, I’m bringing the blogathon forward to March. The reason for this is that Bette shares a birthday with three other legendary icons from the silver screen, and some might consider it unfair that I honor Bette with a blogathon while the other three get left out. I also decided to hold it on these dates because March 26th marks the 79th anniversary of the release of Jezebel, the film in which Bette received her second Academy Award for her performance.

bette_davis_in_the_bad_sister

BLOGATHON RULES:

1. Participants are welcome to write about any subject relating to Bette Davis or any aspect of her life and career. As long as the topic relates to Bette or her filmography, I’ll accept it.

2. Because Bette Davis has an extensive resume of films, I will be allowing no more than two duplicates. There are a wealth of topics regarding Bette. Remember, your choice doesn’t have to be a movie. If you have a subject in mind, act fast.

3. When: The Blogathon will be held on March 24th – 26th, 2017, so please post your entries on either of these dates.

4. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog, along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: carolelombardforever@yahoo.com. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by advertising the event on your blog. Below are a few banners, so grab yourself a banner, and let’s celebrate the unparalleled talents of Bette Davis.

bette-blogathon

bette-blogathon-5

bette-blogathon-1

bette-blogathon-2

bette-blogathon-3

bette-blogathon-4

ROSTER, WITH THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING BLOGS:

In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodTBA

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: The Letter ( 1940 )

Christina Wehner: Kid Galahad ( 1937 )

Smitten Kitten Vintage: Jezabel ( 1938 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Bette Davis and Errol Flynn movies.

Gary Pedroni: Guest post on In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve ( 1950 )

A Shroud Of Thoughts: Now Voyager ( 1942 )

The Dream Book: Bette Davis in All About Eve ( 1950 ) and The Star ( 1952 )

Real Weedgie Midget Reviews: Burnt Offerings ( 1976 )

Silver Screenings: Phone Call From A Stranger ( 1952 )

Back To Golden Days: Dark Victory ( 1939 )

The Stop Button: The Little Foxes ( 1941 )

Taking Up Room: Now Voyager ( 1942 ), Bette’s real life involvement with the war effort, and the Hollywood Canteen, and Of Human Bondage ( 1934 )

Old Hollywood Films: Bette Davis, and the Hollywood Canteen

The Flapper Dame: The Man Who Came To Dinner ( 1942 )

Katrina Selby: Guest post on In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Bette Davis: Pint Sized Pioneer.

Critica Retro: Bette Davis and William Wyler

Lauren Champkin: The Letter ( 1940 )

The Old Hollywood Garden: The Petrified Forest ( 1936 )

Goose Pimply All Over: Bette Davis’ appearance on Dick Cavett

Karavansara: Death On The Nile ( 1978 )

Life’s Daily Lessons Blog: Of Human Bondage ( 1934 )

Silver Scenes: The Corn Is Green ( 1945 ) and The Catered Affair ( 1956 )

Cinematic Scribblings: In This Our Life ( 1942 )

Thoughts All Sorts: All About Eve ( 1950 )

Whimsically Classic: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? ( 1962 )

Finding Franchot: Bette Davis and Franchot Tone career and personal connections

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins

Girls Do Film: The Old Maid ( 1939 )

Critica Retro: Bette Davis and William Wyler

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: Deception ( 1946 )

KIRK DOUGLAS REACHES HIS 100TH CENTENARY

“I think half the success in life comes from first trying to find out what you really want to do. And then going ahead and doing it.”

uyy

Kirk Douglas, the prominent actor whose immense talent was showcased in ninety-one acting credits celebrated his 100th birthday on December 9th, 2016. Noted for his trademark cleft chin, steely eyes and chiseled smile, Douglas rose from poverty and became a cinematic icon of the silver screen.

da518ab7045c6d9cf4eaf09c26c8bc8f

Even though acting was a profession that seemed impossible to a family who was trapped in a life of financial ruin, little Issur Danielovitch was destined to be a star from the moment he entered the world on December 9th, 1916. The baby with the glistening blue eyes who delivered a multitude of happiness into their dreary existence was the prized package of his Jewish immigrant parents, Bryna Bertha Sanglel, and Herschel Harry Danielovitch, a rag-man, who was constantly fighting for a dollar to support his family.

