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Jewish World Review
Sept. 11, 2008
/ 11 Elul 5768
Late Summer Notes and Asides
In reading the Los Angeles Times this past Sunday I couldn't help but notice a couple of erroneous statements in two of their stories. Now I must tell you that I didn't read the ENTIRE newspaper so in all likelihood, within the paper as a whole, there were undoubtedly more than just those two errors that I found. However, the two that I site for you here are interesting in that they are not what most people would refer to as "typos" or common mistakes in punctuation, grammar, or other such things.
In a story in the main section entitled, "Hollywood Sees Politics as a Plot," the piece mentions a new Oliver Stone movie, "W," which is a made-up story on the life of George W. Bush. In the body of the article the writer correctly refers to the film as a "fictionalized presidential biography." But the caption under one of the photos from the film, states that the movie is "a fictional autobiography of the president directed by Oliver Stone." A fictional AUTOBIOGRAPHY? So that would mean that George W. Bush actually wrote the fake movie himself for Stone, right?
Mistakes like that are not typos, they're just plain stupid. Individually they might seem trivial and inconsequential, but when they occur over and over again, day in and day out, that has to be a big problem for a major newspaper. Here's another one in the same paper, different section - the California section. An ongoing feature in that section each Sunday is "LA Then and Now." This particular installment dealt with minstrel show performers.
The opening sentence of the piece began, "Seventy years ago, on Aug. 20, 1938, The Times published an editorial mourning the death of Thomas K. Heath, one of vaudeville's biggest stars in what is now the largely vanished phenomenon of the minstrel show." The LARGELY vanished phenomenon of the minstrel show? That means that it is MOSTLY gone, but not completely. Excuse me, but where exactly are minstrel shows being performed today?
I could be wrong, but I don't believe that minstrel shows have been performed in this country for well over half a century - and possibly more like 80 years or more. Again, this sort of writing shows ignorance, and worse, a lack of fact checking on the part of the newspaper.
I'm convinced that sloppy writing like this, along with a transparent leftist bias in hard news reporting, has undoubtedly contributed to the paper's decline in readership over the years.
Anita Page passed away this week at the age of 98. Miss Page was an MGM actress who appeared in films with the likes of Clark Gable, Walter Huston, Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton and Joan Crawford. Her movie career spanned 84 years, beginning in 1924 when she started as an extra.
Her big break came in 1928 when she won a major role in "Our Dancing Daughters," with Joan Crawford, a film that propelled them both to stardom. Two sequels followed, "Our Modern Maidens" and "Our Blushing Brides" with Miss Page and Miss Crawford appearing in all three pictures.
She co-starred in "The Broadway Melody" in 1229 - a history making picture that holds the distinction of being the very first true film musical and was the first talkie to win the Academy Award for best picture.
Miss Page's daughter Linda Sterne said her mother had been good friends with Marion Davies and Jean Harlow, and for about six months in the 1930s lived as a guest in William Hearst's massive castle on the Southern California coast. "She was the best mother I could have," Sterne said. "She was wonderful."
Miss Page was married for a short time to composer, Nacio Herb Brown in the early thirties. In 1936 she quit the acting business when she fell in love with Navy aviator, Herschel House. The couple married six weeks later and Page happily adapted to life as an officer's wife, hosting many parties at their home in Coronado. They had two children, daughters Linda and Sandra and were married over 55 years until Herschel's death in 1991, at which time she returned to acting and made several pictures over the years.
Amazingly, she worked right up until the end. Her last film, "Frankenstein Rising," is due to be released later this year! Lucky Anita Page died in her sleep, in her own bed, at home in Van Nuys at the age of 98 this past Saturday. She was the last surviving attendee of the first Academy Awards ceremony. What an interesting life she must have led. What a shame that in all this time, she lived and worked in relative anonymity. I don't recall ever seeing an interview with her, not even on the classic movie stations.
Do you think the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences might recognize her at their next awards show? Yeah, right. It would be nice, but don't hold your breath. I'll take all bets.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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