Betty Grable (Portrait Treatment)


1. Elizabeth Ruth Grable was born on December 18, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother Lillian was a stubborn and materialistic woman who was determined to make her daughter a star. Elizabeth, who later became Betty, was enrolled in Clark's Dancing School at the age of three. With her mother's guidance, Betty studied ballet and tap dancing. At 13, Betty and her mother set out for Hollywood with the hopes of stardom. Lillian lied about her daughter's age, and Ruth landed several minor parts in films in 1930, such as Whoopee! (1930), New Movietone Follies of 1930 (1930), Happy Days (1929/I) and Let's Go Places (1930).

2. When her contract at Paramount expired, Grable decided to quit acting, being fed up with appearing in college films. In a 1940 interview, she said: "I was sick and tired of it. I'd made up my mind to leave show business altogether. So I retired - and then came an offer, unsolicited, to go on a personal appearance tour. I went. Next thing I knew, Mr. Zanuck had seen my picture in the paper and offered me a contract at a lot more money. I took it. Then came Buddy DeSylva with a part in his Broadway show Du Barry Was a Lady. Mr. Zanuck said I could take it if I wanted to. I did. The show was successful. Then as if all this weren't enough, Alice Faye fell ill just before Down Argentine Way was to start and I was drafted to fill her shoes. If that's not luck I don't know what you'd call it. But that's how it's been all my life. I've had contracts with four studios in 10 years and each time I left one or was dropped, I stepped into something better."

3. It was during her reign as box office queen in 1943 that Grable posed for her famous pinup photo, which (along with her movies) soon became escapist fare among GIs fighting in World War II. The image was taken by studio photographer Frank Powolny. It was rumored that the particular pose and angle were chosen to hide the fact that Grable was pregnant at the time of the photo.

4. In 1943, she married trumpeter Harry James. The couple had two daughters, Victoria and Jessica. They endured a tumultuous 22-year marriage that was plagued by alcoholism and infidelity. The couple divorced in 1965.

5. Grable died July 2, 1973, of lung cancer at age 56 in Santa Monica, California. Her funeral was held July 5, 1973, 30 years to the day after her marriage to Harry James — who, in turn, died on what would have been his and Grable's 40th anniversary, July 5, 1983. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6525 Hollywood Boulevard. She also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 2009.


Deborah Kerr (Portrait Treatment)


1. Kerr was born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer in a private nursing home (hospital) in Glasgow, Scotland on 30 September 1921.

2. When she was a young girl, she had a strict "Victorian" grandmother who made her lie on her back, on the floor, for long periods of time, in order to "straighten her back" and ensure good posture.

3. Originally when filming began on Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), her co-star Robert Mitchum worried that Kerr would be like the prim characters she frequently played. However, after she swore at director John Huston during one take, Mitchum, who was in the water, almost drowned laughing. The two stars went on to have an enduring friendship which lasted until Mitchum's death in 1997.

4. Joan Crawford was originally meant to play her role in From Here to Eternity (1953), but when she insisted on shooting the film with her own cameraman, the studio balked. They decided to take a chance and cast Ms. Kerr, who then was struggling with her ladylike stereotype, to play the adulterous military wife who has an affair with Burt Lancaster. The casting worked and Ms. Kerr's career thereafter enjoyed a new, sexier versatility.

5. Her last public appearance was in 1994 when she was awarded an honorary Oscar after six failed nominations over the years. Miss Kerr, along with Thelma Ritter, is one of the few actresses to have received six nominations and not to have won an Oscar. On Oscar evening, Glenn Close presented a special tribute to her work, the Oscar audience watched clips of her films to music. Miss Kerr then appeared from behind the screen, obviously frail, in a blue pastel trouser suit and received a standing ovation from her peers. A life-long shy woman, Miss Kerr said, "I have never been so terrified in my life, but I feel better now because I know that I am among friends. Thank you for giving me a happy life." Following this, there was another standing ovation and Miss Kerr left the stage, which was to become her last official goodbye to Hollywood.

Deborah Kerr, her husband Peter Viertel and her biographer Eric Braun all died within the space of five weeks in the fall of 2007. All were aged 86.

Hedy Lamarr (Portrait Treatment)


1. On November 9, 1913, Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, to Jewish parents Gertrud, a pianist and Budapest native who came from the "Jewish haute bourgeoisie", and Lemberg-born Emil Kiesler, a successful bank director. She studied ballet and piano at age 10. When she worked with Max Reinhardt in Berlin, he called her the "most beautiful woman in Europe". Soon the teenage girl played major roles in German movies, alongside stars like Heinz Rühmann and Hans Moser.

2. On 10 August 1933 she married Friedrich Mandl, a Vienna-based arms manufacturer 13 years her senior. Mandl prevented her from pursuing her acting career, and instead took her to meetings with technicians and business partners. In these meetings, the mathematically talented Lamarr learned about military technology. Otherwise she had to stay at the castle Schloss Schwarzenau. She later related that, even though Mandl was part-Jewish, he was consorting with Nazi industrialists, which infuriated her. In Ecstasy and Me, Lamarr wrote that dictators Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler both attended Mandl's grand parties. She related that in 1937 she disguised herself as one of her maids and fled to Paris, where she obtained a divorce, and then moved on to London. According to another version of the episode, she persuaded Mandl to allow her to attend a party wearing all her expensive jewelry, later drugged him with the help of her maid, and made her escape out of the country with the jewelry.

3. Avant garde composer George Antheil, a son of German immigrants and neighbor of Lamarr, had experimented with automated control of musical instruments, including his music for Ballet Mecanique, originally written for Fernand Léger's 1924 abstract film. This score involved multiple player pianos playing simultaneously. Together, Antheil and Lamarr submitted the idea of a secret communication system in June 1941. On August 11, 1942, US Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and "Hedy Kiesler Markey", Lamarr's married name at the time. This early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam. Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as COFDM used in Wi-Fi network connections and CDMA used in some cordless and wireless telephones.

4. In 1965 Lamarr was arrested for shoplifting in Los Angeles; the charges were eventually dropped. In 1991 she was arrested on the same charge in Florida, this time for $21.48 worth of laxatives and eye drops. She pleaded "no contest" to avoid a court appearance, and in return for a promise to refrain from breaking any laws for a year, the charges were once again dropped. The publication of her autobiography Ecstasy and Me (1967) took place about a year after accusations of shoplifting, and a year after Andy Warhol's short film Hedy (1966), also known as The Shoplifter. The controversy surrounding the shoplifting charges coincided with a failed return to the screen in Picture Mommy Dead (1966). The role was ultimately filled by Zsa Zsa Gabor. Ecstasy and Me begins in a despondent mood, with reference to this: "On a recent evening, sitting home alone suffering and brooding about my treatment at the police station because of an incident in a department store, and being replaced by Zsa Zsa Gabor in a motion picture (imagine how that pleased the ego!) I figured out that I had made – and spent – some thirty million dollars. Yet earlier that day I had been unable to pay for a sandwich at Schwab's drug-store."

5. Lamarr died in Casselberry, Florida (near Orlando) on January 19, 2000. In 2005, the first Inventor's Day in German-speaking countries was held in her honor on November 9, on what would have been her 92nd birthday.

Veronica Lake (Portrait Treatment)


1. Lake was born as Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in Brooklyn, New York on November 14, 1922. Her father died when she was ten. Lake was sent to Villa Maria, an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Montreal, Canada, from which she was expelled. She and her family later moved to Miami, Florida. Lake attended Miami Senior High School in Miami, where she was known for her beauty. She had a troubled childhood and was, according to her mother, diagnosed as schizophrenic.

2. For a short time during the early 1940s Lake was considered one of the most reliable box office draws in Hollywood. She became known for onscreen pairings with actor Alan Ladd. At first, the couple was teamed together merely out of physical necessity: Ladd was just 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall and the only actress then on the Paramount lot short enough to pair with him was Lake, who stood just 4 feet 11½ inches (1.51 m). They made four films together.

3. Although popular with the public, Lake had a complex personality and acquired a reputation for being difficult to work with. Eddie Bracken, her co-star in Star Spangled Rhythm was quoted as saying, "She was known as 'The Bitch' and she deserved the title." Joel McCrea, her co-star in Sullivan's Travels, reputedly turned down the co-starring role in I Married a Witch, saying, "Life's too short for two films with Veronica Lake." She had begun drinking more heavily during this period and people began refusing to work with her. Paramount cast Lake in a string of mostly forgotten films. A notable exception was The Blue Dahlia (1946), in which she again co-starred with Ladd. During filming, screenplay writer Raymond Chandler referred to her as "Moronica Lake".

