Assembling a Laine Collection (Summer Series: Part Four)

(Continued from the July 2017 blog)

Growing Collection

I was building a great Frankie Laine collection. Thanks to my diligence and Helen Snow, I had acquired a cassette audio tape collection of most all of Frankie’s recordings. I even had built a sizable collection of old radio shows, with Frankie as guest, on cassette, and all seven of Frankie’s movies on VHS.

I loved listening to my Laine treasures every day. His emotional delivery and wonderful voice were like adding fuel to my fire of growing admiration and excitement in furthering my collection of wonderful items.

Posters

In the late 1980s, I subscribed to a magazine for collectors of movie paraphernalia. The magazine was printed on newsprint—not nice and shiny like a normal magazine. It was funded by ads placed by collectors of anything movie related.

In one of these magazines, I saw an ad from a collector who boasted that he had 90 percent of all movie posters ever made in his collection, and he was selling. Intrigued, I wrote to this seller to ask about the posters for Frankie’s movies. His reply came back in short order.  He not only had the posters within his vast collection, but he also had the lobby card sets for each movie.

Frankie’s movies: Make Believe Ballroom—1949, When You’re Smiling—1950, Sunny Side of the Street—1951, Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder—1953, Bring Your Smile Along—1955, He Laughed Last—1956, and Meet Me in Las Vegas—1956. All were Columbia movies, except Meet Me in Las Vegas, which was MGM. Frankie only sang one song in Make Believe Ballroom and Meet Me in Las Vegas—both as Frankie Laine. He acted in the other movies. In only two of the movies did he play a role other than Frankie Laine—Bring Your Smile Along and He Laughed Last.

The posters and lobby card sets were pricey, but eventually, over a series of several months, I purchased them all. They were all original and in great condition. All have been framed and reside in my Laine Library today. The large movie posters are 27 inches by 41 inches in diameter. The lobby card posters are 11 inches by 14 inches.

I now owned copies of Frankie’s movies and the original movie posters for each. I never dreamed that I would soon be given the opportunity to make a personal connection with three of the stars of the Laine films.

By the 1990s, I had built up a vast “Laine Library” of works. During the late 1990s, I began searching for items on EBAY. I purchased sheet music, each with Frankie’s picture on the cover—most of them with Frankie’s recorded song title and music. However, I do have one sheet music piece with Frankie’s picture on the cover and the song featured was never recorded by him.

Three Fellow Laine Movie Stars

In 2000, when Jimmy Marino graciously asked me to help research his Frankie Laine documentary project, the first thing I did (after doing somersaults) was to contact the Screen Actors Guild in order to get contact information for some of the stars Frankie Laine had worked with over the years.

The guild contacted each of the celebrities I deemed necessary to call. Each celebrity was then given my contact information.

One of the first to call me was Lucy Marlow. She was Frankie’s co-star in Bring Your Smile Along and He Laughed Last. It was wonderful to be able to chat with Lucy—the first of several phone calls we shared. She kept me mesmerized with stories about her association with Frankie. And, one time, she even sang for me over the telephone!

Jerome Courtland was the star of Make Believe Ballroom and co-star of When You’re Smiling, and Sunny Side of the Street.

Not only did Jerome Courtland call me, but, shortly after his initial telephone contact, I actually interviewed him at his home in Chicago for Jimmy’s Frankie Laine documentary. We became friends and kept in touch for a while. It was wonderful to meet Jerry and listen to his stories about his movies days.

I absolutely delighted in each phone conversation I had with Terry Moore, who co-starred in Sunny Side of the Street. She even called me both “honey” and “sweetheart,” during our conversations!  Wow!

These cherished memories are mine, forever. They are a vital piece of my Laine collection because they are directly linked to Frankie Laine and his lustrous career. Over the years, my association with these stars became sort of like my own “complementary Laine collection” within my mind and my heart.

Technology

My collection was nearing completion at the time technology advanced from cassette audio tapes to compact disc and videos on VHS cassettes to digital video disc. I was happy for the advancement in digital quality, convenience, and precious material that never degraded, but I was left with slowly having to painstakingly transfer my collection to digital. Even now, most of my collection from my earlier years of collecting is still on analog audio and video. It has been almost like having to start over with a collection I thought was finished. Time marches onward.

(To be continued in September)

Categories

About the Author:

http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/ad516503a11cd5ca435acc9bb6523536?s=80

Craig Cronbaugh, Director of the Legislative Information Office with the Legislative Services Agency at the Iowa State Capitol. As famed singer Frankie Laine’s special friend and a collector of Laine’s recordings and career memorabilia, Craig has written articles; has written, produced, directed, and hosted a distinctive radio program; and has appeared on Iowa statewide television regarding his Frankie Laine avocation. Craig has been highlighted briefly and has been given a research screen credit in the 2003 internationally distributed documentary Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. Craig’s book, a memoir, Reaching for a Star, featuring his friendship with Laine, was published in 2005.