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Saturday, 11th October 2008

Buddy Rogers

Ogdens Shots From the Films: 33. Buddy Rogers, Mary Brian, W.H. Berry in Once in a Million

I n April 1999 Buddy Rogers died at the age of 94. Known as 'America's Boyfriend because of his screen persona, with him dies another link with Hollywoods early history.

Born Charles Rogers on Aug 3rd 1904 in Olathe, Kansas he had the sort of upbringing associated with a judge for a father and a sunday school teacher for a mother.

His first love was for music and played drums and brass in dance bands as a student at Kansas University.

A friend took it upon themselves to send in a photo of Charles into Paramount and he was picked to go to their School of Stars and screen tests showed him to have romantic lead potential.

HIs first film role was 'Fascinating Youth' 1926 where his dark good looks ensured good reviews. His career was at the transition of silent to sound but Buddy had a fine singing voice which eased his transition into the new medium.

He was later to bring a court action against a wrestler that called himself Buddy Rogers. This was one the grounds that in naming himself Buddy Rogers the wrestler threatened his image as a 'cultured well-mannered gentleman of great personal character and integrity.'

He was to prove popular in early roles playing next to Nancy Carroll. This screen partnership ran for five films between 1928-1930.

It was the year previous to this, 1927 that made such an impact on Buddy. This was the year he first met Mary Pickford, 'America's Sweetheart' in 'My Best Girl'. This was to be Mary's last silent movie. Buddy (22) developed a crush on Mary (33), wife of Douglas Fairbanks, almost instantly. The chemistry between the two was obvious to the crew and Fairbanks even decided it prudent to visit the set.

1927 was also the year Buddy appeared in 'Wings' the First World War action picture which took the first best picture in the first Oscar ceremony. In this film Rogers was competing with Richard Arlen for the attentions of Clara Bow. Rogers also considered this his favourite film.

The director Willian Wellman was determined to ensure realism and the flying scenes were filmed in the air. Footage was obtained by strapping cameras to the wings. Buddy learnt to fly solo but the first scenes were managed by the pilot (Hoyt Vandenberg) ducking below eyeline when necessary.

Rogers was to play an aviator, once again for Wellman, in 1930 with 'Young Eagles' In this film he was playing opposite Jean Arthur.

By 1931 Roger's growing relationship with Pickford meant he was no longer welcome at Pickfair, the house that Pickford and Fairbanks built in Hollywood and named so well. Until that time he had been a regular visitor. This was to continue until 1936 when Mary and Douglas were divorced and a year later Buddy and Mary were married and he moved into Pickfair.

The following years Mary devoted more and more of her time to her job as Vice-President of United Artists (the studio she co-founded) and also was working on the running of her own cosmetics business. It was also a time when Buddy was having more musical success than film success. He toured America extensively with his band, California Cavaliers, featuring Mary Martin (vocals) and Gene Krupa (drums).

In 1942 Rogers became a flying instructor with the Navy air corps.

His return to Hollywood saw his roles in short supply and increasingly he devoted himself to Mary and the bringing up of his two adopted children.

Over the years Mary had been buying up the rights to her old films with the intention of ensuring they were never seen again. She had a real fear people would laugh unkindly at her work but Buddy did us all a service when in the early 1970's he persuaded her to re-release them.

He was also instrumental in making sure prints of all her films were preserved in the Library of Congress.

After the death of Mary Pickord, Rogers moved out of the main house of Pickfair and was to remarry, Beverley Ricondo, a real estate agent, in 1981.

Cyril Washbrook

This month also sees the death of Cyril Washbrook, cricketer for Lancashire and England. Like so many cricketers of his generation his career was disrupted by the Second World War. However either side of the war years he was a force to be reckoned with on the cricket field.

Cyril Washbrook was born in Barrow, Lancashire on Dec 6, 1914. (One of these birthdates is wrong, see card).

At age 18 he came too the notice of Lancashire when he was playing a match against Surrey. He became Lancashire's youngest century maker scoring 152 against Surrey.

Tommy Higson, the Chairman, called to see him afterwards and congratulate him. However the praise was not allowed to go to the young Cyril's head because the next comments concerned his attire. His cap should be worn straighter and the fact he had a coloured belt on was also noted.

