Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lights Go Out on Shirley Temple, Classic Hollywood's "Bright Eyes"

By Mary Claire Kendall

A.C. Lyles and Shirley Temple look at a copy of the
Jacksonville Journal in this undated photo.
Credit:The Times-Union


Shirley Temple, one of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars at the height of the Depression—her break out film Bright Eyes (1934), featuring “On the Good Ship Lollipop”—has gone to her reward. 

She joins her good friend, and my friend, A.C. Lyles, who died just over four months ago.  

Now it’s appropriate to add one more poignant story to my reminiscence of A.C.  

During our conversations, A.C. mentioned how close he was to Shirley, and told me she was ailing.

They spoke at least every other week, he said.

The last time I talked with A.C. was Thursday, July 25—almost exactly two months to the day before he died. 

It was time for him to be just talking to his peers, also at life’s sunset, with whom he shared so many fond memories. 

So, at the very end of the conversation, I asked A.C. if he had spoken with Shirley recently. He said, he had meant to call her that day, and thanked me for reminding him. He would call her first thing the next day!

That was the last time I spoke with A.C.

Rest in peace Shirley and A.C., back together again and talking up a storm!  

Mary Claire Kendall is currently writing a book about legends of Hollywood, focused on stories of recovery, for publication in 2015. She will be on the red carpet at the Oscars interviewing the stars.

This piece was published exclusively in Breitbart’s “Big Hollywood” at http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2014/02/11/Lights-Go-Out-on-Shirley-Temple-Classic-Hollywoods-Bright%20Eyes

The Author






Monday, February 3, 2014

Garland and Hoffman's Hearts Went Zing!... and then Broke!

By Mary Claire Kendall 

What is it about gifted artists, especially Hollywood stars like 
Judy Garland—and now sadly, Philip Seymour Hoffman—who have such Zing!, enabling them to turn in bravura performances, only to emotionally deflate and leave us much too early. (Judy 
had just turned 47 when she died of a drug overdose; Hoffman would have been 47 on July 23.) 

Judy Garland’s “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,”  as well as “Happyish” creator, Sharon Auslander’s comment—“The biggest, brokenest heart of anyone I have ever met,” she said—provides a big window into the reason why. 

I suppose, if they didn’t implode, the “hideous world,” as Auslander characterized it, would never fully realize just how hideous it is and what it does to “beautiful” people like Garland and Hoffman. 

“The Strings of Judy Garland’s Heart,” which I wrote on the 4oth anniversary of her death, June 22, 2009, republished on the 90th anniversary of her birth, June 10, 2012, per below, provides 
some more insights.


Hoffman at the Paris premiere of The Ides of March in October 2011.
Credit: Wikipedia

Mary Claire Kendall is currently writing a book about legends of Hollywood, focused on stories of recovery, for publication in 2015. 
She has written about many celebrities who have hit rock bottom 
and miraculously recovered, including Patricia Neal and Betty Hutton.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/maryclairekendall/2012/06/10/the-strings-of-judy-garlands-heart/



Mary Claire Kendall
Mary Claire Kendall, Contributor
I write about Hollywood legends and real life.
6/10/2012 @ 9:12AM |1,700 views

The Strings of Judy Garland's Heart

Ninety years ago this Sunday, June 10, Judy Garland—who captured America’s heart in The Wizard of Oz and never let go—was born.  This article was published in Big Hollywood on the 40th anniversary of her death three years ago.
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re-cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Washington, DC, June 22, 2009—Thirty years after Judy Garland—“Dorothy”—first publicly performed “Over the Rainbow” on June 29, 1939, previewing the soon-to-be-released Wizard of Oz, this quintessential girl-next-door reached for more sleeping pills and hoped-for sleep, only to be, mercifully, granted eternal rest.
She always wanted to be “glamorous,” forgetting her far-surpassing appeal as the very essence of America.
Her story, the final earthly chapter ending forty years ago today, embodies American triumph and tragedy.
Born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, her life nearly ended in 1921 after her parents’ marriage was rocked by revelations of her father’s homosexual infidelity.
But, family physician Dr. Marcus Rabwin told Frank Gumm, “you go back to your wife and tell her I said she must have this baby.”  The “powerful” Garland “force field,” as fellow MGM star Ann Miller put it, was evidently already at work.
“Baby” Gumm first stole hearts when, at age 2½, she performed “Jingle Bells” before an audience, discovering to her delight that, besides her father, her other great love was performing and making people happy.
She just couldn’t stop singing; so her father finally had to carry her off the stage.
The family soon decamped to a desert California town north of Hollywood after her father was “caught with a young boy.”  There, Ethel sought solace from her troubled marriage by single-mindedly devoting herself into making the “Gumm Sisters” stars.

