Joan Blondell, Shining Star Forced to be a Satellite

“I don’t know what the secret to longevity as an actress is… maybe it’s the audience seeing itself in you.” … Joan Blondell

images-26

Joanie should know. Joan Blondell, born Rose Joan Blondell on August 30, 1906, in NYC, lived her entire life performing on stage and screen. She died of leukemia on December 25, 1979 in Santa Monica, CA. It is bittersweet to honor this remarkable woman so close to what will be the 37th anniversary of her death this Christmas day.

giphy

 

Joan was born to entertain audiences. She cut her teeth working with her comic parents on the vaudeville stages from age three to seventeen, while educated at the Professional Children’s School. She was a seasoned pro by the time she transitioned to the Ziegfeld Follies and then onto the Broadway stage.

images-27

It was a Broadway production that paired her with James Cagney, which lead to five more celebrated film features, starting with John G. Adolfi’s SINNERS’ HOLIDAY (1931) where they reprised their stage roles. The other Blondell/Cagney paired films that followed are:  William Wellman’s OTHER MEN’S WOMEN (1931), William Wellman’s THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931), Howard Hawks’ THE CROWD ROARS (1932), Lloyd Bacon’s FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933), and HE WAS HER MAN (1934). The chemistry sizzle on the screen was visible between these two talents, making for memorable performances that launched both of their careers into an explosion of roles in the Pre-Code era. While they supposedly kept their romance limited to the screen, Cagney said she was the only woman other than his wife he ever loved.

images-23

But to give you some perspective on just how much Blondell worked starting with the early talkies of the Pre-Codes and throughout the duration of the 1930s, she was in over fifty films during that decade alone. Most of this ridiculously busy schedule could be attributed to her contract with Warner Brothers. They kept her working fast and furious in roles at a time when being employed was a very good thing. And she enjoyed her WB family of co-star friends and filming crews immensely. The problem was, while she found herself in-demand and in work, she was not only typecast but stuck below the top tier of the marquee.

7276f21a4aa629450f984cf3f5bd5875

images-24

632ae6a88c8c6e42c699d7880b295c4d

While others demanded more and knew how to cause ripples within the political studio system in a persuasive way (like her good friend Bette Davis), Blondell thought of her job as a job. Joan punched the clock and went home when the job was done. She worked extremely hard, acted consistently professional, but didn’t desire to play the ambitious game.

efbd764eb6b62e4216561805e33dbc7d

Working free of the studio playbook in the 1940s and 1950s, the work was less frequent and the pace less brutal; yet offered some meatier roles, such as Gail Richards in TOPPER RETURNS (1941), Aunt Sissy in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1945), Zeena Krumbein in NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947), and Annie Rawlins in THE BLUE VEIL (1951) for which she was nominated for An Oscar, Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Even still, she struggled to garner critical acclaim in a way that moved her name up to the leading lady, mega star status.

The 1950s ushered in the television age and Joan Blondell was determined to be a player. The frequency of roles kept her busier but yet again, she found herself working harder, not smarter in struggling to move her name to the top position in billing.

The 1960s and 1970s brought memorable roles such as Jenny in SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER (1971), Lady Fingers in THE CINCINNATI KID (1965), Sarah Goode in OPENING NIGHT (1977) and Dolly in THE CHAMP (1979). Her TV work continued with roles such as Lottie Hatfield in “Here Come the Brides.” Fans unaware of her saucy and leggy days as a Pre-Code platinum blonde may know her more for her later work such as Vi in GREASE (1978) or caught her in reruns from retro TV networks such her bit parts in 50’s TV westerns, Starsky and Hutch (1976), The Love Boat (1978), Fantasy Island (1979) and so much more.

9720fc1d88e7b9db3fc18630f27781dd

73973da7138997f3535bff957bfbf85a

She worked right up until the end, even while battling the Leukemia that ultimately took her life in 1979, with her last role being Aunt Coll in THE WOMAN INSIDE (1981), released posthumously. With 160 acting credits to her name, and after publishing her popular 1972 autobiographical novel “Center Door Fancy,” Joan never quit.

