Posts Tagged With: Gloria Swanson
Gloria Swanson’s Butterless Devil’s Food Cake
5 cups unsweetened chocolate powder
1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
1.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 cups sugar
Icing or jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve chocolate in the warmed milk and let cool. Beat egg yolks with sugar then add to the chocolate mixture. Mix flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and add gradually to the chocolate. Whip egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Divide between two cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then turn out onto cooling trays. When cake is cold, sandwich layers together with icing or jam.
According to Irwin Zeltner (1971), “Hollywood has had many famous feuds, but cannot compare with the feud between two 1920’s silent film stars Gloria Swanson and Pola Negri. At the time, both were two of the most exotic women this town had known and experienced. The battleground was Paramount Studio in which their movies were made. When I first met Gloria Swanson, I was a bit startled by her voice. It was anything but musical. She was charming, but I quickly noted she spoke with an unmistakable midwestern accent. My first impression of her was she appeared tiny. Reared in Chicago by her U.S. Army officer father, in her early teens she was employed as ribbon clerk in a store not far from the stockyards. Somehow, like so many other famous discoveries, she landed a job with Mack Sennett Studios. She was standing in the doorway of a shack on the Sennett lot one day, when the great star maker Cecil B. Demille chanced by. DeMille, as he told me later, did a double-take and his intuitive perception told him this young lady had personality, charm, and appearance wholly distinctive. In a short while Miss Swanson was before the DeMille camera clothed in costumes that then were a shock to Hollywood. Her hair was done up in bizarre styles, and in a few lessons, she was taught to gesture with an elongated cigarette holder. The soon-to become famous Miss Swanson was thus prepared for the roles she was assigned to, and these were mostly females of questionable morals. With everything against her, she somehow remembered her public-school motto “Perseverance Wins”. How well I remember how exciting my duties were in behalf of two of her productions “Feet of Clay” and “Madame Sans Gene” released a couple of years later. These activities brought me in close contact with Miss Swanson and during one of our frequent meetings I was astonished when she spoke out most critically of Pola Negri who had appeared on the Hollywood scene to challenge Gloria’s pre-eminence as “Queen of the Movies”. “Mr. Zeltner”, she said I am the topmost female star of our industry and I cannot seem to get our Paramount Studio to subdue that Pola Negri woman, that foreigner, that gypsy. I listened carefully, as Gloria after a moments rest continued her tirade. Her eyes glinted, and she was relentless and more sharply demanding than ever. It was not long in coming a showdown with Paramount Studio officials and Adolph Zukor a kingly little man who was President. In his effort to calm the tempestuous Miss Swanson, Zukor offered her a contract in which Paramount was to pay her upwards of one million dollars annually. But she would not give an inch. About this time, I had luncheon with Miss Swanson, and no sooner had sat down when I ventured to inquire about her latest Paramount offer. Her reply was quick “Mr. Zeltner I am forming my own production company. I am the reigning female star of the movie world and determined to remain as such”. I will make arrangements to release my pictures through an affiliation with United Artists. She would be joining Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplain, Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino. It was not long, after Gloria now complete master of her fate, realized her star was glowing less brilliantly. Gloria carried her head high, persevered as was her wont and never for a moment allowed her battle with Pola Negri to lapse. Miss Negri kept up the challenge. However, it was now Hollywood History that Miss Swanson won that war, and for along time sustained her exalted position. It was producer Ernest Lubitsch, who brought the gifted Pola Negri to America and to the Paramount Studio. Here she immediately clashed with Gloria Swanson. I had the pleasure of meeting Miss Negri on the day of her arrival. This very exotic female was a genuine gypsy. Her father died in exile in Siberia after he had become involved in Poland’s fight for independence from Russia. Miss Negri in my opinion was a beautiful and talented woman. She achieved considerable success on the Warsaw stage. In Berlin, impresario Max Herinhardt directed her to state and screen stardom. Miss Negri was well-known on the European Continent as a dancer, having graduated from the Russian Imperial Ballet School. Her combined abilities were now being praised in movie and stage circles in America