kirk-douglas-bryna

Living an impoverished lifestyle was not easy for a teenager with big dreams. Once he was old enough, Issur, who was now known as Izzy Demsky was forced to take on menial duties, which included selling snacks to mill-workers and delivering newspapers, so he could earn enough money to provide his family with food and the daily essentials. After working in a total of forty jobs, Demsky started to yearn for an auspicious and rewarding career, but with his inadequate funds, Izzy realized that it would take years to climb the ladder to success.

kirk-douglas-hs-photo

For a while, Izzy was unsure with what career path he should follow. However, while he was in high school he developed a profound interest in becoming an actor, and from that moment on he instantly knew that his dream destination was going to be Hollywood, a place that seemed far away to Izzy, who was trying his hardest to elude the cramped and stifling conditions in which he and his six sisters lived in at home.

b896959af605493261c26d714ebba68b

Dreaming of becoming an actor was a lot easier than to become one, but Izzy was determined that not even a price tag was going to get in the way of him achieving his dreams. Unable to afford tuition, he managed to talk his way into the Dean’s office at St. Lawrence University, where he presented them with a list of his previous accomplishments. The professor was that impressed with his resume that he offered him a loan, which he was to pay back once he attained steady employment.

f492504a73a24bd2614307e0b3138b26

For Izzy Demsky, this seemed like a long road that would entail plenty of setbacks, but not long after embarking on his acting expedition, Izzy secured a placement at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a prestige performing arts conservatory that helped launch the careers of a plethora of notable talents, who would soon adorn the silver screen. While studying at the academy he met an ambitious young student named Betty Joan Perske, who would later be known as Lauren Bacall. The two developed a great rapport and became close friends. Bacall, who was eight years his junior also grew up in poverty, and knew what it was like to be constantly low on funds. However, Bacall felt sorry for Demsky, and did all she could to help him out, but the most effective thing she did was being the instrumental force behind his motion picture establishment.

image-3

“I thought he must be frozen in the winter …. He was thrilled and grateful.” Sometimes, just to see him, she would drag a friend or her mother to the restaurant where he worked as a busboy and waiter. He told her his dream was to someday bring his family to New York to see him on stage. During that period she fantasized about someday sharing her personal and stage life with Douglas, but would later be disappointed: “Kirk did not really pursue me. He was friendly and sweet–enjoyed my company–but I was clearly too young for him.”

( Lauren Bacall on Kirk Douglas )

After a brief stint in The United States Navy, Izzy Demsky, who had legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before he entered the navy, returned to New York to pursue a career in acting. The only position available for an individual with his range of experience was radio work and appearances in theater and commercials. However, this type of work didn’t exactly fulfill any major goals, but it did open the door to many endless possibilities, as well as providing him with the opportunity to make his mark on stage in 1943, by replacing Richard Widmark in Kiss and Tell.

image_content_high_2105746_20140813024514

On November 2nd, 1943, Kirk Douglas took time away from the theater to marry, Diana Dill. The marriage was not always a happy reunion, but it did produce two childen, Michael, who was born in 1944, and Joel, born 1947. The couple divorced in 1951.

Kirk Douglas [& Family];Michael Douglas

After a few years of considerable success on the stage, Douglas was content with his profession, and wanted to make that his life’s work. However, Lauren Bacall, who was already permanently established in Hollywood had different plans. She thought that Douglas should embark on a career in movies. If he was going to embrace motion pictures like he did the stage, he would receive triumphant results, and would be set for life. Initially Douglas was hesitant, and uncertain with what a future in film would bring, but when Bacall approached director, Hal Wallis, who was canvassing around for a new male talent, Douglas capitulated, and agreed to take the plunge.

