TODAY IN GINNY! - April 24 - Charles Sullivan

Charles Sullivan (1899) was an all purpose bit part guy with over 500 roles to his credit. Cabbies, Cops, Gangsters, Bartenders, all were within his range. I guess he never found his type. He was a truck driver in BORN TO SING (1942). The photo is from a 1942 Universal picture called BUTCH MINDS THE BABY with Virginia Bruce, Broderick Crawford, and Shemp Howard. 

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 24 - Lillian Elliott

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Lillian Elliott (1874) was born in Canada and came to Hollywood around 1915. She appeared in 62 films over the next 28 years. Her casting list shows lots of “Mrs.” roles along with two “Frau”s and a “Senora”. ginnyfan likes her role of “Irish woman who doesn’t know French” in GALLANT SONS. She played Mrs. Bagby in MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH (1934). She was also in the recently restored silent feature PARTNERS AGAIN (1926) starring George Sidney and Alexander Carr as Potash and Permutter, two business partners selling the Scheckmann Six, a car “twice as expensive and half as good as a Ford.”  She is also the mother of more famous character actor, Lloyd Corrigan. Lillian and Lloyd make up a mother/son team of TIG members. His day is in the fall. I think the photo is from something called THUNDERING TENORS.

I have a Patricia Brown update and we’ll accompany it with a Ken photo in honor of Spring. BTW, I misunderstood Ken’s email when he first sent it, and almost never opened the attachment. I need to be sharper in the morning. Jarrod asked that I ask Patricia to comment on life at Desilu with the Arnazes and here’s what she had to say:

I can only give you my viewpoint about Lucy and Desi. I would direct you to my blog theenglishprofessoratlarge.com to my post “I Loved Lucy” for the background as to my working at Desilu. If you can’t locate it there, let me know. My job was to write stories to be planted in the newspapers and magazines and dailies, to work with the publicists of the net work and the outside agency Desilu employed to do publicity and go on tours, organize parties, attend new pilots for publicity shots and interviews, visit the sets around the studio and interview the actors and guest stars, attend the “December Bride” shooting every Tuesday night to get stories from the stars and arrange for publicity shots with a photographer, greet the “I Love Lucy” fans outside the door to the Thursday shootings, give out tickets to the show, be available on set if my boss needed me, deliver the Christmas presents from Lucy and Desi to all the recipients, etc. etc. etc. When Desilu was at Motion Picture Studios, it was a more intimate setting, and everyone saw one another more frequently than when we moved to the old RKO studio. If I were passing by, Desi might send me to get him a cup of coffee from the commissary. Lucy might stop by the office and have a word or two. It was very casual. I was good friends with Cleo, Lucy’s first cousin, (although she referred to her as her sister as they had been raised together), who was married to my boss. Lucy never mentioned Ginny to me, but I am sure she wanted her to continue her career. Everyone did.

I have a Patricia Brown update and we’ll accompany it with a Ken photo in honor of Spring. BTW, I misunderstood Ken’s email when he first sent it, and almost never opened the attachment. I need to be sharper in the morning.

Jarrod asked that I ask Patricia to comment on life at Desilu with the Arnazes and here’s what she had to say:

I can only give you my viewpoint about Lucy and Desi. I would direct you to my blog theenglishprofessoratlarge.com to my post “I Loved Lucy” for the background as to my working at Desilu. If you can’t locate it there, let me know. My job was to write stories to be planted in the newspapers and magazines and dailies, to work with the publicists of the net work and the outside agency Desilu employed to do publicity and go on tours, organize parties, attend new pilots for publicity shots and interviews, visit the sets around the studio and interview the actors and guest stars, attend the “December Bride” shooting every Tuesday night to get stories from the stars and arrange for publicity shots with a photographer, greet the “I Love Lucy” fans outside the door to the Thursday shootings, give out tickets to the show, be available on set if my boss needed me, deliver the Christmas presents from Lucy and Desi to all the recipients, etc. etc. etc. When Desilu was at Motion Picture Studios, it was a more intimate setting, and everyone saw one another more frequently than when we moved to the old RKO studio.

If I were passing by, Desi might send me to get him a cup of coffee from the commissary. Lucy might stop by the office and have a word or two. It was very casual. I was good friends with Cleo, Lucy’s first cousin, (although she referred to her as her sister as they had been raised together), who was married to my boss. Lucy never mentioned Ginny to me, but I am sure she wanted her to continue her career. Everyone did.

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 23 - Monte Montague

Character actor Monte Montague (1891) was also born Walter. He had 211 mostly uncredited roles and tended toward westerns. He appeared in two Ginny films, playing Tom Hadley/Monte in THE ROOKIE COP (1939) and Dolan in BARNACLE BILL (1941).

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 23 - Walter Ferris

Walter Ferris (1882) was an English professor at Yale who became a Hollywood screenwriter in the 1930s. He wrote MAID OF SALEM (1937) as well as HEIDI, A YANK AT OXFORD, and THE LITTLE PRINCESS. Last year, the copy of this photo I found didn’t ID Mr. Ferris. He’s the one on the left. That’s his son, Stuart, on the right. 

Why ginnyfan hates MGM…or learning to battle the “A” word.

ginnyfan is going to try to stop being such a Donnie Downer…after this.

