Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A fallen Hollwood starlet, a painting that never ends and the spangles that never happened. This week I have been mostly...

Non sewing
Well the sewing venture for The Chantilly Belles new piece of stage attire didn't go 100% to plan over the weekend, which made both myself and Rene La Rouge very cranky. Basically we didn't realise you have to check what your material is made from before ironing on tranfers (duh!) and as it was full polyester we got stopped in our tracks. We are now exploring a Plan B route...

I was at the studio yesterday, where I had a lovely long chat and cup of tea with Salford's Art and Cultural Developments Manager about my practice. It was so good to talk to someone who opened up a lot of possilbities to me and understood the pros and cons of being a freelance artist.
I am now buzzing with ideas and more aware of directions I can take my art into.
We talked for so long painting time was cut short so I didn't have much of a go at finishing my latest painting. I can't wait to get the bloodly thing out of the way now!

I can't put down 'Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, The Barbara Payton story'.
I first knew about Barbara Payton, the tragic 40's/50's Hollywood starlet when she made an appearance in the excellant fictional novel 'This song is you' by Megan Abbott. A dark and violent thriller that was based on a true story of missing actress Jean Spangler. (Incidentaly the true story is just as compelling as the book and well worth investigating!)

I was fascinated to learn that the beautiful troubled and provocative character of Barbara really existed and did some research on her on the internet. When I saw there was a book relating the tale of her life I had to read it.

'Kiss tomorrow Goodbye, the Barbara Payton Story' by John O Dowd is a heartbreaking account of how a free spirted highly sexed glamour girl fell from Hollywood's favour to slowly rot on its streets in skid row.
Barbara had everything going for her, incredible beauty, talent and intelligence, which makes her story even more unbelievable.
After acting in films next to James Cagney and Gregory Peck it seemed this blonde starlet was on the brink of making the big time and becoming another name to match the likes of Monroe. But her erratic private life became more of a focal point to the public as Barbara certainly knew how to party.

Her name became linked with drug dealers and mobsters and she made frequent trips to court because of her bad choice in 'friends.' Her reputation got torn irreparably when she began to see both highly esteemed and well loved classical actor Franchot Tone and B movie muscle man Tom Neal. The breaking point of which was a massive punch up (with Neal doing most of the punching) which left Tone close to death in hospital. Barbara's 'Bad gal' image was sealed as a nation held her to blame.
Her career took a massive nose dive and she appeared in only a few more B films as the major film studios systematically turned their backs on her until it eventually fizzled out completely. But Barbara's tragedy wasn't just the loss of her film star dreams, it was her blatent need for self destruction which took the form of acloholism, drug use and nymphomania. Over the years she had numerous steamy love affairs with everyone from leading men to car hop boys. In the 50's the only word for her was tramp.

But Bab's wasn't a bad person, in fact by all accounts she was a kind generous and fun person to know. However with her slow free fall from success she went all out to destroy every part of herself including her character. By the early 60's with four failed marriages under her belt and forcibly estranged from her young son, the once glamourous and impeccable actress had gone from earning $10,000 a week at Warner Bros to turing tricks on Sunset Boulevard for $5 a time. She eventually died an all too early death at the age of 39.
The book is so welll written and O Dowd has put forward an objective series of events with great detail and sensitivity. I have enjoyed reading it greatly but have to admit to reflecting on it with feelings of sadness but also fascination.
One of Barbara's most famous films was the campy B movie 'The bride of the Gorrila', enjoy:

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