Review of Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive + feature interview with Tom McLaren & featurette with Angela Cartwright – by Lorraine Dmitrovic

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Marilyn front cover (589x800)
– Now available in paperback on amazon.com –
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1683830067/ref=od_aui_detailpages01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

To preface, as related by Angela Cartwright on her website publications page:
“Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive is a stunning collection of never-before-seen continuity photographs, offering readers an intimate, candid look at Hollywood’s golden age and beyond.”

Review by Lorraine Dmitrovic. (Please note: This is an objective review of the book I purchased, and I did not receive compensation.)

FIVE STARS!

The moment is breathtaking and truly unforgettable. As the actress or actor steps onto the screen, they sparkle and shine, eclipsing and stealing thunder from the mountain range scenery or the salon backdrop. They transcend the set and have luminous, glorious presence. They certainly have “it” – and something else standout special – the “style” that ultimately made them stars.

The authors, actor Tom McLaren and actress-artisan Angela Cartwright, found the magic pulse for the book when searching through the Twentieth Century Fox archives. What emerged was the amazing star quality found in remarkably pristine continuity photos of a history of the studio dating back to the 1930s. Angela revealed in her introduction that many of the photos from the 1920s, and scripts and contracts, etc., however, had been thrown out in the 1970s when the studio was downsized. Thankfully, enough excellent original material survived so that Tom and Angela could preserve the wonder of a bygone film era in the book.

Angela also concluded that growing up in the studio life of Twentieth Century Fox was like “being plopped in the middle of a small city.” The lot had its hustle and bustle of various buildings and inner workings all with the common goal of producing the highest quality movie possible in talent and visual appeal.

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Angela Cartwright Sound of Music (1965) (574x800)
Photo: Angela Cartwright, Sound of Music (1965)

Tom and Angela have created a masterpiece collection of photos from the archives, a visual log of what went on behind the scenes in preparing a cast for filming, to make them “camera-ready” and ready to make movie history. Really, movie plot aside, what do people talk about when they exit the theatre? Not popcorn or soda, but the gown that had been poured onto Marilyn Monroe, or the dapper hat carried by dressed-to-the-nines Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember (1957). (Cary also graces the back cover in bathing trunks in a wardrobe test photo for the same film.)

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Cary Grant (580x800)
Photo: Cary Grant, An  Affair to Remember (1957)

In Hollywood’s heyday, studios took every aspect of filmmaking seriously. Everything on screen and behind it was as important as the acting. Actors and actresses were groomed to be stars in every sense of the word. Eye appeal was as much a key to success for a film as talent, the directing, the cinematography and settings. Actresses and actors had to stand out against already spectacular set designs and locations. And style was a major way to set them apart from the background. Call it star power, a spell of beauty, but it comes down to a lot of designer thought, planning and hard work to create “the style” of the stars in a film.

On set, on location, even at publicity events and award ceremonies, stars often relied on fashion/costume designers, hair stylists, make-up artists and wardrobe people for touch-ups and adjustments, to ensure everything was ready, perfect and in continuity for the camera to roll. Jewellery and hats, millinery, purses, shoes and accessories, all had to be organized and kept track of during the filming of scenes. Head to toe, the stylists, designers and jewellers, and all others involved the process, had the talent “covered” and turned out to magnificent perfection for the camera and the public, who often relied on Hollywood for the next big fashion trend.

Not a single detail was overlooked in what was required to pull a look together. No pennies were pinched; every expense was worth the glamorous or the gritty effect. The mink stole Marilyn Monroe wears in the cover photo – the image chosen by Angela Cartwright herself for the cover – is real. Quality in styling is evident in the flash of genuine diamonds, in the elegant lines of designer gowns, and in the cut and tailoring of suits. Authenticity and ingenuity in costumes encouraged audiences to admire the dazzle along with the story and step into a different dark world or a beautiful dream for the price of a theatre ticket.

Maureen O’Hara’s foreward mentions a “backroom deal” to own part of her contract that brought her to Twentieth Century to star in How Green Was My Valley (1941) with John Wayne, and Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She credits Darryl F. Zanuck’s mantra of “Time is money!” and his demand that stars be “camera ready” for their roles as being major reasons for success of the studio.

Insight Editions - STS -DONE Maureen O ' Hara , Do You Love Me 1946 (575x800)
Photo: Maureen O ‘ Hara in her foreward to Styling the Stars,  from her movie Do You Love Me (1946)

It was a “look the part and feel the part” thing, really. The right clothes, hair and make-up were as essential to a character as a well-made prop. Maureen wrote about her character Doris in Miracle on 34th Street: “Being camera ready allowed me to bring Doris Walker to life in a more textured way. If you don’t look right and feel right in the story it can pull you out of character and hurt your performance. When those elements came together as nicely as they did on Miracle, I was able to offer more about Doris through style and movement. It is very freeing when everything fits and works.”

Photos in the book encompass everything imaginable about “styling those stars” at many stages and places of the process, showing in grand detail what went into making the stars camera ready – indoors, outdoors, fitting rooms, during filming, with film information and the character most often chalked on a large board placard. Test photos and wardrobe continuity photos for future reference in later filmed scenes have turned out to be some of the most important photographs taken by Twentieth Century.

The sheer number and range of actors and actresses chosen by Tom and Angela is mind-boggling. Shirley Temple, whose films actually saved the studio from bankruptcy in the 1930s, is captured in her famous ringlets and costume photos from various films. John Carradine touches up pancake powder on his forehead between scenes of Drums Along the Mohawk (1939). You find out how tall Gregory Peck really was – a wardrobe assistant has to stand on a platform and a medium size case to adjust Peck’s tie while filming Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). Henry Fonda shaves his own stubble as a wardrobe person holds a small mirror during the filming of The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Tom Noonan is tested for the right pair of glasses for a role. David Hedison is photographed for The Fly (1958) in a lab coat and a black cloth totally covering his unhuman head. Patricia Neal in a prim collared dress holds giant Gort’s hand for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1961). Jane Russell looks every bit the cowpoke as Clark Gable does in a 2-page spread for The Tall Men (1955).

