Hollywood: The Fourth Week: July 7 to 13

Joseph Ignatius Breen, 1888 to 1965, was an American film censor for the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America — “the tough Irish Catholic” appointed by the Roman Catholic National Legion of Decency to censor films that the Legion deemed immoral. In 1936, Liberty Magazine wrote that Breen’s appointment gave him “more influence in standardizing world thinking than Mussolini, Hitler or Stalin.”

Jack Vizzard was a film censor, who worked for the Hollywood Production Code office for 25 years. Mandated by neither civil nor ecclesiastical authority, he was for almost a quarter of a century the self‐imposed superego of the movie studios. He rationalized the studios’ self-censorship as the least of many evils ranging from anarchy to theocracy.

The original Mama Weiss was established on Rodeo Drive in 1929. Serving Hungarian dishes in a homey atmosphere, it became a favourite hangout for Hollywood celebrities — among them, Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lancaster, Peter Lorre, Billy Wilder, Jon Barrymore, Miriam Hopkins, Myrna Loy and Marilyn Monroe. In the 1950s, Francesca ‘Mama’ Weiss became one of the first celebrity chefs with her own live TV show on the Los Angeles station KHG.

Wil Wright’s chain of fancy, old-style ice cream parlours was defined by its slogan ‘It’s Heavenly!’ The Sherman Oaks location on Ventura and Van Nuys Boulevard was designed like a turn-of-the century ice cream parlour in red, pink and white, its glass jars filled with candies. The chairs were rimmed with white metal, and had striped red-and-white leather seat cushions. The tables were marble-topped, and ice cream was served in metal and glass parfait dishes — peppermint stick, chocolate burnt almond, vanilla bean, raspberry shake made with fresh raspberries, orange sherbert, butter pecan and Nellerode Bula, containing actual rum and fine old brandy. It was a favourite with Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack buddies.

Olvera Street, named in 1877, is a historic district in downtown Los Angeles, and a part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. The tree-shaded, pedestrian mall marketplace with craft shops, restaurants and roving troubadours has been described as a “Top Five” in the Great Streets of America journal.

Bloomed lenses were coated with a thin film of magnesium fluoride or similar to reduce the amount of light lost by reflection.

Hollywood Park was a thoroughbred race course located in Inglewood, California, abo three miles from Los Angeles International Airport. It closed in 2013. Between 1938 and 1975, a ‘goose girl’ in native Dutch dress was appointed to keep the 500 geese on the infield lake from being stampeded by running horses.

Hildegard Frieda Albertine Knef, 1925 to 2002, was a German actress, singer and writer. Born in Ulm to a decorated World War I veteran, she went to the State Film School at Babelsberg, Berlin, where Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, asked to meet her. She was warned to stay away from him. During the Battle of Berlin, she dressed as a soldier to stay with her lover Ewald von Demandowsky, and joined him in the defence of Schmargendorf. Captured by the Soviets, she escaped and returned to Berlin. David O. Selznick invited her to Hollywood, but she refused his contract which involved her changing her name to Gilda Christian and pretending to be Austrian rather than German. Years later, her first husband encouraged her to try again. She changed her name to Neff, but her nude scenes in the German film Die Sünderin (1950) and her Nazi lover when she was a 19-year-old told against her. It was 1955 before she was offered an important role in America — in the musical Silk Stockings by Cole Porter. She married three times.

Kurt Hirsch was Neff’s first husband, married to her from 1947 to 1952. He was a US information (film) officer. Of Czech origin, he lost 12 relatives in Auschwitz.

Faith Marie Domergue, 1924 or 1925 to 1999, was an American film and television actress. Discovered at age 16 by media and aircraft mogul Howard Hughes, she was signed to a contract with Hughes’s RKO Radio Pictures and cast as the lead in the studio’s thriller, Vendetta. She went on to appear in many science fiction and horror pictures, earning her a reputation as an early “scream queen.”

Howard Robard Hughes Jr., 1905 to 1976, was an American business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director and philanthropist. During his lifetime, he was one of the most financially successful individuals in the world. Later in life, he became known for his eccentric behaviour and reclusive lifestyle — oddities that were caused, in part, by a worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain from a near-fatal plane crash, and increasing deafness. As a film tycoon, Hughes gained fame in Hollywood in the late 1920s, when he produced big-budget and often controversial films such as The Racket (1928), Hell’s Angels (1930), and Scarface (1932).

