Irene Winston

Irene Winston was a very rounded actress that appeared in everything a 1950s could – movies, TV, radio, theater. She literary did it all, and was more or less successful in most of the fields mentioned. Sadly, her movie career was pretty thin and except from Hitchcock aficionados, she is rarely mentioned today. But yes, she appeared in Rear Window and probably will never be completely forgotten due to this fact. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Mable Irene Winston was born on July 18, 1916 in New York City, New York. She was a Brooklyn girl, born and bred, and attended elementary and high school there.

After high school graduation, Irene entered New York University with the idea of becoming a doctor. After a year or premedical studying, however, she was presented with an unexpected chance to try out In a play. She snapped it up, and when she was finished went back to school, only to find that she had missed her year-end exams. Also, the role in a stock company production changed her mind and her ambition.

Rather than repeat the year of pre-med work, Irene decided she d be come an actress. She then appeared on the stage to “Tovarich , “Boy Meets Girl” and “Having a Wonderful Time, and four years ago made her radio debut. Later she admitted that she didn’t get far into the mysteries of medicine. “Just six months of pre-medics, I think I really started it as a shield to my real ambition. I was afraid if I told people I wanted to be an actress, they would not understand.”

She started to divide her tint between the theater and the Chicago studios of NBC, plus a career in radio. And this is how her acting career started!

CAREER

Irene appeared in one of my all ti favorite movies, Gone to Earth (IMDB mentions the English cut, not the Sleznick US one, this is important to note!). I generally love the director, Michael Powell, plus Jennifer Jones, another one of my favorites, and David Farrar, such a yummy, sexy guy! All of this aside, the movie is a minor classic, visually stunning, with incredible cinematography and a multi-layered story with some profoundly moving themes and deep philosophical discussions! Irene plays Jennifer’s mother in a very small role, but just being  apart of this piece of magic is more than enough.

Dear Brat is a okay young adult movie with the formulaic plot of (taken from an IMDB review): “a teenager who decides to rehabilitate a criminal by hiring him to work at her father’s home. Her father was the judge that sentenced him.” Seeing a young Natalie Wood on the screen is perhaps the movie’s only claim to fame today. Mona Freeman sadly got stuck playing these kind of brats for a portion of her career, too bad for her since she had some talent that just wasn’t properly used.

My Son John is a weird, outdated movie about the the Red Scare in the 1950s, but on a more intimate level – family. Robert Walker (that unique actor that truly was, for a man, fairest of the fair, an unappreciated waif, never to be repeated afterwards) plays the black sheep of a picture perfect Mid Western American family, returning home after changing his outlook life. He is… horror of horrors, a Communist now! Yep, that’s the worst they could pin on a guy. In a world where there are so many worst offences, this is what they find as the biggest one… For a conservative 1950s American that is. The cast is actually solid – Walker, Helen Hayes, Dean Jagger… But the story is so simplistic and borderline  that it’s almost obsolete do watch it today.

Carrie is another Jennifer Jones movie, and serious drama. Based on Theodore Dreiser’s novel, it deals with some serious issued like a woman’s place in society, sexual obsession and the price of breaking societal norms. Jennie is as good as always, and Laurence Olivier is tops against her (I have yet to see Larry give  a bad role – he appeared in some dismal movies, but he’s always in top form, the perfect consummate actor). Interesting to see Miriam Hopkins in one of her more mature roles, she’s also a class act although she did her share of below average movies.

Rear Window is Irene’s claim to fame! What needs to be said about this absolute classic? Just go and watch it! After some TV work came The Delicate Delinquent, a typical Jerry Lewis movie. What can I say, I don’t especially like Jerry Lewis and find his brand of humor not really interesting or my cup of tea, so I’ll say a definite skip, but to each his own! Here Lewis plays a bumbling janitor who befriends a juvenile delinquent and helps him become a straight laced citizen. Predictable.

And that’s it from Irene!

PRIVATE LIFE

Here are some bits and pieces about Irene:

Irene said: “Still learning wanted to be an actress, they’d look at me and say: ‘You?’ ” Her hope is to get through stage training; to do “something worth while” behind the footlights, and then think of the films. Dramatic parts are what she likes best. She’d like to sing, too, but “I always find myself losing the key.” For the rest: she’s not married, nor engaged; doesn’t care much for outdoor sports; delights in travel end reading plays; enjoys being on the road and hopes to put on four more pounds.”

Irene was also quiet passionate about the art of acting and seemed ready to go that extra mile for thespian brilliance. Another article:

She’s been on the stage about three and a half years, and on the radio about the same length of time. She says she still has much to learn. And she has a quaint notion that the best way to do this is to put all there is in every part, even if it isn’t the lead. For example, she enrolled in a beauty school in New York, just because she wanted to be sure she’d wield her file like a real manicurist.

Irene had two favorite pastimes — surf bathing and bowling. Her Christmas favorite was Cranberry Maple Syrup Pie and she even shared her recipe for making it with the papers. She also shared some tricks for swollen feet:

 Irene Winston, pretty dancer, uses this bubbly type of footbath every night. After the soaking she rinses her feet in cool water, dries them very thoroughly and massages with scented alcohol. Then she dusts on her foot powder as the finishing touch to make her feet happy. They are pretty, too, for she keeps the nails tinted and the cuticle around them well oiled. Ordinary foot weariness will vanish after such treatment, but when long hours in tight shoes have made feet swollen and tender, the old standby, the contrast footbath with a basin of very hot water and one of cold water, is more effective than soaking for restoring normal circulation. The dips in the cold water should be very brief. The massage following this foot bathing should be done with feet elevated while you Rotate each toe, knead the sole and Instep, stroke down from toe to ankle. After ten minutes of this, rest with feet elevated on a high pillow.

And here are some more tips for feet care:

Are you tired of hot weather, are yon having trouble with tired, burning feet? Much of this, of course, is due to shoes that don’t fit. Be careful about electing open sandals that give no support, or wearing comfortable shoes which are really oat of shape and worn down at the heels. You’ll want your feet to he as well groomed as your hands, now that you spend so much time at the beach, so take these few tips from Irene Winston of Columbia networks When a Girl Marries series. Clip nails straight across and smooth with an emery board. Rub each nail separately with a semi-stiff brush, then push back cuticle with an orange stick dip-pod in oily cuticle remover, rinse and dry thoroughly. Separate toes with wads of cotton and apply polish. When dry, massage with skin lotion and pat on a bit of cologne. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

By 1940, Irene was living in a boarding house in Manhattan, New York and was active in the dating world. Irene Winston and Victor Christian, who played opposite her in “Brooklyn, U. S. A.,” were an item for some time, but larger dangers were looming over Irene.

It seems that Irene was a sickly and accident prone person who ended up in the hospital with some frequency. For instance, she fell and was injured as she alighted from a cab at the studios. At some point, she became very, very ill at Manhattan General, and literary almost died. Luckily, she was reported mending again after nearly kicking the well-known bucket.

Irene then dated Ham Fisher, Joe Palooka‘s creator, but it seems that Ham carried a torch for his ex-wife and the relationship went nowhere. Not long after, Walter Coy, of the “Hamlet” cast, was reportedly engaged to Irene, and they planned for wed when his divorce from Ann Burr was made final. Walter and Anne truly did get divorced in 1950, but Walter and Irene did not get married.

Naturally, she relocated to Hollywood for a brief time to appear in movies. During her Hollywood sojourn, Irene met and fell in love with John Shelton, previously married to Kathryn Grayson. They married on September 11, 1948. Shelton flew to Las Vegas from Oklahoma, met his bride there on her arrival by plane from New York. They lived in Hollywood, but the marriage was rather short lived. Shelton was born Edward Price Shepperd in 1915 in Los Angeles, to Edward Price and Madge Shepperd. He was a actor and singer.

They separated in 1949, and started divorce proceedings in June 1951.  Irene accused Shelton of deserting her a year after their marriage, asking for $300 ‘a month alimony in a superior court suit filed yesterday. Finally, by late 1953, they were divorced. However, they stilled work on stories together for some time afterwards. The dropped that in the end, and Shelton died under mysterious circumstances in Sri Lanka in the 1972.

Irene wasted no time in finding new beaus. She and Henry Hull Jr. dated while they were appearing in the theater show “Having Wonderful Time”. After the broke up,  she consoled herself by dating Chester Stratton for a few months. Here is another fun bit about Irene:

Walter Piiranty, the war cor-respondent, Irene Winston, the actress, and George Jean Nathan, the actor, were playing The Word Game when Duranty called “re-vng”. . .”In what sense,” inquired Mr. Nathan, “do you mean it?” “In the sense.” said . Duranty, “of doing something to someone because he or she did “Something to you. .Getting even.” “Sweet!” called out Irene, who is just divorced. “Marriage!” echoed Nathan, who is still an old maid.

Irene then dated actor Harry Lewis before more or less completely disappearing from the newspaper circuit. What we do know is that Irene lived in jointly in New York and California for the rest of her life. She traveled extensively, visiting Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Brazil and so on.

Irene Winston died on September 1, 1964, in Hollywood, California, from pneumonia.

 

Neila Hart

Pert and pretty, Neila Hart was the sister of the famous actor Bob Sterling, but didn’t have quite the same luck in Hollywood as her older sibling. She got some publicity due to the familial connection but ultimately sliding into obscurity. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Nellie Holmes Hart was born on August 22, 1921, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, to Walter K. Hart and Vera Holmes. She was the youngest of three children, her older brother was William Sterling, born on November 13, 1917, and her older sister Helen, born in 1919. Her father was manager of Sylvan Heights golf course. In his younger days, he was prominent in athletics and played professional baseball, where he attained success as a catcher.

Neila grew up in New Castle and was a very athletic child with great flexibility. In 1937 Walter’s health became impaired and the whole family went to California to reside with Robert, who was by then then beginning his success as a film actor. Neila finished her education in Los Angeles and graduated from high school, After graduation, she started to work as 5-and-10-cent-store girl, secretly dreaming of becoming an actress, patterning herself after her brother. She was finally noticed when her Robert was in the Army Air Corps. She was signed by Columbia Studios and her career started.

CAREER

Neila appeared in only three movies in a span of few years. Are You with It? was her first Hollywood movie, a pleasant affair with a carnival background story. Originally a Broadway play that was watered down for Hollywood in a form of a low budget musical. Those type of movies were always the same – a non-existing (sometimes even absurd) story, some song and dance numbers (mostly not from top line composers), but usually the leading lady/man fill out all the holes with their presence. here was have Donald O’Connor, a man of immense dancing talent and modest but lovable charm, and Olga San Juan, a petite but fiery senorita who could set aflame blocks of ice.

Since You Went Away is the most recognizable movie that Neil appeared in. It’s the classic family-in-wartime film. The brain child of David Selznick, it is best known today for its august cast – Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple, Robert Walker, Joseph Cotten, Monty Wooley and so on. Showing the daily life of families left behind during WW2, it’s sincere, well acted and written – if it is a bit syrupy on the edges, remember that it was made during the war, and people needed their Mrs. Minivers and other light-beats-the-dark characters very, very much. This is classic Hollywood at it’s best – it’s not a superbly inspired, artistic movie, but it’s perfectly made for the source material and does it’s job more than admirably.

Neila’s last movie was Good Luck, Mr. Yates, a so-so wartime movie, with a overtly dramatic story-line about a Military Academy instructor who is 4-F and thus loses the respect of his students. He quits to join up but ends up working in a shipyard and tried to redeem himself. The cast is mediocre, with the generally uninteresting Jesse Barker in the lead and Tom Neal always playing the same hoodlum. Claire Trevor and Edgar Buchanan fare a bit better, but not by much.  Overall a forgettable movie.

