Peggy Lloyd

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As the daughter of one of Hollywood’s richest citizens, Peggy Lloyd could have had an “easy living” kind of a life. Yet, she stubbornly chose to become her own, independent woman, and fought tooth and nail to make a decent living in Hollywood for herself and her children.

EARLY LIFE:

Gloria Gabrielle Freeman was born on April 15, 1925, in Los Angeles, Califronia, to single mother Gloria Freeman.  Her father (whatever his name was) was allegedly from Nebraska and her mother from Pennsylvania. Miss Freeman gave up Gloria for adoption soon after birth. She was put in a Pasadena orphanage.

Peggy was adopted at the age of 5 by Harold and Mildred Lloyd. Harold Lloyd was a famous comedian, and the richest man in Hollywood – he was a shrewd investor and canny businessman. They already had two children, a son, Harold Lloyd Jr. and a daughter, Mildred Gloria, whose companion Gloria was destined to become.

They renamed her Marjorie Elisabeth, she was nicknames Peggy almost from day one.

Peggy lived the high life as Lloyd’s daughter – she was chauffeured to school in a limo, and the family lived in the fabulous Lloyd estate (Green Acres, one of the first mansions in Beverly Hills) that had it’s own nine hole golf course and an Olympic sized pool.  In 1930, after the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, Lloyd became paranoid about the safety of his own children. As Gloria Lloyd later said to a journalist:

 “That was a scary time because we were old enough to know what was going on. We had two guards outside of our room with guns in holsters. Nice guys – they made fun for us children. But they used to go with us wherever we went, even to the tennis court. One taught me how to rollerskate. We weren’t allowed to go many places. So it was a very sheltered childhood.”

By all accounts, Harold and Mildred, as parents, were generous to the point of overindulgence. I quote Gloria’s independent obituar:

“The children even had a private zoo. But Harold insisted they learn the value of money. At 13, Gloria and her friends had a lemonade stand on Benedict Canyon Drive. They charged a dime a glass, but Mildred made sure they gave the profits to the church.When Gloria and Peggy were students at UCLA. Lloyd ran the family on strict Victorian lines. Drinking was forbidden. Pocket money was limited to $30 a month while the girls were at college, and they were expected to travel there by bicycle.

“As we grew up we had to be heavily chaperoned. It seems a little strange now, but we went out on dates with the chauffeur and the governess. Boyfriends came to the estate and were screened by Clementine, our housekeeper for 45 years. We felt like a Hollywood royal family.”

Peggy attended Westlake School for Girl and, as mentioned in the quote, enrolled into UCLA and USC, majoring in art.

Despite the family’s wealth, Peggy wanted to work and carve her own mark on the world. Being a very beautiful woman, it was only natural that she try her hand in modeling. Soon, Peggy was all over the papers, modeling clothes and advertising for this and that. In 1943, she landed a role in Cover girl, and started her career in Hollywood, the town where she was practically royalty.

CAREER:

Again, I quote some of the previous posts about her movie career:

PeggyLLoyd3Her first  credit is  Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Peggy was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Cecilia Meagher, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

After her death, Peggy was featured in an American Masters episode about her father, where she talked about their relationship and how was it to growing up in such an environment.

PRIVATE LIFE:

In 1946, Peggy made it in the California debutante book, along with her sister, Gloria, and Shirley Temple.

PeggyLLoyd4Peggy married movie producer Almon Bartlett “Bart” Ross on April 17, 1948. Ross was born on July 5, 1923, making him just two years older than Peggy. His father was a well known doctor in Beverly Hills. Their son David Lloyd Ross was born on May 26, 1950. They separated and divorced in 1953. In 1954, Bart married Erin Considine, another daughter of well heeled showbiz parents (her mother was Carmen Pantages, of the Pantages dynasty, and her dad director John Considine Jr.). That marriage did not last either, and he married lastly to Mary Carmenla Clark in 1961. He died in 1970.

After her divorce, Peggy refused to return to the Lloyd’s house, and instead took an apartment with a friend and started a career as a Hollywood gossip columnist. She had to learn everything from a scratch, but Peggy was a smart, sharp woman and quickly paved her own way. She was proud to be able to support her son all on her own.

Peggy had a one sided crush on society columnist Jim Copp. One of her first dates after her divorce were Don Taylor (then freshly divorced from Phyllis Avery) and Bob Fullerton. She let her hair down, driving in a fiee truck around town with her friend Ginny Simms. In late 1953 and early 1954, she had a serious romance with Dick Ogden, but he left her and she carried a torch for several months afterwards. Peggy dated first Harry Crocker and then Herbert Hirschmoeller for a brief time in the 1955, and then met her next husband, a young actor Robert, “Bob” Patten.

PeggyLloyd1They married on March 3, 1956, in Las Vegas. Patten was born on October 11, 1925 in Tacoma, Washington. He came to Hollywood in 1925 and was to become a major character actor in showbiz. The real marriage lasted only 8 months, and her friend Betty Plant even testified that Patten told her he could not stand Peggy any more, since he disliked “good wives”. They won a divorce in December 1956, and afterwards Peggy found out she was pregnant. This did not change her decision about her marital state – they did not remarry. Their son Robert Patten Jr. was born on August 3, 1957 in Los Angeles.

As Harold Lloyd’s daughter, Peggy was very active socially. She knew everybody who was somebody from the movie colony, and was a good friend with Charlie and Oona Chaplin, giving many interview about the couple. Peggy also gave many soirees at her home in San Fernando Valley, hosting many a famous people. She was on good terms with her sister and brother, and the only child who remained in normal contact with the elder Lloyd and Mildred.

BettyJaneHess2I was very impressed by Peggy, as she became a  publicist and refused all help from Harold for financial support. She candidly told a reported that “I am over 21 and mom and dad are not responsible for my mistakes.” Bravo for Peggy! A very down to earth, normal millionaire’s daughter! Peggy later worked in a variety of other jobs: as a talent scout for a radio DJ, restaurant hostess, bookkeeper for an advertising agency and saleswoman.

Peggy tried to find her birth mother in about 1972, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. This started a trend in the papers, where adopted children seeker the truth about their birth parents. I don’t know how exactly it transpired, but Peggy met with her birth mother, then known as Dorothy Callison.

Peggy did not remarry and lived the rest of her days in California.

Marjorie Elisabeth Lloyd died on November 18, 1986, from lung cancer in Newport, Orange County, California.

Her former husband Bob Patten died in 2001. The last surviving Lloyd sibling, Gloria, died in 2012.

 

Martha Outlaw

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With beautiful, exotically slanted eyes, a well sculpted face and a slim but womanly body, Martha Outlaw was the paragon of a stunning 1940s woman, ending up a highly successful model, a failed actress and in the end a happy family woman.

