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

Visit Comet for more holiday fun this month!

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Actress beauty tip #21: Fashion copied from films

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

First, I would like to apologize for not posting a beauty tip in February-it’s the only month I’ve missed a beauty tip and I don’t plan on making it a habit.

March’s beauty tip is going to focus on fashion I have copied from films. For the time being I’ve run out of regiments to test, but I’m still digging around for some.

However, fashion, hairstyles and jewelry are just as important to a film star’s beauty as how she washes her hair or face.

As many of you know, “West Side Story” (1961) is one one of my all-time favorite films. The music, the colors, the sadness, all make the movie perfect, but another thing that has drawn me to the movie are the beautiful outfits.

Who can forget the purple dress Anita wears to the dance and the white dress Maria feels makes her look like a baby? But my favorite three are the yellow dress Maria wears while singing “I Feel Pretty,” the blue dress Maria wears as she waits for Tony after the rumble and the orange dress we get a brief glimpse of Anita wearing in the dress shop when she catches Maria and Tony together.

Anita warning Maria she must be home in 15 minutes-both wearing two of my favorite outfits in "West Side Story."

I buy several vintage clothing items on Ebay that reminds me of classic films: peasant blouses, fiesta skirts, silky formals, pinafore dresses, flashy earrings.

But I rarely find anything in a contemporary clothing store that reminded me of an outfit I’ve seen in a movie. The only other time I’ve seen something similar to a film outfit was a white dress in Dress Barn that made me think of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Then one day I was in TJMaxx and sticking out of the rack I saw a sleeveless orange dress. I immediately thought of Anita in “West Side Story” and bought it.

Bought this dress at TJMaxx because it reminded me of my favorite movie.

To review: Fashion is important to me, but particularly if it reminds me of something I’ve seen in a movie. The best places to find movie like clothing is on ebay or stores like vintagevixen.com, but sometimes you can get lucky!

UNRELATED REMINDER! Comet’s Gone Too Soon blogathon is on the 9 and 10th. Follow this link for more details and a list of who bloggers are covering- http://cometoverhollywood.com/2012/02/03/upcoming-comet-blogathon-gone-too-soon/ Further updates will come this week.

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What does 2012 bring for Comet?

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great, safe holiday season and are prepared for 2012- if the world does indeed end, please refer to my Mad Max survival post.

Happy New Year around the world from Ann Sheridan and myself.

So what is in store for Comet Over Hollywood in 2012?

A blogathon!

I’ve hinted that I’m planning on doing a blogathon- I’ve actually been thinking about it since this summer, but I was waiting until the holidays ended to formally announce it.

The blogathon will be called “Gone Too Soon” dedicated to actors who passed away before the age of 50, such as Natalie Wood, Jean Harlow, Carole Landis, Bobby Driscol, John Hodiak-just to name a few.

I’m scheduling the blogathon for March 9 and 10.  I will do another post listing rules, banners and the process later on but I would like to go ahead and start gauging interest.

Also in 2012 I plan on doing:

A contest!

I haven’t decided the format yet, but I think I’m planning on doing it in February. More details will come about this too.

Thank you all for reading Comet Over Hollywood this year.  It’s been a really fun year in the blog world, with some really awesome posts and blogathons from my peers. I have to say I think my favorite blogathons I particpated in was the 1939 blogathon, Hollywood Revue’s Fashion blogathon and the Guilty Pleasures blogathon was lots of fun too.

Look for January’s beauty tip soon and more classic film fun.

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Mommies Dearest: Stage mothers, Mother’s Day Style

Happy mother’s day to all of our wonderful parents. Today’s blog post is highlighting parents that sacrificed all, sometimes even the well-being of the child, to make some of our favorite actor and actresses movie stars. Happy mother’s day!

Jackie Coogan and his parents

Jackie Coogan-Jackie Coogan started his career as a baby in vaudeville with his acting family. A age seven he was starring with Charlie Chaplin in “The Kid” (1921). All his success brought a lot of money, which his parents spent. Coogan earned roughly $3 million during his career as a child actor and his mother and stepfather spent it all.  In 1935, Coogan asked for the money he had made and his parents refused to give it to him. This resulted in the Coogan Bill which puts 15% of what a child actor earns into a trust fund. Coogan later told his young co-stars in “The Adams Family” that they were able to keep their earnings because of him.

