Saturday, May 31, 2008

Richard Lane

Richard (Dick) Lane was an actor who appeared in many movies of the 1930s and 1940s, usually as a police captain or lieutenant, but could adeptly play other characters, too. He may be best remembered by some movie fans as 'Inspector Farraday' in the "Boston Blackie" movie series.

In the mid-1940s, Lane was teamed with a burlesque comedian, Gus Schilling, for their own series of comedy shorts at Columbia Pictures. They made eleven shorts before the series was canceled.

Mr. Lane later became a well-known tv announcer in Los Angeles during the 1950s, for various 'sporting events' shows, such as roller derby and wrestling. His famous phrase was "Whoaaaa Nellie!" whenever something fantastic happened during those events.

I sent him this photo in 1980, and returned it within two weeks. He signed it as 'Dick Lane', but he used a ballpoint pen, and such pens tend to 'skip' when writing on glossy photos, hence the "missing letters".

Below is a posed still as 'Inspector Farraday' in "Confessions of Boston Blackie" (1941).

And here is a scene still from the comedy short "Training for Trouble" (1947), with Gus Schilling on the left, next to Richard Lane.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mary Carlisle

Mary Carlisle was an actress whose movie career was mostly in the 1930s. She invariably played leading and supporting roles.

She was a WAMPAS "Baby Star" in 1932. The "WAMPAS Baby Stars" was a promotional campaign sponsored by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the United States, which honored thirteen young women each year who they believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom. They were selected from 1922 to 1934 and honored at a party called the WAMPAS Frolic (for more information about WAMPAS, read here).

I wrote to Ms. Carlisle in 1980, to her home in Beverly Hills, California. She signed and returned this photo within two weeks. As of this writing, Ms. Carlisle, age 96, is one of the last three WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1932 (the other two are Gloria Stuart and Dorothy Layton).

Below is a posed scene still from "Beware Spooks!", a 1939 comedy which also starred Joe E. Brown.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

George J. Lewis

George J. Lewis (sometimes credited without the middle initial) was an actor who appeared in movies from the 1920s, right through the tv era into the late 1960s. He appeared in mostly westerns and is probably best remembered for those roles, usually as a 'villain'.

His one claim to long-lasting fame will be as the father to the title character "Zorro" in the Walt Disney late 1950s tv series of the same name.

In 1981, I sent him this photo, to his home in Palm Springs, California. He returned it within a week, one of the quicker turnarounds I've had in this hobby.

Below is a posed still scene from an unidentified movie.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

June Gittelson a/k/a June Bryde

June Gittelson was an actress who appeared in movies mostly in the 1930s. In features, she was in supporting roles, but in comedy shorts, her roles were more substantial.

Ms. Gittelson was a big heavy woman, and was subjected to typecasting in comedic roles. She never minded it - she admitted so in an interview. She knew she was not 'leading lady' material, and was happy to work in whatever roles were assigned to her. Her characters were invariably the "fat girl", "fat girl singer", "big woman", "fat party guest", etc. Most of her screen appearances were not credited at the time, but rather she was identified later by movie fans who knew her name and recognized her.

She was a 'lost supporting player' in The Three Stooges comedies for many years, until I located another supporting player, Maxine Gates. During my initial phone call with Ms. Gates, she mentioned one of her friends also worked with the Stooges - June Thale (which was her married name). I told her I didn't know that name, and then she said "I think her name was Gittelson at the time of her movie years". She gave me June's phone number, and when I called, she was very happy to hear from a fan who remembered and appreciated her movie work.

Ms. Gittelson told me that much later in her career, she changed her professional name to June Bryde, which was suggested by one of her brothers. Her family name had become well-known in business in Los Angeles, and she didn't want to 'make it' in the movies just because of her name. (I thought this was somewhat odd, because she'd already been using her family name for several years).

I didn't have any photos of June at the time, so she kindly provided two - a portrait and a scene still from an unidentified comedy.

Below is a photo I bought a few years ago, a posed still with June and Curly, from a Three Stooges comedy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lionel Stander

Lionel Stander was a gravelly-voiced character actor who began his career in the late 1920s. He worked in theatre, movies, radio and television, playing various roles during his long career.

Mr. Stander was blacklisted in the early 1950s, a result of testimony he gave to the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) which was investigating subversive political activities in the entertainment industry. He continued to work in movies but mainly in Europe, where he lived for many years during his blacklisted years in the U.S.

In 1979, Mr. Stander secured the role of 'Max' the chauffeur on the tv series "Hart to Hart", which starred Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as a wealthy married couple who enjoyed being amateur detectives.

In 1982, I sent two photos to Mr. Stander, which can be seen here and here. It took about a month for him to return them.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Danny Mummert - article by Frank Reighter

The interesting story below was researched and written by my long-time friend and fellow Three Stooges enthusiast, Frank Reighter. Danny Mummert was a child actor who appeared as the character 'Alvin Fuddle' in the "Blondie" movie series from 1938-1950.

There's about 30 people who help me search, and I'm sometimes able to help a searcher who is looking for someone who wasn't connected with the Three Stooges. That's what started what became a quest to find out...Whatever happened to Danny Mummert.

