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It Happened in Brooklyn (March 13, 1947)

It Happened in Brooklyn
It Happened in Brooklyn (1947)
Directed by Richard Whorf
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

I used to be bummed out that I grew up after the era of listening booths in record stores.

After seeing Richard Whorf’s It Happened in Brooklyn, I’ve realized that as far as regrets go, that’s small potatoes. If this film is to be believed, there was once a music store in Bay Ridge where you could pick out any piece of sheet music and hand it to Frank Sinatra, the in-house “song demonstrator,” and listen to Ol’ Blue Eyes tickle the ivories while he performed it for you. Sure, you had to contend with a teeming crowd of sighing bobby-soxers, but that’s a small price to pay.

When It Happened in Brooklyn begins, Private Danny Miller (Sinatra) has been in the service for four years. World War II is drawing to a close, and he can’t wait to get home to his one true love, Brooklyn.

Danny loves Brooklyn so much that he carries a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge in his wallet. When a pretty Army nurse (Gloria Grahame) from Brooklyn refuses to believe that Danny is really from Brooklyn because he’s so restrained and cool, he pulls out the picture of the bridge and says, “Sure, that’s my pinup girl. Ain’t she a beauty?”

When Danny returns home, a traffic cop asks him why he’s so happy to be in Brooklyn when he could be across the river in New York. Danny looks incredulous and exclaims, “New York? That’s a place to look at Brooklyn from!”

Faced with the post-war housing shortage, Danny moves in with Nick Lombardi (Jimmy Durante), the janitor at New Utrecht High School, Danny’s alma mater. Nick is a kindly old geezer who idolizes the fictional teacher Mr. Chips, and doesn’t understand why all the kids in the school make fun of him.

Danny also befriends a pretty music teacher named Anne Fielding (Kathryn Grayson) and, in a remarkable example of art imitating life, teaches a British drip named Jamie Shellgrove (Peter Lawford) how to be cool.

For an MGM musical, It Happened in Brooklyn is fairly restrained. Unlike Sinatra’s previous film, the Technicolor extravaganza Anchors Aweigh (1945), which also co-starred Grayson, It Happened in Brooklyn is filmed in black and white, clocks in at under two hours, and doesn’t feature any huge production numbers.

Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Durante

Despite this, It Happened in Brooklyn is still a blast, especially if you’re a Sinatra fan. It’s packed with great songs by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, including “The Brooklyn Bridge,” “Whose Baby Are You?,” “It’s the Same Old Dream,” “The Song’s Gotta Come From the Heart,” and the classic “Time After Time.” I especially enjoyed Sinatra and Durante’s humorous performance of “I Believe” with a teenaged actor named Bobby Long, who does a great tap number. Does anyone know anything about Long? Why didn’t he ever appear in another movie? Did he have an abrasive personality? Horrible skin? Did he sleep with a producer’s wife after wooing her with his sensuous tap-dancing?

Along with all the great pop numbers, there’s a little “class” squeezed in, too. The classically trained Grayson gets to belt out a couple of operatic numbers — one from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and one from Delibes’s Lakmé — and her student Leo Kardos (Billy Roy) performs a piano concert in hopes of getting a scholarship. (Kardos’s playing was actually done by André Previn, who had just joined the music department of MGM at the age of 17.)

It Happened in Brooklyn is clichéd and occasionally silly, and it doesn’t offer the over-the-top razzle-dazzle of Anchors Aweigh, but it’s still a whole lot of fun.

28 responses »

  1. I think Bobby Long suffered a career-ending injury from his tap-dancing, or at least that seems plausible. In all seriousness, it sounds like a fun movie. Captures the optimism of the post-war period, it seems.

    Reply
    • Does seem plausible.
      Yet it does depend whether or not he injured himself On or Off the movie set.

      Solving the mystery of what happened 2 Bobby Long has been Long overdue and I hopr and pray that his story will finally Finally FINALLY come out someday soon.

      Neither Sinatra nor Durante never mentioned anything about him or what was the experience with him in the movie.

      And shame on the entertainment media for never Ever bothering an investigation on him, especially after the 50th anniversary of the movie in 1997. His story deserves to be told at Long last.

      Reply
      • Marlene Cameron

        I danced with Bobby Long when he and I were 7 or yr. I would love to get in touch with him. Can you help me do
        that?

        Marlene Cameron

      • Btw (By The Way)

        Sorry I had 2 reply a 3rd time.
        I had to be sure you got my last 2 messages in case they didn’t go through.

