Make your own free website on Tripod.com

THE OLD MOVIE MAVEN . . . The Website

colleenmooreandherfairycastle.jpg

Home
CONTACT US
A TRIBUTE TO OUR MILITARY
A CAST OF CHARACTERS
A CALENDER OF MOVIES: What to Watch When
A CALENDAR OF MOVIES: Christmas - "The King of Kings" (1927)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
ABBOTT & COSTELLO
AMERICAN CLASSIC MOVIES INTRODUCTIONS
ANIMALS AND THE MOVIES
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Sets
ARCITECTURE: Ancient Egypt
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Bernheimer Residence
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Ennis-Brown House
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Evan Thompson's Bottle House
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Greystone Manor
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Hearst Castle
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Hollywood Sign
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Homes of the Stars
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Jean Harlow
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Maps and Floor Plans
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Pickfair
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Rispin Mansion
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Royal Hawaiian Hotel
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Scotty's Castle
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Shelby House
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: West Hollywood Historical Association
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Whimsy
ARCHIVES: VOLUME 1
ARCHIVES: VOLUME 2
ARCHIVES: VOLUME 3
ASSORTED SHORT CLIPS
"B" MOVIES
B - MOVIES: Serials
B - MOVIES: Series
B - MOVIES: Television Series
THE BARRYMORE FAMILY
BIOGRAPHIES
BLOOPERS
BOBBY "BORIS" PICKETT
BUSTER KEATON
CARLA LAEMMLE
CARTOONS
CHARLIE CHAN ANNEX
CHARLIE CHAN: Asian Actors in Hollywood
CHARLIE CHAN: Bloopers & Bonus Questions
CHARLIE CHAN: The Books and Their Movies!
CHARLIE CHAN: Chang Apana
CHARLIE CHAN: Charlie's Sons
CHARLIE CHAN: Chemicals
CHARLIE CHAN: Chronology
CHARLIE CHAN: Criminal?!?!*
CHARLIE CHAN: Extras
CHARLIE CHAN: Gilbert Martines and Chang Apana
CHARLIE CHAN: Hawaii Steve
CHARLIE CHAN: Maps
CHARLIE CHAN: Maven and Rush Glick's Interview in . . . "Monster Bash"!
CHARLIE CHAN: Movie Eras
CHARLIE CHAN: Movie Notes
CHARLIE CHAN: Murder Rate
CHARLIE CHAN: On The Town
CHARLIE CHAN: Puzzles and Quizzes
CHARLIE CHAN: Quiz and Puzzle Answers
CHARLIE CHAN: Radio Shows
CHARLIE CHAN: Spookies
CHARLIE CHAN: Transportation
CHARLIE CHAN: Weather
CHILDREN'S CORNER
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Holiday Crafts
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Boats and Planes and More
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Paper Dolls
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Fun Stuff to Read
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Boys' Town
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Colleen Moore's Castle
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Judy Bolton
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Nancy Drew
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Nancy Drew (For Older Fans!)
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Shirley Temple
COMEDIANS
COPPER CAPERS: FBI's and CIA's!
COSTUME DESIGNERS
DASHIELL HAMMETT
ETTA KIT
FASHIONS IN FILM
FILM NOIR
FOOD CENTRAL
FOREIGN FILMS
GENRES
GINGER ROGERS
HALLOWEEN FUN!
HALLOWEEN 2011: Movies to Watch
HALLOWEEN RECIPES
HAROLD LLOYD
HAUNTS: Hollywood and Elsewhere
HAUNTS: Winchester House
HISTORY: Hollywood and Elsewhere
HOLLYWOOD'S SCANDALS AND CRIMES
HOLLYWOOD'S . . . CRIME: Greystone Mansion Murder
HOLLYWOOD'S . . . Crime: Jean Harlow and Paul Bern's Muder?
