Robert Montgomery died on this day, September 27th, in 1981. That is 35 years ago. A short period of time looking back as a senior. A lifetime and more for a youth. He was 76, a decent lifespan for a man of his time, but it is sad the cancer that ended his life forced him to spend his final weeks in a hospital in Manhattan. Not the death one wishes. The country squire he had become would have imagined, hoped for a peaceful death at his beautiful estate with his family in attendance. It would have been a more fitting death for the man. But even Mr. Montgomery could not control his final destiny.
View of the estate from the terrace of Bob's final home, Hollow Brook in the Canaan Valley, CT.
In the April, 1982 issue of Architectural Digest, good friend Brendan Gill wrote an article on Robert, which ends with the following tribute.
"For a conservative Republican from an old family, Montgomery possessed a rather moody restlessness of spirit. At a certain point as he grew older, nothing would do but that he and Buffy sell the Hook Pond property and move on to new adventures --- a summer place on the water in North Haven, Maine, and in winter a beautiful ancient farmhouse in the Canaan Valley in northwestern Connecticut. It was here in 1981, a short drive from the family house overlooking the Hudson at Fishkill, NY (where he was born), that Montgomery died. "
A portion of the main residence at Hollow Brook.
"He had played many roles in his lifetime, off-camera and on-; the slender playboy of Our Blushing Brides had become a no-longer-slender country squire, but the grace of the performer remained what it had always been: a prompting to merriment, an occasion for applause."
You are missed Mr. Montgomery. The smile. Ah, yes, the smile. Thanks for sharing.
What is not to like about Walter Pidgeon. Born in Canada on September 23, 1897, Walter had a very successful career in movies, beginning in 1926 and lasting into the mid 1970s. The movie that solidified his role as a leading actor was Mrs. Miniver (1942), for which he received an academy Best Actor nomination.
With co-star Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver (1942)
In 1948 he co-starred with Clark Gable, another movie which is a favorite of mine. Walter gave another excellent performance, as did the entire amazing cast of Van Johnson, Charles Bickford, John Hodiak, Brian Donlevy, Edward Arnold, Marshall Thompson, Cameron Mitchell, Clinton Sundberg, Ray Collins, Warner Anderson and John McIntire. Guess one has to give credit when it's due to the director, Sam Wood. (And, in my opinion, it has one of the best performances of Mr. Gable's career, up there with Rhett in GWTW and Gay in The Misfits.) Gosh, if you have not seen this before, do give it a try ... and the same for Mrs. Miniver. Walter as Clark Gable's boss in Command Decision (1948)
By the way, Walter began his theatrical career as a singer! So, of course, he begins his movie career in the silents. His earliest talkies were musicals, for one of which this photo was taken. The magazine article that featured it was titled, "He has the Girls Gasping!" Love it.
Ran across this 1930s Italian magazine a while back. That's Madge Evans with Bob on the front cover, as well on the back. (Please excuse the images being truncated. I really do need a larger size scanner!) There are any number of magazines from England with Bob on the cover, as well as a good number of French and Spanish publications. His image does not grace too many Italian magazines.
The magazine is not just a fan mag, but covers items of general interest. For instance, what's an Italian magazine of the 1930s without stirring photos of Benito Mussolini, "Il Duce." Bob and Madge wrapped around a fascist dictator ... difficult for me to grasp that concept. Can't imagine that Bob was pleased.
I just have to smile every time I think of Robert Benchley. A funny, funny man. He graced two of Bob's movies: Live, Love and Learn (1937) and Piccadilly Jim (1936). This photo was taken in 1944, a year before his death at the young age of 56. One too many martinis.
Robert Benchley b. Sept. 15, 1899; d. Nov. 21, 1945.
I was perusing eBay one day and came across this photo. It was taken on the set of Possessed (1931), starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. Nifty photo with all the lights, puddles of water on the 'street', the cameraman on a crane setting up a shot. What caught my eye was the gent in the polo outfit with his back to the camera. It's our Bob!
And how do I 'know' it's him, you may ask, since the vendor did not have anymore data on the still but the name of the movie. Well .... 1) Possessed began filming Sept. 21st. Bob has returned to Los Angeles after his summer break, filming of Private Lives would begin soon. So, Bob is both in town and not busy with filming his own movie. 2) He was quite interested in cameras and all aspects of filming movies, so his observing a scene being setup on an MGM set would not be out of the ordinary. 3) Both Bob and Clark played polo during this period of time. The two leaving the studio for or returning from a game together would be a possibility. And 4), that's Bob's polo outfit! The long camel-haired jacket with the large upturned collar and riding boots was de rigueur for polo enthusiasts, an outfit worn often by Bob ... he looked so darn good in it.
And what caught my eye initially ... those long skinny legs, narrow shoulders, the hairline and side burn ... quite simply it is Bob!! At least I'm 98% sure it is! What do you think? Anyone know for sure? Do let us know. Meanwhile, I'll just enjoy the rather nifty photo.
On September 11, 2001, 2,977 innocent people were killed and 6,000 injured in the most horrendous terrorist attack in history. Among those killed were 411 emergency workers, who gave their lives assisting others. It is almost incomprehensible that man can be so evil, so uncaring about other humans. So many people to mourn, so many grieving family members and friends to console. But remember we must. "Remember those once lost, ... for no matter what the cost, they live inside you and me."
The man simply dressed well. And always the white shoes as the key element of his sporting outfits. Did he set aside entire rooms for his wardrobe? Pity the poor soul responsible for keeping those white bucks clean!
Clark Gable and Bob skeet shooting c. 1934
Bob playing lawn tennis at his rental estate in England in 1940
Bob and Buffy take the yacht to Naples, FL in 1955
Richard Arlen was born Sylvanus Richard Van Mattionore in St. Paul, Minnesota. Mr. Arlen was not known for his acting chops, but he did keep busy in the movies and television from the 1920s to the 1960s. His most significant role was in Wings (1927), wherein he competes with Buddy Rogers for the love of Clara Bow.
It is quite obvious why the young Mr. Arlen made it in the movies. I mean, just look at that amazingly handsome face ...
Richard Arlen, b. September 1, 1899, d. March 28, 1976 (age 76)