Monthly Archives: April 2013

Home Sweet Home

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 120

I’m back home in L.A. after a week and a half  in the Midwest and am still sporting this nasty head-cold. So, today’s post is a quickie of Ann at her Encino home sweet home in 1934.

Oh, The Wonderful People I Have Known Because of Ann Dvorak

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 119

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Me and “The Boys” at my Ann-Land wedding.

Last week I posted a list of the ways Ann Dvorak has impacted my life the past 15 years. Number one on that list was the wonderful people I have met because of Ann, and I thought I would share some of those awesome folk here. First up are Erik Larson & Tony Pinizzotto, who my husband and I affectionately refer to as The Boys. I didn’t exactly meet them because of Ann Dvorak, but she ultimately brought us together.

Dvorak & O’Brien In “I Sell Anything,” My Great Chicago Find

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 118

There are some pieces in my collection that I adore, just because I find them to be visually appealing. This is the case with my favorite photo of Ann which I posted a few days back. There are other items I am partial to because of the circumstances under which I found them. As is the case with this photo of Ann Dvorak & Pat O’Brien in I Sell Anything.

Being in Chicago this weekend reminded me of when I found this photo nine years ago. It was in the spring of 2004 and I visited the city with some friends in order to attend the Hollywood Collectors Show. This was back in my pre-marriage, pre-parenthood, hard-core collecting days when I could do something like hop a plane in order to attend a memorabilia convention. The show turned out to have mainly the same dealers who would set up at a similar Los Angeles show, so it was a bit of a disappointment.

However, while sightseeing near Wrigley Field, we discovered this little shop stuffed to the gills with all kinds of vintage paper which included some movie related things. After digging for a while, we started to leave when the shopkeeper showed us a list of actors & actresses he had photos of. There was no Ann Dvorak, but I asked for the Pat O’Brien folder, knowing they had made a couple of films together. Low and behold, in that folder was this gorgeous image from I Sell Anything. It’s probably one of my least favorite Ann films, but the photo is pretty and makes for a good story.

Dvorak & Muni in “Scarface”

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 117

Because I am in Chicago this weekend, and am so sick I can barely keep my eyes open, today’s quickie post is a shot of Ann Dvorak & Paul Muni on the mean streets of Chicago in Scarface. And by the mean streets of Chicago, I mean a Hollywood backlot.

Hope to be running at 100% soon.

Ann & Buster in “Three on a Match”

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 116

Today, my husband, toddler, and I woke up at 5am to drive from Des Moines to Chicago. I might add that I have come down with a nasty cold. By the time we reach the Windy City, my daughter and I are probably going to look and feel like Ann and Buster Phelphs at the end of Three on a Match.

My Favorite Ann Dvorak Photo

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 115

This image of Ann Dvorak as Cesca Camonte in Scarface is my all-time favorite photo of her. I have used it in multiple posts over the years (including one earlier this week), and for the first 5 years this website was up, it was the image posted on the entry page.

I’m not exactly sure why it’s my favorite. I guess it’s mainly because it is such a striking photo of Ann who has at least three feet of make-up piled on her face, along with two cans of hairspray. From this point on, Ann was always a glamorous movie star, but never looked quite this way again.

This is the lone photo I own from a former Hollywood shop called Collector’s Bookstore. Their prices stank and the guys who worked there were extremely rude, so I never bought anything the handful of times I went in, and usually left the place angry. Someone actually bought this for me for $30 or $35, which was a ridiculous price in 2001. Still, I am happy I have it because it is one of the crown jewels in my collection. And yes, because I love it so much, I did use it in the book.

Ann and Leslie at the Ambassador

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 114

Ann Dvorak and Leslie Fenton had a notorious reputation for being reclusive. Ann was once even quoted as saying something to the extent of “we don’t have any friends nor do we need any.” I’ve come to find that the definition of reclusive is very different for movie-folk as it if for the rest of us schlubs. Maybe the Fentons weren’t being photographed on the town as much as some of the other celebs of the day, but the fact that they attended Hollywood boxing matches on almost a weekly basis means their social life was 1000% more active than mine.

