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Hello Everybody,

 

I'm starting a new thread here on one of my favourite leading ladies -- Linda Darnell........

 

Please feel free to comment on her and her career. She has been rather overlooked but was what a real Hollywood movie star was all about....

 

Here was a beautiful woman who was never enhanced by cosmetic surgery. Not for her a nose job or boob job, she didn't need it; she was perfect.

 

She is remembered today, if at all, for "Forever Amber", "My Darling Clemintine" and "A Letter to Three Wives", but I loved her in "Blackbeard, the Pirate" best.

 

I will always remember her being captured by Robert Newton and coming onboard his ship, hands on hips, bosums heaving and nostrils flaring and spitting out the line, "Get your filthy hands off me, you varmint!"

Newton: "Harr, a real spitfire here, gents"...

Darnell: "If it's spit you want, I'll give it to you in buckets!!!"

As a 10 or 11 year old pubescent boy, I was quite excited by all this and wished for a girlfriend just like her. Although what I'd have done with her, I don't know!!!!!

 

I was truly shocked and saddened and quite heartbroken when she was burned to death in 1965, aged only 41. What a tragedy.

 

Any comments or remembrances of the lovely Linda???

 

Larry

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Larry, I too am a fan of the dark beauty Linda Darnell.

I believe that she is not mentiond on the boards that much since TCM doesn't have access to many of her films which were made at 20th Century-Fox (out of sight, out of mind).

 

In any event, she was a versatile actress good at drama and with a flare for comedy. She was at her best in "A Letter to Three Wives" conniving Paul Douglas into marriage. Also enjoyed her in "Hangover Square" and "My Darling Clementine", among others.

 

I'm sure we all know by now that she was the image of the Lady in the grotto in "The Song of Bernadette".

She certainly deserves her place in Hollywood history and to be remembered fondly.

 

Mongo

 

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Darnell has always been a favorite of mine and was definitely underrated. I think she was just coming into her own as an actress when she was dropped by FOX. There is an excellent A&E Biography of Darnell included on the recent release of A LETTER TO THREE WIVES. Even though many Darnell's films have not yet appeared on TCM several of her best films are now available or coming on DVD: ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, NO WAY OUT and BUFFALO BILL. Possible releases include FALLEN ANGEL (available only in Europe), BLOOD AND SAND and HANGOVER SQUARE.

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Mongo,

 

Do you know whether she has a star on the Hollywood Blvd.?

I am going to LA with a friend and taking him to some of my old haunts, if they're still there.

I usually take my windex and a couple of rags and clean off my old pal's stars, if they have one. (I made a promise to Mercedes McCambridge to clean both of hers, so now I will clean several more).

If Linda Darnell doesn't have a star, then I will have to add her to my Marjorie Main campaign -- not that that's going so well.

 

Larry

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Larry,

 

Thanks, for your memories;-)

 

It would be a shame not to mention the lovely Miss Darnell in one of her first films, at the age of 17, one that stands up today (my kids love it!) ... The Mark of Zorro (1940), with Tyrone Power, of course. A terrific film that TCM shows regularly.

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Hi,

 

Thanks, Mongo! I'm glad to hear that Linda has a star. I usually travel up then down Hollywood Blvd. one day and then Vine Street the next. The last time I did this was in 1998, so I hope the 'powers that be' do some maintenance every once in a while.

I was quite surprised that most of the stars are fairly clean and in good shape anyway, but I had to make sure that I cleaned Mercy's stars and took a picture for her. She was a very meticulous lady and because of her stroke wasn't able to get out and about and that had preyed on her mind for a long time. She used to be seen out there cleaning her stars regularly and met so many fans that way that it made her feel warm and happy and remembered.

So, it's the least I can do for her and the others. Mercy did so much for me as a child.

 

Larry

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I just loved Linda in "A letter to Three Wives"

thought she had great on screen chemistry with Paul Douglas those two in my opinion and the women who played

Linda's mom & on top of all that Thelma Ritter too!

This ensemble made that movie great !.....lolite....

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Linda Darnell was so good in a letter to three wives. Her character was not only the most sympathetic but the most interesting and complex. In the hands of a lesser actress her character would not have been nearly as endearing or sympathetic.

