Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stars Have Fun in the Sun: Part One

Now that we're into summer and everyone is enjoying outdoor activities, I thought it would be fun to see what our favorite classic stars were up to when not churning out movies.

Jane Russell takes her curves to the beach.

Janet Leigh puts in some time on the high seas. 

Jane Greer, Martha Hyer and friends soak up some rays. (Don't forget your sunscreen, ladies!)

Jean Parker finds a nice spot on the beach for a day of relaxation and posing. (We see you, Jean!)

Jinx Falkenberg puts in some exercise time in heels and an insanely sexy workout outfit.

Rita Hayworth, blonde perfection as she enjoys a day at the beach. 

Hey, ladies, it's William Holden.

Isabel Jewell is a stunner on the beach. 

Joan Leslie gets ready to go for a swim in her backyard pool. 

Louis Jourdan gets ready for a game of tennis. (Nice tennis outfit!)

Marilyn Monroe glams it up at the beach. (There is no way any woman would show up on the beach with her there looking like that. Truly beautiful!)

I hope you're all enjoying your summer and looking just as glamorous while out there having fun. 

See ya soon and thanks for all of your kind words and support for my fellow Oklahomans!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Memorial Day: I Could Really Use a Wish Right Now!

This past week has been a complete nightmare! I've said over and over this past week that I have no words after what happened on Monday after 3:00 p.m. here in Oklahoma and I truly mean that. How can you put into words what my state has endured?

Just go look up 'emotions' in the dictionary and we've experienced every one of them. It really is amazing that you can experience, fear, terror, heartbreak, shock, sadness and relief all within a span of 45 minutes in one given day.

Now that I've put my feelings out here and I realize this is a blog that you come to for entertainment I do feel a bit selfish right now. But, this blog isn't even three years old and before now I've never felt this gutted, stunned or this heartbroken.

BUT, in spite of all of this heartbreak and sadness, if you've seen the news footage of just how horrible things are right now here.  I wanted to share this video of a tornado survivor here in Moore, Barbara Garcia. She is tenacious, adorable, resilient and she will make the toughest of the tough shed a tear when she finds her beloved dog. (She reminds me of my grandmother.) God speed to you, Barbara and Bowzy.

If I could have a wish right now it would be for all of us to have one chance to undo May 20th. The children, the parents who are suffering and the first responders who will never be able to unsee what they've seen over this past week. One day, just one day to go back and undo it.

God Speed and spend your Memorial holiday loving one another, spending it with laughter, kindness and without regret.

If you haven't already and you would like to donate to the Red Cross, you can do so by texting to 'REDCROSS' 90999 to donate $10 or by going to their official site HERE. Thank you to the courageous teachers and first responders who saved lives. We can't thank you enough for your putting your lives on the line.

It might sound like I'm broken but I'm not. I will be back, blogging very soon. I just need a bit of time.  (Mary Astor is waiting for me after all and King Vidor's mansion.)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mary Astor: Part Two of Three

If you missed Part One of my bio for the Mary Astor Blogathon you can read it HERE

Before I begin part two I wanted to share my mother's thoughts on Mary Astor. We were on the phone late last night, having one of our marathon gab sessions about old movies and I mentioned that I'm participating in the Astor Blogathon etc. My mother is a riot and she doesn't mince words. I had no idea that she felt the way she does about Ms. Astor.  I just had to share what she said since it is Mother's Day and all.

My Mom after I asked for her thoughts on Mary: "Do I have to watch one of her films? Please don't make me watch one of her films on Mother's Day! I refuse to watch one of her films on Mother's Day. Just give me a good Charlie Chan film. I didn't like her! She always had her nose stuck up in the air and I don't like prudes. I can't handle her! I just can't imagine Humphrey Bogart wanting to be around her, I bet he had so many problems doing a movie with her.. I bet he wanted to trip her or something worse."   (I think you can now understand where my snarky wit comes from.)

This is my favorite portrait of Mary Astor.

When we left off, It was 1921 and Mary had just secured a six month contract with Famous Players Lasky at their Astoria, NY studio.  

