Madelyn Darrow

Madelyn Darrow was as cute as a button, with a sunny smile, perfectly coiffed hair, knock-out figure. Al of this combined with an innocent girl-next-door charm made Madelyn a wonderful representation of the 1950s dream girl. The youngest of the three stunning Darrow sisters (Alice, Barbara and Madelyn), all of whom were successful models (and Barbara even a semi successful actress), Madelyn had much going her way, from a supportive family, connection in the showbiz world and natural beauty, but it seems that her heart was always more in rising a family so her movie career is slim indeed. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Madelyn C. Wittlinger was born on February 21, 1935, in Hollywood, California, to George H. Wittlinger and Alice Alexandria Simpson. She was the youngest of three siblings – her older sisterss were Alice Emeline, born on November 29, 1929, and Barbara, born on November 18, 1931. Her father was a motion picture landscape artist, and her mother a former silent screen actress. Her uncle was actor turned agent, John Darrow.

Since Madelyn was from a showbiz family and born and bred in the heart of movie-land, it’s no wonder that she could not remember any time in her life she didn’t want to be an actress. Also, her older sister Barbara went into movies pretty early (leaving high school to sign a contract), under the moniker of Barbara Darrow, a surname which Madelyn would adopt one day too.

Madelyn effortlessly stepped into the modeling field as soon as she graduated from Hollywood High school. She appeared on the covers of Life, Colliers, Pageant and the Ladies Home Journal among others. This opened her the gate to Hollywood!

CAREER

Slim pickings here! Only three movies and a few minor TV appearances 😩 So, let’s start! Madelyn’s first movie was Guys and Dolls, the classical musical brought on the screen by Joe Mankiewicz and headed by Frank Sinatra,. Jean Simmons, Vivian Blaine and Marlon Brando. Yep, the Marlon Brando, never known for his singing voice but a man with such intense and strong charisma you don’t actually care. This is a great classical musical, with everything going for it – great music, top notch dancing and a enormously talented acting cadre.

Her second movie was The Ten Commandments. Who doesn’t love this movie! It has all the hallmarks of DeMille’s best of the best – larger than life story, first class actors and absolutely lavish sets and costumes. Truly, DeMille had that magical touch and it’s hard to define what he did, but the fact is, he did ti with style and gust deluxe.

Madelyn’s last movie was The Garment Jungle. It’s the least known of the movies she made, but still when you have Mankiewicz and DeMille as your competition, you can be very, very good and still be neglected and overlooked. Actually, this is a solidly made and sharply observed movie about trade unions and factory owners and their dirty tricks and fights. There is a particularly strong cast with Lee J. Cobb in the lead and Robert Loggia, Richard Boone, Wesley Addy and Joseph Wiseman in supporting roles. Gia Scala and Valerie French are okay but not really great in their roles.

That was all from Madelyn!

PRIVATE LIFE

Madelyn’s claim to fame was being the 1958 Rheingold Girl. We have to look back and see just how popular that brand of beer was and just how big of a deal the Rheingold girl was, much like the Miss Universe pageantry was in the 1990s. After winning the title, Madelyn enjoyed a year of glamour and endless photo shoots. As she later told the papers:

“My prize was $50,000,” says Madelyn Darrow, who felt like a billionaire. “They paid for my apartment on Sutton Place. I had a limousine at my disposal. I was so young. I thought that was how all New Yorkers lived.”

Madelyn was described as the outdoor type. She liked tennis, golf and swimming. She told the papers that some day she hopes to marry, but the man she marries will have to be sincere, humble and have a sense of humor.  When asked if it is a bad thing to show some intelligence to a man, Madelyn answered:

Absolutely not. I think it’s wonderful to show any intelligence or knowledge. I think you can overdo anything, however.

And now for her love life! In 1953, a Life magazine article paired her with a local life guard, the very wholesome and handsome Bill Abell, but I can’t tel is it was a newspaper stunt or the real deal, but anyway they didn’t’ last. In 1955, Madelyn was pretty serious about Robert Dix, son of the late Richard Dix. Bob liked pretty girls, and Madelyn was just his type – dark-haired, cute as a button and fresh as a rose. However, they broke up before the year was out. Bob married another beautiful starlet, Janet Lake, in 1956.

Madelyn started 1957 by dating Ronnie Knox, and was later seen around town with oilman Stuart Cramer III (who married Jean Peters and Terry Moore). At some point, she dated arranger Buddy Bregman.  Druing their courtship, there was a tense moment in the Moulin Rouge club when Buddy’s estranged wife Gloria Haley and her date for the night, Jeffrey Hunter, were seated at the same table where Buddy and his date, Madelyn also were slated to sit. Gloria and Jeffrey tactfully shifted to another spot.

But those were fleeting romances. A more permanent beau was Marty Kimmell, the handsome, well-connected, young and wealthy New Yorker who was wed to Gloria DeHaven for a brief time. In the beginning of their relationship, Marty played the field heavily, dating singers Eileen Barton and Jill Corey, and starlet Trudy Wroe. Madelyn herself was seen around town with James Morrow and even dated Ted Kennedy from time to time.

Things changed her Madelyn went to New York for the “Miss Rheingold” contest, and she and Marty became a solid duet while on his home turf. They dated for most of her Miss Rheingold tenure and there were rumors they might even wed someday. For unknown reasons, they broke up in late 1958 or early 1959, but despite this bittersweet ending it seems that it was a really nice and romantic relationship.

In 1959 Madelyn dated Gary Crosby before hooking up with tennis champ Pancho Gonzalez. They met at a tennis club, he gave her lessons and, ultimately, married her! Okay, things didn’t go that smoothly as Pancho was still married at the time, just separated from his wife, Henrietta, his high school lady love, and father of three boys. In September 1959, after a intense relationship of a few months, Pancho went on a tour (which greatly saddened Madelyn, as the papers wrote), and after he came back in 1960, the dice was thrown – it was marriage for Madelyn and Pancho. First he divorced Henrietta – she testified at their divorce hearing that Pancho had telephoned her from New York and told her he wouldn’t return to her after completing the tour. After the divorce was made final, he wed Madelyn in 1958 and they honeymooned in Honolulu. Their twin daughter, Marissa and Christina, were born on April 13, 1961.

Pancho led a peripatetic existence during the early stages of the marriage, traveling from one tournament to the other. Things changed after Madelyn gave birth to the twins. Madelyn had the measles and is being isolated from them. Judging his life style too hectic for a normal, stable family life, Pancho decided to retire, at least for a while, and try and live in one place. The couple’s third daughter, Shauwnna, was born on October 4,  1963. The couple divorced in 1968, remarried in 1970 and divorced in 1971.

Now something about Pancho. He was born Richard Alonzo Gonzales in Los Angeles, on May 9, 1928, one of seven children. He was a self taught player who became one of the tops, a rare occurrence in any sports field but tennis especially.

Here is a very good, concise article about Pancho, taken from Sports JRank web site:

Irascible and prone to raging against his opponents and umpires, Gonzales was nonetheless popular among tennis audiences, and he always drew a crowd. As the reigning champion, he trounced Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, and many others. Yet he was unhappy with his touring contracts, which always offered more money to the challenging player than to him, the reigning champion. Gonzales also faced marital troubles; he and Henrietta divorced in 1958. Soon after, he married Madelyn Darrow, with whom he had three daughters.

Gonzales prevailed in the round-robin tours until his contract expired in 1961. After briefly retiring, he returned to lose a humiliating first-round match at the U.S. Professional Grass Court Championships. For the next several years he turned his attention to coaching tennis, leading the U.S. Davis Cup team to the finals against Australia in 1963, and tutoring young American players, including Arthur Ashe.

When tennis “opened” in 1968, allowing amateurs to compete with professional players, 40-year-old Gonzales, no longer in the peak of his career, returned to play the major championships. A presence at all the major tournaments that year, he made a good showing but did not win a title. In what was perhaps his last moment in the spotlight, Gonzales won a grueling 112-game match against a player half his age, Charles Pasarell, in the first round of the 1969 Wimbledon tournament. The score stood at 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 after the five-hour and twelve-minute match—the longest in Wimbledon history. Gonzales continued playing well into his forties, becoming the oldest man to win a tournament, in Iowa, in 1972. He retired two years later, at age 46, and played senior events until the mid-1980s

After he retired Gonzales joined Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas as a professional coach—a job that he loved, and would keep for nearly two decades. He and Madelyn had married and divorced twice, ending the relationship for good in 1980; between his two marriages to her, he had three others. His sixth and final marriage was to Rita Agassi, sister of the U.S. tennis star Andre Agassi; the couple had a son, Skylar.

We can gather from this information that he was a passionate, driven, fiery individual and probably not the easiest man to live with. Tennis was his first and foremost love, and he had a strong devotion to his children and the large Gonzalez family – it seems his wives were always somewhere down the ladder and many people noted he didn’t treat them quite nicely.  Altough, in public, Madelyn spoke highly of her husband (she often talked how they played tennis together – “Richard is still very sweet about tennis, He’ll play with me anytime I want—real tennis, too, not just hitting the ball.”), who knows what was happening behind the scenes. Actress Diane McBain got involved with Pancho in the late 1960s while he and Madelyn were still married, but in a strange and complicated separation process, and wrote in her autobiography that Madelyn had never taken to Panchos’s side of the family and was not too enthusiastic to spend time with them. Could this be the focal friction point that pushed the couple from marriage, divorce, marriage again and divorce again? it also seems that Madelyn preferred that Gonzalez pursue business opportunities rather than tennis, and we all know that tennis was the number one star in his life.

Overall, we can assume they were very much in love at one point, but they were ultimately incompatible and divorced for good in 1971. Madelyn stayed in California, living a quiet family life with her daughters, and rarely appeared in the papers. Sadly, her youngest daughter Shauwnna died at age twelve in a horseback riding accident.

Madelyn is still alive today and lives in California. As always, I hope she had a happy life!

Fay Morley (Lisa Carroll)

I already  noted a few times in this blog that, after writing about than 200 obscure actresses, I am not that easily impressed. However, Fay Morley really blew me of. What an incredible woman with an incredible life! Singer, songwriter, actress, all around entertainer, toy designer, educator, and the list goes on! Let’s learn more about this unusual, stunning lady!

EARLY LIFE

Fay Blossom Mogul was born in 1930 in Bismarck, North Dakota, to Freda Suzar and Manuel Mogul. Her older brother Marlowe Arnold was born in 1926 in Minnesota. Her father was a department store manager and the family was well off, employing a maid at the time of Fay’s birth.

Fay grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was determined to come an actress very early, and by her teens years was taking part in acting and singing competitions. She was supported by her parents who were also showbiz aficionados – her dad was an amateur singer and her mom wanted to become an actress when she was younger.

The family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in the late 1930s, and a few years later to Compton, California, where her father became the owner of a cigar stand. Fay attended Compton High School, and during that time won a singing scholarship and went to New York where she studied with vocal coach Madame Olsa Eisner.

Fay wanted to pursue a career in opera singing, but first she entered UCLA as a music and drama major. She took part in numerous theater shows and slowly but surely gained experience. Ultimately, she never finished her degree because she got an offer to be in pictures and got a gig in the Pasadena playhouse. And this is how her movie career started!

