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In The Spotlight Redux

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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Vecchiolarry
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Postby Vecchiolarry » June 28th, 2008, 10:18 am

Hi Joe,

Yes, Ramon's murder was a shock to eveybody. Poor Pola Negri never got over it and talked about him as late as 1986.
I can't imagine what Norma Shearer went through as she had been in love with him since the beginning (I've been told that by a couple of people). Both her husbands resembled Ramon Novarro.

The finish to the Sophia story:
She had just presented Gregory Peck with his Oscar and as they came offstage her huge white feathered boa kept dispensing white feathers all over the place. She and Peck passed by me and that's when she spotted Ramon coming out of Joan Crawford's dressing room.
Over she ran, threw her arms around him and giving him a great big kiss on the lips. They both had feathers in their mouths and stared laughing.
Sidney Skolsky, a Hollywood reporter, said to her, "Sophia, you're molting!"...
"Mouldy!", she misinterpreted screaming, "you stupid man, I'm not mouldy, I'm Sophia!!"....
Skolsky was not a very well liked man in LA. I've never heard a good word about him....

Larry

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mongoII
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Postby mongoII » June 30th, 2008, 1:13 pm

Hi Larry,

The Sophia Loren story was a hoot. I didn't know that Norma Shearer had such a crush on Ramon Novarro. Little did she know.

I recall reading a book written by Sidney Skolsky, 'The Show Business Nobody Knows'? and it contained some hot stuff for it's time.

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mongoII
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Postby mongoII » June 30th, 2008, 1:15 pm

In the Spotlight: CARL 'ALFALFA' SWITZER
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The off-key rascal with the cowlick was born Carl Dean Switzer on August 7, 1927 in Paris, Illinois.
He and his older brother, Harold, became famous around their hometown for their musical talent and performances; both sang and played a number of instruments.

The Switzers took a trip to California in 1934 to visit with family members. While sightseeing the Switzers eventually wound up at Hal Roach Studios. Following a public tour of the facility, 8-year-old Harold and 6-year-old Carl entered into the Hal Roach Studio's cafeteria, the 'Our Gang' Café, and began an impromptu performance. Producer Hal Roach was present at the commissary that day and was impressed by the performance. He signed both Switzers to appear in 'Our Gang'. Harold was given two nicknames, "Slim" and "Deadpan", and Carl was dubbed "Alfalfa".

The Switzer brothers first appeared in the 1935 'Our Gang' short, 'Beginner's Luck'. By the end of the year, Alfalfa was one of the main characters in the series which included Spanky, Darla, Buckwheat, Porky, Waldo, Pete the pup, etc.
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Spanky, Darla, Alfalfa & Porky of "Our Gang".

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Alfalfa 'singing' with Darla, Spanky, Buckwheat & Porky.

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Lucky Alfalfa in center of hula girls wih Darla to his left.

His best friend in the "Our Gang" cast was Tommy Bond, who played his on-screen nemesis Butch.
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Alfalfa, Spanky and tough guy Butch.

Alfie appeared in 61 of the "Our Gang" comedies.

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Isabel Randolph, Alfalfa, & Bob Hope in "My Favorite Blonde".

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Alfalfa with Elizabeth Taylor in "There's One Born Every Minute."

Although Carl Switzer was an experienced singer and musician, his character Alfalfa was often called upon to sing off-key renditions of pop standards and contemporary hits, most often those of Bing Crosby. Alfalfa also sported one of the most famous cowlicks in pop culture history.
His father was often engaged in power struggles with 'George 'Spanky' McFarland''s father (over billing, screen time, star status, etc.). The boys, however, managed to get along fine with one another.

Switzer's country-boy sense of earthy humor could often be cruel. He enjoyed playing tricks on his fellow cast and crew members.
After Hal Roach sold the series to Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) in 1938, the now-adolescent Switzer's behavior was even more extreme. He often sabotaged the production of 'Our Gang' films. Once, during a break in filming, Switzer urinated on the set's lights. When filming resumed, the lights heated up and filled the set with such a stench that filming had to be halted for the rest of the day. On another occasion, he put chewing gum inside one of the cameras.

