Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fun Finds: Hollywood Studio Magazines

Well, I've gone and stumbled upon another find: a trio of magazines from the early '80s that focus on the glory days of the film industry. Called Hollywood Studio Magazine, it was a black and white monthly, with a color front and back cover, that contained articles on classic stars, plenty of vintage still photos and the occasional nod to the stars and happenings of the present day. Most interesting to me was the information on events that were heavily attended by older stars who, by then, were not making the rounds too much at occasions covered by the more prominent mainstream press. (In order to enlarge these to full size, you will have to click on them, then - if they go into that new photo viewer, which limits the size - click on "Show Original" and the pages will open in a larger size in a new window. Sorry, but that's the way Blogger is these days...)

The first issue I retrieved, from 1982, profiles the then-fairly-recent, tragic deaths of William Holden and Natalie Wood (oddly enough, the former longtime companion and wife, respectively, of (still airing) Hart to Hart co-stars Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner.) Along with the articles, there are collections of photos from their lengthy careers. Looking at the shot of Holden from Golden Boy, his debut, you can really see how quickly he aged in the years beyond that (from a combination of sun, booze and cigarettes), though he still remained handsome for several years afterwards. Though the magazine relied heavily on still photos, an occasional rare shot like the one with him and George Brent occasionally saw print.

You know that if I'm going to scan anything, I'm going to scan the male shirtless shots! Thus, in the Natalie Wood retrospective, we have both Jeffrey Hunter and William Devane (from the TV miniseries From Here to Eternity) on display. The attendant articles don't shed any remarkable light on either death, but there are plenty of tributes to both stars from people they worked with. Interestingly, recovering alcoholic Dana Andrews is quoted as saying the the media was correct in emphasizing the presence of alcohol in both deaths as it inevitably contributed to them.

Hollywood Studio Magazine featured a regular segment called Man About Town by one-time bit actor-turned-columnist Lee Graham. By the time of this set of magazines, the great era of Hollywood gossip columnists and reporters had faded (soon to be replaced by a set of tabloid journalists who saw print in various products like The National Enquirer and Star Magazine.) HSM gave Graham a home base from which to continue printing updates on the stars from his era. Check out the descriptive way he profiles Liberace in this edition of the column.

There's also mention of Mickey Rooney, then riding high with Sugar Babies on The Great White Way. The article refers to a future Broadway project that never actually came to fruition. Then there's the odd item about his agent and her three most unusual pets. There was a bizarre accident at the party, though apparently no one was seriously hurt. Lee Graham himself appears far right in the photo with Mickey, Mickey's wife Jan (to whom he remains wed still today!) and others.

On the following page, the celebrity chit-chat continues. There's mention of Carol Lawrence's recent engagement (the marriage would only last about a year.) She's shown with Hugh O'Brian and Foster Brooks. Below are Barbara Stanwyck with long ago costar Burt Lancaster and another photo with former child-star Jane Withers and Marsha Hunt, a victim of the 1950s Communist witch hunt/blacklist. These are the types of pictures I think make this magazine so collectible now because they are so rare and unique.

Then we have an article by the number one “fan/friend” of Miss Ann Miller. The devotee fell in (platonic??) love with her as a child, watching her films at a neighborhood theater, and began collecting photos and other memorabilia concerning her from then on. Having inspired him to become a dancer in his own right, he later met up with her and they formed a friendly relationship (she being impressed by the gargantuan assemblage of items he had collected over the years and brought to share with her at a rehearsal space.)

I enjoyed these various shots of Miller, but my favorite is the one of her with Edith Head because it was taken at a time when you tended to see less of her. She had a fairly dormant period after her days in those classic musicals before swinging back into the spotlight with Broadway's Sugar Babies. I've always been fond of Ann Miller, but after seeing her on a TCM Private Screenings one-on-one with Robert Osborne, I started to appreciate her even more. Below is a link that has become something of a recent obsession of mine. The whole thing is a bizarre scream, but at the 9:15 mark, I always develop an ear-to-ear grin and proceed to sing that song for hours afterward.


The back cover has an ad/offer for a personally signed print featuring the career of Mr. Burt Reynolds. Am I crazy for thinking that $100 in 1982 currency was more than a bit steep for this?! Perhaps they are hard to find and have retained their value, but I'm a tad doubtful... Of seemingly greater value are the ones shown below of stars from an earlier era such as Mae West, Ray Bolger and many others.

The second issue I picked up in from 1983. It features Robert Wagner (with Natalie Wood) on the cover, billing him as "TV's Classiest Actor." An article inside relates the way his persona recalls the glamorous and debonair qualities of the golden age of Hollywood and describes how he is continuing to work through the death of Wood along with their children (and with the aid of constant companion Jill St. John.) His charity work with The American Heart Association is also revealed.