Married three times, divorced three times, her first husband famed cinematographer George S. Barnes (m. 1933-1936) was a decision reflecting her “naive sophisticate”(as James Cagney called her) ways of a younger Joanie, fresh in her film career. Emotionally dysfunctional, this relationship was fated for disaster. Barnes was still married to his third wife as their romance grew and he assured her the marriage was on paper only and would be ended swiftly. During this time of officially divorcing his third wife and marrying Joan (he went on to marry for a total seven times), she became pregnant and he arranged for the termination. Their son and only child from the marriage, TV producer/director Norman Scott Barnes was born in 1934 but later changed his last name to Powell in 1938 when Barnes relinquished all parental rights and he was adopted by Joan’s second husband.

e64bc60c9217867ead6c13f21fd81085

images-25

Her second marriage to actor Dick Powell (m. 1936-1944) was more stable but tepid in romance. In addition to adopting Norman, they had a child together, Ellen Powell, who is known for her makeup department work in film and tv, such as her Emmy nominated work in hair styling.

8e5bd73aecf77c73434c4ece1a95b793

Joan and Dick made ten musicals together. But after they both had grown weary of the incessant typecasting of formulaic musicals each began over a decade prior, just as they attempted to move their careers in more dramatic roles, their marriage also became stagnant. Right up until the time Dick left Joan for actress June Allyson. In this same pivotal year Dick Powell left one marriage for another, he left his sugary musicals and boyish charm behind with MURDER MY SWEET (1944), launching a dramatically different type in his cinematic world with film noir and never looked back.

Her last husband (m. 1947-1950), producer Michael Todd was said to be physically abusive and a financial mess, thanks to heavy gambling and repeatedly poor investments. She found this relationship to be her most passionate. Great for the bedroom initially but later his behavior revealed itself into abuse. His chaotic ways also wiped out her savings. So she continued to work for the next three decades-because financially she had to.

c73c85c1a6e7c9ec2a0763502d7c2223

She wasn’t always lucky in love or ambition, but certainly made up for it in talent, enduring work ethic and generosity of spirit. Time after time, this unforgettable performer played second-fiddle, the rapid-fire, sharp-tongued best friend, the second lead, the snarky office gal, the lingerie-clad roomie, the sharp opportunist, the frowzy, lovable saloon owner, the gangster’s girlfriend, the wise aunt, and the down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is scene-stealer. She was all these nuances of woman and more. She mastered tv and film, Pre-Codes, dramas, and comedies. But she never truly reached the well-deserved splendor of consistent top billing.

76156c58f07cb01e8b71a21f4ad028e2

200

200-1

While I admire the entire breadth of Joan Blondell’s work, I am always biased towards her early days of Pre-Codes. You couldn’t find a better pair of sexy gams in those Busby Berkley musicals and she delivered such hilariously sassy lines with the perfect punch. Take a look at her delicious delivery of “As long as they’ve got sidewalks, YOU’VE got a job!” as she proceeds to kick the woman out the door, right in the tuchus, in Lloyd Bacon’s FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) or her haunting “My Forgotten Man” in Mervyn LeRoy’s THE GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933. There are too many to list here (because the woman was a damn work-horse during those years!) But no matter how small the role, Joan Blondell made it her own and she made it memorable. So yes, Joanie, you did know the secret to longevity as actress, and perhaps your greatest role in life was that of survivor- a role this audience member and countless other fans can relate.

unknown-1

*This was my contribution to the What A Character! Blogathon, hosted by Aurora of Once Upon A Screen, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club, and yours truly. Please review all three days for a recap of fantastic character actor tributes… THANK YOU & ENJOY!! 🙂

day one: kellee

day two: aurora

day three: paula

wac

Advertisements

It’s here! 5th annual WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON: Day 1

wac1

The day has finally arrived to honor those unsung heroes of the silver screen, the character actor. For the 5th year, the classic film obsessed trio of Aurora aka @CitizenScreen of ONCE UPON A SCREEN, Paula aka @TCM_Party & @Paula_Guthat of PAULA’S CINEMA CLUB and yours truly, Kellee aka @Irishjayhawk66 of OUTSPOKEN & FRECKLED bring you this film community tribute to the marvelous scene-stealers.

DAY ONE:

Movies Silently profiles the popular character actor known for his soothing voice, EDWARD EVERETT HORTON in one of his early talkies, After The Silents: LONELY WIVES 1931.

The Wonderful World of Cinema explains How Arthur Kennedy Changed My Cinematic Life.  As Virginie writes, “Arthur Kennedy was Arthur Kennedy, he couldn’t have been anybody else and nobody could have been him.”

Real Weegie Midget Reviews revisits a tribute post with Looking Back at the Actor, the Voice and Movies of ALAN RICKMAN.

