The Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon Is Here!

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Welcome, bloggers and readers, to our very first Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon, hosted by myself, Now Voyaging, and the Young Sisters Appreciation Group, on Facebook! Thank you so much to everyone who is participating! Below, you will find links to all of our brilliant contributors’ posts. Enjoy!

Roster:

The Cinema Dilettante: Something Of Her Own- The Loretta Young Show

Now Voyaging: A Night To Remember

Movie Star Makeover: How To Conduct Oneself As A Lady, with our resident muse, Loretta Young

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

Remember- if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me (Kayla) at KathrynGraysonFn@aol.com. 🙂 For those of you on Facebook who have yet to join us, by all means, please get in on the fun with the Young Sisters! And now, let the countdown begin to Loretta Day 2016!

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. ❤

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Happy Walter Pidgeon’s Birthday, Movie Nerds!

Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson doing the normal people stuff.

Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson doing the normal people stuff.

I must wish a happy birthday to one of my many fake dead husbands, today. Even though he was married to Ruth for 53 years, a girl can dream, can’t she? You know, there is probably some sort of psychological implication with the way in which I only fall madly in fangirl love with dudes who were married for 10000000 years to the same woman. Is it reliability? Trustworthiness? Eh, who cares? You’re beautiful, fake dead husband #3. Never change.

I AM LEGITIMATELY WEAK FROM THIS.

I AM LEGITIMATELY WEAK FROM THIS.

HOLY SHEARER, IT’S NORMA DAY!

Shhh don’t tell Jeanette we’re interrupting the Monday JAM…

May I present to all of you fine ladies and gentlemen of the… readership of this blog, or something, a day with the GREAT, the WONDERFUL, the ABSOLUTELY ALL THE TIME SERIOUS BUSINESS…

Norma Shearer

We begin our day with our exercises, to get the blood pumping.

We begin our day with our exercises, to get the blood pumping.

After that, a hearty breakfast, while humming the I Have No Idea What I'm Doing song!

After that, a hearty breakfast, while humming the I Have No Idea What I’m Doing song!

Oh Heavens! An emergency at MGM? We'll have to get ready on the go, today!

Oh Heavens! An emergency at MGM? We’ll have to get ready on the go, today!

Ah yes, testing out the new Studio Telescope, and only a real star would do, for viewing!

Ah yes, testing out the new Studio Telescope, and only a real star would do, for viewing!

A busy day, indeed! With so little time to rush to a business meeting with Irving and Marion, we must dress in what we have lying around.

A busy day, indeed! With so little time to rush to a business meeting with Irving and Marion, we must dress in any old thing we have lying around.

A break for a healthy lunch is in store.

A break for a healthy lunch is in store.

Then it's time for target practice! We're hunting for.... ohhh, I'll never tell!

Then it’s time for target practice! We’re hunting for…. ohhh, I’ll never tell!

With day just about to turn to night, we have just enough time to bathe...

With day just about to turn to night, we have just enough time to bathe…

Have an early dinner with Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond because someone told her that we were interrupting her scheduled day, and she demanded to be a part of this... for a tax write off...

Have an early dinner with Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond because someone told her that we were interrupting her scheduled day, and she demanded to be a part of this… for a tax write off…

And finally, we end our day with a rousing speech!

Happy Norma Shearer’s Birthday, Movie Nerds!

Pictures Of The Past

Let’s all wish Peter Lewis a very happy birthday and enjoy this wonderful, moving tribute that he and Chris Lewis put together for their beautiful sister, Judy.

Oh look, my eyeballs are… irritated by seasonal allergies and watering for no other definite reason, certainly not that this family has altogether ruined my ambitions of becoming an emotionless cyborg.

The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949)

HAPPY GINGER ROGERS’ BIRTHDAY, MOVIE NERDS!

Now, let us celebrate with a little (lot of) appreciation for The Barkleys Of Broadway.

OMFPRESH

(Allow yourself some time, dear reader, while I recover from the precious of that picture. OK, all good.)

