Saturday, November 26, 2011

Silent Books!

As some of you may or may not know, I work at a library and am an avid reader. I have loved to read ever since I can remember. My parents used to read to me before bed almost every night, and I still do that to this day. Well, my parents don't, but I do. I can't really sleep unless I read something! Thank goodness I work at a place where books are EVERYWHERE, and free at that.

I like to read a lot of different things, but one of the genres I enjoy are biographies about silent/classic film stars. I thought I would share with you some of the titles that I would recommend. And some that I would say not to waste your time on.

The first of course is the book I finished reading over a month ago called Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels by Michael Ankerich. Oh how Jessica loves this book! The research done by the author was just incredible, which I definitely appreciate. Another plus, it covered some ladies who have been almost forgotten like Lucille Ricksen and Martha Mansfield. Go out and buy it now, if you cannot afford it at this time (especially with the holidays) I will let you borrow my copy for sure. I love it that much. And you, of course ;)

Next would be Silent Players by Anthony Slide. Slide is a film historian, and I love hearing him talk because he is so knowledgeable, and also because I love his accent. This book has wonderful biographies that are just enough to give you a real taste of the actor he is writing about. From the top of my head, I can recall that he covered Mignon Anderson, Gladys Brockwell, and of course the greats are covered too. The copy of this book that is in the library system I work at has a plate in it dedicated to me. It has my stamp of approval!

Silent Lives by Lon Davis is another one that contains little biographies of a number of stars. Problem is, I know I read it and liked it, but I can't really remember much else! I do remember really liking it though, so check it out.

Silent Movies by Peter Kobel is a beautiful book. It has a lot of information in it and beautiful pictures. It is a great coffee table book, which is where mine is sitting right now. Trust me, it is hard to read while laying in bed cuz it is a big one.

As far as star biographies go, I cannot recommend enough David Stenn. He wrote Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild and Bombshell about Jean Harlow. I read both books and absolutely loved them. He includes a lot of information, and you can tell he admires these ladies because he writes very sympathetically towards them. The Jean Harlow book had me crying when he was talking about her final days and how she suffered. Now, I don't cry easily, especially at books, so that is something. Two great books about two of my idols.

Vamp by Eve Golden was a good one too. It is about Theda Bara, if you couldn't already tell by the title. I am so happy someone wrote a biography about her, and Eve Golden is such a great author anyway, so I think she did Theda justice. I don't remember much about the book since it has been a few years since I read it, but I do remember I finished the whole thing, which again means something coming from me. If I don't like a book, I don't waste my time finishing it. Make sure to check out Eve's other books as well.

Nazimova by Gavin Lambert. I was kinda scared when I requested this book and it came in because it is a thick one. And normally when a book is that thick, it can read very much like a textbook and not be very interesting. That is not the case in this book. I was captivated from beginning to end. I don't know if it was the subject matter or the writing, but I would like to believe it is both. Alla Nazimova was such a dynamic force so her story itself is incredible and I grew to love her even more after reading Lambert's work. I gotta be careful talking about these next books because I found out the hard way that a Facebook friend of mine is a friend of the author and I made my opinions known on his wall. Not in a thrashing, bad way, but it wasn't completely positive either. Michelle Vogel wrote biographies about Olive Thomas and Olive Borden, and, well, they are not my favorites...which sucks because I love the Olives!! The Olive Thomas book was kinda boring and choppy and the quotes from magazines was overwhelming to the point where I felt like I was reading a bad research paper that I had written the night before. It wasn't the worst book that I have read, but it wasn't my favorite. The Olive Borden book was a little bit better, but not by much. I ended up skimming through the rest of it because I couldn't just lay back and read the whole thing. Vogel also wrote a book called Hollywood Blondes that has so many mistakes, it will make you cringe. Which, again, sucks because it has some of my favorites in it and could really be a good book!

As far as autobiographies go, check out The Times We Had by Marion Davies. Her life in Hollywood and with Hearst in her own words is very endearing and I thought it was a good read. I of course recommend My Wonderful World of Slapstick because it is by Buster! Duh! He was such a humble and funny man, that is a lovely view of his life by the man himself.

