Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Birmingham Photos of the Day (73): Stay Hungry

In the summer of 1975 a group of bodybuilders including Arnold Schwarzenegger descended on Birmingham. Their mission? To appear in Stay Hungry, a film directed by Bob Rafelson with a script by Charles Gaines based on his 1972 novel. Gaines's family had moved to the city in the early 1950's when he was ten. He later earned a bachelor's degree at Birmingham-Southern. Stay Hungry was his first novel and set in the city's bodybuilding culture. You can read details of the plot here

The film's two leads are played by Jeff Bridges and Sally Field, who would return to Alabama in a few years to film Norma Rae in Opelika. Several other notable actors and individuals appear in the large cast. Included are two Alabama natives, R.G. Armstrong [Pleasant Grove] and Fannie Flagg [Birmingham]. Musician and actor Scatman Crothers would later appear in The Shining, Stanley kubirck's film of the Stephen King novel. Beginning in 1984 Robert Englund became famous as Freddy Kreuger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Roger Mosely is probably best known as the helicopter pilot T.C. in the original Magnum, P.I. television series. Joanna Cassidy has acted in numerous films, including 1982's Blade Runner as one of the replicants. Richard Gilliland has had a long career in film and television. So has Ed Begley, Jr.; one of his best known roles is probably a surgeon in the wonderful St. Elsewhere series [1982-1988].

Notables also appear uncredited. Bodybuilders Robby Robinson, Ken Waller & Ed Corney, one of Schwarzenegger's training partners make appearances. Janelle Kirtley was a Birmingham native, world champion water skier, and Sally Field's ski trainer for the film.

The photos below were taken in Birmingham during the filming of Stay Hungry. Many more can be seen here.













Bodybuilder lifting a man over his head 

Photo by Edouard Bruchac for the Birmingham News 




Arnold and another bodybuilder in a gym

Photo by Charles Nesbitt for the Birmingham News 

Source: Alabama Mosaic 



Arnold and two other men at the gym

Photo by Charles Nesbitt for the Birmingham News

Source: Alabama Mosaic 



Bodybuilders running past Boutwell Auditorium

Photo by Ed Jones for the Birmingham News 

Source: Alabama Mosaic 



Bodybuilders running through what was then known as Woodrow Wilson Park, now Linn Park

Photo by Ed Jones for the Birmingham News





Bodybuilders atop a bus on June 27, 1975

Photo by Edouard Bruchac for the Birmingham News 

Source: Alabama Mosaic 




Arnold during an interview at the Guest House Motor Inn

Photo by Charles Nesbitt for the Birmingham News 




Yes, Arnold plays the fiddle in this film

Source: Apocalypse Later film blog, which has an excellent review



Yes, like many of the rest of us, Sally Field and Jeff Bridges were once really this young.

Source: AllPosters 



Saturday, November 16, 2019

Alabama History & Culture News: November 16 edition





Here's the latest batch of links to just-published Alabama history and culture articles. Most of these articles are from newspapers, with others from magazines and TV and radio station websites. Enjoy!


PRICELESS POSTCARDS: Pioneer Museum puts Hall's collection on display
There are postcards of the big cities in Southeast Alabama including a historic view of the Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Birmingham's Third ...


3 vineyards near Birmingham, AL that are nothing to wine about
Birmingham, AL has no shortage of delicious food, stunning natural scenery, ... Corbin Farms is an Alabama winery with a rich history of bringing top ...

Alabama on Disney+: Watch these connections from the new streaming service's amazing selection
Here is where Alabama fits into Disney history, at least how you can find it ... Alabama natives George Lindsey (voicing Trigger, left) and Pat Buttram ...

On this day in Alabama history: Auburn Tigers basketball coach Sonny Smith was born
On this date, former Auburn men's basketball coach Sonny Smith was born in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. He served as a head coach for 22 seasons ...

