Myrna Dell

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Myrna Dell is not that obscure today. While far from the league of all time legends like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, she was still a solid, working actress who played leading roles and changed several studios. It is her infectious sense of humor and inherent simplicity that first got me interested in her, and I think she deserves a post!

EARLY LIFE:

Marilyn Adele Dunlap was born on March 5, 1924, in Los Angeles, California, to Wayne Dunlap and Carol Price. Carol, born in Nevada, was from a showbiz family – her father (Myrna’s grandfather) performer for the Florenz Ziegfeld.

Her older sister Patricia was born in 1922. her younger brother Warren was born in 1926. Her parents divorced in 1928, and Carol remarried to the Italian born Donald Milan in 1929. In 1930, the family – Carol, her new husband Donald, and the Dunlap children, lived in Los Angeles along with a lodger.

Myrna attended grade and high school in Los Angeles, but chose showbiz as her career – the wish was only cemented after she was a marquee on Hollywood Boulevard, and dreamed her name was on it someday. She started her career as a Earl Carroll chorus girl, where she danced fro two years. In 1940, she was signed by MGM at the tender age of 16.

CAREER:

Myrna career can be divided into 3 stages: 1) The uncredited roster 2) The creidted roster and 3) TV shows.

For the first part of her career, lasting from 1941 up until roughly 1946, Myrna was a typical stalet that were a dime a dozen in Hollywood- nice looking, with a dancing background and no real schooling the dramatic arts. Yet, the list of movies she appeared in are wonderfuly diverse, and she was not consonantly cast in . Absolute highlights and of that period and movie sthat are famous even today are Up in Arms, an entertaining if slightly nutty Danny Kaye showcase, and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, a serious, hard hitting WW2 with top notch acting cast (Spencer TracyRobert Mitchum and Robert Walker among others.) There are some other very good movies that alas never made it to become classics: The Spiral Staircase , a surprisingly chilling mudrer case mystery, and Deadline at Dawn, a suspense tight noir.

Myrna finally broke the ice by appearing in several comedy shorts (featuring then popular comedians Leon Errol and Edgar Kennedy) that catapulted her into credited roles.

For the rest of her Hollywood career, until the mid 1950s, Myrna was firmly stuck in B movies, and often not even in the lead. Yet, her spirited, strong and compelling performances constantly got her rave reviews, as much as back then as they do now. She was,by all accounts,  the girl who never gave a bad role. Few of bigger budget movies she was in were The Girl from Jones Beach, and a solid western Lust for Gold.

One of her first credited performances was in Step by Step, a run of the mill anti Nazi propaganda that were made by tons in Hollywood during the war. While not a bad movie, it won no awards and gave to real recognition to any involved in it. Nocturne, a George Raft commodity, drew mixed reviews with the critics either whipping the floor with raft or praising him – but there is no doubt that Myrna shines in her role, and only starts to show her true potential (that sadly never reached it’s peak). Vacation in Reno, a comedy with a weak mumo-jumbo script The Falcon’s Adventure was just one of the many movies in the Falcon series. The Locket is one of the best movies Myrna has appeared in, but sadly she is very low billed in this one. A great study of consequences of childhood traumas with an outstanding cast, it stands the test of time and is still relevant today. Fighting Father Dunne is a story about a priest who raised three children on his own, was later to be remade as Boystown and earn the status of a classic.

Myrna was seen several times in B westerns: Guns of HateRose of the Yukon  The Gal Who Took the West. One of her few lead roles was opposite Johnny Weissmuller in another Tarzan pasticheThe Lost Tribe. On a low note, she appeared in a awfully bad and senseless movie, Radar Secret Service (No comment). The rest of her body of work consists mostly of B level crime movies with shades of film noir (Destination MurderNever Trust a GamblerThe Strip) and comedies (Here Come the MarinesReunion in Reno).  

In the last stage of her career, Myrna was exclusively a TV actress, appearing in episodic roles. Some of the series she graced with her presence are still considered classics today: The Donna Reed ShowMaverick and Dragnet to name a few.

Her last role was a minor one in Buddy Buddy from 1981.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Myrna was well known as a Myrna Loy lookalike in Hollywood, and indeed, the two share both a name and a similar visage. Myrna nabbed quite a few eligible bachelors the year she entered movies, 1940 – John Carroll, Buddy Rich (Tommy Dorsey’s drummer and also a well known ladies man), Rudee Vallee and Jackie Coogan.

Myrna had her first big role in the Great Ziegfeld, and was pushed into the publicity spotlight along with her fellow chorus girls. She and Virginia Curzon undertook a cross country junket for promotion purposes. The papers painted both girls as inexperienced young gals who never left California before – this was far from the truth, as Myrna was often in New York and Virginia was not even from California originally!

1941 bough Myrna more stable relationship instead of zigg zagging the dating field. The first beau was Edward Norris, who was linked to some pretty desirable ladies int he past (Ann Sheridan, Lona Andre, Margaret Lindsay), and that lasted for a few months. Then she took up with Dis Slate, a Pittsburgh impresario. Myrna traveled to the city often to visit him, but the broke up in June 1942.

To make a long story short, Myrna lost her contract, went to New York for work, and then returned to Los Angeles. There she dated an actor who helped her get a gig with the famous agent, Bob Brandeis. This led her to Walter Kane, and via him, Howard Hughes, who bought her contract. Myrna in all probability had some sort of a relationship with Hughes, but in the 1940s he was begging to show the signs of madness that would make him a recluse in his later years, and it’s hard to say what exactly did go on between them.

Myrna once again entered the Hollywood dating pool. She had several beaus – Jerry Adler, a young actor, was one of them. When her special favorite got married in July 1944, none other than the great George Raft confronted her. This started a romance lasting for almost a year, ending in June 1945.

Myrna got her own little passage in the local papers in 1945, in an article that reveals much about her personality and habits:

Miss Dell believes that a girl’s career and marriage do not mix successfully, at least not until a player has climbed a long way up the success ladder. If she ever had to make second choices in careers she would like to write a gossip column for a newspaper.