Danny Mummert was a child actor in the "Blondie" series of Columbia feature films from 1938 to 1950. He played "Alvin Fuddle", "Baby Dumpling Bumstead's" buddy. He appeared in 24 of the 28 "Blondie" films. His Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) filmography lists 48 film credits, and, as Don Easton, four more.

He was born in Dallas, TX Feb. 20, 1934, to Harry Baine Mummert and Winnifred Brown Mummert. Winnifred took him to Hollywood, where he appeared in his first film "Blondie" (1938) at age 4. He was an outgoing child with an awesome memory, and during WW II Bond efforts, he frequently made personal appearances for Military Bond Rallies and Fund Raisers.

After the "Blondie" series ended in 1950, Danny appeared in 13 more films as Danny Mummert, ending in 1956 in "Away All Boats". He is believed to have served in the military special services after that producing several Army Training films. As Don Easton, he is listed on IMDB as having appeared in 4 films from 1959 to 1963. He also is reported to have been a bit player and Assistant Director in "Crunch & Des" (1955), a one-season TV series featuring Forrest Tucker and Sandy Kenyon. It was filmed in Bermuda.

Danny's career, as well as his personal life after his movie career ended was varied and tragic. He was, at times, a Film Producer in TV, a Writer in Motion Pictures and TV, and in Commercial Advertising. He married at least 4 times: To Joan H. Hummel, to Helene L Harnett (they had 2 children, Mark E (B. 1959) and Janna H (B 1961), to Mae Louise Horwitz Helms (Md. Feb. 28, 1967) and Linda Louise Earl Moreno (Md. Sept. 8 1972 in Monterey, CA.). Linda was in the process of divorcing Danny (Now known as Dan, or Don, Easton). He did not appear at various divorce proceedings, but was mailed the proceedings c/o his mother Winnifred Mummert, at 2710 1/2 N.W. 12th St., Oklahoma City, OK.

On Saturday August 10, 1974 (The day before his divorce would become final), Danny, after having heard some upsetting news about Winnifred's latest boyfriend, borrowed/took her car, and a double barrel shotgun, drove outside the town of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, placed the shotgun in his mouth, and using a pencil to span the two triggers,took his own life. His body was cremated under the auspices of Hahn-Cook/Street & Draper Funeral Home, of Oklahoma City, OK. The remains were buried in Noble IOOF Cemetery plot E-4-R38-9 in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.

In a Three Stooges-related connection, The mother of his two children, Helene L. Harnett Mummert, later married Ricardo L. Cezon, who adopted the two children. They were married for 34 years, ending with his death July 7, 2001. He was the brother of Connie Cezon, who appeared in 6 Three Stooges shorts.

Frank Reighter c 2008

Below are two photos of Connie Cezon with The Three Stooges.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mercedes McCambridge

Mercedes McCambridge started her acting career on radio drama shows in the 1940s. At the same time, she appeared in some Broadway plays.

Ms. McCambridge was very adept at creating different voices, and it was this talent that allowed her to portray various characters on radio shows, sometimes even playing different roles on the same episode of a show.

Her movie career started in 1949, when she appeared in "All the King's Men" with Broderick Crawford, and she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She continued to act in many other notable movies, including "Johnny Guitar" (1954) and "Giant" (1956).

In 1973, Ms. McCambridge was heard in "The Exorcist", as the demonic voice of the possessed character 'Regan', played by Linda Blair. She did not initially receive screen credit as promised, and she had to take action against the film's director William Friedkin and the studio, Warner Brothers, to assure she was properly credited.

In 1981 I sent Ms. McCambridge this photo, and she returned it within two weeks.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fritz Feld and Virginia Christine

Fritz Feld was a German-born actor who started his career in Germany in about 1920, then moved to the United States in the late 1920s and continued his movie career in Hollywood. He was a character actor, usually playing comedic roles, but was adept at drama too. Most of his roles had him as a headwaiter, chef, professor, and the like. He developed a gesture which became his trademark- he'd make a "pop" sound with his mouth by slapping it with the open palm of his hand. This was done when his character would indicate annoyance with the situation at hand.

Virginia Christine was an American actress who began her career in the 1940s. She appeared in many movies as well as tv shows, right through the 1970s. She became best known as 'Mrs. Olson', the spokesperson for Folger's Coffee in their tv commercials during the 1960s and 1970s.

The Felds were listed in the Los Angeles phone directory, and one evening in 1980, I called them. Mr. Feld answered the phone, and he was really delighted to hear from a fan, especially one who was calling from across the country in New York. We had a light conversation for a few minutes, during which I told him how much I enjoyed his movie appearances. He thanked me, and then asked if I'd like to speak to Mrs. Feld. Before I could answer, he told me she was the actress Virginia Christine (I'd already known it), and then he called her to the phone. She was pleasant to talk to, and thanked me for my comments (I'd only seen her in a few tv shows and couple of movies, but was very familiar with her as 'Mrs. Olson'). I told her I'd like to have a signed photo from each of them, for my collection, and she took down my address.

