Georgette Windsor will never be remembered for her acting career, or indeed any of her career achievements. Why? In a nut shell, she was a stunningly pretty girl who used her looks to date prominent men and marry well. And I must say she she very good at this, much more successful than in her professional life.
Georgia Walters was born in 1924 to Earl Waters and his wife in Attica, Indiana. Her older sister Virginia was born in 1922. The family moved to Michigan not long after Georgia’s birth.
In 1930, Georgia was living in Benton Harbour with her father, sister, paternal grandparents, George and Ella, and two aunts, Josephine and Mildred.
Georgia lived in the two cities until 1942, when she departed for Chicago to attend Seaman’s modeling school. In her spare time, Georgia was a pencil artist and designer, and wanted to work in that field.
After officially “becoming” a model, Georgia moved to New York, changed her name to Georgette Windsor, and started a career as a designer. It did not pay the bills, so on the side, she started a highly successful career as a high fashion mannequin. A movie scout noticed her in the Harry Conover waiting room and took her to Hollywood.
Altought famous as a model in those circles, Georgette was nameless until 1946, when Hollywood beckoned the pretty girl. There were some dubious stories about Georgette that I would brand as pure publicity. She allegedly refused a Hollywood contract in favor of some modeling work, but she was living in Los Angeles in 1946 and dating her way up, meaning more that she could not be bothered with acting. The motion I get about Georgette is someone who tells the papers one thing, and deep inside means something diametrically opposite.
Georgette made only two movies, and this in itself is an achievement as there were tons of very nice looking models who come to Hollywood hoping to crash it and become stars, but in the end never even come in front of the camera.
Fittingly to her East coast allure and marriage into old school money, Georgette was cast in Luxury Liner, a simple but earnest MGM musical made purely for enjoyment, with no illusions of being a great art piece. Jane Powell, as usual, is energetic and charming, and George Brent handsome enough to make you forget how much of an wooden actor he really is.
Continuing her tres chic , Georgette second and last movie was Reign of Terror, a solid film French revolution film encrusted into a film noir mold. The combination of a historical event with a modern filming style is very intensive and well done by the director, Anthony Mann. And kudos to the fabulous cast headed by Richard Basehart and Robert Cummings.
Having married well and with no need for an external income, Georgette gave up Hollywood after this.
Welcome to Georgette’s bread and butter. Yes, to her huge merit, she was an independent girl who worked in New York at a time when most women were housewives, and she sis have a minuscule Hollywood career, but I see her more of a publicity magnet than a true working girl.
What irks me personally with her is that she claimed several time in the papers how her career is the most important thing to her, and everything takes a back seat to it. Yet, again and again she refuted this.
in 1946, when she came to Hollywood, she was one of the lucky few dated by Cary Grant for a short period. Johnny Meyer, the right hand of Howard Hughes and a well known womanizer took over from Cary. It was via Johnny that Georgette would meet a man who was to become very important for her life, Harry Cushing IV., the Vanderbilt heir from an ancient WASP family.
The official story goes that Johnny had a dinned date with Georgette, but was unable to keep with it. Knowing better than to cancel to a girl at the last moment, he send his old pal Harry in his place. Harry had already seen Georgette and liked what he saw, so it was a no brainer for him. The two hit it off right then and there, with Georgette breaching the story of how she wanted to have a proper career, marry and have children later in life.
Things progressed very quickly from there. By October 1946, they were a staple at the press columns. And then the games started. While it’s hard to say exactly what’s the truth and whats a lie, the official story goes that Georgette pined for a career, and refused Harry’s marriage proposals a few times. There was even a half hearted elopement to Las Vegas that was cancelled at the last minute. Again, I doubt all of this is true, but who knows?
It’s also worth to note that Georgette had a very good relationship with her sister Ruth, by then married to a Robert Ray and living back home in St. Joseph – she visited every so often. The St. Joseph press loved her, of course, as the local girl who made good in the wide world.
It’s no rarity to see a handsome WASP from the highest echelon of society dating a pretty model/actress/singer, but most of them are never serious about these gals and toss them aside when mama and poppa command it to marry somebody from their own class. Not so with Harry and Georgette. Whatever she did, she did it right – the indicator of just how serious Harry was about her is the instance of his obvious distress when she was ailing in June 1947. Predictably, they eloped just week after that in late June 1947. A bad omen happened before the ceremony – there was a slight problem with Harry’s trust fund and they had to wait for a little bit longer to wed. This would, in the future, cause some problems for the carefree couple.
Many doors opened to Georgette after her marriage to Cushing. Not only was she able to get an entry into the Social Register, but she entered the creme de la creme of East coast society. Georgette could now afford to be stylish. And living in style Georgette did. She wore sable suspenders for Pete’s sake! However, her desire to be an actress tore her husband off the pages of the social register and stopped her own inclusion in it.
The papers reported them tiffing as early as September 1947, claiming she was career minded and Harry just wanted her to become Mrs. Cushing. Now this is highly dubious. It’s not the first time that Georgette tried the “my career comes first” motto, but why did she than marry a idle millionaire heir? Didn’t she know what he would expect of her? If she truly wanted to be a career gal so much, I doubt she would have married Harry Cushing. I am very impressed by working women of those ages, but you have to be realistic when choosing your spouse and know that person well enough to at least try and understand what he wants from his wife.
