Hot off the presses: Unethical reporters in classic films

A man is killed and sent C.O.D. to a Hollywood actress.

Rather than call the police, the actress calls her reporter friend to help her out.

The reporter investigates the case like he’s a detective.

He sneaks in houses searching for clues and finds jewels that can be used as evidence. The reporter then puts the diamonds in an ice cube tray to hide them from police.

Reporter George Brent investigates a murder in "A Corpse Came C.O.D."

Reporter George Brent investigates a murder in “The Corpse Came C.O.D.”

As these events occurred in “The Corpse Came C.O.D.” (1947) starring George Brent and Joan Blondell, my dad turns to me and asks, “I hope you don’t do these things at work.”

Later when Brent gets in a fist fight with a bad guy my dad asks, “Is there anyone at the Star that would be able to do that?”

As a reporter who loves classic movies, I go out of my way to watch films where the hero plays a reporter.

However, if I researched my stories using the same methods that reporters used in films, I would most likely get fired.

Glenda Farrell stars as Torchy Blane, a troublesome and wise-cracking reporter in 1930s films. Blane comically gets her information by hiding in trashcans and bugging rooms, techniques not used by contemporary reporters.

Glenda Farrell stars as Torchy Blane, a troublesome and wise-cracking reporter in 1930s films. Blane comically gets her information by hiding in trashcans and bugging rooms, techniques not used by contemporary reporters.

In classic films, reporters are often solving crimes like a police officer and often receive information by unethical means. At the Shelby Star, we do a lot of research on our stories, but I doubt we will ever solve a crime.

In the 1930s Torchy Blane film series, Torchy is constantly at odds with her detective boyfriend Steve McBride for being where she shouldn’t be.

The nine films follow the wise-cracking female reporter, played by Glenda Farrell, Lola Lane and Jane Wyman.

Torchy can be seen eavesdropping, bugging rooms, hiding in trash cans and following bad guys to get the scoop on a story.

If I hid in a trashcan to find out the latest secrets of Cleveland County, North Carolina, not only would that be breaking media laws, I would also smell pretty bad.

John Qualen hides in a desk in "His Girl Friday."

John Qualen hides in a desk in “His Girl Friday.”

In “His Girl Friday” (1940), reporter Hildy Johnson, played by Rosalind Russell, hides an accused murdered in her rolltop desk to get the scoop on a story. Unfortunately, I don’t have a rolltop desk at work, but even if I did, I’m not sure how the sheriff would feel if I stored suspects in my desk.

In another George Brent film “You Can’t Escape Forever” (1942), managing editor, Brent will get hunches by tugging on his ear like he’s communicating with somebody via Morse code.

Then Brent will come up with a fantastic hunch that he will print in the paper, which usually ends up being true.

If reporters worked solely on hunches without fact checking, the paper would be full of corrections that had to be run, rather than news stories.

In “The Philadelphia Story” (1940) reporters James Stewart and Ruth Hussey pose as family friends at the wedding of Katharine Hepburn. The two are tabloid writers there to get information on the story.

Getting information under false pretenses is unethical by today’s standards and would most likely leave you with a lawsuit.

Though there are several comedic representations of newspapers, there are films that represent journalism in a truer light, such as “The Story of G.I. Joe” (1945) about war journalist Ernie Pyle or “Citizen Kane” (1940) about the power of journalism.

Robert Mitchum and Burgess Meredith (as Ernie Pyle) in World War II film "The Story of G.I. Joe" about reporting on the front lines.

Robert Mitchum and Burgess Meredith (as Ernie Pyle) in World War II film “The Story of G.I. Joe” about reporting on the front lines.

As someone who works in newspapers, I don’t take offense to the unethical journalism in the 1930s and 1940s films, because I know most of it is there for comedic relief.

It doesn’t make me stop watching the films; you just have to take it all with a grain of salt, as you would with any movie.

Clearly newspapers have changed a great deal from the 1930s to today.  However, it does make me wonder how media laws and ethics have changed in the past 75 years.

So for my father: No dad, we don’t do any of that at the Star.

This is part of the Breaking News: Journalism in Classic Films blogathon co-hosted by myself and Lindsay at Lindsay’s Movie Musings. Read all of the wonderful contributions here! 

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This weekend- Breaking News: Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon

Fire up the presses and make sure you meet your deadlines. Breaking News: The Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon is here.