HOLLYWOOD'S . . . CRIME: Tate/LaBianca Murders
HOLLYWOOD'S . . .CRIME: William Desmond Taylor Murder
HOLLYWOOD'S MARRY-GO-ROUNDS
HORROR - SCIENCE FICTION
HORROR - SCI FI: Annex
HORROR - SCI FI: The Atomic Submarine (1959)
HORROR - SCI FI: Bela Lugosi
HORROR - SCI FI: Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi
HORROR - SCI FI: Boris Karloff
HORROR - SCI FI: Dracula (1931)
HORROR - SCI FI: Frankenstein (1931)
HORROR - SCI FI: Gojira (1954) & Godzilla (1957)
HORROR - SCI FI: Invaders from Mars (1954)
HORROR - SCI FI: King Kong
HORROR - SCI FI: Lon Chaney
HORROR - SCI FI: Nifty Fifty's Creature Features
HORROR - SCI FI: Nightmare Theatre with Gorgon
HORROR - SCI FI: Ray Harryhausen
HORROR - SCI FI: Stephen King
HORROR - SCI FI: Universal Studios
HORROR - SCI FI: Universal Monster Genealogy
HORROR - SCI FI: Wes Davis
HORROR - SCI FI: The Witch's Dungeon
HOLLYWOOD SQUARES
HUSTON FAMILY
I LOVE LUCY
INTERVIEWS
JOHN WAYNE
JONATHAN GEFFNER
JOSEPHINE BAKER
KAY LINAKER
LEI MAKING
LOCATIONS
MDs - RNs - RNBs - OH MY!
M.D.S . . . - The Crime Doctor Series
MAGIC IN MOVIES
MAKEUP ARTISTS
MAKEUP ARTISTS: The Westmore Family
MARX BROTHERS
MARY ASTOR
MARY PICKFORD AND DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS
MAVEN'S LIBRARY
MAVEN'S WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT
MUSIC
MUSIC: Dancers
MUSIC: The Lyrics
MYSTERIES
MYSTERIES: A Warning For Those Who Give Away The Endings!
MYSTERIES: Alfred Hitchcock
MYSTERIES: The Bat
MYSTERIES: D. W. Griffith vs. Mary Roberts Rinehart
MYSTERIES: Gum Shoes
MYSTERIES: Old Dark Houses
MYSTERIES: S.S. Van Dine
MYSTERIES: S.S. Van Dine - The Kidnap Murder Case
ORSON WELLES
PERRY MASON
QUIZZES AND PUZZLES
QUIZ ANSWERS
QUOTES From Hollywood
QUOTES From Hollywood Movies
QUOTES From Dorothy Parker
QUOTES Dorothy Parkers' "The Waltz"
RADIO SHOWS: Vintage Series
RECIPES OF THE WEEK
RECIPES OF THE WEEK: More about the Recipes
RECIPES OF THE WEEK: A Rejuvenating Diet
REVIEWS
REVIEWS - Mini Mavens
RONALD REAGAN
RUDOLPH VALENTINO
SEX IN THE CINEMA
SHIRLEY TEMPLE
SILENT MOVIES
TAYLOR SCHULTZ: Hollywood Sculptor
TRANSPORTATION IN THE MOVIES: Aviation
VINCENT PRICE
VINCENT PRICE: Connoisseur
WHAT'S MY LINE?
THE WHISTLER
THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
colleenmoore.jpg
"I was the spark that lit up Flaming Youth," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Colleen Moore was the torch.  What little things we were to have caused all that trouble."
 
In 1926, the  heyday of Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin, the number one box office attraction in the country was a spirited young actress named Colleen Moore, and the "trouble" she caused began with the most fateful haircut since Samson's.  A few years earlier, in order to wangle a part in a movie, she had bobed her hair.  When she appeared on the screen with her shorn locks, audiences gasped.   Filmdom's first flpper was born. . . .+
 
castlefront.jpg
   The idea for my own fairy castle--a miniature fairy castle--came not from Mr. Hearst [who had built his own castle at San Simeon] but from my father, though my doll house has the same feeling about it as San Simeon [William Randolph Hearst's Castle, http://www.hearstcastle.org].  When Hedda Hopper first saw it, she turned to me and said, "It's plain to see you've been to the Hearst ranch."
   The first doll house I ever had was one my mother and father made for me out of cigar boxes when I was two years old, though I know now they didn't make it for me so much as for he fun of doing it.  They even made the furniture.
   Through my childhood Dad made four more doll houses, each more elaborate than the last.
   Toward the end of my marriage to John,  Mother and Dad and I went to Hawaii for a few weeks in the hope that my being away from John for a while could straighten out his drinking problem.  One day on the boat going over, Dad said, "why do't we build a fairy castle to house your collection?"
   Kathleen's Collection, started those many years ago by my aunts, had, with additions my me and by friends in late years, grown into a really fine collection.
   "This time," Dad went on, "let's get an architect and artists and build a work of art."
   We hardly saw the beach at Waikiki.  We couldn't wait to get home.  Horace Jackson, who designed the sets at First National, was our choice for architect.  He was enchanted with the idea.  It was his suggestion that the architecture be unreal, making the castle look as if it had come from the pages of a storybook.  Harold Grieve was consulted as decorator.  He said the name of the period for the furniture should be Early Fairie.  He went on to say that the princess who lived in the castle must like antiques.  She would to to the antiques shops of fairlyand to find her furniture--King Arthur's round table for the dining room,  Sleeping Beauty's bed for her bedroom.  This was the premise on which we furnished the house.
castlefrontdoor.jpg
colleenmooresfairycastlediningroom.jpg
     I had the best time I had ever had in my life when we were creating the doll house, as we then called the castle.  Dad was in his element bossing every nail and joint as chief engineer.  He rented an empty shop in Glendale to do the work,  saying this doll house must be engineered so the rooms came apart and not end up like doll house number four.  Number four was built in the attic playroom.  When we moved, we couldn't get it through the door.  He also said it usn't be build like doll house number five, which warped in spite of the wood being plied four times.  This house must be made of aluminum, because aluminum was light as well as strong.  (Even so, the fairy castle, which measures nine feet square, its highest tower twelve feet from the floor, weighs close to 2000 pounds!)
   The plans were drawn, the scale one inch to the foot.  When Horace Jackson was seen wandering around the studio with a far-away look on his face, people would say, "Don't mind Horace.  He's just getting rid of his repressed desires in Colleen's fairy castle."  The whole studio knew about my folly, as I also then called it.  Much of the work was done by miniature workers at First National--men who made the scaled-down objects often used in movies for depicting fires, floods, earthquakes, and other great and otherwise too costly catastrophes.
   Each Room was built in wood first, then cast in aluminum.  We were told this was the first time aluminum had been used for casting.  It was done through what is called the lost wax process, which permits very fine detail in carvings.  When each room came back, a jeweler polished off the rough edges and made it ready for painting.  Finally we had the complete shell.  Next it had to be decorated and furnished.
colleenmooresfairycastleanotherview.jpg
   The fairy castle is fantasy throughout.  We would say, "What wouldn't peole have?"  Dad would say, "People wouldn't have a drawing-room floor made of rose quartz and jade."  I sent a sketch to Yamanaka's in New York, the famous collectors of Oriental art, and they sent it to Peking, China.  Nine months later my floor came home.
   News got about that I was building a completely mad doll house.  My friends James Montgomery Flagg and Arthur Wiliam Brown were in California again, so I took them to see it.  Hanging in the unfinished drawing room was a small brass chandelier trimmed with crystal beads.  Jim said, "That's no fairy chandelier.  If it were, it would be made of gold and hung with diamonds."
    Delighted with the idea, I took the brass one to Mr. Crouch, a Beverly Hills jeweler who had great imagination, asking him to copy it in gold. Then I held out a handkerchief filled with my jewels.  "And please put these on instead of the beads."
   He looked at me as if I were from another planet, then, fingering the emerald bracelet, the Oriental pearl chain, the square cut diamond ring, the necklace, he said,  "It could be very interesting."  He took the jewels out of the handkerchief but handed me back a chain from which hung a six-carat pear-shaped diamond.  "Take this home," he said.  "You must keep something."
   Two weeks later he called me and said, "Bring back that pear-shaped diamond.  I need it for the drop at the bottom if the fixture."  He had joined the club.  The Goofus Club, we called it, because everyone who worked on the castle went slightly balmy.
colleenmooresfairycastle1.jpg
     I wanted real electric bulbs for the chandelier.  Everyone said this was impossible, because no globes were made to my scale.  I went to a surgical supply company and asked if there wasn't an instrument which I'd read about in Time magazine for photographing the interior of the stomach which used a globe the size of a grain of wheat.  They showed it to me--a tiny bulb which screwed into a socket.  I took the name of the manufacturer, the Chicago Miniature Lamp Works, and wrote to them.  When they received my letter, they phoned me to say they would love to work on the lighting, that they not only made grain-of-wheat bulbs but other  small ones, and if necessary, they'd invent some new ones for me.  They, too, had joined the club.
