gangsters are romantics too

Phyllis McGuire was one of the famous singing trio, the McGuire Sisters.

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She was also well known for her affair with Sam Giancana, whom she met in Las Vegas in 1960. Giancana, the notorious crime figure who shared one of his mistresses, Judith Exner, with President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Chicago in 1975.

Judith Exner found here

“Phyllis had taken a liking to the gaming tables and had run up a hefty marker. Sam spotted her and liked what he saw, so he asked Moe Dalitz, who ran the Desert Inn, how much she owed. Moe told him “$10,000” to which Sam is alleged to have replied “Eat it”, meaning erase the debt, a gesture not without charm and romantic appeal, especially since Sam followed it up with a suiteful of flowers.

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In 2005, Dominick Dunne visited Phyllis at her extraordinary residence in the swankiest part of Las Vegas.

From the outside, the place looked like a suburban ranch style house, but all resemblance to ranch style living stopped at the front door, which was opened by a man wearing a gun in a holster under his open suit jacket. There is a 44-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower in her living room, as well as 55 Bergère chairs. She has a lake with black swans in it, five gardeners, a putting green, and waterfalls that you can turn on and off. She also possesses one of the world’s great collections of serious jewels and once told me that maybe a few Saudis were better customers of Harry Winston’s than she was.

image found here

Downstairs she has a nightclub with a neon sign. The carpet rolls up and there’s a dance floor in the shape of a piano underneath. There is a beauty salon in the house, next door to a health club with three massage tables and three masseuses on call. 

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Although Phyllis did not mention him in her list of suitors, there has been another romantic involvement since Sam, a larger-than-life character named Mike Davis, the owner of Tiger Oil. “Tiger Mike” was once the chauffeur of Phyllis’s great friend Helen Bonfils, and married Bonfils upon the death of her husband in 1956. Helen Bonfils was reportedly in her late sixties at the time and Davis was in his late twenties. 

Perhaps she has a weakness for chauffeurs. They’ve certainly played a significant part in her life

Singer Phyllis McGuire, 68, performed 40 hours of charity work at the Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas, and made a donation of $5,000 to the Injured Police Officers Fund. With proof presented to the Las Vegas Justice of the Peace, a misdemeanor criminal charge of obstructing an officer was dismissed.

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The lead singer for the McGuire Sisters did not attend the court hearing. Her lawyer had struck a deal for McGuire, who was arrested on March 24 after she screamed, cursed, hit and head butted a police officer. She was riding in her limo when the vehicle was stopped by police who wanted to speak to the driver. The driver had been seen conferring with an individual, who was under police surveillance……

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm  Comments (38)  
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the art of letter writing

In the old days before email people seemed to put a lot more effort into their letter writing. Here are three great examples:

Harold Pinter

In his early play The Birthday Party, two mysterious men terrorize a third named Stanley as he cowers in a tawdry English rooming house. In post-absurdist fashion, Pinter denies his audience virtually all clarification of his characters’ histories prompting one frustrated viewer to write:

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“I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your play. These are the points which I do not understand: 1. Who are the two men? 2. Where did Stanley come from? 3. Were they all supposed to be normal? You will appreciate that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your play.”

my favourite birthday party boy found here

Pinter replied: “Dear Madam: I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your letter. These are the points which I do not understand: 1. Who are you? 2. Where do you come from? 3. Are you supposed to be normal? You will understand that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your letter.”

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Harry S Truman

To Paul Hume, music critic who wrote a disparaging review of Truman’s daughter’s singing performance:

Mr Hume:

I’ve just read your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

Harry S Truman found here

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!


Groucho Marx

To Jerry Wald, producer of Peyton Place

Dear Jerry:

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed “Peyton Place.” As a matter of fact, I CAN tell you. I enjoyed it very much.

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In addition to enjoying the picture, it seemed that the whole evening had been planned by a master hand. My De Soto was whisked away from the front of the theatre so swiftly that I arrived at Romanoff’s in a Buick. There I rapidly got drunk, danced with Audrey Hepburn, looked down (and up) Jayne Mansfield’s knockers, had a fine lobster dinner and spent a good half hour rubbing someone’s legs under the table …. which, on investigation, turned out to be my wife’s.

Jayne Mansfield found here

It was a bang-up evening …. and that’s how I wound up.

Regards, Groucho

all but the disgusting dinner

When Verdi’s Aida was first performed, not everyone in the audience was enthralled….

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Dear Signor Verdi,

On the second of this month, attracted by the sensation which your opera Aida was making, I went to Parma. I admired the scenery, listened with great pleasure to the excellent singers, and took pains to let nothing escape me. After the performance was over, I asked myself whether I was satisfied. The answer was “No.”

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I returned to Reggio, and on the way back in the railroad carriage, I listened to the verdicts of my fellow travelers. Nearly all of them agreed that Aida was a work of the highest rank.

Thereupon I conceived a desire to hear it again, and on the 4th returned to Parma. I made the most desperate effort to obtain a reserved seat, and there was such a crowd that I was obliged to throw away five lire to see the performance in comfort.

