Actors' literary interests

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostFri Apr 27, 2012 1:01 pm

A more familiar image of Keaton the book reader:

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Was "Laugh and Live" (1917), the pioneering "self-help" book by Douglas Fairbanks, the first book by a film star to be published?

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Frederica

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostFri Apr 27, 2012 1:20 pm

Rollo Treadway wrote:Was "Laugh and Live" (1917), the pioneering "self-help" book by Douglas Fairbanks, the first book by a film star to be published?


Are we sure these books were actually written by the film star in question? I'm sure they had ghosts then, too.
Fred
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Lokke Heiss

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostFri Apr 27, 2012 2:08 pm

Rollo Treadway wrote:
Lokke Heiss wrote:is the woman in the bathtub Catherine Deneuve, or Bridgette Bardo?

Yes, it's Brigitte.

Of course Mlle. Deneuve would never be so déclassé as to be seen in a bathtub with a book on Fritz Lang! (She'd have chosen Gance, Carné or Renoir or one of that crowd.)


Yes. 'Taking a bath with Fritz,' just doesn't cut it.
"You can't top pigs with pigs."

Walt Disney, responding to someone who asked him why he didn't immediately do a sequel to The Three Little Pigs
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Christopher Jacobs

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostFri Apr 27, 2012 11:47 pm

Lokke Heiss wrote:At the risk of exposing my lack of ability to recognize people, is the woman in the bathtub Catherine Deneuve, or Bridgette Bardo?

It's a scene of Bardot from Godard's CONTEMPT (in which Fritz Lang plays himself) that takes place during a very long real-time segment in the middle of the film that depicts the falling apart of Bardot's marriage to frustrated novelist/screenwriter Michel Piccoli who was hired by vulgar American producer Jack Palance to be a script doctor on Fritz Lang's artsy film of Homer's THE ODYSSEY. Of course Palance falls for Bardot and things don't end well for anybody.

Too Much Information, I know. Sadly, Lionsgate's Blu-ray doesn't look nearly as good as the standard DVD from Criterion.
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Brooksie

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSat Apr 28, 2012 5:45 pm

This was the first picture that came to mind when this topic came up, and as nobody else has posted it, here it is:

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The literary gentleman is the screenwriter of 'Now We're In The Air' (1927), Keene Thompson.

And, for bonus points .... heeeeere's Connie!

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Wm. Charles Morrow

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSat Apr 28, 2012 6:26 pm

Frederica wrote:
Rollo Treadway wrote:Was "Laugh and Live" (1917), the pioneering "self-help" book by Douglas Fairbanks, the first book by a film star to be published?


Are we sure these books were actually written by the film star in question? I'm sure they had ghosts then, too.


In answer to your question, here's an interesting passage from Richard Schickel's book on Fairbanks, His Picture in the Papers, in which he discusses the writings attributed to Doug:

"[Fairbanks] pioneered new territory for the celebrity system, permitting his name to be affixed to a monthly column in Photoplay, one of the many new magazines that had sprung up to answer the public's need for information about this new breed, the movie stars -- a need that was distinctly not being fully answered by the more traditional journalism. In time, there were peppy books -- Laugh and Live, Make Life Worth-while, Whistle and Hoe -- Sing as We Go -- to name just some of his titles. Aimed at what we would now call "the Youth Market," they were produced by his secretary and confidant, Kenneth Davenport, an early member of the star's obligatory entourage, whose inclusion therein was the result of a typically expansive gesture on the star's part. Davenport had acted in one of Fairbanks' Broadway shows, the star had borrowed an overcoat from him one night, and Davenport had taken a chill going without it. He was diagnosed, shortly thereafter, as tubercular, though it is doubtful, of course, that there was a cause-effect relationship between the borrowed overcoat and the contracting of so major an illness. Fairbanks chose to think otherwise, however, and when the opportunity arose, put Davenport on the payroll."

