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vecchiolarry

Larry's Classic Star Reminiscences

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Hey Scarlett and Ayres,

 

Hey Kiddies -

Thanks for the nice and encouraging comments..

 

Larry

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Larry,

 

I have read in this thread and the recent "Hurricane" thread your reminiscences about Mary Astor. Please bear with me. I have for the longest time, wanted to compose this post to you about your good friend Mary Astor.

 

To begin with, I think the great thing about TCM is the opportunity to be exposed to an artist's oeuvre (love that word). This allows me, the audience, to really appreciate someone I might not have otherwise noticed--Mary Astor and so many other performers.

 

A little history. I am certain the first time I saw Mary Astor in a movie was "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte"--theatrical first run. As an aside, my mother used to take us (my brother and I) to movies like "Sweet Charlotte", "Psycho", "The Birds" and similar fare. The funny thing is, the only time I remember her regretting taking 'the kids' (both of us were under 10 years old) to a 'mature subject matter' film was a drive-in showing of "Hercules in the Underworld". She thought that movie crossed the line, content-wise. Back to the history. The first time I really noticed Mary Astor was my first viewing of "Dodsworth" (my favorite movie of the 1930's). I thought she was winsome, desirable and so perfect for the role. It was ideal her character got together with Dodsworth. Okay, continuing the history. The movie that I realized just how good Mary Astor was (as an actress) was "Palm Beach Story". Since then, I have made a special effort to watch movies having her in the cast.

 

Larry, I am coming to a point.

 

Do you think it is possible to 'see through' a performer's screen persona to get a glimpse of the person behind the image? I understand that the person the audience sees on screen is the result of careful craftsmanship but, I have noticed moments during Mary Astor's screen time that she allows the 'off screen' person to manifest for a moment. From what you have written about Mary Astor--I gather my impression of her as someone who would be good to have as a friend is not just fantastical. Note that the only other performer I say this about is Jean Harlow. Am I fooling myself? Maybe...I just don't know.

 

Got that off my chest. I really enjoy your reminiscences. More to come...hope...hope.

 

Rusty

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Rusty,

 

Glad you like Mary?.. She was my favourite of all those old stars and the best friend to me of all of them.

A very nice, pleasant and down to Earth woman. She was plain spoken and no nonsense in explaining to me who was who and what was what. Others like Paulette Goddard were fun and easy to laugh with but didn?t really explain to a dumb kid what to say and what not to say to certain people; whereas Betty Blythe would tell you too much. Who was f?ing whom, who had f?ed whom and who wanted to f? whom? Too much information!!!!.

Mary was a moderate middle??.

 

But, truth to tell ? Mary made some bad marriage choices and had a drinking problem in the early 50?s. She overcame it with Mercedes McCambridge but ended up with a very bad heart.

When she retired after ?Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte? she wrote several books ? two autobiographies and some fiction ones.

In the 50?s, Mary was mostly on TV and appeared on a lot of shows; I?d love to see some of those again?

 

I?ve only seen ?Dodsworth? once and that was with Mary in 1971, when she explained to me that Ruth Chatterton was my grandmother, Nell and Walter Huston, my grandfather. My grandfather owned Citroen Motors in France much like Dodsworth had a car company in USA.. The movie is not told in chronological order as the two or three other guys in it were Nell?s first two husbands. At the end of the movie, Ruth (Nell) leaves and then in real life has an affair with Sinclair Lewis, who writes that book. All the names and nationalities are changed to protect the guilty?..

Mary?s role in ?The Palm Beach Story? is a semi takeoff on granny Nell, as Nell?s last husband was the nephew of the King of Italy and Mary had some sort of Italian princess name in it, didn?t she. Anyway, Nell was just as crazy as that character??

So, really Mary was in two movies that had to do with Nell. All in the family.

 

In the 20?s, Mary was a virginal and angelic image. I?ve seen pictures of her where she could have played the Virgin Mary. By 1926, she was one of the Wampas Baby Stars along with Crawford and Loy and Fay Wray.

