Maxine Jennings was a haute couture model that achieved a varied career in a variety of professions. While her movie career might be a little slim, she did appear in 40 movies and later successfully worked in radio, the stage. She then married rich, but that was not the end! She went into totally other venues, like yard sales and writing cookbooks! Let’s learn more about her!
Maxine Leah Jennings was born on March 9, 1909 in Portland, Oregon, to Phillip Bliss Jennings and Hannah Mai Henderson. She was the youngest of four children – her older siblings were Louise Bliss (born in 1900), Don R. (born in 1906) and Jack (born in 1908). Her father was a medical doctor who had his own practice in Portland.
Maxine Jennings, also a promising member of the group, started her career by winning several swimming and diving championships in Portland. In 1923 she made her theatrical debut in the local production of Showboat. A few years later, in 1926, Maxine won a beauty contest in her native Oregon, following which she was second to “Miss America” at the annual Atlantic City contest. She made her first foray into Hollywood about this time, but it was unsuccessful, and she returned to New York to become a model. Then she went to Paris and became a haute couture model. In Paris she worked for prestigious fashion houses like Jean Patou, and became a household name.
Her beauty and poise won her recognition in Hollywood, and she was engaged her as a training instructor for girls in the picture, “Roberta“, and not long after she was cast for a part in the same musical.” From that assignment she went on to parts in pictures, a starlet with a future and a motion- picture contract followed.
Maxine made quite a bit of movies (40) unlike most of the actresses I profile, so I won’t bother with it, it’s just too much movie to write about and her bio is big even without the extensive filmography. But she had some good movies in it, and was even credited! Worth checking out for sure!
Since Maxine was a fashion model, she had intimate knowledge of haute couture, and her knowledge was well regarded in Hollywood, as this article can attest:
Maxine Jennings, the girl who leads carefully chosen mannequins in the lavish fashion show in the film, was once a model for the house of Patou, and gave the producers valid pointers on the details of the great couturiers’ do their fashion. The designer was obliged to order certain beautiful garments directly from France because the ones available for sale this season had already been used in last season’s smart clothes. These materials were woven to order and then sent to Hollywood, Six pieces were purchased, ranging in price from $12 to $5 a yard, and to secure them the whole bolt of 33 yards had to be ordered.
She also gave a beauty hint for freckles:
Maxine Jennings, RKO Radio starlet, considers buttermilk the best remover of freckles. She says a weekly application of this liquid will keep the skin clear and white even if freckles don’t have the habit of popping out here and there
And another for party food:
For a hearty and delicious Sun day night snack, Maxine Jennings places half an avocado on each plate and fills the hollow with scrambled eggs in which canned button mushrooms have been stirred.
Maxine married her first husband, Steven K. McNulty, on January 13, 1930, in Clark, Washington. Little is known about McNulty, except that he was born cca. 1902. What exactly happened remains a mystery, but the marriage was effectively over by the time Maxine went to Hollywood in 1935, and Mr. McNulty was history!
Then came time for some fun! Maxine made newspaper headlines when, Following a courtship of less than a fortnight, she was betrothed to Tony Browne, who was on a furlough from India where he served with His Majesty’s Bengal Lancers. The pair first left for Washington to visit Maxine’s parents, with the promise that the wedding date will be set upon their return to Hollywood.
As soon as they returned to Hollywood, pre-nuptial parties began to dot the social calendar of the younger cinema social set. And how! Browne was a scion of a socially prominent family of London had spent many years In India. Their wedding was to be solemnized in the fall, without a fixed date by then.
Maxine and Tony left for Europe that summer, having a time of it on the concessions at Venice. However, something happened on the trip, and by July they were bust. Both went on to date other people right of the bat.
And Maxine sure didn’t’ waste any time! Two months after breaking up an engagement, she married another man! The lucky man: Rudolf Ising, time and date: Las Vegas on September 26, 1936. Rudolf Carl Ising was born on August 7, 1903, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Henry and Mary Ising, the youngest of four children. He was a famous cartoonist and co-owner of the Harman-Ising animated cartoons. Here is a great summary of his career on the New York Times obituary:
Mr. Ising was working at a photograph-finishing laboratory when he was hired by Mr. Disney, who advertised in a local newspaper for a cartoonist when he was starting out in the early 1920’s in Kansas City, Mo. Mr. Ising helped to ink the drawings in the first animated Disney films, the “Newton Laugh-o-Grams.”
The operation moved to California, and Mr. Ising followed. But soon he and another Disney employee, Hugh Harman, broke away to create their own cartoons. Synchronizing Dialogue and Action
Their initial production, “Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid,” in 1929, was a breakthrough as the first talkie cartoon, synchronizing dialogue on the soundtrack with the action on screen. Disney’s earlier “Steamboat Willie” had music and sound effects but no dialogue.
The Bosko cartoon was also notable for its sign off, “That’s all, folks,” which became Porky Pig’s stammered trademark.
In 1930, the two men were hired by Warner Brothers, for which they devised the “Looney Tunes” label, a takeoff on Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” series.
