Photo of the Day

Arbuckle reading La Vie Parisienne, c. 1920. Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbuckle (March 24, 1887 ? June 29, 1933).

The Destruction of Fatty Arbuckle

In the early heyday of Hollywood, Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbuckle was one of Tinseltown?s favourite comedians. A large man, his stature helped to rocket him to success as he used it in his physical comedy. By 1921, Arbuckle signed a one million dollar contract with Paramount, the largest of its kind at the time.

Roscoe ?Fatty? Arbuckle wasn?t Hollywood-hot. He didn?t have any high-profile romances, and the gossip magazines never complimented him on his dashing evening wear. But he was one of the best physical comedians of all time, and from 1914 to 1920, he effectively ruled the movie business. He was, and remains, a marvel to behold. Here was a man who, despite his mass, seemed to float across the screen, and whose comedy had deftness and grace.

But ?Fatty? was just Arbuckle?s picture personality, the name given to his various characters in their endlessly hilarious approaches to ?hayseed visits big city; hjinks ensue.? Off-screen, he refused to answer to the name, making explicit the distinction between textual and extra-textual persona that studio publicity worked so hard to obviate. Yet it was this off-screen persona that would eventually lead to his demise, when an alcohol-soaked weekend led to the most dramatic fall from grace in Hollywood history. This guy was?ruined. On the surface, Arbuckle?s actions were the scandal. But as the details surrounding the event and its handling have come to light, it?s become clear that the true scandal was the willingness with which the studio heads and the media threw the prominent star under the figurative bus.

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Maneater: Theda Bara in a series of unconventional portraits. Her publicist claimed it was her lover and that not even the grave could separate them.

Theda Bara?

?The Vamp? of the Silent Screen

?A vampire is a good woman with a bad reputation, or rather a good woman who has had possibilities and wasted them?

?? Florenz Ziegfeld

The queen of the vamps was one of America?s most mysterious movie stars ? Theda Bara. The magnetic actress, with her steely gaze and jet-black hair, was the prototype for a movie bad girl. She shook convention so dramatically that a critic called her a ?flaming comet of the cinema firmament.?

Bara might be the most significant celebrity pioneer whose movies you?ve never seen. She was the movie industry?s first sex symbol; the first femme fatale; the first silent film actress to have a fictional identity invented for her by publicists and sold through a receptive media to a public who was happy to be conned; and she might have been America?s first homegrown goth.

According to the studio biography, Theda Bara (anagram of “Arab Death”) was born in the Sahara to a French artiste and his Egyptian concubine and possessed supernatural powers.

Progressive, liberated women were clearly so?frightening?one hundred years ago?that equating them to undead, bloodthirsty creatures borne of Satan didn?t seem so unusual.

In the late 1910s, women were on the verge of winning the right to equal representation in the voting booth. Women were asserting power in unions, and, in the wake of disasters like the?Triangle Factory Fire, those unions were influencing government policy. They were taking control of their destinies, their fortunes, even their sexuality (Margaret Sanger?s first birth control clinic opened in 1916).

This surging independence came just as the entertainment industry heralded the female form as one of its primary attractions. Ziegfeld?s sassy, flesh-filled?Follies?? and its many imitators ? defined the Broadway stage, mixing music, sex and glamour with a morality-shattering frankness.

But it was the birth of motion pictures that gave the allure of female bodies an unearthly, flickering glow, as nickelodeon shorts became feature-length films, and the first era of the movie siren was born.

Combine the power of liberation with the erotic potential of cinema, and in the late 1910s, you got the vampire (or as we would come to know, the ?vamp?).

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Photo of the Day

My heart is as pure as the driven slush – Tallulah Bankhead

Tallulah Dahling

“Hello, Dahling . . . I’ll come and make love to you at five o’clock. If I’m late start without me.”
Her voice, her wit, and her face were captivating.

On why she called everyone?dahling?she stated that she was terrible with names and once introduced a friend of hers as Martini. ?Her name was actually Olive.

Tallulah, with her signature ?dah-ling?s and her notorious peccadilloes and her endlessly caricatured baritonal gurgle of a voice?a voice that was steeped as deep in sex as the human voice can go without drowning?would be easy to dismiss as a joke if she hadn?t also been a woman of outsize capacities. As it is, the story of her life reaches beyond gossip and approaches tragedy.
It was Tallulah’s real-life behaviour that really got people’s attention.

