31 March 2015

Love, Shirley Temple



Shirley Temple, America's sweetheart and Hollywood's biggest box-office star from 1935 to 1938, worked together with sound mixer Shelby Chapman on four of her films. Here is a note Shirley wrote to Chapman when he was in hospital. Dated probably around 1935 when Shirley was at the height of her popularity, it reads:

Both images courtesy of heritage auctions
Transcript:

dear Mr. Chapman

I am sorry that you got hurt.
I hope you will be well for my next picture,

love
Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple 'signing' her first film contract in 1932 at age three.

26 March 2015

Bette Davis' letter to her daughter

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford both had daughters who wrote spiteful books about them. Joan's daughter Christina is the author of "Mommie Dearest" (1978) and Bette's daughter B.D. Hyman wrote "My Mother's Keeper" (1985), both 'tell-all' books in which the actresses are painted as terrible mothers. But while Joan died before her daughter's book was published and was unable to defend herself, Bette was still alive when "My Mother's Keeper" came out. In 1987, two years before her death, she struck back in her second memoir "This 'n That", ending the book with a letter to her daughter.

Dear Hyman,
You ended your book with a letter to me. I have decided to do the same.
There is no doubt you have a great potential as a writer of fiction. You have always been a great storyteller. I have often, lo these many years, said to you, “BD, that is not the way it was. You are imagining things.”  
Many of the scenes in your book I have played on the screen. It could be you have confused the “me” on the screen with “me” who is your mother.
I have violent objections to your quotes of mine regarding actors I have worked with. For the most part, you have cruelly misquoted me. Ustinov I was thrilled to work with and I have great admiration of him as a person and as an actor.
You have stated correctly my reactions to working with Faye Dunaway. She was a most exasperating co-star. But to quote me as having said Sir Laurence Olivier was not a good actor is most certainly one of the figments of your imagination. Few actors have ever reached the towering heights of his performances.
You constantly inform people that you wrote this book to help me understand you and your way of life better. Your goal was not reached. I am now utterly confused as to who you are or what your way of life is.
The sum total of your having written this book is a glaring lack of loyalty and thanks for the very privileged life I feel you have been given.
In one of your many interviews while publicising your book, you said if you sell your book to TV you feel Glenda Jackson should play me. I would hope you would be courteous enough to ask me to play myself.
I have much to quarrel about in your book. I choose to ignore most of it. But not the pathetic creature you claim I have been because of the fact that I did not play Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. I could have, but turned it down. Mr Selznick attempted to get permission from my boss, Jack Warner, to borrow Errol Flynn and Bette Davis to play Rhett Butler and Scarlett. I refused because I felt Errol was not good casting for Rhett. At that time only Clark Gable was right. Therefore, dear Hyman, send me not back to Tara, rather send me back to Witch Way, our home on the beautiful coast of Maine where once lived a beautiful human being by the name of BD, not Hyman.
As you ended your letter in My Mother’s Keeper – it’s up to you now, Ruth Elizabeth – I am ending my letter to you the same way: It’s up to you now, Hyman.
Ruth Elizabeth
P.S. I hope someday I will understand the title My Mother’s Keeper. If it refers to money, if my memory serves me right, I’ve been your keeper all these many years. I am continuing to do so, as my name has made your book about me a success.
Via: telegraph/ original source: "This 'n That" by Bette Davis, Michael Herskowitz (1987).
Bette Davis gave birth to Barbara Davis (B.D.) Sherry in 1947 at age 39. B.D. is a child from Bette's third marriage to artist William Grant Sherry and her only biological child (she would adopt two more children while married to actor Gary Merrill). Due to B.D.'s controversial book, Bette disinherited her daughter and grandchildren.

