McCrea in May contest at Comet

Comet Over Hollywood is hosting it’s first ever contest in celebration of Turner Classic Movies finally honoring Joel McCrea as May’s Star of the Month.

As my biggest heartthrob and favorite actor, I had to do something for Mr. McCrea, as well as thank all of you for your support of Comet.

I am giving away three Joel McCrea comedies on DVD: 

Jean Arthur realizes a strange man (Joel McCrea) is staying in her apartment with the permission of border, Charles Coburn in "More the Merrier" (1943).

-The More the Merrier (1943): The World War 2 housing shortage comedy also starring Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn.

Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert in "Palm Beach Story" (1942).

-The Palm Beach Story (1942): McCrea’s wife Claudette Colbert divorces him in order to earn McCrea money from a millionaire in this Preston Sturges comedy. The movie also stars Mary Astor and Rudy Vallee.

Screenwriter Joel McCrea lives as a hobo to see the other side in "Sullivans Travels" (1941).

-Sullivan’s Travels (1941): McCrea is a screen play writer tired of writing fluffy comedies. He travels as a hobo for inspiration for a serious script; getting into trouble and risking his life. The film also stars Veronica Lake.

The contest will be open from Tuesday, May 1, 2012, to Thursday, May 31, 2012. There will be three winners-each receiving one of these DVDs-announced in June.

To enter send the answers to the following questions to

1. What actress was married to Joel McCrea for 57 years?

2. What film did McCrea say was his personal favorite film he made?

3. What is the name of McCrea’s actor son? Name a movie he was in.

4. What actor did McCrea say he always received “leftover scripts” from, including his famous role in Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent”?

5. What was the name of the movie where Joel McCrea played James Kildare (starting off the Lew Ayres series)?

Good luck everyone and spread the word! Remember, email your answers to

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Actress beauty tip #22: Actress jewelry

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

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

While watching a movie, of course you notice the fabulous gowns, minks, hats and suits your favorite actresses wear. But you can’t deny that jewelry plays a large part of the outfit too.

Even Carole Lombard's belt is a jewelry accessory. (From No Man of Her Own, 1932)

The website Hollywood Collection which sells replica costume jewelry that stars from Claudette Colbert to Marilyn Monroe supposedly wore on screen and in their personal life.

I’ve been shopping from Hollywood Collection since 2005, and loved everything I bought from there. I have the:
Diamond ring Vivien Leigh wears in “Deep Blue Sea”
-Bette Davis’s sunset sapphire ring.
-Carole Lombard’s canary earrings from “To Be or Not To Be”
-Carole Lombard’s deco onyx ring that she wore to the “Gone with the Wind” premiere.
-Jean Harlow’s antique diamond ring.
-Betty Grable’s diamond earrings.
-Esther Williams champagne diamond ring from “Easy to Wed.”

Carole Lombard onyx ring

I love the style of the jewelry. Though none of it real, it’s all flashy and gets attention. However, I do wish the rings ran in half sizes. I buy a size 5 ring and still have to wear a ring guard so it fits properly.

The jewelry is beautiful, but I balk at paying $80+ for a cubic zirconia ring, bracelet or earrings. My only main complaint is how much the prices have raised over the years. For example, I think I remember the Lombard canary earrings being about $45 when we got them. Another would be this Paulette Goddard bracelet that I’ve always admired. I never got it because it was $80 and now it’s even higher.

To review: I understand companies hurting, but the raise in prices has really turned me off. The jewelry is beautiful and I still wear it on a regular basis as part of my every day wardrobe. However, the prices have gotten too high for my tastes, and haven’t bought from the website in a year or two.

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‘Apocalypse Now’ ruins film adaptation plans for SC professor

Winthrop University professor Haney Howell checks his e-mail every Sunday night around 12 a.m. to make sure students’ scripts for the student television show, Winthrop Close-Up, are submitted. He reads them over and sends the scripts back with corrections and feedbacks.

“Don’t forget an Anchor Lead in.” or  “This could be written smoother.” with e-mails signed “Get it done.”

However on May 5, 2012, Howell will be leaving Winthrop with graduating under-grads; retiring after teaching broadcast for over 20 years.

But before teaching students how to properly write a television script, Howell was the journalist one dreams of being one day. Howell’s career in broadcast spans from working as a disc jockey in the mountains of Tennessee as a teenager, evacuating from Cambodia and Saigon, and bringing live coverage from the Vietnam War.

