Sunday, August 30, 2009

Let Dracula Die

From our Catclaw Theatre Diaries blog:

There's a whole universe of horror out there, so why must Actors Theatre of Louisville keep trotting out Dracula again and again, year after year? That's the question JSH asks in this week's Suspension of Disbelief, and provides a list of suggestions for spooky shows that might be a lot more interesting than the played-out old Bram Stoker bloodsucker. Read it here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Appalachian Voodoo "Plankton" batt

New from Appalachian Voodoo Fibers!

Weight: 2.8 ounces. Contents: Merino, Alpaca, Firestar, Icicle, Angelina, Punta. Buy it here!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Magic Cloak of Oz

The Magic Cloak of Oz is a 1914 film directed by J. Farrell MacDonald, written and produced by L. Frank Baum, and co-produced by Louis F. Gottschalk. It's an adaptation of Baum's novel, Queen Zixi of Ix. The events of the film and the book take place in No-Land and Ix, two neighboring regions to the Land of Oz.

The music heard on this print is not the original score for the silent film, but rather is a hodgepodge of tunes taken from the 1902 Stage Musical of The Wizard of Oz. Those songs include "Just a Simple Girl From the Prairie", "The Traveler and the Pie", "My Little Maid of Oz", and "Phantom Patrol".

View: The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cornelia Froboess

Cornelia "Conny" Froboess is a German actress and singer, perhaps best known for her schlager-pop teen idol years. Her first hit record was in 1951, at the age of 8, with the song "Pack Die Badehose Ein" (Pack Your Swimsuit).

Her film acting career spans from the 1962 Jean Renoir film The Elusive Corporal to 1973's Crazy, Total Verr├╝ckt to Werner Fassbinder's Veronika Voss in 1982. On the stage, she played Ellida in Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea in 1990. In 2004 she played Mary Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and the title role in Bertolt Brecht and Margarete Steffin's Mother Courage and Her Children.

Here, we see two decidedly different sides of her, both taken from the 1959 German film Hula-Hopp, Conny.

View: Cornelia Froboess, "Diana" (1959)

View: Cornelia Froboess, "Mein Daddy" (1959)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Radio Theatre Gems

Since this week's installment of Suspension of Disbelief is revisiting this blog's posts on two 1960s attempts to revive the dying art of radio theatre - Theater Five and Black Mass - let's examine here some more dusty delights to download:

From 1970 to 1973, a syndicated radio show called The Devil and Mr. O repackaged old episodes of the 1930s/40s radio horror drama Lights Out, which can be heard here. From the archive-org entry's accompanying text:

Wyllis Cooper, who created, wrote, and produced it, was then a 36-year-old staffer in Chicago's NBC Studios. Cooper created his horror "by raiding the larder." For the purpose of Lights Out sound effects, people were what they ate. The sound of a butcher knife rending a piece of uncooked pork was, when accompanied by shrieks and screams, the essence of murder to a listener alone at midnight. Real bones were broken - spareribs snapped with a pipe wrench. Bacon in a frypan gave a vivid impression of a body just electrocuted. And the cannibalism effect was actually a zealous actor. Gurgling and smacking his lips as he slurped up a bowl of spaghetti. Cabbages sounded like human heads when chopped open with a cleaver, and carrots had the pleasant resonance of fingers being lopped off. Arch Oboler's celebrated tale of a man turned inside-out by a demonic fog was accomplished by soaking a rubber glove in water and stripping it off at the microphone while a berry basket was curshed at the same instant. The listener saw none of this. The listener saw carnage and death.

Dimension X was a short-lived but highly influential NBC radio program broadcast from April 8, 1950 to September 29, 1951. The first 13 episodes were broadcast live, which turned out to be a logistical nightmare, so the rest were pre-recorded. Later the television programs The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits would directly mimic this program.

An attempt was made to bring Dimension X back under the new name X Minus One, which ran from 1955 to 1958. Stories featured adaptations of cutting-edge Science Fiction writers like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl and Theodore Sturgeon.

Meanwhile, The Hall of Fantasy ran in 1953 on the Mutual Radio Network, mixing inventive new scripts with older tales from the likes of Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Allan Poe.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Bluebeard

Greta Nissen and Joseph Marievesky as Mr. and Mrs. Bluebeard in No Foolin' (Ziegfeld American Revue of 1926)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rich Hayes

Still trying to find out more about the frightening-looking Mr.Hayes, since this old postcard piqued our interest. The book Vaudeville From The Honky Tonks To The Palace makes a passing mention:

There was a guy called Rebla who had a jerky style of juggling three balls (before W. C. Fields). Rich Hayes, who worked for Rebla at one time, was a very funny man in his own right and a fine juggler.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kay Laurell

Kay Laurell, born in 1890. Appeared 96% nude in the Ziegfeld Follies as "September Morn" (photo above). Made a handful of films such as 1919's Valley of the Giants and 1921's Lonely Heart.

H.L. Mencken said she possessed "all the arts of the really first-rate harlot" and was "the most successful practitioner of her trade of her generation in New York." He stated, "Much of what I got from her, in fact, went into In Defense of Women".

(Photo below: Kay Laurell on the beach in Washington, D.C. circa 1922, accurately retro-colorized by Fredric Falcon on the wonderful photo site Shorpy.)



Despite the denial, apparently the incident was real, and it's unknown why she attempted the cover it up. She retired from showbiz in 1925, and died in 1927 of pneumonia.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Clean as a Whistle

A great striptease production number from the 1933 film Meet the Baron, which starred Jack Pearl, Jimmy Durante, Zasu Pitts, and the early Three Stooges when they still had the "Fourth Stooge" Ted Healy.

View: "Clean as a Whistle" from Meet the Baron (1933)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lotta Faust

Lotta Faust - surely that's not her real name! - was born in 1880 in Brooklyn, New York. She entered theatre at the age of 16, joining Denman Thompson's production of The Sunshine of Paradise Alley in 1896.

Her greatest fame came in 1904, in the role of Trixie Tryfle in the Broadway musical version of The Wizard of Oz. Her song "Sammy" was the biggest hit of the show, and like most of that production's libretto, it had little or not connection to the plot. Faust would break the Fourth Wall for the song, and pitch the love song directly to some (usually married) man in the audience each night, which was always good for laughs at the man's expense.

Her second biggest claim to fame was her scandalous scantily-clad Salome dance routine. According to Wikipedia:

During an interview she admitted to being unaware of the Biblical story of Salome. Her rendition of the Salome dance came from what she was told regarding the Wilde play. She said she felt as if she really were the 14-year-old Salome while she was dancing on stage. She experienced both the horror and fascination during her performances. For each appearance Faust danced as if she would never be able to repeat what she was doing. There were a number of other women who presented their versions of the Salome dance in the same era as Faust. Among these were Eva Tanguay, Vera Olcott, and Gertrude Hoffman.

Lotta died of pneumonia and complications following a surgery in January 1910, at a sanitarium on 33 East 33rd Street in New York City.