Georgette went back to Hollywood briefly, returned to New York, walked out of Harry in public at least on one occasion, made up, and then they intended to take an ocean liner cruise to Europe. Marital problems stopped that plan – in October she was very vocal about wanting to divorce Harry. Harry tried to persuade her out of it – he gifted her with an extremely valuable family heirloom, an 85 carat emerald ring. It worked, and the two were back together by November 1947. Strange but true, Georgette only met her in-laws for the first time that December.
1948 started as a really rocky road for the couple. After so many tiffs most of the people lost count of it, Georgette signed divorce papers in April 1948 and asked 1,200$ in alimony per month. She only got 250$ as the judge claimed the marriage was too short to ask for anything more. There were further problems over the fact that Harry had a trust fund he could not touch (due to some restrictions his parents set up) as his main source of income, and Georgette could not get a chunky part of it no matter what. Both dated other people in the interim – she Bob Darrin, and he Lila Leeds.
Then Georgette collapsed from the nervous strain and Harry rushed to her rescue. She was in the hospital for a time, they rekindled their romance, and effectively reconciled in July. Cushing was madly in love with Georgette despite all the drama that always happened when they were together. he gave her a diamond pin for their anniversary and they honeymooned at the Waldorf Hotel. Yet, Georgette played it cool and sometimes dated “other” men, like Charles Feldman, to keep her husband in line.
October bough new problems for the couple. She again sued him for a divorce, he again pleaded poverty in his name, and she put her eyes on Peter Salm, the very wealthy son of Milicent Rogers. Cushing departed for Europe to get far way from Georgette and hopefully divorce her. Georgette followed him, but instead of trying to concentrate on the revival of their marriage, she dated the dashing Parisienne Claude Cartier of the jewelry family. She then moved to Rome, where Harry was, but dated an American cameraman instead of her husband.
As one can imagine, 1949 started badly (again) for the couple. The press was constantly at their throats about a divorce, and Harry took up with Arlene Dahl in February. All this while the two still tried for a permanent reconciliation – the columnists who pushed them for a divorce were keen in noticing how she goes out with Harry often. Despite these repeated tries at a marital bliss, Georgette did not stay idle – she played the field like a pro she was. Her newest swain was Howard Lee, a wealthy Houston oilman. Now, Howard will prove to be quite an interesting man as far as actresses go. Georgette was his first foray into the land of pretty Hollywood gals, and certainly not the last. They dated from mid 1949 until early 1950, and Georgette constantly tried to trick the press by claiming Howard was her good friend. Of course nobody bough that, and it’s not the first time she tried to twist the facts. Howard flew back and forth from Houston to date her, but no marriage plans were ever mentioned. His family or something else? Anyway, after the affair melted, Howard romanced both Hedy Lamarr and Gene Tierney, two of the most beautiful Hollywood actresses (IMHO, both more beautiful than Georgette). Sometime during 1949, she and Harry were finally divorced after a short, passionate but troubled marriage.
In true Hollywood fashion, she had escorts “on the side”, like the famous Hollywood director Anatole Litvak and Leon Shamroy, the notable cinematographer. Then, in early 1950, Georgette became interested in Manuel Reachi, a debonair, elegant Mexican gentleman from a good family, a permanent fixture in Hollywood high society circles, and former husband of actress Agnes Ayres. The story about Agnes and Manuel’s marriage is a sad one, as it ended bitterly, and Agnes had her daughter taken from her (before dying relatively young and broke). Georgette should have taken a cue from this, but unfortunately she wore blinkers when she was in love (with the greenery, I should assume.) They married in cca. may 1950. Cushing was crushed by her marriage, as he hoped they would end up together (again).
Reachi was born in 1900 in Madrid, making his much older than Georgette, but he was doubtless more mature than Cushing was. Their son was born in cca. July 1951. From now on things get complicated.
In November 1952, Georgette retained attorney Milton Golden to get her a divorce from Reachi. She wasted no time, and went directly to Rome during the divorce proceedings, in all probability knowing that her former husband Cushing was there vacationing to forget her. It worked – there were rumors the two would wed again. Cushing really seemed to adore her and gave her chance after chance (not that he himself was a saint, but Georgette was the more fickle of the two IMHO). Unfortunately, Reachi was not ready to give up so easily. He demanded full custody of their son, refusing to grant any visitation right to Georgette. She went to Mexico, tried to sort things out, but things did not go smoothly at all. She lost custody and was not to see her son again for almost six years. She and Cushing made the final cut during this time.
To continue living Georgette style, she went back to the US and the dating game. She made headlines by leaving her escort, Paul Ellis, on the curb after driving away with his car. Surprisingly, Ellis continued to date her. She then caused a hot mess by getting in between her former suitor, Howard Lee, and his then girlfriend, Hedy Lamarr. In 1954, there were even rumors she would wed another Mexican millionaire. She met her match by briefly dating Lance Fuller, an actor who also dated them all. She scored another rich suitor by wooing Jack Straus of the famous banking family, in 1955.
In 1956, she was seen with another richman, Daniel Sainte. About that time, she settled in Paris, not that far from her former husband who was living in Rome. She tried to go a legitimate business and opened a boutique for infants. In 1957, she finally saw her son after a long separation, but the boy still continued to live with his late father’s family in Mexico.
In 1958, she and actor Bruce Cabot were looking for backing to open a Paris cafe – by then she was infamous as the part of a colony US girls living it high on the Riviera. In 1960, she finally got back to the US, and got full custody of her son.
Georgette falls off the radar after 1960. I have no idea what happened to her and indeed if she is still alive.
PS: Happy Christmas to all! 🙂