She’s not domestically inclined, doesn’t like housekeeping or cooking. To keep physically fit, she goes regularly to gym and never overeats. She likes to shop in New York rather than in Hollywood. She believes there is more variety in clothes in New York and that they are less expensive. MYrna plays golf and tennis, likes to watch ice hockey and horse races. She plays a good game of blackjack and gin rummy. She buys men’s shirts to wear with slacks and suits in preference to those designed for women.  As a child, she was a tomboy and played baseball and football wit boys’ team.

Myrna was a fun loving, active woman with a simple, healthy (and slightly tomboy-sh) living philosophy. Accordingly, she drew like minded men like honey draws the bees. A famous Hollywood honcho who liked his woman nice and proper but rough when you need it was Clark Gable. While Myrna lacked the fine, ladylike quality Gable’s former wives had (she was a sunny California beach blonde, not a New York debutante), they hooked up and dated for a time before he married Sylvia Ashley.

Then in late 1946, Myrna caught the big one, somebody whose name still elevates her status in Hollywood even today – James Stewart. Stewart was not the man who usually dated starlets, and, contrary to his usual good guy persona, was quite picky with his women and did not always treat them well (just ask Marlene Dietrich).

They started dating her during the production of “The Stratton Story“. After two months, rumors begin to appear that hey intend to marry, and the paper were abuzz with the possible dates and time for the nuptials. They broke up in 1948. Both were hush hush over the affair, and not much was known about it then. Only later, after Jimmy’s death, she confessed to a reporter that Stewart never talked about marriage, and that at one time he told her that he was still in love with his former flame, Margaret Sullavan, who was then married to theatrical producer Leland Hayward. She also said this of the relationship:

I wasn’t in love with him; looking back I know that now, but oh, I liked him, I really did! He was the most gentlemanly and courteous man I ever went out with – he was charmingly old fashioned that way. He could be quite the Lothario, was with me he was adorable, always.

As a simple, likable personality, Myrna made friends with many of the Hollywood personalities she acted opposite, most notably Gloria Grahame and Claude Jarman Jr.. The one man she disliked was Lon Chaney Jr., who had a major alcohol problem back then.

In 1949, after breaking up with James, she dated the still married but separated director Otto Preminger, but by the end of the year she became the number one girl in the life of Stanely Cramer, noted producer. The rhapsody lasted until April 1950,and she even persuaded him to give up cigar smoking. After Stanley she snagged none other than Ronald Reagan, then the president of the Actor’s Guild.

At some point in early 1951 she started dating John Gilligan Butchel who became her first husband on June 14, 1951. Butched was born on January 23, 1913 in Nebraska. Sadly, the marriage was a trainwreck from the start, and they divorced in 1952. Butchel wasted no time in remarrying, doing so in 1953 to Diana Ralsea Greene, and in 1961 toAlice Hooker. He died in 1992 in California.

1953 was reserved for John Lidnsay, a famous and wealthy architect, former husband of Diana Lynn. Lindsay would later marry June Lockhart. In 1954 her beaus were Don Taylor, the actor, and Jack Huber. In 1955, she was seen with Hugh O’Brien. Later that year, she started dating the man she would marry, Herbert W. Patterson, a western actor.

They were married in Fall 1956. Patterson was born in 1919 in Carbondale, Illinois. They had a daughter, Laura J. 

Myrna gave up Hollywood to become is a public relations director at the International Hotel near the LAX airport, and write her own column in the newspapers. She never regret it: she told a reporter later in life:

 After a time….a girl gets bored with the glamour, the atmosphere, the drinking, the cigarettes to smoke, the wolves.

Her daughter became a successful producer, producing, among other things, the reality show “Designing for the Sexes” and “House Hunters“. She even directed her mother in in a segment of Unsolved Mysteries TV show.

Herbert and Myrna lived in  12958 Valeyheart Drive, #4, Studio City, CA 91604 in their later years.

Herbert Patterson died in 2002. Myrna Dell Patterson died on February 11, 2011, in Studio City, California.

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Selene Walters

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Some girls were famous for the “all play and no work” life style. Selene Walters was one of them. She was in the papers all the time back in 1940s and 1950s, and for what reason? Was she a working actress? Not really. Was she a famous singer? Not really. Was she an alluring seductress? Oh yes, and how much so! She was connected to a long string of prominent and wealthy men, and is somebody who lived in the times when the jet set was at their peak – despite her obvious lack of professional success, one cannot help but wonder how many interesting stories she has to tell.

EARLY YEARS:

Elizabeth Florence Walker was born in February 21, 1924, in Dexter, Missouri, to Francis M. Walters and Florence Norris. She had one brother, 10 years older than her. Selene came from a good family. Her father was a lawyer (graduate of the University of Missouri) and a politician. Her uncle James Francis Walker, was a U.S. Congressman representing southeast Missouri, and her grandfather Benjamin Walker was a state senator and successful businessman in Dexter, MO.

Selene was a very talented youngster, having studied piano, dance and theater as a child. She won numerous local pageants, and was very popular. At some point during her young years, her parents split and she remained with her mother, a single parent. After leaving high school, she started college in Missouri, studying writing and journalism. She also became proficient in secretarial skills, including shorthand and typing, which served her well at different points in her life. While in college she visited her brother who was working in Washington D.C. during wartime, and was encouraged to try modeling by her sister-in-law, who was a model, and became quite successful at it. She was then encouraged to go to New York to model, and was signed by the top agency, John Robert Powers. Not too long after, she was approached to go to Hollywood and sign with Paramount Studios. Her mother, Florence, joined her in Hollywood.

CAREER:

Selene had a very thin, almost non existent career. She was signed by Paramount in about 1944, and later was freelancing, but it took her years to actually make a movie – it was finally made in 1952, and called Lady in the Iron Mask . The film is so obscure there in no information about it even on imdb!

She had several more uncredited roles in Hollywood movies. While some of them actually boast major stars (Beau James  had Bob Hope, and The FBI Story  had James Stewart), neither film is a staple on their star’s filmography, and she played minor, “blink and you’ll miss me”, parts.
She guest starred in two TV shows (The Abbott and Costello Show and The Texan), and this, along with the Three Stooges movie, Senior Prom , is the pinnacle of her career.

Her last movie was Jet Over the Atlantic in 1959.  