Linda Darnell- Darnell’s alcoholic mother, Pearl Brown, had her modeling at the age of 11. In her first movie “Hotel for Women,” she was made up to look like she was in her 20’s and was only 16.  Starting out so young and marrying the young men caused Darnell to follow the same path of alcoholism like her mother. Linda Darnell once said, “”Mother really shoved me along, spotting me in one contest after another. I had no great talent, and I didn’t want to be a movie star particularly. But Mother had always wanted it for herself, and I guess she attained it through me.” Pearl was unpopular and overbearing in Hollywood, and gave Linda a lot of bad publicity.

Peggy Ann Garner and mother, Virginia

 Peggy Ann Garner- Garner’s mother, Virginia, started Peggy’s career as a model when she was a child and was in her first movie in 1938. Garner had a successful career throughout the 1940s in movies like “Jane Eyre” (1944) and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” but was unable to make a transition into adult films. She was in movies like “Black Widow” and several TV performances, but they were all forgettable.

Darryl Hickman- In the child star edition of the Turner Classic Movie Private Screenings, Hickman recalled asking his mother how he got into movies. She told him, “Because you wanted it so much.” Hickman asked, “I wanted to be an actor at aged 3?” I’m not sure if Hickman was pushed in to it, but this is an example of what so many parents told their children. That they wanted to be an actor but they could barely even walk or talk, let alone make decisions.

Gypsy Lee Rose/June Havoc-The famous Rose Thompson Hovick was the mother of June Havoc and Gypsy Lee Rose. Mama Rose did anything to further her daughter’s careers, particularly June. Both daughters had to wait until their mother died to write memoirs because they worried about a lawsuit.

 

Shirley Temple and her parents, George and Gertrude

Shirely Temple- Dickie Moore was once quoted as saying that Shirley Temple wasn’t the problem, it was her mother. Shirley’s parents encouraged her singing and dancing when she was three and she was discovered at a dance studio. Shirley’s mother, Gertrude, styled Temple’s hair with exactly 56 pin curls to look like Mary Pickford’s hair, and before every scene she would tell Shirley to, “Sparkle!” Shirley Temple faced the same fate of Jackie Coogan. Temple lived like a little princess, with a bowling alley and a life-sized play house in her backyard. However, when her career dwindled, so had the money.  After marrying Charles Black, they decided to look into her finances and it showed that much of her money had been spent to support her family-what was left belonged to her parents. There should have been $356,000 in her account, but her father, George, disobeyed court orders and kept the money, according to BBC.

Natalie Wood-After reading Suzanne Finstad’s biography “Natasha,” I’m convinced Wood’s mother Maria Gurdin was crazy. Maria wasn’t able to have a be the actress so she started to groom her daughter to do what she had always wanted to do.  Crazy things Woods’ mother did:

•To make Natalie cry in scenes, her mother pulled the wings off of butterfly wings.

•Wood famously broke her wrist in the movie “The Green Promise” and always wore a bracelet over the broken wrist. Her mother didn’t let her daughter get her wrist set with a cast because it might not let her get movie roles, therefore, she always had a lump on her wrist.

•Maria had Natalie wearing the famous pigtails until she was in her early teens so she could still get child roles. Natalie finally chopped them off out of rebellion.

•Natalie started dating a boy she met in high school, and her mother forced Natalie to break up with him. The boy had some emotional issues to begin with, but tried to kill himself (I can’t remember if he succeeded) out of depression from the break up.

•Mother encouraged Natalie to date men twice her age like Frank Sinatra and Raymond Burr because she thought it would help her career.

I know I didn’t mention Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers, who both had famous interfering mothers.  Jean Harlow has been covered a lot in the last few months due to her birthday and new book. Ginger and her mother got along, it was just other’s who didn’t like Lela Rogers, so I left her out. Happy mothers day!

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Mean King of Jing-a-ling

Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood in “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)

Santa Claus.  Kris Kringle. Father Christmas.  Jolly Ole Saint Nick.

Regardless of the name you use, all of these describe the happy, friendly fat man who leaves gifts under our trees on Christmas Eve. Pop culture has built him into a beloved figure and movies depict him as  wise and loving of children.

In  “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947),  Edmund Gwenn plays the cutest Santa Claus who sings a Dutch song with a little girl, helps Natalie Wood believe and forgives judges and psychiatrists who try to bring him down.   Gwenn played a perfect Santa Claus and, as a child, I couldn’t believe anyone could be so mean to Ole St. Nick. This movie made me want to believe in Santa again and finds me saying like Natalie Wood, “I believe, I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.”

On the flip side, there is another classic children’s movie that may give Santa Claus a bad name. Every year my family watches the 1964 “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” television special, and every year my dad says, “Santa is a bigot.”

It’s true. Santa is friendly while congratulating Rudolph’s parents and is excited to have another reindeer on his Christmas sleigh.  That is…until the moment that Santa sees Rudolph’s red nose.