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Tyrone Power (800x800)Photo: Tyrone Power, The Mark of Zorro (1940)

Dean Martin made at least five costumes changes, two military uniforms and three suits for The Young Lions (1958). Victor Mature as Demetrius looks marvellously hunky for a marketplace scene in The Robe (1953) in lace-up boots, leather apron and rustic striped shirt. Barbara Stanwyck, Anne Bancroft, Louis Jordan, Rock Hudson, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford. Angela Cartwright’s sister Veronica, and yes, Billy Mumy too, Angela’s co-star from the 1960s sci-fi TV series Lost in Space. And more …. Suffice it to say that many, many stars – such as Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy – from some of the greatest films and TV productions ever made, made it into Tom and Angela’s book.

Insight Editions - STS - Candice Bergen - The Magus (1968) (581x800)
Photo: Candice Bergen, The Magus (1968)

Among the top costume designers, Edith Head had to work within a small budget on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and after designing and creating only one complete costume, Robert Redford’s ensemble was piece-mealed together from older costumes in the studio’s wardrobe department.

Other esteemed designers who also styled stars for Twentieth Century Fox include: Dorothy Jeakins (The Sound of Music), Rene Hubert for Music in the Air (1934), starring Gloria Swanson, William Travilla (who dressed Marilyn Monroe for 8 films), Charles Le Maire, Marie Wills, Renie Conley, and the Sorelle Fontana fashion house, Adele Palmer (who designed Veronica Cartwright’s gingham dress for In Love and War (1958); Veronica recalls eating gallons of “chicken soup all day” during the filming). M. Best, J. Lovis, R. Agnayan, Irene Sharaff and more ….

Insight Editions - STS - DONE The Sound of Music at tablePhoto: The Sound of Music (1965) Direction from Robert Wise and touch-ups at the table. Dorothy Jeakins, designer

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Marilyn Monroe lipstick touch up
Photo: Marilyn Monroe, brushing on a little lipstick, Let’s Make it Legal (1951)

The surprises keep on coming. Intriguing photos were included of Raquel Welch in a plaster cast mold so that a form-fitting costume for Fantastic Voyage (1966) could be designed. A section for The Valley of the Dolls (1967) featured ultra-mod “groovy” dress designs and some spectacular outlandish hairstyles (and simple does as well) – and a photo of a happy Judy Garland as Helen Lawson before she was replaced by Susan Hayward in the role.

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Rita Moreno as Tuptim (774x800)Photo: Rita Moreno, The King and I (1956)

Styling the Stars is a supremely rewarding journey through the best of the Twentieth Century Fox Archive. Every time you pick up the book, you find more to discover. The “lost treasures” in Tom and Angela’s book, now forever found, will stand as a sublime historical record of a studio. All the glory, all the enchanting flair, is relived on every page of Styling the Stars’ 304 pages. This review has only skimmed the surface of its photographic jewels. If a future expanded edition one day becomes available, it could only make this already great Hollywood style book even more perfect.

Insight Editions - DONE Tom McLaren portrait
Q & A feature interview with actor-author TOM McLAREN

Lorraine:
Maureen O’Hara, as a part of Fox’s studio system was a perfect choice to do the Foreward for your book. What do feel are the special qualities Miss O’Hara possessed when it came to the studio stylizing her enduring image?

TOM:
Maureen O’Hara had every quality a movie star needs, most certainly talent and beauty, but also a mesmerizing presence and dazzling uniqueness. Movie fans loved her combination of strength and femininity. Her Miracle on 34th Street (1947) will always be one of Fox’s true classics (my wife’s favorite film). We are very fortunate that Maureen kindly agreed to write the Foreword to the book. I was very touched to learn that she kept a copy of the hardcover edition on her own coffee table, next to her copy of a John Wayne book.

Lorraine:
What was most surprising to you about the stylist process discovered while doing research for the book? What were some incredible archival finds?

TOM:
It was interesting to see the level of detail and perfection that went into the taking of hair/makeup/wardrobe continuity photos. Even though the images were intended for internal studio use only, the photographers took the process very seriously. The quality of these vintage photos (taken by professional photographers using professional camera equipment) was simply stunning. Today, it’s all so quick and disposable; continuity photos are snapped on iphones usually by crew assistants.

So many incredible finds…seeing Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and Montgomery Clift smiling and having fun while taking their Young Lions photos was a highlight. I loved photos which revealed something about the actor’s personality: Paul Newman and Doris Day making faces, John Wayne and Rita Hayworth always with a cigarette in hand, etc. I treasured the never-before-seen rarities…actors who tested for the film but were not cast (Joan Collins in Cleopatra) or were replaced by other actors (Judy Garland in Valley of the Dolls).

Insight Editions - STS - DONE John Wayne (592x760)
Photo: John Wayne, North to Alaska (1960)

Lorraine:
If the space had been available, what stars and their films would you have also included?

TOM:
There are millions of images in the archive, so the list would be unlimited. There were so many choices from the golden age of Hollywood, we could have spent months, even years, going through those archival boxes. The book goes from Shirley Temple in the 1930s through Faye Dunaway in the 1970s, but it would have been fun to dig for more. Images shifted towards polaroids in the 1970s, which was a time of lower quality photography. We wanted this book to showcase pristine quality negatives only.

Lorraine:
Many of Hollywood’s legendary stars and future celebrities are found within the pages. At times with perhaps many photos available of a star, what were the criteria for choosing images? Were all the Fox archive photos already dated and described, or on occasion did you have to engage in some sleuthing to uncover all the facts?

TOM:
Our first choice was to showcase wardrobe photos with the chalkboard placard next to the actor (see back cover photo of Cary Grant) and hair/makeup photos with the note card or hair brush as the indicator (see front cover photo of Marilyn Monroe). If those images were not available, we would choose behind the scenes photos where the stars are being styled during the hair/makeup/wardrobe process. Both types of images are fascinating for so many reasons. It’s a candid moment of the star working on set. It’s a glimpse into the movie making process that so few get to see.