Jack Deth, as guest blogger on Paulas Cinema Club, offers up a “Shot and a Chaser” of two works of M. EMMET WALSH:

As he summarizes, “Though I was well-versed in Walsh’s work prior to these initial meetings, it’s these two roles which reached out, took hold, and shook me to this actor’s grossly underestimated talents.”

Then, Theresa of CINEMAVEN’S Essays From The Couch takes on a “Mighty Roman”, RUTH ROMAN, in her performance in “Tomorrow Is Another Day” 1951. 

As she describes Roman, “There’s a touch of danger in her. Her performances are believable and with conviction. I’m not quite sure why she really wasn’t a bigger star.” Read more to see what Theresa unveils.

Next, Thoughts All Sorts examines the many character lives of MICHAEL WINCOTT.

As this blogger aptly scribes on Wincott, “There was something about him that just drew me in…Or, maybe it’s just that he’s a great artist, understated but vital.” We couldn’t agree more.

Next up, The Last Drive In views All Kinds of Observable Differences in the World of RUTH GORDON for us.

As this blogger writes, “There’s a vast dimension and range to Ruth Gordon’s work both her screenwriting and her acting, the effects leave a glowing trail like a shooting star.” Amen to that!


I will continue to update this list throughout the day and don’t forget to look on twitter for contributor shout-outs, too. So check back frequently! These participating writers continue to educate and dazzle us so I encourage you to not only read, but give lovely feedback, to these fine folks.

Look for day two and day three of this mega blogging event via my co-hosts, Aurora and Paula… much more to enjoy throughout the entire weekend!

A huge THANK YOU to all the contributors and my cinematic charming co-hosts! … Kellee

wac2

Announcement: 5th annual WHAT A CHARACTER Blogathon

“What’s great about being a character actor is you know that you can survive forever. It’s not about the gloss of your eyebrows.” – Martin Short

We’re back for a fifth consecutive year to honor the versatility and depth of supporting players with the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon.  Based on a phrase borrowed from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon is an event that many look forward to each year.  Your enthusiasm for paying tribute to the oft nameless faces that appear in countless beloved classic movies is admirable.  Aurora, Paula and I extend a sincere thanks to all the bloggers who have joined us in the previous four years and invite you all to help us make the fifth anniversary extra special.

wac1

By now you know the drill.  This is for the Louise Beavers and Eddie Andersons of the world, the names that never appeared above the title.  If this is right up your movie alley then give us a shout out…
Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled and (@IrishJayhawk66) and Kellee Pratt

Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club and (@Paula_Guthat) and Paula Guthat

Aurora at Once Upon a Screen and (@CitizenScreen) and Citizen Screen

wac2

And please adhere to the following:

-Let one of the hosts know which character actor is your choice.
-We will not accept repeats since there are so many greats worthy of attention, but your choices are not limited to classics. You can choose any character actor from any era and from the medium of television, which featured a number of talented regulars.  Scroll down to see the list of chosen characters.
-Don’t take it for granted we know exactly who you are or where your blog resides – please include the title and url to your blog.
-Publish the post for either December 16, 17 & 18.  Let us know if you have a date preference, otherwise we’ll split publicizing duties equally among the three days.
-Please include one of Paula’s beautiful event banners on your blog to help us promote the event and include it in your post.
-It would be really helpful if you can send any of us the direct link to your post.  Searching on social media sites can lead to missed entries.

HAVE FUN and spread the word!

—————————————————

#WhatACharacter Roll Call

Outspoken & Freckled – Joan Blondell

Cindy Bruchman – Eileen Brennan

Blogferatu – John Carradine

Film Noir Archive – Elisha Cook, Jr.

Wanna Be Film Critic – Jack Davenport

Critica Retro – Margaret Dumont

Shadows and Satin – Hope Emerson

Immortal Ephemera – Stanley Fields

The Last Drive In – Ruth Gordon

Old Hollywood Films – Sidney Greenstreet

Once Upon a Screen – Edmund Gwenn

The Midnight Drive-In – John Hillerman

Movies Silently – Edward Everett Horton

The Wonderful World of Cinema – Arthur Kennedy

A Shroud Of Thoughts – Charles Lane

Gary Pratt/ guest post on Outspoken & Freckled – Victor Mclaglen

Anna, Look! – Ben Mendelsohn

In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – Agnes Morehead

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – Mildred Natwick

Wolffian Classics Movies Digest – Una O’Connor

RealweegieMidgit Reviews – Alan Rickman

Life’s Daily Lessons – Margaret Rutherford

Christina Wehner – Takashi Shimura

Movie Movie Blog Blog – JK Simmons

CineMaven’s Essays From The Couch – Art Smith

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – George Tobias

Jack Deth/ guest post on Paula’s Cinema Club – M Emmett Walsh

Blog Of The Darned – David Wayne

Thoughts All Sorts – Michael Wincott

Caftan Woman – Cora Witherspoon

———————————————
A big thank you – HAPPY BLOGGING!