In two weeks, an envelope arrived with two signed photos - this one from Mr. Feld, and this one, as 'Mrs. Olson', from Miss Christine.

For a look at a vintage 1960s Folger's tv commercial featuring Virginia Christine, look here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Joel McCrea and Frances Dee

Joel McCrea was an actor whose movie career started in the 1930s. He may be best remembered for his roles in two features, Alfred Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent" (1940) and Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" (1942), though he made many movies right into the mid 1970s, mostly westerns for which he also attained popularity.

Frances Dee was an actress whose career also started in the 1930s. While she appeared in many movies right into the 1950s, I remember her for her role in Val Lewton's "I Walked With a Zombie" (1943).

Mr. McCrea and Miss Dee met on a movie set, and shortly after, were married, in 1933.

For many years, they lived on a ranch in Camarillo, California, and it was there that I sent them photos. This was in 1980. Both signed with only their names. Mr. McCrea's photo can be seen here, and Ms. Dee's photo can be seen here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eubie Blake

Eubie Blake was a composer and lyricist of ragtime and jazz music in the very early 20th century. His long-time collaborator was Noble Sissle, and they performed together for many years starting in the 1920s.

I was familiar with some of their music as I'd heard some old recordings. In late 1969 I found out they were still alive and both living (not together) in New York. Noble Sissle was listed in the NYC phone directory so I called him and talked for a few minutes, telling him of my appreciation of the music of Sissle and Blake. When I asked for an autographed photo, he told me that Mr. Blake took care of those things, and he gave me his address.

I wrote to Mr. Blake, and in a couple of weeks, shortly into 1970, he sent me this solo photo and this one of both.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Alice Faye

Alice Faye was a beautiful blonde actress who appeared in many well-remembered movies of the 1930s and 1940s. Her career began on the Vaudeville stage, and progressed to Broadway and radio. Her movie career began in 1935, and in some movies, she introduced songs which became popular hits.

I sent her this photo in 1982 and she signed and returned it within two weeks.

She was married to bandleader Phil Harris, and to this day I don't know why I didn't send him a photo too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez was a character actor in movies from the 1950s right through the 1990s. He provided comedic relief in those movies as well as many tv shows.

Mr. Gonzalez-Gonzalez was a guest contestant in 1953 on the tv quiz show "You Bet Your Life", hosted by Groucho Marx. His banter with Mr. Marx attracted attention - the audience loved it, as well as some people in the movie industry. This led to the start of his acting career. Actor John Wayne saw Pedro's appearance on the tv show, and signed him to appear in some of his features, and from there on, Pedro continued to work steadily.

I wrote to Mr. Gonzalez-Gonzalez in 1982. I didn't have any photos to send, so I requested one, and I enclosed a large stamped return envelope. A few weeks later, I was surprised to receive the envelope stuffed with two photos (you can see them here and here) and a large poster which had been folded into quarters so it would fit inside the envelope. The poster had several photos of various sizes, but the front section had this photo of Pedro with Groucho.

He also enclosed this handwritten note, and even paid the additional postage required.

As for his PS question about how I got his address, it was passed around from one collector to another, and was really not a secret because Pedro was known for his appreciative and friendly attitude towards his fans.

Here is a video montage of clips featuring Pedro, including his appearance on Groucho's show.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Christopher Plummer - Out of the shower and dripping wet

In 1985, the delivery route for my job was in Southern Connecticut, and one of the cities I delivered was Weston. For a period of several weeks, once, sometimes twice a week, I'd deliver an envelope to actor Christopher Plummer, at his home. The envelope was from Canada, and I remember the "description of contents" on the air waybill was "Script: The Velveteen Rabbit".

At that time, all deliveries required a signature, and most times Mr. Plummer or his wife was home to accept the envelope. The few times nobody was home, I'd leave an "attempted delivery" notice, and return the next day for another try at completing delivery.

Mr. Plummer was always polite and cordial when accepting the delivery, and he'd quickly sign the manifest so I could be on my way.

One day, I rang the bell and knocked on the door, waited a few minutes, but nobody responded. As I walked back to my van, I heard a voice call to me. Turning around, I saw Mr. Plummer standing inside the opened doorway, with a towel wrapped around him, and he was dripping wet! He explained he'd been in the shower and apologized for not getting to the door sooner. I was somewhat embarrassed for him (and myself too), but when delivering to a private residence, a delivery person never knows what the residents are doing at that particular moment.

The irony of this is, during that time, I was still actively sending photos to people for autographing, and while I obtained Christopher Plummer's signature several times during the few weeks of delivering to him, I never once asked him for an autograph for myself!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Frances Bavier - 'Aunt Bee'

Frances Bavier was a veteran actress who had many years of credits in features, tv shows and Broadway, from the 1920s onward. In 1960, she landed the role of 'Aunt Bee' on the tv sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show". Her character was the aunt to the main character, 'Sheriff Andy Taylor', played by Andy Griffith, of course.

Ms. Bavier retired from acting in the early 1970s and moved to Siler City, North Carolina. I'd heard she wasn't too friendly to anybody, whether they were fans, other movie industry people, or even the locals in her chosen retirement city. In 1981, an autograph collecting friend gave me her address, and I sent her a portrait photo I'd bought at a NYC collector's shop. The photo was never returned, just as my friend suggested it probably would not be.