EARLY LIFE:

Martha Rascoe Outlaw was born on April 29, 1914, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to Edward Ralph Outlaw and Louise G. Greenleaf. Her older sister, also named Louise, was born in 1908. Both of her parents were from Elizabeth City.

The family lived in Elizabeth City until the 1930s. Martha’s dad Edward was a college educated boat captain who worked in the Texas oil industry. In his spare time, he was a passionate lover of early American history and was well known collector of the Pasquotank area (where Elizabeth City is situated) local stories. The stories were later privately published by Martha’s mom Louise in a book named Old Nag’s Head (this was to in 1954, after Ralph’s death).

The Outlaws were a well liked, popular local family, and both Martha and Louise were local debutantes, making social column notices in the paper and flirting with local boys.

Martha wanted a career, and decided upon a modeling one. She started modeling in cca 1942, pretty late, when she was almost 30 years old. She was soon a sought after model, and in 1943, was summoned to Hollywood to act in Cover Girl.

CAREER:

Again, I quote some of the previous posts about her movie career:

MartthaOutlawHer first  credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Helen was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Cecilia Meagher, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

MarthaOutlaw8Martha appeared in one more movie, albeit uncredited. But, it’s a pretty good one - Since You Went Away, a WW2 classic. Unlike many other WW2 movies, it has nothing to do with the battleground but all to do with the people left behind, just as much victims of war as the soldiers were. While this is not a master piece, not by far, as it is marred by cons typical of the patriotic WW2 movies (too preachy, a bit unrealistic, too sentimental), it still features some superb performances and that is its core strength that raises it above the typical WW2 propaganda film. Claudette Colbert, Jennfier Jones, Shirley Temple, Robert Walker, Joseph Cotten, Monty Woolley are all solid performers and all give spirited performances. All in a all, a promising start. Yet, it was as much a start as it was the end of Martha’s career.

Martha left the film world to become a wife and mother after this.

PRIVATE LIFE:

In 1942, Martha dated James McKinley Bryant, the well known cafe society broker and author. They actually dated for almost a year but broke up before she departed for Hollywood.

MarthaOutlaw3In Hollywood, Martha suffered an appendicitis attack in October 1944 and lived in a single room with fellow starlet, Karen Gaylord. Gaylord even had problems when she wanted t marry her love, Ted Knoll, since there was a shortage of housing in Los Angeles then (during the war).

Martha married Henry Edwards Huntington II on May 17, 1944, while he was in the Army Air Force. He was the grandson and name sake of Henry E. Huntington, famous millionaire philanthropist. Born on January 3, 1921, his father was Huntington’s only son, Howard Edwards Huntington, and his mother was the former Louise Thayer Green from Berkeley, California. He was the youngest of six children (his siblings were Elizabeth,  Margaret, Harriet, Howard and Leslie). Sadly, Henry was just one year old when his father died.

The couple lived a lavish life in California and had two children, two sons, Henry III, born in 1945, and Edward “Ted”, born on August 25, 1947.

Martha separated from her husband in November 1951, and sued him for divorce in December 1951. She claimed he took 9,000$ dollars from their shared account and left California without providing any means for her or the boys. There was a bit of push and shove since Huntington, in hopes of getting a swift divorce, moved “permanently” to Nevada, became a Nevada resident, and filed for his own divorce proceedings. He charged Martha with mental cruetly and was awarded a default divorce in March, but since Martha signed a separate divorce petition, there was a bit of a wobble. In the end Martha was awarded 2900$ monthly temporary alimony in January, and the final divorce decree was given in June 1952. Martha even hired two private detectives to tail her husband, who laid low in Nevada, but they never did manage to catch him. Martha testified that Huntington could frequently get her up at all hours of the  night so he could tell her about his “conquests”, and that he abused her verbally.

MarthaOutlaw6.comHuntington tried later to nullify Martha’s California divorce by his own Nevada divorce, but the judge rules it as a sham. All in all, the show dragged on for a while…

In the meantime, Martha wisely choose to give up on the whole sordid game and married Secondo Guasti III, scion of a well known California wine making family, on April 17, 1954. It was true love, since Martha gave up her 1,000$ alimony after the marriage (Huntington only had to continue paying 600$ per month for their two sons). Guasti was Martha’s junior by 10 years, being born on October 13, 1925. His grandfather was Secondo Guasti I, founder of the Italian Vineyard Company. Secondo came from Italy to the US in 1881 and slowly built his business from the ground up. Within 20 years he had founded his own vineyard and town, and his name became synonymous with Southern California wine. A simple testament to his success - penniless when he arrived, Guasti later lived in a mansion on West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles that was said to have cost $500,000 to build.

His father was Secondo Guasti Jr, Secondo Sr’s only son (he also had a daughter). Secondo’s mother was a well known gourmet cook who combined several ethical cuisines into a compact new cuisine, and wrote cookbooks. Sadly, Secondo Guasti Jr. died in Santa Barbara on April 6, 1933 at the age of 42. His widow remarried in 1935 and moved to New York. Secondo later moved back to California.

Martha and Secondo had a happy, fulfilling marriage and were socially prominent in Pasadena, often giving their famous gala parties for friends. The charmed life lasted until Secundo’s death in 1973. Martha’s former husband, Harry Huntington, died in 1978. He remarried in 1954 to Lucille Barnes Noonan.

Martha continued to live in California, and was very active in the local community.

Martha Guasti died on December 30, 2002 in Santa Barbara.

Helen Mueller

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Beautiful model whose movie career never happened, but who became a leading philanthropist in the New Yersey area, Helen Mueller is certainly a woman who is living an interesting life.

EARLY LIFE:

Helen Irene Mueller was born in August 1919 in Bloomfield, New Yersey, to Emil Mueller and his wife, Gertrude Mueller, the youngest of three daughters. Her older sisters were Marguerite V., born in 1913, and Hildegarde, born in 1915. Both of her parents were born in Germany and immigrated to the States in about 1903 and 1904.

Helen grew up in Bloomfield, New Yersey. There she graduated from high school (but opted not to go to college).

Helen’s father died in the 1930s, and her mother took up nursing to support the family. Her sisters married and left the family home, and in 1940, Helen and her mother were living together in Bloomfield, New Yersey. Helen was working as a professional photographer’s aide. Her knowledge of the photography process helped her carve a career as a model, and she left for New York in cca 1941. She quickly rose in the modeling ranks, and was posing for Norman Rockwell and regularly appearing on magazine covers. In 1943, she was summoned to Hollywood to appear in Cover girl, a Rita Hayworth movie, and left for the West coast.

