Tuesday, October 30, 2007
halloween boo!

Halloween is almost upon us, and I thought it would be lots of fun to post some clips from some good and some not so good Horror Films! And because I just did a post about Eva Gabor, here is a clip with Eva and The King of Horror Films, the always wonderful Vincent Price! Enjoy!

And here below....Some "trailers" of Horror Films most have us have never heard of and are happy we haven't....These are kind of funny, mostly because they are kind of "C" movies---that is even below "B".....(lol)

And in these clips, that is my dear old friend and wonderful actor, Bert Remsen who is having his head crushed in by some kind of Sea Monster...LOL....I'll be honest. I didn't even know he had made a horror film....Well, I'm sure there is a reason for that.....Like maybe because it wasn't very good? Anyway...these are kind of fun, too....

And, last but not least on this Halloween Eve, we have "The Trail Of The Screaming Forehead"....This is a new film made by the same folks who brought you "The Lost Skeleton Of The Cadavra"....Both these films are tongue-in-cheek Horror Films that are take-offs of the very very low budget Science-Fiction/Horror Films of the early 1950's. These two films have a special place in my heart because Andy Parks, Betty Garrett's younger son, is in them. And in fact, Betty has a Cameo in "Screaming Forehead" along with Keven McCarthy.....If you are not sure who he is, look him up on IMDB. Among many distinguished performances, he was the star of a very famous low-budget 1960's film that but I just cannot think of the name, at this moment....

Happy Happy Halloween to you all.....Have fun and don't eat too much candy....LOL!

More To Come......Boo!

Sunday, October 28, 2007
smoky views

You would not know that this view is of La Brea Avenue looking out at the city---almost dead center---at La Brea Avenue from my deck.....Scary, isn't it? Well even scarier when it should look like this. And then the view of the Ocean looking West, again, from my deck.... on a clear day...this picture below is how one hopes it will always look.... But on the Thursday, this is how it looked, same view..... Pretty frightening that this is the air everyone was breathing for days....Then, the view of Downtown Los Angeles, again, from my deck...On a beautiful fairly clear day.......
But on Thursday....well, you couldn't see Downtown Los Angeles, at all....No buildings, just the smoke that has been in the air from fires that have been burning too long......

More To Come.....

Friday, October 26, 2007
eva gabor - 1951

For some reason, I remember that very first summer at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre where I apprenticed, better then the next two summers that I worked there. Maybe because it was all new to me and everything was interesting and exciting and I was learning how things worked. The first play of that summer season was “The Curtain Rises”, with Veronica Lake. (Her leading man was an actor named Ward Costello….an attractive serviceable actor). It was kind of exciting to have a ‘movie star’ be the “STAR” of the play. I don’t have any particular memories of her….I think I worked the concession stand during that week and probably ate more Hershey Bars and Milky Ways, than I sold! My favorite film of Veronica Lake's and one of my very favorite films of all time was "Sullivan's Travels", in which she co-starred with the highly underrated fine handsome actor, Joel McRae....I wish I had had the courage to speak to her about that film back then at Sea Cliff, but unfortunately I didn't. Being a lowly apprentice who cleaned the toilets, built and painted the sets and did props sometimes, too....just didn't give one a whole lot of courage.
Then came, Melvyn Douglas & Signe Hasso in a little ditty called, “Glad Tidings”….I have no memory of that week either, except that Mr. Douglas was very nice and very good, in the play, too! He was a superlative actor who had a wonderfully long career, winning an Oscar along the way, plus being any number of wonderful films in his later years like "Hud" and "Being There" and another favorite film, "I Never Sang For My Father", as well as having the amazing distinction of playing opposite Greta Garbo in her very last film.