Many years later, I bought this photo from a reputable autograph dealer. It's signed to 'Steven' - whoever he was, he was fortunate to have received the photo returned (unless he obtained it in person, on a rare day when Ms. Bavier was in a good mood).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lenny Welch

Lenny Welch was a pop/ballad singer who had hit records during the 1960s.

In January 1964 or 1965, I don't remember the exact year, I was with my family (Mom, Dad and sister), shopping in a department store, S. Klein, in Yonkers, NY. My parents needed to buy a birthday gift for my cousin Suzanne, and it was either her 16th or 17th birthday. I really don't remember, but she was still in High School, that much I do recall.

We visited several departments in the store, and in the music department was a display of the latest record by Lenny Welch. He was there in person, too, sitting at a podium, autographing his record album cover, and giving away autographed photos. None of us had heard of him, actually, but my parents thought a nice gift for my cousin would be an autographed record album by a popular singer. Later that night, at the party, my cousin was surprised and happy to receive the record, as she knew and liked Lenny Welch's music.

After my parents had Mr. Welch sign the album for my cousin, I was right behind them on line, and asked him for a photo inscribed to my family. It can be seen here.

Mr. Welch is still very active in the entertainment business, and has his own website with much more information about his career.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Telly Savalas

While Telly Savalas was a veteran actor from the late 1950s, in feature movies and many tv shows, I first became familiar with his acting, as the title character "Kojak", the bald-headed NYC police detective, in the 1970s tv 'cop show'.

In 1980, I sent a photo to Mr. Savalas, to his home in Los Angeles, and within a month, he returned it, signed with his famous 'Kojak' catchphrase "Who Loves Ya, Baby!".

When I lived in the Los Angeles area in the mid-1970s, late one Saturday afternoon in the spring of 1975, I was driving south on the Hollywood Freeway. I was a rather fast driver then (as many young people tend to be), and easily got impatient with slower drivers. I used the left lane to pass a car in the center lane, being driven considerably under the speed limit (in my opinion). As I passed, I glanced at the driver and saw it was Telly Savalas! He was talking to his passenger, and gesturing with his left hand which held a cigarette ( his right hand was noticeably on the steering wheel). Perhaps he was remarking to his friend about the crazy speeder on his left?

I've recently been watching some of the "Kojak" shows on dvd. I liked it when the show was in its prime and was curious to see if they'd hold up. I'm pleased to say, the few I've seen so far, have done so quite well.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fay McKenzie

Fay McKenzie was a leading lady and supporting actress in many movies of the 1930s and 1940s, but is most remembered today by fans of B-westerns as the 'heroine' in some of Gene Autry's westerns in the 1940s. She continued acting into the early 1980s in both features and tv.

Ms. McKenzie was from an acting family. Her parents, Robert and Eve McKenzie, were in movies from the teens, and her two sisters, Ida Mae McKenzie and Ella McKenzie, were active in the 1930s. Ella was married to screen comic Billy Gilbert for over thirty years.

In 1980 I sent this photo to Ms. McKenzie, to her home in California. She returned it promptly. In recent years, she has been dividing her time between her California home and a house she maintains right here in my city, Mount Vernon. I called her once, just to ask a few questions about her career, and she said she enjoyed living here as she could be close to her daughter and grandchildren who live in nearby Bronxville. Every weekday morning, about 5:45, I pass her house on my way to the highway to go to work.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Carroll O'Connor - Forever 'Archie Bunker'

Carroll O'Connor was an established movie and tv actor, from the early 1960s, when he landed the starring role of 'Archie Bunker' in the 1971 tv sitcom "All in the Family". The character 'Archie' was a strongly conservative and bigoted man, both politically and personally. The show was immensely popular for many years.

Much later, in the late 1980s, Mr. O'Connor had the starring role in another tv show, the drama "In the Heat of the Night", as the 'Chief of Police Bill Gillespie'. His character in the latter show was perhaps much stronger than 'Archie', as the character was more liberal, but he will forever be remembered as 'Archie Bunker'.

In about 1982, I sent Mr. O'Connor this photo for autographing, and he returned it within a couple of weeks. His hobby was photography, and one of his photos, "Serata (Venice 1969)", was featured on a notecard sold by the humane society Actors and Others for Animals. I also enclosed the notecard and he signed it, too.

Here is the photograph in its proper horizontal perspective.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dorothy Dare - An Intriguing Tale

Dorothy Dare was an actress who appeared in several features of the 1930s. She was a singer in some of the movies, and while not a star, she played memorable supporting roles. Perhaps her most notable appearance was in "Gold Diggers of 1935", which starred Dick Powell, Gloria Stuart, Adolphe Menjou, and many others.

Here are a few vintage photos of Ms. Dare, provided by a friend who received them in email from a person who claimed he recently was Dare's "secretary" (he's signed off on some of the emails I've copied and pasted further on into this writing):

Ms. Dare's movie career was over by the early 1940s, and she faded into obscurity, as so many movie people of years ago have done.