Howell has shared conversations with Robert Osborne on New York bus rides and was friends with journalist, Ed Bradley. He even had a brush with Hollywood.

Shooting a story in Cambodia, 1973. Photo Courtesy of Haney Howell

“It all started at a dinner party in New York,” said Howell. “We were telling stories about the Vietnam war. Filmographer Jules Fisher was looking for a Vietnam movie and wanted the stories written down.”

After writing and negotiating, Columbia Studios flew Howell to Hollywood with a $25,000 contract.

 “They put me in the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel with my room overlooking Rodeo Drive,” he said. “Imagine that happening to a country boy from Tennessee.”

Howell ate in exclusive hotel restaurants and was given an inside tour of Hollywood homes inside Larry Gelbart’s Bentley.

Howell spent three days with “Bonnie and Clyde” director Arthur Penn and “MASH” screenwriter Larry Gelbart. The trio spent their time reading, writing and fleshing out the story under a working film title of “Hotel Royale.”

“The writing experience was incredible,” Howell said. “All of my expenses were on Columbia.”

But the Hollywood dream ended.

“The movie project died six months after ‘Apocalypse Now’ came out,” Howell said. “Francis Ford Coppola had a lot of problems with the movie; it went way over budget and it was too early for a Vietnam movie.”

The weekly Viet Cong news conference at Camp Davis on Tan Son Nuet in Saigon. Photo courtesy of Haney Howell

After the movie project ended, Howell adapted the screenplay into a book “Roadrunner,” which was published in 1980. His contact with Columbia allowed novelization rights of the story.

“I took the $25,000 and finished the book,” he said. “I was in a farm house in Normandy, France where we cranked out a chapter a day.”

Howell published “Roadrunners” with Jim Morrison. Morrison, a Green Beret,  wrote “Operation Dumbo Drop” in 1989, which later was adapted into 1995 film. “Roadrunners” is based off Howell’s experiences in Cambodia in the summer of 1973.  The novel is about soldier on the hunt for a gun and ends up getting his girlfriend killed in the process.

“I made ‘Roadrunners’ a novel because I can say its made up, even though its really an autobiography,” Howell said. “You can combine characters in a novel, because I met so many colorful people.”

Howell knew he wanted to write a book ever since he took a creative writing course at Midwestern University.

“I was told there were only two differences between being a published writer: there are the 60 million people trying to get published and you are the six million who have,” he said. “I love seeing my name on the binding on my shelf.”

Haney Howell and I at a Mass Communication banquet on April 6, 2012.

   I am proud to say I was a student of Haney Howell, and can call him a mentor and friend. Congratulations on your retirement, you will always be someone I admire. 

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My brush with Mary Pickford at Winthrop University

Here is a little post in honor Mary Pickford’s 120th birthday on Sunday, April 8, and the tearing down of historic Pickford Studios earlier this week.

Mary Pickford was Hollywood’s first American sweetheart.  Usually playing little girl roles with long curls and big eyes, though she was in her 20s or 30s. For example, when Pickford played an orphan in “Rebecca of Sunnybrooke Farms” (1917) she was 25.

Silent star sweetheart, Mary Pickford

Pickford was Hollywood royalty, marrying top silent star, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and then married star of “Wings” Charles Buddy Rogers.

All of this build up of an important star leads to how she fits into my college career. During my senior year of college I took a media ethics class and I wrote a paper on white actors who played ethnic roles in classic film.

I sniffed around Winthrop University’s library and picked up a few autobiographies and biographies. I picked up Mary Pickford’s 1954 autobiography “Sunshine and Shadow” about her film career, thinking of her role as a Mexican-Indian in “Ramona” (1910).

I opened the book and found this:

Mary Pickford's autograph inside a library book at Winthrop University.

Winthrop University’s copy of “Sunshine and Shadows” is AUTOGRAPHED…and it’s down in the basement with other old books that are rarely checked out.

When I found that I ran out screaming to my roommates-though none of them knew who Mary Pickford was-and called my mom. I doubled checked it with other autographs online and it seems to match.

I plotted on how to get the book out of the library, even thought about claiming it was a lost book, which would be a $100 fine. I figured for that price, I could find it on Ebay.  I even asked if I could buy it from the library, but they said no. I don’t know if they realize they have an autographed book from one of Hollywood’s top silent stars.

Happy birthday Mary Pickford! I enjoyed my brush with you at my alma mater.

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