A heavenly dancer?

The next few days might be a let down for readers, but a bonus for me. Why, you ask? Because apart from Sunday, if you’re lucky, one blog will cover both versions! Tonight, because of the event, and next week, because of the holiday. But for now…

113 years ago today, in a small part of Pottawatomie county, Oklahoma Territory (as it was then, only became a state in 1907), a baby girl was born, to, I assume, a Mr and Mrs Johnson. They seemingly named her Clara Elaine, and the rest, in terms of Hollywood Chorus girl duties, and the like, are history.

Maybe one day, I’ll do more of a dig on Ancestry.com, and discover what her parents names were, and if there were any more brothers and sisters, as well as her. The only tentative suggestion (apart from the lack of birth control back then) that there was more than 1 child, was one of her actual film credits, when there was also a Peter Johnson listed in the cast. Of course, that might simply be a name coincidence, though her 1930 Los Angeles census record did mention 1 brother, so I am inclined to suspect it was probably him.

All I know of the early history is that she moved to LA from Texas in 1925, but when the move there, from Oklahoma, no idea. I need a long enough period of time to really work on Ancestry.com to dig into that sort of matter, and also I need the funds to buy a subscription for a few months at least, that I can get to really use to dig for info. So probably wont happen until I’ve finished working, whenever that is, but then… Even then, I suspect I’m only going to have the 1910, and 1920 census details, so unlikely to find exactly when the Texas moved happened is still going to be vague.

The other thing that needs a major digging through, is a list of marriages in the LA area in the late 30’s (most likely, as her work career seems to stop around 37/38), or perhaps the beginning of the 40’s, because for now, thats where my trail goes cold, with the lack of her married name. Given that her daughter she mentioned would now be in her 70’s, if still alive, it might be fascinating to follow the family tree from there. Probably grand children, and great grand children by now! I wonder if any know, or wonder what Grandma/Great Grandma did?

As I say, if I survive to retirement, and I’m mobile enough to still do it, I suspect it might be my post retirement challenge to try and find out more. I guess that nowadays, I could do a lot from the comfort of a computer at home, anyway?

I must admit, one thing I’d love to do, just once, especially at my age, is do the whole chorus girl thing. My dancing wouldnt be great, I’d probably look less than graceful in one of those flimsy outfits, but my attitude is, just once, I dont care, I want to do the whole Clara Johnson thing! I have 2 lovely friends who are trying to work on making that happen, so who knows, but I hope so?

Anyway, given this was the first year I actually have known her birthday, before the big day, I wasnt going to miss this chance. Its funny to think though, she had all the glamour of working in Hollywood, without any of the fame!

So, happy heavenly birthday, Clara Elaine Johnson, and hopefully, maybe one day, we can get to actually meet, though not in this world.

OK, video time. I have seen her dancing in numerous musicals of the late 20’s, and through the 30’s, including many of the famous ones. For all that, back then, unless they went on to make it, chorus dancers didnt normally get credits. One that Clara did, was a film named Strike Me Pink, though seemingly she was working under her middle name at the time, probably because Clara was a little ‘old fashioned’ name by 1936? Its also the best sighting of her, because she fills the screen between 4:13, and 4:17 in this clip

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The lady dances

(Clue, do not take this too seriously!)

Not that any of you would have noticed it, because I only ever type the blogs up in the evening, UK time, but I was actually offline for the first half of the day today. Officially the reason was that my laptop had a corruption issue with my user profile log in, and therefore I couldnt get on here. So yes, today, I’m miles behind pace. I did think about passing on the blog tonight, and try to catch up, but what the hell…?

Right, as I said, thats the official reason. Only because you wouldnt believe the actual one, OK? πŸ˜‰

So, in truth, I’ve been in contact with some crazy scientist guy, who claimed he could make me look like a young Clara Johnson, with all her dancing skills, so that when I fly into Las Vegas next month, and a friend of a friend offers me a contract as a showgirl dancer, I can take him up onΒ  his offer, and make my fortune in skimpy outfits, dancing like a dream, and getting to marry a millionaire at the end of it.

No, I didnt believe him, but I thought I’d call his bluff, so…

Fine, its a bit weird only being about 5 ft 4 tall, and only weighing about 125, but I’ll get used to it, I guess? And hey, its lovely being young, free from arthritic, and back pain, and having amazing dancing skills. But yeah, I guess I’ll get used to it? Who me, dancing in heels, seriously? Fine, I miss the boobs, but hey, nothings perfect, giggle! Now, all I have to do is convince my friend that I really do want her to arrange a producer to meet me at the airport, with said contract, and then wait for men to fall into my lap! Or something close to my lap, anyway, giggle!

OK, fine, it didnt really happen, but it would have been a lot more fun than the real reason I was offline all morning, is that my poor old laptop (its about 10 years old, to be fair) is just getting as old, and moody as its owner!

