Friday, July 29, 2011

Ziegfeld Girl, Part 5

Wow, today I'm finishing up my "mini-series" on Ziegfeld girls. I really didn't think I had it in me! Of course, my rigid schedule of working out and clean living took a serious hit in order to bring you these FASCINATING blogs, but I'll do whatever it takes to bring my brand of pseudo knowledge to you, my 5 loyal readers.

Did I ever mention that I want to invent a "sarcasm font?" If there was one, it should have been applied to the words "rigid schedule of working out and clean living," "FASCINATING," and "knowledge."

So, on with the blog.

Today, we are going to talk about Marion Davies.

She was born Marion Douras in Brooklyn, NY in 1897. She and her sisters changed their surname to Davies as it was believed that an English sounding surname would serve them better in the melting pot of New York during the turn of the century

She had stage ambitions at an early age and joined the Ziegfeld Follies in 1916. She appeared in her first feature film in 1917. It was called Runaway Romany and was directed by her brother-in-law. Hello, nepotism.

In 1918 she starred in Cecilia of the Pink Roses. This is significant because the film was financially backed by newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst. And this is where her real fame began: her decades long affair with the always married Hearst. To put this in today's terms, it would be like Rupert Murdoch having a publicly known, decades long affair with some burgeoning starlet. Let's go with Mila Kunis...only because I just saw a trailer for No Strings Attached 2...I mean, Friends With Benefits.

Hearst played a huge part in her career as well as her personal life. He pretty much started Cosmopolitan Pictures as a vehicle for movies staring Davies. There was one problem. Marion really liked, and was really good at, playing comedic roles. Hearst wanted her to play dramatic roles. It is said that Hearst's meddling in Davies career is what held her back from critical success.

It is also said that Marion Davies was the inspiration for the character of Susan Alexander in the film Citizen Kane, which is loosely based on Hearst's life.

Davies starred in many films and saved her money wisely. She even bailed out Hearst during some financial trouble by writing him a 1.9 million dollar check. Dang. She was also known for her philanthropic work. She donated a lot of money to various children's hospitals in California.

One more juicy tidbit: after Davies' death and the death of her "niece," Patricia Lake, Lake's family revealed that Patricia was indeed the child of Davies and Hearst, but had been raised by Marion's sister, Rosemary. Mmm Hmm. Told you it was scandalous.

So, there's a brief description on Marion Davies. Want more? How about a necklace:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ziegfeld Girl, Part 4

To be honest, I don't have a lot of time today, so I'm going to try to make this short; which is, sadly, similar to Martha Mansfield's career and life.

Martha Mansfield was born Martha Erhlich. She allegedly came up with her stage name of Mansfield from her home town of Mansfield, OH; but her birth certificate states that she was born in New York City. But, let's face it- Martha New York City is a mouthful.

She began her acting career in 1918 in the Ziegfeld Follies. She later moved on to film, starring in a film adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with John Barrymore. Here's a little blurb written about her from "Who's Who on the Screen" in 1920:
One of the screen's must charming actresses is Martha Mansfield, who was born in Mansfield, Ohio, in 1899. Following her education which she received in her native city, Miss Mansfield entered upon her stage career by an engagement in one of the Winter Garden's spectacular revues. This was followed by her appearance in Dillingham and Ziegfeld's "The Century Girl" and A. H. Wood's production of "On With the Dance." The Essanay Company's Max Linder Comedies served as the vehicle which introduced Miss Mansfield to the shadow stage. Later she appeared in numerous photoplays opposite Montagau Love, Eugene O'Brien, and John Barrymore in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." She is five feet four inches high, weighs a hundred and twenty-two pounds and has blonde hair and gray eyes.

Does any one else think it's weird that they include her height and weight in this article? Anyway, as you can see, she was a promising star of her day. So, what happened? Well, she was filming a Civil War movie in San Antonio, TX, when a crew member carelessly threw a lit match in her direction. Unfortunately, the hoop skirts and ruffles of her costume caught on fire and she sustained severe burns. She was rushed to the hospital, but died the next day. She was only 24:(

One of the things I love about making these necklaces and writing this blog is that I get the chance to recognize an otherwise relatively unknown woman in history:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ziegfeld Girl, Part 3

The Ziegfeld Follies proved to be a great launching point for many Hollywood starlets, especially those of the silent era. One such starlet is Billie Dove. You might not have heard of her because she wasn't in films very long, but she certainly made an impact during her short tenure in Hollywood. Here's the details on Ms. Dove:

