Thursday, September 23, 2021

Requiescat in Pace - Jane Powell

 A memory of Jane Powell in a simple, elegant, long-sleeve gown with a bateau neckline at what must have been some televised awards show (how many years ago?), and especially comments made by some reviewers in effect that she outshone all the younger female entertainers.  It was true.  It was not a patronizing tribute to her representing a fond remembrance of Old Hollywood, like a treasured fossil we take down from the shelf and pay homage to that they don't make them like that anymore -- rather, it was the honest acknowledgement that this lady displayed class and that class is timeless.

I remember feeling proud of her, with that sense of ownership old movie buffs generally have for Old Hollywood.

One would suspect, however, that her elegance and her class on this evening was not effortless; a troubled childhood and difficult apprenticeship in the film industry -- a career she never wanted -- she revealed in her autobiography, The Girl Next Door and How She Grew.  

An interesting quality Jane Powell had, however, was that she was able to observe that world like a fly on the wall and inspect it for what it was, holding herself apart.  Her diffidence might have given her that quality, but her impressions, feeling as she did like an outsider looking in, give us a view of the studio system that we don't find in other memoirs. It's also interesting that Jane Powell finally found personal peace and happiness with another child actor with conflicting feelings on his film career, and first met Dick "Dickie" Moore when he was writing his own book: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Don't Have Sex or Take the Car.

She eventually accepted her role as an alum of that rare world, and took it in good grace, as evidenced in her appearances in film industry events, and especially taking over the host position on TCM in 2011 when Robert Osborne was on medical leave. She had a long career on film, television, and the stage, and if being the girl next door in her early movies was such a small part of her life, she seemed resigned to allowing us to cherish it, even if it did not mean quite so much to her.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

In remembrance... 9/11/01

The blog goes dark this week in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of our nation's sorrow on September 11, 2001.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Hollywood Stars and the Search for a Polio Vaccine

Hollywood public service shorts on behalf of the March of Dimes and the search for a polio vaccine remind us of a world where a deadly and extremely communicable virus was everybody's fight and patriotic Americans did their part.  

The March of Dimes was founded in 1938, as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was incorporated, launched by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  President Roosevelt, himself a victim of polio, was the nation's personification of the struggle against the mysterious virus.  After President Roosevelt's death, his image replaced the old Mercury Head Dime and became the Roosevelt Dime because of the March of Dimes and the fight against polio.  That fight still had almost another decade to find a solution. It found it in a vaccine.  The success of the field trials were announced on April 12, 1955 - the tenth anniversary of his death.  All of this, to a radical right fascist, might seem political.

Though there were plenty of detractors and outright enemies on the radical right against Roosevelt for his progressive programs, the fight against polio was not seen as political.  Polio was scary.

It also took more than one vaccine to vanquish.  The Salk vaccine was a two-injection process; the second shot was given three months after the first shot.  Then an additional booster shot some seven months later.

In 1961, the oral vaccine developed by Dr. Albert Sabin was available, and even those who had received the earlier Salk injection still took the Sabin oral vaccine.  Polio was that scary, people today who complain about the COVID vaccine and requiring boosters simply have no idea what they are talking about.

You were given a card on which to jot down the dates you received your shot:

Sound familiar?  The difference between then and now is now we have allowed the most ignorant and immature and irresponsible people in our society a louder voice and far more power than they deserve.

Polio still has no cure.  It is a virus that can be contained only by preventing it from spreading.  Since 1979 no polio cases have originated in the United States, a couple of decades from the discovery of the first vaccine, and four decades from the founding of the March of Dimes by the nation's most famous polio victim.

Hollywood pitched in and did its part.

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland from 1938:

Robert Young and his family from 1951:

Cecil B. DeMille:

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and their kids from 1954:


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Happy 93rd Birthday, Ann Blyth!

Happy 93rd Birthday to the wonderful Ann Blyth!   

For a bit of a departure, here's an episode of Burke's Law from 1964 now on YouTube.   From my book Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

"She made two appearances on the whimsical detective series Burke’s Law starring Gene Barry. Both are fun and utterly goofy sides of sweet little Ann Blyth that should make any future critic dispense with typecasting her in their reviews.

In the “Who Killed Andy Zygmunt?” episode broadcast March 13, 1964, which satirizes the world of modern art and pokes fun at avant garde artists—one such artist has been murdered—Ann plays another beatnik style artist whose specialty is spray painting her live models with different colors and having them roll around on a canvas spread on the floor.  She is a suspect in the murder, and replies to the investigator, “Hey, man, can’t you see I’m busy working here? wouldn’t have buzzed Toulouse-Lautrec when he was fast sketching the lovely Jane Avril?”  She grins at the detective, “Your perceptivity just knocks me out, soldier.”

We learn she is a junkie, hooked on previously prescribed painkillers.  To keep herself supplied, she forges doctors’ signatures on prescription cards. The victim knew this and was blackmailing her.  However, Ann is not the only suspect, and collection of similar kooks includes Aldo Ray as a dog groomer, Macdonald Carey, Jack Weston, and Tab Hunter all as free-spirited weirdoes who could have murdered the dead man.  Gene Barry, star of the show, will tell us who did it after the last commercial."


For more on Ann Blyth's career on stage and screen, television and radio, have a look at 
my book on Ann's career -- Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.

eBook edition (Amazon)

print edition available at Amazon and also my Etsy shop.

Also available in eBook at:

For more on my other books and plays, please see my website:  

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Requiescat in Pace - Jane Withers

Jane Withers, who passed away at 95 years old on August 7th, was one of Hollywood's greats, who deserves more recognition.  She began as a child of prodigious talent, and grew to be a lovely and generous lady.  She performed on radio, film, stage, and her commercials as "Josephine the Plumber" for Comet cleanser turned out to be one of the longest-running characters on television.  

Her gift for mimicry was splendid, such that during the post-production of Disney's animated feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) when Mary Wickes passed away, Jane stepped in and finished the role of Laverne the gargoyle, mimicking Mary Wickes' voice and reprising the role in the sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002).

We covered Jane Withers' work here in Paddy O'Day (1935) and Bright Eyes (1934).  She and actress Ann Blyth were devoted friends.  Jane appeared on an episode of This is Your Life in 1959 that paid tribute to Ann, and Ann appeared on an A&E episode of Biography that paid tribute to Jane Withers in 2003. 

From my essay on Paddy O'Day, we leave this image of Jane Withers' gift for friendship, her kindliness, and her loyalty to a newcomer on that movie, Rita Hayworth:

"Rita, 16 years old, was nervous on the set, more terrified than the immigrant she was playing. Jane, nine years old, but already a veteran and the star of the movie, felt protective of her.  Before the cameras rolled, Jane held Rita’s hand and said a prayer to comfort her. 

Decades later, in 1987, when Rita Hayworth died, Jane was asked to deliver the eulogy at her funeral.  She repeated on that occasion the prayer she said while holding Rita’s hand on the set of Paddy O’Day:
“Lord, this is Rita and she’s afraid… Please be with her because she’s special.”

Jane Withers is pretty special too."

May she be remembered for her many, many special gifts.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Veronica Lake sells shoes - Screen Guide March 1942

This ad from Screen Guide, March 1942, is a typical marvel of Hollywood merchandizing.  A photo of Veronica Lake is pasted in the corner of a two-page spread ad for shoes.  The caption indicates she can currently be seen in the movie Sullivan's Travels (which we covered here).  

The shoes have nothing to do with the movie, and neither Veronica Lake nor the movie have anything to do with the shoe company or its products.  But there is an unabashed eye candy element to both.  The stars were used in print ads to sell everything from toothpaste to chocolates, and keeping their names and faces in front of the public as often as possible was good for the studios.  

I would doubt any modern celebrity's image could inspire as much brand loyalty as these deft and casual appearances stars made plopped into the corner of a 1940s movie magazine ad.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Podcast - Discussing THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES


A few months ago I had the pleasure of talking about one of my favorite movies -- The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) with Paul Francis Sullivan, a.k.a "Sully" for the Movies by Minutes podcast series.  "The Best Minutes Podcast" covers the movie in several increments with different hosts and different guests, each examining a slice of that movie.

Sully and I had two episodes together and it was really one of most enjoyable experiences for me.  As classic film fans, we know how wonderful it is to meet people who not only share our passion for these movies, but who can discuss them with knowledge and insight.  Sully knows the film well, and he knows about the era in which it was produced, so our conversation was a blast from beginning to end.

Divided into two podcast episodes recently posted, here is a link to the first one (Minute 146 - Al Here?)

and the second one, (Minute 129 - I'm Quite Fond of You, Too).

I hope you enjoy listening to them half as much as I did doing the interview.


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Bing Crosby & Paul Robeson sing "Ballad for Americans"

 For Independence Day, Bing Crosby and Paul Robeson both give us the "Ballad for Americans" from 1940.  Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Canada Carries On - Proudly She Marches - 1944

For Canada Day today, which celebrates the 1867 founding of the Canadian Confederation, we have a view of Canada's women service personnel during World War II in this National Film Board newsreel Canada Carries On, an episode called "Proudly She Marches" (1944).

