My Latest Book

My Latest Book
By Jim Manago, Biographer (Shirley Booth, Huntz Hall, and Kay Aldridge)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

From My Old Shirley Booth Blog

On Clayton Moore:

Clayton Moore was born on September 14, 1914 (died December 28, 1999). He was best known for portraying The Lone Ranger on film and television.

*****
I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Clayton Moore in person back in 1979 at The Biltmore Hotel in New York City. The late Paul Saryian ran a yearly convention - and that year he brought us The Lone Ranger. 

Clayton had been making news since he was barred from wearing his mask because of the new feature film that was in the works. That film starred Klinton Spilsbury portraying the masked man. The film was a disaster and it deservedly flopped. 

Clayton talked about the fact that he would fight in court to get his right to wear the mask again. Yes, he fought and won as he said he would!

He was a gracious man so happy to be surrounded by his loving fans - both young and old. He shook hands, did some rope tricks, talked about the days lunching with George Trendle (and later with Jack Wrather) and so on. The last day of his 3 days at that nostalgia convention provided a special surprise. We all got to sing "Happy Birthday" to him at a surprise party. Before leaving the convention, he gave out a single trademark - a silver bullet.

Fortunately, I had brought along my new Super 8 Sound camera. I managed to change film cartridges four or five times to film a total of 10 minutes of his conversation to his fans, singing happy birthday, and so on. I treasure that moment captured on film. Someday I hope to share that video with his many fans.

Clayton brought such a wonderful energy to those 1950's Lone Ranger shows. I enjoyed watching the reruns in the 1970's. What stayed with me more than anything is how this character always treated the Native Americans and women fairly and respectfully. He did not need to flaunt his toughness, or swagger a macho bravado as 

John Wayne and so many other actors. Clayton satisfied audiences by being the real thing - and living the way he believed the character lived. 

Clayton Moore is indeed gone - but he never will be forgotten as long as we can watch his films and television programs. Besides his Lone Ranger films and TV shows, we have his appearances in a number of serials (The Crimson GhostPerils of Nyoka, and so on). 

Indeed I am happy to have met one of my childhood heroes in the flesh during those two precious days of my life. I have the memory of thanking Clayton Moore for the countless pleasures and inspiration that his portrayal brought to my life. Indeed Clayton Moore was an extraordinary person, and I just wish he was still living today!

*****


On THE LONE RANGER Flop:

When I first heard about Disney's $225 million dollar production of The Lone Ranger, I thought what a stupid waste of money! Anyone that knows that character will agree with me that there was only one Lone Ranger - that's the very competent actor Clayton Moore.  His rendition will never be topped. I AM NOT SURPRISED ONE BIT that the film is not expected to ever recover such a ridiculous sum of money!

Those original television shows are superb in every way. They speak for fair and equal treatment of women and Native Americans. Despite some recent efforts to denigrate the Jay Silverheels rendition of Tonto, the latter was not a mere sidekick. He was a true partner to his friend, The Lone Ranger. 

Though Clayton Moore is now gone, I am proud to have had the distinct pleasure of meeting him back when they tried to stop him from wearing his mask. That was when they were preparing another movie flop, The Legend of the Lone Ranger
Now will Disney and all the other media giants learn anything? I wish I was wrong here, but I doubt it! At the very least, please if they would stop trying to cash in on a previous generation's creative achievements. Stop trying to rework past achievements, and spend a little money on developing some new stories! 
*****
I treasure several minutes from Clayton Moore's appearance at Paul Saryian's New York Nostalgia Convention (1979).

I have Super 8mm sound footage I transferred to VHS from this event in 1979. Moore spoke those immortal words of the Lone Ranger creed, discussed the fact that Jack Wrather disappointed and hurt him when he met him to tell him we don't want you making appearances anymore since the part was going to a younger actor for the new movie that was being made. He discussed the court case which forced him to wear the sunglasses instead of his mask. He did some rope tricks, and talked about leaving a silver bullet with someone wherever he made a personal appearance. it concludes when everyone gathered sang "Happy Birthday, Lone Ranger". It runs about 10 minutes. 

Without a doubt Clayton Moore was a powerful and inspiring individual. I wish the young people of today could have that type of role model to look to. I know he enriched my life immensely and I could never forget that Convention when I met and shook hands with my childhood hero.

If A Time Machine Is Ever Invented . . .

You can take me back to see Shirley Booth onstage in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN!

Probably the best Broadway show CD that's in my collection is the one for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.


The Arthur Schwartz-Dorothy Fields score is absolutely SUPERB!

You'll find a quite wonderfully talented group of people - an ensemble effort of Shirley Booth, Marcia Van Dyke, Johnny Johnston, and Nathaniel Frey. It's definitely a show that should be revived. Unfortunately, it never got a film treatment as a MUSICAL!


There's Shirley Booth as Aunt Cissy singing the amusing "Love is the Reason," with her friends interweaving comments and repeating her lines. "Cissy singing in a cracked lisp is a joy," noted William Hawkins from New York World-Telegram.


There's the Shirley Booth solo "He Had Refinement," in which she's oblivious to the true nature of her first "Harry," since she mistakenly sees everything about him as having refinement.


I particularly like Marcia Van Dyke (1924-2002) as Katie Nolan, singing a very bouncy song called "Look Who's Dancing." Shirley also adds her singing to this number. There's a sweet number called "Make The Man Love Me," sung by Marcia Van Dyke. Although she was an asset to this show, Marcia pursued her true love - becoming a very successful violinist. Her other notable appearance occurred in the 1949 Judy Garland film In the Good Old Summertime. I wish Marcia did more stage or movie work after this musical.


The Broadway musical production of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn would be a particularly good show I'd select to see if a time machine is ever invented - especially with Dorothy Fields' amusing and genuinely good lyrics. I find most of the numbers to be stand-out and memorable. Another of my favorites "Don't Be Afraid," sung by Johnny Johnston, says much about fear quite well.


It would have been nice if a film version of this musical had been made with Shirley Booth reprising her stage role. Why it was not adapted by Hollywood may have had to do with the fact that the show ran for less than a year. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - The Musical, did not seem like a good risk to those that could have transferred it to the screen at that time. Who knows? But the music is worth revisiting often!

CORRECTIONS TO MY FIRST SHIRLEY BOOTH BIOGRAPHY:

Despite all efforts to provide only accurate information revisions are sometimes inevitable.  The changes to Love is the Reason for it All: The Shirley Booth Story are:

The name of Shirley's maid is Eleanor Muto (not Mutose).

Page 11: WNEW Channel 5 is the New York channel that ran reruns of Hazel (not WPIX Channel 11).

Some of the recorded dates of Shirley’s early stock theatre work are based on her repeated claims made over the years in interviews. Actual theatrical records have been located which indicate that many of those appearances were actually later in the late teens of the 20th century. 

Although she was her sister’s secretary and assistant, Jean Ford Coe did not know that Shirley’s birth name was “Marjory.” Jean knew her sister simply as “Thelma” or “Shirley.” Shirley never indicated that “Marjory” was the name on her birth certificate. 

Apparently, Shirley’s father liked his own mother’s name of “Thelma,” and so he used that name instead of "Marjory."

Page 58: The date of Shirley’s second marriage is not mentioned (September 24, 1943).

Page 58: The second line from page bottom should read “walls, yellow bedspread,” (not “walls, yet low bedspread.”)

Page 66: The character's name is “Taffy,” not “Cathy.”

Page 70: Shirley's appearance on The Fred Allen Show is June 19, 1949 (not June 9, 1949).

Page 70: Shirley did not appear in a widely credited take-off of her Broadway musical Hollywood Pinafore, (The Fred Allen Show, “Brooklyn Pinafore, November 25, 1945). A copy of the show surfaced recently to confirm that Minerva Pious played the part attributed to Shirley.

Page 247: Claire Adams should be listed for Shirley’s Broadway Stage credits.

Page 250: The date for Shirley's first Emmy Award for Hazel is not listed - the 14th Annual Emmy Awards took place on May 22, 1962.

Page 252: The audio program This American Life, "Teen Getaway" does not have Shirley Booth's voice.

Page 255: Add Adventures of the Thin Man, June 6, 1944 to Radio credits.

Page 259: Shirley is not heard in Theatre Guild on the Air broadcast of “Hamlet,” either for incorrect date of April 21, 1949 or actual show from March 1951.

Ingrid Bergman - Born 101 Years Ago

Actress Ingrid Bergman was born and died on the same day as her birthday (August 29, 1915 – August 29, 1982)

Bergman offered us so many memorable films, including Gaslight (1944) - for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress, Spellbound (1945), The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), Notorious (1946), Joan of Arc (1948), Stromboli (1950), Anastasia (1956), Autumn Sonata (1978) and so on.

A couple of years back I got to see her in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Saratoga Trunk (1945), and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958). Clearly Ingrid Bergman has the ability to charm you. She simply shines time and again - undoubtedly she is among the best actresses of all time.

I remember her television appearance at the AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards wherein she briefly recreated the scene with piano player Sam from Casablanca. Unfortunately she succumbed to cancer at the age of 67. The television production A Woman Called Golda concluded her acting career. 

As with Rosalind Russell, Barbara Stanwyck, and several other luminaries, I would have loved to meet her. Nonetheless, Ingrid Bergman will always be with us in spirit through her many productions.

As a tribute to her, I1 selected one of my favorite films that she starred in. I found in my archives, my defense of Spellbound (1945), published forty years after the film was made in 1985. What I said then holds true today, now sixty-seven years later since the film's premiere.

The following article originally appeared in Classic Images, No. 112 (April 1985). Spellbound has been denigrated as not being a "true" Hitchcock film when comparing it to the typical Hitchcock scenario. Nevertheless, I liked it enough to write this. The extraordinary Ingrid Bergman shines in this complex plot involving psychoanalytic theory. 

A response (2 issues later) from one of the paper's readers follows.

In Defense Of Hitchcock's Spellbound by Jim Manago

Spellbound has been downgraded for many reasons. Some anti-Hitchcockians (those critical of Hitch) will say the director's shift to a film about psychoanalysis, which seems so un-Hitchcockian on the basis of previous films proves he is less of an artist for it shows the lack of a unified philosophy. 

