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When some of us film nuts get together, we love to argue over what star had the absolute worst end of them all. Was it sizzling starlet and l950 bad girl Barbara Payton ("Bride of the Gorilla") who ended up a prostitute on skidrow? Was it the phenomenal Bobby Driscoll, so brilliant as a child actor ("The Secret Door") but who died of an overdose in a New York slum? Or, could it be my favorite, former silent screen diva, Mae Murray, who lived literally like a mad queen during the Jazz Age and ended up sleeping on park benches in Central Park? Oh, there's so many others! Mad, bad, beautiful Frances Farmer who was lobotimized during her hellacious 7 years in a state mental hospital. Ravishing Adonis, William Holden, who died dead drunk after hitting his head on a table. Or Maria Ouspenskaya ("Even a man who is pure of heart...") who was burned alive when her cigarette set her bed on fire. Who do you think deserves the Absolute Worst Ending Award in this endlessly fascinating topic?

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When asked this question I always think back to poor Karl Dane (The Big Parade, The Scarlet Letter) who was a star at MGM. As talkies arose, his thick Danish accent forced him into small non-talkitive roles until finally he was forced out of the business and became a hot-dog vendor outside MGM studios and ultimatly blew his brains out with a gun. I also think of Veronica Lake who became so washed up that she became a waitress at a truck stop and was barely unrecognizable. Also little Frankie Darro who when he grew up, the little money he did get for acting he bought booze and lived in an alley like a bum.

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What do you find entertaining in the sad, squalid and violent ends of these people? Do you feel that your own existence is exalted by examining the frailties of flawed individuals who, however misguided, tried to make something out of their lives? Are you so dead inside that you cannot feel compassion for any tormented soul? Do you think that the dead deserve any modicum of privacy?

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nick, just to set the record straight Veronica Lake didn't work at a truck stop. She was a cocktail waitress in a lounge of a downtown New York hotel.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Frankie Darro "didn't"

end up living like a bum in an alley.

 

Mongo

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whoa, cloverscottie! i never said there was anything entertaining about the fallen stars. maybe you do. but there're quite a few billion of people who do. just look at the National Enquirer, People, Star, etc. Just watch the show biz shows like Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, etc. Please don't put yourself on a pedestal. If I were a big fat star, I'd certainly expect to be diced, sliced and written about. it comes with the territory. By the way, did you hear the terrible way Trigger, Roy Rogers horse, died? He was bitten by a horse fly.

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No, I don't find this discussion entertaining. I find it sad, since I think that you are an intelligent person who chooses to dwell on negativity. Patypancake, I've liked what you've written in the past about stars, directors, art deco, costumes, and the "what ifs" on these boards, but this is not an appreciation of the people who created films of the golden era, it just seems mean-spirited and unworthy of you. Since none of us were there to judge the situations that these people found themselves in, why not celebrate the talent of these people, without dwelling needlessly on their private failings? Don't we all have moments that we're ashamed of? It may "go with the territory", as you say, but I don't think that you quite understand my point: the people whose lives you are dissecting cannot explain their actions or fight back--they are dead. Maybe they made compromises during their lifetime to be actors, but they were still human and deserve a small word in their defense, even now. The fact that millions of people in the present feel better about their empty lives by reading about some dunderhead on tv or in a music video or movie is irrelevant. The fact that people will literally do anything to win their attention is pathetic.

 

As Oscar Wilde said, "We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." I guess I'll leave you to it, but spare these largely forgotten people a little empathy--it doesn't cost a thing.

 

 

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One of the saddest Hollywood tragedies involves a little known actress by the name of Angelique Pettyjohn. Born with stunning looks and a figure to match, her career began with decorative roles in such films as the Elvis Presley vehicle, "Clambake" (1967).

 

She then attracted some attention for her role as Agent Charlie, a male colleague of CONTROL agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), seen only in "female" drag, on TV's "Get Smart". During this period Pettyjohn also played the role for which she is best remembered, a silver lame bikini-clad "thrall" assigned to train Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) for battle in the "Star Trek" episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion".

