Classic Movie Review: Broads from Brooklyn

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Classic Movie Review by Ellen Bunton

(and her eager assistant, Meatball)


A Regular Monthly Feature

  The first Wednesday of the month.

Wednesday January 6 2016

2016   🎉🎈

Broads from Brooklyn

Edythe Marrener, Ruby Stevens, Constance Ockelman, and Margarita Carmen Cansino.  Oh, but you probably knew them as Susan Hayward, Barbara Stanwyck, Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth

Veronica_Lake_ParamountBarbara_Stanwyck_-_early_still Rita_Hayworth-publicity






⁉️ Pop Quiz:‼️

    Can you match names to faces???

Did all actresses from Brooklyn change their names?

Gene Tierney, Clara Bow, Mae West and Lena Horne were named by their parents.

With its large population, New York saw more than its share of new babies, of course.

Nonetheless, that one borough of Brooklyn seems to regularly turn out talented actresses.  Their stories were as different as their names, and though they were in the entertainment field and the public eye for a great deal of their lives, some of their most dramatic times were spent away from the camera.

Susan Hayward (1917-1975) was an Oscar winner for the 1958 film “I Want To Live”.  She made a movie in 1950, called “The Conqueror” whose exterior shots were near an atomic testing site.  Numerous members of the cast later developed cancer including Susan who died of a brain tumor at 57.

Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) worked for over six decades in the industry doing both films and television series.  Yet Barbara’s real drama began at the age of 4 when her mother was knocked off a streetcar, and her father went to work at the Panama Canal and was never heard from again.

Veronica Lake (1922-1973), of the famous peekaboo hairdo, lost her father in a work accident when she was 10.  Her struggles with mental illness and alcoholism definitely contributed to her shortened life.

Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) was dancing professionally with her Spanish-born father when she was 12.  She would later dance with Fred Astaire and become known as “The Love Goddess”.  Married five times including once to Prince Aly Khan, what her family thought was alcoholism turned out to be Alzheimer’s Disease and she was cared for by her daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Khan who is now president of Alzheimer’s Disease International.

Gene Tierney (1920-1991) Studio_publicity_Gene_Tierneywas named after an uncle and came from a well to do family.  She spent some time in school in Switzerland and her best known film is the 1944 classic  “Laura”.  Her real life drama began when a fan with rubella (German measles) got out of her sick bed to see Gene in person.  Gene was  unaware of the girl’s illness and the baby was born severely disabled and needed life-long care.  Agatha Christie’s book “The Mirror Crack’d…..” told a similar story in which the fan years later told the movie star of her sick bed escape and she suddenly realized that the fan’s contact with her caused the disability.  In Christie’s book and in the movie, the fan was murdered. That didn’t occur with Gene, yet most of the industry had known what had happened for years.

Clara Bow (1905-1965) was known as the “It” girl after appearing in a silent film of the same title.  Clara was always perky and energetic and she made a successful transition to sound pictures.  Clara_Bow_1927Yet when she was a child, the family moved 14 times and when she was a teenager her mother fell from a two story window and suffered severe head trauma.  Clara had to care for her.  She had to be a mother to her mother.

Lena Horne (1)

     Lena Horne (1917-2010) had a beautiful voice and a face to match.  She lived to be 92 and stayed active in a career spanning over 70 years.  When she was 3 her father left and she traveled with her mother who was an actress with a black theatre troupe.  Later she had to overcome racial bigotry in films and was blacklisted during the Red Scare of the 1950s.  However, she never gave up, actually becoming very active in the Civil Rights movement.



Any commentary on Broads and Brooklyn can’t leave out Mae West who I wrote about in my December 1 post.

Click on “December 1 post” to go straight to that review

Though some were born into poverty, some into higher society, some lived a long time, others too short, behind all the make-up and make believe they were real women with very real problems and pain that couldn’t be solved with a script rewrite.

I’ll always remember those



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One Response to "Classic Movie Review: Broads from Brooklyn"
  1. Alison Daniels says:

    This was fascinating — I know something of the lives of all these actresses but did not know they were all born in Brooklyn. Several of my favorites too. Always look forward to this column’s observations and photos!

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