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Larry's Classic Star Reminiscences


vecchiolarry

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Hello Everyone,

 

Lana Turner - she rented a couple of houses from my grandmother over the years, but not the infamous one on Bedford Drive.

- I knew Cheryl Crane, her daughter, from 1947 on. But, I wasn't around when she killed Stompanato. I went to school in Switzerland from 1957 to 1960 and lived in Germany then.

- my grandmother and I attended two of Lana's wedding:

#3 - Bob Topping - it took place in Billy Wilkerson's house in Bel Aire in 1948. It was beautiful and flower laden and Lana was all in gold lace.

Next morning, Hedda Hopper arrived at their hotel suite and ate their wedding breakfast and demanded an 'exclusive' interview. Topping told her it was an 'obtrusive' invasion by a real old dragon barging into a ****. Hedda never had a good word for Lana again.

#4 - Lex Barker - this was a hurried affair in Turin, Italy in 1953, with 'papparazzi' chasing our cars at high speed to the Turin Town Hall and then a quickie ceremony, not romantic at all. And, Lana fainted.

- at Lana's wedding to Lex, Cheryl told me that she would marry me; she was 10, I was 11.

- Lana once told reporters that she had planned to have 1 husband and 7 children, instead of the other way around.

- I think Lana had very low self esteem and was unsure of herself, deep down. She would agonize over every eyelash and examine her makeup through a magnifying glass; then inspect herself in a full length mirror, often unapprovingly. Her cotumes had to have everything to go with the dress - shoes, purses, even underwear - often not seen on film.

I must say I got tired and bored with it all when I worked on "Bachelor in Paradise".

- when she lived in Malibu Beach, next door to me, she would always be in the sunshine, and was quite tanned underneath all that makeup.

- once in London in 1957, we went for a long, long walk together in the pouring rain, near Regents Park, I said to her, "You look like a drowned rat, who'd ever believe you're Lana Turner!!"... We were both soaked......

- I read that when she was diagnosed with throat cancer, her doctor recommended having her jaw removed to check the flow of the disease and she adamently refused, saying, "I made my fortune on this face, and I'll go out with it".

- she had a good sense of humour -- my favourite remembrance of her -- when working on "Bachelor in Paradise", her makeup man, Del Armstrong, asked me to press a powderpuff onto her cheeks between takes. I approached her and told her what Del had instucted me to do. She laughed and said, "Upper or lower??"..... I love that story!

 

Larry

 

 

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Hi Larry -

 

Thanks so much for the invitation to lunch! I'll certainly keep it in mind. And it's nice to know that Pola Negri donated a lot of her films to MOMA. Although, I can't remember the last time I saw one scheduled at the museum. Hopefully they'll have a whole festival of them once the documentary is completed. And thanks for telling us about Lana. She sounds like she was pretty down to earth for a star. Walking in the rain? I didn't think "stars" did that!

 

And Richard, I was unable to go to MOMA on Monday for "Lady of the Night," and I was more than annoyed that I missed it, so in a way, I'm glad they didn't show it! And I would've been **** to have gone all the way over there just for a John Gilbert movie! But, I'm going to contact the museum to find out why they didn't play it. Perhaps their print is so old it can't even go through the projector. I hope that's not the case, but I can't think of any other reason why they would take it off the schedule.

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Hi Joe and Richard,

 

It is possible that Pola Negri's films are damaged. I know a fellow in Denver who has tried to get copies of the MOMA films she donated and was told that they were all old nitrate films in their original Paramount cases.

These need to be kept in a cool dry climate and she had them stored incorrectly. So, that may be why MOMA hasn't shown them. She donated 7 movies in the 70's, so they'd be 50 years old by then and deteriorated possibly. Just guess work on my part though......

I always got the impression from my Denver friend that MOMA didn't really care that they had these.....

 

Also, my New York trip is postponed, I think(??) because of visa problems with the Polish government personnel. Not definite but I'm left hanging.

I will definitely have a luncheon with you if I arrive there.

 

Larry

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Hi Joe,

 

I will certainly keep you all in the loop as to my NYC trip......

 

I will be interviewed about Pola's personal life as it pertained to me.

I actually cannot contribute anything about her professional life as I know only about 2 days in London at the start of "The Moonspinners" in '63. Nothing more.

I really have never seen much of her movies, only snippets and some scenes.

 

Larry

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Everyone,

 

Joe -

You wanted to know about the banquet last night and The Queen:

Well, there were 1400 people at our convention centre and The Queen and Prince Philip arrived at 7 precisely.

We had pheasant and lamb and a nice white cake with mocha-caramel icing and sorbet. Red wine and champagne for a toast and then it was all over around 10:30.

Saw The Queen and Prince but didn't meet them, although my mother (at another table farther away) got a kiss on the cheek from Prince Philip. She knows him from years ago.