Also, the presence of audience manipulation via the larger-than-life trick gun shows this wise showmanship ability of maintaining his audience's attention - which a true artist would not be concerned with. I believe these are unfair charges. 

Those critics that revere Hitchcock but exclude Spellbound as one of his triumphs usually charge the film with oversimplifying psychoanalysis. This and the pedagogic/didactic quality of the dialogue are what I consider the only fair accusations of any real substance. Yet I believe these accusations could be disregarded given Hitchcock's beautiful direction and careful development of the narrative via well-chosen visual effects. 

Grossing around 8 million dollars by 1949, with only a one-and-half million dollar cost, Spellbound was a huge commercial triumph for Hitchcock. Yet he underestimated the film by calling it "just another manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis." He added surprisingly, "The whole thing's too complicated, and I found the explanation toward the end very confusing." To the contrary, I perceive the film as very logical and understandable. Unfortunately though for psychoanalysts, Spellbound tends to reduce psychoanalysis to simply detective work.

As the second of three films Hitchcock did for David O. Selznick (besides Rebecca and The Paradine CaseSpellbound bears no resemblance to it's inspiration, Francis Beeding's novel "The House of Dr. Edwardes." However, the novel did suggest the setting in a psychiatric hospital and the notion of the hospital director being mad. Ben Hecht wrote the screenplay because, as Hitchcock put it, he was "keen on psychoanalysis." Surrealist artist Salvador Dali was chosen to give the famous dream sequence what Hitchcock felt real dreams involve, namely the quality of "architectural sharpness," though have said Dali was invited to assist only for publicity reasons. Hitchcock had to compromise on the filming of the dream sequence: he preferred doing it outdoors for the added sharpness but Selznick objected to this on the grounds of the added expense such a practice would incur.

Spellbound is basically a study of the process involved in solving the amnesiac's (Gregory Peck) guilt complex which cause him to assume the identity of a murdered Dr. Edwardes, the new hospital director. The ski trip Dr. Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) takes the amnesiac on helps to evoke a catharsis that reveals the origin of the guilt complex. The amnesiac assumed the role of Dr. Edwardes because witnessing the death at a ski resort (where there is snow and parallel lines created by the skis) reminded him of the accidental death of his brother in his childhood (caused by Peck's sliding him into a spiked fence). The previous guilt complex re-emerged and caused the amnesia when the Edwardes' murder occurred. Later Dr. Petersen is able to piece together the meaning of the amnesiac's dream, thus discovering who murdered Dr. Edwardes with the help of a Freudian slip by Dr. Murchison. 

Undoubtedly this may sound confusing or undramatic when explained. Nonetheless, Spellbound is an engaging film to me despite what any critic has said.

Dr. Petersen is a woman of reason who becomes more emotionally mature when she stops repressing [her true self] with academic manners and attitudes. Her abnormal and almost absurd concern or belief in the innocence of the amnesiac when the latter believes he's guilty shows her new-found willingness to open up in her personality other avenues of knowledge. Reason is balanced by feeling.

Michael Chekhov as the old doctor, who is friend and previous instructor of Dr. Petersen, gives a marvelous performance full of humorous moments based on his somewhat eccentric behavior. He plays out perfectly the old adage that 'genius borders on insanity.' Ingrid Bergman's acting presence in Spellbound needs no explanation - she's inimitable. Gregory Peck most effectively portrays the bewilderment and fear of an amnesiac. Though not as sympathetic as other 'Hitchcock villains' Leo G. Carroll as Dr. Murchison gives us no real hint of his criminality.

Hitchcock was a master at integrating those visual tricks, techniques, or pieces of business (whatever you might call them) into the narrative which one will remember long after the film. Some of these effects include: the gun fired at the audience with a flash of color, the kissing scene between Bergman and Peck where doors are shown opening indicating the opening-up of Bergman's cold academic personality to the warm feelings of love, the recurring sharp radiant objects (a letter opener, razor, spiked fence, scissors in the dream sequence), the surrealistic dream sequence, the parallel lines motif in it's many manifestations (fork trails in a tablecloth, lines in a robe, train tracks, bedspread with lines, sled tracks, etc.) the color white motif in it's many manifestations (snow, light, a sink, chair, shaving soap, etc.), the camera's emphasis on the eyeglasses which when removed by Dr. Petersen indicates her experience of removing that cold intellectual facade to reveal another creature more human underneath.

Such 'Hitchcock touches' are not devices existing for their own sake like those anti-Hitchcockian critics contend. Instead these visual effects form the narrative and Hitchcock's unique perception of the way narrative must be advanced visually. They do not serve the function of being excess baggage, but are integral cinematic features of Spellbound

Two other aspects of Spellbound that I particularly enjoyed are the music and the likening of psychiatric work to detective work. For a change, the score is not obtrusive or cloying as in earlier Hitchcock films. The composer, Miklos Rozsa, won an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture. The theremin, an oscillating instrument, was effectively played every time Peck experienced the psychotic state of confusion and anxiety. As for the overlapping of psychiatric and detective work: the house detective for the Empire State Hotel acts like a psychologist (and even admits his work requires it), Dr. Petersen acts like a detective in piecing together the various clues of the Dr. Edwardes' mystery.

Film scholar Andrew Sarris has recognized the problem with Hitchcock criticism, and his remark seems particularly applicable to Hitchcock's film Spellbound: "Certainly Hitchcock's reputation has suffered from the fact that he has given audiences more pleasure than is permissible for serious cinema. No one who is so entertaining could possibly seem profound to the intellectual puritans." Although some watching Spellbound may be disappointed for the fact that it's a less typical Hitchcock film. But consider its merit of being one the first American films to acquaint us with psychoanalysis besides serving as proof of Hitchcock's versatility.

NOTE: This article is an excerpt from the author's film notes to Spellbound, previously published for The St. John's Picture Show, St. John's University, Jamaica, NY (February, 1984).
*****
In response to my defense, there was an interesting letter from a reader two issues later (Classic Images, No. 120, June 1985). Here's that letter published originally in the "from the mailbag" column:

Spellbinding Ingrid

Jim Manago's "In Defense of Hitchcock's Spellbound" in the April 1985 Classic Images is the best analysis ever written of that engrossing film. His observations are astute, but not pedantic, which is a common fault that the critics of today exhibit frequently. His interpretation of the opening doors, which were enhanced immeasurably by Rozsa's romantic music and the meaning behind Ingrid's removing her eyeglasses, ring true. One might say that only when she took them off was she able to actually see.

Mr. Manago states that one aspect that he enjoyed was the likening of psychiatric and detective work. There is the strategic clue to appreciating this film. Ingrid Bergman portrays Mrs. Holmes, not Dr. Peterson.

She has to resolve two quandaries. First, what made Peck ill? The solution is brilliantly realized by Hitch and Ingrid in the scene when she glances questioningly out the window at the falling snow and murmurs knowingly: "Snow...snow." The look of discovery on Bergman's face is exquisite emoting. The other dilemma for her to probe is how to find the killer of Dr. Edwardes. She is assisted by a slip of the tongue. It is the scene immediately after this that is so compelling, depicting Ms. Bergman in her room alone as she incessantly hears the tell-tale words: "I only met him once."

Other fine moments linger in the mind, such as Bergman's artful acting in the final confrontation with her adversary when she accuses him of the crime. Yet the highlight occurs when Ingrid and Peck frolic during the country stroll. They reach a hilltop, and she says breathlessly: "Oh, isn't this lovely?" Peck, with his eyes fastened on her lustrous face replies: "Perfect!"

Then Peck asks her if she wants a ham or liverwurst sandwich. Ingrid, overwhelmed by the far-reaching prospect, sums up in one word as she inimitably could (remember her saying, "Delicieuse!" in Saratoga Trunk), how she feels about the incredible view, by declaring ecstatically: "Liverwurst!"
John J. Croft

Elizabeth Wilson (April 4, 1921 – May 9, 2015)

Elizabeth Wilson gave my first book high praises and a definite thumbs-up for a compelling story about her dear friend Shirley Booth!  She had been close friends with Shirley during the Broadway production of The Desk Set until a rift severed the ties. The story is intriguing and found in my book Love is the Reason for It All: The Shirley Booth Story.


"Liz Wilson," as she referred to herself whenever she called me, offered some really valuable help in understanding the late Shirley Booth. In fact, I am indebted to Liz for the wonderful conversations we shared back from 2007 to 2009. It was especially nice to have such a successful actress find time in her busy schedule to call me frequently to check on how the manuscript was coming along, and offering answers to the many questions I had.

Of course, Shirley Booth worked with Liz during the 1955-56 Broadway season in The Desk Set. She also appeared in a 1961 live television production of N. Richard Nash's "Welcome Home." 

Here's one of her letters, this one she sent after my first book on Shirley Booth was published:

"November 13, 2009

Dear Jim and Donna,

Thank you, thank you for sending me the Shirley Booth book. I can't wait to read it, and will call you when I do. I am feeling better - (things are moving along). And I thank you for asking.

Warmly (and we'll talk soon),

Liz" 
*****

On "Welcome Home"

Shirley Booth appeared in a live television production of The United States Steel Hour, called "Welcome Home." The production aired on March 22nd, 1961. The first Hazel episode aired in September of that year.

I did have the pleasure of viewing "Welcome Home" at the Research Library of The Paley Center in New York City several years back.  Hopefully, it will become available on DVD someday.

A brief and incomplete synopsis is as follows: Housekeeper Jenny is being terminated from her position after serving a family for thirty-five years. She applied to adopt a girl named Amelia. Upon the arrival of Mrs. Watson (Elizabeth Wilson) from "The Welcome Home for Foundling Children," the truth of the false application comes out since the orphanage does not allow single people to adopt.

She manages a dramatic tour de force and the story turns from melancholic to upbeat by the finale. I enjoyed Shirley in this role which foreshadowed Hazel somewhat. The difference is that here the housekeeper was portrayed in a more dramatic and sullen fashion, reminiscent of Come Back, Little Sheba.

I wish this show was available for the general public to see. It shows the depth to Shirley's talent, and how minute movements and subtle things brings a reality and credibility to the characters she plays.

