Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Fun Finds: Modern Screen - February, 1961

The last time I shared a Fun Find, it was a magazine scanned not by me, but by a very considerate and thoughtful reader who took the reins on that (not so small) bit of labor and then sent the results to me for commentary.  That very same reader later sent me yet another magazine for me to share with all of you! So today, at last, we're going to peruse another Fun Find. The donor went even farther than I ever do in that he scanned virtually every page of the periodical, including all the lengthy stories in their entirety (I usually provide an overview of what all the garbled prose pans out to be.) So I'll be putting them all here for you to read (and to try to provide some overall continuity, the pages may be out of order.) Not every pic will include remarks from me. The cover story for this issue is the wedding of MGM musical star Debbie Reynolds to her second husband Harry Karl.

Sal Mineo was Oscar-nominated for Exodus (1960), but lost to Peter Ustinov in Spartacus. The Q&A column was rather fascinating. I was bemused by the curt, brief, blunt answers given in some of the queries! June Allyson did remain wed to Dick Powell, though there was a rough spot in which she fell for Alan Ladd, but Powell died in 1963 of cancer. It's believed that he developed the cancer through work on The Conqueror (1956), which was shot amid nuclear testing fallout. Interesting to think about Jane Powell in The Music Man (1962), though Robert Preston did team very well with Shirley Jones.

Considering how many hundreds (thousands?) of movies I have seen, it may surprise you to know that I have never watched ANY of the four films reviews on this page!

I'm pretty sure I've never seen these two either...! Ha!

Man, Debbie is all over this mag! I think ads like this, with all sorts of convoluted looking undergear, helped steer me in another direction as a kid...!

"Hugh O'Brian and his Queen?" I really don't think that story is going to turn out the way I'm hoping! LOL Fun to see legendary columnist Louella still going at this time.

Not too long after this, Debbie and Shirley would have a notable conversation about movie parts. Shirley was in serious consideration to play the title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), but Debbie desperately wanted it, telling the younger actress that she'd have many other opportunities, but that this was a rare one for her. MacLaine couldn't take the part anyway because of a contract with Hal Wallis (and Judy Garland was also considered.) When Debbie landed the part, Shirley accused her of low-balling her salary to win it! Debbie got an Oscar nom, but lost to Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. The twosome, along with other intermingled/tangled actresses Joan Collins and Elizabeth Taylor, costarred in the TV-movie These Old Broads in 2001.

Leticia Roman didn't wind up making that film with Coop... he passed away in May of 1961, having been riddled with cancer, at age 60. Speaking of passing away, Taina Elg's costar (whose name was actually Raf Mattioli!) was only 23 when he dropped of a heart attack during the movie. It was completed nonetheless (his was a supporting part.) Elg is still with us today at 92! I was stunned several years back to attend a tour of the musical Titanic and see her on stage as Ida Strauss. Teri Janssen appeared as a stewardess in her brother's movie (renamed Twenty Plus Two, 1961) and that was the end of her screen career. She married (not to Peter Brown) in 1961 and later had two children.

Not too much of note came from O'Brian's squiring of Soraya, but in looking her up, she had quite a dramatic life while second wife to the Shah of Iran. I'm surprised no movie was ever made of her struggles with infertility and conflict with her husband's right-hand man (who she loathed.) In other news, Marilyn and Yves affair nearly wrecked his marriage to Simone Signoret, though it did persevere.

I just had to grin at Louella's speculation of an Oscar nom for Doris Day in Midnight Lace (1960)! I mean, I love the movie, but no... She did manage to name all four winners from that year, though: Lancaster, Taylor, Ustinov and Jones. Hilariously, until I read the caption, I thought that Guy Madison's wife Sheila was Elizabeth Taylor in a startled shot. (They did have similarities.) She's still alive today at 93! Their union officially ended in 1963.

I wasn't familiar with Johnny Horton prior to this. He and two members of his band were struck by a truck on a bridge amid fog (and in some reports by a drunk driver.) He was only 35 and had just enjoyed hit songs such as "Sink the Bismarck" and "North to Alaska," the theme from the 1960 John Wayne movie of the same name.

