Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Fever in Hollywood: Part 4

It's time to take another look at our favorite stars as they enjoy Spring activities before Summer Fun arrives. With temps into the 80's here all week I may have to jump into my Summer series sooner than scheduled. In the meantime, dust off your exercise equipment, grab yourself a cool glass of your favorite Spring time beverage or throw on your favorite sun dress as we snark our way into Summer.

I'm not sure if Cyd Charisse is exercising or just showing off those gorgeous legs. Regardless, I'm jealous. Stop that!

There's nothing like enjoying a corn field on a gorgeous day. Well, not really but Corinne Griffith has found her way into one.  It looks like a good place to sprain an ankle.

Alan Ladd looks handsome here and the wagon wheel adds a nice touch. Everyone looks cooler with a wooden wheel or even better, farming equipment in their glamour pics. Get on that Sears Portrait Studio!

Ann Shirley is no Anna Pavlova but at least she's trying something original. The studio must have been out of lawn chairs, floaties or lawn games the day of her shoot. Poor girl didn't even rate a Bocce set.

Dorothy Lamour is picture perfect as she poses by her pool.  (Watch and learn Ann Shirley!)

Elizabeth Taylor is just lovely in her Spring dress as she scribbles out another Let's be friends note to Debbie Reynolds.

Rhonda Fleming giving her "Go sit down Betty Grable" pose.

Maureen O'Sullivan attempts to pull off a sexy pose in her garden. (see Dorothy Lamour pic or any of Olive Oyl.)

Douglas Fairbanks and wife Mary Pickford want us to believe they actually planted trees on their vast Pickfair estate.  Or maybe they're just assaulting their May pole!

Marilyn Monroe making a new friend. I'm sure the fence will be very sympathetic and loyal. Nor will it judge her choice of horizontal stripes.

Signo Hasso gets a tree AND a tennis racket to pose with. Somewhere Ann Shirley is in tears.

Ann Sheridan poses in what looks like very tight shoes. No wonder she looks so sad or it could be that ill fitting outfit. There's not enough wooden rails in the world to make this photo interesting. Just hop the fence and get out of there!

Rita Hayworth enjoys some sun! I hope she doesn't burn. Hold On Rita! Kevin Dearny is on his way with some sunscreen.

I hope you enjoyed the photos and you're having your own gorgeous Spring day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bebe Daniels (1901-1971)

The Texas born beauty found her way to the stage at a very early age, most likely at the influence of her parents. Her father, being a theater manager and her mother who was a stage actress herself had relocated to Hollywood while Bebe (born Phyllis Virginia Daniels) was just a tiny tot.

By 1906, the four year old had already appeared in two successful stage plays, The Squaw Man followed by Richard III. Within three short years she was given a small role in the film short "The Common Enemy", 1910. which was directed by Otis Turner. Yes, Bebe was present although a mere eight years old when motion pictures were just a toddler themselves.

During 1910, Bebe found herself in her first starring role as Dorothy in the film short "The Wizard of Oz" long before Judy Garland donned the ruby slippers for her iconic performance in 1939.  Not a bad start for a nine year old.  The first silver screen adaptation was taken from the 1902 Broadway musical, barely resembling the later screen version.

As Bebe continued to appear in film shorts, appearing in "The Savage" by herself in 1914 a certain studio head was taking notice of her talent, her presence.  Hal Roach offered her a role in his short "Giving Them Fits" which starred a very young and talented Harold Lloyd as his recurring character Luke de Fluke (Lonesome Luke).  Roach seeing the onscreen pairs popularity, pushed for a public romance between the two. They would be known as "The Boy and The Girl". Bebe was only 14 years old at the time while Harold was almost 22.

Bebe in a scene with Harold Lloyd. She was 15 and Harold was 22.

Although Lloyd's Lonesome Luke character brought audiences to the theater it mimicked Charlie Chaplin's "The Tramp character, which infuriated Chaplin. Hal Roach didn't see the issue as he churned out over 80 shorts featuring Harold as Luke with Bebe playing his love interest between 1915 and 1917.  (I must be missing something because Lloyd with his iconic oval spectacles and preppy attire don't resemble "The Tramp" at all.)

