Lorraine Allen Breecher


Lorraine Allen Breecher achieved a minor level of fame by dating a string of prominent men – Busby Berkeley and George Raft, ultimately marrying rhumba king Xavier Cugat. Even after her movie career failed, she rallied and became one of the few female bandleaders, giving her husband, Cugat, more than a run for his money.


Lorraine Stein was born on July 22, 1916 in Chicago, Illinois, to Herman Stein and Ethel Rubin. Her younger brother Jack was born in 1923.

Lorraine’s father worked as a garment merchant, her mother was a housewife. The family lived with her maternal grandparents, Barney and Bessie Rubin before Jack’s birth – afterwards they lived with lodgers. Lorraine grew up and was educated in Chicago. I have no idea how she landed in Los Angeles and into movies, but she was there by 1943.


Lorraine appeared in only two movies, and it’s clear her movie career is not truly her forte. A dancer, she appeared in the capacity in The Gang’s All Here, an Alice Faye musical, directed by her one time fiancee, Busby Berkeley. You know the drift – plot – non existent, a great deal of singing, dancing and good sense of camaraderie between the cast.  The comedy is okay, nothing to sneer at. Carmen Miranda is in it, so that is a plus also.

lorraineallen5Her second appearance was in Cinderella Jones, one of Joan Leslie’s lesser efforts (I wrote about this movie at least 3 times, next!). After this, Lorraine took a breather from the movie industry.

Under the name of Lorraine Allen, she appeared in only one movie – Holiday in Mexico, and only thanx to her association with Cugat. The plot is simple, even a bit bare-boned – The U.S. Ambassador’s (Walter Pidgeon) daughter (Jane Powell) falls for a Mexican pianist (Jose Iturbi) old enough to be her grandfather. But what more can you ask from a Jane Powell musical? Nothing – the music is wonderful, the dialogue is witty, the cast is very good, it all moves around nicely. Totally forgettable movie, but more than worth a look


Lorraine married and divorced her first husband, a Mr. Breecher, sometime prior to 1943. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to find any more info on this…

Lorraine hits the news in 1943, when she became the prime woman in director Busby Berkeley’s life. Berkeley was born in, making him 21 years Lorraine’s senior.

lorraineallen6They got engaged in early August 1943, and were to be wed in 1944 after he got his final divorce decree from starlet Claire James. Busby gifted her with a expensive diamond sparkler. They were seen all around town in fancy nightclubs. Busby broke his arm in early 1944, and wore a sling over the injured arm, but this did not stop them from going out dancing.

In his biography of Berkeley, author  Jeffery Spivak claims that perhaps the reason Lorraine and Busby broke up was the fact that Busby was at heart a mama’s boy, and he deferred to Gertrude’s wishes more than she found acceptable. Anyway, I was not surprised they didn’t make it to the altar – with three or four wives behind him, Busby was a man prone to bursts of intense feeling that simply ended, and so did his infatuation.

Lorraine wasted no time in entering the dating pool again (I never understood these Hollywood people, they would plunge head first into dating the minute they were free, maybe even before! Did they really think that was the answer to their present mental and emotional state? tough luck, my pretties, it just shows that it ain’t never learned). She was seen with George Raft in October 1944, and in November 1944, she was the swain of attorney Seymour Chotiner. Later it was Steven Crane, the former husband of Lana Turner. She and Raft dated on off for about six of seven months. In May 1945, she was seen with Nat Pearlsten.

Then, in about March 1945, Lorraine got hot and heavy with her future husband, another major celebrity of the time – Xavier Cugat. Cugat was born on January 1, 1900, in Barcelona, Spain, and emigrated with his family to Cuba when he was 5 years old. He was married twice before, to Rita Montaner and Carmen Castillo.

lorraineallenThey traveled abroad together, and by June 1946, the papers were full of stories how Cugat’s marital state (he was still married to his second wife) was the only obstacle to matrimony. That same months, she got her engagement ring (another diamond stunner!). To add to his infatuation, he took Lorraine to a exclusive clothes shop and told her to pick anything she wanted. She took a almost 300$ cocktail dress. Cugar forgot to pay for it, and he was sued by the boutique not long after. They settled out of court. Cugat also persuaded his friend, Joe Pasternak, to test Lorraine for an MGM contract. Nothing came of it (she made only one movie).

In early 1947, Cugat announced Lorraine and he will be wed on October 3, in Mexico, after his divorce becomes final. However, as the date drew nearer, they had to push it day by day, and ultimately give up the option to get married in Mexico. Lorraine kept herself busy by preparing for the upcoming martial life and buying things like orange squeezers, can openers, bacon grills, etc., for their future home.

They married on October 15, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a civil ceremony conducted by Municipal Judge Adrian Bonnelly, and later they had their wedding soiree at Palumbo restaurant. It was second marriage for her and third for him. Cugat gifted his new wife with a magnificent kohinoor mink coat and a muff to match.

lorraineallen2Cugar later recounted how his good friend Joe Pasternak wanted to know the exact date and time of the ceremony, but Cugat was suspicious so he avoided telling him. With good reason – Pasternak wanted to get him arrested half an hour before the ceremony. Sly trickster. Anyway, Cugat bought a gorgeous six-acre estate in Westwood for Lorraine. Famous Mexican artist, Miguel Covarrubias, helped decorate the place. They allegedly had a mink rimmed bathtub.

In february 1948, Cugat Lorraine and fashion designer-cum-playboy Oleg Cassini made newspaper fodder when Cugat flipped after Lorraine danced with Cassini at the Mocambo club. With good cause, as Cassini most certantly was a rake who liked the ladies, and the ladies like him. Lorraine later claimed Cassini did nothing improper, but it was enough for Cugat to ask Cassini for a duel outside the club. They got into a brawl, and Cugat lost. Ah, men and their pride! Anyway, Cugat injured his finger, and Lorraine was livid with him, and refused to speak for two days with him. Cracks were more than visible in their shiny, new marriage.

However, things didn’t get any better. Just a few days later, Lorraine appeared at Ciros, another posh nightclub, with Mary Kunody, sister of insurance broker Arnold Kunody, and her fiancee Charlie Morrison – but Cugat was nowhere in sight. Since Cugat was known to be an explosive, jealous lover, everybody was wondering what happened? Lorraine told the story that he was detained and would return shortly. And Cugie did return – but instead of sitting down with his wife and friends, he sat down with Harry James and Betty Grable. What? Rumors began to circulate in Hollywood abotu the state of the marriage. They made up very publicly a few days later, when she embraced him in front view of the whole audience at the Mocambo, but hah! We all knew it won’t last long.

lorraineallen3However, rumors never lot down. It went so far that the magistrate that married them, Adrian Bonnelly, sent them a letter and urged them to think before separating for good. By September, rumors were rampart that the marriage was on the verge of collapsing. They stuck together for some more time. In early 1949, the couple moved for a time to Brazil. she returned for a few days in June, and all was okay. She flew back to Brazil. Then, when she returned to the US in July, nothing was right. She was to return to Brazil, but had no idea when she would see Cugie. By August, the patched up their quarrel via long distance phone, and she was to return to Brazil. NOT! Something happened between them, and Lorraine filed for divorce in New York on August 19, 1949. They were wed for less than two years. Cogie flew back to New York, and they managed to patch up their differences. In fact, Cugie’s jealousy seemed to be the main reason for the separation. They were badly matched at any rate – Lorraine was a beautiful former starlet who knew her assets and liked flaunting them – Cugie was madly jealous at any man who just looked at her. Bad, bad combo…

Guess what? After a brief idyll, Lorraine sued again in late December 1949, and in January, the divorce made all the papers. She seeker 2000$ temporary alimony a month, Cugie didn’t want to give it to her, he threatened to stay outside of California territory for years, so that the divorce can never be finalizes and so on… The drama wen on and on. For a time Lorraine even threatened to call off the divorce – since Cugat decided to marry his newest singer, Abbe Lane, in the meantime, this was a huge torn at his side. While waiting for the divorce to come trough, Lorraine almost went bankrupt. She also filed a complaint that Cugie cheated on her with six women, one of them Abbe. It was truly a nasty divorce case that dragged for months with no end in sight.

Thing went from bad to worse when Loraine hired detectives that burst into Abbe’s room after a show with Cugat. They allegedly found them naked… You connect the dots. There was much newspaper coverage of the event.  They claimed she was only changing her gowns, that is why she was naked… I can say I was not unpleasantly surprised when I read this… To go this far.. It was clear to everybody that Cugat and Abbe were an item, so why do all the fuss? Why did Lorraine persist in this? Was it a case of wounded feeling or purely material gain? Anyway, Cugat was not much better than Lorraine was. Both acted like spoiled, overgrown children. And on and on it went… Until January 1953, when it was finally settled.

After the divorce was finally given, Lorraine dated oilman Bob Calhoun, agent George Wood and Glenn Ford. She also headed her very own rhumba band, trying to become serious competition to her ex-husband. She even sailed to Europe to look for new talent in 1953.