It was all very well done and the food was excellent (for a banquet!!).

 

Larry

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This is a fascinating thread, and I want to be sure I get in on the replies. I must go to the beginning, and read all the way through. Thank you for sharing of yourself, Larry. Again, fascinating. : )

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  • 1 month later...

Hello Everybody,

 

Joe and Richard -

Well, as you can see, I didn't get to New York City last week as planned.

This documentary is now going to be filmed in Austin, Texas at the end of July. The Polish producer will not be told that Pola Negri lived in San Antonio, not Austin and so we are now filming in Austin...... Can you believe it!!

I don't know what I'm supposed to do with myself in Austin, Texas for 4 days - I know nobody..

Also, there's the travelling to get there and back, transferring in Denver and Dallas. I hate airports and airport security and I'm seriously considering not going. Maybe a case of the bubonic plague will hit me!!!

I have told them that I will be in LA in September and to film then, as this would be more conducive to a movie stars documentary, but no - they only have visas for Austin in July...... Eeeeeeeeee......

 

Larry

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Hi Larry,

 

I'm fairly new to the board and all your experiences sound amazing. I wish I could have met all those people. I'm so jealous. Anyway, I obviously noticed that your family must have had a lot to do with film. What kind of film job did you have that led to all those wonderful experiences.

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Hi Kelsea 25,

 

I had very little movie experience as such, although I worked in some MGM departments from 1961 to 1964.

 

Some other experiences are related on "Ask Mongo" in the 'Information, Please' section around March 29th or so. You may want to check that out.

I transferred to this thread so as not to infringe on Mongo's territory.

 

Larry

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Larry, that is too bad the location was moved to Austin. Although why Austin when she lived in San Antonio is almost worth taking the trip just to see why they made such a divergent choice. But I said almost. Changing planes and waiting for connections is always my least favorite part of traveling.

 

I hope whenever that documentary is finished it plays in NYC somewhere, if done right it a story about Pola Negri sounds fascinating, and just seeing surviving clips of her films would make it worthwhile!

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Hello Everyone,

 

Today I learned that poor Zsa Zsa has had another stroke and had an operation to assist her.

She was in pretty bad shape from a car accident two years ago and has trouble walking. She's pretty much house bound.

 

Years ago, I saw her dancing and drinking champagne with Louis Calhern on the set of "Lovely To Look At" and she was quite a startling sight - all blonde hair and black satin dress and emeralds everywhere.... And, crying out "AH!!.. champagne!!!" as another bottle popped open.

Poor Zsa Zsa, that was a long time ago.....

 

I know she wasn't a great actress or even a star really, but she was gorgeous and brought beauty and wit into the world; and she was silly but harmless.....

 

Hope she's better soon.

 

Larry

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It's funny, Larry. I always say that Paris Hilton is the Zsa Zsa of today.

 

Speaking of the Gabors, I've always liked Eva & Zsa Zsa. They were both lovely ladies. And Eva was always hilarious in Green Acres. And Zsa Zsa in Moulin Rouge is just beautiful.

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I heard about the news of Zsa Zsa's stroke on the "Today" show, and they said she was in critical condition. I too hope she recovers, but who knows how badly this stroke affected her. She seems very resilient though.

 

 

That's great that you got to meet her Larry. You're right, she was never a great actress, but she's a beautiful and classy woman, and she always added something to every movie she was in. When a Gabor is on screen, what else is there to look at? And she's definitely had one helluva life! I hope she gets well.

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I'm also rooting for Zsa Zsa to pull through this latest crisis. After the operation her husband (#9) said that she gave him a big smile.

I enjoyed Zsa Zsa's antics mostly on the talk shows, of which she did many. She could be amusing and a very funny lady.

Bless you Zsa Zsa.

 

Mongo

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Hi,

 

Yes, Paris Hilton is a little Zsa Zsa'esk, isn't she. Although Zsa Zsa never ran around half dressed or is that - half naked!!!!

 

Interestingly, Zsa Zsa was once married to Paris' great grandfather, Conrad Hilton. And, Francesca Hilton, Zsa Zsa's daughter, is Paris' great aunt.

 

And yes, I must agree -- when a Gabor is on the screen, one looks at no other!!!!

 

I saw all the Gabors in 1954 when they had a nightclub act in Las Vegas at The Riviera (I think?). Magda, the eldest, was brunette and Zsa Zsa and Eva blondes and they really could sing and dance fairly well.

At the next table, sat Mama Gabor, Jolie, and she was quite spectacular also (very busomy) and she talked all night long, even through her daughters' act. Once ZZ yelled something to her in Hungarian and Mama yelled right back.... Funny!!

 

I loved the Gabors, all of them... Never dull.

