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Scott O'Brien Q & A on Ruth Chatterton

Past chats with our guests.

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Hibi
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Hibi » June 25th, 2013, 12:48 pm

Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading the book. I wish TCM could swing the rights to some of Ruth's Paramount films for viewing. I've seen most of her WB output. I hope the book does well! Are you already thinking on a new biography or starting one?

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oscotto
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby oscotto » June 25th, 2013, 3:24 pm

Hibi – I appreciate the good wishes. While writing about Ruth, I was contacted by an Irish filmmaker (Brian Reddin) who was filming a documentary on George Brent. Reddin flew to California to interview me (in Northern California) and Brent’s daughter Suzanne (San Diego). I took a sabbatical from Ruth and dove into Brent’s life/career 1904-1932. Reddin encouraged me to write a full-fledged biography. I figured I had one-fourth a book written, so, why not? Brent was in my all-time favorite film The Rains Came, which (in my opinion) carries his best performance. I’m enjoying my Brent adventure. Besides Ruth, he worked with Kay Francis, Virginia Bruce and Ann Harding. I suppose my tackling the life of this lad from Ballinasloe, Ireland, was meant to be. :wink:

Hibi
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Hibi » June 25th, 2013, 3:49 pm

Wonderful! He fits right in.

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Sue Sue Applegate
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » June 25th, 2013, 7:46 pm

I think this is fabulous news about your new Brent adventure. Congratulations, Scott!
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Rita Hayworth » June 25th, 2013, 9:23 pm

Hibi wrote:Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading the book. I wish TCM could swing the rights to some of Ruth's Paramount films for viewing. I've seen most of her WB output. I hope the book does well! Are you already thinking on a new biography or starting one?


Good Idea Hibi ...

And, welcome to our humble forum too. :)

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Rita Hayworth » June 25th, 2013, 9:24 pm

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:I think this is fabulous news about your new Brent adventure. Congratulations, Scott!


I will second that ... this is great Scott!

Hibi
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Hibi » June 26th, 2013, 8:58 am

Thank you, Rita!


Rita Hayworth wrote:
Hibi wrote:Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading the book. I wish TCM could swing the rights to some of Ruth's Paramount films for viewing. I've seen most of her WB output. I hope the book does well! Are you already thinking on a new biography or starting one?


Good Idea Hibi ...

And, welcome to our humble forum too. :)

Hibi
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Hibi » June 26th, 2013, 9:02 am

Scott, when doing your research are you able to view all the films your subject made? (at least those that "exist")? And how do you do that? I've often wondered how authors go about doing that. Particularly companies like Universal that don't seem to care about their 20s and 30s Paramount films for instance....

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oscotto
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby oscotto » June 26th, 2013, 12:00 pm

Hibi
Fortunately private collectors have rescued some of the Paramount product. You can find copies on-line (ebay/ioffer) and other private collections. I was able to locate copies of all the Chatterton films except: Sins of the Fathers (considered lost), The Doctor’s Secret, The Dummy, The Right to Love; and her final British release,The Royal Divorce.

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Sue Sue Applegate
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » June 27th, 2013, 11:24 am

Scott, I am so glad that private collectors have been able to save some of these classics, even though not all. Dodsworth and Female have been the two films of Chatterton's that have inspired and influenced me the most.

If you could choose a role that Ruth didn't play onscreen, what would it have been? I am curious about your opinion on what "might have been" for Ruth's body of work. Also, has there been one researcher, database, or professional librarian that has been most helpful to you in your research, not only just for Ruth Chatterton's story, but in general? Thank you!
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oscotto
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby oscotto » June 27th, 2013, 12:32 pm

Good question Christy – Bette Davis and George Brent both pushed for Jack Warner to consider Ruth for Mrs. Skeffington. I think she would have been a knockout in that role. She was also a top contender for The Glass Menagerie, which went to Gertrude Lawrence. The way Christopher Plummer raved about Chatterton’s Regina in The Little Foxes makes me wish she had done a remake. She played it on stage from 1947-1958. It was her favorite role during that time.