In the past year or so, a person identifying herself as Dorothy Dare, the 1930s actress, popped up on the internet, registering in forums and message boards. She offered stories and anecdotes of many of the people she worked with. She freely gave her email address, and invited, indeed encouraged, movie fans to write to her. I know several people who did so, asking questions about her contemporaries such as whatever happened to them, what was it like to work with them, etc.

I wrote to her twice myself, the first time asking about an obscure actress named Frances McCoy. Ms. Dare's reply was that she didn't know Frances McCoy, but she did know the western actor Col. Tim McCoy. Apparently Frances McCoy was too obscure to admit knowing.

The second time, I sent her this email:

"Hello Dorothy,
I hope this finds you in good health and enjoying receiving emails from movie fans. I'm attaching to this email, a scan of the page from the pamphlet 'Foods and Fashions of 1936', which I've had in my collection for some time, and just found it again while looking for some other items. You probably already have this, but if you don't, well here it is. Let me know if it is large enough for you to read. Now maybe you can tell me if the recipe was really one of yours, or did a publicity agent just match up his own choice of recipes with Hollywood stars? Thank you very much for your attention and previous replies to my 'whatever happened to...?' emails.
Sincerely,Bill Cappello"

Below is the scan I included with the above email:

Here is her reply - I've copied and pasted it, to show how she always "wrote" her emails:

"Dearest Bill:
Thank you my dear for sending the recipe and article. Yes, this is my recipe from my earlier days in Hollywood, I still prepare this recipe during the holiday season.
I love to cook and this is one of the easier recipes to prepare. You should make it for yourself and see whether you like it??
Much Happiness,

Ms. Dare continued her emails to others, and she also would tell people she was in contact by email and text messaging with many other old-timers. This was astonishing, considering that Ms. Dare was in her 90s, as would be any of her living contemporaries.

Some people were beginning to suspect that Dorothy Dare was not really the actress, but rather an impostor, most likely a much younger person, pretending to be her. Suspicions continued to grow when Ms. Dare would report the "recent deaths" of movie people who were known to have died some years ago, and then explain that her memory wasn't too good, and that's why she gave wrong information. For some of the movie people with whom she claimed to be in recent contact, when asked for mailing addresses, she'd reply that the person had just died.

Some people I know, sent some photos to an address provided by Ms. Dare's "secretary", who offered to have her autograph them. However, none of the photos was ever returned, signed or not.

Here is a supposedly recent photo of Dorothy Dare, posted on a YouTube video picturing Hollywood stars then-and-now (the video has since been removed by the person - Dare's "secretary" - who created it):
Word was spreading that Ms. Dare was not authentic, and the person/persons perpetrating this fraud began to get nervous. The first red flag was a change of email address. I received this email on April 15:

Dear Mr. Cappello:
Dorothy has requested I send you her new email address,, please make a note.

B. Sonvervjelde

Secretary to Dorothy Dare"

The change of email was supposedly because Dorothy was upset that people thought she was an impostor, and was receiving harassing emails from some of those people.

A few days later, on April 22, I, along with others in Dorothy's address book, received this email, each with a personalized greeting:

"Dear Bill:

It is with deep sorrow that I must inform you of Ms. Dare's passing. I received a call early this morning from Dorothy's daughter, stating Ms. Dare died in her sleep. I am devastated and shocked as is everyone! I loved Dottie and she is irreplaceable! I am very sorry to have to inform you.

I will be in Laguna Beach today with Ms. Dare's family and I will inform you of the funeral plans soon as I find out.

Most Sincerely,
Bron Sonvervjelde
Sherman Oaks, CA"

So now Dorothy Dare was dead. Or was she? Or had she already been dead for many years?

Yet another email was sent by this "Bron" person, to a friend whom he asked to write an obituary for Dorothy. This only added to the confusion:

"Ms. Dare married musician and later Business Executive, John L. Van Dam, May 22, 1942 and he passed away in 1995. Survivors are 4 children, 3 sons and one daughter. 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

I never knew Dorothy was married for so many years! She was very private and she never divulged any information regarding her family life. Dottie believed family was seperate from her public life and often would say, "Children need to be shielded from the harsh realities of public life and this includes the Hollywood spotlight!" I guess this is why she left Hollywood so soon??

Dorothy's grandson Laird says, "My Grandmother referred to my Grandfather as the greatest love in her life." She would often say, "I never would have believed I would be so lucky in life. I married a beautiful man, I was blessed with delightful children and I have the most wonderful grandchildren!" "What more can a Dutch girl ask for?"

This makes me so happy reading this statement from Laird and I must admit, it does make me both smile and cry at the same time. Laird says, Dottie married in Chicago. Sari states, "My Mother remained friends with many from her Hollywood days and shared many friendships with her fans." "She shared many interests in her life and especially enjoyed the "wonders" of the Internet and she loved her i-phone!" "Texting and e-mailing were her favorite things to do", states her friend former actress/dancer Cyd Charisse.

Sincerely, Bron
I hope this helps you some, I must admit, these are very trying times right now.
Dottie's daughter is very distraught right now and I will be with her for the next few days."