And that’s it from Neila!

PRIVATE LIFE

Neila changed her first name from Nellie “because everyone told me Nellie sounded too much like a horse.” I like Nellie, it’s such a innocent, cute name, but okay, whatever Jan. As the new girl on the block, Neila was feted and beaued by a number of Hollywood personalities. For a time she was seen with Van Johnson at the Somerset house and with Tom Neal at the Mocambo.

After her Hollywood career failed lightning fast, Neila decided to stay in the Hollywood circuit and became a publicity woman with the Alan Gordon Agency. She also started dating Steven Crane, former husband of Lana Turner. Steven was, at the time, looking for a house to rent with a nursery for his and Lana’s daughter Cheryl, and it seems that such a set up was not very constructive to his relationship with Neila, so they broke up not long after.

In 1944, while Neila was in the hospital recovering from an appendectomy, her father died. Neila and Bob received the whole of Hollywood’s sympathy on his death, in a testament of how well liked the brother and sister were in Tinsel Town. Then, to the surprise of almost everyone, Neila married Maj. Dick Benjamin. Richard Benjamin was born in Beatrice, Nebraska, the son of Mr. and Mrs. D. E. Benjamin. His father was a staff photographer with the Sun-Telegraph. He grew up in Beatrice, and attended Fairfax High School. He served with the air corps during WW2, and  had seen plenty of action in New Guinea and Burma. He was Jackie Coogan’s commanding officer, and this is how he came to the attention of various Hollywood glitterati. He dated songstress Helen Forrest before meeting Neila.

In March 1945, Dick was shot down over Germany and spent two months in a German prison camp, and was later sent home on a furlough. He had to scrape for the money, too, because his back army pay hasn’t come through yet. Neila quit Hollywood for a time to devote herself to family life, but the marriage was over by 1948. She came roaring back to the dating scene, and was seen with Bruce Cabot at the Tallyho. A few short months later, in 1949, she secretly married in Tijuana a certain Rocky Mario, night club entertainer. Mario also worked as an Arthur Murray dance instructor.

This marriage also did not last long, and they were divorced by the mid 1950s. Neila married her third husband, Edward Cass, in the late 1950s. Their daughter Carla Helen was born on August 20, 1961. The Cass marriage also disintegrated sometime in the early 1980s.

After the divorce, Neila moved to Atmore, Alabama and lived there and in Mobile, Alabama, for the remainder of the life.

Nellie Holmes Hart died in 2003. Sadly, her daughter Carla Cass died on January 14, 2011.

 

Patricia Farley

Hollywood always asked their actresses to be very thin, sometimes at great prices. Patricia Farley is a great example of a girl who wasn’t really fat but was nudged by studio brass to lose weight very quickly – this type of yo-yo dieting this is never a good idea. She managed to lose the weight at a large cost, as she became sick and almost died later. Luckily she got out of the rat race and lived happily in California. Let’s hear more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Zedna May Farley was born on September 27, 1914, in Toronto, Canada, to Harry Farley and Betsy Morgan. Her older sister Minnie was born in 1913. Her father was a draftsman (drafting technician makes detailed technical drawings or plans for machinery) for a telephone company. The family moved to California in in 1919, and Zedna grew up in Pasadena, where she attended high school.

Since she was a beautiful girl not adverse to public appearances, Zedna participated in a number of beauty pageants and talent contests while in high school. In 1928, she was one of the Court of the Queens of the Valencia Orange Show–the “Queens” were future starlets Mona Rico and Dorothy Day.

Zedna won A “Miss Canada” title (to be clear, this was a contest held by the Southern California Canadian Society, she was not a Miss Canada in the full sense, chosen in Canada) later, in 1929. In 1930, she ran away from home to get married at only 16 years old. She soon realized her mistake and going to Reno was the result. She liked the city and decided to stay there working as hostess and later as entertainer In a night club, where she began to put on weight.

Patricia moved to new York not long after and she was employed for a time by a New York club. She won the notice of Paramount studio officials because of the way she exchanged flip repartee with Mae West while playing the tiny role of a hat check girl in “Night After Night,”. But it wasn’t an easy road – an observing pair of eyes in Paramount’s New York office, however, took more than passing note of Patty. Certain photographs, “stills” from the production, were brought out, the one of that particular scene was produced, and an informal council of New York advertising men agreed that Patricia was a good screen prospect. This opinion was wired to Hollywood, along with the suggestion that studio executives give the girl further opportunity. In the end, she was awarded a contract. And off she went!

CAREER

Pat m,ade a few comedic shorts in 1932, and her first movie was the Mae West Night After Night – quite a successful concoction of delightful ingredients – George Raft, Mae West and Constance Cummings, with gangsters, drama and comedy! It’s an interesting movie definitely worth watching! Pat’s second movie was the Tarzan rip-off, King of the Jungle, with Buster Crabbe in the lead. Crabbe was actually an okay actor who doesn’t get the credit he deserves, and his movies are mostly very much watchable, including this one.

Then came the George Raft/Sylvia Sidney movie, Pick-up. Sidney was, as one reviewer perfectly wrote, “princess of gloomy tragedy” and she works this movie like a charm. Pat than made tow low budget westerns, Under the Tonto Rim and Sunset Pass, and as you know I never write about such movie so skip.

Patricia rounded of 1933 with perhaps the weirdest movie she has made, Narcotic. How to sum it up? Here is a great review from IMDB: “While not as over-the-top as Dwain Esper’s MANIAC or as professionally made as his MARIJUANA: WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL, NARCOTIC is a unique film experience. It has a jumpy, elliptical style–sometimes the next scene may be a few days after the prior scene, sometimes a few months or even years. Add to this the use of stock footage from silent films (in the first half) and stock footage of animals killing each other (in the last third).Also, the script mixes philosophy with medical jargon with drug slang with hard-boiled dialogue. And Esper’s preference for odd, off-putting camera angles and introducing characters by showing their shadow.The whole thing, in under one hour, has a grimy feel to it.” An unusual movie experience, that’s for sure!

Pat appeared in three movies in 1933. All of Me, a so-so PreCode drama where Miriam Hopkins, in the leading role as a spoiled heiress, is the least interesting part of the movie, and the laurels go to George Raft as a ex con who can’t get a steady job to support his pregnant girlfriend. We also have Frederic March, but he’s almost not quite interesting. Good Dame was a movie in a similar vein, a so-so movie with some strange stuff in it. We again have Frederic March, but this time he plays a con-artist thug and speaks in a weird accent that’s totally unbelievable, and Sylvia Sidney, as the girl who believes she can reform him. You see where this plot is going? Yep, you guessed it! And since this is Sylvia Sidney we are talking about, you know it’s not gonna end well. Pat’s last movie is 1934 was the best one, the witty, sparkling comedy The Merry Widow, with Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier. Now this one is worth watching!

In 1935, Patricia started strong in Naughty Marietta, the first of the famous Jeanette MacDonald /Nelson Eddy pairings, and a charming, fluffy movie to boot! Classic Hollywood at it’s best, what can I say! Another minor classic was Diamond Jim, The story of legendary gambler Diamond Jim Brady and his romance with entertainer Lillian Russell, with Edward Arnold and Jean Arthur in the leads and Jean doesn’t even play Lillian, Binnie Barnes plays her!). Pat then appeared in a minor classic, Barbary Coast, with the grand team of Miriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson and Joel McCrea. Pat’s last movie was the charming whodunit Grand Exit, about tracking down an arsonist, with Edmund Lowe and Ann Sothern.

That was it from Patricia!

PRIVATE LIFE

Patricia was known in Hollywood as the gal who looked like Gloria Swanson. I can see a slight resemblance, but not that much I have to say. Patricia married her first husband,  Thomas B. Hearn, on November 3, 1930, when she was just 16 years old. Thomas Baker Hearn was born on September 21, 1907, in Connecticut/Rhode Island to William Hearn and Margaret baker. He was an electrician by trade. The marriage lasted only a short time, ending in June 1932 (and Patricia went to Reno and the rest is history!). On August 21, 1937, Thomas married Marylynn Ruth Titus. He died on may 27, 1962 in Los Angeles.

When Patricia landed in Hollywood, movie scouts told her she was overweight and would have to reduce. A contract was written, contingent on her weight at the end of one month. She dieted, exercised, submitted to pounding and twisting on the massage tables and took off 15 pounds in 30 days. It was considered a record, even In the movie colony. So she got the Job. Here are bits and pieces from her journey:

Fruit juices and .on small salad these Items make up three meals a day for Patricia Farley, eighteen, who believes a movie contract Is worth heroic dieting. ‘ Patricia, Canadian-born Pasadena girl whose beauty attracted attention on a mpvl set where sh wa working as an extra, has won bar contract by taking off fifteen pounds In thirty days, and sh Is still dieting and reducing, not to cease until she ha regained her normal weight of 118. ‘I weighed 145 pounds that day they first noticed me,” sh says, “I weighed 130 the day I signed the promised contract. Today I weigh. By a strict -liquid diet composed mainly, of fruit Juice anal supplemented by water she pulled down from 145 and she say shell maintain the rigorous scheduled diet til she reaches 115 pound. 125 and am losing pounds at the rate, of four a wek!”

“I’m not afraid my diet will hurt me, even though it Is rather stringent and it might not be good for others,” sh says. For breakfast she ha orange Juice, for lunch more of the same and the salad, and for dinner Just orange juice. , Coffee sh takes cream-less and sugarless. But diet Is only a small part of her reducing program; Exercise does the rest. This is what she did: Thirty minute of rope-Jumping, bicycling, rowing and bending exercises, ten minutes In the electronic vibrator, fifteen minutes in a steam bath, five minutes in hot and cold shower, thirty minutes of massage.

“I didn’t mind it a bit,” she said “The first two or three days the most difficult. I was not accustomed to so much exercise i my muscles became stiffened i sore. The diet didn’t bother m. all, for actually my menu was reasonable and adequate. I now convinced that the average woman eats far too much food today. Exercise is very important in reducing, and, in my case found it well to avoid too much sleep. Inactivity adds pounds, of course, adequate rest is essential.” Patricia Farley, weighing around 118 pounds, seems destined for a very happy and fortunate H wood career.

I don’t know what to say about this story – it’s heartbreaking and sad. This healthy young woman had to undergo extreme dieting conditions to be given a contract – while she did have a choice to just let it all go and give up Hollywood, we are well aware that she, in real life where stuff are grey and not black and white, was more or less pushed into it. And you think this just flows by without any serious damage to the person doing it? Not a chance, and it was pretty obvious that something was going to pop, sooner or later.

And that something came just a few short years later. Patricia was seriously ill with pneumonia for a few weeks in 1935. Several days before she was Injured in an automobile accident. In convalescence she took pneumonia. It was very much close to the edge for a time, and nobody knew for sure she would make it. The moral of the story: don’t do yoyo dieting. It truly doesn’t’ pay and get back at the user tenfold. Being slim/fit/not fat is a long and rhythmical process where a person must change her whole set of habits to integrate balance into his or her lifestyle. Otherwise it just wont’ yell. To some people it’s easier, to some it’s more difficult, but it’s always the same method (finding a middle road), just with a million different ways of achieving the goal.