Oh, honey... this was far from the last of trouble anyone was about to hear about Cleopatra! (Released at last in 1963.) Boone later made a movie called The Main Attraction (1962) in which he played a sort of "bad boy" who was also (implied) sexually active with more than one woman. He fought to have the movie trimmed of it's steamier moments, though the poster was, for him, more suggestive than usual. [No scene like the photo appeared in the finished film.] 

The Tab Hunter dog scandal was appalling. Hunter always loved animals, including his trusty canine pal, but had his character smeared by reports of abuse. But thankfully he was cleared.

Were you born in February? Perhaps you share a birthday with a star.

Well, the timing of this article is a little interesting considering recent world events...

Prokhorenko was, ironically enough, born in Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. Ballad of a Soldier (1959) had won the Grand Prix at Cannes and she was helping to promote the movie in the U.S.

The young lady's name was actually Zhanna, but maybe the editors didn't think that readers of the time would understand how to pronounce that? She went on to a reasonably prolific career on the Russian big screen, retiring in the early-2000s.

She passed away in 2011 age at 71, having suffered from depression ever since her second husband was murdered during a burglary in their home in 1995.

Whatever the angle of this headline, I can't say I ever associate George Peppard and Beatniks together.

Mr. Peppard, later to be Banacek and head of The A-Team (and, before he was replaced, Blake Carrington on Dynasty!)

Peppard was working on what would become an enduring favorite of many (and perhaps his signature film), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961.)

He had a certain level of egotism and arrogance, which comes through a bit in this article, and which cost him a number of jobs (and friends) in the industry over the years. 

This is a lengthy article on one of MGM's key actresses of the 1940s & '50s.

Here, Miss Garson auditions for the role of Jane in the next Tarzan feature... Just kidding.

I've said this before, but I don't know what it is... the style of writing, my own failure to comprehend...? But I have so much trouble reading and fully grasping the bulk of these stories! Maybe my own blatherings are the same to some people. I can never quite understand the trajectory of some of the writing from these mags. (And this is coming from someone who reads part of a non-fiction book at least once a day.)

There's a fascinating tone to this story... Pleading, protective and rather accusatory.

It wouldn't be long before Taylor went from precariously unhealthy widow turned wife to worldwide harlot for her affair with Richard Burton!

Elizabeth Taylor seemed to be able to be everything, good or bad, in her tumultuous, splendiferous life.

Miss Nancy Kwan was just bursting onto the scene.

The second part of the story on Kwan is on the last page of Greer Garson's, just above "Eddie, Bring Liz Home!" a few pics back.

Kwan's second film wound up being Flower Drum Song (1961), which led to considerable attention. Though she worked thereafter, she could not quite continue the level of fame she enjoyed in the early-1960s. She balanced film, TV and stage (believe it or not, playing Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Singapore Repertory Theatre in 1994!) She is 82 today.

Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.

The second part of this story is on the same page as the last part of Janna Prokhorenko's above. This copy is all over the place, which is another reason why I tend not to scan all of it for this blog.

Nancy Sinatra and Tommy Sands' marriage was kaput after five years in 1965. Sands had just done a supporting role in a movie (None But the Brave) directed by and costarring Frank Sinatra, with rumors swirling that Sands' WAY over-the-top acting had been encouraged by his father-in-law in order to stymie his future acting career. It's true that he overacted, but unlikely that Sinatra would try to weaken his own movie that way, even in retaliation for upsetting his little girl.

June Blair had been Playboy Magazine's Playmate of the month in January, 1957.

Um, I think she was well out of that relationship with Dick Sargent...! Wasn't likely to workout/last.

Considering the MANY dates Blair had been going on, it may surprise you that she wed David Nelson (of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) in May of 1961 and proceeded to play herself on the show periodically through 1966. (They divorced in 1975.) She is 88 now.

Here is the cover story couple, Harry Karl and Miss Debbie Reynolds.

