17 February 2007

Magic Casements

As the Christmas holiday season of 1920 swiftly yet almost imperceptibly dissolved into the New Year of 1921, readers of newspapers across the country had been following --- with steadily increasing interest --- a story that had begun with complete absence of attention, on December 13th of 1920 in Rockaway, New York.

On the afternoon of December 13th if 1920, an experimental naval balloon arose from the Rockaway Naval Station. Planned as a casual overnight training mission, the 35,000 cubic foot capacity balloon held ten day old stale and impure gas that carried at it's base an open "basket"which carried three men, eight sandwiches, two thermos bottles of coffee and four carrier pigeons.

The passengers consisted of Naval Lieutenants Stephen Farrell and Walter Hinton, and Navy Reservist and Lieutenant Louis Kloor, the youngest of the three and affectionately dubbed "the kid" by the elder Farrell and Hinton.

A carrier pigeon released from the balloon arrived at the Brooklyn Naval Yard in the evening hours of the day they left, indicating all was well and that the trio expected to arrive in Northern New York State sometime the next morning --- and then, to the world at large, the balloon and its contents appeared to vanish from sight, seemingly forever.

As days passed and turned into weeks following the disappearance, the story was picked up by the news syndicates and by the third week it was a media event of national importance and the basis for scores of articles, essays and letters which filled news pages across the country. This, despite the fact that by the eighth day, many newspapers carried stories that allowed little room for hope of any sort, headlined "Airmen Believed Dead in Hills."

On January 3rd of 1921, three weeks after leaving Rockaway, New York, the telegraph wires fairly crackled with the astonishing news that the three "aeronauts," had been found alive in the snowy wilds of Canada, twenty miles from Moose Factory, Ontario. The trio's savior was a lone Indian trapper who had spotted human footprints amidst animal tracks and lost no time in investigating their source. Nearly starved from hunger, and without protective gear or clothing of any sort, news of the trio's discovery was relayed via foot messenger to the nearest telegraph office and then flashed outward to a disbelieving world.

In a day when one would expect to be plucked upwards and away from a remotely similar ordeal within moments and guesting on television news shows the following day, the half dead trio would have to travel --- by foot and then dog-sled, --- guided by their rescuer, through twenty miles of frozen woodlands before they'd reach the trading post of Moose Factory, Ontario and then, amazingly, they'd have to trod on for another fourteen days in sub-zero weather before reaching Mattice, Ontario!

Met by throngs of reporters in Mattice, Ontario upon their arrival, and still not entirely in control of their faculties, the weeks of resentment that had been building between the two elder Naval men --- with each blaming one another for the disaster --- exploded when details of a letter sent by Hinton to his wife upon his arrival in Moose Factory were made public, in which he claimed that Farrell had crumpled in the days before their rescue, and begged his companions to slit his throat and utilize his body as food. Farrell denied to reporters that any such occurrence had taken place, and when Hinton tried to pull him from the wide-eyed reporters, he pulled back and delivered a blow to Hinton's chin, knocking him to the ground.

At the moment Farrell delivered the punch, the news stories shifted focus from the trio's miraculous survival, and instead reveled in tales of insanity, proposed cannibalism, and all manner of sensational but vastly unimportant details. In other words, they behaved precisely as journalists have always done, and continue to, to this day.

But what of "The Kid," Lieutenant Louis Kloor? Overshadowed by the drama enacted by his two elders (who were both quickly signed by newspapers for "exclusive" interviews --- one of which is on display at the close of this post) the quiet and unassuming young man would find himself on the front pages of newspapers in July of 1921 --- and for reasons having absolutely nothing to do with his late ordeal.

For now however, we'll leave Lieutenant Kloor right here, and rejoin him a bit further along after exploring other matters first. It'll be well worth the wait.

Before comfortably settling ourselves into position from our usual vantage point that looks out upon the entertainment mediums of the late 1920's and early 30's, we've a view here instead of the New York City of 1908 --- which you'll want to see at full size, by clicking here.

