Classic Christmas Addiction

Part of why I love Christmas is getting to watch my favorite classic holiday films such as “Christmas in Connecticut”, “White Christmas” and “Remember the Night.”

But I also love looking at Christmas related photos with classic actors and actresses.

Every day since December 1, I’ve been posting a Christmas related photo on Comet Over Hollywood’s Facebook Page, and searching for the day’s photo can be an addicting task.

Even long after I find the photo of the day, I keep browsing-marveling at the ridiculousness of vintage Christmas photos.

I’ve found these classic photos can be divided into categories. Here are some examples:

Glamour: These photos show actors looking beautiful and wealthy at their homes during Christmas.

gina

Gina Lollabrigida looking glamorous in her Christmas tree

Copy of Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard

glam paulette goddard

Paulette Goddard

glam jean harlow1

Jean Harlow

glam Anite Page

Anita Page in 1932

glam christmas jennifer jones

Jennifer Jones

Adorable and cute: These involve child actors or actresses looking sweet and angelic. 

cute jackie cooper

Jackie Cooper

Bacall And Bogart

The Bogart: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and their son Stephen.

cute leslie

Joan Leslie

cute keatons

Buster Keaton and Natalie Talmadge with Junior and Bob

cute our gang

The children of Our Gang

cuteNatalie Wood

Little Natalie Wood

cute Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple in 1935

cute Priscilla Lane

Priscilla Lane

rita hayworth

Rita Hayworth

Ridiculous or funny: Photos that try way to hard to make a photo Christmasy or make it a sexy Christmas photo.

Dorothy Jordan and Gwenn Lee, I don't even understand what's happening.

Dorothy Jordan and Gwenn Lee, I don’t even understand what’s happening.

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford flirting with Santa in 1932

Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh with a Christmas tree hat

Esther Williams

Esther Williams in unreasonable winter clothing

funny Maureen Osullivan

Maureen O’Sullivan…..dressed as a choir boy.

funny Margaret Obrien

Margaret O’Brien…wrapped as a package?

funny Clifton Webb

Clifton Webb as the most unlikely Santa Claus

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“I felt so low I could walk under a dachshund on stilts”

Dachshunds are probably the cutest dog to ever walk the planet. Maybe I’m a little biased, but their foot long torsos, stubby little legs, floppy ears and clown-like mischievousness is hard to resist. No wonder so many actors and actresses had these adorable hot dogs.

I generally don’t do long strings of photo posts, but I have noticed that lots of these cute German dogs pop up in movies and in celebrity homes. I also am really homesick for my best four-legged friend, Molly. Here is a list of stars who had these cute dogs:

*The quote above is from the Clara Bow silent film “It” (1927)

French Charles Boyer and English Ronald Colman cuddle the little German

Crawford and her famous Baby and Boopshem

Davies and her dachsie

Jean Harlow and her pup

Walter Huston and his dog spending quality time

Alan Ladd with his two children

Diana Lewis (aka Mrs. William Powell) and her doggie

Adolphe Menjou and his puppy

Even The Duke had a dachshund

Author of the blog and her dachshund Molly, Christmas 2009

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Happy New Years from a dancing daughter

It’s true, I enjoy dancing a good bit.

But I was actually referencing Joan Crawford in “Our Dancing Daughters” (1928) who is pictured before being the personification of youth of the 1920s.  “Dancing Daughters” was the first of a trio of movies that followed each other but were completely unrelated.  It was followed by “Our Modern Maidens” (1929) and “Our Blushing Brides” (1930).   All three starred 1920s stars Anita Page and Joan Crawford; and Dorothy Sebastian was in two of the three films.

It’s funny for people today to think of Joan Crawford as “the personification of youth” like she was known in the 1920s.  Now, you say Joan Crawford and people think “Mommie Dearest” (if you actually believe that) and the film “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” It’s funny to look at the transitions she went through from her career in silent films in the 1920s to silly horror movies in the 1960s.

