Rosalind Marquis

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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.

EARLY LIFE:

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.

CAREER:

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. RobinsonJoan 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.

Rosalind5After 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, Rosalind1often 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.

Rosalind6Rosalind 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.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Rosalind was a petite woman, only 4 foot 11 inches tall, but wholesomely beautiful with clear blue eyes and a dazzling smile.

Rosalind2When 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.

Rosalind3Rosalind 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.

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Pat Dane

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Patricia Dane was s statuesque stunner with a fiery, passionate personality to match, and an edgy, dark quality that was never easy to cast in typical Hollywood movies where the heroines are nice and pure girls-next-door. Not surprisingly, her career was short and never achieved the heights her talent warranted.

EARLY LIFE:

Thelma Patricia Ann Pippins was born on August 4, 1918/19, in Jacksonville, Florida, to Flossy Montford Pippins and a father whose name I could not find. Her father died  almost immediately after her birth and in 1920 she was living with her grandparents, Sam and Rose Monfort, and her mother’s two brothers and two sisters.

Her mother married Mr. Byrnes (or Burns, depending where you find it), who adopted Patricia. She grew up in Florida.

Thelma went to Hollywood for the first time when she was 18, after Howard Hughes noticed her in Jacksonville. He got her a contract and new moniker – Patricia Dane. However, the newly christened Patricia couldn’t find the strength to wake up early enough to get on time for the make up cue, and was promptly sacked. She returned to the East coast, attended the University of Alabama for almost three years, but did not graduate. Then she again moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. She had no prior acting experience, but with her chestnut hair and flashing licorice eyes, she was sure she could make it…

CAREER:

Thelma was a tremendous talent wasted in (mostly) minor roles in (mostly) minor movies. It seems she herself wasn’t on her best behavior while in Hollywood, so the blame cannot be put solely on the doorstep of studio brass – from her earliest days in the movie industry there were signs of her being prone to alcohol and having an “attitude”.

candiddanebd9-1Pat had a curiously short “grooming” period for a girl who had no real acting experience before and only made it to Tinsel Town thanks to her looks. Her only uncredited parts were I’ll Wait for You  and Ziegfeld Girl, the latter a full blow extravaganza movie and the the other a small, intimate, touching drama. 

Pat was extremely lucky that she caught the chance to be in Life Begins for Andy Hardy . She brought a much needed edgy quality, something all the other saccharine, nice and dandy Andy Hardy actresses lacked. She is very easy to notice and remember in the sea of typical “good girls”.

Johnny Eager was a great movie for Patricia, and a good movie in general. Her tough style perfectly lent itself for the role of Johnny Eager’s gun moll, and even mediocre actors play it above their usual talents in the movie (Lana Turner, never a huge talent, was very good here, and Robert Taylor, handsome but never a top actor, gives one of his best performances).

Rio Rita was an Abbott and Costello vehicle with Kathryn Grayson in the femme lead. As it’s wartime movie, you can guess who the bad guys are. White not totally silly in scope, Abott and Costello bring their usual amount of humor and it makes for a decent movie.

Grand Central Murder finally got Pat the eagerly expected leading role. A gritty, dark and hardcore noir, there is no place for the usual fluff MGM liked to insert in most of it’s pictures. It’s clear that Patricia was perfectly cast as buxom, hard as nails dames that thrived on drama. For this reason, MGM was a wrong studio for her – Pat could have made it much better is she had signed with Warner’s. Van Helfin is a great partner for Pat, with his unusual facial features rubbing of her amazonian beauty.

Somewhere I’ll Find You again pitted Pat against Lana Turner for the romantic interest, this time it wasn’t Robert Taylor but Clark Gable. The film, his last before he went to serve in the US army, marks the decline of his career, something not unexpected after the extremely prolific decade he had in the 1930s. While it’s unfair to call it a bad movie, it’s simply too melodramatic and too big in scope.  

johnny-roi-des-gangsters-06-gIt seems that the studio brass did not take notice of Pat as a A class leading lady material, and her career suffered. She was cast as  a lead in B class, undistinguished movies. While being a B class movie wasn’t necessarily a handicap, many great movies were B class, MGM invested so little in them that often they had zero plot and barely any scenery!

