Monthly Archives: Jul 2017

29 Jul 1924 – The Mischievousness of Mae Murray

In this same eventful year the Lasky Company engaged another actress whose name is now familiar to the motion picture population of the world. The Ziegfeld Follies of 1915 contained for the first time a screen episode introduced for presentation of an auto race. From the moment when I saw Miss Murray romp across this incidental screen I saw her possibilities. When I got in touch with her, however, I discovered that several other producers had been inspired by the same belief. That our organization was the lucky competitor was due to a very advantageous connection which the Lasky Company had formed sometime previously. The chief concern of both Mr. Zukor and the organization was to get big stories, big plays and to this end Mr. Zukor and I engaged in a memorable skirmish over David Belasco. It is apparent of course, at first glance why the production of this most eminent producer of the spoken drama should have assumed such importance in our eyes. Both of us felt that if we could only have the screen rights to the Belasco pays we should be placed in an invulnerable position. In our rival efforts Mr. Zukor had the first advantage, for he had earlier formed a connection with Daniel Frohman, and through this alliance he was enabled to get into direct touch with Mr. Belasco. I, on the other contrary, made all overtures through the great producers business manager. In spite of Mr. Zukor’s lead, the result hung in the balance for many days. At last, when I was beginning to despair, Mr.Belasco announced that he would see me. How well I remember that day with a beating heart I sat in the producers office awaiting the decisions so vital to my organization. It seemed an eternity that I listened for the opening of a door, and when at last I heard it. Mr. Belasco’s entrance was as dramatic as that of a hero in one of his own plays. The majestic head with its mop of white hair sunk a trifle forward, the one hand carried inside of his coat I can see now this picture of him as slowly, without a word, he descended the stair to greet me. After I had gathered together my courage I began to talk to him about DeMille and Lasky and our organization, and he seemed impressed from the first by my enthusiasm. I think he liked the fact that we were all such young men. Indeed, he said so, and it was this, I am sure, which influenced his decision. He made it that very day, and when I went out of his door my head was swimming with my triumph. Mr. Belasco had promised the Lasky Company the “screen rights to all his plays. For these rights, I may mention, we promised him $25,000 advance against 50 percent of the profits. I saw my esteemed but defeated rival at lunch on this very same day and when I told him the news his face grew white. It was, indeed, a terrific blow. But a reversed decision would have meant even more to me. For such plays as “The Girl of the Golden West” and “Rose of the Rancho” merely helped to offset our leading competitors tremendous advantage in the possession of such stars as Mary Pickford and Marguerite Clark. The promise of the Belasco plays influenced many a screen actor of the time, and it was, in fact, my assurance to Mae Murray that she should play “Sweet Kitty Belair” which weighed against more dazzling offers from other studios. Before Mae departed for California she came to me with trouble clouding her brown. “I can’t do it” she said. “Can’t do what?” I enquired apprehensively. “Why, this contract you’ve made with me”.  It says that I get $100 a week and the company buys my clothes. Now I can’t trust anybody to pick out what I wear. Clothes are part of my personality and I’d much rather have more salary and have the privilege of buying my own wardrobe”. I yielded the point and allowed her an extra $100 per week to cover this expenditure. Incidentally, I may remark that Mae could not have saved many nickels from her allowance. There is a tradition that one evening at the Hollywood Hotel the charming little actress changed her evening wrap four times. I cannot verify this legend, but I can say that Mae never changes from bad to worse. She is regarded as one of the most beautifully dressed women of the screen. The clothes-cloud was dispelled from Mae’s horizon. Unfortunately, however, more severe storms awaited her in California. First of all, she was rented by the commands of a director whose conception of her talents had nothing in common with Mae’s own. “Be dignified, remember you are a lady, not a hoyden”. This was the spirit if not the substance of guidance. At some such suggestion Mae would protest angrily. “But I am a dancer that’s the reason I was engaged. And now you want to turn me into something different. I tell you I’ll be an utter failure if you go on like this. Mae’s anger was, of course, perfectly justifiable. Her subsequent successes have verified this fact. Without the infectious mad-cap gaiety which she herself appraised so correctly from the first we should have never have had George Fitzmaurice’s great success, “On With the Dance” or “Peacock Alley”. Miss Murray found another obstacle to overcome during those first days. Fresh with a different medium she knew nothing of the workings of the camera. This knowledge so important in assuming the pose most beneficial to oneself, was gradually imparted by a young chap in the cast of her play. “Say”, said he, “that guy’s giving you the raw deal. He’s trying to get his friend on the set right and you can take what’s left of the camera”. “But what shall I do? Asked she helplessly. “I don’t know how to stand or look”? “You watch me”, rejoined the good Samaritan. “I’ll put you wise”. Right then and there he arranged a code by which to defeat the operations of a cameraman who according to report, did not administer his lens with impartial fervor. If he put his finger to his left cheek it meant “turn to the left” to the right and the gesture was equally logical. From the point onward the system progressed to all the most minute provisions for securing some of the coveted attention. How to engross the most of the camera! I regret to say that here on the roof that ambition has been wrecked many a lofty nature. The public does not realize as it watches the beautiful feminine star look up at the handsome male star over the moonlit stile the warfare that may possibly have occurred as to which should get the more advantageous focusing. Nor does it interpret the moving subtitle “Promise me you’ll leave me a little of the camera”. I have known sweethearts strangely impervious to the higher point of view when it came to this test. And I shall tell presently of a husband who skirmished fiercely with his famous wife on this particular point. Mae’s case was far from indicative of such unappeasable appetite. Her struggle was only for a just share of the camera. Indeed, she has too much respect for a good story ever to offend by insistence on an individual prominence, which often destroys the story. She did insist on another director and on claiming my promise of “Sweet Kitty Bellairs”. Both wishes were gratified. But perhaps, in spite of her avowed admiration for the workmanship of Jimmie Young, no director ever really took with her until she met Bobby Leonard. “Girls, girls” she cried on the evening of the day after she had first worked under Bobby. “I’ve got a great director at last”. She was radiant. She tripped across the lot to her dressing room her blue eyes danced exactly like those of the little girl who has finally drawn the gold ring at the merry-go-round. I have told of Mae’s early struggles with objective light-heartedness. She herself recounts them today with a full appreciation of their humor. But there is another more vital approach to the subject. You must consider that every picture is tremendously significant to the screen actor involved. If it succeeds well and good. If it is a “flop” the proportionate damage to the actor’s reputation is infinitely greater. I think I am safe in saying that if even such emphatic successes such as Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, or DW Griffith were to make two or three successive failures they would find the coming back somewhat difficult. In fact, I have often heard Mr. Griffith remark “I simply cannot afford to make a failure”. In the light of such knowledge the heartaches of Mae’s first weeks on the Lasky Lot are instantly apparent. Here she was, fully conscious of what that first picture meant in her career. And here at every step she was met by circumstances pointing to failure. And such heartaches, such beating of wings against barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding and actual hostility those palpitate through many of the disputes recorded in this volume.