Patricia’s illness changes her life drastically. She gave up Hollywood, and started playing a guitar at evangelistic services. Patricia married for the second time to Reuben B. Deweerd on March 9, 1938, long after she left Hollywood. Reuben was born on May 22, 1913 in Holland, Michigan, to Bert Deweerd and Sadie Waterman, the oldest of four children. His mother died in 1921 while giving birth to his youngest sister, Sadie. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s and became a professional cook. Sadly, this marriage did not last and they divorced in about 1940. Reuben later returned to Holland, Michigan, remarried to a local, Ruby Helena Weighmink, and died there in 1984.

Patricia married her third husband, Larry Morey, on March 7, 1942. Here is a short bio of Larry from IMDB;:

American lyricist and author Lawrence L. ‘Larry’ Morey was chiefly noted for co-writing (with the composer and songwriter Frank Churchill) the musical numbers for Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), including “Heigh-Ho”, “I’m Wishing” and “Whistle While You Work”. He also worked on the picture as a sequence director. His second claim to fame was adapting Felix Salten‘s 1923 book, “Bambi, a Life in the Woods”, for the screen (as well as co-writing the score with Churchill). Assisted by Perce Pearce, he is further credited with devising the characters of Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk, primarily to lighten the mood of the picture. One of the musical numbers from Bambi (1942), “Love is a Song”, was nominated for an Oscar, as was “Lavender Blue” (sung by Burl Ives) for So Dear to My Heart (1948). This piece was adapted from a popular folk song.

Morey worked for Disney from 1933, following stints at Paramount and Warners. He joined ASCAP in 1938.

It seems that third time was the charm for Patricia, as she hit the marital jackpot. The Moreys lived happily in Los Angeles until Larry’s death on May 8, 1971.

Patricia married Jack Winnett on 24 January 1973. Jack J. Winnett was born on may 2, 1917, in Los Angeles, to . He worked as an order clerk for a sporting goods wholesale store. The couple separated and divorced in 1977 and it was made final in 1979. Jack died on April 24, 1981.

Patricia married for the fifth and final time to Joe Paysnick on May 23, 1984. Saul Joseph Paysnick was born on December 14, 1922, in Massachusetts, to Abraham Paysnick and Rose Bore. He served in the US army during WW2 and continued working for the army after the war ended. He married Mavis Pauline Neibs on 26 Nov 1947 but they divorced in the 1950s. IMDB claims that Joe and Patricia divorced, but I couldn’t find any proof so let’s assume they remained married.

Zedna died on July 25, 2001, in California. Her widower Joe Paysnick died on February 17, 2007.

Audrey Conti

Audrey Conti is a great example of how Cinderella stories cannot really be taken for granted. A  normal Mid Western girl who was courted by powerful movie scouts due to her beauty and charisma, it seemed that she was on her way to the starts after she was signed by a studio. Not! Nobody knew what to do with her, and after wasting away, she did some TV work and retired after a really short time as an actress.

EARLY LIFE

Audrey Conti was born on January 31, 1933, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Rudolph and Sophia Conti. Her older brother Eugene was born in 1932. Her father was from France/Italy, her mother from Poland. Her father was a boiler operator at a local electric power plant.

Audrey grew up in St. Francis (A small town in the Milwaukee county), and showed no signs of wanting to become an actress. She graduated from high school and took up a job ads a Pabst Brewery Tour Guide. She worked as a tour guide for a few years when she appeared on the CBS Game Show “What’s My Line?” in March of 1954. She made such an impression that she was swamped by calls from the program’s fans. A studio scout visiting Manhattan noticed her and she was signed pronto. Unfortunately, she spend time in the studio not really doing anything, just going from one photo shot to the next, but then she was finally put into movies. And her career started!

CAREER

Audrey appeared in six movies and a small number of TV shows. Her first movie was The Birds and the Bees, a sub-par remake of the wonderful comedy, The Lady Eve. Yep, some movie just can’t be remade, and Lady Eve is certainly one of them. While Mitzi Gaynor is even good enough in the Babs Stanwyack role, George Gobel is not up to the task in the Henry Fonda role. Godel’s comedy is a very acquired taste and doesn’t really work here, but it still boils down to personal preference so quite  afew people actually like this version more than the original.

Her second movie was Ten Thousand Bedrooms, a peculiar Dena Martin musical where he has to marry of three older sisters before he can marry the youngest one. Today the movie has a bad rep, mostly thanks to the fact that this was Martins’ first solo effort after his series of movies with Jerry Lewis, and it was a dismal failure that almost ended his career. While the movie is not bottom of the barrel bad, it’s not particularly god either – Dean plays a role much better suited for Cary Grant (suave older tycoon), and the story is somehow silly and paper-thin. Good points are the gorgeous location filming in Rome and a solid supporting cast Walter Slezak is especially good as the girls’ father!

Then came Spook Chasers, a Bowery boys movie. Short description from IMDB: The Bowery Boys must battle crooks when a real estate agent sells their friend Mike (Percy Helton) a rundown piece of land. The group end up finding money there, which draws the attention of a couple gangsters who plan on making the boys think the house is haunted so that they’ll leave. Moronic story but good enough for Bowery boys fans, otherwise don’t bother.

Invasion of the Saucer Men is a teen-horror camp movie deluxxe. The plot is really uninspired (A teenage couple accidentally awakens an alien after hitting it with their car.), the costumes are quite amateurish and the actors are a mixed bag (some good support). It’s not even a top campy movie, but it does have it’s moments, and recommended fo rthe fans of 1950s teen over-the-top movies.

Audrey’s last two movies were her best known. The Joker Is Wild is a above average biopic, with Frank Sinatra playing the Roaring 20’s icon, Joe E. Lewis. Sinatra excels at playing bitter men with serious vices, and Lewis is a great showcase for his talents. The movie doesn’t shy away from less savory aspect’s of Lewis’ life, and is not your typical saccharine 50s biopic. Jeanne Crain and Mitzi Gaynor are able female support, as well as Eddie Albert and Jackie Coogan.

Audrey’s last movie was The Naked and the Dead, a lukewarm adaptation of the Normal Mailer novel. The movie is sadly a typical 1950s Hollywood product, too sanitized and banalized to have an impact (even if it is directed by the great Raoul Walsh!). Instead of a nuances portrayal of a group of WW2 soldiers, we get the good vs. bad soldiers story, the one we have seen a thousand times before.

And that’s it from Audrey!

PRIVATE LIFE

As she had literary no acting experience, Audrey had to learn from scratch when she landed in Hollywood, and dedicated a great deal of her free time to acting, singing and dancing lessons. Believe it or not, Audrey was quite popular back then (in a niche kind of a way), as she got thousands of letters due to her What’s Your line appearance. She diligently answered each and every letter, no matter how long it took (and it took years for it to die down).

As I already mentioned it, Audrey is a great example of how getting discovered by Hollywood was literary just the first 20% of the process. While not a small feast and it doesn’t’ happen to everybody (a  great deal of actresses were not discovered but had to actively work for Hollywood to notice them), it is by no means a sure sign that you are going to make it. I watched Audrey’s what’s my line episode, and I have to say I just don’t see it. While she is a cute, good looking girl, she’s not really charismatic and didn’t’ tickle my fancy one bit. Guess Hollywood scouts noticed this after she came to Tinsel Town. In a town where thousands of new comers appear every week, you need something to single you out, to make you jump form the crowd, and looks almost always are not enough.

With no prospects on the horizon, that was more or less it for Audrey. After some lackluster TV roles, she gave up acting, but I have no idea what she did for a living. Audrey married Gary Clarence Steenlock  in the late 1960s. Gary was born on 14 Jul 1940, in Minnesota, to Clarence Steenblock and Goldie Lokach. He really wanted to go to college, and even sold his prized car to get tuition money. Later, in 1964, he served in the US Marines, reaching the rank of lieutenant. On December 30, 1963 he married Judith F Green, but they divorced a few years later.

The couple went to live Olmstead, Minnesota. Sadly, Gary died on August 30, 1971.

After Gary’s death Audrey returned to live in Milwaukee, and maintained close ties to her brother, Eugene. Eugene died in 2019. Audrey also owned a dog, a schnauzer, who died in 2009.

As far as I know, Audrey still lives in the Milwaukee region.

Ellye Marshall

Ellye Marshall was a well endowed, sexy peroxide blonde who was quite a looker but not really a trained actress. When the time came for her to make moves to differentiate herself from tons of similarly endowed bombshells and make a solid career out of being a luscious starlet, she chose the dumb blonde routine. It sadly backfired on her, and her career was over after just a few short years.

EARLY LIFE

Eleanor Louise Marvak was born in 1928 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, to Umberto Marvak and Rosella Celik. Her younger brother Bernard was born in 1931. Her father, an auto mechanic by trade, was born in Italy (then under the Austro-Hungarian empire), and came to the US in 1925. Her mother was born in Germany and her mother’s younger sister, Christina, was living with them when Eleanor was born.

The family moved to Mount Pleasant Town, Westchester, New York in the mid 1930s, and then to Danbury, Connecticut, sometime after 1940, where Eleanor attended high school. Pretty and a good dancer, Eleanor dreamed of a career in showbiz. As soon as she graduated in 1946, she was of to New York to become a chorus girl. Slowly she climbed up the ladder of success, appearing in all sorts of plays, like Ken Murrays Broadway revue, Blackouts, and was called to be an understudy for comedienne Marie Wilson. And this is how her career started!

CAREER

Ellye appeared in only five movies. her first one,Champagne for Caesar, is arguably her most famous – a bubbly, sophisticated, nicely made comedy with the even suave Ronald Colman playing an eccentric genius who, in order to get even with the pompous president of a soap company, goes on his quiz show in order to bankrupt his company. Strong support comes from veteran classic Vincent Price , Celeste Holm, Art Linkletter, Barbara Britton and even Ellye has a credited role (she plays Frosty). Classic Hollywood comedy at it’s best, a definite recommendation!

Then came sub par Second Chance, a Christian protestant propaganda movie with Ruth Warrick playing a terminally ill woman who changes her life completely as she understands she got alienated from her church and God, but it’s not too late to change that. The movie is very heavy handed with it’s message and can be bothersome to most people not in that state of mind. While solidly made and with okay performance,s it’s definitely not something especially noteworthy. Then came Rogue River, an unusual movie as the story unravels very effectively via flashback, as Peter Graves in the lead journeys by boat down the treacherous Rogue River. The axis of the movie is the relationship between Graves and Rory Calhoun, who plays his brother. Ellye plays the love interested, but is sadly overshadowed by the brotherly camaraderie and carries very little weight in the movie.

Ellye than appeared in campy deluxxe Cat-Women of the Moon, playing one of the cat women. Just go and watch the trailer and you’s understand what it’s all about. It’s truly really campy, and a true feast for those who enjoy such stuff. The costumes, the set design, the acting, it’s all so deliciously over-the-top-campy that you cannot but like the overall package! Plus nice to see some 1940s classic movie stars a bit past their prime (Marie Windsor, Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory).

Ellye’s last was The French Line . This movie can either be a total winner or a total loser, depends on what are you looking for. It you want some mindless fun with interesting costumes and passable musical numbers, go for it! If you want a coherent story, great characters and some depth, avoid like the plague. It’s fun, it’s breezy, it’s easy on the eyes and that’s it. Cm-on, the story itself is hardcore “paper thin plots” we can see in so many 1950s musicals – when her fiance leaves her, an oil heiress (played by Jane Russell) takes a cruise incognito in order to find a man who will love her for herself and not for her money. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has no semblance of reality – but who cares, if it’s an excuse to see Russell in a variety of racy costumes (along with a huge chorus line, where Ellye was one of the chorus girls). Russell also sings in her own (very torchy) voice.

