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

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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

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.


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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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The Hollywood Trivia Closet – Celebrity First Jobs! Part 2

Show 4 - Hollywood Trivia Closet-Celebrity first jobs-part2


Show 4 – The Ultimate Movies Broadcast The Hollywood Trivia Closet – Celebrity First Jobs part 2

First Jobs of Celebrities Part 2
by Lorraine Dmitrovic

Welcome to this month’s edition of The Hollywood Trivia Closet, featuring celebrities and their first jobs, Part 2.

It’s well-known that Loretta Young had an uncredited role as an Arab child in Rudolph Valentino’s silent film, The Sheik, in 1921. By that time she had already appeared in 4 other silents. In her second film at the age of 4, she received billing as Gretchen Young, her birth name, in Sirens of the Sea in 1917. Sadly, many of her films up to and including 1930, have been “lost.” Signed to a contract by the husband of actress Colleen Moore in 1927 for Naughty But Nice, for John McCormack Productions, she wasn’t billed as Loretta Young until 1928, when she played the role of The Girl in The Whip Woman. It was Colleen Moore who gave Young the name Loretta, after one of Moore’s favourite dolls.

Her two sisters at very young ages also went into film. But success in this case was tinged with sadness, as perhaps no Hollywood stardust would have settled on Loretta if her parents hadn’t separated and her mother moved her and her sisters to Hollywood.

Gary Cooper, born as Frank, worked on his family’s cattle ranch and was a full-time cowboy by the time he was 17. Talk about gaining experience for a future job. But before knocking on Hollywood’s door, while in high school Coop was encouraged to get into “dramatics” by a teacher, then took a left turn in 1922 when he enrolled in college to further his art studies. During school vacation months in 1922 and 1923 he worked as a tour guide, also driving the reno-ed open-top school bus, in Yellowstone National Park. By 1924, he left college and eventually returned to Helena to sell editorial cartoons to the local newspaper, The Independent. When his father moved the family to Los Angeles, Gary found short term work as a door-to-door salesman for a photographer, and then tried his hand at selling ad space on theatre curtains. When he went knocking on Hollywood’s door, the answer was to start his acting career as an extra and stunt rider. His first confirmed role was as an uncredited crowd extra in Dick Turpin in 1925. The same year he appeared uncredited as a masked Cossack in the Rudolph Valentino silent, The Eagle. Yup, that’s right, look for the tallest Cossack. Soon working his way up in screen time, and receiving over 1,000 fan letters a week, he began playing roles in many important silent films like Lilac Time with Colleen Moore in 1928 (which actually did have synchronized music and sound effects). He made his breakthrough as a major star when his first talkie, The Virginian, was released in 1929.

As a young child Marlene Dietrich studied the violin and as a teenager became interested in theater and poetry. She once dreamed of being a concert violinist, but an injury to her wrist resigned her to a first job in 1922 as a pit orchestra fiddler, accompanying silent films in a Berlin cinema. She was fired four weeks later.

Her earliest professional Berlin stage appearances were as a chorus girl on tour with Guido Thielscher’s vaudeville-style Girl-Kabarett, and in Rudolf Nelson revues. Later In 1922 she didn’t pass an audition to become a serious actress for theatrical director and impresario Max Reinhardt’s drama academy, but was offered work in his theatres as a chorus girl and playing small roles in dramas. Hard work led to her film debut, a bit part in The Little Napoleon (1923).

She met future husband Rudolf Sieber on set of another film made that year, Tragödie der Liebe, and they married in a Berlin civil ceremony on May 17.1923. Her only child, Maria Elisabeth Sieber, was born in December, 1924.

Dietrich continued to work on stage and film in Berlin and also Vienna and by the late 1920s, she was playing more sizable parts in feature films like Café Elektric (1927).

1930 brought Marlene her breakthrough starring role in The Blue Angel. With its international success, and prompted by director Josef von Sternberg who was already established in Hollywood, she arrived in the United States securely under contract to Paramount Pictures. A star was born. The studio knew that Dietrich was the perfect Germanic answer to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s exotic Swedish star, Greta Garbo.

