The Year Was 1938 – May 25th

Boris Morros in 1938
  • Boris Morros, musical director at Paramount has been made an officer of the French Legion in recognition of his work in behalf of the music of France. [This item bears more scrutiny. I have run across his name repeatedly in my research into this era. I was aware of his position at Paramount (he hired composers and conductors on a film by film basis). And Paramount was not his only master – for he played the same role for Walter Wanger films – ‘Blockade’ for this year, and ‘Stagecoach’ for 1939. He must have had a special agreement with Paramount. And the mention of the French honor seems strange, as he was Russian, and as of 1934 had been enlisted as a Soviet spy, and was actively in contact with a handler from 1936 on – until 1947 when he became a counterspy for the FBI. A movie based on him was made in 1960 ‘Man on a String’].
  • The Senate of the US passes an anti-block booking bill that will change the way film companies do business, if it also passes the House. Though the latter is not likely for the moment, with the remake of Congress after the elections, things could change.
  • (This led in 1940, to the gov’t opening up an investigation into the practice, which eventually led to legislation against block booking and studios owning theaters).
  • Selznick is pairing Carole Lombard with Jimmy Stewart for “Made for Each Other.”
  • Joe Penner, vaudeville and radio comedian has been signed to headline on an RKO film scheduled for the fall football season. “Mr Doodle Kicks Off” will include Lucille Ball as his college sweetheart. Production to commence in June. [Lucille Ball must have had something else to do, because June Travis took the female lead in this opus. Penner has one film for 1939 – ‘The Day the Bookies Wept’].
  • Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen have finished the first song for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – The Jitterbug, Judy Garland will sing the tune. [The number was filmed, but left off of the final version, the running time being the main consideration].
  • Going before the cameras today at Paramount – ‘Bulldog Drummond in Africa.’ John Barrymore was to have played one of the roles, but was replaced by H B Warner. Barrymore was tied up in ‘Spawn of the North,’ and was slated for the upcoming ‘Zaza.’
  • Harold Lloyd putting on a private exhibition of his water colors. [The film comedian had only the one film this year – ‘Professor Beware,’ and nothing for 1939. In fact nothing at all until 1947].
  • Clark Gable’s stand-in Lew Smith given his first speaking role by Metro. [For this speaking role I could not locate what film it was for at MGM, but he is listed as Gable’s stunt double for Gone with the Wind].
  • Henry Fonda presented with birthday pipes by James Stewart and Chico Marx. (See May 19th, for mention about his May 16th birthday).


  • George Stevens back from a hunting tour in New Mexico. [On a prior date I knew he was looking in Mexico for location to shoot ‘Gunga Din.’ Perhaps he was mixing pleasure with business].
  • James Cagney due back from Martha’s Vineyard in June for work at WB in ‘Angels with Dirty Faces.’


  • Early silent film star Maurice Costello has sued for maintenance from his daughter, Dolores Costello, a later silent film star, (and was probably a bigger name than his, having the sobriquet “The Goddess of the Silent Screen,” and having been the wife at one time to John Barrymore). She had been paying him $200 per month for ten years, but since she had been paying the medical bills for her ailing sister for almost two years, she could no longer afford to carry him at that rate.
  • Bibles have been placed in dressing rooms at all major studios by the Gideons.
  • Ed Sullivan writes about ‘The Coolest Sets in Town” – the ice rink at 20th Century Fox where Sonja Henie is making ‘My Lucky Star.’ (See May 9th and May 18th). The one constructed at Paramount for ’Spawn of the North’ – a stream in Alaska, beside which a grip had the enviable job of sitting by the tank and paddling the water so that the water will glimmer in the lights – George Raft and Dorothy Lamour in their heavy parkas would gladly exchange places with him. And the snowstorm scene on a stage at RKO on the film ‘Ground Crew,’ in which the star Richard Dix forgets the reality and tosses a cigarette only to ignite the ‘cotton snow.’ [‘Ground Crew’ was released as ‘Sky Giant’].

The Sad Tale of Lieutenant Bayard E Hand Part One

The Sad Tale of Lieutenant Bayard E Hand Part One

Sometimes you look at the data for an individual and something about it does not look right. So you look deeper for an explanation, a reason for why they don’t make sense. Take for instance the two dates connected with the Naval Academy and Midshipman Bayard E Hand of Georgia. He was appointed from that state’s fourth district by Representative Hugh A. Haralson on April 7, 1847. He graduated (or became a Passed Midshipman) from the Academy on June 10th 1853. That would seem to indicate that he was six years at the Academy. But not so.

It is helpful to know the history of an institution to better understand the details about an individual attached to that institution. When the academy was founded in 1845 it was called simply the Naval School and set up with a 5 year course – the first year ashore – three at sea – and the last back at the school. But it underwent a reorganization in 1850. From then on it was to be called the Naval Academy and the course extended to a total of seven years, the first 2 at the academy – 3 at sea – and the last 2 at the Academy. Only a year later this was revised again to 4 yrs at the Academy and practice cruises to give them experience at sea.

Bayard was caught in the middle of all these changes. Though appointed in 1847, he did not report to Annapolis at this time. Perhaps, because Bayard attended the University of Georgia the year before, he did not need to spend his first year at Annapolis. And the fact that the Mexican War was in full swing may have been a factor. Originally he was ordered to ship out of New York City aboard the USS Ohio for the Pacific and the blockade of Mexican ports there. Instead he wound up in Norfolk and shipped on the US frigate Brandywine for the Brazil Station.

When the Brandywine returned she put into New York in December of 1850. Hand did not go to Annapolis at this time either, rather he was on leave until October 1851 when he departed on the US sloop Cyane, then attached to the Home Squadron. This meant patrols along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. Aboard the Cyane, Hand met the poet James Barron Hope, who would later dedicate his poem “A Story of the Caracas Valley” to him.

After the Cyane’s return in June 1852, and another short leave, Hand finally reported to Annapolis. He would put in a total of nine months on this “shore” duty, graduating as noted above in June of 1853. So looking at the totals, Bayard E Hand had been in the navy a total of five years and eight months, of which one year he was on leave, nine months physically at the Naval Academy, and three years and eleven months at sea.

Two months after becoming a Passed Midshipman, Bayard was again off for the Brazil Station for another three year cruise. That would take half of the six years he had left to live.

The rest of his story next time.