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.

Gwenllian Gill

Gwenllian Gil 5

Gwenllian Gill was a pretty Scottish lass that landed in Hollywood with much PB hubaloo, as  winner of a international “Search for beauty” contest. This shenanigan did give wind to her movie-aspiration-wings – she signed a contract, started acting right away, even had a leading role that same year… But, ultimately, Gwen preferred being back home and left it all to work in the UK movie industry. It’s a interesting twist of fate that more than 10 years after the fact, she returned to Tinsel town and this time she was there to stay. Or not? Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Gwenllian Mary Gill was born on December 11, 1915, in to Fredrick Gill and his wife, Flynn Gill, in Hartlepool, Durham, England. Her family was predominantly of Scottish origin. Her father was a construction engineer who specialized in dock construction. She had an older sister, born in the early 1910s.

Gwen grew up in Hartlepool and her first dramatic experience was in a school version of David Copperfield in which she played Betsy Trotwood. Gwen became very fond of acting and continued to do thespian work here and there, but with no clear plans for a future in showbiz.

At some point Gwen’s dad was put in charge of the new coaling dock works at Edinburgh, and the family moved there permanently. After graduating high school, Gwenllian worked as a window dresser in the city and went to an odd beauty contest here and there, without much thought of becoming an actress- But how life surprises us!

Then Paramount came to UK with a Search for beauty gimmick, looking for fresh and beautiful youngsters all around Europe to appear in the eponymous movie. Gwen’s sister secretly sent them her photo, and she was given a screen test. In the end, Gwen, at only 17 years old, who was chosen by Paramount to travel to Hollywood and had been offered a contract with the company tor six months. She took part in the production of a film, the purpose of which was to find “stars” of the future, and she has been awarded a bonus of 1000 dollars for the best female performance. Still a minor, she promptly cabled to Edinburgh for her father’s consent. Luckily, Frederick was very forthcoming, and replied congratulating his daughter and giving his full approval if she wished to accept. Gwen’s elder sister (who got her into this mess in the first place :-P) went go to Hollywood as her chaperone.

And her career started!

CAREER

Gwen’s career can be divided into three stages – early Hollywood career, UK career and later US career.

Meet Gwenllian Gill, your future motion picture stir. Selected as Scotland’s representative In Paramount’s international beauty contest, the winners of which appear in “Search for Beauty” coming Friday to the Palace theater, she was awarded a long term contract for her excellent work in that film.

Her first movie was, logically, Search for Beauty. So what’s all the fuss about? Ida Lupino and Buster Crabbe play athletes who are duped to serving as editors of a new health and beauty magazine which is only a front for salacious stories and pictures. This is putting it nicely – salacious stories. You very well know what we mean… Yes, sex sells! This movie is pure over-the-top everything! And so many pretty girls and boys in it, many, like Gwen, winner of the search for beauty contest. And it’s a proper Pre-Code movie – as one reviewer notes, there is “a jaw-dropping scene where Gertrude Michael zeroes in with binoculars no less on Crabbe’s crotch while he’s competing in the Olympics.” Whauza, some pretty heady stuff! This isn’t a movie to make you think, but to make you feel a bit giddy and naughty, and it does that in spades!

Gwen continued in similar vein, playing dancers/chorus girls in a string of movies. She was in Come On, Marines!Murder at the Vanities, Shoot the Works, Here Is My Heart they are all happy-go-lucky, upbeat musicals/comedies, sometimes with a top notch cast (Here is my heart features the greatest crooner of all – ladies and gentleman, Bing Crosby! while Shoot the works and Murder have some B tier actors, like Jackie Oakie, Arline Judge, Gertrude Michael, Dorothy Dell…).  But that was not all!

Gwenllian GillGwen did more elegant fare with The Notorious Sophie Lang, a witty, sparking heist comedy with Gertrude Michael as the titular Sophie Lang, a cat burglar who nicks jewels all around Europe and the US. The police know her name but not her face, and Paul Cavanaugh plays a suave former jewel thief hired to find the elusive Sophie. You can probably guess the rets of the story, but who doesn’t like a lively, glamorous movie like this, especially with such an outstanding female lead!  More serious and thriller in tone but with the same cast was Menace (Gertrude Michael, Paul Cavanagh). The plot is typical manor murder mystery – Ray Milland (in one of his earlier roles) plays an engineer was persuaded (to put it mildly) to play cards with a merry group of socialites instead of managing his dam during a storm. When the dam bursts, he crashes his plane on purpose and dies. Or does he? Bottom line, a few years later, the same merry group gets together at a mansion and a maniac starts killing them, allegedly the brother of the deceased. It’s a fast paces, very tight little movie, fun to watch. Another mystery movie was Father Brown, Detective, one of the first adaptations of the story about the famous literary priest. Your enjoyment of the movie hinges on the answer to this question – does Walter Connolly make a good father Brown? Some find him great, some dismal and unable to compare with Alec Guinness (who played the same character 30 years later).

Gwen also appeared in two serious dramas, You Belong to Me and Behold My Wife!. The first is a completely forgotten drama about difficulties a child is having in accepting a new stepdad (with the very interesting Helen Mack as the female lead), and the second one is… well, a weird movie. Listen to the plot (taken from a review at IMDB): Gene Raymond’s elitist family doesn’t want Ann Sheridan (in one of nineteen screen appearances that year) to marry him, so they tell her he’s gone to Europe and hand her a check. She throws herself out of a window. Raymond gets in his car and goes on a drunken spree that ends in Arizona with a bullet in his shoulder, with Sylvia Sidney as his buck-skinned nurse. To gain revenge on his family, he marries her and takes her back to New York. Whoa, did you get that? While you can understand that the movie has some good intentions it’s somehow clumsy in execution, plus Sylvia Sidney playing an Indian woman? But that’s old Hollywood for you! Most reviewers were a bit aghast but still admitted to watching the movie out of sheer curiosity.

Gwenllian Gill2Gwen played her long sought leading role in Shock, a sadly forgotten WW2 drama. Gwen got some major coverage because of this role, and a large bulk of newspaper articles mention her solely because of her role here. There is a complicated, convoluted plot with switched identities, war trenches, amnesia, fiancée theft… But for a over the top drama it’s okay. Just don’t’ expect too much realism! The cast I b tier good (Ralph Forbes, Monroe Owsley…). Gwen plays the girl that the two main actors bicker over, and I have to say she looks very pretty and fresh in the photos, so I can understand their motivations. Too bad it seems nobody has watched the movie in ages!

Gwen returned to the UK, and made a string of quota quickies (The White Lilac, Flame in the Heather, King of Hearts, False Evidence, Murder Tomorrow, Irish and Proud of It) which are completely forgotten today and not much information can be found about them. it seems that the critics were not overtly enthusiastic about the movie either. Then the war started and Gwen concentrated her efforts on other things.

Gwen returned to Hollywood cca. 1951, and I suspect that many of her credits were not listed in IMDB. What we do have, however, are three movies and a couple of TV shows. Gwen’s first movie in her renewed US career was  Flight Nurse, a 1950s part chick flick, part war propaganda movie about a nurse that ferried wounded men in the US-Korean war. Like most 1950s movies, it’s over the top-orderly and clean, and not quite realistic, but it’s got Joan Leslie, always an endearing actress, and Forrest Tucker (don’t’ really know the guy, never watched him). Some reviews like the movie, some don’t, but overall I think it’s not a bad affair.