By November 1953, she was dating millionaire Robert Altman. In April 1954, she married Stanley Stalford, a Los Angeles millionaire banker. The two honeymooned in Europe and visited Paris.

Stanley Murray Stalford was born on April 10, 1919 in New Yersey. He moved to California in the 1940s and got into the banking business. Lorraine retired from showbiz after the marriage, and the couple lived in Beverly Hills. However, they divorced in 1960.

Stalford remarried in 1962, to Joan Frank, and his son, Stanley Jr., was born on January 19, 1964. The boy made newspaper headlines when he was kidnapped in 1968 and held for random for two days before FBI rescued him. Stalford died on June 10, 1980 in California.

In 1964, Lorraine dated songwriter Sammy Khan. That was the last I could find about Lorraine. I have no idea is she alive or dead today. As always, I hope she had a good wife.

Phyllis Adair


Beautiful and regal Phyllis Adair showed an early promise by appearing in a number of low budget westerns. However, when the time came for her to spring up and manage a step forward, career-wise, like many of her contemporaries, she just didn’t make it.


Phyllis Louise Wilsnack was born on May 1, 1919, in Chicago, Illinois, to George and Louise Wilsnack.  Her older sister, Priscilla Mary, was born on August 5, 1911 in Chicago.

Her father, a direct descendant of the noble von Wilsnack line (his great grandfather was count von Wilsnack), was born in 1886 in Berlin, Germany and after finishing his education in Europe, in 1908 he emigrated to the US and settled Chicago, Illinois. Her worked as a chemical engineer, specializing in making cement. Her mother, Louise Wingertier, was born in Buffalo, New York and came from a prominent Swiss family.

The family lived in Chicago, where Phyllis and Priscilla grew up. The family moved to Easton, Pennsylvania, in the early 1930s. After living in Easton for a few years, they departed for Los Angeles after Phyllis graduated from high school so she can attend college in Los Angeles.

Phyllis enrolled into college in Los Angeles (could not find which one), and there met her first husband. In the meantime, she started to act professionally, appearing in several little theater productions. She was seen by a talent scout, and soon started her movie career.


Phyllis appeared in a great deal of low-budget westerns (oh my!). The list is as follows: Wild Horse ValleyBilly the Kid’s Fighting PalsLand of Hunted MenRiders of the Dawn and Gunning for Vengeance. As per usual, I’m not going to write anything about these charming movies, I am definitely not a fan of big budget, much less low budget westerns.

Her filmography is peppered with more valiant tries. her first ever movie, made in 1939, was All Women Have Secrets, in what seems like an interesting movie about few young people (students to be precise) who pool their resources to make their life better. Hollywood rarely tackled with such everyday problems, and it’s sure a breeze of fresh air to see movies like this. The cast has some hidden gems that would surface later – Jeanne Cagney, Janet Waldo and Veronica Lake.

phyllis-adair-and-max-terhune-1Phyllis made another movie in 1944, Abroad with Two Yanks, about (guess!) Two US soldiers and their adventures in Australia during WW2. The movie was made as a morale booster and thus hold little merit outside that field. it’s not a bad lot, but it’s a lightweight comedy and that’s about it…At least William Bendix and Helen Walker (in the lead roles) manage to do their job admirably.

God Is My Co-Pilot is perhaps the best known movie of Phyllis’a career, and yet it’s far from a full pledges classic everybody knows today. However, the movie, about Robert Lee Scott, a Georgia native who became a flying Tiger and did miraculous things during WW2, is well made and solid, if anything else. Scott is played by Warner Bros favorite bland and uninteresting every-guy, Dennis Morgan! I know, I may be harsh towards Morgan, but I’ve seen a few of his movies and I truly never understood his appeal. He was neither handsome not a particularly good actor… He’s far from the wooden magnificence of John Boles or John Gavin, but he just doesn’t do it for me. The supporting cast is much better – Dane Clark, Raymond Massey, Andrea King.

In 1945, Phyllis appeared in Kitty, a wonderful historical movie about the rise and rise of a simple London wench, with Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland in the lead roles. Just as I don’t like Morgan, thus I like Milland. He had some limitations as an actor, but he sure managed to leave a mark in most movies he appeared in. Paulette, in a similar vein, was not a great actress, but had screen presence and a feline, alluring vibe. What the film does right is putting these two actors in roles absolutely perfect for them – Milland as a charming cad and Paulette as a feisty gold digger. Add to this a solid script, great costumes and set design, and we have a winner!

dennis-moore-and-phyllis-adairTo Each His Own was another great entry into Phyllis’ filmography, a very good example of a weepy woman’s picture done right. When you have Paulette Goddard, Olivia de Havilland and Charles Boyer, you can’t really go wrong, now can you? They truly don’t make them like this no more! The Glass Alibi is a so-so thrilled with some good twists in it. Sadly, the cast is lackluster (low tier stars like Douglas Fowler and Maris Wrixon) and the director just can’t make this a truly memorable movie experience. Phyllis’ last movie was Of Human Bondage, the lesser remake of a great book. This is the problem when you try to film movies that already have ultimate adaptations. Paul Henreid takes Leslie Howard’s role – too bad he can’t hold a candle to him (despite a strangely charming melancholy strike, Henreid was a sadly mediocre actor). Eleanor Parker is good in Bette Davis’ role, but let’s be real, nobody can top Davis is that kind of paranoid, nervous roles.

Phyllis returned to the theater even before her movie career ended. Example, from 1948: “Beaux Arts Theater will reopen Dec. 25 with “Holiday Lady,” a new comedy-drama by Luther Yantls, who has also written “Killers,” “Souvenir Sadie” and “Loose Ladles.” The production will be offered by Irving Thorns and Jack Moser. Its plot concerns a young girl of the early 1900’s whose view of life was “far ahead” of the period In which she found herself. Phyllis Adair and Jack Murray will be the principals in a company of 15. ”

By 1949, Phyllis was out of showbiz and raising a family.


Phyllis’ private life was barely mentioned by tabloids, so there is so little information… Anyway, let’s squeeze what we have. First, Phyllis was a stand-in for Peggy Cummins during the filming of Forever Amber. However, we do know that Peggy was ultimately sacked and Linda Darnell took over.

Phyllis married her first husband, med student William Fredrick Eschrich, on February 14, 1940, in Los Angeles. Both of them were in college, and lived with her parents who supported them (bad idea!).

dennis-moore-and-phyllis-adairEschrich was born on February 19, 1916, in Los Angeles, to Julius Eschrich and Aurelia Mountain. He started to attended med school in his home town and met Phyllis during his studies. Sadly, the marriage was terminated in about 1943. After the divorce, William graduated from med school and became a successful doctor. He married Marcella Phillips and had two sons, Gary, born on March 9, 1948 and Tyler, born on January 21, 1950. William practiced medicine in California for the rest of his life and died on January 3, 1990, in Los Angeles.

Phyllis married her second husband, Edward David Bronaugh, in Los Angeles on August 27, 1945. Bronaugh was born on July 12, 1918, to Ruby Rheinhart and Eugene Bronaugh, in Kansas, Missouri. He trained as a pilot and became a commercial airline pilot. He served in the Air Forces during WW2, and spent two and a half years overseas. He was married once before to Mary Louise Boswell – it was a wartime marriage that started on March 12, 1943 and ended that same year.

Phyllis and Edward’s marriage also proved to be very short – they divorced in 1946 or 1947. Bronaugh later moved to GlendaleArizona and got married again, to a woman named Francoise. They had two children, Kelly and Stephane. He died on August 3, 1987 in Arizona.

Phyllis married her third husband, a Mr. Stevenson, in 1948. Their son, Scot Bruce, was born on July 3, 1949. Long retired from showbiz by then, she devoted her time to her family and lived the rest of her days in California.

Phyllis Stevenson died on February 23, 1990 in Los Angeles, California.


Virginia Maples


Virginia Maples was an Earl Carroll dancer who crashed Hollywood and actually managed to get in front of the camera. However, her true claim to fame were not her acting chops, but the man she dated – she was a serious contender to become both Mrs. Phil Silvers and Mrs. George Raft. Let’s hear her story.


Virginia Lillian Maples was born to on January 13, 1921, in Los Angeles, California to Cornelius William Maples and the former Evelyn Rae Kavanaugh. Her father was an army captain who headed the Camp Tulelake. Her younger brother, Richard, was born on March 25, 1926.

Virginia grew up in Manhattan Beach, and dreamed to being an actress/dancer from early childhood. She started dancing before she went to school. In 1937, at just 16 years old, Virginia won the title of Miss Los Angeles. Earl Carroll saw her, liked what he saw, and signed her to become a Carroll girl. Barely 16 years old, Virginia was on her way to greater and bigger things.

