Wanna Hear Something Crazy?

 Of course you do! My Uncle Arthur moved to Hollywood in the 1920’s. He’s my mom’s uncle, so actually he’s my great uncle, and he really was great. He died in 1997. When I first moved out here I went to visit him at his home in Manhattan Beach and he would tell me cool stories about Hollywood in the early days.  He said he remembers when the entire Valley was nothing but orange groves.  Now it’s the porn capital of the world. Did you know that? Vivid Entertainment is about a mile away from where I live. Anyway, my uncle took acting classes at Hollywood High where he met Howard Keel, mostly known for being the hottest brother in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” They remained friends until my uncle died.

He really wanted to be an actor and singer but also happened to be an amazing painter and craftsman. Because he was really artsy, he scored a job building sets for the Wizard of Oz. He also worked on some other films, but it was always behind the scenes. After his dreams were dashed as a performer, he went on to work for NASA as a design engineer.

But while he was still working in Hollywood and here comes the crazy part; he was hired by MGM to paint the picture of Scarlett O’hara in “Gone With the Wind.”

You know the painting Rhett Butler throws the drink at? That’s the one he painted. Crazy, right? Well, I don’t know about you but I wanted to know where that painting went, so I asked him. Do you think it’s at the Margaret Mitchell museum like they claim? Nope. Turns out, my uncle got pissed at someone at MGM (he never said who), and decided they couldn’t have it, so he BURIED IT IN HIS BACK YARD! I swear to God.


Can you believe that? Where was the forethought? C’mon! It was a hit movie. That painting would be worth millions now. Don’t think I haven’t contemplated driving down to Manhattan Beach in the middle of the night with a mask and a shovel.

Painting sort of runs in my family. My mom’s brother, John Dehlinger, was also an amazing painter. We used to have art shows for him in the funeral home. Isn’t that cool, to have your art show in a funeral home? I don’t know how if affected sales, but it was fun. My parents would invite a bunch of people to it and have it catered. Of course, I was there for the food, not the paintings.  Sadly, he died in 2003. He was a really cool guy, as was my Uncle Art. In fact, my Uncle Johnny was my godfather, which means he contributed absolutely nothing to my religious upbringing. He was actually the perfect choice for being my godfather because he hated Catholic church and Catholic school as much as me.

Here’s a little thing I found about them online:

“John Dehlinger was born in West Virginia.  His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   John’s Uncle, Arthur Shields, was a portrait painter and gave John his first lessons at age 10.
After a discharge from the Marine Corps, Dehlinger went to study art in California, near his Uncle.  He moved to Maine in 1973 and painted the coast till his death in 2003.”

These are 4 of my Uncle Johnny’s paintings…..

Happy Friday! Drink up!     

About Death To Hollywood

My name is Celeste Donohue and I am a writer/comedian who started this blog to tell stories about my life growing up in a funeral home and my adult life which I have spent in Hollywood, California – hence the name, “Death To Hollywood”. Hopefully, you like to read those kinds of stories. If not, go read something serious and boring.....
This entry was posted in celebrities, death, funeral home, Hollywood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Wanna Hear Something Crazy?

  1. Kris says:

    Cee, i remember when uncle Art told us that crazy story……i have thought about the mask and shovel thing too:) they were 2 wonderful, talented men!!!!

  2. Julie Herring (Joe) says:

    Its too bad you couldn’t have added “Salted Herring” to those works that you showed. Of course you would have had to wrest it from my prior wife’s dresser drawer where it remains hidden from me (just in case I invade her house one dark night) .And to think that Don Swanick and I almost had a drunken fist fight over it at the show in the funeral home..
    Joe H

  3. Harley Oakes says:

    Hi Celeste, Found your website and enjoyed reading about my friend John Dehlinger who I still miss very much. I remember him talking about art shows in a funereal home; Upper Darby, PA was often mentioned. Over the years I had the privilege to not only collect John’s work but to represent his paintings as an art dealer. We also published two of his paintings “Morning Smoke” and “Summer Afternoon.” I have a small watercolor of a stormy sea, framed in a hand-made gold leafed frame that he crafted hanging over my desk. His former home in Tenants Harbor is a short walk away, I look up at the stone porch and remember those good days.

    Hal Oakes

    • Hi Hal! I’m so glad you found my blog and how cool is it that you knew my Uncle Johnny? What a guy! He was an amazing painter, as you well know, and also happened to be my godfather (not sure if I mentioned that). His art shows in the funeral home were really great and I’m so glad you have some of his work. I have a painting of his hanging in my kitchen. I remember that porch as well and had many good times with him and all of my cousins. Thanks for reading and also commenting. 🙂

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