Monday, May 31, 2010

Pull Up To My Bumper Baby.....

Every other Saturday night in scenic Hastings, Minnesota, the Downtown boulevard is closed to regular traffic and antique autos and street rods (ugh) descend. Yesterday was opening night and with the holiday weekend and warm weather, the place was packed. Hastings is about 30 minutes from the cities, making it a nice drive.....not to far, but far enough to feel like you've gone someplace. As expected in small town USA, the scenery can be, ahem, interesting...and not in a good way. That's why it's best to keep one's eyes on the cars.

And yes, if you're patient, you'll see Norma's Oldsmobile.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Do you use blueing in your final rinse?

Things have been meshugah here in MD. As you know, Mum was visiting, as was a head/chest cold from Hell. Right before my company arrived, I took extra Sudafed and attended a soiree I'd RSVP-ed months earlier. Actually, it was a "wash-in" thrown by one of the important people at AutomaticWasher.org. I found this site years ago and have been checking in ever since. I was (and still am) a little baffled by people that are obsessed by washers and dryers. I admit, I find many of these machines beautiful and I'd love having a few in my home, but I don't have whatever gene it is that makes one's head woozy with Norge, Maytag, Speed Queen, etc. Initially what drew me to the site was that these folks like old stuff, just like me. Sure, I pick things up here and there, but many of the members go way beyond.

These two photos are of Robert and Fred's house, the hosts of the wash-in. Robert's the washer guy. Fred told me that yes, he likes washers, but his love is...vacuum cleaners! As you will see, Robert takes his passion quite seriously. Though I have no photo, Fred's collection of vacuum cleaners (on the second floor) is just as vast and overwhelming as the washers and dryers in the basement (this a mere fraction of what's down there). Aside from being a usual get together, loads of laundry were constantly being done with attendees transfixed by the different machines and their particular cycles. Here and there I did glean information....seems Robert has many "firsts" or special machines. This is no ragtag collection, but museum quality. If you visit their site, you can click on different folks collections from all over.

The entire house was pristine, with retro chachkahs and knick-knacks everywhere. A stunning old television, beautifully restored by Robert played I Love Lucy. They have collections of Better Homes and Gardens from the Fifties and a slew of old Sears catalogs I found tough to put down. Go know.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Not sure who this is.....

Could be Burt Bacharach.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

"I don't know why, but I'm picturing Valerie Harper and Nancy Walker in their matching mother-and-daughter red suits as Rhoda and Ida."

TJB, obviously, your web-based telepathy is quite acute. Actually, it's downright scary. You went right for Rhoda and simply made the presumption that anyone would make! Norma must look like Rhoda or Ida. Go know, I've been told I resemble Harold Gould many times, just as my grandfather was told.

Of course, I sound like Brenda.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mother and Child Reunion

Sorry, I meant to mention that I've got company. That's right, my maternal unit has flown in to spend a few days visiting. Because of this, my moments online are fleeting....you see, we just blab and yent, non-stop.

And thank you Flowerbell, it's so flattering to be missed!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Word Verification Craziness Abounds!

Donna and CoolestCookie have been having a ball with word verification and I suppose I should share mine. I'm "best buds" with Michael Musto on Facebook, so when I happened to get this, I posted it on his wall and he turned around and made me anonymously famous!


Yes Joan, I know what time it is.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thank you TJB

For reminding me of this lesser known Bacharach song that I've always liked and hadn't thought of in ages.

Happy Birthday! Mary Kay Ash

If she had tried another pink product, maybe she'd still be here?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne

I took this from the wonderful Johnny Mercer documentary that aired earlier this year. When I first watched this program, I was stunned by Lena's performance and had had every intention of getting it posted. Today's sad news jolted me into action. What I found interesting is that throughout this film, there are innumerable snippets from performances, but whoever put this together realized that this performance needed to be shown in it's entirety....it is that electrifying. She transcends the medium.