Hoover Historical Society meeting
Hoover Historical Society Meeting Nov. ... Speaker Dr. Jonathan Bass will tell about Alabama Bicentennial, "How Drunk can ... Alabama in the 1830's" ...

San Ann Building – Alabama Highway 168. 20. Hillcrest Cemetery. 21. First Bank of Boaz. 22. Manor House. 23. Sand Mountain Auto Auction Original ...

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts celebrates Ala. history in art
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts celebrates Ala. history in art ... Thursday, with a bicentennial symposium it calls “Bearing Witness: Art of Alabama”.


Loxley celebrates founders with day full of events
The day began with the dedication of two historic markers on Alabama 59, one commemorating the founding of the town located at Loxley Municipal ...

Absolutely Alabama: Janney Museum
Absolutely Alabama: Janney Museum ... The Janney Furnace but preserves the rich history of an entire region, a history which is Absolutely Alabama.


Exhibit pays tribute to state's history
A traveling exhibit in celebration of Alabama's bicentennial is now on display at the Alabama Center for the Arts, according to a press release.



Alabama's bells ring with history
The climb up the bell tower looks daunting. Thomas Kaufmann, historic preservationist and author of the newly published “Historic Alabama Bells,” ...

Brattleboro Historical Society: FBI fugitive found in Brattleboro
We'll go back to the beginning of the story to explain how Alabama's Audrey Hilley ends up getting interviewed in the Brattleboro Police Station by the ...


5 reasons you want to get to know and love Birmingham's Five Points West community
This neighborhood with a rich history has uplifting community leaders that are ... Five Points West is home to the historic Alabama State Fairgrounds.


Historic Harrison Brothers Hardware getting a window treatment
Historic Harrison Brothers Hardware on the courthouse square in Huntsville, ... The upgrade is funded by a $7,123 grant from the Alabama Historical ...



Wedowee Middle School celebrated Alabama's Bicentennial with trip to Montgomery
While there, the group toured the Capitol Building, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Governor's Mansion and Old Alabama Town.


Alabama Legacy Moment: Marshall Space Flight Center
Alabama Public Television is producing a series of videos titled “Alabama Legacy Moments” that offer a quick history of the people, places and stories ...

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama State University opened doors with 113 students
On this day in Alabama history, the current Alabama State University (ASU) opened its doors with 113 students in Marion. It was founded by nine ...

Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen on Veterans Day
A ceremony honoring the historic Tuskegee Airmen was held Monday in Macon County at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field.

History of Montgomery's 200-year-old Old Elam Baptist Church
Old Elam Baptist Church in Montgomery County is one of the oldest churches in south Alabama. Its historic growth is preserved with the hope of ..


Montgomery, Ala., Was a Hub of the Slave Trade and a Center of the Civil Rights Movement. It's ...
They met in 1960, around the time the elder Reed was at Alabama State ... The historical significance of Reed's win can be seen within about a ...

Mobile's Saenger Theatre announces mold removal is complete
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- The mold removal process at Mobile's historic Saenger Theatre is complete, the theater announced today via social media.


Voyagers who opened up the Gulf of Mexico are focus of Mobile author
Don Noble of Alabama Public Television said that the book “leaves the ... “The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History” is being released by the University ...


Book examines how Alabama's food traditions shape our culture
I really wanted to use food as a gateway to explore other parts of our history and our state's story. AL: Why use food to explore Alabama's history?


Alabama 200th history exhibit now at Tuscaloosa library
Tuscaloosa County is now hosting a statewide traveling exhibit documenting the state's 200-year history. “Making Alabama: A Bicentennial Traveling ...

On this day in Alabama history: William Bell took seat in county government
Birmingham Mayor William Bell speaks at the kickoff of Birmingham Innovation Week in 2016. (Michael Tomberlin / Alabama NewsCenter). Nov.


"The third property is a cemetery that we have associated the owner as Prichard Memorial Cemetery," said Pritchett. The Alabama Association of ...


