i, I’m Susan King, a 25-year veteran of the L.A. Times who specializes in all things Classic Hollywood. My weekly newsletter is sort of a digital time machine for fans of the Golden Age of Hollywood as well as great TV series, movies and even songs from the past.
Every Friday, I write about TV and movie milestones, screenings of classic films around Los Angeles, the latest in vintage films on Blu-ray/DVD, notable births, deaths and juicy tidbits, fun facts and maybe even a trivia question or two.
And I’m inviting all of you to join me Monday, June 1, at 5 p.m. (Pacific) while I guest host #TCMParty, a real-time classic movie conversation on Twitter, founded in its current format in 2011 by Paula Guthat, co-founder of the indie movie theater Cinema Detroit.
Though it's a 24/7 conversation, there are also scheduled parties at #TCM Party.
As @mymackie, I’ll be tweeting facts, stories and other tidbits during TCM’s airing of the sizzling 1958 romantic drama “The Long Hot Summer,” which marked the first on-screen collaboration of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who married during the production. Based on three William Faulkner short stories, the Martin Ritt-directed film also stars Orson Welles -- he and Ritt famously didn’t get along -- Anthony Franciosa, Angela Lansbury and Lee Remick.
Just look for #TCMParty on Twitter to watch and tweet along. And follow @TCM_ Party on Twitter for conversation and updates.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival (Associated Press)
What can one really say about 1969’s “The Maltese Bippy,” which has just been released on DVD thanks to Warner Archive? It’s certainly a novelty -- more time-capsule entertainment than a good movie. “Bippy” stars the comedy team of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, who were the stars of the No. 1 series on TV at the time, NBC’s irreverent comedy variety series “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” Like millions of Americans, I was an unabashed fan of the show, which also featured a young Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Gary Owens, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson and Jo Anne Worley.
Dan Rowan, left, and Dick Martin on "Laugh-In" (NBC)
The series was filled with catch phrases that became part of the cultural landscape, including, “You bet your sweet bippy” -- hence the title of the film. “Bippy,” which was described as an action-adventure-romantic-horror-melodramatic comedy, features monsters and a lot of bad, bad jokes. Needless to say, there wasn’t a “Maltese Bippy 2.”
I am passionate not only about classic films and vintage TV, but also old radio shows. I have a collection of CDs and apps downloaded on my iPhone and iPad at the ready whenever I need an old-time radio fix. One of my favorite series is “The Lux Radio Theatre,” which featured some of the biggest stars in Hollywood performing adaptations of their films, as well as other popular movies of the era. (Director Jason Reitman has resurrected this idea for modern audiences with his staged readings by stars of popular movies such as "The Breakfast Club.")
Marlene Dietrich in 'Morocco' (LACMA)
After two years broadcasting in New York, “Lux Radio Theater” moved to Hollywood and premiered on CBS on June 1, 1936, with the melodrama “The Legionnaire and the Lady,” an adaptation of Marlene Dietrich’s first American movie, 1930’s “Morocco.” Dietrich reprised her Oscar-nominated role with none other than Clark Gable playing her leading man.
Director-producer Cecil B. DeMille was the host of the show, which was telecast from the Lux Radio Playhouse on Vine which is now the Montalban Theater, from 1936 through 1945. With his sonorous voice and stately gravitas, DeMille was the perfect master of ceremonies. Though the show continued through 1955 with other hosts, the DeMille episodes are the best.
In this Sunday’s Classic Hollywood, I talk with film historian and writer Cari Beauchamp about her fascinating and fun new book, “My First Time in Hollywood: Stories From the Pioneers, Dreamers and Misfits Who Made the Movies.” Beauchamp edited and annotated the first impressions of such famous stars of the silent era as Mary Pickford, Harold Lloyd and Lillian Gish, directors such as DeMille and D.W. Griffith, as well as cinematographers, editors and screenwriters who came to Hollywood when cinema was still in its infancy. It's a wonderful portrait of the town and the industry of nearly a century ago.
From the Hollywood Star Walk
Notable births this week include Bob Hope (May 29); Howard Hawks (May 30); Benny Goodman (May 30); Don Ameche (May 31); Marilyn Monroe (June 1); Andy Griffith (June 1); Johnny Weissmuller (June 2); and Tony Curtis (June 3)
The Mighty Quinn
Two-time Oscar-winning actor Anthony Quinn (“Viva Zapata!,” “Lust for Life”) died June 3, 2001, in Boston from respiratory failure. Here is the L.A. Times obit as it appeared in print on June 4, 2001.
For more vintage Hollywood, go to the Classic Hollywood Los Angeles Times Facebook page and follow me on Twitter at @mymackie