In 1934, they joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where they created Barney Bear, the ancestor of Yogi Bear. The inspiration for the lethargic Barney came from Mr. Ising’s habit of dozing off in staff meetings.
While Mr. Harman specialized in “Looney Tunes,” Mr. Ising developed “Merrie Melodies,” which emphasized the musical element. His strength was in writing and producing rather than illustrating.
Both cartoon series became staples of the nation’s movie-theater programs. Winning an Academy Award
In 1940, Mr. Ising’s “Milky Way,” a cartoon about three kittens, won an Academy Award, the first non-Disney cartoon to capture an Oscar. Mr. Ising was also honored in 1976 by the International Animation Society.
Interesting man, very important for the golden age of cartoons. Sadly, he and Maxine didn’t’ click long term, and they were divorced in 1940. He married actress Cynthia Westlake, had a son, Rudolf Jr., and died on July 18, 1992.
Maxine then married Edward Byron, owner, producer and director of radio shows, on June 18, 1940 (overlap in beaus? Don’t know but the facts speak for themselves). In “Mr. District Attorney,” “Pot of Gold” and “What’s My Name?” Edward Armour Byron was born on October 20, 1905, in Newport, Kentucky, to Armour and Cecelia Byron. Living in Ohio, Kentucky and New York, he was in the radio trade for a long time, since the 1920s. He was married once before to Gertrude Dooley, in 1931, but they divorced a couple of years later.
By this time Maxine gave up on movies and switched to radio, playing the leading feminine roles in her husband’s shows. Then, for a year and a half she was in the Ziegfeld Follies and New York stage and for a short time she was again a photographers’ model. She and Byron divorced in about 1944.
Maxine met her next husband, Philip Saltonstall, in 1945. He’d been married twice, too, and was awaiting a decree in Las Vegas, Nev., when she went there as a witness in the divorce case of a friend, Sheila Darcy. The chance meeting led quickly to romance. Philip Saltonstail, a first cousin of United States Senator Leverett Saltonstall, a world traveler and a agent in Europe of the Motion Picture Association of America, received his divorce decree in October, 1945. In February, 1946, he and Maxine were married in Mexico, and a few weeks later went through another marriage ceremony in Los Angeles. Saltonstall, a Harvard graduate and a noted polo player of his time, was a former member of a New York Stock Exchange firm. His first marriage to Katheryn E. Lapharn, a Boston society belle, united two of Massachusetts’ wealthiest families, her father heading a steamship line and a brokerage house. Three children were born to them and the marriage lasted from 1921 to 1933. A year later, Saltonstall’s mother announced his second marriage. In London he had married Paula Ponce de Leon. This was the marriage that was ending when Saltonstall and Maxine met in Las Vegas.
Their marriage was very stormy, with the birth of their daughter Lee Bliss, on March 23, 1947, was a very joyous moment for the couple. However, it didn’t help matters long-term, and by 1948 they were in the divorce court. Here is an article from that time:
SOMETIMES it seems to the friends of piquant, dark-haired Maxine Jennings, who twice was named Miss Portland (Ore.), that they never will be able to guess what role, on stage or in a real life drama, she will choose next. Every time they say, “That’s fine, now she has a new husband,” or “That’s wonderful, she’s out of pictures and in radio,” she isn’t. She’s already briskly beginning a new phase. Three husbands, a future as a model, a career in ‘Hollywood, a period in radio, a chance on the New York stage–these are in her past. Now she has a new role. It is a delicate one. If ever she needed finesse, she does now.
In Reno, she recently divorced her latest husband, Philip Leverett Saltonstall, of the Massachusetts clan, and five days later he remarried. But she is determined to bring up their daughter in the certainty that her father is above reproach. She charged mental cruelty but only “mild” cruelty instead of the customary “extreme” and she is going to prove to little Lee Bliss Saltonstall that her divorced father is as fine a Saltonstall as any of the highest of appraisals. “I know this will take some doing,” she said a little while ago. “Explaining to your daughter that you divorced her father, and yet that her father’s all right, it won’t be easy.” She won’t shirk it, she said. “I’m going to teach the baby that he’s one of the finest and grandest of men,” she said. “She’s going to think of her daddy as tops.” Maxine, herself, appears to have no trouble in thinking of Mr. Salton-stall in this favorable light. She found the climax of her divorce proceedings by no means unhappy. Emerging from the Court House, decree in hand, she was asked whether she got what she wanted. “Yes, right on the nose,” she said. “Money, that is.” Fancy free again, she’s resuming her Hollywood career now, with a contract to appear in Westerns. Her beauty and poise won recognition in Hollywood, and all engaged her as a training instructor for girls in the picture, “Roberta.” From that assignment she went on to parts in pictures, a starlet with a future. From pictures she turned to radio.
While Maxine was in Reno, waiting to obtain her divorce, she was a devoted mother. “Fishing and riding and caring for my baby, that’s what I do,” she said. Questioned about the possibility of a fourth marriage, she answered quickly. “I’d better not say,” she said. “I don’t want any more complications, and there’s no one in sight for the immediate future.” “How about the distant future?” she was asked, “It will certainly be some one, if it does happen, who’ll be good to my child,” she answered. “That’ll be my main object from now on.”