It's a Spring or Autumn Sunday of 1908 and we see Fifth Avenue at midday, almost free of carriage traffic while throngs of residents walk to or from unknown destinations. How crisp and new everything seems in this image! The grand buildings haven't developed the patina of age that the coming decades would bring before most would vanish, and everything is awash in the near blinding, brilliant sunshine that has always struck me as peculiar to New York City at certain times of the year.

To me, most striking of all is how quiet this street must have been, despite the number of pedestrians. The street traffic is entirely limited to horse-drawn vehicles save for one lone motorcar (can you spot it?) and surely the only sounds that could be heard were limited to the low mummer of voices dotted with occasional laughs and coughs, the clip-clop of hooves and mellow rolling of carriage wheels upon the pavement, the sharp snap of banners and flags caught in the wind and ruffled, the sound of the wind itself whistling through the ornamentation of the buildings, the swish of the movement of fabrics that clothe the pedestrians and, surely the tolling of church bells and clocks --- both close and distant --- marking the hour.

It's not impossible to imagine any number of these people carrying a melody within their head as they walk --- perhaps some humming or even gently whistling to themselves. If so, chances are that one or more of the melodies in the following audio offering is what they carried with them, for this was the music of their day --- and it's via music that we can join them, if only for a moment and from a great and insurmountable distance.

Turn of the Century New York City Medley

Heard within this meticulous, spot-on period re-creation: "The Bowery," "The Sidewalks of New York," "Rosie O'Grady," "Daisy Bell," "Comrades," "Little Annie Rooney," "And the Band Played On," and "After the Ball." Just try not to smile, however wistfully, while listening!

A leap ahead now from East to West Coast, and from 1908 to 1929 where we see a wonderfully silly publicity photo heralding the release of Brunswick phonograph recordings of tunes from MGM's "The Broadway Melody." The film's three major players (Bessie Love, Charles King and Anita Page) can be seen here, surrounded by Earl Burtnett and his Biltmore Hotel Orchestra, but front and center is a beautifully crafted gigantic mock-up of a Brunswick disc that likely made the rounds of theater lobbies and retail stores alike, designed to fold at the center for easy transport and storage.

Earl Burtnett's orchestra would go on to record an impressive number of tunes from early sound musicals, one of which was "Low Down Rhythm," from Metro's "Hollywood Revue" of 1929. In addition to a great orchestration, the recording is unique in that the vocal is provided by the same dark haired lady that performs it in the film, June Purcell. If you've ever wondered who she was, and why she was called upon to present the tune in a film otherwise chocked full of recognizable stars, well... I've wondered too, and I'll share my findings with you.

Our earliest view of June Purcell (born 1903 in Indianapolis, Indiana) is in December of 1924, where she could be heard singing on the very new medium of radio, first for WKNX and WFWB, out of Hollywood, California, either as a soloist with piano accompaniment, or on the "Little Symphony" show, where she was a featured performer in 1925. By 1927, she was apparently popular enough to enter into vaudeville, where she toured the West Coast and the Midwest --- prominently billed as "June Purcell of K.N.X. - The Voice of Hollywood." Radio work and sporadic vaudeville tours continued throughout 1927 and 1928, and she effortlessly entered the medium of talking films with a Vitaphone short titled "Songs and Styles," in which she was credited as "June Purcell, Hollywood's Radio Girl."

Early in 1929, a little news item announced that Purcell had won a contest as "The Most Popular Radio Entertainer in the West," and was rewarded --- in additional to invaluable publicity, a trip to Hawaii.

Given her wide popularity and name value, perhaps it's a bit easier to understand now why she'd be given so coveted a spot in Metro's "The Hollywood Revue,"that of introducing a song early in the film that would go on to become one of the major music hits of the year.

Following "Hollywood Revue," Purcell would appear in only one additional film, the Warner Bros. all-Technicolor musical "Viennese Nights," which while announced early in 1930 would not arrive on screens until early 1931 --- and suffer terribly because of it. No matter to Purcell (billed in a small role as a stage vocalist,) for radio was still very much her realm.

News wires carried an item on March 3rd of 1932 announcing that: "June Purcell, singer from KNX , Hollywood, has signed a network contract and presents her first chain program on March 8th. Miss Purcell will be heard regularly on WEAF-NBC after April 3rd, presenting five programs a week at 8:45PM."

