The Hitchcock Blondes

Who were the Hitchcock blondes? They were a trademark of Alfred Hitchcock’s many movies. I should say one of the trademarks because another was his habit of appearing in tiny cameo roles Horror and suspense were Hitchcock’s true specialities and this was enhanced – deliberately – by his use of what he referred to as ‘icy blondes’. See the quote below. In the middle of the suspense, their was...

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Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford: Loves and private life. Legendary Hollywood actress Joan Crawford was the subject of  vitriolic exposé book written by her adopted daughter. Whether these revelations are true is a matter of conjecture but Christina claimed that her mother had adopted her and other children to enhance her fame, rather than because of maternal feelings. The book reveals stories of abuse and tells of Joan’s affairs – with both...

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Who Was Oleg Cassini?

Who was Oleg Cassini? Oleg Cassini and Grace Kelly If anyone today is familiar with the name of Oleg Cassini, that’s probably because he was the couturier of Jackie Kennedy; he designed those strange clothes she was so fond of that look so odd to us today. But what’s much more interesting – and slightly scandalous – is the affair he had with actress Grace Kelly before she became Princess Grace of Monaco. In...

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Hollywood’s Finest Redheads

An appreciation of big screen redheads by Andy Royston “I would always hesitate to recommend as a life’s companion a young lady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair. Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.” P.G. Wodehouse – Very Good Jeeves “Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.”  ― Lucille Ball In 2014 something extraordinary happened. A rubescence of...

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Was Carmen Nigro King Kong?

Carmen Nigro: The man who thought he was King Kong In the early 1980s, Mrs Evelyn Nigro was thoroughly fed up of having a gorilla costume in her Chicago basement apartment. The thing was over fifty years old. It had mildew and it was getting smelly. She told her husband, Carmen – a seventy seven year old security guard, that it had to go. It was either the costume or her. It was playing havoc with her allergies. Reluctantly,...

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Who Was Barbara Payton?

Who was Barbara Payton? There are some strange and often sad stories that have come out of what was called the Golden Era of Hollywood. Barbara Payton’s is one of them. Blonde and attractive Barbara, seen here with Gregory Peck, was sure of her own stardom. She bought into the Hollywood press releases about herself. She thought she was a huge star. Yet today, hardly no-one remembers the name and she died alone aged only thirty...

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The Murder of Sal Mineo

Who was Sal Mineo? Twenty years before he was murdered, Sal Mineo had been a Hollywood heartthrob. He specialised in playing young toughs such as his part in the James Dean movie, Rebel Without a Cause. But by the time of his murder in February 1976 his career had spent some years in decline. But he wasn’t depressed about his situation. True, he had sold his palatial home and was living in a $75 a month rented apartment but he...

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Who Was Erik Rhodes?

Erik Rhodes is one of those actors from the dim and distant past whose name no one remembers. But the instant he appears on screen you know. He was a Broadway bit-parter born in Oklahoma who hit upon a role that propelled him to stardom. He played a thick-skinned suave continental gigolos so well that he would almost steal the show from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with the finest barrage of one-liners in movie history. Twice. Who...

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Clark Gable’s Secret Daughter

The secret daughter of Clark Gable. In the nineteen thirties, actor Clark Gable was known as the King of Hollywood. Tall, dark and handsome, he was considered to be every woman’s dream man. Although he was married four times, for many years it was thought that he had only one child – a boy who was born four months after Clark’s death. But for many years, Hollywood insiders kept a secret – Clark Gable had...

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Little Known Details About the Beautiful Audrey Hepburn

Little Known Details About the Beautiful Audrey Hepburn. When we hear the name Audrey Hepburn, we each probably visualize her in our mind in one movie or another. She has overcome all generation barriers as an example of style and class. In fact, she may be the first we think of when it comes to style. What was your favorite movie that starred Ms. Hepburn? Roman Holiday? Sabrina? Breakfast at Tiffanys? She was featured in some...

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Helene Stanley

Who was Helene Stanley? There are many people who left  an important legacy to the world of Hollywood movies but I imagine that if most of us were asked to list them, the name of Helene Stanley wouldn’t feature. But she left a lasting legacy to the Golden Era of Hollywood and it will probably surprise you. She certainly made a handful of movies but her lasting legacy was to make two films that have never been seen by the public...

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Who Was Butterfly McQueen?