Journalists hosts Comet Over Hollywood and Lindsay’s Movie Musings are excited to announce that we have over 40 bloggers participating.

We look forward to reading your posts about films that feature journalists in the newspaper and broadcast field.

Even if you aren’t signed up, it is never to late to hop in with a post. On the days of the blogathon. Comment on this post and your submission will be linked alongside your name.

Here is the schedule for this weekend:

Saturday, Sept. 21

A Person in the Dark- “Picture Snatcher” (1933)

Another Old Movie Blog- “30″ (1959)

Backlots – “Meet John Doe” (1941)

Caftan Woman- “Five Star Final”

Carole & Co. - “Nothing Sacred”

Cinamalacrum- The Naked City (1948)

Comet Over Hollywood- Portrayal of Reporters in film

Critica Retro- “Ace in the Hole”

Destroy All Fanboys- Akira Kurosawa’s Scandal (1950)

Family Friendly Reviews- Citizen Kane

Famous Dames- “Sweet Smell of Success”

Girl with the White Parasol- Scandal Sheet

Girls Do Film- Sex and the Single Girl

I Started Late and Forgot the Dog- “Crime of Passion”

Jess  in a Yellow Dress- “It Happened One Night” (1934)

Kevin Carr – Roman Holiday

Lindsay’s Movie Musings- “Arise, My Love” (1940)

Movie Classics- “I Cover the Waterfront”

Movie Star Makeover- “The Great Race

Movies, Silently- “The Power of the Press” (1928)

Nitrate Diva- Love on the Run

Sunday, Sept. 22

Immortal Ephemera- Clear all the Wires (1933)

 The Skeins- Come Fill the Cup

Once upon a screen- Christmas in Connecticut

Portraits by Jenni- “Headline Shooter”

Pre-Code- Platinum Blonde (1931)

Silver Scenes – “Libeled Lady”

Silver Screenings- “The Trial of John Peter Zenger”

Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence – “30 Day Princess/Wedding Present”

Stardust- “Philadelphia Story” (1940)

Tales of the Easily Distracted- “Shattered Glass”

The Great Katharine Hepburn and the Golden Age of Hollywood-  “Woman of the Year” (1942)

The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog- Mysterious Mr. Wong

 The Hollywood Revue- Journalists in pre-code films

The Joy and Agony of Movies- “All the President’s Men”

The Kitty Packard Pictorial – “Blessed Event” (1932)

The Man on the Flying Trapeze- Comparing “Front Page” and “His Girl Friday”

The Movie Rat- Doctor X (1932)

They Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To – “Lonelyhearts”

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear- Deadline-USA

True Classics- “His Girl Friday” (1940)

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood - “Teacher’s Pet”

Widescreen World- Each Dawn I Die

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Upcoming Breaking News: Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon

Lindsay’s Movie Musings and Comet Over Hollywood present the Breaking News: Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon!

When: September 21-22, 2013

What: Classic films are filled with stories featuring journalists and journalism. Being newspaperwomen ourselves, we wanted to feature the roving reporters of classic film.

George Brent and Bette Davis in newspaper film "Front Page Woman" (1935)

George Brent and Bette Davis in newspaper film “Front Page Woman” (1935)

How to participate: Pick a movie that focuses or includes journalists as characters or the journalism profession. We do want to keep this “classic film” period (pre-1960) but if you want to write about a film pre-1980s (All the President’s Men, Network etc.) that’s definitely up for grabs. The type of journalism doesn’t matter either: newspapers, television or radio!

Once you’ve picked your movie, shoot either Lindsay or Jessica comment with the header “Breaking News Blogathon” with your film or topic and blog address. We’ll compile a master list and assign everyone one of the two days.

During the blogathon, we’ll publicize your posts on our blogs and on Twitter. We’ll keep a growing master list up on our blogs leading up to the blogathon so you can see what films/topics have been taken, as it’s preferred that there are no repeating topics.

Banners for the even will be up soon.

We look forward to hosting and seeing what great topics everyone comes up with!