On this day in Alabama history: Community Kitchens opened its doors
Community Kitchens opened its doors to the hungry on Nov. 11, 1980. Community Kitchens is a non-profit organization that provides free meals to ...

Friday, November 15, 2019

Woodrow Hall in Woodlawn

A few weeks ago Dianne and I attended some readings and conversation with various fiction authors held at the Desert Island Supply Company in Birmingham's Woodlawn neighborhood. I've written about that event here. I wanted to write a bit in this post about the historic building in which the readings took place.

Woodrow Hall was constructed in 1914 as the Woodlawn Masonic Temple. Woodlawn Fraternal Lodge no. 525 occupied the three-story structure until 2004. Since then the building has been redeveloped into offices and an events center. The aforementioned Desert Island Supply Company offers tutoring and creative writing opportunities for secondary school students. The space is also used for musical performances, readings, and so forth. 

The photos below show part of the building at the Desert Island corner and a few features on the other front corner. All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. Woodrow Hall is located at 5500 1st Avenue North. You can read about the history of Woodlawn here





Photo by Amos Wright
















Wednesday, November 13, 2019

John Vachon, Alabama and Marilyn Monroe

Having been a Marilyn Monroe fan for many years--well, decades, really--I've been looking for an Alabama connection to write about on this blog. However tenuous it may be, I've found one, so here we go.

Back in December 2014 I did a blog post on some photographs of downtown Gadsden taken in December 1940. The photographer was John Vachon. In a collection of his letters Vachon noted in one that he stayed at the Gadsden Hotel on Friday and Saturday nights for that December visit.

I wrote a bit about his biography in that post. "Vachon was one of a number of photographers who traveled America from 1935 until 1945 documenting conditions and activities during the Depression and WWII for the U.S. Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information. He worked for the OWI in 1942 and 1943. Almost 8300 of his photographs can be seen here. Vachon was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1914 and died in 1975." 

After the war Vachon continued to work as a photographer until his death. He was a staff photographer at Life magazine from 1947 until 1949. He also worked at Look magazine from 1947 until it ceased publication in 1971. 

In March 1943 Vachon took a number of photographs in Montgomery that turn up in the Yale University resource cited above. There's also one from Evergreen in that same month and two from Birmingham in December 1940. You can see a few below. Thus he seems to have made at least two trips to Alabama.

Now about that Monroe connection. In mid-August 1953 Vachon went to Banff in Alberta, Canada, where the film River of No Return starring Monroe and Robert Mitchum was being shot. Marilyn was recovering from an accident; she had her left ankle wrapped and was using crutches. Yet within a few days Vachon managed to take a number of formal and candid photographs. Unfortunately, only a few were used by Look for an article "Location Loafing" in the October 1953 issue. The remainder went unseen until many years later when the book Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost Look Photographs was published in 2010. 

In September after Marilyn returned to Los Angeles, Look sent another photographer and some of those shots were included in the November issue, including on the cover. That photographer was Milton Greene. The two became friends, and by 1957 in some 53 sessions Greene took many of the most iconic photos of the actress. 

A few of Vachon's Alabama and Marilyn photos are below. The Library of Congress has a large collection of his papers etc. Daughter Christine Vachon is an independent film producer.  



Further Reading


Andersen, Kurt. The Photographs of John Vachon, 2010

Vachon, John. John Vachon's America: Photographs and Letters from the Depression to World War II. 2003

Wallis, Brian and John Vachon. Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost Look Photos. 2010








John Vachon in 1943

Source: Wikipedia




A truck driver refuels in Evergreen at three a.m. on his route from Montgomery to Mobile




"Peace be unto you" sign at a Birmingham steel plant December 1940





A woman sweeping leaves in Birmingham in December 1940

Source: Yale Photogrammar



Confederate monument at the state capitol grounds in Montgomery March 1943




Montgomery truck driver Marvin Johnson reads the "funnies" to his children, March 1943




Source: Blog post by Tara Hanks 31 January 2011. The post has much information about the session in Canada and many more photos.






