But the drama had only begun! First there were some money squabbles:
Actress Maxine Jennings, 35, today sought to have the Nevada divorce of her former husband, sportsman Philip Leverett Saltonstall. set aside so she can get a California decree. Saltonstall, 51, a cousin of Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, has since married Mrs. Beatrice Fenton Merrill, 44, of Pasadena,. Calif. He received a Nevada decree in 1947 and at that time Miss Jennings accepted a $20,000 cash settlement and $150 a month support for their daughter. Lee, 2. Miss Jennings said in her petition filed in Superior Court yesterday that she was coerced into permitting Saltonstall to get the uncontested divorce by threats of harm and that he would cut her off without a penny.
More of the same:
Mrs. Maxlne Saltonstall, 35, former actress, went to court to upset a financial settlement with her former husband. Philip ‘Leverett Saltonstall, 51, Massachusetts sportsman. Mrs. Saltonstall, the former Maxine Jennings, was ready to tell her story in Superior Judge William R. McKay’s court but Saltonstall’s attorneys interposed a demurrer, contending that her suit did not meet .legal requirements. Objects to Settlement The one-time actress contended that she wa3 in ill health and under complete domination of her then husband when she signed the settlement in which she accepted $20,000 In lieu of alimony and $150 a month for support of her daughter, Lee Bliss, now 2. Mrs. Saltonstall also asks now for a California divorce, asserting that the decree she obtained in Reno, Nev., July 21, was invalid. She sued through Atty. Isidore Lindenbaum. Saltonstall’s lawyers maintain that the settlement was fair and that Mrs. Saltonstall had independent legal advice when she signed it. They asked that the court throw her suit out without requiring testimony.
Maxine went on to date a new beau, Frank Clark, who won a chest-ful of medals during the war. In the late 1940s, Maxine decided to change habitats, and moved to Mexico City for a few years, effectively separating her daughter from her father. This caused major friction between the former couple, and in the end escalated to this, in 1957:
A five day jail sentence Was given to sportsman Philip Leverett Saltonstall of La Jolla, Calif., today for flagrant and continuing contempt of court in refusing to relinquish custody of his 10-year-old daughter to her mother. His divorced wife, actress Maxine Jennings Saltonstall wept as she hurried into, the chambers of Superior Court Judge Wallace L. Ware. Since October, when the child was ordered returned to Mrs. Saltonstall, there have been writs, continuances and other delays. Her lawyer, E. Loyd Saunders, told Judge Ware that Saltonstall, a cousin of Sen Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass) , has used every legal trick that money can buy to thwart the court order. . Judge Ware commented: Hi knowledge and ability to comply with the order constituted a specific, flagrant contempt. This was Just another way of making’ Jest’ of justice. f , Led away by a sheriff deputy, Saltonstall said through his attorney that he would appeal the sentence. Mrs. Saltonstad had custody of her daughter from the time of the divorce in 1947 until last summer, when she returned from Mexico City and asked for an increase in support payments. Saltonstall, resisting her petition, said he objected to his daughter having lived in Mexico for six years, and obtained a temporary order giving him custody.
And the result:
A five-day Jail sentence was given’ to ‘ sportsman Philip Lev ere tt Saltonstall of La JoLIa, Calif., yesterday for “flagrant and continuing contempt of court” in refusing to relinquish custody of his 10-year -old daughter to her mother. His divorced wife, actress Maxine Jennings Saltonstall has been trying for 10 months to obtain custody of the girl. Since last October, when the child was ordered returned to Mrs. SattanstalL there have been stays of execution, appeals, writs, continuances and other delays. Her lawyer, E. Loyd Saunders, told a superior judge that Saltonstall, a cousin of Senator Leverett Saltonstall (Rep), Massachusetts, has used “every legal trick that money can buy” to thwart the court order. Saltonstall said he would appeal from the sentence
This can be a very serious matter or just inflated drama, I can’t know for certain. But the tendency of rich white males to casually flaunt their power and abuse it, harming their former wives or other people, is a gross injustice, and is happening right now. I hope that Maxine wasn’t in it just for the money and that she managed to somehow get a happy ending with this whole sad situation and that her daughter was also okay.
Maxine was long over Hollywood by this time, and it was time to try out other venues. So, Maxine became a cookbook author in the 1960s. Some of her books were: First you take a leek, Dining in Hawaii, Ova easy: egg recipes you’ll flip over. She was also active in the furniture scavengering business in Florida and hosted many yard sales in Palm Beach.
Sometime in the late 1950s Maxine moved to Hawaii and lived there for quite a long time. She remarried on January 5, 1982 to Paul Dwinel Hersey. Hersey was born in Nebraska on August 27, 1911 to Dexter and Isabel Hersey. He was married Phyllis Marie Loudon in 1940 and they had one child. The Herseys returned to California in the late that same year, but unfortunately divorced in 1984. Maxine continued living in California from then on. Paul Hersey passed away on June 15, 1998 in Marin County, California, USA.
Maxine Leah Saltonstall died on January 11, 1991 in Riverside, California.