CAREER

Fay appeared in only a few movies and some TV shows, as her main body of work was singing, her acting career was quite slim. her first movie was River of No Return, where she played a dance girl. The movie is considered a classic today and features a very interesting pairing – Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, and they somehow work. Mitchum was the gritty, no pretense and superficiality, hard-as-nails tough guy, and Marilyn was his in many things his antithesis – she was all blonde hair, excessive publicity pomp and careful, very conscious grooming. However, her innate sexiness and indescribable depth rub well of his minimalist, slightly brutal style. Sadly this is not a particularly good movie, with a lackluster story and only mediocre directing by Otto Preminger.

Her next movie was Battle Cry, a solid but sadly forgotten war film about US marines but told from a highly realistic perspective of life outside the battle-zone. The beginning and middle of the film deal with training, every day life, social norms and shipping of the marines to New Zealand. The last third shows us some action, but this mis-mash of genres only works half well, since most people who prefer drama will not be engaged in this part and anyone after a action war movie will never make it this far. Kudos to Van Helfin, always excellent in his roles, as the leading character.

Up next, Fay had her most meaty role in The Shrike, about a dysfunctional marriage between a stage director and his actress wife.  Fay played a problematic actress in conflict with June Allyson, the leading lady. I for one loved this movie, it’s such a raw, realistic story and leaves you with a bunch of intense feeling after watching (this is what I want my movies to do!). The performances are all first class. I generally dislike June (too squeaky clean, goodie two shoes actress with no intriguing depths), but she is actually really good here,and Jose Ferrer is pure gold!

Next came One Desire, a typical Universal drama of the 1950s – overtly dramatic, shallow of story (about a gambler and a showgirl trying to make it in the wild west) and with impossibly beautiful people suffering in a myriad of highly improbable ways. Granted, I may be too rough on these movies- they are actually often not that bad, just too stagey and artificial, and often the actor make up for it. Here we have Rock Hudson, Ann Baxter and Natalie Wood (whom I absolutely adore!), so there is enough talent to make up for any other fallacies.

Fay got some major newspaper coverage when she appeared in Diane, an overblown historical drama that is all performance and no substance – everything is beautiful but lifeless. The story concerns Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of kind . Diane is played by Lana Turner, and boy is she a mixed bag! While overall a weak actress, she did possess a certain sex appeal and charisma that was hard to ignore and what made her a star (not a real actress, but a star). In some movies it works, in some it does not. Here is works as times but let’s say she’s okay. Roger Moore, as the king, looks too young and lost amid all the lavish sets (and frankly looks ridiculous in period grab). The best role is played by the fabulous Marisa Pavan as the scheming Catherine de MĂ©dici. Fay and five other luscious girl splayed Diane’s ladies in waiting.

Except for some TV work, was that was it from Fay!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1953, Fay was in a very serious car accident that could have ended not only her career but literary her life. After singing at the Hollywood Bowl, Fay was offered an audition with the New York Metropolitan Opera (or Warner Bros, the accounts differ). On the way to the audition, a tragedy happened. Here are some details of the accident:

Fay Morley, 22, actress and singer, and her mother, Frieda Mogel, 47, yesterday announced they’d reached “a very satisfactory settlement” of their $273,000 automobile injury suits, just as a jury was being selected. Their announcement was by their attorneys, Edward and David Pollack, In the courtroom of Superior Judge Clarence L. Kincaid. The suits grew out of injuries received by the two women in a three-car crash, Jan. 3, 1953, near Barstow, in” which four persons were killed and seven Injured. 1 Estate Defendant Defendants In the two suits were Maurice Newman, executor of the estate of Harry Friedman, deceased textiles manufacturer’, and Ralph B, Ellis, construction company head. Friedman and Mrs. Friedman were among the dead from the crash. He was driver of the car in which Miss Morley and her mother were passengers, the suit stated. ..’ , Miss Morley asked $159,000 and her mother, a dress shop owner, $114,000, charging that Friedman s; car, going at, an excessive rate, of speed, as they returned from Las Vegas, failed to take a sharp curve because of construction work with inadequate barriers. The car in which they were riding veered into an east bound lane and struck two cars, they said. Injuries Listed Miss Morley charged that she had suffered a broken pelvis, broken leg, and had lost her voice for seven months. She also missed a New York engagement to play a role in “Fasten Your Seat Belts,” a musical, she averred. Her mother had a crushed chest, punctured left lung and broken ribs, her suit stated. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

When she was rushed to the hospital after the accident,the doctors in the emergency room doubted that she would live through the day. “And, one doctor added, “if she does, she’ll never walk or talk again.” As it is obvious from the article, Fay had a prolonged convalescence period and was unable to work during that time, as she spent eight months in the hospital, and the year after learning how to walk and talk all over again.

It was a very difficult time for Fay, but she never lost her zest for life and was unwavering in her faith. She also had external help, as she was surrounded by friends and family who lavished her with loving attention and devotion – Charlie Chaplin’s son used to come and cheer her up.

Her vocal chords, which had been paralyzed, finally healed, and almost two years after the accident, she was ready to continue her interrupted career.  Thankfully, she bounced back emotionally and mentally stronger, and she truly needed the support – her dreams career for an opera career were dashed, and Fay need to make peace with it and had to turn to other venues. She began a career in cabaret and musical theater, landing the part as Carol Channing’s understudy in “Hello Dolly.”

Being an understudy was ultimately too underwhelming for her as Carol was a workhorse that almost never missed a performance, so Fay  left the touring production in San Francisco, hopign to find new revenues at the West Coast. However, a Hello Dolly producer, enraged by her actions, decided to blacklisted her from working on Broadway.

After California she returned to New York, and, unable to find meaningful work in New York, Fay left for England, paying her way by performing on the cruise ship that took her there. There she hosted the BBC’s “Night Ride” for three years and recorded for CBS records. She returned to New York after some time, and since the bad blood ceded a bit, she made a comeback in night club work, one woman shows in the cabaret tradition, and was a hit performer in Las Vegas. She recorded a large number of songs and was considered a reliable, talented, well liked all around performer who could easily get a gig anywhere. During this time she changed her name to Lisa Carroll.

But life had some surprised in store for Fay. In 1993 was involved in another car accident, and like last time, instead of taking it in her stride and lamenting , it transformed her life. Fay was hospitalized and spent more time listening to music, reading and contemplating. And she acquired an unusual new skill – rapping! She would rap for her nurses and they loved it! Fay slowly honed her rapping capabilities, and this opened up a whole new world for her – she was able to record “Rapping with Dr. Wruth” and “Rappin Roofus.” “Rappin Roofus” was a children’s album and became a success. Thus this car accident was also a blessing in disguise for Fay.

Her rapping career pushed Fay into yet another field of expertise – toy manufacturing! She introduced her line of toys including the Hip Hop Hamilton bear, dedicated to the Broadway rap hit Hamilton. She also created a mega successful children’s Christmas album called  “Rappin’ Up Christmas: Homeys 4 the Holidays”.

Now for her romantic life. The vibe I get from Fay was that her singing and creative work was always more important to her than dating, and as far as I can tell, she never married, but had a string of handsome beaus. She was only gal Jeff Hunter has taken out since his divorce from Barbara Rush, but they were old pals and it was more friendly than flirty.

She also dated Billy Loes, Maestro Art Mooneye, composer Mack Gordon and Martin Epstein. It seems she had a special relationship with songwriter Burt Bacharach, as attested by this funny quote:

“It was my first release. They presented the song to me and, for the b-side, anything written by Burt Bacharach would have to be a success, especially since his parents were my dearest friends. I think it sold well. That was a funny situation as [Burt’s parents] were always trying to fix me up with their son between his many marriages, but it never worked out. They wanted me for a daughter-in-law. Every time he got divorced, they would ring me and say, “Now’s the time!” But by then, I’d be off singing somewhere.”

There is tons and tons of information about Fay’s musical career in the papers and some on the net, but I won’t focus on it here, needless to say she seems like an incredible and very vibrant woman!

Fay is still alive today, and, as always, I hope she is living a great life!

Phyllis Ruth

Phyllis Ruth 6

Phyllis Ruth was one of those actresses who really, really tried to make it, but it seems that the cards were stacked against her for some reason. Petite, pretty and not too bad of a comedienne, she still didn’t manage to get out of the supporting roster into the big leagues. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Phyllis Ruth Stelzner was born on March 14, 1922, in Pasadena, California,to Ernest Fred Stelzner and Mary Guilleima Stanley. Her Wisconsin born father was a manual laborer who worked as a machinist just before she was born.

Her parents divorced when she was a small girl, and her mother remarried to James Clifford O’Reilly in 1926. Phyllis lived with her new family in Los Angeles, attending elementary and high school there. Phyllis was originally more interested in singing than acting, and before graduating from high school, she worked as a singer in various local bands.

At some point, Phyllis decided to become an actress and try her luck in movies. She started knocking on studio gates for some time to get this break. She was finally signed by Paramount in 1939 in and thus it all started!

CAREER

Phyllis made only 9 movies in the early 1940s before she retired, so her filmography is a bit slim. Her first movie was It’s a Date, a charming, fluffy comedy with musicals numbers, headed by Deanna Durbin and Kay Francis. Yes, they even have the same romantic interest – Walter Pidgeon. While I do generally like Walt, I can never imagine him begin a chic magnet who turns female heads heads (well, maybe except Greer Garson). Next came a low budget western, Wild Horse Range, and the less I write about then, the better 🙂

Phyllsi Ruth 5Phyllis then appeared in Always a Bride, a low budget romance movie with Rosemary Lane and George Reeves in the leads. As one reviewer succinctly wrote in IMDB; the movie is “a cheap quickie with the minimum allowable entertainment value, buoyed only by George Reeves’s charm”. Yep, have to generally agree with that one. Too bad about Rosemary, she not untalented, but never managed to get her five minutes of real fame.

Phyllis appeared in a myriad of Bob Hope movies and other such comedies. She started 1941 in Caught in the Draft, Louisiana Purchase, They Got Me Covered and Let’s Face It. While they vary in quality and are not the same old same old, it’s still Bob Hope doing what he does best – being Bob Hope! I kinda like him and enjoy someof his movies, so let’s assume this is not a bad string of films, and they are Phyllis’ feather in her cap (it’s not a lavish, big cap, but still).

Phyllis appeared in only two more movies before calling it quits: The Fleet’s In and My Heart Belongs to Daddy, both happy go lucky, thin comedies that still carry that mystical whiff of old Hollywood elegance. The Fleet is superior since it can boast a superior cast (William Holden and Dorothy Lamour),but you have Cecil Kellway in My Heart, and boy is he a hidden treasure!

That’s it from Phyllis!

