Actor Bob Hope’s bigamy, other revelations


This 1972 video is called Bob Hope’s Final Vietnam Christmas Tour.

In this video, everything looked like being alright.

Looked. But is wasn’t alright. Around this military base where Bob Hope performed, the bloody Vietnam war raged.

Though it was Christmas, and Bob Hope in the video sang a Christmas song, at the same time the biggest ever bombing campaign by US B-52 aircraft took place. The United States Air Force dropped at least 20,000 tonnes of explosives on North Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. More than 1,000 Vietnamese died.

And everything wasn’t alright with Bob Hope either.

From the Daily Express in Britain:

The shocking truth about Bob Hope the bigamist actor

A SECRET first marriage, countless affairs and a childhood spent behind bars an explosive new book reveals the shocking truth about the Hollywood star.

By: Peter Sheridan

Saturday, August 16, 2014

When Bob Hope celebrated his 50th anniversary with wife Dolores, the legendary entertainer explained the longevity of their union: “I’ve only been home for three weeks in 50 years.” The marriage endured 69 years until Hope’s death at 100 but his quip was painfully close to the truth, according to an explosive new biography.

The British-born star of film, TV and stage kept his marriage alive despite a lifetime of clandestine affairs and was an often-absent husband and father to his four adopted children, claims author Richard Zoglin in Hope: Entertainer Of The Century.

“Bob Hope had affairs with chorus girls, beauty queens, singers and showbiz wannabes up into his 70s,” reveals Zoglin, “He had a different girl on his arm every night. He was still having affairs into his 80s.”

The writer exposes the shocking private life Hope spent decades concealing: his childhood behind bars in reform school, his secret first marriage to a Vaudeville star and his aloof relationship with frequent screen co-star Bing Crosby.

“He was a narcissistic, self-centred man who put career before family,” says Zoglin. “He craved applause and desperately needed to be loved. He could sleep with anyone he wanted, and he did.”

Hope found fame in films including The Cat And The Canary, The Paleface, and opposite Bing Crosby in The Road To Singapore and its five sequels. His TV specials topped ratings for many years and he entertained US troops through the Second World War and conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. He has been commemorated on stamps and had ships, bridges, museums, villages, streets and an airport named in his honour.

His marriage to nightclub singer Dolores Reade was considered one of Hollywood’s most successful and enduring, yet it was founded on a lie and may never have even been a legal marriage, the author discovered.

“Bob and Dolores always claimed that they married in February 1934 in Erie, Pennsylvania. But at that time he was secretly married to his Vaudeville partner Louise Troxell, after three years together on and off,” says Zoglin. “I found divorce papers for Bob and Louise dated November 1934, so either Bob Hope was a bigamist or he lied about marrying Dolores in February that year.

“He’d actually married Louise in January 1933 in Erie when they were travelling on the Vaudeville circuit. When he claimed he had married Dolores in Erie he was actually miles away in New York, on Broadway.

“More intriguing, there is no record anywhere of his marriage to Dolores, if it happened. And there are no wedding photos, either. But he never forgot Louise and quietly sent her money in her later years.”

Hope found fame in films often playing a wise-cracking, girl-chasing, blustering coward: a character bearing more than a passing resemblance to the real Hope.

“He had women in every port,” says Zoglin “He had affairs with Ethel Merman and Doris Day but usually it was not his co-stars but starlets that he bedded. His team of writers remember an orgy in his New York hotel room one night, with naked bodies everywhere. But some lovers were more long-term. Marilyn Maxwell became his lover in the 1950s and was with him so often people called her Mrs Hope. She wanted to marry him but Dolores wouldn’t give Bob a divorce.

“In the 1960s his lover was Welsh beauty queen Rosemarie Frankland, Britain’s first Miss World. He moved her to Hollywood, paid for her apartment and told friends she was the love of his life. Their affair lasted more than 30 years. Even in his 80s he had a long-term affair which must have been serious because his lover later sued for breach of contract claiming that Hope had promised to support her for life. The case was settled out of court.

“Dolores came to an understanding with Hope. He could play around as long as he never brought his mistresses home and never embarrassed her publicly.

“It was actually a very good marriage, except for his serial infidelity.” Yet Hope’s womanising may have been a result of a love-starved, impoverished childhood with a boozing absentee father and a mother struggling to cope with seven sons.

“His father was a neglectful alcoholic who wasn’t there much and money was tight,” says Zoglin. “He was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham in south-east London but the family moved to Weston-super-Mare, then Bristol, to smaller and smaller houses, until they moved to America when Bob was four.”

