Musical Monday: Dames (1934)


It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Dames (1934) – Musical #225

dames poster

Warner Brothers

Ray Enright, Busby Berkeley

Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Hugh Herbert, Zasu Pitts, Guy Kibbee

Eccentric cousin Ezra Ounce (Herbert) decides to divide up his fortune of $10 million before he dies. Part of this will go to his cousin Mathilda and her husband. However, Ezra hates actors and their daughter is looking at going into show business.

-Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell’s fourth film together.
-Ruby Keeler’s last film with Busby Berkely.

Notable Songs:
-Dames performed by Dick Powell
-I Only Have Eyes for You performed by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler
-Try to See It My Way performed by Dick Powell
-The Girl at the Ironing Board performed by Joan Blondell

Ruby Keeler dancing in "Dames."

Ruby Keeler dancing in “Dames.”

Publicity photo of Dick Powell and several "Dames."

Publicity photo of Dick Powell and several “Dames.”

-The elaborate “Only Have Eyes for You” number that features several large shots and blown up pictures of Ruby Keeler. The best part is when Keeler rises up from below the stage through a trap door, that happens to be in the pupil of her eye.



Joan Blondell causing trouble for Guy Kibbee in “Dames.”

My review:
While “42nd Street” and “Footlight Parade” are my top two favorite Busby Berkeley directed films starring Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell (one of seven), “Dames” comes in at a close third.
Like the other two, “Dames” has it all: An excellent cast, breathtaking Berkeley directed musical numbers, toe tapping songs, humor and it’s very pre-code. In fact, I find “Dames” to be pretty hilarious.
An great example of humor and pre-code in “Dames” is when Guy Kibbee finds Joan Blondell stowing away in his bed on a train. Blondell isn’t wearing pajamas and Kibbee is fearful of a scandal that would make him lose the millions of dollars his very moral cousin has agreed to leave him. When Kibbee orders her to leave, she says “Why? I don’t snore.”
More humor comes when cousins Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell are in love, but we learn Powell is Keeler’s 13th cousin.
The film’s plot mainly revolves around Cousin Ezra’s (Herbert) moral code and hating theater people. This is why Ezra has disowned his relative Jimmy (Powell), because he is in the theater and trying to put on a show. As long as his family members Horace (Kibbee), Mathilda (Pitts) and Barbara (Keeler), don’t interact with Jimmy, they will get $6 million. However, Barbara is in love with Jimmy and also plans to audition to for his show.
Further complications arise when Mabel (Blondell) plans to blackmail Horace for money, know he would lose the $6 million if Ezra knew of their run in on the train.
Joan Blondell is wonderful in this film, as she is with everything else. We learn in these musicals that she really lacks the pipes to carry a tune, but her character and humor make up for it.
The “Only Have Eyes for You” number is really outstanding. it’s really a solid 5 minute homage to Ruby Keeler, complete with people dancing with large cut outs of her face and her face becoming the dance floor.
As far as Busby Berkeley, pre-code musicals go, “Dames” is the tops. Add it to your list of “must sees.”


Some Busby Berkeley shots: 

dames4 dames5 dames busby dames3 dames2 Dames1

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Musical Monday: Blues in the Night (1941)


It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

Poster - Blues in the Night_01This week’s musical:
“Blues in the Night” (1941)– Musical #191

Warner Brothers

Anatole Litvak

Priscilla Lane, Jack Carson, Richard Whorf, Lloyd Nolan, Elia Kazan, Billy Halop, Betty Field, Wallace Ford, Joyce Compton, Howard Da Silva, Faith Domergue (uncredited), Faye Emerson (uncredited), William Hopper (uncredited)

Jigger (Whorf), Leo (Carson), Peppi (Halop), Nickie (Kazan), and Pete (Whitney) have formed a jazz band and want to take it on the road. With Leo’s wife, “Character” (Lane) as the lead singer, the group rides the rails and hitchhikes to each gig. Character and Leo’s marriage is unstable, as he gambles a great deal, and she’s afraid to tell him when she gets pregnant, because she knows he doesn’t want to be tied down. The group runs into escaped convict Del Davis (Nolan) who steals their money and then offers them a job at a New Jersey road house since they didn’t turn him over to the police. The road house is a dump but they eventually build it into a swinging establishment. Even with more steady work, their problems haven’t ended. Kay Grant (Field) first has her sites set on Leo and then turns to Whorf, causing him to eventually have a nervous breakdown.

-Harold Arlen (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics) were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Best Original song, “Blues in the Night”
-Faith Domergue first role in a film as an uncredited jitterbug dancer.
-Richard Whorf’s role of Jigger was offered to both James Cagney and John Garfield, according to Anatole Litvak: The Life and Films
By Michelangelo Capua
-The original title of the film was first “Hot Nocturne” and then “New Orleans Blues,” according to Anatole Litvak: The Life and Films
By Michelangelo Capua


Notable Songs:
-Blues in the Night performed several times throughout the film
-Hang on to Your Lids, Kids performed by Priscilla Lane
-Says Who? Says You, Says I
-This Time the Dream’s on Me performed by Priscilla Lane

-Blues in the Night performed in the jail
-The crazy montage of when Richard Whorf has a break down

My review:

Betty Field in "Blues in the Night"

Betty Field in “Blues in the Night”

While categorized as a musical, “Blue in the Night” is an interesting blend of crime, noir and music. This isn’t your typical upbeat musical and Priscilla Lane isn’t plucky and carefree.
The film depicts the struggles of an up and coming jazz band and the dynamics of an unstable marriage. Priscilla Lane and Jack Carson are married in the film, but it’s clear that while he married her, he really doesn’t want to be tied down and is constantly gambling and carousing. When Priscilla Lane’s character gets pregnant, she is afraid to tell her husband because it would ruin his care free lifestlye and she fears he would leave her.
The movie has crime and gangster film elements as well when the band gets involved with Lloyd Nolan, a gangster who is hiding out, and his ex-moll, played by Betty Field who has her eyes on most of the men in the band.
Added bonus is that you get to hear Johnny Mercer’s “Blues in the Night” a few times throughout the film.
If you’re looking for a rollicking musical, “Blues in the Night” isn’t really for you.
But if you are looking for a characteristic brooding Warner Brothers film, this could be for you.