Participants:

Comet Over Hollywood- Portrayal of Reporters in film

Lindsay’s Movie Musings- “Arise, My Love” (1940)

Jess  in a Yellow Dress- “It Happened One Night” (1934)

Another Old Movie Blog- “30” (1959)

The Great Katharine Hepburn and the Golden Age of Hollywood-  “Woman of the Year” (1942)

A Person in the Dark- “Picture Snatcher” (1933)

True Classics- “His Girl Friday” (1940)

The Joy and Agony of Movies- “All the President’s Men”

Stardust- “Philadelphia Story” (1940)

Critica Retro- “Ace in the Hole”

The Man on the Flying Trapeze- Comparing “Front Page” and “His Girl Friday”

Portraits by Jenni- “Headline Shooter”

Caftan Woman- “Five Star Final”

Famous Dames- “Sweet Smell of Success”

They Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To – “Lonelyhearts”

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood - “Teacher’s Pet”

Movie Star Makeover- “The Great Race”

Movie Classics- “I Cover the Waterfront”

Tales of the Easily Distracted- “Shattered Glass”

Carole & Co. - “Nothing Sacred”

I Started Late and Forgot the Dog- “Crime of Passion”

Silver Screenings- “The Trial of John Peter Zenger”

Movies, Silently- “The Power of the Press” (1928)

Immortal Ephemera- Clear all the Wires (1933)

The Movie Rat- Doctor X (1932)

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear- Deadline-USA

The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog- Mysterious Mr. Wong

Widescreen World- Each Dawn I Die

Girl with the White Parasol- Scandal Sheet

Silver Scenes – “Libeled Lady”

Once upon a screen- Christmas in Connecticut

Pre-Code- Platinum Blonde (1931)

 The Hollywood Revue- Journalists in pre-code films

Girls Do Film- Sex and the Single Girl

Family Friendly Reviews- Citizen Kane

Nitrate Diva- Love on the Run

Destroy All Fanboys- Akira Kurosawa’s Scandal (1950)

Cinamalacrum- The Naked City (1948)

The Movie Rat- Doctor X (1932)

Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence – “30 Day Princess/Wedding Present”

Kevin Carr – Roman Holiday

Doris Day: From Hollywood party to leading role

romance on the high seasGeorgia Garrett is a fast talking, cigarette smoking, flirtatious night club singer–and she is the character played by Doris Day in her very first film “Romance on the High Seas” (1948).

While other actresses worked their way up to stardom through bit parts and uncredited roles, Day starred in her first movie.

And she continued starring in all 41 of her films from 1948 to 1968.

In the film, newly married Elvira Kent (Janis Paige) and Michael Kent (Don DeFore) worry that the other spouse is having an affair.

Georgia, a broke singer in a sleazy nightclub, frequents the travel agency and plans trips she never goes on and gets passport photos taken each time. Elvira meets Georgia in the travel agency while booking her trip to South America.

“But you have already had seven passport photos taken,” one travel agent says.

“But never as a blond,” Georgia coyly says.

Day as Georgia Garrett in the travel agency

Day as Georgia Garrett in the travel agency

On their third wedding anniversary, the Kents have to cancel a third anniversary trip due to business.  Michael tells Elvira to go without him.

Suspecting that Michael is going to fool around with his pretty new secretary, Elvira sends Georgia on the cruise in her place so she can stay behind and spy on her husband.

Also afraid that his wife is going to fool around on the cruise without him, Michael sends private detective Peter Virgil (Jack Carson) on the cruise to look after his wife.

Paige as Elvira instructing Day as Garrett

Paige as Elvira instructing Day as Garrett

Georgia, while posing as Elvira Kent, falls for Peter, and Peter thinks he is going to lose his job.

Romance on the High Seas” isn’t Doris Day’s most well-known film, but it’s my favorite.

While in the 1950s and 1960s Day was known for her squeaky clean, virginal persona, but her character in “Romance” has some sass.

Day started her career as a girl singer in 1939 for big band leaders such as Les Brown and Bob Crosby, brother of Bing Crosby.

By 1945, she had her first hit with “Sentimental Journey” which resonated with soldiers fighting over seas. More hits followed such as “My Dreams are Getting Better all the Time.”

“In a sense, ‘Sentimental Journey’ became the serviceman’s theme song,” Day wrote in her autobiography, “Doris Day: Her Own Story.

Before heading back East after a visit to Los Angeles, Day was convinced to attend a party at the home of Jule Styne, an American songwriter.

When everyone started performing songs at the party, Day began to get uneasy.

Day as a nightclub singer singing "I'm in Love"

Day as a nightclub singer singing “I’m in Love”

“These people loved singing for each other but I am painfully shy at parties, and particularly shy about performing impromptu,” she wrote.