Gwen then appeared in two other women’s movies – The Best of Everything, a movie about the lives of working women in 1950s corporate America. This one I generally liked after watching it. It’s a grown up sister of fluff like Three coins in a fountain and The pleasure seekers. Mind you, it’s still not a realistic portrayal of women in the workforce (50s were not at all for realism, I am afraid), but it doesn’t shy away from some pretty serious issues. And the cast, while not outstanding, is pretty good – Hope Lange (don’t’ like her, have to admit), Suzy Parker( beautiful but can’t really act), Stephen Boyd (love the man! Now here’s a true charmer), Joan Crawford (always an ace!). Gwenllian Gill 4

Gwen’s last movie was Midnight Lace, a woman in peril film with Doris Day in the lead. A loose remake of Gaslight, Doris plays an American living in London with husband, played by Rex Harrison. She starts being stalked and getting phone calls by a man saying he’s going to kill her. Since this is a movie produced by Ross Hunter, one thing can be expected – glamour! The guy who resurrected Lana Turners career and brought back melodrama into the mainstream hold sure knows how to do stuff on a grand scale! Doris looks gorgeous and hands incredible outfits, as does the rest of he cast. But all the extravaganza aside, it’s s solid thriller, with Doris proving she can play a women on the verge of  mental breakdown very well. And the supporting cast is a treat! Myrna Loy, Roddy McDowall, Natasha Parry, John Gavin, are all in top form!

That is it from Gwen!

PERSONAL LIFE

When Gwen only arrived in Hollywood, she was hailed as a girl that “takes” in still photographs a likeness closely resembling Joan Crawford. Gwenllian also gave a beauty hint for the readers, which goes like this:

When the girl with the high forehead plucks her eyebrows to a thin line, the breadth and depth of the forehead are emphasized and the effect unbalanced. She, therefore, should allow her brows to grow more or less naturally, plucking them very lightly, and only to keep them from presenting a badly groomed appearance.

When she first came to Hollywood, Gwen didn’t have it easy. She suffered from a bad case of homesickness. and was advised to return to Scotland for a visit with her family to help with the transition. She was also a very down-to-earth and thrifty person, riding the bus to work and saving money from the 1000$ she won as a part of her contract.

Gwenllian Gill 3There was a funny story (coincidence) in Gwen’s life. One day Gwen walked out of the studio restaurant and ran smack into a man who wanted to enter. She was first annoyed and then puzzled. She took a second look. That man turned out to be none other than Lionel Tregellass who made the screen test  in England that resulted in her winning the contest and arriving in Hollywood. He was working at the studio” as technical director on Gertrude Michael’s picture, “Father Brown, Detective.” Also, while in Hollywood Gwen appeared on the stage in “ Double Door ” and “ The Milky Way”, both of which plays were later shown in film form

Ultimately, Gwen returned to the UK in December 1934 and stayed there for 10 years. She worked in the UK movie industry.  Here is an interesting newspaper article about Gwen from that period:

Allegedly Gwenillan got her first part on account of her sour tongue People who have spoken to this charming young actress will find this hard to believe She admits however that she dislikes very hearty people and the kind of folk who are boisterously cheerful in the face of minor disasters — not so difficult to understand for most people prefer a sort of restrained sympathy when the toast is burnt or when you miss your putt Perhaps it is an indication of a super-conscientious outlook that she liked working all the time at high pressure and is restless and fidgety when in her dressing room She feels she should be on the set and when not actually acting she is usually to be found trying to find out things about cutting and the reason why things are done by the cameraman and technical staff She spends practically all her leisure time seeing pictures and except for an occasional game of squash she thinks of little else Miss Gill confesses that she was very unpopular at school because of a tendency to argue but she never commits the cardinal sin of arguing with her film director “ If there is any difference of opinion as to how a part should be interpreted I consider the artist should always give way to the director” she says Miss Gill’s views on temperament are interesting Temperament just for mere sake of it she says is practically unknown but it is quite a different matter when conscientious artists fluff their lines They are naturally upset as any good craftsman would be when good work is spoiled The kind of parts Miss Gill likes best are strongly emotional roles and “ tough ” women Her pet aversion is ingenues although she has even appeared in this type of characterization with success.

Gwen appeared in quota quickies, and there met the man she would marry – director Donovan Pedetly. A seasoned quota-quickie churner, Donovan was a able tradesman who could make a movie in 7 days, but hardly an artist nor indeed even concerned with such things. He was born on July 28, 1903, in Tynemouth, England, Pedetly entered the world of movies ads a PR, and worked as PR man to famous actress María Corda. Later he became a talent scout for Paramount and in ultimately a London stage director and movie director. He was married once before, to Evelyn Hooper, in 1923, and their son Michael John was born on January 29, 1934.

While I can’t say for certain what happened and what the situation was, it seemed that it is possible that Gwen and Donovan met before he was divorced from Evelyn and fell in love. They could not marry, hence the obvious reasons, but remained in touch even after their work obligations were finished.

The war started in 1939, and changed the global scene and lives of almost everybody, including Gwen and Donovan. Any career or other plans put on hold, Gwen gave up her acting work to volunteer with the British army. After the war ended, Gwen was summoned to the US as a British Information officer, went there in February 1946, stayed for a time in Palm Beach, California and later lived and worked in Seattle. She and Pendently married in 1949 in the US. In 1951, the couple moved to Hollywood where Gwen tried to resurrect her career, and Donovan became a Hollywood correspondent for several newspapers and a frequent contributor to British fan magazines

The Pendetlys lived the sunny California life until 1979 when they moved to Eureka Spring, Arkansas, where they worked at the Great passion Play, Gwen as a actress and Donovan as a director. Gwen later ventures into other trades, working in a antique store and a print shop. She retired in 1987 to take care of her ailing husband.

Donovan died in 1989. Gwen continued living in Eureka Springs.
Mary Pedetly died on January 24, 2004, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Jane Keithley

 

Jane Keithley

Jane Keithley was one of the thousands of girls who were considered top tier beauties in their small towns, and were buoyed to think they might have a career in Hollywood. Of course Hollywood is a slightly more “difficult” town, with keen competition and many new faces appearing daily – most of them never achieve credited roles. Jane was lucky here – after some machinations to get her career of the ground, she actually got a big chance, playing the lead role in a Jack London adaptation. Sadly, the movie only showed that jane’s future in movies was a shaky one. She married and retired not long after. Let’s learn more about her.   

EARLY LIFE 

Jane Neave Keithley was born on April 12, 1908, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Herbert R. Keithley and Harriet Mabel Tinker. She was the youngest of five children – her siblings were Herbert Rudolph, born on May 27, 1897, Mary Madeline, born on November 18, 1898, Frank Tinker, born on April 14, 1900, and 

The Keithley family were of Pennsylvania- Dutch ancestry. When they went west they established a home in Central Missouri, in Saline County. Jane’s father, Herbert, who was born and reared in Missouri, and lived for a time in New York City. He was an engineer and did much for the field of mechanical invention. He invented the copper rail union and the Keithley box car under-frame for railway cars.

The family moved to Michigan City, Indiana in 1918, where Jane graduated from high school. Jane grew up into a stunning petite blonde and won several local beauty contests. She entered the University of Chicago, but it seems life had other plans for her. As her beauty attracted attention everywhere, and she was often mistaken for an actress she decided that she might have an opportunity, so she hatched a long term plan on how to achieve her dream. Well aware that she needed some money before going to Tinsel town, she left the University of Chicago to enter the business world and became the secretary/stenographer to a Michigan City broker.

One day in 1928, Jane took a free ride to California with her grandmother on a chance of getting into pictures. Jane lived in Aloha Apartment Hotel and found employment in a bond house at Los Angeles, where she did secretarial work. In the meantime, she had no luck at the studios, even when an agent took an interest in her and tried to get her some roles. Jane was not deterred easily – still with a movie career in mind, she accepted a position as stenographer in the executive offices of the Paramount studios. She was at least close to the apex of the action now, working for a large studio. Her plan came to fruition very soon – after working there for about three months she was given a screen test, and as a result was given a small part in “Paramount On Parade”. Then came her big chance, when she was given a five-year contract at the Fox Film studios. And thus her career started! 

