Cesar Romero: More than just a Latin lover….

My article is part of a month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage and culture and is a homage to Hispanic contributions to American Classic Cinema for Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage Blogathon.

The kindly Ram Dass from The Little Princess...

The kindly Ram Dass from The Little Princess…

I have to admit I fell in love. I was only 7 or 8, but the first time I saw The Little Princess on our black and white Philco, Cesar Romero, as Ram Dass, took my heart away and always kept it. He saved little Shirley Temple as Sara from all the people in the film who tried to keep her from her father. When she was about to give up, he furnished her little attic room with luxurious clothes, delicious, hot food, a comfy cover on her bed, and the warm feeling that she wasn’t alone in her daily struggles. How could I not admire and adore Romero after seeing how kind he had been to a little orphan girl? I hoped that if I was ever in such circumstances that I would find someone to protect me like that if my Daddy were to disappear from my little life.

I have a white rose to tend
In July as in January;
I give it to the true friend
Who offers his frank hand to me.
And for the cruel one whose blows
Break the heart by which I live,
Thistle nor thorn do I give:
For him, too, I have a white rose.

José Julián Martí Pérez (January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895) was a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist.

José Julián Martí Pérez (January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895) was a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist.

Poet, teacher, and revolutionary Jose Marti’s poem, “I Have a White Rose” in some ways symbolizes the generosity of spirit that Cesar Romero, as Ram Dass, shares with little Sara (Shirley Temple) in The Little Princess. Ram Dass gives sustenanace to a little lost child so that she can share in the joy he knows is still part of her heart even though adversity surrounds her. But Marti’s poetry is not perhaps the only connection to Romero.

Romero's wardrobe from Wee Willie Winkie....

Romero’s wardrobe from Wee Willie Winkie….

“A violet duchess careens
In the arms of a red coat:
A painted viscount of note
Keeps time on a tambourine.”

(Translated Excerpt from “Estoy en un baile extrano” by Jose Marti.)
Cesar Romero, born to Cuban parents in New York City on February 15, 1907, went to Collegiate and Riverdale County Schools before beginning his foray into the entertainment industry as a ballroom dancer. First appearing on Broadway in the 1927 production of Lady Do, and then in Strictly Dishonorable, his first film role came in The Shadow Laughs (1933), and he then garnered more favorable exposure in The Devil is a Woman (1935). In 1937, he appeared first with Shirley Temple in Wee Willie Winkie, and again teamed with Temple in The Little Princess in 1939, the film that inspired me to choose Romero as my topic for Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage Blogathon. Romero’s kindness and generosity in the role always reminds me of my father’s willingness to help others.

Romero with Mexican actress Elena De La Cruz in Havana in 1948

Romero with Mexican actress Elena De La Cruz in Havana in 1948

According to several sources, Romero’s maternal grandparents were exiled Cubans Carmen and her invalid husband, Manuel Mantilla. Their daughter, María Mantilla — Romero’s mother — is generally believed to have been the daughter of Cuban poet and revolutionary hero José Martí, who wrote the verses used in “Guantánamera” (“Yo soy un hombre sincero…”).

As Hernan Cortes in Captain From Castile...

As Hernan Cortes in Captain From Castile…

Romero’s versatility lent his talents initially to the stable of stereotypical Latin lotharios in Hollywood, but many of his more in-depth roles began to reveal his ability to play drama, comedy, and a mixture of the two. His popularity had many phases, which illuminate how intrinsic his international characters were to plot development in Hollywood from the 1930’s to the 1990’s, as his roles changed from the sexy, well-dressed “eye candy” of his early years to more definitive roles like that of Hernan Cortes in Captain From Castile. Cortes would never look that good again on screen or off.

Some say he would show up for the "opening of a napkin," but there is no doubt Romero was a popular man-about-town...

Some say he would show up for the “opening of a napkin,” but there is no doubt Romero was a popular man-about-town…

Romero’s supposedly savvy deal for the production of the 50’s television program Passport to Danger, where Romero played an international courier dodging bullets and secret agents, had him playing opposite such guest stars as Carolyn Jones, Frank Wilcox, Ted DeCorsia, and Paul Picerni as he cavorted and cajoled his way through weeklly intrigue for four years. (It also allowed him to care for many of his extended family members through the ensuing years, and would not be the only clever business deal he made.) His participation in the series left him financially well-fixed and allowed him to stock his closet, which some say held upwards of 500 suits and tuxedos. Romero believed in dressing welll and living well, and his reputation as a “confirmed bachelor” did nothing to disturb his decades-long popularity with celebrities, and the camera, both in film and television.
On the popular What's My Line....