Much like Crawford’s transition, we are making a transition from 2010 to 2011 this New Year’s Eve. I will also be making a huge transition: graduating from college in May and hopefully finding a job at a newspaper. Happy New Years everyone! Hopefully this year will be MUCH better than the last.

Joan Crawford dancing on a table in “Our Dancing Daughters” (1928)

Classic film related new years resolutions:

1.  Keep working hard to finish my actor lists

2. Make my huge, long “All Movies I’ve Ever Seen” list

3. Finish my fan mail before more people die

4. Blog more regularly 

5. Keep plotting on how to meet Robert Osborne

*This month’s beauty tip will be a couple of days late. I haven’t had a chance to try it out due to holiday festivities.

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“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.

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Star Collector

anita
Anita Page in the 1920’s. At one point she had more fan mail than Greta Garbo.

Not only am I old-fashioned in my movie tastes, but I am also pretty passe as a movie fan.

I write fan mail.

You may be thinking, “Who does that anymore?” A surprising amount do continue to write to stars like Debbie Reynolds, Tony Curtis and Elizabeth Taylor. No one writes the stars of today, though, like Angelina Jolie, Orlando Bloom or Jennifer Aniston. Why is this? Because they won’t answer…that is if you can even find an address to write to.

I get my fan mail addresses from an autograph database called StarTiger.com. On the website you can search virtually any movie star, singer or sports player. Each star has their own profile page. On this page there is a list of addresses that you can contact them.

Users comments on the address and rate them with success ratings on if they received an autograph, how fast it was returned or they note if they got an answer at all. There are messages boards for each address where autograph hunters tell what they sent (such as a self-addressed, stamped envelope with two 4×6 photos) and what they got back (such as they signed one picture and left the other unsigned).

I discovered Star Tiger in 8th grade in 2003 for keyboarding class where we were practicing our letter writing skills by writing to famous people. At the time the website was known as Star Archives and was free (users now have to pay a monthly fee). While the rest of my class chose famous rappers like 50 cent and actresses like Sandra Bullock, 14-year-old Jessica Pickens of course chose Doris Day.

This was the first of many fan letters I ever wrote. I wrote to Doris about how much I loved her movies, how she brightened my day and that I used her as a role model to try to keep a sunny disposition. A few weeks after sending off the letter, I was the only student in the class to receive an autographed picture and a nice letter from Ms. Day inviting me to donate money towards her animal foundation.

After this I made lists of stars I wanted to write. Since then I have sent off fan letters twice; sophomore year of high school sophomore year of college.

Unfortunately, there are mournful times when I have to cross a name off a list when a star dies. Some instances have been with June Allyson in July 2006, Cyd Charisse in June 2008 and Kathryn Grayson in February 2010.

Writing fan letters to 70, 80 and 90-year-old movie stars might seem greedy. I will admit that part of it is selfish. I want autographs and to be part of that classic film culture and era, but that isn’t all of it. I want classic stars to know that they are still thought about. That their films are still watched, that they are still loved and a young lady in Greenville, S.C. really looks up to them.

I am showing that I appreciate the stars with my fan mail. The classic actors also show that they appreciate me by responding with autographs. Classic film actors REALIZE that they way they became movie stars is through their fans watching their movies and reading about them in the fan magazines.

Joan Crawford might have a bad reputation from that book of lies “Mommy Dearest” by Christine Crawford. However, Crawford knew she was famous because of her fans and answered each piece of fan mail personally, according to Divas the Site.

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford signing autographs. Photo taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull in 1933

I’ve also read accounts of people who have seen stars like Van Johnson or Walter Pidgeon who happily stop and sign autographs.
Van
Van Johnson with fans.

Fans used to confuse Lana Turner and Betty Grable, and when either was approached and mistaken for the other, they would sign autographs with the other’s name rather than getting angry and yelling at the fans.