PRIVATE LIFE

https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LRJS-JQB

Phyllis is an excellent example of what happens to most girls who crash Hollywood hoping to make it based solely on their looks. Here is her story:

Movie aspirants speak longingly of crashing Hollywood as if a role or two represented the final step toward security and a career. But they can take the word of a little blond trick named Phyllis Ruth that staying in pictures is a lot harder than starting in them. Whet! she won a comedy role in “Caught in the Draft, and then in Louisiana Purchase, Miss Ruth had a private dressing room, a standin and a lot of other flattering attentions. In the midst of her work on the latter picture, she was called to the front office of Paramount, where executives intimated that her work was so good that they would like to have her around all the time. She was offered a contract. For the first time in three years of persistent effort years of sitting in casting offices and playing bit roles and weathering disappointments Miss Ruth sighed, signed and considered that her troubles were over. That was last August.. Presently, along with murmured apologies, she was given a rather small role in “The Fleet’s In. When the picture came out of the cutting room, Phyllis Ruth was just a blond flash who spoke two lines. Since then, nothing Has happened. She gets her check every week, and spends part of it for vocal and dancing lessons. She keeps her weight down to 100 pounds and goes to bed early so she’ll be in condition when the studio calls. When the studio calls, it’s always someone wanting her to donate to something, assist in a bond drive, entertain at an Army camp, or maybe pose for leg art. What makes her especially nervous is that she keeps on getting the most flattering encouragement, but nothing!

In the end, nothing happened and Phyllis gave up her career, as we already know, and I can’t blame her, this is very nerve wracking and discouraging in the long run.

On the sunny side of the street, Phyllis and her mother, Marylin, were top notch Hollywood hostesses. They often organized get togethers in their Malibu Beach home and were famous for their charcoal-broiled steaks and other delicacies. Their group of friends included Dennis O’Keefe, Steffi Duna, Hal Thompson, Charles Crenshaw Jr., Bob Livingston, Eleanor Stewart, Leslie Peterson, Joe Rivkin and Jules Buck.

Also, Phyllis was a truly petite woman. She had to don high heels to touch five feet, and was the tiniest blonde actress in Hollywood.

Phyllis Ruth 1But now for her love life. Phyllis dated Art Moss before getting involved with Bert Wheeler. They met at Palm Springs,  in late 1940, and got involved right away and quickly became a constant twosome. Now, a bit about Bert – he was a well established comedian, part of the Wheeler and Woolsey duo. His fame could have helped Phyllis in the long run, at least to make it as a comedian. He was born in 1895, making him almost 30 years older than Phyllis (who was barely 18 when they started dating).

As it is normal in Hollywood, less than a month after they met marriage rumors started swirling around in the press, but it seems they were premature. For one thing, Wheeler didn’t exactly have a great marital track record. He was married three times before Phyllis came into the picture, and he courted his previous bride, Sally Haine, almost four years before they were wed.

No tot discourage the local gossip mongers, despite of the obvious lack of a engagement ring, Bert professed his love for Phyllis Ruth, but denied they are engaged or contemplate marriage “unless she is a hit In pictures and can support me in tho style to which I am accustomed.” I know it’s supposed to be funny, but I could smell uncertainty a mile away, and no wonder since Wheeler did his share of martial mistakes!

By April 1941 it was clear there were some serious wobbles in the relationship, and when wheeler departed on a personal appearance tour, it was highly unlikely they would reunite once he returns. It seems that some telephone calls were put back and forth during this uneasy time to smooth some rough edges, and when Wheeler got back after a three-month and petite Phyllis was very, very happy.

Phyllsi Ruth 3They were set to be married not long after, and literary quarreled almost on their wedding eve and called the whole thing off. They reconciled a bit later, but it didn’t yell and thy broke up again. It seems that Bert was crushed by this turn of events immediately and rushed to Mexico City with a torch in each hand, to mend his ailing heart.

Phyllis spend no time moping around her house crying, and hooked herself a few of the Tinsel Town’s most desirable bachelors: John Carroll and Edgar Bergen, plus a few others. In the meantime Bert Wheeler dated Patty Orr, a dead-ringer for Phyllis (we see you Bert!).

Phyllis next serious beau was agent Joe Rivkin, and they enjoyed a nice romance and it was all looking like roses – they wedding date was almost set and they were ready to go until Ruth met Richard Denning, a fellow Paramount  contractee. They started as casual acquaintances at the studio, but soon meeting on Paramount hallways wasn’t enough, and they started to go to dinner together. In the end, Phyllis dumped Joe for Richard. The press was very much looking forward to a union, and announced wedding bells for them (the press called Richard Dick “Lucky Guy” Denning, it was a nickname that stuck for some time in 1940s). And then, boom, the engagement was over! Who knows what happened!

Phyllsi Ruth 4Luckily for Phyllis, she met the man she would marry – Truman Bradley, a former M-G-M actor, then working as a radio announcer. They met while they were playing golf and were constantly seen together afterwards. The things went from strength to strength and they were engaged by early 1942.

It seems that bad blood boiled between Phyllis and Bert even after more than a year after they separated. Once, they sat at adjoining tables at the Vine Street Radio room and nobody said hello. Phyllis was with Truman, Bert with Phyllis  look-alike Patty Orr.

The couple married on June 27, 1942. Here is a short description of the wedding ceremony:

Phyllis Ruth., daughter of Mrs. Marilyn Ruth, and Truman Bradley were married recently in the First Methodist Church of Hollywood with Rev. Ray Harker officiating. Dennis O’Keefe served as best man and Mrs. O’Keefe was matron of honor. The bride wore a streets length frock of white draped chiffon and carried an old-fashioned Colonial bouquet of blue and white flowers. After the ceremony there was a buffet luncheon in the Malibu Beach home of the bride’s mother. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley left Tuesday for a honeymoon at Del Monte. Among those invited to the wedding were the Bob Hopes, the Jerry’ Colonnas, Mr, and Mrs. Johnny Weissmuller, Mr, and Mrs. Ted MacMichael, the Buster Colliers, the Pat O’Mal-leys. Martha ODriscoll, Bill Orr, Bob Stack, the Oliver Hardys, Dick Doran, the Don Amcches, Capt. and Mrs. John Detlie (Veronica Lake,) Mr. and Mrs; Peter Lind Hayes, Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Tucker and the Red Skeltons. ‘

Bradley was born on February 8, 1905 in Sheldon, Missouri, he began his career as a radio broadcaster in the 1930s and is regarded as one of the golden voices of radio. He was noted for hosting and narrating both radio and television programs to include “Young Dr. Kildare”, “Charlie Chan”, “Frontier Days”, “Action Sports” and “Science Fiction Theatre”. As an actor, he appeared in the films “Keep ‘Em Flying” (1941), “Lone Star Ranger” (1942), “Fighter Squadron” (1948), “Special Agent” (1949) and on various stage shows. He was married once before to actress Myrla Bratton.

However, the marriage was flawed from the beginning, and in a few short months Phyllis confirmed the fact that she would seek a divorce in the near  future, and Bradley confirmed their separation with the statement: “My wife didn’t come home last night. We’ve been talking about a divorce, so I guess this is it.”

Phyllis Ruth 2The Bradley separated but continued living int he same house. This never works in the long run if you want to divorce peacefully, and fate had more in store for Phyllis and Truman. After separating and living the same house for some time, they reconciled and Phyllis was left pregnant. Their daughter Trudy Ann was born in July 1946.

However, none of the problems that precipitated their first separation were solved, and they separated again, and this time for good, barely 15 months after Trudy was born. Phyllis sued for divorce first, charging cruelty and asking for division of community property and a reasonable allowance for the support of their daughter Trudy. Bradley was allegedly earnings $2000 a month. They finally divorced in 1948. Bradley died on July 28, 1974.

Phyllis slides of the newspaper wagon from them on. She remained in Los Angeles and married and divorced a certain Mr. Ingram. I could not find any additional information on her marriage sadly.

Phyllis Ruth Ingram died on September 29, 1999, in Los Angeles.

Florine McKinney

A truly beautiful woman who could sing very well, Florine McKinney had a minor movie career before retiring to get married. Like some other actresses, she returned to movies after her divorce, but often the impulse they had a few years prior just vanishes and they are stuck in a thankless position – barely 30 years old, with a once promising career gone to ashes now, struggling to get even small roles. Florine retired from movies to do theater work. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Florine McKinney was born on December 13, 1913, in Mart, Texas, to and Grace Humphries their only child. Her father was a professional druggist who had his own drug store.

Florine grew up in Fort Worth, and since she was a child it was clear that Florine possessed a knack for showbiz. She had a good soprano voice and was interested in amateur theatricals. Her dramatic efforts made her well known on the local Fort Worth scene. At some point, Florine decided to make ti her live hood, and opted to become an full pledged actress. That road, however, was not that easy.

She enrolled into the Central High School she appeared in school and Little Theater plays and gave concerts throughout Texas, singing In English, Italian, French, German and Spanish. She also did some radio singing.

A month before her scheduled graduation from Central High, Florine went to Hollywood with her vocal teacher in an ancient flivver which gradually fell apart on the way. They eventually arrived (safely) and Florine, armed with letters of introduction from her vocal teacher, went to visit all the local casting directors. She succeeded in procuring interviews, but, when no work was offered, she returned to Fort Worth after five weeks.

Entering high school again for her diploma this fall, she was at her studies when Paramount wired he an offer of a test, her voice and beauty being remembered when musical productions returned to favor Arriving in Hollywood, she made two tests and signed a contract. At the same time, she won a scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and was preparing to enter that institution when her film offer came. She also won the Fort Worth trials of the National Atwater Kent contest, but relinquished her chance in the State finals when she went to Hollywood. And so her career started!

CAREER

Since Florine actually appeared in a more than 30 movies, I’ll just take a rough outline of her career. Florine entered movie in 1932, and stayed until 1937, when she got married and retired (seemingly for good, but not quite!). She appeared in a strin gof women’s movie headed by large starts of the day – Norma Shearer in Riptide and Joan Crawford in Dancing Lady, and even appeared twice with Jeannette MacDonald (The Merry Widow and One Hour with You). These are all good A class movies, but sadly Florine was not to be seen for more than a moment or two, perhaps managing a slightly bigger role in at least a few movies (like in Cynara).

Florine’s biggest role from this period was is David Copperfield, where she played Little Em’ly, the Woman. it’s a beloved movie today, a well received adaptation of the Dickensian classic. Afterwards, she made a string of credited performances, and by 1937, she was heading somewhere. She had the leads in solid B efforts like A Star Fell from Heaven and Blazing Barriers. But marriage took a front seat to her career, and she gave up Hollywood for the time being.

The second part of Florine’s career is from 1940-1942, after her divorce. She appeared in a few famous classic in that period: Waterloo Bridge (still not as good as the 1930s version, but Vivien Leigh is always very watchable!), The Philadelphia Story (one of Katherine Hepburn’s bets role,s no questions asked), and Blossoms in the Dust, a very nice Greer Garson tearjerker (Greer was SO good in these roles! Rarely did an actress consistently give such sincere, warm yet ladylike performances like Greer did).

Florine’ last movie was he only credited performance from that period. It was Little Joe, the Wrangler, a low budget western. The story is only so so (taken from the IMDB page): Mining executive Neal Wallace arrives to investigate the losses at a gold mine and is immediately framed for murder. The murderers then incite a lynch mob but the Sheriff lets him go. Wallace eventually convinces the Sheriff of his innocence and the two then work together to get the gang that is looting the gold ore. We have Johnny Mack Brown and Tex Ritter, but guess what, neither of them is the Little Joe – believe it or not, Little Joe is Fuzzy Knight, who was 40 years old when the movie was made (I expected a child actor playing Little Joe, how wrong I was!). Florine is overshadowed by those three, PLUS Jennifer Holt, who has the leading feminine role. Guess she saw the writing on the wall and gave up movies after this one.