wac3

Last Day of the 2015 WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon

Elsa-Lanchester

Elsa is beside herself and so are we. It is bittersweet to see the last day arrive for our 4th annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon. We’ve come to realize you love this blogathon as much as we do. With good reason- why not celebrate those fun, quirky character actors that take those small roles and steal every scene? So here we have arrived to the third and final day to honor character actors of new and old.

Let’s kick it off with…

LOUISE BEAVERS, who according to GIRLS DO FILM, “imbued each role with subtlety and a certain dignity, forcing audiences to acknowledge her characters despite the stereotype.” A must-read on that character actor you may not know the name, but you undoubtedly know her.

MOVIE CLASSICS unravels the mystery behind the allusive “unnamed old woman” who starred on stage and over 70 films, ZEFFIE TILBURY. A fascinating read!

SHADOWS AND SATIN adds WILLIAM CONRAD into her month-long Noirvember event with a profile on the prolific star of radio and TV but as she scribes, “he should also be honored for the versatility that allowed him to wear the hats of producer, director, executive, and one of the greatest screen heavies of film noir.”

MOVIE FAN FARE! brings us a delightful look at MARIA OUSPENSKAYA: (Screen) Life Begins at 60, “whose passion for acting took her from the remotest regions of her native Russia to the Broadway stage and the highest accolades of Hollywood.” Talk about a true character.

CRITICA RETRO educates us on the great Brazilian character actor WILSON GREY who “is proof that it does not take the protagonist to be memorable – and leave their mark forever in the history of cinema.”

IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD goes deep with a tribute to the legendary ETHEL BARRYMORE: A PROMINENT STAPLE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY who is “remembered as one of the brightest stars to ever have her presence grace the stage and screen.” We couldn’t agree more.

SMITTEN KITTEN VINTAGE takes a peek at the hilarious JOE E. BROWN who as Rhonda points out, “will always be remembered for his giant smile and his comedic timing. I will remember him as a man who could make me laugh by just being himself.”

WAC co-hostess with the most-ess Aurora of ONCE UPON A SCREEN provides us with fantastic insight on THE ROTUND and GRAVEL VOICED OL RELIABLE EUGENE PALLETTE . As she astutely observes, “the admiration for Pallette is warranted as his rotund frame and gravel-voiced delivery will reliably continue to entertain for as long as we have classic movies to enjoy.”

I SEE A DARK THEATER provides a insight into THE MARVELOUS MARSHA HUNT who has… “always been a fighter. In fact, she continues to be one to this day with the signature elegance and humility she’s possessed for the past 98 years.”

BLOG OF THE DARNED presents “When You Have To Shoot, Shoot, Don’t Talk- What a Character Blogathon: ELI WALLACH.” As he puts it, “I think that is the sign of really great actor, he makes whatever he’s in that much better. Old or young, that’s what Eli Wallach did.”

HOMETOWNS TO HOLLYWOOD gives us a career perspective on a character actor favorite… the beautiful, funny and sometimes troubled life of UNA MERKEL 

I urge you to check back here throughout the day as more terrific posts come tumbling in. I will update as they come in.

*announcement post

*day one posts

*day two posts

In the meantime…

On behalf of my fellow co-hosts Aurora of Once Upon A Screen, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club, and myself- we THANK YOU for joining in, reading on and celebrating with us this love and appreciation of those fabulous character actors!

WAC

 

CMBA’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles blogathon… TAXI! (1932)

taxi-1932_poster

Crooked cabbies, hot Irish tempers, and bad situations with good intentions. Roy Del Ruth’s 1932 PreCode nugget has a variety sampling of yummy delights.