Hugo Geronimo Fregonese, 1908 to 1987, was married to Faith Domergue from 1947 to 1958. An Argentine film director and screenwriter, he worked in both Hollywood and his home country. Most of his American films were Westerns and crime melodramas, such as Man in the Attic (1953) and Black Tuesday (1954). He was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing for his feature film, My Six Convicts (1952).

Peter Berneis, 1910 to 1985, was a Berlin-born writer and actor, known for Chicago Calling (1951), No Survivors, Please (1964) and Tunnel 28 (1962).

Precious Bane is a novel by Mary Webb, first published in 1924. It appears that “the ill-famed” script never did reach the studio. In 1957, the book was made into a six-part BBC television drama series, and in 1968 produced by French Television ORTF as a play.

Leonid Kinskey, c. 1894 or 1903 to 1998, was a Russian-born film and television actor. Although he enjoyed a long career, he is best known for his role as Sascha in the film Casablanca (1942). Born in St. Petersburg, he started his career as a mime in Imperial Russian theatres. Fleeing Russia in 1921, he acted on stage in Europe and South America before arriving in New York City in January 1924.

Joseph Sigal, born in Dublin, was a member of the Belgian colony in Eire and former Honorary Consul attached to the Belgian Legation.

Jules Stern — a typo for Jules Stein.

Known today as the Hollywood & Western or Mayer Building, the first home of the Motion Picture Association of America, Central Casting, of the Hays Office and of the Ben Hecht Company is a four-story art deco office building at 5504 Hollywood Boulevard. Designed by S. Charles Lee, and built by Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg, the building opened in 1928. Sixty years later, it was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #336, and on 2015 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) is today an American trade association representing the five major film studios of the United States, and the video streaming service Netflix. Founded in 1922 as the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, its original goals were to ensure the viability of the American film industry, which resulted in the Production (or Hays) Code in 1930, replaced by a voluntary film rating system in 1968.

The House of Murphy was located on 410 S. San Vicente, Beverly Hills, California. A nightclub and restaurant, it specialized in corned beef and cabbage. Owned by Bob Murphy, an actor who had been a “singing emcee” in vaudeville, it was a self-styled New York steak house, whose motto was: “It’s my life. I live it. I love it. Criticism be damned!”

Paula Raymond (born Paula Ramona Wright), 1924 to 2003, was an American model and actress, who played leading lady in numerous movies and television series. She was the niece of American pulp-magazine editor, Farnsworth Wright.

Arlene Carol Dahl, born 1925, is an American actress and former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract star, who achieved fame during the 1950s. The eldest of her three children is actor Lorenzo Lamas. She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Jimmy Durante made two movies in 1950: The Great Rupert and The Milkman.

Rev Fr John Joseph Devlin, 1898 to 1977, was founder and director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Legion of Decency, which rated Hollywood movies for their moral content. He was a frequent script consultant, and for many years known as Hollywood’s “Padre of the Films.” Born in Ireland, he graduated Mungret College near Limerick, was ordained a Catholic priest in 1922, and came to America that same year. He served as pastor of St. Victor Catholic Church in West Hollywood from 1929 to 1976, opening its school, and overseeing the building of its convent and rectory. He was honored as a Domestic Prelate (Monsignor) in 1950.

Ruth Waterbury, 1896 to 1982, was an American film critic and writer for over 50 years, and president of the Hollywood Women’s Press Club five times. In the 1960s she published biographies of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Catherine Rosalind Russell, 1907 to 1976, was an American actress, comedian, screenwriter and singer, known for her role as fast-talking newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson in the Howard Hawks’s His Girl Friday (1940). A noted comedienne, she was also known for playing dramatic characters — especially wealthy, dignified, ladylike women. She attributed her long career to the fact that, although usually playing classy and glamorous roles, she never became a sex symbol.

Carl Frederick Brisson, 1912 to 1984, was a theatre and film producer. Born in Denmark, he moved to England at age 10, and served in the US Air Force during World War II. Married to Rosalind Russell from 1941 to 1976, he was known for his work on Damn Yankees (1958), The Pajama Game (1957) and The Velvet Touch (1948).

Built in 1939, Los Angeles Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States, and regarded as the last of the great train stations. It was jointly commissioned in 1933 by Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroads, intended to consolidate the three local railroad terminals.

The Streamliner

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