Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Our Very Own - sheet music

Pictured here is the sheet music for the title tune of the movie Our Very Own (1950).  Where soundtracks of blockbuster movies may come to us today in mp3 form or CDs, there was a time when a popular film could generate brisk sales of sheet music.  The 1950s may have heralded the end of the timeline for this bit of movie merchandise.

Ann Blyth starred as a high school senior about to graduate, who discovers through the angry taunt of her sister that she was adopted. This rocks her world, and she must unravel not only the truth but how she feels about it. It's a gentle, intelligent movie, with strong support by Farley Granger, Jane Wyatt, Donald Cook, Joan Evans, Ann Dvorak, and a very young Natalie Wood.  We discussed the movie in depth here at my Another Old Movie Blog.

The tune, "Our Very Own" is heard in the film's opening credits, but only as an instrumental.  Below we have some wonderful singers treating us to the lyrics.  Have a listen to Jo Stafford, Vaughn Monroe, and Sarah Vaughan. 

Jo Stafford


Vaughn Monroe


Sarah Vaughan



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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mildred Pierce - An Oscar-Winning Visit


It's time again for another visit with that notorious Mildred Pierce.  Here Ann Blyth pays a visit to Joan Crawford to celebrate the night Joan Crawford won the Academy Award.

As part of its month-long celebration of "31 Days of Oscar", Turner Classic Movies is showing Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated films, this year in alphabetical order.  We're up to the "M's", and that means Mildred Pierce (1945).

Joan Crawford did not attend the awards ceremony that night, due to illness, or what she claimed was illness but may have been a severe care of nerves.  Here Ann visits her bedside, and we have a glimpse of the off-screen affectionate rapport between the big star and the newcomer that was so important to their riveting chemistry on screen.  Their relationship began when Joan Crawford volunteered to do Ann's screen test with her.  From my book on Ann Blyth's career:

"Ann felt that Joan’s making the test with her was very generous, as testing with newcomers was not a normal chore for a star...

She played with me… She tried to do everything in my favor.  And that wasn’t just in the test.  It was all through the picture.

Joan Crawford returned the admiration in an article for the Saturday Evening Post in November 1946:
 
Ann, as the daughter, was perfect. I loved every scene with her except where I had to slap her and she had to slap me…After I slapped Ann, I burst into tears and found myself apologizing frantically. Later, it wasn’t quite so hard to have Ann slap me, but my hand was shaking so the scene faded out, and then it was Ann who was remorsefully apologizing."


Mildred Pierce will be shown this coming Friday, February 17th at 1.pm. on Turner Classic Movies.

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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ann Blyth Paper Dolls


Today we have a fun and a different sort of collection of Ann Blyth images: a book of paper dolls.  Once a mainstay of playtime for little girls, paper dolls are still popular with collectors, especially from Hollywood's golden age.  Ann Blyth received the paper doll treatment in the early 1950s as her career was booming.  Here from my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:


...the peak of her popularity surely typified by the book of paper dolls published by Merrill Publishing. According to American Paper Doll from an article by David Wolfe, it was “…one of the most beautiful paper doll books ever produced by Merrill Publishing.”


This paper doll book has actually been re-issued as a reproduction of the original.  While not as valuable to collectors, it is still an interesting piece of movie memorabilia, and is much more affordable, of course, than an original item.  Above we have the two doll figures to dress.  The other smaller illustrations of Ann on the page you will probably recognize from various publicity photos.


 You'll recognize as well the costumes from Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1949) and from her role as the princess in The Golden Horde (1951).  Since this book of paper dolls came out before her MGM musicals, we unfortunately don't have any representations of Rose Marie or The Student Prince, or Kismet, but most of the outfits were chosen with the idea in mind that the girls would like to imagine playing the life of the famous young actress, and not necessarily the characters she played.


To that end, there are a lot of selections of dresses and accessories that fit the part of a busy young starlet.