The 3rd week was the wonderful Lillian Gish of whom I have spoken in one of my previous posts waaaay back in 1784, doing a play called “Miss Mabel”. She had a couple of heavy weights with her; Clarence Derwent, who was an icon in the American Theatre and also was President of Actors Equity Association, at that time….(also, there is an Award named after him)--and a distinguished gentleman and very fine actor, was he; Dennis Hoey, who we knew from the “Sherlock Holmes” films…the ones with Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce. (He was Inspector LaStrade, in the later films of that series, and was very well known in theatre as well….). Miss Gish was a smart savvy lady and knew to surround herself with first class actors. It’s hard to believe that Lillian Gish was only 55 when she did “Miss Mabel”. Because I was still in my teens, (just barely), I thought she was ancient!!Next came “Her Cardboard Lover”, with Eva Gabor. Miss Gabor had told the Producers that she would need a ‘Dresser’. I am not sure why they chose me, except, I think they thought I was nice, and would get a kick out of being her dresser. So, I had gone home and showered and put on fresh clothes in order to meet her. Everyone else was filthy with paint all over them as I had been also before going home We were all tired as hell and most everyone looked like 7 unmade beds! As I've said before, this theatre was pretty much a mess and that included backstage. The ‘Star’ Dressing Room was very tiny and pretty disgusting, too, though we would try to keep it as clean as possible so that there would be no remnant of the previous person who had ‘lived’ in this little room the week before—in this case that was Lillian Gish. Miss Gabor asked me my name, and I told her it was Naomi. She immediately proceeded to call me Gertrude and did so for the first 3 days or so….we decided that her "Dresser" the week before must have been named Gertrude and she just held on to that once she had finally learned it…we were all interchangeable to her, I’m sure! She then handed me a list of the things I was expected to do before each show, including the two shows on Wednesday and Saturday. Among the many things I was expected to do, (I think there were 9 directives in all), I had to help her dress, literally, including helping her pull her girdle on, (oy) and get down on the floor on my hands and knees and help her put her shoes on(!!!). Then, iron…yes, iron her 8 or 9 costumes—most of them huge skirted dresses---this was the crinoline 50’s remember and, my personal favorite, brush her little dog before HIS entrance in the second and third acts. (Two brushing's per show mind you). I was rather stunned by this daunting list of duties.
One of the Producers, Louis McMillan & his partner George McIver, who was our Stage Manager, were chomping at the bit to find out how it went and what I had to do, and, mostly they wanted to know was she a real blond! I was pretty overwhelmed with the list of chores, let me tell you—not feeling up to these tasks at all—especially the ironing—
I was so afraid I would burn her very fancy dresses---satin, lace, etc., that I just couldn't even contemplate how I was going to do this! I told them everything that was expected of me and how fearful I was of ruining her dresses. The crowning blow was when Louis heard I had to brush her dog before the dog's entrance, too. He barked angrily…”My God, she needs a $90 a week dresser! (That would be $1,900. in today’s money, and it was considered a job for a ‘professional’….) “This is outrageous!!!”, he continued, “I’m going to call her agent! I will tell him he has to hire someone for her right now. I’m putting a stop to this kind of thing, right this second!” He was much madder than I could have imagined. I began to realize that it really was an outrageous expectation on her part and hoped he would somehow take care of this situation. I don’t remember where I went in my mind while he did all that yelling on the telephone to her agent, but after he got off the phone he told me to go home. He said..."Leave the theatre, and don’t come back till the evening". I was a little unsure about this, but he was my boss, not Miss Gabor. “I’ll see to this, right now!”, and he stormed out of the Box Office where we had been talking and I could see he was on his way through the theatre to backstage where he was going to give Miss Gabor, 'what for'..
I scurried out of there, fast. I had promised to pick up some props that were needed for the show anyway, and so off I went, not knowing what the outcome would be. But I was very relieved that he understood that THIS was definitely beyond my expertise as an apprentice.

I returned to the theatre about about 7pm and went backstage to see what was happening, terribly afraid of Eva Gabor’s wrath. She saw me and immediately asked me into her Dressing Room and closed the door and said; “Oh Please, Gertrude, don’t leave me! I need you Gertrude, and you are the only one here who looks clean…it won’t be so hard…..I’ll help you! You’ll see, Gertrude, you’ll see!!” This woman was begging me….!
My favorite thing was her saying, ‘you look clean’…! Well….needless to say, I didn't leave her….And ultimately she learned my proper name, and in fact, turned out to be a lot of fun and a very good sport, too. George McIver would call half-hour of course and those first few nights he would come to the Dressing Room door and knock rapidly, calling out, 'Naomi Gertrude Hirshhorn, it’s half-hour'! During that week a couple of the kids went to a joke store and they picked up the most real looking and I might add, truly disgusting joke-dog-poop. George put it where he knew Miss Gabor would see it and she did see it, and the result was pretty hilarious. She screamed thinking her little dog must have dumped it there. But then after looking at it more carefully—good egg that she was, she laughed. She laughed harder than anyone else! A good sport, like I said.

