Friday, 29 August 2008


I love anyone who shares stuff. Nothing annoys me more than saving a delicious image from a Flickr photostream and having "spaceball.gif" appear in the Save box. It just seems so mean. I am an open source kinda gal. This is why I adore Orlando for sending me this link, not to mention the blogger who created it.

There is only one thing I hate to share - Wotsits.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Ramon Novarro

He is just GORGEOUS. And of course Orlando, my own Philip Marlowe has sent me links which I will investigate as soon as I get a spare moment.

Dr Macro of course
A piece about his good friend Pancho Barnes
A fan site, of course


OK, I've investigated Ramon and now I'm sad. He was a lovely man but all memories of his life are tainted by the manner of his death. Poor, dear Ramon.

Tallulah Bankhead - 10 Facts, 14 Photos, 10 Quotes

I knew nothing bout Tallulah except her name. I've never seen a movie with her in it. (She only made a handful of movies, found it boring and preferred the stage)
So why's she so famous?
A five minute google and I know why. Wow! I could spend years on the details of her life. But here is a brief glimpse because life is too short to live someone else's.

The following facts come from the best Tallulah site (the pictures are from all over the net)

She was the youngest member of the Algonquin Round Table.

Tallulah Bankhead was her real name. She was named after her paternal grandmother, who, in turn, was named after the town of Tallulah Falls in Georgia.

While living in London in the '20s Tallulah bought herself a Bentley, which she loved to drive. She wasn't that good with directions, however, and constantly found herself lost in the London streets. She would telephone a taxi-cab and pay the driver to drive to her destination while she followed behind in her car.

Tallulah as Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes

When Tallulah first met Garbo, the first thing she did was walk up to her and pull her eyelash. Garbo said "Ouch!" and Tallulah told her that she just wanted to see if they were real.

In 1936 she tested for the part of Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. She wanted the part desparately. Tallulah was heartbroken when, nearly two years later, Vivien Leigh won the role. She wrote in her autobiography, "I'll go to my grave convinced that I could have drawn the cheers of Longstreet and Beauregard and Robert E. Lee had I been permitted to wrestle with Rhett Butler".

In the late 40s Tallulah bought a Tudor-style country house in Bedford Village, New York. She named it "Windows" (it had 75 of them!) and spent a fortune decorating, re-modeling, landscaping and installing a huge swimming pool. Life was a constant party at Windows and Tallulah was able to run around in the nude as she liked. She adopted a menagerie of pets and people to share the house with her.

By the 1950s, the name "Tallulah" was so analogous with her that she took legal action when Prell shampoo used a jingle with her name in it for an advertisement. Tallulah was victorious and the company stopped using the ad.

Tallulah had a pet lion called Winston Churchill. She bought him at a circus while staying in Reno. Winston toured with Tallulah during The Second Mrs. Tanqueray and took curtain calls with her. She eventually gave him to the Bronx Zoo when his size and appetite became too much for her to handle.

Victory Red was the only shade of lipstick (manufactured by Elizabeth Arden) that Tallulah wore.

Tallulah Bankhead told a friend that her doctor had advised her to eat an apple every time she had the urge to drink. She arched an eyebrow and added, "But really, dahlings, sixty apples a day!" (from The Hollywood Reporter by Tichi Wilkerson)

And finally, a piece from The Observer by Chloe Diski:

"It would be a shame to whittle down silver-screen actress Tallulah Bankhead's vices to an unexceptional drink problem. She was an accomplished drinker, famed for being able to polish off a bottle of bourbon in under 30 minutes ... but in the same amount of time she could also plough through 100 Craven As, inhale a cloud of cocaine, while flirting the pants off any male or, more likely, female that she could see through her intoxicated haze. And she was probably doing all this in her preferred state of dress: stark naked. Bankhead stood out from her friends at New York's Algonquin round table and Hollywood's drinking elite because she revelled in debauchery: 'The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.' In 1968, aged 66, after uttering her last words, 'codeine, bourbon', she died in New York of pneumonia, caught by wandering nude around her dressing room in a Philadelphia theatre."

10 Quotes (allegedly)

I'm as pure as the driven slush.

If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.

Here's a rule I recommend: Never practice two vices at once.

It's the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.

Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.

If you really want to help the American theater, don't be an actress, dahling. Be an audience.

I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That's what I call a liberal education.

Say anything about me, dahling, as long as it isn't boring.

I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me.

Codeine...bourbon... (her last words)

Friday, 22 August 2008

A quick kiss because I'm busy

Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, you guess the movie...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Ask, and ye shall receive

Before I start sipping on my gin and tonic, here's a site I must look at later.

I came across this photo this morning and sent it to Orlando with a question mark.

Who is this dame?

