Posts Tagged ‘Bob Hope’

My Hometown Blogathon : Defiance, Ohio

Let’s Go to the Movies decided to host her very first blogathon and the rules weren’t too difficult to follow:  one could write about films set in one’s hometown, films made in one’s hometown, famous people in film who were born in your hometown, famous people in film who grew up in your hometown, and famous film folks who now live in your hometown.  My hometown has actually been featured in two films and a popular television show, so let’s delve into my hometown, Defiance, Ohio and find out what it’s connections to the entertainment industry are.

 

My Hometown Blogathon

In 1996 a family comedy film came to theatres, House Arrest, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollack.   It was written by Michael Hitchcock, who was  born in Defiance, Ohio but then moved to Western Springs, Illinois as a child.  He wrote House Arrest, setting the story in Defiance and named the characters after families he had known in Defiance.  I haven’t seen House Arrest but I recognized the surname Beindorf, which is the one of the families in the film’s last name.  Beindorf was the last name of the principal at Defiance Junior High School when I was a student there, 1977-1980. (At that time, our Junior High consisted of grades 7-9.)  Instead of  filming the scenes in Defiance, another Ohio city, Chagrin Falls, in the NE part of the state, was used as a stand-in.

Kids vs the Parents

Kids vs the Parents

Notice on Kevin Pollack's t shirt it says, "Defiance"! There is a college in the town so perhaps it was one of their t-shirts?

Notice on Kevin Pollack’s t shirt it says, “Defiance”! There is a college in my hometown,  so perhaps it was one of their t-shirts.

House Arrest is a cute movie, the premise is that four families are suddenly facing the fact that all of  their  marriages are on the rocks and  may end in divorce so the kids of these families somehow get their parents into the basement of the Beindorf family’s home, and lock them in there and tell their parents that they won’t be released until they agree to stop the various divorce proceedings.

Defiance, Ohio’s next brush with Hollywood came in of  April of 2001.   A book came out, The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio.  It was written by Terry Ryan, and it was the true story of how her mother entered many contests sponsored by advertisers in the 1950s and 1960s and won many of those contests.  She entered these contests  in order to find a way to keep an income coming into the home as she and her husband had 10 children to support and raise, and despite her husband, Kelly’s job, he often drank away much of his paychecks.    Many of these contests were jingle writing ones,  sponsored by advertisers of popular radio and television shows.   Mrs. Ryan, Evelyn,  used  her brains and  her strong writing skills,  and often won either money  or actual prizes  that she could sell for money to keep her family above water.  One contest was held by the local grocery store, Chief, and Evelyn  had to run through the store in a set amount of time  and load up her cart with free groceries-wish grocery stores had contests like that one today!   Terry had no idea how her book would be accepted by the readers of America but it did quite well, well enough for  screenwriter and director, Jane Anderson, to show interest in turning Terry’s book into a movie.

One of the movie's advertising posters

One of the movie’s advertising posters

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio with a picture of the Ryan Family on the cover

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio with a picture of the Ryan Family on the cover

My mom went to St. Mary’s Catholic School with Terry.  She said the Ryan kids were all really good kids, and yes, the town knew their dad had a drinking problem.  Their mother, Evelyn, was a nice lady.  Needless to say, when Terry’s book came out lots of folks in Defiance bought copies of it to read. When word got out that it was going to be made into a movie, lots of people were hoping it would actually be filmed in Defiance.  However, the favorable factor that filming in Canada would be cheaper to the studio won out and the movie was shot in various places in the province of Ontario!  Oh how disappointed the citizens of Defiance were, hoping for a movie to be filmed in their beloved town!  The stars of The Prizewinner of  Defiance, Ohio  are Julianne Moore, as Evelyn Ryan, Woody Harrelson as Kelly Ryan, and Laura Dern as Dortha Schaefer, a friend of Evelyn’s.  Terry Ryan and one of her sisters, , Betsy, make cameo appearances in the film.  Terry got to see the finished film but sadly passed away in 2007 from cancer.

My hometown, Defiance, Ohio has also appeared on the hit ABC television show, Scandal.   My dad is a huge fan of the show and during season 2’s run, he’d tell me how the  Defiance, Ohio voters were using illegally rigged touchscreen machines, and the unknowing citizens’ votes  gave the election to  President Fitgerald  Grant!  I had to laugh and laugh and laugh about this plot!  Out of curiosity, and thanks to our Roku box and Netflix, I began to watch Scandal, season 1 and then the infamous season 2 with it’s Defiance, Ohio storyline.  I laughed when I saw the high school(that’s  not what our high school looks like!), and the fact that the voting machines were stored in some utility building near a baseball field!   I still tease my Dad a bit about this “voting” scandal that highlighted my  hometown for a couple of months, on a fictional television show.