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26 Jul 1938 – Capitol Names Prize Winners

The recent letter writing contest on “Why I want to see Rudolph Valentino” has met some unusual responses and printed here are two prize winning letters that will receive cash awards if the parties please call the Capitol Theater Office.

First Prize – “I want to see Rudolph Valentino because when I was a small girl, in boarding school, my mother came after me for a holiday weekend. We ate in cafes, shopped and went to see Rudolph Valentino in Son of the Sheik at the Queen Theater, Houston, Texas. My mother’s birthday is 31 Jul and I want to give her a holiday and myself a memory trip by taking her to see the movie idol of her time again at the Capitol Theater 31 Jul”. Signed: Mrs. L.E.J East 10th Street.

Second Prize – Mr. Rudolph Valentino fourteen years ago when I saw you in Son of the Sheik played at the Woodlawn Theater, Chicago, Illinois. I went because friends and salespeople exclaimed of my resemblance to you. I could double as your sister. I wonder if you were here today, would your mirror reflect the same changes as mine does? Although I have run true to form, by being “fair, fat, and fortish” the similarity in features remain. My reason for seeing Son of the Sheik now is for the memories brought back from that time, are nice to remember as the picture again unfolds before me. Your most ardent admirer: Mrs. D.R. NW 3rd.

Everyone is invited to send in their letters this week before the picture comes to Amarillo on “Why I want to see Rudolph Valentino”. You may win a cash prize and a guest ticket to see Son of the Sheik.

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28 Oct 1929 – Roerich’s Shrine

On Manhattan’s socially outworn Riverside Drive, a skyscraper-Museum, dedicated to one man, was formally opened last week. The man was Professor Nicholas Constantinovich Roerich, famed Russian painter-writer-explorer-philosopher. The brick skyscraper, designed by Architect Harvey Wiley Corbett, uniquely graduated in tone from deep purple at the base to white at the top, symbolizes “growth,” houses more than 1,000 of Professor Roerich’s exotic paintings, is dedicated to international culture, world peace. Present at the dedication was the Professor himself and his two apple-cheeked sons. His audience wandered through the museum, marveled at the “Hall of the East” in which 100 ritual lights burned before a Tibetan shrine. The audience included turbaned Indians, grave Chinese, eager U. S. intellectuals, a brown woman with gems fastened in her nose, a plump white woman wearing a jingling Colombian Indian costume. Kermit Roosevelt dropped his eyes against curious stares. Natacha Rambova, white turbaned and weighted with gold invited the avid to her studio. Esoteric prattlers shook the Professor’s hands and looked for cheese wafers to nibble. There were no refreshments.
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17 Apr 1935 – ZUNILDA MANCINI, Respondent, v. S. GEORGE ULLMAN, Appellant.

