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Frances Dee Fans


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Hi, Susan:

 

I don't know what I can add about the "Fashion Show" episode, but I will tell you what I know.

 

As you probably know, this episode happened when the Ricardo and Mertzes went out west to old California. I remember the John Wayne episode (two parts) with the footprints. I remember Harpo Marx. I also remember the two hilarious episodes with William Holden, where she sets her nose on fire.

 

The "Fashion Show" episode I don't remember as much, except I think Lucy was wearing a costume trying to emulate Carmen Miranda, although I may be getting the episodes mixed up. Anyway, here goes. Lucy overhears a conversation on the phone with Sheila MacRae (then married to Gordon MacRae, of "Oklahoma" and "Carousel" fame). It seems they are missing one celebrity woman for the fashion. It seems that Frances Dee McCrea dropped out of the fashion show at the last minute. She couldn't appear in the show because she was on her way to Europe. That means they need a new celebrity woman for the fashion show. Of course, the light bulb goes off in Lucy Ricardo's head. Being the wife of a famous musician, she does her usual scheming and winds up in the fashion show.

 

Now, whether Frances was originally supposed to be in this episode, I do not know or not. However, Susan, I bought my mother a nice "hardcover" book on "I Love Lucy" a few years back. I just glanced through it to try and find the fashion show episode because I have a theory about it. Mind you, it's just a theory, but it has to do with the date of the show: February 28, 1955.

 

My theory is this. Perhaps Frances Dee had signed on to do an episode of "I Love Lucy." I think her last acting job was some live television theater stuff done in December 1954. What I think, Susan, is that after Frances signed up for the show, she discovered that she was pregnant. I don't know exactly how far in advance these episodes are shot. This was one of the later episodes (during second half of season). However, if Frances, in fact, was supposed to appear on the show, her becoming pregnant would have precluded her appearing on the show. Let's face it, Susan. This was not the days of someone like Demi Moore posing in the "Emperor's New Clothes," so to speak. Pregnant women did not appear in fashion shows back then, period. Well, of course, instead of just merely replacing Frances with another actress, they decided to keep Frances' in the script, albeit only being talked about (but never seen) and Lucy takes her place. Of course, this is pure conjecture on my part. It could be wrong.

 

In her early career, Lucille Ball worked at RKO; so did the McCreas. Also, one of Lucy's first film roles was in that, as you put it, that most unusual of Ms. Dee's movies, "Blood Money," where she wants a "man who will take charge of her." I'm going to order both "Blood Money" and "So Ends Our Night" from the TCM shop. My mother is a big Glenn Ford fan, another underrated actor. I know that Joel knew Carole Lombard back from Hollywood School for Girls. Gable and Lombard were good friends with Andy Devines, who were good friends with the McCreas. Joel and Andy knew each other from college, I believe. Lucy was also good friends with Lombard and was crushed by her death, as was most of Hollywood.

 

What I am saying is that it is very possible that Frances maybe was supposed to appear on the show, but dropped out for one reason or another. She could have also just told Lucy to go ahead and use her name. Who knows? I do find it, interesting, though, the time the episode appeared. Lucy did have a baby on television. However, she was not walking down the runway in a fashion show.

 

Take care. I'm glad you like the magazine.

 

Deborah

 

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Hi Susan, Feaito and everyone else.

 

My AOL files got damaged; so, I had to look for an AOL disk so I could reload the files. The computer company I bought my computer from gave me all of the backup files except AOL. This is the first time I've posted since I got the new file, and it seems to be working. So, hopefully, I won't have any more problems with posting.

 

I'm glad I like the stories I told you. I have a couple of more. In one article, Frances talked about how Gary liked to hunt. She said he would shoot at anything moving. I don't know if you've read through that whole article I sent you, but Gary would come out to the ranch a lot to hunt. One time, he accidentally shot an eagle that was residing more or less as a pet on the ranch. He was very sorry about it, but there was nothing anyone could do. I guess Joel went hunting on occasion as well, although Frances said Joel wasn't much of a hunter. I know Joel was big into volleyball, tennis, swimming, and riding, as far as sports he liked to do.

 

If he had had the ambition, I'm sure Joel could have been a championship Olympic swimmer. I read somewhere he won several amateur championships. You ought to get along on the other website to see a picture of Joel at the beach when he was around probably fouteen months, with his entire family. Joel told another hunting story with Gary, where after he was done shooting, Gary sat down for awhile and talked about the European situation. He said to Joel, "That European situation is one hell of a mess." In the 1939 article, Joel said, "Everything Gary predicted happening did happen.

 

As Feaito said, Joel and Gary could have been brothers. Joel told some guy with "Boston Globe" that he and Gary used to trade off clothes because they wore the same size. They traded everything except shoes. Joel said he wore a size 12; Gary was a size 12. I know the families remained close over the years, even after Gary's death. Both Peter McCrea and Maria Cooper are involved in this Moda Television thing. Joel also talked about deep-sea fishing with Cooper. He said Gary used to tie lines of string together on the rod after putting some bait on the end of it. Cooper would watch amused as a couple of "outraged" seagulls fought over the bait. However, Joel added the the string was never tied tight enough that the seagulls would really have much trouble.

 

It's funny when you think of it, Susan, how alike Joel and Gary were in some ways; how different they were in other ways. Gary's mother was definitely the domineering type and definitely ruled the roost. On the other hand, while Joel's mother Lou was definitely a strong woman (as well as an early graduate of University of California), she was not the pushy type the way Gary's mother was. I got the impression Lou had definite opinions, while her husband still remained the head of the household. She also allowed her children to develop independence at an early age, while Gary's mother was the clinging type, at least to Gary. I read somewhere that Gary was dressed in girl's clothing unti around the age of five, because some gypsy woman told Alice Cooper she would have a girl. Of course, she had a boy and ignored the older brother after Gary was born. Both Gary, Joel, and Frances were the youngest members of their respective families.