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Musical Monday: The Cool Ones (1967)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

poster2This week’s musical:
“The Cool Ones” (1967)– Musical #531

Paramount Pictures

Gene Nelson

Roddy McDowall, Debbie Watson, Phil Harris, Gil Peterson, Richard Harris, Nita Talbot, Glen Campbell, Teri Garr (uncredited)
Themselves: Mrs. Miller, The Bantams, The Leaves, T.J. and The Fourmations, The Forté Four

Hallie Rogers (Watson), who dances as a go-go dancer on a variety show, will stop at nothing to become a pop star. During one show, she starts wildly dancing and grabs the microphone from the singer–who happens to be Glen Campbell–and starts singing. Hallie obviously gets fired, but learns that the wild dance she did on stage is now all the rage called “The Trantrum.” Hallie teams up with faded pop singer Cliff Donner (Peterson) to create a boy/girl performing duo. Eccentric millionaire music promoter Tony Krum (McDowall) works to make the two famous as a romantic, singing couple. The only problem is Cliff really is in love with Hallie but she is too focused on her fame to give it up for love.

-Former Warner Brothers actor and dancer Gene Nelson directed this film.
-Roddy McDowall’s character is apparently based on record producer Phil Spector.
-Singer Mrs. Miller’s only film appearance.
-Choreographed by Toni Basil.

Roddy McDowall in "The Cool Ones"

Roddy McDowall in “The Cool Ones”

Notable Songs:
-It’s Magic performed by Mrs. Miller
-Have a Tantrum performed by Gil Peterson and Debbie Watson
-The Cool Ones performed by Gil Peterson and Debbie Watson
-Where Did I Go Wrong performed by Roddy McDowall

My review:
New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote “I venture to guess this will disgust even the kids” in his May 11, 1967, review of “The Cool Ones.”

Crowther most likely hit the nail on the head. “The Cool Ones” has earned a place on my list of the worst movies that I have ever seen. But then at the same time, it’s so bad you can’t look away and have to watch the whole movie.

The stupidity of this movie isn’t necessarily the story line or even the cast. For me, it’s the leading lady: Debbie Watson. Her lines and songs are all shouted and she’s simply annoying. “The Cool Ones” isn’t her first offense either. Ms. Watson was equally as bad in her role as Tammy in the last of the “Tammy” film series, “Tammy and the Millionaire” (1967).

Debbie Watson and Gil Peterson in "The Cool Ones"

Debbie Watson and Gil Peterson in “The Cool Ones”

Watson is so overly dramatic that I can’t even be sympathetic with her character, who is the main focus of the film. For example, when she first asks Cliff if he will team up with her, he says “I’ll think about it,” and she flips her lid and pushes him in the pool.

Roddy McDowall’s character is probably the high spot of the film as the over-the-top, kooky record producer. Though McDowall doesn’t appear until halfway through the film. We even get to hear McDowall sing a bit. It’s also fun to see Phil Harris–husband of actress Alice Faye and frequent Disney character voice–though his character isn’t the most friendly.
You also get to see singer Mrs. Miller in her only film appearance.

It’s almost a shame that this teen, rock-n-roll comedy is so terrible. It’s very colorful and very late-1960s. I didn’t go to this thinking it would be “West Side Story” but at least it would be on the same level of fun as an Elvis movie.

Perhaps “The Cool Ones” wouldn’t have been as painful if there has been a different lead actress. Maybe a Shelley Fabares or Nancy Sinatra would have been better.
Regardless, there is nothing “cool” about “The Cool Ones.”

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Musical Monday: Small Town Girl (1953)


It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

b70-14305This week’s musical:
“Small Town Girl” (1953)– Musical #76


László Kardos

Jane Powell, Farley Granger, Ann Miller, Fay Wray, Billie Burke, S.Z. Sakall, Bobby Van, Robert Keith, Robert Hyatt, Chill Wills (uncredited)
Themselves: Nat King Cole

Judge Kimbell (Keith) throws big city hot shot Rick Livingston (Granger) in jail for going 80 miles per mile in a small town with his Broadway girlfriend Lisa Bellmount (Miller). The judge’s daughter Cindy (Powell) ends up falling for Rick.

-Nicholas Brodszky and Leo Robin were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for the song “My Flaming Heart.”
-Dances choreographed by Busby Berkeley.
-Ann Miller’s “I’ve Gotta Heart That Beat” performance has 86 instruments up through the floor and the musicians are hidden beneath the floor, according to The Rough Guide to Film Musicals by David Parkinson
-Musical director is André Previn.
-Costumes by Helen Rose.

-Nat King Cole’s appearance and performance
-Ann Miller’s “I’ve Gotta Hear that Beat” number
-Bobby Van’s exhausting 3 minute jump through town.

Notable Songs:
-I’ve Gotta Hear that Beat performed by Ann Miller tap dancing and hands coming out of the floor playing drums and holding saxophones, clarinets and violins.
-My Flaming Heart performed by Nat King Cole

My review:
“Small Town Girl” is a fun, colorful musical with an outstand cast. However, of Jane Powell’s MGM films, this is not her best. The storyline isn’t a bad one and it has some cute, humorous moments, but I prefer other Powell films such as “Luxury Liner” and “Holiday in Mexico.”

Farley Granger plays the arrogant, rich playboy well but is a poor romantic match for Powell.

While Jane Powell is known for her beautiful, operatic voice, she doesn’t have many notable songs or musical numbers. The real stand out musical numbers come from the supporting cast of Ann Miller, Bobby Van and an appearance from singer Nat King Cole as himself.

Ann Miller’s Busby Berkeley choreographed “Gotta Hear That Beat that Beat” is a visually amazing piece. The number is complete with Miller’s high speed tap dancing feet and instruments being played by bodiless hands.

A second impressive, though exhausting, number is Bobby Van jumping through his small town. While this is quite a feat, it also makes my knees hurt just watching him bound down the street, shaking hands and jumping across hedges.

Also, while Van’s jumping is interesting, his character is fairly annoying.

For Nat King Cole fans, you also have the opportunity to see the velvet voice singer during a nightclub scene, which is a real treat.

The film has a terrific supporting supporting cast with Robert Keith and Fay Wray as Powell’s parents, Billie Burke as Farley Granger’s mother, and S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall as Van’s father. You also get the comical Chill Wills as the jailer.

Once big stars of the 1930s Burke and Wray seem wasted in this film as they both have less than 10 or 15 minutes of screen time.

For me, Robert Keith and Cuddles Sakall provided the most comedic entertainment and were honestly my favorite part of this film.

