“Oh dear God how many library books has he got in here?”
Catching the Twentieth Century Limited back to Classic Hollywood
“Oh dear God how many library books has he got in here?”
Exciting news! (At least to me…) I’m starting a classic movie website I hope to have up and running by summer’s end, and part of that website will be a section devoted to all things Colin Clive, including something of a biography. Which means I have to spend lots of time looking at him and reading about him, but this time with an actual point.
I just started the bio bit today, and here is what I have so far. If anyone has anything to add/correct/comment on in this part, please message me! Thank you!
A Brief, Informal Biography of Colin Clive
Janet Sullivan Cross
Author’s Note: Over the years, I have cobbled together as many facts about Colin Clive as I could, and I continue my quest for more. But much remains shrouded and unknown. In cases where I am substituting guesswork for verifiable fact, I have added footnotes. Also, I have loved this man since I was eight years old. I make no pretense toward objectivity. So there’s that.
Early on the morning of January 20, 1900, Colin Clive (nee Colin Glennie Clive Greig) was born in St. Malo, Brittany, France, to a British Army colonel, Colin Philip Grieg, and his Irish-born wife, Caroline (Daisy) Clive Grieg. He was the oldest of three children; two sisters, Cecily and Audrey, followed in 1902 and 1904.
Colin’s family returned to England when he was very small, and he attended the Convent of the Holy Cross school in Boscombe, Bournemouth. But the move back home didn’t provide any real stability for him or his family. His parents divorced, quite publicly and messily, in 1911, and his mother quickly remarried, decamping for Schenectady, New York, with her second husband, Cecil Johnson, a sculptor who most likely had a teaching engagement in the upstate New York hamlet.(1) Colin’s father was given sole custody of all three children—a legal ruling that was almost unheard-of back then.
When he was 13, Colin left for Lancashire to attend Stonyhurst College, a Catholic boarding school founded in France in 1593, when penal laws forbade Catholic education in England; the college was moved to England in 1794. (Charles Laughton was one of Colin’s classmates, though no word on how well they knew each other.) In addition to academic excellence, Stonyhurst emphasized athletics, and Colin joined the soccer team. (His uncle, John Glennie Greig, was considered the best British cricketer ever to play in India; a picture of him, on the equivalent of a baseball card, shows a lean, lanky build similar to his nephew’s.) But at some point, either on the soccer field or elsewhere, he broke his leg near the knee and spent the better part of a school year in a “bath chair” (a wheelchair with a long, sloping seat, allowing the patient’s legs to be propped up—so named for its resemblance to a bathtub on an angle).
Both sides of Colin’s family were steeped in the military (his mother was a distant relation of Robert Clive, who is credited with securing India for the British), and Colin was headed in that direction himself. Stonyhurst is a bit of a “feeder school” for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which was his next stop. But early on, he shattered what was left of his bad knee in a fall from a horse, which scuttled his plans to join the “family business.”
Whether he was disappointed by this detour, or secretly relieved, or both, is unknown. But he rather quickly turned his sights to the stage, with his father’s reluctant blessing. At age 19, he was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Footnotes: (1) That Johnson was an academic is speculation on my part, as there is a book called “Sculpture,” also written by a Cecil A. Johnson, published around that period, and Union College, a small liberal arts school, is just about the only thing in Schenectady.
Please go. I tell you, I’m going to stay home tonight and read some of these absolutely fascinating books. Read, I tell you!
So don’t even think about ravishing me. Don’t even consider throwing me down on the divan or grabbing me suddenly and sending my ruffles flying all about in a most undignified manner.
Don’t even let it cross your mind to hurl me onto that cushy loveseat over there. Or the big, sturdy wingchair that could easily hold both of us, if we got creative with our legs. Or the soft, woolly Turkish rug. Or one of the lovely rooms upstairs with all the duvets and pillows. No. No, I tell you! I’m merely hungry for a few good, thick books. Which would also make comfy pillows. (Damn, damn, why did I say that?!? Stay focused, woman!)
I Was Going to Reblog That Post Until I Saw Who Wrote It, The Musical.
I Wish Someone Else Would Make That Point Because Oh My God I Loathe You: The Memoir
I’d Follow You But You Reblog Regularly From Someone I Hate, The Novel
Why Would You Talk to That Awful Person, I Thought You Were Quality: an Interpretive Dance
How Can You Love All the Right Movies and All the Wrong Members of Congress: A Street Mime Production
Happy, Happy Father’s Day to my funny, kind, gorgeous, crazy-smart, wonderful Dad. I was trying to describe him to someone once, and I said he was like Atticus Finch with W.C. Fields’ sense of humor.
