Monday, October 31, 2011

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

On Saturday, I went to the Redford Theatre to go see the 1923 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Lon Chaney. I LOOOOVE the Redford! It is such a beautiful theatre, is volunteer run, AND still has the original organ from 1928 when it was first built. My favorite part of the theatre is the starry night ceiling they have. It feels like you are watching a movie outdoors. Check it out on their website...Redford Theatre.

Anyways, I had never seen this movie the whole way through and was pretty excited because Lon Chaney is the master of horror. Also, I was really excited to see Gladys Brockwell in a film finally!

With that being said, it wasn't my favorite film of Chaney's. The movie introduced so many characters in a span of a few minutes that it took me a little bit to get everyone figured out. Also, I didn't really understand the pathos of the hunchback. I mean, I get that he was a tortured soul cooped up in the bell tower but really did have a soft spot inside, but still I was kinda lost on that part. And it didn't seem like he was really in the film that much.

Patsy Ruth Miller did a wonderful job as Esmeralda and she was so beautiful in the role. She reminded me of Olive Borden at times. My only nitpicking with that role was her t-shirt looking costume. When I think of a gypsy, I think of someone letting some skin show like a Vilma Banky or Theda Bara, but Patsy looked like she had a t-shirt with a gold vest sewn on. It was really odd. Also, Norman Kerry as Phoebus...he looked like my dad when he was younger, and that was cracking me up.

Gladys Brockwell was amazing. She played a younger woman in a flashback scene, and for the rest of the movie she was an old, haggard woman. I thought she was wonderful and I am so happy I got to finally see her in a film. She died 6 years after this film was made.

I had the 'pleasure' of listening to different people's remarks about Lon Chaney and the film itself. While standing in line outside to get my ticket, I learned that Lon died shortly after this film was made.........which, um, if true...what a hell of an actor! He came back from the dead and appeared in about 20 more movies! Incredible. The gentleman also said that a movie was made about Chaney starring James Cagney called, "Lon Chaney's Make Up Kit." *face palm* I didn't want to to but into his conversation because I didn't want to be THAT person, but thankfully another guy filled him in...which made me smile.

I did learn some interesting things about the film though when I got home and did some research about it. One of the first things I noticed was how the film was in kinda rough shape. And I am not talking about the usual scratches and such on old film, I mean it looked kinda worn. I found out by reading online that the condition isn't the best because it only exists in a 16mm format. And there is actually still about 15 minutes of the film that is considered lost.

Lon Chaney was a man who really became his characters. He kept one of his eyes covered with putty for the film everyday, which eventually led to him having to wear glasses for the rest of his life. He also developed some leg problems from the brace he wore to perfect the walk of the hunchback. What a guy!

The set for Notre Dame was so big and intricate, they decided to keep them up on the lot for all to see. Unfortunately, a fire during the 1960s destroyed the set. :(

There are reportedly some famous faces who worked as extras in the film. Gilbert Roland, Charles Farrell, and Elmo Lincoln are perhaps somewhere in there...I am just not Eagle Eye enough to spot them. Maybe you can! Let me know!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Miss Mary Nolan

When I first heard about Mary, I heard about her under one of her other stage names, Imogene Wilson. Well..."Bubbles" Wilson actually, when she performed in the Ziegfeld Follies. She just seemed to be filled with a lot of sadness and struggles, you could see it in her eyes. Her name was plagued with scandal during most of her career, no matter which name she used.

I have visited her grave a few times, and even her grave is filled with sadness. She is entombed at the top of a doorway and it seems people have forgotten about her. But, we won't let that happen completely, will we? Noooooope!

Mary Nolan was born Mary Imogene Robertson on December 18, 1905 in Hickory Grove, Kentucky. Her mother died when she was still a child, and her father had to care for her and her brothers and sisters alone.

In order to help support herself and her family, she worked various jobs before moving to New York City in 1919. There she got a job as a model, and no wonder, because she was gorgeous! It was while working as a model that her life changed thanks to the man himself, Florenz Ziegfeld.

Ziegfeld spotted Mary one day and asked her to be in his Follies production. She of course agreed, but she also had to agree to a name change. This is when she began performing under the name of Imogene 'Bubbles' Wilson, and she became quite the star!

The positive side of fame didn't last too long because of a scandalous affair she was involved in. To help escape all of the negative publicity that began to come down on her head, she fled to Germany. While there, she appeared in a couple of films.