As far as database research, the Library of Congress Media History Digital Library is truly a godsend. And, it’s free! Trade publications, film journals, movie magazines, newspapers—and an easy-to-use search engine. Some criticize the use of movie magazines. However, there were many reputable free-lance writers and authors who did some great interviews with the stars. I used about 18 interviews (1929-1934) that Ruth offered to these men and women and she was quite candid in what she had to say. The approximately 60 other Chatterton interviews I used were from newspapers and other publications. A friend of Moira’s (thank you!) perused the manuscript of an unpublished Chatterton biography held at the NY Public Library for me earlier this year. Prolific Hollywood author James Robert Parish has been a great resource for information and connections. Stargazer/Intelius has been a helpful online venue to get the current addresses of celebrities/family/friends of the stars I have researched. Ancestry.com is well worth the monthly fee to acquire census/immigration/newspaper data.

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mongoII
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby mongoII » June 27th, 2013, 4:46 pm

Hello Scott, and welcome to the Silver Screen Oasis! I'm a bit late getting here and I see that most of the questions I had in mind are already taken, which I enjoyed reading about.
I've enjoyed many of the delectable Ms. Chattertons films especially "Dodsworth", "Lilly Turner", and "Frisco Jenny". She was my cup of tea.
In any event, did she have a sense of humor? What co-stars ,if any, did she not get along with? What broke up her marriage with rascal George Brent? What did Walter Huston think of her? Was she well off when she past away?
I thank you for any answers you could give me.
Joe aka Mongo
Last edited by mongoII on June 27th, 2013, 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Joseph Goodheart

feaito

Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby feaito » June 27th, 2013, 4:48 pm

Hi Scott,

I already ordered your Chatterton Bio through The Book Depository (you know I have loved every single Bio you have written and that I own all of them :wink: ), so I am waiting eagerly for it. I wonder if you could give us any insights on the relationship that developed -if any- bewteen Ruth and Bette Davis when they made together "The Rich are Aways with Us" (1932). I remember that many years ago I read Higham's Bio on Bette and that he did not mention Ruth in a favorable light.

It's great that you are here with us.

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oscotto
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby oscotto » June 27th, 2013, 6:25 pm

Joe – Glad you’re aboard! When I talked with Ruth’s cousin Brenda she told me that Ruth could be really funny. One of the reasons Ruth liked Ralph Forbes was that he could easily make her laugh at herself. She was at his bedside when he passed away in 1951. William Wellman and Ronald Colman enjoyed being around Ruth as much as their male friends, because she could enjoy a bawdy joke. At home, she christened her barroom “The Glory Hole.”

Ruth had a run-in with Paul Lukas on the set of Tomorrow and Tomorrow. She wasn’t speaking to his wife. Besides, Lukas had a problem with memorizing lines in English—Ruth really didn’t want to work with him again. In one difficult shoot she was to slap his face. It was reported that she gave him such a wallop that his ears began to ring. He lost control, grabbed Ruth, and shook her furiously. Witnesses said their mutual apologies were “very superficial.” They wouldn’t work together again until Dodsworth.

Ruth’s break-up with George took place while he was on suspension. He was sullen, moody and uncommunicative. I think Brent grew to resent her just like he did his first, third and fourth wives (Ann Sheridan). Like Garbo, he liked his own space—that’s why they got along.

I go into some behind-the-scenes detail on Dodsworth. Unfortunately, I came across no comment from Huston concerning Ruth. I think he was more charmed and preoccupied by Mary Astor. Astor recalled that she was sexually out of control at the time. She took breaks from filming to attend a custody trial for her daughter. Astor mentioned, at one point, that she was more preoccupied with “Walter Huston and some champagne … waiting for me in my bungalow”

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Sue Sue Applegate
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Re: Welcome To Scott O'Brien!

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » June 27th, 2013, 6:59 pm

Scott, thank you so much for your treasure trove of information about research and about Ruth Chatterton. I loved your last response to Mongo's question! We are so happy you visit us. :lol:
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