Rosalind Marquis was talented, wholesomely pretty and a good singer, but suffered from bad career management at the hands of Warner Bros, failing to make a grade before her premature retirement.
Rosalind Saindon was born on September 11, 1915, in Chicago, Illinois, to Leopold Saindon and Cora Vadeboncoeur. She was the sixth of eight children (her siblings were Aldea, Ancel, Elmer, Leona, Catherine, Richard and James). Her father was without any high school educations and worked as a usher to support his large family. She had a happy childhood growing up in Chicago, being such a rambunctious child that she broke both of her legs twice!
Rosalind attended St. Patrick Academy in the city, and there her teachers discovered her incredible vocal abilities. She started to sing at a young age, but only after she won a beauty title at the Chicago Word fair was she noticed by showbiz people.
Rosalind moved to New York in cca 1934, primarily for the advancement of her career. There amassed an impressive resumee of singing appearances. As many other New York theater professionals, she decided to depart for Hollywood to get more fame, fortune and prominence.
Rosalind had a brief and unsatisfying Hollywood career, made all the more tragic when you understand that she was a extremity capable singer with tons of performances under her belt by the time she was 20 years old.
As a seasoned singer, she was put into “singing” role sin a variety of movies. The first was Bullets or Ballots, a very good gangster movie with Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell and Humphrey Bogart. What more do you need to ask with a cast like that? Rosalind plays a specialty number, thus makes no big impact on the story. This pattern woudl be often repeated in her other roles.
After that one, she was then cast in a silly but highly entertaining 1930s comedy, Earthworm Tractors, with the ever-dynamic Joe E. Brown. After this she finally came to the movies you would expect her to be cast in from the beginning – musicals. Busby Berkeley musicals, to be exact. And, it was her own bad luck that the Busby musical she landed a role in was one of his worst efforts – Stage Struck – a total waste of talented performers with a wooden female lead, Jeanne Madden (about whom I wrote in a previous blog post). Cain and Mabel was a tepid musical with the most unusual stars – Clark Gable and Marion Davies – both actors not known for their singing and dancing abilities. It’s a sumptuous movie financed by Marion’s lover, William Randolph Hearst, with lavish sets, costumes and dance numbers, but thin on the plot. Marion, while a great comedienne, was not cut out to be a musical star, lacking a certain emotional charisma needed to glue the viewer in that type of escapist fare. Gold Diggers of 1937, made by the time Berkeley was past his prime, was one of his best later movies but nothing to rave about. Rosalind’s career was very much looking like it would hit a dead end by then, or that she could be constantly cast as a “background extra” . Yet, things changed rapidly.
Rosalind reached the pinnacle of her career in Marked Woman, by far the most interesting, unusual feature she had appeared in up to then. It’s tough, bitter, often a movie so dark it’s painful to watch. The actors are excellent: Bette Davis a stunning turn as The Marked Woman of the title, and we have a top notch female support cast. The theme of prostitution, while present in Hollywood, was often in the background, a side story, barely mentioned, often a burden female characters had to carry, there more as a abstract barrier but never the center of attention. Marked woman threads bravely into this slippery territory and gives us multidimensional portrayals of all it’s characters. Prostitution aside, it’s an astoundingly profound message of hope and persistence in the face of eminent danger, the power and strength all men have within themselves to fight for something they believe in – even if their life and everything they hold dear is in peril. Due to it’s timeless theme, it stands very well today, as it did 70 years ago. Yet, the winning row did not continue. Her next feature, A Day at Santa Anita was a minor short movie, forgotten today.
Rosalind continued with more prominent roles, but in all the wrong movies – Talent Scout was a Jeanne Madden vehicle, but when you try to promote woman who despite her vocal abilities has no star power, everything is bound to fail. Too bad about the not-so-bad cast (Donald Woods and Fred Lawrence). With the failure of this movie, Rosalind’s days in Hollywood were numbered.
The rest of her filmography can only attest to this sad fact – That Certain Woman was a weak, soapy, highly unbelievable Bette Davis/Henry Fonda movie, with Rosalind so deep in the uncredited roster she’s almost impossible to notice. Radio City Revels, her last feature, was a amusing little musical, not a great movie by any stretch of imagination but enough for a pleasant viewing.
Rosalind could have stretched her acting career by firmly staying in the uncredited roster, or at least clawing her way to secondary, minor roles (she was talented enough to actually make it with the help of some right people and a few lucky breaks). Instead, she wisely chose to give up that dream and return to her singing career full time. Thus, by 1938, only 23 years old, she was out of Tinsel Town for good.
In the late 1930s, she appeared in a large number of variety shows and was a regular at the nightclub/hotel singing circuit. She sang back vocals for Edith Piaf when the french sparrow toured the US. It was during he performance in Kentucky that she met her future husband, married him, and gave up her career for good.
Rosalind was a petite woman, only 4 foot 11 inches tall, but wholesomely beautiful with clear blue eyes and a dazzling smile.
When she came to Hollywood in 1936, Rosalind got some serious publicity. Warner Bros publicity machine was at it’s absolute peak inn the late 1930s, and promoting young starlets was their specialty – to be poetic, no matter what the package contained, the wrapping was always first class. The perfect example was another Warner Bros wannabe star, Jeanne Madden, a talented singer but a sub-par actress. Rosalind got the same treatment, along with some other actresses. According to the press, she was constantly on the cusp of stardom. If you take a look at her filmography, you can see that’s a far fetched statement, but it sure made the headlines! The starlets made several publicity trips through the mid west in 1936 – Rosalind one of them of course. She was also a frequently feature din fashion spreads and Lois Lane’s beauty columns. As a former tomboy, she was very athletic and could do some mean cartwheels!
Rosalind suffered for two years from a bad appendix, but Hollywood put such a pressure on her she was unable to go home to Chicago to have it removed (she finally did in late 1937). She was very close to her family, especially her mother Cora, and they talked on the phone daily while Rosalind was in Hollywood.
Rosalind married her first husband, William L. Waller, a prominent musician, in New York City on February 18, 1936. Her Hollywood career just starting at that time, it was obvious they were living bi-coastal, she in California and he in New York. The marriage quickly disintegrated, and by June 1936 she was in the divorce court, seeking an annulment.
Rosalind married Edwin Dymond Axton in the late 1930s. The two met when she was singing back vocals for Edith Piaf in Kentucky. Axton, born on August 17, 1916, Louisville, Kentucky, was from a prominent family – his father was Edwin Dymond Axton, chairman of the Axton Tobbacco Company. He graduated from the Washington and Lee University and was working at the Crescent Panel Company in the 1940s.
Rosalind gave up her promising singing career to become a Kentucky socialite. The couple lived in Louisville and Jefferson, where the Axtons had a large country house. Edwin and Rosalind had three children, two girls and a boy: Rosalind, born in 1939, Lois, born in 1942 and Robert, born on December 28, 1946.
Rosalind and Axton divorced in the late 1950s, and Axton remarried in 1959. Rosalind herself remarried to Thomas Saxe Jr. in 1962. She moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, a wealthy WASP community. The couple lived there until the 1990s, when they moved permanently to Florida for the weather. Both of her daughters married in 1960s in New Canaan, to nice, clean cut upper middle class boys.
Thomas Saxe died in the early 2000s.
Rosalind Saxe died on June 12, 2006, in Naples, Florida.