Category Archives: Louise Brooks

Not a firm of solicitors?

Though I must admit Harlow, Johnson and Brooks could very easily sound like one!

In truth, there are very few places left in Hollywood that you could trace back to their days in town, but yesterday I managed to visit two of them, though one is no longer used for the purpose that they knew it for. Oh, and I passed a couple of others too, the Chinese theater, and Musso and Frank’s being the famous ones.

I always planned to visit the Hollywood Museum on this trip, seeing they’ve got a special Jean Harlow display this summer, and yes, its really good, if you get the chance, which I suspect a lot of my readers wont! Back then of course, this was the Max Factor building, the man behind the movie make up of many famous actresses, and judging by the pictures there, a few chorus line dancers too! Its a well known fact that Harlow would have gone there, and ‘supposedly’ thats where the platinum blonde look was created. That I’ll question, but anyway…? Kept going, quite possibly. Created, hmm?

In truth, I always assumed that Factor only did the make up for the stars, but yesterday I saw a few pictures of chorus line dancers, waiting their turn to be made up by him, and thoughts turned to Clara. Was she one of them, who knows? Did she at some point have her make up done by Factor, seemingly almost certainly. One thing is for sure, they wouldnt recognize the building today. Not just because of the change of nature of the building, it lost its front seemingly when Highland Avenue was widened.

There is one seriously wonderful helmet type thing, that was seemingly used to measure imperfections in faces, which I would love to have used on me, but it would find plenty of imperfections lol.

Oh, one fun moment, signing the visitors book in my name, especially given who the main display was about, though I doubt they even look!

The evening was spent in the company of the last of our trio, Louise Brooks, at the Egyptian Theater, which is 5 years short of its centenary! I wonder if you’d told Grauman that, back in 1922, whether he would have believed you that it would happen? Looks very different in places now, to then of course, but so much remains, though mainly restored, but all the same…

I found out shortly before coming here, that there were 2 of her films on last night there, neither of which I’d seen before, beyond glimpses of one. Beggars Of Life is probably one of the better known Paramount ones that survives, with ironically Louise playing a girl pretending to be a boy. Some of the shots were amazing, especially when you think there was no CGI back then!

The other was the second film she made in Germany, Diary Of A Lost Girl. I’d seen brief scenes from this, but that was it. Personally, for all the fuss made about Pandoras Box, I found this the far superior movie. The cast seems stronger, in deeper roles, and benefits from that. In modern eyes, its amazing how much censorship was used on this film originally in US (Yes, I saw a restored version), as some of it is daring, but not extreme. But its not hard to imagine that in 1929, things were seen very differently to that. Oh, and the ending is delightful.

So yes, yesterday was a look back to Old Hollywood for me, this afternoon I’m off to see some new, at a female playwright festival. Just watching, nothing more, unless…? No, I doubt it somehow! More on that in next blog, I suspect.

The video. Well, I couldnt think of anything more apt on a California Sunday Morning. Cant believe there will be many who know this already.

Advertisements

The Sun Always Shines, With TV

So yes, its official now, I’m on an extended break, that just happens to include 10 days in an apartment in Hollywood. So yes, planning, and plotting is very much under way. I now at least have 1 definite booking, a walking tour of Hollywood, on my last full day in town. Yes, I know, not the best timing, but its only happening once a month, and yes, its got to be done, as I know the lady acting as the guide, not only through Twitter, which is where I first met her, but also in real life, given we toured the Hollywood Museum together, on my first trip across, just over 2 years ago. Since then she’s got married, become a mother, and yes, I’m proud of her for that.

The Brooks movies mentioned earlier in the week are almost settled, but technically not definite, due to my regular issue with US websites, of that unless you, and more importantly, your credit card have a zip code, they’re impossible to use on their site. So now I cant do anything until after I’ve got there, so just having to hope its not a sell out, as I will be annoyed if it is. Fingers crossed, it is the Egyptian Theater, it is quite large, but… Of course I have no idea if UK websites are equally bad for users outside of the UK, so forgive my grumbles if they are.

