Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dressing Male Stars in Old Hollywood BYOC Bring Your Own Clothes

1930's & 40's Men's Fashions in Movies:
Hollywood male film stars rebelled against high wardrobe costs

Dial M for Murder
Robert Cummings and Grace Kelly;
Maybe they looked at her dress
but he wanted to look great, too.
"Next time you see Robert Cummings on screen in his underwear, it might be interesting to reflect that his tailor-made shorts and undershirt cost him $15." Not only has he paid to have his suits made but if he'll be wearing it onscreen, his underwear, pajamas and specially made ties."
-- Daytona Beach Morning Journal, May 16, 1950

The 1930s, 1940s are remembered as the Golden Age of Hollywood. There were great costume designers such as Edith Head, Adrian, Orry Kelly and Jean Louis. 

They worked with directors and producers, creating garments that would help to bring characters to life. Their looks helped to define the characters and virtually give life to the films. Some designers even created looks which became inseparable with a handful of our greatest stars.

What was the difference in how wardrobe for men and women was handled? The claim was that like so much in the theatrical arts it was tradition that women's clothes were created and provided by the producers of the show. If they weren't destroyed during the production, gowns may be offered to the actress at the end of the course of filming, often for a fee. 

Charles Boyer
Vintage 8x10 photo
The studios usually had men's costumes in stock for period pictures or costume dramas. Something special could be created if needed. A costume designer specializing in men's clothes, sometimes a team of designers may work on a movie. 

Usually it was the person in charge of women's costume who got credit onscreen. That person may be involved to a small or large degree with what the men wore in the movies. The director and/or producer may have a lot or a little to say about the costumes, from the style, the color to the material, the cost. 

Alfred Hitchcock, for instance was known to have definite opinions on how characters appeared. Did he decide on the colors of the suits that the men in his films wore, when they would be similar, when they wouldn't? More on Hitchcock in the next installment.

In a Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza, the costume designer may need to dress an animal such as a horse or even an elephant. In westerns, the way a horse looked was important.
Where do the men's costumes come from?

In 1938, newspapers ran this headline: "Hollywood male film stars rebel against high wardrobe costs. Actors assert
Ronald Colman
Under Two Flags 8x10" Photo
movie studios should pay clothing expenses. Mostly through stage tradition film companies furnish feminine wearables." The Screen Actors Guild was threatening action to have this practice changed. 

"Under the present operating mode more through stage tradition than anything else feminine performers are supplied free of charge with whatever wardrobe they're called on to wear in their parts. But the mere male actor, well he gets stuck for his share. And many times it's a real knifing."

"Tools of the trade is what Bob Cummings and other male stars call their expensive duds. Bob reckons he has invested $30,000 or more in his wardrobe, part of which he keeps in a room at home and part in a storage company warehouse."
-- The North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), February 23, 1938 

When we think about old glamour, are we just thinking about the ladies?
Brian Aherne 8x10"
He asks, Dressing gowns, too??
Yup. Pretty much anything you wear on screen young man.

For a contemporary film, one that took place in the present, often in the 1930s-1950s in particular, men's clothes would be bought from stores. Some actors, Hollywood stars like William Powell and Robert Cummings wore clothes of their own. An actor may suggest clothes that he had or he may buy for a character. He could bring in some clothes and try them on camera. 

In cases like this an actor was expected to provide everything that his character might wear on screen, suits, shirts, coats, gloves, hats, scarves, pocket squares, pajamas, underwear and so on. The actors probably rarely wore these clothes in their private lives, since keeping them in the best shape possible was to their advantage.

The contract may also specify, for men and women, clothes that they would wear during photo shoots and tours to promote the movies. Clothes may be purchased or made just for those purposes alone.

The producer would give them a stipend, a bonus for buying clothes or using the clothes that they had. Wear and tear on their clothes was taken into consideration. If something special was needed the costume designer would create something. Then again, since it was probably tailored, it may well be available to the actor at the end of the movie.

