LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/04/1939
ON THE SIDE with E.V. Durling
…Rosalind Russell. A most appealing personality on the screen. But she has me puzzled. On the screen she seems relaxed, easy, natural; off the screen she appears tense, affected and in need of a broad accent remover. What I can’t figure is Rosalind acting when she’s acting, or acting when she’s not acting?
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/15/1940
STEWART-RUSSELL DUET DUE TO BECOME REALITY
By Edwin Schallert
While there may be all of four or five pictures in the offing for James Stewart at M.G.M., and elsewhere, his home studio (that being Metro) is not a bit backward in providing at least one more. “Well Dressed for Murder,” an original for the screen by Larry Bachman and Rose Caylor (Mrs. Ben Hecht) has been purchased an may, indeed, be pushed forward on the schedule because the desire of the studio is to team Stewart with Rosalind Russell.
Quite consecutively, these two, although once or twice mentioned for appearances together, have missed that destination. But the new mystery melodrama is very likely to bring that fulfillment, with Leslie Fenton, who has just finished “Arouse and Beware,” as the director, and Jack Cummings as producer.
Before he does another picture, Fenton will vacation, and the script is expected to be ready on his return.
Stewart with impersonate an actor in the picture and Miss Russell will be a particularly vivacious heroine.
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/27/1940
STAR SCORES HIT IN ‘HIS GIRL FRIDAY’
By John L. Scott
Hildy Johnson, hero of that bawdy play by Hecht and MacArthur, “The Front Page,” has become a lady. In the screen version, called “His Girl Friday,” Hildy, the demon reporter, is played by Rosalind Russell. Otherwise the story adheres fairly closely to the original.
It’s a rowdy, fast-moving comedy drama (at Hillstreet and Pantages theaters), produced and directed by Howard Hawks and co-starring Cary Grant as Walter Burns, the scheming newspaper editor whose methods are questionable but eminently successful.
“His Girl Friday” is a grand show. Much of the original dialogue (I saw the play four times) appears to remain intact. Any additions and revisions add to rather than detract from the production.
Presenting Hildy as a sob-sister is an effective stroke of showmanship, since it provides a sort of “triangle” situation. Hildy is divorced from Walter Burns, the editor. She is about to marry a shy, bewildered but solid insurance man (Ralph Bellamy). Burns, who appears to be carrying a torch for his ex-wife, doesn’t want to lose her reportorial services either.
He has her fiancé thrown into jail two or three times on trumped-up charges, makes a deal with Hildy to cover an important story (a hanging) in return for taking out a large insurance policy.
From this point on, the film follows the stage play closely (except for the famous tag line), with the doomed prisoner escaping and eventually hiding in the reporters’ room, where Hildy and Burn do their best to hide him in order to get a scoop.
Miss Russell gives a top-notch portrayal as Hildy. She has the natural enthusiasm and spirit for the job and undoubtedly will score hits with audiences. Cary Grant’s part as Editor Burns is, naturally, not as productive of opportunity as that of Hildy, but this versatile player registers in a colorful performance. He is responsible for some delightful comedy.
Gene Lockhart as the sheriff, Helen Mack in an emotional role, Ralph Bellamy as the fiancé, John Qualen as the condemned man and Billy Gilbert in a brief but hilarious comedy part, are well cast and offer fine support. Porter Hall, Ernest Truex, Cliff Edwards, Clarence Kolb, Roscoe Karns, Frank Jenks, Regis Toomey, Abner BIberman and others are good.
Hawks’ direction deserves a big hand. The adaptation was by Charles Lederer.
Second feature on the program is “Café Hostess,” with Preston Foster, Ann Dvorak, Douglas Fowley, Wynne Gibson and others. Sidney Salkow directed.
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/28/1940
PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT…
…Rosalind Russell in a huge black hat, combining gaucho, Chinese coolie and American Legion in design, lunch at Somerset House…
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/30/1941
COMEDY DUE TOMORROW
Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas form a new costarring comedy team in Columbia’s “This Thing Called Love,” which opens at Hollywood Pantages and Hillstreet theaters tomorrow.
Although both players have been under contract to the same studio for five years, this is the first time they have appeared together on the screen.
