Announcing The Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon!

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Get those typing fingers ready, kids, because the Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon is right around the corner! Can you believe how close 2016 is?!

The Specifics:

I’d thought of myself as a great big motion picture star from the time I was six. –Loretta Young

 From her screen debut at age four, to her last starring role, on TV, at age 76, Loretta Young carved her place in screen history as one of our brightest and most gifted movie stars. In honor of her 103rd birthday, let’s get inspired by her films and television show to pay tribute to the beauty of Miss Loretta!

What the what is this?

A blogathon consists of a collection of vastly talented writers, each contributing their own piece to the final product. Each participant’s blog will be linked from this page, and from the marvelous Now Voyaging blog. All I need from you is a movie, TV show episode, or general topic you would like to cover, for right now, so that I can add you to the official roster. When the dates come, you’ll post a comment on the official Blogathon main entry, leaving me a link to your blog entry. I’ll then add it to the page, so the entire universe (give or take a few minor, outlying galaxies) can see!

What do you mean by general topics?

Movie blogathons, by nature, generally consist of movie reviews. As we all know, though, an actor or actress is far more than just some performances. Are you keen on Loretta’s fashions? Go for it! Does her charity work fascinate you? Tell us about it! I’m open to many ideas, so feel free to send me an e-mail (KathrynGraysonFn@aol.com) if you would like to talk one over!

I’m in! What now?

Let your readers know that you will be participating by placing one of the banners or an announcement in your blog sidebar, linking back to this page.

There will be more banners to come, but feel free to use the one above, the following one, or create your own!

Loretta and her youngest sister, Georgiana Belzer.

Loretta and her youngest sister, Georgiana Belzer.

Are there any other rules?

Not really! I do ask that, since there are so many things which you may choose to write about, that there be no duplicates. Once a movie, episode, or topic is chosen, unless you feel you have some brilliant and hugely innovative way of discussing it, it becomes unavailable to anyone else. Therefore, should you decide between now and the time of the blogathon that you will be unable to complete your piece, please let me know, so I can make that available to others.

If you need ideas, here is Loretta’s IMDB page, listing every movie she appeared in, and every episode of her two series. Another invaluable resource is the Official Loretta Young Facebook, where you will find all manner of great information!

Also, everyone is more than welcome to join the fun at the new Facebook group dedicated to the Young sisters. We’ve always got new pictures, articles, and stories, and maybe you’ll get an idea there, too!

Roster:

The Cinema Dilettante: Take A Letter, Loretta- How Loretta Young Helped Pave The Way For Women In Television, Both On and Off Screen

Now Voyaging: A Night To Remember

Movie Star Makeover: Special Feature on The Loretta Young Show

Finding Franchot: The Unguarded Hour

Carole & Co.: Taxi!

Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings: And Now Tomorrow

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: The Story Of Alexander Graham Bell

Defiant Success: The Bishop’s Wife

PortraitsByJenni: Rachel And The Stranger

Back To Golden Days: Private Number

Stardust: The Beauty of Loretta Young

CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch: The Stranger

Speakeasy Classic Movies & More: The Life Of Jimmy Dolan

Girls Do Film: Platinum Blonde

Crítica Retrô: The Films Of Loretta Young & Tyrone Power

Old Hollywood Films: The Farmer’s Daughter

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Come To The Stable

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Sundays With Loretta 10.25.15

Loretta and Polly Ann Young, publicity for The White Parade

Loretta and Polly Ann Young, publicity for The White Parade

Today is Polly Ann Young’s birthday, and for those new to this Earth, she is Loretta Young’s oldest sister. I like to say that Polly Ann invented being a gorgeous Daughter Of Gladys.

Anyway, this little voice in my head keeps saying, “Write about Polly Ann, it’s her day!” I tell the voice that I don’t have much to go on, but voice is persistent and says that I have enough. Alright, voice. Here goes nothin’.

The following is an excerpt from The Things I Had To Learn, Loretta’s sorta-biography/sorta-advice column, as told to Helen Ferguson. Dear God, don’t let me be haunted by Helen Ferguson for doing this…

Dearest Pol and Bet:

Surprised?