  • Born Lillian Bohny, she changed her name to Billie Dove when she started in the Ziegfeld Follies.
  • Does her name sound slightly familiar? Well, that might be because Billie Holiday's stage name was inspired by Ms. Dove.
  • She started out in the follies in 1919, but quickly moved to Hollywood on a studio contract.
  • That's where she met her future first husband, Irving Willart, a prominent director.
  • She was THE biggest star of the time. She was nicknamed "The American Beauty" and was a bigger box office draw than Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, etc.
  • She also had an affair with a then unknown maverick named Howard Hughes. I'm assuming this was before the whole "crazy, shut-in" phase of his.
  • Billie worked until she finished her last film in 1932- Blondie of the Follies.
  • She retired at an early age, met and married oil tycoon Robert Kenaston and spent the rest of her life out of the spotlight.
  • She died at the age of 94.
It seems that Billie Dove was able to go through the Hollywood machine relatively unscathed....Weird. 
Want a necklace of this "American Beauty?" Well, here you go:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ziegfeld Girl, Part 2

Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ruby Keeler, Hedda Hopper and Lucille Ball. What do these women have in common? They were all REJECTED as Ziegfeld girls during their auditions. But, they all seemed to do pretty well for themselves without having to be part of the follies, so we won't worry about them...I just thought it was interesting.

Guess which famous actress WAS a Ziegfeld girl? Barbara Stanwyck. So, let's talk about her, shall we?

Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in Brooklyn in 1907. When she was 4 years old, her mother was killed when she was pushed out of a streetcar by a drunken stranger. WTF? Then, a few months later, her dad left to work on the Panama Canal and never returned. Ruby and her younger brother were left to be raised by their older sister, Mildred. Mildred got a job as a showgirl at a NYC theater and would often take Barbara backstage to watch. This undoubtedly sparked Ruby's interest in showbiz.

In 1922, Ruby auditioned for the Ziegfeld Follies and got a part in the chorus. She worked in the follies for two years, then moved on to other vaudeville/cabaret shows.

In 1926, she met Willard Mack who cast her in his play, The Noose. But, first he wanted her to change her name...hey, look who's talking Willard. Anyway, they decided on the name Barbara Stanwyck from the play Barbara Frietchie and the play's actress Joan Stanwyck....Creative.

Stanwyck's career started to take off after that. She easily made the transition from plays to films and soon caught the eye of director Frank Capra who cast her in his upcoming movie, Ladies of Leisure. Barbara was well liked by many. Of Stanwyck, Capra said she "was beloved by all directors, actors, crews, and extras. In a Hollywood popularity contest, she would win first prize hands down." Stanwyck went on to star steadily in films over the next decade of so, including Stella Dallas, Double Indemnity and Lady of Burlesque. In 1944, she was the highest paid woman in the United States. Not bad for a girl from the follies:)

Barbara's personal life did not fair so well. She married actor Frank Fay in 1928, but divorced him in 1935 due to his drunken temper. After that, she was rumored to have a few affairs with women, including Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, and Tallulah Bankhead. Eventually, she married actor Robert Taylor, who was trying to dispel some gay rumors of his own. Their marriage was arranged by MGM in 1939. I guess it was common practice for the studios to arrange marriages back then. But, by 1950 the couple filed for divorce. You know, if an alleged lesbian and rumored gay man, forced into a marriage by a studio, can't make it work; what hope is there for the rest of us?

After her 2nd divorce, Stanwyck went on to a relatively successful television career, working well into the 1980's. In 1981 she contracted bronchitis on the set of The Thorn Birds. The illness was compounded by her smoking habit, which she had started at the age of 9. Later that year, she was brutally beaten by two men who broke into her house and robbed her. How much of a loser do you have to be to beat up a 74 woman? Ugh!

Still, Stanwyck held on.  She in 1990 at the died at the age of 83 of congestive heart failure. And although, she never won an oscar, she is revered as one of the best actresses of all time. And she started out as a humble chorus girl in the Ziegfeld Follies!

Here's a great necklace featuring Barbara (before she was Barbara Stanwyck) during her time at the follies in 1922:

Use coupon code Blog15 for 15% off:)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ziegfeld Girl

I'm going to TRY to have a theme for my blog posts this week ("try" being the operative word) and that theme will be.....Ziegfeld girls!

What are Ziegfeld girls? Well, I'm glad you asked. Ziegfeld girls are girls who were part of the Ziegfeld Follies. 