24 March 2015

A recognition for your zeal and enthusiasm

On 12 April 1926, Clara Bow signed her first contract with Paramount earning $750 per week. After the immediate success of "Mantrap" released in July of that same year, Bow's contract was renewed into a five-year deal and her weekly salary more than doubled to $1,700 (it would eventually rise to $4,000 per week in the last year). Her roles in the 1927 hits "It" and "Wings" made Bow Paramount's number one star and biggest box-office draw, and as a reward the studio decided to give her a salary raise in August 1928, earlier than was agreed upon in their contract. Bow was to receive $2,837 per week, becoming the highest paid actress in Hollywood (several sources, including Imdb, say that Bow earned as much as $35,000 per week, but that is today's equivalent of her actual salary). Shown below is the 1928 contract which informed Bow of her salary raise and why she deserved it: 

Image courtesy of profiles in history

Transcript:

August 15, 1928

Miss Clara Bow,
Hollywood, Calif.

Dear Miss Bow:

This is to inform you that we have decided to commence payment to you of salary at the rate of $2837.00 per week, the salary set forth in our agreement with you dated August 16, 1926, as the salary payable to you during the next option period thereof, on August 16, 1928, instead of on October 11, 1928, which is the date of the commencement of said next option period.

Our purpose of granting you the additional compensation herein provided, beyond the compensation provided for by our said agreement with you is to give you substantial recognition for your zeal and enthusiasm in the service of the company.

It is understood  and agreed between us that the agreement dated August 16, 1926, between you and this Corporation, is in all respects ratified and confirmed, and that the inducements hereby held out are not intended to vary the terms of the said agreement, and when accepted by you shall be considered further and additional consideration for all your undertakings contained in the said agreement of August 16, 1926.

Kindly sign under the word "Accepted" below and return this letter for our files, retaining the enclosed duplicate original. 

Yours very truly,
PARAMOUNT FAMOUS LASKY CORPORATION
BY: (signed J.J. Gain)
Executive Manager

ACCEPTED:
(signed Clara Bow)

21 March 2015

Forgive me if I was rude or thoughtless

Here's a short note from Robert Taylor to Ginger Rogers who dated somewhere in the 1930s. Their dating was probably instigated by MGM (Taylor's studio) who wanted Taylor to be seen as a man-about-town, and Ginger Rogers was just one of the several women he went out with (according to Victoria Wilson, "A Life of Barbara Stanwyck", 2013). Taylor's note to Rogers is a note of apology. I'm not sure when and why it was written, but apparently Rogers had missed out on a great party and Taylor was the cause of her missing it (perhaps he had promised to take her and later changed his mind?) At any rate, Taylor's handwritten note can be seen below.

Transcript:

Dear Ginger-

From all reports the party Saturday night was a wonderful one. I can't tell you how sorry I am for being even partially the cause of your missing it.
You do understand, I know, the reasons responsible for my sudden reversal -- and I hope you will forgive me if I was rude or thoughtless.

Fondly, 
Bob

17 March 2015

I do not believe your trip was "ill-advised, even foolish"

In 1947, the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began its investigations into communism in Hollywood and subpoenaed suspected communists to appear before the committee in late October. Scheduled to testify were ten 'unfriendly' witnesses who became later known as the Hollywood Ten

In support of the Hollywood Ten and to protest the HUAC investigations, a group of prominent Hollywood figures formed the Committee for the First Amendment (CFA) and flew to Washington on 27 October 1947. The CFA delegation included big names like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Huston, Ira Gershwin, Gene Kelly and Danny Kaye, and their goal was to defend the First Amendment rights of their accused colleagues. However, what had begun as a hopeful trip ended dramatically. During the hearings it became clear that the Hollywood Ten were indeed communists --a fact unbeknownst to the CFA-- and soon CFA members were regarded with suspicion too ("They [the press] thought we must be Communists, or sympathetic to Communism, or incredibly naive. We came home sadder... We had certainly learned a good deal about pressure politics and distortion of our purpose", said Marsha Hunt, a member of the delegation [source]).

