Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Great Ziegfeld

Here is a movie that, somehow, I had missed seeing.  The Great Ziegfeld (1936) was recently on TCM, so I put it on the DVR.  My wife and I just watched it.  This movie has a huge cast for 1936, and a huge price tag.  It cost $2,000,000 to make, but it took in $40,000,000 and won an Oscar for Best Picture.

No, I won't talk about William Powell, Myrna Loy, or Frank Morgan.  If you are reading a classic movie blog, you already know those names.  Let's look at some smaller parts.

In some very small parts we find Rosina Lawrence (1912 - 1997) and Mae Questel (1908 - 1998) who are both acquaintances of mine.  Rosina played in several Laurel and Hardy films and Little Rascals shorts for Hal Roach.  I attended Sons of the Desert banquets and conventions with her.  A wonderful lady--first class.  Mae was the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl and entertained us at one of the Sons of the Desert conventions.

Look quickly for Vivian Vance (1909 - 1979) in the audience of Anna Held.  It was her second film, and years before "I Love Lucy."  There is also an appearance of William Demarest (1892 - 1983) who has 167 titles on his list, including "My Three Sons."

Another Hal Roach actor in Ziegfeld is Mickey Daniels (1914 - 1970) who was in quite a few of the Little Rascals silent films. 

Nat Pendleton (1895 - 1967) played Sandow the strong man.  Pendleton has over 110 movies on his filmography.  He was in five with William Powell, including the first two Thin Man movies.  He was a strong man in real life and may be the first to display his body as art.  He was an Olympic wrestler for the United States in 1920, winning a silver medal.  In his later career he was in Buck Privates (1941) and Buck Privates Come Home (1947) with Abbott and Costello.

Reginald Owen (1887 - 1972) is cast as Sampston in one of his 142 titles.  Of course, Owen was Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 film, A Christmas Carol.  He was also the captain of the ship in White Cargo (1942) with Hedy Lamarr (1914 - 2000).  That must have been a steamy adventure!

Finally Ray Bolger (1904 - 1987) appears as Ray Bolger; and Fanny Brice (1891 - 1951) appears as Fannie Brice, but is credited as Fannie Brice.  Well, that's what IMDb says.

If you are new to classic films, this one is certainly worth viewing.  You can also catch the incredible staging of the song, A Pretty Girl in That's Entertainment (1974).  Could Ziggy have really done that on a theater stage???


  1. This is one of those great star-studded extravaganzas with so many bit part players providing top-notch support, as you point out. William Demarest is a favorite of mine, never better "used" than in the films of Preston you've got me thinking about "Ziegfeld Girl," also star-studded and I'm sure with its own treasure trove of bit part folks...

  2. You are right, Eve. Ziegfeld Girl (1941) is an Edward Everett Horton film with Mae Busch!

    In my post I failed to mention that Anita Garvin, a friend from Sons of the Desert, was a Ziegfeld Girl, although she wasn't in either of those movies. It is wonderful to hear the stories they can tell of the good old days.

    You can read about Anita by clicking the links to the right.

  3. Glad to see my favorite - Nat Pendleton receive a mention. He was an Olympic Silver Medalist and fine actor. Nat was inducted into Iowa H.O.F. in 2014. He was a Columbia Univ. alumnus


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