Taxi_flirting in a cab

As if struggling to make ends meet as a taxi driver in the Depression isn’t bad enough, mafia styling competition just made it worse. Our story begins with Guy Kibbee as ole man Pop Riley who has comfortably carved out a little corner for his meager cab business. But his crooked competition “Consolidated” would feel more comfortable taking it all for themselves. In their nasty ways, David Landau as Buck Gerard arranges for his man in a truck (brawn over brains fave character actor Nat Pendleton) to crash in “accidentally” to said cabbie and thereby eliminate his Consolidated competition. Pops Riley is justifiably incensed, pulls out a gun and shoot down the man who just destroyed his means to earn a living.

taxi_ loretta_young

Pop’s daughter is the beautiful, doe-eyed Loretta Young as Sue. Her approach to resolve these troubled matters is a non-violent, peaceful one. Exactly opposite in ideology is young cabbie James Cagney as Mike Nolan. Despite their differences, opposites soon attract and after Pop Riley dies in a prison hospital as he serves his time for his revengeful crime, Sue and Mike get married. George E. Stone as Skeets and Leila Bennett as Ruby serve as the comical sidekicks and wingmen for the two lovebirds.

taxi_boys

Nolan’s temper is tested more than once as we see him lose his patience with a clueless man on the elevator who turns out to be the marriage license clerk and later on their wedding night at a dance club when Buck Gerard himself pokes the bear by antagonizing Nolan and lands up stabbing the wrong Nolan boy. Danny Nolan doesn’t make it on the operating table. Now Mike is a man on a mission, for fateful and deadly revenge. But at what cost? Is his marriage worth sacrificing in order to balance the scales of justice on his own terms? To what length will Sue go to protect her man from serving inevitable prison time for murder, even as justified as it may be, including paying for Buck’s escape? I won’t spoil the real conclusion but rest assured it all balances out nicely in the end.

Taxi_CagneyandYoungwith gun

This film is less about public transportation and more about dealing within our constraints and challenges in a troubled world, while seeking justice. A balancing act of life, especially for a feisty Irish life. The character studies are splendid.

taxi_Ruby

Funny duo Stone and Bennett as Skeet and Ruby are a quirky pair that provide witty breaks throughout. Dry cynicism with a nasal dead-pan Bennett especially, as she’s given generous latitude of lines to ramble on nonsensically, yet it delivers. Ruby to Skeet: “C’mon I feel like being bored and you can do the job better than anybody I know.” 

Sweet Loretta Young is a mere nineteen years old here and it’s tough to look away. Her beauty is stunning and her acting skills show evidence of her long career to come.

Cagney’s early career portrayal shows off his first on-screen dancing, with a fox trot dance-off contest against George Raft! It’s also his film appearance with the “you dirty rat” claim to fame. Only it’s not. Well, not quite. To be specific, James Cagney boldly threatens, “Come out and take it you dirty, yellow-bellied rat or I’ll give it to you through the door!” As for his performance itself, Cagney was already showing us the variety, depth and brilliance of his talents. From speaking in convincing yiddish in an opening scene to his moving scene of heart-break of grieving his brother’s loss, this little film has a lot to offer.

CMBAFallBlogathonBanner2

*This was my contribution to CMBA’s PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES Blogathon. Only members of the Classic Movie Blog Association may participate and I’m proud to belong to this fun group of talented writers.

Announcement~4th annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon

WE’RE BACK for number 4!

WAC2

WHAT A CHARACTER! a phrase borrowed from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) so that we could dedicate a blogathon to those whose names few remember – the players who rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many leading actors wished they had.  Aurora, Paula and I never tire of seeing them or paying tribute and as the previous three installments of this event proved, neither do you.  So, here we are with the fourth annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon.
WAC3

To say we’re thrilled is an understatement and we hope you’ll join us in spotlighting the Edmund Gwenns and Spring Byingtons of the world, the oft forgotten names that never appeared above the title.  If this is right up your movie alley then give us a shout out…

Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled and (@IrishJayHawk66) and Kellee Pratt

Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club and (@Paula_Guthat) and Paula Guthat

Aurora at Once Upon a Screen and (@CitizenScreen) and Citizen Screen

And please adhere to the following:

  • Let one of the hosts know which character actor is your choice.  Since there are so many greats worthy of mention, we won’t take any repeats and we’re not limiting these to “classic” actors.  AND… since the medium of Television has featured such greats through the years as well we’re widening the field to include small-screen characters this year. 
  • Don’t take it for granted we know exactly who you are or where your blog resides – please include the title and url to your blog.
  • Publish the post for either November 14, 15 & 16.  Let us know if you have a date preference, otherwise we’ll split publicizing duties equally among the three days.
  • Please include the blogathon graphic on your blog to help us publicize the event and include it in your post.
  • It would be really helpful if you can send any of us the direct link to your post.  Searching on social media sites can lead to missed entries.
  • HAVE FUN and spread the word!  There are many great characters worthy of attention.