It is true that there are far fewer shots of Ann & Leslie enjoying Hollywood nightlife than others. A friend of mine collects on Norma Shearer and owns hundreds of photos of Norma painting the town red, so I guess you could call them reclusive, comparatively speaking. This image is one of my favorites, where the couple is hanging out at the fabled and dearly departed Ambassador Hotel. Interestingly, I cannot remember when and where I bought it, though I suspect it was an eBay purchase. I was tempted to use it in the book, but the quality isn’t fantastic and it’s a 4×5″ print and didn’t scan too great, so it did not make the final cut. Still, no reason why we can’t enjoy it virtually!

 

 

“Friends of Mr. Sweeney” Lobby Cards

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 113

Ann Dvorak made A LOT of movies in 1934. When she returned from her unauthorized 8-month honeymoon in March of 1933, Warner Bros. let her sit and stew for a long while before they cast her in anything. Once they did put her back to work, they meant business and Ann made eleven movies between September 1933 and the end of 1934.

For some of these movies, I have found very little memorabilia. Take Housewife and Midnight Alibi for example, where I only have a handful of photos. For otherslike Friends of Mr. Sweeney, I have found quite a few lobby cards, and fortunately Ann is on most of them.

Unfortunately, Friends of Mr. Sweeney is far from my favorite Ann Dvorak film. In fact, I have only watched it twice; when I first got my hands on a copy and then in order to write about it for the book. Ann is actually really cute in it, and the flighty Beulah Boyd is a bit of a departure from her usual stoic characters. Still, the over all film is not particularly strong, but at least the lobby cards are pretty.

If I am remembering correctly, I purchased all of these in one fell swoop at an online Bruce Hershenson auction. That would be the only explanation why I would have a card from this movie without Ann on it, even if it is a pretty card.

Life Lessons, Courtesy of Ann Dvorak

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 112

When I first encountered Ann Dvorak in the mid-1990s while watching Three on a Match, I had no idea she would alter my life. Writing a book on Ann has really been a one-of-a-kind experience. Even if I ever decided to write another biography, it would not be possible to duplicate the kind of experiences I have had with Ann over the last 15+ years. I was recently reflecting on my life with Ann and thought I would share 10 things I learned while writing the book and accumulating a hell of a lot of memorabilia.

  1. Writing & collecting on Ann Dvorak has lead me to meet fascinating and wonderful people who I may not have encountered otherwise.
  2. Writing & collection on Ann Dvorak has lead me to meet bizarre and not-so-wonderful people who I may not have encountered otherwise, and wish I hadn’t.
  3. Writing a book on a relatively obscure Hollywood actress is a great ice-breaker at parties.
  4. Choosing Belgium as a vacation destination because Belgian movies posters are pretty is a silly reason.
  5. There’s a hell of a lot of Crooner sheet music in this world.
  6. Giving birth and realizing I had no time to work on an Ann Dvorak biography was somehow a catalyst to find time to work on, and finish, an Ann Dvorak biography.
  7. When writing a 100,000 word manuscript, it’s amazing how many names of celebrities will get misspelled.
  8. Relying only on digitized materials for historical research is a cop-out, as there is still a lot of materials in libraries and archives that need to be accessed the “old fashioned” way.
  9. Interviewing actors about insignificant films made 60 years ago is not necessarily the best way to get information. Also, I am really bad at interviewing actors about insignificant films they made 60 years ago.
  10. It takes a very patient person to marry a woman who has devoted over 15 years to Ann Dvorak.

I could go on, but will stop here. I think it’s safe to say that the past 15 or so years would have not been nearly as exciting without the Divine Miss D.

Ann Passed Out in “Out of the Blue”

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 111

Yesterday, we flew from Los Angeles to Chicago, then hopped in a rental and drove to the in-laws in Des Moines.

Here is a photo a Ann from Out of the Blue looking like I feel.

The Year of Ann Dvorak will get back on track tomorrow.