Olivia de Havilland  early learned to appreciate the arts. Ballet lessons at age 4, piano lessons at 5. She could read before the age of 6, and her drama-music-elocution mother also had Olivia reciting Shakespeare to perfect her diction.

While participating in school plays and the drama club, Olivia planned to be an English and speech teacher and attended Notre Dame Convent. In 1933 de Havilland made her amateur theatre debut in Alice in Wonderland. But her stepfather, unfortunately didn’t approve of her acting, and forbade her from continuing. After finding out that she would play the lead of Elizabeth in a school fund-raiser production of Pride and Prejudice, he gave her an ultimatum: to either quit acting or leave home. Olivia chose her future – leaving home forever and moving in with a friend of the family.

After high school, her life was continually full of choices. She was offered a scholarship to Mills College in Oakland to further her education to become an English teacher. The role of Puck also came up for her in the Saratoga Community Theater production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As fate would have it, Austrian director Max Reinhardt was in California to stage a major production of the play to premiere at the Hollywood Bowl. One of Reinhardt’s assistants happened to see Olivia performing with the Saratoga company, and he offered her the position of second understudy of the Hermia role. Olivia accepted.

Then, one week before the Reinhardt premiere, understudy Jean Rouverol and lead actress Gloria Stuart left, with only de Havilland available to play Hermia. Impressed with her performance at the premiere, Reinhardt offered her the part in the upcoming four-week autumn tour. During that run, Reinhardt was confirmed to direct the Warner Bros. film version of his stage play, and he then offered Olivia the Hermia role in the film. She hesitated, still tempted by a teaching career, but signed a five-year contract with Warner Bros. in late 1934 at $200 a week. Soon after, this Errol Flynn fellow would rise to super stardom with her in their numerous films together, the first being Captain Blood in 1935. Olivia’s most famous film role, of course, will likely always be considered to be Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939).

Cary Grant, born with the lovable name Archibald Leach, was taught song and dance at age 4 by his mother, who also felt piano lessons were in order. He and his mother also enjoyed going to the cinema, where he discovered Chaplin and other pre-talkie film greats. But by age 6, feeling neglected by both parents, Archie found friendship and a sense of family with a group of acrobatic dancers known as the Bob Pender Stage Troupe. He learning to stilt-walk, and was also at times thrown around like a prop by the acrobats during acts in their shows.

Some sources state that in March 1911, Archie accompanied the troupe to NY, performed a few weeks there, and soon toured the US. After a few months, the show lost money and appeal, he returned to England in September. For a number of years while back in school, he attended comedy shows on Saturdays in London. In January 1914 his father took him to see Fanny Brice in the revue Hello, Ragtime at the Prince’s Theatre.

In 1918 he apparently rejoined Pender’s Troupe to now dance, perform as a juggler and be an acrobat as well, and he also acted in pantomime. In the biography Cary Grant, Dark Angel, by Geoffrey Wansell, he recalled, “I grew to appreciate the fine art of pantomime. No dialogue was used in our act and each day, on a bare stage, we learned not only dancing, tumbling and stilt-walking, but also how to convey a mood or a meaning without words.” He learned to approach comedy as art ,and that every audience was different. In another bio, Cary Grant: A Class Apart. London: Fourth Estate, by Graham McCann, he stated, “Doing stand-up comedy is extremely difficult. Your timing has to change from show to show and from town to town. We used to do matinees, supper shows and late shows… the response would change from night to night and from town to town. People in Wilkesbarre and folks in Wilmington didn’t laugh at the same things”.

Archie then worked for a time in 1922 in vaudeville, and by the summer had also formed his own group, The Walking Stanleys with several former members of the Pender Troupe. Then, after meeting the owner of Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park racecourse at a party, he was hired to be colourfully outfitted and wear a sandwich board to advertise the racetracktrack. He enjoyed watching the Marx Brothers perform there, billed as the “Greatest Comedy Act in Show Business, Barring None.” Zeppo Marx became an early role model.