PRIVATE LIFE:

When Betty came to Hollywood in early 1944, she tagged along her ardent admirer, Count Cassio Pardo, a Brasilian nobleman whose family got rich through coffee trade. They got engaged in August 1944, and were wed by the end of the year. Easy come, easy go, and the marriage quickly disintegrated, and by March 1945 they were living apart. They divorced in July 1945.

Selene wasted no time in getting herself a new beau – and, ironic or not, he was Prado’s personal physician, the eminent Dr. Alfred Huenergardt. They  were wed on February 10, 1946. The couple honeymooned in Cuba. Huenergardt was born in 1905, making him almost 20 years Selene’s senior – he was also a staple on the Hollywood social circuit, and once dated actress Helen Wood.

Ina  case of history repeating itself, the couple tiffed and separated in July 1946, and he sued her for a divorce in August 1946, claiming she was still married to Pardo when he wed her.

Selene dated Brad Dresser,  but was constantly in a weird, dysfunctional relationship with Alfred. He was even told by the court to stop molesting her in May 1947. By August they were semi reconciled and dropped the divorce suits. They idyll was to last only so long – Selene was seen with her former husband, Pardo, and a short while later signed the divorce papers (again). Even the fact that she was now pregnant with Alfred’s child did not deter her from going all the way this time. They divorce was made final in August 1948. Their daughter Scarlett Norris Huenergardt was born on September 8, 1948.

Motherhood did not seem to change Selene that much. By October she was back on the dating stage, snagging Horace SchmidlappGene Bohr and Belmond Kellerman, a socialite.

SeleneWalters3In January 1949, she was dating Charlie Morrison just as her former husband, Pardo, was romancing Elaine White of the MGM legal department. Every bachelorette in Hollywood at some point dated Turhan Bey, and Selene was no exception – she was on his arm in Late January. When you start with one lothario, they come flying, and Marquis of Milford Heaven, who romanced almost all the pretty actresses in Britain, tried to do so in the US. Of course Selene was one of the many girls he dated.

In mid March 1949 Selene brok her arm in a accident, but guess what, that did not spot her from an active nightclub life. She was especially funny when paired with Bill Hollinghworth, a wealthy socialite and future husband of Sara Shane, who broke his leg and walked around with a cast, nicely paired with her sling.

This whole time, under her careless playgirl facade, serious trouble brewed for Betty. She and Alfred were constantly at odds over their infant daughter. They went to court over the child in April 1949,

Selene settled in New York with her daughter and actress June Maley, was courted by a wealthy Canadian fellow, Frank Clark, and was partially homesick for California. Yet, the big adventure just started – she departed for Europe in August.

Next time we encounter her, and had traveled half the globe, passing through Europe in  flurry and was now in Teheran, Iran. And guess who was her host? Non other than the Shah of Persia, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Much like Turhan Bey, Milford Haven and Aly Khan, he was a lover of beautiful women and en expert charmer. This news bought a tons of publicity to Selene, many of it not at all kind. I was surprised at how vindictive the press was, and how petty the things they wrote were. Somebody even said she was an FBI agent to try and push Shah out of her way, which was in all probability not true (between her nightclub escapades and her “nice” Hollywood career, there’s little chance she was Hoover’s secretary!).  She returned to the States in late November, the Shah came not long after, and they probably enjoyed a prolonged sojourn in Sun Valley, skiing.

Alas, as most royal affairs go, Shah returned to Persia and Selene stayed in New York. She was not lonely by any account – Maurice Berkson, a  noted real estate tycoon, was her constant escort.  Then it was back in court again for the custody of Scarlett, pinned against her former husband. To add to her distress, her home was looted for an estimated 7000$ worth of jewelry. Yet, all the bad things were forgotten when Selene won the custody battle in January 1950.

Selene planed to visit the Shah in his native land, but that obviously did not belt out, and the press never neglected to mention her big rival for the Shah’s heart – Grace Kelly, then an unknown actress whom the Shah courted during his time in New York. She shot back by being seen with Lawrence Tierney. Tierney was quickly showed aside for Charles Heinz, of the Heinz clan, who was rumored to her fiancee in July 1950.

 After shuffling from New York to Los Angeles frequently for her career (I ask again, WHAT career?), Selene admitted that her movie offers were dried up and that she wants to formally settle in New York again. Things got even rougher for Selene before the year was out. Her former husband was at her throat constantly, even putting her acting ability in question, her career went downhill, and she allegedly even had to take a second job looking after children to pay the bills (I am very skeptical about).  To add insult to injury,  in October the Shah announced he was getting married to another woman.   Then Alfred struck again, sued for custody, and accused Selene of being a gold digger who is teaching their daughter to follow suit. Selene was obviously distressed over this when she testified in court how those are only vicious rumors. She admitted at painting Scarlett’s nails bright red at one time, but denied that she taught her daughter to date men only for money. The battle continued, and not in a nice way.

Selene WaltersThings got a little less hectic in 1951. She got a job at the Ben Blue TV show,  and started dating the dashing German actor, Helmut Dantine, and later dated Bill Buckley. She took a vacation in Rio De Jainero.

But 1952 was very active. She started the year by dating Claude Terrail. In April 1952, after months of pushing forward and backwards the custody issue, Scarlett was given a green light to go and rejoin her mother in New York. June was reserved for George Jessel, who went through girls like paper tissues. August brought Jose Centro, a wealthy South American coffee man, into her life. In September she was rumored to be engaged to Mildred Walters (yes, that’s a guy’s name), whose father was the president of a food corporation. Those nuptials never took place. Next in line after Mildred was Bob Peters. One of her ardent admirers gifted her with a diamond ring in November 1952, but it as never disclosed who or why it was given to her. In December 1952 the press indicated she was the next to get hitched with the freshly divorced Bill Treadwell. Their affair lasted until mid 1953, and Bill seems like a man who got very close to permanently merging with Selene. .

Selene traveled to Europe in 1953, and was romanced by the very troubled Gary Cooper in Paris. Gary was not her only Parisian admirer – she was also seen with Prince Peter of Yugoslavia. Back home in August New York she was seeing Bob Calhoun, former husband of Ginny Simms, and B.B. Robinson. There were even news that she and Dr. Alfred reconciled and were about to be wed again. Luckily that did not happen! In April 1954 she was on with John Hodiak.

