March 9, 2013

Celebrity Sighting.

My cousin W., sent this photo out in an email, today.  How many do you recognize?

This is a promotional photo of many of the actors under contract with MGM at the studios 20th birthday party.

Here¹s who you¹re looking at:

1st Row: James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Lucille Ball, Hedy Lamarr, Katharine Hepburn, Louis B Mayer, Greer Garson, Irene Dunne, Susan Peters, Ginny Simms, Lionel Barrymore.

2nd Row: Harry James, Brian Donlevy, Red Skelton, Mickey Rooney, William Powell, Wallace Beery, Spencer Tracy, Walter Pidgeon, RobertTaylor, Pierre Aumont, Lewis Stone, Gene Kelly, Jackie Jenkins.

3rd Row: Tommy Dorsey, George Murphy, Jean Rogers, James Craig, Donna Reed, Van Johnson, Fay Bainter, Marsha Hunt, Ruth Hussey, Marjorie Main, Robert Benchley.

4th Row: Dame May Whitty, Reginald Owen, Keenan Wynn, Diana Lewis, Marilyn Maxwell, Esther Williams, Ann Richards, Marta Linden, Lee Bowman, Richard Carlson, Mary Astor.

5th Row: Blanche Ring, Sara Haden, Fay Holden, Bert Lahr, Frances Gifford, June Allyson, Richard Whorf, Frances Rafferty, Spring Byington, Connie Gilchrist, Gladys Cooper.

6th Row: Ben Blue, Chill Wills, Keye Luke, Barry Nelson, Desi Arnaz, Henry O¹Neill, Bob Crosby, Rags Ragland.

I'm sure you picked out a few.

I have many cousins, and W is a great guy, and a little zaney.  I frequently call him Crazy W.  He's a retired high school principal but his emails aren't up to high school standards.  We're Norwegian and W writes like an ol' Norsky.  I'm going to paste the rest of his email below, in case you want to read about growing up in SoCal in the 40's, 50's & 60's.


i was born n' raised in Culver City - the motto of which was "THE HEART OF SCREENLAND" = it was the home of MGM - RKO / SELZNICK - HAL ROACH - INCE studios...
and 20th Century Fox was in Cheviot Hills - about 5 miles away...

my Dad started working at MGM in 1937 - after he & my Mom moved out from Duluth, Minn...

he started there az a nite custodian - in the Thalberg Bldg = where Louis B. Mayer& the big-wigz had their offices...

in a couple of yrz he got a job in the Storeroom = it was like a hardware/stationary store for the ENTIRE studio...

in 1962 or 63 he got a job in the Sound Dept Storeroom ( a tad more $ ) - he retd in 1965...

i have the very nice gold Hamilton watch that MGM gave him - inscribed on the back...

whilst in hi-skool ... "we" ( a group of 6-8 budz & i ) would oft "hop the fence" on MGMz Lot 3 ... on a Fri or Sat nite... and "explore" ? climb in and around the various sets on that lot -- they included a HUGE "water tank" that contained a full-size Mississippi paddle-wheeler used in Gone With the Wind & other flix about the South... Andy Hardy Street where Rooney & Garland starred as kid-actors... a European village... sets for war movies... etc... annnnnnnnnnnd our REAL fun came when the MGM cop/s who "guarded" the lot would see us --- and CHASE US !!!
... we NEVER got caught tho' !!!

after hi-skool - i got a job az a laborer at MGM ... and worked there & other studios while going to college ( nites / days = depending on classes )... also summers when i was a teacher...

after MGM - i worked at Disney (my fav lot / studio) - Four Star - Republic - Paramount - Columbia - Sunset-Gower...

NOWWWW... THIS pic !! = tiz a klassik !!

from this era - to the mid-50z -- MGM had a "stable" of the TOP stars (incl singers) !!

during the summers of 1952 & 53 - i hung-out across the street from MGM's Thalberg Bldg / Main Gate to Lot 1 ... and got autografs of stars - directors - etc...

i have 2 autograf boox of them... including (17) of thoz in this pic !

i also went a few tymes down Washington Blvd to RKO/SELZNICK & got a few autografs there... i got Robert Mitchum there - twice...

my VEREE 1st autografs i got in 1944... from Frank Sinatra & Peter Lawford = my Mom & i had walked from our abode on Duquesne to "downtown" C.C. - to the Culver Bowling Alley... to watch the studio bowling leagues bowl on a Fri nite... annnnd ... in walked Sinatra & Lawford -- my Mom took a blank postcard out of her purse - gave it & a pencil to me... and said - "Go get their autografs !'.... i walked over & asked them... and they both signed the card ! -- i still have it !!

oft tymes U would see various 'stars' & 'character actors' shopping / hangin-out in downtown C.C. = ANNND even some of the midgets/dwarfs that had been in THE WIZARD OF OZ...

when we moved to Ojai in the mid-80z ... it was common to see 'stars' there... incl thoz who lived there ... 1 was June Allyson (who wuza all-tyme fav of mine )... annnd ... one of Lynnz bosses... ( a ped-dentist ) had bought June Allyson'z hubby's practice in Ventura... soooo... her boss & hiz wife would invite them to their annual Xmas party - annnnd they alwayz came ! -- soooo - i got to meet her & talk to her at a couple of parties & showed her the autograf she had signed for me in 1953 ... she luvd it !!!

working at the various studios i saw & even got to chat with a lot of stars over-the-years = what a GR8 experience that all was !!"

What do you think?
Thanks for stopping by and sharing my life with me,


  1. What a great piece of movie history. I love that photo! A wonderful part of family history and a fun read. Thanks Jan! Hubby's father's side of the family are Norwegians. A few generations back they came from the Telemark area of Norway.

  2. I enjoyed studying the photo and found I recognized about half of them, but not all the names would come to me!
    Your cousin is a kick!
    What a fun read ~


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