Category Archives: FILM HISTORY AND CRITICISM.

How Deep Is Your Love: The Bee Gees’ first hit song for “Saturday Night Fever” still defines the Disco Age.

By John P. Walsh

How Deep Is Your Love (1977) by the Bee Gees ranks number 375 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.1 It sits between White Room (1968) by Cream and Unchained Melody (1965) by The Righteous Brothers. Barry Gibb, the lone surviving Bee Gee today, reportedly said that How Deep Is Your Love is his favorite Bee Gees song. 2 In 2011 it was voted in a TV poll as the UK’s favorite.3 Recorded in the spring of 1977 in anticipation of the album and film Saturday Night Fever to be released later that year— How Deep Is Your Love was released in the U.S. as a single in September 1977. Three months later, after the smash-hit film Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta was released, How Deep Is Your Love became the number one song in the U.S. on Christmas Eve 1977 and stayed in the top spot for three weeks. Although the song had started on the charts in October 1977, when it reached number one it stayed in the top 10 for four months until April 1978 which, at that time, set a longevity record. There are two official music videos for How Deep Is Your Love featuring the Bee Gees.4

This is the later of two official music videos performed by the Bee Gees of How Deep is Your Love.

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The music of the Bee Gees (left to right: Robin, Barry, and Maurice Gibb) and the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta breathed fire into the disco music craze and helped define the disco era in the late 1970’s.
albumA huge international pop music hit starting in late 1977, How Deep is Your Love written and performed by the Bee Gees made its way into the Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track album that went Platinum on January 3, 1978 and was certified 16x Multi-Platinum on November 16, 2017.  It remains one of the top ten-selling albums of all time.

When the Bee Gees were asked by film producer Robert Stigwood to provide five songs for a film tentatively titled Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night based on the 1975 New York magazine fiction article about the urban disco scene, they didn’t want to compose music specifically for a film (although Barry did write the title song for Stigwood’s follow-up picture, Grease). It didn’t help that the Bee Gees were given neither a script nor hardly told what the movie plot was about. They offered Stigwood, their longtime manager, songs that they were already working on, namely, Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, If I Can’t Have You (later sung by Yvonne Elliman), More Than A Woman, and How Deep is Your Love.5 At one early screening with John Travolta and director John Badham, among others, the Bee Gees were pleased though a little surprised when they saw for the first time scenes of the re-titled Saturday Night Fever with their music and lyrics to back it up. Although the music soundtrack at this juncture was demo cuts, the songs they wrote and performed meshed perfectly with the film’s scenes about which they had never been told very much. To be added to their astonishment—as much as anyone else’s there attending that rough cut – is that the Bee Gees had no idea they had embarked on a motion picture that would soon prove to be a milestone in film history.  Saturday Night Fever would perfectly capture a moment in time and forever define the disco age.

john-travolta-arriving-empire-theatre
John Travolta arriving at the London premiere of Saturday Night Fever on March 22, 1978 with companion Kay Edwards.

Following its world premiere in Hollywood on December 7, 1977, Saturday Night Fever became an enormous success. It became Chicago film critic Gene Siskel’s favorite film—soon after, Siskel famously bought Tony Manero’s white suit at a charity auction in 1978 for $2,000. Colleague and friend Roger Ebert writing shortly after Siskel’s death in 1999, believed that Saturday Night Fever had struck Siskel mainly on an emotional level but also for its themes that had impressed him. Other influential film critics were similarly praiseworthy of the film’s subject matter. At the 50th Academy Awards on April 3, 1978 Saturday Night Fever had received only one nomination (John Travolta for Best Actor) in a year where Annie Hall and Star Wars dominated the competition. Robin Gibb later observed that Saturday Night Fever was made on a very low budget, released very late in the year and had no expensive promotion. The film’s word of mouth was good, however, which even included its star, John Travolta, who at its world premiere at then-Mann’s Chinese Theatre admitted watching the musical film on the big screen as if seeing a fantasy or dream for the first time.6

Stigwood and Bee Gees

Producer Robert Stigwood with the Bee Gees at the peak of their careers. Australian Stigwood managed the English-Australian pop-rock band for a decade before Saturday Night Fever launched them into global superstardom.

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Tony Manero’s shiny white polyester suit – bought off the rack in Brooklyn for the making of the film Saturday Night Fever- has been compared to a symbol of aspiration and hope in what is otherwise a dark movie.

Conceptually the song How Deep Is Your Love materialized when, working with collaborator Blue Weaver, Barry Gibb’s instigating question to him in beginning to compose it was: “What is the most beautiful chord that you know?”7 It was the first song the Bee Gees composed that ended up in the film Saturday Night Fever. After a creative hit-and-miss process at the piano – and further collaboration with Robin and Maurice – the song was put together in the middle of night in about four hours at the Château d’Hérouville studios in France.8 This was part of the Bee Gees’ usual working process – arriving into the studio around three o’clock in the afternoon and ending their workday near or after midnight – resulting in all of the film’s songs written quickly, with the lyrics finished later and the disco music taking longer.9 The Bee Gees’ falsetto singing had always been emotional, and it was often by way of collaborating with industry talent— other musicians, producers, and the like—that their music developed in new directions. By the time How Deep is Your Love came about, the Bee Gees had a reputation for being open to suggestions, including the personally emotional piano chords Blue Weaver offered the Brothers Gibb that night.10 The creation of How Deep Is Your Love followed a course already prevalent in the Bee Gees musical career – an attitude of collaboration and creativity in the studio that allowed ideas to be suggested, and beautiful melodies to quickly emerge as the result. Though How Deep is Your Love was composed in one sitting, its arrangement and production took longer which changed some of the song’s original structure. The title was based on what the Bee Gees simply maintained was the variety of connections listeners could make with the phrase How Deep is Your Love – and so providing the song with further universal appeal.11 Following the film’s U.S. release by Paramount Pictures on December 14, 1977 Maurice Gibb believed its ultimate success was the combination of its phenomenal 23-year-old star John Travolta and the music soundtrack whose album had already been certified Gold on November 22, 1977 and certified Platinum on January 3, 1978. The combination of  star power and music –  along with stunning word of mouth and critical acclaim – created a record-shattering synergy for both film and soundtrack album featuring Bee Gees songs making the cultural impact of Saturday Night Fever swift and enduring. How Deep is Your Love remains one of the most anthologized love songs of the modern era. As recently as November 16, 2017, the soundtrack album was certified 16x Multi-Platinum.12

