Epically Failing Upwards

Promises, promises, right? Well, it’s been nearly three years (yikes) since the last hopeful post. I had the best intentions, but things are actually happening now. So, you’ll see lots and lots of changes and hopefully a lot more content compared to the original. We’ll see! We live in hope, right?

Check out Judy Garland and Alice Faye’s pages if you happen to be stopping by in this time of transition. Next up is Irene Dunne and Jeanette MacDonald.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday and New Year! Here’s hoping I can get most of these pages (aside from the individual film pages) up prior to Christmas. We’ll see.

New Look—New ReelJewels

Well, I promised long ago that I would fix things. I’ve honestly not had time or the energy to do so, but I’m making ReelJewels my top priority this year and I’ve  already done quite a lot. The design isn’t here yet, but the format is. There’s already new content in the form of articles and all the articles that were originally posted before but not linked are available.

Here’s to 2014—wishing you the best of health, lots of new favorite classic movies, and hope you enjoy the new content waiting to be found here.

I’ll start you off here: http://reeljewels.com/articles—or conveniently, I’ve tucked the articles feed right under this post.

Marriage Is a Laughing Matter

by Ruth Waterbury
Photoplay
August 1938

The Gene Raymonds have successfully hurdled that first year of matrimony—that supposedly awful, awful first year. This is how they did it!

It was suddenly quiet in the Raymond-MacDonald living room as we all stopped to catch our breaths from laughing. That was what gave me the hunch.

“You two have been married almost a year now, haven’t you?” I asked.

“Lacking exactly twenty-seven days, four hours and nine minutes.” said Gene.

“And you are still laughing all the time?” They obliged by laughing again and nodded their heads in assent.

“What about laughter as n basis for a perfect marriage?” I persisted.

“Would you be making a noise like an interviewer?” Gene demanded.

“Well, why not? I might as well admit that I was pretty suspicious of all that sweetness and light published about you two a little over a year ago just before you were married. You sounded simply too happy to be true; but, after all, no people in your position stay married unless they really have a good time of it.

“So far you have solved the problem that has broken up almost every Hollywood romance— two stars, two careers, all that handicap stuff, and getting through the first year, that supposedly awful first year of marriage, and you both still looking so beamingly content and …”

Miss MacDonald spoke from behind those lovely teeth of hers in the sinister voice of the villainess in the old melodramas.

“And me laughing all the time,” she muttered darkly. “And at what things?” She swung an enormous orb in the direction of her lord and master.

Mr. Raymond set his teeth. “You laughing?” he hissed, sounding just like Basil Rathbone on a clear day.

“What about me, my fair beauty? Would you like me to tell about the time we went searching for sunshine, searching it in Arizona, the state which you selected to find it in? Shall I tell that to let our friend here know how we laughed and laughed that time?”

The loveliest voice on the screen suddenly honied over like the voices of all the obedient wives in the world.

“Yes, dear,” purred Mrs. Raymond.

“And you won’t interrupt?”

“Yes, dear,” she purred again.

“You mean you will interrupt?”

“Oh, yes, dear.”

Gene turned his back on her with what was intended to represent sternness. “Ignore her,” he said to me. “That search for Arizona sunshine happened this way . . . and it will give you a fair idea of what I have suffered for this marriage. “My wife, that redheaded woman over there, desired sunshine. We have it in Los Angeles, you know In fact, the place is famous for it.

But that brand wasn’t good enough for her. She had to go away and get sun. I suggested a place called Palm Springs. Thousands from all parts of the country migrate there seasonally just for the sun. But no. That sunshine wouldn’t do for her, either. We had, by chance, been in Palm Springs once before when it rained down there. It does rain there, very, very occasionally. But she had to act as though it always poured in Palm Springs. And she had heard somewhere that the sun absolutely positively always shone in Arizona.”

Gene turned back toward Mrs. Gene.

“You had heard that, hadn’t you. darling?”

“Yes, dear,” answered Miss MacDonald.

“And you really planned the whole trip?”

“Yes, dear.”

“And I consented to go because . . .

“Yes, dear.”

“Hey. what is this?” demanded Gene.

“A sound track,” announced Jeanette’s voice in deep tones.

She was stretched out on the couch by now and her eyes were closed so that you couldn’t be positive but what she might be talking in her sleep.