Details from Card
In 1933, when eighteen, Cyril Washbrook scored 152 against Surrey, and two years later he averaged 45.36 for an aggregate of 1724, including his highest innings - 228 at Oxford. Bad patches have hindered his progress but, after opening the 1937 season poorly, Washbrook showed such consistent form that he had appeared for England in the last Test Match against New Zealand. Altogether he made 1546 runs average 42.94. Strong and venturesome, he usually scores fast by well-executed strokes all round the wicket; drives and cuts give high character to his cricket. Very quick in the field, he excels either near the wicket or in the deep. Born January 6th, 1915.
Players, Cricketers 1938.

The advice was partially taken with the removal of the belt but the hat resolutely retained its angle.

In such conditions it might not be a surprise to anyone that Washbrook took a while to make an impact on the Lancashire team.

The simple fact was there were a great many very good players in the side at that time and Harry Makepeace, the coach of the day, might not have entirely agreed with the, comparitively, relaxed thinking of Washbrook.

Lancashire were to win the Championship in 1934 but Washbrook did not play a major role in this achievement. But things changed in 1935 when for the first time he topped 1000 runs in a season. A feat he was going to repeat some 19 additional times.

In 1937 he got his first test cap and surely there were more to follow but the war was to disrupt all that.

The war was to rob Cyril of six prime summers but unlike many he did return as was able to play once more.

Cyril was soon in the Test side once more when he partnered Len Hutton in 1946. This was also the year he achieved 1000 runs in July. In 1947 he was to add 2662 runs to his overall total which included 11 centuries at an average of 68. Such was the strength of English cricket these feats were over-shadowed by Compton & Edrich.

Hutton and Washbrook opened the England attack in 31 test matches and 8 times they posted three figure partnerships and on two occassions in successive innings.

The finest scoring achievement of the partnership was in Johannesburg in 1948-9 when they scored 359 runs in 310 minutes, which stands as an English record

As an opening partnership they perhaps are second only to Hobbs and Suttcliffe which is a partnership never likely to be equalled let alone beaten.

In 1948 in his testimonial match against Australia (the team Captain being a one, Sir Don Bradman) some 50,000 people came to watch and earned him around 14,000 pounds - a record which stood for many years.

By 1956 Washbrook retired and became a selector. He had not actually played a test match for 5 years but England were in need of some steady batting against Australia at Headingley and arrived at the crease with England struggling on 17 for three but shared a 187-run partnership with Peter May before finally falling to Richie Benaud for 98.

Washbrook made a grand total of 2569 test runs, averaging 42 in his 37 tests.

In his cricket career career spanning from 1933 to 1964, he scored 34,101 runs

English cricket will miss Cyril Washbrook

Rory Calhoun

Kane Film Stars [1955] 3. Rory Calhoun

This month also sees the death of the American film star Rory Calhoun at the age of 76.

He was to appear in over 100 limited budget Westerns (titles like, Apache Terror, gives you an idea).

His most enduring fame is probably going to be as the gun-slinger, Big BIll Longley, in 'The Texan'

Calhoun was born in Los Angeles, Aug 8, 1922 with the name Francis Timothy Durgin.

It was an upbringing without much spare cash, he was brought up by his mother and step-father.

The young Francis could often be found the wrong side of the law but this changed under the guidance of a priest whilst he was being allowed to reflect on his foolish ways in juvenile prison.

Before he got into films he had a variety of jobs and it was in 1943 that he was first introduced to the film industry.

He was riding in the hills when he happened upon a fellow and in Francis own words:

"I met this fellow up in the hills and stopped to talk. He asked me if I was an actor. 'Hell, no!' I replied. We talked some more and he asked, 'How would you like to be in films?'"

The other man was Alan Ladd who was doing big things with RKO at the time.

This led to a period of work although things were only bumping along until he signed up with agent, Henry Willson. This was a man well able to create stage-names that did the trick. Roy Scherer Jr had stepped into his offices and come out Rock Hudson.

His career was Westen dominated apart from the role in How To Marry a Millionaire.

In 1958 he starred in 'The Texan' which clearly wanted to ride the wave of success enjoyed by such shows as Rawhide and Gunsmoke. This it did for 3 years making Calhoun and his horse, Domino, a star

This success on the small screeen brought some life back into the big screen roles and for a few years 1960-1962 he appeared in some good productions.

Roles become harder to find and so Calhoun turned his hand to producing.

In 1970 his wife divorced him citing 79 seperate cases of infidelity.

Calhoun continued to appear in B-Movie, 'Motel Hell' gives you an idea but in case it doesn't. This is the one where he serves up unwary travellers as smoked meat to other guests.