Thursday, December 31, 2015

"White Heat" Director Raoul Walsh 1980 Assumption Cemetery

Raoul A. Walsh (March 11, 1887 – December 31, 1980) was an American film director, actor, founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the brother of silent screen actor George Walsh. He was known for portraying John Wilkes Booth in the silent classic The Birth of a Nation (1915) and for directing such films as The Big Trail (1930) starring John Wayne, High Sierra (1941) starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart, and White Heat (1949) with James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien. His last directorial effort came in 1964.



Walsh was born in New York as Albert Edward Walsh to Elizabeth T. Bruff, the daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants and Thomas W. Walsh, an Englishman. Like his younger brother, he was part of Omega Gamma Delta during his high school days. Growing up in New York, Walsh was also a friend of the Barrymore family. John Barrymore recalled spending time reading in the Walsh family library as a youth. Later in life he lived in Palm Springs, California.[1] Upon his death he was buried at Assumption Catholic Cemetery, Simi Valley, Ventura County, California.[2]

Film career

Walsh began as a stage actor in New York City, quickly progressing into film acting. He was educated at Seton Hall College and began acting in 1909. In 1914 he became an assistant to D.W. Griffith and made his first full-length feature film, The Life of General Villa, shot on location in Mexico with Pancho Villa playing the lead and with actual ongoing battles filmed in progress as well as recreations (events dramatized in the 2003 film And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, with Kyle Chandler playing Walsh). Walsh played John Wilkes Booth in Griffith's epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), and also served as an assistant director. This was followed by the critically acclaimed Regeneration in 1915, possibly the earliest feature gangster film, shot on location in Manhattan's Bowery district. Walsh served as an officer in the United States Army during World War I. He later directed The Thief of Bagdad (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks and Anna May Wong and What Price Glory? (1926) starring Victor McLaglen and Dolores del Río.

In Sadie Thompson (1928), starring Gloria Swanson as a prostitute seeking a new life in Samoa, Walsh starred as Swanson's boyfriend in his first acting role since 1915; he also directed the film. He was then hired to direct and star in In Old Arizona, a film about O. Henry's character the Cisco Kid. While on location for that film Walsh suffered a car accident in which he lost his right eye when a jackrabbit jumped through a windshield as he was driving through the desert. He gave up the part (but not the directing job) and never acted again; Warner Baxter won an Oscar for the role Walsh was originally slated to play. Walsh would wear an eyepatch for the rest of his life.[3][4]

In the early days of sound with Fox, Walsh directed the first widescreen spectacle, The Big Trail (1930), an epic wagon train western shot on location across the West. The movie starred then unknown John Wayne, whom Walsh discovered as prop boy Marion Morrison and renamed after Revolutionary War general Mad Anthony Wayne, about whom Walsh happened to be reading in a book at the time. 

Walsh directed The Bowery (1933), featuring Wallace Beery, George Raft, Fay Wray and Pert Kelton; the energetic movie recounts the story of Steve Brodie (Raft), the first man to supposedly jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and live to brag about it.

An undistinguished period followed with Paramount Pictures from 1935 to 1939, but Walsh's career rose to new heights soon after moving to Warner Brothers, with The Roaring Twenties (1939) featuring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart; Dark Command (1940) with John Wayne and Roy Rogers (at Republic Pictures); They Drive By Night (1940) with George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino and Bogart; High Sierra (1941) with Lupino and Bogart again; They Died with Their Boots On (1941) with Errol Flynn as Custer; The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with Cagney and Olivia de Havilland; Manpower (1941) with Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich and George Raft; and White Heat (1949) with Cagney. Walsh's contract at Warners expired in 1953.

He directed several films afterwards, including three with Clark Gable: The Tall Men (1955), The King and Four Queens (1956) and Band of Angels (1957). Walsh retired in 1964.

Some of Raoul Walsh's film-related material and personal papers are contained in the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives, to which scholars and media experts from around the world may have full access.[5]