If her first husband had not been killed she may have become a bigger major star but after he died (the love of her life) she lost all interest in ambitions of stardom and settled for supporting roles. She always maintained that she didn?t want to be responsible for the success or failure of her films so stayed in the background. Pity?..

 

You should see her work in ?Return To Peyton Place?, where she plays the bitchy mother, who wants to ban somebody?s book. You want to kill her, she?s so good at being hateful?..

I don?t think she had an acting lesson in her life but played every type of person on screen. She was just an observer of people.

 

Larry

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Larry, the more I hear about Nell the more fascinating I think she is. You should consider writing a book about HER, not just the movie stars you've known. Of course, that could be thrown in for good measure. heheh Has there ever been a book about her? She sounds just scrumptious. I'd love to hear or read more.

 

Scarlett

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Oops, sorry for taking up 2 spaces but I was gonna ask this as well. If you knew the gorgeous Paulette Goddard, did you ever meet Chaplin?

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Hi Scarlett,

 

No, no Chaplin!!

Paulette had divorced him in the early 40's and I didn't know her until 1952. Chaplin moved to Switzerland at about that time. I did go to school in Switzerland in 1958 and Chaplin lived across the lake (Geneva) but I never saw him.

 

Larry

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Hi Larry -

 

Nice to hear from you again. I watched a three-hour celebration from the Royal Hall in London last night, honoring Prince Charles, and thought of you often during the show. They did three numbers from The Producers (with Nathan Lane), Liza sang (two numbers: "And The World Goes Round" and, of course, "New York, New York" - both very badly, I'm sorry to say), and talked about her mother (again!), Cliff Richards, Tommy Steele, etc. I kept waiting for Elaine Page or Shirley Bassey to come out and tear the roof off, but it never happened. Not a particularly memorable evening.

 

What about that scandalous affair Miss Astor had with George S. Kaufman - when the newspapers got hold of their torrid love letters and published them? There's really nothing new under the sun, is there?

 

I read two of Miss Astor's books (years ago) and remember enjoying them very much; they were well reviewed by the critics.

 

Take care of yourself and keep on posting.

 

Ralph

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Hi Ralph,

 

Glad you saw the concert but Liza should probably retire and leave us with a good memory of things past.......

 

I never could understand why Mary and Nell had affairs with Georgie and Sinclair. Have you ever seen pictures of them. Both homely and gaunt looking!!!

But, as Betty Blythe told me once -- "Maybe it wasn't their faces they were interested in!!".......

I've heard they were both 'stallions'....... Enough said!! Zowie.......

 

Larry

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Hello Scarlett - I'm late to this message. Maybe you'll get to read it.

 

Yes, Tyrone Power had a son, Tyrone Power IV and Tyrone Power IV has a son, Tyrone Keenan, who is Tyrone Power V. The IV goes by Jr.

 

He doesn't make many movies and I don't know why. The one in which he looked so much like his father that it was scary was "California Casanova" - I got chills just looking at him - IT WAS SCARY.

 

Strangely nowadays he doesn't look as much like him and I don't really know why.

 

His mother was Deborah Minardos, and he has two half-sisters on his dad's side and one half-sister on his mother's.

 

 

> Hi Larry! Hope you are doing well "up" there. hehe

>

> Didn't Ty also have a son? I was sure I saw a picture

> of him once and he was gorgeous and the spitting

> image of his dad? Maybe he was even in a movie?? Do

> you know about that - - my memory is not cooperating

> and my computer time is at an end for the nite or I'd

> do a search and try to find out more myself. lol

>

> I need to get some time to come on here and read

> about your latest 'escapades'. :-)

>

> Katyscarlett

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Hey, Larry, nice to see you on this board.

 

I wondered if you had met Tyrone Power (did I ask you this before?) and if you could tell us about him, and also if Lana said anything about him that you could tell us. Thanks, Larry, hope you're well.