 

Scandal

My last bit of Hollywood fame for my hometown was that Bob Hope’s son  married a local girl there, at the church I grew up attending, to boot!   A young woman from Defiance, OH, Judith Richards, went to Wellesley College and after graduation, went to Harvard Law School and earned her law degree.  Sometime in the pursuit of her degrees, she met and fell in love with Bob Hope’s son, Anthony.  The Hope’s were Catholic and the wedding was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in December of 1967.   Defiance was all agog as celebrities descended to attend the wedding ceremony: Bing Crosby and his wife, Katherine, Liza Minelli, Toots Shor, and Phyllis Diller, to name a few.  Mrs. Crosby even went to one of the downtown’s local drugstores to purchase something and had no cash on her so she wrote a check, which the store proudly displayed for several years!

Settled in the flatlands of NW Ohio, a small city of 16,000 with tinier towns nestled around it, fields of corn or soybeans dotting the area during the Spring and Summer, a General Motors foundry town, Defiance, Ohio has done remarkably well in being tapped for Hollywood mediums of entertainment.

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What a Character Blogathon: Eric Blore

Why does a balding, short Englishman always make me chuckle in classic, comedic films?  Eric Blore, an excellent character actor,  usually portrayed kind yet fussy  butlers who  had a way with a smarmy, sarcastic answer that sailed  over the heads of the rude people asking him questions.   The audiences who viewed Blore in the movies were able to  catch his polite barbs, eye rolls,  and the laughs would  ensue.

Eric Blore, in his most common role, as butler.

Eric Blore, in his most common role, as butler.

When I learned of  the What a Character Blogathon being hosted Nov. 9th-11th by three great classic movie bloggers I had to sign up and participate.  Be sure to visit these sites for more great posts about wonderful character actresses and actors: Outspoken and Freckled, Once Upon a Screen,  and Paula’s Cinema Club.  Eric blore What a character

Blore was born in 1887 in England.  At the age of 18, he began a career as an insurance agent, but the acting bug bit when he had the opportunity to tour Australia and joined a theatre troup there.  WWI happened, and Blore enlisted with the Artists Rifles, commissioned to serve with the South Wales Borderers.  After the war was over, he toured England in several shows and musical revues.  In 1923 he sailed for the United States and successfully played character roles on Broadway.  In 1926 he appeared in the silent movie version of The Great Gatsby, which starred Warner Baxter.    His first movie role as the butler was  in the first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers teaming, 1933’s Flying Down to Rio.   Also in 1933,  Blore was cast as a butler in the Broadway production of The Gay Divorcee and he was asked to reprise that  same role in the movie version, which starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  From that role, Blore went on to appear in over 80 movies.  There were a few dramatic roles, 1937’s The Soldier and The Lady, and 1939’s Island of Lost Men, but on the whole, Blore played his characters in comedic films.  With his expressive face, excellent timing with lines, and his crisp, uppercrust English accent, he was the perfect butler in many comedies.  

Blore getting ready to sneer at some cad or oaf!

Blore getting ready to sneer at some cad or oaf!

After appearing in Flying Down to Rio and The Gay Divorcee, Blore went on to appear in 5 of the 9 Astaire and Rogers movies.  Two of his best apperances were in  Top Hat and Shall We Dance?, sparring verbally and bringing up the laughs with Edward Everett Horton.

Blore in a cast shot from The Gay Divorcee

Blore in a cast shot from The Gay Divorcee

Blore and his foil, Edward Everett Horton

Blore and his foil, Edward Everett Horton

In the 1940s, Blore again appeared as a butler, namely Jamison, the butler for Warren William’s character in the Lone Wolf mystery movies series, which was 11 movies in all.  Famed writer/director Preston Sturges tagged Blore to be in two of his comedic films, Sullivan’s Travels and The Lady Eve, both made in 1941.  In Sullivan’s Travels, Blore is Joel McCrea’s butler, but his role for Sturges’s in The Lady Eve is funny and different.  Blore is a conman, Pearly, working with a father/daughter team of conmen, Charles Coburn and Barbara Stanwyck.  They are teaming to outsmart and get money from Henry Fonda.  Blore pretends to be Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith and he is to try and convince Fonda that Stanwyck is a twin daughter, born from the lady of the manor’s dalliance with a coachman.  It’s a hilarious scene, and Turner Classics will be airing The Lady Eve on November 29th, at 8:00 pm/eastern, 7:00 pm /central.

As McCrea's butler in Sullivan's Travels

As McCrea’s butler in Sullivan’s Travels

With Stanwyck in The Lady Eve

With Stanwyck in The Lady Eve

Nearing his retirement from acting, Blore appeared in the second Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road movie, 1941’s  The Road to Zanzibar.    One more notable stint was in 1949, when Blore did  the voice of Mr. Toad for Walt Disney Studio’s animated classic The Wind in the Willows.  To end my post on Eric Blore, I’ll just share various pictures I found of him on the internet, and please visit his site at IMDB to see his filmography.

Blore near the end of his acting career

Blore near the end of his acting career

Another displeased butler look from Blore

Another displeased butler look from Blore

Blore's alter ego, Mr. Toad

Blore’s alter ego, Mr. Toad

Blore, with hair(!), in a movie scene with Leslie Howard

Blore, with hair(!), in a movie scene with Leslie Howard