Moving Picture Exhibitors' Association.

Photoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) online

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John Boles could sing them all when he sat on the wide front
porch (called a gallery in the South) of his grandparents' home
in a little town not far from his birthplace,
Greenville, Texas.

The last census reports do not, I'm afraid,
gi\'e Greenville a very high rating. Maybe
you'd need a few extra fingers to count the
inhabitants on your hand, but you can cer-
tainly list the streets in that fashion. Would
you call them streets? There is no paving at
all and the sidewalks are made of planks set
up above the mud of the road. If a wagon
got stuck during the rainy season, it had to
remain there until the rainy season was over.

GREENVILLE, being a loyal Southern
hamlet, had remembered its heroes by
naming these muddy thoroughfares after
them. There was a village well at the corner
of Lee and Stonewall avenues.

In another little town, not far away, lived
John's grandparents, and it was with them
he spent the summers. It was they who en-
couraged him to sing. He used to lead all the
other children when they gathered on the
gallery during those long summer evenings.

His mother had a dear friend who had ven-
tured past the so-called city limits of the

Mr. Boles was wasting
his voice in the dumb
drama until the talkies
came along and made him
a singing star

town. Romance clung to her like a gag man to Joe Miller's
joke book. It was bruited about that she had once danced with
Sam Houston.

She had lived in Paris. Actually lived there for several years
and it was from her that John learned of the world to which the
muddy roads of Greenville led. She taught him to speak
French and he, seated at her feet on the wide porch, deftly
swinging a palm leaf fan, resolved to see the great world some
day for himself.

He went through grammar school and high school and was,
in both of these institutions, the leading singer. He always
appeared as the headlinerin the Friday after-
noon "entertainments."

It was his ambition to become a doctor and
so he went to the University of Texas, at
Austin, and took his degree just in time to
join the army.

WITH his knowledge of French as a back-
ground he was immediately put in the
intelligence department in France. He was
overseas eighteen months, but when he re-
turned the threads of his existence were too
raveled to be woven into a pattern again. He
felt he had lost too much to return to school,
so he gave up the idea of medicine and
turned, as every good Texan should, to the
raising of cotton.

All during this time he was singing and
when Oscar Seagle came to Austin on a
concert tour Boles determined to see him.
The day he sang for the star, he had dragged
himself out of a sick bed. His fever was as
high as the notes of his songs.

But Seagle was entranced at the beautiful
quality of his voice and persuaded him to
come to New York to study. John phoned


Racketeers of

There is the "star-
making" business
manager. Young-
sters will tumble
and sign an agree-
ment under which
an agent is paid a
certain percentage
of anything they
get on any con-
tract. It's nothing
but a "heads I win,
tails you lose"

1 1 1 11 strutidii i by

R. Van Buren

Pity the poor star who must de-

from an army of ver-

A HOLLYWOOD husband discovers that his famous
wife is too friendly with an equally famous director.
He loves his little mate with that same deep affection
a rattlesnake holds for a rabbit, but he burns with
righteous indignation, rants about the sanctity of the home,
threatens sensational divorce proceedings, and then — ah, then,
to his delicately attuned ear comes the sweet tinkle of silver

His flinty heart mellows. He will be magnanimous. He will
admit her accusations of mental cruelty and connubial incom-
patibility. He will be a gent, e'en though his heart is breaking.
.\nd he will deposit to his hank account a small fortune, con-
tributed by his loving spouse and her noted admirer.

That, in case >ou fail to identify it, is a racket.

\ Cahuenga Casanova borrows the girl friend's phonograph
records — he will bring them back tomorrow night. Does he?
Certainly not!

Tomorrow evening he presents them, with appropriate ges-
tures, to yet another lady love.

That, also, is a racket.

Between these two extremes of grand and petty larceny you
will find an amazing number and an infinite variety of bright
ideas for getting something for nothing, of transferring coin
of the realm from the pockets of those who have it to the
billfolds of those who haven't and are too stupid, lazy or
downright ornery to earn it by the sweat of their receding

There are, in truth, more racketeers in ]Ioll\-wood than


ever congested the streets of Chicago. .An honest Cicero beer
baron would resent being classed with some of the stagger-
ing army of moochers, spongers, panhandlers and cigarette
borrowers who ply their profession north and south of the
Boulevard. But on the other hand, the town has harbored a
number of very astute operators whose records of remunerative
achievement might well excite the admiration and envy of
any dishonest man.