I’ve also been trying to work out when Clayton Kershaw will be pitching for the Dodgers while there, based on the 5 pitcher rota teams use. Having pitched last night (a win), and counting forward, it looks like I’m going on the 23rd. But yes, I’ll wait nearer the time, and will probably be an ‘on the day’ purchase at the stadium, though at what I can afford to pay, I’ll be so far from Kershaw that I would see him better on TV lol! Oh, and if anyone could arrange a meet with Vin Scully, I would be thrilled, schoolgirl like!

Talking of which… On my 2 previous trips to LA, I’ve tried both times to get tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel recording his show, with no success. It might be that the people controlling the tickets see a UK address, and dont let me have them accordingly, or I might just have been unlucky? Well, this time, I’ve changed my profile to fit the zip code of my apartment, and applied several times over for both him, and James Corden, so fingers crossed I get to see one of them at least.

Of course, in an ideal world, I’d be the one being interviewed about transgender diversity issues, and trying to get an acting break, but fine, I’ll settle for being part of the audience, I guess? Yes, you never know, but I suspect pigs flying are more likely!

Oh, and finally, I’ve got a lot of the packing done. Probably more dresses than I will possibly need unless something amazing happens, but better safe than sorry. Still got room in the case for more, but mustnt go too mad, as I really shouldnt need more, for 10 days, and I’m sure I will bring more stuff back with me anyway. Green Card, or working visa would be handy lol, but cant see it!

Right, video. This time of year, its pretty fair to say the sun shines most days in LA. Thankfully, the winter was very wet, solved a lot of drought issues, if not all of them. Oh, and I might shine in a TV audience at least. Oh, and how does this guy still look so good?

Putting on the Brooks

In the last week or so, I’ve actually got around to starting to look for options, beyond the ones I already knew about, for my trip to LA. Sadly the only thing that the Rooftop Cinema was playing, that was old enough for me to be interested (in other words, early 50’s at the most modern) was already a sell out, so no go. I would say the one modern film I’d love to see, and havent yet, is La La Land, for obvious reasons, and ironically, thats playing there the weekend that I come back to the UK. But fine, it was sold out already, anyway!

So, play Plan B, which I probably would have looked at anyway, which is the Egyptian Theater. Bit further away from where I’m staying, but still only about a 20 minute walk, and…oh joy! My only Saturday evening in town, not only is there 1 movie there that I would love to see, but 2! And all for 1 price!

http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/diary-of-a-lost-girl-beggars-of-life

These wont be the first Brooks films I’ve seen on a big screen, Pandoras Box, in Leeds, was the first. And now I get the chance to see 2 of the 3 next most famous Brooks movies (Prix De Beaute would be the other for me) in Hollywood, in a historical setting! Fine, I’ll advertise it too much, and it will be a sell out, and …No, sadly I’ve failed to find any Harlow movie being shown on a big screen in town, while there. If anyone knows differently, second half of May?

I did think about taking a flapper style dress with me, and trying to find a black bob wig, but in truth, these 2 movies are pretty removed from Brooks, and the flapper look. One is a pretty dark movie, the other has Brooks trying to look like a boy, so…Besides, I’m not sure my knees should be seen in public!

But yes, I have now got 1 definite date on my holiday calendar lol! There are numerous things I will do at some point, but no planned date yet, including Dodgers baseball!

No, I havent gone for the obvious OMD, Louise Brooks video here, which might surprise some. And in truth, this is more 30’s, than 20’s, but fine, its catchy, and when I might get to use it, if not now…?

You’ve got a friend

OK, so lets take up from the last blog, seeing I’m not laden with new ideas tonight for a blog, and look at those other friends you get to know through social media, the truly special ones. And no, in this case, I’m discounting all those people you work/worked/live with, or those that its nice to have on your list, but arent bothered about if you meet them, or chat much with them at all. This is about those amazing people, who you discover through social media, who make you feel special.

Firstly, lets start with a couple that I met not through the ‘traditional’ forms of Social Media, but through a writers forum I belong to. One wonderful lady from New England, who not only have I talked to quite a bit online with, I’ve actually had 5 holidays with! Fine, as things stand, this year is going to break the streak, as I just cant see me having the money to do it, unless something miraculous happens, but fingers crossed. Oh, and from the same source, a truly wonderful man from northern New York State too. Yes, the one that invited me over to join his family for my first ever Thanksgiving Dinner!