and juicy contracts were being offered to her. Somewhere in between Miss Negri married and then shelved a real count. The one thing, I keenly remember of Miss Negri on the day of her arrival was that she kept reminding all and sundry that she was a countess. It was only natural for Lubitsch, to star her in his epic “Gypsy Blood”. This of course, was produced by Paramount Studio. Her role was that of a sultry vamp, and the picture was a box-office success. Soon as the cameras started to grind on this picture, and all through production her famous clash with Gloria Swanson on the same lot flared and it forthwith, grew in intensity. The battle between them both was so bad Paramount officially shifted Gloria to the East Coast Studio. Later when they sent her to Paris, one of her first achievements was to acquire a titled husband a marquis. Now her fight with Miss Negri was really joined. While this was all going on, Miss Negri was succeeding in turning everyone in Hollywood against her. She held everyone and everything in contempt. She avoided all social contacts, remaining in solitude and her music and literature and an occasional visit from a European friend. Miss Negri found herself completely rejected and she took great comfort in the romance and love that quietly existed between her and Rudolph Valentino. Incidentally, I was one of only a few close friends of Rudy’s to know of this romance. When word came to Miss Negri in Hollywood the Latin Lover was on his deathbed, she made a transcontinental dash to be at his bedside. It is true among Valentino’s last words were “If she does not get here in time, tell her I love her”. This message which she received in Hollywood, gave her license to display great grief and some have said was laying it on too thick. About this time, her popularity started to rapidly decline, and Paramount Studios found it hard to sell her films. Heroic efforts were made to remold the temptress image, but everything fizzled. Abruptly she went back to Germany, where she was understood and admired. Again, she married to a fake Prince and I was not surprised by the news at all. I received a cable invitation to come to Germany. This and a later letter detailed her desire for American promotional campaigns for her pictures. She was frank enough to state our methods applied to her German Films would rebound in her favor in the U.S. and this she wanted more than anything else. Even though she was offering me an amount more than what I was currently earning I respectfully declined. My regard for Pola as an actress never wavered and nor my respect until one day, I received authentic information from a remarkably close friend in American news that Miss Negri was linked with Adolf Hitler. My friend queried her on this, and she never denied the association with the Fuhrer. Her only comment was that there had been many prominent men in her life, with Valentino heading the list”.
Zeltner, I. (1971). What the stars told me: Hollywood in its Heyday. Exposition Press.
In a bid to advertise his movie theater and the latest movie starring Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson F.C. Parker will visit the Lasky Studios in Hollywood, where he will conduct an interview with Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson in an endeavor to have them visit Stockton personally while the film in which they costar, ‘‘Beyond the Rocks,” is playing at the Lyric theater, Frank C. Parker, manager of the house, departed for the south yesterday. Mr. Parker plans to he in the vicinity of Los Angeles for a week at least. During his absence Mark Hatch will manage the Lyric Theater.
In 1950, Gloria Swanson, a former costar of Rudolph Valentino starred in the academy award nominated movie titled Sunset Boulevard about a faded silent film legend named Norma Desmond. Throughout the movie there are several scenes that refer to Valentino. The first is her 1929 Italian luxury automobile an Isotta-Fraschini 8A, for $28,000. This car symbolized luxury and elegance in the Silent Film world and Norma (Gloria) said this was the same type of car Valentino owned. The car used in Sunset Boulevard is now displayed in Museo Nazionale dell ‘Automobile in Turin.
The second is Norma and Joe (William Holden) dance the tango together. To shoot the tango, cinematographer John Seitz used a device called a Dance Dolly, which amounted to a sort of moveable platform on wheels. Nothing special there. But when you learn that Seitz first introduced the technique to shoot Valentino dancing the tango in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you might be more than a little impressed.
“Valentino said there’s nothing like tile for a tango!” — Norma Desmond to Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard (1950)…
Research shows there is nothing that truly says Valentino preferred tile to tango. In 1922, Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino did dance the tango together in the silent film “Beyond the Rocks”. So I would like to believe Valentino did prefer tile to tango on.
