Maureen O’Hara and John Ford’s Way With Women

Maureen O'Hara at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 in April....

Maureen O’Hara at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 in April….


Maureen O’Hara, 93, and still as feisty as ever, travelled from Idaho this year where she lives with her grandson and his family to attend the TCMFF 2014, introduce How Green Was My Valley with Robert Osborne, and have a short interview with Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
This image must be one of Maureen O'Hara's favorites as she chose it for the cove of her 2004 autobiography...

This image must be one of Maureen O’Hara’s favorites as she chose it for the cover of her 2004 autobiography…

Even though her career spans 62 years, Robert Osborne writes in this month’s Now Playing Guide for TCM that she has been filmed in Technicolor more than any other actress (34 times) and “she has lost none of her Irish spunk.” During her interview with Osborne prior to the screening of How Green Was My Valley at the Turner Classic Film Festival in 2014, Osborne asked her how it was working with director John Ford, and she proclaimed, “I thought we were here to talk about me!” She began her film career under contract to Charles Laughton and his production partner with the film Jamaica Inn, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

As Esmeralda in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" with Charles Laughton...

As Esmeralda in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with Charles Laughton…


Her conversation with Osborne also revealed her devotion to Laughton for nurturing her career (she would appear as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Laughton as part of her contract with him.) “What more can someone do for you,” she proudly stated, “than start you off in life.”
Fans crowd around O'Hara and TCM Host Robert Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in April for her interview during the TCM Film Festival...

Fans crowd around O’Hara and TCM Host Robert Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in April for her interview during the TCM Film Festival…

David Meuel’s new book, Women in the Films of John Ford, reveals how O’Hara’s development as an actress under the guidance of Ford paralleled some of the patterns of achievement that other actresses experienced under his astute on-set dictatorship. Mildred Natwick’s short, but pivotal scene in 3 Godfathers reveals how Ford could wield one shining moment into the fabric of the next half of a film.

Mildred Natwick and John Wayne in "3 Godfathers"

Mildred Natwick and John Wayne in “3 Godfathers”


As Natwick’s character lay dying after the birth of her son, she asks the three men gathered round her, “Will you save my baby?”
Honoring the request from the mother...

Honoring the request from the mother…


Then her final statement resonates throughout the rest of the film,” You tell him about his mother who so wanted to live…for him,” and her comments underscore all the ensuing motivations of the three godfathers.
Forming a plan...

Forming a plan…


Natwick’s comments in Meuel’s book reveal that “I’ve never forgotten that Ford seemed pleased with the scene and pleased that I’d done it.” She sensed from Ford how to play the role because ” you get things by osmosis from a wonderful director.”

Jane Darwell’s performance in The Grapes of Wrath also reveals how Ford inspired Darwell, already a well-known and well-respected performer, to greater acclaim.

Ma Joad facing yet another hardship...

Ma Joad facing yet another hardship…


Darwell’s career as a Hollywood character actress followed her many years as a devoted stage actress, but her most well-known role, besides that of being the bird lady in Mary Poppins, was that of Ma Joad in the successful screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. One reason of the enduring popularity of the character of Ma Joad, according to Meuel, is that Darwell’s characterization “has become a synonym for women who bear great hardship with great dignity.” Darwell also became “a favorite of Ford’s” as she appeared in My Darling Clementine, 3 Godfathers, and The Sun Shines Bright.

Initially, Ford wanted O’Hara for the role of Honey Bear Kelly in Mogambo, according to Meuel, and ended up with Ava Gardner, an actress “he didn’t think was all that good.” But in Mogambo, Gardner earned her first and only Academy Award nomination, and her performance is one of her best.

Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner in "Mogambo."

Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner in “Mogambo.”


According to the TCM Database article explaining why Mogambo is an ‘essential,’ “Ava Gardner turned out to be a much greater beneficiary of Ford’s instruction on Mogambo. Her work as Honey Bear Kelly is marked by an ease, even a playfulness, that would seldom if ever surface in her following projects.”

So Ford could wrench an effective performance from someone he deemed initially as less successful at her craft than O’Hara. He elicited those sterling screen seconds in his own way, and made Natwick, Darwell, Gardner, O’Hara, and others the better.

But O’Hara’s opinions and comments, revealed through the years in interviews and O’Hara’s own autobiography that her relationship with Ford alternated from rocky to smooth, and her comments vacillated from his admiring pupil to a woman who always staunchly defended his directing, but sometimes questioned his motives.

Like the time Ford slapped O’Hara for talking to another director. The event strained their relationship, and she never understood why Ford had acted that way, but she eventually went back to engaging in conversation with him and working for him.

'Tis her favorite scene in "How Green Was My Valley."

‘Tis her favorite scene in “How Green Was My Valley.”

The Ford/O’Hara relationship spanned 20 years and began on the set of 1941′s How Green Was My Valley, the film O’Hara introduced at the Turner Classic Film Festival on April 12 in the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Her favorite moment in the film, documented in her autobiography, occurs when her character of Angharad is “outside the church after Angharad gets married. As I make my way down the steps to the carriage waiting below, the wind catches my veil and fans it out in a perfect circle all the way around my face. Then it floats straight up above my head and points to the heavens. It’s breathtaking.” She was obviously impressed with the way she had been showcased in her career-making initial role with Ford.

The triumvirate...

The triumvirate…

Her collaboration with John Wayne in three of Ford’s films, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, and The Wings of Eagles, also revealed that the romantic chemistry she had with Wayne was like “lightning in a bottle.”

"Lightning in a bottle...."

“Lightning in a bottle….”