And the glamorous world of Hollywood society.


Including skiing, evidently.


What adventures did the paper wardrobe inspire in the children who matched each accessory by number?


And how many girls' interest in clothes was first inspired by a shoebox full of paper doll outfits?
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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.






Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Student Prince - today on TCM


The Student Prince (1954) was meant to reunite Ann Blyth on screen with Mario Lanza, but only Lanza's voice was used for the musical soundtrack; his role was played by Edmund Purdom.  From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Ralph Moratz, recounts his experience as a movie extra playing one of the students in The Student Prince:


I was in constant awe working so closely with this charming, beautiful, friendly actress.  She treated all of us as equals, joking, talking and enjoying our company as we enjoyed hers.  To this day I can recall the good feelings on that set just because Ann Blyth made it that way.


What a joyous delightful welcome for me into the fairytale land of the 1950s major studios.

Like everyone on the set, I fell in love with that talented young lady, Ann Blyth and still cherish the image of her coming out of the double doors leading to the beer garden with steins swinging in the air.
  Can’t remember how many takes for that scene alone but her stamina was amazing.


The Student Prince airs on Turner Classic Movies today at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.  I hope you can see it.
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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ann Blyth's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame


Ann Blyth has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, shown above.

As noted in Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

On February 8, 1960, Ann was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It’s on the north side of the 6700 block on Hollywood Boulevard.  This was part of the first huge batch of stars installed in what would become a major tourist attraction in Hollywood many years hence, but at the time did not draw the media fanfare it does today.  At the time, though long-planned, the new Hollywood Walk of Fame had about the same amount of press coverage as the average sidewalk repair.

Ann’s name was included in the jumble of stars from the silent era to the 1950s, her place among them in tribute to her as one of the major film actresses of the last decade.  At the time her star was cemented on the pavement, her film career, unknown to her at the time, had finished three years prior with The Helen Morgan Story.  Television guest roles still brought her work, and because of her selectiveness, quality work...


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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.



            

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ann and some techies off camera...


Here's a Universal studio publicity shot from 1947.  Ann Blyth is here with some of the technical crew, but unfortunately I do not have them identified, nor the occasion, nor exactly what they are doing with the equipment in this shot.  Not much help, I know, but if somebody out there can better identify this scene, I'd love to know more.


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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Early Studio Publicty Portrait by Ray Jones


This could be one of the earliest studio publicity headshots of Ann Blyth, taken in 1943 by Universal studio photographer Ray Jones.  She is about fifteen years old here, and had recently joined the studio ranks after concluding the nation-wide tour in Watch on the Rhine.

From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:


Black and white photography perhaps reached its zenith as creative art form in the Hollywood studios—but especially still photography that sculpted the stars images with light and shadow and glamorized them as persons of almost supernatural beauty.  One of the very best of the artists was photographer Ray Jones, head of the Stills Photo unit of the Publicity Department at Ann’s home studio of Universal.  An excellent survey of his work and the function of a studio portrait photographer is discussed in author Tom Zimmerman’s Light and Illusion – The Hollywood Portraits of Ray Jones.  The author describes Jones’ studio in the Stills Building on the Universal lot, where he was in charge of a staff of fifty-four people. 

 There were three dressing rooms in his studio where the stars were prepared for their photo shoots: for body makeup, for face and hair, and for clothes.  Grips worked under Jones’ direction to set the lights and enormous 8 x 10 view camera.

 Ann Blyth recalled for the author that photo sessions usually lasted all day, and along with other stars, complimented Ray Jones on his ability to put his subjects at ease, to inspire their confidence.  They were placing their image, and whatever insecurity or doubtfulness they brought with them to the photo shoot, in his capable hands.

 Jones remarked in a 1952 interview about photographing starlets:

“Of the current crop, Ann Blyth has the most perfect face to photograph.  She also has one of the best figures, but she won’t let me do cheesecake of her.”


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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.



Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.