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Larry's Classic Star Reminiscences


vecchiolarry

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Hi,

 

Thanks Mongo.....

 

I think that I've covered all my aquaintances that I can think of.

I still am in touch with Elaine Stewart in LA and Joan Copeland in NYC but there's no real news about anybody now-a-days that I'm interested in.

 

If there's some vintage actor or actress that anyone wants to know about, then ask (give me a name) -- I didn't know everybody though and some I've only seen in passing or talked to briefly. Otherwise, this thread is pretty much finished.

 

One thing left: just so you all don't think that Nell was an entirely horrible **** ---

When we were about to leave for Europe in 1956 from NYC, the Andrea Doria tragedy happened.

Nell personally organized food and clothing for many survivors that came in on the Ile de France. Among the survivors was Ruth Roman, who was separated from her 3 year old son. Nell put her fur coat around Ruth and stayed with the group for several hours helping the rescuers sort things out. She was a great organizer.

It wasn't till the next morning that I arrived on the scene and witnessed Ruth Roman's son coming in on the Stockholm, a very badly damaged ship and hearing him call down to her, "Mommy!"...... The look on her face could never be equalled by even the greatest actress.

It's the only time I ever saw Ruth Roman...

 

The mayor of New York gave Nell a citation for humanitarian duties the next year.

She did have her good qualities.

 

Larry

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Dear Larry,

 

I saw a documentary a little while back about Marion, and it implied that she and WR Hearst did have a daughter, who was then raised by one of Marion's sisters, and known to the public as their niece. Do you know if that is true?

 

Ayres

 

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Hi Ayres,

 

You are referring to Patricia Lake, who was married to Arthur Lake of "Dagwood" fame.

Patricia was Rose's daughter as far as I knew. But, after Pat died, her family declared that she was actually Marion's daughter by WR Hearst. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say, since I barely knew Pat or Arthur and always made a 'B-line' out the door whenever Rose appeared. However, Patricia and Arthur are buried in the same mausoleum with Marion; and Rose could be there too for all I know.

Unfortunately, all these people are dead now, so will we ever know the truth??

 

Larry

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"If there's some vintage actor or actress that anyone wants to know about, then ask (give me a name) -- I didn't know everybody though and some I've only seen in passing or talked to briefly. Otherwise, this thread is pretty much finished."

 

Oh no! Larry, this thread was great, thanks for sharing. The Marion Davies posts were especially fascinating.

 

Also, maybe I missed a post but what happened with the Pola Negri documentary to be filmed in Texas?

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Hello Richard,

 

The Pola Negri documentary (or at least, my part in it) is now to be filmed in Austin, Texas between September 19th and 22nd.

I am to talk for 20 minutes apparently about her personal life and show several momentoes that she gave to me. This film is a major undertaking between the Polish film industry and Mirimax, and is to be 2 to 3 hours long and premiered next May at Cannes; so I will be making my film debut at Cannes!!!! Who knows - perhaps an Oscar in my future???!!!

Then, I go on to Los Angeles for vacation till October 6th and then to San Francisco till October 17th for a conference and vacation combined. That's my itinerary so far.

 

Larry

 

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Hi Larry!

 

I'm already greatly excited about the Pola Negri documentary. Like Mae Murray, she's another legendary name from the distant past whose work is all but forgotten today. Will this documentary include film clips, as well? Reason I asked is that I can't find a single movie of her's available on tape and God knows on DVD to watch. This woman had to have had something going for her to be signed by Paramount as a possible threat to la Swanson. As for Murray, I taped "The Merry Widow" off TCM last year but the print was terrible. I'd be in movie heaven if someone found a copy of Murray's work--like "Valencia" or "Jazzmania"! I remember watching Negri in the Walt Disney movie and was struck by her voice. From what i understand, her voice was deep, musical and emotional, which should have made her a natural in roles that Garbo was starred in. But Garbo had MGM looking out for her and Negri seems to have been thrown out of Paramount where she had to flounder on her own. What do you think?

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Hi Paty,

 

Both Mae Murray and Pola Negri had nice voices ? Mae?s sweet and melodious and Pola?s more guttural and thickly accented. Both could sing.

Pola had a hit record out in the early 30?s called ?Paradise? which she sang in ?A Woman Commands? (1932).

Mae should have gone on to become a musical comedy star.

However, both ladies made big mistakes in the late twenties ? Mae walked out on her MGM contract in 1928 and Pola disgraced herself at the Valentino funeral fiasco and became ?box office poison??