 

I don't know if Joel's folks ever met the Coopers, but I'm sure they would have found Alice's babying of her son quite bizarre. Joel very definitely had both a very strong male and female influence in his life. I got the definite feeling that he was close to his entire family, including his two older siblings. His brother John became a successful businessman up in the Bay area, as well as a vineyard owner up in Sonoma County. His father and Will Rogers were the two major male influence in his life.

 

However, I have a feeling Joel was the closest to his sister, Lois, mainly because, number one, Lois lived a lot closer than John did. Second of all, big-sister Lois was responsible in a lot of ways for the Joel McCrea we all know and love, the Western hero. I found something interesting in this 1976 Photoplay interview with Joel.

 

You would never guess who first put Joel on the horse and told him how to ride? It was none other than big sister Lois, when Joel was nine and his sister 15. They went to some horse barn on Ogden and Hollywood Boulevard. Joel said the first horse he was on was some kind of racehorse that took off at breakneck speed with him on, for around six miles. When the horse was stopped, Joel had had enough and did not want to see another horse. However, Joel's sister told him to get back on the horse.

 

Here is what Joel said. "My sister, Lois, was an excellent rider. After this incident, I did not want to see another horse. However, Lois was older than I was. She said to me, 'You have to get on again.' I did, and that's where I fell in love with riding.

 

Joel McCrea had a very interesting family. Those pictures of Joel and John as real small children, you could tell right away they were brothers. Joel and John resembled their father more, while Lois resembled her mother more. Of courese, there was a lot of both parents in all three children, as would be expected.

 

Take care, everyone.

 

Deborah

 

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Hi, Feaito:

 

I realized, after looking at the posts, that I made some typos. Joel wore a size 12, while Gary wore a size ten shoe. However, there always seemed to be this kind of sickly quality to Gary. I mean, Joel always seemed the picture of health, and I guess he was, up until almost the end of his life. I believe that one three-week stint in the hospital was the only time Joel was ever in a hospital in his life (at least, in a "Modern Screen" article from the 1970's he said he had never been in one--lucky guy). I've read a couple of biographies of Cooper, and he always seemed to have one problem or another. For instance, he breaks a hip in a motorcycle accident and is unaware of it until many years later, when he is in the hospital for something else. He also suffered from jaundice and many other ailments, until cancer finally took his life.

 

It's funny, Feaito, but Joel McCrea said in the 1976 "Modern Screen" article that he had not even realized how sick Gary was. He called him up and Gary couldn't come to the phone. So, he went to see him, and that's when he found out how ill he was. It was very hard for Joel because he and Cooper were such good friends. Rocky kept in touch with the McCreas after Gary died, even though she was on East Coast. I also find it ironic how Rocky, Pat Neal, and Maria Cooper all became friends in later years. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

 

I think maybe part of the reason Frances was hesitant to go out with Joel at first was because Joel was so popular with the ladies. His friendship with Cooper might have made her a little hesitant as well, given Gary's reputation as a lady's man, or as Carole Lombard called him, "Studs." I hope no one mines my using this word. Maybe Frances thought birds of a feather flock together. Besides "Souls At Sea," she and Gary also were in "If I Have a Million" and "Man From Wyoming." Some relative (years ago) gave me a copy of a lobby card from the latter film. Frances is sure wearing a strange uniform for a nurse.

 

People tried to introduce Joel and Frances for anywhere up to six months to three years, depending on what story you believe. Six months sounds more reasonable, but who knows. It's so funny that most of these magazine stories have slightly different versions of how they met or when the first time they met was. Well, all the incidents probably happened within a short while of each other.

 

I'm goign to try and see if I can get a copy of that one story of the Hollywood fathers from another library who might have some of these old magazines on file. You never know. I'm glad I didn't purchase that other magazine because it was missing some pages, something the person who sold it did mention, though.

 

I finally got "Rich Man's Folly," which I'm going to watch sometime this week, as well as "Patrick the Great." The reviews of the day thought Frances outacted George Bancroft. However, in an 80-minute time slot, it's going to have to extremely condense the 900 page book by Dickens. It's also Dickents in a modern setting.

 

Gary and Frances enjoyed working together. Gary said he thought the love story between Olympe Bradna (the only living cast member) and George Raft was more interesting than the more conventional one he had with Frances.

 

Take care, everyone.

 

Deborah

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Debbie, thanks for all this informative information for

years watching "I Love Lucy" i am a avid fan was wondering why Frances Dee in particular was mentioned in

the Fashion Show episode now i know !!!!thanks again

for clearing the matter once and for all have agreat summer break from school!....

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Hi, Joann and Feaito:

 

I'm really glad you guys like my stories. I enjoy bringing them to you. I've been a fan of both McCreas since I was in high school, quite a few years ago. I've collected a bunch of movie magazines and read some books on other stars and other interviews of them. However, sometimes not everything you read in movie magazines is 100% accurate. That is why I try to say where the stories came from. I just want to be careful about posting something that may not be true.

 

For instance, Joann, that stuff about "I Love Lucy" was pure supposition on my part, based on when the episode aired. I do think the Carmen Miranda bit was another episode, one in New York. I really do not remember the "fashion show" episode all that well, except reading about it online and in the book. Just based on when the show aired, I'm thinking maybe Frances was supposed to do it and then couldn't. I cannot imagine that Lucy would use Frances' name in the episode without her permission.

 

I know Lucy had a small role in "Blood Money," which I might get in the near future. I think her only scene in the movie was with George Bancroft, who is the lead in the film. He is Frances' so-called paramour in this film. Bancroft played her father in "Rich Man's Folly."