All seems well and good until mid-1933, at which point she vanishes from radio listings and instead turns up back in vaudeville, and in her birth state, Indiana.
Many return engagements (and mostly at the same theater) are seen throughout the remainder of 1933 --- and the nothing whatsoever, not even an obscure death notice indicating an unfortunate illness that might have prompted her to leave Hollywood and return home to Indiana.

The last, and latest mention of June Purcell I could find just further compounds the mystery, a 1950 syndicated column of entertainment reminiscences by one Tom Lindsay who, in speaking of his early radio career, discussed the origins of WKNX radio and says:

"I sang on the opening night. Milton Sills was the emcee and a young girl with her ukulele, June Purcell, an unknown at the time, scored a tremendous hit with her songs and skyrocketed to radio fame overnight. Then she went out like a light. I've always wondered why."

Mr. Lindsay is not alone in wondering, but save discovery of additional information, we may never know why June Purcell went "out like a light," and lingers on today to puzzle viewers of "Hollywood Revue" trying to guess not only who she is, but why she's there at all. Hopefully, at least these two questions have been answered.

A somewhat noisy disc that defied much improvement, but still fairly decent --- save for the thundering vibration of footsteps by goodness-knows-who, I assure you --- not I, whenever this particular transfer was made!

"Low Down Rhythm" - Earl Burtnett Orchestra, Vocal by June Purcell

A smattering of musical offerings and fulfilled requests follow now, after which we'll return to balloonist hero, Lieutenant Kloor for our big (ok, big-ish?) finish. Stay tuned!

One disc of two tunes from "Fox Movietone Follies" (1929 - Sue Carol and David Rollins, picture right) that surprised me not only because they're so good and so different from the usual renditions, but also because I'd never heard them until the other day. You can read more of "Fox Movietone Follies" in an earlier in-depth post on the film ("For the Last Time Anywhere") if you like, or you can just listen and enjoy Arnold Johnson & His Orchestra, with "Scrappy" Lambert providing the vocals via 78rpm:

"The Breakaway" (1929)

"Big City Blues" (1929)

The next group of offerings was inspired by a photo submitted by reader Anthony Morelli of New York City, depicting an undetermined family member at an Army camp during the First World War. As he said, it's a "jolly" photo despite the ominous situation, and truth be told there's no getting around the incredible savagery and loss of life connected with that great struggle. As much an area of fascination as it is for a history buff such as myself, I've avoided the topic in these pages as I didn't think it could be handled as delicately as it ought to be, but in light of the brave and impossibly cheery smiles in this photo, and the kindness of a reader, perhaps you'll enjoy this brief excursion into those dark yet optimistic days.

From the United Kingdom comes this odd recording --- the origins of which I've been unable to determine, save for the fact that it certainly appears to be of the early electrical period, and that the performers are, indeed, "The Band of His Majesty's Coldstream Guards." An unusual presentation, this --- more like a series of flashes of music, with each selection heralded by a drum roll and then fading into nothingness --- ironically not unlike living memory of the War itself. The selections include "Colonel Bogie March," Ivor Novello's still shattering "Keep the Home Fires Burning,""Pack Up Your Troubles," and "It's a Long, Long Way To Tipperary." A memorable and strangely unsettling recording, this.

Medley - H.M. Coldstream Guards (circa 1926)

Invariably, when a film of the early sound period strives to evoke the period of the Great War with music, one melody turns up time and again --- and it's not a war-themed song at all. "Smiles" (1918) remains familiar to this day and it's sweetly optimistic melody --- so filled with hope and promise of life beginning anew, was carried far and wide by soldiers via voice, musical instruments and the phonograph, to places where smiles seemed all but forgotten.

Smiles (1918) Lambert Murphy, Vocal

The bewilderment and disillusionment that swept the globe following the end of the Great War was reflected in a myriad of events and mediums, and surely was a major influence -- if not the main influence --- on forming the decade that was to follow. A decade which seemed so intent and unrelenting in it's desire to distance itself from tragedy and sorrow. This strain of melancholy can be heard and almost felt in numerous popular melodies of the period between which the War ended and the 1920's began to take hold on public consciousness. Nowhere is it more evident than in the late 1918 tune "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," which was introduced in a now forgotten stage presentation titled "Oh Look!"that featured Harry Fox and the Dolly Sisters.