But her fourth Ford collaboration, 1955′s The Long Gray Line, also starring Tyrone Power, had O’Hara revealing that “it was by far the most difficult” film she had made with Ford.
Tough...

Tough…


Not tough...she adored Tyrone Power's wicked sense of humor...

Not so tough…she adored Tyrone Power’s wicked sense of humor, and here they are together in “The Black Swan”…

Setting many of his films in the past often saddled Ford with the label of being “old-fashioned” but as O’Hara has claimed in interviews and her 2004 autobiography, ‘Tis Herself, Ford loved anything Irish, and any way he could maneuver more Irishness into his films or his own personal life was a way to reconnect or reconstruct his life to his own more idealized version of itself.

O’Hara’s relationships with men who lived large on life’s stage, like Che Guevara, whom she deemed a “freedom fighter,”surprised her when she found out how much he knew about Ireland. Her last husband, Charles Blair, whom she adored, was a record-setting aviator and Brigadier General in the Air Force. The legendary John Wayne, for whom she lobbied Congress to award him a Congressional Medal of Honor, was also one of those connections that paired O’Hara socially and/or professionally with some of the most daring or famous men of the 20th century.

On the Red Carpet at the Turner Classic Film Festival with her grandson, Conor Fitzsimons...

On the Red Carpet at the Turner Classic Film Festival with her grandson, Conor Fitzsimons…


During her one of her festival interviews with Osborne, she finally stated that “Ford loved being Irish, and was thrilled when he could do something involved with Ireland. Anybody who is very talented and very good at their job… 90 percent of the time will treat you well.” And 90 percent seems to be the magic number Maureen O’Hara has designated for John Ford.
'Tis all there is to say or write or think about the matter....

‘Tis all there is to say or write or think about the matter….

Sources, Links, and Websites:
David Meuel’s Women in the Films of John Ford:

Maureen O’Hara’s ‘Tis Herself: http://www.amazon.com/Tis-Herself-Autobiography-Maureen-OHara/dp/0743269160

The fabulous “Direced By John Ford” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Directedbyjohnfordcom/398684916875651?ref=ts&fref=ts

Moving tribute video by June Parker Beck with Robert Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”: http://t.co/er6MiUGoXY
IMDB Biography of Maureen O’Hara: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000058/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
Maureen O’Hara’s Star of the Month Celebration on TCM, TUESDAYS IN JULY: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/1008293|0/Maureen-O-Hara-Tuesdays-in-July.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maureen-OHara-Magazine-Website/131269913567989?ref=ts&fref=ts
Fan Website: http://moharamagazine.com
Wikipedia:http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen_O’Hara
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I am so happy to be included in “The John Ford Blogathon” from July 7-13 hosted by Krell Laboratories: http://krelllabs.blogspot.com/2014_07_01_archive.html
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Miss Kitty’s Long Branch of the Law

This review is part of the Summer of MeTV Classic TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. Click here: http://classic-tv-blog-assoc.blogspot.com/2014/05/announcing-2014-summer-of-metv-classic.html to check out this blogathon’s complete schedule.

Grand Central Station, Kansas, 1874

The Long Branch Saloon actually existed, but as far as I can tell, it wasn’t managed or owned by anyone named “Miss Kitty.”

Front Street, Dodge City, KS, 1874, with Robert Wright and Charles Rath’s General store, Chalk Beeson’s Long Branch, George M. Hoover’s liquor and cigar store, and Frederick Zimmermann’s gun and hardware store.

The actual “establishment” hosted many well-known figures from the heyday of the Old West like Bat, Ed, and James Masterson, Doc Holliday, Clay Allison, Frank Loving, and Wyatt Earp. The fictional establishment inevitably seemed the home away from home for such characters as Matt Dillon, Festus Hagen, Doc, Chester, Newly, and many others seeking retribution, steady employment, a stiff drink, or a friendly game of cards.

Built in Dodge City, Kansas, the saloon was erected as a result of a bet between soldiers and cowboys playing ball. (Maybe that was what started that popular game for children’s recess, “Dodge” ball.) The soldiers agreed, if they lost the game, that they would provide building materials to construct a saloon.

Chalk Beeson, all slicked up to have his picture took…

William Harris and Chalk Beeson, a wealthy rancher, purhcased that very same saloon in 1878. The Long Branch was named after Harris’ hometown of Long Branch, New Jersey, and it was a standard storefront bar with little ostentation, and it prospered until the railroad replaced the financial influx of silver dollars from the dusty cattle drives which had been fillin’ the coffers and emptyin’ the bottles in the storeroom. The Long Branch Saloon was unfortunately the victim of a fire in 1885 and wasn’t rebuilt until someone decided to resurrect it as part of the fictional set of Gunsmoke.

Inside the real Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas…

Grand Central Station, 1970s, CBS…

Inside the real Long Branch Saloon on Gunsmoke

The Long Branch Saloon, featured in the longest running drama in television history for 19 years from September 14, 1955, to its final season in 1974, probably appeared in all 568 episodes, just as many as are credited to Miss Amanda Blake, who was born Beverly Louise Neill in Buffalo, New York. (Heck, yawl, ain’t that dangerously close to NEW YORK CITY?) Since ladies never give their age, you all will just have to google it, podners.

No one knew at the time that this lil’ gal would eventually become Amanda Blake who portrayed the apple of Matt’s eye, “Miss Kitty,” for 18 years on the longest running drama on television, Gunsmoke.

Blake left the penultimate year ‘cuz she just couldn’t stand to put on them curls, or reattach that derned bustle any more. She drew the line in the dusty dirt of Dodge City, and never crossed it again. But she sure did miss her friends. Blake told Mike Douglas that Milburn Stone, who played Doc, was kinda like her father figure.