And that’s it from Florine!

PRIVATE LIFE

Florine was under legal age when she received court approval to a movie contract – $125 a week. She started promising, but it didn’t end up quite the way it seemed.

Florine was an ardent milk consumer. She insisted on her daily quota – Four quarters of a liter. When interviewed abotu the 1920s flapper social norms, Florine said this:  “Women always set the tone of behavior for men, and If women want dignity to come back Into social life, they’ll arrange It and men will follow their lead. Youth demands variety that’s the answer.”

In 1934, it began to look serious between Florine and fellow actor Ralph Malone. Since they started rehearsals together for the initial play to be staged at the Holly town Theater by Lela Rogers, mother of Ginger Rogers, they had been have been constantly together and a relationship developed. Sadly, with the closing of the play they went bust too.

Florine’s next big thing was director W. S. Van Dyke, and they were seen dancing at the Beverly-Wilshire weekly. Florine also dated Nat Goldstone made a foursome with him, George Raft and Irene Ware.

Florine had a a leading role in “Night Life of the Gods. and fell into a romance with screenwriter Barry Trivers, who adapted the play to the screen. They got engaged in 1936. The engagement ring was a unique band of yellow gold with the diamond set in carved leaves, designed by Florine and Trivers in a tandem. They wed in May 1936 in London. Trivers was born on February 12, 1907 in Cairo, Egypt to a British family.

Here is a short description of Triver’s career, taken from Rovi’s All-Movie Guide’s Hal Erickson (text found at the Fandango web site) and Memory Alpha:

American screenwriter Barry Trivers first began receiving screen credit in 1932. Trivers spent the rest of the decade at 20th Century Fox (where he worked on a few of the studio’s Jane Withers vehicles) and Warner Bros. His wartime film contributions included Republic’s Flying Tigers (1942) and RKO’s Army Surgeon (1944). Barry Trivers closed out his movie career with 1958’s Blood Tide.

He wrote for a number of films, including The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936), Dreaming Out Loud (1940), The Wagons Roll at Night (1941), and Flying Tigers (1942). His other TV works include Perry Mason, Rawhide, The Untouchables, Mannix, and Kojak. Trivers won the Writers Guild award in 1962 for his Naked City screenplay “The Fault In Our Stars”, which like his Star Trek episode utilized a William Shakespeare quote in its title.

Trivers also had some minor Broadway credit, but was allegedly well paid and well off. Barry was a golf enthusiast and even served as a Rancho Park Golf Course president in the 1950s. The couple moved to UK, and lived and worked there for a few years. Florine acted under the name of Lori Trivers and appeared extensively on the US theater circuit in 1938, playing in light opera like Rosalie.

In mid 1939, the marriage started to fall apart, and they separated by the end of the year. In January 1940, Florine and Trivers were seemingly talking reconciliation, going out together and acting as if nothing had happened. Whoosh, next thing we know, it’s April 1940 and Florine won a divorce from Barry – she told the Superior Judge that her husband broke her phonograph records, tore up her sheet music and told her their marriage was a mistake.

From that day until November 1941, Florine and Barry went left and right with their reconciliation/make-up acts. By December 1940 they were solidly on the way to reconciliation – they saw each other once a week and were trying to make up their minds about the state of their marriage. And so it went on for most of 1941, veering up and down, until something happened in November 1941 and they went bust, but this time for good. It seems they rarely if ever saw each other after that. Trivers died in 1981 in Los Angeles.

Florine left Hollywood not long after, and dedicated herself to theater. She also went with the Billy Gilberts on their USO trip to Africa, and almost married Lew Alter, but that romance failed in the long run. IMDB claims that Florine had a drinking problem and that is why she gave up movies – this could be, but there is no way I could substantiate this.

Florine married for the second time to a certain Mr. William Guest in the 1950s. The marriage did not last long, and she retired to Van Nuys at some point.

Florine McKinney died on July 28, 1975, in Van Nuys, California.

Ruth Channing

Ruth Channing was a gentle, well bred blonde who after a short dancing career and extensive theater experience landed in Hollywood purely by chance and tried to build a movie career for herself. It didn’t quite work out and Ruth retired to become a wife and mother, so let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE:

Eva Louise Moynahan was born on May 18, 1904, in Boston, Massachusetts, to George Seymore Moynahan and Mary Gertrude Casey. She was the youngest of three children – her older siblings were Frederick, born in 1897, and Grace Gertrude, born on April 18, 1901. Her father was born in Ireland and worked as a professor at Harvard.

Ruth grew up in an intellectual East Coast Boston family, and due to her mother’s connections in the artistic world, was a mascot for the Boston Opera Company at the age of six. She studied ballet and dramatics, and wanted to become an actress from early on. She was formally educated in Notre Dame Academy, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic high school.

Sadly, her father died in 1919, and afterwards her mother moved to Los Angeles, while Ruth went to New York to try and establish a dancing career. In the early 1920s, she was appearing on Broadway and summer stock. Sadly,  she suffered an injury which derailed her dancing, and she switched solely to acting.

In 1930, after quite a bit of theatrical experience, Ruth came to Hollywood because of her mother’s Illness. In need of money, it was natural for her to seek work at a studio, since she had extensive stage training. Numerous tests finally landed her a contract with MGM, bit she languished in the studio and did’t get a part for months, waiting on stand-by.

Namely, how Ruth got into “real” acting is a funny story. Jean Harlow arranged for a screen test of Jay Whidden, in whom she was quite interested. Ruth was chosen to make the test with him because the somewhat resembled Jean. The result was that Ruth landed a job, while Jay landed outside of the studio. And thus her career started in earnest!

CAREER

Ruth appeared in only 10 movies, and was mostly uncredited. Her first movie was a minor Dorothy Arzner classic, Working Girls, about two country girls who come to New York to make it good. It’s a nice, nifty little movie, happy-go-lucky but not too saccharine, nothing outstanding but well made and with a charming cast of largely unknown but interesting actresses (Dorothy Hall, Judith Wood, Claire Dodd).

Ruth’s second movie was Vanity Street, a fast paced PreCoder with a marginally shocking story that is very much female centric! it does have some stupid moments, but it’s an interesting point about women who get into big towns to make a living and don’t quite succeed the way they expect it to. The cast is full of very talented but very neglected early 1930s actresses (Helen Chandler, Mayo Methot, Claudia Morgan) and some very good actors too (Charles Bickford, George Meeker). Then came Broadway to Hollywood, a over wrought, somewhat overtly heavy drama about three generations of vaudevillians and their battles with the changing times, alcohol and overall human drama. Watch for Jackie Cooper but little else is worth noting.

Ruth had a more prominent role in Lazy River. The story is quite simple: three ex-convicts (Robert Young, Nat Pendleton, Ted Healey) come to Louisiana bayou village intending to rip off the family of a dead inmate, bu tit seems that he overestimated the family’s wealth, and of course Young falls for a Jean Parker and helps her fight off a gang of Chinese criminals. The movie is a solid low budgeter, with a good cast and some great underwater sequences.

Ruth was then cast in a prestigious production of Men in White, a Myrna Loy/Clark Gable movie where Clark plays an idealistic young doctor who has to grow up and understand that the world is not what it seems. it’s one of Clark’s last roles before his “macho” period that lasted almost until the end of his career (he played Rhett Butler one way or another is many of his roles, although who doesn’t like him like that!). The movie, based on a play by Sidney Kingsley, is a superb outlook on many topics that are still taboo today, like back alley abortions and Antisemitism. The cinematography is superb, with deep shadows and almost dreamlike quality. A definite watch!

Ruth was again uncredited in Laughing Boy, a very weird drama with Ramon Novarro and Lupe Velez playing a Native Americans in a Romeo and Juliet plot (not quite, but it has some elements of it). Then came Hollywood Part. Whoa, this is a movie you can’t believe got made. Helmed by 6 different directors and a dozen screenwriters, it ends up a hilariously bad but funny film about the fact that Jimmy Durante’s having a party and everyone’s invited. Yes, that’s the whole story, but you can see a whole bunch of old school comedy classics like the Three Stooges and Lauren and Hardy and enjoy some music and dancing. Feel good all the way!

Ruth had a small role in The Thin Man, the major classic of her filmography. Love William and Myrna together, what more do we need to say? Another really good movie came with The Merry Widow, an Ernest Lubitsch classic. Famous movie critic Andrew Sarris once wrote that “Lubitsch suggests the art of lilting waltz or bubbling champagne” and his movies truly are like that, evanescent, out of this world but still madly sophisticated and with a certain charm that nobody could replicate. The plot is simple enough, When a small kingdom’s main tax payer (Jeannette MacDonald) leaves for Paris, its king dispatches a dashing count (Maurice Chevalier) to win back her allegiance. Maurice and Jeannette work wonderful together, and Edward Everett Horton in the supporting cast is an absolute gem!

Ruth closed of her career with Outlawed Guns, her first and last starring role, but sadly, as you can guess from the name, it’s  a low budget western!! The star is Buck Jones and the plot is made to tear up your heart – he’s trying to save his kid brother from some bad influences. Ruth just had to look pretty in it and that was the whole point of her role. The movie itself a mixed bag. On the good side, this western i s a notch up the typical low budgeter, even has some deeper moments (but don’t look TOO deep) but on the downside, it’s still a low budgeter and has no great value, and it did nothing for Ruth’s career.

And that was it from Ruth!

PRIVATE LIFE

Ruth gave a beauty hint for the readers:

Although I take part in active sports, tennis and golf, I am careful to keep my skin powdered over a make-up cream when exposed to sun and wind. I find this make-up excellent protection. I have never had a sun tan. When cleansing the skin, after removing the surface make-up with cream, I use warm water and a good mild soap.

Ruth was also civically minded. Along with fellow starlets Doris Hall and Pauline Brooks, she volunteered at the local Los Angeles Assistance League.

Ruth was married for the first time to a William Parker, on October 4, 1924 in New York. I couldn’t find any additional information about the marriage, but they divorced prior to her departure to Los Angeles in 1930.

Ruth married her second husband, Hamilton MacFadden, on September 29, 1934. Here is a very good article about MacFadden, taken from the MOMA web site:

Hamilton MacFadden was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1901, just a few years after the birth of motion pictures in the U.S. His entry into the world of performance came as an actor on Broadway in 1923, in the American adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s drama Floriani’s Wife. MacFadden continued to act through 1925, when he performed his final role in George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly’s comic Beggar on Horseback. The play was a hit in the Broadway drama season of 1925, and was later made into a Paramount Pictures film of the same name, directed by James Cruze and starring the jocular Edward Everett Horton. (Interestingly, Beggar on Horseback examined the intersection of art and commerce and what artists need to do in order to feed their aesthetic passions as well as their bellies!)

Stepping from the front of house to behind the curtain, MacFadden took on the pivotal titles of producer, director, and stage designer from 1925 through 1929, assuming key production roles in The Carolinian (1925), Gods of the Lightning (1928), One Way Street (1928), La Gringa (1928) and Buckaroo (1929). As he said adieu to the Broadway stage, MacFadden’s curriculum vitae was packed with the foremost names in American theater, Maxwell Anderson and Tom Cushing among them.