It was a troubled upbringing. He sleepwalked through city streets, so his mother tied his feet to his older brother each night. After brushes with the law, Hope dropped out of school at 15.

“He had a tough childhood, was arrested for shoplifting, branded a ‘delinquent’ and sent to reform school for seven months. He got out but broke his probation and was sent back for another year. Yet he never mentioned it in his memoirs. At 19 he was stabbed in a fight, supposedly defending a local girl from a gang. He needed a blood transfusion and stitches but never spoke about it.”

After doing a series of jobs, ranging from shoe salesman to butcher and boxer to dance instructor, Hope landed in Vaudeville, dancing with Siamese twins and in hard times on street corners for pennies, before winning his big Hollywood break in 1938. Yet with fame came more travel, keeping him from his four adopted children.

Hope’s nephew Tom Malatesta told the author: “Everything else in his life was not as important as what he was doing for a living.”

Says Zoglin: “It was hard for all his children. They felt his absence. He just wasn’t home much. And when he was home, it felt like a star visiting, rather than a loving father. He was always emotionally detached and insular. He’d never admit a mistake or say he was sorry. Fame and travel made him even more distant.”

Despite Hope making six movies with Bing Crosby, Zoglin reveals: “They were not close friends and even when living nearby they rarely socialised. Bob told a friend he simply didn’t like Bing very much.”

Dorothy Lamour, who got second billing after Crosby and above Hope in their first Road movie in 1940, came to detest both co-stars, who reduced her role in each successive film.

“Bob and Bing formed a production company in 1947 to produce sub sequent Road movies and didn’t include Lamour in the deal,” says Zoglin. “She was very upset. When the last Road movie was filmed in 1961, Bob and Bing decided Lamour was too old, even though she was younger than both of them, and hired Joan Collins instead, giving Dorothy just a small cameo. She was outraged.”

And Hope was a tough boss. “His team of writers loved him but they were on call 24/7 and had no lives of their own,” says Zoglin.

One writer had to give up his home on occasions to allow for Hope’s illicit trysts. His co star Katharine Hepburn called him “the biggest egomaniac”.

A shrewd investor, Hope owned vast land holdings, television stations, ranches, oil wells, and his own production company, making him one of America’s wealthiest men.

However, Zoglin explains: “Growing up in the Depression left him extremely tight fisted. He watched every cent. When relatives stayed at his home he sometimes charged them for using his phone.”

Hope hit his movie heyday in the 1950s and ruled over American TV for another three decades but by the 1980s his act was looking dated. Hope’s unquestioning patriotism that had won millions of American hearts when he was entertaining troops during the 1940s and 1950s earned him a legion of enemies in the 1970s as he supported the Vietnam War and poked fun at hippies and anti war protesters.

“Bob lingered too long in the limelight, continuing to make TV specials in his 80s even as his eye sight and hearing faded and he became doddery,” says Zoglin.

“He showed signs of dementia, repeating himself and asking the same question over and over. It damaged his reputation and his family had to persuade him to step down.

“But he found it hard to let go of the applause and adulation. He felt his life had no meaning without it. He’d grown up insecure in an unstable home and needed public affirmation to survive. Perhaps his womanising was a reflection of that need to be loved.”

If Hope’s infidelities were a weight on his wife’s mind, you wouldn’t know it from her golden anniversary gift to him – though it may have contained a subtle barb. Dolores gave Hope a paperweight, with the inscription: “Don’t think these three weeks haven’t been fun!”

Actress Lauren Bacall, human rights and peace


This video is a scene from the film To Have and Have Not; with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Lauren Bacall stuck by her principles

Saturday 16th August 2014

PETER FROST remembers one of Hollywood’s greatest stars who also spent a lifetime fighting for progressive causes

LAUREN BACALL, one of the last remaining icons of Hollywood’s golden age, has died at her home in Manhattan. She was 89.

Bacall became known for acting opposite her husband, Humphrey Bogart, in several 1940s classics including The Big Sleep, Key Largo and Dark Passage.

She will best be remembered for two things. Teaching Bogart to whistle. “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” It might have been her first film but was without doubt among the most memorable lines of all time.

She will also be remembered as one of those golden Hollywood female stars who despite, or perhaps because of, all the glitz and the glamour were such effective voices in campaigning for so many liberal, progressive and left-wing causes in US politics.

The list is a long one, from Marilyn Monroe to Jane Fonda, and today from Susan Sarandon to Daryl Hannah.

Lauren Bacall was one of the earliest stars to put her career on the line by nailing her political colours to the mast.

