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LINDA DARNELL for Star of the Month October 2013


Arturo
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*What about Linda's daughter during these final years of Linda's life?*

Well, Linda and daughter Lola Marley had a difficult relationship during the last half of the 50s and into the 60s. When Linda drank (and she seemed to drink constantly when her career was not doing well, and as her financial situation grew more and more precarious), she would lash out at those around her: husband, family members, employees, friends, AND Lola.

Lola always felt somewhat abandoned while growing up, staying with family or friends, or in boarding school, as her mother was often away from home filming a movie, doing summer stock, or focused on her charity drives. Her times with her mother when Linda was in town were usually of a short duration during the day. Lola learned to stay away when her mother had been drinking, as she could suddenly become extremely upset. Lola even felt her life threatened on more than one occasion, and knew that if she could outrun her mother to get upstairs, she would be safe.

Lola really enjoyed the early days of Linda's marriage to Robby Robertson, because he made sure there were many outings of the three of them together, and she felt a part of a real family. Later, as that marriage started to turn sour (we'll get to that shortly), Linda's drinking, which had been somewhat abated, returned with a vengeance. By then Lola had her pre-teen/young teen rebellion issues to add to her resentments. But just as a brief preview, their relationship ends on a positive note (such as it is).
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I believe she still is; at any rate she did contribute to episodes done on Linda's life by A&E's Biography, and AJ Benza's Hollywood Mysteries, ....

 

Both of these programs were done in the late 90s/early 00s.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Mar 21, 2013 9:02 PM

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It would be great if you could locate the daughter and conduct an interview with her. Lana Turner's daughter has cooperated with biographers quite a bit and has even helped write various materials regarding her famous mother. It would be nice if Linda's daughter could also do that.

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FYI, Linda Darnell will be featured in two good westerns this Saturday morning on Fox Movie Channel:

 

 

6:00 am EST, 3 AM PST:

 

 

 

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE

 

A western classic about Wyatt Earp (Fonda) and Doc Holliday (Mature) and their clash with the Clanton family at the O.K. Corral.

*Cast:* Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Tim Holt, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan, Alan Mowbray

*Director:* John Ford

1946

 

 

 

 

 

7:45 am EST, 4:45 AM PST:

 

 

 

TWO FLAGS WEST

 

The commander of a cavalry fort in the West during the Civil War is forced to accept a unit of Confederate prisoners who have volunteered to fight Indians under Union command as an alternative to rotting in POW camps.

*Cast:* Joseph Cotten, Linda Darnell, Jeff Chandler, Cornel Wilde

*Director:* Robert Wise

1950

 

 

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In 1960, Linda DArnell ventured into a new aspect of show business. As decent movie offers dried up, she had concentrated in the previous few years doing television dramas and stage productions. However, her husband, Robby Robertson, had taken over managing her career, and now convinced her to do a nightclub act. Linda was skeptical; her singing voice, which was pleasant enough, wasn't all that great, although she had sung in several of her movies. Likewise, her dancing skillswas not enough to challenge Betty Grable or Ann Miller. Nevertheless, Robbyy cajoled her until she agreed, basically because the money was substantially more lucrative. She spent months working on a stage act, changing and finetuning it. She would be teamed with an opera singer, Thomas Hayward, and she would do passages from some of her films as well as singing. She never felt confortable with this, although she bravely told the press, "Like General MacArthur, old movie stars never fade away; they just come back in something else"...or something along those lines.Unfortunately, her uncertainty, nervousness and insecurity in this new guise led her drinking to increase again, this time to dangerous levels. More to come......

 

Edited by: Arturo on Mar 22, 2013 8:52 PM

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Linda Darnell spent the last several months of 1959 and the first months of 1960 working on her upcoming nightclub act. She felt nervous about the prospect, for several reasons. She felt that it was an undignified way to trade in on her name, cheapening it in the process; she felt uneasy to be in front of live audiences without the script of a play; and she also felt that she would not live up to audiences expectations in terms of her image and appearance. She continued to see-saw with her weight, which was not helped by the fact that she was once again drinking heavily as her insecurities manifested themselves. Nonetheless, her husband and now business manager continued to insist that the money to be made, and their dire financial situation, made it imperative that she continue with this new career course.