That’s it from Ellye!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1946, barely 16 years old, Ellye made the headlines by dating the older wealthy Lothario, Huntington Hartford. They flew together around the country, and seemed a bit more than casual daters, getting so serious that Ellye’s mother was reportedly furious over the pairing. But to no one’s surprise, the romance didn’t’ last. She was also seen with Joe Kirkwood, Jr., but that too was fleeting. On October 29, 1948 Ellye got married to taxi driver James Stanley Somers. Somers was born on to James Somers and Winnie Hammon on October 26, 1925, in Port Angeles, Washington. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was a small boy, and he grew up there and became a taxi driver in the 1940s, after serving in the army for WW2.

Ellye started as a starlet and did all the usual starlet stuff – sold kisses at the Biltniore Hotel Bazaar in Bklyn, posed for cheesecake, has small snippets in the news. When she decided to go level up and gain real fame, some maneuvering was needed, and a little help from her “friends”, the studio PR machine. Ellye’s master PR manager (whoever he was) decided that his client is gonna take the dumb blonde approach and hopefully become a star. This worked a few times before – Marie Wilson is a good example, but my own assessment is that these brand of PR moves did more harm than good. They perhaps sometimes gave the starlet a brief period of intense publicity, but in the long run, the public tired easily from this kind of stunts and would forget or even be resentful of the manipulation. And let’s be realistic for  a moment here, who wants to be remembered as dumb? Almost nobody. So why did they do this? Anyway, this was the path Ellye took, and she was ridiculed like crazy in the papers, obviously in compliance with the PR machine.

Look how ever her divorce was made fun of:

Showgirl Ellye Marshall, 21, divorced taxi driver James Somers Jr. 24, today on testi-money. he called her a “jerk” and a “louse.” A friend, Claudette Thorton, also testified Somers “was always flirting” behind his wife’s back. Superior Judge Ray Brockman asked Miss Marshall how she knew her husband was flirting if her back was turned. “Well, your honor,” she said, “there are some things you just know.”

Here are more of her “gems”

Pretty Ellye Marshall, aB’klyn gal, went to Hollywood and got a good role in “Champagne for caesar,” playing a dumb blonde, But she was not so dumb, I found out at 21, where she helped celebrate the 25th wed ding anniversary of the Harry Popkins of Hollywood. She had been telling me. “Boys have a harder time getting ahead in Hollywood than girls,” and I said “Why :” “Because,” she said after thinking it over, “there aren’t any women producers

And this one explains it all:

On Broadway Ellye Marshall Is Beautiful But Dumb By Mark Barron NEW YORK She is a healthy girl as one can see by the bloom in her cheeks, her curvaceous muscles and the fact that she takes such vigorous indoor exercise as being the beautiful blond ski girl in a sports scene in Ken Murrays Broadway revue, Blackouts. On the stage Ellye Marshall looks mighty fetching as she comes on in her ski pants, ski cap and a ski jacket, the latter leaving about two feet of her neck exposed. Over her shoulder she carries a pair of skis as she sings a song about going high on the hill top to ski through the air like a ‘bird, etc. “Can you really ski? I challenged her. “No, she confessed. “In my dressing room once I got curious and tried the skis on my feet just to see how they felt. I stumbled, fell and nearly twisted my ankle. So I took them off in a hurry as I have to dance in the show. Miss Marshall has to play a dumb girl of the Marie Wilson type, but she says she has to work very hard at it “You have no idea how much work it is to be a dumb girl, she said. “For instance, when I started out to meet you, I thought and thought about something dumb to say so you would laugh and say, Gee, the girl is beautiful but dumb. “Then I figured that you undoubtedly would comment that I am pretty or I am nice, and I would open my eyes wide and reply: That’s the nicest compliment I’ve had all day. I just got up five minutes ago. So now if you just say I’m pretty, then I’ll say my dumb line and then we can get down to some talking about serious things. Gee, the girl is beautiful, but she ain’t dumb. Miss Marshall says she is always getting cast against type. She plays the ski girl on Broadway and cant ski. In Hollywood films she is usually cast as a bathing beauty but naturally but she cant swim a stroke. In the forthcoming movie, “Champagne for Caesar , she plays the role of Frosty opposite Ronald Colman who is supposed to be a brilliant quiz-show contestant, a man who can answer every question in the book. Even in a story supposed to be entirely about erudite scholars, she still is cast as a beautiful but dumb chick. In one scene Colman comments that she “has possibilities for genius. Everyone thinks I have wonderful possibilities especially men, Miss Marshall says.

And another one (the last one, I promise!):

Ellye Marshall, co – starred with Rory Calhoun in “Rogue River,” was named “Miss Profile of 1950” by a group of amateur photographers. “But why,’ she asks,-blankly, “do they always make ” m e – w e a r – a bathing suit when they photograph my profile?’

Did it help her, long term? Of course not! It usually never does. Anyway, as her career winded down, Ellye got hitched again. She married Val Grund, musical arranger, on October 28, 1950.  Val Jerald “Joe” Grund was born on October 27, 1927 in Los Angeles, to Valentine John  Grund Sr. and Lucile Pasely. Val did musical arrangements from the time he was in high school, and was even awarded for his choral setting of the 100th Psalm, along with a honorable mention in the orchestral division. He slowly started to work in the showbiz industry and landed with Ken Murray, working on his Ken Murray show.

Ellye gave up on her career to raise a family. Their daughter Valerie Jean Grund was born on November 2, 1952. Sadly, the Grunds divorced sometime after the birth of Valerie. Val died on July 14, 1965, aged only 37.

Ellye married Peter Lance at some point before 1959. I have no idea what happened to her afterwards, but as always, I hope she had a happy life!

Trudy Wroe

A beautiful mannequin who came to Hollywood via the TV route, Trudy Wroe actually nabbed herself a lead in a series of TV movies, so she became less of a starlet and seemed more and more on the way to the upper echelons of the actresses ranks in Tinsel Town. However, her lucky break didn’t belt out and she was retired within three years. Let’s find out more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Gertrude Janice Wroe was born on May 25, 1931, in Los Angeles, California, to William Kenner Wroe and Viola Frances Horn. Her older sister Anita Joyce was born on October 5, 1927. Her father was a WW1 veteran who worked as a motor car salesman.

Trudy grew up in Los Angeles and originally was not interested in a showbiz career. Trudy majored in art at Manual Arts High school, with plans to become a commercial artist. Her plans were changed, however, when Photographer Tom Kelly saw her and thought she was just the girl he was looking for for a billboard ad. So she became a model, and after graduation studied at modeling schools. She modeled for the Mary Webb Davis agency for three years before becoming a free lancer, modeling for various artists and photographers. Trudy earned really good money this way, but she hit the financial roof when she started to appear in TV commercials. She got paid every time one of her commercial was shown, and when she made a Paper Mate pen commercial, she earned about $15,000 a year out of that one alone.

The Pen commercial was so well liked that Trudy started being noticed on a larger scale than before. For extra publicity, she was paired with a young-faced actor, Tommy Irish, to be a new wholesome duet. There were preparations for a weekly late-night show with the “sweetheart combination”, and they had been chosen as the outstanding personalities in television. Trudy received more than 300 fan letters weekly and was quite popular country-wide.

However, while this Tommy Irish pairing didn’t work out in the end, something else did. Trudy underwent a grueling elimination contest of over 100 actresses to land the choice role of Lorelei in the Big Town series of telefilms. She was named to the role after two months of tests. She had no prior acting experience. She later told Lydia Lane that the secret of her success was her styling and clothes. “I was surprised to get the role of Lorelei, They had interviewed dozens of girls and when they saw me for the first time they said I looked too young for the part. But when I took,my test I made sure I wore a sophisticated dress and they changed their minds. I don’t think men realize how a girl can alter her appearance with the right clothes and make-up.”

And her career was of!

CAREER

Trudy appeared in only three movies – Son of Sinbad, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and Ask Any Girl

Son of Sinbad is a movie made for visual enjoyment and little more. Plot, acting, anything of depth – no sirree. But beautiful women, great costumes and other eye candy – yes please! The movie even gently spoofs the sword-and-sandal genre, so it does have at least a bit of depth (nothing much, mind you!). Trudy was one of the many harem dancers.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is the best movie on Trudy’s list, a tight, short and very well made thriller directed by the master, Fritz Lang. While it’s undoubtedly a B level production made on a shoestring budget, the writing and the story, a critique of capital punishment for circumstantial evidence, make it work. Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine play the leads – I love both of these actors so I am a big biased, and while neither especially stretches the acting muscle here, they are more than adequate. The movie’s strong point is that it takes the viewer think and ponder the classic “could it really happen?”. With the strong message and a unexpected twist, in this is succeeds nicely. A overlooked classic, this one

Trudy’s third and last movie was Ask Any Girl, with Shirley MacLaine at the quirky best – she’s utterly charming and one of a kind! The whole movie follow suit – it’s a breezy, nice little comedy with a great supporting cast – David Niven, Gig Young, Jim Backus! Old Hollywood at it’s comedic best!

That’s all from Trudy!

PRIVATE LIFE

Papers noted that she and Pat Barrett were two attractive and petite employees at Hughes Aircraft, but I didn’t find any other reference to this, but I doubt that Trudy ever worked at the air plant, as it seems she got into modeling and stayed there until she came to television. Here is a short bio of Trudy at that time:

Trudy Wroe, blond, blue-eyed, She stands 5 feet, 5 inches from the tips of her 5 shoes to the top of her natural ash-blond curls, and tips the scales at 115 pounds. . Her classic measurements in the traditional north-south manner register a pleasing 34- 23-35. Her pet economy is clothes while her pet luxury is visiting a neighborhood beauty parlor once a week. Trudy’s taste in dates and her prerequisites for a husband are as diversified as her preference in music which ranges from “hot” jazz to lulling classics. She demands, in the following order, good looks, natural personality (nothing forced), and consideration in her dates. The man that she marries must have ambition, consideration and honesty.

There was also a story how Bob Cumming’s son helped choose Trudy for stardom:

Trudy Wroe, one of the beauties featured on the Bob Cummings show, was discovered by Bob, Jr., when he was all of seven years old! Two years ago, Bob Sr. was asked to co-judge a beauty contest. At the last minute, he had a studio call to report for work. As a gag, Mrs. Cummings took Bob Jr. to represent his father. He selected Trudy out of a bevy of gorgeous girls, and the other judges concurred with his choice. As a result, Trudy got some free publicity, was selected to be one half of the Singing Sweethearts in a commercial and now works regularly on Bob’s CBS-TV series

Trudy lived with her mother and older sister at the time she hit her five minutes of fame. In her spare time she sketched and played tennis.

Anyway, within an year after getting the role of Lorelei, Trudy was sacked. Why? Well, it’s afe to assume that putting a woman with no real acting experience in such a role that demands charisma and gravitas was probably a mistake. This is something that Hollywood can never learn – while it’s fine and dandy to chose your actors based on looks, but even then there has to be more than just the visage. Trudy was beautiful for sure, but obvious could’t hold down on such a demanding job. I feel sorry for her, since she was briefly launched into the stratosphere by the Hollywood PR machine, just to come crashing down a short time later. I was not surprised that her career never recovered – unless she went into the theater to learn to act and than return to films, or had another lucky break (it has happened before, bu rarely), there was really no real chance for her to succeed after that. There are literary thousands of beautiful girls and models who swarmed to Hollywood every month, and being pretty was just not enough.

