Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones

David Thomas Jones
December 30, 1945 ~ February 29, 2012

I don't want to be writing this. I never wanted to write this.

The Monkees have been a part of my life since I was 11 years old. They were there to cheer me up during some of the darkest times and they have always meant so much to me. I have been crying all day but not really feeling that Davy's passing is real. When I picture The Monkees, I still think of them from the 1960s, forever young. They aren't supposed to get old and die.

I had the pleasure of meeting Davy twice. The first time was when I saw The Monkees in concert for the first time in 1998 and I started crying when I saw Davy after the show. He walked up to me and grabbed my hand in both of his and said, "It's alright love!" I met him again last summer after I saw The Monkees again and he again was the sweetest guy ever.

I can only hope now that Davy is dancing and singing his heart out in Heaven and is in peace. He will be loved and missed by everyone who knew him and loved him. I know I will never forget him.

Love you Davy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lost film clips

One of my readers (I believe it was Miss Suilyaniz again) told me that Youtube had some videos that contained the fragments of incomplete films. I have said before how much I would love to see the fragments that survive from Theda Bara's Cleopatra. Well, lo and behold, it was on there! I actually got tears in my eyes watch those maybe 18 seconds of film. It was Theda looking as beautiful and sexy as ever, just owning her role. Still has me speechless. That was just the coolest thing to see.

An added bonus to this video is that at the end is an interview with Theda, so you can hear her talk!

Here is another cool find, the only remaning part of Colleen Moore's film, Flaming Youth. For some reason, I used to think that this one did survive, but alas...Anyways, this clip is supposed to be the trailer for the film, but if you compare it to trailers nowadays, it is hard to call it a trailer. So, who knows. Sad thing is, it looked like such a cute film! I was getting engrossed, but had to stop myself because I knew it was a dead end. But seriously, how much crap does Colleen pour on herself in the beginning? Drains all these different scents on her, powders the holy hell out of her face and body, and then the finishing touch, the mole on the shoulder. Ah, flappers...

And finally....CLARA BOW IN COLOR! CLARA BOW IN COLOR! A clip from her film, Red Hair surfaced and it includes a portion in color! Oh, I love this so much.

Miss Vera Kholodnaya

One of my lovely readers, Suilyaniz, posted a picture of this actress on the Facebook group, "The Silent Film Lounge." The only things I knew about Vera was that she was Russian, and that she died young. But then it was mentioned that her body was stolen from her grave, and with a "WTF?" I was captivated even more. I am a total death hag, so I gotta look more into this.

Please join me.

Vera Kholodnaya was born Vera Vasilyevna Levchenko on August 5, 1893 in Poltava, Ukraine. Her mother's name was Yekaterina and the whole family enjoyed acting in plays. When she was around 10 years old, she was sent to live with her grandmother in Moscow so that she could attend the elite Perepelkina Grammar school.

From a young age, Vera always dreamed about being a ballerina. This wasn't just a little girl's fantasy, it is all she wanted to do. She enrolled at the Bolshoi Theatre ballet school and got the ball rolling.

After watching an admired fellow ballerina in a film role, it got Vera into thinking about the new medium. She approached an well known director, Vladimir Gardin, all on her own, a secured a small role in his production of Anna Karenina.

With the beginnings of World War I, she decided to switch studios. Her films were pretty big hits. At first she tried to copy the styles of other movie vamps, but she eventually found her own niche.

By the start of the 1920s, there was a Vera film in the theatres once a month. That is, until 1924, when the Soviets decided to destroy most of her films. It was the end of box office streak.

Before she had a chance to make a screen comeback, she became a victim of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, which claimed around 50 to 100 million people.

Vera Kholodnaya died on February 17, 1919 in Odessa, Ukraine. She was just 25 years old. She had just performed a concert wearing very revealing costumes in a rather cold climate days before her death.

Although her death certificate states the Spanish flu as the cause of death, there is still some speculation about what really happened to her. Some claim she was poisoned by a French diplomat that she was having an affair with. Others claim she was killed because she was allegedly working as a Russian spy.

Her funeral was a jam packed spectacle. And it was actually recorded! Apparently it was screened with the past few years, how cool/interesting would that be to see?

Okay, here is the deal with her grave and what happened to her body after she was buried. The cemetery she was buried in was turned into a park in 1931. Her family begged the government to let them move her body to a different cemetery, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Her burial vault was destroyed, and her body just...vanished. Not sure if it was destroyed or if someone took it. Not sure what the hell you would do with a skeleton, but people are weird, so who knows.

Although Vera did live a short life, she packed a lot of life into her small amount of years. She was married once, to Vladimir Kholodny in 1910. He was a race car driver and the editor of a daily sport newspaper that she had met at a graduation dance. Both families disapproved of the match, but the couple didn't care. She took his last name as her screen name. They had one daughter in 1912 named Evgeniya and also adopted another daughter, Nonna, a year later. They remained married until her death.