She campaigned for democrat Harry S Truman for president — she even posed sat on the top of a piano while Truman played.

In October 1947, Bacall persuaded her husband of two years Humphrey Bogart to join her in Washington to protest at the investigations of Hollywood and the entire US film industry by the red-baiting House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Bogart was 45, Bacall just 20.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Huac Protests (stock footage / archival footage)

Hollywood actors in Washington, DC in support of the Hollywood Ten. Actors cross street. Still photos protesting arrest of Hollywood Ten. Signs in support of Dalton Trumbo. Bogie and Bacall rally in support (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall).

The Peter Frost article continues:

In her first autobiography, By Myself, Bacall tells us that protest would be her “first grown-up exposure to a cause,” and it would start a lifetime of political campaigning.

Bogart himself felt strongly about HUAC’s McCarthite witch-hunts, but it was Bacall’s passion that persuaded him to go with her to Washington.

She was thrilled to be standing up for what she believed in. The protest didn’t stop the disgraceful blacklisting, first of the Hollywood Ten and then of hundreds of talented writers, musicians, actors and other film makers.

Bacall and Bogart helped form a Committee for the First Amendment. It called itself a non-political group of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, campaigning only for “honesty, fairness and the accepted rights of an American Citizen.”

The Committee made a short film called Hollywood Fights Back and the deep female voiceover spells it out: “This is Lauren Bacall. Have you seen Crossfire yet? … The American people have awarded it four stars. The Un-American Committee gave the man who made it a subpoena.”

Bacall and Bogart’s actions led to a media campaign accusing them of being communists — they weren’t. A frightened Bogart even wrote a press article entitled I’m No Communist. Bacall was made of sterner stuff.

She told the Washington Daily News: “When I left the HUAC building I couldn’t help but feel that every American who cares anything at all about preserving American ideals should witness part of this investigation. It starts with Hollywood, but I’m sorry to say I don’t think it will end with us.”

Her experience in that early political campaign began a life for her as an outspoken champion of so many causes.

Perhaps her proudest moment was her enthusiastic support of the Nuclear Freeze Movement in the 1980’s. She spoke at meetings and rallies all over the country helping to make this a key chapter in the history of US anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons movements.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) talks with actress Lauren Bacall prior to delivering a speech to a Nuclear Freeze rally at Northeastern University on Oct. 5, 1982, in Boston. (Photo: AP Photo)

Over her long life and career she used her name and fame to help and support many Democratic Party leaders including Adlai Stevenson, Robert Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and much more recently Hillary Clinton.

Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in The Bronx. Her Jewish background brought its share of anti-semitism and in life she learned to hate all kind of racism and intolerance.

Much later she would discover that Shimon Peres who became the prime minister of Israel was a family relative. Although she did visit him in Tel Aviv on one occasion there is no evidence that she offered him any political support.

After graduating from high school, she entered the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and worked as a model, landing on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

That is where the wife of director Howard Hawks first saw her and suggested her husband give her a screen test. Hawks changed her name from Betty to Lauren. The last name Bacall was the maiden name of her mother.

In 1944 Hawks cast Bacall in the role of Marie “Slim” Browning in the film To Have And Have Not based on a story by Ernest Hemingway. The choice for the male star was between Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart. Lauren rather fancied Grant.

Bogart, of course, got the part and by the spring of 1945 they were married. Bacall had two children with Bogart. He died from oesophageal cancer in 1957.

A year later, she became engaged to Frank Sinatra, but he broke off the match. “He behaved like a complete shit,” Bacall said later.

She coined the term “The Rat Pack” to describe Bogart, Sinatra and their friends.

From 1961 to 1969, she was married to actor Jason Robards, with whom she had another son, Sam.

When it seemed Hollywood had tired of Lauren Bacall she moved from the silver screen to the live theatre and continued to win both awards and public acclaim.

There was a brief but successful return to making movies and more recently her career continued with TV and animated voiceovers. The honours and awards kept coming as her career wound down.

So let’s sum up and leave the last word to the star herself. In 2005 Bacall told TV’s Larry King that she was “anti-Republican and a liberal. The L-word. Being a liberal is the best thing on Earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind.”

Hollywood actress Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)


This video is the film THE BIGAMIST (1953) Joan Fontaine – Ida Lupino – Edmond O’Brien – Edmund Gwenn.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

The unknown women of Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

1 February 2014

It is unfortunate that tributes to actress Joan Fontaine, who passed away December 15 at the age of 96, have largely focused on the longstanding feud between Fontaine and her sister, fellow performer Olivia de Havilland. Certain tell-all revelations included in her 1978 memoir No Bed of Roses have also been given ample treatment. For the most part, the entertainment press concerns itself with gossip and little else.