Participating blogs and chosen Character Actors

Now Voyaging ~ Robert Barrat
In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood ~ Ethel Barrymore

_____________________________________

Girls Do Film ~ Louise Beavers

Aperture Reviews ~ Whit Bissell
Movies, Silently ~ Elmer Booth
Smitten Kitten Vintage ~ Joe E. Brown
Caftan Woman ~ Harry Carey & Harry Carey Jr.
Speakeasy ~ Eduardo Ciannelli

_____________________________________

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies ~ Charles Coburn

Mother Time Musings ~ Gladys Cooper

_____________________________________

Tales Of The Easily Distracted ~ Lloyd Corigan (in BOSTON BLACKIE and THE BIG CLOCK)

Hometowns to Hollywood ~ Harry Davenport
Silver Screenings ~ Daffy Duck
Tales From the Border ~ Dwight Frye
Movie Movie Blog Blog ~ Ned Glass
Classic Film & TV Cafe ~ Sydney Greenstreet
Critica Retro ~ Wilson Grey
I See A Dark Theater ~ Marsha Hunt
The Motion Pictures ~ Allen Jenkins
Guest post on Once Upon a Screen ~ Tommy Lee Jones
Silver Scenes ~ Allyn Joslyn
Spellbound By Movies ~ Tom Kennedy
Immortal Ephemera ~ Guy Kibbee
CineMaven’s Essays From the Couch ~ Peter Lorre
The View From The Back Row ~ Marjorie Main
Second Sight Cinema ~ Dickie Moore
The Last Drive-In ~ Agnes Moorehead
A Shroud of Thoughts ~ Frank Morgan
Shadows and Satin ~ Clarence Muse
Joel’s Classic Film Passion ~ Una O’Connor
Outspoken & Freckled ~ Franklin Panghorn
Just a Cienast ~ John Qualen
Cinematic Catharsis ~ Michael Ripper

_____________________________________

Old Hollywood Films ~ SZ “Cuddles” Sakall

Portraits by Jenni ~ C. Aubrey Smith

_____________________________________

Le Mot Du Cinephiliaque ~ Harry Dean Stanton

BNoirDetour ~ Helen Walker
Once Upon a Screen ~ Mary Wickes
Wide Screen World ~ Shelley Winters
Sister Celluloid ~ Roland Young

A big THANK YOU – HAPPY BLOGGING!

wac1

The faces on the banner:

Row 1: (L-R) Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Margaret Dumont, Edward Arnold, Albert Dekker, Ann Miller, Leon Errol

Row 2: (L-R) Dan Duryea, Eugene Palette, Aline MacMahon, Charles Coburn, Lee J. Cobb, Billie Burke

Row 3: (L-R) Spring Byington, Walter Brennan, Hattie McDaniel, Gene Lockhart, Margaret O’Brien, Edgar Kennedy

Row 4: (L-R) Eric Blore, Franklin Pangborn, Frank Morgan, Guy Kibbee, Gloria Grahame, Jane Darwell

Row 5: (L-R) Judith Anderson, Edward Everett Horton, Eve Arden, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, Thelma Ritter, Louis Calhern

Row 6: (L-R) Charles Lane, Kim Hunter, David Wayne, Louise Beavers, Cecil Kellaway, Shemp Howard

Edward Everett Horton, Unmistakable Character

When I was little, my first introduction to Edward Everett Horton was not exactly how I think of him now. I didn’t even know what he looked like back then. He was only a faceless voice to me. That unmistakable voice. It was graveley yet in a soft and soothing way. Perhaps because he was the voice of Fractured Fables on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, my morning routine as a small tyke.

Then I began to know him via film. One by one, I became familiar with this man through each of his film roles. And there were so many- over 120 films! I have an overt bias to films of the 1930’s, preferably the early 30’s; and EE Horton was in his prime for this era of motion pictures. He dominated comedies as the supporting character we all loved to see.  EE Horton: “I have my own little kingdom. I do the scavenger parts no one else wants and I get well paid for it.”

Born a Brooklyn kid on March 18, 1886, but his speech and demeanor allowed him to often play the part of an aristocrat, anxious fussbudget or European-cultured man servant. He started on the stage and moved into silents. But it’s his distinctive voice coupled with his “triple take” signature look that lead to him playing the favorite sidekick of 30’s comedies. It certainly didn’t hurt any that he also started many of his talkies working with none other than Ernst Lubitsch.