Anyway, what happened, he found me a budget (relative, this was Boston!) place to stay in Boston, probably the most tranquil week of my life (no TV’s in lodgings, anywhere!), and we made plans that he would come down, during my stay, and we’d have a day together. Then Kate decided that she was going to spoil the visitor for a week around town, staying in a nearby hotel, and taking me out to see the sights. Just one slight snag, they both thought I was a genuine woman! Long story, going back to when I first appeared on the Forums, long before I transitioned, and when I appeared, everyone said Stephanie is here! So fine, I was female in all but transitioning sense, so I went with it, assuming I’d never meet anyone.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, a couple of weeks beforehand, I let them know the situation, in case they wanted to change their minds, as you can tell, neither did. I was told they would probably not have known, but I felt better that way. Yes, such a failure that Kate and I have gone on holiday 4 times since, James invited me over to Albany, and on 1 of those occasions, we met up for a day too, the three of us!

But fine, they’d known me through words, and things, for a while before we met. The next person I’m mentioning, I’d only spoken on Twitter, and Facebook to, before we arranged to meet up, for a guided tour of a small Kansas city. Yes, that one where Louise Brooks was born. The first words we actually spoke to each other were on my cell phone, just as we were arriving in Cherryvale!

Not only did Tina give us a guided tour of the place, she arranged for me to get into the Museum to look around, and also took us out to the lake nearby. We met only for a few hours, and will probably never meet again, but its something I will never forget, for sure.

Lastly, the current Facebook buddy I will probably never meet, is also from New York State. A bit south of James, but north of NYC. So what does she do, she’s always there with a friendly word, and a hi, each day, on Facebook. We throw a few more words about our lives, and stuff, and its great. So yes, its knowing she’ll be there that makes her special, thanks, Stacie.

So, what I’m saying is that those friends you’ve never met, but you know online, they can be so special too. Not everyone on Social Media is out to get you, so true!

The video, a little bit of Randy Newman, from Toy Story

All we want, is equal rights

Right, just before we get to the main part of the blog, just one thing I want to mention. It was 30 years ago today, that Louise Brooks died, in Rochester. One thing is for sure, Louise wouldnt have wanted a lot of fuss made, so I’m not making any.

So, without wishing to sound too feminist, and all that, tonights piece is about equality for women. Thats right, equality, its all women actually ask for, not more as some seem to think the whole feminist society would suggest. And more, tonights piece is about one specific place of misogyny close to my heart, Hollywood.

I’ll be honest, before April I had no idea how skewed movie making in Hollywood was, pretty much because one thing of no major interest to me, is modern films, and the making of them. But at that time, and since, I’ve got to discover just how biased all the roles are towards men. No, not the acting roles, but everything else! Though of course most of these action movies seem to focus on men in the roles anyway. Just compare the gender split in super hero movies, for starters!

No, I’m not looking for work myself, though if offered the right form of work, I wouldnt say no, especially at present. But I met in April, a lot of marvellous women who just arent getting the fair break, because the ‘old boys club’ just gives all (or pretty much all) the work to men. Doesnt matter about quality of work, its jobs for the boys! No, I’m not saying get rid of them all, just give us girls a fair break! I know, they arent likely to read this, but at least I can get it off my chest, and the next time you go to the movies, take a look at the behind the scenes roles, and see how many are female. Believe me, it wont be many!

OK, rant over, and not a single bra burnt lol!

Other news, not much. Given that the job I was interviewed for on Thursday wanted me to start on Monday, and I havent heard anything, I guess I havent got it? I know, not hearing anything, what a surprise nowadays! At present all I have as possibles for next week is one role in the travel industry, who rang Thursday, while I was out, who asked when I was available, so I told them, but got no reply. I rang them Friday, got an answer machine, but she could have been off? Other than that at present, I’ve got 1 agency registration on Thursday, and a possible open evening at another the same evening. Beyond that, next weekend, all things permitting (miracle happening, or air fare going crazy), I’ll be doing more than just considering the options for 4 weeks away, I’ll be booking it. Yes, almost certainly Hollywood, no shock there. Who knows, I might even be the woman who gets that deserved break lol?

