“Forgotten Hollywood”- Remembering Santa Claus Lane…

December 11th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Before there were malls and Amazon, holiday shoppers flocked to downtown and suburban retail districts, where shops and department stores lined busy streets. To attract the business, retailers in these districts banded together to transform these public spaces into flashy winter wonderlands.

“`Hollywood boasted one of the most elaborate Yuletide displays. Each November, beginning in 1928, extravagant holiday decorations transformed a mile stretch of Hollywood Blvd., between Vine and La Brea, into Santa Claus Lane.

“`The brainchild of businessman Harry Blaine of the Hollywood Boulevard Association, which promoted the area as the world’s largest department store. Santa Claus Lane attracted folks, luring them from downtown’s retail district with daily processions featuring a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and brightly decorated Christmas trees.

“`The first year, a 100 living firs were dug up from the forest near Big Bear, and placed along Hollywood Blvd. in wooden planters.  The trees lit the path for a nightly parade. Joined on his sleigh by a silver screen star, Santa Claus greeted the crowds with a team of six live reindeer pulling him down the boulevard. After New Year’s Day, the trees were planted on the grounds of the Hollywood Bowl.

“`In later years, metallic decorations replaced the living trees. Drawings of film stars smiled at shoppers from the center of tin wreaths hung from lamp posts. Whimsical, shiny toy Christmas trees blinked with colorful lights. Organizers boasted  Hollywood Blvd. was the most brightly lit street in the nation.

“`To complete the wintertime transformation,  Hollywood Blvd. took on a new name. For one month, signs at intersections read Santa Claus Lane, and merchants updated their addresses to reflect the temporary name change.

“`Though the elaborate decorations are no more,  Santa Claus Lane gave birth to a Tinseltown tradition. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce turned the Santa Claus procession into an annual extravaganza; renamed the Hollywood Christmas Parade in 1931. Grand marshal Gene Autry memorably rode on horseback just paces in front of the parade’s main star, singing Here Comes Santa Claus. It became a major hit.

“`Happy Holidays!!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Breaking the Silence…

December 6th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`A mega-producer engages with a beautiful blonde actress for an afternoon meeting. It turns out to be a ruse, which includes the executive to unzip his pants and force the budding star on the couch.  She will not cooperate with any of this encounter and storms out of the office. The year was 1943. The parties involved… Producer Darryl F. Zanuck and Judy Holliday (below).

“`Holliday helped pave the way to this current moment by standing up to sexist, entitled bullies. She was not the first. However, Judy’s story will be told in a new production entitled Smart Blonde; a reference to Holliday’s IQ of 172.  The project screenwriter Willy Holtzman acquired the rights to share her personal life from her son Jonathan Oppenheim. He optioned it to producer Gene Kirkwood. Holtzman is an executive producer of the film and Kirkwood will finance and shop it.

“`No director is attached. Yet, given the subject matter, it seems fitting for a woman to helm the project. It wouldn’t feel right if only men collaborated on a tale about a woman standing up for herself and fighting sexual harassment, no matter the professional cost.

“`Holliday won an Oscar in 1951 for Born Yesterday, an adaptation of the Broadway play. She also appeared in  Adam’s Rib, Bells are Ringing, and It Should Happen to You. An early champion was Katharine Hepburn. She spoke before the House Un-American Activities Committee, testifying about her communist connections in 1952. Judy died of breast cancer, two weeks before her 44th birthday in 1965.

“`I was inspired to write this blog by today’s reveal by Time Magazine that the 2017 Person of the Year are The Silence Breakers; people who have globally shared collective experiences of sexual harassment and assault. TIME got this selection right in my humble estimation.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Unearthing Film History…

December 3rd, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Archaeologists working in sand dunes on the central California coast have just unearthed an intact plaster sphinx part of an Egyptian movie set built over ninety years ago for Cecil B DeMille’s epic movie The Ten Commandments. The 300-pound sphinx is the second recovered from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.