While I enjoy “Small Town Girl,” but I wouldn’t suggest it as a “must see,” unless you are a huge fan of any of the stars in this movie.

Publicity photo of Farley Granger, Jane Powell and Bobby Van for "Small Town Girl."

Publicity photo of Farley Granger, Jane Powell and Bobby Van for “Small Town Girl.”

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Review: Bride of Boogedy (1987)


A year after “Mr. Boogedy” (1986) aired, the Wonderful World of Disney aired its 1987 sequel, “Bride of Boogedy.”

In the sequel, the Davis family is now comfortably settled at their newly renovated in Lucifer Home and happily rid of the ghost Mr. Boogedy for a year.

The children in Mr. Lynch's store, and Mr. Lynch being grumpy.

The children in Mr. Lynch’s store, and Mr. Lynch being grumpy.

The family is involved and well liked in the town now, much to the chagrin of shop owner Tom Lynch (Eugene Levy). Eloise and Carl Davis (Mimi Kennedy and Richard Masur) are preparing to open their Gag City store downtown, and Carl Davis was named mayor of the town’s festival. This is a position usually held by Mr. Lynch, causing Mr. Lynch wanting the Davis family to leave town.

One night while walking home from babysitting, their daughter Jennifer (Tammy Lauren) is spooked in the woods by someone in a hat and cloak telling her to get out of his house. Believing that Mr. Boogedy is back, Jennifer runs home screaming.

Jennifer’s brothers Aurie (Joshua Rudoy) and Corwin (David Faustino) make fun of her and her parents assure her that Mr. Boogedy is gone. However, Aurie and Corwin both have a nightmare the same night of visiting Mr. Boogedy at his grave and him breaking out of his statue.

Possessed Carleton floating down the hall.

Possessed Carleton floating down the hall.

The children visit Mr. Boogedy’s grave and meet gravedigger Lazarus (Vincent Schiavelli). The family also meets a swamie (Karen Kondazian) who tells them that they will see Mr. Boogedy again. During a séance to make the children believe Mr. Boogedy is never coming back, they unknowingly awaken the ghost and he returns. Mr. Boogedy possesses Carl so he can get his magic cloak and come back to life. His family is able to save him but then Mr. Lynch steals the cloak, believing it will make him as popular as Carleton.

Mr. Boogedy and possessed Eloise, dressed as Maid Marion.

Mr. Boogedy and possessed Eloise, dressed as Maid Marion.

Mr. Lynch, possessed by Mr. Boogedy, gives him the cloak and Mr. Boogedy appears at the town festival. Eloise is dressed as Widow Marion, the woman that Mr. Boogedy once loved, and Mr. Boogedy put her under his spell—which makes her hair change into Elsa Lanchester-like Frankenstein hair—and takes her with him.

The family has to get Eloise back and get rid of Mr.Boogedy.

The charm and fun that is the first “Mr. Boogedy” (1986) is not present in this made-for-TV sequel.

Much of the cast is the same, but the actors for children Aurie and Jennifer are different.

Leonard Frey as Mr. Witherspoon with spinach ice cream.

Leonard Frey as Mr. Witherspoon with spinach ice cream.

John Astin who was a highlight in the first film also isn’t in this movie. Instead of Neil Witherspoon we have Walter Witherspoon played by Leonard Frey. Frey’s Witherspoon is rather odd, rather than spookily hilarious. For example, the movie starts with him telling ghost stories about Mr. Boogedy and he makes special ice cream for the festival such as spinach with bacon bits ice cream and chocolate with onion ice cream.

Also, while “Mr. Boogedy” is a brisk 45 minutes, “Bride of Boogedy” is 95 minutes long. It drags with a plot that seems to struggle to find focus. The séance and Mr. Boogedy coming back is more than 30 minutes into this movie.

“Bride of Boogedy” still holds fond childhood memories and I remember thinking parts of it were funny as a child (like moments when Carleton is possessed by Mr. Boogedy), but the length and plot are just not as charming as its predecessor. This proves that sequels and longer lengths don’t make a better movie.

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Halloweek: Mr. Boogedy (1986)

Many of us have movies that we watched repeatedly as children.

For my two older sisters and myself, it was the made-for-TV Disney horror comedy “Mr. Boogedy” (1986). My sisters saw it when it originally aired on Disney channel on a Sunday night in April of 1986. Eventually my parents recorded it off of the television to keep and we’ve had it ever since. I’ve watched it more times than I can count and can still quote along.

Our version of the VHS tape was recorded in the mid-1990s, complete with commercials for the New Mickey Mouse Club, an up and coming singer named Brandy Norwood and promos for movies such as “Angels in the Outfield” and “Batteries Not Included.” I’m re-watching this Pickens family favorite on the old VHS as I type.

The Davis's new home, a

The Davis’s new home, a “definite fixer upper”

The 45 minute movie follows the Davis family who moves to small town Lucifer Falls, New England to live in a in their very first house. The parents- Eloise (Mimi Kennedy) and Carleton Davis (Richard Masur)- apparently didn’t see the house in person before purchasing and just went by what the realtor said.

The family plans to open a franchise gag store, Gag City. Carleton is full of practical jokes and frequently quips “just kidding.”

When they pull up to the decrepit old house with wind blowing and lightening striking, Carleton excitedly exclaims, “Just what the realtor said, a definite fixer upper.” The rest of the family isn’t too sure- which includes two sons Corwin (David Faustino) and Aurie (Benji Gregory) and daughter Jennifer (Kristy Swanson).


Carleton puts down their concern that the house is haunted. When they enter, the local historian and head of the Lucifer Falls Chamber of Commerce Neil Witherspoon (John Astin) is waiting for them and warning them to leave the evil house so Mr. Boogedy doesn’t get them.

But since jokes are Careleton’s business, he assumes Witherspoon is just pulling his leg. Their first night in the house, Jennifer hears strange sneezing. She later sees a strange green light coming from a closed door and is the first person in the house to see Mr. Boogedy. She says his face looked like a “grilled cheese sandwich.” The family finds Jennifer passed out in the hall “tapping her heels together and saying ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

Since their parents still don’t believe them that the house is haunted, Corwin, Aurie and Jennifer, pay a visit to Mr. Witherspoon to find out the story of their home:

William Hanover selling his soul to the Devil for a magic cloak.

William Hanover selling his soul to the Devil for a magic cloak.