A thank-you note from Gretch The Wretch? That it is- and as much of a surprise to me as it is to you! I swore I’d never thank you for that gruesome present!
So here I am- thanking you. Very Gratefully. And in writing yet!
Have you ever guessed how far-reachingly effective your little plan to “gift” me down a notch or two really was? How much I learned from it?
I was fourteen and I know now that I was very fortunate indeed. The breaks were coming my way. I took them, every one of them, as my due- and behaved accordingly.
I might very well have won the undisputed title of Miss Obnoxious- if you, dear sisters, hadn’t given me that unforgettable present.
I’d come home late. You and Mamma had waited dinner for me. I didn’t walk into the dining room, I made an entrance of it and throughout dinner, regaled you all with my opinions and petty complaints, one after another. I proclaimed that I intended to have a great many studio practices remedied- no one was going to push me around- yakkity, yakkity, yak!
Engrossed with my own concerns, plans, gripes, and convictions, I didn’t notice no one else said anything. Not that you had a chance to get a word in edgewise. Not that I’d have listened, anyway.
The intensity of your attention to my every word should have warned me.
But I was deaf and blind to all but me, myself, and I.
Dinner finished, I asked to be excused with exquisite graciousness. It was a benevolent little concession to good manners which must have been pretty ludicrous, after my self-absorbed monopoly of the dinner conversation.
I went up the stairs, calling out the time I’d have breakfast as though a dozen servitors were awaiting my instructions!
I came to the door of my room.
Your gift was on it.
You knew my most cherished dream was of the day when there would be a star on my door.
You had put one there.
I nearly died!
It was the mangiest, ugliest, miserablest-looking example of a star anybody ever saw. You’d crumpled up a lot of old newspapers and gicked them together with glue, and you’d hung the whole awful mess on my door.
You’d never done anything mean to me all my whole life before. And this, I told myself, was the meanest thing anybody ever did to anybody!
I wanted to pretend I didn’t see it, but I couldn’t get away with that. You’d made it so big I had to see it.
I wanted to protest. How could I?
I had left the table a loud-mouthed, full-blown queen. Now, I was silent. I opened the door and tip-toed into my room. I felt as bedraggled as that star looked, and it didn’t help when my conscience assured me that star was exactly the kind of star I’d earned.
I swore I’d die before I’d let you know. I swore I’d never let you know!
I faced up to that star.
I had earned it up.
I determined I would earn it down, if it took me forever.
One night, weeks later, when I came home the star was gone from my door.
You’ve a right to know I got a lump in my throat.
I was sure my star-less door meant you were satisfied that I had learned the star’s lesson.
I’ve told a lot of other people about the first star I ever had on my door and why it was there. It helped my conscience to tell it on myself.
Now, dearest Pol and Bet, I tell you. None of us will ever be sure I’ve thanked you enough. All that your star saved me from is impossible for us to know.
But I’ve got a pretty good guess. Haven’t you?
I’m sure grateful, kids! I do swear it.

Love, Me

The few things I’ve heard or read about Polly Ann Young Hermann range from her having been beautiful and amazing to… yeah, no that’s it. Again, as with Sally, everyone loves Polly Ann. She was a second mother to everyone- well, a first mother, depending on who is talking- and she was a kind soul. Obviously, from Loretta’s letter, even way back when Polly Ann was just a teenager, she was already helping to guide “Gretch the Wretch” away from being a spoiled, petulant child. Later on, she would be a guiding light for her own children and her nieces and nephews. I mean, this woman was the gold standard for awesome.

So, happy birthday, Polly Ann! I’m sorry that I don’t have more to say because you certainly deserve more than a couple of sentences. Thanks for being the protector. ❤

102515-13

Super Sally Saturday 10.17.15

MissSally1Last week, in my Sundays With Loretta post, I talked about an upcoming novel that would feature Loretta as a main character, along with her sisters. That book is now on store shelves, and as I meander through my own copy (because a true fangirl reads everything, sadly), I find that the author wasted no time in turning the sisters into whatever she needed them to be. There was very little care taken for accuracy, and while I know it is fiction, I feel that something of this magnitude should be taken with at least a bit of academic seriousness.

Since the beginning of the movies, we’ve had fan fiction about them and the people in them. In a local antique shop, there is a book called Ann Sheridan And The Ghost People Of Zanzibar (not the actual title, but approximate 🙂 ). This sort of thing may never go away, as even as recently as the 80’s and 90’s, authors like George Baxt published little murder mysteries with Golden Age stars as the investigators. They’re goofy, not meant to harm, and though they make reference to actual events, they are so far removed from the real lives of these people that they’re truly fictional. The main difference I find between this book and those is that there is a real possibility that someone out there could mistake the events of this new book as truth. The author dramatized some very real events, and made happen what she thought should have, or maybe wanted to happen, based on her own feelings. In that mix, we have many victims, as seemingly no one has been left out.

