Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105have been found of his sets, the 1950 Snelling profile in People included this reference to the first Los Angeles trip: ‘Shortly after he found accommodation with three American students, he got small time jobs designing sets for plays and films.’ There is no record of Snelling listed in the Los Angeles City Directory or telephone book of this time and no record in the contractors list for MGM–Hal Roach’s film Swiss Miss of his claim to have painted set backdrops for this Laurel and Hardy vehicle. Snelling’s New Zealand articles of 1938–39 also described his attendances at movie previews and premieres—the most spectacular being for In Old Chicago, launched at the Four Star Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard: This public premiere looked as if it might be really outstanding so I accepted an invitation and joined a party which included Billie Burke, King Vidor, Patricia Zeigfeld (Billie’s daughter), Nancy Carroll and Edgar Bergen (without Charlie McCarthy). We started off with a sumptuous dinner at the Ambassador Hotel—at which the studio officials and stars were present. (I won’t attempt to describe this dinner but will say that it was valued at 47/6 each without the wine list!) From the Ambassador Hotel, we could see a cluster of search lights sweeping the sky around the Four Star theatre. It seemed rather eerie, for the rays kept lengthening and foreshortening as they hit stray clouds in the sky and, to top it all, the Goodyear blimp, that flies over Hollywood every day, was floating idly over the theatre, every now and then to be transformed into a phosphorescent mass as it crossed the beam of one of the lights. The following drive along Wilshire Boulevard to the Four Star presented no unusual thrills, until we were within two or three blocks of the theatre. The entire block in which the theatre stood had been roped off. It took a few minutes to get through the large crowd assembled and when the car pulled up at the kerb, I was amazed at two things, firstly two small grandstands were standing across the footpath on either side of a carpeted entrance. People clammered to proffer their autograph books, but I was more amazed at the exploitation given to the face of the theatre. Was it on fire? The facade was glowing from the light of rows of red spotlights, and from windows and corners of the building, steam and smoke was pouring forth with staccato– like hisses. It was really a marvellous effect. Other Hollywood landmarks and locations that Snelling possibly visited on this trip were the Chateau Marmont Hotel off Sunset Boulevard, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Hollywood Bowl (featured in a film Snelling worked on called A Star is Born), the Hollywood Music to people in all walks of life. He was handsome, athletic and dapper, with a confident but not ostentatious personality, impressive creative skills and (judging by his perceptive writing) intelligent and lively conversation. His later articles and media interviews are peppered with anecdotes about his social life—although he avoided references to romantic relationships. For example: A visit to Catalina Island, where most of the big–sea pictures are made, proved very interesting. Mr Snelling met Frederic March, who is just completing The Buccaneer, and enjoyed the thrills of water–skiing, towed by Mr March’s launch. Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell were also at Catalina at the same time. A weekend at Clark Gable’s fishing camp, Lake Arrowhead, was another experience that will remain long in Snelling’s memory. Clark Gable, he said, proved a fine host and a most agreeable companion. Most of the time, said Mr Snelling, Clark Gable drives around in an old motor–truck, although he possesses several magnificent cars. He prefers his truck because he is usually off on a shooting or fishing trip, and has so much gear to carry around with him. Snelling also advised his readers about the pleasure of meeting Laurel and Hardy on the set of Swiss Miss, being filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City. George introduced me to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy—or ‘Babe’ as Hardy is known to studio employees. To quote from a recent letter I had from George Thomas: ‘News round the Studio is about as slim as Connie Bennett’s waistline. One thing we can claim—and that’s the biggest thing in Hollywood—is that ‘Babe’ Hardy has gained four pounds in weight and now tips the scale at a cool 322 pounds.’ That’s 23 stone in New Zealand! No wonder he’s called ‘Babe’. Stan Laurel, I found, was very entertaining to talk to, and very soon Stan’s favourite subject cropped up, and conversation turned to fish stories. Stan is an ardent fisherman and owns a fine yacht from which he pursues this sport. Of course I had to tell Stan about our own fisherman’s paradise, the Bay of Islands, and I guess I must have painted a pretty good word picture because Stan was all for leaving Santa Catalina and Santa Cruz Islands behind and trying his luck out here. Other film sets visited by Snelling were Mad About Music (Deanna Durbin), Lancer Spy (George Sanders), The Varsity Show (Dick Powell), Lone Wolf in Paris (Francis Lederer), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn) and Radio City Revels (Jack Oakie). Members of Snelling’s family recall being told that he designed Hollywood film sets and his New Zealand retail display experience would have made him capable of such assignments. While no photos DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 24 25 1937–1940 1937–1940