Right, the video. What women probably feel they are doing when trying to get important roles in Hollywood

A look back at 2014 – The US Edition

Yes, I think its fair to say that so much has happened in my life this year, that I can stretch this out to 2 parts quite easily. The UK edition will follow on Wednesday, by the way. A look forward to what I know 2015 holds in store, on New Years Day.

So, lets start with the first trip, the one to Kansas City, and the whole state of Kansas. Initially, the plan had been for this to happen in May, but things never work out quite as planned. Kate’s work got in the way, so it got put back to September. Thankfully, her main concern about doing that, extreme heat, and me, never cropped up. It was very pleasant, 70’s, and 80’s and all that, but no more, so all was fine.

Before we get to the main emotional stuff, I could never have got to Cherryvale without her, and I dont think she will ever realise just how much I appreciated her help in getting me there. But its what happened when I got to Cherryvale that really struck home to me, just how wonderful some people can be to a virtual stranger, that she may well never meet again. One amazing woman, named Tina. Not only did she really welcome us to Cherryvale, home town of Louise Brooks (and Vivian Vance, as she would appreciate me mentioning), she really welcomed us to town. A guided tour, photos of both Brooks homes, and a trip out to see the Big Lake nearby too. But on top of all this, she arranged for me to get into the museum, in town, on a day when it would normally be shut to the public. Someone I’m really glad to have met, and to give me the chance to get close to standing in Louise Brooks’s footprints.

Its fair to say that I’ll probably never get back to Cherryvale, but I will always remember that place, unless dementia gets me first!

On the same trip, after Kate had gone back home (she has a normal life, for heavens sake), I headed off into Kansas City, home town of Jean Harlow, of course. Funnily enough, for quite a while, I got no further than Union Station, on the edge of town. Nowadays the station has one through train (Chicago – Los Angeles), and 2 other services to St Louis, and thats it! Of course, back in the 1920’s, there were a lot more trains, and there is photographic evidence of Jean Harlow travelling by train, so its fair to assume that I very much stood in her foot steps there.

Luckily, I got to take a modern trolley car trip around the city, so did see a lot more, maybe I’ll get back one day, but I’m not getting any younger…

Bur despite all that, its fair to say, that in the end, that wasnt my most emotional trip to the US this year. In November, I went out to Albany (as was always planned), given an invitation by my wonderful friend, James, to join his family for Thanksgiving, a first for me. Really, really glad I did it, despite the snow dump on the Wednesday, about 9 inches. Thing is, the bus service didnt even blink, let alone stop. Over here, an inch, and…rolls eyes.

Thanksgiving Day, and everything surrounding it was amazing, so glad I got to find out what that was like. And no, I didnt go shopping on Black Friday!

But yes, the side trip to New Hampshire. I had discussed the possibility of doing a past life regression with S earlier in the year. There was only about 200 miles between him, and Albany, but getting there by public transport… We compromised, I got the coach to Worcester, MA, and he took me to and from New Hampshire from there.

Lets be frank, much though it would have been wonderful to have discovered I was Jean Harlow in a previous life, it wasnt really likely to be true. It wasnt, though I would love to have seen his face (I was deep in trance remember) when I said I was in Hollywood in 1928! I remember being asked the colour of my hair, giggling, and saying brunette, though of course I had no idea why he was asking me that. Yes, I was, in a past life, a small part actress named Clara Johnson, oh wow!

Sadly, finding anything out about Clara, even with the internet, has pretty much come up blank, apart from one credited part. Small parts never got credited before the mid 30’s, we know she made a decent living, but no more… Sometime, I really must get back to New Hampshire, let him put me under for much longer, and find out so much more about her. But until then, I know who I was, and just maybe, she worked, or played with Jean, when both were just small part actresses.

So yes, those 2 trips have tugged at my emotions no end, but I’m really, really glad I done both, and now know what I do.