 

Larry

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Everyone,

 

Today's birthday thread by Mongo made me remember a very dear date I had with Verna Felton.

In 1955, there was a big party given at Greystone, a huge mansion in Beverly Hills, for the cast and crew of "Picnic"...

My Aunt Lucy owned Greystone and so all her kids and me were commandeered into acting as escorts for any unescorted ladies. When Verna Felton came through the door, I made a bee-line for her.

She looked at the foyer and the wooden carved staircase and said, "What's up there?" and I said slyly, "My bedroom!".....

"Ooo!", she said, "Let's have a look". So up we went and I showed her all the upstairs and several bedrooms, until we got to mine, in the west wing. She marvelled at the ornate place and then sat on the bed. "I can't remember when I've been asked up to a young gentleman's bedroom before; in fact, I never have"....

Well, I told her, I have a big request of you, could you sing 'Bibbitty, Bobbitty, Boo' for just me as I've loved it since I saw "Cinderella". And, so she did and it was great and very special to me.

We then went down to our buffet and both kissed each other on the cheek as she left later that night.

Even though Harry Cohn and Kim Novak and William Holden and Jean Louis were all there, I never really noticed them.

I had my girlfriend in Verna Felton -- a real star....

I was 13 and she must have been 65, but exquisite.

 

Thanks Mongo, for mentioning her birthday and reminding me of one of my best dates.

 

Larry

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Hi Mongo,

 

Verna Felton was a trouper -- a real one..... She toured the whole countryside of US and Canada in the early years of the 20th century.

Here in Calgary, we have preserved The Palace Theatre and The Grand Theatre and they were old vaudeville houses. There are posters and programmes of all the shows from 1912 on and Verna Felton appears in several of them.

She did song and dance routines and monologues and plays.

There is a dressing room preserved in The Palace Theatre and it has a large framed portrait of her in it, among others. It was the star dressing room and she was the star.

And, she was a real looker in the teens and twenties. Yes, a real trouper all the way.

 

Larry

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Verna Felton made a big impression on me as Lucy's mean housekeeper. She scared me like she did Lucy! Yet she was so gentle and sweet in Picnic as Ms. Potts, the nice neighbor next door.

Larry, I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Victoria, B.C. and Vancouver and I noticed that Canada seems to take better care of their older buildings. (BTW, I loooooved Canada and can't wait to return.)

I wish Los Angeles would finally restore our old movie palaces downtown. Now that living in downtown L.A. is becoming fashionable with the young, and the area is getting a much-needed makeover, maybe the idea will catch on?

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Hi Cybrspacy,

 

Canada has the Canada Heritage Trust which evaluates and preserves old buildings. And, the provinces and cities also have heritage committes, so a lot of our historic places are still with us.

Hope you enjoyed your stay in BC!!!

 

Larry

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After posting this independently, I'll post it where it belongs. Sorry everyone.

 

I've spent the last 2 hours totally enthralled by this thread. What an incredible life you've lived Larry. And we only know the very tip of the iceberg. It's so great to (as someone else put it) sit at your feet and learn of these wonderful things. Please keep them coming. You did mention a while back that you were going to tell us about the men of Hollywood - and I'm waiting impatiently. hehe You obviously have very strong American roots, were you born in Canada or did you move here at some later time in life?

 

It's great to have you "just up the road" from me. :-) I'm the one from Lethbridge. As well as the last post from someone who just vacationed in Vancouver and enjoyed it. As Canadians, I'm sure you know what I mean when I say that not 'everything' happens in Toronto. lol

 

Katyscarlett

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Hi Katyscarlet,

 

How's Lethbridge and Dar Heatherington and her stupid husband??? I hear they're bankrupt now.... Ha,ha!!!!!

 

I did post something on Ramon Novarro and Rex Harrison; and some of the other guys were not all that interesting -

Cesar Romero - all round escort to Joan Crawford, Agnes Moorehead, etc.

Reginald Gardiner - ditto, although he was married, his wife never socialized much. He was a good friend to Hedy Lamarr.

William Haines & Jimmy Shields - the happiest couple in Hollywood!! So said Joan Crawford.

Teddy Stauffer - musician and owned Americana Hotel in Acapulco. Once married to Hedy Lamarr and then Faith Domergue.

Steve Cochrane - playboy and sometime actor. Had a nice yacht courtesy of my grandmother (they were close).

 

Yes, I was born in Canada, but went to LA aged 4 and returned permanently aged 22. Did return off & on to Canada in between but lived better in LA - like a prince. Went to private schools in Switzerland and Germany between 1957 & 1960, so was in Europe for those 3 years. That's about it in a nutshell!!!!

 

I agree about Toronto - it's a very dull version of NYC.

 

Go for a walk in the Japanese Gradens in Lethbridge this weekend; they're beautiful (haven't been there for ages).....

 

Larry

 

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