Then-and-now of past stars engaged a public more
as movies themselves went into a next generation. What had become of favorites
eased off talking screens? Loyal enough fan following watched for updates and
would save what scraps were served. That's how I came upon these 1934 newspaper
features from an album long ago and lovingly kept as salute not only to fresh
stars, but those for whom parades had passed. A forward-charging industry was
quick to dismiss those it once celebrated, but outlying folk did not forget.
They felt sacred bond to favorites Hollywood
and an insensitive press put to pasture. If print outlets bothered with old
faces at all, it was too often to note how far they'd fallen. The at top child
star update sheds cold tears upon Baby Peggy "who can't get a job at
17." So long as we're separating winners and losers over a very long haul,
I'd say Peggy was the biggest victor of all for surviving a spectacular
longest, and continuing well into this century to represent an era of which
virtually all other membership has passed (age ninety-five and going strong). Best evidence of her accomplishments
can be had via Milestone's first-rate DVDdedicated to the child star of
silents, which includes a fascinating documentary in addition to several of
Baby Peggy's shorts-features.
Excavator scribes played rougher with grown-ups.
When the Sun Goes Down in Hollywood,
It Usually Stays There goes the headline at above left. Ouch! No wonder stars
struggled so to stay on top ... but were these appraisalsfair, or even
accurate? History to come would put the lie to a lot of them. Bessie Love was
called "a discard at 36," which may have come as shock in hindsight
to a woman who'd work on stage and screen until her death in 1986. Colleen
Moore was "all but forgotten by the cinema fans at 32," but wait,
didn't she appear in two 1934 releases, the year this knock was published, with one of them a starring part? (Social
Register and Success At Any Price). Anyway, Colleen had made her pile and
married rich in the bargain. Emil Jannings was said to have gotten the hook
because he couldn't master English, which I assume to be more or less true, but
a "curtain" dropped upon his career was premature in light of
numerous German talkers he'd do.
My favorite is Francis X. Bushman, as in
"the talkies do without him." Fact is, they'd serve him well, as
would stage and television, right to the
end. I recognizedthe mighty X at age twelve whilst watching an episode of
Batman, and liked him besides in Sabrina on NBC's Saturday Night At The Movies,
plus Ghost In The Invisible Bikini at the Liberty.
That's how talkies did without FxB. A video of the 1960 Hollywood Christmas
Parade is at Jerry Mathers' websiteand is fantastic for glimpse of
then-luminaries in open cars, waving at fans. There's Gene Autry, Anne Francis,
Bozo The Clown, countless others (the video runs twenty-three minutes) --- and
then comes Francis X. Bushman, sat up with his wife on throne-like back seat of
a convertible as well-known host of a Los Angeles televised movie show. God
says Bushman to an on-the-spot interviewer, the Grand Old Man having outlived all those who tried putting skids under him.