Selected filmography

As John Wilkes Booth in The Birth of a Nation 
The Pseudo Prodigal (1913), directorial debut 
The Life of General Villa (1914) 
The Mystery of the Hindu Image (1914) 
The Birth of a Nation (1915) 
Regeneration (1915) 
Carmen (1915), with Theda Bara 
The Silent Lie (1917) (aka: Camille of the Yukon) 
Betrayed (1917) 
The Conqueror (1917) 
The Woman and the Law (1918), with Jack Connors, Miriam Cooper and Peggy Hopkins Joyce 
The Prussian Cur (1918) 
Evangeline (1919), with his wife Miriam Cooper 
The Deep Purple (1920) 
Kindred of the Dust (1922) 
The Thief of Bagdad (1924), produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks, and featuring Anna May Wong 
What Price Glory (1926), his most successful silent movie, with Victor McLaglen and Dolores del Río 
The Lucky Lady (1926) 
The Loves of Carmen (1927), with Dolores del Río 
The Monkey Talks (1927) 
Sadie Thompson (1928), in which he acted alongside Gloria Swanson 
The Red Dance (1928), with Dolores del Río and Charles Farrell 
Me, Gangster (1928), debut of Don Terry 
The Cock-Eyed World (1929) 
The Big Trail with John Wayne; early location movie in widescreen and Wayne's first leading role (1930) 
The Man Who Came Back (1931) with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell 
The Yellow Ticket (1931) with Lionel Barrymore and Laurence Olivier 
Wild Girl (1932) with Charles Farrell, Joan Bennett, Ralph Bellamy, and Eugene Pallette 
The Bowery (1933) with Wallace Beery, George Raft, Fay Wray, and Pert Kelton 
Klondike Annie (1936) with Mae West and Victor McLaglen 
O.H.M.S. (1937) 
Jump for Glory (1937) 
St. Louis Blues (1939) 
The Roaring Twenties (1939) with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart 
Dark Command with John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Gabby Hayes (1940) 
They Drive by Night (1940) with George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart 
High Sierra (1941) with Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart 
The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland 
They Died with Their Boots On (1941) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland 
Manpower (1941) with Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich, and George Raft 
Desperate Journey (1942) with Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan 
Gentleman Jim (1942) with Errol Flynn and William Frawley 
Northern Pursuit (1943) with Errol Flynn 
Uncertain Glory (1944) with Errol Flynn 
Objective, Burma! (1945) with Errol Flynn 
The Man I Love (1947) with Ida Lupino 
Pursued (1947) with Robert Mitchum and Teresa Wright 
Cheyenne (1947) with Dennis Morgan and Jane Wyman 
Silver River (1948) with Errol Flynn 
Fighter Squadron (1948) with Edmond O'Brien 
White Heat (1949) with James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien 
Colorado Territory (1949), a remake of High Sierra with Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone, and Henry Hull 
Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951) with Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo 
Distant Drums (1951), remarkable for its innovative sound effects 
The Enforcer (1951) with Humphrey Bogart (uncredited) 
Blackbeard the Pirate with Robert Newton, Linda Darnell and William Bendix (1952) 
The World in His Arms (1952) with Gregory Peck, Ann Blyth and Anthony Quinn Gun 
Fury (1953), with Donna Reed and Lee Marvin 
A Lion Is in the Streets (1953), with James Cagney, and Lon Chaney Jr. 
The Lawless Breed (1953) with Rock Hudson 
Sea Devils (1953) with Rock Hudson 
Saskatchewan (1954) 
Battle Cry (1955) 
The Tall Men (1955) with Clark Gable and Jane Russell 
The King and Four Queens (1956) with Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker 
Band of Angels (1957) with Clark Gable, Yvonne De Carlo, and Sidney Poitier 
The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) 
The Naked and the Dead (1958), with Cliff Robertson, based on the best-selling novel by Norman Mailer 
Esther and the King (1960) 
Marines, Let's Go (1961) 
A Distant Trumpet (1964), final film

Walsh replaced director Bretaigne Windust, who fell severely ill, on "The Enforcer" and shot over half the film, but refused to take screen credit.


The Conqueror (Writer) (1917) 
The Big Trail (story contributor) (uncredited) (1930) 
Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (producer) (uncredited) (1951) 
The Lawless Breed (producer) (uncredited) (1953) 
Esther and the King (screenplay) (1960) 
The Men Who Made the Movies: Raoul Walsh (TV Movie documentary) Himself (1973)
The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh (Documentary 2014)


1. Meeks, Eric G. (2012). The Best Guide Ever to Palm Springs Celebrity Homes. Horatio Limburger Oglethorpe. p. 145. ISBN 978-1479328598. 
2. Raul A. Walsh at Find a Grave 
3. Directors 2 
4. Raoul Walsh – Films as director:, Other films
5. "Cinema Archives – Wesleyan University." 

Further reading

Moss. Marilyn Ann. Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood's Legendary Director (University Press of Kentucky; 2011) pp. 528
Smith, Renee D. The Films of Raoul Walsh: A Critical Approach (2013) excerpt and text search 
Paolo Bachmann, Raoul Walsh, Turin: Quaderni del Movie Club di Torino, 1977. (Italian) 
Jean-Louis Comolli, "L'esprit d'aventure," Cahiers du cinéma, n. 154, April 1964. (French) 
Toni D'Angela, Raoul Walsh o dell'avventura singolare, Rome: Bulzoni, 2008. (Italian) 
"Trafic", n. 28, Winter 1998. (French) 
"La furia umana," n. 1. 2009, (Italian)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"Eraserhead" Actor Jack Nance BEATEN TO DEATH in South Pasadena 1996

Marvin John Nance (December 21, 1943 – December 30, 1996), known professionally as Jack Nance and occasionally credited as John Nance, was an American actor.[2]

He was known for his work with director David Lynch, particularly for his roles in the films Eraserhead, Dune, Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart, as well as the television series Twin Peaks.[2]

I Don't Know Jack, a documentary about Nance, was funded by David Lynch and released in 2002.

Early life

Nance was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised in Dallas, Texas.[2] He graduated from South Oak Cliff High School. His father retired from Neiman Marcus.