In August 1954, Selene went toe to toe with another international femme fatale, Zsa Zsa GAbor. How? Well, Zsa Zsa’s beloved scoundrel, Porfirio Rubirosa, a charmer like no other, tried to “promote” Selene, and hot a full bowl on soup on his head, courtesy of Zsa Zsa. The two (Selene and Zsa Zsa) hardy had a cordial relationship afterwards.

1954 was a good year for Selene, especially the later half. Not only was she at the peak of her beauty, but men flocked to see her. She scored not less than an Indian Maharaja of Baroda and Liberace at that time (the fact that he was a homosexual was kept hush hush then, and he was considered quite a catch for the ladies). Of course, all of this was shallow and none came even close to going steady with her. The first man who broke the steady barrier became Ed Bobbyshell Jr., a East Coast socialite who started dating her in late 1954, and managed to hold her until mid 1955. He must have done something right! Anyway, despite them being serious, Selene had beaus on the side, most notably Jack Denny.

After she and Bobbyshell broke up, Selene went on an extreme dating spree, dating in very short succession Sinclair Robertson, I. Hoderson and Pete Howard and Mike Silverman, all prominent members of the social set.  Then came  a radical change of heart – Selene decided to join Johnny Grant’s troupe that entertained the soldiers in Korea. From a playgirl to a patriot in just one step, and by Janauary Selene 1956 was indeed in Korea. The experience seemed to slightly change her. During the junket she met Cantflinas, the Spanish comedian, and the two had a brief affair that went nowhere due to the distance. Wanting to feel useful, Selene enrolled into school for TV directing, getting up every day at 7 AM. She graduated after three months in July.

In August there were some very solid rumors about her impending marriage to Philadelphia socialite Thomas Woods, but instead she choose to return to Hollywood to try at a second career. She dated insurance broker Laurence Winkler and did the town with Eleanor Parker, an old friend.  She and Wood were still “kind of” engaged and went out frequently. Yet, the old ways were too strong – Selene dated Edmund Purdom in parallel, and when she visited Mexico in April 1957, she dated Miguel Alleman. Wood obliviously had enough of that and the two were kaput by May 1957. She returned once again to New York, became the favorite of powerful oilman Warren Alpert and enjoyed a brief courtship with Seoul’s Mayor Kim when he came to visit the US.

Then, in her typical fashion, she again became career minded and enrolled into the prestigious Actor’s Studio. She did some theater work, but did not slow down her nightlife, as she took up Alfred De Vega, an immensely wealthy Spaniard. Afterwards she departed for Mexico – but not only as a vacation spot, but the place where she was to meet and romance George Sanders. It continued for some months, but they were bi coastal, she in New York and he in Los Angeles, making it a tangled mess that was bound to snap. When it did snap finally, well known charmer Dick Krakauer took over from George. She was also at hand to give George Guinle, a wealthy, roving Brazilian, a goodbye kiss before his departure for Paris.

Her hectic love life catching up with her, she was persuaded by friends to take it more easy, and to some degree she did. Contrary to her habitual fashion of having at leats one court suit at any given time, she dropped a suit against a Broadway producer she accused to being a Peeping Tom, signed a business deal, and changed the color of her hair.

It was  only months later that a new beau, bullfighter Antonio del Oliver, emerged. The romance moved at a nice and slow pace, and Selene went to Mexico every chance she got to be close to her beloved. Yet, several things slowed her down. First, whiel she was dancing in a Mexico night club with Antonio, her golden lighter was stolen along with 300$ from her purse. Second, she suffered a serious injury on a movie set, and had to have 11 stitches in her leg. Then, on April 2, 1959, while she was at the home of socialite Nina Anderton, a gang of robbers broke in, tied the people present to chairs, and looted them out of their jewelry. The court case was dragged for months before Selene gave up and left for Europe in July 1959. On the bright side, she worked steadily during the whole ordeal. Problems arose when she wanted to take her daughter Scarlett with her, but was unable due to the custody agreement. By September she was again in court with her former husband,  and again she won, and took Scarlett with her to Europe for six months. She tried to enroll the girl into a private school in Switzerland.

In Paris she made the rounds with a California multi millionaire who was allegedy to become her next husband. As per usual, nothing happened. She was back in the States by March 1960, and dated another lothario, Vic Orsatti. Quite expectedly, that didn’t last long. When Selene won’t come to Paris, Paris will come to Selene – a moneyed Parisian, Francois de Salles, pursued her in New York in August 1960. She was back to dating actors when she briefly romanced Christopher Plummer in December 1960. She ended the year by getting around town with the Persian prince, Sadri Khan.

1961 bough more legal troubled for Selene as she was again locked in a custody dispute over her daughter with Alfred. Much drama was involved when she executed a foolish and risky coup. She flew the route from California to New York and hid the child in Long Island. It all got sorted out in the end, but the problems between Alfred and Selene were not meant to stop there. A bright spot of the year was Pete Arnell, TV producer, her newest escort.

1962 was a bit better for her. She dated Randolph Creel Jr., a dashing, handsome New York socialite, and went to Europe at some points, dating Jon Terail, brother of famous restaurant owner Claude Terrail. Just when you tough things were looking up, it all crashed down, big time. 1963 was absolutely the worst year for Selene. A huge blow happened when, during yet another custody battle with Dr. Alfred over their daughter Scarlett, the girl self willingly expressed the desire to live not with Selene but with Alfred. This effectively deemed Selene the losing subject of the court case. Scarlett from then on stayed with Alfred in California, and Selene was in New York. Another blow came when her father, Francis Walters, died in April 1963. Selene inherited quite a lot of land from him, but it did little to lift her dampened spirit. Sammy Colt, son of Ethel Barrymore, cheered up the later part of the year.

Selene took it more easy after all of this. She quietly dated a pianist, Don Drum, in March 1964. Later that year he started a passionate, long romance with John Jacob “Jack” Astor. It lasted, on/off, until 1970. For one reason or another, the two never wed, and I assume it was Astor who did not want to take the big step. She relented by dating, for a time, first Pierre La Mure, author of Moulin Rouge, then Alexis de Moira, a Spanish prince, during her Parisian sojourn in 1965, and later her old beau, Ed Bobbyshell. In November 1965 she pursued the same man wanted by Washington hostess Gwen Carter – toy manufacturer Chas Merzbach. In 1966, she dated a much younger Yale student, member of a powerful Hollywood family.