John Travolta.
John Travolta in the 1970’s. Playing 19-year-old Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever about a teen with a good job at the local hardware store in Brooklyn who is trying to dance his way to a better life. His performance earned the 23-year-old Travolta an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role that year.  
Donna Pescow and John Travolta
Donna Pescow as Annette and John Travolta as Tony. In Saturday Night Fever, Annette is Tony’s former dance partner and would-be girlfriend.

Karen Lynn Gorney and John Travolta.

Like Brooklyn-born Donna Pescow and others in the cast of Saturday Night Fever, co-star Karen Lynn Gorney, John Travolta’s love interest in the film,  was a newcomer. Even Travolta who had a swelling fan base because of his ongoing role as Vinnie Barbarino in the popular late 1970’s TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, was not seen as a dance man. Hungry to take his acting career to the next level, Travolta’s energetic dance scenes had critics praising his performance as among the best ever filmed.
saturdaynightfever
This two-minute scene of disco dancing by John Travolta thrust his energetic performance into the annals of film history.

John Travolta as Tony Manero

“Robert Stigwood explained to the Bee Gees about this young guy, who every weekend blows his wages at a disco in Brooklyn. He’s got a really truly Catholic family, and he’s got a good job, but he blows his wages every Saturday night. He has his mates with him. Then he comes back and starts the week again, and this goes on every Saturday night. But it’s just this one Saturday night that’s filmed. So that’s what we knew (about a film we were writing music for) except it was John Travolta playing the part…” Maurice Gibb in Bee Gees: The Authorized Biography.
Sat Night Fever
Tony Manero’s mother and father (Flo Bovasso and Val Bisoglio) had other priorities than Tony’s future.
Sat Night Fever
Tony’s friends Bobby C. (Barry Miller), Double J. (Paul Pape), and Joey (Joseph Cali).

How Deep Is Your Love quickly reached number one internationally in countries such as Canada, Brazil, Finland, Chile, and France. In the Bee Gees’ native England it reached number three which delighted the newly–resurgent pop music group in that they had a top five hit in a country that by the mid-to-late 1970’s saw Punk and New wave rock in the ascendant.13 The Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, also released in 1977, was banned on the airwaves by the BBC for its “gross bad taste” though today it ranks number 175 on the Rolling Stone’s Greatest Hits list – 200 slots higher than the Bee Gees’ disco ballad, How Deep Is Your Love. How Deep Is Your Love and the Saturday Night Fever album provided superstar momentum for the Bee Gees’ next projects, but like their careers up to that point, the English-Australian pop-rock band simply continued their readiness to create music. In The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees, Blue Weaver understood the Bee Gees’ success during this period was not due to their “virtuosity,” although their falsetto vocals were “brilliant,” but their collaborative working method which they pursued until reaching the final product that satisfied them – and clearly satisfied some part of the rest of the world.14

Bee_Gees_1977
The Bee Gees in 1977.
Bee Gees 1978.
Robin, Maurice, and Barry Gibb in 1978. Barry said that year: “When we were kids, we’d sit on each other’s beds all night and plan our careers. We decided that when we got to the top, we’d have our own office. We wanted to get to a point where we wouldn’t have to ever work again so we could sit back and enjoy everything we had accomplished. A few years ago that seemed forever out of reach. Sometimes I think I’m living that dream now. We’ve never really made it before. If this is indeed the top, then it’s better than what we imagined. It’s a lot of fun.” Bee Gees: The Authorized Biography.
Barry Gibb 2017.
As the Bee Gees, Barry and twins Maurice and Robin became one of the world’s biggest bands ever selling more than 220 million records. In 1997 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maurice died in 2003 and Robin in 2012. In 2017 Barry told CBS News: “So when I lost them all, I didn’t know whether I wanted to go on. ”
watch-the-bee-gees-barry-gibb-perform-at-grammy-tribute-05
70-year-old Barry Gibb was honored during Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees in April 2017 where he got up on stage to close out the show to perform a few hit songs.
Barry Gibb 2012
Barry at his brother Robin’s funeral in England in June 2012.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrkjaONJRcA

During one visit to the hospital while Robin was in a coma, Barry sang a song that he had written for him called The End Of The Rainbow.
John Travolta and Barry Gibb Bee Gees Tribute Grammys 2017.