Nothing could be found on a John Van Dam dying in 1995. The person who received the above email did a brief search on the internet and found a link in a December 2007 newsletter of the Larchmont (NY) Historical Society, which has a reprint of a newspaper article from 1949, in which the author writes of his childhood in Larchmont in 1899. Two of his friends are Colby and Loring Van Dam, sons of the "well-known actress Dorothy Dare". I contacted the archivist of the LHS and inquired if they had anything on Dorothy Dare, or the Van Dam family, but nothing was found in any of their sources. Apparently there was an earlier 'Dorothy Dare, actress' who married a 'Van Dam' - how coincidental could it be that the 1930s 'Dorothy Dare' also married a 'Van Dam'? This puzzle was becoming more intriguing with every bit of information that was found. My friend did not write an obituary for the "recently deceased Dorothy Dare", as he, too, was suspicious.

I began to search for more information on Dorothy Dare. None of my fellow researchers had anything substantial to go on - no vital information was available in any of the old Motion Picture Almanac directories, or similar sources. However, in thoroughly searching on the internet, all pages that were brought up containing the name "Dorothy Dare", I did find this entry:

Whomever provided this information, gave Dorothy's birth name as "Herskind", born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I then used the powerful search engine of, and the one hit that came up, was an entry in the California Death Index, for a "Dorothy Dare - birth surname Herskind, born in Pennsylvania, died in 1981 in Orange County", as seen in this screenshot:
I asked a genealogist friend in Los Angeles to obtain a copy of the death certificate. The document provided primary confirmation that this was the real Dorothy Dare:
EMPLOYER: Warner Brothers Studios

My next step was to contact the informant who was listed on the certificate, shown as a "friend" of the deceased. I was hoping she was still living, and sure enough, she was. She verified for me that the Dorothy Dare she knew, was indeed the movie actress, as she (Dorothy) had several photos from her career and would sometimes talk about her days in movies.

The final verification was from the Warner Brothers Archives at University of Southern California. Another friend who had also been in email contact with "Dorothy Dare", called the curator, who located several contracts from the 1930s, showing Dorothy's name as "Dorothy Dare A/K/A Herskind".

So now it's official: the "real" Dorothy Dare died in 1981, and the "internet" Dorothy Dare was definitely an impostor.

The internet is certainly filled with strange characters, but why a young man or woman, or group of persons, would pose as a 92-year-old retired movie actress - well, I'll leave that to others to ponder.

(I wonder who really is the old gal in the 'recent' photo shown above?)

***I apologize for the rather sloppy appearance of the above posting, but I thought it best to copy and paste certain items rather than just re-type them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Adele Pearce/Pamela Blake

Pamela Blake was an actress in the late 1930s and 1940s who played leading and supporting roles, mostly in B-movies. At the beginning of her career, she used her birth name, Adele Pearce, and in the early 1940s, changed it to Pamela Blake. She is remembered today mostly for her roles as the leading lady, also known as the "heroine", in B-western movies.

In 1993 I located Ms. Blake, living in Las Vegas, Nevada. The way I did this was sort of a round-about way. Searching through the clipping files at the NY Public Library, I found one article referring to her being married to Mike Stokey, who was a tv game show host and producer. I found a phone listing for his business in Los Angeles, called and left a message with the receptionist. I explained I was trying to locate Pamela Blake, and she told me that while Mr. Stokey was no longer married to her, they were still in contact on occasion. A few days later, the receptionist called and gave me Ms. Blake's phone number.

Pamela Blake was now Mrs. Canavan, and was very cordial when I called. We had a rather long conversation, talking not just about her career, but about other movie people she knew, as well as life in general. She didn't have any photos to send, so it was up to me to find one, which I did.

I sent her the photo, and she called to acknowledge receiving it, telling me she'd never seen it before, and wanted to make a copy for herself, then return it. It took some time for the photo shop to complete the job, and she explained it in this handwritten letter, dated May 29, 1993:
"Dear Bill, Thank you for your patience! I hope! Am sorry I just got your picture back yesterday. It took them so long to make a duplicate - Do you know when or where this was taken? It is one I have never seen before. Anyway, thank you for contacting me, and sending it along to me".

At the time I called her, she had a cold, and I suggested she take vitamin C to ease the symptoms; hence her closing sentence: "Am feeling better and following your advice with good old vitamin C - !".

For some years afterward, we exchanged birthday cards. She was the only 'celebrity' with whom I did this. However, her eyesight was failing and eventually all written correspondence stopped. Below are two examples of the birthday cards I received from Pam - the first one was two months early, and the second was about a month late (not dated but I remember receiving it a month after my September birthday).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jane Randolph

Jane Randolph was a beautiful actress who played both leading and supporting roles in several movies in the 1940s. I remember her specifically for her roles in three features: "Cat People" (1942), "The Curse of the Cat People" (1944), and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948).

In 1982, I called her, after finding her phone number in the Los Angeles phone directory. Her married name was Jane Del Amo. She was very cordial and friendly during our chat, during which I told her of my appreciation of her movies. Another reason I called: I was trying to locate actress Lenore Aubert, who co-starred with Ms. Randolph in the Abbott and Costello movie, and was hoping she could tell me something which would help in finding her; she said she'd ask around.