Both Switzers' tenures in Our Gang ended in 1940, when Carl was thirteen.
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Switzer in his teens.

Carl continued to appear in movies in various supporting and bit roles, including "The Human Comedy", "I Love You Again", "Going My Way", "Courage of Lassie", "It's a Wonderful Life", "A Letter to Three Wives", "House by the River", "Pat and Mike", "The High and the Mighty", "Track of the Cat", "Francis in the Navy", "The Ten Commandments", etc.
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Switzer raiding the apricot tree in "The Human Comedy" (1943).

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Switzer, Bing Crosby & Stanley Clements in "Going My Way" (1944).

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Switzer with Conrad Binyon in "Courage of Lassie" (1946).

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Donna Reed, James Stewart & Switzer in "It'a a Wonderful Life" and below, Switzer conspiring to open the hidden pool.
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Switzer between Henry Fonda and James Stewart in "On Our Merry Way" (1948).

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Switzer with Thelma Ritter in "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949).

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Switzer with Loretta Young in "Cause for Alarm" (1951).

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Switzer, Tracy & Hepburn in "Pat and Mike" (1952).

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Switzer as Sonny Hopper in "Island in the Sky" (1953).

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Switzer wooing Linda Darnell in "This Is My Love" (1954).

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Switzer with wife Diane and baby son (1954 or 1955).

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Switzer as Joe Sam in "Track of the Cat" with Beulah Bondi, Tab Hunter & Diana Lynn (1954).

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Switzer in "Francis in the Navy" (1955).

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Switzer, Huntz Hall & Leo Gorcey in "Dig That Uranium" (1955).

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Switzer as Savage in "Between Heaven and Hell" (1956).

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Switzer as a slave getting news of his new born baby in "The Ten Commandments" (1956).

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Switzer as Speed in "Motorcycle Gang" (1957).

His final film role was in 1958's "The Defiant Ones" and on the television series, "The Roy Rogers Show," where he was called upon to reprise his off-key "Alfalfa-like" singing. Switzer's difficult reputation and his typecasting as Alfalfa made it difficult for him to find quality work.
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Switzer (right) in "The Defiant Ones" his last role (1958).

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Switzer, Roy & Dale on TVs "The Roy Rogers Show."
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In January 1958, he was shot in the arm while getting into his car. He survived the shooting, but the shooter was never identified. Months later, Switzer was arrested in Sequoia National Forest for cutting down 15 pine trees. He was sentenced to a year's probation and ordered to pay a $225 fine.

In the early 1950s, Switzer moved to Kansas. He lived and worked on a farm , west of Wichita. There he met and married Diane Collingwood, the heiress of grain elevator empire Collingwood Grain. The marriage only lasted four months, but did result in the birth of a son whose name is still a well kept secret.

While not acting, Switzer bred hunting dogs and led guided hunting expeditions. Some of his more notable clients included Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (Switzer's godparents), and Jimmy Stewart.

Although one of the most popular members of "Our Gang," Switzer's later life became an almost textbook example of the former child star whose life takes a turn for the worse. Numerous brushes with the law, a broken marriage, and grade-Z film work (when he could get it) all led up to his sudden, violent death in January 1959 at the age of only 31.

Sadly, he died by gunshot wound by an acquaintance in an argument over $50 which Switzer felt the acquaintance owed him. The acquaintance pleaded self-defense, and the judge ruled the death "justifiable homicide."
A similar fate befell his brother, actor Harold Switzer, who, nine years later, killed his girlfriend and (a few hours after that) himself.

The delightful Alfalfa of 'Our Gang' fame is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
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Many sources have stated that the image of a dog displayed on Switzer's tombstone refers to the Pete the pup from the Little Rascals series. This is not, in fact, correct; rather, the image references his work as a professional breeder.