There are several version of the story how Virginia was discovered for the movies. In a newspaper article she claimed she was discovered on a beach near her mother’s house. Years later, she claimed she came to the studios gates one day, and said to the guards she wanted to act. Luckily, they needed a dancer that very day, and she got the part. While I can’t be sure, I just think that her engagement in Earl Carroll’s vanities catapulted her to the screen. Anyway, she signed with a major studio in 1941 and started her career.


Virginia made her debut in 1941 with Week-End in Havana, a fun, no-brains-required Alice Faye musical with her standard stock actors – John Payne, Carmen Miranda and Cesar Romero. Truly, Alice’s 1930s and 1940s movies were pure enjoyment, perfect escapism at the end of another mundane working day. The plot is pretty silly (from imdb: In this case it’s Alice Faye, a shopgirl who saved her money for a cruise and in this case the cruise ship ran aground on a reef on the Cuban coast. She just doesn’t want to sign a waiver to get the company off the hook for a lawsuit. So John Payne who is about to become Barbier’s son-in-law is sent to get that waiver by hook or crook.), but you know it’s just an excuse to paste together several singing and dancing scenes.

oakland_tribune_sun__jan_2__1944_Virginia started 1942 with The Mad Martindales, a movie more or less lost today. It’s a pity – the movie seems like a charming, likable family romp with Jane Withers in her usual perky role. Next Virginia appeared in the highly sanitized and inaccurate biography or Ernst Ball, an Irish songwriter, called Irish Eyes Are Smiling. If you watched any musical/biographies, you know the drift – the plot only has minor similarities with the real life of the man it portrays, and there is plenty of nice music and dancing. Dick Haymes, in the leading role, was not a good actor for sure , but he sings well enough, and June Haver witth her happy go lucky act and nice snging saves the day.   

Virginia appeared in only one more musicals – the “war musical” Something for the Boys. Like most propaganda movies, it’s thin int he art but abundant in the fun/morale department. It’s entertaining and nice to watch, but easily forgettable (even Carmen Miranda and Vivian Blaine can’t elevate it to a upper tier status).

virginia-maplesYou know it’s the beginning of the end, or a beginning of a new career when you start appearing in low budget westerns, like Virginia did with Wildfire. After that, you either sink and leave acting, or swim and become a B western heroine. Since the movie was easily forgettable, Virginia left movies for a period of time. She worked in nightclubs and so on.

She only returned to Hollywood in 1954, to appear in tow glossy, high class productions: Woman’s World and Black Widow. Woman’s world is one oft he best movies made abut the corporate world, about three hotshot salesmen and their wives, and the rat race to get ahead int he business. Black Widow is a mixed bag of pleasures. The plot is something right out of Hitchcock (taken from imdb: Van Heflin gives a striking, forceful performance as a theatrical producer in New York City who befriends a lonely 20-year-old girl at a party; she’s a would-be writer hoping for success, he takes a shine to her and offers a helping hand…but then she turns up dead!), and the actors are good enough, but it’s all so overtly dramatic it hurts!

Virginia left movies for good after this.


While Virginia was one of the Earl Carroll girls, she dated Lionel Newman, the Earl Carroll orchestra leader, and there was talk the two would wed. They never did.

virginia-maples2After Newman, Virginia was seen several times with Laurence Tibbett Jr. In May 1942, she was seen with Victor Mature.

Then, in September 1943, Virginia started dating comedian Phil Silvers. Things got serious pretty soon, but theirs was a turbulent, love/hate relationship that just went up and down for about six months. They were cooing one moment, next they were fighting, then they were separated, then they were buying jewelry… it was pretty obvious the relationship would not last. They broke up in April 1943.

Virginia then took up with another famous beau, George Raft. To be sure, George was a notorious skirt chaser that dated all the girls in Hollywood (slight exaggeration, but just slight). He had just come out of a intensive relationship with Betty Grable, who ditched him when his wife refused to grant him a divorce (he used his wife a great many times to excuse himself from remarriage). Betty was furious when she found out that George started dating Virginia, and she tried to make her life a bit more complicated – only an intervention from the studio brass managed to calm down the situation.

George allegedly carried a huge torch for Betty. Since Virginia was a dear ringer for Betty in terms of looks, you can guess where that comes from… To my surprise, they actually dated for a long time – three months!!

virginia-maples3In July 1943, she switched to Tex Feldman. Then dirty laundry came out. Allegedly, when Virginia replaces Betty as George’s number one lady, he forced her to imitate Betty in everything from waling to fashion style. Virginia got sick of it and left him for Feldman. What can I say about Raft? The more I read about him and his ladies,s the less I like him. The guy obviously had some ego problems, as he dated ladies by the load but never remotely considered getting divorced from his wife who lived on the other side of the country. Some sources claim he was unable to divorce his wife, but hey, I think there are means of divorcing somebody if you really want to! Good for Virginia to get out of such a distressing relationship.

But then (WAIT FOR IT!) they got together, again!! Ugh. And they stayed together for two more years. George went overseas during the war to tour war camps, and left his car to Virginia. It must have been love😛 Anyway, he returned and they continued their idyll, until about mid 1945.

albuquerque_journal_sun__may_7__1944_After that, Virginia, started to date Bill Burton, Dick Haymes’ manager. Then she was seen with hotshot lawyer, Bentley Ryan. Then she dated Arturo de Cordova in December 1945. Virginia Maples worked as an exotic dancer at the Club Riviera, and was out of the movies.

Virginia’s last known Hollywood beau was Walter Kane, Howard Hughes’ right hand man. They dated in early 1946 for several months, but she denied reports she was to marry him.

Then, Virginia met and fell in love with a handsome Brazilian, Envidio Sanctos (they met at one of Carmen Miranda’s parties). They eloped in 1947 and got married in Brazil. She effectively left behind her career to live in the Amazon jungle with her new husband. They spent their time between Brazil and the US. Their daughter, Diana, was born on April 17, 1950, in Kansas City, Missouri. The couple separated and divorced in 1962.

In 1975, Virginia moved to Isles of Capri and opened a gift shop, Diana’s Gifts, in East Naples. She continued working until she was 70 years old, and retired in Naples after that. She was a much loved member of the community.

Virginia Maples Sanctos died on January 13, 2010, in Naples, Florida.


Marbeth Wright


Pretty, well-built and with a fine singing voice, Marbeth Wright was just 14 when she signed her first contract and hope for the best. For whatever reason, her movie career never got oft he ground – however she found luck in other revues of showbiz and achieved a better career in Europe.


Marbeth Wright was born on July 9, 1915, in Crawford, Texas, to James C. Wright and Mabel Anderson, their only child. Her father was a police officer. The family moved to Los Angeles, California sometime after 1920, and Marbeth grew up and attended school there.

Marbeth started performing at the tender age of 11 – on a gathering in her home town,  she sang popular songs, including “Honey Bunch,” “What a Man’ and several others, and won much applause for her skills. She was bitten by the showbiz bug, and there was no other path – she would become an actress. Although only 11 years old, she started working hard to achieve her dreams, and from then on was a regular at the pageant and dancing scenes.

Marbeth won Cecil De DeMille’s personality Contest, actually a lure to find new talent they could exploit in movies. Marbeth was allegedly Miss Los Angeles in 1928, which would make her only 13 years old when she won the title. Was that even legal? Yet, all the documents attest that she was born in 1915. Weird. I would put her at least in 1913, if not 1912. After winning this title, the doors to Hollywood were wide open for the beautiful girl, and she signed a studio contract in 1929 and started her career the same year.


After three silent films that I won’t cover here (The Great Gabbo, Happy Days and The Bridge), Marbeth appeared in Just Imagine, one of the most bizarre movies to get out of Hollywood. The forced and generally unfunny comedian, El Brendel, plays a normal guy (huh, touch luck with calling his humor normal) who is struck by lightning in 1930, and winds up in 1980 New York. And you imagine how people in 1930 imagined 1980! They sure didn’t expect the shoulder pads and the hair spray! Needless to say, it’s campy, it’s ridiculous and it’s so bad it’s good! As one reviewer wrote, “There are relays of airplane roads above the city, babies are dropped from coin fed machines, and outfits are made reversible for day and evening wear.” Don’t tell me you don’t want to see this!

marbeth-wright-01Marbeth next appeared in The Trial of Vivienne Ware, a well made and sturdy drama with Joan Bennett as the innocent female lead, pushed into a nasty court trial. She was again a dancer in It’s Great to Be Alive, another bizarre one. The plot already goes south in the first sentence: 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. A reviewer wrote about it on IMDB: “It’s Great to Be Alive” is one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a science-fiction comedy, similar in spirit to “Just Imagine” (1930), although not quite as musicalised. This is a dumb movie, but it’s so cheerful in its mindlessness that you’ll have a good time watching it …. What more do I need to say? Hollywood sure made some very strange movies back in the day.

Marbeth took a hiatus from movies – I have no idea what exactly was she doing, I always suspect, when an actresses disappears, that she got married and then divorced, but perhaps this is not the case with her. When she returned in 1935, she appeared in The Lottery Lover, a conventional and only average movie about the misadventures of military cadets in Paris. Like most movies set in Paris in the 1930s, it features the Folies Bergere prominently. Lavish costumes and great sets can’t manage to save a dull script and insipid story.