Yummy Wally Cox

swiped from kiss me, gene kelly

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Eve Abbott Wynn Johnson

Eve Abbott met her first husband, Keenan Wynn while they were both appearing on Broadway. She got her start with a small role in 1935's Romeo and Juliet. Evie was swimming with the big fish as the cast included Katherine Cornell, Maurice Evans, Ralph Richardson, Orson Welles and Tyrone Power. She and Power also had small roles in Saint Joan (1936) and they began an affair, but she later said, "Ty was too beautiful. I knew he would never settle down with one person." She later won roles in Hamlet, The American Way, The Star Wagon and Key Largo. I have lots of conflicting information. Some sources say she and Keenan met in The Star Wagon, others say Hitch Your Wagon. Another source says Evie's father operated theatres, as did his friend, the father of Katherine Cornell. This source says Evie spent six years as an apprentice to Katherine's stock company. Whichever it was, some "Wagon" show brought them together and they married in 1939. Once married, Evie, as she was known, stopped acting and became Keenan's agent and business manager. The couple moved out to California where Evie became known for her fabulous parties. From what I've read, it wasn't a happy union. Their fights were legendary in the neighborhood. Eddie Bracken, who lived across the street spoke of the ferocious arguments the three of them would have.

An aggressive broad, Evie was quite judgmental of Keenan's disdainful attitude regarding his career. I'm not sure that either had nice things to say about the other though he did give Evie credit for negotiating a fabulous deal with MGM. For a supporting player, $2,500.00 a week for 40 weeks was unheard of.
Keenan Wynn had met Van Johnson when both were "pounding the pavement" in NYC. They were both signed by MGM in 1942 and everyone moved to Los Angeles where the three became fast friends. In 1943, these three were in a car on their way to the studio to preview Keeper of the Flame when a car jumped a red light and hit them. Johnson, who'd been driving, was critically injured. Evie suffered a minor back injury. Once out of the hospital Van recuperated at the Wynn's home. In 1945, the Wynn's separated. Keenan told the press that he and Evie had nothing in common but their son. At some point, Wynn had a motorcycle accident (he loved bikes) and he moved back in with Evie so that she could nurse him back to health. Keenan's father, the comic actor Ed Wynn had commented, "I can't keep them straight. Evie loved Keenan. Keenan loves Evie. Van loves Evie. Evie loves Van. Van loves Keenan. Keenan loves Van."

According to Evie, Louis B.Mayer threatened her with not renewing Keenan's contract unless she did as he demanded. In his memoir, Arthur Laurents wrote, "A sunny male star caught performing in public urinals once too often was ordered by his studio to get married. His best friends, a young comedian and his wife, divorced so that he could marry the wife."

Ultimately, Evie obtained a Mexican divorce in January, 1947. Evie married Van Johnson the following day.

Years later, Evie was very bitter about L.B. Mayer, stating he..."was the worst of the lot, a dictator with the ethics and morals of a cockroach." Maybe L.B. had been bitter about that fabulous contract Evie had finagled and felt he had the right to ask whatever he wanted of his employee and his manager?

Initially, this new union of Van and Evie appeared successful. Evie continued to be the Hollywood party-giver, now in an Art Deco dream house (at 757 Kingman Avenue) that had been built by Cedric Gibbons for Dolores Del Rio.

Ned Wynn, Evie's son, who wrote "We Will Always Live In Beverly Hills" recalled how now that his mother was married to Van, she always had new jewels and furs. Cartier, Tiffany, Balenciaga, Givenchy....were the names he recalled seeing. (Evie had gotten custody of Ned as well as the couples other son Tracy. She and Van also had a daughter, Schuyler.) So yes, Van did do it once.

In 1952, Evie did face the cameras again. Roz Russell was so crazy about her that she insisted Evie take a part in Never Wave at a WAC.

It appears that Van and Evie drifted apart, split, but briefly reconciled in 1961. She joined Van in London where he was starring in The Music Man. She wasn't there long before she realized that Van was having an affair with a male cast member...."a boy, really. He's the lead boy dancer." That's what she told her son Ned, who tells the story in his memoir.

Things continued to plummet for Evie...Mr. Johnson claimed their divorce was, "the ugliest in Hollywood history." In 1999 she wrote, "I have been reduced to near poverty and went bankrupt some years ago thanks to Van's lack of appreciation for what I did for him by being pressured to marry him by MGM." She had planned to write a tell-all entitled, "All About Evie" but she never did. In 1996 and 2001, she appeared as herself in documentaries about Lana Turner and Tyrone Power. Her other son, Tracy Keenan Wynn is a screenwriter, most notably for, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. In 2005, Tracy was a part of a class action age-discrimination suit against the Hollywood studios, talent agencies and production companies.

