Hollywood

Alla Nazimova

QUESTION:  During the silent film era, Alla Nazimova helped establish the careers of Jean Acker and Natacha Rambova.  Both women were married (at separate times) to what famous actor?
A)  Charles Boyer
B)  Rudolph Valentino
C)  Douglass Fairbanks
D)  Orson Welles
ANSWER BELOW

The American Treasure Tour has more stories throughout its amazing collection than can possibly be told in one blog.  But we try.  Today, we would like to discuss a woman who was at one time enormously popular on the stage and in theater, but who is all but forgotten today. Born Adelaida Yakovlevna Leventon in Yalta, part of the Russian Empire (prior to becoming a part of the Soviet Union) in 1879, she abbreviated her first name to Alla, and took on as her last name that of a fictional character from a Russian novel. Nazimova emigrated to the United States when she was 26, having become a famous actor across much of Europe by 1905.  She continued her success on Broadway for many years, then made her film debut in 1916.  This led to bigger and better things until the bigger and better became smaller and not quite so good. By 1925 her film career was over, aside from a few cameo appearances in films of the 1940's.

What makes Nazimova fascinating to students of Hollywood today is actually her private life. She was a married woman when she left Russia. And she was still married when she became involved in what is called a "lavender marriage," which is to say one or both participants are homosexual and hiding that from public scrutiny. Nazimova was outed, which caused a scandal and played a large part in her retirement from film in 1925. She is also accredited with coining the phrase "sewing circle" to discreetly describe lesbian or bisexual actresses. Her reputation for hosting wild parties at her Sunset Boulevard home was quite possibly accurate, and she was definitely entrenched in Hollywood culture. One of her friends, Edith Luckett, asked her to be godmother to her daughter.  Her name was Nancy Davis, who would marry Ronald Reagan and become First Lady of the United States.

ANSWER:  B)  Rudolph Valentino

Irene Dunne -- December 20, 2014

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Happy Birthday to Irene Dunne! Born on this date in 1898, Dunne was musically gifted and won a scholarship to the Chicago Music College. She moved to New York with hopes of joining the Metropolitan Opera Company, but did not pass the audition. Dunne was not deterred, however, and she became a success on Broadway. While starring in the touring company of Show Boat, Hollywood came calling and she was signed with RKO. She appeared in her first film in 1930 and was nominated for an Academy Award for her second film—and Best Picture winner—Cimarron. She made several films for the next two decades including The Age of Innocence, The Awful Truth, Love Affair, My Favorite Wife, Penny Serenade, Life with Father, and I Remember Mama. Dunne was nominated for four more Oscars and has been called “the best actress never to win an Academy Award.”

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

With what actor did Dunne costar three times?

a) Charles Boyer

b) Melvyn Douglas

c) Fred Astaire

d) Cary Grant

Answer below!

CLIPS OF THE DAY

Enjoy the trailer for one of Dunne’s most beloved roles as a Norwegian immigrant in I Remember Mama.

Dunne sings “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in the 1935 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film Roberta.  

Witness the chemistry between Dunne and Cary Grant for yourself in the trailer for My Favorite Wife

DID YOU KNOW…

Dunne was considered for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I drifted into acting and drifted out. Acting is not everything. Living is.

~Irene Dunne

TRIVIA ANSWER

d) Cary Grant played Irene Dunne’s husband in three films: the screwball comedies The Awful Truth (1937), My Favorite Wife (1940), and the three-hanky tearjerker Penny Serenade (1941). 

Cecily Tyson -- December 19, 2015

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Happy 81st Birthday to Cicely Tyson! Born in Harlem, she worked as a typist before being discovered by a photographer from Ebony magazine at the age of 18. Tyson began acting in the 1950s and, in 1968, had a featured role in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1972’s Sounder and, in 1974, was the first African-American woman to win an Emmy. In fact, she won two that year: one for Best Actress in a Drama for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and a special Emmy for Actress of the Year. In 1977, Tyson appeared in the tremendously successful TV miniseries Roots. She is still acting and winning accolades today. She earned a third Emmy for 1994’s Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and, most recently, Tyson became the oldest person ever to win a Tony for her Broadway performance in The Trip to Bountiful in 2013.  

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TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Cecily Tyson appeared in 2011’s The Help, based on the book by Kathryn Stockett. How many times was the book rejected before it was finally published?

a) 10

b) 30

c) 60

d) 70

Answer below!

DID YOU KNOW…

Tyson was married to famed jazz trumpeter Miles Davis from 1981-1988. They wed in the home of Bill Cosby, who was Davis’s best man.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I think when you begin to think of yourself as having achieved something, then there's nothing left for you to work towards. I want to believe that there is a mountain so high that I will spend my entire life striving to reach the top of it.

~Cecily Tyson

 TRIVIA ANSWER

c) 60

Cecily Tyson and Emma Stone in 2011's  The Help .