Unfortunately, when I asked her about her part in this TV drama, Liz Wilson could not recall anything about this particular appearance with Shirley. Perhaps she had forgotten it because it was for a one-hour show done live one time only.

Of course, you will recall Liz Wilson in many movies. Recently she played FDR's mother in Hyde Park on Hudson. She played the waitress Helen in the diner scene of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Do you remember the woman (with Tippi Hedren and others) who yells to a man not to lite his cigar? Well, that's her! She also played Benjamin's mother in The Graduate (Benjamin, of course, was played by Dustin Hoffman). She was Roz in the Dolly Parton movie Nine to Five, and so on. She also worked on Broadway where she received awards including a Tony for Sticks and Bones.
Liz, I will always cherish those phone calls, 
& I will never forget your spirit!

*****

Rosalind Russell (June 4, 1907 – November 28, 1976)

I just loved Rosalind in so many films, especially her best known film Auntie Mame, but my favorite has to be (and this may be surprising to some readers - but hold your breath) - it's when she played Reverend Mother in The Trouble With Angels (1966), and Where Angels Go Trouble Follows (1968).

I remember watching The Trouble With Angels many times (first in the theatre as a youngster), and I wondered about the picturesque castle settings. I learned that the exteriors were shot in Ambler, Pennsylvania at what is St. Mary's Villa, a home for troubled children. It was once known as Lindenwold Castle www.dupontcastle.com/castles/lindenwo.htm and was built by the executive of the company (Dr. Mattison) known for manufacturing asbestos (Keasbey and Mattison Company). This amazing picturesque setting overlooked his company factory. 

The story of The Trouble With Angels is adapted from the book by Jane Trahey called Life with Mother Superior. Trahey based her book on the real-life experiences she had while attending a Catholic school in the 1930's. It's a fun story about the chaos that occurs when teenage girls and nuns mix. There's obviously minor changes, though I think the film improves on the original story. The book tells the story from Jane's point of view (in the film this is the character played by June Harding - namely, Rachel Devery).

Rosalind Russell superbly mastered the part of Reverend Mother. I just love her way of making it so believable and genuine by her look and voice. Her knowing glances, her compassion, her frustration are all so real and palpable. This is a testament to her great acting skill. Russell exhibits all the traits and emotions that go with the Catholic nuns of memory. She can be firm and bossy, but have a heart of gold and emotional vulnerability. 

Almost everyone in the supporting cast does a good job with the understandable limitations imposed by the stock parts, particularly Marge Redmond as Sister Liguori (Reverend Mother's assistant and confidante), Mary Wickes as Sister Clarissa, Camilla Sparv as Sister Constance, and so on. Gypsy Rose Lee even makes an appearance here, playing dance instructor Mrs. Mabel Dowling Phipps. 

Although the film has been criticized as episodic, this is apparently done purposefully, as in the original story. That is, both Reverend Mother and the misbehaving adolescents Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills) and Rachel Devery (June Harding's first film) must come to terms. There's some real growing up to do in this coming-of-age story, so various showdowns allow a maturing and a true understanding to be achieved by all three characters. 

The episodes of misbehavior all have a basic repetitive pattern of wrongdoing, getting caught, and suffering the consequences. Thanks to both Mills and Harding for giving it their all to make the story work - but I think Russell must be given most of the credit as far as making the story most believable. 

In the story Mary wants attention and acceptance. She apparently admires Reverend Mother's strength and kindness. Oftentimes Mary's means of getting what she wants is by acting out "a most scathingly brilliant idea." Reverend Mother likewise sees the strong-willed characteristics of herself in Mary, and so acknowledges how the Church was tolerant of her own such temperament. Both Mary and Reverend Mother are inextricably linked and drawn to each other. It's seeing how it's worked out that makes this film most interesting. 

There's a few very brief, though beautiful, reflective moments in The Trouble With Angels wherein the action slows or almost pauses. Reverend Mother and Mary look at each other with a sense that they want to influence and be in the other's thoughts. Those such moments make nice scene transitions. In the hands of another director, perhaps a male director, those moments would have been replaced with dialogue and/or more action. The film benefits most from these wonderful pauses wisely incorporated by the television screenwriter Blanche Hanalis (famed for developing the TV series Little House on the Prairie). The superb screenplay is under the fitting direction of Ida Lupino. 

The Trouble With Angels offers some laughs as well as serious moments. The comedy is quite light but amusing nonetheless. One memorable scene is when Sister Rose Marie (Dolores Sutton) is put in charge of taking the girls to do some undergarment shopping, she's distressed. It's funny because she's uncomfortable naming the item she will be buying. She says to Reverend Mother. "I have no experience with binders." Reverend Mother unabashedly responds by saying: "It's brassieres Sister, brassieres!" The scene in the store continues the hilarity. There are other such moments sprinkled throughout the film. 

The somber moments include when one of the dear nuns dies, and with a crying senior citizen at a Christmas party. 

I give much credit to Ida Lupino for even pursuing a career as a director in a very sexist Hollywood field of endeavor, especially back in the 1940's to 1960's. The industry (including critics) would find any reason to degrade a "woman director." I think if a man directed this film, the critics would probably call it "brilliant." But Lupino suffered the secondary status accorded her as a result of working in a male-dominated film industry. In just trying to be a good director I think she did make strides. 

The story material allowed Lupino to work the original story, injecting a favorable women's point of view. The men are highly insignificant and given a somewhat limited influence as far as the narrative goes - they are mostly "the Outsiders" in the story and credits.

Of course, I will not spoil the ending here, but I will say that it's not so surprising, as it is strangely satisfying. Overall, the production (from opening cartoon credits to the finale) is quite admirable and worthwhile viewing, including Jerry Goldsmith's playful score. Certainly it can be faulted - but if anything, Rosalind Russell definitely shines. She is quite convincing and likable as a nun. I would suggest that The Trouble With Angels is a good movie to watch on a rainy afternoon. 

From her autobiography Life is a Banquet (by Rosalind Russell & Chris Chase, Random House, 1977), Russell observed: Hayley Mills ". . . was a demon. She used to stick out her tongue whenever I passed (she couldn't stand me) and she was bursting at the seams with repressed sexuality." I would love to hear what Hayley has to say about that comment... 

I came across the video of Frank Sinatra announcing Rosalind Russell when she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1972 at the Oscars. Russell got involved in this work early on in her career. She did so much...there's her work with the Jewish Home for the Aged, she founded the League for Crippled Children for the Orthopedic Hospital in Los Angeles, fundraiser for her friend Sister Kenny, chaired the Lighthouse for the Blind, got involved with the National Arthritis Foundation, Catholic Charities in New York, Children's Services in Connecticut, Tornado Victims in Kansas, Motion Picture & Television Relief Fund, and was one of the founders of USO in Los Angeles, and so on... 

But I believe her acceptance speech tells you much about the humility of Rosalind Russell . . . it's worth repeating: 

Russell said: "Someone out there would think I was kind of special...far from it. . . You know the people of this nation have a golden tradition of taking care of each other, and across America right now, there are men & women, countless numbers of them - young and old - who are giving of themselves to hospitals, to orphanages, to drug clinics, to youth, and even possibly watching a little child take her first steps after being crippled as I have watched." 

She continued: "So the only unique thing about me tonight is that I am here with this, knowing that it belongs to so many others. I would also like to tell you that I have been the victim of this kindness, and want to thank each and every one of them, and all the letters that were sent to me over the years for all they did for me when I was not quite well. Thank you very much!"

June Harding, one of the rebellious teens in The Trouble with Angels, lives in Maine and has created some beautiful paintings. I printed her note below in What People Have Said About This Blog.

***** 

Shirley Booth in radio program,"The Gals They Left Behind"

In regard to my discussion below of "The Gals They Left Behind,"' (Cavalcade of America: 08.14.44), the finale has an emotionally pent-up Shirley Booth as character Jo speaking her love letter to her Bill who is away at war.

Interestingly, few know that reality crossed over here as the real Shirley Booth was expressing her own love for her husband Bill Baker who was off to war in France fighting the Nazis! It is so full of real emotion that it goes beyond acting.

Check Shirley's delivery for about a minute from 25:30. Go To: http://ia700509.us.archive.org/16/items/OTRR_Cavalcade_of_America_Singles/CALV_440814_396_The_Gals_They_Left_Behind.mp3

Listen to this wonderful actress close the show with: 

"So my Bill, here we'll stay. And we'll keep poking at the fire, and hoeing the garden and writing letters, common ordinary stuff. It's nothing to shout about. But when the bells ring, all the whistles blow, and your ship comes steaming up the harbor. Soon my darling, it will be Soon! We'll be there in a gay and handsome bonnet. Our arms wide open. And then I'll, I'll take you back to Hosstrough for a swing in the hammock. And I'll feed you a bowl of raspberries yellow with Rosie's golden cream. And you'll think what a lucky girl I've been all along. And oh darling, you'll be right. I love you Bill, Jo."

For my tribute to Shirley Booth's real marriage to Bill, see my book For Bill, His Pinup Girl: The Shirley Booth & Bill Baker Story.


*****

"The Gals They Left Behind," August 14, 1944

Before Hazel, Shirley Booth was heard on numerous radio shows. Seventy years ago today, back in 1944, Shirley was in a program based upon a topical book, "The Gals They Left Behind." The publisher was Ives Washburn, Inc. The story has apparently not been renewed for copyright protection so it appears up on The Internet Archive for free viewing or download. 

The original story is by Margaret Shea with illustrations by Bek Files, and it runs around 130 pages. The entire book is written in a diary fashion and makes for an easy read. The book was released at the same time as the radio show production. The two main characters express their day-to-day experiences in letters to their men fighting overseas in World War II. It's a quite intriguing little gem of a play, which I recommend reading.

The story tells of the struggles of two soldiers' wives, Jo Sullivan and Taffy Smith, who move from New York City to a Maine farmhouse inherited from Aunt Het. Along with the young Daphne (named Eloise in the radio version), these two lonely women learn how to cope with raising chickens, how to milk a cow, grow vegetables, among the myriad of skills that farm life entails. 

The radio show developed from this story reworks the material and uses the information conveyed in the letters to tell the narrative and occasionally relies on the story's letter device ("Dear Bill").