 

I just want to make sure that perhaps not everything I've posted is 100% accurate. I am not an expert, by any means. I'm just a fan, like you guys.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

 

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Hi, everyone:

 

I finally got a chance to watch "Rich Man's Folly" the other night. As I think I've mentioned earlier, this is loosely based on the Charles Dickens novel, "Dombey and Son." Instead of a period piece, one gets a modern telling of the tale, set during the period of 1922-1931 (the beginning of Great Depression).

 

Now, to the basic plot of the movie. George Bancroft plays the Dombey role, in the persona of one Brock Trumbull V, shipbuilder extraordinarie. His company dates back to 1780, when the first Trumbull built it. He has a friendly rivalry with this one competitor, Robert Ames, who at one time had been romancing the same woman as Bancroft, played by Dorothy Peterson, an underrated actress. Trumbull was older and more established than Ames when they were courting Katherine; so, Ames stepped aside for Trumbull. Of course, Dorothy did not realize what a cold fish she got in marrying George, because all he cares about is one thing: having a male heir to continue the family business, period. Ames thinks they should merge their businesses and even asks Bancroft to sublet some of his contract to him, but Trumbull insists on doing all the work by his company. Trumbull does treat his employees well and pays them well, too.

 

At the beginning of the film (1922), Katherine (Dorothy) is about to give birth to a child. Bancroft insists it has to be a son. It can't be a girl because the name of the firm is "Trumbull and Son." Besides, he already has a ten-year old daughter, played by Dawn O'Day (Anne Shirley) in one of her first screen roles. However, George could care less about his daughter and his wife. All he cares about is the baby son his wife just bore him.

 

The wife winds up dying in childbirth; so, the big sister (Anne), later Frances, winds up being a mother as well a sister to Brock Trumbull VI, played by David Durand. In the ten minutes Anne is on the screen, she steals the show from Bancroft. There is a scene at the crib where her baby brother grabs her hand with his little finger and Anne says, "I think my brother will love me." She has just lost her mother, and her heart is breaking. In those ten minutes on the screen, Anne breaks your heart. She definitely steals the scene from Bancroft, an excellent actor.

 

Now, when I read about Anne, acting under her real-life name of Dawn O'Day, playing Frances as a child, I found it a little strange, seeing Anne is blonde and Frances a brunette. However, I guess her hair was dyed blonde because in this film, Anne is a brunette. With the dark hair and those soulful eyes, she could be a deadringer for Frances as a child. I'm still looking for some childhood pictures of the Dee family in a magazine article like I found of the McCrea family in a magazine article.

 

Fast forward eight years. The little brother is now eight years old, but he seems to be rather frail and delicate, but a sweet child who loves rabbits and his dog, named Brock for himself. He and his sister, played by our girl, are inseparable. Frances is absolutely devoted to her little brother and very protective of him. She worries that the father is pushing the child too much, especially since the child tires very easily.

 

The child gets a tour of the shipbuilding yards and is to christen a ship. The father shows him how to run the business properly and tries to explain what Trumbull and son is to the boy. The boy asks his father what money is. Bancroft explains and says that money can do anything. The kid asks him, "Why didn't it save me my mother."

 

Not to give too much away, but things come to a head between father and daughter, who is starving for love from her father, who doesn't even know she is alive half of the time. A romance develops between Frances Dee and Robert Ames. Eventually, his behavior catches up with him and George Bancroft gets his comeuppance. I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to ruin it for people who have not seen the movie or read the book.

 

Now, the performance of our girl was simply marvelous. What is so amazing to me is that t his film was only about Frances Dee's fourth or fifth film. She hits the part right on the head. I could actually see her playing the part in either a 19th Century costume drama or in this modern setting. Frances is completely believable as the poor little rich girl who has everything in the world she wants except the thing she wants most: her father's love. Your heart breaks for her. Films crictics of the 1930's agree with my sentiments and think Frances stole the movie from under Bancroft's nose, which takes some doing, seeing what a fine actor Bancroft was.

 

One thing I will say is that Brock Trumbull V is a lot nicer character than Paul Dombey was in the book. I guess the script writers did not think they could make the character quite as mean and self-absorbed as he was in the book. However, Bancroft's performance is still powerful. A couple of interesting notes on Bancroft. According to IMDB, he had one child, a daughter named Georgette. When his acting career was over, he became, of all things, a rancher.

 

As I said, George plays Frances' paramour of sorts in "Blood Money." The fact that Frances could play such diverse characters as Elaine Talbert and Anne Trumbull show how versatile she was. Another interesting fact is that in George Bancroft, they actually had someone who could, in real life, have possibly been Frances' father, unlike Rosemary De Camp and James Cagney, to think of one instance. Bancroft was born in September 1882, while Frank M. Dee Jr. was born in December 1883; so, the ludicrous age difference did not happen in this case. George named his daughter after himself. I'm guessing, although I'm not sure about this, that Frances Dee was named for her dad as well.

 

Robert Ames and David Durand were also good in their respective roles as business competitor/boyfriend and brother.

 

Have any of you guys seen Ames in other films. I saw him in "Smart Women" with Mary Astor. I read on IMDB that he died at the age of 42 before this film was relased; so, he never saw the finished product. It said he had a ruptured bladder. Too bad. He was a very talented actor.

 

Take care, everyone.

 

Deborah

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Hello Debbie,

 

Thaks for your thorough comment/review on "Rich Man's Folly", early 1930s Paramount films must be one of the most "sought after" movies to us Pre-Code Fans.

 

I have seen Robert Ames in other pictures; I saw in in "Smart Woman" with Mary Astor, which I taped from TCM, and I remember that I did not like his character nor his performance. But I liked him opposite Astor in "Behind Office Doors" and with Helen Twelvetrees in "Millie", all from 1931. I also saw him in 1930's MGM photoplay "War Nurse", opposite Anita Page, Robert Montgomery and June Walker (Courtesy of TCM too).