“`Dunes Center Executive Director Doug Jenzen told a Santa Barbara television news station it’s unlike other items found in previous discoveries because most of it is preserved with the original paint intact. The set of the 1923 movie included 20-plus sphinxes. After filming, DeMille ordered everything buried in the dunes, about 175 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

“`They lay undisturbed for decades before recovery efforts began. The newly recovered sphinx is expected to go on display at the dunes-area museum next summer.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Visit to Hollywood Heritage Museum

December 2nd, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`On December 2nd, I am making my annual pilgrimage to Hollywood Heritage Museum  for an Afternoon with the Authors. There will be plenty of opportunities to pick up gifts, and avoid the holiday crowds between 12p-4p. Here are the details:

“`Stop by and pick up autographed copies of my Forgotten Hollywood Book Series. The Hollywood Heritage Museum is right across the street from the Hollywood Bowl.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Orange County News…

December 1st, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`As an Orange County, California resident, I am always delighted to be part of the fabric of neighboring locales. Here are some recent inclusions:


~ My Forgotten Hollywood Book Series are available for purchase at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton. This is one of those wonderfully upscale locations that can be visited by any Southern California resident. On a small scale, it resembles what the Hearst Castle represents in Northern California.

“`Commissioned at an original cost of $35,000, the Muckenthaler home was built by Walter and Adella Muckenthaler in 1924 on a hill in Fullerton. The 18-room, 8.5-acre mansion was donated to the city in 1965 by Harold Muckenthaler, who wished to see his childhood home used as a cultural center for the public.

“`In 1999, the Muckenthaler was offered a designation by the National Register  of Historic Places. In its 52nd season, the Muck offers over sixty performances, gallery exhibits, fests, and additional special events; and art education classes, serving more than 41,000 people every year.

~   ~   ~ 

~ If you reside in O.C., let me invite you to the 23rd Annual Tamale Festival in Placentia on December 6th from 4p-9p.  I will be manning a booth with my Forgotten Hollywood Book Series to autograph; plus, other cinema-related goodies that would make wonderful holiday gifts for loved ones.

“`The street fest is located along the 100-200 block of Santa Fe Ave.  It’s a family-friendly event, which includes food booths, neighborhood shops, and live entertainment. Stop on by!!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Goodbye To Gomer…

November 30th, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`Jim Nabors was a comedian and singer, who is best remembered for his portrayal of a lovable rube on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. Later in life, he also sang Back Home Again in Indiana to start the Indianapolis 500, every year from 1972 until his final live appearance in 2014.

“`Nabors was far more than just an actor.  As a crooner, he recorded over twenty albums, several of which went Gold, including 1966’s Jim Nabors Sings Love Me With All Your Heart.  His record, The Heart Touching Magic of Jim Nabors, went Platinum in 1980.            JIM NABORS —>

“`He began his career has a film cutter at NBC. Many evenings, Nabors sang at a local Santa Monica club, and he was discovered by Steve Allen and Bill Dana.  His Alabama alter-ego was in stark contrast to a rich baritone singing style that were on display in the popular Mayberry sitcom; and variety programs, such as The Danny Kaye Showand beginning each season of The Carol Burnett Show. He guest-starred on The Smothers Brothers Comedy HourI’m Dickens He’s FensterThe RookiesThe Lucy Show, The Dean Martin ShowThe Sonny and Cher Comedy HourThe Love Boat,  Knight RiderThe Flip Wilson Show; and for three seasons, Nabors also hosted his own variety program.

“`Forging a friendship with Burt Reynolds, he co-starred in three of his films: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace, and Cannonball Run II. Jim also made his theatrical debut as  Harold Hill in The Music Man, opposite Florence Henderson, at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre.  He continued earning high salaries in Las Vegas showrooms and in concert theaters across the country. He also sang with the Dallas and St. Louis symphony orchestras.

“`He received honors from his home state of Alabama,  from his current residence in Hawaii, and a Star along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The Marine Corps awarded Jim several honorary promotions within their ranks at various times in his career.

“`Jim Nabors was 87.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Rat-a-Tat-Tat…

November 29th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Police at Bridgwater Station in Somerset, England held a weapons amnesty, and were quite stunned after a fellow handed in Clint Eastwood’s MP40 machine gun that he used in the flick  Where Eagles Dare.  Officers say the German prop was dropped off at the police station by an unnamed male who worked in the film industry.


“`He told cops the MP40 sub-machine gun was used by the actor in the movie while dressed as a Nazi.  More interesting items of value including Eastwood’s weapon will go to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.  Also collected:  A dozen World War II handguns, including a Colt .45; a Walther P38; and a Russian semi-automatic Tokarev were also collected by Avon and Somerset police.