The picture concerns the fate of a wife who believes that trial marriage is greatly superior to the old-fashioned institution. What happens to her belief makes for laughter, suspense and romance.
Binnie Barnes, Allyn Joslyn, Gloria Dickson, Lee J. Cobb and Gloria Holden are in the cast.
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/16/1938
Rosalind Russell “wasn’t ready” for leading roles—but Hollywood soon got her anyway! The tale of a cautious beauty who stormed the heights in spite of herself
By Lupton A. Wilkinson
Hollywood’s busiest young woman was too occupied, the morning the studio announced that complete stardom was hers, to give that honor due attention. She was working in two over-lapping pictures. She had just begun a radio serial, which she was helping to write. She was furnishing a new house. In her spare time she was designing all her clothes. That little hobby has put her among the three or four best-dressed women in Hollywood.
If all that sounds like a human workhorse, it isn’t so. Rosalind Russell likes to laugh, to talk, to bowl, to ride and to play golf. She is as good a talker as she is a poor golfer. [emphasis my own]
“I took up acting,” she admits calmly, “because I wanted to make money.” (She changed her mind later). “I was one of seven children. It seemed quite right to me that my family should foot my bills while I absorbed schooling. It seemed equally fair that, once out of school, I should paddle my own canoe.”
This bright-eyed, honest actress has one spot in her life she doesn’t talk about. She had dreamed of being a dancer. She studied dancing, but became discouraged and gave it up.
“Most of the things I thought about, that a woman could do,” she says, “seemed likely to end up at thirty-five or forty dollars a week. I decided that if I could be a good actress, I might earn more.”
The family gave her rope, as to schools. Marymount, in Tarrytown, New York, Barnard at Columbia and Rosemont all knew her. But she learned her first vital lesson at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, from a man named Charles Jehlinger.
“He was a shy little man,” she says. “We called him ‘Jelly.’ He drilled one thing into me: ‘Don’t fool around while you’re working.’”
“Jelly” picked her as one of fifteen out of the year’s 500 students to play a one-night lead in the Lyceum Theater, an ancient edifice which Charles Frohman, one of the school’s directors, made available. And he told her after her graduation: “You go out and get practical experience. Don’t pay me any more money.”
Greener than grass, she did know that some brothers named Shubert sent out stock companies and that a man named Chamberlain Brown was in the same business. She sat around their offices for weeks. None of the bosses would talk to her.
Other callers noticed her—eager, quiet, cheerful. Crosby Gaige, a producer, sent for her, offered her a leading role opposite a rising actor, Spencer Tracy. The serious-faced, straight-eyed young girl made a decision typical of her: “Without experience—to play a lead on Broadway! Thanks. I’m not ready.”
She continued to sit around offices of people who still supported stock (this was in 1930, and stock was going to pieces) and somebody told her a man named Casey would run a summer stock company. She phoned all the Caseys in the Manhattan directory. Wrong numbers.
She began on the Brooklyn-Long Island directory, and found him in the Es. Edward Casey, of Forest Hills.
He said, “I’ll see you when I’m in town.”
She said, “Sorry, I’m leaving tomorrow.”
Casey asked, “Can you play leads?”
She hedged. “I’m a second woman.”
“Meet me at the Astor.”
She arrived, dressed to kill. He talked to her, became enthusiastic about her prospects.
“You’re a leading woman!” he told her.
She fibbed frantically: “I told you I was a second woman because I thought you would have a leading woman from last season.”
Casey decided, “I’ll have to consult my partner, Dick Bartell. He’s fixed his eye on a girl he believes will work for nothing.”
She said, “It’s today or not at all.” He countered, “I haven’t a contract with me.” She smiled. “Let’s walk right over to Equity.” Rosalind’s sole professional experience consisted in paying the Equity fee.
She was signed at one hundred fifty a week, she to furnish her own costumes. We will skip what happened to her older sister’s dresses. She arrived at Lake Placid, N.Y., late—because she had had to raid the home wardrobe.
The entire company met the new leading woman—including Casey’s partner, Dick Bartell. The latter took one look at her and strangled. “That’s the girl I saw at the Academy,” he choked. “She’d probably have paid us for a chance.”
Terrific triple embarrassment followed, but Bartell and Casey forgave her. She could act. After Lake Placid, even “Jelly” told her to quite “fooling around” and accept a Broadway engagement. But she had adopted the gospel of preparation and persisted in stock for nearly three years. Miss Russell values those years highly.
