glamour

All posts tagged glamour

Book Review: Always, Lana

Published February 16, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Always-Lana

Its the 16th of February. Candy hearts are half off at the Dollar Tree and the hint of consumerist love still drenches the air. Thus Always, Lana may be the perfect late weekend read. Written by Taylor Pero, a bisexual back-up singer who catered to both Lana Turner’s business and boudoir needs for 10 years, this slim tome details the latter day diva glazed romantic and professional antics of one of MGM’s comeliest stars.

Lana PersecutionHistorically, I was first introduced to this book as a soap opera obsessed 14 year old. At the time, Lana was appearing on Falcon Crest and her character’s onscreen combativeness with Jane Wyman’s matriarchal lead fueled my love for show business. Thus, I asked for a bio on Turner for Christmas that year. With unknowing prescience, this was the volume that my parents picked out for me. (Of course, it very well may have been the only option available at the tiny Zayres book department in Jamestown, NY.) While I found myself both intrigued and repelled by Pero’s sexual exploits, its tales of Turner’s adventures on the summer stock circuit and infrequent film projects have remained as wispy, silver smoked memories in my consciousness over the decades since.

Revisiting the memoir this Valentine’s week, Pero’s economic exploitiveness here actually reads with a sense of sympathy and understanding for the star that he devoted himself to. Her eternal tardiness, precise self focus and obsession with her appearance are explained as being a product of a studio system that prized beauty and self deception over emotional and spiritual growth. The author also nicely details Turner’s humor and her ability to deal with the multiple disappointments that life brought down upon her shoulders. Lana Turner Persecution aka Terror of Sheba

Nicely, one disenchantment that is given prime focus here is Persecution (AKA The Terror of Sheba), the one true Gothic Horror (in the Baby Jane tradition) that Turner appeared in. This project is usually given little import in other treatments of her filmography, but with Always, Lana it gets almost a full chapter. The author chronicles everything from the year long inception of the project to the shimmering star’s on set battles to the aborted reactions to this much troubled film upon its official release.

As with similar writings, this is a quick read and may be worth exploring for genre fans for this particular aspect alone.


Horror Hall of Fame:

Turner was a glimmering presence in the 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and she always spoke fondly of co-stars Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman for instilling her with a sense of professional confidence). She also gave breakdowns a groovy, psychedelic glow in the 1969 cult classic The Big Cube.


Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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lana dr

 

Hopelessly Devoted To: Joan Woodbury

Published December 21, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Joan Charlie

With cheekbones that could have cut you like a quick blade, the striking Joan Woodbury actually brought a truly cozy energy to her many screen roles. Whether adopting a slight accent (King of the Zombies) or blonde locks (The Chinese Cat), she always radiated with warmth and easy humor.

The Living Ghost, an old dark house style murder mystery, especially gave her a chance to shine with a screwball wit. Paired against the wisecracking James Dunn, Woodbury truly steals the show here with her glamorous fashions and good natured bantering.Joan Woodbury the-living-ghost-2

Proceeding Brooke Shields by decades, Woodbury was also the first actress to bring famed comic strip reporter Brenda Starr to life. Although, she is perhaps more significantly known for her multiple roles in the Charlie Chan programmers, including Charlie Chan on Broadway.

Joan charlie-chan-on-broadway-1937But with credits in everything from Bride of Frankenstein to popular musicals (Bring on the Girls, Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies), Woodbury is truly deserving of appreciation from old school film lovers of every imaginable genre in glorious perpetuity.

 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Joan Woodbury blonde

Va-Va-Villainess: Linda Hayes

Published November 14, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Linda Hayes

Decades after her cinematic reign, the irreplaceable Linda Hayes was featured in the popular art house film Brooklyn. While that was definitely a tribute to her talent, Hayes made an even more potent impression as the duplicitous Margaret Forbes in 1941’s The Saint in Palm Springs.