Cecily Tyson and Emma Stone in 2011's The Help.


Steven Spielberg -- December 18, 2014

Happy 68th Birthday to Steven Spielberg! One of the most successful, influential, and prolific director/producers in Hollywood history, Spielberg dropped out of college to begin working in the film industry. He's done okay for himself without that degree.

Here is just a partial list of his incomparable filmography:

Duel

The Sugarland Express

Jaws

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Twilight Zone: The Movie

The Color Purple

Hook

Jurassic Park

Schindler’s List

Amistad

Saving Private Ryan

Catch Me If You Can

The Adventures of Tintin

War Horse

Lincoln

Pretty impressive list! Not to mention the episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D., Night Gallery, and Columbo he directed. 

Pretty impressive list! Not to mention the episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D., Night Gallery, and Columbo he directed. 

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

How many actors have been directed to Oscar-nominated performances by Spielberg?

a) 0

b) 5

c) 12

d) 14

Answer below!

CLIPS OF THE DAY

Ready to bawl? Check out Henry Thomas’s role-winning audition for E.T. Listen for Spielberg’s direction at the beginning and his immediate approval at the end. 

Okay, now you need a laugh, so check out these bloopers from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Who can forget the scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind featuring John Williams’ out-of-this-world composition? Do you hear the nod to Jaws

DID YOU KNOW…

Spielberg declined a salary for directing 1993’s multi-Oscar-winning Schindler’s List, saying that it would be “blood money.” He also insisted that all his royalties and residuals from the film go to the Shoah Foundation, an organization founded by Spielberg, which records first-person accounts of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. 

DID YOU ALSO KNOW…

We can blame Spielberg for the now commonplace practice of product placement in films. He was denied permission to use M&Ms in 1982’s E.T The Extra-Terrestrial and used Reese’s Pieces instead, whose sales skyrocketed a reported 65% upon release of the film. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

After a scary movie about the world almost ending, we can walk into the sunlight and say, "Wow, everything's still here. I'm OK!" We like to tease ourselves. Human beings have a need to get close to the edge and, when filmmakers or writers can take them to the edge, it feels like a dream where you're falling, but you wake up just before you hit the ground. ~Steven Spielberg

TRIVIA ANSWER

c) Spielberg directed 12 actors to Oscar nominations:

Melinda Dillon—Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Whoopi Goldberg—The Color Purple

Oprah Winfrey—The Color Purple

Margaret Avery—The Color Purple

Liam Neeson—Schindler’s List

Ralph Fiennes-- Schindler’s List

Anthony Hopkins—Amistad

Tom Hanks—Saving Private Ryan

Christopher Walken—Catch Me If You Can

Tommy Lee Jones—Lincoln

Sally Field—Lincoln 

Daniel Day-Lewis—Lincoln

Day-Lewis is the only one to walk away with the coveted statue. 

June Allyson - October 7, 2014

Happy Birthday to June Allyson! Born Eleonor Geisman on this date in 1917, Allyson made her Broadway debut at the age of 21. She went on to become the sweetheart of the 1940s with her girl-next-door good looks and bright smile. Allyson is best known for such films as Best Foot Forward, Words and Music, Till the Clouds Roll By, Little Women, The Stratton Story, The Glenn Miller Story, and My Man Godfrey.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Which famous co-star did Allyson work with more than anyone else?

a) Van Johnson

b) Jimmy Stewart

c) Peter Lawford

d) David Niven

 

Answer below!

CLIP OF THE DAY

Enjoy TCM’s tribute to June Allyson. 

PIC OF THE DAY

We have a poster for 1948's Words and Music on the walls of the American Treasure Tour. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I couldn't dance, and, Lord knows, I couldn't sing, but I got by somehow. Richard Rodgers was always keeping them from firing me.

~June Allyson

TRIVIA ANSWER

a) Van Johnson and June Allyson appeared in five films together. She played Jimmy Stewart’s wife three times. Allyson costarred with Lawford and Niven once each.


Deborah Kerr - September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to Deborah Kerr! Born in Scotland on this day in 1921, the shy child was educated in England and began acting as a teenager. At the tender age of 20, she was cast in Major Barbara and Love on the Dole and continued working steadily until the 1980s. She is best known for such films as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, From Here to Eternity, The King and I, Tea and Sympathy, and perhaps the most enduring melodramatic love story ever, An Affair to Remember. 

Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in  From Here to Eternity

Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in  The King and I.

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in The King and I.

Deborah Kerr--in the best dress ever--and Cary Grant in  An Affair to Remember .

Deborah Kerr--in the best dress ever--and Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

An Affair to Remember was Kerr’s third movie with Cary Grant. What were the other two?

a) Dream Wife

b) Vacation from Marriage

c) The Grass is Greener

d) Separate Tables

Answer below!