(Amanda Blake tells it like it was on The Mike Douglas Show: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8KIDt27xEC4)

It tweren’t all smooth sailing in a prairie schooner, though. Blake needed a good friend on the set, too, ‘cuz Miss Kitty seemed to have at least one or two close calls ever year. She’d either get kidnapped as she was headed to the general store, or riding in an open buggy planning to have a picnic with Matt Dillon (James Arness), or she was headed back East fer a spell on the Overland Stage Coach, and it would get hijacked by a bunch of upstart poppinjays who were down on their luck. Real people who happened to live in Kansas, which is flatter than a buttermilk pancake made without bakin’ soda, just couldn’t understand those derned mountains up and down the trails on the t.v. set while they were a watchin’ the show. Why everbody in Kansas knowed that just tweren’t right. But Hollywood just had to show off them mountains in Califor-ny-yay whether it was geographically correct or not.

The real Long Branch was just as popular as the fictional one on t.v. Old Chalky Beeson led a five-piece orchestra there that played dang near ever night. In addition to serving all kinds of alkyhol, and fancy champagne, and it wasn’t imported from Idaho. The selections also included beer, milk, lemonade, sasparilly, and tea. Dang. It was purty near as fancy as you could get in a dusty cow town.

When Gunsmoke began in 1955, Miss Kitty was just a working girl, but Matt took to her, right off….

But as things would happen, Miss Kitty bought a half-interest in the place, or won it in a game of poker or chuck-a-luck, and eventually she was able to buy the place outright and be the full owner after several years. Not bad for a workin’ girl.

And derned near everything happened in The Long Branch. Fights got started there, farms were won and lost at the poker table, purty gals just stood there a watchin’ when some cowpokes would be fightin’ over ‘em, and Matt Dillon would stroll in, and keep the peace again and again, and if somebody got hurt, Doc would come and slap a bandage on whatever ailed ‘em. Festus would just watch, or comment, but the best thing Festus did was speculate and worry.

Hear Miss Kitty sing “The Long Branch Blues” on Hee-Haw: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fGAly_oVO30

And if you miss that iconic song that always introduced an episode, watch it here:http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QYNuCsDrjK4
Or just tune in to MeTV and watch Gunsmoke all summer!

Amanda Blake’s filmography: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0086469/?ref_=nmmd_md_nm

Christy Putnam is the KKES Radio classic film expert.

Follow me on Twitter: @suesueapplegate
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/39646-sue-sue-ii/

More fun with Classic Film Topics…

I thoroughly enjoyed discussing Debbie Reynolds’ recent auction, Rock Hudson and his Star of the Month Celebration on Turner Classic Movies, Star Wars, The Turner Classic Film Festivals, classic television programs, and much more with John Losh on KKES radio out of Kansas City, Missouri, and its environs.

Losh-Man’s Classic Hollywood show is now scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. Sundays on KKES radio. Listeners can enjoy the program live by visiting the KKES website and clicking on “Listen Live” at: http://www.1027thehog.com

Also, my Underrated Detective/Mysteries is featured today on Rupert Pupkin Speaks Blogspot:
http://t.co/dm5ka8XptP http://t.co/bMmW9qjz9P

And don’t forget to have fun!

BLOG: https://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @suesueapplegate
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/ … ue-sue-ii/
THE SSO: http://viewtopic.php?f=92&t=4260&p=144591#p144591

I’ll be joining in the excitement of the METV Summer Blogathon as I write about “Miss Kitty and the Long Branch of the Law!”

I’m also participating in the John Ford Blogathon and will write about Maureen O’Hara and her relationship with John Ford and John Wayne.

Summer travels will take me to Marietta, Georgia, for the 75th Anniversary of Gone With The Wind at the Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum to report on events, interview authors, talk to fans, discuss new museum acquisitions, and write about the one-woman play concerning the life of Vivien Leigh: http://www.gwtwmarietta.com/docs/JuneItinerary_2014.pdf

Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marietta-Gone-With-the-Wind-Museum/183338465150

Enjoy my Underrated Detective/Mysteries list at Rupert Pupkin’s Blogspot: http://t.co/dm5ka8XptP

TCM’s 20th Anniversary Collage of Memories…

Here are some close-ups of that fabulous montage created by TCM staffers for the 20th Anniversary Video featuring the 20 Guest Programmers. It was set up and organized in the lobby of the Chinese Mutliplex by TCM’s Kelli O’Neal and others during the TCMFF 2014 from April 10-11. Enjoy! I know I did…

Such an intricate grouping of iconic films and stars just fills me with all the myriad of emotions I felt from all the films that I’ve seen that are represented on this memory wall. What an exciting twenty years of programming and what an enjoyable five years of festivals. The collage validates the excitement, awe, and loyalty that TCM fans possess.

Well, Ann Blyth as “Veda” and Joan Crawford as “Mildred Pierce” just had to be here! And having Errol Flynn looking away from Joan is fairly appropriate. I don’t think they ever dated…

It’s indeed fitting that an image from the first film shown on TCM is featured closely to the TCM logo. Humphrey Bogart, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Bette Davis, and Ingrid Bergman seem especially luminated near the glow…

Sidney Poitier, Lana Turner, John Wayne…Yes, Louis B., more stars than there are in the heavens, and you’re not bothering them now! :-)

There’s no place like home!

Lee Marvin, Henry Fonda, Harry Carey, Jr…..

I was happy to see Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz tucked nearby the little box that says “journey.” They’ve certainly given us a trip we will never forget.