Mind, if anyone reads this, and wants to arrange for that show dancer makeover for me, just give me a call, OK? πŸ˜‰

Right, video time. Here, you get the honor of a real rare event, a decent movie close up of Miss Clara Johnson (though she was working as Elaine, her middle name at the time). Yes, if you freeze the film, about 4 minutes 13 seconds, thats her! Its one of two actual credits she got as a chorus line dancer, ooh! Watch the rest, entirely up to you, but if you want to know ‘how I look’, this would be it!

Modest clothing for Chorus girls?

Alright, there are times when I’m quiet pleased to be a feminist, albeit a pretty moderate one. No, none of that crazy man hating stuff for me lol! Equality would be nice, in truth, though ironically some of those demanding equality are strongly objecting to pension retirement ages being equalled here in the UK, though maybe thats just because, for once, women are losing out by that, oh surely not? Anyway, I mustnt get political, so lets leave it there!

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/lifestyle/style/marks-and-spencers-modest-clothing-for-women-faces-heavy-criticism/ar-BBI50ET?li=AAnZ9Ug

This article seems to have caused a bit of a stir, though I cant quite see why. its not like M&S are saying that all other clothing is immodest, just that this line is designed for those of us who dont want to flash knees, ankles, or whatever. Oh fine, I’d better add, I’ve applied to act as a volunteer flapper for an event over in Blackpool in March (on my birthday in fact), which would certainly mean me flashing an ankle or two, and probably knees as well, darling! Lets just say it probably wont happen, distance, age, and the fact that its my birthday all make it unlikely, but it goes to show there is life in the old girl yet!

But generally, nowadays, I tend towards relative demureness in general, though I’ve had wilder moments in my time!

Me, I think this line is a nice idea, though I couldnt afford M&S prices, as they are expensive for what they are, shall we say, and I’m on a budget, even more so now!

However, its fair to say that my past life chorus line dancing self had a far less modest line in clothing! Oh fine, she was young, enjoyed it, and I suspect the pay was good, especially in the depression era, so…

Ah, clothing. Tonights video features the Goldwyn Girls, so in all likelihood, Clara is in this somewhere. Whether she is one of the naked (under those big wigs, they were, I’ve heard) slave girls, or just one of the dancers, no idea? I’d like to think she was naked, chained up, and enjoying it, but who knows? πŸ˜‰

Regardless, its fair to say that her, and the rest of the dance team didnt have to worry about whether their clothing was too modest lol! At the end, the Empress. Gloria Stuart, probably better known now for being the old lady at the end of Titanic, but a star back then.

Sudden death with Buffalo

No, dont worry, its nothing serious thats happened, just the opposite in fact. But I had to do something to fit in with the video lol!

Yes, within the next hour or so, all the American Football left this season will be sudden death, knock out stuff. As I write this, the last ‘normal’ Bowls are being played, the last NFL season games were played yesterday, so after that…

Firstly, tonight, we get the 2 college football ‘semi finals’ for want of a better word, where Georgia take on Oklahoma, and Clemson take on Alabama. A week later, the two winners get to meet for their Championship. The most interesting thing for me has been the multiple shots of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, to be honest. Well, except that with a little more discovery work today, I now know where, and when a certain young lady was born in Oklahoma! Yes, on 6th September 1905, a baby girl was born somewhere in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. Thats right, a baby named Clara Elaine Johnson! Tried googling for Oklahoma birth and death records, tried her name on the site, then lo, and behold… Looking at a map, she wouldnt have been a million miles from where Oklahoma University would have been! Of course, given she left Texas for LA in 1925, how long she lived there, no idea?

Ah, the title of the blog? Yes, thats the NFL bit. For over 30 years, through thick and thin, I’ve supported the Buffalo Bills. The late 80’s, and most of the 90’s were pretty good times, but other than that, no! Until yesterday, they were the team with the longest interval since previously being in the play offs, 18 years. Not now!
It wasnt hard to see them winning before I went to bed last night, and Baltimore were losing, 2 facts which meant they would be in, but there was still about a half of football to go for each. Bills won, but until nearly the end, Baltimore were clinging on for a win seemingly, then Cincinnati scored, Baltimore lost, and Buffalo were in the play offs.

Oh fine, I found out when I opened my emails this morning (one was from team, mentioning they were in play offs), which made a nice way to start 2018! They now get to play Jacksonville, who were last in the play offs in 2007, and last played a home play off game in 1999, the last time Buffalo made the play offs! No, they didnt play each other then! Oh, and I’d better mention the Los Angeles Rams, who won their division, leading to the first play off game in LA since 1994, though for much of that time, no team was in town! By coincidence, leading to another Georgia team heading to LA!