 

Well, after tryouts and tinkering throughout the Spring of 1960, Linda opened in June in the Boston area. The reviews were gratifying, including one from Variety. She then performed a different venues around the country in the last half of 1960 and into 1961. However, despite usually strong attendance figures, and wild applause and cheering when she would make her first appearance, she felt nervous every night before showtime, often be drenched in perspiration, and fortified herself with her drinking. This also led to vicious fights with her husband; after one in Chicago, she attempted to throw herself out of the hotel window, but was restrained physically by Robby and her stage partner. Due to this, Robby cancelled her upcoming engagements, including in Las Vegas, and checked her into a facility where she could rest and sober up. She was released around the beginning of summer, and toured in summer stock.

 

New engagements for her nightclub act in the fall of 1961 included newly resheduled ones in Vegas; here she would get $10,000 a week. However, her drawing power there was not what it had been around the country, and she faced drunk, hostile audiences. Although Linda would laugh it off publicly, she was privately humiliated by the poor reception she was accorded there; this was probably the biggest failure of her career.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Mar 25, 2013 3:17 PM

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Because of your kindness in posting the FMC schedule on the Hot Topics thread, I was able to watch Fallen Angel. It was not surprizing that Linda had four costars vying for affections. I saw a clip of Linda on You Tube when she was the mystery guest on the old quiz show What`s My Line. She was charming and very funny. It is too bad that A Letter To Three Wives isn`t shown more often. She was the best of the three wives.

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Thank you Sapphiere for your comments. I agree that in FALLEN ANGEL it isn't difficult to see why the men are all after Linda. And her What's My Line clip is a highlight from that period, imho, with Linda doing a skillful Italian accent, and seemingly confirming her funloving nature that many of her costars commented upon. ALTTW was one of last year's Essentials, but I agree it could be seen a bit more often.

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In the fall of 1961, right after the poor reception her nightclub act received in Las Vegas, Linda Darnell did the show on a ship which sailed to Hawaii, and then for the last time in Honolulu. She had spent the previous two years, for the most part, rehearsing or performing this. She never felt confortable doing it, and was usually drinking heavily to fortify herself. In the midst of this, she had been in a sanatarium to rest and dry out. But she wanted out from what she felt was a cheapening of her name and image.

 

Linda had done very little television during this period, as her husband/manager had her work on the act, basically appearances on talk shows to promote the show, or on behalf of the charity for which she was the national spokesperson, the Kidney Foundation. There is a clip of her on a Chicago teen dance show on youtube doing just that. I wil try to post the link here. She still looks great, and the show is from 1960 or 61.

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It's sad to read about her career (and her weight) going up and down. Robertson certainly does not seem like the ideal husband and of course, he supposedly fathered a child with another woman during the marriage. She really had a lot of bad luck with men.

 

I also read that she died because she would not jump from the window of a burning home. Maybe because she had been kept from jumping out of a hotel window earlier, she was afraid to try it when her life actually depended on it.

 

I am looking forward to your discussion of BLACK SPURS, her final film (it opened in theaters six weeks after she died). It is considered one of producer A.C. Lyle's 'geezer westerns.' She was around 40 when she made it, and now we do not consider that terribly old. Yet in the movies that is past one's prime if a career began as an ingenue, like hers did.

 

By the way, I noticed when I was looking up information about Greer Garson that Linda had her prints done at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 1940, at the very beginning of her film career. Greer's occurred in 1942. Sometimes they wait a long time. Kim Novak just finally had hers done in 2012.

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*It's sad to read about her career (and her weight) going up and down. Robertson certainly does not seem like the ideal husband and of course, he supposedly fathered a child with another woman during the marriage. She really had a lot of bad luck with men.*

Well, the weight problem is something she had since early on in her career. Even in her ingenue days there are stills of her where her face looks quite full, and her waist has added a bit. It seems some of the problem was that she was exceedingly fond of starchy foods, and had a hard time staying on rigorous diets. By the mid-40s, an additional factor was that her first husband had taught her to drink alcohol straight, and she took to it like a fish to water. She was constantly berated by Fox from that point onward to watch her weight; she had to maintain a strict diet during the very long shoot for FOREVER AMBER. Much later, in the second half of the 50s, her career frustrations led to increased drinking and more serious weight fluctuations. And in the 60s, as her marriage to her third husband soured, this only compounded the matter. More on that later.....


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She would have had a harder time if she had lived long enough to reach menopause.