The archival boxes were a complete mystery…we didn’t know what was in them until we opened them! The individual images were not cataloged or categorized in any way. We would literally hold up the negatives to the light or place them on a light box in an attempt to see who it was and what they were doing. The A-list leading actors were of course easiest to spot. The other actors in the film required some sleuthing. Fortunately, I have one of those minds filled with movie trivia and actors’ names/faces/credits/etc, so most were easy to identify.

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Bing Crosby in dress from High Time (1960) (800x800)Photo: One of the mysteries unveiled, Bing Crosby as Harv in a gown and wig for High Time (1960). He was also wardrobe-tested in a men’s traditional casual outfit

Lorraine:
Many of the younger studio actresses went on to become established stars and later on became stars to new generations – finding audiences as well into the 21st century. Groomed-into-stars like Julie Newmar, Barbara Eden and Ann-Margret are living legends today. How do you feel knowing that your book contains the best of Hollywood, then and now?

TOM:
It was very important to me to represent both my parent’s generation and my own generation in the book. My parents had their favorite golden era movie stars and I grew up watching TV reruns of those classic films. But I also developed my own tastes for TV and film when I was a teenager, so I have my ‘next generation’ favorites, many of whom I first discovered on television like Barbara Eden, Robert Wagner and Julie Newmar. The inclusion of the film Myra Breckinridge in the book is a perfect example of one of my goals: Mae West from Old Hollywood and Raquel Welch and Farrah Fawcett from New Hollywood. Something for everyone!

Insight Editions - STS - DONE Ann-Margret (800x551)Photo:  Ann-Margret, The Pleasure Seekers (1964)

Lorraine:
Are there any personal favourites among the array of stars included?

TOM:
It’s a long list! My parent’s favorites are all in there, from Errol Flynn to Barbara Stanwyck. My wife’s favorites are included from Doris Day to Robert Redford. Ann-Margret has always been a favorite of mine, so she was at the top of my wishlist. The wardrobe shot of glamorous Ann-Margret in her iconic flamenco dress from The Pleasure Seekers (1964) , while standing in front of a barrage of technical equipment on a sound stage, is perhaps my favorite never-before-seen photo in the book. I’m also thrilled to include photos of my dear friends Susan Blakely and Lindsay Wagner. The softcover edition has one additional photo which the hardcover does not have: Lindsay Wagner from The Paper Chase (1973).

Lorraine:
Why did you choose to focus on the styling of stars from the Twentieth-Century Fox studio, as opposed to another studio? Although a number of stars in the book did work before, were loaned out during, or after, with other studios, what was the special appeal of the Twentieth Century roster for you?

TOM:
Angela had visited the Fox Archive looking for photos from her movie The Sound of Music (1965) for another book project of hers (The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook). The idea for Styling the Stars started there, when she realized all the Fox films had boxes of long forgotten images. The quality of these never-before-seen photos was the real hook. She called me on the phone and asked me to join her on this journey – I jumped at it immediately – and then we got the studio and our publisher Insight Editions on board.

Every major star from the 1930s through the 1970s did at least one Fox film. They may not have been Fox contract players, but loan outs and independent periods allowed the major movie stars to work at Fox at some point in their careers. We knew we’d find everyone from Humphrey Bogart to Bette Davis to Clark Gable. Fox film history is filled with treasures!

Insight Editions - STS - DONEJayne Mansfield hair tests for Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957) (400x571)
Photo: Jayne Mansfield, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

Lorraine:
How did you and Angela cross paths and how did that develop into a working relationship for writing Styling the Stars?

TOM:
Angela and I met about 20 years ago at a Lost in Space event. (I was, and still am, a huge Lost in Space fan.) At the time she was curator at a Los Angeles art gallery and she invited me to an exhibit opening. My wife and I became regular patrons at this beautiful gallery and over time we got to know Angela and her family. They are such great people. Angela is a part of movie history certainly, but I see her now as my friend Angela – a kind, interesting, and very dear friend.

She knew my background was in corporate business, and that I was a movie lover and memorabilia collector, so my project management skills and personal interests were well-suited to this book project. The combination of our creative strengths and interests made us a great duo. We worked arm in arm, through thick and thin. The book was definitely a two person project, very complex but extremely rewarding. Overall, I would say this was a dream project for me, and to have worked on it jointly with Angela made it truly a once in a lifetime book that I’m very proud of!

Insight Editions - DONE Tom and Angela at the Giddy's grand opening and their book-signing for STS

Tom: Catching up with photos from our recent book signing at the grand opening of Giddy in Scavenger’s Paradise in Burbank. Angela Cartwright and I had a great time signing our Insight Editions hardcover and softcover book Styling the Stars. Thank you to Alyssa from Giddy Vintage for hosting us. (Alyssa Lauren Gullion is the owner of Giddy Vintage.) Thank you to Jeanne from Cookie Jar Treats for providing the delicious sweet treats. It was wonderful seeing all the family, friends, and newcomers who came to support us.

Tom McLaren - Giddy cookies

Tom: The cookies were made by my sister-in-law Jeanne. She has a great food blog and goes under “cookiejartreats” in social media. She’s a great baker.

angela-cartwright for STS review
Q & A  featurette with actress-artisan ANGELA CARTWRIGHT

Lorraine:
You “grew up” knowing and being acquainted with many of the stars included in Styling the Stars. What might be a fond and meaningful memory for you of any actress or actor in the book?

ANGELA:
I have worked with many of the stars in the book… but working with Julie Andrews was indeed memorable. As kids we adored her from the moment we met her. She sang and joked with us between takes. It shows in the movie how enchanted we all were with her.

Lorraine:
Describe how you feel about the magic process of a “not made up” actress or actor going through the transformation of becoming “the star.” How you feel about all the unique and special styling of hair, make-up and wardrobe involved in creating the styled image? The actor into the character can result in a quite a different ‘night and day’ appearance.

