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Larry's Classic Star Reminiscences


vecchiolarry

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To vecchiolarry-(love that Italian item by the way!)

 

Just curious-(joining this mammoth crowd here! ) & given

there is so much to read through-(SIDEBAR: By the way, how is it in Canada? Writing this from all the way down here in Florida)

 

In the time you spent in Tinsel-Town,etc

 

Had you ever bumped into *"The Great: Spencer Tracy"-(1900-67), *Kate Hepburn-(1907-2003) or *Cagney-(1899-1986)-(although the latter really wasn't that fond of the town, especially as the years went on)

 

Please let me/us know?

 

(FINAL NOTE: There was another film on F. Farmer-(1914-70) Starring: Susan Blakely "Will There Really Be a Morning" It was a tv-movie & she is no *Lange however. & a bit of trivia for others. At the end of the 1982 bio "Frances" She is on "This Is Your Life" & it was shot at the legendary "Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel"-(next time you happen to catch the picture, watch for it)

 

Thank You

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Hi Myidolspencer,

 

How is it in Canada? you ask -

 

I live in Calgary now, which is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, next to Banff and Lake Louise, two major tourist centres both summer and winter.

Calgary is the most American of Canadian cities, because of the oil and gas industry. It's a lot like Houston or Denver. Many Americans live here.

We have Chinook winds here that warm the city and have great weather, especially in the winter, when the Chinooks can raise the temporature from freezing to warm in 20 minutes.

I've never been to Florida; in fact I've never been north or south of Manhattan Island on the East Coast. Although I've been to New York City many, many times, I've never been off Manhattan, except for JFK Airport.... Isn't that awful?

Do you live on mainland Florida or on one of the Keys?

 

I never ran into Spencer Tracy or Katharine Hepburn or James Cagney - sorry!!!

 

Larry

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Hello Everybody,

 

Ramon Novarro - was always known by his lady silent stars as "Ravishing Ramon"; that's how MGM publicized him in the 20's.

- I have always heard from everyone who knew him that he was always a favourite of all casts and crews of his movies. And, that cannot be said of everyone in Hollywood.

- Norma Shearer was in love with him but married Irving Thalberg, who resembled Ramon.

- he was a cousin of Dolores Del Rio and when they danced together it was in unison and as if there was only one person. Unbelievably beautiful......

- he often sang at many parties and had a fine tenor to light baritone voice.

- was Pola Negri's guest in 1968 at the San Antonio Hemisphair - it was the last time we saw him. He was brutely murdered several weeks later.

Pola never got over it - that such a sweet man should end this way. Even in 1986, she was lamenting his death.

- as a kid, I mispronounced his name as "Rayman" instead of "Rah-moan" and he just laughed. Later as a teenager, I called him "Hey Ray" -- he always joked that with that name he should marry Fay Wray and together they would be "Fay Wray & Hey Ray"!!!!

- when Sophia Loren at the Oscars in 1963, saw him backstage, she made a beeline for him and threw her arms around him and kissed him, crying out for all to hear, "Oh My God, how I love this man!!!!!"......

 

Larry

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Thanks for the info on Ramon Novarro, I've always thought he was a very nice human being, in fact I bought his biography last month and I plan reading it in June or July (Currently I'm reading Brooke Hayward's "Haywire"-recommended; Brooke is the daughter of Leland Hayward and Margaret Sullavan).

 

I did not know Norma Shearer fell in love with him, although I knew they were pals, worked at the same Studio together, made one film together and Ramon was the one who recommended George Hurrell to Norma...and the rest is Hollywood History.

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Is it possible that Normas Shearer didn't realize that the handsome Ramon Novarro was gay?

Something like that is usually common knowledge within the Hollywood community.

It's unfotunate how he trusted those two hustlers who eventually bludgeoned him to death.

I also heard that the two murderers got light sentences and eventually went free.

Yet another malfunction in the justice system.

 

Mongo

 

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Hi Mongo,

 

Oh, I think Norma probably knew all about Ramon. He never kept it secret. But, he was discrete; not like William Haines and Jimmy Shields, who were really OUT!!!!!

That's why Louis B. Mayer kept Ramon and jettisoned Billy & Jimmy....

 

Norma probably knew that her future lay with Irving!!!

 

Larry

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Hi Larry,

 

I noticed that you mentioned Mercedes McCambridge a few times regarding her stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and she is a star I always admired.

Of course she won an Oscar for "All the Kings Men" as Sadie Burke and she was nominated again for her tough ranch boss in "Giant" and who could forget her role opposite Joan Crawford in "Johnny Guitar". I heard they didn't get along at all.