Now for her love life. Trudy dated a unnamed wealthy easterner who flew out to see Trudy, but they battled at the airport. Incidentally, at the same time the mystery guy got his other swain, Anita Ekberg, a new, eight carat sparkler. In the end neither girl ended up with him long term.

Trudy then dated young meat packing heir Geordie Hormel, who would later marry Leslie Caron. Then Trudy got involved with Bert Friedlob, the eminent producer. They dated for more than a year, from late 1954 until early 1956, and it seems that Friedlob tried to help Trudy’s career with his producing sass. Friedlob had just come out of a marriage to actress Eleanor Parker, with whom he had three children, so perhaps the timing wasn’t perfect, but they stuck out for quite a long time by Hollywood standards! Friedlob was a colorful character himself. He started out as a wholesale liquor dealer who made several fortunes and lost them all in a span of 20 years. Before Eleanor, he was married to actress Jeannette Loff, but she died in 1942.

However, it seems that Friedlob liked pretty ladies (he was generally tough as a womanizer and party animal in Hollywood, and had an affair with Lana Turner among others) and Trudy was not his one and only. He also dated Barbara Nichols on the side. While this is pretty standard in Hollywood, where everybody dated everybody else, it seems that Trudy wasn’t really satisfied with it. Why? Well, during her tenure as Lorelei Kilburne, Trudy decided that she wanted to get married. An except:

Trudy Wroe, who spent six months playing newsgal Lorelei Kilbourne while Mark Stevens was filming his Headline series, says the role gave her a bright idea: Getting herself happily married. ” After all,” she says, ” Lorelei always , has marriage in the back of her mind, and she’s a contagious character! “

Friedlob wasn’t quite in with the idea, having just gotten divorced, so the pair broke up. Sadly, he died on October 7, 1956, from cancer. I presume that Trudy still wanted to get hitched – but then chose a possibly even worse choice for matrimony – Marty Kimmel, the playboy extraordinaire who was married, very briefly, to Gloria DeHaven. Marty dated almost all the pretty girls in Hollywood, and, of course, Trudy was no exception. Unlike many of the girls, she managed to snag him for a longer time, but still, Marty was a playboy at heart and marriage was probably not in the cards.

Doubtlessly noticing this herself, Trudy decided to play the field herself, and was often seen with Bernard Shubert, the video packager. So we have a kind of a love triangle, Bernard, Trudy and Martin. She was also sometimes seen with Hugh French at the Gourmet Beverly.

As time went by, it seemed that Marty was really stuck on Trudy. One year he flew to L.A. to spend the holidays with Trudy, and they were often spied having cocktails at the . Luau. However, also, as time went by, there was no great improvement in their status, so Trudy continued to seek other opportunities on the side.

She was seen with publisher Bob Petersen and was a sometime date of Mac Krim, but the guy was massively in love with Kim Novak at the time, and only dated Trudy when Kim was out of town – when Kim returned he literary wasn’t dating anyone but Kim. She continued seeing Shubert, and ultimately broke up with Kimmel.

Trudy then dated up a storm with a string of men, in some random order: Joe Kirkwood Jr. (who was married to Cathy Downs), songwriter Jule Styne, attorney Bentley Ryan, and actor John Carroll.

In late 1958, Trudy made the papers when she was getting the rush from Prince Kazem Kashani of Iran, who was handsome, a bachelor and just 32. They were seen everywhere for a few months, but this too failed in the long run. However, Trudy had by that time already met the man she would marry – Don Durant.

They made their relationship official in Early 1959,  and pretty soon there were newspaper items that Trudy and Don were getting married February 28. Don Durant was born on November 20, 1932, in Long Beach, California, and was famous for his Johnny Ringo persona.

Trudy may have had a long string of wealthy beaus, but she definitely didn’t marry Durant for the money, as this article contests:

Don Durant, a converted linger, whose CBS Johnny Ringo” series almost but not quite gunned down its ABC competition, the high-rolling Real McCoys, was in a reflective mood. Ringo bit the dust only a month ago and Don, who cut quite a figure in the title role, still cant figure out why. Our ratings right up to the end hovered between 19 and 24, and when you can do that well (with reruns) against such a blockbuster as Walter Brennans McCoys you’ve got a hit on your hands. This rating is far better than most of the seasons new programs have been able to achieve,” he said, a steely Ringo look beginning to come into his eyes. Well, thats show biz,” I said cleverly, then added, The demise of Ringo is indubitably due to behind-the-scenes maneuvers. You know, time slots, sponsor conflicts and all that sort of thing.” I said it pontifically, just like 1 knew what 1 was talking about. I hope I fooled him.’ Don Is married to the former Miss Trudy Wroe, who at one time achieved considerable fame as the Paper Mate Pen Girl In those commercials. But her residuals have long since run out and I was greatly concerned as to how Don was now rustling up the mortgage money for their Encino mansion. Tell me, Don, how does an unemployed actor like you make ends meet,” I asked pointedly with great tact, j ‘ , Are you kidding? I never had It so good.” , You’re out of work and you never had It so good?” ‘ It turns out that as a result of his Ringo series Don Is now In great demand for personal appearances all over the Country, Hes made 40 since last May when production ended. His act runs 25 minutes. It plays rodeos, fairs, amusement parks and even the opening , of shopping centers. ; Don, as Ringo, rides onstage astride his trusty horse, his fancy seven-shooter In hand, He sings four songs, talks about the TV show, answers questions about the Old West. Then he hangs around for a’ couple of hours after the show talking with the kids. I have , made three times as much money doing this since we , quit filming last May as I earned for the entire episodes of Ringo. I like the work, too, I do everything on these P.A.s from riding a horse to kissing babies. Only last week, after a show, 1 had lunch with 4,800 kids and signed autographs for everyone of (hem.” I said, well, .that Is really earning your money the hard way. He didn’t agree. He said he likes kids very much. Don may go around kiss-1 mean babies, at supermarkets and such-like places but I think his heart still lies with Johnny Ringo. Ringo,” he told me, is far from dead. We are hoping the series will be picked up to replace one of the new network shows that will be among the bunch folding around January. If not, I feel It will at least be syndicated. Regardless of the fate of Ringo, Don will be back on the TV screen one way or another. Hes formed his own Allison Productions and plans a modern-day series. One of the networks is paging him for a one-hour series and guest shots on specials loom in the offing. . . Not too bad for a fellow who used to hang around CBS as recently as 1957 hoping to pick up extra and bit parts. You and I should make as much money as this unemployed actor.” And he has still got 250 fan clubs rooting for him.”

Trudy gave up her career for family. The Durants had two children, Heidi, born on March 7, 1962, and Jeffrey, born on March 10, 1964.  Durant was a typical Hollywood blue collar who worked and worked and worked. While he didn’t have a hundred credits to his name on IMDB, he worked constantly, be it as a singer or a real estate agent. Here is some info from his obituary:
Actor, Singer. He was a mainstay in the 1950s and the early 1960s on television making many notable guest appearances, among them “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,” “State Trooper,” “Maverick,” “Perry Mason,” “Zane Grey Theatre,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock,” “The Wide Country” and “The Virginian.” These guest spots led to the 1959-60 half-hour TV series “Johnny Ringo” where Don played a gunslinger-turned sheriff. He brandished a LeMat handgun that featured an extra barrel that fired a shotgun round. For good measure, the talented vocalist wrote and then sang the theme song. The show was a bonanza for the toy industry. It generated board games, character puppets, gun sets and canteens. He was born Donald Allison Durae in Long Beach, California. His father was killed in a traffic accident prior to his birth. Don also, at age eleven, narrowly followed in his dad’s fate when he was struck by a cement trunk leaving him in a coma with many fractures relegating him to bed for over a year. His mother remarried, this time to a Nevada cattle rancher. Don spent a lot of his teen years on the ranch learning the ways of a cowboy, riding, roping and singing. The couple divorced and he was back in Long Beach. In junior high, he was a dee-jay on KPRO radio in nearby Riverside where he often sang. Still bothered from injuries due to his bike accident, he managed to play football by wearing special plates. He was drafted during the Korean War but a hip injury found him confined to Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco. He completed his military obligation with an assignment to Special Services furthering his singing experience by entertaining the veterans at Letterman. His post-military days found him pursuing a singing and acting career while touring with a theater group. Don appeared at the Sands and The Sahara in Las Vegas. He made his first serious attempt at acting with an uncredited appearance in the 1955 film “Battle Cry.” He remained active on the Hollywood scene by teaching actors how to ride horses and shoot guns and worked as a technician helping to construct the first kinescopic recorder and sound recorder. Durant had a starring role in the ‘B’ film “She Gods of Shark Reef” in 1956. He toured as a vocalist with the Tommy DorseyFrankie Carle and Ray Anthony orchestras and even recorded an album with Anthony. More and more guest-starring roles came his way, mainly western themes. However, by 1964, the days of the cowboy was over as well as the era of the big bands. His roles diminished and eventually faded altogether. He retired from show business completely while settling in Orange County operating a real estate office. He made public appearances and attended shows and conventions where he would strap on his famous LeMat pistol and sign autographs almost to the end of his days. He was diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia in 1992 which led to his death at age 72 in the family home located at Dana Point, California.
It seems that Don was a happy go lucky guy who constantly cracked jokes and was well liked by many. He and Trudy would often travel all over the world together always laughing and having fun. By all accounts they had a very happy marriage. Don became a multimillionaire through his real estate investments, and the couple enjoyed their retirement in California.
Don Durant died on March 15, 2005 in Orange County, California. Trudy continued living in Orange county after his death.
Trudy Wroe Durant died on November 10, 2007, in Orange County, California.

 

Lorraine Krueger

Perky, pretty and a really good dancer, Lorraine Krueger had a brief but sweet Hollywood career, appearing mostly in B features. he gave up Hollywood to become a real estate agent. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Lorraine Krueger was born on February 27, 1918, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Johann Wilhelm Alfred Krueger and Jesse Ione Mullins. She was the third of four children, and the only daughter – her older brothers were Alfred Carl, born on September 28, 1909, and Herbert born on December 12, 1911, and her younger brother was Raymond. Her father worked as a buyer for a retail store and was an educated chandler, working with candles and wax.

Lorraine started dancing at the tender age of three, and pretty soon it was obvious the girl was a genuine talent. Dancing became the number one thing in her life, as she later told the papers, he “had studied dancing, dreamed dancing and danced”. After graduating high school, she started to work full time as a dancer. She soon found work as a ballet chorus girl, and steadily gained more and more popularity in the entertainment circles.

After she had achieved no little fame as a dancer in her own state, and buoyed by her success, decided to “go Hollywood”. But when she came to Hollywood, reality struck her. The best she could do was to secure a place for herself in the chorus of a dance number directed by Hermes Pan. At first she thought she couldn’t go so far backward in her career, but Pan immediately noticed her and after the chorus work managed to get her into “New Faces of 1937.” She will appeared in a solo dance in the picture, and that is how her career started!

CAREER

Loraine appeared in some pretty famous movies from 1930s and 1940s. She made her debut in New Faces of 1937, a typical extravaganza musical with loads of ladies and no real plot. If you like em that way, by all means watch it! Then came Everybody’s Doing It, a totally ridiculous, implausible B Comedy Mystery, with the plot of, believe it or not, gangsters trying to cash in on a picture puzzles contest craze. Sounds crazy?

