Films, Books, Musings-With the Glamour of Old Hollywood and the Flair of the Retro

Gene Tierney- A Hollywood Profile.

In Movie Stars on July 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm


“Wealth, beauty, and fame are transient. When those are gone, little is left except the need to be useful.”

Date of Birth
19 November 1920, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA

Date of Death
6 November 1991, Houston, Texas, USA (Cause: Emphysema)

Birth Name
Gene Eliza Tierney

Facts and Trivia

She came from a privileged upbringing, went to a private school in Switzerland and spoke French, but her father was domineering, ‘overly strict’ and against her desires to become an actress. He took hold of her income when she started her career, upon her first marriage she found that he spent her entire savings when he suffered financial problems.

She was discovered while on a tour of Warner Bros and later when her father allowed, was signed by Darryl F. Zanuck from Twentieth Century Fox. She negotiated her salary and made sure her contract allowed her control over her teeth and hair- she didn’t want her appearance tampered with. Her first film was The Return of Frank James starring Henry Fonda, which was a hit, but Tierney’s performance was not well received by critics. Harvard Lampoon named her as “The Worst Female Discovery” of 1940.

She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her part as Ellen Brent in Leave Her to Heaven (1945). She lost the award to Joan Crawford for her role in Mildred Pierce, but the nomination greatly helped her career.

Upon seeing herself on screen for the first time, she was embarrassed by her voice complaining she “sounded like an angry Minnie Mouse”. She began smoking to lower her voice, but this later resulted in her contracting the fatal emphysema that caused her death.

She was linked romantically with Howard Hughes, John F. Kennedy (pre-presidency), Tyrone Power and Prince Aly Khan. She was married twice, first to Oleg Cassini (1941-1952) and then to Howard Lee, in 1960 until his death in 1981.He had previously been married to Hedy Lamarr.

She had two daughters with Cassini, Daria and Christina. Daria was born deaf, partially blind and mentally retarded because Gene had contracted Rubella during her one appearance at the Hollywood Canteen. Later a female officer confessed to Gene in person that she had broken her quarantine just to see Gene because she was such a fan.

She suffered from severe depression and bi-polar disorder, which caused bouts of confusion and suicidal tendencies for which she was hospitalised and administered with shock treatment. She said Humphrey Bogart could tell she was mentally unstable because he recognised the signs from his own sister. He helped her on the set of The Left Hand of God (1955) and encouraged her to get help.

She spent her retirement from full time acting from 1964 as a ‘housewife’ in Huston, Texas. She enjoyed this lifestyle with her husband, Howard Lee until his death, which resulted in her deep grief.

What to watch (my top recommendations)

Heaven can wait 1943
Laura 1944
Leave her to Heaven 1945
Dragonwyck 1946
The Ghost and Mrs Muir 1946
The Razor’s Edge 1946
The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1947)

Also check out the A&E biography Gene Tierney- a Shattered Portrait. 1999


Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman- A Book Review

In Books on June 27, 2013 at 10:15 am


When Alice Hoffman was diagnosed with cancer she had two young children and an ailing mother. One of her novels, Practical Magic was being made into a movie and another Here on Earth had been selected as part of Oprah’s Book Club- it seems cancer doesn’t care how busy, important or famous you are. So when Alice turned to books for advice on how to cope she ended up writing one herself- a letter to herself and a tribute to all survivors who have loved and lost.

” I wrote to remind myself that in the darkest hour the roses still bloom, the stars still come out at night. And to remind myself that, despite everything that was happening to me, there were still choices I could make.”

Survival Lessons is a guidebook for all of us -not just the ones suffering from a illness, trauma or loss, but also the ones slogging through a daily life that lacks contentment or joy. A lot of us are in a ‘survival mode’ that serves merely as a modus operandi for making it from one day to to the next, putting out one fire and looking out for the next. The simple pleasures of life are pushed aside for something more important.

Each chapter in Survival Lessons offers a choice- a chance to focus on yourself for a bit, to discover your needs and wants. You can Choose to Enjoy Yourself, Choose Whose Advice you Take, Choose to Be Yourself.

Survival Lessons is ideal for a quick, light read that anyone- even the most stressed- can find the time for, to read all at once and return to again and again. It’s simplicity is it’s greatest benefit, allowing the reader to use the book as an inspiration for your own meditations on what makes you happy-what brings you peace or joy, and what is healing to your soul- leading you beyond mere ‘survival’ to ‘truly living’.

Find out more about Survival Lessons at Algonquin Books and find out more about Alice Hoffman at her website

The Erma Bombeck Collection- A Book Review

In Books on June 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm


This collection contains 3 books, all ‘ peeping through the kitchen window’ accounts of
domestic life written in Bombeck’s usual droll yet heartfelt style.

If you want to see what I though of If Life is a Bowl of Cherries Why Am I Always in the Pits, look at my post here

In Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, Erma shows the ‘reality’ of Motherhood and sympathises with the aghast mother who has found parenting is not as easy as it looks to the child-free outsider. Learn from Erma valuable skills she has developed as a harried mum, such as;
Creative Nagging 101,Perfection: How to get it and how to convince your children you’ve got it. threats and promises and guilt the gift that keeps on giving.
But along with Bombeck’s usual wry style the heart message is clear,
“It is not until you become a mother that your judgement slowly turns to compassion and understanding.”

The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank reveals what life in the newly built and ever expanding suburbs is really like. The quest for a spot of lawn and a house with all the mod-cons in a kid-safe cul-de-sac has never been as truthful or as funny. Erma knows exactly what is like to have your husband wonder what you did all day, she has experienced the long wait for the reluctant repairman and knows firsthand how home improvement and decorating can cramp cash flow.

Find out more about this, and other ebooks by Erma Bombeck at Open Road Media

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