I asked if it would be ok to send a photo for autographing, and she said it would be fine, as she no longer had any to send to fans.

It took a while to receive a reply from her, but after several weeks, Ms. Randolph returned this signed photo.

She also enclosed a two-page handwritten letter explaining the delay. It can be read here and here. The first part is dated September 10, 1982, as she 'd been in Mexico attending a watercolor workshop; the second part is dated October 5, because she had to arrange for her step-granddaughter to attend the Interpreter's School in Monterey, California.

Her closing paragraph re: Lenore Aubert: "Have not had any luck in trying to locate Lenore Aubert - but if I do will let you know". (Some years later, I did locate Ms. Aubert through other methods, and my posting in February about it can be read here).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Monty Woolley - "The Man Who Came to Dinner"

Monty Woolley was a professor at Yale University before he entered the acting field in the 1930s. He was usually cast as a sophisticated person with high education, but was also known for his acid-tongued wit.

His most famous role is that of 'Sheridan Whiteside', a radio lecturer who, while visiting a small town, is injured in a fall on the steps of the house of his hostess, and is forced to stay with that family for several months while on the mend. The role was first played in the Broadway play, "The Man Who Came to Dinner", and then made into a movie in 1942. Mr. Woolley played the role in both productions.

Mr. Woolley died in 1963, and I was not even familiar with his acting at that time, as I was a youngster and never saw any movies in which he appeared. It was later, in the 1980s, when I saw him as 'Sheridan Whiteside' and then sought out other movies in which he appeared.

I was able to buy this small signed photo from a reputable autograph dealer in the early 1990s. Mr. Woolley was said to have kept a supply of small photos with him, so he'd have one ready to sign if asked.

Click here for a clip of his portrayal in "The Man Who Came to Dinner".

Friday, May 9, 2008

Iron Eyes Cody - 'American Indian' of Italian Heritage

In keeping with the previous post's theme of western movie actors, now I'll write about an actor who appeared in many dozens of western movies, as an American Indian. His name is Iron Eyes Cody, and he claimed to be of Cherokee and Cree Indian heritage.

Late in his life, it was discovered that Mr. Cody was actually born to Italian immigrants, in Louisiana. His birth name has been given as Espera DeCorti. When confronted with this, he admitted it and said he was ashamed to be Italian, but never gave any reason (at least none that was made public). Instead, he embraced the culture of Native American Indians and re-named himself 'Iron Eyes Cody' (the last name is obviously a variant on his family name).

I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Cody by phone, in 1982, when I was trying to find out whatever happened to another actor whom he'd known (Noble Johnson). He was listed in the Los Angeles phone directory under the name 'B.P. Cody' - it was his late wife's initials, Bertha Parker. He was very cordial and told me nobody seemed to know what happened to Noble Johnson. I thanked him for his time, and proceeded to compliment him on his movie roles, and he thanked me. I asked if I could send a photo for signing, and he welcomed it.

Two weeks later, I received the photo, signed, and he included this photo showing himself in full outfit for the Rose Bowl Parade in 1961. His notation on the latter: "My Rose Bowl outfit, made it with 102 eagle feathers. - Birdie my wife made my outfit 1937".

In the early 1970s, Mr. Cody appeared in a series of Keep America Beautiful public service tv ads. He was the "Crying Indian", shown with a tear rolling down his face after trash is thrown from a passing car and lands nearby. Below is a frame enlargement from one.
And here's a YouTube video of the ad.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Few Cowboys - and One Cowgirl

In my collection are photos I received from some actors who are primarily remembered for their roles in westerns, especially the low-budget 'B' westerns. Most of these actors starred in their own features, and some even extended their talent to leads and support in non-Westerns.

During the 1970s and into the late 1980s, I sent photos to all of these people, and they were all very quick in returning them. Some even included an additional photo.

Here you can see Bob Livingston, Eddie Dean, Fred Scott (one of the first singing cowboys), Harry Carey, Jr., Jock Mahoney (who also wrote this note apologizing for the delay), Lash LaRue, Rex Allen, Rory Calhoun, Sunset Carson (he also included this group photo of other western actors), Tim McCoy (who also included this vintage magazine article), and Yakima Canutt, a stuntman in westerns and other movies from the days of the silents - he included this scene still picturing him falling off a horse).

While many movie fans may not have heard of most of the names above, everybody will know the name Roy Rogers. Mr. Rogers was a singing cowboy, having formed the country-western singing group 'Sons of the Pioneers'. He starred in dozens of B-westerns in the 1940s, and in the 1950s starred in his own tv series, "The Roy Rogers Show".

Dale Evans is the 'cowgirl' cited in the heading of this post. Ms. Evans was the third wife of Roy Rogers and co-starred with him in his later movies as well as the tv show.

Mr. and Mrs. Rogers were very accessible to their fans, and loved hearing from them. In 1981 I sent a photo to their residence in Victorville, California, and in a couple of weeks, they returned it, signed by both.

