lauren bacall


Casting Scarlett O’Hara

gone with the wind

After the novel Gone with the Wind was published in 1936, the search for the right actress to play Scarlett in the MGM film adaptation had begun. 1,400 actresses were interviewed for the part and 400 were asked to do readings. In contrast, the public and the studio were unanimous about who should play the leading man, Rhett Butler. That was Clark Gable.

scarlett ohara gone with the wind

Just a few of the actresses considered: First colomn to last: Paulette Goddard, Tallulah Bankhead, Lana Turner, Lucille Ball, Joan Bennett, Katherine Hepburn, Olivia de Hallivand, Norma Shearer, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford

In Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography Me: Stories of my Life, she says that she was considered a back up option for Scarlett if they couldn’t find a better fit. George Cukor was hired as the director (and later fired) and he had worked with Katharine on A Bill of Divorcement and Little Women (later they would make The Philadelphia Story together). He thought she wasn’t the right type of girl and so they kept searching. Of course, in the end the two serious contenders are said to have been Paulette Goddard and Vivien Leigh.

Vivien Leigh was unknown in America but David Selznick, the producer, was impressed with what he had seen of her. Yet he considered her “too British” for the role. Vivien got a second chance to impress when she met Selznick through Laurence Olivier. He discovered that just like Scarlett, Vivien was half Irish and half French. They had found their Scarlett. Vivien Leigh went on to win an Oscar for her performance.

vivien leigh scarlett o'hara

Katharine Hepburn and the monkey

katharine hepburn monkey

I love the stories of strange publicity stunts in early Hollywood. Greta Garbo was shoved into a lion’s cage and Katharine Hepburn was handed a monkey to carry around for a few days. In the early 1930s, the studio RKO was planning on having Ms. Hepburn star in a film adaptation of the novel Three Came Unarmed. The book was about three people who had grown up in the jungle of Borneo who are transported to the English seaside. Naturally, Katharine had to show the press she was a friend of all exotic creatures and born to play the part. The film never went into production but at least the strange moment was captured on camera. According to the caption in the image below, the “charming little gibbon” was a “notorious woman-hater”. Oh dear…

katharine hepburn monkey

The daughter of a suffragette and a misogynist monkey were never going to be a match made in heaven.

Greta Garbo and Jackie the MGM Lion

I saw this picture in a book I’m reading, Walking With Garbo. This was just one of the many photo shoots she had to do for MGM when she was starting out in Hollywood. Apparently on this one she made a bee line for the bathroom and had to be “thrust into the cage”. Poor girl.

greta garbo mgm lion

Nice kitty, good kitty…

This is the same lion with a trainer.

jackie mgm lion

He’s just playing!

I am never getting that close to a lion.

Hollywood Actresses on…Marriage

elizabeth taylor and richard burton

A strange thing is happening. I appear to be growing up. All of a sudden I’m thinking about the future. All the big life choices, all the roads I could possibly take. When I was a teenager I couldn’t think past the next weekend and now I’m thinking about where I’d like to be a decade from now! Marriage is something that I never thought I would partake in. I’m from a divorced family so I know that love is what keeps people together, not marriage. However, I do feel happy for other people who want to make it official and I think planning the wedding itself must be very exciting. 

In Old Hollywood actors and actress had a reputation for marrying several times over. I was shocked to discover that Jean Harlow had been married three times in her short 26 years of life! These people aren’t the best source of advice on marriage but perhaps we can learn from their mistakes. Sometimes amusing, sometimes romantic, but mostly tragic, here are some quotes from famous actresses:

Brought up to respect the conventions, love had to end in marriage. I’m afraid it did.
Bette Davis

An affair now and then is good for a marriage. It adds spice, stops it from getting boring… I ought to know.
Bette Davis

If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.
Katharine Hepburn

You don’t have to be married to have a good friend as your partner for life.
Greta Garbo

If I get married, I want to be very married.
Audrey Hepburn

Marriage is a great institution.
Elizabeth Taylor

Sometimes when I visit my sister and her two children, I wonder if she missed a lot by getting married. Right now, nothing could be further from my mind than getting married.
Natalie Wood

When I get married it will be for keeps.
Natalie Wood

Before marriage, a girl has to make love to a man to hold him. After marriage, she has to hold him to make love to him.
Marilyn Monroe

Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.
Mae West

I suffered, I really suffered, with all three of my husbands. And I tried damn hard with all three, starting each marriage certain that it was going to last until the end of my life. Yet none of them lasted more than a year or two.
Ava Gardner

Perhaps my problem in marriage-and it is the problem of many women-was to want both intimacy and independence. It is a difficult line to walk, yet both needs are important to a marriage.
Hedy Lamarr

Never again! I can see no reason for marriage – ever at all. I’ve had it. Three times is enough.
– Ingrid Bergman

All quotes are from

Shameless Garbo Fangirl Post

If I were still a teenage girl I would make a make a Garbo shrine. It would sit next to my David Bowie and Blondie pictures in my old bedroom and look awesome. Unfortunately the phase has passed when I used to cut pictures of beautiful stars out and pin them to a corkboard (we have Pinterest now anyway) so I’ll dedicate a blog post to her.

Who’s your favourite classic Hollywood star?

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

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greta garbo

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greta garbo

Adrian – Costume Designer

After enjoying the fashion in Grand Hotel I was curious about the designer behind the costumes. It turns out a rather prolific designer made the gowns in that film. He was known simply as Adrian and born in 1903. He started out at the New York School for Fine and Applied Arts and later went to study at the Paris campus of his college. There he was asked by Irving Berlin to design costumes for Berlin’s Music Box Revue.

Adrian got his first break in Hollywood after being hired by Rudolph Valentino’s wife to design costumes for The Sainted Devil in 1924 (a lost film).

rudolph valentino costume adrian

In 1928 he moved from Paramount to MGM, where he stayed for the rest of his career, designing costumes for over 200 films. He made costumes for many of Greta Garbo’s films including Queen Christina, Anna Christie and Anna Karenina.

greta garbo anna christie

Do a Google Image Search for Joan Crawford and you’ll be flooded with pictures of her in floor-length gowns. Pick any one and chances are Adrian designed it since he made costumes for 28 of her films. She was a stunning model…

joan crawford

joan crawford adrian


He also dressed Jean Harlow in the sexy bias-cut wonders she was famous for.

jean harlow adrian

Katharine Hepburn’s gown in The Philadelphia Story is also an Adrian creation.

katharine hepburn adrian

But his most famous costumes are undoubtedly those in The Wizard of Oz!

wizard of oz adrian

wizard of oz ruby slippers adrian