Carrying on from a few posts I did years ago I am hoping to do a weekly post on interesting news events and gossip from Pre-code Hollywood history. This can include everything from marriages to breakups, babies, film developments and release results. Let me know what you think of the pieces. The first highlights this week (January 8 to 14) and the newsworthy events in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934. Enjoy!
Objections to Alma Rubens’ Prowling – Actress Alma Rubens was not behaving to the satisfaction of her neighbours in 1929. A number of them her summoned to court on a charge of disturbing the peace with the actress pleading not guilty. It seemed Miss Rubens had a habit of prowling at all hours with a flashlight looking for something she never seemed to find.
Lon Chaney for Silence Only – Lon Chaney flatly refused to appear in talking pictures. He issued his decision when MGM officials tried to pursue him to appear in a talking short with other stars. Mr Chaney says he made his reputation as an interpreter of mysterious characters, that he has only one voice and it can’t be changed as he changes his makeup or character.
WAMPAS Elects Baby Stars – These lucky ladies were elected as the 1929 WAMPAS Baby Stars in January of that year: Jean Arthur, Doris Hill, Anita Page, Josephine Dunn, Loretta Young, Doris Dawson, Sally Blane, Betty Boyd, Helen Twelvetrees, Mona Rico, Ethlyn Claire, Caryl Lincoln and Helen
|The WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1929|
Hawks’ Unit on Retakes when Air Crash Kills 10 – ten men were announced to have perished over the Pacific during the making of ‘Such Men Are Dangerous’ for Fox. The film was finished ten days before the disaster occurred but director Kenneth Hawks wanted to make retakes. It was during the retakes that two planes collided and fell burning into the sea. Crew from a third plane witnessed the tragedy.
Mayer-Thalberg Contracts With Metro for 5 Years – Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg of Metro studios and J. Robert Rubin, Metro’s counsel in New York, agreed upon new contracts for five years each in 1930. Under the agreements Mayer will have full charge of all business affairs and Thalberg will be in full charge of production.
|Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg|
Benson Unit Changes – Elimination of the femme lead, withdrawal of Phillip Holmes from the cast and a switch in directors were the changes made to Paramount’s ‘Benson Murder Case’, starring William Powell. Frank Tuttle replaced Louis Gasnier as director.
Lil Bond Gets Film Start in Stage Part – MGM announced it had obtained talker rights to ‘Stepping High’ in which Lillian Bond appeared on stage. Talker version was the first try for Miss Bond in pictures.
Mob Censors Cartoon – Spurred by the peasants’ clergy, a mob of countrymen started a demonstration against Disney comic cartoon ‘The Ghostly Hour’ in the town of Klaganfuris, Austria. The churchman said the trick shots of puppet skeletons dancing in a graveyard were “irreligious, immoral and blasphemous”.
‘Quiet’ Now Banned in Vienna – All was finally quiet on the cinema western front by surrender of the Austrian Government to demonstrations of a few thousand hoodlums against Universal’s ‘All Quiet’. The prohibition followed three days in which the busiest part of Vienna was transformed into a real battlefield with mounted police charging the crowd and making 50 arrests after rioters smashed shop windows and caused heavy damage.
Dodging Hawaii – Radio’s ‘Bird of Paradise’ unit relocated in Florida in 1932 instead of Honolulu because of reported turmoil over attacks by natives on white women there.
Ignore Television – Television failed to create any big excitement at the annual convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at New Orleans. Television was notably absent from the major displays and had only a minor presentation.
Gilbert’s Gratis Offer – John Gilbert was so anxious to play the baron in ‘Grand Hotel’ that he offered to work gratis for the film. Metro assigned the part to John Barrymore.
‘Sell or Starve’ Routine Makes Fan Mag Writers Coast Bloodhounds – Variety paper exposed the lengths tabloids went to uncover dirt news and pictures. These included stealing portraits using candid cameras, working the friends of film names, posing as somebody else, talking to servants/ beauty shop workers and ‘going at it keyhole wise’. The paper named Greta Garbo as a target with photographers climbing a tree in Garbo’s backyard to get unexposed photos of her.
Zukor is 60 – Adolph Zukor celebrated his 60th birthday on Janurary 7 with a small party at his home.
Dorothy Burgess’ Jam Over Auto Accident – actress Dorothy Burgess was the target for a $25,000 damage suit and faced manslaughter charges. This was a result of a late December, 1932 auto accident in which her car collided with another and killed, Louise Manfredl, 17.
Dietrich Still Objects – Although Paramount withdrew its $185,000 suit against Marlene Dietrich and she had agreed to begin work on January 16 on ‘Song of Songs’, she appeared on the lot on January 6 and told the studio executives the story was even less to her liking in its present form than it had heretofore been. She declared she could not give her part a justifiable characterization. Someone must have talked her around as the film was released, with Dietrich in the starring role, in July 1933.
Waxing Mae – Mae West was the newest personality to enter the halls of Mme. Tussaud’s Wax Works, London in 1934. Paramount in New York was notified via cable and shipped a dress worn by Miss West in one of her pictures.
Grant’s Illness Slows Paramount’s ‘Come on Marines’ – ‘Come On Marines’ on Paramount’s schedule for last month was shelved temporarily caused by the illness of Cary Grant in England and a partial story revamp by Byron Morgan. I’m not sure what happened between January 8 and the film’s release on March 23 but Grant did not appear in the picture.