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Postby moira finnie » July 2nd, 2008, 2:37 pm

In the early 1950s, Switzer moved to Kansas. He lived and worked on a farm , west of Wichita. There he met and married Diane Collingwood, the heiress of grain elevator empire Collingwood Grain. The marriage only lasted four months, but did result in the birth of a son whose name is still a well kept secret. ~ Mongo


Gee, wouldn't it be awful if they named him "Alfalfa" to go along with the mantle of The Grain King? Sorry. Couldn't resist!
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

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mongoII
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Postby mongoII » July 7th, 2008, 10:26 am

In the Spotlight: LEE PATRICK
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The versatile character actress was born in New York City on November 22, 1901.
Lee's father was an editor of a trade paper who prompted her interest in theater. She started off on the stock stage as a teen and debuted on Broadway in "The Green Beetle" (1924), becoming a long and popular NY stage presence during the 20s and early 30s.
In 1927 she co-starred in the comedy play "Baby Mine" with Humphrey Bogart (Hump) and they had a relationship. Although she loved him, it was Bogart who eventually broke it off.

Her success in the play "Stage Door" (1937) led her to Hollywood to reprise her role in the film version. Eventually the part was rewritten and split from a single character into two characters which were played by Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers.
Patrick had made her film debut in 1929, but since that time, had not appeared in a single film, and RKO was reluctant to cast an unknown actress for a film which they were beginning to realize had great potential. Her disappointments continued when she was considered and then rejected for the lead role in "Stella Dallas" (1937) in favor of Barbara Stanwyck.

She remained in Hollywood, and appeared in "Border Cafe" (1937). Over the next several years she played numerous supporting roles, and became an invaluable Warner Bros. stock player enhancing such movies as "The Sisters", "Invisible Stripes", "Saturday's Children", "City fo Conquest", "Dangerously They Live", "Footsteps in the Dark", "In This Our Life", "Now, Voyager", "George Washington Slept Here", and "Mildred Pierce" as Mrs. Biederhof.
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Lee played te role of 'Big Annie'. Also starring Anne Shirley (1938)

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(1940)

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(1941)

One of Patrick's most enduring film characterisations was in "The Maltese Falcon" as Effie Perine, the loyal and quick-thinking secretary of Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade.
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Lee in her most notable role as Effie, Humphrey Bogart & Mary Astor in "The Maltese Falcon" (1941).

By her own reckoning, the blonde character actress "played them all: big sister, society matron, hooker, wisecracker, bubble dancer, nuthouse inmate, and even a song and dance girl."

Among her other films are, "Somewhere I'll Find You", "Jitterbugs" with Laurel & Hardy, "Mrs. Parkington", "Mother Wore Tights", "Inner Sanctum", "Caged" as Elvira Powell, "The Fuller Brush Girl", "Take Me to Town", "Vertigo", "Auntie Mame", "Pillow Talk", etc.
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Lee romancing Oliver Hardy in "Jitterbugs" (1943).

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Lee played the role of Mrs. Biederhof (1945).

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Laraine Day, Lana Turner & Lee in "Keep You Powder Dry" (1945).

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Lee with Paul Kelly in "Strange Journey" (1946).

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Lee played the part of the song and dance gal Lil (1947).

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Lee & Dale Belding (1948).

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Lee appeared as vice queen Elvira Powell (1950).

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Lee as Rose, Larry Gates & Ann Sheridan in "Take Me to Town" (1953).

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Willard Waterman, Rosalind Russell & Lee in "Auntie Mame" (1958).

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Lee with Doris Day in "Pillow Talk" (1959).

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Lee, Jerry Lewis & Fred Clark in "Visit to a Small Planet" (1960).

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Lee as Mrs Ewell, Rita Moreno & Laurence Harvey in "Summer and Smoke" (1961).


TV got a heads up when she played society doyenne Henrietta Topper, the flighty, quivery-voiced wife of Leo G. Carroll on the popular ghostly sitcom "Topper" which ran from 1953 to 1955.
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Robert Sterling, Anne Jeffreys, Leo G. Caroll,
Lee & Neil on TVs "Topper" (1953-55).

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Lee & Paul Fix in an episode of TVs "The Rifleman" (1962).

