As many of you may know, I work for the Los Angeles Public Library, overseeing the library’s Photo Collection. A couple of weeks back, the Central Library docents invited me to be the guest speaker at their annual Spring luncheon. Of course, I was honored to receive the invitation but I was especially pleased to be asked to speak about Ann Dvorak. My parents and one of my sisters were able to come, which was great, Â and the audience was very receptive.
The presentation discusses my history with Ann, from when I first encountered her until the completion of the book. It’s pretty much the same talk I gave for LAVA in November, though the quality of this video is probably a bit better.
And don’t forget thatÂ Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten RebelÂ is still 30% off when ordering directly from University Press of Kentucky!
For the last couple of weeks,Â Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten RebelÂ has not been available directly through Amazon. So in the meantime, the University Press of Kentucky is offering 30% off the cover price when the book is ordered through their website.
Use codeÂ FGAZ at the checkout.Â
And don’t forget, no matter where you purchase the hardcover, Â you’re eligable for a free copy of the e-book through UPK’s e-book loyality program.
For those of you wanting to live in a swanky Beverly Hills residence, formerly owned by a movie star, and the scene of a major vice raid – you’re in luck! This Mediterranean-style residence located at 1514 Schulyer Road is on the market for *only* $4.5 million and fits all of the above criteria.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may recall this residence from our tour of Ann Dvorak’s Los Angeles last year. In a nutshell, Ann owned the house in the early 1950s but was spending most of her time at a Malibu property, so she rented the Beverly Hills home out. In 1951, when Ann was abroad, the house of Schuyler Rd was raided and many arrests were made on pandering charges. Ann was oblivious to the goings on and the press didn’t even link her to the events. In the wake of raid, Ann was made aware and even had a sense of humor about it when she wrote to her agent, â€œHow did you like the Schuyler Road whorehouse episode? It was a good house for that purpose. Had all the makings (no cracks please). Den of Vice Incorporated. I particularly liked the â€˜Purple Room.â€™ $150 for a â€˜double headerâ€™ – man & two women. Please tell me Bill how they manage that?â€
The house has had some major renovations and the inside and now bears little resemblance to the former Den of Vice Incorporated. I don’t even know when one of these was once the purple room, though I like to think that if you look in a corner near the floor, a trace of “Ann Dvorak loosely affiliated whorehouse purple” is still visible.
It’s true what they say about Chicago – it IS one hell of a town. Specifically one hell of a film town. I am still dumbstruck that I was invited to introduce two Ann Dvorak films on consecutive nights at two different movie palaces in the Windy City. On both nights I was welcomed with open arms by appreciative classic film fans and even managed to sell a few books.
First up wasÂ The Strange Love of Molly LouvainÂ at the Patio Theatre in the Portage Park neighborhood. The screening was sponsored by the Northwest Chicago Film Society who secured a restored 35mm print from the Library of Congress, which was gorgeous. Around 250 people showed up, and it was exciting to see this film on the big screen for the first time with an appreciative crowd. The only damper on the evening was that this was the last screening at the Patio for the foreseeable future, as the owners are having trouble maintaining the operating costs.
Night two brought us to the Pickwick Theatre in the suburb of Park Ridge forÂ Scarface, sponsored by the Park Ridge Classic Film Series.Â At least 100 people came to this gorgeous theatre to watch this 1932 classic. This was the third or forth time I have seen the gangster flick on the big screen and it never gets old. Even though I have seenÂ Scarface countless times over the years, I never made the connection that the play Muni and his gang are watching shortly before gunning down Boris Karloff in a bowling alley isÂ Rain. As I’ve noted before, Howard Hughes made every attempt to secure the film rights forÂ RainÂ in order to have Ann Dvorak star as Sadie Thompson. It didn’t pan out and Joan Crawford ended up with the role. I’m not sure ifÂ this was something Hughes requested of director Howard Hawks or if it were just a coincidence.
I need to extend my sincere gratitude to Kyle Westphal of the Northwest Chicago Film Society and Matthew C. Hoffman of the Park Ridge Classic Film Series. They were the ones responsible for pulling the two nights together and were incredibly hospitable to me and my family. Kyle and Matthew were at both screenings, handled logistics and took care of the book sales. Chicago film fans are very lucky to have these two!
Over the course of the two nights, I was able to meet up with old friends and new ones and it was wonderful to see so much attention focused on Ann Dvorak. As if the screenings themselves were not grand enough, me and the family had a blast at the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Adler Planetarium, many pizza places and a productive weekend for my husband at the C2E2 convention.
I have to admit it was difficult to leave such a beautiful city, though the 80+ degree temperatures in Los Angeles were a nice welcome home present. Just in case you missed them, I did interviews all about Ann-D over at the Chicago Reader and the Cine-File blog.
Thanks a bunch Chicago!
It’s been a couple of months since I’ve received any interview requests, so I was more than happy to plug the book and Ann Dvorak by answering a few questions from Dixie Laite over at The Art of Being a Dame.
Dixie is fabulous in many ways, not least of which is maintaining an amazingly color coordinated apartment in NYC. Once you’ve gotten your Ann Dvorak fill, I recommend spending some time with all the “damey” goodness her site has to offer.
After blogging about Ann Dvorak every day for an entire year, I guess you could say that I have really embraced the break from it. Since I don’t want to be too neglectful of Ann, along with those of you who have been so faithful and supportive – here’s what’s been going on in the world of Ann Dvorak (and me).