In the radio production, Shirley Booth plays Jo Sullivan, and co-star Helen Clare plays Taffy Smith. Shirley's Jo tellingly says how she's quite lonely for her husband Corporal Bill. So too, Taffy is hysterically missing her Hank. If you listen to this radio adaptation (which is unfortunately a small portion of the story), then you will hear Shirley Booth's fine performance in conveying this character. I read the book and I can say that Shirley literally brings Jo Sullivan to life. She beautifully conveys the heart-felt tears of character Jo by the timbre and crack of her voice at the conclusion of the radio show. The wonderful sincerity and conviction is revealed throughout by Shirley's distinct voice in this radio production.

The story is simply about the Home Front during World War II. As the radio announcer summarized the story about two soldiers' wives: "It might well be called an army of occupation. They are truly occupied . . . with waiting, working, praying for their sons and husbands." 

The calm and efficient New Englander Jo Sullivan seems to always be the stronger one in this harsh setting. Jo (Booth) seems to lean more towards a masculine gender expression in her ability and desire to do the tedious tasks of the farm and stand firm like a man. Finicky and fussy Taffy Smith is from the South and is clearly more expressing a feminine gender and stereotypically prone to emotional breakdowns.
When the Jo and Taffy spend their first night in the lumpy mattress, there's a precious moment in which a genuine attempt at some sort of closeness or bonding occurs. Taffy (played well by Helen Clare) says quite sweetly and child-like in her loneliness: "Jo, Jo, would you, would you mind if we held hands, I know it sounds childish?"

Apparently the women read books on the subject before arriving. They take on the task of watching several children besides caring for the animals. But the local farmer calls some of their successes just "plain luck."
The harsh 30 and 40-degree below zero cold takes its toll on them, particularly on Taffy. There's the cows staying in the parlor, hens under Taffy's bed, frozen well water, etc. On the verge of a complete breakdown Taffy at one point wants to leave this rugged farm world and head back to Atlanta, Georgia. The gals' luck in seeing this thing through has run out. Taffy says she's very sick of this. Jo calls it a "bad case of cracked morale. But it's not a fatal disease . . ."
"You like to see people miserable," says Taffy. 

Jo's January 16th letter to Bill explains her understanding of the complaining, scared, and stressed-out Taffy:

"The world is full of Taffys, the ones who won't pay the asking price, the ones who want a band playing while they work. The novelty is gone from kerosene lamps. The novelty of playing the heroine has departed. Let her go. To the magnolia blossoms and her mother's bosom. A new world toughened by hardship and sorrow is coming up that will have no place for hothouse plants like her. I'm all alone now. The kids are asleep. The hens too. Glum has the cow and calf, but I'll get them back when it warms up. Outside may be treacherous or friendly by morning. I don't care, for I'm here to stay.
Yours, fairly forlorn,
Jo"

Though the book covers a year on the farm starting and ending in April, the radio show wraps things up at this point (from the January 16th letter) with plans of painting the farmhouse in the spring...

"The Gals They Left Behind" is truly a fine salute to those lonely women who manage to survive their men's absence during the truly horrible wartime of 1944. It captures the essence of their troubled existence quite well! 

My only regret is that Shirley Booth did not perform the entire story, but did just this truncated version of 30 minutes length on radio. Nevertheless. "The Gals They Left Behind" certainly deserves a listen by all those who love Shirley Booth.  For Shirley Booth at her radio best (Cavalcade of America08/14/44, episode #396), go to the Internet Archive: 
http://ia700509.us.archive.org/16/items/OTRR_Cavalcade_of_America_Singles/CALV_440814_396_The_Gals_They_Left_Behind.mp3

Shirley Booth made a total of four appearances on The Cavalcade of America radio show. There's "Check Your Heart at Home," broadcast on December 13, 1943, "The Woman on Lime Rock," broadcast on January 6, 1947 (with Les Tremayne), and "The Man Who Took the Freedom Train," from April 1 2, 1948 (with Eddie Albert).

Shirley Booth Lonesome for Hubby Bill

Shirley Booth Lonesome for Hubby Bill
Gazes at Photo of Bill's Cat 'China' circa 1943. Photo Courtesy Catherine Campaigne.

Some of My Favorite Films:

I am in the process of updating this list of some of my favorite classic films from the thousands I have seen over the years. Some films that appeared here have been removed after reconsidering their merits.

Ace in the Hole
Billy Wilder's tale targets the greed of newspaper reporters and the media that sometimes “create” the circuses around stories.


The African Queen
The unlikeliest couple of Bogart and Hepburn meet in this offbeat but very enjoyable tale.

And Soon the Darkness
This well-made thriller is set in the beautiful French countryside with two young girls bicycling. However, the story quickly manages to chillingly show the darkness, menace, and treachery that could come to anyone in the broad-daylight. Indeed, no one can be trusted.

Angels With Dirty Faces
James Cagney is at his best here with great support from Pat O'Brien and the Dead End Kids. The story flows so smoothly and it ends in an unforgettable manner - still gives me chills every time I see it. If I had time to watch only one Cagney film I'd choose this brilliant classic! 

The Birds
This is Alfred Hitchcock’s mesmerizing tale of seeming Armageddon.

The Black Cat
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite 
This 1934 classic, directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and starring Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi, is still disturbing 80 years after it was made. The fluid camerawork and lighting contribute much and make this a top notch tale.

The Bride of Frankenstein
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite  

This film resonates beauty with its flawless art direction, cinematography, lighting, acting, script and musical score as well as the whole inversion of Christian iconography. In effect, the Frankenstein Monster rises from the dead only then to be crucified, etc. See my blog post on this title. 

Bringing Up Baby
No one can do more with less than Cary Grant. He's funny and charming in everything he does. This is the quintessential screwball comedy, directed by Howard Hawks and co-starring Katharine Hepburn.

Brother Orchid
Edward G. Robinson & Humphrey Bogart in this enjoyable spoof of Warner Brothers' gangster films. Here Robinson joins a monastery to hide out and then comes to realize the true meaning of life. 


Casablanca
Stellar cast, excellent writing, superb score, and the fine visuals captures so much of that anxiety-ridden era of occupied France and Morocco in World War II by wrapping a love story around the issue of isolationism and resistance fighting.


Christmas in Connecticut
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite  
Superb acting and witty dialogue combine in this farce about how the Christmas spirit and deception don’t blend very well!  This film best gives us the flavor of 1940’s Christmas - at least the way filmmakers saw America at the time. In short, I just love the whole production from start to finish!


Citizen Kane
This Orson Welles’ masterpiece stands the test of time.

City Lights
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite  
Charlie Chaplin shines with pathos and comedy - perhaps his best of all time. Unforgettable ending - a must-see film. 
City of the Dead
 (aka Horror Hotel)

Sinister atmosphere created by some brilliant black & white cinematography, set design and acting make this an unforgettable horror film. See my blog post on this film.

Come Back, Little Sheba

Shirley’s Booth’s amazing acting skill is on display here in her first film for which she received a deserved best actress Oscar.

Dark Victory
Bette Davis, George Brent and Geraldine Fitzgerald move this tearjerker to a higher level and make it one of the best films to ever deal with dying. Max Steiner's score is superb, especially love the "Resignation" theme.

Double Indemnity
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite  
Memorable Billy Wilder film noir with Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, and Edward G. Robinson at their best! You must see this intriguing gem!


The Great Dictator
Charles Chaplin's spoof of Hitler stands the test of time!


Hans Christian Andersen
This charming, enchanting and entrancing musical exhibits Danny Kaye's superb talent, particularly with his near perfect rendering in Hans Christian Andersen. It's a monumental sample of great filmmaking, with its ability to touch and stimulate our senses and our imagination from opening shot to the closing one.

The film offers a fictionalized fairytale-like story about the Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen (April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875). It involves Andersen's unrequited love or infatuation (depending on how you read it) for a ballerina played by the still-living Zizi Jeanmaire (born April 29, 1924). The late Farley Granger played her abusive husband/manager. 

A description of the plot about ballet slippers, a ballet Andersen writes for the ballerina, and so on, may all seem quite juvenile. In reality, the tale is quite clever in dealing with some meaningful and underlying truths about the spirit of Andersen. The real-life Hans Christian Andersen was known for being attracted to the unattainable men and women of his time.

This Samuel Goldwyn 1952 film production is exceptional on a number of levels - with much credit for Frank Loesser's memorable songs, Kaye's superb charisma and genuine skill in making Andersen believable and likable (besides the rest of the cast), the fine story by Moss Hart (and uncredited Ben Hecht) and the direction by Charles ("King") Vidor.

The House on Haunted Hill
Vincent Price pulled out all the stops with this William Castle entry.  He seems to be enjoying every second playing the host of this haunted house.

The Incredible Shrinking Man
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite 
Some amazing special effects and Scott Carey's coming to terms with the meaning of life in the final five-minutes makes this one a true gem

It’s A Wonderful Life
This optimistic slice-of-life reminds one the meaningfulness of living despite the many trials and tribulations that it entails.

Larceny Inc. 
This is an amazingly funny spoof of Warner Brothers’ gangster films with Edward G. Robinson in top film, along with a host of fine support from Jane Wyman, Broderick Crawford, Jack Carson, Anthony Quinn and Edward Brophy. This 1940 film is one of Anthony Quinn's earliest roles. 

Here a group of ex-cons (Edward G. Robinson, Broderick Crawford & Edward Brophy) purchase a luggage store with the intent to tunnel under the store into the next-door bank. They hit water and oil pipes while business upstairs booms quite annoyingly. They eventually abandon their heist plans at mid-point when they realize their future is best served by staying honest. 

But in walks their old pal Leo Dexter (Quinn), who broke out of jail to set his pals right. Leo forces them to finish the break-in because he needs some dough. Quinn delivers a memorable line: "You guys couldn't steal a towel out of a hotel without my help!"

The actors played it really straight and serious. There’s a very young Jackie Gleason mugging it up as a soda jerk. The film has a wonderful Christmas scene of Robinson outrageously dressed as Santa Claus, smoking a cigar, and being a lookout on Christmas Eve while tunneling continues underneath the bank. 

