In the years following the release of La La Land, the mystique of Hollywood remains as strong as ever. This is especially true when
speaking of the Golden Age of Hollywood, a halcyonic period which ran from roughly the late 1920s to the mid 1950s.
A persistent Hollywood legend has it that actress Lana Turner
was discovered by director Mervyn LeRoy while sitting at the soda
counter at Schwab’s Drug Store. So it seems fully logical that, if one can but get to Los Angeles, and one has talent, that same magical casting moment might occur.
Sadly for L.A., much of today’s film production has fled the West Coast (a phenomenon known as runaway production) for the cheaper alternative of shooting on fresh locations (READ: "no costly permits required), especially just south of us in the great state of Georgia.
However, at least one thing from the classic era has remained — the pages of entertainment websites and the covers of glossy movie magazines continue to feed the imaginations of budding actors and
Introducing Actress Janet Gaynor
And so it was with our young ingenue, Miss Esther Blodgett,
portrayed by actress Janet Gaynor, whose own career mirrors her role
to an amazing degree. Ms. Gaynor began her career as an extra in
shorts and silent films. After signing with Fox Film Corporation (later
20th Century-Fox) in 1926, she rose to fame and became one of the
biggest box office draws of the era.
In 1929, Ms. Gaynor was the first winner of the Academy
Award for Best Actress for her performances in three films: 7th Heaven
(1927), Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927), and Street Angel (1928).
This was the only occasion on which an actress has won one Oscar for
multiple film roles (a practice that was subsequently banned by the Academy.)
Unlike many of her fellow thespians, though, Gaynor’s career success
continued well into the sound film era, and it was for A Star Is Born
for which she received a second Best Actress Academy Award
nomination (actually, her fourth — if you’re counting individual
Gaynor would retire from acting in 1939, making only a brief
reappearance in 1957 in the film Bernardine.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Janet Gaynor has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6284 Hollywood Boulevard.
This screening is dedicated to my late father, Richard C. Jones,
who instilled in me a lifelong love of the cinema. - KCJ
* AUTHOR'S NOTE: These program notes originally accompanied the screening of A STAR IS BORN at Heritage House Arts & Civic Center on April of 2017.