Saturday, June 26, 2021

Vanessa Marquez on Culture Clash

One of the most overlooked aspects of the career of Vanessa Marquez was that she was a regular on Culture Clash in 1993. For those of you unfamiliar with the TV show Culture Clash, it was a TV show that aired on stations of the Fox Television Network, starring the legendary Chicano comedy troupe of that name. Vanessa really enjoyed her time on Culture Clash, and Culture Clash appreciated her as well. Indeed, since her death Culture Clash has taken part in events to get justice for Vanessa.

Culture Clash certainly allowed Vanessa Marquez to display her considerable talent. She played everything from a little girl reciting poetry to an extremely intelligent game show contestant to a  sexy pizza delivery woman. She particularly shines in the sketch "West Side Story...35 Years Later," which gave her a chance to show off her considerable talent as a singer (Vanessa had a beautiful singing voice).  Vanessa loved playing in that sketch, as West Side Story was her second favourite musical (after The Wizard of Oz).

Vanessa had uploaded a collection of clips featuring her to her YouTube channel in 2009. Just a few days ago the YouTube account "Clasterfan" uploaded another collection of Culture Clash sketches featuring Vanessa (I want to thank LJF Productions for alerting me to this on Twitter). Here then are Vanessa's collection of clips from Culture Clash starring her and Clasterfan's collection of clips from Culture Clash starring her as well. "West Side Story...35 Years Later" appears in both videos. Anyhow, while I am obviously biased, I think you will agree with me that Vanessa had a real gift for comedy.

Friday, June 25, 2021

A Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

I don't usually post personal photos to A Shroud of Thoughts. After all, the blog is dedicated to pop culture, not my personal life. That having been said, I wanted to share this picture I got of a zebra swallowtail butterfly yesterday. I took this picture right after I had received some bad news from a close friend. I find the time it showed up as significant, as I regard butterflies as symbols of hope. Too, butterflies are also significant to me as my dearest Vanessa always said her name meant "butterfly." I cannot see one without thinking of her. Anyway, here is a picture of a zebra swallowtail feeing on our catnip plant.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

William Haines and Jimmie Shields: The Happiest Marriage in Hollywood

Today Williams Haines is not a well-known name, but in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he was one of the best known movie stars. He appeared in such movies as Brown of Harvard (1926), Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928), and A Tailor Made Man (1931). He topped the Quigley Poll, a survey of film exhibitors in 1930 and ranked in the top five box office stars from 1928 to 1932. It was in 1933 that he walked away from his career and never acted again.

William Haines was working as a male model when he was discovered through "New Faces of 1922" contest conducted by Goldwyn Pictures.  He was signed to a $40 a week contract by Goldwyn Pictures. While he had a substantial role in Three Wise Fools (1923), for the most part Mr. Haines found himself stuck in minor roles at Goldwyn Pictures. His next significant role would only come when he was lent to Fox for The Desert Outlaw (1923).

It was in 1924 that Loew's Theatres incorporated acquired Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures and merged the three studios to form MGM. That same year MGM lent William Haines to Columbia for a five picture deal. Columbia was impressed enough by Mr. Haines to make an offer to buy his contract, but MGM refused. William Haines's fortunes at MGM would change. He played a significant role in Little Annie Rooney (1925), starring Mary Pickford. In 1926 he would have another significant role in Brown of Harvard (1926). In fact, Brown of Harvard would establish the course of the rest of his career. It was the first time he would play the type of role for which he was best known, that of the wisecracking, arrogant, young man.

Nineteen twenty-six would prove to be an important year for William Haines in another, perhaps even more important way. It was that year while he made a publicity trip to New York City. While there he met Jimmie Shields. William Haines convinced Jimmie Shields to return with him to Hollywood with the hope of getting work as an extra. The two fell in love and began living together. Although they were clearly committed to each other, the press on the time did not remark on their relationship.

In the meantime, William Haines's career continued to rise. He starred in West Point (1928) and later appeared in The Smart Set (1928). He played opposite Marion Davies in Show People (1928). William Haines successfully made the transition to talkies. His first partially talking film was Alias Jimmie Valentine, which proved to be a success. His first entirely talking film was Navy Blues (1929). Over the next few years he found success in such films as Way Out West (1930), A Tailor Made Man (1931), New Adventures of Get Rich Quick Wallingford (1931), and Are You Listening (1932). 