Needless to say, little Frances was the standout—their big break coming in 1929 with four one-reel shorts.  But when comedian George Jessel evoked howls of laughter just by mentioning their name, he suggested they take New York Drama critic Robert Garland’s surname; Frances took her first name from Hoagie Carmichael’s popular song “Judy.”
On November 16, 1935—six months after Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s Louis B. Mayer signed up “Judy Garland”—she sang her first professional rendition of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” live on coast to coast radio, as her father lay dying.  Dr. Rabwin, who 14 years earlier had advised the family to bring their daughter to term, called Judy to let her know her beloved father would be listening—radio waves being their last physical “connection.” He died early the next morning.
The young, 4’11” Garland came to studio executives’ attention when she sang “You Made Me Love You” to Clark Gable at MGM’s party celebrating his 35th birthday—a rendition she repeated, while looking adoringly at Gable’s photograph, in the all-star extravaganza Broadway Melody of 1938.
Bandleader Artie Shaw famously summed up Judy’s talent, singing and dancing her way into America’€™s hearts, telling her, “You become the song.”
So, too, she became the tragedy of American culture—force-fed uppers and downers, plus diet pills, by five different doctors so she could keep up the pace of performance demanded by her MGM bosses who were giddily beside themselves with her money-making potential.
MGM hit the jackpot when it paired Garland with Mickey Rooney in a string of “backyard musicals.” This winning formula, first showcased in the ironically titled 1937 B movie Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, was followed by Love Finds Andy Hardy, leading to eight more films featuring this adorable, dynamic duo.
Dr. Rabwin’s wife, Marcella, then working at MGM, asserted, “They didn’t mean to addict her. They were trying to get a picture finished.” Yet, the hard truth is, in the process of finishing the picture they laid the groundwork for Judy’s early demise.
As E.Y. Yip Harburg, Wizard of Oz lyricist, explained, “A picture is one of the most devastating things to your nervous system.”  Even more so for Judy.  As Robert Goulet said, “No one came close to her because she was so vulnerable.”
Her very vulnerability—she required constant reassurance she was, indeed, talented and pretty, given her high-strung, insecure nature, exacerbated by her teenage loss of paternal affirmation—was the source of her greatness.  This mega-talented star was all heart and just poured herself into her performances.  But, combined with all the barbiturates and amphetamines, it was a toxic mix.  As Oscar Levant wrote in his 1969 book, The Unimportance of Being Oscar, “at parties, Judy could sing all night, endlessly… but when it came time to appear on a movie set, she just wouldn’t show up.”
In 1940, after Judy collapsed on the set of Strike Up the Band, in desperate need of months-long rest, she was given only weeks.
Besides her flagging energy, her tendency to show up late rankled her bosses, and on June 17, 1950, a week after she turned 28, MGM cut its prized star loose—the last straw being the demands of Royal Wedding (1951).  Thus, began a series of incredible comebacks, starting with her dazzling concert tour, including her history-making star turn at the London Palladium.
Judy became close friends of Betty Hutton during Las Vegas performances, overcoming hurt feelings from when Betty had replaced her in Annie Get Your Gun (1950).
Betty—while a lesser star, albeit possessing the same booming talent, paternal void, and extremely sensitive nature—almost died of a drug overdose just three years after Judy’s death, only to be “saved” by Fr. Peter Maguire, who helped her play the role of a lifetime—“Being Beautiful Betty.”
“Being Beautiful Judy” was the one role Garland never mastered.  But, as a star, looking down from the celestial firmament, it’s a good bet she’s mastered it now.