That may be a little more information than you requested, but the overcoat anecdote strikes me as good story for those interested in Doug.
-- Charlie Morrow
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSun Apr 29, 2012 4:57 am

Brooksie wrote:This was the first picture that came to mind when this topic came up, and as nobody else has posted it, here it is:

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Why, I posted that very same pic of Brooksie on the previous page, Brooksie. Stop daydreaming and pay attention in class!

Great pic of Ms. Bennett - now here's Bluebeard with wife:
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And as long as I'm lubitsching, a favorite scene from Heaven Can Wait: The fight for the Sunday Funnies!

http://youtu.be/FWJTFuIHXfk?t=2m7s
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSun Apr 29, 2012 5:20 am

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:
Frederica wrote:
Rollo Treadway wrote:Was "Laugh and Live" (1917), the pioneering "self-help" book by Douglas Fairbanks, the first book by a film star to be published?


Are we sure these books were actually written by the film star in question? I'm sure they had ghosts then, too.


In answer to your question, here's an interesting passage from Richard Schickel's book on Fairbanks

Thanks for the nice anecdote, Charlie.

The earliest actor's autobiography I've read is Harold Lloyd's An American Comedy (1928), as told to Wesley W. Stout — in this case, the co-author did receive credit.

In the introduction to Groucho Marx and Other Short Stories and Tall Tales, a selection of his newspaper and magazine writings, it's revealed that some of them were actually written by his friend, the screenwriter Arthur Sheekman. Not so much a case of Sheekman ghosting for Groucho, more a case of helping Sheekman financially in lean times by "fronting" for him, as the pieces would be easier to sell, and for a higher price, with the Groucho name attributed.
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Doug Sulpy

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSun Apr 29, 2012 6:10 am

In The Park.jpeg
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSun Apr 29, 2012 6:45 am

Buster Keaton posing with comics legend George McManus, creator of "Bringing Up Father." The photos are undated, but based on Buster's costume I'm guessing these were taken in New York during the Cameraman shoot.

How McManus can use Buster as model for Jiggs and Maggie's daughter Nora is anybody's guess:

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Whereas McManus himself is a more credible model for Jiggs:

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westegg

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSun Apr 29, 2012 6:55 am

At the time McManus lived in nearby Long Beach, on Long Island, so the Manhattan location makes sense.
Last edited by westegg on Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostSun Apr 29, 2012 7:03 am

Thanks, that seems to clinch it. On closer inspection, Chinese characters are visible on the store signs, so this may have been during the filming of the "Tong War" sequence.

Buster himself had experience in portraying comic Irishmen with his folks on stage. And if Joe Keaton hadn't stubbornly refused an offer (from Hearst, was it?) to do a film version of "Bringing Up Father" with The Three Keatons, Buster's screen debut might have occurred a few years earlier than it did.
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Brooksie

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 12:57 am

Rollo Treadway wrote:Why, I posted that very same pic of Brooksie on the previous page, Brooksie. Stop daydreaming and pay attention in class!


Mea culpa - my defence is that I'm on borrowed computers at the moment. Can I argue that it's a picture so nice it's worth seeing twice? :)
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 2:10 am

Brooksie wrote:Mea culpa

Te absolvo! After all, there's no such thing as too much Louise — though some heretics would no doubt disagree.

Here is Britain's finest film actor of the 1960s, following the tradition established by Bogie, Stan and Ollie in the opening post:

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And speaking of opening post, Rudy may have been too busy reading all his fan mail to get around to books:

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FrankFay

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 3:37 am

Late in his life Lionel Barrymore produced a novel: "Mr Cartonwine- a cautionary tale" and wrote several scripts for radio. Lionel was also a respected artist (John had some talent as well). Lionel also composed and published music (he joined ASCAP) but I've never yet heard any of it.
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 5:35 am

I wasn't aware of the range of the Barrymores' talents and interests, but I'm not surprised.