“Ignore her,” said Gene, turning back to me. “This is the way it happened. We packed up and left Los Angeles on a beautiful balmy afternoon but as we were coming into Flagstaff I heard a low gasp from my bride. It seems it was morning. Of course I wouldn’t know that for you know where I was, don’t you? Yes—in the upper. My bride, being down in the lower where the windows are, had pulled up the shade and was looking out. ‘Oh. Gene,’ she was asking. ‘What do you think I see?’

“Well, what do you see?” I asked. ‘From my vantage point I can’t see a thing. I’ll bet you’re seeing beautiful sunshine.’

“No,” she said, “I’m seeing snow.”

“Now that made everything dandy because, since Los Angeles is in the semi-tropics and Palm Springs the desert and we were supposed to be coming into even brighter and warmer sun than either of them offered (at least according to what my bride said), I had packed neither overcoat nor woolens.

“But there we were, and since my wife had planned for us to go to some nearby ranch, and since that was as far as our train went anyhow we got out.

“And it was indeed snowing and the temperature was somewhere within friendly distance of about nine below zero. There was the man to drive us to the ranch, too, hut. after a little chat with him, my wife found out that the real place for sunshine wasn’t Flagstaff, anyhow, but Prescott, a mere drop of 3,500 feet in altitude from where we were.

“Did you ever drop 3,500 feet in altitude in a matter of just a few hours? And did you ever make the drop in a rickety old car, with the driver taking his hands off the wheel every little while to point out the scenery? No? Well, I assure you it is a thrill, but a honey you could get along without very nicely.

“I must say for my bride, though, that she never said a word. Of course, perhaps she was merely trying to keep her teeth from chattering.

“We just rode along mile after mile and both of us tried to appear absolutely fascinated by the scenery. All I could think of was that I hoped we could get to Prescott alive and find a nice, hot meal somewhere.

“Finally, however, we did get to Prescott and I trust I never hit a place that is damper and chillier than it was there that noon. But by this time Mrs. Raymond had learned, somehow or other, that the place for sunshine wasn’t Prescott, after all. The place was Phoenix. So we kept our teeth clenched and said we must laugh, we must laugh, over and over to ourselves and discovered that we could get a bus to Phoenix. It was leaving almost immediately but we had time for a bite, they said, at the restaurant across the square.

“We rushed over there, with visions in mind of sizzling chicken, great piles of vegetables, steaming coffee and discovered that today’s dish was cold roast beef. They did have the coffee, though. So we climbed up on twin stools and ate that roast beef washed down with weak coffee. Then we made a run for the bus.

“Another joy I’ll bet you’ve never had, you lucky girl, is to go down a mountain road in a bus. Do they rock you! We sat back in our seats with that cold roast beef sliding from side to side and made up our minds we wouldn’t be sick and pretended that we were going to sleep. But the man in back of us had asthma, so that was that.

“Eventually, after what seemed a month, we did get to Phoenix. I had only one idea. To get into the hotel and go to bed.

“Upon arrival in our rooms, however, my bride decided that the bed wasn’t wide enough for her. I never looked at my bed, but no. she had to have a double bed. So finally we got that put up in the other room and I crawled into my single cot and off to slumber I went.

“But not for long. I had been asleep for what seemed two weeks to me when I became conscious of a flashlight being flashed right over my eyes, I sat up, expecting to see at least a burglar. but you know who it was, don’t you?”

“Me, the heavy,” supplied Jeanette.

“Ignore her,’ ordered Gene. “But that is who it was.

“‘What on earth?’ I demanded of her.

‘I can’t sleep,’ she said.

“’Well, what am I supposed to do about it?’ I asked.

“‘You are supposed to wake up and tell me a story that will put me to sleep,’ she said.

“I just gazed at her for a moment and then I remembered that we were the wonderful Raymonds. We always laughed. So I said then I would tell her about the history of Arizona.

“You see, knowing we were coming to Arizona to seek sunshine, I had looked up a book on the place.

“‘Well, the history of Arizona ought to put me to sleep,’ said Jeanette. So I launched forth…

Gene got up and began strutting around the room in a magnificent burlesque of himself telling the story.

“Well, I began talking that history big,” he said. “I told her about the winning of the old West. I told her about the Indian wars and our brave boys fighting to make it free for us.” He waved his arms around in mock bravado. “Was I terrific? I’ll say I was. I put Mrs Raymond to sleep almost at once. She slumbered like a babe, lying on the bed that had been too narrow for her.

“But me! Ah, there you have something. I’d got myself so excited over those Indians that I couldn’t go to sleep for hours.”