CLIPS OF THE DAY

Can you handle the steamy love scene from 1953’s From Here to Eternity?

Enjoy the trailer for 1957’s An Affair to Remember.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I don't think anyone knew I could act until I put on a bathing suit.

~Deborah Kerr on her work in From Here to Eternity

DID YOU KNOW…

Kerr was romantically involved with co-star Burt Lancaster during the filming of From Here to Eternity. That probably had a little something to do with the erotic beach scene being one of the most iconic in Hollywood history.

TRIVIA ANSWER

a) and c). Kerr’s costar in Vacation from Marriage was Robert Donat and in Separate Tables, it was David Niven. 

Cheryl Ladd / Charlie's Angels - September 23, 2014

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On this day in 1977, Cheryl Ladd took over for Farah Fawcett on the hit show "Charlie's Angels."  In the second season, her character Kris Monroe joins the trio in place of her older sister, Jill.

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TODAY'S TRIVIA QUESTION

Who voiced the boss Charlie in this popular show?

a) John Forsythe

b) David Doyle

c) Dustin Hoffman

Answer below!

CLIP OF THE DAY

Watch Cheryl Ladd as Kris Monroe on "Charlie's Angels"

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I don't think people will ever forget I was an 'Angel,' anymore than they'll forget Sally Field was 'The Flying Nun.'"  Cheryl Ladd

DID YOU KNOW . . .

Cheryl Ladd began her career in Hollywood as a singer.  At that time she was known as Cherie Moor.  Soon after beginning her singing career, Cheryl began earning non-singing roles in commercials and television.

TRIVIA ANSWER

a) John Forsythe

 

Robert Wise - September 10, 2014

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Happy Birthday to Robert Wise! Born 100 years ago today, Wise loved movies and began working in the business at 19. He got his big break in 1941 when Orson Welles asked him to edit a little film called Citizen Kane. Wise went on to direct such films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Somebody Up There Likes Me, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. All are fine movies, but Wise really hit his stride for his Oscar-winning direction of West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Wise shared his Best Director Oscar for West Side Story with Jerome Robbins. How many other times in Academy Award history have director-collaborators been nominated for Oscars?

a) zero

b) once

c) three times

d) five times

Answer below!

CLIPS OF THE DAY

It’s the Jets vs. the Sharks. Stay cool, boys!

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

My three Ps: passion, patience, perseverance. You have to do this if you've got to be a filmmaker.

~Robert Wise

DID YOU KNOW…

Wise was the last surviving crew member of Citizen Kane. He died in 2005 at the age of 91.

TRIVIA ANSWER

c) Three other teams of directors have been nominated for Oscars: Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait; Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men (they won); and the Coens again for True Grit.  

 

Keanu Reeves - September 2, 2014

Whoa! Happy 50th Birthday to Keanu Reeves! He made a splash as the dim-witted Ted in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), had another huge hit with Speed (1994), and really blew our minds with The Matrix (1999). 

TRIVIA QUESTION

Who auditioned for the role of Ted?

a) Andrew "Dice" Clay

b) Pauly Shore

c) Patrick Swayze

d) Matt Dillon

ANSWER BELOW!

CLIPS OF THE DAY

Ah, the genius of Bill and Ted...

And here's a clip for Reeves's more grown-up film The Matrix

QUOTE OF THE DAY

What would happen if you melted? You know, you never really hear this talked about much, but spontaneous combustion? It exists!...[people] burn from within...sometimes they'll be in a wooden chair and the chair won't burn, but there'll be nothing left of the person. Except sometimes his teeth. Or the heart. No one speaks about this, but its for real.

~Keanu Reeves

TRIVIA ANSWER

b) Pauly Shore

Sean Connery - August 25, 2014

Happy 84th Birthday to Sir Sean Connery! The quintessential James Bond starred in seven of the 007 films. He has also starred in Marnie, Murder on the Orient Express, The Man Who Would Be King, Robin and Marian, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In 1988, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Untouchables.

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TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Connery worked many jobs before he became a successful actor. Which job did he NOT have?

a)   Milk delivery man

b)   Nude art model

c)    Coffin polisher

d)   Glassblower

Answer below!

CLIP OF THE DAY

Enjoy 50 great quotes from Connery’s Bond films.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I am not an Englishman, I was never an Englishman, and I don't ever want to be one. I am a Scotsman! I was a Scotsman and I will always be one.

~Sean Connery

DID YOU KNOW…

Ian Fleming, who created the character of James Bond, wanted Cary Grant to play the spy. He felt that Connery was “unrefined.” Once Fleming saw him in the role, however, he believed Connery was the perfect Bond.

TRIVIA ANSWER

d) Glassblower

Steve Guttenberg - August 24, 2014

Happy 56th Birthday to Steve Guttenberg! He starred in a number of hit movies of the 1980s including Diner, Police Academy (and its three sequels), Cocoon, Short Circuit, and 3 Men and a Baby. 