Nance worked for some time with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California. In the 1970s, Nance met David Lynch, who cast him as the lead in Eraserhead.[1]

In his later years, Nance grew a small white moustache and was a distinctive presence in many films with his peculiar twisted smile and blue eyes. After Eraserhead, Nance remained on good terms with Lynch, who cast him in nearly all of his projects:

Dune (1984): small role; as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud 
Ghoulies (1984): small role; as Wolfgang 
Blue Velvet (1986): supporting role; as Paul, a friend/henchman of Dennis Hopper's villain character 
The Cowboy and the Frenchman (1988): as Pete, one of the cowboys 

Wild at Heart (1990): small role; as 00 Spool 

Twin Peaks (1990–1991): co-starring role as Pete Martell, the henpecked sawmill gaffer 

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992): reprised his role as Peter Martell, but his scenes were deleted 
Lost Highway (1997): small role; as Phil, a garage mechanic (one of his final acting roles) 

Nance guest-starred in "Weekend," a 1995 episode of the TV series My So-Called Life, in which he played an innkeeper. He also made a cameo appearance with actress Mary Woronov in Suicidal Tendencies' 1983 "Institutionalized" music video.[3]

Personal life

Nance was married to the actress Catherine E. Coulson (the future Log Lady in Twin Peaks), but they divorced in 1976.[1]

In May 1991 he married Kelly Jean Van Dyke, the daughter of Jerry Van Dyke. She worked in the adult film industry under the name Nancee Kelly. On November 17, 1991, Nance, who was in Bass Lake, California, filming Meatballs 4 at the time, called Van Dyke to end the relationship. As he attempted to console her, she threatened suicide if Nance hung up the phone. At that point, a lightning storm knocked out the phone lines in Bass Lake.

In the pouring rain, Nance went to the nearby lodgings of the film's director, Bobby Logan, seeking help. Logan recalls in I Don't Know Jack, "He says, 'I think my wife just killed herself.' Jack and I had a relationship on the set where we were always playing practical jokes on one another. I figured he was doing that to me. So I said, 'Being married to you, who could blame her?' And when I said that, suddenly a little tear trickled down his cheek, and I realised it wasn't the rain that had hit him in the face."[4]

With most of the phones in the area still out, it took Nance and Logan 45 minutes of driving around to find a deputy sheriff who contacted Los Angeles police and the apartment manager. They broke into her apartment and found that she had hanged herself.[5]


Nance died in South Pasadena, California on December 30, 1996 under mysterious circumstances. Nance told friends he had been beaten by a young homeless man outside a Winchell's Donuts shop near his apartment building in early morning hours of December 29.[1]

Jack Nance Apartment Building

Later that day, he lunched with friends Leo Bulgarini and Catherine Case. Nance had a visible "crescent shaped bruise" under his right eye and when asked about it, he related to them the story about the fight. He soon went home, complaining of a headache. Unknown to him, the head injuries he received from the altercation caused a subdural hematoma, resulting in his death the following morning. Nance died alone in his apartment. His body was discovered on the bathroom floor by Bulgarini shortly before 12 noon on December 30. An autopsy revealed that, in addition to the head injury responsible, Nance's blood alcohol level was .24 percent at the time of his death.[1] A subsequent police investigation failed to find evidence of the alleged fight.[1]

Donut Shop



Fools (1970) 
Jump a.k.a. Fury on Wheels (1971) 
Eraserhead (1977) 
Breaker! Breaker! (1977) 
Hammett (1982) 
Dune (1984) 
City Heat (1984) 
Johnny Dangerously (1984) 
Ghoulies (1985) 
Blue Velvet (1986) 
Barfly (1987) 
Colors (1988) 
The Blob (1988) 
Wild at Heart (1990) 

The Hot Spot (1990) 

Whore (1991) 
Motorama (1991) 
Meatballs 4 (1992) 
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (scenes deleted, 1992) 
Love and a .45 (1994) 
Voodoo (1995) 
The Demolitionist (1995) 
Across the Moon (1995) 
The Secret Agent Club (1996) 
Little Witches (1996) 
Lost Highway (1997) 


Weekend (1984) 
Crime Story (1 episode, 1987) 
Tricks of the Trade (1988) 
Twin Peaks (27 episodes, 1990–1991) 
Another Midnight Run (1994) 
My So-Called Life (1 episode, 1995) 
Fallen Angels (1 episode, 1995) 
Assault on Dome 4 (1996)


1. Smith, Kyle; Benet, Lorenzo (10 February 1997). "The Death of Twins Peak actor Jack Nance was as strange as the characters he played.". People. 
2. "Jack Nance, 53, An Actor Known For 'Eraserhead'". The New York Times. January 11, 1997. 
3. Rose, Cynthia. Interview with Mary Woronov. (Interview). 
4. "Private Video". YouTube. 

"Casablanca" Screenwriter Julius Epstein 2000 Hillside Cemetery

Julius J. Epstein (August 22, 1909 – December 30, 2000) was an American screenwriter, who had a long career, best remembered for his screenplay – written with his twin brother, Philip, and Howard E. Koch – of the film Casablanca (1942), for which the writers won an Academy Award. It was adapted from an unpublished play, Everybody Comes to Rick's, written by Murray Bennett and Joan Alison.[1]

His identical twin died in 1952, a loss Epstein felt for the rest of his life. He continued writing, receiving two more Oscar nominations. In 1998, he received a Los Angeles Film Critics Association career achievement award. His credits included Four Daughters (1938), for which he received his first Oscar nomination, The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), The Tender Trap (1955), Light in the Piazza (1962), Send Me No Flowers (1964), Pete 'n' Tillie (1972), and Reuben, Reuben (1983).


Epstein was born plain Julius Epstein[2] as a twin to his brother Philip on August 22, 1909 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, New York. Their parents owned a livery stable at a time when horses were widely used in the city. He and Philip both graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 1931, where they were champions in boxing; Julius became an NCAA Bantamweight Champion.[1] He graduated with a BA in Arts and Letters. He maintained close ties with Penn State throughout his life (often as a guest lecturer at the film school). At his request, he was buried in a Penn State polo shirt.

