Monte Blue - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In our exploration of the silent film actors presented in a montage of old pictures located in the Music Room, we have learned about Helene Chadwick, Nita Naldi, Theda Bara, Wallace Reid, and a number of other actors who as often as not enjoyed stardom for five or six years before life took an unenviable course.  Well, we have good news for you.  Today's star (seen hugging Helene Chadwick in our aforementioned montage) did much better in life:  Monte Blue.

His birth name was Gerard Bluefeather, and he was part Osage Indian.  Born in 1887, Monte's story did not start out great.  His father died when he was young, compelling his mother to check him into the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home.  He took care of himself, sent himself through college and became an athlete.  His physique landed him a job as a stunt man on D.W. Griffiths' films Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, which led to bigger roles and, before he knew it, he was a leading man in silent films.  Then, he did something very unusual - he successfully crossed over into talkies.  Despite back-sliding with the 1929 stock market crash, he continued to act into the 1950's, with enough money in the bank to retire at the age of 73.  A few years later, he passed on due to complications from influenza.
QUESTION:  Monte Blue's final screen appearance was in the 1954 western Apache.  Who received top billing on the marquee for that film?
A)  Charles Bronson
B)  Burt Lancaster
C)  Jimmy Stewart
D)  Henry Fonda

WAFs:  Women were by no means well-represented in the American armed forces during World War II.  During the war, the air force was not its own branch of the military.  A few women were recruited to transport planes around the country due to the scarcity of male fighter pilots, and apparently they did their jobs well because they were remembered after the Air Force was established in 1947.  On this day in 1948, the WAF - Women in the Air Force - was established, accepting their first female recruits.  The WAF had the distinction of being led by a woman as well - Colonel Geraldine Pratt May.  And women slowly but surely proved they truly could do anything men could do, even better.  

EYE-GORE.  Okay, fine.  Marty Feldman was British - but American audiences loved his particular brand of comedy, too, which is why we are celebrating his birthday this bright and cheery July 8th.  Feldman was born in 1934, and had ambitions as a youngster to become a jazz trumpeter.  Things didn't quite work out the way he wanted and instead he became an internationally-known comedian, best recognized for his protruding eyes (a side effect of his Graves' disease).  He made us laugh as Eye-gore, Gene Wilder's assistant in Young Frankenstein, as well as a number of other films before his untimely death at the age of 48, while filming what would be his last movie:  Yellowbeard.

QUOTE:  Money can't buy poverty. - Marty Feldman

ANSWER:  B)  Burt Lancaster.  (Charles Bronson was a co-star, playing Hondo)