 

There are many other films of his' I'd like to see, because he also starred opposite Gloria Swanson in her first talkie, "The Trespasser", opposite Vilma Banky and Edward G.Robinson in "A Lady To Love", Evelyn Brent in "Madonna of the Streets", Ruth Chatterton in "Tomorrow and Tomorrow", Ann Harding in the 1930 first version of "Holiday", etc.

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Hi, Susan:

 

Sure, go right ahead and use it. I would be honored. As I said, I could see Frances playing the character as originally written (Florence Dombey) or as the modern-day Anne Trumbull. However, something like this would be done more justice as a mini series. Please, don't let Hollywood remake this. They will ruin it like they did "Vanity Fair" and look like they are giong to do with "Pride and Prejudice." Besides the fact, there is no one talented enough out there now to play the role.

 

One especially sweet scene in the film involves Frances and David Durand, the little brother. His father has taken him all over the shipbuilding yards, and he is very tired. He wants to build a big house so he, his sister, rabbits, and a dog can live together, but no mention of his father. The little boy, who is somewhat frail, is very tired after being at the company all day. So, his sister starts singing to him. It's a song about a miller who lived on the River Dee, which is in Scotland. I'm assuming this was some kind of Scottish folk song.

 

The scenes where Frances is reading and singing to her brother are especially poignant. When watching it, I thought of Frances sitting with her own children a few years later doing the same thing.

 

This is such a wonderful film, Susan. You've got to get a hold of a copy somehow. I found another source to get "Blood Money" from; so, I might get that after all. I'm waiting on "So Ends Our Night," because $29 is too much to pay for VHS.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

 

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Hi, everyone:

 

You asked about "June Moon," Susan. Here is a yahoo alert I received on the subject.

 

June Moon is a satire about the songwriting racket, centering on the affairs of the feckless and callow young lyricist Fred Stevens, who stumbles upon a hit when he collaborates with nearly burnt out has-been composer Paul Sears. Lardner wrote many of the intentionally bad tunes in the comedy, which also features Sears jaded wife, Lucille, and a wise and sarcastic accompanist named Maxie.

 

The movie stars Jack Oakie as Fred, Ernest Wood as Sears, Wynne Gibson as Lucille and Harry Akst as Maxie. The most famous player in the cast is Frances Dee, who plays Fred's supportive girlfriend, Edna. A. Edward Sutherland directed.

 

It was originally a hit show in the late 1920's on Broadway. I guess an off-Broadway company did a revival, which renewed interest in the film. From what I gather, it is a satire on the song-writing industry. I would really enjoy seeing this film. It is around the third film Frances did as a leading lady.

 

I've always liked Jack Oakie. He nearly stole "Great Dictator" away from Chaplin in the scenes they were in together. I can definitely see Jack and Frances as a twosome. Jack Oakie also had a November birthday.

 

Take care, everyone.

 

Deborah

 

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Hi, Feaito:

 

I think I've seen Ames in those two films he did with Mary Astor: "Behind Office Doors" and "Smart Women." I really don't remember them very well, though. Ames was excellent in "Rich Man's Folly" as Frances' boyfriend and Bancroft's competitor. I wonder what good old George preferred, having Frances as his daughter or as his love interest. I'm putting "Blood Money" on hold for awhile because there are a couple of magazines I'm looking at, including one I just purchased that had a nice article on Joel.

 

As you said, Fernando, precode Paramount films are at a premium. I sure wish I lived close enough to New York to go and see it. Chicago never seems to have much in that kind of stuff, at least as far as I know. I remember reading on the boards you were on vacation in U.S. I hope you had a nice trip.

 

You mentioned Ann Harding. In my research, I found a picture of her from the original film version of "Holiday." What I saw amazed me. Here, for all these years, I thought Ann was a natural blonde, when she was really a brunette. I keep hoping TCM will get ahold of more of the old Paramount films. Years ago they showed "If I Were King" and "Souls At Sea," which I taped back when they had them on.

 

I also found out another interesting story on "Souls at Sea." Remember that story I related about George Raft and Frances Dee regarding a rock that the director wanted Raft to throw at Frances and Raft refused. Well, it seems Gary went through the same sort of thing with director Howard Hawks and what he wanted Gary to do in one scene with Frances.

 

Well, there is a scene where Frances is being stubborn and won't do what she is supposed to do. Madeline Carroll's character was obstinate in "General Died At Dawn" as well.

 

So, Howard Hawks wanted Gary to repeat the method who used to subdue Madeline Carroll on Frances Dee. In other words, he wanted Cooper to slug Frances and knock her out cold. Well, Gary had very strong objections to this, on a number of levels, the first being it was wrong to strike a lady. The fact that Frances was the wife of his good friend Joel McCrea may have had something to do with it. However, the main reason, I think (at least according to the columnist), when Cooper had done this same routine with Madeline Carroll, he had gotten tons of fan letters protesting his ungentlemanly-like conduct, with some people going so far as to accuse Cooper of being a heel.

 

I'm not sure who the columnist was, but it was not Hedda or Louella. I think it was either Dan Thomas or Jimmie Fidler. It has been awhile since I viewed the film; so, I do not remember how this all was resolved.

 

I'm just sitting here wondering what Frances thought of all this. I guess the flu and colds were going around this set as well, with all of the main cast members coming down with the flu at least once. Finally, Hawks had to ban all kissing and love scenes until the end of the movie to make sure no one got sick. I guess the epidemic played havoc with Hawks' shooting schedule.

 

Of course, since these little tidbits came from fan magazines and newspaper gossip columns, as I said, the details may have been exaggerated a tad or have some misinformation.

 

I just found the stories rather amusing, although nothing, I think, beats huge Gary trying to get tiny Frances to eat every single minute to keep up her strength. I guess it never occurred to Gary that Frances maybe didn't need as much to eat as he did.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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Another great anecdote Debbie.