In 1923 The Walking Stanleys” toured the US, with another tour of the mid West in 1924 and also in Canada. By 1925 the exhausted group split up, and he returned to New York. Archie resided and performed at the National Vaudeville Artists Club on West 46th Street, juggling, doing acrobatics and comic sketches, and for a while he became a unicycle rider known as Rubber Legs. His comedic talent and timing improved, and he became aware of the importance of teamwork, skills all preparing him for Hollywood stardom. About these other aspects of timing as a performer, he once said, “I learned to time laughs. When to talk into an audience’s laughter. When not to wait for a laugh. In all sorts of theatres, of all sizes, playing to all sorts of people, timing laughs that changed at every single performance.”

A first big acting role on stage, as an Australian, came along in 1927 in Hammerstein’s musical, Golden Dawn. The show lasted 184 performances, with reviews referring to him as a “pleasant new juvenile” and “competent young newcomer”. In 1928, he joined the William Morris Agency, and after one failed play, Hammerstein’s arch-rival Florenz Ziegfeld made an attempt to buy out Archie’s contract – but Hammerstein sold him instead to the Shubert Brothers.

This is when things get really interesting. J. Shubert cast him in a small role as a Spaniard opposite Jeanette MacDonald in the French risqué comedy production of Boom-Boom at the Casino Theatre on Broadway, which premiered January 28, 1929. Co-star MacDonald later admitted that Archie was “absolutely terrible in the role”, but had the ability to charm an audience, which ultimately saved the show. Through the 72 shows in NY, Archie earned an amazing $350 a week. Boom Boom’s newfound success attracted screen tests for him and MacDonald by Paramount Publix Pictures at New York’s Astoria Studios, resulting in MacDonald starting her career in film being cast opposite Maurice Chevalier in The Love Parade (1929). Sadly, it was not yet Archie’s time. He was flat out rejected, basically because of his physical appearance – a too thick neck and bow-legs. Kind of unbelievable, isn’t it? Maybe those who had the power with the magic wand to declare someone an actor on that occasion should have blinked twice and opened their eyes to the talent and handsome appeal of star material Archie standing before them.

He continued on the stage until February 1930, when he was fired by the Shuberts after he refused to accept a paycut along with the rest of the company during the Depression.

He fortunately soon found work again as a romantic lead soldier named Cary Lockwood in post-World I France in the musical, Nikki, co-starring opposite actress Fay Wray. The production premiered in September 1931 in New York, but folded after 39 performances due to the Depression.

But all was not as it seemed or all lost. Archie had been praised in the soldier role by Ed Sullivan of The New York Daily News, who noted that the “young lad from England” would have “a big future in the movies”. It was Sullivan’s timely review that clinched a new screen test at Paramount Publix.

Archie met with Jesse Lasky and B. P. Schulberg of Paramount Pictures and a successful screen-test for him was directed by Marion Gering, whom Archie later worked with in Devil and the Deep and Madame Butterfly in 1932. He signed a five year contract, starting at $450 a week. Still known as Archie at that time, Schulberg suggested a name change to “something that sounded more all-American, like Gary Cooper”. While having dinner with Fay Wray one evening, she suggested to Archie to choose “Cary Lockwood”, the name of his character in their play, Nikki. Schulberg approved of “Cary,” giving the newly-named Cary a list of possible surnames compiled by Paramount’s publicity department. He chose “Grant”, which Schulberg liked.

And so, Archibald Leach made his official debut as Cary Grant in This is the Night (1932) as an Olympic javelin thrower opposite Thelma Todd as his wife and Lili Damita as his love interest.

Another early highlight, he played a wealthy playboy opposite Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s Blonde Venus. He would make 11 other films from 1932 to 1933. One elevated him toward true star status – 1933’s She Done Him Wrong, for which Mae West had specifically requested Cary play the male lead. West later claimed that she had discovered him. A huge box office success, She Done Him Wrong featured Mae’s signature line, “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” Grant was quickly signed to Mae’s next film, also in 1933, I’m No Angel, and he was given a pay raise to $750 a week. The second film, even more successful than She Done Him Wrong, saved the studio from bankruptcy. For handsome, versatile Grant now, the starry sky was the limit.

Listen for more First Celebrity Jobs segments on upcoming Ultimate Movie Broadcast Shows.

Copyright © June 2016: Lorraine Dmitrovic