Upon his arrival in Hollywood, MacFadden married actress Violet Dunn and soon was put under contract to Fox Films. Work as a contract director basically meant that you went to the studio every day, received a directorial assignment that hopefully played to your strengths, and completed the picture. This was not ignoble work, and some directors broke out to become notable on their own, but for the hundreds and hundreds of films made in the heyday of the studios, the contract director kept the pipeline full of new releases. MacFadden’s work might not be as well known as such Fox kinsmen as John Ford, Frank Borzage, or Raoul Walsh, but his films were popular with audiences and critics alike.

The marriage started on a slightly bad note when Ruth fell and suffered a broken wrist while the couple were en route to Santa Barbara and had stopped at a service station. She stepped out of the car she slipped. Luckily she recuperated easily and could enjoy her honeymoon phase with Hamilton afterwards.

Ruth gave up her career to devote herself to married life. The MacFaddens had three children: Channing,. born on May 4, 1936, Deirdre, born on July 26, 1939, and Folger, born on April 13, 1941. The family led a happy life in Los Angeles, where MacFadden worked in the movie industry as a writer and director.

MacFadden and Ruth divorced in 1949, and Ruth returned to New York afterwards, living in Manhattan. Little is known about her later life, except that she married a Mr. Robertson (about whom I could find no information) and lived with him in Brewster, Massachuests in their later years.

Ruth Channing Robertson died on December 8, 1992, in Brewster, Massachusets.

Ann Corcoran

This phrase is enough to describe Ann Corcoran – Model turned actress. If you read this blog, you know the drill – pretty girl who works in New York and earns good money as a model gets called by Hollywood and she decides to try her luck way down west. Yep, while we have examples that really succeeded (Lauren Bacall), most of them did not, and neither did Ann. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Katherine Ann Corcoran was born on November 22, 1923, in Los Angeles, California, to Harry William Corcoran and Catherine Josephine Flaherty. Her younger sister, Mary June, was born on March 5, 1925. Her father was an automobile parts salesman. Ann had a normal childhood, grew up in Los Angeles and attended high school there. Before she managed to graduate, in 1939, she went to New York to become a model.

Pretty soon she was the toast of New York and a highly sought after model, working for the John Powers Agency becoming a very popular Swim for Health Girl in 1940 (she was all over the papers for days). Here is a typical article from 1940:

Every year, the Red Cross and bathing-suit manufacturers co-operate to promote “Swim For Health Week.” To choose a national “Swim For Health Girl,” a contest was held among 300 professional models… Ann Corcoran, a John Power’s model, the winner, selected because of a per’ feet figure, wholesomeness and beauty will be in our sixth floor beachwear shop today through Wednesday, July 3rd. She will be glad to discuss with you the proper type suit, how to tan, and any of your swimming problems. Come and see her between now and the Fourth! !

She even appeared with Al Jolson In his stage musical, “Hold On to Your Hats”. Ann was discovered by a talent scout while modeling jewelry for a New York jeweler, was signed by Warner Bros, and off she went!

CAREER

Ann, always uncredited, made her debut in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the classic American musical, with the indomitable James Cagney playing George M. Cohan. The movie is a delightful piece of fluff done the right way, with great music, a sturdy and capable cast, and with that touch of magic nobody can quite name.

Her next movie, despite begin her first credited performance, was a bit of a let down – Escape from Crime, the plot is a rehash form the older Cagney movie, Picture Snacher. A imdb review gave the perfect review IMHO:  No need to recap the already-reviewed plot. The movie is a good example of an assembly line product that studios rushed into production for undemanding wartime audiences at a time when they were crowding theaters in record numbers. The film itself may be unmemorable, but the results still show slick professionalism of the studio system (here, Warner Bros.). It’s also a chance for a newcomer like Travis to get needed exposure. He’s Hollywood handsome, performs capably enough, but leaves no lasting impression and is a good example of an actor whose real medium turned out to be TV. Ditto comedian Jackie Gleason and William Hopper of old Perry Mason show in a bit part. In fact this is precisely the level of entertainment that would later transition to TV without missing a beat.

Ann took a hiatus from movies, and emerged again in Hollywood in 1944, with Tampico, an interesting mix of various genres:  sea adventure, spy thriller, a bit of romance. The leads are played by the very capable Edward G. Robinson who usually never plays romantic leads, and the seductive Lynn Bari. It’s a pretty solid “is she or isn’t she” movie, and more than worth the hour and a half of the viewer’s time. Too bad Robinson’s golden years are behind him at this point – he’s truly a powerhouse actor and always gave magnificent performances.

Next came Take It or Leave It, a totally forgotten Phil Baker musical (literary, I asked myself who is Phil Baker?? Never heard of him!). But we do have the infinitely interesting Madge Meredith in it, google her and read more about her, she had an incredible life story!

Ann’s last movie from this period was In the Meantime, Darling. At first glance a forgettable comedy about army wives during WW2, since this is Otto Preminger after all, you have to ask yourself, what’s the catch – and there is one! Namely, although very cleverly disguised, this is a movie about class problems in the US. Jeanne Crain, quite an unusual choice for an upper class girl (she was always more of a wholesome, cute girl next door IMHO), is good here (if a bit too predictable and thin as a character, but okay), and the rest of the cast is equally is pretty solid too.

An was gone for five years from Hollywood, and returned in 1949, with Dancing in the Dark a dismal drama with William Powell and Betsy Drake. Powell plays a down on his luck former Broadway star trying to strike it again and wants to find a new leading lady. Now, Betsy is someone you can talk about until the cows get home. On paper she sounds superb – the unconventional, smart, and very capable women ahead of her time, who managed to snag and marry Cary Grant and was a Broadway sensation – but in her movies, she’s terribly… Unadept. I can’t even say she’s wooden, but she just acts the wrong way and never hits the right notes. Since she would he the highlight of the movie,m a young hopeful who Powell sees as a next big star, the movie tanks spectacularly and no amount of Powell charm can save it.

Ann’s last movie was Love That Brute, a charming movie with Paul Douglas as the brute (he’s such a wonderful actor, love him!) and the always fresh Jean Peters playing a prim and proper governess whom he tries to woo. The plot is a tad bit predictable, but who cares when you have such a good cast (throw in Cesar Romero).

That was all from Ann!

PRIVATE LIFE

In her prime,  Ann was five feet eight inches tall and weighed 117 pounds, making her a tall, cool glass of water 🙂

When Ann was appearing on Broadway under the name of Bernice Frank, it seems that Ann had a relationship with the legendary Al Jolson, who was by then divorced from Ruby Keeler. Allegedly, Ann had quit his show because docs told her she was allergic to greasepaint, but the relationship continued. Some time later Ann went to Los Angeles, and Jolson tried to keep the flame alive to visiting her a few times in Los Angeles, but they broke up ultimately not ling after she signed her movie contract.

June Millarde (whom I already profiled) and Ann got new contract with Warner Bros at the same time, and they provide minimum salaries of 75 a week and possible maximum of 700 a week. Sadly, neither girl had much of a movie career.

It seems that Anne had a slight lips when she came to Hollywood, and she worked very hard to overcome it, and here is a anecdote from that time:

Six months in Hollywood taking voice lessons to eliminate a slight lisp. Last week she was assigned her first role as a contract player, that of Phil Baker’s secretary in “Take It or Leave It.” She’s, in every scene dealing with the radio show, hands Baker the cards bearing the questions asked each contestant, and all around her there is conversation. Contestants whisper to each other, and In the audience someone shouts in excitement. But Ann Corcoran? Her lisp gone, she hasn’t a line to say to prove

Here is another anecdote from the same time, when Ann was a budding starlet:

Hollywood sometimes tells upbeat stories, and right now it tells the fantastic story of five equally lovely and equally ambitious starlets who are all working together in “I Married a Soldier” without a sign of fireworks. They are Gale Bobbins, Jeanne Crain, Doris Merrick, Jane Randolph and Anne Corcoran, and they help each other. He says Gale, who used to sing with Ben Bernie, Instructs the other girls In poise and assurance. Anne, who was a model, gives them tips on looking their best before the cameras. Jane has had the most picture experience so she coaches the others. And Jeanne and Doris help each one learn her lines.

After dating Alexis Thompson, the sportsman cum bon vivant, for a few months, Ann got hooked big time with John Rosselli, a very shady guy, in about 1942. Born in 1905, he was an influential mafia member working for the Chicago mob who helped that organization control Hollywood and the Las Vegas. He had good taste in women, dated Virginia Hill and Lina Basquette and was married before to the lovely June Lang who originally had no idea what was the true nature of his business dealing, and when she found out, she divorced him immediately.

When Johnny was not in town, Ann remained, uncharacteristically for Hollywood, totally devoted to him, chaperoned by her whole family when she went out dancing, not having any dates. The relationship lasted for more than a year, and they went from high to low then back again. They broke up, got together again, but in the end, no cigar, and were bust by 1944. Rosselli died in 1976 when he was found strangled in Las Vegas. Perhaps it’s better that Ann and Johnny didn’t get married.

Ann also dated Jimmy Ritz, the famous man about town, and here is another funny anecdote from that time.

Jimmy Ritz came up to the cloak room at the Mocambo and absent-mindedly asked for the coat of Ann Corcoran. He often goes with Ann but that night he was with Nancy Valentine who was standing right behind him and heard the slip.

Ann drops of from the radar from the late 1940s. It seems that she never married, and lived the remained of her life in various places in California, lastly living in Orange County.

Katherine Ann Corcoran died on February 28, 1997, in Orange, California.

Poppy Wilde

Poppy Wilde, heralded as one of the most beautiful showgirls in Hollywood, was exactly that – a glorified extra in more than 40 movies, a pretty face used solely for eye candy. As you can well imagine, this was not a formula for career gold and she retired after getting married, but her life story is interesting, so let’s hear more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Jacqueline Ruby Wall was born on December 5, 1914, in Oakland, California, to Frederick Carl Wall and Olive Helen Chaffin. Her father worked as a railroad train-master. She was the third of six children – her older siblings were sister Mary Katherine, born on June 18, 1910, in Iowa, and William, who died just a few months after birth in 1912. Her younger siblings were Helen May, born on June 18, 1916, Florence Isabel, born on May 15, 1918, and Gladys Elaine, born on July 24, 1924.

Later obituaries claimed that her father was killed in a freak accident, leaving her mother to raise the children, but since he lived until 1940, let’s assume that he left Olive and she had to take care f the children single-handedly. Unable to take care of them, she eventually put some of them up for adoption. Jacqueline was adopted by her mother’s sister Isabel and her husband, John “Jack” Wardenberg, a well-off railroad executive in Salt Lake City, who didn’t have any children of their own.

While attending St. Maiys of the Wasatch, a private girls school, Poppy aired her own radio show. In 1929 a motion picture producer came to Salt Lake and took a shine to Poppy, with her beautiful silky black hair, ivory skin and dark, seductive eyes.The family moved to southern California so that Poppy could sign a studio contract, and that is how it all started!

CAREER

Ah, Poppy made more than 40 movies, which is quite a bit and I’m not gonna analyse them a great deal. She was mostly uncredited and appeared in really small parts.

