Happy Thanksgiving from Bing

Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and hoping that you are having a better time than Bing Crosby sings this song in “Holiday Inn” (1942).

Few classic films talk about Thanksgiving but if you are looking for some before jumping into Christmas movies here are a couple:

Holiday Inn (1942): It is mainly considered a Christmas film, but all holidays, including Thanksgiving, are celebrated in this movie.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947): This also is mainly a Christmas film, but the movie starts off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Maureen O’Hara coordinating the parade. Natalie Wood watches the parade from  John Payne’s apartment window and later invites Payne to dinner.

Plymouth Adventure (1952): Gene Tierney, Spencer Tracy and Van  Johnson don’t sit down and eat a turkey dinner during the film, but it is the story of pilgrims traveling over on the Mayflower to the new world.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

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Classic film in daily life: Classic film in ethics paper

In my classes and extracurricular activities at Winthrop University, I try to incorporate old movies as much as possible. Recently in my Media Ethics (MCOM 410) class, we were required to write a 10 to 12 page paper on an issue in diversity in the media. It could be movies, television, newspaper articles or etc.

Of course I wanted to write about movies. Instead of taking the route of how certain minority groups are stereotyped in films, I decided to write about how white actors played minority roles in films-and this happened a lot in films. White actors and actresses would don heavy make-up, false noses and over-exaggerated gestures to play different ethnic roles such as Asians, American Indians or Hispanics.

Here are movies I talked about in my paper:

Lillian Gish and Richard Bathelmess in “Broken Blossoms”

Actors playing Asians:
-Richard Barthelmess playing the Asian man  “Chinky” opposite Lillian Gish in “Broken Blossoms: The Yellow Man and the Girl” (1919)
-“ (D.W) Griffith’s caricature notions about Chinese posture perhaps have something to do with the hunched torso he (Barthlemess) uses throughout the film.” from Star Acting: Gish, Garbo, Davis by Charles Affron
-Danish Nils Asther as Chinese General Yen in “The Bitter Tea of General Yen” (1933)
-Helen Hayes playing a Chinese girl in “The Son-Daughter” (1932)
-“Anna Mae Wong was dropped in favor of Helen Hayes, whose casting then necessitated the firing of all other Chinese in the cast ‘with the exception of some Chinese as extras in long shot, because white actors looked freakish set against the faces of authentic Asian players.Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema; 1930-1934 by Thomas Doherty 
-Luise Rainer and Paul Muni in “The Good Earth” (1936)
-“I’m about as Chinese as Herbert Hoover.  I won’t look Chinese, no matter how much makeup I use, and I won’t sound it.” Paul Muni said in biographyActor: The Life & Times of Paul Muni by Jerome Lawrence
-Jennifer Jones as Eurasian Han Suin in “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” (1955)

Whites playing light-skinned African Americans “passing for white”:
-Ava Gardner as Julie Laverine in “Show Boat” (1951)
-“My own personal choice would have been Lena Horne (for the role of Julie),” Gardner said.  “She was really born for this part. She would have been perfect for it…George Sidney however wanted me.” Ava: My Story by Ava Gardner
-Jeanne Craine as Pinky in “Pinky” (1949)

Actors playing American Indians:
-Mary Pickford playing Indians/Spanish women in “Ramona” and “Song of the Wild Wood Flute” (both 1910)
-Mary Pickford in Sunshine and Shadow: “I noticed rather early that Mr. Griffith seemed to favor me in the roles of Mexican and Indian women.  Perhaps it was because I was the only leading girl in Biography (the studio) with eyes that photographed dark…Whatever reason, I portrayed them all-Indian Maidens and squaws and Mexican senoras and senoritas.  I learned to apply thick applications of red clay mixed with water to my arms and legs with a sponge…don a black horse hair wig and a beaded dress”
-Donna Reed as Sacagawea (or obnoxiously nicknamed Janie) in “The Far Horizons” (1955)
-J. Carroll Nash as Chief Sitting Bull in “Annie Get Your Gun” (1950)
-Rock Hudson as Young Bull in “Winchester ’73” (1950)

Esther Williams and twin Ricardo Montalbon in “Fiesta” (1947)

Actors playing Hispanics:
-Hedy Lamarr, Spencer Tracy, John Garfield in “Tortilla Flat” (1942)
-Stereotypical sexy señoritas like Linda Darnell in “My Darling Clementine” (1946)
-Esther Williams playing Ricardo Montalbon’s twin sister in “Fiesta” (1947) and how she thought this was ridiculous.
-“Ricardo (Montalbon) came from Torrejon, Mexico. His accent was still very heavy at the time and, of course, I didn’t have one at all.  Since we were supposed to be twins, this marked difference in accents was something that troubled me, and I was sure it would bother audiences a great deal as well” The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography by Esther Williams
-John Garfield (again) and Jennifer Jones in “We Were Strangers” (1949)
-Natalie Wood as Maria in “West Side Story” (1961)