Northwest Rangers was such a movie, with a plot seen zillion of times before, a western about the rift only a woman can cause between two men. While Patricia was adequate as the alluring songstress that easily turns heads, the movie was generally a flop. Her first leading effort tanked, and in an extremely competitive industry like Hollywood, it’s often enough to slip once to never get back on in the game. This happened to Patricia – she never played the female lead again, but was given some decent supporting roles. I Dood It was a bit better as one of Skelton’s worthwhile comedies. Joe Palooka in Fighting Mad was just one of the tons of Joe Palooka movies, relevant today only to the rabid fans of the character of the actor Joe Kirkwood Jr. Are You with It? was her last Hollywood movie for a while, a pleasant low budget musical with a carnival background.

There is an interesting piece of trivia on her IMDB page:

Signed to MGM in 1941. Admired by fellow actors after she brusquely told off an MGM studio executive. Changed name to Pat after this incident but only starred in minor roles and bit parts after 1945.

Could this have been the reason for her career decline? If it’s true, how sad… And what a waste!

Pat acted only sporadically after this. She made her TV debut in Fireside Theatre, but did not try to get into the thriving TV industry. Next year she appeared in an uncredited role in Road to Bali. Her last movie was also the last of it’s leading star, Humphrey BogartThe Harder They Fall

PRIVATE LIFE:

Patrica was a looker that that you could not help but notice. She even told somebody that every time she meets new men, they always try to seduce her on the spot. A bit over the top for sure, but the fact is she was a stunner is impossible to deny. However via that statement we find out a bit what kind of a personality she was… 

Anyway, she was well dated even by Hollywood standards, often by men who were idols of millions of teenage girls.

Patricia_Dane_in_Yank,_the_Army_WeeklyShe was courted, as most other starlets were, by Rudee Vallee as soon as she landed on California soil, hotly followed by a brief dalliance with Mickey Rooney, her costar in Andy Hardy. Mickey did not last, but Rudee seemed to favor her, and, while dating a storm with tons of other girls, still found time to go on an occasional rendezvous with her (all the way until October 1940). They had a tense moment not long after the final break up when, both with new dates, were seated table-to-table in a nightclub. Harry Ritz filled the void Rudee left, and in late 1940 she briefly dated Robert Stack, a dashing, socialite young actor.

Pat’s first steady, real beau came late in 1940 – Cedric Gibbons. Now, all of the man Pat dated up to then were young, carefree, not ready for commitment and doing it for fun with no serious intentions. Gibbons was the antithesis to all that fickleness – 20 years older than Pat, with a failed marriage under his belt (to the stunning Mexican beauty, Dolores Del Rio), professionally a well respected set designer and ultimately a hugely influential name in Hollywood, one could not just imagine him with a new starlet under his arm every weekend.  High born, he was a man of taste and sophistication, and the fact that Pat, not the most subtle and genteel of ladies, managed to snag him speaks of her own brand of unique charm. Already by June 1941 rumors were leaking the two would wed at soon as he and Dolores officially divorced.

Now, it’s hard to say what exactly happened between them that led to the final demise of the relationship some one year later. The chronology is also sketchy: They were firmly together until early 1942, broke up, got together again and then finally broke up in late summer 1942. There were some long standing rumor in Hollywood that Gibbons was a homosexual, and Pat herself was not the easiest woman to get along with.

Gibbons may have been the one who got away, but when one is young, pretty and in Hollywood, there is no shortage of eligible men. Anatole Litvak, a famous director playboy, courted her. But he was just an entree for the main dish – Tommy Dorsey, one of the best known band leaders of the 1940s. As Peter J. Levinson writes in his book about Dorsey, the two were seemingly made for each other :

Dane had an exhibitionist’s streak that appealed to Tommy’s own in-your-face personality. Neither of them cared what other people tough of them. They reveled in being  a part of the glamour that big band stardom represented and in addition what being signed to MGM represented to the world. At least Dorsey had a showpiece he had always wanted in a wife.

rr08All of this was a very shallow illusion, but back then, they were madly in love. Pat married Tommy Dorsey on April 9, 1943. It was a start of an intense, passionate marriage that was doomed to fail from the very beginning. Dorsey was a complex man – a genius musician, but somebody who lived on the edge and had no self control. He drank, ate and spent money like there was no tomorrow.