As many of you can tell, I was mesmerized by the intricacy of detail and the scope of the celebrities and films represented. I hope you feel the same way!

I’ll also be participating in this summer’s John Ford Blogathon….

Don’t forget to have fun! :-)

BLOG: https://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @suesueapplegate
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/ … ue-sue-ii/
THE SSO: http://viewtopic.php?f=92&t=4260&p=144591#p144591

Debbie Reynolds’ auction surprises…

Vintage fashions and celebrity ensembles were part of the focus of Debbie Reynolds’ last auction Sunday for the closing day of items up for bids.

Debbie Reynolds had a dream to see her extensive collection of vintage clothing, props, cameras, and Hollywood memorabilia find a permanent home in a museum, but unfortunately her financial difficulties in organizing a museum and running a casino culminated in her last auction on May 18.

Some of the more popular items featured in the auction included dresses, costumes and jewelry of Hollywood celebrities. Items from Classic Hollywood stars like Vera- Ellen, Ginger Rogers, Marion Davies, Eva Gabor, Mary Pickford, Katherine Hepburn, Lana Turner, and Elizabeth Taylor graced pages of the voluminous online catalog which allowed bidders to select items of their choice.

Reynolds’ daughter Carrie Fisher had just flown back from London for the filming of the new “Star Wars”sequel in time to attend the beginning of her mother’s last auction, and Fisher also had a few items under the gavel, like personal photos of John Belushi, and “Star Wars” artwork and posters. It was her Judith Leiber ‘Faberge’ purse studded with rhinestones and pearls, a gift from her father Eddie Fisher, that brought the most from her offerings, however, at $2,250.

Harold Lloyd’s prosthetic fingers, one of the most unusual items up for bidding, brought in at least $4,250 when it was sold alongside a pair of his personal glasses.

Two drums used during the filming of “Quo Vadis” brought in a much higher price than the high-end estimate of $300 when they were sold for $2,250.

A pair of cologne decanters owned by actress Mary Pickford, and still bearing some of her perfume, went for $3,500.

Just one of Elizabeth Taylor’s dresses, a Thea Porter black jersey gown with spaghetti straps garnered $2,500. Taylor’s Halston dress and robe fetched $1,500, and the evening gown Taylor wore for her 75th birthday party brought $3,750.

One of the most expensive gowns was a silver-sequined costume worn by Diana Ross, which was sold for $14,000, but unfortunately the photo is unavailable.

A blue chiffon pantsuit trimmed with dyed fox and worn by singer, dancer, and actress Ginger Rogers brought $3,250.

A group of 24 Biblical caftans, capes, robes and tunics from Paramount Pictures were sold for $3,500.

Actress Marie Wilson’s Victory purse from World War II went for $1,200.

Reynolds’ personal linen-backed poster from her popular film, “Singin’ in the Rain,” signed by co-stars Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, reached much higher than its original estimate when it sold for $9,500.

One of the surprises for me occurred when I saw several Gina Lollobrigida costumes from Lady L, a film which eventually starred Sophia Loren. I never knew Lollobrigida had been the original choice for the main character in Lady L, which also eventually starred Paul Newman.

Bidding from “the floor” occurred at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio, the actual auction house for Profiles in History in West Hollywood, and clients often competed with fierce online bidders as certain items had more interest with bidders than others.

During the online auction, preview party Friday evening, Reynolds revealed that she still plans to attend the Warner Brothers’ auction of property and memorabilia whenever it might occur as her passion for rescuing Hollywood’s past continues.

The first two Debbie Reynolds’ memorabilia auctions netted approximately 23 million. All figures quoted from yesterday’s auction are officially unverified, but were amounts that halted the advance of the bidding for each particular lot during the online event, which added two million more dollars to the Reynolds’ coffers. Elvis Presley’s Baldwin grand piano from his Holmby Hills mansion brought $50,000 yesterday, but the item bringing in the most from all of Reynolds’ auctions occurred in 2011, and it was the Marilyn Monroe dress from “The Seven Year Itch” for $4.6 million.

Red Carpet Revelers at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014

Top Red Carpet revelers at the Turner Classic Film Festival include an international group of pass holders and seasoned celebrities accustomed to the flashes and clicks of Nikons and iPhones on Thursday, April 10, at the Gala Premiere restoration of 1955′s “Oklahoma!” introduced by TCM Host Robert Osborne and Oscar-winning actress Shirley Jones at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Special TCM Film Festival 2014 guest celebrities Shirley Jones, Maureen O’Hara, Margaret O’Brien, Kim Novak, Tippi Hedren, Bo Hopkins, Merrie Spaeth, Candy Clark, George Chakiris, Diane Baker, Richard Sherman, Leonard Maltin, Ben Mankiewicz, and Robert Osborne all paraded down the aisle at the popular event. Other stars attending the festival included Richard Dreyfuss and Alan Arkin.

Fancy fans and glitzy celebs posed, pitched, and paired for photo ops from seasoned media professionals and admiring patrons as they walked the gauntlet of onlookers and dedicated classic film lovers on Hollywood Boulevard.

Actress Tippi Hedren, “The Birds” and “Marnie,” and actress Kim Novak, “Vertigo” and “Bell, Book, and Candle,” host a media photo op frenzy as fans and photographers snap away as the gals do the red carpet rumba at the TCL Chinese Theatre prior to Shirley Jones’ introduction to 1955′s “Oklahoma!” Both ladies were patient, gracious, and appreciative of all the attention they received Thursday, April 10, at the TCMFF 2014.