After 11 years of retirement, she was coaxed back before the cameras to revive reprise her Effie Perine character in a reworking of the Sam Spade story titled "The Black Bird" in 1975. The film attempted to turn its revered predecessor into a comedy, and was a box office failure.
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Lee as Effie in "The Black Bird" (1975) her final role.

Her difficulties in establishing a career as a leading actress were often attributed to a long-standing feud Patrick had with gossip columnist Louella Parsons. Patrick's husband, Tom Wood, a journalist and author, once wrote a magazine article which was very critical of Parsons which did not go over well with the powerhouse columnist.

Long and happily married (45 years) to newsman-writer Tom Wood of "The Lighter Side of Billy Wilder," they had no children.
Lee was plagued by health problems in later years and died suddenly from a heart seizure on the day before her 81st birthday, at Laguna Beach, California, in 1982.

After her death it was discovered that she was ten years older than she had ever revealed. Shaving a decade off her age was a decision she made early in her career, and at the time of her death, many of her friends believed that she was in her early seventies.

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mongoII
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Postby mongoII » July 12th, 2008, 5:22 pm

In the Spotlight: VAN HEFLIN
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The unusual and dependable actor was born Emmet Van Heflin, Jr. in Walters, Oklahoma on December 13, 1910. Of French-Irish descent, his father Emmet senior was a dentist. The Heflins later moved to Oklahoma City, and when young Van was in the seventh grade, the family pulled up stakes and moved to Long Beach, California.
Van’s first sight of the Pacific ocean kindled a love of the sea and seafaring that lasted the rest of his life. He resolved to become a sailor, but first he enrolled in Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

Heflin eventually enrolled at the University of Oklahoma. By all accounts, he was a good student who seemed to have little interest in acting or theater. There are different versions as to how he became an actor. None seems completely credible.
Heflin cut his teeth on good, bad, and indifferent works.

In New York he tested and appeared in various plays which eventually folded, though he got good notices. Spurned, the "rejected" suitor went back to his first love, the sea. For a couple of years, he sailed on voyages that took him to the Far East, South America, and Alaska.

Caught up in the bright lights and glitter of Broadway, and another play, "End of Summer", was a hit, and brought him to the attention of one very impressed member of the audience, Katharine Hepburn. At her urging, RKO cast him in her film, "A Woman Rebels" (1936), which was a flop.

Blessed with a rich, deep speaking voice, he was also a natural for the airwaves. He became a radio soap opera regular three times a day. Eventually, he chalked up some 2,000 performances.

As luck would have it Playwright Philip Barry plucked him from the crowd and put him up for a part in a new work called "The Philadelphia Story" (1939). Barry knew Heflin and had him in mind for the role of the slightly cynical, left-wing reporter. The female lead was Katharine Hepburn and the play was a smash hit.

Always drawn to success, Hollywood took a renewed interest in Heflin. Warner Bros. took advantage of his vacation from Philadelphia Story to sign him to "Santa Fe Trail" (1940) with Errol Flynn.

After a screen test Heflin was offered an MGM contract. Ironically, Heflin’s first MGM pictures were mediocre vehicles.
His first movie for the studio was "The Feminine Touch" (1941), a piece of romantic fluff that teamed him with Rosalind Russell, Don Ameche and Kay Francis.
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Heflin & Kay Francis in "The Feminine Touch" (1941).

Better things were to come. "Johnny Eager" (1942) cast Heflin in the role of Jeff Hartnett, an erudite man whose misfortune it is to be the friend of a sadistic thug named Johnny, played against type by Robert Taylor.
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Heflin in his Oscar winning role with Patricia Dane & Robert Taylor in "Johnny Eager" (1942).

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Oscar winners Heflin (Johnny Eager), Greer Garson (Mrs.Miniver), James Cagney (Yankee Doodle Dandy) & Teresa Wright (Mrs. Miniver) 1943.

Heflin's performance was outstanding and his peers took notice and honored him with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1942.
He would also appear in "Seven Sweethearts", "Kid Glove Killer", "Tennessee Johnson" as President Andrew Johnson, and "Presenting Lily Mars" with Judy Garland.
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Heflin as President Andrew Johnson & Ruth Hussey in
"Tennessee Johnson" (1942).