CAREER:

Again, I quote some of the previous posts about her movie career:

HelenMueller4Her first and only credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Helen was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Cecilia Meagher, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

PRIVATE LIFE:

I was surprised to see just how many models actually had low key love lives and married normal guys. I always imagine them as glamorous gals who ended up with crem de la crem of society (Conover once remarked that he wasn’t sure was he running  a marrying agency or a modeling agency). Yet, there undoubtedly was a string of models who married high up and mad news with their romantic exploits. Helen was on the threshold between these two : the girl next doors and the glam queens. Why? Let us firnd out!

Helen hits the papers in 1941 as a serious romance of a famous illustrator Jon Whitcomb. Whitcomb had just left a short and bitter marriage to Mary Brian months prior, and of course the “serious romance” led nowhere.

HelenMueller5Well, for a time in 1943, Helen was in all the papers as the prospective bride to be of Mickey Rooney, that well wed but well loved cad, Rooney needs no introductions. A genius all around performer, he was one of the best examples of the triple threat: an actor, dancer and singer rolled into one. By 1943, he was already married once to Ava Gardner, . Helen and Mickey met in the early 1943, by April were a constant couple, and in August he organised her a birtdhay party and even gifted her with a ruby bracelet! They were frequently photographed at the Mocambo night club and premiere of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” . It must have been love for Mickey, as he tried to persuade the pretty model to marry him in January 1944. During the whole month of September and OCtober Helen was trying in earnest to fight off rumors that she would wed Mickey, claiming that she was engaged to another man.

And engaged to another man she was. Helen announced her engagement to Bill “Wild Indian” Geyer in May 1943, before things with Mickey really heated up. She vehemently tried to deny that she was in a serious relationship with Mickey and that she would wed Bill regardless. She and Bill married on March 15, 1944, in New Jersey.

Now, Geyer is a very colorful, interesting man. I quote http://www.njinvent.org/ web site for information about Bill’s father, also called William Geyer:

William Geyer arrived in the United States from his native Germany in 1910 at age 17, earning his passage by peeling potatoes on the ship. He had no money or command of the language but put his skills to work as a glassblower at Westinghouse, making lamps for 15 cents an hour.

By 1918, at age 25, he established Scientific Glass Apparatus Co. in Bloomfield in the back bedroom of his home. After the business spilled onto other parts of his property, including the chicken coop, he established his first factory in Bloomfield, about 500 feet from his home. Several skilled craftsmen manned the plant, producing custom-made glassware for local laboratories.

Geyer was the inventor of automatic burettes, metal-clad joints, melting point thermometers and other items now considered standard equipment in laboratories. He was also responsible for the development and production of interchangeable glassware in the United States.

He was honored with the Kiwanis International Legion of Honor Award.

His son “Indian” Bill Geyer, who was an All-American running back at Colgate University and a professional with the Chicago Bears, succeeded his father as president of Scientific Glass, now an international company with annual sales in excess of $7 million. He was resident of Bloomfield.

Here are some more bits about Bill, and what kind of an interesting character he was:

-       Colgate football – 1939, 1940, 1941
-       1942 East-West Shrine Game
-       Selected in the 11th round of the 1942 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears
-       Chicago Bears – 1942-1943, 1946
-       He paid for his own plane and training after being rejected for Colgate’s civilian pilot training course in 1940 because of an eye injury
-       He was turned down by the Navy in 1941 because of the same injury, so he had surgery to correct it
-       Returned to Colgate in 1943 for aviation training and took math courses from Andy Kerr
-       Gunnery officer in the Navy in World War II
-       Played with a Navy football team in a game against the Army in the Philippines in 1945
-       Returned to the Brooklyn Armed Guard Center in 1945 after commanding a gun crew

Bill was a very indastrious, hard working man. He served not only heads a prospering manufacturing company, with factories in many states, but also held such honors as the vice-chairmanship of the Colgate University Board of Trustees and the presidency of the New York Touchdown Club.

HelenMueller2Helen and Bill had, by all means, an exciting, harmonious marriage, a marriage anybody could wish for. They had more than one child, but I am unfortunately unable to find their names (if anybody has this information, please email me so I can put it here). They were a perfect team, doing extensive philanthropic work together, flying in their Cessna airplane, attending charity events, mingling with students at Bill’s alma matter, Colgate University, and making long sojourns in Africa to go hunting.

Due to their shared philanthropic work, Helen is a living legend in New Jersey, as the local web page (http://patch.com/) quotes about her:

Helen Geyer has served for many years as a valuable volunteer to the YMCA of Montclair. Over the years she served on the Ladies Auxiliary and in addition to many other special events she assisted in transforming the gymnasium to look like that of the theme of that year’s fundraiser. She assisted with inviting “the right people” to the table for each event and funded several projects over the years. More recently and more significantly, Mrs. Geyer generously funded the renovation of the 159 Glenridge Avenue property. In 2007, the branch of the YMCA intended to serve our youth population was officially named the Helen & Bill Geyer Family Center of the Montclair YMCA. We give many thanks to Helen for her philanthropic spirit.

Bill Geyer died on June 4, 2004.

Helen Geyer is still alive and lives in Montclair, New Yersey. 

 

 

Betty Jane Graham

Betty Jane Graham3

Stunning cover girl who almost nagged a spot in the B western roster, Betty Jane Graham took the family route and retired before reaching any true milestones.

EARLY LIFE:

Betty Jane Graham was born on December 24, 1917, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Henry Duncan Graham and his wife, Mary “Mae” Melley. Her older sister was Muriel Graham, born in Wisconsin in 1913. (IMDB lists her DOB as 1920, and she doubtlessly tried to make herself look younger when she hit Hollywood, but the 1930 census lists her at 12 years old, so that sounds about right).

Her father was a Wisconsin native who wed her mother, an Illinois native in the early 1910s. The family moved around a lot, first living in Wisconsin, then living in Minnesota where Betty was born, moving to Indianapolis, Indiana, then Kansas City, Missouri and in the end settling in Emory, DeKalb, Georgia. Her father, who was college educated, was a district manager. The family, while not rich, was well off.

Betty changed schools a lot as a child, and developed a special interest in the performing arts. She decided to become an actress, and went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. To make extra pocket money, she started modeling and was soon a sought after model. In 1943, she was summoned to Hollywood to act in Cover girl, a Rita Hayworth movie.

CAREER:

Betty originally came to Hollywood to appear in Cover girl. I repeat the story again:

Betty Jane GrahamHer first credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Betty was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

Unlike many of her fellow cover girls, Betty stayed in Hollywood for a longer run. Her second (uncredited appearance) is in Louisiana Hayride, quite a predictable and ultimately unfunny comedy with Judy Canova in the lead. When Judy’s the lead, it’s clear what kind of a movie it is – featuring hillbillies and showing their (mis)adventures around the US. While Judy is as good as ever, the movie lacks everything else – a good story, common sense and originality. The supporting actors are also only so-so.