There's a famous story about an actor who could track his old blue (?) suit through all of his early movies until he made the money to buy better clothes.

Depending on studio, director, actor, his contract, the film and the situation things varied. They may provide an entire wardrobe or a piece of it, making it in-house or purchasing it or providing it some other way. 

In Casablanca Humphrey Bogart wore a trench coat and fedora styled in a way that would become his trademark. If these items were provided for him, if he owned them previously or after the film I can't say. As with many things, I've seen auctions claiming to be selling his original Casablanca trench coat.

Charles Laughton Elsa Lanchester
Original 8x10" Photo
Actors Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester.
Married 1929 until Laughton's death in 1962, they appeared in five movies together, including Witness for the Prosecution 1957.

The Internal Revenue Service, Tricky Tax Deductions in the 1930s:

In 1938, the newspapers ran a story that had been brewing for a few years. The IRS was going to hold a group of hearings about tax deficiency cases of Hollywood actors.

"The Board of Tax Appeals today ordered hearings on alleged tax deficiency cases involving 15 members of Hollywood's movie colony." Included were Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Madge Evans, Adolph Menjou and the late John Gilbert.  One of the major issues to be settled was the amount actors could deduct from income tax returns for business entertainment, auto expenses, wardrobe expenses, cleaning and pressing of their clothes. "The largest claim is against Mr. Laughton assessed a deficiency of $104,430 on his 1934 tax."
-- The Pittsburgh Press, April 10, 1938

Until proven necessary business expenses, some deductions were dis-allowed. Mr. Laughton had certain issues with his taxes that were specific to him, but the IRS was still learning about special deductions for actors' clothing and the maintenance of that clothing. 

For Laughton and probably other actors, the IRS questioned deductions made for music, his automobile, gratuities to stage hands, books and periodicals, telephone and telegraph, advertising and publicity. Were these things for personal use, what percentage was for business? 

In his response and as part of the subsequent hearing, Laughton provided segments of his contract, including those stating that an actor (male) had to supply his own clothing for at least some of his roles. 

This would have been in the actor's contract. Did you receive a bonus for buying or providing your own clothing. How about wear and tear on your clothes, shoes, etc. 

1945 Custom shoes made in London for the Famous: Film Stars, Royalty, men and women 

These days I hear film and television actors' contracts are quite different and it would be unusual to supply everyday clothes for a part.

A 2013 Nolo list of possible deductions for actors Wardrobe section says, "If you buy your own wardrobe, you may deduct the cost only if it is not suitable for street wear. For example, you can't deduct the cost of a modern business suit, but you could deduct an ape costume."

"The 1935 California legislature enacted a personal net income tax based on a
Bing Crosby 8x10" Photo
graduated scale of net income. Primarily this law affected net incomes in excess of $5000 a year and its rates became progressively higher on net incomes above $10,000 annually. 

"The personal net income tax income incurred the immediate opposition of the conservative newspapers, wealthy persons of substantial net incomes and particularly moving-picture producers whose incomes are reputedly large. 

"Searching for some tax plan that would relieve them from the personal net income tax, such persons have become active in support of the gross income tax plan." 
-- Our California State Taxes: Facts and Problems

The Motion Picture Producers Association of California Incorporated began a drive against the tax plan.

A 1935 Milwaukee Journal article reported that among those who it is estimated would have to pay 70 to 90 per cent of their incomes in combined state and federal taxes are Mary Pickford, Wallace Beery, Louis B. Mayer, Bing Crosby, Samuel Goldwyn, Irving Thalberg, Norma Shearer, Myron Selznick and Ernst Lubitsch. "An odd feature of the tax scare is that a great many of the highest paid actors are reported refusing work in order to hold their incomes below a certain surtax point." 

Film industry folks complained that they were giving away so much of their income to taxes. Actors noted that their popularity is very fleeting, they'll make the high income over just a matter of a few years. Their ability to put away money for retirement was threatened. Some companies and stars were threatening to leave California and establish residency in other states to avoid taxes.