She was given a walk on part in SENTIMENTAL TOMMY, starring May McAvoy and Gareth Hughes. While her scenes were left on the cutting room floor, she remained in the films publicity stills. After a few more weeks of waiting around, she was given an uncredited, bit part in the propaganda short, BULLETS OR BALLOTS. This time the entire film was shelved and with that her six month contract had come to an end and she was back to going to casting offices hoping for another big break, with her determined father in tow. You see, during that six months, he was busy spending her salary of $60 a week. First, they were moved to a larger apartment in a better section of New York and with that new furniture had to be bought. Daddy needed a new wardrobe and walkin around money too.

Out of work again to the frustration of her parents, it was her good friend Albin who came through for her, giving her the big break, the one that would make her a star. Albin introduced her to the famous photographer, Lejeron Hiller who took to her immediately, offering her a job as the face in a series of two reel films based on famous paintings. While Mary didn't speak in the films, she was used as the pretty farm girl who poses for an artist. The critics took notice and they demanded to see more of her on the big screen. 

Mary was only 15 going on 16 when she first saw her name in lights. She still had three years of high school left but it was decided that her classes, even home schooling was not of importance now. She was on a very strict schedule of six hours a day of piano lessons, then dance lessons several days a week. It was also decided that she would continue to be chaperoned everywhere by either parent and friends, beaus were not to be tolerated as they were an unwelcome distraction. Nothing would interfere with her acting career now that she was on her way to becoming a star. Daddy worked too hard on "The Great Idea" for Mary to mess things up now. 

Mary's autograph from my collection

Mary would finally appear in her first feature length film, JOHN SMITH with Eugene O'Brien in 1922. Shot on location, it was a welcome escape for her as father stayed at home. This time it was mother who watched over her every move, now a permanent fixture on every set. After a couple more pictures, Mary was given a new contract with Famous Players Lasky. This time for a year and at $500 a week. 

Never one to put money away, daddy got busy looking for an even better apartment which he found in Jackson Heights, Long Island. Of course this one needed new furniture and a baby grand piano.

While Mary was coming out of her shell, making new friends in the movie industry, at home nothing had changed. Father was still very controlling and critical of her every word and suggestion of a little independence. 

Luckily, in just a few short months, Famous Players Lasky would get Mary the break she needed from daddy. At least for awhile. Mary was sent to their Hollywood studio in 1923 to start filming another silent picture. She was almost seventeen by now and beyond giddy at the prospect of seeing Hollywood for the first time. With mother as her constant companion, of course. They were put up at the glamorous Hollywood Hotel but it was decided that they would forgo their rooms there to save money for daddy's renovations to the home on Long Island. They settled on simpler digs at the Hillview Apts.

The Hillview Apts on Hollywood Blvd as they appeared when Mary and many actors resided there during the early 20s.

It certainly isn't the luxurious Hollywood Hotel but I think it's a fine looking place to live for any 17 year old. Other famous residents of Hillview were, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Rudolph Valentino and Laurel and Hardy.

This is the Hillview Apartments today. Now the Hudson Apartments at 6531 Hollywood Blvd. If you want to live in West Hollywood and where Mary Astor once lived, there are still apartments for rent here. (If you look closely, you can see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and it's stars right outside the apartment entrance.)

The front entrance with its lush red carpet, ornate iron doors and Art Deco lobby.

After filming her second picture for Famous Players Lasky, some things changed for Mary that would affect her personal life for years to come. First, daddy closed the NY apartment and joined her and her mother in California. They would remain at the Hillview Apts, opting for a larger two bedroom. 

The second important thing that happened was meeting John Barrymore, who had been following Mary's career. He wanted her for his next picture, BEAU BRUMMEL which would be filmed at Warner Bros. They would pay Famous Players Lasky a mere $1,100 for the loan-out of Mary.  She recalled in her autobiography that her father was furious about this deal. He went into the studio front office and raised hell over it. She, on the other hand thought it was worth it to get to work with the greatest actor of her time. 

The historical drama was very successful and Mary enjoyed her time working alongside Barrymore. They grew very close during this time and he made her feel comfortable, often complimenting her and being most patient with her as she honed her acting skills.  Underneath his kindness there was also an attraction brewing for both of them. Mary was seventeen and John was forty and married to the poet, playwright, Blanche Oelrichs when their affair began. An affair that nobody knew about with the exception of one of Mary's closest friends.