I will just mention a few that are worth mentioning IMHO: Stand-In, a very funny and satirical exposee on Hollywood film making, with a superb cast of Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart and Joan Blondell, Angels with Dirty Faces, a classic crime movie with James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, members of our favorite Hollywood Irish mafia, Moontide, a proto noir and one of the few US movies Jean Gabin made, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, the last pairing of Ginger and Fred, Yankee Doodle Dandy, the classic musical with Cagney again, Road to Morocco, a Bing/Bob pairing deluxe, and Old Acquaintance, with tour de force performances by two divas, Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins.

And that’s it!

PRIVATE LIFE

Poppy was quite tall with feet seven Inches, and weighed only 101 pounds. Here is a short quote from Poppy about her Hollywood life:

Off the set, while other beauties marched before the camera, she undertook to answer a question: What price movie glamour? “It’s a dull and strenuous life,” she said. “More dull and strenuous than anyone outside the Industry Imagines. “When I’m not at a studio, I’m at home by the telephone. From 6:30 in the morning until 8:30 at night the telephone and I are partners. At regular intervals, I call the central casting bureau on the chance there’s been an emergency opening. “I Just Go to Bed.” “It’s dull but true that if I hope to work often, say two or three times a week, I must stay near the telephone the rest of the time. “At night I’m too tired for dinners or parties or shows. I just go to bed.” On Sundays, Poppy is free to go out. She is 22 and on her afternoon dates has had three proposals of marriage. “No one has interested me enough to accept,” she said.

Poppy married Luther Verstergard on July 31, 1934, in Orange, California. Luther Raymond Vestergaard was born on December 7, 1902, in Chicago, Illinois, to Christian Vestergard and Maytha Hecker. He studied to become a lawyer, but the lure of acting was stronger, so he made his movie debut in 1925 under the name of Paul Power. He spent more than three decades playing a variety of bit roles that included one of King Richard’s knights in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), a Scottish highlander in I Married an Angel (1942), and a minister in Ma Barker’s Killing Brood (1960). He added television to his long resumĂ© in the 1950s, appearing in such shows as I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, and Maverick. The couple divorced. In July 1946, he married Gertrud Elizabeth Warrington. He died on April 5, 1968 in North Hollywood.

Ruby married her second husband, talent agent Jack Crosby, on February 14, 1944, in Nevada. Jack Casier Crosby was born on September 7, 1903, in Elks, Nevada, to George Crosby and Lenore Casier, the oldest of six children. The family lived in Utah before they relocated to California, where he worked as a theater actor. Later he switched to the movie management business and was prosperous by the time he met Poppy.

Their son Dennis Brian was born on February 16, 1945. The Crosbys were very socially prominent in Hollywood, hobnobbing with luminaries like Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz. They were also quite outdoorsy – Jack loved to spend time in the open and rubbed it of into Poppy, who became a pro at fishing and was known to go salmon catching often. After Crosby got fed up with Tinsel Town in the 1960s, the couple moved with her to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Poppy stayed glamorous despite this change of scenery, and kept up with her old Hollywood peers, writing them voluminous letters and often visiting.

Strong willed and opinionated by nature, Poppy was also a very generous, kind person who could strike up a conversation with anyone, and was an excellent cook, her specialties being tuna sandwiches, spaghetti sauce and a tasty salad. She was a skilled crafts-maker, collecting dolls and painting rocks. Poppy also played ukulele and loved to sing.

Crosby died on January 14, 1979. Poppy was devastated and had to learn how to take care of herself financially – her husband used to do all the money stuff himself and Poppy had no idea how to manage anything. In order to earn her keep she became a hostess at the Coeur d’Alene cruises, giving history lessons and flirting with the clients. Pretty soon she was introduced to Victor Fehrnstrom. A romance bloomed and the couple was soon married.

Victor was born on February 6, 1922, in Manchester, New Hampshire, to Victor and Marion Fehrnstrom. Here is a bit about her third husband, taken from his obituary:

Vic had a long, fulfilling life. He began his life on a farm in Derry, N.H., where he enjoyed time with his brother, Ernie, and sister Marion, but was raised mostly in Boston and carried that accent forever. He served in the U.S. Air Corps during World War II and taught aircraft recognition to keep the Army, Navy and Air Force from shooting down our own planes.

After his service, he lived in California and worked for the Inglewood Police Department. He worked patrol and became a patrol Sargent, and later was a Sargent in the Detective Bureau. Vic retired in 1972 and moved with his wife, Carole and two children to Harrison, Idaho, where he farmed, logged and enjoyed his 40 acres. Years later, he moved to Blue Creek.

He moved for a short time to Prescott, Ariz., but his heart was always in Idaho, so he returned quickly. Not long after his return, he met his next wife Poppy, and became a Captain on the Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruise Boats. He loved working and/or captaining the Dancewana, the Mish-an-nock, the Kootenai, the Coeur d’Alene and his favorite, the Idaho. He enjoyed working the St. Joe River cruises, narrating tours and making sure everyone enjoyed their time on the boats. “Captain Vic,” as so many knew him, delighted passengers for almost 20 years. After he retired, he continued to live in Coeur d’Alene enjoying family and friends until his passing. He would’ve been 94 in just a few short weeks.

Vic was loving, caring, smart, brave, easy-going, charming and fun. His kindness and humor were always evident, his laughter was contagious. He loved his family deeply. He was an honorable man that was admired, was a role model to many, and someone that family and friends could always count on.

Poppy and Vic lived a happy life in Cour d’Alene, and enjoyed spending time with their families.

Jacqueline Crosby Fehrnstrom died on August 1, 2000, in Cour d’Alene, Idaho.

Her widower Victor Fehrnstrom died on January 11, 2016.

Patricia Alphin

Patricia Alphin came from a family that was deeply integrated into the movie business in Los Angeles, and it was no wonder that she wanted to become an actress. A poor man’s Jane Russell, she was a buxom, pretty girl, but sadly not talented nor lucky enough to cause any ripples in the treacherous seas of Tinsel Town. She had some odd 20 plus movies, and then retired after getting married.

EARLY LIFE

Patricia Cleora Alphin was born on 1927, in Phonerix, Arizona, to Harry Joshua Alphin and Bonnie Humphrey. Her father was a sound engineer, and due to his job the family moved to Los Angeles in 1929 where he started working for motion pictures studios. She had an younger sister, Harree Bonnie, born on March 10, 1931, and a younger brother, Harry Jr., born on August 27, 1935. Both of them were born in California.

Patricia grew up surrounded by movie people and wanted to become an actress from childhood. She attended and graduated from Burbank High School, and, as a true beauty, was active in the local pageant scene.

I don’t quite understand this, but in 1946 Patricia was crowned Queen of the Burbank Bethel of Job’s daughters. Confused? So am I. Anyway, here are some articles about it:

 Jobs Daughters Guests Of North Hollywood Bethel North Hollywood Bethel No. 110, Jobs Daughters, had as guests Bethel No. 97 of Burbank, April 6th at the North Hollywood Masonic Temple. The meeting was presided over by Joyce Hanzel, honored queen of North Hollywood bethel, and Patricia Alphin, honored queen of Burbank bethel. Both the North Hollywood and Burbank officers filled the chairs, with the Burbank’s girls as courtesy officers doing the work.

As a Queen, Patricia had certain social obligations that she did with gusto:

Patricia Alphin Hostesses Tea Featuring the Easter theme In the table decorations, Patricia Alphin, honored queen of Burbank Jobs Daughters, hostessed a mother and daughter tea at her home,  She was assisted by her mother, Mrs. Harry J. Alphin. At a tea table, beautifully appointed with a centerpiece of purple and white sweet peas,  Diane Swagler. Nancy De Celle and Donna Bell poured. Approximately 100 attended the affair.

After graduation, via her dad, Pat started working as a messenger at Universal International studio. She worked in the mail room and zipped around the lot with tons of letters. Literary, she was a female mailman 🙂 It was in this room that she she was was “discovered” and signed to a contract.

After several years of hard work, and many disappointments, Pat got her first big film break. She was given the feminine lead in Abbott and Costellos The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap. But she was taken out of the role when she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. This derailed her a bit, but as you know, you can’t keep a good girl down, and she was up and running once again, ready for big things!

And off she went!

CAREER

Patricia had a sim career as she was almost never credited, but her filmography is interesting and varied and, what is very important, she didn’t fall into the low budget western trap like many of her contemporaries.

Her first movie was Idea Girl, a totally forgotten Julie Bishop/Jess Barker movie. Her second movie appearance was in Tangier, another completely forgotten Maria Montez WW2 spy movie (but Maria sure was something, definitely not an actress but a powerful personality who lit up the screen). Then came Night in Paradise, an absolutely ridiculous semi fairy tale movie with Aesop as the main character (played by the exotic Turhan Bey), and Merle Oberon, a favorite of mine, sadly completely wasted in a “sensual” role. Not much better was the shallow, stripped-bare crime movie Inside Job, about ex cons who are forces to do another robbery, and Lover Come Back, one of Lucille Ball’s lesser movies where she tries to get even with her philandering husband, played by George Brent (yes, since this was made under Code she doesn’t too anything to drastic, making this a insipid movie).

Patricia then appeared in the serial The Mysterious Mr. M, which, you guessed it, has been completely forgotten and overshadowed by more popular serials. Her movies got a bit better afterwards (but she still was not credited, mind you). White Tie and Tails was actually a charming comedy about a butler who wreaks havoc on the his’ employers house while they were away – you have Ella Raines and William Bendix in it, and I love both of these performers. Then came I’ll Be Yours, another fluffy musical-comedy-romances made by Deanna Durbin, who was so deeply stereotyped by then that she gave up Hollywood not long after (and moved to France, smart girl!).

Since they were at the same studio around the same time, it was logically that Patricia would appear in movies with Yvonne de Carlo. Their first “collaboration” was Song of Scheherazade, a weird biopic about Russian composer Rimsky Korsakov. If nothing else, there is tons of good music and Jean Pierre Aumont (who plays the leading role) is the typical charming Gallic actor, immensely watchable! Pat was then in the above average Abbot and Costello movie, Buck Privates Come Home. Patricia had a slightly bigger role in Time Out of Mind, the first US movie made by the British star Phyllis Calvert. The movie, despite being a box office miss and having some serious problems, is worth watching just to see Phyllis and Helena Carter playing two interesting female characters. And Robert Hutton!! I cannot express my disdain for such a man! In Hollywood, where there were tons of incredibly talented people that never made it, we have a stone-faced, no-talent man with average looks who actually managed to snag some good B class roles. HOW??? Please explain how? I don’t expect every actor to be Laurence Olivier, but c’mon, Robert is a total block of wood when acting, with no charisma what so ever!

Luckily, Patricia’s next movie The Web is a minor film noir classic with a great pairing of Edmund O’Brien and Ella Raines, and with Vincent Price and William Bendix thrown in for good measure. The movie is all about who is going to double cross who, and despite being a tad bit predictable, keeps you guessing. The movie’s strength lies in the strong cast assembled and in the very good black and white cinematography. Next up was Something in the Wind, a typical Deanna Durbin movie (fluff!).