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Guttenberg turned down not one but two hit 80's movies. What were they?

a)   Big and Ghost

b)   Big and Ghostbusters

c)    Ghostbusters and Dirty Dancing

d)   Dirty Dancing and Ghost

Answer below!

CLIP OF THE DAY

Surely, Guttenberg’s most embarrassing moment must be his starring turn in 1980’s Can’t Stop the Music, a vehicle for the Village People. It won the very first Razzie award for worst film. Oh, and it costars Bruce Jenner in short shorts. Here’s the trailer; you owe it to yourself to watch it.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

A career is a series of ups and downs, of comebacks.

~Steve Guttenberg

 

DID YOU KNOW…

The printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed this day in 1456. Coincidence!?

 

TRIVIA ANSWER

b) Big and Ghostbusters. D’oh!

Barbara Eden - August 23, 2014

Happy 83rd Birthday to Barbara Eden! Eden has appeared in several TV shows and movies since the 1960s but is best known for her starring role in I Dream of Jeannie, which ran from 1965 to 1970. 

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Eden’s first featured television appearance was on what show?

a)   The Adventures of Ozzy and Harriet

b)   Leave it to Beaver

c)    Bonanza

d)   I Love Lucy

Answer below!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I've never stopped working. If you're active, you can appreciate what you did in the past, you don't feel like it's gone.

~Barbara Eden

 

DID YOU KNOW…

Jeannie's harem costume is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

TRIVIA ANSWER

d) I Love Lucy in 1957. She plays a va-va-voom visitor who catches all them men’s eyes, making Lucy and Ethel a little jealous, in the episode entitled “Country Club Dance.” 

Robert Redford - August 18, 2014

Happy 78th Birthday to Robert Redford! The handsome leading man is known for such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Way We Were, The Sting, The Great Gatsby, All the President’s Men, The Natural, Out of Africa, and The Horse Whisperer. Redford has also been at the helm of the very popular Sundance Festival, which showcases American-made independent films.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Who was in Redford’s class at Van Nuys High School?

a)   Arnold Palmer

b)   Fred Thompson

c)    Don Drysdale

d)   Paul Newman

Answer below!

TODAY’S CLIP

Memories…light the corners of my mind. See Robert Redford at his dreamiest in 1973’s The Way We Were

QUOTE OF THE DAY

They throw that word "star" at you loosely, and they take it away equally loosely. You take the responsibility for their crappy movie, that's what that means.

~Robert Redford

 

DID YOU KNOW…

Redford lost out on the role of Benjamin in The Graduate because director Mike Nichols didn’t think anyone would believe Redford having trouble getting “the girl.” Well, duh.

 

TRIVIA ANSWER

c) Don Drysdale 

Robert De Niro - August 17, 2014

Happy 71st Birthday to Robert De Niro! Considered one of the all-time greats, De Niro has created several iconic roles in classic films including Mean Streets, The Godfather: Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Cape Fear, Meet the Parents, Silver Linings Playbook, and this blogger’s personal favorite, Goodfellas.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

De Niro’s been nominated for an Oscar a total of seven times. How many has he won?

a)   0

b)   1

c)    2

d)   3

Answer below!

TODAY’S CLIP

“It was a glorious time.” Meet Jimmy Conway in Scorsese’s masterpiece, Goodfellas.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

You have no idea that, years later, people in cars will recognize you on the street and shout, "You talkin' to me?" I don't remember the original script, but I don't think the line was in it. We improvised. For some reason it touched a nerve. That happens.

~Robert De Niro on his infamous line in 1976’s Taxi Driver

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

We weren't sure if we’d seen De Niro on the tour, but after a little looking around, we found a movie poster! 

TRIVIA ANSWER

c) 2. Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather: Part II and Best Actor for Raging Bull

Norma Shearer - August 10, 2014

Happy Birthday to Norma Shearer! Born in 1902, Shearer won a beauty contest at the age of 14 and became known as the “First Lady of MGM.” She starred in The Women, Marie Antoinette, Romeo and Juliet, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, and 1930’s The Divorcee, for which she won an Oscar.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Shearer turned down a famous role in a classic movie. Which one?

a)   Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind

b)   Julie in Jezebel

c)    Nora in The Thin Man

d)   Jean in The Lady Eve

Answer below!

 

TODAY’S CLIP

Shearer and Clark Gable heat up the screen in 1931’s A Free Soul. Hubba hubba!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Scarlett O'Hara is going to be a thankless and difficult role. The part I'd like to play is Rhett Butler.

~Norma Shearer

 

DID YOU KNOW…

Shearer was married to producer Irving Thalberg and her sister was married to Howard Hawks!

 

 TRIVIA ANSWER

a)   Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind