Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pulling Out The Stops.

This will be the absolute last interruption to our regularly scheduled programming, I promise!

Firstly, my humble thank yous to the people who made use of the donation button yesterday, it will help so much and it just goes to show, as I had always suspected, people are quite wonderful.

As you may or may not be aware, I have an online vintage shop on Etsy.  That's what the 'Vintage Fabulosity' widget is over there on the right.  Or you can access it here.  I'm afraid I've been very lax about maintaining the shop lately.  (having the blues will do that to you.)  So when the fabulous TJB at Stirred Straight Up With A Twist mentioned my shop recently, imagine my shock and horror when I realized that every item posted but one had expired!  I have since reposted the items and listed a few new ones too.

So this morning, with a little donation cash, I decided to go grocery shopping, and, of course the car wouldn't start!  Never one to miss an opportunity, I have reduced everything in my store between 20 and 50 percent.  So why not go shopping!

Once inside Felix In Hollywood's Vintage Fabulosity let one of our pretty and helpful shop girls take care of your needs.

Some of our past sales associates are now loyal, devoted customers!

So why not drop in today for a pleasant browsing experience.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

So, It's Come To This.

This, dear friends, is the last thing I intended or wanted, but I'm exhausted and out of ideas.  On the right hand column, just above the 'Followers', I have added a 'Donate' button.  (Just typing this makes me queasy) 

Like most of us, I have been greatly affected by the economy.  What it looks like for me is that for the last 18 months, while unsuccessfully searching for alternatives, I have been trying to subsist on a part time job.  Well it's finally catching up to me.  This morning, in a brainstorm, I contacted the Unemployment office to see if I could get an 'under-employed supplement', only to find out that because I gross almost $270 per week, I was ineligible.  Gross, indeed.

I don't know if I'm foolish or wise, but I remain entirely hopeful.  I know things will turn around, and I'M NOT GIVING UP! (I'm told the Universe is receptive to all-caps)  Meantime, if you can spare a few dollars, I'm thankful.  Emarrassed as hell, but thankful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

That Was The Year That Was

As everyone knows, or at least as everyone has heard somewhere along the way,  1939 was the greatest year in films.  It is astonishing the number of landmark pictures that were put out that year.

A partial list includes:

Gone With The Wind
The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
Gunga Din
Love Affair
The Hound Of The Baskervilles
Of Mice and Men
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
The Roaring Twenties
Golden Boy
The Lady Vanishes

Wuthering Heights
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Beau Geste
Destry Rides Again
Babes In Arms
Drums Along The Mohawk
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
The Wizard Of Oz
Intermezzo: A Love Story
The Women
Only Angels Have Wings
Young Mr. Lincoln
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
Dark Victory
With such a veritable banquet of offerings vying for the picture goer's dimes, who do you suppose was the actor/actress who sold the most tickets that year?  Ok, I'll tell ya:


Ok, here goes.

Starring in five movies that year,
The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
The Hardys Ride High
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever
Babes In Arms
Judge Hardy And Son
The sawed off, multi-talented bundle of energy outsold any other performer at the box office.  An honor that he would repeat in '40 and '41.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Sunday Kind Of Love

I ran out of shaving cream, and as I was still a little kinked up from helping a friend move on Friday, I decided to buck the LA trend and 'walk it out' to the store.  It would be about a 30 minute round-trip walk and it's a beautiful day here today, so I thought it would do me a world of good.

The store I was headed to is the recently opened Trader Joe's located in the back end of the new Hollywood and Vine W Hotel complex on the corner of Selma and Vine.  As I walked up Vine Street I did what I always do (and don't think I'll ever tire of):  I read the names on the parade of stars in the sidewalk that were passing under my feet.  ...Fanny Brice, Chester Conklin, Tony Bennett, Clara Bow....  Why do I do this.  There is no meaning, it's not like they're buried here or that their spirit lives here or anything.  It's just some terrazzo and fake brass in a sidewalk.  ....Mae West, Billie Holiday, Yakima Cannut, Cary Grant....  I am unable to stop myself.  By the way, if your destination is the Trader Joe's, and you are walking north on Vine, simply make a right turn at Donna Reed.

Now, a word from our sponsor.  You really couldn't do better for your face (or legs, ladies) than Trader Joe's Honey Mango Moisturizing Cream Shave.  At just $3.49 for an 8oz. tube, it smells terrific, lathers luxuriantly, and leaves your skin soft as anything.  I can't recommend it enough.

