Author Archives: Vienna

MARY WICKES REMEMBERED

 

“Dora, I suspect you’re a treasure.”

Bette Davis, Mary Wickes.NOW VOYAGER.

I suspect that’s how many of us think  of Mary Wickes who was active on stage, films , radio and television from the 1930s through to the 1990s.

At 5 feet 10 inches and rather sharp featured , her niche was in roles requiring a nurse, housekeeper, maid, secretary, landlady. She never walked slowly, she had a deadpan ,sometimes  caustic , often loud delivery. Being a servant didn’t mean she wouldn’t say what she thought in any situation. Generally the families Mary worked for were better off for knowing her. She knew her place but she wasn’t second fiddle to anyone.

In other words, Mary perfected her screen character and played it on stage,films and TV for 50 years.

 

A young Mary . Born in St. Louis in 1910, she was in New York by the early 1930s and appeared  on stage in “Stage Door” in 1936.

 

Jimmy Durante, Mary Wickes, Monty Woolley

Mary had been in the Broadway cast of THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER. She and Monty Woolley reprised their roles for the Warners screen version and that was the start of her Hollywood career.

 

Who can forget ‘Miss Breen’ who had to put up with the put-downs of Mr. Woolley as ‘Sheridan Whiteside’. Perhaps the only time  that Mary didn’t have a quick retort to any criticism. Still, it was her first film and screenwriters got wise to what suited her.

She took it on the chin when Whiteside compared her to his great – aunt  who “when she’d been dead three days, looked better than you do now!”.

 

With Frank Sinatra, Michelle Morgan and Jack Haley in HIGHER AND HIGHER.

 

With Rosemary Clooney in WHITE CHRISTMAS. Mary could be a busybody, but usually with a good heart.

 

Mary was the very first MARY POPPINS, on television in 1949. Would love to see it.

 

Behind-the-scenes view of American actress Mary Wickes, suspended from a pulley by crewmen, as she plays Mary Poppins in a television adaptation (directed by Paul Nickell) of the PL Travers story for the show ‘Studio One In Hollywood,’ New York, New York, 1949. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

 

Rehearsing with Bob Hope and Lucy.

 

With her friend Lucile Ball.

Lucille Ball, Mary Wickes.

 

As Madame Le Mond  in”The Ballet” episode (I love Lucy, 1952}.

Lucille’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz , gave the eulogy at Mary’s funeral.

 

Mary , as Miss  Cathcart, renders ‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’ in an episode of “Dennis The Menace”. (On You Tube).

Not to be missed!

 

As Ronald Colman’s housekeeper in “The Halls of Ivy” (1954)

 

In an episode of “Columbo” with Peter Falk .(‘Suitable for Framing’.1971)

 

One of Mary’s many radio appearances in ALICE ADAMS, with Judy Garland  in the title role, with Thomas Mitchell. (1950) . Available on You Tube.

 

Not sure what the occasion is, but here’s Mary with June Havoc and Jan Sterling.

 

Mary , who died in 1995, left $2 million to her Alma mater, Washington University to establish a memorial library fund for film and theatre arts, in memory of her parents. The University, in St.Louis, has her personal papers and memorabilia which are open to researchers ( if only they were online.)

Mary was ‘artist in residence’ at the University in 1968.

Mary Wickes and students.

 

Some correspondence kept by Mary.

 

With Bing Crosby

 

Mary was in Bette Davis films  “Now  Voyager,” “June Bride”  And an unsold TV pilot which Bette did in 1965, called “The Decorator.” In which Mary played her assistant – Bette is an interior decorator. (Viewable on You Tube)

With  Bette Davis in “The Decorator ”.

 

With Bette Davis.JUNE BRIDE

 

Letter from Bette Davis to Mary.

(reference to”Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.”)

 

Leon Ames,  Doris Day,  Billy Gray, Mary Wickes. BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON.

Biography by Steve Taravella.

 

Mary Wickes ,born Mary Isabella Wickenhauser.

 

I’ve just discovered on You Tube a TV movie from 1952 starring Mary  It’s called “Miss Hargreaves “ and is set in an English village – Mary’s accent is good. She plays an eccentric writer who stirs up the village – also she may not be real! A sort of female Sheridan Whiteside. Very interesting.

Oh,  and Mary did adverts for Ford Automobile, Cristo Oil and Snowy Bleach.

And I haven’t forgotten her in THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS in 1966 and SISTER ACT nearly 30 years later. She had already played a nun on The Lucy Show.

The Trouble with Angels

Definitely a treasure!

 

 

I’M DOC HOLLIDAY!