Vladimir Kholodny died two months after Vera. Their deaths were soon followed by Vera's mother, Yekaterina.

Vera's most famous film was Be Silent, My Sorrow, Be Silent in 1918. While the film was popular, it was also highly criticized. But hey, that gets people interested!

Her home country of Ukraine put her image on a postage stamp in 1993 and even erected a statue to her in 2003.

No one knows exactly how many films she made all together. It could be 50, or it could be over 100. Only five of them still survive.

While her husband was off fighting in WWI, she befriended a writer who nicknamed her "Queen of Screen." His name was Alexander Vertinsky, and apparently he had quite the crush on her. He would come to her house and literally just sit and a chair and stare at her.........for hours......Not sure what her feelings toward him were, but.....yeah....kinda creepy.

Here is part one of her film, Be Silent, My Sorrow, Be Silent. You can tell by this little bit that she was a pretty good actress. She had the looks of a vamp, but she also managed to maintain the innocent quality in her eyes. Oh, and it's in Russian so...yeah, just watch.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Miss Annette Kellerman

Okay, Annette "The Mermaid" Kellerman popped into my head the other day because I was looking at and reading about The Hippodrome that used to be in New York City. That is one place that just sounds like it was the coolest venue ever! A giant swimming tank that could be lowered and raised, I mean, imagine seeing a big show there with girls swimming around?! Oh, way too cool. And way too sad that the building was demolished in the 1930s. 

This is the first picture I have seen from inside The Hippodrome. So cool! Although, I would imagine the people in the front rows would need some Gallagher-esque ponchos.

Annette Kellerman was born Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman on July 6, 1886 in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia. She was born into quite the musical family. Her father Frederick was a violinist, and her mother, Alice was a pianist and a music teacher.

When she was 6 years old, a painful leg ailment caused Annette to get fitted with painful braces. Another rehabilitation therapy that was used to treat the pain was swimming lessons. About six years later, her legs seemed to be  much better and she a couple years later, she was winning swimming contests. 

After tasting sweet victory a few times, she decided that she should really take a serious interest in swimming. She began competing more, and subsequently winning more.  

When she was just 18 years old, Annette became the first woman to swim the English Channel. She had made previous attempts and through determination and perseverance, she succeeded.

With all this positive attention focused on her, she decided to wanted to use some of her notoriety for a good cause. Annette was a big advocate for a change in women's bathing suits. She was in favor of the less bulky one piece bathing suit, which was considered scandalous at the time. In 1907, she was arrested on a beach in Massachusetts for wearing one of these suits.

Other women seemed to agree with her modern thinking though because she soon created her own line of these one piece bathing suits. Not surprisingly, they were called "Annette Kellermans."

Annette made her film debut in 1909 in the film The Bride of Lammermoor: A Tragedy of Bonnie Scotland. And of course, most, if not all of them, were water themed. She also did a lot of what she called "fairy tale" themed movies, starting with her most well known, 1911's, The Mermaid.

In 1914, Annette became the first major actress to appear nude on film. And unfortunately, this film, A Daughter of the Gods, is among many of her lost films. She was also the first actress to wear a mermaid costume that she could swim in.

One of the things I love about silent film stars is that most of them did their own stunts, and Annette was one of those stars. She would perform high dives from 90 feet off the ground and sometimes she made these dives into pools of crocodiles!

She made her last film appearance in 1924, in the film Venus of the South Seas. This is actually the only one of her films that exists in a complete form. It is stored at the Library of Congress.

She eventually retired from the movie business, but she didn't stop swimming. She kept on doing this well into old age.

Annette Kellerman passed away on November 5, 1975. She was cremated, and her ashes were spread over the Great Barrier Reef.

Annette was married once, to her manager James Raymond Louis Sullivan in 1912. They remained married until his death in 1972.

If you ever wanna see her costumes and some memorabilia (I know I would!) they are housed at the Sydney Opera House and also at the Powerhouse Museum also in Sydney. 

Apparently in 2002 a documentary was made about her called The Original Mermaid. I tried looking and see where and how I could obtain a copy, and it looks like one person actually had to contact the production company out of Australia in order to get a copy. *whew* A lot of work!

In 2010, she had a brand new swimming complex named for her in her hometown. Pretty cool that she is still remembered after all these years!

Along with being a swimmer and an actress, Annette was also an author. She wrote numerous books, pamphlets, and articles about swimming, fitness, health, and beauty. She even wrote a children's book called Fairy Tales of the South Seas in 1926. There was also rumors of an autobiography, but it was never published.

In 1908, a Harvard professor named her "The Perfect Woman" out of 3000 selected women. He said her body reminded him of the Venus de Milo.

