ROYAL DANO, as ‘Corey’ in Johnny Guitar.(John Carradine in background.)

ROYAL DANO (1922- 1994).Tall (6′ 2″), usually gaunt, care-worn, with a hang- dog expression and a deep, sonorous voice.

However  small the role, Dano stood out. Some actors have presence and he was one of them. Always solid support to the stars of a film, he inhabited his characters with pathos and believability.

Royal Dano ( his  real name and  isn’t it memorable) played Abraham Lincoln on television in 1952, and in 1964 became the voice of Lincoln at Disneyland.

The vinyl record talks about the “authentic, sincere, almost homespun quality of Dano’s voice….”


The above shot is from SADDLE THE WIND, in which he is memorable as the Civil War veteran  who stands up to Robert Taylor’s villainous brother,John Cassavetes.


Not much of a role for Royal in BEND OF THE RIVER. He and Harry Morgan back Arthur Kennedy in the confrontation with the settlers.


Dano’s films were mainly westerns, so it was a nice surprise to see him in a modern role in CRIME OF PASSION, as a fellow police officer of Sterling  Hayden. ( Above with Hayden and Barbara Stanwyck.)


Another shot from Crime Of Passion.



A soulful, sensitive face. As one of Scott Brady’s gang in JOHNNY  GUITAR, his character, the sickly Corey,  was a sharp contrast to Ernest Borgnine.


Moby Dick

Another small but memorable part as the ‘prophet’ Elijah in MOBY DICK who warns Richard Basehart not to join Ahab’s voyage.

Dano was very active, mainly in television up to 1990, appearing in nearly every TV western of the time.


Royal’s son pre -deceased him by just 3 months.

A fine actor who probably deserved bigger roles. Another of the great supporting actors Classic  Hollywood was famous for.

Imagine Royal Dano and John Qualen on screen, saying nothing , but looking at us the way only they can, plus Julie London singing ‘Cry Me A River’ in the back ground. No, it’s too much!

Anthony Mann, Royal Dano, Gary Cooper.MAN OF THE WEST





Jack Elam had two days work on HIGH NOON as Charlie,  the town drunk. I doubt he realised it would become a classic.

What I didn’t know was that Jack’s role was intended to be slightly bigger.  As he tells it,

I got two days work, and there was about half a day with Cooper and me. What a gentleman he was…..there was a full minute of me in the bar doing the drunken clown act – they were going to cut back and forth between me and the gunfight.” 

Jack Elam, Gary Cooper

Jack’s only scene in the film, as Kane releases him from jail.


Jack Elam in the cut scene. all alone in the saloon,helping himself.

Apparently, shooting had finished, but after editing and the first print, it was decided to resume filming with new cast member Elam.

Lee Van Cleef

This was Lee Van Cleef’s first film, and although he didn’t have any dialogue, his presence was powerful. The whole gang made you understand the town’s fear – Robert Wilke, Sheb Wooley and Ian MacDonald (as Frank Miller). Some fans thought the part of Miller should have gone to a more well known actor, but Macdonald was fine.


Sheb Wooley, Ian MacDonald,Lee Van Cleef, Robert Wilke.


The quality of High Noon proves that a big budget isnt always necessary to produce a first class film. Gary Cooper must have liked the script and been aware of director Fred Zinnemann’s talent. Cooper didn’t take his usual big salary, instead opting for a share of the profits. No way could he have thought the part would win him a second Oscar.


The film was shot in 4 weeks, helped no doubt by Zinnemann’s extensive use of storyboarding.

Tex Ritter, in my opinion, owns that song, ‘Do Not Forsake Me,Oh My Darlin’ ‘. Written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, Tex sang it the night of the Oscars when it won Best Song. The tune, the lyrics, the orchestration – and that Southern drawl of Ritter’s makes it well nigh perfect. As is Tiomkin’s entire score.

Tex Ritter



By the way, Jack Elam , before he got into acting, was an auditor in Hollywood, but had an eye problem that caused him to look for other work. I saw an interview he did in 1987 with David Letterman. If only it had been someone like Leonard Maltin asking the questions because Jack was ready to talk.  Letterman didn’t have a clue.


That fantastic shot near the start of the film.

Kudos to cinematographer Floyd Crosby who lensed High Noon. This seems to have been the most well known film Crosby worked on. He also filmed Shack Out on 101 and The Old Man and the Sea.





James Cagney, Doris Day, Cameron Mitchell. LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME


Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, George Cukor.THE PHILADELPHIA STORY


Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, John Huston THE ASPHALT JUNGLE.


Gloria Grahame, Glenn Ford, Fritz Lang. HUMAN DESIRE.


ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn.

I think  that ‘s director William Keighley on the right – he was replaced by Michael Curtiz.