ANGELA:
There is so much more to becoming a character than just learning lines and speaking in a voice to make it real. The costumes, makeup, appearance is all a part of it. Even accessories a character carries can aid in the audience accepting a character. It’s all a “secret dance” to have the audience not think about the actor but to accept that this person they are portraying is real.

More info:
View the Insights Edition trailer for Styling the Stars on You Tube:

Visit Tom McLaren’s website:
http://www.tom-mclaren.com/

Visit Angela Cartwright’s website:
http://www.angela-cartwright.com/

All review photos for Styling the Stars courtesy of Insight Editions

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That Damn Accordion !! & Peter and the Squirrel – Show 9 Ultimate Movies Broadcast

Co-host Mats Finnborn of Sweden introduces this month’s featured works on Show 9 of The Ultimate Movies Broadcast.

Larry Kosowan: Poems “The Pillar Candle,” and “Roads to Peace with Poems” and prose “Peter and the Squirrel.”

Lorraine Dmitrovic: “That Damn Accordion !!” a memory from her youth, Lorraine’s encounter with the accordion.

(Lorraine: “But now, in 2017, I love the accordion! Some things chase you for years and finally catch up with you. Take the ghost of my damn accordion. Last week, Larry Kosowan e-mailed me a photo of an accordion he found in a Toronto Humane Society thrift store for $30. Something awoke within me when I saw his photo.

Wednesday (April 26) last week I saw on Kijiji an accordion for $200 that resembled the one from my youth. Wednesday night I order the exact 3 books (still in print!) I used in my childhood lessons, and a music stand, from Amazon. The guy from Peterborough drops the accordion off at our house at 4:15pm on Thursday, saving us the trip and gas money to his place. The books and music stand from Amazon arrive Friday a little after noon. I’ve never received anything so quickly from Amazon. Later Friday afternoon I record myself playing the accordion for the first time in about 40 years – and tacked it onto That Damn Accordion !! to share how my experience with the accordion has come full circle.  It’s certainly a meant-to-be, regarding accordions. And you know, I think my paternal grandparents are smiling down from Heaven. I’m finally a  “good accordion playing girl” again! So – “Opa!”

Mike Pearl’s musical choices from You Tube are frequently posted on The Ultimate Movies Page – Silents to New Releases facebook page.

Join us on Twitter:
twitter.com/UltimateMovBCSh

-Creative & text, “The Pillar Candle,” and “Roads to Peace with Poems” and “Peter and the Squirrel” and Mat’s intro for his segment: Larry Kosowan

-Creative & text, That Damn Accordion !! and Mat’s intro for the segment: Lorraine Dmitrovic

-The Ultimate Broadcast Show theme and bridge music composed and performed by: Trevor Giampieri
-Sound editing/mixing: Lorraine Dmitrovic and Trevor Giampieri

The Movie Years, Trenton, Ontario: 1917-1934 – Peggy Dymond Leavey Interview

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show on YouTube –
Feature Interview:
Co-host Lorraine Dmitrovic speaks with Peggy Dymond Leavey about her book The Movie Years: Trenton, Ontario, 1917 – 1934. The movie studio in Trenton soon became regarded as “Hollywood North.” The studio’s first big production was The Great Shadow (1919), starring Tyrone Power Sr.

Headphones are recommended for optimum audio.

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show theme & bridge music:
Trevor Giampieri
Audio editing: Trevor Giampieri
Video editing: Lorraine Dmitrovic

All photos are used on a review basis.

The Hollywood Trivia Closet: First Celebrity & Movie Star Jobs – Part 2

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show on YouTube:
The Hollywood Trivia Closet – First Movie Star and Celebrity Jobs Part 2-Cary Grant & more

Welcome to this month’s edition of The Hollywood Trivia Closet, featuring celebrities and movie stars and their first jobs –
Loretta Young
Gary Cooper
Marlene Dietrich
Olivia de Havilland
Cary Grant

Text, video and audio editing: Lorraine Dmitrovic

The Hollywood Trivia Closet: First Celebrity & Movie Star Jobs – Part 1

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show on YouTube:
The Hollywood Trivia Closet – First Celeb and Movie Star Jobs Pt 1-Lucille Ball & more

Welcome to this month’s edition of The Hollywood Trivia Closet, featuring celebrities and movie stars and their first jobs – Phil Silvers, Jackie Gleason, Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, Gloria Swanson and Lucille Ball.

(Yes, that is Greta Garbo, not Laura Hope Crews, in a photo from Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) 1931.)

Text & video editing: Lorraine Dmitrovic
Audio editing: Trevor Giampieri

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show on YouTube – The Literary Prose and Poetry Corner: Shane Joseph and Lorraine Dmitrovic

 

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show on YouTube:
The Literary Prose and Poetry Corner Show 2 –
Shane Joseph and Lorraine Dmitrovic

Today on the Literary Prose and Poetry Corner we’re joined by Northumberland County, Ontario author, Shane Joseph. He’ll be reading an excerpt from his book “In the Shadow of the Conquistador,” released in October 2015. The excerpt is Copyright 2015, Shane Joseph. Now we’ll listen in as he reads from “In the Shadow of the Conquistador.”
For more info about Shane Joseph:
http://shanejoseph.com/

Lorraine Dmitrovic has reviewed film and music, and has been a fan of Shakespeare since public school. A former community newspaper and general interest magazine journalist, author and poet, Lorraine D, also co-hosts The Ultimate Movies Broadcast. A long time fan of the Bard, she’ll be reading her in-the-style-of Shakespeare poem “Strategy – The Swagger Dance of Politics.” Copyright 2002, Lorraine Chrystal Dmitrovic. We’ll join Lorraine now as she takes us back to battlefield politics, unchanged since days of yore.
For more info about Lorraine Dmitrovic:
http://empressbooks.com

Lorraine: Amazingly, a constable of ravens (also known as an unkindness, or conspiracy, of ravens) flew into our front yard while I was recording my poem. Office windows open, they began to “kraa” loudly among themselves – beginning on the second line of my poem and ending on the second last line. Ravens are known to frequent battlefields in the aftermath of war.

