Born on this date: William A. Brady in 1863; Dame May Whitty in 1865; Charles Coburn in 1877; Martha Mattox in 1879; Barbara Everest in 1890; Helen Holmes in 1893; Moe Howard in 1897; Guy Lombardo in 1920; Mildred Natwick in 1905; Grete Natzler (Della Lind) in 1906; Louis Jourdan in 1921; Marisa Pavan in 1932; and Pier Angeli in 1932.
All links lead to each actor's IMDb page, set to open in a new tab.
Classic Movie Daily subscribers will find a pair of Charles Coburn images and one each of Helen Holmes, Guy Lombardo, and Pier Angeli inside today's email.
TCM TV Alerts through tomorrow at 7 am:
These titles play on TCM's US schedule and all quoted times are for my own local Eastern time zone.
—TCM's "Summer of Darkness" runs straight through 6 am Saturday morning. There's a big trio running consecutively beginning this morning with Gilda (1946) at 9:30 am, The Big Sleep (1946) at 11:30 am, and The Killers (1946) at 1:30 pm. Now I may kick and scream that this or that title is just a crime movie being pumped into something more by the noir label, but not here. These three classics are all most assuredly film noir. I still get a kick out of Gilda and The Killers, but The Big Sleep has begun to wear on me.
Crossfire (1947) is another goodie, playing at 6:30 pm, but my overall thoughts on the day are probably best summed up by what I'm most looking forward to: a six-minute short playing at 9:37 pm, The 42nd Street Special (1933).
The 42nd Street Special joins several early '30s Warner Bros. personalities on board a cross-country train in promotion of 42nd Street. I've probably seen it before, it's probably tucked on some DVD as a special feature (42nd Street perhaps?), but it's still a fun look at several of our favorites in their own skin. Only complaint, I'm pretty sure Warren William was on board, but he's not listed in the credits. Oh well, I'll blame Bette.
TCM Recommendation Box: If you're going to take the trouble to program a tight theme over a 24-hour period, please take the time to slot relevant shorts in between the features.
—Saturday morning, if you didn't get enough Nelson Eddy during Thursday's Jeanette MacDonald birthday bash, you can tune into Rosalie (1937) with Eddy and Eleanor Powell at 6:00 am Saturday. Quite a switch from the dark stuff!
—For more on Charles Coburn (born on this date) please see my biography. For more on Helen Holmes (also born on this date) I have an oldie in the archives, still hosted on the other part of the site, by Tammy Stone.
—Starting today I'm going to include an image at the bottom of this post (when I have one) picturing one or more of the stars named up above in the birthday section. If it's somebody who I have pictured on a postcard or still photo, then Classic Movie Daily subscribers will continue to see those images deeper into that day's email. But if it's someone like Martha Mattox, who I've never seen on a postcard or even a tobacco card, then I'll include a screen capture below. Assuming I have one on file. And I do. So look for Martha Mattox below. And others.
—Forget what I said about a coming Stan Laurel clippings post. Foolishly, I had links to all of the articles I wanted to use pasted onto a file that I never saved: a recent Windows update ate it up and spit nothing back out.
—Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. by Jacqueline T. Lynch is now available for purchase. I'll be reviewing it on the site at some point.
—Up to 25% off on all items in my eBay Store (25% on most items, in fact) through late Tuesday night. Click here to view items currently on sale in my eBay Store.
—Thank you again to those who took the time to reply to yesterday's request. The response was all positive and nobody fled the building (unsubscribed), so I'm going to keep it up. Keep what up, oh, you didn't read then, did you? Keep this up:
When Helen Twelvetrees gave birth in late 1932 she was only one of several new or soon-to-be new Hollywood mothers. I think I called it an epidemic of childbirth in tonight's draft, though I may soften that wording some. Tonight's work concentrated on Helen's leave from RKO and the career consequences of Hollywood motherhood.
Now I've got a pretty extensive film-related bookshelf, and I'm not aware of anyone really talking about Hollywood motherhood. Terrible mothers of child stars, yes. A stray angry memoir here and there talking about what a monster a movie star parent was, sure. But is anybody aware of a source that talks about the professional impact of motherhood in Hollywood? If so, shoot me an email, I'd love to check out your recommendation.
Here's a list of some of the new movie star moms during the early '30s: Norma Shearer, Dolores Costello, Bebe Daniels, Gloria Swanson, Mary Astor, June Collyer, Helen Twelvetrees, Arline Judge, Jobyna Ralston, Dixie Lee, Frances Dee, Joan Bennett, Karen Morley. Helen and her newborn often pose in photos with Arline Judge, Jobyna Ralston, and their babies, all born around the same time.
Best I could tell, least impacted career-wise was Norma Shearer, for obvious reasons, then Mary Astor and Karen Morley, who each ran into their own bits of non-mother related trouble soon enough. Frances Dee and Bebe Daniels seemed to do okay too, picking and choosing projects, often with their equally famous husbands. Joan Bennett did all right, especially after she began working for Walter Wanger, who she later married.
Surely some of these women choose to fade away. Dixie Lee Crosby and Mrs. Richard Arlen, Jobyna Ralston, seemed to do so.
But June Collyer didn't do much until coming back with husband Stu Erwin on TV in the '50s; Swanson periodically did something minor through 1950, when she did something legendary. I felt bad for Arline Judge, who I really like. She was being tabbed for much bigger things in '32, then disappeared several months, and never became anything more than she already had been. She's best remembered today for marrying 8 times.
My current draft includes a quote from a feature about a few of these same Hollywood mothers by Thornton Sargent. I thought this bit tidily summarized the risks:
"It has been computed statistically that the financial cost mounts to the staggering figure of $150,000, because of salary losses and reduced drawing power due to absence from the screen. The pessimists have even gone so far as to declare that a star's popularity, much less her figure, cannot withstand the adventure of motherhood."
I bolded the part I think is most important. That along with simply ticking off the boss at the studio.
I'm not sure how much of the non-Helen related mother stuff will make it into the final draft, depends how important those few paragraphs seem later. But I think motherhood is an interesting aspect of stardom, or loss of stardom, that we tend to gloss over when trying to remember what happened to this actress or that one. At the very least, each of the women named above took a half a year off from the screen.
That's all it takes to become yesterday's news.
More tomorrow, of something. We'll see what the day brings.
Issue count: Since going Daily on April 6, I've mailed posts to subscribers 72 out of 74 days.