kirk

Hollywood was a totally different world to Kirk Douglas. It was foreign territory, a place that he would never have dreamed of visiting, but now after all these years, Douglas found himself in the movie capital of the world, and under the spell of Hal Wallis, who wanted Douglas to make his screen debut opposite Barbara Stanwyck in The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers, a film that would transform Douglas into a bona fide star.

strange-love-of-martha_main1520

Unlike a plethora of stars whose film debuts are brief cameos, The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers, was an ideal production for a newcomer. Douglas played Walter O’Neil, an insecure district attorney, who is stung by jealousy and the brutal domination of his wife. This was the only time that Douglas would play a weakling, but even though his role was dissimilar to his usual tough and unyielding characters with a strong demeanor, Douglas already exuded all the qualities of a consummate and seasoned actor.

the-strange-love-of-martha-ivers-1946-1

With a new life, and a career transformation, Kirk Douglas was planted in a reputable position in Hollywood. His performance in The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers, led to supporting roles in Mourning Becomes Electra, and, Out Of The Past, among other lauded performances that would ultimately lead Douglas down the path to super stardom.

kirk-douglas-out-of-the-past

A polished professional from the very beginning, Douglas had only made eight films when he received his first Academy Award nomination for his role as Midge in Champion. Upon its release, critics and sports historians stated that Douglas’s acting was alarmingly authentic, perfectly executing every element of his character.

chas

Whatever role he graced, Kirk Douglas always delivered his own scripted brand of artistry to the film. Throughout the 1950’s, Douglas appeared in an array of diverse roles that garnered him critical acclaim. In 1951, he was given the opportunity to reunite with his friend Lauren Bacall when he played the counterpart to Bacall’s character in Young Man With A Horn. 

th-32

The 1950’s, was a busy decade for Kirk Douglas. It was during this period that his star status catapulted to an even higher pinnacle. Along with churning out picture after picture, Douglas formed Bryna Productions in 1955, a movie company that is named after his mother. Despite the fact that he had to cancel contracts with Hal Wallis and Warner Brothers’, Bryna Productions opened up even greater opportunities, and now Kirk Douglas was producing his own films as well as starring in them.

kirk-d

The following year he was cast as Vincent Van Gogh in Lust For Life, a biographical picture about the tortured artist whose revolutionary paintings still continue to have a great impact on aspiring artists. The film was an overall success, and Douglas received another Academy Award nomination, but was sadly robbed of the Oscar. Instead his co-star Anthony Quinn won for Best Supporting Actor.

annex-douglas-kirk-lust-for-life_08

While filming Lust For Life, Douglas met Anne Duydens, who was working as producer. The couple married on May 29th, 1954, and had two children, Peter and Eric Douglas. More than sixty year later, Douglas and Anne still endure a marriage filled with peace and happiness.

anne-douglas-2

Most of Kirk Douglas’s films that were released around this time were successful. As well as being the executive producer, he played the lead role in the star-studded production, Spartacus. The film was considered to be among the most expensive ever made, but the end result was worth all the effort. Screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was on the Hollywood Blacklist received full credit for his work in the picture, and after all the merits he attained, the Blacklist was effectively ended. Douglas later stated, “I’ve made over 85 pictures, but the thing I’m most proud of is breaking the blacklist.”

annex-douglas-kirk-spartacus_nrfpt_07

Breaking the Blacklist was a risky venture for someone like Douglas who held a prominent reign over Hollywood. After years of being in a prestige position, Douglas now feared for his career, which was under threat, but he was pleased that he did it, and as it turned out, he managed to escape any altercations regarding his career.

gvcc

During the course of the next few decades he would go on to appear in more films with his frequent co-star, Burt Lancaster. In total, Douglas and Lancaster made seven films together, and would both sort out independent Hollywood careers as an actor and producer.

douglas1985_606

Kirk Douglas was one of those stars who never stopped working. He remained positively active well into the 21st century, and gave his last performance in the 2008 television movie, Empire State Building Murders, a tribute that celebrates American Film Noir and the icons of Hollywood’s golden age.