Betty Jane Graham2Like fellow model Eileen McClory, she appeared in They Live in Fear, a WW2 propaganda movie about a German intellectual who escapes Nazi Germany after seeing his professor being killer in the Dachau concentration camp. His life in America is soon threatened by a careless mistake of a colleague. Like many of the propaganda movies, it’s zero art and all “giving a message” film, but that’s what is to be expect of it. Plus, it gives Otto Kureger, a superb actor, a chance to play the lead (he was mostly a support in A class movies). The movie is little seen today and can be tagged as sadly mediocre.

Betty reached the pinnacle of her career with Rough Ridin’ Justice, a B western where she played the lead. From an uncredited extra to the lead in just one step, whoa, and to add a bonus, it’s a decent, well made B western. The story is interesting enough, and the movie flows seamlessly from beginning to the end. Betty got kudos from the critics for her performance, and should have stayed in B western movies if she wanted to continue her career.

Yet she did not, opting to retire to raise a family, and thus it was bye bye Hollywood.

 

PRIVATE LIFE:

Betty did not have a tumultuous love life, nor did she make any shocking newspaper headlines.

Betty Jane married her first and only husband, Robert Defiel, on July 23, 1944, in Los Angeles. Robert Matthew Defiel was born on July 15, 1916, in Minnesota to Matthew J. Haller and Caroline E. Linder. A civil engineer by trade, he was married once before to Ani Kaster in October 1942, but they were divorced in 1943.His brother, George, was to become the president of Colorado and Southern Railway and Fort Worth and Denver Railway.

Betty Jane gave birth to her only child, daughter Kellin Graham Defiel, on August 21, 1947. Defiel became a distinguished citizen of Claremont, and was active in the local politics – he endorsed his friend Fred Warner Neal for Congress in 1968. The Defiels were also passionate golfers and played often at “Indian Hills”, the Riverside local club. The family moved around, living in San Francisco and Oregon for a time.

Her daughter married Kenneth Scudder in 1995.

Betty Jane Defiel died on July 1, 1998, in Palm Springs, California.

Her husband moved to Oregon after her death, but as his health failed he returned to Palm Springs, where he died on December 24, 2007.

Cecilia Meagher

Cecilia Meagher

Regal, elegant model who became the queen of jukebox movies in California, Cecilia Meagher lasted much long than some, but still did not find lasting success in Hollywood.

EARLY LIFE:

Cecelia Margret Meagher was born on May 10, 1919 in New York to John Meagher and Sarah Potter. Her father was to become a vice president of the Pennsylvania R.R. company.

Cecilia was the oldest of three daughters: her younger sister were Mildred, born in 1921, and Joan, born in 1926. Cecilia and her sisters grew up in the family home in Howard Beach where they attended high school.

A pretty brown eyed girl, Cecilia entered the world of modeling in 1936, barely 17 years old. She entered a large number of various beauty contests and often placed second (always the bridesmaid, never the bride).

In the early 1940s, Cecilia signed with Conover models. In 1942, she won a national wide contest of Coronet magazine to find a perfect girl who will represent them in the upcoming Rita Hayworth movie, Cover Girl. Thus, Cecilia left for Hollywood!

CAREER:

Cecilia made only one movie under her real name, and that movie is Cover girl. As with Jean Colleran, I repeat the passage about the film:

CeciliaMeagher2Her first credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Cecilia was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

In the interim, Cecilia change her name to Cissy Marr and made a large number of jukebox movies. IMDB only lists a few credtis under tCeciliaMeagher6his name. Let’s go with them:

Anna and the King of Siam, a predecessor of The King and I. It’s a very well made movie, with a geniune warmth and loads of charm. The performances by Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison are first class, very nuanced and deeply felt, the production values are high and the script is intelligently written. While it’s not the flippant, happy go lucky movie the musical version is, the dramatic flair gives it a seriousness and earnestness the musical does not have. Cissy played one of the King’s wives and was (sadly) uncredited.

CeciliaMeagher4The second one is Blue Skies, a Bing  Crosby/Fred Astaire film with music by Irving Berlin. If you like musicals where the music is of primer importance, this is the movie for you. While both Astaire and Crosby excell at their prospective fields (Astaire as a dancer and Crosby as a singer, naturally), they cannot outmatch Berlin’s ingenious music. Joan Claufield is a bit balnd as the love interest, but her sweet but interesting type was a female role staple in Crosby movies for  a very long time. All in all, a nicely done musical, worth watching, not the best for any of the performers involved but certantly good enough.

The Belle of New York is a slightly different musical (of the musical fantasy type), with Astaire and Vera Ellen, that never grows to it’s full potential. The reason? Several, but mostly it’s the inspid, uninteresting story (about a playboy at the beginning of the 20th century who falls in love with a mission house worker, now where did I see that one before?) . Fred, despite being in his late 50s, is as god as ever, and Vera Ellen is a graceful but energetic dancer, matched by very few female dancers of that time. The supporting players are also outstanding (Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn, Alice Pearce), but there is always something missing.

Cissy allegedly appeared in the movie A Bell For Adano with her daughter, but it is not listed among her credits.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Cecilia’s life was pretty ordinary for someone who was a top New York model and an working actress (at least for a time). Men flock to date and sometimes wed both of these brands of girls.

CeciliaMeagher3Back home n New York, in the late 1942 and early 1943, Cecilia dated the famous puppeteer, Frank Parris. Yet, Parris was soon out and a new beau was in – civilian flying instructor, Robert Heasley. For Cecilia Bob Heasley was the one, and the two wed on December 7, 1943, in Los Angeles.

Robert Preston Heasley was born on August 2, 1915 to Walter Heasley and Jeanette Barrett in California. The family lived in Los Angeles where Bob grew up. He later opened a flying school in Arizona.

CeciliaMeagher5Her daughter Barbara Jeanne Heasley was born on October 26, 1944. When the baby was two months old, both she and Cecilia appeared in the movie “A bell for Adano.” Cecilia’s second child, a son, Robert Preston Healey Jr., was born on April 29, 1948.

Also worth noting is that Ceceilia’s sister, Mildred, became the model Betty McGuire and made headlines more than her sister in the earl 1940s. She was very popular with the boys and had a brief marriage that was well documented in the papers. She faded from view after 1946.

CeciliaMeagher7Cecilia and Robert continued to live in California. She gave up her movie work in the late 1940s to raise their family. She was completely out of the limelight and it’s very hard to find any information about what she was doing during that time. Cecilia and Bob divorced sometime in the mid 1960s, and Bob remarried in 1968 to Constance Simons.  

Her son, Robert Preston Heasley Jr., married Mary Charlene Hayes in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1977.