Laura
One of my favorites directed by Otto Preminger has superb cast (including beautiful Gene Tierney and a young Vincent Price before his horror films), compelling story by Vera Caspary, good score by David Raksin, and Academy Award-winning black & white cinematography by Johnny LaShelle.

Little Giant
One of the only two films in which Abbott & Costello play not as a team. Need I say more?

The Lost Weekend

5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite 
Billy Wilder's essay on alcoholism with Ray Milland in top form!  I just love his masterful portrayal of alcoholic writer Don Birnam. Actress Jane Wyman (1/5/17 - 9/10/07) offered a very good performance as Birnam's girlfriend Helen St. James. Another excellent film with Milland in it is the 1962 apocalyptic Panic in the Year Zero. It's a quite disturbing but effective film directed by Milland himself.

Make Way for Tomorrow
There's a genuine sincerity that evidences itself in the films directed by Leo McCarey (October 3, 1898 - July 5, 1969). His improvisational script method seems to draw the best from his actors. Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi are superb, with an uncompromising finale, in this story that deals with aging so beautifully and truthfully - despite the tears it will release.

I grew up only familiar with the 1940's Leo McCarey films featuring Bing Crosby (Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's). Three years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of viewing that rarely seen 1937 masterpiece, Make Way for Tomorrow. The film has wonderful performances from Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi. As a side note, this film made me see Moore's fine acting skills. Moore got to show such talents on stage years before his film work. All the movies I saw of him before this one seemed to typecast him in comic parts which always had him playing a dumb loser - acting like he was inebriated, and immersed in occupations and situations over his head.

McCarey won the Academy Award the year later for The Awful Truth. He remarked, "Thanks, but you gave this to me for the wrong picture." It was Make Way for Tomorrow (the box office failure from the year before) that deserved the Award. I must agree!

This film stands among the handful that did not compromise by offering the standard Hollywood happy ending
Make Way for Tomorrow is among the best films of all time!

March of the Wooden Soldiers
Laurel & Hardy show up in this take-off of Victor Herbert's operetta "Babes in Toyland." A film that gets better each passing year. See my blog post on this title.

Mighty Joe Young
The 1949 film Mighty Joe Young would always be a late afternoon movie in New York on Thanksgiving Day. King Kong from 1933 always seemed to get all the attention. Mighty Joe Young was seen as an unnecessary tale of the gorilla Joe Young using the same creators (director Ernest B. Schoedsack and producer Merian C. Cooper, with the addition of John Ford as executive producer). However, the more detailed movements of the lovable Mighty Joe Young lend a credibility and sympathy to the character. This is thanks to Ray Harryhausen's superb stop-motion animation. In some ways this makes the film substantially better than King Kong.

Mildred Pierce
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite  
Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, Jack Carson & Ann Blyth really deliver in this film about a dysfunctional family and the American dream! Worth repeatedly viewings!


I just viewed it again (for probably the fiftieth time over my life). Joan Crawford received the Best Actress Oscar for this one. The whole production is superb, from the James M. Cain novel, the perfect casting of Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, and others; a fine Max Steiner score, solid direction by Michael Curtiz, and all of the other great Warner Brothers production values. It is one of the few films that can be seen repeatedly and still be so fascinating and memorable! This film masterpiece also serves as a good warning to over-indulgent parents that try to satisfy all of their children's material desires.

Just love so many scenes... one that is played well is when Mildred (Crawford) tears up the ill-gotten $10,000 check from her daughter Veda (Blyth). The latter was nominated for Best Supporting Actress - but she should have won!

I saw a part of the "Mildred Pierce" miniseries from 2011. I didn't like it at all, especially troubling is its absolute slavery to Cain's novel. The 1945 version improved upon Cain's original by putting in the film noir crime elements, etc. Plus, the casting of Crawford and Blyth is near perfect and they bring real life to the script. Their timing is impeccable!

If you could see only one film in celebration of Joan Crawford's fine career as an actress, then please see Mildred Pierce!

Mississippi
Although disturbingly replete with plenty of myths related to the Old South that Hollywood liked to perpetuate (the admirable Southern aristocracy, the pretty ladies and the genteel manners, the happy slaves, and so on), it's still a worth watching for its superb score by Rodgers & Hart, beautiful cinematography and a great cast. See my review.

Modern Times
It's Charlie Chaplin's amusing take on the abuses of technology (and capitalism). Paulette Goddard is superb. The final scene is unforgettable!

Now, Voyager
5 Stars out of 5, Top Ten Favorite 
This is a beautiful and endearing story brought faithfully to life on the screen. Olive Higgins Prouty (January 10, 1882 – March 24, 1974) is best known for writing this story.  In 1942, the story received an excellent Hollywood movie adaptation by Warner Brothers.  It's probably among the top ten best love story pictures ever made! 
I know my mother could never get tired of watching this gem. For years, it seemed to be the one and only movie she asked me replay on video every other month. Each time I would play Now, Voyager for her, I would also watch it. Indeed, every time I watched it, I would find another layer of meaning or something that would fascinate me about it.

The story is about a repressed Boston woman named Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) who suffers from the poisoning effects of a domineering mother played to perfection by British actress Gladys Cooper. Eventually, through the assistance of an understanding therapist Jr. Jaquith (Claude Rains), Charlotte finds love at first, and ultimately the peace that empowerment and self-assurance brings. In addition, a married man named Jerry Duvaux Durrance (Paul Henried) plays a part in her recovery. 

Bette Davis is compelling and fascinating in playing this part. Davis' success as an actress came from staying in movies with her superb talent, just as Shirley Booth successfully stayed on the stage and avoided the movies as much as she could. Both Davis and Booth excelled at what they did, and were definitely among the 20th century's finest actresses. Along with Shirley Booth, Bette Davis is among my favorite actresses of all time.

Besides the fine acting from a stellar cast of Bette Davis, Paul Henried (January 10, 1908 – March 29, 1992) Claude Rains, and Gladys Cooper, there's Max Steiner's beautiful score which rightly won the Academy Award that year.

The men are very likeable in this film (Paul Henried & Claude Rains), but the women certainly leave much to be desired - from Henried's miserable wife who we never see, Charlotte's niece June (Bonita Granville) who certainly sickeningly loves to torture her aunt with nasty jibes, and most importantly, Charlotte's tyrannical mother who thinks that being a good mother means controlling everything your adult child feels and does. Even Jerry's depressed daughter Tina (Janis Wilson) is a mess - suffering from low self-esteem and feelings of isolation. [Footnote: it was Wilson's first film.]

For many reasons Now, Voyager has stood the test of time as "The Woman's Film." The story, written by Prouty, has a screen adaptation by Casey Robinson, which leaves amazingly intact much of the original story and actual lines of dialogue. Irving Rapper directed this wonderful story of a woman suffering serious psychological problems and how she breaks free of her mother's domination to choose her own destiny. 

I initially sensed that the story's writer seemed to have studied this situation or went through such an ordeal. Prouty's writing is keen on women and mental issues. There's an interesting autobiographical element to Now, Voyager. Indeed Prouty was the right person to tell such an unusual story about the mentally ill Charlotte Vale. She herself was from a fine Boston family and she too herself suffered a mental breakdown as an adult in 1925 after the death of her one-year old infant (She also had an earlier breakdown at the age of twelve). Prouty went to a sanitarium for recovery where she met two therapists - one of them encouraged her in her writing career.

So Prouty knew what she was writing about when she created Charlotte Vale. Do you remember the story Stella Dallas? That too was written by Prouty. However, she was not too happy with the melodramatic screen and radio adaptations.

The point that seems evident is that Charlotte Vale is not really better off at the bittersweet conclusion than she was at the start. She might still seem to have some issues to work on, depending on how you want to see her decision to play surrogate mother to a married man's child. However, at least she has finally stood up and chosen her own destiny despite the consequences. Charlotte is liberated finally. That's what I especially like about Now, Voyager.

In short, Charlotte overcomes her mental problems and becomes a complete person. She learns to win and assert her independence, first by dumping repressive family ties, and then overcoming those limiting class and gender restrictions which society brainwashes us at an early age to accept as normal and the only sensible way.

Charlotte is a character that finally exhibits strong empowerment. She even achieves her stated goals of having a home (inheriting her tyrannical mother's house), having a child (through being a surrogate caretaker of her "ex-lover's" daughter) and having a man to call her own (via a very non-traditional friendship with a married man). 

Now, Voyager's character of Charlotte Vale is interesting, especially when you consider the time when this story was written.  In achieving her goals in an unusual manner, she frees herself from the repressive upper class stuffiness and patriarchy of the traditional male-dominated, anti-feminine, Western gender code.


The Poseidon Adventure
Though this entry may seem out of place with the other titles mentioned here, this disaster film holds interest throughout with great performances. One of the best from the 1970's.  A star-studded cast all brought Paul Gallico's great disaster tale to life - along with Red Buttons, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, and Leslie Nielsen. Ernest Borgnine. 

Borgnine offers some good acting, particularly his vivid expressions. He played his part as Detective Mike Rogo to the hilt. There's his memorable closing line, in reference to his adversary, the preacher played by Gene Hackman: "That preacher was right. That beautiful son-of-a-bitch was right!" With rescue from the capsized ship imminent, he looks back, and offers an unforgettable face acknowledging the loss of his wife, Linda (Stevens). Borgnine received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in the final episode of ER in 2009, in which similarly he played a husband who loses his wife. 

Rashomon
Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece on the subjectivity of truth!

Shane
This is the No. 1 Western in my book! I will say simply you must see this one! Special mention for Victor Young's magnificent title track! Joey's cries: "Shane! Come back!" make this an unforgettable film!

Since You Went Away
David O. Selznick's soapy production of life on the home front during World War II. This lengthy, but tender and touching film has some great work by Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Robert Walker, Hattie McDaniel, Monty Wooley, Shirley Temple and others.

Spellbound
Hitchcock's take on psychoanalysis. See my blog post on it.

Star Spangled Rhythm

This offers great vignettes of Paramount Studios talents at their best during World War II! This very entertaininfilm has every star associated with Paramount Studios. It's unbelievable! There's a good energy about this production. They certainly don't make movies like this anymore! But I must say that even though I enjoy watching the Hollywood stars perform the songs and skits of this era, I certainly would not want to go back to that time (December of 1942) when the horrendous World War II was raging!!! They really weren't the good old days as people like to remember them. I particularly like Bing Crosby's salute to the American flag in the rousing "Old Glory" finale.