gff

Despite being injured in a helicopter collision in 1991, suffering a severe stroke in 1996, which left him with a speaking impairment, and losing his son Eric from a drug overdose in 2004, Kirk Douglas has remained largely active in the public eye. Throughout his life he has donated to numerous charity organizations, and along with his wife Anne, he engages himself in volunteer and philanthropic activities. With sheer dedication and devotion to their work, Douglas and his wife Anne have traveled to more than forty countries at their own expense to act as Goodwill Ambassadors for the U.S Information Agency.

doug-mi

The recipe to Kirk Douglas’ success is that he never stopped acting. In a career that spans over sixty years, Douglas is considered to be a treasure to the film industry. His multitude of achievements along with his contribution to motion pictures will continue to leave an indelible mark on cinematic history.

yfd

Happy 100th Birthday Kirk, and here’s to many more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOGATHON IS HERE

agnes-cand

After months of impatiently waiting, the Agnes Moorehead Blogathon has finally arrived. during the course of the next few days a plethora of illustrious bloggers will be paying tribute to Agnes by submitting articles that cover a wide array of topics regarding this legendary actress, who has left an indelible mark on cinematic history.

I look forward to reading all your entries, and I know that Agnes herself will be thrilled to know that her territory is finally being charted in the blogasphere. This is for Aggie.

agnes-mooreead-bogathon

THE AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOGATHON ENTRIES:

The Midnight Drive-In: Night Mare On The Farm: Agnes Moorehead in The Invaders from The Twilight Zone

Thoughts All Sorts: How The West Was Won ( 1962 )

Musings Of A Classic Film Addict: Agnes’ early life, and Citizen Kane ( 1941 )

Crimson Kimono: Untamed (  1955 )

Caftan Woman: Station West ( 1948 )

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Silver Scenes: Agnes Moorehead profile ( Life story )

Taking Up Room: Since You Went Away ( 1944 )

The Dream Book Blog: Agnes Moorehead’s aborted performance in “The Magnificent Ambersons”  ( 1942 )

Moon In Gemini: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte ( 1964 )

The Incredible Thinking Woman: Agnes Moorehead: Unsung Feminist Icon

Taking Up Room: Our Vines Have Tender Grapes ( 1945 ) 

The Stop Button: Journey Into Fear ( 1943 )

Karavansara: The Bat ( 1959 )

Reelweedgie Midget Reviews: Agnes’ voice behind Charlotte’s Web ( 1973 )

The Flapper Dame: The Magnificent Obsession ( 1954 )

A Shroud Of Thoughts: Agnes Moorehead’s radio career

Critica Retro: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Minoo Allen. Guest post on the Classic Movie Hub: All That Heaven Allows ( 1955 )

Old Hollywood Films: The Magnificent Ambersons ( 1942 )

Apocalypse Later: Dear Dead Delilah ( 1972 )

Finding Franchot: Without Honor ( 1949 ) and the television career paths of Agnes and Franchot Tone

Taking Up Room: The Bat ( 1959 )

Life’s Daily Lessons Blog: Before The Witch: The Fabulous Agnes Moorehead 

Christina Wehner: The Lost Moment ( 1947 )

Defiant Success: Agnes Moorehead’s Oscar nominated performances

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: The Woman In White ( 1948 )

Classic Film: Flickers Of Silver and Gold: The Golden Voice of Agnes Moorehead

THE AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOGATHON COMMENCES TOMORROW

aggie-blogathon

After months of impatiently waiting, I’m pleased as punch to be finally honoring the legendary Agnes Moorehead for three days, commencing tomorrow, and finishing on Tuesday December 6th, which would have been Agnes’ 116th birthday.