 

NOTES:

  1. Rolling Stones List – https://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-20110407 – Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  2. Barry Gibb’s favorite song – The Bee Gees: 35 Years of Music, Billboard: 27. March 24, 2001.  – Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  3. TV poll – https://web.archive.org/web/20121019120053/http://www.itv.com/beegees/ – Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  4. Song’s recording and release dates – Bee Gees Anthology (songbook) by the Bee Gees, Hal Leonard (1991) and Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.116.
  5. Didn’t want to compose music for a film – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 411; Hardly told the film plot – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.110.
  6. Surprised music with unseen film meshed – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.111; Ebert on Siskel’s favorite film – https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-saturday-night-fever-1977 – Retrieved January 24, 2018; other critics’ praise of film- see Pauline Kael, “Nirvana,” The New Yorker, December 26, 1977, pp. 59-60; film low budget, released late- The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 411. Regarding the white suit that had been bought off the rack in Brooklyn for the film, its symbolism in Saturday Night Fever has been postulated. Professor Deborah Nadoolman Landis, a designer and historian of film costume stated that the white suit was a symbol of aspiration and hope in an otherwise “dark little movie” – see https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/aug/06/john-travolta-white-suit-v-and-a – retrieved January 25, 2018.
  7. Song’s musical concept – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 411-412.
  8. First song composed for Saturday Night Fever, Château d’Hérouville – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.109.
  9. Songs written quickly – Ibid., p.109; lyrics later – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, p. 415.
  10. Open to suggestions – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.107. emotional piano chords – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, p. 411-12.
  11. song composing, arrangement, and production – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 409 and 412. Title chose Ibid. p. 412.
  12. Movie’s ultimate success – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.112. Costing $3.5 million to make, Saturday Night Fever earned an impressive $237.1 million –see “Saturday Night Fever, Box Office Information”Box Office Mojo – retrieved May 26, 2014. Soundtrack album certified God and Platinum -http://www.beegees-world.com/bio_gplat.html -Retrieved February 1 , 2018. certified 16x Multi-Platinum on November 16, 2017 – see https://www.riaa.com/gold-platinum/- retrieved January 24, 2018.
  13. Number one hit internationally – “Songs Written by the Gibb Family on the International Charts – Part 3”(PDF). http://www.brothersgibb.org/download/page-3.pdf – Retrieved January 24, 2018; number 3 in Britain – The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, p. 421.
  14. Continued with their readiness to work – The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 467.©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

St. Francis of Assisi and the Leper.

 

By John P. Walsh

October 4, 2017.

A dramatic scene (4:52 minutes) in Roberto Rossellini’s 1950 Italian film Francesco, giullare di Dio (translated in English as Francis, God’s Jester or, more commonly, as The Flowers of St. Francis) shows St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1181/2-1226) seeking out and embracing a leper. Francis then falls to the ground and, from the depths of his being, he utters in tears: “My God. My Lord and my all!  O great God!”

While this event is dramatized in Rossellini’s film after Francis’s brotherhood is established, it occurred in history nearer the beginning of the Italian saint’s conversion.  In Francis’s own Testament written in 1225—one year before his death at 44 or 45 years old—the saint stated his embrace of the leper became the cause of his conversion. As Francis put it he “exercised mercy” to the leper not because he had been converted but that the leper— a common sight in medieval Europe and one that filled Francis with horror whenever he came upon one—became the astonishing means for his conversion.

In the thirteenth century in Europe, lepers by law had to live apart from the rest of society owing to their contagious infectious disease. Yet from at least the seventh century in Italy onward there was special orders of knights who took care of them. For a rich young man such as Francis seeking glory in military arms, he naturally despised this dastardly contagion and diligently avoided lepers. In the time period that Rossellini’s poignant film scene is set— it is either 1205 or 1206—there existed tens of thousands of church-run leper “hospitals” in Europe including one that was only a short walk outside Assisi’s town walls called San Salvatore delle Pareti.

Before this famous encounter of embracing the leper in the life of St. Francis, Francis, who was around 24 years old, had worked up to the crucial moment only gradually. After he had given up his several quests to be a soldier and returned to Assisi for good, he was welcomed back by his family and friends.  But for the same reasons that he abandoned his military career before it even started, these also prompted him to walk tentatively out of Assisi along the road to the leper hospital (whose site today is a farm field) to interact with its challenging pastoral activity of caring for these patients which stretched back 600 years to Pope Gregory the Great (540-604).  Sometimes it was the sickening smell peculiar to the leper hospital that would waft into Francis’s nostrils and make him flee. Other times, young Francis—who by now was living mostly as a hermit— after venturing to the leper hospital to give them a charitable gift vanished as bell-clanging patients appeared. He left his gift on the roadside because he did not desire to come into any closer quarters with these outcasts.

It took much more time, effort and prayers in solitude which Francis believed were eventually answered by God until he discovered his courage and confidence to embrace a leper as dramatized in Rossellini’s film.  Following a lifetime spent in heroic Franciscan mendicancy, the now world-famous Umbrian saint proclaimed that it was at this moment—as he conquered his fears and embraced the other in love no matter how apparently godforsaken—that his life in and for God truly started.

SOURCE: St Francis of Assisi: A Biography by Johannes Jørgensen (1912). Translated from the Danish with the author’s sanction by T. O’Conor Sloane, Image books, 1955.

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Hollywood Color Portraits: Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor & Lana Turner.

Text by John P. Walsh.

Marlene Dietrich, 1947.

Marlene Dietrich. Paramount, 1947. Photograph by A.L. “Whitey” Schafer.