THE ultimate objective of this energetic army of sharp-
shooters is, as >ou may well imagine, that comparatively
small and practically defenceless group ofstars, writers, directors
and executives who are, as the Hollywood High School lads
describe it, "dough heavy.'' Of course anybody with cash
in the bank or readily negotiable securities is eligible, but the
thousand a week and up people are the big, juicy peaches
every Hollywood racketeer yearns to pluck and carry home
for breakfast.

ril venture to say that right this instant not less than a
hundred men, women and perhaps children are pondering
some scheme to carve a slice out of Mary Pickford's bankroll;
that several hundred have designs on the life savings of Harold
Lloyd; that untold thousands are trying to figure out some
new and easy — it must not involve physical labor or it isn't
easy — way of getting something for nothing from anybody
who has it.

The most lucrative racket, for those who can get away with
it, is blackmail. It stands as a constant menace to screen


B o g a r t

The most lucrative
racket, for those
who can get away
with it, is black-
mail. It stands as
a constant menace
to celebrities, be
they guilty or in-
nocent. With fame
and fortune de-
pendent on the
bubble reputation,
the star cannot
afford a scandal

fend his hard-earned bankroll
satile sharp-shooters

celebrities, be they guilty or innocent. It has lieen practiced
successfully and attemi>ted unsuccessfully countless times in the
past and it will no doubt forever remain a source of annoyance.

With fame and fortune dependent so materially on the
bubble reputation, the screen star twitches convulsively at
the mere mention of a nasty public scandal, (iuilty or not,
the outcome always promises to be disastrous. The accusation
makes more noise than the vindication, and in the meantime
the Ladies' Club of Bird Center is likely to post bans. If the
jirice is reasonable, it is more convenient to pay off than fight.

How do these e.xtortionists work? Well, for instance —

THERE was a lawyer named Herman Roth. He repre-
sented Ben Deely, one of the husbands of the late Barbara
La j\Iarr. He knew his Hollywood, did Mr. Roth. He knew
that when a screen star was at the height of popularity and
in the big money, that was the time to snatch for the pocket-
book. Miss La Marr was riding the crest. Mr. Roth decided
that perhaps something could be accomplished if Ben Deely
sued for divorce and named a score or two of corespondents.
He knew, of course, that the very filing of such a suit might
wreck her career. But he didn't file the papers — there isn't
much money in just filing a divorce suit. He merely let I\Iiss
La Marr and the gentleman who had thousands of dollars
invested in her pictures know what he was planning to do.
Oh, yes. He was going to name a long list of corespondents,
and a lot of well-known fellows they were, too. He would do
it immediately — unless — well, he might reconsider and perhaps

drop the matter entireh' — but a lawyer had to be ]iaid for
his services just like anyone else.

BarbaraLa Marr decided she woiJdn't stand for the shake-
down. So she told Mr. Roth she would pay for his silence and
arranged a meeting. She paid him in nice new bills. And
when he had thankecl her profusely, tucked the bills in his
pocket, promised to forget the alTair and bowed a polite adieu,
a newspaper re|)orter and a large policeman closed in on
him and appropriated the bills, which had been carefully

For this little service to Miss La Marr, a jury awarded Mr.
Roth a nice new denim suit covered with service stripes.

The moment anybody's salary in Hollywood tops the hun-
dred a week figure some several hundred, or perhaps thousand,
racketeers start concocting some scheme to cut in on it. The
agents and business managers are always in the front rank.
.\ow let it be understood that there are many reputable agents
and some very capable and honest business managers. But
there are just as many who are neither reputable, capable or
on the level.

The favorite agent racket at the moment is this:

EVERYONE, of course, knows the financial possibilities of
a "find," a new screen discovery with a chance to scale
the heights. They start off as seven-fifty a day extras and
ascend like rockets into the thousand dollar class. An interest
in their potential earnings may turn out to be worth a fortune.
The self-confessed agents peel [ ple.\se turn to page 93 ]



The strange
story of heart-
break houses
of heartbreak

Falcon's Lair, the home of Rudolph Valentino, has never been

occupied since his death. Superstitious and foolish stories are told

about this house, all typical of the countless legends that have

grown up around the memory of Valentino

HAUNTED houses, to look the part, should be gray,
grim castles with a surrounding moat, and at least a
somber bat or two circling about the turrets. Houses
which shelter poignant memories should be vine-
covered cottages with old rose gardens. Tragedy houses can be
anything from hovels to mansions, for tragedy is as old as the
world and as new as next season's hat — and no respecter of

Hollywood has its dwellings of tragedy. There they stand,
the heartbreak houses of heartbreak town.

