Author Archives: Angie Schaffer

About Angie Schaffer

Angie Schaffer is a silent film buff, art snob (she is really into Dada, Surrealism, and German Expressionism), social activist, and 1920s fanatic. She can talk your ear clean off about the Jazz Age.

New Project Underway to Celebrate Film History

I have good news and bad news, my babies. And in typical human fashion, I will bring you the bad news first. The Little Jazz Baby blog is closing its virtual doors at the end of the year.  However, I am keeping the Facebook fan page because it is rapidly growing these past couple months and, odd enough, is more popular than the blog itself.

The decision to drop this blog was not a hard one.  I have stumbled into a lot of issues with it almost from day one—everything from technical problems to life getting in the way.  So prepare yourselves, darlings, because in December this blog will be no more! Continue reading

Zachary D. Switzer Needs Your Help!

Carl SwitzerOn July 24 I told you all about a new Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer project in the works.  One of Carl’s cousins, Zachary D. Switzer, is in the process of releasing a series of e-books on the Switzer Legacy.  This is undoubtedly fantastic news for anyone who is a fan of Alfalfa and the Our Gang series.

Switzer’s fans have waited for years for someone—anyone—to release something on his life that isn’t full of lies, and now they have the chance to own something that is honest and heartfelt coming straight from one of his family members.

How exciting is that?

Sunday evening Zach contacted me and said that there is a possibility that the Switzer Legacy could be published as a book in the near future, but he needs some help from you, the fans.  The following comes straight from Mr. Switzer himself:

Hello, my dear friends here is some promising news! I was talking with an editor/author about the Switzer poem legacy book! She says I’m going to have to write a letter to the President of a publishing company she has experience with and that there might be a chance of having it published in book form!

But, here’s the caveat, and where I need you all the most! She says, if I can get enough people interested in it and buying it, that this book will be a big hit! Let’s give the Switzers justice! So, will you please work with me and make this a great success? If not, I won’t be mad, I’ll respect and love you just the same! That’s what Carl, Fred and Harold would want! And, that’s what the Switzers were built on! The love for one another and the altruism that comes with helping a stranger! Thank you all for reading this! My love and eternal blessings!

If you love Alfalfa, do you think you can give Zach some support with his new project?  It would be greatly appreciated.  What can you do to help this project move forward?  I (and Mr. Switzer) would love some feedback on this with any ideas you might have.  We need to show that Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer’s legacy is still important to film history.  What do you say?

Feel free to contact me via email, Facebook, or Twitter and let me know what you think.  And, of course, you can also leave comments on this post.  I look forward to hearing from you!

The Switzer Legacy

Spanky, Darla, and Alfalfa in the "Club S...

Spanky, Darla, and Alfalfa in the “Club Spanky” dream sequence from the 1937 short Our Gang Follies of 1938 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a big announcement, my darlings.  Back in April I told you that a new biography was in the works for Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer of Our Gang fame.  In late June, plans for the book were off and I pulled all support from the project in early July.

No other full-length biographies on the little boy with a cowlick who won the hearts of so many little girls the world over have been released as far as I know, so this was something that many were looking forward to.  If you were disappointed by the news that the project has been scrapped, then you will be happy to know that one of Carl Switzer’s cousins, Zachary D. Switzer, is planning a series of e-books on the Switzer legacy.

Here is what he says about the project:

I’m going to be releasing a Switzer legacy e-book on January 21, 2014 to coincide with Alfie’s 55th anniversary of his death! After that, I plan to release 4 more e-books prior to August 7, 2014, his birthday! These 4 e-books will have 360 haiku and 45 full-length poems each! All e-books (including the Legacy) will be set at $4.99 each e-book! One last thing, if these e-books sell 5,000,000+ on December 1, 2014, I’m going to be buying and designing a limited edition of 500 t-shirts! Each t-shirt will be personally signed by me!

These e-books will be released on Kindle through Amazon.com, so keep your eye out for them, my babies!

And thank you, Zachary, for keeping Alfie’s legacy alive and well!

What the Heck Happened with Society?

There is a meme going around on social media that is too profane for me to post on here as this is a family friendly site, but I am sure you are all familiar with it.  It has a picture of a classic film star or musician next to one of someone (or something) that has gained popularity here in the 21st century.  The caption reads “Men (or Women) What the (bleep) Happened?”

It means to deliver the message that at one time we were classy people with classy taste, and these days…well, not so much.

Do you believe this is true? Or are we clinging to a romanticized view of what we think society was like in the decades before most of us came into being? Continue reading

The 5 Most Overrated Actors in Old Hollywood

Yesterday a friend of mine mentioned something about Johnny Depp being overrated.  I agree.  (Even though I do love him in Benny & Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? But that’s it…)  He along with 99% of “actors” (I use that term loosely) today are way overrated.  I bore very easily with new movies because of CGI and lack of talent.

That is not to say everything about old Hollywood was fantastic.  On the contrary.  There were a lot of hideous movies and hideous actors in the old days.  And today I am going to share a list of five classic film actors I think were overrated in old Hollywood, and are still overrated today. Continue reading

An Emotional Attachment to Works of Fiction

Cover of "The Crack-Up"

I think we have all cracked up. Yeah?

On the surface, it sounds completely insane to become so wrapped up in characters or story lines in works of fiction that you become emotionally attached to them.  But millions of people all over the world are afflicted by this every day.