“`The force received 220 weapons during an amnesty, which started on November 13th and ended on November 26th. In the United Kingdom, guns are highly regulated. Amnesties are regularly held by law enforcement as citizens can turn in illegal hardware without facing any penalties. The majority of the weapons collected will be destroyed.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- It’s a Wonderful Honky-Tonk…

November 28th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Dateline:  The outskirts of Chicago…

“`Once you’ve revisited the cinematic depiction of Bedford Falls in It’s A Wonderful Life, you will be able to have a cocktail in a pop-up bar that recreates the movie’s post-World War II-era charm. Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn (off the Oak Park Blue Line exit) is turning their side bar into a recreation of Nick’s; the rough-and-tumble pub that exists in the alternate universe of Bedford Falls where George Bailey was never born.


“`They will feature an antique cash register, complete with a bell awarding angels with their wings; impromptu sing-alongs to Auld Lang Syne; and a raffle at the end of each evening, with tickets drawn from a giant wicker basket.

“`Bartenders serve a menu of cocktails inspired by It’s A Wonderful Life that are available in the tavern. These creations include the Flaming Rum Punch ordered by the guardian angel Clarence Odbody, and a drink called Zu-Zu’s Petals.  Just like Nick’s depicted in the flick, the bar will also serve hard drinks for men who want to get drunk fast.

“`The It’s A Wonderful Lifethemed pop-up bar takes over Fitzgerald’s every Wednesday in December beginning at 5p.  Show up early to listen to a jazz ensemble performing holiday standards; and perhaps a version of Buffalo Gals. Stick around to watch It’s A Wonderful Life in all of its black-and-white glory at 8p; with no commercial interruptions, of course.

“`Another banner day at the Bailey Building-and-Loan so to speak.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- An Unassuming Classic…

November 26th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Warner Brothers churned out hundreds of motion pictures in the 1940s; many of which, became bona fide cinematic classics.  Filmmakers, actors, and crew with formidable credentials often predicted the success or failure of an individual movie for which they were involved.

“`One particular production was immersed with delays, rewrites and casting issues. The leads were to include Dennis Morgan and Ann Sheridan. Another actor demanded more screen time despite his third billing; and the fact, he gets the girl at the conclusion of the story. The villain received the largest salary despite his lower billing.  Plus, the screenplay stubbornly remained unfinished until the very last moment.

“`The female star hated her involvement with the movie; opting instead to spend her waking hours working at home on another script. That effort on For Whom the Bell Tolls led to an Oscar nomination.

“`The only members of the International cast that enjoyed the experience were those recently escaping a Nazism engulfing their own European homelands.  A sort of camaraderie emerged, and pleasant tales of the Old Country were swapped.  The supporting players were singular in their foresight over the success of this particular production. They were convinced these were the roles of a lifetime. And, their uniform analysis proved correct.

“`The screenplay was based on a play never produced called Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Allison. Their script fortuitously landed on the desk of a story analyst at Warner Brothers on December 8th, 1941; the day after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

“`Although an initial release date was anticipated for early 1943, the film premiered at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on November 26th, 1942, to coincide with the Allied invasion of North Africa.  It proceeded into general release on January 23rd, 1943, to take advantage of a high-level meeting between Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Morocco.

“`Here’s looking at Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, S. Z. Sakall,  Sydney Greenstreet, Conrad Veidt, and John Qualen. A Happy 75th Anniversary to the three-time Oscar-winner (my all-time favorite motion picture)… Casablanca.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Howard’s End…

November 25th, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`Rance Howard was an actor, and the father of actor and filmmaker Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard. He guided his children’s career while in their youth. After Ron co-starred in  The Music Man and The Andy Griffith Show in the early 1960s, Rance had guest parts in a few episodes of the show.  The elder Howard was best known for his recurring role in the 1960s show Gentle Ben. The program starred his son Clint; plus, a large bear.    RANCE HOWARD with sons —>

“`His professional acting career began in 1948 when he traveled to New York City. The stage play role that got him noticed for television and movie, while he was in a touring company of Mister Roberts with Henry Fonda in 1950 portraying the character Lindstrom for 18 months in major cities across the United States.

“`Both Rance and oldest son Ron, who was two at the time, made their feature film debuts in the 1956 western Frontier Woman. His cinematic career included roles in Cool Hand Luke, Chinatown, A Beautiful MindParenthoodApollo 13Independence DayThe Paper, Frost / Nixon, Splash, CocoonCinderella Man,  How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Ed Woodand Nebraska.