Chiefly, I want to talk about the terrible representation of the real, feeling, caring human that was Sally Blane. She’s presented as nothing more than bubbly, boy crazy, and with the edge of an attitude problem. Constantly, in the quarter of the book I’ve read, thus far, she asks about Clark Gable, wants someone to introduce them, and generally is a Gable worshiper. She’s treated more like a teenage school girl than an adult. At the time that the author has set the book, Sally was romantically linked to Russ Columbo, the ill fated “crooner” that many credit with popularizing the art. The most stunning oversight in the characterization of Sally is the failure to mention Russ. In fact, I feel as though the author read about these things, gleaning only the superficial, but left out the depth required. After all, even as a semi-major side character, if you’re using a real person, I feel that something must be used of their real personality. On September 2, 1934, Russ was shot in the head, accidentally, by his friend, Lansing Brown. Brown had been showing off and toying with two antique pistols, from his collection, under the assumption that both were unloaded. He said a match became stuck, somehow, and as he toyed with the trigger, the spark of the match was all it took to shot the unknown bullet.

It seemed that Russ’ “sweethearts” all had a common trait- they mothered him. Carole Lombard was quoted as saying that she loved him like a mother would her child, and Sally was known to say that Russ looked at her like a second mother. Attempts to create a love triangle were made by fan magazines, but it was never the case. Sally, Russ, and Lansing Brown were pals. Russ and Carole were closer to being an actual item, but she hesitated because of her recent failed marriage to William Powell.

The night that Russ died, it was Sally Blane who sat at his bedside. Sally stood watch, probably knowing the eventual outcome, but being the best pal a person could have, until the very end. Remember, Sally had only recently turned 24, at the time of Russ’ death. How many 24 year olds do you know who would even stick around, after figuring out that a guy her own age thought of her like a mom? But that was Sally- she cared, genuinely, about her friends, her family, and even strangers. To amount her to nothing more than a flirty child with too many boyfriends is a crime.

To the people who are now reading the book, with the knowledge of who Sally was, I know how much this just sucks. I’ve seen it before, time and again, where fiction begins to pour over into the realm of reality. I can only hope that these feeble attempts will somehow curb that.

If you’ve just read the name Sally Blane, in this book, without any prior knowledge of her existence, welcome. The only thing I can truly give the book credit for is getting some names who deserve attention out there. Sally Blane, “Bet” to her sisters, was a marvelous, joyful human being, whose life motto was that we are here to make other people happy. There is a lot to learn from Miss Sally, and I hope that you can separate that from what she was made into because she deserves it. I can honestly say that I’ve never researched another person who absolutely no one has anything bad to say about. So many people loved her, and I hope that those new to her will love her, too.

GretchBettyJane

Gretch & Bet ❤

Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, and what the tabloids are getting wrong.

Tabloid newspapers across the globe have been having a field day with a supposed incident that is written about in the upcoming book, The Life And Times Of Mickey Rooney. It is said that Mickey’s wife, Betty Jane, walked in on Mickey engaging in a sexual act with then 14 year old Elizabeth Taylor.

Now, I don’t profess to have any great love (or like, whatsoever) for either star. I do, however, have friends that adore Elizabeth Taylor, and I know that those people would go, and have gone to bat for any of the people I do love. Still, this heated opinion is coming from a pretty well non-fangirl place.

I will admit that some of the articles use Elizabeth’s name as just the person who happened to be the female lead, in the story. This isn’t to say that they, by any means, denounce Mickey’s supposed behavior, but they generally leave Elizabeth’s later reputation alone. I guess that’s something. Alas, there are also those that, while continuing in the pattern of not denouncing Mickey, choose to focus on Elizabeth’s sex life.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way- SHE WAS 14. I don’t care what the rumors are about her before or after that age, she was a minor. If a minor girl walks up to an adult male and says, “Hey, let’s have sex!” the adult male should have the mental capacity to realize that this is not right. This is a no bueno situation, and maybe even tell Mom Taylor that her daughter needs psychiatric advice. You don’t just rationalize having sex with a minor because they’ve had sex before. Secondly, her future sex life and her marriages have absolute zero to do with this. If this event did happen, an adult male took advantage of a teenage girl. That should be the end of the story.