High up on the ledge of a mountain is Falcon's Lair, the home
left by Valentino when he went to New York, never to return.
There is Fred Thomson's beautiful hillside home, and Joseph
Schenck's great mansion on Hollywood Boulevard. Then there
are the houses of Barbara La Marr, William Desmond Taylor,
Roscoe Arbuckle, Charles Ray, Mary Miles Minter and Harry
Langdon. Sheltering their memories, outliving the fame and
sometimes the lives of those who passed through their rooms,
those who have laughed and loved and have gone from the

They do not look like the harboring places of tragedy, these


Special Photographs

for Photoplay


Holhwood houses of sorrow.
They stand back in well-kept
gardens. Their walls gleam in the
bright sunshine of Southern Cali-
fornia. Red tile roofs are a blaze
of color. People pass by unthink-
ing and forgetful. But the walls
could tell stories of romances
ended, careers shattered and

A ROMANTIC but foolish
legend says that Falcon's
Lair is haunted. Irresponsible
stories have been told of a care-
taker who fled screaming down
the hill, never to return.

This is the house that \alentino
bought and rebuilt for Natacha
Rambova. It was furnished mag-
nificently with treasures gathered
from all over the world. At
Valentino's death household and
personal effects were sold at pub-
lic auction. Shop girls bought his
scarf pins, struggling clerks pur-
chased articles from his wardrobe.
At last Falcon's Lair stood barren
of its furnishings. Then the weird
stories of the place began, just as
they circulate about any house that isn't occupied.

There's a road that wanders about a hill in Hollywood, and
along this strange little road are picturesque cottages. Among
these cottages is a small brown house, nestling in the shade of
giant eucalyptus trees. You have to climb down from the road
to get in the upstairs of the house. It is a different sort of a
dwelling and it is cursed with beauty. Barbara La Marr built
it, and here she lived during the last tragic year of her life.

IT was here that she undertook one of the strictest of diet
regimes. She lost her health and was dying when she made
her last picture. She died before it was completed. And now,
strangely enough, the house that once belonged to the too
beautiful girl is occupied by the too beautiful boy, Philippe de
Lacy, the war orphan who so many times was close to death
during his babyhood in shell-torn France.

Farther down-town, on Alvarado Street in Los Angeles, there
is the house that could tell a tale of the strangest murder
mystery in the annals of crime. S. S. Van Dine has never
evolved a more baffling plot, and this plot has never had a solu-
tion. Perhaps it never will.



Some fine dwellings
that stand as monu-
ments of shattered

Cal York

In 1922 \Villi:ini Desm<m<l Taylor was mur-
dered in this imposing building, and his death
signified the writing on the wall for Mabel
Xormand and Mary Miles Minter.

Both stars, the greatest of that day, were
brought into the case. There was an avalanche
of publicity from which they never quite

Curiously enough, JNIiss Normand and Miss
Minter were living within two blocks of each
other at the time. Mabel's house has been
transformed into a flat building, with business
structures creeping upon it. Mary Miles
Minter's beautiful residence, in which she never
found the semblance of happiness, is a club.
Xow Mabel is very ill and Mar>- Miles Minter is
living in Paris.

The year 1922 is one Hollywood will never
forget. For the first time the actor realized that
he could not dance without paying the piper's

This placid bungalow court apartment saw the murder pf
William Desmond Taylor, one of the most baffling mys-
teries in the annals of crime. The murderer was never
caught but innocent persons suffered an unjust stigma

price. Fame before had
seemed a safe, assured

Never again could it be
''the public be damned."
.\t the same time as the
William Desmond Taylor
murder, Roscoe Arbuckle
was on trial for his life in
San Francisco, the after-
math of a gay holiday party.