Guess what? Marbeth then appeared in a movie aptly titled Folies Bergère de Paris. And guess what again? The movie is actually not a bad one. Headed by the effortlessly charming Maurice Chevalier (the king of precode, oh la la), it’s a story about an entertainer impersonates a banker who looks just like him, causing confusion for the bankers wife and his girlfriend. It has all the right ingredients – the witty banter, good music and decent actors. She continued her dancing output in George White’s 1935 Scandals, a typical George White movie, full of pretty girls dancing and with little to no plot.

Marbeth appeared in another idiotic musical, and that movie is truly and well forgotten, Redheads on Parade. Next, she was not a dancer but rather a secretary in The Girl Friend, only a modesty funny comedy with Ann Sothern, Jack Haley and Roger Pryor. Nothing to write home about! She finished her movie career with Music Is Magic – this is officially an Alice Faye movie, the true star is  Bebe Daniels, a 34-year-old star who refuses to acknowledge that her prime is past that she must choose roles in accordance to her advanced age! I cannot stress enough how this movie shows, unintentionally, how Hollywood treats women. While I’m the first to say that casting people who are too old for some roles is not a perfect solution, the lack of substantial roles for women above 35 years of age is alarming. And Daniels, still beautiful and with tons of charisma, is a better actress than the younger Faye and truly steals the show.

Marbeth moved to other forms of showbiz, and never made another movie.


Marbeth was 5’5” tall, and tried to get into the papers like any dutiful starlet tries, but she never caused a scandal or sensation. It was her baking skills that got her into the papers in 1929 – she baked a very nice bread man for a culinary fair.

Marbeth also gave a handy beauty hint to readers:

An alluring note is added to light summer gowns by the use of fresh flowers in the hair. A cluster of mess rosebuds, gardenias, or a pink camellia is especially attractive.

Marbeth’s life gets interesting in about 1936, when she was allegedly summoned to Maurice Chevalier to appear with him in a revue show in Paris. The story goes like this (taken from a contemporary newspaper):

Marbeth Wright has signed a contract to go to Paris and appear at the Casino there and also play in a picture with Maurice Chevalier. I’m not saying there’s a romance, but I hear Maurice selected this young lady, who played Just a bit in “Folles Bergere,” as the object of his special attention when they were making the picture and chose her also for the new Job.

marbeth-wright-3I was highly suspicions of this story. Chevalier, one of the most famous stars in the world, asking for a complete unknown for a co-star, and he’s not even a friend or a lover? While possible, I doubted this very much. However, after some digging around, I found out something that could be reason – it seems that Marbeth was involved, romantically of course, with Max Rippo, who was at the time Chavelier’s secretary. Now, this makes much more sense – Rippo recommended his lover to Chevalier, he obviously liked what he saw and signed her. This way I guess Rippo and Marbeth could continue their liaison in Paris.

Marbeth sailed for Paris in 1936, and stayed there for the next three years,  singing in the Monte Cristo casino. If we only knew what other stories of Paris Marbeth could have told us…

Marbeth only returned to US in mid 1939, when it became absolutely clear that bad times were looming over Europe – she returned to Los Angeles, where her parents lived, but she did not sign a contract with any studio nor did any nightclub work. One has to wonder what happened to Marbeth? Why the termination of her career? Could there be a revival?

Unfortunately, there was to be no revival. Marbeth Wright died from a dental infection on September 17, 1939, 16 days after was declared in Europe . She was just 24 years old, and we can say that it was a tragedy she died so young.

Philippa Hilber


Beautiful girl who danced at every show, acted in every production in her birth town, who dreamed of becoming an actress from as long as she can remember. Sounds familiar? There were thousands of such girls, and Philippa Hilber was one of them. Unlike most, she actually got somewhere – she signed a contract with a major studio and started in bits and pieces.The problem was that she never got beyond that stage. In the end, she married and left the screen.


Phillippa A. Hilber was born on January 22, 1918, in Los Angeles, California, to Phillip Melbourne Hilber and Vera Thornton. Her father was a professional photographer, born in Michigan.

Her parents separated when she was a toddler, and she went on to live with her maternal grandparents, Alvin and Addie Thornton. In 1920, Vera and Philippa lived with Alvin and Addie and Vera’s younger brother, Richard Scott. Alvin and Addie were both Mississippi natives that married in the late 1880s, had six children, and came to California in the early 1910s. After the divorce, Vera never remarried. Phillip remarried to Hazel Hilber and had a son, Charles, born in 1930.

Philippa grew up in San Bernardino, and integrated herself with the entertainment world while very young – she appeared in school plays aged only 11, and was about 14 years old when she danced ballet in various summer concerts. Here is an excerpt of a newspaper article, dating from July 1931, about a concert at the Biltmore Bowl:

Suited particularly to this out-of-doors theater, and offering an atmospheric bit which will, in all probability, long be remembered, is the ballet “Clouds,” danced to the music of Debussy. Of the sixty dancers included in the personnel of this ballet, only six will appear as individual figures. The others are completely covered beneath more than 1000 yards of veiling, shading in color from foggy grays to brilliant orange: Representing the. clouds at sunset, the dancers drift in their rhythmic patterns about the stage, finally disappearing, leaving but one tragic little cloud who has strayed away from the rest, but who scurries away when she discovers she has been left alone. Hiding behind the clouds, but emerging in their full brilliance when the last bit of chiffon has drifted away, are five stars and, as a final climax, the moon. Featured in this ballet are Evelyn Wenger, Edith Jane. Elise Relman. Helen Doty, Phillipa Hilber and Dorothy Wagner

Philippa continued to dance at various revenues, and hope for movie stardom. And that came soon enough – she signed a movie contract in November 1934, when she was just 16 years old, and started her movie career. On the side, we have to note that she waited to finish high school in 1936, when she was already a working actress.


Philippa started as a dancer, and as such appeared in uncredited roles of chorus girls. Her first appearance was in Arizona to Broadway, a sadly forgotten but not-all-that-bad comedy about con men trying to out-con each other. The underrated and tragic James Dunn plays the male lead, and my favorite Joan Bennett is the female lead. What’s not to like? Philippa then appeared in Roman Scandals, the seminal Eddie Cantor comedy.

philippahilber1This was followed by a show girl role in Moulin Rouge, a charming but shallow pre-code comedy with Constance Bennett playing dual roles and Franchot Tone as the husband. As you can imagine when there are dual roles involved, it’s about mistaken identities and so on. Predictable, but fun non the less. Then came Stand Up and Cheer!, which is less of a movie and more of an excuse to put one variety act after another. Avoid if you don’t like your movies without a plausible plot.

Philippa was a rumba specialist dancer in Redheads on Parade, a sadly totally forgotten Dixie Lee musical, with our favorite wooden actor, John Boles. She danced ballet in one of the few Spanish movies Hollywood made, Piernas de seda.

King of Burlesque, Philippa’s next feature, was an early Alice Faye movie with a plot that would become a genre staple in the 1940s – The low-class man aspiring to high society and married above himself, shunning his low-class sweetheart, who then goes abroad to sing and becomes a big success on the stage there. Faye actually played the shunned lady twice more, but this was the first time. The husband/cad is Warren Baxter, and socialite wife is Mona Barrie – decent cast, good dancing and singing acts, and what more do you need?

philippa-hilber-2Philippa appeared in two Loretta Young movies – Wife, Doctor and Nurse and Second Honeymoon. The former is actually an interesting take on the typical love triangle, with Loretta playing the wife – the latter is a lackluster Loretta/Tyrone Power pairing, devoid of any energy and wit (a must for a screwball comedy, which it feigns to be). She also appeared in Girls’ Dormitory, a flat movie that aimed to shock but of course is more boring than anything,  and You Can’t Have Everything, a breezy, charming Alice Faye/Don Ameche movie (where you need to forget the plot and just enjoy the music!)

Philippa ended her career with two total misses – Love and Hisses, a dismal movie at best, about  a rado feud between columnist Walter Winchell and band leader Ben Bernie(since neither knows how to act, you can imagine how good the movie is), and Kentucky Moonshine, a lesser movie of the Ritz brothers (and they were the poor man’s Marx brothers).

Philippa left movies to raise her children after this.