 

I had a nice time in Raleigh during May; I bought a lot of stuff, among them "People Will Talk", which I'm reading currently (There is a great Joel McCrea interview in it) and "Return Engagement", which has been higly praised by many in these Boards (Frances looked stunning in the 1980s, such classiness and elegance).

 

Are you sure Ann Harding is not a natural blonde? Maybe she had her hair dyed for that picture (Holiday was released in 1930); I've seen her in many stills from the beginning of her career in Hollywood in 1929...and from her younger days, and she always appeared to be very blonde. In fact she's one of the few actresses that I believed was 100% blonde.

 

Talking about "The General Died at Dawn", I'm gonna watch it very soon (I bought the Gary Cooper DVD Collection).

 

Take Care

 

Fernando

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, Feaito and Everyone:

 

To answer your question, Feaito, "No, I am not sure that Ann Harding is not a natural blonde." I do know that in the picture I saw (in historical newspaper), she was a brunette. Have you ever seen Ann's version of "Holiday?" That was the movie they were discussing.

 

You mentioned the "General Died At Dawn." This is one of my favorite Cooper films. What other films are in the Gary Cooper collection. I might consider getting it if I don't already have it. If you were to ask me my favorite Cooper film, I guess it would be "For Whom the Bell Tolls," although there are so many films of his I like. I actually wasn't too crazy about Peter Ibbetsen and thought he was miscast, but after reading your review, Feito, I might give it second go. However, anything is better than most of the dreg that passes for entertainment in the movie houses these days. Are the films down where you live (not the American releases) as bad (in your opinion) as what they have got here.

 

"People Will Talk" is a great book. Did you know Joel was the only male actor interviewed for the book. I just loved the interview. Another interview with Joel was printed in a Patrick McGilligan book from 2000, whose name escapes me.

 

"Return Engagement is also a wonderful book. I don't know if you collect "Life Magazine," but the original layout appeared in February 1980 "Life," called "Nine to Remember," with Frances being one of the original nine. She was actually the last one of original nine to pass on. From the introduction in "Return Engagement" book, I guess Joel talked her into doing it. You're right Featio. Frances is definitely classy and elegant looking. She definitely doesn't look her years (and the book had her two years older than she was to begin with). What a beautiful lady. Then there is the April 1987 life magazine about Paramount's 75th Anniversary, where Frances even looked more youthful. My mother said she looked about sixty.

 

There was this Gary Cooper documentary out in 2003 called "Coop and the Gen," about the friendship between Gary and Ernest Hemingway. I saw it on this Moda Television Website. Among the people interviewed for it were Frances Dee and Peter McCrea.

 

Another documentary listed on the website was "McCrea on McCrea," which has never been shown. All of which I would love to see.

 

Getting back to Ann Harding, I also liked her in that film she did with Olivier, where Bonita Granville played her daughter. She was a spitting image of Anne, just like Anne Shirley looked like the spitting image of Frances.

 

I guess the only way we will know, Feaito, whether Ann was a natural blonde, is to see pictures of her as a child. I'm pretty sure Madeleine Carroll was a natural blonde. I know for sure Hope Lange was. Carole Lombard was blonde as a child, but when her hair darkened a little as a teenager, she started bleaching it. I have the "Films of Carole Lombard" and saw a picture with her brother where her hair was darker. I think it would amuse her to know her family home in Fort Wayne, Indiana is now a bed and breakfast.

 

Take care, Feaito. One of these days I will go to one of these films festivals. I wish I had gone to the one Frances was at. I take it is cheaper for you to buy the memorabilia in America and bring it back home with you, rather than get it by mail.

 

As for "Return Engagement," so very few of the ladies are left now. I don't believe Ann Harding was in the book. I think she had passed on by the time they started doing it. I also liked "Enchanted April."

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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Hi, everyone:

 

As promised, here is my review of "Patrick the Great," a brief summary of what Susan has on her website,

 

"Patrick the Great" is a father (Donald Cook) and son (Donald O'Connor), both named Patrick. The father is a successful Broadway star, and his son is an aspiring actor.

 

The son winds up getting the Broadway role that his father wanted. Son goes up to a resort to tell the good news to his father, unaware his father wants the role. Complications ensue when he runs into Frances Dee at the lodge, who is a famous writer of cookbooks.

 

Donald develops a mad crush on Frances, who thinks his girlfriend, played by Peggy Ryan, has rejected him. Complications ensue. Then Frances meets the father and alls sorts of complications ensue.

 

This is a very cute little movie, full of a lot of bouncy swing numbers and one beautiful ballad. Donald, as a kid in the throes of puppy love is adorable, as is Frances, the object of his affection.

 

Frances gets to show a playful and wisecracking part of herself in this movie. Even though Donald must have been only 19 or 20 when he made this movie, you can understand why he would get this crush and case of puppy love with Frances. Eve Arden is also hilarious as the wisecracking secretary.

 

This is a fun movie, whether you are a Frances fan, or a Donald O'Connor or Peggy Ryan fan. Unfortunately, the last surviving member of the movie, Peggy, died earlier this year.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

 

 

 

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Hi Debbie,

 

I have a book titled "The RKO Gals" by James Robert Parish, which analyzes several actresses, and first of all Ann Harding; it has many photos of her and I'd say she was always a blonde. Sometimes in certain photographs the color of her hair might have looked darker than it really was.

 

I've never seen "Holiday", but I've seen her in "Devotion", "The Animal Kingdom", "Condemned", "Love From a Stranger", "Life from Vergie Winters", "Westward Passage", "Peter Ibbetson"...and have yet to see (have then all taped), "When Ladies Meet", "The Flame Within" and "Enchanted April". I think she was a very fine actress, with a very down-to-earth quality...although I maintain she did a good job as the more ethereal character in "Peter Ibbetson".

 

The DVD "Gary Cooper Collection" includes "Design For Living", "Beau Geste", "Peter Ibbetson", "The General Died at Dawn" and "Lives of a Bengal Lancer". It's a great set!