Coming out of the store, I was suddenly completely aware of some loud swingin' music.  I looked across the street and saw:

  Today is the 50th anniversary celebration of the Hollywood Walk of Fame!  It started with a ceremonial prayer dance by a Native American Tribe.
I must be a shoe-in for evil spirits because I have never been able to stand the smell of burning sage.  Nonetheless, as the marquee on the Ricardo Montalban Theater above promised, the day of festivities kicked of with the dedication of Louis Prima's star on said Walk of Fame.

All the years I've lived here, I've never attended one of these ceremonies, so I hung out to let Louis take my cherry (so to speak) (to coin a phrase).  It was a mixture of Chamber of Commerce nonsense, and actual heartfelt emotion.  There were a couple hundred people gathered around.  A mix of tourists and neighborhood folks.  After city council members, Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge patted everyone (including themselves) on the back, Prima's children, Lena and Louis Jr. came up and made some very moving remarks.  Apparently, Louis Prima, Jr. and his mother have been working for years to get him a star and, appropriately, it happened this year during his centennial celebration.  They choked up and we, the onlookers, did too.  When the covering was lifted to reveal the star, a huge roar went up from the crowd and for a moment we were all huge Louis Prima fans.

It was starting to get a little hot in the sun, so I made my way back down the street toward home.  ...Louis Prima, Jackie Cooper, Dick Powell, Ann Southern....  And I couldn't stop smiling.

And as everybody knows, When You're Smiling; The Whole World Smiles With You.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Measuring Up

Seated in the open sill of a gigantic window phallus, Rudy struggles to maintain a grip on his enormous, but admirably erect instrument.  I won't even go into the the turgid, burning hot candle that is (for heaven's sake) dripping.  Is this what they call "subliminal advertising"?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Power Of Youth And Beauty

There are times when words add nothing the impact of a picture(s).

So, with no further comment, ladies and gentlemen:

Young Tyrone Power.

All photos (and many, many more) found here.

You're Welcome.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What, Exactly, Is Chemstrand?

Old magazine ads typically fill me with a sense of nostalgic warmth and an occasional giggle.  But when I saw this one I screamed, "NO!  MY EYES, MY EYES!  NOOOOO!" so loud that I thought the denizens of the neighborhood watch council would ask me to move at once. 

I'm sure you thought the life of Felix has been one long glamor-thon, but the truth, dear readers, is that this is the precise crap I grew up with in the family living room.  More specifically, our suite (the phrase my mother insisted on) was all gold, not avocado.  And when anyone, anyone would refer to the style as being Early American, my mother would narrow her eyes, look down her nose and sniff with complete exasperation, "It's not Early American -- It's Colonial"

It could have been Battle of the Bulge for all I cared, I wanted something sleek and modern.  Several years ago, in a group of friends the question was posed, "How old were you when you realized your parents had no taste."  The question was definitely a 'when' and not an 'if ' as we had all grown up in the suburbs.  Well, pretty much to a man the answer was twelve.  I had to answer ten, because that's how old I was when this shit was delivered.

I think that even maybe me in the advertisement.  The one with his head hung in shame and blindfolded so as not to see the offending furniture one more second.

You wanna know the worst part?  It was the most comfortable stuff I ever sat on.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's The Lady's Day

Fifty-one years ago today the world got a little quieter - and not in a good way - as the magnificent Billie Holiday returned to Fabulon.

I have a breathtaking short story by Francoise Sagan on her memories of Lady Day.  In it she describes her very first visit to America on a publicity junket for her book, "Bonjour Tristesse".  Apart from selling her book, her main objective of the visit was to find and hear Billie sing.  Well find her she did, and Holiday was so taken with her and her traveling companion, composer Michel Mange,  that they became inseparable for the next two weeks.  It was a rollicking good time.  Billie was healthy, in strong voice and charming.  The two french kids were entranced.

A few years later and back in Paris, Sagan read in the paper that Holiday was to perform at the Mars Club.  They had lost touch but she was very excited to see her friend again.  The end of the story describes that evening:

"It was Billie Holiday - and yet it wasn't.  She had grown thin; she had aged; and her arms bore the ever closer tracks of needles.  She no longer had that innate assurance, that physical equilibrium which had conferred on her such a marble-like serenity amid the storms and dizzy turbulence of her life.