In Washington, October 1947-- above: Richard Conte, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall; below: Bogie and John Huston.
Back in Hollywood, press coverage of the CFA grew increasingly negative and ultimately caused public opinion to turn against them (especially when it became known that one of CFA's members, Sterling Hayden, had been a member of the Communist Party). Consequently, Humphrey Bogart --the biggest star of the delegation-- was pressured by his studio Warner Bros. to distance himself from the Hollywood Ten. Furious about everything that had happened and feeling he had been duped into supporting the Ten, Bogie eventually caved and sent a statement to the press saying that the Washington trip had been "ill-advised, even foolish". Bogie's statement and his subsequent article "I'm no Communist" in Photoplay from March 1948 (read here) earned him much criticism from his liberal friends who felt that he was selling out in order to save his career. It is said that Bogie later regretted his decision to recant and that he never forgave himself.

Below you'll find Bogie's statement to the press along with a letter from Democratic Congressman Chet Holifield to Bogie, written on 9 December 1947 as a reaction to the actor's statement. Two weeks earlier, on 24 November, the Hollywood Ten had been cited for contempt of Congress --they were later blacklisted and sent to jail-- and Holifield was one of the 17 congressmen who had voted against the contempt citation. Having stood for his principles, Holifield tells Bogie he shouldn't be ashamed to stand for his and assures him that his trip to Washington was neither ill-advised nor foolish.

"My recent trip to Washington, where I appeared with a group of motion-picture people, has become the subject of such confused and erroneous interpretations, that I feel the situation should be clarified.

I am not a Communist. I am not a Communist sympathizer. I detest communism just as any other decent American does. I have never in my life been identified with any group which was even sympathetic to communism. My name will not be found on any Communist front organization nor as a sponsor of anything communistic.

I went to Washington because I felt fellow Americans were being deprived of their constitutional rights, and for that reason alone.

That the trip was ill-advised, even foolish, I am very ready to admit. At the time it seemed the thing to do.

I have absolutely no use for communism nor for anyone who serves that philosophy. I am an American. And very likely, like a good many of the rest of you, sometimes a foolish and impetuous American."

Source: The Milwaukee Journal from 3 December 1947, one of the newspapers that published Bogie's statement.


Transcript:

December 9, 1947

Mr. Humphrey Bogart,
c/o Warner Brothers Studio,
Hollywood, Los Angeles County,
California.

Dear Humphrey:

The Associated Press news dispatch of December 3rd quotes you in part as saying, "I went to Washington because I thought fellow Americans were being deprived of their constitutional rights, and for that reason alone. That the trip was ill-advised, even foolish, I am very ready to admit. At the time it seemed the thing to do."

Because of the above quotes, which I assume are accurate, I have decided to write you a letter. I do not wish to criticize you for the above statement, as I am not aware of the pressure which may have been brought to bear upon you by your employers, and possibly upon others who joined with you in the Washington trip.  As one who has had quite a bit of political and business experience, I understand how pressure can be applied. From my conversations with you and others in your group, I am sure you believe in the fundamental principles of American justice and fair play. I am also sure that your group is anti-communist. Had I not believed your group was composed of sincere people as qualified above, I would not have given you my time and advice in trying to help you do a fine, courageous and American act. I do not believe your trip was "ill-advised, even foolish". Regardless of the surrender which was concentrated on the movie industry through the dictatorial and abusive procedures of the Committee on Un-American Activities, your trip to Washington received publicity throughout the United States on behalf of the sacred principles of civil liberties contained in the First Amendment. Regardless of the criticism or pressure you received, you stood for great principles and you have nothing of which to be ashamed.

When we fight for that which we believe to be right, we are not contaminated because the blessings preserved by those rights are showered upon the just and unjust alike. When a great principle is involved, it must be decided on the basis of justice regardless of the benefits which may accrue to those who may be unworthy of receiving them.

Seventeen Members of Congress stood alone and dared to fight against the three hundred forty six members who bowed to pressure from many sources. Among those seventeen were Jews, Catholics and Protestants. As fine, loyal Americans who are definitely anti-communist, they placed the welfare of the United States first in their consideration of values. They placed the precious civil liberties which form the basis of our Democratic Constitutional Government as the most important preserving factor in constitutional government. None of us are naive politically. We all realized that political antagonists misconsture [sic] our actions and include us in the red smear which will be the chief weapon in the coming campaign against liberal, progressive, American candidates. We, therefore, placed our political careers, our reputations, and our salaries in jeopardy for the protection of the great principles which are contained in the First Amendment and which we believed to be in jeopardy.