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Heflin, Judy Garland & Richard Carlson in "Presenting Lily Mars" (1943).


Van married actress Frances Neal on May 16, 1942. It was his second marriage. (Some years earlier he was married for about six months to another woman.).
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Heflin with daughter Vana and wife Frances (c. 1942).

Van and Frances shared the fate of so many couples during World War II and had to endure a period of separation after he entered the U.S. Army. Eventually, he served as a combat cameraman in the Ninth Air Force in Europe.

At war’s end, Heflin resumed his career with the noir feature "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946). It’s a murky tale of murder, greed, and betrayal with Barbara Stanwyck.
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Heflin with Lizabeth Scott in "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946).

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Kirk Douglas, Heflin & Babara Stanwyck in "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers".

Followed by, "Till the Clouds Roll By", "Possessed" with Joan Crawford, "Green Dolphin Street", "B.F.s Daughter", "Tap Roots" with Susan Hayward, "The Three Musketeers" as Athos, "Act of Violence", "Madame Bovary" with Jennifer Jones, and "East Side, West Side".
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Robert Walker & Heflin in "Till the Clouds Roll By" (1946).

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Joan Crawford with Heflin as David Sutton in "Possessed" (1947).

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Heflin holding Lana Turner in "Green Dolphin Street" (1947).

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Lana Turner, Heflin & wife Frances taking a lunch break during the filming of "Green Dolphin Street" (1947).

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Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck & Margaret Lindsay in "B.F.s Daughter" (1948).

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Heflin with Susan Hayward in "Tap Roots" (1948).

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Heflin, Janet Leigh and Robert Ryan in "Act of Violence" (1948).

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Heflin with Jennifer Jones in "Madame Bovary" (1949).

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Barbara Stanwyck, Heflin & Cyd Charisse in "East Side, West Side" (1949).

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Heflin with the late Evelyn Keyes in "The Prowler" (1951).

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Heflin with Helen Hayes and Robert Walker in "My Son John" (1952).

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Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur and Heflin in "Shane" (1953).

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Heflin with Glenn Ford in "3:10 to Yuma" (1957).

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Heflin joins Clark Gable, Gary Cooper & James Stewart at Romanoff's (1957).

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Heflin as D.O. Guerrero with Helen Hayes in "Airport" (1970).

In 1950 Heflin amazed industry pundits by asking MGM for a release from his contract, which had two and a half years to run. The studio did not give him a full release but reduced his commitment to twelve weeks a year. This allowed him to do television and return to Broadway.

Films throughout the 1950s included, "The Prowler" with Evelyn Keyes, "My Son John", the outstanding western "Shane", "The Raid", "Woman's World", "Battle Cry", "Patterns", "3:10 to Yuma" with Glenn Ford, and "They Came to Cordura" with Gary Cooper.
By the 1960s, Heflin’s movies were uneven—some dreadful, some average, and a few outstanding.

Heflin also appeared in many prestige television dramas, garnering an Emmy Award nomination, although he turned down the role of Elliot Ness on "The Untouchables" TV series.
TV gave Van both good and bad experiences. His appearance on "This Is Your Life" was straight out of an introvert’s nightmare. An intensely private man, Van resented the public display and hated the way details of his life were paraded in soap opera fashion.

The movie "Airport" (1970) was Heflin’s last screen appearance and one of his finest performances. He’s "D. O. Guerro," a pathetic soul battered by the storms of life. A failure, he hopes to "redeem" himself by blowing himself up on an airliner so his wife can collect on a life insurance policy.

Van’s personal life came to a sad transition point. After 25 years of marriage, he divorced his wife Frances and moved into a bachelor’s apartment. The couple had three children; two daughters, Vana and Cathleen, and a son, Tracy.

Still the outdoorsman in old age, Van tried to keep in shape. He loved to go sailing and fishing in the ocean. Rain or shine, he swam 20 laps a day in his apartment complex’s pool.

