What a Character: Grady Sutton

Grady Sutton, character actor playing anything from a soda jerk to a party guest.

You may recognize him by his southern drawl or pudgy exterior but never have know his name.

In over 200 films and television shows from 1925 to 1979, character actor Grady Sutton can be found acting in scenes with top stars and rarely receiving billing.

But at 6’2” and rather overweight, Sutton is hard to miss and usually stole the scene.

Sutton traveled to Hollywood on vacation as a college student in the 1920s with his roommate, brother of director William Seiter. Sutton was invited on set and used as an extra in the film; starting his expansive movie career.

The Tennessee native could break your heart as he searched for his date, Susie Flemming-who clearly stood him up, at the military dance in “Since You Went Away,” or irritate you as he keeps cutting in on Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby in “White Christmas.”

Looking for Susie Flemming at the dance in “Since You Went Away” (1944)

“I just can’t figure out what happened to Susie Flemming”

Signature blank face while still looking for Susie Flemming

He acted along stars such as Katharine Hepburn in “Alice Adams” (1935) or Carole Lombard in “My Man Godfrey” (1936).

His roles usually consisted of humorous, blundering or confused characters such as James Stewart’s teaching assistant in “Vivacious Lady” (1938).

W.C. Fields, in particular, was a fan of Sutton’s acting and frequently requested to have him in his films, according to Sutton’s 1995 New York Times obituary.

Danny Kaye keeping Grady Sutton from cutting in on Bing Crosby and Rosemarry Clooney in “White Christmas” (1954)

“When the producers told Fields he had to use another actor in “The Bank Dick,” Fields said, ‘Then get yourself another Fields,’ according to the obituary.

Sutton passed away in 89, in Motion Picture and Television Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.

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Actress Beauty Tip #25: Sophia Loren skin

This is the twenty-fifth  installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.  

Sophia Loren in the 1950s in LIFE magazine.

In honor of Sophia Loren’s 78th birthday today, I tried out her secret to health and beauty: olive oil.

The Italian sex symbol and Oscar winner, added a few table spoons of olive oil into her food. She also rubbed olive oil into her skin and added a few cap fulls into her bath to give her skin a glossy glow, according to Glamour.

If you remember, I also tried an olive oil related beauty tip in August, rinsing my hair with olive oil like Rita Hayworth did. Being oily makes my skin crawl, so I didn’t rub it into my skin. So I bathed with olive oil in a different way: I used it to shave my legs.

WARNING: This will leave your shower slippery due to the olive oil, so make sure to use soap to clean your shower afterwords. I’ll admit, I almost fell a few times.

Instead of using soap or shaving cream I used olive oil, after reading that it would give a closer shave.

Not only did it give a really close shave but also left my skin smooth, though slightly greasy.

To review: I liked the results and the slight oiliness wasn’t an issue, the only real annoyance was the mess it left in the shower. Otherwise, I will probably try this again.

Stop by back in October for another classic actress beauty tip. I plan on trying out classic film related make-up tutorials that can be used for Halloween!

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Classics in the Carolinas: Joanne Woodward

  This fall, Comet Over Hollywood is doing a mini-series of “Classics in the Carolinas.” I’ll be spotlighting classic movie related topics in South Carolina (my home state) and North Carolina (where I currently live and work).

In 1942, someone very important graduated from Greenville High School, in Greenville, S.C.: my grandfather, Henry E. Vogel.

Joanne Woodward with her Oscar for “Three Faces of Eve” in 1958.

But another important figure graduated from Greenville High School: Joanne Woodward.

Woodward won an Academy Award for playing a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder in “The Three Faces of Eve” (1957). But in real life, she was the envy of women everywhere as the wife of Paul Newman.

Originally born in Thomasville, Georgia in 1930, Woodward moved to Greenville, S.C., where my family has lived for 14 years, after her parents divorced. A teenager when they moved, Woodward started at Greenville High School as a sophomore and graduated in 1947.

While at Greenville High School she was beauty queen several times, “Sweetheart of 1947” her senior year, nominated “Best Looking” and a member of the cafeteria club, said classmate Catherine Tate in an interview. Woodward also attended Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville.