Just take a look at super religious types.  They are so emotionally attached to their holy books that they believe they are written by a divine entity.  They are ruled by their books.  They make them, and the stories in them, real.

I know I will catch a lot of flak for that from the religious folk out there, but you know it is true.  And I know that there has to be a name for this “disorder” (if you want to call it that) out there, but I will be danged if I know what it is. (If anyone knows, please tell me…)

I am a vicious little heathen, but I can relate to an observant religious person’s unyielding love for well-written and compelling works of fiction.  But instead of the heroes in the Bible, or any holy book of one’s choice, I am more attracted to the anti-hero in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, or horrible, brutal villains in Peter Lorre films.

Make no mistake, darlings, I always root for the bad guys.  I’m wicked that way.

Whatever the case might be, this is something that affects most of us.  And why do you think that is?  Why do we place such importance on people and things that do not really exist?

Is it because we see ourselves in characters and situations portrayed in books and on film?  Or is it something else entirely?

Colonel Gimpy Crack-Up

Look at that face. Who wouldn’t fall head over heels? ;) (Peter Lorre as Colonel Gimpy in the 1936 film Crack-Up.)

My best friend tells me that when I describe the aforementioned F. Scott Fitzgerald works, or my beloved Colonel Gimpy from the movie Crack-Up, I sound like the biggest, most faithful religious zealot in the world.  I treat them not as works of fiction, but as people and situations that are real, and that I have somehow personally experienced what is going on.

I feel compelled to convert everyone into fans of what I love, just like a Missionary in Africa wants to convert the “lost” in some remote African village (or something) to their religion so their heathen souls go on to paradise in the afterlife.

What’s more, it is a compulsion that I do not want to get rid of.  Indeed, I want to feed it and make it grow.  And it is something that I have plenty of enablers for, believe it or not.  I ask for people to justify my mania and they do.  All the time.

By now you are probably either thinking I am completely insane—or you are nodding your head and completely identifying with everything I have said.  So what are your thoughts?  I will ask again:  what is it you think is the reason, if any, behind people’s emotional attachment to works of fiction?  Is it a mental disorder or is it something that is a completely normal part of being human?

(By the way, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Play The Crack-Up and Peter Lorre’s film Crack-Up are not in any way related…)

The Saddest Movie in the World

A Star is Born I am sure that at least one of you have seen one version of the film A Star is Born, right?  More than likely these days, people are familiar with either the Judy Garland version from 1954 or the Barbra Streisand version from 1976.  Both are musicals, and both have similar story lines—a talented singer is discovered by a man seemingly hell-bent on destroying himself.  As her career takes off, his falls apart and the downward spiral spins out of control, fueled by copious amounts of booze.

If you haven’t seen either one of those movies, you now know what they are about.  They are terribly depressing dramatic pictures full of modern music.

Did you know that there is also a non-musical version released in 1937 that both musicals are based off of?  If you didn’t, you do now. Continue reading

No Hope for the Kid with the Cowlick

English: Screenshot from Our Gang Italiano: Sc...

Screenshot of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer from Our Gang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in mid-April I posted about the first comprehensive biography on the life and career of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer being written by Joan L. Collins. This post is to give you an update about the plans for this project.

You might remember Switzer in his role as the adorable little freckled boy with the cowlick in the Hal Roach series Our Gang from the 1930s.  His life ended in tragedy with a fatal gunshot wound to the groin on January 21, 1959 at the tender age of 31.

The book was to detail the facts surrounding his untimely death, and finally clear up all the misinformation circulating about it, and Switzer, for more than five decades.  But on June 29, 2013, Collins announced she has suspended plans for the Switzer biography indefinitely and unpublished her fan page called The Alfie Project on Facebook.

I do not know if Collins plans on continuing the biography and her fan page in the future, but this is the last thing I am going to say about it here…or anywhere else.  Any support I gave her in the past for her research and writing is finished. Members of Switzer’s family have also pulled all support.

I will not go into any further details here, but I wanted people to know that I am no longer associated with Collins or her work.

If any of Switzer’s fans or family members have an interest in getting his story out there, I will be more than happy to support their projects…with their permission, of course.  I think his life and his legacy are very important to the entertainment world and should never be forgotten.

3 Often Overlooked Peter Lorre Characters

Peter Lorre character "Colonel Gimpy" in Crack-Up (1936)

Peter Lorre as “Colonel Gimpy” in Crack-Up (1936)

Before I took my hiatus from blogging last month, I had planned to do a June baby extravaganza, featuring posts about classic stars born in the best possible month to be born in.  Can you tell I am a little biased about June here?  It’s probably because the 7th anniversary of my 29th birthday was on June 22.

Now that I am back to blogging regularly, I have decided to periodically post about my fellow June babies for the rest of the year.  Yay!

First up is Peter Lorre, who was easily the most recognized character actor to ever grace Hollywood. Continue reading

The Man Who Owned Broadway

George M. Cohan

George M. Cohan (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the great American entertainer George M. Cohan‘s 135th birthday.  In his lifetime, he was known as “The Man Who Owned Broadway,” having performed on stage with his family practically since birth.  And more than 70 years after his death in November of 1942, people still remember his name and classic songs.

And those classic songs are what I am going to focus on today—with a top five list.  What better way to celebrate the man’s life than through his music?  Sure, most of the songs predate the Jazz Age and Depression era by well over a decade in most cases, but so what?  He was a real patriotic daddy who wrote some great finger snappers.  Sit back and enjoy the music. Continue reading