(Photo courtesy of TCM)

Actress Margaret O’Brien attended the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 to introduce “Meet Me in St. Louis” on Friday, April 11, and memorialize actor friend Mickey Rooney prior to a screening of “National Velvet” on Sunday. O’Brien visited with fans, signed autographs, and posed for photos with international fans and thrilled audiences during her multiple appearances.

Writer Debra Levine and Oscar-winner George Chakiris of “West Side Story” pose for journalists. Levine hopes “everyone will visit” her Arts Meme blog as Chakiris graces her with a warm hug. Chakiris is also a jewelry designer and lectures on classic Hollywood.

Media communications specialist and Dallas resident Merrie Spaeth attended the TCMFF 2014 to introduce her one and only film, “The World of Henry Orient,” with actress Paula Prentiss on Friday at the Chinese Multiplex to a packed audience of fans. According to a Dallas Morning News article by Nanette Light, Spaeth credited “serendipity for landing her a role at age 14 alongside actor Peter Sellers in the 1964 movie ‘The World of Henry Orient.’ A former Reagan aide who is now a public relations executive, Spaeth’s brief acting career is often overshadowed by her role as adviser to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which ran controversial TV ads opposing then Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential candidacy.”

“I thought things like this didn’t happen to people who lived in Philadelphia and went to Quaker school,” said Spaeth, 65.

Light’s article also stated that Spaeth was “absent from the Hollywood scene for more than four decades. Spaeth returned to the red carpet last week — accompanied by her daughter, 22-year-old Maverick Lezar — to celebrate the movie’s 50th anniversary at an April 11 screening during the Turner Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles.”

Spaeth was happy to be a movie star again if only for one day, and enjoyed her four days of fun at the festival.

Spaeth is CEO of Spaeth Communications.

(Photo Courtesy of TCM)
TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz emceed the special TCM/USPS commemorative stamp ceremony honoring former SAG/AFTRA president and actor Charlton Heston as well as poolside screenings and interviews with fans and celebrities at the popular festival. Actress, producer and director Illeana Douglas introduced Jerry Lewis at a screening of “The Nutty Professor” and interviewed Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss for fans in Club TCM. The granddaughter of classic film actor Melvyn Douglas, Illeana has a popular web series, and acts, directs, produces, and writes for the film and television industries.

Festival fans file in for film screening of 1955′s “Oklahoma!” as they greet media and gallery members. Pass holders came from Canada, the continental U.S, and several European countries to enjoy the festivities at the TCMFF 2014.

Flying in from Dallas, Texas, for the TCMFF 2014 fun, Dallas public relations executive Kelly Kitchens Wickersham and her husband Mark Wickersham enjoy attending screenings and panels. Wickersham administrates one of the most popular Facebook pages for TCM Film Festival fans.

Choreographer Miriam Nelson was a doll AND she was all dolled up!

TCM Ultimate Fan Video Contest winner Tiffany Vasquez from New York donned a lovely flamenco-inspired vintage gown.

Another fabulous gal donning vintage togs was Texan Theresa Madere, a wedding planner from Burnet, Texas. Her perky manner and her interested in classic films inspire her to blog as Butterscotch Greer on the TCM Message Boards Festivals Forum.

Actor Bo Hopkins appeared at the TCMFF 2014 to participate in a poolside screening and discussion of “American Graffiti” and also starred in such films as “Midnight Express,” “The Wild Bunch,” and “Monte Walsh.” Hopkins’ cool demeanor, willingness to chat with fans, and jovial nature made him a favorite on the walk of fame to the TCL Chinese screening. Hopkins has two films in post-production, “The Boys at the Bar” and “Of God and Kings.”

(Photo Courtesy of TCM)
Popular TCM Host Robert Osborne and actress pal Diane Baker on the Red Carpet at the Turner Classic Film Festival appear to cheers from the crowd. Baker is Director of Film and Television at San Francisco’s Academy of Art.

The people most responsible for the success of the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival 2014 (besides the loyal fans of the network) include Charles Tabesh (VP of Programming), Dennis Adamovich (VP of Digital), Jeff Gregor (General Manager of TCM), and Genevieve McGillicuddy (TCMFF Director). Oscar-winning actress Shirley Jones is front and center as she smiles prior to the Gala Premiere Restoration of “Oklahoma!”

Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin and TCM Senior Researcher Alexa Foreman smile for the cameras on Thursday evening before the screening of “Oklahoma!” Maltin hosted several panels and interviewed guests in Club TCM, and was always ready to sign autographs and to visit with fans of his books and articles. Foreman has conducted hundreds of interviews for the Turner Archives and is known as “The Keeper of the Flame” for classic film history at TCM because of her attention to accuracy and detail.

Composer Richard Sherman (“Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book,” Winnie The Pooh”) and his lovely wife Elizabeth stopped and chatted for several moments and revealed how happy they were to be part of the festival events.

Actress Maureen O’Hara elicited the most excitement, awe, comments, and applause when she appeared on the Red Carpet prior to the screening of “Oklahoma!” at the Turner Classic Film Festival Gala Premiere Restoration Thursday evening, April 10, at the TCL Chinese Theatre. O’Hara was the most popular star attending the premiere and the Vanity Fair party after the screening, and introduced John Ford’s “How Green Was My Valley,” filmed in 1941, and participated in several interviews with TCM Host Robert Osborne.
A few moments after this photograph was taken, O’Hara’s grandson, Connor Fitzsimons helped her move down the red carpet to my media station, and she reached out to grasp my hand. There was such love and admiration in her voice and her manner, and I knew how much she enjoyed being a part of the festival events. She told me “Thank you” twice, and as she was about to grasp my hand for her very firm handshake she had given to other media representatives along the corridor, someone called out to her grandson to move along, and she was whisked away.