Perhaps the best movie on Patricia’s filmography is Letter from an Unknown Woman, an expertly made, magical but utterly devastating film, a deeply felt lament that manages to touch the viewers on a profound level. The story of a one sided, unrequited love is expertly directed by Anatole Litvak and played to perfection to Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine. Pat then went on to more cheerful stuff with Up in Central Park, another Deanna Durbin movie but this time with more zest and spice, and dealing with more than just pure romance – it’s a semi socially conscious movie about corruption in turn of the century New York City. And it has Vincent Price in it!

Patricia scored another very good film noir with Larceny, a John Payne/Dan Dureya/Joan Caulfield movie. Basically, it’s a film about a film about con artists and their techniques with a bit of romance thrown in, and it’s almost educational in this aspect. Pat then appeared in a mid tier Abbott and Costello movie, Mexican Hayride. Next she played a secretary in the very first Ma and Pa Kettle movie, Ma and Pa Kettle.

Up next was Johnny Stool Pigeon, a mid tier film noir with Howard Duff playing an agent who infiltrates a crime organization – always the same plot, but with a good cast and decent atmosphere, it’s an okay effort.  Then came Yes Sir, That’s My Baby, a part sports part ‘battle of the sexes’ drama/comedy film, focusing on the conflict between the desire of college student fathers to play on the football team vs. their responsibilities in providing for their family and helping care for their babies. It’s nothing special, but Donald O’Connor has a few nifty dances in it, and Gloria deHaven and heavenly as always.

Pat’s last movie for Universal International was The Gal Who Took the West, her second Yvonne de Carlo feature. As with most of Yvonne’s movies, it’s a lusty, sensual affair with no great story and little to no character development, but hey,

Expect a small uncredited role in 1980 (in The Return), that was it from Pat!

PRIVATE LIFE

Some of the tidbits Patricia told the papers: “The first thing I wanted when I graduated from high school was a fur coat. It makes a young girl feel that shes really grown up, and it makes that impression, too. You feel good in it, no matter what kind.

Patricia married her high school sweetheart, John W. Moorman, in a ceremony at 8 p.m. on June 28, 1949. The wedding was not without mishaps: Bonnie Alphin, Pat’s sister, lay on a stretcher as she served as bridesmaid because she was injured in an auto accident en route to the church. An ambulance took Bonnie from the scene of the crash to the church where and after the ceremony Bonnie was whisked to a hospital for X-rays of a back injury. Bonnie later recuperated fully.

A bit about the groom. John William Moorman was born in Los Angeles on December 28, 1926 to Paul Samuel Moorman and Aida Stephens. During the war he was an Air Corps member, and later attended Occidental College. The couple honeymooned in Mexico City.

The Moormans settled in Los Angeles had two children, a son, John Scott, born on May 14, 1951, and a daughter, Julie Kathleen, born on September 2, 1954. Little is known about their life, they continued living in Los Angeles, with Patricia long retired from movies.

Patricia and John divorced in September 1974. Moorman remarried to Marilynn Barber in 1976 and died on November 9, 1995.

Sadly, Scott Moorman, Pat’s son, died before his mother in unusual circumstances. He was a very gifted athlete and a Monroe High School running back. After get married, siring a son and getting divorced, he moved to Maui from Granada Hills in the mid 1970s and was an active sailor. In 1978, he went missing while on a fishing expedition, and his skeleton was found 10 years later on the Marshall Islands. It is possible that he lived like Robinson Crusoe on an deserted island for years. This is an incredibly intriguing but somber story, and learn more about it on this link: One dusty track.

Patricia falls out of the radar from then on, and I have no idea what happened to her. As always, I hope she had a good life!

Ila Rhodes

Ila Rhodes was a pretty blonde who got to Hollywood via the Pasadena Playhouse, and who expressed a wish to seriously act (she studied drama at college). Too bad it never came that far – she did a few small roles and then gave up movie altogether to get married. Her Tinsel town highlight was dating Roland Reagan, and this got her five minutes of fame in the 1980s, after he became a president. Let’s hear more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Ila Rhodes was born on November 17, 1913, to William Allen Rhodes and Birdie E. Baley, in Marion, Missouri. Her father was an engineer. She was the youngest of six children, where her oldest siblings were really older than her – her brother Ernest and Omar were born in the 19th century (in August 1892 and July 30, 1895 respectively)! Her other siblings were Sarah, born on December 21,  1903, Nancy Ethel, born in April 5, 1906 and Charles, born in 1909. Sadly, Ernest died before Ila was born, probably in 1910. The family moved to Oklahoma when Ila was a little girl, and by 1920 they were living in Ottawa, Oklahoma.

Ila had a normal middle class childhood, even if it was a bit hectic. Namely, due to her father’s work, she moved a great deal and attended grammar school in Okmulgee, Hitchita, Checotah, McAlester; all in Oklahoma, and Fort Smith, Ark. She went to high school in Atoka, Muskogee, Tulsa, and later attended university at Oklahoma City (all four years). At the university Ida majored in dramatics, got a groundwork in Shakespeare and other classics.

Later publicity claimed that Ila’s full name was Ila Rae Cornutt, and that she was of Cheerokee Indian descent, but since they made up a great chunk of young starlet’s histories, I wonder if this is true. Not only was her surname not Cornutt, but she was born in Missouri, not Oklahoma. Although it could be she had some Cornutt family connection, but can’t be sure. Here is the article:

Permanent Blonds But if Ha’s a vanishing Indian (out of this school and into that one), she’s not a vanishing blond. Her family is a durable exception to the new scientific theory of “perishing blonds.” This theory holds that bruneta are gradually absorbing blonds. The blondness in Ila’s family is so strong that it erases competition. In the family tree is a great maybe even a great-great grandmother who was full-blooded American Indian. “Rust-Proof” Legend says that from the union of a blond, Dutch-English white man and an Indian’ maid came one child who had flaxen hair and blue eyes the first of the “non-rusting” blonds in the Curnutt clan. Ila’s pink-and-white complexion won her a role without a screen test in “Women in the Wind.”

No comment on that. Anyway, after graduation from college, Ila started to act in the Pasadena Playhouse and attended their dramatic school. Following graduation the dramatic school, she was noticed by Arthur Lyons, Warner Bros producer, and after a successful screen test signed a two-year contract with Warner Bros and her career was go!

CAREER

Ila appeared in only 6 movies. She was uncredited in Off the Record, a Joan Blondell/Pat O’Brien combo movie.  The two leads are dynamite together (playing newspaper people) and Joan is her usual cute but tough broad, but the movie is a low budget B class film and it shows in the short running time and too much stuff meshed into it. Part newspaper film, part drama and part romance, ti doesn’t really work, but as I said it’s worth seeing for Joan and Pat alone. They don’t make them like this anymore!

Ila was given a leading role in Secret Service of the Air, the first movie Ila appeared with Ronald Reagan. It has a very thin plot: Brass Bancroft and his sidekick Gabby Watters are recruited onto the secret service and go undercover to crack a ruthless gang that smuggles illegal aliens. As one IMDB reviewer notes, this film contains just about everything you could possibly fit into a 61-minute movie: a prison break, car chases, shootouts, bar fights, a love story, brawls, various plane chases and much more. Typical for a B movie of the period, where more was considered more.

Next was Women in the Wind, one of the movies that Warner Bros made Kay Francis do that that their prized star, who was paid thousands a week, would quite before her contract expires. Thus, we can assume it’s not a particularly good movie. Ila then appeared in a small role in Dark Victory, the Bette Davis weepie classic of 1939, with George Brent and  Humphrey Bogart thrown into the mix. The story is well known: a socialite discovers she has an inoperable tumor and has to change her whole life before her time comes. Bette excelled at these kind of roles, and the supporting cast is wonderful, so overall it’s a very good movie.

Ila’s last movie was Hell’s Kitchen. The Dead End Kids star in this remake of The Mayor of Hell and Crime School, with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Lindsay as obligatory grown ups support. Nothing to write home about, but does have some socially conscious moments and it’s one of Ila and Ronnie’s movies together!

That was it from Ila!

PRIVATE LIFE

Ila was five feet five, weighting 112 lbs in her prime, and shaved 4 years of her CV when she was signed by Warner Bros. Growing up in Oklahoma, Ila was something of a bronco-busier. She didn’t tell Warners about that at first, because she was afraid she’d be cast in westerns and have to hide her pretty figure in a pair of chaps.  She also told the papers that she dieted on baked potatoes and skimmed milk when she wanted to lost a few pounds. She was best friends with Margaret Lindsay and Marie Wilson, and the three often sipped drug store ice cream sodas like a trio of high school girls. She also wore two old-fashioned hat pins with garnet beads she found among her mother’s keep-sakes.

Here is a bit more about Ila: She likes to sing and dance and does both well. She’s a fine horsewoman, a fact she concealed for a time fearing to be typed westerns. She plays’ tennis and dances to keep fit, diets mildly, attends the Methodist church, drives a two-year-old car, doesn’t care for jewelry. She rises early, saves her money and reads a good deal. Her best friend Is Ida Lupino. Her natural ‘blond hair and startlingly blue eyes are the kind that delight cameramen. She also gave a recipe for a special bleaching masque. To a whipped up egg you add the juice of a big lemon, then apply it to your face and leave it on for a half hour. Take two facials each week.

If Ila is indeed remembered today, it’s because she was, allegedly, engaged to Ronald Reagan, then a young actor in the Warner Bros roster. It was the year 1937/38, she was around 21 (officially, but actually about 25) and he was around 30. Their budding romance consisted of lunch-break trysts and stolen weekends together. Ronnie used to take her for hot dogs and he had a no-smoking, no-drinking, no-dancing stance, preferring simple things like taking long walks and talking.  Ila would later say of him: “Ronnie was very attractive, and I enjoyed our weekends out together. I became engaged, with a ring on my finger, when fame started to affect us. The fans started to multiply.” Allegedly, Ila tried to sell some tall tales to Ronnie, claiming she was related to some old guard, wealthy aristocrats, but it remains to be proven either false or true.

The engagement lasted eight or nine months, when Warner Bros moguls decided romance between their stars was bad for box-office business, and started pressing Ronald to give Ila up. They used any means necessary to do it. Arthur Lyons, the Warner producer who had discovered Ila, started taking her to celebrity get-togethers and fashionable nightclubs. Bit by bit, this erosion  led to the break-up. Ila recalled later: “But it was elegantly done. He grew distant, withdrew a little, giving me plenty of room to take any kind of decisive step. And then we decided to face facts.” Shortly after the couple split they both married, Reagan to actress Jane Wyman and Rhodes to Lyons. Anyway, Ila and Lyons planned their wedding to be a Mexico City double-wedding with Ida Lupino and Louis Hayward getting  married with them.

Thus, in Ila traveled to Yuma. Ariz., to be married to her agent, Arthur Lyons. Lyons was born on May 27, 1906, in Russia. Little is known of his early life. He became an talent agent with his brother Sam representing such stars as Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Lucille Ball, Ray Milland and Jack Benny.

They started happily, looking for a new house and so, but the marriage was not to last. Lyons and Ila separated in June 1940, and divorced in November 1940, and court awarded her $500 a month for the rest of this year. Lyons remained a prominent agent and producer, and remarried in 1961 to Winifred Gilbert. He died on July 26, 1963.