I write this letter to you, not in censure, but in the hope that the brief acquaintance I had with your fine group may be extended into the future. I write for the purpose of re-assuring you that your trip was neither "ill-advised, even foolish". It may have been impetuous, but it was a spontaneous action grounded firmly in the desire to protect the basic principles which mean the difference between any form of totalitarianism and our own beloved Democracy.

Kindly convey my best regards to the members of your group.

Sincerely yours,
(signed)
CHET HOLIFIELD, M.C.

Danny Kaye, June Havoc, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall at the HUAC hearings. Despite its good intentions, the CFA proved ineffective and disintegrated after the blacklisting of the Hollywood Ten.
Top photos-- left: Congressman Chet Holifield; right: John Huston (standing), Humphrey Bogart and Danny Kaye (and a few others I don't recognise). Bottom photo: Paul Henreid, Lauren Bacall, Kaye and Bogie having just arrived in Washington for the hearings.

14 March 2015

Clifton, our deepest sympathy

Clifton Webb lived with his mother Mabelle almost his entire life. She was the centre of his universe, and the two were inseparable (Webb would take his mother everywhere: to dinner parties, movie premieres, on vacation etc.). When Mabelle died in 1960 at age 91, Webb's world collapsed and he became inconsolable. His uncontrolled and incessant grieving made playwright and close friend Noel Coward write in his diary a few months after Mabelle's death: "Poor Clifton [..] is still, after two months, wailing and sobbing over Maybelle's death. As she was well over ninety, gaga, and had driven him mad for years, this seems excessive and over indulgent. He arrives here on Monday and I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas. Poor, poor Clifton. I am, of course, deeply sorry for him but he must snap out of it" [via]. Well, 'snap out of it' Webb never did. He would never get over his mother's death and make only one more movie, "Satan never sleeps" (1962). The remainder of his life --he died six years later at age 76-- Webb would spend in relative seclusion while struggling with his health.

Photos above: (left) Clifton Webb and his mother Mabelle; (right) a photograph taken at one of the Webbs' many Hollywood dinner parties with standing from left to right: Basil Rathbone, David Niven, director Gregory Ratoff, and seated: Heather Angel, Merle Oberon, Ouida Rathbone and Mabelle Webb. Photos below: Mary Pickford (with husband actor Buddy Rogers), Fred Astaire and Jack Warner-- the letter writers for this post. 
Once the news of Mabelle's death became known, Clifton Webb's friends and colleagues started sending their letters of sympathy. Below you'll find three such letters-- written by Mary Pickford (who also talks about the death of her mother-in-law), Fred Astaire and Warner Bros. studio head Jack Warner.

source

Transcript:

November 2, 1960

Dear Clifton,

Buddy and I felt very sad to learn of beloved Mabel's passing. We both know only too well the pain of parting and the void that is left when someone we love has left us, as Buddy lost his darling mother the same week as you lost yours.

I will always remember Mabel, that charming and gay laugh of hers.

Mrs. Rogers, fortunately for her, did not suffer a long illness, with the result that it was a shock to her family, her going so quickly.

Buddy, like you, always was a wonderful son and this knowledge should be a source of comfort to you both. Both Buddy's mother and yours were singularly fortunate in sharing the interesting and full lives of their sons.

We both send you our love and sympathy.

Yours affectionately,

Mary (signed)

Mr. Clifton Webb
1005 N. Rexford Dr.
Beverly Hills, Calif.

source
Transcript:

Tues.

Dear Clifton:-

Just a line to express my deepest heartfelt sympathy.

As ever sincerely-
Fred

source
Transcript:

October 18, 1960

Dear Clifton:

Words are futile to describe our feelings at this time. We loved your mother very much and appreciated the warm spot she had in her heart for us.