        Take care Marlene and please call me whenever you can. I am just as passionate at finding Bobby just as much as know you are.

        Thank U and Good Night*

      • Marlene, more than anything I would want to help U reunite with Bobby*

        Please tell me where can I contact U?

      • Yes Marlene. More than anything is that I would love to reunite you and Bobby together again.

        Here’s my number# 925-978-3254*

        Please let me know whenever you can, I would be more than happy to talk 2 U*

        It’s about time that Bobby’s story is Finally be told at Long last!

        Thank U Marlene & God Bless Bobby Long*

      • Marlene Cameron

        Good luck

      • mcameron4@myrapidsys.com

        How do you know Bobby is still alive? How did acquire this info? Please don’t tell me your are not at liberty to reveal your sources. I simply won’t accept that….period. Please don’t hound me…I don’t like that….period. M

      • No on the contrary. I can tell you.
        I’ve done my online research digging and looked through Newspapers.com and it lead me to a treasure trove of articles regarding Bobby. I pray he’s still alive because he had something rare that (in my opinion) No other child star in history had: The Quadruple Thread of Talent. Bobby Long WAS that Diamond in the Rough.

      • mcameron3@myrapidsys.com

        Thanks. But I’ve ceased to care…it was all so long ago and I’m passed that part of my life. now. I asked out of curiosity…. that’s all.

      • I thought you were looking for Bobby.
        When I found out that he only appeared in 2 movies, i thought why didn’t he continue if his dream was to be a movie star? He would’ve been a great celebrity. I mean he was Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Bobby Driscoll, Astaire & Kelly all rolled up in one.

        There was never an explanation as to why or what caused him to give up on his dreams.

        Marlene I really felt compassionate about helping you find him and reuniting the two of you together again. Most importantly I wanted to solve his mystery as to why he dissapeared from the limelight when he was just beginning to blossom. He REALLY was Star, I just wished he was able to live out his dreams and maybe share them with you.

    • Dear Aaron, for the past year 1/2 I’ve been doing my own investigation on Bobby Long, and with the written information I was able to record from my research on Newspapers.com, i gathered up a treasure trove of Bobby’s history.

      Such facts that I discovered were that he’s been a entertainer since he was 5, performing at relief venues during WW2, he had a puppy named Snookie, which just makes them both an even more cuter combination.

      In a little interview from a 1943 article with 8 yr old Bobby, he says his parents were entertainers as well, very talented like him (kinda runs in the family).

      He even said that while performing he likes to “play around” with the audience pretending like he was gonna trip off the stage and gets lots of girls to flirt on him.

      In 1942, a talent scout discovered him at one of the relief shows and signed him up to MGM.
      I know for a fact that kids like Bobby back then, couldn’t wait for the opportunity to “make it in pictures” and become celebrities. And Bobby was so happy to go to Hollywood he literally had stars in his eyes with all of the wonderment and joy that any talented child gets when they dream about becoming famous.

      His very first movie must’ve been Rodeo Rhythm, but he went by another name, Robert Long Jr. I guess his dad, Robert Long Sr wanted his son to keep their family name humble if Bobby were to become famous.
      But later Bobby decided to change his stage name 2 just “Bobby Long”.

      I’m only giving you a brief biography according to all that I found out Aaron so please bare with me here. Later in 1946, 12 yr old Bobby gets a call back from his agent asking if he would like to audition for the next Frank Sinatra movie. Which turned out to be It Happened in Brooklyn. When Bobby got the news that he was gonna be in the movie he was BEYOND excited he couldn’t wait to meet the cast, especially Frank & Jimmy Durante.

      We don’t know for sure if he ended up injuring himself after trying to do the big stunt finale he does at the end of the “I Believe” number, but I can tell you he did show up in the rest of the movie leading up to the end. And he was able to perform and tour again with tapping and he had a blast with all of the publicity he got after the movie premiered.

      Here’s the last article I read about him. In late March of of ’47, Bobby was going to return to Hollywood after he was done touring. And that was the last that anyone ever heard of him.

      It lead me to believe in several theories. Some of them accurately possible.

      My first theory is that someone close to Bobby tried to persuade him into molestation, when Bobby refused, that rapist POS ended up taking his life. Then the killer calls his company, tells them all about it and helps him cover up the death, but first they had no other choice but to kill the rest of his family too. So that they wouldn’t report Bobby’s murder.