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Hi Chandler,

 

I never knew Tyrone Power but I did know Linda Christian, although not well, after she divorced him.

Lana never did talk much about her various romances, although she did rebound into a marriage with Bob Topping that even she knew was a disaster. I think she married him for the money and she did make out like a bandit when she divorced him....

BTW, Bob's brother, Dan, was married to Sonja Henie and Arline Judge managed to marry both of them -- two Toppings for the price of one!!!!!!

 

Larry

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Hello Everyone,

 

I am leaving for Ottawa tonight to be on a committee for aging population and veterans affairs for about a month.

 

Will try to keep up with you all in between hammering out legislation that probably won't be acted on anyway.....

 

BTW, that's not "an aging committee" as one member refers to it!!! Although we are all aging (rapidly), we protest being called old..........

Fools, OK maybe; but aging, never!!!!!!!

 

Larry

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Since I read on another thread that you knew Dolores del R?o and Merle Oberon, are there any recollection of them you can share with us Larry?

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Hello Fernando,

 

I have some Merle Oberon recollections further down on this thread.

 

As for Dolores Del Rio, she was gone from Hollywood when I lived there but I did know her sporadically in Mexico City at her home there and at Merle's home in Acapulco.

Dolores' house was full of Precolumbian art and sculpture and she had a garden full of very exotic plants and flowers. She also visited my father's house in Cuenavaca, south of Mexico City; we lived next door to Barbara Hutton and her Japanese house. My father always thought she was nuts, but she was very nice and very lonely. Dolores and I did our best to cheer her up.

Dolores drank lots of water, jugs full of it, but hardly any liquor. That's how she stayed young and thin.

 

She was disappointed that Pope Paul VI wouldn't receive her because she was divorced and she largely abandoned Catholicism afterwards saying that Jesus Christ hung out with Mary Magdalene, so why was this Pope such a hypocrite!!

She studied more ancient Mexican religions after that.

 

Can't think off-hand about anything more. Except Dolores was a very nice and gracious lady and damn beautiful.....

 

Larry

 

Message was edited by:

vecchiolarry

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Thanks Larry. I've always admired very much Dolores del R?o. She never aged!!!

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Larry and Fernando,

 

She bought one of the first houses in the area above the Chinese Theatre (not Whitley Heights). Her Spanish style house is still there behind a white brick wall. If you go to the top of the street you can look down on Hollywood Blvd and the Chinese and look over to the Hollywood sign to the East.

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Thanks for the info Liz. That was the house in which she lived with husband Cedric Gibbons?

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I'm not sure if Cedric Gibbons was her husband at the time but it is a very stylish house architecturally speaking so it's likely.

 

When I first came to Los Angeles almost thirty years ago, Cedric Gibbons Flower Shop was still on La Brea just north of Wilshire Blvd, across from the Mutual of Omaha Building.

The Flower Shop featured exotic flowers (well, exotic for 1977- lilies and that sort of thing).

 

It's gone now and Mutual of Omaha has left the building and it now has Japanese Beer neon sign replacing the old neon MoO sign.

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Lynn and Fernando,

 

I have just remembered that Dolores and her husband gave me a rather large gold medallion of an Aztec calendar for my 18th birthday. I still have it but only wore it once in the 70's (remember all those opened shirts with gold jewelry that 'with-it honchos' wore).

It's insured for $7,500.00.

Also, on the same subject, Merle and her husband gave me a pair of white onyx and jade book-ends shaped like horses heads. They're still with me too!!!!

 

Well, after this - next week I will be in a Parliamentary committee room for our presentation to the government on seniors aid and veterans aid, so I can't take my laptop in there and keep up with you all. But, keep the messages coming and I will try to answer when possible.

I have finished typing up all our reports and our paper to Parliament looks brilliant, if I do say so myself!!

