On the Set with….the 2017 Edition!

Among our most popular posts here are the “On the Set” series showing legendary figures of Old Hollywood at work on the set of their films. It’s high time we posted a new round of photos – all in living color of course!

On the set of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1923) director/producer Cecil B. De Mille (on the left) introduces the U.S. Secretary of War John Weeks to the Pharoah Rameses aka Charles De Roche:

The original Rin-Tin-Tin (1918-1932) and his owner Lee Duncan enjoy sunset on the beach in 1929:

John Barrymore at his magnificent Tower Road home in the Hollywood Hills circa 1930:

Clara Bow gives some swimming suggestions to her niece and nephew circa 1928:

Bette Davis and her dog do a bit of fishing on the San Clemente River in 1933:

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert join director Edmund Goulding and crew for a picnic lunch during outdoor filming on LOVE (1927):

Marion Davies is directed by Sam Wood on the set of THE FAIR CO-ED (1927):

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. is the center of attention at the Hotel Manila in the Philippines during the filming of AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY MINUTES (1931):

Joan Crawford takes some movies of her own during filming for THE UNDERSTANDING HEART (1927):

Frank Borzage directs Spring Byington and Errol Flynn in THE GREEN LIGHT (1937):

Lupe Velez enjoys the beach during filming for HELL’S HARBOR (1930):

Producer/Star Mary Pickford with Allan Forest and Anders Randolf on DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL (1924):

Rootin’ tootin’ cowboy Humphrey Bogart (!) plays a Mexican bandit in VIRGINIA CITY (1940):

Glamorous Gloria Swanson is unglamorously washed ashore in MALE AND FEMALE (1919):

Director William Desmond Taylor, whose 1922 murder has never been solved, almost seems to be looking for his killer circa 1920:

Finally, Rin-Tin-Tin again in a stunning pose that feels almost 3-D:

Happy 4th of July 2015

Greetings from Rin Tin Tin, Marion Davies, George Arliss and Alan Mowbray (as Hamilton and Washington):
4th-of-july-wallpapers-Final bmp

and Greetings from Lon Chaney Sr.:
American Eagle_Final bmp

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2015!

Old Hollywood Christmas 2015_Final
From left to right: Al Jolson & Rin Tin Tin, Richard Barthelmess & Mary Astor, Clara Bow, Will Rogers & Myrna Loy, and Rudolph Valentino.

Golden Age Stars and Their Dogs

Film stars with their pets have always attracted attention and it’s rare that a major celebrity of the screen would decline an opportunity to pose with a four-legged friend. Sometimes the pet was as famous as the pet parent. Here are a galaxy of vintage stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood who seem only too happy to be upstaged.

First, Anna May Wong shows off her dachshund circa 1938:
ANNA MAY WONG w Dacshund_Final

Buster Keaton wants to be sure he can always find his canine pal circa 1930:
Buster Keaton and his Dog_Final_edited-1

John Barrymore shared some inspired comic moments with this St. Bernard at the beginning of MOBY DICK (1930):
Moby Dick 1930 Barrymore and Dog_Final_Final

Bette Davis seems entranced by this dog as she waits between filming scenes circa 1937:
Bette Davis and Dog_Final

Douglas Fairbanks Sr.evidently considers this German Shepherd his equal, circa 1920:
douglas-fairbanks-and-dog Final

W.C. Fields famously observed that “any man who hates kids and dogs can’t be all bad” but he got along nicely with his co-star in IT’S A GIFT (1934):
WC Fields and Dog_Final_Final

Jean Harlow with one of her many dogs, circa 1935:
Jean Harlow w Dog

Rudolph Valentino inspired much grieving with his untimely death in August 1926. But none grieved more than his dog who was adopted by Rudy’s brother, Alberto. Regardless, the dog pined away for his master until his own passing some years later:
Rudolph Valentino and his Dog-Final

Warner Oland, famous as Charlie Chan, doted on his schnauzer Raggedy Ann and was a proud papa when she had this litter:
Oland and Raggety Ann Final

Star meets Star: Al Jolson meets Rin Tin Tin on the Warner Bros. lot in 1928:
Al and Rinty 1928_edited-Final

Carole Lombard and friend in 1932:
Carole Lombard and Dog 1932_edited-Final

Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein wants to chat with Rin Tin Tin during his 1929 visit to the United States:
Rinty and Eisenstein 1929_Final

George Arliss seems perplexed as he juggles his wife’s dog and business papers, circa 1925:
George Arliss and his wife's Dog_edited-Final - Copy

Finally, a poignant photo commemorating the passing of Lon Chaney, the Man of 1,000 Faces, who left us much too soon in 1930 at the age of 47. The photo shows two of Lon’s most precious possessions – his makeup case and his dog:
Lon Chaney's Dog_edited-Final Final

Your Official 2014 Old Hollywood in Color Calendar Collection!

