August 11th, 2007

carole lombard 04
  • vp19

For now, no one walks over Gable (and others)

You just know that somewhere in the great beyond, Carole Lombard is ribbing Clark Gable about this one:

"You think you're such a big star, huh? Well, then, where's your star on the Walk of Fame? Tell me!"

Actually, for this one you can blame W. No, not the current president of the United States, but the upscale W Hotel chain. It's part of a hotel-retail complex that's being built on the 1600 block of Vine Street, yet another step in the restoration of a Hollywood neighborhood to something resembling its classic-era grandeur.

Great, but as part of the project, the old sidewalk, not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities act, had to be changed. So 61 of the now 2,345 stars on the Walk of Fame were cut from the walkway, and will return in 2009 when the work is completed. (Eight of the star squares crumbled in removal and will be rebuilt.)

Many are upset by this move, especially since it was done for a private developer, unlike what happened in the 1990s when construction of Metro's Red Line displaced some stars for a time.

Some of the affected personalities are still honored elsewhere on the Walk, as the honor is given in multiple categories -- motion pictures, television, recording, radio and live theatre -- and a person can be honored more than once. So, for example, Frank Sinatra's star for motion pictures was one of the 61 removed, but his star for recording is elsewhere on the Walk and remains untouched.

Gable, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. He has only one star, and for now, it's in storage.

The Walk of Fame project began about half a century ago as a way of saluting the greats of the show business industry. Stars were initially installed in February 1960 -- Joanne Woodward's star was the first set in concrete -- and it's continued ever since.

Several others who worked with or were associated with Lombard at one time or another have also temporarily pulled up stakes, including Akim Tamiroff, Ray Milland, Fredric March, Robert Young, Cary Grant, director Norman Taurog ("We're Not Dressing") and Orson Welles (who initially envisioned Carole for his proposed first film venture, "Smiler With A Knife." Had to settle for "Citizen Kane" instead. Pity).

I haven't seen a complete list of those displaced over the past few days, so here's one, done in geographical order, with any ties to Lombard noted:

* Ezra Stone -- played Henry Aldrich on radio.
* Delmer Daves -- co-wrote the original "Love Affair," directed "The Red House."
* Fred Stone -- vaudeville star who turned to films.
* Akim Tamiroff -- veteran character actor, appeared (unbilled) in the Lombard films "Now And Forever" and "Rumba."
* Jane Greer -- briefly a star in the 1940s.
* Ray Milland -- had supporting role in "We're Not Dressing."
* Margaret O'Brien -- top '40s child star.
* Charlie Ruggles -- excellent '30s character actor.
* Rudy Vallee -- was married briefly to Jane Greer (above).
* Grantland Rice -- best-known as a sportswriter, but he also had a substantial radio career as both sportscaster and host.
* Joe Kirkwood Jr. -- played boxer Joe Palooka in films and on TV.
* Emil Jannings -- distinguished German actor, won initial Best Actor Oscar in 1927-28.
* Dolores del Rio -- beautiful Mexican star of the '20s and '30s.
* Jeanette MacDonald -- outstanding star of musical films.
* Donald Crisp -- noted character actor; in "Mutiny On The Bounty."
* Tex McCrary -- starred with wife Jinx Falkenburg in their own national radio/TV talk show.
* Robert Edeson -- silent-era leading man who was in "Dynamite," the de Mille film in which Lombard briefly participated.
* Barbara Hale -- won 1959 Emmy as secretary Della Street on "Perry Mason."
* Ted Malone -- erudite 1940s radio host.
* Johnny Mercer -- prolific American songwriter ("That Old Black Magic") and a solid singer in his own right; founded Capitol Records.
* Charlton Heston -- won 1959 Best Actor Oscar for "Ben-Hur."
* Arthur Fiedler -- innovative conductor of Boston Pops Orchastra.
* Arlene Dahl -- attractive redhead of '40s and '50s films.
* Alice Lake -- silent-era actress of note.
* Lizabeth Scott -- sultry actress in many thrillers.
* Arthur Kennedy -- five-time Oscar acting nominee.
* Roy Rogers -- beloved singing cowboy of radio, film, records and TV.
* Jane Wyman -- won Best Actress Oscar for "Johnny Belinda" (1948).
* Estelle Taylor -- silent-era actress married to boxing champ Jack Dempsey.
* Fredric March -- Lombard's co-star in "Nothing Sacred"; won two Oscars.
* Robert Young -- worked with Lombard in a radio adaptation of "The Awful Truth."
* Charles Bickford -- versatile actor, nominated three times for Oscars.
* Leroy Anderson -- distinguished light classical musician.
* Geraldine Farrar -- famed operatic star who also achieved silent films.
* Eugene O'Brien -- matinee idol of the early 1920s.
* Norman Luboff -- composer and musician whose choir won a Grammy in 1960.
* George Brent -- major film star of twenties and early thirties.
* Adrienne Ames -- movie star of '30s who died of cancer at age 40.
* Ann Sothern -- durable actress of "Maisie" series and many other roles.
* Donna Reed -- Iowa-born actress who won Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "From Here To Eternity" (1953).
* Julia Sanderson -- noted radio actress of '30s and '40s.
* Cary Grant -- epitomized charm; acted with Carole in several films, but never co-starred with her in a comedy (sigh).
* Henri Rene -- spent half a century as a successful recording arranger and conductor, mostly for Victor (later RCA).
* Richard Dix -- acted in "Cimarron" and other films; studied to be a doctor.
* Clark Gable -- co-starred with Carole in "No Man Of Her Own." You know the rest.
* John Ireland -- starred on the TV series "Rawhide."
* Mae Marsh -- Griffith-era leading lady ("The Birth Of A Nation," "Intolerance").
* Jimmy Durante -- beloved comic, singer, pianist renowned for his wit and stage presence.
* Norman Taurog -- directed Lombard in "We're Not Dressing"; won Best Director Oscar for "Skippy" (1931).
* Leopold Stokowski -- conducted Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmoic.
* Dick Foran -- singing cowboy who hailed from, of all places, Flemington, N.J.
* Webb Pierce -- country music star ("In The Jailhouse Now").
* Tim McCoy -- '30s western star who worked with Joan Crawford in silents.
* Orson Welles -- won Oscar for "Citizen Kane" screenplay.
* Fritz Lang -- directed "Metropolis" (1927) and "Fury" (1936).
* Kathryn Grayson -- curvaceous MGM musical star ("Show Boat," "Kiss Me Kate").
* Tennessee Ernie Ford -- pop-country star ("Sixteen Tons"), also a regular on radio and TV.
* Vaughn Monroe -- versatile '40s pop star ("Ghost Riders In The Sky").
* Madge Kennedy -- prolific silent-era actress.
* Frank Sinatra -- "The Voice" in the '40s; his style and phrasing redefined pop music.
* Hugo Winterhalter -- conductor and arranger in '40s and '50s.

Carole's star? Still safe and sound at 6930 Hollywood Boulevard, in between Bill Cosby and Bette Midler.

By the way, the latest "star attraction" is none other than Michelle Pfeiffer, whose luminosity certainly evokes memories of Lombard and other classic-era greats. She would have been a great Carole if a biopic had been made in the early 1990s, and supposedly was proposed to portray her in a film about Russ Colombo that was never made. (In 1987, Pfeiffer starred in "Natica Jackson," a TV adaptation of a John O'Hara story about a fictional '30s star; she was quite believable in that era's setting.) Here are pics from this week's installation -- congratulations, Michelle!