Happy Birthday, Mary Carlisle!
There are precious few stars of the 1930s who are still with us today, but Mary Carlisle, born Gwendolyn Witter in Los Angeles 102 years ago today, is still going strong, bless her heart.
The last of the WAMPAS Baby Stars (an annual promotional campaign sponsored by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers from 1922-1934 that honored 13 young actresses [the number was 15 in 1932, the year Carlisle was honored] whose careers showed great promise), Carlisle was discovered in 1928 by studio executive Carl Laemmle, Jr. while dining at the Universal Studios commissary. She was just 14.
In 1930, Carlisle signed a one-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, appearing mostly as a dancer in musical shorts, but it was with Paramount Pictures that she would achieve her greatest success. She appeared opposite Bing Crosby in three films—College Humor (1933), Double or Nothing (1937) and Doctor Rhythm (1938)—and would go on to appear in more than sixty pictures in the course of her 14-year career, most of them “B” pictures with titles reminiscent of the early scene in Preston Sturges‘ Sullivan’s Travels, in which successful but artistically frustrated director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is reminded of some of his greatest successes: Ants in Your Plants of 1939, Hey Hey in the Hayloft, and So Long, Sarong.
Think some of Carlisle’s pictures couldn’t have been plugged right into that dialogue, titles like Hotel Haywire (1937), Ship A Hooey! (1932), and Handy Andy (1934)? But we’d pay good money and line up early to see that triple feature tonight, if only some bijou were screening it.
Carlisle was wed to actor James Edward Blakeley (he would go on to become an executive producer at 20th Century-Fox) in 1942 and retired from motion pictures soon thereafter. But more than five dozen pictures is nothing to sneeze at, nor is being vital and alert at the age of 102, which, by all reports, our Mary is.
Happy birthday, Mary! We hope you enjoy a truly grand day!
A New Day for Cladrite Radio!
Well, today is the big day! Cladrite Radio‘s new stream is launched, and you can start listening right away via the embedded player up above (just under the Cladrite Radio banner). There’s even a button that allows you to open the player in a pop-up window, so you can continue sto listen as you make your way around our website (or other sites, for that matter).
You’ll also find Cladrite Radio in the Tune-in Radio app, which allows you to easily listen to us on mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets. We’ll be adding our stream to other services soon, too, and we’ll share that news with you when we do.
There’s also a direct URL you can use to access the stream: http://listen.radionomy.com/cladriteradio. You can use it to listen via iTunes (File > Open Stream) or your web browser.
We’re still familiarizing ourselves with the ins and outs of our new provider—their service works rather differently than Live365 did—so there may be a glitch or two along the way (we’ve not yet managed to add the classic advertisements our listeners so enjoy, for example, but we’ll soon have that solved)—but over time, our broadcast will come to resemble more and more the Cladrite Radio you know and love. For now, our mix of songs isn’t as extensive as you’ve to expect, but it will grow day by day and eventually our library of toe-tapping tunes will be even larger than it was at Live365.
What can you do to help? Listen just as often as you can and for as long as possible. Our new stream provider has listener-hours minimum, and we want to reach that right out of the gate so there’s no risk of us losing our stream. It wasn’t an issue at Live365—they didn’t have a minimum, and they had a large built-in audience of listeners—but this time around, we’re building our audience from the ground up a bit more, and we need everyone who had enjoyed us in the past to listen now and also to help spread the word. Share our station on Facebook and Twitter; there’s a button on the player itself for social sharing, or you could always share this post to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumbler, you name it.
Word of mouth is absolutely vital to us, so if you know anyone, young or old, who likes the kind of music we play, please let them know about us.
We thank you for your loyal listenership through the years, and we look forward to sharing this wonderful music with you for many years to come.
Happy 136th Birthday, W. C. Fields!
W. C. Fields, star of vaudeville, Broadway, radio and movies, was born William Claude Dukenfield in Darby, Pennsylvania, 136 years ago today. You are encouraged to mark the occasion by raising a toast to him. It’s what he would’ve wanted.
What’s My Line? The Lost (and Now Found) Episode
Longtime readers of this blog have probably picked up on the fact that we’re suckers for What’s My Line?—for any game show of the 1950s, really, but especially those programs that featured elegantly dressed, urbane and witty panelists. We’re thinking here of shows such as To Tell the Truth and I’ve Got a Secret.
The best of them all, for our money, was What’s My Line?, in which the point of the game was for the panelists to ask yes-or-no questions to ascertain what each of an ongoing series of guests did for a living. What’s My Line? featured three regular panelists for the majority of its 17 years on the air: journalist/gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, publisher and raconteur Bennett Cerf and actress and television personality Arlene Francis. The fourth seat was filled for three years by buffoonish (in our estimation) comedy writer Hal Block, then Steve Allen (our favorite fourth-seater) and finally by Fred Allen. When Allen passed away on St. Patrick’s Day, 1956, a revolving series of guest panelists filled the fourth seat. Never again would the recurring trio of Arlene, Bennett and Dorothy be a quartet.
