Thursday 27 December 2012

Hollywood Holidays, 1951

Last year, we went through a bunch of Bob Thomas’ Yuletide season columns; Bob was the movie columnist for the Associated Press based in Hollywood. We left off at 1950. So, let’s pick it up for a Year in Review.

Actually, these two columns from 1950 are more of the quotes-of-the-year-in-review rather than ones of a Yuletide nature. He didn’t interview the stars at Christmas-time. But these are fun nonetheless and shows that being overly preoccupied with celebrities and gossip is not something restricted to the age of web sites.

Some footnotes to the column: Thomas is understandably coy (it is 1950, after all), as to background of why the Granger story is a “yawn.” The Crosby story happened in May; he actually did get a room when a bellboy recognised the singer, who had driven straight from Idaho with writer Bill Morrow and hadn’t shaved or bathed. Hotel Vancouver Night clerk Art Cameron later told the United Press “I thought they were a couple of bums or Indians from up north.” Crosby loved coming to B.C. to fish; of course, he was originally from Spokane so he was familiar with the region. Wanger was given four months in 1952 for jealously shooting his wife’s (Joan Bennett) agent in an area men would rather not be shot in.

1951 Finishes in Hollywood With New High, Low Points
HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 25—(AP)—Another troubled year in Hollywood is drawing to a close, so it's time to sit down and pick the highs and lows.
Pardon the poetry, but it’s the season, isn’t it? So I tried a different approach for getting into the annual summation of the year’s events in Hollywood. Here goes: Biggest news story—The Walter Wanger shooting.
Second biggest and winner of long-run honors—The Franchot Tone-Barbara Payton-Tom Neal affair.
Yawn of the year—The Shelly Winters-Farley Granger “romance.”
Biggest industry news—Louis B. Mayer’s exit from MGM.
Almost the biggest industry news—Warner Brothers’ offer to sell their interests, later retracted.
Brightest new box office stars—Martin and Lewis, Mario Lanza.
Losses of the year—Robert Walker, Fanny Brice, Maria Montez, Leon Errol.
Biggest blow to the bobby-sox set—Elizabeth Taylor’s divorce.
Biggest blow to the dowager set—Clark Gable’s divorce.
Freak news event of the year—A Vancouver hotel’s refusal to room Bing Crosby because he looked like a bum.
Runner-up—Arrest of Charles Coburn and his poker pals.
Most recurrent news item—Hedy Lamarr’s announcement she'll retire.
Most notable homecoming—Rita Hayworth’s.
Worst public relations — Frank Sinatra.
Best musical film — “American in Paris.”
Best drama — “A Place in the Sun.”
Father of the year — James Stewart, parent of twins.
Best male performances —Humphrey Bogart, “African Queen”; Marlon Brando, “Streetcar Named Desire”; Gene Kelly, “An American in Paris”; Fredric March, “Death of a Salesman”; Gregory Peck, “David and Bathsheba.”
Best female performances — Bette Davis, “Payment on Demand”; Katharine Hepburn, “African Queen”; Vivien Leigh, “Streetcar Named Desire”; Shelley Winters, “A Place In the Sun”; Jane Wyman, “The Blue Veil.”
Most promising newcomers— Debbie Reynolds, Mitzi Gaynor, Dale Robertson. Aldo Ray. Best low-budget picture—“The Well.”
And a Merry Christmas and lots of them to patient readers.

And one more from a few days later. Joyce Mathews was married twice to Milton Berle and twice to Billy Rose, the first time in 1956. She was between husbands when this column was written.

More Memorable Hollywood Quotes of Year Listed
HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 27—(AP)—Talk, talk, talk. There was lots of it emanating from Hollywood this year.
This was one of the film town’s talkingest years. Film folk were yacking all over the U.S., trying to convince citizens that Hollywood was full of solid citizens. Meanwhile, there was a lot of gabbing in Hollywood, plus a bit of spitting and shooting, that created another impression.
One of the year of talk, I have tried to cull the more memorable quotes. Here they are:
Frank Sinatra, irate at reporters who trailed him and Ava Gardner in Mexico before their marriage: “It’s a fine thing when we can’t go on a vacation without being chased.”
Whisky Scares Bugs
Humphrey Bogart, explaining how he escaped insects in Africa: “Nothing bites me. A solid wall of whisky keeps insects at bay.”
Paulette Goddard, learning ex-husband Burgess Meredith had married for the fourth time: “I think it was quite normal of him. He always was domestic.”
Actress Kay Scott, divorcing auto dealer Douglas Nerney: “Music has been part of my life, but when I tried to play classics on the piano my husband turned on the television full force.”
Ethel Barrymore, learning that John Barrymore, Jr. had skipped out on a summer theater play: “John let the family down. It’s the first time in 300 years a Barrymore failed to comply with the billing. I’m deathly sick about it.”
Loves Razor Blades
Joyce Mathews, after slashing her wrists in Billy Rose’s bathroom: “I just love razor blades.”
Director Fletcher Markle in an interview: “Now please don’t write me up as a genius like some of the others have. I’m just a fellow who works hard.”
Tallulah Bankhead, asked if she would enter politics: “Heavens, I wouldn’t inflict that on any country.”
Katharine Hepburn, declaring that plain women—like herself—know how to make love: “The beautiful women are usually too busy being fascinating.”
“We’re Happy—Goodbye.”
Robert Mitchum, answering the Hollywood Press women who voted him “the most unco-operative”: “Your gracious award became a treasured addition to a collection of averse citations. These include prominent mention in several 10 worst-dressed-American lists and a society columnist’s 10 most-desirable-male-guest list, which happily was published on the date I was made welcome at the county jail.”
Fred Allen: “It took 18 years in radio to ruin my health. It took three shows on television to ruin my reputation.”
Franchot Tone, greeting reporters on return from a honeymoon appearance tour with bride Barbara Payton: “We're home and we’re happy—goodbye.”
Walter Wanger, after firing the shot heard ‘round the world: “I shot him because he broke up my home.”

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