Start the New Year off right with a gift from OLD HOLLYWOOD IN COLOR. Take your pick from any of these – or all of ’em. Simply download and print out just as you would do with a photo. If you prefer a larger size or higher quality than home printers can provide, let me suggest that you copy the image to a thumb drive and take it to you local digital print retailer such as Kinko’s. With this in mind, let’s tour the 2014 collection.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, with Jean Harlow, in one of their last silent films LIBERTY (1929):
Laurel and Hardy Calendar Final

La Swanson, Gloria that is, in ZAZA (1923):
Gloria Swanson Calendar

Ronald Colman in a fan photo circa 1929:
Ronald Colman Calendar_Final

Buster Keaton circa 1930:
Buster Keaton calendar Final

Clara Bow, who was dubbed “The It Girl,” meaning that she had “it.” Circa 1928:
Clara Bow Calender Final_edited-1

A debonair-looking Al Jolson in 1935:
Al jolson calendar

Greta Garbo with Nils Asther in WILD ORCHIDS (1929), one of her last silents:
Garbo Calendar

Mary Astor in ROSE OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1927):
Mary Astor Calendar 2014_Final

A calendar from a 1934 UK movie magazine highlighting Conrad Veidt:
Conrad Veidt Calendar_Final_edited-2 copy

Jean Harlow with Clark Gable in RED DUST (1932):
Jean Harlow Calendar

Lon Chaney Sr. as himself and as his character in THE MIRACLE MAN (1919), a lost film:
Lon Chaney Calendar

Rin Tin Tin and his mate Nanette in HERO OF THE BIG SNOWS (1926), another lost film:
Rin Tin Tin Calendar

King Kong006 copy_New Year

On the Set with …


The original Rin Tin Tin (1918-1932) lived a more adventurous life than most people. As a puppy he was found among the rubble of a bombed-out kennel in France in September 1918 by American airman Lee Duncan. After the First World War ended that November, Duncan arranged to bring the pup back to the states when his own deployment ended. Duncan named the German Shepherd after a French clown and was impressed by the dog’s intelligence and his ability to follow complex direction. Hollywood seemed a logical outlet for the talented canine but none of the studios were interested – at first:

Dog films were popular in the early 1920s and no pooch was more popular than Strongheart, another German Shepherd. But anti-German prejudice in the United States ran high due to the war so public relations experts came up with a novel idea – henceforth German Shepherds would be called Police Dogs. Rinty’s big break came in 1922 while Duncan was watching a film crew working with another dog who was supposed to portray a wolf. The dog wouldn’t follow directions so Duncan stepped forward and assured the harried director that Rinty could handle the bit. Legend claims that Rinty was letter-perfect in this first, albeit uncredited, movie role.


Rin Tin Tin achieved his first screen credit in MAN FROM HELL’S RIVER (1922), in fact he is the only performer credited in the lobby card above.
A small but up-and-coming studio, Warner Brothers (later abbreviated to “Bros.”), noted both the popularity of the Strongheart films and the relatively low expense to make them. Here is writer and future movie mogul Darryl Zanuck (note he is holding a book), studio boss Jack Warner (apparently reading a contract), Lee Duncan, and Rinty himself as arrangements are made to star Rinty in his first film:

WHERE THE NORTH BEGINS (1923) – Rinty’s first (of twenty-five!) starring feature films also has the distinction of being one of a handful to survive and available on dvd. Note that the human actors continue to appear anonymously in posters:

Rinty’s second starring feature, THE LIGHTHOUSE BY THE SEA (1924) survives in somewhat truncated form but is available on dvd. By now, Warners realized they had their first major box office star. LIGHTHOUSE was followed by the now-lost FIND YOUR MAN (1924):