4. After breaking her ankle in 1959, Lake was unable to continue working as an actress. She and songwriter Joseph A. McCarthy divorced, after which she drifted between cheap hotels in Brooklyn and New York City and was arrested several times for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. A New York Post reporter found her working as a barmaid at the all-women's Martha Washington Hotel in Manhattan. At first, Veronica claimed that she was a guest at the hotel and covering for a friend. Soon afterward, she admitted that she was employed at the bar. Her physical and mental health declined steadily. By the late 1960s Lake was in Hollywood, Florida, apparently immobilized by paranoia (which included claims she was being stalked by the FBI).

5. Lake died on July 7, 1973 of hepatitis and acute renal failure (complications of her alcoholism) in Burlington, Vermont, where her death was certified by Dr. Wareen Beeken at the Fletcher Allen Hospital and where she was seen by many staff members during her nearly two week stay. A rumor persists that she died in Montreal and was smuggled across the border to Vermont.


Katherine Hepburn (Portrait Treatment)


1. Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut on May 12, 1907, the daughter of suffragette Katharine Martha Houghton (an heiress to the Corning Glass fortune and co-founder of Planned Parenthood), and Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn who was a successful urologist from Virginia with Maryland roots.

2. On April 3, 1921, while visiting friends in Greenwich Village, Hepburn found her older brother Tom (born November 8, 1905), whom she idolized, hanging from the rafters of the attic by a rope, an apparent suicide. Her family denied it was self-inflicted, arguing he had been a happy boy. They insisted it must have been an experiment gone awry. It has been speculated he was trying to carry out a trick he saw in a play with Katharine. Hepburn was devastated and sank into a depression. She shied away from other children and was mostly home-schooled. For many years she used Tom's birthday (November 8) as her own. It was not until her 1991 autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, that Hepburn revealed her true birth date of May 12, 1907.

3. On September 21, 1938, Hepburn was staying in her family's Old Saybrook, Connecticut beach home when the 1938 New England Hurricane struck and destroyed the house. Hepburn, her mother, brother and servants narrowly escaped before the home was lifted off its foundations and washed away. She stated in her 1991 book that she lost 95% of her belongings in the storm, including her 1932–1933 best actress Oscar, which was later found intact.

4. Outspoken and intellectual with an acerbic tongue, she defied the era's conventions, preferring to wear pantsuits and disdaining makeup. She also had a famously difficult relationship with the press, turning down most interviews, which did not help her image with the public. On her first outing with the Hollywood press corps after the success of A Bill of Divorcement, Hepburn talked with reporters who had invaded her and her husband's cabin aboard the ship City of Paris. A reporter asked if they were really married; Hepburn responded, "I don't remember." Following up, another reporter asked if they had any children; Hepburn's answer: "Two white and three colored".

5. Hepburn had had several early liaisons, most notably with her agent Leland Hayward, John Ford and Howard Hughes. Spencer Tracy, however, seems to have been her true love. Hepburn made her first appearance with Spencer Tracy in Woman of the Year (1942), directed by George Stevens. Behind the scenes the pair fell in love, beginning what would become one of Hollywood's most famous romances, despite Tracy's life long unwillingness (he was a Catholic) to divorce his estranged wife, the former Louise Treadwell, whom he had married in 1923. Hepburn and Tracy carefully hid their affair from the public, using back entrances to studios and hotels and assiduously avoiding the press. They were undeniably a couple for decades, but did not live together regularly until the last few years of Tracy's life. Even then, they maintained separate homes to keep up appearances. Their relationship, which neither would discuss publicly, lasted until Tracy's death in 1967. Their relationship was complex and there were periods during which they were estranged. Tracy had several affairs while estranged from Hepburn, notably while filming Plymouth Adventure with his co-star Gene Tierney. Hepburn took five years off after Long Day's Journey Into Night to care for Tracy while he was in failing health. Out of consideration for Tracy's family, Hepburn did not attend his funeral. She described herself as too heartbroken to ever watch Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, saying it evoked memories of Tracy that were too painful.


Irene Dunne (Portrait Treatment)


1. Born Irene Marie Dunn in Louisville, Kentucky on December 20, 1898, to Joseph Dunn, a steamboat inspector for the United States government, and Adelaide Henry, a concert pianist/music teacher from Newport, Kentucky, Irene Dunn would later write "No triumph of either my stage or screen career has ever rivalled the excitement of trips down the Mississippi on the river boats with my father." She was only eleven when her father died in 1909. She saved all of his letters and often remembered and lived by what he told her the night before he died: "Happiness is never an accident. It is the prize we get when we choose wisely from life's great stores."

2. Irene, after adding an "e" to her surname, turned to musical theater, making her Broadway debut in 1922 in Zelda Sears's The Clinging Vine. Though in her own words Dunne created "no great furor," by 1929 she had a successful Broadway career playing leading roles, grateful to be at center stage rather than in the chorus line. Dunne met her future husband, Francis Griffin, a New York dentist, at a supper dance in New York. Despite differing opinions and battles that raged furiously, Dunne eventually agreed to marry him and leave the theater.

3. Dunne commented in an interview that she had lacked the "terrifying ambition" of some other actresses and said, "I drifted into acting and drifted out. Acting is not everything. Living is." It has been surmised, "She was strikingly beautiful and enormously gifted for drama, musicals, or comedy (an art at which...she was one of the best and most underrated)." Dunne has been described as the best actress never to win an Academy Award. She received five Best Actress nominations during her career: for Cimarron (1931), Theodora Goes Wild (1936), The Awful Truth (1937), Love Affair (1939) and I Remember Mama (1948).

4. In 1957, Dwight David Eisenhower appointed Dunne one of five alternative U.S. delegates to the United Nations in recognition of her charitable works and interest in conservative Roman Catholic and Republican causes. In her retirement, Dunne devoted herself primarily to civic, philanthropic, and Republican political causes. In 1965, Dunne became a board member of Technicolor, the first woman ever elected to the board of directors.

5. Dunne died peacefully at her Holmby Hills home in Los Angeles, California in 1990, and is entombed in the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, California.

Jean Harlow (Portrait Treatment)


1. Harlow was born Harlean Harlow Carpenter on March 3, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. Harlean was nicknamed "The Baby", which would stick with her for the rest of her life. She was spoiled to the point that she did not learn that her name was actually Harlean and not "Baby" until the age of five, when she began to attend Miss Barstow's Finishing School for Girls in Kansas City. "She was always all mine," she said of her daughter. Her mother was extremely protective and coddling, instilling a sense that her daughter owed everything she had to her mother.

2. In Los Angeles, Harlean befriended Rosalie Roy, a young aspiring actress. Lacking a car, Roy asked Harlean to drive her to Fox Studios for an appointment. It was there that Harlean was noticed by Fox executives, while sitting in the car waiting for her friend. Harlean was approached by the executives, but stated that she was not interested. She was given dictated letters of introduction to Central Casting. Recounting this story a few days later, Rosalie Roy made a wager with Harlean that she did not have the nerve to go back and audition for roles. Unwilling to lose a wager and pressed by her enthusiastic mother, Harlean drove to Central Casting and signed in under her mother's maiden name, Jean Harlow.

3. Howard Hughes signed her to a five-year, $100 per week contract on October 24, 1929. Hell's Angels premiered in Hollywood on May 27, 1930 at Grauman's Chinese Theater. The movie made Harlow an international star and a sensation with audiences, but critics were less than enthusiastic. Variety was a bit more charitable in remarking, "It doesn't matter what degree of talent she possesses ... nobody ever starved possessing what she's got." The New Yorker called Harlow "plain awful".

4. Harlow complained about having pains on May 20, 1937 when she was filming Saratoga. On May 30, William Powell checked on Harlow, and when she did not feel any better, her mother was recalled from a holiday trip and a Dr. Fishbaugh visited Harlow at her home. On June 2, it was announced that Harlow was suffering from the flu. Harlow even felt better on June 3. Co-workers expected her back on the set by Monday, June 7. Press reports were contradictory with headlines like "Jean Harlow seriously ill" and "Harlow past illness crisis". When she slipped into a deep slumber and had difficulties in breathing, the doctor finally realized that she was suffering from something other than gall bladder infection and flu. On that same evening, Harlow was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where she slipped into a coma. 26-year-old Jean Harlow died in the hospital on Monday, June 7 at 11:37 am. In the doctor’s press releases, the reason of death was given as cerebral edema, which is a side effect of renal or kidney failure.