On the popular What’s My Line….

The audience’s initial response to Cesar Romero’s appearance on What’s My Line reveals how popular and well-liked Romero’s film, television, and radio appearances have made him to American audiences. As one of the most entertaining appearances on What’s My Line reveals, Romero’s sense of humor belies his ability to entertain. After he disguises his voice to a deep, raspy, whisper, the panel continues to allude to the fact that they think Romero might be a seal as a continuing rhetorical device to elicit laughter from the audience. When Dorothy Kilgallen asks Romero if he ever had a signature laugh, it is more than a decade before Romero’s signature laugh as Batman’s The Joker appears on the American television scene: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ve3xrr-Y7oQ

After the heyday of the studios came to a close, Romero began becoming even more visible on primetime television, and his stint as The Joker on the 60’s Batman series left him a little perplexed at times, but certainly grateful and zesty as one of the tallest Jokers at 6’3″ to ever grace the screens.

Romero relaxing at home and on the set of Batman...

Romero relaxing at home and on the set of Batman…

According to a quote attributed to Romero, he was perplexed about one of his most visible roles and most enduring characters. “Why [producer William Dozier] wanted me for Batman (1966), I’ll never know, because I asked his wife, Ann Rutherford, ‘Why did Bill think of me for this part?’. She said, “I don’t know, Butch. He said he saw you in something, and he said, ‘He’s the one I want to play the Joker’.” I haven’t the slightest idea what it was he saw me in, because I had never done anything like it before.”

HIs most enduring television role...

His most enduring television role…

The signature Joker laugh also has its origins in a spontaneous moment that became a legendary calling card. His evil giggle as the Joker on Batman (1966) was created almost by accident. Shortly after being cast, Romero met with producers to discuss his role on the series. While waiting to meet with them, he happened to see conceptual art of the Joker’s costuming. Romero felt that the pictures almost look absurd, and as a result, spontaneously broke out into a playfully loud and almost manic laughter. A producer overhearing that laughter, responded by telling Romero “That’s it, that your Joker’s laugh!”.

To listen to Romero’s raucously riotous refrain, follow the link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x5fX4quv7fw

The actor obviously had so much joy with the unusual character: “I had enormous fun playing the Joker on Batman (1966). I ended up doing something like 20 episodes of Batman, as well as the full-length feature film version [Batman: The Movie (1966)]. There was certainly nothing hard about that assignment! Even the makeup sessions weren’t too bad. It took about an hour-and-a-half to put the full makeup on, including the green wig. I didn’t mind it at all.”

As for being stereotyped, Romero stated that “I was never stereotyped as just a Latin lover in any case because I played so many parts in so many pictures. I was more of a character actor than a straight leading man. I did many kinds of characters — Hindus, Indians, Italians. There were very few pictures where I ended up with the girl.” He also played the popular Niarchos opposite Jane Wyman in Falconcrest in the 1980’s, and was cast as Sophia’s love interest in an episode of The Golden Girls that is a fan favorite.

Would his rumored grandfather approve of what Romero did with his ilfe? According to an article written by Kim Ruehl, “Guantanamera” was originally written in 1929 as a patriotic song about Cuba, the rhyme scheme and structure of “Guantanamera” has always lent itself easily to evolution and adaptation – both things necessary for any good protest song. The tune has been evolved through the years and used in struggles for peace and justice across Latin America and the US, and has been recorded by a remarkably long and diverse list of artists, including Joan Baez, the Fugees, Jimmy Buffett, Jose Feliciano, Julio Iglesias, Los Lobos, Pete Seeger, and numerous others. It’s been recorded in Spanish, Italian, French, Welsh, English, and Dutch.

Originally, the lyrics to “Guantanamera” had a romantic spin. It was a song about a love affair gone awry – a story of a woman who gets fed up and leaves her man after being mistreated, possibly in the form of infidelity. Those lyrics quickly fell by the wayside as the song evolved to one about national pride. After all, the first verse of the song was taken from a poem by Cuban freedom activist Jose Marti, an adaptation which cemented it for future use among freedom activists and others struggling for some kind of justice.”