"In any instance the studio does not furnish shoes. Shoes are they property of the star or featured player. In many cases she has them made to match the picture gown or more often she has accumulated such a number that cases are rare where a pair of shoes to meet the requirements cannot be found in her personal wardrobe. But everything else draping the feminine form including underthings as well as stocking are studio liabilities."
-- NANA, February 23, 1938  

Clark Gable Photo clipping
Check your contract, Fellas....

"The Artist shall provide at his own expense such modern wardrobe and wearing apparel as may be necessary for any and all roles to be portrayed by the Artist hereunder, it being agreed however that should so called character or period costumes be required the Producer shall supply the same. 

"The costumes, apparel and other articles furnished or paid for by the Producer pursuant to the terms of this agreement or otherwise shall be and remain the property of the Producer and shall be returned promptly to it."

The snippet of contractual language above was sent to the IRS to justify the deduction. Some of it is also quoted in the book, Long Live the King: a Biography of Clark Gable.

Even in those days, there were articles showing how the clothes worn by screen stars influenced how men dressed. Gentlemen's Quarterly was launched in 1931 and men's magazine Esquire was founded in 1932, first published in 1933. Actors would begin to appear on the covers and inside of such publications as well as in film magazines and newspapers.

In the mid-1930s Robert Taylor worked at Universal Studios and then at MGM.  After making Magnificent Obsession in 1935, apparently he didn't return some of what he wore in the film promptly enough.  

Magnificent Obsession
Robert Taylor (in a made-to-order suit) and Irene Dunne

"Universal was withholding a check for $2,000 until Taylor returned the six made-to-order suits, dress coat, slacks and tuxedo coat and vest he’d worn." 

When Taylor moved to MGM the next year, Louis B. Mayer gave him bonuses of $3000 and then $1500. "He advised Taylor about clothes. 'Maybe you can't act very well, Bob,' he said, 'but at least you can dress decently,' and sent the young man to his own tailor to get his first custom-made suit, his first dinner jacket and his first white suit and tails." 
-- A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940, Victoria Wilson 

This is part of a short series. When other parts are posted links will be provided here.

Hitchcock's cameo appearance
with Cary Grant on the bus in To Catch a Thief

Coming up:

* What did some of the stars have in these closets ready to go? The clothes they owned might even help them land a picture deal. How about an inventory? 

* An instance where the studio suddenly had to create an item of clothing for an actor. He couldn't produce the item needed and it could not be found in local stores!

* A little about Cary Grant and the clothes he wore in some his legendary Hitchcock films

* How did Spencer Tracy brilliantly handle costume in a couple of his movies?

* What had Errol Flynn so upset??

* How did Robert Mitchum handle the 'bring your own clothes' situation?

* As you might expect, some of the snappiest dressers of the Golden Age, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable, William Powell, James Stewart, Peter Lorre and more.

Sources and Resources:

Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design by Deborah Nadoolman Landis 

Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer by Jay Jorgensen

Long Live the King: a Biography of Clark Gable by Lyn Tornabene

Mitchum: In His Own Words edited by Jerry Roberts

It's Only a Movie: Alfred Hitchcock A Personal Biography
by Charlotte Chandler

Day of the Peacock: Style for Men 1963-1973
by Geoffrey Aquilana Ross

Errol Flynn: The Life and Career by Thomas McNulty

Hollywood Costume by Deborah Nadoolman Landis

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson Mayer 

George Hurrell's Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992 by Mark A. Vieira Includes Carole Lombard, Mary Pickford, Jean Harlow and Veronica Lake. Also includes John Garfield, Humphrey Bogart, Lon Chaney and Tyrone Power.