Right, video time. For those of you who read both, I used this video on the other blog recently, so you’re not seeing things. For those who dont, enjoy a classic 30’s musical! And all those girls sharing sleeping berths, shocking stuff lol! πŸ˜›

Review of the Year, Part Two

So, lets get to the last 4 months of the year now, when a few things might have happened!

To do it in strictly in chronological order, the first new experience in September, was being wheeled through an airport in a wheelchair! In truth, I possibly could have survived the security experience at Manchester Airport (especially as I would have got Fast Track routing as a premium economy customer), but there was absolutely no way I was ever going to stand in the Immigration queue at Boston, I went with the ‘full in’ option. So fine, at Manchester it didnt quite work as planned (twice, but more on that later), as I got wheeled through security, and to the gate, but no one ever appeared to take me to the gate! So in the end, I managed to get myself down, and aboard the plane, but ironically that meant I was last on, not first! Boston end, it worked perfectly, and I can safely say I have never got through Immigration so quickly in my life, even if you allow for the time I waited on the plane before I got off!

The first few days on Cape Cod was a delight (Saturday night in Boston, went down there on Sunday) with Kate, just relaxing, and giving my back a wonderful break. Then, on the Thursday, we both headed back to Boston, Kate to head off somewhere with her partner, and me to head to Mahopac, NY, via Stamford (c/o Amtrak) to go to a friend’s wedding. Initially I’d assumed I would be going as a guest, then told I was a bridesmaid, only to find out I was Maid of Honor! Thankfully for all the others there, I didnt catch the wedding bouquet lol! It was an amazing experience, thanks go to Stacie, and Eric for the honor of doing that for me. Also thankfully, I was relaxed enough over those last few days that I managed to lay off the painkillers for just long enough to be able to drink at the wedding reception. Fine, I made up for it that night, but anyway…

Flying back afterwards was entertaining. Firstly, for some reason best known to themselves, the airline staff at JFK started boarding people, before boarding me in a wheelchair. It seemed they realized pretty quickly, and sent me through, but it was an interesting journey through all these people who had no interest in giving way to a passenger in a wheelchair!

On arrival at Manchester, chaos ensued. As had shown at JFK, I was the only person who had booked a wheelchair. Therefore, on arrival at Manchester, one wheelchair arrived, for me. Thing is, 5 people suddenly decided they needed a wheelchair, and one woman (who had the physical strength to push me out of the way!) decided she was taking it! Anyway, in the end, after a bit of a delay, a few more wheelchairs arrived, though only 1 extra pusher, and we eventually got through, but after quite a delay, obviously. Not helped by the fact that one person clearly didnt have the right paperwork (not sure if she was from my plane, or a holdback from a previous flight?). In the end, I sort of got up, collected my case, and struggled through on foot (someone pushed my case, thank goodness) to where I was being met! I only hope Manchester Airport does better next May, we will see!

After that, its fair to say that the year settled into LGBT mode at work. A presentation to just over 100 people on working as an LGBT person in my Civil Service Department, and gaining a position on a committee dealing with LGBT issues within said Department are 2 of the delights that followed. Oh, and on top of that performance, was of course, the performance as an Elf very recently!

Lastly, on Christmas Day, on Facebook of all places, someone posted a picture in one of the groups, of a young lady, in Christmas mode, of an event that happened nearly 90 years ago (1929). Yes, an unknown lady, at a pre-Christmas event in Los Angeles, way back when. Except…she looked familiar to me. Comparison to a few pictures taken about 5 years later, and agreement from a couple of other people on the matter, that lady is no longer unknown, to a few of us at least. Yes, 99.9% certain its a certain Clara Johnson! Talk about dream Christmas present, especially as in total, there were 3 pictures! Oh fine, here’s one of them, of her, at 24!

And thats about it! Two more working days in 2017, Friday all day, and a half day on Saturday! Not expecting anything major to happen, but we will see?

The video, big clue in the title. A live version of the song, from 2012, which means no Kirsty MacColl, but the woman gives a decent, if clearly rather starstruck performance

Β 
Tomorrow, a look forward to 2018, and what might, or will happen

Review Of The Year, Part one

Now, normally when you do a review of the year, and you’re splitting it in two, you’d do two spells of 6 months, right? But when I looked back on my year, it took me about 30 seconds (if that long) to work out that apart from one event in May, not much happened for the first 8 months, then a hell of a lot happened in the last 4! So to avoid a 500 word blog tonight, and a 3000 word one tomorrow, I’m doing this on an 8/4 basis this year.

In truth, the highlights of the first 2 months were getting the news I’d passed probation period at work, and getting a passport in my new name. Oh, and around the same time, my first moments of DWP fame, in an LGBT sense, with an interview from work, about life as a LGBT woman in the Department. Which of course led to something that will be mentioned in Part 2, but for now…

No, diplomacy means I’m not mentioning a certain event that happened in the US, in January, but you all know what I think of him, and his actions, so lets leave it there.