I arrived at this decision: it is an opera in which there is absolutely nothing which causes any enthusiasm or excitement, and without the pomp of the spectacle, the public would not stand it to the end. When it has filled the house two or three times, it will be banished to the dust of the archives.

Now, my dear Signor Verdi, you can imagine my regret at having spent on two occasions 32 lire for these two performances. Add to this the aggravating circumstance that I am dependent on my family, and you will understand that this money troubles my rest like a terrible spectre. Therefore I address myself frankly so that you may send me the amount.

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Here is the account:

Railroad: One way 2.60 lire

Railroad: Return trip 3.30 lire

Theater 8.00 lire

Detestable dinner at the station 2.00 lire

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=15.90 lire Multiplied by 2= 31.80 lire

In the hope that you will extricate me from this embarrassment, I salute you from the bottom of my heart

BERTANI

Verdi’s reply, addressed to his publisher Ricordi May, 1872

As you may readily imagine, in order to save this scion of his family from the spectres that pursue him, I shall gladly pay the little bill he sends me. Be so kind, therefore, as to have one of your agents send the sum of 27 lire, 80 centesimi to this Signor Bertani. True, that isn’t the whole sum he demands, but for me to pay his dinner too would be wearing the joke a bit thin. He could perfectly well have eaten at home. Naturally, he must send you a receipt, as well as a written declaration that he promises never to hear another one of my new operas, so that he won’t expose himself again to the danger of being pursued by spectres, and that he may spare me further travel expenses!

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 5:56 am  Comments (53)  
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obsessed with alma

Circus performers have featured before at the Gimcrack but they’re an interesting subject so let’s look at another one,  Con Calleano

“The world’s greatest tightwire artist was born at Lismore, New South Wales, on 26 December 1899, the third of the ten children of an itinerant showman and boxer, Cornelius Sullivan and his wife, Vittorine, the grand-daughter of an Aboriginal. The family changed their name, and by 1918 ‘Colleano’s All-Star Circus’ was touring Queensland. Con mastered the feet-to-feet somersault on the tightwire – something previously considered impossible, because the performer cannot see his feet until after they land on the wire.

As well as starring in circuses here and overseas, Con was a stunt double for Charles Boyer in the film Flesh and Fantasy. His nephew, Bonar Colleano, followed in his uncle’s show business footsteps and became an actor performing in nearly 30 films before his sudden accidental death in 1958.

Several British stars of the silver screen have taken part in a fund-raising match for the family of American actor Bonar Colleano.

The 34 year old actor was killed in a car crash at Birkenhead, Liverpool, in August. He left a wife, actress Susan Shaw, and three-year-old son Mark.

Singer Alma Cogan kicked off the game, which also included actors like James Mason, Sid James, Stanley Baker and Alfie Bass.

Alma Cogan and friends found here

Alma Cogan was a pop star in the fifties and sixties who died from cancer at the age of 34. It’s been rumoured that she had an affair with John Lennon, that she was gay, that she had been raped when young, that she was a sexual enigma….. most of the rumours were refuted in a book written by her younger sister, Sandra Caron, who also had to contend with the attentions of a stalker.

“In the years that followed, Sandra became haunted by the obsessive behaviour of some of her sister’s more extreme fans. She was affronted when one of them, Stephen Woods, a former schoolteacher from Lancaster, who never met Alma, sent money to Bushey Cemetery to restore the star’s grave, without permission from the family.

In November 2001, when Sandra unveiled an official Heritage Foundation plaque to Alma outside their former home at Stafford Court, where they entertained The Beatles, Woods attempted to fund the cost of the memorial.

This offer, and a further one – to buy up 250 seats at the tribute luncheon that followed at Grosvenor House Hotel, at a cost of E12,500, provided he was allowed to control the event’s publicity and choose the person to unveil the plaque – was refused.

Woods, now employing the alias of Miles Furlong, took out another paid advert in The Stage. This one published Alma’s former ex-directory telephone number, the number of her passport, which he had in his possession, the registration number of her car, and the site and number of her grave.

Another Jewish Alma who attracted stalker-like attention was Alma Mahler. When her love affair with artist Oskar Kokoschka ended, he remained obsessed with her.

“He contacted dollmaker Hermine Moos to assemble a life-sized and anatomically-correct replica of his former lover, in order to fill the void in his heart. After several months of correspondence, during which he sent copious notes, paintings and sketches as to how the Alma-Puppe was to look, Moos delivered the finished Doll.

Despite Kokoschka’s initial excitement, apparently the replica left him sexually unsatisfied, so the Alma-Puppe was simply employed as a life-model, which garnered him some thirty pen-and-ink drawings.

Unfortunately, the Alma-Puppe met with a tragic fate, as one evening, at a party that Kokoschka held in his studio, he became quite drunk, and broke a bottle-of red wine over its head.

read more about Kokoschka’s specifications regarding the alma doll here


Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 7:50 am  Comments (32)  
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a peek inside the mind of myra

A couple of weeks ago I revealed how the phrase “did Aristotle Onassis sponsor sex change surgery?” led me to an interesting site about transsexuals. Recently I was reading an old article about Sammy Davis Jnr and his Swedish wife May Britt and I wondered if might be something I could hang a blog post on…..