Day was also going through a divorce at the time with child actress Virginia Weidler’s older brother, George.

She was asked to sing and was convinced to sing the chorus of “Embraceable You.”

The Gershwin tune landed Day her first film role, as the star of a musical comedy.

Styne wrote the score to the Warner Brothers film “Romance on the High Seas.” Judy Garland was originally slated to play Georgia Garrett, but the deal fell through.

Then Betty Hutton was set for the film, but she got pregnant and couldn’t be in the film, according to Day’s autobiography.

“Acting in films had never so much crossed my mind. I was a singer…” she wrote. “They kept telling me how lucky I was to be testing for the lead in a major musical and how many girls would die to be in my shoes, but I was sitting glumly looking out the window, only half listening.”

Her look was made to resemble Betty Hutton and she was encouraged to sing in Hutton’s signature energetic style during the test.

“But when we shot the scene, I did it my own way,” she wrote. “I instinctively understood something then that was to sustain with me through all the years that followed-to thine own self be true. Don’t imitate.”

Jack Carson and Doris Day meet on board the ship

Jack Carson and Doris Day meet on board the ship

Through being herself, Day gives a hilarious performance in the sparklingly musical, comedy which included one of her top hit songs, “It’s Magic.”

After the film became a hit, Day’s option was picked up for more Warner films. However, she wasn’t pleased with the movie. She dressed very casually and didn’t like the ultra glamorous look she had in the film.

Though Day wasn’t pleased with her first film appearance, “Romance on the High Seas” is my favorite Doris Day film—and I have seen all but two of her movies.

Along with the main cast of Jack Carson, Day, Don DeFore and Janis Paige—the movie has top notch character actors. Supporting actors include S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, Oscar Levant and Eric Blore.

Paige and Day would later star with each other again in “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” (1960). Carson starred with Day in her next two films “It’s a Great Feeling” (1949) and “My Dream Is Yours” (1949).

“Romance on the High Seas” has it all: glamorous wardrobes, sparkling color, hilarious jokes and quality songs written by Sammy Kahn and Jules Styne.

Though Day is best known for her bedroom farce films such as “Pillow Talk” (1959) with Universal, her early Warner Brothers films are some of her best.

Fresh faced films, sunny and shining with Day’s smile.

This is part of the Summer Under the Stars blogathon. Check here for other posts on Doris Day.

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

1-Adam-12…1-Adam-12

During a time when law enforcement and the military weren’t popular in the United States, Officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed patrolled the streets of Los Angeles.

Kent McCord as Jim Reed and Martin Milner as Pete Malloy in "Adam-12" (Source: KentMcCord.com)

Kent McCord as Jim Reed and Martin Milner as Pete Malloy in “Adam-12″ (Source: KentMcCord.com)

From September 1968 to May 1975, the two officers arrested murderers, lectured motorcyclists and helped women in childbirth in the television show “Adam-12” starring Martin Milner (Malloy) and Kent McCord (Reed).
Produced by Jack Webb, who also created “Dragnet” and “Emergency,” the show portrays the professionalism of police officers and police departments. Webb made the shows so accurate that some police academies used the shows for training, according to IMDB.
To keep the accuracy, Reed’s badge was even changed from “Policeman” to “Police Officer,” according to Adam12Code3.com.
Pop culture
Adam-12 ” shows the military style of the police force while showing that Reed and Malloy were young, contemporary and had lives outside the force.
For example, Malloy was set up on blind dates and Reed and his wife have a baby. On their day’s off, Malloy can be seen driving muscle cars and both wear loud, floral shirts-fashionable at the time.
The show conveyed realistic issues relevant to the late-1960s and 1970s:
-Marijuana use and addiction to pills, heroin and other drugs
-Teenagers running away from home to travel to San Francisco
-Disrespect for law enforcement with use of terms such as “down with the pigs”
Guest stars
Popular celebrities of the time and old Hollywood stars frequently showed up on Adam-12, making the show an extra treat for current day pop culture fans. Some of these included:
-Child star Margaret O’Brien as a the mother to a delinquent child-Season Three, Episode 12

Child actress Margaret O'Brien plays mother to child delinquent Buddy Foster (brother of Jodie Foster) in the 1970 episode "Sign of the Twins" (Source: KentMcCord.com)

Child actress Margaret O’Brien plays mother to child delinquent Buddy Foster (brother of Jodie Foster) in the 1970 episode “Sign of the Twins” (Source: KentMcCord.com)