As the week went on, there was a lot of discussion among all the apprentices and the rest of the staff as to what Eva Gabor would give me as a ‘thank you’ present. It was the customary thing to do, especially given the laundry list of chores Gabor had me doing. Much speculation ensued. Some thought it might be a piece of jewelry. After all, her mother, Jolie Gabor, owned a very famous jewelry store in Manhattan. I knew that her sisters and mother were coming to the show on the coming weekend and the thought was that perhaps they would be bringing the gift with them. They did come and all four of them crowded into the dressing room chattering away in Hungarian—I did not understand one word of course—she would stop every so often and ask me a question in English, like—‘Who are the Benefit people here tonight?’, and I would answer her, ‘The B’nai Brith’. She would repeat that to her family, ‘B’nai Brith, (aga baga golta…it all sounded like gibberish to me...but, whatever)...going right back into heavy-duty Hungarian. Eva, Zsa Zsa, Magda, and Momma Jolie…all talking at once.

Then, the end of the week came and she was now calling me ‘Naomi’ ---and I just knew, the girl the following week at whatever theatre she was going to would be called Naomi, till she grasped the new name. She thanked me and gave me a signed 8 X 10 glossy of herself and a little gift box. She said I should open it after she left. So after closing,
we had this little ritual just to unwind before we began tearing down the set---this merry-go-round of Summer Stock and of a different show with a different 'star' coming in every week was about to start all over again.....We always had our little bit of food and drink, (Soda was my speed at that time), and we had ‘The Opening Of The Gift from Eva Gabor to Gertrude', ceremony. I must say that by this time I thought it might really be a truly nice piece of jewelry.

Drum Roll:

I opened the box and inside was a rhinestone pin in the shape of an over sized snowflake with a fake pearl in the center….a pin that might be worn by a woman of 40 or 45, but not a by a girl of 19. And it was from Mama’s store, this piece of 'costume jewelry' as it was called back then.
I still have that pin. In all these years, I have never worn it but I couldn't get rid of it or even give it away to someone else. It was never the kind of jewelry I would have ever worn, but it is a keepsake and a reminder of another time.

The following winter, sometime before Christmas, Eva Gabor was doing a radio show from a hotel supper club, in the city, ('Coming to you from The beautiful Glass Hat in the Belmont-Plaza Hotel in The Heart Of Manhattan....'), and I went with a couple of friends. And during the course of this radio show she was to give away as a prize---a weekend at The Concord Hotel, a popular resort in The Catskill mountains at that time, and it may still be for all I know. The contest consisted of her calling out the name of an obscure song and you had to say what Broadway show it was from. So she said the name of the song and....nothing! No one said a word. Eventually she had to give a hint by naming another more well known song from the same Broadway show. She called out the more well known song in that charming accent of hers…’All The Things You Are’, darling'….and suddenly I knew what the show was.
I could see the sheet music in my minds eye because we had it at home, so I screamed out, “Very Warm For May”! ‘That’s it! That’s it!’, she said…’Who said that?’…..I stood up in the back of the room where we had been sitting, and waved at her, and said…’I did’. She screamed in recognition, and said, ‘Oh, it’s my dresser, Gertrude!’ Well, I won that weekend, which I never actually took, and discovered that to Eva Gabor, I was still Gertrude after all! Ahhhhhh, how quickly they forget! The picture below is from "Her Cardboard Lover" at Sea Cliff...It was not retouched in any way, shape or form....This was how Eva Gabor actually looked in the Summer of 1951.