In real life, Horton was known to be a frugal man but he knew how to spend his money where it counts. He invested in a 22 acres estate in California with a compound of houses to share with his family- including his mother (who lived to be a centenarian) and his siblings. He never married and rumors have asserted that his lifetime partner was actor Gavin Gordon. But if so, he kept his sexuality status a very private matter as no documentation can verify with certainty. Up until cancer suddenly striking at age 83, he tirelessly worked for decades across all opportunities of acting medium. At the mere suggestion of retirement at the age of 80, he protested: ” Dear Lord! I would go right out of my mind.” I for one, I am very grateful for his hard-working commitment to his craft.

Gallery of EE Horton…

edward-everett-horton

the lovable “nervous nellie”

ROAR OF THE DRAGON

ROAR OF THE DRAGON

Playing the wing man to Fred Astaire

Playing the wing man to Fred Astaire

Horton partnered up with Astaire in five films

Horton partnered up with Astaire in five films

EEHorton_Grable

Horton k-k-kicking it with Betty Grable, in his swim trunks

EEHorton as the MadHatter

EEHorton as the MadHatter

Edward Everett Horton and Carmen Miranda

Clowning around with Carmen Miranda for “Springtime in the Rockies” (1942)

Stached EEHorton, fellow famed character actor Zazu Pitts

Stached EEHorton, fellow famed character actor Zazu Pitts

with Miriam Hopkins

with Miriam Hopkins

EEHorton_VPrice

Batman TV series favorite EE Horton chumming with co-star Vincent Price

From stage to radio to screen, Edward Everett Horton was a multi medium master

From stage to radio to screen, Edward Everett Horton was a multi medium master including reviving his role as Henry in “Springtime For Henry” over 3,000 times

Eedward_horton_old

a delightful smile from a truly delightful man who lived a full life indeed

This piece was written in conjunction with the 3rd annual WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON hosted by Aurora of ONCE UPON A SCREEN, Paula of PAULA’S CINEMA CLUB and yours truly. Review day one, day two and day three of the fabulous list of talented entries for more reading enjoyment!

What-A-Character-2014-01

WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON: Day One

What-A-Character-2014-01

The greatly anticipated moment has finally arrived! Your humble co-hosting threesome are proud to bring you the first day of blogger entries in the 3rd annual What A Character! Blogathon. What quirky characters, which silly sidekicks and what scene stealing supporting actors can we expect for the first of three full days of our mega event? Please explore each of the following entries for their fascinating reviews on all our beloved character actors. Click on the links to learn more about WHAT A CHARACTER! these actors really are.

I will be updating these links all day long as they pour in. So I implore you to check back frequently. Additionally, be sure to check out my co-hosts announcements over the next 2 days- Aurora at ONCE UPON A SCREEN tomorrow and Paula at PAULA’S CINEMA CLUB on Tuesday.

First up…Theresa guest posts on ONCE UPON A SCREEN to provide us her insights on character actors Ann Doran & Lurene Tuttle. As Theresa explains, Doran was “the best “best friend” a girl could EVER have” and she “could toss a line or raise one eyebrow with the best of ‘em.” As she describes her love for Tuttle, “She’s equal parts fuss-budget and no-nonsense, common sense.”

Next, Steve of MOVIE MOVIE BLOG BLOG offers up A Tribute to the highly versatile “king of character actors” Charles Durning 

Then, THE LAST DRIVE-IN witnesses Burgess Meredith as Charter Member in the Fraternity of Dreamers. As Jo Gabriel scribes, “He’s always just a bit peculiar, idiosyncratic, eccentric, lyrical, salty, sometimes irascible, but always captivating and distinctive, His voice, his persona, his look, his style…” We agree!

Jack Deth guest posts on PAULA’S CINEMA CLUB for his review of Chris Cooper. As Jack builds his case via several worthy performances, Cooper “adds depth, shadow and presence to a roughly sketched character. Embodies it with his worn, lined visage and slow, never hurried gait. And makes it his own.”

Danny of DANNY REVIEWS gives us his assessment via four key roles of the versatile character actor  Richard Widmark. As in “Saint Joan”, Widmark, “portrays this character by taking all the energy out of his entire body. Suddenly, it seems like his limbs are made from gelatin rather than hard bones. The way Widmark is able to go limp just shows his willingness and commitment to live and breathe as the character as opposed to just playing it in a table read through.”