During the Puritan days, disgruntled pilgrim William Hanover/Mr. Boogedy falls in love with the Widow Marion, who turns him down. In order to get his way, William Hanover sells his soul to the Devil for a magic cloak so he can win the Widow Marion. While Marion is taking her son Jonathan to the doctor for a cold, Hanover kidnaps Jonathan-this explains the strange sneezing in their house. To prove how powerful he is, Mr. Boogedy casts his first spell with the cloak but ends up blowing up his house instead. Now any house that is built on this property is haunted by My. Boogedy who is trapped there with Jonathan and Marion can not get to her son, who still has a cold. The Davis house is on this property.

Moved by the story, the Davis children decide they need to help Jonathan and Widow Marion, who they end up meeting and the ghosts warn them to get away from evil Mr. Boogedy.

It takes Mr. Boogedy making a stuffed dummy dance and playing their organ to convince Eloise and Carleton that the house is haunted. Eloise meets Marion, hears her story and Eloise moves the family to fight Mr. Boogedy.

Wielding a can of hairspray, a plastic baseball bat, a fly swatter, a vacuum and a toy plastic Thor hammer, the Davis family defeats Mr. Boogedy, steals his cloak and reunites Marion and Jonathan.

The plotline of “Mr. Boogedy” is simple and silly. However, just writing about this movie and spelling out the plot doesn’t truly convey just how much fun this charming little TV movie is. There are small lines in the film that make me laugh every time that typed out, wouldn’t be remotely funny.

“Eat the eggs!”

For example, there is a moment when the mom says “We need to call the realtor” after being spooked or when Aurie wears gag glasses, making his eyes huge, and urges his sister to “Eat the eggs!” as they play a joke on her. These are lines that have been quoted in my household for years because of this movie.

By far, the highlight of this movie is John Astin as Neil Witherspoon. He is creepy, yet also bumbling in a hilarious and quirky way. He’s easily my favorite character, though he is in the movie for less than 15 minutes.

The two sons in this movie, went on to star in successful 1980s sitcoms-David Faustino in “Married with Children” and Benji Gregory in “Alf.” According to a 2011 interview with “Mr. Boogedy” director Oz Scott, Joaquin Phoenix auditioned for the role of one of the sons and was turned down.

John Astin as Mr. Witherspoon

John Astin as Mr. Witherspoon

While “Mr. Boogedy” is by no means scary, it has the atmospheric, ghostly music, voices coming from nowhere and suspenseful moments of peering into shadows. But the frights are evened out well with goofiness and humor to make it not scary for children. Audiences don’t even see Mr. Boogedy until the last 10 minutes of the movie.

There is something just so pure and 1980s American about this movie. A family moves to the New England suburbs without researching the home, the daughter complains there won’t be cute boys or Bruce Springsteen listeners, the mom makes sandwiches with Kraft singles and it’s all just so refreshing. The jokes are goofy, but humorous to any ages. The writers didn’t have to resort to bodily function noises or falls like they would today in comedies geared towards children.

A year later, Disney released a second, longer made-for-TV movie sequel, “The Bride of Boogedy,” which Comet is reviewing this week.

If you have never seen “Mr. Boogedy” or need to revisit it, I urge you to do so. It is 45 minutes well spent. Turner Classic Movies is airing this rare gem as part of their Treasures from the Disney Vaults which starts at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 28. “Mr. Boogedy” airs at 2 a.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 29, so set your DVRs.

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Halloweek Musical Monday: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

bedknobs_and_broomsticks_xlgThis week’s musical:
“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971)– Musical #534

Walt Disney Studios

Robert Stevenson

Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall, Sam Jaffe, John Ericson, Reginald Owen,Cindy O’Callaghan, Roy Snart, Ian Weighill

Set in England in during World War II in 1940, Miss Price (Lansbury) is learning how to become a witch when she has to take in three children who were sent to the country and away from the bombing in London. Because of the war, the Witch’s College-run by Emelius Brown (Tomlinson) closes so Miss Price and the children travel on a flying bed to London to learn a spell that will help England in the world.

-“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” was an attempt to recapture the popularity and success of “Mary Poppins” (1964), according to World of Musicals, The: An Encyclopedia of Stage, Screen, and Song by Mark A. Robinson
-Julie Andrews was originally asked to play the lead. Andrews turned down the road but then reconsidered, but the role was already offered to Lansbury, according to Julie Andrews: An Intimate Biography by Richard Stirling. According to the American Film Institute, Andrews later had second thoughts about turning down the film, since Disney helped her get her start with “Mary Poppins.”
-Lynn Redgrave, Judy Carne and Leslie Caron were also offered the lead role in the film, according to the American Film Institute.
-Based on the novels “The Magic Bed-Knob or How to Become a Witch in 10 Easy Lessons” and “Bonfires and Broomsticks” by Mary Norton.
-Debut for child actors Cindy O’Callaghan, Roy Snart and Ian Weighill.
-Songwriting brothers Richard and Robert Sherman wrote the songs for the film. The Sherman brothers said in an interview that the song “The Beautiful Briny” was originally written for “Mary Poppins” (1964) but wasn’t used.
-Walt Disney bought the film rights to the first Mary Norton story in 1945, according to the American Film Institute.
-Alan Maley, Eustace Lycett and Danny Lee won an Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects
-The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Music, Original Song, “the Age of Not Believing,” Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score
-Angela Lansbury was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress for a Musical/Comedy

David Tomlinson referees  a cartoon soccer game.

David Tomlinson referees a cartoon soccer game.

Notable Songs:
-“Portobello Road” performed by an ensemble
-“The Age of Not Believing” performed by Angela Lansbury
-“The Beautiful Briny” performed by Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson

My review:
“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” starts out with great potential.

An excellent cast with Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall, Sam Jaffe and Reginald Owen. A seemingly adorable premise of child World War II refugees paired with an unlikely host who dislikes children and happens to be an apprentice witch.

But after the first 20 minutes, the movie starts to go downhill.

When the Witch’s College closes down due to the war, Lansbury and the three children search out the school’s professor, played by David Tomlinson, to learn the last spell to help England during the war.

This hunt for the last spell takes the cast into an exhausting 20 or 30 minute bit in cartoon land, playing soccer with lions and dancing with fish.

I was relatively interested in the film until they hopped into cartoon land. The mix of live action and cartoon was an innovative feature at the time, was popular with film critics and won an Academy Award. However, once the film goes into the cartoon portion, it seems to lose direction, not make much sense and drags everything to a halt.

