Happy 105th Birthday, Vincent Price!

The great Vincent Price was born Vincent Leonard Price Jr. 105 years ago today in St. Louis, Missouri. Here are 10 trivia tidbits from his life:

  • Price and fellow horror legend Christopher Lee share a birthday (though Price was 11 years Lee’s elder). Peter Cushing was born on May 26. The frightening trio appeared in two pictures together: Scream and Scream Again (1970) and House of the Long Shadows (1983).
  • Vincent Price was a gourmet chef and authored several cookbooks.
  • Price’s height—he was 6′ 4″—was limiting early in his career, as directors and casting people were reluctant to use actors who were taller than their leading men.
  • A diorama in Tombstone, Arizona, that tells the history of the town features recorded narration by Vincent Price.
  • A lifelong art collector, Price received his bachelor’s degree in art history from Yale University and in 1951 founded an art gallery and foundation bearing his name at East Los Angeles College. The college has since built an art museum named in Price’s honor.
  • Vincent Price was close friends with actress Cassandra Peterson, best known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
  • As a contestant on the game show The $64,000 Question, Price won $32,000.
  • Vincent Price appeared as narrator on a number of rock-era recordings, working with acts such as Alice Cooper, Michael Jackson and Deep Purple.
  • Though Price cited Cary Grant as his favorite actor, the two never appeared in a picture together.
  • In William Castle‘s camp classic The Tingler, Vincent Price’s character experienced the movies’ first LSD trip (all in the interest of science, mind you).

Happy birthday, Mr. Price, wherever you may be!

Vincent Price

Happy 108th Birthday, James Stewart!

The great James Stewart was born 108 years ago today in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He remains one of the most popular actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age (and a favorite here at Cladrite Radio). Here are ten trivia tidbits about James Stewart:

  1. James Stewart was the first prominent actor to enlist in the military during World War II. He joined the Army eight months before Pearl Harbor and served overseas for 21 months, where, as a pilot with the 445th Bomb Group, 703rd squadron, he flew 20 combat missions and rose to the rank of colonel.
  2. Stewart held the highest active military rank of any actor in history. After World War II, he continued serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, ultimately attaining the rank of brigadier general.
  3. James Stewart attended Princeton University, where he graduated in 1932 with a degree in architecture.
  4. Stewart was a member of Princeton’s Triangle Club, a musical-comedy theater group. A 1931 recording exists of Stewart performing the song “Day After Day” with the Princeton Triangle Club Dance Orchestra (regular listeners to Cladrite Radio have heard this recording).
  5. Stewart played the accordion and hoped to do demonstrate his facility with the instrument in the 1957 picture Night Passage, but his playing was dubbed by a professional musician.
  6. James Stewart wore the same hat in all of his westerns.
  7. Stewart was very conservative, politically, supporting such presidential candidates as Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
  8. James Stewart was originally in line to play Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest, but because Vertigo had not done well at the box office, director Alfred Hitchcock went with Cary Grant instead.
  9. Stewart was a bachelor until age 41, but his marriage to former model Gloria Hatrick McLean was a happy one.
  10. James Stewart’s Best Actor Oscar statuette (The Philadelphia Story, 1940) was on display in the window of his father’s hardware store for 25 years.
  11. The word “Philadelphia” on that statuette was misspelled.

Happy birthday, Mr. Stewart, wherever you may be.

James Stewart

Meet Us at the Campus Theatre!

We’ve long had a great affinity for old movie theatres—we can think of no public spaces of which we’re more fond—and though we don’t think we’ve ever acknowledged it in this space, we get a great kick, too, out of venerable business establishments with “Campus” in their names. So when someone near and dear to us sent us this photograph of the Campus Theatre in Denton, Texas, our old heart went pit-a-pat.

The Campus, situated in downtown Denton, opened for business in 1949, intended to serve the students, employees and faculty members of a pair of nearby colleges: The University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. The first picture to screen at the Campus? I Was a Male War Bride, starring Denton native Ann Sheridan and Cary Grant.

It continued to be a going concern until 1985, when it was shuttered. A few years later, the theatre was purchased by the Greater Denton Arts Council, which operates it as a community performing arts center. We checked the calendar on their website and see no signs of motion pictures being exhibited there, which is disappointing, but perhaps we just didn’t dig deeply enough.

It’s a pet peeve of ours when classic theatres are preserved and restored, but their original reason for existing is ignored. By all means, play host to concerts, plays and high school talent shows, if you must, but if you’re not showing a movie (preferably a classic film from the Golden Age of Hollywood) at least once a month, you’re not doing right by that old bijou, we say.

Campus Theatre, Denton, Texas

Happy Birthday, Cary Grant!

Former acrobat Archie Leach, who would go on to worldwide fame as the suave leading man Cary Grant, was born 112 years ago today in Horfield, a suburb of Bristol, England.

Grant was born into a troubled family. His father was an alcoholic and his mother was placed in a mental institution, though young Archie was first told she’d gone off to a seaside resort and later that she’d passed away (she hadn’t), and he wouldn’t see her again for some 20 years.

Archie was active in theatrics as a child, performing with a group of acrobats known as the Bob Pender Stage Troupe. He traveled extensively with the troupe, eventually landing in NYC where the troupe performed on Broadway. When the show closed, Grant decided not to return to England, instead remaining in NYC and touring as a vaudeville performer before eventually moving up to the legitimate theatre. He signed with Paramount Pictures in 1932, and after selecting a new name (with the input of Fay Wray, with whom he’d appeared in a Broadway play called Nikki), he debuted in This Is the Night (1932), opposite Thelma Todd and Lili Damita. Grant wasn’t happy with that film, but the critics praised his performance and he was off and running on his way to a legendary career.

Cary Grant is one of our favorites (and surely one of yours, too), and we wish him a happy birthday, wherever he may be.

Cary Grant

A Nickel’s Worth of Grub at the Automat

We are fascinated by Automats, those self-serve restaurants that asked diners to drop nickels in slots in order to raise one of dozens of small glass doors to access a serving a meatloaf or apple pie.

Horn and Hardart opened the United States’ first Automat in Philadelphia in 1902, but they are mostly closely associated with New York City, where they thrived for decades before dying off in the 1980s and early ’90s. There were only a handful remaining when we arrived in the Big Apple in 1982, and we just made it to the last one before it closed in 1991.

But the Automat lives on in old (and not-so-old) movies, and we’ve devoted a playlist on the Cladrite Radio Youtube channel to scenes depicting these grand old eateries.

The most recent addition, from a 1925 silent called The Early Bird, can be viewed below, but if you wish to see full playlist of a dozen clips (and you do, take it from us), just follow this link. You’ll enjoy scenes featuring Joan Crawford, Ray Milland, Jean Arthur, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Debbie Reynolds, Sylvia Sidney, and many more.