But a remedy was on its way – Lorraine had the goo luck to be a part of Bringing Up Baby, one of the premier, best screwball comedies ever made. Lorraine went the low budget western route next, in I’m from the City. A bit better than Exposed, a Glenda Farrell vehicle where she plays a smart talking female reporter, ala Torchy Blane, who wrongly accuses a decent man, and the comedic fallout from that. The male lead is played by Otto Kruger, an incredible actor who had this unique cobra-line charm. Lorraine also played one of the blond showgirls in Idiot’s Delight, a delightful comedy with Clark Gable and Lana Turner. Lorraine’s last 1930s movie was All Women Have Secrets, a forgotten movie about then-contemporary post-college life for three couples.

The 1940s were a bit better for Lorraine. Her first movie of the decade was The Farmer’s Daughter, but not the famous on with Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten, but a forgotten Martha Raye comedy. Equally forgotten is Golden Gloves, a sports drama about corrupted world of box, and one of the few movies that Jeanne Cagney, the talented sister of Jimmy, made. She then appeared in a proto-feminist classic, Dance, Girl, Dance, hemled by the great Dorothy Arzner, with Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball playing two very different breeds of dancers. And Louis Hayward is absolutely yummy in the movie!

Next up, Model Wife, with the plot, as a IMDB reviewer wrote: Model Wife casts Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, married but on the rocks in real life, as a married couple who have to keep their marriage a secret. They work in a department store that is run by Lucile Watson who does not permit folks married to each other in her employ. That’s enough of a strain on the marriage as it is. It’s same old, same old comedies that Powell and Blondell made by the bucketful in the 1930s, so nothing really interesting to write about. Unholy Partners was definitely a bit better fare: one of the popular newspapers drama (Citizen Kane is the sterling example here), it pairs Edward G. Robinson and Laraine Day. Since I love Laraine and think Edward was a top actor, I have to say I have a soft spot for the pairing. While the movie isn’t a classic, it holds up well and is worth watching. Then came Hi, Buddy, which is perfectly summarized on the IMDB page as: A military-flavored , world war two , song-and-dance B-feature in which a fund-raising effort save a boys club from being closed. Guess not a lot of art can be found here, but a fun and watchable musical? Yep! He’s My Guy was much in the same vein, a military themed musical.

Now Sarong Girl is an interesting movie! If nothing else, it’s worth seeing to see the alluring burlesque queen Ann Corio in one of the very few movies she made, and to see Irene Ryan, always a top-line comedienne. We continue in the military vein. The Adventures of a Rookie is a sub par comedy with a totally unknown comedy duo, Wally Brown and Alan Carney. Yep, it’s a Abbott and Costello ripoff, and it’s not a good one. Career Girl was a low budget musical about a girl who want to make it on Broadway – the lead is played by Frances Langford, and the male lead in the very handsome Craig Woods. Nothing to write home about, totally mid-tier. Slightly Terrific is a Leon Errol vehicle and he hold the movie together – if you like Errol’s crop of humor, this will be top! No story, slight supporting players, but plenty of Errol and some good dancing! Then we have Henry Aldrich’s Little Secret, another one of the Henry Aldrich movies,and we all know how that goes!

Like tons of other starlets, Lorraine appeared in Here Come the Waves. This is one of those movies I wrote about several times, so no need to write again. Out of This World is a comedy about the radio world with Eddie Bracken, Diana Lynn and Veronica Lake in the leads. Bracken does most of the heavy lifting here, and is very good a low budget version of Bing Crosby – Bracken rules! Lorraine’s last movie was One Exciting Week, another low budget but funny comedy with the fabulous Jerome Cowan, Pinky Lee and Shemp Howard trio.

And that’s it from Lorraine!

PRIVATE LIFE

Why is Lorraine Krueger interesting? Well, her story shows us how extras lived and worked, and how, even when you got a small speck of fame, it wasn’t enough to parlay you into a solid career. You constantly had to work and reinvent yourself. In this regard, Lorraine’s story is very enlightening. Here is a article about the lives of the extras in Hollywood, 1930s style. This was a huge subculture in Tinsel town, one that does not get nearly the recognition that it deserves, so here are some bits and pieces from their lives:

Here’s Where 5000 Phone Calls a Day Give 500,000 People a Chance at Stardom! A little blonde girl named Lorraine Krueger plays her firs starring part in “New Faces of 1937” and a lot of people who ask where her career began. Mark Sandrich, director of the picture, says it began one day when he passed a stage where she was practicing some intricate steps with a group of chorus girls, L rehearsal for “Shall We Dance.” He liked her personality an skillful feet and gave her a bit in the picture. But Lorraine herself really began from Central insists her success with a phone call Casting. On the books of the Central Casting Bureau in Hollywood are listed approximately half a million persons representing every nation in the world, all living in Los Angeles. The names of these new-faces are tabulated on index rotary flies that are placed on the switchboard in front of seven operators. 6000 calls are a daily average and at five o’clock in the afternoon, when requests for tomorrow’s extras come in, these seven files are the busiest battery of indexes in the world. No matter what sort of odd SOS is issued from the studios, these extraordinary files are ready to meet it. Perhaps a director must be supplied with as many as 104 extras who can play speaking parts the difficult demand made in the casting of RKO’s “Toast of New York”; or the call may be for an even dozen of typical “beef-trust” chorus girls, such as were hired to dance in front of Jim Fisk, fabulous speculator, and financier, played by Edward Arnold in the same film, a brilliant spectacle of the 70’s. Another flip of the files makes available names of 100 actors needed In an oriental bazaar scene, each man speaking a different language. It la even possible to meet a call for seventy stuntmen who can recreate the wild scenes of the “Black Friday” place of more than 100 extras who will not revolt If the end of the day’s work finds them with black eyes and bloody noses. Behind It all. behind these visible files and the supply and demand that deals in blondes, brunettes, young ones and old on is that Intangible for the chance for success!

Now there are some important information about the life of an extra! At R-K-O. Lorraine salary was scaled from 75 to $100 weekly over the period of her contract. She didn’t earn a lot but enough for a normal life. Sadly, her RKO career got her nowhere, and she was shopping for better options, although that also didn’t work out in the long run. Here is the story of how she got a bit better work:

Her ability won her the the studio contract as a dancer. Without introduction she won the contract by appearing before Dance Director Hermes Pan. She did so well that Pan gave her a Short dance routine with Fred Astalre In “Shall We Dance.” Had Given Up Hope. But after that she was forgotten. It was true that she had a few camera appearance In brief dancing bits, but the long-awaited  break that would push her up to featured roles did not come. When she had given all hope up of any movie fame. Director Ben Holmes discovered her. He did not find her on the-studio lot but saw her in a picture. Holmes, spied the girl doing a dance sequence in “Everybody’s Doing It.” He was at a neighborhood theater and Immediately decided she was the girl he needed as Penner’s leading lady in “I’m From the City.” The next day Holmes told the casting department to get that girl for him. Miss Krueger- was taking a few days off from work but she was found, brought back, tested and given the leading lady role alt in a few hours. i

During WW2, Lorraine was very active in the war effort and she performed in 281 camp shows all around the US. On the other hand her private life was very low key. In September 1949 Stu Wilson, radio M. C., were shopping for wedding rings. They were married later in the year, on December 2.

Stuart Robert Wilson was born on 24 September 1903 in Chicago, Illinois, to Robert John Wilson and Edith Alomeda GrahamThey family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Stuart was educated. He came to California before 1930, seeking work. He worked as a salesman in a flying school before landing a gig on a radio station in the 1930s. He was married twice before Lorraine – to Lois Helen Roussel in 1924, and Thelma Maree Ferris, in 1934. He had two children with Lois, Beverly Claire, born on June 3, 1925, and Robert Stuart, born on September 18, 1928. Wilson had a very minor acting career, appearing in several popular TV shows, like Batman and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

Lorraine and Stu enjoyed a happy and long marriage. Lorraine gave up movies in 1946, and In later years, was a real estate broker. The couple lived in Los Angeles. I could not find out if they had any children, so I would venture to guess that they did not.

Stuart Robert Wilson died on August 1, 1991. Lorraine didn’t remarry after his death and continued living in California.

Lorraine Kruger Wilson died on July 15, 2003, in Westlake Village, California.

Shirley Standlee

Shirley Standlee had a very interesting and unusual life, but it had nothing to do with her acting career. Shirley was a method trained actress who constantly sought to better her acting sill and had a solid run in 1950s TV series and theater. But it all pales in comparison to her role as the wife of one of the 20th century most famous war correspondents and journalists, Fancois Pelou. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Shirley Standlee was born on Christmas Day (December 25), 1926 in Los Angeles, California, to Elmer Fair Standlee and Mildred Cowdery. Her older sister Suzanne was born on November 10, 1921. Her father was an affluent buyer, and the family employed at least one maid in the 1920s and 1930s.

Shirley grew up in California as a typical upper-middle-class girl, attending civic events and being active in local society. She probably attended school in Los Angeles, and went for an acting career after high school graduation – that is how it all started. Shirley remained very close to her sister Suzanne, and they often summered in LaJolla during the time that Shirley lived in New York.

CAREER

Shirley worked extensively in television, but made only one theatrical movie – Patterns. And what a movie it is! I for one loved it! Such an incredibly relevant movie to his day, it deals with greed in all it’s form. Here is a great summary from imdb: Well-done story of corporate shark, owner of a vast conglomerate, who tries to break the VP he thinks can no longer do the job. Everett Sloane plays the heartless owner who nurtures his executives with bitter words and daily shouting matches. Ed Begley plays the downtrodden VP; he’s more than able to take care of himself, but after years of fighting with Sloane he’s exhausted. He’s 62 and afraid he won’t find another job and refuses to quit; he’s worked for the company for 30 years and believes he’s got a place there. Van Heflin is the executive brought in to replace Begley, unbeknownst to them both. After Sloane tells him of his plans, Heflin tries to tell the boss that he doesn’t want the job. Begley is his friend. But deep down, he finds that he really does want it, just not at that cost.

The acting performances are uniformly excellent. Ed Bengley, usually a large ham who chewed scenery, is great as a man tired of fighting with wolves, Van Helfin displaying his beguiling mix of warmth and coldness (I love him in all the movies I’ve seen so far, he always has this dual edge), but Everett Sloane! Oh! He’s so PERFECT: I know that some reviewers consider him too histrionic and loud in the role, but this is exactly how some of these people operate – some narcissists love to be heard and seen on a grand scale. But always the menace, the ruthlessness, the egotism – how he shows is across is simply astounding! IMHO he’s a highlight of an very good movie. The story-line is trim and tight, and Rod Serling adds his personal touches here and there, enough to make it more than a pedestrian, million times seen before movie. Kudos to him and all the actors! Shirley’s role is sadly quite small.

That’s it from Shirley!

PRIVATE LIFE

Shirley was one of the rare women who saw acting as an art for, not the tool for getting rich and famous. She attended the old school acting schools in Los Angeles, and got into the theater circuit in the mid 1940s (she had no designs to become a movie star and Hollywood never interested her). Young, idealistic and talented, Shirley wanted to hone her craft and become a truly great actress. However, even when she eschewed Hollywood and worked in the theater, she was in for a rude awakening. As she later told the papers: “I supported Tallulah Bankhead in ‘Private Lives’ on the road and Helen Hayes in ‘Good Housekeeping’ in 1949, and lots of others in radio and TV since, but all I learned were tricks, effective hut phony, not the real emotion an actress must project.”