Also, both ladies flaunted their ?royal marriages? to the Mdivani princes in the early 30?s and the public turned against them. Silly girls falling for titles given by paupers!!!!!

 

Mae Murray ?

I don?t know anything about any of her movies even being preserved let alone released on DVD or VHS. I?ve seen parts of ?The Merry Widow? one night at a silent movie tribute in the early 60?s at Paramount Studios.

Many old silent stars were present and Mae was there and the applause for her was wonderful and she was overwhelmed and touched.

TCM should be able to discern if and where Mae Murray movies are and restorable.

 

Pola Negri ?

Most of this documentary has been finished and is being edited. Many film clips from Pola?s Polish and German movies are included. All of these films have been preserved as the European cinema is considered an art form.

And all her Paramount films are reviewed as well as her acting style, which is assessed with its influence on today?s movies and actresses. Her technique is analyzed.

 

Larry

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Don't want to intrude here, but yesterday there was a chance of watching Mae Murray onscreen, in a supporting role, in the 1931 "Bachelor Apartment", which was scheduled as part of the Irene Dunne "day".

 

In that film, she portrays the flirtatious Mrs. Agatha Carraway and plays opposite debonair Lowell Sherman. It's the only time I've had a chance of listening to her voice onscreen. If anyone's interested, the out-of-print VHS of this RKO movie can be found at Amazon.com or E-Bay.

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Larry,

You made me curious about Pola's behavior at Valentino's funeral so I read about her on IMDB. Here it is:

But three things conspired to end her career in Hollywood. The display that she put on at the funeral of Valentino in 1926, changed the public mood towards her. The Hays Office codes which would not allow filming the very traits that made her a sex-siren European star. And finally, her thick accent would not play in the sound pictures that were coming into vogue.

 

So what did she do exactly,if you know? Throw herself on his coffin? Pass out? Scream? I just have to know!

Teri

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Larry,

You made me curious about Pola's behavior at Valentino's funeral so I read about her on IMDB. Here it is:

But three things conspired to end her career in Hollywood. The display that she put on at the funeral of Valentino in 1926, changed the public mood towards her. The Hays Office codes which would not allow filming the very traits that made her a sex-siren European star. And finally, her thick accent would not play in the sound pictures that were coming into vogue.

 

So what did she do exactly,if you know? Throw herself on his coffin? Pass out? Scream? I just have to know!

Teri

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Larry,

You made me curious about Pola's behavior at Valentino's funeral so I read about her on IMDB. Here it is:

But three things conspired to end her career in Hollywood. The display that she put on at the funeral of Valentino in 1926, changed the public mood towards her. The Hays Office codes which would not allow filming the very traits that made her a sex-siren European star. And finally, her thick accent would not play in the sound pictures that were coming into vogue.

 

So what did she do exactly,if you know? Throw herself on his coffin? Pass out? Scream? I just have to know!

Teri

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Larry,

You made me curious about Pola's behavior at Valentino's funeral so I read about her on IMDB. Here it is:

But three things conspired to end her career in Hollywood. The display that she put on at the funeral of Valentino in 1926, changed the public mood towards her. The Hays Office codes which would not allow filming the very traits that made her a sex-siren European star. And finally, her thick accent would not play in the sound pictures that were coming into vogue.

 

So what did she do exactly,if you know? Throw herself on his coffin? Pass out? Scream? I just have to know!

Teri

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Larry,

You made me curious about Pola's behavior at Valentino's funeral so I read about her on IMDB. Here it is:

But three things conspired to end her career in Hollywood. The display that she put on at the funeral of Valentino in 1926, changed the public mood towards her. The Hays Office codes which would not allow filming the very traits that made her a sex-siren European star. And finally, her thick accent would not play in the sound pictures that were coming into vogue.

 

So what did she do exactly, if you know? Throw herself on his coffin? Pass out? Scream? I just have to know!

Teri

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Larry,

You made me curious about Pola's behavior at Valentino's funeral so I read about her on IMDB. Here it is:

But three things conspired to end her career in Hollywood. The display that she put on at the funeral of Valentino in 1926, changed the public mood towards her. The Hays Office codes which would not allow filming the very traits that made her a sex-siren European star. And finally, her thick accent would not play in the sound pictures that were coming into vogue.

 

So what did she do exactly, if you know? Throw herself on his coffin? Pass out? Scream? I just have to know!

Teri

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Hi Fernando,

 

You could never intrude on one of my threads, you are always welcome here....