The fat fellow who had
made millions laugh would
never be a favorite on the
screen again. He, too, was
paying the piper. The trial
cost him his place among
the stars, and his wealth.
His big cars, specially made,
were sold. He lost his great

Here, in the hillside
home of Frances Marion
and Fred Thomson, dwelt
youtli and wealth and
romance. After Thom-
son's death it was sold to
an Eastern capitalist

Legends of the showplaces of Hollywood

Charles Ray sank a small fortune in his Beverly Hills
one of the first of the luxurious homes of the mov

In the heart of the most conservative section of Los Angeles lived

Roscoe Arbuckle. The sedate English home was sold to foot the

expenses of his trial

house, and since
that time not many
people have cared to
live in it.

Just this year
there have been the
inevitable stories
that the place is
haunted. That
there have been
lights and sounds of
revelry when such
things did not exist
ill reality.

Arbuckle's formal
English house
stands on West
Adams Street, Los
Angeles' most aris-
tocratic residence
boulevard. From
the back of the place
the windows over-
look Chester Place,
the holy of holies of
the city's smart set. Across the street is
the Huntington Minor home, in days
gone by the mansion that ruled the
destiny of Southern California society.

The Arbuckle gardens join the wide
lawns of E. L. Doheny in Chester
Place. On the other side is a parish
house. A strange environment for the
dwelling place of the film comedian who
loved reckless parties.

There were many stories of these
parties long before Arbuckle had to sell
his house on 400 row to pay lawyer's

It didn't seem that tragedy could ever
find shelter in the beautiful hillside

Five families knew tragedy in this
handsome residence. Douglas
Fairbanks, Norma Talmadge and
Emil Jannings lived here at un-
happy moments in their careers

hacienda of Fred Thomson. Here was
youth and romance and wealth. Thom-
son, the athletic star, was the idol of
Young America. His wife, Frances
Marion, was one of the most successful
of scenarists. Their romance read like a
story book.

Frances Marion had been introduced
to Fred Thomson during the war, when
the tall, curly-haired boy was a
chaplain of the Fortieth Division. She
had journeyed down to San Diego with
Mary Pickford, the honorary colonel of
the regiment, to see a service football
game. Fred had made a forty-yard run,
and then was tackled by four husky
sailors. His leg was broken in three

MARY and Frances visited him in the
hospital. That was the beginning of
the romance. They were later married in
France. When he returned from the
war he became Mary Pickford's leading
man. Fame came easily to him.

Fred seemed the last person to die in
youth. He had such a splendid physique
and lived such an
exemplary life. Yet
he did not survive
an operation.

The Thomson
hacienda has since
been sold, at a sacri-
fice, to an Eastern
capitalist. The
place held too many
poignant associa-
tions for any mem-
ber of the motion
picture colony to
desire it. Fred and
Frances were a mar-
velous host and

Now Frances
Marion is living in
Charles Ray's
former residence in


residence, page 128 ]

ie stars


What Would

"XJou Do

I f You Had



Anita Murray would

rather play extra in

pictures than

a lead in society

Herbert Howe

WHAT would you do if you had a million?
That question is the favorite spigot for
dreams. Personally. I'd do just what I'm
doing now, because if I wanted to do any-
thing else I'd do it without the million. But not every-
one l^as such a fortune in egoism; neither has ever\'one
the privilege of lunching with beautiful million dollar
extras and beautiful bankrupt stars.

In Hollywood all the people I know are planning to
get a million and get out. Where they will get to when
they get out I have no idea, though I could tell them
where to go and it would cost them nothing.

It is with relief from this sing-song that I discover an
individual with a million who wants to get in instead of out.

YOU might have felt sorry for her the first few days seeing
her plain and dumb among the extras, the talkative, gaudy
henna-or-pero.xide professional extras; she so obviously was
not professional. But your sympathy would have been pre-
sumptuous, for in a week she was one of them — talking her
head ofJ, she says.

Acceptance by the extras of Hollywood is a social triumph
compared with which the breaking through castes of India and
Newport is like finding a speakeasy.

Naturally, one has to be a JMorrow of diplomacy, and the
way in which Anita escapes detection in getting to her big
roadster each evening might be compared to Lindbergh's
genius for evading photographers.

She has no driver's license and only personality has kept
her out of jail, but she will not risk her chaufTeur and town
car for fear of losing her hard won position in extra society.
An extra in town car with chauffeur would be targeted instantly
for invidious remarks.