Tallulah’s scandalous career began at her seminary when, aged twelve, she fell in love with Sister Ignatius.? As she grew to adulthood she developed her romantic and sexual interests in a way which can really only be called trisexual: she would bed heterosexual men, preferably well hung, women and homosexual men, again preferably well-hung.? She stumbled across this life unprepared but took to it with enthusiasm and a breathtaking lack of concern for the proprieties.? She once said: ?My father always warned me about men, but he never said anything about women!? And I don?t give a stuff what people say about me so long as they say something!?? She managed to keep them talking for the rest of her life, but her most admirable trick was always to pre-empt the insidious leakage of malicious gossip with reflexive innuendos so frank as to seem hardly believable.? Personal eccentricities, such as the refusal ever to wash her hair in anything other than Energine dry-cleaning fluid, probably helped to create the conditions in which she then felt able to defy more serious conventions in riskier ways.

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Photo of the Day

Errol Flynn Pictured With Beverley Aadland at The Lido Nightclub on Swallow Street, just off Piccadilly, 5th May 1959. The Couple Starred In The Film Cuban Rebel Girls And Had A Highly Publicised Relationship For The Last Two Years Of Flynn?s Life. Photo: Rex Features

In like Flynn Warts and All!!

?All around the world I was equated with sex?

-Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn once said: ?I like my whisky old, and my women young? and the above photo, while not saying anything about his choice of whisky, certainly says something about his taste in women, or should it be girls. He was one of Hollywood?s all-time great ladies? men ? a spirited womaniser who inspired the expression ?in like Flynn.?

The picture above of Flynn, from May 1959, was taken a month or so before his fiftieth birthday and he?s accompanied by his girlfriend, Beverly Aadland, who was still a few months from her 17th birthday that September. According to Beverly?s mother, a former showgirl called Florence and who wrote about Flynn and Aadland?s romance in a book called The Big Love, by the summer of 1959 they had already been together for a year.

His tastes in young women caught up with him in 1943, when he was tried for statutory rape. Two underage girls (?jailbait? and ?San Quentin quail?) claimed he had bedded them. Flynn was acquitted.

Flynn spent his breaks during the trial hitting on the teenager who ran the courthouse?s cigarette stand. Flynn invited her home ? and she later became his second wife.

Errol Flynn was that guy ? that one guy, we all know them ? who was too handsome for his own good. Early on, he figured out what his looks could do for him, and he rode that wave to various destinations. He was a textbook womaniser, an astoundingly successful player ? a lech, a cad, a rake, and any number of other British-sounding adjectives that describe the combination of sexual appetite and the charisma required to feed it.

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On Frank Sinatra: ?The poor guy was literally without a job. He said all he could do was play saloons and crappy night clubs. His ego and self-esteem was at its lowest ever. And mine was practically at its peak. So it was hell for him. He was such a proud man — to have a woman pay all his bills was a bitch.??AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Ava Gardner

I wish to live until 150 years old but the day I die, I wish it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whisky in the other

Caution Bad Language

The screen goddess once said: ?My vices and scandals are more interesting than anything anyone can make up.?

Ava Gardner knew how to pose for the camera. She?d slit her eyes, throw her head at an angle, and the photographer would somehow catch something about her ? not elegance or grace, exactly, but something that was strong, sexual, and almost animal, as if she were zeroing in on you, weighing your merits, and readying to pounce. And for most of the ?40s and ?50s, she was Hollywood?s most alluring femme fatale, an image solidified both on and off the screen.

Once Hollywood?s most irresistible woman?wed to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra?by 1988 Ava Gardner was nearly broke, ravaged by illness, and intent on selling her memoirs. But the man she chose as her ghostwriter, Peter Evans, had his own problems, not least a legal war with Sinatra.

In The first week of January 1988, Ava Gardner asked Peter Evans to ghost her memoirs. Since Evans had never met Ava Gardner, the call, late on a Sunday evening, was clearly a hoax. ?Sounds great, Ava,? Evans played along. ?Does Frank approve? I don?t want to upset Frank.? There was a small silence, then a brief husky laugh.