Cecilia’s former husband, Robert Preston Heasley, died on April 17, 1998.

Cecilia Heasley died on July 11, 1998, in South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, California

Eileen McClory

EileenMcClory1

The fresh faced beauty was just one of many who tried to make a Hollywood career and failed.

EARLY LIFE:

Eileen June McClory was born on June 1, 1923, in Hartford, Connecticut, to William McClory and his wife. Her older brother was William McClory Jr.

Eileen’s father was a man who, with just 8 grades of elementary school, built his own business from the ground up and employed several people. Her brother grew up to become a professional machinist.

Eileen grew up in Hartford, finished high school there, and moved to Manhattan to become a model in the early 1940s. She was signed by the Conover agency and was soon a sough after model. In 1943, she was summoned to Hollywood to appear in the movie Cover Girl, and opted to stay for the Tinsel Town ride.

CAREER:

Like most girls who came to Hollywood for Cover girl, her career proved to be very thin, but still better than some!

EileenMcClory5Her first credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Eileen was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Ceceilia Meagher, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

EileenmcClory3Eileen went on to appear in two more movies, proff that at least she tried to make a career out of it. Her second was movie was They Live in Fear, a WW2 propaganda movie about a German intellectual who escape Nazi Germany after seeing his professor being killer in Dachau concentration camp. His life in America is soon threatened a careless mistake of a colleague. Like many of the propaganda movies, it’s zero art and all “giving a message” movie, but that’s what is to be expect of it. Plus, it gives Otto Kureger, a superb actor, a chance to play the lead (he was mostly a support in A class movies). The movie is little seen today and can be tagged as sadly mediocre.

Her third movie did not fare any better. Carolina Blues, while definitely better known than They Live in Fear, is still a weak movie with Kay Kysler as the lead. Make no mistake, while a very fine musician, Kysler was no actor and it shows, especially when he has to carry a movie. It gets even worse when you notices there is an absurd plot and supporting cast is sorely underused. Georgia Carroll, Eileen’s fellow model who ultimately married Kysler, is a visual delight at least, and who can resist the perpetually enchanting Ann Miller with her all too brief tapping sequence? A below average musical, to sum it up, completely forgettable.

Eileen gave up her career for family after this.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Eileen was not the stunning, classical ladylike beauty, but rather a vivacious, cute girl next door and was quite successful in her niche. Unlike many of her fellow models and actresses, she had a sedate private life and never made any negative headlines.

EileenMcClory4Her love life was never mentioned n the papers before her first and only marriage. In December 1945, just after being his discharge from the Navy, Eileen married Walter Crawford Adams Jr. Walter, born to Dr. Walter Adams and his wife Emma Pool, on September 16, 1919 in San Joaquin, California, the oldest of three children. He was enrolled into a college in Berkeley, California before going to fight into WW2. He served for 25 months in the UN Naval Air Force in the Pacific. The wedding was held at the St. Angeles church in the Pacific Grove by reverend Father Kerf. They honeymooned in the East Coast for a few days.

EileenMcClory6Eileen gave up her acting career to raise a large family: she and Walter had five children, in proper order: William McClory Adams (names after both her father and her brother), born on October 25, 1951, then James Grant Adams, born on February 20, 1953, then Steven Robert Adams, born on April 3, 1954, then Thomas Pool Adams, born on July 25, 1955 and finally a baby girl, Carol A. Adams, born on November 30, 1959.

The family first lived in Alameda and then moved to Merced, California, and then went back to Alameda. The Adams’ had a solid, happy marriage that lasted until Walter’s death on June 28, 1981. Eileen did not remarry.

Eileen June Adams died on February 23, 1984, in Alameda, California.

Jean Colleran

JeanColleran2

Most female models in the 1940s and 1950s served their due for a few years and happily gave up their jobs for marriage and family. Jean Colleran was one of the few models that lasted more than a decade and became a powerhouse in the industry.

EARLY LIFE:

Jean Pershing Colleran was born on September 7, 1918 to Michael Colleran and his wife, Jeannette Hemmings, in Manhattan, New York City, New York. She was one of four children – her older siblings were Walter M. and Blanche M., her younger sibling was John R.

Jean’s mother was an England native who immigrated to the US and married Michael in the early 1910s.

Jeannette stayed connected to her family in England, and the children went overseas at least twice to visit their grandparents and other relatives. Jeannette’s sister, Maizie, also came to New York at some point, and was living with the family in 1940, along with her son Michael Eby (names after Jeannette’s husband).

Jean attended George Washington high school in her birth city, and later became a talented artist and sculptor studying at the Art Students League in Manhattan. She started modeling while still a schoolgirl, in 1936. Due to her exquisite face, she was quick to become a leading model by the time she was 20 years old. She even purchased her own home and lived in Riverdale, New York, for a time, while her parents lived in Kew Garden Hills, Long Island.

CAREER:

{Since their career were more or less the same, I am repeating this from the post about Betty Jane Hess.}

JeanColleran3Her one and only credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Jean was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Ceceilia Meagher, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Many of the high fashion models of that time married very well. In fact, I’m sure that more models married millionaires than chorus girls and Hollywood actresses! From the 14 Cover girls, several of them married upwards.

Jean was a refreshing change from his rule. While the other capitalized on their faces and bodies, Jean remained devoted to her high school sweetheart, Robert Foster Fuchs. Foster was born to Herman and Josephine Fuchs in 1916 in New York (I guess he changed his surname to Foster at some point). 

JeanColleranTheir wedding, held on August 1943 in Beverly Hills, turned into a media extravaganza since all of the 14 cover girls attended it.  And they all kissed the groom! On a funny note, of all the eligible bachelorette girls, the 5 year old model, Cheryl Archer, caught the bouquet! The couple honeymooned in Florida before Robert was off to Europe to fight in WW2.

Foster got his moment of fame, being married to one of the foremost models in the country. A touching story about Foster was featruesd in the papers in November 1944 – after not seeing his wife for more than a year, he dozen off during a movie screening on the French-German battle line. When he was awoken by the whistle of a GI, the firts thing he was was Jean’s face, looking down at him (they were watching Cover Girl), and he was sure he was still dreaming! Very sweet!

I have no information about what happened to Foster, but I assume he returned from the war and the couple resumes their apple pie marriage. Jean’s Hollywood career never going off the ground, and she worked in New York from then on. She was very close to fellow model Cecelia Meagher, and Cecilia named her son Robert Foster after Jean’s husband.

She was still an active model in 1953, by the time most of her pees were already married and retired from modeling. She was even featured in a newspaper article in 1950 where she reminisced about the old days, saying how everything was much cheaper in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Jean was a very savvy woman, saving money by making her own facials, buying nylon hair extensions (as opposed to those made out of real hair which are much more expensive), and made her own false eye lashes! To quote Jean on how to make them:

“Just knot short pieces of your own hair on one longer strand, trim them, and curl out and mascara the hairs. Then glue them on the lashed just like any other false eyelashes.”