Who was Butterfly McQueen? I love old movies yet I have to admit  that there’s one – a very famous one indeed – that I haven’t seen. I don’t know why. But I do know about one of the actors in the film. That’s Butterfly McQueen. She is one of the most memorable of the cast (even to people like me who have only seen clips but never the full film) and yet, she hated the part. She took the role because...

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Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor

Three sisters, twenty marriages, nineteen husbands and one child. The Gabor sisters were all born during the First World War. They were born in Hungary, all three ended up in the States and between them they married twenty times. There were fifteen divorces, a couple of annulments yet only one child resulted from these many unions.   Zsa Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor was probably the most famous of the three sisters — and she was the...

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Thelma Todd

Who Killed Thelma Todd? On a Monday morning December  1935, Thelma Todd’s body was found. She was in a car that was parked in the garage of her lover, Roland West. It was the exhaust fumes from the Packard convertible that had caused her death. Police rushed to the scene above the Pacific Highway between Malibu an Santa Monica. They took photographs, questioned locals and discovered that Thelma had bruises and that her face was...

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Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Sinatra

Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Sinatra. Embed from Getty Images In The Beginning There Was Francis… Francis Albert Sinatra, born on December 12, 1915, in an upstairs tenement in Hoboken, New Jersey, would grow up to be a force to be reckoned with in America’s music industry. No one knew that yet and his birth certainly didn’t signify that kind of success. He weighed 13.5 pounds at birth and was delivered...

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Who Was Margaret Hamilton?

The lady you see in the photograph is Margaret Hamilton. Do you recognise her? The chances are that you’ve seen her on the screen, especially in her most famous role. She played that part in an old movie – you can tell from the photograph that she’s not an actress of today but she was still appearing on the screen in 1982. Although her most famous part was in a movie dating from 1939, I imagine that a good percentage...

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Why is Maureen O’Hara Buried in Arlington?

Rest In Peace, Maureen O’Hara, 1920-2015 Maureen O’Hara, beautiful talented actress, passed away on October 24th, 2015. The news stated that her burial is to be in Arlington National Cemetery. Many people, including this author, wondered why she would be buried there, since she was not a veteran. First, let’s learn a bit about this lady and her acting career. ‘Tis Herself: An Autobiography About Maureen Maureen...

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Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. In the golden era of Hollywood, few theatregoers realised that these two top actresses were sisters. Olivia was the eldest of the two. They were both born in Japan, to British parents. Their father was a patent attorney who had moved to Japan to further his career. He taught there and also ran his own law firm. The mother of the two girls was an actress who had given up her stage career...

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Gorgeous Rita Hayworth

When I was a kid, one of the most popular movie actresses was the glamorous Rita Hayworth. She was the epitome of the beautiful stars coming out of Hollywood  plus she had red hair. The first time I ever saw her was in a black and white movie, so I had no idea she was red-headed. But when I later saw a  movie called “Down to Earth” there she was with her gorgeous red-gold locks. I didn’t know they weren’t...

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Who Was Peg Entwistle?

Who was Peg Entwistle? Peg Entwistle was British girl. To be accurate she was born in 1908 in Wales  to English parents. She was the eldest child of Robert Entwistle, an actor. It’s unclear whether her mother died or whether her parents were divorced but her father married again and Peg acquired two half-brothers. By 1913, the family had moved to the United States but their home was soon disrupted when Robert Entwistle was the...

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Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?

Luca Brasi’s killer: Murdered by the mob. Who hasn’t seen The Godfather? There were some pretty gruesome scenes, that’s for sure, and one of those was the murder of Luca Brasi. Fictional Brasi was the bodyguard of Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. When Brasi was murdered in the movie, a bit player was the killer and he, Norman Bacchiocchi, was later killed by the mob — in real life. ‘He sleeps with...

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The Disappearance of Jean Spangler

Who was Jean Spangler? Millions of girls each year travel to Hollywood in hopes of becoming famous. This was especially so in the late nineteen forties and fifties, as the lure of fame and money drew women from all over the nation to the home of the movie industry.   Many tried, but few were chosen to become big-time movie stars. Starlets were the girls who played extras and bit parts in films where the focus was on the actual...

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Rudolph Valentino

The Death of a Heartthrob. Rudolph Valentino was only thirty one when he died in 1926 and the world – well, the female theatre-going world – was distraught. He was one ofthe most popular silent movies stars of the day notably for the film The Sheik. This film told of a young woman- a British aristocrat – who was kidnapped in North Africa by the supposedly brutal, but undeniably sexy and smouldering,Valentino in the...