Those lines which open the song translate roughly to English as:

I am a truthful man from this land of palm trees
Before dying I want to share these poems of my soul

“Yo soy un hombre sincero,
De donde crece la palma,
Yo soy un hombre sincero,
De donde crece la palma,
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma”

For me, Cesar Romero, grandson of the Cuban poet, Jose Marti, will always be that “hombre sincero,” the Ram Dass of my soul, “de mi alma.”


*(Romero’s costume from Wee WIllie Winkie was sold at the Bonham’s auction last year for $1,125, higher than the original auction house estimate. Twentieth Century-Fox, 1937. A long red wool coat with elaborate gold embroidery and epaulettes, bearing a black-lettered United Costumers, Inc. Manufacturers label inscribed in black ink, “Cesar Romero.” Together with a red silk cummerbund to be worn over the coat, also with a black-lettered United Costumers, Inc. Manufacturers label inscribed in black ink, “C. Romero.” Accompanied by a reproduction still showing Romero wearing the coat. The film, directed by John Ford, is based on a Rudyard Kipling story set in Colonial India. Romero, a leading Latin heartthrob of the day, portrays Khoda Khan, an Indian leader who befriends Shirley Temple’s character.)

Christy Putnam received a prestigious Council For Basic Education Fellowship of $3,000 for her article “Malinalli: Cortes’ Mistress and Interpreter” in the 1990’s. She is bilingual, and has traveled to 19 states in Mexico, and Madrid, Spain. She wrote, produced, and directed a young adult play entitled “Origins of Spanish Poetry” in 2008.

Sources include: Cuba Then/The Monacelli Press, Kim Ruehl article, Poemhunter, IMDB, Wikipedia, “Amor con amor se paga” por Jose Marti, El Jardin de las Orquideas, and others.

“Marti found American society to be so great, he thought Latin America should consider imitating America. Marti argued that if the US “could reach such a high standard of living in so short a time, and despite, too, its lack of unifying traditions, could not the same be expected of Latin America?” John M. Kirk, Jose Marti, Mentor of the Cuban Nation

Photo at right: Martí and María, Cesar Romero's mother, who was 10 years old, on a trip to Bath Beach in 1890.

Photo at right:
Martí and María, Cesar Romero’s mother,
who was 10 years old,
on a trip to Bath Beach in 1890.

For more information on the familial relationship of Jose Marti and Cesar Romero, follow the link: http://www.historyofcuba.com/history/funfacts/CesarRom.htm

Certain diacritical markings, like the accent, have not been added in some sections due to technical constraints. The “E” in Jose and the “I” in Marti should have an accent mark, as well as the “I” in Orquideas.

Stopping on the Gone With The Wind Trail…


According to some reports, Ms. Howard might have been the 'Belle Watling' of her times...

According to some reports, Ms. Howard might have been the ‘Belle Watling’ of her times…

The film receiving the most Oscar awards in 1939 has been scheduled for venues all over the United States in 2014 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of “Gone With The Wind,” but Atlanta seems to hold the greatest allure both for its historic connection to the film and the star-studded parade and premiere on December 15, 1939.
Scarlett on the Square in Marietta...

Scarlett on the Square in Marietta…

While attending the 75th Anniversary of Gone With The Wind at the Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum, I took some time to visit with friends and enjoy several days of fun in Atlanta and its environs.
Author Kendra Bean at the Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum in June...

Author Kendra Bean at the Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum in June…

I met with Texas friends Deal and Janice in Marietta, and we stayed at the Marietta Hilton where we met author Anne Edwards, who shared a ride with us to one of the many events.

Author Anne Edwards and Museum Director Connie Sutherland

Author Anne Edwards and Museum Director Connie Sutherland

Houstonian Deal Newberry with Miss Georgia at the Bazaar Ball in Marietta, Georgia...

Houstonian Deal Newberry with Miss Georgia at the Bazaar Ball in Marietta, Georgia…

Historical marker near the entrance of Oakland...