The network edition of What’s My Line? came to an end in 1967 (a very different syndicated version would continue for eight more years), but it lives on in the hearts of fans across the country and around the world. There is a What’s My Line? YouTube channel that hosts virtually all of the extant episodes, where they are watched by thousands (the kinescopes of WML? were never copyrighted, so they are in the public domain), and also a very large, very active WML? fan group on Facebook.
It was on FB that a fan recently pointed out that a previously unseen (well, not seen since it first aired) kinescope of a 1950 episode of WML? was up for auction on eBay. The moderator of the YouTube channel sprang into action, with expertise and funding provided by an experienced and avid film collector who is a WML? fan, and the auction was won by the good guys. The collector will retain ownership of the film, but he digitized it so that it could be added to the YouTube channel for fans everywhere to enjoy (collectors are not always inclined to be so generous; they tend to want to keep such rarities to themselves).
And so it is with pleasure that we share this very early episode of What’s My Line? with the Cladrite community. You won’t see Bennett in this episode—he hadn’t yet joined the show—but Dorothy and Arlene are on hand, as is Hal Block and moderator extraordinaire John Charles Daly. Again, this show hasn’t been seen since it first aired on October 1, 1950, so you’ve got quite the rare treat in store. And if you do enjoy it (how could you not?), you’ll want to pop over to the WML? YouTube channel, where literally hundreds more episodes await you.
Happy Birthday, Dan Duryea!
Given his screen persona, Dan Duryea, born 109 years ago today in White Plains, New York, might not strike the average movie buff as an Ivy Leaguer, but he was, in fact, a member of Cornell University’s class of 1928. He majored in English, but was interested in theatre, too. In his senior year, he even succeeded Franchot Tone as president of the college drama society.
Duryea went on to work in advertising for a bit until the stress got to be too much. A mild heart attack in his twenties convinced him to pursue an acting career instead, a move that paid off nicely. He appeared on Broadway in Dead End and The Little Foxes, and it was the latter play that provided his ticket to Hollywood. Though Bette Davis was named to replace his Broadway co-star, Tallulah Bankhead, in the role of Regina Giddens when Sam Goldwyn bought the rights to produce the cinema adaptation of the hit play, Duryea was retained to play her nephew Leo Hubbard, his cinematic bad guy (or, at the very least, his first weasel).
In an early 1950s interview with Hedda Hopper, Duryea claimed that his focus on playing bad guys was intentional, even planned:
“I looked in the mirror and knew with my ‘puss’ and 155-pound weakling body, I couldn’t pass for a leading man, and I had to be different. And I sure had to be courageous, so I chose to be the meanest s.o.b. in the movies … strictly against my mild nature, as I’m an ordinary, peace-loving husband and father. Inasmuch, as I admired fine actors like Richard Widmark, Victor Mature, Robert Mitchum, and others who had made their early marks in the dark, sordid, and guilt-ridden world of film noir; here, indeed, was a market for my talents. I thought the meaner I presented myself, the tougher I was with women, slapping them around in well-produced films where evil and death seem to lurk in every nightmare alley and behind every venetian blind in every seedy apartment, I could find a market for my screen characters.”
We’re not necessarily convinced that Duryea entered the movie business with that much foresight and wisdom, but it sounded good after the fact, and in any case, it’s certainly true that he came to be closely identified with the film noir genre and known for his memorable portrayals of sketchy (at best) characters, in classics such as The Woman in the Window (1944), Scarlet Street (1945),Criss Cross (1949), and Too Late for Tears (1949).
For our money, Dan Duryea was a sort of poor man’s Widmark, but as we see it, there’s not a thing in the world wrong with that.
A nice guy and dedicated family man in real life, Dan Duryea was married to his wife, Helen, for 35 years until her death and was an attentive parent, serving as a scout master and PTA papa to his two sons.
But on screen, he was the sniveling creep you hoped would get his. And while he usually did, he gave as good as he got.
Happy birthday, Mr. Duryea, wherever you may be—you heel, you.
Come and cuddle by the fire in the evening.
We'll forget about the snow and rain.
While the skies are storming, your arms will warm me.
It's winter again!
It's so thrilly when it's chilly in the winter
And the frost is on the window pane.
Hear the sleigh bells ringing, my heart is singing
It's winter again.
The wind may blow.
Who cares, just let it blow.
I'll write to you
Love letters in the snow.
And we'll cuddle by the fire in the evening.
We'll forget about the snow and rain.
While the skies are storming, your arms will warm me.
It's winter again!
—It's Winter Again!
Music: Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart; Lyrics: Arthur Freed, 1932