Tag Archives: actress

Jarmila Novotná: Singer, Actress, Icon, Ambassador

“Glamorous yet sensitive, Novotná believed and proved that any kind of
music, any kind of art, can bring people together for the common good:
to resist tyranny, to celebrate freedom, to heal and to nurture.”
—Joyce DiDonato, Grammy Award winning mezzo-soprano

A legendary beauty, hailed as one of the greatest si9780813176116nging actors of her time, Jarmila Novotná (1907–1994) was an internationally known opera soprano from the former Czechoslovakia. She began her opera career as a teenage soprano and debuted at the National Theater in 1925. After leaving her homeland, she began performing all across Europe and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Best known for her performances in Der Rosenkavalier, The Marriage of Figaro, and La Traviata, including over 200 performances at the Met, Novotná was an accomplished singer. Jarmila Novotná: My Life in Song offers Novotná’s perception of these great achievements, as well as with her ventures into modeling, theater, film, television, and radio. She continually defied the “sex siren” role that everyone from Franz Lehár to Louis B. Mayer wanted her to play. From the beginning of her career, she ignored the fascination that adoring men had for her uncommon beauty, choosing to embody her artistry in a variety of forms, including notable films like The Bartered Bride (1932), Frasquita (1934), and The Search (1948), which won her critical acclaim for her performance as a mother in search of her young son. She also used her fame to dame her a national heroine among the Czech people, serving as a cultural ambassador.

Editor William V. Madison brings Novotná‘s own English-language version of Jarmila Novotná: My Life in Song to readers for the first time. Throughout the memoir, Novotná shares stories of those she worked, her experience in the “unending party” that is Hollywood. She attended parties hosted by Mayer, co-founder of MGM Studios, who repeatedly offered her a movie contract. Novotná also offers profiles on the notable artistic figures who surrounded her, including singer Bing Crosby, Montgomery Clift,  composer Cole Porter, and conductor Arturo Toscanini, as well as dignitaries like Dwight Eisenhower and Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia.

Lavishly illustrated with photos from her personal collection, her memoir not only recounts her remarkable life and career, but also shares stories of her interactions with other artistic luminaires whom she worked with in a variety of settings. She also witnessed and recorded her thoughts on the birth of an independent Czechoslovakia, the country’s takeover by the Nazis, and its fall to the Soviets. With a foreword by late opera critic Brian Kellow, the autobiography sheds light on the fascinating life of one of the greatest opera singers of the twentieth century.

An event celebrating the exclusive English-language release of her best-selling memoir will be held at 7 pm Wednesday, October 10 at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City. William V. Madison will speak at the celebration, which will also feature Novotná’s granddaughter, violinist Tatiana Daubek, and the ensemble House of Time. An exhibition of archival images and memorabilia, courtesy of George Daubek, will be on display in the Hall’s Dvořák Room. Hosted by The Dvořák American Heritage Association, the event is free and open to the public, with limited seating.

 

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Visual Preview of Jarmila Novotná

In JARMILA NOVOTNÁ: MY LIFE IN SONG , editor William V. Madison brings Novotná’s own English-language version of her best-selling memoir to readers for the first time. The memoir details how, following her debut in 1925 at the National Theater in Prague, her fame quickly evolved into a tremendous musical career at a time of unprecedented political upheaval. Novotná provides eyewitness accounts of the Nazi takeovers of Germany and Austria, the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, and the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, as well as her extensive travels in the United States during and after World War II. The memoir is lavishly illustrated with photos from Novotna’s personal collection, a preview shown below.

FIG 1 Novotná with her parents and older sister (1907 or '08)

Novotná as a baby, with her father, Josef; her mother, Josefa; and her sister, Pavla. Prague, probably 1908.

FIG 7 Wedding day (1931, July 16)

Jarmila with George Daubek on their wedding day. Prague, July 16, 1931.

FIG 19 As Butterfly in San Francisco (US debut, 1939)

Making her American debut as Madame Butterfly, with Hertha Glatz (left) as Suzuki. San Francisco, 1939.

FIG 30 Showing off her gymnastic ability, 1940s

Showing off her gymnastic abilities in the 1940s.

FIG 46 Prize-winning headdress by Valerian Rybar, Bal de Tête, 1940s

Wearing Valerian Rybar’s prize-winning headdress to the Bal de Tête.

Pick up a copy of JARMILA NOVOTNÁ, coming soon, to see more stunning images from the legendary performer’s personal collection.

Day One of the Golden Galleys

Golden Galley One.jpg

Today is the first official day of our Golden Galleys Award competition, where you can receive an advanced reading copy of Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood’s Golden Era by James Bawden and Ron Miller completely free of charge! During this competition, we will be giving away three copies on three separate days. To participate in the competition, all you have to do is come up with something witty for the featured actors to say and submit it to the email address listed above.

Today’s Golden Galley image shows Rory Calhoun coming onto Marilyn Monroe in 1954’s River of No Return (image courtesy of 20th Century Fox). In Calhoun’s interview with Ron Miller, he discusses the excitement of working with some of Hollywood’s greatest leading actresses of the time:

Miller: Once you were back at Fox, you really started to get career momentum after your romantic role opposite Susan Hayward in With a Song in My Heart. How was she to work with?