Evie died in August, 2004.

Ned's book is "in the mail" as I write.
I imagine I'll learn much more once it's been read.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ross Hunter Addendum

The last post was meant to appear today on Ross' birthday, but I had to post it yesterday to check the choreography. I don't need to tell any blogger that what appears lovely in "preview" can be an abortion when published. Y'all know that too well, I'm sure. Anyway, here's another little thingy I came across.....A letter Ross wrote Dame Elizabeth after Rock Hudson's passing.

Ross is entombed in Westwood, quite close to Monroe. I never noticed him while I was there, there were way too many fabulous names screaming out at me. Ross, I apologize.

Here he is at the premiere of The Chalk Garden. You'll notice I arrived before that bitch, Loretta. And don't you just love that this movie premiere coincided with the 20 minutes that Ethel and Ernie were wed?

Happy Birthday Ross Hunter

The other night, I had the extreme pleasure of going to the Heights Theatre and attending a 4oth anniversary showing of Airport. (This presentation was a benefit for Angel Flight Central, a lovely group of volunteers that transport children and families for a plethora of compassionate reasons.)

I can't recall how many times I've seen Airport, though I imagine I saw it originally in the theatre when it was released in 1970. Seeing it today (and on the big screen) was quite a hoot. I hadn't realized that it was produced by Ross Hunter, you know, the Ross Hunter that produced:

Magnificent Obsession
All That Heaven Allows
Tammy and the Bachelor
Back Street
Imitation of Life
Pillow Talk
Flower Drum Song
Madame X
The Chalk Garden
Thoroughly Modern Millie

Born Martin Fuss (what a good name for a queen of yore) Ross spent time in Army intelligence during World War II. After a short acting career in B-pictures, he began his true career at Universal-International. Hunter, surely an aesthete, adored glamour and strove to bring this ideal to his films. "I gave audiences what they wanted - a chance to dream, to live vicariously, to see beautiful women, jewels, gorgeous clothes, melodrama."

Columnist Rona Barrett with Ross

with his Madame X

Shit-for-brains husband, Doris and Ross

I hadn't remembered what a soap opera Airport was, but then I hadn't realized Ross had produced this picture. Airport was simply all those 50s tearjerkers, slightly updated for the late 60s....with a big plane.

There was Dana Wynter, playing steel bitch, screaming at Burt Lancaster because she didn't give a fuck if a plane load of people died, she didn't want to go to some damn dinner without him! (Speaking of eating, Burt got to taste Jean Seberg's scrambled eggs later on.)

Jackie Bisset, stewardess (whose ample breast is flashed) dropped a bombshell on married Dean Martin, pilot....she was pregnant with his baby! Dean more or less told her to get an abortion, but by the time the film ends, he's done a 180. His wife, Barbara Hale knew he had affairs, but was comforted by the fact that he always came home to her. It was ice cold comfort when Dino came off the plane with the injured Bisset and never saw Barbara waiting and aching for him.
Then there was poor, poor Maureen Stapleton, living in a state of squalor only a set decorator could dream up. Her apartment appeared to have been underwater at one time....the wallpaper so stained and ripped. And only a blind man wishing ptomaine would choose to sup at the coffee shop/diner she worked at. All she had to give desperate Van Heflin were a few measly bills and coins. Van, who sat in his plane seat and clutched his attache case with the bomb inside, Van, who overacted more than anyone else. Poor Van, it was his last movie. And George Kennedy and his romantic scene? Don't ask....it was smarmy. And yes, you remember correctly, Helen Hayes won a supporting Oscar for her Ada Quonset. If you've never seen Jackie Bisset slap Helen Hayes, you haven't lived.

Because I was able to view this on a lovely large screen, I was able to really see the faces of the actors/actresses playing the passengers on the plane. I can't give you names (other than Marion Ross, uncredited) but y'all would know these folks. It really blew me away that so many familiar character people garnered spots in this cast. (You know how I love nameless character people!) I also learned that the location filming was done at the Minneapolis-St.Paul Airport (though referred to as "Lincoln" in the film). Filming was done at night since the airport was busy being an airport during the day, duh. Tons of local extras were needed to fill long shots, making the airport appear normal, bustling with people. From what I was told, chosen women were quite excited about all this, getting their hair done and donning their Sunday best to be "in the movies". Back in 1970, a believable customer was coiffed, dressed and ready for their close-up, unlike today where a usual traveling ensemble could easily find itself here.