Too little has been said about Fontaine’s body of work. She was a remarkable actress who contributed performances of real depth and sensitivity to a number of Hollywood films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. She was fortunate enough to work with many of the more interesting and talented film directors of that period, including George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock, Max Ophuls, George Stevens, Anthony Mann, Fritz Lang, Nicholas Ray, William Dieterle, Mitchell Leisen, Jean Negulesco and future blacklist victim John Berry (she also apparently had a small, uncredited part in Orson Welles’s Othello [1952]).

Fontaine appeared opposite many talented actors as well, among them Welles, Cary Grant, Robert Ryan, Burt Lancaster, Joseph Cotten, Charles Boyer, Tyrone Power, Louis Jourdan, Dennis O’Keefe, Zachary Scott, Mel Ferrer, Mark Stevens and others.

While Fontaine had performed on stage and screen from the mid-1930s onward (including a significant role in Cukor’s The Women [1939]), her breakout role came in 1940, in Hitchcock’s Rebecca. Based on the 1938 novel of the same title by Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca tells the story of a young woman who works as the paid companion of a wealthy society matron. She meets rich widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) and the two fall in love. As she steps out of her class and apparently out of her depth to marry him, she soon confronts a darker reality under the surface of her idyllic marriage.

De Winter’s former wife Rebecca died under mysterious circumstances. Her presence still haunts his mansion, the gothic estate of Manderley. The frightening Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), a servant fiercely devoted to the late Rebecca, makes life hell for the young wife (known only as “the second Mrs. De Winter”).

Fontaine’s terror is strongly felt, as is the warmth of her character contrasted to the cold world of shadows and insulating wealth in Manderley. A theme emerges over the course of Fontaine’s work and it establishes itself in Rebecca. A fear and unease—a profound insecurity—dominates many of the characters Fontaine played, as fantasy turns to nightmare and promise into a prison. Something about the contradictions of the war years and the postwar period, the gap between the official “optimistic,” “democratic” version and life as it was actually, frighteningly experienced by masses of people, finds expression in her best work.

The 1940s brought several significant projects to Fontaine. In Suspicion (1941), also directed by Hitchcock, she would again play a wife for whom wedded bliss turns into a torment. Her husband, played by Cary Grant, may or may not be plotting her murder. Fontaine won the Academy Award for her performance. In Jane Eyre (1944), a strong adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë classic, featuring Welles as Rochester, Fontaine gave an especially memorable and moving performance as the title heroine.

As was evident from Rebecca going forward, Fontaine was capable of contributing something rich and thoughtful. Her face and body language, alone, could speak volumes. She was, in this sense, a very physical actress.

In a 1978 interview with Doug McClelland collected in American Classic Screen Interviews, Fontaine said “George Cukor … gave me the best acting advice I ever had, and I had been to many teachers. In films, you must think and feel, and the rest will take care of itself, he advised me. The least gesture, you see, is what counts in films. Thinking and feeling are what really matter up there on the screen.”

Her best characters do have a weight to them, an internal life which one can discern. It’s unsettling to see, for example, the machinations beneath the surface of her social climber Christabel in Nicholas Ray’s Born to Be Bad (1950). The mixture of adoration and hatred toward the very wealthy which she carries inside her, and which can turn at an instant, is communicated well by Fontaine. Christabel’s words say one thing, while Fontaine’s face tells you the truth of her motives.

Fontaine would give another of her best performances for German-born director Max Ophuls, in his beautiful 1948 film Letter from An Unknown Woman. Fontaine’s character is a young working class woman who becomes infatuated with a famous musician. Fate brings them together briefly for a short but passionate affair, which ends as suddenly as it began. While the infatuation remains for the “unknown woman,” the famed pianist fails to remember her during later encounters. In the end, he has meant everything to her and she has meant little to him.

One is moved by the awkward and unsure effort of Fontaine’s character to be seen, to be recognized as someone of value. The character’s life could almost be summed up by the last words of the letter referred to in the film’s title: “If only…”

One gets the sense that Fontaine, who grew up in the well-to-do home of successful but troubled British parents in Tokyo, knew something about wealth and success, including its more vacuous, unfulfilling and sheltered aspects and brought this to her performances. She knew, intimately, how dreams, careers and lives could be dashed. Not for nothing did the actress once candidly describe Hollywood in this way: “I realize that one outstanding quality it possesses is not the lavishness, the perpetual sunshine, the golden opportunities, but fear.”