Along with the overly long cartoon portion of the film, half the cast in this film is wasted. I was excited to see Roddy McDowall, Reginald Owen and Sam Jaffe in the credits, but collectively, they are only in the two hour film for 10 minutes.

While this movie was trying to recapture the magic of “Mary Poppins,” it simply falls flat. The children lack the charm of the kids in “Mary Poppins” and the songs aren’t as catchy, though they are also written by the wonderful Sherman brothers.

One notable feature is the dance number for “Portobello Road.” It’s lengthy but impressive. The only irksome feature is that the female hair and costumes are not accurate for war era England.

Angela Lansbury does end up being able to hold off Nazis, ready to attack the small English village, in a rather…creative way that is also a little creepy.

Overall, while the film has a lovely cast and starts off having a cute storyline, it really is overly long and could do without the cartoons. This is a good example as how Disney films were declining in quality after Walt Disney’s death.


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“My hope that women will not be afraid”: Classic Actresses who had Breast Cancer


To go along with some monthly health observances, Comet Over Hollywood is recognizing actors who battled diseases and often, kept it a secret from their public and exhibited strength by continuing to practice their craft. Others helped create awareness or spearheaded organizations for research, such as Yul Brynner. For October 2015’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Comet is recognizing actresses who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

PicMonkey Collage

Today, breast cancer survivors are proud and openly share their stories. Some wear pink t-shirts saying they are a survivor, write memoirs or are interviewed by the news to help spread awareness to other women to pay attention to their bodies.

But for actresses of the Golden Era, this wasn’t the case. Many of their obituaries simply note they had endured a “long illness.” Newspapers said Judy Holliday was in the hospital for a bronchial illness and one obituary for Rosalind Russell said she died from stomach cancer. This was largely because of the stigma that surrounded this particular form of cancer.

In the 1950s, the New York Times refused an advertisement for a breast cancer support group, saying they wouldn’t publish the word “breast” or “cancer.” Because of this, during my research I had some troubles finding reliable sources to confirm that some of these women had cancer at all.

It took the help of some of these actresses who were diagnosed with breast cancer to help get rid of the stigma by publicly speaking about their illnesses.

One of the first celebrities to open up about having breast cancer was former child star Shirley Temple. She wanted to empower women to be involved in their medical decisions and held a press conference from her hospital bed in 1972 while recovering from a lumpectomy.

“It is my fervent hope that women will not be afraid to go to their doctors for diagnosis when they have unusual symptoms,” Shirley Temple Black said during a press conference in November 1972. “There is almost certain recovery from this form of cancer if it is caught early enough.”

Actresses who had breast cancer:

Annex - Bardot, Brigitte_43

Brigitte Bardot- The French “sex kitten actress” who made waves with “…And God Created Woman” (1956) was diagnosed in her early 50s. A  Jan. 1985 Los Angeles Times article says that Bardot underwent surgery for breast cancer in France. The article says Bardot was going to receive radiation treatment after the surgery. Bardot is now a 30 year cancer survivor.


Ingrid Bergman– The Swedish-born Academy Award winning actress spent the last several years of her life with breast cancer. The illness is what caused her death at age 67 in 1982. The “Casablanca” actress was diagnosed in 1973, according to Biography.

”Cancer victims who don’t accept their fate, who don’t learn to live with it, will only destroy what little time they have left,” Bergman is quoted in her obituary.

Bergman’s New York Times obituary only says that she had cancer.

“Mama suffered from breast cancer for nine years and the last three years, when my brother and sisters took turns to be with her in London, were very difficult,” said her daughter Isabella Rossellini in an Aug. 2015 interview which celebrated Bergman’s 100th birthday. “The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, she had an enormous [tumour on her] right arm and was very depressed with the fear of being unable to act.”

Diahann Carroll Sitting with Hands Clasped

Diahann Carroll- The “Julia” actress was diagnosed in 1997 with breast cancer after having her yearly mammogram. Carroll was reluctant to talk about her diagnosis.

“First, it doesn’t even phase you. You just [say], ‘Thank you for the information, doctor, and we’ll speak about this tomorrow.’ Because that’s the way I handle things,” Carroll says in an interview on Oprah’s Masterclass.

Carroll is now a breast cancer awareness activist but was reluctant to talk about it at first.

“The vanity was, I didn’t want anyone to know. I don’t want that to be the thought of anyone, the first thing they think when they hear my name: ‘She has cancer, you know.'” she said. “I later thought, ‘That’s pretty arrogant. There are millions of women who have to deal with this every day. We have to work together here, and it’s my responsibility to help them with that.'”


Yvonne Craig- Best known for her role as “Batgirl” on the 1960s TV series “Batman,” Craig passed away in August 2015 at the age of 78 from breast cancer. Craig fought breast cancer for two years.

“Chemotherapy weakened her but didn’t dampen her sense of humor or her spirit, she intended to fight and win this battle. In the end, her mind still wanted to fight but her body had given up,” according to a statement by Craig’s family to ABC News.

Ms. Craig’s family said in a statement that she had breast cancer, which eventually metastasized to her liver, for more than two years, but that she had kept her condition private, according to her New York Times obituary.

“She wanted to spend all of her energy concentrating on winning her battle,” her family said in the New York Times. “She was adamant about this and wanted to tell her story when she was cured and feeling better.”


Bette Davis- Bette Davis said she wanted her epitaph to be, “Here lies Ruth Elizabeth Davis-she did it the hard way.”

Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1980s and underwent a mastectomy in 1981, according to her New York Times obituary.

Davis did it the hard way and continued acting up until a few years before her death. When she starred in “The Whales of August” (1987) with Lillian Gish and Ann Sothern, she had breast cancer and recently had recovered from a massive stroke.

Davis passed away in 1989 at the age of 81 after attending San Sebastian, Spain to receive an award at a film festival. She was flown to Paris after the festival where she died.

ca. 1957 --- Actress Ruby Dee --- Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

Ruby Dee- The actress best known for her role in “A Raisin in the Sun” and wife of actor Ossie Davis, was diagnosed with maligned breast cancer in 1970 and underwent a lumpectomy, according to her obituary in Bloomberg.

“Pins. Needles, people talking, asking questions,” she wrote in her autobiography. “Count backward? I know that routine. I will not go under, get knocked out, surrender to oblivion.”

Dee was a 40 year cancer survivor, passing away in June 2014 at age 91 of natural causes.