More To Come.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007
lena! the lady and her music

I finally learned how to put these YouTube Videos on my blog...(I hope)...so here is an 'artist' that I admire more than I can say. The GREAT GREAT Lena Horne....The Amazing Lena Horne, The Fantastic Lena Horne,...The Utterly SUBLIME Lena Horne....! (I wrote a post about her a long long time ago, and it is in my archives, March 21, 2006...). She sings her heart out and takes you along with her, breaking your heart too in the best way, as she goes....This clip above---the picture is pretty bad, but the sound is really great---is from her One Woman Show, "Lena Horne: The Lady & Her Music"....Broadway, 1981

And Then.....there is this clip below....also from her one woman show....two songs, "Stormy Weather", a signature song of hers, and "I Believe", from 'THE WIZ'....Ms. Horne was 64 years old and never sounded better. I saw this show three times, and would go again, if I had the opportunity....

This last clip is from 1994, another "live" performance when she was 77 years old...Seventy-Seven, people! Still sexy, still singing great, still with that sly sense of humor...This is a true treat.....! And this performance along with 18 other songs is available on DVD...."An Evening With Lena Horne"....you will not be sorry to own this.....I personally find it most inspiring in every way, and a joy to watch....The man that they cut to sitting at a table in the club is the unforgettable Bobby Short, who held forth at the Carlyle Hotel for almost 40 years, until he died....One artist appreciating another artist! I love that!

It makes me feel wonderful to once again see this truly great "Artist". Bless her heart, Lena Horne is 90 years old! Talk about a true treasure.I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.....

More To Come.....

Monday, October 22, 2007
spindly flower stalk - 2

At the risk of boring you all to death with 'The Bee's':

is the plant that the spindly flower stalks come from....It is not an especially unusual looking plant by 'cactus and succulent' standards...But, it is very pretty, well...at least to my eye it is....and, I find it quite extraordinary that this amazingly Beautiful Stalk of flowers, comes out of it....!

And the bee's absolutely love these little teeny tiny blossoms, as you may recall from the previous post about this flower stalk........ I don't remember being this interested in this flower stalk before this year. I think, once I became aware that the bee's were everywhere where there were open flowers, and saw them coming to this stalk, too.....well, that's when I really began to notice these very beautiful little blossoms..... It is never ever boring to watch these bee's do their thing....Somehow, I find it so incredibly impressive that the most important thing in a bee's life is to pollinate....Oh I understand there are other things the bee does for his queen, but in terms of the continuum of flowers and such...what we see the bee's doing here----well, this is the most important thing they do for us and for our planet..... I love these upside down bee's....I think because this stalk is so spindly and because the flowers seem to go all around it, the bees just do whatever they have to do to get the nectar. Upside down, right side up, sideways....Whatever....they do whatever it takes....Yes, indeed. That is what they do....And I get to watch them do it and record the fabulous wonderment of it all, too.... And I get to really observe a good close look at the flowers, too....In a way, I feel the bee's have given me the gift of awareness....Seeing things I really had not looked at very carefully before..... And I say, 'thank you dear bee's for opening up another special view of the world of this magical thing we call nature'.......

More To Come......