 

Marion Davies had weight problems (and booze problems as well). Davies would eat a lot of rich foods between film assignments then have to crash diet. She also did a lot of sunbathing and would develop freckles. They would have to find clever ways of concealing the weight gain and the facial blemishes when she returned to the studio and stepped in front of the cameras again.

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Robertson certainly does not seem like the ideal husband and of course, he supposedly fathered a child with another woman during the marriage. She really had a lot of bad luck with men. Well it started out promisingly. Handsome and dashing, he had the looks and personality to have been a movie star himself. He gave Linda the support she needed, as well as accompanying her to the many industry functions, which she had not done with any regularity for awhile. This gave a small impetus to her career, but she was so far behind with her finances that it began to unravel after a couple of years. First Robby took over her career, and pushed her towards the nightclub act she really didn't want to do. She no longer was doing TV or stage plays, for a couple of years or so, while she worked on this. This led to insecurity about the show's viability, and due to this, her resumption of large amounts of alcohol, which in turn engendered many fights between them. He also overextended himself, with her credit, while buying properties, taking out two more mortgages and two lines of credit on her mansion. Well that house of cards wasn't long in collapsing, as the bills piled up. Her sobering up period in 1961, while a positive move in general, resulted in him having an affair with a tall, buxom Yugoslavian actress, Vera Violetta Grivoric (or close to that). Linda was furious and they separated on Valentine's Day 1962. They tried to reconcile later that year, but when she found out Robby's mistress was pregnant, she furiously filed for a divorce. Actually friends think she decided to bow out so that he could do the right thing, marry her, and give his child his name. Anyway, late in 1963, she got her divorce, but by then, her house had been foreclosed upon. While Linda obviously found something good in each of the men she was involved with, they all ended up imparting to Linda some long-term problems of one sort or another. First husband Pev Marley taught Linda how to drink straight liquor, and insisted that she do that regularly. He also demanded that Linda pay him $125,000.00 to not contest her divorce, and to keep quiet about her relationship to Joseph Mankiewicz. This of course resulted in her precarious financial situation for the rest of her life; she often took whatever role came along just to keep afloat, instead of being more selective and waiting for a better opportunity. Her affair with Joe Mankiewicz had him convincing her that she needed psychoanalysis, thereby tapping into her inner hurt and rage, leading to her acquiring some neurotic tendencies, as well as her venting her anger with sudden ease. He later dealt a mortal blow to their relationship when he didn't cast her as Maria Vargas as promised, at a point when her career could've used just such a boost as the starring role in THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA. Second husband Phillip Leibmann only temporarily kept her creditors at bay; in the long run, he kept her out of the limelight at a crucial time in her career, and for Hollywood in general. She was absent from the Hollywood scene long enough that it seemed to have caused irreperable damage to her career. Plus he took back gifts thqt could've helped her remain solvent, or at least hold out for some better roles, namely, her ranch in New Mexico. And I've mentioned her last husband above. So Linda's choice of men became part of the problem with her career viability.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Mar 28, 2013 11:53 PM

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Interesting. She had a painful downward spiral. I had read that she had an outburst in the courtroom when the judge was granting her the last divorce. She supposedly lashed out at her soon-to-be-ex for fathering the child with his mistress. She felt humiliated and made a spectacle of the situation. After all that grief, I am surprised she didn't try lesbianism. Seriously.

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hwkjk:thanks for posting that link, as well about the mini-tribute to Linda. Maybe TCM was trying to do something to commemorate the day of her death, which I think was April 10, 1965. Here's hoping a SOTM for her is in the offing.

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Topbilled: I borrowed a laptop, but don't know what's wrong with it....it won't let me indent or start a new paragraph; you may have noticed when I edited my post from yesterday, the highlighted quote of yours was no longer BOLD, and everything ran together. Anyway, I want to comment on one more thing from that same post of yours re: Linda's prints at Graumann's Chinese Theater. These were done in March 1940, in conjunction with the premiere of STAR DUST, her third movie, and one loosely based on her discovery and arrival in Hollywood (and on a tragic note, which she watched just hours before hear death). Anyway, this movie ends with Linda's character leaving her prints in Graumann's Forecourt, so life imitated art in this instance. Don't really know how this ritual is decided; maybe it's like the Stars on the sidewalks; someone has to sponsor the artist.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Mar 29, 2013 6:18 PM

