Different look, same great product

“Comet Over Hollywood” has received a slight make-over. Not that I don’t love Cyd Charisse in “Party Girl,” I just felt that we needed to put on our bathing suits with Constance Bennett and dive in to summer movie fun blogging!

My mink hat on Christmas Day 2009

Cheesiness aside, Constance Bennett is an actress I really admire and try to follow. For years she was known as one of the best dressed women in Hollywood. Why was Bennett such a fashion icon? Because she wore what she liked and didn’t follow fads.

I admit she is the reason I buy a lot of the vintage clothes I own and wear. Within the past year I’ve bought: a mink hat, turban, orange 1960s cape/poncho or 1940s yellow strapless formal.

Therefore, I dedicate this blog to my fashion inspiration, Constance Bennett.

Here is a video that shows Bennett’s glamour and fashion:

Hollywood Dads and Star Babies

On Father’s Day we remember the times dad taught us to drive, checked our oil and watched “Calamity Jane” with us.  I would also like to remember Hollywood fathers that had children who also went on to have film careers.  Here are a few of my favorite Hollywood families.

Like father, like son:

John and Patrick Wayne in “The Searchers” (1956)

John Wayne and Patrick Wayne-

Can you think of a more attractive father and son? Patrick Wayne had big cowboy boots to fill but had a modest career as an actor. Patrick was born in 1939, when his father made one of his most successful films “Stagecoach.”  Patrick was 11 when he made his first film, “Rio Grande” with his father. John and his son were in the ten films together including:
Rio Grande” (1950),”The Quiet Man” (1952), “The Searchers” (1956), “The Conqueror” (1956), “The Alamo” (1960), “The Comancheros” (1960), “Donovan’s Reef” (1963), “McLintock” (1963), “The Green Berets” (1968) and “Big Jake” (1971).

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr. in 1936 on the set of “Jump for Glory”


Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.-

Another attractive, father and son duo: Douglas Fairbank Sr. and Jr. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was born into Hollywood royalty. Daddy Fairbanks was one of the silent screen’s biggest idols and Junior became a heart-throb (at least mine, he is my desktop background).
“I never tried to emulate my father. Anyone trying to do that would be a second-rate carbon copy,” Fairbanks Jr. said. However, both men were known for their swashbuckling roles.
Jr. had a successful career, best known for his role with Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen in “Gunga Din” (1939) and “Sinbad the Sailor” (1947).
Both men were married to some of Hollywood’s top actresses. Senior to Mary Pickford-their estate was known as “Pickfair”- and Junior to Joan Crawford.

Ed and Keenan Wynn in 1948 at a hospital charity event.

Ed Wynn and Keenan Wynn-

Not as handsome, but definitely funny.  Keenan helped his father Ed get a Hollywood career, according to IMDB.  Keenan always played the pal, heel or funny man in the movies while Ed was the bumbling clown.  The father and son team were in the Disney movies “The Absent Minded Professor” and “Son of Flubber” together in the 1960s.



 Daddy’s little girl:

John and Hayley Mills-

“Acting is just a natural thing in my family. Other boys and girls go into the family business. So do we,” Hayley said.
John Mills had a successful career in England starring in films like “This Happy Breed” and”Hobson’s Choice.”
Hayley’s made success in Disney movies such “Pollyanna” and “Parent Trap.” Dad cashed in at Disney in the movie “Swiss Family Robinson’s” playing the father.
The two were in the 1959 thriller “Tiger Bay” and the 1966 comedy/drama “The Family Way.”

Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery

Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery-

Robert Montgomery started in movies when talkies shook Hollywood. He shocked audiences with Norma Shearer in the sex comedy/drama “The Divorcee” (1930). He showed war wasn’t all patrotism and glamour in “They Were Expendable” (1945) and let audiences see how he solved a murder through his eyes literally (we only saw his face in the movie a few times) in “Lady in the Lake” (1947).

In contrast, his daughter Elizabeth, starred in the wholesome 1960s television series, “Bewitched.”  Elizabeth got her start after appearing on several episodes of her father’s series, “Robert Montgomery Presents,” according to IMDB.  “I guess you could say I’m a TV baby,” Elizabeth said.

Alfred and Patricia Hitchcock-

The master of suspense had one daughter. Patricia didn’t have a huge film career, but she did act in three films that her father directed. Her largest role was as Barbara, Ruth Roman’s little sister, in “Strangers in a Train” (1951).  She also had a bit role in “Stage Fright” (1950), was a secretary in “Psycho” (1961) and appeared in several episodes of “Alfred Hitchcok Presents.”