There are some historical characters who  turn up in Hollywood films and TV shows time and time again.

The popularity of westerns meant that people like Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Jesse James, Bill Hickok, the Daltons – and Doc Holliday were portrayed many times over the years.

I’ve never looked for, or expected  historical accuracy from Hollywood. So I just accepted whatever character a scriptwriter and actor would give Doc Holliday .

Here are some of the actors who played Doc Holliday. Mostly he was the man in black  who was handy with cards and guns.

 

Victor Mature. MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. (Henry Fonda on left.)

 

Cesar Romero in FRONTIER MARSHALL ( with Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp.)

In “Frontier Marshall”, Doc Holliday doesn’t even make it to the OK Corral. He is killed earlier and Wyatt Earp goes alone to the Corral and kills the entire gang!

 

 

Myron Healy in several episodes of “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.”

 

Douglas Fowley , also in the Wyatt Earp TV series.

The episode of this TV series (starring  Hugh O’Brien as Earp), does a good job of telling the OK Corral story, with Wyatt explaining to a judge in flashback the events.

The episode is on You  Tube.

 

Walter Huston as Holliday, here on the set of THE OUTLAW, with Thomas Mitchell.

 

Two rare photos I found  recently of Walter Huston on the set of “The Outlaw”, with the film’s producer, Howard Hughes

 

 

James Griffith was good as Holliday in “Masterson of Kansas.”

 

Gerald Mohr in MAVERICK

 

Warren Stevens in “Death Valley Days.”

 

Adam West played Holliday in three different TV westerns – COLT 45,  LAWMAN, SUGARFOOT.

 

Dewey Martin in ZANE GREY THEATRE.

 

Kent Taylor in TOMBSTONE, THE TOWN TOO TOUGH TO DIE.

 

Martin Landau in TALES OF WELLS FARGO.

 

Don Beddoe in PISTOLS AND PETTICOATS.

 

MAVERICK.

 

Henry Silva In WAGON TRAIN.

 

Jack Kelly in THE HIGH CHAPARRAL.

 

Arthur  Kennedy in CHEYENNE  AUTUMN, with James Stewart.

 

Robert Lansing in THE TALL MAN.

 

Jason Robards in HOUR OF THE GUN.

Holliday has also been played by Stacey Keach and Val Kilmer and Dennis Quaid.

 

And my favourite.

GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL.

Kirk Douglas is excellent as the consumptive Holliday who knows his time is limited.

I’d love to see all the TV  versions  of Doc Holliday. Can anyone comment on a favourite ‘Doc’?

Are there any other Doc Holliday portrayals I’ve missed?

 

The real John  Henry Holliday. He was a trained dentist, not a doctor as portrayed in some films. He died at the age of 36 from tuberculosis. He was a gambler and handy with a gun. He and Wyatt Earp were friends.

At one time, he took an ad out in a local paper, saying:

“J.H.Holliday, dentist, very respectfully offers his professional services to the citizens of Dodge City……where satisfaction is not given, money will be refunded.”

(information from tombstonetimes.com).

 

 

According to records, the famous fight in 1881 only lasted 30 seconds, and did not take place in the corral, but nearby.

Political opponents of Wyatt Earp put him on trial for the deaths of three of the outlaws at the Corral. He was cleared.

A useful site for Earp/Holliday information – bewaretheblog.com.

 

EXTRA: My thanks to Corey for pointing out that the photo of Doc Holliday which I used above is not the famous dentist. It is in fact John Escapule who settled in Tombstone.

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PUBLICITY SHOTS 17

 

David Farrar, Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews. DUEL IN THE JUNGLE.

 

Preston Foster, Angela Lansbury, Judy Garland , John Hodiak. THE HARVEY GIRLS.

 

Ann Miller, June  Allyson, Dolores Gray, Joan Collins, Ann Sheridan, Joan Blondell. THE OPPOSITE SEX.

 

Jeff Richards, Jane Powell, Howard Keel. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.

 

Scott Brady, Jane Russell.  GENTLEMEN MARRY BRUNETTES.

 

Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Joan Bennett. THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW.

 

Jeffrey Hunter, Fred MacMurray, Dean Stockwell. GUN FOR A COWARD.

 

Leslie  Banks, Fay Wray, Joel McCrea.THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME.

Fay looks as if she’s seen Kong!

 

Dan Duryea, Edward G. Robinson . SCARLET STREET.

 

John Loder, Dennis O’Keefe, Hedy Lamar, William Lundigan. DISHONORED LADY.

