The past week has been so exhausting with all the revisions on the book, that I am taking the easy road one last day. Here’s another gorgeous shot of Ann from the 1932/33 honeymoon scrapbook.
My apologies for the slew of short posts. This past week has been a whirlwind of going through everything in the recently acquired collection of Ann’s personal items, deciding what is relevant for the book, and making the last minute revisions to a manuscript that is scheduled to go to the typesetter this week. Everything is finally winding down, so in the meantime here is another photo of Ann Dvorak and Leslie Fenton from the honeymoon scrapbook.
I am still dealing with 11th hour revisions on the book, so enjoy this lovely shot of Ann surrounded by one of her favorite things – flowers.
For the first five films Ann made for Warner Bros. in 1932, she was actually under contract to Howard Hughes and his Caddo Company, but on an exclusive loan-out to the Burbank studio. Three on a Match was the first film she made after Hughes had agreed to sell her contract. However, the deal had not been fully completed and Warner Bros. had not completed drafting one of their contracts for her.
Then, she made that mortal sin of skipping town for eight months and was still working under the conditions of the Caddo contract. This ultimately worked out in her favor, as the language regarding suspension time being tacked onto the end was vague so Warner chose not to add the many months on. Even though she returned in March of 1933, there was haggling to be done with her agent, Myron Selznick. Finally, all the kinks were hammered out and on May 18, 1933, Ann Dvorak signed the document and became Warner Bros.’ property.
I am still in the midst of making 11th hour revisions to the manuscript based on new info and photos from a recently acquired collection of Ann’s personal items. So, instead of having to endure my blathering on, here’s a lovely photo on Ann on her 1932 honeymoon in Europe.
Since I am frantically updating my manuscript based on the stash of Ann Dvorak personal items I received this week, the posts for the moment are going to be short and sweet. I thought I would show off some of the items from the collection. Here is a lovely shot of Ann and Leslie Fenton attending the West Cost premiere of Gone With the Wind at the Carthay Circle Theatre in 1939. The quality is not good enough to use in the book, but I think it’s ok for here.
More to come!
Ann Dvorak was not an easy subject to research for a full-length biography. She did not have children or any other close family members at the time of her death and did not leave behind personal papers to a research institution. I had to put her life together piece by piece which sometimes seemed like an impossible task, especially for her later years. All along I have been repeatedly told, “Just wait until the book comes out and then people will come out of the woodwork with info about Ann.” I figured this would be true, but did not expect for a bombshell to be dropped on me before the release date.
Three weeks after I submitted my final draft to the publisher, I received a cryptic message from someone claiming to have Ann’s possessions. My first reaction was, “yeah right,” especially when this person said that the contents included a large number of photos of Ann with Howard Hughes. They were not forthcoming with details, and for someone who was interested in selling the stuff, it was like pulling teeth to get any info out of them. Finally, I was able to determine that what this person had was a scrapbook of photos from Ann’s 1932 honeymoon. So, the man in the images was not Howard Hughes, but Leslie Fenton. The contents also included letters from a friend, routine papers like cancelled checks and bank statements, along with Ann’s journal. In other words, it was a collection of items I had been dreaming of finding for over a decade.
Well, this person was giving me such a hard time that I had to turn the matter over to a close friend who is also an agent and deals with difficult people all the time. It took two months, but the package finally came on Monday and even though not everything I was promised was there, the bulk of it is. The journal was misrepresented, as it’s only one entry from 1977, but there is an Ann Dvorak-sums-up-her-life quote, which is very insightful. It’s really the photo scrapbook that is a crown jewel. Dozens and dozens of photos, like the one above, of a young and vibrant Ann, madly in love, and seeing the world for the first time. That she held onto these photos for 30 years after the marriage ended and until her dying day speaks volumes about how powerful these memories were.The price I agreed on was far less than the $5,000 they asked for, but way more than the stuff was worth. However, the thought of Ann’s honeymoon album rotting in the trunk of this person’s car broke my heart, so I caved.
The good news is that my copy editor is awesome and invested in the book, so she’s working with me to squeeze in the additional information from Ann’s final years. I thought we were passed the point of no return on the photos, but I just found out that I can include these, though will have to sacrifice some of my previous choices to keep the photo count at 69. I think it’s worth it though.
If this is what’s going to happen pre-pub, I hate to think of what’s in store once the book comes out!
I have been up to my neck in edit approvals the passed two weeks and had a very strange Ann-related turn of events occur yesterday. I am taking the easy way out today by posting a photo of Ann & James Cagney in The Crowd Roars. Tomorrow, I promise to have a rather amazing and slightly frustrating Biography Progress Report.
Ann Dvorak and Leslie Fenton were known as one of Hollywood’s most reclusive couples. They still made it out every so often, and the Hollywood Brown Derby seems to have been a have been a favorite hang out. Here they are with actress Isabel Jewell who made A LOT of movies, but is best known for her mere moments of screen time in Gone With the Wind as “that white trash” Emmy Slattery.
Anyone up for a Cobb Salad?