A Little Bit of History: Pete Smith and His “Specialties”

One of my favorite things to do on occasion is watch historic documentaries.  Not documentaries about history so much as ones that were filmed years and years ago.  (Like, say, those old science films you used to watch in school… or some of us did.)  

Imagine my delight when I discovered Pete Smith.  A filmmaker, Smith’s heyday was between 1931-1955 when he made a bunch of short films for MGM.  These were originally intended as fillers between movies but became so popular that moviegoers would soon come to see bad films just to get a look at what Pete was doing.

So check out a few of these movies.  Goofy but fun, nonetheless.




Excerpt: Hollywood Stories

Here’s a fun excerpt for the blog today! I love history and I admit to a particular fondness for movie history. My first experiences with history were in reading biographies, most of them of the old stars of the silver screen.

Author Stephen Schochet is a professional tour guide in Hollywood who years ago began collecting little-known, humorous anecdotes to tell to his customers. His new book Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies! contains a timeless treasure trove of colorful vignettes featuring an amazing all-star cast of icons including John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn and many others both past and contemporary.

A Couple Snippets From Hollywood Stories:

We Don’t Want a Hit

Executives at United Artists Studio were unimpressed viewing the initial footage of Sean Connery playing James Bond in the 1962 spy thriller Dr. No. The thirty-two-year-old Scottish actor, whose receding hairline was carefully hidden by a toupee, seemed to change his accent in almost every scene. Sure, the former Mr. Universe runner-up was a formidable
presence, but did Connery have the sophistication to play the suave super spy 007, a role originally meant for Cary Grant? The studio kept the completed film on the shelf for many months before releasing it in England where it was a smash. Well, it had to be a fluke; Bond was English, after all. Six months later, they released it in the USA where it did great again. Dr. No led to a hugely successful James Bond franchise and made Sean Connery an international star. It failed only in Japan, where movie-theater owners translated Dr. No to read, “We don’t want a doctor!”

Walt Disney’s Daughters
(This one’s my favorite. I laughed so hard. – Gwen)

Walt Disney’s two daughters, Sharon and Diane, grew up sheltered from the limelight. The children had no images of Mickey Mouse around their home. Their father didn’t go to many parties, preferring to stay in after a long day of work. Sometimes he would playfully chase the youngsters upstairs, cackling like the evil peddler woman in Snow White. When they behaved badly, Walt would admonish them with a raised eyebrow; his stern demeanor inspired the character of the wise old owl, in the 1942 animated feature Bambi. As toddlers, the brainy Diane and beautiful Sharon stayed blissfully unaware that their parents worried about them being kidnapped and allowed no pictures of the sisters to be publicly circulated. Once in 1939, a curious classmate questioned six-year-old Diane about her family. She went
home and said, “Daddy, you never told me you were that Walt Disney,” and asked him for an autograph.

To find out more about the book, visit the Hollywood Stories website!