Spencer Tracy: A Biography by James Curtis 

Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man by Mick LaSalle

The North American Newspaper Alliance, February 23, 1938

The Daytona Beach Morning Journal, May 16, 1950

Our California State Taxes: Facts and Problems by Hobson Dewey Anderson

Hollywood Costume: Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock: Legendary costume designer Edith Head and her collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. A talk by Deborah Nadoolman Landis at V&A's 'Hollywood Costume' exhibition; via YouTube

Portions of State/Federal Income Tax Returns of Charles Laughton years 1934, 1935 United States Circuit Court of Appeals Transcript, Office of the Internal Revenue. Digitized into Public Domain 2010.

Rudolph Valentino: www.AriesArtist.com Tshirts
Rudolph Valentino: www.AriesArtist.com Tshirts by keithmcdowell
Shop for Rudolph Valentino T-Shirts online at Zazzle.com
Rudolph Valentino as The Son of the Sheik 1925 Print
Rudolph Valentino as The Son of the Sheik 1925 Print
Do you know what I have to pay for this?! by slicktees

Related Pages of Interest:

Classic film actors jobs, clothes, tools of the trade Tour film stars' closets, more 

Tell them Clark Gable Left his jacket at your place

Dressing Gable, Rathbone, Robert Montgomery, Marlene Dietrich
It's 1930, Sherlock Holmes, Cary Grant's Stand-In talks about his duties


Sources listed may be used for any of the posts in the series. Major updates and corrections if necessary will be noted with a date.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Piano dance Tom Hanks and James Cagney

Piano Dance: Fun with James Cagney, Tom Hanks, Liberace

Big Tom Hanks Robert Loggia
classic dancing on piano scene
James Cagney did it in 1937. Tom Hanks in 1988. Wild and Crazy Mr. Hanks has had a hankering to do it again and again. He did it with Sandra Bullock on TV in 2013. 

You can do it in the privacy of your own home. Honey Boo Boo & Mama June did it just this year. Bet you know what it is.

Can you believe how long it's been since we first saw the movie, Big? There's a 25th Anniversary Edition DVD set. It wasn't the first movie that Tom Hanks made, but it was the first one that brought him a nomination for an Academy Award. 

Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia are dancing out the song, Heart and Soul. The music by is Hoagy Carmichael and lyrics by Frank Loesser. 

Sometimes the song is identified as The Celebrated Chop Waltz, better known simply as Chopsticks. Do you play these on your piano? By yourself or with a partner, solo or duet?  In 1877 Chopsticks was written by composer Euphemia Allen under the pseudonym Arthur de Lulli. 
Liberace at his home the piano shaped pool

"Please Mr. Music, will you play?" (A little allusion to the ending of A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Hugh Laurie would play piano while Stephen Fry would make and shake his cocktail alongside.)

Liberace had a respect for the classics, including the song, Chopsticks. Unlike the amazing Jerry Lee Lewis, Liberace doesn't get his feet onto the keyboard in this performance. .... But what about Cagney?

"Johnny Boyle was, if anyone can be so credited the creator of the Cagney dancing style at once highly eclectic and uniquely street Cagney, a mix of George M.Cohan (whom Boyle had worked for), semi-ballet and down-to-earth vaudeville hoofing.

"Dancing much more than acting was in those years Jim's greatest creative joy. As he points out In Cagney by Cagey he says he considered dancing 'a primal urge to life at the first moment we need to express joy. 

"'Among the pre-language aboriginals possessing no music and the most primitive rhythm, I suspect dancing became their first expression of excitement. And an extension of that idea is embedded in my belief, quite applicable to myself that once a song-and-dance man always a song-and-dance man.'

James Cagney once said, "I have had highlights in my career like any performer, but inevitably there are some higher than others, and I am pretty sure that there is almost no greater moment for me personally than in the middle of Something to Sing About when I had the great honor, the real privilege of doing that number with Johnny Boyle and Harland Dixon."
-- Cagney by John McCabe

Ruby Keeler, Lee Dixon Ready Willing and Able 1937 dancing on a typewriter keyboard

"My mother told me I was dancing before I was born. She could feel my toes tapping wildly inside her for months."
-- Ginger Rogers

"Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk..." 
-- From the 1977 ABBA song, Thank you for the music, Featured in Mamma Mia

The 1937 film, Something to Sing About, included a routine with giant piano moment for Cagney.