MARLENE DIETRICH: This Hollywood glamour portrait of forty-six-year-old Marlene Dietrich (1901, Berlin – 1992, Paris) wearing a green turtleneck sweater was taken when the movie actress was starring in Golden Earrings, a romantic spy film made by Paramount Pictures. It was her comeback film following World War II. It was in 1947—the same year that this photograph by A.L. “Whitey” Schafer was made— that Dietrich received what she called her life’s proudest achievement: the Medal of Freedom. While Golden Earrings was a decent film, its main purpose was to provide the actress with a job. Further, it would lead into her next project—the 1948 American romantic comedy A Foreign Affair directed by Billy Wilder—which made Dietrich once again a top star. Following Dietrich’s meteoric rise at Paramount Pictures starting in 1930 her acting parts later stagnated as film directors —including Josef von Sternberg and others—seemed to use her more as a piece of expensive cinematic scenery than as a serious dramatic actress. Like other leading ladies of the time, the Hollywood glamour machine in the 1940’s transformed Dietrich into a golden-haloed blond which accentuated her magnificent cheekbones and sultry eyes under penciled-arc eyebrows and painted nails that this color portrait makes evident. Photographer A. L. “Whitey” Schafer (1902-1951) was a longtime still photographer who started shooting stills in 1923 and continued in that line of work at Columbia Pictures when he moved there in 1932. Personally outgoing, he was appointed head of the stills photography department at Columbia three years later. In the 1940’s Shafer wrote copiously on his craft and advocated for techniques in glamour photography that are seen in this Dietrich color portrait. In 1941 he published Portraiture Simplified, a book in which he argues that “portraiture’s purpose is the realization of character realistically.” Among his technical observations Shafer wrote elsewhere that “composing a portrait is comparable to writing a symphony. There must be a center of interest, and in all portraits this naturally must be the head, or your purpose is defeated. Therefore, the highest light should be on the head.” It was in 1941 that Schafer replaced Eugene Richee (1896-1972) as department head of still photography at Paramount Studios. Shafer remained in that position where he photographed the stars until he died at 49 years old in an accident in 1951.

Elizabeth TAYLOR 1949

Elizabeth Taylor. MGM, 1949. Photograph by Hymie Fink.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR: Though still a teenager, by 1949 when this photograph was made Elizabeth Taylor (1932, London-2011, Los Angeles) was celebrated as her up-and-coming generation’s great beauty.  Elizabeth debuted in films in 1942 at ten years old and it seemed her life and beauty blossomed in front of the cameras. This photograph captures her near the beginning of her cinematic career as an MGM star and later two-time Oscar winner. Who exactly was her photographer Hymie Fink? His identity remains a small mystery. Was Hymie Fink a studio photographer? Freelancer? Pseudonym for an unknown talent or combination of unknown talents? His name appears from time to time among the stars starting in the late 1930’s until his death was announced by Hedda Hopper in the mid-1950’s. The gossip columnist ended her newspaper column for September 28, 1956 with this epitaph: “Hymie Fink, one of the sweetest men in Hollywood, died of a heart attack on Jane Wyman’s TV set. Hymie photographed every star and every major event in (Hollywood) for twenty-five years.”

Lana Turner. 1939.

Lana Turner. 1939, photograph by László Willinger.

LANA TURNER: Before she became in the 1940’s the well-known Hollywood platinum sensuous blond of movie legend and fame, Lana Turner (1921-1995) was just a pretty redhead from Idaho named Julia Jean Turner. By the time this color portrait was made (it is not retouched) a 18-year-old Lana Turner had been discovered three years earlier in a manner that has made it into the annals of show-biz mythology. The immediate result of her discovery in a Hollywood malt shop was a movie contract with producer-director Mervyn LeRoy (1900-1987). The title of Lana’s first film in 1937 for Warner Brothers proved prescient for her career: They Won’t Forget. In her debut in this courtroom drama, pretty 16-year-old Lana Turner played a five-minute part where her appearance on screen strutting in a tight-fitting sweater and cocked beret created such a stir among audiences that Hollywood began to figure it had a full-budding sex symbol on its hands. Walter Winchell coined the term “America’s Sweater sweetheart” for Lana Turner because of her appearance in about twenty seconds of celluloid flickering onto movie screens in dark theaters throughout America that year. Over the next two decades there would be a long line of Hollywood actresses who throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s wore tight sweaters over specialty bras to emphasize their bust line for appreciating admirers. In 1938 Lana moved with LeRoy to MGM where she stayed to make 44 mostly glamorous films until the early 1960’s. She became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Originally groomed to be a new Harlow, Lana followed this sex-bomb course in full force when in 1941 the studio dyed her hair white blonde for Ziegfeld Girl, where she co-starred with Judy Garland and Hedy Lamarr and stole the show. Hungarian-born photographer László Willinger (1909 – 1989) started his professional career in Vienna, Austria, but left Europe for America in 1937. He joined MGM that same year and soon made this lush shot of 18-year-old Lana Turner in a silky green dress seated on a red divan or chair with her head turned and slightly bloodshot eyes looking to one side. Willinger’s color portrait of red-headed Lana Turner emphasizes the sensuality of her personality manifested in her full red sensuous lips and painted nails. László Willinger left MGM in 1944 and established his own photography studio in Hollywood where for the next 40 years he successfully practiced his craft. About her own reputedly rowdy personal life in those MGM years Lana Turner later remarked: “My plan was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out the other way…” 

SOURCES:

DIETRICH – “Miss Dietrich to Receive Medal,” The New York Times, November 18, 1947;
https://ladailymirror.com/2013/11/04/mary-mallory-hollywood-heights-mdash-a-l-whitey-schafer-simplifies-portraits/;
http://vintagemoviestarphotos.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-l-whitey-schafer.html;
They Had Faces Then. Annabella to Zorina: The Superstars, Stars and Starlets of the 1930’s, John D. Springer and Jack D. Hamilton, Citadel Press, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1974.
Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.
https://www.aenigma-images.com/2017/04/a-l-whitey-schafer/

TAYLOR -http://tatteredandlostephemera.blogspot.com/2009/06/who-is-hymie-fink.html;
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1956/09/29/page/22/article/diana-dors-isnt-homesick-shes-set-for-film-in-britain;
Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.

