Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fritzi Fern (1920s Starlet)

Fritzi Fern was born Fritzi Fern Blower on September 19, 1907, in Akron, Ohio. After her parents divorced she moved to Los Angeles with her mother and brother. Fritzi began her career as a child actress and made films for the Greyhound Motion Picture Company. In 1922 producer Harry Burns cast her in a series of two-reelers starring Little Napoleon. She spent the next several years dancing in vaudeville. Fritzi signed a contract with Universal Studios in 1928. Unfortunately the only movie she made at the studio was The Charlaton. She was supposed to costar with Reginald Denny in Clear In The Decks but she was replaced before filming began. In 1929 she appeared on stage in Earl Carroll's Revue. Fritzi  had a small part in the 1932 Western serial The Last Frontier. It would be her last acting role. In the Fall of 1932 she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery to remove it. Tragically she never recovered and died on September 20, 1932. Fritzi was only twenty-five years old.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mabel Normand

Mabel Normand was born on November 9, 1892 in Staten Island, New York. When she was a teenager she worked as an artists model. Her acting career began at Vitagraph Studios where she appeared in dozens of of short films. Mabel met producer Mack Sennett who took her to Hollywood. With her beautiful face and flair for comedy she quickly became a star. Mabel fell in love with Sennett but they had a tumultuous relationship. In 1914 she starred in Tillie's Fractured Romance, the first full length motion picture. She often worked with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Charlie Chaplin. Mabel also co-wrote and co-directed many of Chaplin's movies. Her nickname was "Madcap Mabel". At the age of twenty-three she started her own film company with Mack Sennett. Sadly her personal and business relationship with Sennett came to an end when he cheated on her. She signed a $3,500 per week contract with Samuel Goldwyn in 1918.

 Her success continued with hit movies like Mickey and The Extra Girl. Mabel developed a reputation as a party girl who loved to drink and curse. She also had a serious cocaine habit. In 1922 she was involved in a major scandal when her close friend director William Desmond Taylor was murdered. Taylor had been madly in love with Mabel and she was the last person to see him alive. His murder has never been solved. Mabel continued to make movies and signed with Hal Roach studios. She impulsively married actor Lew Cody in 1926. The couple never lived together but they remained married. Mabel's drinking and partying began to affect health and she had to stop working, Her final movie was the 1927 comedy One Hour Married. In late 1929 she entered a sanitarium suffering from tuberculosis. She died on February 23, 1930 at the young age of thirty-seven. Mabel was buried at Calvary Cemetery in California.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mabel Todd (1930s Starlet)

Mabel Todd was born Mabel Dobbs on August 13, 1907 in Los Angeles, California. Sadly her mother died when was very young. Mabel had a lovely singing voice and began her career in vaudeville. She and her sister Marcia often performed as a duo. Mabel started singing on the radio where she nicknamed "The Little Ray of Sunshine". She married comedian Morey Amsterdam in 1933 and the couple worked together on The Laff and Swing Club radio show. Mabel made her film debut in the 1937 musical Varsity Show. She signed a contract with Warner Brothers and was given supporting roles in Hollywood Hotel and Gold Diggers In Paris. With her pouty lips and high pitched voice Mabel was typecast as a ditzy "dumb blonde" comedienne. She was a popular personality on the Warner Brothers lot where she was often seen riding her scooter. In April 1942 Mabel appeared in one of the first televised talent shows.

                                With Ted Healy                                                                        

The following year she starred in the film The Ghost And The Guest. Her husband Morey had written the script for her. During World War 2 she traveled across the country entertaining the troops in a USO show. Mabel and Morey split up in 1945. Their divorce was so bitter that he refused to ever speak about her again. By this time Mabel's movie career had stalled and she could only get bit parts. Her last role was playing a florist in the comedy Wife Wanted. She continued to work on the radio and appeared in several stage shows. Mabel made headlines in 1950 when she divorced her second husband Matthew A. Sontino. In court she accused him of beating her with a shoe and giving her a black eye. She retired from show business and lived a quiet life away from the spotlight. Mabel died on June 2, 1977 at the age of sixty-nine. She was cremated and her ashes are buried at the Queen Heaven's cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Betty Hutton

"Some kind of fun lasts longer than others." ~ Betty

Betty Hutton was born Elizabeth June Thornburg on February 26, 1921, in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was the youngest of two daughters. Betty's father abandoned them and her mother struggled with alcoholism. To help support the family Betty began singing professionally when she was thirteen. She moved to New York and appeared in several Broadway plays. After signing with Paramount in 1942 she made her film debut in the musical The Fleet's In. It was a hit and Betty became one of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses. Her success continued with starring roles The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, The Perils of Pauline, and Let's Face It. Meanwhile her older sister, Marion Hutton, became a popular big band singer. In 1945 Betty married Ted Briskin, a camera manufacturer. They had two daughters - Candy and Lindsay. Betty divorced him and married choreographer Charles O'Curran in 1952. That same year she played a circus performer in The Greatest Show on Earth. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Betty was now earning five thousand dollars a week. She wanted her husband to direct her next film but when Paramount refused she walked out on her contract. Betty was labeled a temperamental diva and her marriage to Charles ended.