Joan Crawford, Michael Curtiz.MILDRED PIERCE


Clark Gable, Susan Hayward.SOLDIER OF FORTUNE

Looks like a publicity still being photographed.


David Niven, Garson Kanin, Ginger Rogers BACHELOR MOTHER.


Irene Dunne as Magnolia on the Cotton Blossom ( top right) SHOW BOAT

I think that’s director James Whale standing at the pole and pointing .


Cary Grant , Leo McCarey?, Deborah Kerr.AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

I guess the  little side table has to be a certain height, hence the blocks beneath it.

Farewell to a friend

A dear friend ,Ken Sephton died in March this year. Our friendship lasted over 40 years, despite living 400 miles apart.

In the days before the Internet and emails, we exchanged letters weekly. He wasn’t interested in computers and we continued corresponding through the mail.

We always met up on my many London visits and he loved reminiscing  about his early years in London – and he had a great memory. Ken often sketched stars when he met them ( and had them signed.) He would often show them to me and tell me of the circumstances of the meetings.

Ken lived in London from the late 1940s and he saw and met so many stars, I hope you will enjoy, as I did, some of his wonderful experiences.

Ken once jotted  down for me details of one of his first trips to London in 1947 (He was about 20 at the time.)

…..At Noel Coward’s last night of “Present Laughter” at the Haymarket – Noel made a speech.

…….Saw “Oklahoma” with Howard Keel at Drury  Lane.

……..Spoke to Picturegoer’s Hollywood correspondent,W.H.Mooring at the Strand – matinee of”Ever Since Paradise”, with Roger  Livesey.

………Saw Rita Hayworth leave the Savoy hotel.

……….Matinee of “Voice  of the Turtle”, with Margaret Sullavan and Wendell Corey. In the evening, Dolores Gray in “Annie Get Your Gun.”


Ken met and talked to Marlene Dietrich many times:

Once, at the stage door,  she laughed and joked, even sitting on the roof of her car, cheerfully showering postcards of herself at the adoring fans.”


When Frank Sinatra’s career was at a low ebb in 1951, Ken went to see him in Clapham at a concert he gave in a half empty cinema:

I felt so sorry for him at this period.”


Ken attended many London film premieres. He saw Greer Garson and Errol Flynn arriving at the Odeon Marble Arch for “The Forsyte Saga”. Ann Sothern and Rosalind Russell arrived together. ( It was  a Royal Film Performance.)

Rosalind Russell, Ann Sothern


For the Royal premiere of THE MUDLARK, at the Empire,Leicester Square, Ken had a ticket:

I entered behind June Haver , with flash bulbs popping. I stood in the foyer to watch others arrive – Vera Ellen, Tyrone Power ( with his wife Linda Christian), Montgomery Clift with Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich with Michael Wilding, Bebe and Ben Lyon.

I watched Irene Dunne and Claudette  Colbert descend the elegant staircase, arm in arm, after their presentation to the royal party.”

I am grateful to the Irene Dunne website for this rare photo (  From left to right.

Glynis Johns, Valerie Hobson , Jean Kent, Michael Wilding, Patricia Dainton, Irene Dunne,Richard Todd, Margaret Lockwood.  Seated, Gloria Swanson, Claudette Colbert.

(There was an onstage performance of a song from ‘Floradora”).

Michael Wilding, Marlene Dietrich, Linda Christian, Montgomery Clift.


Ken saw Audrey Hepburn when she was in the chorus of “Sauce  Tartare”, at the Cambridge theatre in 1949.

You can just about spot Audrey’s  name at bottom left.


In 1956, Joan Crawford attended the premiere of AUTUMN LEAVES at the Plaza cinema.  Ken said:

There were not the usual crowds. As she stepped from her car,she spotted the small group of fans and came over to us, signing autographs and chatting, even though the Lord Mayor was waiting in the foyer to greet her.”


In 1960, Ken chatted to Jeanette MacDonald after she and Gene Raymond had attended a play at the Comedy theatre:

“She was simply dressed, her short fine auburn hair sprinkled with grey….as they walked away, arm in arm,they both donned spectacles!”

Gene Raymond, Jeanette MacDonald


Ken was a long time member of THE JUDY GARLAND CLUB, and for many years he edited the club magazine, ‘The Rainbow Review.’

(I remember once being at Ken’s house when a group of Club members got together to assemble the pages of the magazine – it was quite a job as most issues had about 70 pages.)

He met Judy many times. A highlight was in 1964 when Judy attended a club meeting at the Russell Hotel.

So unassuming and amusing….she sang her thanks to the club members to the accompaniment of a tinny, out of tune hotel piano, with “I Wish You Love” and “Make Someone Happy.”