Friday, October 19, 2007
carol bruce 1919 -2007

Sometimes things happen that make you look back at your life and consider how very many people had an influence on you and your choices and who had such a great influence on you becoming the person you are by just a few words of encouragement. Carol Bruce, who died just a few days ago, was a very talented woman who's life touched mine in a very meaningful way and was indeed, one of the many people who had a true and lasting impact on me.Who was this woman? Well, among other things, she was a Broadway Star. The very first time I saw her was back in 1946-47. She played 'Julie' in the first ever Broadway Revival of "Show Boat", a part that Helen Morgan had created back in 1927....My mother had seen the Original production back in 1927 and always raved about Helen Morgan and how amazingly talented she was and what a heart breaking voice she had....That's how I felt about Carol Bruce when I first saw her in this "Show Boat" revival. The character she played, the character of Julie, was a very important one, and within the context of the story, she sings two of the greatest ballads ever written for the musical theatre: "Can't Help Lovin' That Man Of Mine" and "Bill".....(The score was written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II....a beautiful memorable score it is, too....). .Richard Watts, of the New York Times wrote this about Carol Bruce in "Show Boat". "She possesses a grave, romantic loveliness which gives her a physical advantage over her predecessor that is not to be overlooked in such a role.....She captures a deeply moving and completely credible mood of lyric sadness in her playing as well as her singing." Mr. Watts was a wonderful critic and he knew what he was talking about where Carol Bruce was concerned.
Carol Bruce's career covered so very many areas of show business. Nightclubs, Films, Television, and of course, the Stage. And not just The Broadway Stage, but Regional Theatre and Summer Stock, etc. Back when I was an apprentice at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre...that very first summer of 1951----the fifth week was "Pal Joey". I had seen the Original Broadway Production of that show back in 1940-41, with Gene Kelly, before his film career began, and with Vivenne Segal playing the leading woman. The summer package of "Pal Joey" came to Sea Cliff for that fifth week of the eleven week season, and everyone was energized by the production. It was the very first time it had been done anywhere since the original Broadway show, and Carol Bruce and Bob Fosse played the two leads.....Vera Simpson, (the part Carol Bruce played) is an older woman who falls in love with this young rather 'not so nice' man/boy, and of course she gets her heart broken. ("Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered"....). This show was such a breath of fresh air for all of the apprentices...the cast was fantastic and the songs were fabulous, and it was just plain good old fun! And not just to all of us. The audiences absolutely loved it and we were sold out that whole week with people clamoring for tickets. In fact, this summer production was so popular wherever it went that it sparked the very first Broadway revival the following winter of 1952....neither Carol Bruce nor Bob Fosse were in it unfortunately, though Carol replaced Vivenne Segal...(Yes, Miss Segal played Vera once again in 1952...) on Broadway when Segal left and later played the London company as well. And, I must say, that week at Sea Cliff stayed in all of our memories because it was so much fun and these two stars were 'stellar'. And we all know what Bob Fosse went on to do....And in case you don't, well, he became one if the great great Choreographer/Directors the Theatre has ever known.
The following summer---my second summer as an apprentice at the same theatre---Carol Bruce was once again on the summer circuit with "One Touch Of Venus", the Kurt Weill fantasy musical which has some beautiful beautiful songs....probably the most famous being 'Speak Low'....Again, Carol Bruce was just terrific! It was a perfect part for her....the 'goddess' was an elegant beautiful woman and Miss Bruce was all those things, and more. Off stage she could swear like a sailor, and could tell a dirty joke better than anyone! She was a lot of fun.
The apprentices decided to put on a 'take off' of "Venus" on the Saturday Night, after the performance, and the entire cast was invited, of course....I had been chosen to play Carol's part and sing her songs, though we didn't do the entire show, mind you, but just enough that everyone got to do a number and it was all tongue-in-cheek. When it was over, Carol Bruce was so complimentary to me, it is really what made me broaden my scope as an actress and think about moving into a singing career....I was incredibly touched by her words. You know when someone that you admire so much as a performer tells you "You've Got It!"....well, I was floating on air. And it was the single most important thing that happened to me that summer at Sea Cliff because of all that followed.I didn't see Carol Bruce for quite a few years after that, in fact it was sometime in the late '60's, way after my Broadway experience in "Spoon River". I was in New York and I ran into her in Sardi's Restaurant. I was surprised she actually remembered me. She had been on Broadway in "Do I Hear A Waltz"(1965), and "Henry, Sweet Henry"(1967) and "The World Of Henry Orient"(1964), none of which I saw....So it was truly lovely to see her their in the great Sardi's, especially since I had not seen her performing in any if these shows....And there was a period when she did not perform for quite a while because she was struggling with some personal demons.....Later, in 1978, (she was now living in Los Angeles), she came to an Art Opening of mine at The Ankrum Gallery here in Los Angeles, and it was soooo wonderful to see her....I was just thrilled that she attended....I think I always thought of her as my mentor in a way....and so, of course, she was very important to me. I'm not sure she was able to make the leap from my Acting/Singing career to my career as a Painter, her own path was so all encompassing as a total Singer/Actress/Performer. But she said all the right things and was very complimentary and I was truly happy to share this other part of my creative life with her. She was quite a wonderful person and always supportive of all those she cared about....