 

A side note I found interesting about the movie itself (if I am remembering right)has to do with the book cases in Porter's (Paul Douglas's) house. I watched the commentary on the dvd and they pointed out that there were no books in them and this was a symbol of lack of class. Later on after Porter and Lora Mae are married the book cases have books in them. Porter had the class he was always looking for but couldn't even see it. Like I said I am not completely sure I am remembering this right so I could be completely off.

 

Anyway the point of this post was actually just to agree that Linda Darnell was a great and underrated actress.

 

 

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Hi,

 

Yes, that's one of the first things I noticed in his place - that books had been placed in those cases.

 

There was a TV remake of "A Letter to Three Wives" a few years ago with Loni Anderson playing Linda's role. And, while it was OK, Linda possessed more finesse in her interpretation and less brass.

 

BTW, the lady who portrayed Linda's mother was Connie Gilchrest, an actress who could steal any scene, just by showing up!

 

Larry

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Larry, just to advise you that the wonderful Connie Gilchrist does NOT have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and neither does the wonderful Mary Wickes.

Since Wickes was a close friend to Lucille Ball, I'm surprised that Lucie Arnaz didn't take heed to see that the lady got a star. Although she did finally arrange for Vivan Vance (Ethel Mertz) to get one.

 

Mongo

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Hi Mongo,

 

Thank you for telling me about Connie and Mary. I was wondering, as I typed out that info. on Gilchrist, if she did in fact have a star.

It seems that I will have to include these ladies in my petition to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Do they have a prejudice against talented older character actresses? I know it's really because they had no family to champion them; but they did and do have fans and used to have studios to back them. It just galls me that they are not recognized.

When I go to LA, in late September, I have a meeting with 2 members of the Board on the 30th and will strongly advocate a star for all three ladies. (I had to dredge up Nell's family - the Doheny's - to bring some clout to get that meeting. The Doheny's are still a powerful force in LA).....

Wish me luck.

 

Larry

 

Larry

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Larry,

 

Oh yes I agree, Linda Darnell is very underrated, and unfortunately mostly forgotten. The A&E Biography of Darnell that Edge mentioned is indeed excellent, I think it is one of the best of that series. It really details why her star rose and then fell once she left Fox. I understand that the documentary is on A LETTER TO THREE WIVES as a bonus.

 

HANGOVER SQUARE is number one on the list of her films that I have yet to see. I hope it is released on DVD soon.

 

But FOREVER AMBER is the main film of her career that is the most overdue for DVD release. Perhaps it is also the most in need of restoration. Hopefully Fox retained the original ending and the other footage the censors insisted they delete, such as a scene of her in a bathtub, which would probably be G-rated by today's standards. Her acting was very good, and she looked so great in Technicolor!

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This is a great thread guys!

 

First of all I have to say that I COMPLETELY support you Larry, in your quest to get stars for the great Marjorie Main, Mary Wickes, and Connie Gilchrist. You know, just last night I was watching a few minutes of Ingrid Bergman's "A Woman's Face," as I was drifting off to sleep, and all I could think about was Connie Gilchrist, and how memorable she was in Joan Crawford's version of that movie. (Crawford was excellent in it too).

 

And I'm also a fan of Linda Darnell's, ever since I saw her in "A Letter To Three Wives." What really impressed me about her was that not only was she incredibly beautiful, but she acted brilliantly, and just seemed like a cool kinda gal. I can picture her being very friendly and down-to-earth off screen.

 

Just recently I saw her in "Fallen Angel," on the Fox Movie Channel, and those of you who get that station should keep your eyes peeled for it, since that station will usually re-run a movie many times before putting it back in their vaults. I thought it was great, she and Dana Andrews were very good together.

 

About a year ago a local multiplex showed "Forever Amber" on a Wednesday afternoon. Actually, on the first Wednesday of every month there are two theaters here on the island that play a classic movie and admission is only $1. It's done for the senior community, but since I was working nights then, I was able to go, and there I was, me and about a hundred grandparents. Thank goodness a couple of them brought their grandkids, otherwise I would've been the youngest one there! But anyway, I had never seen "Amber" before, and I was very impressed with it, especially with Darnell who I thought was better than Cornel Wilde in it. She was the focal point of the whole movie, and she was great. And the story was great too, since her life was such an adventure. And going back to what you said Richard, it does need restoration, because the print that I saw was a little choppy, and the colors were murky. I can only imagine how glorious it would look restored! Hopefully Fox's print of it looks better than the one I saw.