Grable lana
Betty Grable and Lana Turner sometimes were confused because of their platinum locks.

It’s hard for movie viewers of today to hear things like this while the movie stars of today are not as accomodating. In fact they are the opposite. They run from autograph seekers, scream if you call them the wrong name and do not answer fan mail.

Today’s celebrities need to realize that they would be nothing without their fans.

Autographs in order that they were recieved:

1. Doris Day (My first autograph in 8th grade)

doris2

2. Deanna Durbin

3. Esther Williams

4. June Allyson (signed notecard. I was going to send a letter with a picture but she died before I got the chance)

5. Vera Miles, along with a nice note

Vera Picture Vera Letter

6. Annette Funicello (One of my favorites. She signed it herself, which was a great surprise and treat because since she has MS I had heard her husband signed them)

Annette

7. Joan Fontaine

8. Lauren Bacall

9. Ann Blyth

10. Jane Powell

11. Joan Leslie (so sweet and added cardboard to back her picture)

12. Elizabeth Taylor

13. Paul Newman (shortly before his death)

Paul

14. Shirley Temple- sent 2 pictures; one young and one teenaged signed both.
Shirley young Shirley old

15. Van Johnson- again shortly before his death

16. Debbie Reynolds

17. Julie Andrews- pre-signed. I have read she is the worst person for autographs

18. Maureen O’Hara- A real treat and a hard person to contact. Autograph came from Ireland!

Maureen

19. Audrey Totter

20. Doris Day- I wrote her again.

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Let’s talk about a little pet peeve of mine…

Andy Hardy

Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) surrounded by Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford), Betsy Booth (Judy Garland) and Cynthia Potter (Lana Turner).

How I define a classic movie fan and my pet peeve of the old movie ‘posers’ . I know I am a little fanatical and old movies are my life, but if you are going to claim to like old movies you have to know your stuff.

Another thing that drives me crazy is what consumers and manufacturers consider when it comes to classic movie merchandise (not including books, there is an abundance of wonderful film books). Everywhere you go, you see mugs, purses, T-shirts, magnets, etc with four people on them 1.) Marilyn Monroe 2.) Audrey Hepburn 3.) James Dean 4.) John Wayne. Then I go to Los Angeles with high hopes of Doris Day and Esther Williams merchandise, but I was quickly dismayed. In Hollywood, the movie mecca of the world, they still carried the same crap that they sell in Greenville, South Carolina. (Don’t get me wrong, I like Dean, Wayne and Hepburn but I want some variety.)

Purse

James Dean handbag

In my conversations with supposed old movie fans, there are typical answers that people give me that drive me up the wall. Here is a list which separates the men from the boys when it comes to classic films:

1.) When I ask which old movies they like they say they love all Audrey Hepburn films, which for many only includes Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Sabrina (1954) and Roman Holiday (1953). When I continue to question they basically say that the only old movies they have seen are Audrey Hepburn’s. This does not qualify you as an old movie fanatic, but possibly an Audrey fanatic.

Breakfast

A picture that hangs in almost every sorority girl’s dorm room.

2.) Some people say they are old movie fans and proceed to list classic movies that they have seen, but are the very typical classics that EVERYONE has seen like Casablanca (1942) , Gone With the Wind (1939), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and The Searchers (1956). These are all lovely movies, but they are certainly not the ONLY old movies out there.

3.) When you like the remake better than the original. I don’t care what you say, saying You’ve Got Mail (1998) is way better than Shop Around the Corner (1940) is practically blasphemous! Ernst Lubitsch (director of Shop Around the Corner) was one of the best, most celebrated and most sought after directors in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Lubitsch has 74 director credits to his name. Whoever Nora Ephron is (director of You’ve Got Mail) is basically a nobody. She has directed all of 8 films and is not nearly the caliber that Lubitsch was or ever will be. I also don’t particularly care for the 1949 remake of Shop Around the Corner, titled In the Good Old Summertime starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson. Even if it does have Van Johnson in it, the love me life, it is rather weak and features some really stupid songs like “I Don’t Care” which seems to last for ten minutes. I say this to show that it is not because I dislike Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks, I am showing that I don’t like any remake, Van Johnson or no Van Johnson.