TURNER – Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.
Lana Turner interview with Phil Donahue, 1982 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhu6_V7pNL0
“Hollywood Photographer Dies,” The Hour, Associated Press, August 9, 1989 – https://news.google.com/newspapers nid=1916&dat=19890814&id=azIiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uXQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1804,2177679

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic  or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Grace Kelly, 63 Famous and Rare Photographs. The Philadelphia and Hollywood Years.

GK dressed up.

Grace Kelly in dress, fur and pearls.

Text and captions by John P. Walsh.

Here are some famous and rarely seen photographs of Philadelphia-born Grace Kelly (1929-1982) before and during her short but dazzling film career in Hollywood. Called the “Greatest Screen Presence in Film,”1 passionate and dramatically talented Grace Kelly was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite actress when she starred in three of his classic films of the 1950’s: Dial M For Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955).  After Grace was discovered in 1951 by Gary Cooper who said that she was “different from all these actresses we’ve been seeing so much of”2—and subsequently cast in High Noon (1951) as Cooper’s movie wife—Grace Kelly’s incomparable charm and allure swiftly impressed Hollywood and the world. From September 1951 to March 1956 Grace Kelly’s star blazed in eleven major motion pictures for five different Hollywood studios. Following High Noon for United Artists, her performance for M-G-M on John Ford’s Mogambo (1953) led to Grace’s first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Grace began work in July 1953 on Dial M For Murder for Warner Brothers where she met Alfred Hitchcock who became a cinematic mentor. Soon after, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954) at Paramount Pictures began Grace’s ground-breaking multi-film collaboration with Academy-Award winning costume designer Edith Head. Grace refused other lucrative film offers to work again with Hitchcock, this time at Paramount Pictures, on Rear Window co-starring Jimmy Stewart. In this landmark film which came out in summer 1954, one of Hitchcock’s dramatic emphases for Grace Kelly’s film persona was to display her natural elegance and sex appeal—he was amused by her public image as an “Ice Queen”3—by having her costumed in an array of fabulous Edith-Head-designed lingerie, dresses, and pants. Growing up in Philadelphia Grace Kelly as an adolescent and teenager had modeled in local fashion shows but, by the middle 1950’s in her mid-twenties, she became an international fashion and style icon. Following these first phenomenal film credits, what happened for Grace Kelly next was perhaps surprising but not unexpected, and a clear and certain capstone to, and beacon for, her professional acting career that was barely five years old. Never just a pretty face, Grace Kelly insisted in her studio contract that she be allowed regular breaks to be able to act in live theater.4 Grace admired the art of the live stage and welcomed demanding theater and film roles that challenged and exhibited her acting range and abilities. This was part of her motivation to go after the hardly glamorous but dramatically impressive role of Georgie Elgin in George Seaton’s The Country Girl (1954) for Paramount Pictures. With co-stars Bing Crosby and William Holden, the film featured Grace playing the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic actor struggling to resume his career (played by Crosby). At its release, the film was a hit and nominated for seven Academy Awards. On Wednesday, March 30, 1955, at the telecast of the 27th annual Academy Awards held at RKO Pantages Theatre,5 The Country Girl won two Oscars, including one for Grace Kelly for Best Actress. At just 25 years old Grace Kelly—of the ambitious and hugely competitive Philadelphia Kellys—had reached the highest echelons of the cinematic arts by way of her profession’s gold-plated statuette. Always looking ahead, Grace’s film career had already turned international. She did Mogambo for a host of reasons not least of which was being able to see Africa with “all expenses paid.”6 In early 1954 she had flown to South America to make Green Fire (1954) for M-G-M with Stewart Granger and then in May 1954 she was at the French Riviera to make her third film with Alfred Hitchcock: To Catch a Thief (1955) co-starring Cary Grant for Paramount Pictures.  Grace liked the Riviera enough to travel there one year later, in April 1955, this time for the 8th annual Cannes Film Festival. To what degree Grace could imagine in advance how that particular journey to that most beautiful part of the world would impact her film career as well as future life as wife and mother was beyond her. It was during that early spring 1955 Mediterranean trip that Grace Kelly was first introduced to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Grace Kelly stood five foot seven inches tall and weighed 118 pounds. Her dress size was two.7 She was born on November 12, 1929 into the Kelly family of Philadelphia. Grace Patricia Kelly was the third of four children and one of that Irish-German family’s three girls. Elder sister Peggy and younger sister Lizanne were athletic and shared their mother Margaret’s model looks. Margaret was also the family disciplinarian who the Kelly children liked to call “the Prussian General.”8 As a child Grace was dreamy and shy while her siblings were outgoing and athletic. Yet Grace too inherited a keen awareness of her body using her arms and legs to be dramatically expressive in an actress’s rather than athlete’s way.9 By the time she was 18 years old Grace’s beautiful rectangle-shaped face with soft pear-shape dimensions displayed thick blond hair, almond-shaped blue eyes, a small high-bridge nose and ruby lips. Each member of the Philadelphia Kelly family was an exuberant competitor in areas of American life such as athletics, business, politics, or high society.  As an adult one of Grace’s major strengths in addition to her incredible beauty was her ability to focus on whatever goal she decided to pursue whether professionally or personally until that goal was achieved. When Grace won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1955 it was also a brick in the Kelly wall of ambition for success.  Before she was a teenager Grace performed in plays so that in her teenage years a desire to be an actress grew. Since Grace was situated within a protective and affluent family as well as educated in Philadelphia Catholic and private schools she sought theater work in New York City instead of Hollywood which Grace, even after she achieved film success, considered a pitiless machine of cinematic production.10