CAREER

Jane made her debut in Paramount on Parade, a typical musical extravaganza with no coherent story but with loads of music, dancers and intricate dance sequences. And the mega stars! All of the bigwig Paramount names are here – Jean Arthur, Gary Cooper, Clara Bow, Maurice Chevalier… 

The Florodora Girl, Jane’s next feature, was a more intimate affair – But I mean only slightly more. A Gay 90s musical with the charming Marion Davies in the lead, as a Floradora girl who tries to woo a fancy young wealthy man. Their being shot before the production code worked its way in Hollywood, her hearty toddy (played by Lawrence Gray) is a less than desirable playboy, so you can guess their path to the stars in thorny indeed. Nice music, nice dancing sequences, and most people seem to really like Marion and find her very charming. I like Marion too and am always saddened how her career turned out. So much for having a wealthy benefactor who doesn’t know quite what to do with you!

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Jane hit the female lead category with The Sea Wolf, adaptation of the Jack London classic. While the cinematography is very good and director more than solid, it’s the botched script and the lackluster actors that don’t quite click. Milton Sills is frightfully miscast as. And Jane.. Oh boy. It was obvious that Jane just didn’t have what it takes to become a major star. She comes out as wooden and not very warm, and in a town where there are 100 new actresses every day, not many get a second chance. Jane was, it seems, left behind.

Jane was back to musicals with 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. 

IMHO, the most interesting movie Jane appeared in was The Secret Call, a tightly made but sadly obscure political-crime movie. Peggy Shannon, a charismatic actress but also a tragic figure (died way too young), is very adept in the role of a woman who vows revenge after her father  committed suicide, having been ruined by political boss William B. Davidson. Peggy’s character had to give up her socialite life to work for a living, and a year later is in charge of  a telephone switchboard, and a few telephone operators, in an expensive hotel. And then the tables are turned when she hears something that can I always love the story that gives a female the central role and explores her complex emotional states. The story, made from a theater play, is brisk, fast paced and not a minute is wasted, the cast is good (Peggy, Richard Arlen, Ned Sparks). All in all, it’s not a A class picture but a very handy B class one, certainly worth a watch.

Jane’s last movie came in 1933, with Luxury Liner. A Grand Hotel-like look at a few passengers of a luxury liner (duh!). The movie has a really good B level cast (Alice White, Zita Johann, George Brent, Vivienne Osborne), and an overtly dramatical plot, but what did you expect? These kinds of assembled movies are worth watching for the drama, mostly, so this does hit the spot.

That was it from Jane! 

PRIVATE LIFE 

Jane didn’t make too much waves in the papers with her romantic life. After dating guys in Indiana and Chicago while studying/working there, during the making Sea Wolf, Jane fell in love with the director, Alfred Santell. Their was a stormy courtship, marked with ups and downs, but in the end love prevailed, and the eloped to Yuma, Arizona, in 1934. Jane gave up her career to raise a family with Alfred. 

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Santell was quite a bit older than Jane, born on September 14, 1895. Here is his bio (taken from imdb): 

American director, billed early in his career as’ Al’ Santell. A former architect (graduate of Los Angeles University) he began in the movie industry in 1914 as a general factotum at the Lubinville Studio in Philadelphia before working his way up the ladder to director/scenarist in which capacity he handled one- and two-reel short comedy subjects for Mack SennettHal Roach and at Kalem. Following a brief spell in the army (1918-19) he advanced to supervising manager at Universal and was given his own comedy series (the “Alfred Santell Comedies”) which starred a trained chimp named Joe Martin! By 1923, he had progressed to feature film direction and signed a lengthy contract with First National. A renowned light comedy specialist, Santell made an assured transition to sound. In the course of the next 15 years he turned out a string of solid second features — as well as the occasional “A”-grade release — for 20th Century-Fox (1929-33), RKO (1934-35), Paramount (1936-42) and United Artists (1943-44).

One of his best talkies was an early entry into the “Dr. Kildare” cycle (that was before MGM picked up the option and made millions from the franchise !). This was Internes Can’t Take Money (1937), a slickly made box-office hit with Joel McCrea as the good doc and Barbara Stanwyck as an ex-convict mother. The New York Times critic described Santell’s direction as “a blend of [Alfred Hitchcock] suspense and American verve”. Other noteworthy highlights in his career include an early version of The Sea Wolf (1930) (starring Jane Keithley who later became Mrs. Santell), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932), Winterset (1936) (based on the play by Maxwell Anderson), Aloma of the South Seas (1941) and the biopic Jack London (1943). Santell retired in 1946 after directing a couple of B-movies for Republic.

Alfred and Jane had four children: Barbara Jane, born on May 24, 1935, Linda Jane, born on June 22, 1936, Allen Alfred, born on September 2, 1938, and Evan Allen, born on December 16, 1939. Alfred was quite successful in the business as it seems, and the family employed two nurses, a cook and a butler. 

The stormy moments of their courtship didn’t end with marriage – it seems that Alfred and Jane tiffed, separated, then made up, then tiffed again, then made up again and so the circle goes. They even separated for good in October 1942. It was almost game over, as Jane filed a divorce suit on the grounds of  cruelty. Luckily, they reconciled in early 1943 and the suit was dropped. 

Sadly, dark times were coming for the Santell family. Jane fell ill not long after the reconciliation. I could not find an exact cause of her illness, but the situation was not good and it only went from bad to worse. 

Jane Santell died on September 13, 1944 in Los Angeles

Her widower Alfred died on June 19, 1981 in Los Angeles.  

So much more can be learned about Jane’s Dutch Pennsylvania family on the very informative website, https://www.woodvorwerk.com/wood/i45.htm#s1810!
Many information about Jane comes from there, do check it out!

Claudia Fargo

Claudia Fargo

Claudia Fargo was one of the myriad of beautiful dancers that hoped to outgrow the chorus and become major actresses. Sadly, that goals eluded her for two years before she gave it up for a life of travel in Europe, and later for marital bliss. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Clothilde Antoinette Fargo was born on October 12, 1914, in Portland, Oregon, to George Keiser Fargo and Mabel Brink. She was the middle of three children – her older brother was Frederick Stevens, born on June 27, 1906, and her younger brother was William Brink, born on June 7, 1916. Her father was a prominent attorney.

The family first lied in Minnesota (where Frederick Stevens was born), then Oregon (where Claudia and William were born), then Summit, Ohio, where Claudia grew up and attended elementary school. In the late 1920s the family settled in Los Angeles.

Claudia liked to dance from her earliest days, but it was the move to California that propelled her dancing ambitions from purely amateurish to professional. So close to Tinsel town, she also wanted a piece of the magic, and she had the looks, the visage and the moves to get it. After graduating from high school, she went into the acting field, at first hiding it from her family, fearing their disapproval, but pretty soon they were quite supportive. Claudia played leads in Little Theater productions around town and studied dancing and lighter forms of dramatic art. A movie scout saw her in a Little theater production, signed her and away she went!

CAREER

Claudia was active in Hollywood for two years (1934-1936) and partook in only seven movies. She was a chorus girl/dancer in almost all of them and was never credited.

Claudia’s first movie was already 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!

Then came Sweet Adeline, an okay Irene Dunne musical about the titular character who wants to become a famous singer, and the director (played by Donald Woods) who loves her. As per usual, we have a wonderful score by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, but little to no story, thin characters and nothing else really outstanding. But it’ still nice to watch these movies occasionally, and enjoy their old-school feel! And Irene is always a delight, no matter what she appears in.

A bit better was her next film, hilarious Folies Bergère de Paris. Again, if you want some deep movie that’ll make you think, look away. Want some simple, elegant fun – walk this way! Maurice Chevalier, everybody’s favorite French cad, plays dual roles – one a nightclub singer, other a stiff-upper-lip banker, which creates havoc in his love life. Chevalier was a limited talent, but very good at what he did – nobody played debonair, charming French like he did – and this movie was tailor made to show off all his strong spots. He gets wonderful support from Merle Oberon and Ann Southern (guess who is the wife and who is the showgirl :-P).

