Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

TINTYPE TUESDAY: Coop, Clark, Claudette and Other Classic Stars Go Shushing Through the Snow in Sun Valley!

Happy Holidays, my dears! And welcome to another edition of TINTYPE TUESDAY!

Okay, kids, pull on your best winter woolies—we’re heading to chic and trendy… Idaho!  Sun Valley, to be precise. Where classic film stars showed us just how fabulous they could look in ski togs. And where some of them actually skied. No really. I have proof.

The place was something of a Hollywood concoction itself: In 1936, the owners of the Union Pacific Railroad wanted to boost traffic along some of the more remote corridors, so they hired a cash-poor Count by the name of… wait for it… Felix Schaffgtosch to scout out a place to build a glamorous ski resort. (How did no one make a movie out of this story? I see Edward Arnold and Walter Connolly as the bigwigs and Melvyn Douglas as the Count.)

Once they settled on a spot in the Sawtooth Mountains, the railroad men hired promotor Steve Hannigan, who’d helped lure the rich and famous to Miami Beach, to do the same for this snowy little speck on the map. They christened it Sun Valley to dispel fears among the hothouse flowers of Hollywood that it would be too cold to vacation there. Because, you know, if you put “sun” in the name, no one will notice the blizzards.

Imagine their suprise when some stars actually took to the wintry weather! Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper, for instance, were regulars on the mountainside.

And shortly after filming For Whom the Bell Tolls, Cooper, his wife Rocky, and co-star Ingrid Bergman set out for the slopes with Ernest Hemingway’s brother Jack and Clark Gable. (Hemingway wrote the novel in his suite at the Sun Valley Lodge, which he called Glamour House.)

Not everyone was a natural, though, and novices like Lucille Ball and Jane Russell were happy for the help of their handsome instructors…

…while Norma Shearer married hers! Six years after losing Irving Thalberg, she wed Martin Arrouge, who had taught her and her children to ski. (And a few years later, while vacationing with her husband at a lodge in California, she discovered 18-year-old Jeanette Morrison, who became Janet Leigh.)

Sun Valley also served as the backdrop for several films, including  I Met Him in Paris, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Tall Men, Bus Stop—and of course Sun Valley Serenade. And its renowned jazz festival, which still runs every year, drew the best in the business, including Louis Armstrong!

The scenery was so stunning that even Errol Flynn was lured out of the lodge when he was in town for the premiere of Santa Fe Trail.


These days, Sun Valley is still a magnet for skiers and celebrities, but of course, all the old glamour is long gone. Still, these pictures remain…

Happy trails, my friends!

TINTYPE TUESDAY is a weekly feature on Sister Celluloid, with fabulous classic movie pix (and backstory!) to help you make it to Hump Day! For previous editions, just click hereand why not bookmark the page, to make sure you never miss a week?

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