Can you tell I enjoyed it? When it pops up on television, maybe you should watch it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yahrtzeit! Albert Dekker 1968

Not a new story,
but one that certainly bears repeating......

Albert Dekker, successful character actor was
found Sunday, May 5th, 1968 in the bathtub of his
North Normandie apartment in Hollywood.

"The 6 feet 3 inch, 240-pound Dekker was kneeling nude in the bathtub, a dirty hypodermic needle sticking out of each arm. A hangman's noose was around his neck but not tight enough to have strangled him. A scarf was tied over his eyes and something like a horse's bit was in his mouth. Fashioned from a rubber ball and metal wire, the bit had chain "reins" that were tightly tied behind his head. Two leather thongs were stretched between the leather belts that girded his neck and chest. A third belt, around his waist, was tied with a rope that stretched to his ankles, where it had been tied in some kind of lumber hitch. The end of the rope, which continued up his side, wrapped around his wrist several times and was held in Dekker's hand. Both wrists were clasped by a set of handcuffs. Written in lipstick, above two hypodermic punctures on his right buttock, was the word "whip" and drawings of the sun. Sun rays had also been drawn around his nipples. "Make me suck" was written on his thorax and "slave" and "cocksucker" on his chest. On his lower abdomen was drawn a vagina. He had apparently been dead since Friday and his awkward position had colored his lower body a deep blood purple. "This one has everything but a vampire bite," remarked a deputy coroner."

The last time he had been seen was on Thursday evening when he and his fiance, Geraldine Saunders attended the opening of Zero Mostel's new play, The Latent Heterosexual.

With a busy career, Dekker had appeared in over 100 motion pictures, most notably as the mad scientist who reduces humans to doll size in Dr.Cyclops. Gentlemen's Agreement, Suddenly Last Summer and Strange Cargo are just a few of his credits. He also had a prolific career on Broadway. The red scare of the fifties claimed him as a victim and he didn't work in film for many years, but found refuge on television. His final film appearance was in Peckinpah's, The Wild Bunch.
Many theories circulated as to what had truly happened in that bathroom at 1731 Normandie. Was it a suicide? A staged murder? Geraldine said he had large amounts of cash on hand, that he'd been in the process of purchasing a house in Encino Hills. She claimed he'd had $70,000, but no money was ever found. Dekker had chosen to rent this apartment because a friend managed the building. The "friend" vanished after Dekker's death. Amongst all the theories, it was famed LA coroner Thomas Noguchi that claimed Dekker was a victim of autoerotic asphyxia.

His death was ruled an accident.

This video was shot in Dekker's apartment.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Miz Lora ain't gonna be too happy wit you chile!

As I'm sure you know, TCM recently had it's very first film festival in Los Angeles. It's a pity I wasn't there. What follows is an excerpt of an interview that Robert Osborne had (on stage) with Juanita Moore after a screening of Imitation of Life. I just had to print this!

Osborne commented that Lana and her daughter became very close as the years went on. "Not that close," Moore countered dismissively.

Osborne: Her daughter would probably disagree with that.

Moore: Her daughter was tall....

Osborne: Still is....

Moore: ...and Lana was the opposite, y'know? She was so petite. I know that her daughter was very displeased with the way she looked, because we talked about it. She said she looked like a man and I said, "C'mon, you don't look like any man I know."

Osborne: She's a beautiful girl today.

Moore: She is?!

Osborne: Yes, she is. She was supposed to be with us today. She was with us this morning for the screening of The Bad and the Beautiful. She's beautiful, Cheryl Crane.

Moore: Oh! I'd like to see her. She's big and beautiful?

Osborne: No, she's just beautiful.

Moore: Not fat?

Osborne: No, she's tall and quite beautiful.

Moore: I wish Lana could have lived to see that.

Osborne: She did.

Moore: No, she didn't!

Osborne: I would never argue with you about anything.

Moore: I saw Lana three days before she died so I know she didn't live to see her daughter beautiful like that. I'm still living and I haven't seen her beautiful like that, though I hope to God she is.

Monday, May 3, 2010

To The Redgrave Family

More awful news. My condolences.