      Then they ended up getting rid of their bodies and erased their historical records from existence. The mafia was good at making people disappear without so much as a trace. If I’m right, then it’s no wonder Bobby’s birth or death records don’t exist…anymore at least.

      I don’t tell you this to concern the very gruesome possibility that Bobby Long was murdered. But it seems highly, I mean, Highly likely. This boy, this wonderfully amazing talented boy had All of the makings of being a great star. But I believe all of that was stolen from him. And he never got the exposure or the justice he so rightfully deserves.

      Well Aaron maybe it’s about time one of us gave it too him at Long last. Bobby’s dream was to be in the next big Technicolor musical movie that could’ve landed his way to stardom. I think that would be his unfinished business and it can still be solved.

      Please tell me what you think Aaron, because as far as I’m concerned, I fell in love with that kid and I want to give him the happy ending he always wanted. Solving his mystery is the first step into doing that.

      Reply
  2. does anyone know what happened to Bobby Long?

    Reply
    • Yes! I know he’s still alive. But he could be in the final days of his life. He’s 82 or 83 now.

      And now “I Believe” his story deserves to be told at Long last. He was Extremely talented and Rare. He had the Quadruple Thread of Talent (Acting, Singing, Dancing (Tap), & Gymnastics/Acrobat Stunts)

      And to add a 5th thread to it, he also had charm and adorability. He had the Whole Package. Natch! (Bobby’s Movie Quote)*

      But something or someone got in his way and prevented him for becoming the Bigtime Star he dreamed of being. We don’t know if it was for good reason or if it was foul play.

      Either way it stopped Bobby from achieving his dreams. The mystery molust be solved someday. And I hope I get the opportunity to meet him myself.

      I’m not gonna let that Once Amazingly Talented Child Star die without having his story told. Natch!*

      God Bless Bobby Long*

      Reply
    • Dear Marlene*

      I know you decided to move on from looking for Bobby Long after searching for all these decades. But I simply need to ask one more question:

      When was the very last time you saw or talked to Bobby?

      Maybe there could be a clue to finding him after all. Please Marlene, I need you to try to think back as hard as you can. You may have given up on looking for him but I have not.

      If he’s still out there and if he’s in trouble then there’s still a chance not just to solve his disappearance but to save his legacy as well.

      Please Marlene, I need your help one more time, Bobby would’ve wanted yours too.

      Reply
    • Dear Jim, I found amount of evidence regarding Bobby on Newspapers.com that I think you’re gonna like.

      Bobby was born in New York circa 1935, his parents were entertainers themselves and boy did he earn their genes. He began to tap dance at 5 and earned his singing voice at 6.

      He began performing at benefit concerts durring the war and he got better and better each time. One reporter wrote that “this child has a voice that would shame big Broadway headliners”.

      In 1941, a talent scout from MGM studios discovered 7 yr old Bobby and convinced him into signing into pictures. He was so happy to go to Hollywood for the 1st time and was immediately starstruck as he appeared in his 1st movie with a bunch of other child stars in Rodeo Rhythm.

      In 1943 where he admits that he loves performing and “playing around” with the audience. And he even shared the fact that he had a puppy named Snookie!* My heart melted from the amount of cuteness to think of what an adorable pair Bobby & Snookie were.

      After the war ended, 12 yr old Bobby continued to tour and perform with headliners at the time like Frankie Carle & Arthur Boran. In 1946, Bobby got the opportunity to be casted in the Frank Sinatra movie, It Happened in Brooklyn. Bobby was so happy and excited when he found out that he was doing cartwheels all day Long. Snookie too.

      He performs in the movie until it was realized that he ended up getting injured after attempting the big stunt finale in the “I Believe” number. He didn’t raise his legs on time when he swings toward the slide instead he ends up hitting the base of the slide ladder.

      Poor Bobby cracked his knee and ankle and had to go into intensive care. During recovery, director Richard Whorf decided to keep the 1st shot of Bobby’s stunt as we see it in the movie. He decides to cut Bobby’s role to a minimum (which is why we don’t see him much in the movie). Bobby wasn’t gonna let his accident cripple him and his chances at stardom. He decided to get back on his feet as soon as possible.

      On the plus side, he did get to enjoy all of the clinic meals whenever he wanted them. Including milkshakes. And he definitely “enjoyed” the nurse’s company.