Historical marker near the entrance of Oakland…

An important stop on the Gone With The Wind Trail has been luring fans of the film and novel to the heart of Atlanta for decades in order to visit the graves of author Margaret Mitchell, her husband, John Marsh and others, but Historic Oakland Cemetery began modestly as just six acres in 1850 when the population of the city only included about 2,500 residents.

Friends Dennis Millay, Janice Milstead, and Deal Newberry that warm June afternoon at the entrance to one of the most fascinating cemeteries in the country....

Friends Dennis Millay, Janice Milstead, and Deal Newberry at the entrance to one of the most fascinating cemeteries in the country….

Kimberly Krautter, a dear friend of Dennis Millay, who suggested we visit Oakland, gave us a unique, and personal tour of the fabulously appointed cemetery whose statuary, and landscaping make a stroll through its brick-paved walkways an unending journey to the fascinating back stories shared by a professional guide who has spend her whole life learning and sharing the unique snapshots of time that make a visit to Oakland a timeless experience of personal connection with the history of Atlanta. Krautter is just one of the many popular tour guides who volunteer as docents for Oakland Cemetery and whose expertise enhances a trip to the area.

Kimberly's fascinating tales of  specific moments in Atlanta's extensive history reveal her expertise and her enthusiasm to Deal and Janice...

Kimberly’s fascinating tales of specific moments in Atlanta’s extensive history reveal her expertise and her enthusiasm to Deal and Janice…

By 1867, 42 more acres had been added to the original site to accommodate casualties of the Civil War who had been hastily buried on area battlefields.
No matter how many times I visit a cemetery, I always feel someone is watching...

No matter how many times I visit a cemetery, I always feel someone is watching…

In 1872, the cemetery was christened “Atlanta Graveyard” or “City Burial Place.”
A quiet grave appointed by blue hydrangeas invites visitors for a closer look...

A quiet grave appointed by blue hydrangeas invites visitors for a closer look…

Intricate masonry and architecture mix with the scent of wild lavender while strolling through the brick-lined walkways in the heart of Atlanta...

Intricate masonry and architecture mix with the scent of wild lavender while strolling through the brick-lined walkways in the heart of Atlanta…

Two historical markers illuminate the importance of the site during the Civil War according to the Oakland Cemetery website:

The first reveals that “in 1862, Union operatives known as Andrews Raiders commandeered a locomotive at present-day Kennesaw and raced north to cut telegraph lines. They were captured and condemned as spies. Seven were hanged near Oakland’s southeast corner and interred in the cemetery before removal to the National Cemetery at Chattanooga.”
The second marker commemorates “high ground north of the Bell Tower, a two-story farmhouse stood in the summer of 1864. It served as headquarters for Confederate commander John B. Hood during the Battle of Atlanta, which was fought to the east of the cemetery on July 22.”

Former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson is buried here...

Former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson is buried here…

Other famous Oakland residents include golfer Robert T. “Bobby” Jones, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, ex-slave Carrie Steele Logan who established the first African-American orphanage, and Moses Formwalt, Atlanta’s first mayor.
What would this famous Atlanta businessman have to say about his wild life? We just had to let Kimberly tell us....

What would this famous Atlanta businessman have to say about his wild life? We just had to let Kimberly tell us….

Oakland Cemetery attracts international visitors like these from Russia, London, Uruguay, and ...Texas!

Oakland Cemetery attracts international visitors like these from Russia, London, Uruguay, and …Texas!

Mother and daughter statuary elicit the grace of a bygone era...

Mother and daughter statuary elicit the grace of a bygone era…

The solitude of the surroundings and the lovely garden spots are always part of Oakland’s charm.

As tourists gather in Atlanta to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of “Gone With the Wind” and visit theme museums in Marietta and Jonesboro, the cemetery expects more visitors, and popular tour guide Kimberly Krautter will be busier than ever. A special Margaret Mitchell and “Gone With The Wind’ tour is available on selected Saturdays through October 4, as well as the ever-popular Halloween tours and exclusive events.

Unusual statuary and unique stories are around every turn...

Unusual statuary and unique stories are around every turn…

(The photograph used for the header of this article was taken on the evening of June 5, 2014, from the veranda of the Marietta Hilton after a heavy thunderstorm. Even hotel employees stepped out to see it and snap photos for their Instagram accounts!)