Up next – Claudia was a redhead dancer in Redheads on Parade, a sadly totally forgotten Dixie Lee musical, with our favorite wooden actor, John Boles. I never could understand his appeal, while not bad looking he’s so stiff and boring! Claudia then appeared in a college themed musical – the name of the movie is Collegiate (how imaginative), and it’s actually not that bad – the plot is very much predictable (A Broadway playboy inherits an almost bankrupt girls’ school and tries to save it by a big show) and the leading man, Joe Penner, is rightfully completely forgotten today (very annoying, one wonders how anyone in the 1930s found him funny – but hey, they obviously did). However, the day is saved by the ever funny Ned Sparks and the ethereal Frances Langford. Also watch out for an early role of Betty Grable!

Claudia’s next-to-last movie was Anything Goes, an adaptation of a Cole Porter musical with Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman. Yep, this is one of the few movies La Merman appeared in, and this is perhaps the strongest reason to see it. Of course, that isn’t saying much – the movie suffers from the censoritis syndrome. We all know how witty and funny Cole was, and the censors hated such a witty and funny men and tried to put them to size any time they could. Yet, there a some good stuff to be enjoyed in the movie, and it’s far from the bottom of the barrel.

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Claudia’s last movie was perhaps the bets known of her bunch – The Great Ziegfeld. A Best Picture Oscar winner, an absolute classic that holds up more than well today, what more to we need to add? And back when the Oscars really meant something and were not bought with PR campaigns. Bill Powell is a tour de force in any movie he appears in, and playing the Great Ziegfeld did him no harm! Myrna Loy as his partner is that comes so naturally that it’s weird when they are not in the same movie!

That’s it from Claudia!

PRIVATE LIFE

So many fairy tales were spun around Claudia’s life before she came to Hollywood, and some of of them were pure fabrication. It was claimed Claudia was a descendant of the Fargo family of Wells-Fargo  express fame and thus related to the William G. Fargo (1818-1881) – which was completely false. They did have the same surname, but all similarities end there. Also Claudia’s tries to keep her career a secret from her family were nicely used as a publicity stunt, as a little-rich girl trying to make it on her own as a chorus girl.

In the early 1930s, Claudia promised to in the papers will not think of marriage for five years and that she was all set to devoting her life to her career and playing bridge. Anyone who reads this blog will know that many, many actresses try this publicity bit: “We don’t’ care about marriage, we want a career” – just to get married next month and give up on acting. I have to say it is a bit irksome, if you want to get married and leave Hollywood/acting okay, it’s your choice, but then why lie about it? But while she didn’t put up resistance for five years as she promised, Claudia really didn’t get married right away, so she was right to some degree.

Claudia’s love life didn’t’ make much waves in Hollywood, she dated Herb Kettelle for a time and that was that.  And now comes the part that I really like about Claudia – after ditching Hollywood, she decided to travel around. Smart girl! Here is a newspaper snippet about it:

Claudia Fargo who has finally come home to brighten the parental fireside after a year and a half’s tour of Europe . . . London . . . Paris . . . Romel . . . now Claudia knows ‘cm all like the palm of her hand, having not only done the usual but going one step more.

Wonderful way to live for a time – travel around extensively, in a fashion you can afford. Great! After Claudia returned from her European adventure, Claudia married Bertram Tuttle in 1937. Tuttle, born in 1906 in Ohio, was a art director of the Art Department for Warner Bros. Claudia gave up her career for domesticity, and lived with Tuttle in Los Angeles. Their was a happy union that lasted until his death in 1967.

Claudia remarried to Leo Vasserot Merle III on March 13, 1972. Leo Vasserot Merle III was born on 27 March 1911, in San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States, to Leopold Vasserot Merle II and Joan Oliver. He was the oldest of six children (his younger siblings were Oliver, Marie, Jeanne, Joan and Norma). He was a worked as a telephone installation man and served his country in WW2. He was married once before, to Virginia Wilson, in 1937, and they had two sons, Leo IV, born on September 23, 1938, and John, born on September 1, 1946. They divorced sometime after 1950.

The Merles lived happily in California until Leo’s death on May 25, 1986.

Claudia Merle died on June 6, 2002, in San Francisco, California.

Margaret Carthew

Margaret Carthew was a Florida girl famous in her town as a dancer, and this prompted her to try her hand in Hollywood. Many have tried like this, and most have failed – Maggie hardly made a ripple in the water of Tinsel Town, appearing in Busby Berkeley musicals as a chorine and generally in uncredited, small roles. As time went by, she wisely switched gears, became a make-up artist, lived and worked in UK for a time – all of this before she even reached her 30th birthday! Interesting stuff! Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Margaret Isabelle Jocelyn Carthew was born on January 31, 1909, in Mulberry, Florida, to George Leopold Carthew and Marie Haider. She was the oldest of three children – her younger siblings were Bette Stanhope, born on March 12, 1913, and Garry Malcom Canmore, born on October 31, 1923.

The family moved to Palm Beach, Florida, when Maggie was just a girl, living on the New York Avenue. All of the children’s grew up in Palm Beach. Maggie was a pretty and vivacious child, always putting on shows for her family and friends. By the time she graduated from elementary school, it was clear that dancing was Maggie’s strong suit. She danced at all the local events, like parties, exhibitions, fairs, and was constantly in the public eye due her showbiz skills. Maggie then attended and graduated from  Palm Beach High School (class of 1926) where she was also know as a talented dancer and performer.

As already noted, Maggie made the local Palm beach papers almost weekly with her dancing performances, which netted her a busy social schedule. After racking up quite a bit of experience in the dancing field, Maggie decided to make it her proper vocation. Wanting to become a pro dancer, she left for New York not long after her graduation. Pretty soon she got chorus work there. In the early 1930’s she went to Hollywood with her parents, where she found work as a dancer on stage and as a dance-instructor. before long, she was noticed by movie scouts and started her film career!

CAREER

Margaret appeared as a chorus girl in dozen of movies almost: Some of those were classics like

King of Jazz and 42nd Street, a variety of Busby Berkeley movies (Gold Diggers of 1933, Fashions of 1934, Gold Diggers of 1935, Dames, Gold Diggers of 1935). We all know what Berkeley movies are – scantly clad gals, music and elaborate dancing sequences with hundreds of participants. Story is minimal, as are chat acers, but hey, who’s asking! Truly, these movie are very fun and worth watching just for the visual/musical enjoyment, although they won’t win you any acting awards!

The rest of her filmography was mostly fluff. An anomaly in Maggie’s film offering was her very first one, Cimarron, a serious western that won an Oscar for it’s leading man, Richard Dix. Plus there is Irene Dunne in the female lead! Who doesn’t like Irene? She was a real dame! Maggie was a radio fan in Twenty Million Sweethearts, one of those of so cute but ah-so-shallow 30s musicals with Dick Powell. The plot is almost always the same, and Dick plays a good guy who makes it big due to his voice and is almost corrupted by fame, but then changes gears and becomes a good, old, normal guy again. Just change leading ladies and the music, and you have it! There was also The Key, a serious drama about the Anglo-Irish conflict with William Powell and Edna Best – the movie has low ratings but the people seem to like it, which is no surprise, almost everyone likes William! And I love seeing pro English actresses in the screen, like Edna. Their diction, carriage, everything – absolutely enchanting!

Then there was also Madame Du Barry, an interesting but ultimately flawed costume drama about the eponymous Madame. Sadly, the censors had a field day with this one, and what seemed like a good idea (showing the lavish, decadent, over the top life of the French court just before the French revolution) ended up a lukewarm soap opera at best. But at least we have the alluring Dolores Del Rio, and tons of impressive costumes! Then came the quite weird The Case of the Lucky Legs, a Perry Mason mystery which turns out to be a wacky comedy and Mason is played by our favorite Pre-Code cad, Warren William! Yep, an orderly and sharp lawyer that we have all seen countless time on TV is played here as a man who uses salty language, laughs at your face all the time and is not adverse to using a bit of the brute force when needed. Unusual but not for the Perry Mason purist. I personally love William so it’s worth watching just for him!

