Hollywood 1930's

Bela and Boris Episode 3: Boris and the Monsters by Karina Longworth

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After twenty years as a journeyman actor/laborer, Boris Karloff became an instant superstar as the Monster in Frankenstein (1931). Today we’ll explore how Karloff, unlike Lugosi, managed to maintain a steady stardom throughout the decades, returning to the monster that made him without feeling trapped by the character. Featuring Patton Oswalt as Boris Karloff.

Jack P. Pierce preps Boris Karloff's hair and makeup for  Frankenstein , 1931

Jack P. Pierce preps Boris Karloff's hair and makeup for Frankenstein, 1931

Boris Karloff,  The Mummy , 1932

Boris Karloff, The Mummy, 1932

Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff in the  Bride of Frankenstein , 1935

Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff in the Bride of Frankenstein, 1935

SHOW NOTES:  

Sources: 

The Moguls: Hollywood's Merchants of Myth by Norman J. Zierold

The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lennig

Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

A History of Horror by Wheeler Winston Dixon

Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931–1946, 2nd Ed. By Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and Tom Brunas

Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the 1930s by Christopher Workman and Troy Howarth

City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures by Bernard F. Dick

Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror by Michael Mallory

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood by Shelley Stamp

“Scare ‘Em To Death -- and Cash In” by Richard G. Hubler. Saturday Evening Post, May 23, 1942

"'The Screen's Number One and Number Two Bogeymen': The Critical Reception of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the 1930s and 1940s." by Mark Jancovich and Shane Brown. From Cult Film Stardom: Offbeat Attractions and Processes of Cultification

Music:

All of the music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, is from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. Outro song: “Monster” by Kanye West.  Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode: "Waltz for Cello 1" by Jonatan Järpehag, "Stalker" by Gunnar Johnsén, "Surfing Ghouls" by Håkan Eriksson, "Vampires Suck" by John Björk, "Undead Orchestra" by Håkan Eriksson, "Psychological Drama 4" by Magnus Ringblom, "Quirky Orchestra 5" by Josef Habib, "Clumsy Detective 02" by Thomas Lundgren, "Clumsy Detective 01" by Thomas Lundgren, "Russian Dance Off" by Håkan Eriksson, "Kingdom Of Baghk" by Vusal Zeinalov, "Menuetto And Storm" by Franz Waxman and Kenneth Alwyn from Bride of Frankenstein (1935), "The Tower Explodes and Finale" by Franz Waxman and Kenneth Alwyn from Bride of Frankenstein (1935), "Baltic Waltz" by Håkan Eriksson, "Victoria's Vintage Pearls 2" by Peter Sandberg, "Gagool" by Kevin MacLeod, "Mystery Minute 9" by Anders Ekengren.

Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by the Great Courses Plus and Blue Apron.

Credits:

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Special thanks to Patton Oswalt who guest stars as Boris Karloff. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Boris Karloff in  Frankenstein 1970 , 1958

Boris Karloff in Frankenstein 1970, 1958

Jean Harlow (Dead Blondes Flashback) by Karina Longworth

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Jean Harlow was the top blonde of the 1930s, and even though she didn’t survive the decade -- she died in 1937 at the age of 26 -- she’d inspire a generation of would-be platinum-haired bombshell stars. Today we revisit our 2015 episode on Harlow, to set the stage for the relentless forward march of Dead Blondes through the Twentieth Century.

This episode originally debuted in October 2015. The original show notes for this episode can be found here

Thelma Todd (Dead Blondes Episode 2) by Karina Longworth

Thelma Todd, c. 1930s 

Thelma Todd, c. 1930s 

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Thelma Todd -- a curvaceous white-blonde who predated Jean Harlow -- was a sparkling comedienne who began in the silent era and flourished in the talkies, both holding her own opposite the Marx Brothers and playing straight woman in one of cinema’s first all-girl comedy teams. She was also an early celebrity entrepreneur, opening a hopping restaurant/bar with her name above the door. But today, Thelma is best remembered for her shocking 1935 death, which was deemed an accident but still sparks conspiracy theories that it was really murder.

Thelma Todd and Buster Keaton in Speak Easily (1932) 

Thelma Todd and Buster Keaton in Speak Easily (1932) 

Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café, c. 1930's, Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Public Library Images  

Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café, c. 1930's, Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Public Library Images  

Show notes:

Sources specific to this episode:

With so much misinformation and speculation surrounding Todd’s death, it seemed ultra-important to approach my research for this episode with a critical eye. I ended up using as my main source William Donati’s The Life and Death of Thelma Todd. I was previously a fan of Donati’s biography of Ida Lupino, and his book on Todd seems to me to be the most objective analysis of the facts, with the least amount of speculation and hysteria. As noted in the episode, his informed ability to knock down the Lucky Luciano theory is particularly useful.

Garage where Thelma Todd Died, 1935, Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library Images 

Garage where Thelma Todd Died, 1935, Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library Images 

Other sources include:

A Blog For Thelma Todd includes many photos, scanned articles, links and information about Todd and theories about her death.

“Murder Of `30s Starlet Thelma Todd No Longer Mystery” by Frank Sanello, Chicago Tribune, May 05, 1991

“A Mystery Revisited, A building that figured in the unsolved death of actress Thelma Todd is for sale” by Robert W. Welkos, Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2002

“A Blonde in Babylon: The Death of Thelma Todd” by Benjamin Welton, Crime Magazine, Feb 10, 2014

Gloria Vanderbilt’s books The Rainbow Comes and the Rainbow Goes and It Seemed Important at the Time contain the most substantial observations of Pat DeCicco and his reputation that I’ve found. My understanding of DeCicco relationship to and work for Howard Hughes stems from my research for my book, particularly depositions and testimony given by DeCicco himself and his cousin, Albert Cubby Broccoli, in 1978 and 1983 as part of the long-running legal battles to determine control of Hughes’ estate. These documents were observed by me in the Texas State Archives in Austin.

Outro song: “She’s Not Dead” by The London Suede

Credits: 

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

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