Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Easter

Celebrate Easter with our classic beauties

 Jeanette Loff

Lana Turner

 Shirley Temple

 Ann Miller

 Susan Hayward

Barbara Bates

 Sharon Tate

 Norma Shearer

Mary Carlisle

 Alice White

 Myrna Loy

Debra Paget

Margaret O'Brien

 Lilian Harvey

 Doris Day

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Betty Compson

"They say I love money. I do, though it was pretty cold comfort, a pretty poor substitute, for all I'd lost." ~ Betty

Betty Compson was born Eleanor Luicime Compson on March 19, 1897, in Beaver, Utah. After her father's death she dropped out of school to help her family. She began her show business career as a violinist and toured with her mother in vaudeville. Betty was offered a contract with Al Christie in 1915. Over the next five years she appeared in more than forty short films. Her career really took off when she costarred with Lon Chaney in the 1919 drama The Miracle Man. She was called "The Prettiest Girl in Pictures"and became one of highest paid actresses in Hollywood. Betty was also one of the first women to run her own production company. In 1921 she starred in and produced the movie Prisoners Of Love. She married actor James Cruz in 1925 but they had a rocky relationship and separated several times. Unlike some other silent stars Betty was able to make the transition to talkies. 

She was nominated for an Academy award in 1928 for her performance in The Barker. Betty finally ended her marriage to James in 1930 and was left nearly bankrupt by their divorce. She was forced to sell her home and many of her possessions. Betty continued to make several movies a year and even started her own cosmetics line. She auditioned for the role of Belle in Gone With The Wind but did not get the part. Her second marriage, to producer Irving Weinberg, lasted just four years. At their divorce trial she testified that he left her home alone while he went out with other women. In 1944 she married professional boxer Silvius John Gall and decided to retire from Hollywood. Her final film was the comedy Here Comes Trouble. Betty and her husband went into business together and were happily married until his death in 1962. Betty died from a heart attack on April 18, 1974. She is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

Betty's autograph (from my collection)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dorothy Dandridge

"If I were white, I could capture the world" ~ Dorothy

Dorothy Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents separated before she was born and Dorothy was raised by her mother Ruby, an aspiring entertainer. Ruby encouraged Dorothy and her sister Vivian to go into show business. They created a song and dance act and performed at the Apollo Theatre and the Cotton Club. Dorothy made her film debut in the 1935 comedy Teacher's Beau. She got small parts in dozens of films including Four Shall Die and Sundown. In 1942 Dorothy married dancer Harold Nicholas. They had one daughter, Harolyn Susanne, who was born brain damaged. By the early 1950s Dorothy's marriage was over and she was touring the country with her nightclub act. Her acting career finally took off when she was cast in the drama Carmen Jones. The movie was a hit and she was nominated for an Academy Award. Dorothy began an affair with married director Otto Preminger. 

After four tumultuous years she ended the relationship when he refused to leave his wife. In 1959 she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the musical Porgy and Bess. Dorothy was now a star and she appeared on the cover of Life magazine and People Today. Unfortunately there weren't many leading roles for black actresses and her movie career stalled. She married businessman Jack Denison and went back to singing in nightclubs. Dorothy divorced Jack in 1962 after discovering he had spent all of her money. Then Dorothy suffered a complete nervous breakdown. When she recovered she started planning her comeback. On September 8, 1965 Dorothy was found dead in her apartment. She was only forty-two years old. Although it was initially reported that she died of a drug overdose the coroner later concluded that she had died from a rare embolism. Dorothy was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

Dorothy's autograph (from my collection)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bette Davis

"I will not retire while I've still got my legs and my make-up box." - Bette

Bette Davis was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Her parents divorced and Bette's mother encouraged her to become an actress. She studied acting and appeared in numerous Broadway shows. In 1931 she made her film debut in the drama The Bad Sister. The following year she married musician Harmon Nelson. During their marriage she had two abortions because she thought a baby would hurt her career. Bette was offered a contract with Warner Brothers and in 1935 she won an Academy Award for her performance in Dangerous. She won her second Oscar for the 1938 film Jezebel. With hit movies like Now, Voyager, The Great Lie, and Mr. Skeffington Bette became one of the most successful actresses in HollywoodIn 1941 she became the first female president of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After divorcing Harmon she was romanced by Howard Hughes and began an affair with director William Wyler. Bette said he was the great love of her life but he refused to leave his wife. She married innkeeper Arthur Farnsworth in 1942. Tragically just three years later he died after an accidental fall.

During World War 2 she sold war bonds and volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen. Bette married artist William Grant Sherry in 1945 and had a daughter, Barbara. While making the drama All About Eve she fell in love with her costar, Gary Merrill. She divorced her husband and married Gary in 1950. The couple adopted two children, Margo and Michael. Sadly Margo was mentally retarded and had to be institutionalized. Gary and Bette had a tumultuous marriage and they divorced after ten years together. In 1963 Bette worked with her longtime rival Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and received her eleventh Oscar nomination. In the early 1980s Bette was diagnosed with breast cancer and suffered a stroke. Despite her illnesses she continued to work in movies and on television. She also wrote several autobiographies and became a popular talk show guest. Bette was devastated when her daughter Barbara wrote an unflattering tell-all book and she never spoke to her again. She died on October 6, 1989, from complications of breast cancer. Bette is buried with her mother and sister at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California. The epitaph on her grave says "She did it the hard way".

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2013

A handwritten letter (from my collection)

Bette's book (from my collection)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Toby Wing

"Because I'm a vivid blonde and people think of me as a chorus girl they won't believe I'm any more than just that." ~ Toby

Toby Wing was born Martha Virginia Wing on July 14, 1915, in Amelia Courthouse, Virginia. Her father worked as an assistant director and helped Toby get her first acting job at the age of nine. When she was a teenager she was hired as one of the Goldywn Girls along with Betty Grable and Paulette Goddard. Toby started to get supporting roles in films like School For Girls and Murder At The Vanities. In 1934 she announced her engagement to actor Jackie Coogan but they broke up soon after. With her platinum blonde hair and voluptuous figure Toby became a popular sex symbol. Her high-profile romances with Maurice Chevalier, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr, and singer Pinky Tomlin kept her in name in the gossip columns.

Although she played leading roles in The Marines Came Through and With Love And Kisses Toby never became a big star. In 1938 she married aviator Dick Merrill. Toby toured with several stage productions but eventually she quit acting. Her first son Henry died from crib death in 1940. That same year her second son Ricky was born. Toby and Dick eventually settled in Virginia and she began a new career as a real estate agent. Tragically in 1982 their son Ricky was murdered in their home. Just one month later Dick died from a heart attack. Toby remained in Virginia with her two granddaughters. She passed away on March 22, 2001 at the age of eighty-five. Toby is buried with her husband and sons in Christ Church Kingston Parish Cemetery in Mathews, Virginia.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

A program signed by Toby, Lupe Velez, and Clifton Webb (from my collection)