The brunette stunner was born as Iris Knolis Bynum on April 28, 1921, in either San Antonio, Texas, or Brownwood, Texas, to Clyde and Rose Bynum. Her siblings were Oren, Ozella, Patricia and Arnold. In 1930, the family lived in San Antonio.
Her parents divorced sometime prior to 1940, and she went to live with her mother, brothers Oren and Arnold and sister Patricia in Area A, San Antonio, Justice Precinct 1, Bexar, Texas.
It’s hard exactly to trace her path to Hollywood, but the story goes that she won a Miss Texas title in 1941, and her mother refused to let her go to Atlantic City to compete in Miss America show. Luckily for her, she was noticed on a golf course in Texas by two golf enthusiasts with high connection in Tinsel Town – Bing Crosby an Bob Hope – and they proved to be just what the girl needed to stand her ground, and leave Texas for a career and life in Hollywood.
Iris landed in Hollywood in about mid 1942, and was put under contract with Howard Hughes not long after. Having a Howard Hughes contact was a kiss of death for most starlets. While some of them did manage to get sometime out of their careers (Jane Russell, Jane Greer) many of them (to be even more brutal, I mean most of them), did not (Mara Lane, Faith Domergue). Iris was such a girl. She made only two movies during her Hollywood time, as you can see on her imdb page. Hughes lauded her as the next Jane Russell, and allegedly had a big build up plan for her, but nothing belted. Who knows the real story behind that…Sadly, another possible talent wasted.
It was not her career that pushed Iris Bynum into newspapers, it was the company she kept. Iris had a very long relationship with Bill Morrow, who, as a writer for Bing Crosby, was undoubtedly part of Hollywood royalty. He was often in the newspapers due to his hectic love life. Morrow was quite a bit older than Iris, born in 1907. He was active in Hollywood from cca. 1940.
Morrow was one of the best paid radio commentators in the US, and himself kept quite a colorful stable of friends: in his autobiography, Bing Crosby mentions John Myers, Joe DiMaggio, Aly Khan, John Donovan and so on. Obviously, Morrow had some power in Hollywood as he curried favor with quite high ranking individuals, and he was an interesting and highly virile man.
Morrow and Iris dated, with some interruptions, from 1942 all the way up to 1948, and remained good friends even after the break up.
In fact, the first beau I found associated with her in he press was Morrow, back in early 1942. There was already a marriage announcement in November 1942, but Iris was also linked with Felix Young and Alan Gordon about that time. In 1943, she was mostly stuck with Morrow, in 1944 she got some rush from Mickey Rooney (between wives on doubt) but then I lost all traces of her until 1947, 4 years later.
Now the true fun starts. That year, she dated Tony Martin, (in his biography he mentions it was nothing serious), and Keenan Wynn (simultaneously – this HAPPENED A LOT in old Hollywood, they all dated people in parallel and only stopped when things got really serious with a certain paramour). Then, in mid 1947, she hooked up with he big fish – Clark Gable. If Iris Bynum is going to be remembered in Hollywood for something, it is probably this – she was, for quite a long time, the contender to become Mrs. Clark Gable Number 4.
Not to be bound solely to a man who obviously was not ready to commit easily, she also dated George Raft for several months, and John Payne, but most probably amicably as he was still carrying a torch for his former wife, Gloria deHaven.
To better illustrate her relationship with Clark Gable, I will put up some examples of the headlines they made together:
9 July 47 attends a show at Cirros with Clark Gable
Mar 7, 1948 .. last night wired that actor Clark Gable is going to elope today with Iris Bynum, Texas girl and “long-time“ Gable friend.
Apr 2, 1948 With Clark Gable away Iris Bynum has been playing around- places with George Raft .
Jul 5, 1948 Clark Gable lingering long and lingering with Iris Bynum.
Jul 9, 1948 Edith Gwyn attend s abash at Clifton Webb’s home.
We had fun exchanging lines with Eddie Goulding, the Ben Lyons, Sonja Henie there with Kjell Holm, Clark Gable with Iris Bynum, Connie
Moore, and so on…
Nov 17, 1948 Clark Gable with Iris Bynum sat half a mile away from Anita Colby.