On July 6, 1971, he was stricken with a heart attack while swimming. He somehow managed to get to the pool’s ladder, where he held on until found later in the day. Rushed to the hospital by paramedics, he lay unconscious for days, apparently never regaining consciousness.
Van Heflin died at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital on July 23, 1971. He was 60 years old.

A private man to the last, he had left instructions forbidding a public funeral. Instead, his cremated remains were scattered on the ocean. The sailor had returned to the sea.

Quoted: "Louis B. Mayer once looked at me and said, "You will never get the girl at the end". So I worked on my acting.
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VAN HEFLIN 1910 - 1971

Van Heflin has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures and Television.

Sources:
Eric Niderost - Classic Images
Wikipedia

Vecchiolarry
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Postby Vecchiolarry » July 13th, 2008, 4:56 pm

Hi Joe,

Thanks for featuring Lee Patrick, one of my favourites.
I remember seeing her in an old Errol Flynn movie, where she looked quite sexy and I think she was a showgirl. Her name may have been 'Ginger'??
Loved her as Henrietta Topper and Mrs. Upson (Oh, Mamie!!)....


Also, I heard that Van Heflin was hired at MGM to keep Spencer Tracy in line.
He came on the "Show Boat" set once to visit Ava Gardner - they were hired about the same time at MGM.
Also, he was a great favourite of Lana Turner. Although she and he only had a couple of scenes together in "The Three Muskateers", she kept kidding him and calling him "a great thththesthpian" and kissing him and ruining their scene where she's going to be beheaded - - "Oh, please Vannie, honey, don't take my head!! You wouldn't do that to your sweet little old Lanita??"... "Oh my sweetie Heffie, not my head!!"
He couldn't stop laughing and told the crew, "Let's just strangle her instead and get this over with!!"....
Lana loved it!
The next day, they had to do everything over of course and he cracked her up by telling her that she too was a great thththesthpian and she should change her name to 'Thethelia' - Thethelia the Thethpian .....
Lana told me she nearly had hysterics......

Larry

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mongoII
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Postby mongoII » July 14th, 2008, 11:39 am

Larry, thanks for the anecdotes about Van Heflin and Lana Turner (she was something else). Always enjoy your recollections.

By the way, Lee Patrick appeared in two films with Errol Flynn. In "The Sisters" she played Flora Gibbon, and in "Footsteps in the Dark" she was Blondie White.

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Postby mongoII » July 17th, 2008, 11:25 am

In the Spotlight: BARBARA HALE
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The charming and soft-spoken actress was born on April 18, 1922 in DeKalb, Illinois, the daughter of Willa and Luther Ezra Hale, who was a landscape gardener. She has Scottish-Irish ancestry.

Shortly after Barbara's birth, her parents moved to Rockford with her and her elder sister Juanita, who was born in 1913. Here, the actress grew up and started to take lessons in ballet and tap dancing at the age of twelve. Barbara also started to participate in local theater plays. Already, during her time in school, she discovered her talent and interest in painting. That's why Barbara decided to enroll in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts after her graduation from high school in Rockford.

Her life in Chicago was more difficult than expected and the competition at the Academy of Fine Arts was huge. Barbara's aim was to work for the advertising industry, but she realized fast that it was a tough business. Thereupon, she started to concentrate on working as a model. She collected first experiences while posing for a comic strip named "Ramblin' Bill."

Shortly after that, Barbara coincidentally met the head of the Chicago Model Bureau, who was so enthusiastic about his new discovery that he sent photos to RKO Studios. An audition was arranged and eventually Barbara signed a stock contract and went on to California.
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RKO starlet Barbara Hale.

After some small parts Hale's first big performance was in "Higher and Higher" (1944) opposite Frank Sinatra. After that, supporting roles followed, in "The Falcon out West" (1944) and "First Yank Into Tokyo" (1945).
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Hale with Frank Sinatra in "Higher and Higher" (1943).