A strong inner need to develop herself pushed her to leave California and settle in New York, looking for places where she could learn more about acting. She found what she was looking for in Lee Strasberg and his Actors Studio. She studied for a few yeas with him and immersed herself into method acting. Shirley then found work in supporting roles in both television and in the theater. She worked in a variety of projects with fellow Actors studio alumni, Sidney Lumet and writer/producer Rod Serling.

Shirley married french journalist Francois Pelou in 1954 in New York. In the summer of 1960, the couple adopted a son, Christopher. And now the interesting part of her life begins!

First, something about Pelou. Born in 1924 in France, he was trained to become an economist and worked in the editing department of Agence France-Presse, (APE) preparing dispatches, but always dreamt of exotic lands and travel. In 1950, he was sent to cover the Korean war (and his wanderlust yeas started). He had a reporting stint in China, then came to the US from Tokyo and settled for a brief time in San Francisco. He then joined the AFP office in New York, where he worked in the political section before taking up the Sports section which he kept for four years. It was during this time that he met and married Shirley. For AFP, he covered the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Rome and Tokyo. Then came 1963 and his claim to fame. He was the first French journalist sent to Dallas the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and, two days later, he was a eyewitness to Oswald’s killing in the basement of the local police headquarters by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. He was interviewed by other reporters and covered Ruby’s trial the following year which gained him mainstream fame and recognition. He told the papers: “Ruby was next to me and shoved me to go kill Oswald who was coming right in front of me (…) Oswald was the first to see his killer arrive, that’s why I always believed they knew each other.”

A few months after the assassination of President Kennedy, Francois and Shirley left New York for Vietnam and lived in Saïgon (present-day Ho Chi Minh City) where he was a war correspondent and Bureau Chief for AFP. Francois got the rep of a highly-objective reported and was well regarded by both fractions. Also in Vietnam, Francois met the fierce Italian female reported Oriana Fallaci and fell madly in love with her. Their relationship would last for more than ten years and span several continents, from Saigon to Rio-de-Janeiro, from New York to Madrid, and of course Tuscany and Florence (where Oriana was from). Francois himself said about Oriana:  “Oriana Fallaci arrived in my bureau in 1967. We covered many events together, she would become very important in my life.” He called her a real tornado and she dedicated at least one of her books to him. (NOTE: Fallaci is a incredibly interesting, scandalous and divisive personality. Learn more about her here and make your own conclusions, but as far as female journalists go, she was one of the best). I wonder how Shirley felt about all of this – Francois was her husband after all. I know that its terribly hard to live in such circumstances and that lust and passion often run rampart when you are at death’s door every day, and that such affairs are commonplace, but I could find no information on how Shirley lived, was she afraid for Francois every day? or was it a bit more relaxed than I imagine it?

After four very stormy years, Shirley and Francois were evacuated from Vietnam during the 1968 Têt Offensive, and he was transferred to Rio de Janeiro the same year. It was a time of great strife in Brazil, with constant political protests between Brazilian pro-democracy moderates and right-wing forces, governed by the brutal military regime and dictatorship. There was drama for Francois here too, and this is perhaps the most intense of all of his journalistic endeavors.

Francois was working on the story about kidnapping of the Swiss ambassador, while the Brazilian secret police have forbidden the press to speak about this affair, because it is the third kidnapping of ambassador by the guerrillas of Captain La Marca (Which were a thorn in their side for a long time). They contacted AFP to give conditions for the ambassador’s release. Taking a huge risk, François immediately published this information and informed the French Embassy, ​​knowing that he has just violated the orders of the Brazilian police. He was immediately arrested and held in a dirty, stinking cell in the attic of the prison, and to make it all worse, there was a intense heat wave. During a long and grueling interrogation, he lost consciousness twice but gave away nothing on his contacts with the guerrillas.

Meanwhile his office was searched. The police took his things, including two bottles of moon-dust that he got from US astronaut Pete Conrad. However, arresting Francois proved to be a costly mistake for the regime, as he was a well known journalist, pretty famous since the death of Oswald, and when his arrest made the headlines, there was violent public outrage, with the generous backing of the American press who don’t like what the military was doing. Francois was released, brought at 3 AM, under guard, to the Rio airport, pushed into an Air France plane and immediately exiled from Brazil. He spent the end of the year in Paris, happy and satisfied to be the instigator of the release of sixty guerrilla political prisoners in exchange for the Swiss ambassador.

In the 1971, the family returned briefly to New York City, then lived in Hong Kong, Paris and, ultimately Madrid in 1975. Francois becomes very close to future King Juan Carlos, and is the first reported who learns of Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s death.

After eight years of life in Madrid, the family left for Brussels where Francois covered European issues, but he got bored very quickly and decided to retire to his house in Marbella. Around this time, Shirley and Francois separated for good, he went on to live in in France (in an ancestral home built in the 1760s, located in the city of Conques) and she stayed in Madrid. Francois entered into a relationship with a Frenchwoman, Caroline, who remained his companion for the rest of his life. In a 2016 interview Francois claimed that he gave Shirley “his word” (whatever that means) so they never had to do all the official divorce stuff. Their son Christopher moved to the United States where he lives today. He served in the US Navy before retirement. Shirley spent the rest of her life in Spain.

Shirley Standlee Pelou died on December 10, 2018, in Madrid, Spain. She was cremated..

Francois Pelou died in France in 2019.

Marvelle Andre

Marvelle Andre was blonde, pert and cute, with great riding skills and enough charm to make a make a name for herself in Tinsel town, at least as a rider and stand-in. Unfortunately this did not propel her into more substantial acting roles, but she was a very active participant in Hollywood life for a time. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Alta Marvelle Anderson was born on May 12, 1919 in Kansas City, Kansas, to Harry Anderson and Hazel Hiatt. She was their only child. Her father was an auto mechanic who managed his own workshop.

The family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma when Marvelle was just a baby (in late 1919), then to Long Beach, California by 1930. Marvelle attended high school there and developed a strong interest in the performing arts. Being around horses and sharp shooting were her favorite hobbies – as a result she was a champion horse rider that took parts in rodeos and other horse shows. She was also a crack shot with a rifle.

By 1940 the family settled in Los Angeles. Marvelle started to act pretty early, int he early 1930s, which means she acted before she graduated from high school.

CAREER

Marvelle broke into movies when she was barely out of her years. Her first movie was Wine, Women and Song, a completely forgotten Lillyan Tashman musical, followed by Maniac. Now this is a movie worth mentioning. Probably a great deal many people enjoy in what we call quality trash cinema – movies that are so bad they are actually good. The Room is perhaps the most well known example, but there are ample such movies, if one just tries to find then. Maniac falls squarely into this category. Corny lines, stupid story, horrible overacting… You get the picture. But, it seen as an excursion into the absurd and ridiculous., it could actually give some pleasure to he viewer! Good to know that those movies were made with gusto even in the 1930s! This was followed by by the no-plot extravaganza, George White’s 1935 Scandals.

And here comes another ridiculous movie, Marihuana. Guess the theme of he movie! I guess Hollywood made much of these kinds of movies, Most people just don’t stumble upon them today (maybe that is for the best). Luckily, Marvelle’s next movie was a quality comedy, and  a Laurel and Hardy comedy at that – Our Relations.

Only two movies were listed for Marvelle in the 1940s – Gambling Daughters and She’s in the Army. Both are low budget comedies with a decidedly B class cast, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the actors were not good! When you have Sig Arno, Lyle Talbot and the likes, at least you know you can watch the movie solely for them.

1950s were a bit more prosperous for Marvelle (although not by that much, I grant you). She appeared in The Jackie Robinson Story, a unique movie as it was about baseball great Jackie Robinson and it is truly an important film. If you strip away the fact that it was a B class move that was not widely seen and doesn’t have that much of an production value, you till get a powerful, strong movie about all the injustices and prejudices Jackie Robinson had to fight on his way to baseball stardom. And Jackie, playing himself, despite not being an professional actor, is so charismatic and likable that he does his job admirably! And he legendary Ruby Dee plays his wife, wonderful!

The Admiral Was a Lady is actually a very weird movie, about four ex-GIs who work diligently at finding ways to avoid work. Yep, not something you see in every movie! Obviously a portion of viewers will be repelled by this dilettante attitude, but my interest was tickled! Even if you are not for it, The cast makes up for any “morally ambiguous” elements – Edmund O’Brien and Wanda Hendrix! Edmund always had that sharp, dark edge in his roles, and even here you can see it beneath the breeze veneer. And I love Wanda, perhaps not solely for her acting talent. And Rudy Vallee in a supporting role. Marvelle’s next movie, Kentucky Jubilee, was a dismal comedy with a thin story with Jerry Collona and his vaudeville skits as the center piece. Luckily, next movie in line, aptly called Hold That Line, is a dolis Bowery boys comedy.

Marvelle’s last movie was We’re Not Married!, a collage comedy about five couples who learn they were not legally wed and now must make a honest appraise of their current state of affairs (literary in some cases). While the story and the script is nothing to sneeze at, we have a wonderful cast full of Hollywood luminaries – Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Louis Calhern, Ginger Rogers, Paul Douglas, Eve Arden, among others), and superb costume and set design! This is one huge, puffy delicacy with no nutritional value, but oh so charming and lovable!

That is all from Marvelle!

PRIVATE LIFE

Marvelle got some publicity in Hollywood due to her status as a stand-in and her unique talents on horseback. This is a typical article to showcase her skills:

Marvelle Andre, a petite, 18-year-old miss whose main screen experience to date has been as a dancer. At the moment, she is stand-in for Evelyn Daw, who is playing the feminine lead opposite James Cagney in the Grand National musical, “Something to sing About,” being directed by Victor Schertzincer. Young Miss Andre has also served as stand-in for Constance Bennett, but her ambitions do not run along the line of the dramatic, singing or dancing ac tresses She wants to be a star of a type that has not been seen in years. She wants to play in westerns in which the leading character is a girl. With that end in view, she has become an accomplished trick roper an equestrienne and an expert snot with both pistol and rifle.

Here is another small quirk about being a stand-in, and it concerns hands!

The superstition of Barbara Stanwyck, Alexis Smith and other happily married young women on the Warner Brothers star roster has brought Marvelle Andre a more or less continuous job in pictures. Miss Andre, an extra and bit player subject to studio call, has appeared, in part, in more pictures than has either of the better-known stars mentioned. “In part,” in fact, because only her parts are photographed. Miss Stanwyck, Miss Smith and a number of other feminine stars do not like to remove their wed-‘ding rings, even for picture purposes. So, when they are supposed to write letters, or wring their hands or wash dishes, as Miss Stanwyck does in “Christmas in Connecticut,” it is Miss Andre’s hands which are photographed for closeup

Superstitious for sure, but did it work in the end? While Babs’ Sanwyck marriage to Bob Taylor crashed and burned in the end, Alexis Smith’s marriage to Craig Stevens was for keeps so we can conclude that Marvelle did a mighty fine thing, at least in that regard (although there are persistent rumors about the true state of that marriage too, but who knows?). Anyway, beside being an actress, Marvelle danced the hula at the Century club by night, and practiced rope-twirling whenever she cold by day. She seemed like a really energetic woman who knew what she wanted and worked hard for it.

Marvell was very active during WW2, doing more than her bi for the war effort, and even traveled to Alaska with Ingrid Bergman and others to entertain the troops. During these war bond travels, Marvelle often did her hula skit and she was known country wide for being a hula master. Except this, due to her horsewoman skills, she often took parts in parades and tournaments. For instance, one year she was a part of the Rose Tournament where she was riding Snowball, the thoroughbred Arabian steed trained by Mark Smith especially for her use in the parade.