For a list of all venues included on the GONE WITH THE WIND TRAIL, follow this link: http://www.gwtwtrail.com/GWTW_TRAIL/GWTW_TRAIL_HOME.html

Oakland Cemetery website: http://www.oaklandcemetery.com/plan-your-visit/special-topic-tours/

Follow me on Twitter @suesueapplegate
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The Silver Screen Oasis: http://silverscreenoasis.com/oasis3/viewtopic.php?f=92&t=4260&start=840
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/39646-sue-sue-ii/
The Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/classic-film-in-national/christy-putnam

The Case for Dark Passage

He was a guy with plenty of trouble, but maybe I like ‘em that way. His case reminded me of my father’s, and I spent everyday at his trial. Wrongly convicted, he’s been San Quentin Quail since they waltzed him out of court with those free bracelets they seem to give everybody traveling in a government car with an escort.

I was up in the hills above the bay all morning, doing a bit of painting with my oils, and as I packed up, and started the engine, I heard about Vincent Parry making a break for it on the car radio. So I headed toward the county road where he might have gone.

As I stepped out of the car into the bushes by the open coupe with the carnival-tent seat covers, the driver’s seat door had been left open, and as I looked over the car, I raised my eyes and saw Parry. The look of fear and desperation in his eyes had frozen his features, and made me take a quick breath, but somehow I convinced him to hide in the back seat of the wood-paneled wagon and cover himself with the canvas I had used to protect my paintings.—Irene Jansen

Maybe that’s how Irene Jansen would have explained to the police how she happened to find Vincent Parry that day, but as her cards played out, she ended up on an extended excursion South of the equator. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Dark Passage, a film written and directed by Delmer Daves from a David Goodis novel, was only the second prominent film of the forties to make use of the first-person camera to tell a tale of lies, corruption, justice and redemption. (Lady in the Lake with Robert Montgomery was the first.) Daves fought with the studio powers that be to film some of the major scenes outside of the studio, all the way up in San Francisco, and fans still trek to the sight of Irene Jansen’s apartment. And that wasn’t the first time Jack Warner threw a fit about Dark Passage.

On the set with Director Delmer Daves and Humphrey Bogart

On the set with Director Delmer Daves and Humphrey Bogart

The next time Warner steamed up happened when he realized one of his biggest stars, Humphrey Bogart, wouldn’t appear on screen until after the first 62 minutes. “I can just hear Jack Warner scream,” Bogie said.

Why does this film still attract me with my daily cravings for good storytelling? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just funny that way, but Dark Passage, a film Leonard Maltin calls “not great” but “good,” has my attention the minute the credits quit scrolling by.

On the back of a truck leaving San Quentin sits a barrel with someone’s fingers curling over the edge ever so slightly in a desperate grasp for freedom and for courage to roll the barrel off of the back of the speeding truck and down a bumpy ravine. As its rolling, the camera reveals what the man in the barrel must be seeing while it’s gaining momentum falling down by jerks and tumbles, and it lands with a thud.
A man crawls out of the barrel, weaving to and fro, obviously stunned by the rough journey. He ducks into a huge concrete pipe to avoid being seen. (The 80’s film Foul Play featured an similar sequence as an homage, planned or otherwise, to Dark Passage.)

Clifton Young as Baker picks up Parry...

Clifton Young as Baker picks up Parry…

Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall) helps Parry (Humphrey Bogart) with money, clothes, and a place to hide out until a little bit of the heat wears off, and when he leaves, he gives a touching goodbye to Jansen. Just then, he takes a cab to leave, and the cabbie (Tom D’Andrea) helps Parry find a doctor to perform plastic surgery on him so that he can hide. So guess where Parry goes to recover? Yes, that gorgeous Art Deco apartment of Irene’s.
A view from the patio..

A view from the patio..

She even has a glass tube for him to sip his orange juice with because he isn’t having dinner for awhile. Just plenty of liquid refreshments until the bandages come off.

And there are so many coincidences, scuffles, and near-escapes that viewers sometimes have to work a bit to suspend their disbelief, but it’s all worth it.

