Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Born to Dance" Dancer & Actress Eleanor Powell 1982 Hollywood Forever Cemetery


Eleanor Torrey Powell (November 21, 1912 – February 11, 1982) was an American dancer and actress.

Best remembered for her exuberant solo tap numbers in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s, Powell began studying ballet aged six and began dancing at nightclubs in Atlantic City before she was a teenager. From the age of sixteen, she began studying tap and started appearing in musical revues on Broadway, before making her Hollywood debut as a featured dancer in the movie George White's Scandals (1935).

She was known as one of MGM's top dancing stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood in a series of musical vehicles tailored especially for her talents, such as Born to Dance (1936), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) and Rosalie (1937), believed to be equalled only by Fred Astaire in terms of dancing talent. In 1965, she was named the World’s Greatest Tap Dancer by the Dance Masters of America.



Early life

Powell was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. A dancer since childhood, she was discovered at the age of 11 by the head of the Vaudeville Kiddie revue, Gus Edwards. When she was 17, she brought her graceful, athletic style to Broadway, where she starred in various revues and musicals. During this time, she was dubbed "the world's greatest tap dancer" due to her machine-gun footwork, and in the early 1930s appeared as a chorus girl in a couple of early, inconsequential musical films.



Road to Hollywood

In 1935, the leggy, fresh-faced Powell made the move to Hollywood and did a speciality number in her first major film, George White's 1935 Scandals which she later described as a disaster because she was accidentally made up to look like an Egyptian. The experience left her unimpressed with Hollywood and when she was courted by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she initially refused their offers of a contract. Reportedly, Powell attempted to dissuade the studio by making what she felt were unreasonable salary demands, but MGM agreed to them and she finally accepted. The studio groomed her for stardom, making minimal changes in her makeup and conduct.



Film stardom

She was well received in her first starring role in 1935 At Home Abroad (in which she was supported by Jack Benny and Frances Langford), and delighted 1930s audiences with her endless energy and enthusiasm, not to mention her stunning dancing. According to dancer Ann Miller, quoted in the "making-of" documentary That's Entertainment! III, MGM was headed for bankruptcy in the late 1930s, but the films of Eleanor Powell, particularly Broadway Melody of 1936, were so popular they made the company profitable again. Miller also credits Powell for inspiring her own dancing career, which would lead her to become an MGM musical star a decade later.



Powell would go on to star opposite many of the decade's top leading men, including James Stewart, Robert Taylor, Fred Astaire, George Murphy, Nelson Eddy, and Robert Young. Among the films she made during the height of her career in the mid-to-late 1930s were Born to Dance (1936), Rosalie (1937), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), Honolulu (1939), and Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940). All of these movies featured her amazing solo tapping, although her increasingly huge production numbers began to draw criticism. Her characters also sang, but Powell's singing voice was usually (but not always) dubbed. (This would also happen to one of Powell's successors, Cyd Charisse). Broadway Melody of 1940, in which Powell starred opposite Fred Astaire, featured an acclaimed musical score by Cole Porter.


Together, Astaire and Powell danced to Porter's "Begin the Beguine," which is considered by many to be one of the greatest tap sequences in film history. According to accounts of the making of this film, including a documentary included on the DVD release, Astaire was somewhat intimidated by Powell, who was considered the only female dancer ever capable of out-dancing Astaire. In his autobiography Steps in Time, Astaire remarked, "She 'put 'em down like a man,' no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself."



Decline in popularity

Following Broadway Melody of 1940 Powell was sidelined for many months following a gall stone operation and things changed somewhat for the worse, at least as far as Powell's movie career was concerned. Lady Be Good (1941) gave Powell top billing and a classic dance routine to "Fascinatin' Rhythm." The same happened with Red Skelton in Ship Ahoy (1942) and I Dood It (1943), although in Ship Ahoy her character nonetheless played a central role in the story, and Powell's dance skills were put to practical use when she manages to tap out a morse code message to a secret agent in the middle of a dance routine. 



In a routine from Ship Ahoy, she dances to the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Buddy Rich on drums and the two perform a great musical partnership with the number "Tallulah." She was signed to play opposite Dan Dailey in For Me and My Gal in 1942, but the two actors were removed from the picture during rehearsals and replaced by Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. Later, production of a new Broadway Melody film that would have paired Powell with Kelly was also cancelled.