Margaret’s last two movies were Girl from Avenue A (a gentle comedy with Jane Withers about a poor girl who is tutored by a rich young man to become a high society girl, something like My fair lady) and The Strawberry Blonde, a James Cagney-Olivia de Havilland-Rita Hayworth classic.

That was it from Margaret!

PRIVATE LIFE

Maggie hit the news in 1935,when the famous actor George Brent said in an article that he thought that Margaret was one of the most beautiful women in the world. Nice words coming from such a seasoned charmer like George (remember, he married Ann Sheridan, Constance Worth and Ruth Chatterton!)

To supplement her dancing thin income, Maggie became a stand-in. She became the stand-in of the famous French actress, Annabella, when she played the starring role in the technicolor success. “Wings of the Morning,” Annabella and Maggie became great friends, and it was Annabella who suggested to Maggie to try her hand at other venues except dancing/acting – namely, make-up! When it became clear that he career was a actress/dancer came to a standstill, Maggie became a makeup artist at Warner Brother Studios. It was literary a beginning in a new world, one that suited Maggie wonderfully. She proved to be very good at her job, and word of her skills travelled around the globe. A year later, she was summoned to London to make pictures for the Denham Studios. Working in the movie industry in the UK, she branched even farther – she became associated with a cosmetic firm in London. I couldn’t find the name of the firm, but it was a famous stage and screen make-up and cosmetic firm catering to many popular actors and actresses. And that’s not all – she was awarded first prize in the make-up competition in a Hair and Beauty Fair held in Olympia, London. According to the Modern Beauty Shop, national trade journal which covered the story, the fair was held every other year and was one of the most notable events in the hairdressing world.

However, dark clouds were looming on the horizon – namely, Hitler and the start of WW2. Maggie saw the writing on the wall quite on time, and was safely back home before 1939 even started. Maggie’s homecoming ended up a joyous one, as she also met a man she fell madly in love with – Nicholas Whitney Copeland, better known to the moviegoing crowd as Nick Copeland. He was born on October 14, 1894, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Leon Copeland and Ethel Donovitz.

He grew up in Illinois, served his country in WW1 for a year, and after the war was over, decided to become an actor. He moved to Los Angeles and became a prolific albeit low-profile actor, who racked up more than 100 credits to his name. Most of them were in very minor roles, but still, Nick was a working actor, active non stop from his debut in 1928, which can’t be said for a whole lot of people in a fickle town like Hollywood. Some of his more prominent movies were “The Thin Man” (1934), “The Woman in Red” (1935), “Reckless” (1935), “Wife vs. Secretary” (1936), “Who Killed Gail Preston?” (1938), “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939). Nick was married twice before – to Marjorie V. Brayton on June 26, 1920, in Indiana (but the marriage was short lived and dissolved by 1923), and then to Grace Rhea Catto, in Michigan, on August 19, 1925. It seems he did not have any children.

The couple were wed on June 12, 1939, in Los Angeles. Their married life started out nicely, with Maggie pregnant before the year was out. Their son Dennis Wyun Copeland was born on February 14, 1940, just in time for St. Valentine’s day.

However, this idyll was short lived – Nick had serious heart problems for years by then, and he died form a heart attack on August 17, 1940, with their son barely six months old. Maggie was left a widow at just 31 years of age, and with a small son to support.

Sadly, the bad news just kept pouring in. Maggie soldiered on, but by 1941, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought the decease valiantly, and even traveled to visit her parents in Palm Beach in April 1942. Her high school friends held a lovely gathering in her honor, with floral arrangements of gerber, gladioli and phlox. A gift was presented to Maggie where her guests inscribed their names in an autograph book. What sweet memories, and just when she needed them the most.

Maggie returned to Los Angeles by May, and was all set for a big operation. She gathered her strength, and entered the hospital in early August. The operation went well enough, but Maggie developed pneumonia in the aftermath. Her body already weak, she fought as much as she could. She was taken home from the hospital in a bid to make a recover. Sadly, it was there that she lost the battle.

Margaret Copeland died on August 6, 1942, in Los Angeles.

Charlotte Munier

Charlotte Munier

Charlotte Munier was a daughter of two actors in the old tradition, who played on the stage for decades and traveled all around the US with stock companies. It’s no wonder she became an actress herself, playing leading roles in the theater from the time she could walk, but ultimately, after a very brief Hollywood career, she decided to devote her life to family, retired and never looked back. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Charlotte Frances Munier was born on September 9, 1919, in San Diego, California, to Charlotte Treadway and Ferdinand Munier. Both of her parents were deeply involved in showbiz – her mother a stage actress, and her father a stage actor and director and generally a very colorful man. Ferdinand was a graduate of Stanford University and traveled widely in Europe and Australia acting m stock and vaudeville. A California native, after many travels he returned to his native state to direct and act With the Henry Duffy Players. Charlotte also acted and danced in the Duffy players, and this is how they got together and married in 1913.

The family moved to San Francisco sometime in the 1920s to continue working with the Duffy players. Charlotte grew up in the city, with the film buzz never far away. Being the child of two thespians, it was only natural that Charlotte chime in the family business. She appeared in the theater from the time she could walk, mostly in her parents’ shows. Her talent was more than visible when she attended  the West Portal School and was named the most promising actress of the school. Here is an article about 9-year-old Charlotte and her work in a play:

Munier does not ant to be classified as a “stage child.” Vita: not, I’m an actress. I intend to play leads when I grow up,” asserts the -9-year-old player who has the) role of Peggy Forsythe in “The Masquerader,” . which Guy Bates Post and the Henry Duffy Players are presenting at the Hollywood Play House. “My father is a stage director,” says Charlotte, “and ever since I can remember he has said .I don’t want you a stage child. If you were one you’d be the worst nuisance in the world.” Charlotte’s argument being un answerable, she must be classed as an, actress. , . to proof of her desire not to -be considered a child of the stage, she put away her dolls when she was 6 years old. “They’re silly.” she said. Shi received sixty-three telegrams wishing her good-luck on the opening day of “The Mosquerader.” and they are pinned, fa typical theatrical fashion, on the wall of her dressing-room. She insists on making herself up for each performance, although a governess accompanies her to’ the theater. And at the age or 9 miss Munier already expresses a preference for emotional leads. None of these Little Evas or Little Willies for me,” she succinctly ” or I will never live them down.”

Charlotte later went from trench to strength with her dramatic prowess, containing her success in her high school, Fairfax High School, appearing in almost all of the school’s plays. Somehow she nabbed a Hollywood contract, and of she went!

CAREER

Charlotte appeared in only two movies, Forty Little Mothers and Calling Dr. Gillespie.

Forty Little Mothers an Eddie Cantor comedy with a bit slack but serviceable story: An out-of-work professor gets a break from an old college buddy to teach at an exclusive girl’s school. But events conspire against him: he finds an abandoned child which he takes under his wing, despite the school’s rules against teachers having a family; and the girls in the school resent his replacing a handsome and popular teacher, and do everything in their power to get him fired. What to say about Eddie Cantor, like most comedians he’s a hit or miss, depends if you like or dislike this brand of comedy. His movies mostly follow suit – this one however is a slight example – it’s still vintage Cantor, but with a warm and tender core. This is a classic Hollywood at its best regarding nice, fuzzy, endearing movies that will make you believe in humanity again. Again, this isn’t a serious drama with complex characters and a multilayered story, but heck, if it’s a nice piece of moviemaking why not watch it? Also, there are plenty of gorgeous girls in it – Charlotte, Martha O’Driscoll, Bonita Granville, Rita Johnson, Margaret Early, Diana Lewis … Plus Judith Anderson! Love this woman!