Santa and Rudolph in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964)

Rudolph’s red nose shines, Santa’s eyes screw up in his head and he high-tails it out of the reindeer family’s cave simply because Rudolph is different. Santa doesn’t like Herbie the elf either  for wanting to be a dentist rather than a toy maker- not that I much blame him, Herbie whines a lot.

Other than discriminating against his workers, Santa is an overall grump in the movie.  He won’t eat. He doesn’t like the song the elves sing.  He puts toys that are seemingly fine on an island by themselves promising that he might pick them up on Christmas, but only does after several years.

At the end of the movie, we can argue that Santa Claus has a change of heart. He learns to accept Rudolph and his red nose and allows him to lead the front of his sleigh.

But if you really think about it, Santa is only really using Rudolph. It’s snowing heavily and he needs someone to light his way. Why not attach headlights to the front of the sleigh? Nope, we will use Rudolph’s red nose to lead us. For all we know he could be back to his discriminating ways on December 26 and Rudolph will never lead the sleigh again.

The 1964 “Rudolph” is a really good movie and a family favorite. The score and storyline are overall enjoyable. Just watch out that Santa Claus doesn’t lower your Christmas spirit. It’s ironic that the Father of Christmas himself, is the least jolly of them all in the film.

Happy holidays!

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Actress beauty tip #7: False Eye Lashes

1940s: Subtle lashes on Claudette Colbert

This is the seventh installment of my monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have tested. Sorry that this is a week late, finals have started at Winthrop and life has gotten busy!

Whether it be minimalistic eye make-up of the 1940s and 1950s or emphasized eyes of the 1960s, it is obvious actresses wore false eye lashes.  The lashes give their eyes an extra boost.  Prior to the 1950s it seemed like they weren’t wearing much make-up, but their lashes stood out looking full and beautiful. In the 1960s, the lashes only added more glamour too eyes already caked with eyeliner and eye shadow.

Actress Natalie Wood is one actress that wore false eye-lashes off screen.   Wood wore TWO layers of false eyelashes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to Suzanne Finstad’s book “Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood.”  Wood did this as her interest in fashion heightened and she was trying to have a darker look that she felt matched her Russian roots.

Natalie Wood in the 1960s wearing false eyelashes

Like Wood, I’ve worn false eye-lashes four or five times in the last seven years.  I love the way they make my lashes look, but I don’t find them very comfortable.  My eyes get dried out easily, especially because I wear contacts.  I’m always too afraid to blink, because I don’t want my lashes to fall off so for the rest of the day my eyes feel kind of dry and scratchy.

I also use the type that you apply the glue yourself, because I think it sticks better.  Self adhesive doesn’t stick very well and I usually end up applying more glue to it.  Though the glue sticks better, it also gets awfully messy and makes it hard to put mascara or eyeliner on your top lashes.

To review: False eyelashes make your lashes and eyes look great, but you pay a price of possible discomfort and sticky glue.

Stay tuned for some upcoming Christmas posts and January’s beauty tip!

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Evolution of a classic film fanatic

It started with a girl named Maria and a boy named Tony who thought something was coming. That’s what I usually tell people when they ask how I became a classic movie fan: it happened on a fateful March evening in 2003 when I saw “West Side Story” (1961). I became obsessed, end of story.

But my “West Side Story” obsession (which is a whole other blog post) isn’t even close to where my classic film education began. Let’s travel back in time to 1988, the year I was born. Or maybe 1991, I would have been a bit more coherent to films at age three.

My parents introduced my two older sisters and me to classic film at an early age. Some of these movies were Disney movies like “Lady and the Tramp” or “Swiss Family Robinson” or family friendly movies like “White Christmas” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Tom Drake and Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944)

I  distinctly remember watching “Meet Me in St Louis” when I was five or six and thinking that Judy Garland looked pretty or laughing at Julie Newmar’s name “Dorcas” in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

Basically classics have always been in my life, but as a child I never realized that they were old and thought all of these wonderful movies were brand new.

My real interest in movies started when I was in third grade and I saw the cartoon version of “Anastasia” on a rainy November day in 1997. No this isn’t a classic movie, but it started a long line of movie obsessions to come.  I mean, I even thought I was somehow the lost princess Anastasia Romanov. I was hooked.

Fast-forward to middle school. I became interested in shows on TVLand, The Monkees and 1960s pop culture. I was interested in anything old, and naturally gravitated towards movies, which is probably where it all began.

But the real gateway drug to the classic film addiction was “West Side Story” (1961). On an evening in March 2003, my dad said, “You like musicals and old movies; you should see ‘West Side Story.’” He later said he created a monster and wasn’t joking at all.

Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” (1961), the film I was obssessed with for two years.

From “West Side Story,” I snowballed into a musical love and I went out of my way to tape them off the television. I started a new musical list that is  still growing at 390 titles.

I then found actors I liked, like Doris Day and Jane Powell, and wanted to see their movies and the interest just grew and grew and grew. Now, I’m not obsessed with one particular actor or movie, it’s more that I’m crazy about the whole classic film shebang.

As a rule I only watch movies from the beginning of film to the mid-1960s. Pre-code movies are great because their vulgarity is done in a tongue-and-check way that sometimes can go by unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention. Once you get into the 1960s and beyond, the plots run thin in an attempt to be artistic, nudity isn’t rare and morals go out the window. Also actors from the Golden Era were fading away and the studio system was crumbling.

I guess if I had to make an analogue with how it all started, “West Side Story” would have been that first beer that led me into old movie alcoholism. It didn’t matter what I watched as long as it fulfilled my movie viewing needs. I think my viewing is a bit more mature than that now. Sure I still watch a few clunkers, or watch a stinker movie for the sake of fulfilling a classic actor list (like “Night of the Demon” for Dana Andrews) but it is just all part of the experience.

What kind of movie fan am I now?

•I make monthly lists from Now Playing to tape; usually 30 to 40 movies a month. We use A LOT of VHS tapes.

•I only buy books, paper dolls, posters or anything of that nature that is movie related. I often search Ebay for classic film memorabilia, and as much as I would enjoy Lana Turner’s evening bag from “Imitation of Life”, as a 21-year-old college student, that really isn’t in my budget.

•I don’t have any real obsession now. I have my favorite movies, actors and actresses but no one that I hyperventilate over when I think about them. I guess the only movie that would come close to that is “Since You Went Away” or the actor Van Johnson.

•I want to meet Robert Osborne one day. He is my hero and I think we would

Robert Osborne: My hero

be best friends. Robert, if you just happen to be reading this, let’s meet in Atlanta and have lunch, okay? I’m just in South Carolina so it’s not that far.

•I’ve come to realize that the Hollywood I dreamed about in middle school and early high school is non-existent now. I used to dream about going to Hollywood and thinking it would be like it was during the Golden Era: clean, historically preserved and bowing down to Hollywood greats like Joan Crawford. My family took a family vacation there in 2006 and I’ve realized there is nothing for me there. Hollywood is not interested in preserving history, and even though the Hollywood Bowl was cool, it’s not like Kathryn Grayson will be singing a concert there ever again.

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RIP Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper, Nick Adams and Natalie Wood

I have to admit, I haven’t seen many of his movies.

Mr. Hopper is best known for his late 1960s and 1970s  “Easy Rider” like persona and continued on into the 1980s and 1990s with a long and successful film career.

He was nominated for his role in the 1986 film “Hoosiers” and was in retirement commercials to make financial planning look “cool.”

However, I would like to look at the times that many people forget. Before he was a pot smoking motorcyclist or crazed bus high-jacker.

None of this would have happened without those movies where he was casted as a 1950s angst young adult.  Without his friendship with James Dean, Nick Adams and Natalie Wood (three actors who died tragically), would Hopper have been the actor that some call crazy?

“Jimmy (James Dean) was the most talented and original actor I ever saw work,” Hopper said. “He was also a guerrilla artist who attacked all restrictions on his sensibility. Once he pulled a switchblade and threatened to murder his director. I imitated his style in art and in life. It got me in a lot of trouble.”

Hopper started out in the 1950s, a time people think of as pure and “Leave It To Beaver” like, but the youthful actors were not out playing bridge on Saturday nights.

“In the 50s, when me and Natalie Wood and James Dean and Nick Adams and Tony Perkins (Anthony Perkins) suddenly arrived… God, it was a whole group of us that sort of felt like that earlier group – the John Barrymores, Errol Flynns, Sinatras, Clifts – were a little farther out than we were… So we tried to emulate that lifestyle,” Hopper said. “For instance, once Natalie and I decided we’d have an orgy. And Natalie says “O.K., but we have to have a champagne bath.” So we filled the bathtub full of champagne. Natalie takes off her clothes, sits down in the champagne, starts screaming. We take her to the emergency hospital. That was *our* orgy, you understand?”


One of my favorite performances of Dennis Hopper’s is his role as Jordy in “Giant.”  Whenever I hear his name I always get the mental image of him throwing the perfume bottle into the mirror (my favorite part of the movie) when his Spanish wife couldn’t get her hair done in the hair salon.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hopper.

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