A friend told me all this about Anita and added, "and you
can't get her to gossip about anybody!"

Surely, said I, there's a freak in our midst who must be exposed

The extras accept Anita Murray as one of them and

this, in Hollywood, is a social triumph. She's rich,

but hard working; she's young, but she has poise

and confidence

if Peter the Hermit is to hold his position, and straightway I
stalked her to her bungalow suite in the Ambassador Hotel.

"Hello!" she said, spooning an orange at a luncheon tabic.

"Hello!" I said, aiming my hat at the best corner.

Anita continued to spoon the orange cannibalistically.
She's on the eighteen day diet and an orange is preferable to
an interviewer unless, of course, you're really a cannibal.

M.-\YBE it was Anita's nonchalance that made me feel so
much at home, maybe it was her love of food and then
again, more probably, it was her easy humor.

Anyhow, she reminds me far more of the good old college
campus than do Joan Crawford or Clara Bow. There's no
artifice about her complexion or manner. Doesn't need any.
Has grey eyes like Gloria's and upsweeping lashes unfreighted
by mascara. Very young, still somewhat gangly, yet has the
poise and confidence of power.

She showed me some snapshots of herself as a kid, the
homeliest kid I ever did see. If Anita's beauty progresses at
the rate it has she'll be Miss Hollywood in 1930.

Most of her life has been spent in a convent in Montreal
where she did some fine etchings and oils. With travel and
every cultural advantage, she [please turn to page 121]


Lansing Brown

y^LTHOUGH she has been in lots of pictures, you never

Q_^/^ really saw this girl on the screen until the presentation of

"Drag." She is the new Lila Lee — sophisticated, clever

and beautiful. At twenty-four Lila, with a lifetime of experience,

starts on a new career. On the opposite page you will find the story

of the courageous child actress who wouldn't be forgotten






Katherine Albert



And Lila Lee swears that

she'll never play a sweet ga-ga

role again

THEY called her Cuddles, because she was such a cute,
chubby little girl. And the name was all right, in its way,
when she was a child in the Gus Edwards Revue. Then
she went into pictures and they renamed her Lila Lee.
But the curse of Cuddles still pursued her.

On the screen Lila drank ice cream sodas, which were fattening
and uninspiring. She looked pale and wan when the villain eyed
her. And all the time she wanted to do the vamping.

She was a pretty bad actress back in those early days. She
was a bad actress but a good woman, and maybe that's how all
the trouble started. The producers got their adjectives mixed.

Three things have happened to Lila simultaneously. She has
grown up, she has made a comeback and she has turned bad.
Her life was so crowded with events that it was dilTicult for her
to get in any thinking. E.xperiences came too fast to be analyzed.

At thirteen she discovered herself a Paramount star. At
eighteen she was the wife of James Kirkwood and at nineteen, the
mother of a baby son. It is just recently that she has been able
to solve the real meaning of these happenings.

Now, at twenty-four, she finds that she has been piling up
experiences that serve her right royally.

"It's like putting money in the bank," she said. "You keep
on doingit, week after
week, and all of a sud-
den wake up to the
fact that you have
quite a lot stored

Lila has quite a lot
stored away. She's
just beginning to use

At eighteen she
married James
Kirkwood and left
the screen to go on
the stage. The
marriage was a
mistake but the
proved invaluable
to Lila

Once she was a chubby little girl
known merely as Cuddles, which was
no name to thrust on an unsuspect-
ing child

it. She's just beginning to get back of herself and find that
she's a person — quite a sophisticated, humorous person.

Her comeback has already been entered in the film history
books. It takes so little time to make history in Hollywood.

When she discovered that she
was over-publicized as a star
and that her public would have
no more of her, she went to
New York and found work on
the stage. When she returned,
Hollywood had forgotten her
and she thought herself foolish
to have left.

But it was that very stage
experience that brought her
back to the screen when the
talkies came into vogue. Other-
wise she might still be an over-
publicized failure. But when
the microphone did become
important and there was a de-
mand for Lila Lee, she woke
up to the fact that her forte
lay, not in sweet, ga-ga roles,
but in something more serious
and vital.

She overcame the Cuddles


Online LibraryMoving Picture Exhibitors' AssociationPhotoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) → online text (page 52 of 145)