By 1919, Bebe had appeared in close to 200 shorts for Hal Roach Studios. It was during the end of 1919 while out with Lloyd that Cecille B. DeMille approached Bebe and offered her a contract with Paramount. Now 18 and with the experience of any acting veteran, Bebe accepted DeMille's offer hoping to make the transition over to dramatic roles.  

Bebe's first film at Paramount was the comedy "Why Change Your Wife?" 1920, starring Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan.  The first of seven full length films that year which included "The Dancin Fool" and "Sick Abed". Both starring the comedic actor Wallace Reid.

It was also during this time that Bebe purchased her second home on the beach in Santa Monica where she would live for several years with her mother and grandmother. Bebe found comfort in the ocean air and smooth sand during her weekends off from the studio.  By 1920 her dear father had passed on, leaving the Daniels women to fend for themselves.  Once Bebe started bringing in a good salary her mother retired so she could focus on managing Bebe's career, finances.

An aerial view of Bebe Daniels beach house as it appears today. Located at 1022 Palisades Beach Road, Santa Monica, CA. Bebe lived here full time by the end of the 1920's with her mother and grandmother. She owned the property until 1948, staying there occasionally after her marriage. (click photos for a larger view.)

A closer aerial view. She lived right down the sand from Marion Davies Santa Monica beach estate.

A street view of Bebe's beach house. Virtually unchanged as it appeared during the time she resided here. (If you find yourself here on a celebrity house tour please keep in mind that this is a private residence.)

Bebe's Beverly Hills estate where she lived prior to moving to Santa Monica full time.

Still working steadily in 1921 although in comedic roles, Bebe appeared in "Ducks and Drakes" with Jack Holt before starring in "The Affairs of Anatol" with Wallace Reid and Gloria Swanson again. The comedic drama would be her most successful film of 1921. 

As 1922 rolled around DeMille gave Bebe her wish, casting her in a non comedic role opposite Jack Holt.  The romantic western titled "North of the Rio Grande". She would get top billing in the drama "Singed Wings" soon after which co-starred Conrad Nagel and Adolphe Menjou.

Bebe in "Ducks and Drakes" 1921

Although Bebe appeared in only four films at Paramount during 1923 (compared to her usual 7-10) they were all quite successful. She would take top billing in the drama "The World's Applause" which co-starred the brilliant character actor Lewis Stone.  Then came "The Glimpses of the Moon" with Nita Valdi and David Powell. "The Exciters" would soon follow that year, pairing her with the dashing Antonio Moreno.  Perhaps it was this pairing which led to her most noted role the following year opposite Rudolph Valentino.  While Moreno was successful and a hot commodity it was Valentino who every actress of the early 20's wanted to star with, get close to.

Of Bebe's seven films during 1924, "Monsieur Beaucaire" was the most successful. The romantic lead was of course Rudolph Valentino with Bebe cast as his love interest.  Paramount spared no expense on the film from the sets, costumes down to the musical soundtrack that accompanied it upon it's release.  At 23, Bebe was already a veteran, having appeared in over 240 films by this time but it was the first role where she received glowing reviews. Quite the feat given her leading man's ability to keep all eyes on his every move, every expression.  (Guessing there were a few Valentino fans that would have preferred to scratch her eyes out!)  

Bebe would also take top billing in "Dangerous Money" which co-starred a young William Powell then the romantic drama "Argentine Love" with Ricardo Cortez. 

My autograph of Bebe Daniels was signed on the same page as Otis Skinner then Ben Lyon signed on the back side of the page. A lucky break for me! I'll be writing about Otis and Ben at a later date. (click on autograph from my collection and photos for a closer view)

I've got quite a few reproduction movie posters but this one from "Argentine Love" is one of my favorites. 

With James Rennie and Ricardo Cortez in "Argentine Love" 1924

Bebe continued her successful run at Paramount, taking top billing in another six films during 1925.  Still single she found very little time for romance, accepting a date here and there. On weekends she could be found around Hollywood at social gatherings or playing tennis with her celebrity friends. Unlike other mothers, hers wasn't domineering or controlling so Bebe came and went as she pleased.  