After college, the Epsteins went to Hollywood, hoping to work in the movies. They became successful screenwriters and began collaborating in 1939. They were noted for their Academy Award-winning Casablanca, written together with Howard Koch and the uncredited Casey Robinson.

Jack L. Warner, head of Warner Brothers, had a tortuous relationship with the Epstein twins. While he could not argue with their commercial acumen, he deplored their pranks, their work habits and the hours they kept. In 1952, Warner gave their names to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). They never testified before the committee, but on a HUAC questionnaire, when asked if they ever were members of a "subversive organization," they responded, "Yes. Warner Brothers."

Epstein married the actress Frances Sage and they had two children, James and Elizabeth. They later divorced. Epstein married Ann and they had a son Philip, who died in 2000.[1]

Julius Epstein died on December 30, 2000 in Los Angeles, California.[1] He is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Culver City. 


Epstein shared an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay of Four Daughters, written with Thyra Samter Winslow as an adaptation from Frances Hurst's novel, Sister Act.

In 1944, the Epstein brothers attempted their first film in the capacity of both writers and producers with "Mr. Skeffington." The picture was a box-office success and won both Bette Davis and Claude Rains Oscar nominations.[3][4] After leaving Warner Bros. in 1948, the Epstein brothers wrote five more screenplays together, two of which, "The Last Time I Saw Paris" and "The Brothers Karamazov," were released after Philip Epstein's death in 1952.[3]

Notable quote

About writing under the studio system of the 1930s and '40s, Epstein in a 1984 interview said:

"There wasn't one moment of reality in 'Casablanca.' We weren't making art. We were making a living. Movies in those days were prevented from reality. Every leading man had to be a great sexual athlete. Every boy and girl had to 'meet cute,' and the girl had to dislike the hero when they met. If a woman committed adultery, she had to die. Now the woman who commits adultery is your heroine."[1]


Four Daughters (1938), for which he received his first Oscar nomination for an adapted screenplay. Together, he and his brother collaborated on the following:[1]

The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) 
Casablanca (1942)
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) 
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) 
Mr. Skeffington (1944)

After his brother's death in 1952, Epstein continued to write. His later films include:

The Tender Trap (1955) 
Light in the Piazza (1962) 
Send Me No Flowers (1964) 
Pete 'n' Tillie (1972) 
Reuben, Reuben (1983). 

These last two were each nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.[1] He wrote screenplays for more than 50 films in his 50-year career.[1]


In addition to his own families, Epstein was close to his twin brother Philip. After his brother's death, Epstein looked out for Philip's son, Leslie, who became a novelist and director of the creative writing program at Boston University. Epstein was the great-uncle of Leslie's children: Theo Epstein, current Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations and former Boston Red Sox general manager, and Anya Epstein, a television writer. He also has two living children: a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, James Epstein, who is a criminal lawyer in Los Angeles. He had another son, Philip Epstein, who died in 2000.

Legacy and honors

1939, nomination for Academy Award for his adapted screenplay for Four Sisters, adapted from Fannie Hurst's novel, Sister Act. 
1943, Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Casablanca, adapted from an unproduced play, Rick's Cafe 
1973, nomination for Academy Award for his adapted screenplay for Pete n' Tillie, adapted from two novels by Peter De Vries. 
1984, nomination for Academy Award for screenplay of Reuben, Reuben, based on a De Vries novel. 
1998, Los Angeles Film Critics Association career achievement award. He received a Writers Guild of America Award.


1. "Julius Epstein, Prolific Screenwriter Who Helped Give 'Casablanca' Its Zest, Dies at 91". New York Times. January 1, 2001. Julius J. Epstein, a screenwriter of sharp, sardonic dialogue who won an Academy Award for the script of Casablanca, died here on Saturday. He was 91.  
2. The middle initial J. was added at an early stage of his career when he was working with a small advertising agency started by a college friend. The printer who produced their calling cards said that Julius needed an initial in his name to balance his partner's, so Julius Epstein became Julius J. Epstein. Christopher Silvester. 
3. Joanne L. Yeck, “Julius and Philip Epstein,” Films and Filmmakers Series (Writers and Production Artists), St. James Press. 1987. 
4. Joanne L. Yeck, “Julius J. Epstein” an interview, Magill's Survey of Cinema, 1984, Salem Press, Inc. 1984.

Musician Artie Shaw 2004 Valley Oaks Cemetery

Artie Shaw (born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky; May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004) was an American clarinetist, composer, bandleader, and actor. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction.

Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists,"[1] Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Though he had numerous hit records, he was perhaps best known for his 1938 recording of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." Prior to the release of "Beguine" Shaw and his fledgling band had languished in relative obscurity for over two years and after its release, he became a major pop artist within short order. The record eventually became one of the era's defining recordings. Musically restless, Shaw was also an early proponent of what became known much later as Third Stream music, which blended elements of classical and jazz forms and traditions. He also recorded with small jazz groups drawn from within the ranks of the various big bands he led. He served in the US Navy from 1942 to 1944 (during which time he led a morale-building band that toured the South Pacific amidst the chaos of World War II), and following his discharge in 1944 he returned to lead a band through 1945. Following the break-up of that band he began to focus on other interests and gradually withdrew from the world of being a professional musician and major celebrity, although he remained a force in popular music and jazz before retiring from music altogether in 1954.[2]

Early life

Shaw was born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York City, the son of Sarah (née Strauss) and Harry Arshawsky, who worked as a dressmaker and photographer. His family was Jewish; his father was from Russia and his mother was from Austria.[3] Shaw grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, where, according to his autobiography,[4] his natural introversion was deepened by local antisemitism. Shaw began learning the saxophone when he was 13 years old, and by the age of 16, he switched to the clarinet and left home to tour with a band. Returning to New York, he became a session musician through the early 1930s. From 1925 until 1936, Shaw performed with many bands and orchestras; from 1926 to 1929, he worked in Cleveland and established a lasting reputation as music director and arranger for an orchestra led by the violinist Austin Wylie. In 1929 and 1930 he played with Irving Aaronson's Commanders, where he was exposed to symphonic music, which he would later incorporate in his arrangements.

