Monday, April 9, 2012
From my collection: Jacques Villon, Lee Slater, Grant Maiben
Perhaps you have been confused by the name Jacques Villon turning up playing ”waiter” in The Razor's Edge (1946), “clerk” in Crime Doctor's Gamble (1947) and, even more obscurely, “newsboy” in Arch of Triumph (1948)? Did the French painter, and acknowledged inventor of Cubism actually appear as something “boy” in a Hollywood film, even one with a lofty provenance? Of course not, and to distance himself from his world famous namesake, this Jacques Villon actually billed himself as “Jacque Villon” in his 1946 Academy Players listing. And here, pictured right, is the proof: there actually was a Jacques Villon in Hollywood films and he looked nothing like the artists.
Another fleeting name in Hollywood cast lists of the mid-1940s who turned up as various “boys” – e.g. “elevator boy” in Love, Honor and Goodbye (1945), “boy,” plain and simple, in An Angel Comes to Brooklyn (1945) – was Lee Slater, who left as little a trace for us to follow today as Jacque Villon.
A 1940 Salt Lake City East High School Christmas performance of George Kaufman and Moss Hart's Broadway comedy hit “Stage Door” featured one Patricia Swaner in “the all-important role of Terry. “Others in the large cast who demand special commendation,” the Salt Lake Tribune allowed, “are Ned Williams, Peggy Bonnion, Georgia Ostler […] and Grant Maiben.” The last mentioned actually made a go at a professional acting career in Hollywood, turning up in an unbilled bit in Lewis Milestone's terrific war drama A Walk in the Sun (1945). Or was Grant merely a furloughed soldier moonlighting? In any case, the film appears to have been his sole Hollywood role. But at least this young man played a character named “Smith” and not mere “boy”! (But poor Grant Maiben; because he appeared in this one film and because of the constant mining of Imdb content by mindless sites of all nationalities, he is now a “name” on more than 1000 websites. Including a “celebrity star sign” page.)