At the beginning of 1926, Bebe starred in "Miss Brewster's Millions" with Warner Baxter. Bebe would play Polly Brewster, the funny and likable character which was adapted from the stage play and then of course many years later it was changed to "Brewster's Millions" starring Dennis O'Keefe in 1945 then again in 1985 with Richard Pryor in the lead in the film. 

One of my old Henry Clive tins featuring Bebe Daniels.

Most of Bebe's early silents have been lost or they've deteriorated to the point where they can't be viewed. Unfortunately this is the case with many films of our silent stars.  One of Bebe's four films she made during 1927 that has survived is "Senorita" co-starring William Powell. The one silent of hers that I would love to see is "She's A Sheik", also from 1927 co-starring Richard Arlen, William Powell and Josephine Dunn.  You can't help but feel that the film pokes a bit of fun at Valentino's character as Bebe runs around dressed in her long white head scarf, Arabian attire. 

At the beginning of 1928 Bebe appeared in the very successful comedy "Feel My Pulse" which co-starred Richard Arlen, William Powell again. Although I haven't been fortunate enough to see this one it appears to have survived intact.  (If anyone has had the pleasure of seeing this one please share.) With the story-line: A rich but hypochondriac heiress inherits a sanitarium. What she doesn't know is that it's a front for bootleggers, a hideout for criminals evading the law. It sounds delightful!

With Richard Arlen in "Feel My Pulse" 1928

In She's A Sheik" 1927

As the silents were coming to a close right along with the roaring twenties, Bebe starred in only one film during 1929, "Rio Rita" co-starring John Boles, Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey. It was at this time that Bebe realized like so many successful silent actors before her that her star status at Paramount was coming to an end. Well at Paramount Studios anyway.  Paramount dropped Bebe right after completion of "Rio Rita". Ironic considering the film was a box office success and the title song Rio Rita sung by Bebe was also a hit record for RCA Victor. 

With John Boles in "Rio Rita" 1929

Bebe enjoys a game of table tennis with Charlie Chaplin. 

Now 29, she couldn't just give up acting, the only job she'd ever known so she accepted the only contract offered to her. Radio Pictures felt that Bebe, who had been a successful actress throughout the 1920's as well as someone with a fine singing voice, offered her a contract.  (I've watched every one of Bebe's talkies I can find over the years and I have to say that I don't see what Paramount's issue was with her. Her voice is certainly more pleasant than say, Greta Garbo's or even Vilma Banky's!)

Now settled in at Radio Pictures, Daniels appeared in four pictures during 1930, still attaining leading lady status.  The first being "Love Comes Along" followed by "Alias French Gertie" You know how we've all used the phrase Everything happens for a reason?  Bebe found herself co-starring with Radio Pictures popular leading men, a handsome young man named Ben Lyon.  By the time filming wrapped on "Alias French Gertie" Bebe and Ben were head over heels in love.  They would marry in a lavish Hollywood ceremony by the end of 1930 around the same time the film premiered.  

With leading man Ben Lyon in "Alias French Gertie" 1930

Bebe and Ben on their wedding day. 1930

With Lloyd Hughes in "Love Comes Along" 1930

At the beginning of 1931 Warner Brothers bought out Bebe's contract with Radio Pictures which worked out nicely for Bebe and her new studio.

Bebe's first film in 1931 would be the comedy short "The Stolen Jools" co-starring Stan and Laurel, Wallace Beery, Buster Keaton and Edward G. Robinson.  Her second film that year would be "The Maltese Falcon", co-starring Ricardo Cortez.  Like the remake, the film was a huge success for the studio along with garnering rave reviews for Bebe and Cortez. (I guess Paramount's loss was Warner Brothers gain although I'm sure Cecille B. was too busy creating his blockbusters to notice the goings on at other studios!)

It didn't take long before Bebe found herself pregnant with her first child, her daughter Barbara. She would give birth by the end of 1931, taking a few months off to spend time with her growing family. She returned to the studio in 1932 to appear in one film with Edward G. Robinson "Silver Dollar".  