   Sidney Hickox, my cameraman, came over one night with spotlights and laid out the indierect lighting effects.  Jerry Rouleau, a master electrician, carried out the plan.  More than two hundred people worked on the house at one time or another.
   And everyone had ideas.  "Punch a bigger hole in the weeping willow tree in the garden," someone would say.  "It isn't crying fast enough."  "Aladdin could never get through that trap door," somebody else would point out.  "It's too small.  His shoulders are a good two inches wide."  Nothing was too expensive, nothing too difficult to get.  From Start to finish, the fairy castle took sever years and cost almost half a million dollars.
   [That "almost" $500,000 cost at the time Moore's house was finished in 1935 would cost almost $8,000,000 in 2009 - 2010.]
colleenmooresfairycastleprincessbedroom.jpg
     The castle, which comes apart into two hundred pieces--with each room a separate unit--fits together like a Chinese puzzle.  It has a complete water works system.  Distilled water is released from a tower on top of the castle and circulated over and over through the use of centrifugal pumps.  A complete electrical system lights the house, with the electrical and waterworks system also coming apart at each room.  Inside the castle are nearly two thousand small objects from all over the world--many of them added in the years since its "completion."
   To give you an idea of the fairy castle, let me describe the bedroom of the fairy princess.  The room is about two feet long and a foot and a half wide.  The height is amost two feet.  We discovered, after throwing away a couple of models, that in miniature rooms one has to go overscale in height to give the appearance of reality.  To the eye, the height of the room looks about fourteen inches at most.
   The big problem was what to use for a floor. It had to be a romantic floor that woule be right for a tiny princess to walk on in her bare feet.  At church one Sunday I looked down at the cover of my childhood prayer book and found the answer.  A floor was made of small pieces of mother-of-pearl with a gold inlaid border.
   The walls are a very pale pink.  Over the door leading to the crystal and silver bathroom is a mural of Peter Pan. In the back wall there are two stained glass Gothic windows picturing happy songbirds, the windows very tall and narrow and of differnt heights to give a storybook look.  Between the windows stands a tiny ivory spinet.
   The boat-shaped bed which belonged to Sleeping Beauty is made of gold, the bedspread the golden spider web which covered her during her hundred-year sleep.
   By the bed is a pair of red satin slippers with leather soles and heels.  They were made by an Italian shoemaker who wanted to see if a pair of shoes could be made size double zero.  Even for fairyland this is small.  He, of course, qualified for the club.
castleprincessbedroom.jpg
   The dressing table is made of carved ivory.  On top is a gold toilet set, with the handles of the mirror and brush made of platinum set with diamonds,  and on the back of each a wee platinum crown.  I had difficulty finding anyone who would make a set as small as our miniature scale required.  The bristles of the brush presented the greatest problem.  Even a human hair was too coarse.  Finally Guglielmo Cini, a well-known Boston jeweler, undertook the job.
   One day his wife came home in the late afternoon and stood for a moment in the doorway, the sun hitting the fox fur piece she was wearing.  Cini looked up and yelled, "Don't move!"  With a scissors he trimmed off the very fine white guard hairs, using them for the bristles in the brush.
   The complete toilet set consists of comb, brush, mirror, nail file, and two boxes each smaller than the nail on my little finger--one for powder, the other a jewel box.  When Mr. Cini handed me the jewel box he said, "Look inside.  I've given the princess a present."  Inside was a minute engagement ring with a full-cut diamond--not a chip--the smallest full-cut diamond he could find in the markets of the world.  The ring is so small it won't go all the way down on a common pin.  Mr. Cini had also joined the club.
   In the front of the princess' bedroom is a small ivory table with a chair on each side. When I was showing the castle once to a prominent jeweler in Des Moines, Iowa, I pointed to a pair of diamond and emerald clips I was wearing and said, "Everything I won in jewelry is in the castle except these clips."
   He said, "They don't look like clips to me.  They look like chairs."
   I took them off, and he turned them into platinum chairs with backs of diamonds and and emeralds.  Those are the chairs by the table.