In 1958, Jean decided to take matters into her own hands:

Babs Ferguson, formerly with Hartford Agency, and Jean Colleran Foster, former model, have formed a new firm, Foster-Ferguson Agency, to provide advertising agencies and film firms with models for commercials. The new firm is at 141 East 44th St., New York. The agency will provide both male and female models, providing screening service before sending models to casting directors.

BettyJaneHess2So, Jean ended up being a successful businessman too! What a lady! One of her most famous protegees was Martha Stewart, who modeled when she was just barely out of her teens); Virginia Booker, Frances Huff (who was romanced by the Maharaja of Baroda), and the list goes on. The agency was still working in the 1960s.

Jean married her second husband, Daniel Lynch, sometime in in the 1960s. The marriage was terminated, either by his death or divorce, in cca early 1970s.

Jan married her third husband, Francis Cruthers, in the late 1970s. Crithers was an interesting man, as his obituary notes:

Hero firefighter Francis Cruthers, who rose through the ranks to become chief of the Fire Department of New York, and later saw his son reach the same position, died yesterday at 73 following a long illness.

Cruthers became chief of department, the highest-ranking uniformed position, in 1978 and remained in that post until his retirement in 1981. His son Frank served as chief in 1996 and 1997 and is now an assistant chief with the department.

The two are the only father and son to serve as chiefs, a department spokesman said.

Following a stint in the army, where he parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, Cruthers joined the department in 1949.

He served in all five boroughs and was cited twice for heroism.

Cruthers was named Bronx borough commander in 1973 and was promoted to head of the Bureau of Fires in 1976. He held that position, now called head of Bureau Operations, until his appointment as chief.

Cruthers is survived by his wife, Jean, four children and 10 grandchildren.

From this link

Jean did not remarry after Cruthers’ death, and lived for a long time in Southampton, New York. Later, she went on to live with her nephew and niece  Joe and Leeanne Healey in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Jean Cruthers died on April 14, 2011 in Florida.

 

Betty Jane Hess

BettyJaneHess

Top New York models/cover girls in the 1940s. They were stunningly beautiful and each had her own unique brand of charm. Yet, just the same, Betty Jane Hess was just one of the many cover girls that tried Hollywood but failed to make grades as actresses.

EARLY LIFE:

Betty Jane Hess was born on February 3, 1921 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to John N. Hess and Jessie W. Stroup. She was the youngest of three children – her older brother was John R. Hess, and her older sister was Mary Louise Hess. Her father worked as a demonstrator and her mother was a housewife. They married just before 1910.

She grew up in Pittsburgh, and attended high school there. She entered modeling quite young, in 1938, when she was barely 17 years old. As most beginners in the field, she competed in man pageants and slowly worked her way from Pittsburgh to New York.

Pretty soon, Betty was one of the highest paid Harry Conover models. She modeled for Chesterfild cigarettes and frequently worked with illustrator. She even scored a Life magazine cover.

Betty hit Broadway and appeared in “Hold on to your hats”, a revue with Al Jolson in the lead. As one of the “ladettes”, she was noticed by a unnamed Hollywood scout and scurried to the West coast to try a career in movies.

CAREER:

BettyJaneHess4Betty’s Hollywood career came out as a very thin one, but hey, at least she has one credit!

Her one and only credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Betty Jane was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Jean Colleran, Ceceilia Meagher (both whom of I hope to profile in this blog), Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

Betty Jane toured extensively with Cover Girl, passing over many a city. It was noted that she refuses the swanky hotel accommodation when they passed Pittsburgh so she could stay with her family (her parents, brother and sister all lived together in 1940).

Yet, Betty chose family over career and gave up movies for good afterwards.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Betty was often seen in the newspapers due to her active social life and stormy love life. On a interesting note, Betty Jane was a passionate lover of ice cream but absolutely hated sea food :-(

BettyJaneHessCoverBetty entered the media worlds in the late 1930s, as a young model in New York. Her first beau was Giuseppe Vittelli, a young Italian actor, who just joined a stage show in September 1940 when they started dating.

By 1941, Betty had moved on to greater plains, and dated Alexis Thompson, a wealthy sportsman famous as a old school, elegeant playboy. IOt was a very toumolous relationship that lasted for severla months, with lots of ups and downs. They broke up, got gether again, broke up again and so on goes the circle. They broke up for good in August 1941 after several months of pushing if forwards/backwards. She was also seen with Tom Cassara, who was known around town for dating showgirls. n Setpember she was allegedly seen with George Hale, the famous showman.

Betty wasted no time in moving on and married Harry Bleich, a Wall Street sugarbroker, at the Little church Around the Corner in October 1941. Harry, born in, was a member of the affluent Illinois Bleich family (his cousin was actress Mary Bovard, profiled on this blog in 2013). Harry was drafted into the Navy in 1942. She got massive publicity when she went on to appear in Cover Girl, and was in the papers almost monthly in 1942 and 1943.

Betty gave birth to a son, John North Bleich,  on May 22, 1945. Her second child, daughter Susan Bleich, was born in August 1946.

BettyJaneHess3Sadly, that marriage hit a rough patch and they were separated by the end of the decade. Quite probably this was one of many “wartime marriages” when women married servicemen they would never have married in a normal circumstances. Most of these marriages failed without a hitch after the end fo the war, but this one was not over… yet.

During her separation from Bleich, Betty Jane dated Sy Devore, the Tailor to the stars, in 1956. In 1959, she was the best gal of Hollywood producer Dick Krakauer.

By early 1960s, the Bleichs were reconciled and lived together until Harry’s death in 1972. In 1974, Betty remarried to Marshall Duffield. Marshall was an very interesting man, today primarily known as a USC all american quarterback. He was born in Salt Lake City in 1911 and moved to Santa Monica with his family in 1914. He graduated with honors from USC and was nominated for a Rhodes scholarship, but, in his own words:

“The Rhodes examination was scheduled for the same day as the final game of our 1930 season and I couldn’t have deserted the team, even if I’d wanted to,” he said years later of abandoning his plum academic chance to study at Oxford University.

“Maybe it would have been better if I had,” he added candidly. “We got beaten 27-0.”

After USC, Duffield dabbled briefly in politics, announcing his candidacy for Santa Monica mayor and Los Angeles Board of Education, and briefly attended law school. He worked as an assistant movie director and in 1933 married a starlet, Dorothy Lee. They divorced two years later.

Duffield next worked for an import-export business and just before World War II founded his Duffield Distributing Co. of Culver City, which handled beverages.