It was Aristotle Onassis who suggested to Prince Rainier that he marry a beautiful American movie star to bring the glitterati back to Monaco. Onassis’s list at the time did not include Grace Kelly.11 Invited to the 1955 Cannes Film Festival after she had won the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Country Girl one month before, Grace was curious enough about the prince to be introduced to him in Monaco on Friday, May 6, 1955. What is memorable from the photographs of their meeting at the palace is that the Prince looks chic and handsome and Grace is at her most beautiful in a black silk floral print dress with her blond hair pulled back into a German-style bun. That evening she returned to Cannes for the festival’s screening of The Country Girl helping to conclude a day that Grace herself called “pretty wild.”12 But Grace’s career in Hollywood wasn’t over—nor her life half begun. She was back in Paris before the festival’s winners were announced (she had won nothing there),13 and soon returned to Hollywood to make what turned out to be her final two Hollywood movies – The Swan and High Society.

TEXT NOTES:

  1. It was actually my brother Kevin, now deceased, who when he was working in the Chicago Film Office wrote to me this apt description of Grace Kelly (and Rear Window as the greatest film ever).
  2. Quoted in Roberts, Paul G., Style Icons Vol 4 Sirens, Fashion Industry Broadcast, p. 74.
  3. Dherbier, Yann-Brice and Verlhac, Pierre-Henry, Grace Kelly A Life in Pictures, Pavilion, 2006, p. 11.
  4. Edith-Head-designed apparel for Rear Window – Haugland, H. Kristina, Grace Kelly: Icon of style to Royal bride (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Yale University Press, 2006, p. 956; so she could act in live theater – TBA
  5. Date and place of 1955 Oscars- see https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1955 – retrieved April 26, 2017.
  6. did Mogambo for an all-expense paid visit to Kenya – TBA
  7. height and dress size- http://www.bodymeasurements.org/grace-kelly/ – retrieved April 28, 2017.
  8. Dherbier and Verlhac, p. 9.
  9. Conant, Howell, Grace: An intimate portrait of Princess Grace by her friend and favorite photographer, Random House, 1992, p.18.
  10. Preferred theater to film-TBA
  11. Leigh, Wendy, True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007, p.100.
  12. ibid., p. 112.
  13. Dherbier and Verlhac, p. 12.

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic  or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

THE PHOTOGRAPHS:

Grace Kelly, December 29, 1954.Grace Kelly, December 29, 1954.
Grace Kelly portrait from the film “Rear Window” photographed by Virgil Apger, 1954.Grace Kelly’s glamorous portrait during filming of Rear Window photographed in 1954 by Virgil Apger. Apger led MGM’s portrait gallery for over twenty years following Clarence Sinclair Bull’s departure.
Grace Kelly in red by Howell Conant, 1955.
LADY IN RED: Grace Kelly by Howell Conant, 1955. For more than 25 years Conant was Grace Kelly’s friend and favorite photographer. 
GK 1954 shaw

Grace Kelly as photographed by Mark Shaw in 1954.

Grace KellyTHE KELLY BAG: Paris-based high-fashion luxury-goods manufacturer Hermès renamed their sac à dépêche a Kelly handbag in 1956 after a pregnant Grace Kelly was spotted carrying one as the new Princess of Monaco.

1954 philippe halsmanGrace Kelly, at 24 years old, in a photograph by Philippe Halsman, 1954.
Grace Kelly, 1954 PHILIPPE HALSMANEXTREMELY RARE: Grace Kelly was muse for many, including photographer Philippe Halsman. This image is likely a test proof from a private sitting in 1954. The photograph has Philippe Halsman’s copyright stamp on the back which indicates it was in his own personal collection.
Grace Kelly 1954  Photo Cecil BeatonGrace Kelly in a photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1954.
Grace 1954Grace Kelly in 1954.
Grace 1955Grace Kelly in a promotional photograph in 1955 for Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief in which Kelly co-starred with Cary Grant.
GK naked shouldersGrace Kelly poses with nude shoulders in 1955. In 2017 off-the-shoulder fashion has made a big comeback. 
GK 1954 Apger

Grace Kelly by Apger Virgil, c. 1954. In 1929—the year Grace was born—Apger was hired in the portrait gallery at Paramount. In 1931 he went to work at M-G-M doing what he did at Paramount: developing negatives, working with the dryers, and making prints. Apger was an assistant to Clarence Sinclair Bull, but Jean Harlow gave Apger his start as a production still photographer on China Seas in 1935. After that, Apger shot M-G-M publicity stills for the stars.

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Grace Kelly had many reasons to do John Ford’s Mogambo which started filming in Africa in November 1952. Two of those reasons were to co-star with legendary Clark Gable and sultry Ava Gardner at the height of her fame.

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During filming of Bridges at Toki-Ri Grace Kelly fell madly in love with co-star William Holden.
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Grace Kelly, New York City, 1954. Photograph by Irving Penn.

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Photographer Howell Conant observed that every movement of Grace’s body was a telling gesture. Jamaica, 1955.