Jimmy Cagney played George M. Cohan in his Oscar winning role in 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy. 

When people think about actors who danced, the great dancers of the golden age of Hollywood, some names aren't mentioned as often as others. James
Rita Hayworth piano dance
Cagney isn't remembered as often as I think he should be. George Raft was also a dancer. We too rarely gave credit to the influence and contribution of the African American dancers in front of and behind the cameras. And of course, we should never list only male names.... But I digress, which is one of my specialties.

On a 2013 episode of the Jonathon Ross show Tom Hanks, was surprised with the giant piano. He got to do the dance with Sandra Bullock! 

Is it the biggest toy piano there is? Would you paint the floor of your hall like this? Need painted stair ideas? Black and white is a way to go.

Are there other movies where they did a dance like this? Chickens tapping out on a toy piano is really something kind of different. :-)

Links to Books, Related Pages of Interest:

The popular Winfun Step To Play Giant Piano Mat allows you and your kids to play, get exercise, have fun and make music at home.

Cagney by John Mccabe 

James Cagney the making of Yankee Doodle Dandy, George M. Cohan's life story

Remember Bosom Buddies, Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari 

In 1975, Elton John was the Pinball Wizard in the movie version of the rock opera Tommy. He wore some big boots and played a big keyboard

We have taken broken, discarded pianos, recycled and re-purposed these old instruments

Tour FAO Schwarz: A Walk-through

The oldest toy store in the United States

Cameo appearances by the Giant Piano
Lego Statue of Liberty and Batman, Saying Hi to Hello Kitty

Dressing Male Stars in Old Hollywood; Provide Your Own Clothes; Hollywood actors rebel against high wardrobe costs, The Internal Revenue Service, Tricky Tax Deductions in the 1930s ...

Wedding dolls: Mattel Princess Grace Kelly, Prince William and Kate {being revised}
Some FAO Schwarz History and favorites:
The Old Sales ledger

The big teddy bear
Pferd the Horse, the Duck

Barney Google and his horse Spark Plug
Nutcrackers, Wizard of Oz
Tonner Hollywood Dolls

What's your favorite thing at FAO Schwarz?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hey Stella Dallas Kay Francis Barbara Stanwyck Angela Bassett

Hey Stella!

Barbara Stanwyck
Publicity Still for Stella Dallas
"Offhand how many girls or women whose names are Stella can you name? Not very many we think. However we may be wrong and perhaps you can rattle off the names of 10. So if you name happens to be Stella you don't have to go any further....

"What has caused the interest in this particular feminine name and inspired this search in the motion picture Stella Dallas, the famous story of mother love and sacrifice which comes to the Aldine Theatre on Friday.
Poster for the 1925 silent film
version of Stella Dallas

"Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley and Alan Hale are the stars of the new Samuel Goldwyn production, Miss Stanwyck playing the title role, Mr. Boles her husband and Ann Shirley her daughter.

Movie Star News Photo Print
I Found Stella Parish was 1935
"Perhaps this new and modernized motion picture production which brought fame before to Belle Bennett, Ronald Colman and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. will again rejuvenate the name of Stella."
-- excerpts from The Sunday Morning Star Wilmington NC, August 22, 1937

When the silent film version of Olive Higgins Prouty's story, Stella Dallas came out in 1925 a marked increase in the use of Stella as a birth name was noted over the next few years.

Prouty also wrote Now, Voyager. It was made into a 1942 film which starred Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Gladys Cooper and Claude Rains.

Do you share a name with a famous movie character? In High Anxiety, Mel Brooks played Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke. The H was for Harpo. His mother loved the Marx brothers. :-) 

Stella is a Latin name meaning Star. Looking for celestial names? Maybe you're into astronomy or science fiction. In the 16th century Sir Philip Sidney wrote a collection of sonnets, Astrophel and Stella. In some texts, the title is amended to Astrophil and Stella. Was this the first appearance of the name?