She parted ways with MGM in 1943 after her next film, Thousands Cheer, in which she appeared only for a few minutes to perform a specialty number (as part of an all-star cast), and the same year married actor Glenn Ford. She danced in a giant pinball machine in Sensations of 1945 (1944) for United Artists, but the film was a critical and commercial disappointment. Her performance was overshadowed by what was to be the final film appearance of W. C. Fields. She then retired to concentrate on raising her son, actor Peter Ford, who was born that year (although she did appear in a couple of documentary-style short subjects about celebrities in the late 1940s). Overseas audiences did get to see one additional Powell dance performance in 1946, however, when the compilation The Great Morgan was released, which included a number that had been cut[1] from Honolulu.

In 1950, Powell returned to MGM one last time in Duchess of Idaho, starring Esther Williams. Appearing as herself in a nightclub scene, a hesitant Powell is invited to dance by Van Johnson's character, and she begins with a staid, almost balletic performance until she is chided by Johnson for being lazy. She then strips off her skirt, revealing her famous legs, and proceeds to perform a "boogie-woogie"-style specialty number very similar to the one she performed in Thousands Cheer seven years earlier. Williams, in her autobiography The Million Dollar Mermaid, writes of being touched, watching Powell rehearsing until her feet bled, in order to make her brief appearance as perfect as possible.



Later career: TV and stage

After Duchess of Idaho, Powell returned to private life. In May 1952, she emerged as a guest star on an episode of All Star Revue with Danny Thomas and June Havoc. Around this time, she was ordained a minister of the Unity Church and later hosted an Emmy Award-winning[2] Sunday morning TV program for youth entitled The Faith of Our Children (1953–1955). Her son, Peter Ford, was a regular on this show and would later find his own success as a rock and roll singer and as an actor. In 1955, Powell made her last-ever film appearance when she appeared in Have Faith in Our Children, a three-minute short film produced for the Variety Club of Northern California in which Powell asked viewers to donate to the charity. The short, which other than its title had no relation to the TV series, marked the only time Powell appeared on screen with Glenn Ford.



Powell divorced Ford in 1959, and that year, encouraged by Peter, launched a highly publicized nightclub career, including appearances at Lou Walter's Latin Quarter in Boston. She maintained her good figure and looks well into middle age. Her live performances continued well into the 1960s. 



During the early 1960s she made several guest appearances on variety TV programs, including The Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace. She made her final public appearance in 1981 at a televised American Film Institute tribute to Fred Astaire, where she received a standing ovation.



Death

Eleanor Powell died February 11, 1982, of cancer, aged 69, and was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood in the Cathedral Mausoleum, Foyer Niche 432, Tier 3.






Reintroduction

Powell was reintroduced to audiences in the popular That's Entertainment! documentary in 1974, and its sequels That's Entertainment Part II (1976) and That's Entertainment! III (1994) and the related film That's Dancing! (1985) which spotlight her dancing from films such as Broadway Melody of 1940, Lady Be Good, and Born to Dance. She is one of only a few performers to be the subject of spotlight segments (as opposed to being included in a montage with other performers) in all four films. That's Entertainment! III is notable for including behind-the-scenes footage of her "Fascinatin' Rhythm" routine from Lady Be Good.

Powell's films continue to be broadcast on television regularly by Turner Classic Movies, with most released in the VHS video format in 1980s and 1990s. North American DVD release of her work has been slower in coming. Aside from clips from her films being included in the aforementioned That's Entertainment! trilogy, plus clips that were featured in other releases such as the 2002 special edition DVD release of Singin' in the Rain, it wasn't until the 2003 DVD release of Broadway Melody of 1940 that a complete Powell film was released in the format. In February 2007, Warner Home Video announced plans to release a boxed DVD set of Eleanor Powell's musical films by year end.[3] This did not occur; instead, on April 8, 2008 Warner released a third boxed set in the Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory series, with nine films, four of which star Powell: Broadway Melody of 1936, Born to Dance, Broadway Melody of 1938, and Lady Be Good. The films are expected to be released in individual two film sets (the two Broadway Melody films in one set, Born to Dance/Lady Be Good on the other) later in the year. Since 2007 several other Powell films have emerged on DVD, including Rosalie, I Dood It and Sensations of 1945.