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Marni Nixon

Who was Marni Nixon? Is the name unfamiliar to you? The chances are that you don’t recognise the face either. But it’s very likely that you know her voice. Marni was responsible for some of the most famous singing voices heard on the silver screen.. Have you heard the soundtrack from My Fair Lady for example? Or seen the film? That’s not Audrey Hepburn that you’re listening to – it’s the voice of...

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Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When I was  kid, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films often used to be shown on the television on Sunday afternoons. Despite the fact that they were about thirty years old by that time, they were truly entrancing. I loved the music, the dancing, the humour and most of all, Ginger Roger’s  frocks. But it was one of those wonderful dresses – the one you see above – that cause chaos when...

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Jerry Lewis saves Dean Martin from the Mob

When Jerry Lewis saved Dean Martin from an angry mobster. For ten years, ‘Italian-stallion’ Dean Martin and the rather less fortunate-looking Jerry Lewis worked as a double act. They worked together for ten years – from 1946 until 1956. They were popular on television but also toured the country performing in nightclubs. It was in one of these that Dean Martin was very nearly shot by a mobster – until Jerry...

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Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio … and the doorman

The story of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio … and the doorman. Marilyn Monroe was known for so many aspects of her life (including her involvement with the Kennedys, of course) but a subject of speculation is how her husbands could have been such completely different characters. Her first husband, who she married when she was just sixteen, was  a US Marine. The marriage ended quite quickly. Her second husband was almost as...

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Is Shirley Temple Still Alive?

Is Shirley Temple Still Alive? Shirley Temple was a child star who sang and danced into the hearts of children and grownups alike, starring in movies in the 1930s. She grew up to become a wife, mom, and grandmother, a diplomat, and a breast cancer survivor. Shirley was born April 23, 1928. She died February 10, 2014, at age 85 from natural causes, at her home in California. Shirley Temple Facts at a Glance Did you know . . . Shirley...

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Cars on Film – Charlie Croker’s Aston Martin DB4

Andy Royston follows the fate of one of England’s most famous cars. Garage Manager: You must have shot an awful lot of tigers, sir. Charlie Croker: Yes, I used a machine gun. Charlie had just done time in the slammer but wasn’t about to let the valet parking company know. He’d left his silver Aston Martin DB4 in the giant underground parking lot underneath Hyde Park in London. He didn’t go there directly....

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Did Lana Turner Murder Johnny Stompanato?

Eric Root claimed that Lana Turner murdered her lover. In a sensational and highly publicised case in 1958, it was claimed that small-time gangster, Johnny Stompanato, had been murdered my his mistress’ daughter. His mistress was the famous Hollywood actress Lana Turner. The court ruled that Lana’s daughter,Cheryl Crane – then fourteen years old – had been responsible for the fatal stabbing. It was ruled as...

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“The Blob” Introducing Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen and The Blob. Actor Steve McQueen seemed to come out of nowhere into fame as a movie actor. But he really did have a rather difficult beginning; his first leading role in a movie was in a “space invader” plot that he believed would never make any money. What’s more, he was 27 years old and cast in the role of a teenager. He was so convinced the film was doomed to failure he took his pay upfront with no...

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Who was Marli Renfro?

Marli Renfro: You know  her well. The chances are that if you like movies, you know who Marli Renfro was but you might not recognise the name. What’s more, I’m willing to bet that you’ve seen her completely naked. She was in one of the most famous films – ever. But few people know her name. She was born in America in 1938. She grew up to be very attractive and she was only in her early twenties when she took...

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Who Was Mara Scherbatoff?

Mara Scherbatoff, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller had met in 1951 but by 1956, the press were aware that the couple were soon to marry.  Monroe and Miller were at his farmhouse home in Roxbury and reporters were gathering in number outside waiting for news. The couple had promised to give a press conference on the afternoon of June 29th. The media suspected that the couple would announce...

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Lana Turner & Johnny Stompanato

Lana Turner & Johnny Stompanato. Lana Turner was a Hollywood actress and pin up girl. She had a tempestuous life – she was married eight times – but probably her most famous relationship was that she had with Johnny Stompanato. Between husbands number four and five, Lana took Johnny to be her lover. He had underworld connections. According to Lana, Johnny was desperate to marry her but she objected to his life on the...