In 1934, Philippa gave a Beauty hint for her fans:

FOR a facial that leaves the skin smooth and soft, mix equal parts of sweet almond oil and honey, cover the face and allow to remain on half an hour. Remove with cold cream or lukewarm, damp towels. through several waters. Do not wring them out, but hang up dripping. Dry celery leaves and parsley, then pulverize. Keep in salt shakers. They are worth the trouble to prepare and make a tasty garnish.

philippa_hilber_make_upPhilippa dated Doodle Weaver for a few months in 1935. She married Bill Goodwin on March 11, 1936, in Yuma, Arizona. They just hoped into Goodwin’s car one day and of they went! William Nettles Goodwin was born on July 28, 1910, in San Francisco, California, to . Goodwin attended the University of California. He acted in stage productions on the West Coast before he began working in radio in 1930. After working on a station in Portland, Oregon, he worked at stations in Sacramento and Los Angeles. he would act in Hollywood movies, and work with George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Philippa promised that marriage would not interfere one bit with her career. Typical sentence, spoken by dozens of starlets – with typical results. Yes – within three years, Phillipa was pregnant and leaving movies for good.

philippafamilyThe couple had four children – Jill (born on December 20, 1939), William Richard (born on January 8, 1942), Lynn (born on October 18, 1943), and Sally (born on June 29, 1945). In 1945, she was named Glamour Mother of the Year by infantry men fighting in Europe. In 1951, there was thing short item in the papers about Philippa: People are always asking Philippa Goodwin, wife of Bill Goodwin, how she finds time to raise four children. “It’s the same as raising one,”, explains Philippa. “When Jill, our firstborn, arrived, she took all my time. What can three more do?”

Philippa and Bill enjoyed a happy and fulfilling marriage, and even had their own radio program. Unfortunately, Bill died from a sudden heart attack on 1958. In the 1970s, Philippa worked as a successful real estate agent, based in Los Angeles.

Philippa never remarried, retired in the 1980s and moved to Palm Desert to enjoy her golden years.

Philippa Hilber Goodwin died on April 1996 in Palm Desert, California.

Mildred Stone


Beautiful and a wonderful vocalist, Mildred Stone had all the pluses to make it in Hollywood. And just when she started her road to riches, she got married and gave it up. As we know from previous posts, such was the story of many women in 1930s Hollywood.


Mildred I. Stone was born on January 13, 1914, in Hanford, California to Cedric A Stone and Harriet Berachig Wilson. Her younger sister Dorothy was born in 1920. Both of the girls grew up in Lucene, Kings County, where their father had a farm.

Sadly, her father died on November 29, 1925, aged only 35. Harriet took the girls to Hanford, where both of them attended Hanford High School.

While there, Mildred was tutored by elocution and voice expert Mary Hobson Crowe, who was once a star of the stage. This gave her . She played leads in Mikado, the Indian Operetta, Lela Walla and other productions. She also studied for a bit with a voice coach in San Francisco.  She had to return to Hanford to earn money to continue her education – Hanford chamber of Commerce staged a recital to help her. Then, she had her first solo concert in October 1933 – she was accompanied by her mother on the piano.She also did some work for Hanford Players to supplement her income.

After bagging some money, she returned to San Francisco studied with the prior mentioned voice coach for some more time, and then moved to Los Angeles to further her career. There she won a contest and nabbed a role in a at a Clark and McCollough comedy. Not long after she got a contract with KMTR radio, and did gigs at famous nightclubs:

In mid 1934, she was let go from her KMTR contract and signed with Jimmy Grier at the Biltmore bowl, where she sang 7 nights a week. On the side, she tried for a movie career. Her break came as a total lark – she was noticed in a nightclub by a talent scout, who arranged for her screen test. She passed with flying colors.

Mildred signed her first motion-picture contract, a seven-year agreement with Paramount Productions under which she was to. receive $50 a week to start with, her salary ascending on a sliding scale to $450 a week. And her movie career started…


Mildred made only two movies after she signed her contract with Paramount. And both were in uncredited roles. So much about becoming a film star…

mildredsantaellaHer first movie was the Bing Crosby vehicle, Mississippi. Most of his early to mid 1930s movies fall into the same basket – funny, charming, paper-thin plot wise musicals. Of course, they are of varying quality, but neither veers too much of the charted track. Mississippi falls somewhere in the middle of the road, being neither the best nor the worst of the Crosby offerings. The flimsy plot (taken from a reviewer on imdb): Bing is cast as a northerner set to marry a southern woman who lives in one of those great plantations, and who has a prettier younger sister. He is challenged by an evil ex-suitor, but won’t duel with him. So Bing is cast out in disgrace to sing on Fields’ riverboat. Bing has to somehow survive Fields’ influence, get back on shore and re-claim his marital “prize”. But she is married to the “bad guy”. What does Bing do? What is his relationship with the cute younger sister?

You get the drift. The best thing about this movie is the pairing of Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields – the only time they worked together. Shame, as they were on the top in their prospective fields: Bing a top crooner and Fields a top comedian. The movie’s one major downfall is its mild but still very much apparent racism. Hollywood of the 1930s was very ambivalent about racism – as one reviewer correctly wrote: “For every serious film that grasped at racial tragedy in this country (the US) (IMITATION OF LIFE with Louise Beavers and Freddy Washington, or IN THIS OUR LIFE with Bette Davis) there were hundreds which were made that insulted millions of African-Americans for laughs.”

mildresstone2Mildred’s second movie was 13 Hours by Air, a brisk, well made thriller. It offers little more than that, but let’s me real, nobody expects it to be a top feature. he plot is a bit convoluted, with planes, jewel robbers, high society ladies, corrupt counts and so on, but the cast is pretty good – Fred MacMurray and Joan Bennett in the leads, and John Howard , Ruth Donnelly, Alan Baxter and Zasu Pitts in the supports. Mildred plays a (what else) stewardess. Also worth watching out is a small role by the forgotten silent movie queen, Marie Prevost.

Mildred gave up acting to starts a family after this, and her Paramount contract was broken.  She returned to movie making in 1947, with her last feature, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, a truly enjoyable fare. Without insulting the sensibilities of the all mighty production code, it manages to be a commentary on the early women’s right movement in the late 19th Century. It’s also a delightful love story and ultimately musical with some irresistible music by Ira Gershwin. Yep, win-win situation on all accounts. Special plus is seeing Betty Grable and Dick Haymes paired on the screen.

And that was it from Mildred.


Mildred was a petite woman, standing at just 5′ 2″, but was of shapely build. She was nicknamed Midge by family and friends. She gave her beauty hint to the public in 1934:

If your blonde hair looks dull, try using a tablespoon full of vinegar in the lukewarm rinse water after a shampoo.

Short, sweet and very much true!

mildredstone3Now for her love life. While working at the KMTR radio, Mildred met Salvatore Santaella, the charming, suave musical director. Santaella was born on September 12, 1896, in Mexico City, Mexico, of Italian extraction, to Pasquale and Anna Maria Santaella. He immigrated to the States with his parents in 1908. They settled in Detroit, where he finished high school. A gifted pianist, he became a professional musician. In 1920, he married his first wife, Lillian Hansen. The couple moved to New York in 1921 and renewed their vows in 1922. Their daughter Dorothy G. was born not long after, in Oregon.

Santaella moved to Los Angeles at some time in the mid 1920s, and started to work in the radio and movie industries. He and Lillie divorced at some point. Santaella played piano solos for the George Arliss movie, The Man Who Played God, and became the KMTR musical director. He also wrote songs on the side, and even collaborated with Jan Rubini, famous composed who was the husband of another starlet I profiled on this blog, Terry Walker.

Mildred and Salvadore dated from at least mid 1934. He had already let her out of the KMTR contract so she can sign with Jimmy Grier and appear in movies. He obviously had misgivings about letting her go – not just professional ones mind you!

the_bee_thu__jan_10__1935_They married on  September 14, 1935, in Los Angeles. Their daughter, Linda, was born on October 3, 1935, in Los Angeles (now, look at the dates – Linda was born just 20 days after they married. Pretty steamy stuff for 1935. I wonder why they married so late? Divorces, or?).

Mildred slowly gave up her budding career to become a housewife. By 1939, she was not working any more, and the family lived in 6506 Lindenhurst Avenue. She was close to her mother’s family, the Wilsons, and sometimes popped up in the local Californian newspapers in the society pages.

Saltavore Santaella died on January 11, 1964. I have no idea what happened to Mildred afterwards – the IMDB claims she died in 1989, but I could not a death certificate.

As always, I hope she had a good life.

Perdita Chandler


A stunning Elizabeth-Taylor-look-alike, Perdita Chandler acted only for fun – thus, she never expected anything big and never got anything big from Hollywood. However, despite the thin number of movies she appeared in, their quality is quite impressive – isn’t it enough to say that she appeared in same movies as Greer Garson, Spencer Tracy and John Wayne?


Perdita Chandler was born in 1928 in Los Angeles, California. She was the daughter of a local physician. The family lives in Santa Monica for a time.

The family moved to Salt Lake City in the late 1930s. When Perdita was 13 years old, she fell from a roof. The doctors gave her parents a grim prognosis – Perdita will never walk again. However, the determined child gritted her teeth and refused to give up – she worked every day, and she was back on her feet (wobbly a bit but a step forward) in a couple of months. In order to strengthen her back, she started taking dancing lessons.