Some actors are less than complementary about Hitch, but he and Patricia had a good relationship. The book “Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism” analyzes “Stage Fright,” comparing Patricia’s and Jane Wyman’s similar appearances. The joking but loving father-daughter relationship between  Wyman and her father in the film characterized Patricia and Hitchcock’s relationship, according to the book.     Other film fathers:-Edgar Bergen: puppet, Charlie McCarthy and daughter, Candice-Lloyd Bridges: sons Beau and Jeff-Lon Chaney: son Lon Chaney, Jr. of “Of Mice and Men” (1939) fame-Tony Curtis: daughter Jamie Lee-Kirk Douglas:  son, Michael-Henry Fonda: son Peter, daughter Jane-Rance Howard: songs Clint and Ron-Walter Huston: director son, John-Robert Keith: son, Brian of “Family Affair” and “Parent Trap” fame-Gordon MacRea: daughter, Meredith of “Petticoat Junction” fame-Joel McCrea: son, Jody of beach movie fame-Vincent Minnelli: daughter, Liza-Lyle Talbot: son Stephen (Gilbert from “Leave it to Beaver”)

Happy Father’s day to the star of our household, my dad, who has to put up with three daughters and their shopping, complaining and movie musicals. Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.

Confessions of a VHS User

222 classic movies on VHS tapes

Recently my mother told me that we had an estimated 222 movies taped off of Turner Classic Movies. Why you ask?

Every month I flip through the “Turner Classic Movie Now Playing Guide” and make a list of 20 to 50 movies to tape.

Our family owns a DVR but we use VHS tapes, because they hold more, are reusable and usually give us higher quality.

I tape so many movies so I can fulfill the many lists I have made to organize my old movie obsessions.

Here is a very brief summary of the lists I have so far:
-Movie Musical list: I have currently seen 374 musicals. I started this list back in 2004 when I was in 9th grade.  This includes any movie musical I have seen, new or old; anything from a Kay Kyser musical to “Chicago.”
-Silent Movie list: This currently only has 40 movies. I only started really getting interested in silent films in late 2008 and just started the list in March 2010.
-Screen teams: This is a list of famous screen teams such as Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland, Myrna Loy and William Powell, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.  I try to see all of the movies the screen teams were in together.
-Movies Series: Similarly to the Screen Teams list, I am trying to see all the movies in certain film series such as Andy Hardy, Dr. Kildaire and Maisie.
-Actresses Lists: I have 47 actresses that I am trying to see all of their movies. A few of these are Jean Arthur, Bette Davis and Kay Francis. So far I’ve only seen all of Judy Garland’s movies.
-Actors Lists: Similar to the actress list, except with 19 actors. Lists include Van Johnson, Dana Andrews and George Brent.

Recently, I have started a rather ambitious list. It is all of the movies from 1939- a total of 514 movies and I have only seen 84.

“The Rains Came”: 20th Century Fox’s contribution to the 1939 royalty

The year of 1939 is important not just for “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind,” but it also birthed other well known movies such as “Ninotchka,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “Stagecoach” and “The Grapes of Wrath.”

It’s amazing to look at all of the films that came out during what is known as “Hollywood’s Greatest Year,” and I was inspired to try to see all of them.

Turner Classic Movies showed a documentary in the summer of 2009 called “1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year.” The documentary said the reason this year was profitable was the United States was slowly getting out of the depression and the film companies were able to fund bigger projects.

However, this glory only lasted one year.  Two years later World War II hit, actors were drafted and America and Hollywood put their efforts toward the war on the home front and overseas. Once the war was over, the tone of America and movies changed from light and happy 1930s films to darker and angsty melodramas, according to the documentary.

In a way, this is why I want to make the list. I feel like when people hear 1939, they think of “Gone with the Wind” or “Wizard of Oz,” but there were so many other special movies that year. I want to see if the other films that you don’t hear about have that same magic. Who knows, once I finish watching all 514 movies maybe I’ll try my hand at writing a book.

Making the list took maybe three days, however I know that the watching process will take much longer. I’m worried about being able to track some of the movies and making it through low budget crime movies.

Wish me luck!