Mary was a naive seventeen year old but she could not deny the fact that she was in love for the very first time. Madly in love with a man that she thought was perfect. She would go on to describe John, or Jack as she called him, in this way. "To me, everything he did was perfect, but I am sure that even an impartial judge would be impressed by his unassuming friendliness among the other players and workers. He was the first star I knew who behaved like a human being around the set, without a hint of affectation or condescension. But he always preserved a sense of dignity. You could never quite forget that he was John Barrymore."

With John Barrymore in BEAU BRUMMEL, 1924 (Their age difference is quite apparent here. Mary looks like a little girl playing dress up.)

Since Mary and John weren't content to just see one another on set, he got busy trying to get closer to her parents, often stopping by for dinner at their Hillview apartment. Of course these weren't your average parents as they watched John like a hawk and never left him alone with their teenage daughter. Smart on their part. John Barrymore was a married man, 23 three years older than Mary not to mention he had a baby daughter at home. A daughter that was conceived while his current wife was still married to her ex husband. That marriage, John broke up, not caring that Blanche had two small sons from that union. Such shenanigans and shady acres going on with that man. (I bet even Charlie Chaplin was giving him the side eye!)

While Jack did what he could to garner the trust of Mary's parents, he loathed her father. It didn't take him long at all to realize that he was a controlling, know-it-all and manipulative man. Meanwhile Jack hatched a plan to get Mary out of the house and away from their watchful eye. He wanted to teach Mary acting and to do so, he needed time with her at his more comfortable suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Everyone agreed that Mary would benefit greatly from the talented John Barrymore studying with her. She was his little project, so they thought. And mother went along with Mary to his suite just to be on the safe side. 

In the time that they were together, in the evening and on weekends, John taught Mary many things. like, art, literature, music, philosophy. This was the happiest she had ever been. She finally felt needed and comfortable in her own skin. She was also kept busy at the studio, appearing in four more successful silents after BEAU BRUMMEL was completed. (I really wish UNGUARDED WOMEN wasn't lost. The drama which also starred Bebe Daniels and Richard Dix is just one of many silents from Mary's early career that was either lost or destroyed.)

The poster for OH, DOCTOR! 1925. One of Mary's early comedies with Reginald Denny and Otis Harlan that wasn't lost.

Once, BEAU BRUMMEL was completed, John went back to New York to start his run in HAMLET on Broadway. Mary felt lost without him but within a few short months she was back in New York, filming another picture where their romance would intensify. John had taken up permanent residence at the swanky Ambassador Hotel and every evening at six, he would summon her to his suite. She didn't come alone though. Not yet eighteen, she was accompanied by her father and driven by their new chauffeur. John's wife, Blanche was now living in Paris full time with their daughter. He had finally done the right thing and asked for a separation. 

They were head over heels in love with one another and the only downside to this arrangement was they couldn't express their feelings to anyone else nor spend the night together, ever be alone for long periods of time. Not ever experiencing a normal relationship though, Mary was content with this arrangement. John made her happy. He was attentive, he took her seriously and he treated her like his peer. The subject of marriage was even discussed between them. She knew Jack was serious about spending the rest of his life with her and she couldn't be happier.

After a few months of domestic bliss, Mary was sent to Alberta, Canada to start filming ENTICEMENT with Clive Brook. She was now eighteen but still under her parents total control. That wasn't about to change any time soon either. 

By the time Mary wrapped up filming in Canada, Hamlet was at the end of it's run in New York. Jack was getting ready to head over to London where Hamlet would run at least a year.  Mary was heartbroken as she had to return to Hollywood to start filming back to back pictures. She suffered in silence, went through the motions on set. Unable to even express her feelings to Jack in letters, as her parents read her mail before it was sealed and sent off. Whenever Jack sent telegrams, they were for the entire family with a few hidden codes for Mary. 

Astor would star in six films during 1925 while John was away. All successful with DON Q SON OF ZORRO being the most recognized today. She was one lucky eighteen year old to be able to star opposite the original swashbuckler, Douglas Fairbanks. (I actually have the poster for DON Q somewhere. It's in one of 10 boxes that I don't feel like digging out of a closet right now but I'll add it when I find it. )

Mary with Donald Crisp in DON Q SON OF ZORRO, 1925

With Douglas Fairbanks in Don Q Son of Zorro, 1925

It was also during this time that Mary bought a mansion in the Hollywood hills for her and her parents on Temple Drive. Mary would describe it years later as "showy and ornate". With a new house came a new maid and a new Pierce Arrow limousine with it's own chauffeur. Since Mary was handing her checks over directly to her father, all purchases were his idea and for his comfort. Mary was still brooding over Jack and going through the motions at the studio. Any pleasure she felt during this time with the change in locale was a larger, more private suite for herself away from her father's prying eyes and ears. There were also lush, well manicured, secluded gardens where she could stow away and read, daydream about happier times with her lover.