 

I've seen "Bachelor Apartment" about 10 years ago. It isn't one of anybody's best movies. I thought it was quite boring.

Mae and Lowell Sherman were very good friends and that's how she got that role. She also did another film for him called "High Stakes", which was better. But, Sherman died suddenly and there were no more rescuers for poor Maisie's career.

She did go on several dance tours around the country and did go back to Broadway but the great days were over.

When I first knew her, in 1950, she was doing "Billy Rose's Cavalcade" as a headliner with Nita Naldi also present. Mae used to get a huge round of applause even then but after that she went into oblivion......

 

Larry

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Hi Trout,

 

I did not know either Walter Pidgeon nor Ronald Colman, but I have always admired both for their gentlemanly behaviour and their acting.

You can't go wrong trying to emulate Ronald Colman!!!

 

Larry

 

P.S. - Although I'm not going to be guillotined for anyone anytime soon, thank you!!!! Ha, ha -- that's my lame effort in humour for the day...

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Hey Teri,

 

Sorry I missed your posting till now about Pola and the Valentino funeral, but I didn't scroll down far enough...

 

So the story goes:

When Valentino died in 1926, Pola walked out of Paramount and got on a train to NYC, stopping in Chicago to go shopping and charging Paramount with the bills.

(In those days and even into the 50's, you had to change trains in Chicago).

Pola arranged for a huge floral display, reading POLA, to be placed on his coffin; this was so the cameras could pick up the name!! (Publicity!).

 

Pola arrived at the funeral parlour in widow's weeds and was escorted by 2 burly publicity men to hold on to her as she wept buckets. I've seen the pictures.

She did cry over the coffin and issued a publicity statement saying that they were to be married in the spring. Part of this said, "Now I am an empty vessel". I've seen the statement.

 

She then accompanied the body back to California and posed on the back platform of the train for photographers. When one of them complained he didn't get a good photo of her, she did it all a second time.

At the funeral, she did cry over the coffin and again posed for more publicity. Whether she actually threw herself on the coffin, depends on who you believe. Most people I knew said, she just bent over it, a la Nancy Reagan; but the press say she weeped and wailed and actually did throw herself over the casket, wailing "Rudy, oh my Rudy".. Gawd, I hope not!!!

Later, when severely criticized for all this, she claimed Paramount wanted her to milk the event for her new movie.

 

The public did turn against her and movie exibitors had to resort to removing her name from her future films. In 1928, Paramount dropped her.

So, there you have it -- in 1928, two of the biggest movie queens on Earth - gonzo!!!!!

 

Who knows what really went on in Pola's head; she never talked about Rudy or Charlie or any of her other lovers with me; I was just a little boy when I knew her and when I grew up, she had moved to San Antonio.

But, I have read some articles about all of it when she made her comeback in "The Moonspinners" and I can see her doing it!!

 

Larry

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Hi, Larry:

 

That sounds like a really interesting story, so melodramatic. I've read in other places that Pola could be over the top at times; so, it wouldn't surprise me if it was true. In fact, I do have access to an historical database with old newspapers; so, maybe I'll see what I can find on coverage of Valentino's funeral, to see if there are any pictures of discussion of it in the newspapers.

 

I can tell you what happened to Lowell Sherman, though. He was the original director for the first all-strip Technicolor film, "Becky Sharp," starring Miriam Hopkins and Frances Dee in the two leading female roles, with Cedric Hardwicke and Nigel Bruce in a couple of the leading male roles. I even have a picture somwhere of the three of them (Miriam, Frances, and director Sherman having tea on the set of "Becky Sharp") between takes.

 

It seems like this film was plagued with many problems from the start, and it's a wonder the film ever got made. Among the problems were illnesses of the cast members, including the two leading ladies and the two directors of the film.

 

The first one to take ill was Lowell Sherman. The film started production in the first week of December 1934. Three weeks into production, Sherman became ill. What was exactly wrong with him, I don't know. He seemed fine in the picture, which was taken shortly before his death. Some cases I've read said he died from pneumonia; others said he had a heart attack. Probably what happened was he had a heart attack, with pneumonia being a complication from the heart attack. I don't know for sure.

 

I only know that Sherman's death almost cost Louella Parson's her radio stint. Why? Because of the way she announced Sherman's death. In that sing-songy voice of hers, she said, "My friends, I just heard that Lowell Sherman just died." Well, dear old Louella seemed a little bit too full of glee, with people calling in and complaining to the sponsors of her radio show ("Hollywood Hotel?"), saying she was behaving in a tacky manner. Considering this was just before Christmas (like December 23) made it worse. Parsons had not liked Sherman, and that did not help matters. I guess Louella had to make some kind of apology and promise never to do it again.