I found the article from the Toronto Film Society linked at the bottom of this a couple of days ago and after a quick scanning I sent the link to Danny Miller saying the following:

Our research is starting to seep into other people’s writeups on Virginia. The Mrs. Wiggs story, Renee Wild, and just the general tone are all ours. Bwahahaha!

It was true. The writer for the Toronto Film Society, reviewing its screening of PETER IBBETSON (1935), had used several things Danny and I dug up over the last two years, things that weren’t part of the Weidler record prior to the Society. The story seemed to follow our stubborn belief in Ginny, calling Ginny and Dickie Moore two of the most talented kids in Hollywood. The author made a very astute comment:

'Ginny' Weidler was a born character actress, blessed with a delightfully knowing way with a comic line, and the intelligence and sensitivity to handle dramatic ones.

I was starting to like this more and more.

Then it happened. The author had to go a use the one word guaranteed to make me write this blog entry. He used the “A” word. The cover story MGM created in order to justify sinking Virginia’s career once again reared its ugly head:

Virginia was never a great beauty, and she became a rather awkward adolescent.

Arrggh!

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MGM could have quietly put Virginia on the sideline in 1943, but instead they insisted on establishing how “right” they were by completely trashing the girl. In fact, I spent a lot of time at the end of last week trying to figure out what wrong she had committed against the studio to make them want to completely ruin her.  She was awkward, they claimed;  she had “outgrown her talent”, they leaked.  She wasn’t pretty enough to be an ingenue. One anecdote actually had L.B.Mayer saying she didn’t have enough in one particular place to be an ingenue at MGM. She wasn’t Lana Turner, but she wasn’t Cass Daley, either. I’m also betting that by her thirties she probably looked a lot younger than a lot of those ingenues who bested her in 1943 as well, from what those who knew her say about how she held her youth.

According to the article Danny found they even said she was too hard to write for, as though she could only act in one type of role. The Paramount and RKO films, and even some of the MGMs, prove different. 

On the question of her awkwardness, at fifteen she looked and acted like a very attractive fifteen year old. I saw nothing clumsy or awkward about her in her last three or four films. Off camera, she was a top notch jive dancer. She was praised in 1945 for the deft way she handled her Broadway debut in a play that was an MGM stinker. How awkward could she really have been?

And so, over seventy years later, that is still the legacy of Virginia Weidler I try to fight every day. She’s remembered as that dynamic young actress who was so good in The Philadelphia Story, then couldn’t get out of her own way three years later.

It’s conventional wisdom but, like a lot of conventional wisdom, it simply isn’t true.

Although as an adult Virginia Weidler wouldn’t talk about the movie business, her husband said it was clear to her sons she didn’t think much of it. Virginia Weidler was too nice and too classy to say anything bad about even the people who ruined her professional reputation without a moment’s hesitation.

ginnyfan isn’t so noble and takes great pleasure in how the L.B. Mayer story ended. He, too, got put on the shelf by MGM.

http://torontofilmsociety.org/film-notes/peter-ibbetson-1935-2/

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TODAY IN GINNY! - April 22 - Vivian Dandridge

Vivian Dandridge (1921) was one of The Dandridge Sisters along with actual sister Dorothy and Etta Jones. She was also related by marriage to the Nicholas Brothers. The Dandridge Sisters did a specialty number in the BIG BROADCAST OF 1936. After Dorothy went solo in 1940, Vivian continued to find work in bit roles as dancers and singers as well as cartoon voice work. She and her mother Ruby did voice work in a Warner Brothers black version of Snow White. They also did a version of Goldilocks for WB. After her retirement from show business in 1953, Vivian lived in Seattle under the name Marina Rozell.

 

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 22 - Walter Merrill

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ginnyfan’s brother once told him that when said brother was in the professional acting game he was once told to, “find your type, and stick to it”. Walter Merrill (1906) followed that sage advice. He must have looked like a reporter, because he sure played a lot of them. He occasionally branched out and was a cameraman as well. He played “writer”-newspaper writer, maybe?-in OUTSIDE THESE WALLS (1939). You be the judge of his type as he rides with actress Dorothy Mackaill.

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 22 - Byron Haskin

Byron Haskin (1899) was a cinematographer, special effects man, and sometimes director. He was nominated for the Special Effects Oscar four straight years, 1940-43, but never won. He was responsible for special effects in ALL THIS AND HEAVEN TOO (1940), so when nanny Davis made Virginia and the other de Preslin children fly all around the room, that was his doing. He’s seen here working with Burt Lancaster in one of the films he directed, HIS MAJESTY O’KEEFE.

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 21 - Rex Downing

Rex Downing (1925) was a child actor in the 1930s who hung on until he was a young adult in the late 1940s. In the 1930s he was one of OUR GANG when the Weidler Brothers appeared in THE PINCH SINGER. As a child actor, he was Heathcliff as a child in WUTHERING HEIGHTS. After four years out of Hollywood and in the military, he came back in 1946 to make GAS HOUSE KIDS, a film that mixed OUR GANG (Alfalfa and Rex) with the DEAD END KIDS (Billy Halop). It would become a short lived series, but Rex and Billy were absent from the others. He retired in 1948, but came back almost sixty years later to appear in HARVEST OF REDEMPTION. Above is Downing in CALL NORTHSIDE 777, below in Rex in WUTHERING HEIGHTS looking a little Ronald Sinclair-ish to me.

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