The lovely --- almost painfully so, melody and lyrics that question one's self worth and value, speak with undiminished vibrancy even today. Or perhaps, even more so today.

"I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" (1918) Vocal by Charles Harrison

The arrival of MGM's magnificent "The Big Parade" (1925) jolted cinema patrons like few films had before, and maintains the same level of power today. Recently restored, re-scored and scheduled for DVD release this year, the film appears to have served as inspiration for a fascinating recording from 1926.

"My Dream of the Big Parade" (performed by Henry Burr, Billy Murray and the Peerless Quartet) begins as what seems to be a plaintive musical recollection, but then... almost out of nowhere, the recording takes an incredibly introspective turn as Billy Murray uncharacteristically unleashes what seems almost like a stream of consciousness speech on the sheer futility of war that is bound to stir the emotions of even the most stoic of listeners.

"My Dream of the Big Parade" (1926)

Once you've composed yourself, we'll take a moment to fulfill some reader requests and then --- I promise, the conclusion of our opening story.

Phonograph recording artist Irving Kaufman may well be experiencing popularity today approaching that which he experienced during his prime, if the number of comments and questions I've received are any indication --- and that's just fine by me! While Kaufman could (and does) sound incredibly crude sometimes on the cheapest of dime-store record labels that frequently released his work, his voice still shimmered with vibrancy and power when he was fortunate enough to be well recorded, and backed with a corker of a band. We have just such a combination of vocalist and orchestra in perfect harmony in this recording -- of which I have conflicting information --- so we'll put it up with just what I know. A dizzy, swirling mixture of jazz, violin and that unmistakable voice! Enjoy, all fans of Mr. Kaufman!

"Blue Baby" (circa 1928) - Irving Kaufman with Roy Leonard AHO

Equal to "Blue Baby" in its ability to prompt toe tapping is Nathaniel Shilkret's rendition of "Thinking Of You," dating from 1927, with soaring vocal provided by the more than capable and always welcome Lewis James.

"Thinking of You" (1927) Nat Shilkret & the Victor Orchestra, Vocal by Lewis James

A reader who craves "I Like To Do Things" from the 1930 Universal revue "King of Jazz" will find much to enjoy in the following rendition from the UK, by The Riverside Dance Orchestra, which was a recording pseudonom for Harry Bidgood's Broadcasters. Whatever the name, his work is alway exceptionally fine --- and the alternate lyrics heard in this version are an unexpected treat.

"I Like To Do Things For You" (1930) - The Riverside Dance Orchestra

The Comedian Harmonists' rendition of "Wedding of the Painted Doll" in an earlier post prompted no small degree of interest, although it should be noted that German versions of popular American tunes make up only an extremely small portion of their very prolific output. To bookend that previous post, here's a somewhat later recording (1934) of a much earlier tune (1920) that's vocalized here in English, and beautifully at that.

"Whispering" (1934) The Comedian Harmonists

Glum though the survival rate of the earliest of sound films tends to be, our ability to hear radio broadcasts of the same period borders on the futile. Invariably, surviving pre-1932 material tends to be incredibly dull, often unimportant, and obscure at best. "Obscure" neatly sums of a nearly complete set of transcription discs for an odd serialized radio from 1931 is titled "Abroad With the Lockharts," of which one representative entry is offered next.

Focusing upon a "typical" middle-aged American Chicago couple --- a stodgy, pig-headed husband and his patient and perceptive wife --- the series follows their trip from start to finish and plays almost like a tutorial on travel procedures, suggesting that the series was sponsored by a business concern seeking to pry jittery Americans (and their money) from their Depression mauled cities.

