Clifton Webb: Unexpected Star

“The best part of myself.  That’s what you are.  Do you think I’m going to leave it to the vulgar pawing of a second-rate detective who thinks you’re a dame?  Do you think I could bear the thought of him holding you in his arms, kissing you, loving you?”

–Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker to Gene Tierney (Laura, 1944)

Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck, theatrical nom de plume Clifton Webb (1889 – 1966), is at first glance one of the unlikeliest of movie stars.  Upon second thought, there have been many “unexpected” stars.  Consider the fact that mere pretty boys had brief vogues. Think Tab Hunter, for instance.  Actors with distinct, engaging, even features approaching ugliness, have fared better:  snarling Edward G. Robinson; rugged Humphrey Bogart; craggy Lee Marvin and increasingly craggy Clint Eastwood, dimpled Kirk Douglas, sleepy-eyed Robert Mitchum; paunchy Wallace Beery; bald Yul Brynner and Telly Savalas; Richard Widmark, he of the maniacal laugh and extensive forehead; Anthony “every ‘ethnic’ character CWebbaimaginable” Quinn; pock marked Richard Burton.

Webb does seem to be the oldest actor to have achieved film stardom.  He was 54 when Laura was released in 1944.  As the intriguingly-named Waldo Lydecker, Webb was a man obsessed with the young, beautiful title character (Gene Tierney) and rather she be dead than end up with a lowly detective (Dana Andrews) investigating her presumed death.  For Laura, Webb received a Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination.

Born in Indianapolis in 1889, Webb became a song and dance man in theatrical revues and also performed in Noel Coward’s famous play Blithe Spirit.  Hollywood, specifically 20th Century-Fox, beckoned as World War II wound down, and Webb spent his entire career with that studio.  It served him well.laura_56f633f7

Frequently he had the best lines, as in The Dark Corner (1946):  “I never confuse business with sentiment—unless it’s extremely profitable.”

Webb excelled at persnickety snobs in these early years.  A prime fuss budget character was his Elliott Templeton in The Razor’s Edge (1946), and he scored a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and another Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor.

In 1947 he was nominated for Best Actor by the Academy for his role as the fussy Mr. Belvedere in Sitting Pretty, the gentleman who became nanny for the three unruly children of parents played by Robert Young and Maureen O’Hara.

Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) was a popular favorite based on the successful 1948 semi-autobiographical book about the 14-member Gilbreth family in which Webb portrayed time-motion engineer Frank B. Gilbreth.  Jeanne Crain, one of Titanicposter53aFox’s biggest stars, played the eldest daughter, Hollywood icon Myrna Loy the wife.

Webb played the iconic march king John Philip Sousa in Stars and Stripes Forever (1952).  In Titanic (1953), his well-heeled gentleman was at odds with his estranged wife over custody of their son.  The wife was played by Hollywood icon Barbara Stanwyck, but such was Webb’s status at that time that he got first billing.

CinemaScope had been introduced at Fox that year with The Robe.  The widescreen process was suitable not just for historical epics but contemporary films made in somewhat exotic or at least colorful locales.  It was no hardship for Webb and the rest of the cast (Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, Maggie McNamara, Louis Jourdan, Rossano Brazzi) to relocate to Italy for Three Coins in the Fountain (1954).  The title song won the Academy Award and became a standard. The film was nominated for Best Picture.  Webb was top-billed again.three-coins-in-the-fountain_f9r3oK

The same year Webb headed up another powerful cast in Woman’s World (September, 1954).  This time out he was owner of a car manufacturer looking for a new general manager.  He evaluated three men—and their wives—to find the appropriate replacement.

It was no stretch for Webb to portray an Englishman in The Man Who Never Was (1956).  As Lt. Commander Ewen Montagu, his character coordinated the ruse that confused the Germans about the Allied invasion of Sicily during World War II.

According to Wikipedia, Webb was set to star in Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), but he became ill and James womans-world_TZkbNiMason took the role of the expedition leader.

Webb’s last film was with William Holden, Satan Never Sleeps (1962), a Cold War drama in which he played a missionary priest in China who sacrifices himself for others.

Clifton Webb died of a heart attack at the age of 76 in 1966.  His legacy includes a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Shipman, David.  The Great Stars:  The International Years. 1972.

Thomas, Tony.  The Films of 20th Century-Fox:  A Pictorial History.  1979.

CCLS/CCL Board Meeting

Due to the easing of COVID restrictions, the Board of Trustees of the Chester County Library System/Chester County Library will now be hosting their monthly board meeting as a hybrid offering. If you have always wanted to attend a meeting but haven’t had the time, this is your opportunity. Please click on this link at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 21, to join the Chester County Library System Board Meeting virtually; or attend in person at Chester County Library, 450 Exton Square Parkway, PA 19341. The Chester County Library Board Meeting will immediately follow.