 

You know, another thing I loved about Darnell was her voice. It suited her perfectly. I thought it was very sexy.

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Hi, MovieJoe79:

 

I also love Linda Darnell. She and Tryone Power had great chemistry together. My mother told me how scandalous "Forever Amber" was in its day, but compared to what they have now, it's nothing. I think Peggy Cummings was originally supposed to do the role, but the studio decided during filming to replace her with Linda, who was the perfect Amber.

 

They are going to have a whole bunch of Linda Darnell movies on on Fox Movie Channel in June and July. They've already shown "Fallen Angel," with one of Linda's better roles. Then they are going to show "Daytime Wife" in July. My favorite performance (of both her and Tyrone Power) is in "Mark of Zorro," one of my favorite films.

 

I've always felt a special connection to Linda because of her Illinois connection. You see, Glenview, Illinois is not too far from where I live. I remember when that fire claimed her life and my mother talking about her. They said they were watching one of her old movies (she, her former secretary, and her daughter). I believe the film was "Star Dust."

 

Anyway, a fire broke out in the house, apparently caused by careless smoking. Linda supposedly got out of the house, but mistakenly thought her friends were still inside; so, she went back in. When firemen found her, she had third degree burns all over her body. Of course, back then they could not do the stuff with burn victims like they can now. Even so, third degree burns over about 70% of your body is really bad. She died the next day, I believe, with her daughter at her side. She was only 45.

 

This was one of the great tragedies of Hollywood. I never understood why her career ended the way it did. Linda was a fine actress.

 

Deborah

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It is funny because I found a beautiful article in one of my 1000 old Life magazines my sister and I got off a library collection yesterday about Linda Darnell at age 16 and it was saying how she had the body of a 20 something and was playing an adult role in her first movie? or something ( I put it away now and am not sure what movie that was, or if it really was her first ). It had some pretty gllamour shots of her in a bathing suit and movie stills. 16! It is hard to believe- she seemed 100% woman!

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It is a shame about the way Linda died. I've always admired the fact that she was a hero though, since she did go back inside the house to find the girl who she thought was still inside. I had also read, (and I wish I could remember where I read it) that they were indeed watching "Star Dust" that night of the fire, on the Late Show.

 

Deborah, do you remember where you read the details of her death? Perhaps it's the same place I read it. I think it was in a book about Hollywood tragedies, or something like that.

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Hi Deborah and Joe,

 

I remember quite vividly where I heard about her death. It was in early 1965 and it was all over television and in the newspapers. It was a very big news story -- the tragic death of a movie star.

She was badly burned and found behind the livingroom chesterfield. The fire chief said she had gotten out but couldn't find her secretary's daughter outside and returned to rescue her. She was probably overcome by smoke and passed out and was unnoticeable to the firemen behind the couch. She was found after the fire was out and died the next day in hospital. She was unrecognizeable and under a morphine drip for the pain. Her daughter (can't remember her name) was airlifted from LA to Illinois(??) by the air force to be with her in the hospital. Linda had done a great deal of war bond fund raising for the military during the war and so this was payback from the Pentagon.

 

Both of you are probably too young or weren't even born yet when this all took place, but I'm old and crochety and remember quite well. Well, most of it anyway, although a lot of it is through a dense fog!!!

1965 was a year of deaths for me: Mae Murray died on March 23rd and Nell died on March 31st. And, a week later, Linda Darnell was burned to death. She was a big crush for me, even then. Then within a few months Jeannette MacDonald and Clara Bow were dead, too!!!!!

 

Larry

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Hi, Larry and MovieJoe

 

Actually, I heard about it originally on the news. I lived in Chicago at the time and am about 45 minutes from Chicago now. Glenview is a North Suburb.

 

I will admit I really didn't know who Linda was at the time, although I had seen the "Mark of Zorro" on something called "Family Classics," a Chicago-area program. I knew she had died in the fire, which was splashed all over the news in the Chicago area.