BettyJaneHess2During World War II, Duffield served as commander of the Navy minesweeper Starling, shipping out four weeks after his marriage to Donna Maguire of Los Angeles.

Returning to his business after the war, he expanded from five employees in 1946 to 150 with a sales volume of $10 million in 1957 when he sold the company.

Duffield then moved to Orange County and became president of the Newport Shoreside Co. boating concern, vice president of the Bayside Village trailer park and owner and general manager of the Duffield Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Long Beach.

Betty and Marshall lived peacefully and happily in Orange County until his death in 1990 at the age of 79. Betty never remarried. In her later years shared fun times and travel with Howard Marvin. She generally lived a glamorous life and was well liked by her friends.

Betty’s older son John North Bleich died on January 18, 2001, aged only 56. Sadly, her parents, brother, sister and nephew all preceeded her in death.

Betty Jane Duffield died on March 14, 2008, in California.

 

 

Virginia Huston

Virginia Huston.

Beautiful Virginia played the anti-femme fatale, or the good girl, in several top film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s, and achieved a level of recognition that was not too shabby. Sadly, she left movies to become s a housewife in the early 1950s.

EARLY LIFE:

Virginia Ellen Huston was born on April 24, 1925 in Wisner, Nebraska, to Marcus M. Huston and Agnes Kane. Her father was born in 1897 and married her mother sometime in the late 1910s. In 1920, they were living in Illinois, but moved to Agnes’ native Nebraska in the early 1920s.

The family moved to Omaha, Nebraska not long after her birth. She made her stage debut at the age of 5 in a production of Helen of Troy. Virginia attended a catholic all girls, Duchesne school, and was acting in the drama department. She was just 12 years old when she decided to become an actress (after visiting Los Angeles).

Virginia stuck to her master plan and became a fixture in the Omaha public life. Except appearing in school plays, she was active in the local radio station and even acted in the prestigious Omaha Community playhouse (where Dorothy McGuire and Henry Fonda acted early in their careers).

Her younger brother Randy was born in 1942. In 1945, she decided to go acting full time. She could not decide between going to New York to act on Broadway or to go to Hollywood. In the end, Hollywood and the stories of making  quick buck won out. So, Virginia, her mother and brother were off to California.

They roomed in a small hotel room in Beverly Hills while Virginia made the rounds of movie studios. Due to her resemblance to Joan Fontaine, she was rejected by Darryl Zanuck and almost gave up. Luckily, Charles Feldman, a successful agent, saw her in the  Romanoff nightclub, like what he saw, signed her, and finally nabbed her a contract with RKO studios due to her melodic voice.

CAREER:

VirginiaHuston2Virginia set the prototype of most of her future roles in Nocturne, a decent film noir with George Raft. Lynn Bari was the dark and dangerous femme fatale and Virginia was the blonde good girl. While it’s pretty standard to say Raft was not a great actor, his charm and charisma make him a adequate film noir hero. Virginia’s soft spoken manner was perfectly in tune with the role, and she is one of the better things to remember from the film.

Out of the Past  remains Virginia most durable role and her best known movie. An all around  superb film, with Robert Mitchum in the lead, directed masterfully by Jacques Tournouer, it remains one of the staples of the noir genre. While Virginia was overshadowed by Jane Greer, who was absolutely first class as the femme fatale Kathie Moffat, her career would have been much poorer were it not for this role.

Flamingo Road  is one of the so called carnival movies, with a past-40 Joan Crawford trying to act like she’s a fresh faced, naive dancer. While Crawford’s age does ruin the feeling of the movie a bit, generally it’s a well acted, well made film dealing with some topics highly actual even today.

In a sea of B westerns, The Doolins of Oklahoma stands out as a above notch piece of work. Not only is the cast a very good one, but Zachary Scott as the main character is a study in grey morality – a bank robber who can show kindness and compassion to others.Virginia is the typical decorative good girl.

Women from Headquarters is a woman empowerment movie about female police officers. Like many movies of the genre, it’s no master piece, but solely the theme makes it an interesting watching experience. Virginia, Barbara Fuller and Frances Charles make quite a trio!

VirginiaHuston4While it did not endear her to the large masses like a true hit film, Virginia still struck career gold by playing Jane in one of Lex Barker’s Tarzan movies, namely Tarzan’s Peril . Let’s be realistic, it’s just another entry into the Tarzan series, and thus nothing to call a great film, but it is not a disgrace in her filmography. It’s certainly well made and decently acted, but that is about it. As a plus, actresses who played Jane are something akin to Jame Bond actresses, no matter what they did for the rest of their career, at least they will be featured on every “Actresses who acted in Tarzan movies” list, and, to some degree, remembered.

Virginia marched on. The Highwayman, a moody, dark retelling of the famous Alfred Noyes poem is a movie that many who saw it as children will never forget. It’s got everything  a movie needs: a touching, tragic story, decent actors (I am a sucker for Wanda Henrdix, who plays the female lead!) and a great cinematographer. Flight to Mars is a typical low budget 1950s SF movie. Predictable, with no big names and barely there script, recommended only for the hard core fans of the genre.

tvsinopse333037Sudden Fear is Virginia second best movie, right after Out of the past. A unusual but very good film noir, it’s one of the few noirs that gives precedent to an older woman – Joan Crawford was nearing 50 when she played the role with special gusto (we need more movies like this, with more roles for women past 40 – just when they become great actresses, the roles dry up! Another great movie with a great role for an older woman is White Heat, with Margaret Wycherly whipping up everybody else in the cast!).Virginia, as usual, plays the good girl, and the bad girl is played by Gloria Grahame (who excelled in these types of roles!).

Knock on Wood, a decent Danny Kaye movie, proved to be Virginia’s last hurrah. Too bad. She only made one more appearance on the The Ford Television Theatre TV series, and then settled into comfortable retirement as the wife of a wealthy real estate broker.

 

PRIVATE LIFE:

Virginia was no means a typical starlet. Not only more delicate looking and regal than the typical starlet, she was never in the papers for reasons of private life and so on. When somebody wrote about her, it was because of her career. It was also often noted that her mother and baby brother, Randy, lived with her.

VirginiaHuston3Virginia developed  a crush on the star of Out of the past, the jaded, cynical Robert Mitchum. As anyone who was Mitchum in movies can attest, while not handsome, he had a gritty, powerful charm that was very alluring to women. While he was a married man with three children, that did not stop him from having a devil may care lifestyle, drinking, doing drugs (mostly marijuana) and womanizing. Yet, he swiftly brushed Virginia aside as she was too small a fish to end up on his repertoire, and he was hunting for bigger fish to fry (yep, the man dated some pretty impressive actresses, like Ava Gardner, Jean Simmons and Joan Crawford, all of them more famous than Virginia). Despite this, Virginia was enthralled with Bob until the filming ended, and even some time afterwards.