On the set with Director Delmer Daves and Humphrey Bogart

On the set with Director Delmer Daves and Humphrey Bogart

If director Delmer Daves had a “Paranoia” trilogy like Alan J. Pakula (Klute, All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor), Dark Passage would be there right along with The Petrified Forest, The Red House, or maybe Destination Tokyo. Lauren Bacall said during her Private Screenings with Robert Osborne on TCM that “Del Daves was a very emotional man.” When Bacall was watching Bogie leave after his recovery as Parry, Bacall was teary-eyed, and she said Daves was crying all during the filming of the scene.

The Characters “Straight From Characterville”

I think several bloggers and some critics have made a good case for claiming one of the main characters of this film is actually….San Francisco. A murder occurs under the Golden Gate Bridge, Bogie is seen traipsing through several famous parts of town, and San Quentin looms from the very beginning. The Filbert Steps lead up to Irene Jansen’s apartment, which is located on 1360 Montgomery Street at Filbert Street. (The cast stayed at Nob Hill’s fancy Mark Hopkins hotel while filming, and the family atmosphere extended itself into the film as Daves used his son and daughter in the train station sequence as Parry makes his last stateside call to Irene.)
When Jansen crosses the Golden Gate Bridge in fear of being caught, and passes through the toll booth, actor Vince Edwards (Ben Casey) is supposedly manning the booth, and we see him for a few seconds on screen.

"George was my best friend..."

“George was my best friend…”

Rory Malinson as Parry’s best friend, George, immediately sounds just like Randolph Scott, and he even appears a little like what Scott’s brother might look like, but it’s the moment when George allows Parry into his apartment that we see just how kind a friend George really is, and that moment creates in the viewer even more sympathy for Parry. When Parry finds George dead, it breaks what’s left of his heart.
Houseley Stephens and Tom D'Andrea

Houseley Stephens and Tom D’Andrea

Tom D’Andrea as the cabbie, has some of the dialogue that supplies a little comic relief amid all the paranoia. “Up we go, slippety-slop” as he describes driving a fare all the way to the Pacific Ocean holding a bowl with two goldfish. “But I like goldfish. I’m gonna get a couple for the room–you know. Dress it up a little bit. It adds class to the joint. Makes it a little homey.” D’Andrea’s comic timing makes his moments on screen thoroughly enjoyable.
"I'm so sorry I made that crack about Bay Meadows..."

“I’m so sorry I made that crack about Bay Meadows…”

As the counterman who calls Parry on his untimely request for information on Bay Meadows, Tom Fadden makes us feel how unhappy he was to alert a detective to Parry’s trail, but he is as memorable in his role, as D’Andrea was as the cabbie.




Agnes Moorehead, however, steals the show with her catlike manner. Her first moments on screen occur as she is ‘rapping’ on the front door of Irene’s apartment, and we hear her voice as it is grating on our sense of peace and tranquility. This moment reminds of so much of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.” Once Madge Rapf appears (and yes, it’s after much ‘rapping’ and a possibly subtle play on words), I keep hearing the word “Nevermore” reverberate in my 9th-grade consciousness, almost in sync with Madge’s frenetic knocking on Irene’s door.

After Madge lets Parry into her apartment, unaware of who he is, she picks up a pillow and drops it right down in front of Parry so that she can sit on her knees to open the box of candy he has brought her, almost surrounding Parry as her prey. Then she gently caresses the face of Parry’s watch, with her perfectly manicured nails as she reveals to him how she is ready to caress Parry on the face. At that moment, she recognizes Parry’s voice. “What is it? Is it the eyes that don’t quite go with the face?” Parry asks.

"I'm the pest now, Madge!"

“I’m the pest now, Madge!”

Madge’s venomous spiel about Parry, his wife, and Irene precedes her own self-destruction. But Moorehead looked fabulous in the striped dress that had a dark, satiny sheen that reflected light right before Madge takes the ultimate cop-out– a bully who’s a coward at heart. Madge jumps to her own grave, but looked fabulous right before she yanked the heavy silk curtains back, and took her final, miserable leap into what surely must have been considered 1947’s version of automatic doom and hell.

The Clothes
Thank you, Bernard Neuman, brother-in-law of Ruby Keeler. Lauren Bacall looks absolutely stunning in all of her ensembles, as does Agnes Moorehead in a striking leopard ensemble in her first appearance in the film. Neumann was previously responsible for all the gorgeous gowns in Roberta.