If you are a person with a disability and wish to attend this meeting and require an auxiliary aid, service, or other accommodation to observe or participate in the proceedings, please call Chester County Library’s Administration Office at 610-344-5600 to discuss how we may best accommodate your needs.

Multimedia Staff Picks

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Emily’s Picks

Libby Audiobook: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
castle movingYou won’t be able to put this breezy, lighthearted, and hilarious fantasy down! It has lots of humor and heart, memorable characters and dialogue, and a perfect happily (or scrappily!) ever after. Plain but spunky Sophie is transformed by a curse into an old woman, and must enlist the help of the cowardly, wizard Howl. They butt heads, and bicker constantly, but there is a spark between them that Sophie can’t seem to extinguish. And Howl may need her help to break a curse of his own…

CD: The First Band on the Moon by The Cardigans
Probably best remembered for its one hit, “Lovefool,” this album boasts a dreamy, psychedelic sound that feels more likeFirstBandOnTheMoon a product of the 70s than of 1996. It’s fun and funky, and easy to listen to over and over. Standout tracks include “Your New Cuckoo,” “Step On Me,” and the band’s very groovy cover of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.”


Jessie’s Picks

DVD: Soul
soulPixar once again successfully tackles a big, heavy topic with humor and heart.  Soul is about a Middle School music teacher/Jazz pianist and an unborn soul that grapple with finding purpose and living life fully.  This movie is a must-watch for fans of Up or Inside Out.

CD: Complete Greatest Hits by The Carscar greatest hits
This is a good collection of this New Wave band’s hits.  It includes one of my favorites, “Moving  in Stereo,” which is not included on some of their other greatest hits compilations since it was not released as a single.


John’s Picks

DVD: How the States Got Their Shapes
how the states gotEver wonder why Pennsylvania and Delaware share a rounded border?  Or what about all those perfectly square states out west? And why the heck is Rhode Island so tiny?  If these questions interest you, then this History Channel series is perfect for you! It’s a super interesting show that explores why each state in the USA looks the way it does. Combining history, geography, and culture—host  Brian Unger uncovers the stories behind the familiar shapes on our modern American map.

CD: Game of Thrones Season Eight: Music from the HBO Seriesgame of thrones s8 music
Revisit Westeros through the soundtrack to the final season of HBO’s legendary series—Game of  Thrones. Season 8 was when so many storylines we’ve been anticipating finally wrapped up, and these were the songs accompanying the hype.  “Jenny of Oldstones,” “The Last of the Starks,” and “The Night King” may leave you with goosebumps.


Kim’s Picks

DVD: The Railway Children
railway childrenBased on Edith’s Nesbit’s 1906 novel of the same name, this 1970 film is a charming and episodic (in the most complimentary way) tale of the numerous childhood adventures of the Waterburys, trying to make due in Yorkshire after the father is falsely accused of spying and imprisoned.

Libby Audiobook: Middlemarch by George Eliotmiddlemarch
This is sometimes considered the greatest novel (1871) in English.  Eliot, nom de plume for Mary Ann Evans, describes life in a 19th century English town on the verge of modernity.  She draws masterful life-like portraits of all its denizens, from bankers and physicians to clerics and politicians, from farmers and auctioneers to stay-at-home biddies and young women waking up to potentialities.


Mary’s Picks

DVD: Once Upon a Time
once upon a time s1All the classic fairytales in one place with a new twist. Enchanting and fun to watch for any fan of fantasy and fairytales. Makes for a great girls night; I used to watch this every Sunday in the fall and winter with my roommates and we loved it.

Audiobook: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pinkwhen perfect timing
An interesting read that can help you plan when to make important decisions in life. Timing  really is everything. Includes such topics as circadian rhythms, time of year, beginnings, endings, motivation, restorative breaks, and group behavior. Will make you look at things you’ve done in the past and things you’d like to do in the future in a different way.

Stephanie’s Picks

DVD: The Hate U Give
hate u give“Starr Carter navigates the perilous waters between her poor, black neighborhood and her prestigious, mainly white private school. This all changes when she finds herself in the middle of racial activism after her best friend is shot by police officers, and she’s forced to make a decision. Allow the media to skewer her friend to protect the status quo, or stand up and tell the truth in memory of Khalil?”

CD: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse
After topping the charts with hits off the album Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Wewe were dead Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank brings more of a mainstream vibe without losing any authenticity.

To view our past staff picks, go to All quoted summaries are from

Calling all Makers & Crafters!

The Chester County Library is accepting vendor applications for our 10th Annual Holiday Craft Show being held on Saturday, December 11, 2021 from 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

The show provides artists and craftspeople with the unique opportunity of exposing their work to hundreds of people while taking part in an exciting, community-driven atmosphere. Our shows highlights the creative spirit of the fine artist and craftsperson, with an exceptional selection of maker-designed goods. Every participant comes away with a new base of loyal customers. Eager patrons are waiting to embrace your work.