-Actor John Kerr as a priest- Season Two, episode 8
-Leave it to Beaver actor Tony Dow as a ex-Marine who’s car is stolen by a girl-Season Three, episode 5
-Monkees singer Mickey Dolenz as a police hating motorcyclist- Season Five, episode 1

The Cross Over
Since Webb produced “Dragnet,” “Adam-12” and “Emergency” and all were set in Los Angeles—the shows overlap throughout the years.
Emergency” started in 1972, when “Adam-12” was in its fifth season. On “Emergency,” you will occasionally see the officers drop by Rampart Hospital, the hospital “Emergency!” paramedics report to, in episodes.

Milner and McCord with Julie London as Dixie McCall-an "Emergency!" character

Milner and McCord with Julie London as Dixie McCall-an “Emergency!” character

In season 5, episode 4 of “Adam-12” called “Lost and Found,” the police officers take a young boy to Rampart Hospital. There they run into “Emergency!” characters such as Nurse Dixie McCall (Julie London), Paramedic Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe), Paramedic Johnny Gage (Randolph Mantooth) and Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller).
Supporting actors of “Adam-12” also can be seen in “Emergency!” Bing Crosby’s son, Gary Crosby plays a police officer in “Adam-12” and a paramedic in “Emergency!” In both shows, Crosby’s character is a bit of a show off, taking credit he doesn’t deserve.
Actor Marco Lopez can be seen as an officer in “Adam-12,” but has a larger role in “Emergency!” as Firefighter Marco Lopez.

What’s so special about Adam-12?
“Adam-12” was certainly not the only police show on television during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Others included:
-“The FBI” (1965 to 1974) starring Stephen Brooks and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. telling different F.B.I. cases.
-“Hawaii Five-0” (1968 to 1980) starring Jack Lord and James McArthur about a detective who is the head of the special state police task force
-“Ironside” (1967 to 1975) starring Raymond Burr who is a paraplegic detective
– “Mannix” (1967 to 1975) starring Mike Connors who plays a private investigator
-“The Mod Squad” (1968 to 1973) starring Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III, Peggy Lipton, Tige Andrews who play “hippie” undercover cops.
Most of the crime shows on television during this time seemed to focus on daring detectives or spies, a popular topic due to the Cold War and films such as James Bond.
However, Adam-12 is one of the few TV series that showed the honest day-to-day approach of the men in blue. Reed and Malloy patrolled the streets, chased criminals through alleyways and sometimes found time to stop and eat a hamburger.

Milner, McCord and Bill Boyet. (Source: KentMcCord.com)

Milner, McCord and Bill Boyet. (Source: KentMcCord.com)

The television show doesn’t present their job in a glamorous but as a realistic and necessary job.
When “pig” was a popular term for police officers, Webb tried to present the police force fair. And on top of that, Reed and Malloy were attractive and pretty darn cool.
In my opinion, “Adam-12” is one of the best police shows ever made. It doesn’t clog the plot with pointless drama but keeps on target with the topic of officers keeping law and order.

This post is part of the MeTV blogathon. Check out more classic TV posts here.

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An influential mermaid

My dear friends at True Classics has invited bloggers to share their “Movie Memories” during the month of June. I am honored that I was invited to participate . Head to True Classics to read the other marvelous posts!

little mermaid

Little Mermaid

I remember sitting in a dim theater and looking at lit up designs on the wall.

It was 1989 and I was about a year old, but I remember. Somehow I have an uncanny memory.

The Little Mermaid” was the last Disney feature film to be animated with hand painted cells and it was my first movie in a movie theater.

Though “The Little Mermaid” isn’t necessarily a classic film, I was very attached to the movie when I was very young. It introduced me to a love of movies and movie characters.

My sisters tell me I used to roll around in the bath water while my mother would try to bathe me pretending to be a mermaid like Ariel. A Christmas Day home video shows me excitedly playing with a new Ariel Barbie while trying to sing tunes from the film.

I even remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. She said, “You can’t, you have to be born a mermaid.” I found this to be a very puzzling statement.

cinderella2

Cinderella

My parents always took my sisters and me to see the new Disney cartoons but also introduced us to the classic Disney films. Cinderella (1950) was another favorite of mine at a young age.

The Little Mermaid” and “Cinderella” are typical favorite films for little girls between the age of two to six, and maybe even older.