What else is there?
The fabulous art and set direction, stalwart Bruce Bennett, smarmy Clifton Young as Baker, the psyche-stirring dream sequence when Parry is under sedation for his plastic surgery operation in a seedy back alley office, and more. I just need more time to tell about it all.

Exclusive Interviews Celebrate Thelma Ritter’s Legacy

The director of Airport, the biggest Universal blockbuster in 1970, whose $45 million in earnings wouldn’t be topped until Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975, and a character actress with 6 nominations had a connection that made history for both of them.

George Stenius, whose family hailed from Stockholm, grew up in Detroit, and he was determined to be an actor and not go to college, so he joined a stock company and also dabbled in radio. Credited with creating the “High Ho, Silver!” sound byte glorifying The Lone Ranger on radio because he couldn’t whistle, Stenius, who had changed his last name to Seaton because it was easier to pronounce, had the pluck to send his play to none other than MGM’s Irving Thalberg.

Thalberg may not have been as interested in the play as he was in the creative potential of young George, whom he hired as a $50 a week assistant to Ben Hecht and Charles McArthur so George could learn more about his craft, which was not a bad place to start for a newbie. Unfortunately, the MGM team Hecht/MacArthur soon parted company and George didn’t see Hollywood for awhile.

But George Seaton kept plugging away as a gag writer, a fixer, and a man with creative stories. His uncredited days were soon to be behind him as Groucho Marx liked what he came up with for A Night At The Opera, also starring Kitty Carlisle. Marx took him on board for the next Marx Brothers project as a collaborative writer on A Day at the Races, and soon after, he worked for a short while at Columbia and became affiliated with producer William Perleberg, who latched onto Seaton as a protege. Perleberg then joined 20th Century Fox in the early forties and Seaton went with him.

One of Seaton’s first assignments at Fox was the screenplay for the box office hit, The Song of Bernadette which initiated his long career as a successful screenwriter, director and producer.

Various projects followed, and eventually he worked on a period comedy with Betty Grable, but unfortunately, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim was a shocking failure even though it sported songs from George and Ira Gershwin. But as with all failures, everyone usually learns something.

For Seaton’s next project, he wrote the screenplay, and it more than made up for the failure of his last picture. Viewers still scream for it every year in December because of the story, because of the characters, and because of its endearing charm. And one of those endearing charmers was someone agent Meyer Mishkin found named Thelma Ritter. “Meyer was my agent, and he found Thelma for George,”according to actor Marvin Kaplan, who also appeared with Ritter in A New Kind of Love, a film that starred Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward. TCM Host Robert Osborne also commented during Thelma Ritter’s Summer Under The Stars comments prior to The Model and The Marriage Broker on Wednesday, that Ritter and Seaton were friends.

Officially uncredited in the cast of Miracle on 34th Street, but unforgettable in moviegoer´s memories as “Peter’s mother,” Thelma Ritter elbowed her way to the focal point of viewers’ memories, especially as she told her son something like “Momma wants to talk to Santa, now” after Edmund Gwenn, as Kris Kringle, had promised Peter a fire engine that his mother knew she couldn’t deliver by Christmas morning. Ritter has charged through cinematic history like a a steam roller ever since she had been given her big cinematic break by Director George Seaton, the man who was plucked from obscurity by Irving Thalberg, and cut his writing chops with none other than Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, of Front Page fame.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1902 on St. Valentine’s Day, Thelma Ritter’s auspicious entrance on the day heralded as the most romantic day of the year meant to many classic cinema fans that she would be loved for her endearing, no-nonsense charm, and for telling it all like it is.

Ritter also studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and trained there as an actress. Her husband, Joe Moran was a popular talent agent, and they had two children, daughter Nikki, who also was an actress and appeared with her mother in a road show production of Bye, Bye Birdie in 1966, and son Joseph Anthony Moran, who liked to be called Tony.

In my exclusive interview with Tony last year, he revealed that “I just saw Miracle on 34th Street a few weeks ago,” and for the few moments that his mother was in the film, “she just jumped off the screen,” and “took over the whole show.”