The only condolence you can have is that she was a wonderful woman.

Ann joins me in sending our love.

Jack (signed)

Mr. Clifton Webb
1005 N. Rexford Dr.
Beverly Hills, Calif.

Images of all three letters courtesy of Heritage Auctions

11 March 2015

Taking care of James Dean's cat

In September 1955, as filming of "Giant" (1956) was coming to an end, James Dean got a Siamese kitten from co-star Elizabeth Taylor whom he had befriended during the film's shooting. He named the cat Marcus, after his cousin. When Dean went to Salinas, California, on 30 September 1955 to participate in a car racing competition, he needed somebody to look after Marcus. His friend, actress Jeanette Doty (whom Dean had formerly dated), had agreed to take him, and the night before he left Dean visited her to bring the cat over. Along with Marcus, Dean also gave Jeanette a note with instructions how to feed and care for him. Dean would never be back to pick up Marcus. On his way to Salinas he died after crashing his Porsche.

Jeanette Doty and James Dean (playing drunk) at the popular nightclub Ciro's. Photo by Dennis Stock.
Image: heritage auctions (reproduced with permission)

Transcript:

1 teaspoon white Karo
1 big can evaporated milk
equal part boiled water or
distilled water
1 egg yoke [sic]
mix and chill

Don't feed him meat or formula cold.

1 drop vitamen [sic] solution per day

Take Marcus to Dr. Cooper on Melrose for shots next week


8 March 2015

From Boss to Conkshell

During the 1930s, Katharine Hepburn and film- and business tycoon Howard Hughes had a relationship that lasted more than two years. They met in June 1935 during production of "Sylvia Scarlett", when Hughes had been invited to lunch by his friend Cary Grant (Hepburn's co-star). While initially unimpressed with Hughes' bravado manner, Hepburn eventually fell for him and began an affair with him a year later. In her autobiography "Me. Stories of My Life" (1991), Hepburn talks about their relationship: "We were a colorful pair. It seemed logical for us to be together, but it seems to me now that we were too similar. He came from the right street, so to speak. And so did I. We'd been brought up in ease. [...] I look back at our relationship and I think that we were both cool customers. He could do anything he wanted. And when I decided to move East, I think he thought, Well, I don't want to move East. I'll find someone who will stay West. I always thought it was lucky that we never married- two people who are used to having their own way should stay separate." 

Howard Hughes and Katharine Hepburn (shown above in Hughes' airplane) were resp. 29 and 27 years old when they met. Apart from being Hepburn's boyfriend, Hughes would also prove instrumental to her career. After Hepburn had been labelled 'box-office poison' in 1938, Hughes bought her the film rights to "The Philadelphia Story"; the film would be Hepburn's ticket back into the Hollywood limelight.
During their relationship, Hepburn and Hughes often sent each other telegrams. And, being the centre of much media attention, they naturally tried to keep it a secret. For that purpose, most of the telegrams that were sent to Hepburn were addressed to Emily Perkins (Hepburn's assistant) and Hughes would sign them with Dan--short for 'Dynamite'. Apart from this nickname, there were a few others that were used by the couple, including 'Boss' and 'Conkshell'. Below you'll find several of the telegrams Hughes sent to Hepburn, and also shown are two handwritten drafts of telegrams from Hepburn to Hughes (these drafts are undated but presumably written early 1939).

The first telegram that is shown was -as opposed to the other telegrams- addressed directly to 'Miss Hepburn' and sent to the Ambassador Hotel in Chicago. At the time, Hepburn was staying in Chicago while on tour with the stage production of "Jane Eyre".

Transcript

1937 JAN 19 PM 10 34

MISS HEPBURN= RM 746
AMBASSADOR HOTEL=

DARLING CANNOT CALL YOU THIS EVENING BECAUSE SHALL BE ON A TRAIN BOUND FOR THAT GREAT MIDWESTERN METROPOLIS CONSIDERED BY SOME THE SEAT OF CULTURE AND LEARNING SUPPOSED TO ARRIVE SIX SOMETHING IN THE AFTERNOON PROBABLY NOT IN TIME TO SEE YOU BEFORE THE THEATRE SO WILL TRY TO CONTAIN MYSELF UNTIL ELEVEN THIRTY LOVE=
DAN.

