Nancy Root

Nancy Olson

Nancy Root was a pretty co-ed with some riding skills that landed in Hollywood due to her combination of looks and sass, but sadly was cast in a string of “pretty girl” uncredited roles. Sadly, it was just a few years into her career that she was embroiled in a scandal, and decided to leave Hollywood behind. She later became a successful jewelry designer. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Nancy Jane Root was born on September 4, 1939, in Los Angeles, California, the only child of Herbert Root and Blanche Root. The Roots were a prestigious family, very active in the local scene, and Nancy was the grandniece of prominent republican politician and Nobel prize winner Elihu Root. Both Nancy’s parents were physicians in the Los Angeles area.

Nancy grew up in a stable and happy family in Los Angeles. Interested in performing since she was a little girl, she still claimed she was MORE interested in a Republican political career, which was expect of a Root dynasty member. But, a tingling wish to one day become a movie queen persisted, and she liked to perform and was often featured in amateur theatrics. After graduating from high school in Los Angeles, Nancy decided to enroll into University of Arizona and moved to Tucson to study there.

While in Arizona, Nancy blossomed into a stunning green-eyed redhead with 35-23-33 measurements She took her first two years of college there. An accomplished horsewoman, she did some stunt riding for movie companies working in this area. She rode so convincingly and so prettily that she was encouraged to take a screen test, and eventually was accepted into 20th Century Fox’s new talent school.

And thus her career started!

CAREER

Nancy first appeared in movies was in But Not for Me, a Clark Gable movie! What a way to go, I must say! Anyway, the movie is far from Clark’s best, but it’s a solid 60s comedy, with Clark playing a seasoned producer who wants to retire but then his pretty secretary declares his love for her, and he decided maybe he won’t retire after all? But what will his wife say? The cast is first class (Clark, Carroll Baker, Lili Palmer), and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s well directed and witty at times. Her second was is a camp classic, a so bad it’s good movie, Girls Town. Girls in a catholic reform school, what more to say, with Mamie Van Doren playing the lead. Tons of scantly clad pretty girls, and it’s not even a Busby Berkeley musical? What to say!

Nancy Root 1

Nancy continued appearing in quirky 60 movies, so specific to that decade and rarely made ever since. The first one was The Private Lives of Adam and Eve, another unintentionally hilarious so bad it’s good movie. the story is simple enough, n. Several travelers are en route to Reno, when thunderstorm causes them to take refuge in an abandoned church. Falling asleep, the two leads dream they are Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, but its’ just excuse to parade pretty girls around and see Mickey Rooney dressed in a snake suit. But wait until the next movie – College Confidential. What a bizarre one! In a nutshell, a professor conducts a survey about the sex life of college students. And then all bets are of! The vast is truly a weird mish-mash: Steve Allen and his wife (Jayne Meadows), Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren – both blonde and voluptuous, old school debonair Herbert Marshall, Rocky Marciano (the boxer), Conway Twitty(!), Cathy Crosby (Bing’s niece) and lots of kids of famous stars–Robert Montgomery Jr., William Wellman Jr. and Elisha Cook Jr., and even gossip columnists Sheila Graham AND Walter Winchell!

Nancy Root 4Now to some less campy movies! The Great Impostor is a Tony Curtis vehicle all the way – we see his playing a real life guy who faked being a doctor, warden, monk and teacher, and has a real talent for swindling! Tony is good in his role, and shows he was more than a pretty face with immense charisma and star power. And the supporting cast is excellent – Karl Malden, Gary Merrill, Edmond O’Brien and lovely Joan Blackman as a leading lady. It’s a okay drama made int he best old Hollywood style, so what’s not to like about it?

Nancy’s last movie was a Jerry Lewis comedy – The Ladies Man. I don’t like Lewis to much and am not interested in watching any of his movies, but it seems he is an acquired taste and that he has moments of sheer brilliance. Alas, his movies are mostly uninspired showcases for his skits, and this one if no exception. Lewis plays an unlucky in love recent college graduate who answers an advertisement for a handyman and finds it’s in a private house that has been converted to a residential hotel for women. Lots and lots and lots of pretty women! Girls like Dee ArlenFrancesca BelliniVicki BenetPatricia BlairLillian BriggsHope HolidayGloria JeanSylvia Lewis, and Pat Stanley. Nancy was one of the girls naturally! The flimsy story just serves as a basic frame for Lewis’ many crazy shenenigans. To each his own! Who likes Lewis will probably love this!

That was it from Nancy!

PRIVATE LIFE

When Nancy returned to Los Angeles as an actress, she transferred her academic work to USC so she could continue it along with movie work. She became a student of psychology at USC and hopes to get her doctorate in that field.

Being from a prominent Republican family, Nancy was very active in the political arena, campaigning and attending conventions. Here is a short newspaper bit about it:

Last summer was an exciting one for Nancy, no matter how you look at it. She has long been active in Young Republican clubs –was Miss Pima County Young Republican and Miss Arizona Young Republican before becoming Miss California Young Republican. In the latter capacity, she attended the Republican National Convention. However, as a sideline, Nancy also does news reporting for the Mutual network in California, and had these chores to keep her additionally busy. She also attended the Democratic convention to report woman’s news. So the two conventions, plus a tour of the east .for “College Confidential” kept her more than a little busy.

Nancy Root 2

Nancy also gave some handy advice for young girls who wanted to become actresses:

Has Nancy any advice for other young women who want to get into the movies? “Yes, indeed” she said emphatically. “Get your education first. Or at least don’t stop your academic studies. Also, have enough money that you don’t need outside jobs while you’re in the starlet stage. And don’t consider acting unless you have the consent and full support of your parents.”

https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/G3ZV-XD8

Nancy was popular with the boys all around, and dated Jack Hogan, a wealthy sportsman. Then in 1962, when she was barely 23 years old, something happened that changed her life. Namely, in 1959 Nancy was involved with a mobster who took part in a murder of another mobster, Jack Whalen. They were sentenced only in 1962, and Nancy was a key witness.

The fate of Mickey Cohen and four co-defendants, on trial for the conspiracy-murder of Jack Whalen, was expected to be placed in the hands of a 10-women, one-man Los Angeles Superior Court jury today. Defense attorneys have branded the prosecutions case as “fantasy, and attacked prosecution testimony given by model Nancy Root. MISS ROOT had said she was warned by Joe DeCarlo, one of the defendants, to stay away from Rondellis Restaurant, where the shooting occurred, because there might be trouble. Atty. Harvey Byron, rep resenting DeCarlo, charged the girl sought sensationalism.

Here is a bit more about the whole sordid situation:

NANCY ANN ROOT, 24, testified that DiCarlo told her all the d”frndant:i were armed fit the time of the shooting and that DiCarlo broke a date with her that night because “there rnight be trouble.” After the shooting, she said. she picked up DiCarlo and LoCigno and DiCarlo told her he and the other defendants had met at the restaurant and everybody had a gun. She said DiCarlo told her ‘Whalen was shot by LoCigno and LoCigno s gun was hidden “where it wouldn’t be found.” He hoped they had “gotten rid of all the guns, she said. ‘ LATER IN THE DAY, Miss Root testi’ied, DiCarlo said it was “stupid of them to put the guns in the ashcan behind Rondelli’s.” Police said they found three guns there, with Leonard’s and LoCigno’s fingerprints on) two of them. Harvey Byron, representing’ DiCarlo, asked Miss Root:; “You say you have not been; acting for a year. Docs that! ( include today?” “YES, SIR. MISS Root snapped, while the prosecution objected. Superior Judge Drucker sustained the objections. Miss Root’s testimony was admitted against DiCarlo and Leonard only, for the time becouse She said it was based on’ conversations with them. – LoCigno was earlier convicted of the murder but was granted a new trial.

Nancy career effectively ended then and there, and she opted to marry and leave it all behind. Her choice of groom was Billy Ray Dyer. Dyer was possibly born on March 7, 1928, and served as a marine in Korea.

Nancy Root 3

Nancy and Billy Ray had three children: William, born on March 22, 1963, Robert, born on August 10, 1964, and John, born on October 4, 1969. The family lived in California, with Nancy retired from showbiz.

At some point, Nancy divorced Dyer, moved to Arizona (where she went to college), and took up jewelry making. How come? She felt a great kinship towards the local Arizona Indians, and spent many hours exploring their rich cultural heritage. She was nicknamed The redheaded Indian, and started to design a modern version of their jewelry, and gained quite a bit of local fame because of her handy work.

Nancy also married to a Mr. Hursche, but I could not find any information about who exactly is this mystery man.

IMDB lists Nancy Root’s death date as May 14, 2020, in Topock, Arizona. As always, I hope had a good life!

Phyllis Gilman

Phyllis Gilman was a pretty lady who got married very early, had two children, then decided to become a model and actress when she was already 20+ years old. In several brief years she became a leading model and even managed to nab herself a movie contract! Sadly this didn’t last long, as other martial adventures awaited her. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Phyllis Elizabeth Gilman was born on June 18, 1910, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Allen Gilman and Mary H. Proctor. She was their only child. Her father was a successful flour merchant and the family employed a maid.

Little is known of her childhood. Phyllis grew up in Pennsylvania, and for a time in the late 1910s lived with her great-aunt in Delaware. Later she was allegedly educated in Italy (maybe in a finishing school?). Phyllis married right out of high school (read more below) and opted to raise a family.

She landed in Hollywood pretty late, already divorced and working as a model and part time actress, when she was 27 years old. And off the went!

CAREER

More movies came her way. As the name implies, Vogues of 1938 The name alone reveals much about the movie – it’s all about the fashions, the pretty colors and beautiful girls. Story? Characters? Zero sum! While they actually have decent actors at work here (Warner Baxter, Joan Bennett), it’s a paper thin affair.

The story is as follows (Taken from IMDB): The blueblooded Van Kletterings are broke; debutante Wendy, slated to remedy this by marrying rich bore Henry Morgan, instead leaves him at the altar and goes to work as a model for high-fashion clothing designer George Curson, whom she soon falls for. But he’s happily married (at least on his side) and going into debt financing a show to please wife Mary’s desire for stardom. Vindictive Morgan, jealous of George, hopes to hasten his ruin. Can the House of Curson be saved? oh the drama!

Overall, the movie is all style, no substance. Still, we have revolutionary Technicolor, beautiful women and drool-worthy fashions, and that can be enjoyed. Phyllis of course plays one of the models.

That’s it from Phyllis!

PRIVATE LIFE

Phyllis landed in Hollywood as a packet of models for the movie Vogues of 1938, courtesy of the PR stunt of Walter Wanger, the famous producer. The other girls were: Olive Cawley, Katherine Aldridge, Norene Carr, Martha Heveran, Ruth Martin, Frances Joyce, Libby Harben and Mary Oakes. All of the girls were seasoned models and favorites among commercial photographers.

Much tales have been spun about Phyllis’ life before she landed in Hollywood, and as far as I can tell, most of it was false.

Phyllis Gilman, most in demand of the metropolitan lingerie models, is saving up to tour the Orient. Educated at Swarthmore College and abroad, she speaks several languages and is at much at home in Florence, London, Paris, Vienna as she is in New York. A devotee of air travel, she has flown all over Europe and this country. Besides modeling lovely undies, she has worn a Sultan’s ransom in jewels. And she is considered an authority on the lapidary’s art.

Well nope! Phyllis opted for the family way while she was still very young. Namely, Phyllis married John Ray Cannon Long in March 17, 1928 in Florence, Arizona. She was only 17 and barely out of high school. John was a bit older, born on September 22, 1905 in Louisville, Kentucky. She gave birth to their first daughter Lenore Anita Long on June 21, 1929, in Phoenix, Arizona, and their second daughter, Liane Lagier Long, on December 5, 1930, in Los Angeles, California.

