Thursday, August 28, 2008

Should never have played Dracula

Hi Kiddies. Another in a long line of Celebrity meeting stories for you. Many years ago, when I was the friend and convention planner for Robert "Pop" Shayne, He mentioned that his friend and fellow actor Francis Lederer was teaching dancing-acting at a local Jr. Theatre. That actor's name conjured up one of my favorite monsters, Count Dracula! Mr. Lederer played the Count in THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958). He reprised that role in the terrific Night Gallery episode, THE DEVIL IS NOT MOCKED (1971). I asked pop if he could arrange a meeting. He of course was glad to oblige. It was during the summer of 1990. I was in North Hollywood and stopped in at Mr. Lederer's studio. He sat in a director's chair and was instructing several young girls dressed in ballerina outfits. They took a break and I introduced myself. As the girls milled about, Mr. Lederer showed great interest in the rolled poster tucked under my arm. I unfurled it, and when he saw it was the one sheet to RETURN OF DRAC. he immediately uttered, "Oh God! That one!". He quickly signed it and asked me to roll it back up before the kids could view it. I then had him sign a copy of the re-pro painting to the Night Gallery episode he was in. I complimented him on his various roles and he smiled broadly as the break was ending. We shook hands and I headed for my car. I excitedly drove off, knowing that the man who was in one of my favorite films and one of my favorite t.v. episodes as well had left his mark on my movie/t.v. paper. I did not see what he wrote on the one sheet, until arriving back home. There at the bottom of my valued poster is written: "Dear John, Should NEVER have played Dracula. Francis Lederer". I have always appreciated that movie, and now enjoy it more with every viewing. For there on that screen is an eerie, spooky, magnetic performance by an actor who thought it was below his talents.... I guess. I never had a chance to ask him what he meant by that writing. Mr. Lederer passed away in 2000 at the age of 100! And what exactly does that picture of Lon Chaney Jr. as Dracula about to pounce on lovely Louise Allbritton have to do with this movie star meeting memory? In the words of Mr. Lederer.......

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tom & Jerry vs.Cinemascope

When the studios of M.G.M. and Hannah Barbera were faced with that dreaded t.v. in the 50's, The decision to make cartoons in the new Cinemascope process, caused the publicity department to dream up this great Tom & Jerry one sheet. Un-like most of the cartoon one sheets put out by the M.G.M. art department, this poster has characters that really look like themselves! You should see what passed for acceptable on some of these.