-Creative & text, intros and outro: Lorraine Dmitrovic
-The Ultimate Broadcast Show theme, intro and bridge music composed and performed by Trevor Giampieri. The Ultimate Broadcast Show theme, intro and bridge music Copyright © 2016 : Trevor Giampieri

-Video editing: Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Audio editing/mixing: Trevor Giampieri

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show now on YouTube: Interview – Peggy Dymond Leavey about Mary Pickford

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show now on YouTube:
Interview with author Peggy Dymond Leavey about silent film actress Mary Pickford. In this feature interview, journalist Lorraine Dmitrovic speaks with Peggy about the silent films era’s first superstar, Canadian-born Mary Pickford. Also discussed is Peggy’s book about the actress, “Mary Pickford – Canada’s Silent Siren, America’s Sweetheart.”

Join us on Twitter:
twitter.com/UltimateMovBCSh
and
https://www.facebook.com/theultimatemoviespagesilentstonewreleases/?ref=hl

-Creative & text: Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Theme and bridge music composed and performed by: Trevor Giampieri
-Sound editing/mixing: Trevor Giampieri

Legendary Composer William Perry – Creating the Score, Silent to Sound

wm_perry_cover

http://empressbooks.com/newsletter/Wm_Perry_2016/cover.html

Composer William Perry for many years has been a driving force in seeing silent films re-emerge as small screen and special venue entertainment.

His popular The Silent Years series (1971 and 1975) on PBS were hosted by Orson Welles and Lillian Gish.

In the 1980s, TV productions on American Playhouse and Great Performances featured actresses Lillian Gish and Butterfly McQueen, and actors Christopher Makepeace, Bernard Hughes and a young Christoph Waltz . In the film featuring Waltz in an early role, The Mysterious Stranger (1982), Perry conducted his own score with The Vienna Symphony and the Vienna Boys Choir in Austria. (The scores would be issued on Perry’s “The Innocents Abroad and other Mark Twain films” CD.)

As a composer of film scores and creator and producer of stage musicals such as the long-running Mr. Mark Twain (and which should soon see a revival on a smaller scale), Perry has and will continue to compose internationally themed major works for orchestra and soloists.

The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show: Mini-Show 7 – Literary Prose & Poetry Corner

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The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show 7 – Literary Prose & Poetry Corner

Mats Finnborn hosts Show 7 of The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show, featuring the new segment, The Literary Prose & Poetry Corner.

*Northumberland County, Ontario author Shane Joseph reads an excerpt from his book “In the Shadow of the Conquistador,” released in October 2015. Copyright © 2015: Shane Joseph.

*Cobourg, Ontario author Linda Hutsell-Manning reads from the opening chapter of her as-yet unpublished novel, “The Tangling of Years.” The excerpt is Copyright © 2016 : Linda Hutsell-Manning.

*Roseneath, Ontario journalist, author and poet Lorraine D (also co-host of The Ultimate Movies Broadcast Show) reads her in-the-style-of Shakespeare poem “Strategy – The Swagger Dance of Politics.” Copyright © 2002: Lorraine Chrystal Dmitrovic.

(Lorraine  D: Amazingly, a constable of ravens (also known as an unkindness, or conspiracy, of ravens) flew into our front yard while I was recording my poem. Office windows open, they began to kraa loudly among themselves – beginning on the second line of my poem and ending on the second last line. Ravens are known to frequent battlefields in the aftermath of war.)

Join us on Twitter:
twitter.com/UltimateMovBCSh

-Creative & text, intros and outro: Lorraine Dmitrovic
-The Ultimate Broadcast Show theme, intro and bridge music composed and performed by Trevor Giampieri. The Ultimate Broadcast Show theme, intro and bridge music Copyright © 2016 : Trevor Giampieri
-Sound editing/mixing: Trevor Giampieri & Lorraine Dmitrovic

Wallis Giunta – The Mezzo With the Magic

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Wallis Giunta – The Mezzo With the Magic
by L. Chrystal Dmitrovic


Wallis Giunta is one divine, vivacious redhead who seems to have found her perfect balance on the edge of an exciting whirlwind. As a young, talented singer who is self-admittedly wildly creative in her approaches to life and her music, with that kind of impetuous, enthusiastic to-the-enth focus, she has already made a few unique marks in her music world career – serious and otherwise. An operatic Mezzo Soprano known also for “pants roles,” she is equally at home as a chanteuse of moody torch songs. She’s a lady who can sing the blues with kindred soul, and the dramatic lieder with all adeptness, and she has maturity and sensitivity toward genre and song eras that reveal mastery and experience, suggesting that she has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time perfecting her singing art.

Since 2012, she has made an astonishing number of debuts with opera companies the world over, with return engagements fulfilled or in the wings, and as a devoted recitalist has performed in many North American festivals, and in concert and also in solo productions. A successful 2014 recital tour of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins to Miami, New York, Toronto and Ottawa, will, for example, see a revival with The Toronto Symphony in June, 2017.

Her voice dances with graceful aplomb to piano accompaniment or full orchestra. She has great command and ease of punctuation in any sung language, and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to going for high or low notes not usually in her range. She’ll expertly employ gesture according to the opera, and in recital has been seen to use gesture as she sees fit, or as the emotion of a song encourages it. Many an actor from the stage or film can admit that when the emotion of a line or lyric is genuinely felt, it suffuses the mind, body and the vocal – and likewise the musical entertainer finds that the spontaneity erupts in thrilling lyrical tones most effortlessly in time and tune to the twists and turns of the libretto.

I’m so pleased and honoured to now present a recent interview with Miss Giunta, “the Mezzo with the magic.”


wallis1-dario-acosta-1280x853Photo © 2015: Dario Acosta


LC: A love for music or art has a definite start point somewhere for everyone. How did it all begin for you, Wallis? Did you hear a pop song on the radio? Do you remember when you first heard an operatic song and discovered that you liked it?