“He did, though,” murmured Jeanette from the couch. “He got to sleep around six but I woke up around eight, not knowing that, and I wanted to go horseback riding and I woke him up to tell him, didn’t I, dear?”

Gene gave her a look. “You did, indeed, dear,” he said.

He sat down, shaking his head in mock sorrow, his expression woebegone. “You see what my life is,” he murmured.

“You can’t tell me your days go on like that,” I said. “You can’t have had many more experiences like that.”

They both sat forward with a jerk. “Not have more?” they said in unison. “Have you got all evening free to listen?”

Gene consulted Jeanette. “I could tell about the time you wanted to take the ride around New York’s Central Park in one of those open hacks and we did and had fans follow us for miles, yelling at us, because they could walk faster than the poor old horse could. . . .”

“And I could tell about the same time in New York when you had to have chicken croquettes with white sauce and green peas at Childs’,” said Jeanette.

She turned to me. “Ignore him,” she said, “but up until the time we had to go to Childs’ it had been a lovely evening. We were vacationing in New York at the same time that Irene Dunne and Dr. Griffin were there and we had made up a foursome for the evening.

“We had consumed a divine dinner and seen a fine play and had gone afterward to the Plaza and seen that wonderful Paul Draper dance. It was about one o’clock in the morning and all the rest of us wanted to do then was go home and to bed. But my husband had been brought up in New York, as you know, and he remembered with greatest joy the chicken croquettes with white sauce and green peas that they served at Childs’.

“It seemed he just had to have some and we had to have some with him. Well, we couldn’t get into the first few Childs’ restaurants we tried to make because of the autograph fans following us, but we eventually outdistanced them and found a Childs’ which was open and where we were safe. Only it seemed that it was too late in the evening for while sauce.

“I don’t know why white sauce should have a bedtime but that’s how it worked out. And the waiter said they never had peas at that season of the year so Gene ended up with the plain croquettes and green beans. Dr. Griffin and I had scrambled eggs and I don’t remember what Irene had but it gave her indigestion, too.”

“And I could tell about the time we were going to the wedding of General Pershing’s son in New York, at a church
just two blocks away from our hotel,” said Gene, “but you had to hire a limousine so we wouldn’t get caught in any crowds but you forgot that our hotel was on a one-way street, the wrong way, so the car had to park on Fifth Avenue and by the time we got to it we were caught in the crowd anyhow so that the chauffeur never did find us. . . .”

“And I could tell,” started Jeanette, but at that moment she began really to laugh and she rushed across the room and sat on Gene’s lap and he started to laugh, too, and turned to kiss her. So I thought it was high time that I went away from there.

But I could tell these things: about the very rare moments when I have talked to both of them and they have been serious and have told me about the little town house they hope to have some day in New York. Not that they ever have any intention of deserting Hollywood and their home there, but just so that they can get the feel of living in both cities.

And I could tell, also, of how they hope some day to make their careers a combination of music-radio-pictures because they see no reason why those three arts should be antagonistic and because they love all three of them. I could tell you, too, and quite truly how they have never had, since the day of their marriage, the slightest thing resembling a quarrel and how, under all their bright mockery and merry teasing, their eyes constantly seek out each other’s and how their fingers entwine always about each other’s hands.

From all of which things, if you add them together, I hope you can tell that they are terrifically, sincerely, and permanently in love. Because, you see, no couple could kid itself and each other so constantly, could laugh so genuinely, unless they deeply adored and understood one another’s foibles. If you haven’t received that impression from all of this, then I’ve failed, because, I assure you, they are two of the most truly-in-love people I have ever seen. If any marriage underneath Hollywood’s blazing sun has a chance to last till death-do-them-part, this MacDonald-Raymond marriage, now one year old, is that one.

And despite all the odds against it, I’ll give you any odds that you wish that it will last forever and ever, amen.

Keeping Up With Hollywood: February 22, 1951

by Louella Parsons
February 21, 1951

Not since the stories that Shirley Temple was actually a dwarf and wasn’t a child actress, and that the real Mary Pickford had been dead for years and another actress was taking her place, have we had as ridiculous a fabrication as the one printed about Jeanette MacDonald.

A story in a Vienna newspaper says that Jennette MacDonald is in reality the child of elderly Austrian parents who still live there. I knew Jeanette’s mother, a wonderful women who died in 1947. Jeanette looks like her. Her father died several years ago—and whoever started the Austrian parents yarn certainly has a good imagination (or a bad one).