“May marries Sammy Davis, Jr., at his Hollywood home above Sunset Strip. He’s 34; she’s 26; the press gives her age as 24. The Jewish rites are performed by Rabbi William M. Kramer of Hollywood’s Temple Israel. Frank Sinatra is best man, and Mrs. George Rhodes is matron of honor. May almost misses her wedding when a severe attack of intestinal flu with a 103-degree fever beds her hours before the ceremony. After the rites she returns to bed, and Davis goes solo to a reception at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Poor May, what a lousy way to spend your first night as a bride. Googling “May Britt wedding night” didn’t reveal any more about Sammy & Co, but I did discover another Britt whose wedding was even worse

“Flabbergasted bride Britt Kallstrom’s plans for a romantic honeymoon went awry just 2 hours after her wedding when her policeman husband arrested her for drunk driving. Beautiful Britt lay all alone in a bug infested jail cell while the grim faced groom said he had no choice but to throw the girl of his dreams into the hoosegow. “I warned her she was too drunk to drive, when she got in the car and drove off I had no choice.” Britt says she “screamed and scratched and bit him but he just kept writing out the arrest report”

image (not Britt) found here

Do my readers recognise this lurid style of journalism? It’s from the Weekly World News – a publication I’d not previously had the pleasure of reading. Click the link and you could get lost for hours reading gems such as this one about unfortunate bride Elizabeth Muller’s life….

Her husband Werner eats cockroaches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He said  “They bugged me for years, then I figured out how to get rid of them. I started gobbling up every one in sight. They’re a superb source of protein, one of nature’s best balanced snacks. I was a little squeamish about eating them so the first time I sautéed them in butter and then drowned them in chocolate syrup. They’re great in meatloaf too. All you have to do is chop them up and add them to the mixture, It’s hard to tell the difference between them and ground beef.”

image found here

Weekly World News also helps me keep with the nursing theme here at the gimcrack…..

“Sexy stripper Senta Auer was charged with manslaughter after she put on a scorching show at a local nursing home – and two bug-eyed old men died of heart attacks. Outraged investigators also filed charges against shell-shocked Hans Lehn, nursing home owner who hired her.

“I talked to some of the nurses to see if anybody would be offended and they all thought it was a great idea.”

Senta said “I’d just taken off my top and flung it into the crowd when I heard a gasp and one old man toppled over clutching his chest. a couple of seconds later another old man collapsed near the stage. I hopped down to help him but they told me to get away because I was making things worse. …..”

This image is of Senta Berga NOT Senta Auer. While looking for a photo of Senta, I found this fabulous site devoted to hairstyles. Be sure to check out Pamela Tiffin’s amazing mane.

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 7:06 am  Comments (38)  
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fair mare

Today’s post was going to be about Art Acord, a movie star from the silent era who also worked as a stunt rider in rodeos and Wild West shows.

Because of a heavy drinking problem and his inability to adapt to the advent of talkies, Acord’s film career faded, and he ended up mining in Mexico. Shortly before his death, Acord appears to have attempted to orchestrate his own kidnapping as a publicity stunt.

Art Acord died in Chihuahua, Mexico, on January 4, 1931 from cyanide poisoning and complications related to hepatitis. Official Mexican records called it a suicide, but some of Acord’s friends over the years insisted that he had been murdered by a Mexican politician who had caught Acord having an affair with his wife.

His death sounds somewhat mysterious but it was the phrase “orchestrate his own kidnapping” that got my attention. It reminded me of the con trick perpetrated by little known singer Fairlie Arrow when she faked her own abduction in 1991.

The entertainer, who was found bound and blindfolded on the roadside at Mudgeeraba, claimed she had been been kidnapped by a crazed fan in a 48-hour ordeal during which she was supposedly tied to a four-poster bed.

But she later admitted it was all a publicity stunt, cooked up by her and her gold chain-wearing, tow-truck-driving svengali Bob Deering, to promote her singing career.

During her two-day “kidnapping” she hid out at a Nerang motel. Arrow was later fined $5000 for the hoax and ordered to pay $18,500 in costs. She went on to pose nude for a men’s magazine and now lives in the US.

Reading that old news article prompted me to investigate what Fairlie is up to these days. Apparently she shares Art Acord’s interest in horses.

The Las Vegas World Invitational Show Jumping Extravaganza resulted in checks issued to most riders and officials bouncing or the recipients being advised not to cash them as no funds were available. Promises by David R. Shriner, chairman and chief executive officer, and Fairlie Arrow, executive in charge of production for Equus Entertainment that staged the event, to honor an estimated $1 million in outstanding obligations have not been met.

Poor Fairlie, I hope she got that sorted out. At least she’s got another career to fall back on

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Fairlie Arrow, a third degree black belt martial artist and a three times world lightweight kickboxing champion also released a series of kickboxing workout video tapes entitled “The TaeKickBoxing Workout” which are available through Madacy Home Video Entertainment and are number two on the best seller list of workout tapes.

Any Mexican politician with a pocketful of cyanide would be advised to steer clear of Fairlie…..


Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 7:15 am  Comments (25)  
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