There are a few facts we all know about Barkleys, namely that this was originally slated to star Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, capitalizing on their success in Easter Parade. Due to personal issues, Judy was unable to get past the rehearsal process, so Arthur Freed called a little lady named Ginger Rogers, who had a small history with Fred, back at RKO. You may have heard of their other movies before. 🙂 While I haven’t actually done research on whether Betty Comden and Adolph Green purposely mirrored some of Fred and Ginger’s actual professional experiences, for Barkleys, I know I’m not the only one who has noted how similar Dinah Barkley’s plight is to some of the professional road blocks Ginger, herself, went through. While she had a reasonably good thing going for her, in the movies, before her teaming with Fred, in Flying Down To Rio (which they completely stole from the stars of the show), her popularity exploded, alongside him. While she achieved some acclaim in solo films, through the 30’s, such as Stage Door, she suddenly had to prove that she was more than Fred Astaire’s arm candy and dance partner. Oh, and prove it she did, winning an Oscar, in the process.

Now, take out the whole married factor of Barkleys, and what do we have? Do I really have to type all that again, and substitute Dinah for Ginger?

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In some social circles, I’ve noted that saying this is my favorite of Fred & Ginger’s movies gets me some weird looks. Many seem to think this is somehow sub par to their RKO musicals, but I beg to differ. To me, this movie is akin to walking into Coldstone for ice cream and finding that they’ve still got your favorite flavor, but they’ve dyed it blue and renamed it Shark Week.

It.

Is.

Amazing.

Life changing, even.

There is a perfect balance of comedy and drama, both of which Fred and Ginger get to do. They don’t need back up! Well, OK, Oscar Levant’s snark is welcome in any medium and works really well here. By this time, 10 years after their last pairing, they’d both had time to grow as on-screen performers, but were still more than comfortable working together. This all adds up to a movie that welcomes the viewer in like an old friend. It’s infinitely rewatchable, which I can more than attest to. I was going to apply for a Guinness World Record for the amount of times I’ve seen it, but I lost count about 14 years ago at viewing 122.

barkleyshmm

The most maddening thing about dealing with people who snub this film is the attacks on Ginger’s appearance. From rabid Judy Garland fans who attack anyone who “dared” replace her to people who don’t have an ounce of creative thinking in their bodies and fill reviews with things like, “Ginger got fat!” the arguments against this movie tend to range from insulting to absurd. If Ginger Rogers, in 1949, is fat, then I don’t know how I can fit through doorways. Sorry, boys (who seem to be the only ones who comment on Ginger’s appearance)- not every woman can look like Vera-Ellen all their lives, nor should she. What is singularly hilarious about all of the detraction, though, is that everyone, at the time, knew this was something special. When Ginger walked onto the set, the first day, people cried over the reunion. While everyone on set was crying like a little baby (I imagine my past life was there, trying to find kleenex to cover my ugly snot-sobs), Ginger kissed Fred, and in true Fred style, he said something to the effect of “Let’s get to work.” And that was the beauty- Ginger was a consummate professional, and they could get to work. All said and done, MGM made a profit of over $300,000 on Barkleys. Not too bad for an old guy and a “fat chick,” huh?

fredgingerarthur

I like to think that there are other fans out there, like young me, who have been trained to think they are freaks for loving the crap out of this movie. To everyone, I say, “Let your freak flag fly, and let yourself go!”

I think Ginger may have said that last part, at some point in history… 😉

If you are one of the last remaining people on Earth, who doesn’t own this movie, I’m sorry. You’re going to have to write to Warner Archive or, I don’t know, Congress, because this movie is NOT FREAKING AVAILABLE TO BUY ON DVD, NEW, ANYMORE.

ARE

YOU

KIDDING

ME

Shut it down.

Jeanette MacDonald – Its Today!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEANETTE!

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We’re going to pretend that’s a birthday party, but I’m sure its a simple case of holding Gene’s hand while using him as a couch cushion. Gene was a good sport, like that.

I suppose I should apologize for not coming through on my promise of movie reviews and whatnot, but really, you can get those anywhere. Or you can just watch them, yourself, which you should be doing anyway, since it IS 6/18, a totally (not) legitimate holiday for Old Movie Weirdos.

What I hope I’ve done here is expose people to one part of the Jeanette picture that is rarely seen. She was a person, not someone’s pet and certainly not a stuffed shirt. She had so many friends that loved her dearly for her personality and her spirit. She has many fans who love her for those same reasons. Please realize that, though Jeanette could pull a good prank, she wouldn’t have thrown anyone under a bus, to make herself look like the victor. She had flaws, but she, from everything I’ve seen, never had a bad word to publicly say about anybody. Jeanette was a class act and doesn’t deserve the rep she’s got, today. She had her moments of attitude, but for the most part, she just wanted to make people happy. Jeanette was the last person who should have ever been torn apart. Someday, maybe I can fix it. Until that day comes, please remember Jeanette’s voice. I don’t just mean her singing. Read some of her words. Get to know her signature style of writing, speaking, and telling a story. Accept no substitutes.

Enjoy this last batch of pictures. 🙂

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Cinema Dilettante will return to her normal programming, this weekend, with a little Jean Arthur party to pregame the Billy Wilder Blogathon entry of A Foreign Affair.

Jeanette MacDonald Birthday Salute (Day Nine)

It’s almost here, folks! Even though the timestamp on my blog says it’s already 6/18, it’s not. Help a sister out on fixing that, eh?

Picture it. June 17th… OK, I’ll let Jeanette take the wheel, from here.

“I kept looking at my watch as the evening wore on, and this got his [Gene’s] goat. Finally, he asked pointedly, ‘Are you so bored that you can hardly wait to go home?’

I smiled. ‘You’re wrong. If you’ll just wait a little while, I’ll tell you what I’m waiting for.’ At midnight, I chirruped; ‘It’s my birthday!’ Nothing would do but to have a cake brought to our table, replete with candles and a bottle of champagne.”

How’s that for a first date? You may have noticed, dear reader, in one of the pictures from yesterday, was a picture of the MacRaymonds excitedly celebrating 18 years together. Today would have been the anniversary of their first date. We get this amazing trifecta of celebratory days, right in a row. Excellent planning, Mrs. Raymond. Excellent. Champagne for everyone!*

(*at your own expense as your Dilettante is poor.)

Sorry for the graininess, but I have to share one more picture. I just love these two human beings.

GeneandJeanettepic14

❤ ❤ ❤

Jeanette MacDonald Birthday Salute (Day Eight)

Hi. I am a disclaimer. Massive OTP Jeanette/Gene love ahoy because…

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MACRAYMONDS!

Negativity will not be permitted, unless it is directed toward Gene’s psychomom, for she was actually the most ridiculous person ever.

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Those are in no particular order, other than that which I scanned, borrowed, was gifted, or just plain hijacked them from the internets. I wish these would have been shared, in my own youth, because I spent a lot of years wondering why there were so few pictures of Jeanette and Gene. Turns out there’s about 17 million. It’s just that no one was sharing them. Some weird culture developed where people became sickeningly overprotective of Jeanette, to the point where they wouldn’t even share scans of these, with the public, online. It made it look like we were hiding something. Well, that’s flat wrong. The only thing that was being hidden was photographic proof that Jeanette and Gene were nutty for each other. I’m here to right that wrong. We shall make ourselves known! I’m not touching that “true loyal fan” stuff with a ten foot pole because everyone has a right to be a fan, in their own way, but I want to let people know that we MacRaymond OTP folks do still exist. We do have reason to believe what we do. We do have facts to support what we believe. We do have pictures to analyze. We do have song choices and movie roles to pick apart. We do have screen performances to compare and contrast. We’re smaller than we once were, but we’re mighty.

And believe me, if anything based in reality comes along to prove me wrong, I’ll be the first to let you know. Until then, happy reality, folks. It’s Jeanette and Gene’s 77th wedding anniversary, and I’m ecstatic to share these photos of their happiness with you.