The Club Foot, the Lover, and the Hero

1209067_369102429886428_1354585622_nLeslie Howard who was probably best remembered as “Ashley” in Gone with the Wind died June 1, 1943, on a flight from Lisbon to London, his aircraft was shot down by a German Junker over Bay of Biscay. This was long inspired theories as to why the plane was targeted. I always love a good conspiracy theory. First, Winston Churchill was rumored to have been on the flight, he was scheduled for a similar flight the same day and this may have been leaked to Germans, but Churchill was always said to have a sort of sixth sense when it came to his safety so chose to take a flight the following day. Another was that Howard was specifically targeted because he was very involved with anti- Nazi propaganda. His star power helped in this effort immensely, this it was no secret to Nazi Germany and they shot the plane down to demoralize Britain. Howard was reportedly involved with the British secret service so this would make Howard the main goal. It is also said that the Allies knew that Howard’s flight was targeted, so his life as well as all on board were sacrificed to preserve important secrets.
Whatever the reason behind the plane being shot down, it was a great loss to Hollywood, Great Britain, and the war effort. Leslie Howard was a brilliant actor and quite the Lothario (I know hard to believe with his fair, angelic looks and mild manner), who counted Tallulah Bankhead, Merle Oberon, Conchita Montenegro as women he was involved with, who once said“..he did not chase women…but couldn’t always be bothered to run away.” Co-star and friend David Niven said Howard was “…not what he seemed. He had the kind of distraught air that would make people want to mother him. Actually, he was about as naïve as General Motors. Busy little brain, always going.”
He also is credited to having given Humphrey Bogart his break into movies. In Outward Bound (1930) with Bette Davis he reportedly insisted that they cast Bogart in the movie. They had both previously starred in a play together and became lifelong friends. Lauren Bacall and Humphrey named one of their daughters Leslie Howard Bogart.
The year after Howard died he was voted the second most popular local star at the box office by British exhibitors.
While I liked him in Gone with the Wind, he was so outshined by Gable, I always would get pissed that Scarlet was so blind to what was right in front of her eyes (which, I KNOW is the whole point of movie). He was fantastic and absolutely my favorite as the sad, sad, sad, club footed sap in Of Human Bondage (1934) with Bette Davis, he was as sweet, trusting, and so idiotically naïve perfectly paired to Bette Davis who was the coldest of bitches. I mean take the most evil female you can imagine and times it by like 100 and you have not even reached the Mountain that is called Bette the Bitch in this movie. Watching them destroy one another is utterly sorrowful as it is suspenseful. ****DISCLAIMER!!! So if you are feeling suicidal…please don’t take my suggestion of watching my favorite Leslie Howard movie. Watch something like Reserved for Ladies (1932) it is a romantic comedy and won’t make you feel all doom and gloom and possibly lead you to drinking like Of Human Bondage will.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ripley Trout
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 08:08:03

    Niven was a great man for a turn of phrase.

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    Reply

    • Dagmar Tully
      Apr 10, 2014 @ 11:27:17

      He really was!! I just read the article about the flasher at the 1974 Oscars and his not missing a beat with his response. Wonderful.

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      Reply

      • Ripley Trout
        Apr 20, 2014 @ 07:10:45

        Hi, some kindly but deluded soul (*slurps) nominated me for a Liebster award which is daft but does allow me to nominate a couple of people in turn whose blogs I most like and one of them is you. If you want to accept it, apparently the tradition is that you have to answer questions about yourself. Details in the post here: http://wp.me/p3Se2x-3l

        Like

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