Here George Sanders’ adventure seeking Simon Templar (AKA The Saint) is momentarily lured in by Forbes’ beauty and grace. But with a sense of soft intrigue, Hayes soon reveals Forbes’ true intent. While trying to steal a priceless stamp from Sander’s suave adventurer, she meets a deadly end. But until then, Hayes is obviously having a good time playing all the flirtatious, two sided aspects of her character.

Unfortunately, Hayes left the world of performing behind in 1942. But eagle eyed cinema buffs are sure to recall her grace and glamour in the glowing embers of the midnight hour, as the shine of late night television wavelengths lulls them off to sleep.

Cathy Lee Crosby.pngHorror Hall of Fame:

While Hayes had no horror credits on resume, her daughter Cathy Lee Crosby, with whom she shares a great facial resemblance, starred on an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker and the 1979 creature feature The Dark.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Patrice Wymore

Published October 29, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Her obituary in 2014 highlighted her role as Errol Flynn’s wife (and mother to his daughter), but true cinema fans know there is much more to the glorious Patrice Wymore. In particular, she displayed much grace and beauty as an actress in projects such as Tea for Two and I’ll See You in My Dreams (both with Doris Day).

Significantly, this distinguished beauty also gave the world its first incarnation of Poison Ivy. Almost 15 years before the DC universe introduced their own misguided floral enchantress, Wymore brought Ivy Williams to vengeful fruition in 1952’s She’s Working Her Way Through College. Nicknamed “Poison” by the other characters in this collegiate musical, Wymore invests Williams with a silken determination and steely focus. Jealous of the attention that Virginia Mayo’s sassy burlesque queen Angela Gardner is receiving on campus, Ivy threatens to reveal her brightly spangled past to the conservative college officials. Naturally, blackmailing Gardner backfires, but Wymore’s destructive Ivy pretty much steals the show here. Her icy concentration contrasts perfectly with Mayo’s chummy warmth.

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Unfortunately for cinema buffs, caring for the ailing Flynn took Wymore away from the silver screen, prematurely, and she spent her senior years on a plantation in their beloved Jamaica. Still, anyone lucky enough to stumble upon the handful of successful projects she appeared in, is sure to fall in love with her obvious charms.

Horror Hall of Fame:

In a rare latter day credit, Wymore appeared as Vivian in 1966’s fun, star studded Chamber of Horrors.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Nina Mae McKinney

Published March 3, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

nina mae mckinney 3

Best known to old school horror and jungle movie fans for playing the revenge fueled Isabelle in 1939’s The Devil’s Daughter, the glorious Nina Mae McKinney was originally supposed to be MGM’s first black female superstar. Despite a glorious debut in King Vidor’s Hallelujah, the prejudice of the time cancelled out McKinney’s obvious appeal. The five year contract with Hollywood’s glossiest studio only led to a few loan out roles and an opportunity to provide the singing voice for Jean Harlow in the musical melodrama Reckless. Nina Devils Daughter 1

 

Thankfully, McKinney’s contribution to that picture is not lost to time.

 

McKinney, who died of a heart attack at the age of 54 in 1967, has been, thankfully, regaled by cinematic historians like Donald Bogle. But one still wishes that her potential could have truly been met. A role playing Harlow’s rival, instead of one behind the scenes, would have truly been a breathtaking addition to her legacy.

ninamaemckinney2

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Carole Davis

Published February 24, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Carole Davis Piranha Montage

Supernaturally gorgeous and full of talent, Carole Davis has collaborated with such esteemed musicians as Prince and Nile Rogers. In fact, her work with Rogers culminated in a fun album, Heart of Gold, and a single that was a staple at gay clubs and hip bars across the continents.

Of course, horror fans know this actress-author-musician best as the doomed Jai in James Cameron’s toothy Piranha II: The Spawning. But she also counts the moody apocalyptic drama The Rapture and the Kane Hodder monster fest Project: Metalbeast among her many credits. For those who love the world of terror, that indeed makes us count the divine Ms. Davis as one of those who possess serious money!