Wallis: My parents got a Maria Callas recording when I was 6 or 7 years old (a Best-Of CD, I believe), and whenever they played it I would sing along and imitate her. I’m sure I was terrible, but I remember loving the feeling of singing in that way, and I guess I was hooked.

LC: While you were very young, did your family in any way encourage a love for music and song, and if so, how?

Wallis: Yes, my parents started me in piano at age five, which I kept up for 10 years, and they were wonderfully supportive of my decision to start singing seriously when I was about 8. I joined a choir then, and started private singing lessons soon after that. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay my mum for all the hours she spent driving me to my lessons, and nail-biting her way through my early singing competitions! My sister and brother are also musical, and it was awesome to have them to make music with when we were young. We had some pretty entertaining family sing-alongs on long car rides.

LC: Part of your formal training included studying under Canadian-born Edith Wiens, who had studied and performed in Germany, and who is now a faculty professor of voice at The Juilliard School. As an operatic singer of note, as one of your teachers and mentors also with the the Lindemann Program at the Met, what did she especially impart to you over the years about performance and being a singer, aside from technicalities? Are you still under her guidance today?

Wallis: I do still study with Edith, at every chance I get! What I love about our work together is that she addresses every aspect of the singer’s preparation, from language skills to intention, poise, vocal colour, and, of course, technique. Also, as someone who has had such an important performing career, she can draw on her personal experience to offer invaluable professional advice. Very few teachers are in a position to do that, actually, so I consider myself lucky. Edith’s greatest asset as a teacher, though, is her ability to inspire us students to be as genuine, unique and sincere as possible. She is not interested in the superficial presentation, but in a deep, connected artistry that comes from each singer’s place of inner beauty. She is very inspiring.

LC: The same year you graduated from the Lindemann Program and Juilliard’s Opera Studies, you, for example, made your Metropolitan Opera debut in Rigoletto, and in the roles of Sesto and Annio in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito with the Canadian Opera Company (COC). Your talent for rapid “runs” has been mentioned by a reviewer in regard to your performance in this opera Mozart’s CLEMENZA DI TITO. In a later video of you in recital you so clearly enjoy performing Sesto’s aria. To demonstrate such virtuosity in a debut is commendable.

Wallis: I absolutely love singing coloratura runs! My voice is naturally suited to that style, and I find it just the right kind of challenge for me – mastering the high flying demands of Handel, Vivaldi, Rossini, and to a degree, Mozart. I’m going to try and keep that style in my repertoire as long as I can.

LC: When and how did you discover that you were meant to be a mezzo, that it was your most comfortable range? Did you always want to be a mezzo, or was mezzo something that chose you and you realized that you had found your musical calling? Were you inspired to become a singer by any specific mezzo-soprano?

Wallis: I started as a soprano early on, and switched to mezzo at age 19. It was something suggested by my wonderful teacher in Toronto, Jean MacPhail. She heard one note out of my mouth, and had me switched to lower repertoire right away. I’m super comfortable in this range, and I know we made the right choice early on.

LC: A mezzo is often challenged with coloratura passages and spinto soprano ranges. When I read some reviews of your performances, at times I sensed that the reviewers wanted to put you in the soprano category. Lindsay Christians wrote about your “Una voce poco fa” in The Barber of Seville: “Her high notes soared; her embellishments sounded effortless.” Do you think one day that you might naturally move into the realm of a soprano?

Wallis: No, I don’t think so. Reviewers always hear their own thing, and that’s just fine – of course they are entitled to their subjective opinion. But I know what works for me, and I’m quite happy where I am.


wallis-8-dario-acosta-853x1280Photo © 2015: Dario Acosta


LC: Some reviewers have described your voice as having amber and chocolaty qualities, denoting richness. I must agree, your voice is absolutely gorgeous in mid-range, and also gives sensational thrills and delightful chills on high notes that are pure, unrestrained and in perfect pitch. Is this kind of versatility of the perceptions of your voice’s nature something you hope to expand in the future?

Wallis: Thank you! The lovely thing about being a singer is that our voices change constantly, all throughout our lives. Some days I wake up and feel like I’ve developed new colours overnight. I’m not going to try and actively cultivate anything, but I look forward to seeing where my voice goes with time.

LC: Do you sing other languages phonetically, or did you gain a working knowledge of a language first? You are very intuitive and expressive in German, French and Spanish. Your dramatic delivery of Schubert’s “Am Feierabend,” to put it plainly, is shockingly brilliant. Although the situation is from a more innocent time, that worker’s “party time” never came to his desired fruition, intensely hoping he would impress the milkmaid and be noticed by her. You so evocatively captured the worker’s multifaceted feelings when transposing from the English to the German. How does that process go for you, from your initial sight reading?

For the reader’s benefit, the English lyrics of Am Feierabend:
If only I had a thousand
arms to move!
I could loudly
drive the wheels!
I could blow
Through all the groves!
I could turn
All the stones!
If only the beautiful Millermaid
Would notice my faithful thoughts!
Ah, why is my arm so weak?
What I lift, what I carry,
What I cut, what I beat,
Every lad does it just as well as I do.
And there I sit in the great gathering,
In the quiet, cool hour of rest,
And the master speaks to us all:
Your work has pleased me;
And the lovely maiden says
“Good night” to everyone.

Wallis: I don’t speak German fluently (yet!), but I make sure to deeply acquaint myself with the translation of whatever I am singing, in German, or any language that’s not my mother tongue. I have to be able to tell the story to communicate effectively, which requires an understanding of what I’m saying. I usually translate first, and then learn the music with my phonetic understanding of the original text. It used to take a lot of time to learn a new song/aria, but I’m pretty quick about it now.

LC: You also recently stated that you are currently on a Strauss Lieder bent; what is it about those poetic songs that made you record Strauss’ first three opuses? Is this CD available yet? You mentioned you viewed contemporary German tenor Jonas Kaufman as your gold standard for the interpretation of the music. What is the specific appeal for you about Kaufman’s style and affinity for Strauss Lieder?

