Monthly Archives: April 2016

1 Jun 1934 Mae Murray to Return to the Stage in “The Milky Way”

Mae Murray, film star of the silent pictures and best known for the “Merry  Widow”, will take over the leading feminine role in “The Milky Way” at the  Cort Theater on Monday evening, 11 Jun. Her role will be that of Ane, originally performed by Gladys George and now in the hands of Mildred West. Mae Murray originally a Follies girl and then the dancing partner of Clifton Webb for a time has not appeared on the legitimate stage in more than a decade. She is entertaining the cast “The Milky Way” with the idea of beginning a stage career as a straight non-singing or dancing comedy actress.

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1889-1965: Mae Murray The Girl with the bee stung lips

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We have to remember that the legacy of the Motion Picture and Television Fund originates in a time where those most famous cared for those most not. Different times, to be sure. The contentious battle to keep the doors of the Long-Term Care facility open often overshadows the honesty, compassion and caring that characterized these early years.

Mae Murray became a star of the club circuit in both the United States and Europe, performing with Clifton Webb, Rudolph Valentino and John Gilbert as some of her many dance partners. She made many films, her most famous role probably opposite John Gilbert in the Erich von Stroheim-directed film “The Merry Widow” (1925).  However, when silent movies gave way to talkies, Murray’s voice proved not to be compatible with the new sound and her career began to fade. At the height of her career in the early 1920s, Murray — along with such other notable Hollywood personalities as Cecil B. DeMille (who later became her neighbor in Playa Del Rey), Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Irving Thalberg — was a member of the board of trustees at the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The MPTF is a charitable organization that offers assistance and care to those in the motion picture and television industries without financial resources. Murray made many career mistakes, but somehow managed to eke out a living for many years. As great an actress as Murray was, her voice was better suited for silent films. Her lilting, soft voice was no match for the blossoming audio technology that favored a personality and voice bigger than life. Murray’s career had peaked. She had built an enormous mansion on the sand at 64th Avenue and Ocean Front Walk, across the street from the Del Rey Lagoon and a few yards from Ballona Creek, where she was quite the hostess. She became notorious for her beachfront parties, attended by a virtual Who’s Who in Hollywood and lasting days at a time. Apparently she owned stock in some of the oil wells that were located in her own back yard. As if following a modern-day script that is so familiar, her rise to fame was seconded only by her fall into poverty. By 1933, Murray was broke and ordered by the court to sell her opulent Playa Del Rey estate to pay a judgment against her. Her life was never the same after that. The lawsuit that resulted in the judgment was entered by Rosemary Stack, mother of future actor Robert Stack.

Moving to New York to find work, Murray was arrested for vagrancy after being found sleeping on a park bench. When she returned to California, she often was seen wandering the streets of Playa Del Rey and sitting on the beach near her former home. In 1964, living off charity and devoted friends, the poor deluded Murray continually traveled by transcontinental bus from coast to coast on a self-promoted publicity tour, hoping for a comeback in movies. On the last of these excursions, she lost herself during a stopover in Kansas City, Mo., and wandered to St. Louis. The Salvation Army found her on the streets and sent her back to Los Angeles. She rented a small Hollywood apartment near the Chinese Theatre, paid for by actor George Hamilton. Mae Murray passed away in 1965, at the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, Calif. — the very place she had helped to found. Funny how the entertainment industry was able to “pay it forward” during a time of world social upheaval and economic uncertainties. The ’60s was no place for an amateur. Mae’s final home, the Motion Picture Home, was a culmination of her career in entertainment and a fitting end to her life. According to Mae’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times, published March 28, 1965, she maintained to the end: “You don’t have to keep making movies to remain a star. Once you become a star, you are always a star.” Among her peers, Mae was a star at the Motion Picture Home, even when that star dimmed and all she had left was the commitment bestowed upon her by the motion picture industry.

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17 Jan 1923 Ben Hur Selection

Ben Hur Selections continue to be reported. Now it is said William Desmond is still being considered for the title role of the spectacle Goldwyn will make, though Valentino remains reported as the choice. Its reaffirm that Marshall Nellan will direct.

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29 Jun 1929 – Alberto Valentino Files Suit

Jun 29 – Alberto Guglielmi, brother of the late Rudolph Valentino filed suit against Mrs. Adle Schell, Dale Frederick, and Richard Shaw for damages resulting an auto accident last January.

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13 Jan 1921 – On Set

“Bow, wow, wow, ruff”, a series of canine exclamations come from under an umbrella. Peeping around the edges we discover Rudolph Valentino who is taking the part of Julio in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” for Metro. Mrs. Malcom Hamilton and Gertrude Selby having a “dog-gone” good time with a pair of dwarfish, fluffy, canines, who insist on staging a fight and barking loudly every time they are a familiar sight on set.

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VALE NTINO AWARD

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Rudolph Valentino wins Recognition

Dear Editor,

I have been of reader of your magazine for a number of years, and have found everything that is contained of great interest, as well as a help to movie fans. I have been a fan of Rudolph Valentino and the paragraphs below will tell you why:

I first had the opportunity to see Mr. Valentino in “Passions Playground” for that picture, he had a very small part, but he played it very well. I also had the pleasure of seeing him in one or two more pictures since
then and he then seemed to me as being a very capable actor. I heard he was going to star in the screen version of “The Four Horsemen” I was very happy indeed. He will make a great success as Julio the leading character in the movie. I now understand he is playing Armand to Mme. Nazimova in Camille, and I know that he will be taking his place on the center stage among other leading men in silent drama. I hope he will have a good many more admirers in the future.

Sincerely yours,
Lillian Crozier, 208 W.148th Street, NYC

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