 

 

 

TAB HUNTER (1931 – 2018)

Sorry to hear of the death of TAB HUNTER on July 8th, 2018 , aged 86.

Tab’s  career was on an upward trajectory through the 1950s , but when he bought out his contract with  Warner Brothers , the good parts just disappeared.

Tab was a star from his second film, SATURDAY ISLAND(1952) aka “Island of Desire”, in which his costar was Linda Darnell. Warners marketed him as a ‘teen idol’, he was on the cover of many film magazines and even had a number one record with ‘Young Love’ in 1957.

Tab Hunter, Donald Gray, Linda Darnell.

 

Tab had his own TV show, “The Tab Hunter Show” which ran for one season in 1960.

 

 

Van Heflin, Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Tab Hunter. THEY CAME TO CORDURA.

 

With Gwen Verdon.WHAT  LOLA WANTS (1958).

 

Battle Cry

 

James Darren, Tab Hunter, Van Heflin.GUNMAN’S WALK

Tab’s role as the hot headed son of Van Heflin in “Gunman’s Walk” was a change from his previous roles, but after leaving Warner Brothers, no other studio took him on. Which is surprising since other studios borrowed him from Warners several times in the 50s.

 

With John  Wayne.THE SEA CHASE.

 

With Debbie Reynolds.THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMAPNY.

 

With Natalie Wood.

Tab and Natalie Wood made two films, THE BURNING HILLS and THE GIRL HE LEFT BEHIND, both in 1956 and were often seen together on the town.

 

With Sophia Loren.That Kind of Woman

 

With George Montgomery. GUNBELT.

 

When the film offers dried up, Tab did a lot of stage plays on the so called ‘Dinner circuit’.

He had some renewed success in the 1980s, costarring with drag queen Divine in “Polyester” and  western spoof, “Lust in the Dust”.

 

Tab loved horses from a young age and became a champion jumper and judge at horse shows.

He was also a figure skater  and starred in a TV movie,”Hans Brinker” in 1958.

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Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter.

Being gay in the 1950s was something stars had to keep secret. It could be career-ending.

Tab had a relationship with Anthony Perkins for a couple of years.

Tab got good reviews for a live TV production of “Fears Strikes Out” and he hoped Warner Brothers  would buy the film rights for him. Instead, Paramount made the film and starred his friend, Anthony Perkins.

As of 2018, a film ,provisionally called “Tab and Tony” , is in development for Paramount .

 

Tab and his partner of 30 years, Allan Glaser who produced the recent documentary, TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL.

 

Tab found happiness in his later years, living on his ranch and looking after his horses.

THE EXILE (1947)

Written and produced by Douglas Fairbanks Jr., “The Exile” , set in  1660, has Fairbanks as Charles the Second in exile in Holland after Oliver Cromwell and his Roundheads have killed his father and banished the Monarchy in England.

Charles has a few loyal friends who have come with him to Holland including Nigel Bruce, his elderly advisor.

The monarch seems to be enjoying himself , leaving behind the chains of office. He takes a job in an Inn run by the lovely Paule Croset (aka Rita Corday) and they fall in love.

The first half of the film is relatively slow paced and with a light tone.

Especially when Robert Coote turns up at the Inn  claiming to be Charles Stuart, the King. He’s actually an out of work actor looking for free food and board. Coote doesn’t seem deterred by the fact that there is a reward of £5,000 for the King’s capture.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Mara Corday.

Billed as Paule Croset, the Swiss actress had made several Hollywood films prior to The Exile under the name Rita Corday, including several Falcon  films. She was active till 1955 and was sometimes credited as Paula Corday. Confusing.

 

Fairbanks and Corday.

 

Life gets serious for the King when Henry Daniell (looking like Darth Vader!) is assigned to go to Europe and capture Charles. Unfortunately Daniell gets very little to do.

Henry Daniell

We finally get some Fairbanks stunts  and fencing in the last 20 minutes of the film . The Fairbanks /Daniell sword fight takes place in a shadowy windmill and is  well filmed, reminiscent of  “Foreign Correspondent”.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

The film’s top billed star, Maria Montez has about 15 minutes of screen time as a French countess who comes to tell Charles that his cousin, King Louis the 14th. supports him.

The Montez role is really superfluous  but she looks ravishing ,playfully flirting with  Charles.

Apparently Maria had it in her Universal contract that she would always get top billing in any film. Fairbanks had to agree, though later advertising for the film always had his name first.

The film was made by The Fairbanks Company and Universal. I could only find one other Fairbanks Company film, again jointly with Universal, “The Fighting O’Flynn” (1949).