Stellaluna is a popular children's book written and illustrated by Janell Cannon. It's about a mother fruit bat protecting her child. The images are as wonderful as the story. I've heard of a mother of twins who named her children Stella (star) and Luna (moon).

What other movies are there with a character named Stella? Maybe even a title character? There was even a radio soap opera called Stella Dallas. 1930s movies are getting more popular. Check out Stella Adler's The Art of Acting, a great tool if you want to become an actor.

In 1937 that local newspaper was running a contest in conjunction with the film's opening to see how many women or girls named Stella they could find. A business can use something like this as a promotion. The first ten people with this name get in free.

I Found Stella Parish, starring Kay Francis 1935

Maybe the first one that comes to people's minds is A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.

The 2nd Annual Tony Awards in 1948 saw three women share the award for Best Actress in a Play. They were Judith Anderson in Medea, Katharine Cornell in Antony and Cleopatra and Jessica Tandy in the newly opened A Streetcar Named Desire. Interesting to note that there were no pre-announced Tony nominees before 1956.

Tandy played Blanche Dubois. Some others in that very first cast were Karl Malden as Harold "Mitch" Mitchell,  Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski and Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski.

Hollywood impacting fashion: When Clark Gable appeared without an undershirt in It Happened One Night (1934) sales of undershirts plummeted. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando made the undershirt and t-shirt back cool again and sales picked up noticeably. 


In the 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Elia Kazan, the cast was virtually the same with one difference. Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski, Karl Malden as Harold "Mitch" Mitchell. Vivien Leigh was Blanche DuBois.

Leigh won an Oscar for Best Actress at the 24th Academy Awards presented in 1952. Hunter and Malden received Oscars for Best Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor respectively. The film had even more nominations.

In a 1980 Sidney Lumet film called Just Tell Me What You Want, Myrna Loy plays Stella Liberti. The movie also stars Ali MacGraw and Alan King. This was Myrna Loy's final feature film.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back with an all-star cast, 1998. Angela Bassett is Stella. The film is from the Terry McMillan book. 

Angela Bassett Autograph 8x10

The first thing my friend thought of with the name Stella was Stella D'Oro Italian Cookies and Toasts. The biscotti can be dipped in wine or coffee, cappuccino is nice. We have relatives who make their own biscotti. You can dip it in chocolate, yum.

Stella Artois Belgian Beer 40-Centiliter Star Chalice

Vintage Ziegfeld Girl Makeup Mirrors
Vintage Ziegfeld Girl Makeup Mirrors by naughtybits
See other French Compact Mirror
Choose size and shape of compact

Links to Books and Related Pages of Interest:

Nurses in Movies: Drama

Keeping Time with Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor

Academy Awards Pre-1950: Auctions, Collecting, Returning

Mermaid and Aquatic Baby Name Ideas 

Stella Adler - The Art of Acting: preface by Marlon Brando compiled & edited by Howard Kissel

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chickens with Carole Lombard, Col Sanders, British Comedy, Hans Conried

Do you keep chickens?
Hens been on your mind lately?

Carole Lombard
and Edmund the Rooster
In the mid-1930s Carole Lombard, then just dating Mr. Clark Gable, had an assortment of pets, including dogs and cats, some of them rescues. She also had some ducks, a hen named Jessie and a rooster named Edmund. 

Every once in a while I talk about animals, how to help our pets, their appearance in films, mascots, the pets of celebrities, animal milestones, etc. Today:
  • What characters in Hitchcock movies had bird names?
  • Carole Lombard's birds
  • Favorite British TV shows with farming or nature themes
  • Remember Spofford?!
  • Could you have predicted the Chicken of Tomorrow?
  • How did Colonel Sanders start his KFC business?
  • What can Martha Stewart tell us about selecting chickens to raise?
The ducks were babies when the studio gave them to Lombard. The rooster and hens given to her by her servants - as a gag. 