5. News of Harlow’s death spread fast. Spencer Tracy wrote in his diary, "Jean Harlow died today. Grand gal." One of the MGM writers later said: ”The day Baby died there wasn’t one sound in the commissary for three hours.” MGM was closed down on the day of Harlow’s funeral on June 9. She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California in the Great Mausoleum in a private room of multicoloured marble, which William Powell had bought for $25,000. There is a simple inscription on Harlow’s grave, "Our Baby".


Betty Hutton (Portrait Treatment)


1. Hutton was born as Elizabeth June Thornburg on February 26, 1921, a daughter of railroad foreman Percy E. Thornburg and his wife, the former Mabel Lum. Her father abandoned the family for another woman and they did not hear from or see him again until they received a telegram, in 1939, informing them of his death from suicide. Along with her older sister Marion, Betty was raised by her mother, who took the surname Hutton and was later billed as the actress Sissy Jones.

2. The three started singing in the family's speakeasy when Betty was 3 years old. Related troubles with the police kept the family on the move, and eventually they moved to Detroit. When interviewed as an established star appearing at the premiere of Let's Dance (1950), her mother — arriving with her, and following a police escort — quipped, "At least this time the police are in front of us!"

3. Hutton made 19 films from 1942 to 1952 including a hugely popular The Perils of Pauline in 1947. Her obituary in The New York Times described her as "a brassy, energetic performer with a voice that could sound like a fire alarm." Hutton, however, like Garland, was earning a reputation for being extremely difficult.

4. After the 1967 death of her mother in a house fire and the collapse of her last marriage, Hutton's depression and pill addictions escalated. She divorced her fourth husband, jazz trumpeter Pete Candoli, and declared bankruptcy. Hutton had a nervous breakdown and later attempted suicide after losing her singing voice in 1970. After regaining control of her life through rehab, and the mentorship of a Roman Catholic priest, Father Peter Maguire, Hutton converted to Roman Catholicism and took a job as a cook at a rectory in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. She made national headlines when it was revealed she was working in a rectory.

5. A ninth grade drop-out, Hutton went back to school and earned a Master's Degree in psychology from Salve Regina University. During her time at college, Hutton became friends with Kristin Hersh and attended several early Throwing Muses concerts. Hersh would later write Elizabeth June as a tribute to her friend. Hersh would later document their relationship in further detail in her autobiography, Rat Girl.


Dorothy Dandridge (Portrait Treatment)


1. Dorothy Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Cyril Dandridge, a cabinetmaker and minister, and to Ruby Dandridge (née Butler), an aspiring entertainer. Dandridge's parents separated shortly before her birth. Ruby Dandridge soon created an act for her two young daughters, Vivian and Dorothy, under the name of "The Wonder Children." The daughters toured the Southern United States for five years while Ruby worked and performed in Cleveland. During this time, they toured almost non-stop and rarely attended school.

2. Dandridge married dancer and entertainer Harold Nicholas on September 6, 1942, and gave birth to her only child, Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas, on September 2, 1943. Harolyn was born brain-damaged, and the couple divorced in October 1951.

3. In 1954, director and writer Otto Preminger cast Dandridge, along with Harry Belafonte, Pearl Bailey, Brock Peters, Diahann Carroll, Madame Sul-Te-Wan (uncredited), and Joe Adams, in his all-black production of Carmen Jones. However, Dandridge's singing voice was dubbed by opera singer Marilyn Horne.

4. Dandridge married Jack Denison on June 22, 1959, although the pair divorced amid allegations of domestic violence and financial setbacks. At this time, Dandridge discovered that the people who were handling her finances had swindled her out of $150,000, and that she was $139,000 in debt for back taxes. Forced to sell her Hollywood home and to place her daughter in a state mental institution in Camarillo, California, Dandridge moved into a small apartment at 8495 Fountain Avenue in West Hollywood, California. Alone and without any acting roles or singing engagements on the horizon, Dandridge suffered a nervous breakdown.

5. On September 8, 1965, Dandridge spoke by telephone with friend Geri Branton. Dandridge was scheduled to fly to New York the next day to prepare for her nightclub engagement at Basin Street East. Several hours after her conversation with Branton ended, Dandridge was found dead by her manager, Earl Mills. Two months later a Los Angeles pathology institute determined the cause to be an accidental overdose of Imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant. However, an alternative source reported that the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office came to a different conclusion, that: “Miss Dandridge died of a rare embolism—blockage of the blood passages at the lungs and brain by tiny pieces of fat flaking off from bone marrow in a fractured right foot she sustained in a Hollywood film five days before she died.” She was 42 years old.


Greta Garbo (Portrait Treatment)


1. Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden on 18 September 1905. As a child, Garbo was daydreaming and shy. She hated school and did not play much, but was interested in theater from an early age and dreamt about becoming an actress. At the age of 13, Garbo graduated from school, and typical for a Swedish working-class girl at that time, did not pursue further education; she would later express an inferiority complex about this fact.

2. Except for the very early days of her career, Garbo was reclusive; she seldom signed autographs, rarely attended social functions, answered no fan mail, and she gave few interviews. Her refusal to give interviews gave rise to the press reporter jargon "pulling a Garbo" or "going Garbo" referring to any such actions. In her 1928 Photoplay interview she said, "I have always been moody. When I was just a little child, as early as I can remember, I have wanted to be alone. I detest crowds, don’t like many people. I used to crawl into a corner and sit and think, think things over."

3. Garbo was introduced to stage and screen actress Lilyan Tashman at a tennis party in 1927 and allegedly had an affair with her. The two became inseparable companions who went shopping, swimming, and to Tashman's garden cottage. There was some speculation that Garbo was bisexual, that she had intimate relationships with women as well as with such men as John Gilbert. She and Gilbert starred together for the first time in the classic Flesh and the Devil (1926). Their on-screen erotic intensity soon translated into an off-camera romance, and by the end of production Garbo had moved in with Gilbert. Gilbert allegedly proposed to her three times before she accepted. When a marriage was finally arranged in 1926, she failed to show up at the ceremony.

4. Garbo continued to demonstrate great loyalty to John Gilbert and insisted that he appear with her in 1933's Queen Christina, despite the objection of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer; Laurence Olivier had originally been chosen for the role. In 1935, David O. Selznick wanted to cast her as the dying heiress in Dark Victory, but she insisted on doing Tolstoy's Anna Karenina instead. Although Anna Karenina was arguably one of her most famous roles, Garbo regarded her role as the doomed courtesan in George Cukor's Camille (1936), opposite Robert Taylor, as her finest performance.

5. Garbo gradually withdrew from the entertainment world and moved to a secluded life in New York City, refusing to make any public appearances. She is often associated with her famous line, a line the American Film Institute in 2005 voted the 30th most memorable movie quote of all time, as the Russian ballerina Grusinskaya in Grand Hotel (1932): "I want to be alone (...) I just want to be alone." a theme echoed in several of her other roles, e.g. in The Single Standard (1929) where her character Arden Stuart 'spoke' the line: "I am walking alone because I want to be alone" and in Love (1927) where a title card read "I like to be alone". By the early 1930s the phrase was indelibly linked with Garbo's persona, but Garbo later commented: "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be let alone.' There is all the difference." Garbo lived the last years of her life in relative seclusion. On 15 April 1990, aged 84, she died in New York Hospital as a result of pneumonia and renal failure. Garbo neither married nor had children.


Greer Garson (Portrait Treatment)


1. Greer Garson was born Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson in Manor Park, Essex (now Greater London), England in 1904.

2. Louis B. Mayer discovered Garson while he was in London looking for new talent. Garson was signed to a contract with MGM in late 1937, but did not begin work on her first film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, until late 1938. She received her first Oscar nomination for the role, but lost to Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind.

3. Garson won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942 for her role as a strong British wife and mother in the middle of World War II in Mrs. Miniver. (Guinness Book of World Records credits her with the longest Oscar acceptance speech, at five minutes and 30 seconds, after which the Academy Awards instituted a time limit.)

4. Her second husband, whom she married (at age 39) in 1943, was Richard Ney (1916–2004), the younger actor (27 years old) who played her son in Mrs. Miniver. They divorced in 1947, with Garson claiming that Ney called her a "has-been" and belittled her age, as well as testimony from Garson that he also physically abused her. Ney eventually became a respected stock-market analyst and financial consultant.