Mary wasn't all that crazy about the estate and its Moorish design. It was ostentatious and secluded behind large concrete walls and iron gates. During the early 20s it was really secluded with just a few homes in that area and you had to drive up a very long, winding driveway to reach the house from the front gates.(Personally, I've been fascinated with this estate for some time and wanting to feature it.) Charlie Chaplin also rented the estate in 1921 before buying a larger estate (I'll be covering his homes at a later date). It's still very secluded and it was on the market just recently and listed through MLS.

An early postcard of Mary Astor's first Hollywood Hills home at 6147 Temple Hill Drive. Previously rented by Charlie Chaplin in 1921.

Mary enjoys some reading on the front steps of her Temple Hill Drive home. c. 1926

A view of the towers with their East Indian design.

The beautiful gardens and privacy walls as they appeared recently in the MLS listing.

Mary still wasn't allowed to socialize with anyone from work and she certainly wasn't allowed to go on dates, or even outings with girls her own age. Her father viewed anyone outside of the family as a threat to his authority and control over the family.  Her mother was still with her on set every day but once filming on DON Q got underway, Mary started to cheer up a bit. She really enjoyed her time on set with Doug Fairbanks. While he was shy and awkward during their love scenes, he was a perfectionist when it came to his stunts, doing the 'whip work'. He was also more than willing to teach her a few tricks with the whip, and the swords. She found him very athletic and a true professional. One of the greats, like Barrymore.

The front gates to the estate on Temple Hill Drive. Still a very secluded property.

A recent aerial view of the estate with it's large grounds and interesting architecture.

The high shrubs and trees, allow seclusion in the now  very populated Hollywood Hills. (The backside of the home peaking above the trees. via Google Earth.)

A few more months would pass and she finally got word that Jack would be arriving back in New York soon. It just so happened that she would be making a film in New York for First National who she was now under contract with. She was full of excitement as she and her parents made the road trip back east. Jack was waiting for her at the Ambassador Hotel. They picked up right where they left off a year and a half before. 

Jack also had great news. He wanted Mary to play Lady Ann opposite him in Richard III. They would need to leave for London in just a few months though. Of course there was a roadblock. The roadblock that had been there since the beginning of their relationship. Her father! He forbid it. There was no way that Mary was going to give up her large salary at First National to sail off to London and make a pittance on the stage. Of course, Jack did not take the news well. He was more upset with Mary for not standing up to her parents for once and making her own decisions now that she was eighteen, going on nineteen. 

Where there was once a perfect relationship in Mary's eyes, it was now replaced with tension and annoyance. She didn't realize it then but she was on the verge of losing her first love.  They continued to see one another daily then it was time for Mary to head back to California while Jack, left for London once again. 

Mary, in Two Arabian Knights, 1927

Astor started filming THE SEA TIGER with Milton Stills and Alice White. As soon as that wrapped she shot TWO ARABIAN KNIGHTS with Boris Karloff and William Boyd then the romantic drama, ROSE OF THE GOLDEN WEST with that gorgeous, Gilbert Roland. All while putting her thoughts down in her diary about Jack. He was the only thing she could think of and this caused her nothing but heartbreak as she knew deep down that she had lost him forever by not standing up for what she wanted for once. It was 1927 and she was beautiful, successful, a popular star, but the loneliest girl in the world. 

With Gilbert Roland in Rose of the Golden West, 1927

With the dashing Gilbert Roland. (I just found out recently that one of my dearest friends name his son Scott Roland after his favorite actor, Gilbert Roland. He has great taste!)

With that, I think I'm going to end Part Two here as my eyes are starting to glaze over. Boy, I had no idea this would be so long and I know this is a lot of reading. This may end up with Four parts. (How many of your are rolling your eyes with that news?)  There is so much to cover and Mary hasn't even gotten married, had children, been 'officially' dumped by John. Then the release of the scandalous diary, and the betrayals which led to the sensational court case. Thanks so much for joining me for Part Two and I do hope to see you back for the rest of the posts.  Oh, and more great photos of Hollywood mansions.

