Chica chica boom chic Halloween

Jessica Pickens by day, Carmen Miranda by night

This year I was Carmen Miranda for Halloween-other wise known as “The Lady with the Tutti Fruitti hat.”  Miranda was popular for her crazy outfits, samba singing style and was one of the highest paid actresses in the 1940s. I’ve always loved Carmen Miranda and decided to mix in my classic movie love with this year’s costume, even if some people thought I was Chiquetta Banana, I corrected in my attempt to educate my generation with classic film.

   Miranda was known as the “Brazilian Bombshell,” and lived most of her life in Brazil though she was born in  Portugal.  Brazilians were upset that she made her success with an exaggerated accent, colorful costumes and playing Americanized South American stereotypes. She was criticized when she performed this way in Brazil in the 1940s, but redeemed herself when she performed several samba style songs in Portuguese that made fun of her Americanized persona, according to the BBC documentary “Under the Tutti Fruitti Hat.”

Was anyone else anything classic film related for Halloween? Comment and share!

Check out of Carmen Miranda singing in “Weekend in Havana” (1941):

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

About these ads

My childhood crush: RIP James MacArthur

RIP James MacArthur

Long before I ever sighed for Van Johnson, swooned over Joseph Cotton or dreamed of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., there was James MacArthur.

I was probably five or six years old and my family was watching one of our favorite movies “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960).  Even as a child, I recognized his very attractive looks.  I didn’t really understand when my mom told me that MacArthur was now old, when in the movie he looked so young. Did that mean I couldn’t marry him when I grew up?

Right now I am in total shock.  Just an hour ago, I was shopping in TJ Maxx when my mom texted me the bad news: that James MacArthur was dead at 72.  My first childhood crush-and my mother’s childhood crush- was gone!

Admittedly, I haven’t seen many of his films.  My favorites that I have seen are “The Interns” (1962), “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960) and “Spencer’s Mountain” (1963) -though I was jealous of every girl he ended up with in the movie.  I will say I tried to watch his first feature film “The Young Stranger” (1957), but was so angered by the stupidity of his parents and other adults in that movie I had to stop. I’ve always wanted to see the Hayley Mills and James MacArthur movie “The Truth About Spring” (1965) but unfortunately I’ve never been able to find it.

Mother and son, Helen Hayes and James MacArthur

I sometimes forget that James MacArthur is the adopted son of “the first lady of the theater,” Helen Hayes. He was even the god-son of Lillian Gish, talk about one lucky adopted child.

Its so heartwarming to me to see them in pictures or films together.  In one obituary I read today, he said his favorite episode of  “Hawaii Five-O” was in 1975 when Hayes guest starred as Danno’s Aunt Clara, an old woman on vacation in Hawaii.  In the show Aunt Clara helped the detectives solve the murder (how cute!).

You will be missed James MacArthur.  I will forever think of you as the young man  in “Swiss Family Robinson.”  Below is my favorite part from the movie. I’ll miss and always have a crush on your, Fritz.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page

Take my pulse, Lew Ayres: Medicine in Old Movies

One summer Turner Classic Movies showed almost all of the 15 “Dr. Kildare” movies from the 1930s and 1940s…and of course I had my mother tape every single one. So for a a couple of weeks my family sat down and fell in love with Dr. Kildare (Lew Ayres), Mary Lamount (Laraine Day), Nurse Molly Byrd (Alma Kruger), Hospital Admin Dr. Carew (Walter Kingsford) and of course Dr. Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore).

Each movie was cute, somewhat suspenseful and always had a bit of comic relief from Dr. Gillespie-who was wheel chair bound due to Barrymore’s arthritis.

The most interesting thing about the Dr. Kildare series is seeing how much medicine has changed. Part of me is thankful to live in contemporary time with up to date medical technology, but I still want to live in the 1940s.

1940

It is also interesting to see the way they cure some of the medical cases. For example, in “Dr. Kildare’s Strange Case” (1940), a man is found on the street who was seemingly out of his mind. As it turns out the man had schizophrenia and they cured it. (Also notice how they pronounce the word in old movies: Ski-zo-FREE-nia)

Yes that’s right. Dr. Kildare cured schizophrenia. Amazing since even today it is incurable. The man was unconscious and given a shot that makes him go back to a “primate state and go through the stages of man until he is himself again.” And it works. The man is better, finds his wife (he also had a case of amnesia) and lives happily ever after.

However, the Dr. Kildare series isn’t the only movie that suggests schizophrenia can be cured. In the film “Bewitched” (1945), sweet Phyllis Thaxter has a voice inside of her head telling her murderous things such as to kill her fiancé. At the end of the movie, her psychiatrist helps her see which personality wins out.  She is cured and back to normal.

Moving away from schizophrenia, in “The People vs. Dr. Kildare,” Dr. Kildare performs an emergency surgery on ice skater Bonita Granville at the scene of a bad car accident. Granville then finds that she can’t walk (though her leg healed properly) and sues Dr. Kildare.  I may not be a med student, but I find it questionable that Kildare performed the surgery outside in an area that was not sanitary.