After her divorce, Ila left Hollywood, hoping to revive her fledgling acting career. She went to New York to act on the legitimate stage. Her first and last role on the stage was in “Goodbye My Love”. Then, in mid 1942, Rhodes met a man at a dinner party in i Washington. In October 1942, they made their relationship public by appearing at the swank 21 club – Ila on the arm of Air Corps Brig. Gen. Bennett Meyers. Meyers was considered quite a catch and Ila was allegedly envied by tons of glamour girls. Meyers was high up in the military and was a powerful man who enjoyed friendships with other powerful men, and it seems that Ila was ready once again to give up acting to take up the mantle of domesticity. On February 14, 1943, they were married at the Marble Collegiate Church.

Here is a bit about Bennett:

Bennett E. Meyers was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1895. During World War I he enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Signal Reserve Feb. 2, 1918, and served as a flying cadet until June 22, 1918, when he was commissioned a temporary second lieutenant in the Air Service, serving continuously until he was commissioned in the Regular Army as a second lieutenant, Air Service, to rank from July 1, 1920.

He completed ground school at Berkeley, Calif., and flying school at Rockwell Field, Calif., remaining at the latter station after being commissioned. He transferred to Love Field, Texas, for duty in various staff capacities from July 1919 to November 1920, when he became commanding officer of the Surplus Property District at Detroit, Mich. When this was completed he undertook a similar assignment at Buffalo, N.Y., in the following September, and became commanding officer of the Air Reserve Depot there.

He moved to Luke Field, Hawaii, in September 1923 for intelligence duties until July 1924, when he joined the 23rd Bombardment Squadron. In June 1927 he was transferred to Wright Field, Ohio, for procurement duties. He was away on temporary duty from November 1927 until February 1928 to take the special observation course at the advanced flying school, Kelly Field, Texas. He returned to Wright Field for procurement planning duties, becoming chief of the Plans Division of the Industrial War Plans Section.

He was assigned to the Army Industrial College, Washington, D.C., in September 1929, and graduated in June 1930. He then returned to Wright Field as chief of the Plans Division, Industrial War Plans Section. He was detailed to the Babson Institute, Mass., in September 1931 and graduated in June 1932 with “high distinction” and was valedictorian for the class. He remained there for post graduate work for another school year until June 1933 when he again returned to Wright Field as executive to the Field Service Section. In 1935 he established the Budget Office at that field and was budget officer and chief of that division until September 1940 when he was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps as assistant executive. He became executive officer of the Materiel Command in that Office in November 1940, and in March 1942 was named deputy to the Assistant Chief of Air Staff of the Army Air Forces.

He assumed command of the Materiel Command, with headquarters at Wright Field, Ohio, in June 1944, and the following month was named Deputy Director, Army Air Forces Materiel and Services at Patterson Field, Ohio (later redesignated Air Technical Service Command, with station at Wright Field, Ohio). In May 1945 he assumed command of the Air Technical Service Command. He retired in the grade of major general.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and Legion of Merit and was rated a senior pilot, combat observer and technical observer.

He was dismissed from the service of the United States by President Truman July 16, 1948, after conviction of a felony.

Ila and Bennett lived the high life, and had three children: twins Arnold and Damon, born on February 26, 1944, and Ila Jr., born on February 24, 1946. But it seems the salad days were not to last, as Meyers was privy to enough to make himself some dough, on the side, and not in a ethical or indeed legal fashion. Here is the article:

Gen. Bennett K. Meyers. head of the Army Air Force wartime procurement. 1 about to get hit with a bag of wet cement when the Ferguson-Bretr-Hughee war contract Investigation reopens Monday. “Benny” Meyers, m the 48-year-old purchasing official la generally known, will be slapped with a receipted hotel bill, showing . he accepted more than , 11,000 worth of weekend entertainment from vHow-ard Hughes., via his fat bagman, Johnny Meyer. The hotel bill, from the swanky Town House in Los Angeles, will be produced by Senator Homer Ferguson, of Michigan, who will ask the general why he accepted favors from a man who ‘ was trying to get army contracts. General Meyers, who married Ila Rhodes, a movie actress about half his age four years ago, enjoyed a very expensive weekend at the Town House with his wife. The ten shows it was lifted by the ubiquitous Johnny Meyer with one of his famous “okay to pay” notations. Without realizing it, I have been sitting on most .of this story since the Hughes investigation opened early in August.

Ila stood by her husband, getting papped daily in the courtroom, and often being called the general’s ultra sophisticated, very chic younger wife. Guess the publicity wasn’t that good, and Ila came around as quite a shallow money digger – the press obviously twisted the story according to their own agenda. Anyway, Bennett was found guilty on three counts of subornation of perjury, and faces a maximum 30-year prison term. In the end, he was interred in Wasghington, DC.

Ila was under siege after the trial, and she tried to make a normal life for herself and the couple’s children. Sadly, the press didn’t let her – a few months later, she was discovered modeling In a Manhattan fur salon under her maiden name. She was unhappy about the publicity but said she took the job because She needed money to support her three children, and she wanted to be near Washington, D. C., where for one hour each week she is allowed to visit her husband, in jail for perjury. .She allegedly told a reporter: “Jeepers! They didn’t know who I was when they hired me. Maybe Ill be looking for another job tomorrow”. Yep, Ila tried but they were not really forthcoming.

IMDB claims that Ila died on December 10, 2012, in Glass Valley, California.

 

Clarice Sherry

Clarice Sherry was a promising, talented small town girl reared to become a successful actress. Sadly, despite all of her talent Hollywood just didn’t embrace her and she retired after just a few years of working. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Clarice Marie Shierry was born on December 21, 1914, in Hawkeye, Iowa, to Leon Shierry and Etta C. Brukhart. She was their only child. Her father was a barber who had his own barber shop, her mother designed hats and dresses (including those worn by her daughter in the future).

The Shierrys spent the first four years of Clarice’s life in Hawkeye, then they lived in Mason City for two years before the family went to Los Angeles, California in 1928, where Clarice attended high school and junior college. A striking blonde, Clarice had  been carefully reared by her parents, with much love. Although she early showed signs of artistic talent, she was not allowed to commercialize it nor to make public appearances during her school life, except in recitals with other pupils. Piano and dancing lessons were part of her education, which was obtained in a Los Angeles private dramatic school.

Due to her beauty, she was chosen to model gowns and to pose for automobile advertisements. Her face has also appeared on magazine covers. In March, 1934, Warner Brothers signed her for her first chorus work, and she has made progress ever since. She appeared in choruses in Dames, North Shore, Sweet Adeline, Gold’ Diggers of 1935, Go Into Your Dance, Sweet -Music and others, then took a voice test in the summer of 1936. That test resulted in a passing grade of 100 per cent, and she went into the speaking parts.

CAREER

Clarice appeared in a string of musical movies as a chorus girl. She was featured in three Sonja Henie movies – One in a Million, Thin Ice and Second Fiddle. Since my dislike of Sonja Henie is more or less obvious if you read this blog, let’s just let it slide.

Other musicals that Clarice appeared in are: The Girl Friend, a totally forgotten Ann Sothern musical, Sing, Baby, Sing, a weak and not very memorable Alice Faye vehicle, Broadway Melody of 1938, a typical pastiche musical with Robert Taylor, playing a non-singing guy, trying to act out a flimsy story about a Broadway producer, but everybody is watching Eleanor Powell, Judy Garland and Sophie Tucker singing and dancing, Kentucky Moonshine, a abysmal Tony Martin musical with the Ritz brothers supplying (or trying to) some minor comedy, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, perhaps the bets musical she made, a Alice Faye/Tyrone Power classic with a great deal of Irving Berlin songs, and Honolulu, a charming Eleanor Powell movie with an idiotic story but good dancing.

Clarice had bigger parts in non musical movies, and if she’s even remembered, it’s for them. We have The Emperor’s Candlesticks, a witty, urbane spy-romance movie with William Powell and Luise Rainer (with that superb pairing, anything goes!), Man-Proof, a champagne comedy with Myrna Loy playing a unhappy in love girl trying to woo the desire of her heart and Franchot Tone trying to stop it (and wooing Myrna, of course), the absolute classic The Women, and Fast and Furious, which, despite it’s intense name, is actually a light murder mystery, with Ann Southern and Franchot Tone’s zany marriage being the core value against a meh plot and a lot of pretty young women in bathing suits (Clarice among them).

Clarice’s last movie deserves a special mention. Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is a cult classic, as are most Flash Gordon movies. Whatever one may think of Universal series, this one is of a pretty good quality. Buster Crabbe was made to play the heroic Flash Gordon and Charles Middleton makes an incredible Ming. However, it is the action sequences that are the true highlight here. Watch it! Clarice had a small part as Queen Grend,a but at least she’s visible!

That was it from Clarice!

PRIVATE LIFE

Clarice was 5 feet 5 inches tall, and had glorious hair famous around Hollywood. It was pale natural blond, waved slightly and went all the way to her waist. Here is a funny story about Clarice’s adventures in Hollywood:

“It’s a great life if you don’t weaken,” gasped Clarice Sherry, when shooting stopped for a moment on “The Great Ziegfeld’ set the other day “But I’m distinctly wakening.” h added. The i costume she bad on weighed only 102 pounds. It’s for a very elaborate promenade and posing number. It is called “Northern Light” and Is made of 2,000 yards of pleated tulle and 700 large pear-shaped crystals. The former Hawkeye-Mason City girl has to wear special shoulder pads with it

Her private life was very stable. Clarice married Sidney D. Lund, technical executive at Universal studios, in a secret elopement to Reno in 1935. The couple hurried back to Hollywood the next day, so that Clarice could obtain a screen role in a new picture in which she appeared with Melvyn Douglas, Virginia Bruce and Warren William. Afterwards the Lunds establish residence in Los Angeles.

Sidney Lund was born on January 10, 1905, in Los Angeles, California, to Burton Lund and Abby Holt. His parents divorced and both remarried, and he had a maternal half sister and half brother, Mary and Conrad Klemm. He was trained as an electrician and became a movie technician for Universal Studios. He was married once before , to dancer Sada E. Hindman, on May 3, 1930 in Los Angeles. They had no children and enjoyed a very tempestuous marriage with at least one major scandal – in January 1931, Sada accused actress Dorothy Janis with stealing her husband’s love while the pair were making a picture in the South Seas. After much drama, Sada dropped a $25,000 alienation of affection suit. Dorothy and Sidney did not end up together, as she married Wayne King in 1932, so I guess Sada and Sidney made up. After more ups and downs, Sada finally divorced Sidney in 1933, charging desertion, nonsupport and cruelty.

Unlike his first, Sidney’s second marriage worked like a charm. Clarice retired from movie work, and dedicated herself to family life. The couple had a son, Gary Robert, born on October 18, 1940 in Los Angeles. Sidney continued working in the motion industry.

The Lunds enjoyed a happy union, lived in a two stories high residence in North Hollywood, had many good friends and were able to travel widely and saw a great deal of the world. Clarice also painted many beautiful pictures and portraits, and loved Oriental art and gardening.

Clarice Sherry Lond died at the ripe old age of 98 of an aneurysm on October 4, 2012 in Los Angeles. She is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.