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Tuesday 11 April 2017

This Week in History - Apr 9 to 15

Everything you need to know about the goings-ons and gossip from this week in Precode Hollywood.

1929:
‘It’ Grows Stale: With the ‘It’ trade mark wearing out its usefulness for Clara Bow, Paramount press agents are trying to coin new emblems to identify the gal. Some of the suggestions that have already reached print are: ‘The Brooklyn Bonfire’, ‘Million Candle Power Girl’, ‘God’s Gift to Tired Business Men’ and other hot box-office titles.

Stalling Talkers: Jack Warner has found that the wear on his nervous system answering questions when visiting or dining out is eased up considerably through the distribution of printed cards. According to the tenor of conversationalists, the chief of Warner studios slips over the reply. On reads: “Who is double-crossing you now?” Another says in type: “Go to our theatre if you want to hear people talking pictures.
The head of the family, Jack Warner
Way Out of Sync: Audience at the opening night of Noah’s Ark at Chicago, went into roars of laughter when the synchronisation went wrong during a tough argument between George O’Brien and Big Boy Williams. Instead of the husky voice of Williams, came the the soft tons of Dolores Costello saying, ‘He said to kiss me again for France.”
A scene from Noah's Art
Paramount Denies Eagels’ Strife: Jealousy resumed production on April 4 after an enforced layoff. Studio denies Jeanne Eagels walked off the set as reported in the dallies or that there was any temperamental break between Paramount and Miss Eagels. She was ill and, moreover, her leading man, Anthony Bushnell, under a term contract, was also ill and was away two days longer than Miss Eagles. Jealousy will be finished on April 13, one week behind schedule. (I bet the rumour-mongers felt guilty when Jeanne Eagles died six months later with Jealousy her last picture).  
Jeanne Eagels in Jealousy 
1930:
Making the Weight: Biggest market for weighing scales is Hollywood. Hardly a home there without a scale. First National has even gone to the extent of analysing what weight would best suit its actors and latter are accordingly advised or ordered. Weight is based according to particular roles but in this manner an actor or actress gets first hand info without argument.
Busby Berkeley measuring chorus girls
Buster Keaton say he mastered a vocabulary of 1,000 words in three days but forgets what they were.

Fifi Pleads ‘Slavery’ on Constitution of US: Fifi D’Orsay is invoking the Constitution of the US and asking the Los Angeles courts to liberate her from a contract with Lyons & Lyons agents on the grounds of ‘slavery’. The complaint filed is a kickback to the suit brought by the agent against her on her contract with Fox. The Constitution states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as punishment for crimes of the party who shall have been duly convicted shall exit in the United States.” The agent has responded by commenting that it is “promiscuous” and “laughable”.   
Don't mess with Fifi
Manager Shoots Wife in Leg: Peter Brill, former manager of the Majestic in Indiana, shot his 17-years-old wife in the leg and killed himself in a hotel room. The actress wife was taken to hospital. Her condition is not serious. 

1931:
Scandalous Reports on MacDonald All False: Though reported in Variety as on her way from New York to Los Angeles, Jeannette MacDonald received columns of local front page and unsavoury publicity as the heroine of a drama supposed to have taken place in Italy. Story, for which the whole press fell, is that she had had an affair with the Italian hereditary prince, whose wife, Princess Marie Jose of Belgium, was supposed to have shot. Miss MacDonald dead in a fit of jealousy, ordering the body to be disposed of secretly. 
Jeannette MacDonald
Roth Marries Despite Grief Over Fiance’s Death: Lillian Roth was married on April 11 to William C. Scott, non-pro from Pittsburgh. Bride gave her age as 22 and the groom as 24. The announcement comes a short while after the death of her reported former fiancé, Herbert Oshins, which occurred in January. At the time of his death, Miss Roth went into hysterics. She carried on outwardly in a most noticeable fashion. 
Lillian Ross
When script of Five Star Final was completed, one of the Warners execs discovered there was a character named Luella, a rough newspaper woman. Luella immediately became Kitty.