Wish I could locate a hilarious series of Theda Bara publicity shots, which I believe I saw reprinted in Richard Griffith and Arthur Mayer's "The Movies" - purporting to illustrate the unlimited talents of this mystical human being, they showed Theda at work as author, sculptress, painter, violinist and whatnot.

Max Fleischer published a novel, "Noah's Shoes", in 1944. According to Fleischer expert Leslie Cabarga this is a thinly-veiled bitter parable of his power struggles with the Fleischer Studio and Paramount.

More recent actors who have had go at fiction writing include Carolyn Jones, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, Julie Andrews, Gene Hackman, Carrie Fisher, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. How much of this would qualify as worth one's time, I don't even dare speculate about! Although I did read Hugh Laurie's "The Gun Seller" and thought it was very good indeed.
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FrankFay

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 7:47 am

I read Fry's novel "The Liar"- it was a very good piece of work, worth reading if you come across a copy- you've got to have some knowledge of British public schools and the like to get through it.
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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 8:11 am

[quote="Rollo Treadway"]
After all, there's no such thing as too much Louise — though some heretics would no doubt disagree.

Though I'm a life member in good standing of Heretics, Int., I agree emphatically about Louise, & wonder why she seems to have so many detractors. She wasn't the greatest beauty of her time (could have used a bit of gel), nor did she shine in every picture she made, but in some of them--which was quite enough--she burned.
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 8:42 am

entredeuxguerres wrote:I agree emphatically about Louise, & wonder why she seems to have so many detractors.

I'm sure much of it has to with understandable backlash against some of Brooks' admirers going wildly overboard in their enthusiasm, "the screen's first natural actor" and statements to that effect. Or Henri Langlois of the French Cinematheque: "There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!"

In the last twenty or thirty years, Louise has become sort of the face of silent movies, to the extent that a lot of young whippersnappers don't even know any other actresses of the era, and may even believe she was the no. 1 popular star of her time. As so often, it seems some people have to make an "either/or" deal ut of it: If she wasn't the greatest actress after all, she must have been lousy...
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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 10:09 am

Rollo Treadway wrote:I'm sure much of it has to with understandable backlash against some of Brooks' admirers going wildly overboard in their enthusiasm, "the screen's first natural actor" and statements to that effect.


Curiously, I've seen words to that same effect applied to Mae's unadorned acting style, though I have no opinion myself on the validity of such a description. And whereas Mae was by no means so striking in appearance as Louise, I think she was actually more beautiful...and needed no artificial enhancements!
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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 5:21 pm

Which Mae - Mae Murray? I was reading John Kobal's 'People Will Talk' last night, and Brooks had an interesting take on Mae Murray:

It's so unfair how they treat people. Now, for instance, Von Stroheim has become an idol, you see, and so Mae Murray ust stinks all around, all over. Now, she was the most ridiculous woman, and a most ridiculous actress, and let us say insane. In a way. On the other hand, she was a great success, and anyone who made a success in the business has something, believe me [...] It is cruel, when she was an old woman, not to give her credit for what she had: a lovely body, a certain kind of grace, a kind of silly personality.


While I wouldn't call myself a wholesale subscriber to the Brooks cult (my username is misleading - in fact, it's a real-life nickname) I always find her damn entertaining.

Here's another nice picture of Harlow (though looking closely, it seems to be a script she's reading rather than a book). Everything I saw or read of her at the exhibition at the Hollywood Museum last year consolidated my feeling that she was a sunny, super-nice and quite cluey girl.

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entredeuxguerres

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostMon Apr 30, 2012 5:59 pm

Brooksie wrote:Which Mae - Mae Murray?


That Jane who's always getting knocked about, slapped silly, handed a raw deal of one kind or another: Mae Clarke--she of the bewitching dark eyes.

Mean to say your handle wasn't picked in homage to Clive Brook? So disappointing!