The big Ann Dvorak news is thatÂ Our Blushing BridesÂ is now available from the Warner Archive. Â This is actually a Joan Crawford film that was made during Ann’s waning days at MGM. Even though the film does have some dance numbers, Ann does not appear as a chorus girl but only as an extra fawning over Robert Montgomery. Â I don’t remember what I thought of this film overall, so I can only recommend it for you Dvorak completists.Â
On a bright personal note, I received my first royalty statement forÂ Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel. The numbers were considerably higher than my publisher or I were expecting, so a big THANK YOU to everyone out there who purchased a copy!
I recently submitted a proposal for what I hope will be my next big project. It’s for the 33 1/3 series which are books focusing on a specific music album. The publisher recently did an open call for submissions, so I threw my hat in the ring with Heart’sÂ Dreamboat Annie. TheÂ open call resulted in a whopping 410 submissions, so I am definitely a long-shot! Writing about a band from the 1970s might sound like an extreme departure from a 1930s movie star. However, much like Ann Dvorak, the Wilson sisters challenged the conventions of their sector of the entertainment industry, so I don’t feel that writing about them will be that much different from Ann. And if my proposal isn’t selected? Well, I have a couple of other ideas floating around…
On a totally non-Ann related note, I will be back at the Encino-Tarzana Branch Library on March 25th, lecturing on the changing roles of woman in the post-War San Fernando Valley. The entire presentation will be illustrated with images from the Los Angeles Public Library’s Valley Times photo collection, so hopefully there will be some interest.
Finally, I have two screenings/book signings arranged in Chicago in late April and a royalty check to pay for the trip! Keep an eye out here for more details very soon!
Otherwise, I have been slumming it a bit and enjoying free time with my daughter and husband. Hope all is well with all you Dvorak devotees, and check back for more updates.
I have waxed ecstatic about this property numerous times in the past, which is where Ann resided during the seemingly happiest and most productive time of her life and career. I am thrilled to ramble on about the place for an hour or so to a, hopefully, captivated audience. I have dug up every historic photo I could find, including images of owners after Ann, so the evening should be a lot of fun. AND, Larry Edmunds Bookshop has graciously agreed to sell copies ofÂ Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten RebelÂ at the event.
Hope to see some friendly faces there!
Ann Dvorak did some limited television work in the early 1950s, some of which still exists. The Internet Archive recently posted one of these shows on their site which is free to view. “Close-Up” was part of an anthology series calledÂ The Silver TheatreÂ though the program was later re-run under various titles. According to the description on the website, it was one of the earlier series to be filmed rather than performed live, a method looked upon as inferior, but that means it’s still around for us to take in.
“Close-Up” is not mind-blowing storytelling by any means, and Ann’s character is very similar to many of the stalwart wives/girlfriends she played at Warner Bros. But still, any Ann is good Ann and she even gets to share a brief reunion with Donald Woods who in 1936 played Perry Mason to her Della Street inÂ Case of the Stuttering Bishop.
I first viewed this program around 9 years ago at the UCLA Film & Television Archive where I had to make an appointment and sit in a glass booth to view it. It’s amazing how many research leaps and strides have been made over the last decade because of online access. Just in case you missed this post from a couple years back, a handful of Ann’s films that have fallen into the public domain are also available through the Internet Archive.
I did this interview yesterday morning with Mark Lynch over at WICN Public Radio for his show “Inquiry,” and had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. I expect my family and friends to tell me they like Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel, but when a complete stranger has a positive response to the book, and Ann, it’s absolutely thrilling. I love that Mark was really taken with “Historical Digest,” Ann’s abridged 18 volume history of the world that she made an audio book of in the late 1960s. That may be my single favorite tid-bit about her, though not many people have brought it up after reading the book. I was also happy he focused on her years in the UK during the War, which were my two favorite chapters to write.
I think I may get a bit overzealous when talking about Ann, but when an interviewer matches my enthusiasm like Mark Lynch did, I probably sound like a breathless teenager. Still, I hope you’ll give the interview a listen because I think it turned out really well.
The full recording is here:
When I contacted the Senior Librarian over at the Encino-Tarzana Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library about doing a program devoted to Ann Dvorak’s Encino ranch house, I thought he would tell me I was an idiot for suggesting something so narrow and esoteric. Instead, he was totally on board and really excited about it. So, on February 6th at 6pm, I will be presenting “Walnuts, Sanka and a Cow Named Garbo: Ann Dvorak’s Encino Ranch.” It’ll be around an hour with a slide show packed full of every photo I have ever been able to find of that property, including ones of subsequent owners that I found in the LAPL Photo Collection. Of course, copies ofÂ Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel will be available for purchase. Ann Dvorak never stayed put for too long. Even when living in the same general area (ie Los Angeles, Hawaii), she tended to switch residences often. Ann and husband Leslie Fenton purchased the Encino property in 1934, had the home built, and she resided on the 35 acre walnut ranch until 1946, making it the longest she ever lived in one place. The property has significance for me because it was where I got married in 2007.
The branch was so enthusiastic about the program that they also scheduled screenings of some of Ann’s films! The showedÂ G Men yesterday and haveÂ ScarfaceÂ scheduled for January 30th, Â andÂ Three on a Match sometime in the near future. They generously let me take up prime real estate near their entrance to promote the program.
If you’re in the L.A. area on February 6th, I hope you’ll come join us in Encino to pay tribute to their “hometown girl!”