1932:
Tyrone Power Set: Tyrone Power has been set for his first picture. He goes into Brown of Culver at Universal. He is 18.
Young Tyrone Power
Chico Marx’s Auto Wreck: Chico Marx’s car got tangled with another in Los Angeles on April 9 and the comedian was taken to the hospital with a dislocated kneecap and chest injuries. It is anticipated that he will be discharged in about a week. Meanwhile Paramount is continuing production on Horse Feathers with the other three Marxs, holding Chico’s sequences for his recovery.
Chico Marx
The Mayor Helps: The Strand to advertise The Crowd Roars required the help of the mayor and police department. House advertised for several days that the theatre was to stage a junior automobile sweepstakes for children with the motive power their sturdy legs. Eight children, the oldest eight, entered the contest. The race started at State and Pearl streets, after the police cleared the main street. Mayor Thacher started the youngsters off. 

Liquor and Meds Start Agitation Anew: Fearing that drinking scenes in pictures might prove an argument against prohibition, bone drys throughout the country are petitioning censor boards demanding an absolute ban on pictures showing liquor, drinking scenes or mention of wetness. Revived agitation is reported to have arisen following release of The Wet Parade, though in that picture reformers find something to cheer about. Most of the petitions come from rural districts where the pluggers have sold the idea that Hollywood producers are trying to encourage drinking by glorifying it.
A scene from Wet Parade (1932)
1933:
Answering the $500,000 suit against him and three others by Jack Montgomery, on behalf of Baby Peggy Montgomery, Norman Sper alleges he has no information or belief that Montgomery is the father of Baby Peggy, as set forth in the suit. All other charges are denied.
The very cute Baby Peggy
Nils Asther played only one day in Metro’s Dinner at Eight, when he was replaced by Edmund Lowe, studio deciding he was a better type for the part.

Garbo’s Alias: When a Swedish steamer put into Antwerp on Monday, Mlle. Gustavson went ashore for a couple of days wandering about the city visiting its art museums and galleries and port. Only when the steamer left to continue her voyage to San Francisco did Antwerp citizens learn that Mlle. Gustavson was Greta Garbo.  
Miriam Hopkins Broken Ankle Stalls Strangers: Metro has postponed Strangers Return from April 17 to May 1. Reason given is that Miriam Hopkins broke her ankle. In the meantime, Phil Strong, author of the story, will be brought on lot to revise script, aided by King Vidor, who will direct. 

1934: 
Hazel Forbes, blonde heiress, will make her screen debut. She has been signed for a role in Down to the Last Yacht, musical extravaganza. Miss Forbes joins a cast that includes Sidney Fox, Ned Sparks, Sidney Blackmer and Mary Boland.
The young Hazel Forbes
Contrary to the general belief, Greta Garbo, uses less make-up than any star in pictures. Only a slight tinge of greasepaint covered by light powder is her entire facial makeup.

Raquel Torres and Stephen Ames (former husband of Adrienne Ames) are to be married within the next two weeks, according to present plans.
Mr and Mrs Stephen Ames
Lilyan Tashman Left $31,000: Lilyan Tashman, who died last month in New York, left an estate of about $31,000, mostly cash and bonds, according to a petition of letters for administration filed by her husband, Edmund Lowe. Miss Tashman left no will.
Lilyan and Edmund during happier times

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  20. What a fascinating insight into the world of Precode Hollywood! The anecdotes and gossip from this week in history are a delightful read. I can't help but wonder, did Clara Bow eventually adopt one of those suggested new emblems? And what happened to Hazel Forbes' screen career?

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  42. Precode Hollywood always transports me back to a time when my grandmother shared stories about sneaking into theaters as a young girl, just to catch a glimpse of stars like Clara Bow and Greta Garbo. She used to laugh, recounting how she once tried to emulate the "Brooklyn Bonfire" look with fiery-red lipstick, only to be scolded by her conservative mother. Her tales made me realize the timeless impact of cinema and the stars who graced its screens.

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