Subject: ARCHIVE: November 3, 1939 ~Here is the sad, forgotten story of lil 4-year old actress Caryll Ann Ekelund, whose ONE brief, silent, but memorable performance in Shirley Temple's "The Blue Bird" (released posthumously) forever made her mark in Hollywood's death lore, with lil Caryll's sad, sad end. ...
Mytyl (Shirley Temple), the bratty and ungrateful daughter of a woodcutter, finds a unique bird in the Royal Forest and selfishly refuses to give it to her sick friend. Her mother and father are mortified at Mytyl's behavior. That evening, Father is called on to report for military duty the next morning. That same night, Mytyl is visited in a dream by a fairy named Berylune, who sends her and her brother Tyltyl (Johnny Russell) to search for the Blue Bird of Happiness.
In the film "The Blue Bird" (1940), the children Mytyl and brother Tyltyl have a number of adventures: they visit the past (meeting their dead grandparents who come to life because they are being remembered), have a scary adventure in the forest, experience the life of luxury, and see the future, a land of yet-to-be born children. … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su56BsIJpq0
The film, although following the basic plot of the stage version, highly embellishes it, and does not literally use the original dialogue. The opening black-and-white scenes and the war subplot were invented for the film. Mytyl's selfishness, the basic trait of her personality, was a plot thread specifically written into the motion picture. It is not in the original play.
The play begins with the children already asleep and the dream about to begin; there is no depiction of the family's daily life, as there is in the 1940 film.
The production utilized 300 children between the ages of 4 and 10. They also hired 30 nurses and 30 studio teachers to look after the children, all under the supervision of assistant director Henry Weinberger.
The Blue Bird is a bizarre film. It was released in 1940 starring Shirley Temple. It's sort of an It's a Wonderful Life, meets The Wizard of Oz meets A Christmas Carol. It was unsuccessful because Shurl played a beastly little child - and people didn't like it. She lied, she bullied, she stole... fabulous. There are killer trees, fairies and a cat that tries to kill them (well, it's not all fictional). This film is apparently 20th Century Fox's answer to MGM's The Wizard of Oz complete with the black and white/color transition, and a large part of the plot being a dream sequence - and many many more similarities.
n Shirley Temple's autobiography Child Star, she makes a passing mention about the "unfortunate" young actress who was "burned to death" during the shooting of The Bluebird." Upon further exploring, Mark came across a page dedicated to glamorous starlets. You see, Caryll had a sister that grew up to be the actress Jana Lund. This page had important details about poor Caryll.
I contacted my pal Joe Walker who then amazingly found an actual article that mentions Caryll. The piece actually focused on Halloween rambunctious ness of various LA communities including 200 Beverly Hills boys and girls that had a mad tomato and watermelon throwing spree. Various effigies were burned around town, and the soap business went up from the little dickens soaping windows. Those were the days, eh? Now they're dodging bullets. Especially in Caryll's neighborhood.
A very tiny mention at the article Joe found, "Emergency hospitals were kept busy with calls from mothers whose overzealous pixies got fingers burned from jack o' lanterns. Most serious was the case of Carol Ann Ekeland, 4, treated at Georgia Street Receiving Hospital for first and second-degree burns received when her costume caught fire from her lantern in front of her home."
This is the home where it happened. She died on November 3, 1939 at the now gone Georgia Street Receiving Hospital. A graveside quartet sang Caryll's favorite song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Her burial shroud is the toga she wore in The Blue Bird, with her brothers carrying her little body to its final resting place at Glendale Forest Lawn Cemetery. …
Mark adds, "The tragedy happened 25 years before those Ben Cooper "flame retardant" plastic costumes were all the rage in America."
Some of those costumes are downright weird as hell.