Hello. My name is Hannah Howe. I’m an international bestselling author (my books have reached #1 on Amazon’s genre charts on 33 separate occasions). My latest project is a series of novels set during Hollywood’s Golden Age, 1920s – 1960s. This is my first blog post. I hope you will enjoy the content.
Pen Portrait: Clara Bow
Clara Bow was born into poverty in Brooklyn on 29 July 1905. Her father was an alcoholic while her mother suffered from severe mental health problems; she died in an asylum when Clara was a teenager.
Just before her mother’s death, Clara entered an acting competition. One of the prizes was a small part in a movie. Clara won that competition and was so impressive in the small part that she won further roles, and a contract in the newly-developing Hollywood.
Clara’s great ‘skill’ was to cry on demand. She later said that she only had to think of her home life and it reduced her to tears. She became the leading star of the silent era and made the transition into talkies.
In total, Clara made 46 silent films and 11 talkies. However, the strain of Hollywood and her bohemian lifestyle meant that she retired from movies in 1933 to live on a ranch in Nevada.
Must see Clara Bow movie: It, 1927, a movie that made Clara the leading symbol of the Roaring Twenties.
Highest Grossing Film of 1920: Way Down East
A silent romantic drama, directed by D.W. Griffith and starring Lilian Gish, Way Down East is best remembered for its climatic scene in which Lillian Gish’s character, Anna, is rescued from doom on an icy river (pictured).
Way Down East was heavy censored. The Pennsylvania film board demanded over sixty cuts, rendering the story meaningless. The mock marriage and honeymoon between Lennox and Anna had to go, along with any hints of her pregnancy. Other cuts included scenes where society women smoked cigarettes and an intertitle, which featured the words “wild oats”.
Joseph Cotten (1905 – 1994)
Must-see movie: The Third Man, a 1949 film noir set in post-war Vienna, and widely regarded as the best British film of all-time. Written by Graham Greene, the movie also starred Orson Welles and Trevor Howard.
The person: Joseph Cotten’s first wife, Lenore Kipp, died at the beginning of 1960. Later that year he married British actress Patricia Meding in Beverly Hills at the home of producer David O. Selznick and his actress-wife Jennifer Jones.
Quote: “My wife told me one of the sweetest things one could hear: ‘I am not jealous. But I am truly sad for all the actresses who embrace you and kiss you while acting, for with them, you are only pretending’.”
Tippi Hedren (1930 – )
Must-see movie: Marnie, a 1964 psychological thriller, also starring Sean Connery, based on a novel by Winston Graham (although the endings vary considerably).
The person: Tippi Hedren has a strong commitment to animal rescue, which began in 1969 while she was shooting two films in Africa. She has also set up relief programs worldwide following earthquakes, hurricanes, famine and war.
Quote: “I consider my acting, while not necessarily being method acting, but one that draws upon my own feelings. I thought Marnie was an extremely interesting role to play and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Behind the Camera
Hollywood, the beginning…1911, Al Christie (pictured) born in Ontario, Canada, was making Westerns in New Jersey. Tired of the landscape, he wanted to film in California. His producer, David Horsley, preferred Florida. They flipped a silver dollar – it came down heads, for California.
Founded in 1907, Moving Picture World was an influential early trade journal for the American movie industry. An independent publication, the magazine reflected the trends in movie making, creative styles and fashionable stories. By 1914, it’s circulation reached 15,000 readers. In the late 1920s and early 1930s the magazine merged with other publications.
Scandals and Sad Stories
Florence Lawrence, born January 2, 1886, was Hollywood’s first movie star. In the early days of filmmaking actors were not named, for fear that they would demand higher salaries. However, Florence received a credit for her acting, and her popularity soared. She made close to 300 films during her career.
Sadly, Florence badly injured her back while filming and, several years and a number of operations later, killed herself when she swallowed ant poison. It would appear that the poison was a cry for help that went tragically wrong. Medical staff tried to save her, but within two hours she died.
The world’s first film poster for 1895’s L’Arroseur arrosé, by the Lumière brothers.
Source: Marcellin Auzolle (1862-1942) via Wikipedia.
And that’s a wrap!
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