 

Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Maria Montez

 

There’s a Prisoner Of Zenda  ending. A lovesick Charles has to return to England alone.

The Exile was the first of the few Hollywood films directed by German emigre Max Ophuls(1902-1957). Ophuls is remembered for “Caught”, “Letter from an Unknown Woman “ and “ The Reckless Moment”.

Presumably to save money, scenes seemed to be all filmed on quite lavish sound stages  but location  filming ( and an improved  script) would have helped. Fairbanks carries the film. He captures the lighthearted memory of his father, though I wonder  why he felt the need to repeat what his father had been famous for.

Historically, Fairbanks uses little except the basic exile of the King and his eventual return to power.

 

Douglas Fairbanks on the set.

 

Only  swordplay is in the final action scenes .

 

 

CONQUEST OF A KINGDOM

 

JAMES MASON, “BEFORE I FORGET”.

James Mason revealed in his autobiography, (“Before I Forget)) that he had declined the role that Robert Ryan played in “Caught” because he wanted to “smash his villainous image.”

But in doing so, surely James gave up the better role of the obsessed, mysterious Howard Hughes type figure that Ryan got to play.

Robert Ryan, Barbara Bel Geddes, James Mason.

 

Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason

James called EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE, “weak and old fashioned.” 

Ah well, I like it a lot.

 

Edmond O’Brien.

He admired Edmond O’Brien’s performance as ‘Casca’ in JULIUS CAESAR (1953).

Apparently Joseph Mankiewicz wanted Richard Burton to play Marc Anthony, but Burton was under contract to the Old Vic in London.

Marlon Brando got the role and an Oscar nomination. He is pretty amazing with an almost flawless British accent. This MGM film was full of well known faces including Mason – in a sympathetic role as ‘Brutus ‘, John Gielgud as Cassius, Louis Calhern as Caesar, Greer Garson as Caesar’s wife, Deborah Kerr as Brutus’s wife.

Must watch it again.

 

Deborah Kerr, John Gielgud, Louis Calhern, Marlon Brando, James Mason, Edmund O’Brien rehearsing JULIUS CAESAR, 1953

 

Marlon Brando, Greer Garson, Louis Calhern.

Another lovely portrait by Morr Kusnet.

(Louis Calhern as Caesar and Greer Garson as Calpurnia, Brando as Marc Anthony.)

 

Always a good villain, and despite his reservations, James listed how he died in various films:

BOTANY BAY: Speared!

 

PRINCE VALIANT: Broadsword!

 

THE DESERT FOX: Suicide by poison.

 

Paul Lukas, Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, James Mason.

20 THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: Shot and drowned. 

On the set. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

 

 

A friend shared with me a note that he received from James Mason in 1984. James refers to touring half a dozen American cities with the newly lengthened version of “A Star Is Born”.

Mason died in July,1984.

 

 

Love this shot of Judy, James and George Cukor on   the set of “A Star Is Born.”

If it’s true that Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart were offered the role of ‘Norman Maine’, I’m glad they turned it down.  Mason is perfect.

 

James Mason, Judy Garland, Sid Luft, George Cukor. A Star Is Born.

I think James as ‘Norman Maine’ was one of his best roles. Although Oscar nominated, it was his Julius Caesar costar, Marlon Brando who took the Best Actor Oscar for “On The Waterfront.”

(Mason was Oscar nominated in two other decades. For “Georgie Girl “ in 1966 and “The Verdict” in 1982.)

 

Fencing master Jean Heremans, James Mason, Stewart Granger on the set of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA. Love that severe Mason haircut! And yet another villain.

 

As Phillip VanDamm in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. James really was a superb  villain.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: GLORIA SWANSON

Impressive painting of GLORIA  SWANSON by Boris Chaliapin (1904-1979) who did 400 covers for TIME magazine from 1942 to 1970.

Time Magazine had asked Chaliapin to do a cover portrait of Gloria Swanson who was expected to win the Oscar for “Sunset Boulevard”.

When Judy Holliday won, they got him to do a cover portrait of Broadway actress, Barbara Bel Geddes instead. Barbara was starring in “The Moon  is Blue”.

Chaliapin ‘s  watercolour of Gloria from 1951 is now in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. The painting was gifted to the Smithsonian by Boris Chaliapin’s  widow.

I wonder if Time considered a cover for Judy Holliday.

All the portraits at the Smithsonian can be seen at http://npg.si.edu

 

The portrait of Barbara Bel Geddes which made the cover of Time magazine in 1951 instead of Gloria Swanson. The original is also in the Smithsonian, courtesy of Mrs. Chaliapin.