She'll have to give up the rooster because of a clause in her Bel Air subdivision contract stating no poultry. His crowing is bothering her neighbors. She doesn't want to move.  Barbara Stanwyck said a sapphire ring Lombard wore in the early 1930s when still married to William Powell was the size of a hen's egg.

In 1939 Carole Lombard will move when she marries Clark Gable.

1937 film magazine clipping about Carole Lombard's pets, hens, rooster
Carole Lombard will have to part with Edmund Rooster

Bird-named characters in Alfred
Hans Conried Make Room For Granddaddy
Original 7x9" Photo
Hitchcock movies...

  • Marion Crane in Psycho
  • Captain Lesgate C. A. Swann in Dial M for Murder
  • Others??
In the late 1960s, actor Hans Conried performed the title role in Spofford! He is a retired chicken farmer who 'declares war on the big-city commuters who invade his hometown.' 

This light comedy set in modern day Connecticut. The show played in New York and traveled across the country.  

How did some old, iconic businesses get started, promote themselves?

"The grocery store A&P had long sold poultry feed for customers who kept chickens, and in 1947 it sponsored a contest to design the Chicken of Tomorrow, promising "a chicken with breast meat so thick you can carve it into steaks."  

Henry Saglio, a successful Italian America, of Arbor Acres Chicken Farm in Glastonbury, CT soon bred a flock of completely white-feathered chickens. He went on to breed White Rocks that had extra meat, reached maturity quickly and laid more eggs. The bird was a hit, taking second place in the 1948 competition.

July 1951 Saglio and Arbor Acres Farm chickens reportedly won that Chicken of Tomorrow competition. It was estimated that three out of every four chickens eaten in the US are offspring of Arbor Acres chickens. 

Arbor Acres White Rocks were judged best of all pure-bred stock in the industry and white-feathered chicken was on its way to revolutionizing the industry. Designer chickens?

Saglio was elected to the American Poultry Historical Society Hall of Fame in 1977 and was cited as "the individual most responsible for the direction taken by the broiler industry."
-- The Pittsburgh Press, August 14, 1987

A large Colonel Sanders statue on display
Probably at The Harland Sanders Museum and Café Corbin, KY
Who do you think of when you think of fried chicken? KFC? 

How did Colonel Sanders start his Kentucky Fried Chicken business?

Good Neighbors : Rosemary and Thyme
The great British comedy Good Neighbors, aka The Good Life showed a couple determined to live by self sufficiency. They kept animals and farmed their own vegetables. Today we might call what they were doing urban or organic gardening by sustainable means. 

Our own garden is forever getting larger. Friends of ours are considering keeping chickens. Make sure your community doesn't have any ordinances like the one Carole Lombard was facing. 

In one episode, Tom and Barbara Good have difficulty with their next door neighbors, also their best friends, because of the noise they're creating with some early morning equipment.

Another nature-themed British program, this one a drama is Rosemary & Thyme. It stars Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris. Professional gardeners, Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme solve murders in some gorgeous and eerie gardens in Europe. This show aired originally 2003-2006.

Martha Stewart keeps chickens. She has several varieties.

Related Pages of Interest:

The Top 10 TV British Comedies on Amazon Prime: Incl Good Neighbors Richard Briers, Felicity Kendall

Top 5 Hitchcock Chicken Scenes

Frank Thornton Are You Being Served? Richard Briers

Alfred Hitchcock's Blue Food Dinner Parties: The practical joke so nice he played it twice

Ducks and Geese in Movies: Fowl in Film

Joan Crawford Brentwood home
Check out other Kitchen Cutting Boards, dishes, pitchers, sugar bowls and more
You don't have to work at Mildred's Restaurant

