The stars from my Grandparents’ perspective

I’m a third generation movie fan. My maternal grandparents were movie fans. While I never met my mother’s mother and I was far too young when her father died, they are still teaching me the magic of movies. Whenever I visit my uncles, I dig through the VHS collection and always seem to find new movies to see. Last time I was there, I saw this bizarre Clark Gable/Norma Shearer movie called Idiot’s Delight. It’s a pretty odd movie and, one day, I’ll have to pick up the Warner Archive DVD.

My grandmother was an autograph hound. She was like those women you see screaming at the movie premiere at the beginning of Singin’ In The Rain. Even though she was in Boston, the Hollywood stars still visited and she also wrote to get signed photos.

We have three or four little books filled with autographs from the stars of the 1940s. Some of them are remarkable, others are nearly faded beyond recognition. But the very fact that I can touch books that were also touched by the people in movies I watch is fascinating to me. It makes you realize that these were people, not just figments of our imagination. My absolute favorite is the Katharine Hepburn autograph.

Katharine Hepburn
Frederic March

Here’s a very formal signature from Jeanne Cagney, James Cagney’s sister and his Yankee Doodle Dandy co-star:

Jeanne Cagney

My grandmother’s movie memorabilia collection also includes some cool programs, which can really help you understand how every aspect of going to the movies used to be an event, especially if it was a “big” movie. Here’s the program for The Song of Bernadette. This must have been for a roadshow engagement after the Oscars, since it does mention Jennifer Jones’ Oscar win, I believe.

Loving film really is in my blood, even if it took me awhile to discover it once I moved beyond just Star Wars. I never met my grandmother, but I feel as if seeing these autographs, I do in some small way.

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