“`On television, he guest-starred on  Kraft TheatreThe F.B.I., That Girl, The Virginian, Bat Masterson, Seinfeld, Melrose Place, CoachThe Waltons, DynastyHappy Days, Little House on the Prairie, Gunsmoke, Murder She Wrote, ERLaverne and Shirley, Battlestar Galactica, Mork and Mindy, Baywatch, Quantum Leap, Diagnosis Murder, Married…With Children, Kung Fu, Night Gallery, Bonanza, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Thornbirds.

“`Rance Howard was 89.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- It’s a Wonderful Jalopy…

November 24th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`The car famously crashed by Jimmy Stewart in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life is to be featured on New Year’s Day. The black 1919 Dodge Brothers Touring Car will be driven five miles through the streets of Pasadena, CA, during this year’s Rose Parade on January 1st. The automobile was memorably run into a tree by George Bailey in the 1946 flick.

                                        JAMES STEWART     DONNA REED

“`The owner, Keith Smith of Johnstown, CO, who restored it two decades ago before buying the vehicle in 2010, will drive the classic auto down the parade route. Smith’s bride will ride along as a passenger.

“`This week, Rudy Castro, a representative for the parade, traveled to Colorado to check the condition of the vehicle, which will be one of five at the parade. The car will be collected next week; and the Smiths are to be flown to California on December 26th.

“`A Christmas favorite,  It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most loved movies in American cinema. Nominated for five Academy Awards, Frank Capra’s production was ranked #11 in the American Film Institute’s list of of the 100 Best American Films; and named the most inspirational provincial motion pictures of all time.

“`Every penny raised by the recent use of the car through photo shoots and fundraisers has gone to veteran’s charities; a truly noble jalopy.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- JFK’s Centennial Legacy…

November 23rd, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`A year of events marking the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth drew to a close, 54 years after his assassination by  Lee Harvey Oswald, during that fateful day in Dallas on November. 22nd, 1963. It was the end of what Jackie Kennedy labeled Camelot.

“`National park rangers laid wreaths outside Kennedy’s childhood home in Brookline, Massachusetts; plus a 21-gun salute by an honor guard. These observances were held at  John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site; and administered by the National Park Service. Folks of all ages attended the somber event.

“`The nation’s 35th President was born in the Boston suburb on May 29th, 1917. Over the past year, numerous conferences and other events have been held, worldwide, to examine JFK’s legacy, and imagine his impact had he survived.

“`As we reflect… The Jack Kennedy legacy lives on; a martyr brandishing an eternal flame at Arlington National Cemetery. You can almost imagine Jon Jon saluting his fallen father.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Bon Appetit!

November 22nd, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`A new photo exhibition at California’s Napa Valley Museum Yountville documents Julia Child’s life in France in the years before she hosted one of America’s most popular television cooking shows. Mention her name and the image that comes to mind is a tall woman with a spoon in one hand, saying in a high voice… Bon appetit!

“`Child, a graduate of Smith College, worked during World War II for the agency that was a predecessor of the CIA. In 1946, she married Paul Child, who worked as a cultural attache at the United States embassy in France, while his wife learned to cook at the famed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, subsequently studying with several famous chefs.

“`This time of her life was documented by Paul Child. France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child is an exhibit inspired and will be shown in conjunction with the release of a new book France is a Feast by Paul’s great-nephew, Alex Prud’homme; and Katie Pratt, a longtime friend, who also curated the exhibit.

“`The exhibit features 60 rarely seen black-and-white photographs taken between 1948 and 1954, along with notes, logs, letters, and a Rolleiflex camera Paul Child used, because it allowed him to capture folks in candid poses.

“`France is a Feast – Julia Child photo exhibition through February 18th at Napa Valley Museum Yountville, 55 President Circle, Yountville, CA; http://www.napavalleymuseum.org, or 707-944-0500. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11a – 4p. Adults: $10. Plans are under way to take the exhibit to 10 other cities.


<— DAVID CASSIDY was an actor, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and teen idol, who is best remembered for his co-starring role in The Partridge Family. The clan had a #1 hit song, I Think I Love You. His father was actor Jack Cassidy; and step-brother is Shaun Cassidy. David’s step-mother is Oscar-winning actress Shirley Jones.

“`He also guest-starred on The Mod SquadAdam-12, IronsideBonanza, Marcus Welby M.D., Medical Center, The F.B.I., The Love Boat, and Fantasy Island. Cassidy’s performance on Police Story earned him an Emmy nomination.