Phyllis and John divorced by 1933 (he died in 1961), and it is then she started her career as a model and actress. I don’t have enough info to explain how and why this happened, but maybe Phyllis had to get work? I don’t know who was minding the children while she as working. So many questions, so few answers. However, this is an inspiring story about a woman who took matters into her own hands when she had to, and became the breadwinner for her daughter.

Phyllis allegedly dated her share of the stage door Johnnies, including Jerry Horwin, Hollywood bon vivant. By 1934, Phyllis became a member of the Monte Carlo Follies, The production went straight from New York to Europe and showing for the whole Summer Season. Phyllis continued being a popular chorine, and it seems that Phyllis also did some work in the London Palladium for the Lou Holtz show. That sure changed her life (more about it later).

So it is funny that, in 1937 when she finally hit Hollywood, Phyllis was called “a college girl who models lingerie and wants to tour the Orient”. Phyllis was in fact a seasoned working woman with a marriage behind her and two children. Was it that problematic to tell this out loud in Tinsel town? But still, as she was promoted like a youthful model (with other younger models) I can somehow understand why they tried to make her younger and more “carefree”.

Before she went made her only movie, Phyllis announced her engagement to Lou Holtz, Broadway stage and radio comedian, in Chicago while she was en-route to Tinsel town. Her and Holt’s romance was an international, dynamic one for sure! They Holtz said when both were making a picture in England the year before. He then wooed her in the British capital, Florida, and finally in New York.

Meanwhile in Hollywood, Phyllis received one-picture contract as Goldwyn girls, but dropped out of it become love was calling! Phyllis and Lou eloped to Agua Caliente and were married by a Mexican civil Judge. They returned to Hollywood in a few days and Holtz flew right away to Dallas. Tex., for a stage engagement. It seems that Lou had a hectic schedule and there was no time for a proper honeymoon.

Now something about Lou. He was born on April 11, 1893, in New Jersey. Here is more info from Wikipedia:

 He was discovered by vaudevillian Elsie Janis in San Francisco while still in his teens, and came to New York. He appeared in his first Broadway show in 1913, World of Pleasure. He appeared on Broadway in other shows with small parts, then became a star in George White’s Scandals of 1919. He reappeared in the Scandals in 1920 and 1921. A good friend of George Gershwin, Gershwin even wrote a musical for Holtz in 1925, Tell Me More, which was not received favorably and was short-lived on Broadway. Several years later, Holtz had a big hit on Broadway in 1931 when he hired his pianist to write a show for him. The pianist, Harold Arlen, would go on to write the music for The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Holtz produced You Said It. In the 1920s, Holtz became the highest paid entertainer on Broadway, with articles touting his salary as an unheard of $6,000 per week. Unfortunately for Holtz, all of that money was invested in the stock market. He later told friends that he came out of the 1929 crash with $500, while he had been worth more than a million dollars the year before. In the 1920s, Holtz’ career alternated between musical comedies and vaudeville shows where he was the headliner. He reached one of his career milestones in 1925 when he played the Palace Theater as the headliner. The Palace was the most prestigious theatre in the country, and Holtz broke all records there by playing for 10 weeks. In vaudeville shows and radio, Holtz’ comedy was based in telling long, character stories, usually with at least one character having a strong Jewish dialect. His most famous character, Sam Lapidus, stayed with Holtz for his entire career, including Holtz’ guest stints on the Merv Griffin Show in the 1970s. In the 1930s, while still appearing on Broadway, Holtz left New York twice for London and appeared in two hits at the London Palladium. Both shows were similar to his hit at the Palace years earlier. Also in the 1930s, Holtz became a regular on radio. He had long stints on The Rudy Vallee Show, The Paul Whiteman Show and many others. Holtz ended up with several radio shows of his own, including The Lou Holtz Laugh Club. One of the regulars on that show was Fanny Brice

Pretty soon the Holtzes were expecting a child, but since I could not find any additional information about it, we can assume that Phyllis lost of the baby. Their daughter Laurie Elizabeth was born on April 5, 1941 in Los Angeles.

Lou retired from performing by the time Laurie was born, and moved permanently to California. However, it seems that, like many men in the performing business when they retire, he was very restless and couldn’t’ stand still, always out of the house, and slowly but securely this eroded his marriage to Phyllis. After some tiffs, reconciliations and more of the same, they were divorced in 1947, exactly ten years after they married. Phyllis alleged that Holtz told her his home life was “boring.”

But guess what? Like most times in Tinsel town, seemingly mundane divorced were not really mundane and there were background processes happening. Phyllis already had a new husband in mind! She married Carl Leserman in November 1947. Here is a nice article about it:

Palm Springs was the scene of a wedding Saturday night at 11 p.m. when Mrs. Phyllis Holtz, exwife of the famous comedian, Lou Holtz, and Carl Leserman, well known film producer and vicepresident of Benedict Bogeaus Productions, were married at the home of a friend. Judge Eugene E. Therieau was summoned from his home at the late hour to perform the civil rites. FOLLOWING the marriage at which Grad Sears, president of United Artists, acted as best man, a champagne breakfast was given the newly wedded pair at The Stables with Charley Morrison acting as the host. Present at the breakfast which took place between the hours of 12 midnight and 2 a.m., were the following celebrities: ROBERT STERLING, William Cagney, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Hall, Mark Stevens, Diana Lynn, Bob Neal, Bob and Coletta Caldwell, Mr. and Mrs. Van Heflin, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Cushing, Mervyn M. Vye, Iris Bynum, Johnny Myers, Stewart Martin and Angela Green. The bride and her groom expect to honeymoon in Palm Springs for a few days before returning to Los Angeles.

There was a funny blooper during the ceremony. Two minutes after Phyllis married movie man Carl, he turned to her and said; “You know my wife, Mrs. Holtz?” Now something about Leserman. He was born on March 15, 1901, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Isaac and Elsie Leserman. He moved to California and became a producer, working in a variety of studios. After working for a time fon Benedict Bogeaus, ultimately he became Assistant General Sales Manager for Warner Brothers Pictures and General Manager for United Artists. The Lesermans lived happily in California.

Carl Leserman died on January 2, 1969. Phyllis continued living in California after his death, and did not remarry.

Phyllis Gilman Leserman died on July 21, 1996 in Riverside, California.

Edna Sedgewick

Beautiful ballet dancer that was a seasoned performer by the time she landed in Hollywood, Edna’s heart wasn’t really in the movie she made, and not surprisingly she gave up on Tinsel town to return to her firts love, the theater. Not long after she married and retired from showbiz, but later returned as a major philanthropist. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Edna Marie Sedgewick was born on April 30, 1915, in Providence, Rhode Island, to Harold Sedgewick and Mary Clita Smith Sedgewick, their only child. Her father was a toolmaker for a jewelry company and had his own store in providence. The family was considered semi/aristocratic, and belonged to the upper society in Rhode Island.

Edna was a pretty and outgoing child who enjoyed ballet very much. She grew up in Providence and attended school there. Her family was heavily involved in such charites as the Maple Center, Variety Clubs, and Edna started dancing when she was four at various charity events. Pretty soon it was clear that Edna had real talent in this area, and that dancing was to be her vocation. She studied ballet and by the time she was 15 years old, she was appearing in various shows and nightclubs.

During the 1930s, Edna performed for heads of state throughout Europe and became quite popular in New York. Eventually she danced her way to Hollywood where she signed with Universal.

CAREER

Edna appeared in only a few movies. The first one was You’re a Sweetheart, an Alice Faye/George Murphy comedy/musical, with a ridiculous story about a man hired to distract a leading Broadway actress from doing a show. Yep, it’s that in a nutshell (believe it or not). Most reviewers mention that the first half, with the romantic interplay between Alice and George, is pretty funny and good, but the second half, the Broadway show mounting, is not as thrilling and descends into pure mediocrity. At least there are plenty of pretty showgirls and good music! Edna played a ballet dancer.

Edna’s second movie was Red Barry, a serial with the famous serial king Buster Crabbe in the leading role. This is a movie serial which means it’s low budget but often inventive and certainly fan favorites. Red Barry is not famous as say, Flash Gordon, but it’s still a god watch. Crabbe plays a San Francisco police detective stationed in Chinatown, who is on the trail of stolen bonds needed for Chinese War Relief. Edna has a leading female role, exiled Russian Countess Natacha. The series has a very dynamic matching of the wits between the good and the bad guys, it very tense, but becomes somehow repetitive later on. Still, it’s a minor serial classic!

Edna’s last movie was Swing, Sister, Swing, a completely forgotten showcase for Kathryn “Sugar Kane” Kane, a songstress who MGM tried to make into a second coming of Mickey Rooney. When you look at the number of these ingenues who were supposed to replace sometime, it’s almost scary! Sugar Kane had much more success on the stage, and made only 8 movies, most of them completely forgotten, including this one. Edna was preeminently featured here, and it seems that MGM had big plans for her, but sadly, it was not to be.

That was all from Edna!

PRIVATE LIFE

Edna, called Sedge by friends, always remained connected to the hometown of Providence, and when she was a Hollywood starlet, 200 of her former Providence schoolmates went to see her at the opening of Ed Wynn’s “Boys and Girls Together” where she was a feature dancer.

Despite trying for a film career, Edna was a dancer at heart and left movies for a successful career in the theater, mostly in revenues like Casa Manana Revue. She was well known, far and wide, known for her grace and beauty and her lovely dancing skills.

Edna’s love life was quite sedate. Her first famous beau was Ted Lewis’ manager, Milt Pickman. When she was dancing in the Ed Wynn show, Dick Purcell, the celluloid glamour boy, were involved briefly. he was into her that he scheduled to fly his own plane to see her perform. Sadly for Edna, Dick was still married to Ethelind Terry so nothing came out of it. Her next serious beau was an unnamed member of the Brazilian embassy. He hired a busboy at the Copacabana to read his love notes for her! 

While traveling with a group of entertainers to Galveston, Edna met businessman Sam Maceo and they were soon married in Phil Harris and Alice Faye’s home in California on December 29, 1941. Now, who is Sam Maceo? As his Wikipedia page lists:

Sam Maceo was an American business entrepreneur, power broker and racketeer in Galveston, Texas, who controlled both the government and organized crime in the city for almost 30 years. During the 1920s and 1930s, Galveston emerged as a nationally known resort city, because of the gambling, prostitution and free flowing liquor, vices that were offered at the backrooms of restaurants and nightclubs, a period known as Galveston’s Open Era. His organization, often called the Maceo Syndicate or the Maceo Organisation, was involved in illegal gambling, prostitution, numbers racket and bootlegging and he received substantial income from these activities.

Yep, very interesting! Let’s dive more deeply into it! Here is a short excerpt of a very good article in the Texas Monthly.

It has been a long time since the name Maceo reverberated across the Island. The name means little or nothing to younger Islanders or newcomers, but to anyone over the age of fifty who was born on the Island, the name evokes the timeless magic of nostalgia. For thirty years the Maceos ran Galveston—economically, politically, spiritually. Papa Rose and Big Sam were the undisputed dons of the gang, and their brothers, Vincent and Frank, along with a number of cousins and in-laws, ran various parts of the operation. Gigolo managed the Studio Lounge on the second floor of the Turf Athletic Club, and other family members managed the Balinese Room, the Western Room, the Moulin Rouge, and a variety of Maceo ventures on the Island as well as the mainland part of Galveston County, which they also controlled; motorists driving south from Houston spoke of crossing the “Maceo-Dickinson Line.”