Nov 19, 1948 Clark Gable and Iris Bynum have resumed.
Nov 29, 1948 Clark Gable perpared turkey at his valley home for Iris Bynum and her mother
Dec 3, 1948 The Clark gable-Iris Bynum annual romance retake is over. Clark is now beauing Ann Sothern. And Iris is back to the man who discovered her, Bill Morrow
Dec 12, 1948 Clark Gable’s recent Iris Bynum, now says “uh-uh when you ask her about Mr. Gable. Iris says she has given up her movie career (when did
she start?) and the is the hostess of a Ocean Beach Club
Dec 12, 1948 MISS IRIS BYNUM in conversation with Clark Gable, who recently was quoted as follows: “I’m not thinking of getting married again; I’m more interested in my career”
Dec 18, 1948 THE REPORT Those in the know are giggling over the “bill of goods” that Iris Bynum evidently sold some to columnists anent her supposed fight with Clark Gable. Clark dined with us (the article writer) next night. There’s been no fight. He merely left a party they were at rather early because he was tired, and Bynum was furious. That is all..
Dec 23, 1948 Clark Gable has dashed off to Arizona and Iris Bynum says she’ll never see him again. The row between the two was a dilly.
Dec 30, 1948 Iris Bynum, who last month was escorted everywhere by Clark Gable, is marrying Abner Rosenfeld. the steel cabinet king, in February.
Dec 30, 1948 Iris Bynum, who last month was escorted everywhere by lark Gable, was with Bruce Cabot.
22 January 49 will not accompany Clack Gable on a four months junket in Europe – she has found herself another swain
Obviously, this was not a peaches and cream, sweet romance. Both saw it as fair game, had fun and dated other people.
I am not a big fan of Clark Gable, thus I could be biased, but I see him as a complex, introverted, taciturn, moody man who was also fair, masculine and devoted. While some women highly appreciate his wild, untamed, dirty charm onscreen, he was no Rhett Butler off screen.
On the flip side, he did manage to catch several incredible women (his third wife, Carole Lombard, the beautiful Virginia Grey, Doris Lilly, Anita Colby… ), so there must have been something about him to set them all aflame.
Clark’s “perfect women” type is a strange mix. He preferred sophisticated, elegant, high class women, all the while being an outdoors man who liked hunting and shooting and accordingly expected his lady to follow suit. His seemingly paradoxical needs were hard to accommodate. Iris, who I assume was an independent Texan girl who knew what she wanted, actually seems a good choice for him. Alas, it was not meant to be.
I guess the lingered all the way up to early 1949. Interestingly, she was connected to two millionaire socialites – Abner Rosenfeld and Sterling Edwards. It even seems that she and Edwards were engaged and planned to marry in February 1949, but it did not happen. I could not find anything about her would-be bridegroom, as I only now he is a steel mill owner, but his name is too generic to come up with anything concrete.
Then, on her birthday, Iris married David Way Allerdice, who was a advertising executive and a soldier who formerly served in Korea. Skater Gretchen Merrill was he maid of honor. It was noted in the papers how she remained in cordial relations with Morrow even after the wedding – I was glad to hear about it, as it does show how passionate loves can turn into sincere friends.
Allerdice acted as a commander of the 179th training squadron during the marriage. They had three daughters, Anne Keasby (born on August 13, 1952), Simral and Cameron (born on October 9, 1955).
Sadly, David Allerdice died young, at age 44, in 1963.
Iris remarried for a second time to Arthur R. Morgan on June 5, 1965 in Westport, Fairfield, Connecticut.
Iris Bynum died in 2002 at age age of about 81.
Her daughter Annie has a Pinterest devoted to her mother. An interesting tidbit she wrote about her:
“Amazing woman from Texas, loved Yellow Roses, Martinis, playing Bridge. Killer at scrabble. Amazing cook. Elegant in design of her home, taste in clothes and cars she drove. Modeled for Don Loper in Beverly Hills when she was in her 20s and 30s. She was discovered on a golf course in Texas by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.”
While her acting career left almost no ripples on the murky seas of Hollywood, Iris Bynum used her time, had fun, dated many an interesting men, broke into Hollywood society, then married a normal guy, and had a happy family life. We wish more Hollywood stories ended like this…