Filmography

Features

Queen High (1930) 
George White's 1935 Scandals (1935) 
Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) 



Born to Dance (1936) 

Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) 




Rosalie (1937) 




Honolulu (1939) 

Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) 




Lady Be Good (1941) 

Ship Ahoy (1942) 
Thousands Cheer (1943) 
I Dood It (1943) 
Sensations of 1945 (1944) 
Duchess of Idaho (1950)

Short Subjects

No Contest! (1934) 
Screen Shapshots Series 15, No. 12 (1936) 
Screen Snapshots: Famous Hollywood Mothers (1947) 
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Holiday (1948) 
Have Faith in Our Children (1955)



Notes

1. Schultz, p. 25 
2. "Ellie wins an Emmy", Screen Stories June 1955, p. 66 
3. Live Chat with Warner Home Video at the Wayback Machine

References

Margie Schultz: Eleanor Powell: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press, 1994, ISBN 0-313-28110-6

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Second Honeymoon" Actress Josephine Dunn 1983 Valley Oaks Cemetery


Josephine Dunn (May 1, 1906 – February 3, 1983) was an American film actress of the 1920s and 1930s.[1]



Biography

Born Mary Josephine Dunn[2] in New York City,[3] Dunn began her career in Hollywood with a small role alongside Thelma Todd in the 1926 film Fascinating Youth.



Dunn became associated with what would become known as the "Algonquin Round Table," which included actress Tallulah Bankhead. She married Clyde Greathouse during the mid-1920s, divorcing him shortly thereafter. In 1925 she married William P. Cameron, whom she also divorced in 1928.[4]



She starred in 23 silent films, and in 1929 she was one of 13 girls named as "WAMPAS Baby Stars," which that year included actress Jean Arthur. In 1930 she made a successful transition, unlike many silent stars, to sound films. 



In 1930 she starred in Safety in Numbers (1930) alongside Carole Lombard and Kathryn Crawford. She starred in sixteen films through 1932, and on January 6, 1933, she married Eugene J. Lewis,[5] whom she divorced in 1935 to marry Carroll Case, whose father Frank Case owned the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, which housed the now famous "Algonquin Round Table." She retired from acting in 1938, and remained with Case for the remainder of his life, until he died in 1978.


Death

Dunn died of cancer on February 3, 1983, in Thousand Oaks, California, aged 76.[3] She is interred at Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California.



Partial filmography

Fascinating Youth (1926)
It's the Old Army Game (1926)
The Sorrows of Satan (1926)




Love's Greatest Mistake (1927)

Fireman, Save My Child (1927)
With Love and Hisses (1927)
Swim Girl, Swim (1927)
She's a Sheik (1927)
Get Your Man (1927)




Excess Baggage (1928)

The Singing Fool (1928)
All At Sea (1929)
Sin Sister (1929)
China Bound (1929)
A Man's Man (1929)
Black Magic (1929)




Melody Lane (1929)

Our Modern Maidens (1929)
Big Time (1929)




Safety in Numbers (1930)




Second Honeymoon (1930)

Madonna of the Streets (1930)
Two Kinds of Women (1932)
Murder at Dawn (1932)
Forbidden Company (1932)
One Hour With You (1932)
Big City Blues (1932)
The Fighting Gentleman (1932)
Murder in the Library (1933)






References

1. allmovie bio 
2. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 213. ISBN 9781476625997. 
3. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 210. ISBN 9780786450190. 
4. "Josephine Dunn, Movie Actress, Soon to Marry." Reading Times. Pennsylvania, Reading. Associated Press. January 15, 1931. p. 9. 
5. "Josephine Dunn Reveals Wedding." The Press Democrat. California, Santa Rosa. United Press. February 7, 1933. p. 1. 



Friday, February 2, 2018

"The Wizard of Oz" Actor Charley Grapewin 1956 Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery


Charles Ellsworth Grapewin (December 20, 1869 – February 2, 1956), stage name Charley Grapewin, was an American vaudeville performer, writer and a stage and silent and sound actor, and comedian who was best known for portraying Aunt Em's husband, Uncle Henry in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Wizard of Oz (1939) as well as Grandpa Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road (1941).[1] He usually portrayed elderly folksy-type characters in a rustic setting, in all appearing in over 100 films. He was the oldest cast member of The Wizard of Oz.


Biography

Born in Xenia, Ohio, Charles Ellsworth Grapewin ran away from home to be a circus acrobat which led him to work as an aerialist and trapeze artist in a traveling circus before turning to acting. He traveled all over the world with the famous P. T. Barnum circus. Interestingly, Grapewin also appeared in the original 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz, 36 years before he would appear in the famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film version.