 

Based on what I've read in several sources, including fan magazines and interviews, that was one of several problems they had with filmings, others being the problem with the lights and the illnesses of the second director, Roubeun Mamouelien and Miriam and Frances. I read in a few magazines and newspapers of the day that all three of them came down with pneumonia. From what I understand, Frances Dee and Rouebeun Mammouelien recovered rather quickly. However, Miriam had a much rougher time of it. According to some accounts, she almost died from her illness. I'm sure the fact she smoked like a chimney didn't help her pneumonia at all.

 

Of course, one never knows, when looking at old movie magazines or newspaper articles, how accurate all of these stories are or how truthful they are. Studios like to plant stories all the time.

 

However, I do know the film went over budget. Now, Miriam did have a habit of playing all sorts of games on her movie sets; so, it could have been temper tantrums as well. Of course, the articles could have been accurate as well. The only thing I know for sure is that dear, sweet old Lollywood went almost too far. Just think what we might have missed had she been dismissed.

 

By the way, Larry, I meant to ask you, did you ever know Irene Dunne. Also, if you are on the Walk of Fame and see Mr. Ebert's star, would you mind doing me a favor and do an extra stomp for me. What an arrogant jerk, him and both of his partners.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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Hi Deborah,

 

I probably will see Roger Ebert's star on 'the walk' since I plan to walk up & down both the Boulevard and Vine Street -- but not all in one day. I'll space it out over my 2 weeks there. And yes, I will give him an extra stomp, just for you!!

 

I have seen Irene Dunne many times but didn't know her at all well. She was Loretta Young's friend and one of "The Catholic Ladies". She didn't really warm up to children and although she was polite, it came with a chill. Both Judy Lewis and I were sitting in Romanoff's one night around 1962 when she made a grand entrance in a spectacular green gown and huge white fox coat. She did the full star entrance and allowed the maiter d' to take her coat and then proceeded slowly to her table, smiling and nodding to anyone who acknowledged her. As she passed our table she stopped and and said, "And, how are you tonight, my sweets?" (It was sort of a sneery smile).

After she was seated, Judy said to me, "She reminds me of the witch, who says to Snow White, 'Go on, take a bite!!'.....

I do think she was a great star and a wonderful actress, probably the best in Hollywood history - she could do anything - comedy, drama, tragedy & musicals.

 

And, poor old Lolly Parsons -- she was one of the stupidest old bags in existance. "A silly old bat" is how Nell and Rose referred to her. She couldn't type and couldn't spell; her staff saved her many a time.

Hedda was the smart one. Louella was nicer, but Hedda was a dragon.

 

Larry

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Larry, you knew Judy Lewis? I read her book about her mother, Loretta Young and biological father Clark Gable and I really enjoyed it. It was fascinating, and as I recall Loretta was alive when it was published. It seemed to be an honest and well-written biography, without the gothic drama one usually associates with "children of the stars" books since Mommie Dearest was released.

 

 

 

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Hello Richard,

 

Yes, I knew Judy Lewis. Loretta and her mother and sisters often monitored me at church on Sundays..... That's one reason I'm not religious any more -- I never really believed all that claptrap and I had all these wardens.

 

I still know Judy and we exchange cards at birthdays and see each other whenever........

I have a gold filigree picture frame with sapphires and her picture in it. It once belonged to Loretta and was willed to Judy but she gave it to me.

I also have a picture of Loretta (my Aunt Gretch), taken in 1998, in a gold and pearl frame. Gretch gave it to me when I last visited her in Palm Springs in '98. She looks good, but older.

 

Larry

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Oh Larry -

 

Please excuse me if you have discussed him before - Greg Bautzer!! I am fascinated by him - Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers, Jane Wyman - I'm sure that is just scratching the surface ... I know that that he married Buffy Cobb and Dana Wynter - he is usually just a passing footnote in the stories of these women's lives - but gosh - he must have had "IT!" Did you ever cross paths?

 

Just plain nosy!

Madge

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Hi Larry, I was just scrolling through the thread catching up with things, and I'm so glad to hear that the Pola Negri documentary is still being made. I remember you mentioned that the project was on hold for awhile. I can't wait to see it. Are there still plans to do some scenes at MOMA or has that idea been scrapped? And thanks for more of your wonderful memories!

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