Louise got married (at least) twice, Jean three times, Clara, just the once. For each of them, there must have been something of this. And of course, in the title of the group, Hollywood

The climax of the baseball season

Yes, tomorrow night, in Kansas City, the culmination of the baseball season begins. Given that the game will actually start at 1.00 am in the UK, on Wednesday morning, I wont be watching. But in spirit, albeit a sleeping spirit, I will be there.

Its a rare treat, in that I have actually been to both stadiums where the games will take place, and actually enjoyed visiting both of them. The last time there was a World Series when that happened, 1993 when Toronto took on Philadelphia. The Toronto stadium at that time, was the once I visited, but the Philadelphia one wasnt, having being demolished in 2004, and replaced by a very modern stadium that well, I didnt fall in love with!
The last Series between 2 teams I have seen play is far more recent, just 2 years ago, when San Francisco played Detroit. I saw Detroit play, in the now demolished Metrodome in Minneapolis.

But these two…

So lets start with where people leave their heart, San Francisco. AT&T Park is probably one of my all time favourites, probably helped by the fact that the first time I went there (have been twice), I went to an evening game, and not only did I get to watch the baseball, in a wonderful setting, I got to see the sunset over San Francisco Bay, and that was worth the money in itself.
But all in all, its a wonderful setting to see baseball played, though sadly, no one hit a home run into the water while I was there. Have seen it on TV a couple of times, but…

So yes, ironically, under any other circumstances, I would happily support them against most teams, but not this time around.

Because they are playing Kansas City!

So far, I’ve only had the one visit to Kaufman Stadium, about a month ago, when they lost to Boston. As was mentioned in the blog at the time, the service that Kate and I got from the staff, was truly amazing. And seeing those famous fountains, at the other end of the stadium…really good!

I must admit, there are 2 ladies who are the reason I follow Kansas City, Brooks and Harlow. One came from the city, one came from the state of Kansas, so all in all…a big soft spot for me. Neither of course saw the Royals play, they only started playing in 1969. Lets face it, pre war, travel made it impossible for teams to play that far west. And when teams started moving west, California became the big target, so…

And before you ask, I have absolutely no evidence that either lady ever saw a baseball match anywhere!

Given that San Francisco have won it all twice in the last 4 years, Kansas hadnt even made the play offs since 1985, when they actually won the World Series themselves, I might have supported KC anyway. But now, probably the first time I’ve really rooted against SF in all honesty.

Hopefully KC will win, as that would be perfect for me. But at the same time, if a National League team has to win it, well, San Francisco might be my call. But even so, I have to say it, go Royals!

The video, well its about KC, and produced in Cherryvale, surely the perfect combination? I have to thank my friend, Tina for posting it on Facebook in the first place.

Oh, and if any manip/photoshop experts out there want to send me a picture of Jean Harlow, in either a Royals top, or cap, I would so love it, and would post it up. I know, wherever she is watching it from, she’ll be rooting for her home town team

The one benefit of Transatlantic flight

Yes, I admit it, I’m one of those who fall into the group of surviving the flight across the Atlantic, not enjoy it. Doesnt matter what I do, an 8 hour flight, I get bored. I know, I’m not the only one, but anyway, this time around, the flight out flew by, and the one back wasnt so bad either, though I’ve given my knee a bit of a bashing, trying to get into a decent sleeping position, but…

The difference? I had a really good book to read, the Louise Brooks biography, by Barry Paris, and its really good.

Fine, I already knew Louise could be a ‘bit’ awkward to deal with, but reading this, I’ve discovered just how much of a nightmare she must have been to deal with, throughout her life! It really is fair to say that the only thing angelic about her, was her looks! You could forgive her some of her awkwardness in later life, due to all the health problems she had, but Louise was the same throughout her life!

Still glad I discovered her though! 😉

No idea what I’m reading for the Albany trip though at present. I do have a Jean Harlow biography, but have been advised that I ‘might’ get annoyed by some of the tales in it. Hmm…?

Oh, and lastly, I might be a 30’s girl at heart, but there are some modern tricks that are a boon. This morning, at Manchester Airport, no more showing your passport to someone, my chipped passport gets slid into a machine, a photo check done, and…through you go!