Kay Francis- Kay Francis was Warner Brothers’ top star in the 1930s but when Bette Davis hit the scene, Warner began treating Francis poorly and giving her lousy work to push her out. However, she continued working until her career ended after World War II, according to TCM primetime host Robert Osborne. r.

In 1966, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. However, it was too late and the cancer had spread, according to The Power of Glamour: The Women who Defined the Magic of Stardom

While she was ill, Francis was offered Lana Turner’s role in “Madame X,” which she had to turn down due to her health, according to Kay Francis: A Passionate Life and Career By Lynn Kear and John Rossman.

After her mastectomy, Francis was refined to her bed where she read, watched television, drank and took her medication according to “The Women of Warner Brothers: The Lives and Careers of 15 Leading Ladies” by Daniel Bubbeo and the Kear book. Francis died 1968 at age 63.

Head Shot of Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo- After leaving the screen more than 40 years before, Greta Garbo was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984, underwent a partial mastectomy in New York and was given the all-clear three months later. Garbo passed away in 1990 at age 84 from renal failure and pneumonia, according to the 2012 book Greta Garbo: A Divine Star By David Bret.


Paulette Goddard- There is conflicting information about Paulette Goddard and her breast cancer diagnosis. In an article on TCM’s webpage for Summer Under the Stars by Lorraine LoBianco, the author wrote that Goddard died from breast cancer in 1990. However, various other sources, including her New York Times obituary, say Goddard died in 1990 of heart failure at age 78.

Other sources, including a  French Paulette Goddard webpage, and a 1995 book on Goddard and her husband Erich Remarque say Goddard was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s and had a mastectomy in 1975. The effects of the mastectomy were emotionally damaging and made her reclusive in her later years, according to the French webpage.

Actress Gloria Grahame

Gloria Grahame- Actress Gloria Grahame, known for her roles in film noirs and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974. She tried treating the illness with strict dieting and homeopathic remedies. One doctor told her to stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol and incorporate a vegetarian diet, according to Gloria Grahame, Bad Girl of Film Noir: The Complete Career by Robert J. Lentz. From these changes, Grahame believed that cancer apparently went into remission.

But in 1980, Grahame learned she had breast cancer for a second time and refused treatment. She preferred to work, ignore the illness and never said anything publically about having cancer. Grahame worked until her death. She was preparing for a role in “The Glass Menagerie” in London when she collapsed due to an infection in her abdominal wall, according to Lentz. She passed away in 1981 at age 57.


Julie HarrisActress Julie Harris was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1981 and had a mastectomy right before starting her role on “Knotts Landing,” according to her New York Times obituary. Harris was undergoing chemotherapy while on the show, according to the Washington Post. Harris passed away in August 2013 at age 87.

Actress Judy Holliday

Judy Holliday- Academy Award winning actress and comedian Judy Holliday died from breast cancer in 1965 at age 43. It was difficult to find details about her death due to the time frame when she died, but the book “Promise Me” by Nancy Brinker says Holliday had her left breast removed in the early 1960s and the newspapers said she was in the hospital for a bronchial infection

However, her 1965 obituary notes that she had cancer and she had surgery because of cancer in 1961.

Brinker also writes that after Holliday’s cancer metastasized, her doctors and family thought it would best she didn’t know, telling her that her right breast was in pain because of an inflammation of the sternum. However, this information is not sited.


Jennifer Jones- While some sources list Jennifer Jones as a breast cancer survivor, there is very little information on the Academy Award winning actress’s fight. The only article that mentions that Jones was a breast cancer survivor is her 2009 USA Today obituary. The Pasadena Times notes in her obituary that Jones donated to cancer research. Jones died in December 2009 at age 90.

1950s --- Actress Joi Lansing --- Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

1950s — Actress Joi Lansing — Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

Joi Lansing– Buxom blond B-movie actress Joi Lansing died due to breast cancer in 1972 at age 43. Many obituaries said Lansing died from leukemia.

The book “Joi Lansing:A Body to Die For” by Alexis Hunter says Lansing had both breast and ovarian cancer, which potentially was fueled by Premarian Lansing was taking to reduce aging.

Lansing’s friend Frank Sinatra paid for hospital bills, according to the book Comfort and Joi By Joseph Dougherty.

Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy-  Once called the Queen of Hollywood and The Perfect Wife, Loy was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s. She had a double mastectomy, one breast in 1975 and the other in 1979, according to LifeTime TV. Loy passed away in 1993 at age 88.


Hattie McDaniel– Actress Hattie McDaniel, best known for her role in “Gone with the Wind” and the first African American to win an Academy Award, died from breast cancer in 1952. McDaniel had just started filming the television series “The Beulah Show” but passed away at age 57 after just three episodes.

When she died, McDaniel stated that she wanted her ex-husband Larry Daniels to only receive $1 and the rest of her money go to her brother Sam McDaniel, according to The Margaret Mitchell Encyclopedia by Anita Price Davis. She wanted to be buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but was denied burial by owner Jules Roth because she was black. She was buried in Rosedale. In 1999, the new owner offered to move her body to Hollywood Forever, her family refused and a received a pink and white monument was built there in her honor, according to “Laugh Be a Lady” By Darryl J. Littleton, Tuezdae Littleton. TV role was taken over by Louise Beavers.

1950's --- Russian American actress, screenwriter and producer Alla Nazimova. --- Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Alla Nazimova- Silent actress Alla Nazimova survived breast cancer in the late 1930s. As she was starting to renew her former popularity on the stage, this was cut short by her illness. Nazimova reportedly had surgery for breast cancer in 1938, according to The Gay & Lesbian Theatrical Legacy By Billy J. Harbin, Kim Marra, Robert A. Schanke.

She said about her mastectomy, “It hit me like a stroke of lightening, it cut short not only my health but also my career,” according to Passing Performances By Robert A. Schanke, Kim Marra. Nazimova died in July 1945 at age 66.

16 Feb 1967 --- Portrait of Actress Lynn Redgrave --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

16 Feb 1967 — Portrait of Actress Lynn Redgrave — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Lynn Redgrave- Sister of actress Vanessa Redgrave and known for her role in the film “Georgy Girl,” Lynn Redgrave died due to breast cancer in 2010 at age 67, according to her New York Times obituary. Redgrave was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer 2001 and had a mastectomy and chemotherapy in 2003, according to a 2009 New York Times article on the actress.