Pat wasted no time in truly becoming a big band leader’s wife. Singer Peter Marshall remembered her flashing her breasts from the wing of Hollywood Paladium while Tommy was performing. He was thrilled she was so free in flaunting them. She even flashed her glorious breasts at a young Mel Torme at Tommy’s urging. He was also very much impressed by her skills in the boudoir and not ashamed to talk about it in the public.

Dorsey made the headlines when he struck Jon Hall, accusing him of making advances towards his wife. Again, I have no proof and this is just my own personal opinion, but it seemed that Pat actually liked the attention of other guys and if not downright flirting with Hall, she at least behaved coquettish. Pair such a woman with a jealous, anger prone man and you have a very explosive combo. It is also worth noting that Tommy’s brother Jimmy knew Pat from before and disliked her immensely, even once showing a cake into her face.

The marriage failed for good in 1946. There were some short term reconciliations and much slap slap kiss kiss, but nothing could salvage an union between two fundamentally mismatched people. In 1947 Pat was already dating other man, like Arnold Kunody, the insurance charmer. The gossip mill linked her to screenwriter Casey Robinson, and caused him a serious rift with his wife, stunning ballerina Tamara Toumanova.

Pat and Tommy divorced in 1947 in Reno, Nevada. Typical for people who did not have a civil, peaceful break up but rather  a dramatic, volcanic termination, they could not stay away from each other even after all the legal necessities were ironed out. Press interpreted it as a possible reconciliation and re-marriage, but both were mature enough to see that would lead them nowhere.

It is without a doubt that Pat had a few extremely tempestuous years as Dorsey’s wife. It was a glamorous life, with famous musicians as their friends, loving fans and all that jazz, but ultimately it was destructive for both. Pat’s drinking got out of control, and Dorsey deteriorated physically.

danePat dated Winthrop Rockefeller, who was then involved with his future wife, Bobo. Carl Larson, a wealthy Canadian manufacturer, could have been the very thing Pat needed to slow down a bit. A serious businessman, he liked her so much that they were engaged after just several months of dating in September 1948. 

Instead of sticking with the normal guy who would give her some much needed stability, Pat hooked up with Robert Walker, the brilliant but notoriously problematic actor, former husband of Jennifer Jones.  On October 22, 1948,  they were arrested for drunk driving in Hollywood after giving the cops a chase. They fled on foot when officers halted Walker’s car which had been weaving down a street. The negative publicity cost her the engagement ring she got from Larson.  This caused Pat to reconsider her and Robert’s relationship, and end it abruptly.

Pat continued her search for the right guy in 1949. Horace Schmidlapp, former husband of Carole Landis, was the first on her list, followed closely by Bob Lowry, former husband of Jean Parker.

In 1950, Pat started a rewarding and successful relationship with Bill Morrow, comedy writer for Bing Crosby. It seems that Bill helped her regain some foothold, give up drink and try to resume her career. It was great while it lasted, but they broke up amicably in late 1954.

In 1955 Pat dated Andy McIntrye, ex of Marilyn Maxwell. Next came John Hodiak. In 1957 she was seen with Marshall Shellhardt, producer Dave Siegel and band leader Pete Rugulo. Pat returned to her old flame, Bob Lowery, in 1958. There were very close to the altar for several months, but it never came that far.

444cuq1i59li44ulIn the meantime, she suffered a boating accident in 1956 that stopped her from working, and she lived off the insurance policy she inherited from Dorsey.

No longer a working actress by then, not married to anyone of any fame, Pat was quickly forgotten by the papers in the 1960s. After her mother died, Pat returned to Florida. She got a job in the local library and later the courthouse. Witnesses often saw her at the local store, drinking MD 20/20 out of a coffee cup and chain smoking filter less Pall Malls. Hollywood was a distant memory by then.

Patricia Dane died on June 5, 1995 in Blountstown, Florida, USA. Her ashes were scattered at Jacksonville Beach, Florida.