In this twelve minute episode, the couple arrives in Southampton via steamship, and the process of disembarking and boarding a London bound train is clearly dramatized as being a simple and effortless procedure. Once aboard train, the couple encounters a theatrical charictature of a British woman whom the couple cautiously engages in conversation. The moronic American husband ("England, the land of marmalade and monocles!") is neatly cut down to size by their sharp British traveling companion before the train pulls into the London station, providing a very satisfying conclusion indeed. It's interesting that today, some seventy-five years later, a good many of the misconceptions Americans have of the British --- and vice versa, are still very much in place today, despite rumors of a "global community!"

"Abroad with the Lockharts" (1931) Radio Transcription Disc

Finally, let's introduce Art Gillham, "The Whispering Pianist," who's early electrical recordings have long been a source of pleasure for anyone who happens to encounter his work and his unique performing style --- so different from quite anyone else of the period I can think of, and perhaps that's part of his attraction --- that he really seems to be a performer far ahead of the mid-1920's.

Art Gillham's recording of "I'm Sitting on Top of the World," dating from late October of 1925, displays the artist at his best --- not exactly whispering, but more like a smooth breeze from Alabama.

"I'm Sitting on Top of the World" (1925) Art Gillham

When last we left rescued Naval balloonist Lieutenant Louis Kloor, he was doing his level best to distance himself from the sordid verbal and physical battle playing out between his two companions, and in the end managed to do just that --- perhaps by focusing on a budding romance that was destined, he thought, to end in marriage sometime in 1921.

The object of his affection was one Alexandria Flowerton of Far Rockaway, New York and there's no doubt that his balloon misadventure and accompanying media frenzy did much to elevate feelings between the two. Upon his return however, the heroic aura that surrounded Kloor initially began to fall away --- and when Miss Flowerton, accustomed to the finer things in life, realized that Kloor's misadventure wouldn't prompt any swift rise in either his rank or salary, opted to cut him loose and fix a bright eye on better prospects.

On July 12th of 1921, newspapers carried an announcement by Alexandria Flowerton's mother (Alexandria had fled to the Thousand Islands to "recover") that the engagement had been broken by mutual consent, and explained that "it was under the spell of the romance of the balloon adventure that the young couple plighted their troth and that recently they had decided Kloor's pay was so little there was no present prospect of their being able to marry."

Then as now, there was one story for the press --- and then there was the truth. In this case, the truth was that Alexandria had a beautiful sister, Consuelo --- who had reached fame as the model for a number of Howard Chandler Christy red-cross posters during the Great War (including the one at left) and was reported to be a Ziegfeld starlet by 1921. By all indication an opportunist and a master of self-publicity, Consuelo snatched Kloor from her sister and then, when the expected media buzz didn't seem to amount to much, didn't know what to do with him.

Surprisingly, the diminutive Lieutenant Kloor had been exploring his own options as the Flowerton sister romantic entanglement was being played out --- and before Consuelo could dismiss him, a new player arrived on the scene.

Enter Irma Harrison, a young and pretty actress who entered films in 1919, and would go on to appear in D.W. Griffith's "One Exciting Night" and "America" in supporting roles, and co-starred with Lloyd Hamilton in the 1925 comedy "His Darker Self."

Just one week after Mamma Flowerton's press announcement, papers carried the item depicted to the right, revealing (much to the chagrin of the Flowerton family, doubtless!) that the real reason for the broken engagement was that Kloor's heart belonged to actress Irma Harrison --- and that the pair would be wed shortly, no matter how meager Kloor's salary was.

For reporters and newspaper readers alike, the Kloor and Harrison match-up served as a satisfying end to the entire mess, and it's here where Lieutenant Kloor largely vanishes from the press --- as does any mention of the outcome of Kloor and Harrison's romance, with no indication that they ever were actually married.

In Roland West's technically astonishing 1929 film "Alibi," there's a small but memorable role of a singer and dancer in a night club (identified as either "Toots" or simply "The Girl" in credits for the film) that stands out because she's so very different in appearance and style from the countless night club singers and dancers portrayed in films of the period.

Petite, a bit plump, curly-headed and possessing a self-assured way about her that's hard to describe, she vocalizes the film's theme song, "I've Never Seen a Smile Like Yours" that's staged in such a way that seems more akin to a 1933 film than one being filmed in late 1928 --- no matter that the singer's voice is thought to have been dubbed by radio vocalist Virginia Florhi.