Unfortunately, as William Haines's career continued to prosper, Hollywood was changing. Virginia Rappe's death in 1921 (of which Roscoe Arbuckle was accused), the murder of William Desmond Taylor, and various other scandals had convinced some across the country that Hollywood was a place of sin and decadence. At the same time, there were those who were growing concerned about the content of movies made at the time. In 1934 the Catholic Legion of Decency, later renamed the National Legion of Decency, was organized in order to identify objectionable material in motion pictures for Catholics. Other religious groups and moral watchdogs also expressed concern over the content of movies being made at the time. Ultimately, the outcry would result in stricter enforcement of the Production Code, bringing the Pre-Code Era to an end in 1934.

Sadly, the moral panic over the content of motion pictures would even have an impact on the personal lives of stars. At the time homosexuality was considered to be immoral. It then in 1933 that Louis B. Mayer gave William Haines a choice. Mr. Haines could continue his career if he entered a lavender marriage, a marriage with a member of the opposite sex meant to conceal the sexual orientation of one or both people involved. If Mr. Haines continued his relationship with Jimmie Shields, then his acting career was over. William Haines chose Jimmie Shields, to whom he regarded himself as being married.

William Haines would appear in Mascot Pictures' Young and Beautiful (1934) and The Marines Are Coming (1934) before giving up acting entirely. William Haines and Jimmie Shields then opened their own interior design firm, at which they proved to be very successful. They worked for such clients as Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Marion Davies, George Cuckor, Jack Warner, and Ronald Reagan. So successful was William Haines Designs that the company continues to exist to this day.

Ultimately, William Haines and Jimmie Shields remained together for 47 years, outlasting many other Hollywood unions. Joan Crawford called Messrs. Haines and Shields's relationship, "the happiest marriage in Hollywood." William Haines died on December 26 1973 at the age of 73 from lung cancer. Jimmie Shields was overcome by grief. It was on March 6 1974 that he took an overdose of sleeping pills, leaving behind a note, "Goodbye to all of you who have tried so hard to comfort me in my loss of William Haines, whom I have been with since 1926. I now find it impossible to go it alone, I am much too lonely."

William Haines and Jimmie Shields were openly gay at a time when it was dangerous to be so. Furthermore, William Haines refused to compromise himself simply to continue his career. Being openly gay was an enormous act of courage at the time. Refusing to give up his relationship in some ways even more so. William Haines was truly a pioneer, and many years ahead of his time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Joanne Linville Passes On

Joanne Linville, who guest starred on such classic TV shows as Studio One, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Columbo, died on June 20 2021 at the age of 93.

Joanne Linville was born on January 15 1928 in Bakersfield, California. She grew up in Venice, California. She worked as an oral surgeon's assistant prior to taking up acting. She danced professionally to help pay the pay for the tuition for her acting classes. She made her film debut in an uncredited part in Copper Canyon in 1950.

She made her television debut in 1954 in an episode of Studio One. She appeared five more times on the anthology series. In the Fifties she also guest starred on the TV shows The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, The Alcoa Hour, Robert Montgomery Presents, Decoy, Suspicion, Matinee Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Kraft Television Theatre, The Investigator, The United States Steel Hour, The Guiding Light, The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen, The Third Man, Playhouse 90, The DuPont Show of the Month, Deadline, CBS Repertoire Workshop, Dow Hour of Great Mysteries, Hotel de Paree, Have Gun--Will Travel, One Step Beyond, Coronado 9, and The Law and Mr. Jones. She appeared in the movie The Goddess (1958).

In the Sixties Joanne Linville appeared on Broadway in Daughter of Silence. She guest starred on the TV shows Checkmate, The Twilight Zone, Adventures in Paradise, Laramie, Bus Stop, The New Breed, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, The Nurses, Sam Benedict, Empire, Route 66, Going My Way, The Defenders, The Dick Powell Show, Naked City, The Eleventh Hour, I Spy, The Fugitive, Shane, Bonanza, The Felony Squad, The Invaders, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Judd for the Defense, The F.B.I., Lancer, The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, and Hawaii Five-O. She appeared in the television movie House on Greenapple Road.

