Beautiful New York model, Sunny Vickers was a perfect girl next door type which was so popular in Hollywood in the 1940s. Fresh faced, nice, and with a healthy dose of , alas she came to Hollywood when the demand for such types was slowly waning, and her career, despite a promising start, never belted out. She got married very quickly and left movies. Sadly, her story does not end in a happy tone. Let’s find out more about her.
Beverly Jane Vickers was born on December 24, 1928, in Alleghey, Pennsylvania, to Edwin Vickers and Pauline Barrie. Her older sister was Barrie Claudine, born in 1927. Hr father worked as a clerk in an electric company. She was nicknamed Sunny from early childhood, due to her sunny disposition.
Her parents separated when Beverly was just a baby, and she and her sister went to live with Pauline in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Beverly grew up there and attended elementary and high school. Due to her beautiful visage, Sunny became known as a true Pittsburgh pretty, and after graduating from high school, started modeling in New York. Soon she was caught by the showbiz bug, and wanted to become an actress.
Except modeling, Sunny became a hatcheck girl at Ciro’s, a famous joint for the wealthy and famous. It seems she really wanted a career in showbiz, and being so close to the altar seemed a good idea. In 1949, Sunny moved to Miami and became a concessionaire at the Famous Door club, and later joining up with the Winnie Hoveler line in Jacksonville.
After her little Floria sojourn, she was back in New York, and this time some luck stuck. After a talent scout saw her, she was given a term contract by Columbia Pictures, and in a very unusual fashion. While Sunny previous professional acting experience, she was signed as the result of a screen test which was allegedly really grand. She studied for several weeks with drama Coach Benno Schneider before being given her first assignment, and of the went!
Sunny made five movies in 1951, and that was her whole movie output. Four of those were uncredited, and one was a low budget western (insert a gasp emoji here!).
Sunny’s first movie was Gasoline Alley, a light but nice comedy about two brothers that go into the restaurant business, and it follows their daily family life. Originally a comic, this seems to be one of those old Hollywood charming comedies that are rarely, if ever, made today, with a sweet juvenile cast – Scotty Beckett, Jimmy Lyndon, Susan Morrow and so on. Sunny met her future husband while making the movie, so this ended up a very important one for her life in general.
Her second movie was A Yank in Korea, where Sunny actually plays an important, although minimal screen time character. Sadly, this is a dry, uninteresting propaganda movie that shows to its dedicated viewers that the US had to send troops to Korea, to save the world from the communists! Of course, it’s terribly outdated and boring today… Everything is black and white and not thrilling in the least. Lon McAllister plays the all American boy that ends up a soldier… Sunny plays the girl that is his primary reason for enlistment (to impress her, you see). She appears only in a few brief scenes, but hey, it was something!
Guess what? Kay then appeared in… A low budget western! Durango Kid is the main character, and the story… Who knows or who cares? Ridin’ the Outlaw Trail is the movie. Okay, I know I’m a bit severe,but as anyone knows, I don’t really like western as a genre and the low budget variety just exacerbates all the reasons I don’t like it at all…
Never Trust a Gambler is a crime movie, a mediocre one, with nothing special to recommend it, but still well made and sturdy and worth watching is one likes the genre. Dane Clark plays a gambler on the run from the police for murder, and Cathy O’Donnell is his wife. What tick little ticker lacks in a true noir atmosphere to make it a minor classic.
Sunny’s last movie was Saturday’s Hero, a somehow 50-style jaded view on college football. Ye, even back then it was a racket and young men destroyed their bodies to make it in the savage sports world. When I say 50s style I mean it- while it does pack a heavy punch and doesn’t shy away from showing the dark side of sports, it’s still a 50s production, still somehow unrealistic and not wholly without a Hollywood sheen. Hard to describe but I think anyone who has watched 50s movies knows the feel. John Derek, a pretty boy who never became a top star, mostly due to his somewhat wooden acting style, plays the athlete, and Donna Reed is his wealthy paramour. However, there are treats to be found – winning turns by veteran actors Sidney Blackmer (fabulous as Derek’s ruthless benefactor), and Alexander Knox, a top notch character actor, playing a literature teacher. Watch for them, if nothing else.
That was it from Sunny!