This issue's Man About Town article depicts a variety of stars attending an event honoring Danny Thomas for his work with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. There is mention in the text of Erik Estrada and his "fiancee" Kathy Showers (no wedding ever took place.) Also reported is Dorothy Lamour's recent cabaret act along with a shot of her getting a smooch from attendee Robert Mitchum.

One thing that stands out here for me is the reportage of an AIDS benefit; a show called "Women Behind Bars" that spoofs women's prison movies. It's good to see that some sort of work was being done in Hollywood during this still-early stage of the disease. Rock Hudson, one of the the most prominent celebrities to be claimed by AIDS, didn't die from it until 1985, after which it seemed to become far more heavily reported upon and discussed. Even amfAR wasn't founded until 1985, having been formed by two separate organizations on opposite coasts, one of which started up in 1983. So it's remarkable and satisfying to see that efforts were being made earlier and by less-publicized celebrities. Patti Page and Adele Jergens (one of the ladies shown recently in my Halloween post of cheesecake photos) are among those pictured.

And are you ready for the reported cast of a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?? Pat Hingle as Big Daddy, Alice Ghostley as Big Mama, Kirstie Alley as Maggie the Cat and Patty (The Bad Seed) McCormack as Sister Woman! No mention of who played Brick in this stunner... Now you know I wasn't about to let such a mystery rest, so I looked it up! Brick was played by the less-famous actor James Morrison who has nonetheless carved out a lengthy and enduring career as a character actor, best known probably for his recurring role on 24 over the course of several seasons. This is him then and now.

Finally, there's reportage on a (failed?) musical based on the life of Charlie Chaplin, portrayed by Anthony Newley (who also likely composed the songs for this as well.)

Here, at the end of the issue, is a remembrance of David Niven by former actress-turned-writer/editor Joan Evans. (See more about Evans at the tail end of this post!) She offers up a rarely told account of Niven's devilish sense of humor when it came to sharing his income with their stingy boss Samuel Goldwyn. Niven died in 1983, thus the timing of this tribute to what many people considered a talented, witty and wonderful man.

The bulk of my scans come from the third issue I picked up, from early 1985. The cover shot is of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh from Gone with the Wind. You know, I've seen GWTW countless times, but I have no memory of the outfit Scarlett is wearing here! Did she really appear in this in the final cut and, if so, how did I miss that mammoth brooch at her neck?

There's a feature on a recently released book by prolific author and celebrity biographer Douglas McClelland called Hollywood on Hollywood: Tinsel Town Talks. The tome was apparently loaded down with collected opinions on the film capitol from stars of every size, shape, stature and era. There are a few amusing quotes chosen for the article and a deliciously gauzy photo of Miss Joan Fontaine.

This time, in addition to his Man About Town column, Lee Graham reports on the recent second annual American Cinema Awards (I've never even heard of them! Are they still given out or did they go the way of the recent TVLand Awards...) The event honored my kind of stars: Dorothy McGuire, Robert Mitchum, Robert Preston and Jane Wyman. You can keep your Mira Sorvinos and Cuba Gooding Juniors!

How neat to see then-ninety-two year-old Ina Claire making a very rare appearance. There's a fun and rare reunion of Pollyanna costars Hayley Mills and Jane Wyman. And what about gay favorite Guy Madison, older. but still quite handsome. (He would have been about sixty-three here.) The second page offers up even more old stars, including John Payne (who would have been around seventy-three here!), Ruby Keeler, Virginia Mayo and Rock Hudson (who, if you'll recall, would soon be passing away...) But who was it who threw together this tribute to the olden days? That I will not reveal, but will let you discover when you click on the article and read the final sentence! Let's just say he was a man good at bringing the near-dormant back to life!

There's a two-page article on ill-fated hunk Jon-Erik Hexum (who is profiled here at The Underworld.) The piece is written by a man described as a writer-photographer, but who is revealed within the text to be more of a costumer/wardrobe man. I have no idea what went on between the two, but if you read the article it is more than clear that Brian had - at minimum - an attraction for Hexum. Whether it was ever reciprocated I don't know and probably never will. However, as the man in charge of dressing Hexum on Voyagers and then Cover-Up, he may very well have had one of the greatest jobs in the history of show business!

The Man About Town segment in this issue has a lot of chatter about various events, none of them earth-shaking. Still, it's fun to read through and hear about the celebs that the author had been hobnobbing with.

The cover of the magazine promises a Gone with the Wind centerfold poster. This is fortunately still there, intact, though it's nothing to shoot the cat over. It doesn't even include Miss Olivia "Melanie" de Havilland at all! Nonetheless, not wanting to disappoint my readers, I have scanned it and soldered it together for you.

Douglas McClelland, the author mentioned above, also provided a review of the recently released compilation film That's Dancing!, a Terpsichorean documentary made to cash in on the success of the prior That's Entertainment and That's Entertainment Part II. He bemoans the pedestrian nature of the project and the lack of Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable while wishing there had been more of Dan Dailey as well.

In what seemed to be a recurring facet of Hollywood Studio Magazine, there was a personal recollection of another star by a lesser-known person who worked with him. Fledgling English actor Patrick Brock relates his experiences working with legendary swashbuckler and lady-killer Errol Flynn towards the end of his life.

There's an article about Oscar-winning supporting actress Alice Brady (for In Old Chicago, 1937) whose career was cut short by illness. A few years ago, thanks to an Internet blind item, a rumor spread like wildfire that Alice Brady was actually a man posing as a woman! Her early life is fairly well documented, so this is virtually disproven, if it ever even needed to be. (Never mind the fact that she gave birth to a son in the early 1920s!)

Interestingly, this issue contained a photo of then-hot (and still active today) actor Tom Selleck, reading a copy of the magazine. He is described as being one of the two sexiest stars working at the time (the other being Mel Gibson!)

After debuting in the late '60s, this periodical continued for quite a few years. There isn't a great deal out there about it, but I am pretty sure that, in time, it morphed into the magazine Hollywood Then and Now before finally petering out in the mid-'90s(?) I have seen various issues for sale on eBay for upwards of $8.00, sometimes quite a bit more, so I was more than thrilled to nab all three of these in one fell swoop for the very reasonable price of $3.00 total!

This magazine was edited, for at least a significant part of its existence, by Joan Evans Weatherly. Evans was the daughter of Hollywood writers Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert. They were close friends of Joan Crawford, for whom Evans was named and whose godmother of Evans she was. Signed to a contract with Samuel Goldwyn at the impossibly young age of fourteen (but augmented to sixteen by her mother in an attempt to diffuse the way such a fact appeared), she was featured as the title character in her very first movie, Roseanna McCoy, opposite Farley Granger. It was a love story based on the Hatfield and McCoy feuds of Appalachia.

Within a couple of years, at the age of seventeen, Evans made up her mind to marry a car salesman she loved, but her parents were aghast at the idea. They asked Evans' godmother and mentor Crawford to “talk some sense into her” and squelch the idea. For whatever reason, Crawford supported the union and instead held a wedding at her home for the couple, completely circumventing Eunson and Albert's wishes (not even inviting them!) Albert never again spoke to Crawford and Eunson, author of The Star, was suspected of lacing that screenplay with unflattering attributes that mirrored Crawford's ways.

The laugh was on them, though, because not only did the marriage last beyond the demise of everyone else involved and result in two children, but Evans and her husband Kirby Weatherly remain wed to this day, nearly 60 years later! They now reside in Nevada. Crawford must have somehow sensed, despite her own rocky choices when it came to romance, that this was the real deal!

I hope you got a kick out of this latest "Fun Find." I try to share my unusual discoveries here whenever I'm able to.


Michael O'Sullivan said...

What a fun find! My treasure is "Whos Who in Hollywood 1966"! I knew I knew the name Doug McClelland - he wrote a terrific Susan Hayward biography "The Divine Bitch". I want to re-read it again now.

Michael O'Sullivan said...

Great too to see all those old-timers out enjoying themselves!

Poseidon3 said...

Thanks, Michael. I read that Hayward bio eons ago, too! I have it somewhere in paperback. He wrote a biography on Eleanor Parker that is extremely elusive and VERY expensive when located. I've always wanted it, but won't pay for it what it's usually offered at.

Poseidon3 said...

So of course out of the blue there is no longer a "Show Original" button in that photo viewer screen... How aggravating! Sorry for those who tried to see these pages in full size and couldn't. Blogger is hell bent these days on putting me out of "business."

Poseidon3 said...

For those coming across this post who cannot read the scans of the pages, you can right click on them and choose "Open in a New Window" and then, once opened, click again to magnify the picture to its original large size! Thanks.

chrisjames17 said...

I knew Brian O'Dowd from the mid to late 80's; He was british born and had been in the merchant navy; he must have settled in the states during the 70's but still retained a fairly clear british accent. He did work in wardrobe but also loved his writing and photography; a very artistic man. I stayed with Brian whilst travelling the states in October 1987, his home was full of some amazing movie memorabilia amongst them a signed photo of Jon-Erik and Brian spoke very warmly of him when asked. During my visit Brian worked on an episode of Moonlighting and General Hospital and had worked on films such as Psycho 2 and 3 with Anthony Perkins with whom he was good friends; i was fortunate enough to be introduced to Anthony who was such a nice guy. Unfortunately i lost touch with Brian around 1990/91 and only very recently learned that he sadly passed a few years ago. During his career Brian worked with some gorgeous people so having an attraction to some of them would'nt have been difficult and lets face it who wouldnt have had a huge attraction to Jon-Erik.