In the Seventies Miss Linville guest starred on the TV shows Medical Center, The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, Columbo, Kojak, The Streets of San Francisco, Nakia, The Blue Knight, Switch, CHiPs, Barnaby Jones, Charlie's Angels, and Mrs. Columbo. She appeared in the TV movies Secrets and The Critical List. She appeared in the movies Scorpio (1973), Gable and Lombard (1976), and A Star is Born (1976).

In the Eighties Joanne Linville guest starred on Behind the Screen, Dynasty, and L.A. Law. She appeared in the TV movies The Right of the People and From the Dead of Night. In 2001 she appeared in the TV movie James Dean. In 2011 she guest starred on the Star Trek fan series Starship Excelsior, reprising her role as the Romulan Commander (who had been promoted to Legate).

It was little wonder that Joanne Linville was a frequent guest star on television shows, as she was a very talented actress. She was well known for playing the Romulan Commander in the Star Trek episode "The Enterprise Incident." On the Bonanza episode she played Maggie Dowling, a woman who thought herself plain with whom a bashful widower is in love. In the Twilight Zone episode "The Passerby" she played a woman whose husband had left her to fight in the American Civil War. In the Columbo episode "Candidate for Crime," Joanne Linville played the wife of senatorial candidate. Joanne Linville played a wide variety of roles throughout her career and she gave a good performance nearly every time.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Announcing the 8th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon

I am proud to announce the 8th Annual Rule Britannia Blogathon, which will take place on September 24, 25, and 26 2021.

While many people think of Hollywood when they think of classic movies, the fact is that the United Kingdom made many significant contributions to film over the years. From the Gainsborough melodramas to Hammer Films to the British New Wave, cinema would be much poorer without the British.

Here are the ground rules for this year's blogathon:
1. Posts can be about any British film or any topic related to British films. For the sake of simplicity, I am using "British" here to refer to any film made by a company based in the United Kingdom or British Crown dependencies. If you want to write about a film made in Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man, then, you can do so. Also for the sake of simplicity, people can write about co-productions made with companies from outside the United Kingdom. For example, since 2001: A Space Odyssey is a British-American co-production, someone could write about it if they chose.

2. There is no limit on subject matter. You can write about any film in any genre you want. Posts can be on everything from the British New Wave to the Gainsborough bodice rippers to the Hammer Horrors. I am also making no limit on the format posts can take. You could review a classic British film, make an in-depth analysis of a series of British films, or even simply do a pictorial tribute to a film. That having been said, since this is a classic film blogathon,  I only ask that you write about films made before 2011. I generally don't think of a film as a classic until it has been around for thirty years, but to give bloggers more options I am setting the cut off point at ten years ago.

3. I am asking that there please be no duplicates. That having been said, if someone has already chosen to cover From Russia with Love (1963), someone else could write about the James Bond series as a whole.

4. I am not going to schedule days for individual posts. All I ask is that the posts be made on or between September 24, 25, and 26 .
If you want to participate in the Rule, Britannia Blogathon, you can simply comment below or get a hold of me on Twitter at mercurie80 or at my email:  mercurie80 at
Below is a roster of participants and the topics they are covering. Come September 24 I will make a post that will include all of the posts in the blogathon:

Realweedgiemidget Reviews: Venom (1981)

A Shroud of Thoughts: Catch Us If You Can (1965)

Films From Beyond the Time Barrier: Night Creatures (1962)

Cinematic Carthasis: The Epic of Everest (1924)

Taking Up Room: Amazing Grace (2006)

Silver Screenings: Fire Over England (1937)

18 Cinema Lane: Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Silver Screen Classics: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

Crítica Retrô: The Fallen Idol (1948)

Dubsism: Dr. Zhivago (1965)

Liberal England: "Children and Bomb Sites in Poast-War Britain"

Caftan Woman: The Lavendar Hill Mob (1951)

Cinema Essentials: The Thirty Nine Steps (1978)

Silver Scenes: The Loves of Joanna Godden ( 1947 )

Below are graphics you can use for the blogathon or you can always make your own!