Soon, Perdita was a serious dancer, enjoying it very much and hoping to make a career out of it. Not long after she started to sing, and joined the Mormon Tarbenacle Choir. She sang there for four years – encouraged by her success, she left for New York int he mid 1940s. Her father, however, did not wish for her daughter to be in showbiz – but it did not deter Perdita!

Beautiful, tall and well-built, she became a Powers model in no time. She also sang in nightclubs and made an appearance on Broadway in The Firebrand of Florence, a Kurt Weill musical. In 1949, she left New York for Hollywood, and there our story starts!


Perdita made her debut in The Great Jewel Robber, a David Brian veclicle. What can I say, Brian is a new favorite of time, after seeing him in The Damned Don’t Cry. he wasn’t PerditaChandlerOlivier, but he had a menacing vibe and was largely magnetic on-screen. it’s an interesting film at any rate – Brian plays the titular jewel robber, who uses anyone and anything to live off his trade. It’s just what he is, and he will never be anything else. this grim, serious outlook on a man is something we don’t see too much in saintly Hollywood. he won’t change – he doesn’t want to. he’ll use any woman he meets to achieve his cause (the women are played by Perdita, Marjorie Reynolds and Jacqueline DeWit). Wonderful start for Perdita, despite the B movie status, but did she match it up?

Unfortunately, she would never again play a credited role. But she did appear uncredited in some pretty good movies! First in the list – The Glass Menagerie, an overall successful adaptation of the Tennessee Williams classic. Mister 880, her next movie, is a well made Burt Lancaster thriller about a Secret Service Agent trying to catch a cold case counterfeiter and a United Nations translator. Since Burt made tons of good movies, it gets drowned out and is barely remembered today. This is the only time Burt played opposite the enchanting Dorothy McGuire.

The People Against O’Hara is essentially a character study about an alcoholic lawyer who tires to redeem himself by defending a youth from the wrong side on the tracks during a murder trial. Luckily, the lawyer is played by Spencer Tracy – few actors could pull of the role with such a mixture of ease and heaviness. It’s not an edge of your seat, thrilling movie, but it works on most levels.

Phone Call from a Stranger  is a small, non-bombastic movie, but very well-acted, directed and scripted film, with a surprisingly good ending. It deals, directly, with loss – how people cope when they suddenly lose somebody. The leads are played by Gary Merrill, Shelley Winters and Michaell Rennie, all fine enough thespians.

The Merry Widow is a lukewarm adaptations of the famous operetta, which was filmed before (in 1932) with a (IMHO) better cast – Maurice Chavalier and Jeannette MacDonald. The 1932 movie is generally a better one than this one (by miles). Lana Turner, who plays the widow of the title, is as lackluster as always. What can I say about her? No great actress, but she did have the star quality and managed to pull off more good movies than many more talented actresses. The male lead was taken over by Fernando Lamas – since I’m not a fan of the Latin lover types, I’ll just say skip.

Perdita’s lats movie under contract was Scandal at Scourie, a later Greer Garson movie. By 1952, Greer was not the major star she was in the early to mid 1940s – her movies were never as good as they were back then. However, she was always extremely watchable and could lively up even mundane material. Here she is again paired with Walter Pidgeon, in a touching story about.

Perdita made only one more movie, in 1957, John Wayne’s Jet Pilot. After that she completely dissipated from the Hollywood scene.


In early 1950, not long after she came to Hollywood, Perdita was seen with Ronald Reagan. It didn’t last long, unfortunately. Fortunately, another man came into his place.

The_Jacksonville_Daily_Journal_Fri__Dec_18__1953_His name was Felix Ferry, known as Fefe or Fifi Ferry, a famous movie agent. Ferry sure had a colorful life. Born in 1897 in Romania, he moved to Monaco and helped make Monte Carlo the hubbub of European jet set. He came to the States and opened and former owned of a top-notch New York restaurant, Monte Carlo. Ferry had connection with some shady characters, including mobster Frank Costello. He was also engaged for a time to dancer Hilda Knight. Ann Woodward, who famously killed her wealthy husband William Woodward, was a dancer at one of Fefe’s nightclubs before her marriage.

Fefe was a slight man, under 5’5”, but with a magnetic presence and great charisma. As Fefe’s fiancee, Perdita mingled with the higher-ups of Hollywood (she was often likened to Elizabeth Taylor, whom she knew personally), and was a good friend of famous astrologer Carroll Righter.

In June 1953, Perdita went to Europe for the first time. She was to be married to Ferry in Germany. The couple traveled around a great deal before the nuptials were to take place. However, during one such trip, Fefe died from a sudden heart attack. The wedding was only three days away. Perdita, who was expecting to get married to a wealthy man, brought only a small sum of money with her. Fefe was dead, she was not his legal successor – she had no right to any of his inheritance. She didn’t have enough even to return back to the States. Fiercely independent and unwilling to fall onto the kindness of strangers, she hitch hiked to Paris, talked to some of Fefe’s friends, and got herself a spot as the chanteuse in the posh nightclub, the Elephant Blanc. Her show was a smash – soon she was overrun with offers for other engagements. She appeared for a time in Carroll’s, another fashionable nights spot, and toured a great deal (most notably to Egypt).

When an US newspaperman interviewed her in 1954, almost a year later, Perdita expressed her deep sorrow over Fefe’s death, but also a certain satisfaction over her present situation. She had no plans to return to the US any time soon, and she obviously enjoyed the “French living”.

In early 1955, Perdita became an ambassador for French wine. She gushed to the papers how wonderful French wine was, much better than sodas or coffee back in the States. In September of that year, Perdita was seriously injured in a car crash near Milan. She managed to recuperate and after such a life or death situation, came to the conclusion that it was time to return to the States in 1956, to continue her movie career.

What happened afterwards is a mystery to me. She returned to Europe and didn’t make another movie. Perdita got married to a French man, a Mr. Dalbavie, after 1958. Her son, Marc-André Dalbavie, was born on February 10, 1961. He became a famous composer.

I have no idea where Perdita is today, but I hope she had a good life!

Maxine Reiner


Maxine Reiner was a gorgeous model who came to Hollywood with the sole intention of making it as an actress. Her looks warranted her a contract, but we all know that’s only a starting point for something more substantial. After some uncredited bits, she was given a prominent role in a movie series and it was either make or break – sadly, she did not make the grade and her career ended not long after.


Maxine Frances Reiner was born on March 16, 1916, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Bernard Reiner and Ida Eisenberg. Her younger sister Naomi was born in 1923. Maxine grew up in Philadelphia and attended schools there.

During her high school years, to make some money, Maxine worked as a model in Philadelphia. She was best known for the cigarette ads (despite the fact that she never smoked). Upon graduation, her father gifted her with a train ticket to Los Angeles. Piqued by the light of Hollywood, she left for the West coast with her mother and sister. She did the usual studio rounds, but no luck. Then, one day, an agent was reviewing a screen test trying to decide will he sign an actress of not. Maxine was in the same screen test – the agent finally decided to sign Maxine and not the girl he was originally . She got a contract with Universal Studios and started her career.


Maxine was uncredited in her first feature, Wanderer of the Wasteland, a forgotten movie based on a Zane Grey novel. The cast is good enough for sure (Dean Jagger and Gail Patrick in the leads), but MaxineReiner5there is nothing further I can say about the movie. She had another uncredited role in Professional Soldier, a fun and delightful romp, a perfect Sunday afternoon movie. The plot is simple enough – Former real-life mercenary Victor McLaglen plays a professional soldier who is hired to kidnap the Russian king, Peter II, but he gets much more than he bargained for in Freddie Bartholomew (who play Peter). it’s not about the plot for sure – it’s about the great interplay between McLagen and Bartholomew, the fast and elegant action scenes, and witty dialogue. Rita Hayworth and Maxine play gypsy dancers.

She continued her uncredited adventure with It Had to Happen, one of the less known George Raft movies. He plays an Italian immigrant who makes it big in America. Same old, same old story. Rosalind Russell plays the female lead. Nothing to yawn about.

Maxine struck cinematic gold that catapulted her out of the uncredited pool with Charlie Chan at the Circus. Was it the best way to become a star? Heck no, but it was a god start. What can I say about Charlie Chan movies?  Like most movie serials, they were made on a shoestring budget and with mediocre writing, and this particular entry is a mid tier one. Some love it, some find it uninteresting, but it’s enjoyable any way you look at it. Charlie Chan is, as the title suggests, in the circus and gets embroiled in the complex behind the scenes hierarchy. Maxine plays a trapeze artist. What was supposed to be her ticket to stardom only buried her further. Maxine did no make the grade, and her roles suffered.

MaxineReiner3She had a smaller role in Sins of Man, a long-winded, heavy drama with Don Ameche playing dual roles of two brothers. It’s more or less completely forgotten today.

Maxine had a slightly more prominent role in The Girl on the Front Page, a Gloria Stuart vehicle where she plays a rich girl who starts to work at her dad’s paper incognito and managed to bust a counterfeit ring. While I love a heroine who is proactive and does things, the rich girl going to work narrative is a bit boring, I have to admit. Yet Gloria is such a lovely presence, you can forgive some plot holes.