 

By this time her film career sagged and she began appearing in numerous cheap nudie films. She then moved to Las Vegas in the 1970s and was working as the ringmistress at Circus Circus for a time. Out of work and needing money, Pettyjohn made the switch from mainstream films to porn, making several hardcore flicks in the early 80s.

 

She continued to eek out a living by making appearances at Star Trek conventions (selling posters of herself clothed and nude) and appearing in an occasional film. By the early 1990s, she was out of show business when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

Angelique Pettyjohn's sad story ended on (of all days) Valentine's Day, 1992. Sadder still are the untold stories of other actors or actresses whose careers ended up like Angelique Pettyjohn's or worse.

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Three on a match:

 

*Shapely blond actress Carole Landis came to prominence as a cave girl in "One Million B.C." with Victor Mature.

Although she was many times married she managed to get involved with the much married Rex Harrison who strung her along with false promises until she took her own life on a Fourth-of-July weekend in 1948. After that he was tagged Sexy Rexy. Ugh.

 

*Robert Walker was the boy next door type who dearly loved his wife Jennifer Jones. She got involved with David O. Selznick which broke Walker's heart. After the divoce he got into booze and scraps with the law. He died in 1951 after making two films with his finest performances "Strangers on a Train" and "My Son John".

 

*Beautiful and fragile Gail Russell seemed to have it all after she starred in "The Uninvited" and snagged hunky hubby Guy Madison. For some reason she got into the booze and it all came tumbling down. She died alone in 1961.

 

May they all rest in peace.

 

Mongo

 

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Aren't we all forgetting Judy Garland? Her death of a barbituate overdose in her London apartment bathroom is definitely sad. Even though she had a drug problem, she didn't deserve to die that way.

 

Another one is Marilyn - I don't believe that it was she who overdosed on the drugs. Alot has been said about her being murdered by having the drugs forced into her, and by a very high profile murderer. In fact she was planning on getting re-married to Joe DiMaggio, her life was going too well at that point for her to willfully take her own life. At this time she was in the throes of an affair with Robert Kennedy, and she threatened to speak of the affair, and confidentialities that they had shared, and out of fear that she would expose him, he murdered her and made it look like a suicide, by forcing the drugs into her from behind. The night she died, a local policeman stopped a Lincoln that was speeding near the area of Marilyn's house, and inside were Robert Kennedy, Peter Lawford, and another man. It has been said that they had been at Marilyn's. It was also known that she had a red diary in which she wrote about her goings on with Robert Kennedy and his brother, and after that night the diary was never to be found. There is even more to the story, and alot of you probably know what I am talking about, since it has been discussed at great lengths since her death. In fact, the History channel had a whole hour long program about it. And just last week, the Daily News here in New York printed an article mentioning it, and how Joe DiMaggio wouldn't speak to or have anything to do with the Kennedys after her death. I guess all of this adds to her legend, but her death definitely was a sad one.

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Joe we didn't forget about Garland and Monroe since they lead the list of self destructive stars. Both women have remained in the limelight througout the years where as many of the other unfortunates were forgotten.

 

Mongo

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Moviejoe, have you read Donald Spoto's bio of Monroe. The final chapter gives the author's belief of what happened the night of her death. He offers evidence to back up his beliefs and dispells a lot of the rumors that have followed for the past 40 years--including that the Kennedys were involved in her death. You may want to check it out. It is the most credible bio I've read of Marilyn (or, in fact, of any other star).

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Let's don't forget the Ramon Navarro nightmare. This beautiful, elegant man always wanted to be a priest after his movie career faded. Instead, he was tortured and beaten beyond recognition by those two cretins--hustlers who had heard Navarro had a fortune stashed away in his house. At least, Navarro left a film legacy behind. We can still thrill to his star-making role in the l927 "Ben Hur." I'd love to see him in "The Pagan," where he not only sings but also wears a skimpy little sarong.

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Thank you for the suggestion lolmsted, I will check out that bio of Marilyn. As much as I love them, I try to steer clear of star biographies, and even certain autobiographies, because many of them are biased in one way or another, and either exaggerate the stars strong points, or make a mockery of the star. But, if you say this book on Marilyn is the real deal, I'll take your word for it.