For those bloggers who are participating in the blogathon, please send your articles to my blog on any of the dates, and I’ll post them up on that days recap. I look forward to reading all of your entries. Thank you.

agnes-blogathon-banner

THE MAGIC OF KATE AND CARY

“We got on well, Cary and I. It was fun to play with him, and I think he had a good time too. People liked us together, so we enjoyed it,”

dsa

In the spirited life of Katharine Hepburn lived Spencer Tracy, a unique and complex individual who made movie magic with Hepburn in a nine film collaboration, which spanned from 1942 to 1967, but before the evolution of this legendary dynamic duo was the famed partnership of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, who helped pave the way for each others future success in motion pictures.

ttttttttttttttt

As far as many audiences are concerned, Katharine Hepburn’s ascent to super-stardom was fueled by Spencer Tracy, and their highly extolled on-screen romance, but in truth, Hepburn was already an established star in Hollywood, and had reached the pinnacle of success long before Tracy entered the picture. After making her film debut in A Bill Of Divorcement ( 1932 ), Katharine Hepburn had formed two notable partnerships with director, George Cukor, and Cary Grant, in which they appeared in four movies together.

ghf

In many ways, the teaming of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn is just as pivotal as her celebrated association with Spencer Tracy. In addition to possessing that unique flair for Screwball Comedy along with their magnetic chemistry that had the power to lure audiences, both stars inhabited similar personalities, and were not afraid to admit that they shunned the spotlight, and often refused interviews.

ade

Even though the partnership of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn was only short-lived, and was later eclipsed by her unparalleled collaboration with Spencer Tracy, the four films that they did appear in together are among the best of both stars, and will continue to leave an indelible mark on cinematic history.

obb

Their first film, Sylvia Scarlett may not have been as commercially successful as their other three outings, but it did open the door to many endless opportunities, as well as introducing audiences to this iconic couple whose sheer magnetism and zest for life are clearly evident in all four of their vehicles. In fact, if it weren’t for Sylvia Scarlett, the likeness of this screen-team may not have spawned the three Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant comedy extravaganzas that followed.

annex-hepburn-katharine-philadelphia-story-the_08

By the time the two made Sylvia Scarlett in 1935, both stars were secure in the motion picture industry, but hadn’t yet garnered the popularity or the prominent status that they would attain as time progressed. Cary Grant already had twenty-two acting credits to his resume, and was cemented in a reputable position in Hollywood, while Katharine Hepburn, who had made her movie debut the same year as Grant, had a total of nine films to her credit, and had already received her first of four Academy Awards two years earlier for her performance in Morning Glory ( 1933 )

ffh-nissa-in-what-looks-like-a-promo-shot-on-the-set-of-bringing-up-baby-1938-1

While exhausting your way through the four film collaboration of Hepburn and Grant, you come to discover that their ephemeral partnership was a gift from heaven. These were two stars who produced magic together, and had the talent to reduce you to laughter even when your facing your darkest days, and a smile is the hardest thing to pull off. It’s a huge shame that after sending sparks fly in The Philadelphia Story, Cary Grant would never share the screen with Katharine Hepburn again. I personally would have liked to have seen Cary Grant appear alongside both Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in a movie, but I can only dream.

“She was this slip of a woman and I never liked skinny women. But she had this thing, this air you might call it, the most totally magnetic woman I’d ever seen, and probably ever seen since. You had to look at her, you had to listen to her; there was no escaping her.”

( Cary Grant on Katharine Hepburn )

annex-grant-cary-bringing-up-baby_10

SYLVIA SCARLETT ( 1935 )

Directed by: George Cukor: Starring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Brian Aherne, and Edmund Gwenn.

In a film that floundered at the box office, Katharine Hepburn is given the opportunity to return to her childhood roots by playing, Sylvia Scarlett, a young girl who disguises herself as a boy, so her and her father, Henry Scarlett ( Edmund Gwenn ) can flee the country to elude embezzlement charges, and escalating troubles with the law. Along the way they meet and get involved with con-man, Jimmy Monkley ( Cary Grant ), who encourages them to join him in brief crime stints.

The film was initially considered to be a romantic comedy, and went as far to be labeled as one. However, on it’s release, the reaction from audiences was less than enthusiastic with critics complaining that it lacked the sublety of a comedy. Instead what we are given is a production that delves more into the facets of dark comedy.

cary-grant-and-katharine-hepburn

BRINGING UP BABY ( 1938 )

Directed by: Howard Hawks: Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Charlie Ruggles.