Many of Fontaine’s characters had the feeling and texture of real life about them and showed us something of the anxiety and unsettled nature of her time. Her best films continue to speak to us today. Readers are encouraged to explore her work.

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J Edgar Hoover and Hollywood


This video is called McCarthyism in America.

By Steve Richards in Britain:

J Edgar Hoover Goes To The Movies: The FBI And The Origins Of Hollywood’s Cold War
by John Sbardellati (Cornell University Press, £27.95)

Monday 03 December 2012

John Sbardellati’s book on the paranoid FBI director’s impact on the US film industry is an insightful account

It’s widely believed that the communist witch hunts of the 50s in the US were the result of hysteria cynically spread by the political careerist Joseph McCarthy.

But as John Sbardellati’s detailed retrospective on the period makes clear, the real driving force was actually the genuine – if totally unfounded – fear of FBI director J Edgar Hoover. Hoover’s concern? That communism was infecting the US way of life principally, it would seem, through ingeniously subtle propaganda inserted into Hollywood films.

There is much to dislike about Hoover and the book reveals him to be a paranoid, xenophobic, racist who moulded the FBI into a weapon to combat a cultural conspiracy which only existed in his mind.

J Edgar Hoover Goes To The Movies is not a work of character assasination though. It is a meticulous and objective look at how anti-communism took a firm hold of Hollywood.

As its author points out, Hoover’s fears reflected those of a country which never seems to stop labouring under the belief that its freedom is under threat. Hoover’s part was simply to heighten and spread the anti-communist fears already existing among conservatives in the post-war US.

Aided by organisations such as the Ayn Rand-supported Motion Picture Alliance and latterly the House Un-American Activities Committee, Hoover’s FBI mounted a mammoth secret investigation of the ideological content of Hollywood cinema.

Sbardellati reveals that Hoover’s delusional G-men began seeing the veiled spectre of communist ideology everywhere in films, from the positive depiction of a Russian soldier in the anti-fascist B-movie The Master Race (1944), to the demonisation of a capitalist banker in Frank Capra‘s now classic slice of Americana It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).

As it exposes the complex history of the time the book remains admirably succinct and focused. But Sbardellati’s new information also invites a new perspective. The human suffering of those blacklisted in the film industry, such as the Hollywood Ten, has been well documented but Sbardellati hints at a massive cultural loss as well.

As a climate of fear took hold and any film with even a vaguely liberal or politicised message became associated with the communist “threat,” Hollywood became afraid of producing films which examined or criticised US society.

Sbardellati’s book is fascinating and valuable because it gives us an insight into a point when US films began to ignore social problems.

Let’s not forget that a nation’s culture has a pronounced impact on its society. Hoover was right about that at least.

Hollywood witchhunter’s son apologizes for persecution


This is the trailer of the film Trumbo; about the 1947 persecution in the film studios of Hollywood, USA.

By Bill Benfield:

Publisher’s son says sorry for paper’s role in witch-hunts

Tuesday 20 November 2012

The son of Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson apologised today for the trade paper’s role in the 1947 witch-hunt that destroyed the careers of writers, actors and directors accused of having communist ties.

Willie Wilkerson called the blacklist era “Hollywood’s Holocaust” and wrote in the Reporter: “On the eve of this dark 65th anniversary, I feel an apology is necessary.”

He said that his father used the blacklist to get revenge against Hollywood moguls who shut him out of their club when he tried to set up a film studio in the 1920s.

Billy Wilkerson founded the Reporter in 1930 and used it as a vehicle for editorials attacking communist sympathisers and their influence in Hollywood.

“In his maniacal quest to annihilate the studio owners, he realised that the most effective retaliation was to destroy their talent,” his son wrote.

“The easiest way to crush the studio owners was to simply call their actors, writers and directors communists.

“Apart from being charged with contempt for refusing to name names, none of these individuals committed any crimes.”

Studios dominated the industry and denied work to those named on the blacklist.

Some writers worked under pseudonyms and many actors and their families were forced to move overseas for work.

Billy Wilkerson wrote on November 5 1947: “Any man or woman who, under the guise of freedom of speech, or the cloak of the Bill of Rights, or under the pseudo-protection of being a liberal, says things, causes things to be said, or who actually is involved with many of the conspiracies that have now infested this great land of ours, has no place among us, be he commie or what.

“He or she should be rushed out of our business.”

Willie Wilkerson said: “On behalf of my family, and particularly my late father, I wish to convey my sincerest apologies and deepest regrets” to the victims.