Shaw first gained attention with his "Interlude in B-flat" at a swing concert at the Imperial Theater in New York in 1935.[5] During the swing era, his big bands were popular with hits like "Begin the Beguine" (1938), "Stardust" (with a trumpet solo by Billy Butterfield),[6] "Back Bay Shuffle," "Moonglow," "Rosalie" and "Frenesi." The show was well-received but forced to dissolve in 1937 because his band's sound was not commercial.[7] He was an innovator in the big band idiom, using unusual instrumentation; "Interlude in B-flat," where he was backed with only a rhythm section and a string quartet, was one of the earliest examples of what would be later dubbed third stream.[8] His incorporating of stringed instruments could be attributed to the influence of classical composer Igor Stravinsky.[7]

In addition to hiring Buddy Rich, he signed Billie Holiday as his band's vocalist in 1938, becoming the first white bandleader to hire a full-time black female singer to tour the segregated Southern U.S.[8] However, after recording "Any Old Time" she left the band due to hostility from audiences in the South, as well as from music company executives who wanted a more "mainstream" singer.[8] His band became enormously successful, and his playing was eventually recognized as equal to that of Benny Goodman: longtime Duke Ellington clarinetist Barney Bigard cited Shaw as his favorite clarinet player.[9] In response to Goodman's nickname, the "King of Swing," Shaw's fans dubbed him the "King of the Clarinet." Shaw, however, felt the titles were reversed. "Benny Goodman played clarinet. I played music," he said.[10] In 1938 DownBeat Magazine's readers agreed with Shaw's evaluation and named Artie Shaw as the King of Swing.[11]

Shaw took himself seriously as an artist and valued experimental and innovative music rather than generic dance and love songs, despite an extremely successful career that sold more than 100 million records.[5] He fused jazz with classical music by adding strings to his arrangements, experimented with bebop, and formed "chamber jazz" groups that used such novel sounds as harpsichords or Afro-Cuban music.

Like his main rival,[12] Benny Goodman, and other leaders of big bands, Shaw fashioned a smaller "band within the band"[6] in 1940. He named it Artie Shaw and the Gramercy Five after his home telephone exchange.[5] Band pianist Johnny Guarneri played a harpsichord on the quintet recordings and Al Hendrickson played an electric guitar, which was unusual in jazz recordings of the time. Trumpeter Roy Eldridge later became part of the group, succeeding Billy Butterfield. In 1940 the original Gramercy Five pressed eight records, then Shaw dissolved this band in early 1941. The Gramercy Five's biggest hit was "Summit Ridge Drive" and was one of Shaw's million-selling singles. A CD of The Complete Gramercy Five sessions was released in 1990.

His last prewar band, organized in September 1941, included Oran "Hot Lips" Page, Max Kaminsky, Georgie Auld, and Guarnieri.[13]

The long series of musical groups Shaw formed included such talents as vocalists Billie Holiday, Helen Forrest and, Mel Tormé; drummers Buddy Rich and Dave Tough, guitarists Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney, and Tal Farlow and trombonist-arranger Ray Conniff, among countless others. He composed his "Theme" song, the haunting, morose "Nightmare," with its Hasidic nuances, rather than use a more "accessible" song. It was as if Shaw was saying in musical terms that he and his band weren't inviting anyone to dance a la Goodman's "Let's Dance" nor were they getting sentimental over anything, a la Tommy Dorsey's "I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You." Whatever it was or whether or not there was any deeper meaning to it, Nightmare was a profoundly unique choice for a theme song especially in the face of what virtually every other swing band leader was doing; yet perhaps it did illustrate the deeper search for the meaning of anything in the mind of its intellectually driven composer. In a televised interview of the 1970s, Shaw derided the often "asinine" songs created in the song-mills of Tin Pan Alley that were the lifeblood of popular music of the period and which bands, especially the most popular (I.E., his own) were compelled to play night after night. In 1994, he told Frank Prial (The New York Times), "I thought that because I was Artie Shaw I could do what I wanted, but all they wanted was Begin the Beguine. " [14]

Pacific overtures

During World War II, Shaw enlisted in the United States Navy and shortly after formed a band, which served in the Pacific theater (just as Glenn Miller's wartime band served in the UK and Europe). After 18 months playing for Navy personnel (sometimes as many as four concerts a day in battle zones, including Guadalcanal), Shaw returned to the U.S. in a state of physical exhaustion and received a medical discharge.[15] After the war, the popularity of big bands declined, as crooners and bebop began to dominate the charts. In the late 1940s, Shaw performed classical music at Carnegie Hall and with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein.