5. Garson donated millions for the construction of the Greer Garson Theater at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and The Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University on three conditions: 1) that the stage be circular, 2) that the premiere production be William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and 3) that it have large ladies' rooms.

Claudette Colbert (Portrait Treatment)


1. Émilie Claudette Chauchoin was born in Saint-Mandé, Seine, France, to Georges Claude, a banker, and Jeanne Loew Chauchoin, a pastry cook.

2. During her early years on stage, she fought against being typecast as a maid, and received critical acclaim on Broadway in the production of The Barker (1927), playing a carnival snake charmer.

3. Cecil B. DeMille cast her as the Roman empress Poppaea in his historical epic, The Sign of the Cross (1932), opposite Fredric March. In one sequence, Colbert bathes in a marble pool filled with asses' milk, a scene that came to be regarded as an example of Hollywood decadence prior to the enforcement of the Production Code.

4. Colbert was reluctant to appear as the "runaway heiress", Ellie Andrews, in the Frank Capra romantic comedy, It Happened One Night (1934), opposite Clark Gable and released by Columbia Pictures. Behind schedule after several actresses had refused the role, the studio accepted Colbert's demand that she be paid $50,000 and that filming was to be completed within four weeks to allow her to take a planned vacation. Colbert felt that the script was weak, and Capra recalled her dissatisfaction, commenting, "Claudette fretted, pouted and argued about her part... she was a tartar, but a cute one."

5. Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) with Henry Fonda was Colbert's first color film. However, she distrusted the relatively new Technicolor process and feared that she would not photograph well, preferring thereafter to be filmed in black and white.

Rita Hayworth (Portrait Treatment)


1. Born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, New York City, she was the daughter of flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino, Sr., from Castilleja de la Cuesta (Seville), and Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth who was of Irish and English descent.

2. Since Hayworth was not of legal age to work in nightclubs and bars according to California state law, she and her father traveled across the border to the city of Tijuana in Mexico, a popular tourist spot for Los Angeles citizens in the early 1930s.

3. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons did not think Hayworth would be successful. She met Hayworth just when she was starting out, and saw her as a "painfully shy” girl who “couldn’t look strangers in the eye” and whose voice was so low it could hardly be heard.

4. Alluding to her bombshell status, in 1946 her likeness was placed on the first nuclear bomb to be tested after World War II (at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean's Marshall Islands) as part of Operation Crossroads.

5. In 1949 Hayworth's lips were voted best in the world by the Artists League of America.

Audrey Hepburn (Portrait Treatment)


1. Born in Ixelles, Belgium, as Audrey Kathleen Ruston, Hepburn spent her childhood chiefly in the Netherlands, including German-occupied Arnhem, Netherlands, during the Second World War.

2. In 1935, Hepburn's parents divorced and her father, a Nazi sympathiser, left the family. Both parents were members of the British Union of Fascists in the mid-1930s according to Unity Mitford, a friend of Ella van Heemstra and a follower of Adolf Hitler.

3. By 1944, Hepburn had become a proficient ballerina. She secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance. She later said, "The best audience I ever had made not a single sound at the end of my performances".

4. Her acting career began with the educational film Dutch in Seven Lessons (1948).

5. Otto Frank asked her to play his daughter Anne's onscreen counterpart in the 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank, but Hepburn, who was born the same year as Anne, was almost 30 years old, and felt too old to play a teenager. The role was eventually given to Millie Perkins.


Jennifer Jones (Portrait Treatment)


1. Jones was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the daughter of Flora Mae (née Suber) and Phillip Ross Isley. She was raised Roman Catholic and she attended Catholic school. Her parents toured the Midwest in a traveling tent show they owned and operated.

2. When she learned of auditions for the lead role in Claudia, Rose Franken’s hit play, she presented herself to David O. Selznick’s New York office but fled in tears after what she thought was a bad reading.

3. Director Henry King was impressed by her screen test as Bernadette Soubirous for The Song of Bernadette (1943) and she won the coveted role over hundreds of applicants. In 1944, on her 25th birthday, Jones won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Bernadette Soubirous. That year, Jones' friend, Ingrid Bergman, was also a Best Actress nominee for her work in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Jones apologized to Bergman, who replied, "No, Jennifer, your Bernadette was better than my Maria."

4. Jones's first marriage produced two sons, Robert Walker, Jr.* (born April 15, 1940; Jones's only child who would not predecease her), and Michael Walker (March 13, 1941 – December 27, 2007). Both later became actors. Jones had an affair with film producer David O. Selznick, which eventually led to her separation from Walker in November 1943 and divorce in June 1945.

5. According to media reports, Jones attempted suicide in November 1967 after hearing of the death of close friend Charles Bickford. She was found unconscious at the base of a cliff overlooking Malibu Beach; she was hospitalized in a coma before eventually recovering. Her daughter, Mary Jennifer Selznick (1954–1976), committed suicide by jumping from a 20th-floor window in Los Angeles on May 11, 1976. This led to Jones's interest in mental health issues.

* Walker Jr. had a memorable Star Trek role as "Charles 'Charlie' Evans" in the episode "Charlie X". In addition, he played Billy the Kid in episode 22 of The Time Tunnel, which originally aired on February 10, 1967, and also portrayed Nick Baxter, an ill alien who caused the deaths of humans by touch, in the episode "Panic" in the television series The Invaders, which aired on April 11, 1967.


Marion Davies (Portrait Treatment)


1. Davies was born Marion Cecilia Douras on January 3, 1897 in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of five children born to Bernard J. Douras (1857–1935), a lawyer and judge in New York City; and Rose Reilly (1867–?).

2. She was educated in a convent.

3. By the mid-1920s, her career was often overshadowed by her relationship with the married Hearst and their fabulous social life at San Simeon and Ocean House in Santa Monica; the latter dubbed by Colleen Moore "the biggest house on the beach – the beach between San Diego and Vancouver".

4. The coming of sound made Davies nervous because she had never completely overcome a childhood stutter.

5. An "urban legend" having to do with a rumored relationship with Chaplin has endured since 1924. Chaplin (among other actresses and actors) and Davies were aboard the yacht the fateful night Thomas Ince died. Despite the lack of evidence to support a relationship, rumors have circulated since that Hearst mistook Ince for Chaplin and shot him in a jealous rage. The rumors were dramatised in the play The Cat's Meow, which was later made into Peter Bogdanovich's 2001 film of the same name* starring Edward Herrmann as Hearst, Kirsten Dunst as Davies, Eddie Izzard as Chaplin, Joanna Lumley as Elinor Glyn, Jennifer Tilly as gossip columnist Louella Parsons, and Cary Elwes as Ince.

* Davies was rumored to be the inspiration for the Susan Alexander character portrayed in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which was based loosely on Hearst's life. This led to various portrayals of Davies as a talentless opportunist; the most recent being Melanie Griffith's in HBO's RKO 281.

Welles himself, as stated in his foreword to Davies autobiography The Times We Had, said he deeply regretted that so many assumed Susan Alexander was a carbon copy of Davies, and that the real Davies was a great actress and a wonderful woman. He also claimed that the Susan Alexander character owed as much to the Chicago tycoon Samuel Insull's wife, for whom he built an opera house.

Davies was portrayed by Virginia Madsen in the telefilm
The Hearst and Davies Affair (1985) with Robert Mitchum as Hearst, and Heather McNair in Chaplin (1992). Madsen later became a Davies fan and said that she felt she had inadvertently portrayed her as a stereotype, rather than as a real person.

In the Bogdanovich movie
The Cat's Meow (see above), Kirsten Dunst played Davies as a witty, intelligent woman.

A documentary film
Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies (2001) premiered on Turner Classic Movies.

Doris Day (Portrait Treatment)


1. Doris Day (Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, April 3, 1922) was born in the Cincinnati, Ohio, neighborhood of Evanston to Alma Sophia Welz (a housewife) and Wilhelm (later William) Kappelhoff (a music teacher and choir master).

2. Day developed an early interest in dance, and in the mid-1930s formed a dance duo with Jerry Doherty that performed locally in Cincinnati. A car accident on October 13, 1937, damaged her legs and curtailed her prospects as a professional dancer. While recovering, Day took singing lessons, and at 17 she began performing locally.

