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 105They told him he photographed well and that he was the right type; so maybe his clever pencil will give him an opportunity desired by thousands. He is a good dancer and fair pianist, and won first prize at last winter’s Wanganui movie ball for a clever impersonation; so he has qualifications for a screen career. By August 1938, Snelling appeared to have firmed up his moves to break into acting. The NZ Talkies magazine of that month reported that the United States Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was planning to make a film in New Zealand which would showcase the country’s history, scenery and contemporary culture. Support had been promised by the New Zealand Railways, the Union Airways and the shipping companies. The article, accompanied by a shadowy photograph of Snelling at the microphone, continued: Much credit must be given to the men whose initiative and resource are responsible for this undertaking. Mr F Williams is the production director and Mr Lee Hill will be in charge of the camera. Mr Douglas Snelling, radio commentator of the National Broadcasting Service, will play a leading role in the film. Mr Snelling, who comes from Wanganui, has just returned from Hollywood, where he spent nine months learning much about the latest methods of picture production and where he is noted for his striking resemblance to actor Errol Flynn. Although that film venture, and Snelling’s acting hopes, soon evaporated, he continued to build a national profile. From around April 1938 to August 1939, he was constantly in touch with New Zealanders through his regular 2ZB radio slots, articles crammed with his Hollywood recollections for The Mirror, The NZ Woman’s Weekly, The New Zealand Free Lance and other popular magazines, as well as his regular appearances at cinemas around the country. Before a new film was shown to first–nighters, he would glide across the stage to a microphone to introduce the production, show black–and– white slides of his caricatures of the stars and reveal behind–scenes details about how the films were made. But Snelling’s progress was not entirely smooth. For example, while promoting the film Lancer Spy in his old home town in early April 1938, he told a reporter from the Wanganui Chronicle that he had met the star of the film, George Sanders, on the set and had found him to have ‘an air of arrogance‘ in both character and real life. In the Wanganui Herald next day, a contradictory paragraph read: ‘Mr Snelling had the pleasure of meeting George Sanders, whom he describes as an unaffected and very likeable Englishman. He is a man of immense stature, being over 6ft 6ins in height.’ and cement, with the fervor of a Christian convert spreading the gospels. Snelling attributes his brilliant originality, his daring theories on design, to Wright’s influence. In other twists to his tale told many years later, Snelling claimed to have met Wright when he lectured to a salon that Snelling attended, that he had shown some of his drawings to the maestro, who told him he had talent and should learn architecture. He also told some members of his family that he worked with Wright on the VC Morris gift shop in San Francisco (1948). The latter assertion also was not true. Although he was in Los Angeles with his first wife, Nancy, when this project was in production, Wright was based in Chicago and the Snellings did not go there. Further confusing matters, Snelling is listed in Elizabeth Kassler’s Taliesin Fellowship Directory of Members 1932–1982 as having worked at Taliesin in 1935—an erroneous note supplied in the early 1950s by Australian architectural critic Donald Johnson (who included admiring words about Snelling’s first unbuilt projects in the last chapter of his 1980 book: Sources of Australian Modernism 1901–1951. The wrong date – Snelling was in New Zealand in 1935—is one of many factual inaccuracies which litter the public records of Snelling’s career, and his own writings. A notable factor in Snelling’s maturing character was an evident sense of his destiny to achieve public recognition and status. He had the foresight to thoroughly document his Hollywood activities—with a diary and by gathering personal copies of photographs of himself and the stars on their sets, as well as prints of his portrait sketches, and other Hollywood memorabilia. He also was strategic enough to keep in touch with key contacts back in New Zealand—and when word of his foreign exploits reached the media in Wellington, he was offered a regular 15 minute film gossip slot on 2ZB radio. So six months after his arrival in the United States—when his visa ran out—Snelling was back on board the Aorangi, departing Vancouver on 16 February to arrive in Auckland on 7 March 1938. Within a fortnight of his return, the New Zealand Free Lance published another admiring report about him, headed: ‘He Has Made A Good Start: Young New Zealander in Hollywood’. After describing Snelling’s ‘fairy tale’ in the film capital, it hinted that the young artist had begun to develop ambitions to become a star himself. Now he is on his way back to New Zealand under contract to broadcast a series of ‘Young Man About Hollywood’ talks. There is something in the air about joining up as a player in the films if he does well over the air. DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 28 29 1937–1940 1937–1940