alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grandpa Sidney, part 2

-
-

In February I wrote a post about my grandfather, Sidney Bennett, aka Wynn the Astrologer, with Harold Lloyd. After that a friend asked if I would post the other photos I have of Sidney in Hollywood. So here you go.

In the top photo my mother's father is on the film horse Silver King, star of 1920s and 30s Westerns. Silent movie cowboy hero Fred Thomson (not to be confused with another actor and Congressman Fred Thompson), stands next to his co-starring horse. If Fred Thomson hadn't died of tetanus at age 38, he might have had a more lasting legacy than Tom Mix. He's pretty much forgotten today, but in his day Thomson was known as "the World's Greatest Western Star." This photo had to be taken within a few years of his death in 1928, since my grandparents divorced in 1922, after which Sidney moved to Hollywood. Thomson created controversy when he played Jesse James in 1928, because of his sympathetic portrayal of the villain. There were still people around who remembered the not-so-good-old days of the James Gang!

Below is a dilapidated publicity photo of Grandpa Sidney with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Again, as in the photo of Sidney with Harold Lloyd, he is holding Fairbanks' astrological chart. I don't know who wrote on this photo, but on the back is also written "why men leave Bayonne" - alluding to the city in New Jersey where Sidney had settled with my grandmother - Grandma Olive, and where my mother grew up (though like Sidney she was born in Chicago). I assume this was for a newspaper piece about Sidney in a New York or Bayonne newspaper.

Fairbanks Jr. was the son of silent film swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks and apparently never intended to take up acting like his father, but he did and acted in 100 films! But that wasn't enough for Douglas Jr., which you can read at his bio in his name link above. For instance, he launched a London hospital for war refugees during WWII and became quite a philanthropist by the end of his life.

I don't know who the director on the left is, as there were several different men who directed Fairbanks movies in the 1920s.



I leave you with a montage of still images of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. At about minute 3:15, has a woman ever been more gorgeous than Rita Hayworth?


50 comments:

kanmuri said...

Great post. Thanks for the nice pictures!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Kanmuri, old photographs are a treat - but these are in bad condition. I need to scan and repair them digitally.

Dakota Bear said...

Nice post! I remember seeing Douglas Fairbanks in movies on early TV.

I need to go read your Feb. post. You have an interesting family.

Sally's World said...

great post, how wonderful to have such an interesting family history.

NJ said...

Great post Ruth. It's so interesting to see the old photos.

Ruth said...

Dakota Bear, this generation in my family is most interesting, on my father's side too. I am utterly dull by comparison. Now my kids' generation in our family is once again very interesting.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Sally. I confess I lived some fantasies in my head as a kid because of my grandparents, whom I never met.

Ruth said...

Hi, NJ, thanks. Aren't old photos the best? I have been taking pics of our old photos (don't have a scanner) and there is a quality to them that digital just doesn't have. That's obvious I know. I'm glad to have some of this visual history since I never met Sidney.

Susan said...

Can't you just imagine Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. on the cover of People magazine as 'Sexiest Man of the Year'? He must have made a movie with every glamorous actress in Hollywood. Rita, Hedy Lamarr, Ginger Rogers, Irene Dunne were some of the faces I recognized. Ahhh, Hollywood's glory days. I'll bet Grandpa Sidney knew lots of inside stories. It would have been fun to sit with him and dish the dirt!

Ruth said...

Wow, you're good, Susie Q, but I could have guessed that. Oh I love Irene Dunne! Yes, Mr. Fairbanks was very handsome.

Oh you must be right about the gossip he would have heard. Oh, and you know the gossip columnist Walter Winchell? My mom and her grandma had lunch with him - it must have been through Sidney that it happened.

m-m-m good said...

I so enjoy reading your blog. My Uncle Johnnie was a dancer on Broadway, and then moved behind the scenes after he couldn't dance any longer. There are so many things I wish I could ask him now, but it isn't possible. You are so fortunate to have photos. :) M

Babs (Beetle) said...

