Bluebirds are a long-withstanding symbol of happiness.
But not necessarily for 20th Century Fox Studios and Shirley Temple.
Because of the promotion and success of MGM's 1939 "The Wizard of Oz," Fox Studios quickly created their own feature film intended to rival the Judy Garland epic.
Since Temple, the biggest, littlest star on the Fox lot, had lost out to Garland for the plum role of Dorothy (the studio executives refused to let her out of her contract to do the project), the studio invested a considerable budget for their answer to "The Wizard of Oz" called "The Blue Bird," which lit-up big screens in technicolor the following year in 1940, directed by Walter Lang, adapted from the 1908 play of the same name by Maurice Maeterlinck.
It also starred Spring Byington as Temple's mother. In the role of the villainess, Gale Sondergaard played Tylette the Black Cat. Prior to Margaret Hamilton cast as the green meanie in "The Wizard of Oz," Sondergaard was originally set to play a sexier version of The Wicked Witch of the West, more reminiscent of The Evil Queen in Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Sondergaard had sat through all of the wardrobe and make-up tests, then backed out, after the character was changed to the "old crone" image which is now so famous.
Set in Germany, "The Blue Bird" ranks as the only film role to cast child star Temple (who is now 85!) as a bratty, very disagreeable little girl, something audiences did not embrace, searching for "the bluebird of happiness." It was Temple's first box-office flop in her six years as a child star.
For anyone looking for bluebirds and happiness, this Sunday's 2013 Live and Silent Auction for Multiple Sclerosis hosted by Albert's Diamond Jewelers is a great start and an equally great cause.
For this year's 10th annual gathering is once again being held in the great hall of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, 7770 Corinne Dr., Hammond, just off Kennedy Avenue.
Helen Garrison has been busy helping with the planning, and she tells me father-and-son dynamic duo Fred and Josh Halpern have rounded up some amazing finds again for this year. (See today's Business section for news about the national award honoring the Halperns.) The preview starts at noon and the auction is 1 to 5 p.m.
In addition to all of the diamonds, gold and varied jewelry pieces provided by a range of featured designers, guests can look forward to bidding on more than 100 baskets, as well sports tickets, memorabilia, fine wines, spa and golf packages. Attendees will enjoy food catered by Jalapeno's, drinks courtesy of Lithographic Communications, a photo booth from Say Memories and sweet treats from Albanese Confectionery.
The event is free and open to the public and proceeds benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Last year, more than $100,000 was raised. FYI: (219) 322-2700.
I'm looking forward to Sunday, when I'm once again featured as one of the guest auctioneers. I'll be auctioning off some great items from our farm, including a bottle of homemade dandelion wine and my dad's new homemade custom birdhouse. It's a new A-frame cathedral design, mounted on a sturdy post and ideal for attracting blue birds.