 

As for Ramon Novarro - His death was a sad one, and was certainly a tragedy, but lets not forget that he invited those guys into his home, and was known for having young men around that he would pick up around Hollywood. I hate to say it, but he had a hand in his own death by dealing with people like that to begin with.

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The reason why people like The Enquired, People, and Star write these things and are successful at it, because idiots like you PATYPANCAKE buy it. Those actors and actresses choose their lives, did things they shouldn't, and they paid for it. I don't think everything came with the territory, they picked the things they did a lot of the times, and they thought nothing would happen. You don't have to be a movie star to have a tragic ending, its millions today who are normal like you and me, and have a tragic life and ending. Lets talk about Stars who beat a tragic ending and had a good life, but you all don't want to talk about that, you all get your kicks talking about fallen stars

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First of all swingsoul I don't believe that patypancake is an idiot. She happens to be a well educated person who excells in her knowledge of movies. She has contributed many informative and interesting topics to the boards and we are left entertained and educated. She also adds a dash of humor which is much needed considering the shape of the world around us. And believe it or not there is a big interest in those unfortunate stars of yesterday and most of us don't revel in their tragic life as much as we sympathize with them.

If you find the time may I suggest that you scan through the boards and read the many topics posted by Jery son who is also known as patypancake. Enjoy.

 

Mongo

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I agree with you Mongo - Patypancake is extremely knowledgeable, and it is a pleasure to read her posts. And I think people are misinterpreting the purpose of this topic. It is not to revel in the misery of these stars, but to further educate ourselves about film history. Personally, that is how I look at this topic. Most of the other people who post on these boards, as well as myself, love film history, and are always looking to expand our knowledge of it. Sometimes the subjects are pleasant, and sometimes they're not.

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I think the life of star of the month, John Garfield, is very tragic. At the age of 39 he had a heart attack. It's been suggested that the Hollywood Blacklisting was the cause of that heart attack. Talk about being cut down in your prime.

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Thank you Mongo for defending our beloved patypancake. As much as she (and most people on these boards) adores old movies and stars, I doubt she takes pleasure in the demise of these people. Like moviejoe said, because we love them so much, we want to know more about them, their successes as well as their tragedies. And as you pointed out, it's more that we SYMPATHIZE with these stars. I know that when I read about the hard times and the deaths of my favorites, I get really emotional. For example, I read Donald Spoto's bio of Marilyn Monroe THREE times and when it came to the point of her death, I cried everytime.

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Mucho kisses and hugs to my wonderful fellow post scribblers for saying such wonderful things and defending the name of precious little Patypancake against such pathetic scribblers like Swngsoul, This particular complainer sounds suspiciously like an idential complainer named "Cloverscottie" who used the same misguided assault plan. It's useless to argue with posters like these that we lovers of old movies and old fans are not rejoicing in the misfortunes of others. Well, I have to pause now and go through my new stack of such juicy tell-alls like National Enquirer, Star, People, Talk, US, Entertainment Weekly--all of them aimed at Idiots like me. And the kind YOU quite probably read. Mongo, you must fill us in on your visit to Montgomery Clift's gravesite and what you found there. I'm visiting the block where his beloved apartment was located as well as the apartment building where Garbo spent the last years of her life. Adios, until next week.

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  • 1 month later...

I don't wanna stir up a hornet's nest or dwell on ugliness, but could some informed party please tell me what ever happened to Elizabeth Hartman? She was so endearing in "Patch of Blue", I was very sorry to hear that she was plagued with mental illness throughout her brief life, though all I really know is that she killed herself.

 

While we're on this admittedly gloomy subject, why did Susan Strasberg, the daughter of the Method guru, the original Ann Frank on Broadway and a gifted actress, die alone in a borrowed apartment? Sometimes it seems as though the old phrase should go "whom the gods would destroy they first made actors".

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Participants in this chat or any other for that matter should never accuse anyone of being an idiot and should never have disparaging, humiliating and demeaning remarks against anyone. To express an opinion is fine, but do it constructively without name-calling hurtful language. Sorry if I've bored anyone with my little speech.

 

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