Smiling and personable, Sam was the face of the Maceo family. As a man of considerable charm and people skills, he build ties to politicians, hoodlums, entertainers and gamblers from all around the US. Maceo himself was born on March 1, 1894, in Palermo, Sicily. He was first married to Jessica McBride in Galveston prior to 1932 and they were divorced on November 8, 1941 (so we can assume there was some overlap between Edna and Jessica). By all accounts, is seems like the Maceos was a good marriage. Sam and Edna had three children, twin sons Sam Jr., Edward, born on August 18, 1942, and a daughter, Sedgie.

Here is a bit more more about Maceo:

The Maceos weren’t just businessmen with bottom-line orientations; they were genuine citizens who took an interest in local politics—they could buy an entire slate of candidates for $25,000—and were active in civic and charitable affairs. A pew at St. Mary’s Cathedral was reserved for Sam Maceo, his wife, and children, who almost always arrived late, occasionally in the company of some show business celebrity. When the chamber of commerce or the Mardi Gras committee or any church or charity needed a favor, Sam Maceo was their man. Sam sent orphans to college, kept widows from being evicted, and once a year paid the expenses for Monsignor O’Connoll, the director of St. Mary’s, to visit his dear mother in Ireland. After an explosion killed 576 people in the port of Texas City in 1947, Big Sam arranged for a few of his Hollywood friends to come to Galveston for a fundraiser. Among those who showed up were Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, George Burns, and Gracie Allen.

Since they were not old school Texans and WASPS, the Maceos were never really accepted into Galveston society. Edna liked glamour and being noticed and this didn’t sit very well with her. Sam was diagnosed with cancer in 1950, and when he became sick, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland, so he can get treatment. Sadly, he died there on April 16, 1951. Left a young widow and not really a good fit with the people of Galveston, Edna moved to Dallas to raise her children.

While living in Dallas, three years after Sam died, in 1954, Sedge met Henry Plitt on a blind date in New Orleans (where she was involved in producing a beauty pageant). They met on Monday and were married the following Saturday on August 14, 1954. Edna’s children by Maceo were adopted by Henry. The family moved to New Orleans five years later, then to New York City. Here is more information about Plitt, taken from his obituary:

He was a member of the New York State Bar when he joined the 101st Army Airborne Division before World War II. When he was discharged in 1946, he had been awarded four Purple Hearts for his various wounds, the Silver and Bronze stars, each with a cluster, and was among an elite group of paratroopers who jumped into occupied Holland and France, the latter during the D-Day invasion.

He came home a hero in 1944. After speaking for a time at war bond and other patriotic rallies, he was returned to Europe where he helped in the liberation of several concentration camps and was involved in the pursuit and capture of Nazi war criminals. He eventually was promoted to brigadier general.

At war’s end, he became an executive of Paramount Theatres and president of ABC Films in New York in 1959 after Paramount and ABC merged.

He subsequently acquired the Paramount chain and built it into Plitt Theatres, of which he was majority owner. The chain was sold to Cineplex Odeon Corp. in 1985. The sale included Plitt’s two screens in Century City.

Plitt, a graduate of Syracuse University and St. Lawrence University School of Law, was a major benefactor for Jewish organizations, among them the Beverly Hills Maple Center, a support group for troubled families. He also served as chairman of the National Board of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces–a USO-type organization–and was president of the West Coast Friends of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, which awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in 1991.

The family moved to New Orleans. Later, they moved to New York City. Edna was very active in the charitiy arena, and even founded her own Sedge Plitt Charitable Foundation which has been active for decades now. In the 1980s, Edna and Plitt moved to Beverly Hills to enjoy their retirement.

Henry Plitt died on January 26, 1993 in Beverly Hills. Edna continued living in California (moving to San Diego) and did not remarry.

Edna Plitt died on October 25, 2002, in San Diego. California.

Dottye Brown

Dottye Brown was a pretty Louisiana belle that got into Hollywood via the publicity gimmick way – and even played some credited roles! However, she son switched her career focus from movies to theater, ended up in Japan and her life changed dramatically! Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Dottye Dimple Brown was born on December 3, 1920, in Texarkana, Texas to John Spencer Brown and Melody Aletha Bryan. She was the one of seven children, five boys and two girls – her older brothers were Jerell, born on October 15, 1904, Algie Dee, born on March 8, 1910, Buell, O.D. and Doyle, and a younger sister, Peggy. Her father was a successful contractor and home builder.

The family moved to Shereveport, Louisiana in 1924 and stayed there for good. Dottye grew up as a a true southern belle in Shreveport, in a loving and supportive family. She graduated from Byrd high school and attended Centenary college, and was part of a sorority.

Dottye had a strong yen for acting, and after graduating from college, she got started on the road to Hollywood by acting in the local Little Theater productions. She was quite successful, as she won a minor Juvenile role In “Ah Wilderness” and got her notice on the front page of a local newspaper. She continued this with a number of Shreveport Little Theater productions including “The Barretts of Wimpole Street”. She also won the title of “Miss Louisiana” in 1946. However, this was hardly enough to make a living, so Dottye also served as a hostess for Delta Air Lines and a receptionist at radio station KWKH.

Here is a article about how Dottye ended up in Hollywood:

Louisiana’s latest offering to Hollywood, Dottye D. Brown, Shreveport, began her evening of triumph an intent contestant before a microphone, reading her lines with Bob Wayne. An actor in the Jimmie Davis film, Wayne read with the 27 girls who competed here Wednesday night in the finals of the statewide search for a Louisiana girl to play in the movie. Second photo, the vivacious brunette hears her name read as winner of the contest, which carried prizes of a Monogram studio contract, a trip to Cuba, and a diamond ring, award from a local jewelry store. Behind her, two local contestants, Evelyn Clair Hollis, left, Bossier City, and Patsy Harris, Shreveport, beam their approval of the judges’ choice. Third photo, Dottye thanks everyone who helped her to Hollywood, while Fred Messenger, casting director for Monogram studio, looks approvingly at the newest addition to his talent list. Messenger told Dottye to finish her work in the Little Theater production of “The Barretts of Wimpole Street,” then “report to him. Fourth photo, she signs the contract that Messenger held for her. “I’m too excited to read it, but I’m sure it’s all right,” was her comment on this official business. Then she asked her brother Algie D. Brown, an attorney, to check it for her. The youngest of seven children, Dottye is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Brown, 865 Julia. Fifth photo, she admires the ring that Charlie Mitchell, executive assistant to Governor Davis, slipped on her finger. Her brother Algie looks on. Yesterday things were still a bit unreal to Dottye. The trip to Cuba, her gift from Shreveport Jaycees, will be made before she goes to Hollywood, if her schedule works out correctly.

And off she went!

CAREER

Dottye signed right away for a Poverty row studio, and appeared in mostly low budget movies. You can find real gems hidden in there, but it seems that Dottye’s offers were not that outstanding.

She was ushered to Hollywood to play a role in Louisiana, a semi musical semi biographical drama about the rocky but always interesting life of a young artistically inclined Jimmie Davis. When you read the summary, you head will spin from all the stuff that happened to our Jimmie! First he was a poor boy, but then finished college, but started singing, also became a court clerk, then became a politician, then fought against rackets… Colorful for sure! Sadly, the movie is so obscure today it doesn’t have any IMDB reviews and I can’t gauge at how the public perceived it at the time. But they really did so some PR stunts to get as publicity as they could. Stars on the Shreveport, LA, premiere junket included Gale Storm, June Preisser, John Gallaudet, Roddy McDowall, Freddie Stewart, Dottye and producer Lindsley Parsons. They sure made a big hullabaloo around it!

The studio liked Dottye and signed her for further roles. Next up was a something that low budget studios did often – low budget western! Song of the Wasteland doesn’t sound too promising, nor does the leading man, who I never heard of (I’m far from being an expert, but know the most famous low budget cowboys, and Jimmy Wakley ain’t one of them). The plot sounds like a typical good guy versus the greedy guys, in a word, nothing spectacular but fine enough for that kind of a movie I guess (taken from IMDB):

Ranger Jimmy Wakely joins a medicine show heading for Buffalo Flats. The vigilantes there have been evicting innocent ranchers and he has been sent to investigate. The evicted ranchers blame Steve Crane the head of the vigilantes but Jimmy soon learns that his assistant Lance Bennett is the culprit. But before Jimmy can get evidence against Bennett, he is framed and put in jail. Sadly, as with most

Unfortunately, Dottye’s moments of featured roles ended here. She appeared int two more movie,s and both were uncredited. The first one was Campus Sleuth, a typical young people play detective movie, and this time on a college campus. What makes it a kind of a old Hollywood memorabilia is that a famous vaudeville artist, Mildred Jorman–Little Miss Cornshucks, appeared and sang in it. It’s her only video recorded performance. It seems that a lot of people want to see it for this reason alone, sadly it’s only available tough private channels and not officially up for purchase. The movie seems to be a cookie cutter one, more or less the same as many of Monogram flicks of that time.

Dottye’s last movie was Incident, a solid B class noir. Warren Douglas plays a regular guy who turns down a ride, misses his bus and decides to walk and things start to happen to him. He gets mixed up for someone else, get beaten and decides to investigate. Things get messy pretty soon, but alas he meets a woman, played by Jane Frazee, who becomes his love interest. The plot is convoluted in places and it’s a tight budgeted movie, but does raise some interesting questions about how seemingly small decisions can change our life (or do they?). All in all, noir fans would enjoy this one!

That was all from Dottye!

PRIVATE LIFE

While living in Hollywood, Dottye resided in a studio club and enjoyed acting for it’s own sake, and also never lost her love for the theater.

Here is a short newspaper bit about Dottye:

Hollywood has kept this chic southern miss busy. At home, in Shreveport, she often played in the Little . Theater and she still loves the stage. She has accepted a part an a forthcoming church production of “The Happy Journey” here. Also, her studio has prescribed weekly lessons with a dramatic coach for her. Dottye is an attractive, blue-eyed, former sorority :girl. Any success she may have in pictures won’t change her very much, she’s sure. Publicists made one change, however, the first day she was at the studio. They lopped three years off her age to make her a fashionable 23

Just when you tough, yeah, she’s gong for a movie career, life intervened and things change! Dottye changed from movie acting to radio production work. Here is how:

 Dottye Brown Signs Radio Contract Shreveport’s Dottye Brown now working in Hollywood has signed a contract to appear on the Hank McCune radio comedy show aired over the National Broadcasting Co network according to information received here McCune considered one of the leading West Coast radio comedians will have his program broadcast nationally in the fall . Dottye was persuaded to Join the radio program after McCune’ saw her in a show presented at the Hollywood Bowl.

In 1948 Dottye went to Japan to organize and direct shows for a special service group providing entertainment for American army and air corps personnel overseas for the fifth United States air force at Kagoya. There she met Lieut. John Roeland Mason of the United States Air Force. They were smitten with each other and married on June 18, 1948 in St. Luke’s chapel in Tokyo, with a reception at The American club. Following their marriage, the couple remained In Tokyo where John was to be stationed for another year. The family finally returned to the US in 1951. They lived for a time in Texas, where John was stationed in the Lackland Air Force base.

The couple’s first child was born in Tokyo, daughter Sharon. After moving around from base to base (living for a time in Berlin, Germany and Biloxi, Mississippi), the family settled in Burlingame, California, where their three younger children were born: Sally Ann (October 13, 1956), Michael (June 14, 1954) and Stephen. Dottye had given up her career for marital bliss, but she acted on the side when she could.

Sadly, in 1967, Dottye’s son Michael, only 13 years old, died from a heart disease. The Masons became active charity donors and tireless workers for the foundation that takes care of coronary patients.

Dottye and John had a wonderful marriage and were very devoted to each other. After his retirement they moved to Rancho Murietta, CA, where they spent their golden years, moving to Sacramento at some point.