Grace Kelly and Cary GrantGrace Kelly and Cary Grant kiss on the couch in an interior scene from To Catch A Thief filmed in Hollywood in July-August 1954 as director Alfred Hitchcock and crew look on. 
studio publicity, To catch a thief 1954 001FIXEDDesigned by Edith Head, a dramatic sun suit for Grace Kelly to walk to the beach in To Catch A Thief (1954).
Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief.Cary Grant and Grace Kelly on location for To Catch A Thief
La Victorine studios 1954 Hitch directs GK on To Catch a Thief grace kellyCary Grant recalled that Grace commanded so much respect during the filming of To Catch a Thief that there was almost total silence when she arrived on the set.
Grace and Edith Head To Catch A ThiefGrace Kelly and costume designer Edith Head work on fabric selection during the making of To Catch A Thief.
GK arrives with Edith Head to the 1955 academy awards in the Ed 001

Grace Kelly arrives with Edith Head at the 1955 Academy Awards wearing the ice blue gown that Edith designed for her.

oscar night 1955 in a coat & dress designed by Edith Head
In a dress and coat designed by Edith Head, Grace Kelly at the 1955 Oscar ceremony. She was nominated and won the Best Actress trophy in the lead role of George Seaton’s adaptation of The Country Girl. After the ceremony, alone in her Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow, Grace admitted that she felt that night like “the loneliest person on the planet.”
gk with oscar
Grace Kelly backstage after the 27th annual Academy Awards on March 25, 1955 when she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in The Country Girl.
1955 Academy Award

Grace Kelly with her Oscar for Best Actress in hand backstage at the 1955 Academy Awards.

grace-kelly-posing-for-e2809clifee2809d-magazine-1954-philippe-halsmanmagnum-photos

Grace Kelly posing for LIFE magazine in the Edith Head dress she wore to both the premiere of The Country Girl and the 1955 Academy Awards ceremony. Photographed by Philippe Halsman.

Edith head rear window
Edith Head’s wardrobe for Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954). Chic and modern, Grace’s memorable film entrance is in this black-fitted bodice with off-the-shoulder V-neckline on top of a full bunched and layered chiffron tulle skirt to mid calf marked by a pattern at the hip. Grace’s high fashion is cinched by a thin black patent leather belt and elbow-length white gloves. 
wardrobe by Edith Head for Rear Window
In the 1930’s Edith Head leaned liberal in her costume designs. But in the 1950’s her designs became more conservative. Grace Kelly for Rear Window
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For Rear Window released in the summer of 1954 Grace Kelly received equal billings with co-star Jimmy Stewart and director Alfred Hitchcock.

famous eau de nil suit work in Rear window
Edith Head’s famous eau de nil suit and matching hat for Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954).
NEW FIXED The Bridges at Toko-Ri is a 1954

In Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955) Grace is radiant in each scene she’s in. She plays Nancy Brubaker, the wife of Navy pilot William Holden who is killed in action in the Korean War. A story of an American family in war-time, the film’s cooperation with the U.S. Navy led to realistic aerial and carrier action scenes that won it the Academy Award for Best Special Effects in 1956.

hitch greets GK Catch a thief

The director greets the leading lady for To Catch A Thief.

1955 portrait during her Hollywood years

Grace Kelly in a 1955 portrait during her Hollywood years originally shot in black and white.

GK

Grace Kelly in almost complete profile, 1954.

Kellys 1945

The Kelly siblings in Philadelphia. Grace and Peggy flank Jack with Lizanne on his shoulders, c. 1946.

grace 1947

Grace Kelly (center) with school chums. Grace had already started amateur modeling and acting by this time.

kellys 1935

Kelly family in Philadelphia, 1935. From left: son Jack and father Jack, Lizanne, mother Margaret. Back: Grace and Peggy.

GK 1951

Grace moved to Southern California to be in motion pictures. She appeared in her first film called Fourteen Hours for 20th Century-Fox in 1951 when she was 22 years old.

GK 1950s

Grace takes a comb to her hair, early 1950’s.

Grace in NYC 1950

Grace modeling in New York City in 1950.

Marcus Blechman 1952 001

Portrait of Grace Kelly by theater and film photographer Marcus Blechman (1922-2010).

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Jack Kelly gives his daughter Grace a twirl at Ocean City, New Jersey, in 1937.

FINAl GK HALSMAN 1954 001

Grace Kelly in 1954 in Philippe Halsman’s “Jump” series which featured celebrities jumping for the camera.

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Grace Kelly eating cotton candy on the 4th of July 1955 in Philadelphia.

warddrobe tests GK The country Girl -

Grace Kelly in wardrobe tests for The Country Girl. Edith Head dressed Grace’s character of Georgie Elgin in brown wool clothes, cardigan sweaters and low-heel Capezio shoes.

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At the end of The Country Girl, Georgie Elgin is dressed by Edith Head in a dark dress with a low V-cut neckline and jeweled accent at the waist and in a strand of pearls. It allowed the movie audience to see how lovely Georgie Elgin really was.

GK jamaica 1955 HC

Grace Kelly photographed by Howell Conant on holiday in Jamaica 1955.

GK jamaica HC 1955

Grace Kelly, Jamaica, 1955. After making six films in 1954, Grace went on vacation with her sister Peggy and took along Howell Conant to be official photographer. Grace would return to Jamaica for family vacations as Princess of Monaco.

GK 1954 with sister mrs peggy

Grace in 1954 on Corsica with her sister Peggy and Oliver the dog.

GK with MOm

Grace Kelly modeling a fashionable dress for her mother in the mid 1950’s. Look at Grace’s reflection in the mirror.

GK MH GREENE 001

Grace Kelly in New York City by Milton H. Greene, 1955.

GK dressed up.

Grace Kelly in dress, white fur stole, and pearls.

GK 1955

Grace Kelly, 1955.