It shows the varied duties and training of the women in Canada's different uniformed services, where ex-salesgirls, librarians, teachers, and students helped win the war.  It took everybody to get the job done.

Happy Canada Day to our neighbors to the north, and thank you to a generation of ladies who kept fascism off our continent. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Link to my Zoom talk on BESIDE THE STILL WATERS

Here is a link to my recorded Zoom talk  earlier this month on the historical background of my novel Beside the Still Waters  for the Holyoke Public Library of Holyoke, Massachusetts, for those of you who were unable to join us.

The novel, a family saga, is about the four towns that were demolished to create the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts in the 1920s and 1930s.  The story is about community and the loss of community, and how our hometowns make up a big part of our family heritage and our personal identities.  Photos and map images accompany the talk. 

Here's the link:

Author Talk-Beside the Still Waters - Zoom

I hope you enjoy it.   For more of my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Kobo, and a variety of other online shops, please see my website here:

Thanks for reading...


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Norman Lloyd - Requiescat in pace

Norman Lloyd, who recently left us, was an actor of skill, intelligence, with an astounding resilience that gave him a life of 106 years and a career over 90 years.  He was well known to classic film fans, not only for his indelible presence in such films as Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942), with that iconic scene of him dangling off the Statue of Liberty, but for his jovial  and spirited appearances at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

His energy, his interest in his craft and in the world, not to say his longevity, made him the delight of younger fans and earned him the admiration and fame that character actors perhaps did not enjoy when he was a young man in Hollywood in the 1930s.

What I particularly admire about him is his range of work that extended to theatre, movies, television, radio, and even spoken records.  He produced and directed as well as acted, and was connected with some of the best productions and the finest talent in his industry, from his early work with the Federal Theatre Project, to Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre, and he seemed to connect again and again with actors like himself who floated effortlessly between stage and screen.  One such person he worked with on different occasions and was friends with for decades was Dorothy McGuire.  He first met her when they were in summer stock together in 1937.  He once said of her: “She was an actress of great instinct and she trusted her instinct."

“If you think of the performances [in movies] like Gentleman’s Agreement, Dark at the Top of the Stairs and Friendly Persuasion, what you got was almost a definitive American woman: With her look, her manner, her breeding, she represented the best in what we would conjure up as a perfect American woman.”

Though there are several movies I could use to illustrate Mr. Lloyd's career, I'd like to instead highlight one of his last important starring roles, that of Dr. Auschlander on the television program St. Elsewhere, which ran for some six seasons in the 1980s.  Though he was in his late sixties into his early seventies at the time of the run of this show, he was nowhere near to retiring.  Neither was his guest star on a three-episode arc from 1986:  Dorothy McGuire.

Broadcast in January and February, the three episodes deal with Miss McGuire as the matriarch of a Massachusetts political family who is undergoing a cardiac procedure.  In the first episode, Mr. Lloyd's character, a physician and administrator of the Boston hospital, is resentful of the attention she is commanding from the hospital administration, mainly because her politician husband denied him an important state appointment because Dr. Auschlander is a Jew.  

Two particular scenes between them are a gift to classic film fans.  First, when he confronts her with his disgust and she responds with the knowing sadness of her husband's bigotry, and the second is when she leaves her hospital room and visits his office, giving him the large certificate announcing he has at last been given this prestigious appointment. She has pulled some strings on his behalf.  In turn, he gives her a painting of a lighthouse done by his wife that he hopes will remind her of her beloved home on Cape Cod.   As she enters his office, he is playing a record of the opera La traviata, which she recognizes.  It is a favorite of hers, and she asks to remain to listen with him.

They each sit quietly in chairs opposite each other, he perusing the certificate she has given him, and she admiring the painting in her arms.  The camera pulls back above them, so we look down upon them, both reaching a blissful moment of contentment late in their lives -- but not too late.

That perhaps is the theme of Mr. Lloyd's later years.  It was never too late.


An Appreciation of Dorothy McGuire in the words of Director Norman Lloyd (-


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Thursday, June 3, 2021



Zoom presentation on BESIDE THE STILL WATERS: Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 7 p.m. (ET)

I'll be discussing the historical background of my novel about the four towns that were demolished to create the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. The story is about community and how the loss of community affects our family heritage and our personal identities. Photos and maps will be part of the presentation hosted by the Holyoke Public Library, Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Please email for the link to join us. See you there!

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