Dottye Brown Mason died on December 20, 2003, in Sacramento. Her widower John Mason died on January 15, 2006.

Annelle Hayes

Beautiful college educated girl who landed in Hollywood in the early 1940s because of a beauty pageant, Annelle had a potentially rough road in front of her, with no acting background nor theatrical experience. However, she had some powerful men to protegee her. Unfortunately, she chose to get married and raise a family. A short-lived revival of her career was in the cards in the early 1960s, but let’s learn more about her first!

EARLY LIFE

Elizabeth Annelle Hayes was born on November 13, 1924 in Tupelo, Mississippi, to James Palmer Hayes and Elizabeth Davis. Her younger siblings were Alligene, born in 1930, and James, born on December 29, 1931. Her father owned and operated a wholesale shoe company.

The family lived for a short time in Tupelo, then moved to Tyler, Texas. Annelle grew up in Tyler and attended elementary school there, then the family moved to Dallas, where she graduated from high school. Annelle then enrolled into the University of Texas at Austin.

How Annelle landed in Hollywood is a funny story in itself, and totally in the madcap Tinsel town style. One day, Annelle won a beauty contest at the University of Texas. Paramount immediately contacted her and brought her to Hollywood for a screen test. The test failed to satisfy studio bosses, so Annelle was sent back to Texas. Two days later, before she had finished unpacking her bags, a Warner Bros, scout paid her a visit and signed her to contract. She became the protegee of the legendary filmmaker, Howard Hawks, who put her under contract at 20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles. She was now in Hollywood again, and her career started!

CAREER

Annelle appeared in only three movies during her strangely stretched out career.

George White’s Scandals For ambitious chorus girls who wanted to taste the movie life, George White’s movies were paradise. A man well known for his taste in women, and, much like Busby Berkeley, George White made lavish musicals featuring a large number of dancers. Also like Berkeley, his movies had a paper thin plot, the lead was normally a Mary Sue and characters were mostly one dimensional. The above mentioned movie is no different, it’s pure escapist fare you watch once and forget soon after.

The funny thing is that while this is a George White movie, White himself is extraneous to this story which concerns two backstage plots. White’s number one assistant Philip Terry falls for Martha Holiday, whose mother, back in the day, was chorus girl in the Scandals but who married English nobility and retired. Now Holiday is trying chorusing out but lets no one know, including Terry. Holiday also has Jane Greer as a rival who is pretty ruthless about getting her way.

The best part of the movie is a love story, but not the main love story. Here is another review from IMDB:

Where it is very funny (and very worth watching) is for the teaming of Joan Davis and Jack Haley as musical revue comics who have to deal with the fact that Haley’s spinster sister (the wonderful Margaret Hamilton) does not approve of her brother being in show business and is determined to keep Davis from marrying him no matter what. Davis and Haley are perfectly matched, and of course it is a delight to see Hamilton playing sister to her “Wizard of Oz” co-star (Haley).

Yes, the movie is a funny and amusing farce when Haley/Davis are on the screen, and it becomes a mush, a bland exercise in romance when Martha and Phillip Terry. On other words, mostly boriiing but watchable for the lavish dance scenes and Haley/Davis.

Her second movie was Deadline at Dawn, a film noir. Now this is a movie that can always surprise you – small budget, but plenty of talented people who know their job, and we have some movie magic! The backbone of the movie is definitely the Harold Curlman/Clifford Odets combo of director and screenwriter. And then we have a wave of B actors who all do their jobs nicely – Bill Williams, Paul Lukas, Osa Massen, Lola Lane. And of course, the redheaded queen of Hollywood, Susan Hayward herself! The story is both straightforward and simple yet a portal to many burning social problems (typical for Odets) – When a woman he meets is murdered, a soon-to-ship-out sailor has until dawn to find the killer, aided by a weary dance hall girl. Odets gives us a glimpse of all kinds of people who lives on the fringes of society, around the docks, and snaps quite a strong socially conscious moment.

Annelle took time of to raise a family, and only returned back to acting in 1960, and then she mostly did TV work. But there was one more movie. Yes, it was the case the best for last – Annelle appeared in a A budget western, Two Rode Together!, making it by far the most high profile movie Annelle made. Just look at the cast – James Stewart, Richard Widmark, Shirley Jones, Linda Cristal! The story, in a nutshell (taken from IMDB): Desperate relatives spend years searching for their loved beings abducted by Indians in this lengthy Western . The US Army is under pressure from the families of white captives of the Comanches . A Texas marshal, Guthrie McCabe (James Stewart), is persuaded by an army lieutenant (Richard Widmark) and a Major (John McIntire) to negotiate with the Comanches to secure their rescue and for the return of captives . But the expedition results to be a flop. However, just two prisoners are released ; their reintegration into community proves to be highly difficult , and complications , problems ensue. Yep, this is a mature western dealing with more than gun fights, and it sounds interesting, and it’s brilliant seeing Stewart playing a morally ambiguous character.

That was it from Annelle!

PRIVATE LIFE

Annelle was the protegee of Howard Hawks, the famous director, but sadly it seems that the connection didn’t do anything particular for her career, and soon Hawks was looking for new protegees and Annelle was quitting movies! It is open for debate whatever they were romantically involved, since Howard Hawks wasn’t Howard Hughes and didn’t try to get every girl he signed a contract with into bed.

Annelle had a passionate and turbulent relationship with actor Mark Stevens. They met in 1944 after Annelle saw and liked his picture on a publicity office wall, and probably tried to get in touch with him. They dated only briefly before they got engaged, but had a major problem in trying to find somewhere to live (as it was the WW2 house shortage at that time) – as they told friends, had been planning to marry, and will as soon as they find an apartment. Then, it was decided that the date would be in July 1945, but they married hastily in January 1945 when a first vacant apartment was ready!

Now something about Stevens. He was born on December 13, 1916, in Cleveland, Ohio, of Irish extraction. A rebellious youth, he grew up in England and Canada, and was expelled from several schools before finding his niche as a radio singer first in Ohio, then in California. He was soon noted by Hollywood, and signed to a contract in 1943, playing bit roles. His star was rising just as he married Annelle – pretty soon, he would play opposite such stars like Lucille Ball and Olivia de Havilland. Here is a short article about him during that time:

Mark, a Cleveland, Ohio, boy, was under contract to Warner Bros, for a year, playing everything from an extra in The Doughgirls” to the lead in a B western, Roaring Guns,” but when the good roles came around, he missed all of them. Hollywood is a daffy place,” he says. For two years I wasn’t right for anything. Now I seem to be right for everything.” When he first landed in Hollywood, after six years in radio as actor and announcer, he was so broke he tried to get a Job in a war plant But a trio of agents, Charley and Nat Gold-stone and Herb Tobias, had faith in him. They loaned him money for clothes, bought him a car.. Now their investment is paying big dividends. Hes married to a Texas beauty, Annelle Hayes. He has naturally curly hair, but hates it. After one attempt with a decurling fluid which took his hair along with the curl, he lets a studio hairdresser straighten It out every morning with an iron. ‘

The Stevens had two children: Mark Richard, born on September 30, 1946, and Arrelle Elizabeth, born on November 1, 1951. However, the marriage was anything but smooth – they separated for the first time in 1947, when Mark Richard was just 9 months old. Mark said to the papers that “We had a fight Sunday nigh. It’s a ease of absolute incompatibility”

Anelle asked for a court order to prevent the actor from disposing of community property valued at about $100,000 and support for their son, Mark, jr. During this nasty spat, Mark wasted no time in finding female company, and dated Hedy Lamarr. They were seen golfing together during a hot Lake Tahoe vacation, and was seen by the press greeting her affectionately when she returned by plane. After Hedy, he got mixed up with Rita Hayworth, too. That all ended, and Annelle and Mark reconciled after a few months spat time, but not after some major drama and even more drama. Annelle gave up her career afterwards to raise their children, and didn’t act for more than 10 years.

Mark’s career, on the other hand, sagged in the early 1950s. He left Paramount and signed with Allied Artists, often playing bland male love interest to a bigger female star (Rhonda Fleming, Ann Blyth). He switched to TV in the mid 1950s, and only occasionally made a movie appearance. Always a restless spirit, Mark moved to Europe in the late 1950s and spent a decade operating a restaurant in Spain, thus he and Annelle were de facto separated. Here is what a contemporary gossip columnist had written about Mark:

Mark Stevens has been living here for three years and has written two books. He tells me his is a quiet existence and he’ hasn’t spoken English for two years. He gets on a slow boat to Los Angeles, a seven week voyage, then goes on to Mexico I to write another book. He told I me something of the plot of his latest which sounds exciting.

I think it was Annelle who pulled the plug, for good, in June 1961. Mark’s rather nomadic existence didn’t help matters at all, and he was declared bankrupt not long after the divorce.

Why did Annelle finally divorce Mark, after all that years of drama and ups and downs? Well, because there was another man she wanted to marry, and marry she did!

On November 25, 1961, Annelle married William Paul Warwick, vice president In charge of special programs for an important TV company. Earlier that same year, Warwick flew to Juarez, Mexico, and secured a divorce from his long estranged wife. They were married when his family flew out here to attend the ceremony. Warwick was born in 1925, the son of H. P. Warwick, of Warwick and Legler, one of New York’s top advertising agencies. He grew up in affluence in New York. He was married in 1951 to Eloise Mc Elhone They had two children: Christine and Carole Warwick. Here is a short article about the family business, Warwick and Legler, taken from William’s brother John obituary:

John dedicated 42 years of his life building one of New York’s most prominent advertising agencies that was originally started under the name, Warwick & Legler in 1939. The name was later changed to Warwick Advertising, and finally, Warwick, Baker, O’Neill. John served as Chairman and CEO for 33 years and retired in 1991. With over 250 employees at their height in their New York City office, and 75 in their European offices, Warwick became an internationally recognized agency with offices in Paris, London, Frankfurt & Brussels. “Warwick Advertising” as it was commonly known, was considered a creative pioneer and, under John’s stewardship, was responsible for many highly successful and noteworthy advertising campaigns. Some of the agency’s clients included, Timex, Seagram’s, Revlon, Pfizer, Mennen, Bausch & Lomb, Benjamin Moore, US Tobacco, Fruit of the Loom, Burlington Industries, Schering-Plough, Air Canada, Schaefer, Heineken and Amstel Light beers, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Sterling Drug. Warwick Advertising was a member of the Alliance International partnership of independent agencies that serviced clients with international needs. John also believed strongly in using the agency’s talents to engage in Pro Bono and public service work. The Joseph E. Seagram & Sons company entrusted Warwick with some of their most prized brands such as 7 Crown, VO, Extra Dry Gin, Crown Royal Whisky and others for over 46 years. Warwick Advertising also enjoyed a multi-decade relationship with United States Tobacco.

The Warwick settled in Los Angeles and enjoyed a nice and comfy life (I assume). Annelle had a knack for all things connected to beauty and style, and with the help of her husband she opened up her own interior decorating firm, Warwick Interior Design. She would head the first for over twenty five years. Noted projects included the renovation of the private boxes at the previous Yankee Stadium and residences in Paris and Caracas.

The Warwick marriage failed when Annelle met and fell hard for Richard Savitt, the noted tennis player. She divorced Warwick in the mid 1980s and got together with Savitt. The couple moved to New York and settled there permanently. They married in 1987. Her former husband Warrick died on August 2, 1991.

Dick Savitt looks like an interesting man. Here is a brief summary of Dick’s professional success as a tennis player (taken from Jewish sports web page):

In 1951, Dick Savitt won the Wimbledon Singles Championship, the Australian Singles title, and was the number one player on the United States Davis Cup Team. In his prime, Savitt was considered the greatest back-court player in the game and was ranked third in the World in 1951 by World Tennis. That year Savitt was No. 2 in the world, and in his prime was considered the greatest backcourt player in the game.