Shop

James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in Shop Around the Corner.

And don’t even get me started on The Women (2008) Eva Mendes as Crystal!? Robert Osborne even scoffed at the 2008 remake while he was introducing the 1939 version on Turner Classic Movies this month. How anyone can think that Meg Ryan, Annette Benning and Eva Mendes could ever be half the actresses that Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford were is laughable. The Women (1939) was also remade in 1956 as The Opposite Sex with one of my favorite actresses, June Allyson, but it stunk as well. The whole charm of The Women (1939) is that it is an all female cast, no men to be found, and shows the cattiness and hypocrisy of women who claim they are friends. The Opposite Sex had men in it, and the 2008 version of The Women celebrated women’s friendship and togetherness. What? Again, I wanted to note that I disliked the 1956 version to show that it was not just recent remakes that I was prejudiced against, it is all remakes.

Women

Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell in 1939 The Women

Opposite Sex

Ann Sheridan and Dolories Grey in The Opposite Sex with men

Women 2008

Meg Ryan and Annette Bening in 2008 version of The Women

!
Other remakes that are sub par: Father of the Bride (1991)-Steve Martin reprising a Spencer Tracy role, are you kidding? Cheaper By The Dozen (2003)-another Steve Martin movie that had nothing to with the original movie which was about a real life family living in the early 1900’s. You put the Gilbreth’s to shame.

4.) I understand people might not know who Kay Francis and Constance Bennett are…but if you don’t know very well-known, identifiable and easy actors like Bette Davis, Clark Gable or Cary Grant (oh yes, I know people who don’t know who they are) then you have some studying to do before you come back and tell me that you like old movies.

5.) Orson Welles once was quoted as saying, “Keep Ted Turner and his damn crayolas away from my movies.” Welles was perfectly correct. Watch any Shirley Temple movie or possibly A Miracle on 34th Street (1947) or It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) on an old VHS tape or AMC and see the muddy colorization of these films. Colorization looks like crap. People have grey teeth and outfits are colored with terrible hosiptals greens and Barbie pinks. It completely takes the charm away from the movie when Shirley has grey teeth when she is singing “An Old Straw Hat” in Rebecca of Sunnybrooke Farms (1938). People complain until they are purple about being forced to watch a black and white movie, I’m sorry for your misfortune.

Photobucket Photobucket

It takes a lot more work and artistic lighting and direction to shoot a black and white movie. Any self respecting old movie fan would know that. Even from taking a simple film photography class in college, I realized that taking black and white pictures were alot more difficult depending on what time of day it was and how much light was available. It was very frustrating.

Here is a list I have created of what a fan of the Golden Era should or would know.
Things a true classic movie fan should know:
1.) That TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is better than AMC (American Movie Classics).
2.) The significance of the year 1939.
3.) Basic actors like Cary Grant, Claudette Colbert, Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
4.) Recognizable supporting and character actors like Keenan Wynn, William Frawley and Charles Coburn.
5.) The dawn of talkies.
6.) What talkies did to silent film actors.
7.) Who Rudolph Valentino is.
8.) Directors like John Ford, William Wyler, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and George Cukor.
9.) What the Arthur Freed Unit was at MGM
10.) Which studio the quote “More stars than there are in the heavens” refers to.

I write this blog not trying to convert you over to a classic movie fan. I don’t care if you like them or not, I am just saying that the things I have listed are fairly basic and are known by not just film historians, Robert Osborne or myself. So next time you tell me you like old movies and I say, “What kind?” please never ever say “I like movies from the 1980’s and 1990’s.” or “Well, I only just like Breakfast at Tiffany’s” because you will have gotten my hopes up for nothing.

Thank you.

Black and White

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