 

About current releases, lately I've not been much into them really, neither foreign, nor domestic, 'cos I've been more focused (in my free time) in Classics; but sometimes in Latin-America, there comes out some interesting film I mighty be interested to watch. There's no much time for doing everything I would like to, so I just have favored the Classics and Books about Film.

 

You are right! I just realize it! Joel McCrea was the only male actor interviewed for the book...the other men were mostly directors or still photographers. I liked his interview very much....very down-to-earth, regular person, just the opposite of this whole bunch of conceited people Hollywood is "producing" nowadays.

 

I also have "Films of Carole Lombard", it was one of my first film books!

 

Take Care pal

 

Fernando

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, Feaito:

 

It has been awhile since I've posted. I've had more problems posting than I care to mention. Hopefully, this post will go through.

 

I also have the "RKO Gals," which I bought several years ago, back when bookstores were actually selling books I wanted to read. You cannot even buy classics in hardback anymore, unless you special order them, which these superstore bookstores always offer to do. Years ago, I bought a lot of paperback books from classic writers (e.g., Dickens, Cervantes, Balzac, Thomas Mann, Dumas), but you cannot seem to find these writers anymore except in paperback. And, when you do, it's $20 for a 200-page book. The same is true of film books, which are mostly in paperback as well.

 

I have a feeling when the Frances Dee book finally comes out, I'll have to order it online. Anyway, I've looked over the book and tend to agree with you about Ann always being blonde. I thought about it and realize that these online images were probably originally microfilm, which would make it darker to begin with. I've finally gotten the hang of making copies off of microfilm. I found some really neat pictures of Frances Dee in the "Chicago Tribune," actually going back and visiting her former coworkers. I always wondered why "Tribune" got Frances' birth year correct and "New York Times" did not. I was because Frances had once worked at the "Tribune."

 

I wanted to ask you about Jean Arthur as well, since you read her biography. I've seen pictures where she appears brunette. Was she a natural blonde as well? I figure they will have pictures of her as a child in the biography.

 

I also love the John Kobal book. As you said, Joel was a real gentleman. He talked about everyone with respect. I especially liked when he talked about courting his wife on the set of "Silver Cord." He mentioned talking with Irene Dunne in her dressing room about whether they should remain with RKO; neither one did. If that had been another guy other than Joel, Irene might have been in trouble, but as you said, Feaito, Joel was a real gentleman. Even when he talked about people he didn't care for, like directors Josef Von Sternberg and Andre De Toth, he did so in a respectful manner, sticking to the way they directed or behaved on the set, not attacking them personally. He just seemed like such a nice go and so much fun. No wonder Frances fell in love with him, among his other stellar qualities of honesty, integrity, and humility.

 

In my research, I found out the real reason why De Toth disliked Joel and thought he was a lousy actor. One might have been that Veronica Lake once had a mad crush on Joel and made a nuisance of herself on the set of "Sullivan's Travels," including not knowing her lines and being late on the set. I know Joel thought the role of Connie would have been better in the hands of someone like Barbara Stanwyck, although he thought Lake was good in "Sullivan's Travels." The other reason De Toth did not like Joel is because Joel knew more about Western history than the egotistical DeToth. I ran across one post from some interview from 1940's where Joel told De Toth that the kind of cowboy boots he was wearing were not authentic to the period. He also told De Toth the horses did not have the kind of long manes that De Toth was using for the film. Another director would not have objected to Joel's suggestions for authenticity. My feeling is Joel got on board the film before the De Toth and Lake were involved in the project. He just didn't feel it was right to bow out because he was good friends with the producer. Other than the Kobal book, if you want to read a good book of interviews, which also has a Joel interview, try reading "Film Crazy" by Patrick McGilligan. It has an excellent Joel interview in there.

 

A friend of mine sent me a copy of "Along Came Youth." After I see the film, I will report on it. I think this was Frances' second film, after "Playboy of Paris." The other day I was playing "My Ideal" and "Louise" on the piano. I just wish they would put more Chevalier films on DVD, including "Playboy of Paris." Next month, I'm also going to try to purchase "Blood Money" online. The only commercial releases worth buying right now are the two John Wayne films coming out next month. My mother watched it on AMC, where the film was torn to shreds by the station.

 

I also ran across this interesting article from around 1931 on the most beautiful women in Hollywood. The top directors in Hollywood were the one who picked these women. Of course, Frances Dee was on this list. Two other brunettes on the list were Gloria Swanson and another one of my favorites, Dolores Del Rio, probably the first Hispanic superstar actress in the U.S. She was just so joyous on the screen and so gorgeous. I saw her in that Maria Candelaria movie recently on TCM. It's just hard for me to picture Dolores and Orson Welles as a couple, though.

 

I don't remember who the other two were. I think either Ann Harding or Carole Lombard might have been the other two, although I'm not sure. I would have to look it up. When you compare any of the ladies of those years compared to what they have now, there is just no comparison. With all the hype JLO or some of the other of today's stars (funny, all I can think of is JLO right now) gets, most of JLO's films have been flops. In fact, Feaito, U.S. box office has been down for the past 20 or more weeks, and they cannot figure out why. Perhaps it is because the movies they are putting out, for the most part, stink. The latest remake is of the Lucille Ball-Henry Fonda film, "Yours, Mine and Ours."

 

Oh, well, there is still TCM. I don't know if down in Latin America, they get the same programming TCM does in U.S. Joel is going to be featured in "Summer Under the Stars" on August 3, including "Kept Husbands." Just thought I would tell you, Fernando, in case you get the same programming here as we do in the U.S.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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Hi Debbie, it's been a while!

 

I looked the pixs included in Jean Arthur's Biography and I can inform you that she was fair-haired when she was a child and then she grew into being a beautiful brunette. No, she was never a blonde.