There's also beautiful Dona Drake in the suggestive "Swing Shift" number. Then there's the enchanting "A Sweater, A Sarong and A Peek-A-Boo Bang" number with Dorothy Lamour, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake. Wow!!! Particularly amusing is Sterling Holloway in drag spoofing Veronica Lake. Also, there's "That Old Black Magic" with Vera Zorina dancing and Johnny Johnston singing (the latter starred with Shirley in the Broadway musical A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)

Swing Time
The Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers classic is the best romance of all time. Astaire singing "The Way You Look Tonight" is unforgettable! Though the plot may seem silly and dated sometimes, Swing Time is a truly beautiful romance offering some fine songs and dances with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 

Of special mention is the song "The Way You Look Tonight," which received a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Song of that year. Astaire offers a genuine and heartfelt delivery that no one has topped since. Also, Rogers gaze is never more beautiful than with her lathered hair. There's the brilliant lyrics by Dorothy Fields that can melt any one's heart. There's the superb music composed by Jerome Kern that caused lyricist Dorothy Fields to cry when she first heard the release part of the song. Finally, there's the perfectly selected shots that best convey a truly memorable scene.

Of the many, many thousands of hours I have spent in over forty years of watching and and studying films, that scene has to be in my top ten of all time. Truly one of my desert island film clips! The best romance any day is SWING TIME! 

The Tingler
Another of the entertaining Vincent Price and William Castle collaborations that holds up extremely well!

The Time of Their Lives
The only other Abbott & Costello film with them not playing as a team - this ghost story is a period piece set during the American Revolution.

Tokyo Story
This is a true masterpiece from my favorite Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu. The family story may seem primitive and unimportant, but it offers a poignancy that says much about life itself.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston & Tim Holt in this John Huston-directed tale of greed is unsurpassed!

The Trouble With Angels
Just watching Rosalind Russell superbly playing a nun is enough - but add in the comedy hi-jinks of June Harding and Hayley Mills - and you have a really fun film!

Vertigo
Alfred Hitchcock's best film has a dreamlike mystique to it. I could write a book about this one.

Way Out West
Laurel & Hardy at their best in the Old West!

White Heat
James Cagney plays a despicable character reaching for the top of the world! There's many moments of mention, especially unforgettable is the finale!

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap
Abbott & Costello in the Old West - a funny concept. God help us!

Wuthering Heights
Though this 1939 film did not stay faithful to the novel in many ways, particularly changing it into a story of a love lost due to spite, it is memorable.
The Sam Goldwyn production had its share of problems, especially clashes between the actors Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon and director William Wyler. 

The sad ending of Cathy's death scene with Heathcliff begging her forgiveness is truly unforgettable. The finale shows the two ghosts of Cathy and Heathcliff walking off in the snow covering Penniston Craig. Although this is not found in the book (and distorts Bronte's characterization of Cathy), I find it works quite well in concluding the portion of the sprawling novel that the film covers. Producer Goldwyn insisted on it - but Wyler refused to shoot it. But I just love it! 

There's some good cinematography by the master Gregg Toland. What stands out the most for me is the fine score by Alfred Newman with the hauntingly beautiful "Cathy's Theme" standing among the greatest compositions ever written for a film. There's even a good supporting cast including the silent film actor/director Donald Crisp, David Niven, Flora Robson, Leo G. Carroll, and Geraldine Fitzgerald. 

Recently, I spoke to a librarian who said she did not like the original novel because she couldn't believe that Cathy is endearing enough to make these men go to the lengths they do to be with her. 

Yankee Doodle Dandy
First, there's the perfectly cast James Cagney as George M. Cohan. You don't want to skip this must-see film! Cagney (July 17, 1899 - March 30, 1986.) stands in a class all by himself. He has given us so many great and memorable films, including my favorites; Angels With Dirty FacesYankee Doodle DandyCity for ConquestWhite Heat, and Man of a Thousand Faces.

I remember my father's excitement when they would run marathon evenings of Cagney's films on New York local broadcast television. Those days are long gone now.

This next film stands alone as it is not fictional. 
Night and Fog (original French title: Nuit et Brouillard)
This extremely disturbing indictment of inhumanity offers brilliant editing, expressive commentary, and chilling music to make it a heartbreaking and horrific film essay on the Nazi tormentors and the Holocaust.  I would rank it among the top ten films of all time. Though he was a dedicated filmmaker, Resnais never wanted to make this film. He did it because he was asked to make it. 

It took courage to see this project through. I wish what he depicted is just an imaginary place and time - but unfortunately it is not. This film is an amazingly perfect and brilliant blend of color images of the present and very barren Nazi camp at Auschwitz and Majdanek in 1955 with archival black & white Nazi & Allied footage before, during and after the camps were in full operation ten years before this film was made. It attempts to understand and make sense of the past and present; it studies memory and denial - a theme omnipresent in Resnais' later features, especially Hiroshima, Mon Amour

Resnais, who had experience as a film editor, skillfully created a montage of images cut to Hanns Eisler's unforgettable score (which stands on its own). The narration is written by Jean Cayrol, a survivor from the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, known for being designed for political enemies of the Third Reich. 
Not one to sensationalize, Resnais saved to the final few minutes the most ominous images of atrocities. They are nauseating, deadening and riveting. If there ever was a truly sad film that has to generate tears because it's history and not fiction - then it's Night and Fog

Resnais' impact with this one film is that we can never forget how truly low humanity can stoop and to remind us of the unimaginable sufferings that were inflicted on millions of people and the awareness that this can happen again! With denials from everyone involved, the film concludes, asking: “Then who is responsible?" 

Shirley Booth Quotes Oscar Wilde

Wilde's only novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is still a good read. The 1945 film version of the story offers a great cast (including Hurd Hatfield, George Sanders, Angela Lansbury and Donna Reed) and superb Oscar-winning cinematography by Henry Stradling. 

The sinister painting used in the film to show the degradation of Dorian's soul was a commissioned work by Ivan Le Lorraine Albright.

It seems that many of Oscar Wilde's entertaining and pithy quotes are focused on gender differences. I am not sure I can endorse all his views - but they are revealing of the era he lived in. Nevertheless, one can find some truth in many things Wilde has said. Gender is linked very much to culturally-imposed rules that insist on dividing the world up into two camps. Unfortunately, the patriarchal world we inhabit always insists on denigrating women and making them the inferior gender. When Wilde or anyone is denigrating women or men, I see it as an unfair and illegitimate position. 

Shirley Booth would quote Oscar Wilde on one radio show - Hallmark’s Reader’s Digest Radio ("Uncle By's Two Wives") on May 8, 1947. 

Before the story begins Shirley says: "...It’s good to be here. And I’m enchanted with the part of Paulina. She reminds me of something I read not long ago in the Reader’s Digest.

Richard Kollmar: What was that?

Shirley Booth: A little bit of wisdom by Oscar Wilde. It really sums up our story, he said: 

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love, but women have more subtle instincts—they like to be a man’s last romance.”

Shirley Booth's Prayer

This is found on page 239-240 of my book, Love is the Reason for it All: The Shirley Booth Story:

Shirley Booth said, “Well I have a poem that I found that I liked once. It said, Give me a good digestion, Lord and also something to digest. Give me a healthy body, Lord and the sense to keep it at its best. Give me a healthy mind, Lord, and keep the good and pure in sight. When seeing sin be not appalled, but find a way to set it right. Give me a mind that is not bored, that does not whimper, whine, or sigh. Don’t let me worry overmuch about this fussy thing called I. Give me a sense of you, my Lord, give me the grace to see a joke. To find some happiness in life and pass it on to other folks.”

Shirley's husband Bill served in the 100th Division and helped drive the Nazis out of France!

Shirley Booth's second marriage to soulmate Bill Baker, Jr. is the subject of my second book, For Bill, His Pinup Girl: The Shirley Booth & Bill Baker Story. Several years ago, Catherine Campaigne, Bill's niece sent me some goodies including a handwritten note from her Aunt Shirley (Booth) written on a page of Bill's typed poem, of which I offer you just the first line.

Shirley Booth's note reads:

"Feb. 17 - 1945


This verse was written by my husband now stationed overseas. But I couldn't resist sending them to you for I think with justifiable wifely pride that they are truly worthy of your consideration.



Thanking you I am most


Sincerely Yours


Shirley Booth Baker
165 E. 61 St. N.Y.C."


The opening line to "Morning Pastoral" by Bill Baker, Jr., 1945:
"The chill morning half-light begins to lift the awful hiding blackness of last night which fell to cloak the final stages of a furious encounter."

Catherine's Uncle Bill died tragically at the age of 43 when she was a baby, so Catherine learned more about him in my latest book.

Catherine wrote: "Thank you for the story! I really know so little about Shirley and Bill; it was a thrill for me to see some new pictures and read more about both of them, particularly that they both painted."

As a sincere book of love in memory of Shirley Booth and her second husband Bill Baker, the book has provided some excellent feedback already - most notably that it succinctly captured a few years in the life of Shirley Booth - making one feel for her. Readers have been pleased by the many never-before-seen photos here. The cover features the never-before-seen wallet photograph that Shirley Booth gave to her husband Bill, then Corporal William H. Baker, when he was in the 100th Division of the Army fighting in France.

The book is 96 pages, measures 6" by 9," and it has over thirty family-owned photos. These photos are unveiled to the public for the first time now; includes a rare glimpse of Shirley and her puppy in her Broadway dressing room (circa 1940), Shirley relaxing on a ship deck (late 1930's), a portrait of her husband 
Corporal Bill Baker given to Shirley with an inscription, Shirley and Bill admiring Bill's painting, pictures of three paintings - two by Bill and one by Shirley, two outdoor shots of Shirley in her costume for "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," fourteen shots taken by an audience member of the 1954 Broadway musical "By the Beautiful Sea, besides recent pictures of the Pennsylvanian farm property that Shirley and Bill owned from 1946 to 1951.