There’s a line about Atticus in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” when Miss Maudie tells Scout that “there are some people in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.” That was my Dad. The most honest, ethical and courageous guy I ever knew. But also the funniest.
I had him for only 16 years, but remember almost every day of them. Watching “It’s A Gift” every time it was on. Doing the scenes with him. (“How about my kunquats!” “Carl LaFong!” “Which should I get — ipecac or syrup of squill?”) Staying up late to watch old movies with him because my ulcer kept me up.
Reading Bob and Ray routines at the breakfast table. Watching the Mets lose because they didn’t do pretty much what my Dad just told them to do. Taking long walks along the Brooklyn waterfront, and stopping for sodas at the Woolworth’s counter on the way home. Him jumping in between me and whatever dog I was wildly running up to on the street, to make sure I wasn’t about to get my hand chewed off. The two of us just hanging out.
Knowing he was there for me. Always. Against anyone. Against anything Against the world, if it came to that.
The most unfair thing I’ve ever known is that he got only 46 years. I miss him every day. Closure is a myth cooked up by pop psychologists.
Thank you, Dad, for everything. I love you so much, and I always will. I am so proud and happy to be your daughter. ♥
I watched “Summer Stock” again last night — so much fun, so underrated. But I can never get over the sheer awfulness of Judy Garland’s wardrobe. To say nothing of her hair. And let’s do that, okay?
I know she’s supposed to be a hick, but oh my God. I mean, her sister, Gloria DeHaven, is a bumpkin too — but she’s an MGM bumpkin, dammit!! Cute, clingy gingham, adorable eyelets, gay colors, open collars, that sort of thing. But poor Judy!! She’s only three years older than Gloria, but the way they’ve dowdied her down, she might as well be Aunt Eller in “Oklahoma!”
Our first offering, the striped shift, pulls all the colors from the dung palette and dumps them onto one dress. She’s clearly praying that her giant collar will open up and swallow her.
Next come the overalls — and not movie overalls. Actual farmer-wear. But worse, as they seem to have been starched. Meanwhile, Gloria, who presumably grew up on the very same farm, seems to have kicked the shit off her shoes quite nicely, thank you.
Then Judy’s off to feed the chickens, in what appears to be one of those awful no-iron shirts that stand up by themselves when you take them off. Paired with ankle-length stovepipe pants — perfect for a petite woman struggling with her weight. Yes, let’s make her legs look shorter AND heavier! You know you’re in trouble when you’re out-glammed by Phil Silvers. And chickens.
And then, oh, goody, we’re back to ginormous collars again — now with extra bunchiness! With a sparkly twinset-type top — the kind your grandma hauls out of mothballs for special occasions.
The next photo contains a special hint for us ladies: If you ever get the chance to dance with an incredibly divine man like Gene Kelly, always wear your old Brownie uniform. Extra points if it’s ill-fitting!!
Perhaps the most amazing part of this is that the designer was Walter Plunkett, who did the crazy-fun costumes in movies like “Flying Down to Rio” as well as Katharine Hepburn’s insanely fabulous moth dress in “Christopher Strong,” her amazing black evening gown in “Adam’s Rib,” and much of her personal wardrobe. Did he hate Judy?!? Did the MGM brass tell him to make her look as awful as possible, because she was “difficult”? (Um, yeah — after having been plied with uppers and downers by the studio since she was a child. Go figure!)
But finally — FINALLY!! — Judy gets to be Judy in the legendary “Get Happy!” number. Shout Hallelujah indeed!!
Helpful Romantic Tips from Valerie Hobson and Mae Clarke: If your gorgeous man is wounded or exhausted from battling a murderous monster, take advantage of the opportunity to cop some cheap head feels.
So I go up to one of the helpers in our local ginormous home improvement store and ask him where Roofing is. And he does this kind of sweeping gesture like, “Right this way, Madame!” So I follow him down the main corridor, and then I realize he’s just looking up at all the little signs—the ones that say what’s in each aisle.
And we pretty much walk through the entire store till we come to the sign that says “Roofing.” And he says, all thrilled, like Stanley finding Livingstone, “Here it is!” He was so happy and beaming with pride I didn’t have the heart to tell him I pretty much could’ve done that myself.
So before leaving for L.A. last month, I organized a gathering of all my Facebook friends out there, who are also FB friends of one another and who live like, a half-hour apart. And none of them had never met.
They suggested Canter’s Deli as a good spot, because they have big tables and let you hang out all night. Which they did. They even made me a big-ass salad, as I’m a vegan. And the waitress took pix of us with each of our cameras!
Oh my God what a wonderful night! I told them they now have to meet once a month and Skype me in.
(That’s me in front on the right. And that’s my open pocketbook in the foreground. I leave stuff around like that all the time. You’d never know I was a New Yorker.)