3. It was while working for local bandleader Barney Rapp in 1939 or 1940 that she adopted the stage name "Day" as an alternative to "Kappelhoff," at his suggestion. Rapp felt her surname was too long for marquees. The first song she had performed for him was "Day After Day", and her stage name was taken from that.

4. Upon her husband's death on April 20, 1968, Day learned that he had committed her to a television series, which became The Doris Day Show. "It was awful", Day told OK! Magazine in 1996. "I was really, really not very well when Marty [Melcher] passed away, and the thought of going into TV was overpowering. But he'd signed me up for a series. And then my son Terry [Melcher] took me walking in Beverly Hills and explained that it wasn't nearly the end of it. I had also been signed up for a bunch of TV specials, all without anyone ever asking me."

5. One of the roles she turned down was that of the iconic Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, a role that eventually went to Anne Bancroft. In her published memoirs, Day said that she had rejected the part on moral grounds. Her final feature film, With Six You Get Eggroll, was released in 1968.

Joan Blondell (Portrait Treatment)


1. Blondell was born to a vaudeville family in New York City. Her father, known as Eddie Joan Blondell, Jr., was born in Indiana in 1866 to French parents, and was a vaudeville comedian and one of the original Katzenjammer Kids.

2. Joan had spent six years in Australia and seen much of the world by the time her family, who had been on tour, settled in Dallas, Texas when she was a teenager. Under the name Rosebud Blondell, she won the 1926 Miss Dallas pageant and placed fourth for Miss America in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in September of that same year.

3. Placed under contract by Warners, she moved to Hollywood where studio boss Jack Warner wanted her to change her name to "Inez Holmes", but Blondell refused.

4. During the Great Depression, Blondell was one of the highest paid individuals in the United States.

5. Blondell was widely seen in two films released not long before her death, Grease (1978) and the remake of The Champ (1979) with Jon Voight and Rick Schroder.


Anne Francis (Portrait Treatment)


1. Francis entered show business at a young age, working as a model at age five to help her family during the Great Depression, and made her Broadway debut at the age of 11.

2. Her first leading role was in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle but she is perhaps best-known on film for her role as Altaira in the significant S.F. film Forbidden Planet.

3. In 1965, Francis turned to series television and was cast as Honey West, a sexy private detective with a pet ocelot.

4. Francis adopted Margaret West in 1970 in one of the first adoptions granted to a single person in California.

5. Francis was treated for lung cancer in 2007-2008. She has kept her followers informed of her progress on her official web site.

Pier Angeli (Portrait Treatment)


1. Born Anna Maria Pierangeli in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, Angeli made her film debut with Vittorio de Sica in Domani è troppo tardi (1950).

2. For Paramount, she should have had the role of Anna Magnani's daughter in The Rose Tattoo, but because motherhood interfered, the role went to her twin sister, Marisa Pavan, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role.

3. For a short time, Angeli also had a romantic relationship with James Dean, however, under pressure from her domineering mother, she broke off the relationship and went on to marry singer and actor Vic Damone (1954–1958).

4. She returned to MGM for Somebody Up There Likes Me as Paul Newman's long-suffering wife (James Dean had originally been expected to play the starring role, which went to Newman after Dean's death).

5. At the age of 39, despondent and lonely, Angeli was found dead of an accidental barbiturate overdose.


Marlene Dietrich (Portrait Treatment)


1. Dietrich was born Maria Magdalene Dietrich on 27 December 1901 in Schöneberg, a district of Berlin, Germany. She was nicknamed "Lena" and "Lene" (pronounced Lay-neh) within the family. Around the age of 11, she contracted her two first names to form the then-novel name of "Marlene".

2. In 1929, Dietrich landed the breakthrough role of Lola-Lola, a cabaret singer who causes the downfall of a hitherto respected schoolmaster, in UFA's production, The Blue Angel (1930). The film was directed by Josef von Sternberg, who thereafter took credit for having "discovered" Dietrich.

3. Dietrich was known to have strong political convictions and the mind to speak them. In interviews, Dietrich stated that she had been approached by representatives of the Nazi Party to return to Germany, but had turned them down flat. Dietrich, a staunch anti-Nazi, became an American citizen in 1939. In December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II, and Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to raise war bonds. Dietrich was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the US in 1947. She said that this was her proudest accomplishment.

4. Unlike her professional celebrity, which was carefully crafted and maintained, Dietrich's personal life was kept out of public view. Dietrich, who was bisexual, enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin.

5. Dietrich was an atheist. She was raised a Protestant but lost her faith due to battlefront experiences during her time with the US Army as an entertainer after hearing preachers from both sides invoking God as their support. She once said: “If God exists, he needs to review his plan.”

Agnes Moorehead (Portrait Treatment)


1. Moorehead was born in Clinton, Massachusetts, of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh ancestry, to a Presbyterian clergyman, John Henderson Moorehead, and his wife, the former Mildred McCauley, who had been a singer. Moorehead later shaved six years off her age by claiming to have been born in 1906.

2. The Moorehead family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and Moorehead's ambition to become an actress grew "very strong". She joined the chorus of the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company, known as "The Muny" and graduated from Central High School in St. Louis in 1918.*

3. Moorehead's early career was unsteady, and although she was able to find stage work she was often unemployed and forced to go hungry. She later recalled going four days without food, and said that it had taught her "the value of a dollar." She found work in radio and was soon in demand. She met Orson Welles and by 1937 was a member of his Mercury Theatre Group. She appeared in his radio production Julius Caesar, had a regular role in the serial The Shadow as Margo and was one of the players in his The War of the Worlds production. In 1939, Welles moved the Mercury Theatre Group to Hollywood, where he started working for RKO Studios. Several of his radio performers joined him, and Moorehead made her film debut as his mother in Citizen Kane (1941).

4. Moorehead died of uterine cancer at the age of seventy-three in Rochester, Minnesota. She appeared in the 1956 movie The Conqueror, which was shot downwind from a nuclear test site and was one of over 90 cast and crew members to contract cancer out of the 220 who worked on the picture.

5. In the years since her death, rumors about Moorehead's being a lesbian have been widespread, most notoriously in the book Hollywood Lesbians by Boze Hadleigh, whose source for the allegation was Paul Lynde. However, Moorehead biographer Charles Tranberg (I Love the Illusion: The Life and Career of Agnes Moorehead, 2005) interviewed several of the actress's closest friends, including some who are openly gay, who all stated the rumor is untrue. Debbie Reynolds explicitly denied to film historian Robert Osborne that her "best friend" Moorehead was gay.

*In 1994, Moorehead was posthumously inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.


Frances Farmer (Portrait Treatment)


Right. So you may have noticed I've recently been adding a little biographical information to all of my pretty-movie-stars-from-before-we-were-born treated vector portraits. I was thinking that maybe a few excerpts of backstory might add a little depth of interest to this recent series of postings.

But if you know anything about the Frances Farmer story
(maybe, like me, you saw the movie with Jessica Lange), you know that five bullet points just won't cover it. I went through the Wiki entry just now and believe me - you aren't gonna wanna miss a word of this brave and troubled woman's beyond-and-back bio. So I'll just leave the link with you and let you read for yourself...

In fact, let me go ahead and save you the click...

Farmer was born in Seattle, Washington, to Ernest Melvin Farmer and Lillian Van Ornum Farmer. In 1931, while attending West Seattle High School, she entered and won $100 from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a writing contest sponsored by Scholastic Magazine, with her controversial essay God Dies.* It was a precocious attempt to reconcile her wish for, in her words, a "superfather" God, with her observations of a chaotic, seemingly godless, world. In 1935, as a student at the University of Washington, Farmer won a subscription contest for the leftist newspaper The Voice of Action. First prize was a trip to the Soviet Union, which she took despite her mother's strong objections, in order to see the pioneering Moscow Art Theater. These two incidents fostered accusations that Farmer was both an atheist and a Communist.

Farmer studied drama at the University of Washington. During the 1930s, its drama department productions were considered citywide cultural events and attended accordingly. While there she starred in plays including Helen of Troy, Everyman and Uncle Vanya. In late 1934, she starred in the school's production of Alien Corn, speaking foreign languages, playing the piano, and receiving rave reviews in what was then the longest-running play in the department's history.

