The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California on January 31, 1943 · Page 24
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The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California · Page 24

San Bernardino, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 31, 1943
Page 24
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By DEE LOWRANCE HOLLYWOOD WE'VE ;all heard too much about movie Cinderellas. They pop up out of nowhere and are hailed as stars overnight. Then, -while the fanfare announcing them is still echoing, and the press agent's gallons of ink praising them haven't had time to dry, the Gnderellas go back to their ashes and are forgotten. So let's start out by stating, flatty, that Susan Peters is no Cinderella girl. She's no Hollywood cutie, either. This slight, almost frail-looking new star-to-be is rare as it is in films a true actress. Her dramatic ability is proved conclusively in her first picture of importance. You have to be good to stand out ki s cast topped by Ronald Colman and Greer Garson. And that's juSt what Susan Peters does in "Random Harvest; picturization of the bect-eelling James Hilton noveL Her part, in plot importance, is third in the film. Her notices, from advance critical approval, ranked third also thus making a record that a good many of Hollywood's oldest stars might envy. There is a sensitivity, a fey quality, to Susan Peters' screen self. It fits into no given category for film personalities. You wont hear anyone say of her: "She's a second Bette Davis," or, for that matter, a second anyone. She is the first Susan Peters and you'll be seeing a good deal more of her from now on. rpHE true story behind her is keyed to her real discoverer, the producer-director, Mervyn LeRoy. His is, and has been for some time, a name to conjure with in film circles. When he first made his mark as a creator of films, he was dubbed "Boy Wonder." The name still sticks, though he has been boy-wondering around Hollywood for a goodly spelL A better definition for the pert that Mervyn LeRoy really plays in film circles is "star-picker." He seems to have that magic divining rod that so few producers or directors possess. It's a sense for discovering star material plus the courage of his convictions to take the material and trust it with a role that brings it out. He himself is at a loss to explain exactly how he knows a potential star. "I haven't any yardsticks," he said when pinned down on the subject. "I don't believe in screen tests. Somehow, if the personality is there, you know it immediately. It's a sixth sense with me. "I've been at it long enough. I started looking for talent when most kids were playing marbles. Back in school I began bossing the other kids around at such an early age I know now I must have been a nuisance to my teachers as well as to my schoolmates. I started out by wanting to act, then branched out into producing and directing the school shows." As the twig is bent so went Mervyn LeRoy. No one, least of all his friends and relatives, was surprised when he ended up in Hollywood after a spell of vaudeville that was economically sound but not quite what the ambitious youngster really wanted for himself. "Of course," he reminisced, "there were some detours. A brash kid, I t!) ought I would be allowed to direct pictures the minute I arrived. Well, to be brief, I wasn't!" 70R a while LeRoy toiled in a ward robe department, hanging up stars' clothes and dreaming of Better Things. Then William DeMille crossed his path and then next thing the brother of Cecil B. knew, he had hired the fast-talking youth, LeRoy, as an assistant cameraman. As far as LeRoy could see, after lugging cameras around for some time, he had pushed himself up a blind ellpv F retreated to vaudeville n Hi ' again and next hit Hollywood at a bit player. That was the start he needed. From there he expanded becoming what he terms a "comedy constructor." That's one step higher than a gag writer and as nice a jumping-off place as one could desire in those days. And off he jumped right smack into directing. He had Mary Astor in the very first picture he directed; Colleen Moore in his third. The "Boy Wonder" was on his way. Picking titles at random among the : .3 : I r. ' 1 'J it, ' w Film work was just an endless succession of screen found her, popped her into "Random Harvest" with pictures LeRoy has directed andor produced, or both, you're sure to hit on hits. Here's a handful "Five Star Final," "Gold Diggers," "Tugboat Annie," "Three Men on a Horse," "Great Garrick," "Waterloo Bridge," "Escape," "Johnny Eager," "Blossoms in the Dust" and they just skim the . surface. The boy has really made a lot of films! To get back to star-finding, LeRoy has only one additional word: "A person, to be star material, needs to have sympathy in the eyes," he opined., (KverWtelt Mafftzln 1 , ' - - ' ' ' t ' : . , ' '''', . ' ' :- ' ' ' ' K' ' ' - i 4 " - . , ? " ', 1 ' ' ' ' ' - f, ; -yys : - ' ' ' i. - , , . - . '' ; ' ') i : ' .1" ' ' '1 'A, y ' ' ' "1 ' . . i ' ' , ' , ' ' i; ' '. ' ' ' f - -1 ' ; . . . ; :j ' f ... . ; . ..7.. ... . . . . ' ' , : r , A i ,- , ? , " tests for Susan Peters until Director Mervyn LeRoy Greer Carson and Ronald Colman. Susan is set now. "There must be a feeling of warmth, of heart or you'll never get a star, no matter how handsome or beautiful is the person. "There's something else, too, much more difficult to define," he added, and a puzzled expression came over his alert, pleasant features. "Call it a physical appeal but not too obvious. "Clark Gable has !t in the form of an overwhelming masculinity. Lana Turner has it in the exact reverse a violent femininity. Susan Peters has Prints in V. . A.) I I j it in a fined-down, restrained delicacy plus an intellectual appeal that is quite unusual." ' Clark Gable's discovery as a star has been credited to countless people. Someone is always stepping up and taking' bows for having been responsible for Clark becoming America's No. 1 Movie Actor. But actually, Mervyn LeRoy found him at a Los Angeles theater,' acting in "The Last Mile." "Clark had six agents," LeRoy remembered. "They were all fighting. It was incredible. I had such a strong feeling that here was morle material of the beet sort that I almost fought with Warners to get them to sign him. But they said his ears were too big where have we heard that since! And how wrong they were!" T AKA TURNER was another of Le-Roy's discoveries. He had inter-viewed 50 girls for a certain role in "They Won't Forget," when Lana eame in. From 45 feet across the room, he called to her: "Will you sign a personal contract with me?" The word is that Lana almost fell flat on the floor from surprise. The sequel is that she signed naturally. And became a star within a very few minutes. There's an amusing sidelight on this story, too, for it was LeRoy who gave Lana her screen name. Her real one was Judy Turner. It seems that LeRoy had a girl when he was very young named Nona, and that name came into his mind as he was trying to think of one to replace the Judy. So, inspired by Nona, he invented Lana for the blonde and beauteous Miss Turner! He discovered Edward Arnold fb films, also Loretta Young, Glenda Far-rell and a score of others. Among Mervyn LeRoy's more recent discoveries, who is on the way toward fame and fortune now, is Pat Dane, said by him to be one of the most beautiful girls he has ever seen. He saw her in the chorus line of "The Great Ziegfeld" and got that certain feeling he gets about star pros- pects. So far, she is already living up to his expectations, although she has not yet had a role that is equal in importance to the one entrusted to Susan Peters in "Random Harvest." JJUT, to return to Susan. Her real name was Susanne Carnahan. Born in Spokane, Wash., she and her mother came to Hollywood when Susanne was still an infant. She went to school and finally ended up at the now famous Hollywood High School where the talent scouts are almost as thick as the pupils if you can believe the number of new faces that are found there every season! She was grabbed on the very day that she matriculated. So far so good. But the good didn't last. Miss Carnahan was immediately renamed with-out her knowledge. , She became Sharon O'Keefe. "It wasn't me!" she exclaimed, telling about the summary renaming job put over on her. "It was too stagy and I hated it. So I struck. I don't know how I got away with it. At the time I was so much one of the lesser lights just made a few tests. So they gave me a list of 50 names and I chose Susan Peters;" Before long, Susan Peters became known around the Warner lot as the . young actress who had made the most tests and been given the fewest roles. Bits, with perhaps a word or two to speak, were all she received. Then, her option was dropped. For a gal with less of a mind of her own than Susan Peters, this might have marked Finish across her career. But Susan makes a lot of sense. Two years before, when she first signed up at .Warners, she had given herself three years. If she didn't hit the stardom jackpot by then, she told herself, she would give up and take up another profession. Well, she had still a year to go. And Lady Luck took a hand in the proceedings. Mervyn LeRoy was searching madly for a young actress to play Kitty, the girl who is desperately in love with Ronald Colman in "Random Harvest," but renounces him because she loves him so deeply. He saw one of the innumerable tests Susan had made and called her for an interview. She was hardly seated in the chair beside his desk when Mervyn LeRoy said: ' "Would you like to play Kitty?" "Is it big?" she asked. "The third in the picture." "Yes, thank you, Mr. LeRoy. I'd love to!" Star-picker LeRoy likes to quote her next remark, saying it is indicative of her character. "You know," she added absently. "That' will be nice. I can buy a new dress for my mother and grandmotherl"

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