 

I'm finishing the Kobal book, it's been one of the most enjoyable reads I've ever done. Thanks for the McGiligan book, I'll try to look for it.

 

Dolores del R?o is also one of my favorites; she was so elegant, beautiful and classy. I loved her in "Evangeline"! I'd love to see her in "The Trail of '98", have you ever seen it? I also liked very much her in "Madame DuBarry", "Bird of Paradise" and "The Fugitive".

 

Can't believe they are remaking "Yours, Mine and Ours"...it won't do, the original magic can't be brought back...they cannot bring back Lucy and Henry Fonda. It's one of my all-time fave films.

 

Thanks for the tip on TCM's "Summer Under the Stars", but TCM Latin America is totally different from yours...hardly-ever a Pre-Code, many lousy transfers, many colorized films and dubbed! Thank God the channel features a second-audio (in English) and my TV set has the device for changing it (SAP)!

 

Well, Take Care

 

Feaito

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, Feaito:

 

Well, my computer is working again; so, I thought I would post tonight. Other stupid remakes coming to the forefront are "Pink Panther" with Steve Martin trying to be Peter Sellers. Also in the works is a remake of another Sellers flick, the "Party," made in a PC fashion with Mike Myers. Also, the "Yours, Mine, and Ours" remake.

 

Then there is the idiot Jody Foster movie called, "Flight Plan," which judging by the preview, is a remake of 1938 Hitchcock Classic, "Lady Vanishes." Only this time it's a small child who disappears, at 30,000 feet. You see scenes in the movie trailer of oxygen masks falling down and all sorts of other lunacy. Give me a break.

 

Now, on to more pleasant topics, classic movies. A friend of mine in the Joel McCrea group sent me a copy of "Along Came Youth," for which I heartily thank her. I finally got to watch it the other night. I believe it was the second film Frances made after "Playboy of Paris" made her a star. Interestingly, the actress who plays her aunt in the film played Frances' aunt in a stage play, which helped decide Paramount to sign her to a contract. At least, this was according to some old newspaper article I ran across in my research.

 

I also found out there were six actresses mentioned as most beautiful women in films: two were Frances and Dolores Del Rio. I saw that silent film about the Gold Rush you mentioned. However, my favorite Dolores film is her and Joel McCrea in "Bird of Paradise." I especially love the costumes worn in the movie. Did you know, Fernando, Joel actually did his own stuntwork in the film, including all of the underwater scenes. They were going to use a mechanical tortoise, but it kept sinking to bottom of the lagoon. So, Joel got to swim holding on to a real tortoise and live to tell about it, so said director King Vidor.

 

Anyway, here is the plot of "Along Came Youth." It is typical of the plots of movies made around the dawn of topics. Some of it may seem a little convoluted, but it's enjoyable. You've got to just suspend a little belief about some of the things the characters do or how they wound up where they were. These precode films were definitely not "PC," but they were enjoyable. You've just got to except the fact that everyone in the movie is a little zany, with one sane person around.

 

Buddy Rogers is a young American jockey living in England with his pal, played by Stuart Erwin, who usually played the best pal. I believe Stuart was also in "June Moon." He was married to a good friend of Frances', June Collyer, sister of Bud Collyer, of "To Tell the Truth" fame. That, my friends, is another story.

 

Anyway, these two young Americans are stuck in England, trying to earn whatever money they can to get home to America. In this case, they are walking around, carrying a sign. Buddy seems to have friends all over the place in England, who will let him do whatever he wants, whether he has money or not.

 

Well, Buddy and his friend Ambrose (Stuart Erwin) are wandering in front of this restaurant, carrying a sign. Up in front of the restaurant, pulls a limousene, with one Elinor Farrington (played by our girl, Frances) and her Aunt, played by Ruth Hall. Frances' family goes back to Crusader times (at least, family house), but unfortunately the family bank book has seen better times. So, is usual in these films, Aunite wants Frances to marry, marry soon and marry money. While driving up in the cab, Frances is complaining about all the "old toads" that her Aunt is introducing her to. By old toads, I guess she means rich old geysers, whom Frances cannot stand and is not going to marry under any circumstances.

 

Well, when Frances gets out of the car, she spots Buddy Rogers in the Tuxedo carrying a sign. She walks up to him and kisses him, excited, thinking her Aunt has finally picked a nice rich boy that she could love. Of course, Aunite puts a stop to this, telling her the "gentleman caller" is inside. Well, Buddy is hooked. He's go to remain around until Elinor leaves the restaurant, ahead of her Aunt. He asks the chauffeur if he can use the car to take Elinor to her hotel. Inexplicably, the chauffeur agrees because he thinks Buddy is a nice guy. So, Buddy takes Frances for a ride home, and they are head over heels in love.

 

Frances' home is in the country, which is where she is going home to. Buddy decides that he has got to get to the county to see Frances at Farrington Hall, the family home. He and Stuart have to get money. What to do!

 

Well, it so happens that this European couple, a middle-age couple from Spain, need to have someone to cook for a luncheon engagement the next day. Buddy tells the guy he and his friend will do it, and they are hired without any checking on credentials. Of course, Stuart Erwin, being the sensible one, says, "Since when do we know how to cook?" Buddy says, "No, problem. We'll cater the lunch from the hotel restaurant next door. The thing that makes this even funnier is the fact that the gas is out in the place the couple is staying, making it impossible to cook. In all of this, the gas man comes to fix the gas, and they have to get rid of him so the old gentleman does not know they are frauds.

 

Well, the man and his wife are so impressed with their cooking job they hire them to be their permanent cooks. However, wife does not want to come home to Spain. She wants to stay in England to visit. Husband has to go back to Spain, but he hires Buddy for a ridiculous sum to take care of the house for him while he is away. The fact the house he bought is near Farrington Hall makes Buddy jump at the chance. After all, he and Stuart Erwin can hire people to actually do real cooking. They go ahead of the wife, to make the castle ready.

