Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fun Finds: Motion Picture Magazine - June 1964

This is yet another new type of posting that I hope to turn into a series, though I don't believe I will number them. I'll just label them as such. I go to a lot of antique shops, antique shows, flea markets, thrift stores, old book stores and so on, always on the look out for that stray piece of film or TV memorabilia that I can rescue from eventual demise. Some of my very favorite books have been located this way.

About a week ago, I went to a large antique show and was wandering around when I came upon a stack of old movie magazines. Some asshole was charging $20 to $25 apiece for them, which I thought was exorbitant (and I wasn't the only one thinking that since they were still there at the end of a long day!) I turned a corner and saw another table with all sorts of magazines, most of them new. An odd thing stuck out, though. I saw what seemed to be an old one and the corner read “We Go To Liz' Wedding.” Hmmmm.... I picked it up and saw that Jackie Kennedy was on the cover and immediately thought, “Oh, God... They're gonna want an arm and a leg for this.” (It always seems that anything with Elvis, Marilyn, The Kennedys, James Dean or John Wayne somehow gets jacked up to the sky. And what Jackie had to do with motion pictures, I still don't know!) There was a handmade sign that said, “MAGAZINES - 50 CENTS.” I thought surely this wouldn't apply in this case, so I asked the man, “How much is this magazine?” He said, “Fifty cents.” You never saw anyone rifle through his pocket for two quarters so fast in your life!

It was an issue of Motion Picture Magazine from June, 1964. Already, according to the inside, the title had been in print for fifty-three years, which would have meant that it began in 1911. Could that really be true? Anyway, being a freak for all things '60s, '70s and '80s, I was fine with the fact that it was a “later” issue. The thing was still older than me! Now, you know in The Underworld, my good fortune is your good fortune, so I'm going to post some of the pictures and articles that were found inside!

First up is the gossip section. I thought you might like to see Sheilah Graham's column in its entirety. There isn't any stunning news in it, but it gives you a cross section of who was hot at that moment in 1964. (Today, such a column would be filled to the brim with tidbits about all sorts of tawdry starlets, sleazy singers and various reality TV performers. Contrast that with the sort of names mentioned here!)

I do apologize for the smeariness of at least one of the scans. I was pressed for time, had issues with the setup of the scanner and was trying not to bend up the original magazine too much. I think you can still make out most, if not all, of the text when you click to enlarge.

You can see an example of how Richard Chamberlain was trying to dodge marriage questions as well as a shot of Tony Curtis and the young woman he left Janet Leigh for (when he acted with her during Taras Bulba and eventually got her pregnant.) Incidentally, Christine Kaufmann would give Tony two more daughters, no sons. His third wife had two boys, giving him a total of four girls and two boys.

Then there's a shot of '30s dancing star Eleanor Powell and her son by Glenn Ford, Peter. By Hollywood standards, Eleanor and Glenn were married a fairly long time, about sixteen years. Peter appeared in a lot of publicity photos as a child with his famous parents and tried to become an actor in his own right, but the older he got, the most bizarrely disproportionate his ears got! (Even Clark Gable and Loretta Young's daughter didn't have it this bad, I don't think.) I have never seen ears like this on anyone in my life, which surely made it difficult for him to sustain a considerable career in the movies and on TV. Sweet guy, and a cute one, but I just don't think it was gonna happen...

As Sheilah's column continues, we see blurbs about Connie Stevens and her husband James Stacy. James, of course, would in time divorce Connie and later marry Kim Darby of True Grit fame. Then, in 1973, he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident when a drunk driver hit him and his current girlfriend. She was killed and he lost his left arm and left leg. In a touching demonstration of support for him, both ex-wives did everything they could, including arranging benefits, in order to get him back to work. He did work sporadically, despite his life-changing injury, but was, understandably, never quite the same.

Then we have an update on the stormy divorce of Bette Davis and Gary Merrill as well as an indication that Bobby Darin's health was not the greatest. (He would be dead by 1973 at the age of thirty-seven.) There's also a mini-obituary for the recently deceased Peter Lorre.

The final page of her column catches us up on Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti's marital and child-bearing woes, speculation on Judy Garland and Sid Luft's relationship and ruminations on the art of campaigning for Oscar nominations, something that still raises eyebrows today (not to mention baffling people as to which approach works – lying low or getting your face out there. Both seem to create results!) We find out which costar of Grace Kelly's was her least favorite. We also get some reliable info on the impending romances of Cliff Robertson and Dina Merrill and Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda. Really, Sheilah's column includes a lot of things that turned out to be accurate. Good going!