Bringing Up Baby is a cinematic masterpiece that truly epitomizes Screwball Comedy. In this glorious and cheerful extravaganza, Cary Grant plays David Huxley, a zoology professor who acquires one million dollars to complete the brontosaurus skeleton at his museum, but when he is pursued by Susan Vance ( Katharine Hepburn ), a flighty and maniacal heiress, he becomes embroiled in a series of complicated disasters that jeopardize everything that David has worked so hard for.

Bringing Up Baby is arguably the funniest and wittiest movie ever made. It is because of this that it simply cannot be surpassed. However, back in 1938, the film flopped dramatically, and was considered a commercial failure, but in the years that followed the film has attained the recognition that it so rightfully deserves, and now seventy-eight years since it’s release, Bringing Up Baby is considered to be the true definition of Screwball Comedy.

bringingupbabyrep

HOLIDAY ( 1938 )

Directed by: George Cukor: Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Edward Everett, and Lew Ayres.

Made shortly after Bringing Up Baby, Holiday is an entertaining romantic comedy that explores the economical status and the social class of two people from different walks of life. When Johnny Case (  Cary Grant ), a man who hails from menial beginnings, falls in love with the rich society girl, Julia Seton, he plans to marry and spend the immediate years of his marriage on holiday, But what he don’t realize is that he’s plans are obstructed by Julia and her father, who envision a successful life in business for Johnny. However, things take an unexpected turn when he discovers that Julia’s sister, Linda ( Katharine Hepburn ) supports his idea of a free way of life.

Holiday is considered an underrated masterpiece, and was recently labeled as one of George Cukor’s finest films, although on it’s initial release, it opened to critical acclaim. Financially the film was not a success with audiences during the Great Depression, who were struggling to find work, but despite the negative response from audiences, Holiday was not totally disastrous, as critics held it in high regard.

holiday

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY ( 1940 )

Directed by: George Cukor: Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, Roland Young, and Virginia Weidler.

After a few years of being crowned “Box Office Poison”, Katharine Hepburn was back on the radar, and had catapulted to her zenith after starring in The Philadelphia Story, a cinematic masterpiece that tells the story of Tracy Lord ( Katharine Hepburn ), a Philadelphia socialite, who is on the verge of marrying the affluent aspiring politician, George Kittredge two years after divorcing, C.K. Dexter Haven ( Cary Grant ). For a wedding that was originally anticipated as a formal affair for selected elite guests, Tracy is shocked to discover that C.K. Dexter Haven has arrived on the scene the day before the wedding with two assigned reporters, Mike Connor ( James Stewart ) and Liz Imbrie ( Ruth Hussey ), who are required to cover the wedding.

Initially Katharine Hepburn wanted Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable as her co-stars in The Philadelphia Story , but when word came back that both actors were busy with other commitments the respective roles went to Cary Grant and James Stewart. At first, Hepburn was a bit disappointed that Tracy was unavailable. Hepburn didn’t need to worry however, as two years later her wish would finally be granted when she was teamed alongside Tracy in Woman Of The Year, the film that made them embark on a glorious and passionate love affair that remained a secret for years.

The Philadelphia Story received six Academy Award nominations. James Stewart won the award for “Best Actor”, and Donald Ogden Stewart attained the Oscar for “Best Screenplay”, while the film received another four nominations for best leading actress, best supporting actress (Ruth Hussey), best director, best picture.

phyt

That brings us to the end of Katharine Hepburn’s journey with Cary Grant. After the triumphant success of The Philadelphia Story, both stars went their own separate ways, and followed a different road to even greater acclaim. Cary Grant made his foray into more challenging roles that would lead to him becoming the prominent figure in four Alfred Hitchcock productions, while Katharine Hepburn would go on to make history with Spencer Tracy.

cary-grant_katharine-hepburn_holiday

 This post is part of The Cary Grant Blogathon, hosted by my friend Laura at Phyllis Loves Classic MoviesPlease be sure to visit the other entries being exhibited during this event.