Calhoun: She was marvelous—a real pro. God, what a pleasure to work with that lady!

Miller: And of course the studio put you into two of its big Cinema-Scope pictures with Marilyn Monroe—How to Marry a Millionaire and River of No Return. Your memory of Marilyn?

Calhoun: She was a phenomenon that I doubt like hell this town will ever see the likes of again. There have been a lot of people trying to copy her one way or another—and to me, they’re third stringers.

Miller: In River of No Return, you lost her to Robert Mitchum. Like you, he’s an actor who had his hard times in the tabloids. What do you think of him?

Calhoun: He’s one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet in your whole life. I’m very fond of Bob. He’s a hell of a guy. I guess we could have swapped roles [in that picture], but he was right for that and I was right for what I was doing because I was more greasy, more slick. Well, let’s face it: that’s where it is. I had this shitty look. That’s what they wanted and that’s what I gave ’em. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of effort involved.”

Conversations with Classic Film Stars is set to release this coming April. If you can’t wait that long, be sure to enter into our contest. For more information on the book, click here.

The Golden Galley Awards

In honor of awards show season, UPK has decided to host a competition of its own…

The First Annual UPK Golden Galley Awards.jpg

Presenting the Golden Galley Awards! For those of you who don’t know, a galley is an advanced reading copy of a book that is soon to be in print. These copies are usually mailed off for advertisement purposes, but we have reserved three copies of an upcoming book, Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews with Hollywood’s Golden Era by James Bawden and Ron Miller which was featured on our blog yesterday, for our devoted social media followers.

Here’s how the competition is going to work. We will be giving away one galley a day on February 24, 26, and 28, and you may enter to win by participating in a speech bubble competition. We will be posting photos from Classic Film Stars on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts on these days (just one photo per day), which will feature a classic actor/actress or combination of the two who need some help determining what they could be saying in the photo. It will look something like this:

The Rules

When you see the picture come up on one of our social media accounts, the first step is to retweet, like, or share the photo. This step is crucial to the competition–we will be verifying that you have completed this step before selecting a winner. Step two is to take a nice, long look at the featured photo and muster up the wittiest, cleverest thing you think of to create a creative and hilarious picture. Once you have determined this, email your response to kentuckypress@gmail.com in order to be considered a contender for the day.

If you are selected as a winner, we will contact you by email to congratulate you personally and discuss the details of sending you your Golden Galley. Additionally, we will also display the image complete with your captions on various forms of social media to show off the creative mastermind that you are. We wish the best of luck to everyone! Be sure to check back tomorrow for the first opportunity to win your own 2016 Golden Galley Award.

Conversations with Classic Film Stars

Oscar Sunday is officially less than a week away, and UPK is counting down the days! To celebrate, we are kicking off a week-long series called “Let’s Go to the Movies” that will showcase a few of the films nominated for an award this year as well as reminisce on some classics that got the industry started nearly 100 years ago. Additionally, UPK will be handing out some of our own awards this week (be sure to check back tomorrow to learn more about how you can win)!

Today, we decided to kick it old school and share some of the most interesting interviews we could muster that are featured in the UPK book Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood’s Golden Era by James Bawden and Ron Miller. In this book, each interview takes readers behind the scenes with some of cinema’s most iconic stars. The actors convey unforgettable stories, from Maureen O’Hara discussing Charles Laughton’s request that she change her last name, to Bob Hope candidly commenting on the presidential honors bestowed upon him. Humorous, enlightening, and poignant, Conversations with Classic Film Stars is essential reading for anyone who loves classic movies. Here are some highlights of the collection’s interviews:

Cary Grant

[Cary] Grant was the quintessential Hollywood leading man, a handsome and debonair fellow who was as impressive in action roles as he was in romantic love stories, as convincing in serious dramatic parts as he was in flat-out comedy roles… Grant had come a long way from his days as a British-born acrobat named Archie Leach. He had scaled the heights of stardom in America but was known all over the world. He had evolved into an international symbol of style and grace. [In his interview with Bawden, Grant laments the ways in which he struggled to identify with his film persona as opposed to his true identity:]


Bawden
: Seeing the way people behave around you, is it still fun being Cary Grant?

Grant: I don’t like to disappoint people. Because he’s a completely made-up character and I’m playing a part. It’s a part I’ve been playing a long time, but no way am I really Cary Grant. A friend told me once, “I always wanted to be Cary Grant.” And I said, “So did I.” In my mind’s eye, I’m just a vaudevillian named Archie Leach. When somebody yells “Archie” on the street I’ll look up. I don’t look up if somebody calls “Cary.” So I think Cary Grant has done wonders for my life and I always want to give him his due.

Jackie Coogan
The greatest and most memorable of the silent movie child stars was surely Jackie Coogan. Charlie Chaplin discovered him performing onstage at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. Noticing the boy was a natural-born mimic, Chaplin cast him—at age five—in a small part in A Day’s Pleasure (1919). The boy glowed on camera, so Chaplin put him into his 1921 feature film The Kid and Jackie became an overnight sensation in one of Chaplin’s biggest hits. [Coogan sheds light on what it was like to be adored by millions as a young star when he sat down with Miller for an interview:]

Miller: When you became a star, movies were silent, so there was no language barrier and people all over the world could see and appreciate what you did on-screen. As a little boy, did you realize you were world famous?