Several years later in 1997, I saw another film that affected the way I viewed movies. In third grade, I fell in love with the Twentieth Century Fox animated film “Anastasia.”

anastasia

Anastasia

I was obsessed.  I wore a locket like in the film, learned the dances, studied Romanov history and wished I was the lost princess Anastasia Romanov. My mom told me that wouldn’t be possible. But this time I understood what she meant.

The movie interested me in history and the 1920s since the song “Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart” has cameos from Josephine Baker and Maurice Chevalier.

Again, another movie changed the way I looked at things.

At the age of 14, my dad decided to introduce me to “West Side Story.” I remember it was March and I was on spring break.

West Side Story mambo scene

West Side Story mambo scene

West Side Story” changed the way I looked at film and solidified my love for classic movies. It’s what led me to watch 501 musicals and thousands of other classic films.

But my film love all started with “The Little Mermaid.”

As I sat in the movie theater, not even two years old, my life was change. Movies became important to me at an early age, shaping my interests and world views.

Who would have thought that a disobedient teenage mermaid could be so influential.

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Searching for ‘Rosebud:’ Child star searches for himself in autobiography

Dickie Moore with Pete the Pup in "Our Gang" in 1930. Moore said he didn't enjoy the Hal Roach series because he didn't feel he fit in

Dickie Moore with Pete the Pup in “Our Gang” in 1930. Moore said he didn’t enjoy the Hal Roach series because he didn’t feel he fit in

Dick Moore was searching for his “Rosebud.”

In “Citizen Kane,” a sled with the word “Rosebud” was the key to Charles Foster Kane’s lost childhood.

For Moore, early memories were a slew of movie scenes with James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck and Paul Muni. He was the breadwinner for his out of work parents and went to school at a studio with other acting children.

His childhood was far a normal childhood of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and playing at recess.

bookIn Dick Moore’s book, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (but don’t have sex or take the car),” Moore shares his memories of performing as child star Dickie Moore and interviews 31 child actors to see how their experiences compare to his.

Some of these actors include Stymie of Our Gang, Roddy McDowall, Jane Powell, Jane Withers, Jackie Coogan, Edith Fellows, Natalie Wood, Jackie Cooper, Shirley Temple, Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary) and Peggy Ann Garner.

“All of us shared common lives and times, huge responsibilities and salaries that shriveled fathers’ egos,” Moore wrote

Some children wanted to go into show business, like Jane Withers. Others were pushed by their mothers (or saber-tooth tigers of the Hollywood jungle, according to Diana Cary), like Natalie Wood who sat on a director’s lap and sing him a song while a movie was location in Santa Rosa. And some happened by accident.

Moore was one of those accidents. A friend of a friend of his mother’s was a casting director who happened to stop by the Moore home. The studio pursued Mrs. Moore for Dickie to be in pictures. She said no, but finally gave in since Dickie’s father was out of work.

Dickie was 11 months old in his first film and playing John Barrymore as a baby.

Once Moore started acting, his father had an even more difficult time finding work. Employers assumed he made enough money and other parents brought their children to see Mr. Moore at work, hoping he could put them in films. Mr. Temple had the same problem.

The book explores how each child got into films, their home life, the affect on non-acting siblings and birthday parties.

Most of the young actors’ parties were opportunities for publicity and magazine photographers to put their faces in magazines.

“Everyone was posing. The whole business of publicity made parties seem synthetic. If you have a party, it’s supposed to just be with people,” said actor Gene Reynolds. “But most of our parties were stunt to get pictures in magazines so where is the fun in that?”

Shirley Temple cutting the cake at her birthday party in 1935.

Shirley Temple cutting the cake at her birthday party in 1935.

Shirley Temple, the first child to carry a full weight picture on her own, would have three birthday parties each year: one with other child actors, one on set with the crew and one with her family.

“The parties were endless…Fox would have one for a large number of people I didn’t know, a lot of children I’d never seen in my life and would never seen again. And I was he hostess. It was kind of strange. I figured it was part of my job.”

Temple was also very isolated, as were many children. Moore’s parents allowed him freedom to play outside while others had no friends.

“Parents often discouraged their children from forming solid friendships because friends might tell each other about a part that was coming up and then, from the parents’ point of view, that wrong child would get the job,” Moore wrote.

Competition was high among child actors: Who could cry the best on cue, lying about ages to be younger and trying to look young, i.e. pigtails, short dresses.