Below is a short video tour of the Hillview Apartments that was mentioned here and where many celebrities lived through the early years of Hollywood. (Now the Hudson Apartments.)

*If you are lucky enough to drive by any of the homes featured here, please keep in mind that they are private residences.

See ya soon!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mary Astor (1906-1987) Part One of Three

This is my contribution to the Mary Astor Blogathon, hosted by Dorian and Ruth. For the full list of participants and their wonderful reviews of Mary's films,just click on the banner on my sidebar or you can also find it HERE..

*Since this is a rather long bio on the lovely Ms. Astor, I will be doing it in three parts. This first part will cover Mary's childhood, her start in acting, how she was discovered, the friendships she developed with her co-stars, studio moguls early on which would propel her to fame.  The second and third parts will cover her career as it peaked, the scandals that plagued her life, her alcoholism and motherhood, marriages, to the end of her life. And of course I'll feature her Hollywood homes throughout the years.

**Also, I don't usually go into such great detail about a stars childhood but with Mary Astor, it really does allow us to understand her struggles in later years, and what she went through early on.

The doe eyed beauty, was born Lucille Langhanke to working class parents in Quincy Illinois. Though sadly, she felt throughout her childhood that she was in her parents way, an inconvenience and a burden. Especially to her father who she would later describe as a frustrated and embittered man who ruled their home with an iron hand at all times.

An only child, her first home in Quincy was a small flat above a saloon. A very lonely time for Lucille but she would find her first bit of happiness when the family rented a large Victorian farmhouse in the country when she was just seven years old. While they would only live at this residence for four years, it was here that Lucille found real peace and adventure on the vast twelve acres. Of course these adventures were for one, since she was not allowed friends her own age to stop by to play. The very few times that she was allowed to visit a neighbors home, she would find herself in trouble after reports that she was too noisy or nervous around other children.

When not attending the country schoolhouse with its two rooms, Lucille spent her days exploring the woods, and the nearby creek where she would daydream about a life where the father wasn't always angry and frustrated by her mere presence. A life where she could laugh, gossip and play dress-up with little girls her own age. Of course she had her dear mother, who could be funny and quite sarcastic when not worried about the head of the households disapproving lectures. There was no time for play, as this was a working farm. Well, one of fathers get rich schemes. This time it was raising chickens when he wasn't writing German teaching manuals. (Her father was a teacher but he spent his off time thinking up easy ways to make a fortune. Luckily for him his daughter was photogenic and talented but lets not get ahead of ourselves.)

With the beginning of WWI, the Langhanke's found themselves struggling to make ends meet, like many others during that time. No longer being able to sustain the farm, they moved back to Quincy into a very small home. (Later in life, Mary would describe it as a 'brick box', the ugliest house on the street.)

It was here where Lucille would learn to play the piano at her fathers insistence, a 'task' that she deplored but one that she did to please him. At 11 years of age, she just dreamed of finishing high school then hopefully going away to college. Perhaps ambitious thoughts for a child but this would be her way of escaping the physical and mental abuse at the hands of her father.

It was also during this time that D.W. Griffith's moving picture, Birth of a Nation was being shown in every small movie house across the country. To Lucille's delight, her parents were enamored with what they saw on the screen and attending the movies became the family ritual every Friday afternoon.

Her father took these outings to the theater very seriously, as he studied each actor, their faces, gestures. Lucille would soon realize that this was all part of his "Great Idea".

Olga Petrova, Clara Kimball Young, Mae Marsh and Lillian Gish would become the families favorite actresses with Mary Pickford failing to impress the Langhankes. She was dismissed as insipid and lacking depth.  As Lucille's father studied the faces and mannerisms of these actresses before him, it was quickly decided that little Lucille would become an actress as well. Whatever it took! Her parents began doing research, spending hours each day on ways to get their meal ticket discovered. (She must have felt relieved to finally feel wanted and not just an annoyance.) Thus, The Great Idea was born.