Transcript

1937 FEB 3
MISS PERKINS=
ROOM 747 AMBASSADOR EAST HOTEL=

AM WIRING YOU ON BEHALF OF AN IMPUDENT AND APPARENTLY SLIGHTLY DEMENTED YOUNG FOOL NAMED DANIEL WHO SAUNTERED OUT ACROSS THE BRINEY DEEP THIS MORNING IN WHAT APPEARED TO BE A NINETEEN SEVENTEEN FORD ANYWAY HE SAID TO TELL YOU IT LOOKS LIKE HE MEANS AS THOUGH YOU MAY EXPECT HIM HOME THIS EVENING BY ELEVEN THIRTY=
UNSIGNED.

Transcript

1937 FEB 16 PM 10 49
MISS EMILY PERKINS=
MUEHLEBACH HOTEL KSC=

WOULD YOU CARE TO KNOW WHAT TAKES PLACE IN MY MIND AS THE RATTLER RATTLES ON A SAMPLE THEN HOW DREADFUL I LIKE YOUR EVERYDAY USE OF CURSE WORDS NORMALLY CONSIDERED SO VIOLENTLY EXPRESSIVE AND YOUR SAVING FOR SPECIAL OCCASION I HOPE MY LITTLE GEE WHIZ=
DAN.

LITTLE GEE WHIZ.

Transcript:

1937 MAR 12 PM 11 37

EMILY PERKINS=
WADEPARK MANOR HOTEL CLEVELAND OHIO=

PLEASE CONSIDER THIS ONE LARGE LUSCIOUS HAND PICKED PERSONALLY SELECTED MAGNOLIA WITH EXTRA SPECIAL SMELL THROWN IN  FORGIVE THIS TELEVISION AGAINST LAW SHIP OUT FLOWERS AND COCOANUTS ALSO NO FLORIST ON ISLAND DARLING I DO HOPE EVERYTHING GOES WELL TOMORROW LOVE=
DAN.
---------------------------------
The following telegram from March 1938 was sent to 211 South Muirfield Road in Los Angeles-- Hughes' home that Hepburn had moved into about a year earlier.

Transcript

1938 MAR 30 PM 7 28
EMILY PERKINS= 211 SOUTH MUIRFIELD DRIVE
[redacted] LOSA=

HERE I AM BOSS HOPE TO SEE YOU TOMORROW LOVE=
BOBB.

BOSS BOBB.

Transcript

1939 MAR 21 PM 9 0
EMILY PERKINS=
RITZCARLTON HOTEL BOSTONMASS=

CONKSHELL YOU ARE TERRIFIC BUT YOU MIGHT SAY SOMETHING NICE AMID CLEVERNESS AND REMINDERS WHICH MAKE ME LONESOME DONT WORRY ABOUT ANY ENGLISH DUTY LIGHT OR HEAVY LOVE=
BOSS.
Transcript:

H.R. Hughes
British Colonial
NASSAU BAHAMAS

REDECORATING CONKSHELL AND HAVE REMOVED WINTER COVER- WOULD SUGGEST REPLANTING RED FIR TREES ON FRONT BORDER- WILL YOU WANT AN ELEVATOR [redacted] EVERYTHING DUSTY BUT WELL PRESERVED. FOR RENT OR FOR SALE. MY CLIENT DESPERATE WILL TAKE EITHER-
(...)

Transcript: 

H.R. Hughes
British Colonial
NASSAU BAHAMAS

ARRIVED ONE ITEM
MISSING ONE BOSS LONELY ONE MOUSE- EMPTY ONE CONKSHELL


Transcript:

1939 MAR 23 PM 10 33

EMILY PERKINS
RITZCARLTON HOTEL BOSTONMASS=

HAVE DECIDED REMEDY EMPTY CONCHSHELL SITUATION ON ARRIVAL REGARDLESS AND IRREGARDLESS HOPE YOU DONT OBJECT TOO STRENUOUSLY MUCH LOVE=

BOSS.