The 6’3”, 180 lb. Cornell University graduate ranked four times in the World’s Top Ten between 1951 and 1957––No. 2 in 1951; and six times in the U.S. Top Ten between 1950 and 1959––No. 2 in 1951. (Interestingly, the player ranked ahead of Savitt on the 1951 U.S. list, Vic Seixas, was ranked No. 4 in the World, two spots below Savitt on the more weighty World roster. It should also be noted that Savitt did not compete 1953-1955.)

Although at the top of his game, Savitt abruptly retired from competitive tennis after winning the 1952 U.S. National Indoor Singles Championships. Although he has never publicly discussed his sudden retirement, it was considered most likely the result of a never-explained snub by the United States Davis Cup coaching staff.

Savitt had played and won his early 1951 Cup matches en route to leading the American team into the championship round against Australia. His coaches, however, did not permit him to compete against the Aussies whom, only months earlier, he had dominated
at Wimbledon and in Australia. He had trounced Australia’s top seed Ken Mc-Gregor in three straight sets to win at Wimbledon and won the Australian Singles championship, becoming the first non-Aussie to win that title in 13 years. To the surprise of few, with Savitt not
playing singles, the United States lost the 1951 Davis Cup to Australia.

Savitt returned to the competitive tennis scene part-time in 1956, and though his limited tournament competition prevented him from receiving an official ranking, he was nonetheless considered the number one player in the United States.

Among Dick Savitt’s major victories are the 1952, 1958, and 1961 U.S. National Indoor Championships. He was the first to win that crown three times. In 1961, he won both the Singles and Doubles (with Mike Franks) Championships at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Savitt was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1976.

Dick was married once before, to Joyce H Smith, in 1960, and to Tracy Vollovick in 1982.

In Dick, Annelle had found the love of her life, and they lived a full and happy life in the Big apple.

Sadly Annelle suffered from Parkinson’s disease in her last years,but was cared with much love by her husband and children.

Annelle Warwick Savitt died at her home on March 25, 2013, in New York City, New York.

Georgia Lerch

Stunning chorus girl who tried Hollywood and decided it was not for her, Georgia Lerch was somehow different. She was much lauded by her contemporaries and by the papers, and it seems that even outside movies, her career was going to go upwards. However all the promising future fell away in a daze of alcohol. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Georgia Lerch was born on August 14, 1906 in Fulton, New York, the second child of John D. Lerch and Eloise Brockway. Her older brother John was born in 1904, but sadly died before Georgia was born. Her father was a wholesale cigar merchant.

Georgia grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where the family moved in the 1910s. She took dancing lessons and as a child, and developed a passion for appearing on the stage. After graduating from high school, she decided to become a professional dancer, and looked for work in the theater circuit.

In 1926, Georgia scored work in one of the best places to be as a chorine – George White’s Scandals! She was a chorine from 1926 until 1932. In 1930, she went with the other chorines to appear in Whooppe as a chorus girl, and there she went!

CAREER

Georgia appeared in only one movie – Whoopee!, an Eddie Cantor vehicle considerably cut down from the original Broadway show. But what can I say, it’s a typical Cantor movie, anyone who loves Cantor and that 1920s humor style will love it. Cantor plays Henry Williams, a nervous hypochondriac who goes west looking for a cure for his myriad of ailments and get involved in trouble along the way. There are a few good supporting players (Ethel Shutta, Paul Gregory, Jack Rutherford). While not the bottom of the barrel, the movie didn’t age well at all, since, sadly, it’s a typical product of it’s time in relation to blackface and racial stereotypes. 

That was it from Georgia!

PRIVATE LIFE

Georgia was described as a witty, experienced and clever, and extreme knowledgeable about Showbiz (so much they said she know it from A to Z). Additionally, she was called a poised, calm and ladylike person, who often smiled but rarely laughed out loud. This served her well in her work, and perhaps separated her from many of her contemporaries.

No, jokes aside, it seemed that Georgia truly was a special woman. Allegedly George White preferred her to all of his pretty chorus girls, and since he had more than a hundred, that is saying something. He trusted her implicitly and often sent photographers to take her photos for publicity purposes. I don’t know is per chance his interest was more than business, but the point is, she had a special place in the show and White thought highly of her.

So how did such a woman, a successful chorus girl who enjoyed a contemporary life in New York, end up a alcoholic? One that one is a question for the ages. Nobody really known what pushed people of so deep in addition, and I can’t say for sure for Georgia, but perhaps it was the dynamic life that chorines led, that was not suited for all girls? Perhaps it was an unhappy love? Or something else? But let’s hear more about her life first and we can make some conclusions!

But first, a secret talent of Georgia’s: She was actually handy with tinkering with stuff, and in 1926 invented a powder puff that will could carry three shades at once. She knows how to apply them all. She toured around the US to promote her patent, showing women how to use it.

In the late 1920s, when she was a White showgirl, Georgia liked to live a quiet life outside the limelight, not frequenting night clubs too much. When Georgia was in Hollywood for making Whoopee, she enjoyed going to the beach (and soaking in the California sun), but pretty soon became aware of the fact that she much preferred theater to the movies. She missed mixing with other chorines before a show, and decided to return to New York as as soon as the movie wrapped.

After she returned to New York, Georgia dated Dave Marx, a young and dynamic head of a very successful toy company (along with his brother, Louis Marx), from late 1931 until 1934. Dave was a rich young man, and Dave and Georgia almost shared the same birth day – he was born on August 11, she was born in August 14. It was a tempestuous relationship, with many ups and down, but never boring! Dave was really quite generous towards Georgia, gifting her with a string of pearls for her birthday. Georgia was a home-girl before, but it seems that Marx changed that and rushed her to be more extroverted and more outgoing. Pretty soon they both enjoyed mingling with the same showbiz crew. One of their mutual friends was famous comedian Tom Patricola, who drove from Philly to Manhattan and back again for a matinee, just to spend New Year’s in the big town , with them. They also hanged out with Dave’s brother Luis and his wife, and the great Ziegfeld was another mutual friend (but sadly he died in June 1932). Dave also took Georgia often to Miami, and they were usually guests at the Miami Biltmore Hotel.

There was also some talk that Dave’s money netted Georgia the place of a featured dancer, but I can’t say nothing substantial over this (information is lost to history perhaps). She did leave George White during this time. I would like to know more about what happened behind the scenes here, but info is lacking. Maybe Dave promised her own show, and it didn’t pan out, or perhaps White didn’t liek Georgia dating Dave. Who knows.

Georgia was also lucky in the gambling stakes, she hit one of those 2-bit machines for the largest jack-pot recorded. 

After what had seemed like a sure bet at matrimony, Dave left Georgia in early 1934, after an explosion that rocked Miami. What does that mean? Anyway, they got together again by June 1934, but were out by the end of the summer. In September 1934, Georgia went on a cruise around the world with her parents, perhaps to mend her broken heart? Afterwards, with no Dave in sight and long gone from the George White scandals, Georgia decided to move to Los Angeles, and the Lerches all decided to move with her. They settled in Beverly Hills in early 1935. I wonder is this when her alcoholism blew up? Was her unhappy love life the cause, after she and Marx parted? As I noted, I have no idea, but we can assume.

There was a nasty tidbit that happened to Georgia in 1935:

Meanwhile, Georgia Lerch, 30. of 2818 Haddington Drive, was re covering from shock and exposure alter having been pinned’ beneath her automobile for more than ten hours after the vehicle plunged out of control over a cliff near the crest of Coldwater Canyon Drive. She was found by two hikers, William Harris and Jack Mohl, early yesterday, her foot pinned by pert of the car. Removed to a county fire station she was found to have received only a bruised foot from the accident but was suffering from shock and exposure. Later she was taken to her home.

While living in California, Georgia developed a love for aviation and mingled with the local airplane set. It was there that she met her future husband, Ted Brown. They were wed on April 28, 1937.

Theo T. (Ted) Brown,was born on October 13, 1906, in Missouri, and lived in Iowa before moving to California for work. He was an owner of an aeronautical school and very active in the local airplane set.

If we were hoping for a happy marriage, nein! Sadly, this happened next year:

She might have been sweet Georgia Brown when she married ” Mr. Brown but a few months later she was just Georgia Brown. Thus declared Mrs. Georgia Lerch Brown when she came to the Domestic Relations Court of Superior Judge Still to get $125 per month temporary alimony pending her suit for a divorce against Ted Brown, aeronautics school operator. The Browns’ romance culminated in marriage in Yuma, Ariz., on April 28, 1037, and ceased to exist with their separation last July 30, the wife related. Some of the complaints of Mrs. Brown were that her husband had a propensity for staying out late at nights, associating with other women, striking her and becoming intoxicated. She also declared through Attorney Milton Golden that he insisted that, she not wear her wedding ring in public because it might injure him in his business capacity.

They were on and off for most of 1938, going back and forth, and were even reconciled for a time but separated for good in 1939 and finally divorced. Brown told the court that Georgia and he went out together and she would become Intoxicated and so abusive to his acquaintances that he lost business contacts. It seems that her drinking was out of control by then.

As for Brown, he remarried to Josephine in 1941, divorced her and married Marylinda Miller in 1956. He continued living in California, where he died in May 1988.

Not the one to waste time, Georgia married her new beau, Howard Morrell Davis, on January 30, 1941. Davis was born on May 9, 1901, in Georgia. By 1920 the family had moved to Sacramento, California, where the owned a farm. George worked as a farm laborer on the family farm, and later became a bee keeper. It seems he was never married before. Interesting to know how Georgia met Howard, it doesn’t seem like they moved in same circles but as they say, love conquers all!

Sadly, their marital bliss was not to last. Georgia died from peritonitis, caused by alcoholism, on January 20, 1942. She was just 35 years old.

Her widower, Howard Davis, died in May 1985.

Vivian Keefer

A contemporary and close friend of Lucille Ball, Vivian Keefer was another good-looking chorus girl who tried to make good in Hollywood. Unfortunately, her career didn’t pan out the way she planned it, and deciding to try out other revues in life, she returned to New York. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Vivian Keefer was born on June 4, 1909 in Spokane, Washington, to Louis Charles Keefer and Sophia Morinda Grace. She was the third of seven children. Her older brother Keifer was stillborn in 1907, and her sister, Mildred Grace, would die from tuberculosis at age 15 in 1922. Her other siblings were Irma, Beth and Lawrence. Her father worked as a railway motorman.

The family moved to Alameda, California when Vivian was a few years old. She grew up in Alameda, and attended Pasadena High School. Vivian developed a yen for dancing early on, and for years roller skated miles to take her dancing lessons in order to save money. She also became a ward of Aletha Gilbert., who was well known socially in the city. Her parents divorced during this time, and her dad remarried.

After graduation, Vivian enrolled into the University of Southern California. While enjoying the student life, Viv felt a strong stage yearning after years of training, and became a dancer in a picture-house presentation unit. With the unit, she toured around a bit, ending up in Oklahoma City. From there she paid her own fare to Broadway and promptly landed in the chorus of “Girl Crazy.” 

She was the only western girl to win a role in the Earl Carroll Vanities (of both 1931 and 1932) on Broadway. She also worked as a model on the side, and became quite famous for her Listerine ad. This got her the interest of Hollywood, and off she was to the West Coast!

CAREER

Vivian appeared in a string of musicals as a chorus girl, never playing a serious straightforward role.