PS--That other Mae--the "insane" one--ain't so bad either.
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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 01, 2012 12:43 am

And here I thought all along people were talking about Mae West (the "needed no artificial enhancements" kind of implied that train of thought, anyway). And then there's the ever-popular Mae Marsh. Since we're now in the appropriate month, may-be it's time for a Mae Movie Festival! Sounds like a perfect TCM theme, anyway, and perfect to lead it with the song from the newly-released Blu-ray of CAMELOT... "The Lusty Month of Mae."
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 01, 2012 3:11 am

Any truth to the rumor that John Frankenheimer in the 1960s planned a lurid, sleazy comeback picture for Ms. West, to be called "Seven Days in Mae"?

As long as we're gossiping, a look at the private lives of Elizabeth and Essex:

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Touting their autobiographies:

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A responsible husband and father always closely monitors his family's reading matter.

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entredeuxguerres

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 01, 2012 9:05 am

Somebody in the Publicity Dept. deserved a pink slip for releasing that shot of Errol engrossed in such a vapid rag, rather than something like Esquire, True ("the Man's Magazine"), Yachtsman.
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 15, 2012 8:51 am

Yet more evidence for my "Women are the real eggheads" theory:

Gloria Stuart - She Wrote the Book

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Joe Migliore

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 15, 2012 11:25 am

FrankFay wrote:
I read Fry's novel "The Liar"- it was a very good piece of work, worth reading if you come across a copy- you've got to have some knowledge of British public schools and the like to get through it.


I actually prefer Stephen Fry's novels "The Stars' Tennis Balls" and "Making History", the latter employing time travel.
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FrankFay

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 15, 2012 12:22 pm

Joe Migliore wrote:FrankFay wrote:
I read Fry's novel "The Liar"- it was a very good piece of work, worth reading if you come across a copy- you've got to have some knowledge of British public schools and the like to get through it.


I actually prefer Stephen Fry's novels "The Stars' Tennis Balls" and "Making History", the latter employing time travel.


You might be right- The Liar is the only Fry novel I've read. It's arch to the point of being precious a lot of the time, but that seems appropriate considering the main character. As a first novel I cut it a bit of slack, maybe I'll look for the others.


BTW- Victor Buono wrote some rather amusing verse "The Fat Man's Prayer" got rather popular:

Lord, my soul is ripped with riot,
Incited by my wicked diet.
We are what we eat, said a wise old man,
And Lord, if that's true, I'm a garbage can!
I want to rise on Judgment Day, that's plain,
But at my present weight, I'll need a crane!

So grant me strength that I may not fall
Into the clutches of cholesterol.
May my flesh with carrot curls be sated
That my soul may be polyunsaturated.
And show me the light that I may bear witness
To the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

At oleomargarine I'll never mutter,
For the road to hell is spread with butter.
And cake is cursed, and cream is awful,
And Satan is hiding in every waffle.
Mephistopheles lurks in provolone,
The devil is in each slice of bologna,
Beelzebub is a chocolate drop,
And Lucifer is a lollipop!

Give me this day my daily slice -
But cut it thin and toast it twice.
I beg upon my dimpled knees,
Deliver me from Jujubees.
And my when days of trial are done
And my war with malted milks is won,
Let me stand with the saints in heaven
In a shining robe - Size 37!

I can do it, Lord, if you'll show to me
The virtues of lettuce and celery.
If you'll teach me the evils of mayonnaise,
The sinfulness of hollandaise
And pasta a la milanese
And potatoes a la lyonaise
And crisp fried chicken from the south!
Lord, if you love me, SHUT MY MOUTH!
Eric Stott
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 15, 2012 1:51 pm

Was Leo Gorcey's literary career a Dead End?

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Re: Actors' literary interests

PostTue May 15, 2012 10:42 pm

Frederica wrote:
Rollo Treadway wrote:Was "Laugh and Live" (1917), the pioneering "self-help" book by Douglas Fairbanks, the first book by a film star to be published?


Are we sure these books were actually written by the film star in question? I'm sure they had ghosts then, too.


Here is the thread I started a couple of years ago
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7358" target="_blank
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