In February of 1914, she was injured during a performance along with another performer named Robert Brennan. They were swimming in an 8,000 gallon tank in Bermuda when suddenly, the glass tank burst and the water, along with the two swimmers, came rushing out. The injuries sustained were mostly cuts from being swept over broken bits of glass. Ouch!

Her brother, Maurice Kellerman, worked as a cinematographer.  

The 1952 film, Million Dollar Mermaid starring Esther Williams was based on Annette's life.

This is a website from the Powerhouse Museum which has some of Annette's costumes and belongings. They look so pristine and beautiful, what a great find for those of us who can't trek on over to Australia! Powerhouse Museum

"I want to swim. And I can't swim wearing more stuff than you hang on a clothe's line." ~~ Annette Kellerman

Annette in her OH SO SCANDALOUS bathing suit!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lost films

I have spoken before about how awful the words "presumed lost" are to me when it comes to silent films. It just seems so tragic that some of the earliest examples of film history were either destroyed on purpose, or destroyed by fire, or they just disintegrated. Theda Bara was THE vamp during the early teens and how incredible would it be to be able to see her in all her glory in Cleopatra? We've all seen pictures, but not a whole reel. And sadly, we probably never will. Most of Theda's films were lost in a fire on the Fox Studio lot during the 1930s. She kept a small stash of her own at home, but when she went to take them out one day to show a friend, she found that they had disintegrated. Of her roughly 40 or so films, only three survive fully intact.

Unfortunately, Theda isn't the star who has it the worst off as far as missing work goes. There is the sad story of another vamp, Valeska Suratt. The only thing that remains of her 11 or so films are photo stills that were taken on set. I will cover her in her own entry, but I wanted to note how tragic it is that none of her films survive. It would have been pretty cool to see her at her best on film, in all her outrageously amazing and beautiful vamp glory.

There are HUNDREDS of lost films out there, but I wanted to bring light to a few notable flicks that either survive in pieces or are gone forever.

The Adventurous Sex (1925) starring Clara Bow. Presumed lost.

The American Venus (1926) starring Louise Brooks, Esther Ralston, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Technicolor fragments still exist, along with two trailers.

Anne of Green Gables (1919) starring Mary Miles Minter and directed by William Desmond Taylor. Presumed lost.

The Battle of the Sexes (1914) starring Lillian Gish and directed by D.W. Griffith. This film was reportedly shot in only four days, and it is rumored that Rudolph Valentino worked as on extra. Only a fragment survives.

Camille (1917) starring Theda Bara. Presumed lost.

Carmen (1915) starring Theda Bara. Presumed lost.

Cleopatra (1917) starring Theda Bara. A few feet of film survives at the George Eastman House.

A Country Hero (1917) starring Roscoe Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Al St. John, Joe Keaton, Alice Lake, and Natalie Talmadge *hiss* Presumed lost :(

The Divine Woman (1928) starring Greta Garbo. One reel still survives.

Flaming Youth (1923) starring Colleen Moore. One reel survives at the Library of Congress

The Fleet's In (1928) starring Clara Bow. Presumed lost.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1927) starring Ruth Taylor and Alice White. Presumed lost. Ugh! How amazing would it be to see this!!

Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929) starring Lilyan Tashman and Ann Pennington. Only fragments and a sound disc survive.

The Great Gatsby (1926) starring Lois Wilson and William Powell. Only a trailer survives.
Hollywood (1923) starring EVERYONE. Major bummer that this one is lost because it stars a cavalcade of stars. Roscoe Arbuckle, Agnes Ayres, Charlie Chaplin, Betty Compson, Viola Dana, Bebe Daniels, Douglas Fairbanks, Hope Hampton, Leatrice Joy, Lila Lee, Jacqueline Logan, May McAvoy, Pola Negri, Anna Q. Nilsson, Jack Pickford, Mary Pickford, Zasu Pitts, Will Rogers, Ford Sterling, Anita Stewart, Gloria Swanson, Estelle Taylor, Ben Turpin, and the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties. Man, just reading off the names makes me sad.

Human Wreckage (1923) starring Dorothy Davenport, Bessie Love, and Lucille Ricksen. Presumed lost. Another film that I am very bummed is missing. Dorothy wrote this after the tragic drug related death of her husband, Wallace Reid.

The Mermaid (1911) starring Annette Kellerman. Presumed lost.

The Perils of Pauline (1914) starring Pearl White. Incomplete prints survive.

Romeo and Juliet (1916) starring Theda Bara. Presumed lost.

Rough House Rosie (1927) starring Clara Bow. Only the trailer survives.

A Sainted Devil (1924) starring Rudolph Valentino and Nita Naldi. Only fragments survive.

Salome (1918) starring Theda Bara. Presumed lost.

Sin (1915) starring Theda Bara. Presumed lost.