In 1927, Mary moved back to the States and appeared in films under the name Mary Nolan and was somewhat of a hit, but again, it didn't last long.

In 1933, she appeared in her last film and was involved in another messy scandal. This time it was with Eddie Mannix, a famous Hollywood producer. She sued him for $500,000 in pain and suffering and damages because she claimed her used to beat her.

Soon after, she moved back to New York and entered a home for struggling actors. She spent a few years there resting and recovering from everything that had been going on in her life. She moved back to Hollywood in 1939, but didn't do anything with show business. She simply chose to live quietly with her sister Mabel.

Mary Nolan passed away on October 31, 1948 from cardiac arrest and malnutrition. Shortly before her death, she began to use to drugs which attributed to her death at age 42. Apparently she only weighed around 90 lbs when she died.

She was interred at the Hollywood Forever cemetery.

Mary made quite a name for herself (and not in a positive way) because of her many affairs she had. Her first notable affair was with Frank Tinney, a comedian she met when she was in the Ziegfeld Follies. He was an abusive man she claimed, and even beat her to the point of hospitalization, but she came back to him time and time again. The reason why this affair was so scandalous was because Tinney was married to another actress named Edna Davenport. This was the scandal that caused Mary to be fired from the Follies.

Apparently she was married once, but I can't find any information other than that his name was Wallace McCreary, a fellow actor. They were still married when she passed away.

Mary once owed a piano that belonged to Rudolph Valentino. The piano was so large that it took up most of her living room. She greatly admired Valentino, and owned a view other possessions from his home. She also kept a picture of him on the piano.

Right before she died, she was in talks with various publishers and writers about selling her life story to be made into a movie or a book. I hope one day this will come to be, because what a life! I will play Mary of course :)

"I've had a beautiful life, I've tumbled into the most beautiful life in the world. I'd never change it." ~ Mary Nolan

Mary looks beautiful in this picture, but what the hell is that statue?! It looks like some evil, warped, Disney character!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Miss Joyce Compton

I wanted to do a quick entry on Joyce Compton because she is oh so cute, and because Michael Ankerich wrote a book about her that I plan on reading soon and I wanted to know a lil bit more about her before reading it. Does that make sense? Kinda like you want to clean the house before the maid comes over or something. Michael Ankerich is the loverly man that wrote the great book, Dangerous Curves atop Hollywood Heels, so I am looking forward to reading the Joyce book. He is working on a Mae Murray one now, and can't wait for it!

Joyce Compton was born Olivia Joyce Compton on January 27, 1907 in Lexington, Kentucky.

It seems her acting career began after she graduated high school and went to study acting at Tulsa University. She got her break in the movies kinda like Clara Bow, by winning a contest. Her prize was to appear in a couple films, but only as an extra.

She got a big boost in her career when she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1926. She was in good company with Mary Brian, Joan Crawford, Dolores Del Rio, Janey Gaynor, Marceline Day, Mary Astor, Fay Wray, and Dolores Costello. They really snagged some stars that year, eh?

Not all WAMPAS girls became big stars like Crawford and Gaynor. Some only appeared in bit parts in movies, or appeared mostly in B movies. Joyce was the latter. She didn't appear in many big pictures, but she did mostly play the same character. She was seen as the 'ditzy blonde' kinda like Jayne Mansfield or Judy Holliday.

Some notable films she appeared in were: The Awful Truth, Imitation of Life, Mildred Pierce, and The Best Years of Our Lives.

Joyce Compton passed away on October 13, 1997 of natural causes in Los Angeles.

She was laid to rest at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills.

Apparently religion was very important to Joyce, and she wanted to be known as a Christian actress. She even had it put on her gravestone.

Joyce was married once, to William Kaliher from 1955 to 1956. No kids, and no clue why they divorced. But it's Hollywood, so not surprising to see such a short marriage.

Contrary to some information out there, Joyce was NOT born Eleanor Hunt. Apparently after she and actress Eleanor Hunt appeared in a movie together, a press article confused the two which led some people to believe that her name really was Eleanor.

Some of the movies she appeared in were so low budget, she had to wear her own clothes and jewelry for her character's wardrobe.

I mentioned her similar start to that of Clara Bow's....well, they must of had a lot more than that in common because the two were close friends. What a couple of lovely girls.
Joyce and Clara Bow

"I made some movies, but lucky for me, I made even better friends." ~ Joyce Compton