I recently took a road trip with Dad and Duke. Dad is David J. Wiandt, my father. Duke is Ken Lahmers, editor of the Aurora Advocate. Lately, Duke’s been writing about Sunday drivers, eating in diners, and trains. Our trip, navigated by Duke, driven by yours, was to see the boyhood home of Clark Gable in Hopedale and the site of of his birth home in Cadiz. We had a good time. Duke more than adequately described the trip in his column, Kaleidoscope. Go here. While in Cadiz, we toured a collection of coal mining equipment. Above is Duke and Dad in front of a big dragline bucket. (Our trip started in Kent and ended in Cadiz.)
Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category
I saw a movie Friday night called “Go For Broke,” starring Van Johnson. It was a good, old-fashioned World War II movie with a twist — it was about a regiment of all Japanese Americans. Released from relocation camps that were out West, these were volunteers who fought for the U.S. against Germany. Very interesting. It was based on a true story. I never knew America put Asians in concentration camps here in America after Pearl Harbor. They were called “relocation camps” but there were prisons. No one was screened, everyone who basically had slanted eyes were rounded up and locked away. I don’t know how long. I saw it on Time Warner’s free movies on demand under TCM. They have other movies, unless they changed them, that depict Asians on screen. “Bad Day at Black Rock” is another one. Although there are no Asians in the movie, there is talk of a Japanese man and of the relocation camps.
I love this record album art. Sorry I couldn’t scan the top, but the illustration by Pete Hawley graced the dust jacket for “Walt Disney’s Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.” (Click on it for a larger view.) I think it’s beautiful, and although I’ve yet to learn about the man, I’ve appreciated his work for some time. I plan to post more of it later.
Yes, Charlton Heston, lived for a short time in Alliance. That was mentioned here before. Since writing that post April 9 I was able to find a file I made while working at The Alliance Review. The folder contained several photocopies of articles and photos, some notes, a letter and a clipping of the final story I wrote on Heston’s local ties.
The project started when I received a handwritten letter from Blanche Oyster in August 2001. She wrote that she went to school with Heston at Freedom School. “We were in the fifth grade together,” she said, “and I have a school picture to prove it.” Oyster said the photo was taken by Dimit Bros. Studios in 1935, but the note board in the picture is dated May 18, 1934. Of the picture, Mrs. Oyster wrote, “Needless to day it’s a keepsake.”
I went to Mrs. Oyster’s house in Alliance and she showed me the photo. There standing in the back row, fourth from the right, was little Chuck Heston. The handwritten identification on the back of the photo read “Charleton ‘Charles’ Heston.” On a side note, Saturday I watched an interview with Heston who told his interviewer, Robert Osborne, who addressed him as “Mr. Heston,” to call him “Chuck.” He added that he should not call him Charlie. “Only my wife calls me Charlie,” he said.
Heston was born Charles Carter. His parents divorced, and when he was 10 his mother married Charles “Chet” Heston, an Alliance native. Although the actor had used the name Heston since he was a child, it is not know if he was ever adopted by his stepfather.
For my story which ran Nov. 15, 2001, I also talked to Don Flitcraft, a relative of the Hestons who has since passed away. In researching Heston’s Alliance connection, I found some information in his autobiography, “In the Arena.” I also went to Rodman Public Library and looked at a couple articles that came out in the Review in 1960 when Heston won the best-actor Oscar for “Ben Hur.” The first article was on his acting debut as a fourth-grader in Alliance. It included a 1933 photo of the fourth-grade class at Freedom School, and a close-up of a young Charlton Heston. Or so it seemed.
The second article included portions of a letter Heston sent to the Review seeking to make a clarification that the boy pictured in the paper was not him. It seems the photo was taken in 1933, a year before Heston arrived in Alliance (my story says he came in 1935, but that has to be an error). Although the boy who was thought to be Heston, later identified as Merle Roose, resembled him somewhat in the face, the clothing was very different. Roose had bib-top overalls on and Heston was wearing a suit and tie.
Heston looked like a leading man even back then.
George Raft had some pretty good roles, often playing a gangster or a jaibird. He played a few honest characters, too, and was always good at whatever part he played. There’s a book out called “George Raft: The Man Who Would Be Bogart” (Bear Manor Media) by Stone Wallace. I found this on TMC.com.
I always liked George Raft. He was a Warner Bros. gangster, along with Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. He looked like a real gangster, tough but without the disfiguring scars. A little on the flabby side, he appeared to be living the good life of a successful crime boss.
Giving him a notorious reputation were reports he associated with a real gangster, Bugsy Siegel. On a side note, it was believed Frank Sinatra also associated with organized crime, but that seem to hurt him. Whether he had connections may be true. After all, Frank sang, “I did it my way.” I’m no expert on either Raft or Sinatra.
Raft was the first movie gangster to stand on a corner and continuously toss a coin in the air and catch it, a bit that was imitated in movies and cartoons. The book’s title alludes to the fact Raft turned some roles that help make Bogart a superstar. I can’t picture Raft in any of Bogie’s famous roles, but that is only because Bogie made them his own. I don’t think “The Maltese Falcon” would be the classic it is today if Raft had played Sam Spade.
But who knows. Raft could have put his own brand on the movie and made it a hit just the same. Doing it his way.
I shouldn’t wait too long to pay tribute to Charlton Heston. Over the weekend, in the midst of my musings on classic ape movies, the star of “Planet of the Apes” passed away. Along with playing the astronaut Taylor in the that world turned upside down by simian domination, Heston was known far and wide for his roles as Ben Hur, Moses, John the Baptist, and the Voice of God.
More importantly, Heston was a moral and strong-willed person. He stood up for what was right and as far as I know never compromised. Maybe you didn’t agree with his views on guns, but there was more to him than the NRA and defending the Second Amendment. Something I never knew is Heston marched with Martin Luther King Jr. (Read more in this column by Chuck Colson.)
Many people in Alliance do know, however, that Heston lived there a brief time when he was child. A larger-than-life invidualist, he came from humble beginnings. The following appeared in The Alliance Review Monday:
Charlton Heston briefly lived in Alliance in 1934, attending South Freedom Elementary School and living on East Milner Street.
According to an Alliance Review article following Charleston’s win as best male actor for his role in “Ben-Hur” in 1959, Heston’s cinematic career began when he received a role in a fourth-grade play in the few brief months he lived in Alliance.
In the article published in 1960, Mrs. Ross Haines recalled Heston as a child in a grade 4-A class in 1934. Harry O. Wheaton, who was a playmate of Heston’s, recalled that Heston was known as a good checkers player in those days.
My wife must really love me. Not only did she DVR the original “King Kong” for me tonight, but she let me watch the last half hour when I got home after a long day. She even said, “I recorded this for you, so you’ll watch it later, right?” but went ahead and left it on. For her to sit on the couch with me while an old ape movie is on, and while I’m reciting lines, making jokes and going, “Oh, man, what a cool movie!” — it’s gotta be love. And I really needed that kind of escape at the end of a Monday. Did you know that Jean Harlow and Joel McCrea were originally considered for the leading roles of Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll? That’s what TCM’s Robert Osborne said.