The Year was 1956

Called by many one of the worst films ever made, The Conqueror, a movie about Genghis Khan, packed a secret, lethal punch. It was an RKO movie, made when the studio system was king. Dick Powell, an actor turned director, was given the script. He thought it was horrible. But while he took a break,…

The Year was 1953

Five days after her father died, Antha Belle was born on Jan. 6, 1953. Her mother had signed away her parental rights to the dad. And he had arranged to have his own mother be legal guardian for the unborn baby. Which she did, then she adopted Antha Belle, giving her a new name: Catherine…

The Year was 2017

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is a cinematic success. But there have been real life wonder women throughout our history. Some were samurai. Tomoe Gozen (c.1157-1247) became an excellent archer and sword handler. In one battle, she threw herself upon an enemy leader and decapitated him. “Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka [Minamoto] sent…

The year was 1955

James Dean, 24, was a box office gold. He was also a race car driver. He had to sign a clause in his contract that that he would not enter any races during the filming of Giant, the movie he was starring in with Elizabeth Taylor. Dean had entered UCLA as a pre-law student, joined…

The year was 1844

Alexandre Dumas had so many ideas! But he didn’t have time to do all that bothersome research, all that cumbersome writing. So he set up a kind of factory system to get it all done in one lifetime. His grandmother had been a slave in Haiti.  That meant her children with the French nobleman who…

The year was 1988

“Never trust anybody.” This is what the tobacco mogul drilled into his little daughter’s head. Too bad Doris forgot it. Doris was the adored only child of James Duke. She lived in the kind of luxury that money could buy before there was an income tax, Her father lived in constant fear that Doris might…

The year was 1955

It was 1 a.m., September 15th. On Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, Billy Wilder was trying to shoot a street scene for his movie, The Seven Year Itch. In an instant, a huge crowd materialized, yelling and cheering. What did they see?  Emphasizing the movie’s theme that she was so hot that she had to keep…

The year was 1949

That was the year Jacob Rodney Cohen, 28, gave up his dream and became an aluminum siding salesman. He had been writing jokes for other comics for years. Calling himself Jack Roy, he struggled for nine years to make it as a stand-up comic, even including a stint as a singing waiter (he got fired!)…

The year was 1929

The Great Depression?  Prohibition?  Nothing bad touched Joe Kennedy; he just kept making money.  Attracted by the glamour of Hollywood and the gorgeous women, Joe decided to get into the movie business.  He wined and dined the hottest of them all, Gloria Swanson.  One of his presents to her was an opulent movie set dressing…

The year was 1963

Jack Ely, lead singer, was not in a good mood – sick with a cold and tired from a late night gig. The studio mike was hung from a high ceiling. The band thought they were doing a run through, but the studio said it was good enough. One take. That’s all The Kingsmen, a…