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Even Gaga likes the classics

Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the Killers

I am always listening for classic movie information, facts or references. Imagine my surprise while listening to my two favorite musical artists, Lady Gaga and The Killers, when I ran across some classic film references.

I’m not talking about the old worn out “Bette Davis Eyes” where the whole song is dedicated to one actor, but these are subtle lyrics mentioning favorite actors.

It gives me joy that Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers must have some respect for classic Hollywood. It seems so many of the people in Hollywood don’t care about the past or are unaware. Without the James Cagneys and Bette Davises, the actors in Hollywood wouldn’t have the freedom they exercise now.

“The Ballad of Michael Valentine” by The Killers from the Sawdust album:
“But I’ve got a buzz like Marlon Brando straight faced with misery tonight”
“But I’ve got a buzz like Greta Garbo walking fowards in the sun”

“Romeo and Juliet” covered by the Killers on the Sawdust album:
“There’s a place for us, you know the movie song”
-talking about “West Side Story

•”A Dustland Fairytale” by the Killers on the Day & Age album:
“‘Moon River’ what you do to me, but I don’t believe you…”
-Mentions the theme from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The video seems to be modeled after “Rebel Without a Cause” or “West Side Story” with the switch blade gang fighting.

• “Speechless” by Lady Gaga from The Fame Monster album:
“With your James Dean glossy eyes In your tight jeans with your long hair”
“I can’t believe how you looked at me with your Johnnie Walker eyes”
-I actually had to look up who Johnnie Walker was. He was an actor in the 1920’s and 1930s
and he died in 1949.

• “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga from The Fame Monster album:
“I want your psycho, Your vertigo stick, Want you in my rear window, Baby you’re sick”
-Huge Hitchcock reference talking about “Psycho,” “Vertigo” and “Rear Window.” I
heard in an interview that she was sighting imperfect film romances and saying that she
would take your imperfections and still love you anyways.

• “Dance in the Dark” by Lady Gaga from The Fame Monster album:
“Marilyn, Judy, Sylvia, Tellem’ how you feel girls!”
-Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and I’m assuming Sylvia Plath
“Work your blonde (Jean) Benet Ramsey, We’ll haunt like Liberace, find your freedom in the music find your Jesus, find your Kubrick”
-Pianist Liberace and director Stanley Kubrick

Kim Novak, the Lavender Blonde

• “So Happy I Could Die” by Lady Gaga from The Fame Monster album:
“I love that lavender blonde, the way she moves, the way she walks….”
-In her early days of acting, Kim Novak was publicized as the Lavender Blonde or the Lavender
Girl at Columbia studios. They tinted her blonde hair with lavender highlights, frequently
dressed her in shades of purple and forced her to decorate her apartment in the color, according to the book “Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era.”

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Actress Beauty Tips #1: Boraxo Powdered Soap

One of my favorite things to read about with classic actresses is how they maintained their good looks. How did Veronica Lakes hair always look so lush?  What perfume did Jean Harlow seduce men with? How did Rita Hayworth maintain her slender figure?

I am starting a feature that I will do the first of every month of classic actress beauty tips that I have read about AND tested.

Lana Turner in Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

Our first test comes from the beautiful Lana Turner. It’s hard to deny the beauty and sex appeal of Lana Turner. Her flawless, meticulous appearance didn’t happen by accident.  Lana worked hard to keep her appearance glamorous. She wasn’t just a star on-screen, but also off, according to her daughter Cheryl Crane’s book “LANA: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies.”

A section of the book discusses different beauty regiments and fashion favorites. Her beauty regiments were surprisingly simple and inexpensive. One beauty routine practice by Miss Turner was exfoliation with Boraxo powdered soap once a week.

Boraxo Powdered Soap

1.) You put the Boraxo powdered soap in a bowl or in your hand.

2.) Make a paste by adding water to the soap.  You can control how rough the soap is on your skin by how much water you add. For maximum exfoliation, add less water.

3.) Use on your face or anywhere else on your body for smooth skin.

4.) Only do this once or twice a week. If you rub your face too hard with the soap you might end up slightly red-cheeked from rubbing too hard.  Using lotion afterward is advisable.

To review, I really enjoy using Boraxo soap. It leaves me feeling smooth and refreshed, but careful not to rub too hard!

*It might be best to buy the soap online. My grandmother was able to find Boraxo on sale at the Mass General Store in Boone, N.C. but I can’t find it Greenville, S.C.

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