Reynolds had been front-page gossip as hubby Eddie Fisher left her (and their two kids) to marry the widow of his best friend, Elizabeth Taylor. Now, she was moving on to her own new relationship.

Considering the way things turned out (Karl was a compulsive gambler, who lost most of Reynolds' money and all of his own), this question is pretty apt...

Karl, a millionaire shoe manufacturer, was married (and divorced) two times to actress Marie McDonald! Two of his children with McDonald were adopted. The third was born during their brief second marriage. Reynolds would suffer two stillbirths during her marriage to Karl.

In 1975, not long after her divorce from Karl, she had to sell the home they'd lived in.

This photo of playwright Arthur Miller and his soon-to-be ex-wife Marilyn Monroe accompanies the next article.

Their divorce was final in January of 1961.


Loren's love life was quite tangled in the beginning. She met the married Carlo Ponti when she was 15. They eventually fell in love and were married (by proxy) in Mexico. But they later had to have that marriage annulled in order for Ponti to avoid bigamy charges.

The child referred to was miscarried. She suffered three miscarriages prior to her two sons' births. She took complete bed rest during both pregnancies, which accounts for gaps in her film career around 1968 and 1973.

Her troubles weren't quite over all the way when the couple finally wed for good in 1966. She wound up in a tax evasion scenario and served 18 days in prison as a result! Sophia is 87 today.

Clark Gable was the practically undisputed King of Hollywood. He was an actor in the 1920s, but was a leading man for 30 straight years (1931-1961) and rarely experienced a flop (one exception, which put him off of screen accents for good, was the Ireland-set Parnell, 1937.)

Rather amazing, when you look at the prior photo of his weathered face, he was only 59 when he died of a (second) heart attack.

Having always wanted a son, his fifth wife gave birth to John Clark Gable four months after his death. (He had, of course, secretly sired a daughter with Loretta Young in 1935, which was not made public during his lifetime.)

James Stewart (sans hairpiece) and Spency Tracy were pallbearers.

For me, Gable's sex appeal was chiefly limited to the early-1930s (the pinnacle being 1932's Red Dust), so I close this post with a photo montage not from the magazine which I put together from a few favorite shots. Till next time!


rigs-in-gear said...

Hah! I had one of those "Golden Friendship Rings" shown on page 61. Seems everybody had one. However, I don't believe I got it free with my purchase of a box of Teen Modess. I think the point of the long, driveling articles is that your eyes constantly drift to the far more interesting ads on the perimeters. POEMS WANTED "poims? I write poims!" DO YOU DOODLE? "I'm doodling right now!"

SkippyDevereaux said...

I just love Johnny Horton's song--"The Battle of New Orleans"!! I found it on YouTube and remember this song when I was around 4 years old!!

hsc said...

"The Battle of New Orleans" was a *huge* crossover hit for some reason-- #1 on the Billboard chart and on a number of others. I had a 45 of it, and it used to turn up on the radio for *years* after it first came out.

The reason that George Peppard was linked to beatniks in that article is that he had just starred in THE SUBTERRANEANS (1960), based on a book by Jack Kerouac, where he plays a young man who moves into their world. The article mentions the recent credit, but doesn't spell out the connection-- since it was so recent, maybe they didn't feel it was necessary at the time.

(It was a big money-loser for MGM, despite having a good cast and controversial subject matter; OTOH, Ranald MacDougall sometimes turned out some really hooty material-- like QUEEN BEE (1955) and GO NAKED IN THE WORLD (1961)-- and this one is no exception.)

These movie magazine posts are always so enjoyable-- not only are there all those juicy bits on old-school celebs, but the ads alone are priceless. And in my case, about as much of a nostalgia trip as the celeb info, given that my Mom used to actually use some of those products!

I had been wondering for years what a skin care product she briefly used was called-- I just knew it was a clear, "ice blue" gel in a jar. Now I know it was "Ice-O-Derm"! I don't think it lasted long on the market, or maybe they just stopped selling it locally. I also spotted Noreen hair tint and Dark Eyes lash dye as two products that turned up in our home.