   Nearby is an ivory spinning wheel--the one Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on.  An ivory harp is, of course, "the harp that once through Tara's halls."  The other chairs in the room are of Battersea enamel--the ones given to my by the aunts when I was a child.
castleprincesbathroom.jpg
   The castle is rich through out in the lore of fairy tales.  In the courtyard stands Cinderella's coach.  In the great hall the goose that laid the golden eggs sits on a tiny gold and enamel table, a gold mesh basket holding several golden eggs beside her.  Under a glass bell on a rosewood table nearby stand the chairs belonging to the Three Bears.  each chair rests on the head of a pin, the largest chair weighing only 150,000th of an ounce.  Next to the chairs are etched glass windows overlooking the garden telling the stories of Jack and the Beanstalk, Prince Charming, and the Princess and the Seven Swans.  Mother Goose characters adorn the walls of the kitchen, the copper stove there is the one in which the wicked witch locked Hansel and Gretel. 
castlekitchen.jpg
antoniomoreno.jpg
   The library is filled with tiny, tiny books.  In the mid-1800s the printing of miniature books from real type was a widespriead hobby.  I have collected nearly a hundred of these small treasures.  Included in the collection is the smallest Bible in the world, printed in 1840 and given to me by Antonio Moreno after he played opposite me in Her Wild Oat (1927).
   My modern library is my most cherished posession.  I have had made up scores of beautifully bound books with blank pages not quite an inch in size.  Many of my friends have been helpful in getting their author friends to handwrite in these small books.  Robinson Jeffers wrote an origial Irish poem--quite gay and laughing in contrast to his dramatic Roan Stallion and The Women at Point Sur.  Sinclair Lewis made up a small sotry about Arrowsmith going to Hollywood to try to break into the movies.  There are books by Conan Doyle, Louis Bromfield, Booth Tarkington, Elinor Glyn, Willa Cather, Clare Boothe Luce, John Steinbeck, Thornton Wilder, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Edna Ferber, Fannie Hurst, Daphne du Maurier, Irving Stone, Edward Albee, and, of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald.  And many more--nearly a hundred of the most famous authors of our time.
   The Library also contains a postage-stamp size autograph book.  I am very snobby about this book.  Each name in it is that of someone who has made a real contribution to twentieth century history.  Orville Wright for aviation.  J. P. Morgan for finance.  Henry Ford for business.  (Remember when he startled the world by doing so radical a thing as to pay five dollars a day to labor!)  Wally and the Duke of Windsor, the romance of our age.  Admiral Richard E. Byrd for adventure.  All the Presidents since Hoover except Kennedy (I thought I had time--he was so young).  Einstein, Churchill, Eisenhower, Pershing, Nehru, De Gaulle, Queeen Elzabeth II, the Crown Prince of Japan, and so many others.
   In the Drawing Room are several music scores handwritten by their composers--among them Rachmaninoff's Prelude, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, Rodgers and Hammerstien's Oh, What a Beautiful Monin'!, Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band, and a special favorite of mine, West Side Story, by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim--Stephen being the son of my longtime friend Foxy Sndheim.
castleprincesbedroom.jpg
castleprincesbedroomanotherview.jpg
    Of the many stories connected with furnishing the fairy castle, one of my favorites concerns the rug on the floor of the prince's bedroom.  I took an ermine skin to a taxidermist and asked him to make it into a bearskin rug, head and all.  He said he could make the bear's head, but not with his mouth open, because he couldn't think of any way to duplicate the bear's teeth in miniature (this was before the age of plastic).  When I went to pick up the rug I was astonished to see the bear's mouth yawning wide and filled with white, wicked-looking teeth. The taxidermist beamed at me.  "I caught a little mouse," he said, "and used his teeth."
castleprincessbathroom.jpg
   We decided not to put any figures in the doll house. When we tried, the dolls looked static and dead.  With an empty castle and a full imagination, it's easy to people the rooms with running, laughing elves and fairies.  (I have often asked children looking at the doll house what they liked best, and oftne the answer has been, "I liked best the little fairy who was baking a cake in the kitchen," or "I liked best the little fairy who was playing the organ in the chapel.")
   The caslte was started in 1928 and finished in 1935.  I had built it for my own amushement--and amazement--regarding it as a beautiful toy, an extravagance, a folly, even, but one which had brought me more happiness then I'd ever known before.
castlechapel.jpg
+Silent Star:  Colleen Moore; Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Garden City, New York; 1968; front dust jacket flap.
 
*Silent Star:  Colleen Moore; Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Garden City, New York; 1968; pages 231 - 245.
 
colleenmooreatsamgoldwynparty.jpg

     Maven has come across a new website for Colleen Moore that has a lot of information, even while it is still underconstruction (something that Maven understands thoroughly!):  http://www.colleenmoore.org