We fell into each other's arms.  She began to laugh and I instantly recovered a sense of exaltation, that romantic childlike exultation I had known in a now-distant New York, a New York clothed in music and the night as some children are clothed only in blue or white.  I introduced my husband to her; he was rather disconcerted by her presence, which seemed both completely natural and at the same time quite exotic; and it was only then that I realized how many million light-years of difference there were between us, or rather, how many million years of darkness separated me from her, and how she had so wonderfully and with such friendliness been happy to wipe out that difference during the fortnight now long past.  A host of things had been put aside during our first meeting; the problem of race, of her courage, of her fight to the death against poverty, prejudice, lack of identity, against whites and non-whites; against alcohol, the wickedest of enemies, against Harlem, against New York; against the passions provoked by the color of a person's skin, and the almost equally violent passions that can be provoked by talent and success.  She had never allowed us to think of any of those things, neither Michel nor myself, though we might well have thought of them for ourselves.  We "sensitive" Europeans had been the uncaring barbarians on that occasion.  This idea brought tears to my eyes, and the rest of the night would not find them dry.

Billie Holiday was no longer accompanied by her husband but by two or three young people, Swedes or Americans, I don't remember now, who fussed about her, but, it seemed to me, were as alien to her fate as I was myself.  Full of admiration for her, but hopelessly ineffectual, they had organized nothing for the evening and there was not even, fantastically enough, anything resembling a microphone on the black piano she was already resting against, apparently unaware of the applause.  It was a fiasco.  People were on all fours trying to fix up an old mike that crackled terribly; someone ran off to La Villa d'Este or somewhere else to find another.  Everyone became bad tempered and worked up, to no avail, and after awhile, as if resigned to the chaos, she came and sat down at our table.

She drank distractedly and spoke to me occasionally; her voice husky, smoke-roughened and sarcastic; she remained indifferent to what was going on around us, though she was the center of it all.  She said very little to my friends, except to ask my first husband if he beat me, something - she declared ironically, and to my own detriment - that he ought to do.  My protestations made her laugh, and for a moment I recognized the echo of her laughter at Eddie Condon's; a time when we were all, it seemed, young and happy and gifted; a time when the microphone worked or rather - though I hardly dared admit it to myself - a time when she didn't need a microphone to sing.  In the end she sang a few songs - with or without a microphone, I don't remember anymore - accompanied rather hesitantly by a quartet that tried to follow the unpredictable vagaries of her voice, which itself had become a little uncertain.  My admiration was such - or was it the force of memory? - that I could not help but admire her, despite the awful, ridiculous shortcomings of this meager recital.  She sang with eyes lowered.  She would skip a verse and have difficulty catching her breath.  She clung to the piano as if to a ship's rail in stormy seas.  No doubt the rest of the audience had come in the same spirit as I had, for they applauded wildly, and she looked on them with a pity and irony that were in fact a harsh judgment upon herself.

After those few snatches of song, she came and sat with us for a moment.  She was in a hurry, a terrible hurry, because she was leaving the next day, I think for London, or somewhere else in Europe, she couldn't remember where exactly.  "Anyway darling," she said to me in English, "you know I am going to die very soon in New York, between two cops."  Of course I swore she was wrong.  I could not and did not want to believe her; all my adolescence, those years that were lulled and entranced by her voice, refused to believe her.  So my first reaction was total amazement when I opened a newspaper a few months later, and read that Billie Holiday had died the night before, alone, in a hospital, between two cops."

Thank you Lady.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Well Whaddaya Know?

What do these people have in common?*

Bobby Darin

Butterfly McQueen

George Macready

Spring Byington

Walter Pidgeon

* Mere moments after posting, that smart-as-a-whip Hilly Blue answered correctly:  All named above had their bodies donated to medical science!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pretty Don't Come Cheap!

Especially when you consider  that it would take $104 in today's currency for the same buying power.

I'm sure it was just a wash and set because, after all, that's her natural color.  Right?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Quiet Moment In Prayer...

"...Please bless my Mother, and My Sisters...
...Please help Vincent to keep it zipped up around the chauffeur...
...Please bless Mr. Edens and Mr. Freed...
...Please let Mr. Mayer like this picture...
...And please, God, don't let the guard at the main gate stop my dealer again...Amen."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Josephine Hutchinson - Stage Screen Television

Standing accused of great talent and versitility.

Josephine entered the world, and the world of greasepaint, in 1903 Seattle.  Born to actress Leona Roberts (best remembered as the wife of Dr. Meade in "Gone With The Wind") mama was able, through an old friendship with Doug Fairbanks, to wrangle a bit part for young Josephine in Mary Pickford's "The Little Princess"(1917).  It would be 17 years before the cameras rolled again, but Josephine was anything but idle.