From my research and information I have gotten from Robert Osborne on TCM, whites played minority roles like these in films for a couple of reasons.
1. White audiences did not care to see authentic minority roles due to racism. It seems they preferred to see a white playing the role stereotypically.
2. If there happened to be a romance between a white and a minority (“Bitter Tea of General Yen”) white audiences would shun an authentic interracial relationship. Interracial romances were banned by the Hayes Code.

On a side note, 70 year old professor, Dr. Click, seemed to enjoy my paper and said he was informed on a new topic.

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Birthday on “Radio Waves” Nov. 18 show

Shirley Temple's 9th birthday in 1938

“Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live this Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m (Eastern time).

But this Thursday is a special edition of “Radio Waves.”

November 18 is the birthday of some very important people: Mickey Mouse, Johnny Mercer and Jessica Pickens (me)! I’ll be turning 22 so on my show I will be lighting candles, wearing black and playing sad songs…Not really.

This week is a special show. Since it is my birthday a few guests from off campus are dropping in to discuss their favorite movies.  My mom and others are calling in, so feel free to call in at 803-323-2122 to talk about your favorite movies!

Listen in!

Topics for Nov. 18:
 -Actors who you never expect to sing
-Songs and scenes from my favorite movies
-Movies with Thanksgiving in them
-And more…

And remember, non-Winthrop students can listen and call in too!

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

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

Do you remember the forgotten man: Veterans Day edition


Joan Blondell in "Gold Diggers of 1933" singing "Remember My Forgotten Man"


Since Veteran’s Day celebrates men and women who served in the armed forces and helped fight for our country, I wanted to mention celebrity veterans who fought.  Veteran’s Day was originally known as Armistice Day when the armistice was signed between the allies and the central powers at the end of the Great War in 1918. What better way to celebrate recognizing WW1 soldiers, specifically those that were actors.
Movie fans always hear about stars who fought in World War II, like Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable.  I started wondering what stars fought in The Great War (or World War I.)  I looked around on Google and  found very little. Thanks to my prior knowledge and some huge silent film fans on the IMDB message boards,  I came up with a list of actors who fought in World War I.
So today let’s remember all veteran’s, but especially those that brought us this day in the eleventh month, the eleventh day and the eleventh hour. And don’t forget the forgotten man.

Fighting with the Allied Powers

Richard Arlen, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan

Richard Arlen– Served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, but never saw combat.
Humphry Bogart– Served in the U.S. Navy on the Leviathan.  He had an injury on his face and mouth which left him with his lisp, according to the website “Star War.”
Walter Brennan– Injured by gas attack during WWI which permanently affected his vocal chords.


Clive Brooks, Maurice Chevalier, Merian C. Cooper


Clive Brook-Served in the British Army
Maurice Chevalier– Enlisted in the French army and was wounded, captured and taken prisoner by the Germans in 1914. He spent two years in Alten prison camp.
Merian C. Cooper– Fighter pilot for the United States


Ronald Colman, Walt Disney, Cedric Hardwicke


Ronald Colman– Fought in the British Army. Was wounded/gassed in Messines.
Walt Disney-Was only 16 during World War I, but lied so he could serve in the Red Cross.
Cedric Hardwick-Stage actor till career interrupted by the war. Served the British Army.


Buster Keaton, Charles Laughton, Herbert Marshall


Buster Keaton– Was a Corporal in the U.S. 40 Division in France
Charles Laughton– Joined the Army as a private in 1917. Served with the Huntingdonshire Cyclist Regiment, and later with 7th Bn. Northamptonshire Regiment in the Western Front. Casualty of mustard gas.
Herbert Marshall-Lost part of his right leg in the war and wore a wooden leg for the rest of his life. May notice a limp in some of his movies.

Ken Maynard, Victor McLaglen, Adolphe Menjou

Ken Maynard– Fought in the U.S. Army
Victor McLaglen– When the war broke out, McLaglen joined the Irish Fusiliers and fought in the Middle East and serving as Provost Marshal (head of Military Police) for the city of Baghdad.
Adolphe Menjou– Captain of the Ambulance Corp in France


George O'Brien, Pat O'Brien, Jack Pickford


George O’Brien– Served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Fleet where he was also the Heavy Weight Boxing Champ.
Pat O’Brien– Enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1918
Jack Pickford– (brother of Mary Pickford)  U.S. Navy Reserve in 1918. Almost court-martialed for a scandal when he accepted bribes from draftees who wanted light shore duty.  His mother had a secret meeting Wilson’s personal secretary, Joseph Tumulty. Tumulty requested Jack to be discharged  to make movies in support of the Army Air Corps.


Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, John Monk Saunders


Claude Rains-Served in the Scottish Regiment in England.
Basil Rathbone– Second Lieutenant for the Liverpool Scottish. Received the Military Cross in 1918 for bravery.
John Monk Saunders– (Hollywood Writer) Served in the Air Service.


William Desmond Taylor, Ernst Thesiger, Warren William


William Desmond Taylor– Fought in the Canadian Air Force
Ernst Thesiger– Fought in the British Army
Warren William– Fought in France with the U.S. Army

Fight with the Central Powers

Fritz Lang, Bela Lugosi, Sig Rumand

Fritz Lang-Soldier in the Austrian Army and fought in Romania and Russia.
Bela Lugosi– Was an infantry lieutenant in the Hungarian Army
Sig Ruman-Served in the Imperial German Forces

*Tune into tonight’s “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” live stream on WINR at 6 p.m. ET.  Tonight’s show is about war movies!

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F is for Fake, as Orson Welles said

A friend shared a CNN story with me about a woman on a cell phone passing by in the background in the 1928 Charlie Chaplin film “The Circus.”

What do all of you classic film fans think of this?

Circled person is supposedly holding a cell phone.

I personally think it’s a bunch of poppycock and don’t believe it and here is why:

 1. Videos like these are easily faked. With the mass amounts of sophisticated film software available today, anyone could dress in 1920s garb and walk around in the background of an already filmed movie. Even take “Forest Gump” (1994) for example. Remember when Tom Hanks is seen in videos taken in the 1960s such as the black students going into the University of Alabama with Governor George Wallace blocking the entrance?

 2. It could have been a person in the movie simply with their hand to their ear or holding down their hat. The public is looking at “The Circus” with preconceived notions of today and our technology. We are looking at simple gestures they are making and automatically think that holding your hand to your ear means a cell phone because we see that several times on a daily basis.

 3. From what I have heard, IF there is a time travel you can’t take contemporary items and technology with you. Cell phones didn’t exist in 1928 so you can’t have it.

 4. Hypothetically, if there is time travel and you somehow still had your cell phone, you couldn’t use it anyways. There were no satellites or cell phone towers. And who on Earth would she be talking to? From what I’ve seen in time travel movies, once you go back in time  you can’t communicate with the contemporary world. It’s not like she traveled back and time and can call someone in 2010 and say, “Hey Jennifer, yeh I got it to 1928 safely.”

I mean believe me, if there was such thing as time travel I would hop right on and go back to the good ole technology free days of the 1920s-1940s, but there isn’t in my opinion.

So there you go, there are my thoughts and as it is I think I put too much thought into it.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and let me know!

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Radio Waves is full of disguises with Chaney on Nov. 4

Gertrude Lawrence and Robert Benchley on Lawrence's radio show in 1943. From LIFE magazine

“Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m (Eastern time).

Topics for Nov. 4:
-Lon Chaney: Never a happy ending in his movies or life
-Which feud is bigger: Joan Crawford vs. Bette Davis or Bette Davis vs. Miriam Hopkins
-Same songs sung by different people: Which is better
-And more…

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

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

And remember, non-Winthrop students can listen and call in too!

Also, if you listen to the “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” show, leave feedback for me in the comments area. Let me know what I need to work on or what you want to hear!

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Actress Beauty Tip #6: Soft Doris Day skin

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

Doris Day was the quintessential girl next door with a sunny smile, blonde hair and flawless skin.

Doris Day showing off some skin

How did Doris Day keep her skin so smooth and clear looking?

In her autobiography “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” Day said that once a month she would cover her body with Vaseline before she went to bed to soften her skin. She would wear gloves, sock and pajamas that would make sure the Vaseline stayed on her skin and didn’t get all over her bed.

I haven’t specifically used Vaseline, but I have used coco butter on my skin over night which is a similar consistency.  I’ve had issues with dry knees, ankles and elbows and the coco butter worked relatively well.

However, over coco butter, I’ve found that baby oil and Nivea work best for softening skin over night.

To review: I haven’t used Vaseline overly much but I’m substituting coco butter for my experiment. It moisturizes well but Nivea and baby oil work much better.

Check by in December for installment number 7!

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