But for a few shining moments, she looked right into my eyes and showered me with attention, and she made me feel like the luckiest gal on the red carpet. Of all the celebrities at the April festival, she was the one that garned the most “oohs” and “ahhs” from passholders and other celebrities wherever she went. Her spirit and her determined air was a great inspiration to me and everyone else she me. Her events at the festival were the most popular for any individual celebrity, and all were blessed with the indomitable spirit of a great Irish lass.

When a special airplane arrived for O’Hara in Idaho, she wasn’t able to climb up the steps because the initial staircase was too high, so TCM sent another plane for her. Her grandson wanted to cancel her appearance, but O’Hara told her grandson that she was going to wait in the executive lounge until the other plane arrived because she was going to the Turner Classic Film festival this year! (Darcy Hettrich, VP of Talent for TCM revealed this story at the initial Meet The TCM Panel on Thursday afternoon at the festival, and the audience loved it.)

Maureen O’Hara at the Vanity Fair party Thursday evening after the screening of “Oklahoma.” (Photo courtesy of TCM)

The excitement of photographing and interviewing celebrities is part of the allure of working a red carpet event. What surprised me most is that many of the credentialed media from established news outlets didn’t know who most of the celebrities were, and I found that one of my responsibilities at the event was to answer questions and explain who the celelbrities were, what their accomplishments entailed, and why they were at the festival. I am glad I was there!

All photos taken by the author unless otherwise noted. ©

Actress Debbie Reynolds’ online auction party…

TCM Film Festival Guest and TCM Cruise favorite Debbie Reynolds appeared onscreen last evening in another royal blue suit (not this one!) looking lovely. That shade is so complementary and illuminates how vibrant she still is…

The Debbie Reynolds Auction Preview Party was live-streamed on USTREAM for the Hollywood Motion Picture Experience last night from The Debbie Reynolds Studio in West Hollywood. Reynolds was being interviewed by host Steven Sorrentino, with comments from time to time from her son, Todd Fisher, who was wearing a cap and t-shirt, and running around organizing guests and comments. Reynolds discussed the “Gone With The Wind” furniture, Charlie Chaplin’s hats, a carved, wooden buffet used in several Tyrone Power swashbucklers, posters, and dresses. Reynolds, remarking she had fallen earlier in the week and hit her head, even did her impression of Mae West (It’s still spot on!) Son Todd arrived with water for Reynolds, and his wife, actress Catherine Hickland, came to visit with play-by-play host Sorrentino about the collection while Reynolds took her break and did interviews with other media representatives. An open bar helped insure all the patrons were happy, and viewers were able to watch it for free online by following this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hollywood-motion-picture-experience-presents

Fisher chatted with Stan Freburg, recording artist, comedian, and author, and right before the break, he reminded viewers that Reynolds had to leave to take a break and do a few interviews. Later on in the evening, an online drawing, entered by more than 1500 auction bidders, afforded one lucky participant an extra $1000 to use for bidding on the item of his or her choice. (Colleen from Minnesota was the winner. Two soft-cover catalogs were also awarded as 2nd and 3rd prizes.) Reynolds picked the winning slip out of a silver punch bowl.

After one of the interviews, the online audience was treated to a live-streaming of the “action” as patrons mulled around the exhibit in view of a stationary camera. A pianist was playing “Somewhere in Time” and helped everyone feel in a more expansive mood so that preparing a bid on a favored item wasn’t such a stressful activity. The live feed camera then settled on the “Gone With The Wind” chairs, and the cherubs on the mirrors that were so lovingly restored by Reynolds’ father were readily visible.

Sorrentino, who also offered his Sammy Davis impression while extolling the virtues of the Rat Pack suit colllection, and Reynolds also chatted about two lovely wooden/gilt mirrors that her father helped restore. She purchased them at the MGM auction, and they had been in several Judy Garland movies. Reynolds said it took her father about a year to completely restore them. After her interview, the live feed camera settled on the “Gone With The Wind” chairs, and the cherubs on the mirrors that were so lovingly restored by Reynolds’ father were readily visible.

All of these items were professionally well-preserved. Reynolds explained that Fisher carefully inventoried many of the costumes, and removed the labels which kept the clothing acid free, and she also stated that they consulted the experts at The Smithsonian about proper storage and restorations.

Also during the interview, I think I saw the portrait of Greer Garson from “Mrs. Parkington,” and then I saw the Norma Shearer dress from “Romeo and Juliet.” While they had some tech problems with the live feed sound, and Sorrentino kept trying to locate which camera to pitch to, Reynolds kept chatting and posing for photos with visitors. Laugh-In’s Joanne Worley, Dick Van Patten, and Reynold’s Thalians pal Ruta Lee were reported to be in attendance, but I never saw them onscreen.

Cameraman Roy Wagner, a good friend of Fisher’s, discussed some of the historic cameras featured in the auction with Todd. The Aikley camera Oscar-winning Cameraman Linwood Dunn owned was used on “King Kong,” “Citizen Kane,” and was used for many RKO films. The Vista Vision camera in the auction is one of the few remaining working Vista Vision cameras, and filmed special effects for the “Star Trek” television series, and many classic films like “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn. Wagner discussed the “six-foot” rule during filming (a safety zone which allowed only the Director of Photography within the 6 foot perimeter circling the camera while in use). Wagner also discussed the magic of the box and what each camera had experienced in its varied history.

Daughter Carrie Fisher supposedly made a quick appearance early in the evening.

The last of the lots go on the block this weekend.