Charlotte’s second feature was Calling Dr. Gillespie, an interesting entry into the Dr. Gillespie movie series. The outline is well known – the grumpy Dr. Gillespie, played by Lionel Barrymore, maybe a very ruff man on the outside, but on the inside he’s a very, very good person who wants to help people. His assistant (played by Lew Ayres) is there to do the legwork. So this movie is basically a serial movie with no big quality factors (they can be good but are usually mediocre and made for the fans not the general public), it does deal with something Hollywood tended to avoid in a wide arc- mental illness. The patient Dr. Gillespie tries to cure is a raving lunatic who starts to kill people around, and while the problem is banalized and sometimes insensitively shown, it still packs a punch and asks to look deeper into the psyche of such men. In most movies they are just bad boogie men who need to be overpowered, here he is actually a man, with a myriad of problems, who starts to do some bad things when . The cast is uniformly good – Lionel Barrymore, Phillip Dorn, Donna Reed, Phil Brown. (Lew Ayres, Barrymore’s usual assistant in the previous movies was absent due to being a conscientious objector during the War and was serving in the medical corps).

That was it from Charlotte!

PRIVATE LIFE

Both of Charlotte’s parents had decent acting careers in Hollywood. Her father appeared in shows like “Diamond Horseshoe,” and played in “Barretts of Wimpole St., and. “Clive of India”. Here is his bio by the legendary Hal Erickson (taken from the Fandango site):

Rotund, ruddy-faced character actor Ferdinand Munier first showed up in films around 1923. Blessed with a rich, rolling voice that perfectly matched his portly frame, Munier flourished in the talkie era, playing scores of pompous foreign ambassadors, gouty aristocrats, and philandering businessmen. His many screen assignments included King Louis XIII in The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) and the aptly named Prince Too-Much-Belly in Diamond Horseshoe. A perfect Santa Claus type, Ferdinand Munier was frequently cast as Saint Nick, most amusingly in Laurel and Hardy‘s Babes in Toyland (1934) and Hope and Crosby‘s Road to Utopia (1945).

Charlotte’s mother and namesake acted less in movies and mostly appeared in B class films, but she has some good ones on her résumé, like Margie, The Flame of New Orleans (with Marlene Dietrich), It Started with Eve (with Deanna Durbin), Gentleman Jim (with Errol Flynn and Alexis Smith).

Charlotte also did work in the theater and radio for a bit after her movie career faltered. You can listen to her in the Lux radio Theater version of All This and Heaven Too.

Charlotte’s private life was very low-key and down to Earth. While attending Fairfax High School, in 1937 she met and often acted with a youngster names George Edwin Cardwell. Soon they were a couple as well as serious acting partners. Their relationship was put to the tests a bit when Charlotte “went Hollywood” in 1940, but they managed to pull through.

The war broke out in 1941, and George was soon drafted. Like many young people, uncertain of the future, the couple decided to get married. So, Charlotte married George Edwin Cardwell on December 28, 1942, in Los Angeles. George was born on January 9, 1920, in Los Angeles to Edward Cardwell and Mamdora Loy. He grew up in the city and got into amateur theatricals in high school.

Unlike many wartime marriages, their was a very happy union. The couple lived in Los Angeles, with Charlotte more or less retired from films and occasionally doing a theatrical play. It seems they did not have any children.

Charlotte Munier Cardwell died on April 19, 1967, in Los Angeles, California

George Edwin Cardwell died on January 23, 2005, in Ventura, California.

Amo Ingraham

Amo Ingraham was not just any random chorus girl – she was the daughter of a famous musical composer, Herbert Ingraham. However, Herbert died very young when Amo was just a baby – this set the course for the rest of her life. Being the daughter of such a famous man who become a semi-legend due to his early demise, was both a boon and a impediment for Amo who had to find her own way in life. But let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Herberta Amo Ingraham was born on July 8, 1909, in New York City, New York to Herbert Ingraham and Frances “Frankie” S. Campbell, their only child. Her father was a noted composer who died on August 24, 1910, when Amo was just one year old. Being the daughter Herbert Ingraham would have a huge impact on Amo’s life, as would his early death forever change the lives of both daughter and mother. In order to better understand this situation, here is the whole story of Amo’s dad, as written in his obituary:

 Herbert Ingraham was born in Joliet, Illinois, on July 6th, 1882. He was the oldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Ingraham, and came to Whiting with his parents when a very small boy. He was very popular with all who knew him, and when very young his talent in music manifested itself. At a very tender age he was a wonderful piano player as well as an exceptional violinist. .At the time of his death his playing was nothing short of a wonder.. About five years ago he began composing both vocal and instrumental music. One of his first songs was, “I Would If I Could But I Can’t, Because I’m Married Now.” This is the song which started him on the road to fame. When sung in New York it made a great hit, ‘especially with . Maurice Shapiro, the great music publisher, of Broadway and Thirty-ninth street. New York. Sahpiro waited for”. Mabel’ Hlte who had sung the sung, and asked the composer. They found great difficulty in learning just who Herbert Ingraham was, but finally learned that he was in Chicago, where he was at that time directing a band at the White City. Shapiro made a flying trip to Chicago whore he interviewed the composer. He then contracted with Ingraham to write his music for him exclusively. Four years ago he left for New York, where he has since been writing for Shapiro, and the number of his productions in this short time has been surprising, especially since for the past two years, he has been suffering from tuberculosis. Several of his songs were composed while lying in bed, too ill to be up. Some of Mr. Ingraham’s songs are: “Roses,” “The Ideal of My Dreams,’, “Aint You Coming Out Tonight,’ “Mis-tah Johnson, Goodnight,” “Go Find a Sweetheart From the Emerald Isle,” “I’ll Be Back In A Minute,” “When I Dream In The Glooming of You,”, “Won’t You Waltz Home Sweet Home With Me,” “When Heine Waltzed Round With His Hickory Limb,” “Tittle, Tittle. Tattle Tale.” and “Amo” (Lovell an intermezzo, which is arranged in both vocal and instrumental form. In addition to these are several others, and a number yet to be published. One song Mr. Ingraham did not live to finish, was about his little daughter, Herbie Amo, who is named after her father, and the song “Amo” which he has written. The death of Mr. Ingraham is mourned not only by a large circle of friends in Whiting, but in every place he has ever been, and not1 only those with whom he has come in contact personally, but with all who have enjoyed his music, which had a charm that none can. forget. , He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Frankie Campbell Ingraham, and 13 months old daughter, his, parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Ingraham, two sisters, Mrs. Sella Hendrickson, and Miss Myrtle Ingraham, and two -brothers. of Train Wreck Near Messrs. Robert and Roy Ingraham.

Many things in Amo’s life would be thus connected to her being Herbert’s daughter. As most things in life, this is as the same time a boon and a . On one hand, she continued her father’s legacy. On the other hand, many things were stuck in the past, in the “heyday” as we call it, and it’s much more difficult to move on when somebody so young and full of potential dies before fulfilling his .

After Herbert’s death, Fankie and Amo lived for a time in New York, then went to live with Frankie’s mother Lydia in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Frankie’s younger brother Eddie also lived with them. Amo grew up in Minnesota and attended elementary and high school there. Much like her dad, she had a knack for showbiz – she was a very good dancer. This propelled her to try her luck in New York after graduating from high school, working as a chorus girl in various nightclubs. Somehow she ended up in Los Angeles and her career started in 1929.

CAREER

Amo appeared in a variety of lively 1930s musicals, sometime with a bevvy of scantly clad ladies (and you betcha that Amo was one of them)! When I checked her resume, I was amused to see that she appeared in not, one, not two but three Golddiggers movies – Gold Diggers of 1933, Gold Diggers of 1935 and Gold Diggers of 1937 and the cosmopolitan Gold Diggers in Paris. What so say, we all know what type of a movie they are – dance, sing, plenty of pretty ladies and fancy camerawork, and shiny, shiny costumes. Story, characters – meh, who’s even asking! Amo also made two silent movies, The Wild Party and Chasing Husbands.