 

I also understand that her son killed his wife and children and then committed suicide which must have been very hard on her.

What can you tell us about this extraordinary actress.

 

Mongo

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Hi Mongo,

 

Mercy McCambridge was a sometime babysitter of mine and was a very loving cheerful woman. Not like her movie roles.

She loved to sing (badly!) and whenever she thought we weren't cooperating, she'd say, "Alright, I'm going to sing!!"..... Sometimes she would threaten to call Tallulah Bankhead and do a duet. "I'm phoning Tallulah -- right now!!" and then we'd all laugh. So you can see she was lots of fun. I never did get to meet Tallulah, darn!

Her son did commit murder-suicide and Mercy suffered a very bad stroke later on. She became severely depressed and became addicted to pills. She had already conquered alcoholism years before, so it set her back. But she did wean herself off pills also.

In 1997, when the Oscars had all those old stars seated in rows and introduced them -- before the curtain is pulled, you can hear noises behind the curtain and some disarray. It was Mercy becoming frightened at being viewed again and wanting to exit. But apparently Cher calmed her down and she took her seat. She looked fairly well when the camera came to her, although I thought she looked a little confused. I have to give credit to Cher, someone I never particularly liked, but she came through and saved the day....

 

I don't think Joan Crawford wanted Mercedes McCambridge in that movie, since Joan thought that Mercy was the better actress and would steal the picture. (Just my take on things). I think Mercy's role was cut down considerably and there was tension, to say the least.

The rumour that Crawford went into Mercy's dressing room and cut up all her clothes is pretty feeble. I can't see Joan doing that. But, it's a good feud story -- c'est la Hollywood!

 

Larry

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Larry--Do you know Cher? Because she comes across as a great person. I totally admire her, even though she's been nipped & tucked to a fair-thee-well. She and Dolly Parton kind of remind me of human cartoons but really down to earth behind the clothes and makeup. I'll be disappointed if Cher is really a b**** behind closed doors.

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Hi Brackenhe,

 

No, I don't know Cher at all but I'm sure she's a decent person. To have cared for a lady in distress like that shows that she has compassion, so God bless her.

 

I do like Dolly Parton though, although I don't know her either.

But, I love her sayings:

"It takes a great deal of money to look this cheap!"..

and

"You can call me a 'dumb blonde' if you want, but I know I'm not dumb and I'm not blonde!!".....

 

When another blonde, Marilyn Monroe, was once complimented about her nice blonde hair, she said, "Oh honey, you can have this hair too - it comes in a bottle at the drugstore!".......

 

Larry

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Everyone,

 

Claire Windsor - she was named Claire because she was 'so fair' and Windsor because she was patrician.

-Claire Windsor was a woman you wanted to be with.

Claire truly was the nicest star in existence, always smiling and impeccible manners; she treated everyone kindly and was never a snob.

- she remained a beautiful and glamourous lady right to the end. She had the ability to elicit stares of admiration from everybody, even teenagers. Her skin remained luminous to the end.

- she was a talented painter; she did a portrait of me at age five sitting on an ottoman, which I still have.

- she had a beautiful, rich, melodious voice and could sing like an opera star. Her songs and duets with Ramon Novarro at parties were my introduction to culture (opera and musicals). Jeannette MacDonald would have had great competition if Claire was properly used in the talkies!!

- she had a son, Bill, who is still living in LA, I think??!!!!!

 

 

Betty Blythe - was called 'Blythe' by all her friends and she had many more than any of us.

- she was famous for her diaphonous gowns in "The Queen of Sheba" in the 20's.

- I met her at Marion Davies party in 1951 for Johnny Ray. She came in a red velvet dress with only half a top (the left side was cut out and a large ruby was 'stuck' to her left ****. She was very voluptuous!!! And very outspoken - I first learned the "F" word from her and had no idea what it meant (I was only 9 and it was the 50's) but she explained it.

- she was my grandmother's best friend along with Marion and Nell and betty partied and got into lots of trouble all over the world. Another partying dame in that crowd was Countess Dorothy di Frasso, Gary Cooper's lover.

- Blythe went to everyone's parties, whether invited or not; so people just invited her anyway. Poor Edie Goetz abhored her but Louise Fazenda adored her....

- she was rumoured to have slept with Picasso in the 20's and she did have a portrait of herself done by him - in the nude naturally....

- Rex Harrison, who loved her dearly, and george Cukor, who didn't, were cajolled by Nell into giving Blythe a part in "My Fair Lady" and she ended up with 1 line at the Embassy Ball.

She was lovingly photographed by Harry Stradling, a personal friend of hers.