Not very helpful? OK, I will expand: The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of theatre productions founded by Florenz Ziegfeld. It was inspired by the Follies Bergere in Paris. It was a combination of vaudeville and broadway shows. The Ziegfeld follies ran from 1907 to 1931in New York City and spawned the careers of many famous screen actresses as well as socialites.

One such Ziegfeld Girl was Mary Nolan.

Mary Nolan was born Mary Imogene Robertson in Kentucky. Her life kind of sucked from the beginning. Her dad was a "no show" in her life and her mother died when Mary was only 3. As a child, Mary worked on a farm before  moving to NYC to become a model. She was discovered by Florenz Ziegfeld and convinced to be one of his "girls" in 1919. She performed under the name Imogene Wilson at first and her flirty dancing nature earned her the nickname "bubbles." She was highly popular and one reporter said of her: "Only two people in America would bring every reporter in New York to the docks to see them off. One is the President. The other is Imogene "Bubbles" Wilson." Atta girl!

During her time at the follies, she began an abusive affair with comedian Frank Tinney. She eventually ended up in the hospital due to his abusive nature. Oh, and he was married. This caused quite a scandal at the time so Mary decided to move to Germany to get away from Frank and try to start a new career.

In Germany, she enjoyed a short, but somewhat productive film career. After her brief stint in Germany, she returned to the US and began a film career under the name Mary Nolan. Mary had moderate success in US movies, starring in pictures with silent screen greats like Lon Chaney and Lionel Barrymore.

But, she couldn't handle the stress and sadly became addicted to heroine. She died of cardiac arrest in 1948. She was broke and living in relative obscurity by the time of her death. When her estate was assessed, the only thing of value that she owned was a grand piano once owned by Lionel Barrymore.

The scary face of addiction has been in the media spotlight in the last few days with the death of Amy Winehouse. It's important to realize that addiction is not a new thing and has claimed the lives of many throughout history. I certainly don't have a solution to solving this problem, but I am suggesting that we, as a society, re-evaluate the ways we stigmatize those with crippling addictions and perhaps try to do more to help them rather than sitting back to judge and criticize. 

Whoa, that was much more serious than I wanted to be on a Monday..... Here's a necklace that captures the bubbly side of Mary Nolan, which is how I'm sure she would have liked to be remembered:)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

OK, Let's Not Lose Our Heads...

Lately the news networks have been blowing up with coverage of the Rupert Murdoch/World News hacking scandals.

I want to state that my cell phone has not been hacked. Which is a good thing because then the whole world would know that I need my husband to pick up a window fan and also that I enjoy sending and receiving pictures of cute baby animals in hats. Scandal!

But, do you know who would have been a huge topic of scandal if she were around today? Anne Boleyn. In fact, she is STILL the subject of a lot of speculation, even to this day. So, here's the lowdown on Anne Boleyn.

  • She met Henry VIII while working in the court of Catherine of Aragon, Henry's then wife.
  • Anne kept her distance from Henry. She didn't want to be the other woman. Also, her sister Mary already had a thing going with Hank. 
  • Anne wasn't exactly charmed by the overbearing, philandering King, but she ultimately relented to his advances.
  • But, she had to wait like 7 years for Henry to obtain that pesky divorce from his current wife. That was a whole other ball of wax....
  • What did she look like? Apparently she had olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes. She stood out in the sea of pasty, faired skinned Anglos at the time. 
  • Haters started a rumor that she had a sixth finger and hideous moles and worts all over her neck. But this is most likely untrue; otherwise, why would Henry be so sprung on her? Even if he was into that, it's cool. Let your freak flag fly, man!
  • She was married to Henry in 1533...which is good because she became pregnant in 1532. People were bad at- or rather, ignored- math back then.
  • Her first pregnancy resulted in a stillborn, but her second pregnancy resulted in the birth of a daughter, who would eventually become Queen Elizabeth I....after a whole bunch of disputes and weird monarchy rules that I still can't comprehend.
  • Henry loved Elizabeth, but he wanted a son. He was convinced that it was Anne's fault that they didn't have  a son (of course).....So, he wanted a divorce. Again. 
  • But, why get a divorce when you can just have your ex-wife tried for treason and executed?
  • She was beheaded in the Tower Green on May 19, 1536. Well, at least no one over-reacted....
Poor Anne couldn't catch a break; but here's your chance to show her some the form of a necklace!
Oh, and use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Cars!