Selene finally married for the third time to Franklin J. Lamm in June 1975. Lamm was born in 1914, making his 10 years Selene’s senior. They commuted between New York and Los Angeles for most of the 1970s and 1980s, and were active socialites on both coasts. In the 1990s, the couple permanently moved to Beverly Hills.

Selene had her five minuted of fame completely unexpectedly in 1991:

In April 1991, major newspapers carried the report that actress Selene Walters claimed that, in 1952, Reagan, when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild, had raped her in her home. The charge was initially publicized in Kitty Kelley’s unauthorized biography of Nancy Reagan and then repeated in a People magazine interview with Walters. “I opened the door,” Walters told the magazine. “Then it was the battle of the couch. I was fighting him. I didn’t want him to make love to me. He’s a very big man, and he just had his way.” According to Kelley, Walters shared contemporaneous accounts of the encounter with friends. No physical evidence has been produced to support the allegation. No legal action, civil or criminal, was taken against Reagan based on the allegation.

Selene’s husband, Franklin Lamm, died on February 9, 2007.  She was quizzed in 2012 over her romance with the Shah of Iran.  here is an article, taken from Pardess Rimonim blog, about the event: 

On Tuesday night, January the 29th, 2013, Jewpers of IAJF, Los Angeles, was host to the 89-year young Ms. Selene Walters, born Elizabeth Florence Walker, a former American model and actress, who, as we were told, had once been in a romantic relationship with the young Shah of Iran.

The program began with a succinct audio-visual introduction to the life and times of the Shah, presented by Ms. Deborah Zakariaei, the organizer and host of the event. Thereafter, Ms. Walters spoke of her childhood and education, her life as a beautiful model and rising actress, her times as a young divorcee mother among the famous names in Hollywood and New York, and of course, how she had met the Shah. An eloquent speaker, an absorbing story-teller, with a reassuring, trustworthy and attractive tone, she recounted with youthful energy the lively story of how through a hint from Aristotle Onassis, the billionaire, she made it on time to Nice and Riviera, in Southern France, and soon enough ended up dancing with a recently divorced Shah. A short while later, she was cordially invited to visit the royal palace, in Tehran.

Ms. Walters remembered the Shah as a kind and polite gentleman, modest in demeanor, who communicated most courteously with her with his developing English skills. She recalled both the interiors of the palace, the Peacock Throne, as well as the pistol Shah carried with him in their tours of Tehran, something he felt necessary, having survived a recent assassination attempt. Once, she even let the Shah, a self-described skilled shooter, to aim a rifle at an apple placed on her head, and splatter it into “thousand of pieces”. And yet, as soon as the rumors of the romance began to leak into Tehran tabloids through Hollywood press, the Shah quickly asked her to leave back for America, for the Iranian public was not yet ready to absorb an affair between their king and a foreign actress.

Ms. Walters’ memory was impressively precise, even as she was clearly trying “to get her facts straight,” as she put it. Her answers to the questions presented to her by the audience were equally candid and devoid of any exaggeration.

This author, for one, had the clear feeling of having been offered an intimate chunk of history, both that of the earlier decades of Hollywood, as well as the private side of the Royal family. The program justly ended by celebrating the birthday of this most kind and vibrant lady.

Selene is still alive today.

Alice Eyland

AliceEyland2

Another model who wanted to make it as an actress, Alice Eyland fared as most of them did – too much publicity and not enough roles. Today she is better known as somebody who scored a Life magazine cover than an actress.

EARLY LIFE:

Alice Eyland was born on December 3, 1917 in Springfield, Masschusets. The family moved to New York when she was in her early teens.

She attended the prestigious private school, Washington Irving School, in New York  City. She studied arts and dramatics before embarking on a career as an advertising model. She signed with the John Powers agency and did various modeling assignments, including a minor one for Camel cigarettes.

Alice scored it big when he became the Chesterfield girl in 1938. When your face beckons men all around America to change their brand of cigarettes, you easily get spotted by Hollywood, and just six months later Alice was on her way to Tinsel Town to sign a contract with MGM.

CAREER:

Alice signed a contract with MGM, and was supposed to appear in Ninotcha and play opposite MGM’s biggest box office draw, Greta Garbo, a great honor for any new comer. For one reason or another, this did not happen – too bad, as this firts class movie could have been the things Alice needed to climb the stairs to success.

Alice lost her MGM contract after just six months, left Hollywood, returned, and signed with Universal International in 1940. They changed her name to Jean Carol. A new studio and a new name ultimately did her no favors – she, again, made no movies, and was dropped, again, after six months.

AliceEyland2Alice came to Hollywood for the third time in 1943, and finally got her share of the cake – signing with MGM and joining their standard musical roster. Two Girls and a Sailor (two girls being June Allyson and Gloria DeHaven and the sailor being Van Johnson) is a light musical with a paper thin story – does that sound familiar? One of the tons of saccharine musicals made by MGM in the 1940s, anyone looking for great music, high productions values, easy-on-the-eyes actors (basically a non complex film that does not tax the brain too much) should look that way.

Meet the People, a WW2 propaganda musical, was not the usual fare one encounters at MGM, the studio that made lavish musicals like clockwork – shot in back and white and without the usual stars, it instead had Lucille Ball and Dick Powell. Either of the leads are young and fresh as the ones in Alice’s previous movie – Powell looks especially drained, like he was forced to play the role – but the movie manages to do it’s homework and end up as a decent piece of movie work.

Bathing Beauty was one of Esther William’s swimming movies. While they took the breath away from viewers with the meticulously made sets, handsome “chorus girls” and Esther’s daredevil stunts, the plots were moronic and nobody really acts in them.   

George White’s Scandals, RKO‘s nod to the musicals of the 1930s, is one of the few comedic musicals made. While MGM always had a comedian in the cast to animate things they were, in a nutshell, love stories with handsome youths playing the leads. Not so with this movie. The leads are played by not-so-good-looking-or-young funnymen and funnywomen, whose charm and great comic timing carry the movie. Joan Davis and Jack Haley take the mantle here, but even they can’t save the movie from a tepid story and low quality music.

