Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joan Crawford

"I never go out unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door" ~ Joan

Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1904, in San Antonio, Texas. Her family was poor and her parents separated before she was born. As a young girl Joan worked as a maid to pay for her school tuition. When she was nineteen she won an amateur dance contest and decided to go to Hollywood. There are rumors that during this time she posed nude and appeared in pornographic films. She was briefly married to a saxophone player named James Welton. In 1925 she was offered a contract with MGM and was given bit parts in movies like Pretty Lady and The Circle. Her big break came in 1928 when she landed the lead role in the comedy Our Dancing Daughters. The following year she married actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. She became one of the most successful actresses of the 1930s with starring roles in The Women, Grand Hotel, and Rain. Joan loved her fans and personally responded to much of her fan mail. She worked with Clark Gable in eight movies including Laughing Sinners and Dancing Lady. The two stars had an off-screen romance that lasted for decades. Joan was also a bisexual and enjoyed numerous affair with women. After divorcing Douglas she married actor Franchot Tone. She wanted to have a baby but suffered several miscarriages.

In 1939 she divorced Franchot and adopted a daughter named Christina. Joan would later adopt a son, Christopher, and twin daughters, Cynthia and Cathy. She married Phillip Terry, an actor, in 1942 but the marriage ended four years later. After making a series of flops MGM dropped her contract. She made a comeback with the 1945 drama Mildred Pierce and won an Academy Award for her performance. Two years later she was nominated for another Oscar for her role in Possessed. Joan married Pepsi-Cola executive Alfred Steel in 1956. After his death she served on the board of directors of Pepsi-Cola. In 1963 she teamed up with her longtime rival Bette Davis to make the horror film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Now in her fifties Joan had a serious drinking problem and was having trouble finding work. She appeared in low budget movies like Berserk and Trog. Joan died on May 10, 1977, from pancreatic cancer. She was cremated and her ashes were interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. In her will she left a small sum of money to Cathy and Cynthia but gave nothing to Christopher and Christina. A few years later Christina wrote a book, Mommie Dearest, that portrayed Joan as an abusive mother. Cathy and Cynthia have always disputed Christina's claims.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2013

With Constance Bennett

A signed letter (from my collection)

Joan's bookplate (from my collection)

Sheryl Crow's Personally Owned Jeans

In 2014 Grammy winning singer Sheryl Crow decided to sell some of her clothes for charity. All of the money she made went to Feeding America. I purchased a pair of Sheryl's denim jeans.

“It is so important for everyone across the country to dare to be conscious and aware of the struggles of those around them—even if those struggles are not the same as their own. Feeding America does just that, and it’s a great privilege for me to unite with them
in their cause.” - Sheryl Crow

This is my favorite Sheryl Crow song ...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Marvel Rea

Marvel Rea was born Marvel Luciel Rea on November 9, 1901, in Ainsworth, Nebraska. When she was a child her family lived in Seattle and eventually moved in California. She grew into a beautiful teenager with a petite figure and champagne blonde hair. Marvel was very athletic and loved to swim and surf. In 1918 she married a banker named Henry Page Wells. Unfortunately he was a drug addict and she divorced him less than a year later. Movie producer Mack Sennett hired Marvel to model as one of his bathing beauties. She became known as "the girl with the most beautiful figure on the Motion Picture stage". Before long she was given small roles in movies like Her Screen Idol and The Summer Girls.

Although she would appear in more than thirty films Marvel never became a major star. She decided to stop acting in 1921. Her final role was in the short film For Land's Sake. Marvel married her second husband Edwin J. Wilkinson in 1936 but her happiness was short-lived. On September 2, 1936 she was kidnapped and assaulted by three men. She was choked, cut, and left semi-conscious in the street. The men were caught and Marvel had to testify at the headline-making trial. Sadly she never fully recovered from the attack. She committed suicide on June 17, 1937 by ingesting ant poison. Marvel was only thirty-five years old. She is buried at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

Marvel, Ford Sterling, and Alice Maison

Marvel is sitting on the right

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mitzi Mayfair

"The Broadway business is sort of wacky It wouldn't mix with a nice happy marriage." ~ Mitzi

Mitzi Mayfair was born Juanita Emylyn Pique on June 6, 1914, in Fulton, Kentucky. Her grandfather was a minister and she attended church every Sunday. Mitzi started dancing when she was a child. Although she never took a lesson a local theatrical producer cast her in a kiddie review. Vaudevillian Gus Edwards saw Mitzi in the show and asked her to go on tour. At the age of fifteen she danced in the short film Manhattan Serenade. Mitzi made a few more Vitaphone shorts but she preferred to be on the stage. By 1936 she was one of the highest paid vaudeville performers in the country. Her specialty was kicking her leg up to touch the back of her head. Mitzi also appeared in several Broadway shows including The Ziegfeld Follies and Take A Chance with Ethel Merman. On March 12, 1938 she married Albert Hoffmann, vice-president of the Hoffman beverage company.