In the 1980's she was a regular on "WKRP in Cincinnati". She also had a part in "American Gigolo" playing one of the 'older women' that Richard Gere escorted around town, and was in the Steve Martin, John Candy movie "Planes, Trains & Automobiles".....In the late 1980's and into the 1990's, she was part of a group of terrific show business women---all performers of a certain age....called 'The Show Buddies'...My dear pal Betty Garrett was and is a member along with quite a few other amazing performing women. These dames meet once a month at different peoples homes and sit around having lunch and telling dirty jokes and just having a ball.....Carol was the BEST 'Dirty Joke' teller of the bunch, though Betty is not bad, and Giselle McKenzie was a close second to Carol....They sure had a lot of fun together! I know the 'Show Buddies' are very sad right now having just lost this treasure of a friend, but all they have to do is remember all the great dirty jokes she used to tell, and their spirits will soar.

Carol Bruce went through some difficult times battling alcohol addiction, and later, severe depression. But she came through all of that with flying colors. She had been a recovering alcoholic for many many years, and with the advent of many of the newer medications, her depressive mood swings became stabilized....
When she died, she was living at The Motion Picture Home, a fantastic place in Woodland Hills that is specifically for all people who have worked in the film industry in every area. It is a great place because it has Independent Living, Assisted Living, and a Hospital facility, too. Quite a few people that many of us know live there...it is a wonderful place and it is good to know that this is where Carol Bruce spent her last days. She was a real 'Broadway Baby' and had a long and illustrious career, including making a film with Abbott & Costello, called "Keep Em Flying", and being on the cover of LIFE Magazine....She was a very important part of my development
and along with many other people encouraged me to go on in this crazy business known as "show business". But she was really the first professional person to give me the courage to think maybe I really could have a career....I will be eternally grateful to her for her generous and caring enthusiasm of my talent. It came at a real turning point for me and her encouragement put me on the road that I have been traveling ever since.
Thank You Dear Carol for showing me the path.....And Thank You for all those to whom you brought so much joy with your beautiful talent in your long and stunning career, me among them, I might add.

Rest well, my dear. You've earned it!

More To Come.....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
spindly flower stalk

This is a picture of this lovely spindly flower stalk coming out of a plant that, in truth, I honestly do not know the name of....I should, but I don't....It is a lovely delicate stalk with these teeny tiny sweet delicate flowers..... A slightly closer look and as you can see, the bougainvillea is in the background...so, you may or may not get, how tiny these flowers are....But, here below is a somewhat closer look, yet again....
You can see these lovely flowers plus the little balls that precede them...Still...not close enough to really see the beauty of these blossoms.... In this picture above, the little flower balls look like ovals...But as you will see in some other pictures, they also look like rounder shapes...more like a ball shape, at an earlier stage of their development....
And there is one of my favorite visitors these days...A bee...! And see, these little pods are round and then as they are getting ready to open, they become oval shaped....And the sweet stuff that is there on those flowers is very very sticky, and obviously yummy, too.... Oh, these wonderful wonderful bees...! And see, there are the 'balls' and the ovals, and of course, the open sweet sticky flowers that these bees just love..... Above....a slightly different shot: Same Bee, Same Position, Sort Of, Slightly Different Angle....The fascination of these bees never lessens for me....I'm not sure why, except that they are such an important part of nature and the balance of things.... I have really come to be a big bee fan....(as long as they are interested in the flowers----which they always seem to be when I am taking pictures....and not wanting to taste me....lol) I guess it is pretty obvious. I mean, that I am a huge 'fan'.I've said it before, and I will say it again---there is something about the concentration of the bees with the job at hand, that I find totally arresting. They're purpose. They're faithfulness to the job. It is pretty awesome. You can see, in a way, how really small these flowers are. I mean, the bees are not exactly big, you know? And when you look at that bee in the picture above, he looks pretty big next to the size of each blossom....

There will be a second installment of this post, next time....If yes, there is a lot......

More To Come......

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