“It’s been around forever. Not forever, but a long time. And I just go on working. I have lived with cancer now for four years,” she said in 2009.

ca. 1940s --- Publicity portrait of actress Rosalind Russell. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Rosalind Russell- Actress Rosalind Russell died due to breast cancer, coupled with rheumatoid arthritis in 1976 at age 69, according to her obituary. Russell was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1960s, 15 years prior to her death and lived with arthritis for six years.

“If I beat this rap, I’ll search for a cure for the rest of my life,” Russell said.

She had a mastectomy in 1961, but the cancer later returned. She started chemotherapy in 1975, which worked for eight months but wasn’t successful in the last two months of her life, according to her obituary. One obituary said she had stomach chancer.

When Russell received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1973 at the Academy Awards, she thanks her friends for taking care of her, while she was “not quite well.”

1955 --- Actress Susan Strasberg --- Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

Susan Strasberg- Actress and daughter of acting coach Lee Strasberg, Susan Strasberg died in 1999 at age 60 due to breast cancer.

Strasberg treated her disease holistically with Levashov’s physical healing method rather than going through traditional medicine or having a mastectomy,  according to When Good Thinking Goes Bad: How Your Brain Can Have a Mind of Its Own By Todd C. Riniolo.

“She was diagnosed with [breast] cancer a few years ago but it was in remission totally,” said her stepmother, Anna Strasberg in her Los Angeles Times obituary. “We really have no answers here. I think Susan truly believed she was OK. She didn’t make any plans for dying. She just made plans for living.”

1933 --- Actress Gloria Stuart --- Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

Gloria Stuart- Gloria Stuart was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late-1980s and was a breast cancer survivor.

“She did not believe in illness. She paid no attention to it, and it served her well,” said her daughter Sylvia Thompson. “She was a breast cancer survivor but she just paid no attention to illness. She was a very strong woman and had other fish to fry.”

Stuart passed away at age 100 in 2010 due to lung cancer.


Shirley Temple– Shirley Temple Black found a lump on her left breast in 1972 at age 44, according to a New York Times magazine article from 2014.

Temple was one of the first well-known women to speak out about her breast cancer. According to the article, during this time many women automatically were only given the option of a mastectomy, even when a biopsy was an option. She wasn’t going to let this happen to her. She insisted only the breast tissue removed.

The American Cancer Society spoke out again what Temple did, but she paved the way for women taking control of their medical care.

Temple held a news conference from her hospital bed after the procedure to help other women, receiving 5,000 thank you cards from women afterwards.

Actress Vivian Vance

Vivian Vance- “I Love Lucy” star died at age 66 in 1977. While most of her obituaries do not detail that she had breast cancer, sources such as I Had a Ball: My Friendship with Lucille Ball by Michael Z. Stern say she did. Her agent said she had been ill for “quite some time.”

“I have lost one of the best friends I have ever had and the world has lost one of the great performers of television, stage and film,” Lucille Ball said when Vance died.

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Musical Monday: The Glass Skipper (1955)


It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

the glass slipperThis week’s musical:
“The Glass Skipper” (1955)– Musical #90


Charles Walters

Leslie Caron, Michael Wilding, Keenan Wynn, Elsa Lanchester, Estelle Winwood, Amanda Blake, Lurene Tuttle, Lisa Daniels, Barry Jones
Narrator: Walter Pidgeon

Adaptation of the story of Cinderella. Ella (Caron), nicknamed Cinderella for her filthy appearance, is lonely and rebellious. She is the servant to her stepmother (Lanchester) and two stepsisters (Blake, Daniels), who are in a tizzy over the return of Prince Charles (Wilding) and are preparing for his ball. While sitting by her favorite secret spot by the river, Ella meets dizzy Mrs. Toquet, who everyone says is crazy. Ella also meets the prince by the river but doesn’t know he’s royalty. Mrs. Toquet helps Ella get ready for the ball without magic but through creative means.

-Choreography by Roland Petit.
-According to TCM host Robert Osborne, Michael Wilding was cast to keep his wife-MGM contract player Elizabeth Taylor-happy because Michael kept complaining that he wasn’t being given any roles.
-Leslie Caron wrote in her memoir “Thank Heaven,” Michael Wilding was so unhappy in his role as the prince that he begged Caron to throw a tantrum and say that she wanted a new co-star. She didn’t feel like she could make such demands. However, Caron said she and Wilding got along and she was always in awe of Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty, who was married to Wilding at the time.
-Michael Wilding was dubbed by Gilbert Russell.
-Dancers Tommy Rall, Jacques d’Amboise and James Mitchell were considered for the role of Prince Charming.

Leslie Caron and Michael Wilding in

Leslie Caron and Michael Wilding in “The Glass Slipper”

Leslie Caron and Lurene Tuttle in

Leslie Caron and Lurene Tuttle in “The Glass Slipper”

-Walter Pidgeon as the narrator
-Ballet numbers performed by Leslie Caron

Notable Songs:
This film was more about ballet numbers rather than songs.

My review:
“The Glass Slipper” is a glittering, charming and enchanting take on the classic story of Cinderella.
Set against a colorful, storybook land, the film has a remarkable supporting cast that includes Keenan Wynn, Elsa Lanchester and Amanda Blake.

“The Glass Slipper” isn’t your typical song and dance musical. There is only one song that is performed by a dubbed Michael Wilding, but the other numbers are beautiful ballet numbers daydreamed by Cinderella. There are three major ballet numbers in the film, exhibiting Caron’s lovely talent. I enjoyed watching her precise and perfect ballet steps, because I love dance and dancing. However, I can see how this could be dull for someone that isn’t interested in ballet.

Leslie Caron’s version of “Ella,” or Cinderella, is different than the sweet, sad character we are used to from the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals or the 1950 Walt Disney cartoon. Caron’s Ella is a bit of a tomboy and exhibits her loneliness and sadness through rebellion, talking back and scoffing at anyone who is rude to her.

Her fairy godmother is different from the traditional godmother who makes the evening happen with a magic wand. Played by Lurene Tuttle, rather than using magic, she steals…or borrows. She gathers the gown and glass slippers which she will return and makes a bargain with a driver of a carriage who has to take Cinderella home by 12 a.m. because his group is heading home at 1 a.m.

As for Ella’s stepfamily, rather than being evil, they are just lazy social climbers. Elsa Lanchester in her role as the evil stepmother is particularly hilarious.