Amo played the chorus girls plenty of times – except her Golddiggers sojourn, she was a chorine in: Palmy Days a totally whacky but very entertaining Eddie Cantor musical (perhaps one of his best!), Flying High, a not particularly successful Broadway transplant about a genius inventor (Bert Lahr) and his tries to dodge a very persistent admirer (Charlotte Greenwood),. Night World, an truly outstanding but little known movie, sharp as a tack and seedy as heck, about various going on in a prohibition Era night club, with an outstanding cast (Boris Karloff, George Raft, Lew Ayres, Mae Clarke…), The Match King, a very good movie about a ruthless industrials who will do anything to become number one (Warren William, a superb actor of the pre-Code era, perhaps gives his bets performance here), It’s Great to Be Alive a really weird musical with a totally out of this world whack story (An aviator who crash landed on an island in the South Pacific returns home to find that he is the last fertile man left on Earth after an epidemic of masculitus), Footlight Parade, a very sleazy but enjoyable precoder about the seedy New York underground with James Cagney in the lead, Fashions of 1934, a shallow but pretty to look at musical with Bette Davis and William Powell (as you can guess per the name of the movie, it’s all about fashions!), Wonder Bar, a witty and sparkly Al Jolson musical with the alluring Kay Francis as the female lead (and with a convoluted but a bit half brained story, but who’s asking), Varsity Show, another 30s musical, but since this one isn’t a Pre-Code, with much less scantly clad girls and more wholesome fun and Hollywood Hotel a typical Busby Berkeley extravaganza with Dick Powell in the lead .

Despite being foremost a prolific showgirl, Amo appeared in various other uncredited, small roles – in Merrily We Go to Hell, a drama dealing with alcoholism in a very simplistic way (Frederic March, an actor I adore, plays the drunk, and Sylvia Sidney is his devoted wife), she was a bridesmaid. The movie isn’t a bad piece of work, but it become predictable and almost didactic along the way, and as I noted, doesn’t’ really show the gist of a problem for an alcoholic and his family. She played a very small part in the murder mystery, The Woman Accused , perhaps more famous today as one of Cary Grant’s early movie than anything else. The movie is nothing to shout about, although it does have it’s moments. The story is a slight rip of from One way passageNancy Carroll plays a woman who is very happy with her new fiancée, Cary Grant. When an old flame comes back to threaten to have him killed, she kills him before he gets the chance. She then takes off on a 3-day cruise with Cary, convinced that it will be the only time they’ll have before she is caught. The cast is pretty okay, and there are some twists and turns, so it is watchable. Amo played by namesake in Stage Struck, a benign but not particularly exciting musical with Dick Powell and Jeanne Madden. Director Busby Berkeley is somehow out of form here, with little of his usual extravaganza moments.

Amo’s last movie, made in 1942, was Take a Letter, Darling, a romantic comedy in which the battle of the sexes involves Rosalind Russell’s career woman falling in love with her male secretary, played by Fred MacMurray. Directed by Mitchell Liesen, a very good craftsman, this is what classic Hollywood movies often are, infinitely charming and nice to look at. No big depth.

That was it from Amo!

PRIVATE LIFE

Amo was born in NYC, grew up in Minneapolis and ended up in California, but she was connected to her father’s hometown, Hammond, Indiana. Herbert and Frankie resided in Hammond before going to New York and on Herbert’s death the body was returned for burial. She visited the place often.

Amo also had an almost esoteric interest in cooking, as this newspaper tidbit can attest:

Amo Ingraham doesn’t care much for fiction At the moment she’s deep in a volume dealing with south copying recipes ‘’I’m not planning on much professional use for them” she say? “But I like to’ cook once In a while and I think some soiuthern dishes are marvelous ”

As we already noted, Amo’s role as Herbert’s daughter was very important for her and greatly shaped her life. She worked tirelessly to continue his legacy. In 1936, Amo took the time to renew many of her father’s 1909 and 1910 copyrights in her name. Amo’s mother Frankie also remained very close to the Ingraham legacy, opting to to remarry and upon her own death in 1933 being buried next to her husband in the Hammond cemetery.

Amo married John Stuart Hyde on June 30, 1943. Hyde was circa 1891, in England, to William Hyde and Mary Cooper. John moved to the US at some point, got into California real estate and married his first wife, divorcing her later. He was a successful real estate man when he married Amo.

Little is known about their marital life, except they lived in Los Angeles and Amo was mostly retired from movies and showbiz by then. The marriage lasted until the early 1950s. Hyde remarried in 1953 and died on February 5, 1985.

Amo never remarried and spent her last years living in Santa Monica, California, surrounded by friends and family.

Amo Ingraham died on November 2, 1983, in Los Angeles and is interred at Forest Lawn-Glendale.

 

Dene Myles

 

Dene Myles came to Hollywood when she was barely 19 years old, young in age but actually a stage veteran, a seasoned dancer to be precise. How come? Well, due to difficult economic circumstances, Dene had danced professionally since she was 15 years old. Unfortunately, like most dancers that hit Hollywood with no dramatic background, she was relegated to the chorus and never credited in any movie she appeared in. Dene gave up movies and left for New York by 1940, and after a solid chorus girl career retired to raise a family. Let’s learn more about her.

 

EARLY LIFE

Farnese Ileana Anderson was born on August 8, 1916, in Los Angeles, California, to Samuel Earl Anderson and Mary Lawler. Her older sister Alice Marie was born on January 6, 1914. Her father was a cigar dealer by profession, born in Montana, who served in WW1.

Farnese grew up in Los Angeles, and was a lively child who loved going to movies and had a knack for dancing. She attended local dancing schools and had hopes of becoming a pro dancer one day. Money was tight for the family, but they always managed to push on (like many other families, and today, of the time did/do). 

Unfortunately, her desire was fulfilled in a distressing and non-pleasant way. Dene’s father died in 1930, in the middle of the great depression, and in order to help her mother with the upkeep of family, Dene abandoned her high school studies (she was only 15 years old, with 8 grades of elementary school under her belt) and became a professional dancer. She danced in various LA nightclub spots for several years.

It was during her tenure as a nightclub dancer that Dene was spotted by eminent choreographer LeRoy Prinz, and chosen to be one of his dancers. Since Prinz worked in the movie industry, he just pulled Dene along and there she was, ready to start a film career!

CAREER

Dene Myles does not have any credits on IMDB, which is very weird since she was always pictured with a string of actresses who appeared in various LeRoy Prinz musicals. I can only assume that Dene did too, but she was not credited and simply forgotten.

What I do know is that Dene appeared on the publicity for the movie Anything Goes, so let us assume she played a dancer in it. Anything Goes is an adaptation of a Cole Porter musical with Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman. Yep, this is one of the few movies La Merman appeared in, and this is perhaps the strongest reason to see it. Of course, that isn’t saying much – the movie suffers from the “censoritis” syndrome. We all know how witty and funny Cole was, and the censors hated such witty and funny men and tried to put them to size any time they could. Yet, there a some good stuff to be enjoyed in the movie, and it’s far from the bottom of the barrel.

That was it from Dene! 

PRIVATE LIFE

Dene came to Hollywood in a bunch consisting of Beula Mc Donald, Kay Gordon, Dorothy Thompson, Bonita Barker and Esther Pressman and herself. All six were under the protection and guidance of LeRoy Prinz, studio dance director. For about a year the girls appeared in various pictures, and it was through his sponsorship that they were given solid contracts. In a nutshell, the group was a kind of experiment cooked by LeRoy who probably planned to propel not one but 6 girls into stardom via clever bit of publicity (she were often photographer together and got major coverage in the papers). Not the worst idea, but I can’t say it was successful. Neither of the girls reaped a quality career, but hey, they did work in Hollywood for at least a year which is not that bad in itself.

Dene, as a contractee of Paramount pictures, was signed to the stock theater by the studio and received dramatic training in the Phyllis Laughton school (along with her fellow starlets). We can assume that Dene did get her training and appeared in the local theater plays. Yes, studios often had stock theaters where people could go and see movie actors act in plays. Of course you probably wouldn’t see William Holden there, but it was a great chance to get some experience and get noticed by producers.