“Everybody kisses everybody else in this crummy business all the time. It’s the kissiest business in the world.”

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Guest Post: Stop Listening To Hollywood

Guest Post: Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. After working as a freelance music journalist, auto worker, railway worker, taxi driver, small business owner, volunteer firefighter and graphic designer, Lushington Dalrymple Brady decided he finally had an interesting enough resume to be a writer. Miraculously, he survived university Humanities departments with both his critical faculties intact and a healthy disdain for Marxism. He blogs at A Devil?s Curmudgeon.??Lushington D. Brady is a pseudonym, obviously.

Voters in the United States, Britain, Europe, or anywhere in the Western world are grown adults, as perfectly capable as anyone else of making up their minds who to vote for as they are of driving their cars, going to their jobs, buying their houses, raising their families, and tying their shoelaces. Yet hardly a day goes by that these rational adults aren?t subjected to a barrage of carping, hectoring, condescending lectures about who they should vote for by Hollywood celebrities who seem to labor under the delusion that anyone who isn?t a Hollywood celebrity is a functional child who needs to be gently but firmly guided towards the right decisions.

Without the collective wisdom of Hollywood, they seem to think, the rest of us would soon send the world to Hell in a handcart. Only the people who brought you Transformers and Jack and Jill can save us from the consequences of our own collective stupidity.
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, Hollywood, but go to hell. Because the blunt truth is that most of the celebrities aren?t very well educated or informed, they only act that way. Acting smarter than they are, after all, is what they do. It?s all they do.

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Photo Of The Day

A scan showing no activity in the right parietal and occipital regions of Simon Lewis's brain. Were you to meet the upbeat, affable Lewis, you wouldn't know there's a high-tech device helping to move his left foot smoothly, or that he's "technically unsighted" (his computer has an extra-sharp monitor so that he can see it), or that he lives in "flat time" ? past, present and future all seem much the same to him.

A scan showing no activity in the right parietal and occipital regions of Simon Lewis’s brain. Were you to meet the upbeat, affable Lewis, you wouldn’t know there’s a high-tech device helping to move his left foot smoothly, or that he’s “technically unsighted” (his computer has an extra-sharp monitor so that he can see it), or that he lives in “flat time” ? past, present and future all seem much the same to him.

The Man with the Missing Brain

The Story of a Horrific Accident and the Life that Followed it?

?If Simon Lewis? life was a movie, it would seem far too fantastical to be true. In the early 1990s, Lewis was a rising producer in Hollywood, fresh off the success of ?Look Who?s Talking,? the? John Travolta-starring comedy about a talking baby that ended up being one of the top-grossing movies of 1989. Then, Lewis? career came to a sudden end, after a car accident killed his wife, mangled Lewis? body and obliterated a large part of his brain. Against all odds, Lewis survived, and over the course of the past couple of decades, he has largely recovered from near-total memory loss.

In 1994, he and his wife went to dinner to celebrate their new car, and they?re driving when a van blows through a stop sign in a residential street at 75 mph. Their car flies through the air, slams into a tree and lands in a garden. Simon?s wife was killed instantly, and Simon broke everything you could break and lost a third of one of his brain hemispheres. He spent the next decade and a half recovering one piece of surgery after another

“Are you ready for our drive then?? Simon Lewis, comes hobbling into his parents? living room in Sherman Oaks, a suburb of the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles. An Englishman by birth, his public-school accent remains unsullied by nearly 40 years in the United States. ?Brave man!? he chuckles.

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Elizabeth Short was known by various names: "Betty" (or "Bette"), "Beth" and, at least to some of her friends, "The Black Dahlia."

Elizabeth Short was known by various names: “Betty” (or “Bette”), “Beth” and, at least to some of her friends, “The Black Dahlia.”

She Was A Good Girl

She Was A Good Girl!

Phoebe Short

After identifying the remains of her daughter, Elizabeth (?Betty?) Short

Los Angeles, California

Jan. 15, 1947: The mutilated remains of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short are found in Los Angeles. Her murder remains unsolved.

There?s never been a shortage of suspects in the Black Dahlia murder ? but police have never been able to pin the crime on any of them.

After the mutilated body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short ? cut in half at the waist and drained of blood ? was found in a vacant Los Angeles lot on this day, Jan. 15, in 1947, dozens of people confessed to killing the woman who newspapers dubbed ?the Black Dahlia.?