Don’t forget to have some fun!

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Actor Glenn Taranto chosen as TCM Guest Programmer for April 9

Actor Glenn Taranto is one of the 20 guest programmers selected from TCM’s Ultimate Fan Video contest, and will be introducing “Went The Day Well?,” a film released in 1942 concerning the occupation of an English village by disguised German paratroopers planning a secret invasion. Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and produced by Ealing Studios in Great Britain, Went The Day Well? is a premiere film on the Turner Classic Movies channel. Director Cavalcanti is also known for They Made Me A Fugitive(1947) with Trevor Howard and Affairs of a Rogue (1948) with Jean Pierre-Aumont. Taranto selected Went the Day Well? for his guest programming choice after critic Leonard Maltin personally recommended it to him at the 2011 Turner Classic Film Festival. Taranto believes in the power of the film because “60 years after the fact, it still relates to Flight 91 that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on 9/11.”

In an exclusive Examiner interview, Taranto revealed that it was “a whirlwind 48 hours in Atlanta. I arrived late Sunday, and went straight to the ‘W’ hotel, checked into my room, which had been generously provided by TCM, and then I had just enough time to change my clothes, freshen up, and head back to the lobby where all the other fan programmers were preparing to leave for a ‘meet and greet’ with TCM host Robert Osborne on the TCM set in Turner Studios.”

Taranto and some of his fans after a performance of The Donovan Affair at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 in The Egyptian…

Socializing on the set with Osborne and the other 19 guest programmers was energizing, and Taranto claims that “the excitement was palpable. I don’t think any of us could really believe we were going to be hosting a movie with Robert Osborne.” The ‘meet and greet’ also afforded the guest programmers to see the actual “big red chairs” that are employed when Osborne and his special celebrity hosts introduce classic films. Taranto was thrilled when he found out that each guest programmer would be photographed sitting in the famously iconic chairs

The photo on the wall in the background of the set that viewers often glimpse is actually an image of Colfax, Washington, Osborne’s hometown, according to Taranto. One of the fan programmers is Officer Byrd from Judge Judy’s court, whom Taranto claims “is a great guy. Byrd is nothing like he seems in the court room because he’s very friendly, likes to joke, and is always doing voices.”

Visiting with Osborne was also a memorable moment for Taranto who was also surprised at the lovely gifts presented to each programmer like a canvas bag that had an autographed copy of Robert Osborne’s latest book, 85 Years of the Oscar, a beautiful fleece blanket, a leather-bound journal, and a coffee mug all of which are embossed with the TCM logo.

Taranto was with the group whose first day included a tour of Atlanta and its environs, and he enjoyed visiting the Atlanta Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Museum, and the home where Margaret Mitchell lived when she wrote Gone With The Wind. All programmers were treated to a formal dinner at Olmsted with all the TCM staff.

Taranto’s presentation of Went The Day Well? will air on Wednesday, April 9, at midnight EST, and 9 p.m. PFT on Turner Classic Movies.

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TCM Ultimate Fan Videos and Selected Guest Programmers

TCM ULTIMATE FAN VIDEOS OF SELECTED GUEST PROGRAMMERS

TCM’s 20th Anniversary Guest Programmers…

TCM’s Ultimate Fan Video Contest was definitely a success this year with more than 300 entries from all over the United States. The 90 seconds (or less) videos had to follow the strict rules discussed on the contest website, and entrants had from October 1st to October 31st to create their own Ultimate Fan Videos. Some videos of winning programmers no longer have valid links in the TCM Ultimate Fan Video Gallery, but some are still accessible, and have been included here:

Steve Hayes, from New York, N.Y., entered his fan video supporting Kings’ Row, but he is co-hosting a different film on Monday, April 7, at 1:30 a.m. It’s 1954′s Them! : http://fancontest.tcm.com/Entries/view/177/sort:entry_vote_count/direction:dir
Hayes also has a popular Youtube series: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VuH8bMCpLxo

Onalee McGraw, from Front Royal, Virginia, chose 1957′s 12 Angry Men, and will be introducing it during her Guest Programming spot in the TCM limelight at 1:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 9: http://fancontest.tcm.com/Entries/view/311/sort:entry_vote_count/direction:dir

Robert Best, of Los Angeles, California, chose The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for his Ultimate Fan Video, and it’s also the same film he will introduce with Robert Osborne at 2:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 10: http://fancontest.tcm.com/Entries/view/270/sort:entry_vote_count/direction:dir

On midnight, April 11, Alberto Ferreras will host his favorite film, and the subject of his Ultimate Fan Video, Nights of Cabiria: http://fancontest.tcm.com/Entries/view/273/sort:entry_vote_count/direction:dir

Actor Glenn Taranto and some of his fans after the performance of The Donovan Affair at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014

Glenn Taranto, from Culver City, California, chose Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein for his Ultimate Fan Video, but he will introduce a TCM premiere, Went the Day Well (1942) another of Taranto’s favorites, at midnight on Wednesday, April 9. Turner Classic Film Festival pass holders might remember Taranto as he appeared at last year’s festival in the popular production of The Donovan Affair. His video is characterized by a busy street scene in LA: http://fancontest.tcm.com/entries/view/91/sort:entry_vote_count/direction:dir

TCM’s Ultimate Fan Video Grand Prize Winner…
TCM Ultimate Fan Video winner Tiffany Vasquez hails from New, York, N.Y., and chose The Naked City for the subject of her entry video, filmed in black and white. Vasquez will be the first Guest Programmer featured on Monday, April 7th, at 8 p.m.: http://fancontest.tcm.com/Entries/view/84/sort:entry_vote_count/direction:dir
Comments on the contest announcement page discussed the contest entrants and Tiffany’s award-winning video: “Judges were impressed with Tiffany’s content, staging and creative use of effects, which resulted in the video looking like the movie she discussed. As the grand prize winner, Tiffany will have the opportunity to co-host a film on air with TCM host Robert Osborne, as well as introduce a film at the TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2014.