Mancini v. Ullman [Civ. No. 10065. Second Appellate District, Division One. April 17, 1935.]
COUNSEL Arthur C. Fisher for Appellant. Herman Tepp, Ivan L. Hiler and Jay J. Stein for Respondent.
OPINION Conrey, P. J.  Appellant having filed his opening brief, respondent now moves to dismiss the appeal of defendant, or affirm the judgment, upon the ground that the questions upon which the decision depends are so unsubstantial as not to require argument. The record is presented in a printed transcript which contains the judgment roll, together with a bill of exceptions in which there are no specifications of insufficiency of the evidence to sustain the findings.
[1] On several dates (January 23, 1928, April 12, 1929, and April 28, 1930), respondent, who resided in the city of New York, paid to appellant sums of money, in all amounting to $6,900, all solicited and received as part of a fund to be used for the construction of a monument in the city of Los Angeles, to commemorate the name of Rudolph Valentino. Appellant actually used for that purpose, only $2,000. The court found that his representations to respondent, by means of which he obtained the money, were knowingly false. The transcript begins with an amended complaint, and does not show the date of commencement of this action. However, we accept as presumably correct the statement of counsel in his brief, that the action was not commenced until October 23, 1933. But the facts shown by the findings are sufficient to excuse the failure of respondent to discover the fraud until May, 1933, when she promptly employed an attorney, and demanded repayment of the money sued for in this action, and then filed her complaint. [6 Cal. App. 2d 224] There is, therefore, no merit whatever in appellant’s contention that the plaintiff’s right of action is barred by the provisions of sections 338 and 339 of the Code of Civil Procedure; nor in the further defense based on the ground of laches of the plaintiff in delaying the commencement of her action.
[2] There is no substantial basis for the claim of appellant that the court erred in allowing plaintiff to amend her amended complaint to conform to the proof. Appellant argues that the points of amendment did not conform to the proof. But the trial court thought differently, and in the light of the findings we must assume that the court’s ruling on this matter was supported by the evidence. There was no miscarriage of justice in the rendition of judgment against appellant.
The judgment is affirmed.
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1920 – Stolen Moments St Augustine, FL


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8 Mar 1925 – Where Rudolph was when the lights went out

While on the subject of temperaments have you heard the news of Rudolph Valentino’s tiff with Ritz-Carlton Pictures? Well it seems that Rudy was right in the midst of making “The Hooded Falcon” making it just as he jolly well pleased and under the supervision of his own hand-picked director, when J.D. Williams, president of Ritz-Carlton, thought he ought to have something to say regarding the expenditure of something like $500,000 of his own hard cash. First of all he requested that Mrs. Valentino hie herself to the sidelines and confiner her helpful operations to merely looking on and keeping quiet. When Mr. Williams took exception to Rudy’s choice of Alan Hale as the director he declared that Mr. Hale was not experienced enough to look after the destinies of a film which was estimated to cost it producers half a million dollars. So the Valentinos walked off the set in a huff. According to the latest reports they are passing the time in luxurious
idleness at Palm Springs. They are not going back to Hollywood until some spirit greater and more omnipotent than J.D. Williams moves them. In the meantime, Adolph Zukor and Famous Players Lasky who have contracted for hte release of Valentin’s pictures, are pacing the rugs in their majogany paneled executive chambers, wondering if ever there had been a spoiled child more incorrible than this boy Rudolph.
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24 Apr 1988 Secret to Manhood May Lie in Rudolph Valentino’s Ring

Franklin Mint is selling the secret to manhood. Or at least copies because the original stays where it is. The secret to manhood as implied by its ads is a ring worn by Silent Film Star Rudolph Valentino. The mint a mail-order firm in Franklin Center, PA is selling copies of the ring for $295.00. “Rudolph Valentino” one magazine ad reads “His name is synonymous with self-assured style”. Off and on the screen. And his taste in jewelry reflected an undeniable confidence in his own masculinity. “Now, for the first time, the ring that he actually wore has been recreated from the original now in the permanent collection of the prestigious Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, Rochester, NY. In 1967, the ring was purchased for $1000, in an auction in Portland, Maine, and the museum will not say what the piece is worth now. In any case, the ring has never been displayed though in might be included in a 1990 exhibit on American Heros of Pop Culture. The ring is made of hammered platinum with an oval setting of black star sapphire, which has an intaglio of two Greek warriors, one standing and one on a horse It is a huge affair more than 1 inch from front to back, more than 1 inch from side to side, and close to an inch from top to bottom. The copy replaces the platinum with silver and the sapphire with black hermatite. But at least you can get your own copy in any size you want. Museum records say the ring was made in Italy in 1925. Valentino bought it that year and reportedly wore it in three movies “A Sainted Devil” “Cobra” and “The Eagle”. He died in 1926 and the ring was bought by James Perkins a Portland Sea Captain. Strong bought it from Perkins estate which was auctioned when his widow died. In 1967, Margaret Strong bought the ring to go with her Rudolph Valentino Doll.

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16 Nov 1925


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