The costume designer is Natacha Rambova featuring one of her early designs and worn by Gloria Swanson in “Don’t Change Your Husband”.
I am fascinated by how silent movie stars learned, loved, lived. I enjoy finding recipes they shared with fans. Gloria Swanson loved to cook and she felt this time in the kitchen brought her back to reality of hearth and home. Although Gloria smoked and drank she did try and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here is one Gloria truly liked to make.
1 cup string beans, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup zucchini, chopped
1 cup Swiss chard, chopped
8 cups of spring water
Before chopping, wash all vegetables thoroughly. Pour spring water into a soup pot and add the rest of ingredients. Cover and simmer until celery is tender. Allow the broth to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in glass jars. Serve hot or cold.
Agnes Ayres does not like to have anybody sing in her dressing room. But her chief faith in luck is bound up in a wonderful Columbia Clock which has been in her family for years. It is a marvelous mechanism, being made entirely of wood and although of a great age is still running. Miss Ayres firmly believes that her success depends upon the possession of this clock, and so carefully, does she guard the treasure she will not even allow it to be photographed. Her movie colleague, Rudolph Valentino has declared to friends he has no superstitions. But one might wonder why he waited until 14 March to be married to the delightful Natacha Rambova when he could of done so on the 13th as well. Perhaps the fascinating Mrs. Valentino objects to the fatal number. Who knows might be because his first wedding ceremony took place on 13 May. Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. has no faith in crystals or superstitions. Gloria Swanson loves black cats and so tender was her care of the original two pets of the Lasky Studio they sent for all their friends, in-laws, and descendants until 327 cats now live on the lot. This is lucky for the butcher and the cats. Theodore Kostloff treasures a pre-war ten rouble gold piece, now worth $2 million in paper money. Bebe Daniels grandmother has a wonderful collection of dolls and few people know this is a direct result of Bebes belief that good luck follows the purchase of a new doll. Lila Lee is very superstitious about the beginning day of a new film. If she leaves her home in the morning, forgetting something important, she will not turn back herself, but send a messenger after she reaches the studio.
Gloria Swanson is living in Falcon Lair, the old Rudolph Valentino luxurious mansion while she forgets movies and takes up television. Miss Swanson was imported again to Hollywood, but this time to narrate and star in a Crown Theatre television film series for Bing Crosby Productions, and for her brief stay she rented the Valentino Home. In “Sunset Boulevard” the film that sparked her movie comeback, she played a one-time movie queen who lived in a fabulous home of the silent movie era. Thus, I drove up the hill to the Valentino mansion to see if real life was imitating the movies. the Italian-style Valentino house looks like a chateau from the bottom of the hill. But its actually a tidy nine-room house and there isn’t even a swimming pool for Bill Holden to float in, as in “Sunset Boulevard”. But there is an empty guest house, over the garage like in the movie. Miss Swanson wasn’t wearing dark glasses and a long cigarette holder, but a coat dress billowing with petticoats. “Yes, I’d love to do another beautiful picture, but it would just be compared to Sunset. “Three in Bedroom C” was and its like comparing soufflé to steak. I took “Sudden Fear” to Paramount and they turned it down, but well that’s past. “I’ll never do another play either and if its a failure its a waste of time and if its a success, your tied up for another year”. In her television movie, “My Last Duchess” she once again portrays a faded movie star. “This is the tenth actress I’ve played” she smiled. “I’m like the proverbial butler in the movies. I don’t know why people think of me as portraying actresses”. after the TV series, Miss Swanson will return to New York City to her dress business, which is branching into hats, hosiery, perfume and health bread. Also, she will write her autobiography from 1920-1930 “the rise and fall of a legend”. The Gloria Swanson the movie studios created is as amusing and startling to me as everyone else. “You know, the stories about my throwing cats over Pola Negri’s transom But those were exciting days, people had dreams and now the movies have been regimented. Nobody dreams anymore, said the lady of the Valentino house”. The last time, I visited this house, was to attend a séance by some fake mediums who put in a call to Valentino’s ghost and there was no answer. The next tenant, Miss Swanson said was heiress Doris Duke. Miss Duke promised parties not séances.