It’s that time of year here in the San Fernando Valley when the temperatures soar along with our electricity bills. What do Encino residents Ann Dvorak and Leslie Fenton recommend for such hot day? Why, sailing giant toy boats in your swimming pool of course!
Stay cool out there.
I am wrapping up the approval of copyedits which has included re-looking up over 30 articles on microfilm to verify bylines and headlines. Last night I was pulling my hair out trying to find two articles that I had cited incorrectly. I finally found them and am just about ready to send off the approvals. Now, I need to wait for the galleys, and when they arrive I will engage in the fun and exciting task of compiling an index.
While I was waiting for the corrections, I enlisted the aid of my friend Heidi Ryder who happens to be a fantastic photographer. She agreed to take some author photos, one of which will be used on the dust jacket of the book. We did some with and without glasses, smiling or not smiling, and I thought the above image was the winner.
Heidi has also been toying with starting a blog about collectors, and since I already had fake eyelashes on, I agreed to be her guinea pig. It was her idea to suspend photos of Ann from the ceiling, which as you can imagine, was a royal pain and they kept falling down. It was also Heidi’s idea to have me posed with my photos like a teenager with her record collection.
Considering I hate having my photo taken these days, I am happy with how they turned out. It helps to know talented people.
I just picked up this shot of Ann Dvorak & George Raft in Scarface on eBay. By picked it up, I mean I “bought it now,” and am anxiously awaiting its safe arrival from Spain. I had never seen this photo before and jumped at the chance to add it to the collection. The price was a bit of an extravagance but the only other image I have of this fantastic scene of Ann trying to seduce Raft is from a 1979 re-release. Being that I am a movie memorabilia snob, a 1970s still simply does not compare to an original release photo. Ain’t it a beauty?
Our Very Own is going to air on Turner Classic movies on Thursday, May 9th at 8:45pm PST.
I previously talked about my low opinion of She’s No Lady, Ann’s first film as a freelancer. It’s one of her weakest films and one of the few, if only, times she turned in a sub-par performance. The same cannot be said of the poster art for the film, which is absolutely gorgeous. This is the one sheet from the movie and is one of the prettiest posters in my Ann Dvorak collection. I bought it on eBay a few years back and paid more than I would have liked to, but it was the only time I had ever seen it for sale and was not about to let this beauty out of my sight!
Ann Dvorak spent nearly two and half years at M-G-M when she was a teenager. For most of her tenure she was a chorus girl and dance instructor and was usually kept busy, working on a steady stream of films at the studio featuring musical numbers. By 1931, movie audiences had grown tired of the musical craze that talkies had ushered in, and these types of films instantly fell off production schedules. This left Ann with little to do, and while she hoped the studio would start casting her in speaking roles, that didn’t happen.
Instead, she started showing up as a background extra in a handful of films, including the William Haines vehicle, Just a Gigolo. Here she is sitting at a nightclub table, and even though the action is taking place in the foreground, I think she stills stands out. At least she did for me when I came across this photo in the William Haines folder at a local memorabilia shop a few years back.
Last night, my husband and I had a very rare and late evening out on the town. To top that off, we got to spend it at the Magic Castle. So, in honor of our date night, here’s a photo of Ann as Charlene, the magician’s assistant in The Long Night.
The past two weeks, I have been going through corrections made by the copy editor assigned to the Ann Dvorak book. Proofreading is not my strong suit, so I am in awe of anyone with the patience to copy-edit a 100,000+ word manuscript. Since this is my first book, and I have the tendency to abuse commas and under use periods, I appreciate having an expert set of eyes to tighten things up.
What I didn’t expect was for her to be so on her game that she would point out a bunch of citations from newspapers where I failed to note the headlines and bylines. When I first started working at L.A.’s Central Library in 2006, my lunch breaks for the first six months were spent glued to the microfilm machines. I poured over Los Angeles newspapers until my eyes crossed, looking for any mention of Ann. I found a lot of items in the Hollywood columns and just printed out the portion discussing Ann, which means I ended up with a few citations without headlines and bylines. By a few, I mean there were thirty. That’s right, I started this week off with a list of thirty undigitized articles I needed to find the “old fashioned” way.
So, the last couple of days I have been reliving my early years as a librarian with a stack of microfilm by my side and eyeballs ready to start bleeding. My advice to any of you contemplating writing a non-fiction book – get the citations right the first time!
Ann’s in there somewhere!
Yesterday, Ron Hutchinson over at the Vitaphone Project announced that TWO M-G-M shorts featuring Ann Dvorak are going to be restored within the next year. Ok, he did not exactly identify Pirates and Manhattan Serenade as “Ann Dvorak shorts,” but she does happen to be in both of them as a chorus girl. Here’s what Ron had to say about the project over on his Facebook page.
As promised, here’s yet ANOTHER big Technicolor restoration announcement. As you know, after the discovery of the lost Stooges 1933 Technicolor short HELLO POP earlier this year, we began pursuing what other color shorts might be out there. James Layton at George Eastman House shared with me a number of restoration possibilities. GEH has a matching grant in place so that if we developed funding, it would be doubled in impact. The Vitaphone Project was able to quickly obtain three very generous donors who are funding the already announced THE SULTAN’S JESTER, but also these two I’m announcing today: MANHATTAN SERENADE (MGM Colortone, 1929) with Nina Mae McKinney and The Brox Sisters, and PIRATES (MGM Colortone, 1930). James kindly made some frame grabs which I have posted here. The work is required to be completed within a year per the grant. All I can say is NINA MAE McKINNEY IN COLOR!
Ron filled me in about these in early March, so it’s great to finally have the cat out of the bag. These early M-G-M films were the only time Ann was filmed in color. It’s amazing that they actually still exist, and a restoration by the George Eastman House is truly heartwarming to this here Ann-D fanatic.