Why, I may even be in danger of becoming a "perfeshnal seketary" !!!!

 

Take care everyone,

 

Larry

 

Message was edited by:

vecchiolarry

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Hello Everyone,

 

Am back from Ottawa and the wilds of Parliament committee rooms. What a boring city Ottawa is and what a group of dullards, you have no idea!!!!!!

Nobody got my stupid sense of humour and I guessed that I was the wildest thing in town, except for one lovely lady, Dorothy, from Newfoundland, who loved a good dirty joke.

There was one old secretary in the Veterans Dept., a real spinster type, named Prunella (really!!) and Dorothy whispered to me, ?How would you like to go to bed with that??!!? I declined and returned here with my virtue intact?..

 

Ralph ?

I seem to have gotten my facts mixed up about the Asian Orient Express. It goes from Singapore to Bangkok and not into upper Thailand. It operates mostly in Malaysia.

And, the QM2 has not yet finalized their destinations on their trip around the world. It will stop in Singapore and Hong Kong but maybe not in Vietnam???

It stops for only 10 to 12 hours at each port of call; just long enough to buy your souvenirs and get fleeced by the locals!!!!

The voyage is 81 days and I don?t know if I want to be on a ship that long. I love a good yacht but I do like to get off once in a while!!!!

My visa came through for Russia and I am being given access inside the church, like I wanted. I am Class V.I.P. Romanoff guest # 194. I told my mother that I guessed that this means 193 people have to die before I become Czar!!!!!!! That?s your laugh for the day?.

 

Lynn ?

Pola Negri?s documentary is being shown in LA at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater on Saturday, April 29th at 5:00 PM. It is part of the Los Angeles Polish Film Festival.

I have been invited and if I go I will arrange for an invitation for you and your husband, if you like. There?s a reception or dinner afterwards and I will include you both, also, if you like?.. But, I don?t know yet if I?m going.

 

Also, this documentary is to be shown at Cannes in May; and New York City in September (18??) at MOMA in connection with several of her films ? a Pola Negri Film Festival. It is being considered for showing in Chicago and San Francisco later.

It will be shown in London and Warsaw in June.

 

Regards to all,

 

Larry

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Larry,

 

Ottawa sounds like a very dull place in deed especially if they did not appreciate your sense of humor, though it sounds like Prunella did. :)

 

Please keep me posted about the Negri documentary and your possible visit. Would be the highlight of my spring to have dinner with you.

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Hi Larry -

 

I'm glad to see you made it back to Calgary with your virtue (and sense of humor) intact.

 

The Asian Orient Express does depart Bangkok and go down south and through Malaysia to Singapore. But there is another Thai train which departs Bangkok and goes north to Nongkhai (which is where most tourists enter Laos - over the Thai/Lao bridge). It is a 12-hour trip from Bangkok, through one of the poorest sections of Thailand, so the best way to do it is to depart Bangkok at night and arrive in Nongkhai 12 hours later. You can get a sleeper if you book a few days in advance.

 

If you visit Vietnam on the QM2, that is really all you will have time for - to get fleeced. Why don't you come for four or five days (or more) and I'll meet you there?

 

That's good news about the Pola Negri documentary, isn't it? I hope you and Liz do manage to get together for a dinner at least.

 

We don't have a Polish Film Festival in Thakhek, so I suppose the documentary won't play here. (Actually, we don't have a projector, so if it ain't on DVD, forget about it).

 

Nice to be back home and sleeping in your own bed?

 

Ralph

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Good Morning Lynn,

 

I will not be going to LA to see the Pola Negri documentary.

I am scheduled to go into hospital on April 17th for a back operation, then recouperate for the next 3 weeks. Bummer but one has to go when called as in Canada the waiting lists for surgery is long and monumental.

 

However, if you want to see this documentary, it is at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Cinema, at 5:00 PM on Saturday, April 29th.......

Let me know what you think of it, if you go, please......

 

Larry

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