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Cary Grant: Early Years

[slider] Cary Grant: An actor to remember There can’t be many people who are unaware of this debonair actor from the golden era of Hollywood. What’s particularly interesting is his background. Where did Cary Grant come from? What was his background and his career before he became a famous movie actor? Sometimes, people are surprised to find out that Grant, often seen as the epitome of the American gentleman, was actually...

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In praise of sensational women – Debbie Allen

Andy Royston introduces a new series of articles on the women in popular culture who made his  world quake. “I don’t have time for prima donnas. You want to become a dancer? You’re going to have to work.You’ve got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here’s where you start paying in sweat. I want to see sweat. And the better you are, the more sweat I’m going to demand. So if you...

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Death on a Coin Toss

Death on a Coin Toss Do you believe in fate? Do you think things happen in a certain order for a reason? Do you believe, as some do, that the manner of our life’s end is already determined when we are born? The story you’re about to read may make a believer out of you. A series of events in the life of movie actress Carole Lombard caused her death on the side of a Nevada mountain as a result of the toss of a coin. Read...

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Mae Westisms

Westisms are what I call the things said by a bawdy, beloved performer named Mae West. She was born Mary Jane West on  August 17, 1893 to parents John Patrick West and Matilda (Tillie) Doelger in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a prize fighter who became a “special policeman” and later had his own detective agency. Her mother modeled corsets and fashions. Mae was only five years old when she entertained a crowd at a...

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Was Thomas Ince Murdered?

The mysterious death of Thomas Ince. Thomas Ince was a pioneer of early Hollywood. Yet many people haven’t heard of him, largely because of the mystery of his death. Was he murdered or did he die of natural causes? The story itself is worthy of a Hollywood mystery film. The murder, if indeed it was, took place aboard a luxury yacht belonging to a super-wealthy newspaper mogul. Aboard were actors and actresses, writers, a ballet...

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Mary Astor: Scandal

Mary Astor’s diaries. Mary Astor was a gorgeous actress in the Golden Era of Hollywood. Yet like many of the actors of the time, she was involved in a juicy scandal. In total she was married four times. The first marriage was to a movie director names Kenneth Hawks. Less than two years later he was killed in an air crash. He was in a plane during the shooting of aerial scenes when two of the aircraft collided. Understandably she...

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“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…” The scene is a bar room in French Martinique, a hot and noisy club setting where a piano player called Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael ) is playing for a gorgeous teenage singer, Slim. Slim was Lauren Bacall in her first movie role, and what a star turn she gave, singing one of Carmichael’s most memorable songs, How Little We Know. Her vocal training was coming along, but no-one...

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Hollywood Redheads – Wilma Flintstone

Andy Royston pays tribute to one of the original Hollywood Wives. Wilma Flintstone. Television’s image of the American woman, 1964, is a stupid, unattractive, insecure little household drudge who spends her martyred, mindless, boring days dreaming of love – and plotting nasty revenge against her husband. Betty Freidan – Television and the Feminine Mystique.  I love thee Wilma, with hair like silk, Lips like cherries,...

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More of Hollywood’s Finest Redheads

Andy Royston continues his appreciation of Hollywood’s redheads. “It is observed that the red-haired of both sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity” –  Jonathan Swift, Gullivers Travels “You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair, people who haven’t red hair don’t know what trouble is” – Anne of Green Gables In Part One...

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Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy Family

Did the Kennedys murder Marilyn Monroe? Most people are aware that there was a strong connection between Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy family, especially John Kennedy and his brother, Robert. There is also speculation that the Kennedys were responsible for her death. Could this be the case? It’s certainly true that Marilyn had affairs with both the Kennedy brothers. It’s also true that she had a serious problem with using...

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Ukepocalypse Now!

The Great Ukulele Invasion by Andy Royston Way back in the summer 2009 the UK’s venerable old Albert Hall proms played host to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – a sold out night where a good proportion of the audience had brought along their own instrument to join in. Now it’s all well out of hand with the now annual Ukulele Hooley – a festival that’s taking over Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin this...

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The Oscars: Harold Russell

Who was Harold Russell? Harold Russell was the only actor to win two Oscars for the same role. He also caused controversy by selling one of the statuettes. And despite winning two Oscars, he wasn’t a professional actor. But his story is much more interesting than that. If you look closely at the photograph on the left you’ll see why. Harold Russell had no hands He had been born in Canada and when he was a boy, his family...

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