Before the end of the day he had supplied me with the answer.


PS I found another online article this morning which recommends Robert Giroux's 1991 book, A Deed of Death: The Story Behind the Unsolved Murder of Hollywood Director William Desmond Taylor. The article's author, Robert K. Klepper, claims that the book provides "excellent, reputable information, with well documented research". Who knew I was such a ghoul!

George Hurrell (MGM)


At age 18, George Hurrell started out as a fine art painter, studying at the prestigious Art Institute in Chicago. In 1925, while still attending the Art Institute, the famous landscape painter Edgar Alwyn Payne invited Hurrell to Laguna Beach, California to be a part of the Laguna Art Colony.

George Hurrell painting a picture

In 1925, Hurrell also met Florence Leontine Lowe (Pancho) Barnes, who went on to become a highly accomplished aviator. Pancho and George became great friends. Three years later Hurrell photographed Pancho at home in Laguna Beach. She couldn’t believe how beautiful he made her look, and loved the photos.

Pancho Barnes

Ramon Novarro, a famous silent movie star at MGM, was one of Pancho’s best friends. With the transition to talking pictures, Novarro, who had a great operatic voice, was vacillating between staying in Hollywood or becoming a stage actor in Europe. Novarro wanted some dramatic photographs for his stage pursuits and Pancho recommended Hurrell. Novarro had a series of photographs taken by George Hurrell at Pancho’s homes in Pasadena and Laguna Beach, including one dressed as Percival, standing next to Pancho Barnes’ horse.

When Pancho saw the photograph, she exclaimed: “If George Hurrell can make my horse look as beautiful as the most handsome man in America, then everyone should be using George Hurrell as their photographer.”

Novarro soon introduced George to Norma Shearer. Norma was married to Irving Thalberg , the head of MGM Studios. MGM was casting for an upcoming movie, “The Divorcee” and Norma wanted the role. Irving Thalberg couldn’t see his “angelic” wife playing the part of some vampy divorcee. Shearer went to Hurrell and said “make me a vamp”. Hurrell did just that, and created the sultry images that won Norma the role.

Thalberg and Shearer were so impressed with Hurrell's work that he was hired as head of the MGM portrait gallery in 1930.

Hurrell in the studioFor the next two years, Hurrell photographed every star at M-G-M, from Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and Greta Garbo to Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler. His work set a new standard for Hollywood portraits. It even inspired a new name for the genre - glamour photography.

After a disagreement with M-G-M publicity head Howard Strickling, Hurrell left to set up his own studio on Sunset Boulevard. The stars flocked to Hurrell for portraits.

It was the movies that remained Hurrell's first love. After six years, he moved to Warner Bros., helping build the careers of such stars as Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn and James Cagney. Hurrell moved to Columbia, where he shaped Rita Hayworth's image.

During WW2 after he served in with the First Motion Picture Unit of the U.S. Army Air Force, he shot training films and photographed generals at the Pentagon. After the war, Hurrell returned to Hollywood, but soon found glamour photography had fallen out of fashion. He relocated to New York and continued shooting advertising and fashion layouts through the 50's.

The master in FRONT of the camera!In 1952, Hurrell returned to Hollywood and started a television production company with his wife, Phyllis. It was located on the Disney lot. After two years, he returned to New York. He settled in Southern California permanently in 1956, eventually moving back into the film industry as a unit still man.

Beginning in 1965 with an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern-art his work has been showcased at museums throughout the world. One of the first books published "The Hurrell Style" by John Day & Company, in 1976, was followed by other commemorative books and special-edition prints of his work. It was during these years that he shot stars like Liza Minelli, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford. Even after his retirement in 1976, he continued to shoot portraits, adding to his portfolio such representatives of the new Hollywood as Sharon Stone, Brooke Shields and John Travolta.

Among his last assignments were photographing Warren Beatty and Annette Benning for Bugsy, Natalie Cole for the best-selling "Unforgettable" album and a fashion layout with Jennifer Flavin, his last photographic subject.

George Hurrell died of cancer in 1992.

You can see more Hollywood Hurrell portraits in my teeny Flicker set. You'd find much more by just googling! And for more information try this website set up by his son.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Studio Photographers

Norma Shearer by Hurrell

I found an interesting glimpse into studio life from a photographer's point of view in the introduction to Hollywood Glamor Portraits by John Kobal.

“…a major studio like Paramount had only two men in charge – Eugene Robert Richee in the No. 1 Gallery and William Walling in No. 2. (It was the same at the other studios.) The bulk of the Paramount portraits came from these two, who did almost everything for the sittings except hang the drapes. Walling estimated that he averaged about 65 portraits a day, six days a week, for the first three years. Sittings would be arranged for any time the stars had free between films; or after a day on the set they would appear at 6.00 at the gallery for portrait sessions that would continue until there were enough good shots.