It became the most sensational murder story in a city rife with sensational murders, and fame-seekers all over town wanted to play a part. Over the years, the number of people claiming responsibility grew to hundreds, most of whom detectives ruled out almost immediately.

One promising admission came a few weeks after the murder, from an Army corporal who said he had been drinking with Short in San Francisco a few days before her body was discovered ? then blacked out, with no memory of his activity until he came to again in a cab outside New York?s Penn Station. (Short, an aspiring movie star, had a fondness for servicemen, according to The Black Dahlia, the James Ellroy novel based on her murder.)

Asked if he thought he had committed the murder, the corporal said yes, and became a prime suspect until evidence emerged that he had actually been on his military base the day of Short?s death.

Then there was the woman who became convinced ? in 1991, after therapy chipped away at 40-year-old repressed memories ? that her late father was the murderer. Police dug up the yard of her childhood home, where she believed they?d find his weapons or the remains of other victims. They did find a rusty knife, farm tools, and costume jewelry ? but no evidence to tie him to the Black Dahlia case or any other murders.

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Photo Of The Day

Time Magazine Cover: July 28, 1947. Hedda Hopper is the handsome, headlong gossip whose syndicated column, usually titled "Hollywood," written in prose of an inspired spasticity, daily gives her millions of readers the illusion that they have been behind the sets, the bushes and deep into some of Hollywood's better bed-&-bathrooms...

Time Magazine Cover: July 28, 1947.
Hedda Hopper is the handsome, headlong gossip whose syndicated column, usually titled “Hollywood,” written in prose of an inspired spasticity, daily gives her millions of readers the illusion that they have been behind the sets, the bushes and deep into some of Hollywood’s better bed-&-bathrooms…

Duchess of Dish

??Two of the cruellest, most primitive punishments our town deals out to those who fall from favour are the empty mailbox and the silent telephone.?

Those are words spoken by Hedda Hopper, popular gossip columnist during Hollywood?s golden age.

Hedda was ?a sartorial extremist, preening in headgear that varied from cabbage rose confections to plumed saucerlike contraptions that seemed poised for flight.? Her hats were ?garnished with toy horns, Eiffel Towers and Easter eggs ? So outr? were her hats that they were spoofed on the cover of Time, in an illustration portraying her with a telephone, a microphone and a typewriter perched atop her curls. Those hats, and a wardrobe of mostly pink and lavender suits, riveted Westchester housewives, young Hollywood hopefuls? and studio heads alike.

Hollywood marriages, affairs, breakups, bad behaviour, and political leanings were her ammunition. Her gun was her syndicated column, which at its height reached some 35 million readers. If you didn?t take her call, you were dead. If you lied to her, you were dead. If you gave a good story to her rival Louella Parsons ? you were dead.

Their views and news were often whimsical, wrong, or both, but a thing like that didn’t matter. In flat prose laced with gosh-golly enthusiasm they reported marriages and births that never happened. In the ’50s Louella assured everybody that Ronald Reagan was without political ambitions, and Hedda once soured on a young actress because she went to a wedding without a hat on. Large talents often made them cranky, and besides Liz they took on Welles, Brando, Garbo, Olivier, Chaplin, Hepburn and Bogart.

Even the Axis followed them: German propagandists during WWII showed photos of Hedda’s extravagant hats as examples of American decadence.

Louella’s columns were sprinkled with “swarthy Mexicans” and “pickaninnies,” and she once called Mussolini her favourite hero. Hedda decried racial intermixing, was a feverish Commie hunter and led the attack that drove Chaplin to Europe.

In their approach to life and work, which were essentially the same thing, they seemed variations on the same cartoon. They both swore like troopers, demanded and gave loyalty and feuded with each other, mostly because it was good for business. Hopper, who couldn’t type, dictated her column at the top of her lungs.

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Photo Of The Day

Photographer- Ralph Crane/Time Inc owned. Black cats and their owners in line for audition and casting for "Tales of Terror". Hollywood California

Photographer- Ralph Crane/Time Inc owned.
Black cats and their owners in line for audition and casting for “Tales of Terror”. Hollywood California

Black Cat Auditions

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