Our next stop on the hit parade is the people who are once again crawling out of the woodwork like roaches in a filthy basement to tell people like me, who find such a huge disparity in the way each star is being treated, to leave poor Mickey alone. Let poor Mickey rest in peace. Think of Mickey’s poor family. Wah wah wah. You know, I’m just a reactionary, making what I feel to be very accurate observations on male versus female treatment. The authors of the book have a full facebook page, where they’ve done their level best to share every single site that has run this story. Not only that, they laugh at jokes about the incident, share it to other groups, where one author then goes on to whine and moan that the press decided to only pick up on this story. If you don’t like it, stop sharing it. Stop being proud of your tabloid publicity. ANYWAY, far beyond that, where are the rallies for people to leave Elizabeth alone? Again, 14 years old. Not an adult. How is it cool to say “yeah, look at all the sex she had, this is totally like her,” but not cool to say, “Mickey was a self proclaimed womanizer and even made a few up just to make himself look like a real manly dude… and all of that is gross WHY DID HE HAVE SEX WITH A 14 YEAR OLD.”

Please, you absolute puke for brains tabloid writers, get it into that soggy gap between your ears that past or future sexual experience does not equal justification for an adult to sleep with a 14 year old. For you imitation Chris Crockers, crying “leave Mickey alone,” No. This book is supported by Mickey’s family, who apparently finds the incident to be true. For anyone else who looks deep into your soul and finds a person who thinks that a man sleeping with multiple women is just being a man, while a woman sleeping with multiple men makes her a slut who would “do anything,” please educate yourselves. Also, let’s not forget…

SHE WAS FOURTEEN.

SHE WAS FOURTEEN, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees 10.12.15

Much to-do and speculation has been made, via our old reliable book Sweethearts, about the reason for Gene Raymond’s two year absence from the screen. According to Sharon Rich, it was because of an arrest incident, in January 1938. Why isn’t this on his record? Oh, naturally because Sandy Reiss said that Jeanette MacDonald paid the department $1000 in hush money, and MGM had the record fixed by changing the name from Mr. to Miss Gene Raymond. Mr. Mayer would then have Gene “blacklisted all over town for nearly two years.”

Mmkhey. Stolen Heaven, with Gene and “new star” Olympe, began filming in late December, 1937, and went on in to February of 1938. It was released on May 13, 1938, after which Gene embarked on a series of personal appearance tours. Now, pardon me, but those personal appearances were set up by the studio, which was in town, so… I’m confused at the contradiction presented, there. Gene’s supposed arrest was in January, he was still working, in February, and with the same two hands used to type that Mr. Mayer blacklisted Gene, Rich goes ahead and tells us that, well, he was still working. For Paramount.

So he does his personal appearance tour, which was noted in multiple magazines and papers. He turned down a contract because he wasn’t getting the types of roles he wanted. He decided to focus on music, which he did. The result of which can be seen in the December 1939 publication of his original song, Let Me Always Sing. (G. Schirmer) For those clever souls out there reading, saying to yourselves, “Well, that’s still over a year…” then please remember that writing music isn’t what Ann Sothern and Robert Young would have you believe it is, in Lady Be Good. You don’t just sit down with a phrase and have a hit on your hands 30 seconds later. I’m not saying that one single song took that long to write, but when one wants to go public with a thing, one wants to make sure one knows what one is doing, first. So, he’s working on music, no big deal. Jeanette encourages her stubborn husband every step of the way, because she’s a glorious human being and wife, and according to the accounts upon his comeback (various magazines, including the 1941 Photoplay that I have attached below), she was just glad that he learned the lesson he needed to learn, on his own. He wasn’t as foolishly stubborn about his career as before, and RKO welcomed him back with a contract offer, upon the success of his return picture, Cross-Country Romance. That began filming in April 1940, and was released in July.

The many discrepancies, not to mention contradictions, are obvious. Why would Mr. Mayer wait until at least the summer of 1938 to blacklist Gene? Actually, why would he blacklist him at all, if that would only make it known that the marriage of “his pet” to Gene Raymond was a fraud? The timeline is off, too, as we know that Gene was working professionally with G. Schirmer, to publish his song; it simply wasn’t in the movie profession. Shock, awe, movie people can do more than act. Granted, that’s a New York publishing house, but by God, they had phones, and Nicholas Schenck’s office was right there! I have no idea how long it takes to negotiate the publication of a piece of music, but even still, 24-16=8, which is 8 months short of two years, which is not nearly two years, but closer to a little over one year. Hooray for math, for it is your friend. Then we go from December 1939 to April 1940, which is way, way less than almost two years.

AND IT ALSO DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.

Photoplay1941p1 Photoplay1941p2

As a post script, today, I want to thank the people who have stuck by these efforts, whether I’ve been so busy that I feel like I might explode, and can only post a picture, or have actual time to pour into 1000+ words, in a post.