Adult co-stars and their treatment to youngsters are discussed in the book. Marlene Dietrich was warm and friendly in “The Blue Angel,” Franchet Tone taught him how to play chess during “The Bride Wore Red” and Gary Cooper suggested what type of gun Moore should buy.

Moore with Barbara Stanwyck in "So Big"

Moore with Barbara Stanwyck in “So Big”

But Moore’s favorite female adult star was Barbara Stanwyck was Moore’s favorite in “So Big.”

“Affectionate and demonstrative, she was easy to understand. She talked but didn’t fuss,” Moore wrote. “She was a direct and gracious woman, who seemed extremely interested in whatever interested me.”

Unanimously children liked working with Spencer Tracy because he would look right at you during a scene and listen to your lines.

Bobs Watson followed Tracy around during “Boys Town.”

“Often after a scene, he’d reach over and hug me and take me on his lap,” Watson said. “I felt like a little puppy. I would follow him around and stand close, hoping it would call me over and he often would.”

The two most disliked were W.C Fields and Wallace Beery.

“We did four long film together,” Jackie Cooper said about Beery. “They couldn’t find eight guys to carry his casket.”

Margaret O’Brien said he stole her lunch and Jane Powell said he would steal props off the set.

Two children got along with him: Darryl Hickman and Jackie Coogan.

Coogan’s father was a veteran in the business and it seems some of the tougher actors respected him because of this.

W.C. Fields and Gloria Jean in "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break."

W.C. Fields and Gloria Jean in “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.”

Fields notoriously disliked children and was known for getting drunk while filming. But Gloria Jean got along with him, because she tried to look out for him.

While the book tells some humorous and heartwarming stories, there is an underlying sadness. It’s like reading Romeo and Juliet and knowing the lovers die at the end of the play.

You know that for many of the child stars, their career would come to an end.

Children such as Jackie Coogan and Baby Peggy faced financial problems when their family member squandered or stole the millions they had earned for their family.

The biggest fear for a child star is to age, as many faded away when they got older. Moore was in magazines and on ice cream lids (similar to baseball cards) until he had scarlet fever and was away from the screen for a year, taking him back to the bottom.

Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary) and her fan mail.

Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary) and her fan mail.

Baby Peggy felt she was a has-been at five.

Others like Jackie Cooper, Natalie Wood and Roddy McDowall went on to have a successful adult life.

But many child stars, even Jane Withers who loved acting, did not wish for their children to go into the business-they wanted them to have a normal childhood.

“They were wrong,” Roddy McDowall told Moore. “They were wrong to take us children and do that to our lives, to twist our environment in that way and then leave it for us to sort out.”

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star..” is one of the best classic Hollywood books I have ever read about one of the most complicated and fascinating subjects.

If you can find it for a decent price, I highly suggest it.

This is part of my Children in Film blogathon. Read all of the entries here: http://cometoverhollywood.com/2013/05/24/children-in-films-blogathon-the-contributors/

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

Children in Films Blogathon: The Contributors

I can’t believe the Children in Films blogathon weekend is finally here!

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This will be the post where you can read Friday through Sunday’s contributions.

Post your links as comments on the page or e-mail me at CometOverHollywood@gmail.com (or pickensj2@gmail.com) and I will link to them on here.

Have fun, everyone!

Friday, May 24:

The Lady Eve had the opportunity to interview Edna May Wonacott- who played Ann Newton in “Shadow of a Doubt.”

A Person in the Dark shares her lifelong love for Hayley Mills from watching her movies to buying her records and wanting to dress like her.

Portraits by Jenni explores Jane Withers‘s career and her performance in “Bright Eyes” with Shirley Temple.

Movies, Silently reviews the book “The Keystone Kid: Tales of Early Hollywood” by Coy Watson, Jr. (brother to Delmar and Bobs Watson). I hadn’t heard of this book but am tempted to buy it today!

Silver Screenings discusses old soul Billy Chapin in “The Kid from Left Field” (1953). Chapin also starred in “Night of the Hunter” with Robert Mitchum.

The Motion Pictures explores Skip Homeier‘s typecasting after his role in “Tomorrow, the World.”

Another type-casted actor was Jackie Searl. The Movie Rat explores the differences between his typecast, bad kid roles and when he played a more moral character.

Critica Retro looks at the similarities between child actors Roddy McDowall and Dean Stockwell. 