As for her love life, nothing was written in the papers but I fond this – by 1944, Marvelle was married to Elmer H. Adams, Burbank police chief. I don’ know the exact timeline, but hey married after 1940 since Elmer was still married to Estelle McGuire that year. So Elmer divorced and married Marvelle sometime in the interim. So who is exactly this Elmer fellow? There is much written about him, but lets streamline it a bit.

Elmer was born on July 24, 1902 in  Broken Bow, Nebraska, to John Adams and Cora Williams, the third of four children. He was a very capable man, as he finished only eight grades of elementary school before going to work in Delight, Nebraska as a laborer. Later he moved to California and found work as a police officer there. On May 20, 1927, he married  Estelle L. McGuire. Their daughter Beverly was born in 1935. In 1932 he became the youngest ever police chief of Burbank. It seems that, like Marvelle, he was a crack shot and owned a number of rifles. Taken from Burbank PD web site:

The first true appointment of a Chief of Police occurred on August 15, 1927, when Malcolm G. Lowry took office.  Some would credit George Cole as the first Chief of Police, retroactive to his days as a Marshal and being in office when the department changed its name to the Burbank Police Department.   Two additional chiefs followed Lowry, until April 15, 1932, when Chief Elmer Adams was selected to head the department.  Chief Adams remained in office for nearly twenty years.  During his tenure, allegations of organized crime and connections to gangster Mickey Cohen made the newspapers.  There were additional stories of a mob hideout on Orange Grove Terrace, and illegal gambling halls that were hidden along the rancho area. In 1951, the California Crime Commission began an investigation into Chief Adams and others within the city.  Three days after the commission publicly announced the Chief’s refusal to answer questions about his income and relationship with underworld characters, Adams resigned, followed shortly thereafter by the city manager and a councilman.  Without a succession plan in place, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department loaned Hugh C. McDonald to oversee operations.  During McDonald’s term in 1952, the Animal Shelter was opened.

This is the kind version, on other places on the internet you can find information how Adams was a classical corrupt cop who paid two yachts and an expensive home with his “loot”, was well connected with mobsters and very well greased. Learn more about the whole story on Wes Clark’s web page (it is a truly incredible story about how people, when hey band together and have a common goal for the greater good, can do wonders). When I think 1940s police, I think film noir, and of course of both good and bad cops – it seems that Adams was perhaps one of the bad cops (maybe a greedy cop is an apt description).

Marvelle quit Hollywood for the time being, but was very active in local amateur theater groups. (she acted in My sister Eileen, for instance). As she was the wife of the local police commissioner (who possibly had his fingers in more than one dough), she had a good social standing and was a valued member of the community. In 1950, after five plus years of marriage and with a will to act in more serious fare than community theater, Marvelle returned to movies, and did a few uncredited minor roles. This lasted until 1952.

After Elmer’s dismissal from the police force, the couple moved to Cosa Mesa, where Elmer started to work for the Mesa Verde Country Club.The couple continued residing in Cosa Mesa and became parents of a daughter, Donna, was born on either on November 12, 1953 or November 19, 1955.

Elmer died from a heart attack On May 4, 1966. Marvelle continued living in California, and did not remarry.
Marvelle Anderson Adams died on June 1, 1990, in Los Angeles.

 

Gale Ronn

There is not much information about Gale Ronn on the internet, and not much will be said about her. So why did I choose to profile her? Because learning about Gale and her career will brings us closer to understanding what it meant to be a Hollywood extra during the golden years and it can perhaps answer the question how did he whole extra system function and could you actually live by working as an extra? Let’s learn more!

EARLY LIFE

Lillie Gale Randel was born on December 5, 1907, in Iola, Kansas, to Robert Elmer Randel and Nellie Clyde Capsey. Her older sister Violet was born on September 16, 1903, and her younger brother James was born on December 9, 1917. Her was father was a builder by trade. He was born at Corning, Kansas, moving to Manhattan; Kansas as a young man. Then he came to Allen, Kansas and worked in construction in the area.

The Randels were solid middle class, and Gale and her siblings grew up in the typical small-town America of yesteryear. Gale attended high school in Iola Kansas, and was often featured in the society section of the local newspaper. After graduation in 1924 she moved to Kansas City to become a fashion model.

Gale was successful enough as a Kansas city mannequin for a few years, but sound movies ushered a new era in movie making, and ton of young girls poured into Hollywood to make it and earn better wages. The lure of film also brought Gale out to Tinsel town in about 1932. Despite he fact hat she had no previous acting experience, she was successful at nabbing a contract right away. So started her career.

CAREER

Gale was a movie extra and based on the stuff I read about her, it seems she appeared in a whole lot more movies than the ones mentioned on her IMDB page. Sadly, this can actually be the case with most of the girls I profile here. But, let’s see what IMDB has to offer.

Gale’s first movie, in 1932, was Sinners in the Sun. It’s a mid of the road melodrama, with a tried and baked story, as one reviewer wrote on IMDB: “standard story of a couple poor people who think money is the answer and they have to learn that it isn’t more important than love”. However, there is an ample number of very good performers in it – Carole Lombard, Chester Morris, Cary Grant in an early and small role, Alison Skipworth, Adrienne Ames (such a beauty!).

Her second movie was Stand Up and Cheer!. Since this movie has a ton of extras, I think I reviewed it at least 3 times, so I’m not gonna write anything much more about it. Gale moved to the A class productions, and appeared in The Gilded Lily This is a typical 1930s romance movie with Claudette Colbert caught in a love triangle with Fred MacMurray and Ray MIlland (poor girl, she could do worse). It’s a nice and sweet movie, nothing deep but entertaining enough and the leads are charming as always.

Sadly, IMDB next lists Gale working on a movie that was not A class anymore – A Girl with Ideas. It’s another of the madcap heiress comedies made popular by It happened one night. The heiress in the movie is Wendy Barrie, and the newspaperman is Walter Pidgeon, not exactly Claudette and Clark but not too shabby. Anyway, the film is very funny, a “terrific rush of nonsense” as the reviewer wrote on IMDB, not a classic but immensely watchable and endearing. Gale was once again in the A class with You Can’t Take It with You, perhaps the best known movie of the lot. He plot is simple enough: A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family. This is one of those ultimate feel-good movies that make your week! And so many good actors – Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Ann Miller! Enjoy it!

Gale made three movies movies in he 1940s. The first was Beyond the Blue Horizon, one of the many Dottie Lamour in the jungle exotic films. What can I say, people loved Dottie in a sarong, somewhere on an tropical island, with a young, handsome and muscular man as a mate – that was pure and wonderful escapism. The movies roll, The stories changes ever so slightly, put the point stayed the same. The story here is that Dottie’s parents were killed in the jungle when she was a child, and she was raised, like Mowgli, by animals. Then comes a greedy capitalist who wants to abuse the jungle, and a handsome knight, scantly dressed, and ready to help our heroine and save the jungle (Richard Denning, not that well remembered today but what a hunk). There is a nice scenes with elephants and some good music, and it seems  a lot of folks remember watching this when it came out or just afterwards, with much nostalgia. That’s really nice!

Experiment Perilous is a lower quality version of Gaslight. It doesn’t have the solid performances of Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, but George Brent and Hedy Lamarr were adequate and the movie is agreeable enough. Gale’s last movie listed on IMDB is Repeat Performance, an uniquely insular movie. A beautiful actress kills her cheating, alcoholic husband on New Year’s Eve, but soon finds she’s getting the chance to relive the past year of her life all over again. The twist at the end is great, and the movie definitely goes outside the typical Hollywood cannon. Too bad it’s not an A class production, but good actors make up for it – Joan Leslie sheds her nice girl persona and is actually pretty good at it – Louis Hayward is his (wonderful) cynical self, and Richard Baseheart made his movie debut here! What’s not to like!

That’s i from Gale!

PRIVATE LIFE

Gale was a beautiful blonde with blue eyes who weighted 100 lbs in her Hollywood prime. The press wrote this about her beauty secrets;

Gale Ronn, a statuesque blond, who admits that one secret of beauty lies in her dressing room mirror. It is there that she spends many hours perfecting her coiffure, make-up and all details of her attire.

So, Gale emphasized taking your time to properly set yourself up – not a bad hint, and definitely one most people don’t comply, myself first!

Gale married her first husband, Phillip E. Flanagan (or Phillip Harlan) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in September 1924, just after she graduated. Harlan was born in 1901 – that is literary all I know about him. I cam assume that they lived together in Kansas City, but hey divorced prior to 1930.

No other information is available about Gale’s private life. However, the reason why Gale tickled my fancy is an article that was published in 1935 that very well illustrates how a successful movie extra lived and worked, both male and female. Gale was featured as the female extra, and actor Oliver Cross as the male extra. Here is the article:

 GALE RONN, who Is blonde, 29, and Kansas City bred, has been revealed as the woman extra who earned the most money during 1934. She averaged ?50 weekly. But talk about it? Not Gale, who fears the jealous taunts of her fellow extras. Oliver Cross is the male extra whose – – . earnings last year were more man any other extra’s, man or woman. He averaged $54 weekly, but he considers the disclosure no compliment to his ability. In fact, he took just the opposite view. Although he was financially the most successful extra, he considers himself a failure. “Why advertise failure?” he asks. TWO IN ONE DAY To meet a person in Hollywood who does not want to discuss his accomplishments is rare, but to find two in one day is extraordinary. But hear the stories of the woman and the man who are tops in the extra army: “Unless one is an extra, It is dim cult to understand why I will not talk about being, as you call it, the “Number one girl,” explained Gale Ronn when I discovered her on the “Paris in Spring” set. “Many of the people with whom I work daily already have shown their resentment toward me by ‘ribbing me, and I know that others have said unkind things behind my back.” Miss Ronn implied in her guarded remarks that only an extra could realize- how jealous other players can be of one of their number’s success. That she might “get into trouble” if it became too widely known that she had had more days’ work than any other woman extra, was clearly inferred. She said “people would write letters and everything” and these letters might influence the casting bureau to give her less work. CAN’T ACT, SHE SAYS “No, I don’t. want publicity and I don’t think it would do me any good to have my picture taken,” Gale went on. “I don’t want to be an actress because I’m pretty sure I can’t act. “I make a good living and I have lots of clothes. I make more money than a stenographer, whose ambition is to live well and wear nice clothes. Why should I want to try being an actress? No, I’m satisfied being an extra.” Miss Ronn has been an extra four and a half years. She came to Hollywood from the East several years ago and first earned her living as a clothing model. A FAILURE, HE SAYS Oliver Cross came here from Buffalo, N. Y. how long ago he wouldn’t say with the hope of becoming a star. “I’m not a star,” he told me when I found him working in “In Caliente.” “I’m nothing but a clothes horse a failure. Yes, I know I’m supposed to have made more than any other extra last year, but what of it? How do you suppose I got 195 days’ work last year? Because I know a director? Nothing like it. Because I’ve invested hundreds of dollars in my wardrobe.” Cross’ inference was that studios call him to work because they know he has the clothes to wear in any atmosphere. He is tall, dark-haired and handsome.

Viola! We know a bit more about movie extras now, and Gale seems a very realistic, grounded person who knew her limits well and had a plan on how to make a living. This is totally in sync with her meticulous approach to appearances. Anyway, it seems that Gale did not remarry, and continued living in California long after her career was over.

Gale Ronn died in ? (sorry, I could not find a date, but she is listed in the obituary section in Ancestry.com). As always, I hope she had a good life!