That was all Frances gave to Hollywood, and, indeed, all it gave to her.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Alice was godsend to the Hollywood press when she first came to California in 1938. She was beautiful, she was a famous model and she was well liked by the boys. Her photos were flaunted around newspapers with an impressive frequency. Yet, the same press that glorified her could sometimes be just as mean. A columnist taunted her how busy she was, she had no time to learn how to drive her new car. Considering Alice made no movies, you see what he’s aiming at. They also made derogatory remarks about what a novelty she was when she tried for a career in Hollywood for the second time in 1941, despite the fact that she had been in Hollywood two years prior for more than a year (and I repeat again, made no movies).

AliceEyland3Alice truly became the part of Hollywood lore during a seemingly casual night out with one of her many beaus, Romanian born director/lothario Jean Negulesco in 1940. The main actors of the show: Paulette Goddard and Anatole Litvak.

Taken from this fabulous site:

The same year they met, 1940, Paulette and Litvak caused a scandal in the Hollywood restaurant and nightclub Ciro’s. There are several accounts as to what may have happened including one alleging that upon losing one of her earrings, Paulette met Litvak under the table where they remained for a long time and began making rather convincing groans.  In a puritanical America, the tabloid press ran wild with the story distorting and embellishing into a sensational tale. Many complaints by the families of American soldiers were sent to the Department of State in Washington, D.C., which took the matter seriously, summoning witnesses such as the director Jean Negulesco. Anatole Litvak had a nervous breakdown.  Paulette, however, was able to hush-up the affair by asking one her friends, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union,William A. Harriman to intervene

As I already noted, Alice was with Jean Negulesco that fateful night. The stores she could tell about it afterwards! This scandal has been seriously blow out of proportions (IMHO), but it served to cement Goddard as the sex goddess of Tinsel Town.

Alice married noted commercial photographer, Arthur O’Neill, in the early 1940s. She was his fifth wife – two of his previous four wives were top notch New York models: Frances Donelon and Betty Wyman. O’Neill took photos of hundreds of models, and knew a beauty when he saw one – even back in 1938, before their marriage, he spoke highly of Alice and her face and figure to the press.

Alice EylandO’Neill and Alice divorced in 1948, and right away she married another lensman, Maurice Dallett. Dallett was an expert in sepia portraits, and, among others, photographed members of the famous American school of art, New Hope School.

Alice falls off the radar from then on, and I have no idea what happened to her. She could have divorces Dallett, or perhaps she was widowed.  In all probability she moved to California at some point.

There is an Alice E. Dallett who died on August 26, 2004, in San Francisco, California. All her vitals match Alice’s – name, surname, she was born in 1917 and her social number was made in New York.

Judith Arlen

NOTE: This is almost an “ad verbatim” transcript from a previous blog I am no longer running, so it’s not very original, but as Judith Arlen completely fits into the Obscure Actress niche, I’ll post it here again.

judith-arlen

Judith Arlen was a complete enigma to me when I first started to write the piece. Except her status as the sister of the better known Ann Rutherford, there is nothing else I knew about her. Was she married? How was her career? Not a clue. Yet, the information on her is very very much scarce, and I barely know much more now, after some research. For instance, there are very few photos of her on the net.

sc7a98scl2cflcc9Laurette Elizabeth Rutherford was born on March 18, 1914, in Los Angeles, California. Her father, John D. Rutherford was a operatic singer, and according to and the book WAMPAS Baby Stars, the biographical Dictionary, his professional name was Gilbertini. Her mother, Lucille Mansfield, was a silent actress, working for the Lubin studio. They moved to Vancouver, Canada, where their second child, daughter Therese Ann, was born in 1917. Not long after, they moved to San Francisco, where the couple separated, and Lucille returned to Los Angeles with her daughters. Judith was acting in stock since she was a girl, often next to her mother. She attended the same high school as her sister, the Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, where she graduated in 1932.

Even during her high school years, Laurette was active in showbiz, and she appeared in the papers for the first time in 1930. Walter Winchell noted her as a chorine in an unnamed Broadway show, and paid her a hefty compliment, saying she “is soothing and throaty in a manner that bodes good for her career.” The next time he see her, she is a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1934, when is 20 years old.

The bio we get about her is curt and not extremely interesting. She is noted as a native of Los Angeles who is a dancer, singer and actress, that she has some screen credit in movies by Paramount and Universal (not quote true but okay, she did have some uncredited performances), and that she frequently work on radio. by that time she had two “uncredits”, in Madam Satan, a Cecil DeMille classic, and What Price Innocence?, a Jean Parker movie.

fmsuwm0aids8wu0fJudith got the most attention at this time by far. As a WAMPAS, she was lauded in the press, and the girl were invited everywhere on social functions. They were, for example, Honorary Colonels of the American Region and so on. When she was once out of town, Ann, her younger sister, was doing some radio work, and answered the phone when Student Tour called Judith. She explained that Judith was not there, and that she was Joanne Arlen, her sister, and asked could she fill in? This is how Ann’s career started.

Sadly the WAMPAS momentum did not hold on. When looking at her filmography, it is clear there was an impulse in about 1934 – she was in Young and Beautiful, Kiss and Make-Up, No Greater Glory, but neither role was credited, giving her nothing to push her into bigger and better pictures (there were all B movies). There are no more pictures after that year, making her a Hollywood “has-been” at the age of 20.

After the offers dries up, she went to San Francisco for some radio work, and by 1938 she was back in Los Angeles, ready to try her hand at movies once again, living with her mother, sister and maternal grandmother on the 6th street. Due to her younger sister’s popularity, she began using the name of Judith Rutherford. Sadly, it did not belt out – her only credit under the new name was a minor role in The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show in 1954.  

i1a2jblhziw82ab8Where Judith did shine was her singing career. From 1934 all the way up to 1945, she was in the newspaper solely for this segment of her work. Known as “femme Bing Crosby”, She was a constant fixture on the nightclub circuit, on radio programs and sang with big bands. Since I know next to nothing about old American radio, I’ll not go into details, but there are both books and newspaper articles going into depths about that.