Lucille's parents started buying every movie magazine they could afford, first to clip the coupons for free perfume, and beauty item samples. It was while clipping these coupons that her mother noticed a full page ad promoting a beauty contest.  One of many contests during that time from movie studios, in the hopes of finding talented young females from across the country. All you needed was a photograph and a stamp. The rest was up to fate and catching someones eye, of course!

During this time, with motion pictures in the early phases, all films were being shot in New York. With Lucille's father determined to get her face in front of anyone of any importance where movie making was concerned the most important and only thing to do was up and relocate closer to the action. The furniture and anything of value was sold but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get them to New York so the family settled for Chicago for the time being.

The family settled into a small apartment on East-Forty seventh street. Lucille was told that it was only temporary as it was certain she would win the contest and they would be off to New York. Even when days turned into months, her father would not accept a job teaching as he needed to be ready to leave in a moments notice when that letter came in the mail.  Times were hard and they struggled to get by during this time. Financially and emotionally, as each month that passed, her father grew more irritable and frustrated. It was taking way to long for The Great Idea to garner results and the big payday.

As the months turned into years, Lucille's mother managed to find work teaching English Literature and Drama at an exclusive private school where she managed to get her daughter enrolled, not only in their school full time but in a drama class on weekends. A welcome escape for Lucille and one she really took to. All while father spent his days answering 'sucker ads' when not making a few dollars here and there, painting signs for department store windows.

As her acting skills developed over the next two years, and her confidence grew, there were many opportunities to get up on stage, a small stage, as the drama school held productions all around Chicago in parks, auditoriums and for soldiers and their families.  Lucille was having fun and she was becoming quite the actress as she approached the age of 13. Also a time when she started noticing boys and they noticed her with those big brown eyes and that unforgettable smile.  She was quite polished by now and sophisticated for her age.

As the years passed in Chicago, Lucille's father continued to enter her photo in every beauty contest he could find and each time they were notified that she was a runner-up. By 1920, he decided it was time to move on to New York now that they had a bit of money saved and Lucille could finish her high school education at home. He knew with all of his being that Lucille would be summoned by some studio mogul at any time and he needed to have her in New York and ready when that day came.  So off they went!

Now situated in a small two bedroom apartment on 110th street, father could now focus on getting Lucille her big break in motion pictures. He wrote letters, made phone calls, to the editor of Motion Picture Magazine until it finally paid off. Lucille was granted an interview with Eugene Brewster. A date and time was set for them to meet at his estate in Roslyn where a screen test was set up for several young hopefuls. (These days, her father would have probably ended up in jail for harassment and stalking!)

Mr. and Mrs. Brewster had their mansion and it's grounds turned into a mini movie set with makeup artists and costumes at the ready. Young men were given lines to read opposite the young hopefuls who were all doing their best to steady their nerves and comprehend what this day might mean for their future if lucky enough to be chosen.

Lucille was introduced to Charles Albin, the famous fashion, society photographer who was filming the young hopefuls that day. A chance meeting that would lead to a very long friendship between them. Albin felt she had a "Madonna quality" and she was enamored with the fact that he had worked with her idol, Lillian Gish.

At the end of the day, father and his tenacious drive for "Fame and Fortune" paid off. Lucille was soon on her way out to D.W. Griffith's studio at Mamaroneck. He had built the studio which sat on 28 acres on Orienta Point after the success of Birth of a Nation. It was here that he would continue to make films with the Gish sisters and other stars over the next five years before heading out west.

D.W.Griffith's movie studio at Mamaroneck New York. Where Mary Astor would film her first screen test in 1920. The studio covered 28 acres of the old Henry Flagler Estate.

As Lucille and her parents arrived at Mamaroneck, they expected to meet D.W. Griffith but it was Lillian Gish who greeted them instead. She was a big help to our young starlet that day, showing her how to apply mascara and how to use the grease paint before sitting herself in a chair to guide the cameramen and the lighting crew as the days shooting progressed. They didn't meet D.W. that day but here was her movie idol, showing her the ropes and going out of her way to make her feel at ease, comfortable. Surely that was a good sign.

After the long day of shooting, there was nothing left to do but return to their cramped little apartment and await the phone call that would come at any time. A contract would be offered and father could finally relax, at least for a day or two. His hard work and dedication had finally paid off, or had it?