“`Cassidy’s other hit was The Partridge Family theme, Come On Get Happy. The program aired from 1970 – 1974, and was fictionally based on the 1960s performers, The Cowsills. He musically collaborated with The Beach Boys and George Michael.  Later, he also starred in the original 1982 Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

“`He final years were spent suffering with legal and health problems. David Cassidy was 67.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Oldest Obsession…

November 21st, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`A fast-talkin’ scoundrel conveys his wry message with confident revivalist overtones. His recitation on morality is embraced as he traverses small town America, where religion is celebrated in every-day life.  He achieves the pinnacle of his chosen profession only to be taken down in a scandalous collapse by his sordid past. Yet, he shall survive to fight another day. I’m not referring to today’s cultural and political climate that is fittingly condemning indiscretions based on a good-ole boys nature of power. I instead reference the 1960 classic, Elmer Gantry.

“`The film is based on a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis in 1926 that presents aspects of religious activity in middle-America in fundamentalist and evangelist circles, and the nature of the 1920s public at-large. The yarn’s anti-hero is initially attracted by liquor, easy bankrolls, and libertine women. After various forays into evangelism, he becomes a successful Methodist minister despite his behavioral hypocrisy and serial sexual escapades.

“`On publication in 1927, Elmer Gantry created a public furor. The book was banned in Boston, and other towns, and denounced from pulpits across the United States.  A cleric suggested that Lewis should be imprisoned for five years, and there were also threats of physical violence against the writer. Evangelist Billy Sunday called Lewis: Satan’s cohort.

“`This explosive movie earned Burt Lancaster and Shirley Jones well-deserved Academy Awards. The film also co-starred Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy, Dean Jagger, and Patti Page.  The character of Sharon Falconer was based on the career of Canadian-born, radio evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who formed the Pentecostal Christian denomination known as International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in 1927.

“`The female characters in this tale are clearly victimized, and react at the pleasure of the male protagonist. The fire-and-brimstone overtones add to Elmer’s ferocity in his quest for providing wholesale deliverance for an exacting price; his sordid behavior, notwithstanding.

The movie ends in an ironic twist, with the sudden, if convenient, repentance of Gantry. Quoting 1 Corinthians 13:11 in an impromptu revival, he is circumspect as he moves on. Incidentally, this production begs for a screenplay sequel that was never penned.

“`Today’s toxic nationalism is rooted from analysis in the cinema of the 1960s; and candid writings of insightful scribes of the 1920s, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, H.G. Wells, and of course, Sinclair Lewis. Remember this, as 2017 professional careers are suddenly destroyed; women are magnificently empowered; and as you vote for candidates campaigning for entrance into the nation’s body-politic. Vetting is recommended.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Remembering Della Reese…

November 20th, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`Della Reese was a nightclub,  jazz, gospel, and pop singer; film and television actress; and one-time talk-show host. Her career spanned six decades. She also appeared as a guest on several talk shows,  and as a panelist on numerous game shows. She’s best known for her starring role in Touched By an Angel, which lasted a decade.

“`As a youngster, Della was influenced by the films of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Lena Horne. Her first brush with entertainment was when she established a gospel group in 1947.

“`Reese was discovered by the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and her big break came when she won a contest, which gave her a week to sing at Detroit’s well-known Flame Show Bar. Reese remained there for eight weeks. Although her roots were in gospel music, she became influenced by such famous crooners as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan.  In 1953, she signed a contract with Jubilee Records and recorded I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Time After Time and the chart-topping And That Reminds Me. Martha Reeves named her group The Vandellas, in honor of her favorite singer, Della Reese.

“`Though a promising singer, her biggest splash was in television.  After hosting her own talk show, Della was the first Black woman to guest-host The Tonight Show, filling in for Johnny Carson. She guest-starred on many programs, including  Medical CenterThe Mod Squad, Police Woman, Sanford and Son, Night Court, Vega$MacGyverChico and the Man, Welcome Back Kotter,  The Love Boat, L. A. Law,  Designing Women, Picket Fences, and  McCloud. Della starred in television movies, and had a role on the daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless. Reese also had a small cinematic career.

“`She became an ordained minister in 1980. In 2005, Reese was honored by Oprah Winfrey at her Legends Ball ceremony along with 25 other black women. Della never won a major award. However, she did accomplish something in her career that was the envy of many performers — longevity.

“`Della Reese was 86.

Until next time>                               “never forget”