Images of all telegrams courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

5 March 2015

The one and only Scarlett has been right here under her nose!

In November 1936, Katherine Brown (talent scout and representative of Selznick International Pictures) set out on a trip from Maryland to Georgia in search of Gone with the Wind's heroine Scarlett O'Hara. Brown visited several university drama departments and theatre groups, and also spent a day in early December holding open auditions in Atlanta, Georgia. It was in Atlanta, where more than 500 people showed up, that Brown got company from Gone with the Wind's author Margaret Mitchell. (In a memo to David Selznick, Brown wrote: "Think it might please you to know that Margaret Mitchell joined us at ten A.M. on Friday and stayed through the entire day and we put her to bed at ten P.M." [source])

The letter for this post comes from Margaret Mitchell and is addressed to a Mrs McAloney. It was Mitchell's response to McAloney's suggestion that Mitchell herself play a role in the film. Written on 9 December 1936 when Katherine Brown had just left Atlanta, this letter is worth reading as Mitchell jokes about Brown having had the ideal Scarlett right under her nose the whole time!

Margaret Mitchell
Katherine "Kay" Brown flanked by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (l.) and Jock Whitney, David Selznick's financial backer. Brown had suggested Margaret Mitchell's novel to Selznick and had urged him to buy the film rights. Selznick, initially unimpressed with the novel, was eventually persuaded. Kay Brown and Margaret Mitchell would become friends during the making of GWTW and remained so afterwards.
Image: heritage auctions (reproduced with permission)

Transcript:

Atlanta, Georgia
December 9, 1936

Dear Mrs. McAloney:

Thank you so much for the grand compliment you paid me when you wrote that you would like for me to appear in the film of "Gone With the Wind". I must admit that the idea had never occurred to me and honesty forces me to admit that my age and my type would not appeal very much to the movie directors, but I think you were more than kind to write and tell me about this. Thank you, too, for your congratulations about the book. I think I will write Miss Katharine Brown, of the Selznick Company who was giving auditions here, and tell her to hurry back- that the one and only Scarlett has been right here under her nose! She is a well-bred young woman but I am afraid she will blast me if I do this!

Cordially,

(signed)
Margaret Mitchell Marsh.

At the GWTW film premiere in Atlanta on 15 December 1939 --from left to right: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Margaret Mitchell, David O. Selznick and Olivia de Havilland.

3 March 2015

Damn those germs!

The story surrounding Joan Crawford's only Oscar win is legendary. Joan was not present at the Oscar Ceremony (held on 7 March 1946) to accept her prize for her performance in "Mildred Pierce" because she was sick in bed. At least, being sick was Joan's explanation then. It wasn't until years later that she admitted: "I remember how I felt the night the Awards were presented. Hopeful, scared, apprehensive, so afraid I wouldn't remember what I wanted to say, terrified at the thought of looking at those people, almost hoping I wouldn't get it, but wanting it so badly--no wonder I didn't go. I stayed home and fortified myself, probably a little too much, because when the announcement came, and then the press, and sort of a party, I didn't make much sense at all, even though I wanted to spill over..." [via]

After Joan had won her Oscar, it wouldn't be long before the congratulations came pouring in. Billy Wilder and his writing buddy Charles Brackett were amongst the ones to congratulate her, and it's their joint note to Joan which is shown below.

"Whether the Academy voters were giving the Oscar to me, sentimentally, for 'Mildred' or for 200 years of effort, the hell with it- I deserved it."
Image letter: heritage auctions (reproduced with permission)

Transcript:

March 16, 1946

Dear Joan: 

Goddamn those flu germs that kept you away. It was a circus, and you were the Queen.

We love you.

Always,

Charlie (signed)
Charles Brackett

Billy W. (signed)
Billy Wilder