The Chester County Library Annual Holiday Craft Show is a great opportunity to showcase and sell your work. Apply now to be considered for this festive shopping experience at:

September KClub Meeting

Need a new hobby to keep your spirits up while we’re all social distancing?  Been watching K-Dramas for years and want to meet new K-Drama lovers?  Love BTS but don’t know much about Korean television?  Break out the kimchi and join us to watch an episode of one the hottest Korean shows, then pop onto a Zoom call to chat about the show, the newest Korean music, and Korean culture – all from the comfort of our own homes.

On June 27, from 3:00pm – 5:00pm, we will be watching the pilot episode of “Goblin.” Also called “Guardian: The Great and Lonely God,” this show, with its star-studded cast and immersive storytelling, received much critical acclaim, became the fifth highest rated drama in Korean TV history, and quickly reached cultural phenomenon status.  It tells the story of Kim Shin, played by Gong Yoo, who was once a legendary general who came to tragic ends.  However, rather than dying, he was granted immortality by the Almighty.  900 years later, after watching everyone he has ever cared for die around him, he wants to end his immortal life, which can only be achieved once the Goblin’s Bride removes the sword from his chest.  Ji Eun-Tak, a bubbly student with a sad past, claims to be his Bride and is determined to prove it to him.  But naturally, things become complicated once they begin to fall in love.

Ages 16+

Registration is required to receive the Zoom link and viewing instructions.  Register on the event calendar here.

For questions, please email us at:

Growing Readers Fall Programs

You’ve been wondering, and we now announce our upcoming (Virtual) Fall Children’s Programs!
Starting September 20th, children aged infant through 6 years can attend programs via Zoom on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Registration is already open, just click here to view our events calendar. This series of programs will be 5 weeks, however, they will not meet October 11th.

Your child will have a “front row seat,” viewing stories and singing songs while interacting with library staff who present each program. Most programs are presented live from our story time studio, so your child will feel like they are right at the library! In our calendar, you’ll find programs for 2’s, 3’s, and ages 4-6 on Mondays; infants/toddlers and 3’s on Thursdays; and on Fridays, something for 3’s and ages 4-6. Once you register, a Zoom link will be sent via email to you on the day of the program. When you register, please include your child’s name and age, and a current email address. We look forward to sharing many great stories with you this fall!

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on


Library Card Sign-Up Month reminds students, families a library card is one of the most cost-effective back-to-school supplies available! IT’S FREE!

This September, Chester County Library and Henrietta Hankin Branch are joining the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries nationwide for Library Card Sign-Up Month. Whether you use a library card online or in person, it gives students the free tools to succeed in school and provides people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunities to pursue their dreams and be their best selves. From family Story Times and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) programs to makerspaces and virtual homework help, libraries play an essential role in supporting the value of lifelong learning through education. Libraries offer free and fun educational resources and activities that bring families and communities together. Libraries have moved far beyond just being book repositories. They’re agile institutions serving real-life needs.

Did you know you can borrow family museum passes from the library for free? Visit an area zoo, museum, or garden – you just need a Chester County Library System card!

Taking a vacation, doing virtual school at home, or doing business on the road? The Chester County Library and Henrietta Hankin Branch Library also rent mobile hotspots which allow library cardholders to access unlimited, high-speed Internet service anywhere a T-Mobile signal can be received. Connect up to ten devices at a time, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.

With a library card, the possibilities are endless. Borrow free books, CDS, DVDs, and download eBooks, and e-Audiobooks right from the comfort of your own home! We even have a large selection of videogames available to rent.

Throughout the school year, public librarians and library staff will assist parents and caregivers with saving hundreds of dollars on educational resources and services for students of all ages. A library card is one of the most cost-effective back-to-school supplies available!

For younger children, we offer early literacy resources to help them learn to read and encourage school readiness, and for teens and older students, we provide access to technology and digital tools (such as 3D printers, button makers, scanners, and audio-visual recording and editing equipment) as well as GED resources.

This year, Marley Dias, author, executive producer, and founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks is taking on a new role as honorary chair of Library Card Sign-Up Month. As honorary chair, Dias will remind the public that signing up for a library card provides access to technology, multimedia content, and educational programming that transforms lives and strengthens communities. “A library card is the ticket you need to travel across the globe. It allows you to experience stories that can connect you to diverse and empowering experiences,” said Dias.

Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the ALA and libraries unite in a national effort to ensure every child signs up for a library card. For more information about how to sign up for a library card, please visit Chester County Library or Henrietta Hankin Branch Library in person or online at