The family got word that Lucille was passed over for someone else. No explanation was given and all calls to the studio were ignored. Just like that, they were back to square one and they had no idea what went wrong. After a few tears, Lucille managed to gather herself and as the weeks passed she was being dragged all over New York to every casting office that her father could get her in the door to. This daily routine went on for months until it was decided that Mr. Langhanke needed to find real work before the family starved.

Having adapted a book into a screenplay and thinking he could peddle German translation of some movie scripts to the local studios, he set his mind on his next get rich quick scheme. One that would finally pay off. He was given a meeting at Famous Players Lasky Studios in New York. It just so happened that he had one of Lucille's publicity photos with him that day.  Mr. Durant in the front office wanted to meet the beautiful young girl in the photograph so Lucille was quickly summoned.

When she arrived at their offices, she was greeted by Jesse Lasky, Walter Wanger and Louella Parsons.  Things moved very quickly from there. Within an hour of their meeting, Lucille was shuttled off to do some clothes shopping and to get her hair done. By the end of the day she was signed to a six month contract at Famous Lasky Players for sixty dollars a week. It was also during this time that the publicity department got busy in finding Lucille Langhanke a new name. Mary Astor was chosen and a star was born.

Mary was instructed to show up for work at the Astoria studio. An overwhelmingly large block of buildings. (The studio was only a year old when Mary began working there.) Since she wasn't of legal age, her mother had to accompany her each day. A task that her mother was more than thrilled to do since she was also a huge movie fan and getting the opportunity to meet the stars face to face was a dream come true.

Mary could not believe that her matinée idols like Mae Murray, Rudolph Valentino and May McAvoy would be working just a few feet away from her. Of course she wasn't allowed to speak to any of the 'stars' but just knowing that they were in the near vicinity of where she was being given the studio tour and introduced to the different departments assigned to making her a star, was more than she could have imagined. What any 15 year old girl from Quincy, Illinois could have imagined, I'm sure.

An aerial view of the Famous Lasky Players Studio in Astoria, New York. Now home to the Museum of the Moving Image. A must see museum for anyone interested in old cinema and artifacts used in the early motion picture process.

Since it's 3:30 a.m, I think I'll stop here. I shall do my best to get Part Two up tomorrow night after work then Part Three on Saturday. (I know, you thought the Blogathon was over on Friday and it is. I'm just trying to make sure there isn't a ton of reading all at once. So feel free to check back for the rest at your convenience.)

I know that my main priority is to get started on all of the wonderful entries in the Mary Astor Blogathon. I've been working such late hours that I haven't even gotten started but I promise to get to all of them before the weekend is over.  Until then, thanks so much for reading Part One.

All the best!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stars Celebrate Spring!

I say Spring because I wore a coat to work today and it was a record low 35 degrees here. With that said, I am behind with my Spring posts only because I just cant get into it with this global phenomenon. 

Also, I had been on a serious click with my Hollywood at Home series and I've been getting a lot of email and comments requesting that I feature certain stars. I have not forgotten that and I am taking your requests into consideration. Look for that soon. In the meantime I'll be participating in the Mary Astor Blogathon and then the Child Stars Blogathon in just a few days.

While the Hollywood at Home series is dear to my heart, I've committed to some great Blogathons so please bare with me. It's going to be a fun and packed summer here at My Love of Old Hollywood.

For now, let's see what our favorite stars were up to in their Spring photo shoots.

Marilyn Monroe glows among Spring leaves.

The lovely, Mary Martin spends time in her garden. *wink, wink!

Greta Garbo lets her hair down while getting some down time from the studio.  (Is it me or is this the happiest, relaxed you've ever seen her?)

Yvonne De Carlo has some fun on her front lawn. 

Rita Hayworth smiles for her fans like Kevin Dearny!

Merle Oberon enjoys the view from her beach house.

Marilyn Maxwell climbs a tree in a tight sweater and no shoes. (We've all done this, right?  No?)

Our delicate Audrey Hepburn among lilacs.

Mary Brian gets into shape.

Lizabeth Scott in her white shorts among rocks. One guess as to who this photo shoot was meant for. : )

One last photo for some of my younger readers. Raquel Welch. Bring on Spring and short, shorts! : )

Suzanna Foster gets some bike riding in on a nice Spring day.

Thanks for stopping by! I can't tell you enough how grateful I am that so many of you have my blog on your reading list and you take the time out of your day to comment here. I appreciate you so much!