Vivian made her debut in Roman Scandals, a movie that is a literal golden mine if you are looking for shapely Goldwyn girls. The girls aside, it’s a very funny movie, with a good cast and some great dancing numbers – exactly what a quality 1930s musical should be – definitely one of Eddie Cantor’s best work.

This was followed by a show girl role in Moulin Rouge, a charming but shallow pre-code comedy with Constance Bennett playing dual roles of a sexy nightclub singer and a prim and proper lady, with the even charming Franchot Tone playing the husband. As you can imagine when there are dual roles involved, it’s about mistaken identities and so on. Predictable, but fun non the less.

Next up, and interesting, early and sadly forgotten Spencer Tracy film, Bottoms Up. The movie has much to recommend itself, not just Tracy as a likable hero-villain, but a strong supporting cast including John Boles (although I don’t like the man, he was super wooden) and some seriously snappy dialogue. Less known was Viv’s next movie, Strictly Dynamite. While thin on the story, this comedy makes it up with the two leads, Jimmy Durante and Lupe Velez – both seasoned comedians who know their job. And an interesting duo they are too. Durante is a true relic of the vaudeville age, and that’s not that bad per se, he’s full of witty one liners and cool sayings. Too bad most directors didn’t know how to properly utilize him.

Then came a minor classic, The Gay Divorcee, a Astaire/Rogers pairing, and, not at all surprisingly, a very charming, good movie overall. As if often is in these kind of films, it’s a plot-case of mistaken identity and misunderstanding, but somehow it just works marvelously and the music and dancing are divine!

Vivian’s last movie was  Kid Millions, one of Eddie Cantor’s best movies. It’s a film about a simple Brooklyn boys who inherits a large sum of money but must go to Egypt to reclaim it. The superb supporting cast (Ann Sothern, George Murphy, Ethel Merman, Doris Davenport) make this a true delight for any musical fan!

That was all from Vivian!

PRIVATE LIFE

Vivian was shipped to Hollywood with six other New York starlets – among them the most famous one was Lucille Ball. It seems that Viv and Lucy were good friends, and that they even lived together with the other girls in an apartment to minimize the costs of living in Tinsel Town. Another starlet among those six who had at least a solid career was Barbara Pepper.

Viv gave an beauty hint to the readers which goes like this:

Although it’s only three blocks from my home to the Studio, I ride a bicycle to and from work because I like the exercise. Besides, with the bicycle on the lot, it’s easy at odd moments to pedal about —and that’s more exercise, as well as fun!

Another interesting tidbit about Viv:

 STAGE stars frequently receive letters threatening them with death unless they pay ransom, and it isn’t always a press agent stunt. Vivian Keefer, a lovely member of one of the revue ensembles, received such a letter recently, and it is pleasant to report that the day designated for her execution passed with nothing happening.

In 1934, Viv dated the colorful Mack Sennett, the guy who literary invented the slapstick comedy. So yeah, Viv literary dated a living legend! Sadly, Mack was past his prime time by the early 1930s, and not having a grand time out of it. Also, not long before the two hooked up, Mack survived a very nasty car accident that killed his friend, Charlie Mack.

Mack and Viv were together for almost a year, and the papers were constantly buzzing about possible nuptials. However, it seems that Mack, who was a lifelong bachelor, wasn’t ready to take any woman to the altar, and the broke up. Afterwards, Viv dated a string of guys: an unknown guy who wasn’t divorced yet, Dr. Irwin Epstein, a mysterious Texas oil millionaire, several actors and so on.

Viv gave up her career in 1935, but still stuck around the West coast. This happened in July 1936:

“l said we’d better not go through with this, but she Insisted.” test! fled J. F. Knemeyer, 21 years of age. yesterday when he unsuccessfully sought an annulment of his marriage in the court of Superior Judge Wood. Knemeyer, student at the University of Southern California, related that his romance with Vivian Keefer Knemeyer, 23, began last May on a local tennis court and that the two became, intoxicated! and started for Yuma to be married. The marriage took place on May 28 after she had dared him to marry her, Knemeyer said. A few hours later she told him it was only a Joke and that she did not intend to live with him. Mrs. Knemeyer corroborated his testimony, j ‘An automobile is a dangerous instrumentality,” declared Judge wood as he pointed out that any one, who could drive to Yuma with out getting a traffic ticket must have been sober enough to realize what it meant to get married.”

Viv returned to New York, did some more stage work, and then become a horse-breeder, horse owner and trainer. She commuted to Florida and learned what she could from the local conditioner of racing strips. In the meantime, her mother, by now divorced from her father, was also a very successful businesswoman. She operated a taxi business and also had a record shop. While in New York, Vivian met the man who would become her next husband – Louis Wood Jr..

Louis Wood Jr. was born on October 25, 1891, in, Memphis, Tennessee to Louis Wood and Norma Goodman. His father was a very rich man, an Alabama cotton tycoon, and Louis grew up in an affluent environment. He lived in Tennessee until he moved to New York in the 1920s and became a successful stock broker. Wood had a very intense private life before he met Vivian. He was married six times to five different women. His first wife was socialite Mary Louise Hartje, daughter of a Pennsylvania magnate, and they had a daughter, Corinne, born in 1919. Mary Louise even went to Hollywood to try to become an actress for a short time. She was known as the “richest movie extra in the world”. However, their marriage was anything but smooth sailing. They divorced for the first time in 1922, remarried in 1923 and later divorced acrimoniously in 1929.

There was much drama over the custody of their daughter, Corinne. Louis married for the third time to actress Mary Duncan on June 2, 1931. They divorced the next year, and she married the very rich polo player Laddie Sanford. In 1934 he married to Marian Wood, and they divorced in 1938 in another dramatic divorce. Wood accused his wife of sleeping with six other men, and there was much commotion in court during the proceedings. It seems that Woods sure had plenty of drama in his divorce cases!

He married once again in 1944, to Selma Freeman, but she divorced him next year in more explosive divorce cases that made the papers. Example of what was said on the stand: Selma and Louis get married in Baltimore. 18 days later, Louis gives Selma a severe tongue lashing and tosses her out of the apartment. This so unnerves her that she takes her dog and walks around the streets waiting for him to cool off. On the walk she loses a necklace and has to put up a $250 reward to get it back. But Louis refuses to pay the reward, and the necklace goes to a hock shop. What can I say, it seems that Louis had a trigger temper and was a jovial and charming man, but when sparks flew (which is bound to happen to any married couple sooner or later), he was very difficult.

While Louis’ track record wasn’t that good, but was bound to get better. How? Well, it seems that Louis had finally piped down on the drama, changed and accordingly, when he was settled, met and married the right woman. I don’t have an exact date, but it was sometime in the late 1940s.

In the mid 1950s, after his retirement, Louis and Vivian moved full time to Palm Beach, Florida, enjoying the rich local social life. Viv became very active in philanthropically minded endeavors, and was a member of the Beach Club and Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

Louis Wood Jr. died on February 18, 1972 in Florida. Viv continued living in Palm Beach after his death.

Vivian Keefer Wood died on August 6, 1978 in Palm Beach, Florida.

 

Stephany Hampson

Perky, pretty Stephany Hampson was a California schoolgirl who became a sought after local model, then a chorus girl, then landed in Hollywood and signed with Howard Hughes. Unfortunately, like most girls who signed up with Howard, her career amounted to nothing. In the end she got married and retired. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Stephany Carole Hampson was born on February 19, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, to Richard D. Hampson and Kathleen Ruth Hampson. Her father was a truck driver for an oil company, her mother was a native Canadian who was barely 18 years old when she married. Her older brother, Denny, was born in 1939.

The family lived in San Gabriel valley in the 1940s. Stephany and her brother grew up there and attended high school. A pretty girl with a wholesome appearance and a cute visage, Stephany got into modeling pretty early, when she was just 15 years old, (cca. 1949) and was soon one of the most prominent models in the region. She hit major fame in 1950, when she was chosen Miss Food Show, and made all the local papers. A string of similar titles followed.

In 1951, Stephany graduated from being a model to having a part in a show. Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce was pioneering new type of theater production by lending initial support to a show, “My LA.” William Trek was the producer, and Betsy Jennings, Marge Darby, Vivian Mason, Marilyn Perry and Betsy were the actresses. It is via this route that she landed in Hollywood in 1953.

CAREER

Stephany appeared in only one movie, the Judy Holiday vehicle It Should Happen to You. This movie is more than relevant today, with it’s meditation on fame and celebrity. Story: Judy plays a model who gets it in her head to make herself a celebrity just by putting her name on a huge blackboard, and it works in different way that she anticipated? Written by Garson Kanin, this is a vintage comedy with substance and subtext, with a superb cast . Judy, Jack Lemmon as a photographer who falls for her, Peter Lawford as an aristocratic ad man who also wants the billboard, Michael O’Shea as a sleazy TV show host… Directed by George Cukor, it’s a delightful treat from the 50s, with the impressive aesthetics and a overall feel good vibe, but just with an edge!

Ghat was it from Stephany!

PRIVATE LIFE

Staphany was one of many actresses who were under contract to the notorious Howard Hughes, and only made a few uncredited appearances. Mostly, Hughes sure didn’t put his actresses under contract for their thespian skills. I can’t claim that he abused all of them, but his reputation was hardly sterling and most of the girls signed were only used for publicity purposes, and never given any chances to act. And it seems that Howard liked having pretty girls under contract and wasting their time, just because he could. More can be found on this link: https://nypost.com/2018/12/11/inside-the-horrors-of-howard-hughes-hollywood-sexcapades/

While the girls signed contract on their own free will, the whole situation is iffy as heck. This is something not many people talk about today, but what happened to these girls is pretty much tragic. Young, impressionable, they were sure that Mr. Hughes was their path to at least steady movie employment, and nobody expected to be used and then showed aside when the next girl came. Most of them didn’t even except that signing to become an actress would not make you an actress, but a mere cheesecake at best. While I admire Hughes for some stuff he did for the movie industry, the 1950s Hughes was already borderline crazy and the things he did were certainly not nice. I hope most of them left behind that whole sordid mess unscathed.

Luckily, Stephany escaped the whole messed up situation by marrying and retiring from movies by late 1953. Her man was John Lee McElroy, and what a very colorful man he was! John was born in March 1922, in Tower Hill, Illinois to. In the mid 1920s the family to Alberta, Canada. Only to return to the US in the late 1930s. John served in the Air Corps. during WW2, and after the war ended he relocated to Los Angeles where he opened an auto body shop. He was also an passionate aviator, and flew his own planes frequently.

The McElroys had three children: Gary Steven, born on April 14, 1954, Ricky, born on December 4, 1956, and Coleen, born on December 7, 1957. John became a builder and a land developer. While living in Burbank he built houses in Van Nuys and the surrounding area. In Anaheim he built the first industrial subdivision. The family moved to Corona, Riverside in 1962, where he developed the Mountain View Golf Course.

Stephany and McElroy divorced in June 1966. John continued his active life – in 1968 he purchased acreage in Murrieta and began farming; growing oats, wheat and barley. McElroy died on January 2, 2005, in Murrieta.

Stephany married her second husband, James W. Totman on June 28, 1968.

James WIlliam Totman was born on April 7, 1929, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to William and Myrtle Totman, the youngest of three children (his older sisters were Lorraine and Bonita). James went to High school at the Pillsbury Military Academy in Minnesota. He then went to Washington University for a year. During the Korean War, James served as a staff sergeant in the U. S. Army for 21 months, 16 of which were in combat. After the war he became a building contractor for schools, apartment building, motels and other commercial works. He moved to Riverside and became a a very successful local building contractor, and today even has a stadium named after him. He had major interests in race horses. He was married once before, and had a daughter, Dana Ann, born on February 23, 1955.

Stephany and Totman lived in Riverside until their 1973 divorce. Totman died on December 5, 2002.