Throughout his career, Shaw had a habit of forming bands, developing them according to his immediate aspirations, make a series of records and almost just as quickly disband them, as if his fundamental task of the moment was completed or perhaps he just got bored with what was becoming a routine. Either way, he generally did not stick around long enough to reap their success by touring and playing the hits for audiences who were more than eager to see and hear him and his band play them. Following the breakup of what was already his second band in 1939, he rarely toured at all, and if he did, his personal appearances were usually limited to long-term engagements in a single venue or bookings that did not require much traveling, unlike many bands of the era that traveled great distances doing seemingly endless strings of one-night engagements. It should be noted that apart from his interest in music, Shaw had a tremendous intellect and almost insatiable thirst for intellectual knowledge and literature. During his self-imposed "sabbaticals" from the music business his interests included studying advanced mathematics, as cited in Karl Sabbagh's The Riemann Hypothesis.[16] His first interregnum, at the height of his success, was met with disbelief by booking agents. They predicted that Shaw would not only be abandoning a million-dollar enterprise but that nightclub and theater owners would sue him for breach of contract. Shaw's offhand response was, "Tell 'em I'm insane. A nice, young American boy walking away from a million dollars, wouldn't you call that insane?" (As told to Tony Palmer in an interview for the "All You Need Is Love" TV documentary on the history of popular music.)

In 1954, Shaw stopped playing the clarinet, citing his own perfectionism, which, he later said, would have killed him. He explained to a reporter, "In the world we live in, compulsive perfectionists finish last. You have to be Lawrence Welk, or, on another level, Irving Berlin, and write the same kind of music over and over again. I'm not able to do that." and "I have taken the clarinet as far as anyone can possibly go. To continue playing would be a disservice."[17] He spent the rest of the 1950s living in Europe.

In 1983, after years of prodding by veteran band-booker Williard Alexander, the 73-year-old Shaw organized a new band and selected clarinetist Dick Johnson as bandleader and soloist. The 58-year-old Johnson, an accomplished woodwind and saxophone player and native of Brockton, Massachusetts, was no stranger to jazz having recorded numerous albums of his own and he had idolized Shaw's playing throughout his life. Shaw's music library, which was the product of his almost twenty years of activity in the music business, contained numerous arrangements of monumental status of popular music in addition to many original big band jazz compositions of its era. It was a collection of music arranged by some of the foremost composer/arrangers of the period, much of which was sketched out by Shaw himself and filled in and completed by his orchestrator/arranger collaborators, among them Jerry Gray, William Grant Still, Lennie Hayton, Ray Conniff, Eddie Sauter and Jimmy Mundy, just to name a few. Shaw rehearsed his new band (based out of Boston, Massachusetts) and the band made its official debut on New Year's Eve 1984 at the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York, which had been the same launching pad for many bands of the Swing Era decades earlier, when Shaw himself and his bands were in their prime. Shaw appeared with the band throughout its first few years, limiting his role to being its conductor and front man while leaving the clarinet playing duties to Johnson. In 1985, another week-long series of strenuous rehearsals followed during which Shaw added more repertoire, including many arrangements and compositions that were from the later years of his career but which Shaw had never recorded. By 1987 though, Shaw was no longer touring with the band, quietly content that Johnson and the band kept true to Shaw's spirit and vision for it. He would however, show up on occasion "just to hear how things sounded."

Canadian filmmaker Brigitte Berman interviewed Hoagy Carmichael, Doc Cheatham and others including Shaw for her documentary film Bix: Ain't None of Them Play Like Him Yet (1981) about Bix Beiderbecke, and afterward she went on to create an Academy Award-winning documentary, Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got (1985), featuring extensive interviews with Shaw, Buddy Rich, Mel Tormé, Helen Forrest, and other musicians in addition to Shaw's seventh wife, actress Evelyn Keyes. The documentary ends with Shaw rehearsing his new band with co-leader Johnson present, and rolls to credits perhaps quite fittingly with the band taking a final segue to Shaw's theme song Nightmare. In 2000, filmmaker Ken Burns interviewed Shaw at his home for his PBS documentary/miniseries Jazz in which Shaw appears in multiple segments. Shaw's last major interview was in 2003, when he was interviewed by Russell Davies for the BBC Television documentary, Artie Shaw – Quest for Perfection. It also included interviews with surviving members of his original bands as well as Johnson and other music industry professionals.

Shaw donated his papers, most of which amounted to his music library of over 700 scores and parts and approximately 1,000 pieces of sheet music to Boston University in 1980. In 1991 the collection was transferred to the School of Music of the University of Arizona in Tucson. In 2004, he was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Personal life

A self-proclaimed "very difficult man,"[18] Shaw was married eight times; two were annulled and the others all ended in divorce: Jane Cairns (1932–33 annulled); Margaret Allen (1934–37); actress Lana Turner (1940); Betty Kern, the daughter of songwriter Jerome Kern (1942–43); actress Ava Gardner (1945–46); Forever Amber author Kathleen Winsor (1946–48, annulled); actress Doris Dowling (1952–56); and actress Evelyn Keyes (1957–85).[19] He had one son, Steven Kern, with Betty Kern, and another son, Jonathan Shaw, with Doris Dowling.[19] Both Lana Turner and Ava Gardner later described Shaw as being extremely emotionally abusive. His controlling nature and incessant verbal abuse in fact drove Turner to have a nervous breakdown, soon after which she divorced him. Shaw also briefly dated actress Judy Garland in 1939.[20]

In 1946, Shaw was present at a meeting of the Independent Citizens' Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions. Olivia de Havilland and Ronald Reagan, part of a core group of actors and artists who were trying to sway the organization away from Communism, presented an anti-Communist declaration which, if signed, was to run in newspapers. There was bedlam as many rose to champion the communist cause, and Artie Shaw began praising the democratic standards of the Soviet constitution.[21] In 1953, Shaw was forced to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist activities. The committee was investigating a peace activist organization, the World Peace Council, which it considered a Communist front.