But the person that makes the whole movie and that steals the show isn’t even shown on screen! I LOVE Walter Pidgeon as the narrator. He has the perfect delivery and warm tone to tell a fairy tale, but he is also hilarious! I laughed out loud many times at his dialogue.

The only downside of the film is Michael Wilding as the prince. He’s not bad but I feel sorry for him because he looks so uncomfortable. He’s in two of the dance numbers, and it’s obvious the choreographer worked to add Wilding into the dances without really doing anything. For example, Wilding stirs a pot in one number or stands while Caron dances around him. He looks so uncomfortable. Had a dancer such as James Mitchell or Tommy Rall been cast, it would have been appropriate, but studio politics cast Wilding instead. Acting wise, Wilding is fine.

“The Glass Slipper” is a lovely, magical film. When I originally saw this movie more than 10 years ago, I wasn’t enthralled. I’m glad I visited it again, because it found me enchanted.

Leslie Caron as Cinderella arriving at the ball in

Leslie Caron as Cinderella arriving at the ball in “The Glass Slipper.”

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“A Colorful Life”: Remembering Joan Leslie


Actress Joan Leslie in the 1940s

Actress Joan Leslie in the 1940s

With her shining smile, bright eyes and fresh face, actress Joan Leslie had an innocent girl-next-door appeal. But during her career at Warner Brothers during the 1940s, Joan Leslie held her own in top films with major actors such as Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney.

She was a full-fledged star by age 17. And it all began on the stage when she was nine years old.

Joan Leslie—then Joan Brodel—was part of a sister act, with her sisters Mary and Betty, known as the Three Brodels. The sisters traveled the United States and Canada; singing, dancing, doing impressions and playing instruments, according to a 1999 interview in the book “Movies Were Always Magical” by Leo Verswijver.

Joan played the accordion and did an impression of actress Greta Garbo.

While performing in New York, an MGM scout saw Joan and signed her to play a small role in the Greta Garbo film “Camille” (1936). In film, Joan, 11, played Robert Taylor’s little sister. She had one line, welcoming him home as he arrived at her first communion.

As she continued to get small, uncredited roles in films such as “Nancy Drew—Reporter” (1938), “Susan And God” (1940) and “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), Joan changed her last name from Brodel to Leslie so she wouldn’t be confused with actress Joan Blondell.

Pictured with her sisters and mother in for a LIFE magazine photo spread.

Pictured with her sisters and mother in for a LIFE magazine photo spread.

But her big break came at age 15. Joan got the role of Velma, a young girl with a club foot, in the Howard Hawks directed film “High Sierra” (1940) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino. In the film, Bogart is a criminal on the run, and when he meets Velma, he wants to help her get an operation for her foot.

At age 15, Joan Leslie with Humphrey Bogart in

At age 15, Joan Leslie with Humphrey Bogart in “High Sierra”

“That was such a good role,” Leslie said in the Verswijver interview. “And I was only 15! I wish I had more such roles when I was older.”

By age 17, Joan Leslie was on the cover of the Oct. 26, 1942, issue of LIFE magazine. “Joan Leslie: girlish and unassuming, at age 17 she shines brightly as a full-fledged movie star able to sing, dance and act,” the magazine headline said.

Joan Leslie on the cover of Life, Oct. 1942.

Joan Leslie on the cover of Life, Oct. 1942.

By this time, Leslie had starred with Bogart a second time in “Thieves Fall Out” (1941). Still in her teens, she played the love interest to top stars such as Gary Cooper in “Sergeant York” (1941) and James Cagney in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942).

“When you talk about working with the best, I’ll always remember Jimmy Cagney. What a creative, dynamic person he was,” she said in the 1999 interview.

Both Cooper and Cagney received Academy Awards for Best Actor for their respective roles.

“I never was nominated but I don’t feel I did anything up to that caliber,” she said.

In most of her roles that followed at Warner Brothers, Joan Leslie exuded a persona that was the young, innocent, sweet girl-next-door.

“I was merely being myself in the 1940s, that’s what it really was,” she said.

However, Joan Leslie always proved to be versatile. She could go from comedies with Eddie Albert, such as “The Great Mr. Nobody” (1940) to the hard hitting drama “The Hard Way” (1942), playing the younger sister Ida Lupino is pushing to make a star. At age 18, Joan was also the youngest of any of Fred Astaire’s dance partners in the 1943 film, “The Sky’s The Limit.”

Publicity photo of Fred Astaire and Joan Leslie in

Publicity photo of Fred Astaire and Joan Leslie in “Sky’s the Limit.”

However, because she was so much younger than her peers such as Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Henry Fonda and Bogart, she said she never felt like she was a “chum” to any of these stars, but was also never scared or in awe while working with them.

“People were very nice to me…” she said. “They were getting the quality from me that they wanted: young, innocent and sweet girl next door. It was during the war (World War II) and that’s what they wanted to project on the screen.”

Like many other actresses, Joan Leslie danced at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II with the soldiers. Art imitated life as she starred in the film “Hollywood Canteen” (1944) as herself. In the film a soldier, played by Robert Hutton, wins a date with Joan Leslie and the two end up falling in love.

Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton in the film

Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton in the film “The Hollywood Canteen” (1944)

In 1946, Joan Leslie was voted No. 1 in a Future Star poll, but becoming quality roles were scarce for her. This largely was because she sued Warner Brothers for control of her contract, believing after the age 21 she should be able to pick better parts. Warner lowered her billing in some of her films and blackballed her name with other studios.

“I always liked to play a certain kind of part as a certain kind of person and I don’t find that very much anymore. The business has changed so much,” she said in 1999.

Joan Leslie with her husband William Caldwell, MD.

Joan Leslie with her husband William Caldwell, MD.

However, once Joan Leslie married obstetrician William Caldwell, MD, in 1950, her interest in Hollywood started to fade. When the two had twin girls, Patricia and Ellen, Joan stopped making films and concentrated on her role as a mother.

“When I married, that would be the most important thing in my life,” she said. “When you had a colorful life as an actress, it’s not easy to say that and to mean it as well. My husband respects me for what I have accomplished in my career.”

After her career, she was involved with parish work, the Los Angeles Public Library’s after-school reading program, and the advisory board of the Damon Runyan Cancer Fund, according to her obituary.

Dr. Caldwell passed away in 2000 and Miss Leslie passed away at age 90 on Oct. 12, 2015.

“I had a very colorful life, she said. “There’s nothing quite like it.”

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