      Soon enough Bobby recovered and was back to performing better than ever. After the movie rapped, Bobby went back to performing while publicizing the movie in January 1947 until the premiere date on March 13th of 47.

      The very last article I read about him was that Bobby was going to return to Hollywood (MGM) to see if there will be possible roles for him in future movies. I know for a fact Bobby really wanted more than anything, at the time, was to be in a big Technicolor musical movie. That would’ve set his career for the rest of his life.

      That was it. That was all that was ever mentioned of the great & wonderful Bobby Long. He had Star material written all over him. If anything he could’ve been the biggest teen heartthrob in history had he made it Big.

      But sadly he never got to achieve any of those aspirations and goals.

      It gets us to wonder (speculate) if something bad happened to him and his family. A kid with all that talent doesn’t just vanish from existence forever with no record of his birth or death. It leads me to believe in such theories such as, wait for it… murder.

      Oh I’m wrong. But it’s highly, I mean, Highly probable.

      No matter what really happened to him what really matters is saving his legacy and hopefully get his story told for the world to Finally know about him.

      Please let me know what you think Jim.
      Bobby is now my favorite celeb of all time, and Snookie too. Natch!*

      Reply
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  4. I don’t know what happened to Bobby either. When we were about 6-7 yr. old we were paired as a dance team. His real name was Robert (Bobby) Longston. If any one know what happened to this very talented man please get in touch with me.

    Marlene

    Reply
    • Marlene, that’s so interesting. Where did you dance together?

      I loved his performance in this movie and I think it’s a shame he was never in any more movies

      You’ve inspired me to update this review … I added a little video at the end of the “I Believe” number, which was a highlight of the film for me.

      Reply
      • We were both New Yorkers. We got together through our mothers who were friends. We danced all over New York but only for a very short time. I believe I have a pix of us among my memorabilia. He was so good…a much better dancer than I. His style was so like Fred Astaire. You can find my bio. on IMDb.Wish someone would come forward and tell us what happened to him.

        Marlene

      • Adam, I hope you get this, I hope you email me ASAP. I must contact Marlene, I might just have a way to finally reunite her and Bobby Long together again*

        Thanks*

      • Gabriel, the only contact information I could find for Marlene was this email: mcameron4@myrapidsys.com

        That’s the best I could do. Hope it helps!

      • Well I will continue 2 try 2 contact her. To me Bobby Long was the Diamond in the Rough who’s story has gone untold and ignored.

        I plan 2 find him, reunite him with Marlene, and then hopefully get an interview with him about waht really happened to him before, during, and after he did the movie and what stopped him from becoming the Star he wanted to be.

        Thanks Adam*

      • Dear Adam, for the past five months I’ve been doing my own investigative research into Bobby Long and what supposedly happened to him and his family. And so far I’ve found some very interesting facts. I looked up Newspapers.com and it lead me to a treasure trove of articles about Bobby and his “Hollywood” story.

        Facts like Bobby’s parents were entertainers themselves, he was discovered as a traveling dancing act during the war and signed into MGM in 1942 at 7 years old, he even had a puppy named Snookie (as if that’s not adorable enough).

        The most suspicious article I read was that on Jan 25th of ’47, Bobby was gonna go back to Hollywood after he was done touring to promote IHIB (It Happened in Brooklyn) to see if he could convince L.B. Mayer that if he can get to be in the next “Big Technicolor Musical Picture”.
        And that was the last thing Anyone ever heard of Bobby.

        My suspicions have lead me to believe that Bobby and his family were murdered by the Hollywood Mafia….and Frank Sinatra was involved. And maybe even culpable.

        I know it sounds like something only a screenwriter would come up with but it’s possibly accurate. I looked up Sinatra’s mafia ties and they were involved in creating his stardom and they protected each other if anyone of them got in trouble, then they come in there and “clean house” and make the evidence “disappear”. He was also close friends to Hollywood’s biggest mob boss at the time, Benny ‘Bugsy’ Siegel. If anything he helped Frank get rid of the Longs after they did them in.

        Not to mention Frank had a history of violent and abusive behavior. While filming IHIB Frank would often come to work with a hideous attitude and bully the set members. Frank was mad because L.B. Mayer found out about his secret affair and his wife Nancy knew too.

        If there’s one thing I could probably tell about Bobby was that he was a curious kid (well most kids were at that time) and he may have eavesdropped or even caught Frank sleeping or making out with his lover. And that’s when Frank realizes he forgot to close the door.