I will say I appreciate the bluntness of Dr. Gillespie. Doctors would be sued if they talked to their patients the way Gillespie barks at his, but they are usually cured and he gets the point across.

Here is an example of Dr. Gillespie’s doctor tactics:
Dr. Gillespie: Well, Mr. Ingersoll, good morning, and how are you feeling today?
Patient, Rufus Ingersoll: Never felt better in my life!
Dr. Gillespie: Oh ho, that’s fine. That’s fine…because your system’s in a state of collapse. Sit down before you fall down!

“Emergency”-My favorite TV show

Though the medical practices of Dr. Kildare might seem archaic by today’s standards, they certainly seemed up to date for the standards of the 1940s. The doctors were in New York City -not the country doctor seen in many other movies of the 1930s and 1940s.

Actually, the medical practices you see 30 years later in the television show “Emergency!” (1972 to 1979) aren’t much different. Nurse Dixie McCall, Doctor Bracket and Doctor Early seem like they are the only employees at Rampart General Hospital. My family and I always joke that those three doctors were the only doctors in the hospital because they did it all: Deliver babies, perform surgery and general practice.

Regardless of the questionable terminology and medical methods of the “Dr. Kildare” series, don’t let it turn you off. After watching all 15 movies, you will feel like Laraine Day, Nat Pendleton, Lew Ayres and Marie Blake are part of your family.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

Change of plans for “Radio Waves”

For the 8th time, “Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will airing, but unfortunately  the steam is down.

I had topics planned, but I’d rather save those until I have my usual listeners who can listen online. Instead of the scheduled old movie discussion, I will be doing another musical show.

For those who live on Winthrop’s campus, you can still listen on Channel 99.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

“Don’t make me go all Bette Davis on you”: Actress moods

We all have bad days sometimes. (Bette Davis in “The Letter”)

 
We all go through a series of moods or feelings. Each mood I have, I relate it to an actress. For example, I may think, “I am in a very Greta Garbo mood right now.”  Below you will see my different mood names and their descriptions. I tried to post a photo of the actress that would correspond with the mood.

Garbo in “As You Desire Me” (1932)

Greta Garbo mood:  Sometimes I get down,  sad and just want to be alone. This is what I call my “Greta Garbo mood.”  Garbo’s character Grusinskaya in “Grand Hotel” (1932) says, “I want to be left alone. I think I have never felt so tired in my life.”  I sometimes get in this same mood the reclusive ballerina  in the movie does .  I want to just run away lock myself in my room and be alone.  Garbo has this same attitude in her personal life. Not many people were able to get close to the very private Garbo, and those who did had to tread lightly.

Doris Day

 

Doris Day mood:  Don’t think that I am always angry or down in the dumps. Sometimes I feel very sunny and happy, so much that I sing while I clean my room or shower. This is what I call my sunny, girl next door “Doris Day mood.” Sometimes if I am a particularly good mood, I wish I had a ukulele and could skip around campus like Doris Day does in “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies.” Doris Day almost personified happiness and joy just with her stage name,  roles and bright, cheery songs.  Though her personal life may not have been so happy, her films put a smile on movie-goers faces.

Bette Davis/Joan Crawford mood: We can all get in vindictive, revenge seeking moods. This is what I call the “Bette Davis or Joan Crawford mood.”  Both of these ladies have bad off-screen reputations (which I think is poppy cock, but I’ll discuss that in another post). I’m referring to the on- screen personas of Crawford and Davis. Who can forget Bette Davis walking down the stairs and shooting her lover at the beginning of “The Letter“?  Remember when Joan Crawford as Crystal Allen gets the last juicy word in “The Women“?  When I’m angry about something, I just imagine what Bette or Joan would do to someone and take on their same attitude.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page

“Radio Waves Over Hollywood” still on tonight

Despite fall break starting today, “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live tonight (Thursday) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tonight “Radio Waves” has a special Musicals Edition!

"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954)

So be sure to listen at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  live stream on www.winrfm.com (go to Listen Live) or  the old WINR website. Call in at 803-323-2122, whether you know me or not, to contribute to the discussion.  I would love to hear from you!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

Who is the fairest one of all?

Hollywood in the 1940s employeed a pleathora of attractive men: Van Johnson, Clark Gable, John Hodiak, James Stewart, John Wayne…

The list could continue for hours, but who are the two men that stand on top of the whole stack of them?

Robert Taylor and Tyrone Power

 

Famous for their good looks, who is more attractive: Tyrone Power or Robert Taylor

In April 2010 when Robert Taylor was the TCM Star of the Month, Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies’ prime time host, said the MGM star was dubbed the most attractive star in Hollywood. His only competition was Tyrone Power of Twentieth Century Fox studio.