After this he continued in theatre, on and offstage, for the next thirty years, starting with various stock companies, and wrote stage plays as a vehicle for himself. His sole Broadway theatre credit was the short-lived play It's Up to You John Henry in 1905.

Grapewin married actress Anna Chance (1875–1943) in 1896, and they remained a devoted couple until her death some 47 years later.[2] Two years after his first wife's death, Grapewin married Loretta McGowan Becker on Jan 10, 1945.[3]

Grapewin began in silent films at the turn of the twentieth century. His very first films were two "moving image shorts" made by Frederick S. Armitage and released in November 1900; Chimmie Hicks at the Races (also known as Above the Limit) and Chimmie Hicks and the Rum Omelet, both shot in September and October 1900 and released in November of that year.[4][5][6] 


During his long career, Grapewin appeared in more than one hundred films, including The Good Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Tobacco Road, and in what is probably his best-remembered role: Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz



He also had a recurring role as Inspector Queen in the Ellery Queen film series of the early 1940s.


Grapewin died of natural causes in Corona, California at age 86, and his ashes are interred with his wife's in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California, at the Great Mausoleum's Columbarium of Inspiration.[1]



Partial filmography

The Shannons of Broadway (1929)
The Millionaire (1931)
American Madness (1932)


Hell's House (1932)

The Big Timer (1932)
Are You Listening? (1932)
Lady and Gent (1932)
No Man of Her Own (1932) as George, the Clerk
The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933)
Heroes for Sale (1933)
Midnight Mary (1933)
Pilgrimage (1933)
Beauty for Sale (1933)
Torch Singer (1933)
Judge Priest (1934)
Caravan (1934)
The President Vanishes (1934)
Anne of Green Gables (1934)


Party Wire (1935)


One Frightened Night (1935)

Shanghai (1935)
Alice Adams (1935)
Rendezvous (1935)
Ah, Wilderness! (1935)


The Petrified Forest (1936) as Gramp Maple

Small Town Girl (1936)
Libeled Lady (1936)
Sinner Take All (1936)
The Good Earth (1937)
A Family Affair (1937)


Captains Courageous (1937) as Uncle Salters

Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
The Bad Man of Brimstone (1937)
The Girl of the Golden West (1938)
Three Comrades (1938)
Three Loves Has Nancy (1938)
Listen, Darling (1938)
Stand Up and Fight (1939)


The Wizard of Oz (1939) as Uncle Henry

Dust Be My Destiny (1939)


The Grapes of Wrath (1940) as William James "Grandpa" Joad


Johnny Apollo (1940)

Rhythm on the River (1940)
Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940)


Tobacco Road (1941)


They Died with Their Boots On (1941)


Follow the Boys (1944)

Gunfighters (1947)
Sand (1949)
When I Grow Up (1951)

Prior to The Wizard of Oz, Grapewin appeared in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Broadway Melody of 1938 with both Judy Garland (Oz's Dorothy) and Buddy Ebsen (Oz's original Tin Man). He also appeared with Garland in Listen, Darling.




References

1. "Charles Grapewin Is Dead at 86; Stage Comedian Scored in Movies; Portrayed Jeeter Lester in Film 'Tobacco Road,' Grampa in 'Grapes of Wrath' Was "Pop" in Three Pictures". New York Times. February 3, 1956. Retrieved 2014-01-23. Charles Grapewin, who acted the roles of Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road and of Grampa in Grapes of Wrath in the movies, died today at his home in Corona. His age was 86.
2. "Mrs. Charles Grapewin". New York Times. September 12, 1943. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Mrs. Anna Chance Grapewin, wife of the character actor, Charles Grapewin, died yesterday in the ...
3. "Charles Grapewin Weds Divorcee," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 Jan 1945, page 9, http://fultonhistory.com:8089/highlighter/doc/a08daca9734926a635deb35b3cbed923.pdf#page=1[permanent dead link]
4. Complete Index to World Film, Chimmie Hicks at the Races, accessed 02-19-2009
5. sinema.com (Turkish) Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine., Chimmie Hicks and the Rum Omelet, accessed 02-19-2009
6. Chimmie Hicks at the Races Library of Congress Moving Image Collection, "Chimmie Hicks at the races / American Mutoscope and Biograph Company", accessed 02-19-2009