Category Archives: Hollywood Heavyweights

Things to do in Beverly Hills P2!

Either before or after your visit to they Paley Center for Media you need to put this address into your GPS: 516 Walden Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90210…..now be prepared to be amazed, a real, live, witch house *cues evil witchy laugh and thunder sound effects*

I give you……the Spadena House!

This storybook style house was built in 1921 was originally used as offices and dressing rooms for Irvin Willat’s film studio in Culver City.  In 1934 it was moved to its current location and converted to a private home.  Unfortunately, it is not open to the public or available for tours, *cues crowd booing*, but it’s really fun to see in person and enjoy all of the detail that is put into this property.  Obviously being in Beverly Hills there are strict rules on lawn maintenance but this house has the most amazing landscaping to give the already cool house the perfect accent. 

If you ever get a chance to check it out, please share your pictures or tell me what you think!

 


James Cagney….The Original Gangster

James Cagney….the original gangster

James Cagney, aka The Professional Againster, born 1899 in New York City, New York. Always a tough guy ready to hold his ground while throwing one liners to the headline gal.

Some Cagney facts:  According to his authorized biography, Cagney, although of Irish and Norwegian extraction, could speak Yiddish since he had grown up in a heavily Jewish area in New York. He used to converse in Yiddish with Jewish performers. 

Though most Cagney imitators use the line “You dirty rat!”, Cagney never actually said it in any of his films.

According to James Cagney‘s autobiography Cagney By Cagney, (Published by Doubleday and Company Inc 1976, and ghost written by show biz biographer Jack McCabe), a Mafia plan to murder Cagney by dropping a several hundred pound klieg light on top of him was stopped at the insistence of George Raft. Cagney at that time was president of the Screen Actors Guild, and was determined not to let the mob infiltrate the industry. Raft used his many mob connections to cancel the hit.

Cagney was known for several of his gangster films like City for Conquest, “G” Men, White Heat, and Each Dawn I Die.

Now to pick a movie suggestion for you.  I could say for your first film watch Public Enemy (1931) so you can really get a feel for what he is capable.  That and most out there have seen remakes of this film, so you will recognize the story line.

The next film I would suggest is Great Guy (1936)

Cagney is the New York Department of Weights and Measures vs. a systematic effort to cheat the public by giving them less product than they pay for…organized by crooked city alderman Marty Cavanaugh, who put the last chief deputy inspector in the hospital. The new man, pugnacious Johnny Cave, steps on the toes of influential merchants and gets increasing pressure, both political and strong-arm, to desist.

If you ever check these movies out or have others that are favorites of yours, let me know!


Hollywood History

When Spanish explorers first entered the area now known as Hollywood, Native Americans were living in the canyons of the Santa Monica  Mountains. Before long, the Indians had been moved to missions and the land which Hollywood now occupies was divided in two by the Spanish Government. Acreage to the west became part of Rancho La Brea and settlements to the  East became Rancho Los Feliz.

By the 1870s an agricultural community flourished in  the area and crops ranging from hay and grain to  subtropical bananas and pineapples were thriving. During the 1880s, the Ranchos were sub-divided. In 1886, H. H.Wilcox bought an area of Rancho La Brea that his wife then christened “Hollywood.” Within a few years, Wilcox had devised a grid plan for his new  community, paved Prospect Avenue (now Hollywood  Boulevard) for his main street and was selling large  residential lots to wealthy Midwesterners looking to build homes so they could “winter in California.”

Prospect Avenue soon became a prestigious residential street populated with large Queen Anne, Victorian, and Mission Revival houses. Mrs. Daeida Wilcox raised funds to build churches, schools and a library and Hollywood quickly became a complete and prosperous community. This location of prime real estate was later named “Hollywoodland” in 1923.

In 1911, the Nestor Company opened Hollywood’s first film studio in an old tavern on the corner of Sunset and Gower. Not long thereafter Cecil B. DeMille and D. W.  Griffith began making movies in the area drawn to the community for its open space and moderate climate.

The Hollywood sign soon became an American cultural icon of movie stars and film location so it became an official landmark and the “land” was dropped in 1949.

Hollywood tidbits and facts:

In 1906, a streetcar line was constructed in the Hollywood district down the middle of “Sandy Road”. This lane was known as the “Rose City Line”. The establishment of the streetcar route facilitated the growth of the suburb of Hollywood.

In 1923, Harry Chandler, a real estate agent and investor built the famous Hollywood Sign to advertise the area “Hollywoodland”. The total expense for this advertisement was $21,000. Initially, it was built to last only for eighteen months. However, as of today, the Hollywood Sign has lasted for eighty years.

In 1939, four thousand twenty-watt bulbs were put to illuminate the signboard and a caretaker was appointed to maintain the same. The part of land, which included the “Hollywood” sign, was sold to the city of LA.

The alphabets of the signboard began to fall down. To restore the same, in 1978 an auction of the alphabets was held by Hugh Hefner, founder of the magazine “Playboy”. This auction was held for a period of three months. Alice Cooper, American rock singer, sponsored the alphabet “O”. Gene Autry and Paul Williams sponsored the alphabets “L” and “W” respectively.

In 1995, a trust known as “Hollywood Sign Trust” was set up to maintain the Hollywood sign.

 Mary Pickford

Hollywood is just as interesting to visit today and the city’s culture and crazy crowds makes for interesting people watching.


I looooove Lucy!!!!

I looooooove Lucy!!!!

When I was a young child something that I shared with my mother and grandmother is that we loved to watch I love Lucy.  She was a wild woman who would do anything to make her audience laugh.  As an adult I can honestly say Lucy’s character was very catty, a tad bitchy, especially to her good friend Ethel, but still a good wife and mother.  I still enjoy watching I Love Lucy episodes to this day with my daughter!

Lucille Ball was quite the actress and comedian well outside of her part in the I Love Lucy show.  Lucille Desiree Ball was born on April 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York.  Her career started in 1933 when she appeared in The Bowery and 28 other films by 1936 including Moulin Rouge and The Three Musketeers before her name started to appear in the credits.  Not many people know but Lucille Ball was one of the original Follies Girls aka Ziegfeld Follies.  They were in a series of Broadway shows but were known for the many beautiful girls in very risqué costumes!

Check this out, what a lineup!!

I love Lucy most when she is playing something that is outside of her I love Lucy shows.  She is a great actress and I adore her opposite Bob Hope.

I do have a movie suggestion, a must see of early Lucille Ball films and that would be “Having a Wonderful Time” (1938) starting Ginger Rogers.  Lucy plays a college crazy woman called, “screwball”.  It’s quit fitting for Lucy and she is her usual wild self.  I also want to add that although she is known for her wild red hair, she has also been a blonde and a brunette.

Lucy is obviously beautiful and known for her comedy, but I have seen her in a serious roll, much later in her career, which left me speechless.  She was so incredibly talented and diverse.  She stared in a TV movie in 1985 called Stone Pillow.  In this movie she plays a homeless woman who befriends a young social worker.  Another Lucy must see.

Stone Pillow (1985) Poster

I hope you enjoyed my tribute to Lucille Ball!


Happy Birthday Charles Chaplin

Happy Birthday Charles Chaplin

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Where does one begin when trying to sum up Charlie Chaplin’s career?

Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin was born on this day, April 16, 1889 in London, England.

Charlie Chaplin, considered (and for good reason) to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood and film.  Charlie Chaplin was an actor, comedian, director, producer, writer, musician and music composer whose work in motion pictures spanned from 1914 until 1967.

He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular “Little Tramp” character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk.

Here is an interesting trivia fact that I had no clue about: “On March 3, 1978, his dead body was stolen from the Corsier-Sur-Vevey cemetery. It took until 18 May when the police found it.” – OH MY  I know silent films aren’t for everyone but if you ever want to give it a shot, you will not be let down with Mr. Chaplin.  He is a great comedian who can make you laugh without saying a word, and that’s saying something.

Top 5 Charlie Chaplin movies I suggest:

1: The Great Dictator (1940)

2: The Gold Rush (1925)

3: The Circus (1928)

4: The Kid (1921)

5: Modern Times (1936)

If you are in the Los Angeles area, I would suggest looking up the Egyptian Theatre for silent film screenings as I have seen first hand Chaplin films on original 8mm along with commentary.  It was a fabulous experience and definitely a great way to view the classics!


Tribute to James “Jimmy” Stewart

Tribute to James “Jimmy” Stewart

James Stewart, what a wonderful actor he was.

He mastered innocence in all of his characters and made you fall in love with him each time.  He was funny and handsome and accomplished so much in his long career.  I have seen many of his films and would have recommended prior to Easter a film that is one of my favorites from him.

Harvey (1950)

Elwood P. Dowd is a mild-mannered, friendly  man, who has an invisible friend resembling a 6-foot rabbit.  This movie is a crackup when he confuses everyone around him and the typical Jimmy Stewart antics follow suit.

Now everyone, even none classic film lovers knows Jimmy Stewart for the movie, “Its a Wonderful Life”. There is so much more to this actor that I suggest digging deeper into his career.  He is a fun actor to follow as his movies allow him to shine and this always involved some sort of comedy and a little crazy!

Another fun movie of his that I would suggest is:

Pot O’ Gold (1941)

Jimmy, the owner of a failed music shop, goes to work with his uncle, the owner of a food factory. Before he gets there, he befriends an Irish family who happens to be his uncle’s worst enemy because of their love for music and in-house band who constantly practices. Soon, Jimmy finds himself trying to help the band by getting them gigs and trying to reconcile the family with his uncle, an avid music-hater, all while winning the heart of the beautiful Molly! Written by  Nathan Will Sheets

Please share any of your favorite James Stewart movies or let me know if you watch these!


Joan Crawford…Need I say more?

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford is one of my favorite actresses of all time.  She has played many different types of roles but always sucks you into her character.  If you were supposed to love her, you did, if you were supposed to hate her and cringe at her catty ways, you did.  I was going to try and pick my favorite Joan Crawford movie but I just couldn’t.  I love early Joan and her barely there eyebrows.  There is something about early cinema that give me chills and I watch in nostalgic awe the fashions and mind states of the characters involved.  To list a few of early Joan Crawford movies I think should be on everyone’s cinema bucket list I would have to say the following in no particular order as I can’t chose which I like more!

Rain (1932)

Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)

Grand Hotel (1932)

The Women (1939) an absolute must if you are going through a breakup.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

and of course Whatever happened to Baby Jane (1962)

All can be found on the IMDB link provided.  She stared in plenty of other movies and my Joan journey still continues, feel free to suggest your own Joan favorite!


The Hollywood Museum

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The Hollywood Museum

I went for the first time on Sunday and was amazed by the collection they had.  The main exhibit right now is Loretta Young, she was amazingly talented and beautiful.  I definitely suggest going especially if you are into vintage ads and the beginnings of Max Factor and the progression of makeup in film.