Theatuh, Theatuh, Theatuh.

After constant study in movement, voice and the dance, Jo made her stage debut as a dancer at the city's Metropolitan Theatre in The Little Mermaid in 1920.  For two years she worked with the Rams Head Playhouse Company in Washington which was managed by a Robert Bell and in 1924 she and Bell were married. The following year she made her Broadway debut with an acclaimed performance in A Man's Man opposite Pat O'Brien.

Gladys Calthrop, designer for Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre, saw Hutchinson in the play and, when Le Gallienne fired Rose Hobart from the role of Irina in Three Sisters, Calthrop recommended Hutchinson. "She is beautiful, direct and possessed of emotional reserve," (Just like Mr. Peenee) wrote one critic of her performance. Le Gallienne's troupe presented low-price classics, and nurtured some of America's finest talent.  Hutchinson played in Ibsen, Chekhov and Shakespeare as well as an acclaimed Wendy opposite Le Gallienne's Peter Pan in 1928.

The Herald Tribune boasted: "Josephine Hutchinson gave to Wendy the right sense of budding motherliness that the part demanded."

By the end of the twenties, husband Robert Bell initiated divorce proceedings against Jo.  The co-respondant named in the case:  Eva Le Gallienne!  Years later Hutchinson would recall, "Le Gallienne was my teacher in both love and work." Jo had led a protected life until her marriage, usually in the company of her mother (who also joined Le Gallienne's troupe). "It's quite natural for actors to fall in love with the people they work with," she said, and she and Le Gallienne started an affair. "It was good and normal and healthy," she stated, "There was never any sense of shame connected with our relationship."

The following year Hutchinson won rave reviews for her performance as Alice in a delightful Le Gallienne production of Alice in Wonderland with Le Gallienne as the White Queen and Burgess Meredith as a duck on roller skates.

Miss Hutchinson, Hollywood Calling.

In 1934, her relationship with Le Gallienne faltering, Hutchinson asked agent Leland Hayward (whose associate, James F. Townsend, she married in 1935) if he could arrange a screen test for her. At Warners, she tested with the final scene from "A Doll's House" (her Nora had already been lauded on stage) and was signed to a lucrative contract, and the publicity machine went into overdrive.

Now it's time for the infinite wisdom of Jack Warner. 

Question:  What would be the perfect breakout picture for a girl who's spent years with a serious theater company doing the classics?  A girl you signed based on her screen test of  "A Doll's House"?

Answer:  Why, a Dick Powell musical, of course!

"Happiness Ahead"  1934  her worst first movie

Though there were a couple of projects that are still remembered today (The Story Of Louis Pasteur and Son Of Frankenstein) and other beautiful performances (Oil For The Lamps Of China and Mountain Justice) she was never given a real shot at stardom.

By 1941, in her late thirties, Hutchinson rightly suspected that she had reached a difficult in-between age;  a little long in the tooth for leading ladies and glamor pusses, not quite old enough for interesting character parts, so she arranged with Harry Cohn to be the Columbia Pictures in-house acting coach.  For the next five years she taught and helped to mold their entire roster of contractees.  This was an impressive list that included, Evelyn Keyes, Larry Parks, Bill Holden, Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Ann Savage, Ann Miller, Adele Jergens, etc.

That Little Box With The Light In It.

She seemed to really hit her stride when she jumped into the "I guess it's here to stay" medium of Television in 1955.  The theatrical anthology series of the 1950's and early 60's were perfect for her stage trained technique.  For the next twenty years she appeared  on everything from Rawhide, Perry Mason, Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke and Bonanza to Burkes Law, Dr. Kildare, Mannix, The Mod Squad and The Partridge Family.

After a string of appearances in successful features like North By Northwest and Baby The Rain Must Fall, her final feature film was Rabbit Run in 1970, and her last TV gig was Little House On The Prairie in 1974.  She enjoyed a 24 years of retirement and passed away in 1998.

It's funny you know, and maybe it's because it happened before she hit Hollywood, but the affair with Le Gallienne got big publicity, and with 72 listings on imdb it certainly doesn't seem to have hurt her career!

P.S.  A play by Margo McDonald called "Shadows" has debuted at the Ottowa Fringe Festival this year - it chronicles the Le Gallienne/Hutchinson affair.

Monday, July 5, 2010

BFF! Forever And Ever. The Birth Of Felix.


As you may be aware, my real name is Philip, not Felix.  Felix is a nickname that I was given about a dozen years ago.  More on that in a minute.