Returning from the Soviet Union in the summer of 1935, Farmer stopped in New York City, hoping to launch a legitimate theater career. Instead, she was referred to a Paramount Pictures talent scout, Oscar Serlin, who arranged for a screen test. Paramount offered her a 7-year contract. Farmer signed it in New York on her 22nd birthday and moved to Hollywood. She had top billing in two well-received 1936 B-movies. She wed actor Leif Erickson in February 1936 while shooting the first of the movies. Later that year, Farmer was cast opposite Bing Crosby in her first "A" feature, Rhythm on the Range. During the summer of 1936, she was loaned to Samuel Goldwyn to appear in Come and Get It, based on the novel by Edna Ferber. Both of these films were sizable hits, and her portrayals of both the mother and daughter in Come and Get It were praised by the public and critics, with several reviews greeting Farmer as a new-found star.

Farmer was not entirely satisfied with her career, however. She felt stifled by Paramount's tendency to cast her in films which depended on her looks more than her talent. Her outspoken style made her seem uncooperative and contemptuous. In an age when the studios dictated every facet of a star's life, Farmer rebelled against the studio's control and resisted every attempt they made to glamorize her private life. She refused to attend Hollywood parties or to date other stars for the gossip columns. However, Farmer was sympathetically described in a 1937 Colliers article as being indifferent about the clothing she wore and was said to drive an older-model "green roadster."

Hoping to enhance her reputation as a serious actress, she left Hollywood in 1937 to do summer stock in Westchester, New York. There she attracted the attention of director Harold Clurman and playwright Clifford Odets. They invited her to appear in the Group Theatre production of Odets' play Golden Boy. Her performance at first received mixed reviews, with Time magazine commenting that she had been miscast. Due to Farmer's box office appeal, however, the play became the biggest hit in the Group's history. By 1938, when the production had embarked on a national tour, regional critics from Washington D.C. to Chicago gave her rave reviews.

Farmer had an affair with Odets, but he was married to actress Luise Rainer and didn't offer Farmer a commitment. Farmer felt betrayed when Odets suddenly ended the relationship; and when the Group chose another actress for its London run—an actress whose family funded the play—she came to believe that The Group had used her drawing power selfishly to further the success of the play. She returned to Hollywood, and arranged with Paramount to stay in Los Angeles for three months out of every year to make motion pictures. The rest of her time she intended to use for theater. Her next two appearances on Broadway had short runs. Farmer found herself back in Los Angeles, often loaned out by Paramount to other studios for starring roles. At her home studio, meanwhile, she was consigned to costarring appearances, which she often found unchallenging.

By 1939, her temperamental work habits and worsening alcoholism began to damage her reputation. In 1940, after abruptly quitting a Broadway production of a play by Ernest Hemingway, she starred in two major films, both loan-outs to other studios. A year later, however, she was again relegated to co-starring roles. In mid-1941 Clifford Odets attempted to lure her back to Broadway to star in his upcoming play Clash by Night, but she refused, telling him she thought she needed to stay in Hollywood to rebuild her career. She next appeared opposite Tyrone Power in the film Son of Fury (1942) (on loan-out to Twentieth Century-Fox) and received critical praise for her performance. Despite this, though, Paramount canceled her contract in 1942, reportedly because of her alcoholism and increasingly erratic behavior during pre-production of Take a Letter, Darling. Meanwhile, her marriage to Erickson had disintegrated and ended in divorce in 1942.

On October 19, 1942, Frances Farmer was stopped by the police in Santa Monica for driving with her headlights on bright in the wartime blackout zone that affected most of the West Coast. Some reports say she was unable to produce a driver's license and was verbally abusive. The police suspected her of being drunk and she was jailed overnight. Farmer was fined $500 and given a 180-day suspended sentence. She immediately paid $250 and was put on probation.

By January 1943, she failed to pay the rest of the fine and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. At almost the same time, a studio hairdresser filed an assault charge alleging that Farmer had dislocated her jaw on the set. The police traced Farmer to the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood. Getting no answer, they entered her room with a pass key. They reportedly found her in bed (some stories include an episode involving the bathroom) and made her dress quickly. By all accounts, she did not surrender peacefully.

At her hearing the next morning, she behaved erratically. She claimed the police had violated her civil rights, demanded an attorney, and threw an inkwell at the judge. He immediately sentenced her to 180 days in jail. She knocked down a policeman and bruised another, along with a matron. She ran to a phone booth where she tried to call her attorney, but was subdued by the police. They physically carried her away as she shouted, “Have you ever had a broken heart?”

Newspaper reports gave sensationalized accounts of her arrest. Through the efforts of her sister-in-law, a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County, Farmer was transferred to the psychiatric ward of L.A. General Hospital. There she was diagnosed with "manic depressive psychosis."

Within days, having been sent to the San Fernando Valley and the Kimball Sanitarium in La Crescenta, Farmer was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was given insulin shock therapy, a treatment then accepted as standard psychiatric procedure. The side effects included intense nausea.

Her family later claimed they did not give their consent to the treatment, as documented in her sister's self-published book, Look Back in Love, and in court records. The sanitarium was a minimum-security facility. After about nine months, Farmer walked away one afternoon and went to her half-sister Rita's house, over 20 miles away. The pair called their mother in Seattle to complain about the insulin treatment.

Lillian Farmer traveled to California and began a lengthy legal battle to have guardianship of her daughter transferred from the state of California to her. Although several psychiatrists testified that Farmer needed further treatment, her mother prevailed. The two of them left Los Angeles by train on September 13, 1943.

Farmer moved back in with her parents in West Seattle, but she and her mother fought bitterly. Within six months, Farmer physically attacked her mother. Her mother then had Frances Farmer committed to Western State Hospital at Steilacoom, Washington. There, Farmer sometimes received electro-convulsive shock treatment (ECT). Three months later, during the summer of 1944, she was pronounced "completely cured" and released.

While traveling with her father to visit at an aunt's ranch in Reno, Nevada, Farmer ran away. She spent time with a family who had picked her up hitchhiking, but she was eventually arrested for vagrancy in Antioch, California. Her arrest received wide publicity. Offers of help came in from across the country, but Farmer ignored them all. After a long stay with her aunt in Nevada, Farmer went back to her parents. At her mother's request, at age 31, Farmer was recommitted to Western State Hospital in May 1945 and remained there almost five years, with the exception of a brief parole in 1946.

In the years following Farmer's death in 1970, her treatment at Western State was the subject of serious discussion and wild speculation. Kenneth Anger included a chapter relating her breakdown in Hollywood Babylon. Farmer's ghostwritten, posthumously published autobiography Will There Really Be A Morning? described a brutal incarceration. It claimed Farmer had been brutalized and mistreated in numerous ways. Some of the claims included being forced to eat her own feces and act as a sex slave for male doctors and orderlies.

Farmer had accounted her stay in the state asylum as "unbearable terror" stating that "I was raped by orderlies, gnawed on by rats and poisoned by tainted food. I was chained in padded cells, strapped into strait-jackets and half drowned in ice baths". The Scientology-related advocacy group the Citizens Commission on Human Rights reported of Steilacoom that "Conditions were barbaric. Both criminals and the mentally retarded were crowded together, their meals thrown on the floor to be fought over. Farmer was subjected to regular and continuous electroshock. In addition, she was prostituted to soldiers from the local military base and raped and abused by the orderlies. One of the most vivid recollections of some veterans of the institution would be the sight of Frances Farmer being held down by the orderlies and raped by drunken gangs of soldiers. She was also used as an experimental subject for drugs such as Thorazine, Stelazine, Mellaril and Proxilin." Critics of the CCHR assertions have pointed out that all of these drugs were tested and manufactured years after Farmer's release from Western State, making them highly suspect.

In 1978, Seattle film reviewer William Arnold published Shadowland, which for the first time alleged that Farmer had been the subject of a transorbital lobotomy. Scenes of Farmer being subjected to this lobotomy procedure were part of the 1982 film Frances, which had initially been planned as an adaptation of Shadowland, though its producers ultimately reneged on their agreement with Arnold. During a court case against Brooksfilm (the film's producers), Arnold revealed that the lobotomy episode and much of his biography about Farmer was "fictionalized". Years later, on a DVD commentary track of the film Frances, director Graeme Clifford stated, "We didn't want to nickel and dime people to death with facts."