I have included the telegram sent to Shirley when she won the Golden Globe for Come Back, Little Sheba, as well as the Donaldson Award for "By the Beautiful Sea." Leslie Sodaro, Shirley Booth's niece and next-of-kin provided a personal Foreword.

As a bonus, there's a 14-page transcript of a rare interview of Shirley Booth by Merv Griffin taken from the only audio copy of that show that is known to exist (provided by archivist Phil Gries). The book includes credits for her performances on stage, screen, television, and radio during the time she lived down on their farm (1946-1951). Here is a succinct - but enjoyable - book of the bittersweet story of the World War II love shared by Shirley Booth and her soulmate husband Bill Baker. It makes a nice keepsake of two truly wonderful human beings. The love that they shared is finally remembered and celebrated!

As of August 26, 2014, 
For Bill, His Pinup Girl: The Shirley Booth & Bill Baker Story by Jim Manago is no longer in print.  An audio edition is currently being illegally offered. The individual in question is in violation of the copyright. 

Readers Keep Asking Was Shirley Booth Gay? Her niece responded:

"No, Aunt Shirley was not gay, as you mentioned. She had many gay friends, mostly men, and she thoroughly enjoyed the company of people. As you know she was married twice (divorced with Ed Gardner and widowed with Bill Baker). After the loss of Bill, I think she just didn't want to try again."

"My Aunt Shirley was a born storyteller, and not many people could top her. Her stories were always fleshed and accented. I do not remember any of them, but I do remember the adventure I went on with her in her stories. She loved to entertain!"

Leslie At Shirley Booth's Cape Cod Home, October 1992

Leslie At Shirley Booth's Cape Cod Home, October 1992
This photo was taken by Shirley Booth's maid Eleanor Muto in a small sitting area at Shirley's Cape Cod house just after she had died. Leslie writes: "Mom and I were there at Aunt Shirley's house to clean up and close up. If I look tired, I was EXHAUSTED! I had done all the heavy work and it showed on my face!" 
Courtesy Leslie Sodaro ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Christmas Card To Don DeFore (who played Mr. Baxter in Hazel)

Christmas Card To Don DeFore
Sent By Shirley Booth

Here Is Shirley Booth's Emmy Speech:

ONE MOMENT I CHERISH is when she started doing Hazel. Shirley Booth was wrinkle-free at the age of 63 years old. However, the press variously reported her as being in her early 50's. When she accepted her second Emmy she stepped up to the stage minus the Hazel wig and you could see her short white hair. I was fortunate to see that Emmy Show when Shirley received the award at the Research Library at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York City (now known as The Paley Center). 

When I look back on the years I spent researching her life, if there's one moment I cherish most is when I saw the Emmy Award Show with Shirley Booth as recipient. This is because I loved seeing reruns of Hazel as a youngster. When that Emmy Award show aired in 1963, I was too young to have remembered it. There was such a wonderful energy in the audience when the celebrated Broadway actress was announced as the winner for Outstanding Continued Lead Performance by an Actress in a Series. Lorne Greene announced the winner: "Miss Shirley Booth." 

The theme music to the Hazel show played as she walked from her seat down to the stage and stepped up to give her acceptance speech. It's a remarkable and emotion-filled piece of television history that I wish everyone could see. For the first time published anywhere, here are the words that Shirley spoke at that ceremony as published in my biography of Shirley Booth:

“Boy I was in some category, you know. I had some wonderful gals in there.” Then, looking at the statuette, Booth observed: “She looks as if she could bowl a good game too, don’t she?” 

A very happy and smiling Booth continued, “You know there’s an old saying that it’s always the woman behind the man. In my instance, I’m afraid, it’s the men behind the women. We have some wonderful men. My wonderful boss, Don DeFore, that I love. And our director, Bill Russell. Any day I expect him to walk on water. Harry Ackerman. Bill Dozier. It’s just a wonderful, wonderful privilege to have. And I intend to share it with them. Thank you!” 

If Shirley Booth only starred as the character Hazel and did nothing else, she still would be on top of my list of favorite actresses. Her uncanny ability at being real and natural as that character still makes the show hold up so well fifty years later. 

As Hazel co-star Don DeFore once told The Saturday Evening Post: "Shirley has succeeded in television where other stage actors have failed because, no matter how rushed she is, she still manages to bring subtleties into the performance. Half the shows end with Hazel and the Baxter family in the dining room, and the temptation is to play every dining-room scene the same. But Shirley doesn't pigeonhole her facial expressions. She thinks through every scene and makes each one unique."
Shirley Booth deservedly won two Emmy Awards for her acting in Hazel!

1944 Wallet Pinup Given By Shirley To Bill

1944 Wallet Pinup Given By Shirley To Bill
Courtesy of Leslie Sodaro

Backside of Pinup

Backside of Pinup
Shirley's Caption

WHAT PEOPLE SAID ABOUT THIS BLOG SITE:

One of the most enjoyable aspects to offering this blog is seeing visitors from all over the world looking up Shirley Booth, and telling me how much they admire her or enjoy her productions. One of the best was from "Lucy" who wrote, "From Argentina, from my little apartment in Buenos Aires. Love Shirley Booth!!"

Joseph Crisalli 
(Author/Historian/Artist - Punch & Judy)
I'm thrilled, truly overjoyed, to see you're keeping the legacy of the magnificent and unique Shirley Booth alive! I very much look forward to reading your books.

Miss Booth was one of the finest actresses of the Twentieth Century and I fear that so few remember her today. A true actress, she was fascinating to watch whether playing Mrs. Leslie or Hazel. Her own personality also warrants remembering, so I applaud your work.

Thank you for ensuring that she lives on and for helping to give Miss Booth her due place among the greats.


*****

Judy:

I have just ordered both of your books from Amazon and am eagerly looking forward to reading them. I adore Shirley Booth, I always thought she was a wonderful, multidimensional actress. She could make you laugh out loud one minute and tearing up the next, she was that good. I wish I could have seen her on stage, I'm sure she was magical. Thanks for sharing your love of Shirley with the rest of us."

*****

Actress June Harding wrote in answer to my request for an interview:
Thanks for your request. Bad timing for me . . . after a long cold Maine winter I am outside painting, etc., and I just can't take the time now. And really, I don't want to do blog interviews/email. You're very kind to ask. Your Shirley Booth site is very nice!
Best wishes,
June Harding


*****

Here is my favorite response from readers in 2011 and 2012:

Dear Mr. Manago:

Thank you so much for keeping the world aware of the glorious Shirley Booth's character, personality and talent.

In Philadelphia, we've recently discovered "Antenna TV," a terrific station playing great shows from the 1950s, 60s & 70s including Hazel! Our seven-year-old daughter is entranced by these shows and loves Hazel most of all, and we are so happy to share Hazel with her! She hasn't even mentioned anything about the fact that it's in black and white, which is saying something!

Again, Thank you, Mr. Manago! Keep up the good work!

Lauramac1

*****

Salvatore Somma: I admire the continual work you do on the blog, and I am impressed by your knowledge of the film and entertainment field!" 

Not Shirley Booth's Autograph

Not Shirley Booth's Autograph
Signed by Her Sister Jean Coe

This Is Shirley Booth's Autograph

This Is Shirley Booth's Autograph
Actual Signature

Shirley Booth On THE CAVALCADE OF AMERICA

Shirley Booth was heard a total of four times on the popular radio show The Cavalcade of America sponsored by the famed E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. 

My favorite appearance is the August 14, 1944 episode, "The Gals They Left Behind." http://ia700509.us.archive.org/16/items/OTRR_Cavalcade_of_America_Singles/CALV_440814_396_The_Gals_They_Left_Behind.mp3

December 13, 1943: "Check Your Heart at Home." http://ia700509.us.archive.org/16/items/OTRR_Cavalcade_of_America_Singles/CALV_431213_361_Check_Your_Heart_at_Home.mp3

January 6, 1947: "The Woman on Lime Rock." It tells the fascinating story of the real-life lighthouse keeper Ida Lewis. Shirley played the lead of Ida Lewis with guest Les Tremayne. http://ia700509.us.archive.org/16/items/OTRR_Cavalcade_of_America_Singles/CALV_470106_505_The_Woman_on_Lime_Rock.mp3

April 12, 1948: "The Man Who Took The Freedom Train." http://ia700509.us.archive.org/16/items/OTRR_Cavalcade_of_America_Singles/CALV_480412_563_The_Man_Who_Took_the_Freedom_Train.mp3

Shirley's Booth Niece Writes:

Shirley Booth's niece Leslie contacted me after TCM aired Come Back, Little Sheba. Leslie says that the host Robert Osborne did not correctly attribute who decided where Shirley's Oscar should reside. Here's Leslie's note:

"Jim,

I just happened to be flipping around the channels. TCM is one of my stops along the way, as I often watch movies there. Who should be on my screen, but Aunt Shirley in Come Back Little Sheba.

At the end of the presentation, Robert Osborne talked about what Shirley had done after this film. He noted that when she died, Shirley had willed her Oscar to the Cape Cod Playhouse (where it currently resides under glass in the lobby).

This is not the case that Shirley willed her Oscar to the Cape Playhouse. But in fact it was [Shirley's sister/my mother] Jean that said that all of Shirley's awards (including her Oscar) should go to the Cape Playhouse because Shirley loved the Playhouse. 
Leslie"
*****
Shirley Booth's niece Leslie sent this follow-up note:

"Jim,

When Shirley died, I accompanied my mother [Shirley's sister Jean] back to Cape Cod to take care of my Aunt Shirley's affairs (clean out the house, go to bank, etc.). 
I remember my mother was TERRIFIED of flying.

Shirley's Oscar and Emmy Awards were in evidence. But I don't remember seeing her Tony (Antoinette Perry) Award for Come Back Little Sheba. As a child, I had recalled seeing it in Shirley's apartment on West 57th Street in New York City - though I did not see her other Tony Awards [Goodbye, My Fancy and The Time of the Cuckoo].

My mother collected the awards with the intention of taking them back to California. I remember her saying: "
These are not my awards, they belong to Shirley. She won them - not me. They should go somewhere so they can be seen and appreciated - 
like The Cape Playhouse."