        If Sinatra was responsible for Bobby’s “disappearance”, then he would’ve done any of the following:

        A. He calls on his mob friends, tells them about Bobby, and gave them the order to “take care of it”!

        B. He personally meets up with Bobby, convinces him into going with him for a walk or a drive in his car…until he gets him the moment they’re all alone!

        C. Bobby says something about his affair by accident, angering Frank to the point that he ends up beating and choking poor Bobby to death!

        If Frank ended up killing that poor little boy, then he would’ve had to call on the mob, get his friend Bugsy Siegel to come up with the strategy to vanish the crime scene. They bury or butchered the bodies of Bobby and his family and erase their permanent records. Alluding the feds and the media from ever finding out about it.

        If I’m right about any of this, then Frank Sinatra’s legacy has been a travesty and he is a defined now in history as a cold-blooded murderer.

        I hope I’m wrong though. Because all I really care about is giving Bobby Long the recognition he probably has been waiting for All this time. Because a kid as talented and wonderful as he was doesn’t just disappear without a trace if his dream was to be a Big-time movie star.

        And boy was He AWESOME* Natch!* (His saying in the movie IHIB)

    • Dear Marlene,

      U may not know me, but I have as much curiosity as to know about what happened to that talented sweet little boy who shined on the big screen once in Sinatra’s It Happened In Brooklyn.

      Bobby Long had his whole life ahead of him if he wanted to continue with his amazing God-given talent in show business and movie-making. When I first saw him, he stole my heart with his adorable quirkiness, his charm, his charisma, and especially his fast-tapping soles. He could’ve been the best since Shirley Temple, the male version at least. and like Shirley, he would have been adored by fans worldwide at the time.

      Then again I think for the protection of most child stars, they need the consent and support of thier families, especially the parents. If Johnny’s dream was to really Really REALLY make it Bigtime with his name in lights, then there would’ve been some proven documentations about how he was first discovered. And maybe somewhere saying Why he never was seen or heard from in another picture or production again.

      Then I did the research and discovered that this was his 1st and Only movie. It was a bummer but then it lead me to speculate.

      There can only be a theories as to why Little Johnny disappeared from the limelight.

      Could it be…

      A. He injured himself during the I Believe number sending him to Intensive Care that the report he got was tragic and he ended up being paralyzed never to tap dance again, forcing him to give up show business.

      B. He ir his parents were in a huge disagreement with the head of MGM whether it to do with money, time, or even talent, and they became so unpleased and disappointed at the company that Johnny or his parents decided to rip up his contract and quit show business.

      C. He wanted to continue showbiz but he found out about something wrong and sinister in the entertainment industry, and if he was targeted by suspected pedophiles at the time and ended up becoming a victim of child rape or abuse, then he was right to quit and remove his name from the showbiz history.

      And if he tried to come forward with his family and the authorities with everything he endured or discovered, then chances are he never got to tell either by being threatened to keep his mouth shut for as long he lived or whoever those terrorists were ended up killing him and his entire family! Making it all look like an accident!

      If any of the above happened as to why Johnny Long quit showbiz, then i hope Marlene if you’re reading this, maybe I’ve helped shed some light to what really happened to your dear old little friend.

      I feel bad for him either way, all he probably ever wanted was to be an inspiration for everyone and put a smile on people’s faces whenever he dances his delightful tap choreo or does some beautiful acrobatic stunts or acts cute to attract lovely ladies to fall head over heels for him.

      He sure became an inspiration to me. I hope one day I might get the opportunity to meet him whether he is still alive or he passed away, but either way, I’m sure God would love to see him jumping and tapping his way to Heaven.

      Now I’m getting a little emotional because kids like him are a rarity in these times now. Who could ever posses the same amount of quality in kindness, wit, talent, and beauty like Robert (Johnny) Longston had. Thank U Johnny Long* God Bless Him*

      And God Bless U Marlene, he really was such a good friend to You.

      Reply
    • Yes Marlene. More than anything I want yo help U reunite with Bobby, but first we must find him.
      Maybe he never wanted his story to be told, especially not to the entertainment media.

      But if he Finally wants to come out with it than I say he deserves to be heard at Long last! Natch! (Bobby’s catch phrase in the movie)

      Please tell me Marlene where can I contact you? Thank U* Gabriel Vidrio*

      Reply
    • Marlene, here’s my number# = 925-978-3254*

      Please call me when U can, I want to help find Bobby too. Thank U* Gabe*

      Reply

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