Starting from these first successes in B-Movies, she began to steadily establish her reputation. New opportunities for Barbara showed up so that she could prove her talent as an actress. Besides appearing in Westerns like "West of the Pecos" (1945), "Lone Hand" with Joel McCrea (1951) and "Last of the Commanches" (1952), she also took miscellaneous roles in Dramas and Comedies.
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(1946)
Although she never became a major star, she was very good in films like 1946's "Lady Luck" opposite Robert Young and Frank Morgan as well as "The Boy with Green Hair", "Jolson Sings Again", 1949's "The Window" with Bobby Driscoll, beside James Stewart in "The Jackpot" an underrated comedy, and a unusual role as Zoe in "The Houston Story".
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(1948)

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Glamour shot of Hale (1940s).

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(1949)

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Hale with Robert Young in the comedy "And Baby Makes Three" (1949).

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Hale with James Stewart in the underrated comedy "The Jackpot" (1950).

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(1950)

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(1951)

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Hale with Robert Cummings in "The First Time" (1952) on TCM Monday afternoon.

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Hale with Rock Hudson in "Seminole" (1953).

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Hale with Joel McCrea in "Lone Hand" (1953).

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Sara Haden, Hale, Anne Francis, James Cagney & Lon Chaney Jr, in "A Lion Is in the Streets" (1953).

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Hale with Elroy 'Crazylegs' Hirsh in "Unchained" (1955).

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Hale with Fred MacMurray in "The Far Horizons" (1955).

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A blonde Hale with Gene Barry in "The Houston Story" (1956).

In 1970 she played the wife of a cheating Dean Martin in "Airport".

Hale played a significant role as the loyal and knowledgeable secretary in the "Perry Mason" series with Raymond Burr that ran from 1957 to 1966 and was reprised in a number of television movies afterwards.
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Hale as Della Street & Raymond Burr as TVs "Perry Mason" (1957-1966).

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Barbara Hale & Raymond Burr reunite in 1993 the year of his death.

The show was so successful that the actress's contribution was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was nominated for the Emmy Award twice, in 1959 and 1961, winning in 1959.

In 1946 she married actor Bill Williams, a union that produced two daughters and actor William Katt and four grandchildren.
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Hale and husband actor Bill Williams on their wedding day June 22, 1946.

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Hale & Bill with daughter Jody and baby son William (1951).

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Hale with her actor son William Katt.

The marriage lasted for forty-six years until his death in 1992 from brain cancer. Hale herself has survived several bouts of cancer.
She has also been a spokeswoman for Amana appliances. She is an adherent of the Bahá'í Faith.

At 86, the lovely Barbara Hale is retired and resides in Palm Desert, California.
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A lovely and chic Barbara Hale.

Miss Hale has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Postby Vecchiolarry » July 17th, 2008, 5:49 pm

Hello Joe,

It is great to see Barbara Hale celebrated here while she is still alive.
With two lovely ladies recently deceased, Cyd Charisse and Evelyn Keyes, we have so few left.

Miss Hale always added beauty and charm to all her pictures and TV appearances. I always thought she looked so good next to Raymond Burr, who was quite good looking as "Perry Mason"...
She was quite memorable in "Airport" in her small role, even with all those stars floating around. I always think of her in that wonderful mink coat, looking very chic!!

Other beauties who are still with us: Rhonda Fleming, Arlene Dahl and Elaine Stewart.
I hope they're on your list for future spotlighting...

Larry

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Postby Lzcutter » July 17th, 2008, 7:45 pm

Hey Joe!

I live in the same neighborhood that Barbara Hale and her hubby raised their family.

It's a wonderful post-War neighborhood with no sidewalks and lots of old shade trees lining the streets.

I suspect she and her family lived a few streets down in a very chic enclave (where Dick Van Patten is said to live) but historians seem to indicate that she lived in a smaller home very much like the one Mr. Cutter and I reside in.

She and Bill moved into the neighborhood shortly after it was built.

Forty plus years later, it's still a great neighborhood!

BTW, hello Larry!!! I miss you around these parts and hope you are well.