He was a precision marksman, ranking fourth in the United States in 1962,[5] as well as an expert fly fisherman. In his later years, Shaw lived and wrote in the Newbury Park section of Thousand Oaks, California. He died on December 30, 2004, at the age of 94. According to his publicist, he had been "in ill health for some time, but I don't know the specific cause of death." In fact, Shaw had long been suffering from diabetes.[22] 

Artie Shaw is buried at Valley Oaks Cemetery in Westlake Village. 

In 2005, Shaw's eighth wife, Evelyn Keyes sued Shaw's estate, claiming that she was entitled to one-half of Shaw's estate pursuant to a contract to make a will between them. In July 2006, a Ventura, California jury unanimously held that Keyes was entitled to almost one-half of Shaw's estate, or $1,420,000.[23]


Shaw did many big band remote broadcasts, and throughout the autumn and winter of 1938 he was often heard from the Blue Room of New York's Hotel Lincoln (now the Milford Plaza). Following tours throughout the spring and summer of 1939 Shaw and his band were resident at the Cafe Rouge of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York. That same period of the fall of 1938 into much of 1939, was the period of his only regular radio series as headliner, with comedian/humorist Robert Benchley acting as emcee.[5] Sponsored by Old Gold cigarettes, Shaw broadcast on CBS from November 20, 1938, until November 14, 1939. It was at the Cafe Rouge where Shaw literally "quit" his own band that very week in November and "escaped" to Mexico. The band carried on without Shaw into January but ultimately broke up without him. Following Shaw's return from Mexico in 1940, and still under contract to record for RCA Victor, he recorded Frenesi with a group of session musicians in Hollywood. Shaw's "experiment" recording six tunes on the Frenesi session - to try and incorporate a jazz band into a group of strings and woodwinds ended up creating another monster-hit record for Shaw with Frenesi, and he was signed to be the house bandleader for the Burns and Allen Show for 26 weeks emanating from Hollywood beginning in July 1940. Shaw reorganized again with a full-time band that was much along the lines of his previous swing band concept of 1937-39 but to its instrumentation he added six violins, two violas and one 'cello thereby adding a small string section to it. The addition of a string section to a "popular" big band was not new, as it had been done by Paul Whiteman and others since the 1920s. What Shaw did was modernize the concept however and bring it in line with what was going on in popular music and jazz in 1940 at what was the height of swing as a purely musical progression in its development. The presence of the strings also gave Shaw a wider tonal palette to draw from in conceiving original compositions and arrangements of current pop tunes, which he could then use to his advantage as an instrumentalist and which allowed him to focus more on ballads and musical textures and subtleties as a consummate soloist as opposed to just leading another frenetic swing band (a concept he had abandoned the previous year in 1939); at least to the degree he could get away with it and still be considered a "popular dance band." By now Shaw was at or near the top of the short list virtuoso jazz instrumentalists fronting any sort of band large or small. The band was showcased on the Burns and Allen program each week and Shaw's contract was renewed for another 13 weeks when the program transferred to New York. Shaw broke up the Hollywood band keeping a nucleus of seven musicians in addition to himself and filled out the ensemble with New York musicians until it all came to an end in March 1941.

While taking a few months off in the spring of 1941 to reassess what to do next, Shaw furthered his musical development and during the summer he recorded in another small group format with three horns and a four-man rhythm section with the addition of a dozen strings, and by September he was re-forming another big band, this one with seven brass, five saxes, four rhythm and 15 strings to go out on tour. Remote broadcasts of this band coming from ballrooms where they appeared have this band performing in very good form and Shaw dazzling the crowd with his clarinet playing. Three months into the tour the 31-piece band was in the midst of a matinee performance in Providence, Rhode Island, when Shaw was handed a note by the stage manager to read on stage. The day was December 7, and notice had just come in that the Japanese air force bombed Pearl Harbor, and the note handed to Shaw for him to read aloud was an instruction for all military personnel in the audience to report at once to their bases. When a large portion of the audience in the theater left immediately, Shaw knew at once it was all over and following the performance the band was put on notice. One more recording session date was made in January 1942 and this edition of Artie Shaw and his various bands and orchestras came to a rather abrupt end.

Shaw enlisted in the Navy and following his discharge in 1944 he formed another band, this time what could be considered a "modern" big band in that it contained what is now considered the de facto "standard" of eight brass and five saxes. It did not include any strings and was based in Hollywood, California, where Shaw was living at the time. Shaw continued to record for RCA Victor records as he had before the war and limited the band's personal appearances to military bases in California, and a number of remote broadcasts of this band performing live also exist. Shaw's long-standing recording contract with RCA ended and he made his last records for them in August 1945. Thereafter he signed with an independent label, Musicraft records, but broke up the band at the end of the year. He made a few records for Musicraft before the band broke up and all of the subsequent recordings for Musicraft from 1946 were all staffed by top-notch session musicians. The big band was back in the studio, but so too were the strings, and it was on these Musicraft recordings in 1946 that Shaw featured the young singer Mel Tormé and on some of the sides he also featured Torme with his vocal group the Meltones.