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor emerged as a young and handsome actor in the mid-1930s in movies like “Broadway Melody Of 1936” (1935) and “Camille” (1936). With his slicked back black hair, attractive smile and pleasing disposition, he left many women swooning and his male counterparts seething, Robert Osborne said. Taylor’s career was successful from the start and was in top notch films until the mid-1950s.

On the other side of the spectrum, Tyrone Power was signed to 20th Century Fox in 1936 as their answer to MGM’s Robert Taylor.  Power’s career didn’t launch as quickly as Taylor’s, acting in small roles in a bit part in “Flirtation Walk” (1934). “Marie Antoinette” (1938) as Norma Shearer’s lover. His career launched when he was paired with Alice Faye and Don Ameche in both “In Old Chicago” (1937) and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1938).

Interestingly enough, after both being hired as the pretty boys of the studios, their careers and lives were very similar.

Tyrone Power

Both men struggled with only being seen as a pretty face.  Robert Taylor took on “manlier” roles like “Valley of the Kings” (1954) and “The Law and Jake Wade” (1958) that offered rougher, meaner characters.  Sadly, I have to plead ignorance when it comes to Tyrone Power’s career. However, from looking at his film list and reading about his career, it looks like his peak was in the 1940s.

In the 1950s, Tyrone was unhappy with the roles he was getting and turned to stage work. Probably his best role in the 1950s was his last role, “Witness For The Prosecution“(1957) with Charles Laughton.

Both men were married to actresses (Power-Annabelle, Tayor- Barbara Stanwyck) and also had several love affairs. One affair in particular was with one glamorous actress: Lana Turner.  Turner called Power the love of her life, according to her book LANA: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies. However, though Lana Turner successfully seduced Taylor during the filming of “Johnny Eager” (1941), she told her best friend Ava Gardner that Robert Taylor was a lover you “shouldn’t waste your mouth on.”

Lana Turner and Tyrone Power

Later in life, careers and looks took turns for the worse for the two men.  Neither Robert Taylor or Tyrone Power aged very well, and both were not recieving quality roles. Robert Taylor was one of the actors who stayed until MGM studio’s fall in the early 1960s even though his roles grew increasingly worse, according to Esther Williams in her autobiography “The Million Dollar Mermaid.”

Tyrone Power died at the young age of 44 in 1958 due to aheart attack.  Eleven years later, Robert Taylor died in 1969 at a similarly young age of 57 of lung cancer. Ronald Reagan and Robert Taylor were close friends, after the death of Taylor, Reagan was anti-smoking.

It’s funny how two attractive actors lived such seemingly parallel lives. But it all boils down to one question:

Which one was more attractive?

Which one was the most handsome man in Hollywood during the 1940s?

I know my answer. What’s yours?

My dream boat

 Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

For the 6th time, “Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Basil Rathbone on the radio

 

Topics for Oct. 7:
-State and county fairs in the movies
-Ronald Reagan-a good actor, skewed by late night television
-Learning history from the movies
-Actors who look similar
-Fashion in the movies

So be sure to listen at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  live stream on www.winrfm.com (go to Listen Live) or  the old WINR website.

call in at 803-323-2122, whether you know me or not, to contribute to the discussion.  I would love to hear from you!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

Actress Beauty Post #5: Jean Harlow’s pefume

I apologize for October’s beauty tip being a day late. September flew by!

Jean Harlow, Hollywood’s first Platinum Blonde

This is the fifth installment of our monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about AND tested.

Jean Harlow was the first “Blonde Bombshell;” pre-dating the pin-up girls of the 1950s and serving as Marilyn Monroe’s role model.

Harlow practiced many methods to be sexy and attractive such as only eating salads and vegetables to stay thin and taking ice cube baths to firm up her skin. This blog isn’t about either of those, because I have not tried either of those extreme beauty methods…yet. However, this blog post is an “accessory” she used.

Last Christmas, I asked for and received Jean Harlow’s favorite brand of perfume: Mitsouko by Guerlain. Mitsouko was created in 1919 and means mystery or mysterious.  The perfume was also a favorite of Ava Gardner.

Jean Harlow’s favorite perfume, Mitsouko

It is said that when Jean Harlow’s director husband, Paul Bern, committed suicide that he covered himself in her scent, but I don’t know if that is true or not.

Anyways, I gambled and asked for the perfume without ever smelling it. I t is a heavy scent, but still smells great. The scent is a mix of floral and spice, according to perfume.com.

To review: I got the perfume without ever trying it and was slightly nervous that I wouldn’t like it. I was pleasantly surprised that it was enjoyable and classic.

I’ve been researching other perfumes used by some of our favorite classic actresses such as Lana Turner, Judy Garland and Rita Hayworth. Once I get enough money or can find these perfumes I will review them. Some of them are still sold, but just are not as popular anymore so they are difficult to find.

Check by in November for installment number 6!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.

Trying out October’s beauty tip. Stay tuned for November!