As a high school student, Woodward also performed in “I Remember Mama,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “Inherit the Wind” with the Greenville Little Theater. She returned to Greenville in 1975 to perform “The Glass Menagerie” with the Greenville Little Theater, refusing a formal driver and was the “same Joanne,” Tate said.

“I don’t know what Joanne Woodward’s ambitions are, but she was a born actress,” said one Greenville Critic in an article about “I Remember Mama” in 1946.

Woodward wanted to go to Clemson University, a South Carolina state college 45 minutes away from Greenville, like her brothers but the college was still an all-male military college at the time. (I wasn’t able to find this story confirmed anywhere, but have always been told that. My family is big Clemson fans, with my parents, sisters, great-grandfather and grandfather attending and my other grandfather holding the position of Dean of Science at the university.)

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in 1955

Woodward went to Lousiana State University where she studied drama and then continued on to New York where she found work in plays and on television. Early in both of their careers, Woodward met Paul Newman. Newman was married at the time, but he eventually divorced and the two were married in 1958 until his death in 2008.

In 1992, Newman donated $50,000 to Clemson University in honor of his father-in-law, Wade Woodward, Jr. who graduated from Clemson in 1922. The money went towards the Green Room at the Brooks Center of Performing Arts, according to a January 1992 Associated Press article.

Woodward is currently living in Connecticut, since Paul Newman passed away in 2008.

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Classics in the Carolinas: Visiting Randolph Scott

    During the month of September, Comet Over Hollywood is doing a mini-series of “Classics in the Carolinas.” I’ll be spotlighting classic movie related topics in South Carolina (my home state) and North Carolina (where I currently live and work).

Handsome Randolph Scott

From playing a Confederate soldier alongside Errol Flynn in “Virginia City” (1940) to Shirley Temple’s kindly neighbor in “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms” (1938), Randolph Scott acted with the top actors in Hollywood.

But before he romanced Irene Dunne in “Roberta” or was roommates with Cary Grant in their “Bachelor Hall,” Scott grew up in the south.

Though born in Orange County, V.A., in 1898, Scott lived most of his life in Charlotte, N.C. where his father, George Scott, worked as a public accountant and owned the firm Scott, Charnley and Co. The Scott family was prestigious prior to Randolph’s Hollywood fame. His father, a graduate of Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., was the Chairman of the Finance Committee in Charlotte and over saw the city’s first published financial statement in the early 1900s.

George Scott also helped modernize Charlotte’s accounting systems for the city’s administration and water department. He also was recognized by the state for drafting of North Carolina’s first certified public accountant law, and he was appointed by the governor to the state board of accountancy.

Randolph Scott left Charlotte in 1917 when he went to fight in World War I. After returning home, he went to Georgia Tech, with dreams of being an All-American football player until he suffered from a back injury. He then became a Tar Heel when he transferred to the University of North Carolina and studied textile engineering and manufacturing.

Scott’s grave in Charlotte, N.C. His wife Patricia is buried here with him.

It was in 1927 that Scott left his home of Charlotte, N.C. and traveled to Hollywood with a letter of introduction from his father to Howard Hughes. He was able to meet Hughes and score a screen test with Cecil B. DeMille.

Randolph Scott acted in musicals with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and starred in comedies, but he found his niche in westerns.

“They have been the mainstay of the industry ever since its beginning. And they have been good to me. Westerns are a type of picture which everybody can see and enjoy,” Scott said. “Westerns always make money. And they always increase a star’s fan following.”

Though he acted with the top Hollywood stars of the 1930s and 1940s, he is underrated and not as well known today as his best friends Fred Astaire and Cary Grant.

His last role was an aging gun slinger in Sam Peckinpah’s “Ride the High Country” (1962), after which he didn’t return to films, living the remainder of his life in Beverly Hills.

“All the old movies are turning up on television, and frankly, making pictures doesn’t interest me too much any more,” he said in 1962.

Scott passed away in 1987 and was buried in childhood home of Charlotte, N.C. His grave is four blocks from his childhood home.

Since I live close to Charlotte, I visited his grave on Sept. 1, 2012, in Elmwood Cemetery. His wife Patricia of 44 years was buried with him.

Paying my respects to Mr. Scott and his wife.

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