Actor Marvin Kaplan in a scene from A New Kind of Love

In a recent interview with actor Marvin Kaplan (It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World), he reminisced and revealed that Ritter was never “on” when she was present at a production, but was always prepared and a “pro,” indicating that she was confident about her part and thoroughly prepared. Kaplan claimed that “whenever Thelma was in a movie, I made sure that I went to see it.¨

Thelma Ritter wears a hat to celebrate St. Catherine’s Day during an event in A New Kind Of Love

On the set of A New Kind of Love, Kaplan got to know Ritter well, and was also close to Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, with whom he still keeps in contact. When Maurice Chevalier came on the set to work, Kaplan remembers that Ritter “didn´t make a big deal” about Chevalier, and she was “shy and quiet” when not performing, but also occaisionally would “let loose with a zinger.”

Once, while dining at the Paramount Commissary during the production of A New Kind of Love, Kaplan, Woodward and Ritter had finished eating, and Kaplan had been laughing and giggling loudly. He claims that John Wayne came over and asked him to leave, and shortly thereafter, Woodward and Ritter, in a moment of solidarity with Kaplan, walked out with Kaplan and left the commissary area.

Ritter mainly participated in dramatic endeavors while living and working in New York and appearing on television and in theater, but when she came out to Hollywood, ¨she mostly did comedies.” Kaplan also remembers that screenwriter and playwright Paddy Chayefsky “especially wanted Ritter” for the Goodyear Playhouse production of A Catered Affair in 1955.

In 1951, she appeared in All About Eve, and writer, producer, and director Joe Mankiewicz admitted that he liked real people “like Thelma Ritter,¨and believed that ¨Thelma Ritter was the best. I wrote Birdie Coonan in All About Eve for her. A wonderful person and a fine actress. I loved her, bless her. Do you remember that scene in Letter to Three Wiveswhen Ritter and Connie Gilchrist are playing cards_ I loved that.¨

Special attention from Joe Mankiewicz anointed Ritter as the go-to-gal to keep audiences focused on the silver screen, and when Ritter appeared in Sam Fuller’s Pickup On South Street, Richard Widmark recalled in Lee Server’s book, Sam Fuller: Film is a Battleground, that “I liked Thelma very much” as he “knew Thelma from the radio days back in New York. She was always a wonderful actress and a terrific lady.”

According to actress, singer, and comedienne Debbie Reynolds, the next SAG/AFTRA Lifetime Achievement Recipient in 2015, Thelma Ritter was one of the greatest scene-stealers that she ever worked with. In Reynolds updated autobiography, Unsinkable, Reynolds claims that Walter Brennan, Walter Matthau, and Thelma Ritter were all in a class by themselves and that “you couldn’t turn your back on any one of them…I’d say it was a three-way tie for who could get the most out of their camera time.” Ritter’s son Tony also revealed that “Debbie and she were very close, and when my Mom died, she called and called and wanted to know if there was anything she could do.”

In an exclusive interview about Thelma Ritter with Christa Fuller, Director Sam Fuller’s widow, Christa states that “Sam adored her. She should have won an award for her touching portrayal in Pickup On South Street.” Filmmaker Samantha Fuller, the director’s daughter, has recently screened A Fuller Life, the ultimate documentary on the life, work, and times of her father at MoMA from August 6-16.

According to esteemed Senior Researcher Alexa Foreman from Turner Classic Movies headquarters in Atlanta at Turner Studios, Thelma Ritter “is one of our ‘unsung heroines’ of movies. She never gave a lackluster performance and was nominated for an amazing SIX Academy Awards. One of the all time great character actresses.”

Ritter’s son, Tony Moran also shared that “evidently, everybody identified with my mother. She would tell it like it was. She was like that in real life.”

Fans of Thelma Ritter can immerse themselves in many of her stellar performances on Wednesday, August 20, all day on Turner Classic Movies. Some of her films will also be added to TCM Mobile.

A few of the many blog articles focusing on Thelma Ritter:




Thelma Ritter Filmography: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0728812/?ref_=nmbio_bio_

Follow Christy Putnam on TWITTER: @suesueapplegate
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/ … ue-sue-ii/
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The Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/article/exclusive-interviews-celebrate-legacy-of-actress-thelma-ritter?cid=db_articles

KKES Radio Classic Film Expert

Copyright 2014

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.


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
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


Follow me on Twitter @suesueapplegate
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KKES Radio Classic Film Expert, Sundays from 12-1p.m.: http://www.1027thehog.com
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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
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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. ©