Her last film was the 1957 drama Spring Reunion. She made occasional guest appearances on television shows like "What's My Line?" and "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show". Her 1959 television series "The Betty Hutton Show" was canceled after only one season. Betty's third marriage, to producer Alan Livingston, lasted five years. She married musician Peter Candoli in 1960 and had a daughter named Caroline. Betty found work singing in nightclubs and in Las Vegas. She and Peter divorced in 1967. By this time Betty had a serious addiction to prescription drugs. She suffered a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide. With all of her money gone she was forced her to take a job cleaning at a church in Rhode Island. Eventually she was able get off drugs and turn her life around. During the 1970s she earned a bachelors degree from Salve Regina University and starting teaching theater. Betty spent her final years living in Palm Springs. In 2000 she made a rare television appearance on Turner Classic Movie's "Private Screenings". She passed away on January 25, 2007 after being diagnosed with colon cancer. She was buried at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California. None of her children attended her funeral.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Gladys Frazin (Stage Actress)

Gladys Frazin was born on June 21, 1900 in Chicago, Illinois. She began her career on the New York stage. In 1918 she married theatrical agent Leo Lowenstein. Their son, Leo Jr, was born two years later. Gladys starred on Broadway in The Masked Woman and toured the country in White Cargo. She became a popular stage star and was featured on the cover of The National Police Gazette. In 1924 she made her film debut in the drama Let No Man Put Asunder. She left her husband and married actor Douglas Gilmore but they were divorced in 1925. Her third marriage, to Richard W. Lehne, only lasted a month. Gladys went to London to star in a stage production of The Trial of Mary Dugan. She married comedian Monty Banks in 1929.

They costarred together in The Compulsory Husband and Monty adopted her son. Gladys appeared in some British films but she never became a major star. Her final role was in the 1931 drama The Other Woman. In April of 1932 she disappeared for several days after having a nervous breakdown. Soon after Monty filed for divorced and Gladys moved in with her parents in New York City. She and Monty announced they were going to remarry in 1934 but they broke up again. Gladys was diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffered from severe depression. On March 9, 1939 she committed suicide by jumping out of her sixth floor bedroom window. She was only thirty-eight years old. Gladys left a suicide note that said "Mother and Dad, Please forgive me for what I am doing. I cannot suffer any longer. Love, Gladys."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Irene Lentz (Fashion Designer)

"Anything new and beautiful makes one think beautiful thoughts." ~ Irene

Irene Maud Lentz was born on December 8, 1901 in Baker. Montana. When she was a teenager she moved to Hollywood to become an actress. She found work as a Mack Sennett bathing beauty and appeared in the comedies Picking Peaches and A Tailor-Made Man. Irene married director F. Richard Jones in 1929. Tragically he died a year later from tuberculosis. To make extra money Irene decided to open a dress shop. In 1933 she was asked to design the clothes for Lily Damita in Goldie Gets Along. She quickly became one of Hollywood's top costumes designers. Irene had a passionate affair with actor Gary Cooper. She later said he was the only man she really loved. In 1936 she married Elliot Gibbons, a writer. Irene became the head costume designer at MGM where she created iconic costumes for Lana Turner and Judy Garland.

  Irene and Jeanette MacDonald                                                                                     

She was nominated for an academy Award in 1948 for her work on B.F.'s Daughter. Eventually she left MGM to open her own fashion house. Unfortunately her marriage to Elliot was troubled and they began living apart. In 1960 Irene's close friend Doris Day asked her to design the clothes for Midnight Lace. She received her second Academy Award nomination for her work on the film. By this time Irene had a serious drinking problem and was suffering from depression. On November 15, 1962 Irene checked into the Knickerbocker hotel in Hollywood. She committed suicide by jumping out of a bathroom window. Irene was sixty-one years old. In her suicide note she wrote ""I'm sorry. This is the best way." She was buried next to her first husband at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

                                                                                                              Irene and Betty Francisco

Olive Thomas's Nude Photos

Olive Thomas was a popular silent movie actress. During her career she posed nude for several artists including Alberto Vargas.