Maxine’s last movie was Flying Hostess, a movie about the lives and loves of airline stewardesses (they were called flying hostesses back in the 1930s). It’s a pretty minor, forgotten movie. Aware that her career was going nowhere, Maxine gave up her contract to become a wife and later, mother.


Maxine was a budding novelist, and wrote the novel Stranger in Manhattan in 1935. It deals with the sophisticated life in New York. I have no idea if it was ever published, but it’s never bad to write, so kudos to Maxine.

MaxineReiner4Maxine married Joseph “Joe” I. Myerson on July 11, 1935, in an orthodox ceremony in Los Angeles. The studio gave her two weeks to go on a honeymoon. Joe was born on December 6, 1905, to Victor Myerson and Ida Hoffman, the fifth of six children. He grew up in California but moved to Yuma, Arizona in the late 1920s. He returned to Los Angeles in the mid 1930s and worked as a wholesale clothing merchant.

The marriage ended in a separation on October 18. They finally hit the divorce courts in February 1936, where she asked for separate maintenance and he claimed that it’s stupid to pay her alimony since she earned more than him. Finally, she was awarded $185 a month alimony.

Myerson remarried to Jean Morantz on June 20, 1937. He died on December 1986, in Pima, Arizona.

Maxine married Harry Eliot Sokolov on April 29, 1937. The couple waited for two months to reveal their marriage to the press. Harry was born on December 23, 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland to Jacob Sokolov and Anita Azrael, second of seven children. He graduated from Central High School in Washington DC. In 1921, while studying law, he helped organize an eight piece orchestra that was to stage a George Washington musical. In 1925, he and his brother opened a Realty Corporation in Brooklyn. He became a practicing attorney and moved to Los Angeles after 1930. He and Maxine lived in Beverly Hills.

Maxine2Now, something more about her husband. In 1939, he, along with several other luminaries, founded the Producers Corporation of America.  Harry Sokolov was a very active and energetic man who served as an attorney to several stars (Patsy Ruth Miller comes to mind), was the CEO to Harry Sokolov and Sons, a construction company, and later became an executive producer at 20th Century Fox and close associate of Richard Zanuck. He also was a member of the advisory board of the California State Park Foundation and a member of the California Superior Court Arbitrators.

On January 22, 1943, the Sokolov’s only child, son Thomas Reiner Sokolov, was born. Maxine’s sister Naomi lived with them until her own marriage the same year. Maxine was active in the local social life and dedicated a lot of her time to charitable causes.

The couple divorced at some point before 1956. Sokolov died in 1977.

Maxine married Frank Maury Grossman on August 5, 1956. He was born in January 21, 1915 in Canada, to Harry Gorssman and Florence Claman. They divorced afterwards. Grossman died on June 16, 1988.

Maxine Frances Reiner died on June 19, 2003, in Los Angeles, California.

Eileen O’Hearn


Lovely Eileen O’Hearn was a sure bet for stardom at Columbia Studios in the early 1940s, along with Jinx Falkenburg, Patti McCarthy and Kay Harris. Need I say more about what happened to them? None of the girls achieved even a modicum of success in movies. Only Jinx Falkenburg became famous, but only later and in a different venue. I have profiled both Patti and Kay, and I can easily say I have no idea why such beautiful girls failed in Hollywood. Let’s try and see what happened to Eileen.


Mary Eileen O’Hearn was born on November 8, 1913, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Michael J. O’Hearn and Teresa O’Hearn. Her father was born in Ireland and immigrated to the US in the early 1900s, and settled in Kansas City where he married Eileen’s mother (who was 18 years younger than him and a native of Missouri). Michael worked as a local contractor, and the family lived in their own home by 1920.

Eileen grew up in Kansas City, attended schools there and started singing from an early age. At some point she was taking serious singing lessons and turned into a talented lyrical soprano. She gave several open air concerts and even did some radio shows in Kansas City.

The O’Hearns moved to Santa Monica in 1937. She entered the University of California at Los Angeles and enrolled in the drama class.

While studying, she was doing some acting work on the side. She had played the ingenue lead in U.C.L.A.’s presentation of “Of Thee I Sing,” and had acted in the Westwood Community Theater and Pasadena Community Playhouse. It was during the run of “Cradle Song” that a scout saw her and offered her a test by Columbia Pictures Corp. She passed it with flying colors but nothing happened. Disenchanted, Eileen put her acting dreams on hold for a moment, quit college and started working as a stenographer at The Times in Los Angeles. Some time passed, and Columbia finally summoned her to sign a contract. And her movie career was on!


Eileen appeared in my favorite genre (IRONY), low-budget western, for a start. Thunder Over the Prairie was her first movie, and her first lead role (now that is a great leap for any actress. Even if it’s a low-budget western. Can’t believe I am saying this). The studio took  a gamble with Eileen, since she officially was not a trained actress nor did she have prior movie acting experience. She was partially seasoned in live theater, but was far from an acting pro, any way you look at it.

EileenOhearn3Her second lead was in the weak comedy, The Richest Man in Town, with low-budget comedians Frank Carver and Roger Pryor. She was lauded as a true discovery in the press, but she movie generated little interest and failed at the

Unfortunately, Eileen did not live up to the studio’s expectations, and instead of going up, she went down. She was to be uncredited or play supporting roles until the end of her career. She appeared in Honolulu Lu, a charming but thin as air Lupe Velez musical, The Man Who Returned to Life, actually a more than decent thrilled with John Howard in the lead, but sadly completely forgotten today and not a hit back when it was released either.

The Adventures of Martin Eden was the most prestigious movie for Eileen, a semi successful adaptation of the Jack London classic. Like most literary adaptations, fans either love or hate it – some praise Glenn Ford, some find him a failure. Some find the ending fitting for the time and place it was made, some things it’s a disgrace for London. It’s usually best to leave it up to personal preferences in this case – the movie isn’t a bad one (all in all), the script is good, the actors are far from untalented, and rest is up to you.

Next Eileen appeared in the delightful Two Yanks in Trinidad. I love it when Hollywood takes two character actors and gives them a movie where they can show their often considerable talents. Let’s be real, character actor were often more talented than leading ladies and men – and both Pat O’Brien and Brian Donlevy are sterling examples of this. The plot even fades in comparison to the interplay between those two. Anyway, it’s fun fun fun. Eileen was then shuffled into two serials: Alias Boston Blackie and Blondie’s Blessed Event. What can I say about both of these serials? if you love the first movie, you’ll love the rest, if not, just skip.

EileenOhearn4After How Spry I Am, a comedy short, Eileen finally got her billing, but again in a low budget western – The Devil’s Trail. The less I say about the movie, the better. Next Eileen landed in one of th ebets movies of her career – Not a Ladies’ Man. The title is wildly misleading – the protagonist is, believe it or not, a 8-year-old boy who developed a passionate case of female dislike after his mother left him. Hollywood rarely tackled with such sensitive, real life problems, and I applaud the studio for trying, at least on a light weight level, to deal with this. Problems start when his father falls for his teacher. The cast is good – Paul Kelly (interesting man, read more about him) and Fay Wray, and the youngster is played by Douglas Croft.

Eileen was again uncredited in Meet the Stewarts, another lightweight family drama. However, a wonderful cast brightens this one up – William Holden and Frances Dee are the couple in question. And the plot, dealing with everyday life of a pair of newlyweds, is sure something not seen in movies frequently. Charming and simple, it’s a perfect movie to watch on a Sunday afternoon.

Eileen’s last two movies were war movies: Submarine Raider and Parachute Nurse. She gave it all up for family in late 1942.


Eileen gave an interview in 1941, where she claimed that she refuses to appear with a drink and cigarette in her hand on-screen since off-screen since she neither drinks nor smokes in real life. “You can be an actress without sacrificing your ideals” – was her quote. Columnist Wood Soanes was quick to reprimand her – in a very condescending article, he tried to illustrate how actors are not the characters they play on-screen. I have to say I agree with Woods here, as Eileen does comes of as a self-righteous puritan, not an actress who strives to embody a role to the best of her ability. The irony is that Eileen was right, that you can be an actress without sacrificing your ideals, but appearing on-screen without a cigarette in your mouth is not quite the way to do it.

EileenOhearn2Eileen’s other outrages claim was that her ancestor was a Irish princess, Briget O’Hara, who ran a fleet of pirate ships of the coast of Ireland. This, however, was a standard publicity stunt of the time and thus nothing out of the ordinary.

At least Eileen was true to her views. She never made any headlines and seemed to have a sedate love life. She married Frederick Pate on March 7, 1942, in Yuma, Arizona. Pate was born on June 17, 1913. He was a technician at Columbia Pictures (officially, they both Eileen and Frederick belonged to the same studio, they just didn’t work on the same positions! He was a manual worker and Eileen was a movie star! How cute, a story almost out of the movies.)