“In that very first engagement at Lake Placid,” she recalls. “I lost my selfish viewpoint of the stage as solely a means to make money. I learned what a trouper was.
“My twentieth birthday was part of that summer. At my hotel I received a mountain of packages from family and friends.
“In our company was one of those gray-white-haired old ladies who play character parts in such troupes. This particular veteran had ‘mothered’ me once or twice, and had come by the hotel often, but never had invited me to her room.
“On this day I was strolling toward the waterfront, blue with homesickness. My friend spied me, and beckoned me over to her.
“’Won’t you come by my room?’ she asked. ‘Just for a few minutes?’
“We climbed steps and sniffed smells. That room was dingier than any I had ever seen. On a washstand table reposed a half-pint bottle, a teacup in a saucer, a cracked glass and something some baker must have thought was a cake. It boasted one candle.
“We each had a drink of what my friend said was sherry. We ate some of the cake. ‘No birthday is really a birthday without a cake,’ my friend explained.
“She wept some and I wept some. I carefully wrapped up the remainder of the cake, and we went to rehearsal.”
New York would not be denied. Rosalind was called from Boston and took part in the hit play, “Talent” (again declining a lead). Then she played opposite Bert Lytell in “The Second Man.”
Hollywood had heard about this girl who under-chose her parts. She had a contract offer few could have refused.
The put her through the mill in Hollywood, as they do everybody. She received her first chance at comedy opposite William Powell in “Rendezvous.” The first time she was allowed to “emote” was in that curious motion picture which many disliked, “Night Must Fall.” All she had learned went into the part. It clinched her career.
“How about this star business?” I asked.
“Please don’t mention it. How can my company make me a star? Only the public does that.” Then she paused. “A star? That means to me somebody like Bernhardt or Duse. Don’t make me seem foolish. Let me keep on working to become a good actress… I know this: a real star is made inside herself.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/09/1938
STAR PLANS MARRIAGE DURING 1940
Rosalind Russell to Appraise Eligibles Next Year
By ALMA WHITAKER
She plans to marry in 1940 and will start her appraisal of the eligibles during 1939.
So, laughingly, does the lady whom National Dress Designers have just crowned “best-dressed woman in America,” confide her romance program.
Rosalind Russell, returned from New York only a few days ago, ensconced in her newly purchased Beverly Hills home, is radiantly triumphant. Her star twinkles merrily, with ne’er a cloud to cast a shadow.
There’s the successful picture “Man-Proof,” in which she wins the coveted male from no less a siren than Myrna Loy—for a time, anyway.
There’s the highly popular series of radio broadcasts with plays written specially for her. There’s the warm content after a precious Christmas spent with her family in Waterbury, Ct., where she met her very first nephew, age 1 month.
And, “of course, I love being named the best-dressed woman. Who wouldn’t? I love clothes, although I’m not extravagant. I design all my own, shop very carefully…”
“Do you approve of our current crazy hats?”
“They’re not crazier than some our grandmammas used to wear,” argued Rosalind. “Perky, saucy hats are good for women. We can’t be glum with jaunty feathers in our hats. Awful if we were as conservative as the men. Which reminds me, it’s very becoming to men to spruce up.
“I expect my escorts to dress correctly for the occasion. I’d like to see them pay much more attention to their ties, hats and shoes. You should hear me nag my conservative brothers.”
“I don’t like seeing my own pictures,” she continued. “For one thing I’m tired of observing me so formal and ladylike.
“The picture I enjoyed most was ‘Rendezvous’ in which I was a rattly Junior Leaguer. The part was written straight, but oh, I know Junior Leaguers.
“I ought to see more pictures, especially Carole Lombard’s, if only to make me jealous of the riotous roles she plays.”
CURE FOR DIVORCE
Rosalind thinks that if women paid more attention to clothes, there’d be fewer divroces. Wives should dress as well as their purse will allow—and give their husbands something to live up to.
“Are day dresses going any shorter?” I asked the oracle anxiously.
“I hope all women will have the courage to rebel if they do,” she said earnestly. “Only pretty good legs can stand them as short as they are now. All these male dress designers should know better than that.”