Oh, you have photos! My mother was a child actress and played alongside Douglas Fairbanks (I think senior) back in the 1920's Mary Pickford also rings a bell. Sadly we have no photos, or very clear details any longer. We tried to obtain info from the film archives, but apparently they had a large fire many years ago and lost a lot of their movies. 'The Foundling' was one of the movies she was in. So much family history gets lost along the way.

Jill of All Trades said...

Wonderful. Thanks for sharing. Love the pic's.

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, I'd love to chat but you've inspired me and I'm off to the movie store to rent an old movie!

Barry said...

Alright, a secret revealed. When I was young and impressionable, and watching hours and hours of Douglas Fairbanks movies on little black and white TVs, that's who I wanted to grow up to be. Then, of course, I would get Rita Hayworth!

I even grew a mustache at one point.

But I looked more funny than romantic.

Oh well!

Oliag said...

Wonderful to have those old photos!...you should definitly get a scanner...

All of those leading ladies are gorgeous..and the studio photography of the time is priceless...I love looking at old studio photos...

Ruth said...

m-m-m good, at least I have these, you're right. I wish I could have met him too, and sat on his knee.

Ruth said...

Oh that's fun, Babs! I take it your mother stopped acting in adulthood?

I often wonder how directors get very small children to act out parts. I suppose playing make believe is nothing new to children - but in front of adults and cameras it must be a challenge.

Ruth said...

Hi, Jill. It is quite odd to be me and be so closely related to someone whom a) I have never met and b) had such an utterly foreign life to my own.

Ruth said...

Cathy, I wonder which one . . . Maybe you'll come back and tell me. I think my all time favorite oldie is "Rebecca."

♥ Kathy said...

I really enjoyed that Ruth..thank you for posting it

Ruth said...

Barry, we all model ourselves after someone, I suppose, and why not someone dashing and debonair? Funny how mustachio fashion comes and goes.

Ruth said...

Oh, Oliag, you reminded me of a conversation I had the other day with a photographer friend. I told him about the NPR piece I heard about the new HD technology and how women actresses are complaining at the ultra-reality it shows on their faces. Then we got talking about Loretta Young, and how her TV show was 20 years after her youthful film acting career. He told me they put gauze over the lens to soften her aging face!

Ruth said...

Thank you, and you're welcome, ♥ Kathy. Sometimes I wish I were as interesting as my grandparents, but then I like my quiet life too.

ds said...

Great stuff! I love old photos & have scanned & repaired several as keepsakes for family members (so go get a scanner, already!), and my family is not nearly as interesting as yours. As for the movies, those old black and whites were something--the shadows, the light. Can't get that anymore (or not often). Thanks for sharing!

CottageGirl said...

Great post, Ruth!

What experience Sid must have had!

As far as Douglas Fairbanks Jr., he was a leading man, wasn't he? Loved the pics of his many leading ladies. Was one of the ladies Barbara Stanwick?

I loved Irene Dunne in Penny Serenade.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Babs (Beetle) said...

You just might enjoy reading my series called 'Going back in time' it mentions my mum being in the movies, and then coming back to the UK :O)

freefalling said...

"This photo had to be taken within a few years of his death"....
Sometimes my brain takes in things in strange ways.
IE: he looks surprisingly good for a corpse!

Helena said...

I love these old photos of yours! And I love to hear real stories about movie stars who we so easily idolize.

I also have an old photo collection of my past family members in the film industry and I've been thinking about publishing something. I will when I find the time!

Edward Yablonsky said...

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001195/bio
I read your link and it was a bio of a fascinating life.