Little was written about Virginia’s love life in the papers. What we do know is that, on August 12, 1952, Virginia married wealthy real estate agent, Manus Paul Clinton. Clinton was born on June 17, 1923. Their daughter, Pamela Ann, was born on September 3, 1954. Virginia retired from movies and the couple lived in Beverly Hills.

In 1953, Virginia gave an interview to Lydia Lane, the famous beauty columnist, where she made it pretty clear how ill suited she was for the highly hectic Hollywood life. She said how her stomach was often in knots during filming, and she could not eat properly as a result. VirginiaHuston5In order to maintain her strength, she drank a strong beef concentrate with an egg thrown in it. Sometimes, her anxiety would get so intense she would feel she was about to faint. She could reverse the process and not faint by doing a form of self hypnosis, where she would imagine nice things and tell herself calming words. Afterreading this, I was glad that she gave up movies for marriage. She did not seem the type to take the extra wattage needed to become a hard core actress (imagine Bette Davis doing this!). Similarly weak willed actresses, many of the quite talented, often ended up in the gutter (Frances Farmer, Gail Russell), so Virginia’s story is not that bad at all.

Virginia and Manus divorced sometime in the early 1960s.

1966 was a very tough year for Virginia. Her former husband married his second wife, and she gave birth to a long awaited son who bore his father name. Her own father died in September of that year at the age of 69.

Virginia never remarried, and lived the rest of her days in Beverly Hills.

Virginia Clinton died on February 28, 1981, in Santa Monica, California. Her former husband died in 1989.

Diane Cook

DianeCook3

Tall, good looking Diane Cook was a very good dancer and Hollywood utilized that talent – just not the way that warrants anyone fame and fortune, but is a short way into obscurity.

EARLY LIFE:

Maybelle M. Cook was born in 1913 in Valdez, Alaska, to John Cook and Margaret Hardie. Her father was an Englishman, her mother from Washington. Maybelle was the eldest child and only daughter – her younger siblings were all brothers: John, James and William.

The family lived in Valdez in 1930, where Maybelle attended high school. She started dancing pretty early, and decided to make it her career. In 1933, she left Alaska for the West Coast, and started her career in Hollywood in 1934.

CAREER:

Some of the best musicals of the 1930s can be found on Diane’s resumee – sadly, she was a uncredited chorus girl in all of them, one of many who never got noticed. it’s no surprise that she stay in Hollywood for about six years before calling it quits (hey, longer than some, but not nearly enough to be called a true working actress).


DianeCook1Dames i
s just the first of several Busby Berkeley musicals – and a very good one at that, with Berekely’s best cast - Dick Powell; Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell. Kid Millions is one of Eddie Cantor’s best movies, about a simple Brooklyn boys who inherits a large sum of money but must go to Egypt to reclaim it. The superb supporting cast (Ann Sothern, George Murphy, Ethel Merman, Doris Davenport) make this a true delight for any musical fan!

Roberta goes down in history as the first pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, but even without the eternal musical duo, it’s a finely made, entertaining movie.  Irene Dunne is, as always, a grand dame with a great voiceBroadway Melody of 1936 is one of the Broadway Melody series movies, while not the best, it’s not the worst by far. The plot is, as usual with these type of movies, quite thin, but it’s funny enough, and the musical numbers are seamlessly integrated in it. And who doesn’t like Jack Benny? And of course, the young and stunningly handsome Robert Taylor, while not a great actor by any chance, it very nice to look at.

The Great Ziegfeld is The best Picture Oscar winner, so nothing new to note here. Bill Powell is a tour de force in any movie he appears in, and playing the Great Ziegfeld did him no harm! Myrna Loy as his partner is that comes so naturally that it’s weird when they are not in the same movie!  Sing, Baby, Sing is a decent musical pairing off quite an unlikely duo – the angelic, sweet Alice Faye and the funny, sharp Patsy Kelly. And the pairing works great! I wish we had more of these interesting female pairings in movies!

DianeCook5Then, Diane started appearing in Sonja Henie movies. I never tried to hide the fact that I dislike Sonja Henie movies. Sonja, while very cute with her round face and quite a capable skater, was, IMHO, quite  a talent-less actress and mostly made extremely simplistic movies without  a hint of intelligence. Thus, anything I say about One in a Million won’t sound kind, so I’ll just skip it. Thin Ice  gets the very same treatment.

 Man-Proof was finally a non musical movie! While it’s not a very good one, it still veered Diane a bit off her usual fare and branched her into other genres. While the movie boasts a first class cast (Myrna Loy, Rosalind Russell, Franchot Tone, Walter Pidgeon), it’s quite predictable and some moments comes of as highly contrived ones. How to Watch Football is a hilarious, 9 minute Nathaniel Benchley shortHonolulu is what you would call a musical with an completely idiotic plot but with plenty of soul and sass. Robert Young and Eleanor Powell head off the cast of great supporting players (George Burns, Gracie Allen, Rita Johnson, Clarence Kolb, Ruth Hussey - 1930s was a gold mine of SUPERB supporting players!)

Then it was back again to Sonja Henie movies with Second Fiddle - at leas we have Tyrone Power in this one, and one can enjoy the beautiful visage! Another non musical film came in the form of I Take This Woman, a Hedy Lamarr/Spencer Tracy movie. Hedy is a truly unique actress, incredibly beautiful and immensely talented, but one has to pass several checkpoints to actually understand both her talent and her appeal. It took me literary years to finally see her in a true light – I tough of her as a beauty with a big ego and no talent before this. Tracy, as any classic movies fan knows, is one of the best actors that ever lived. The film did not utilize neither him or her very well and is a type of movie you watch and forget 2 hours after it ends. Still, I enjoyed seeing the soft spoken, ethereal Laraine Day in it!

Like many of her contemporaries, Diane left movies for marriage in 1940.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Diane had had a surprisingly small newspaper coverage. She was never mentioned as a solo starlet, but mostly in the context of a larger group of starlets. Not that much information was given about her as a result and there is not much to write on :-(

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Diane married her first husband, Henry Frederick Shilling, in May 1935. Schilling was born in 1905, making him 8 years older than Dioane. The marriage was very brief, and ended in 1936.

Diane married her second husband, Fred Fredericks, a well known hair stylist working for Max Factor, in October 1939. Fredericks was born in 1907 in New York. At some point he moved to the West Coast and was very well paid for his job.

They had two children, a son, Jerry Louis Fredericks, born on January 26, 1940, and a daughter, Diane Katherine Fredericks, born on March 22, 1945.  Fredericks died in 1984.

I have no idea what happened to Diane afterwards, or indeed if she is dead or alive today, but, as always, I hope she had a good, happy life.