From January 1936:
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/02/1936
Excerpt from ODD AND INTERESTING HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP
…It seems to be the thing to stop in at the Marcell Inn after the Santa Anita Races. Anyway that’s what Delmer Daves and Kay Francis did. Also Billy Selwyn and Rosalind Russell, Jane Frances Mullen and John Howard and the Ralph Bellamys, who heard Tommy Lyman and his songs…
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/17/1936
“SKIDDING” TO STAR ROSALIND RUSSELL
“Skidding,” the stage play by Aurania Rouverol, has been purchased by M.-G.-M. and it looks as if this subject would actually bring Rosalind Russell stardom. The playwright wrote this stage piece originally for the Pasadena Community Playhouse and subsequently, it scored a hit in New York and afterward was given in the professional theater out here with Grace Stafford in the leading role.
Mrs. Rouverol’s daughter Jean, is acting in pictures.
Miss Russell is vacationing at the present time, has her assignment to fulfill in “Under Two Flags” and will probably next act in “Skidding.”
LOS ANGLES TIMES, 01/24/1936
AROUND AND ABOUT IN HOLLYWOOD
Just what Rosalind Russell will tell the judge was a major problem in her life yesterday. She is the sorriest and most frightened girl in the colony with four traffic tickets in her possession—the first in her life—and mostly due to the excitement of a big role in a picture. Four successive mornings, in the early hours, Miss Russell was flagged down for two speed violations, one boulevard stop and the last for jumping a signal. Miss Russell was en route to the Twentieth Century-Fox Studio for work in “Under tWo Flags” when the asserted violations happened. For luck she changed her route to the studio and nothing has happened since. Miss Russell hopes her clean record of the past will motivate in her favor when she faces the court.
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/29/1936
ROSALIND RUSSELL IN “SUICIDE CLUB”
Rosalind Russell, who has been one of the most active players at M.-G.-M. during the past year, is to have the feminine lead in “Suicide Club,” which will probably present Frank Morgan in one of the leading roles.
Miss Russell has signed a new term contract with the studio, incidentally.
“Suicide Club” owes its authorship to the classic pen of Robert Louis Stevenson. Louis D. Lighton is the producer.
The picture promises to be an unusual event because of the whimsy of the plot.
Here are a few articles and snippets featuring Roz from August 1934 and January 1935:
SAN DIEGO EVENING TRIBUNE, 08/31/1934:
Rosalind Russell has been assigned her second role by her employers. Her first, already chronicled, will be in “Evelyn Prentice,” with Myrna Loy and William Powell.
Promptly upon completion of her share in this William K. Howard production, the actress goes to join that coterie, fairly bristling with stellar names, which will illustrate “Forsaking All Others.”
She will rub shoulders with Clark Gable, Robert Montgomery, Joan Crawford, Billie Burke and Charles Butterworth.
Miss Russell’s record to date underlines engagements with Bert Lytell in “The Second Man,” and with Mady Christians in the brief-lived “Talent.” Miss Christians is now at the same studio, M.G.M.
SAN DIEGO UNION, 02/13/1935
ROSALIND’S BROTHER GEORGE
Rosalind Russell, stage actress now at M-G-M, is proud of her brother George, who came from New York to visit her. He has enrolled in the law school at the University of Southern California.
LOS ANGELES TIMES 01/28/1935
Best “Other Woman” Term Contracted
The best “other woman” to have sparkled forth on the screen in many moons is Rosalind Russell. She has, in fact, become a brilliant menace on just a few appearances. Evidently the producers are recognizing it, because the actress has been given a long-termer at M-G-M, and will probably act in “China Seas” with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, and be required to out-vamp the platinum blonde.
The pictures in which she has played including “Forsaking All Others,” “Evelyn Prentice,” “West Point of the Air,” “Reckless” and “The President Vanishes.”
She is doing the lead opposite Paul Lukas in the “The Casino Murder Case.”
And because I came across this when looking for Roz (Carl Brisson was her father-in-law):
LOS ANGELES TIMES, 01/31/1935
Carl Brisson, one-time No. 1 man of the Danish Army’s famed polo team, still keeps his hand in at the game. Whenever he can spare the time, he climbs on the quarter deck of a horse and practices knocking goals.