Monday, November 11, 2019

Alabama History & Culture News: November 11 edition



Here's the latest batch of links to just-published Alabama history and culture articles. Most of these articles are from newspapers, with others from magazines and TV and radio station websites. Enjoy!

On this day in Alabama history: Rheta Grimsley Johnson was born
Rheta Grimsley Johnson was born in Colquitt, Georgia, but grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and attended Auburn University. At Auburn, she won ...

Making history: Mobile woman becomes first, black woman to open a barber school
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- An Alabama woman is changing the barber game in the port city. Not only by working in a male dominated industry, but also ...

Bid to remove homes from historic district sparks concerns
A member of the Alabama Historical Commission told the city that there was no issue with changing the local boundaries to match the National ...


On this day in Alabama history: Willie Mays named MVP
Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants won the National League's Most Valuable Player award for the second time. Mays, a native of Westfield in ...

On this day in Alabama history: Thomas Cain was born
Musician, songwriter, producer and publisher Thomas Cain was born in Athens. He displayed a talent for music at an early age, playing piano and ...


Montgomery author, Tom Kaufmann, releases first book 'Historic Alabama Bells'
DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) – Tom Kaufmann, a native of Montgomery, has recently published his inaugural book entitled 'Historic Alabama Bells' which ...

On this day in Alabama history: Tide downs LSU in dramatic comeback
In a memorable entry in the long-running rivalry, Alabama staged a wild rally at Baton Rouge to beat LSU 22-16. The Tigers held a 16-7 lead with only ...

County to purchase historic 'green book' home
Jason Johnson originally hails from Elba, Alabama, and graduated summa cum laude from Troy University in 2011. He's been a reporter for ...

New Book Chronicles Life & Impact of WCCS President Dr. James Mitchell
book about the life of Wallace Community College Selma President Dr. James Mitchell — aims to inspire people to dream big — and never give up.

Theatre of Gadsden to host exhibit alongside performance of 'Quilters'
This show also will include an exhibit displaying quilts made by the women of Gee's Bend that have become part of Alabama's history. Set out on the ...

"The Gulf of Mexico; A Maritime History" By: John S. Sledge
"The Gulf of Mexico; A Maritime History" By: John S. Sledge ... Louisiana, and to a lesser extent Alabama are increasingly dependent on oil revenues.


On this day in Alabama history: Chauncey Sparks died
Chauncey Sparks, who served as governor during the booming economy of the World War II years, died in Eufaula. A farmer and lawyer born in ...


History of Alabama football's intersection with US presidents
Alabama Media Group. Former President Gerald Ford is wearing a jacket that reads "Bama Staff" while watching a 1978 Alabama football practice with ...


North Alabama street artists use talents to keep a dying art alive
Two north Alabama street artists are using their talents to keep a dying art alive. Brandon ... Put yourself in a book and sketch for years first. Take your ..


NPR's 'Fresh Air' showcasing Alabama's Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer's new book and album, both titled "Blood," explores the ... On Monday, the NPR program “Fresh Air” will highlight Alabama-born ...

Theater review: 'Alabama Story' an absorbing look at racism
And the Albany Civic Theater production she is helming, “Alabama Story,” goes ... the writer/illustrator of “The Rabbits' Wedding,” the book in question.


Former Alex City resident publishes book on state bells
Preserving history and bells themselves is former Alexander City resident Thomas Kaufmann's mission with his new book “Historic Alabama Bells.

On this day in Alabama history: Civil Rights Memorial dedicated
The Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial and Memorial Center, designed by artist Maya Lin, was dedicated in Montgomery.

Hurricane Ivan caused record outages in Alabama 15 years ago
Ivan was described in an Alabama Power news release as “a natural disaster of historical proportions.” It stayed a hurricane 150 miles inland, ...


After exhausting all efforts to try to identify her, the woman was buried in an unmarked grave at the Braceville-Gardner Cemetery on Thanksgiving Day ...