As far as I can tell, Stephany is still alive today. As always, I hope she had a good life!

Betty Dumbris

Betty Dumbris

Beautiful chorus girl who was a top contender in the glamorous Ziegfeld Follies, Betty Dumbris sadly didn’t achieve any king of a cinematic career, but her colorful private life makes her an interesting subject to

EARLY LIFE

Elizabeth Dumbris was born on March 30, 1913, in Washington, DC, to Anton Paul Dumbris and Sarah Ann Miller, who married the previous year. Anton was born in Lithuania and immigrated to the US, and worked as a tool maker. Sarah Ann was born in Ireland.

Betty spent her earliest years in Washington DC, and then the family moved to Anderson, Indiana, where Betty attended elementary and high school. Betty grew up into a beautiful girl who harbored dreams of becoming an dancer and actress. In 1928, when Betty was a 16-year-old high school girl, she entered the pageantry circuit, and pretty soon, she was selected from among 200  competitors to represent Indiana at the international beauty contest at. Galveston, Texas. After receiving a bit of fame, there was no way back for Betty, and she left Indiana for New York, where she landed work as a chorus girls almost right away. Not long after she scored her first gig, she became a Ziegfeld girl, which was the holy grail for all chorus girls back then. Betty was one of the most heralded of Ziegfeld’s girls, often photographer by Alfred Cheney, the famed photographer. And it was via the Ziegfeld follies that a movie career awaited her…

CAREER

Betty had a relatively long a career in showbiz, but her movie career was just a speck compared to her theater/chorus girl one. While she gained fame in 1928, she came to Hollywood only in 1934, and signed with Hal Roach Studios, but sadly made no movies. Betty freelanced from then on, trying to break into movies in other ways.

While I believe she made quite a bit more movies, on IMDB she is credited in only two movies. Roberta goes down in history as the first pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, but even without the eternal musical duo, it’s a finely made, entertaining movie.  While the story is trivial (An American jazzman and his buddy woo a Russian princess and a fake countess in Paris), the cast is excellent. Irene Dunne is, as always, a grand dame with a great voice. There are also Randolph Scott and Claire Dodd (she’s a treasure).

betty_dumbris01a

The Girl Friend is a totally forgotten movie with Ann Sothern. A thin but seemingly funny story is that an actor and two songwriters become rural con men. Too bad it’s so obscure!

That was it from Betty!

PRIVATE LIFE

Betty married her first husband, a wealthy NYC merchant, Maurice S. Meyer, on December 17, 1932. Maurice was born in New Yersey in 1899, to Simon and Rose Meyer, the fourth of five children. He grew up in Jersey, and then moved to New York in high school. He became a merchant specializing in women-ware. He married in 1926 to Rosella Corn, but they were divorced before the decade was out, and he lived with his dad, his sister and her husband in a posh place with two servants.

Betty gave up any aspiration for a Hollywood career while married to him, but as you can surmise, the marriage did not last long and they were on the outs by 1935. Unfortunately I could not further trace what happened to Maurice, so I have no idea when or where he died, or did he get remarried.

If Betty ever got any newspaper coverage, it was in 1935 when she was dating boxing champion Max Baer.

Max Baer can take a punch on the chin, but he’s a sucker for a beautiful girl. The heavyweight champion has been K.O.D. again by Cupid. His new girl is Betty Dumbris, former Ziegfeld follies showgirl who is now under contract to ap pear in pictures for Hal Roach A week ago Max was telephoning frantically from Detroit to Chicago to find out her whereabouts. He is ready to walk down the aisle with her any time she can get a divorce from her estranged husband, Murray Mayer of New . York, according to the champion’s intimates. Baer has been in and out of love almost continually since he grew up. His first love was Olive Beck, the Livermore, Cal., waitress. He told her he loved her, and put it in writing, too, and that cost him a nice piece of change when he got in the money. She sued him for breach of promise, and he settled out of court “I was just a green country boy then,” said Max recently. “I didn’t know any better.” There were a lot of other girls and then came Dorothy Dunbar. He met her before a fight in Reno, Nev., and almost proposed from the ring. They were married in Reno and later divorced. Some say Baer still loves her. There is no disputing that she left an impression. She taught Baer how to talk, how to act and how to conduct himself in smart company. His next violent flame was June Knight, musical comedy singer. That affair reached its height before his bout with Max Schmeling. In between there were a lot of other girls, and a couple of them i went to see their lawyers about Max’s attentions. Two of them. Bee Starr and Shirley La Bell, in stituted breach of promise suits Max contends he never saw either Miss Starr or Miss La Bell. Miss Starr was a circus icrialist, and Max’s comment on her is: . “Can you imagine me going for a ‘girl on the flying trapeze’? The champion says he never heard of Miss La Bell until his lawyers advised him he was involved in another breach of promise suit. “You know this breach of promise stuff may be funny to some folks,” said Baer, “but not to me. It cost me over $10,000 last year for lawyers.” An angle that Baer resents even more than the money women have cost him is the fact that it makes him appear in a bad public light. “People who don’t know me think that all I try to do is break some girl’s heart and then forgot all about her,” Baer commented. “I like girls but I try to conduct myself around them just like anyone else. I can’t get over the fact that girls I’ve never seen start breach of promise suits against me.” Baer’s smile has broken more than one girl’s heart, despite the champion’ words. After his exhibition against Babe Hunt in Detroit last week more than a dozen girls waited around his hotel room door just for a glimpse of him a word or a smile. It’s that way whenever he woos. Society women cater to him. and more than one prominent socialite in New York. Chicago and California has bid for his attention. At least one Chicago heiress plans to go to Florida just to see him In a couple of exhibition bouts the latter part of this month

It ended up being a storm in  teacup, as they fizzled out just a few months later. Betty got her divorce, and was ready for a new marriage! She was still appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies, and obviously pretty popular with the boys,

To the surprise of no one, in July 1936 Betty remarried to Russell John, wealthy New York broker. He was very devoted, going to every show of the Follies to gaze at his beloved. Allegedly Betty wanted to travel to London to appear in a variety show there, but Russell changed her mind. Here is a short and sweet article about their marriage:

After touring madly about Long Island Sunday night in search of some one to marry them, Betty Dumbris, former “Follies” beauty, and Russell John, Wall Street broker, were honeymooning; yesterday in a cottage near the Atlantic Beach Club. Betty had intended leaving for London shortly to appear in a Charles B. Cochran Review, but John talked her out of it. The couple, together with socially prominent friends, climbed into young Bill Plankinton’s trailer and went license-hunting. They appeared at midnight at the home of Judge George Johnson in Hempstead, Nassau, where the ceremony was performed. Later a reception was held at the Rockville Country Club. John’s former wife, Mrs. Dorothy Wiley John, divorced him in Connecticut last February.

David Russell John was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on November 16, 1904 to David R. John and Margaret Davies. He had an older sister, Margaret. Sadly, his mother died in 1911, and David moved to New York and became a financial broker and part of the high society. He was married once before to Dorothy Wiley, a colorful debutante, but they were divorced by 1935.

Their son David Russell John Jr. was born in New York, USA on September 8, 1937. Betty and Russell lived the high life in New York, Betty retired from showbiz, and it was good until it lasted. And then it just didn’t. They divorced sometime in the late 1940s. Russell died on October 28, 1977 in Palm Beach, Florida.

Betty married her third husband, William Harman Brown II, on October 27, 1953, in New York. Brown was born on October 31, 1899 in New York to a prominent family. He was the great grandson of Stewart Brown, one of the original partners of the firm of Brown Bros. Co. during the Civil War and for some time thereafter he was the junior member of the firm of Muller & Brown, gold and exchange brokers. His grandfather, William Brown, was one of the best known and most popular figures In Wall Street. He was one of the original directors of the Corn Exchange Bank, and for thirty years held that office. Mr* Brown, with other prominent men, was Instrumental In raising the money for the erection of the building of the Young Men’s Christian Association In Twenty-third-st., and he was particularly involved with the development of the free Classes connected with that Institution.

William was married once before, to Mary Horsman on October 4, 1922. They had a son, Stewart Brown, born on July 18, 1928. They divorced in the 1940s.

Betty and Brown continued living in New York, also in style. It was a happy marriage until Brown died on December 5, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York.

Betty falls of from the radar from then on. I have no idea when and where she died. As always, I hope she had a good life!

Maxine Jennings

Maxine Jennings was a haute couture model that achieved a varied career in a variety of professions. While her movie career might be a little slim, she did appear in 40 movies and later successfully worked in radio, the stage. She then married rich, but that was not the end! She went into totally other venues, like yard sales and writing cookbooks! Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Maxine Leah Jennings was born on March 9, 1909 in Portland, Oregon, to Phillip Bliss Jennings and Hannah Mai Henderson. She was the youngest of four children – her older siblings were Louise Bliss (born in 1900), Don R. (born in 1906) and Jack (born in 1908). Her father was a medical doctor who had his own practice in Portland.

 Maxine Jennings, also a promising member of the group, started her career by winning several swimming and diving championships in Portland. In 1923 she made her theatrical debut in the local production of Showboat. A few years later, in 1926, Maxine won a beauty contest in her native Oregon, following which she was second to “Miss America” at the annual Atlantic City contest. She made her first foray into Hollywood about this time, but it was unsuccessful, and she returned to New York to become a model. Then she went to Paris and became a haute couture model. In Paris she worked for prestigious fashion houses like Jean Patou, and became a household name.

Her beauty and poise won her recognition in Hollywood, and she was engaged her as a training instructor for girls in the picture, “Roberta“, and not long after she was cast for a part in the same musical.” From that assignment she went on to parts in pictures, a starlet with a future and a motion- picture contract followed.

CAREER

Maxine made quite a bit of movies (40) unlike most of the actresses I profile, so I won’t bother with it, it’s just too much movie to write about and her bio is big even without the extensive filmography. But she had some good movies in it, and was even credited! Worth checking out for sure!

PRIVATE LIFE

Since Maxine was a fashion model, she had intimate knowledge of haute couture, and her knowledge was well regarded in Hollywood, as this article can attest:

Maxine Jennings, the girl who leads carefully chosen mannequins in the lavish fashion show in the film, was once a model for the house of Patou, and gave the producers valid pointers on the details of the great couturiers’ do their fashion. The designer was obliged to order certain beautiful garments directly from France because the ones available for sale this season had already been used in last season’s smart clothes. These materials were woven to order and then sent to Hollywood, Six pieces were purchased, ranging in price from $12 to $5 a yard, and to secure them the whole bolt of 33 yards had to be ordered.

She also gave a beauty hint for freckles:

Maxine Jennings, RKO Radio starlet, considers buttermilk the best remover of freckles. She says a weekly application of this liquid will keep the skin clear and white even if freckles don’t have the habit of popping out here and there

And another for party food:

For a hearty and delicious Sun day night snack, Maxine Jennings places half an avocado on each plate and fills the hollow with scrambled eggs in which canned button mushrooms have been stirred. 

Maxine married her first husband, Steven K. McNulty, on January 13, 1930, in Clark, Washington. Little is known about McNulty, except that he was born cca. 1902. What exactly happened remains a mystery, but the marriage was effectively over by the time Maxine went to Hollywood in 1935, and Mr. McNulty was history!

Then came time for some fun! Maxine made newspaper headlines when, Following a courtship of less than a fortnight, she was betrothed to Tony Browne, who was on a furlough from India where he served with His Majesty’s Bengal Lancers. The pair first left for Washington to visit Maxine’s parents, with the promise that the wedding date will be set upon their return to Hollywood.

As soon as they returned to Hollywood, pre-nuptial parties began to dot the social calendar of the younger cinema social set. And how! Browne was a scion of a socially prominent family of London had spent many years In India. Their wedding was to be solemnized in the fall, without a fixed date by then.