I do remember picking up Life of  a Star by Pola Negri, but I don't remember what I thought of it. Oops!

These are just a few of the ones I have read, but it gives props to the best. What about you guys? Read any good books lately? :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Special Tributes

As many of you may know by now, one of my dreams/aspirations is to either be in a movie about silent or classic film stars or to make documentaries about them. What is our mission statement here? We don't want these wonderful actors and actresses to be forgotten! So, until that time comes...I like to watch tribute videos on Youtube, and luckily enough, two of my favorites were made by one of my readers. She has beautiful ones about many beautiful actresses, but I want to share two of them with you because they are about two ladies who I think were too beautiful to even look real! Florence Labadie and Maude Fealy. Watch and enjoy!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Miss Peggy Shannon

I wanted to squeeze in an entry about Peggy because I was showing my grave photos the other day, and came across hers, and no one knew who she was (understandable). They just saw she had died fairly young. I just kept saying, "Look up her photos, she was an absolutely beautiful showgirl and actress." I wish we could have seen more from her, but like so many others, she became too friendly with the bottle.

Peggy Shannon was born Winona Sammon on January 10, 1907 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Her parents were Edward and Nannie Sammon. She was later joined by younger sister, Carol.

When she was still in high school, she went to New York to visit an aunt. It was while on this visit, she was hired to be a Ziegfeld showgirl. She stayed with Ziegfeld and other Broadway shows until 1927 when she was discovered by B.P. Schulberg, the production head of Paramount. She packed her bags and followed him out to Hollywood.

She was already being hyped up as the next Clara Bow, the next "It Girl." It was prophetic almost, because just two days after arriving in Hollywood, she was offered a role that had been Clara's in the film, The Secret Call. Clara had suffered a nervous breakdown, and couldn't continue with the film, so she was replaced.

Peggy, to put it gently, worked her ass off. She would sometimes work on a film 10 to 16 hours a day! And other times when she would finish one film, she would have to go right into making another one.

In 1932, she signed a contract with Fox. Unfortunately, she was already getting the reputation of being difficult and fussy on set, and it was also around this time that her drinking problem started to be come, well...a problem.

In 1934, she went back to New York to appear in a few more Broadway shows. She only lasted about a year before dropping out to what she claimed was a tooth infection, but others knew was really her alcoholism.

She soon couldn't hide the fact that she was an alcoholic, and so the job offers got fewer and fewer. She made her last film appearance in 1940 in the film Triple Justice.

Peggy Shannon passed away on May 11, 1941. Her husband and a friend of his had come home to find her slumped over the kitchen table with a cigarette still in her mouth and a glass in her hand. She had been dead for about 12 hours when he got there. She was only 34. The autopsy revealed she died from a heart attack, a liver ailment, and just being generally worn out.

Peggy was married twice. Her first husband was Alan Davis in 1926. They divorced in 1940. Her second husband was cameraman Albert Roberts who she married months after her first divorce. They were married until her death. Sadly, three weeks after Peggy died, her husband shot himself in the same spot where she had died. His suicide note read, "I am very much in love with my Peggy Shannon. In this spot she died, so in reverence to her, you will find me in the same spot." He was not buried next to her though. He was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale. 

She was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

She was not the only one slated to replace Clara Bow. She shared that honor with actress Sylvia Sidney.

In July of 1938, apparently she and her sister were both injured in a car accident when they hit another car head on.

While she was a film actress, Peggy was quite the fashion plate. She liked to sport the newest styles before they came into fashion. Fans looked to her to find out what the new looks were.

After her daughter died, and then her son in law, she demanded a police investigation into the matter. She wanted private investigates to really look into how her daughter died.

"[Hollywood] is a sort of Looking Glass Town. They do everything backward. If you try desperately to get somewhere, you find yourself further away from your goal, but if you decide it's impossible and stop hoping, there you are at the winning line." ~ Peggy Shannon