Farmer's sister, Edith, denied that the procedure was done. She said the hospital asked her parents' permission to perform the lobotomy, but her father was “horrified” by the notion and threatened legal action "if they tried any of their guinea pig operations on her." Western State Hospital recorded all the lobotomies performed during Farmer's period there. Since lobotomies were considered ground-breaking medical procedure, the hospital did not attempt to conceal its work. Although nearly 300 patients received the procedure, no evidence supports a claim that Farmer was among them. In 1983 Seattle newspapers interviewed former hospital staff members, including all the lobotomy ward nurses who were on duty during Farmer's years at Western State, and they all stated Farmer was never a patient on that ward. Dr. Walter Freeman's private patient records contained no references to Farmer. Dr. Charles Jones, psychiatric resident at Western State during Farmer's stays, also stated that Farmer was never given a lobotomy.

On March 23, 1950, at her parents' request, Farmer was paroled back into her mother's care. She took a job sorting laundry at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle. This was the same hotel where Farmer had been fêted in 1936 at the world premiere of Come and Get It. Farmer believed her mother could have her institutionalized again. In 1953, at her own request, 10 years after the arrest at the Knickerbocker Hotel, a judge legally restored Farmer's competency and full civil rights.

After a brief second marriage to utility worker Alfred H. Lobley, in 1954 Farmer moved to Eureka, California, where she worked anonymously for almost three years in a photo studio as a secretary/bookkeeper.

In 1957, Farmer met Leland C. Mikesell, an independent broadcast promoter from Indianapolis who helped her move to San Francisco. He got her work as a receptionist in a hotel and arranged for a reporter to recognize her and write an article. This led to renewed interest from the entertainment world.

Farmer told Modern Screen magazine, "I blame nobody for my fall... I think I have won the fight to control myself." She made two appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and also appeared on This Is Your Life. When asked about her alcoholism and mental illness, Farmer said she had never believed she was mentally ill. She commented, "if a person is treated like a patient, they are apt to act like one."

In August 1957, Farmer returned to the stage in New Hope, Pennsylvania, for a summer stock production of The Chalk Garden.

Through the spring of 1958, Farmer appeared in several live television dramas, some of which are preserved on kinescope. The same year, she made her last film, The Party Crashers, produced by Paramount. During this period, she divorced Lobley and married Mikesell. Her national comeback ended in Indianapolis after six performances of The Chalk Garden when she accepted an offer to host afternoon movies on a local TV station. By March 1959 national wireservice reports were indicating she had separated from Mikesell and he was suing her for breach of contract. Their divorce was finalized in 1963 in Indianapolis.

From 1958 to 1964 Farmer hosted a successful TV show called Frances Farmer Presents which had the top audience ranking in its time slot throughout the program's run. She was also in demand as a public speaker. In 1959 Farmer was baptized in the Roman Catholic faith at St. Joan of Arc Church in Indianapolis. During the early 1960s Farmer was actress-in-residence at Purdue University and appeared in some campus productions.

However by 1964 her behavior had turned erratic again. Farmer was fired, re-hired and fired from her television program. The manager of that television station later suggested (in a 1983 interview) that her turn for the worse was triggered by an appearance he had arranged for her on NBC's The Today Show. He had hoped to get her good publicity but believed Farmer had been stressed by being asked on national television about her years of institutionalization.

Farmer's last acting role was in The Visit at Loeb Playhouse on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, which ran from October 22 to October 30, 1965. She was arrested for drunk driving during this engagement.

Farmer attempted two small businesses with her friend Jean Ratcliffe but both failed. She was arrested again for drunk driving and her license was suspended for a year.

In 1970 Farmer died from esophageal cancer. She is interred at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Fishers, Indiana.


I'd just like to add, as a personal note to myself and any who made it to the bottom of this entry, that Frances Farmer, even through such a torturous, tortuous existence, was finally not a victim of despair, resignation & suicide. I think, from now on, I will remember her life and story as an inspiration for my own, you know?

*Read Frances' award-winning high school essay, "God Dies".

Anita Ekberg (Portrait Treatment)


1. Ekberg was born in 1931, the eldest girl and the sixth of eight children. In her teens, she worked as a fashion model. In 1950, Ekberg entered the Miss Malmö competition at her mother's urging, leading to the Miss Sweden contest, which she won. She consequently went to the United States to compete for the Miss Universe title, despite not speaking English.

2. In America, Ekberg met Howard Hughes, who at the time was producing films and wanted her to change her nose, teeth and name (Hughes said "Ekberg" was too difficult to pronounce). She refused to change her name, saying that if she became famous, people would learn to pronounce it, and if she didn't become famous, it would not matter.

3. The combination of a colourful private life and remarkable physique gave her appeal to gossip magazines such as Confidential and to the new type of men's magazine that proliferated in the 1950s. She soon became a major 1950s pin-up. In addition, Ekberg participated in publicity stunts. Famously, she admitted that an incident where her dress burst open in the lobby of London's Berkeley Hotel was pre-arranged with a photographer.

4. Ekberg was romantically linked to Tyrone Power, Marcello Mastroianni, Errol Flynn, Yul Brynner, Frank Sinatra and Gary Cooper; she also had a three-year affair with Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli. In his autobiography "Pieces of My Heart," actor Robert Wagner claims to have had an enjoyable one-night stand with Ekberg.

5. On 19 July 2009, she had been admitted to the San Giovanni Hospital in Rome, after falling ill in her home in Genzano, according to a medical official in its neurosurgery department. She had been living in Italy for many years. Despite her condition not being considered serious, she has been put under observation in the facility.


Ava Gardner (Portrait Treatment)


1. Gardner was born in the small farming community of Grabtown, Johnston County, North Carolina, the youngest of seven children of poor cotton and tobacco farmers; her mother, Mary Elizabeth ("Mollie") Gardner was of Scots-Irish and English descent, while her father, Jonas Bailey Gardner, was of Irish American and American Indian (Tuscarora) descent. When the children were still young, the Gardners lost their property, forcing Jonas Gardner to work at a sawmill and Mollie to begin working as a cook and housekeeper at a dormitory for teachers at the nearby Brogden School.

2. Gardner was visiting her sister Beatrice ("Bappie") in New York in 1941 when Beatrice's husband Larry Tarr, a professional photographer, offered to take her portrait. He was so pleased with the results that he displayed the finished product in the front window of his Tarr Photography Studio on tony Fifth Avenue. In 1941, a Loews Theatres legal clerk, Barnard "Barney" Duhan, spotted Gardner's photo in Tarr's studio. At the time, Duhan often posed as an MGM talent scout to meet girls, using the fact that MGM was a subsidiary of Loews. Duhan entered Tarr's and tried to get Gardner's number, but was rebuffed by the receptionist. Duhan made the offhand comment, "Somebody should send her info to MGM", and the Tarrs did so immediately. Shortly after, Gardner, who at the time was a student at Atlantic Christian College, traveled to New York to be interviewed at MGM's New York office. She was offered a standard contract by MGM, and left school for Hollywood in 1941 with her sister Bappie accompanying her. MGM's first order of business was to provide her a speech coach, as her Carolina drawl was nearly incomprehensible to them.

3. In 1966, Gardner briefly sought the role of Mrs. Robinson in Mike Nichols' The Graduate (1967). She reportedly called Nichols and said, "I want to see you! I want to talk about this Graduate thing!" Nichols never seriously considered her for the part, but he did visit her hotel, where he later recounted that "she sat at a little French desk with a telephone, she went through every movie star cliché. She said, 'All right, let's talk about your movie. First of all, I strip for nobody.'"

4. Gardner's third and last marriage (1951–1957) was to singer and actor Frank Sinatra. She would later say in her autobiography that of all the men she'd had - that he was the love of her life. Sinatra left his wife, Nancy, for Ava and their subsequent marriage made headlines. Sinatra was savaged by gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, the Hollywood establishment, the Roman Catholic Church, and by his fans for leaving his wife for a "femme fatale". His career suffered, while hers prospered – the headlines solidifying her screen siren image. Gardner used her considerable clout to get Sinatra cast in his Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity (1953). That role and the award revitalized both Sinatra's acting and singing careers.

5. During their marriage Gardner became pregnant twice, but she had two abortions. "MGM had all sorts of penalty clauses about their stars having babies," she said. She said years later, "We couldn't even take care of ourselves. How were we going to take care of a baby?" Gardner and Sinatra remained good friends for the rest of her life. After her death, Sinatra's daughter Tina found him slumped in his room, crying, and unable to speak. A floral arrangement at Gardner's graveside simply read: "With My Love, Francis".