After securing that part with Jack Warner, Blythe then harrassed him into getting parts for Barbara Pepper, Marjorie Bennett, Lillian Kemble Cooper and Queenie Leonard.

 

 

Both these dear friends died in 1972 within a few weeks of each other.

 

Larry

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Larry, now your cooking with gas. Did you know Barbara Pepper who was a beauty in her day especially in "Our Daily Bread". She was also a good friend to Lucille Ball.

And how about the delightful Marjorie Bennett who played Victor Buono's little mum in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?". She was a hoot.

 

Mongo

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Hi Mongo,

 

No, I didn't know Barbara Pepper but Blythe did. Pepper was also Mrs. Ziffel, Arnold the pig's "mother" on Green Acres...... Remember that???

 

I did know Marjorie Bennett slightly from various parties we both were at.

This is a story I once heard about her: She once was at one of Clifton Webb's Sunday brunches. Clifton and his mother, Maybelle, usually entertained at a lawn party at their home. Marjorie, who really resembled Maybelle quite a bit, was asked by a late arrival if she was Clifton's mother. And, Marjorie, who was quite a quick wit, said drolely, "No dear, I'm his wife!!"..... Clifton nearly had a heart attack as everyone laughed up a storm.........

My favourite line of Marjorie's is in "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane" when she answers the phone and says (cooing into the phone, trying to be posh) "Halloh, this is Mr. Flagg's sek-a-tari" Remember that? I can still see and hear her doing it....

Yes, you're right, she was a hoot!!!!

 

Larry

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Larry, I remember that scene that with Marjorie Bennett, it's a classic. Cigarette hanging out of her mouth and everything.

 

In one of your last posts, you mentioned that you knew Ramon Navarro. Do you have any stories about him?

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Larry, I just read in Mongo's "Ask Mongo" thread that you know some old stars that are living in New York. May I ask which ones? I'm not aware of any stars of Hollywood's Golden Age living in the city, aside from Patricia Neal, Lauren Bacall, and Farley Granger. Oh, and Marge Champion has an apartment too, as well as a place in Massachusetts.

 

Geraldine Fitzgerald was in the city, but last I heard she was out at the actor's home in New Jersey. And I heard that Shelley Winters had an apartment for awhile, but I think she has since sold it and is permanently out in California now. The only other old star that I can think of is Lena Horne, who still lives in a beautiful building on the Upper East Side.

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Hi Joe,

 

Sorry to mislead you, but most of the people that I know now in NYC are not and were not stars.

They are 2 secretaries that worked for 2 lawyers and several old retainers, who are now retired - Nell's New York butler and 3 of her chauffers and security people (all older than God). They keep me informed but they're not 'au current' anymore really...

The only famouspeople in NYC that I still know are descendants of the Astors, the Goulds, the Rockefellers and some now-non-royal Romanovs. Nell knew all the Romanovs when they were royal, I get the left-overs....

I also know Princess Ashraf of Iran, but getting to see her is like breaking into San Quenton or should I say Sing-Sing (closer to NYC!!). I'm going to try in June when I'm there.

My last starry star was Dolores Gray and she went in 2002.

 

I still see and talk to Joan Copeland, who now does the occasonal TV show - Law & Order is one, but not recently.

 

Larry

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Hi,

 

Rex Harrison - he was the second celebrity I met (after Martha Raye). I met Rex in November 1946 at the Plaza Hotel in NYC; he was there for the premier of his movie "The Rake's Progress" and took my grandmother, Nell, as his guest. Then we all sailed for England on the Queen Mary. Nell knew his sister, Sylvia, who was the Countess of Kilmuir at the time and they were good friends.

Rex and I hung out every day at 11:00AM for boullion in The Veranda Grill and I learned much about being a proper gentleman from him. We also took a turn around the decks and twice played shuffleboard. He was really great for a four year old to be around.

- apparently he was a cold and indifferent father to his own sons, Neil and Carey, but I never had a gruff word from him.

- he took me twice to bird watch in Griffith Park in LA and was very interested in cardinals. I think he liked me because the first time I saw him I was wearing a T-shirt with a cardinal on it.

- not many people knew that he had a glass eye and sometimes he threatened to put it in people's drinks as a joke. Later, in 1960, he told me that he really only had a blind eye that had calcified (not glass).

- he had a gigantic collection of records, mostly swing music. And he enjoyed dancing to big band music with Nell and Rose Douras, Marion Davies sister.

- he was very upset when Marion, then Rose, then Nell all died and he came to all their funerals. He enjoyed those 'party girls'. I don't know whether he went to Betty Blythe's funeral, but he enjoyed her too.