Wallis: I had the opportunity to record the Strauss with a pianist colleague of mine, Carson Becke, who is a Strauss scholar and Doctoral Candidate at Oxford. He is putting together three CDs of all of Strauss’s early works, and I was the lucky singer he chose to collaborate with on the vocal CD. And yes, our recording is available on iTunes! I love the passion with which Kauffman interprets everything he does, and I think he’s particularly suited to Strauss. Plus, as a German, he has an undeniable authenticity.


wallis-giunta-richard-strauss-lieder-cd

As related by Wallis about her latest CD release: Pianist Carson Becke and I have some very exciting news, with the iTunes release of our Richard Strauss Lieder album! It was recorded in 2014 at the Festival Pontiac Enchanté. We’re so grateful to Ulysses Arts for their help with the release and mastering!


LC: You’ve played the Cherubino “trousers” role on more than one occasion, in which you delightfully stir the pot of audience and critic reactions. Everyday Opera wrote: “Wallis Giunta in the famous Cherubino “pants role” more than nailed the overly comedic character. [She] let her full mezzo-soprano voice sing out, creating a wonderful performance within her “Non so più cosa son cosa faccio” aria in the first act. Between her hilarious over-the-top antics and the way she used a full, round sound, with strong initial phrase attacks in a seemingly effortless manner to deepen her voice, she was able to portray a believable, girl-crazy, young boy.” Was this as much fun for you as it was for the viewer and listener?

Wallis: Yes, it sure was! That production was really special to me, as it was in my hometown of Ottawa, and also on the same stage where I sang in my first ever opera, in the chorus of Madama Butterfly at age 15…which is about the age of Cherubino.

LC: About the 2012 production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro with the Fort Worth Opera, Theatre Jones, John Norine Jr. wrote: “One of the subplots…concerns the page, Cherubino sung by mezzo soprano Wallis Giunta. Highly physical, Giunta has to sing while on her back, under a couch, and almost every other position imaginable. Through all of this, she manages to maintain a beautiful tone and excellent diction.” Some might say this would be a miracle to accomplish, but in reality of course was the result of hard work. What kind of choreography and rehearsal do you go through to achieve such impeccable timing for comedy and song?

Wallis: It really varies; some productions come together in just a few days if they’re remounts, or it could be as long as 6-7 weeks for a new production. The average is about 3-4 weeks, and I think that’s what we had in Fort Worth. What makes it easier, though, is when you revisit a role for the second, third, fourth time, and you no longer have to think about the singing the same way. You can just explore the character!

LC: As Angelina in the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola at Oper Leipzig in 2016 your versatility in “Non più mesta” while so dramatic and melodically in the mezzo range, you were described in Opernnetz by Andreas H. Höscherby as achieving “the difficult coloratura and parlando sections with seemingly effortless ease.” Did you find that to be technically true for yourself as well for the wonderfully, incredibly beautiful “Naqui all’affanno” aria in Act II?

Wallis: I was really happy with my first Rossini role, in Leipzig this past season. While I am sure I can improve, and I definitely plan to, I think I’m quite well suited to this repertoire, which shows off the better aspects of my voice and technique. I’m grateful for the chance to sing Angelina again this season, for Opera North in the UK.


wallis_giunta-_cenerentolaIn performance, Wallis as Angelina costumed in the party dress. From the Leipzig Opera production of Cenerentola, March 17, 2016. (Photo © 2016: Kirsten Nijhof)


LC: Your voice and virtuosity, at least to me, very much call to mind Julia Hamari, the famous Hungarian mezzo who also played Angelina in La Cenerentola. Have you ever experienced or felt any kinship or similarities with her voice and repertoire? Or whom might you compare yourself vocally with present and historical singers?

Wallis: I have often been compared by others to Frederica von Stade, but I really feel a kinship with Teresa Berganza. I think it’s something about her temperament and passion that I identify with. She was so seductive through her perfect combination of restraint and abandon.


wallis_giunta_the-merry_widow
From left to right, Al Lewis, Daniel Mobbs, Wallis Giunta and Sir Thomas Allen, during a performance of The Merry Widow at The Metropolitan Opera on April 26, 2016. (Photo © 2016: Ken Howard)


LC: You were among the cast as Olga with Renee Fleming during your 2015 return to the Metropolitan Opera in their production of The Merry Widow. Any special moments or highlights to share?

Wallis: Well, I don’t know if it’s my place to spill the beans, but we started a little tradition of having a party in one of the dressing rooms after every performance. It began innocently enough, with one of the guys, who happened to have a mini-fridge in his dressing room, bringing in a few beers and some pretzels for us to share after the show. Then with each show the ante got upped, until by the end of it we were having wild potluck parties ‘til the wee hours, with the whole cast packed into a very warm little dressing room. The security staff were surprisingly tolerant. And luckily we had sufficient days between performances to recover …

LC: 2015 also saw you in roles in your first Wagner operas, Parsifal and Die Walküre, and also as Mercédès in Carmen at Oper Frankfurt. Was Wagner as dark and foreboding as its customary reputation or did you have a previous acquaintance with the treasure trove of his musical depths and impressions?


wallis_giunta_carmen

Wallis explains about this selfie, taken June 20, 2016: Today was my first day at Oper Frankfurt – I’m here to sing Mercédès in their incredible new production of #Carmen! Within 10 minutes of arriving at the theatre, I’d been whisked up to the costume department, stripped to my knickers and measured from head to toe for my costume. Of course, this is standard procedure for day one at a new opera company, but it’s still a pretty cheeky welcome. Hehehe … I love my job! (Photo © 2016: Wallis Giunta)


Wallis: I had only ever been an audience member for Wagner operas before last season – I never had sung it. I have to say, I like his operas even more from the stage than the audience! It’s incredible to be a part of that kind of music making.