And to his last day in 2000 he remained a multi-talented, hyperactive man, not content to appear in the 100 films mentioned above, far from that. Good-looking, distinguished and bright, Douglas seemed to epitomize all the qualities existing in a single person. Very sporty (like daddy!), he excelled at many sports, notably during his stay at the Military Academy in 1919 (his role in Autant-Lara's "L'athlète incomplet" illustrated these abilities, in reverse for that matter!). On the other hand he was a bright pupil, for instance at Lycéee Janson de Sailly in Paris, where he had followed his divorced mother. Very early in his life, he developed a taste for the arts as well and became an occasional but regular painter and sculptor.
Of course this was not enough and, as a grown man, he showed himself active in the business field. Didn't he manage firms as varied as a mining company, a hotel group, a chain of bowling alleys, a pop corn making firm and a movie and TV company? To say nothing of his activities during World War II, during which he headed London's Douglas Voluntary Hospital (an establishment taking care of war refugees), was Roosevelt's special envoy for the Special Mission to South America in 1940 before becoming a lieutenant in the Navy (where he made his way up to captain in 1954) and being part of the Allies'landing in Sicily and Elba in 1943.
Fairbanks had an insatiable curiosity for scholarship and action, rare to be housed in the same individual. May artist/actors then were renaissance men with,it seems, inborn aptitudes spanning a diversity of interests whioch were translated into "action". Todays actor(tresses) are very one dimensional by comparison.


He was also active in WWII in refugee work and took paert in the Allied Landing at Sicily.

Later in his life he became a committed citizen of the world, garnering many a humanitarian award. A fervent Anglophile, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was knighted in 1949 and often entertained Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in his "The Boltons" London mansion. Quite an impressive curriculum vitae, but let's not forget... movies!

A fervent Anglophile and knighted as well in addition to his movie career.

Ruth said...

DS, our son has a scanner here, he'll be home in a week, I'll have him show me how to use it. I forgot about it!

I do like film, and b&w film especially. I'm not a snob about it, but I appreciate it.

Ruth said...

Yes, CottageGirl Fairbanks Jr was a leading man, like his dad. I don't recall seeing Stanwick, hmm. I recognized some of the faces, but I am not good enough to put names with the faces. I think Susan could.

Ruth said...

Babs! What a surprise, you are a great story teller as well as photographer, wow. I am fascinated with your Sidney's story. What a coincidence we both have our Sidneys in our blogs today.

Ruth said...

Hahaha, Letty.

I really love your sense of the world, your humor.

Ruth said...

Helena, I know so little of Sidney, or my Grandma Olive, that I think I might make up some fictionalized accounts to fill in the blanks. It's an interesting way to express your own sense of self, and what shaped you.

Ruth said...

Edward, I was so interested when I read this too.

But I didn't realize he had been knighted.

william ding said...

Very nice!
My blog: http://go-joke-time.blogspot.com ! Join Us!

rauf said...

Precious pictures Ruth,
Right or wrong, its a matter of belief. ilm -e- nijoom,(urdu) is knowing the future. i'd be lying if i say i am not interested Ruth.
All the activities would come to a grinding halt if we know the future.

Ruth said...

Thanks, William, aka The Donald. We all need to laugh through the crises.

Ruth said...

rauf, I am interested in ilm -e- nijoom too, much more interesting than astrology.

Yes, you're right, we would live in fear, worse than now.

Sandy said...

I loved reading about Sidney and seeing the photos! I watched a little of the video and enjoyed it, but as usual I'm on the run!

Great post and what an interesting guy your grandfather was!

Loring Wirbel said...

Who is the actress at 1:45? Any ideas?

Ruth said...

You are a busy lady, Aunty Sandy, and those grandchildren keep you young.

Ruth said...

No, Loring, but she sure caught my eye too. She doesn't look at all familiar to me.

Deslilas said...

Handsome men and women !
Most of our actors "people" nowadays seem so common.

Ginnie said...

It amazes me how much you know of my own history...totally unbenownst to me!!! Thanks for sharing it, Sister.

dutchbaby said...

Thank you for posting this, Ruth. I absolutely love this! You illuminate a magical time in movie history.

Loved the you-tube clip too. He was a handsome brute wasn't he?

Ruth said...

You think so, Daniel? I try not to feel inferior to them when I see their pictures in line at the grocery store.

Ruth said...

Boots, maybe I had more time with Mom than I realized - to tell me these stories.

Ruth said...

I'm glad you liked it, Dutchbaby. Yes, Fairbanks Jr was very handsome and suave.