 Maxine and Tony left for Europe that summer, having a time of it on the concessions at Venice. However, something happened on the trip, and by July they were bust. Both went on to date other people right of the bat.

And Maxine sure didn’t’ waste any time! Two months after breaking up an engagement, she married another man! The lucky man: Rudolf Ising, time and date: Las Vegas on September 26, 1936. Rudolf Carl Ising was born on August 7, 1903, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Henry and Mary Ising, the youngest of four children. He was a famous cartoonist and co-owner of the Harman-Ising animated cartoons. Here is a great summary of his career on the New York Times obituary:

Mr. Ising was working at a photograph-finishing laboratory when he was hired by Mr. Disney, who advertised in a local newspaper for a cartoonist when he was starting out in the early 1920’s in Kansas City, Mo. Mr. Ising helped to ink the drawings in the first animated Disney films, the “Newton Laugh-o-Grams.”

The operation moved to California, and Mr. Ising followed. But soon he and another Disney employee, Hugh Harman, broke away to create their own cartoons. Synchronizing Dialogue and Action

Their initial production, “Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid,” in 1929, was a breakthrough as the first talkie cartoon, synchronizing dialogue on the soundtrack with the action on screen. Disney’s earlier “Steamboat Willie” had music and sound effects but no dialogue.

The Bosko cartoon was also notable for its sign off, “That’s all, folks,” which became Porky Pig’s stammered trademark.

In 1930, the two men were hired by Warner Brothers, for which they devised the “Looney Tunes” label, a takeoff on Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” series.

In 1934, they joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where they created Barney Bear, the ancestor of Yogi Bear. The inspiration for the lethargic Barney came from Mr. Ising’s habit of dozing off in staff meetings.

While Mr. Harman specialized in “Looney Tunes,” Mr. Ising developed “Merrie Melodies,” which emphasized the musical element. His strength was in writing and producing rather than illustrating.

Both cartoon series became staples of the nation’s movie-theater programs. Winning an Academy Award

In 1940, Mr. Ising’s “Milky Way,” a cartoon about three kittens, won an Academy Award, the first non-Disney cartoon to capture an Oscar. Mr. Ising was also honored in 1976 by the International Animation Society.

Interesting man, very important for the golden age of cartoons. Sadly, he and Maxine didn’t’ click long term, and they were divorced in 1940. He married actress Cynthia Westlake, had a son, Rudolf Jr., and died on July 18, 1992.

Maxine then married Edward Byron, owner, producer and director of radio shows, on June 18, 1940 (overlap in beaus? Don’t know but the facts speak for themselves). In “Mr. District Attorney,” “Pot of Gold” and “What’s My Name?” Edward Armour Byron was born on October 20, 1905, in Newport, Kentucky, to Armour and Cecelia Byron. Living in Ohio, Kentucky and New York, he was in the radio trade for a long time, since the 1920s. He was married once before to Gertrude Dooley, in 1931, but they divorced a couple of years later.

By this time Maxine gave up on movies and switched to radio, playing the leading feminine roles in her husband’s shows. Then, for a year and a half she was in the Ziegfeld Follies and New York stage and for a short time she was again a photographers’ model. She and Byron divorced in about 1944.

Maxine met her next husband, Philip Saltonstall, in 1945. He’d been married twice, too, and was awaiting a decree in Las Vegas, Nev., when she went there as a witness in the divorce case of a friend, Sheila Darcy. The chance meeting led quickly to romance. Philip Saltonstail, a first cousin of United States Senator Leverett Saltonstall, a world traveler and a agent in Europe of the Motion Picture Association of America, received his divorce decree in October, 1945. In February, 1946, he and Maxine were married in Mexico, and a few weeks later went through another marriage ceremony in Los Angeles. Saltonstall, a Harvard graduate and a noted polo player of his time, was a former member of a New York Stock Exchange firm. His first marriage to Katheryn E. Lapharn, a Boston society belle, united two of Massachusetts’ wealthiest families, her father heading a steamship line and a brokerage house. Three children were born to them and the marriage lasted from 1921 to 1933. A year later, Saltonstall’s mother announced his second marriage. In London he had married Paula Ponce de Leon. This was the marriage that was ending when Saltonstall and Maxine met in Las Vegas.

Their marriage was very stormy, with the birth of their daughter Lee Bliss, on March 23, 1947, was a very joyous moment for the couple. However, it didn’t help matters long-term, and by 1948 they were in the divorce court. Here is an article from that time:

SOMETIMES it seems to the friends of piquant, dark-haired Maxine Jennings, who twice was named Miss Portland (Ore.), that they never will be able to guess what role, on stage or in a real life drama, she will choose next. Every time they say, “That’s fine, now she has a new husband,” or “That’s wonderful, she’s out of pictures and in radio,” she isn’t. She’s already briskly beginning a new phase. Three husbands, a future as a model, a career in ‘Hollywood, a period in radio, a chance on the New York stage–these are in her past. Now she has a new role. It is a delicate one. If ever she needed finesse, she does now.

In Reno, she recently divorced her latest husband, Philip Leverett Saltonstall, of the Massachusetts clan, and five days later he remarried. But she is determined to bring up their daughter in the certainty that her father is above reproach. She charged mental cruelty but only “mild” cruelty instead of the customary “extreme” and she is going to prove to little Lee Bliss Saltonstall that her divorced father is as fine a Saltonstall as any of the highest of appraisals. “I know this will take some doing,” she said a little while ago. “Explaining to your daughter that you divorced her father, and yet that her father’s all right, it won’t be easy.” She won’t shirk it, she said. “I’m going to teach the baby that he’s one of the finest and grandest of men,” she said. “She’s going to think of her daddy as tops.” Maxine, herself, appears to have no trouble in thinking of Mr. Salton-stall in this favorable light. She found the climax of her divorce proceedings by no means unhappy. Emerging from the Court House, decree in hand, she was asked whether she got what she wanted. “Yes, right on the nose,” she said. “Money, that is.” Fancy free again, she’s resuming her Hollywood career now, with a contract to appear in Westerns. Her beauty and poise won recognition in Hollywood, and all engaged her as a training instructor for girls in the picture, “Roberta.” From that assignment she went on to parts in pictures, a starlet with a future. From pictures she turned to radio.

While Maxine was in Reno, waiting to obtain her divorce, she was a devoted mother. “Fishing and riding and caring for my baby, that’s what I do,” she said. Questioned about the possibility of a fourth marriage, she answered quickly. “I’d better not say,” she said. “I don’t want any more complications, and there’s no one in sight for the immediate future.” “How about the distant future?” she was asked, “It will certainly be some one, if it does happen, who’ll be good to my child,” she answered. “That’ll be my main object from now on.”

But the drama had only begun! First there were some money squabbles:

Actress Maxine Jennings, 35, today sought to have the Nevada divorce of her former husband, sportsman Philip Leverett Saltonstall. set aside so she can get a California decree. Saltonstall, 51, a cousin of Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, has since married Mrs. Beatrice Fenton Merrill, 44, of Pasadena,. Calif. He received a Nevada decree in 1947 and at that time Miss Jennings accepted a $20,000 cash settlement and $150 a month support for their daughter. Lee, 2. Miss Jennings said in her petition filed in Superior Court yesterday that she was coerced into permitting Saltonstall to get the uncontested divorce by threats of harm and that he would cut her off without a penny.

More of the same:

Mrs. Maxlne Saltonstall, 35, former actress, went to court to upset a financial settlement with her former husband. Philip ‘Leverett Saltonstall, 51, Massachusetts sportsman. Mrs. Saltonstall, the former Maxine Jennings, was ready to tell her story in Superior Judge William R. McKay’s court but Saltonstall’s attorneys interposed a demurrer, contending that her suit did not meet .legal requirements. Objects to Settlement The one-time actress contended that she wa3 in ill health and under complete domination of her then husband when she signed the settlement in which she accepted $20,000 In lieu of alimony and $150 a month for support of her daughter, Lee Bliss, now 2. Mrs. Saltonstall also asks now for a California divorce, asserting that the decree she obtained in Reno, Nev., July 21, was invalid. She sued through Atty. Isidore Lindenbaum. Saltonstall’s lawyers maintain that the settlement was fair and that Mrs. Saltonstall had independent legal advice when she signed it. They asked that the court throw her suit out without requiring testimony.

Maxine went on to date a new beau, Frank Clark, who won a chest-ful of medals during the war. In the late 1940s, Maxine decided to change habitats, and moved to Mexico City for a few years, effectively separating her daughter from her father. This caused major friction between the former couple, and in the end escalated to this, in 1957:

 A five day jail sentence Was given to sportsman Philip Leverett Saltonstall of La Jolla, Calif., today for flagrant and continuing contempt of court in refusing to relinquish custody of his 10-year-old daughter to her mother. His divorced wife, actress Maxine Jennings Saltonstall wept as she hurried into, the chambers of Superior Court Judge Wallace L. Ware. Since October, when the child was ordered returned to Mrs. Saltonstall, there have been writs, continuances and other delays. Her lawyer, E. Loyd Saunders, told Judge Ware that Saltonstall, a cousin of Sen Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass) , has used every legal trick that money can buy to thwart the court order. . Judge Ware commented: Hi knowledge and ability to comply with the order constituted a specific, flagrant contempt. This was Just another way of making’ Jest’ of justice. f , Led away by a sheriff deputy, Saltonstall said through his attorney that he would appeal the sentence. Mrs. Saltonstad had custody of her daughter from the time of the divorce in 1947 until last summer, when she returned from Mexico City and asked for an increase in support payments. Saltonstall, resisting her petition, said he objected to his daughter having lived in Mexico for six years, and obtained a temporary order giving him custody. 

And the result:

A five-day Jail sentence was given’ to ‘ sportsman Philip Lev ere tt Saltonstall of La JoLIa, Calif., yesterday for “flagrant and continuing contempt of court” in refusing to relinquish custody of his 10-year -old daughter to her mother. His divorced wife, actress Maxine Jennings Saltonstall has been trying for 10 months to obtain custody of the girl. Since last October, when the child was ordered returned to Mrs. SattanstalL there have been stays of execution, appeals, writs, continuances and other delays. Her lawyer, E. Loyd Saunders, told a superior judge that Saltonstall, a cousin of Senator Leverett Saltonstall (Rep), Massachusetts, has used “every legal trick that money can buy” to thwart the court order. Saltonstall said he would appeal from the sentence

This can be a very serious matter or just inflated drama, I can’t know for certain. But the tendency of rich white males to casually flaunt their power and abuse it, harming their former wives or other people, is a gross injustice, and is happening right now. I hope that Maxine wasn’t in it just for the money and that she managed to somehow get a happy ending with this whole sad situation and that her daughter was also okay.

Maxine was long over Hollywood by this time, and it was time to try out other venues. So, Maxine became a cookbook author in the 1960s. Some of her books were: First you take a leek, Dining in Hawaii, Ova easy: egg recipes you’ll flip over. She was also active in the furniture scavengering business in Florida and hosted many yard sales in Palm Beach.

Sometime in the late 1950s Maxine moved to Hawaii and lived there for quite a long time. She remarried on January 5, 1982 to Paul Dwinel Hersey. Hersey was born in Nebraska on August 27, 1911 to Dexter and Isabel Hersey. He was married Phyllis Marie Loudon in 1940 and they had one child. The Herseys returned to California in the late that same year, but unfortunately divorced in 1984. Maxine continued living in California from then on. Paul Hersey passed away on June 15, 1998 in Marin County, California, USA.

Maxine Leah Saltonstall died on January 11, 1991 in Riverside, California.