Shannon of THIS GIRL FRIDAY peeks at funny man Frank McHugh who played comic relief for Hollywood’s biggest stars. As Shannon states: “his performance never goes unnoticed.  He steals the show with his good-natured laughter and wonderful comedic timing.”

Jenni of PORTRAITS BY JENNI outlines the many successful roles with that iconic look of Edna May Oliver, who found “fame in the 1930′s playing such a character, often speaking very witty lines and knowing how to do the perfect eye-roll at another character.”

Then, Terry of A SHROUD OF THOUGHTS offers up his thoughts on the master of various mediums- radio, stage, and both small and big screens… Tony Randall, “who could play a wide array of roles, from swaggering womanisers to to henpecked husbands” over a 63 year career.

More to come…

Enjoy the reading, film fans! Don’t forget to provide these talented bloggers with your feedback- we writers love encouragement.

Announcement: 3rd annual WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON

“I was only a leading man for a minute; now I’m a character actor.”

… Robin Williams

Back in 2012 we- as in Aurora, Paula and I- borrowed a catch-phrase from our home of the classics, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to host a blogathon dedicated to those whose names few remember.  The phrase is WHAT A CHARACTER! and the players are actors who rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many leading players wished they had.  We never tire of seeing them or paying tribute and as the previous two installments of this event proved, neither do you.  So let this fun tradition continue with the third annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon…

What-A-Character-2014-01

Contact us:

Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled aka (@IrishJayHawk66)

Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club aka (@Paula_Guthat) and

Aurora, of Once Upon a Screen aka (@CitizenScreen)

We are thrilled to be hosting this event again and we hope you’ll join us in shining the spotlight on the great character actors in the movies.  You know who they are, the Edward Arnolds and Eugene Palettes and Eve Ardens of the world, the ones whose names rarely appeared above the movie title, but who we relish in seeing time and time again.

If you’re interested in participating, and we certainly hope you are, please adhere to the following:

  • Let one of the hosts know which character actor is your choice.  Since there are so many greats worthy of mention, we won’t take any repeats and we’re not limiting these to “classic” actors.  Great character actors have made their mark since the end of the classic era and deserve some attention as well so the field is wide open.
  • Please include your twitter or FB tag, email address and blog name & URL.
  • Publish the post for either November 16, 17 & 18.  Let us know if you have a date preference, otherwise we’ll split publicizing duties equally among the three days.
  • Please include the blogathon graphic on your blog to help us publicize the event. (See the 3 pretty banners included in this post)
  • Include the graphic and link to the host sites in your WHAT A CHARACTER! post
  • If possible, please send any of the hosts the direct link to your WHAT A CHARACTER! post by the day before your due date.  Otherwise we’ll simply link to your site’s home page.
  • HAVE FUN and spread the word!  There are many great characters worthy of attention.

PARTICIPANTS:

Ann Doran & Luren Tuttle ~ Theresa guest post on ONCE UPON A SCREEN

Ann Dvorak ~ A PERSON IN THE DARK

Bealuh Bondi ~ A Thousand Words

Burgess Meredith ~ THE LAST DRIVE-IN

C. Aubrey Smith ~ CRITICA RETRO

Cecil Kellaway ~ THE LADY EVE’S REEL LIFE

Christopher Lloyd ~ THE MOVIE RAT

Don Beddoe ~ CHRISTY’S INKWELLS

Dame Edith Evans ~ MARGARET PERRY

Edna May Oliver ~ PORTRAITS BY JENNI

Edward Everett Horton ~OUTSPOKEN & FRECKLED

Esther Dale ~ CAFTAN WOMAN

Frank McHugh ~ THIS GIRL FRIDAY

Grant Mitchell ~IMMORTAL EPHEMERA

Harry Dean Stanton ~ JOEL’S CLASSIC FILM PASSION

Iris Adrian ~ SPEAKEASY

John Ridgley ~ COMET OVER HOLLYWOOD

Leo Carillo ~ PHANTOM EMPIRES

Melville Cooper ~ CLASSIC MOVIE HUB

Rochelle Hudson ~ BUNNYBUN’s CLASSIC MOVIE BLOG

Thelma Ritter ~ CINEPHILED

Thomas Mitchell ~ ONCE UPON A SCREEN

Tony Randall ~ A SHROUD OF THOUGHTS

 

A big thank you – HAPPY BLOGGING!

What-A-Character-2014-03

What-A-Character-2014-02

 

%d bloggers like this: