Tag Archives: Vintage Hollywood

Stunning Zorita……

Adopted by strict Methodist parents as a child, she was discovered via a beauty pageant and became a burlesque artist in 1935. Her specialties were a twenty minute dance with two boa constrictors, `Elmer’ and `Oscar’, and her `Dance of the Wandering Hands’. It was only in 1954 that she stopped stripping, to run a number of different nightclubs in the New York and Miami areas. Although she taught younger girls routines, she refused to let go the secrets of her famous snake dance.

Zorita was  ‘Queen of the flashers,’  meaning that when the cops were not in attendence looking for a reason to shut it down, the audience would see alot more than the PoPo would. Zorita liked women more than men and never married but did date certain men and used them for all they were worth. She became very famous in the world of burlesque and by 1954 had retired from stripping while owning her own burlesques nightclubs in the New York and Miami areas. She appeared intermittently in films throughout her career. In 1974 she retired to Florida, where she bred Persian cats.

 

 


The Knickerbocker Hotel- Tidbits and Facts on an old Hollywood landmark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knickerbocker_Hotel_%28Los_Angeles%29

Hotel Knickerbocker served as a temporary home to Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Rudolph Valentino, Three Stooges, Francis Farmer and some still live there in spirit.

The Renaissance Revival bar was a popular spot for celebrities. Silent screen star Rudolph Valentino was known to ride his horse down from the hills and dance the tango to the live music in this bar. Marilyn Monroe used to sneak through the kitchen in order to meet up with Joe Dimaggio.

When making movies, Elvis Presley liked to stay in Suite 1016. In fact, the song “Heartbreak Hotel” was written about the Knickerbocker by Hoyt Axton’s mother. Some of his publicity shots were taken inside the hotel.

Frances Farmer, who had a brilliant career in the 1930s and 1940s, turned to alcohol and drugs. She was arrested at the Knickerbocker after getting into a fight and dragged out half-naked. She was taken to a sanitarium where she was abused and eventually given a lobotomy. (Actual pic below of the arrest!)

Famous film director D.W. Griffith died of a stroke in 1948. He was living on the 10th floor and collapsed in the lobby under the art deco chandelier. He had turned to alcohol and Hollywood disowned him. Later, he was remembered as a brilliant director and, in 1999, a plaque honoring Griffith was placed in the lobby at the Knickerbocker.

Irene Gibbons, who designed costumes for famous actresses such as Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich, committed suicide at the Knickerbocker in 1962. She went into a deep depression after the death of actor Gary Cooper, whom she loved.

Bess Houdini, widow of Harry Houdini, conducted annual séances on Halloween night on the rooftop of the Knickerbocker. She did this for 10 years until 1936. During the first séance, thunder and lightning began. It was believed that this storm was limited to the top of the hotel and was not seen anywhere else in the Hollywood.

“The Hollywood Knickerbocker Apartments, formerly the Knickerbocker Hotel, is a senior home located at 1714 Ivar Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Built in 1925 by E.M. Frasier in Spanish Colonial Revival style, the historic hotel catered to the region’s nascent film industry, and is the site for some of Hollywood’s most famous dramatic moments. Rudolf Valentino was a regular at the bar before his death in 1926.”


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.


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.