LC: Listening to you sing “Il padre adorato” from Idomeneo by Mozart, your voice is full and rich seeming to naturally find those sweet spots in the hall. Equally bravura, is you in recital with Peter Dugan on piano in July 2015’s Music and Beyond Festival for Parto, Parto,” Sesto’s aria from La Clemenza di Tito also by Mozart. Generally, whether in the larger venue, or the smaller hall, what do you seek out first to take full advantage to accent a performance? Are there any other prerequisites like knowing the acoustics? Do you favour a particular talisman for good vibes – perhaps similar in practice to our Canadian Finance ministers wearing new shoes when delivering government budgets in parliament?

Wallis: I consider myself lucky to NOT have any superstitions or pre-requisites, actually, because if I ever was deprived of my needed ritual, I would not want to feel like I couldn’t go on without it! I do like to test out a space before I perform in it, and get enough water the day of, but otherwise, I’m pretty easy going.

LC: As with many singers, Handel’s Messiah is part of your repertoire. Is there any song in the oratorio that is especially significant or meaningful to you, and that you enjoy singing either solo or in chorus?

Wallis: I simply adore the chorus “All we like sheep”. I think it is brilliant and delightful, and it makes me happy to hear it. I always quietly sing along whenever I am on stage for that part.

LC: You are featured on the 2014 CD “Music for Great Films of the Silent Era, Vol. 2,” issued by NAXOS. What was the attraction for you to do the project?

Wallis: I got to know the composer, Bill Perry, in New York, and he offered me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful project! I love how he chose to tell the stories of these women and actresses from the silent film era, and to give them a new voice. I also loved the opportunity to record in Ireland, so that I could connect with my family there (I’m an Irish citizen as well!)

LC: Your sister has accompanied you in recital on acoustic guitar. How did that evolve? You must be fans of each others music.

Wallis: I do love my sister’s original music, and I have always loved making music WITH her. We have been singing together since we were little kids, in choirs, musicals, and around the campfire, and I will include her in my performances any chance I can get. She is a wonderful singer in her own right, but also an amazing guitar player, which comes in handy, as I am a terrible guitar player.

LC: Is there an operatic role, invented/borrowed from another musical genre, that you would like to perform if given the opportunity? You’ve mentioned The Who’s Quadrophenia as Pete Townsend’s masterpiece, and that you would love to take on Jimmy as a pants role. What is it about Quadrophenia that fascinates you, and are there any other contemporary original music albums/singles or stage plays/musicals you could envision as fresh, new operatic productions?

Wallis: I grew up listening to The Who, and Jimmy’s story just really touched a nerve for me when I was in high school. I think it would make a perfect opera, and a really cool bridge between the two genres. I also think it’s high time for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to be an opera. Viola really needs to be sung by a mezzo, and I volunteer.

LC: You’ve mentioned that John Lennon’s “Imagine” is a favourite song and that it restores balance to your life; you sing it a capella in recitals. What specifically makes it meaningful to you? The lyrics, the melody, Lennon’s calm delivery? Did it bring you comfort at some point in your life? It is a song that certainly restores faith and strength when you hear what is going on the world today at times. Is it also because you can “see” the peaceful world that Lennon envisions?

Wallis: It’s definitely the lyrics, but also the hopeful rise of the melody in the chorus. I feel like it’s pure and perfect, as a song. I really respect Lennon for what he stood for, what he sacrificed, and what he inspired in so may of us, and that song is his legacy.

LC: What are among your other favourite songs, no matter the musical genre? A personal favourite role, either operatic or musical entertainer? Do you have a favourite contemporary composer, and why? And do you especially like any historical composers whose operatic works you think should be staged more often?

Wallis: I really love alt-country, folk, bluegrass, and the music of Ray Lamontagne, Patty Griffin, Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris. I could name you hundreds of songs! There are too many. A favourite role would be Iago in Verdi’s Otello. My favourite contemporary composer would be John Adams, I think. He chooses such powerful subject matter, and his musical textures can be breathtaking. I am always looking for more Monteverdi to be performed. His work is utter brilliance, and so potent and applicable today!

LC: What role of any opera and/or in musical theatre has been the most fun to perform? What role likewise have you found to be the most challenging?

Wallis: I love to sing Britten most of all, and I think Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been a favourite. I found Annio in La Clemenza di Tito to be the most challenging, as it sits very high for me – and because he’s just such a good guy, he’s kind of hard to bring to life in a vivid way. It’s always easier to get into the more complicated and troubled characters.

LC: You have literally sung in recital, in various symphony concerts and opera productions worldwide the last number of years. It sounds like you maybe have spent quite a bit of time rehearsing and residing in hotel rooms, and travelling on planes, trains, buses and automobiles. Have you ever found yourself spontaneously breaking into song solo, or with coperformers in a company, while perhaps refining a passage or phrase or just shouting out for joy, much to the delight of a driver or airbound audience?

Wallis: I often have to sing in hotel rooms, and I am sure it is often not to the delight of my nearby neighbours. But I do love to sing and practice while riding my bike, and people always seem to get a kick out of that! There was one time I tried to perform on a flight to Tokyo with some choir members when I was younger, but the engines were so loud that no one could hear us. I guess it would only have worked if they’d put us on the loud-speaker. Maybe next time …

LC: What has your musical and operatic journey so far meant to you? What has it revealed to you about yourself and what you’re capable of. What did you discover about music and yourself that you didn’t know before? And, are you ready for the next “leap”?

Wallis: I am so fortunate for the career I have, and there’s not a day I take it for granted. I’ve discovered along the way how thick of a skin I have, but at the same time, how fragile I am. I have learned to be self-reliant, independent, to not compare myself to others, and to strive for my artistic truth. Yeah, I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for what life has in store for me.

Truly, Wallis is the Mezzo with the magic, traversing the world – perhaps waving from a mountaintop or posing in a resplendent gown on The Met stage – but always in a cascade of music and joy. She’ll soon appear as Dido in Opera Atelier’s production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto, running on selected days from October 22 to 29.

This feature interview and photos were excerpted from the article “Wallis Giunta – The Mezzo With the Magic” appearing in the Fall 2016 issue of The Empress

http://www.empressbooks.com/newsletter/Fall2016/cover.html
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