But first, there are a couple of things of which I'm certain:

1.  One is lucky to have one great love in their lifetime.  I haven't experienced this.

2.  One is blessed to have one great best friendship in their lifetime.  I'd like to introduce you to mine.

Actually, some of you are already going to know him.  Some of you may have grown up with him.  Some of you may have even sighed over pictures of him in Tiger Beat!

Chad Allen is a ridiculously talented Actor and Producer as well as a Political and Social Rights Activist.  He is also an intellectual, a marine biology student, a certified diver, a geek, (he still has his childhood collection of agate rocks and rock polisher) a relentless and kind mentor, a terrific boyfriend to an amazing boyfriend, the best maker of Italian red sauce I've ever tasted, and my best friend.

When we were first introduced, I certainly didn't see the material that would make a friendship to last a lifetime.  There were just too many differences.  I was 15 years older than him.  Starting to work at five years old, he never had a childhood, while I was given one that I never wanted.  I was all East Coast sensibilities and he was total California boy.  We had a long talk that day and many more in the days that followed and discovered, that actually there were far more similarities than differences.

We have seen each other through the very best and the very worst that life has served us.  There is an energy that is kicked up when we are in each others company that is apparently quite extraordinary.  A very wise man once said to me, "If you want truly amazing relationships, treat your lovers more like friends and your friends more like lovers."  Our friendship has put that theory into action.  It was with him that I first learned that a platonic friendship can have romance!

Like any worthwhile relationship we've had a few (actually, very few) fights that were doozies.
The one that I'll always remember above all others happened about 10 years ago.  We had met at an event one evening, arriving separately.  When we were leaving, we got into it over something, (of course I can't remember what it was about) and by the time we got to the parking lot we were at fever pitch;  yelling and screaming and saying the horrible things you will only say to those you love the most.  We reached my car first, exchanged our especially cruel and beautifully timed exit lines, and he stormed  off down the parking lot to his truck.  I hopped into my '86 Caddy, yanked it into drive, stomped on the gas and AIMED FOR HIM!!!  

The little fucker is fast, let me tell you.  It wasn't long afterward that we were cracking up about it and relating the story to friends.

Oh, yeah, about the whole Felix thing. So about 5-6 years before I met Chad, there was a hot minute where painted jeans were the rage.  A friend of mine was making and selling them and doing quite well.  One day he offered to do a pair for me.  I told him that I didn't know what I wanted on them and he said to leave it up to him, he'd come up with the perfect thing for my personality.

I wore 'em a couple of times, people thought they were kinda cool.  Shut up.  Every once in a blue moon, when I was feeling particularly ridiculous, I'd pull them out and wear them.  There was a blue moon one day about 6 weeks after I'd met Chad and I had them on.  This was during a period of his life when he felt it was his duty to give everyone he knew a nickname.  He saw me, his eyes went wide and he said, "FELIX, THAT'S A GREAT NAME FOR YOU! FELIX! THAT'S YOUR NAME!"  It was cute.   For about a day.  I asked him to stop.  Ever the rascally contrarian, (if there's ever something you want him to do - just ask him not to do it) he wouldn't.

I finally reached the point of 'when in Rome' and started calling him Felix right back.  So here we are now, Felix and Felix to each other.  And somehow I've become an unwitting collector of Felix-inalia.  And there's something else too, that I'm not quite sure how to put into words.  As time has passed, 'Felix' has come to embody an idea that I try to live up to.  It's the idea of my personhood that lives in Chad's mind; the me that he sees.  And 'Felix' is much wiser, finer, stronger, kinder and calmer than I ever thought Philip could be.

Today is a very special day in his life and I wanted to go on a little shopping blackout at Tiffany's for him (which is about half of what he deserves) but since that wasn't feasible, I'll just say, "Felix, my Felix, I love you and who, really, would I be without you."
                          Felix...                                                                       ...and Me                            

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Can't Be Duplicated.


No one loves Hollywood more than me, but on this one day of the year, I happily defer to my home city of Washington DC.  Once you've had the experience of sitting on the Capital steps with the National Symphony Orchestra playing music that the fireworks exploding over the Washington Monument have be choreographed to, you know that there are just some things even Hollywood can't top.

I'll be staying in this evening.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

So They Say...

Born On This Day...

"Don't despair, even over the fact that you don't despair."

 Franz Kafka, Author, Existentialist

"Tallulah Bankhead barged down the Nile last night - and sank"

John Mason Brown, Theater Critic, Author