Upon Bebe's return to work in 1933, she was would star in the Busby Berkeley extravaganza "42nd Street" along with it's all star cast.  Bebe would get the opportunity to sing again in the film that prompted the other studios to scramble to find musical scripts of their own.  Radio Pictures found their success in the Going Down to Rio sequels.  

Once "42nd Street" wrapped Bebe found herself loaned out again, this time to Universal for "Counsellor at Law" starring John Barrymore and Doris Kenyon.  The film was another box office smash for Bebe with William Wyler at the helm. Truly an enjoyable film that I know will get it's due during R. D. Finch's upcoming William Wyler Blogathon. 

With Edward G. Robinson in "Silver Dollar" 1932

Bebe as a blonde for "Silver Dollar" (not crazy about Bebe as a blonde. It makes her look harsh, washed out.)

Bebe and John Barrymore enjoy a break during "Counsellor at Law" 1933

By 1934, Bebe had been a working actress for close to 30 years. Happily married with a daughter and now a son Richard, she was looking forward to walking away from Hollywood. She and Ben wanted to go back to the theater but this time in England where they would find a quiet place in the countryside to raise their family, taking stage roles as they saw fit.  It all sounded so perfect but like every other star Bebe found herself in an iron clad contract which she couldn't break. Fortunately she was bound to only one film a year which she dutifully accepted. 

Her one film during 1934 would be the drama "Registered Nurse" co-starring Lyle Talbot.  Another year passed as Bebe found herself in another musical during 1935 "Music Is Magic". This time the lead role would go to the up and comer Alice Faye with Bebe taking a smaller part in the fairly successful film.

Ben and Bebe worked steadily in Hollywood until the end of 1938 when they finally found themselves free of the studios. After Bebe wrapped up production on "The Return of Carol Deane" they were ready to pack up and set sail to Europe for their quieter life, finally leaving Hollywood behind.  (At least for the time being!)

With actress Mayo Methot in "Registered Nurse" 1934

Bebe in "Cocktail Hour" 1933. Cheers!

Ben Lyon with Bebe and baby Richard, 1935.

By the time the Lyon's were settled in England, World War II and the hardships that came with it were enveloping Europe. They chose to remain in London where Ben signed up for the Royal Air Force while Bebe kept the home fires burning in between appearing in the occasional stage play. One of her more successful runs was in the London Production of Panama Hattie.  

It was also during this time that the BBC offered Bebe a radio show which she accepted and found great success.  As the war drew to a close the entire Lyon family found themselves in a hit radio show called Hi Gang. It really was all that the happy family could ask for, taking the children to work with them where they were given a few lines on a regular basis.  Hi Gang would continue on until 1945 with Bebe writing all of the dialogue for the program.  

Bebe with her husband Ben Lyon

As 1945 approached, Bebe received word that Hal Roach had a proposition for her in light of her success in Europe. He wanted her to return to Hollywood but this time she would be working behind the camera.  In 1945 the Lyon's returned to California where Bebe would produce films for Hal Roach at Eagle Lion Studios.  It was also upon Bebe's return to the United States that she was awarded the Medal of Freedom from then President Harry S. Truman.

Bebe worked steadily for Eagle Lion and her old friend Hal until 1948 when she decided it was time to return to London.  Just a few short years after the family's return they found success with yet another radio program called Life With the Lyons. It would have a very successful run from 1951 through 1961 when the radio program was made into a television show with the same name.

The family would remain close while living in the UK up until Bebe died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1971.  Bebe's ashes would eventually be interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood California. During her long and very successful career, Bebe appeared in over 300 films over four decades.  

Ben Lyon would remarry in 1974 to the actress Marion Nixon. They would remain married until Lyon's death in 1979 from a heart attack. The couple was on a Hawaiian Cruise at the time. His ashes were interred just one row over from Bebe's at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. You can view their resting place HERE.

I hope you enjoyed my look back at Bebe's life and career. Blogger has been acting loony today so I had to redo the entire post thanks to a weird glitz in saving things. So I do hope I haven't forgotten anything and that everything has some flow to it.