As far as her private life goes, there were no newspaper articles about her dating habits – so it is unknown whom she hooked up during her WAMPAS years. She did marry, on February 20, 1943 in Los Angeles, to movie executive/producer Abraham L. Simon, a New York native whose father and mother were born in Hungary and Poland respectively. Note that I am not 100% sure, but a David Anthony Simon, born on December 6, 1949, could be their son. The marriage lasted until Judith’s death.

Judith Arlen died on June 5, 1968, at age 54 in Los Angeles, California. Her widower, Abe Simon, died in 2000.

Alice Adair

Alice Adair4

Alice Adair was a glorified dress extra, the girl who worked in Hollywood and even made some money out of it but never managed to get to the credited tier –  sadly, she was just one of many, many girls with the same situation.

EARLY LIFE:

Berenice Shook was born on November 8, 1906 in Davis, Oklahoma, to George Shook and Martha Evelyn “Mattie” Williams. Her older brother Raymond was born in 1903. She also had two older sisters, Jennie May and Juanita, who both died aged one before she was born. Her parents were both born in Texas. 

Her father was employed as store clerk and cotton buyer. He also was a city clerk of Davis in 1903-4. In 1920, the family moved to Murray, Oklahoma. From there, they moved to Paul’s Valley, Garvin, Oklahoma in the late 1920s, where they lived with a family friend, Callie Ryan.

Alice Adair2Alice was an outgoing, active child who took a passion in performing, and by the age of 15 she was studying dancing, first in Oklahoma City and then in Dallas, Texas. To make ends meet she also started to model, even winning a beauty contest in Oklahoma City.

In about 1925, she left for the greener pastures – for California. She danced on several night club stages, and played the piano in the All Girls Orchestra. It was during her dancing days with the Marion Morgan troupe that she was noticed by casting director Paul Kelly.  Impressed by her beauty and dancing ability, Kelly got her the role of Aphrodite in the silent version of “Helen of Troy”. This catapulted her into an acting career. She took the stage name Alice Adair. 

Her parents decided to join her her in Los Angeles, and by 1930 the family (even her brother Raymond, but in his won home in Corona) was living in California.

CAREER:

Alice was one of many that never truly left the ranks of uncredited extras. The first movie role was arguably her biggest, as Aphrodite in the lost silent movie, The Private Life of Helen of Troy. If you think that one is obscure, just take into account Alice’s next feature, None But the Brave, a lost silent film nobody knows anything about.

Alice Adair1Alice graduated to talkies with the rest of Hollywood in The Wild Partythe first Clara Bow sound picture. Like many pretty extras, Alice played a student (she had a name, Maizie, but was still not credited). The cute movie tells the story of a typical wild college bunch that finds out there is more to life than partying and drinking. The Saturday Night Kid will only be remembered as the first credited appearance of Jean Harlow, as even the top tier leads (Clara Bow and Jean Arthur) cannot save a formulaic (two girls after the same man) story.

Skip to 1931, and Alice was feature d in the first big western, Cimarron. Yet, she was lost in the sea of extras. A better chance at recognition came in her next two roles in Bing Crosby comedy shorts, I Surrender Dear and One More Chance. The first had her uncredited, but the second had her in a small but notable female role. Unfortunately, this opportunity did not lead to a bigger and better career. The proof: a uncredited role in Night World, one of many movies about prohibition era bars. What Price Hollywood? was a much better movie, one of the earliest films dealing with the dark side of Tinsel Town. The cast is absolutely first class – stunningly pretty Constance BennettLowell Sherman in perhaps his best role, and the handsome but hard-core Neil Hamilton. But, again, Alice was uncredited.

Alice again scored a top movie with A Farewell to Arms – with Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper – by far the best retelling of Hemingway’s book. Well, when you fly high, you often hit the ground brutally – Alice did just that by appearing in one of the worst comedies ever filmed, Hypnotized. Nothing need to be said about this disaster where the two leads appear in blackface! Pick-up was a typical Sylvia Sidney movie of the early 1930s – the poor girl is a magnet for all bad things – she suffers through numerous tragedies and cries her fair share of tears. George Raft and his slick manner “up” the movie a bit but not enough to make it a hit.

Alice retired from Hollywood after this, and only appeared in one more film in 1935 – Asegure a su mujer was a Spanish language production for 20th Century Fox, totally forgotten today.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Alice was a lean girl is, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighting 114 pounds.

Alice had the honor of having a whole article about her (well, not exactly, but she was the main highlight of it):

is hailed as a top tier extra, the dress extra. She gets 15$ a day. She lives in a tiny bungalow with her mother. She says “I’m far more fortunate than most of the girls Recently, I’ve been working about three days a week, But even so, I don’t have much left at the end of a month, not enough to keep me going very long If I hit a slump. By the time I keep up my wardrobe, pay the rent, and make payment so the car there isn’t much left. It may sound that I am doing extremely well well to be able to afford a car. But I’, not. It’s necessary in order to get to a studio when I have a call. Some of them are miles away and it would be take hours to get to them on a bus. So you see, without the car I wouldn’t work at all. Most of the girl have them, sometimes two of three chipping in to buy one car. Then as a rule it isn’t much. But it gets them to the studio and back again. If it happens that they get calls from different studios for the same day. Then the first girl who is called gets the car. And the other have to pass their jobs unless they can find some other means of transportation.”
“The work itself isn’t hard. But the grief we suffer more than makes up for that. We stick because we hope some day we’ll get a break.”

And Alice tried real hard to get credited. It was at the same time funny and sad when it was announced, in 1932, that she will get a small part in “Farewell to arms” with just her legs appearing on screen, not her face. She was quoted:

 “I think I could make a success as a comedienne if given the chance. And you can never tell – this bit, even thought I’m acting with my legs alone, may be the break I’ve needed.”

While it did sometimes happen, Alice obviously had no idea how Hollywood worked. By 1935, she had had enough and retired to get married.

Alice married Charles John Moffat on December 24, 1935, in Los Angeles. Moffatt was born to in Illinois on August 15, 1910, to John and Emma Moffatt. He worked as a Alice Adair3buyer at a retail department store.