 

Incidentally, Larry, if I'm not mistaken, I believe Linda's daughter was named Charlotte, although I could be wrong. I'm assuming that Linda was in some area hospital, around Glenview, although she could have been airlifted to a hospital with a burn unit. It seems that when it rains it pours when tragedy happens. Did you know Jeanette and Clara? I know you knew Mae Murray.

 

I remember reading, later, probably in same book as MovieJoe79, about her daughter visiting her in the hospital and being with her. If she had survived, Linda would have been horribly scarred; so, it was probably merciful she did die.

 

I don't remember about either Jeanette MacDonald, and I did not know who Clara Bow was back then. I do remember hearing on the radio when Nelson Eddy died two years later, during a concert (in Miami, Florida, I believe). He had a heart attack between numbers.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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Hi Deborah,

 

No, I didn't know Jeannette MacDonald nor Clara Bow.

I had seen Jeannette perform a couple of times in concerts and once tried to get backstage to congratulate her, but she was a rather difficult lady and refused all visitors, even Irene Dunne and Loretta Young that night.

I had heard about Clara Bow numerous times from various people, but never met her.

I also did not know Linda Darnell; I was simply a simpering 'love-sick' fan. I was merely implying that 1965 was a year of "death" for many former greats.

 

The only 2 who personally affected me were Mae Murray and my grandmother, Nell.

Mae's was pretty well expected and a blessing & relief really, as she was in full dementa by then.

But, Nell's surprised everyone. She was in good health and on her way to Mae's funeral; as she decended her staircase and reached the foyer, she fell over dead at her butler's feet. Poor Herbert tried to revive her and told the housekeeper to call emergency but Nell had had heart failure and was gone.

The biggest surprise at Mae's funeral was when the priest announced that Eleanor Doheny was dead and columnist Sidney Skolsky said rather loudly, "I never thought anything would kill that old ****!" (Nell had once bitten him and given him blood poison)........ Several years later, Shirley MacLaine did the same thing to him -- he didn't have much luck with the ladies!!!

 

BTW, the exact same death happened to Loretta Young's husband, Jean Louis, as he was going to church. He reached the foyer and dropped dead at Loretta's feet.

 

Love Ya,

Larry

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WOW! Larry, I just got a gander at this post and was surprised to learn how your grandma Nell actually died.

Although it was quick, and no suffering, it certainly was a shock. By the way, how old was she?

 

It's a hoot that she gave columnist Sidney Skolsky blood poison. I believe I have a book by him stashed away some where.

 

Mongo

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Hi Mongo,

 

Nell was 75. She was born on February 2, 1890. She was in good health all her life and very energetic; she could dance all night and drink anyone under the table.

I guess it all caught up with her, at last.

 

Larry

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Larry, it's good that your grandmother went quickly though. I would rather die a quick death after living a full life, then linger on for many uneventful years.

 

And I am WAY too young to remember Linda Darnell's death, but I know I read about it in a book someplace, and I remember how shocked I was when I read it, because I couldn't imagine her dying in that way. But, she seems like she was such a genuinely great person, I guess God wanted her early.

 

And I have to say, I'm honestly surprised to read that Jeanette MacDonald was a difficult lady, and would even refuse to see fellow legends Irene Dunne and Loretta Young! I always assumed that MacDonald was down to earth. Maybe she was just in a bad mood that night.

 

And Larry, isn't there a Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills? Does it have anything to do with your grandmother's name? I know you've said that she was socially prominent and came from money, so was the street named after that side of your family?

 

 

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Hi Joe,

 

Yes, Doheny Drive and Doheny Road and Doheny Blvd. are all named after the Doheny family and also the Doheny Eye Institute and the Doheny Library.

There are still a large number of Dohenys in LA and California, descendants of Nell's brother, Ned.

They're all still pretty powerful there and the Doheny name can still open doors for me at the snap of my fingers. That's how I got an interview with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. I'm not above using my relatives but my father would be horrified if he knew I did. What he doesn't know won't hurt him!!!!

 

Larry

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Larry, thanks for all your great posts! I couldn't

remember Connie Gilchrist's name for the life of me when

posting a senior moment i subpose:( Larry give the Hollywood chamber of commence your two cents for the wonderful ladies who need their star! I'm with ya on

that one! wink! wonderful to have you share yourself

with us on these boards thanks have a good cold drink

on these hot summer days lolite blue....

 

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