Come visit us in Southern California one of these days!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Postby moira finnie » July 18th, 2008, 8:27 am

Hi Joe,
One more thing occurred to me while reading your Van Heflin spotlight. One forgotten film that you mentioned, (based on a Rod Serling teleplay) in which Mr. Heflin shone, was Patterns (1956).
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Not only is Heflin's conflicted business exec brilliantly played, but the theme of the story has resounding echoes today and Everett Sloane and Ed Begley, Sr. are terrific in this movie too. The rationale of head man Ed Begley, who claims that laying off workers in a distant plant will increase efficiency, and ultimately lead to the creation of more jobs for all sounds awfully familiar, yet there are no simple villains and good guys here. It is quite nuanced, and none more so than in Heflin's excellent work as the man facing some very tough choices for himself and his family.

I also noticed when looking at Heflin's Broadway credits how interesting they were, beginning in his first appearance on the NY stage in Mr. Moneypenny, (1928) a play directed by the unsung Richard Boleslavsky with Margaret Wycherley, among others. Btw, this play was produced when he still went by Evan Heflin. Later plays in NYC, which also might have been interesting to see, included Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge, in the leading part. An interesting role as the conflicted dockworker, it might have caught some of his angst and sensitivity.

Ah, where did I put the keys to that time machine?...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kudos on Barbara Hale as a Spotlight featured player! I have renewed appreciation for the ultimate "Della Street" today, in part because of your delightful feature, (and those glorious glamour shots!), but also because I've just watched First Yank into Tokyo (1945).

This movie, which was recently broadcast on TCM as part of the Asian Images in Film series, is one of the loopiest exploitation movies ever. The only vaguely realistic note in the film that is injected into the now oddly amusing idea of a Japanese POW camp as some sort of rough country club is Barbara Hale. Ms. Hale, playing a slightly disheveled yet still lovely, impossibly robust-looking American nurse in the camp, spends much of the movie proving that the dedication to duty and a commitment to her fellow prisoners are still possible when everyone in the camp is trying to make a move on her or, like poor sap Tom Neal, who is stuck on her without hope. Neal appears to be one of those Japanese soldiers mooning after her from afar--yet due to his recent plastic surgery he is apparently unrecognizable as her former All-American sweetheart gone undercover--believe me, this movie has to be seen to be believed. (It is on TCM Free on Demand on Time Warner Digital Cable right now, though who knows when it will disappear again.)

Ms. Hale may have developed the wry sense of humor so evident in all those Perry Masons from working in productions like this one. She seems to be a great beauty to this day, and certainly must've been a good sport! Thanks again, Mongo.
Last edited by moira finnie on July 18th, 2008, 9:16 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby jdb1 » July 18th, 2008, 8:38 am

Mongo, thanks for these very interesting and enlightening posts on Van Heflin and Barbara Hale.

I know Heflin was a fine actor, but I simply can't take him seriously, because to me his head looks like an unhatched chicken. It's probably an impression I had from childhood, seeing his movies on TV, and I've never been able to shake it. I can't understand why any woman in his movies could pine for him or find him attractive, and it spoils the whole thing for me.

On the other hand . . . . . . IMO, Barbara Hale produced one of the handsomest men I've ever seen -- William Katt. That's another youthful perception, and one I don't want to shake. (I get all googly-eyed just thinking about him.)

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » July 18th, 2008, 8:53 am

William Katt
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A chicken
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Postby Vecchiolarry » July 18th, 2008, 9:03 am

Hi Lynn & Judith,

Lynn:
Thanks for the encouraging 'hello'....
I will be in San Francisco from October 22nd to 26th at a conference for seniors & veterans. I am giving a speech there.
I may come down to LA, as there is a memorial service for my step greatgrandmother, who died on October 30, 1958, at St. Vincent de Paul. I'm seduled to speak there too...
But, don't hold your breath!! My family there and several organizers are giving me "orders" and being difficult and if you really knew me, you'd know I don't 'take difficult' well; in fact I 'do & give difficult' much better!!! So, I may bow out of that....

Judith:
About William Katt - just look at the wedding picture of Bill and Barbara and you just know they're going to produce beautiful babies.
Two more gorgeous people would be hard to find!
I am reminded about an old photo of Madeleine Carroll & Sterling Hayden on the beach. One didn't know which was more beautiful...

Larry


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