Canary in Pink Jewels Tote Bags
Canary in Pink Jewels Ziegfeld? Louise Brooks Tote Bags by hermoines
Browse Canary murders in pink Bags online at Zazzle.com
Hans Conried: A Biography; With a Filmography and a Listing of Radio, Television, Stage and Voice Work  by Suzanne Gargiulo, Leonard Maltin

The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America by Marc Levinson

Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides  The reunions, block parties and picnics are coming up this summer. Avail. in Digital / Kindle or paperback 

Other Sources:

The Hartford Courant,  The Pittsburgh Press, The Schenectady Gazette, The New London Day, Motion Picture Magazine 1937; Col. Sanders image by Joel Kramer

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Harrison Ford, Strong and Silent Movie Star

Harrison Ford, Strong and Silent Movie Star
Two Stars, Same Name
Two stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame

What are your favorite Harrison Ford films? The Primitive Lover, Rubber Tires, Night Bride, Hell's Four Hundred, Food for Scandal, Lovers in Quarantine, Her Beloved Villain? Have you seen Who Cares?

Harrison Ford has worked with many of the  best-known actors and actresses including Constance and Norma Talmadge, Gloria Swanson, Bebe Daniels, May Robson, Alfred Lunt, Marion Davies, Clara Bow, Charles Ruggles and Wallace Reid.

Ford was born March 16, 1884 Kansas City, Mo. He was educated in Los Angeles and began his theatrical career in Syracuse NY playing in stock. 

While playing in Strongheart he became interested in the screen. He worked with the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. 

Late 1927, Famous Players-Lasky reorganized under the name Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation. Later it became the Paramount Pictures Corporation, now a division of Viacom.

Some of his other films included The Lottery Man with Wallace Reid, Girls and Easy to Get. In Proud Flesh 1925, directed by King Vidor, Ford played a Latin lover. He worked with some of the top actors and directors of silent films.

Mr. Ford was 5'10" weighing 160 lbs, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was married to stage actress, Beatrice Prentice for fifty years.

"He once told a reporter that his most embarrassing moment in the movies was when he was required to carry actress Corinne Griffith across a polished floor on a very hot day.

"'We started and on my first take my foot slipped and I dropped Miss Griffith to the ground... She was charming about it but my heart hit the floor harder than she did.'"
-- Los Angeles Times,   February 15, 2010

Harrison Ford with Constance Talmadge in
The Primitive Lover 1922
He left films in 1932 due to the arrival of sound. His final film, and only talkie, Love in High Gear, was released in 1932. 

He continued to act and direct in the theatre. During World War II, he toured with the United Service Organizations (USO).
Ford was hit by a car on September 13, 1951. He suffered severe injuries. He died on December 2, 1957.

The song, King of the Silents can be found on a few CDs, including Pop Duo Legends - Gallagher and Lyle. It's a musical ballad of sorts, an homage to the actors and actresses whose careers hinged on their voices, whether or not they could play to a microphone when talkies came into style. Do you remember all the rigmarole with the microphones in Singin' in the Rain?

Harrison Ford, silent film actor has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6665 Hollywood Blvd. 

Harrison Ford's Walk of Fame Star on Hollywood Blvd
The silent film star is no known relation to the present-day actor of the same name who is Han Solo in the Star Wars trilogy and the star of such films as Indiana Jones, Presumed Innocent, 42, The Fugitive, Air Force One and American Graffiti. 
Harrison Ford receives Jules Verne Achievement Award 2002
Indiana Jones Fedora
Bailey Briar Hat, Choose color

For adventures, travel, work,
flea markets...

Current day actor, Harrison Ford's Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, received May 30, 2003 is located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. He was born July 13, 1942.

Many people thought the silent film actor's star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame belonged to the other Harrison Ford, until Ford finally received his own star in 1993.

We can celebrate both of these talented Harrison Fords and their contributions to the silver screen.

Related Pages of Interest:

Celebrity family members who have Hollywood Walk of Fame stars next to or near one another

Sources include The Los Angeles Times, Who's Who on the Screen 1929, Wikipedia