Ah well, tomorrow, back to work we go!

The video, perhaps what we have to offer up for (Mary) Louise Brooks,

Somewhere, over the state line

Yes, somewhere over the state line, in the South eastern corner of Kansas, sits a little city called Cherryvale, I have mentioned it once or twice before in blogs, as the birthplace of Vivian Vance, as well as a young lady named Mary Louise Brooks.

Yesterday, I got there, so glad.

Now, this isnt a big city, total population of just over 2,200 people, but for me, it was one of those places I so wanted to visit, but getting there is a challenge for non drivers, unless you have a special friend like Kate to drive you there.

We got to Cherryvale shortly after 1.00, and I rang Tina, my local contact there, to let her know we’d arrived. She was one block or so away, and very soon a car pulled up, and we met up. What followed was a wonderful guided tour of Cherryvale, showing us all the landmarks, relating to Brooks, Vance, and general Cherryvale life, both past and present.

A picture of the first home Louise Brooks lived in

Louise Brooks 1st home in Cherryvale

Her second home

Louise Brooks 2nd home in Cherryvale

Then, while we waited for the Museum to be opened (just for us, I might add), we were taken up to the nearby ‘Big Lake’ to admire the view, and for me to get my picture taken

Me, at the lake, Cherryvale

After that, back into town, and while Kate settled into businesswoman mode, I took a tour of the museum. Lots of Vance, plenty of Brooks, and far more relating to life in, and around Cherryvale. We even managed to find some pictures of Jean in the old magazines of the 20’s and 30’s too!

Last, but not least, an ‘I was there’ photo, outside of the museum

Me, at the museum, Cherryvale

Yes, the lady in the background, in green, is Kate, my heroine for getting me there!

Finally, just before 3.30 we headed out of town, realistically my one, and only visit in my life to Cherryvale, but I got there. I know Louise would probably just say “so what?” or something along those lines, but I’m so glad I did it.

Finally, huge thanks to Tina for all she did for us, and thanks also to the lady who guided me around the museum, whose name I cant remember. Cherryvale, thanks for such a wonderful day.

Under the circumstances, there were only 2 video options. Given this is probably the ultimate Kansas song, and all that…No, not the Garland version, but Eva Cassidy, a version that I personally far prefer

I’ll find my way home…to Kansas City

So fine, sue me, its a lie, until tomorrow, I’ve never been to the place. Well, not in this life at least! But who knows what might have happened in a past life, and yes, just maybe I’m thinking of one particular person, however unlikely that will be the case, when I do a past life regression later this year.

But yes, for Jean Harlow at least, finding her way home to Kansas City would be a reality, as of course, thats where she was born in 1911. Alright, strictly, Harlean Carpenter was born in Kansas City, in 1911, but with a change of name (and a boost in fame), it was Jean. It was her mother’s name in fact, which is where she took it from, when getting her first audition in Hollywood. And as they say, the rest is history!

Beyond the obvious, I know very little about the city, so it will be interesting to see if I show any amount of familiarity to the place. Mind, given how much would have changed over the 100 years, beyond obvious landmarks (her homes, for example), there probably isnt much remaining that Jean would recognise anyway. But yes, I’m looking forward to seeing the modern city, with interest, I must admit.

Oh, and fine, I know most know it anyway, but the fact that most of Kansas City, isnt in Kansas amuses me no end. Harlow in fact lived in houses in the city, on both sides of the state line.

As Dorothy said, in a certain film, there’s no place like Kansas.

True, not many places are that flat!

But the charms of Kansas, most particularly Cherryvale wait in store for me too. A trip to the birthplace of Louise Brooks is just going to be amazing, I know.

Neither however, will be the first new state for me on this visit, that will be Georgia, if only as a transit through Atlanta Airport. All in all, one state short of halfway, in the sense of visiting US states for me.

Yes, the whole thing is a trip I’m looking forward to greatly, and getting to meet up again with Kate will be super too.

But fine, the video, is a moment where I look at Kansas City on the map, step into Jean Harlow’s shoes, and say, somehow I’ve found my way home.