As for her love life, it was pretty low key. Dene dated Leif Erickson, and they were pretty serious for a short time before breaking up. Leif went on to marry Frances Farmer. On a side note, Dene loved to play lacrosse in her spare time.

Her career was going nowhere by 1938, and Dene was aware that she had to find other means of employment. Before 1940, with her mother and sister Alice, Dene moved from Hollywood to NYC, planning to continue her dance career. She travelled and performed with the USO, danced on and off Broadway using her stage name “Dean Myles”. Dene was a real working dancer, dancing non stop in various shows, but in the mid 1940s her life changed. She appeared in the Broadway show Mexican Hayride, and met her future husband, Paul Haakon.

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Haakon was married when they fell in love, and divorced his wife to be able to marry Dene in 1946. Paul Haakon was born on September 7, 1911, in Fredericia, Denmark. He studied at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen. Afterwards he went to the US and became a professional dancer. He danced at Radio City Music Hall with prominent ballerina Patricia Bowman. Soon he landed on Broadway, appearing in the musicals “Champagne Sec” in 1933, “At Home Abroad” in 1935, “The Show is On” in 1936 and “Hooray for What!” in 1937.

In 1935, he joined the American Ballet, forerunner of the NYC Ballet, but only briefly, finding ballet’s low salaries detrimental. Haakon stopped dancing in the early ‘40s, due to WW2 – during that time he toured with the USO, then returned to dance and worked as an assistant choreographer & dancer in Warner Brothers films and TV series.

After he married Dene, Paul went on to dance with the Jose Greco Spanish Ballet before becoming a ballet master and production manager with that organization. He retired in 1970 and earned a living as a salesman and mail handler.

Dene and Paul lived in New York, and had one daughter: Dana, born on January 26, 1953, and possibly a son, Ronald Anthony, born on February 14, 1948. Unfortunately, their marriage was already on its last legs by then, and they divorced the next year. Paul Haakon married Violet Dunne in 1955 and had two more children.

After the divorce, Dene returned to the place of her birth, California, and continued living quietly in Los Angeles, long retired from dancing. She did not remarry.

Dene Myles Haakon died on April 14, 1971, in Los Angeles, California.

Roma Aldrich

Pretty blonde Roma Aldrich was a model and champion swimmer who came to Hollywood without any extensive dramatic training, nor with a burning desire to act. However, she was nice looking and personable enough to net herself a short movie career. Let’s hear more about it! 

EARLY LIFE

Roma Darl Aldrich was born in New York City, New York on September 12, 1920, to William Frank and Hazel Aldrich. Her older brother William Frank Jr. was born on January 23, 1913. Her father was an electrical contractor, born in Texas.

The family, seeking a more peaceful environment to raise their children, moved to Ashbury Park, New Jersey in the mid 1920s. Roma grew up there and attended elementary school. Roma’s passion back then, when she was a teen, was not acting or indeed modeling, but rather swimming – once she caught the swimming bug, she never looked back, and spent a large chunk of her free time in the local pool. The hard work paid off – Roma became one of the best female swimmers on the East coast in the 1930s! She was so good she represented the Colony Surf Club on the East Coast and was Far East state champion. She held the 220 yard record for women.

After graduation from high school, Roma went to New York, where she became a photo model. I assume that there she was spotted by a talent scout, who torpedoed her to Los Angeles, and her career began!

CAREER

Rom appeared in only five movies in her career. 

Roma’s first movie was Parachute Nurse, a woman empowerment movie typical for the WW2 period with the ever reliable Marguerite Chapman in the lead, plying the eponymous nurse that parachutes into the most difficult terrain to help people who otherwise can’t get any medical attention. Roma has an interesting role of a fellow parachute nurse. Many other starlets-of-the-hour appeared in the movie – Kay Harris, Audrene Brier, Louise Albritton, Shirley Patterson, Catherine Craig, Eileen O’Hearn, Marjorie Riordan… 

Up next was a big thing! Roma’s career highlight was, IMHO sadly, a low budget western – Frontier Fury. She plays the female lead and got quite a bit of publicity over it. As I noted several times, I refrain from writing about low budget westerns since I have literary 0 interest in them, so can’t write much about Roma’s one major moment of fame.

Not much better, but slightly more palatable for my taste, was her next movie, another low budget western, Klondike Kate. Why? Well, Frontier Fury is a true blue western with exclusively western stars and a very typical western story. Klondike Kate, on the other hand, is actually a drama-comedy set in a western surroundings, with a diverse and very good cast that was actually not known for their western roles – Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Constance Worth (yep, these people were more known for film noir than anything else!). And we have a very yummy love triangle between Tom, Ann and Constance, plus all the usual – saloon fights, gun fights, horses! For people who like hard core westerns, this probably isn’t their cup of tea, but for me, watching Tom Neal and Ann Savage in any surroundings is a-okay, even if it’s a frontier type of setting.   

Next up was a funny and mostly well made B crime movie, Double Exposure. As one reviewer nicely wrote in is review of the movie on IMDB, “this is a really entertaining little offering in which an able cast led by Chester Morris (the magazine editor), Nancy Kelly (the freelance photographer), Richard Gaines (the exercise-conscious publisher), Philip Terry (the freelancer’s boyfriend) and Charles Arnt (a millionaire of the marrying kind) mix comedy, romance and a murder mystery with most entertaining results.” It has a nifty story, solid cast, nice gags and overall it’s a low budget but well made movie. 

Roma’s last movie was Mickey the Great, not a real movie per see but some pasted on footage of the Mickey McGuire movies, framed by a mini movie where Roma plays one of the leading roles. She is one of three women reminiscing about their times as Mickey McGuire’s gang members. Mickey McGuire is of course played by a very young Mickey Rooney, and it is this curiosity that makes the movie perhaps worth watching for Mickey fans. Clocking at 50 minutes, it’s short and cute but that was it. 

That’s it from Roma! 

PRIVATE LIFE

When Roma came to Hollywood, in order to boost up her visibility and make her more palatable to the general public, she was nicknamed The Eggplant girl. Yes, as a part of a publicity stunt she posed with an eggplant. The more I write this blog, the more such publicity stunts crop up, and I must say, some of them leave me speechless. Who made up these things…

In real life, outside these silly publicity games, Roma seemed like a normal, down-to-earth gal. She was quite close to her parents and after she left home visited them often. In 1940, they went on a Hawaiian vacation together. In Hollywood she did mingle occasionally with the in-crowd, befriending Carole Parker, having dinner fêtes at Sardi’s and often going horseback riding in Bel-Air.

Via that stellar high-society crew, Roma famously met and dated Jimmy’ Roosevelt, son of president F.D. Roosevelt, in late 1940 (during his love spat with nurse Romelle Schneider). The idyll between Roma and Jimmy didn’t last particularly long, since Roosevelt and Schneider were still in love, and Roma was likely only a band aid to mend a broken heart. Romelle and Jimmy made up and soon Roma was out of the picture.

Roma’s next beau was Randolph “Randy” Scott, famous actor. That also did not last long, just a few months in 1941. Then in late 1941 Roma started dating her future husband, Arthur W. Armstrong. Roma married him on September 4, 1942 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unlike her former more flashy beaus, Armstrong was a normal guy, working as a bookkeeper. Born in Ohio in 1908, he came to California in the late 1920s and lived with his father and brother in Los Angeles for a time. 

Roma falls out of the newspaper radar from now on. She obviously gave up movies and worked in other fields, but I have no idea exactly what or how. She possibly had a son, born on February 27, 1950, named James Delbert Armstrong.

Roma and Armstrong divorced at some point in the early 1950s (before 1955). In 1955 Roma was involved in a car accident and had some knee problems demanding a convalescence period in rehabilitation facilities. Roma was an avid swimmer this whole time, and kept up the hobby long after her Hollywood career ended.  

Roma did not remarry and remained living in Los Angeles.

Roma Aldrich died on January 18, 1984, in Santa Monica, California