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Late in 1961, when Linda and husband Robby returned from their trip to Hawaii, where Linda last performed her nightclub act that she despised, they anxiously awaited news of the Bel Air fire that was raging near Linda's home. Luckily it was spared, but another conflagration was about to engulf the couple. Linda's secretary noticed some unusual items charged to Linda's hotel bill in Hawaii. She digged deeper, and soon uncovered evidence of Robby having an affair. She told Linda, who became enraged at her for disclosing it. She and Robby fought bitterly, he moved out of her house, and she sought an injunction from using her credit cards. She filed for divorce on valentine's Day 1962. Linda found out that Robby was involved with Yugoslavian actress Vera Violetta Gregovic, and as Linda was drinking heavily, there were reports in the press of altercations between the two women. Friends could see that Linda's mental condition was in a precarious state, and she apparently attempted suicide around this time. For awhile, there was an attempt at a reconciliation, but when Linda found out Gregovic was pregnant, she went through with the planned divorce. Besides accusing Robby of countless affairs with other girls, she also stated that he had mismanaged her finances. Some time, later, after her testimony, she was granted a divorce, in late 1963. Her deep depression and heavy drinking over this had kept her from attending to her career, such as it was by then, but she realized with her continuing financial crisis, she had to do what she knew, perform in some form or another.

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I am going to have to watch STAR DUST again. Thanks for reminding me about that.

 

To get a star on the walk of fame, I think the individual needs to have worked in the Hollywood community for at least ten years. And there is usually a petition with x-number of signatures required before the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce considers someone.

 

I do not know what the requirements are for the prints in front of the old Grauman's Chinese Theatre (which has undergone several name changes in recent years).

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In 1963, Linda Darnell, newly separated and soon to be divorced from her third husband, found her world in dire straits. Her financial situation was in shambles; that year, her hillside home was foreclosed upon. Her drinking had reached dangerous levels, posing a threat to daughter Lola's well-being. Lola, unable to cope with her mother's sudden anger she unleashed when drinking, had moved in with her father, Pev Marley. However, he died around this time of an apparent heart attack, forcing Lola to return to live with her mother.

 

Linda had gone back to work, if tentatively at first, both because she needed the validation of her worth that she could only get from her career, and more immediately, she really needed to be making money. She returned to stagework, but she didn't return to doing TV, such as she had in the late 50s. A viable movie role never materialized at this time, although she would have welcomed a return to filming. There is a pseudo credit from a movie role Linda supposedly made at this time, THE CASTILIAN (VALLEY OF THE SWORDS). However, she is not in this. She may have been offered a role in this (the most appropriate part would have been that of the queen, played by Viveca Lindfors), but either turned it down, or was unable to travel to Spain due to her financial mess. For this reason, it is highly implausible she would have appeared in it, in an unbilled part as an extra, a la Elizabeth Taylor in QUO VADIS. This credit has shown up on some of her filmographies since the 60s until the present day.

 

PS - I recently saw for the first time online a television drama Linda had done back in 1957, an episode of CLIMAX! titled "Trial By Fire" (although I stumbled onto the site, and can't seem to find it anymore). Linda plays a distraught mother of a 13 year old boy who is accused of setting a forest fire, which causes much damage to their resort community. Linda, who looks very much like she did in ZERO HOUR (she must've filmed this soon after that one, in the late spring of 57), has several great scenes, where she shows her acting ability, where she has much more opportunity to do so than in any of the other TV shows she did (from those I've seen). So it lends credence to her improved acting near the end of her career, honed on TV dramas and stage plays, and which makes her not getting any acceptable movie offers the more lamentable.

 

Edited by: Arturo for clarity, since the computer at work allows me to separate by paragraph, while the one I borrowed doesn't even allow me to space more than one.

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http://archive.org/details/ClimaxTrialByFire?start=173.5

 

I found the link I mentioned below to the TV drama "Trial By Fire". As I watched it again, I decided to add some new observations. Despite the poor quality of the video, I can see that Linda has lost a little weight in the short time that had lapsed since she had filmed ZERO HOUR!. This I gather mostly from her face, which seems slightly less full in TBF (she wears an overcoat or a loose sweater throughout TBF, so with the poor image quality, it's hard to tell if she looks noticibly thinner bodywise from ZH). She also looks more glamorous here, due mainly to the makeup, which was probably done to emphasize her character of a mantrap.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Apr 2, 2013 3:16 PM

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