When Sunny came to Hollywood in 1950, Scott Brady was showing her the town, but he was busy with a lot of other dates so it didn’t grow into anything permanent. In cca September 1950, Sunny started dating Scotty Beckett, former child star who had a bit of a touch time transitioning to adult roles. Things progressed very fast, and Sunny became pregnant in early 1951. Marriage was imminent now – they wed in Phoenix, Arizona on June 27, 1951 and their son, Scotty Jr., was born Nov. 6, 1951 in Los Angeles.
Scotty was born on October 4, 1929, in Oakland, California, to Ralph Beckett and Ruth Slavan. His older brother James was born in 1919. He was a natural for performing, and was noted by a scout when he was entertaining his father and other patient in a local hospital. Sadly, his father died in 1933, and Scotty, to help the family budget, started a successful juvenile movie career. Hal Roach signed him up for his “Our Gang” series in 1934. He appeared in 15 “Our Gang” shorts, including “Hi Neighbor!”, “Mike Fright”, “The Lucky Corner”, and “Mama’s Little Pirate”. Beckett left Roach in 1935 to do features for the major studios, among them “Dante’s Inferno” (1935), “Anthony Adverse” (1936), “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1936), “Conquest” (1937), “Marie Antoinette” (1938), “King’s Row” (1942), and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” (1944). The pinnacle of his career was playing young Al Jolson in “The Jolson Story” (1946). Already on cusp of manhood by then, Scotty could not quite find a niche for him in Hollywood by the 1950s. He was married once before, to a tennis pro, Bevely Baker, but they divorced within a year.
Sunny gave up her career to devote to her new family. Sadly, the marriage turned sour pretty soon. Scotty was a volatile personality, prone to mis-mashes with the law. While he was young, his extensive experience with Hollywood made him jaded beyond his years, and much more jaded than Sunny. Living with him was probably very difficult, especially for a sanguine, happy-go-lucky girl like Sunny. Also, Scotty liked to pop pills and drink. Sunny picked up the trait, and began drinking to cope with the challenging home situation.
Scotty was relatively sedate for the first few years of the marriage, enjoying fatherhood, but his career continued to wane and so did his mental health. Beckett was arrested in 1954 on a bad check charge and three years’ probation imposed the same year for carrying a concealed weapon. Sunny’s alcoholism worsened, and she was treated by a string of doctors in California.
Things only went from bad to worse. Scotty was (again) arrested Feb. 11, 1957, at the U. S. -Mexico border crossing near San Diego on suspicion of possessing dangerous drugs. He told officers he was a student at the University of Southern California end had bought the stimulant pills for his wife in Mexico on a Mexican doctor’s prescription. The authorities imprisoned him and Sunny for four months without a trial.
This totally busted their shaky marriage, and they separated and as soon as she could, Sunny filed for divorce and seeker custody of their son. The divorce drama had just started – during the proceedings, Sunny was put into a state hospital by her family, in a try to treat her alcoholism, but she left the facility by her own accord before the treatment was done. Scotty found out and tried to get custody:
Permanent custody of his 5-year-old son is demanded by Scotty Beckett, 28, former film ‘actor, in a cross- complaint for divorce which charges that his wife, sunny Vickers, 29, one-time screen actress, is now an escapee from a State hospital. Beckett asked that his wife’s rights to visit the child, Scott Jr., be limited to times when she is not under the influence of liquor. Shortly after the wife filed the original suit under her legal name of Beverly Beckett last Aug. 12 she was given temporary custody of her son and Beckett was ordered to con tribute $50 a month toward the child’s support But Beckett informed the court in the cross-suit that the boy is now with him
What a sad story… Unfortunately, it was not over. Scotty ended up in the hospital on September 20, 19158, from an overdose of barbiturates. In 1959 he was caught drunk driving, and in 1964 he was jailed after hitting his stepdaughter on her head with a crutch. A very troubled man, he died on May 10, 1968 from an alleged barbiturate overdose, but legend has it he was beat up so bad he died from the aftereffects.
Little is known about Sunny’s life after their divorce. It seems that she married once more, to a Mr. Williams, but they were divorced in the mid 1960s. Sadly, Sun’y alcoholism continued to run rampart, and before long, it was too late for her.
Sunny Vickers, died on November 27, 1968, (just months after Scotty died) in Los Angeles. One can only imagine how difficult it was for Scotty Jr., to lose both of his parents so close in time-frame and at such young ages. I hope he recuperated and went on to have a healthy and happy life.