In 1940 and at the height of his popularity, the 30-year-old Shaw reportedly earned up to $60,000 per week.[5] For a comparison, George Burns and Gracie Allen were each making US $5,000 per week during the year that Shaw and his orchestra provided the music for their radio show.[24] He also acted on the show as a love interest for Gracie Allen, although it was these sort of situations he disliked having to be a part of as part of the celebrity pop-culture of the period.[25]

Shaw's recording of "Nightmare" was used as the theme soundtrack for BBC Radio's adaptation of the Philip Marlowe novels by Raymond Chandler.

Films, TV and fiction

Shaw made several musical shorts in 1939 for Vitaphone and Paramount Pictures. He portrayed himself in the Fred Astaire film, Second Chorus (1940), which featured Shaw and his orchestra playing Concerto for Clarinet and his 1940-41 Hollywood period Star Dust band can be heard throughout the soundtrack. The film brought him two Oscar nominations, one for Best Score and one for Best Song ("Love of My Life").[26] He collaborated on the love song "If It's You" sung by Tony Martin in the Marx Brothers' film, The Big Store (1941). In 1950 he was a mystery guest on What's My Line?, and during the 1970s he made appearances on The Mike Douglas Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Many of his recordings have been used in motion pictures. His 1940 recording of "Stardust" was used in its entirety in the closing credits of the film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Martin Scorsese also used the Shaw theme song, "Nightmare," in his Academy Award-winning Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator.

Shaw credited his time in the Navy from 1942 to 1944 as a period of renewed introspection.[4] After his discharge he entered psychoanalysis and began to gradually withdraw from music to pursue a writing career. His autobiography, The Trouble With Cinderella: An Outline of Identity, was published in 1952 (with later reprint editions in 1992 and 2001). Revealing downbeat elements of the music business, Shaw explained that "the trouble with Cinderella" is "nobody ever lives happily ever after."[4] He turned to semi-autobiographical fiction with the three short novels in I Love You, I Hate You, Drop Dead! (1965, reprinted in 1997), which prompted Terry Southern's comment: "Here is a deeply probing examination of the American marital scene. I flipped over it!"[27] Shaw's short stories, including "Snow White in Harlem," were collected in The Best of Intentions and Other Stories (1989). He worked for years on his 1000-page autobiographical novel, The Education of Albie Snow, but the three-volume work remains unpublished. Currently, through Curtis International Associates, the Artie Shaw Orchestra is still active.


1. "Artie Shaw". AllMusic. 
2. Nolan, Tom (2011). Artie Shaw, King of the Clarinet: His Life and Times. New York: W. W. Norton. pp. xiii–xv (Preface). 
3. Who Is Artie Shaw...and Why Is He Following Me?. 
4. Shaw, Artie (1952). The Trouble with Cinderella. Farrar, Straus and Young. 
5. White, John. Artie Shaw. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004. 
6. Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 2, side B. 
7. "Shaw, Artie (Arthur Jacob Arshawsky) – - Jazz Music – Jazz Artists – Jazz News" 
8. Greene, Meg. Billie Holiday: A Biography. Greenwood Pres, 2006. 
9. Zwerin, Mike. "Remembering Artie Shaw." 23 January 2005. 
10. Jenkins, Todd. "The Last Post: Artie Shaw." 2004. 
11. 1938 DownBeat Readers Poll. 
12. "". 
13. "PBS - JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns: Selected Artist Biography - Artie Shaw". 
14. Prial, Frank J. "At Home with: Artie Shaw; Literary Life, After Ending the Beguine," The New York Times, August 18, 1994. 
15. Susman, Gary. "Goodbye." Entertainment Weekly, January 3, 2005. 
16. Sabbagh, Karl. The Riemann Hypothesis: The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004. ISBN 0-374-52935-3 
17. Freedland, Michael. "'Jazz is like jumping off a cliff.'" Telegraph, 15 March 2001. 
18. Wadler, Joyce. "Artie Shaw, Without Music." New York Times, 5 January 2005. 
19. "Artie Shaw." Telegraph, 1 January 2005. 
20. Turner, Lana (1982). Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth. Dutton Adult; 1st edition. pp. 40–49. ISBN 978-0525241065. 
21. Meroney, John (September 7, 2006). "Olivia de Havilland Recalls Her Role – in the Cold War". The Wall Street Journal. 
22. "Jazz giant Artie Shaw dies at age 94." Associated Press, 31 December 2004. 
23. "Artie Shaw's ex-wife gets half of estate." USA Today, 25 July 2006. 
24. "Business and Finance: Nat and Googie." TIME Magazine, 30 January 1933 
25. "Dismuke's Hit of the Week." 20 January 2005. 
26. Wilson, Jeff. "Artie Shaw, 94: Top bandleader of swing era." Toronto Star, 30 December 2004. 
27. "Books." The Artie Shaw Foundation. via the Wayback Machine.


Tom Nolan, Artie Shaw, King of the Clarinet: His Life and Times (W. W. Norton, New York, 2011). 
John White, Artie Shaw: His Life and Music (Bloomsbury Academic, London, 2004). 
Vladimir Simosko, Artie Shaw: A Musical Biography and Discography (Scarecrow Press, Lanham, MD, 2000).