At first glance, this next article seems surely to be one about the phenomenally successful musical group The Beatles. However, closer inspection reveals that it is actually a picture taken at a Screen Writer's Dinner in which four well-known actors donned wigs and parodied the hot singing foursome! A quartet whose members one doesn't immediately associate as being found together, they included Dick Van Dyke, Gene Barry, Jackie Cooper and Rock Hudson! They called themselves The Beverly Hillbeatles and were each redubbed with an O on the end of their name in "homage" to Beatle member Ringo Starr. (Note, too, that in 1964 to call someone Jackie-O had no special significance. It was a moniker still lingering in recent widow Jackie Kennedy's future.) It is because of oddities like this little article, of a now long-forgotten incident, that I love to stumble upon old magazines like this and see how things were back in the day.

There's also a two-page spread on the wealth of baby girls to be found in Tinseltown. That's not Sophia's own child, however, but her niece. In order to (later) have her two sons, Sophia would undergo horrendous complications and remain in bed for practically the entire durations of her pregnancies. They would be the source of much joy to her, however, as Carlo Jr. became an orchestra conductor and Edoardo a film director, both married with children of their own now.
On the opposite page, we see Andy Williams and his daughter Noelle. Andy's wife was little more than a dancer who acted a bit at this time, though a little over a decade later she would become infamous and splashed across the headlines of many periodicals. (See right) Nineteen year-old Claudine Longet married Andy in 1961 and they had three children together before divorcing in 1975. Then in 1976, she, one way or another, shot and killed her lover, skier Spider Sabich and stood trial, with Andy returning to her side. Despite this, she ended up marrying her defense attorney and serving her thirty-day jail sentence here and there, mostly on weekends, until it was complete. They remain married even now and reside in Aspen, Colorado.

We also meet little Mariska Hargitay who is now, of course, a television star in her own right, and Joan Collins' eldest daughter Tara Newley. Arlene Dahl was already in semi-retirement by this time, having backed away from acting somewhat after the birth of her son Lorenzo Lamas. This daughter, Carole, was by another husband, Christian Holmes, and they were already on their way to divorce court by the time of this publication. She would marry three more times (six husbands in all!) and have a third child by her fifth husband. At least the last husband, Marc Rosen, who she married in 1984, is still wed to her as I type!

Now. Here's a sort of odd thing, to me, anyway. The cover of the magazine says “We Go To Liz' Wedding.” That would sort of indicate that the wedding was to someone not particularly famous in his own right, wouldn't it? But, no, the wedding was Elizabeth Taylor's first wedding to Richard Burton! Liz and Dick! The world-famous couple whose romance shook the globe! He was not an unknown actor. It's really odd, but is also a testament to how, at least at this point, she was the dominant point of interest in all of this.

So who do you think was in attendance at the ceremony? I'm betting that the first two names to trip off your tongue are not the ones who were there. Try Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy! Cronyn had appeared in the epic Cleopatra, where Taylor and Burton had met and fallen for each other despite being married to others. He was appearing in Toronto (where the wedding took place) with Burton in a staging of Hamlet. Note how the text to the left continues to refer to "Liz Taylor's Wedding" as if Burton were just a mere part of it all!

The happy couple declared that there would be no more marriages, but of course this was not to be. Not only did they divorce in June of 1974 only to remarry in October of 1975 (divorcing again in July of 1976!), but they had another two spouses apiece after that. His last wife, Sally, survived him when he died in 1984. Liz's last husband, Larry Fortensky, was divorced from her in 1996 and she hasn't married again since that despite many rumors over the years.

Elizabeth's wedding ensemble, by the way, was a bit of a variation on one of the looks she sported in Cleopatra! A yellow chiffon dress with honeysuckle tucked into her hair, it was reminiscent of a similarly-hued gown she wore in the period epic which she had also paired with a floral headpiece.

There's a little spread on Miss Natalie Wood that fans of hers should enjoy. Most of them know how she loved to play with her hair, clothing and makeup and this blurb expresses that same notion, while also mentioning her industriousness at being and staying a star. The film before this was Love with the Proper Stranger (with Steve McQueen) and she was in the midst of Sex and the Single Girl (with Tony Curtis), with The Great Race to come the following year. She had been divorced from Robert Wagner for two years by now and would marry her second husband about five years after this.

Finally, there's this beautiful color set of Miss Ann-Margret, taken when she was in her painted, pouting, pussycat phase. Viva Las Vegas was under her belt (and elsewhere in the issue, her relationship with Elvis is speculated upon) with Kitten with a Whip on the horizon, soon to be followed by The Pleasure Seekers and Bus Reilly's Back in Town. It would be another seven years or so before her acting would begin to be appreciated over her physical assets. This spread was presented sideways across two pages. In case her fans wanted a copy of the larger photo in one piece, I soldered them together and that appears beneath on its own.

I'll be back in the future with more Fun Finds from my escapades around town. I hope you enjoyed this installment!


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