Carole Davis album

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Myrna Dell

Published February 23, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Myrna Dell in The Spiral Staircase (1945).jpg

She was one of the beautiful background players in MGM’s Ziegfeld Girl. She also, famously, wound up on the shaky side of George Brent’s murderous rage in the classy Gothic horror The Spiral Staircase.

But the stunning Myrna Dell was perhaps best known for playing a series of sassy ladies in television westerns and adventure shows. A prime example of her sharp talent occurred on an episode of Jungle Jim opposite Johnny Weissmuller. As Mickey Worth, a hardened carnival owner, she proved her mettle by taking the character from ruthless business woman to sentimental society dame.Myrna Dell Jungle Jim

Nicely, Skip Lowe conducted an amazing and informative interview with Dell in 1990. Those who appreciate the favors of old Hollywood and the dynamic women that populated it, will find much to adore here.

This charming conversation also proves that Dell, who passed away in 2011, is truly deserving of rediscovery…a unsung heroine of not just horror films but cinema, in general.

Myrna Dell Glamour.jpg

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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Horror Mash-up: Gloria Grahame and Dorothy Lamour

Published May 26, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Greatest - Dorothy & Gloria Worried

One of the prime forces behind the event film, Cecil B. DeMille claimed his 1952 opus was The Greatest Show on Earth because he, grandly, showed audiences the glorious (and sometimes gritty) behind the scenes mechanics of the working circus.



Greatest - Dorothy and Gloria FightHorror freaks, meanwhile, may call it the greatest show, because it matches up two spectacular presences. Here, Gloria Grahame and Dorothy Lamour play Angel and Phyllis, two sassy performers who antagonize each other with their wordplay, but actually share a true bond due to their deep love of the life of the traveling show. Greatest - Dorothy and Gloria Mouth

As many actresses before (and after) them, Grahame and Lamour appeared in a number of terror flicks as their careers waned. Grahame enlivened 1971’s Blood and Lace, 1976’s Mansion of the Doomed and 1981’s The Nesting with her Academy Award winning presence. Lamour, meanwhile, added star power to such offerings as 1976’s Death at Love House and 1987’s Creepshow 2.

Greatest - Gloria Costume

As fun as those latter day gothic projects are, it may bring true fans more pure joy to beam back in time and see them here, wrapped in DeMille’s loving gaze, being treated like the extraordinary and otherworldly talents that they truly were.

Greatest - Dorothy

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan.

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Dorothy Lamour

Published May 20, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Dorothy Lamour -1939

The glorious Dorothy Lamour was probably best known for the multiple Road pictures that she did with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (and for the vibrant wraparound dresses that she wore in them) in Hollywood’s golden age. There, and in other brightly filmed projects, she often burst into inventive song. Anthology buffs, though, probably know her best as the doomed Martha Spruce in the Old Chief Wooden’head episode of Creepshow 2. Thankfully, she had a much more colorful (and happier) role in Cecil DeMille’s grandiose The Greatest Show on Earth.

Lamour, who also appeared in the fun  1975 television terror Death at Love House also showed some new generation teens how to sell a production number in 1964’s Pajama Party.

Saying sarong…and until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Bette Davis

Published April 22, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

bette davis hush hush

After her role in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Bette Davis became the goddess of the Grand Guignol horror film. Her presence electrified such projects as Dead Ringer, The Nanny, Burnt Offerings and The Secret of Harvest Home.

While not as celebrated  as Baby Jane, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte was another solid offering in the scare sweepstakes. Nominated for numerous Academy Awards (including one for supporting actress Agnes Moorhead), this production was, originally, supposed to reunite Davis with Jane co-star Joan Crawford. Crawford took ill, though, and was replaced by Olivia De Havilland, who gives a ghoulishly intense performance as Bette’s determined rival.

Here, Davis, the master of the television interview, sings Charlotte’s theme song on one such appearance.

Meanwhile, discounting Jane’s maniacally funny I’m Writing a Letter to Daddy, Davis’ best known singing performance has to be the clever They’re Either Too Young or Too Old from the star studded Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Sonically satiated, we leave you with one of Bette from her first breath of spring….

bete glamour

…and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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