Above and below, a greatly enlarged “movie herald,” a small flimsy handout used by theaters to promote an upcoming attraction:

Studios provided their big stars with private bungalows on the lot but Rinty was given more practical housing – a large kennel. Here the silent film camera grinds while Lee Duncan supervises Rinty posing with various awards:

A photo of the same session:

This photo even feels cold. Unlike the Lassie films of the 1940s, the silent Rintys are rugged outdoor adventures as this image suggests from the lost TRACKED IN THE SNOW COUNTRY (1925):

Never count Rinty out – a 35mm print of CLASH OF THE WOLVES (1925) was discovered in South Africa about ten years ago and repatriated to the Library of Congress. Now beautifully restored and on dvd, this film has been named to the National Film Registry of significant motion pictures:

The title role in THE NIGHT CRY (1926) was played by a condor, at the time the only one in captivity. Poor Rinty is blamed for the condor’s attacks on livestock but swings into action when the giant bird kidnaps a baby. One of the most exciting of the surviving Rintys:

A premium card to promote Ken-L-Ration, a dog food still sold today:

Another movie herald for another lost film from 1926:


Human actors are now recognized but strictly in support of the star:

Youngsters were encouraged to read about Rinty’s exploits as well as see them on the screen:

Nanette co-starred in several films with Rinty and in the 1930s appeared in films with Rin Tin Tin Jr. The stories often forced Rinty to choose between saving the heroine or saving Nanette. Of course, he chose his mistress but Nanette fended for herself just fine:

Rinty helps the police track down a killer in the Limehouse district of London in this lost film. By now in 1927 Rinty’s silouette alone identified him:

Dorothy Gulliver and Rinty spend an idyllic day as the clouds of World War I gather in the lost A DOG OF THE REGIMENT (1927):

Rinty on the western front where all is far from quiet. During World War II, Duncan and Rin Tin Tin III organized the K-9 Corps for the U.S. Army where they trained over 5,000 dogs for military service:

A surviving Rinty, though somewhat truncated, TRACKED BY THE POLICE (1927) provides non-stop action:

Al Jolson takes time out at Warners from revolutionizing silent films into talkies with THE JAZZ SINGER (1927) by paying a call on Rinty:

With the talkie revolution now underway, Rinty makes his first “barkie” with LAND OF THE SILVER FOX (1928):

Rinty seemed to be born to keep kids out of trouble:

Rin Tin Tin in Palestine. The title in this Hebrew ad is BETWEEN THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS, which may be A HERO OF THE SNOWS or possibly TRACKED IN SNOW COUNTRY. In any event, this Rinty played the Ophir Cinema in Tel Aviv on January 12, 1930:

An enlarged postcard from TIGER ROSE (1929):

Rinty continued making three to four features per year in the 1929-30 sound film era. However, in December 1929 a Warners executive notified Lee Duncan that due to the advent of sound films, Warners would no longer produce the Rin Tin Tin films “because dogs don’t talk.” Here’s a nice portrait of Duncan and what’s-his-name:

It also seems likely that two other factors were involved: first, Warners now had an impressive roster of stars of the stage and screen, and Rinty may have been an embarrassing reminder of earlier days when a dog kept the studio solvent. Second, by 1930, Rinty was twelve years old, rather elderly for a German Shepherd, and the studio felt it was time for him to retire. A poster from the lost talkie, ON THE BORDER (1930):

But Rinty kept busy by starring in a twelve chapter serial in 1930, THE LONE DEFENDER, and had his own radio show over NBC called “The Wonder Dog:”

Rinty’s final film was THE LIGHTNING WARRIOR (1931), another twelve chapter serial. Just one month shy of turning 14 (about 90 in German Shepherd years), Rinty died suddenly on the front lawn of his home on August 10, 1932. Legend says that neighbor Jean Harlow (whom Duncan had given one of Rinty’s pups) came running over and cradled Rinty’s head in her arms as he died. But Rinty’s progeny continues to this day, the current heir in a direct line is Rin Tin Tin XII. Meanwhile, the original Rin Tin Tin rests in an honored grave site at the Lile aux Chiens (Cimetiere Des Chiens), Asnieres-sur-seine, Ile-de-France Region, France:

But thanks to films, the original Rin Tin Tin’s exploits can be enjoyed in the 21st century:

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