Here's a YouTube video of the ending credits for their tv show, which featured Roy and Dale singing their well-known song, "Happy Trails".

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds is one of my favorite contemporary actors. I've always liked his action roles, but particularly enjoy his comedy-action movies, such as the "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Cannonball Run" movies. I also liked his short-lived tv series from 1989, "B.L. Stryker", and the four years of "Evening Shade" in the early 1990s.

I wrote to him at a home address I obtained from another collector, in 1982. It was on North Carolwood Drive in Los Angeles. I sent him a photo, and a note card with a reproduction of one of his paintings. He signed the photo, as well as the inside of the note card. The front and back of the card can be seen here.

The note card was part of a series of such cards sold by the humane organization Actors and Others for Animals, in the 1970s.

Here's the painting in its proper horizontal perspective:

I'm looking forward to the dvd release of the first season of "Evening Shade" in July.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dan Seymour

Dan Seymour was a character actor in movies from the 1940s through the 1950s, then made occasional appearances on tv shows into the 1970s. He specialized in playing heavies, especially ethnic-types.

Mr. Seymour was listed in the Los Angeles phone directory when I called him in 1981. I believe the number was actually for his business, but he answered the phone himself. He was cordial, but explained he was busy and didn't have time to talk. He gave me his address so I could send him a photo for signing. I had only this scene still from "Key Largo" (1948) - that's him in the upper bunk- and I asked if he had a portrait. He also sent this nice composite.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bob Cummings

Robert Cummings was a leading actor in movies from the 1930s right into the 1970s. He appeared as a guest on many tv shows from the 1950s through the 1970s, but also had his own series three times: two were named "The Bob Cummings Show" and one was "My Living Doll".

Mr. Cummings was renowned for keeping healthy and fit, very big on proper nutrition. He always looked very youthful even into his senior years.

In 1982, I wrote to Mr. Cummings, providing the photo. He returned it promptly, with this inscription, which is one of the finer ones in my entire collection: "Continued great good fortune, perfect nutrition, health and happiness, $uccess!!" - very encouraging!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ann Rutherford - 'Lately yours'

Ann Rutherford was an actress whose career in movies was mainly in the 1930s through the late 1940s. She had both starring and co-starring roles. From the 1950s into the 1970s, she appeared on many tv shows.

I wrote to her in June 1982, sending her a photo which I requested she autograph. A couple of months passed, and I thought perhaps the photo was lost on its way to her, or on it's return to me.

In late August, I received Ms. Rutherford's reply: this handwritten note on my original letter, and this signed photo.

The note explains why it took so long to hear from her: "Dear Bill, I am so sorry for the delay, your envelope some how wound up in a filing cabinet! 'Lately' yours, Ann Rutherford".

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Alan Napier - 'Batman's Butler'

Alan Napier was a character actor in many movies from the 1930s, and many tv shows from the 1950s, until his retirement in the early 1980s. But I'll always remember him as 'Alfred', the butler, in the 1960s tv show "Batman" which starred Adam West as 'Batman' and Burt Ward as 'Robin'.

In about 1980, I called Mr. Napier, wanting to tell him my appreciation of his movie and tv roles. He was living in Pacific Palisades, California and was listed in the phone directory. The phone was answered by a young man, who identified himself as Mr. Napier's grandson. He told me his grandfather wasn't home, but promised to pass along my comments. I told him I would also write a letter.

In my letter, I requested a photo, as I didn't have one to send. Mr. Napier replied within a week, sending this photo.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody

I watched "The Howdy Doody Show" sometimes while growing up in the late 1950s. I liked the show and the marionettes, but was not a dedicated fan, meaning that I'd watch it whenever I could, but not every day.

During the nostalgia craze in the early 1970s, 'Buffalo' Bob Smith and 'Howdy Doody' were making the rounds on tv shows and college campuses. One of the tv shows on which they appeared was "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour".

I used my 35mm camera to snap some pictures off the tv screen, and while the quality was only fair, I sent copies to Mr. Smith at his Florida home. Of course I requested an autographed photo too. He replied with this letter and this vintage photo.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Actor and Others Fund Raising Event 1973 [PLEASE READ COMMENTS FOR DATE CORRECTION]

To follow up on my previous posting, on which I included a photo of Beatrice Arthur taken at the 1973 Actors and Others for Animals Fund Raising Event, held at the Burbank Studios, I'm posting some of the other photos. The event was very casual, and as I explained previously, attendees were expected to pay 50 cents to snap photos of any celebrity. Since I wasn't prepared for this, I didn't have a pocket full of coins, but now I wish I had. All captions refer to the photo directly below.

Doris Day auctioning some collectible items

Jack Weston surveying the crowd

Jonathan Winters signing an autograph for a fan

Loretta Swit and Monte Markham talking to Peter Bonerz (face turned away - he's the one holding the cigarette between his fingers)

Earl Holliman signing for a fan

Richard Anderson also signing for a fan

Lassie (which generation I have no idea) looking scared and confused

The house from "Apple's Way" tv show

The church from "The Flying Nun" tv show

The house from "Bewitched" tv show

The Western street from the "Kung Fu" tv show