Marlene by William Walling

“The value of the stills photographers to their employers lay in their ability to make people want to see the star, by creating a photograph equivalent of the accumulative impact of the whole movie. It was the Harlow of Hurrell’s photographs you sought in the films, and her close-up, when it came in the plot took a lot of its lighting ideas from the Hurrell original. It was, as a matter of fact, quite common for a stills photographer of Hurrell’s stature to be brought out to the set to assist in lighting the close-ups.

Harlow by Hurrell

"There were few directors as knowledgeable or as consummately skilled in achieving the same results as the gallery photographer. Josef von Sternberg was, of course, the outstanding exception. No one ever understood the Dietrich face as he did, and the best portraits of her were those taken on the set by the publicity photographer on stand-by, employing Sternberg’s lighting set-up and pose. But the exception proved the rule; most directors and cameramen would have been delighted to achieve on film the look of a Hurrell, Bull or Bachrach. Special film images, like the one in The Spiral Staircase when one sees on the screen a close-up of the eye of the murderer in whose pupil is reflected the victim-to-be, were also done in the gallery, this particular one by Ernest Bachrach.

“Among the problems of the gallery photographers were how to deal with the stars whose image they were selling – how to liven up weary, bored or unwilling actors. Not all of them enjoyed being photographed as Crawford did. Hurrell said “She believed in the star thing, and everything that went with it. She could make artificial poses seem so real, going on and on loving it. She’d set aside a whole day, changing into maybe twenty different gowns, hairdos, make-up, everything. I probably shot more stills of her than anyone else. Let her stand stiff and aristocratic and she’d be off.”

Joan Crawford by Laszlo Willinger

"Others, like Gary Cooper and Bing Crosby, were lethargic; John Barrymore and W. C. Fields positively loathed the process. The photographers had to deal with all of them.

Gary Cooper by Clarence Sinclair Bull

"Not only great stars, already formed, came to the galleries, but also aspiring actors and actresses who did not as yet have a public image which the studios could sell. Stills would serve as a cheap screen test, capturing them in every way, every mood, costume, setting until the face clicked. The studio heads would then decide on the basis of these photographs whether a screen test was worthwhile.

Lana Turner by Madison Lacy

"The gallery photographers answered to the publicity and advertising departments. Publicity wanted a basic head shot against a flat background that would reproduce well in the cheapest pulp magazines and in newspapers. Art studies were done for fan magazines…”

Clara Bow by E. R. Richee

Friday, 15 August 2008

Today's Movie Kiss

There are so many completely different things I want to do today that I shall be brief here. First I shall tell you of the Gary Cooper site Orlando found - not the slickest site on the web but the photo page is rightly called "photobliss"...
...and then I shall leave you with a kiss which will be my way of saying "Goodbye Gary Cooper, hello Cary Grant!"

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

More Distracted Yet

First Orlando sends me a gorgeous photo of Gary Cooper from his Hollywoodland collection, then I read a post about The Great Man in my new fave blog by Sheila O'Malley, which send me scurrying over to YouTube to check out his Big Break Movie.

The film's called Wings and won an Oscar for best picture the first year of the Academy Awards, 1927.

Sheila tells us "In Wings Cooper had only one major scene. "I played the veteran flyer," he explained. "Dick and Buddy were cadets. The camera picked me up munching on a chocolate bar in their tent. I kinda salute, throw the half-eaten candy aside, and take off for some test flying. I'm killed, but all you see is the shadow of my plane. Then the camera focuses on the unfinished chocolate. I always give credit to Arlen and Rogers for their swell reaction to my death. They made me a hero."" If you want the rest of the story about how Clara Bow, Cooper's current lover (apparently, he had a few), landed him the role you can read it in the rest of Sheila's post.

I was startled to see it was a silent movie. It started me thinking about technology moving fast - people at the beginning of the last century must have had the same buzz of excitement as we feel now as media moved from silent to talkies to colour and then TV. Imagine seeing movies in your own living room for the first time...I'll bet it felt every bit as exciting as taking your iphone out of your pocket and watching your favourite TV show while waiting in line...
Enough musing.


"The general consensus seems to be that I don't act at all. " Gary Cooper

I think I might start giving you a new movie kiss every day :)


In Sergeant York


I'm getting distracted from my "Photographers" project. I totally blame Orlando. This morning my inbox was stuffed with these gorgeous photos. Thank you, dear Marlowe. I just had to share! Methinks I will be updating my Flickr sets soon...

Does anyone know who this woman is?

Orlando has found this site devoted to Cooper. I feel I must share...the photo page is heaven!