- I only saw him sporadically over the years and never knew any of his wives or children.

- in 1960, he gave me a big 18th birthday party at his villa in Portofino, Italy. It had a birthday cake with a big red cardinal in icing on top.

 

Larry

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Hi Larry -

I saw your item on Ramon Navarro, thanks for bringing it to my attention. And that was a great relationship that you had with Rex Harrison! He obviously treated you like a son.

 

And by the way, I hope you enjoy your trip to Manhattan in June. The city is beautiful then, since it's not too cold, and not sweltering hot!

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I second Movie Joe's welcome to Gotham in June, Larry! Don't miss the big Coco Chanel exhibit they're having at the Metropolitan Museum. I think it starts anyday now. She tried Hollywood but after designing Gloria Swanson's knockout wardrobe in the early talkie, "Tonight or Never," she threw in her designer towel and headed back to gay Paree!

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Hi Paty and Joe,

 

Thanks for the info on Manhattan.

I'll be filming at the MOMA, is that the museum where Coco's exhibit is?? Or the one on 5th Avenue beside Central Park?

I was once in Chanel's apartment in Paris (after she'd died) as a tourist. She had some beautiful furnishings and put together in an unusual way. There was a big (huge) chandelier with the bulbs shaped like fruit that I would have liked to buy. But, thank God I couldn't as I'm now in a 3 bedroom condo and that thing would have taken up a whole room!!!

 

Larry

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Hi Larry -

 

The exhibit that Paty mentioned is at the Met, on 5th Ave. and 81st St., right on the Park. It's right up 5th from where you'll be staying, and a beautiful walk for you to take, especially in June.

 

That's great that you'll be filming at MOMA. I go there often to see classics. They have two beautiful theaters where they play all types of classics, foreign, and indie films. They have a great collection of films as well as vintage movie posters, and they also do a lot for preservation. Try and catch a movie while you're there. Hopefully they'll be playing a good classic. I'm going on Monday to see "Lady of the Night," one of Norma Shearer's more obscure silents, and one that I know I'll never get to see if not for MOMA showing it. They're showing it as part of a small festival devoted to Louis B. Mayer, and the new biography that was recently published about him.

 

 

And Larry, if you're here at the end of June, the Film Forum which is downtown is having a festival of Paramount Pre-Codes, a whole month of them, beginning on June 24, and running through the end of July. They're showing some great ones, and all of them are shown as double features. Check out www.filmforum.com, for more info. Paty and Richardny4me - you guys should check out the lineup as well.

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Hi Joe,

 

Thanks for the great information.

Yes, I know where the Met museum is on 5th and I will try to get there for sure.

The trouble is that I have yet to receive a schedule of what I'm doing from the Polish government guy.....

I will be in NYC from June 19th to 25th and have asked and asked for an itinerary and schedule. We are filming at the MOMA because I told them that Pola Negri donated several of her films to them in the 70's and we are supposed to use some of them.

I am not used to inefficiency and delays like this and have the patience of a bull in a china shop, so you can see my predicament.....

 

I would love to meet you and Paty and Richard and any other New York people and take you all to lunch (I've been thinking about it for some time now) but without a time reference I can't plan anything to suit all of us together.

I certainly hope that they can get their "SH-T" together and give me an itinerary. I like to have things planned well in advance.

If I don't hear by the beginning of June, I may tell them to work around me and my schedule!! or I may cancel altogether.

I know how to be temperamental -- I learned from the best -- isn't that what Olivia tells Ralph Richardson in "The Heiress"?????

 

Take care and happy viewing, Joe.

Say hello to Norma for all of us....

 

Larry

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Larry,

 

Thank you, it would be great to meet you and have lunch! I actually have never seen a Pola Negri film, although I was familiar with her and recall her Horst photos in Life Magazine and the book from the Return Engagement. So a documentary about her life sounds fascinating, and since you knew her, it is great that you are able to participate.

 

Speaking of MOMA, MovieJoe that Norma Shearer film is indeed rare, that it may be too rare for even MOMA. I was also looking forward to seeing it and I saw it listed originally on MOMA's web site as well, but now it seems to have been removed and a John Gilbert film entitled HIS HOUR has replaced it:

 

His Hour. 1924. USA. Directed by King Vidor. With John Gilbert, Aileen Pringle. This steamy Elinor Glyn romance set in Egypt and Russia was one of Mayer's last independent productions and helped establish Gilbert as the star he would bring with him to MGM. Czech intertitles, English synopsis provided. Silent, with piano accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. Approx. 70 min.

 

Monday, May 9, 5:45. T2

 

 

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