The Snob (1924) starring John Gilbert and Norma Shearer. Presumed lost.

A Social Celebrity (1926) starring Louise Brooks, Chester Conklin, and Adolphe Menjou. There were two surviving prints, one that was at the Eastman house which was viewed by Louise herself before the film deteriorated. The second reel was housed in France and was destroyed in a fire.

For a complete list of lost films, check out Silent Era. Great site with a ton of information.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Miss Lilyan Tashman

There are three things that I know for sure about Lilyan Tashman. 1.) She was stunningly beautiful. 2.) She died way too soon. 3.) She beat the hell out of a fellow actress when she found her in her husband's dressing room. And for these three reasons, I salute you.

Lilyan Tashman was born October 23, 1896 in Brooklyn, New York. She was the TENTH and final child born to Maurice and Rose Tashman. In her early teens she worked as a model for both fashion magazines and artists.

She first appeared on the vaudeville stage when she was in her late teens and quickly became a very skilled performer. A few years later, she moved on to the Ziegfeld Follies where she remained for about two years.

After the Follies, Lilyan joined a David Belasco production where she worked as an understudy to Ina Claire. She even got to go on for her a few times.

Lilyan made her film debut in 1921, but still chose to appear in plays as well. When one of the plays she was in closed, she made another film, this time with comedienne Mabel Normand.

Unfortunately, another one of her plays closed so she decided to move out to Hollywood where the movie making action was really starting to rise. At first, she wasn't tied to any studio. She chose to free lance and just appear in the films that she chose to do. Eventually though, she did sign with Paramount Studios.

Although Lilyan didn't become a huge star, she did appear next to some during her career. She shared the screen with such names as Will Rogers, Norma Talmadge, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, and Norma Shearer.

She did make a smooth transition into the talkies. It seemed easier sometimes for  'bit' players because they weren't so larger than life and fans didn't put an image to them. They were free to just be. In all, she made 28 talking pictures, which is pretty good. One of the films she appeared in was The Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), which sadly is a lost film.

Her last film appearance was in 1936's Frankie and Johnny.

By the time of her last film, her health was already worn. In 1932, she went to the hospital to have her appendix removed, although now there are people who believe it was actually to have surgery as treatment for abdominal cancer. In 1934 her health was getting worse, so she went back into the hospital, but sadly, her cancer had progressed far beyond help.

Lilyan Tashman passed away on March 21, 1934 in New York City. She was only 37 years old.

She was buried at Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Lilyan was married twice. Her first husband was another actor she met during her vaudeville days named Al Lee. They married in 1914, separated in 1920, and were finally divorced in 1921.

Her second, and most notable marriage was to actor Edmund Lowe in 1925. Not only was Lowe a longtime friend of hers, he was also openly gay. They were the new Pickford/Fairbanks couple around Hollywood. They represented the ideal marriage to the public, living in a beautiful mansion called "Lilowe." They held large and lavish parties and even orgies with their movie star friends! The two never had children, but did remain married until her death.

So. Edmund Lowe was gay, BUT so was Lilyan. Well, she was bisexual. Apparently, she loved grabbing the most beautiful ladies in the room, bring them to the nearest restroom, and have a little tryst! Her most famous lover was none other than Greta Garbo! The two met in 1928 and were involved in a very heated relationship until 1932 when Greta cooled from Lilyan's raging jealous nature. This left Lilyan heartbroken.

During her later career, she was seen as a fashion icon by her fans. They wanted her hairstyle, her dresses, her hats, you name it!

During tea time, her household staff were also told to serve her cats as well. She used to paint rooms of her house to compliment her hair, and even painted the whole house red and white on a whim, told her guests to wear red and white, and even brought in red and white toilet paper!

As per usual when it comes to death and wills, there was a bit of a heated debate over what to do with Lilyan's estate. She didn't leave a will, and there was the issue of what to do with her massive collections of jewelry, furs, and cash. The debate was between her husband, Edmund, and her two sisters Jennie and Hattie. I am not sure how this was settled.

In 1931, Lilyan was arrested and charged with assault. She walked into her husband Edmund's dressing room and caught him with actress June Marlowe. She beat the living hell out of June before finally being pulled off her by Edmund. The charges were later dropped. THIS. IS. AWESOME.

I have also read that Lilyan also got into a fight with actress Constance Bennett after Constance apparently flirted with Lilyan's then girlfriend. Another fight? Lupe Velez. These two got into an altercation with punches being landed and nails scratching at faces. According to onlookers, Lupe was the winner of this fight. Lilyan at least got 2 out of 3! Lupe was crazy, I wouldn't want to go up against her!

Edmund Lowe and Lilyan

"It's more boring for a woman to talk about clothes than for a man to talk of his golf scores." ~~ Lilyan Tashman