Thanks for another wonderful fun post! As always, be safe and well, everyone! said...

Hi Poseidon,
Always loved Carrie Fisher's two suggestions as titles for her mother's memoirs: "Singin' in the Pain" and "Money Dearest!"
Cheers, Rick

A said...

Great post, Poseidon. I don't have much to add, but it got me reading about Clark Gable. Fun fact: In the 1920s, Clark Gable worked in the 2nd floor Men's Department of Meier & Frank in Portland, Oregon. Growing up in Portland, I worked in the same Men's Department there in the 1970s (one of the cruisiest places in town, btw).

Thanks again, Poseidon. Keep up the good work!

Gingerguy said...

Poor Debbie! Henry Karl was the thief and not particularly youthful looking, though she was very much so then. I would have given an Oscar to Doris Day for her elevator scream in "Midnight Lace". It's kind of fun to read this magazines promoting movies that weren't fully cast, to see what might have been.
I have heard many stories about Nancy Kwan's post 60's career. I have heard, no proof, that she played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz on stage and included songs from her cabaret act!
I love these time travel magazines

hsc said...

The main thing I remember Nancy Kwan from in later years were those '80s commercials she did for something called "Pearl Cream," a wrinkle cream "made from real pearls":

"Try it for a full ten days, and if your friends don't *actually* accuse you of having a face lift, return it for a full refund!"

Okay, that's getting really specific with that guarantee...

vinboy said...

Hi, Poseidon. This post is a nice surprise. To see the magazine is from February 1961, the month and year I was born is a thrill! Love the little tid-bits on the stars. I wasn't aware George Peppard was arrogant and conceited. I remember a commercial from back in the 80's or 90's that showed briefly a man resembling George Peppard sitting in a chair. I forgot what the commercial was but it did get a lot of buzz. I remember reading many letters in "TV Guide" about the commercial. Viewers asked TV Guide if the actor in the ad was George Peppard. One of the letters came from someone who said HE was the actor in the commercial and takes insult to the fact people confuse him with "that peasant George Peppard". The writer of the letter went on to say he was much more talented and a better actor than Peppard. I, too remember Nancy Kwan from the Pearl Cream commercials. Thank you for sharing another delightful post, Poseidon. I can't get enough of your wonderful Blog.

Shawny said...

I loved reading the bitchy responses in The Inside Story. I didn't read through much more though. The ads are so obvious in the messaging. A lot of our current ads are basically the same but the fucked up messaging is expertly disguised. I have always had a thing for older Gable. GWTW and all the way to Misfits. Sigh...gimme a gray Gable any day.

Poseidon3 said...

rigs-in-gear, that stands to reason. Lord knows I just get brain bleary the longer I try to absorb some of that text...! LOL about the "poims."

Skippy, I will have a listen!

hsc, maybe I just haven't paid close enough attention, but I NEVER see "The Subterraneans" being run...! If I do, I'll give it a gander. I'm so glad you were able to solve that cosmetic mystery with this mag! Thanks.

Rick, Ha! Carrie really grew up having learned how to turn a phrase.

A, that's interesting. And, of course, CG did allegedly let George Cukor try a sample from his own men's department!

Gingerguy, I can not understand what on earth led Debbie to marry Karl... maybe an unwarranted sense of security for the kids and her? She had terrible luck with the opposite sex.

hsc, that Pearl Cream ad on TV was my INTRODUCTION to Nancy Kwan! My second glimpse of her was in an R&H tribute special which showed her enjoying being a girl in the 3-way mirror. :-) Hysterical product guarantee.

vinboy, that's neat that the mag's publication date coincides with your own debut into the world. I always like to see things like that, too, to know what was happening in the world when I hatched. LOL I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog. I appreciate it!!

Shawny, glad I could top off your "catty tank" a little bit. Ha ha! I avoid most advertising to be honest, but the old ones (from say 1990 on back) amuse me, so there's at least that bit of value. Thanks!