Of course, my first flight as Harlean Carpenter, was in May, going back to Hollywood, or more strictly, Los Angeles. Lets just say the whole apartment thing this time around wasnt the success of the previous trip, both in the sense of initially booking an apartment, and then the landlord deciding he wanted to decline the booking, because he hadnt put in his price rise for the New Year. Fine, I thought, until he told me it was done, and suddenly the price had risen by over 20%, nearly 25% in fact! So I started again, thought I’d found somewhere decent as a replacement, but it didnt live up to all its claims. Dont get me wrong, it was nice enough, just didnt have all the facilities it claimed it had.

The funniest moment was a delightful Thai takeaway I had found 18 months earlier, and the lady still remembered me the moment I walked in, despite that. Its sad to think that by the next time I visit, she will almost certainly be gone, as it will be a few years before I get there again (unless I get a role offer), and I doubt she was that young this year, so…but she was amazing!

The other big highlights that will stick with me, would be 2 Louise Brooks silent films, viewed at the historic Egyptian Theater, a guided Hollywood walk given by a wonderful lady that I like to see as a friend, a ‘better than I would buy’ seat at a Dodgers game, thanks to another friend, with the added bonus of it being a game that Kershaw pitched at! Lastly, there was a wonderful Harlow display at the Hollywood Museum, which was a delight to see. Oh, and thanks to the Metro, getting to Santa Monica far easier than ever before!

In truth, I have no idea when I’ll be back, unless I get an offer, which I would have to say is pretty unlikely. But never say never… Certainly, due to something that will be mentioned shortly, walking up the hill to where Harlow rests at Forest Lawn would probably be beyond me now, but anyway…

In July, 2 things happened, one good, one bad. The good one was, that knowing that Clara Johnson’s middle initial was E, and finding a few images of a chorus line dancer/Goldwyn Girl, and putting two and two together, when you find a dancing match, named Elaine Johnson, who has a career that seems to tie in to Clara’s, well I jumped on the issue, and joy, actually found 3 pictures of her from a credited movie promotion shoot. Of course I cant be 100% sure its one and the same, but enough coincidences for me to say it is. In fact, as you’ll find out tomorrow, this isnt the end of that story! Yes, a few new pictures, wow! I’d still love to find her married name, so I’d have a chance of paying my respects if, and when I get back to LA.

The bad thing, my back, after giving me support for about 59 years, decided it had had enough, and snapped. Quite literally, though not in too severe a way, fingers crossed. Yes, osteoporosis had taken its toll on me! Painkillers, and other meds (been tweaked a couple of times) keep it bearable, but yes, its fair to say old age is beginning to catch up with me. It eventually led to me cutting back to 4 days a week at work, with which I can just about get by financially, but holidays will need to be cut back on now, for sure.

August marked 1 year in the new job, and in truth, apart from a dream acting offer, I cant see me leaving before I get to retire in just over 6 years time. Yes, I really am that old lol! The rest of the year, and a few landmarks, tomorrow!

Right, the video. One of the few modern groups I have much time for, are The Killers. I now love them even more now I know that each Christmas, they record a song, and give all royalties to charity! This is the 2013 song, which is apt given where I was in May, and even more so when you see something I post tomorrow!

This weeks hotshot, an acting star?

So yes, fine, who wants to be my agent lol? I’ll even promote you on my Women In Media page, hows that for a deal? Yes, this one

https://womennmedia.com/profile/harlean-carpenter/

Oh fine, strictly because its for people mainly working behind the scenes, my main section there is for writing, but yes, the acting definitely gets a mention there as well. In truth, given the current state of my body, the writing might be the better option to take up on, but fine, once an actress, always an actress, as they say. Let me also say that if anyone is looking for any other women for roles they deserve to get the opportunity for, within the media industry, just go here https://womennmedia.com/ and start checking them out!

I’ll be honest, I dont think I’m in any danger of over stretching any agent of mine, but who knows lol? Yes, I know, I might be limited to sitting down roles, or wheelchair roles at present, but hey, there must be a few of those about, surely? And hey, folks, giving those roles to people who actually need that sort of work might be nice. Who me, militant, oh surely not?

No, at my age, I’m not expecting my acting career to even match Clara (Elaine) Johnson, let alone become a star, but just one nice role, before officially retiring (or is that giving up?) on the acting career would be nice. Equally, if someone wants an ‘interesting’ sci fi/sci fact script written, then hey, equally give me a try!

And yeah, if you want me to wear something weird/interesting, then dont think I’d be scared off, believe me, I’ve seen, and worn a few interesting outfits over the years.

The video. Well, I did use this a couple of years ago, so if you’ve been around that long, apologies. But I suspect most havent, or dont look at the videos anyway, so…