Sophia Loren (Portrait Treatment)


Lili Damita (Portrait Treatment)


1. Born Liliane Marie-Madeleine Carré in Blaye, France, she was educated in convents and ballet schools in several European countries, including France, Spain and Portugal. At 14, she was enrolled as a dancer at the Opera de Paris.

2. Offered a role in film as a prize for winning a magazine beauty competition in 1921, she appeared in several silent films before being offered her first leading role in Das Spielzeug von Paris (1925) by Hungarian-born director Michael Curtiz, whom she married in 1925 (they divorced a year later).

3. In 1935 she married her second husband, a virtual unknown who would become Hollywood's biggest box office attraction, Errol Flynn, with whom she had a son, Sean Leslie Flynn (born 1941). Following the marriage, she retired from the screen. The couple divorced in 1942.

4. During the Vietnam War, her son Sean Flynn was working as a freelance photo journalist under contract to Time magazine when he and fellow journalist Dana Stone went missing on the road south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 6, 1970. Although Damita spent an enormous amount of money searching for her son, he was never found, and in 1984 Sean Leslie Flynn was declared legally dead.

5. Lili Damita died of Alzheimer's disease in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 89, and was interred in the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, her third husband's hometown.

Talullah Bankhead (Portrait Treatment)


1. In her autobiography, Bankhead claimed that her "first performance" was witnessed by none other than the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur. Her Aunt Marie gave the famous brothers a party at her home near Montgomery, Alabama, in which the guests were asked to entertain. "I won the prize for the top performance, with an imitation of my kindergarten teacher," Bankhead wrote. "The judges? Orville and Wilbur Wright."

2. During her early New York years, she became a peripheral member of the Algonquin Round Table and was known as a hard-partying girl-about-town. During this time she began to use cocaine and marijuana, going as far as saying "Cocaine isn't habit forming. I should know – I've been using it for years."

3. She professed to having a ravenous appetite for sex, but not for a particular type. "I've tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic. And the others give me either stiff neck or lockjaw", she said.

Another story holds that Bankhead met Chico Marx at a party. According to Dick Cavett, after Marx had been cautioned to be on his best behavior with Bankhead, the two first spoke at the punch bowl.
"Miss Bankhead."
"Mr. Marx."
"You know, I really want to fuck you.".

She replied, "And so you shall, you old-fashioned boy."

4. Bankhead's first film was Tarnished Lady (1931), directed by George Cukor, and the pair became fast friends. Bankhead behaved herself on the set and filming went smoothly, but she found film-making to be very boring and didn't have the patience for it. The opportunity to make $50,000 per film, however, was too good to pass up. She didn't like Hollywood either, though. When she met producer Irving Thalberg, she asked him, "How do you get laid in this dreadful place?" She later said, "The only reason I went to Hollywood was to fuck that divine Gary Cooper."

5. In 1933, Bankhead nearly died following a five-hour emergency hysterectomy due to venereal disease. Only 70 pounds (32 kg) when she left the hospital, she stoically said to her doctor, "Don't think this has taught me a lesson!"

Her last coherent words reportedly were "Codeine... bourbon."

Lauren Bacall (Portrait Treatment)


1. Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. Her parents were middle-class, with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary. They divorced when she was five, and she took her mother's last name, Bacall. Bacall no longer saw her father and formed a close bond with her mother, whom she took with her to California when she became a movie star.

2. She is first cousin to Shimon Peres, current President and former Prime Minister of Israel.

3. Bacall is a staunch liberal Democrat. She has proclaimed her political views on numerous occasions. She campaigned for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential election and for Robert Kennedy in his 1964 run for Senate.
In a 2005 interview with Larry King, Bacall described herself as "anti-Republican... A liberal. The L word." She went on to say that "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."

4. On May 21, 1945, Bacall married Humphrey Bogart. Their wedding and honeymoon took place at Malabar Farm, Lucas, Ohio. It was the country home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, a close friend of Bogart. The wedding was held in the Big House. Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45. They remained married until Bogart's death from cancer in 1957.

5. Bacall was married to actor Jason Robards from 1961 to 1969. According to Bacall's autobiography, she divorced Robards mainly because of his alcoholism.


Ingrid Bergman (Portrait Treatment)


1. Bergman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 29, 1915 to a mother who died when she was only two and a father who died when she was 12, after which she went to live with an elderly uncle. Her father encouraged her play-acting and even helped her find funny hats and costumes to dress up in while he photographed her. At 18, after school graduation, the lonely and shy girl decided to become an actress.

2. Her luck was as phenomenal as her talent. In New York City, a Swedish couple praised a film of hers to their son, an elevator operator in the apartment building where one of film producer David O. Selznick's young talent scouts lived. Six months later, Ingrid was on her way to Hollywood. "I owe my whole career to that elevator boy", she would say laughingly.

3. After Germany initiated World War II, Bergman, "felt guilty because she had so misjudged the situation in Germany" while she was there filming Die vier Gesellen (The Four Companions). According to one of her biographers, Charlotte Chandler (2007), she had at first considered the Nazis only a "temporary aberration, 'too foolish to be taken seriously.' She believed Germany would not start a war." Bergman felt that "The good people there would not permit it." Chandler adds, "Ingrid felt guilty all the rest of her life because when she was in Germany at the end of the war, she had been afraid to go with the others to witness the atrocities of the Nazi extermination camps."

4. Bergman could speak Swedish (her native language), German (her second language, learned in school), English (learned when brought over to United States), Italian (learned while living in Italy) and French (her third language, learned in school). In addition, she acted in each of these languages at various times. Fellow actor John Gielgud, who had acted with her in Murder on the Orient Express and who had directed her in the play The Constant Wife, playfully mocked this ability when he remarked, "She speaks five languages and can't act in any of them."
5. Bergman died in 1982 on her 67th birthday in London, England, following a long battle with breast cancer.

Olivia de Havilland (Portrait Treatment)


1. Olivia de Havilland was born on July 1, 1916 in Tokyo, Japan, to English parents. Her younger sister is the actress Joan Fontaine (born 1917), from whom she has been estranged for many decades, not speaking at all since 1975.

2. She played Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. In 1941, de Havilland became a naturalized citizen of the United States. de Havilland was becoming increasingly frustrated by the roles assigned to her and began to reject scripts. When her Warner Bros. contract expired, the studio informed her that six months had been added to it for times she had been on suspension; the law then allowed for studios to suspend contract players for rejecting a role and the period of suspension to be added to the contract period. In theory, this allowed a studio to maintain indefinite control over an uncooperative contractee. Most accepted this situation, while a few tried to change the system. Bette Davis had mounted an unsuccessful lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the 1930s. De Havilland mounted a lawsuit in the 1940s, supported by the Screen Actors Guild and was successful, thereby reducing the power of the studios and extending greater creative freedom to the performers. The decision was one of the most significant and far-reaching legal rulings in Hollywood. Her victory won her the respect and admiration of her peers, among them her own sister Joan Fontaine who later commented, "Hollywood owes Olivia a great deal". The studio, however, vowed never to hire her again. The California Court of Appeal's ruling came to be informally known, and is still known to this day, as the De Havilland Law (California Labor Code Section 2855).

3. She won Best Actress Academy Awards for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949), and was also widely praised for her Academy Award–nominated performance in The Snake Pit (1948). This was one of the earliest films to attempt a realistic portrayal of mental illness, and de Havilland was lauded for her willingness to play a role that was completely devoid of glamor and that confronted such controversial subject matter.

4. De Havilland and Errol Flynn were known as one of Hollywood's most exciting on-screen couples, appearing in eight films together, but contrary to salacious rumours, were never linked romantically. De Havilland stated, "He never guessed I had a crush on him. And it didn't get better either. In fact, I read in something that he wrote that he was in love with me when we made The Charge of the Light Brigade the next year, in 1936. I was amazed to read that, for it never occurred to me that he was smitten with me, too, even though we did all those pictures together."

5. Of the two sisters, de Havilland was the first to become an actress; when Fontaine tried to follow her lead, their mother, who allegedly favored de Havilland, refused to let her use the family name. Subsequently, Fontaine was forced to invent a name, taking first Joan Burfield, and later Joan Fontaine. Biographer Charles Higham records that the sisters have always had an uneasy relationship, starting in early childhood when de Havilland would rip up the clothes Fontaine had to wear as hand-me-downs, forcing Fontaine to sew them back together. A large part of the resentment between the sisters allegedly stemmed from Fontaine's perception that de Havilland was their mother's favorite child.