The response to this contest was tremendous, and the panel of judges was thrilled to see the passion and creativity of TCM fans. Thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations to Tiffany!”

Tiffany receives an all-expense paid trip to the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 for her efforts. Congratulatons!

UPDATED FILM LIST SELECTIONS FOR THE TCM ULTIMATE FAN CONTEST: http://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/updated-film-title-list-for-the-tcm-ultimate-fan-contest/
THE FIRST 15 GUEST PROGRAMMERS: http://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/the-first-15-tcm-guest-programmers/
ULTIMATE FAN VIDEO POPULAR FILMS LIST: http://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/updated-film-title-list-for-the-tcm-ultimate-fan-contest/
GUEST PROGRAMMER SCHEDULE AND TCM PRESS RELEASE, 1-31-2014: http://news.turner.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=6618
OFFICIAL RULES: http://fancontest.tcm.com/pages/rules
TCM ULTIMATE FAN VIDEO GALLERY: http://fancontest.tcm.com/entries

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A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS —TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon….

“With a little common sense, you could have made a statesman,” claims Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey as he redresses Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More for opposing him during a council meeting.

And that simple phrase sums up the worldly view of a man who had a conscience and an “intolerable moral squint.”

Robert Bolt’s play of the same name was adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, and he made adjustments to the script by adding a few scenes crucial to the narrative once he removed the play’s narrator, the Common Man, a role Leo McKern originated on the stage both in London and New York. McKern was then employed as “Master Cromwell,” who replaced Wolsey after Wolsey couldn’t perform the task of resolving the matter of King Henry VIII’s divorce.

But the showcase role, which earned Paul Scofield an Academy Award, was not initially awarded to Scofield. Sir Richard Burton was first considered, but he turned them down flat with his Welsh pragmatism. Even Sir Laurence Olivier regarded the role as that of Scofield’s and eventually the powers that be, who felt Scofield not a well-known enough actor required to carry such a financial expenditure, acquiesced.

A Renaissance man, Sir Thomas More, was confident in his beliefs about God and man, and refused King Henry’s demands for More’s oath of allegiance to the Act of Succession:

“I (state you name) do utterly testifie and declare in my Conscience, that the Kings Highnesse is the onely Supreame Governour of this Realme, and all other his Highnesse Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spirituall or Ecclesiasticall things or causes, as Temporall: And that no forraine Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiorities, Preeminence or Authority Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme. And therefore, I do utterly renounce and forsake all Jurisdictions, Powers, Superiorities, or Authorities; and do promise that from henchforth I shall beare faith and true Allegiance to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and lawfull Successors: and to my power shall assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Priviledges, Preheminences and Authorities granted or belonging to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and Successors or united and annexed to the Imperial Crowne of the Realme: so helpe me God: and by the Contents of this Booke.”

More’s defense at his trial included references to the Magna Carta, The Bible, and the King’s own Act of Supremacy in 1535.

Director Fred Zinneman and Actor Paul Scofield on the set of A Man For All Seasons..

Paul Scofield’s performance, both staid and erudite, passive at moments, and passionate at others, reveals how a man of conscience deals with power mongers of any century. Originating the stage role in Bolt’s play, A Man For All Seasons, his portrayal of More on the boards received acclaim on both sides of the pond.

Richard Rich, the ambitious backwater politician, is seen as the man instigating the conflict and downfall of More at the hands of Cromwell, and John Hurt’s first screen role as Rich, makes us feel his burning ambition, and that anyone who steps in his path, even a man as righteous as More, will be undone. Hurt’s moment of high perjury as Rich is the catalyst for Scofield’s most impassioned speech during A Man For All Seasons, and without Hurt’s grabbing and scratching for supremacy in the theatre of men as Richard Rich, More’s shock at Rich’s blatancy evolved to the passion and erudition of More’s final speech before Parliament.

Scofield received many acting awards and honors during his lifetime, but was very selective about his screen choices. His 1962 performance of King Lear on the British stage was voted the best stage performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company in a poll encompassing 400 years of performances, and voters included some of the greatest stage actors of our times.(Judi Dench’s Lady Macbeth came in second.) Scofield did not seek the limelight, or awards, but he did seek to find roles that were memorable and rewarding, and viewers of A Man For All Seasons are the recipients of Scofield’s nuanced performance and dedication to his craft.

A portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein The Younger commissioned in 1527…

A Man For All Seasons won six Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Fred Zinneman), Best Actor for Paul Scofield, Best Costume Design (Elizabeth Haffenden and Joan Bridge), Best Screenplay from another medium for Robert Bolt, and Best Cinematography (Ted Moore).

It’s on today on TCM! Check the schedule for local screenings: http://www.tcm.com/schedule/

Scofield’s biography: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006890/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

A Man For All Seasons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_for_All_Seasons_(1966_film)

The Royal Shakespeare Poll: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1469918/Scofields-Lear-voted-the-greatest-Shakespeare-performance.html

More tropes about the play and film: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Theatre/AManForAllSeasons

The Trial of Sir Thomas More: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/more/more.html

A Facebook page and safe haven for all fans of A Man For All Seasons created by Sam Loomis: https://www.facebook.com/groups/267080256773209/

Part of the The 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon…

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