GK 1954 G Lester

Grace Kelly is dressed for St. Patrick’s Day in 1954. She has a copy of the MGM studio news on her lap. Photograph by Gene Lester.

HITCH &GK

Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock on the set of To Catch A Thief. Grace is sitting in Cary Grant’s chair. It could be tea but looks like coffee.

FINAL grace-kelly-during-interview-with-daily-mirror-reporter-donald-zec-at-the-1955-cannes-film-festival

Grace Kelly in a breakfast interview with Daily Mirror reporter Donald Zec at the May 1955 Cannes Film Festival. Grace Kelly was invited to the festival after winning the Oscar for Best Actress in The Country Girl. Elegant Grace wore pearl earrings and a big ribbon on her blue jacket as she sat near to the Promenade de la Croisette. Photographer Edward Quinn was also there.

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Grace Kelly and Edith Head working on costume designs. They had a close working relationship and remained great friends. After Grace left Hollywood, Edith traveled to Monaco several times to visit her.

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26-year-old Grace Kelly and 31-year-old Prince Rainier III on their first meeting at the palace in Monaco, May 6, 1955. They would be engaged to be married by the end of the year. Photograph by Edward Quinn.

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First meeting in Monaco of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III On May 6, 1955. He would tell her, “This is Europe, not America. We think differently here, and you will have to get used to it.”

Next  in CORRIDORS: Grace Kelly, Famous and Rare Photographs. Part II: Hollywood ends, Monaco begins (1956-1982).

“Only avoid the fulsome”: the pedagogical magic of the terrible Miss Dove.

Movie poster for

Movie poster for “Good Morning, Miss Dove!” from 1955 starring Jennifer Jones.

By John P. Walsh

Good Morning, Miss Dove! is Frances Gray Patton’s tale of a middle-aged spinster elementary school geography teacher who is suddenly taken ill and the entire small town of Liberty Hill rallies to her. While a mythical period piece from the mid 1950’s of an unchanging town with students who obey a beloved teacher and directed by Henry Koster in a stagy way, it had progressive casting depicting a newly-integrated American public school classroom and all of it in grand Cinemascope and De Luxe color. Film-going audiences in 1955 loved it. Awaiting a risky operation, Miss Dove thinks back on her life and those of her prized grown-up former students which included Robert Stack (a surgeon), Chuck Connors (a policeman),  and Jerry Paris (a playwright). All of these students overcame difficult childhoods and found worldly achievement with the help of Miss Dove. Patton’s novel had already enjoyed success in 1954 as a Book of the Month Club and Reader’s Digest selection and its release as a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox continued the heroine’s popularity. It is the same year in which she starred in the classic soap opera Love is a Many-Splendored Thing that Academy-Award winner Jennifer Jones stars as Miss Dove, a type of mid-20th century suburban American Mary Poppins nine years before Walt Disney’s proper English nanny. In the mid 1950’s as America settled into the Eisenhower years Good Morning, Miss Dove! allowed for an ever more staunch lead character – the “terrible” Miss Dove,  unflinching disciplinarian – who became a popular nostalgic icon in American culture at a time when public education was undergoing copious change.

A young Miss Dove (Jennifer Jones) with her father (Leslie Bradley).

A young Miss Dove (Jennifer Jones) with her father (Leslie Bradley).

Jennifer Jones was 35 years old when by the magic of make-up was transformed into the strict, stern elderly Miss Dove.

Jennifer Jones was a 35- year-old beauty when through the magic of Hollywood make-up the actress was transformed into a stern elderly Miss Dove for “Good Morning, Miss Dove!”

The audience meets the elder Miss Dove at the movie’s start—make-up artist Ben Nye transformed the 35-year-old Jennifer Jones into the 55-year-old Miss Dove—and by flashbacks the film dramatizes her youth as she is about to marry, but doesn’t because her father dies suddenly and she learns he has debts. To pay them back, she steels herself to remain single and take a teaching post. Her chilly veneer is part of her honor to do the proper thing along with the sober accommodation to life’s necessary sacrifices. While those who did not know Miss Dove mocked her behind her back and said she couldn’t have had much of a life—never married, no family, no kids, never went anywhere—her army of students judged her differently. Beyond any possibly wider cultural meaning, the film presents a unique person who by the logic of her experience (or, the experience of her logic) enters into a series of social interactions that are both amusing and honest including a penultimate scene on her sick bed where Miss Dove tells her pastor blankly: “Life, whatever others may think, has been for me…I have been happy. I have made many mistakes. Perhaps even sinned. I admit my human limitations but I do not in all honesty find the burden of my sins intolerable. Nor have I strayed like a sheep. I have never been AWOL. I have never spoken hypocrisy to my Maker and now is scarcely a propitious moment to begin.” While her conscientious thoughts may be read from various sides of the political or cultural spectrum they are easily enjoined to an expression of one woman’s life perfectly dedicated to her students. Stay for the end that starts around 1:39:00. Accompanied by the tuneful strains of Leigh Harline’s memorable soundtrack, it is a sentimental tribute to Miss Dove whose life transcends to many based on nothing other than good character.  (1:47:16).

SOURCES:

http://www.nytimes.com/movies/movie/93588/Good-Morning-Miss-Dove/overview

http://www.popmatters.com/review/182178-good-morning-miss-dove/

https://www.academia.edu/1848534/_John_Dewey_vs._The_Terrible_Miss_Dove_Frances_Gray_Pattons_Postwar_Schoolmarm_and_the_Cultural_Work_of_Nostalgia

http://www.themakeupgallery.info/age/1950s/dove.htm

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.