The sequence fades in from blackness as the melody begins, and The Girl steps forward as the camera pulls back to reveal she's standing in front of one of the night club's small tables, at which sits a beaming Regis Toomey. Holding a small mirror, she catches an overhead light with it and beams it onto Toomey's face --- now frozen in a besotted, half-inebriated grin as he watches The Girl perform. Standing stock still --- her only movement relegated to her hips, The Girl is joined by two lines of chorines behind and then alongside her --- also equipped with mirrors, round and sewn into their costumes as the bottom portion of a stylized musical note.

The sequence prompted one Zanesville, Ohio reviewer to call particular attention to it, although almost entirely missing the downright creepy aspect of Toomey's character: "In her lovely, melodious voice, Irma Harrison sings the theme song of the picture to Toomey. If anyone ever deserved to have a song like this sung to him, it is this young man. One could be inspired to write poetry to a smile like that -- so full of the joy of living -- clean and wholesome it is."

Likewise, the sequence also prompted a member of a vintage film newsgroup to recently and justifiably wonder just who "that strange woman" was who sang in the film.

Some eight years after rescuing the hapless Lieutenant Kloor from the clutches of the Flowerton sisters, Irma Harrison was singing "I've Never Seen A Smile Like Yours" to a beaming Regis Toomey in "Alibi."

Although she didn't know it at the time, it would be here that Irma Harrison would find her forever --- sweetly singing about "the man with the wonderful smile," on a moment of film that would survive long after details of her career, life and romance with a heroic balloonist faded from living memory.

"I've Never Seen A Smile Like Yours" (1929) Irma Harrison


Lambert Murphy (vocalist of "Smiles") far right,
Leopold Stokowski, center - 1916

Note: The Irving Kaufman recording "Blue Baby" has been
identified by reader Glen Richards as being recorded by Hal Leonard
& His Waldorf Astoria Orchestra, for Columbia, in July of 1927.
Glen is webmaster of "The Hot-Dance & Vintage Jazz Pages,"
a beautifully designed website I've enjoyed for many years.


Anonymous said...

That "Turn of the Century" medley used the same arrangement as the "Old Timers Waltz", recorded by Jaudas' Society Orchestra on Edison 50480 (recorded Jan 8, 1918) !

Jaudas fit in a banjo, though .

As always, another fascinating and wonder-filled page! THANK YOU!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent article as always. It was like a good book that you couldn't put down until you finished it!

Please tell us who made the delightful "Turn of the Century New York City Medley"?

Joe Thompson said...

Jeff: Another fine story. I enjoyed the Naval aviation angle. I should point out that the two radio stations you mentioned are KNX and KWFB, both still on the air. The general rule is "W" East of the Mississippi and "K" West of the Mississippi.

Joe Thompson ;0)

Jeff Cohen said...

Dankj: Although I didn't mention it, the precise same orchestration also turns up on one side of a Victor 12" 78rpm circa 1928 or so titled "Songs Of Other Days," indicating the arrangement was as serviceable then as it is now. Am eager to hear the Edison version now --- yes, banjo and all!

Thanks for writing in,


Jeff Cohen said...

Joe - Early radio lingo --- in fact, any radio lingo at all, invariably muddles me, although your simple rule is certainly worth remembering as it's so gosh darned easy. I'll try my best, any rate!

Anonymous - I first encountered this recording on a "do it yourself" sort of Internet radio station so I remain unsure as to the performers, but if I had to venture a guess --- judging by the painstaking authenticity alone --- that it might be the work of the magnificent Paragaon Ragtime Orchestra. While neither here nor there, I've long felt this stunning assembly of musicians virtually screams out to be utitilized in recording score for silent era DVD releases, but current tastes seem to prefer "ingenuinty" (horribly unsuitable monstrosities passing themselves off as silent film scores) over authenticity and genuine talent. This will pass... or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Music for silent films does NOT have to adjust itself to suit our preferences or tastes. Rather, it's quite the other way around... or at least should be.