Coogan: When I was around nine, I was taken on a trip to Europe. It wasn’t like a normal kid’s trip to Europe. I met heads of state. I was “received” by royalty. I exchanged photos with Benito Mussolini. I kissed the pope’s ring. Everywhere I went, I was mobbed by fans. I can remember being in a car in Paris when the mob nearly killed me. They picked up the whole car with us in it and paraded us down the street on their shoulders.

Joan Fontaine
Joan Fontaine was one of the great Hollywood leading ladies of the 1940s, her performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, the Oscar-winning 1940 film, lifted her into the top ranks of dramatic actresses. She followed up that success in 1941 with Hitchcock’s Suspicion, for which she won the Best Actress Academy Award. [Despite being one of the brightest stars in the film industry at the time, Bawden’s interview with Fontaine demonstrates that a life in Hollywood wasn’t always as glamorous as it seems:]

Bawden: What do you remember of the making of Rebecca?

Fontaine: How miserable I was. Larry Olivier had tested with his wife, Viv Leigh, but [producer] David Selznick said it was too early after [his] Gond with the Wind. In fact, scenes from Gone with the Wind were being done at the same time as we started. I also know Loretta Young and Maggie Sullavan had tested, but both were considered too American. Finally David said, “I guess it will have to be you,” which is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Larry and Judith Anderson were very mean to me, but I now see this only increased my performance because I had nothing else to fall back on, no technique.

Oscar night was a hissy fit. I didn’t want to win; I was only twenty-three. David insisted I would, but he was wrong. Ginger Rogers walked away with it that year. And as it turned out, Rebecca was the only David Selznick movie I would ever star in.

For more interviews like these, be sure to check out the rest of Bawden and Miller’s collection in Conversations with Classic Film Stars!

Remembering Maureen O’Hara

In Loving Memory ofToday, we are taking a break from our Kentucky Hauntings theme to pay tribute to the late Irish beauty, Maureen O’Hara who passed away this weekend in her home in Boise, Idaho. The actress who is known for her fiery red hair and piercing green eyes was the ripe old age of 95 at her death, which her family reports was peaceful and of natural causes, asleep in her bed with no pain.

O’Hara’s career is studded with many successful films, from Miracle on 34th Street to The Parent Trap (the original obviously, not the LiLo version). Not only was she a well-revered actress, but she also went on to achieve other prestigious roles as CEO of   and owner and columnist of the Virgin Islander.

Despite her death, her legacy will live on forever through memories and the written word. UPK’s Maureen O’Hara: The Biography, her first book-length biography, encapsulates her life in this way. Following the star known as the “Queen of Technicolor” from her childhood in Dublin to the height of fame in Hollywood, film critic Aubrey Malone draws on new information from the Irish Film Institute, production notes from films, and details from historical film journals, newspapers, and fan magazines. Malone also examines the actress’s friendship with frequent costar John Wayne and her relationship with director John Ford, and he addresses the hotly debated question of whether the screen siren was a feminist or antifeminist figure.

Though she was an icon of cinema’s golden age, O’Hara’s penchant for privacy and habit of making public statements that contradicted her personal choices have made her an enigma. This breakthrough biography offers the first look at the woman behind the larger-than-life persona, sorting through the myths to present a balanced assessment of one of the greatest stars of the silver screen.

For more information on Maureen O’Hara’s life and her biography, click the image below.

From “Hollywood’s New Cinderella” to “Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel”

If this screen siren doesn’t immediately look familiar to you, it’s because she is often overlooked despite her powerhouse performances and unique beauty. (We know, Ann, its not fair!)

Ann Dvorak was once crowned “Hollywood’s New Cinderella” after performances in movies like Scarface (1932) and Three on a Match (1932). But after she walked out on her contract with Warner Bros. and engaged them in a controversial lawsuit, her acting clout steadily declined.

Christina Rice, a librarian and photo archivist at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles and self-titled crazed Ann Dvorak fan, has written the first full-length biography of the under-appreciated actress’s life entitled Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel. Rice discusses not only Ann’s body of work but also her rebellion and the ways in which it paved the way for other Hollywood actors and actresses to break their contracts with the established Hollywood system.

Rice F

Rice recently joined WICN Public Radio for a podcast discussing the book during their Inquiry Program. Check out the podcast here to hear more about the book and Rice’s research.

Rice also wrote an article for the Huffington Post that discusses the Selig Zoo Statues. These statues, previously owned by a man named Colonel Selig, framed the entrance to a zoo on his property that housed his beloved jungle animals. After the zoo went through various owners, these majestic statues went missing. They were found by a docent and were once again restored to their former glory in 2009 at the entrance of the Los Angeles Zoo.

Also, be sure to check out Christina Rice’s website and blog.

In honor of Ann Dvorak, this is how we like to imagine Ann walking out on Warner Bros. and her contract:

ann throwing