 

Well, as you can imagine, all sorts of complications ensue. Buddy goes to Farrington Hall, trying to see Frances, but every time he goes there, Aunite kicks him out, believing he is poor. Frances is very confused, because there he is; there he isn't. Just as she is going to see her sweetheart, he disappears. Things also get thrown over the estate walls.

 

Then, by some stroke of fate, he runs into a cousin of Frances. Buddy passes himself as the real owner of the castle, the titled gentleman who had business to take care of in Spain. Of course, the cousin takes him back to Farrington Hall, along with Stuart Erwin. As it so happens, either a cousin or girlfriend of Frances is also at the estate; so, she becomes Erwin's girlfriend.

 

Then the wife comes to her estate a few days later, a jolly, rather rotund lady who in one scene goes from speaking hardly any English to speaking it fairly well. There is this crazy scene, where they have her all set up in a carriage tied to the horse, which Rogers is driving. Somehow, it comes loose, and everything goes sliding. Rogers, slides into Frances, who slides into someone else, who slides into the wife, who is no worse for wear. This is one of these scenes they always have in screwball comedies, where things happen because everyone is a little zany. Realistic, it isn't; funny, it is, at least in my opinion.

 

The wife takes all the zaniness in good stride, just so long as she gets that gourmet cooking of Rogers and Erwin and their hired staff. They are short on butter at the ranch, which she craves. This is where Buddy talks the lady into purchasing a racehorse because if they have a racehorse they will be able to bring more butter to the manor faster. Not only that, Buddy will be able to get the money to go back to America.

 

Well, Buddy winds up throwing a big party at the estate, to celebrate his forary back into horse racing. He, of course, has entered his horse into the big race, which everyone, including the lady of the manor, has bet on.

 

Well, as I said in the beginning, in these zany comedies, there is always one sane character in the lot, especially when the plot involves a lot of rich people. In this case, it is the husband of the manor, newly returned from Spain. Of course, the husband throws a fit when it turns out Buddy has been impersonating him and fires him.

 

Buddy, of course, being a true gentleman, fesses up, telling everyone he is not the owner of the manor. That he is a just a servant of the household. He apologizes for fooling everyone. When Frances Dee hears this, she runs off.

 

Well, more plot complications ensue. The wife, whom really likes Rogers a lot, persuades him to let Rogers run the race after all, especially since she bet on him.

 

Now, like I said, Fernando, with these screwball romantic comedies, a lot of logic has to go out the window. However, for what they are, they are very enjoyable. I thought the lady of the manor where Rogers worked was especially sweet, although some of the fat jokes may not appeal to some people. Myself, being a full-figured girl, was not offended, but some people may be.

 

However, when I see the movies of today, where every character is really seedy, mean-spirited, or just plain weird, I will take the 1930's precode movies, PC or no PC. At least, the people in the movie, even Frances Dee's pain in the neck aunt, Ruth Hall, are basically nice, decent people, not the sleezebags or idiots that pass for cinema characters nowadays.

 

First and foremost, Buddy Rogers and Frances Dee make a cute couple. In a few years, Rogers would retire to take care of Mary Pickford, his one true love. There is something just so joyous and exuberant about Rogers, he seems very youthful. He seemed to have kept his youth over the years. I remember when he was interviewed on Geraldo's Al Capone Vault special in 1970's or 1980's.

 

Like Frances Dee, Buddy Rogers had one marriage, which lasted forty plus years. Most people today probably remember Rogers more for his silent screen roles. He was also a band leader.

 

As for our girl, she was delightful in ths comedy. Again, her marvelous wit and sense of humor shows through. I mean, like I said, the plot is rather silly. The movie got a little too silly, at times, for my mom. However, I was laughing my head off throughout the whole film. It was a delightful little programmer that I believe did quite well in 1930 and was a good follow-up to "Playboy of Paris."

 

Considering this was only her second leading role, Frances' acting was even more incredible, considering she was a real novice at the time. Fresh and charming is how I would describe.

 

On another note, because she is playing an English girl, she was required to have an English accent for the movie. I was really quite surprised about how good her English accent actually was, considering how they weren't that strict about such stuff in movies back then. There was maybe only one time her normal voice came through.

 

I was wondering how Frances was able to effect a credible English accent so well, without sounding prentious or vain. Then I remembered something about her family background that perhaps had something to do with it. Frances paternal grandmother, Margaret Dee, was born in England, a very proper English lady. It was for her grandmother that Frances' big sister, Margaret, was named.

 

I have a sneaking suspicion that both Grandmother Margaret Dee, as well as her sister Florence, who lived with her sister, retained some of that British actress. I'm sure the two girls got to see their grandmothers regularly. So, I'm guessing Frances picked up some of the "authenticity" of the accent from her grandmother.

 

Of course, I, by no means, am an expert on British accents. This is just my humble opinion, that's all.

 

Take care, Feaito. By the way, did you ever see "Story of Temple Drake." One of these days, I'm going to read the two Faulkner novels on which the movie is based. I think Miriam Hopkins was another beautiful women, at least in her early days.

 

Take care, Susan, Helen, Joanne, Prizzlesprung, and everyone else on this post.

 

Deborah

 

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Hi Debbie,

 

Thanks for the detailed description of "Along Came Youth's" plot; it seems to be a rather enjoyable film. I haven't seen Buud Rogers in any film...he made a lot of films opposite Nancy Carroll in the late '20s and early '30s.

 

I also enjoyed very much "Bird of Paradise"; Did you see the remake with Louis Jourdan, Debra Paget and Jeff Chandler? Good movie too!

 

An what about all those remakes!!! But nothing can really surprise me if I think that they remade "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" with Adam Sandler in Gary Cooper's role!

 

Take Care

 

Fernando

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