Remembering Ann Dvorak on Her 107th Birthday

Here are 10 things you should know about actress Ann Dvorak, born 107 years ago today. She never became, perhaps, quite the star she might have been, but she delivered many a memorable turn, particularly during the Precode Era, and remains a favorite among discerning movie buffs.

Our thanks go out to Christina Rice, author of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel and the woman behind the terrific website AnnDvorak.com, for sharing an image with us.

Happy 121st Birthday, Paul Muni!

Actor Paul Muni was born Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund in what is now the Ukraine 121 years ago today. Here are 10 PM Did-You-Knows:

  • Both of his parents were professional actors in the Yiddish theatre.
  • Muni grew up speaking Yiddish. When he was seven, his family left Austria-Hungary and settled in Chicago.
  • Beginning in 1908, Muni spent four years with New York’s Yiddish Art Theatre before moving on to work for the next 14 years with other Yiddish theatres in NYC.
  • His first English-language role—and Broadway debut—was in a 1926 production of a play called We Americans. Though just 31 years of age, Muni portrayed an elderly man.
  • Muni began his motion picture career in 1929, but continued to alternate between the Broadway stage and Hollywood.
  • Muni, along with James Dean, is one of just two actors to receive an Oscar nomination for his first film role (The Valiant, 1929) and his last (The Last Angry Man, 1959). Muni totaled six Oscar nominations, winning once (Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Story of Louis Pasteur, 1936).
  • Muni’s nickname was Munya.
  • Muni suffered his entire life with a rheumatic heart.
  • Muni turned down the role of Roy Earle in High Sierra (1941). The part eventually went to Humphrey Bogart.
  • In 1956, Muni won the Tony Award for Best Actor (Dramatic) for his role as Henry Drummond in the play Inherit the Wind.

Happy birthday, Paul Muni, wherever you may be!

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Times Square Tintypes: John Golden

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles theatrical producer John Golden.
 

“PURE AS THE DRIVEN SNOW”

JOHN GOLDEN. He’s the only man who produces clean sex plays. Yet he always manages to give the public what it wants. A shrewd showman, he realizes the value of publicity. Started the “clean” gag because of its healthy box office appeal. It has “it.”
Caricature of John GoldenWas once a bricklayer and the vice president of a chemical company. From the experience gained at the latter he is proficient in making gin.
He wrote the song “Poor Butterfly,” with Raymond Hubbell and Charles B. Dillingham. In fact, his managerial career started on a song. His royalty check for “Goodbye, Girls, I’m Through,” was $40,000. Gave it to Mrs. Golden for a present. She loaned it back to him to produce Turn to the Right.
His favorite actor is Muni Weisenfrend. He never says this without adding: “And Otto Kahn agrees with me.”
Is very much interested in what makes an audience go to a play. Once distributed a circular during the run of Pigs inquiring, “What made you attend this show?” Seventy per cent of the answers were variations of “Because a friend told me about it.”
As a bricklayer he helped build the Garrick Theatre.
For the last thirty years the annual Lambs’ Washing has been held on his estate at Bayside.
He was a partner of Cohan and Harris in the production of Hawthorne of the U. S. A. His task was to pal about with Douglas Fairbanks, seeing that the young acrobat didn’t hurdle over taxicabs and climb up buildings.
He is superstitious. Likes to have a numeral in the title of his plays. Remember: The 1st Year, 2 Girls Wanted, 3 Wise Fools, 4 Walls and 7th Heaven. Considers 27 his lucky number. In roulette and other numerical games of chance he will bet huge amount on it.
He organized the Producing Managers Association. This led to the famous actors’ strike.
The man he quotes most is Ring Lardner.
Is not fussy about clothing. Never goes to a store to purchase wearing apparel. If he needs another tie, shirt or suit, he merely telephones for it.
Thinks Atlantic City and Miami are the only vacation spots worth knowing.
He is one of the few producers who treat the theater as if it were a business. Is in his office by nine every morning and leaves at five. Is in bed every night at ten. He never attends the theater in the evenings. Goes only to matinées. Misses every opening night. Even his own.
Owns the original Old Kentucky Home, having bought the Stephen Foster homestead in Federal Hill to save it from being torn down.
He realizes the value of flattery. Gets the most out of people he is associated with by using it.
His favorite tryout town is Elmira, N. Y. Believes it to be lucky and opens all his shows there.
Was the first to cover the front of a theatre with an electric sign. Did it with 3 Wise Fools at the Criterion. Then the movies took up the idea . . . And how!
He hates the word “clean.” Refrains from using it in his conversations. When it slips out accidentally, he looks embarrassed.
He has collaborated on songs with Irving Berlin, Douglas Fairbanks, Oscar Hammerstein, Victor Herbert and Woodrow Wilson.
Always puts on his glasses when he talks on the telephone.
His hobby is collecting “the key to the city.” He has framed in his office keys to twenty-seven of the most important cities in the United States.
He hates dogs and cringes when he sees one.
Has a barber shop in his office, fully equipped. Every day at twelve a barber appears and shaves him. Every other week he takes a haircut.
His home in Bayside has eight bedrooms. He sleeps in a different room each night, according to his mood.

Times Square Tintypes: Fannie Brice

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles Fannie Brice, comedienne, singer, and theatre and film actress.
 

SAY IT WITH SONGS

FANNIE BRICE. She was born at the stroke of midnight on October 29, 1892. Her square moniker is Fannie Borach.
She enjoys a good cry.
Hasn’t a long list of friends. But those she has she can tap for anything.
She took the tag of Brice from John Brice, a next-door neighbor. He is now a watchman on the Ninth Avenue elevated. She told him that some day he’d see his name in lights.
Is a good judge of diamonds, furs and the value of real estate.
There is one thing in the world she can’t stand. That is cream in her coffee. It makes her sick.
She is the proud mother of two children. A girl of nine and a boy of seven. Has one brother, Lew, in the theatrical business. Also has one sister, Caroline, who believes that she would be a great actress if she didn’t suffer from asthma.
Her hobby is taking photographs of bedrooms. She has a picture of every bedroom she ever lived in.
Made her stage début at Keeney’s Theater in Brooklyn on amateur night. She won first prize singing, “When You’re Not Forgotten by the Girl You Can’t Forget.”
The only instrument she can play is the piano. That is, if hunting for notes with two fingers can be called playing.
Her father owned a string of saloons. He was known as “French Charlie.” Her mother really ran the saloons, for “French Charlie” was always playing pinochle.
When traveling she takes an electric stove with her. She’ll cook for anybody who wants to eat.
She once worked in a movie house on Eighty-third Street and Third Avenue. Here she sang songs, sold tickets and painted signs. Her salary was $8 a week.
The biggest surprises she ever got, good or bad, were from herself.
Is one of the best dressed women in the theater. Has her dresses designed especially for her by Kiviette. While in Hollywood she made dresses for Dolores Costello and Norma Talmadge. She has thirty dresses she hasn’t gotten to yet.
The moon makes her serious.
When watching Fannie perform her mother always says to the people sitting about her: “That’s my daughter. She’s good, isn’t she?”
She dislikes people who are perfect and have everything. Believes that such people miss something in life.
After she sang “My Man” for the first time her salary was raised from $1,000 to $3,000 weekly.
Her present husband is Billy Rose, who also writes her songs for her. Her nickname for him is “Putsy.”
She’d walk ten miles if she could window shop on the way. Otherwise she wouldn’t walk two blocks.
Her first comedy song was “Sadie Salome.” She sang it merely to help Irving Berlin, then a newcomer, along. It started her on the road to fame and fortune.
She is a card shark.

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