Alice and her husband lived in Glendale, Los Angeles, California. Her first daughter, Evelyn Louise, was born on October 29, 1936. Her second daughter, Mary Michele, was born on May 30, 1940. They employed a maid, Katherine Smith, in the 1930s and 1940s. Alice’s father, George, came to live with the family after his wife’s death, and lived so until his own death in 1949.

Alice lived the quiet life of a wife and mother, never hitting Hollywood again. Her husband died in November 1973, and she moved to Santa Barbara afterwards.

Berniece Moffat died on January 26, 1996, in Santa Barbara, California.

Alma Lloyd

Alma Lloyd4

Alma Lloyd is the proof that even the daughter of a well known director can’t really succeed in Hollywood if that “something” doesn’t happen. Her famous father aside, she was a pretty girl with beautiful curly hair and a trained actress – Alma had all the cards to win, but like many other talented girls, ended in total obscurity.

EARLY LIFE:

Alma Katherine Lloyd was born on April 3, 1914, in Los Angeles, California, only child of Frank Lloyd and Alma Haller. Her father, a Scotsman by birth, was to become a prominent director in Hollywood and win two Oscars. Her mother, Alma was noted as a performer at the musical comedy stage.

Alma was nicknamed Jimmie from earliest childhood, and grew up surrounded by the people from the movie industry. Her very first role was at the age of 6 months, when she had an uncredited appearance in a picture featuring her father as a villain.

Alma took a hiatus from Hollywood then, having a normal childhood, only continuing her movie output at the age of 9, when she appeared in Oliver Twist with Jackie Coogan.

In 1930, the family was living in Los Angeles, and Alma was sure she wanted to become a proper actress. After high school graduation, she decided upon a training at the Pasadena Community Playhouse to gain some experience before entering the movie scene once again. She played a season of summer stock in Martha’s Vineyard, and acted for the New York Theater Guild in George Bernard Shaw’sThe Simpleton of the Unexpected Isle”. In 1934, she felt she was ready to conquer Hollywood, and returned home.

CAREER:

Alma had a new Hollywood start with Jimmy and Sally, a typical Fox comedy of the age with James Dunn and Claire Trevor. Nothing grand but not too shabby either. Stars Over Broadway is a darker, grim musical with an unique brand of elegance, featuring several very good singers who never made it to top tier despite their obvious talent (Jane Froman and James Melton). Alma is uncredited here, but at least she appeared in a Busby Berkeley film! Dangerous, the highly charged drama that bough an Oscar for it’s female star, Bette Davis, was a step up for Alma, and indeed her next features find her credited. Freshman Love, a simple but charming college movie, had her as a pretty co-ed, and Song of the Saddle  veered her towards the musical western genre, not the best place for an actress to be (if she wanted to have a proper career that is).

Alma Lloyd1Colleen, a Ruby Keeler/Dick Powell movie, and not one of their stronger ones, again had her in the uncredited roster – a trend with continued in the nutty comedy with a great cast, Snowed Under, and The Singing Kid, a movie best known as Al Jolson’s parody of Al Jolson (in other words, a self parody).

Alma got a promotion (sort of) again with a credited role in I Married a Doctor, the idiotically named adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel, Main Street. All fans of Pat O’Brien have to watch this little gem where Pat gets to show his acting chops, supported by top tier talent like Josephine Hutchinson and the tragic Ross Alexander. The novel was a story of a city bred, forward thinking woman forced to live in a narrow minded small town – the movie misses several points, making the wife an annoying ditz who irks the townspeople.

Times Square Playboy, a half baked comedy with Gene LockhartThe Golden Arrow the pedestrian, not-different-than-a-millions-of-others romantic comedy and Bullets or Ballots, a very good gangster movie with an outstanding cast, again had Alma uncredited. The Big Noise  could have been Alma’s big shot to the stars as it was her first female leading role. Unfortunately, it ended as being a pleasant B movie and nothing more. Most of the notices went to Guy Kibbee and Warren Hull and Alma is barely even mentioned in the reviews.

Alma LloydIt was back to the uncredited gang again with The White Angel, a admirable Kay Francis  movie about Florence Nightingale. Public Enemy’s Wife, another predictable Pat O’Brien movie, followed. Anthony Adverse, an entertaining adventure romp with Fredric March and Olivia de Havilland proved to be her best known film of the mentioned. Alma’s contract was not renewed after this, and she decided to freelance.

Not much luck there. Due to her father’s influence, she had a small role in If I Were King, the expertly made biopic of the poet Francois Villon with the impossibly suave Ronald Colman in the lead and our favorite swashbuckling bad buy, Basil Rathbone, as a strong support. Alma took a hiatus after this, and only returned to the sound stage in an uncredited bit in Bullets for O’Hara, a movie that clearly shows that it’s star Joan Perry was much better off marrying Harry Cohn than resuming her movie career.

Alma retired to raise a family afterwards.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Alma’s own parents, Alma and Frank, remained married for 32 years in Hollywood, somewhat of a rarity. Sadly, when they decided to retire to a farm in 1952 she died not long after, and he returned to film-making, married his third wife, and worked until his death in 1960.

Alma Lloyd3As most young starlets, Alma was a press favorite and was even names as one of the girl who were shopping for stardom in 1938. As we can attest today, that stardom bit never came, but publicity for the girls back then was good, and actually a few of them went on to have decent careers (Marie Wilson and June Travis).

Alma dated Kelly Anthony, the son of a distinguished Anthony family, in 1936, but she chose to pursue her career instead of getting married.

Alma married Franklin Gray, a Hollywood screenwriter, in about 1938. Gray was born on January 11, 1912, in Kansas. The couple lived in Beverly Hills in 1940.

Alma and Franklin had four children:  Christopher Jameslloyd Gray, born on January 17, 1942, Antonia Katharine Gray, born on August 2, 1947, Jonathan Franklloyd Gray, born on May 26, 1951 and Miranda Jane Gray, born on October 26, 1954. They lived in Monterey, California, in the 1950s.

Franklin Gray died on July 18, 1979 in Santa Barbara, California. Alma did not remarry afterwards, and continued to live in Santa Barbara.

Alma Loyd Gray died on June 14, 1988, in Santa Barbara, California.

PS: Happy New Year everyone! All the best in 2014!

Happy New Year