Nelson Eddy Lays It on Line to Get Out of MGM Contract

by Hedda Hopper
Los Angeles Times
August 24, 1942

Hedda Hopper’s Looking At Hollywood

Hollywood, Cal., Aug. 24. —The mighty Metro is snowed under with requests for more Nelson Eddy pictures, but I don’t think you’ll be seeing any more from that studio. Here’s the lowdown on his deal with them, and it’s pretty amazing, to say the least:

Tho he was one of their greatest money makers, his salary never rose above $2500 a week (which he gets in one night on his concert tours), and after balking at playing a sort of Daddy Long Legs to Newcomer Kathryn Grayson, he asked for his release. They said: “Sure, we’ll give it to you, but it’ll cost you dough.” It did. They wanted all the money he’s earned from them since Jan. He paid it. That’s how badly he wanted to get away.

Concert Star, Screen Idol, Is Truly ‘Self-Made Man’

by Mary Mann
The Salt Lake Tribune
December 22, 1935

Nelson Eddy, screen film idol and one of America’s foremost baritones, is coming to Salt Lake City on January 15 to give a concert tinder the sponsorship of the extension division of the University of Utah.

A few short years ago, Nelson Eddy was a newspaper man who never dreamed of becoming an international figure. He sang at his work to the tune of losing two good jobs. Either his editors had no ear for music or they were unappreciative talent.

read more…

Nelson Eddy Finally Tries Eating Shortnin’ Bread; Singer Likes It

by Bob Thomas
Associated Press
November 18, 1946

HOLLYWOOD COMMENTS

Hollywood, Nov. 18, (AP) — Mammy’s little baby loves shortnin’ bread, and so does Nelson Eddy now after years of singing the darn song.

In recent years Eddy and shortnin’ bread have become as closely associated as Red Skelton and “I Dood It,” or salt and peanuts. Only just recently did Nelson try the pastry.

A cook in northern California heard he was to be her guest, so she whipped up some.

“You know, it tastes pretty good,” Nelson said.

read more…

Notes on Don Ameche

Fox Publicity Department
Date Unknown

Don Ameche seldom eats at home, although his wife is a good cook. Don explained that he doesn’t like home cooking and particularly dislikes the idea of going home and eating a meal that is not of his own choice—since he never can make up his mind about just what he wants to eat until he sits down to dine. After work at the film studio, he usually meets his wife and they go to a restaurant. He is fond of spaghetti.

read more…

Don Ameche on Don Ameche

For the 20th Century Fox Publicity Department
Late 1930’s

When I first came to Hollywood after five years with the radio chains a number of sympathetic souls maneuvered me into a corner for a heart-to-heart talk.

They were a little bit slow in coming to the point, but at least one hardy soul saw no further advantage to beating around the bush.

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Turning Tables On Press

by Don Ameche
20th Century-Fox Publicity
1937

I turned the tables on the press today.

During the last year, I have been interviewed 1,566 times, more or less, and what with the considerable journalistic experience I acquired as the city editor in “love Is News”, I came to the conclusion that it was about time I did some interviewing myself.

Emboldened by such a momentous decision, I was ready for Merle Potter, the staff correspondent of the Minneapolis Journal, when he strolled on the “Love Under Fire” set at 20th Century-Fox studios.

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Don Ameche Heeds Fan Mail

April 1936

THE POSTMAN—At Twentieth Century-Fox Studios reported that Don Ameche’s fan mail was running only slightly behind Shirley Temple’s and Production Chief Darryl F. Zanack realized that the moment of Ameche’s stardom was at hand.

Mr. Zanack’s sleek. Valentinesque recruit from radio had been given a strenuous apprenticeship at Twentieth Century. Five hours after his arrival in Hollywood he went to work in a windy problem movie called “Sins of Man” Next he supported Loretta Young in Ramona, a trio of beauties in “Ladies in Love,” was the shadowy romantic background for Sonja Henie’s figure scating in “One in a Million” and dropped to a villainous foil for Tyrone Power in “Love Is News.”

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The Happiness Boy

by Dora Albert
Modern Screen
October 1939

Ty Powers feels no one has a right to be as glad as Don perpetually is!

HE IS said to receive more fan mail than any other actor on his lot except Shirley Temple. Recently he was chosen by the deaf people of this country as the actor with the finest voice. (What they really meant was that his lips were the easiest to read.) He has a fan in Oakland, California, who has seen every picture in which he has appeared from fifty-five to one hundred and thirty times. A woman in Warren, Pennsylvania named a pig after him and entered it in a contest of the Ladies’ Aid Society.

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