Wednesday, August 18, 2010
An Interview with Silent Screen Star John Gilbert's Daughter...coming soon
One Sunday night last January I turned on Turner Classic Movies and happened upon the documentary, Rediscovering John Gilbert. One of Gilbert's great silent classics, Bardelys the Magnificent (1926, directed by King Vidor), had aired earlier, and though I'd missed it, I watched the documentary beginning to end.
Prominently featured in the film on Gilbert was his daughter Leatrice who, I learned, had written a biography of her father in the mid-1980s: Dark Star: The Untold Story of the Meteoric Rise and Fall of the Legendary John Gilbert. Interested, I decided to pick up the book and tracked down a copy on Amazon.
In the course of all of this I also managed to make contact with Leatrice Gilbert Fountain and we began a friendly correspondence. For example, when I read in Dark Star that John Gilbert had attended Hitchcock Military Academy for a time and realized that the school had been located in the town where I live, I shared this with Leatrice (and later let her know that I'd found the spot where it once stood).
A blog that I posted here at the Cafe, "Blue Angel of Mercy? Another view of Marlene Dietrich," was inspired by a section in Dark Star on Dietrich's relationship with John Gilbert and about her relationship with young Leatrice following Gilbert's death. Both Leatrice and I were very happy when Movie FanFare asked to republish the blog.
And then last month I received TCM's schedule for August and discovered that John Gilbert was to be honored with his own day as part of the annual "Summer Under the Stars" showcase. I contacted Leatrice and we eventually decided to do a phone interview to be published here at the Cafe. Our conversation was a delight...and Leatrice is a jewel - intelligent, articulate, amusing and very warm and kind.
Leatrice Gilbert Fountain's interview will post here on August 23. My hope is that the blog does as much to pay tribute to Leatrice, who has devoted many years to restoring her father's reputation, as it does to promote viewing the films of John Gilbert on TCM, Tuesday, August 24, beginning 6am Eastern/3am Pacific.