So here I am again with my second part of the Who What Where When Why series. A few weeks ago I wrote about 'why' I love Classic Hollywood, this time I am going to explain how it started with 'what where and when.' While it is true my passion didn't develop until my late teen years, my interest was peaked at an early age.
As a young'n I would spend my days at my grandma's house while my parents were working. I would wake up from naps to find the television screen had lost all of it's color and my grandma would laugh at me when I would ask what was wrong with it. She would explain that before there were colored televisions and cordless phones that people actually had to go out to the theaters to see movies. I was amazed and had to learn more about this medium from an 'ancient' time. We would sit there on that old orange sofa, I would be eating my silver dollar sized pancakes, and we would watch all of these different films. Some were full of music I would listen to and some made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe. Without knowing it, my grandma was imprinting my brain with these wonderful films and stars. And then came the day she introduced me to I Love Lucy. I was officially hooked. My favorite episode was the one where Lucy mimics Carmen Miranda. I still bust out laughing if I watch that scene. Ma Ma Ma Yo Quero!
Then came the time when my parents divorced and I wound up living with my other grandma in northern Indiana. I spent a lot of my time there alone exploring the little town and the surrounding wooded area. My grandma had a room I wasn't allowed to go in, but I would often sneak in there to see what the big deal was. It was a pretty large room with wall to wall glass cases full of porcelain dolls. You could find every type of doll in that room, but the ones that caught my eye were in a case toward the back left of the room. There was a glamorous blonde in a pink dress, a funny looking red head with a mixing bowl wearing a black and white polka dot dress (I recognized her right away), and a handsome guy wearing a red-leather jacket with blue jeans. They were so different from the other dolls on display. They were cool, they were glamorous, they had so much personality. I would often pretend to be hanging out with them when I was out on my many adventures. I think it goes without saying that my imagination had no boundaries. I would later find out what the beautiful blonde was Marilyn Monroe, the funny lady was Lucille Ball, and the rebel was James Dean.
Years later that Marilyn Monroe doll was given to me and sat in my room for many years. The house where I lived in Indiana had caught fire and the doll was one of the only things to survive, without an arm, but she survived. It is funny how that doll made it's way into my life because if it hadn't been for it, I probably wouldn't have grown so fond of Old Hollywood.
Of course with age, those television sittings with my grandma and the imaginary friends would become a thing of the past and I would spend most of my time being a young teenager. It wasn't until a few days before my 7th grade Social Studies project was due that I was thrust back into the magical world of the Golden Age of Hollywood. I was sitting in my room racking my brain for an idea for my project when my eyes came across that Marilyn Monroe doll. A light bulb went off. If she was important enough to have a doll made of her, she must be interesting enough to do a project on. And there I went... printing pictures, learning about this fabulous woman, and sinking deeper into a love of the days when stars were so glam. That project would go on to win 3rd place, thank you very much. Ha.
After that project was over with, I made it my mission to see all of Marilyn's films. It was from this mission I was introduced to so many of my favorite Old Hollywood stars. Stars like Jane Russell, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, and Barbara Stanwyck. It was like a domino effect. I would watch one movie and it would lead to me loving another star and then another and then another! Before I knew it I had a long list of wonderful stars to learn about. From these discoveries I was introduced to three of my all-time favorite: Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, and Joan Crawford.
I will be forever grateful to both of my grandmas for helping me see into the past and discovering this wonderful time in cinema history.
And so there you have it... What Where When.