Ken loved Judy’s films and said of her version of ‘By Myself’ in I COULD GO ON SINGING:

It always sends tingles up and down my spine – it is quite electric and I love how she strides off stage at the end of it, flicking the curtains.”


Ken loved going to the National  Film Theatre which often showed Hollywood classics.

In one letter in 2004, he said: “I went out on a dark damp night to the NFT for the rare HER CARDBOARD LOVER. Norma (Shearer) was exquisite in looks, voice and elegance.”


Ken was even an extra on SATURDAY ISLAND (1951) and IVANHOE(1952).

A mutual friend, Alistair Kerr summed up Ken :

“Ken was a vital and fascinating character, full of great showbusiness tales, and a huge source of information on all things film  and theatre related. I was proud to have been an acquaintance of his for many years as we both had a great affection for Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland.”


So, here’s to you, Ken. it was my great pleasure to know you.


Ken Sephton


A producer and a Pharaoh find a baby on a raft on the River Nile.

The Pharaoh says, “What an ugly kid.”

The producer says, “That’s funny. He looked great in the rushes.”


Fred Astaire, looking at Ginger Rogers in TOP HAT:

“If I had forgotten myself with that girl, I’d remember it.”


Which actress went mad, blind and bald.

Which actor lost his memory, his mind and his head.

Name the two performers and the 6 film titles.





For everything FRANCHOT TONE, check out

There are lots of articles about Franchot and his career in the Blogathon from 21-23 April,2017. Film reviews include DANGEROUS, PHANTOM LADY , THREE COMRADES.


Robert Montgomery

I’ve always enjoyed LADY IN THE LAKE even though Robert  Montgomery’s subjective camera technique wasn’t entirely successful.

One of the funniest film reviews I have ever read is of this film, by D. Cairns of Shadow Play blog (

Some of the comments in the post had me laughing out loud and I hope the blogger won’t mind me quoting a few – though I hope everyone will check out the entire post.

…….”Montgomery plays Marlowe as  a man who has a slow and ungainly manner of opening doors!”

…….”The cops try to give the camera the third degree, and Nolan, already having suffered the indignity of being punched by a movie camera, now gets kicked by it!”

……..”Marlowe gets into his car,easing himself behind the wheel with all the nimbleness of a 35mm camera!”

The article is called THE PRIVATE EYE,LIKE SOME STRANGE BALLOON…  Full link opposite under ‘Posts I like.’


Oh to have been at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

Still, a full report with lots of photos of the Festival can be seen at Laura’s blog (

My envy level was high when Laura described seeing THEODORA GOES WILD, introduced by Melvyn Douglas’s granddaughter, Illeana Douglas.

A great blog. Laura is such a prolific writer.

Irene Dunne, Melvyn Douglas


North By Northwest

Another Blogathon I’ll be checking out is  THE GREAT VILLAIN BLOGATHON. 2017. Details of entries at Speakeasy (

Villains will include  Anne Baxter in “All About Eve”, Richard Widmark in”Road House” and Gladys Cooper in”Now Voyager.”


1974 was the 50th anniversary of MGM Studios and the year that Jack Haley Jr. produced  THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT .

For the premiere at the Beverly Wiltshire hotel in Los Angeles, there was  a gathering of stars, the like of which hadn’t been seen since MGM’s 25th anniversary legendary luncheon in 1949.


The amazing assembly of stars can be seen on You Tube, each introduced by Sammy Davis Jr. or Liza Minnelli. I counted 49, ranging from June Allyson to Keenan Wynn.

As the first of the three That’s Entertainment films concentrated on MGM musicals, most of the performers were from that genre. It was marvellous to see Adele Astaire followed by her brother Fred (though Adele never made a movie). Plus the Nicholas Brothers and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly.

A surprise too to see Merle Oberon, Myrna Loy and Gloria Swanson.

Sadly, only 6 are still alive today – Russ Tamblyn, Margaret O’Brien, Marge Champion, Nanette Fabray ,Shirley MacLaine and George Hamilton.

But so many MGM stars were not there. Reasons could include illness, being out of the country, working elsewhere, unwilling to attend- or not invited!

A shame Joan Crawford was missing, and Lucille Ball and Eleanor Powell. So many who could  have made the line-up even larger – Ann Miller,Esther Williams,Leslie Caron,Kathryn Grayson,Vera-Ellen, Allan Jones.

Jane Powell was in New York on Broadway in IRENE.

Considering Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Bing Crosby  and Mickey Rooney were presenters in the film, I guess there must have been pressing reasons why they didn’t attend.



I guess THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT will always be special to me because I saw it the year of its release in the cinema. It was a magical two hours which I’ve never forgotten. Repeated viewings are great, but that first time……wow!!!!


The 1949 rota.