In the same way the text of a 1917 novel would never be altered to reflect our current usage of language, neither should the 1917 music that originally acoompanied a film. Simple logic that seems to have been tossed by the wayside these days.

End of Rant --- Thanks for writing!!


VP81955 said...

Joe said...
Jeff: Another fine story. I enjoyed the Naval aviation angle. I should point out that the two radio stations you mentioned are KNX and KWFB, both still on the air.

A typo there...I'm sure he meant KFWB, which I believe was founded by the Warner Bros. studio while still in its silent days (hence the "WB" in the call letters). Baby boomers in Southern California will recall that KFWB was a leading Top 40 station from 1958 to '68. It's now an all-news station (as is KNX) and the flagship for Los Angeles Dodgers baseball.

Also interesting to hear "Big City Blues," although to my ears Annette Hanshaw still has the definitive version.

Anonymous said...

Great stories! Thanks for your obvious hard work and dedication to this (not) forgotten era.

Jeff Cohen said...

Joe: I'll only add that Hanshaw's version remains definitive by default, as Lola Lane's performance in the film will likely never be seen nor heard again.

Ben: You're most welcome. There's hard work --- and then there's hard work. Writing these entries is as exhilerating as it is personally satisfying, but learning that others enjoy reading it? Skyrockets of gladness!



Anonymous said...

Jeepers! Discovered this blog hours ago, and am glad it's a holiday tomorrow so I can read till I'm bleary in the eyes. An amazing site--
I have always been fascinated by a particular actor of these times, Ricardo Cortez. I know bits and pieces, an Austrian "Latin" that left Hollywood to make it big on Wall Street. You mentioned The Big Shakedown in your last post, and I was wondering if you've come across an biographical/anecdotal info on this forgotten star. . .

Jeff Cohen said...

UrbanYeti: For anyone who writes, yours was quite the highest of all possible compliments. Thank You!

Ricardo Cortez may seem forgotten, but I know countless other film buffs share a special fondness for him and his work --- always solid, always memorable. A blog post exploring Cortez and another favorite of mine, Warren William, has been on the back burner for a while --- so stay tuned!

Thanks again, and rest those eyes!


Anonymous said...

urbanyeti said it all.

Mr. Cohen, Get Thee to a Publisher!

Trolling Agents and Publishers, What are you waiting for?

Anonymous said...


Thank you for solving much of a mystery I too have been wondering about since I first saw Hollywood Revue on TV in 1970.

When I, nine years old at the time, saw MGM's all-star extravaganza, I was captivated by the tune "Low Down Rhythm" and the personality of the woman performing it.

When IMDB arrived, I decided to look up the film to see if I could find some info about her, only to discover there was little, if any.

Alas, we may never know the fate of June Purcell, but now, thanks to you, we know a great deal more about her.

Kudos, sir.

alexa757 said...

You know Jeff, I can usually read other people's blogs in a few minutes and though I enjoy them, I forget them fairly fast. However I find I need a considerable amount of time to read and listen and look at all the treasures you manage to pull out so regularly - and what I read sticks with me!

I loved them all this week - but especially the Turn of the Century New York medley, played while looking at that wonderful sharp picture of a time that seems so far away - even though I once knew people who were alive then and walking those very streets (even though they were the servants!)

Jeff Cohen said...

Bearden: Another head-spinner of a compliment, for which I thank you.

Especially pleasing to know that image and music combined in precisely the way I hoped they would: to create a sense of time and place.

I enjoy the knowledge that my modern-day ancestors were present and accounted for in 1908 New York City, although it's unlikely they would have been venturing much above 14th Street at that point in time!

The realm of men and women in domestic service in NYC circa 1900 is one that hasn't been properly explored, but certainly ought to be. If you'd care to write me, I'd much enjoy hearing any recollections you may care to share of the NYC equivalent to 165 Eaton Place.


DutchResearcher said...

Thanks for all the info... I was doing some research on Consuelo Flowerton (who starred in 1921 next to Rudolph Valentino in 'Camille'). In 1923 she married Dutch composer Dirk Fock (or Foch as he was called in New York, where he conducted several orchestra's). They had one daughter: Nina Foch, actress and drama teacher (1924 -2008).
It's a small world...