Saturday, May 25

Journey into films discusses Sandra Dee and her dislike for “A Summer Place.”

Shirley Temple, the most famous child of the 1930s, is discussed by Close Ups and Long Shots.

Girls Do Film talks about the first child star, Jackie Coogan and his transition into adulthood.

Remember when director Ron Howard was child star Ronny Howard? Wide Screen World explores Howard’s career in his younger years.

Classic Movies talks about the adorable Gigi Perreau. Not as well known today but played children to Bette Davis and Greer Garson.

Sunday, May 26

Baby Peggy‘s career ended as quickly as it began. Hollywood Revue discusses the child star’s hardships and how she overcame that as an adult.

Let’s Go to the Movies writes about one of Hollywood’s greatest crier, Margaret O’Brien.

The young man with the deep voice. Once Upon a Screen discusses George “Foghorn” Winslow.

The Joy and Agony of Movies reviews Peggy Ann Garner’s performance in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Silver Screens fondly remembers the “beloved brat,” Bonita Granville.

The Movie Rat comes back with a second post about the rarity of children nominated for Oscars and the Juvenile Oscar.

Bobby Henrey was in two films, one a success and one a flop, according to the Nitrate Diva.

My post on Dickie Moore’s 1984 book “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and don’t have sex or take the car.” 

Coming this weekend: Children in Films Blogathon

It’s almost here!

This weekend (May 24 to May 26) we celebrate child actors that light up the silver screen. Will you discuss Hollywood’s great criers like Jackie Cooper or Margaret O’Brien? Or maybe so ugly that he’s cute, Butch Jenkins?

Here’s how it will go: On Friday, Saturday and Sunday you can comment on the post where I will be linking to blogs or you can e-mail me at CometOverHollywood@gmail.com. Anyone is welcome!

Participants:

Comet Over Hollywood- Review of Dickie Moore’s book “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (And Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car)

My Love of Old Hollywood- Freddie Bartholomew

Journeys in Classic Films- Sandra Dee in Summer Place

Hollywood Revue Blog – Baby Peggy

A Person in the Dark- Hayley Mills

The Motion Pictures- Skippy Homeier

The Filmelist 

Portraits by Jenni – Jane Withers

Girls Do Film- Jackie Coogan

Critica Retro- Dean Stockwell and Roddy MacDowall

Once Upon A Screen- George Winslow

Silver Screenings- Billy Chaplin

The Lady Eve- Edna May Wonacott

Classic Movies Blog- Gigi Perreau

Movies Silently- Review of book “The Keystone Kid: Tales of Early Hollywood”

Wide Screen World- Ron Howard

Let’s Go See the Stars- Margaret O’Brien

The Movie Rat- Jackie Searl and Juvenile Oscars

The Joy and Agony of Movies- Peggy Ann Garner

Silver Screen’s Blog- Bonita Granville

Nitrate Diva- Bobby Henrey  or  George “Foghorn” Winslow

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

Children in Film Blogathon (May 24-26, 2013) update

Hello there everyone!

Here’s an update on the Children in Film Blogathon coming up May 24 through May 26.

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Here are the blogs participating so far: 

Comet Over Hollywood- Review of Dickie Moore’s book “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (And Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car)

My Love of Old Hollywood- Freddie Bartholomew

Journeys in Classic Films-Natalie Wood or Sandra Dee

Hollywood Revue Blog – Baby Peggy

A Person in the Dark- Hayley Mills

The Motion Pictures- Skippy Homeier

The Filmelist 

Portraits by Jenni – Jane Withers

Girls Do Film- Jackie Coogan

Critica Retro- Dean Stockwell and Roddy MacDowall

Once Upon A Screen- George Winslow

Silver Screenings- Billy Chaplin

The Lady Eve- Edna May Wonacott

Classic Movies Blog- Gigi Perreau

Movies Silently- Review of book “The Keystone Kid: Tales of Early Hollywood”

Wide Screen World- Ron Howard

Let’s Go See the Stars- Margaret O’Brien

The Movie Rat

The Joy and Agony of Movies- Peggy Ann Garner

Again, this blogathon includes any child actor or actress who performed in films or on television. Topics can vary from a specific individual, non-profits who help young actors or to general treatment of children in the Golden Era.

For those who are still interested, leave a comment and I will add you to the list.

Having a hard time thinking of a child star? Just ask or visit classicmoviekid.com which has a fairly good list of names of child actors.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.