I recall my mother speaking on the phone with two friends of Shirley's - two older fellows who did the interior decorating (I do not remember their names). They said they would make sure the awards would get to the Playhouse. They also took care of the furniture and other items that we did not have shipped to us back in California. They had them removed from the house and sold, and sent the income to my mother.

I learned that my Aunt Shirley's Tony Award for Come Back, Little Sheba was up for auction on eBay in 2003. I don't know if it sold, and whether she gave the other Tony Awards away (as she did with other items).

However, in her final years, Shirley had many strokes and her thinking process (as in my mother's final days), was not good. There was some speculation that she had given them away to some institution for display, but who knows?


That is my memory of the event. I selfishly wanted the awards (and especially the Oscar) back in California with mother. I thought it would be cool, but never said anything. Shortly after mother's decision, I realized she was so very correct. My mother's decision for them was absolutely the right one. 
Interestingly, when I checked The Cape Playhouse website, they only acknowledge the Oscar, and not the Emmy Awards. So now I wonder if my mother later returned them to the TV Academy? Perhaps she did. 

Leslie"
*****

I wondered whether perhaps Shirley's Cape Cod housekeeper might know something that could help us regarding those "missing" awards? I asked Shirley's niece Leslie, "What can you tell me about your Aunt's housekeeper, Eleanor Mutose?"

Leslie wrote:

"Jim,

In regards to Shirley's housekeeper, Eleanor Muto (not Mutose as you wrote), she died a number of years ago. I know this for a fact as she and mother exchanged cards and letters after Shirley's death, and mother was notified by a family member of Eleanor's death. 

My Aunt Shirley had round-the-clock care because of the strokes and her hearing loss. She also had macular degeneration (like my mother), and could not see well. I presume that Shirley had staff 24/7 - and those names are lost forever.

Shirley's awards might have gone missing years before that. She lived on the Cape in her last years, and my mother's fear of flying kept her from visiting Shirley. I believe that the Tony Awards were never on the West coast. They always resided on the East coast, either in her apartment on West 57th in New York City, or in one of the two houses she owned on the Cape. 

Another thing to note about Aunt Shirley's Oscar for Come Back, Little Sheba is that the one currently residing at the Cape Playhouse is actually #2. #1 having been stolen out of her apartment on W.57th many years ago.

Jim, unfortunately all of her other awards (Golden Globe, Sarah Siddons, etc.) are probably not traceable any longer. For example, we don't even know who bought the Tony on eBay. So you can say whatever satisfies the speculation.

Leslie"
***** 

Then we really do not know the location to all of Shirley's awards (three Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards, Sarah Siddons, Golden Globe, etc.)

They were either sold, given away, or stolen. The only award which we know the location of for sure is her Oscar, which resides at The Cape Playhouse. Leslie says that it's a replacement Oscar. She explained "The Oscar awarded to my Aunt Shirley in 1952 for Come Back, Little Sheba now resides at the Cape Playhouse is actually Oscar #2. The original (Oscar #1) was stolen from her apartment on W.57th and never returned. The Academy was notified and another (replacement) statue was sent. I do not remember when the original was stolen."


WHAT PEOPLE SAID ABOUT MY FIRST BOOK

Love Is The Reason For It All: The Shirley Booth Story (2008)

My favorite response is from Harvey Simms:


"Dear Jim and Donna,

I am 67 years old and this year, through a TV channel called Antenna TV, I met “Hazel.” Immediately I felt a connection with this character. So much so, that I arranged my daily schedule around the two episodes each day.

After watching the show for a while, I realized that “Hazel” was Shirley Booth, or Shirley Booth was “Hazel.” I had to know more about Shirley Booth, a woman for whom I was already feeling some affection. I wanted a “Hazel” in my life and thought “How wonderful it would have been to have had ‘Hazel"’ in your life as you were growing up.”

At my nearest Barnes and Noble, I asked if there was anything available on Shirley Booth. The clerk said, “Yes, there is. It’s called Love is the Reason for It All. The title fit so perfectly with what I had already seen of Shirley, that with a certain excitement I ordered the book. With great anticipation, I waited for the book to arrive. When it came, I was very pleased that it had not been damaged during shipping, especially since I was already thinking that this would be a book that I would cherish for a long time to come. The more I read, the more I became captivated by Shirley. I told my wife, “I’ve fallen in love with another woman”; only trouble was that she had passed on twenty years before.

Your book provided me with an insight into this woman who was playing “Hazel,” as well as a complete list of her credits, including some film which will allow me to see her in other settings. I don’t know what book critics or the publishing world had to say about your book, but as far as I am concerned, “You wrote the perfect book.” I thank you both for the research and the writing that created it. After reading it, I feel like you wrote it just for me. So moving was your story of her life that the last pages were difficult to read, because of the tears in my eyes.

Shirley Booth was an amazing woman, and you wrote an amazing book about her. I believe that she would have been very pleased. Thank you again."


Clair Schulz:
"What I liked about your biography about Shirley Booth was the use of quotations by Kantor, Reilly,and others who knew Shirley (not to mention comments by Booth herself) which support your assertions. Also the citing from reviews showed you did your research. There is a nice selection of photographs showing Shirley at various stages of her life. Being a devotee of OTR, I also enjoyed the section about her work on Duffy's Tavern. By giving us a complete picture of Booth, you did a valuable service by reminding readers that she was a versatile performer notable for her work on radio, stage, motion pictures, and television. You were fortunate to get the foreword from Ted Key when you did; he is now gone as so many great cartoonists are.

Joyce Van Patten, Actress:
"I applaud you for doing the book. I fear so many people have forgotten all our great ones. They turn everyman into a celebrity. These great artists were artists first, and celebrities maybe. Their interest was their art. Thanks for keeping these stories alive!

Richard Herd, Actor:
"Read it! Loved it! Passed it on to my 101 yr. old Mother-in-Law."

Wanda Clark, Personal Secretary to Lucille Ball:
"I thought I knew about this talented lady, Shirley Booth, from the awards for theater and movies and the wonderful television show. However, Jim Manago's book gives much more about her life and career. It's a very good read with so many beautiful
pictures and I'm delighted I found it, and highly recommend this book."

Julie Harris, Actress:
"Thank you for the book about Shirley Booth. She was a gifted actress, and I loved her!"

Thomas A DeLong, Reviewer, Radiogram (SPERDVAC publication):
"Author Jim Manago's presentation reads like a heartfelt Valentine card to actress Shirley Booth from her friends, associates and fans. It's loving and upbeat with fond recollections and reviews of a much-honored performer on stage, radio and television."

Tommy Garrett, Editor, Canyon News (Beverly Hills, CA):
"This book is inspiring, but most of all it is honest...Recently some biographers seem to show disdain for their subject, instead of admiration. But although Manago admires Booth, he's able to separate his affection and go in depth into her life story and does so with ease. The book is chronologically correct, and Mr. Manago is an amazing fact checker...Despite the tough and aggressive nature of her business, you come across wanting to like and feeling like you know Shirley Booth in a way only Jim Manago could deliver. This is a must-read for historians and should be required reading for anyone interested in entering the field of acting via the Broadway stage."

Sal Somma, Professor of Music:
"I especially enjoyed the quotes from Shirley Booth because I was able to get a good feeling about her character through her own words. I applaud Jim for keeping it legit and not throwing in the trash and gossip that most biographies have. I can also appreciate the research and work that went into this endeavor - and he didn't have Shirley to consult with! Good book."

Jim Lovins (Amazon customer):
"Jim Manago has dug deep with quotes from Booth....Quite an impressive book -- A must read ~ Highly recommended!"

Prof. Edward Wesley, (Chairman, English Department, St. Francis College, NY):
I enjoyed your book. It was a good read and as I planned, I brought it with me on vacation up in the Berkshires. We accompanied it with Netflix's Come Back, Little Sheba and The Matchmaker. My parents took the book back to their apartment and have it circulating among their friends.

Name Withheld. An Associate Professor of Communication:
"Yes the book was interesting. Good research. I wish there were more personal reminisces of Shirley, tho...interviews with key people in her life were
probably impossible because so many have passed on. Thanks again for sharing it with me!

Anonymous:
"Mr. Manago has written an informative and positive book (by that I mean not overemphasizing any negative or squalid life details) that zeroes in on the facets that will ever matter to fans and aficionados; her career and what good a person did in life to counterbalance her imperfections."

Tom Watson, President, We Love Lucy Fan Club:
"I loved your book about Shirley! Long overdue! There was wonderful new information on almost every page... So much of her career was spent on the "live" stage or on radio -- and there is little spoken or written about those years today... What little the public knew about Shirley was from the Hollywood PR people that handled her few movies and HAZEL... Your book was a wonderful opportunity to "meet the lady" herself... I tried to interest publishers in doing a book 25 years ago, and everyone turned me down. If I couldn't do it -- I'm glad you did!


Favorite Frédéric Chopin Composition:

Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)...Oftentimes we see the word "genius" used rather carelessly. But truly the term should be limited to individuals like Chopin. Heoffered innovative and remarkable compositions for the piano. His best work includes the hauntingly beautiful and melodious Étude Opus 10, No. 3. I love this contemplative composition with its exquisite and unforgettable melody.


The speed at which this composition is played varies considerably because several different scores were notated differently by Chopin. The version played by Chiara Bertoglio is quite good. Martha Goldstein's version is interesting for it utilizes a piano from the time of Chopin - the piano's then were not as massive and offer a more plucky sound than modern pianos. Both Bertoglio and Goldstein's versions are available from the Piano Society for free download under the Chopin file.
I first heard it played forty years ago in Robert Youngson's silent film compilations; The Golden Age of Comedy (1957), When Comedy Was King (1960) and Days of Thrills and Laughter (1961). 

This rendition is played somewhat slower - but much more tenderly by my favorite contemporary pianist, Valentina Lisitsa. GO TO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ltXHzqEVpk

Julie Harris (12/2/25 - 8/24/13) Rest In Peace

Nobody summarized Shirley Booth better than Julie Harris. She gave me this quote which appears on the back cover of Love is the Reason for It All: The Shirley Booth Story (2008):
"We were neighbors and best friends for a long time. She was funny, bright, and a lovely person. I loved her very much."

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