Mitzi, Carole Landis, and Martha Raye

The couple had a tumultuous marriage and they separated a few years later. During World War 2 she joined Carole Landis, Kay Francis, and Martha Raye on a four month USO tour to entertain the troops. When their experiences were made into the movie Four Jills In A Jeep Mitzi played herself. Although she wasn't a trained actress her performance received good reviews. Dancer Irene Castle wanted Mitzi to play her in a film but the studio gave the part to Ginger Rogers instead. In 1943 Mitzi filed for bankruptcy claiming that she only had $200 in assets. The following year she married Charles Henderson, a music executive from 20th Century Fox. Soon after she retired from Hollywood to become a full-time housewife. She spent her time cooking and playing chess. Eventually she and Charles moved to Tucson, Arizona. Mitzi passed away in May 1976 at the age of sixty-one. She is buried at East Lawn Palms Cemetery in Tucson.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

 Carole Landis, Mitzi, Kay Francis, and Martha Raye

With Dick Haymes

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Barbara Bates

“Every Hollywood newcomer goes through a sex school. They have regular exercises to bring out your…uh…fire.” ~ Barbara

Barbara Bates was born on August 6, 1925 in Denver, Colorado. She was a shy child who loved to dance. When she was nineteen Barbara entered a local beauty contest and won a trip to Hollywood. While there she met publicist Cecil Coan who helped her get a contract at Universal studios. She made her film debut in the drama Salome. Barbara fell in love with Cecil who was twenty-six years older than her. He left his wife and they were secretly married in 1945. She continued to get small roles in films liked June Bride and Quicksand. Barbara also became a popular cheesecake model and appeared on the cover of Life magazine. While making the comedy The Inspector General in 1949 she had an affair with Danny Kaye. In 1950 she had a small but memorable role in All About Eve. Although the press predicted Barbara would became a big star her career quickly stalled. Charlie Chaplin offered her a part in Limelight but the studio made her turn it down.

Then she was fired from the television series It's A Great Life after appearing in only a few episodes. Barbara began suffering from mood swings and depression. She had a nervous breakdown in 1957. Barbara tried to keep working and made a few commercials. Her last acting role was in a 1962 episode of The Saint. She was devastated when her husband Cecil was diagnosed with cancer. Barbara took care of him until his death in 1967. She moved back to Colorado and got a job as a dental assistant. In December 1968 she married her childhood friend William Reed. Just three months later on March 18, 1969 Barbara committed suicide. She had locked herself in a garage and died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Barbara was only forty-three years old. There are rumors that she was pregnant when she passed away. She was buried at Crown Hill cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

Barbara and Danny Kaye

An autographed photo (from my personal collection)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Stars Who Committed Suicide

These nine classic actresses were rich and famous but they never found real happiness. Tragically they all committed suicide.

In 1948 pin-up girl Carole Landis took an overdose of secanol at the age of 29. She was 
 heartbroken over a failed romance with actor Rex Harrison.

In 1951 Mack Sennett bathing beauty Marion Aye died after swallowing poison at the age of 48.
She had been suffering from depression for many years.

In 1969 lovely starlet Barbara Bates killed herself with carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of
43. She was mourning the death of her husband the previous year.

In 1960 silent star Phyllis Haver died after taking an overdose of pills at the age of 61. She had 
attempted suicide several times before.

In 1937 bathing beauty Marvel Rea took her life by ingesting an poison at the age of 35. She 
had never recovered from a brutal attack years earlier.

In 1944 Latin bombshell Lupe Velez died by taking overdose of sleeping pills at the age of 36. 
Rumors that she was found dead in the toilet are not true.

  In 1954 British actress Joan Dowling killed herself with carbon monoxide poisoning at the age
of 26. She was devastated after finding out her husband had an affair.

In 1942 singing star Jeanette Loff ended her life by swallowing ammonia at the age of 35. Her 
family does not believe she committed suicide.

 In 1955 character actress Ona Munson took an overdose of barbiturates at age of 51. She had 
been suffering from numerous health problems.