It's so hot in my house right now that I'm trying to think of some errand that I can run that involves me being in my car for a long period of time. Why? Because my car has a good air conditioner. My house does not.
Of course, that's not the most environmentally sound way to cool off, so I'll keep racking my brain for other ways to beat the heat....

In the mean time, here's some facts about cars...Oh, but wait! *cue Gary Numan's song "Cars."* I dare you to try to get that song out of your head now. If you need a reminder of this quintessential 1980's song and delightfully cheesy video, here's the you tube link: . OK, now that you are back from that blast from the past and you have the appropriate soundtrack in your head, here are some car facts (not to be confused with, or infringe on the copyright of Car Facts.):

  • Most American car horns beep in the key of F...Mine beeps in the key of "F U."
  • The automobile is the most recycled consumer product in the world today.
  • The first speeding ticket was issued in 1902. To your mom! (How's that for a "your mom's so old" joke?)
  • Henry Ford did not invent the automobile. Many people were on fast the track to the invention of the automobile before him, but it is usually Karl Benz who gets the credit of the invention of the modern automobile.
  • Car parts invented by women: windshield wipers, electric engine starter and a more efficient carburetor. You are welcome.
  • The first product Motorola started working on was a record player for the automobile. At the time, the most well known record player was a Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola. Honestly, how many of you knew that? I sure didn't.
  • The city with the greatest number of Rolls Royce cars per capita is Hong Kong.
  • The design for the Batmobile was based on a concept car by Lincoln called the Futura.
  • Before the 1920's, cars didn't come with gas gauges so motorists had to guess how much gas they had in left the car. I had a 1973 VW Beetle that worked the same way...
  • Speaking of, the VW Beetle only sold 300 cars during it's first year of sales in the US. Now it is one of the most popular selling cars of all time.
  • One of every 7 cars sold in the US is sold in Southern California. Car-magedon!
  • The NHSA didn't make seat belts mandatory until 1973. What????
  • The German Autobahn, with it's no speed limit, actually has fewer fatalities than US highways. So, do you feel the need? The need for speed?
Can't afford a new car? How about a new car necklace?:
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Monday, July 18, 2011

I Spy.

This blog post is going to be short, because it's too hot in my old Victorian house to be sitting in front of a heat-radiating computer.

So, without any introduction, witty segue, etc., I'm going straight into my blog topic: Mata Hari

She was born Margaretha Zelle in the Netherlands, but moved to the Dutch East Indies after answering an ad from an old man looking for marriage. That was a mistake because the guy turned out to be a total drunken abusive idiot. To escape from her married life, she studied the native Javanese and Hindi dance styles. She created acts that involved "exotic" and barely there costumes. By 1905 she gained notoriety as an exotic dancer and adopted the stage name Mata Hari.

In 1907 she divorced her husband and moved to Paris. Because she was a Dutch subject, she was able to move freely about national borders during the outbreak of the first world war. She began to form relationships with high ranking military officials in Germany, Spain and Belgium. For this reason, the French government accused her of being a spy for the Germans. To save her skin, she agreed to work for the French government. Her first mission was to travel to then neutral Spain and get "close" to some Germans. And she did. But, the French intercepted a check that was written to her from a German bank. She claimed it was for sexual favors and not espionage.

The French didn't quite buy this. Also, they raided her hotel room in Paris and found invisible ink. She claimed it was an antiseptic, but they didn't believe this either. 

In February of 1917, Mata Hari was tried as a spy and executed before firing squad in October of 1917.  Several rumors surround what she did during her execution. Some say she wore a trench coat and flashed the squad (atta girl!). Other rumors state that she blew a kiss to her executioners right before she was fired upon. Whether these rumors are true or not, it makes for a great story.

Here's the deal, though: she was probably not a spy and most likely was innocent. It's actually more likely that she was prostitute at the wrong place and the wrong time. Bummer.

OK, have to go stand in front of our sad, ancient air conditioner as my fingers are starting to melt onto the keyboard. So, here's the necklace: Want it? Buy it at

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Joan of Arc: Badass.

Hey, guess what? Today is Bastille Day. That being said, I think it's appropriate that I continue this Francophile blog stream that I started yesterday with Madame de Pompadour.

And who better to talk about than Joan of Arc, a national and patron saint of France.

Here's the deal; Joan of Arc was pretty much a badass. She was like Samuel Jackson, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan combined. And she was only a teenager.  So here are the facts:

  • Her real name was Jehanne d'Arc, but through the years her name has been bastardized into the English, Joan of Arc.
  • Legend has it that Merlin predicted that France would be saved by a maid from Lorraine. Hey, Joan was from Lorraine...
  • She was around 12-13 when she first started hearing voices from the saints instructing her to save France. When I was 12-13 I heard the voice of Tiffany telling me to feather my hair.
  • The voices told her that she needed to leave home to save France from the invading England. So guess what? At the age of 16, she set out to meet with King Charles VII to convince him to let her fight in the war. Want to know what I was doing at the age of 16? Drinking stolen wine coolers and listening to the Beastie Boys.  So glad I've matured. I pay for my wine coolers now.
  • France was down and out at this point, so King Charles agreed to let her fight. 
  • But, before she could fight, the King had to make sure she was "pure." Yeah. She was physically examined by the ladies of his court to prove she was a virgin. Charming.
  • At the age of 17 she was commanding a part of the French army. Yep. At the age of 17 I was commanding a joint full of shitty weed.
  • Joan broke the siege of Orleans in only 3 days. Thus, she earned the title "The Maid of Orleans."
  • Joan continued to lead the French army in several victories, but is ultimately captured by the English in 1430. 
  • The English held her in 70ft tower, which she attempted to escape by jumping out of. But, they caught her again.
  • At the age of 19 she was tried by the English for heresy and sentenced to death in May of 1431. At the age of 19, I was tried by keg stand in college and sentenced to a hangover.
  • But, good news: she was canonized as a saint in 1920. So, there's that.
Well, I think it's safe to say that Joan of Arc did more in her short 19 years of life than I ever did in my 34 (and still counting, fingers crossed) years....but, I'm guessing that I drank more alcohol than she did. But, I don't think I'll get canonized for that.
Are you as impressed with Joan of Arc as I am? Want a necklace? Here you go:
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This is not a surprising confession, but I am a huge dork. More specifically, I'm a huge history dork. Also, I love time travel. So, it stands to reason that I love Dr. Who (and spin-off, Torchwood). So, when trying to decide what to blog about today, a friend of mine on twitter reminded me of the Dr. Who/Madame de Pompadour episode. And that's how blog topics are born; thank you, @KisavonTeasa!

So here are the quick details of Madame de Pompadour:

For those who don't know, she was the mistress of King Louis XV of France. Her birth name was Jeanne Antoinette Poisson. So how did she get the name "Pompadour?" I'm getting to that.

Apparently, Jeanne Antionette Poisson came out of the womb ready to be a king's mistress. She was beautiful, intelligent- and through the proper schooling- refined. In her youth, her mom took her to see a fortune teller who informed the mother and daughter that Jeanne would steal the heart of a king. Mommy believed the scryer and gave little Jeanne the nickname of "Reinette."

So that still doesn't answer how she became Madame de Pompadour. Be patient. I'm getting to that.

When she reached the proper age, Jeanne was married to the nephew of her guardian (weird) who apparently had BANK. Her new husband, Charles-Guillaume Le Normant d'Etoilles (who we will call Chuck), was infatuated with her. Chuck was so much infatuated with her that he gave her anything she wanted. She even started her own salon (the philosophical type, not the hair type) where she was quickly and easily introduced to French high society.

Enter the court of Louis XV.  See, King Louis had heard of Jeanne and wanted to meet her. His second chief mistress had died, so there was any opening in the "other woman" department. She officially met Louis at a royal masked ball at the Palace of Versailles in 1745. Upon meeting her, Louis was sprung. He hooked her up with an apartment in his palace and within in a few months she legally separated from her husband.

But to be an "official" mistress, she needed a title. Louis went ahead and purchased the marquisate de Pompadour and gave the estate to Jeanne. This is how she earned the title Madame de Pompadour. But, even though she now had a title, a lot of people were bent out of shape that she was technically a commoner. Apparently, it's only cool if the king has an affair with someone of higher status....

But, the Madame de Pompadour did not back down. She quickly became the chief mistress and even created a cordial relationship with the Queen. Now, that's some confidence!  She also made sure that the King always remembered how beautiful she was by having TONS of portraits of herself commissioned.

Oh, and the pompadour hairstyle? Yep, that's named after her. She had a pension for big hair. That little fact makes me giggle a little when I think about all the tough rockabilly guys I know who are rocking a hairstyle named after a French mistress:)

So, want a necklace of Madame de Pompadour? Here you go:

Oh yeah, use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off:)