Their daughter, Susan Eileen, was born on January 2, 1943, in Hollywood. Eileen decided to retire in 1944 and devote her time to her small family.

The Pates lived in California for the first few years of Susan’s life before moving to Normandy Park, Washington. In 1947 her son and last child, William, was born. Susan and William later attended school in nearby Des Moines, Washington.

The Pates were avid boaters and many family vacations were spent cruising Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. They also raised chinchillas for a period of time.

Frederick Pate died on September 1969 after a happy marriage. Eileen moved to Alaska to be with her daughter Susan. She never remarried and enjoyed a close relationship with her children.

Eileen O’Hearn Pate died on September 22, 1993 in Kodiak, Alaska.

Toni Seven


Toni Seven is proof that a girl who lands in Hollywood, has money to burn, a great press agent and more than enough beauty, can still end up a complete unknown. Toni tried to attain stardom several times, and the second time, an extensive campaign to catapult her to stardom was coined by PR guru Russell Birdwell, but she just crashed and burned pretty soon. What a waste! Toni truly was a beautiful woman and probably had some talent in her. Too bad too much publicity killer her.


June Elizabeth Millarde was born on July 6, 1922, in New York City, to Henry F. Millarde and Helen Elizabeth Lawson. Her mother was professionally known as June Caprice, an actress of major prominence in Hollywood, and her father was an succesful movie director. His most famous movie was If Winter comes, from 1916. by the time she was born, her parents had amassed quite a fortune and retired from active movie work. June grew up in Long Island, and attended school at Great Neck, Long Island.

On November 2, 1931, June’s father died from a heart attack, aged only 45. June was raised by her mother form them on, but sadly the elder June succumbed to a heart attack while fighting cancer in 1936. The 14 year old June was left in the care of her maternal grandparents in Long Island.

While June was materially well of, as a heiress of a considerable fortune (rumored to have been 3 million dollars), she wanted to act not for the fortune but for the fame. She moved to the West Coast after graduating from high school, and undertook extensive dramatic training before deciding to crash movies.

June signed with MGM in 1941, owning of course to her late parents friendship with producer Bob Leonard. Unfortunately, she left Metro after just a month, unhappy how they only posed her to leg art. She signed with Warner Bros and started her career anew.


Pretty slim! Toni appeared in only five movies, although I have to say they are 5 decent movies at least! Her first movie was We Were Dancing, based on a Noel Coward play. When i say based on a ToniSeven2Noel Coward play, it means it’s a witty, sparkling, lightweight fare. And this movie is just that. don’t look for deeper, hidden meanings and something profound. Norma Shearer is delightful int he leading role. Coward + Norma = a good combo. Some people would disagree with me, but heck, Norma was perfect for sophisticated, drawing room comedies. Here she is ably supported by Mervyn Douglas, Gail Patrick and Lee Bowman.

She then followed it with Yankee Doodle Dandy, one of the best musicals to come out of her 1940s. Jimmy Cagney, what more do you need? Toni’s last movie under her Warner Bros contract was Wings for the Eagle, a love triangle set amidst  Southern California aircraft production in WWII. The lovers? Ann Sheridan, Denis Morgan and Jack Carson. What ca I say, I’m a sucker for Ann, she was such a luminous actress, but I am not a fan of either Crason or Morgan, so for me, it’s a skip.

ToniSeven1Aware that her career went nowhere fast, Toni hired Russel Birdwell and tried anew (again!). The result were only two movies – Ladies Courageous and Once Upon a Time. While not the bottom of the waist basket quality, they are far from good solid movies that Toni needed to build a career. Ladies courageous is a weird, weird, anti feminist movie (despite the more than a decent cast – ). Once upon a time is one of the lesser Cary Grant movies – it’s a movie with a strange kind of charm, unusual story (A cash-strapped theater producer promotes a nine-year-old boy’s dancing caterpillar) and features the stunning Janet Blair as Cary’s leading lady, but it’s not top tier movie making and it did little favors to anyone involved.

Toni gave up her career and publicity campaign and settled in Washington DC after this.  


This is where Toni shines. If she is at all remembered today, it is because of her private life, not her slim movie career.

Toni was 5 feet, four and a half inched tall, weighted about 108 lbs, was a great horsewoman who rode frequently, and was also a good swimmer and tennis player. She disliked gossipy women, bad movies and prize fights.

TonISeven4In march 1943, she was just one of the many girls that dated Errol Flynn. She also banked heavily on her parents’ fame. A quote from a newspaper:

“Director Al Hall is giving June Millarde a break in “My Client Curly,” the Cary Grant-Janet Blair . The person who gave Al his first acting role role was Harry Millarde, June’s ‘ father, who was king bee on the old ‘Fox lot and frequently directing June Caprice (June’s mother). As time went by Al gave up his acting ambitions and became a director, but he never forgot the Millardes. So when their ‘ daughter June was up for a role in ; “Curly,” Al directed the test and saw she got the best cameraman at Columbia.”

In 1944, Toni hired Russell Birdwell to become her press agent. Birdwell was a wildly oscillating guy. While ha had major success with Jane Russell (and her bust and bra) and the search for Scarlett O’Hara (he was the brain behind this superb publicity stunt) most of his other “finds” ended up complete unknowns after a period of intense publicity frenzy. And he really tried with Toni, he really did. It just didn’t pay. For instance, Toni posed with a mama cat that gave birth to a litter of kitten with 7 toes on their paws. She also posed with a man’s black shirt, claiming she uses them as nightgowns. On the right ear she wears nothing; on the left, a large gold loop, and in the center of it, a cut out 7! She made bread with exactly 7 ingredients. She wore earrings with 7 precious stones dangling from them. Her phone number ended in 7. You get the picture…

She was supposed to star in a revue by Fort Ord, but nothing came out of it. She was very active in the war effort, going to rallies, signing pictures. Birdwell sent thousands of her pictures to the GI-as around the world – she was named the most popular pin up for the boys int he European Theater in 1945. Her photos could be found on obscure Pacific islands where there was literary nothing else!

Toni Seven has bought herself a little house in Benedict canyon. By her own admission, she knows nothing about antiques, yet is furnishing it exclusively in early American stuff.

In March 1945, Toni and five other starlets staged a strip poker session at the United National Clothing Drive. The other starlets were Ann Miller, Evelyn Ankers, Nina Foch and Renee de Marco. They all had better careers than Toni (even De Marco, who did not have a great movie career). She was also good friend with starlet Frances Vorne, who also posed for Yank. They often threw big dinner parties for their swains.

ToniSeven5In early 1946, Toni went back to her old moniker, but still remained an active pin up girl – her legs were claimed to have been “perfect” by a lieu of eminent photographers.

By 1948, June was out of Hollywood, out of movies, and living of her inheritance. She entered a hospital in October 1948 for a serious operation, and was recuperating in November 1948 in Hollywood.

Then, she was again back in the newspaper fold. How? Love! In January 1949, a certain senator Warren Magnuson, the famous lothario of Washington and a very sought after bachelor, missed the opening of Congress. Why? Because he was allegedly with Toni! There was much press furor re over the fact. His friend kindly noted to the press that Warren had been doing the Seattle nightspots with Toni for some time now. However, in September 1949 she sailed for Europe, and was beaued by Peruvian playboy, Alfredo Carreo.

More about Warren, who ended one of the most meaningful men in Toni’s life. He was born on April 12, 1905, in Minnesota, and was adopted by the Magnuson family (due to his surname, he was known as Maggie to friends). He attended college in Seattle, Washington, and settled there permanently. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1937–1944) and a U.S. Senator from 1944. In 1928, he was married to Eleanor Peggy “Peggins” Maddieux, but they divorced in 1935. Warren dated all around the States from then on, escorting women like actress Carole Parker and Austine McDonnell.

Toni and the senator dated on off from 1948 until 1953, although some papers pin them together in 1955. It is known that the senator married in 1964 to a Seattle widow, Jermaine Peralta, and thus he obviously never married Toni. Toni gave up her career (which is not saying much) to cater to Warren. She acted as his hostess at social functions, they traveled around a great deal, often visiting Hawaii. Warren’s close friends said that Toni was absolutely loyal to Warren, but liked to drink to much. Warren also had a weakness for vodka – it seems they were well matched here (sadly!).

ToniSeven6I sympathies with Toni on this one. She obviously wanted to get married, and talked constantly to the press about her upcoming nuptials, but the senator obliviously rebuffed her every time, until they were done. I have no idea why they broke up – but I can only guess. Maybe Toni had had enough? Maybe Warren passed on to another woman? He later romanced Monique van Vooren, another luscious starlet. He died on May 20, 1989 in Seattle, Washington. His wife died in 2011.

In 1952, Toni was seen with Hank Fisher, of the “Joe Palooka” fame.

In 1959, it was reported that June was to marry Eric Stanley, prominent in the art circles, that June. I could not find any information that proved this as a fact. She then completely falls of the radar.

June Elizabeth Millarde died in 1991.